The Caring Generation® The Ultimate Caregiver Survival Skills
The Caring Generation® – Episode 18 December 4, 2019 On this caregiving radio program, Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, talks about The Ultimate Caregiver Survival Skills by sharing caregiver skills and tips. Guest Steve Rubin of The Waves Project Shares Solutions for PTSD and Stress for veterans and all caregivers.
Working caregivers experience challenges with work-life balance. The physical and emotional challenges have caregivers feel like they are running on empty. Pamela shares caregiver survival skills and tips to help with managing care for elderly parents and loved ones.
Veterans who return home from active duty are at an increased risk of developing mental health conditions. The benefits of SCUBA improve overall mental health, restore marriages and support family relationships especially for disabled veterans.
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The Ultimate Caregiver Skills Checklist
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’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on 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. You can take and share The Caring Generation podcast replays with you wherever you go. The podcasts are on your favorite sites, Apple, Google, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Spreaker, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Castbox, and more.
01:31 Pamela D. Wilson: Today, we’ll be talking about caregiver survival skills. Are you a caregiver watching a parent experience growing health concerns? Do you feel like your situation is failing and out of control? Does your family get along or not? If not, you can check out The Caring Generation radio show called, “Why Families Don’t Get Along,” for helpful tips and information. Are you in a situation where you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, lonely, or isolated? These are all situations that caregivers find themselves living through day after day. Creating your ultimate caregiver survival skills kit includes talking about what I call the environment, by asking, what is the situation, and what are you trying to accomplish? To create the ultimate caregiver survival skills kit, ask what are you willing to do for your caregiving situation to succeed?
02:27 Pamela D. Wilson: Are you willing to have a do instead of a try attitude? Next, we have the emotional aspects of caregiver survival skills. How to maintain a positive attitude when it feels like the situation is out of control. In the second segment of our show tonight, we will visit with Steve Rubin and Kristi Piatkowski of the WAVES Project. Their website is wavesproject.org. They work with disabled veterans through the activity of Scuba to relieve PTSD and stress. Caregivers who have been in this role for years can experience PTSD as a result of all of the ongoing stress and the unexpected events. Being a caregiver, being responsible for the care of another person, is stressful. Let’s talk about survival skills that mean different things to different people. Outdoor survival skills are activities like trying to find drinking water. Maybe creating a shelter if you’re out in the wilderness without a tent. Those of you who enjoy camping, you know what I’m talking about when the weather changes if you are out there. Let’s say you’re here in Colorado on a 14er, and all of a sudden, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, it starts snowing and it’s in the middle of the summer. You need some survival skills.
03:43 Pamela D. Wilson: Other examples are creating warmth by building a campfire. Maybe you have to hunt for food, cook a meal. You should always have a compass with you to help with directions. Survival skills for caregivers are similar. But they’re different in that the environment that you’re working with might be your elderly parent’s home. And that idea of having shelter, it can be compared to where the care happens. Is your elderly parent living at home? Or are mom and dad in a care community? Let’s say home. The home has to be maintained. So, heat, a stove to cook, food, all of those basics. Like having outdoor survival skills, caregivers need that compass or a goal for what you want to have happen in your care situation. Let’s use an example of an elderly parent that has a combination of health issues. Maybe a parent is overweight and because of this, because of the weight, your mom or dad can’t walk or move around very well. They struggle. Mom or dad’s knees may be painful. Add to this some other health concerns, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes.
04:57 Pamela D. Wilson: Your parent, do they have health issues that you don’t know how to solve? Have you been involved in their medical care? Meaning going to doctor appointments or making sure that mom or dad are taking their medications. You know that mom and dad want to stay at home. Do you know how to make that happen? Are you and your mom or dad aware of the seriousness of the health issues that seem to be getting worse? When we look at caregiver survival skills, we look at what’s happening, or what the problems are, what we want to solve or what we want to survive? And we have to think about a plan. The challenge here is that if that plan were totally up to us as the caregivers, that would be so easy. The challenge is that in most cases, the plan involves other people. This is where it gets complicated. An elderly parent, grandparent, a spouse, brothers, sisters, long list of family members. Trying to work through the situation with your elderly parent takes discussions, and gaining their agreement about a plan. Whoever knew that being a caregiver was going to be so complicated?
