“I can’t go into care because of my dogs! And what about my Royal Family collection? There’s all the books, DVDs and every Women’s Weekly collector’s edition with the Queen and Princess Di. I’m not moving anywhere if I can’t take them!”

Don't let possessions stand in the way of care if it's needed

Don’t let possessions stand in the way of care if it’s needed

These are some of the reasons I hear when I meet with families and their elderly parent who clearly needs to be in a more supported environment, rather than living in their own home with a daughter who works full-time and is stretched to her limit.

Winning the trust of the elderly client is a must.

Many don’t trust the government, so as I introduce myself I let them know that I don’t work for the government and with many there is an audible sigh of relief,  along with, “Don’t you?” Then there’s a relaxed look on their face and I’ve suddenly become their friend.

If I can meet with the client and their families in the client’s home, I’m able to get the true picture of what’s really happening. Sometimes an answer is given to a question and the daughter or son will give me a cross-eyed glance or raise an eyebrow, clearly indicating that the answer was interesting! I make a mental note to follow that up privately at a later time, to get the accurate story.

In the early stages of dementia it’s often difficult for families to pick up that there’s a real issue. The elderly can be seen as just forgetful, vague or sometimes ornery, and if their partner is still alive, this can be covered up for a good long while in many cases, although it’s usually not intentional.

During this time, the primary carer, often the partner, becomes increasingly stressed, stretched and in many cases their health declines, sometimes more rapidly than the person for whom they’re caring.

In other cases it’s a live-in son or daughter who is the primary carer. This can cause unsustainable levels of stress, grief and sadness as the relationship between the parent and adult child erodes during the decline. And this may affect their mental health.

At this time, Respite can be a life-saver and may also be an opportunity for the elderly person to experience Residential Aged Care – a try before you buy scenario.

For my mother-in-law respite was a game-changer! She absolutely loved it! She loved the home, the staff, the food, the activities and the fact that there was always someone walking past.

Her negative views of living in an Aged Care Home vanished during that experience and shortly after, she was offered a placement. She happily moved into her new home one week later.

Five years on she’s still receiving great care in a home where she’s not only safe, but happy.

Respite ~ the game-changer for the elderly client and  their family!

 

The issues of the elderly are as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore! What bothers one person is like water off a duck’s back to another.

A man who read my book, 5 Easy Ways to Solve the Aged Care Puzzle, a while back, remembered reading that I was a Mentor, so he contacted me and asked if I could meet with him to sort out a dilemma.

He lives alone in an immaculately kept unit with a lovely garden, is fully self-sufficient, with no care needs and is in good health. So, like the client I spoke of in Part 1 of this series, we were not discussing Residential Aged Care – far from it.

His email told me some of his story and explained a little about why he wanted to update his Will, Power of Attorney and Advance Care Directive.

When we met, the story expanded, became quite convoluted and explained why his current Power of Attorney was no longer suitable. It seemed that there were no family members who could be entrusted with this role, for a variety of reasons. And all his friends were too old and were quite likely to drop off their twig before him!

An Estate Planning lawyer had given me some clues on professional

We never know what tomorrow may bring!

We never know what tomorrow may bring!

people who may be asked to take on this role and this proved to be a life-saving solution for this elderly gentleman. He now has a professional who has provided trusted service to him for many years, who’s happy to take on this task.

 

A one-off, unexplained fall had also unravelled his confidence somewhat, so we discussed the possibility of wearing an Alert pendant around his neck. He hadn’t thought of that, so has since ordered one.

By the time I left he was decidedly calmer and as with the previous client, he had an Action Plan to get him started.

It’s amazing to see the transformation in a person when they’ve been able to share their story with someone who’s prepared to listen without judgement.

Our assumption that the fears of the elderly revolve around the possibility of them moving into Residential Aged Care, is often correct.

However, there are a good many other concerns too – losing their licence, needing a walker because they’re becoming unsteady on their legs, feeling unsafe on their own or their realisation that they’re becoming increasingly forgetful. These are only the tip of the iceberg!

