Managing Work-Life Balance For Working Caregivers – Aug 28, 2019
The Caring Generation® – Episode 6 August 28, 2019 On this caregiving radio program Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, talks about Managing Work-Life Balance for Working Caregivers. Special guest Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez talks about preventing midlife health concerns and disability.
Managing Work-Life Balance for Caregivers Radio Show Transcript
00:04 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson is here to focus on the conversation of 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.
00:49 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I am your host. You are listening to the Caring Generation radio program for caregivers, and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio on the BBM Global Network page. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring, giving us permission to talk and laugh about aging, the challenges of caregiving, managing our health and everything that comes in between. These are all important things that we should know about life. Know that you’re not alone. You’re in exactly the right place to share stories and become more informed. Please invite your family, friends, co-workers, and others to join us each week on The Caring Generation because needing care or becoming a caregiver can turn our world totally upside down. Helpful information and tips, solutions, to caregiving problems are on my website at pameladwilson.com.
01:51 Pamela D. Wilson: This week, we’ll be talking about being a working caregiver and that elusive idea of finding work-life balance, which can be difficult to do before we add being a caregiver to our list of things to do and our list of roles and responsibilities. Acknowledging that caregiving is a life transition seems to be missing from family and career discussions. Caregiving, especially for aging parents, is not thought of until we’re actually doing it or it’s thought of as a family matter for families to manage. In our second segment of this hour, we’ll visit with a special guest, Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez about midlife health issues. How to prevent physical declines that can result in disability and affect our ability to continue to work, take care of our families, and ourselves. Especially for us women who are so busy. Dr. Karvonen-Gutierrez is an assistant professor of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. Her research seeks to understand the timing and onset of poor health outcomes among midlife women and how health during midlife results in the quality of health in our later years.
03:12 Pamela D. Wilson: Midlife disability is becoming more common because of chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, COPD and breathing issues, arthritis, osteoporosis, depression. There are so many things that can cause midlife disability, and the word disability, it’s one of those medical speak terms. In simple terms, what it means is that chronic diseases can result in difficulty with mobility, our ability to get around, to perform physical activities. How many of us find it difficult to stoop, bend, or kneel? How many of us can comfortably sit or stand for long periods of time without getting stiff or having our feet or legs aching? How many of us can walk five blocks, climb 20 stairs, lift or carry an item that weighs five or 10 pounds without getting out of breath? Statistics show that more than 40% of people between the ages of 50 and 64 say that it’s difficult for them to complete these types of physical activities. Difficulty performing some of these activities can result in difficulties and challenges at work.
04:29 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s talk about being a caregiver and trying to achieve that work-life balance. We don’t really talk about becoming a caregiver until we are a caregiver. Some family members helping aging parents or loved ones really don’t think of themselves as a caregiver. It’s part of the reason that there’s so little discussion — and there should be a lot of discussion — about caregiving becoming a significant life transition. Caregiving, especially for aging parents, gets very little attention in society and in our workplace.
05:06 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s because caregiving, it’s pushed off as a family matter. It is for families to manage. Being a caregiver, whether you are raising children or caring for aging parents — a lot of people are doing both — you’re the sandwich generation. Caregiving affects so many parts of our life. If you are a caregiver, you’ve probably noticed that being a caregiver is this far-reaching job. It affects matters of our family, our careers, our health, well-being, money, finances, medical care, health insurance, legal matters, just to name a few. Women are the primary caregivers at 60% of all caregivers, with the percentage of male caregivers growing now to be about 40% of all caregivers. There’s a Harvard Business School study out there called The Caring Company, and it says that employees are trying to balance work and care responsibilities and they’re getting very little support from employers and the workplace.
