Caregiving Ruined My Life – The Caring Generation®
The Caring Generation® – Episode 55 September 9, 2020. Caregiving Ruined My Life with Pamela D. Wilson, Caregiving Expert. Guest Bill Gardner from Noetic Outcomes shares tips for navigating through emotional and negative life situations.
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Caregiving Ruined My Life
00:03 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.
00:47 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio program, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on conversations about health, well-being, caring for ourselves and loved ones, all tied together with a little bit of humor and laughter that are essential to being a caregiver. The topic for this caregiving radio program is by caregiver request. It’s called Caregiving Ruined My Life. How many of you are caregivers who are wondering how to take back your life? How many of you hear the words, “Caregiving ruined my life,” and you are immediately judging anyone who might say these words, me included? If you’re judging, you may be a new caregiver, not a caregiver at all, or a little naive about what can happen in long-term caregiving situations. Stay with me. I will share a peek into the other side of caregiving. A side that some people probably can’t imagine. If you’re a caregiver, how often do you think, “Ah, caregiving ruined my life?” But you would never ever say these words. You’re afraid of being judged, or you don’t want to hurt feelings.
02:09 Pamela D. Wilson: I’ve been involved in caregiving for more than 20 years. I will be the first to agree that caregiving has many positives; love, joy, rewards, happiness. Caring for elderly parents, grandparents, a spouse, brother or sister, and clients—if you are a caregiving professional— can be rewarding, meaningful, joyous. Why else would caregivers do what we do? After more than 20 years of working in the care industry, I’m still inspired to help caregivers and aging adults. I love what I do. But let’s be realistic. For many people, being a caregiver is the most difficult responsibility you ever accept. I say accepted because few family members tell me that they are raising their hands to volunteer to be that caregiver. In fact, many caregivers feel that they don’t or didn’t have a choice to be a caregiver. Nobody else stepped up to offer to help. Exactly why caregivers say, “ah, caregiving ruined my life.” A spouse or a parent becomes ill, and you become the caregiver. This gap, I call this a caregiving gap that causes all of the distress, is a lack of support and education for caregivers. The more you know, the more skills caregivers learn, the easier all of this becomes, and you know how to take back your life.
03:35 Pamela D. Wilson: On this program, I’ll share real caregiving situations to help non-caregivers and care receivers to become more informed. I’ll offer 10 tips for caregivers to learn how to take back your life so that your first thought when you wake up in the morning isn’t, “being a caregiver is killing me.” In addition to all the positives, being a caregiver can be draining emotionally and physically. I’ve experienced the draining part of caregiving by working with thousands of caregivers and families. During this caregiving radio program, I’m going to be very direct about situations covering the idea of caregiving ruined my life. The concerns of caregivers deserve to be heard by everyone, especially those who have no idea what caregivers experience on a daily basis. Who are these people? They are family members who aren’t helping out and who lack empathy. Your spouse, mom, dad, or another person who is the care receiver, could be that person. Your employer, your workplace, your manager, who has no idea of the effect of juggling work and being a caregiver. Workplaces wonder why caregivers are unproductive. Why they have more days of being absent, coming in late, leaving early, and not getting their work done.
04:54 Pamela D. Wilson: When the workplace begins supporting working caregivers, this will change. Companies readily offer family care benefits for having and raising children, but nothing on the other end for elder care, which honestly is equally, if not more, challenging. Caregiving ruined my life applies to caregivers who give up paid employment, income, retirement savings, and a career path to care for elderly parents or a spouse. Our guest for the health and wellness segment of this program is Bill Gardner from Noetic Outcomes. He is an expert on the subject of leadership, organizational development, and creatively addressing problems and issues. He’s a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and the Center for Creative Leadership. On this caregiving radio program, Bill will share tips for navigating through negative and emotional life situations. For example, caregiving ruined my life. Let’s begin with the number one tip of 10 tips for caregivers to learn how to take back your life.
