How to Take Care of My Parents – The Caring Generation®
The Caring Generation® – Episode 81 April 14, 2021. On this podcast for caregivers, How to Take Care of My Parents, caregiving expert Pamela D Wilson discusses the life and health effects of being a caregiver and how chronic stress can negatively impact care for aging parents. Guest Dr. Anil Patil founder and executive director of Carers Worldwide shares issues faced by family caregivers in developing countries.
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How to Take Care of My Parents
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.
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0:00:37:54 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, eldercare consultant, and guardian of The Caring Generation. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring, giving us permission to talk about aging, the challenges of caregiving, and everything in between. It’s no surprise that needing care or becoming a caregiver changes everything. The Caring Generation is here to guide you along the journey to let you know that you’re not alone.
0:1:06:39 Pamela D Wilson: You’re in exactly the right place to share stories, learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead. Invite your loved ones, family, and friends to listen to the show each week. This week on the show we are answering the question of how to take care of my parents and manage the effects of being a caregiver related to physical and emotional stress experienced by the caregiver that to concerns with career, work, income, pursuing education, participating in social activities, family and friend relationships.
01:30:00 Pamela D Wilson: If you are a caregiver for an aging parent or a spouse, you may already be experiencing many of these unexpected effects of being a caregiver on your life. Let’s take a step back for a moment and talk about the positive effects of being a caregiver before we move into the challenging areas. Positives that result from how to take care of my parents include feeling appreciation—if the parent you care for says thank you every now and then.
02:00:00 Pamela D Wilson: Caregiving activities and time spent with aging parents can result in better family relationships IF the relationships are not strained from years of baggage or unresolved family issues. Even if relationships are poor, caregiving offers the opportunity to mend relationships before an aging parent passes away. Other positive effects of being a caregiver include learning resilience—which in simple terms means the ability to bounce back from difficult situations. It’s like falling down and getting back up again.
02:57:25 Pamela D Wilson: Caregivers can also experience positive self-esteem and self-worth and feel an amazing sense of accomplishment. Some of these feelings exist even in challenging caregiving situations when you feel like you are winning the battle in any area where you are doing your best. Our guest for this program will help bring a different perspective on the question of how to take care of my parents and the effects of being a caregiver.
03:27:98 Pamela D Wilson: Dr. Anil Patil joins us from Carers Worldwide, an organization established in 2012 in the United Kingdom to bring attention and tackle issues faced by family caregivers in developing countries like India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Partners supporting the organization have experiences in the fields of disability, mental illness, and chronic illness. You will meet Dr. Patil and learn more about his amazing work in the third segment of this program. Sharing the experiences of caregivers worldwide offers the opportunity to learn and to become more compassionate about all aspects of the effects of being a caregiver.
04:14:50 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s discuss how to take care of my parents by offering situations that describe why caregiving is physically and emotionally stressful. Caregivers experience many unpredictable events when aging parents begin to need care and eventually need more care and more assistance. Unpredictable events like a parent experiencing a fall, having a heart attack, being involved in a car accident, or learning about a new health diagnosis that will require more care and time.
04:50:90 Pamela D Wilson: Unexpected events result in feeling like the caregiver is on an up and down rollercoaster, never knowing what might happen next. Which—which of us doesn’t like a little normal in our lives every now and then? Or if we experience unexpected events, we’d like them to be happy events rather than stressful events. These day-to-day changes can result in feelings of a loss of control for the caregiver and the care receiver.
05:20:66 Pamela D Wilson: The caregiver feels that their life is constantly impacted by aging parents who need care and this need interrupts all aspects of their life. For example, work, a desire to go to school, attending social outings, relationships with friends, spouses, and children. Elderly parents feel their lives are out of control because of health issues that they have not learned to manage or because they become dependent on adult children for help.
05:48:73 Pamela D Wilson: This loss of control means that neither the caregiver nor the aging parent feels good about the day-to-day events. How to take care of my parents also means that caregivers can become hyper-vigilant. In simple terms worrying about what is going to happen next and reacting with anxiety, stress, or worry every time the phone rings because whatever it is, it’s going to be bad and one more thing that the caregiver has to do.
