The Caring Generation® Why Caregiving Takes More than Love – How to Keep Your Heart Healthy
The Caring Generation® – Episode 5 August 21, 2019 On this caregiving radio program Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert talks about Why Caregiving Takes More than Love. Special guest cardiologist Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley talks about how to keep your heart healthy and offers heart disease prevention tips.
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Why Caregiving Takes More Than Love – How to Keep Your Heart Healthy 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 care. 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.
00:42 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I am your host. You are listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, and TuneIn radio on the BBM Global Network page. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring, giving us permission to talk and laugh about aging, the challenges of caregiving, health, wellness and everything in between, all of those things that we should know about life. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and become more informed. Please invite your family, friends, co-workers and others to join us each week on The Caring Generation, because needing care or becoming a caregiver can turn our world upside down. Helpful information and solutions to caregiving problems are on my website at pameladwilson.com. You can also follow The Caring Generation show on Spreaker, Spotify, Google Podcast, SoundCloud, Castbox, TuneIn Radio and others.
01:55 Pamela D. Wilson: This week, we’ll be talking about why being a caregiver takes a lot of love, and all of the things we should know, but may not know. Including how to manage our own emotions. Caregiving for aging parents can feel overwhelming. Caregiving isn’t really a job that we apply for. It’s a job that happens in the blink of an eye. Situations and care needs change overnight. Good news and bad news arrive in the same day. I’ll share tips and humor in this program about why being a caregiver takes more than love.
In the second segment of this hour, we’ll visit with special guest, cardiologist, Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley about taking care of your heart and how to keep your heart healthy by managing heart disease. If you have high blood pressure, heart concerns or know anyone who does, you’ll want to hear our discussion. She has more than 27 years of cardiology experience. She was also a caregiver for her father, who experienced heart issues. Stay with me, we’ve got a great show for you tonight.
03:06 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s begin the conversation about why being a caregiver takes more than love. The first reason is that caregivers have to do things you never imagined you would have to do. These are the things nobody tells you about. How will you manage the first time you have to change a Depends? Empty a catheter bag, or bathe an elderly parent? Or maybe you haven’t done any of these things yet. These are all things you should know about to avoid surprises. Daughters, women, working women — they bear the main responsibility of caring for aging parents. Working and trying to balance caregiving — it can be a challenge. There is this term called “double and triple duty caregivers”. These are terms for women who work, they care for children, spouses and care for aging parents or other family members. Just thinking about all of that can make anyone feel exhausted.
04:08 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s talk now about caregiving professionals, those who work in care communities as the care staff. If you’re listening, you might be a home health aide. You might be a certified nursing assistant or a nurse, a physical therapist or another healthcare professional. You work all day at caregiving, and you go home and you spend your time off being a caregiver. That is one of the many reasons that being a caregiver takes more than love. The next reason why caregiving takes more than love is family disagreements about caring for aging parents. This one is a whopper, and I am not talking about the sandwich that you get at Burger King. How many of you have brothers and sisters or family who never lift a finger to help? But they are so good at telling you what to do. When you ask for help, they scatter, they disappear into thin air like ghosts. I don’t want you to think that you have to do it all, and do it all alone. Keep asking for help, don’t give up. Because if you take on all of the responsibility and the tasks, then your family members will take the easy way out. They will believe that you don’t need any help.
05:21 Pamela D. Wilson: For caregiving professionals who are listening, this is another one for you. You know it’s rarely the client or the patient who causes problems. How many times is it the families? And then we have work team issues. Healthcare workers, how many times do you take on extra work because your co-workers aren’t pulling their weight? I know about all of this. I’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years. This letting other people pull their weight and do all the work happens in families, in caregiving and health care businesses. You want to stand up for yourselves. Don’t be a shrinking violet. Ask for the help that you need. I know, caregivers are the worst people at asking for help, but you have to. The sooner that you learn to ask for help and to take action to get help, the easier your situation becomes. So, here are a few suggestions.
