When Elderly Give Up on Life – The Caring Generation®

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The Caring Generation® – Episode 92 June 30, 2021. What to Do When Elderly Parents Give Up? On this caregiver program, expert Pamela D Wilson offers tips for staying positive and managing change when elderly parents and caregivers face the unexpected. Guest Rich Alderton of High-Performance Change discusses how becoming adaptable can reduce fear and uncertainty.

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What to Do When Your Elderly Parent Gives Up?

0:00:04.0 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.

Watch More Videos About Caregiving and Aging on Pamela’s YouTube Channel

0:00:37:33 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, consultant, and guardian of The Caring Generation. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring, giving us permission to talk about aging, the challenges of caregiving, and everything in between.  It’s no surprise that needing care or becoming a caregiver changes everything—one minor accident or unexpected change in health can turn your life or the life of your family member or friend upside down.

0:1:05:69 Pamela D Wilson: Instead of letting caregiving responsibilities put your life on hold, worrying about making the right decisions, or lacking the confidence to move ahead, the Caring Generation is here to guide you along the journey. To encourage and inspire you to be curious—seek information, think differently, and plan for what’s ahead. Invite your aging parents, spouses, family, friends, groups, colleagues, and co-workers to listen to the show each week.

0:01:34:17 Pamela D Wilson: This week we’re talking about what to do when elderly parents give up. What struggles are you noticing that your aging parents are experiencing in managing daily activities or health? On this topic, we are not talking about giving up specific to the last days of life before a parent dies. Instead, we’re going to talk about the positives of improving or maintaining daily life when elderly parents seem like they’re giving up.

0:02:04:41 Pamela D Wilson: Everything we talk about is also relevant for caregivers—and the realization that many caregivers give up on life. As a caregiver, you may be feeling stuck—maybe you are a young adult caring for a middle-aged parent and feeling that your life and plans are on hold—college, marriage, having children, pursuing a career. You may be a spousal caregiver for a husband or wife who needs care. Or you’re about to retire and planned to travel and enjoy life—BUT, your elderly parents in their 90’s suddenly need care.

0:02:44:22 Pamela D Wilson: Those trips you planned are canceled indefinitely. On the topic of responding to change, the guest for this program is Rich Alderton, who has been leading change for over 25 years in organizations from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies in the UK and worldwide. In that time, he has lived and breathed change, reinventing himself across various corporate functions.

0:03:11:87 Pamela D Wilson: From working with teams all around the world, he found that most people resist change. He developed a High-Performance Change program that, along with key scientific theory, provides a roadmap that can help people enjoy rather than endure change and feel ready for whatever happens next. Rich and I talk about the changes brought about by caregiving and how all aging adults can choose to look at change positively.

0:03:41:54 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s begin with noticing how changes in physical and social activities can result in situations where elderly parents give up on life. As you know, some of the changes are significant, big, major, life-changing—which is why you and other family members became caregivers. In different situations caring for aging parents happens over time. You may have started helping out here and there with tasks around the house, not recognizing yourself by the term caregiver because it’s a family responsibility.  But then, you accompanied a parent to a doctor’s appointment or the hospital emergency room, and a nurse or doctor called you a caregiver.

0:04:28:27 Pamela D Wilson: Now you call, visit several nights during the week, on weekends, and at other times when mom or dad needs help. If you’re a spousal caregiver, you are the live-in 24/7 caregiver for a husband or a wife. Being attentive to the little things is critical when elderly parents give up on life. In many situations, adults aren’t aware of the changes that gradually affect daily quality of life, like health issues and physical disability. All adults—not only our parents—begin experiencing gradual, sometimes barely noticeable changes in health and physical ability starting around the age of thirty. Yes, thirty.

0:05:14:77 Pamela D Wilson: We don’t notice these changes because our lifestyle may change, resulting in being less active. For example, let’s say In your twenties—caregivers in your twenties who are listening can think about their routines. Those of us who are older can reminisce a little bit. Are you physically and socially active? Do you work all week—hang out with friends on the weekends. Maybe you play sports, attend social gatherings, are a member of a group or a club, active with your church.

0:05:44:38 Pamela D Wilson: You had a lot going on before caregiving responsibilities took over a portion of your life. As a caregiver, your exciting and carefree, or engaging career may have changed. Instead, you are juggling life and caregiving responsibilities between work, school, your family, and caring for an aging parent. The lives of caregivers and elderly parents can become restricted or narrowed.

0:06:13:32 Pamela D Wilson: When parents worked—like you are today—their lives were busy. In retirement, parents have no time clock, schedule, or sense of urgency, although they may be impatient not understanding why you can’t immediately show up with all that you have to do that’s on your schedule. Unless a retired parent or aging senior chooses to keep and participate in regularly scheduled activities and events, they—their days just melt one into the other. So what happens then is the body becomes less physically active and loses muscle strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance.

