Peg’s Perspective: Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service

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As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Tip # 1 of 50 – What’s the key to a long, healthy, and happy life?   

Answers from an interview with Joe and Millie Anderson — people who know how it’s done!

4 Things to Try when Facing a Tough Time

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By: Kayla Statema

I’m sure you have heard the saying, ‘April showers bring May flowers.’ And, even as we grow and change as a company, the weather at our communities in central Ohio continues to prove this quote true. But, this short phrase is so much more meaningful than just getting through Columbus, Ohio weather!

People often look back on this quote when battling a rough patch in life. Sometimes it can be hard to see the positive that can come out of a tough time, but it’s important to keep a few things in mind when facing a challenging situation.

  • Let go of guilt and forgive

When you and your family are facing a tough time, it is important to understand that everyone will not quite be themselves. Little things that you would brush off before, may now make you upset. And, the same is true for your family and friends who are facing difficulties. You are not to blame for this, and neither are your friends and family. You all must learn to let go of guilt when you act out of character. And, you must forgive when someone you love acts out of character. If you cannot let go of guilt and find forgiveness, it will start a cycle of anger between you and your family, your friends, as well as yourself.

  • Allow others to help

It’s important to allow others to help. You may not be able to take on as much as you used to at work or at home. During a difficult time, it is important to be open and honest about what you are going through. And, if someone offers a helping hand allow them to assist you. During this time someone cutting your lawn or picking up a shift at work can make a world of a difference in your wellbeing.

  • Notice positive gestures

When you are going through a hard time it’s easy to be angry at the world. So, during this difficult time challenge yourself to look at the world in a different light. Thank the person who held the door open for you. Embrace the person who picked up the tab for your morning coffee. And, thank your spouse who stopped by the grocery store to pick up the milk you needed. Noticing these small gestures can make a difference on your overall attitude. If you are finding it difficult to notice these positive gestures, try starting a gratitude journal. Then, before you go to bed each night, note the things that happened that day which you are grateful for.

  • Be kind to yourself

You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s so important. Take time for yourself during tough times. A tough situation can take up a lot of your free time so, it’s important to make the most of every minute. Go for a walk to get fresh air. Take a hot bath with aroma therapy to relax. Or, if you have a bit more time, schedule a massage or a day trip. This may help to balance out the emotions you are feeling.

We know it can be hard to keep in hindsight, but always remember—April showers bring May flowers. As people, we will always change, hit rough patches and face challenges. But ultimately, a move to a new city, may bring us closer to new friendships. The passing of a loved one may allow you to be more understanding and compassionate in the future. And, no matter what the scenario, one day you may be able to help others going through a similar situation.

 

Peg’s Perspective: Life Lessons I Learned from Our Residents

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By: Peg Carmany

I first began to work in senior housing in 2002, and it’s remarkable to me how fast those 15 years have flown by.   As I look back, I think my biggest misconception at the beginning was that I was here to help them. In reality, they have given me invaluable gifts of knowledge and friendship.

Here are but a few of the things I have learned from my residents over the years:

  1. Adversity does not have to define you.     If you get a chance to live into your 80s (or 90s) (or 100s!), life will definitely throw you some curve balls.     Poor health.   Unexpected loss of a loved one.    Financial troubles.      You name it.    And at some point (and I’m not entirely sure at what age, but it will happen), you grieve, you adjust, and then you accept that everyone is carrying around something that is burdensome.
  2. Once you realize #1, you are kinder to others as a result.
  3. Gratitude is important. It sounds trite, “Count your blessings.”   But it is not trite, it is important.     Almost always, there is something, oftentimes more than one thing, to truly be grateful for, and to acknowledge.
  4. If you become a good listener, most people will think you’re a terrific conversationalist.
  5. Life is short, and it goes by quickly, and none of us are getting out of here alive. Don’t waste a day lost in meaningless details. Know that “This too shall pass,” eventually.

Now in 2018, I continue to remind myself how much our residents have helped me grow as a human being. I am better at handling the curveballs that life throws my way, whether it’s at home or at work and I strive, every day, to express my gratitude in a variety of ways. But most importantly, I truly enjoy spending time with the people who have taught me so much. There’s always room to grow.

Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

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Typically, when you think comfort food, you think large portions with lots of cheese (and maybe a little grease)! We tend to eat comfort food when it’s cold outside or when life gets tough. But, giving into these cravings too much could be bad for your health. It may result in feeling even worse or gaining weight. Check out these tips for when you have a strong comfort food craving.

Tips for eating your favorite comfort food:

  • Stop when you are full. Often, when eating comfort food we eat far too much. Why? Well, because it makes us feel good. Try to slow down when eating these foods. This will not only allow you to enjoy all of the flavors, but you’ll recognize when you are full, before it is too late.
  • When you just have to have that mac and cheese, then do it. But, make a conscience decision. Ask yourself, when is the last time I treated myself to something I enjoy eating, but isn’t the best for me? If it was last month, go for it. If it was breakfast this morning, maybe you should skip out this time.
  • Recognize your triggers. Many times, we can stop ourselves from our cravings if we recognize what is triggering those cravings. Let’s say, for example, you always want chocolate cake after a rough day. The rough day is the problem, not the fact you are craving the cake. You may spend all your time saying, I will stop craving chocolate cake verses, I will take time out of my busy days to take care of myself. By focusing on the problem, not the reaction to the problem, you may be able to limit these cravings.
  • Modify your favorite comfort foods! There can be many different substitutions for things to make a healthy alternative to your favorite comfort foods, see below to ideas.

Healthy comfort food ideas:

Turkey Chili

Take a note from one of our chef’s favorite dish, Turkey Chili. This spin on traditional comfort food is a healthy alternative! The Turkey Chili recipe combines beans, turkey, veggies and spices for a nutrient dense meal.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Trick yourself into thinking you’re eating pizza with this healthy crust. Top this heathy crust with veggies and you’re in for a full stomach.

Spinach Artichoke Lasagna

This is a great option for a weekend night, or dinner party. It takes more time to prepare, but your family and friends will thank you!

What are your favorite comfort foods?

How to Love Your Loved One When They Have a Life Limiting Illness

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By: Peg Carmany

When someone you love is diagnosed with a life limiting illness, it may be a time when the kaleidoscope of your life suddenly snaps into focus. Or it may be a time when the laser focus of your life becomes scattered. And very likely, there will be some of both. Of the research I have done, and the practical tips I can share from my own experience, these are my favorite pieces of advice:

1. Remember there is no right answer on how you’re supposed to act, and you should not assume that you are supposed to know exactly what to do and exactly how to act. It’s OK to fall apart, but one word of caution about that: try not to let the person who is ill be your primary source of comfort when you do hit a wall.
2. When trying to follow Tip 1, remember that your established role with this loved one doesn’t necessarily switch at the moment of diagnosis. Perhaps only one of you has ever been good under stress? It’s okay to keep it that way. Both of you may take great comfort in continuing on with familiar patterns.
3. Make it a priority to show your love as your loved one is facing what may be overwhelming and scary. It’s not all roses and chocolates – be authentic, be honest, and be yourself. Express gratitude to them for how they have positively impacted your life – and share happy memories – and don’t be afraid to say goodbye, tenderly.
4. Respect their authority to make their own decisions, whether you like it or not. These are their choices, not yours.
5. Keep things as normal as possible. Continue watching your favorite tv shows together or listening to their favorite music, it can be a very meaningful thing.
6. Laugh when you can, and don’t be afraid to poke a little fun at the whole situation. A sense of humor will lighten any mood!
7. And perhaps most importantly: listen, and give advice only when asked. This one can be the most challenging. Often, we are great talkers, but not the best listeners.

Remember, your loved one needs your emotional support. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often family and friends who live near by are more than willing to help with errands. And, if you need further support, Wesley Hospice can visit your home, the community you live in, and even hospitals.

We send our deepest condolences to the families who are faced with a loved one being diagnosed with a life limiting illness. And, we hope that with these tips you’ll be able to better love your loved one during this time.

