Family Caregiver Education
The Caring Generation ® – Episode 40 May 27, 2020. On this caregiving radio program Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert talks about Family Caregiver Training and Caregiving Courses. Guest. Dr. Stephanie Christianson, from the University of California San Francisco shares tips for managing COPD and talks about ongoing research.
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Caregiver Training for Family Caregivers Radio Show Transcript
00:04 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. You’re listening to 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 humor and laughter that are essential to being a caregiver. On this caregiving radio program, we’ll be talking about family caregiver education, and the benefit of participating in caregiving courses, like the course that I have called, Taking Care of Elderly Parents Stay at Home and Beyond. We’ll talk about family caregiver education and caregiving courses from the perspectives of corporations, which in my opinion, should support working caregivers.
01:41 Pamela D. Wilson: And we’ll talk about family caregiver education based on experiences that caregivers are sharing with me that can be easier if caregivers recognize that caregiver support exists—and the significant difference it can make in their lives and in the lives of elderly parents. The subject of family caregiver education, and caregiving courses, in my opinion, is that missing link in corporate employee health and wellness programs. Fear about being diagnosed with the coronavirus has brought a lot of attention, in my opinion, and greater awareness of the challenges faced by adult children who are caring for aging parents and also spousal caregivers. I’ll share some concerns from caregivers that the coronavirus has raised, and we will talk about solutions for family caregiver education and caregiving courses.
02:35 Pamela D. Wilson: Adults diagnosed with breathing concerns like asthma, bronchitis, and COPD are more susceptible to the coronavirus as well as adults with one or more chronic diseases. Our guest for this program is Dr. Stephanie Christianson, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She is an attending physician in the critical care unit and adult pulmonary clinic, a breathing clinic. Her research focuses on COPD and identifying therapies for treatment. If you are a caregiver for a loved one who is diagnosed with COPD, you’re well aware of the struggles that your loved one has to breathe, all of the coughing, the mucus, and the phlegm associated with COPD. You want to hear this interview with Dr. Christianson. Let’s return to the idea of juggling work and caregiving by looking at corporations and programs.
03:34 Pamela D. Wilson: Companies, many companies, are so unaware that they even have a caregiving problem. But I’m thinking that they’re going to become more aware of caregiving as an issue as employees start to return to the workplace after many of these stay-at-home orders for the coronavirus start to ease. Few companies who offer corporate employee health and wellness programs realize that the missing link to make these programs relevant to employees is family caregiver education. Because the goal of health and wellness programs is to reduce health insurance costs and use. Programs offered through corporate employee wellness programs include physical activity, stress management, smoking cessation, alcohol or drug use programs, weight management, maternity leave, they do health screenings and chronic disease management.
04:29 Pamela D. Wilson: But how many of your companies offer employee wellness programs for caregivers? The question that I always ask is if companies offer maternity leave and support employees raising families, why don’t companies offer family caregiver education for working caregivers—for all of these adult children caring for elderly parents and spouses caring for spouses. Offering support for family caregivers. It seems like such a simple idea, but it’s not. Family caregiver education and caregiving courses are missing from these companies. Do you wonder why? Part of the issue begins with the definition of caregiver. A lot of adult children see themselves as helping elderly parents. The word caregiver rarely comes into their thought process or conversations until the healthcare system becomes involved and begins calling adult children by the term caregiver.
05:28 Pamela D. Wilson: Things like picking up groceries or prescriptions aren’t really thought to fall into that category of being a caregiver. I did this and more for my elderly parents. I didn’t think I was a caregiver. I had no idea. If you don’t realize that you are a caregiver, you certainly would never think about family caregiver education, or taking a caregiving course or asking your workplace for help. If you don’t identify with being a caregiver, you have no idea what’s involved in the role of being a caregiver until, of course, you face unexpected situations. It’s not until a health disaster happens with elderly parents, like a heart attack, a broken hip or a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia, or not until the coronavirus when adult children worry about elderly parents with chronic diseases getting the virus, do we ever begin to talk about caregiving.
06:17 Pamela D. Wilson: You never think about being a caregiver until the coronavirus. When adult children are asking me whether they should take their elderly parents out of nursing homes. You might not relate being a caregiver to the idea of understanding what a ventilator is or why an elderly parent may be placed on a ventilator and the consequences. Family caregiver education and taking a caregiving course can reduce all of these fears associated with being a caregiver, plus that responsibility of making healthcare and ongoing decisions. How do family caregivers manage the activities and the stress of caring for elderly parents and spouses, while having a full-time career? Family caregiving education and caregiving courses are the solution. The majority of helpers or caregivers hide caregiving responsibilities from the workplace. Concerns exist, according to research, about being perceived as less committed or less capable because of that personal responsibility of caring for an elderly parent and all of the uncertainty involved in planning.
