Caring for Elderly Parents

Dealing with issues while caring for your elders.

Very few of us are blessed with the responsibility of caring for one’s parents. I cannot express the rewards and blessings that I enjoy just due to their presence in our home.

My parents have been with me for five years now. It is heartbreaking to see one’s parents getting  weaker day by day. Yet, being with them at this time in their life is the greatest feeling.   It has been a time full of ‘raunaq’ and lots of fun too. Our times have been difficult, happy, rewarding and wonderful. I’ve written in detail about almost every aspect here. Now that they are older, I felt that a brief updating is needed.

In my blog post on weekly planning  here, you will notice that it is best to plan one’s own week from physical, social/emotional, intellectual, financial and spiritual point of view. So, while caring for one’s parents too,  it should be the same .

Physical caring:

 

  • Clothing: Make sure clothing is comfortable and easy to change. Get new clothes for them, especially every season and on special occasions. (You can give away another dress with their permission which can become charity from their side.)
  • Get as much help of manpower as you can afford. Train them and motivate them well. Do, give surprise checks. Yet, keep their morale high, by appreciating their efforts. We know, it is a tough job. So, be kind to them. Yet, they must realize that they have to be efficient. Your surprise checks and vigilant care must be there also.
  • Equipment: Use the appropriate equipment available in medical shops. This  could include hospital bed,  wheelchair, walker, special chair for bathing, and the one for the WC is also good.
  • Dealing with incontinence: Remember your parents can become incontinent, (you don’t remember a time, when you used to be that as a kid, so stop turning up your nose.) If necessary,  pampers and catheters can help. Make sure rules of hygiene are followed. You can find water proof slip covers for mattresses, also  smaller water proof sheets to protect the place they sit or sleep in.
  • Family doctor: Have a good doctor on call nearby, whom you can consult on your phone also, preferably who is willing to visit your home. Otherwise, do take your parents to hospital on time. I’ve found that responding to first signs of problems is better than waiting for things to get worse, and then going in an emergency. On the other hand, after some time, you realize, you can handle at least fifty percent of the issues on your own. You learn from every hospital experience. Soon you can reduce trips to hospital.
  • Laboratory Tests: Let me tell you one secret. Every doctor is made to advise you to have so many ‘tests’ taken. (This is all cash income for the hospital – believe me, my ninety year old dad has been tested for fertility!) This is not a laughing matter, so do counter question the doctor about each and every test that he prescribes. Ask if it is invasive and what it is all about. You will find, half of them are unnecessary. I’ve realized some counter questioning can make a big difference. Of course, you cannot do this in an emergency, but you can be vigilant on normal visits.
  • Emergency services: Do proper emergency services research, to find out which hospital is best. In Islamabad, Quaid-e-Azam hospital is the best these days. Do find out what is good for which type of emergencies.  Going to the right place for the specific emergency is vital.
  • Healthy foods and their intake: As far as food is concerned, sometimes the intake is restricted due to dental problems. In that case, getting good dental work done is essential. My father got a set of teeth put in, which is the full set. Due to that he looks good and also can eat well. Now, he is having problem in swallowing. So, now we just liquidize the food, and make it into a porridge so he can have the food. Make sure their nutritional intake is good. Fruits and vegetables are a must, as is meat and milk.
  • Herbal and natural treatments: Try to use herbal and natural treatments as much as possible.
  • Safety: Have handles placed in washrooms and preferably soft flooring, to avoid slipping and falls.

Social and emotional care:

 

  • Home environment: Keep a happy environment in your home, and in their room. Try keeping their familiar things with them.  
  • Take them often for outings: Do make sure the outings are within the time slot of their waking hours, and smooth and well planned. Do not tax them too much. Never be out too long.
  • Encourage visitors: Having visitors over to meet your elders is the best thing. Specially persons they love. Such moments are cherished by all. When visitors come you need to inform them about your parent’s routine. Be vigilant about their sleeping and eating hours. Encourage guests to adhere to these hours. Otherwise, take the parents in to rest, and entertain the guests yourself.
  • Mood swings: Take the bad moods with humor and patience. It is okay. Remember, as kids we would bellow our heads off? So, it is okay if they want to do it sometimes. Even now, we all have our moments.
  • Love: Plenty of love and care is all that they need. Hug them tightly, and sing their favorite songs for them too. Otherwise, keep the I-pad handy.
  • Psychological issues: Just be happy and keep them happy eighty percent of the time. Be patient and loving. However, if you feel that your parent is being too aggressive and impatient, know that it can be a medical condition, not age related at all. Perhaps there is another issue: As Dr. Shahid once mentioned, a problem can be due to any of three  following factors:
    • Age, 
    • Illness.
    • Medication. It could be the reaction of two types of medications that you are giving, causing this side effect. Only a doctor can find out, and monitor this situation. Preferably a good psychiatrist.
  1. Intellectual care:

