Caring For My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me
The Caring Generation® – Episode 24 January 29, 2020, On this caregiver radio program Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert shares tips for working family caregivers who say “Caring for My Elderly Mother is Killing Me.” Tips to resolve complaining plus seven habits that successful caregivers avoid will also be shared. Journalist, Maya Dusenbery, talks about Women’s Health Care: Getting the Right Diagnosis.
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Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me
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.
7 Behaviors That Successful Caregivers Avoid
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, loved ones and our topic for this evening, things that caregivers think but hesitate to say, Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me, and everything in between. We’ll tie this together with a little bit of humor and laughter that are essential to being a caregiver. Take The Caring Generation with you wherever you go on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Spreaker, Stitcher, Sound Cloud, Castbox and more. It’s the perfect way to begin conversations about caregiving by letting me do the talking for you.
01:40 Pamela D. Wilson: This week in talking about Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me, we will look at a combination of the aspects of complaining. I’ll share seven behaviors that successful caregivers avoid. We’ll talk about the complications of caregiving, situations that can be frustrating, and last but not least, the behaviors of elderly mothers, fathers, and others that equal the toll of caring for elderly parents, that has a negative effect on our physical and emotional health as caregivers. My guest this week is, Maya Dusenbery, a journalist who shares research about bias related to women’s health care. We’ll talk about her health care experience and her book, Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed. Let’s start with the idea of Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me, and the aspect of complaining which may make us feel better, but won’t improve the situation.
02:41 Pamela D. Wilson: The first question to ask is, why are we or our elderly mother complaining? Complaining can be a lifelong and ingrained habit. This means that most of the conversations that we or an elderly mother have are complaints or a negative opinion about someone or something. Has anybody ever told you that you’re negative or that you complain or vent all the time? Have you told your elderly mother that she complains too much? Complainers who have this habit may not realize that they complain. In complaining, the caregiver, us, or our elderly mother could be just very, very negative. To solve this issue, we have to find the reason that we complain which can take asking a lot of questions. Is caring for your elderly mother killing you, resulting from your mother, killing you with her complaints? Are the complaints an attempt to feel important? Do they result from dissatisfaction? Do you or your elderly mother feel like you’re not getting what you want?
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03:45 Pamela D. Wilson: Is there a sense that other people have an easier life? Is the intention of the complaint to make other people feel worse or to make them feel guilty? Elderly mothers can be great making their children feel guilty. You know what I’m talking about. Is complaining a way to connect with other people who are also negative and unhappy? Are the complaints a way of venting, and not doing anything about the situation? Has complaining become a way to get attention? Does complaining make anybody feel better? I suspect not. My suggestion, go on a complaining starvation diet, create a positive habit, and end complaining. Begin by taking responsibility for the reason for the complaint. Realize that people make mistakes and situations just go off track.
04:35 Pamela D. Wilson: Realize that the person you complain to may not have the power to solve your complaint, that’s very important. If you, as an elderly parent or a caregiver, are complaining to each other, realize that you may be the only two people that can solve your complaint. So, when you complain, you’re really talking about yourself and your lack of skills to fix that problem. Think about that for a minute. If you have to complain, have the facts at hand. Express the concern calmly from a position of helping other people that would avoid the situation. More importantly, if you have a complaint, instead of sharing it with the world, be an adult. Work out the complaint with the person you’re upset with. In the case of Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me, talk to your elderly mother about the complaint or the problem. Have an uncomfortable conversation to solve the complaining. If you haven’t learned this, being a caregiver is filled with having uncomfortable conversations. But don’t approach the conversation as a complaint, approach it as a solution.
05:40 Pamela D. Wilson: For example, “Mom, I hear you complaining about X all the time, I see that X upsets you. Rather than complain to me, why don’t you take action to resolve X? When I spend time with you hearing you complain, it makes me not want to visit you or spend time with you.” As a caregiver, set a boundary about not being willing to listen to complaints. You will, however, listen to solutions. Tell your mom that you’ll leave when she begins to complain or vent and leave. This is solution one for Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me. Then think about doing the same for yourself if you’re the complainer.