07:21 Pamela D. Wilson: Even today, caregiving is viewed as a family responsibility. The workplace hasn’t come along far enough to recognize employee caregivers and the effect of caregiver responsibilities and stress in the workplace. Caregivers feel the stress. They worry about coming in late, leaving early or taking time off to care for elderly parents, to attend doctor appointments or medical treatments. How many caregivers tell the workplace that these are their appointments so that supervisors don’t realize that they are caring for elderly parents? The other impact of being a caregiver in the workplace is the level of mental distraction. If you’re a caregiver, you know this. Entire days can be worried away by caregivers concerned about medical issues of elderly parents, family disagreements about care, money to pay for care, safety issues of elderly parents who refuse care, phone calls to doctors’ offices to coordinate care and all of these other unexpected problems that we face. Caregiving is an unexpected experience. We never plan to be a caregiver for an elderly parent until something happens.
08:31 Pamela D. Wilson: And this virus has placed a lot of additional worry and a lot of additional stress on caregivers who are—some people have brought parents into their homes. Now they’re having to put them back into communities because they’re going back to work. It’s difficult. Up next, Dr. Stephanie Christianson, Assistant Professor of Medicine at University California San Francisco, joins us to talk about COPD and all of the struggles associated with that. Help for caregivers and aging adults is on my website at PamelaDWilson.com and in my Caring for Aging Parents Caregiving blog. This is Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
11:33 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio show for caregivers, live from the BBM Global Network channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. With us is Dr. Stephanie Christianson, Dr. Christianson, thank you for joining us.
11:48 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: Yeah, it’s my pleasure.
11:50 Pamela D. Wilson: So smoking is a known factor for a diagnosis of COPD, yet not everyone who smokes is diagnosed with COPD. Do we know why?
12:01 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: That is a million-dollar question. [chuckle] So we don’t really understand that question. I will say that the flip side, what we would call resilience, meaning that you don’t get disease even though you smoke a lot is something that is being actively studied. But what we know is, about this is that we know that certainly, the more you smoke, the longer you smoke, the more likely you are to get COPD.
12:30 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: And we also know that it mostly affects older adults. So you might start feeling the symptoms or get a diagnosis as you get older, so 50, 60, 70s. We know genetics play at least a small role. In certain patients, it may play a large role, although that’s pretty rare. So, it seems to be kind of a mix of what we would say environmental factors. Like smoking or air pollution or being around people who smoke and genetic factors. So kind of things that you’re born with. So a little bit of both as to why. We also actually would say that COPD is really under-diagnosed and that a lot of people, if you ask them, “Do you have symptoms? Do you cough, do you get short of breath?” We would actually probably be diagnosing a lot more COPD. So, I think smoking is probably affecting a lot more people than we think it is.
13:35 Pamela D. Wilson: So what are some of the signs that somebody might notice if they even have a breathing issue or would suspect that they should go see a doctor and have COPD checked out as a possible diagnosis?
13:47 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I think one thing that people don’t notice is that it or the reason people sometimes don’t notice is that it kind of comes on slowly. So they may start noticing that they are—it’s harder to walk up hills or harder to exercise, and that might progress over months and so, sometimes they may not even, somebody, sometimes a family member may say, “Hey, it’s, I saw you a few months ago and it seems like you’re finding it harder to breathe now or it’s maybe you should go get that checked out.” So that is, that it can be a slow onset. But I would say when you’re walking up hills or exercising, that’s kind of a that’s what usually comes on first as far as finding it more difficult to catch your breath. Other things that can happen is just your, you can’t do as many activities as you’d like to do because your breathing is limited or you’re coughing a lot.
14:51 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: So some people have a lot of cough, and some people don’t have any cough who have COPD. It’s a really heterogeneous disease, But those are kind of the more common things that I would say happen is that you’re breathing feels worse. That you are functionally more limited. Meaning you can’t do as many activities as you’d like to do because it feels like you can’t maintain your ability to breathe or that you’re coughing a lot, and it’s kind of coughing over longer periods of time, so more like months.