Keeping a Routine Through Tough Times

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Whether your family member has just been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, passed away or you are going through a divorce, life can get hard. When things like this happen, we often find ourselves lying in bed a little longer in the morning, and dragging our feet throughout the day. Sound familiar? Trust me, we understand. That’s why it’s so important to keep a routine during any tough time. But, that’s easier said than done! Use these 3 tips to help you keep a routine, even when it feels impossible.
1. Start your day with something you love
Do you enjoy listening to the latest podcasts? Catching up on the news? Or, having a warm cup of coffee on your porch? Wake up, and make that thing the first thing you do in the morning. Not only will it help you to get out of bed, but it will get your day started on a positive note. When you wake up this way you may be more upbeat for the remainder of the day.
2. Change your expectations
Many people believe that a routine is set in stone and cannot be adjusted. And, this is simply not the case. You may not feel up to do everything you were doing before this tragedy right away. And, that is okay! Change your expectations to be more realistic. Remove the unnecessary tasks from your routine, but ensure that you continue to do the things that mean the most to you.
Let’s say that your typical day consists of waking up, going to the gym, cooking breakfast, showering, going to work, taking your dogs for a walk, getting dinner with your best friends, watching the latest episode of your favorite TV show, then cleaning your house, before you finally go to sleep. When you are faced with a difficult time, each of these activities can seem more and more daunting. Focus on the key activities that make you feel good and do those. Try to clean one room instead of the whole house. Or, opt into an at-home workout instead of going all the way to the gym in the morning. These minor adjustments can make a world of a difference when you are pushing through a hard time.
3. Let your emotions run their course
Begin to schedule in time to deal with your emotions because it’s important to let your emotions out. You may confide in a trusted friend over coffee a few times a week. Or, schedule time to write about it before bed. Maybe, you’ll talk to your family members about it in the comfort of your own home. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your friends and family about the situation, you can find support groups in your area. These groups could be a great option, too.
But, no matter what remember you are not alone. Many times, people who have been in your position before can give you great advice. But, sometimes you need to seek professional help. Always talk to your healthcare provider about any health concerns, including anxiety, depression and grief. Your health care provider may wish to monitor your health during this time.

Grief and Mourning: Dealing with the Death of a Loved One

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At some point all of us experience the loss of someone important in our lives. Dealing effectively and positively with grief caused by such a loss is central to a healthy and fulfilling life. Many people choose hospice services as their loved one’s health declines. Others do not. Wesley Hospice provides ongoing bereavement follow-up to family members and friends for 13 months following the patient’s death.

Below is information to help you understand some of the emotions you are likely to go through after the death of a loved one, and to offer some suggestions on how to cope and deal with these emotions.

Good Grief….What is Grief and Am I Experiencing It?

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; … a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2, 4

Grief – Natural Response to Loss

Grief is the normal and universal reaction humans have to the loss of those they love. Our culture envisions healing from grief the same way we think about healing from the flu…..that grief is something we get over completely….that if we take a few days off or take some medication, then we should be “cured” in no time. This is not true!

When your loved one dies, you go through a period of bereavement and experience grief that is individual to your experience and yet shares many aspects with all others who grieve. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. It is thought that intense grieving could last from months to years.

You will grieve in your own unique way, and a general pattern will emerge as you do so. Those around you may be full of ideas about how you are supposed to grieve, and how not. You may be told that grief comes in clear-cut stages, and you may even be given a name for the stage you are supposedly going through. You may hear advice like “Be strong!” or “Cheer up!” or “Get on with your life!” rather than be encouraged to allow your grief to run its natural course. It is important for you to be clear that this is your grief, not theirs. You will grieve in no one’s way but your own.

You may have times of disbelief that your loved one actually passed away; your mind may be confused and your thinking muddled, or have feelings of being in a fog. You may find it difficult to concentrate on just about everything. You may be able to focus your attention, but all you can focus on is the one who died, or how they died, or your life together.

