Check it Out!

Mom’s moving in

It is important to consider the living environment you can provide when you are considering moving a parent into your home, according to the Caregiving Support Services article How to Prepare your Home When a Senior Loved One is Moving in:

The article discusses the following factors:

  • Financing
  • Storage space
  • Bedroom with single floor living capability
  • Handicapped accessible bathroom near bedroom
  • Look for Ways to Make Mealtime Easy
  • Make way for mobility devices
  • Consider outside spaces

As detailed in What to Do about Mama? my husband and I felt good that we were able to provide his mother with a great living environment when she moved into our home. Very little preparation was needed.

David and I gave Mom our first-floor master bedroom suite—bedroom, bathroom, and sitting room—and filled the rooms with her
furniture and doll collection.

What to Do about Mama? p. 12

Another caregiver reported the following:

My husband and mother-in-law discussed the options. She had
the choice to move to assisted living, or to utilize her finances to
add a handicapped-accessible living area onto our home, which
was what she opted to do. We built a large living area with a
handicapped-accessible bathroom that extended off our existing
family room so we could provide the assistance she needed.

What to Do about Mama? p. 125

Ironically, some years later that caregiver was able to return home to live after a traumatic brain injury because she had that living area and a a 24-hour caregiver.

There are many factors to consider when moving a parent into your home, but having a safe personal space to live is certainly important.

Journaling and stress relief

The Daily Caring article 6 Benefits of Journaling for Caregivers lists the following reasons to journal:

  • Reduce caregiver stress
  • Improve your health
  • Find solutions to tough challenges
  • Make caregiving easier
  • Resolve arguments with other people
  • Get in touch with yourself

Visit the following link for the complete Daily Caring article

During my caregiving experience I was active in a caregiver’s support group run by a local hospice. One of the group leaders suggested to me that I keep a journal. I found journaling to be a means to finally put an end to the incessant agonizing and scrolling (obsessive thinking) I was experiencing.  After my caregiving responsibilities came to an end I was pondering over my journal and other caregiving records when I thought, “I have all this stuff; what can I do with it?”  It was then that I decided to write a book about caregiving.  It was my hope that others could benefit from what I had learned. 

Another caregiver support technique is journaling, a method found to have a positive impact on physical well-being as well as emotional health. Writing about stressful events helps you to both face and deal with the situations that negatively impact your health. It knocks down the walls you have built so that you can gain understanding of yourself and your life circumstances. Writing about difficult problems and feelings (not only your own, but those expressed by the “others”)—rather than stewing over them (“scrolling”)—helps you gain understanding about other points of view. Writing about painful emotions helps decrease the power they have over you, so you feel more at ease, able to move beyond the past and stay in the present. Journaling is also an effective tool to help you resolve differences with others.

What to Do about Mama? p.183

“It’s good to do what my co-author did, and I didn’t—in spite of being a professional writer—keep a journal. This will help give you strength, put things in perspective, and help you remember.” Barbara Trainin Blank

Hugs I am Missing

I’m glad I still have your hugs, Grandpa, but we are sure missing the others.

As Our Parents Age
Timely Topics on Aging for Adult Children & Everyone Else

The following article on the As Our Parents Age website totally hits the nail on the head summing it up perfectly with: “But the inability to have interaction with much-loved family members? Excruciating.” However, I would like to add an additional perspective.

When my brother and I were young, our father went to the Mayo Clinic for treatment of advanced Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. His diagnosis had been kept secret from him, as was common in the late 1950s-early 60s. He was informed of his condition while there, and died a short while later. We never spoke to or saw him again. Now, many decades later, my brother is ill. Because of COVID-19, I am tormented by the fear that I will neither see nor embrace him again. (This is certainly a scenario that too many families are experiencing in our world today.)  He, too, is on my list of who I am missing.  

Caregiving in the Time of CoVid-19, #18: Missing Children and Grandchildren

Ask just about anyone my age to describe what is most difficult about this increasingly long period of CoVid-19 social distancing (63 days at my house), and just about everyone mentions their separation from adult children and grandchildren. And my friends with new babies in the family ache to reach out and touch them.

It’s frustrating, and it hurts. Worse still, there is no end on the horizon to this distancing, at least not for grandparents. Six months? Twelve months? Eighteen months? No one knows.

Sure we talk with our families on FaceTime, and yes, we laugh and mail trinkets, books, and birthday presents. But in reality, there is no substitute for being there with them. Friends tell me that every call makes them worry about one thing or another or consider potential ways to be helpful to family members. Yet, we cannot do anything.

And today, on a Zoom discussion about the pandemic, medical and epidemiology experts, noted that until there is a vaccine if we do see our grandchildren, we may have to refrain from hugging.

Seriously? Can grandparents really refrain from hugging? Grandparenting is defined by hugging.

Staying home hasn’t been that difficult. Spending less time doing errands is not a big challenge. Finding things to do that fill up the time — easy. Exercising is a cinch since I have all the time in the world and can take pictures of spring flowers. Postponed vacations?  Not a big deal. Connecting with friends via text or Zoom or email, or on an old-fashioned phone does not substitute for face-to-face, but it works during this time of social distancing. Watching or listening to Dr. Fauci, Gov. Cuomo, and Prime Minister Trudeau — great fun, and I learn so much. I am fortunate and privileged.

But the inability to have interaction with much-loved family members?  Excruciating.