0:06:52:82 Pamela D Wilson: Physical injuries occur more easily, quickly. They heal more slowly or never fully heal. For more on this, listen to The Caring Generation podcast How to  Stay Out of a Nursing Home. I share why staying physically active and strong is like having insurance to protect against unexpected health injuries. Also, the show Help for Seniors Living Alone features interviews from older adults talking about changes in their health and the effect of physical injuries on their lifestyles.

0:07:22:23 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s say that you or a parent were carrying boxes and injured a knee or an arm or were doing yard work or a home maintenance project that resulted in an Injured back or ankle, or foot. Instead of seeing a doctor about the injury, you’re thinking that it will heal by itself. But, six months down the road, the nagging back, arm, ankle, or foot pain still exists.

0:07:47:52 Pamela D Wilson: The injury and pain prevent you or a parent from doing many of the activities you used to do. So you’re allowing the pain to stop you. You become hesitant about doing more activities because you’re afraid of another injury. Minor physical injuries that don’t receive medical attention can become significant over time because the body becomes weaker as you favor a painful leg, arm, back, or foot.

0:8:14:82 Pamela D Wilson: Any change in physical condition is a warning sign for issues that can advance for all adults, especially those that can result about elderly parents giving up on life. Proactively seeking medical advice and learning about health can minimize problems for elderly parents give up on life. What is giving up on life all about? When elderly parents give up, there may be grief about the gap between life today versus life, health, or a lifestyle of yesterday, last week, last month, or prior years.

0:08:51:38 Pamela D Wilson: Caregivers who give up on life experience similar gaps. In addition to noticing the little things that indicate elderly parents need more help, how can we identify the patterns and obstacles to providing support when elderly parents give up on life that relate to caregiver experience? Let’s ask three questions to identify the obstacles that can happen when elderly parents give up on life and when caregivers become disillusioned and lose hope that a situation can improve.

09:25:06 Pamela D Wilson: We can do this by looking at the obstacles or gaps from the opposite perspective and thinking differently. The first question. What is it you want that the present situation is not giving you? For example, if you have health issues that make you feel tired or sick all the time, do you want better health, and why? Do you want to improve a diagnosis of heart disease or to feel happy instead of being depressed or emotionally distraught?

0:09:52:51 Pamela D Wilson: If you are a caregiver, you may want more time to spend with yourself, with friends, focus on a career, or get away from caregiving for a specific amount of time each week so that you feel like you are making forward progress instead of being stuck in reverse.  I know a lot of caregivers who would just like to run away for a day. Question number two, why don’t you have this thing or feeling that you want?

10:19:14 Pamela D Wilson: Answering this question requires looking inward and taking responsibility to seek information and identify facts. To answer this question, you may need medical advice or talk to an eldercare specialist or consultant, like me, to gain clarity and take steps to be efficient and effective in overcoming the obstacle or gap. It’s not common for consumers to have knowledge gaps where they’re having difficulty understanding the foundation of medical or physical concerns, and this takes further investigation.

0:10:52:44 Pamela D Wilson: After you’ve figured out why you don’t have the thing you want and understand the  “why,”—you can move forward to examine conversations that you have with yourself—inner beliefs, thoughts, patterns, things that you say to yourself—that can hold you back from you making progress. More on when elderly parents give up on life after a break. If this is the first time, you are joining the show, welcome and thank you for being here.

0:11:16:92  Pamela D Wilson: The Caring Generation is not limited by time zone or location—caregivers worldwide listen. The show and the transcript with links to articles and more information are on my website at pameladwilson.com. Click on the Media Tab and then The Caring Generation. This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, author, and speaker on The Caring Generation. Stay with me; I’ll be right back.

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0:12:06:69  Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, consultant, and speaker on The Caring Generation. Helpful information for caregivers and elderly parents is in my book: The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes, it’s available on my website www.PamelaDWilson.com. Click on Library in the top banner and then book. You can also purchase my caregiver course, Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home and Beyond,

0:12:34:65  Pamela D Wilson: featuring 30 hours of webinars, practical steps for how to take care of elderly parents, make a plan for aging and health, and all of the things you should know for how to stay out of a nursing home and help your elderly parents stay at home. It’s never too early to make a plan to live the best life possible today and in your later years.

0:12:56:85 Pamela D Wilson: Welcome back to the conversation when elderly parents give up on life. Before the break, we talked about questions to identify obstacles or gaps resulting in caregivers and aging parents giving up on life. All of us have inner dialogues that support or decrease the likelihood of taking action toward a desire or goal. If you are a caregiver, you may feel doubtful, self-critical, or unappreciated when elderly parents start to give up on life.

0:13:27:67 Pamela D Wilson: If you are an aging adult having the experience of when elderly parents give up on life, you may be telling yourself that you can’t have this thing you want. In some cases, there may be resistance on your part to accepting responsibility for the actions that resulted in the current challenges, or you may lack the belief that your efforts can improve or change the situation. When we grow up, families can be supportive or build up mountains of fears that hold us back.

