Guest Posts Revisited – Jane Hanser – The Burden Interview: Of Mothers, Caregivers, Sons and Daughters


Jane Hanser contributed her post in 2014  about an issue that resonates with most of us who have been carers for an elderly relative and those who understand that this is a distinct possibility in the future. The post is as relevant if not more today as governments debate how much of your life’s savings they will deduct to provide you with long term care.

What is interesting is that if you are a full time carer in the UK, you will be lucky to receive £50 per week and that is taxable if you have other income. Considering that care homes charge several hundred pounds plus… per week to offer less that one to one care and not always to the standard that you would prefer…it would seem that the government should think about recompensing family members significantly more. If they wish to deduct that salary from your inheritance I have no problem with that since it is the here and now that elderly family members need loving and caring attention.

The aim is always to ensure that those we love enjoy the last few years of their life in a pain free, enjoying their usual activities, being nourished and surrounded by love.  That is the ideal but unfortunately most of us have to juggle our own lives and families to accomplish this and whilst it should be a team effort with other family members and with support services it is not always the case.

I was lucky many others are not.  I will now hand over to Jane to continue……

The Burden Interview: Of Mothers, Caregivers, Sons and Daughters

“You’re better at it,” wrote my brother in an email after I complained that he wasn’t doing anything for our elderly mom while I was doing everything.

His words still sting like a bumble bee.

Was that really supposed to appease me, or my primary care physician who was becoming extremely concerned as my blood pressure was rising higher and higher and higher and I was becoming pre-diabetic from lack of physical exercise? Or was it supposed to provoke?

Add to that the layer that he, my brother, lived only 20 minutes away from our mother, while I lived 300 miles away.

A Boston-based 2012 study indicated that daughters, twice as often as sons, become the elderly mother’s caretakers. But still, sons comprise up to 30% of those care giving for elderly parents. In Canada up to 30% of those caring for elderly parents are sons, shows a Canadian study. The “elderly parents” are usually mothers, since women generally outlive men.

While the men in the Canadian study indicated positives as well as negatives in caretaking, they still assumed that responsibility. Married men generally had the support of their wives, with whom they discussed decisions they were making.

So how does it get to be the daughter living six hours away becomes the primary caretaker when the son, living 20-25 minutes away, does virtually nothing? And what repercussions does this have on my, the caretaker by default, health, finances, social life and emotional well-being?

After another email months later to my brother in which I outlined everything I’d been doing vis a vis my mom and the toll it was taking on me, his response was “Thanks.”

Mine back was was “I don’t want your thanks. I want your help.”

While I could never anticipate my mother’s declining cognitive, and physical, condition, I also could never anticipate that I would get absolutely no help or support from my “bro” or support from my sister-in-law, receiving instead just the meek justification for why it was that he was totally defaulting on the small things, including asking for information about her current health, and the very large and major things and decisions.

The word “burden” is used repeatedly in all studies about adult children as caretakers of elderly and frail parents. And it completely amazed me that there is something actually called “The Burden Interview,” which I discovered on an online search.

This discovery was a true relief, and I gladly read the questions and circled my answer, recognizing so many aspects of what the questions addressed. Twenty of the 22 questions on the Zarit Burden Interview begin “Do you feel…..” or “Do you feel that…” One question begins “Are you afraid about…” and the last and 22nd question begins, “Overall, how burdened to you feel…” Answers ranged from Never (score of zero) to Nearly Always (score 5). I wish that the question “Do you feel that your health has suffered because of your involvement with your relative?” should score a 5 and that my doctor’s feelings about this should add in a bonus 5 points. Feelings are big in this test.

Test takers have 30 minutes for this test. Mine took much less, let’s not say how much less. Then I added up my score. Yup! “Moderate to Severe Burden.”

The one question that I’d like to see the questionnaire ask is: “Do you feel angry at other family members who are doing less than you are?” or “Do you feel that other family members should be doing a better job at caring for your relative?”

I do, and I do. I wish the Burden Interview asked these questions because the complete lack of participation in my mother’s caregiving by the person geographically closest to her adds a lot of stress too.

When one family member is clearly dis-involved, and wants to be dis-involved, there is no communication that is going to get you the understanding, and the help, that you want. There is no way to go but to accept that and let go. To do otherwise would be to increase ones emotional stress, and therefore burden and the consequences of that.