06:15 Pamela D. Wilson: How many of you are caring for an aging parent, a grandparent, or a spouse who has health issues? How does being a caregiver affect your days, your work, your life, your health? The study talks about employees being hesitant of talking about caregiving responsibilities with their supervisors and their employers because they worry about risking their jobs or halting their advancement or their promotions. How many of you feel that your employers are aware of family caregiving issues? Let’s talk about the different types and stages of caregiving. Employers readily, they talk about maternity, child adoption. Employees leave their jobs to raise children, but few if any employers talk about caregiving for aging parents who have health issues. How many of you listening agree that there is very little discussion in the workplace about midlife health concerns and taking care of elderly and sick or disabled loved ones? How many of you would be uncomfortable talking to your supervisor about caring for an elderly family member?
07:28 Pamela D. Wilson: My personal experience is that unless a supervisor has been a caregiver, unless they have personal experience, the supervisor can’t even relate to caregiving concerns or issues. I had that happened to me more than 20 years ago when I was taking care of my parents. The Harvard Business School study also talks about the fact that employees have this perception that if they admit to being a caregiver in the workplace, then they’re viewed as being less committed to their career than another employee who isn’t a caregiver or who doesn’t admit to being a caregiver. Even more interesting are the statistics: 40% of men, 25% of women believe that being a caregiver and having job opportunities are at odds. It’s difficult to make it all work. That means that there are fewer opportunities for advancement and promotion for employees who admit that they are caregivers.
08:28 Pamela D. Wilson: Those who come in late. They may leave early from work. Have some unplanned absences. What do you think? Is this true? How has being a caregiver affected your ability to work? Has it affected your ability to be promoted? You can call in the second half of the hour and talk about this. You are listening to The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio on the BBM Global Network page. I’m excited to announce that podcasts of the show are now available on iTunes, Spotify, Spreaker, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, Castbox and more. We’re about to change subjects. We’ll be talking with Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez about midlife health concerns for women and how these can affect our later life health, plus the ability to continue to work. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
11:27 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I am your host. You are listening to The Caring Generation coming into you live from the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio on the BBM Global Network page. Follow me on Facebook at PamelaDWilson page, where you can watch my daily Facebook live videos and join my groups, The Caregiving Trap for family caregivers, and The Caring Collaborative for professional caregivers. Let’s talk about midlife health concerns. Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez joins us for a conversation about physical health issues that can result in disability if we are not proactive. Dr. Carrie, welcome.
12:07 Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: Hi. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
12:10 Pamela D. Wilson: Thank you. So, I want to start by talking about terms that can relate to midlife health that the healthcare system uses that consumers may not be so aware of. So, words like impairment, functional limitations, and disability, can you explain what those terms mean in relation to our health?
12:31 Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: Yes, absolutely. These terms are often used synonymously and therefore sometimes imprecisely. So, let me see if I can make it more clear. Functional limitations are those that happen when an individual cannot do an action as well as they once could for their normal level of functioning. So, for example, they might walk more slowly than normal, or they might not be able to grip something as tightly as they once could. These limitations do not stop them from being able to carry out the activity. They can still walk to the store. They can still open a jar. But their overall level of function is less than before. Impairment, on the other hand, is the situation in which those limitations become so overwhelming that they inhibit one from being able to carry out certain activities of their daily life, like walking, getting out of a chair, or getting dressed. When the person is no longer able to do these types of activities independently, we define this as functional impairment for that activity.
13:35 Dr, Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: Disability, on the other hand, is more of an umbrella term and it can cover both limitations and impairments which I just mentioned. But more modern models of disability also include what we call participation restriction, and this is really important because it means that an individual has limitations in their ability to engage in activities that are important to them. This may be because of limitations because perhaps they can’t walk as far as they wanted to. So, they can’t visit their friends or travel in their neighborhood, but it may also be due to the environmental situation. So, for example, someone might have difficulties doing laundry simply because the washing machine is down the basement stairs and those stairs are steep and challenging to walk down. Whereas if that washing machine was upstairs, then washing laundry would not be a huge challenge because that adaption had been made to be able to make it easier. So, when we talk about disability, it’s important for us to really consider both the level of functioning of a person but also the context of that person’s environment.
