The Caring Generation® – Episode 13 October 23, 2019 On this caregiving radio program, Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, talks about the Challenges of Being in the Sandwich Generation Caring for Aging Parents and Children. Guest Gina Gardiner, international coach for reaching your potential, talks about Overcoming Obstacles after her life was changed by a tragic skiing accident at the age of twenty-eight.
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The Sandwich Generation: Caring for Elderly Parents and Children 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.
00:48 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I am your host. How is everybody today? 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 conversation of caring, giving us permission to talk and laugh. We must be able to laugh about aging, the challenges of caregiving, health, well-being, work-life and everything in between. Please invite your family, your friends, your 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 is on my website at pameladwilson.com.
01:38 Pamela D. Wilson: This week, we’ll be talking about being in the sandwich generation, which means, caring for elderly parents, and raising children. We’ll talk about ideas on how to manage and make time for you. I’ll also share information about paying for the care of elderly parents, about talking to your children about money management, and how to survive being a caregiver while balancing work, life, and career. Being sandwiched in caring for elderly parents, and raising children is a stressful role for men and women.
02:15 Pamela D. Wilson: In the second segment of this hour, we’ll visit with special guest Gina Gardiner. She is an author, motivational speaker, empowerment, and relationship coach. After a tragic ski accident, at the age of 28, she ran an award-winning school as a principal in England from a wheelchair, and she’s calling us from England, where it’s two in the morning there. Gina views her life experience as a gift that helped her develop a unique approach to life and development of leadership skills. She’ll talk about the idea of overcoming obstacles in all aspects of life, especially as a caregiver.
02:52 Pamela D. Wilson: The sandwich generation. Let’s begin by talking about a common situation of caring for elderly parents that is usually unexpected. If your parents are like most parents, their goal was always to live independently. One day, a health change happens and all of a sudden, they need help. The degree to which they need help affects the lives of the caregivers. In some scenarios, parents were not proactive during their life, and in most cases, the caregiver becomes a working daughter. Juggling work, caring for elderly parents, and young children and giving attention to a marriage does become a balancing act. Activity can feel non-stop.
03:34 Pamela D. Wilson: It is so easy for caregivers to feel time squeezed and experience emotions that are up and down. Sometimes caregivers have unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished in the available time. It’s important to find or create small slices of time for self-care and emotional balance. It could be as simple as a short nap between doing a load of laundry, sitting outside on the back porch while dinner is in the oven. So many caregivers dream of going to a day spa or taking a day off, but that’s not always realistic if the care of elderly parents is significant. The needs of elderly parents with regard to their health and their ability to perform daily activities affect the time commitment and the schedule of caregivers.
04:23 Pamela D. Wilson: If both parents have health concerns, or maybe they’re homebound, meaning that they only leave the home for medical appointments, that can mean a lot of time. All the other tasks like grocery shopping, errands, picking up prescriptions, those are a little easier to do. So because of the time squeeze of the errands and being at a parent’s home, a lot of caregivers become good at managing time and tasks, or if not, they experience a lot of stress trying to figure it out. Paying attention to health and well-being for caregivers becomes more critical, because as we talk if the health of the caregiver suffers –in this situation –the elderly parent, the children, the spouse, everyone suffers. It’s important to think of health and well-being activities as “caregiver time.”
05:15 Pamela D. Wilson: Caregivers have to make themselves a priority, and while we always don’t give this enough attention, some caregivers actually admit that finding time for themselves is one of the most significant changes they decided to make in their schedule. This happened because many of these caregivers saw that they were nearing physical or mental breakdown. We know, or we should know what it takes for us to feel good and energetic. These activities: Sleeping, eating balanced and nutritious meals, being attentive to physical and emotional health, and exercising. A lot of caregivers admit that doing these activities is so much easier said than done, but most admit that by finding the time, it helped them avoid burnout.
06:04 Pamela D. Wilson: Time and exercise offers a mental relief. It’s time to just think or listen to music and not do anything. It also allows space for our minds to just clear themselves out, to bring in new ideas and new thoughts. Adult children who are caregivers for elderly parents become very sensitive about how that role affects life, and a lot of adult children want to avoid putting their children in the same situation. Being in the sandwich generation, caring for elderly parents and children, gives us a unique opportunity to have generational discussions about caregiving, that can really be helpful in families. In most families, the role and the responsibility of caregiving is sometimes hidden from children because if they’ve already moved out of the house, conversations may not occur. There might be a little knowledge that mom and dad are helping grandma and grandpa, but very limited.
