Away From Home for the Holidays

I looked out at the setting sun, and twisted the ring Pop Pop gave me, the one I always wear on my right hand. I forgot the candles. I cannot believe I forgot the candles. It was the first night of Hanukkah, and I had failed. I was without candles, matches and a menorah. But more importantly, I was without my family and friends. I felt fortunate to be traveling in Thailand, where I’m studying for the year (so very …

Why Phoning Your Children Just Isn’t Enough

The medium is the message, Marshall McLuhan famously noted. And in a touch screen world, our relationships with our adult children improve with the more communications media we use. While millennials enjoy chatting on the phone or Skype, they also want parents to “lurk” on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media so we can follow (not intrusively, though) their lives. That’s the finding of a study by University of Kansas doctoral student Jennifer Schon. “We found that young adults …

During the Holidays, Let’s Remember Family Caregivers

It’s that time of year when millions of families begin enjoying new scents from the kitchen, the excitement and anticipation from the children, and the sights and sounds of celebration and merriment from multiple directions. But the hustle and bustle of the holidays can be especially difficult for those caring for a loved one who is almost totally dependent on them. In fact, about 42 million people around the United States are totally or partially responsible for a family member who …

What’s Different About Family Caregiving Today?

This is a pivotal time. Converging sociodemographic trends and more complex care needs are contributing to historically unprecedented challenges in family care of older people in the U.S. For most of human history, requiring help in old age was uncommon. As Atul Gawande writes in Being Mortal, “The natural course was to die before old age.” Only 41 percent of people born in 1900 survived to age 65. In sharp contrast, an estimated 84 percent of people born in 2010 …

Caring for Papa

When their grandfather’s health declined, Christina and her brother, Michael, stepped in to care for their “Papa.” Together they did everything he needed to stay at home, where he wanted to be. Christina shared: “Most of us don’t consider ourselves formal caregivers; we are just taking care of our family. But what we did know is that taking care of Papa was hard, stressful and confusing. We didn’t know what services were available or how to screen providers. And we …

A Family Caregiver Thanksgiving Story: In Rehab

My pop was fond of responding to any “How are you?” inquiry like this: “I’ve never been better in my life!” My mom shared her wisdom when sending me off to grade school: “Elaine, never let anyone think you aren’t having the best day of your life!” I was raised with the power of positive thinking. And through the years, I was consistently inspired by the spirit, humor and resilience my parents demonstrated throughout a lifetime of challenges. One time, …