Dealing With Negative Elderly Parents – Oct 9, 2019

by The Caring Generation | Caregiver Radio Programs Caregiving Relationships | 0 comments

The Caring Generation® – Episode 12 October , 2019 On this radio program, Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, shares tips for Dealing With Negative Elderly Parents. Special guest Cara Conway from Paws With a Cause talks about the benefits of service dogs for the elderly and disabled.

To listen to the show, click on the round yellow play button below. To download the show so that you can listen anywhere and share with family, friends, and groups, click on the button (fourth black button from the left) below that looks like a down arrow. 

Dealing With Negative Elderly Parents Radio Show Transcript

00:05 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, but 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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00:49 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. How is everybody this evening? You are 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 the conversation of caring, giving us permission to talk and laugh. Remember, we must laugh about aging, [chuckle] the challenges of caregiving, health, well-being, work, life, family, balance, and everything in between. All important things we should know about life. Please invite your family, friends, co-workers, and others to join us each week on The Caring Generation where we talk about how to be proactive to avoid surprises about health, well-being, caring for ourselves and our loved ones. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults are on my website at pameladwilson.com.

01:45 Pamela D Wilson: This week, we’ll be talking about insights for dealing with negative elderly parents. Elderly parents experience changes in health, both physical and mental, in their daily routines that can be upsetting and worrisome. The emotional effects of these changes can result in behaviors that we as adult children view as negative. There may also be other situations where parents have had long-standing negative behaviors that were not noticed by children, because of infrequent contact, but are noticeable today when we as children have ongoing, and more frequent contact. The passing of time changes roles within families when caregiving becomes a need.

02:30 Pamela D Wilson: Our elderly parents, they raised, and they took care of us. Now, as adult children when we come together with our elderly parents these relationships can be strained. This life transition can toss any normal life up into the air and feel burdensome for the caregiver and for the elderly parent. In the second segment of this hour, we’ll visit with special guest, Cara Conway. She’s the public relations and social media coordinator for Paws with A Cause. Paws with a Cause is a national non-profit that supports people with disabilities through custom trained assistance dogs. The website is pawswithacause.org. They’re currently celebrating their 40th anniversary, and they have placed over 3000 specially trained assistance dogs. Let’s continue our conversation about how and why caregiving situations can be perceived as negative so that we can move forward to understand how to make these situations better. Let’s talk about the definition of caregiving burden and grief. Grieving and caregiving are two ideas that we normally don’t put together. But if we think about the role of being a caregiver and an elderly parent who is experiencing physical and mental declines, it’s a lot easier to see that grieving is part of that relationship.

03:54 Pamela D Wilson: The caregiver is trading part of their life to become a caregiver. The elderly parent is facing a transition that involves poor or declining health, being able to do less, having to rely on others for help. None of us want to do that. When we look at the situation from a perspective of loss and grief, it can be easier to see where negative feelings and attitudes can enter into caregiving relationships. Feelings of burden can arise when caregivers experience loss of control over their lives, when they feel isolated, trapped, or even— imagine this— resentful.

04:29 Pamela D Wilson: The roles and responsibilities and tasks of being a caregiver can quickly transfer into feelings of overload because caregivers are working full-time. Many of them are adding another 20 or more hours of additional work as caregivers every single week. If you missed the show called When Work and Caregiving Collide, the podcast is on my website at pameladwilson.com. Because trying to balance caregiving responsibilities and work can result in so much stress when caregivers become fearful about job security. For spousal caregivers, those who are taking care of a husband or a wife, maybe with memory loss or another health issue, that day-in-day-out stress can result in physical and emotional health issues, and even anger.

05:23 Pamela D Wilson: Caregivers also experience health issues that might include feelings of anxiety or depression, in addition to their health getting worse. A stressed caregiver and a worried and negative elderly parent, oh my gosh, what a challenging combination that can be. Let’s look at what might be viewed as negative behaviors of elderly parents and spouses and how we might be able to improve that situation. The first group of negative behaviors falls into the area of speaking— verbal communication, anger, yelling, negative, or abusive statements made to the caregiver.