06:15 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s no wonder that we have to develop a caregiver survival skills kit for every different situation. Being in a caregiver situation has two modes. I call it the try mode, and the do mode. When we become exhausted as caregivers, or we feel out of control, we lean toward that try mode. This is when we hear ourselves saying, “Oh, I’ll try to do that, maybe I’ll get to that,” because we’re not really sure whether we will or not. When a more serious problem arises that puts pressure on us, that becomes a must-do situation. Let’s say that you’ve tried to talk to your mom or dad, and you haven’t really made any progress. But the consequences are now a wheelchair for your mom if she doesn’t lose weight, and you’re worried about your job security because of all the time off you are having to take for doctor appointments. This is where the caregiver survival skills really have to kick in. If you are truly stuck, all it means is that you have a knowledge gap, or you lack the skills to negotiate an agreeable situation with your parent. This can be improved. You can do this.
07:25 Pamela D. Wilson: There are times when we all need a little bit of help to see a situation more clearly so that we can make a plan to move forward. If surviving and improving a situation is the goal, we can’t be okay with the situation as it is. Ask yourself, what is needed to move forward? Do you need more medical advice? What new skills would be helpful to move the situation forward? Or does the entire situation hinge on having a very serious discussion with an elderly parent that you would so much rather avoid, but you can’t? How do you have this conversation so that your parent participates and doesn’t dismiss you as being silly, or unnecessarily worried, or bothersome, or just some kid who’s trying to get into their business? [chuckle] We all feel like we lack control over caregiving situations when information is up in the air when things are undecided. When they’re not wrapped up in neat little packages. Same thing goes for other situations in our life.
08:34 Pamela D. Wilson: So, to further develop our caregiving survival skills kit, we want to look at what we can do that will have the most significant positive effect on our life. Coming up after the break, we are going to talk to Steve Rubin and Kristi Piatkowski of the WAVES Project. Their website is wavesproject.org. They are a 501c3 non-profit organization that helps American veterans and their families experience the benefits of scuba to reduce PTSD and stress. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host, you’re listening to The Caring Generation coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio, we’ll be right back.
11:29 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert, your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. We are back to visit with Steve Rubin and Kristi Piatkowski of the WAVES Project. Their website is wavesproject.org, and the phone number is 951-308-0049. Steve and Kristi, welcome.
11:55 Steve Rubin: Thank you.
11:55 Steve Rubin: Well, thank you, Pamela, for having us on your show and to talk about what we do here at the WAVES Project.
12:02 Pamela D. Wilson: My pleasure. So, Steve, WAVES. You’re a non-profit. You focus on scuba for veterans. Why scuba and why veterans?
12:11 Steve Rubin: Well, you know, WAVES is an acronym, it stands for Wounded American Veterans Experience, but when we first started, it was a fluke. It was to show a veteran our passion for scuba diving. And what we discovered is the powers of the ocean, the therapeutic values of water, and how that correlates with veterans that are suffering from either physical disabilities, posttraumatic stress, or even brain, or traumatic brain injury. So, it has been something that it is kind of, it’s caught up with us as we, at first was just trying to share our passion as a sport with veterans back when we first started.
13:04 Pamela D. Wilson: Scuba takes two people, so you need a dive buddy. So, for veterans who choose their wife or another family member to be that dive buddy, how does that help with their life and their family relationships?
13:16 Steve Rubin: Well, you know, a veteran that has been, or let me put it this, somebody that has been in the military for eight, 12, 20 years, spends a lot of their time these days deployed away from their family. So, when they get back to the family unit, it’s a strange environment. We had a veteran Marine, and after three deployments filled out an application and called us and said, “You know when I left on my first deployment, my son was three years old and now that I am rotating out, he is 14. And the first day that I was home, we were down at breakfast and I said, so what do you eat for breakfast?” And he says, “I don’t even know him.” And he asked, “Can my son join me on this?” So that happens the same with the wives. And when we first started, we did quite a bit of research and we wanted to find out what needs were being fulfilled out there and what needs weren’t being fulfilled out there to the veteran community. And we found, there’s a lot of great organizations out there that provide various things for veterans and they do a great job. But one thing that talking to some of the wives and the caregivers say is that he goes off and goes hunting, go fishing, goes snow skiing and we stay at home, and then he comes back and it’s just like the military when he was gone.
