Why Do Caregivers Quit (or Wish they Could)? – The Caring Generation®
The Caring Generation® – Episode 95 July 21, 2021. On this caregiving program, expert Pamela D Wilson shares the experiences of family and professional caregivers to answer the question Why Do Caregivers Quit? Professor Michael R Solomon, an expert on consumer behavior, shares insights for making healthcare services and products more consumer-friendly.
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Why Caregivers Quit (or Wish They Could)
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.
Why Do Caregivers Quit?
Watch More Videos About Caregiving and Aging on Pamela’s YouTube Channel
0:00:37:52 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. The Caring Generation is here to guide you along the journey to let you know that you’re not alone.
0:01:05:46 Pamela D Wilson: You’re in exactly the right place to share stories, learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead. Invite your aging parents, spouses, family, and friends to listen to the show each week. This week we are talking about the experiences of family and working caregivers: CNAs, nurses, doctors, therapists, care staff in nursing homes, assisted living and memory care community, and other care workers to answer the question why do caregivers quit or wish they could.
0:01:41:71 Pamela D Wilson: How can families, aging parents, spouses who need care, and the workplace become more sensitive to the needs of caregivers? I’ll share five reasons to answer the question why do caregivers quit—or wish they could. If you are in this situation, share this program with family members or your workplace and let me do the talking for you. The guest for this program is Michael R. Solomon, professor of marketing in the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and a consumer industry consultant to top companies worldwide.
0:02:21:64 Pamela D Wilson: He joins me to talk about healthcare from a consumer perspective and why consumers identify with the products they buy. His book, The New Chameleons, is hot off the press. His book Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having, and Being is used by businesses and students worldwide. Let’s begin with the number one reason that answers the question of why do caregivers quit.
0:02:47:40 Pamela D Wilson: The answer may surprise you because it’s so simple. Poor communication is one of the reasons why caregivers walk away. While we all may think we are good communicators, I will share how information can be easily misconstrued and trust broken. If you watch or listen to the news, you might be aware that it isn’t easy to know who is giving accurate information or sharing falsehoods that raise your emotions sky high.
0:03:17:48 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s talk about aspects of positive relationships that have a basis of good communication. Think of mutual respect, trust, honesty, compromise, individuality, or having a strong sense of self. Then, safety—feeling that a relationship is on solid ground. The ability to receive support when needed—very important for caregivers, and privacy—meaning having your own space and getting time for yourself. Also very important for caregivers.
0:03:56:15 Pamela D Wilson: The opposite—relationships that are struggling may include feeling isolated from family, friends, or social activities. Feeling abandoned, being on the receiving end of criticism or behaviors that wear down self-esteem or self-worth, extreme emotions like yelling, screaming, or any behavior considered verbally or physically abusive. In most relationships, people want to feel understood and appreciated. How many people immediately come to mind with whom you have a positive or negative relationship?
0:04:39:62 Pamela D Wilson: With how many people in your life do you share your deepest, darkest secrets or admit your faults or shortcomings? It’s okay; we all have them and we all need someone to share them with. How many people in your life do you hold at arm’s length. You might value your privacy and don’t want others not close to you to interfere or give you their opinions. Are you a private person who keeps information to yourself or shares it only with a small group of close friends or family members?
0:05:14:58 Pamela D Wilson: How do you feel about your working relationships with co-workers and supervisors? Are these relationships positive or struggling? Caregiving relationships of all types can add challenges to already difficult situations. When you think of personal and work relationships, do you feel powerless or confident? Let’s relate this to answer the question of why do caregivers quit?
0:05:45:57 Pamela D Wilson: Caregivers may quit because of poor communication that results from having a relationship imbalance. In caregiving relationships, there is usually some type of imbalance. The caregiver gives, and gives, and gives until the caregiver wants to quit. The caregiver needs more help and more help. Do all caregiving relationships have to arrive at this point of frustration? No.
0:06:19:31 Pamela D Wilson: Here’s why. Relationship imbalances result from misunderstandings, conflict, poor listening skills, poor communication, and sometimes that desire always to be right. One would wonder, are other people are always the problem? Might the problem lie with the caregiver? [chuckle] I say this in a laughing matter so that the focus is being part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Like Occam’s Razor, the principle that states that the simplest explanation Is usually right.
0:06:58:62 Pamela D Wilson: Hanlon’s razor is a principle that says – don’t believe that another person has ill intent or malice toward you when the action you experience might be a simple misunderstanding. People rarely intentionally go out of their way to do something that harms another person. In many cases, people—like caregivers—are busy with a million things running through the mind and a long list of tasks.