0:14:02:54 Pamela D Wilson: Parents and siblings can be manipulative and self-interested rather than raising us up and inspiring family members. If your family or friends are not supportive, check out your herd—the people that you hang around with. Make an effort to spend time with friends or make friends and colleagues who don’t exhibit those negative beliefs or self-limiting patterns that drag you down.

0:14:29:82 Pamela D Wilson: Otherwise, you will continue to be in a pattern of giving up on life.  As a caregiver watching— when elderly parents give up on life, you have to go outside of yourself to be with others and seek information to find that spark, to be that inspiration for a parent who may also be struggling and also for yourself. What inner dialogue are you or is your elderly parent having? Are you focused on struggle, failure, past mistakes, and judging yourself?

0:15:04:44 Pamela D Wilson: If so – stop. Make an effort to create a new inner dialogue. Instead of being unhappy, choose to be happy. Act like you are happy. Do things that make you happy. Train your mind to think positive thoughts. Let’s talk about choice for a moment. Caregivers worldwide tell me they have no choice but to be a caregiver, especially in situations when elderly parents give up on life. Caring for an elderly parent is a choice.

0:15:37:51 Pamela D Wilson: Adult children feel a responsibility and a duty to care for parents, so you become the caregiver by choice. Other adult children say no to caregiving and go on with their lives.  In these situations, that son or daughter who chooses to be the primary caregiver might be angry at a brother or a sister for moving out of town or taking a job in another part of the country and moving ahead with their life.

0:16:02:13 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s look at this from two perspectives. The caregiver can be envious that a brother or sister is not so attached to mom or dad—that they are unwilling to give up their lives and careers to remain in town and be the caregiver who does everything.  On the other hand, can the sibling’s choices and behaviors for choosing a different life serve as hope or inspiration for the caregiver for what is possible?

0:16:30:27 Pamela D Wilson: While feeling that no choice or no good alternatives exist is common in caregiving relationships and other life situations. Even still—choices remain. You have the choice about how you perform the activities that you choose to do. Let me explain. Your uninvolved brothers and sisters—witnessing when elderly parents give up on life—may choose to tell you what to do but don’t lift a finger to help.

0:16:57:58 Pamela D Wilson: You can choose to listen to their ideas or choose to ignore their ideas. You are the caregiver doing all the work. You choose how to care for your elderly parents. You make the decisions with your parents. Add to this the choice of deciding what you will learn. To me, this choice of learning has the most significant and amazing impact if one can look at the challenging situation from a positive perspective and say, “what can I learn from this? “

0:17:28:65 Pamela D Wilson: What lesson is here for me?” Knowledge gained from experiencing the everyday grind of struggles and adversity offers wisdom that is yours for life. When elderly parents give up, caregivers willing to break out of the family herd to see things differently can rise above the struggle. Question number one for clearing obstacles is—what are you waiting for?

0:17:55:62 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s talk about beliefs and patterns relevant for when elderly parents give up on life and caregivers do the same. The first pattern is to address when elderly parents give up on life is avoiding the facts or truth about personal responsibility for creating that giving up on life situation and the steps to move forward. When elderly parents give up on life and feel hopeless, the first action is to seek medical advice about the potential of depression and the impact of health issues.

0:18:28:58 Pamela D Wilson: Second, for clearing obstacles, let go of the assumptions you have about why elderly parents give up on life or the actions you think are necessary to move that situation forward. The day-to-day grind of caregiving affects caregivers mentally and emotionally. When caregivers approach burnout, opportunities may disappear by narrowing options instead of being open-minded to consider other solutions.  Don’t be the complainer or person who vents—put yourself in a mindset of a two-way conversation, asking questions, trying to involve others, and being curious.

0:19:08:52 Pamela D Wilson: Your family members, your parents, will be more interested and willing to help you if the conversation goes two-ways. Third, be willing to have the courage to step forward to close gaps. When elderly parents give up on life, doing nothing will not improve the situation. Doing less or doing nothing is how giving up on life happens—feeling stuck—not knowing what to do, being afraid to do anything. The only way to improve or change a situation is to try new things and see what works and what doesn’t work.

0:19:40:15 Pamela D Wilson: Things you try and don’t work out are learning opportunities for not doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. Gain confidence through progress and consistent wins. Fourth, for obstacle clearing when elderly parents give up on life—is to ask, are you and your parents planning your days? What regrets do you have about things you wanted to do that you didn’t?

0:20:06:52 Pamela D Wilson: What’s on the list of what you want, and what steps are you taking every day to get there? Talk with elderly parents about creating consistent habits and actions that both of you commit to daily to relieve concerns when elderly parents give up on life. Once you are in a routine of daily planning, look at weekly and then monthly planning.

0:20:27:33: Pamela D Wilson: The more efficient you become in creating patterns for aging parents and positive routines for yourself, the less likely it is that situations lean toward times when elderly parents give up on life. When parents become involved in day-to-day participation to become physically active—this activity creates more action, momentum, and positive thoughts.