06:00 Pamela D Wilson: And the reason for that might be honestly that an elderly parent or a spouse, they’re also stressed or frustrated and they don’t know how to express their frustration in what we would call a positive or constructive manner. That stress makes us feel frustrated or negative when we have a problem or when we’re actually trying to solve other issues. It can feel overwhelming like, we’re not getting anywhere. And when we feel like that, when there’s a situation where there doesn’t appear to be a solution, we all can feel lost, hopeless, helpless. There are also other situations where an elderly parent may have experienced lifelong depression, and it was never diagnosed. And now that the children are involved, oh, my gosh, all the moods, all the negativity, so noticeable.

06:54 Pamela D Wilson: This is when we have to look at investigating and really being curious to figure out what’s going on and why the parents are so negative. If we’re the caregiver, we know that our negativity results from all the extra work we’re doing and how that affects our lives. But for our elderly parent, hmm, it can be a guessing game, fear might be part of the issue. But we’re not going to know until we actually ask and, more importantly, empathize. Have a conversation with your elderly parent, ask about the negative feelings, take notes, don’t interrupt, don’t judge, don’t make suggestions. Just listen. You might be surprised to hear that an elderly parent or a spouse is frustrated about their health, they might feel lonely or isolated, feel like, of course, the caregiver should be doing more, which may not always be possible. Then you want to ask about the concerns, find out if there’s any way or if they have any ideas about how to resolve the concerns?

07:57 Pamela D Wilson: There also may be an undiagnosed medical issue that’s causing the negativity or the inability to come up with a solution. A doctor appointment is a really good idea, especially if this hasn’t happened, because you can make an appointment to rule out what we call undiagnosed medical conditions. So that could be a urinary tract infection, it could be something else but talk with the doctor about the mood. Try to rule out the depression. Talk about other health issues, just to see if there are other solutions or recommendations that you should be hearing. Investigate the causes to start a point to improve relationship stress and decrease negativity. When you’re looking at health issues for an elderly parent or a spouse, do the same thing for yourself. If you haven’t been feeling well. If you have mood swings. If you suspect depression, get to the doctor.

08:54 Pamela D Wilson: In the second half of the program, I’ll share more positive steps that caregivers can take to move caregiving situations from negative to positive. Coming up after this break, we’ll talk about service dogs, also called trained assistance dogs with Cara Conway of Paws with A Cause. They train service dogs to assist people who have multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, rheumatoid degeneration, ALS, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, hearing loss, and many other conditions.

09:26 Pamela D Wilson: You’re listening to The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. You can listen to past podcasts of the shows on my website at pameladwilson.com. You can go to the Media Tab and then The Caring Generation radio program, you can find them there. Also, a lot of listeners ask me for reminders about how to remember to show up for the show every week? Well, that’s actually really quite easy. You can go to my Facebook page, which is PamelaDWilson.page, on there I post events. So, every weekly radio show is posted there, along with the guests and the show information. All you have to do is sign up for the event, and you’ll get a reminder. Stay with me. We’ll be right back coming up after this break, Cara Conway, Paws with A Cause.

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11:46 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 are back to visit with Cara Conway from Paws with A Cause. The website is pawswithacause.org. Cara, welcome to the show.

12:06 Cara Conway: Hi, thank you so much for having me.

12:09 Pamela D Wilson: My pleasure. So, Paws with A Cause has been around for 40 years, can you give a background of how the organization got started and where in the country you are located?

12:18 Cara Conway: So, we are located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, so pretty far from right where you guys are. So, we were actually started like you said, 40 years ago by our founder. He was training a hearing dog for a couple, a deaf couple who wanted to adopt a child, and so, they came to him, they knew that he trained dogs in an obedience sense. But he had never trained dogs; an assistance dog before. He ended up training our first dog, named Crystal, and from there, it just kind of spread. He went over to their house one day, and they were a room full of people, and he was like, “Hey, what’s going on here? And they said, you know, this is a party. What you don’t understand is all of these people are also deaf, and they want hearing dogs as well. So, we started off as Ears for the Deaf, and as the need for assistance dogs grew, we started training different types of assistance dogs, and we needed to the change our name to fit what we did.