15:21 Pamela D. Wilson: So you made me think of a question, is it a chest X-ray?
15:25 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: Yeah.
15:26 Pamela D. Wilson: diagnoses COPD? So it’s that simple?
15:31 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: Well, so it’s not that simple. Although it is still pretty simple. I will say, a lot of doctors will sometimes treat you like you have COPD even if you—if they don’t have an absolute diagnosis. So, to actually do get a diagnosis of COPD, we have to do something called pulmonary function test or lung function test. Where we actually have you breathe into a machine, and we’re trying to see if it’s hard for you to get the air back out. So that’s the chronic obstructive part of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, meaning the air is obstructed in your airway, so it’s hard to breathe in, and it’s harder to breathe out. So that’s how we diagnose it, is using lung function test. But sometimes doctors, if they know that you’ve had a history of smoking or have been around a lot of smoke, they may try to treat you with a medication to see if it makes you feel better before even getting those tests.
16:31 Pamela D. Wilson: My brother-in-law has COPD, and there’ll be times where all of a sudden, he has more problems breathing, and he gets really panicky. What might cause that?
16:41 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: Yeah, so also a good question. Actually exacerbations, so exacerbations are—I think the definition of them—they’re kind of hard to explain. So they’re actually just if you have COPD that all of a sudden your symptoms seem worse than just how you—I guess just how you explained it. That they’re worse than your normal variation and your ebb and flow of your symptoms. But that can be caused, triggered by several different things. So, air pollution can do it. So actually, when, I live in California. So when we got the wildfires, that can do it. Viruses, so coronavirus could do this, but so could other viruses. So just the common colds that we see could do this, and other infections, so pneumonias or other infections in your airway. So usually, we think either infection or some sort of irritant, like smoke or depending on the patient, sometimes even heavy perfumes or heavy cleaning supplies could trigger something, although I would say the most common would usually be infections.
18:05 Pamela D. Wilson: And do you think anxiety has anything to do with it? If people are anxious, does that make it worse?
18:11 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: Oh, I think that the lungs and the brain are very connected. So if you think about it, if it’s difficult to breathe, it’s going to make you more anxious, and if you get more anxious, you may not take as deep breaths. So there can be a bit of a vicious cycle. And I think people don’t, people very much underestimate the role of anxiety and depression in COPD. It actually affects a lot of our patients, so and it can definitely make your symptoms a lot worse. And it’s something that, as a pulmonologist or a lung doctor, I’m always looking out for—do you have symptoms of anxiety or depression that could make your breathing worse, and it could easily do that.
19:02 Pamela D. Wilson: And Dr. Christianson, we’ve got to head out to a break. So, listeners, we will be back with Dr. Christianson. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation Live on the BBM Global Network channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with us. We’ll be right back.
21:39 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I’m your host, you’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. We’ll continue our conversation with Dr. Christianson. So doctor, for people who are caring for a loved one with COPD and the person is having a lot of mucus, what do you recommend?
22:03 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: Yeah, that’s a really great question. I think that there is a subset of patients, so actually, like I said, I think I said this earlier that COPD is really heterogeneous, and it doesn’t affect everybody in the same way, and so some people get very breathless. Some people have a lot of cough and get a lot of mucus. And I think that there are several things that you can do. So usually for my patients who have a lot of mucus, I may, I will certainly evaluate them and see, do I have you on the right medications? So usually I’m looking at different inhalers, and do I have you on the appropriate inhalers? And do I, are you using those inhalers correctly? And so, it’s important that you’re working with your physician to try to make sure that you are using those medications correctly because that actually can really affect your symptoms. It may be that you have a lot of mucus for a different reason.
23:06 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: So there are some other issues that can compound COPD. So bronchitis, which is a scarring of the lungs. So I might, if you have really severe mucus, I might go looking for some of those things because then other modalities that help bring the mucus out, so we have little breathing machines that can help bring those—bring the mucus out of the airways because they can get stuck down there. We may have you use some of those things. But the kind of the mainstay of this would be to try to figure out, do we have your COPD under control, and what kind of therapies can we get you on to help you with that?
23:54 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s talk about your research that involves COPD and the genome. Can you explain to us laypeople in very simple terms, how that research is relating to identifying different treatment strategies?
