Archive for the ‘Aging’ Category

Safe in the Storm by Jane Meier Hamilton

February 20th, 2014 by Lee Yahnke


Safe in the Storm


winter scene

The storm blew in while we were sleeping. Ice-coated tree branches fell on power lines and blocked the roads. In the morning I was shocked by what had been quickly and unexpectedly taken from me: a warm house and hot cup of coffee, access to the Internet and the road to work, my creature comforts and regular routine.

Life was turned upside down and I was powerless to change the situation. Along with 715,000 other households, I’d lost power, light, and heat. What I had was an abundance of uncertainty, a small measure of discomfort, and no idea when power crews would fix the lines. Fortunately, I was spared physical harm and property damage. The storm was disruptive and draining, but at least I was safe.

Not so for Gail’s 85-year-old parents, whose home is 10 miles from hers. Gail’s dad is recovering from recent surgery; her mom is feeble and depends on a walker. Both have mild dementia and are fiercely independent. Also without power, they were trying to heat their home with candles! Gail was wild with anxiety, worrying they’d start a house fire, or one of them would fall and be unable to get help.

Caregiving Crises

The ice storm and talking with Gail got me thinking about crises in caregiving, brought on by things like:

  • Conditions: Broken hip, blindness, stroke, cancer, a rare disease, or chronic illness
  • Decisions: Take away car keys, move to assisted living, begin hospice, or remove a breathing tube
  • Conflicts: Doing enough, doing the right thing, or balancing work and caregiving responsibilities

Caregiving crises develop when health conditions change, difficult decisions must be made, or conflicts arise. Overwhelming as a major storm, they disrupt daily routines, demand a response, and can drastically change lives.

As with storms, you must find ways to live through caregiving crises. It’s impossible to predict exactly how or when they’ll end. But you can count on anxious moments and debates about what to do. Post-crisis, life is different. Sometimes the changes are minor, sometimes significant. Whatever the outcome, there is always relief when the storm has passed.

To stay safe in the storm, practice self-care:

  • Stay calm. Anxiety, fear, and panic block logical decision making. These emotions are contagious and can raise fears in those around you. Calm yourself by breathing slowly and deeply. Affirm your strength and capacity to handle adversity. Envision positive resolutions. Distract your mind from worry by focusing on topics or activities that aren’t related to the crisis. Do what works best to help you relax.
  • Create a plan. Don’t waste time and energy focusing on things you don’t control. Identify ways to improve your situation: what you can influence, improve, decrease, or eliminate. When making plans, be specific by defining who will do what. Set a time for each action. Make sure actions are achievable, and assignments are reasonable and within people’s abilities. Get agreement with others on the plan. Then take action and follow up to check progress.


  • Connect with others. It’s awful to feel alone in a storm or crisis; it’s always easier to bear with the support of others. Discuss the situation and how you feel about it. Ask for, and offer, a helping hand or words of encouragement. Seek advice from experts or from others who have had similar experiences. Even if you are totally cut off from other people, you can always turn to God.

winter branches


  • Look for the light. On the second day of no lights at my house, I took this picture of brilliant sun shining through ice-covered trees. It reminded me that in the darkest of times there are moments of light and love. In the midst of difficulties lie small islands of peace. Clarity eventually comes when struggling with uncertainty. Hold onto hope; it will help you through the storm.

Try these self-care strategies during caregiving crises. As you do so much for others, remember to take good care of yourself, too….Jane

About the Author

Jane Meier Hamilton MSN, RN, is CEO and founder of Partners on the Path LLC, a leader in providing corporate-sponsored caregiver support programs to businesses that employ, and nonprofits that support, caregivers. She has been a nurse for 40 years and family caregiver for 20. Learn about Jane’s research-based, resilience-building resources Find her book, The Caregiver’s Guide to Self-Care (Infinity 2011) in print, one-hour audio, and e-book formats at your favorite online provider.

70 Candles, a Blog for Women Who Have Stories to Share

January 21st, 2014 by Lee Yahnke

Please go to to read  personal stories written by women  nearing their 70th birthdays. Story after story tells about how women have lived in ways they could not have imagined.   We make plans and life changes everything. We relate to each other on a personal level and find we have lived well or have regrets.

Share your life story or comment on other women's stories. What we do learn is that we have a Future and we need to live it to the Fullest! Here's to all women approaching 70 and those who have paved the way for us.

Eldercare Resource Day - 2014

January 18th, 2014 by Lee Yahnke

Eldercare Resource Day - 2014

Join us for a day of learning. The information provided on this day will help you navigate the challenges of caring for a family elder.

ECRD Banner


This annual day-long conference presents seminars specifically for family caregivers. If you are an adult child with an aging parent or a caregiver, this is one day you cannot afford to miss.

You can check out the details of our 2014 event here.






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Caregivers Provide Care; They Don’t Necessarily Seek It.

October 29th, 2011 by Lee Yahnke

We see a need and we feel responsible to react. Becoming a caregiver brings with it the fulfillment of knowing your loved one is well cared for.  It also means your life will change and the lives of those in your immediate circle will also experience change.

Caregivers, primarily women but not exclusively, will sacrifice family time, social time, and personal time to avoid feeling guilty. As time progresses and your loved one requires more care, you’ll have decisions to make that are heart wrenching, if not difficult at the least.

You’ll find a comprehensive list of private business and organizations who offer services to you as the caregiver and to your loved one in the Elder Care Network membership at

Prepare yourself. Your work will be time consuming and unpredictable. You might have a good experience with supportive family members, or not. Hmmm. That is something the counselors at Elder Care Network can help you with. Be a “seeker” and not an overwhelmed person with more than you can possibly manage without help.

Good Times Together

Cohousing is for Seniors

August 20th, 2011 by Lee Yahnke

Have you considered cohousing as an option for you as seniors, or as a family, to build a solid community? Cohousing communities are small neighborhoods with shared community room and grounds. They are managed by a collaborative resident management system designed to encourage engagement among the neighbors and care for the common areas.

Cohousing offers many advantages over city neighborhoods in that they are intentional communities that generate significant social capital over isolation and dependence on people who are sometimes too busy in their own lives. Greater independence can be found in these intentional communities with supportive and caring neighbors outside your door.

Mr. Jim Leach of Wonderland at is a cohousing developer whose fingerprints are memorable in cohousing communities from coast to coast.

In Fort Collins we already have 2 cohousing communities in River Rock and Grey Rock. Both are intergenerational. It is possible and likely that in the future we in Fort Collins will have a senior cohousing community. If you are interested in the concept, please contact me for more information. The local bookstores also have good books for reference.

A Poem by Stanley Kunitz for All of Us

June 2nd, 2011 by Lee Yahnke


I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray…

Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

From Stanley Kunitz, "The Layers." Kunitz, who won many
awards for his poetry, continued writing until his death at 100
years of age.  He won the Pulitzer Prize for his work at the age
of 63.

Well written. When we face changes or transitions, we're not always able to speak eloquently about them. Some changes are really difficult and some are welcomed. We are never "done" with changes.