13:22 Pamela D Wilson: So it sounds like you started training assistance dogs for hearing, what other types of health conditions today are the dogs trained for?

13:29 Cara Conway: So now we train hearing dogs for deaf or hard of hearing, service dogs for people with mobility issues, seizure-response dogs, and service dogs for children with autism.

13:41 Pamela D Wilson: And you mentioned the first dog, her name was Crystal. Is there a certain breed of dog that is trained and where do you get these dogs from?

13:51 Cara Conway: So, we typically train labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, standard poodles for clients who may have allergies, and then a small breed called papillon. We actually have our own breeding program at Paws. So, all of our dogs, most of our dogs, some are from Paws the entire way. When we first started out, we were rescuing dogs, but we were only seeing about a 1 in 12 success rates. Now with our own breeding program, we’re seeing closer to one to two and one in three success rates.

14:21 Pamela D Wilson: And then for the people who have hearing loss or other types of health conditions, what types of tasks are the dogs trained to perform?

14:30 Cara Conway: So, like you said, it really depends on the type of dog. But a hearing dog would alert their client to their name being said, or a knock on the door, or an ambulance coming down the street. Our service dogs can open doors, turn on lights, retrieve a phone. Our seizure-response clients or dogs excuse me, will not alert to a seizure. So that’s what many people think. Our dogs help after the seizure has happened.

15:00 Cara Conway: So, a lot of our clients will have a device on them, and the dog can actually go grab something similar to a magnet and bring it to the client to help stop that seizure. They can also go and grab medicine, or a water bottle, and some can do a brace command. Where after our client has a seizure, they’re very weak. Typically to get back up, they will place their hands on the dog’s shoulders and hip to actually push themselves back up to a standing position. And then our service dogs for children with autism helps not only the child, but the entire family to navigate that disability through a sense of responsibility. Or make sure the child is with the dog and with a parent;  they’re not bolting off to go explore, and can also help with communication barriers.

15:57 Pamela D Wilson: That just sounds so amazing to me that these dogs can be trained to do all of those tasks. And I know that you have a very extensive training program. Can you explain maybe the first six months of the dog’s life or the first 12 months of the dog’s life? And then we’ll end up going to a break, we can come back and talk about the rest of the training.

16:17 Cara Conway: Yes. So as I mentioned, we do have our own breeding program. So our puppies are all born in volunteer homes, and they are with their, what we call, a volunteer host home and their mama dog from birth till eight weeks old. Then they come into Paws, and they are assigned a volunteer foster puppy raiser. So, we rely on volunteers to house our puppies from eight weeks till about 12-14 months. And they, when they’re in the homes with a volunteer foster puppy raiser they’re working on basic obedience and socialization. But really just learning how to love someone, so they can then go on to love their client someday.

17:02 Pamela D Wilson: Do the volunteers, just out of curiosity, do they ever get so attached, they don’t want to give them away?

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17:08 Cara Conway: I mean, yes, of course. You’re spending all of this time for a year loving on that dog, and putting energy into that dog. But we like to say that you may need one box of tissues on what we call turn in day when you give the dog back. But then you need two boxes of issues when you find out your dog has been matched with their client. A lot of people say that this is right up there with their wedding day and the day that they’ve had their child.

17:38 Pamela D Wilson: Oh, my gosh. And so, do the volunteers actually get to meet the person at the end of the training period who the dog that they helped, who, you know, who that dog goes to?

7:50 Cara Conway: So, we leave that up to our clients. Once our client has had their dog and they become certified, which I’ll touch on after the break, we give the volunteer foster puppy’s contact information to the client. And then it’s on the client to reach out. Because we really want to respect their privacy as well. Typically, the clients do choose to reach out, but sometimes they don’t, and they just kind of want to get on with their normal life.

