Juggling Work and Finding Caregiver Support
The Caring Generation® – Episode 22 January 15, 2020, On this caregiving radio program Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert shares Tips for Juggling Work and Caregiving. Guest Rita Choula, Director of Caregiving Projects, with the AARP Public Policy Institute shares insights into Family Caregiver Support from the AARP Valuing the Invaluable 2019 update.
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Tips for Juggling Work and Caregiving
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. 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 are 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.
Valuing Caregivers Who Do Everything
00:40 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 Tune-in Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversations about health, well-being, caring for ourselves, loved ones, juggling work and caregiving, which is our subject tonight, and everything in between. We tie all this together with humor and laughter that are essential to being a caregiver. Take The Caring Generation with you wherever you go, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Spreaker, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Cast Box, and more. Share the program with your elderly parents and family members. You can download a podcast app to their cellphones, show them how to listen. It’s the perfect way to help begin conversations about caregiving by letting me do the talking for you.
01:37 Pamela D. Wilson: This week, we’ll be talking about juggling work and caregiving from the perspective of taking control of your caregiving situation. Juggling life, work, and caregiving can feel overwhelming. It clogs up our brains. All we think of is that long list of things that we have to do that makes it easy for us to become stuck in a rut where we feel like we’re not getting anything accomplished. I’ll share tips for how to get things done in the second half of the show. We’ll also talk about caregiver concerns of family and friends who are quick to criticize. I call this caregiving shaming. Also, the social isolation that happens as the result of family losses and time that we spend in caregiving activities. I’ll share steps to manage chaotic caregiving situations and tips for how to avoid what I call caregiving time bombs. Those subjects you’d rather not talk about, even though you know you should.
02:33 Pamela D. Wilson: We also welcome back Rita Choula, she is Director of Caregiving Projects for the AARP Public Policy Institute. Rita will share the 2019 update to the AARP series called Valuing the Invaluable. That means you, the caregiver, and the support that you provide to elderly parents and loved ones. If you missed my first interview with Rita, it’s on my website, pameladwilson.com. It’s on The Caring Generation radio show called Why is Caregiving so Exhausting?
03:04 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s talk about family caregiving relationships, which caregivers tell me are a major concern and a distraction. One of my favorite sayings is that “It takes another caregiver to understand the experience of a caregiver.” Until we have been that caregiver 24/7, 20 hours a week, 40 hours a week, it’s really difficult to know what another caregiver goes through. How many of you have family or friends who give you unsolicited caregiving advice? Family members can be so quick to tell us what we should be doing. What we’re doing wrong. How we should be doing it different. When we are actually the one in there in the trenches, taking care of an elderly parent or a spouse. I call these people caregivers shamers. Their goal really isn’t to help us as a caregiver; their goal is to make us feel bad about what we’re doing. Sometimes because they feel guilty that they are not helping, even though the caregiver shamer, they won’t lift a finger to help us. They just talk and talk and talk. And they don’t want to listen. They don’t want to hear anything, not how tired we might feel as a caregiver. Not that we need help, not that we are exhausted. They don’t want to hear anything about what we’re doing or the care that we do, and when we express frustrations in front of them, all they say is, “Well, you shouldn’t feel that way.”
