Caring for Dad – The Caring Generation® Podcasts

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The Caring Generation® – Episode 91 June 23, 2021. On this caregiver program, expert Pamela D Wilson talks about Caring for Dad when mom isn’t around anymore. Advice for adult children caring for a father who is widowed, divorced or caring for mom. Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe shares research about differences in the well-being of Hispanics and non-Hispanic caregivers of the elderly.

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Caring For Dad

0:00:04.0 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.

How Can I Take Care of My Father?

Watch More Videos About Caregiving and Aging on Pamela’s YouTube Channel

0:00:37:66 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, consultant, and guardian of The Caring Generation.  This week we will talk about Caring for Dad When Mom Isn’t Around and the effects on adult children caregivers and family members. The two situations that we will talk about are the death of a spouse and loss related to caring for a mom who has a  terminal illness, advancing heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia—that means mom needs significant care and dad needs support.

0:01:17:16 Pamela D Wilson: We will also talk about when this caregiving event occurs in life—as a child, a young adult, middle-aged or older adult. Our guest for this program is Dr. Monika Lopez Anuarbe, Associate Professor of Economics and a health and inequality economist specializing in aging, caregiving, and health from Connecticut College. One of the areas of her research is caregiving for aging relatives and friends. She joins us to share research from a recent publication, Differences in the Experiential Well-being of Hispanics and Non-Hispanics Engaged in Elder Care.

01:58:90 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s talk about the life situations of caring for dad when mom isn’t around. If you are caring for dad today, how old are you? What’s happening in your life that can make time for caregiving a challenge? For example, a father in young or middle age who experiences a loss of a wife or partner due to sudden death or a longstanding chronic illness may become responsible for raising children, working, and managing the household.

0:02:31:59 Pamela D Wilson: Are you a teenager or young adult who was—or is taking on responsibilities and growing up quickly to help dad care for brothers or sisters and maintain the household? Looking at the other end of life— caring for dad, when mom isn’t around situation may involve a middle-aged or retired father receiving care from mom. Mom passes away suddenly and unexpectedly or has had a longstanding chronic illness.

0:03:05:14 Pamela D Wilson: Dad may have been mom’s devoted caregiver, and now dad is the one who needs support. Depending on the timing of becoming a caregiver, adult children may have their own families. The primary caregiver may be the adult child who isn’t married and is seen by siblings as having the fewest responsibilities. You may be retired and looking forward to traveling, and instead, you become a caregiver for dad.

0:03:36:32 Pamela D Wilson: If you are an adult child caring for dad when mom isn’t around, you may be an unmarried daughter. Add to these scenarios being the single child who lives near dad’s home. Let’s talk for a moment about grief. In all situations where loss or change occurs, a father and children or siblings experience loss and grief differently. The experience of grief is highly dependent on the relationship that a person had with the deceased.

0:04:08:83 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s start by talking about the experience of grief of a father or husband losing his wife. I’ll share insights from the loss of my mother and my father’s and my experience of grief. Many of you know if you’ve listened to the show or have been on my website that I was the youngest of six children. You’ve heard me talk about my mom being sick for years, beginning when I was in my teens, with heart disease and other illnesses before she passed away at the young age of 69.

0:04:42:04 Pamela D Wilson: Mom’s death and sickness occurred years before I began my career in aging and caregiving.  When mom was sick, my father was her primary caregiver, and my sister and I helped with doctor appointments, hospitalizations, and other projects. Fortunately, my father’s health issues were minor—some arthritis, back pain, asthma, and high blood pressure. He did not have the significant and troublesome health issues that my mother had.

0:05:12:10 Pamela D Wilson: My brothers and sisters’ concerns about caring for dad when mom wasn’t around related to grief, loss, quality of life, and making sure that dad was safe and happy. My parents had been married for 50 years and lived in the same house all those years. Their story may be similar to many of your parents. They raised six children. My oldest sister died in a car accident when I was seventeen—she was twenty-nine.

0:05:43:55 Pamela D Wilson: I was the youngest of six children—separated by nine years from my next oldest brother and sister—they were the twins, and there were seventeen years between my oldest brother and me. My dad had time to spend with me that he did not have to spend with my brothers and sisters, who were growing up at the same time. He and I were close. I was the child he called the day he considered attempting suicide after my mother passed away.

0:06:14:46 Pamela D Wilson: Dad was extremely depressed about the loss of my mom. Depression is common for all individuals experiencing the loss of a family member or a friend and other losses in life. My sister took my father to see a geriatric psychiatrist for treatment of the depression. Receiving a prescription for depression made a positive difference in my father’s ability to manage day to day. While most women openly express grief by sharing emotions, talking, and crying, men are raised with different expectations.