14:42 Pamela D. Wilson: That was a great explanation, especially about the laundry because I know that so many older people, they have difficulty going downstairs to do laundry. What a great solution to bring the washer and dryer upstairs. You wrote an article in the Journal of Aging, and that’s how I found you, that talked about another term called domains of disability. Can you explain what those are?
15:04 Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: Sure. Well, as I mentioned, disability is a complex phenomenon, and these modern models of disability really focus on considering both the functioning of the person, but also their environment. And so, in our research, we’ve used a questionnaire which was actually developed by the World Health Organization to understand the different ways in which an individual interacts with their environment and how that might impact their disability. And so, we looked at six different domains in our paper, and these include understanding and then communicating which includes things like concentrating and remembering. We included a domain about self-care, which includes bathing, dressing or eating.
15:43 Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: A domain about getting along with people, which includes social relationships and friendship. A domain about engaging in life activities, which includes household responsibilities, and then a domain about how well one can participate actively in their society and in their community. And so, using this multi-domain approach was really important for us, particularly among midlife women, because it allowed us to understand the domains in which younger women were having difficulty in certain activities but not others. So, for example, we saw a lot of difficulties with midlife women with mobility in getting around, but they were still able to maintain independence in terms of their own self-care. So, this helps us understand where and what type of interventions are really needed in this population.
16:32 Pamela D. Wilson: How much of a factor in these domains is chronic disease? So, if a midlife person has heart disease or diabetes, does that lead to more of these challenges in daily life?
16:44 Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: Well, that’s a really good question, and one can actually contend that it’s possible that disability may result from having a chronic condition. But then also that the limitations due to a disability such as decreased levels of physical activity or higher levels of stress may actually then increase one’s risk of developing chronic diseases. And so, this is what we call a bidirectional relationship. The chronic disease may cause the disability, but the disability may lead to new or worsening chronic diseases. And so, what we see with this research is that people with disabilities are more likely to have these chronic diseases, and in fact, the leading causes of disability are arthritis, heart disease, respiratory diseases, and mental illness. And what we’d really like to learn more about is how these chronic diseases can exacerbate or worsen disability among individuals as they age. We know that disability severity increases with age and symptoms of these chronic diseases increase with age. So, learning more about the impact of those changes on the disability process will help us understand how to manage that.
17:54 Pamela D. Wilson: You just made me think of a question that I’m going to ask you after the break, but I’ll give it to you now. Is there a relationship between mobility and socialization?
17:58 Dr Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: Sure.
18:02 Pamela D. Wilson: So, if somebody is less mobile, does that lead to less socialization and therefore depression? We are going to continue this conversation with Dr. Carrie about midlife health after this break that’s coming up. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. Did you know that you can listen to replays of The Caring Generation on my website, pameladwilson.com? You go to the Media Tab and then the Caring Generation Radio Show. he podcast plus a show transcript is available about one week after the live show. Also, please share details about the Caring Generation radio program on the BBM Global Network and Tune in Radio with your family, your friends, and your workplace, your social groups, your churches, everybody that you know because we are all going to be a caregiver or need care sooner or later. The Caring Generation is the place to become more informed about things that we should know about life. We’ll be right back.
21:06 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, I’m your host. You’re listening to the Caring Generation radio program for caregivers, and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio on the BBM Global Network page. We are continuing our conversation with Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez about mid-life health. So, Dr. Carrie, I have a question for you that you made me think of before the break. If people in mid-life have mobility difficulties, they can’t get out of the house. They can’t get around as well. How does that affect their ability to socialize, and does it ever result in depression?
21:44 Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: Yes. I’m glad you asked that question, and I think you hit on something that we found that was really interesting in our research. As I mentioned, we found that women in our midlife cohort of individuals had highest levels of mobility disability, but the second-highest, most common level of disability was disengagement in life activities. And then across the board, all of the domains were most strongly predicted by depressive symptoms. And so, we really do worry about this clustering of these different types of disability with issues of depression and how that might impact one’s ability to maintain social relationships and get the healthcare that they need long term as they move through the aging process.