06:16 Pamela D. Wilson: Visit my website: Pameladwilson.com. You can go to the library tab and click on family for family caregiver or professional for professional caregiver. You can sign up for the members-only subscription library, it’s free. There are plenty of articles, videos, podcasts about subjects that are helpful to you. And since we’re talking about caregivers who so often do it alone, let’s talk about everything that caregivers sacrifice. It can be a lot. If you’re a caregiver, is your present life anything like life before becoming a caregiver? Am I right? Is anybody out there feeling this way? You can hold on to that thought, write down this number. It’s 866-451-1451. In the second half of the show, you can call in, you can give an opinion or you can share how caregiving or experiencing a health diagnosis has changed your life. Caregivers, what have you given up to be a caregiver? Do you have less time with your own family? No time to spend with friends? Are you giving up things that are good for you that you shouldn’t, like exercising, going to the gym, going to church, going out with friends?
07:34 Pamela D. Wilson: I understand, it can feel like there’s never enough time in the day to squeeze in everything. And this is yet another reason that being a caregiver takes a lot more than just love. It takes sacrifice, being willing to accept significant life changes. You might feel like you’re on a teeter-totter. Remember those from when you were a child? Instead of that teeter-totter being balanced with each side going up and down, you might feel like you’re on the side of having life be constantly up in the air and the weight of the world is sitting on the ground on the other side of that teeter-totter. On how many days do we feel our caregiving lives are out of control? On how many days do we feel like sitting in the bathroom or out in the car and having a good cry? [chuckle] I understand. I have so been there.
08:30 Pamela D. Wilson: We are about to change subjects. We’re going to talk about how to take better care of our heart by preventing and managing disease. Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley will join us in a few minutes. In addition to everything that I told you about her at the beginning of the show, she writes for Medscape Cardiology in a column called ‘The Heart.Org’, and she has been a cardiologist for over 27 years. If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, stay with me. Important tips and information are ahead. You’re listening to The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio. We’ll be right back after this break.
11:18 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I am your host. You are listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio. We are back to talk about how to take care of your heart. Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley joins us. She has more than 27 years of experience as a full-time cardiologist in Kentucky and Tennessee. Her love is prevention of heart disease. Dr. Melissa, welcome.
11:49 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: Oh, thank you very much for having me.
11:51 Pamela D. Wilson: My pleasure. Son let’s start with my questions. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Does it begin with high blood pressure or some other diagnosis?
12:04 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: Yes, absolutely. There are multiple causes of coronary heart disease across America. Most commonly now, we’re struggling with issues that directly result from an elevated body mass index, and all of the inflammatory issues that occur from the elevated body mass index. We have to look at things like fasting blood sugar, postprandial blood sugar, elevated blood pressure, cholesterol levels. And unfortunately, we’ve added other risk factors, such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. Those things produce an inflammatory milieu that actually increased the risk of inflammation in coronary arteries and increase the risk of blockage. So, when we talk about heart disease, we have to talk about not just coronary disease, but also valvular heart disease, rhythm disturbance, and disturbances of the heart muscle as well.
12:57 Pamela D. Wilson: So how do people know, besides going to the doctor and doing lab tests, how would somebody know if they have signs of heart disease? What should somebody watch out for?
13:09 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: Well, the most common symptoms are the classic symptoms. And it’s different for men and women. For instance, men will often have chest discomfort, it may be predictable with exertion or undue shortness of air, heart racing, a feeling of faintness. Women on the other hand, they just have profound fatigue. Very inappropriate shortness of air, and they will oftentimes describe discomfort in the back between the shoulder blades, sometimes it radiates straight into the front of the chest. And then for both genders, it’s very, very concerning if you have simultaneous right and left arm aching between the elbow and the shoulder at the same time. Those things are very concerning and that should get you to the emergency room, if you have those symptoms that are not stopping. As a matter of fact, progressive symptoms are also a sign that this is on the move and you need to get medical attention immediately.