06:02 Pamela D. Wilson: What to do when elderly parents refuse help? Picture this. Mom or dad are struggling with managing medications, health problems like diabetes, and high blood pressure are resulting in frequent trips to doctors, and the hospital emergency room where you are frequently called to show up. Rather than eating healthy, your parents’ house is full of cakes, pies, potato chips, high salt TV dinners. The house is cluttered. There are small walkways between piles of newspapers, boxes, and furniture. The house is clearly a fall risk. You offer to help. They refuse your help with practical matters like housekeeping, grocery shopping, making healthy meals, and removing that clutter. In this situation, your relationship with your parents has never been great. You feel guilty about this. Your days are consumed with worry and multiple phone call requests from mom and dad that aren’t emergencies. You’re wondering how to take back your life so that you can avoid thinking my elderly parents and caregiving ruined my life. Similar to caregivers who are afraid to ask for help or who refuse help, elderly parents have the same right to refuse or limit the type of help they receive. We don’t like that as caregivers, but that’s the truth.
07:26 Pamela D. Wilson: When elderly parents are adamant about refusing help, stop pushing. Learn how to take back your life one step at a time. Limit your availability by telephone, except for absolute emergencies and text messages. Talk to your elderly parents once a day at a scheduled time to end the calls during working hours. Schedule a weekly visit, and set a time limit in hours; two, three, four hours. Let your parents know that you love them and you’re worried about their home and their health situation. When they ask for help, you’ll be there to create a plan to make sure that they get what they need. Accept that you can’t change your parents. It’s okay to have different beliefs about the responsibility of self-care and being proactive about health. You’re not going to abandon your parents, but you may also not be that caregiver who loses your life when your parents’ lives fall apart.
08:24 Pamela D. Wilson: Ten tips for caregivers and aging adults on a wide variety of topics can be heard on my website, on the Caring Generation Library, and in my Caring Generation Blog on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. You can also go to my Facebook page. It’s PamelaDWilson. Page and look for the Caregiving Trap Support Group. I’m Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation radio show, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Up next, Bill Gardner, tips for navigating through negative and emotional life situations. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
11:18 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. This is The Caring Generation radio show for caregivers, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Joining us is Bill Gardner from Noetic Outcomes. Bill, thank you for joining us.
11:33 Bill Gardner: Oh, thanks for having me, Pamela, I really appreciate the invitation.
11:37 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s my pleasure. So, COVID-19 has been a significant worry for, I think, everybody, and especially caregivers who experience a lot of concerns when life becomes uncertain. How can we understand where negative emotions come from and the best way to deal with those emotions?
11:57 Bill Gardner: It’s a great question, and certainly something that we’re all thinking about. To understand emotions, we really have to go to a very prehistoric part of our brain. About 200,000 years ago, actually, our ancestors had to have a part of their brain called the survival brain. It wasn’t a thinking brain. It wasn’t a logical brain or a reasoning brain. Its purpose was to keep us alive as an individual and keep our species alive. So, that brain got so well-developed that it is still with us today. So, I can give you a really simple model, and I’ve talked about it from a prehistoric way, but we’ll also bring it to today. So if you just envision a circle, like a clock face, and at the 12 o’clock part that you write “threat.” The survival brain gets activated when it senses that something is threatening to us.
12:55 Bill Gardner: Now, 200,000 years ago, that might have been an animal, a tiger, or something large that saw us as a meal, that’s not what we have today. What we have today, of course, COVID, is a big threat like that. But now when we have something like we’re facing social embarrassment, or I understand in the United States the number one fear that people have is speaking in public, the body senses, the brain senses that as a threat, and then it starts very quickly to go through a process to help us survive. We’re not in control of it. It happens without us thinking about it. So, at the 3 o’clock place on that clock face, you can put “threat assessment.” What that means is the survival brain is seeing how big of a threat is this—how dangerous is this to me? You put down at the 6 o’clock place “power assessment” that’s how much power I have to deal with that threat. And over at the 9 o’clock place on the clock, if you put “level of negative emotion,” that results from the difference in those last two things I said.