22:25 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, and we women, we are such social beings that I think that if that is taken away from us, it would definitely have a negative effect. Is there anything in the study, do women suffer more from these disabling conditions than men, and if they do, why?
22:40 Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: Yes. That’s a very interesting question and one that’s near and dear to my heart, as I see myself as a women’s health researcher. And it’s important because we know that women are a vulnerable group for disability problems as they age. They tend to outlive men, but they fare worse in terms of disability and functioning, and they have a more rapid decline in functioning with aging. And so, this disparity in disability is true for both older adults, but also midlife adults as well, and we don’t fully understand why this disparity exists. But it may be due, in part, to chronic conditions, as you suggest. We know that women have a greater burden of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, which is a major disabling condition. And they’re also more likely to experience what we call multi-morbidity, meaning they have more than one chronic condition at a time. And so, this is an area of ongoing research, trying to understand why it is that women seem to be so burdened with multiple chronic conditions and more so as compared to men.
23:42 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, and could any of that relate to the fact that women are caregivers for children, for spouses, for aging parents, we work full-time, does any of that stress affect this?
23:53 Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: Yes, absolutely. And for both women and men. It’s been shown that all types of stress, including caregiving stress, impacts the health of the individual. However, we see that female caregivers report higher levels of stress than do the male caregivers. And so, because of this, there’s been a lot of research going into understanding the health impacts of caregiving among female caregivers and what’s been found has really been astounding. Women who serve as caregivers experience two to six times higher levels of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions as compared to women who do not act in a caregiving role. Women who are caregivers are more likely to develop chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. They’re at greater risk for injuries, including major injuries such as falls, which would, of course, place them at greater risk for disability. And so, it’s completely plausible that the act of caregiving, in and of itself, as well as the associated stress, both mental and physical, may place that caregiver at an increased risk for disability.
25:00 Pamela D. Wilson: Was there anything in the study that showed how these disabilities can change over time? So, let’s say that I’m 55 today and I have some of these issues, by the time, I’m 75, what’s my life going to be like?
25:11 Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: Yes, you’re absolutely right. This is the one thing we really need to be thinking about is the care that caregivers might need for their own health, both now and as they age. And, unfortunately, we don’t have complete answers about how levels of disability change from midlife into late life and so predicting this in caregivers or in anyone else, for that matter, is really challenging. And the reason we don’t know that is because few studies have data about disability and have been conducted for long enough across the span of time from mid-life to late-life to really understand that change.
25:46 Dr, Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: We have been doing some of that work within our Center for Midlife Science at the University of Michigan to describe those individual trajectories, the patterns of change in disability across the life course. And we do that. We use two longitudinal cohorts of women that we started following when they were during midlife, and we followed them for 25 years now. And so, we’re looking to see what that pattern looks like as they’re starting to transition into old age. But what I can tell you is that what we’ve learned about the mid-life is very interesting and frankly, surprising. We had expected to see regular worsening of functioning across the mid-life as these women were aging, but in fact, that wasn’t necessarily the case.
26:28 Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: We looked at data over a ten-year period and saw that there was actually a lot of improvements in functioning. Even among the individuals who were the most severely limited. And so, this capacity for improvement and recovery was so exciting to us because it suggests that the mid-life is a period of time that’s optimal for interventions to improve function and set someone on a course to be entering late-life in a healthy framework. And we know this is possible because we can see improvement is possible in the data we have.
27:00 Pamela D. Wilson: So, we’ve got about a minute left for our conversation. What can people do in mid-life to prevent these disabilities from getting worse?
