Navigating The Challenges Of Caring For A Parent: Selected Resources

This list features some of the resources families I work with have found useful. It is no means meant to be comprehensive, but should provide a good starting point for Virginia families who are taking on the role as caregivers for one or both of their parents.

Virginia Caregiver Coalition – https://www.vda.virginia.gov/vcc.htm

The premier grassroots advocacy group for family caregivers in Virginia. Membership provides education, access to resources and a voice in legislation to support your care-giving efforts. Membership is free.

No Wrong Door – https://www.nowrongdoorvirginia.org

Network of resources of long-term supports and services for seniors and people with disabilities. One phone call connects you with a “concierge” who listens to your needs and directs you to services that can help.

Senior Navigator – https://seniornavigator.org

A must-see website that includes good information on a variety of aging issues. The sections of “Family Conversations” and “Family Dynamics” can be particularly helpful as your journey caring for your parents begins.

Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services – https://www.vda.virginia.gov/index.htm

The Office for Aging Services of the Division for Community Living helps older Virginians live as independently as possible by coordinating and providing services to help them maintain their dignity and security. Our website provides information that aging Virginians, caregivers and their families can use in making important decisions about their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Leading Age – Virginia – https://leadingagevirginia.org

An association of not-for-profit aging services organizations serving residents and clients through life plan/continuing care retirement communities, senior housing, assisted living, nursing homes, adult day centers and home and community based services

Department of Social Services – https://www.dss.virginia.gov/benefit/

The Virginia Department of Social Services develops and administers programs that provide timely and accurate income support benefits and employment services to families and individuals in the Commonwealth. Look under “Assistance” for adult programs.

Area Agency on Aging – vaaaa.org/

25 local area agencies on aging (AAA’s) are spread across Virginia to bring support and resources closer to home. Find yours and connect with them today.

Family Caregiver Alliance – https://www.caregiver.org

Based in California with Chapters nationwide. FCA’s work intersects three key areas: caregiver services, policy, and research.

Benefit Finder | Benefits.gov – https://www.benefits.gov/benefit-finder#benefits&qc=cat_1

Benefits.gov is an online resource to help you find federal benefits you may be eligible for in the United States.

Virginia Insurance Counseling & Assistance Program (VICAP)
https://www.vda.virginia.gov/vicap.htm

Part of a national network of programs that offers FREE, unbiased, confidential counseling and assistance for people with Medicare

Virginia Health Information – http://www.vhi.org/About/default.asp

Useful resource with information on health insurance, hospitals and physicians.

AARP – https://www.aarp.org
Everything Aging from news and lifestyle to advice and discounts.

National Council On Aging – www.ncoa.org
Helps people aged 60+ meet the challenges of aging. They partner with nonprofit organizations, government, and business to provide innovative community programs and services, online help, and advocacy.

Good Article from US News & World Report on Parenting Parents – https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-best-life/2011/07/18/10-tips-for-caring-for-aging-parents

The 90 Second Rule

When you are working with clients who have anger issues, you may want to consider teaching him or her “The 90-Second Rule.” Our emotions come into our body and are interpreted in the brain. We think we feel them in the brain, but the emotions are actually feelings in the body. When an intense emotion such as anger comes into the body, it will be funneled straight to the adrenal glands. Then adrenaline is sent to the brain through vagus nerve. It goes to the amygdala which is the switching station in the lymbic system. The amygdala interprets the message as anger. This message is sent to the hypothalamus (the hypothalamus is the emotional regulator) which then floods the brain with cortisol. When the brain is flooded with the anger message we received from the body, we experience the anger. This is the course of anger that allows us to say sometimes, “I’m so angry I could burst.”   No matter what the cause of that anger, the process between the adrenalin gland, the spinal cord, the amygdala and the hypothalamus and then the constant anger surging through the body, will only last 90 seconds unless you continue to feed the anger.
So what does that mean? The amazing thing is that if you stop this chemical process, the anger will stop. The key is, don’t feed the anger. An example would be when one is driving and somebody cuts him or her off. Our driver had the right of way but almost hit the other car. Just barely missing it. The other driver drove on probably not even knowing that he almost hit the person in our example. But for the next half an hour our driver is saying to him/herself, “That stupid so and so, I wish he were here so I could give him a piece of my mind.”   As long as the driver keeps this message going, it keeps the anger going. It feeds the emotion. The cortisol keeps flooding the brain and repeatedly triggering more anger and stress. The other guy is down the road oblivious to what almost happened. Our driver is ruining his/her day over something the other driver probably didn’t know anything about.

Get your clients to learn a new behavior which is to say to him/herself, “That was a stupid thing he did and it pissed me off but there’s nothing I can do about it now.” Then the person in our example isn’t feeding the anger and in 90 seconds it will naturally dissipate. In time the client will learn to catch themselves before they feed the anger beyond its original 90 second life

The 90-Second Rule is a very interesting piece of neurology that is important to the work that we do treating DID. Almost all people with DID have angry “parts”. With this understanding, you can teach the angry parts to wait ninety seconds and they will generally stabilize. If you don’t feed the anger, then the chemical reaction that’s been kicked off in the brain will simply peter out and you will no longer be experiencing angry. I teach this technique to clients with angry parts and it is extremely effective in stabilizing them. Of course, most of the time, we are all inclined feed the chemical reaction over and over again. But the thing to remember is — you don’t have to.