04:35 Pamela D. Wilson: Hiding our emotions as caregivers is harmful to a caregiving situations. For example, your brother or sister may say, “Oh, it can’t be that hard to take care of mom or dad,” when they don’t even show up. Or they say, “You shouldn’t be frustrated with everything that you’re doing. You shouldn’t feel angry with mom or dad. You shouldn’t feel impatient.” It’s all of these should not, should not, should not, when they don’t lift a finger. What they don’t realize is that as a caregiver, our relationship with the person that we are caring for changes. It changes from being a daughter, a son, a husband, or a wife, to a caregiver. And as caregivers, we’re the ones that are grieving the loss of the relationship with our parents or our husband or wife, because it transitions us to being focused on tasks that I call juggling work and caregiving. And the work isn’t always paid work. But the shamers, they don’t see this because they’re not involved in the care. Their life hasn’t changed; it’s normal. But for us, as caregivers, it’s normal for us to grieve the loss of our parents or our spouses, especially those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
05:50 Pamela D. Wilson: For example, because of memory loss, loved ones may not be able to remember shared experiences or things that we did with them. And eventually, as the memory loss progresses, our parent or husband or wife, they may no longer recognize us as who we are, as the son, the daughter, the husband, or a wife. And that is heart-breaking, and the people looking in from the outside. The caregiver shamers, they can’t even begin to understand what we go through. Some caregivers dream for a normal life without the responsibility of being a caregiver. That’s normal. There are days when caregivers wish that an elderly parent or spouse would be more helpful to themselves, or that they would listen to the recommendations of a doctor. Even days when a caregiver — for a minute or two — might wish that an elderly parent or spouse were dead. And then of course, the caregiver feels horribly guilty for thinking about that. Does any of that shock you? Unless you’ve lived the life of a 24/7 caregiver, it can be really difficult to recognize and empathize with the stress and exhaustion that comes along with being a caregiver. If you’re the son or daughter of a parent who is the caregiver, listen to your mom or dad, be empathetic. You don’t have to agree with everything that they’re saying. Just listen. Sometimes a caregiver just wants somebody to listen to them.
07:12 Pamela D. Wilson: How can we, as caregivers, raise up our emotions to be more resilient to the effects of these family members who don’t help us and all the other emotional aspects of juggling work and caregiving? One way to raise up caregiving emotions is to be clear about your responsibilities and the involvement or lack of involvement of unsupportive family members. Refuse to be pulled into their guilt, their drama. A lot of caregiver shamers, they feel guilty in some aspect of their life, and so they’re projecting it on to us as the caregiver. You can stop these conversations as soon as they start. You might remember this one from your parents: “If you don’t have anything nice or positive to say, don’t say anything at all.” Say that to your family member.
08:04 Pamela D. Wilson: I also suggest making and giving the family caregiver a list of everything that you do, and when they start saying, “Oh, it’s not that bad,” hand them the list and say, “Well, what on this list do you want to help me with? What on this list do you want to take over?” It can be so easy for caregivers to enable what I call bad behavior in others by trying to be nice. As a caregiver, your mental health is at risk. Send the guilt, send the drama away by handing your family member a list of tasks that they can take on if they tell you or try to tell you what to do. If you are feeling out of control of caregiving situations and managing time bombs — we’re going to talk about this in the second half of the show. Up after this break, we’ve got Rita Choula from the AARP Public Policy Institute. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. You are with me live on the BBM Global Network channel 100 and Tune-in Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back after this break.
11:26 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You are listening to The Caring Generation coming to you live from the BBM Global Network channel 100 and Tune-in Radio. We’re back to welcome Rita Choula, Director of Caregiving Projects for the AARP Public Policy Institute. We’re going to be talking about the 2019 update to the AARP series, Valuing the Invaluable, about caregivers juggling work and caregiving. Rita, thanks for being with us again.
11:55 Rita Choula: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.
11:58 Pamela D. Wilson: So, the study talks about the number of individuals who are juggling work and caregiving, that that’s growing. What do the trends show about this?
12:07 Rita Choula: The trends are showing that we know that 60% of family caregivers are working either full- or part-time jobs, and I think something to really take into account is that they’re not just working their jobs, but they’re coming home to their caregiving responsibilities. We know that many of these family caregivers are providing more than 20- plus hours a week of family caregiving responsibilities at home. So, you can imagine being on the job, trying to balance, scheduling doctor’s appointments, maybe having to go home and give someone medication, then coming back to work, and then ultimately going home to these care responsibilities. It could be quite challenging and stressful.