Healthy grief has many possible faces and can express itself in many different ways. You are an individual, with your own personality, life experiences, relationship with the one who died, and understanding of life and death. You are unique and should not expect a “one-size-fits-all grief” to suit you. Despite your individual uniqueness, you will probably discover an overall pattern to your grief as it progresses. It often begins with a time of shock and numbness, especially if the death was sudden. Everything seems unreal. This is usually followed by a time when pain sets in. Sadness, loneliness, helplessness and fear may come over you in powerful waves. Anger and guilt may do the same, and continue for a while. In time, there comes a slow growing acceptance of what has happened, but it is not necessarily a happy acceptance.

Liver Disease and Nutrition

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The liver serves many purposes in the body, including filtering harmful substances from the blood, producing substances that assist with food digestion, and helping to change food into energy. There are many kinds of liver diseases, such as:

  • Cirrhosis: Scarring and hardening of the liver
  • Fatty Liver Disease: Build-up of fat in liver cells
  • Bile Duct Disease: Bile is a liquid made in the liver that helps break down fats in the small intestine. Bile duct disease keeps bile from flowing into the small intestine where it is utilized.
  • Hepatitis (A), (B) and (C): Disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A, B, or C virus
  • Hemochromatosis: Buildup of iron in the liver (inherited disease)
  • Others can be the result of drugs, poisons, or drinking too much alcohol

Some of the effects of liver disease include weight changes, loss of muscle mass, ascites and/or edema (fluid retention), jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine and/or light-colored stools, fatigue or loss of stamina, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, altered taste perception, and/or signs/symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiency. Depending on the diagnosis, alterations in calorie, protein, fluid, fat, vitamins or minerals may be recommended. For most liver diseases, a healthy diet will make it easier for the liver to function and may help repair some liver damage.

In general, it is important to:

  • Limit high sodium foods
  • Avoid foods that may cause foodborne illness such as:
    • Unpasteurized milk products
    • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs
    • Unwashed fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Eat enough food to obtain adequate calories, vitamins, and minerals.

How can these changes be made?

  • It may be easier to eat several small meals throughout the day (4-6) as opposed to a few large ones.
  • Look for no-sodium or low-sodium versions of foods you like to eat, such as crackers, cheese, canned vegetables, or soups.
  • Avoid overly processed foods, as these tend to be higher in sodium.
  • Use herbs, spices, vinegar, oils, juice, or herb mixes (e.g., Mrs. Dash) to flavor food instead of salt.
  • Between meals, enjoy healthy snacks, such as:
    • Fruits and vegetables with dip, whole milk, yogurt, cereal, bagels, roasted nuts, and peanut butter.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.

Keeping Peace During Holiday Gatherings

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The holiday season should be a time devoted exclusively to peace and joyful celebrations. When you think about this time of year, what comes to mind? For me, it’s time with family and friends. In the hustle of everyday life, it is nice to take a step back to spend time with the people you love.

But, the holidays are often the only time that most of the family can get together at once. So, many times families must have difficult conversations during this time. For example, a common conversation is how to continue caring for an aging parent, uncle, aunt or grandparent.

In truth, tensions like this among family members are often exacerbated by ongoing disputes,  rivalry  and conflicting expectations for the holiday. Of course, we feel it is our responsibility to keep the peace, which is not always easy when you bring together several different personalities,  all with different opinions.

Here are a few strategies to help keep the peace during your holiday gatherings:

  • Set a time and place for difficult conversations that you have to have. And, only have the decision makers in the room. Too many opinions can make a hard conversation, even harder.
  • Fun is the always a great buffer.  Singing Christmas carols, playing musical instruments, putting on a talent show and playing games are all great ways to get everyone to relax and enjoy each other’s company.  One year we did our own photo booth, which was a huge hit.
  • Learn something new.  During your holiday gathering, have each family member tell something new they learned or did for the first time this year.   Your family will learn that they have a lot more in common than they think.  We did this a few years ago, two family members who wanted to learn to quilt are now doing so with other family members.

Hopefully your holiday gatherings are peaceful, and the only disappointment you experience is when all of your loved ones leave.  Remind everyone to reach out to each other throughout the year, and you could even set a goal for the family to come together again in the summer!

*Updated article from December 19, 2014