What’s Really Making You Sick?
The Caring Generation® Episode 3 August 7, 2019 On this caregiving radio program Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert asks the question, Are You a Helper or a Caregiver? Special guest, Dr. Robert Kellum joins Pamela to answer the question, What’s Really Making You Sick? Caregivers have a long list of things to do. Can being a caregiver make you sick? Learn about things that can make you sick.
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, and I am thrilled to be here with you this evening. You are listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers, and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, TuneIn Radio, and here in Colorado. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring, giving us permission to laugh, to talk about aging, the challenges of caregiving, health, and everything in between. Know that you’re not alone, in fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and become more informed.
Please invite your family, your friends, your coworkers, everybody that you know to join us each week on The Caring Generation, because needing care or becoming a caregiver can turn our world upside down. Helpful information and solutions to caregiving problems are on my website at pameladwilson.com. You can also send me an email with program suggestions and comments by clicking on the “Contact Me” button.
01:52 Pamela D Wilson: This week, we’ll be answering the question: Are you a helper or a caregiver? So many people involved in caregiving begin by helping aging parents, a spouse, other people. It starts with small things like grocery shopping and errands. Then, all of a sudden, the situation transitions. You’re providing more and more care, maybe hands-on care, maybe medical care. How is it possible that we are caregivers without realizing it? I’ll share information about the role of a caregiver during this program.
In our second segment, we’ll visit with special guest Dr. Robert Kellum, to answer the question: What’s really making you sick? Dr. Kellum visits us from Portland, Oregon. He is a board licensed naturopathic physician, a practitioner of classical Chinese medicine, and has he’s been a licensed bodyworker for over 28 years. He holds advanced degrees in Sociology, Anthropology, and Psychology.
02:52 Pamela D Wilson: How many of you are helping an aging parent or a spouse, or maybe you work in a care community, maybe you’re a professional caregiver? How do you respond to days when unexpected situations happen, and your mood goes from being calm to, ah, chaotic, you want to scream? [chuckle] We all have these days. I call them the emotional roller coaster of caregiving. It is possible, though to learn how to manage our emotions. There are so many things that we can learn from caregiving situations. From the time that I was young, I remember my mother being sick. She had heart disease that grew into other illnesses. I remember her spending a lot of time at the doctor when I was very young. And then when I was older, I was the one that she called to take her to the hospital emergency room. These calls came on weeknights and weekends when I wasn’t working.
You may be experiencing the same thing with your parents or your loved ones. Those phone calls, ugh, they were an alarm. Back then, there was no caller ID. All I knew was that the phone was ringing and it was going to be some type of emergency or possibly even bad news about my mom. And by that time, other people in our family had already died. Her sister had a heart attack and died in the car on the way to the hospital. All I knew was at that age; I didn’t want to be like them. I didn’t want to be sick. I watched my mom, and there were so many days that she slept because she didn’t feel well.
04:24 Pamela D Wilson: Is your situation like this? Are you helping? Did your parents get exhausted from running simple errands? At that time, I started reading books about health. I started going to the gym; I started realizing how out of shape I was. In my early 20s, I went to a beginner’s aerobics class, and I thought, “How hard could this be?” Oh my gosh, I did my first class, my heart was beating a thousand beats a minute. I was so out of breath. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. But I was so out of shape, which scared me even more. And I quickly realized that if I didn’t want to be like my mother, I had all these habits I had to change. Back then, my favorite candy bar, it was Snickers. I had a sweet tooth like crazy. I gave up the sweets, I started taking vitamins, I went to the gym regularly, I even started running, and all the while, my mother’s health kept getting worse.
You might be seeing this with your aging parents or your loved ones. Because of that, I immersed myself in information about health. I made friends at the gym; we hung out, we were active, we played volleyball, we water skied. I even started running; I started running to my parents’ house in the evenings, which was, it was about three miles from my house. It gave me a chance to check on my mom, and then my dad was so kind, he actually drove me back home.