14:08 Bill Gardner: So if the threat is big and I don’t have much power, my emotion is going to be very high-level scale of emotion. If I feel pretty powerful to deal with the threat, then it’s going to be a lower level of emotion. So when I talk about negative emotions, I’m really talking about the range from something surprised me or something puzzled me or was unexpected, up through about a midpoint of, “I’m angry about that.” In the top of that list would be something like, “I feel homicidal,” that can be as high as you can go. The model of… Yeah. Sorry, Pam.
14:47 Pamela D. Wilson: That is a great explanation, thank you for that. No, I just wanted to thank you for the picture of the clock, because I can visualize that.
14:54 Bill Gardner: Oh, good, good. I’m a visual learner myself, so I like visions like that. So what can you do? Get into your thinking brain, and your thinking brain now can walk you through that process. In other words, don’t let it just happen without you being part of it, but actually ask yourself, “What’s the threat here? Why am I feeling threatened? How is the person I’m taking care of who just told me that I’m no good at what I’m doing—why is that a threat to me? How much power do I have to deal with that, and then to deal with the emotion that comes up, whatever level it is?”
15:30 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, and to your point, let’s say that I’m that caregiver who’s at that 9 o’clock point, and I’m thinking, “Oh, I hate how I feel about caring for my mom or dad, but then I feel guilty.” How do I change that thinking?
15:41 Bill Gardner: Yeah, I like that question, too. So the question really is, if I’m feeling guilty about something—if I can editorialize for just a moment—guilt is an emotion that is pretty useless for us to have, right? We don’t feel good about it, and it doesn’t change anything. But like all other emotions, if you take that guilt and can get out of that survival brain into your thinking brain and learn from it. So, in other words, why is it—where did this start with? When this happened, what was the threat to me? And when I get over to that 9 o’clock, and I’m saying, “I’m angry, I don’t like feeling like this, I shouldn’t feel like this,” and I’ll pause just here to say when you hear yourself talking to yourself with should-isms, just get into your thinking brain and say, “Don’t do that to yourself. What I should or shouldn’t do— I just need to think about what can I learn from this? Why I do feel guilty? Why am I feeling under attack when this is happening?” And the learning could be either, “I need a break, I need to see if I can get some help here,” or it could also be something that psychologists call reframing. And by reframing, I just mean, “wow, I didn’t want to go there at all. I felt angry, but I delivered great care and service. I’m really good at this.” That’s a reframe.
17:15 Pamela D. Wilson: And so, for caregivers, and we’ll start this question because we may end up having to go out to a break. But that reframing that you mentioned is that something that we can practice? Because I don’t think I would automatically go to reframing. How do we get there?
17:29 Bill Gardner: Yeah, it’s—well, first you have to get out of that emotional state and say, “Okay, let me pause, let me take a couple of deep breaths here, let me calm down, and now let’s think about this. What are other ways that I could look at this? How could I reframe? Just need to put—look at a different part of the picture. Highlight a different part of the picture.” If I were going to explain this to someone and explain it in a positive light as I could, how would I explain it? So for reframe, the example I gave is to say, “Okay, what’s good about this? Right now, I’m feeling like this is all bad. I’m angry. I’m really frustrated. What’s good about that? Well, maybe I should look at, even angry and frustrated. I’m a great caregiver. Let me remind myself of that.” That’s one reframe. The last way I would go on reframing is, [chuckle] “This could be a whole lot worse. Here’s how it could be worse: That I couldn’t do this, or something was getting in my way.” But it’s just a way of looking at the situation and deliberately saying, “I want to look at this in a different way.”
18:41 Pamela D. Wilson: Thank you for that explanation. We are going to head out to a break, listeners. We will continue our conversation with Bill Gardner after this break. The podcast of this radio show for caregivers and all of the Caring Generation podcasts are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com on the Caring Generation tab. Click on the media tab and then scroll down to find the Caring Generation radio show. This is Pamela D. Wilson on the Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn radio. Stay with us. We’ll be right back.
21:31 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, your host for the Caring Generation on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. We’re back to continue our conversation with Bill Gardner of Noetic Outcomes. So Bill, how do caregivers find a balance between being assertive instead of intimidated when they’re having discussions with parents that can be a little negative?