“Anger deprives the sage of his wisdom, a prophet of his vision,” says the Talmud. More conversations, more attempts to get somebody to see your distress or point of view would end in just more frustration, and disappointment, and a self-destructive cycle of anger.

CARETAKERS of ELDERLY PARENTS: How many others like me are there out there? I would guess I’m not the only one.

It’s often repeated how commonly families break up over money, especially after the death of a parent and the distribution of the estate.

Or, in this case, they functionally and emotionally break up long before. And when that’s the case, don’t hang on and let it raise your BURDEN SCORE even more!!

About the author

 

Jane Hanser’s poetry and essays have been published in numerous print and online journals such as Poetica Magazine, The Persimmon Tree, Every Writer’s Resource, and others. She has developed software to teach writing, self-published a grammar book and taught English as a Second Language at several campuses of the City University of New York. She has an M.Ed. in English Education and ESL from the Graduate School of Temple University. In her other life, Jane is dedicated to many and varied community activities, in particular feeding the hungry, literacy, and bicycle and pedestrian safety. She spends way too much time on the computer and would like to rejuvenate her painting watercolors. She is married and lives, works and plays in Newton, MA. Joey’s descriptions of her in Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways are, except for a few insignificant details of time and place, true and accurate.

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  • A 2015 B.R.A.G. MEDALLION HONOREE for Literary Fiction.
  • 2015 IPNE FINALIST  (Independent Publishers of New England) for Young Adults.
  • 2015 IPNE FINALIST for Literary Fiction.

About the book

Set in the neighborhood of the Boston Marathon, an irrepressibly energetic, curious and gregarious chocolate Labrador Retriever named Joey loves to run and run. He also has an insatiable sense of discovery. But will it lead him to gratification – or to danger? Preparing his shenanigans well in advance, Joey discretely makes his move early one morning, a move that forever changes his life and the lives of his mom and dad, his running partner,and leaves them to pick up the pieces. This heartwarming book, now a 2015 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree for Literary Fiction, narrates a true story with a unique voice.

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways is a true story about freedom, rules and boundaries, communication, and,of course, our dependence on the kindness of others.

Appropriate for all adults and for children 5th grade and up.

One of the 76 reviews for the book

Joey is a loveable dog who cannot stay out of trouble. He loves to run with his dad, and gets bored when he is home by himself or with his mom. His morning run just isn’t enough exercise for a Labrador retriever. He is always using his senses to find ways out of the backyard fence to explore the world beyond. This always gets him in trouble with his “mom” who usually gets a call from a friend or neighbor who saw him out wandering. One day after Joey “escaped” from his backyard; a car accident nearly kills him. The road back to healing and health is a long and arduous climb for both Joey and his family.

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways is a well written, character driven story with numerous escapades by Joey. Writing from Joey’s point of view must have been a difficult task for the author. Though it can be an enjoyable read for an adult, I believe it would be better suited to a child who is old enough to read chapter books.

Buy the book

Authors Page on Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Dogs-Dont-Look-Both-Ways/dp/0991514904
Follow Jane on Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21818455-dogs-don-t-look-both-ways

Links to connect to Jane Hanser
http://www.dogsdontlookbothways.com
http://dogsdontlookbothways.blogspot.com/
http://mommeandelderly.blogspot.com/

Thank you for dropping by today and I look forward to your views on the subject. My thanks to Jane for her honest and thought provoking post that applies to so many families these days. Sally

 

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Guest Post – Jane Hanser on the long-term joys of watching and playing tennis


Wimbledon is done for another year and for those of us who are addicted to 100 miles an hour serves, tantrums and referees holding court from their highchairs… here is the views of one such addict… Jane Hanser.

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Tennis, Timing, Tenacity, and Trophies

Serena Williams was talking about footwork, and I watching and listening intently. Mary Carillo was, too, except that she, being actually there with Serena, also got to ask questions. The women’s singles match played out on the court in front of them, Serena was speaking about the player on the court, Justin Henin. Serena’s saying how excellent Justin’s footwork is. I had never really thought about footwork as an essential skill in tennis. My tennis pro’s were always focusing on side to the net, swing, follow through, grips, arms, things like that, getting back into ready position for the next shot.

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This was a breakthrough. Sitting on the sofa, I listened and listened. I need to hear this, I think to myself.