05:46 Pamela D Wilson: Watching a loved one’s health decline, it can make us feel helpless, but it can also be that wakeup call that we need for ourselves. Are any of you in the situation where you’re watching a parent, maybe your grandparent, a spouse, their health is just going downhill, and you’re watching it? My mom, when I was a caregiver, she became suddenly ill. It was the week of Thanksgiving, and she went in for quadruple bypass surgery. That surgery was the beginning of a nine-year decline until she died. It was one thing after another. She acquired Hepatitis C from a blood transfusion; then, she was more tired than she was before. And because she was so tired, she was less active, being less active made her physically weak. The couch and a living room recliner became her new best friends.
06:39 Pamela D Wilson: Your parents may be experiencing the same thing. There were more doctor appointments, more emergency room visits; it just seemed like one thing after another. How many of you are experiencing that? My mom became so tired after all of that — that she was afraid of leaving the house because she was afraid that if she left, something was going to happen. How many of you are in a situation where your parents aren’t very active? They stay home and hesitate to go out because they too think that something is going to happen. They have health conditions that make them not feel very well, or maybe you work in caregiving, and you see clients in similar situations.
Being a caregiver doesn’t have to be such a struggle. Life can be better. All those years, I spent hours in the hospital emergency rooms and in the hospital with my mom. There were so many doctor appointments, picking up prescriptions, trying to talk my mom into losing weight, and believe it or not, after all that, I still didn’t see myself as a caregiver. Do you wonder why? I’ll share the reason in the second half of this hour. You can visit my website, pameladwilson.com, and click on How I Help for more information. There’s information there about my online courses and support groups.
07:57 Pamela D Wilson: Coming up after the break we’ll talk about surprising reasons you might be feeling sick with Dr. Robert Kellum, who is a board-licensed naturopathic physician. He’s a practitioner of classical Chinese medicine, and he’s been a bodyworker for over 28 years. I’m Pamela D Wilson. You are with me on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network and TuneIn radio. If you’re looking for helpful information about caregiving, it’s all on my website, which is pameladwilson.com.
And if you’re listening on the BBM Global website page for The Caring Generation tonight, I would love to hear from you. Help me make this program interesting and entertaining. Scroll to the bottom of that website page, leave me a comment or a suggestion for a future program. I promise to respond. Let’s make caregiving something that we talk about, and before this break, I’d just like to say hello to all of my Facebook friends, the people who follow me on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on Instagram. Thank you so much for joining me, and please share this program with others. There are so many caregivers out there who need a lot of help. We’re going to take a break. We will be right back.
11:29 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, I am 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, TuneIn radio, and here in beautiful Colorado. Follow me on Facebook at pameladwilson.page, or you can watch my daily Facebook live videos, and please share them with others in my mission to reach one million caregivers. If you’re feeling sick, you might be wondering why. Joining us is Dr. Robert Kellum from his office in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Kellum, how are you today?
12:04 Dr. Robert Kellum: Hi, I’m well, thank you.
12:07 Pamela D Wilson: So you have a naturopathic practice, can you share what inspired you to go into this type of work?
12:16 Dr. Robert Kellum: Well, I had originally been a teacher at University level in upstate New York, and kind of got just disillusioned with it and wanted to do something more. And I got a major change in life. I went through a divorce and change the way I ate, and got involved in alternative types of medicine. And then my mother got cancer, and I made a decision with my new-to-be wife to actually go and take care of her for the last six months of her life. And that was a huge change for me that led me to, afterwards, realize I wanted to go into this with more depth and try to help make some changes in how people are cared for.
13:07 Pamela D Wilson: When you saw that with your mom, did that… Did you see like gaps in what I call the traditional healthcare system that made you kind of investigate this naturopathic practice?