06:21:11 Pamela D Wilson: These stressful feelings translate to other feelings that caregivers don’t like to talk about in mixed company with people who are not caregivers. Who may not understand what the life of a caregiver is like. This includes siblings who don’t help out, aunts, uncles, and other family members, some friends. How to take care of my parents results in chronic stress. If you are not sure what this looks like—Dr. Hans Selye is known for the concept of general adaptation syndrome.
06:58:89 Pamela D Wilson: This syndrome describes the physiological changes the body goes through when under stress. These stages are alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. You are the caregiver. You are with your parent who falls down the steps. Your heart may start racing. Bating so fast you can hear the sound in your ears and feel it in your body. Your body feels a boost of adrenaline that increases your energy to run down the steps to check on mom or dad, race to the phone and call 911, and then offer comfort to your parent.
07:34:60 Pamela D Wilson: If you have heard the term fight-or-flight response—that means a state of alarm. Next in the three stages the body experiences when under stress is resistance. You calm down a little bit. Your heart stops racing. Your breathing rate returns to normal. You may feel irritable, frustrated, be unable to focus or concentrate. Maybe you feel angry, impatient, or resentful about that event that just happened unexpectedly.
08:09:73 Pamela D Wilson: This was going to be your night off from caring for mom or dad, and now you’re probably going to spend the next six hours at the hospital emergency room, get about three hours of sleep and go to work tomorrow. The exhaustion state of how to take care of my aging parents enters when caregivers feel burned out, depressed, anxious, and react more emotionally to stressors.
08:34:27 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s say that you are angry about having to be at the hospital emergency room with your parent for hours on hours. You need your sleep. You’re exhausted. You might feel guilty about the way that you feel because mom or dad broke a hip from the fall down the stairs. Or, if you are caring for a parent with dementia, you may believe that you should visit twice a day. Once on your way to work and once on your way home from work so that you can avoid some type of disaster happening like mom or dad forgetting to turn off the stove, take medications, or something else.
09:11:50 Pamela D Wilson: Caregivers have the best of intentions, but life gets in the way. Time is limited. You don’t know what you don’t know—life and unexpected events continue to happen. Guilt happens when we think we should have known some piece of information or done something differently. I kindly call these information gaps or learning gaps because I like to look at gaps as positive things. Gaps are learning opportunities when we realize we have a gap.
09:43:78 Pamela D Wilson: Unfortunately, since many adult children have never been a caregiver before there can be a lot of gaps that make caregivers feel powerless. More on the topic of how to take care of my parents after this break. Helpful tips, articles, my Caring for Aging Parents Blog, videos, podcasts, and online eldercare courses are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com, the place to help you and your family start thinking, talking, and planning for health, aging, caregiving, and everything in between.
10:16:47 Pamela D Wilson: If you are interested in talking to me about your care situation for advice, visit my website, click on How I Help. Next, the drop-down Family Caregiver Support, and you will see the page titled Elder Care Consultant. I’m Pamela D Wilson on the Caring Generation. Stay with me; I’ll be right back.
11:07:14 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson on The Caring Generation, the only program of its kind caring to make your life easier by tackling uncomfortable and intimidating discussions about aging, caregiving, and everything in between. If you want to avoid unintended consequences and unexpected caregiving issues—if you’re not sure what to do—maybe things aren’t working out as you expected— my online eldercare courses offer solutions and practical steps to fill those gaps for what you may not know for how to take care of my parents.
0:11:43:29 Pamela D Wilson: The A to Z of caregiving is in my online caregiver course called Stay at Home: Taking Care of Elderly Parents at Home and Beyond and the legal aspects of decision making for parents with cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s or dementia are in my course How to Get Guardianship of a Parent on my website. Both online eldercare courses are at PamelaDWilson.com.
0:12:10:42 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s continue with the idea of gaps for how to take care of my parents. We all have gaps that we can close by becoming more educated. The effects of being a caregiver that result from chronic stress can be manageable if –we are willing to look at how to take care of my parents differently. When I say differently, this means that you realize that the chronic stress you are experiencing is not making you the most caring or patient caregiver.