07:03 Pamela D. Wilson: This is the reason that some adult children are shocked when caregiving becomes a role and a responsibility. The idea of managing health and well-being by finding me time, meaning, caregiver time, can be achieved by gaining perspective. If we look at all the time that we give to our aging parents, taking 10 minutes or 30 minutes is such a small proportion of time. And so many caregivers place everybody else in a priority position, especially aging parents. In the second half of the show, we are going to continue to talk about being in the sandwich generation, caring for elderly parents and children, and we’re going to talk about the financial aspects of paying for the care of elderly parents or having elderly parents move in with you.
07:53 Pamela D. Wilson: Coming up after this break, the idea of overcoming obstacles with Gina Gardiner. Helpful information about caregiving is on my website at pameladwilson.com, where you can subscribe to my free caregiving library. There are two libraries: One is for family caregivers, and one is for professional caregivers. On my Facebook page, which is PamelaDWilson.page, there are also two groups, one for family, which is called The Caregiving Trap, and one for professionals which is called The Caregiving Collaborative. This is Pamela D Wilson. I’m your host on The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and Tune In radio.
08:33 Pamela D. Wilson: Podcast replays of all of these shows are on my website. You go to pameladwilson.com, click on the media tab, and then click on The Caring Generation radio show. The podcasts are there. The transcripts are there. It’s so easy to listen, to share, to download, and I encourage you to share this show with everyone that you know. There are so many caregivers out there, believe it or not, over 40 million caregivers who are looking for hope, help, and support, and they honestly don’t know where to turn. And if you can believe this, there are caregivers or people helping elderly parents who don’t even view themselves in a caregiving role. This is why we have to make caregiving so important and something that we talk about. Stay with me on the Caring Generation. We’ll be right back after this break.
11:43 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to the Caring Generation Radio Show coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and Tune In Radio. We are back to talk about overcoming obstacles with Gina Gardiner, who is joining us from England. She is an author, motivational speaker, empowerment and relationship coach. Gina, welcome. Thank you for staying up and joining us.
12:08 Gina Gardiner: Oh, it’s my pleasure, nice to be with you.
12:11 Pamela D. Wilson: The subject of our conversation is overcoming obstacles. Will you share the details of the accident that you experienced at age 28, and what were your first thoughts?
12:24 Gina Gardiner: I had just been promoted to the Deputy Principal of a large school, and was very pleased to get to ski in the half-term holiday. I’d had a new pair of skis for Christmas, and in those days, the style was to have as long a pair of skis as you could manage. And I managed the whole of the first week to wrap those skis around my neck. And so I’d said to the group I was skiing with, “I’m going to leave you tomorrow. I’m going to go and get my confidence back.” And they said, “Fine, we’ll meet you for lunch.” And at lunchtime they said, “We’ve found the most amazing run, come and join us.” Well, we got up on the chairlift, it was a beautiful day. Got to the top, off they skied. And as we got around the corner it didn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that this was not the run that they expected.
13:19 Gina Gardiner: Instead of it being a beautiful, gentle run, it was the Schindlergrat, which is the most difficult black run in St. Anton. And it was full of moguls. And I’m sure many of your listeners know what a mogul is, it’s where the snows been carved out by the weather. But these moguls, instead of being small were at about six feet tall. It was a very steep run. And I managed the first third of the run by skiing around the mogul and sliding down the side. But then I fell, and it took me about half an hour to reach the others who were sitting on a mogul each, rather like an elf on a mushroom.
14:01 Gina Gardiner: So, I took my skis off, and I sat on my mogul. But it was a hot day, and the mogul gave way, and I started to fall. There was nowhere to land. Fortunately, knocked myself out. And I came to some 150-200 feet further down. It took the others a long time to ski to me. The one good thing about it was, of course, were the two falls in the bit of skiing that I’d done, I’d actually done pretty well most of the black run. So I didn’t want the blood to blacken. They helped me back to the hotel, and we managed to get back the next day. And I went straight to the hospital, I had a concussion, and I tweaked a nerve in my neck.
14:43 Pamela D. Wilson: Oh.