12:56 Pamela D. Wilson: So those caregivers who are doing that, taking time off work, going back and forth, has the level of workplace support for family caregivers, is it equal to what I call the level of support for employees who have children and then take time off for that?
13:11 Rita Choula: It definitely is not equal to that. Over the course of the past five years, since we did the previous release, the previous Valuing the Invaluable, we have seen an uptick in the recognition of employers. That they do have these family caregivers, these employees, who are fulfilling this role as family caregivers, but it by no means is equivalent to that of those supporting the level of support for employees that have children. We do see that family caregivers often still don’t feel comfortable in the workplace even expressing or revealing that they are a family caregiver to their fellow peers and colleagues, let alone their managers. So often, when they’re struggling to balance these different things, they’re doing it in secret, and it’s really hard for them to ask for help. But as we see employers recognizing this more, we also see the employers themselves reaching out to organizations such as AARP saying, “What do we need? How can we support our employees in this way?” so that is the positive.
14:24 Rita Choula: And oftentimes, these are done with benefits for those employees, whether it’s back-up care AARP offers. I use it all the time with my children, and they used to use it with my mom, back-up care, that if the home health aide didn’t come, that at a reduced rate, I could call a company and have someone come in and provide that care. Oftentimes, family caregivers have to take their own vacation to take someone to the doctor or provide another type of care. And increasingly, we see employers offering leaves specific for caregiving duties. So even the smallest benefit or recognition that these employees need support go a long way in really helping that family caregiver.
15:18 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, and I’m glad you mentioned the vacation issue because when my parents were alive, my brothers and my sisters would do that. They would take their vacation every year to come to my parents’ home and help out and do projects. So it does. It’s part of life.
15:31 Rita Choula: Absolutely.
15:32 Pamela D. Wilson: The report also mentions that working caregivers they contribute to the care expenses of their parents. Are there numbers on how much working caregivers contribute?
15:43 Rita Choula: Well, we don’t break it down into working caregivers specifically, but we do know that out-of-pocket expenses for family members, it’s quite high. We are looking at family spending, on average $7000 a year on out-of-pocket expenses, and those that are doing long-distance caregiving are spending an even higher number, at almost $12,000 a year. And we also recognize, and I know we’ll be talking about the diversity of caregivers, but we see that younger caregivers, millennials in particular, as well as those from multicultural backgrounds, different racial-ethnic backgrounds, have a higher out-of-pocket spend as well, particularly as it relates to their income. So those out-of-pocket expenses are quite challenging.
16:41 Pamela D. Wilson: Yes, $7000-$12,000 a year, where does that money come from? Is it coming from their savings, or where?
16:48 Rita Choula: Well, it really depends. We know that a lot of people do dip into their savings as a caregiver. Myself, before we were able to really get all the resources together, my husband and I had to pull from my retirement accounts to make sure that my mom was cared for. And it was very difficult. We also know that family sometimes chip in together. And then oftentimes, that’s where a lot of multi-generational housing comes from. Because many people cannot afford to keep their own home or keep their family member or friend in another home. So they come together to live under one roof. So, there are a number of different ways that families do this, but at the end of the day, it’s really at a high cost.
17:42 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s funny that you mentioned the multi-generational housing. I was in a taxi going to a presentation about a month ago, and the taxi driver, we started talking about caregiving. He said that he and his family members moved in with his grandmother for a year to take care of her. It was just amazing.
17:58 Rita Choula: Mm-hmm. Absolutely.
18:01 Pamela D. Wilson: The report also mentions this Medicare Advantage Plan Initiative. I see commercials all the time on TV with Joe Namath. Can you explain that?