0:12:41:18 Pamela D Wilson: Maybe you feel resentment or anger at siblings who are not helping or because of something a parent said to you that made you feel unappreciated. Resentment is a normal response to the effects of caregiving on your job or career, challenges continuing your education, negative effects on your marriage or relationships with your children, and generally feeling that you are missing out on life because you feel chained to the role of being a caregiver.
0:13:11:85 Pamela D Wilson: While these feelings that result from how to take care of aging parents are valid, some cultures believe that caregiving is a duty that should not be questioned and IF there are issues, the caregiver would never – ever mention these concerns to a parent. Here is the gap in this thinking—the learning opportunity Know that I am not criticizing cultural beliefs but asking how chronic stress and these feeling contribute or take away good care for a parent.
0:13:46:86 Pamela D Wilson: It’s proven that healthy, happy caregivers do a better job of being attentive to aging parents. Exhausted, frustrated, angry, or resentful caregivers, even though they may be going through the motions of how to take care of an aging parent, may be less mentally attentive, less patient may make poor decisions, or unintentionally become distracted or forgetful, which results in unintentional harm to an aging parent.
0:14:15:53 Pamela D Wilson: If you have these feelings and the care situation will not change because of cultural beliefs – how will you reconcile these feelings? Would you consider seeing a mental health counselor, or is that not allowed because you would be talking to a stranger about your family relationships and feelings? Caregivers in these situations can become so isolated and depressed that they turn to alcohol, drugs or consider committing suicide.
0:14:45:53 Pamela D Wilson: If you are truly the only caregiver for a parent bound by responsibility—what happens to your parent when your physical or mental health declines so much that you decide to commit suicide and you can’t care for mom or dad anymore? A study based in the Netherlands by Karlijn Joling confirmed that caregivers experience suicidal thoughts more than non-caregivers. Chronic stressors related to how to take care of aging parents that increased thoughts of suicide include: poor physical health, poor mental health, a lack of social support, and being unemployed.
0:15:30:26 Pamela D Wilson: Caregivers without paid employment are more than twice as likely to contemplate suicide than employed caregivers. Caregivers in lower-income situations having difficulty managing had greater suicidal thoughts. Employment gives caregivers purpose, mental distractions, and a source of social support outside of the family in addition to income which can help pay for care for aging parents or pay for some type of support.
0:16:01:50 Pamela D Wilson: Suicidal thoughts also vary according to the condition requiring care. Mental disorders and dementia being more challenging conditions for caregivers. Dissatisfaction with the caregiving role and a lack of support increase suicidal thoughts. Caregivers in some cultures may view stress and feelings of caregiving dissatisfaction as a personal weakness or as being disrespectful to aging parents or the family.
0:16:32:83 Pamela D Wilson: A desire to please or not disappoint parents can be so engrained that caregivers suffer permanent physical and emotional health issues while the care of aging parents suffer. Caregivers in strict cultures with firm beliefs about caregiving have choices—even though they do not believe in choices. They remain in the current situation, and they suffer, or they can break the dynamics of the caregiving relationship and begin talking about the effects of caregiving by focusing on concern of quality of care for an aging parent.
0:17:10:98 Pamela D Wilson: This discussion with aging parents can reinforce the importance and commitment to care for an aging parent but also realistically state that the adult child cannot physically or emotionally continue to do all of the work. This discussion may open the door to the opportunity for hiring outside help to give the caregiver a break. While cultural caregiving norms may seem to be an extreme situation, this is more common than most people think.
0:17:4142 Pamela D Wilson: Caregiving expectations in different cultures are vastly different. Rather than judging, being compassionate and encouraging discussions is the best that can be done in situations that may be potentially harmful to the caregiver and the aging parent. Part of how to take care of my parent may be the ability to recognize when the caregiver can no longer be the only caregiver.
0:18:07:80 Pamela D Wilson: At this point, support from other family members or paid caregivers may be an option to move this conversation forward. How to take care of my parent involves the factor of mental stress that results from the ups and downs of chronic stress that rarely goes away if the caregiver cannot take time away from caregiving responsibilities. Stress affects the brain’s ability to solve problems. Another effect of chronic stress is caregivers who are sleep deprived which also affects the brain and problem-solving.
