You Are Not Alone: Empty Nest Syndrome Is Common. Here’s How to Cope.

Posted by Silvernest Team on May 9, 2019 11:24:51 AM

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Image credit: Rebecca Siegel on Flickr

Well, here you are: The last kiddo has left home and you’re feeling pretty blue. Maybe you’re worrying all the time. You’re probably a little lonesome (or a lot). You may feel like it, but you are not alone.

The Empty Nest Is Actually Full—of Emotions

According to GoodTherapy.org, empty nesters may experience insomnia, anxiety and/or panic—as well as feelings of extreme grief, isolation/loneliness, guilt and purposelessness. They may even lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. Psychology Today notes that “…parents often struggle with a profound sense of loss, not just because they miss their child, but because their very identities have been significantly impacted.” In other words, if your parenting role has changed so dramatically, who are you?

In two-parent families, empty nest syndrome is at least a team experience—one partner can offer support and empathy when the other is struggling. For divorced, widowed or single parents, however, there may unfortunately be an even greater sense of isolation and loneliness.

If you are struggling with empty nest syndrome, the good news is you are not alone. Most parents experience at least some of these feelings in varying degrees. Here are five suggestions for coping with empty nest syndrome and finding your groove again.

Five Ways to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome

1. Participate in Activities That Include Others.

Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, we all need friends. If you’re already involved in a community group, don’t stop now! If you’ve been too busy, go ahead and sign up for those art classes, start a band, look into university extension programs, or join a new class at the gym. The excitement and energy of taking up a new hobby or learning something new is a real balm for feelings of loss, and being around other people can help stave off social isolation.

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2. Find New Ways to Feel Valued and Needed.

One of the rewards of parenting is the feeling of being important to another person. While nothing will ever replace the love between a parent and child, you can find some fulfillment in helping others. Look for a volunteer organization that aligns with your values and sign up! Offer to read books at a nearby school, or hold babies in the NICU at your local hospital. Sign up to work at a local food bank or community garden. Or use your skills to help others—knit blankets for hospital patients, teach home repair skills… the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

3. Embrace a New Adventure.

If your time and budget allow it, why not enjoy all that traveling you put off during the busy parenting years? Some empty nesters even decide to sell their homes and travel full-time! While that might not be the right choice for you, having a trip to plan and look forward to (and then enjoy) can be very therapeutic.

4. Embark On an Encore Career.

If you’ve reached retirement age, becoming an empty nester might inspire you to re-enter the working worldEncore careers can take on many forms — a coaching or consultative role in your former industry, professionalizing one of your skills (such as giving art lessons), or even joining the staff at a nonprofit. These “second-act” jobs can be a great way to recharge your spirits, stay engaged and extend your retirement income.

5. Discover the Benefits of Homesharing.

Sometimes an empty nest means you’ve got unused space in your home. Homesharing offers a wonderful way to put that space to work and have some company around the house. In homesharing, your renter (or “housemate” pays rent or does household chores (or a combination of the two) in exchange for living space.

Some homeowners find housemates by asking around among friends and neighbors, or by advertising in the community, online or on social media. Silvernest uses unique roommate-matching technology and other tools to make homesharing simple and worry-free. We’ve helped build happy homesharing agreements between people of similar ages or across generations.

There’s Hope Ahead.

Those “empty nest” feelings are normal and natural. While you’ll always miss having your kids around, the most intense emotions usually ease with time. However, if you find yourself too depressed or anxious to fully participate in your life as you once did, please seek out professional support. A trained therapist or, if need be, psychiatrist can help you work your way through this transition to a brighter future.

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Hope for Family Caregivers Who Give So Much

Originally posted by the Silvernest Team on their blog, Apr 9, 2018 1:52:56 PM

The Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act offers some help for family caregivers

By Carol Marak

Back in 1998 through 2007, my sisters and I cared for our parents. Our mother lived with several chronic diseases, and father lived with Alzheimer’s disease. We were among America’s 40 million family caregivers. At the time, I was working full-time but both sisters were retired.

It’s difficult to combine caregiving and working because both are full-time. I’ve often heard the saying, “There’s no leaving the job at 5:00 PM, an employee will always bring the workday home.” I found out as a caregiver, the same goes for elder care, “A family caregiver never leaves the worry and stress about parent care in the home, they’ll bring the concerns and issues with them to work.” That was my story. It was difficult to separate the two.