0:20:49:91: Pamela D Wilson: When parents feel less dependent and more motivated, caregivers become more positive. As you continue the momentum of actions to respond to times when elderly parents give up on life, think about the long-term consequences of decisions made today. Caregivers become stuck due to feelings of responsibility and guilt. Suppose you’ve made forward progress toward a parent becoming more interested in managing his or her daily needs – that is exciting!

0:21:19:39   Pamela D Wilson: Now, it’s time to talk about family caregiving and planning and what happens when. This is a conversation to have when emotions are stable and confidence builds by taking small steps forward. If you are interested in making a plan to support the care of elderly parents or a spouse or interested in creating a care plan for yourself, visit my website PamelaDWilson.com to schedule an eldercare consultation. Click on How I Help, next Family Caregivers, and then complete the form to schedule a telephone or video call with me. I am Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, caregiving speaker, and eldercare consultant with you on The Caring Generation. Stay with me; I” ll be right back.

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0:22:30:25 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving speaker, expert, and advocate on The Caring Generation program for caregivers and aging adults. Whether you are twenty or 100 years old, you’re in exactly the right place to learn tips to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead. If you’re not sure how to talk to your children about caregiving issues or if you’ve tried to talk to your aging parents. Let me start the conversation for you. Share The Caring Generation Podcasts and my website pameladwilson.com with spouses, parents, brothers, sisters, family, and friends.

0:23:02:06 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s meet this week’s guest, Rich Alderton, who talks about change and fear.

0:23:08:89 Pamela D Wilson: Rich, thank you for joining me today.

0:23:11: 89 Rich Alderton: You’re very welcome, delighted to be here.

0:2315:10 Pamela D Wilson: Persons in caregiving relationships experience life changes. How can we look at change as being positive instead of negative?

0:23:25:06 Rich Alderton: Well, that’s a great question to kick off with because the need for caregiving is almost always triggered by negative change, isn’t it. And those changes are some of the biggest that we’ll ever face. They’re the perfect storm of being highly disruptive, highly emotional, and very personal. And of course, it’s really hard to be positive when you’re forced to do something that is unplanned, unwanted, and unavoidable. And we need to rely here on that old adage of it’s not what happens to you in life it’s how you respond to it that makes the difference.

0:24:04:31 Rich Alderton: So we can’t change the events that have happened that resulted in the need for care. But there are a couple of things that we can change. And the first is the more obvious one which is that we can make a difference to the situation that we now find ourselves in. The second maybe is a little less obvious. We can change how we think and feel about the situation that we’re in. After all, being tested to the limits of our mental and even physical well-being. That can have a couple of extreme responses from us. Ranging from oh my goodness, I cannot cope. I’m going to fall at the first hurdle, and this helping is going to crush me under the burden of responsibility that I’m not trained for.

0:24:54:93 Rich Alderton: I didn’t want, and I’m not able to deal with. And at the other end of the spectrum, there can be that response that says this is the best opportunity I’m ever going to get to find out what I’m really capable of. When you think in terms of when your back is against the wall, and you’re really fighting a major challenge, the reserves of courage that you have to find, the resilience that you have to demonstrate, and the trust that you have to have in yourself to do this really very important work.

0:25:26:38 Rich Alderton: Look, if caregiving is the hardest thing that you ever have to face, then it just makes sense that you’re going to have to become the best version of you in order to deal with that, right? It’s easy to be negative about negative things. It’s easy to be positive about positive things. The trick in life is to be positive about negative things because, in that sweet spot, that’s where you are going to make the most difference to yourself and to those in your care.

0:25:54:57 Pamela D Wilson: Older adults facing health issues have significant fears about having to rely on a caregiver, or they’re afraid about having to move to a care community. What recommendations can you make about responding to fear?

0:26:09:28 Rich Alderton: Okay, well, let’s start with a definition of fear which is simply our reaction to a clear and present danger. And our fear response makes us act without thinking that famous fight or flight response. Now that worked really well back in the day when we might have come face to face with a saber-toothed tiger at lunchtime when thinking could have been the difference between life and lunch.

0:26:35:62 Rich Alderton: But these days, you know, unless you’re a professional boxer or runner, fight or flight really doesn’t work so well. But there is an antidote to fear that we can deploy, and it’s very useful. And it’s very simple to understand, but it’s just a bit counterintuitive. Because whilst adrenaline would have us run away from fear. Discovery actually says run toward your source of fear. Give it a big hug and find out what you can about it. And here’s why. Fear stems from a loss of control. So, as we know. Knowledge is power, and the more power you feel have, the more that contributes to a sense of control and that dissipates your fear.

0:27:23:40 Rich Alderton: So if you’re an older person about to go into a care community. Then ask questions. I’m sure that you have them in your head already. But ask them. Ask what kind of independence am I going to retain? Am I going to be able to see my mates whenever I want to? Am I going to be able to maintain ownership of my financial affairs? Am I going to retain my privacy? And even in the very unlikely event that all of the answers that come back to those questions are in the negative, at least then you know what you are getting into.