18:15 Pamela D Wilson: That makes so much sense. We will continue our conversation with Cara Conway of Paws with A Cause after this break. The website is pawswithacause.org. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. Podcast replays of The Caring Generation are available for listening on my website, PamelaDWilson.com. You can also download them there and take them with you. Because my goal is to make The Caring Generation available and convenient for you wherever you are, at the gym, driving in the car, with your aging parents, or in a care community. Please share details about The Caring Generation radio program live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Share The Caring Generation with family, friends, your workplace, social groups, churches, and everyone you know, because we’re all going to be a caregiver or need care sooner or later. We’ll be right back after this break.

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21:23 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I’m your host, you’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. We’ll continue our conversation with Cara Conway from Paws with A Cause. The website is pawswithacause.org. So, Cara, we talked about the first 8 to 14 months of the dog’s life with a volunteer, what happens after that for the training?

21:52 Cara Conway: So, once our volunteers turn back in their dogs, they’re between 12 and 14 months. Our dogs actually then go to prison, and we mean prison. We are partnered with five prisons in Michigan, and our dogs go and live with two inmates in their bunks for four months at a time. While they’re in prison, they are really honing in on that obedience that their foster puppy raiser started and trained them with. And then, after those four months, our dogs come back to our facility in Michigan, and they are getting looked at by our trainers.

22:28 Cara Conway: So, along the whole way, we’re looking at temperament of the dog and the health of the dog, and that’s kind of when we start to make our decisions if the dog is going to continue as a Paws assistance dog, or if it will go on and be purposely placed in another working career. So, for our dogs that aren’t going to make it as a Paws assistance dog, either the hearing dogs, or service dogs, a response dog, or service dog for children with autism, we’re actually partnered with other organizations to keep the dogs working on, arson detection, or working in a courthouse.

23:08 Cara Conway: But if the dog is going to stay in our program, then they are paired with one of our senior staff trainers, and our trainers work with them for about six months. And they’re also working with our client services department to find a perfect match. So, all of our dogs or custom trained, so their client, so our trainers work really closely with our client services team to make sure that we are finding the perfect match for that dog and the client. Because it wouldn’t make sense to have a really high energy dog with someone who may like to stay at home and read more often. And so, once that perfect match has been made, then our trainers go back and work on the customized training that the dog needs to best suit their clients.

23:55 Pamela D Wilson: The amount of training that you do is amazing. What is the cost or the value of that training?

24:02 Cara Conway: So, our dogs are typically placed when they’re about two-and-a-half to three years old, and we value that our dogs are about $30,000. But because of generous donations, we do place our dogs at absolutely no cost to our clients.

24:18 Pamela D Wilson: Can you share some other requirements? I noticed, I was looking on your website, and so the dogs that are placed can’t be placed in a home that has another dog. What are some of the other requirements?

24:30 Cara Conway: Yes, so, as you said, you can’t place a dog, we will not place one of our assistance dogs with a home, in a home that already has a dog. But if they have a cat, that’s totally fine. We actually have two cats on, four cats on campus that help with dog distraction and lets our dogs get used to being around them. As for specific qualifications, that kind of goes by the type of dog you’re looking for. So, I would definitely recommend people to check out our website pawswithacause.org for more details on that. Our website has a load of information and can be really helpful for someone who’s looking into getting an assistance dog.

25:09 Pamela D Wilson: And talk about how people go to your website and apply, if there’s a waiting period and then just kind of what that process is?

25:17 Cara Conway: So, we are on an open enrollment period. So, our open enrollment for 2020 will be January till March. And at that time, they can go online and fill out a application, and then our client services team will assess it, and then if they’re, looks like they’re going to get matched for our program, they will follow up.

25:44 Pamela D Wilson: And then, so, do the, do your staff ever—I would imagine they would— but I have to ask the question. Do they ever go to the home of the person that the dog will reside with and do a personal interview?

