According to statistics compiled by the Caregiver Action Network, nearly 1 in 4 Americans – more than 65 million people – provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend in any given year. That number is expected to rise as the Baby Boomer generation grows older. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau, calling this a “transformational moment,” forecasts that by 2030, “Older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history,” says Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau.
One expert believes that if families are unable to arrange sufficient care and support for their aging parents, the unappealing healthcare resources, as well as the unwillingness to be a burden to others, puts more elderly at risk for ending their own lives.
“But it doesn’t have to be this way,” says Dr. Janet Bieschke, author of the book I’m Sorry, I Love You, Goodbye: Harvesting the Sacred Gifts of the Final Days. Dr. Bieschke is a certified life coach, speaker, and workshop leader who specializes in helping families and their loved ones find peace, healing, and closure for those approaching death and for those who love and care about them. “Everyone deserves peace of mind, peace of heart, and peace in passing. We can choose to create moments that matter with the people who matter.”
For Dr. Bieschke, that means showing families how to work through their deeply-rooted emotional issues, capturing the life stories of their loved ones, and preserving a peaceful legacy while there is still time – and with no regrets later of what might have been said or done differently.
“Regrets that have not been released hold a mystifying power,” Dr. Bieschke says. “Not everyone is able to resolve these issues during their life, so knowing that death is coming can be a time of life evaluation.” But she finds that anxieties, fears, frustrations, damaged relationships, and poor communication skills often taint the final days for the dying person and their families. “My unique approach and engagement bring information, guidance, suggestions, and ease in ways that allow peace, healing, and closure to those approaching death and those who love and care about them,” she says.
Dr. Bieschke believes that both caregivers and parents may need to find closure and healing of old unresolved hurts and misunderstandings. She offers three words of advice to caregivers in this situation.
- Notice. “That means to listen and be aware. Daily activities can change over a period of time or can change overnight,” Dr. Bieschke says. “Notice the emotions, such as sadness, fear, anxiety, pain, anger, or disappointment and regret.”
- Connect. “Find ways to connect and become more involved,” Dr. Bieschke advises. “Avoidance is common. It doesn’t resolve issue, but for some, it’s the way they’ve found to survive drama or more pain.”
- Engage. “This is not a time to do things alone,” Dr. Bieschke warns. “Help is available, and you can make a difference, even if the past has been full of ‘stuff.’”
One client who has experienced this help firsthand is Kelly McKinstry, who contacted Dr. Bieschke after her mother was diagnosed with cancer. “Only one session with Dr. Janet dramatically changed the end days for my mother and my family,” says McKinstry. “It helped my mother pass with love, dignity, honor and grace.”
“My hope for everyone venturing into this territory is that, during the upcoming critical days, you take actions that are nurturing and helpful to bring a most peaceful, if not joyful, passing to your loved one,” says. Dr. Bieschke. “This is a time to give loved ones hope, peace, satisfaction, the knowledge that their life mattered and they made a difference. This is the work where we can choose to show up in the valuable role serving as a difference maker.”
Dr. Janet Bieschke is a life coach, author, and inspirational speaker who teaches the importance of honoring their aging parents and avoiding regrets by capturing as many stories as possible before it is too late.
For more information on speaking or workshop opportunities featuring Dr. Bieschke, visit DrJanetB.com.