13:17 Dr. Robert Kellum: Yeah, it was an irony because my sister is a conventional nurse, and in a way, there was a kind of a battle between us. I love my sister, and she loves me, but there was this tension there. I think my mother ended up trying to please both of us and it put her in the middle of something which probably wasn’t good for her. But definitely things that were done on my mother that were so… In retrospect, they were so… It was unfortunate some of the things that were done.
13:50 Pamela D Wilson: I agree. My mother passed away over 20 years ago, and looking… It’s kind of like you look back and you think, “Oh my gosh. We should have known so much better.” There was an article of yours, and this is kind of how I found you, it’s called To Know Thyself. Can you talk about maybe a client story in that article and talk about how our life relationships can affect our health?
14:11 Dr. Robert Kellum: Sure. I had one in mind. I had a 67-year-old fourth stage lung cancer patient who came to me about four years ago who only had been given six months to live. And cancer is often associated… The particular type of cancer is associated with relational events, and we do often think about grief as being a common precursor to lung cancer. It’s not written in stone, but there’s often a connection. And she had a 33-year-old son who she had raised from birth with a serious condition that left him completely dependent upon her. He wasn’t able to really speak very much, he had regular seizures, she had to feed him, and it really changed the entire family. There were other children involved, and… But she was determined to be his caretaker because she didn’t feel from what she had seen, she was also a nurse, that existing care would have really provided for him in the way that she wanted him to be provided for. She really wanted him to be loved and have a sense of an individual presence, and she really worked hard to give him that. And she took the position that she would not… Over her dead body would it be the case that he’d go someplace and basically then fade into anonymity and really suffer a loss of self.
15:45 Dr. Robert Kellum: But when she reached a certain age, she was really not able to do it anymore, and it put her in this huge contradiction. And this was really I think the nexus of the cancer. She got three good… After the six-month diagnosis, she got three good years with us, good quality years. But she was never really able to resolve that contradiction, although the entire family shifted over that time. They begin to chip in more. She had been the primary caregiver, and part of it was her own issue. But they all begin to see that she couldn’t do it. She began to see she couldn’t do it. Her girlfriends came to help her. The family came together. They found the solution to the problem. They found a place, a small place that just had a few people in it where people were really devoted and caring. And she knew that her son would be taken care of, and then she died.
16:32 Pamela D Wilson: Well, I think so many family members worry about, like she did, you don’t want to put your loved one in a nursing home or in a care community because you think that they’re just not going to get the care that you provided. And you made me think of something. You said that lung cancer sometimes is caused by grief. And I don’t know if you remember the story of Christopher Reeve, Superman. He was sick all those years, and his wife never smoked a cigarette in her life, and I think she died of lung cancer, which now makes me think of your statement…
17:02 Dr. Robert Kellum: Yeah. And we see it a lot with the different kinds of cancers. I know a woman, second stage uterine cancer, who had a serious relationship with her boyfriend and he had committed suicide, and she shortly after developed uterine cancer. I see it all the time. Anger issues with people who develop liver cancer, and many, many examples.
17:25 Pamela D Wilson: It’s definitely something for all of us to think about. We are going to continue this conversation with Dr. Robert Kellum and what is making you sick after this break. I’m Pamela D Wilson, your host. Please invite your family, your friends, your co-workers, everybody that you know to join us each week on The Caring Generation, it’s live on the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio, to help me in my mission to reach one million caregivers seeking hope, help, and support. And I also want to mention, you can listen to replays of The Caring Generation on my website. This interview with Dr. Robert Kellum, if you’d like to share it with other people, will be on my website in a week along with the transcript. So, we transcribe these programs. All you have to do is you go to the Media Tab and then The Caring Generation radio page, and you can listen. And so please share details about this live program and the podcast replays with your family, your friends, and everybody that you know, because we’re all going to be a caregiver or need care sooner or later. We’re going to head out to a break right now. We will be right back.