0:07:31:87 Pamela D Wilson: How easy is it to forget something or be distracted and make a mistake. Did you rush out of the house this morning and forget something—your lunch, a shopping list, your cellphone, and you had to go back. It’s pretty easy to make a mistake or be forgetful when a lot is going on. Suppose we put ourselves in the mindset of accepting that mistakes happen and everyone we meet is doing the best they can.
0:08:00:37 Pamela D Wilson: When we become more compassionate and understanding, it may be easier to lessen feelings of frustration and stop focusing on wondering — why do caregivers quit? Feeling frustrated and wanting to quit caregiving can be as much of our own doing as the actions of an aging parent or spouse. How many times do you hear, “what can I —or what can we—do to make this relationship or situation better?” This verbal collaboration certainly is not the first thing that comes into mind when we feel wronged by someone else.
0:08:42:31 Pamela D Wilson: The caregiver or the care receiver may self-isolate or even self-medicate to limit contact to avoid conflict. One may do and say only what is necessary and no more, which makes interactions more uncomfortable. When caregivers have a lot going on, poor listening skills and not being present in the moment can result in communication difficulties. If this is the case and you are at burnout—dreaming of why do caregivers quit and creating your list, think about carrying a notepad with you to write down important information until you can clear your mind and decide what to do next.
0:09:29:85 Pamela D Wilson: The last thing you want is to make a serious mistake that harms an aging parent or a client at work because you were distracted or inattentive. The interpretation and meanings of words are another reason that relationship challenges happen. Your aging parent or a supervisor asks you to do something.
0:09:51:30 Pamela D Wilson: You think you understand, so you do the thing. You come back to report. Your aging parent or the client says, “that’s not what I asked you to do.” Your frustration level goes off the charts, and you’d like to scream, but you don’t. Has this ever happened to you? If yes, look at the possibilities. Might the issue be poor listening skills, distraction, or inattention? Is it a difference in the way a word or request was made?
0:10:26:26 Pamela D Wilson: Is the problem two people having different definitions for the same word? Years ago, I had a communication glitch with one of my employees. I would make a request, and this employee would return having done something different. We both became frustrated. I took a step back and asked many questions to understand why what I asked wasn’t done. What I learned was that this employee was looking for the hidden meaning in the request.
0:10:59:24 Pamela D Wilson: I made it clear that there was no hidden meaning. If I wanted X, that meant I did not want A, B, or C. We both laughed and learned. The lesson? Be explicit. Ask for precisely what you want. Speak up. Don’t be vague and say, “oh, it would be nice if.” Instead, say, this is what I want, is this possible? Note the addition of “is this possible.” This is important. The person you are asking for help may not be the person who can help you, and you want to know that before assuming you’ll get what you want because someone is afraid to say, “that’s no my job.”
0:11:49:03 Pamela D Wilson: That’s important to know. We’re off to a short break. When we return, more on communication and the aspect missing from most caregiving relationships. The Caring Generation is not limited by time zone or location—caregivers worldwide can listen any time of day. The show and the transcript that you can read to find links to research and other helpful information mentioned during the program 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.
0:13:01:90 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, eldercare consultant, and speaker on The Caring Generation. Welcome back. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults are in my book: The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes, available on my website www.PamelaDWilson.com where you can also check out my caregiver course online, Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home and Beyond,
0:13:26:51 Pamela D Wilson: with 30 hours of webinars you can watch and other information featuring practical steps for how to take care of elderly parents and make a plan for aging and health. It’s never too early to make a plan to live the best life possible today and in your later years.
0:13:44:32 Pamela D Wilson: Speaking of making a plan, how about making a plan to avoid why caregivers quit rather than becoming so frustrated that you walk away from a job, a client, or a relationship with an aging parent. In the first part of the program, we talked about causes for miscommunication and a few tips for resolving these unintentional episodes.
0:14:11:58 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s look at negative bias that frequently happens when we don’t ask questions, but instead, we think the worst of a situation. How many worries build up unnecessarily by assuming the worst about a person or event when a simple explicit, direct question might offer the answer. Like—”it seems you are upset. Are you angry at me or something else?” Or, how about, “I’m noticing a change in your work habits and moods, is there something I should know?”
0:14:52:97 Pamela D Wilson: Asking a question in a curious rather than an accusing manner opens the door for communication. If the response is a concern, you have the opportunity to learn more and attempt to “work this out together” before the situation spins out of control. In fact, checking in with an aging parent, your caregiver if you are the receiver, or a client to say, “Is everything good. Is there anything else I can do for you?” That can go a long way to catch issues and avoid reasons why caregivers quit.
0:15:33:77 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s talk about the workplace for a moment. If you have a supervisor, do you have regular check-ins, maybe a stand-up meeting with the team, a weekly staff meeting, or an individual one-on-one meeting to review work status or projects? These ongoing meetings are an excellent opportunity to improve your communication skills and learn how to gain trust. If you mention this exercise as a goal to your supervisor I doubt that she or he will say “no, I don’t want to help you with that.”