15:00 Steve Rubin: So, scuba diving being a buddy sport, we decided right out of the gate that we’re going to include the veteran and a buddy of their choice. This has shown to be a very positive decision to the point to where we’ve heard from veterans is — that when I got home, I didn’t know what was going on. There’s power struggles in the house, and by my wife and I doing this, we started to rely on each other again, and it has helped with our marriage. It helped with our family life, and it’s just been a blessing in their lives.
15:40 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, and I can’t imagine, it’s like you go away, you knew somebody, you go away, and you come back and you don’t know who that person is. One of the goals of WAVES is that you provide ongoing opportunities to scuba dive, so not just, we train you, and then you’re on your own. Why are those ongoing opportunities important?
16:02 Steve Rubin: So, our four pillars are training, equipment, the camaraderie, and serving back or having a purpose. So, all four of these things develop a purpose. So, what we have noticed, and I saw it in my nephew when he came back from Iraq in 2008, he spent, he says that he spent 18 months learning how to become a soldier, and two days to get out of the military. So when he gets home, he doesn’t know what to do. He is confused on what to do. Not saying that, he had no idea, but all of a sudden his life changes. So, everything for the last four or five, six years has been planned, dictated. He knew exactly what he was going to do when he woke up and the time he went to bed. And now he is sitting at home not knowing what to do and he just kinda goes, he just went into a recluse mode. So, the thing is to provide a purpose in what he is doing. So, when we first started, the funding was very minimal and it was just the experience of scuba diving. But what we learned is that we needed to have more to do to provide the purpose. So now, we will train veterans from open water all the way up to instructor. And then we have programs that we have with the National Parks and we’re working also with Noah to have what we call mission-oriented diving. So, there’s reasons why we go diving, like being deployed, we go out and we do specific jobs, and duties to kind of bring that purpose full circle.
18:00 Pamela D. Wilson: Okay. We are going to continue this conversation with Steve Rubin and Kristi of the WAVES Project after this break, and when we come back, I want to ask you about the level of disability. So, after the break, let’s talk about what level of disability a veteran can have. Do they have to be walking and talking, or how disabled can they be to participate in your program? The website for the WAVES Project is wavesproject.org. Their phone number is 951-308-0049, 951-308-0049. Please share The Caring Generation with your family, friends, co-workers, and everyone that you know so that we can be more informed about health, well-being, and caring for ourselves. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. We’ll be right back after this break.
21:17 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert, I’m your host, you’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. We’re back to continue our conversation with the WAVES Project, Steve Rubin, and Kristi Piatkowski. So Steve, talk about the level of disability for a veteran who wants to participate in the program, what is the, maybe give an example of the most severe disability that you have helped a person learn to do scuba diving.
21:53 Steve Rubin: You know, the disability is, they’re various. There’s post-traumatic stress, which is an emotional disability, the traumatic brain injuries, and there’s the physical injuries. We’ve worked with amputees, paraplegia injuries. We’ve worked with severe post-traumatic stress and a traumatic brain injury. So, our staff is all trained in handicap scuba instruction. We can work with anybody up to a disability with, up and including quadriplegic. So, the water is just, if you can imagine, once somebody that is either, has an amputation or is paralyzed, once we get them in the water and we teach them the buoyancy, there’s really now no disability. They are equal to their dive buddy that is their partner or their caregiver. One is kicking with fins, one swimming with web gloves.
23:04 Steve Rubin: With post-traumatic stress, the focus, the breathing oxygen therapy, the partial pressure underwater, there’s a lot of things that are that came into effect, that actually help work with the people or the veterans that are suffering from posttraumatic stress. John Hopkins did a study back in 2011 that they took 19 wheeled vets down to the Cayman Islands. The ten that participated in scuba diving they showed up to an 80% reduction in post-traumatic stress symptoms, with 100% of the veterans that participated for up to six weeks after they dove. So, they showed an 80% reduction in the symptoms. So, there’s really no disability that we cannot work with. It’s really the Veteran feeling comfortable of getting in the water with us.
24:07 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, and let me ask you that. So, I’m a veteran. I’m disabled, I am scared to death [chuckle] of scuba. How do you train me so that I’m okay with all this?