27:06 Dr. Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez: Yes, that’s the million-dollar question. Every clinician, researcher, individual wants to know. And I think the short answer is that the data to date has really supported exercise. And not just any exercise but long-standing, multi-component exercise including endurance exercise, flexibility, balance, and strength. That has been shown in intervention trials among older adults, it’s been shown in observational studies among mid-life adults, as being beneficial for better health, functioning, and less disability later in life.
27:39 Pamela D. Wilson: That makes so much sense. I thank you so much for joining us tonight; this has been a great interview, and I know that the listeners found some helpful information here. Coming up after this break, we’re going to continue to talk about how being a caregiver and trying to achieve work-life balance can feel a little impossible. And by listener request we’ll also talk about how to talk to loved ones who refuse care. If you have a question, an opinion, or a story to share you can call in 866-451-1451, 866-451-1451.
28:14 Pamela D. Wilson: I’m Pamela D Wilson, your host, you are listening to the Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio on the BBM Global Network page. If you’re on the page this evening, you can scroll to the bottom of that page and leave me a question, a comment, or a suggestion. I do go back, and I look at those every week which is why I am answering a question from a caregiver tonight on the program. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults is on my website, PamelaDWilson.com. We’ll be right back after this break.
30:50 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson caregiving expert, I’m your host, you’re listening to the Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio on the BBM Global Network page. The Caring Generation is the place where we share tips and things you should know about life. Help, hope, and support for caregivers is available on my website, PamelaDWilson.com. Please share information about the Caring Generation with everyone you know. One in four people are caregivers. We’re back talking about the workplace and trying to find that elusive work-life balance as a caregiver.
31:30 Pamela D. Wilson: You can call 866-451-1451 if you have an opinion, a story, or a question to share. It’s never too early to begin the conversation of caring, and I’d love to hear your stories. If you could wave a magic wand and change the way that your employer or your supervisor looks at caregiving, what would that picture look like? Besides being a more flexible work schedule to accommodate with having to take parents to doctor appointments and unexpected emergencies, employees tell me that they want more information about available resources and services. They are interested in caregiving support groups and to have seminars or classes on caregiving topics so that they can talk to somebody who can provide counsel and answer questions.
32:19 Pamela D. Wilson: How do you feel about that? Would these things be helpful if they were available through the workplace? Would you participate or would you be concerned that your employer would know that you are a caregiver and might look at that negatively? Thoughts, opinions, stories, and questions you can call 866-451-1451. You can also post your questions and comments on the BBM Global Network page for the Caring Generation. Just scroll to the bottom of that page, leave me a comment. I want to change subjects for a few minutes and respond to a question posed by a listener on the BBM page. I thank you for the question. The question posed was, “How do I respond to a loved one who becomes easily upset and who has unreasonable desires or expectations?” I bet we’ve never experienced that.
33:10 Pamela D. Wilson: The subject of responding positively in situations where the other person is upset or unreasonable can feel challenging for us as the caregiver. It doesn’t matter if you are a family caregiver or a professional caregiver. Maybe you’re a home health aide, a CNA, you might work in a care community, doctor’s office, or another healthcare setting. My first recommendation for all people in a caregiving role is to ask questions so that we can understand the concern or the reason for the upset. Sometimes the issue really is not about being upset; it’s more about wanting to be heard. How many times do we become upset over an issue because we feel like nobody is listening to us or nobody is paying attention to us? When someone is willing to listen, really listen, our tempers cool down. We feel better. We’re less stressed. Honestly, our aging parent or spouse they might feel like we’re not listening or that we don’t care. Beyond listening to the reason for the upset is the next question of asking a parent or a spouse, “What do you want? How would you like to solve this concern?”