0:28:02:24 Rich Alderton: You are fully prepared for that situation even if it’s not a great situation for you. And that in itself will give you some sort of sense of control and will reduce your fear. And just one more point. We need to remember that older people are filled with knowledge, and we need to tap into that knowledge. And if we involve them in the decision-making about their own care, then that, of course, is going to make them more involved. It’s going to make them feel much more in control and help them deal with their fear.

0:28:32:67 Pamela D Wilson: Asking questions is so important. I thank you for bringing that up. So caregiving it happens suddenly. A parent will have a hip fracture, a heart attack. Something happens, and their life changes overnight. So how can the caregivers and that person needing care recover from that sudden shock and feel like they can regain some control over life?

0:28:54:02 Rich Alderton:  Well, a couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to meet a guy who told me of his extraordinary recovery from a sudden change. Irreversible change in his life. Craig was a sniper in the army, and back in 2007, he was posted out to the Iraq war. Now on a routine patrol in Basrah, he got caught up in a rooftop gun battle, and he was hit in the shoulder by a couple of rocket-propelled grenades. And when he regained consciousness and realized that he couldn’t see.

0:29:28:59 Rich Alderton:  He knew in that instant that he would be blind for the rest of his life and his reaction to that was. Well, that’s it then. Let’s get on with this. And that’s exactly what he’s done ever since. He’s gone on to do things that he says he would have never achieved as a sighted person. He’s cycled the length of Britain on the back of a tandem even though he hates cycling. And he’s climbed Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, and a whole lot of other things as well.

0:29:55:16 Rich Alderton:  And what he teaches us all is that the need to accept that the current situation is the reality and that we are never going to be able to go back to that happier time when our health and the health of those around us was better. It teaches us that we have to live in the present. There’s no point living in the future because that’s just something that we’re going to worry about. There’s no point in mourning about the past because that’s, unfortunately, never coming back. Now, by all means, give yourselves more time than Craig needed to get over the situation that happened.

0:30:32:16 Rich Alderton: But understand that the quicker that you can face forward, the quicker that you can move forward. Look, when we find ourselves becoming a caregiver, and that wasn’t something that was in the plan, and it wasn’t something that we wanted. Then we have every excuse, every genuine reason to feel angry and frustrated, and that the whole thing is unfair and many other raw, negative emotions that we can feel.

0:31:00:04 Rich Alderton: But just remember, every moment that you spend being angry about how this change has compromised your quality of life. Remember that thing, right now, that is compromising your life more than anything else is your anger.

0:31:19:33 Pamela D Wilson: In your company High-Performance Change and the work that you do, you talk about adaptability intelligence. Why is that important?

0:31:28:44 Rich Alderton: Okay, so COVID-19 has reminded us all—as if we needed it—that we actually have no idea what’s going to happen next. So how the hell do we prepare for a world of increasing uncertainty? Well, traditionally, we would just become more and more expert in our field. Whether we are a plumber or a lawyer. We’re just going to get more and more technical skills. All good.

0:31:54:72 Rich Alderton: Except that this one-track approach, in my experience of helping teams embracing change all over the world, most people resist most change most of the time. And so, when we’re faced with change, we mentally curl up into a little ball, denying those around us access to all of those key skills and experiences just at the moment that they are needed most. When the change is happening. But there is one thing that we can do that’s absolutely guaranteed to future proof in our self-development against anything that happens next.

0:32:27:87 Rich Alderton: And that is to become more adaptable. Now some people laugh and shake their heads when I say that because lots of people believe that their relationship with change, their adaptability is fixed in stone. But nothing could be further from the truth. Happily, and that’s what I spend my whole time doing. Is working with individuals and teams to give them the skills and provide them with a roadmap to become more adaptable. And because they are acquiring and applying that knowledge, it is by definition a form of intelligence.

0:32:59:25 Rich Alderton: And I reckon that if you are a caregiver, raising your adaptability intelligence is one of the most important things that you can do. Perhaps even more important than the technical skills that you learn about looking after somebody else. Because the one thing we know about other people’s health is that it’s going to change. Usually, unfortunately in the wrong direction. So it’s a negative change. It’s the hardest to deal with, and when their health changes, we need to change too. We might have to completely abandon routines that we spent years perfecting.

0:33:34:83 Rich Alderton: They might be irrelevant now. And when the prognosis for our person that’s being cared for changes, then we need to change our aspirations, our expectations, our views of what the future might be. And I can’t think of many more situations where it’s going to be tougher to embrace change. So, in addition to all of those technical skills that caregivers need, the one thing that they need more than anything else is to be able to adapt to that situation so that they can then use those technical skills.

0:34:06:47 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s take a quick break, and we’ll be back with Rich Alderton. This is Pamela D Wilson, expert, speaker, consultant, and guardian of The Caring Generation. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.

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0:34:41:64 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving speaker, consultant, and expert on The Caring Generation. We’re back to talk more with our guest, Rich Alderton.