0:18:41:25 Pamela D Wilson: Getting plenty of sleep and exercise is a way to boost cognitive function and problem-solving abilities. Getting a good night’s sleep allows the brain to clear out toxins. There is a researched association with sleep difficulties and Alzheimer’s disease. Cerebrospinal fluid in slow waves that results from deep sleep clears the toxins from the brain.
0:19:06:02 Pamela D Wilson: According to the National Institute of Health, people who do not reach deep sleep may develop toxins in the brain called amyloids which is the protein that results in Alzheimer’s disease that causes communication gaps between neurons in the brain. The reverse is also likely. Elevated beta-amyloids in the brain may lead to trouble sleeping and result in a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
0:19:36:18 Pamela D Wilson: When we don’t’ get a good night’s sleep, we may be less productive the following day. We may be more irritable or tired. Exhaustion resulting from the chronic stress of how to take care of my parent can result in memory gaps or forgetting to do something. Forgetting to put out medications for a parent, forgetting to pick up groceries, and drop them off.
0:20:00:35 Pamela D Wilson: Mental exhaustion also results in poor attention to detail, making more mistakes, or even an ability to evaluate and choose between options. When the brain becomes tired, our ability to filter out unnecessary or irrelevant information becomes difficult. Think of this. It’s 2 am. You’re awake. You’re searching the Internet for information, and your brain goes down a rabbit hole. Meaning that whatever it was you were searching for turns into things like recipes for peanut butter cookies or listening to music or watching videos, and an hour passes.
0:20:43:07 Pamela D Wilson: These attentional effects of caregiving is your brain telling you that it’s time for a break. Coming up next. a little diversion and attention shifting for our brains. Dr. Anil Patil from Carers Worldwide will take our brains to a different continent so that we can learn about the experiences and struggles of family caregivers in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
0:21:10:23 Pamela D Wilson: A reminder to join me every Wednesday for The Caring Generation, where we tackle uncomfortable and sometimes intimidating discussions about aging, caregiving, and everything in between. The show is not limited by time zone or location—caregivers worldwide listen. I’m Pamela D Wilson. You’re with me on The Caring Generation. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.
0:22:01:47 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and eldercare consultant on The Caring Generation. If you are looking for hope, help, or support for an aging or caregiving challenge, I can help. Visit my website PamelaDWilson.com, click on the How I Help tab, next the drop-down for Family Caregiver Support, and next the tab for Elder Care Consultant. You can meet with me and learn more about the support I offer for family caregiving situations.
0:22:31:25 Pamela D Wilson: Share and visit my website PamelaDWilson.com with others you know. One in 4 people are caregivers looking for hope, help, and support and don’t know where to turn or who to trust. Get ready to meet Dr. Anil Patil, founder and executive director of Carers Worldwide.
0:22:41:00 Pamela D Wilson: Dr. Patil, thank you so much for joining me.
0:22:54:08 Dr. Anil Patil: Thank you, Pamela, for inviting me to The Caring Generation podcast, really appreciate it, and I’m really excited and looking forward to sharing the work of Carers Worldwide.
0:23:08:20 Pamela D Wilson: So you began Carers Worldwide in 2012. Your work supports programs in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Can you share your vision and your mission?
0:23:18:96 Dr. Anil Patil: We have a very ambitious vision. Carers Worldwide would like to see a world in which the needs of every carer are routinely met in order to achieve their physically, emotionally, economic and social well-being for each individual. Our mission is to not only to enable carers, service providers, policymakers but also other stakeholders to not just recognize and respond to the needs of carers in developing countries. But also ensuring that balance and equal value is given to the needs of the carers and the person receiving the care.
0:24:00:74 Dr. Anil Patil: In addition to that, Pamela, we have two strategic goals. Our strategic goal is to serve as a catalyst to bring about the systemic changes in the countries where we are working with the common service providers, other charities and agencies, so that they not only recognize and respond to the carers needs in lower and middle-income countries. The second one is how do we facilitate the provision of support for individual carers and their families in low and middle-income countries, bringing them better health, well-being, and economic security.