34:27 Pamela D. Wilson: Very important here. Do not take the issue on yourself. Don’t make their problem your problem unless of course, your actions caused the problem. If it was because of you, if the upset was because of you, apologize. Let’s talk about feeling frustrated, angry, feeling overwhelmed, worrying, all of these feelings they are so common in caregiving, and if you’re the person that needs care, we can all feel upset. If you are a family caregiver or one of our healthcare workers, how many times do you feel frustrated, angry, overwhelmed? When we can put ourselves in the place of how a loved one or a client feels, then we can be more compassionate and empathetic. The next question is, how can the problem or the issue be solved? Know that a solution may not be what your loved one or the client wants. They may purely want to vent, to complain, and have you listen. Creating that situation or that pattern where a person constantly vents and you are at the other end of that venting, not positive. Complaining without identifying a solution, it’s that revolving door that goes nowhere.
35:40 Pamela D. Wilson: Instead you should be asking, “I hear you’re upset about X. What will you take to resolve this?” You can empathize but not take on that responsibility to solve somebody else’s problem. As caregivers, we always want to take on the weight of the world’s problems. We can help others solve their problems instead. My recommendation is to stop that venting by asking for a solution. The other concern mentioned by this person was, “How do we respond to unreasonably behaviors?” The context of that question is important because what we might think is unreasonable; another person might think is totally reasonable. We have to look at trade-offs in asking what’s realistic, and sometimes set boundaries. A trade-off is what we think is acceptable in an imperfect situation.
36:30 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s use an example of breakfast. Let’s say that you love eggs, but your cholesterol, oh my gosh, it’s sky-high. Your doctor tells you that unless you make a change to your diet, cholesterol medication is in your future. But you don’t want to take medication. You don’t want to give up eggs either. What are those options? You can have egg whites and not the yolks, but you think, “Yuck, those yolks, that’s what makes the eggs taste good.” Or how about eating oatmeal five days a week for breakfast? Oatmeal is really good for you, and it’s good at lowering cholesterol, but you can’t do that every day. So, you can add fruit, toast, bagels, cream cheese. What tradeoffs are you willing to make?
37:13 Pamela D. Wilson: Tradeoffs are all about compromising. We want to avoid something or get something that we want. For your aging parent, who is unreasonable what is that thing to be avoided or wanted? We want to avoid the unreasonable behavior. But then what comes next? We have to find a way to compromise which can be difficult. We’ll continue to talk more about how to respond to unreasonable behaviors in our next segment. Help me make The Caring Generation valuable, interesting, and entertaining for you. If you have comments, ideas, or suggestions, and you are listening on the BBM global website page on the Caring Generation, scroll to the bottom of that page leave me a comment or a suggestion. 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 and TuneIn radio on the BBM Global Network page.
38:14 Pamela D. Wilson: The question to ask yourself and we’re going to come back and talk about this is, “Is there any emotional balance in caregiving between managing our work lives and caring for loved ones who might be easily upset or unreasonable?” How do we manage when our parents, others become constantly upset at us, and our emotions are up and down [chuckle] all over the place.? We will have more on this after the break. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
40:48 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 and TuneIn radio on the BBM Global Network page. A podcast replay of this program and the program transcript will be available on my website in about a week. You can share it with your aging parents, your spouses, your family, and your friends. Also, you can visit pameladwilson.com, click on the Media tab and then the drop-down for The Caring Generation radio page to find that podcast. Please share the program with everybody that you know. You can also follow me on social media and share my posts. On Facebook my page is PamelaDWilson.page. On Twitter, I am caregivingspeak. On LinkedIn, I am pameladwilsoncaregiverexpert, and on Instagram, I am wilsonpamelad.
41:40 Pamela D. Wilson: Unreasonable behaviors. Are any of us unreasonable? I suspect that we are at one time or another. In the prior segment, we talked about trade-offs in caregiving. Now it’s time to talk about what we view as realistic and then to talk about setting boundaries, which caregivers are usually not good at doing. It’s so much easier for a caregiver to say “yes” to avoid some conflict than to say “no” and be faced with a disagreement or a conflict. In talking about being realistic and being unreasonable, we have to look at what we mean by this. So, let’s use an example of a phone call, maybe multiple phone calls. You’re a working caregiver, you have projects, you have deadlines, and mom or dad starts calling you at work to chat because [chuckle] they are feeling bored or lonely. One phone call turns into two, three, all of a sudden, you’re receiving ten phone calls a day every day at work. How on earth did that happen? It’s easy. Those ten phone calls happened because you answered your phone. Now, you feel that your parent has unreasonable behaviors or expectations that you will always answer the phone.