24:15 Steve Rubin: Well, we’re going to spend eight hours in the pool with you, so at least eight hours. So, we use the pool as our simulator. So, if you can relate it back to the military, a pilot that goes into the Navy or the Air Force, Army, Marine Corp, they just don’t turn over the set of keys to an airplane and say, “good luck,” alright? So, we spend eight hours in the pool getting people comfortable breathing underwater, comfortable with the equipment, comfortable with scenarios. So, we have 23, 24 scenarios, that if this happens, this is what you do. If this happens, this is what you do. And we work to them to a point to where they’re comfortable and confident, and also the instructional staff is comfortable and confident now to go to the next step. Take them to the ocean and then show them really what’s going on underwater, and the sea life, and the exciting experiences that they can enjoy.
25:15 Pamela D. Wilson: Okay. Kristi, let me switch over to you. So, talk about somebody wants to join the program, do they have to live in Southern California? And how are you funded? Do you have enough money to accept everyone that is interested in learning scuba?
25:32 Kristi Piatkowski: We are funded 100% through donations and our donors. And so, we have two locations, one is in Southern California, and one is in, excuse me, Texas. And so, if they’re anywhere in those areas, that’s a little bit easier. We’re trying to right now expand our funding so that those that are on our waiting list, we can service regardless of whatever state that they’re in. And that’s one thing that happened this last year is that we really, our waiting list and the people applying to our program, it exploded. And so, we have a lot more on our waiting list right now. And so, we are very lucky at the moment to be having a matching grant through two donors and so, together they will match our funding and that means any donation that comes in, whether it’s $20, $1000, $2000 will be matched 100% and that will really help us serve some of those veterans on our waiting list and really help us to continue some of those projects, like the mission-oriented projects which are really important to the long-term ongoing support for the veterans.
26:42 Pamela D. Wilson: That matching program sounds wonderful. And yesterday was, was it Gives Day in California? It was Gives Day in Colorado where people are donating money to charities. Did you have that where you are?
26:53 Kristi Piatkowski: Yes, yes, it’s international. It was Giving Tuesday, and so that really kickstarted our program. Any gifts that come in through the end of the year will be matched, and so, we really want to try and get as much as we can right now. So that we can really start to get those veterans coordinated and kind of to the water. Because as you may know, 22 veterans every day take their own life. And so, the more that we have on the waiting list, the more anxious we really get, because we know that they’re reaching out because they really need support right now.
27:24 Pamela D. Wilson: And so, if people have questions about WAVES or how the donor program works, do they call you? How do they get a hold of somebody to get their questions answered?
27:34 Kristi Piatkowski: Great question. Well, they can call that phone number. They can also go to the website and research us. Our website is wavesproject.org. They can go on to our Facebook. Our Facebook is The Waves Project. And the best way is just to email us, to call us, and really to reach out and we can really go from there.
27:53 Pamela D. Wilson: Perfect. So, I thank you both for joining us and for all of the information that you shared. I think it was so important so that people realize that veterans — there are programs out there for veterans and there are a lot of really great organizations and great people out there. For more information again, about the WAVES Project, visit the website, it is wavesproject.org, or you can call and talk to Kristi or Steve at 951-308-0049, 951-308-0049. Coming up after the break, we’ll continue our conversation about caregiver survival skills. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults are on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. My caregiving library is there. The blog is there along with useful articles and podcast replays of the show. Again, please remember to donate to the WAVES Project. If you want to share this program, it will be available on the website in about a week. You can also follow me on my Facebook page. It’s PamelaDWilson.page. I’m Pamela Wilson, your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
31:25 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert. I’m your host for The Caring Generation radio program coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Help, hope and support for caregivers are available on my website, PamelaDWilson.com, and a reminder, take and share The Caring Generation with you wherever you go. I know how busy caregivers are and that there is rarely enough time in the day. All of the podcasts are on your favorite sites, Apple, Google, Pandora, Spotify, Spreaker, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Castbox, and more. When we left off we were talking about the idea of keeping elderly parents at home and how any type of change in health can make that difficult, and we’ll continue to use the example of a mom who’s a little bit overweight, she needs to lose 20 pounds so that she can walk to avoid having to use that wheelchair. Mom also has diabetes and high blood pressure.