Each day, I prayed to win the lotto so I could be with my parents, since their care demanded a lot of assistance. I asked HR for Family Medical Leave but was rejected. Back in early 2000, HR didn’t get how elder care was such an issue, however, they could relate to child care much easier.

In June of 2017, I praised Congress for passing the bipartisan Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act.” Hooray for families! And on January 22nd, the US President signed into law the RAISE Family Caregivers Act. It’s the first step in creating a national strategy aimed at the relatives and partners who provide care.

How the Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act can Help

One of the goals of RAISE is to increase financial security for family caregivers — it’s a much needed support for those of us giving care. I know the types of financial supports I’d like to have seen back in my caregiving days, like earned credits in Social Security if I took a leave of absence. Also, work-related strategies like telecommute, or part-time and flexible hours would have been a big relief. But that was early to mid-2000’s. Today, employers and HR departments tilt in favor of elderly caregiving.

Here are other examples that the Seniorcare.com Aging Council hope to see in the near future:

Advice from home care experts

How experts feel the RAISE Act can help

  • “Provide a Social Security earnings credit to family caregivers who take unpaid time away from employment, either by leaving their job or reducing hours. This prevents future Social Security benefits from being penalized due to caregiving. 2) Expand government programs that pay family caregivers. 3) Expand benefits programs and tax credits that help with out-of-pocket caregiving expenses.” Connie Chow, DailyCaring.com
  • Many family caregivers give up jobs to be able to care for an aging or ailing family member. Being able to access Medicare or another medical insurance program would allow them to take care of themselves as well as someone else. Further, if a caregiver, usually a woman, stops working, her retirement is jeopardized. Most programs for the elderly/caregivers are for those who qualify for Medicaid, thus eliminating benefits for those who are over the Medicaid limit and they are the ones who need help the most.” Donna Schempp, LCSW At Home with Growing Older.
  • “One of my clients who works for a large law firm has a HR department that does many of the phone calls and research family caregivers often need to do during work hours.” Margo Rose, BodyAwareGrieving.com
  • “A lump sum policy can be used to pay relatives or partners providing home-based custodial care. Since Medicare does not pay for custodial care, we recommend lump sum first diagnosis (cancer/heart attack/stroke) insurance and/or a whole life policy. A whole life policy that has accumulated cash value can also assure financial security for family caregivers and allow seniors to remain in their home.” Maureen Fitzgerald, Ph.D., BestMedigapRate.com
  • “The problem with the current support services and financial reimbursement for caregivers is that it all runs through the Medicaid system. You have to be already impoverished to get the little bit of help offered. Opening Adult Day Care centers and offering financial help through unemployment insurance or social security to people above the Medicaid limits would go a long way to provide financial security. It doesn’t seem possible though with Social Security already under attack.” Caren Isaacs , GetHealthHelp.com
  • “Financial security will become a major problem in the United States given current demographic predictions. Individuals are outliving their retirement savings and have, in general, not saved enough for the astronomical cost of home care. I believe that advanced planning is advised so that as many contingencies are covered as is possible. Working with a professional financial planner as early in the aging process as is practicable would be wise.” Marci Lobel-Esrig, Silverbills.com
  • “One of the biggest issues that arise when relatives and partners step in as caregivers is that they typically have to give up some earning capacity. They’re investing hours to care for loves ones and sacrificing compensation as they do. There must be formal measures in place to help make up for that lost income, and it would seem that tax incentives and tax credits would be a natural place to start.” Wendi Burkhardt, Silvernest.com
  • “Education! Every family should understand the financial implications associated with caring for an elderly or disabled loved one. Education should at a minimum include estimates of realistic costs associated with care, general information about the differences between Medicare and Medicaid, and the importance of purchasing long-term care insurance well in advance of any potential need.” Eboni Green, CaregiverSupportServices.com

The RAISE Family Caregiving Act is finally here and one that America’s first responders in elderly care are eager to see what’s next.

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Is It Time To Grow Up?

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The relationship that many of us have to the concept of adulthood can be kind of strange. Previous generations had very clear lines in terms of what constituted the move into adult life. They would leave education, head into work, buy a house, get married, and that was basically what was expected of them. Younger generations have moved away from those expectations and it’s now much easier for people to carve out their own sense of who they are and who they want to be. However, that’s also come with the downside of often leaving a lot of people unsure of how to navigate the complexities of adult life. A lot of people in the modern era end up feeling like they’re no longer kids but they’re not exactly grown-ups either. This can end up causing a whole lot of stress and difficulty in many people’s lives as well as potentially impacting everything from their mental health to their relationships. With that in mind, here are some things in your life that you need to start taking control of if you really want to grow up.