06:17 Pamela D. Wilson: The minute that your mind turns negative and you start to roll your eyes, complain or make another gesture, stop yourself. Find a positive habit to replace complaining. Think of something that you’re thankful for. Make a plan to resolve the complaint, and the negativity that spins in your mind. Say a prayer, walk up and down a flight of steps a couple of times. Do ten push-ups, read a Scripture or a poem that you pick just for the occasion. Do something to break the negative pattern of complaining. You’ll find yourself to be more proactive at solving problems, and less frustrated with other people or situations. Others will find you more pleasant to be around. You may even find that thoughts of Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me begin to fade. Your elderly mother might become more pleasant if you are the complainer. Relationships go two ways. When we realize that we have a behavior that is a resulting in relationship issues, it’s up to us to change.
07:22 Pamela D. Wilson: This applies when a friend or a family member brings a behavior to our attention that they find unpleasant. We can choose to continue that behavior and damage the relationship, or we can choose to change the behavior and improve or preserve the relationship. Complaining, it’s an ingrained habit that can be difficult to change, and in caregiving situations where working together instead of complaining is essential, create positive habits to resolve thoughts of Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me. Up next, we have Maya Dusenbery, a journalist. She is the author of Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick. She’ll talk about her own health care situation and all of the research that she did with the healthcare system.
08:20 Pamela D. Wilson: to talk about the difficulty of diagnosing some women’s illnesses like autoimmune diseases, arthritis, other conditions that doctors seem to pooh-pooh. They look at us women and they say, “Oh, you’re crazy, it’s all in your mind.” Well, you know what, it’s not all in our mind. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, you are with me on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. You can share The Caring Generation, with your friends and family members. This and all of the past programs are on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com. We’ll be right back.
11:16 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. We’re back with Maya Dusenbery, talking about healthcare bias against women. Maya, thanks for joining us.
11:32 Maya Dusenbery: Thanks for having me.
11:33 Pamela D. Wilson: So, your book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick was inspired in part by your personal experience. Can you tell us about that and how it led to your research?
11:48 Maya Dusenbery: Yes, absolutely. So, I have been interested in women’s health for a while as a journalist. But it really wasn’t until several years ago when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis that I started really getting interested in this topic of gender bias in medicine. I had been a very healthy 20 something up until that point. But I started experiencing joint pain in my hands that then spread to my knees and my ankles and my elbows and eventually my whole body basically. And I had a pretty textbook case of rheumatoid arthritis. So, I was really lucky in that I went to the doctor. I was taken seriously. I was diagnosed early. Started early treatment. And in part because of that, I’ve been in remission for many years.
12:37 Maya Dusenbery: But after that experiences, I started really getting interested in autoimmune diseases, more generally, and realized that so many autoimmune patients who are disproportionately women actually have a much harder time getting a diagnosis, and go many years, and see many doctors and often feel like their symptoms really aren’t taken seriously during that search. And so, my book research is really kind of an attempt to figure out why stories like those seem to be so common.
13:05 Pamela D. Wilson: And you mentioned — I read your book — so, there was a mention in the book saying that the average time to diagnose an autoimmune condition is four years and four doctors. To me, that seems amazing, why so long?
13:18 Maya Dusenbery: Yes, it really is amazing. I think there are several factors. One is just that a lot of doctors aren’t well-trained on autoimmune diseases. So primary care physicians often in surveys report that they feel uncomfortable diagnosing autoimmune diseases. They’ve only often gotten a couple hours of instruction on them during medical school. And I think, I would argue that that reflects a larger problem that conditions that disproportionately affect women are really under-studied. They’re under-taught in medical school. And I think the other big issue is, as so many of these women’s stories really highlight, a lot of women are going to these doctors and they’re getting told, it’s stress or, “Here’s an anti-depressant. Maybe you’re just depressed. Or you’re kind of just overly concerned with your health. You’re a hypochondriac.” And so they kind of get shuffled from one doctor to another, before they will find somebody who really takes them seriously enough to do a full workup and get to the bottom of it.
14:28 Pamela D. Wilson: There was that story in your book about, I can’t remember what the lady’s name was, but she kept going to the emergency room with all this pain and they kept ignoring her, and finally, it was some kind of stomach ulcer. So, of all the ladies that you interviewed, were the frustrations just more about, “They’re not listening, they think I’m crazy?”