21:53 Bill Gardner: Okay. Yeah, so let me start by saying that any conversation that we’re going to have can be a better conversation if we—before we start it, or at least right as we’re starting it, that we get clear on a positive intention for that conversation. So let me open with that, say, if you think—like if I am going into a conversation to—because I want to get them back for saying what they said to me, it’s not going to work no matter how skillful you are. But if a positive intention is, “I’m going into this conversation so that our relationship can be more effective,” you’re ready to go.
22:33 Bill Gardner: We don’t understand what assertive means in the United States, in particular. And so, let me just quickly hit this. If you think of a triangle, and at one point of the triangle, you put aggressive. Aggressive means, “I’m going to treat you like I have all the rights in this situation, you have none. You don’t even have a right to respond. I’m going to do the talking.” That’s aggressive. Passive means, “I’m going to give all the rights to you, you can say and do whatever you want to, I’m just going to—I have no rights.” And assertive is a really hard thing to—it is, “You and I both have rights in here. I’m going to stand up for mine, and I’m going to protect yours.” So it’s a skill that’s required. A lot of people think, if I’m being non-assertive or passive, the way to place the switch on that triangle is right to aggressive, and that is going to be—neither one of those are going to get you to a solution.
23:33 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, it sounds like you’re talking about a win-win solution. Am I on the right track there?
23:39 Bill Gardner: Yes, I love that concept. Win-win is exactly where you’re going with assertive. And you can think of, “we both have rights, we’re sort of equal in this.” So let me tell you a really easy-to-say, hard-to-do thing, a very assertive thing to do is to, once you state the intention, “This intention is to improve our relationship,” to go second, in other words, to say, “I’d like to hear your part of this, I’d like to hear what you’ve got to say.” While that person is talking, listening, really listening, not thinking to rebut but listening to what they’re saying. So that when they finish, you could summarize back, “So, let me make sure I understand,” it’s not saying you agree, “This is the point you made, this is the second point you made, this is how you felt. Is that right?” When they say, “Yes, that’s right,” the psychologists call it the principle of reciprocity. They’re much more likely to hear you when you have heard them, or as Stephen Covey says, “Seek first to understand before you seek to be understood.” So listening, being sure you know what assertive is, and starting with a positive intention, you’re going to have a much better conversation every time.
24:53 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, I think your point of the summary is good because sometimes even me, I’ll hear something, and I do repeat it back, and maybe I didn’t hear it right, or my head was somewhere else. [chuckle] So on that topic…
25:03 Bill Gardner: Right, right.
25:04 Pamela D. Wilson: On that topic, when our emotions take over when we’re a caregiver, or really in any situation, what’s your guidance on how to balance those emotions when situations just become heated?
25:15 Bill Gardner: Yes, so there are two things you have to deal with. You have to deal with their emotion and with your emotions, right? So real simple. When you’re dealing with another person’s emotion, especially if it’s getting pretty high up that scale toward anger, the first thing to do is let them know that you’ve heard how they feel. It doesn’t mean you agree with it but just affirms. For example, “I see that you’re very upset by this,” or, “I can hear the anger in your voice,” or, “I can tell this is frustrating to you.” Because on the other hand, if you really want to make somebody angry, more angry, when they’re telling you they’re angry, don’t get it. Just stay calm and act like you’re not picking up that they’re angry. So call it out, affirm it. And they have a right to however it is they’re feeling. Very quickly after that though, in an assertive stance, say, “and I’m beginning to get a little bit defensive because you’ve raised your voice and you’re about two inches from my face and… ” Well, in post-COVID days, we can say that, “You’re about two inches from my face, your voice has raised, your face is red. I’m starting to get defensive. Why don’t we both—let’s take a five-minute break, or let’s take a couple of deep breaths and calm down so we can talk on the same level?” After you get to that point…
26:35 Pamela D. Wilson: That is great advice.