0:24:40:23 Pamela D Wilson: You have a wonderful website. Your 2020 Impact Report mentions limited social protection and a lack of knowledge about support system being a concern. How does that impact carers?
0:24:54:37 Dr. Anil Patil: Thank you for your appreciation of our website. I think credit goes to my team, who have been fantastic in terms of putting the information on our website. So, in terms of the impact of carers, there is no standard caregiver’s allowance in the countries where we work, Pamela. And there is no system for recording the number of carers. Whereas in the developed countries like America, in the U.K., Europe, Canada and on, we have the statistics how many carers are there.
0:25:30:04 Dr. Anil Patil: Unfortunately, in the countries where we are working, we don’t know how many numbers of carers are there. And carers are not recognized. Nine-two percent of carers we have surveyed worry about not having enough money to meet their basic needs, including buying medicines for the person they care for. And particularly during the pandemic, 73% of carers we surveyed in India had experienced a significant drop in household income, and that figure in Nepal was up to 94%.
0:26:07:74 Dr. Anil Patil: Lack of social protection means families are living in poverty. The health of carers is also impacted—particularly their mental health. They are unable to pay for their children’s education. Cannot buy aids and appliances that their disabled relatives need—and the list goes on.
0:26:28:67 Pamela D Wilson: Oh, that must be so worrisome for these caregivers. Carers Worldwide focuses on advocacy at the community, regional, and national levels, and on your website, I noticed the mention of a State Level Carer Forum. What is the purpose of that forum?
0:26:46:03 Dr. Anil Patil: The forum brings together carers and representatives from various other partner organizations, other stakeholders like local government, academic institutes, and interested corporates, to identify and lobby for the changes that will benefit carers. The purpose of the forum is to promote the recognition of the existence and role of family carers. Then secondly, to raise the voice of carers and promote their inclusion, and finally to develop state-level strategies for promoting and protecting the rights of carers. A practical example is lobbying for improved social protection, a dedicated, for example, a dedicated carer’s allowance which I mentioned in the previous question.
0:27:38:62 Pamela D Wilson. COVID this past year has just changed the world so much. How are the caregivers that you work with being affected by COVID and their families?
0:27:49:44 Dr. Anil Patil: It has affected significantly Pamela. Particularly the health and well-being and the economic. During the COVID period, we carried out a survey in all of the three countries, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. In India, for example, a 39% increase in new carers due to the pandemic and the number of hours spent caring—each doubled. In particular, around providing emotional support and managing technology needs and feelings of Isolation have increased. They have less time to spend with family and friends. They are even more worried about the health of the person they care for, whereas in Bangladesh, 90% of carers reported increased stress and anxiety, and in Nepal, this figure was 70%, and in India, the stress and anxiety were up to 79%.
0:28:49:77 Dr. Anil Patil: So, what we have done is during this pandemic, we were able to connect with the leaders of carer’s peer groups to spread the awareness and COVID 19 prevention messages to the communities, training to the front-line health workers. We provided more than 8,000 finder carers who accessed our daily counseling services, and we have sought the permission from the local authorities so that our partner organization staff will collect the vital medicine and travel to deliver them to the people’s doorsteps. In that way, we were able to reduce their stress and anxiety, and there is someone to talk to.
0:29:32:94 Pamela D Wilson: That is so important these days during COVID. So, employment and income, you mentioned this a few minutes ago, are very significant issues for carers, and there are some amazing stores on your website about what you’ve done. Can you share how carers receive support in this area from your organization?
0:29:51:42 Dr. Anil Patil: This is one of the core areas for the Carers Worldwide model, Pamela. We develop individual carers’ plans, and we look at the carer’s previous working experience and their skills, their interests, the level of their caring responsibilities, and the local market demand. So, we facilitate any necessary training they require and link with the local government training opportunities. We also facilitate to support and set up their new income generation activities or livelihood activities through linking with the local government systems by providing a low-interest loan.