0:16:05:51 Pamela D Wilson: Your supervisor might appreciate your initiative. If we have this type of ongoing communication and updates about project status at work, why don’t we translate this to caregiving responsibilities in the home? How might ongoing weekly communication with a parent help avoid intermittent blow-ups or high-conflict arguments? Imagine using these conversations with aging parents or a spouse and have them be communication practice for both of you.
0:16:38:95 Pamela D Wilson: This tip for caregiving relationships leads us to the aspect missing from most caregiving relationships. Can you guess? I’ll bet caregiver can—it’s caregiver recognition and appreciation. Now, this can be a difficult topic when caregivers feel that that they didn’t have a choice in becoming the caregiver. So, in that case, being recognized or appreciated for taking on work that was not a choice may not merit a thank you or appreciation, according to the caregiver.
0:17:12:31 Pamela D Wilson: Additionally, talking about caregiving with an aging parent might be uncomfortable because, as a caregiver you don’t want to talk about everything you’re doing or the stress that you experience. If it is possible to have balanced, open, and trusting conversations in other parts of your life, for example, at work—why not try to initiate similar conversations in a family caregiving relationship with an elderly parent?
0:17:45:25 Pamela D Wilson: Are you thinking, ah, this a cultural matter “we don’t do that?” Well, your parents are people. Don’t put your parents on a pedestal and resort to the emotional trap of asking why do caregivers quit while feeling that you are in that situation and that you have no way out. The way out is right in front of you. Improve your communication skills to improve the relationship with an aging parent, a supervisor, clients, or patients in the workplace.
0:18:18:15 Pamela D Wilson: Don’t allow negativity bias to tell you that it can’t be done. Worry about misunderstandings increases through the use of voice messages, text messages, or email. Because words on paper or in technology don’t always show compassion and consideration when you’re hurrying to send off an email or leave a voice message. Do you have parents or people in your life who send you an email or a text message or leave a voice message that says “we need to talk” with no further details?
0:18:56:32 Pamela D Wilson: We need to talk, in my opinion, is the worst kind of message. The person leaving the message may be doing it on purpose to get your attention, place you on edge, intimidate, or manipulate you. Don’t allow it more than once. When you respond, be clear and say, “I’d appreciate it if you would not leave me a vague message.”
0:19:22:09 Pamela D Wilson: If we need to talk about something, give me the subject line so that I can prioritize the timing of my response to you and be prepared to have the conversation. You know I have a lot that I’m managing right now. This consideration from you will help me to manage everything else that I am doing for you. The last thing you want to promote is an elderly parent or anyone else continually yanking your chain, pushing your buttons or sending you down an emotional rollercoaster because they know they can.
0:19:58:19 Pamela D Wilson: Clear communication about how best to communicate can help caregivers manage frustrations about why do caregivers quit. If you are in a client role, setting this type of boundary must be done very carefully. However, it’s unlikely that you receive messages all hours of the day unless you’re a doctor that’s on-call – midnight, 3 am, during work hours from your family like a family caregiver—or maybe you do.
0:20:27:82 Pamela D Wilson: Maybe you work in a caring position during the day while caring for elderly parents, a spouse, and other family members. In that case, you are juggling a lot of balls. The company you work for may have rules though about response times. For example, we do our best to respond within 24 hours. If this is an emergency, call 911. The goal in both business and personal situations isn’t to be non-responsive but to be in the best place you can from a mental, physical, and time management perspective to perform at your best.
0:21:08:26 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s talk about workplace stress for caregivers for a moment. This applies whether you are a family caregiver of an aging parent or a spouse or a caring professional working in healthcare or another area plus you’re caring for family members. Many caregivers in these situations do more than just wonder why caregivers quit. They quit because they don’t feel that they can meet their work and family obligations.
0:21:36:30 Pamela D Wilson: Unfortunately, this work-family conflict can grow to be significant. Emotional and family pressures can feel all-consuming for caregivers. In this situation, be sure to speak to your supervisor about alternate work arrangements or accommodations so that you can keep your paying job. As a family caregiver in this situation, you may have to weigh the balance of your paying job and caregiving responsibilities.
0:22:03:67 Pamela D Wilson: In this case, thinking about why do caregivers quit may be enlisting other support to care for an aging parent or a spouse so that you can continue to work and support yourself and your family. This thinking is not being selfish, as many caregivers might think. While your parent’s well-being is important, so is yours—your family, your health, and your well-being today and also when you are the age of your parents.