20:50 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert. I am 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, TuneIn Radio, and beautiful Colorado. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring, giving us permission to laugh, to talk about aging, the challenges of caregiving, and everything in between. We are continuing our conversation with Dr. Robert Kellum to answer the question, “What might be making you sick?” Dr. Kellum, you have a different approach to treating conditions, and we talked about this, and I’m going to say this big word, but if you can explain it in simple terms. You mentioned something called salutogenesis.
21:35 Dr. Robert Kellum: Oh, right, right. So, I think about health, you could think about it like a seesaw, and I think the conventional approach is to consider health as being on one side of this seesaw and illness on the other. The concept of salutogenesis really places health at the fulcrum, in the center. And really, health then is an on-going… It’s work; it’s a continual necessity of balancing yourself in between two extremes. And they can be many different levels, many different ways of looking at what those extremes are. But one of them is like the difference between inflammation and sclerosis. Used to be 200 years ago, most diseases people had were more inflammatory. Today, they’re more chronic and inflammatory, and they’re actually colder diseases. We’re shifting, the fulcrum is shifting. And keeping healthy is a matter of staying in a place of balance, being able to be continually adapt… How well can you dance? How adaptable are you? Because that balance is going to be thrown off for all of us, and your ability to do that dance is a better measure of your health, I think, than thinking you can prevent the process.
23:02 Pamela D Wilson: Well, in caregiving, when I think of caregiving, it throws lives off-balance. Did you see that when you were taking care of your mom before she passed away? Did your life kind of just take a different path for six months?
23:15 Dr. Robert Kellum: It really did, and of course, this is the thing, it’s a potentially healing process for everyone. I mean, it opened up new vistas for me that I think I otherwise probably wouldn’t have necessarily been able to see. So, it’s interesting how things can shift in a negative or a positive direction.
23:35 Pamela D Wilson: And you mentioned that health is kind of work, being healthy is work, and I know that because I didn’t want to be like my mom who was sick. You talk about different types of therapies on your website. Can you give maybe an example of a therapy that you use to treat a patient?
23:55 Dr. Robert Kellum: Sure. We have to make an assessment of… There are different bodies that we think about. In addition to the physical body, there’s also what might be called a life body or an energy body, and there’s also a soul body, and then also a higher spirit body. And you need to be thinking about all four of those bodies when you treat. And so, you might think about giving someone supplements or medications and so forth. That really only treats the physical body. You need to be thinking also about energetic kinds of therapies for that life body, whether it’s homeopathy or acupuncture or these kinds of things. And then the soul body gets into issues of what’s happening in the person’s emotional life, what issues are really important for them. And that higher ego body begins to touch upon issues of identity. Who am I? These kinds of things, which when I think you confront illness, all of that comes up on the table and begins to be open for inspection again.
25:02 Pamela D Wilson: You related grief to cancer. Are there other types of emotions that relate to other diseases? Like if somebody has heart disease or diabetes, or maybe thyroid issues, are there other emotions that relate to different types of diseases?
25:20 Dr. Robert Kellum: Sure, yeah, it’s not written in stone. There are other issues that imply toxicity in the environment, or so many things, but it’s another dimension to consider. So, with thyroid conditions, more often, I see it in women, very often. I had a woman with thyroid cancer whose husband was busy all the time, she’s raising her kid, she doesn’t want to… She’s from a different culture, doesn’t want to tell her mother about it. The culture is Japanese, doesn’t want her mother to feel like she’s complaining, and just holds it, carries it for their family. Doesn’t speak, doesn’t speak her truth, and then develops this in her neck, in her throat, which is like the avenue of expression. Or what was the other example you gave? The heart or… I forget what that was.
26:03 Pamela D Wilson: Or diabetes, maybe?
26:03 Dr. Robert Kellum: Pardon?
26:03 Pamela D Wilson: The heart or maybe somebody who has diabetes.