14:11 Pamela D. Wilson: What are some of the longer-term effects of heart disease? Where does it kind of progress to?
14:19 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: Well, for instance, when we have a person that has coronary artery blockage that suddenly becomes clotted and the blood flow to the muscles is disturbed, at 20 minutes, that’s what we refer to as cold time. You suffer death at the heart muscle. So that segment of the heart muscle then no longer contracts. And the job of the heart is two-fold, it pumps the fluid from the lungs and also supply blood supply to the rest of the organs. So, the long-term effects of heart disease, undetected, are heart attack that leads to heart failure.
14:57 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: But our mitral valve is also the only valve in the heart, it’s a door that opens and closes that has blood supply. So, if we have a heart attack in the perimeter of that mitral valve, we can then have a backwash of fluid into the lungs. So, it’s not just primarily a muscle issue that can occur, it can also be valve leaks sometimes that occurs and then an end result is heart arrhythmia or an abnormal rhythm disturbance that can cause fainting and/or death. Those things are long-term sequelae, not to mention heart enlargement and further negative remodeling. So, it’s important for us to get attention so we can preserve our heart muscle function.
15:42 Pamela D. Wilson: So, myself, I have heart disease, that runs in my family. My mom had a quadruple bypass. I watch myself like crazy. What tests, or do doctors not do test — until you have heart disease? So, I’ve heard of the stress test and there’s some kind of calcium test. What test do doctors do to find out like your level of heart disease and if it’s progressing?
16:05 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: Well, I’ll tell you, the most important advent for testing that has come along since I’ve become a cardiologist is the CT coronary artery calcium score. And fortunately, it does not require a doctor’s order to have that test performed. In most places, it will run a patient about $50 to $150 out-of-pocket. Now, this only addresses the amount of calcium that’s built up on the coronary arteries, the heart arteries. It’s a simple test, does not require that you get undressed, you just lie down on the CT scan table, no IV, no dye or contrast is necessary. You hold your breath for 10 seconds and a photograph of the heart arteries is taken and then a computer calculation generates a number for the counts of calcium that are built up on the coronary artery.
17:00 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: So, we’re born at a score of zero, and our lifetime optimum should be 100 or less. But I see patients who have thousands and thousands of counts of coronary artery calcification. It doesn’t necessarily mean that that always equal blockage. But the higher the count, the higher the chance there is of obstruction to flow within the coronary artery. So that’s a very good screen. It should be reserved for postmenopausal women, or for women that have a very early family history of heart disease at an approximate age of your earliest family member that had problems, and then in men who are over the age of 50. That’s important piece of information. On the other hand, if you don’t have any coronary calcium, and you’re 85 years of age, you probably don’t need to be on aspirin. Probably don’t even need to be on a statin.
17:51 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: So that’s an important test you can actually order on yourself. And then other testing like cholesterol profile, check your blood pressure, make sure your blood sugar is good, get an ultrasound of your heart, do a stress test, those things are important basics for a heart work up.
18:08 Pamela D. Wilson: And so we’re going to head out to a break. So, if I want to get one of these calcium tests, do I just show up somewhere? Where do I go?
18:17 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: You call the hospital, ask for the radiology department or scheduling and they can get you to where you need to go.
18:24 Pamela D. Wilson: That is fabulous, because seriously, I’m going to do that for myself. My mom had heart disease starting at 50, all the way to 60 she had her bypass. We are going to continue this conversation with cardiologist, Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley, after this break, and I’m Pamela Wilson, I’m your host. Please invite your family, your friends, your co-workers and others to join us each week on The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network and TuneIn radio. We’ll be back right after this break.
20:57 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 and TuneIn radio. We are back to continue our conversation with cardiologist Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley. So, Dr. Melissa, I want to kind of follow up on what we were talking about before the break in the calcium test. So, let’s say that somebody who’s had heart surgery, maybe a bypass, goes to the doctor and says they want a calcium test or calls the hospital. Is that something that someone who’s already had procedures can have?