18:09 Rita Choula: Sure, and you know this is a very exciting area, we know in the past, Medicare really did not look at the role of the family caregivers at all. Particularly those providing that long-term care. And so what the Medicare Advantage Programs are able to offer are supplemental benefits that aren’t typically covered by Medicare, and some of these things really seek to help the family caregiver of the recipient, and this could include various family caregiver support. Such as respite care, counseling, and caregiver education, as we know that so many family caregivers are not trained to do the task that they’re being asked to do. So, many of these plans,
19:00 Pamela D. Wilson: And Rita, I have interrupt you. We have to head out to a break, I apologize. [chuckle] We’ve got to head out to a break. So when we come back, we’ll finish talking about this Medicare Advantage program. We’ll continue our conversation with Rita Choula. She’s Director of Caregiving Projects for the AARP Public Policy Institute. We’ll be back after this break. I’m Pamela Wilson. You are listening to The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network channel 100 and TuneIn Radio.
21:40 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 Tune-in Radio. We’re back to continue our conversation with Rita Choula from the AARP Public Policy Institute. Rita, before I cut you off, we were talking about the 2019 Medicare Advantage Plan. Can you finish the conversation about that?
22:06 Rita Choula: Sure, I was really actually almost finished. I was just saying that we expect to see additional plans offering benefits under this, particularly for family caregiver support. And so, AARP and others are really keeping a close eye on that because I think a really important aspect of that is educating family caregivers and the beneficiaries of these advantage plans. Because so often, there are benefits and people don’t know about it. So, I think that it’s an opportunity for shows such as yours to really be able to share this information so that people can take advantage of it, as they are covering it. They’re paying for it.
22:53 Pamela D. Wilson: Yes. And we talked earlier about caregivers juggling time off from work. There’s research in your report that talks about working caregivers leaving paid jobs. How many caregivers do that?
23:07 Rita Choula: So, we know from research that about 32%, or one in three, are leaving to care for someone. Any number is too great. We know that so often, the roles and responsibilities associated with providing that care, leave people feeling that they really have no alternative. But it’s so important that family caregivers really take a close look at what the repercussions will be on their own income, on their retirement income, on their social security, and make sure that before they make such a big leap in terms of leaving a job that they have exhausted every other venue or opportunity so that that does not have to happen. Because too often, we see that individuals who do that — when a loved one passes — it may be difficult for that person to get back into the workplace. Or just the benefits that they’ve lost when it comes time for them to need that care, or a time for them to really retire, they’re doing it at a deficit.
24:13 Rita Choula: And again, I say this knowing that it is a challenge, and it is a struggle. I was a younger caregiver, am a younger caregiver, and there have been many times where I’ve thought, “It’s just easier to leave, I just want to do the best for my mom.” But then there is that recognition that there will be an after, and that at the same time, I have to provide that care for myself and for my own family, my children, and my husband.
24:44 Pamela D. Wilson: And women have traditionally represented the larger number of caregivers, but men are coming up in those numbers, and then you also talked about multicultural caregivers. Can you talk about what types of care people are performing – men and then caregivers in general?
25:00 Rita Choula: Sure. We’ve often just focused on that woman being the family caregiver, and they still are in the majority. But we know that 40% of family caregivers are men. And it’s something that we don’t think about. We often cast the brother in the negative role as being the one that isn’t doing anything or just flies in to pay a bill. And while that does happen, we see men that are doing everything. From bathing their mothers to managing, changing catheters for their wives or partners. And so, it’s just really important, and we have the opportunity in this report to really bring to light the diversity of family caregivers. We often hear, “For every caregiver, you’ve seen exactly one caregiver.” And we want to stress the importance, whether it’s in public programs, private services, wherever it is, the touchpoint for that family caregiver, that there’s an understanding that people are individuals and that programs need to be tailored to those various needs.
26:19 Rita Choula: An example around men is so often, we hear that men are the tough guys, and so, we’re hearing from male caregivers that they don’t receive a level of instruction. Because there’s the stereotype that they just get it. But they talk about how hard it is and the struggle it is. And so we need to really recognize those challenges and really provide support to them and outlets for them and other diverse caregivers to get help.