In meeting with families to ‘Demystify the Aged Care Puzzle,’ we get into all manner of discussions, many of which don’t involve moving into Residential Aged Care.

I recently had a long consultation with a widow, in her early 80’s, still driving,  incredibly capable and healthy, computer savvy and financially very secure. Her quandary was whether to move and buy a lovely unit in a secure retirement living complex.

Retirement Village unit

Retirement Village unit

For some, I’d advise against it because of their failing health and fragility, and the likelihood of them needing full time care in the near future. But for this woman, whose mother lived to her late 90’s, there seemed to be no contraindications.

The different advice from family members, along with the mixed messages and opinions of her friends, had created a state of confusion, so she asked me to come to listen to her story.

Being an outsider, with no vested interest, I was able to listen impartially, then give her – not answers – but an Action Plan.

The plan was this – Take a sheet of paper and write a Pro’s list and a Con’s list and see how the balance tips. She had done this previously, but this time she had to consider some extra factors based on things she’d shared with me:

1/ Will this new home make me feel safer than I do living here?

2/ How do I feel about leaving the only house my husband and I shared?

This delightful lady now had a place to start with a new thinking process, devoid of the opinions of all and sundry, all of which were causing her considerable distress.

Happily, I can report that she did her homework and now has a contract on the home that she really wants to purchase.

I received this message the other day, ‘Thank you for your help in providing me with a lot of information regarding my future. Thank you again!’

As most of us don’t talk aloud to ourselves in a full-scale conversation about our problems or concerns, we never allow our brain to search for the answers. This is why a consultation can be so helpful. When we share our story with an outsider, our brain can go into action so that we often answer our own question!

It’s rewarding listening to people then watching to see how they solve their own problems.

A recent Sunday morning trip to Mt Lofty Botanical Garden with my husband, Ron, went awry thanks to a van and a huge kangaroo that had strayed into suburbia.

As we approached the final turn into the gardens, the roo came bounding across in front of our car and into the undergrowth in a ditch beside the road. One leg was flailing in the breeze as it jumped.

Sadly, the kangaroo had leapt in front of the van that ran over his foot, disabling the entire leg.

The van driver stopped and between the three of us, a plan unfolded to get help for the kangaroo. Interestingly, without any discussion, we drifted into different roles to attend to the situation.

The distraught van driver phoned Fauna Rescue who were unable to dispatch anyone to assist. Ron remained in our car with the hazard lights alerting drivers to the potential hazard – a roo that kept trying to stabilise itself long enough to jump back onto the road. He also listened to the van driver who wanted to off-load what had actually happened and who was noticeably upset.

As the kangaroo moved through the undergrowth, intermittently collapsing then regaining his footing, I stood on the opposite side of the road to flag down motorists in case he managed to get back onto the road. I had to keep my distance, as native animals, particularly if injured, can be unpredictable.

One of the drivers who came by was a man who normally shot  injured roos and usually had his weapons in the truck, but on this occasion he was unarmed. Fortunately, he was able to supply the phone number of an expert marksman who lived just over the hill.

The marksman arrived to attend to the stricken beast, so we made our exit, leaving the van driver and shooter to discuss the next course of action.

I marvelled at how the situation had unfolded – firstly recognising the compassion of the van driver who stopped when many would have driven on. Then I noted that without any plan we drifted into roles in which we were comfortable and that were necessary for the safety of the public and also the injured animal.

A Team can be built when people with a common purpose see a need and work within their skill set to fill that need.

We never did get to the gardens that day, but probably filled a greater need by ensuring that the kangaroo was given the assistance it required in its hour of need.

Have you ever thought about the number of things we should do?

Why? Who said so? Is should a good enough reason to do anything?

Senior 4Obviously, for reasons of personal and public safety, we should drive on the correct side of the road.

Several years ago my husband and I realised that we have spent most of our adult live should-ing, sometimes to our own detriment.