21:34 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: You can have it. But it’s very difficult to interpret and it really doesn’t add much at all to the patient’s diagnosis. We already know a person that’s had bypass surgery or an angioplasty or a stint, they have heart disease. And so those patients should be on appropriate meds, a statin and an aspirin and beta blockers, what have you. But patients who are wondering, “Have I inherited this coronary disease that the rest of my family seems to suffer from?” It’s a very, very good test. And conversely, the elder brother of a large family, all of his youngers had had heart disease and he came to see me, was quite glum, thought it was his turn. And I sent him for a calcium score and honestly, it was zero. And I was very happy to tell him, “It appears you probably have not inherited this gene.” And so, he is told to watch his cholesterol and re-score again in five to seven years. But it really helps to know who needs to be treated, who’s at ris,k and who needs to step up their surveillance for heart disease.
22:39 Pamela D. Wilson: And so, for those of us who have heart disease in our family and we’re worried, like this son is, what kind of lifestyle changes should we be looking at to avoid being like the rest of our family that has heart disease?
22:54 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: Well, the most important thing I can tell any patient, there are sort of two aspects to this or maybe three. The Mediterranean diet has been proven over and over to reduce the risk of heart attack, death, stroke and even cancer. It’s not a fly by night diet. It’s not a diet where you look at it, you yield several different outcomes, that’s consistent. And so, the Mediterranean diet is very, very important. Number two, normal body mass index, and you can Google that by finding a calculator on the internet and put in your height and put in your weight and your body mass index should be between 18 and 25. That’s important. And then exercise is truly the magic to prevention, because when we exercise, we create this milieu where our skeletal muscles give off these hormones that actually talk to our heart and says, “Look, you need to regulate the size of the blood vessel. I’m exercising now. I need to grow more very small thin hair and caliber type coronary arteries to help supply the muscle with blood supply.” So those three things are very important and then things that happen to us in nature.
24:06 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: Sometimes we have to fight them, not just naturally, but also with medication because aspirin has been proven as a great secondary prevention. So that’s important. And then, cholesterol lowering medications in patients who’ve had a heart attack or stroke or have a very high calcium score, those patients should be treated. And then blood pressure, normal number is really 120 over 70. You can’t just say my blood pressure is 140 over 90, and that’s normal for me. It’s not because we’re all woven out of about the same fabric and our pipes or our blood vessels can only take so much PSI. The pressure starts to furrow it and it actually affects our endothelium or the inner lining, and can increase the risk of blockage and clot. And then diabetes is a sneaky diagnosis. Fasting blood sugars will not diagnose diabetes often. You have to ask for a two-hour postprandial blood sugar. Now, if your blood sugar is elevated fasting, you’re likely diabetic. But if you have a normal blood sugar fasting and an elevated body mass index or a family history of diabetes, then you need to ask your physician and your provider to do a two-hour postprandial blood sugar, which is to check your sugar after you eat. After all, we are not fasting all the time. We are eating. So, we need to check what our glucose metabolism is in that state as well.
25:35 Pamela D. Wilson: And then what about triglycerides? I hear about doctors do blood tests and you got the cholesterol and you got the triglycerides. So, where do those enter into all this or do they?
25:42 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: Well, triglycerides. They do. Elevated triglyceride level is the best hint that a patient is diabetic. And I cannot tell you how many times, it has to be hundreds of times in my career that I’ve taken a patient who argues they’re not diabetic. They have high triglycerides; they have a normal fasting blood sugar. I give them a 75-gram Glucola challenge, and check their blood sugar before they drink it, and then at one hour and two hours. And then their blood sugars will often come back in the 200 range. And you have to remember, there is no such thing as borderline diabetes. It’s kind of like saying, “I’m borderline pregnant.” You are or you are not diabetic. And then 90% of Type 2 diabetes is reversible when you achieve a normal body mass index with the Mediterranean diet and with 30 minutes of exercise per day.