14:44 Gina Gardiner: It took me about a month to get back to school. And then a couple of weeks later, I was due to be the Deputy Leader on the borough ski party. We took 150 school children this time to Switzerland, and although I wasn’t quite right, I had got permission from the medics to go, because we had a doctor going with us. By the end of the week, I got more and more like Quasimodo as the week went by. The last day as we came back to the hotel, I said to my colleagues, “I’m going to have to go and lie down.” I managed to get up on to the top bunk. It wasn’t a very posh hotel.
15:23 Gina Gardiner: And within a very few minutes, I realized that I couldn’t move my left side at all, I was completely paralyzed. I didn’t want to frighten the children, and the time seemed endless until somebody came to check on me. And then all hell broke loose, and I was carted off to the hospital. And from there I was flown home some few days later. Now, I finally managed to get back to school. By this time I could walk, but it wasn’t quite right. But I could walk, and I managed to do school and sleep. And when I got to the school summer holiday I was really relieved. But within a couple of weeks I had a telephone call from my principal’s wife, who was hysterical, that she’d found the head, the principal, dead in bed.
16:23 Pamela D. Wilson: Oh my gosh.
16:25 Gina Gardiner: So far from it being a restful holiday, I was then acting principal, and I spent my holiday helping her arrange the funeral, letting everybody know, getting prepared for September.
16:38 Pamela D. Wilson: Goodness.
16:38 Gina Gardiner: Over the next few years, sorry. sorry, did you want?
16:43 Pamela D. Wilson: No, no, no, go. I’m just amazed by the story.
16:46 Gina Gardiner: Right. [laughter] So, for the next few years… Well, I was appointed to be the permanent head, and I was appointed to be the permanent head within three months of being acting principal. And for a few years, they looked for why I wasn’t getting any better physically, and they discovered that there was all sorts of things going on, but they couldn’t put their finger on it. As my mobility reduced, I was very loathe to start using a wheelchair. And my life just became more and more limited actually, until I was in a situation where I had just had to go into the wheelchair.
17:35 Gina Gardiner: Two failed back surgeries during my time meant that actually I had to learn to walk twice as an adult, and I ran my school mostly from a wheelchair. But there was a huge gift in that, and the gift was that I couldn’t get into my classroom physically, so I had to find a different way of enabling people to step into their power and to develop leadership throughout the school. And the school was incredibly successful because the unique way of developing people was all about them taking responsibility for their performance and a shared responsibility for the performance of others.
18:17 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, and I think that relates to the subject that we’re going to come back to after the break, is, a lot of caregivers may feel kind of like… I mean, never similar to your situation because I don’t want to discount it, but in a similar situation where they feel like they’ve lost a lot of control. And to your point, by taking control, they can take their power back. So we are going to come
18:39 Gina Gardiner: Absolutely.
18:39 Pamela D. Wilson: back after this break and continue our conversation with Gina Gardner. 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 Tune In Radio. Stay with us. We’ll be right back.
21:13 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. Let’s continue our conversation with Gina Gardiner about overcoming obstacles. Gina, being a caregiver can feel overwhelming. Do you have any tips for caregivers to make caregiving feel like it’s less of a struggle?
21:43 Gina Gardiner: I think there are a number of things that caregivers can do. And as we were talking during the break, my sister has two profoundly disabled boys, but sadly Matthew’s no longer with us. And I’ve cared for my parents because I was the one who was geographically close. I think number one is you have to look after yourself. If you don’t care for yourself and feed yourself properly, get some rest, then you’re going to find that you have less and less to offer somebody else.
22:16 Gina Gardiner: And at times that is going to be around creating boundaries, but I also think there is something there about asking for help. And I know at a personal level, I found it very difficult to ask for help. But generally speaking, I love to give help, and I think that we need to be aware that people like to help, and we can let them in. But very often, there’s a sense, “I’ve got to manage because people will think that I’m weak.” And these beliefs that we have around caregiving, and that if you don’t get yourself to it 100%, then you’re not just doing it well. And just like the airlines say, “Put your oxygen mask on first because then you can help other people.” I think it’s very true that if you’re not careful, very careful, I think you become just so worn out with the day-to-day stuff that you stop living, and you just go into existence mode.
23:19 Gina Gardiner: The other thing I would say, and this comes from having children in the school with disabilities, it’s very easy for caregivers for all the right reasons, because they want to care and love for their loved ones, not to allow their loved ones to actually do what they’re capable of. And at times, it might be messy. At times, it might be not as you would like it. But if you are caring for a child or even an elderly parent, there are very often things that they can do. They can peel vegetables on the tray on their lap. They can perhaps do things where there’s no — you’re not worried about their safety, but you can actually support them to take some control of their lives. And in doing so, relieve the burden in some small way from yourself.