24:07 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: Yeah, sure, so I think really, the genome is just a buzzword for how does your biology—how is your biology different from somebody else’s biology? So when I look, I’ll take, I’ll look at airway samples where we’ll take samples of maybe your mucus or the lining of your airways with a simple brush, and I’ll actually look and see, “Okay, well, can I identify in you, something that makes you a little different than somebody else with COPD?” So some patients have different types of inflammation, and that may actually mean that they’re going to respond better to specific therapies. So, as we’ve been talking about these coronavirus treatments and or is anybody going to respond to a specific treatment, if you can think about like, “Well, what’s the biology?” And we want to target a specific type of biology to make sure that somebody is going to respond and so that’s why all these trials are going on. Well, we think of the same thing in these COPD patients where actually there’s like I said, they’re very complex, so not everybody’s going to have the same treatment response. So can we actually identify the type of biology that you have that might make you more likely to respond to a specific type of treatment.
25:31 Pamela D. Wilson: And you mentioned trials, so are there clinical trials that people can get involved in?
25:38 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: So there are often clinical trials of some of the different inhaler therapies, or depending on they’re starting to think about moving some of the medications from asthma. The biologics that people take as in either shot form or via IV. They’re starting to look at some of those in COPD. I’m not so sure how well they’re going to work. But I think, so there are trials. But I think the first thing to do is, the mainstay, is to make sure that all your medications are appropriate and that you’re also getting the appropriate exercise, appropriate therapies to get your physical activity up.
26:24 Pamela D. Wilson: And you mentioned asthma, does COPD coexist with other chronic diseases that complicate it?
26:31 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: Absolutely. In fact, if you think of a patient who’s got COPD and not everybody’s a smoker, but most people, smokers tend to have a lot of comorbidities and so cardiovascular disease, or like heart disease, or disease of the veins, that can certainly be an issue. That’s usually the most common. Lung cancer is very common, which is also caused by smoking, depression, anxiety. As you were alluding to anxiety being potentially an issue for symptoms. Those are very common, and so are things like asthma. So if you have a history of asthma, you’re more likely to get COPD if you smoke. So as a pulmonologist, I’m thinking through all of these different comorbidities, or different other diseases, to make sure that we’re trying to come up with a treatment plan that is appropriate for you in the context of some of these other issues.
27:30 Pamela D. Wilson: And we’ve got about two minutes left. You mentioned exercise, if I was having breathing problems, I would be scared to death to exercise. What type of exercise is recommended for people with COPD?
27:40 Dr. Stephanie Christianson: That is a good question. So exercise and potentially, if your COPD is severe enough, we have you do exercise. In a rehabilitation sort of setting, and we call it pulmonary rehab. Just like there’s cardiac rehab, where we actually monitor you while you exercise. Now, if you don’t have severe enough COPD that you need to be monitored, exercises is still like, super, super important. Because if you think about some of the destruction of the lungs, some of the—if the lung tissue has been destroyed. We can’t get a lot of that back. But if you build up the rest of the muscles around your chest, that can actually help you breathe a lot. So you want to keep those muscles as active as possible. So, pulmonary rehab for the severe patients, but just really any exercise for your less severe patients. So walking, running, cycling, anything that you can do, the more you can do the better.
28:47 Pamela D. Wilson: Wonderful. Dr. Christianson, I thank you so much for joining us. Listeners this podcast will be available in about a week if you have family members that you would like to share this with. This is Pamela D. Wilson, your host you’re listening to The Caring Generation live on the BBM global network channel 100 and TuneIn radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back after this break.
31:25 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM global network channel 100 and TuneIn radio. We’re back to talk about being a working caregiver tied to the idea of corporate employee wellness programs. Many working caregivers tell me that they are distracted, unprepared, and when they have caregiving issues, they feel that life is just out of control. The sense of dis-ease affects workplace relationships. I know this from personal experience. When my parents were alive. I got the phone calls at work about medical emergencies. There were late nights at the hospital emergency room well into the night, and I went to work the next morning like nothing happened. Thank heavens, I was young I was in my 20s at the time. I don’t know how many of you remember being in your 20s, but we didn’t need a lot of sleep back then.