0:30:37:37 Dr. Anil Patil: It seems so many of the carers we work with live in rural areas. Many of their livelihoods are based around agriculture and animal husbandry based. So, when we started, only 30% of carers were earning a regular income now that figure has gone up to 81%. We also look at the alternate caring options available. Is it possible to get a disabled child into school or involve other relatives or neighbors in providing care?
0:31:10:20 Dr. Anil Patil: And we have promoted community caring centers so that carers bring their child to the center and there are two other carers caring for their loved one so that the carers can go back to work or engage in a livelihood activity. So, they don’t want to worry who is looking after their loved one. So, these are simple, cost-effective, and locally-driven—demand-driven initiatives, and they are able to balance both the caring role and income generation and supporting the entire family, Pamela.
0:31:52:01 Pamela D Wilson. That is so important. Talk about the other areas that you also address for the carers.
0:31:57:49 Dr. Anil Patil: We address various other areas. For example, emotional well-being to combat one of the issues carers talk about is loneliness and isolation. So, we have promoted more than 550 peer support groups in these three countries. And health and well-being, physical health, and mental health. We provide the training to local health professionals, front-line health workers, and we carry out the carer’s health assessment.
0:32:38:60 Dr. Anil Patil: We organize various health camps, whether it is general health camp or product health camp, or mental health camp. And also, we offer the services to carers if they are having family issues, relationship issues through professional counseling services. And we promote respite opportunities. It seems since the epidemic, they never had an opportunity to take a time off. So, through this alternative caring arrangement at community caring centers, we provide a respite opportunity.
0:22:00:00 Dr. Anil Patil: Finally, we also promote their voices. Carer’s voices are not heard. So we organize various local activities, such as Carers Day, to make not only caring visible but also giving carers an opportunity to raise their voices. We have that day for everybody but nothing for carers. I’m not just talking in low- and middle-income countries, but it is globally we are talking. Like just this month, on the 2nd of April, we celebrated World Autism Day, and last month we celebrated International Women’s Day. Unfortunately, the majority of the carers are women and carer’s role. The particular role they play hasn’t been recognized or appreciated.
0:34:05:75 Pamela D Wilson: Well, and this is true, so true in your area and also worldwide caregivers are not appreciated. What other insights can you share to help other people who are in other parts of the world listening to you understand what the situation is.
0:34:21:07 Dr. Anil Patil: This is a very interesting question, Pamela. As I said previously that carers are mostly not recognized, and there are no policies to protect their rights or a system to support their needs in the countries where we are working. Sometimes many carers themselves do not recognize themselves as being carers, and carers are invisible. They are hidden behind the curtain and only just beginning to talk about it. Because of the pandemic, there is a global spotlight on the carers for the last 12 to 14 months. And also, there is no safety net, there is no alternate system of care to fall back on in an emergency situation. So that is the—one of the biggest challenges we have been facing, Pamela.
0:35:26:80 Pamela D Wilson: Dr. Patil, I thank you so much for joining me, and I really applaud you for the work that you do. I think what you’re doing could be a model for so many other countries.
0:35:37:40 Dr. Anil Patil: Absolutely. Our Carers Worldwide model just to share with you. We started in 2012. We started with just providing support to just 250 carers to try and test our model to improve their health and well-being, to improve their economic situation, to improve the quality of care, and create a platform for carers to have their voices in making caring visible. Over a period of 7 to 8 years’ time, we have transformed the lives of more than 73,000 carers and cared for individuals and their family members in these three countries, Pamela.
0:36:19:53 Dr. Anil Patil: So, as you rightly say, it is simple, scalable, and a replicable model. This could be implemented in various other low and middle-income countries, even in developing countries. If I can, take another 30 seconds. Our intervention is like a drop of ink in a bucket of water. You don’t need a whole bottle of ink to change the color. Just a little bit of support to carers, recognizing the vital role they are playing. Understanding their challenges and issues, they are facing and encouraging them, and supporting them. It not only improves their health and well-being or economic situation but improves the quality of care. So, our learning has been in the last 7-8 years, Pamela— is to the healthcare system carers are the unpaid army keeping everything going. But nobody’s recognizing that. Without carers, our health system would collapse—but nobody is appreciating that.
