Tag Archives: second acts

Taking Care of the Caretaker

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

PICT1615Some of us go willingly into the role of caretaker, and some of us are thrust into it without being consulted. Examples of voluntary caretaker roles are: parent, teacher, nurse, pet owner (yes, owners of sick pets have been found to have more than normal stress, anxiety, and depression.)

Some people deliberately choose caretaking involvements, and thrive on them. But, what about when the role of consuming, full-time or almost full-time caretaker ensnares us when we hadn’t planned on it, hadn’t desired it, and it does not fit our personality type?

A typical scenario might be when an ailing spouse requires ongoing, long-term care. There may be no one else available to step into the caretaker role other than the remaining, healthy spouse. Other examples might be when children have to care for an aging parent, or when parents have to care for a child who has become permanently disabled. We’re not talking here about just bringing them lunch in bed. We’re talking about hands-on care of their bodily needs and functions, entertaining them, transporting them, and maybe even supporting them financially.

You might be a caretaker from afar. Maybe you are responsible for someone in a placement of some sort or who resides a long distance from you. Perhaps you’re the go-to-person for any problems, crises, concerns, questions, etc. Although your life is not necessarily hampered on a continual basis, that responsibility is always capable of demanding instant attention from you, superseding anything else you had planned. You live with an underlying tension, never knowing when your remote caretaker duties will kick in.

You may feel overwhelmed and no longer able to cope with that role no matter how much you are concerned about your charge? You might find yourself becoming resentful, angry, bitter, impatient, irritable, stressed out, etc. This can lead to negative behaviors toward your dependent such as yelling, ignoring, pushing, or worse.  After that, you may feel guilty as he/she did not choose to require caretaking and is helpless to help you. Cyclical emotions such as these can spiral you into depression which renders you less capable of being an effective caretaker.

To the outside world, sympathy and attention usually goes to the sickly or helpless one. People rarely have much left for the caretakers, or even think of them as needing any. Yet caretakers burn out. Caretakers may become sick themselves simply from the job of caretaking.

So what can you do to break this cycle and stay relevant and capable in your role as a caretaker?  How can you take care of yourself, not only for you, but for your charge? Both you and he/she need you to remain strong emotionally and physically.

You can seek respite from time to time. Find outside activities that bring you pleasure and enjoyment. Take breaks from the caretaking business just as anyone with a job has weekends or other days off and takes periodic, longer vacations. In short,  refresh yourself on a regular basis.

To do this, you need someone or several someones to step in as a substitute caretaker while you’re gone. Start seeking suitable candidates. These might be your children; other family members; friends; neighbors; members of your church, synagogue, or temple; hired help; volunteers from an organization; home-health aides referred by an insurance plan or a governmental agency, etc. You must do this for yourself, even if you feel that no one else can take care of your ward as well as you can.

By taking better care of yourself, you are indirectly taking better care of the one  who is dependent on you. You return to duty refreshed, in a better mental state, and with a better outlook knowing that your next break will come soon.

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Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: Cindy Funk via Visualhunt /  CC BY

 

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Boredom

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Cat yawningWe come into this world yawning with boredom, and go downhill from there.  Recently, in my philosophy class, we were having a discussion about whether we would want to live an extra hundred years. One class member commented that he would not want to do so, because by that time, he probably would have done or learned everything interesting, and life would be just too boring.

We all laughed while nodding in agreement. Yes, we scurry from boredom the moment we encounter it. Humans seem to need constant engagement, constant entertainment, constant stimulation.

We don’t just sit around and do nothing. When we are not actively involved in a goal oriented pursuit, we will grab a book or magazine, turn on the television, check our iPhones, surf the web, go shopping, and on and on. We flee boredom like it’s a disease. The idea of nothing new to learn, nothing new to experience, only eternal boredom is horrifying.

I am always weighing the amount of stress I put myself under against the boredom that I can’t tolerate. I’m trying hard not to cram too much into my life, but it an ongoing challenge. Every time I hear about something that sounds exciting, I want to get involved. Like usual, I’m involved in too much stuff. It’s so difficult to pick and choose, because it’s all interesting.  Everyone lives with the dichotomy of that struggle between boredom and stress.

A few years ago, a friend visited me with her daughter and two young grandchildren.  We chatted for a short time whereupon the oldest child announced, “I’m bored.”  My friend’s daughter quickly wrapped up our conversation, telling the child, “Okay, okay, we’re going.” I’m not passing judgment one way or another on her parenting skills.  However, the child could have been encouraged to walk around my house observing all the interesting things I have displayed on shelves and walls.