26:08 Dr. Robert Kellum: Oh diabetes. Typically, with diabetes, the person really hasn’t come down into their body. They’re more in their head, and the metabolic activity gets kind of taken over by the head. And with heart conditions… And again, I’m simplifying this a bit, but with heart conditions, you often see… It’s sort of a lack of ability to compensate, that the body’s been trying so long to balance different energies between those poles, and the heart is sort of the rhythmic center that has to do all that, and it can carry a lot of tension that takes a toll on it over time. That’s a simplification, but I think it answers your question at a one level.
26:58 Pamela D Wilson: It does, it does. My mom had horrible heart conditions, and I think she just wore out. She had bypass surgery; she went on for another nine years, she had all kinds of things. So, for people who are listening, how do they find people like you? Where do they go to find somebody like you if they don’t want to go through all of this, I call it traditional medicine.
27:20 Dr. Robert Kellum: Well, you can go to the AAMTA website. It’s A-A-M-T-A dot org, and at that website, there’s a host of different practitioners that you can connect with under a large umbrella: Naturopathic doctors, medical doctors, different kinds of therapists. I’m on the Believe Big website for cancer patients, Ivelisse Page’s website, FACT, F-A-C-T, Ruth Sagman’s website. Ruth passed away now, but that’s another cancer website. That’s three good choices right there. And my website.
28:01 Pamela D Wilson: Well, and what about your website and your contact information, can you give that out?
28:08 Dr. Robert Kellum: Yeah, what do you want, Pamela? You want me to…
28:10 Pamela D Wilson: Your website and then a phone number where people could call you if they wanted to chat.
28:15 Dr. Robert Kellum: Sure.
28:15 Pamela D Wilson: Okay.
28:15 Dr. Robert Kellum: It’s healthbridgeinc.net. And my phone number is 503-331-7393, here in Portland.
28:27 Pamela D Wilson: Perfect, thank you so much for being with us. We’re about to head out to our next break. I’m Pamela Wilson. Please stay with us. You are on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio. Let’s make caregiving something to talk about. We’ll be back after this break.
31:02 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert I am 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. Caregiving conversations should be a two-way street. Let’s start that conversation. If you have a story to share or if you have a question, you can call into the show at 866-451-1451, 866-451-1451. Call in and share or ask a question. Help, hope, and support for caregivers is available on my website, pameladwilson.com. You’ll find online caregiving support groups and courses there.
And let’s go back to our subject. Are you a helper or a caregiver? In my family caregiving situation, me and my brothers and sisters, we were helpers. We were busy helping out, we responded to emergencies. Many caregivers start out as helpers. So, you may be helping a parent, simple things, changing light bulbs, going to the grocery store, running some errands, and you don’t yet see yourself as a caregiver.
Why didn’t my family see ourselves as caregivers? What do you think was missing? For us, that missing agreement was understanding that we actually had a responsibility to manage my mother’s care because she was struggling with her health, and she couldn’t do it herself. We had a responsibility to ask questions of the doctors and the healthcare systems. The problem was we asked questions, but we weren’t asking the right questions.
32:48 Pamela D Wilson: So many caregivers will say to me, “Well, if I knew I was a caregiver, I might have a better idea of what questions to ask. I don’t even know what I don’t know, because I didn’t realize I was a caregiver. So many people are in exactly that same situation. How many of you worry about doing the right thing for your aging parents because you’re not sure exactly what you’re supposed to do? How does all that happen? For us, we were naïve. We didn’t understand how serious my mom’s health concerns were. We thought she would outlive my father, who had a couple of health issues, but he was so much healthier than she was. We didn’t ask the doctors the right questions. And you might experience this, but there are times when your parents will hide issues from you. How many of you call and talk to your parents, you ask how they are, and they say, “Oh, honey, we’re just fine, we’re doing okay.” And then you go over to the house, and you visit, and it’s, “Oh my gosh, they’re not just fine.”