0:06:51:23 Pamela D Wilson: Men are taught to be the strong ones, fix or solve problems, protect others, and not show vulnerability. Men grieve by throwing themselves into projects or activities. If you are a man, you may know this. Major activities like remodeling a home, landscaping a yard, or committing to physical fitness—which might mean training to participate in a triathlon or playing  18 holes of golf every day with a buddy.

0:07:22:46 Pamela D Wilson: My father kept himself busy even before my mom died. Anyone experiencing grief can experience depression. How do you know if you are depressed or grieving? Grief is that experience of loss of being separated from someone you love. Caregivers experience grief by losing their routines. By losing friendships because of time devoted to caregiving. So death is not the only reason that caregivers experience grief.

0:07:57:34 Pamela D Wilson: Things like losing a job or income, losing a pet, having children move out of the home, or experiencing any major change in life like a divorce, moving to another city or state, or retiring. When caring for dad when mom isn’t around, grief can include thoughts of what you or dad might have done to prevent mom’s death or suffering from dementia or another illness. All of my siblings had these thoughts when my mom passed away.

0:08:32:51 Pamela D Wilson: Other signs of depression include trouble sleeping, having nightmares, or bad dreams, constant worry about the next loss. Changes in appetite, feeling tired, lonely, isolated, anxious, or having crying spells might also indicate that you are depressed. Men sometimes respond to grief by expressing anger. I was depressed after my mom died—and experienced many of these feelings. I saw a grief counselor for several months to work through my feelings.

0:09:11:52 Pamela D Wilson: When caring for dad when mom isn’t around, working through your loss as the adult child and helping dad do the same can be a positive experience that may bring you closer. While you may be ready to sort through mom’s things, dad may not be ready to part with her clothing, those memories. Going through mom’s clothes and personal items may be emotionally draining. You might want to keep everything.

0:09:41:49 Pamela D Wilson: My suggestion is to find a memento and item that reminds you of happy times. Then talk to dad about allowing brothers, sisters, grandchildren, and other family members to do the same. To find and keep a keepsake from your parent’s home that reminds them of mom or grandma or their sister. Donate the rest to a charity where the items will be appreciated. There are many worthwhile women’s charities to support.

0:10:14:91 Pamela D Wilson: Caring for dad when mom isn’t around anymore may also include sorting out paperwork like bank statements, birth certificates, insurance policies, medical and pharmacy receipts, and other items to help dad organize. I was my parent’s trustee. I helped my dad with all of this after my mom passed away. It’s important not to rush the process. To make sure that dad is comfortable having mom’s items removed from the house. This activity can allow both of you to share memories and work through the grieving process of caring for dad when mom isn’t around anymore.

0:10:55:10 Pamela D Wilson:  More on this topic after a break. If this is the first time you are joining the show, thank you for being here. The Caring Generation is not limited by time zone or location—caregivers worldwide listen. The show and the transcript for you to read are on my website at Click on the Media Tab and then The Caring Generation. This is Pamela Wilson, caregiving expert, author, and speaker on The Caring Generation. Stay with me; I’ll be right back.


0:11:51:63 Pamela D Wilson:  This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, consultant, and speaker on The Caring Generation. Helpful information for caregivers and elderly parents is in my book: The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes, available on my website  Click on Library in the top banner and then book. You can also purchase my online caregiver course, Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home and Beyond,

0:12:18:11 Pamela D Wilson: with 30 hours of webinars featuring practical steps for how to take care of elderly parents, make a plan for aging and health and things you should know for how to stay out of a nursing home. It’s never too early to make a plan to live the best life possible today and in your later years.

0:12:39:35 Pamela D Wilson:  Before the break, we talked about caring for dad when mom isn’t around anymore and helping dad sort through mom’s belongings. If any of you have already been in this position, you know that this house cleaning and experience of grief can be the tip of the iceberg to more emotions and sharing. When a father needs support, assistance, and care—there are many other considerations to talk about within the family.

0:13:09:62 Pamela D Wilson: If your parents are like most parents, they may have made a plan for aging. A plan for how they thought things would work out without discussing this plan with anyone—including you. Based on my work with families, this is a common experience because talking about aging is not a group or team effort until it must be, and even then, caregiving is rarely a smooth journey. What do I mean by this?

0:13:41:32 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s say that mom just died and you take your father to a doctor’s appointment. The doctor looks at you and says, “your dad is going to need help. You need to arrange something.” If you were involved in caring for mom, you might understand the recommendation. If dad was the sole caregiver for mom and you weren’t involved, you may be puzzled by what “you need to arrange something means.” Does this mean that you are destined to be the main caregiver for dad or that you should look into care services like a home care agency or assisted living?