26:51 Pamela D. Wilson: And the population statistics are changing. The report also mentions that there are going be fewer family caregivers. So, quickly, we’ve got about a minute left, what does that mean for older adults who need care if there aren’t going to be enough caregivers?
27:05 Rita Choula: We know that this is a struggle and that we have to supplement through our policies and through organizations such as our employers that we really need to recognize that there is going to be a gap there. And now is the time to strengthen policies to support that and to support the family caregivers that are here, and for those who are aging to be able to provide alternatives to them because, as you say, there will be a gap.
27:41 Pamela D. Wilson: Rita, I thank you so much for joining us. It’s been another awesome conversation. Coming up after this break, we’re going to continue the conversation about caregivers juggling work and caregiving, why caregivers can feel isolated, I’ll share tips for gaining control of caregiving situations, and how to talk about those subjects that you’d rather not talk about. 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. You can catch this and all of our past shows on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. Scroll to the Media tab, look for The Caring Generation. It’s also on all your favorite podcast apps: Apple, Google, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Spreaker, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and more. Stay with me. We’ll be right back after this break.
30:41 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 the place for tips about health, well-being, and caring for aging loved ones, and yourself. Help, hope, and support for juggling work and caregiving are on my website, PamelaDWilson.com.
31:09 Announcer: How many of you, whether you are the caregiver or an older adult, feel isolated, alone, forgotten, or sometimes depressed? Combined with being a caregiver and being an older adult comes the social isolation brought about by aging, juggling work, and caregiving. You might be a caregiving spouse who has little or no outside contact but yet you’re constantly busy with caregiving tasks. We live in a fast-paced world. Until we personally begin to experience the loss of friends and family members that make our circle of life smaller, it can be difficult to understand how family caregivers and elderly parents could possibly feel isolated, alone, or forgotten. What is your family situation? Do you have living grandparents? Both parents? All aunts and uncles? If the answer is yes, you are so blessed. As we age, we will all experience these family losses.
32:08 Pamela D. Wilson: I’ve already lost both sets of grandparents, both of my parents, all of my parents’ brothers and sisters — who were my aunts and uncles. They’re gone. Plus, my oldest brother and sister. Even one of my best friends passed away several years ago of cancer. Experiences, the losses of family and friends, can help us realize that life really is so precious and time is so short. These losses might make us think about our life and our mortality and what end of life is like. While these losses happen to us and our aging parents, life everywhere else goes on. The younger generations of children, they’re busy with their careers in their lives. They may not even have time for us. We might lose a partner, a husband, or a wife, and we feel this isolation that results from all of that, especially if we’re a caregiver. When we trade participation in life for the life of a caregiver, we might give up seeing friends, participating in social activities, going out. Some caregivers give up paid work in caregiving to be a full-time caregiver, which is more work, but you really don’t get paid for it.
33:19 Pamela D. Wilson: Some caregivers are retired spouses who become full-time 24/7 caregivers. Retiring and being a spousal caregiver is really another stage of life where the caregiver can feel forgotten. Imagine retirement: You end a career and a job. All that juggling work and caregiving ends for a new caregiving job, and you may or may not still continue seeing your friends or your colleagues that were associated with work. Activities today involve caring for an elderly parent or a spouse. It consumes your days. The day is over with, and you wonder what happened, what you did. The retired caregiver, you focus your attention 100% on caring for your loved one.
34:04 Pamela D. Wilson: But important to note, all those skills that you used to juggle work and caregiving are valuable in your caregiving life. Because it becomes chaotic as you are interacting with the healthcare system, attending medical appointments, you’re managing household tasks, sometimes you’re in the emergency room or the hospital. You’re also coordinating with other professionals and care agencies. So, learning new skills to manage time and unreasonable expectations and goals really becomes essential to surviving being a caregiver. A lack of control and not having skills is stressful for adult children for spouses who are juggling caregiving work. Primary caregivers, the family caregivers, might be unappreciated by elderly parents because all these people see you doing the work and you make it look easy.