33:53 Pamela D Wilson: The last time my mother told me she was fine; I went home, and I learned that she was diagnosed with bladder cancer. She died about two months later, and it took me months of grieving to get back into a normal routine. For those of you who have lost parents or loved ones, you might not sleep nights. I kept losing things like my keys, and then after that, I had to try to keep my dad going. He was extremely depressed. He called me one evening to tell me that he thought about committing suicide, and I almost had a heart attack.
So, when you care for aging parents, all of these unexpected things happen. We worked with my father; we got him evaluated for depression, we got him on “happy pills”, because as many of you know, our aging parents don’t want to admit that they’re depressed, and some of them don’t even want to take medications. They see being diagnosed as a very negative aspect, but the truth is, 40% of aging adults are depressed. And understanding your responsibilities as a caregiver, to step up, to help your parents, to talk to them about all of these things that happen, it is so important.
35:11 Pamela D Wilson: People who help may not be family members. They do great things, they do tasks and things like that, but the caregivers really bear the responsibility of caring for loved ones, and we lacked all of the experience of knowing how to do that. We could have become so much more involved, talking about the pros and cons of care. So how do we move from being that helper to a caregiver? We do it by being open to learning about caregiving, about having conversations within our family about caregiving that so many of us just don’t talk about until there’s a hip fracture, or a fall, or a parent ends up in the emergency room.
There is so much support and so many resources that are available. If our goal really is to help our aging parents to stay at home, there’s a lot that can be done that caregivers don’t even realize. And as we talk, by helping our parents, we can help ourselves. We can be proactive. We can seek out support groups and programs, we can be healthier, like Dr. Kellum discussed, and have fewer illnesses so that we don’t become as much like our aging parents.
36:26 Pamela D Wilson: After my sister, my parents, my brother passed away, I decided I was going to make a difference. I wanted to help families avoid the mistakes that we made from being so inexperienced. So, I made the choice to become educated. I changed careers over 20 years ago, I’ve been working in the field of aging and caregiving ever since, and I can honestly say I have seen the best and the worst of caregiving.
One issue causes this house of falling cards, meaning that one more thing, the next thing that we don’t know how to deal with. And I know what the questions are that we should be asking. I know how to navigate the healthcare system. I know what happens that caregivers can’t even imagine, and all of the secrets of preventing the ups and downs. We become so emotional about our relationships with our parents. We worry that they’re going to pass away, we worry that “What happens if mom passes away before dad?” Or vice versa.
We worry about paying for care costs. There are so many worries that happen in caregiving, and I have helped caregivers and aging adults over 20 years get better care, solve caregiving situations. And many times, we fall into these traps because we think that our parents know more than we do.
37:50 Pamela D Wilson: When I was a caregiver, I had a college education, my brothers and sisters did, but even my parents didn’t know simple things about health that I knew because I researched it. I was very interested in health and maintaining my health, and not kind of going the way of all my family members back then who were sick at an early age, in and out of the hospital. It was such a struggle. And so, as caregivers, we need to talk more about caregiving responsibilities. We’ll do that after this break.
Help me make The Caring Generation valuable, interesting, and entertaining for you. If you have comments, ideas or suggestions and you’re listening on the BBM Global website on The Caring Generation page, scroll down to the bottom of the page, leave me a comment or a suggestion during this break. I promise I will respond to you. Let’s make caregiving something that we talk about. Caregiving conversation should be a two-way street. You can call in at 866-451-1451 after this break. We’ll be right back in a few minutes.
41:17 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 and TuneIn Radio. Let’s start some caregiving conversations. If you have a story to share or if you have a question, call into the program, 866-451-1451, 866-451-1451. I want to say hello to all my friends on Facebook. My page is pameladwilson.page, my Twitter followers, my LinkedIn followers, if any of you are listening, call in, and chat.