43:00 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s time to stop that madness that you unintentionally created because you wanted to be helpful. Because you wanted to say yes to your parent. Have a discussion with your parent that if there is an emergency, you definitely want them to call you at work. Otherwise, turn it around. Tell your parent that you will call them to check in with them on a break or during your lunch hour. Phone calls that you receive that are not emergencies will be answered by, “Sorry, I can’t talk right now.” When you’re at work, you want to be able to work and focus. All these interruptions, all the distractions, they were mentioned by that Harvard Business School study about caregivers in the workplace. So, let’s swing back to talking about how being a caregiver can affect us at work during working hours. In that study, more than 80% of caregivers, 80%, that’s a lot, with caregiving responsibilities admitted that caregiving affected their work productivity, their ability to perform their best at work.
44:09 Pamela D. Wilson: How many times do we make mistakes because we’re not paying attention? It’s difficult and sometimes dangerous to be doing two things at the same time. Like, driving a car and talking on your cellphone or trying to send a text. Not a good idea, but yet how many of us find ourselves tempted to do this. Working and being distracted has similar negative consequences. We make mistakes. We don’t get our work done. Our co-workers become impatient with us because we’re not hitting our deadlines. By setting boundaries with aging parents about contact at work, we limit our distractions, and we increase our focus. Let’s talk about other types of boundaries that can reduce what we feel are unrealistic expectations.
44:57 Pamela D. Wilson: The reality of being a caregiver is that all these tasks, all this work at work and at home, it sneaks up on us. I call this caregiving creep. Yesterday, we weren’t a caregiver, all of a sudden, we are a caregiver. Six months later, we’re at the home of our parents after work every day, checking on them. We spend most of our weekends at the home of our parents. We can’t even remember what life was like before caregiving. We’re burned out. We’re tired, we’re exhausted. Does any of this sound familiar? How did this happen? It’s because we were hesitant to say no and because we were hesitant to find other ways to make sure our parents have help. We were hesitant to join a support group and learn from others or to take a caregiving class. Now, caregiving, it consumes our life. And that’s on us because we allowed it to consume our life. How do we put the car in reverse and back that up? We have to look at what’s realistic for our life schedule.
46:02 Pamela D. Wilson: Sometimes we don’t know what’s realistic unless we’re really organized or really good at time management. That is one of the skills that I had to learn when I managed care for my clients. I had to become an expert at time management and scheduling, and I taught my employees to do the same. A lot of employees when they started to work for me were totally unrealistic about planning time and planning their schedules. They over scheduled their lives like many family and professional caregivers. It’s not really until we look at all the tasks, all the work that we have to complete and plan out the time we need to complete the task that we shock ourselves. As my dad would say and I commonly hear from caregivers, “What on earth was I thinking, no wonder I couldn’t finish all of these projects.“
46:52 Pamela D. Wilson: How many times has that project that never gets finished, it stays on our list whether it’s something around the house, it could be a craft project, you got some repairs to do, we never ever get around to it we put it on the back burner. Another reason why we talk about all the things we should know about life on this program because understanding that it’s easy to over schedule ourselves is part of this caregiving conversation. Your parent has those reasonable expectations or unreasonable expectations because we didn’t set an expectation at the beginning. We have to say. I can help you on Tuesday evening and Saturday mornings. If you need more time we’ll have to figure something else out.