26:38 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: So, in America, I think we just have a tendency to roll over and say, “Okay, I’m diabetics, stack all the drugs on me that you can stack on me.” The fact of the matter is you don’t lower mortality very much unless you actually reverse your diabetes. So that’s important. But I think it’s also heartening that it’s possible to reverse Type 2 diabetes.
27:02 Pamela D. Wilson: And then real quick, so is stress a heart, isit a factor for heart disease? A lot of people are like, “Oh I’m so stressed. I must have high blood pressure. I must have heart disease.” Is that true?
27:13 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: Well, it is true that stress creates an environment where we have an increased tendency toward coronary artery spasm and then stagnation of flow that can then produce clot. So, women also have this entity, it’s called broken heart syndrome or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, and they will come in looking as if they’re having a heart attack, and in fact, their heart muscle is severely weakened and they suddenly have a backwash of fluid and heart failure. And it happens under stress under risk, oftentimes with an interpersonal discord or a bereavement type situation. So yes, stress does play a part.
27:56 Pamela D. Wilson: I thank you so much for joining us. All this information about heart disease and diabetes, and I learned a lot on the show tonight and so thank you so much for taking the time to join us. I so appreciate it.
28:06 Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley: Oh, you’re welcome. It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
28:09 Pamela D. Wilson: Thank you. Coming up after this break, we’re going to continue talking about why being a caregiver takes more than love and all of the little surprises that caregiving brings into our lives. I invite you to call and share after this break. The number is 866-451-1451. 866-451-1451. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. Please invite your family, your friends, your coworkers, and others to join us every week on The Caring Generation. We’re live on the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio. You can add a message, put a comment. If you are listening on the BBM Global website page on The Caring Generation, scroll to the bottom of that page, leave me a comment, an opinion, a suggestion for a future show. I would love to hear from you. We will be right back after this break.
31:06 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I am your host. You are listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio on the BBM Global Network page, where we share tips and things you should know about life. Help, Hope and Support for Caregivers is available on my website, pameladwilson.com. I’d like to send a sincere thank you to Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley for her wonderful interview with us tonight about heart disease and diabetes. You can subscribe to The Caring Generation on Spreaker, Spotify, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, Castbox, TuneIn Radio and others. You can download the podcast, take it with you, listen in the car or in the gym.
31:54 Pamela D. Wilson: If you have an opinion, a story, or a question you’d like to share, you can call 866-451-1451 and join me. How many of you have noticed that the healthcare system is a little bit complicated? And healthcare workers sometimes use different terms and speak a different language. It’s another one of those things that we should know about life. It is okay to ask questions because sometimes there are not a lot of explanations about the consequences and options of treating or not treating a chronic disease. The conversation that we just had with Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley gave us the consequences of heart disease. It gave us tips about identifying diabetes early on and things that we can do to be healthier. Those are the conversations that we should have with all doctors, to be more proactive about our health because we all know that medical appointments, they last 15 minutes. Sometimes prescriptions are written with little or no explanation and when we don’t understand, we cannot follow doctor’s recommendations.
33:01 Pamela D. Wilson: What happens then? Care situations get worse instead of better. What is it about asking questions? Sometimes it has us so stuck. It really is a positive activity. I’ll show you how it goes. I’m asking for your help, please post your opinions, your comments and make suggestions on the BBM global website page on The Caring Generation so that I can learn about your interests. Become more comfortable about asking questions, asking for help. As caregivers, there’s no need to feel frustrated or angry about care situations when all you have to do is ask for help. You might have to ask a few times, but you will get there.