  • Use intellectual triggers of memory and learning to keep their minds active. Use of color and sounds also help. Put on their favorite music for them by using the Youtube, and help with finding whatever interests them. Get new gadgets like mobile phone, ipad and computer for them, help them in getting comfortable with these.
  • Reading of books and magazines is very good. If they can’t read themselves, you can read out. You can see what they like and make sure you help them attain it. I know my father loves Allama Iqbal, Ghalib and Mian Muhammad Bukhsh, so I often read their poetry out to him, and his face really brightens up. He even fills in with verses that I cannot remember. It is a wonderful experience.
  • There will be times when he or she is disoriented. Just go along.  You will notice, most of the times they are perfectly fine and fully alert.
  • When you speak to your parent, look in the eye, speak slowly and slightly loudly. Keep your expression pleasant and listen when he speaks. Be patient and repeat what you understand. (Another point suggested by Dr. Shahid. He is a consultant at IDC F-8, Islamabad.)
  1. Financial care:

  • It is essential to let them enjoy the fruits of their lifelong hard work. Their property and wealth is theirs. Help them benefit from it. They deserve to enjoy and have all the comforts of all that they own.
  • If they aren’t financially stable, then do give them all that you can.
  • Unfortunately, I’ve come across very ugly scenes where on the death of the father, the children are talking of ‘distribution’ in the lifetime of their mother. How can anyone even think of such a thing? If only one parent is left,  let him enjoy his wealth till the end of his life. You didn’t make it, it is theirs.  Your parent deserves to use his or her wealth to be financially independent .
  • Remember, when you were young, your mother could have got many jobs, but didn’t take them for your sake. Now, when she is old and feeble, you want to deprive her of her own and her husbands’ belongings in their lifetime? I’m really shocked.
  • You are young, robust and strong. You cannot even imagine the hardships your parents suffered to bring you to this strong position that you are enjoying today.
  1. Spiritual care:

  • Reading out Holy Quran to them, is a good way to start the day. Do it with meanings in the language which they understand best. Your voice will be like a tonic for them.
  • Help them in saying prayers.
  • Give sadqa and charity for organizations from their side, or get food distribution in soup kitchens etc.

Take care of your parents with love, and you shall certainly be blessed.

 

 

My Visit to Citizen Service Center.

It is a 15 Police Facilitation Center in F-6/1 , the heart of Islamabad.

It is great to see improvements in different organizations in one’s country. Islamabad has usually had an edge over the rest of the country. The latest improvement has been in the establishment of this Citizen Service Center. It was good to hear that it was Ahsan Iqbal the Interior Minister, and Sultan Azam Taimoori IG Police who initiated the establishment of this office. This center was opened in May 2018. It is the first of its kind, (I certainly hope it isn’t the last!)

The Sub-inspector Abid Mehmood was incharge there, and gave me all information needed. He was extremely cooperative. Once he learnt I was a writer and blogger, he personally gave me a round of this office and gave permission for me to take these photographs.

So, if you have any problem, you can come to inform the police here.

Facilities at the Center:

The best thing is that it has a one-window operation.

They settle almost all issues for you. If you have been to your local police ‘thana‘, and they aren’t filling in the FIR, then you can get it done here. The renewal of your driving licence too can be done here. If you are going to buy a car or vehicle, you can get it verified here, to check for any police record against that vehicle.

One very important thing that every one of us must do is, E to give CNIC card photocopies, and details about all domestic help working at their residence, here.  Even the part-time help and their work and timings need to be given here. This is a very important security thing that each of us must conscientiously do.  I suppose it also includes all the times that you fire a servant, cook or driver, so you inform them. This will make sure the person isn’t on your list anymore.