34:54 Pamela D. Wilson: A similar situation exists in the workplace. If you’re a really good employee, a lot of times, what happens? You’re given more work, more responsibility, with the expectation that you’re going to get it done. But in the meantime, in both family and work situations, the elderly parent or your supervisor, they don’t see the strain and the stress that you as the caregiver or that employee are experiencing. All the while, you’re trying to do more and more. You’re putting unreasonable expectations on your abilities. You’re burning out physically and emotionally.
35:26 Pamela D. Wilson: How many of you — does this sound familiar? Are you the person who does everything? What do you do about it? Well, in these situations, and this is hard advice, but instead of being silent and nice, you have to speak up because not speaking up results in physical and emotional illness for you. You might be unable to continue being a caregiver, being unable to work, you might have to leave your career or a job. Not speaking up is not good. So, I suggest creating a list of everything that you do: Routine tasks, special projects. Try to figure out how much time you spend doing that, and rather than being closed-mouth and just suffering, look at the schedule and look to see if you are over-scheduling yourself. Don’t wait to do this until tomorrow, next week, or next month. There’s no perfect time to plan. But creating and planning time, which can feel uncomfortable to do because it’s a change in routine — it can help you so significantly. Don’t wait to make things better. If you look at your time, and you set time expectations and prioritize tasks, that should be a high priority because it can relieve stress.
36:37 Announcer: There’s a technique called the Pomodoro Technique that you may have heard of, and it helps caregivers manage time. What you do is you set aside 25 minutes to focus on creating your list. Try to determine if it’s realistic, are you overestimating your time? But during that 25 minutes, no texting, no answering your phone, no looking at your phone, no checking emails or social media. The idea is to plan your time and to reduce your stress by being more accurate. You can use the timer on your phone to do it. If you have one of those old kitchen timers, you can use that to set the 25 minutes. Then you take a break. You go back for another 25 minutes.
37:19 Pamela D. Wilson: The problem with setting goals is we always tend to overestimate what we can do. Big goals, long lists, but then we drop them because we’re like, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t possibly get all of this done.” So, if you plan your time realistically, ask family members for help create a process that you can try to go through, then you’ll feel a lot less stressed as a caregiver, and you can actually make progress in organizing your time. Whether it’s preparing a week’s worth of meals for a parent, maybe you’re organizing their medication boxes, you’re helping a parent bathe. These tasks will be easier and done more efficiently when you plan.
38:01 Pamela D. Wilson: So we’re going to continue our conversation about juggling work and caregiving. We’ll talk about managing chaos and dealing with caregiving time bombs. Which are those topics that we don’t want to talk about, coming up after this break. Next week, we’re going to be talking about how to keep the mind and brain sharp at any age. We have Katherine Hackett from Temple University who’s going to share information about clinical studies and activities that we should be doing to maintain our mind and our brain. Something that we all need to do, especially if we are stressed-out caregivers or for older adults, worrying about our health and our memory. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m 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 back with more information right after this break.
41:08 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. The Caring Generation comes 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 at PamelaDWilson.com, along with all of the podcast replays of The Caring Generation shows. You can follow me on social media, on Facebook, my page is pameladwilson.page, I have a family caregiving group called The Caregiving Trap. On Twitter, I am caregivingspeak, on Instagram, I am wilsonpamelad, and on LinkedIn, I am Pamela D. Wilson, caregiver expert.