32:22 Pamela D. Wilson: So one of the caregiver’s next steps, one of your next steps, so that you can better understand the situation, is to take mom to a doctor’s appointment, and to learn how all of these conditions work together. There are two shows from The Caring Generation that can help with the subject of health and talking to doctors, they are called Patient Engagement and Why Caregiving Takes More Than Love. Both of those programs have practical information for caregivers and your elderly parents who might find yourselves in these situations and you don’t know what to do. A lot of these conditions work together and they can be hard to manage if you’re not sure what the next steps are.
33:03 Pamela D. Wilson: You’ll learn something from both of those podcasts. So, one of the keys to figuring out how to change or improve that care situation for your elderly parent or a loved one is to really have an open mind and be positive about learning. Because there are so many things that we can learn about health and well-being. But if we have our minds shut closed, then we’re not going to get the information that we need to help our elderly parents. And I’ll tell you, our minds have all the reasons in the world to say, “I am not going to do that,” because we think it’s going to take more work, time, or effort. Maybe we don’t want to find out more information or we’re worried about trying something new. Maybe we’re worried about making a mistake. Making questions for doctors, being open-minded, learning is part of your caregiver survival skills kit. In some situations, being curious by continually asking questions helps you be resilient, and what resilient means is that in spite of having ongoing difficulties or challenges or frustrations that you as the caregiver, you keep going, you never give up.
34:16 Pamela D. Wilson: Learning to be resilient is part of creating our own caregiver survival skills kit. We may let an aging parent down if we don’t continue to advocate, and when we’re in a situation where we’re more open-minded, people become more helpful. Doctors become more helpful, nurses become more helpful, because they feel that you’re actually taking an interest in your health or the health of a loved one. Another tool to create your survival kit is a daily pattern to release worries, negative thoughts, and emotions. Do you have a daily pattern? Do you have a routine that you follow every day that you don’t allow any interruptions to stop you from completing that routine? To give you an example of mine, I wake up at a crazy hour. [chuckle] I wake up an hour early every day. It’s usually around 4:30 because I am a morning person, I love the quiet of the morning and I love to watch the sunrise. My routine is meditation, I make breakfast, I take my vitamins, I get dressed for work.
35:23 Pamela D. Wilson: That meditation is a huge part of my morning and my evening routine. It helps me clear my mind, calm my mind, and help me to focus on projects that I have to get done that day and on problem-solving. For you, that routine may be listening to music. Maybe you want to soak in the bathtub, read the newspaper, go outdoors for a walk. Whatever it is, create some type of routine. Try a few activities, see what works for you and put that in your caregiver survival skills toolkit. It’s necessary as caregivers for us to clear out all that junk out of our minds and to stay away from negative emotions because if all we think all negative thoughts, surviving caregiving concerns gets to be a much harder and a longer road. You know that your elderly parent has health concerns, so the next step again is, gain permission to attend the doctor’s appointment with your parent.
36:21 Pamela D. Wilson: How do you do that? Here’s how it goes. “Mom, I know that you have some health concerns going on, and I’d like to be more helpful. I know very little about high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, whatever that diagnosis happens to be. Mom, would it be okay if I go with you to your next doctor appointment so that I can ask questions? I also want to learn for myself so that I can be proactive about avoiding these health issues.” There, you said it. You did a great job. You expressed concerns about mom’s health. You said you wanted to be more helpful. You mentioned being proactive for yourself. My guess is that your mom is going to agree. But in working to solve one problem, you created another. You created a workplace problem. And so now you want to go into caregiver survival skills mode and make an appointment to talk to your supervisor.
37:15 Pamela D. Wilson: You talk to your supervisor about the doctor appointment, taking time off work. But at the same time, you have solutions to make up for that time off work. By planning ahead, the situation with your supervisor works out. And on that subject, if your company does not have programs for working caregivers, mention this radio show, have the Human Resources Department contact me, I do all kinds of programs for large companies and their human resources department for caregiver programs. As a caregiver, it’s important to keep working through all these issues, to never give up, because we are all going to have bumps in the road when it comes to being a caregiver for an elderly parent. We just have to figure out how to work all of that out. Stay with me. We’re going to talk more about caregiver survival skills and how to help elderly parents with medical issues.
