Joys of Caregiving


 A Blog from Digital Sisterhood Network Founder Ananda Leeke

Photo Credit: AARP.com

Photo Credit: AARP.com

Happy November Digital Sisters,

I believe caregiving is rooted in the spirit of compassionate service. When I serve compassionately and give back to others, my heart opens and fills with joy. Click here to read AARP’s Bulletin on the unexpected joys of caregiving.

Over the years, I have learned that caregiving happens in many ways. It can be a short-term project that a wiser family member, friend, neighbor, colleague, or person needs help with. It can also be a daily, weekly, or monthly series of activities that support the wiser person’s needs as they navigate the aging process, daily life, health concerns, financial matters, or transportation.

Photo Credit: CNet.com

Photo Credit: CNet.com

Recently, I used my digital skills to support a family member’s short-term project. It was a Digital Sisterhood moment for me. Here’s what happened. While I was visiting my 74-year-old aunt one evening, she asked me to give her a tutorial on how to use her brand new tablet. The digital sister inside of me jumped for joy! We spent 90 minutes reviewing her tablet’s features, experimenting with her camera by taking photos and recording short videos, and exploring numerous apps including one that would allow her to read the Holy Bible. She wanted to find one that would be easy for her 97-year-old mother to use for her weekly Bible study class. So we researched options and downloaded several free apps that she plans to show her mother. When we finished the tutorial, my aunt hugged me and told me how much she appreciated my support. I smiled and said it was my pleasure to help her become a digital sister!

Photo Credit: AARP.com

Photo Credit: AARP.com

This month, I invite you to celebrate National Family Caregivers Month by sharing your caregiving stories through AARP’s “I Heart Caregivers” online initiative. “I Heart Caregivers” is set up as a microsite for people to share stories about being a caregiver. It includes a newsletter signup for regular emails about caregiving and links to AARP’s caregiving resources. Check out AARP’s blog about the initiative.

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Disclaimer: This blog post was written in support of Digital Sisterhood Network’s Leadership, Lifestyle and Living Well initiative and participation in AARP’s #CareSupport Campaign.

 

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Celebrating Digital Sisterhood Network’s AARP Caregiving Partnership


Photo Credit: AARP.org

Photo Credit: AARP.org

Happy Autumn Digital Sisters!

November begins tomorrow. So does National Family Caregivers Month and the Digital Sisterhood Network’s (DSN) third year anniversary celebration of working with AARP to promote caregiving and resources for America’s 42 million caregivers, many of whom are women and our fellow digital sisters. AARP is a nonprofit organization that helps people who are 50 and over turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities, and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security, and retirement planning.

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DSN started working with AARP’s #CareSupport Campaign as a part of our living well initiative in 2012. Since then, we have been able to share information and resources that have given support to a diverse group of digital sisters and their families. Last year, DSN founder Ananda Leeke worked with AARP staff and bloggers to promote AARP’s caregiving resources and web site at the BlogHer annual conference. We also joined forces with AARP’s Thanks Project to express deep gratitude for the caregiving work provided by caregivers. AARP created ThanksProject.org to encourage and allow individuals to post messages of support and thanksgiving for and about caregivers. We think it is an awesome way to express digital affirmation and gratitude in a public forum that builds a community of support and inspiration. It also informs  others about the important roles caregivers play in their loved ones’ lives.

Photo Credit: AARP.org

Photo Credit: AARP.org

November is a great month to express gratitude for the caregivers in your family, circle of friends, and community. One way you can demonstrate your gratitude is by showing caregivers how to access AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center and Guide to Caregiving (free). The web site has great articles and tips that caregivers can use to support their wellness journey as they care for their loved ones.

Logo by Dariela Cruz

Logo by Dariela Cruz

Disclaimer: This blog post was written in support of Digital Sisterhood Network’s Leadership, Lifestyle and Living Well initiative and participation in AARP’s #CareSupport Campaign.

 

Holiday Caregiving Support: Creating A Caregiver Gratitude Jar or Box


Happy Holidays!

Many of us are connected to people serving as caregivers. One way we can show our support is by creating a Caregiver Gratitude Jar or Box for our caregiver  family members and friends filled with handwritten positive thoughts and thank you notes that express how much we appreciate them.

Creating a Caregiver Gratitude Jar or Box is easy to do and very inexpensive. Start by looking for a plastic or glass jar you can recycle. Clean (wash) it out and create a colorful label that includes the person’s name (Mary’s Gratitude Jar). You can use any type of paper or white label to create it. Stick the label on the jar.

If you don’t want to use a jar, look for a box (shoe box, tissue box, or gift box). Think about covering the box with wrapping paper or another type of paper. Perhaps, you can select paper that represents the caregiver’s favorite color(s). Write the person’s name on a piece of paper or a white label.  Place it on the box.