The next time I got ready to play a game of tennis with my husband, he carried bag with the ice cold drinks and Power Bar, I carried my racket, ready to go and to play like a pro, complete with footwork, big steps then smaller steps.

We play at the high school courts. I think I lost, 6 games to 3.

The next grand slam, the US Open and I was watching Marion Bartoli. I had loved to watch her gut it out, as unorthodox a player as she was. I felt akin to her temperament: She was passionate but kept it under control. She can be a role model for me. Her serve was so smooth and her starting point was something that I could model. I could see exactly where her hands began, the right wrist resting on her left thumb. To me, the fewer and more defined the movements the better!! I can serve with a serve like hers, I thought. I watched and watched.

The next time we played, I practiced Marion’s serve. I didn’t do so well, but I’m going to keep the serve. It works for me, I think. For my husband, I took videos of him serving and then showed him videos of Roger Federer’s serve. Smooth, confident, and steady.

With the next slam, I was watching Roger on the court on TV. The TV commentators were saying that his opponent was getting pushed back and pushed back. I get it. I could see that Roger was right along the baseline, moving left right left right but always right along the baseline and often moving inside it. By staying along the baseline, he has an advantage because he’s on the ball sooner and upon the return gives his opponent less time to react. I can do this, I thought to myself! Just visualize Roger’s on-court movement.

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The next time my husband and I played tennis, I lost my service game, he lost his, I lost mine, he lost his. Since it’s all even, we like to think “We’re holding serve!” Then I won some of my service games, and he some of his. At 6-all, we quit. On to Starbucks, for a cool down and mocha frappuccinos.

In the next tennis cycle, I was watching another slam, the Australian Open, watching my fave, Rafa! I look at his focused eyes as he and the ball approach each other, and I recall the words from far away time and place, “Keep your eye on the ball.” Rafa was moving, the little ball was moving, and Rafa’s focus on the little moving object never wavered. ” His eyes are in the court, on the ball. “That’s what I need to do,” I thought to myself. Roger has the same focus too. It occurred to me that the tennis swing is somewhat like golf: Head steady on the ball. Maybe this eyes on the ball would help my golf swing too.

The next time my husband and I played tennis, I wasn’t doing so well. It was 6-4 and I was the four. But I think I played better, more rallies and shots that I was proud of.

A few Sundays later, back on the court, I also recalled what my teacher of a few years ago wanted me to do: Hit the ball at its highest point in its arc. In order to do this, I would have to follow the ball with my eyes as it comes over the net toward me and the moment it hits the ground, say to myself “One Two Hit.” Does Roger say that to himself? “Hit” would have to be when the ball was at that highest point. The ball was once clear and crisp. With our traditional way of holding serve but winning a few of our own service games, at 6-all we quit. Starbucks and mochas. “We’re coming along,” I comment.

Next slam, French Open. There was Martina Navratilova, a great commentator on women’s tennis, in the broadcast booth. On her website is the comment, “The ball doesn’t know how old I am.” I keep this in mind, and all her competitions over the years. Watching TV on a Sunday, I feel lazy. I don’t want to move!!! But I envision watching Martina and Leander Paes playing remarkable mixed doubles and Martina reminds me. “The ball doesn’t know how old I am.”

It’s slam time again. I was watching our all-American tennis hero, Andy Roddick. He makes me seasick when he plays but I couldn’t get my eyes off his backhand!! He’s a righty and has both a two-handed and a one-handed so this was great for me. I saw that as he swings his arms to meet the ball and follow through, his left arm is firm and straight, providing steadiness and power. My right arm was not firm and straight. “I can do this. I will work on this and I will hit a backhand like Andy Roddick!” I commit myself.

The time my husband and I played, we were on serve – but only because I won his service games and he won mine. Still, not bad. I was glad when I won my points. My backhand was coming along. In my mind, I looked like Andy Roddick.

This summer, I noticed it becoming a little more difficult as my eyes, in their aging process (or maybe looking at my cell phone too much) were losing their ability to focus on small and quickly moving objects. It became a different mental game. Easily distracted, I had to work hard to focus and keep out extraneous thoughts or images. Including those of my old tennis teaching saying “One, two, hit.”