0:34:41:64 Pamela D Wilson: And as you mentioned, the health, when we get older it is going to continue to change, and caregivers become more involved with the healthcare system. So doctors, nurses, hospitals. And sometimes, they’re distrustful. Sometimes there is bias or discrimination, or they just have a lack of experience. So how can these caregivers and the people who need healthcare feel more comfortable interacting in situations where there’s this perceived imbalance of power. Where they don’t feel like they have control?

0:35:21:49 Rich Alderton: If you’re being discriminated against, then I would say go into discovery mode. Gather the evidence. Take notes. Ask the healthcare provider for their discrimination policy and then compare your actual experience against that and give them that feedback. If it’s a provider that is in any way worth their salt, they’ll be very glad that you did. And this is perhaps the one, the only time that I would ever give the advice where we need to hide our emotions. Present the facts—don’t—try and be as unemotional about this as possible Present the facts.

0:35:57:50 Rich Alderton: Present yourself as a professional. Somebody who needs to be taken seriously, and if you’re dealing with high-grade professionals, they’ll appreciate that you are talking to them the way that they would want to be talked to. And if they’re not high-grade professionals, well, then that just made you the most professional person in the room. And when it comes to a perceived lack of experience, gosh, that must be really easy to feel that way when you’re surrounded by people in white coats and some of the most educated people on the planet.

0:36:28:26 Rich Alderton: If you do feel that you have a lack of experience, well, you can either flounder, or you can do something about it. So start asking questions and do your homework. Look, no one is expecting you to be the next Erin Brockovich, but what Erin proved was that you don’t need to be a lawyer in order to be heard by lawyers, and you don’t need to be a doctor in order to be able to be heard by doctors.

0:36:53:69 Rich Alderton: And remember, as caregivers, you have one not-so-secret weapon. And that is, we have an animal instinct to protect, and that animal instinct can give us the mental horsepower and drive strength to do things for others that we would never consider doing for ourselves. And maybe, just maybe, that extra horsepower and drive that we have from within will be enough hopefully to overcome their discrimination and your perceived lack of experience.

0:37:26:08 Pamela D Wilson: Caregiving involves a lot of change a lot of losses. Can you talk about how losses related to caring can teach us to be more adaptable?

0:37:35:03 Rich Alderton: Nothing, I believe, is more important in life than our ability to love. And when we find the people that we love and when we lose the people that we love, our ability to adapt to those seismic changes in our lives is, I believe, the second most important skill that we can have. Four years ago, my brother died suddenly of heart disease at the age of fifty-three. And, of course, that reminded me of my own mortality and that time is short. No big surprises there.

0:38:14:70 Rich Alderton:  But the question is, what are we all going to do with the time that we have? We can only just choose to survive, whether that’s financially or physically, or we can actually say I’m going to make a difference while I’m here. And the great thing about change, while people always—sorry—people usually see change, even positive change, they see it as some negative as a threat. We can actually see change as the opportunity to make a difference in the way that the status quo can only dream of.

0:38:48:27 Rich Alderton: And it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking a situation from being good to great or whether we’re taking it from being absolutely rubbish to slightly below average. You can always do good things even when things arent’ good. It’s always possible. You’ve got to believe that it’s always possible to find the positive within the negative. And let me demonstrate how I use that philosophy on myself. The loss of my brother has become the yardstick by which I judge all change in my life now.

0:37:24:71 Rich Alderton: And as you might imagine, it’s put things in fantastic perspective for me. I find myself being less afraid, less anxious about big changes in my life., um because things just don’t matter so much. And I speak a little bit think with some experience and credibility here because two of the big changes that I faced since we lost Mike was that I had been diagnosed with cancer and cleared happily and that I’ve just come through a triple bypass.

0:39:56:88 Rich Alderton:  And those two things made me realize when I compared them to my yardstick was that there is a massive difference between a life-threatening situation and a life-ending situation. Before, I might have thought that life-threatening was a bad thing. Now I see life-threatening as the chance to fight for survival.

0:40:17:62 Pamela D Wilson: The work that you do is amazing, and your outlook on all of these difficult situations is amazing. So a lot of primary caregivers I talk to, they feel isolated, they feel lonely, they feel like they’re fighting this uphill battle. What thoughts do you have about how caregivers and older adult can change their mindset to focus on collaborative relationships with family members and healthcare providers versus focusing on those differences and those problems.?

0:40:46:62 Rich Alderton: Supporting others in an unsupportive world absolutely sucks, right? But there are a couple of reactions that we can have in that situation, and neither of them is necessarily too helpful for us. The first is that we start focusing internally. We become introspective, and why wouldn’t you? If you think that the consequence of reaching out is going to be in a world that’s just going to tread on your hand, why would you bother?