0:14:20:17 Pamela D Wilson: If this is your future—caring for dad—what happens about your job, your relationship with your husband or wife, and your children. Who walks the dog? When your time is committed to caring for dad when mom isn’t around anymore, how much of your time will be needed? What will your employer say if you need to take time off work? How will this time off work affect your ability to be promoted or receive a raise?

0:14:50:59 Pamela D Wilson: Who takes the kids to afterschool practice, makes dinner, does the laundry—when you are caring for dad who can no longer manage these tasks for himself? These are the questions you should be asking. Are you feeling a little anxious thinking about everything that might arise in caring for dad? As I mentioned before, managing the house and the day-to-day is only the beginning—the tip of the iceberg.

0:15:21:74 Pamela D Wilson: What happens when dad’s health concerns become a bigger issue, and there are doctor appointments, medical treatments, a nursing home stay, or a possible hospitalization? At this point, the healthcare system becomes your constant companion. What about other doctors like the first who said, “you’ll need to arrange something,” and again, you have no idea what that means. Or when the hospital treats dad and sends him home, but you have no idea what caused the hospitalization in the first place, so you’re not sure how to prevent it from happening again.

0:16:02:37 Pamela D Wilson: This rollercoaster of unexpected events and role reversal is why families should create a family care plan. Care planning is a healthcare speak medical term that care managers and care consultants like myself use to describe an integrated plan developed within the family to care for aging parents—or your plan to care for yourself if you are an aging adult living alone—plus a plan to care for the caregiver. Planning for the caregiver is rarely a consideration when creating a family care plan.

0:16:42:93 Pamela D Wilson: One might wonder about this when it’s the caregiver who does all of the work. Why shouldn’t care for them be included? In some cases, parents talk about aging but don’t involve their children or other family members because talking about aging, sickness, health care, and death is uncomfortable. Parents may not want to make their children feel uncomfortable by initiating these discussions and vice versa. Role reversal, children may wish to have these conversations, and parents deny the need to talk.

0:17:19:70 Pamela D Wilson: From my experience talking to groups of parents when I do presentations to groups and corporations about all aspects of aging and creating a care plan, I can tell you that many of them who talk to me after the presentation wish that I could talk to their children and have the same conversation. In some situations, with their permission, I do speak to their children and open up these conversations within the family.

0:17:49:05 Pamela D Wilson: You can gain insights into caring for dad when mom isn’t around anymore by looking at your life if you are single or your current relationship if you are partnered or married. If you’re single, you know that you manage all aspects of life. You work, pay bills, manage the household, deal with car repairs, home toilets overflowing—everything. If you are married or partnered, you may divide up these responsibilities. But what happens when something happens to you or your husband—as it did to your parents?

0:18:27:12 Pamela D Wilson: Who steps in? At this point, the surviving spouse—dad or mom—has to plan and make decisions alone, including taking back all of the projects or responsibilities that the other spouse assumed. As mentioned earlier, in younger couple relationships, the loss of a spouse might result in raising children alone. Being a single parent can feel overwhelming. In many families, children in a single-parent family grow up faster than their peers because they take on adult responsibilities.

0:19:02:17 Pamela D Wilson: That single parent still has to work and gain income and take care of the family. And in some cases, technically, and I’m saying, a single parent may be caring for a spouse who is sick and still have to do all of these other responsibilities. A middle-aged parent taking care of dad when mom isn’t available anymore may be simulating the effects of a single-parent household. Think about this, if you become an absentee parent who expects your husband or wife to manage without the time you previously contributed to the family. This can be challenging.

0:19:45:37 Pamela D Wilson: These are the situations and the effects of caregiving that families don’t openly discuss. Single or married, caregiving daughters or sons take on the responsibility and try to hold everything together. Being a caregiver can mean caring for dad when dad is still caring for mom with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or another life-ending diagnosis. Alzheimer’s disease is often called “the long goodbye.” Meaning a long time between the diagnosis of the disease and death.

0:20:21:49 Pamela D Wilson: This long goodbye can be a few years or twenty years or more, depending on the situation. In the early stages of health issues, dad may be able to care for mom independently. Your parents’ lives go on in their self-contained world where they don’t talk about the future or what might happen when mom needs 24/7 care or nears death. As time passes, you may notice dad becoming weary, tired, and experiencing more health issues. This may be a time when caring for dad fast forwards to considering care services because mom needs more care.