Fill the jar or box with strips of paper or Post It notes that contain positive quotes, spiritual messages, and your own words of thanksgiving. Make it a group project and ask family and friends to write their words of thanksgiving on the strips of paper or Post It notes. Continue the practice throughout the new year so that the Gratitude Jar or Box stays replenished.

Photo Credit: AARP.org

Photo Credit: AARP.org

You can also thank caregivers by showing them AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center. The web site has great articles and tips that caregivers can use to support their wellness journey as they care for their loved ones. You can now access AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center on your iPad!

Photo Credit: AARP.org

AARP is a nonprofit organization that helps people who are 50 and over turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities, and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security,  and retirement planning.

Logo by Dariela Cruz

AARP Blogger Kitchen Cabinet #CareSupport campaign

Disclaimer: This blog post was written in support of Digital Sisterhood Network’s Leadership, Lifestyle and Living Well initiative and participation in AARP’s #CareSupport Campaign.

Visit Oprah.com’s AARP Caregiving Resources Web Site


Photo Credit: Oprah.com

Photo Credit: Oprah.com

Photo Credit: AARP.org

Photo Credit: AARP.org

Happy Friday!

Are you a caregiver or preparing to give care for your loved ones in the future? If so, take a few moments to visit Oprah.com’s AARP Caregiving Resources web site. Check out some of our favorite site features below.

1) INSIDE A CAREGIVER’S LIFE: The web site features three short videos that give you an inside look into the life of a fellow caregiver. Click here to watch one of our favorite videos, “Caring for Yourself and the Ones You Love.”

2) AMY GOYER’S GUIDE TO CAREGIVING: Watch caregiver and author Amy Goyer’s series of videos that provide resources and tips for caregiving.

Photo Credit: AARP.com

Photo Credit: AARP.com

Photo Credit: AARP.com

Photo Credit: AARP.com

3) REACH OUT WITH FREE SOCIAL E-CARDS: The web site offers  caregivers free social e-cards (see cards above) they can use to reach out for support let people outside their everyday support network  know how  they are feeling. Here’s how it works. Click here and choose an image that describes how you are feeling and then post it on your Facebook or Twitter page to let your network of family and friends know what’s happening with you. It’s a very easy and quick way to give an update and ask for support. Try it today and let us know what happens in the comment section below.

4) START THE CONVERSATION: The web site provides three articles that walk you through the essential first steps to becoming a successful caregiver.

5) COMPREHENSIVE CAREGIVING RESOURCES: The web site has a list of organizations and web sites that can help you identify caregiving resources that meet you and your loved ones’ needs.

 

DSN_LLL150

AARP Blogger Kitchen Cabinet #CareSupport campaign

 

Disclaimer: This blog post was written in support of Digital Sisterhood Network’s Leadership, Lifestyle and Living Well initiative and participation in AARP’s Caregiving Campaign.

Digital Sisterhood Network Supports AARP at #BlogHer13


AARP Decide.Create. Share Program for Women's Long-Term Caring Needs

AARP Decide.Create. Share Program for Women’s Long-Term Caring Needs

Happy Digital Sisterhood Wednesday!

Digital Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke joined a powerful group of blogger ambassadors Jessica Ashley, Judy Freedman, Sharon Greenthal, Chloe Jefrries, and Patricia Patton in supporting AARP during the BlogHer 9th Annual Conference at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. As an AARP blogger ambassador for the  CareSupport Campaign and Decide.Create.Share Campaign, Leeke was on double duty. She was able to work side-by-side AARP staff and share information about AARP’s Caregiving, Decide. Create. Share., and Life Reimaged Programs with BlogHer attendees in the Expo Hall. The conversations she had with attendees underscored the importance of each campaign’s value to women. Check out the photos below.

Ananda Leeke at the AARP #BlogHer Expo Booth

Ananda Leeke at the AARP #BlogHer Expo Booth

AARP and Women Online Team at Prep Meeting

AARP and Women Online Team at Prep Meeting

AARP Life Reimagined BlogHer Booth

AARP Life Reimagined BlogHer Booth

People at the AARP BlogHer Booth

People at the AARP BlogHer Booth

Ananda Leeke sitting behind the Life Reimagined comments of BlogHer attendees at AARP Expo Booth

Ananda Leeke sitting behind the Life Reimagined comments of BlogHer attendees at AARP Expo Booth

Life Reimagined comments of BlogHer attendees at AARP Expo Booth

Life Reimagined comments of BlogHer attendees at AARP Expo Booth

Life Reimagined comments of BlogHer attendees at AARP Expo Booth

Life Reimagined comments of BlogHer attendees at AARP Expo Booth

More About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit organization that helps people who are 50 and over turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities, and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security,  and retirement planning.