So, how do we grownups combat boredom?  We can whine to anyone who will listen, pandering to be entertained.  Or, we can adopt the old adage about making lemonade out of lemons.  We can walk around wherever we happen to be, observing all the interesting things there.  We might actually learn a thing or two or ten, or at least have a pleasant experience. We can, also, accept the stress and learn to flourish under it, remembering that we can back away whenever we desire.

 

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Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: Amanda Braz via Visualhunt /  CC BY
 

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Man in a Bucket

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Man in a BucketEach of us lives in a bucket–many buckets to be exact: our homes, our schools, our jobs, our extended hood, etc. Buckets are the catchment areas in which we roam, but they are for the most part relatively circumscribed. Some buckets are very small like that of the tree trimmer in the photograph, and some cover miles.  Our various buckets bump up against each other, and we move from one to the next.

It is our responsibility to participate in keeping our buckets pleasant, tidy, positive, and all other adjectives we can think of to describe a comfortable life. We do so not only for ourselves, but for others who might share them with us.

I remember standing at a bus stop once with a man who was also awaiting the bus. He was eating some sort of fast food, and dropped the wrappers as he finished each item.  I watched him as he opened his fist and, with as little effort as possible, let the paper, cup, or container float to the ground.  In a short time, there was a small circle of trash surrounding him, but he was oblivious to it.

What if we all did that rather than throwing our discards into the nearest trash can? We would soon be maneuvering our way through our bucket by scaling a garbage heap. It is an unpleasant and unnecessary way to live.

How about the emotional trash we discard in our buckets? Are we going to spend all of our time posturing and fighting with everyone else? What if we all did that?  Our buckets would soon be filled with anxiety, nervousness, upset, and negative feelings, also an unpleasant and unnecessary way to live.

Remember to do your part to care for your particular buckets, and encourage those close to you to do the same.  Buckets can be a comfortable, joyful cocoon, or they can be a stressful, distressing jail.

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Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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Wrangling Seniors

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving my lecture, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement,” on May 12, 2017, 1 – 3 pm, at Diablo Valley College Emeritus Program (Pleasant Hill Campus), 321 Golf Club Rd, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523.  Cost: $16 – pre-registration required.

Now, on to my blog:

WalkerA dear friend and her husband from out of state visited me last weekend. I have known them for over forty-five years and hadn’t seen them for quite awhile. We were young and healthy when we met, and we have aged together over the decades.

They are older than I am and have become quite frail. Still, they managed to board a plane with the help of airport wheelchair attendants and arrive at my place by taxi with the aid of the driver. A good tip helped, I guess.

I opened my door to two seniors, both upright with the assistance of their respective walkers. Although a senior myself, I am in good physical condition, and I was pained by their deterioration since I had last seen them. Nevertheless, I was excited by their visit and anxious to show them around my new ‘hood.

It quickly became evident that for each excursion, I would be the pack animal, collapsing and loading two walkers into my car trunk and unloading them upon arrival at our destination not to mention securing seat belts and the like. Ditto on the return ride. All progress was excruciatingly slow. All plans had to be made with time buffers to allow for the lengthy preparation both before and after the event.

I, also, fell into the role of fetch person as their ability to stand up and make their way to get the sugar, a Kleenex, a shawl for warmth, etc. was so much more quickly accomplished by swift me. It reminded me of what my son and daughter-in-law go through with their young children (my adorable grandchildren): strollers, snacks, bathroom breaks, all events planned around rest time, etc.

At the end of each day, I was exhausted, impatient, and irritable. It’s tiring being a wrangler whether your charges are horses or seniors. I tried hard to keep in perspective what I was getting out of the experience. It was such a gift that my dear friends who had been there to nurture and care for me through the years had made the extreme effort to visit me. It was a privilege to help them experience a trip away from their now confined living quarters in an assisted living home. It was a way to pay them back for the love they had always shown me.

Modify your viewpoint toward the elders in your life. Yes, they have become childlike in their needs and even in their behavior. Have patience; be loving, kind, and giving. Don’t forget what they did for you in earlier years which probably caused them to become exhausted, impatient, and irritable.

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Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: Anne Worner via Visualhunt.com /  CC BY-SA

			

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Nature’s Floor Show

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Bird in tree outside my window 3-16-17I was doing my morning back exercises when I glanced through my window and spied this guy hanging out on a nearby tree branch. What could be more inspiring? I am regaled lately with a variety of birds hovering, preaching, pecking, warbling, chirping, soaring, and all of the other things birds do. I have never been a “birder,” but I am rejoicing in their exaltation. They tell me that spring is here, and that I, too, can exalt in it.

Do you look out the window of your house, car, office, or any other structure in which you find yourself with glass interruptions in its solidity? I don’t mean a glance while you’re doing much more important business. I mean really look!