0:21:07:91 Pamela D Wilson: These shocks, or wake-up calls, like an expected health event, an unexpected death, or a terminal disease diagnosis, can result in emotional trauma and feelings of overwhelm for dad and all family caregivers. Talking about creating a family care plan for aging is one path forward to avoid watching your life as the adult child caregiver spiral out of control to a catastrophic situation of losing a job or having your marriage destroyed if you are that sole caregiver.

0:21:47:77 Pamela D Wilson: Many caregivers listening are already on the path to these situations, and you’re not sure what to do. In families where multiple children exist, and everyone accepts responsibility to help care for mom and dad, situations can seem more manageable and less stressful. Unfortunately, shared responsibilities by all family members is not the most common family care situation. Many of you know this because you talk to me about situations where brothers and sisters could be helping, but they don’t.

0:22:22:83 Pamela D Wilson: Most adult children who become the primary caregiver are not financially independent or wealthy. Meaning they’re not able to withstand years out of the workforce with no ill effects on your career, your savings, your health, or your family relationships. Most caregivers work full or part-time and squeeze in caring for dad when mom isn’t available anymore into evenings during the week and weekends.

0:22:52:55 Pamela D Wilson: This constant running or being on-call affects the quality of life for family caregivers. When an opportunity arises for family members to understand the broader impact of family discussions and the importance about care, and all of the things that can happen, families actually grow closer. Instead of everyone in the family making individual plans—like my family did when my mom first became sick—the entire family can plan together.

0:23:25:74 Pamela D Wilson: Let me share the story of my family specific to what I call individual planning. When mom’s health issues advanced, I and my brothers and sisters talked. We were certain that dad would die first because that’s what happens with men. They usually die before their wives. Then our plan was to have my mom go from house to house to house so that she wouldn’t have to live alone in my parent’s home for any extended period of time.

0:23:55:21 Pamela D Wilson: My sister committed to coming home to care for mom when mom got sick. That didn’t happen. It was actually my oldest brother. We all agreed to the way that we would care for mom. Now here’s the interesting thing.  Despite the evidence—and there was so much evidence—that documented and confirmed the seriousness of my mom’s health issues—that pointed to a higher likelihood of mom dying before my father. We didn’t pay attention. Even the doctors painted a picture of hope. The five of us children couldn’t have been more wrong.

0:24:34:94: Pamela D Wilson:  The doctors didn’t want to give us bad news. We were too naïve to ask for a prognosis or ask about the likelihood of my mom living after surgery after events. This naivete included my sister, who was a nurse working at the hospital where my mom was frequently admitted. Just because you have a nurse in your family doesn’t mean the nurse knows everything that there is to know about aspects of caring for elderly parents. As my dad often said when he made a mistake, “what was I thinking?” We asked ourselves, “what were we thinking?”

0:25:14:49: Pamela D Wilson:  The truth is—we weren’t thinking. We were in denial, and we didn’t know any better. We did not know to ask the right questions or look into senior care services that might have been available at the time. So—instead, we dealt with my mother’s death when it happened and then stumbled around for a while trying to figure out how to take care of dad when mom wasn’t around anymore. This happens in many families.

0:25:14:49: Pamela D Wilson:   We’re off to a break. After the break, Dr. Monika Anuarbe joins us to share her research: Differences in the Experiential Well-being of Hispanics and Non-Hispanics Engaged in Elder Care. You can learn more about the experiences of family caregivers and gain a perspective of the similarities in your family caregiving situation.

0:26:06:17   Pamela D Wilson: If you are interested in making a family care plan to support the care of elderly parents or a spouse or interested in creating a care plan for yourself, visit my website to schedule an eldercare consultation. Click on How I Help in the upper banner, then Family Caregivers, and then find the form for an elder care consultation. You can complete that form online to schedule a telephone or video call with me. I am Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, caregiving speaker, and eldercare consultant with you on The Caring Generation. Stay with me; I” ll be right back.


0:27:08:12   Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving speaker, expert, and advocate on The Caring Generation program for caregivers and aging adults. Whether you are twenty or 100 years old, you’re in exactly the right place to learn tips to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead. If you’re not sure how to talk to your children about caregiving issues or if you’ve tried to talk to your aging parents. Let me start the conversation for you. Share The Caring Generation Podcasts and my website with spouses, parents, brother, sister, family, and friends.

0:27:44:34   Pamela D Wilson:  I’m now honored to introduce you to my esteemed colleague  Dr. Monika Anuarbe Associate Professor of Economics and a health and inequality economist specializing in aging, caregiving, and health from Connecticut College. She joins us to share research from a recent publication, Differences in the Experiential Well-being of Hispanics and Non-Hispanics Engaged in Elder Care. Let’s see what similarities you notice from Dr. Anuarbe’s research and the experience in your family.