Another Free Kindle Weekend

Free Kindle download TODAY, May 15th through SUNDAY, May 17th

A Mother’s Day Message

Today we are celebrating Mother’s Day during the coronavirus pandemic. My husband and I did this via ZOOM with our three grown children, their spouses, and our nine grandchildren from ages six to sixteen. Of course I couldn’t give them hugs and kisses, and it was a little bit hectic — but it was good. Good because we still have each other. Too many do not. So today I am sharing three articles about loss.

The coronavirus has not only taught us about the loss of those we love, but also about the loss of opportunity. For those of you have lost your mothers, especially with words left unsaid, I am sorry. For the rest of you, remember to tell your mother what’s in your heart and not just in your head.

The Swing — A poem by Catherine Galascione and painting by Sally Bullers

If she were the young person she saw
when she closed her eyes and her face relaxed
smooth like the surface of a pond,
she would be flying through the air
on a swing, slicing through sunlight
and shadow, smiling
because no part of herself hurt
or called out for release.

But the air gently flattens her clothes
to her body, like the delicate palpitations
of her inner physician, defining her pain,
revealing the shadow near her heart
like a cloud obscuring the sun,
or the high branches of a tree
she could nearly touch with her toes.


Don’t Forget!

Mother’s Day Weekend Special
Two days left to download What to Do about Mama? free from Kindle.


The Sunbury Press Books Show–covid-19-and-the-family

COVID-19 and the Family

The first in a series of programs based on
After the Pandemic, Visions of Life Post COVID-19

Barb Matthews, co-author of What to Do about Mama?
represented the senior perspective with her essay:
“COVID-19 through the Eyes of a Grandmother.”

Mother’s Day weekend reminders:

What to Do about Mama? Expectations and Realities of Caregiving


First, we would like to thank you for supporting the second edition of What to Do about Mama? To show our appreciation, WTDAM will be available free to download on Kindle throughout this upcoming Mother’s Day weekend. WTDAM may not be a book that you WANT, it is a book that you NEED–even if you think you don’t need it yet, or that you are too darn busy, or you just want to put it all behind you. What to Do about Mama? not only has a lot of useful information, but also a great deal of validation for the thoughts and feelings related to both sides of caregiving—providing and receiving.

After the Pandemic: Visions of Life Post COVID-19

After the Pandemic: Visions of Life Post COVID-19   has been released. Twenty-five Sunbury Press authors contributed twenty-seven chapters about the possible impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on society. Based on their experiences in a variety of fields, they provide their projections about the changes facing us, many of which have already been underway for some time. It is available to online and brick and mortar bookstores worldwide, including through the Sunbury Press store, Barnes and Noble (online), and also Amazon. 

SunburyPressBooksShow–COVID-19 and the Family

Saturday, May 9, 2020 @ 9:00 AM on the BookSpeak Network
Panel Discussion with Lawrence Knorr, Publisher, moderating.

Sunbury Press Books Show–COVID-19 and the Family

Forgiveness was easy for you then–why isn’t it now?

Coronavirus has made it painfully clear:  Life is fragile. Life if unpredictable. Do you have unfinished business or need to make amends? This could be your last best opportunity—the time to do it is now. Denial and procrastination are pathways to regret.

See the AgingCare article “Caregivers can Celebrate Mother’s Day With Forgiveness” by Carol Bradley Bursack. It is sage and timely advice—especially for mothers and daughters—and it really hitting home with me this year in a way I never expected.

  • The sainted ideal of motherhood is a myth.
  • Mothers are only human and therefore have flaws. Your mother may have been a wounded soul who overcame her difficulties the best she could.
  • We need to understand, love, and forgive ourselves for our perceived failures. We need to try to understand, love and forgive our mothers for their imperfections, too.
  • Perfection is hard to define and is a matter of perspective.
  • Most mothers did their best, and most of us come to realize this.
  • Remember to look at your relationship through eyes of appreciation, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness.
  • We are the sum-total of our life experiences, so nothing is completely forgotten. Forgiveness does not equate with forgetting.
  • Learn from mistakes—both yours and those of others.
  • Reaching forgiveness is important. It is needed in order to lose the guilt and to understand and forgive ourselves.
  • Anger and resentment make you bitter/disagreeable; they interfere with your ability to improve your own life.
Remember:  Deal with this now while the TIME is still available to you.

Taking Some of the Fear Out of Dying Alone

When I look at the obituary page, I always think “how nice” when I read that someone died surrounded by family. But that does not always happen, especially in these times of coronavirus when families are often separated from their dying loved ones. Thanks to Barbara Karnes for sharing information about what happens at the time of death and for making the thought of dying alone less frightening.

Described below is from a hospice nurse sharing her experience with her own mother’s death.

I sat vigil for most of the twenty-four hours. My husband, daughter, and son were with me for most of the time. I sent them home around eight p.m. All the clinical signs of impending death were there, but she didn’t want to let go. She was unresponsive, but at one point, when my family was with me, I attempted to do mouth care with a sponge/stick. From under the sheet, up came her fist, which she shook at me. We looked at one another and laughed. She was still mad at me. That was so Mom. Around five a.m., I had this strong feeling that she did not want me there. It was so clear. I packed up, alerted the nurses, and drove home. I had just fallen asleep when the nursing home called me to say that she passed. I did not feel any guilt. I knew that was what she wanted.

What to Do about Mama p. 286