32:20 Pamela D. Wilson: But back then, I didn’t realize I was a caregiver, and I certainly didn’t know about family caregiver education and caregiving courses. I wish I did. I was so naive. I didn’t know what questions I should be asking the doctors or the healthcare system. Or really, even that I should be asking questions. My brothers and sisters—one of my sisters was even a nurse. We didn’t have any idea how to navigate the healthcare system for my parents. But those were the years when nobody talked about being a caregiver. We’ve advanced a little bit today in talking about caregiving, but not as far as we should. Because I have been in the world of caregiving for 20 years, I know how family caregiver education and caregiving courses can really help minimize these unexpected crises, and what I call caregiving disruptions. But, caregivers have to be able to see beyond the immediate problems to make time to learn, because they are always so busy. And in my opinion, this is where corporations can come in. They can support caregivers who are working, who are stressed and exhausted. Working caregivers spend most of their days or nights at work, and then they go to the home of the elderly parent, they work another 20 or more hours a week in that role of being a caregiver.
33:38 Pamela D. Wilson: So if human resource departments would tie or link health and wellness programs to all the stress that caregivers face, and all the negative effects on the workplace, lost productivity, absenteeism, losing good employees, maybe corporations will start to realize that their goal of wellness and health education is really a perfect match for family caregiver education. I’ve never had a single employee tell me that they are happy about not doing a good job at work. Employee caregivers want to do a good job. Most, though, are afraid to tell their bosses that they are a caregiver, for fear of being discriminated. But if corporations would talk about and offer caregiving programs, those discussions would be such a relief for working caregivers. Can you imagine being able to talk about caring for your elderly parents like you talk about your children at work? Wouldn’t that be amazing? Picture this. Corporations realize that about one in three of their employees is a working caregiver for an elderly parent.
34:37 Pamela D. Wilson: They start talking about caregiving so that the employees in their group—who believe that they are just helpers—come out of the woodwork. They realize that they’re caregivers, and then imagine this. The companies take another step, and they offer general programs about the stages of caregiving, about what caregivers should expect. And then, the employees who are interested can participate in those family education and caregiving courses sponsored by the company. That, of course, is a perfect world situation that should exist in all companies, in my opinion.
35:12 Pamela D. Wilson: Family caregiver education and caregiving courses can benefit all caregivers, but not every caregiver is going to be interested. If your family didn’t stress the importance of education, you might not be able to imagine why family caregiver education, or taking a course could be helpful for you. My parents didn’t talk to me about education or school. But fortunately, my older sister Becky, told me to make sure that I went to college. She was killed in a car accident when I was 17 during my last year of high school. So she never got to see that I did follow through on her advice, and I graduated from college twice, my undergraduate and my master’s degree. Participating in these family caregiver education programs and caregiving courses are for caregivers who want to increase their knowledge and increase their experience to make it easier to care for elderly parents. Because caregiver education is good for everybody, including elderly parents.
36:07 Pamela D. Wilson: Family caregiver education and caregiving courses help people who are willing to look at habits and behaviors, and possible changes to different care situations. As caregivers, we know this. We can develop insight to realize that we may not be able to change our elderly parents, or many conditions in life. But, if we are willing to learn, we can realize that we can change our behaviors and the way that we respond to our elderly parents and situations, and by that, we can improve aspects of caregiving situations. Through the experience of family caregiver education, and participating in these courses, we can learn to advocate for elderly parents, to ask questions of the medical system, and to stand up for the care that our parents deserve. These are all very positive aspects of family caregiver education programs. In my experience, the caregivers who aren’t interested, they’re burned out, and this happens because they wait too long to get help, or sometimes they don’t realize that they are a caregiver. That courses or support exists—and burned out caregivers can have closed minds. They don’t want to consider anything new, or take any new efforts, because, honestly, they’re barely making it through the day.
37:24 Pamela D. Wilson: They might be having an emotional meltdown, and they just cannot take on one more idea. But these burned-out caregivers in the workplace are the ones who become negative or toxic co-workers. There’s also a lot of other reasons for negative and toxic co-workers. Personal problems, financial problems, but, for caregivers in the workplace, negativity, poor work performance, they are likely to be the result of caregiver burnout and stress. Because about 30% of employees are caregivers. So if you’re experiencing burnout, today is the time for a serious talk about family caregiver education and caregiving courses to help you keep your job, because losing a job when you’re a caregiver, only more stress. I talk about this in The Caring Generation Podcast called How to Keep a Job and Care for Elderly Parents. Check that one out. Favorite podcasts for caregivers are on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com, click on the media tab, and then The Caring Generation Radio Program. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker, on The Caring Generation Live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me, we’ll be right back after this break.