On the photograph you can find all the different problems that are solved here. As you can see it is a varied and long list.

All foreigners and Pakistanis are facilitated here.

How you can go about solving your problem:

As I said, every ‘problem’ is an ‘opportunity’ to learn.  I learnt that if you lose a passport, (or any important document like your degree or any such thing, )  you have to make an affidavit (from any nearby stamp paper office,)  they have the format requirement with them, then take it to this Citizen Service Center of Police to get an FIR and Registration of case done. Hopefully it will just take around ten minutes (depending on how much rush there is.)  It is done quickly. In my case, once the registration was done, I had to  take this paper  to the passport office. The rest will be done by the the passport office.

This service center is where you come and register any contract you make with your tenant, or notify how many domestic help personnel you are keeping. Give the details here.

Finally, you will have a proper police protection if a tenant is misbehaving or not cooperating with you.  They will support you in eviction process if needed.

Continue reading “My Visit to Citizen Service Center.”

Lost Passport and Dealing with Loss

When my passport got lost, remembering other losses, I went on to my plan ‘b’.

In today’s world we are so well-organized and streamlined, that when the unexpected happens, we feel like grieving. We get upset and ask ‘Why did it happen to me?’ (Meaning,’I’m so perfect, why?’) It’s best to respond with:

‘So what?’

It is important to put things into perspective.

That done: move on to ‘plan B’.

Continue reading “Lost Passport and Dealing with Loss”

How I brought up my three daughters.

Today I’m sharing my parenting style with you.

I’m gaining fame these days. Not because of myself, but because of my daughters. Yes, I’m the proud mother of three star daughters.

They are all grown up now. Nataliya has a photography business in Seattle, and was the first blogger in our family. She is married to a brilliant software engineer. Second one Nadiya has recently moved to Halifax. She is a blogger, career-girl-turned-homemaker. She is married to young multi-talented aero-space engineer who is into data analysis these days. Then there is my youngest daughter Waliya who is a photographer in Islamabad, she runs a successful business of her own.

All three are independent, strong and confident.

Masha Allah!

Continue reading “How I brought up my three daughters.”

Helping Street Children Become Street Smart.

Once,  a beggar child came to Allama Iqbal, and his friend asked him, ‘can’t something be done about them?’ He said, ‘their lives will not change, because no one is doing anything for them.’

This is why the street children, have continued to have the same fate for centuries. No one did anything, and another hundred years have passed! Nothing has happened – just as Iqbal had predicted. Now, we don’t want another hundred years to pass without changing their fate. Today, all of us together can change the street children’s fate to this at least- just as Usman has done.

Suggestions for improving their lives:
  1. A policy of not giving cash to beggars on streets: Now, I tell the street child that I won’t give you any cash. You have to ask your parent to put you in school, and start earning yourself. Also, to give them snacks and clean drinking water. (Carry water and snacks in the car for them.)

2. Strict policy of no more than two or three children: Aggressive advertising against having more than three children has to be done. Provision of free contraceptives and indoctrination is extremely important. They must not have more children, when they have proved they cannot look after the ones they have. School must be compulsory for all.

3. Adult education must be compulsory: Making them realize, they will have to change their fate themselves. They will have to make an effort themselves to get out of this situation.

4. Giving alternatives to get out of clutches of exploiters: Promoting more free schools for underprivileged children, factories offering very light work in return for food, clothing and education in a healthy environment for children.

5. Seal all borders for refugees: Firstly, the Government needs to close all borders, to stop allowing more refugees inside our country. In fact we have got to remove all those who are illegally living in our country. First priority is for us to take care of our own population. Our own children are on the streets, and we are giving ‘shelter’ to people who aren’t our responsibility.

Any more ideas?.

I don’t want to have to go for the tailor’s shop next time to find this scene on the floor outside…
It was heart wrenching when I saw this scene. This child was worried about his precious shoes not getting stolen, also needed a pillow.

Please make an effort to join a school for underprivileged children near your home. Help bring a smile to their lips. See their happy faces, just like we love to see the happy faces of our own children. Laugh and joke with them, put a hand of love and understanding on their heads.