25:55 Cara Conway: Yes, so we interview our clients before they are before they get their Paws dog. We call it a needs assessment. So, we’re seeing even how high the light switches are up on the walls. And then after the dog has been placed with the client, we have field reps across the country that goes in and works with the client and the dog for the first six to eight months of the placement, who, we like to say we trained the dog, but now we have to train the human. And get the dog used to working with someone. So they go in there and work together for about six to eight months until they become certified, and then after that we go in every two years to re-certify the client and make sure that the dog is still happy and healthy and that he’s still, they’re still serving their client in the best way possible.

26:45 Pamela D Wilson: And I imagine there might be some people listening who would like to volunteer, how would they do that?

26:53 Cara Conway: So, we are always looking for volunteer foster puppy raisers. We are looking for those in very specific states. So, I would encourage you to visit the website again and make sure that we are placing puppies in your state, but it’s really a life-changing opportunity.

27:10 Pamela D Wilson: And then, the volunteer, so let’s say they get finished with their dog at eight to 12 to 14 months, can they volunteer again?

27:20 Cara Conway: Oh, absolutely. We have a ton of volunteers that take a puppy again. Typically, right away after turning in their dog, or they’ll even do a little bit of an overlap to make that transition easier.

27:33 Pamela D Wilson: Fabulous. Give your website, give your phone number so that people can contact you, Cara.

27:38 Cara Conway: Yes, so we are at pawswithacause.org, 616-877-7297, and we’re also on Facebook, and we’re very active on there, so follow us at Paws with A Cause.

27:52 Pamela D Wilson: Awesome, thank you, Cara, thank you so much for being with us, I appreciate it. Coming up after this break, we’ll talk about tips to turn relationships with negative elderly parents into positive relationships. Podcast replays of this show will be available on my website, along with the transcript so that you can listen, share, download, and tell everyone about Paws with A Cause. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio show live on BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults is on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. You’ll find my caregiving library with hundreds of helpful articles, my online support groups, my courses, and you can also check out my daily Facebook Live videos on my Facebook page, which is PamelaDWilson.page. There are over 100 videos on all types of subjects there for you to watch and share with others and please again follow Paws with A Cause on Facebook. We’ll be right back after this break.

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31:16 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation is a place where we share tips and information about health, well-being, and all things related to being a caregiver. Help, hope, and support for caregivers are available on my website at pameladwilson.com. I want to thank Cara Conway of Paws with A Cause, who joined us to talk about service dogs. You can go to their website, it’s pawswithacause.org, and if you’re interested in volunteering, make sure you call and talk to Cara. Also, if you have an immediate need, you can also check with a local service dog organization in your area. We’re back talking about dealing with negative elderly parents, and how to turn situations from negative to positive. Let’s return to the idea of problem-solving and what to do next. We’ll start with the idea of a parent refusing to go to the doctor, or really just plain refusing everything. Telling you that they’re okay, they don’t need any help, and you’re thinking, “Oh my gosh, you need help.”

32:28 Pamela D Wilson: This area of refusals it can be emotionally stressful for the caregiver and for the elderly parent, especially if there’s a belief that there is a need for a doctor appointment, receiving medical care, or really any time of help. And to move to the positive we want to approach this subject as always from a point of love and concern. Instead of telling a loved one that they are ignoring their health, or doing something wrong, we talk from love. “Mom or dad, I love you, but I’m concerned about what might happen if you don’t get medical care and treatment that could help you feel better and be more positive. Mom or dad, I know you don’t think you need any care or help. I don’t know if I can help you stay at home if your health continues to get worse.” Then you can ask the question, “mom or dad, are you thinking that living in a care community or a nursing home might be something that you want to do? “