AARP’s Decide. Create. Share. Initiative is designed to help women do three things: 1) Decide what kind of future they want for themselves. 2) Create a long-term plan that will help them address their health, financial, legal, and home issues and achieve their goals. 3) Share their long-term plan with the important people in their lives. The 40 Day Pledge offers you an opportunity to make a commitment to complete a Living Longer, Living Smarter plan for your future. It covers four critical areas of your life—your home and community, your health, your finances and your wishes.

Photo Credit: AARP.org

Photo Credit: AARP.org

If you are a caregiver or have family members, friends, or colleagues who serve as caregivers, please encourage them to visit AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center. The web site has great articles and tips that caregivers can use to support their wellness journey as they care for their loved ones. FYI – When you travel, you can now access AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center on your iPad !

Photo Credit: LifeReimagined.org

Photo Credit: LifeReimagined.org

Life Reimagined offers powerful tools, resources, and inspirational content to help you reconnect with your natural gifts and talents so you can live your best life. Life Reimagined also provides a community where you can your share goals and dreams, and have conversations with real people just like you that can result in real change. In addition, AARP established the Life Reimagined Institute which provides thought leadership and program development that guides and fuels the Life Reimagined experience. Think of it as an incubator of transformational processes, methodologies, and insights.  Through the Institute, you will have access to the world’s leading experts in personal development, aging, transitions, and reimagining life.

Thank you to the AARP team for bringing its campaigns to the BlogHer community! We heart you ladies: Alyson Curtis, Liz Bradley, Ally Funk, Patti Shea, Jen Reeves, Amy Goyer, and Carole Ricks!

Many thanks to the Women Online team Morra Aarons-Mele, Jen Vento, and Kaitlyn Dowling for giving the AARP bloggers a powerful opportunity to shine and connect with each other, AARP, and BlogHer attendees!

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AARP Blogger Kitchen Cabinet #CareSupport campaign

AARP Blogger Kitchen Cabinet #CareSupport campaign

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Disclaimer: This blog post was written in support of Digital Sisterhood Network’s Leadership, Lifestyle and Living Well initiative and participation in AARP’s Caregiving Campaign and Decide. Create. Share. Initiative.

Life Reimagined: Digital Sisters Do You Need A Life Reinvention?


Photo Credit: O, The Oprah Magazine

Photo Credit: O, The Oprah Magazine

Hi Digital Sisters!
“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been” writes author Madeleine L’Engle (see quote featured in O Magazine‘s Live Your Best Life section above). L’Engle reminds women to embrace all of the seasons of their lives. Within each season, there are opportunities to reflect, recharge, reinvent, and reimagine life and work. Several years ago, I entered a season of life reinvention that continues to unfold on a daily basis. My life reinvention began with my health and traveled through my home renovation to my spirituality, finances, creativity, relationships, business, and volunteer projects. I turned to MORE Magazine’s reinvention articles featuring women who have reinvented their lives and careers, MORE.com’s Second Acts section, and MORE Magazine 287 Secrets of Reinventing Your Life: Big and Small Ways to Embrace New Possibilities book for ideas and resources. Two resources I discovered and continue to use are Pamela Mitchell’s Reinvention Institute, Sarah Brokaw’s Fortytude book, and The Way of the Happy Woman by Sara Avant Stover.
Photo Credit: MORE Magazine

Photo Credit: MORE Magazine

Photo Credit: More Magazine

Photo Credit: More Magazine

Pamela Mitchell, Founder of Reinvention Institute - Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/ReinventionInstitute and ©Jeffery Salter 2010

Pamela Mitchell, Founder of Reinvention Institute – Photo Credit: http://www.facebook.com/ReinventionInstitute and ©Jeffery Salter 2010

Photo Credit: Sarah Brokaw

Photo Credit: Sarah Brokaw

Photo Credit: Sara Avant Stover

Photo Credit: Sara Avant Stover

Many of these resources helped me make the decision to work with a life coach. My life coach Yael Flusberg helped me create accountability in my reinvention process. As a result, I developed the annual practice of reviewing my life goals and accomplishments at the end of each year and incorporated a quarterly check-in process that corresponds to the seasons. This process  motivated me to streamline my work and volunteer schedule, take breaks from my digital life, declutter on a regular basis, and join a different spiritual community, monthly meditation group, and gym that offers a serene space with mind-body-spirit classes. It encouraged me to adopt self-care practices including monthly acupuncture appointments, daily yoga/meditation/Reiki practices, and a weekly yin yoga class. It also caused me to talk to older women for support. Making these changes helped me embrace my season of reinvention with more acceptance, compassion, ease, grace, and patience. I am still working on my creative expression, health, finances, and business reinvention. I’m a work in FABULOUS process!
Photo Credit: LifeReimagined.org

