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Observations and commentary on aging, caregiving, and the complex journey through the second half of life.

Second-Half of Life Blog

Caregiver Playlist

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

Below are the selections that make up the “Kind To Your Heart” playlist, a 40-minute mix of songs and instrumentals. The song’s lyrics give voice to the emotional challenges of caregiving. They also spell out the courage and profound love that flows amid the turbulence and messy outcomes. The instrumentals offer a meditative transition between the songs, a space to exhale and let go, and to remember the bigger story that surrounds even the most difficult moments… Can’t Go Back Now—The Weepies—A fitting opening in which transformational...

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The Medical Journey of Aging Parents

Posted by on Mar 9, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

We are not bystanders to the medical journey of our aging parents. No matter how daunting the language or specter of healthcare, we are obligated, to the best of our ability, to try and understand what we are being told and what’s in their best interest. This means we need the courage to question treatments and procedures that are not supported by medical evidence, duplicate other tests or procedures already done, may cause harm, and aren’t truly necessary. Below is a link from the American Geriatrics Society that offers ten examples...

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The Social Fabric of Aging Parents

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

Preserving and nurturing social connections is vital to the well being of older adults. Families need to understand the scope and depth of an aging parent’s social network so they can coordinate their efforts to protect and support it. That is why we created the Social Fabric Mind Map. The Social Fabric Mind Map offers families a one page diagram of activities and connections. Once completed, it helps families sustain the social fabric in four ways: It reduces the burden and risks of not knowing the big picture. The Social Fabric Mind Map...

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Grandma Knutsen

Posted by on Mar 2, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

This is my wonderful Grandma Knutsen who immigrated to America in 1892 from Norway. She was “processed” through Ellis Island on her way to the “new” Norway, Minnesota. God rest her heroic soul…

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When Aging Parents Move In…

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

The desire to do the right thing begins with good intentions. Sometimes that is enough, but in most cases the burden of caregiving requires adjustments in perspective, language and behavior. While the predictable dilemmas of aging are unavoidable, understanding the psychological dynamics of “in-home” care can help both generations reduce the stress of cohabitation. It’s important to remember that having aging parents move in is a social experiment both literally and historically. The communal scaffolding of the past, close knit families...

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Caregiver Support Lessons…

Posted by on Feb 12, 2014 in Aging Parents | 3 comments

Last fall, I started a caregiver’s support group. The goal was to offer a non-judgmental setting for adult children to share their stories. While being the facilitator, my real job was arranging chairs and making sure everyone had a turn to speak. This was the first insight. Given the opportunity, caregivers have a lot to say. The drama of aging parents is consumptive and complex. Caregivers are exhausted by endless tasks and wind up isolated. They rarely talk with a group of people who not only want to hear their stories but have deep...

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Dancing with Negative Feedback: Redirection and Resolution

Posted by on Nov 21, 2013 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

I wrote this article for an assisted living magazine but the technique of “Redirection and Resolution” works in a wide range of situations where negative feedback needs to be managed in a calm, professional manner. Asking the daughter of a new resident about how her mother was adjusting seemed like a benign question. The executive director felt confident the answer would be positive because, according to feedback from team members and the resident herself, the move appeared to be going well. But her daughter saw it differently....

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The Car Front Mind Map

Posted by on Jun 30, 2013 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

Driving is a “hot spot” issue for aging parents. Attempts by family members to modify, restrict, or take away driving privileges are in direct conflict with the older adult’s need for control even if it results in unsafe decisions about driving. One of the problems is that adult children assume they hold the leading position for influencing the driving habits of their aging parents. They don’t. That position is held by the primary care physician. While families need to play an active role in monitoring driving safety of aging parents, they...

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Caregiver Mind Maps

Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Aging Parents | 1 comment

In March 2013 I released my new book Caregiver Mind Maps: New Tools for Aging Parents. I elected a PDF format because the book’s mind maps are designed to be used on the front lines of caregiving, a kinetic space filled with continual explaining, bringing up to speed, and handing off. From personal experience, I knew the book’s mind maps would be marked up, revised, and passed around. All of this tactile interaction required a format that could be easily printed and PDF proved ideal (Download the introduction along with The...

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Communicating with Older Adults: An Update

Posted by on Mar 16, 2013 in Aging Parents | Comments Off

I have been studying how to unlock the communication code of older adults for the last twenty-three years. My first breakthrough came early on with developmental psychology, a model based on age-specific tasks that are easy to understand, easy to use, and highly effective. As a result, the two tasks of the final phase of life, control and legacy, have earned their way into the vernacular of how to communicate with older adults. However, in the last few years I have discovered two additional elements that combine with the developmental tasks...

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