0:22:36:14 Pamela D Wilson: We’ll talk more about this in the second half of the show. Next, an interview with Michael R Solomon, who shares insights into healthcare as a consumer good and relates this to caregiving, well-being, and health. If you are looking for help with decision-making about caring for elderly parents or making a care plan for yourself, I can help. Visit my website PamelaDWilson.com to schedule an eldercare consultation. Click on How I Help at the top, then Family Caregivers, and then Eldercare Consultation. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.
0:23:39:33 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and eldercare consultant on The Caring Generation. If you feel isolated and alone and you want to learn about other caregivers experiences, and interests and find helpful information, follow me on social media. My posts respond to caregivers who communicate with me there. On Facebook, follow me @pameladwilsoncaregivingexpert where you can join my online caregiver support group, The Caregiving Trap. Follow me on Twitter @caregivingspeak, Instagram @wilsonpamelad, and Linked In @pameladwilsoncaregiverexpert. I’d like to introduce you to Michael Solomon. Michael, thank you for joining me today.
0:24:23:01 Michael R Solomon: Well thank you for having me.
0:24:25:60 Pamela D Wilson: You are a consumer marketing expert and there are a lot of debates about healthcare not being a typical consumer good because a lot of it—Medicare, Medicaid—they’re government-regulated and a lot of companies subsidize health insurance. So there’s really no recognizable cost to the consumer, but the costs to family caregivers are significant. Is there a way to connect healthcare with the role of caregivers from a consumer perspective?
0:24:50:36 Michael R Solomon: Yes, well certainly, you know healthcare is obviously a major expenditure for many of us. Too big in many cases. And yet, we often don’t think of it that way. Partly because it’s what we call an unsought good that it’s kind of like selling life insurance. You know, people don’t want to buy something that’s not going to benefit them right away—and in that case only when they die. So people, you know don’t necessarily think about shopping for healthcare and so on.
0:25:27:22 Michael R Solomon: Although the Obamacare era has somewhat addressed that issue. But yes, certainly, first of all as you point out there are costs. I think part of the problem is that the costs are not transparent and so consumers don’t really appreciate, for example, what their insurance might be paying for. You know anyone who has gotten an itemized hospital bill and seen what it really costs, you know, would resonate with that. But we can certainly, I think reframe the situation and we’re seeing that at least with some consumers who are becoming, I guess you might even call them healthcare shoppers.
0:26:10:36 Pamela D Wilson: Your website has this mantra on there it says “we don’t buy products because of what they do we buy them because of what they mean.” And so I saw a lot of press this morning saying, well how do we get people interested in caregiving? How can we make healthcare education or proactive healthcare behaviors interesting to people and mean something?
0:26:28:60 Michael R Solomon: Well when I say things we don’t buy things because of what they do, we buy them because of what they mean, you know the basic idea here is that the products and services we buy, literally are a part of who we are. They’re a part of our identity and I think for a lot of people taking on this caregiver role—is a new identity and it’s something that we have to learn just like we learn to go away to college or go through a job interview or what have you.
0:26:58:80 Michael R Solomon: We, people have to learn how to be caregivers and what we know is that, in general, we often call this the IKEA Effect. When people are more engaged or involved in creating the products and services that they buy, they’re more likely to take them to heart. You know, the IKEA reference being putting together furniture whether or not you have a few parts left over at the end you feel like it’s part of who you are.
0:27:25:97 Michael R Solomon: And so when you think about healthcare, obviously our health is a big part of who we are and for many people, it’s becoming more and more a part of their identity. Especially if you define it more broadly. You know if you look at veganism, and you look at yoga and wellness and so on. It’s a whole new day, I think, for the marketing of healthcare.
0:27:48:71 Pamela D Wilson: And a lot of consumers, it involves what I call instant gratification, so people will go to Starbucks and get a Café Vanilla Frappuccino that’s got 530 calories versus other products like Weight Watchers or the app that’s called Noom that’s become very popular among Millennials. So how can technology open doors for greater healthcare consumerism or just being aware?
0:28:13:29 Michael R. Solomon: I’m really excited about the potential of several technologies that I wish were more widely used at this point but I think they will be over time. One of those for example is augmented reality. And you’ve probably seen that. Any of your listeners who played Pokemon Go a few years ago [chuckle] you know. That’s an augmented reality technology. But, for healthcare, I think it has enormous ramifications because one of the biggest issues as you well know is just getting—is education and the huge volume of information we have to absorb if we’re motivated to access it.
0:28:51:69 Michael R. Solomon: So with a technology like augmented reality you can turn everyday media, like let’s say a pill bottle. Let’s talk about the pill bottle that you pick up at the pharmacist. And if you read the really, really tiny print which most people don’t they’ll maybe have information about contraindications, etc. But most people don’t process that. Now with a technology like AR, which you can do as let’s say, hold your device, your phone, or your iPad over the label on the pillbox and perhaps, well eventually a 3-D image of let’s say a doctor or a nurse can pop up out of your phone and say to you, “hey aren’t you taking, a you know vitamin X?