14:46 Maya Dusenbery: Yes, I think that was a really big theme, and I think there was sort of different flavors of that general theme. So that particular woman that you were mentioning, Maggie, who had a stomach ulcer, was a young college student and was really kind of accused of being dramatic and just over-reacting, and then ultimately she was accused of being drug-seeking, and they thought that she was looking for prescription pain killers. I think for, especially for women of color and low-income women, it’s very common to just be accused of malingering. Whether for drugs or for other disability benefits. And I think another big theme that came across in the stories is women really being told their symptoms are just normal. So particularly when it comes to menstrual pain or pelvic pain or anything that’s sort of vaguely hormonal related. It’s common to be told, “Well, it’s just kind of expected. You’re going through menopause or menstruation or pregnancy, or postpartum.” And so that kind of sense that there’s always some way that women’s symptoms are not taken as a serious urgent matter that requires medical testing and intervention.
16:08 Pamela D. Wilson: So, let me laugh about that for a second. So, is it usually male doctors telling women this?
16:14 Maya Dusenbery: I think not always. You might think that female doctors would always be better, but I heard — I wasn’t able to find really definitive hard research either way. And anecdotally, I’ve heard from women who certainly felt like they preferred to see female doctors for this reason. But probably an equal number who felt like they had also received dismissive care from female doctors or nurses. And my own personal opinion is that I do think that these problems are really not about individual providers, but these systemic problems about how we’re teaching medical professionals and these really unconscious biases that that affect all people, whether they’re in the medical system or not, whether they’re male or female themselves.
17:03 Pamela D. Wilson: And we have to go to a break in about two minutes. But you’re, you mentioned you had rheumatoid arthritis, and it’s in remission. What does that mean? Is it not going to ever come back?
17:10 Maya Dusenbery: It might. It’s, like most autoimmune diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis often comes in flares. So, I haven’t had a flare in several years, and so I feel like I’m mostly healthy at this point. But my first flare of the disease of that first one when I was diagnosed, was after a flu. Various things can trigger it, but I’m hoping that at least they’ll come few and far between.
17:46 Pamela D. Wilson: You’re probably feeling blessed. Well, I saw a doctor a few weeks ago, she was telling me that a patient of hers had thyroid disease and it kind of came up like yours. So, you said you had flu and then it came up. She was a massage therapist and her patient, unfortunately, died on the table and that resulted in her getting autoimmune thyroid issues. Maya, we’re going to cut out to a break. Listeners, podcast replays of this show and every Caring Generation radio show are on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com and all of your favorite podcast sites. My website is www.PamelaDWilson.com. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. We’ll be back with Maya Dusenbery after this break.
20:48 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, a 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. Let’s continue our conversation with Maya Dusenbery. Maya, your book talks about autoimmune diseases, but it also talks about other poorly understood conditions like MS that are more common among women. Why is it that women seem to have more of these unexplained conditions?
21:19 Maya Dusenbery: Well, I argue in the book that it’s because the medical system just really hasn’t put as much effort into explaining women’s conditions. So, I explore the history of what are sometimes called contested diseases. So, things like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Many chronic pain conditions like vulvodynia, other unexplained chronic pain conditions that really until the last few decades were seen as psychosomatic conditions or else just not recognized at all, and just not considered very important.
21:57 Maya Dusenbery: And, I think that one thing that really connects all of these conditions is that they disproportionately affect women, and they tend to have really subjective symptoms. Like pain and fatigue, that aren’t, at least at this point, really able to be confirmed via objective biomarker tests or a scan. And I think women have really been caught in this kind of catch-22 where because it’s assumed that these conditions are just all in your head, the medical system hasn’t wanted to invest in scientific research to really better understand them. And so, if you look at all these conditions, they get very little research funding, and patients often go many years before they’re diagnosed, and also really just don’t have very good effective treatment options to help them even when they do get a diagnosis.
22:48 Pamela D. Wilson: The women that you interviewed in your book, a lot of them were dismissed and not taken seriously. How can women, what can we do to become more credible, to say, “Look, there is really something wrong; you have to do something about this.”
23:00 Maya Dusenbery: Yeah. I think it’s really; it’s hard. Because on an individual level, I do think that women are really put in this double-bind where so many women speak to this sense of feeling like they have to communicate how much pain they’re in or how severe their symptoms are. But, they don’t want to come across as hysterical. And, as one of the physicians that I interviewed for the book put it really bluntly, she said, “You know, as a woman you’re really at a disadvantage in the doctor’s office because if you’re emotional, then you’re written off as hysterical, but if you’re very stoic, then, well, nothing’s wrong.” [laughter]
23:34 Maya Dusenbery: And so, how do you walk that line? I think it’s really hard. I do think that some of the takeaways I heard from experts and patient advocates are the importance of really trying to make your symptoms as objective as they can be. So instead of talking about how tired you feel, talk about how your fatigue is really functionally impairing your ability to get daily tasks of your life done. I think another big thing is bringing an advocate with you, whether that’s a loved one who can just attest to the reality of your symptoms. And one of the sad things I actually heard from a lot of women was that bringing a male loved one, a father or even a son. Actually, they felt like really helped them get taken seriously much more. And it obviously shouldn’t be like that, but that is one trick I did hear.