Your car

One of the most common things that leaves a lot of people feeling like they don’t know how to be a “real adult” is that they often have no idea how many of the things in their life actually work, choosing instead to just put it in the hands of someone else. There is no better example of this than your car. If you’re constantly in a position where you’re having to call your parents to give you advice on what to do with your car or you have no idea what a mechanic is saying to you, it’s time to get educated. There are plenty of places online where you can learn basic car maintenance and a lot of it is far simpler than you might think. Of course, there will always be things that need to be dealt with by a professional so make sure you have the number for a great mechanic like Aarrow Transmissions. That way you can be sure that your car is in safe hands, even when things go wrong.    

Your health

When you’re really young it’s often easy to feel like you’re totally invincible. Of course, the moment that you enter the adult world it becomes pretty clear just how untrue that really is. Because of that, a lot of people tend to try and ignore any issues with their health. Whether it’s a persistent cough or some aches and pains, sweeping it under the rug is always going to be a bad idea. Make sure that you’re going for regular checkups with your doctor and if something is wrong, get it looked at straight away. Just because no one else is going to call the doctor for you doesn’t mean that you can just ignore any issues.

Your bills

Money is a serious cause of stress for just about everyone. That’s just the nature of the society we live in. If you want to do anything, you’re going to need the money for it. However, if you’re not keeping track of your finances in a clear and consistent way then you’re setting yourself up for a whole lot more stress and anxiety than you really need. Keeping a budget isn’t that complicated, it just requires a decent degree of dedication. The same goes for monitoring your spending and trying to put some money away in a savings account.

Your communication

One of the main signs that someone is struggling to really act like an adult is that they are unable to communicate with the people around them. If you really want to feel like a grown up then the first step is being able to express yourself clearly to the people around you and be honest with them. Hiding your emotions or letting them out in aggressive outbursts are the behaviours of children, not responsible adults.

Of course, one of the most important things to remember is that there really isn’t anyone out there who’s going to define what “adulthood” means for you or for anyone else. Sure, the things in this list are great starts to help you begin to feel more like you have a sense of control over your adult life. However, if you really want to figure out what being an adult means to you, that’s something you have to come to on your own. That can be a pretty scary prospect but that’s the trade-off for the freedom that comes with it. And it’s a trade that many would gladly make.

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Maintaining Wellness During and After Divorce

by Sandra Hughes

Navigating a divorce is stressful and unpredictable.  Regular exercise and a healthy diet go a long way in managing our stress and making us feel a whole lot better in general. A grounding activity like yoga or Pilates is relaxing and helpful. Maintaining healthy habits and taking care of ourselves is vital during this uncertain time.

My Journey to be Well

Around the time that I separated in 2014, I read an article about staying healthy during divorce. I started a holistic health care regimen while I was going to graduate school. Just as that regimen helped alleviate the stress and pressure of school, it stood to reason, it would help alleviate the stress and pressure of the divorce process. That article certainly confirmed it, so I continued my health and wellness path, switching modalities as needed, based upon how I was feeling and what I needed at the time.

For example, when I first began my holistic journey, I adopted a daily meditation practice. That was fine-tuned later when I took a Spirituality in Leadership class in business school; then I started taking classes to learn Qigong, the meditation practice that goes with Tai chi. Now I do a simple 10-minute breathing/meditation exercise every morning and set my intention for the day. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it is a very simple, grounding experience.

Exercise is key. I try to walk or use the elliptical every day, preferably in the morning, after my meditation exercise and before I start checking and getting involved in answering and sending emails. If I exercise first thing, then I’ve done it and don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.

Get Yourself a Team

The rest of my wellness regimen is covered by my wellness support team. Much of the stress and unpredictability of your divorce can be alleviated from the beginning, if you put a wellness support team in place, and I highly advise it. The wellness team members are there in their expert capacity in each of their modalities to help you deal with the stress and intense emotion caused by the divorce.

My suggestion is to get referrals for all of these team members from people that you trust, family, friends or colleagues, and then interview each to make sure that the person is the right fit for you. It is important that you feel truly supported by each of your team members.