0:29:40:66 Michael R. Solomon: You should not be taking this medication with that. Or here are three ways to reduce your blood pressure. Whatever the health message is. When you deliver it—and you mentioned Millennials. Millennials and younger are totally visual. And I can tell you from teaching kids of that age. [chuckle] And they- you’re just not going to reach them with printed information. And so you have to fish where the fish are.
0:30:08:75 Michael R. Solomon: You have to present this in a compelling way and in a visual way. AR can do that and VR, virtual reality can do that as well. But augmented reality is much more accessible on a daily basis. So technologies like that and others that for example, might reveal the supply chain. You know if you’re buying a medicine or a food. Where it was produced. Perhaps what chemicals were used, etc. The technology is available to reveal all of that.
0:30:39:78 Michael R. Solomon: The challenge is getting consumers to change their behavior and actually demand these technologies. Because they are expensive, but I think in the long run when you look at an example like prescription compliance. And as you know I think probably, I think, the majority of consumers do not take their prescribed medications in the right way or take them at all.
0:31:02:61 Pamela D Wilson: You are right, yes.
0:31:03:44 Michael R. Solomon: And so for issues like that, man there’s nothing like these new technologies to really be able to reach in and grab people.
0:31:11:39 Pamela D Wilson: Well, and let’s say so on the other end, we have all these older consumers who aren’t embracing technology. How do we get to the maybe sixty-year-olds who are not ready to pick up technology or use an app? How do we reach them?
0:31:31:84 Michael R. Solomon: Yes. Well first of all there’s a bit of a misconception. Actually, older people are much more active in this stuff than you might think. But yes. Certainly, there’s a good number of them who are not. You know, I think the best weapon that we have is community. Is other people. No matter what age you are. You care about what other people think and you’re interested in what they are doing. And so anything that you can do to let people know that hey, you’re not alone.
0:32:03:02 Michael R. Solomon: There are actually other people—you can actually pick up, there’s something called a telephone. [chuckle] I guess you could pick that up or you could text them or whatever you want to do. But yes, there are other people here. You are not in this alone. And whether or not you’re tech-averse. There’s plenty of other people just like you and so one of the powerful things about the Internet—which can cut both ways. Is how easily you can identify a group of people who share common conditions.
0:32:33:19 Pamela D Wilson: That’s so true. So COVID has brought a lot of attention to family caregiving especially with the younger generations who are becoming caregivers for the first time. How do you see these generational shifts increasing attention to products or services and how do they affect people developing new products?
0:32:54:03 Michael R Solomon: Well again, as I said first of all you’ve got to shift to a much more visual orientation. And you also when you’re teaching people about caregiving—I know there are certain skills that are involved. When we look at teaching in general, we have to adjust for that I can tell you, teaching undergraduates for 40 years at this point. Very, very short attention span as you might guess. More of a, not much of a linear focus that is they’re you know, for older people there’s a start, a middle and an end to a story.
0:33:33:67 Michael R Solomon: For younger people, it’s more about hyperlinking and moving back and forth. So as people assume this new role of caregiver, which is as you well know actually much more common than most of us believe. Again, you’ve got the technology that’s going to help and you’ve also got that social media, community influence that I was mentioning earlier. So you’ve clearly got people that are eager to learn but they want to learn from their peers and they want to do it in video form not by reading how to be a caregiver.
0:34:10:65 Pamela D Wilson: You know, you’re an educator and you made me think of something. I have this dream. This soapbox dream of mine that says if we started educating children in grade school and high school about health and prevention and wellness we might be able to change this whole view of healthcare. Am I dreaming or is that possible? Would that work?
0:34:30:74 Michael R Solomon: Well, it’s certainly possible and hopefully it will happen. As you know there’s a lot of complicated, let’s call them political considerations in terms of teaching healthcare especially if it’s sexual health. But if you can get around that I think we are seeing a cultural shift. We’re seeing a huge—and the pandemic accelerated this. A huge interest in healthcare but you know, more generally in wellness. And so in a sense, caregivers and Lululemon have a lot in common because they’re both parts of this wellness revolution in different ways.
0:35:09:12 Michael R Solomon: So I do think we’re going to see this at a much earlier age. And anecdotally I’ve had people—numerous people—tell me that they made changes in their lifestyle because their kids brought something home from school and they said you know, “mom you better not do that anymore, etc.” So I think it is happening but it’s like turning a battleship. It’s not going to happen overnight.