We’re back talking about caregiving and the roles and responsibilities that comes along with being a caregiver. In addition to being responsible for our aging parents and our spouses, we also have a responsibility to ourselves, to care for ourselves, because if we don’t take care of ourselves as caregivers and something happens to us, what happens to our spouse or a parent? How many of you out there have a plan? Who will care for you if something happens to you? Is it a brother, a sister? If you get sick and you can’t be a caregiver, who is that person who is going to show up? Let’s talk about caregiving or needing care and what this day-to-day looks like.
42:44 Pamela D Wilson: So many families come to me over disagreement about what should be done for a loved one. There’s a disagreement of, “Oh, do we keep them at home? Do we put them in a care community? Are we looking at nursing homes?” And adult children miss the starting point. There’s a conversation that should happen before the children take all this over, because it’s not always realizing what we want or what’s important to us as children, it’s realizing what our aging parent wants or our spouse wants, and having a conversation to talk about it, even if we kind of have our own opinion.
How many of you think that you know what’s best for your aging parent or your spouse, and they have a different opinion? They disagree with you, and sometimes you get into arguments. In situations where everybody has their mind about them, and I mean no Alzheimer’s or dementia or other conditions that affect our judgement, the question you want to ask is whose life are you changing? Would you want somebody else to sweep in and take control of your life? That’s what our aging parents worry about. They want our help, but they want our help only to the degree that they want our help. They don’t want us to come in and take over, tell them what to do, force them to do things that they don’t want.
44:04 Pamela D Wilson: Caregiving takes a lot of compassion and empathy. If you’re a professional caregiver listening, you’re a nurse, or a CNA, you know that on any given day, caregiving can take everything that you have to be considerate. And as caregivers, we have to be considerate of what our aging parents want over and above what we want or what we think should happen. How many of us never expect that we are going to get sick, grow old, or need care like our aging parents? If you’ve been healthy all of your life, if you haven’t yet helped somebody who has a lot of serious illnesses, this idea of needing a lot of hands-on care or needing medical care might seem to you like it won’t happen. It can be difficult for someone who’s healthy to understand what our parents are going through because we haven’t yet had that experience.
44:57 Pamela D Wilson: We can all hope that we’ll be healthy for as long as possible, but what happens when life just takes a detour? How will you know what to do? How will you know what options are available? All it takes is one little thing, an unexpected accident, you trip over the dog. You fall down a flight of steps. You get injured in a sporting accident. We’re not invincible. For most of us, that day is going to come when we’ll have to make some type of change, whether it’s in-home care, moving to a retirement community. For some people, it’s being told that they have a terminal diagnosis. The older that we become, the more difficult it can be to change. So, think about how well do you accept change, how do you react to unexpected circumstances? And then put yourself in the shoes of your aging parent. Up and down, health issues, all kinds of unexpected changes, because sometimes, even when we make a plan, things don’t work out.
45:58 Pamela D Wilson: A lot of us work all of our lives, we dream of a wonderful retirement, and detours happen. Professional caregivers see this. They see people in hospitals, in nursing home, struggling to just make it back home. Married couples experience a life event where one of them becomes a caregiver for the other person. All those dreams of travel, time with children, grandchildren, gone, turns into days, and years of caregiving. If something unexpected happens to you, who is going to show up? Who is going to make those medical decisions for you? And the other decisions are, do you want to be kept alive by machines, and how long? Would you consider artificial nutrition?
The facts are that only about 15% of us have living wills, powers of attorney, and other legal documents. If something happens to you, what are you going to do? How do you manage your day-to-day affairs? Talking to our aging parents about these conversations, about participating in their care, that can be a little difficult. Sometimes your aging parents aren’t going to want to talk about it. Sometimes you’re not going to want to talk about it. You’ve heard me say a lot of times that caregiving should be 50/50, unless there are circumstances that don’t allow that. Helping our aging parents and our spouses remain independent is so important. Let them do as much as possible for themselves.