38:11 Pamela D. Wilson: So, doctor appointments, making sure that you’re asking the right questions and even just how to express concern to your parents without being nagging, because [chuckle] none of us want to be nagged. Please share The Caring Generation radio show with your family, your friends, your co-workers, employers, and everybody that you know. It’s important that we’re able to talk about caregiving issues and not to feel embarrassed about bringing up concerns and also to find ways to be positive about caregiving. We love what we do. We love our parents, but sometimes, caregiving can be frustrating. This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
41:18 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. We’re back to continue our conversation about creating our own caregiver survival skills checklist. What happens when you realize how much your elderly parent has been struggling to manage medical issues because the doctor tells you this? The reason this happens is that your mom or your dad didn’t put your name or really anyone’s name into the doctor’s file as a point of contact or even just sharing information. You took your mom to the doctor. You also learned that the doctor is concerned that your mother doesn’t have her medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney, or a living will. So that is another project to add to the long list of things that you, as the caregiver, now have to get done. All of the doctors that you took your mom to, let’s say a cardiologist, endocrinologist, they all are telling you that your mom is struggling. They’re concerned that she may not be taking her prescription medications. You kind of agree because you have seen the same concerns, but you didn’t really know what to do about it.
42:38 Pamela D. Wilson: So, the follow-ups from these appointments that you attended, the cardiologist recommended an appointment with a neurologist for memory testing, because they are concerned that your mom may have Alzheimer’s or dementia, and that’s related to the heart disease or diabetes. They also want you to take your mom to a nutritionist to help her learn how to lose 20 pounds. So, all of this is great, but you’re thinking, “Oh my gosh, what about work? I’ve got to talk to my supervisor again.” It’s the thought of more doctor appointments, more time off. How to manage. But again, this is something that you can figure out if you’re proactive, and you talk to your supervisor at work and make plans to make up the time. Your parents want to remain independent, and so they may not be very good about managing their own medical care, and sometimes even they don’t know what to ask doctors.
43:35 Pamela D. Wilson: So, all of these responsibilities fall on you as the caregiver. So, the question is, what is the next caregiver survival skill for you to develop? It’s actually creating or developing a network of social support for you, the caregiver. Do you have family members or friends with whom you are in close touch? Can you call any of these people to talk about issues with your mom, and just have them listen? It is so important for all caregivers in all situations to have some type of a support network, because all of these responsibilities, they can build up. They can also lead to feeling lonely or isolated because you feel like you’re the only one there.
44:18 Pamela D. Wilson: Making a phone call to a friend who’s willing to listen, might be exactly what you need on a day where it feels like everything is falling apart. If you don’t have a support network, find a way to create one. This is going to become more important as time passes, because the needs of your elderly parent, they are only going to increase. You can also find support groups in person or online. Doesn’t matter where you find the support, only that you find it, that you talk to people in person, online, pick up the phone, call, send an email. Just that you have this person out there that you know that you can talk to on days when you feel like you won’t survive being a caregiver. So, following along the doctor’s recommendations you make an appointment with the elder law attorney to talk about the power of attorney documents, and during that meeting, you’re talking to the attorney about why you’re there, the appointment with the neurologist, and the attorney says, hold, put it on hold. We can’t do anything until after you go to that doctor’s appointment.
45:24 Pamela D. Wilson: The doctor never told you that mentioning memory loss could be a problem with completing estate documents. Because memory loss can affect your parent’s ability to understand what they’re actually signing in those documents, and the attorney has a legal responsibility to make sure that your mom or dad or really anybody who is completing the estate planning process, understands the information in those documents so that there are no questions down the road. So, your next step is a neurologist appointment, give the information to the attorney, make another appointment. And fortunately, in this situation, because you have been so good in talking to your mom about this, or your dad, they are agreeing with everything and how it’s working out. These ongoing conversations with parents are so important to get their buy-in and their agreement so that you’re not having to battle and that they understand and really appreciate everything that you’re doing because this is a lot of work. It’s also a lot of emotional stress.
46:30 Pamela D. Wilson: It’s also good to be able to talk to family members. So let’s say that you call your cousin who is your mom’s sister’s daughter, and you’re sharing this information and she’s saying, “Oh my gosh, my mom is going through the same thing.” And so, you all decide to get together to have a meeting. You ask your mom if it’s okay, and this is the next caregiver survival skill. It’s the idea of talking to your mom or your dad, or both about what they want. Do they want to stay at home? Is a care community something that they would eventually consider? How are they going to pay for all of this care? It’s important to talk about all of the practical concerns of who will help, who will provide that care, who is going to pay for their care? Because remember, you have a full-time job to hold down.