40:49 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, this is The Caring Generation, coming to you live from 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, and everything in between. Share The Caring Generation with your elderly parents, brothers, sisters, and everyone that you know. We’re back talking about ways that family caregivers can minimize life, work, and personal disruptions that result from caring for elderly parents. I suspect that most of you know the interruptions that I’m talking about. But if you’re new to caregiving, let me share the list of things that caregivers share with me. Prescription refills and pick up. Making and supervising medical appointments—which are now mostly all online. Elderly parents need help using a computer to do that. Assessing health needs and conditions. Home safety is a concern.
41:45 Pamela D. Wilson: The idea of having an elderly parent fall and break a hip, it’s frightful. Making sure that elderly parents are taking their medications. Managing caregiver stress and finding time for self-care to support physical health of the caregivers. It’s a concern. On this one, let me remind you, if your company does have an employee wellness program, start participating. Health is one of those opportunities. Chronic disease and a lack of physical activity are likely two reasons that your elderly parents need help. In my family caregiver education programs and caregiving courses, I talk a lot about chronic disease and how diseases of the elderly increase the time that you spend in caregiving. Your workplace might already offer employee wellness programs for you to manage chronic disease, in addition to health screening, so that you know your numbers, and I don’t mean your one, two, threes. Your numbers for height, weight, body mass, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides. These are all critical numbers that can help you avoid being diagnosed with a chronic disease or catch that disease early before it gets worse.
42:50 Pamela D. Wilson: Statistics show that only 60% of employees realize that their companies have wellness programs. That’s amazing to me. If you don’t know, start asking your human resources department. You might have some health benefits that you don’t know about. Now, back to that list. Groceries and errands. Providing transportation to doctor appointments. Managing money and helping elderly parents pay bills. Many adult children caregivers contribute from their paychecks to the care of elderly parents. You’re also making medical and care decisions. Providing meals, arranging or supervising paid services, managing insulin, taking blood sugar, catheter care, making legal decisions for care, all of these subjects and more are in family caregiver education programs and caregiving courses. The family caregiver education series that I recently updated, it’s called Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home and Beyond, has eight modules about taking care of elderly parents, and it begins with a course called Managing Emotions, Family Relationships and Elderly Parents who Refuse Care. Which initially can be a lot of elderly parents because they want to remain independent. They don’t want to have us children taking over their lives.
44:02 Pamela D. Wilson: We all know that family relationships can be a problematic part of caregiving, that cause a lot of emotional distress for us as caregivers and believe it or not, emotional distress for our aging parents who don’t want to have to admit that they need care. Module two of caregiving courses in the family caregiver education series is called Signs Elderly Parents Need Care: Creating Strategies and starting those conversations. This caregiving course module is all about how to identify health issues in elderly parents. What signs you should be looking for—how to navigate medical appointments. What questions you should be asking and also included is the idea of caregiving agreements, so that you gain the participation of elderly parents because you know my feelings about this. Caregiving participation really should be 50:50 between adult children caregivers and elderly parents to reduce stress for everybody involved.
45:01 Pamela D. Wilson: Third in that series of caregiving courses and modules is called Activities of Daily Living, the Effects of Aging on Physical Activity. Family caregiver education about the components of stabilizing the health and the physical ability of your elderly parents—especially for safety issues—is essential to help elderly parents stay at home and not move to that nursing home. There’s a lot more involved to helping elderly parents stay at home than the obvious. And this is partly why so many caregivers struggle. The goal of my family caregiver education and caregiving courses is to give caregivers a step by step roadmap of the system that I used when I was a care manager for my clients. I train caregivers to manage the care of elderly parents, and also to become more aware of how your health today will affect the care that you need or don’t need when you are older. Ask yourself if you’re passing down the responsibilities of taking care of you to your children to the next generation, or will you make a different choice. Caregiving isn’t a subject that we can ignore anymore, especially because of the coronavirus. It’s something to think about for future generations.
46:08 Pamela D. Wilson: The other family caregiver education module number four is called Home Safety for Seniors. In that, I talk about tips for home safety devices. How to have discussions with elderly parents who tell you that they don’t need to use that walker because it is for older people. People wonder why we caregivers are so stressed. It has to do with dealing with stubborn elderly parents who refuse care, this can be frustrating. It’s enough to drive us crazy. And if you need tips on that, you can check out The Caring Generation podcast. It is called My Mother is Driving Me Crazy. Great tips are on that podcast that talk about personality disorders and emotional triggers. Module five in my family caregiver education series is Stay Healthy: Daily Routines to Support Positive Care for Elderly Parents. Earlier, we were talking with Dr. Christianson about COPD and the importance of exercise. No matter what health condition you’re in that is so important to help elderly parents stay at home. And we create a care plan in this program. So it’s a document that caregivers can use that makes all aspects of managing care for elderly parents so much easier. Information that you take with you to doctor appointments to hospital emergency rooms if you have to.
