Category Archives: Family

A Labor Day Timeline

Labor Day has been celebrated the first Monday in September for over a century. For many, imagesit marks the end of summer with parades and picnics but it was originally designed as a day to celebrate the hard work and contributions of the American worker.

In 1869 Uriah Stephens formed the Knights of Labor, a secret society in Philadelphia with the goal of organizing workers around the country. Their primary demand was for an eight-hour day; they also called for legislation to end child and convict labor, as well as a graduated income tax. Over the coming years many organizations went on strike to demand these and other worker’s rights.

Today, there are some elderly members of our society who experienced this time in history first-hand. We’d like to share a list of events in history that shape our country today and give us cause to celebrate Labor Day for its true meaning.

Jun 12, 1912 – Massachusetts adopted the first minimum wage law.

Sep 3, 1916 – The Adamson Act established an 8-hour workday for employees of interstate railroads, with overtime for working longer hours.

Mar 3, 1931 – The Davis-Bacon Act required that federal contractors pay their workers the wages and benefits prevailing in the local market and kept employers from importing cheaper workers from outside the region.

Mar 5, 1933 – Frances Perkins became the first woman in U.S. History to hold a cabinet post when she became Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor. She was in favor of a comprehensive, pro-labor agenda including minimum wage laws, unemployment insurance, old-age pensions and abolition of child labor.

Jun 25, 1938 – The Fair Labor Standards Act set a 40-hour workweek with time-and-a-half for additional hours. It also established a national minimum wage and put severe restrictions on child labor.40 hour

Jun 10, 1963 – The Equal Pay Act prohibited discrimination in wages on the basis of sex. The result: women’s earnings climbed from 62% of men’s in 1970 to 80% in 2004.

In more recent history, many of us will remember some of these events:

Mar 18, 1970 – More than 200,000 Post Office workers walked off the job in the first national strike of public employees.

Jun 12, 1981 – Major League Baseball players went on strike. The strike wiped out nearly 40% of the season that year but was settled just in time to save the World Series from cancellation.

Aug 3, 1981 – The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike seeking better working conditions, better pay and a 32-hour workweek. On August 5, following their refusal to return to work, Reagan fired the 11,345 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored the order and banned them from federal service for life.

While you may not agree with the results of all of these historical events, it’s fascinating to consider what our forefathers did to create the working environment we experience in the 20th century.

If you have an aging loved one, spend a few hours reminiscing about their life experiences. You might be surprised at the stories they will tell.


Artfully Asking For Assistance With Caregiving Tasks

Asking for help is not something that everyone is comfortable doing. Even if you’re comfortable asking for it, there are some people in your family who will simply not hear what you’re saying.

When it comes to being a caregiver, it is easy to take on too much especially if you’re in the Sandwich Generation (those caregivers that are caring for their own families while caring for aging parents). It is easy to suffer caregiver burnout and as such it’s crucial that steps be taken to relieve some of the burdens prior to that happening.

How can you ask your family members to become involved in the tasks of caring for aging parents? Here are some tips:

  • Ask for help prior to needing it. Set up a time to speak with all of your family members at one time, if possible, to solicit help. Ask for their ideas on how the tasks can be more evenly divided. Do you have a sibling that would be happy to do yard work but really doesn’t want to have to cook, clean or pay your parent’s bills? Then take him up on the offer of the yard work. Utilize the strengths of each of your family members as a way to help you get back some of your own time and be better able to care for yourself and your family.
  • Don’t start the conversation with accusations of who’s doing more than someone else. If possible come prepared with a list of the items you, as the caregiver, are currently      responsible for. Being armed with a detailed list makes it easier to determine who can help with what and also makes certain that major as well as minor tasks are accounted for. Use the meeting time as a way to come together for a mutually beneficial solution for your parents not as a finger pointing session.
  • Be prepared for push back from siblings and be prepared for someone to bring up the idea of “putting mom and dad in a home.” These are sometimes natural inclinations when faced with elder care. If your parents are still able to live independently, that should be encouraged. If your parents are on the borderline of being able to age in place, consider gifting them with a home medical monitoring device and a personal alert pendant; this is a way to provide peace of mind to all involved in the event of a trip or fall or other medical emergency. Perhaps the family will need to come up with a plan for hiring a personal care aid, or a housekeeper or even someone to help with meal preparation or driving them to doctor’s appointments. Once you know what your options are, you can better plan.