24:16 Gina Gardiner: But focusing on what you can do.
24:16 Pamela D. Wilson: That is a great suggestion.
24:18 Gina Gardiner: What they can do, rather than focusing on what you can’t. And reach out and find other people who are in similar situations and talk to them. Big caveat though there, Pamela, is very often when you get into these groups, what they do is they moan, and moaning is contagious. It doesn’t solve anything. It’s like sitting in a rocking chair and expecting to go on a road trip. Moaning just keeps you stuck.
24:47 Pamela D. Wilson: It does.
24:48 Gina Gardiner: Whereas if you look for what’s the solution, what can I do, what will make this easier? I resisted going into a wheelchair big time. What a mistake! I was worried about what would other people think. In reality, nobody batted an eyelid, and I wasted a lot of opportunities. What brought it to a head is I went off to Wesley Gardens, beautiful gardens. At that time, I couldn’t walk very far, and I got from the car to the ticket kiosk where I could have hired a wheelchair, but I wouldn’t. So I sat in the car park for two-and-a-half hours while everybody else went round. And I realized in that two-and-a-half hours what could have been.
25:28 Pamela D. Wilson: Oh, and I think a lot of elderly parents are in that… They are in that situation where they’re embarrassed to use a wheelchair or something that would help them.
25:35 Gina Gardiner: Yes. Well, from my point of view.
25:37 Pamela D. Wilson: And so can you talk about, because we’re going to be out of time shortly. But can you talk about how caregiving can affect marriages? So how do you support your marriage while you’re taking care of elderly parents?
25:48 Gina Gardiner: Communication is absolutely vital. If you’re not communicating, and I mean truly communicating with one another, you’re on a very slippery slope. Ultimately, it’s hard, isn’t it? When one parent is taking a lot of time, and it’s the parent of one of the partnerships. But I think there has to be a bit of give and take. There has to be true communication, and if people work together then they can make anything work out. And having a sense of humor and looking for the ridiculous, I think, helps. There is no doubt, and I don’t want to trivialize it. There is no doubt it’s very, very difficult. But also looking for the opportunities for a little bit of respite, asking for help, somebody to come and sit with them, just so you can go out and actually have some time as a couple. Or have a date night in once the elderly person’s going to bed, watch a film. But instead of doing the housework one night a week or doing whatever it is, catching up, sit on the settee. Affection and intimacy often get lost when people are tired, and I think you need that connection. And it is simply sitting on the settee, watching the TV, holding hands or having a cuddle, that will go a long way to help you stay together.
27:14 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, and I like your suggestion about laughter because, like you say, I try not to trivialize these situations, but if you don’t laugh sometimes, you can’t really survive. And I’m sure that in the years that you’ve been doing this, you probably have laughed a lot.
27:28 Gina Gardiner: I think a very well-developed sense of humor is an absolute must. And not only does it relieve the tension, but it releases the positive hormones which actually make you feel better. It’s the great stress buster. And if you as an individual or as a couple can laugh about what’s going on even when things are pretty dire, then you lighten the load. It doesn’t change the situation, and there’s so much that you can’t change. But if you can’t change it you can change the way you react to it, the way you deal with it. Everything we do is a choice, and even not choosing is a choice. So I would say to people, choose to look for the humor, look for the gift, look for the opportunity even when it’s the darkest days. And I’ve had a few of those. But ultimately you can make a difference.
28:25 Pamela D. Wilson: Okay. We are going to head out for a break. Can you give your website very quickly so that people can find you?
28:32 Gina Gardiner: It’s https: //genuinely-you.com, genuinely-you.com.
28:43 Pamela D. Wilson: Wonderful. Gina, thank you so much for joining us. Go to bed, get some sleep. [chuckle] Coming up after this break…
28:48 Gina Gardiner: Thank you.
28:48 Pamela D. Wilson: We’re going to continue our conversation about being in the sandwich generation, caring for elderly parents and children. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network and Tune In Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
31:23 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 Tune In Radio. Let’s talk about financially supporting parents and caring for elderly parents that involves time. How many of you have thought of moving an elderly parent into your home? The financial support that adult children provide to parents is provided in a number of ways. It could be something as simple as paying for household expenses or other bills, but then there’s also this, what I call the cost of the time that is stolen from other parts of our lives. Many adult children because they think that it’s easier will move an elderly parent into their home.