0:28:23L:01 Pamela D Wilson:  Dr. Lopez-Anuarbe, thank you so much for joining me.

0:28:24:65 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe: You’re most welcome, and thank you for having me.

0:28:25:71 Pamela D Wilson: My pleasure. Can you share the research that you have done about the growth in the aging population and the higher percentage of family caregivers versus non-Hispanic persons, which explains why talking about caregiving is so important?

0:28:42: 43 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe: Of course. Absolutely, So, Hispanics or LatinX are the first or second or largest, fastest-growing minority in the United States, and they make up about 18% of the total population, even more so than, for example, African Americans. But in general, our aging population is diversifying more and more. So we have elderly that have different needs from say, the majority population, the white population, and their caregivers also care differently from, say the mainstream caregiving population.

0:29:28:09 Pamela D Wilson: And so compared to all caregiving households, the Hispanic population, as you mentioned, they tend to have a higher rate of caregivers living with care receivers. Why is that?

0:29:40:31 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe: Right, exactly. So, I think that part of it has to do with this culture that is known as collectivist culture, mostly familistic culture where the needs of the group are more important than the needs of individuals. So historically, Hispanics in general hold multi-generational households, and they’re used to—children are used to hanging out with their grandparents and maybe with an uncle, etc. and that that is conducive—not always—but it’s conducive to providing caregiving across generations in an easier way than in cultures where individualism may be more valued or revered or the custom.

0:30:37:38 Pamela D Wilson: And you mentioned that Hispanics care differently, and I’m going to give you just a personal example. So, one of my best friends, her family, was from Mexico. I’m going to visit her next week, and she said, “well, you know I go to take care of my dad every day,” and I’m like, “that’s no problem. I’ll meet you at your dad’s house.” So can you talk about how they maybe approach caregiving differently?

0:30:58:63 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe: Yes, absolutely. So it’s interesting because in some ways, there are stereotypes about how we think Hispanics care [chuckle], and in other senses, it’s true, and then I also want to highlight the fact that Hispanics come from over twenty countries. Right? You know, so think about the background of an Argentinian versus the background of a Dominican and then think about their immigration path and their generational differences, right? So it’s definitely not a monolithic group by any means. But there are some commonalities, right, in the way that they care. And in fact, what is interesting is that unlike what some people think—although Hispanics feel the need, like this kind of moral/religious in some cases need to care for their elderly and their frail family members.

0:30:58:63 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe: The fact of the matter remains that their support networks are a lot weaker than we think they are. So what ends up happening is that many times there’s only like one primary caregiver that is overburdened but actually does feel ashamed to even say that they are. And in fact, in Spanish, the word burden does not exist. [chuckle] So how do you know, express something that, you know, where the dictionary is not helping. Right? The more similar word to burden is load or like heavy load, and nobody wants to describe caring for their mom like they’re heavy {chucke]. Right, so that’s not—so there’s a cultural imperative that’s a no-no. You can’t really like complain that you’re taking care of your family members, and there’s no word for it either. [chuckle]

0:33:13:66 Pamela D Wilson: So then, we have this gap about these support networks and the caregiver not wanting to say it’s a heavy load. What do the caregivers do then? How do they, how do they get help from the healthcare system or communicate to get the help that they need?

0:33:31:65 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe: That’s a wonderful question, and one of the projects that I’m working on right now is to also look at caregivers in different geographical context, right? Because imagine that it’s not the same, that the access to resources and availability is not the same, say in a metropolitan area that has a large Hispanic enclave versus living maybe in a rural place where maybe you are one of four Hispanic families in the entire place. That might feel a lot more isolated. But in general, it is—the literature suggests that in general, just like all caregivers really that Hispanics do not really reach out to support systems that much.

0:34:28:26 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe:  You know, sometimes it might be because they believe that they are not useful to them. That there are some cultural barriers, language barriers. However, I do want to highlight the fact that I’m working on another project in the state of Connecticut, and there are some programs that are targeted, and that can work really well too, so even though at the aggregate level, minorities sometimes underutilize the supportive services, there are some that work and that actually have high levels of satisfaction. So we shouldn’t give up. [chuckle]

0:35:10:56 Pamela D Wilson: Well, and you made me think of something. I am an avid follower of yours. I read your research, and I may have read this in your research. So it said that it talked about people that live in rural communities, to your point may be insulated or may not trust people who are outside of their community.

0:34:28:26 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe: Correct.

0:35:31:95 Pamela D Wilson:  So how do those of us who are trying to reach caregivers, like I try to talk to them and educate them—how do I reach people who may not even trust me?

