Business Digest - December, 2008

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Caregiving From A Distance   Can We Go Home Now?  

Ho Ho Hum: Strategies for Coping with Holiday Stress

The holiday season can be stressful for everyone. There often doesn't seem to be a minute to stop and relax! Besides having all the extra chores to do, baking to finish, and family to visit with, there are also heightened expectations. Finances can also weigh heavily on your mind. But there are some strategies for coping during this busy season, making this a time to enjoy.

Look at Things a Bit Differently
Try to let go of some of the expectations you may have this holiday season. Trying to have a "perfect" holiday will only lead to frustration for you and those around you. Delegate tasks and chores to family members. Use some convenience foods for your holiday dinner. Cut back on some decorating. Shop on the Internet to avoid the crowds. In other words, don't try to do it all. Only do those things that you enjoy and that bring pleasure to you and your family. And don't be afraid to say no!

Be Kind to Yourself
Don't neglect the things that make you happy during this busy time. Take time to exercise and keep up with your interests and hobbies. Take a walk, soak in a warm bath, or read a good book. Don't overindulge in food, alcohol, or caffeine. Find a balance between your everyday schedule and your holiday activities. Most importantly, get enough sleep.

Divide and Conquer
Try to get as organized as possible. Careful planning can save many last-minute headaches. Consider buying the same gift for several people on your list. Shop by catalog or on the Internet and have the gift sent directly to the recipient. Send gift certificates instead of presents. Make a gift budget and stick to it. You will avoid those after-holiday headaches and worry!

Enjoy Yourself
Take time to share memories with your loved ones. Start a new family holiday tradition of taking time together to relax and enjoy the season. To avoid some of those post-holiday blues, plan some activities for when the festivities are over. Take a trip, start a household project, or plan on visiting old friends.

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Caregiving From a Distance

Realizing that your aging parents need special care can be a challenge for anyone. But it is particularly difficult for adult children who live far from their parents' home. Nearly seven million Americans are responsible for the care of an older relative or friend who lives an average of 300 miles away. This number is expected to climb as the population continues to age.

Caring for an aging parent is stressful, and can lead to feelings of worry and guilt. There are some strategies for dealing with this situation. Consider the following options:

  • - Keep in touch with your parents' doctors, either by phone or through email. Ask questions that enable you to understand what treatment they are receiving, what alternatives may exist, and what type of assistance your parents may need.
  • - Explore the options available for live-in or long-term care. Adult day health care may also be another option. Contact Meals on Wheels to see if your parents qualify for assistance.
  • - Consider hiring a geriatric care manager (GCM). GCMs work as part of a team that includes social workers, counselors, nurses, and your parents' doctors. This is often covered by insurance.
  • - Before a crisis occurs, work with your parents to collect the necessary medical, financial, and legal information you may need to help properly care for them. Make a list of family, friends, and clergy who live near your parents to assist in the case of an emergency.
  • - Join a support group for caregivers in your area. Not only will you receive support, but you will also learn about the aging process and can share in resources.
  • - If your parents have a family member near by providing them with assistance, be sure to offer support to that person as well. He or she often bears the brunt of the stress and physical support needed to care for your parents.

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Can We Go Home Now?

Holiday shopping can be chaotic, tiring, and frustrating. It becomes even more so when you have a small child with you, both for you and your child. These tips will help you cope with the job of holiday shopping with a little one.

Respect Limits
Children have only a short amount of time before they become bored, hungry, tired, or overstimulated. Limit your excursion to one or two hours. Be sure to bring some snacks and remove your child's coat once you are indoors to prevent overheating. If you expect to have to wait in line, bring a book or small toy to keep him or her occupied.

Remember That Children Are Curious
Children are naturally curious. Explain to your child before enter the store that they are only to touch items with your assistance. Engage your child in conversation and questions as you shop to make it more fun for both of you. You must also keep an eye on your child at all times and take care not to let him or her wander unsupervised.

Avoid the Crowds
Avoid shopping just before dinner, when the stores are crowded, or the days right before Christmas. If possible, visit stores in the morning or early afternoons on weekdays, or later in the evening between 6:00 and 7:00 pm.

Bring Some Help
Shop with another adult to help share the child care load. You can take turns browsing and minding the children. You will also probably enjoy the experience with a friend or family member shopping with you.

Have an Escape Plan
If you've reached the limit of your patience, take a break. Plan on leaving the store if you or your child gets too impatient, cranky, hungry, or tired. Trying to complete your purchases with this stress is counterproductive and will probably result in your disappointment in the outcome. If your child begins have a meltdown, go outside for a few minutes, visit the food court, or just leave the store with a plan to return at another time. Remember that shopping can wait. An exhausted, hungry, or overexcited child cannot.

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Holiday Humor

  • Two young boys were spending the night at their grandparents. At bedtime, the two boys knelt beside their beds to say their prayers when the youngest one began praying at the top of his lungs. "I pray for a new bicycle. I pray for a new Playstation. I pray for a new microscope." His older brother leaned over and nudged the younger brother and said, "Why are you shouting your prayers? God isn't deaf." To which the little brother replied, "No, but Grandma is!"
  • There was once a warrior named Rudolph the Great. He was standing in his house one day with his wife, looking out the window. He said to his wife, "Look, it's raining." She, being the obstinate type, responded, "I don't think so, dear. I think it's snowing." But Rudolph knew better. So he said to his wife, "Let's step outside and we'll find out." Lo and behold, they stepped outside and discovered it was in fact rain. Rudolph turned to his wife and said," I knew it was raining. Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear!"
  • It was Christmas and the judge was in a merry mood as he asked the prisoner, "What are you charged with?" "Doing my Christmas shopping early," replied the defendant. "That's no offense," said the judge. "How early were you doing this shopping?" "Before the store opened," countered the prisoner.
  • A four-year-old boy was asked to give the meal blessing before Christmas dinner. The family members bowed their heads in expectation. He began his prayer, thanking God for all his friends, naming them one by one. Then he thanked God for Mommy, Daddy, brother, sister, Grandma, Grandpa, and all his aunts and uncles. Then he began to thank God for the food. He gave thanks for the turkey, the dressing, the fruit salad, the cranberry sauce, the pies, the cakes, even the whipped cream. Then he paused, and everyone waited and waited. After a long silence, the young fellow looked up at his mother and asked, "If I thank God for the broccoli, won't he know that I'm lying?"

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Bumper Sticker Humor

Santa's elves are just a bunch of subordinate Clauses.

Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.

A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

Anything free is worth what you pay for it.

My reality check just bounced.

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