26:38 Bill Gardner: Yes. After you get to that point, it’s easier to be assertive, again, taking care of their rights as well. And the last thing you do is ask for what you want. Be really clear going from this point, “If you get upset with something that I’ve said, tell me right away. Don’t stew on it for a week. Tell me right away. I want to hear it.” For yourself, you have to take a couple of deep breaths. Let that survival brain relax and get into the thinking brain. But there’s some other tricks here. Taking a deep breath, I know we’ve always said that, but if you take four deep breaths, and here’s the crucial part, exhale as slowly as you inhale. A lot of us will take a deep breath and then blow it out. But if you inhale to five and exhale to five, four of those activates your parasympathetic nervous system.
27:33 Pamela D. Wilson: Okay.
27:36 Bill Gardner: That’s going to make you feel better, it’s going to calm you down, and you’re going to be able to continue from that.
27:42 Pamela D. Wilson: Perfect. Is there anything else you’d like to add, Bill? And please do share your website address in case people want to know more about you.
27:49 Bill Gardner: Oh, sure. Just the last two things I’d say is, the most powerful word in the world when you’re talking about getting along with other people is forgiveness, and not just forgiving other people, but forgiving yourself. So if you can approach relationships with forgiveness for both you and the other person, you’re going to come out better, no matter how tough the conversation. And my website is www.noeticoutcomes.com. I’d love to hear from anybody that’s listening tonight. I love to talk about negative emotions.
28:28 Pamela D. Wilson: Bill, I thank you so much for joining us. Your advice has been just so practical, and I think all of us can implement that. Listeners, invite your friends and family to join us every Wednesday evening. This is Pamela D. Wilson, your host on The Caring Generation. You’re with us live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.
31:06 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, and your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring, giving us permission to talk about aging, the challenges of caregiving, health, the patient experience in healthcare, and everything in between. We’re back to our tips. Number two of 10 tips for caregivers to learn how to take back your life is the idea of managing work-life balance and a sense of duty. Unlike the first tip, in this scenario, you have a good relationship with your parents, but you don’t find caregiving activities rewarding or pleasant. Caregiving is more work for you on top of the commitment you have to your career and your family. So rather than thinking, “I don’t want to be a caregiver anymore,” you are committed to help, because your parents took care of you growing up. You don’t love being a caregiver, but you believe that your parents deserve the best care.
32:07 Pamela D. Wilson: You will not think “caregiving ruined my life.” The situation isn’t ideal, but you still work with it, but that doesn’t mean that you do everything. There may be an agreement that focuses on how to take back your life that includes hired caregivers and other types of support, like, moving parents into an assisted living community or using other community resources. When your parents don’t have the money to pay for care, then it’s time to file for Medicaid services. Their inability to save money or maybe they didn’t plan for retirement, isn’t going to have a huge effect on the well-being of your family, your husband, your wife, or your children. This can kind of seem like a little bit of tough love, but in some situations, it’s a practical choice to protect your life.
32:56 Pamela D. Wilson: Number three of 10 tips for caregivers who ask, “how to take back your life?” is naive people who say cruel or thoughtless things. This includes your family members. How do you manage when families don’t get along? First of all, don’t feel bad, you’re in good company, not all families get along. If you’re in the situation of caregiving ruined my life, it’s probably because you’re the sole or primary caregiver. Brothers or sisters aren’t offering to help, that burden is on you. You’re drained emotionally and physically. You may have given up full-time work, moved into your parents’ home, because at the time it seemed easier. More on living with elderly parents coming up in a minute.
33:37 Pamela D. Wilson: After moving in together, you realize you’re miserable. Brothers and sisters and other family members tell you that taking care of mom or dad is your responsibility, that it can’t possibly be that bad. Let them walk a week in your shoes, and they might think differently about the idea of caregiving ruined my life. How to take back your life? Tell your family you’re taking a week off and leave. Maybe your family members will gain some compassion, empathy, or if nothing else, they’ll know what you’re doing with all of this time, if they have to do the work. You’ve been arranging medications, bathing your parents, changing Depends, attending medical appointments, some nights you don’t even get to sleep.