0:35:36:69 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe: That is such a wonderful question. And I think that the outreach is very important when you do it—when you are reaching out to the family in question. So right, not the caregiver or the care recipient who might actually have differences of opinions [chuckle] for sure, right? As to what they need and how to approach it. Right? But given that these are familistic—some, right? Because you’ve got to be careful, right? So there’s also the assimilation issue whereby, especially if Hispanics have been here for five generations, their behavior patterns might be more similar to non-Hispanics. Right?

0:36:25:97 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe:  So we’ve got to be careful there. But I, going back to your fantastic question, it is very important that the outreach happens at the family level so that everybody is on the same page. And then the people that are reaching out also are more aware of the needs of that family. Right, so that maybe, because you don’t want them to assume that they know what the needs of the family are because they are Hispanic. Because they again, what does it mean to be Hispanic, right? So it’s important to be careful when you’re reaching out but that you don’t do it at the individual level.

0:37:05:14 Pamela D Wilson:  So to kind of be inclusive, if what I’m hearing—and talk about how maybe caregiving affects the whole family versus making it to your point like mom is a heavy burden.

0:37:17:87 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe: Exactly, absolutely and sometimes—or always actually—the relationship between the caregiver and the care recipient matters. So, of course, whether they’re getting along or not, but I mean more like, it is the spouse or is it the child, right, who is caring? Or is this person, does this person identify as a male or a female, right? Because there are some important differences in how you would approach these types of relationships and people as well.

0:37:56:75 Pamela D Wilson:  And so in the approach,  you know a lot of us use the word help, and caregivers see help as like a bad word because nobody wants to say, well gosh, I need help. So how do we reframe this whole conversation so that it’s more acceptable and inclusive and people don’t feel as if we have motives, and you know—they shouldn’t trust us.

0:38:19:47 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe: Yes, oh fantastic question. Another good one. [chucke]. All of your questions are awesome. So this is really important because what we found, and again this is not necessarily only applies to Hispanics. Is that when we reach out to caregivers that all of their answers mostly focus on the needs of the care recipient, right? And at the very bottom of the list, they talk about what they need either to become better caregivers or to increase their well-being as such, right? And so I think like you said, the word help, right? Is—can be loaded [chuckle] and complicated, right? But I think that if you, if we were to frame it as still emphasize that, I guess the primary, um you know protagonist here, is still the care recipient but that it is a dual relationship, right?

0:39:35:21 Dr. Monika Lopez-Anuarbe: You know how can we help them, and how can we help you and how that feeds on each other, right? Because there are benefits of caregiving as well. Right? So it’s not like—sometimes the word care recipient. It’s almost like they’re a receptacle [chuckle], and it’s a one-way street, and that’s not necessarily true. We even see it in intense caregiving, such as, say, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, right? Which is, uh, which can be a lot more taxing or involved in some ways. But yes, just kind of um, marketing—that’s a horrible word—um, let’s see what the word would be. Just basically doing it in such a way that we look at it as a unit, right? At least either as a diad, or more hopefully, it’s larger than two people, right? And focus on their needs is a really good way and the more proactive way than the word help. Because help sounds kind of top to bottom. It’s a little bit passive. But if you make it more proactive, it can be a lot more effective, absolutely.

0:40:53:76 Pamela D Wilson: Well, and thank you for bringing that up because I will have so many caregivers who say it’s all about my parent or the person I’m taking care of—it should not be about me and that—sometimes that doesn’t work out. [chuckle]

0:41:07:48 Dr. Monika Lipez-Anuarge: That is so true, absolute;u and in the case of Hispanics in particular, which is what I know a little bit more about is—that even the word caregiver is not [chuckle] that popular, right? Yah, yah, I know. We’re seeing a lot of shortcomings in the Spanish language in this area anyway. In others, it’s very, very rich. But, yes, but it’s more like, “ well, it’s what I do like, isn’t that what I do as a relative? “ So it’s more like, “I’m a relative that does this and, but I don’t have like a title so. But when you say caregiver, it makes it very formal, and so imagine if there’s no word, then there is not even the, the idea of my needs. Because I don’t even have a role. It’s like I’m just a relative, so why would I even have rights and needs?

0:42:03:92 Pamela D Wilson: [chuckle] God bless you. It’s like your research. Your insights are so important to this audience, I thank you so much for joining me today.

0:42:12:70 Absolutely. It’s always a pleasure, Pamela. Thank you as well.