32:15 Pamela D. Wilson: And I want to share a few statistics from a T. Rowe Price Report. It’s called Parents, Kids & Money 2019, and there are a lot of facts in here that are helpful to support family conversations about money because, again, money is a subject that a lot of people don’t like to talk about. Some statistics: 35% of parents with children between the ages of eight to 14 are caring for elderly parents. One of the reasons that the sandwich generation occurred is that women are having children later in life, in their 30s, and 40s and these women also have elderly parents in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, who all of a sudden need care. Of these families, 68% have an elderly parent living with them in the family home, and this does sometimes become a point of necessity either because the elderly parent doesn’t have the financial resources, the money to live independently, and sometimes the, driving to the parents’ home, the distance, it can be a very big inconvenience factor. Sometimes the distance of an elderly parent from a home of the children does make it impractical or impossible to help out. There are so many children, believe it or not, who drive 30 minutes or an hour or more to help elderly parents.
33:40 Pamela D. Wilson: Some of these children work all week, and they spend weekends at the home of an elderly parent. Some of you listening may be in this situation. And you know that when you have small children and a husband, working all week and then leaving to go care for elderly parents 100 miles away or 200 miles away, that is stressful. There are some benefits though of having elderly parents live in the home. During the school year, instead of paying for before school or after-school care, maybe the elderly parent can be supportive and supervise the children. And the same can apply to summers when children are out of school, and normally parents may have to get childcare. So childcare expenses may actually be reduced or eliminated if an elderly parent is able to provide some type of supervision. Elderly parents–kind of like Gina talked about–can also help with household projects. Maybe they can cook meals or provide support to the family in return for living in that family home. But I will say that when the subject arises of, do we move mom or dad into the home, practical discussions really must occur because our elderly parents, they have their routines, they like things a certain way, believe it or not, so do we.
34:57 Pamela D. Wilson: So when families come together, it may or may not be possible to continue all of these preferences or routines, especially when you’ve got adult children, children who are middle-aged, and then we’ve got grandparents. So the household might be quite a bit noisier than our elderly parents are used to if they were living alone. Friends may be coming and going, there may be pets, a lot of commotion, the adult children who work, you’re up and out early, and you’re back late. The other consideration to talk about really is the relationship that the elderly parent has with the child and the spouse. Of all the relationships, the marital relationships of the children is most important, and if you listen to Gina Gardiner’s interview later, she mentions just doing small things to stay connected because having an elderly parent in that household can be stressful. It can interrupt the marriage, and it can make it difficult for adult children to spend time with their children. It’s important to think long and be very practical before making this decision. And here are some more statistics from the T. Rowe Price Report. On average, adult children are contributing $3,000 every month to the care of an elderly parent, whether living with them or not with them.
36:17 Pamela D. Wilson: Where does that money come from? Sometimes it comes from the family’s emergency fund, retirement savings. Some people take it out of the college savings for their children. 84% of adult children caregivers have argued about money. 83% agree that having to help an elderly parent impacts the way that they think about retirement. 74% agree that caring for an elderly parent has caused financial strain. It also takes time away from children. There is no doubt that being in the sandwich generation, caring for elderly parents and children is stressful all the way around. The T. Rowe Price Report also reveals some surprising information about the fact that adult children caregivers are reluctant to talk to their children about money. That applies to 73% of those caregivers. And this is a good one, 65% of caregivers hide purchases from their spouse. How many of us do that? All of these statistics really do reinforce the importance of maintaining the marital relationship in a positive state to keep the family together. And after this break coming up, we’re going to talk about discussing money with young children and all of the expenses of caring for grandma and grandma.
37:38 Pamela D. Wilson: Because the research shows that these discussions actually are viewed quite positively and they may help children learn how to manage money. Those children who receive an allowance instead of spending it all right away may actually choose to spend it a little differently. Money is a subject that a lot of families don’t want to talk about, but when we bring elderly parents into the home, sometimes that is a conversation that we have to have, including all of the trade-offs that happen when we start to care for elderly parents. The long-term effects of these discussions are so positive.