The Four Members of your Wellness Team

Therapist (LFMT, MFT) – Hopefully your divorce attorney or mediator has suggested that you start seeing a therapist; I am suggesting that you do. There will be a lot of emotion during the divorce process and a lot of diving deep into the whys and hows of your relationship. A therapist is the best person to work through all of that with you.

Massage Therapist – Massage is a great stress reliever. I started having regular massages about eight years ago and it has made a world of difference relieving stress during my divorce.

Acupuncturist and/or Chiropractor– Either or both of these practitioners helps relieve the stress that manifests itself in different parts of our bodies, most often our neck, shoulders and spine. We tend to tighten all of these when we are stressed and in “fight or flight mode”.  Personally, I hadn’t been to either for 30 years because my first experience with both was not that great: huge needles at the acupuncturist and intense bone cracking at the chiropractor. I learned recently that there are acupuncturists who use little thin needles with great effect, and a chiropractor who uses less intense bone cracking techniques. I am now a huge fan of both and I receive treatments regularly. Both have done wonders helping me to achieve stress relief! Also, it is often possible to find practitioners who are also covered by health insurance.

Certified Coach – A certified coach plays a different role than a therapist. A coach is more like a mentor, a person with whom you discuss your goals and your plan for achieving them. In the process you explore your values and life purpose. A coach will guide you and help you to be accountable for what you say you want/are going to do. Together, you will create a vision of your reinvented life!

My wellness team told me they were pleased that I was being proactive and preventative in keeping myself healthy during this time in my divorce, instead of waiting to seek them out when the process was over and I was ill from the stress of it all. That, unfortunately, is what most of their patients did. I encourage you not to be MOST patients! I celebrate your continued path to health and well-being!

To learn more about navigating the transition of divorce, visit my website at http://www.sbhcoaching.com. You can also join my private Facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LifeReinventedPrivateGroup

 

Sandra Hughes is a leadership coach for adults 40+ going through significant transitions. She  created Life Reinventedto help people navigate divorce. She has a CPCC designation from The Coaches Training Institute, and MBA from Santa Clara University. Sandra had a long corporate career before navigating her own divorce after 27 years of marriage. She is committed to helping people achieve integrated lives and finding the joy they deserve.

You can learn more about homesharing at Silvernest.com – Silvernest boldly breaks the rules of aging so you can share your home on your own terms. We’re creating the next generation of roommates. A more modern kind. A well-matched kind. A kind that’s just your style. Because around here, the details are totally up to you.

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Conversations You Shouldn’t Have With Strangers

Sometimes it can feel like an impossible task to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, and other times it is the easiest thing in the world. It all depends who the person is, and what you think of them when you first see them. Once you have gaged what kind of person you think they are, you are more likely to be comfortable speaking to them about certain subjects. However, there are things that you should never talk about, no matter how confident or strongly you feel about them. In this article, we are going to be looking at some of these things, so if you want to know what they are, keep reading below.

Religion

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Religion is something that you should never talk about in public or with a stranger. We are not saying that you can’t share your faith with those people who are interested in it, but for some it is just an awkward point of conversation and another way to isolate others. That is why no matter how you feel, you should probably not be bringing it up in a new conversation. For example, how would you feel if someone came up to you and asked you who created God? It seems like a straightforward question, but when you have conflicting views this could be an issue.

Tolerant people are all around, but there are others who are not so tolerant of others beliefs. That is why it is always best to keep your opinions to yourself on this subject, unless explicitly asked by the other person.

Politics

The next thing that you should not be talking about is politics. So many relationships, friendships and other social norms are destroyed by two people having opposing political views. It has also been known that some people take this too far, and can start being mean or abusing the other person who does not agree with them. To avoid this situation, all you have to do is not talk about this with people you are not close with. This way, things cannot get into bad territory and you are not going to be judged for your opinions and values.

Money

Finally, money is something that you shouldn’t talk about. How much you make, how you spend it, what kind of things you have and so on could easily make someone else feel down about what they have. We are not suggesting that you can’t be glad and happy about the life that you are living, but try not to rub it in the face of others. You never know who is struggling and would love what you have but further than this, it could cause you a lot of social problems that you are not going to want.

We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now know some of the conversation topics that you should not bring up with strangers. Avoiding these topics is not only going to be helpful when it comes to building relationships, but it could also spare someone else feeling bad about how they feel.