Even though you may be facing burnout as a caregiver, you still need to approach the meeting with siblings with focus on helping mom and dad in addition to relieving some of your burden. Because everyone in the family is working toward the same ultimate goal – caring for your parents – the conversation should flow smoothly. If not, here are some tips on how to negotiate:

  • Be prepared with what needs to be done
  • Don’t be accusatory
  • Present the problem as one that is shared by all family members
  • Ask for suggestions other than ones you may have posed
  • Be flexible in addressing issues and don’t feel you need to provide answers to all of the tasks that need addressing. Getting suggestions from family members might just open the door to a solution no one had thought of previously

Don’t forget to invite mom and dad to the conversation and get their input on the tasks they feel they can take on themselves, and those for which they need assistance.


Learning to Avoid Conflict While Taking Care of an Ailing Family Member

The family is at the core of our entire civilization and in many cultures the family unit is the foundation of society.  And where the family unit is strong the people tend to be more stable, caring and giving.

In many communities the mother is forced by economic necessity to work and as such needs to give her children to someone to look after while she is away from home. In some communities, the tendency has been for younger generations to remain in the city of their birth and the role of babysitting  is usually given to the grandparents or other relatives.

But so often it happens this older generation becomes feeble or ill and needs care in return. Where families are strong there is a good chance that this nursing and elder care will be managed by the various family members fairly seamlessly.

However, within modern and urban environments the family unit is under severe stress. Divorce and family breakdown leading to 1 parent homes is far too common. And even those families , which are reasonably stable, the connection between siblings and parents of both spouses can be weak.  It is not uncommon for the various households to be miles and even cities apart.

Thus when one or both of the older members of the family starts needing care there are a huge number of stresses and strains that can be put on the various relationships and marriages can fall under a lot of strain. It often falls on the adult child who lives closest to provide a lot of the time, attention and care leaving his or her family lacking the proper attention. This can sometimes lead to frustration because they are getting less attention than they are used to, or feelings of neglect, resentment or discord in the family.

The Solutions to these are far from straightforward and need some care and forward planning.

It is suggested that the siblings agree in advance the various roles each will play and do the best to share the load both physically as well as financially. The burden may be considerable including the employment of a professional care giver so as to free the family member  from some of the burden. One very easy step is to equip the loved one with a medical alert service to ensure they have access to quick help in the event of an emergency. In so doing, this frees the family member up to have more time to devote to their own career and family.

Create Lasting Memories this Thanksgiving

The holidays always provide a much needed respite from the hustle and bustle of daily living, along with the perfect opportunity to savor the company of your loved ones. This Thanksgiving while filing up on turkey, take the time to embrace the holiday’s intended purpose and give thanks for the elderly people in your life.

Having your elderly loved ones at your holiday celebration provides the perfect opportunity to learn more about your shared history and your loved one’s time honored traditions. With all the wonderful aromas and amazing delicacies Thanksgiving offers, don’t forget to chronicle the family recipes served at this year’s feast. Recipes are an extremely important heirloom that is often overlooked. Making sure you know all of the secret ingredients to your family’s signature dishes will allow you to pass down your family’s delicious favorites for generations to come.

The holidays are often among the few times a year that all of our loved ones are together in the same household. Celebrating the holidays with our relatives reminds us just how lucky we are to have all of the special people in our lives. When it comes to elders in your family, it is especially important to cherish the remaining years you have with them. Consider bringing a video camera to this year’s soiree in order to capture family stories – your elderly loved one’s voice, image and personality will be captured on film for years and years of viewing. No other device encapsulates the essence of your loved one like a video. Videos provide a unique opportunity to relive special memories that you otherwise cannot physically attain.

Our elderly loved ones serve as a wealth of knowledge regarding our ancestry as well. Ask your loved one about a great great-grandmother or a great uncle and they will unleash countless stories and anecdotes. Tracing one’s family tree is a revealing and enlightening experience. Encourage your loved one to trace your family’s history through the generations so that you can gain more insight into your roots. Numerous resources exist to help you with this venture including, Family Tree Maker and Legacy.

This year while surrounded by your nearest and dearest, use the opportunity to live in the moment and create lasting memories. Since many of us do not get to see our families as much as we would like to, it is important to savor the time that we do have. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving this holiday season!