34:17 Pamela D. Wilson: During that week away, make a plan for how to take back your life. What’s stopping you? I know you’re saying, “Oh, I can’t possibly do that.” Well, you’re stopping you—and the fear that your family won’t step up. And why is this your problem? Because you allow it to be your problem. The longer you continue being the caregiver, the doormat, the doer, the person who can’t say no—the more your family will continue to expect from you. Are they offering to help? Are they paying you? With you as that caregiver, they don’t have to lift a finger. Set a timeline for an emancipation plan for how to take back your life. Tell your family and parents, “I don’t want to be a caregiver anymore. I’ve done my part. It’s time for somebody else to take over.” Get a job if you don’t have one. Regain your independence, move out of your parents’ home. Move your parents out of your home. Stop being the caregiver who spends 20 or more hours a week at your parents’ home. No more caregiving ruined my life for you.
35:20 Pamela D. Wilson: Number four of 10 tips for caregivers is the thought of caring for my elderly mother is killing me. Go ahead, say it with me, “Caring for my elderly mother is killing me.” Shout it from the rooftops. A lot of caregivers feel this way. Who made the rule that family caregivers shouldn’t express their feelings? I suspect a person who had no experience as a caregiver. That’s usually how it works. Not to mention that a lot of caregivers will express concern about caregiving experts who they later find out have no experience in caregiving. Some of these people give them bad or inaccurate advice, and these caregivers are vulnerable. Some of these people have no work or even education in the field of caregiving or aging. They just want to try to help because they’ve had some personal experience, and that doesn’t work out.
36:14 Pamela D. Wilson: Number five of 10 tips for caregivers is the question of, “What’s making you sick?” What’s your guess? Why do you think you might be sick? The answer is caregiving stress and feeling like you have to do it all alone. Statistics confirm that caregivers—because there is never time for self-care—become more physically and emotionally sick than your elderly parent, or spouse, or the person for whom you provide care. Being in poor health, you duplicate that situation of caring for elderly parents, and you pass it along to your children or somebody else who will have to become your caregiver. Not taking care of yourself, thinking, “caregiving ruined my life,” passes that responsibility of your care to the next generation. Instead, go to the doctor, take care of your health, exercise, eat healthy, learn how to take back your life. Becoming part of the patient experience can help you learn how to become a better advocate for yourself and for elderly parents. Ask for information from healthcare providers. Verify the information to make certain that if you’re making decisions. You’re making them off of correct information and correct assumptions. Determining what’s making you sick is up to you.
37:30 Pamela D. Wilson: And rather than becoming the caregiver who needs care, look at caregiving for aging parents as a life lesson. You’re learning life skills, valuable life skills. Focus on the present and the future. Many of us think about everything that happened before. We can’t go backward. We can’t re-write the past, but we can change today. Become an educated caregiver, learn everything that you can about caregiving. Do that for yourself. Online caregiver support is available on my website, in my online caregiving course. It is called, “Taking Care of Elderly Parents, Stay at Home and Beyond.” Online caregiver support is also available in my Facebook group; it’s called The Caregiving Trap. You can go to my Facebook page. It’s PamelaDWilson.page, and also on my website, there is a caregiving library with hundreds and hundreds of articles. You can get a free subscription to the advanced part of that library, which is on a separate website, it’s organized, it’s much easier to find. That library is for family caregivers and also for professionals. The articles are for different subjects for each type of caregiver. Join me every weeknight on Wednesday on The Caring Generation. Invite your family and friends. This is Pamela D. Wilson on the Caring Generation. You’re with me live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
41:16 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, author, and speaker on The Caring Generation, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Information for corporations and groups about elder care and caregiving, on-site education, online webinars, video conferencing presentations, talent optimization, and creating a workplace where people matter are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. Number six of 10 tips for caregivers around the idea of caregiving ruined my life and how to take back your life is dealing with the frustration of people who offer to help but never show up. How many times does someone say to you, “call me if you need help?” You call, and what do they say? “I’m too busy.” Oh my gosh. If you are one of these people, why offer if you know you’re not going to help?