47:26 Pamela D Wilson: In talking about health and how it can change quickly, we all have that responsibility to find a support to get over the hurdles that prevent us from taking action. A hurdle sounds like this; it’s like, “I don’t know what to do, so I’m not going to do anything,” or, “Oh my gosh, that seems like way too much trouble.” Really, are you too much trouble for you? Is it too much trouble to help an aging parent?
That lack of knowledge, that not knowing how to help my parents set me on this 20-year journey to become a caregiving expert so that I can help you. We are going to be heading into our last break. We’re going to finish talking about caregiving, and I want to share information about our program for next week. I’m Pamela D Wilson. 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. I have a mission to reach one million helpers and caregivers. I can’t do it without you. Please share this program, visit my website, pameladwilson.com, for helpful information about caregiving, aging, and everything in between, and make these programs valuable. Leave a comment on the BBM Global website on The Caring Generation page. We’ll be right back after this break.
50:58 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert. I am 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. Let’s talk about one of my clients since we’ve been talking about planning a little bit for end of life. I had a client years ago who was diagnosed with cancer who was on hospice care, and he decided to just let life take its course. He was not married, he had no children, and he wanted me to help him, as he said, put his affairs in order. He didn’t want to leave that task to his friends, and while that might seem like a really sad situation,
I was able to provide peace of mind that everything would be managed the way that he wanted. He was very particular. He had medical bills that he wanted paid so that his doctors and everybody caring for him wouldn’t lose out, we even changed the beneficiary on his life insurance Policies to his estate rather than to his family members. If you are the personal rep of your parents’ estate, these are things that you will run into. That man was so practical about planning, and the only downside that he would tell me is he says, “You know, Pamela, when you know you’re going to die, that thought, it never leaves your mind, not even for a single day.”
52:27 Pamela D Wilson: Most of us, we’re not going to be that practical, because death isn’t something we talk about unless it’s something that’s happened in our families. If you’re not a planner, I cannot encourage you enough. Please complete your legal documents, your medical, and your financial power of attorney, and your will, so that somebody can take care of your affairs in the event of an emergency. Don’t leave a mess for your family members to sort out, and if you don’t know how to do that, there is information on my website, pameladwilson.com. If you click on the How I Help tab, look for power of attorney, because the roles and the responsibilities of being a power of attorney, they’re far reaching.
53:12 Pamela D Wilson: While helping our aging parents, it all starts with these little tasks, we eventually become an advocate, we become a supporter, we coordinate their care, and it’s our job as caregivers, not helpers, to help our loved ones make the right decisions. There are so many skills that we need. We need communication skills, social skills, being able to coordinate care, teamwork, advocacy, time management. Caregivers, oh my gosh, we never have enough time, do we? [chuckle] Planning solving, problem-solving, we’re trying to evaluate information, we have to make decisions. It’s so easy to see why caregivers need help. Next week, our subject, we’re going to talk about surviving the emotional roller coaster of caregiving. How can we manage and survive all of these unexpected situations that show up when all of a sudden, overnight, we become a caregiver?
54:17 Pamela D Wilson: We’re also going to talk about elder financial abuse. It’s a problem that is prevalent in society. There are so many scams, there’s so many things that can happen, but believe it or not, family members are the most common people who commit financial abuse against elderly family members. Our guest is going to be Attorney Michael Hackard, he’s going to share with us information about how financial abuse begins and how you can guard from becoming a victim, somebody who is the subject of financial abuse. In the past 20 years, I have been involved in so many cases of financial abuse where family were involved, and also where paid help, so in-home caregivers who came into the home, and they stole money or property, or even crazier, they had themselves written into the wills.
55:19 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson; 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. Listener, since nobody has told you thanks this week, I want to thank you so much for being caregivers and everything that you do for helping other people. I look forward to being with you again next Wednesday evening. Invite your family and friends. God bless you all and sleep well tonight so we can all get up and be caregivers tomorrow. I’ll see you next week.
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.