47:35 Pamela D. Wilson: We’re heading into our last break where we’re going to continue to talk about the conversation about setting boundaries and finding work-life balance. Please help me make these programs valuable, interesting, and entertaining for you. If you’re listening on the BBM Global website page on The Caring Generation page, scroll to the bottom during this break, leave me a comment or an idea about a subject for our future program during this commercial break, you can also follow me on Facebook at PamelaDWilson page where you can watch my daily live Facebook videos for caregivers. I will share information about our program for next week after this break. This is Pamela Wilson caregiving expert. I’m your host, you’re listening to the Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio on the BBM Global Network page. Podcast replays of this program will be available in about a week please share them with your aging parents, your family members, your loved ones. There’s a lot of helpful information here, and we need to start the conversation about caregiving so that we don’t get ourselves into these situations where caregiving feels unrealistic, and we are burned out. Stay with me. We’ll be right back after this break.
50:53 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert, I’m your host, you’re listening to the Caring Generation Radio program for caregivers and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio on the BBM Global Network page. A replay of this program will be available in podcast format on my website with a short transcript in about a week, please share it with your parents, your family, your friends, co-workers, the care communities where you work, the businesses where you work. Because I know there are caregivers looking for hope, help, and support. Next week we’ll be talking more about emotional tradeoffs and making really difficult choices about your health or the health of a loved one. If you’re a caregiver you know that sometimes it feels like there are no good choices. We’ll also talk about how to avoid financial scams on the telephone and on the internet.
51:48 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s finish our conversation by talking about setting realistic expectations to avoid unrealistic expectations by parents and other family members who need your care. Professional caregivers this also applies to you in the workplace. We only have so many hours in a day. We have to be realistic about what we can reasonably accomplish — if not we become burned out. Our health suffers and can decline as Dr. Carrie mentioned to the point of physical disability. We place our health, our well-being and our ability to work at risk. We can’t afford to be naive about the effects of caring for others and the importance of caring for ourselves. We have to take care of ourselves so that we can care for aging parents, spouses and others. We have to find a work-life caregiving balance.
52:40 Pamela D. Wilson: If your life is unbalanced, it’s time to take a look at how you are scheduling your time. How are you spending your time each day? When I trained my employees, I trained them on being realistic. I suspect that if you really take a look at how you’re using the time in your day, you’ll find out that you have time that you could be using to do other tasks that you don’t think that you can find the time to do. That old standard management principle, “what gets measured gets done.” The idea of measuring your time or looking at how you spend your day, it can make you feel a little uncomfortable. As in all parts of life, we do what’s important or relevant to us. We measure what matters. If you want to achieve work-life caregiving balance, it’s time to measure what you’re doing every day. Doing that will make you more effective and efficient in your personal life and in your work life.
53:38 Pamela D. Wilson: I can tell you my employees were amazed after going through this exercise to see what they could accomplish. Add to this, talking about caregiving with your families and your supervisors at work. Without these discussions, we can’t move the idea of caregiving to being a transition in life that we talk about and plan for. Without a plan in any part of our life, it’s difficult to succeed. If you want to make being a caregiver easier, if you want more of a work-life balance, if you want it to feel less stressful, start taking a look at how you are spending your time. It may be time to join a caregiving support group, to take a caregiving class, to find some resources to gain more control over your life. By becoming more informed, you gain confidence and mastery over your life, guaranteed.
54:31 Pamela D. Wilson: If nobody has told you that you are super amazing or they haven’t thanked you this week for everything that you do as a caregiver or in helping others, let me say thank you. Caregivers never receive enough thanks for all of the work that we do, and we all face different challenges at each step of the way as the demands of being a caregiver change and increase. Being a caregiver or growing older, it can feel like a struggle. It can be so difficult to manage. Help, hope, and support are on my website at pameladwilson.com, my caregiving library, my newsletter, helpful articles are there, and links to this radio show is also there.
55:14 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I am your host. I thank you so much for joining me on the Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults. We’re coming to you live from the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio. And the show is now available wherever you are, iTunes, Spotify, Spreaker, Google, Podcast, TuneIn Radio and more. 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 and here is wishing you a fabulous day tomorrow. I’ll talk to you next week.
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