24:34 Pamela D. Wilson: That’s the reality, I guess. Your book also mentions the knowledge gap, talk about the knowledge gap in healthcare.
24:40 Maya Dusenbery: Yes. So, besides this lack of trust and women self-reports, I think the other really big problem is just that we, in general, medical science, in general, does not know as much about women’s bodies and their symptoms and conditions that disproportionately affect them. For many decades a lot of clinical research and drug trials were done almost exclusively on men, and the results were just extrapolated to women. And I think we’re still really living with the legacy of that.
25:11 Maya Dusenbery: We’ve definitely made progress in the last few decades in terms of getting women more integrated into clinical research and paying attention to the possibility that there might be differences between men and women’s experiences of the treatment of the same disease. But, there’s still this knowledge gap that we haven’t fully closed. So, the other big problem is just that, that even the very best medical providers are just not equipped with as much information that they need to be able to help their female patients as much as their male patients.
25:33 Pamela D. Wilson: And in your book, I think, did you talk to somebody from NIH? Or there was a mention about the clinical trials at NIH and trying to get more women in there. Are they making progress? Do you know?
25:33 Maya Dusenbery: Yes, there’s certainly been progress, and I think compared to the early ’90s when this was really first put on the radar, women are usually included in research. But I think the big lingering problem is that researchers still don’t routinely actually go ahead and analyze their results by sex or gender to see if there are actually differences, or if there aren’t, and including that in the published research. So, I think we’re still missing out on a lot of knowledge that we could be getting about those differences. The other big issue is that for a decade, pre-clinical research, the research on animals and cell lines has almost exclusively used male subjects, and that’s really only started to change in the last several years. It was only in 2014 that the NIH made that an official policy that animal researchers had to include females in their studies.
26:55 Pamela D. Wilson: So, let’s say there’s listeners listening and they hear you talk about this, and they’ve got some unexplained condition, what is your advice?
27:02 Maya Dusenbery: My advice is definitely just keep pushing. Keep getting a second opinion or a third or fourth or a 12th or, however as many it takes. I think one of the big takeaways from my research and talking to so many women with these experiences is just that it is so easy to start distrusting yourself when you’re being told by a medical expert in a white coat who’s been to school for a million years that nothing’s wrong with you. Even if you’re a really educated, privileged person in the rest of your life, we still give medical professionals so much authority that it can be really hard to trust yourself and push back. But I think it’s really important to know that there are these really big systemic problems. You’re not alone. This is a common problem and just really be empowered to keep looking for answers.
27:58 Pamela D. Wilson: And then, you also mentioned, you mentioned highly educated, but then you also mentioned the people that are not as highly educated. Are there different suggestions for those folks and those who may not get time off work to go to appointments and not have money to pay for medical care? What about those folks?
28:13 Maya Dusenbery: Right? Well, I think this is the really big problem — is that to really fix the system for everybody, we can’t rely on individual people just becoming super advocates for their own care. To ensure that everybody gets the care they need, we really do need to get the medical system on board with fixing these problems. So that you don’t have to be that super educated person with a lot of financial resources to get quality care.
28:44 Pamela D. Wilson: Maya, thank you for joining us. We’re going to head out to our next break. 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 me. We’ll be right back.
31:10 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m 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 Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation is the place for tips about health, well-being, and caring for aging loved ones. We’re back for more on the subject of “Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me.” In the past few weeks, I’ve talked to caregivers who were at breaking points. Caregivers who want to run away from caring for an elderly mother or father, because the situation is abusive, time-consuming, it’s affecting physical and emotional health. Becoming a caregiver is an unexpected role with responsibilities that continue to grow unless we as the caregiver are proactive from the start. Caregivers may expect family members to offer to help or even ask how you’re doing. Think again, it doesn’t happen. Everybody else is busy with their lives. If you appear to be managing and caring for an elderly mother or father, offering help or asking how you are is rare and unlikely. Your family members are just honestly relieved that it’s not them, that you are taking care of all of the problems. Unless you speak up, others have no way to understand thoughts of “Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me.”
