by Kate Beddow—
Today I have the great pleasure of being the host on Day 3 —
of the Virtual Blog Tour of author Carolyn A. Brent whose book The Caregiver’s Companion: Caring for Your Loved One Medically, Financially and Emotionally While Caring for Yourself is celebrating its big Amazon launch on January 27th2015.
Carolyn A. Brent is a nationally acclaimed author, speaker and caregiver advocate. She has dedicated her life to preparing caregivers and their loved ones to face end-of-life issues. Carolyn is the founder of Caregiver Story, a non-profit organization that provides free medical, legal and wellness resources to the public.
Yesterday, Carolyn visited Tina Games at http://moonlightmusepress.com/legacy-and-the-caregiver/, where she interviewed Carolyn on the topic of legacy and transitioning.
Today, I’d like to share with you a recent interview I had with Carolyn when I got to ask her about tips for staying healthy, loved ones accepting help and transitioning back to living for yourself. I hope you enjoy it.
Kate Beddow: I recently spent 2 weeks caring for my Gran while my parents were taking a much-needed holiday. By the end of the fortnight I was physically and emotionally exhausted. What are your tips for staying happy and healthy yourself while caring for loved ones?
Carolyn A. Brent: First of all, I would like to personally thank you for supporting your parents, and grandparents with your time and unconditional love. Often the caregiver(s) get stuck in the daily routine & responsibilities of caregiving — never getting that “Well-Needed Break!”
I know from first-hand experience. I was one of the 65.7 million Americans who serve as caregivers for someone who is ill, disabled or aged. Representing nearly a third of the US adult population, unpaid caregivers are the largest source of long term care services in this country according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.
Their services are valued at nearly half a trillion dollars per year.
One person (primary caregiver) cannot, and should not be expected to do this heart-breaking job alone. Yes, I did say job! It’s an emotional, physical, and financial roller coaster ride from start to finish! I highly recommend families make caregiving “A Family Affair.” Remember family is not always blood-relatives (i.e., extended family, medical professionals, church, temples, caregiving support groups, both federal and state agencies).
Caregiver(s) do not be afraid to ask for help! And know what type of HELP you need. Then, schedule a family meeting with the GOAL of fact-finding and what role each family member can offer as support– and best suited for. Example, if a person volunteers to be in charge of your loved one’s finances make sure they are a good “money manager” with their own finances order. Here are a few suggestions in making caregiving A Family Affair:
- For someone who enjoys cooking they can offer and create a healthy meal-plan, and schedule drop-off dates to deliver food.
- If someone works in the medical field they may want to offer taking your loved one to his or her doctors’ appointments.
- They’re maybe someone that is a good communicator and will be confortable speaking with both federal and state agencies and financial institutions about your loved one’s finances.
- The person who is confortable bathing, and dressing your loved one can schedule daily/weekly visits for that purpose.
- The socialite in the family may want to plan scheduled activities (if your loved one is healthy enough to participate). Additionally, get the grandkids involved.
- See who is confortable in the roll of a Health Care Advocate that will fight for the rights of your loved one’s medical, financial and legal needs.
Kate Beddow: It is incredibly difficult for most people to accept help after years of living independently. What is the best way to help them accept the help that they need without stripping them of their dignity?
Carolyn A. Brent: When I cared for my dad, one of the toughest challenges I faced was his resistance to care. How do you help a loved one who doesn’t want or resists your help? I had to learn and understand why my dad was resistant and develop new strategies to gain his cooperation.
Have you ever thought about why your loved one is resistant to receiving help from you and other family members? It could be due to the fact that he or she may be dealing with a personal loss, such as a spouse, physical loss, mental loss, and/or the fear of losing his or her independence. Or it could be that your loved one doesn’t have a solid relationship with their family members. Or maybe it’s connected in some way to the fact that your loved one’s friends have all passed away. Or your loved one could be in the early stages of dementia. Or perhaps your loved one doesn’t want you to know about a chronic condition he or she is suffering from. And it could very well be because he or she is afraid of:
- You taking away his or her car keys
- Losing his or her way of life
- Getting old
- Not having any financial assets to help you
- Being a burden on you
- You taking all his or her financial assets
- Having you as a caregiver
- Being thrown into a nursing home
Be patient with your loved one. In time they will feel more comfortable and start trusting that you have their BEST interest at heart.
(See Chapter 8: How to Have Crucial Conversations When Your Aging Loved One is Resistant)
Kate Beddow: My parents cared for my Grandmothers for 5 years and are still caring for my Gran. This has taken a huge physical and emotional toll on their lives. How easy is it to make the transition back to living for yourself after caring for others for years?
Carolyn A. Brent: This is the number one question I get asked most often. Yes, after being a caregiver long-term, I was a completely different person at the end. I started looking at life differently. Many caregivers’ I spoke with faced the challenge of getting to know themselves again. I suggest aligning with other post-caregiver(s) who practice self-wellness in every area of their life. Surround yourself with only positive likeminded people who will bring joy to your life. The following are a few additional recommendations:
- Allow yourself to grieve over the loss of your loved one.
- Seek help to recover from caregiving.
- Understand and embrace the power you have to reinvent yourself.
- Remember that life did not deal you a bad hand of cards, and you know where to go from here.
- Don’t feel embarrassed when you can’t think of the last time you had fun! Start having fun now!
- Give yourself credit that you did all you could do for your loved one.
- Pick up the pieces of your life by grieving, forgiving, learning to love yourself again and appreciating your self-worth.
- Know the importance of being able to “just say no!” to things you do not want to do and don’t feel good about doing.
- Let go of the “If I coulda, woulda, shoulda” song that plays over and over in your head.
- Know current events, and get back in touch with what is happening in the world.
- Embrace your caregiving experience.
- Do something you have never done before.
- Give yourself permission to be happy, and love your life!
(See Chapter 10: Taking Care of Yourself When You Are a Caregiver)
Book Trailer — The Caregiver’s Companion: January 27, 2015
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Carolyn A. Brent and that you’ll check out her book on Amazon January 27, 2015:
The Caregiver’s Companion: Caring for Your Loved One Medically, Financially and Emotionally While Caring for Yourself
Thanks for reading! Please share your comments and thoughts below. I love reading your feedback.
AND… be sure to follow Carolyn tomorrow when the next stop on the Virtual Blog Tour is Krystalya Marie’, who will be interviewing Carolyn on the subject of the caregiving talk, self-love/self-care and tips to get family involved. To visit that “stop” on the tour, go to http://empoweredspirit.com/?p=798