47:23 Pamela D. Wilson: A lot of these day-to-day worries will lessen when you have all of this information at your fingertips. Memory Loss is module number six in my family caregiver education series. We talk about how to recognize early signs of memory loss. How to talk to parents about memory loss and create strategies to care for elderly parents when they can no longer care for themselves. And also how to support your healthy mom or dad if your sick mom or dad needs more care because every caregiver needs help and support especially parents who have dementia and especially now with the coronavirus when we are worried about bringing these viruses into the homes of our elderly parents or worried about placing them into care communities. We’re off to our last break. When we come back, I’ll share more solutions from my family caregiver education series called Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home and Beyond so that you can talk to your parents and your companies who may not have programs for caregivers and ask them for the program. I’m Pamela D. Wilson. This is The Caring Generation live from the BBM global network channel 100 and TuneIn radio stay with me, we’ll be right back.
51:44 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I’m your host, this is The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, live on the BBM global network channel 100 and TuneIn radio. Visit my website PamelaDWilson.com for the best podcasts for caregivers on The Caring Generation. We’re back to talk about staying at home and the cost of in-home care for the elderly. Paying for care for elderly parents is a significant worry for adult children and spousal caregivers. It can be an uncomfortable subject—but an important subject so that caregivers can plan for care and avoid surprises. The caregiving courses within my family caregiver education program focus on helping caregivers increase awareness of unexpected costs. Whether it is in-home care, care communities, nursing homes, daycare programs. The reality is caregivers want stability in caregiving situations. My caregiving courses offer proven steps that I use myself to manage care for the elderly and disabled and to minimize these disruptions.
52:45 Pamela D. Wilson: While caregivers are never really totally able to relieve all of the stress and the uncertainty, there are steps that can be taken to reduce that stress and that worry. Making caregiving situations easier and reducing stress does take time on the part of the caregiver, though, to advance your skills and learn new information. It might seem impossible, but it’s not. All you do is make a little time in your schedule at a consistent day and time every week, and you’ll be surprised at the progress you’ll make.
53:13 Pamela D. Wilson: There are other methods that caregivers can use to create a better work-life balance for caregivers. By becoming more aware today about what happens in the future. Aging, potential health issues, costs, the fact that you might need care from your children because of what you’re learning by caring for your elderly parents today. It’s all really helpful information. If you’re in this position, you’re already ahead of so many other people you know who one day will be shocked when they become a caregiver. As elderly parents begin needing more care, for you navigating the healthcare system, it’ll become more routine if you know what to expect.
53:51 Pamela D. Wilson: Family caregivers and elderly parents who need care have different goals. In the healthcare system, they operate from different standards of care, and that gap in expectations, it’s one of the leading causes of frustrations for caregivers. If you’re a caregiver and you’ve experienced this, you know, there are a lot of areas in dealing with the healthcare system that don’t go exactly as we expect. In Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home, and Beyond module eight, I take family caregivers through a deep dive into navigating care and coordinating and managing care with health care services for elderly parents. It’s an area where skills that you might use in the workplace might be helpful in managing care for elderly parents. More information about Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home, and Beyond is on my website at PamelaDWilson.com.
54:37 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregiving education, it’s essential to managing health concerns making good decisions and problem-solving. Ask your company what they are doing for working caregivers and give them information about my caregiving courses. As a single caregiver, you really can inspire and help other caregivers by sharing your experiences. By talking about caregiving in the workplace, you can let your employer know that supporting caregivers through family caregiver education and caregiving courses is essential. If you don’t speak up, it won’t happen. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. One in four people that you know are caregivers. They are looking for hope, help, and support that is here on The Caring Generation every Wednesday, on my website 24/7 at PamelaDWilson.com and in my caregiving courses. If you have ideas for future radio programs, visit my website PamelaDWilson.com, go to the contact page, and send me an email.
55:28 Pamela D. Wilson: Thank you for joining me on The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn radio. I am Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker. Join me on The Caring Generation next Wednesday evening. Invite your friends and family to join us. God bless you sleep well tonight have a fabulous day tomorrow, and a great week until we are together here again on the show next week.
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