33:43 Pamela D. Wilson: I know from personal experience that there are plenty of things that can go wrong in the healthcare system. In 20 years, there have been mistakes with me, with my clients, which is why as a caregiver, asking for help is so important. The other complicating factor is that so many of us lack information about how to stay healthy, how to improve our health. I don’t know many people who want to be old and sick, but unfortunately, it happens. Next week, we have a special guest who will be talking to us about mid-life health and wellness. Everything that we do today results in the quality of our lives tomorrow. We all know what our health is like today, and where we’d like it to be, but sometimes we just don’t know how to get there. Or when we learn what it takes to be healthier, we decide it is way too much trouble. I always say, “Really? Are you too much trouble for you? I think not.”
34:44 Pamela D. Wilson: This takes us to the next reason why caregiving takes more than love. The health of aging parents and loved ones can seem like it’s on a continual decline. How many of you are seeing health declines in your parents or in a spouse? If you’re a healthcare worker, you probably see this all the time with your clients or your patients. That’s the world you live in. There are things that the healthcare system can do. And then, as Dr. Walton-Shirley said, there are things that we have to do on our own. The sooner that we realize that we have the power to change our life and our health circumstances, it’s up to us. The sooner we begin to act to improve our circumstances to know what to do, we can change our lives. Sometimes though we can feel like we’re at a total loss about knowing what to do. If we knew what to do, we wouldn’t be in the same situation we were six months or a year ago.
35:42 Pamela D. Wilson: How many of us find ourselves struggling in that situation? In caregiving situations and taking care of aging parents, there can be so much uncertainty. Where is that manual that tells us everything that we should know about being a caregiver? Well, helpful information is on my website at pameladwilson.com. You can spend a little time checking out the website, my library, my videos, the online program and the podcast of the shows that you may have missed.
36:14 Pamela D. Wilson: Here’s another caregiving surprise and don’t be shocked when the healthcare system might refuse to give your loved one care or treatment. This happens sometimes when there is a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s. I can tell you that I’ve advocated getting care for my older clients with memory loss for years. Sometimes the healthcare system can be biased against care for the elderly and for persons who have Alzheimer’s or Dementia because they think people won’t follow doctor’s recommendations. It’s amazing, when we’re healthy, we don’t have to learn how to navigate the healthcare system. It’s not until we have a health issue like high blood pressure, that the things we should know about health, wellness, aging and caregiving become monumentally more difficult. One problem can lead to the next and the next. Do you ever notice that? We think that we have a solution and all of a sudden, change happens, and that change leads us to something else, to another problem. Life can be really tricky that way.
37:24 Pamela D. Wilson: The next surprise about the idea of caregiving taking more than love is that being a caregiver, believe it or not, is sometimes hard and thankless work. Tasks and responsibilities can increase with time. As caregivers, we want to do it all. But that desire to be everything results in physical health declines and emotional stress. Asking for help is a solution, but many caregivers fail to see that as an option until disaster strikes and then there may not be another option. There’s no substitute for knowledge, for being prepared and for having the confidence to know what to do in care situations. Taking action to find caregiving support groups, take a class to manage the unexpected, including difficult family situations, can make things much easier.
38:18 Pamela D. Wilson: We’re going to talk about managing family conflict and all the emotions in caregiving coming up after this break. 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 and TuneIn radio on the BBM Global Network page. Help me make this program valuable, interesting and entertaining for you. If you have comments, ideas or suggestions, and you’re listening on the BBM global website page, scroll to the bottom and leave me a comment. I promise to respond. We will be right back after this break.
41:02 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I am 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 and TuneIn Radio on the BBM Global Network page. A podcast replay of this program and the program transcript will be available on my website, pameladwilson.com in about a week. You can click on the media dropdown, and then the Caring Generation radio program page. You can also listen live to the Caring Generation each week on your Android phone. On the Caring Generation app, it’s available in the Google Play store. Let’s return to talking about managing family conflict and all of our caregiving emotions. Managing conflict in any situation can feel intimidating. We might want to avoid it, especially if we don’t have any conflict management skills.