0:37:25:06 Dr. Anil Patil: To service providers, they are the important catalyst to therapy success. Again no one is recognizing or acknowledging the contributions they are making. To many doctors, millions and millions of doctors—they (the carers) are the expert by experience turning planning into reality. But again, when it comes to—they may not have gone to universities. They do not know how to read or write, but inherently they have the caring quality. Can we appreciate and acknowledge that? And finally, to millions of patients, they are indispensable—brothers, mothers, husbands, grandmothers, friends, and neighbors that make each day possible. Thank you so much.
0:38:12:30 Pamela D Wilson: It’s time for a break. Up next putting the finishing touches on how to take care of my parents. Check out all of The Caring Generation podcasts and the show transcripts on my website at PamelaDWilson.com and all of your favorite podcast apps: Apple, Google, Spreaker, Podcast Addict, Pandora, Amazon Music, Stitcher, Spotify, I Heart Radio, Podchaser, Jio Saavn, Vurbl, and More.
0:38:42:94 Pamela D Wilson: Add the podcast app for the Caring Generation show on the cellphone of elderly parents, in-laws, family members, and friends. Helpful information about caregiving and aging is on my website and in my book The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes, available on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. I’m Pamela D Wilson on The Caring Generation Stay with me. I’ll be right back.
0:39:38:35 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson. You’re with me on The Caring Generation. If you are in a caregiving situation where you are not sure what to do, and you want to plan for care needs for aging parents, a spouse, or yourself to avoid unexpected ups and downs—help is on my website in my online articles, online caregiver courses, podcasts, videos, elder care and aging consultations, and the support that I offer to groups and corporations interested in supporting caregiving conversations.
0:40:07:85 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s continue the conversation about how to take care of my parents and combine this with the unexpected aspect of COVID that complicated travel and resulted in periods of self-isolation and social restrictions that are going on to this day and that we will probably experience for some time. COVID has had many unintended consequences, both negative but also and positive.
0:40:35:14 Pamela D Wilson: One positive is increased support for mental health issues through telehealth applications and a broader discussion of depression. The Kaiser Family Foundation has an ongoing survey that captures data on health and economic impacts of COVID. I’ll share a few results. Younger adults who are caregivers for middle-aged parents or grandparents have experienced school closures and loss of income. Job losses associated with COVID are significant for many individuals.
0:41:08:72 Pamela D Wilson: On the other hand, parents experiencing school closures who are homeschooling children and caring for aging parents are reporting feelings of anxiety and depression. In general, women report higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to men. Essential healthcare workers who are caregivers for their family members are worried about contracting COVID.
0:41:34:24 Pamela D Wilson: Forty-one percent of survey participants reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. What else do we know? Many older adults still are not leaving their homes for extended periods of time. Medical or dental care or health treatments may have been delayed and are still delayed. For some caregivers, the answer for how to take care of my parents has been to move parents into their homes. While this can seem like a practical decision, as we discussed in prior podcasts, the decision to move in with elderly parents or move elderly parents into your home should be fully considered and discussed in advance.
0:42:16:27 Pamela D Wilson: This is not a decision that is easily reversed which leads to the question what can adult children interested in how to take care of my parents do to manage the effects of caregiving on all aspects of life. In a perfect world—and we know the world is far from perfect—caregivers would seek education about health and well-being. In a perfect world, this education would begin in grade school and continue throughout college so that children might learn positive health habits from a very young age.
0:42:51:78 Pamela D Wilson: If this education was available and if consumers participated, we would see fewer health issues beginning in middle age that result in the need for adult children caring for aging parents. In addition to caregivers seeking education through online support groups and online or in-person elder care courses, in-person groups are becoming more available again as more of the population becomes vaccinated against COVID. This supports socialization.
0:43:22:51 Pamela D Wilson: Attending medical appointments with aging parents is an essential support for how to take care of my parents. However – it’s not only attending the appointment but becoming an engaged patient and caregiver and seeking patient education information and materials. When we take an active role in learning about medical conditions meaning learning the short- and long-term consequences, we can choose to be more proactive in managing our health concerns and the concerns of elderly parents.
