Our Four Step Process
Our process begins with awareness that develops into a proactive, attainable plan.
Click on the titles below to get more information about how each step in the process helps you create that plan.
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1. A Mindset of Being / Embracing Proactive vs. Reactive
The essential take-away from this first step is the fact that when you are proactive you have choices. You have a say in what happens next because you are assessing what’s most important to you and you get to prioritize and determine how best to set yourself up for your future while options exist. Why is this so important?
If we, or the ones we care for, choose not to make the decisions needed or plan ahead and make decisions proactively, what then becomes our impetus for moving forward is a crash of sorts. What appears as a mini crisis (a fall, an injury, infection, change in health status) can quickly escalate into a significant life change, and that’s when we find our options significantly limited or worse, non-existent. The grief, sadness and frustration of understanding there aren’t options we can emotionally live with often become the beginning of the end.
For many (would love to say MOST) of us we have some degree of preparedness in the form of insurances, investments, a will and a trust, powers of attorney, advanced directives, and even perhaps some funeral pre-planning in order. Yes, these pillars of support are the foundation of sound estate and life planning. They provide a big sturdy safety net. But here’s the thing about nets – they have holes. How do we fill those holes and eliminate the gaps?
This proactive preparation easily begins with one question…
Click on the next step to see that question and follow the process.
2. An Awareness & Commitment to Accepting Our Reality
“How do you want it handled when….?”
Often the items that really knock us around and even knock us out, are the unspoken, un-thought-of daily realities we don’t even consider, much less talk about. “Like what?” And here’s where the guidance begins. So the question I pose is…“How do you want it handled when….?” “When WHAT,” you may ask?
“How do you want it handled When… you can’t drive anymore and can’t see you’re no longer capable; …When the cost of caring for you is the cost of your spouse’s health… (or the reverse, the cost of caring for your loved one is the cost of your health). When the financial cost of caring for you at home outweighs the bank account…When you’re no longer ‘safe’ living at home… When your beloved family member has cancer and wants more than anything to just take care of you but cannot?”
These concepts are the big-picture deliberations that become unbearable because you’re at cross-roads and can’t fathom the decisions you need to make. These are the items that should be discussed openly and proactively vs. tensely and reactively. But more often than not, that doesn’t happen – honestly and comfortably.
We don’t often consider the daily routine and the repetitive challenges of specific diagnoses, mobility issues, or changing cognitive abilities. We don’t anticipate the complications of what once was considered a simple task now becoming an everyday chore. Routine tasks become stressors. The challenges of managing diabetes, immobility, apathy, lack of awareness that a shower is needed, or consistent incontinence can feel debilitating and at times insurmountable.
Before we can have this conversation with others, we must have it with ourselves so we can ‘feel’ the weight and impact of those realities. Once we embrace the significance of those concepts, it will be a better conversation with ourselves, with those we love and those we care for.
These are the items that psychologically wreak havoc on us because we’re exhausted and our desire to make it work conflicts with our physical and emotional abilities. Our tank becomes empty.
And what we don’t always take into consideration is the fact that everyone’s perspectives and sadly, sometimes their motives, are different. These realities afflict relationships because not everyone recognizes the changes or the significance of those changes; not everyone is able to admit/acknowledge the changes; and awkwardly, not everyone is willing to work to help navigate them or live with them. And so the dance begins. And whether that dance, that negotiation is with yourself and or others, reality and family dynamics can hug you like cashmere sweater or put you out to pasture like a lame racehorse.
What’s your preference?
3. Using Practical Tools & Techniques to Meet Individuals Where They Are
We begin with a look at the whole big picture.
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- What challenges do you have?
- Assess and determine obstacles and accomplishments
- Outline a plan to meet your goals
- Resource delivery options for where you or they are in their journey.
- How-to options for delivery of expectations and information, including personal adjustment.
An assessment of wants and needs is an initial step to evaluate how compatible those items are with your bigger safety net. Often that includes the incorporation of family members. Family meetings, whether long-distance or local are essential if family members are involved, as ultimate caregivers, or most especially as ultimate care receivers.
The most important step in this process is getting expectations in check. Realistic expectations are critical to this process and to everyone’s journey. The inability to recognize reality and face what’s ahead will prove to be not only an obstacle but a real negative force in process that all about creating a positive approach to care. Appropriate expectations are significantly important if we are working with people living with dementia. This is both heightened and complicated when people living with dementia are making all the decisions.
Here’s the thing…we don’t know what we don’t know. Yes, a phrase oft spoken but 100% true and so applicable in this world where it can be extremely difficult to know where to start. We work to provide a plan utilizing the resources and support you need to accomplish your goals. Whether those tools come in the form of tasks, appointments, education, a concerted adjustment of attitude or focus, the steps are chosen by you, for you. We can outline your path and lead you or walk alongside your journey keeping you on track. You decide.
4. Offering Support to Your Mind, Body & Spirit
As humans, no matter our physical or cognitive well-being, need engagement, enrichment, respite, reprieve. We NEED self-care, self-awareness and a cheerleader at times to keep our eye on what’s really important. Sometimes, our focus gets so lazer sharp, we find our expectations of the minute are so out of tune with reality, that we need to back off and refocus for everyone’s benefit. No different from life before health or age change, or a different set of obstacles, what’s really important is balance.
Balance is key to a healthy life. We need to feed the mind, the body and the soul. For each of us that looks a little differently. We need to take stock and learn what feeds our soul so we can incorporate the kinds of time and tasks we need to keep our tank full. Is it quiet time, cheerful, people-filled time, the arts, whatever? We need our spiritual side to be inspired, our physical self to be activated, and our intellectual self to be stimulated. That can be as challenging of a commitment as is caretaking. However, it’s essential, critical – completely un-selfish.
Keeping ourselves healthy allows us the wherewithal to make good decisions for ourselves, take good care of our partner and appropriately determines what’s appropriately next for both them and for us. Identifying our needs and meeting them create the base for moving forward.