42:01 Pamela D. Wilson: One of the simplest ways for us to think about managing conflict is the idea of input and output, or what I like to say, the unexpected reaction. When we react negatively to someone, we have to expect that that person on the other end is probably going to react negatively. They’re going to bite back at us. It’s so easy for emotions to drive our lives as caregivers. We take chances because we might be excited about something. And then on the other hand, we cry when our feelings are hurt. We make sacrifices to become a caregiver because we love our aging parents, because we love our spouses, but when we allow our emotions to control our moods up and down all over the place and our actions, we can make poor decisions for ourselves and our loved ones.
42:58 Pamela D. Wilson: We all have what are called emotional triggers. Those are words, they’re actions, or they’re people that set off our emotions, raise our tempers, throw our moods up and down. It could be something like your mom saying to you, “Oh, that’s not right,” and then as a caregiver, you think, “Oh my gosh, I can’t do anything right. I’m a horrible, horrible person.” Don’t think that. One of the best ways is not to immediately react, and it’s a strategy that I came up with in my 20 years of doing this. I call it reflect and react. Honestly, there were so many times when I was angry about a situation that I wanted to just blow up but I didn’t — by realizing that most people don’t intentionally make mistakes. It’s usually accidental or they don’t intentionally say the wrong thing or want to hurt our feelings. We can learn to pause to count to 10 before responding. If a situation is really upsetting, you can take a step back, think about the situation, ask a few questions, even sleep on it and delay responding until tomorrow.
44:12 Pamela D. Wilson: What I find is when I sleep on a situation, I usually can think more logically about it in the morning, and I also come up with ideas, solutions that I wouldn’t have had if I would have reacted immediately to that situation. Many times, we can respond in not so nice of a manner, and that really does result in damage to family and work relationships. If you’re a professional caregiver or maybe you’re a home health aide or a CNA, a nurse, and you work with a lot of patients, a lot of clients, you know that not reacting can be so difficult because you may see 10, 15, 20 people in a single day and sometimes that makes it a little difficult to maintain your composure. Sometimes you probably feel like you are just emotionally drained by the end of that day. To be successful in those situations, we have to balance our emotions and not react too far one way or another. How many of you learned that if you can project calm on the outside, you might be boiling on the inside, but it’s a learned skill and it usually works out better.
45:30 Pamela D. Wilson: The same applies to family situations, to family caregivers, whether it’s a situation with mom, dad, a brother or a sister. The more that we can balance our emotions, the greater opportunity we have to manage those family disagreements, the conflict. And if we can take a sincere interest in working together to solve problems, all those caregiving difficulties or challenges, sometimes they can just go away. But it’s not always easy if we don’t know what to say or how to navigate that conflict. If you are surprised by something that somebody says, you can easily say, “Well, gosh, thank you for mentioning that to me. Let me think about it. Let me get back to you.” Delaying that response is better than saying something that you would regret or starting a family argument. And then when you calm down, you can think more clearly, respond and be kind and graceful. A lot of us are spiritual. We all have beliefs, and some of us think that things always happen for a reason; I believe that myself. It’s the idea of divine intervention showing us what to do, teaching us why something is happening, and sometimes it helps us avoid a situation that might really go sideways.
46:52 Pamela D. Wilson: We can also find an outlet for feeling frustrated or angry. Exercise, meditation, listening to music, maybe reading an inspirational book, can help us. Those are all positive outlets to calm our frustrations and our angers. And one of the best ways to respond to a disagreement is to gain a new perspective. Think about the situation from the other person’s side. Ask yourself why they’re concerned or worried and what do they want. Then look at your feelings and what you want. Ask yourself if there’s a way to talk about that situation and to come to a middle ground, to compromise, maybe to find a way to work together. In life, we can’t always have our way, but neither can anyone else. We can become a better listener; that can help. When we listen, we might really find out what is upsetting somebody else; it’s not always what we think. And sometimes we just happen to be in the way of somebody else’s frustration. Maybe they got a bad phone call where somebody yelled at them right before they called us, or right before they spoke to us. So, we have to be able to accommodate for all of these unexpected situations. Many times, we feel like we’re just barely able to get through a situation because of all the concerns, but I tell you, we can do it if we become more patient and more understanding.