42:08 Pamela D. Wilson: If you offer to help, be a good person. Keep your word. There will be times when these same people who offered to help—but were too busy—then say to you, “oh my gosh, you look tired. You should take better care of yourself.” When you respond with, “I am so tired of being a caregiver,” then what do they do? They guilt you by saying, “Well, taking care of your mom or dad or spouse can’t be that bad.” How to take back your life? You send these people packing. You don’t need them in your life. They won’t help. They are only going to make you feel bad. They are toxic people. Number seven of 10 tips for caregivers—how to take back your life— is to end thoughts of caregiving ruined my life. Don’t give up your full-time or any paying job to be a caregiver. Listen to my podcast called How to Keep a Job and Care for Elderly Parents. If you have any concerns that your parents didn’t save enough money for retirement or their care, don’t put yourself in a similar situation.
43:09 Pamela D. Wilson: Women who have children and leave the workforce are already behind in savings and retirement planning, I know some women don’t like to hear that. Don’t make the same mistake twice by leaving the workforce again to care for elderly parents. Caregivers who I know have done this, they came to regret the decision later. They thought the time in caregiving would be six months, 12 months. 15 years later, they find themselves unemployed and under-skilled. Workplace skills, they’re perishable. They go away if you don’t use them—technology changes. Caregivers who stop working to be full-time caregivers, don’t realize that caregiving work will become all-consuming, isolating, and depressing. That job you had it may be your only outside social and mental activity. If you give that up, what happens to you financially, mentally, and physically? Weigh this decision carefully to avoid being that person who says, caregiving ruined my life.” You made the choice to give up a job and income. How much extra effort will you have to make to figure out how to take back your life?
44:17 Pamela D. Wilson: On a similar subject, number eight of 10 tips for caregivers is the idea of moving in with elderly parents or having elderly parents move in with you. There are more situations where moving in together doesn’t work out for many reasons. Most caregivers and their parents don’t think critically about the challenges of living with elderly parents, lifestyles, and how this decision really does change lives forever. Living with elderly parents, it’s not an easily reversible decision. Separating—moving apart—it’s like getting a divorce. Feelings can be bruised when the caregiver says, “caregiving ruined my life. I can’t do this anymore.” Elderly parents who feel guilty find it difficult to make suggestions for how to take back your life because it’s probably been years since they worked. Number nine of 10 tips for how to take back your life as a result of caregiving ruined my life is the fear of getting back out there. If you made the decision to give up a full-time job and live with elderly parents, that decision to become fully dependent on elderly parents, think back. After all the work it took to move out of their home the first time when you were 18 or 20 or 22, now you have a double whammy here.
45:36 Pamela D. Wilson: Is fear of getting out there keeping you in this safe world of living in your parent’s basement and never going out? Have you let yourself go? Are you worried about how you might appear for a job interview? I know all this sounds crazy, but it is a real part of caregiving ruined my life concerns. I hear it from caregivers all the time. The path for how to take back your life is to commit to daily action, even small ones. You may need to find a friend to hold you accountable to keep you sliding back into old habits. Caregiving is work. Getting a job and taking back your life may seem like more work that you can’t do. You can do it. You can take back the life that you gave up when you become a caregiver. Number 10 of 10 tips for responding to caregiving ruined my life concerns is to realize at the very beginning that caregiving is a marathon. It’s not a 50-yard sprint. It doesn’t end quickly. Every choice that you make might be questioned by your family members. You will be judged for helping too much, not helping enough, for being selfish, for expressing your feelings. It’s crazy.