32:23 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s talk about the seven behaviors that successful caregivers avoid to see if you’re participating in behaviors that make caregiving situations more difficult and challenging. Number one, worry. Do you worry about terrible things happening? Do you worry that your elderly mother might be upset if you say that you are exhausted? Caregivers, you are exhausted. If mentioning being exhausted upsets your elderly mother, her upset is more about her than you.
33:01 Pamela D. Wilson: Worries happen when we overthink situations. Recognize what you can control, what you can’t control, and stop the worry. Number two of the seven behaviors successful caregivers avoid is wishful thinking. Wishing or hoping that a situation will change, believing that it will get better, is an unlikely belief. Wishful thinking doesn’t change unless we create a plan to end thoughts that Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me. Number three of the seven behaviors successful caregivers avoid is doing nothing.
33:35 Pamela D. Wilson: What will that situation be like in one week, one month, three months, or a year if you do nothing? Better or worse? Probably worse. Doing nothing may be easy but not taking action isn’t going to make the situation better when you’re at a breaking point. Doing nothing harms physical and emotional health of caregivers. Caregivers tell me they’ve neglected their health. They are at risk of losing a job, they’ve gained 100 pounds, they smoke or drink excessively. If this is the situation, it’s clear that doing nothing is not working for you. Number four of the seven behaviors successful caregivers avoid is ignoring the problem. Ignoring the problem adds to thoughts of Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me.
34:23 Pamela D. Wilson: Your elderly mother may be choosing to ignore problems that include realizing that you are exhausted and burned out. Denial might exist about the seriousness of a health condition and the increase in care that might be needed from you over time. Your elderly mother might expect you to do everything when money exists to pay a caregiver to come into the house. Your brothers and sisters might be purposely ignoring the situation, hoping that you won’t ask for help. Stop ignoring the problem. Talk about the elephant in the room. Have that uncomfortable conversation that everybody is trying to avoid. You’ll feel better. Thoughts of Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me may feel less pervasive.
35:09 Pamela D. Wilson: Number five of the seven behaviors successful caregivers avoid is engaging in negative health habits. We talked about a lack of self-care for caregivers. When you don’t follow through to take care of your health because you don’t have time, you place your health at risk. One example is not having time to go to the doctor to find out if a test result, maybe skin cancer, a lump in the breast, excessive indigestion, means that you need to have a procedure completed. If you don’t go, you won’t know, or if you’ve turned to alcohol or drugs to mask the amount of stress you’re feeling, that is not good either.
35:48 Pamela D. Wilson: Number six of the seven behaviors successful caregivers avoid is becoming withdrawn. How many of you have been ghosted? Ghosting means ending communication or a relationship without notice. One day you’re friends. The next day you’re not. Caregivers under a significant amount of stress will withdraw from talking to family members and others for weeks. Caregiving ghosting happens when an exhausted caregiver fails to respond with telephone calls, emails, text messages; you just stop talking. Withdrawal results from negative thoughts of not being good enough. You may be having panic attacks, Maybe you’re burned out. If you’re a caregiver, the only way to manage that is to reach out and to ask for help. Tell your family members you’re at a breaking point, that you need help, and then accept the help. Caregivers are traditionally bad about accepting help.
36:42 Pamela D. Wilson: Challenging negative beliefs is a way to find solutions. Write down everything that you do in caring for your elderly mother or your father, write down your concerns, set a meeting with your family members. And if you don’t have family, because some caregivers don’t, you may be an only child, or maybe family lives way across country, contact social service organizations in the area where you live. You can find help if you make the effort to go outside of yourself, rather than withdrawing. I find that so many caregivers in stressful situations give up hope, and they have difficulty seeing that a situation can change. Be open-minded; create ideas to find help, and to accept help instead of being more closed-minded. Thinking and saying, “That’s not going to work for me.” Or, “I’m too tired.” isn’t going to get you anywhere. You have to challenge your negative thoughts. It’s the only way out of believing that Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me.
37:47 Pamela D. Wilson: After this break, we’re going to continue talking about number seven of seven behaviors that successful caregivers avoid. Plus, I’ll share examples of frustrating caregiving situations so that we can laugh a little at things that really do happen when we care for our elderly parents. Some of these are positively maddening, and they drive us caregivers crazy. Which is evidence that proves that caring for our elderly mothers can kill us. Check out podcasts of the radio show on my website www.PamelaDWilson.com. The weekly shows are there as well as the transcripts. This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to 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.