33:25 Pamela D Wilson: Sometimes, it does take that type of consequential discussion to get an elderly parent or a spouse to think about the consequences of their actions and how they might actually participate to make the situation better. As caregivers, we can only do so much, and that is the infuriating part. We want to fix the problem, solve the concern, make things better, but imagine this—we can’t do it without the participation and help of our aging parent or loved one. These care refusals can make caregivers feel like the situation with elderly parents or spouses are out of control or negative. Because our parents or spouses might have their own ideas about how to do things that probably resulted from years of prior experience, where what they did actually worked out okay. It is difficult for elderly loved ones to accept that health and well-being change, and that because of these changes, everybody involved has to consider thinking differently, or approaching situations differently. How many of us are stuck in our ways? How many of us realize that change is, oh, so very difficult? If change is difficult for us at 30, 40, 50, 60, how do you think we will respond to change when we are 70, 80, or 90? There may come to a point where, with our elderly parents, we have to give up asking for participation, at least for a short period of time.

34:55 Pamela D Wilson: I always say never totally give up on trying to make positive changes, because our parents might be afraid of the changes that they’re seeing and really just not know what to do. That situation might come down to waiting for something to happen that really does force a change in the situation. Unfortunately, that something to happen might be an event with serious consequences. I’ve had clients refuse care and help, who then fell and broke a hip and never returned to their home. Those decisions represent choice. I always say that everybody has the right to make poor choices and poor decisions. It’s part of being human. We also then, though, have to face the consequences and respond to the effects of our decisions, both good and bad. I’m so empathetic that making peace with a parent’s refusal to get medical care or to accept help—it might feel like we’re ignoring the situation or putting on blinders—even though we’re not. Because we know something will happen sooner or later. The downside is that we know that whatever happens, it will be our responsibility to solve. Meaning that we’ll be the one who provides more care, arranges for more care, takes on more responsibilities. Because the choices of our elderly parents and spouses, they do affect everybody, us and them.

36:20 Pamela D Wilson: And that’s where we can always try to attempt a conversation that says, “Mom or dad, I know you want to make your own choices. I would want to do the same thing, I’m doing my best to be able to help you, but I work full-time, I have my family to take care of. We may have to look at other alternatives instead of me, like, paying for care in the home, or maybe even moving out of your home. I don’t want to sound selfish, but I’d rather find a way that we can work with each other, so that you feel that your choices are being honored. And so, I feel like I can continue to be a caregiver and care for my family without neglecting all of my responsibilities and duties.”

37:04 Pamela D Wilson: This is really hard for a caregiver to do, and I smile at this because caregivers are typically not really good at setting boundaries. This is how caregivers get into these situations in the first place. Because caregivers want to be helpful. We feel a sense of responsibility. This is good, but when it’s not good is when the behaviors of negative elderly parents or spouses places the health, the well-being, or the work-life of the caregiver at risk. After this break we’ll continue talking more about dealing with negative elderly parents and learning to set boundaries. Setting boundaries is a skill that all caregivers can and must learn, so that the stress, the overwhelm, and the burnout doesn’t get to a point where it’s miserable.

37:54 Pamela D Wilson: Reminder, podcast replays of past shows, and show transcripts are available at my website, which is PamelaDWilson.com. Please share The Caring Generation with everyone that you know so that we can make caregiving something that we all talk about. You can also follow me on social media, on Facebook, check out my daily live videos, and follow me. The page is PamelaDWilson.page. On Twitter, you can find me at Caregivingspeak. On Instagram, I am WilsonPamelaD. On LinkedIn, I am pameladwilsoncaregiverexpert.  My goal is really to be wherever you are. 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. For a weekly reminder of the show, visit my Facebook page, PamelaDWilson.page, and check out the event section. We’ll be right back after this break.

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41:12 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 talking about dealing with negative elderly parents and talking about the benefit of setting boundaries in caregiving situations. How many of you feel comfortable saying, no? No is not a word that is usually found in the vocabulary of caregivers. I prefer to use “yes, but,” which asks for participation from the person who needs care. Most caregivers say yes to their own detriment. What this means is that their physical and mental health suffer, because they can’t say no, or “yes, but.” Let’s start out by talking about elderly parents who want constant attention and who are very demanding because this does happen. It’s likely that the situation was a lifelong pattern that might have been hidden by the relationship between your parents. You may have had little glimpses into mom being demanding of your father’s attention, but maybe you didn’t see the full extent or vice versa. When one parent passes away leaving the other alone is usually the time that adult children fully understand the demands and what happened during the marriage of their parents.