Photo Credit: LifeReimagined.org

Photo Credit: LifeReimagined.org

Photo Credit: LifeReimagined.org

Photo Credit: LifeReimagined.org

Photo Credit: LifeReimagined.org

AARP’s Life Reimaged Initiative is the next step I am taking in my reinvention process. Life Reimagined  offers powerful tools, resources, and inspirational content to help you reconnect with your natural gifts and talents so you can live your best life. And who doesn’t want to live her best life? I know I do! Life Reimagined also offers a community where you can your share goals and dreams, and have conversations with real people just like you that can result in real change. In addition, AARP established the Life Reimagined Institute which provides thought leadership and program development that guides and fuels the Life Reimagined experience. Think of it as an incubator of transformational processes, methodologies, and insights.  Through the Institute, you will have access to the world’s leading experts in personal development, aging, transitions, and reimagining life. What a gold mine of resources!
Photo Credit: AARP.org

Photo Credit: AARP.org

Here’s a special plug for women caregivers. Caregiving responsibilities create great change in women’s lives. If you find yourself in need of a change in the type of work you are doing, check out AARP’s Life Reimagined web site which has a section dedicated to careers and work for resources. You might find exactly what you are looking for when it comes to reinventing your career as a woman who works outside of the home and also provides care to a loved one. Give it a try!

If you are a caregiver or have family members, friends, or colleagues who serve as caregivers, please encourage them to visit AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center. The web site has great articles and tips that caregivers can use to support their wellness journey as they care for their loved ones. FYI – When you travel, you can now access AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center on your iPad !

AARP is a nonprofit organization that helps people who are 50 and over turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities, and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security,  and retirement planning.

Photo Credit: BlogHer.com

Photo Credit: BlogHer.com

If you are headed to BlogHer ’13, be sure to drop by AARP’s Life Reimagined Booth 1218. You can also follow AARP on Twitter during the conference by using the hashtag #AARPBlogs. Hope to see you at BlogHer!

Enjoy your reinvention journey ladies!

All the best,

Ananda Leeke, Digital Sisterhood Network Founder

AARP Blogger Kitchen Cabinet #CareSupport campaign

AARP Blogger Kitchen Cabinet #CareSupport campaign

Disclaimer: This blog post was written in support of Digital Sisterhood Network’s Leadership, Lifestyle and Living Well initiative and participation in AARP’s Decide. Create. Share. Campaign.

Summer Reading for Caregivers


DSN_LLL150

AARP Blogger Kitchen Cabinet #CareSupport campaign

AARP Blogger Kitchen Cabinet #CareSupport campaign

 

Summer is a great time to read. If you are a caregiver, en route to becoming a caregiver for your loved ones, or someone who is interested in learning more about the caregiving and/or how to take better care of yourself so that you are able to help your future caregivers understand how to provide support, check out the books listed below.

marthastewartcaregivingbook

Martha Stewart’s Living the Good Long Life offers an honest and practical guide on preparing to age successfully. She offers rules for successful aging that can help you understand your needs as you age and the needs of loved ones you care for. They address healthy eating, fitness, brain activity, outlook, daily living practices, looks (physical appearance, skin care, and makeup), home decor and organization, wellness, and self-care while you care for others.

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In Passages in Caregiving, Gail Sheehy writes that her intention in writing the book was “to illuminate the challenges and rewards inherent in the caregiving passage-to identify universal patterns in the chaos and give the journey a form that makes sense.” Sheehy also covers the eight stages of caregiving, which she calls “Turnings.” She also offers strategies for solving the problems associated with each stage.

 

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Dennis McCullough’s book My Mother, Your Mother draws on his experience as a family doctor and geriatrician and his practice of “Slow Medicine.” McCullough’s “Slow Medicine” recommends caregivers use a less-aggressive and compassionate approach towards their elderly loved ones. The approach is shaped by kindness, compassion, and common sense that helps everyone involved in the caregiving process understand, care for and help the loved one in their final years.

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The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent by Barry J. Jacobs offers an honest and compassionate guide to families who are caring for aging parents and loved ones. Jacobs encourages family members to clearly communicate their level of commitment in the caregiving process. His book also helps caregivers reaffirm emotional connections worn thin by the routine of daily care.

Photo Credit: AARP.com

Photo Credit: AARP.com

 

If you are a caregiver or have family members, friends, or colleagues who serves as caregivers, please encourage them to visit AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center. The web site has great articles and tips that caregivers can use to support their wellness journey as they care for their loved ones. FYI – When you travel, you can now access AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center on your iPad !

AARP is a nonprofit organization that helps people who are 50 and over turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities, and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security,  and retirement planning.

Disclaimer: This blog post was written in support of Digital Sisterhood Network’s Leadership, Lifestyle and Living Well initiative and participation in AARP’s #CareSupport Campaign.