Should-ing  takes our time, our enjoyment of life and often, or more accurately, usually creates negative energy. What if we measured what we think we should do on a scale that asks,

‘Is it light or heavy?’ *

Most things are one or the other. If it’s light, it’s right.*

Try it and I’ll guarantee that your should will weigh one or the other.

* Light or heavy and If it’s light, it’s right are both taught in Access Consciousness™

Gail n AC bk openI’ve been pottering along for a number of years as an Author and a Speaker, with real life getting in the way of me establishing a thriving business. A few contracts here and there have been great to pay the bills, but have also left me feeling that I was leading a ‘perforated life.’

What’s that, I hear you ask? Working Monday, Wednesday and Friday on a two year contract left me with Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday to work on my own business and I soon realised that I never felt like I was in flow. No sooner did I start a project and it was time to go back to paid work!

Don’t get me wrong – I was grateful for the income.

Hence, I’ve felt like I was marking time in my business. This year, having completed the contract, I’ve decided to focus, use a whiteboard and a manual index card contact filing system, along with other strategies to reduce the overwhelm of keeping everything in my head and hoping madly that I could recall all the minute details later.

Several years ago I attended a Business Intensive in Perth at which Alex Mandossian explained the WIT Principle. I recently realise that I’ve been using this for some time by doing Whatever ITakes to propel my business forward.

I add a rider to the WIT Principle – it must be honest, ethical and benefit both parties.

I’ve also realised that I need to let go of the Little Red Hen principle – “I’ll do it myself.” As an independent and capable person, I tried to do everything myself, but realised that, amongst other things, I was not gifted at MYOB. That was my first foray into loosening the reins – handing over the finances to a book keeper – and what a relief that was.

Next I found some freelancers who are much more adept at creating promo booklets than I’ll ever be. They’ve saved me blood, sweat and tears! And whilst they’re busily taking care of some of the essentials that are not my forte, I can focus on what I’m best at – creating content for my books, talks and workshops and practising for speaking engagements.

With a little more organisation in my life, I feel like I’m now more in flow and I’ve left the perforations behind, having torn out that overwhelming and messy page!

Chap 4 pic 2Workplace stress seems endemic!

Every morning I meet a LinkedIn email with a headline about workplace stress.

Where did we lose the ability to enjoy our personal life and also find some pleasure in what pays the bills?

When did work become something to be endured, rather than a place where we make a valued contribution and take pride in doing so?

How did the negative comments TGIF and Hump Day come into being?

If you say TGIF to my husband, he’ll ask, ‘Do you know the great thing about Friday?’ People usually make comments like, ‘It’s almost the weekend,’ or some such thing, to which Ron will reply, ‘It’s only three days ’til Monday.’

This is always met with a groan.

What if management and staff alike could develop a work paradigm that embodies fairness, inclusion, pride, realistic goals, gratitude for effort put in along with a positive and fulfilling workplace culture?

Do you think staff might show more interest in their work? Do you think if approached personably they may put in extra effort? Is it possible they may see themselves as part of a team, rather than sensing a them and us mentality?

My favourite and most respected manager was Greg, a dentist in the School Dental Service, who would answer the phone if everyone else was busy. If he’d finished his patient and we were still busily drilling and filling, he’d come and ask if we wanted our usual coffee order. We could then all sit, as part of a team and take a few minutes to chat before our next patients arrived – the dentist having made the coffee!

To Greg, we were a team, with no pecking order, but merely a common objective – to take the best care of our patients by doing exemplary quality work in the kindest and most caring fashion. His humane and caring approach to staff was unsurpassed and they responded accordingly.

Piper in EdinburghA recent trip to Scotland reinforced for me the importance of being specific with our requests, then letting go and not trying to control the how.
I wanted to hear the ‘Highland Cathedral’ being played live, by a bagpiper in Edinburgh. My husband and daughter googled Concerts in Edinburgh and various other search words and nothing appeared. I remained focussed on hearing this magnificent piece, although I couldn’t see how this may happen.