38:15 Pamela D. Wilson: 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 Tune In Radio. I invite you to follow me on social media, on Facebook, my page is PamelaDWilson.page, on Twitter, I am caregivingspeak, on Instagram, I am WilsonPamelaD, and on LinkedIn, I am PamelaDWilsoncaregiver expert. If you are on LinkedIn, send me an invitation to connect. We will be right back after this break.
41:04 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 Tune In radio. We’re back talking about the sandwich generation and talking about money and the financial costs of paying for care for elderly parents. And before I forget, next week on the show, I will be answering the question that I’m asked a lot — What is assisted living? We will talk about the different types of assisted living and nursing homes, and also talk about legislation that has been passed in several states to protect consumers, which means family caregivers who are searching for care communities for elderly parents.
41:50 Pamela D. Wilson: So, let’s return to talking about money and talking about money in family. While a large number of parents, according to statistics, hesitate to talk to their young children about money and financially paying for care for grandma and grandpa. The T. Rowe Price study confirms 75% of children wished that their aging parents talked to them more about money. These decisions can happen in a non-threatening way by saying something like, “Grandma or grandpa need financial support for their care. So as a family, we are prioritizing our projects. Instead of taking a vacation this year like we normally do, we’ll do activities closer to home so that grandma and grandpa can have the care that they need.”
42:41 Pamela D. Wilson: The conversations are instead of doing X, we will do Y. And many of these discussions actually help children understand that money has a value. That the allowance that they receive has a value, and it helps them decide how to spend money. Having these discussions also opens up the door to talking to your children about saving for retirement. What does happen when older parents need care? And the beauty is that if you’re talking to your children about this, and you eventually need care, they will not be surprised. These discussions make caregiving and planning for care part of life rather than this unexpected part of life that we somehow forget not to talk about.
43:29 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s talk about how the effects of having multiple health diagnoses affect the care of elderly parents with respect to costs. It should come as no surprise that if parents have multiple health conditions, they’re likely to need more medical care, more prescriptions, medical treatments, tests, surgery, more time for the caregiver out of the workplace to take them to doctor appointments. This is when prioritizing time becomes more essential because you have more to manage. It’s important to make a list of projects. Involve your young children, get them to help, have them become more informed about what is happening with grandma and grandpa. And as caregivers, again, consider attending a support group or a course to help with all of the caregiving stress and to become more informed.
44:22 Pamela D. Wilson: The ability to balance work, family, and caregiving, and do this successfully takes a little bit of planning. Many caregivers don’t view caring for elderly parents as a burden, but a responsibility. But that doesn’t mean at certain times that caregiving doesn’t feel burdensome or frustrating, or that you don’t get exhausted. Caregiving can come with a whole host of negative feelings, and this is common. So the way to think about it is, you’re frustrated, life is out of balance. Think of, “you know what I am doing the best I possibly can.” And keep repeating that and repeating that, and repeating that because trying to keep up with all of these caregiving responsibilities, taking care of your husband, and your children, you’re probably feeling very overwhelmed and so many caregivers tell me that they feel guilty. They are worried about making mistakes. They fear the unknown. A lot of caregivers learn by trial and error.
45:23 Pamela D. Wilson: This is where the in-person, or the online support groups and courses can provide a lot of beneficial information. Because there are so many caregivers out there in a similar situation who are trying to balance, and they don’t know where to go. They’re having emotional ups and downs. What a nice way to get into a group, meet other caregivers, and know that you’re not alone.
45:48 Pamela D. Wilson: And you will hear me say all the time, only another caregiver can truly understand what another caregiver goes through. You probably experienced judgment and run into this from the outside world or the workplace — people who don’t have any experience caring for loved ones–they judge you because they have no idea what you’re doing. And then we have all the work issues with the workplace caregivers that come in late, leave early, take parents to doctor appointments. It’s stressful, and caregivers worry about keeping their jobs. We talked earlier with Gina about caregivers wanting to do it all and sometimes to be controlling about how tasks are completed. Some caregivers are perfectionists, and because caregiving is unpredictable, it’s very difficult to try to be perfect, that just brings more stress into the situation. Nobody is perfect. Not families, not elderly parents, not the caregivers, and certainly not all of these situations that relate to needing a care or becoming a caregiver. At best, caregiving is imperfect.