Over one seventy children in CSS School are being taken care of, there are hundreds in the wonderful Pehli Kiran Schools branches, in different areas also. There are many schools sprouting out in every nook and corner of our country now. Each one of them, need our help and support.

Let us be every street child’s strength.

Stay blessed, lovely ones. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels just to see the great work  being done by this bunch of highly energetic young people, along with Usman.

There is great hope for this country. Allama Iqbal didn’t have this dream of such a country for nothing. It’s earth is definitely moist today, with the tears that come to our eyes to see the plight of these helpless children. Finally, the time has come to do something about it. Together, we can. 🙂
Let us stay blessed and bless others as well. 🙂

The Rain Water Conservation Project

Do, I have to emphasize why we need to conserve rain water? This is why:

To save rain water is to save lives. When the water goes splashing out of your house, it gets wasted by flooding the roads and gutters. Just think, if every house conserved all that rain water which falls on it, none will go flooding the roads, so nor will it get wasted, nor will it endanger lives. Saving rain water will have a great impact on the environment. You will have plenty of free extra water to wash those curtains and carpets and what not, later on!

As I wrote my blog on rain water conservation last week: Rain water control, tree plantation, elections and my life. I got very excited; I had already worked out how I’d be doing it at my house. The meeting with my plumber had already taken place. It was easy, as he worked on my house during construction. So, he went and noted the outlet pipe which would be used for conserving the rain water.

‘Why not close the other outlets on the roof?’ I asked him.

‘That would be very dangerous for the roof.’ He said.  The main sloping of the roof had been done having most of the water going in one direction. So, that is where we placed the blue drum container, over the ledge which, he assured me, can take the weight of it. We wanted to place the container below the roof level, yet above ground level, with an outlet leading it to a tap placed two feet above ground level. Now, this water can be used as we like; for watering our plants, washing the car, or whatever else etc.

So, here is this project, so you can do it too. For me the initial project cost Rs.20,000/- ($ 2000) with best materials. It is a simple and doable design. In the next phase I’ll do the same for the two terraces.

Steps to take:

  1. Analysis situation:
    • Know, how much rain you are expecting, choose size of container accordingly. Use the quality which is best. So, it is long lasting and won’t buckle up under the hot sun, and rain lashings and storms. The one with a thickest container wall material.
    • What will you use the water for? Choose a place closest to it. For instance if you want to do car washing and lawn water, then let it be near the front porch.
    • Have all options open to you first. Not a bad idea to ask more than one consultants. But the best one is to have a good plumber who knows his job well. Implementation has to be good.
    • If the water is clean: take it back into your water tank, (if you don’t use it as drinking water, of course!)
  2. Break the rain water project into phases:
    • Phase one: So, this which I’ve used is for lawn, plants, and pets’ water requirements, and to wash the side area of the house.
    • Phase two: will be upstairs terraces, one and two. So, these will need two smaller containers for each one, later on.
    • Phase three: Preparing a small dip in the lawn so all the water gets contained within.
  3. More water conservations options:
    • Connect all AC outlets of water pipes into containers. In Karachi, I’ve filled a tub with water to use to wash my children’s clothes. This water is clean and can be used for drinking, as well as for car and UPS batteries.
    • Connect wash basin outlet with WC, so it is used for flushing.
    • The kitchen sink water can be used for garden.
    • Be conscious of water wastage while showering, tooth brushing and face washing. Close the tap in between usage, every time.

Equipment: Container for water, PVC pipes, tap, drill etc. All these will be suggested by the plumber, and he can buy them for you.

Let’s talk money! So, how much would this project cost? Well, an advertisement I had found and shared on my page offered to do it all for Rs. 80,000/- Mine was completed within Rs.20,000/- He didn’t charge for consultation as he is my plumber for many years.

During construction of your house, do remember to slope the entire roof towards one direction nearest to the underground water tank.

Time: Three days!

First day: consultation, planning with measurements,

Second day: getting equipment.

Third day: Implementation of plan.

Note: the work of first two days can be done on same day, or the second and third day. But this is the most time, it would take.

That’s it!

Just imagine, if every house in the cities, holds the rain water within its premises, then how much flooding would take place?

Do take charge, and implement this plan. Rather than sit and blame others, and expecting the government to do something about it, do something yourself. It is our country, our city and our community which we have to save along with our own home!