Tree outside my window 3-15-17

There’s so much to see. Here’s another photo from my window of a glorious flowering tree. The plants, bushes and trees dress up in springtime for our pleasure. Nature offers us a free floor show.  Don’t forget to attend.

We all have interesting things to observe around us wherever we live. Here are some we might spy looking out of windows: hills or mountains, children playing, passersby strolling, dogs running, cars of all shapes and colors, and on and on.

Let the visual panoply engulf you. Feel yourself drawn into the details of a leaf, a bird searching the grass for food, a ball bouncing away from its thrower. These sights and sounds are cleansing. Be mindful; notice as you are being swept into the experience; allow it to overtake you. Don’t worry, you can always go back to that important business you left, refreshed and invigorated.  And, this psychic infusion doesn’t require dipping into your wallet.

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Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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Secrets

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Whispering photoKeeping secrets is something we all do for various reasons.  It usually starts with worrying about negative blowback we might experience if others knew the truth.  This can be fear of being judged and found wanting, fear of being pitied, fear of reprisals, etc. The reality is that whatever our oh-so-important secret, others usually spend only moments on our situation and then revert back to ruminating about their own lives.

There’s a saying: “A secret is something you tell one person at a time.” Most of us have a need to unburden by sharing our secret with someone whom we think we can trust with it.  Although we swear our trusted agent to secrecy, we worry he/she might deliberately or by accident tell another.  Sometimes, we instruct our agent not to share our secret only with select persons.

That puts an additional burden on our designee not only to live his/her own life with all its attendant stresses, and yes, even secrets, but to remember not to share our secret and with whom not to share it.  That’s called “dumping,” people.

It’s not easy being the dumpee.  The one placed in that role now has a new stressor:  keeping your secret.  It’s hard enough keeping their own, but now they have the worry of yours they might accidentally spill, potentially incurring your wrath and/or damaging the relationship.  Sometimes, the dumpee may deliberately spill your secret for their own gain—remember Linda Tripp?  Google her if you don’t.

Secrets range from tiny ones to great big ones. The degree of weight of the secret is usually decided by the owner.  However, it’s often not given the same level of importance by those learning it.

The keeping and managing of secrets is a wearisome process.  We must remember who we told and didn’t tell, why it was so important to keep the secret, what to do if others learn the secret, what we must do if we want to divulge the secret to all and get on with our lives, and on and on.

Will we ever reach the time where the matter kept secret loses it power over us?  How about now?  In my memoir, I shared my secret of feeling self-conscious and inadequate in my younger years, and of having crippling stage-fright for so much of my life.  When I had the nerve to tell the world, those bonds lost their power over me.  Revealing our secrets can be so liberating.

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Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: See-ming Lee 李思明 SML via Visual hunt /  CC BY-SA

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Strutting Your Stuff

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

turkey-on-my-patio-3-4-17This guy knows how to strut his stuff. He appeared on my patio a few days ago, staying about fifteen minutes as he fluffed out his feathers, fanned his tail, and walked from one end to the other and back again, periodically stopping to turn around slowly so he could be seen from all sides by potential, admiring onlookers. I grabbed my camera to memorialize his display. How could any female resist him? I know I couldn’t.

Another euphemism for strutting your stuff is “tooting your own horn.” Some humans are good at it, like Tom here. Successful practitioners know how to display their talents and attributes. Others are too shy or embarrassed while wishing they could and envying those able to do so with such seeming ease. Some withdraw from even considering such behavior, finding it too prideful and self-indulgent. However, let’s consider if occasional strutting or tooting can aid in our fulfillment.

We all need attention; we all want to attract others. That is neither positive nor negative; it is simply a human trait. With over seven billion of us on this earth and counting, the competition is fierce. So, how do we get some of that elusive, oh-so-valuable attention?  We must do something to make others notice us in some way.

Yes, many overdo it, like Tom. It gets old when someone seems to be constantly bragging or promoting him/herself. Not everyone has mastered the art of subtlety or sophistication in  seeking attention. We really don’t need to puff up our bearing and prance around in the best finery we can afford, folks. But, we can do other things to bring attention, accolades, and praise to ourselves. We can shine in areas where we seem to have talent. Even introverted people can find quieter, less conspicuous ways to shine.

Think of something you can do well. Seek out opportunities to display or utilize that ability  where others will notice. Allow yourself to experience the rewards of a compliment, praise, or kudos.

Attention from others is nourishing. Remember to be generous and not hog it all if you’re the aggressive type. If you’re the timid type, remember that you deserve attention, too. And, let’s remember to practice tolerance toward those who seem so needy of attention. We are all on that scale somewhere.

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Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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