0:42:17:78 Pamela D Wilson: Up next, more thoughts about caring for dad when mom isn’t around anymore. Share this week’s show and all of The Caring Generation podcasts with your family, friends, and colleagues. You can find the Caring Generation on all of your favorite podcast and music apps: Apple, Google, I Heart Radio, JioSaavn, Spreaker, Amazon Music, Breaker, Deezer, Listen Notes, Pandora, Player FM, Pocket Casts, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Stitcher, Spotify, Tune In and Vurbl. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and consultant on The Caring Generation.  Stay with me. I’ll be right back.


0:43:23:08 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and consultant on The Caring Generation. If you are an aging adult or a caregiver not sure what to do or how to plan for care, my website offers resources for caregivers. Check out my caregiving library, my Caring for Aging Parents caregiver blog, listen to all of The Caring Generation podcasts, read the show transcripts, watch videos on my YouTube channel, register for my online webinar caregiver courses, or join my caregiver group on Facebook—it’s called The Caregiving Trap. There’s something for everyone at

0:44:03:33 Pamela D Wilson: Understanding dad’s medical conditions and what makes the conditions better or worse is important to helping dad. Knowing the daily actions that dad can take to support good health and physical activity can help him re-establish a routine without mom. Learn about the medications dad takes and why. Helping elderly parents make decisions is something that children eventually do when health or home situations become complicated and exhausting for dad because he doesn’t have mom’s support anymore.

0:44:43:92 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s talk about socialization for dad. Elderly parents, when they age, become the center of each other’s universe, especially if driving a car is no longer practical. I remember laughing when my dad and my mom would watch soap operas every day. And even sometimes, they would arrange their shopping appointments around watching All My Children or another program because they were so hooked on the shows every day that they had to see what was going to happen.

0:45:17:58 Pamela D Wilson: If your parents don’t drive a car anymore, it means that they may not see friends or participate in social activities with other people. The research on maintaining or making new friendships in all stages of life is positive for health and well-being. A strange thing happens when spouses pass away. Depending on the friendships that a couple had, the surviving spouse may still be invited to couple events or may have to work to establish new single friendships. There also may be well-meaning friends who want to fix dad up.

0:45:57:41 Pamela D Wilson: If at all possible, talk about this with your parents while mom is still alive. I don’t know many spouses who would tell the surviving spouse to live alone and be without companionship or love. This can be an emotional topic for adult children caring for dad when mom isn’t around anymore. You may believe that your mom was the only woman for dad—and maybe she was at the time. But if dad can find a female companion to spend time with instead of being alone—assuming this woman has good intentions and isn’t what we call a gold digger—swallow your grief, your pride, or other feelings and encourage dad to be happy.

0:46:47:85 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s talk for a moment about care services like in-home caregivers, housekeepers, care managers, transportation services, assisted living communities, and memory care communities. These are also good topics to discuss when creating a family care plan. While elderly parents mostly want to stay at home, if the care needs become extensive—like 24/7 care and all night care—and mom or dad can’t be the caregiver, and you as the adult children can’t that caregiver, moving to a care community may be a reality. It may become a necessity.

0:47:28:26 Pamela D Wilson: Care communities are an area to investigate thoroughly when care situations begin when caring for dad when mom isn’t around anymore. Other options are using the advances in technology that are out there today. There are computer programs, apps, and other devices that can make caring for elderly parents less time-consuming and less demanding for the family. The willingness and interest of family members to investigate and learn about options is important. If you haven’t been a caregiver or if you have been a caregiver, but it’s been some time.

0:48:13:18 Pamela D Wilson: Maybe you took care of a sibling or a brother or sister, and it’s been five or six years, and now you’re caring for your parents. Many caregivers know that health and care situations can change overnight.  Mom experiencing a stroke could leave her completely paralyzed. A fall and hip fracture could mean that a parent can’t live at home anymore. It’s best to have a plan for unexpected situations by creating that family care plan that includes the caregiver.

0:48:40:25 Pamela D Wilson: in this case, also your father who is caring for mom—who may be that next person to need care. Let’s talk about care situations where dad is what I call hanging on to care for your mother. He may have a whole list of health problems, and you’re wondering how he continues to go on day after day. If this is the case, prepare yourself for the possibility of your father passing away quickly after your mother. I’ll share some information from a research study and paper by Dr. Felix Elwert and Dr. Nicholas A Christakis. It’s called The Effect of Widowhood on Mortality: the Causes of Death of Both Spouses.

0:49:24:72 Pamela D Wilson: According to this research, during the first three months after the death of a spouse, the death rate for the surviving spouse is anywhere between 30 and 90%. That’s high. This mortality rate is specific to elderly couples, and it’s called the widowhood effect. You may have heard stories of couples dying within hours or days of each other. The effects of caregiving responsibilities on dad and mom affect their health day in and day out. It affects the health of the caregiver.