41:43 Pamela D. Wilson: If you are juggling work and caregiving, you know that chaos exists everywhere, even in the workplace. We’re going to talk about how to manage what I call caregiving chaos. As we talked about before, if you’re a high-performing employee or a super dedicated caregiver, that may mean that others have come to rely on you too much. That can be a self-created problem because, as an employee, as a caregiver, you want to be seen as helpful and capable. But when we want more control over a situation, sometimes we take too much control from other people. In this case, our elderly parent, or even a co-worker. You want to let your elderly parents know that you’re there to help but you also need their participation in their care. That you can’t do all these tasks, but things that they can do for themselves, they should still continue to do. Holding elderly parents accountable for being as self-sufficient as they can be is part of caregiving. Because as caregivers, we want to support the independence of our parents. We don’t want to increase their dependence or their reliance on us. But it’s also important for us to maintain an open mind because when things go up in the air and caregiving chaos begins, we might limit choices because we feel stressed or we might refuse to seek outside information.
43:11 Pamela D. Wilson: If we’re willing to take time to look at a situation, there may be more options than A or B. For example, your elderly parent has a fall and fractures a hip. Option one could be going to skilled nursing for rehab to regain their ability to walk, and then come back home. Option two might be return home with in-home therapy and paid in-home care assistance. Option three, a permanent move to an assisted living community because your parent finally realizes that they do need more daily help. Option four, maybe have your elderly parent temporarily move in with you or another family member to see how well they recover before making the decision whether they return home or they go to a care community. Number five might be a family member temporarily moving in with your parent. There are so many options to look at when we are open-minded. Rather than making an immediate decision, ask yourself if the decision can wait 24 hours. Sleep on it.
44:15 Announcer: If you’re juggling work and caregiving, again, like we talked, make uninterrupted time to write a list of options. Do that 25-minute Pomodoro Technique. Even options that might seem a little unusual or crazy. Another plan to get through the chaos is to focus on the most important task first, and then move down your list. That first task could be making a time-sensitive phone call that leads to the next step. In other situations, maybe you don’t have enough information to make a good decision. You might need time to gather information, ask questions, look at options. From a mental perspective, it also is important to consider the what and the why. What needs to be done, and why it needs to be done, and in some cases, does anything really need to be done now, or can it wait? In a situation of chaos, juggling work and caregiving, don’t leave your elderly parent or other family members involved, wondering what you’re doing or wondering about a plan. Talking and communicating is important. Tell your parents what you know. What you don’t know, and when you might have enough information to talk to them about options. Then discuss the options, discuss the plans with the parent, get their feedback. This way, they are more likely to agree with the plan that you’re recommending.
45:35 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s also important, and we know this, but caregiving decisions, they are emotional. In caregiving situations where our parents may tend to worry or become anxious, if we, the caregiver, is positive and confident, we can give our parents a sense that the situation, whatever it is, we can work it out together. Like in the previous example, you can talk about steps to making progress being a process. So steps, instead of talking to your parents about this big goal or project that can totally overwhelm them. Because sometimes our elderly parents, if they have difficulty managing simple tasks on a day-to-day basis, you give them too much information and they just can’t think. They get overwhelmed, and when that happens, they usually say no, or they might refuse. It’s important for you to manage the information that you’re giving them and the communication, and to be positive because your parents rely on you to give them options, to make suggestions, to recommend care decisions.
46:39 Pamela D. Wilson: There’s research out there from Cornell University that talks about as we age, the way that we like to make decisions changes. If we’re younger, we want to look at options, alternatives. We want to look at trade-offs before we make a decision. We want all this information. But older adults, they want to bypass a lot of that sometimes, through delegating the decision to children or avoiding it. This is helpful information to know when we talk to our parents about time bombs and difficult subjects. Because when the older adults age, according to research, they want fewer options, fewer pieces of information. They want to make decisions that are simple, process-oriented. So, present information to your parents in a step-by-step manner. Rather than giving them a long list, give them the best options. Take the ones off the table that don’t matter. Because if you present too much information, it’s gonna be too confusing and they may say no or they may delay or totally avoid making a decision.