0:41:11:81 Rich Alderton:  And the other is that we have within us, as a protection mechanism, a negativity bias, and we start focusing in on the negative. We start in that mindset to think that rather than a problem shared is a problem halved is either a problem doubled or completely ignored. So we don’t ask. And then we’re on our own. And then, because of the negativity, we start creating for ourselves this vicious circle. This negative spiral and we start digging a hole for ourselves that can become so deep that it’s difficult to get out of, and it consumes a huge amount of energy.

0:41:48:92 Rich Alderton: And let me just give you an example of how much energy it can consume. Our brains only account for 2% of our body weight, but they consume 20% of all of our energy. So we can dig some pretty deep holes. So at this point, we need help. We need to use the strength and energy of others to help pull us out. But we need others to provide the kind of objectivity that we can no longer see. We need others to tell us that we’re doing a good job because, in my experience, most people are very good at admitting that they’re doing a good job.

0:42:23:70 Rich Alderton: Look, in business, we accept that even leaders need to be led. And in healthcare, even carers need to be cared for. But as any of your caregivers listening will know, there’s not exactly an orderly queue forming at your front door of people wishing and wanting to help you out. So nobody’s going to help you out unless you help yourself out first. And there’s a couple of things that I think that you can do. The first is to look after yourself as well as you look after others.

0:42:56:09 Rich Alderton: And in my experience, most people are going to completely ignore that piece of advice even though it’s good advice. Most caregivers are too giving, and they don’t look after themselves, and yet that’s basic safety, isn’t it? You’ve got to look after yourself at least as well. And the second is to reach out. Ask for help. Share your problems and get objective opinions.

0:43:20:37 Rich Alderton: Because ultimately, even in a supportive world, there is support out there. And if you don’t even believe that—if you don’t believe that it might even be true, then you are consigning yourself to being introspective and negative, and you’re on your own. And not many people would believe that they can get through this kind of experience of how to give care by doing it on your own. You have to reach out and collaborate with those around you.

0:43:47:79 Pamela D Wilson: Rich, I thank you so much for the time that you’ve given me for this interview, for all of the work that you do at your company High-Performance Change. I will be sure to put links in the transcript so that all of the listeners can check out your information.

0:44:01:82  Rich Alderton:  Pamela, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks very much for having me.

0:44:05:64 Pamela D Wilson: Up next, more thoughts about how to move ahead when elderly parents give up on life, and you’re working to improve the situation. Share this week’s show and all of The Caring Generation podcasts with your family, friends, and colleagues. You can find the Caring Generation on all of your favorite podcast and music apps: Apple, Google, I Heart Radio, JioSaavn, Spreaker, Amazon Music, Breaker, Deezer, Listen Notes, Pandora, Player FM, Pocket Casts, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Stitcher, Spotify, Tune In and Vurbl. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and eldercare consultant on The Caring Generation.  Stay with me. I’ll be right back.  [music]

0:45:16:21 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and consultant on The Caring Generation. If you are an aging adult or a caregiver not sure what to do or how to plan for care, my website PamelaDWilson.com offers resources for caregivers. Check out my caregiving library, my Caring for Aging Parents blog, listen to all of The Caring Generation podcasts, read the show transcripts along with the links to articles and other information. Watch videos on my YouTube channel, register for my online webinar caregiver courses, or join my caregiver group on Facebook. There’s something for everyone at PamelaDWilson.com

0:45:30:00 Pamela D Wilson: Noticing when elderly parents give up on life can be a journey of love and learning that brings aging parents and adult children closer together. Having discussions that acknowledge concerns positively with a focus on solutions can reduce caregiver worry about when elderly give up, and caregivers feel trapped by responsibilities.  Let’s talk about the idea of changing your mind

0:46:19:12 Pamela D Wilson: and changing your life that includes showing affection to elderly parents and spouses, growing compassion, showing respect for different opinions, and bouncing back from adversity. The study of neuroscience—positive neuroscience—to be exact, supports the enjoyment of life even when elderly parents give up on life or care situations feel overwhelming. How we perceive others in caregiving situations affects how we think about care situations.

0:46:51:91 Pamela D Wilson: Adult children who have closer relationships with their parents are more likely to become the primary caregiver or be involved in supporting a parent’s care and hang in there when care situations become challenging. Additionally, thinking about when elderly parents give up on life may make a caregiver feel worried, anxious, or hopeless. The actions of parents toward the caregiver may make the caregiver feel good about efforts or feel unappreciated and devalued.

0:47:21:93 Pamela D Wilson: Hope arises when we see similarities between ourselves and other people who are family or potentially new friends. Identifying similarities is an interesting aspect of life. When elderly parents give up on life and demonstrate challenging behaviors, behaviors of parents affect the behavior of the caregivers. Caregivers tell me that they struggle internally with thoughts and behaviors they don’t like and didn’t feel before becoming caregivers for a parent or spouse.

0:47:54:41 Pamela D Wilson: Many say that caregiving has made them negative. How can we learn to respond more positively as aging adults with growing health issues and caregivers when elderly parents and ourselves may want to give up on life? Research (the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley) paints a contrast between people with happy outlooks versus negative outlooks. This is interesting. Generally, happy people are more likely to see changes and problems as opportunities even though they recognize the difficulties and challenges of situations.