Note: If you like, my team at Shireen’s Studio on Facebook can do it for you if you are in Islamabad; you can inbox on the page, or here. I know you are brilliant enough to do it yourself. So my dear one, do it and show me pictures of it, I’ll add it in my upcoming posts.

Special thought: We can  offer such projects for schools for the under -privileged children also. As we can see here, so much rain water gets wasted every time. If we do this for all buildings,  we can use it for the benefit of children and maintenance of the establishment also.

Its  just a matter of getting together and seeing  how else we can use this water and technique. As I write, last night there was so much rain that this water tank you see, got full. Now, I’m thinking I need another reservoir tank below it to conserve its’ over-flow also,  (see that broad water pipe? It flows out from here.) Suddenly, I’ve got a lot of water to use for my plants and different uses in and around the house!

Special note: All photographs have been taken by author.

 

 

Time Management for Creative People

 

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Promoting a creative mind and doing creative work is essential for growth and development. It is only the creative mind which can think outside the box and come out with innovative ideas. Such minds have the ability to get out of difficult life situations and problems. Their problem-solving instincts are best as they are daring enough to create solutions to problems which have never been tried out before.

What do you think was the ability of the Wright Brothers? All scientists, artists, musicians, poets have this ability. We have to help in this creative process within ourselves, and in those who are members of our family and community.

Here is a video during an exercise, where I asked them to discuss time wasters in their lives.

Being creative is the most powerful element in life. We must work hard to develop these qualities within ourselves. I’ve really wanted to conduct a workshop for all those who have creativity within themselves but do not know how to get it going.

Continue reading “Time Management for Creative People”

Getting life back to normal

After the crazy spell is over…

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Farm house of my aunt Shahnaz Jafar and my uncle Brig. Jafar Khan. .

All of us go through busy spells in our lives. Though we often talk about it, and feel tired, but in fact we wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, we are busy doing what we want to do in the given situation.

We mothers tend to get a double shift because we are getting directly involved with our children’s lives, even when they are all grown up.  When my children were small, my elder friends often said this, that it doesn’t get less busy! They were so right.

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Pakistani Orchid blooming in my home. I planted this tree six years ago. 🙂

As one’s children grow older and less dependent on you, your parents start becoming more dependent.  Now your own parents take on the role of your children and the responsibilities keep getting even more.
In my case, my mother had two falls in Feb/March. That really floored me. Now she needs more help and more often. Meanwhile my one daughter was getting engaged, and the other was leaving the country. Also both parents were facing the chest congestion that go with this season. It was a challenge all round.

Alhamdolillah. All these matters have been happily settled.

 

Continue reading “Getting life back to normal”

Shendi wedding – the best option.

Hope it becomes the trend setter.

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There is a vision of mine; Our Pakistani weddings are going to become trend setters all over the world. Especially with the Shendi style of wedding that I witnessed a few days ago. As usual, the food, and everything was  put together in such a beautiful and fairy tale way.

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While it was the typical Pakistani wedding, what I loved most about it was the fact that it was all over and done with, in ONE evening. All the festivities were compressed into one evening of two-and-half-hours.

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Right from the dresses, the décor’ of the marquee, to the delicious food, the valet parking outside, the beautifully decorated hall, the fresh flower bouquets, the chandeliers, everything was tastefully and beautifully done. The hundreds of guests were all dressed in their elegant best.  It was the  complete extravaganza.

Continue reading “Shendi wedding – the best option.”

Mustafa’s trip to Lego Land in Denmark

Pakistan’s participation in FIRST Lego League European Championship

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Yeah, you guessed it right – couldn’t resist doing this blog before the end of this year! Something I’ve been dying to share with you.  Felt bad that every time we planned the interview, something would crop up. It is now 12.25 a.m. and I’ve just completed the interview. It is okay, as winter vacations are on, in school. My friend Aisha brought her thirteen year old son Muhammad Mustafa Zahid for the interview. They had just come after attending a wedding, and reached my place at 11.15 p.m. I’ve met this young man often. He also read out the poems of Iqbal  for my book launch last month, remember? So, let me not come between you two.,

Continue reading “Mustafa’s trip to Lego Land in Denmark”