0:49:57:86 Pamela D Wilson: When a spouse passes away, cancer, heart disease, or other infections can take the life of the surviving spouse. Also, the lack of a daily routine, social support, or reminders to take care of one’s health—from the sick spouse, this can also be called nagging. That disappears when the sick spouse dies first. Having this knowledge, adult children caring for mom or dad after the first parent passes away—should help you realize the importance of being attentive to extra care for for dad when mom isn’t around and helping dad build a new daily routine.

0:50:41:70 Pamela D Wilson: When you think about establishing new routines, you can relate this to other stages of life.  The routines of caregivers can be swept away and sometimes obliterated, leaving no similarity to your previous life. Because dad may be grieving mom, he may not see everything that you as a daughter or son caregiver is doing to provide care. In many instances, a daughter or a son feels guilty if you mention how caring for dad takes away from other parts of your life.

0:51:19:38 Pamela D Wilson: When you think about it—this thought pattern of not wanting to make others uncomfortable carries throughout life in many different forms. The high expectations that some caregivers put on themselves or allow elderly parents to place on the caregiver can feel like a burden for complaining or expressing concern. You don’t want to burden your parents with your feelings or with the changes that are happening within your life.  But, when caring for dad when mom isn’t around anymore, or vice versa, you also, as that caregiver, may feel like you can’t do anything right.

0:51:59:18 Pamela D Wilson: On the other hand, if you are a young caregiver who has had to accept a lot of responsibility, you might be feeling like you have to do it all. That you don’t have anybody else that you can rely on—and you have to take on the world. Situations like this can transcend the idea of setting boundaries and move the caregiver into people-pleasing mode. As a caregiver, you might be so concerned about disagreeing or upsetting mom or dad that you bite your tongue and internalize the stress. You then become sick.

0:52:38:87 Pamela D Wilson:  If you’d like to learn more about the experiences and interests of other caregivers, follow me on social media. Many of my posts and the videos I create respond to caregivers who complete the caregiver survey on my website. Go to Contact Me, click down to the caregiver survey, and you can find it there. On Facebook, follow me at @pameladwilsoncaregivingexpert, where you can join my online caregiver support group, The Caregiving Trap. Follow me on Twitter @caregivingspeak, Instagram @wilsonpamelad, and Linked In pameladwilsoncaregiverexpert. I’m Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker on The Caring Generation. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.


0:53:48:66 Pamela D Wilson:  This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving speaker, author, and expert on The Caring Generation. Are you struggling to balance work and caregiving responsibilities? Does your company or group offer caregiver support programs or caregiver education? If not, share my website with the human resources manager or decision-maker in your company. I’ll be happy to talk with them. Let’s return to caring for dad when mom isn’t around anymore.

0:54:21:23 Pamela D Wilson:  In all family care situations, talking about the existing situation, the choices, decisions to be made, and the unknown can help minimize feelings of frustration or worrying that anything you say will make dad, mom, or another family member uncomfortable. Talking about caregiving, health, aging, and family issues are uncomfortable topics. The best way to get comfortable being uncomfortable is to speak openly about concerns factually and positively.

0:55:01:21 Pamela D Wilson: If you need help with this, I help caregiving families have these conversations. When health issues and care needs take on a life of their own as they often do, aging parents and caregivers can feel that life is spiraling out of control. Having a family meeting or a group consultation can reinforce the importance of communicating concerns and validate feelings of uncertainty. Caregiving is an unknown. How health issues will continue to proceed is an unknown.

0:55:45:19 Pamela D Wilson: It’s difficult to predict if you don’t have the experience what might happen 6 or 12 months from now or what you as a family might need to plan for. When creating a family care plan, there are many moving parts. If you’ve been doing this for a while, you know that making one decision can result in more work and more decisions to be made. You don’t have to do this alone. I’ve been where you are as a caregiver for my aging parents and working with clients and caregiving families for more than 20 years after my family experience. There are few situations that caregivers experience that I have not experienced with my clients. Whatever your situation, I can help.

0:56:27:98 Pamela D Wilson: Pamela D Wilson: Thank you everyone for joining me the week on The Caring Generation – the only program of its kind connecting caregivers and aging adults worldwide to talk about caregiving, health, and everything in between. Invite your family and friends to listen each week. This is am Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker. I look forward to being with you again soon. God bless you all. Sleep well tonight. Have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are here together again.

0:57:00:63 Announcer: Tune in each week for 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.


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About Pamela Wilson

PAMELA D. WILSON, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA helps caregivers and aging adults solve caregiving problems and manage caregiving needs through online programs, live support groups, and an extensive caregiving library that includes articles, podcasts, videos, and webinars.

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