0:35:31:12 Pamela D Wilson: Right. And I know that states control education, if I’m correct so each state would have to kind of put this on the agenda and get people to agree to do it (in schools).
0:35:41:29 Michael R Solomon That’s right and frankly, there may even be pushback from the medical industry on things like this. It’s very complicated because you know there’s a lot of turf issues involved as you know. And it should be much more magnanimous than it is but medicine is big business and so you know.
0:36:03:98 Pamela D Wilson: Well it is and I always tell my caregivers, “the healthcare system doesn’t want to help you before you’re sick but they sure will treat you after you’re sick,” because they make money.
0:36:12:15 Michael R. Solomon: Exactly.
0:36:12:81 Pamela D Wilson: So, one more question for you. So this whole COVID vaccination thing. I mean there’s good information, bad information. People are trusting not trusting. How it is, do you know, is it that people don’t trust information coming from the government. How can we get news out to consumers about the vaccine to get more people interested instead of saying, “ah, I don’t trust the government, that’s not for me? It’s bad.”
0:36:37:32 Michael R Solomon: Yes, this is the first. I’m not a medical historian but this is probably the first time that the act of doing something to prevent disease—like wearing a mask—has become a political statement and so polarizing. Unfortunately, there is a very, very low level of trust in the government. But actually, a lot of people surveyed show that people believe that brands and companies today are actually in a better position to make more proactive changes than the government is.
0:37:10:42 Michael R Solomon: They trust brands, ironically more than the government. That doesn’t mean they have a huge amount of trust in them but relatively speaking. But you know I think the way to look at it is you know, not to put people on the defensive but to recast the argument as you know getting vaccinated is something that—if you don’t want to do it for yourself, that’s one thing. But do it for your kids, do it for your community, your family.
0:37:36:10 Michael R Solomon: And in particular be careful about the source that you use to promote this kind of message. You know as you were saying we don’t trust government sources. You know at least some of us don’t. But we do trust our peers. And so we have, in general right now—and this is a topic for another show. We have a lot of mistrust of experts in general including physicians. And so the people that you want to promote this are probably going to be community leaders or what we call opinion leaders.
0:38:07:36 Michael R Solomon: You know, maybe they’re celebrities and so on, athletes. And we’re seeing this to some extent. But these people are going to have a much better hit rate I think than trotting out some government official whether it’s Dr. Faucci [chuckle} or someone else that has all of the data but doesn’t have the credibility, unfortunately.
0:38:28:59 Pamela D Wilson: You know. I believe that. Michael thank you so much for your time and all of the information that you provided.
0:38:33:51 Pamela D Wilson Oh, my pleasure and thanks to you for this wonderful thing that you’re doing for caregivers.
0:38:38:51 Pamela D Wilson: Next, we’ll return to why do caregivers quit. More ideas for how to balance work that pays you and unpaid work caring for aging parents or a spouse. This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, caregiving speaker, and eldercare consultant with you on The Caring Generation. Please share this week’s show, and all of the podcasts, with your family, friends, and colleagues. You can find the Caring Generation on all of your favorite podcast and music apps, including Apple, Google, I Heart Radio, JioSaavn, Spreaker, Amazon Music, Breaker, Deezer, Listen
0:39:11:66 Pamela D Wilson: Notes, Pandora, Player FM, Pocket Casts, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Stitcher, Spotify, Tune In, and Vurbl. Also, if you are looking for information and tips about caregiving check out my Caring for Aging Parents blog. This is Pamela D Wilson, I’ll be right back.
0::39:59:03 Pamela D Wilson: 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.
0:40:24:79 Pamela D Wilson: We’re back talking about caregiving. Unpaid family caregiving is receiving more press because of the pandemic—which I believe is good news. However, there are not, in my opinion, many practical or effective solutions being offered to create long-term improvements in the bigger picture of how health and caregiving interact, as we discussed with Michael R Solomon. The third answer to why do caregivers quit is the workload or difficult schedules.
0:41:00:18 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s talk about professional care workers, CNAs, care staff in communities, home healthcare staff, hospital staff. These businesses respond to the routine and the unexpected. The routine may be as simple as having staff on-site at the home or location of a client between 8 am and 5 pm. The unforeseen or the non-routine is what happens during those hours of the day and beyond when shifts get extended, or workers are asked to stay longer because of some type of emergency.
0:41:38:59 Pamela D Wilson: In this aspect, let’s multiply the experiences of a family caregiver into a single business to look at some of the chain reactions that set off. And then we’ll talk about the experiences of family caregivers. Let’s say, a client living in a care community falls and breaks a hip. Staff calls emergency services 911. The client is rushed to the emergency room. The family is notified and may rush to the hospital or if a care manager like myself is involved. I go to the hospital so that the family continue working and receive updates from me.