47:24 Pamela D. Wilson: The other important points of discussion are really the memory loss in this situation and managing all of the health concerns. Three other helpful programs of The Caring Generation are the Costs of Caring for Elderly Parents, What is Assisted Living? and the Signs of Dementia Checklist. You can find all of these on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. Go to the media tab and to The Caring Generation tab. Next week we’ve got another great show for you, it is called Is Healthcare Forgetting the Elderly? Dr. Mary Wyman from the University of Wisconsin joins us to talk about how middle-aged adults and the elderly are treated or not by the healthcare system. Have you ever noticed that when you take your elderly parent to the doctor, the doctor may not be as attentive as he or she should? We’re going to be coming up to another break. You can follow me on my Facebook page, which is PamelaDWilson.page. There are videos there, other helpful information for caregivers and aging adults. I’m also on Twitter at CaregivingSpeak, and you can find me on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. My website is PamelaDWwilson.com. You’re listening to The Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back after this break.
51:19 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 TuneIn Radio. We’re back talking about the caregiver skills survival checklists. Let’s do a quick review of the caregiver survival skills that we discussed so far. We started by talking about noticing the health concerns of an elderly parent or an elderly loved one. Skill number one was to invite yourself, with permission from their loved one, to doctor appointments so that you can learn about the health diagnosis, receive doctor recommendations, and learn how to help your parent. Skill number two was — you were surprised to learn that your aging parent wasn’t managing his or her health concerns, but you were able to identify steps to be more proactive about health and well-being, not only for your parent but yourself. We also talked about possible memory loss diagnoses and how to get that diagnosed by a neurologist. So that if your parents don’t have power of attorney documents, you can eventually get those done.
52:36 Pamela D. Wilson: We talked about skills related to self-care survival skills. The first is to create a regular daily routine to avoid worry and negative thinking. The second one is to create or use your social network of friends and family so that you have somebody to call on those bad days when things are just going crazy. We also talked about initiating the conversation with your parent about what their wishes are, where they want to live, who is going to be that caregiver, the cost of care, and all of those options. By having those conversations and creating that backup plan, you can avoid caregiving catastrophes and unnecessary drama. You are also proactive about talking to your supervisor about needing time off to take care of your elderly parent so that you can balance caregiving with time off from work. Having all of these plans puts you in a position to be less stressed. You can continue to balance work, life, and caregiving. But it’s important you’ve got to remember, make a plan for you every day.
53:44 Pamela D. Wilson: Keep learning about health and medical care, work-life, and caregiving. And remember to laugh. Laughter is so important and it’s a good stress relief. The other thing is to create a 30-day diary of things that you appreciate by writing down three things a day. By bringing this appreciation into your life, you become more thankful about all of the good things that you have. Expressing appreciation is so good for helping us keep all of that negativity and worry out of our lives as caregiving needs increase. And when you go back and you take a look at that appreciation notebook, you’ll see all the progress and all the success and all of the accomplishments that you made toward that original goal of keeping your parent at home or helping your parent manage his or her health.
54:38 Pamela D. Wilson: As caregivers, it’s so easy to be swept up in all these activities. Everything that we need to do, and we rarely show any type of appreciation to ourselves or give ourselves a pat on the back, which is so important. Other Caring Generation radio shows that tie into creating this. You can find them on my website at PamelaDWilson.com. One of them is called When Work and Caregiving Collide. For all of you caregivers out there, family caregivers, professional caregivers, if you’re working in care communities, hospitals, medical offices, thank you for all the work that you’ve done. And if nobody has told you that you are amazing, you are all amazing and fabulous. Remember, continue to make strides toward creating your caregiver survival kit so that you can continue to do all the work that you do in helping your elderly parents, your clients and your patients. Join me next week for Is Healthcare Forgetting the Elderly? I’m Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert. I’m your host, thank you for joining me on The Caring Generation Radio Program for caregivers and aging adults. I look forward to being with you all again next Wednesday evening. God bless you, sleep well tonight, have a fabulous day tomorrow, and every day until we are together again.
56:00 S1: 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.