Strolling from the House of Holyrood Palace, along the Royal Mile, towards Edinburgh Castle, I could hear bagpipe music in the distance. Looking up, I spied a lone piper, dressed in his full regalia, busking in the street.

As he finished playing a piece, I approached asking, ‘Do you do requests?’ ‘Certainly. What would you like me to play?’ he asked. ‘Can you play The Highland Cathedral please?’ ‘Sure. I’ll play that for you,’ he said and promptly began to play as I dissolved into a puddle of tears.

Not only did I get to experience the magic of hearing this played live, just a few feet in front of my very eyes, but also the magic of how the Universe / God / Source brought this to me in the most unexpected of ways.

It confirmed my belief that if we are specific with our requests, focus on them with positive energy and take some sort of action to set the wheels in motion (we had booked to stay in Edinburgh for 4 nights), then we can leave the details to a source beyond our limited means.

This, as you might imagine, was a highlight of our travels in the UK.

White Ribbon photo Today I had the privilege of being the guest speaker at a White Ribbon Day event, followed later in the day as the featured emerging speaker at the Adelaide Chapter of Professional Speakers Australia. What a fun day!

My topic for the evening was, ‘You are what you think.’ I told the story of my niggling and very annoying 13 year old inner child who declared that I couldn’t speak in front of more than a small number of people.

This fear began in 1969 when I was in Year 8 in a class with six very clever girls whilst the rest of us were very average students. Not wanting to look foolish if I asked questions, I learned to leave those questions unasked. So began a fear paradigm that followed me for decades.

That all changed when Dad said to me one day, ‘You can get away with a lot when you have silver hair!’ As you can see, I’m completely silver, as was Dad and Grandma from a young age.

I don’t use my hair colour to ‘get away with things,’ however, it made me think. If I have something that I think is worth saying, why should I be afraid? If I make a mistake, will it be life-threatening? Of course the answer is no.

This realisation changed the course of my life! As the author of a new book in 2011, the only way to promote it was to speak about it. My inaugural talk was at a Lutheran Aged Care Home with an audience of around 75 people and rather than being terrified, I found that if I scanned between the few smiling or nodding faces in the audience, I had a connection with people who had a calming influence and it was actually fun … lots of fun.

I’ve now created a series of Power Programs – one for each of my three books, however, my favourite program is ‘You are what you think,’ where we explore the impact of what we allow into our minds and how our self-talk will alter the direction of our lives – negatively or positively.

It’s our choice!

Muzzling that little 13 year old inner child was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

*** I believe Noah St John is the creator of the term ‘head trash.’                                                        He’s worth following if you want to explore more about what the mind can do. ***

 

Chap 4 pic 2

It’s quicker to write a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) than sort out the ensuing mess of not having one.

Recently, a friend who is almost at the end of a long-term contract, inadvertently passed on the contact details of a business professional that had been given freely to him with no instruction on their use, in order to help a person with a serious problem.

An aggressive phone call was made by the recipient of the details to the mobile number of the professional, who was baffled and felt somewhat unsafe until he managed to extract enough information from the aggressor to enable him to track down who gave out his information.

A phone call to the workplace of the informant alerted management to the fact that one of their staff had transgressed, albeit inadvertently.

When the informant became aware of the issue, he immediately phoned the professional to apologise and after some discussion about what had happened, he was assured that there was no further angst felt.

It did alert him to the fact that the company for which he had been working for almost two years, had no SOPs, aside from the two that he had written relating to work that he had done and only he knew the process.

The CEO was on leave for a month when this drama occurred.

Needless to say, after the damage control phone calls had been made to all parties, he proceeded to write a SOP that covered this particular scenario, as it was one that will occur over and over in this industry.

We should never be too busy to write SOPs! They may save an enormous amount of unproductive time, not to mention the emotional stress caused to all parties.

After that piece of ‘light’ reading, I trust your day goes more smoothly than that of my friend about whom you’ve just read.

Gail Ruth Miller

Author / Speaker / Workshop Facilitator