46:49 Pamela D. Wilson: Find a way to ignore the naysayers. Your parents may refuse care until a disaster strikes and then ask you why you don’t have more time to help, or why didn’t you tell me this? Crazy, unexpected, uncontrollable events happen. You could be the first among your 20-year-old friends to care for mom or dad who are in their early 50s, who have a preference for alcohol and marijuana. Whatever happened to the idea of enjoying life while you’re young? You’re a caregiver. That thought for you goes up in smoke every time your mom and dad smoke or drink. Young caregivers today are caring for parents with alcohol or substance abuse issues. This is proven in research. Your parents might be mentally ill, or they might suffer from multiple chronic illnesses. This is all proof that being a caregiver doesn’t only happen when we’re older. Even though seniors are taking care of seniors. You might be a 70-year-old son or daughter taking care of a 90-year-old mom or dad. Anything is possible in caregiving.
47:51 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregiving ruined my life is the result of so many factors. The most common is a desire to be helpful and selfless. That while being selfless has good intentions, it can destroy the life of a caregiver if you don’t manage it with care. You know that warning on every pack of cigarettes, the one that says, “Caution: Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.” Caregiving should have the same warning. How to take back your life as a caregiver is never falling into that trap of caregiving ruined my life. Have a serious discussion about caregiving responsibilities at the start of caring for an aging parent. Talk about money and the practicalities of providing care, your time, career, education, family, and your future. Leave no detail untouched. More on this subject after the break. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving author, expert, and speaker. This is The Caring Generation, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
52:12 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Share The Caring Generation with your friends, family, co-workers, and the companies where you work, your social groups, at church, and everywhere. One in four people you know are caregivers looking for hope, help, and support that is here on The Caring Generation every Wednesday night, and on my website 24/7 at PamelaDWilson.com—coming up next week, how to stay emotionally balanced in caregiving and tips for managing different emotional styles, and the effect on health and relationships. Our guest is Dr. Pelin Kesebir from the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin. Back to the subject of caregiving ruined my life and how to take back your life. How often do we hear people say, “My parents ruined my life, or my life is the way it is because of Sally or Jimmy?” How valid is this thinking? How much choice do we have over our options? What do you think?
53:18 Pamela D. Wilson: Choice has a way of limiting our choices in other areas. For example, if you decided to go to college, you may choose to give up activities that take you away from your studies because you want to get A’s in all of your classes. So you study instead of playing. Deciding to become a parent has life-changing consequences. For many people, becoming a parent isn’t even a thought. It’s part of life. You just do it. Does the choice or not choosing to become a parent automatically mean that if you are the child, you have no choice but to become that caregiver for an aging parent? How much choice is involved in caregiving? Some caregivers would say, “None. Caregiving has ruined my life. There was no choice. There was no volunteering for that job. The responsibility came crashing down.” I don’t know if you remember the Wizard of Oz, but that house that landed [chuckle] on the Wicked Witch of the East, poor Dorothy had to deal with the Wicked Witch of the West the rest of that show.
54:18 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregivers, know that you have amazing superpowers, even though you may not realize it. You have a lot of choices. You can refuse to care for elderly parents, even though many of you would not even think of that. If you’re stuck, you can learn how to take back your life as a caregiver. Just put on those ruby red slippers and say, “There’s no place like home,” and then decide where your home is. Is it your home? Is it your parents’ home? Is home where the heart is? That decision is up to you. During this program, if you have been unfamiliar with everything that can happen in caregiving, you’ve gotten a little view of the dark side of caregiving. It’s that side that many people who aren’t caregivers can’t even imagine. They don’t see, and they don’t empathize. It’s the side of caregiving that people don’t want to see because being a caregiver can significantly change a life for the better or, the worse. It’s all in your perspective, and the choices that you make and the joy that you create.
55:17 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregivers, ask for the help, the education that you need from your family members, and the workplace. Caregiver support through articles, videos, online programs are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. Join my group on Facebook. It’s called The Caregiving Trap. My Facebook page is PamelaDWilson.com. And if you have ideas for future programs, visit my website, PamelaDWilson.com, click on the Contact button and send me an email. Caregivers, have a wonderful week this week. God bless you all for everything that you do. Sleep well tonight, and have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are together again.
55:55 Announcer: Tune in each week with The Caring Generation with host, Pamela D. Wilson. Come join the conversation and see how Pamela can provide solutions and peace of mind for everyone, here on Pamela D. Wilson’s The Caring Generation.