0:42:18:85 Pamela D Wilson: My plans for the day change. Wherever I happen to be, when my staff calls to advise about the client’s hip fracture, I leave and rush to the hospital emergency room where I may spend hours while my staff who had plans for their day cover the tasks that I was going to take care of that were time-sensitive and important. If the client who fell had appointments or other commitments at the care community, those are canceled. That affects other people and other schedules.
0:42:54:41 Pamela D Wilson: Schedulers at the hospital arrange surgery while other employees are busy discharging patients to free up beds for incoming patients like the client who fractured a hip. The staff in the emergency room is on high alert due to other accidents and emergencies sending patients their way. Every day for healthcare workers can be a frenzy-filled event that offers some routine but more of the unexpected with little emotional support, thank yous, or appreciation.
0:43:31:08 Pamela D Wilson: Family caregivers does this sound familiar as you experience similar routine and unexpected events? Few, if any family caregivers, have the support of a family team or anyone to back them up. Most of the care responsibilities fall on the primary caregiver, who may also be working a full-time job. Is there any reason why we are asking the question why do caregivers quit?
0:44:02:62 Pamela D Wilson: Long hours, a lack of sleep, irregular schedules, constantly responding to emergencies, living on that emotional rollercoaster, and more requests for the caregivers to keep going regardless of their health, personal life, or family situations. I want to talk about care workers in-home health and care communities like nursing homes, assisted living, and memory care.
0:44:33:33 Pamela D Wilson: In my personal experience, these care workers are some of the most committed and underappreciated individuals in the world. Most of them do what they do because they care. Very few are in this for the money although they do need to be able to support themselves. The same applies to unpaid family caregivers who are devoted to the care of aging parents or spouses. Because family members care, many overcommit their time and the personal resource of health.
0:45:07:93 Pamela D Wilson: Research confirms that many caregivers in all walks of life experience more health issues than the persons they care for unless the caregiver has an unwavering commitment and the knowledge and wisdom to support their own health and well-being. These caregivers that participate in self-care, I will tell you, are few and far between. I wish there were more. I’m trying to encourage you. Mention of self-care for the caregiver is like speaking a foreign language until someone gets the caregiver’s attention.
0:45:42:98 Pamela D Wilson: Or some event like a serious health problem that can no longer be ignored sends the caregiver to the emergency room. Caregivers ignore their health. They delay regular and preventative medical care because you’re too busy. Instead, many caregivers join the ranks of the chronically ill. People who do okay but don’t really feel well most of the time. The ongoing day in day out stress and pressures of being a caregiver—family or professional—wear caregivers down.
0:46:19:33 Pamela D Wilson: Caregivers either choose to quit being a caregiver, or their health makes it impossible to continue to keep up with their work responsibilities. Some downshift or change into a different position. Some caregivers may change companies or the type of job that they do but remain in the caring field because they can’t imagine doing anything else.
0:46:42:36 Pamela D Wilson: Turnover in the care industry is high for direct care staff who experience many of these issues. Poor communication in the workplace, a lack of recognition, no appreciation, and maintaining demanding work schedules. These are the reasons why caregivers quit and it’s not that all of them quit voluntarily. Many become run down, they may leave the industry for a few weeks or months and then return to work at a new company hoping to find the perfect job fit.
0:47:19:19 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s talk about caregiver compensation and unpaid work. Family caregivers are generally unpaid, overworked, and underappreciated. Some adult children become family caretakers in states where the Medicaid program pays family caregivers a low wage. The rates for CNAs and other care staff have been traditionally low with few benefits. Most don’t have health insurance because the companies employing them operate on low-profit margins.
0:47:52:42 Pamela D Wilson: Consumers looking in from the outside though are shocked by these hourly rates for in-home caregivers, rates for assisted living, and nursing home communities. Because of COVID, many healthcare workers have left the industry. Companies have faced challenges hiring and retaining care staff, and this continues today and it will continue into the future. Aging parents are fortunate to have dedicated children available who may think of quitting but who remain in for the long run until something happens to their health and they can no longer be the caregiver.
0:48:28:70 Pamela D Wilson: What solutions exist? The last reason for why do caregivers quit is actually a problem and a solution. It’s a lack of training or education. While education and training may seem to be more important for paid care workers, many family caregivers feel unprepared and untrained for the tasks they are asked to do. If you are a family caregiver you probably know this. You have learned how to take blood pressure and blood sugar readings.
0:49:02:14 Pamela D Wilson: Some of you give insulin and other injections, change catheter bags, use a manual or mechanical lift, manage medications, you are transporting walkers and heavy wheelchairs in your car, along with your elderly parents to get to medical appointments. Truly there is nothing that a family caregiver doesn’t or hasn’t been asked to do because the home is becoming the new hospital. What can caregivers do? What is the solution? I recommend seeking information and education in ways that are meaningful to you.