0:43:58:53 Pamela D Wilson: From this program, you learned that chronic stress has a significant effect on the physical and emotional health of caregivers and on the quality of care provided for aging parents. The question for you is—what will you do with this knowledge? Will you ignore it because you are too busy working on how to take care of my parents? Many caregivers also delayed medical care and treatments because of COVID. There is no time like the present to schedule your annual checkup, dental cleaning, and other health prevention screenings.
0:44:37:80 Pamela D Wilson: Unless you want to pass caregiving responsibilities down to the next generation, your children. Caregivers it’s time to start taking care of yourselves. Becoming involved in the medical care of parents can be another potentially stressful event. Here’s why. Whether you realize it or not, understanding the consequences of health diagnosis and why medications are prescribed offers a significant opportunity to improve or maintain the health of an aging parent.
0:45:11:13 Pamela D Wilson: Tips for how to take care of my parents, manage medical appointments, medications, and advocate for care are in my online course, Taking Care of Aging Parents. There are so many things that we can encourage aging parents and ourselves to do. We already know most of them: exercise, eat healthy foods, get a good night’s sleep, minimize alcohol and tobacco use and maintain a good weight.
0:45:40:25 Pamela D Wilson: Exercise can be a mood booster for caregivers and aging adults feeling isolated or depressed, and daily exercise may help you sleep better. Minimizing worry about caregiving responsibilities can be accomplished by improving interactions with aging parents and siblings. Wanting the best for our loved ones and feeling out of control increases worry.
0:46:02:86 Pamela D Wilson: When we become involved and take action to support parents, we can regain a small sense of control or at least a small sense of satisfaction that we are doing the best we can do. When we gain trust with parents, difficult conversations about the effects of caregiving and stress become easier. We are not as hesitant to talk about the stress we experience or the fact that we do need help to make sure parents receive the care they deserve.
0:46:31:20 Pamela D Wilson: When we begin looking at solutions instead of being stuck on “there’s no way to solve this problem.” We can flip negative thoughts to the positive. And let’s be honest. Caregiving can be a very lonely role in life. The world of caregivers shrinks because of all of the additional responsibilities caregivers accept. You may or may not go out for any social activities. Contact with friends may be infrequent or not at all.
0:47:03:65 Pamela D Wilson: The time demands of caregiving may have you dropping out of life, dropping out of school, and not participating in all of the things you used to love. Loneliness can lead to depression, overeating, smoking, alcohol abuse, and a lot of other problems that are made worse by a lack of willpower. Loneliness and isolation is another reason to arrange respite care—that’s a person that comes to give you a break. My recommendation—reinstate at least one social activity that you have dropped or start doing a hobby you enjoyed again.
0:47:41:35 Pamela D Wilson: Make time for yourself. Reach out to friends and schedule weekly phone calls or an outing. Anything you do to increase contact with others can lift your spirits and your mental state. You may even feel less stressed by caregiving responsibilities. How to care for my aging parents involves many considerations that include managing the stressful effects of caregiving.
0:48:07:86 Pamela D Wilson: For better or worse, when we feel responsible for the care of an aging parent, we are likely to experience stress, especially if medical conditions exist that make it difficult for parents to fully care for themselves and remain independent. Being confronted with mortality and the eventual death of our parents or experiencing the death of other family members and friends may bring out fears about aging that we never expected.
0:48:39:46 Pamela D Wilson: All caregivers are blessed with their own unique experiences. As with all experiences in life—how or what we choose to learn from how to care for my aging parents can be a blessing for us, meaning that we take better care of ourselves and pass this learning down to our children. We as the caregiver can also set a positive example for children about managing caregiving responsibilities within the context of the bigger picture of life so that we don’ wear ourselves out and place the care of aging parents unintentionally at risk.
0:49:19:00 Pamela D Wilson: This is everything for this program. I thank you so much for joining me on The Caring Generation. Invite your family and friends to listen each week. I 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.
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Looking For Support For Taking Care of Aging Parents? Check out Pamela’s Online Elder Care Course.
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