0:48:27:71 Pamela D Wilson: On the other hand, people with more of a negative outlook or style who experience negative events have a lowered ability to manage their emotions. They may respond more negatively to stressful situations. Caregivers respond more confidently to situations when elderly parents give up on life by starting with the first relationships we have with our parents as babies. Studies relating to parental interactions with babies offer insight for adult children who become caregivers for aging parents.

0:49:03:54 Pamela D Wilson: Parents who attended parenting classes or participated in interventions to help parents feel better about their role in raising a baby showed results that reduced anxious thoughts for new mothers and increased positive thoughts for new fathers. Children raised by parents who were stronger caregivers were more socially engaged and had a greater ability to regulate their emotions as pre-schoolers and beyond.

0:49:33:57 Pamela D Wilson: The lesson gained here is that caregivers who gain knowledge, education, support, and information and encourage parents to do the same can experience more positive and caring relationships that minimize or help us manage through times when we all want to give up, or we feel hopeless. Learning, education, and knowledge support feelings of having more control over health and care situations. Instead of floundering and learning as you go through trial and error, why not take a course and gain insights upfront, before the need and situations advance to the point where you are frustrated or burned out or hopeless or wanting to give up on life.

0:50:17:51 Pamela D Wilson: You can avoid that regret of saying if only I knew back then—6 months, a year ago, three years ago, or more—what I know today, this situation of caring for a husband, wife, mom or cad, could have been different. The gap here, as you might guess, is convincing yourself to act today or convincing an elderly parent to act today to take an interest in learning and changing habits.

0:50:42:74 Pamela D Wilson: Denying our feelings about situations that feel out of control only results in greater emotional distress and poorer well-being for everybody. Let’s talk about specific steps for when parents give up on life, and the situation is unlikely to change. First, accept the situation for what it is. Second, set the stage for practical discussions by being clear with a parent that your continued involvement means talking and making a plan. When elderly parents give up on life, they may be so grief-stricken or blaming themselves that talking about the situation might be difficult.

0:41:21:06 Pamela D Wilson: Expect that the situation may take time to resolve. Don’t rush or pressure a parent or yourself. Keep bring up up the subject. Keep making time to talk until a spouse or a parent is ready. Third, reframe giving up on life, so it’s not personal. The problem is that the health and well-being of your parent will get worse with age. How will your parent and you as the caregiver manage the situation collaboratively and together? Most of all, encourage your parent to talk and explain how mom or dad feels about the situation so that you can use this feedback to arrive at possible solutions.

0:52:01:35 Pamela D Wilson: Consider sitting with a parent and asking questions and listening for an hour or two rather than rushing back in with solutions or suggestions.  Think about meetings from an equal time perspective. Time for you to listen to a parent’s concerns. Second, time for a parent to listen to your concerns, and third, time to brainstorm solutions. More importantly, realize that you may not be able to solve all of the issues.

0:52:30:71 Pamela D Wilson: While the situation may feel like your problem to solve because your parent’s needs and giving up on life affect you—that doesn’t mean you may not need outside help or support to gather more information or knowledge. It’s okay to admit you can’t do everything by yourself. Few caregivers can meet the total needs of a spouse or an aging parent by themselves for extended periods of time.

0:53:01:19 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s assume you discussed with your parent or spouse who is willing and committed to making changes or unable and unwilling. But you still created a family care plan together. What now for you? What steps separately of caring for an elderly parent, spouse are you willing to take to get your life back? Earlier, we talked about obstacles and things holding you back, like limiting beliefs.  If you feel stuck and have no choices about caring for an elderly parent, what choices can you make about how you care and what you will learn?

0:53:40:08 Pamela D Wilson: How you do it doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself. Hope exists for times when elderly parents give up on life. That hope involves taking action and progressing in reaching what you and your elderly parents want from the situation. Which may be very different things. It’s okay to have different goals if you are respectful of each other, agree to disagree when necessary, and move forward in collaboration when possible to create solutions for when elderly parents and caregivers feel like giving up on life.

0:54:17:76 Pamela D Wilson: Pamela D Wilson: Thank you for joining me this week on The Caring Generation – the only program of its kind connecting caregivers and aging adults worldwide to talk about caregiving, health, and everything in between. Invite your family and friends to listen each week. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker. I look forward to being with you again soon. God bless you all. Sleep well tonight. Have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are here together again.

0:54:47:32 Announcer: Tune in each week for The Caring Generation with host Pamela D Wilson. Come join the conversation and see how Pamela can provide solutions and peace of mind for everyone here on Pamela D Wilson’s The Caring Generation.

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About Pamela Wilson

PAMELA D. WILSON, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA helps caregivers and aging adults solve caregiving problems and manage caregiving needs through online programs, live support groups, and an extensive caregiving library that includes articles, podcasts, videos, and webinars.

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