love letter in motion
Caring Action, Elderly, Unified Caring Association

How to Breathe Life into Someone Over the Holidays

Imagine being isolated and feeling a great sense of abandonment from loved ones. Imagine the despair and helplessness we’d feel. While this is simply a visualization, it’s also the reality for many of our elderly during this pandemic in nursing homes. The same is true for US Veterans in VA Hospitals.

Mrs. Rona has made many VA Hospitals and nursing homes close their doors to visitors. These visitors are the life line for many of those in long term care. It’s often the highlight of their days and whispers felicity into their souls. With everything being shut down, their joy is being shut down.

Hellen’s Loss

An extreme example of what can happen during these times comes from Hellen P. Here’s what happened in her own words: “My mother was in a facility in another state…with the close-down, she didn’t understand why we couldn’t visit her or drop off things (especially her favorite foods). Mom didn’t recognize the personnel in all the protective gear (they changed their policy to identify themselves every time they entered a room). Mom did what we used to call, “Turned her face to the wall”. She passed away on Mother’s Day from Failure to Thrive. She felt abandoned.”

This is just one story of the pain that this pandemic has caused our elder population. The great news is we can help!

We are the Solution

With the Holidays upon us, we have a huge opportunity to be a gift to those who may feel forgotten. The best part is this gift doesn’t cost much and benefits our well-being!

breathe life into someone by sending a letter

We are all invited to contact local nursing homes, VA hospitals, and other long term care facilities to see if they have any one in their care who could use a holiday card. Those of us who can afford to take it further are encouraged to ask about “adopting” a patient and providing them with holiday gifts.

These random acts of kindness can lift the spirits of those who may feel forgotten (especially during this time). At the end of the day, we will benefit from the small gesture as well. According to researchers at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire “engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins, the brain’s natural painkiller! Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population.” Performing kind acts also:

  • Gives us energy
  • Increases our own happiness
  • Releases oxytocin which lowers our blood pressure
  • Helps to reduce anxiety

The Choice is Ours

Let us not forget the truth in the words spoken by Robert Ingersoll; “we rise by lifting others.” Now that we know an extreme example of how this pandemic is hurting members of our own communities and how easy it is to help, it’s up to us to decide if we are willing to be the gift this holiday season. The choice is ours!

By Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author

Support Love for Our Elders

love for our elders

Unified Caring Association (UCA) sponsors projects to provide care for the elderly as a part of the C.A.R.E. Program by UCA.  Love for Our Elders is a nonprofit sponsored by UCA to provide a vehicle for receiving and delivering love letters to seniors in care facilities.  It’s so simple to write a letter or record a brief video message to be delivered to our elders in their greatest hours of need.  The choice is ours to take action!

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

upside down man
Caring Action, Self-Care

The World is Crazy; So Here’s the Plan

Remember “normalcy?” It’s been a while. But before this current version of “crazy,” you probably thought elements of your “way back then” life were pretty crazy too.

upside down man

It didn’t require the first worldwide pandemic in 100 years to hear people saying things like:

  • “I’m not cut out for this.”
  • “I’m getting too old for this.”
  • “I didn’t sign up for this.”

It’s good to recall the words of Mrs. Nussbaum from the old neighborhood: “Always be prepared for crazy.”

It was her simple way of saying: “I don’t want to hear about things not being perfect. I want to hear that you are better prepared to handle it next time.”

She was tough, but fair.  But most of all, she was wise.

That’s because “being prepared for crazy” is a state of mind.  And it’s incredibly useful when it comes to sticking to goals and living a healthy, caring life.  Take comfort in this. Especially when the world goes crazy. Or stays crazy.

Bake In The Crazy

If you have a goal of lifting weights three times a week, you want to stick to it, right? Same thing if the goal is to sleep eight hours a night.

When everything hums along without any hiccups, it’s easy to stick to your goal. If traffic is light, or the boss doesn’t make you stay late, you’ve got time to lift.  If you go to bed on time, you’ll get the eight hours.

But what about when the crazy happens?  Isn’t that the catalyst for making excuses?

The goals are still important, but you didn’t expect the traffic jam.  So you give yourself permission to skip the weights. You didn’t expect the Peterson’s to over-stay their welcome last night. So it’s not your fault your sleep schedule becomes a nightmare.

Okay.  Fair enough. But the only predictable thing about life is how unpredictable it is.  So how can you stay on-track when day-to-day life is so dynamic?  How can you plan and anticipate for the crazy?

If Zig Happens, Then Zag

The Zig/Zag Technique is the ultimate way to plan for crazy and stay on schedule even when life goes bananas. Why? Because it forces you to create a strategy for dealing with chaos before you need to.

If you don’t get home in time to lift weights, then you’ll lift weights in the morning before work.

If you didn’t get eight hours of sleep last night, maybe you’ll work in a “power nap” during lunch.

The Zig/Zag Technique helps you to consider the unpredictable craziness that so often enters our daily lives. And it provides more options for sticking to your goals.  Life is a crooked line, after all.

Do Something vs. Nothing

Maybe the world is crazier than it used to be.  Or maybe it’s always been crazy, but we talk about it more now.  Either way, you can be sure of countless mini-emergencies every day.  Each one designed to re-route you from your goals. But you can do something about it.  And that’s the key. Something is always better than nothing. 

If you choose to plan for the crazy and use the Zig/Zag Technique to find options for staying on-track, then your day will stay on-course.

One other thing Mrs. Nussbaum used to say:  “Look, dearie.  Maybe you can’t always do it all. But you can always do something small.”

She’s right.

Forget the crazy.

It will always be with us in one form or another.

Doing something (however small) is at least a start. From maintaining goals, to pursuing a caring life – it all comes down to a willingness to start. Or get started over and over again. Comforting to know, isn’t it? And there’s nothing crazy about that.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!