40:52 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. Tips and information for caregivers and aging adults are on my website, www.PamelaDWilson.com, along with podcast replays of The Caring Generation shows. Take The Caring Generation with you wherever you go on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Spreaker, Stitcher, Sound Cloud, Castbox, and more. Let’s continue with Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me. Number seven of the seven behaviors successful caregivers avoid is blame. Blame in the realm of caregiving is significant. Caregivers blame themselves and feel guilty for a long list of things. Caregivers express anger about being a caregiver and then they feel guilty about complaining. Blame is placed on out-of-control situations, on brothers and sisters who refuse to help or on elderly mothers, who are killing us.
41:55 Pamela D. Wilson: On the other hand, elderly mothers are great contributors in the blame and guilt game, especially when we as a burned-out caregiver say that we’re exhausted or that we need some help. At this point an elderly mother may have to be placed in a care community because you are exhausted. Maybe you’re financially unable to pay for care. There may be no other choice but to save yourself from all the craziness and the health issues that have happened that you are experiencing. Some of you listening may not be able to imagine this type of situation happening. Other listeners, you’re nodding your heads because you are or you were in this exact situation. Eventually, all caregiving situations arrive at a decision point, where you have to make difficult decisions. Never allow an elderly parent to blame or manipulate you for not doing enough as a caregiver, especially if you’ve devoted years to caring for elderly parents.
42:50 Pamela D. Wilson: The interesting aspect of blame is that blame can actually ruin the health of the blamer. Blame also affects the caregiver. Let’s talk about how this happens. Research shows that bitter, blaming and angry people have higher blood pressure, and are more likely to die of heart disease and other illnesses. According to Dr. Charles Raison, 90% of illness originates from negative mental states caused by stress, and one of those stresses is blame. Why do we do this? Blame is a self-protection mechanism. We want to, or the blamers want to, defend and protect their self-image. Some blamers feel powerless, they don’t want to be held accountable for behaviors. You probably see this happening in your family. Your mom may say, “Oh, you made me do that” or “You never told me that.” It’s a favorite of people who don’t want to take responsibility for their behaviors. Blame is bad for the caregivers. It’s a negative behavior of elderly parents, and one of the many reasons that caregivers feel that, Caring for An Elderly Mother Is Killing Me.
43:52 Pamela D. Wilson: Another behavior of elderly parents is attention-seeking or narcissism is also complaining. Attention-seeking and narcissistic behaviors, they’re kind of a little similar. A narcissist is never wrong, and anything that happens to them is never their fault. It’s because they believe that they are superior. They don’t take responsibility for their actions. They have unreasonable expectations of you, and they can take advantage of others, especially caregivers. If you have a parent who has one or more of these behaviors, I understand why you might feel that caring for an elderly parent is killing you. How do you set boundaries in your relationships with an elderly mother, a father, or a spouse? Some people think of boundary setting as being selfish. It’s not. Maintaining boundaries, especially for caregivers, allows you to take care of yourself, so that caring for an elderly mother who is killing you can continue.
44:50 Pamela D. Wilson: The act of caregiving, it’s emotionally draining, especially, if you have family situations, where all of these behaviors that we talked about are happening. Complaining, worry, wishful thinking, ignoring problems, engaging in negative habits, withdrawing, or blame. Elderly parents who have health issues experience a significant change in their daily abilities. That change, especially if they have a lot of health conditions, can result in not feeling well and what do they do? They take out their feelings on you, the caregiver. We caregive because we love. We have good intentions. We want to support parents who raised us. But sometimes those situations become so imbalanced, that we as the caregiver start to feel resentful. At that point, it’s probably beyond time to speak up. When we continue to come to the rescue of elderly parents and pick up the pieces of situations that they have created, that have gone wrong, we’re actually taking away the opportunity for our mom or dad to learn to solve their own problems.
45:43 Pamela D. Wilson: Why solve a problem when you have trained your elderly mother that you are the fixer, and you’re the one to blame when things go wrong? Stop it! As difficult as it may be for us to watch our elderly parents struggle, that struggle is a learning opportunity for all of us that helps our parents stay more independent.