48:29 Pamela D. Wilson: Help me make these programs valuable, interesting and entertaining for you. If you are listening on the BBM Global website, on The Caring Generation page, go to the bottom of that page, leave me a comment, an idea about a subject; I promise you I will respond. 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 and TuneIn radio on the BBM Global Network page. We’re going to take a break, and we will be right back.
51:04 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 and TuneIn radio on the BBM Global Network page. A replay of this program will be available in podcast format and transcribed on my website in about a week. Please share “The Caring Generation” with family, friends, co-workers, everyone you know, because we’re all going to need care some day or become a caregiver. I’d also like to say hello to all my friends on social media. My Facebook page is “PamelaDWilson.page,” on Twitter, I am “Caregivingspeak,” on Instagram, “WilsonPamelaD,” and on LinkedIn, “PamelaDWilsonCaregiverExpert.” How many of you are working and caring for loved ones? If you’re a professional caregiver, you might be taking care of clients or patients all day, then you go home at night to care for your husband, children and an aging parent. That can be exhausting. I’m curious, what issues do you have with balancing caregiving and life? Do you have issues in the workplace?
52:20 Pamela D. Wilson: Is your boss or your supervisor understanding about your personal caregiving responsibilities? Or do you even talk about these because you might be afraid of losing a promotion or losing your job? Over 20 years ago, when my parents were still alive and I was working and being a caregiver, I had one boss who was amazing, understanding, so compassionate, another boss not at all understanding. I believe that only a caregiver can understand what another caregiver goes through. What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinion. You can post a comment on the BBM page, on the Caring Generation, or you can call in next week, 866-451-1451. Caregivers are so often judged by other people, and sometimes not judged very kindly. You might have some experience with this judgment. I know caregivers who try to talk to their friends who aren’t caregivers and they hear things like, “Oh, it can’t be that bad.” Or, “Well, that’s your responsibility. After all, your parents took care of you.” I don’t know many caregivers who say that being a caregiver isn’t their responsibility, that subject really isn’t debated. What I do know from being a professional caregiver is that working full-time and caring for aging parents, or family members, or living with a family member, it can be like a 24/7 job.
53:54 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregiving is hard work. As caregivers, when we express concerns all we’re saying is that we’re tired and we need a little bit of help, a little bit of compassion. Or that we want somebody who will just listen to our situation, who has some experience. Ssomebody who might offer help and support. For all of you I am that person, and the Caring Generation radio program is the place every week to find help, hope, and support. I do invite you again to post and share comments on the Caring Generation page on the BBM global website, and to call in each week to share a story or an opinion, I would love to hear from you. There’s no judgment on this program or on my website. Caregivers are welcome, aging adults are welcome, you are all safe here with me. Next week we’ll continue the conversation about working caregiving responsibilities, we’re going to talk about how to be proactive in our mid-life years. Listeners, if nobody has told you that you are so amazing or hasn’t thanked you this week for everything that you do as a caregiver, or in helping others, let me say thank you.
55:04 Pamela D. Wilson: Together we can work through the changes that caregiving and needing care brings into our lives. As caregivers we all face different challenges. Sometimes caregiving or aging, it can feel like a struggle or be difficult to manage. Help and hope are on my website, pameladwilson.com. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I’m your host, I thank you so much for joining me on the Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network and TuneIn radio. I look forward to being again with you next Wednesday evening. We’re going to talk about proactive — things that we can do in mid-life to stay healthy. God bless you all, sleep well tonight and here’s to a fabulous day tomorrow, I’ll be back with you next week.
55:54 Announcer: Tune in each week with the Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson. Come join the conversation and see how Pamela can provide solutions and peace of mind for everyone here on Pamela D. Wilson’s the Caring Generation.