It’s now July and the 2015 Wimbledon champions have been proclaimed. My husband and I agree to head out to the courts. I lace up, put on my ankle brace, my wrist brace, we get our drinks and my power bar. We secure our court. It’s really hot today. Maybe it’s hit 90. There’s a little shade over by the back. It’s humid too. At some point we have to start hitting and we take our positions on opposite sides of the net. We start close to the net. Oops…That’s one into the net! We play on. Then we step further back, then further back at the baseline, hitting longer, deeper, harder. Soon we begin games. We play on and on. I throw in a couple of Serena bounces before the serve, to help loosen up my hand and my mind, then prepare my Marion Bartoli serve. I have to work harder to control my mind to have Rafa’s and Roger’s focus on the moving fuzzy yellow ball so that I can actually see it as it gets closer and closer to me. Soon it’s 4-all. We agree to play two more games: Both go to Phil. Still, I have held four of my own service games.

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We head on over to our post-game watering hold: Starbucks.

At Starbucks, my husband goes inside and up to the counter as I wait at a table outside, orders, waits, then heads back toward me, his hand extended. I receive my trophy under the accolade of the hot afternoon sun. There are no cameras. My trophy is cold. I don’t lift it over my head. I don’t bite it like Rafa Nadal. I don’t kiss it like Novak. I take a sip out of it. It’s my cold mocha frappuccino, hold the whipped cream, low-fat milk.

I think I played my game and I played it very well. I played my best tennis.

©Jane Hanser July 2015

Image of Roger Federer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Federer

About Jane Hanser

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Jane Hanser’s poetry and essays have been published in numerous print and online journals such as Poetica Magazine, The Persimmon Tree, Every Writer’s Resource, and others.

She has developed software to teach writing, self-published a grammar book and taught English as a Second Language at several campuses of the City University of New York. She has an M.Ed. in English Education and ESL from the Graduate School of Temple University. In her other life, Jane is dedicated to many and varied community activities, in particular feeding the hungry, literacy, and bicycle and pedestrian safety.

She spends way too much time on the computer and would like to rejuvenate her painting watercolors. She is married and lives, works and plays in Newton, MA. Joey’s descriptions of her in Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways are, except for a few insignificant details of time and place, true and accurate.

Buy the book

Authors Page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Dogs-Dont-Look-Both-Ways/dp/0991514904
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21818455-dogs-don-t-look-both-ways
Links
http://www.dogsdontlookbothways.com
http://dogsdontlookbothways.blogspot.com/
http://mommeandelderly.blogspot.com/

Please feel free to comment, share.  If you would like to guest post then please let me know..

 

Guest Post – Jane Hanser – The Burden Interview: Of Mothers, Caregivers, Sons and Daughters


Health and Nutrition at any age, Life in General, Personal thoughts and tagged Dogs don\’t look both ways, Elderly care, Families, family duty, Jane Hanser

via Guest Post – Jane Hanser – The Burden Interview: Of Mothers, Caregivers, Sons and Daughters.

Third and Long: A Tribute to Jerry Wolman by author Jane Hanser


Unfortunately I cannot reblog from Jane’s blog on another provider so I have included a short excerpt and do recommend that you click on the link to continue the story as it is inspiring and poignant..

When Jane Hanser was a young child she met a man and his family who showered her with kindness. This is the start of the story and you can continue by clicking the link to Jane’s blog.

Third and Long: A Tribute to Jerry Wolman

“3rd and Long” didn’t mean anything to me, I thought, fixing my gaze on the text on the caller ID after the first ring. What 3rd Street or 3rd Avenue did I know? What Long Street or Long Avenue?

The second ring happened fast on the heels of the first. I ran through all the numbered streets in cities where I had lived. “Long” anything didn’t come to mind, but the caller ID didn’t have the look of a crank call either. The third ring told me I was running out of time to think about answering or not. This ID was different. It was alluring. I picked up the handset.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Is this the little twelve-year-old girl at the Café Le Can Can?” a man’s voice asked.

I didn’t know then, but I do now, that Third and long is a football term that’s used when the offense faces a third down and is more than a short running play away from a first down, usually more than 5 yards. Third and long means that you have a chance of making a first down, but it won’t be easy. At that time, I just thought it was strange, or suspicious.

Continue the story at………..

http://janerewrites.blogspot.com/2015/04/third-and-long-tribute-to-jerry-wolman.html?m=1

Jane Hanser is author of Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways A wonderful read for all dog lovers or those who simply enjoy an inspiring story about love.

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www.dogsdontlookbothways.com