42:34 Pamela D Wilson: This is the point when family relationships can easily go sideways unless the adult child can start setting boundaries in the situation by saying yes, with buts or limits. The caregivers have, in a sense taught their person or their parent that demanding behavior is okay. In a sense the caregiver taught mom or dad that they will always say yes. Because the response has always been yes. Let’s say that the situation has come to this point. You, as the caregiver kept innocently saying yes, yes, and yes, and responding to all of the demands. What now? How do you turn this situation around, because you’re feeling exhausted, burned out, and maybe a little resentful? Your moods are up and down. You have bad days. You have good days. If you’re in this situation, I understand how you feel, and I understand how it happened because you also might be living this stress 24/7. I suggest that you go through the same exercise with yourself as you did with your parents. What is frustrating, and what two or three things can you do to make it better? Many caregivers who are burned out, go back and forth between days where they love and hate aging parents and spouses, and then, oh my gosh, they feel guilty because they felt angry.

44:00 Pamela D Wilson: Caregiving can feel like this love and hate relationship. And again, I laugh about that, because one day we love our aging parent, then we feel guilty, then we hate them for what they’re doing. It’s all the fact that caregivers can feel so powerless, and so, we want to talk about setting boundaries and taking control to rebalance that situation, which is probably going to feel a little uncomfortable, a little impossible, but I know that you can make it happen. Because it’s also going to feel uncomfortable for your elderly parent or a spouse who up until now always heard, yes. The first step is to spend some time with yourself. Be realistic about the situation. Ask yourself how much time you’re committing? What things can only you do? What can your elderly parent or spouse do, and have you taken away so much work and responsibility because it was easier and quicker on you? And now that has backfired because your loved one is so much more dependent on you. So, it’s kind of a reverse training. So, help your parent help themselves. Try to stop all of the emergencies that really aren’t emergencies. Those things that can wait like, running out of toilet paper or some other item.

45:14 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s say that you receive a phone call in the middle of the day as if the world was coming to an end from your parent. You feel like you have no choice but to leave work to solve the problem. What if instead, you planned ahead, you completed a weekly inventory of items, so that toilet paper doesn’t run out? What if you talked with your parents about the definition of an emergency, and the definition of, “this is something that can wait until after work or until the weekend?” Because by moving from this idea of emergency to routine, you change the dynamic of the situation. This helps you as the caregiver feel more in control. It can also help your parents feel more independent. Imagine that! It can provide that relief that you need from all of these constant demands. Making this change can be so positive. This exercise works to un-train learned behaviors that have gone beyond reasonable. Let’s talk about emergency daily phone calls to time spent at the home of an elderly parent.

46:19 Pamela D Wilson: If you’re a spouse, this time that you spend may be the time that your loved one wants all of your attention. But that attention is not always absolutely necessary, meaning that if you got away for a few hours, your spouse would be okay. They may not like being alone, but there really isn’t any danger of anything happening. The goal is to increase the “you time.” So, look at the time that you devote. Think of ways to consolidate and manage the time and the projects so that the time decreases, and you have more you time. Let’s say that you only want to visit your elderly parents once a week, and you’re trying to figure out how to do that. Well, you set boundaries, you choose days of the week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, you plan ahead. You group your shopping, and you tell your parents, “I love you, but I need more time for my own well-being so that I can do my hobbies, so that I can socialize, so that I can enjoy my life.” And you talk about how much you love them, because this is a really hard change for aging parents when you’ve been saying yes all the time, and now you’re having to change to the idea of saying no.