46:18 Pamela D. Wilson: That situation does apply to our parents, who can still contribute. When, Caring for an Elderly Mother Who is Killing Me, becomes more challenging, happens with parents who have Alzheimer’s or dementia or another condition that make them unable to care for themselves. Those are really game-changing situation. Where you as the caregiver may be exhausted, but you still have to find an alternative to a situation that is damaging your health and your well-being. This is when having competing priorities benefits from setting boundaries. As a caregiver, your health should be the priority so that you can continue to caregive. A good night’s sleep so that you can go to work the next day is more important than being called to the home of your elderly parent for a non-emergency like replacing a burned-out light bulb that can be handled over the weekend.
47:12 Pamela D. Wilson: Next week, we’re going to be talking about advocating for elderly parents in nursing homes. I’ll share tips from my more than 20 years of experience advocating for clients. My guest is Jim of McKnight’s Long-Term Care. It’s an online news magazine, and it’s the source for updates about nursing homes and long-term care. Many people who work in the long-term care industry are familiar with the magazine. They do a lot of research on Medicare, Medicaid, what’s happening in long-term care facilities, and they’ve won a lot of awards. After this break, I’ll share caregiving situations that can be frustrating but that we all have in common and might be able to laugh about. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults is on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com. My caregiving library of articles, videos, my caregiving blog, online courses, and podcasts from all of The Caring Generation radio shows. You can find that, again, on my website, www.PamelaDWilson.com. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You are listening to The Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
51:49 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. Helpful information is on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com. Let’s talk about situations that you will come across in “Caring for An Elderly Mother Is Killing Me,” So that you can be prepared. For caregivers who have already run into these situations, you can nod your head, empathize and laugh. Ready?
52:20 Pamela D. Wilson: You go to the pharmacy to pick up a medication for mom, and the bill is $400.00. The pharmacy tells you that the medication isn’t approved by the insurance company. You now have to start all over again with the doctor’s office where you just spent five hours today getting a diagnosis and this prescription called into the pharmacy. The pharmacy tells you the doctor should have known better. He has an app where he can confirm that medications are in the prescription formulary. In addition to caring for an elderly mother who is killing you, lack of attention by the doctor’s office is killing you.
52:56 Pamela D. Wilson: Next, you hired an in-home caregiver for your elderly mother. Mom tells you the caregiver showed up and did absolutely nothing but talk on her cell phone and pour out her personal problems on your mother. You took extra time to be explicit with the care agency about the type of caregiver you wanted. You even gave them a list of tasks you wanted the caregiver to complete. Obviously, the agency didn’t follow through with your request. Back to square one. You get to take more time to hire a different agency who will hopefully listen to you.
53:28 Pamela D. Wilson: Next, Mom needs a medical procedure and the only time available is 11 o’clock. You have to take another day off work. Your supervisor isn’t happy. You’re reminded that you’ve used up all of your vacation time, and this day is without pay. You are not comfortable doing this, but you don’t have another choice. You’re worried you might lose your job.
53:48 Pamela D. Wilson: Next, your dad is in the hospital. He’s having a reaction to a medication. You ask what it is, and it’s exactly the medication you told the nurse that your father was allergic to. You even wrote a note. Guess who prescribed the medication without looking at the chart? A doctor who was rushed and gave the order to the nurse.
54:08 Pamela D. Wilson: Next, you applied for Medicaid for your elderly mother. You even went to the extent of hand delivering that application. You got a receipt. Four weeks later, you call to find out the status and guess what? They have lost the application. They can’t find it anywhere. The clerk tells you that, “Well, one of the workers left her job. She probably threw it out when she was cleaning her desk.”
54:34 Pamela D. Wilson: These and many more are the reasons that caregivers feel that Caring for An Elderly Mother Is Killing Me. My suggestion, avoid the seven behaviors that lead to emotionally draining care situations. Have uncomfortable conversations with your elderly mothers, your fathers, spouses, and your family. Learn to set some boundaries. Hold healthcare providers accountable and end the cycle of Caring for My Elderly Mother Is Killing Me.
55:02 Pamela D. Wilson: Next week, we’re going to be talking about advocating for elderly loved ones in nursing homes. Listeners, you are truly amazing. The care that you provide to elderly parents, spouses, grandparents, and clients is so needed. Thank you for being interested in being proactive about caregiving and health. Share The Caring Generation with your family and your workplace, so that we can make caregiving something that we all talk about.
55:28 Pamela D. Wilson: Podcasts of all the shows are on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com. 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. I look forward to being with you again next Wednesday evening. Invite your family and friends to join us. God bless you all, sleep well tonight and have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are together again.
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