47:04 Pamela D. Wilson: And we all realize that every day when the unexpected things happen. As we talked with Gina, it’s helpful to find laughter and humor in all of these little things that go wrong because situations are never going to be perfect, and if we can laugh about the ludicrous or the crazy or the not so great things that happen, that can help take stress out of the caregiving role. We all have 24 hours in the day, and we can only do our best. As caregivers, we must also realize that we care more than other people about our loved ones, which is a good thing. But it means then that we must be patient with outside providers and the healthcare system who probably don’t have the same priorities as we do.
47:56 Pamela D. Wilson: By prioritizing and completing all of the tasks that we do, we can have a sense of accomplishment. We can say, “Oh my gosh, I did my best today.” And we can end all of this perfectionist thinking, we can become more realistic about all of the expectations that we set for our workplace, for our marriages, for our caregiving situations, and for our relationships with elderly parents, and throw all of that guilt out the window.
48:23 Pamela D. Wilson: I’m Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert. Please share the Caring Generation with your friends, your family, and your co-workers, even the companies where you work, your social groups at church, and everywhere. One in four people that you know are caregivers. They are looking for hope, help, and support that is here on the Caring Generation every Wednesday night. And on my website 24/7 at pameladwilson.com. This is 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’ll be right back.
51:26 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. Self-talk for caregivers to avoid feelings of guilt is important. As caregivers, we can do what we can do, and we want to become more informed so that we can become a better caregiver. We talk about this all the time. Caregiving is a one-day-at-a-time role because sometimes, caregiving can feel out of control and there are times in our life when learning the skill of compartmentalizing is beneficial. What does that word mean? It means scheduling one task or one role at a time and forgetting about everything else. It means not multitasking, which many caregivers try to do. And then what do we feel? We feel like we have accomplished nothing. [chuckle]
52:25 Pamela D. Wilson: Learning the skill of compartmentalizing can help us do things. So, for example, let’s say that you’re a mom, and you want to spend time with your children today, and so you say, “Well I’m going to spend two hours. I’m not going to think about caring for elderly parents. I’m going to do great things with my kids.” You go out, you do it, and you feel fabulous about the time that you spent, and then you move on to being a caregiver.
52:50 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s the idea of shutting it down, shutting down your mind, and training your mind to focus on just being a mother, being with your kids. There are other times when multiple roles really can be done at the same time. This could be like grocery shopping for the family, but you’re also picking up items for an elderly parent, or maybe you’re going to the pharmacy, and you pick up prescriptions.
53:16 Pamela D. Wilson: These types of combinations, they are time-efficient. Also, structuring your time is another component of compartmentalizing. If you make lists then sometimes you can just go down the list and check it off. It can stop you from wanting to hop from one project to the next. You can make a list and just train your mind to work down the list. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish.
53:42 Pamela D. Wilson: As caregivers, having these systems, these lists, and these plans during the week when the sandwich family is working, going to school, caring for elderly parents, it makes the week run a lot more smoothly. Weekends, throw it out the window. You can be less structured even though you may have a number of tasks that are similar to be completed. But, you can plan ahead, plan for the upcoming week, make your to-do list, cook leftovers. When we have a little bit of downtime on the weekend, we feel much less stressed. And so at the times that we feel less stressed, we can spend some family time, we can spend time with children.
54:25 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s also important that everybody in that sandwich family is aware of what everybody else is doing so that we can be more considerate of each other and to pitch in. Assuming that mom or dad–as Gina said are going to take care of everything–not practical. Every family member can have something to contribute, because there are days and weeks when all of these interruptions happen, and plans just go out the window. They go sideways.
54:52 Pamela D. Wilson: Being in the sandwich generation means being a family team ready to help when needed. And the team that understands that elderly parents do need care and that everybody involved is making some type of trade-off to support that care situation. It can be really quite challenging.
55:14 Pamela D. Wilson: Thank you, and blessings to all the caregivers out there in the sandwich generation who are caring for elderly parents and children, you all have such a full life. I thank you for being a caregiver this week. Please share this program with family, friends, and co-workers so that we can make caregiving something that we talk about.
55:34 Pamela D. Wilson: I’m Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert. I’m your host. Thanks for joining me on the Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, and Tune In radio. I look forward to being with you again next Wednesday evening. God bless you all, sleep well tonight and have a fabulous day tomorrow.
55:54 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.
Looking For More Help Caring for Elderly Parents and Finding Balance? You’ll Find What You Are Looking for In the Caring Generation Library Section Caring for Me.