47:29 Pamela D Wilson: The other alternative is, you can find volunteers. You might be able to find some paid help. The idea of outside help, your parents may not like that idea, because there might be a cost, but the relief is on the stress for you as the caregiver. And think of this, your parents might like to have somebody else show up. Somebody else to listen to their stories. Somebody else that they can actually entertain. [chuckle] We will continue to talk about boundary setting and schedules in our next segment. Please share The Caring Generation with your family, your friends, your coworkers, businesses where you work, your social groups, and churches. Because we really do need to make caregiving something we talk about. It’s a generational issue between generations of families. So, the adult child, their children, the aging parents, the grandparents. Also, if you work in an assisted living or a care community, please share the program with your supervisors and the activity staff. The podcasts are a great positive source of helpful information and education for all of your co-workers, your residents, and your family members.

48:37 Pamela D Wilson: Information is found on my website, PamelaDWilson.com, courses, support groups, the radio show, and more. 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. Again, the podcasts are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com under the Media and The Caring Generation radio program. Stay with me, we’ll be right back.

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51:20 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Let’s continue talking about having boundary discussions and scheduling a conversation with an elderly parent or a spouse. You always want to have a backup plan, because the conversation may be difficult. You always want to hope for the best. The goal of your elderly parent may honestly be not to change a thing. To have you continue to say yes because it’s easier for them. They might try to talk you out of making changes or even make you feel guilty, so that you do continue to do everything. So, you want to have a plan of how you will respond, and it goes something like this. “Mom, dad, husband, wife, I hear your concerns. My concerns are equally as important, and this is my plan. I want to work together to make this work because I have to decrease my time. I need more me time because my mental and physical health, they’re suffering, as well as my work, my family, my relationships. You’re so important to me, but I’m also important, and if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t continue to take care of you. Let’s find a way to work this out.”

52:52 Pamela D Wilson: You may have to re-approach this week after week for a few weeks so that you can make the situation more possible, and if your loved one does refuse to talk or compromise, which can sometimes happen, then you have to say, “Well, this is the schedule that I’m changing it to, so I’m coming over Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I’ll be over on the weekend.” You have to really do everything to hold to your plan as uncomfortable as it might feel.

53:19 Pamela D Wilson: And worst case, like we talked, you can get some volunteers, maybe some paid caregivers who can come and even still then, your parents might refuse the help. But let them refuse. You offered, let them live with the consequences of not having any help. That may give them enough time to really think about it, to think about the consequences of not having any help versus having you help versus having a volunteer or a paid caregiver. It can help in the long run, because so many family conversations don’t include the consequences. So., the consequences of having a fall, maybe having to go to a nursing home, and that is what nobody wants.

54:13 Pamela D Wilson: Everybody always wants to stay at home. Or the simple consequences of your parent can’t get down the steps to do the laundry. They need help with medications. They need help getting groceries from the grocery store. All of these things are things that we can talk about and that we should be comfortable talking about. As a caregiver, you want to make sure that you set boundaries, have those conversations, implement your plans because no situation is ever going to be perfect or without any type of worries. Don’t give up. You can do this. It is possible. If no one has told you that you are amazing as a caregiver, or hasn’t thanked you this week, for everything that you do and everything that you do for your aging parents and spouses, let me say thank you. Especially to those caregivers who find themselves dealing with negative elderly parents or their professionals, the CNAs, the care professionals who have challenging clients, and who work in care communities. For these situations, the caregiver has to make the change.

55:24 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host, 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 Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Tell everybody you know about the show and the podcasts, visit my website PamelaDWilson.com for helpful information. I look forward to being with you again next Wednesday evening. God bless you all, sleep well tonight and have a fabulous day tomorrow.

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55:56 Announcer: Tune in each week for The Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson. Come join the conversation and see how Pamela can provide solutions and peace of mind for everyone, here on Pamela D. Wilson’s The Caring Generation.

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Looking for more help managing family relationships? You’ll find what you are looking for in The Caring Generation® library in the section called Family Relationships.

About Pamela Wilson

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