47:42 Pamela D. Wilson: We’re going to continue to talk about how to talk to elderly parents about uncomfortable subjects they may want to avoid: Driving, talking about money, care communities. And the same for caregivers, sometimes we don’t want to talk about these subjects. Next week, we’re going to be talking about the mental effects of family caregiving. Katherine Hackett from the Cognitive Neuropsychology Lab at Temple University is going to share research about clinical studies and how to keep our minds at sharp at any age. It’s a subject that we can all benefit from talking about. Helpful information for caregivers in aging adults, you can find it on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. On there, my caregiving library, articles, videos, my blog, online courses, and most importantly, podcasts from The Caring Generation radio show about a number of topics for caring for elderly parents and taking care of yourself as you age.
48:37 Announcer: I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. Just a reminder: Visit my website, PamelaDWilson.com. You are listening to The Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network channel 100 TuneIn Radio. The show is for caregivers, family caregivers, working caregivers, adults who are aging, and everybody who wants to be proactive about health, well-being, and caregiving. Stay with me. We’ll be right back after this break.
51:23 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 PamelaDWilson.com.
51:39 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s continue our conversation about decision-making and caregiving time bombs. The subjects that we or our elderly parents would rather not discuss or might want to delay. The subject of the time bomb may be something that’s time-sensitive. It may be a health concern, a financial concern, maybe an elderly parent driving a car. Why do we avoid these decisions? Well, it’s because they’re difficult, and they are emotional, and we worry about how our parent is going to react. Sometimes this happens because what our elderly parents want might be different from what we want or from what we think that should be done. Sometimes our elderly parents, they can feel like a burden, and they don’t want to place further stress on us. But by avoiding that decision, it doesn’t help the situation. Our parents may feel like they don’t want to upset us. We may feel like we don’t want to upset them, and sometimes our elderly parents just can’t evaluate the information. They don’t have enough options. So it’s better not to delay. In situations where parents do delay, something might happen to force the situation.
52:52 Pamela D. Wilson: For example, let’s say that the decision to remain at home is on the plate, or moving to a care community. Your parent has lived in that house for 40 years. It’s filled with all these sentimental items that they don’t want to have to give away. But the challenge is when these things happen and our parents age, sometimes decisions happen. Doors open; doors close. Let’s say your parent has a hip fracture, a heart attack, or an injury, and that means that they can’t live independently anymore. It means that they need care, and so, by talking about this before the injury happens or before the fracture happens, you actually have a plan and you’re not scrambling in all of this chaos. Where if you avoid it and your parent is in the hospital or in the emergency room — you’re there, you’re stressed, you’re making decisions. You don’t know if you’re making the right decisions. It’s better to plan ahead because caregiving is filled with the unexpected. That being said, though, how we can plan as much as possible? We have to be realistic about our care situations because there’s always something that can happen out of our control. So, it’s important to talk about all of these situations, how to pay for care, in-home caregivers, moving to a care community, is there money to pay for all this, so that you can have the discussions before you need them.
54:19 Pamela D. Wilson: Next week, we’re going talk about the mental aspects of being a caregiver and ways that being a caregiver can actually result in emotional issues, physical issues, health issues for the caregivers. I’ll share more tips for managing through difficult caregiving situations. Listeners and caregivers, I thank you for everything that you do every day, every week, as a caregiver, and in helping others/ Your loved ones, the patients you care for, they so appreciate your time. Please do share The Caring Generation with your family, your friends, your workplace, so that we can make caregiving something that we talk about. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults is on my website. There are articles, videos, podcasts there. All of the past shows of The Caring Generation radio program are there. Where we talk about caregiving emotions, how to pay for care, assisted living communities, medications in the elderly, there are so many subjects that are helpful there for you. You can download a podcast app, Google or Apple. Put that app on the cellphone of your parent or your family member, help them listen and share the information with your workplace.
55:32 Pamela D. Wilson: I’m Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker. I look forward to being with you again next Wednesday evening. Please invite your friends and family to join us. God bless you all, sleep well tonight. I hope you have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are together again.
55:52 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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