- A work of parent and child, and of lovers
- Cancer and gentle loving metaphors
- Let us be gentle with one another
- Four meanings of your life?
- The profession of people meeting well:
- Completing our living is peeling an onion:
- a warp and woof you cannot unweave
- Observation Status Fact Sheet
- The classical guides in dying
- Why does it matter?
- The end of life conversation is about justice–
- When settling in to tell a story to children
- We’re all amateurs
- While you’re yet living….
- Great quantities of unknown
- Less a technician am I than lover & hearer & fan
- What is the work people are doing dying?
- June 2013
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- December 2012
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- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
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Category Archives: Aging
I think if I were older and unable to move around much, I would want to meet with a spiritual director and probably artists to work on my creativity and open my spirit.
Take Flowers: A friend of mine has a secret for getting good care for her uncle at the nursing home and hospital: she takes flowers and says “Thank you” to the staff who are helping her uncle. She takes cookies every once in a while, and puts them out at the nurse’s station, with a thank you note “From the family of….”
Another friend got a birthday cake from the best local bakery, decorated with “Thanks to Mary, Suzie, Bill, Danny for getting Mom to her 92nd birthday!”
Be inventive. Find ways to recognize good caring people. Especially to their bosses.
Take Names: When you are advocating for your Dad at the nursing home or doctor’s office, get personal. Find out the names of the people who are providing care.
Not to know whom to sue or complain about, but to be human, to put a human face on Dad and you and them.
Not just the doctors: the nurses, the aides, even the person who mops the floors. All are providing care for your family, all know things you don’t, and all have some ways to help that can surprise you.
Use their names when you speak with them. Write them down so you remember.
As Ira Byock says in The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life, “Befriend them if possible. Tell them about your father—what name he likes to be called, what he did for work, what he loves most in life—and bring in pictures of your father in his prime. Let them know you appreciate their care, and thank them for things they do to engage and pamper your father.”
Stay Put: What do you do when the doctor rushes out and you did not have a chance to ask all your questions? Ira Byock, in his latest book, The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life says “If the doctor is rushed and leaves the exam room before answering these basic questions, stay put. They need the room and someone will come back to speak with you. If someone in the office gets annoyed, you needn’t raise your voice. If you wish, you have my permission to blame me. Tell them Dr. Byock said it would be unsafe to leave the office before clearly understanding these basic parts of the doctor’s plan for your mother’s care.”
Stay put. Good advice. Unsafe to leave: even better advice. So many people, my mother in law among them, are afraid to question the doctor and other medical staff: if I anger them then what will they do to my husband?
But the fact is most people want to give good care. They are harried by the pressure of modern medical business which says you must see 20 people a day, you must keep moving.
So it is up to you to keep your mother safe. If you are confused, muddling through cannot be good for either of you. Nor safe.
Byock’s advocacy mantra is “Be informed, prepared, polite, and persistent.” Polite and persistent. Sounds almost Zen: Don’t just go and do: stay put. But it is practical. And safe.
Each can choose to not ever be elderly; better, each can choose to be an Elder of the Tribe.
We cannot plan for the future
—Unknowable as it is—
We can notice its aroma
Scan into the morning mist
Dress for the weather
In our society we have equated elderly with infirmity, in-valid-ity. Yet other times and cultures have learned this is a time of rich harvest and that elders are a precious resource.
We can know velocity of our lives and our financial position and our direction, but at most two at a given time: the third will be undefinable.