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Looking Out For Yourself When Times Get Tough

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Throughout our lives, we will go through some amazing times and some more turbulent ones. When we were in our teenage years, we thought that a bad day was the worst day of our lives. We thought that getting older and becoming fully fledged adults would mean our freedom and maturity would allow us to get over the bad times. That’s not exactly the case, though, is it? It turns out that, sure, our moods swings as younger people were frustrating, but they didn’t have anything on the stresses and strains of adult life. Whether it’s personal or work, things can get very tough at times.

When things get a little rough, you can feel alone and that there’s not too much that can be done to fix them. You can rest assured, however, as there are lots that to do that can help – some simple and some more complex. If you need a little push, here are a few simple ideas that may go a long way.      

Talk To Your Close Ones

A lot of people don’t like to open up to their friends and family about whatever situation that they’re going through – no matter how big it may be. It’s not a great idea to keep things bottled up as they’ll probably only get worse. As well as providing all the emotional support you need, they’ll be able to look at the situation from a different perspective and give you anything from small tips to giant favours. They won’t be able to advise you and make you feel better if you keep things under lock and key.

Talk To A Professional

Taking things a little further and speaking with somebody who knows almost everything about what you’re going through might be of great help. Whether it’s your local doctor or a specialist, they will be able to advise you on where to go and what to do. It is their passion and their love to make sure you’re okay with everything.  

Exercise

Making sure that you’re activity will help you when you’re feeling a little down in the dumps. Even if it’s just a twenty-minute walk. Your body produces natural happiness and positivity after exercising, and you’ll also be making yourself fitter in the process. Bad things won’t disappear completely, but you’ll be better prepared and reinforced mentally.

Eat Well

Now, it’s lovely to eat junk food, and it feels good from time to time, but you don’t want to keep the habit up frequently. You’ll just feel more sluggish and that can’t help you much when you’re already going through a sticky patch. Make sure you’re eating all the good, nutrition stuff while drinking heaps of water and keeping active.

Be Positive

Finally, just look at the bright side of things. Now, obviously not everybody has the sunniest disposition, and that’s okay. But even if you’re a glass half empty type, just reviewing the situation and hanging on to the positives will help out a bunch. Finding some good may give you some motivation and something to look for.

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5 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Play Sports

We all know that playing sports is healthy. Not only does it encourage social skills and friendships, but it also gets children active which is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle. The good news is, there are lots of sports to choose from, so it’s likely you’ll find something your child enjoys. Here are a few ways to encourage your child to get involved in sports.

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Don’t Force Them

With the rise of computer games, social media and devices for children, it can be harder than ever to tempt young minds into playing sports. The important thing is not to force them into doing a particular sport. Even if you’re a keen football supporter or you’ve been watching tennis since you were a child, your own child may choose something entirely different. Allow them to explore the options, but only invest in equipment when you know your child is serious about playing.

Grace Under Pressure

Every sport is competitive, and competition can take its toll on children. When a child loses a match, it can feel like failure, even when they played their best. In most sports, children aren’t given trophies just for taking part, so learning to lose gracefully is part and parcel of playing sports. It’s also a great life lesson – being a sore loser won’t get your child very far. Teaching your child that losing is okay, as long as they have done their best will set them up for playing any kind of sport.

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Give Them What They Need

There are many sports that require parents to make an investment. Sports classes often cost money in themselves, but you may also be required to buy equipment and clothing. For example, youth baseball jerseys aren’t always cheap, but they do make a child feel like part of the team. Having the right equipment isn’t just about looking and feeling good; it’s about giving your child the best chance at succeeding in their chosen sport.

Lower Your Expectations

It’s easy for parents to put pressure on their children without realizing it. It’s important to allow your child to develop at a normal rate, rather than pushing them to achieve things sooner than anyone else. The only role you need to play is that of a supportive parent. Make sure your child attends practice as often as possible and he is surrounded by individuals who will encourage him to do his best.

Choose a Good Coach

Many child athletes stick with their childhood coaches well into adulthood and through their careers. Finding the right coach can take some time, but once you have a good one, they’re worth their weight in gold. Your child’s coach should have a proper teaching technique but also be able to distinguish the differences between each student. Knowing what a student needs and how to bring the best out in them is a talent only few coaches possess.

Remember that your child needs down time while playing any sport in order to create a balanced life.

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