0:49:38:25 Pamela D Wilson: If you’re here listening—podcasts may be your go-to source for information. For others — it may be videos, reading articles or blog posts, giving opinions by participating in caregiver surveys like the one on my website, reading a book, watching a webinar, taking an online course, or joining an online support group. No caregiving situation is the same. In whatever method you want to receive information—those options are on my website at pameladwilson.com. Stay with me for more solutions for answering that question, why do caregivers quit after this break. This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.
0:50:54:59 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, watch
0:51:24:10 Pamela D Wilson: Some videos, and check out caregiver courses online in webinar format. Let’s look at why caregivers stay and what caregivers can do to participate in self-care before the caregivers need help themselves. Caregivers do what they do out of love, compassion, commitment, and duty. If these qualities didn’t exist, the world would be a much less loving place.
0:51:46:97 Pamela D Wilson: All caregivers deserve more, as do the care receivers who need care. By the time caregiving becomes a reality though, many life choices that could have pre-empted the need for more care may no longer be an option because caregivers didn’t have the information before. How can we change the future of caregiving? For caregivers currently in the workplace and for family caregivers, offering informational, emotional, and a sense of community and belonging is one of the keys.
0:52:21:54 Pamela D Wilson: The downside is that caregivers must commit the time to participate. While information is available the amount and time necessary to get answers may you need may be prohibitive without finding a practical or proven program, a method, that gets you the information quickly. How many of us have gone down a rabbit hole of searching the Internet for hours looking for an answer to a problem, and you come up with very few solutions.
0:52:51:10 Pamela D Wilson: The only way to stop that revolving door of caring is to start making changes one day, one week at a time to learn about actions that support well-being. Caregivers who make time for intellectual, spiritual, or other interests begin to regain the sense of self that becomes lost when caregiving activities engulf their lives. I know self-care isn’t easy because I’ve been there as a 24/7 caregiver for years in my two prior businesses.
0:53:25:02 Pamela D Wilson: Many of you know I was the primary paid caregiver for many clients and the legal decision-maker who got those 3 am phone calls like so many of you. Daily meditation and exercise have been my go-to routines for self-care—and they still are. In addition, I listen to music and I have an interest in spirituality. All caregivers have first to recognize the importance of committing to self-care and creating a schedule.
0:53:54:33 Pamela D Wilson: When I was that 24/7 caregiver, one of the best times of my day was to go to the gym and leave my cellphone in my gym bag. That 1-2 hours of not being accessible and not having to answer that phone was a blessing. When I left the gym, of course, there were numerous voice mails on my phone that I returned. But at least for that little bit of time—that little slice of heaven—my mind shut down and listened to music or focused on whatever I wanted.
0:54:28:03 Pamela D Wilson: Giving our minds a rest and having time to think helps caregivers keep doing what you do instead of dreaming of reasons why caregivers quit. Restful sleep is vital to recharge your brain and the body. If you are a caregiver or know a caregiver, encourage joining a group or a community of people who can support you and find education. Make friends with people who want the best for you instead of dwelling on family relationships that might be unsupportive of the work that you’re doing.
0:55:07:24 Pamela D Wilson: Think about the care you provide for an aging parent or a spouse and how you can start giving the same type of care, time and attention to yourself. I know, that’s another foreign thought. Caregivers deserve love, care, appreciation, and the time to take care of you if you are going to keep going and care for elderly parents. We all know that if the caregiver’s health fails, the entire family situation crumbles.
0:55:37:83 Pamela D Wilson: If you want to keep doing what you’re doing rather than worrying about why do caregivers quit you have to start somewhere, today. If consumers, if we are to change the face of caregiving and reduce the number of caregivers dreaming about why do caregivers quit, we have to come together in the spirit of learning how to care for ourselves and realize that the lives of caregivers are as valuable as the lives of the elderly parents and spouses for whom we care.
0:56:10:95 Pamela D Wilson: I want to end this show with some inspirational quotes about learning. Caregiving is definitely a journey of learning about how to be a caregiver and how to care for ourselves. First quote, Herbert Spencer – “The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” What actions will you take today as a caregiver to start valuing and caring for yourself? That’s me saying that. Next quote, Philip J Runken. “Action comes about if and only if we find a discrepancy between what we are experiencing and what we want to experience.” My question for you. What struggles are you facing in your caregiving journey or a relationship that you would like to improve? Identify the gaps and decide how to close them.
0:57:02:93 Pamela D Wilson: Thank you for joining me on The Caring Generation – the only program of its kind connecting caregivers and aging adults worldwide to talk about caregiving, well-being, 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.
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