As we talk about transitioning out of the pandemic and how it affected seniors on Father’s Day weekend, CarePartners Senior Living‘s Kelley Smith talks about how to assess if their senior loved ones are depressed or if their health has changed, and what their expectations are when the subject of senior living is approached.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
And Welcome back everyone to answers for elders. Radio is we are talking about transitioning out of Covid and what really is going on and how, if this affected our seniors, and we spent the first segment talking a little bit about what’s happened and to think about how their lives have changed. And so now, as a family member, if you have a loved one that is sitting, you know it’s been sitting at home for four hundred and fifty days, four hundred and fifty days since the state was pretty much shut down, and so we want to talk a little bit about now you know how to help your loved one and what really to expect of them. And so Kelly Smith is here from care partners living. Kelly, I’m glad you’re here with us. Thank you an honor to be here. Well, Kelly, you’re talking to families all the Times that are kind of like, what’s next? How do I help? I’m sure you’re getting a million quadrillion questions, are you not, all the time? People don’t want to do this too late, but they also don’t want to do it too soon, m you know, because they already know that mom suffering from depression and what you worry about is if you put her it up home, what’s going to happen then? Yeah, but there’s things to look forward to. Make that decision. You have to know what the ear marks are to decide if it’s even time to have that conversation with mom yet. Yeah, they very true, very true. And obviously, with with there’s perceptions of it as sits to living aside right, obviously, is how do you how do you discover if mom or dad are depressed? I mean, I’m just going to go right back to let’s okay, let’s yeah, let’s have that conversation. Here’s the thing. Every single human being on this planet has some anxiety or depression or they’re not paying attention to what’s going on Aboud. Let’s just tell the truth. Everybody’s gone tank. COVID is made it different for a lot of people. It really has. Everybody’s got a little bit of something, you know, whether they talk about it or not, but most people are dealing with something in their life right now. So you have to be able to separate. Is this just because mom and dad are having a bad day, a bad week, or is this really truly depression? And how do you know the difference? Well, I’m not a psychologist, but I can tell you from assistant living standpoint, when you walk into mom and dad’s house and their bills are piling up, there’s food in the refrigerator that should have been thrown out a long time ago, you notice they’re not eating. They’re doing more take out. Why aren’t we cooking, and what kind of takeout are we doing? You’re normally healthy parents who’ve been cooking all these years, or now eating the donalds all the time, and what’s up with that? Yeah, why aren’t we cooking? Are we only in our home? Maybe they they’re still living in the family hall, pre four bedrooms that were only using two or three rooms in the entire house. Are we bathing that? Are we keeping up our hygiene? Have we gotten to where every conversation is negative, every time we talk to mom and Dad? How you guys doing today? Oh, you know. Oh well, everything’s everything’s terrible. This is is there ever? They ever having happy days? What’s going on in their life when you go over there to see them? What kind of condition is the house in? Okay, again, what condition are they in? Our things being kept up around the house? Is the house falling apart, because that can also be not just mom and dad’s knee is bad. He can’t get out there and take care of those gutters. Could it also be there just depressed and they just don’t care anymore? They’re just done? Are they taking their medications? Are we having a medication mishap where mom and dad are are also forgetting to take their medications? Are they hydrating? Are you finding out from the neighbors that there’s some things going on? Now, the neighbors grabbing you at the at the driveway and saying, Hey, we haven’t seen your parents in a couple weeks, they haven’t been outside, we got nice weather. What’s going on? So there’s some ear marks, things to pay attention to and this time to sit down and talk to him. But if we’re having issues where mom and dad her mom’s going to the hospital. She all the sudden she’s falling. There’s things that are happening that don’t make sense, that’s the time the family needs to really investigate, and the parents aren’t going to like it. They’re so used to being independent, there’s used to being up parents that they’re not going to like the fact that some of their kids are sticking their nose in their business. So parents kill really need to understand there’s also a respectful way to do this, because you go in there with both guns loaded and say all right, we’re going to have conversations, I’m sure that you can person they’re going to shut you down right now. You have to. You have to be able to do it at a time when they’re not having a world to day. You need to sit down with them and say hey, we’re concerned. Is this place getting too big? What kind I think you is giving them proper notice that you want to have the conversation, but you give them time to process before the conversation happens. I think that’s respectful. You know, mom or Dad, I’ve got some things I want to discuss with you based on some observations I’ve made. I really want to bring you into the conversation and share the thoughts openly and I want to give you time to kind of process this before we have a conversation. And and that means it’s not threatening, you’re not put on the defensive. It gives them an opportunity to be involved and engaged. I think that you’re not trying to ram something down their throat and that’s it. In listen. The other point that I want to really get across the families is listen. Don’t go in there and do all the talking. Slow down and listen to what mom and dad are saying. You don’t have to agree with them and you’re not going to solve the entire world’s problems in that conversation. The first conversation is always the one where they’re going to fight you and I’m probably going to tell you why. You need to mind your own business. Just be prepared. The first conversation is never the one where they go, let’s go look at it’s just the living communities. We can’t wait. That happens maybe one in the hundred where. I can’t tell you any families have come in here and go. I can’t even believe mom and Dad said, yeah, let’s go. I mean it happens. Never happened that way. You never happens where. Yeah, a lot of times we’ve actually had it happened with the kids. will sit down with mom and dad and remember were worried about you, and they’re like, what took you so long? We’ve been hoping you come help us find a place. You know it does happen, but be prepared. Those are rare conversations. Or that’s so often what you’re saying, because so many people say it. Well, I know my dad won’t move because he’s already said this. And it’s like, you know what, if I had a nickel for every crime of the family has told me this, it’s like I’d be a very rich woman. Right, because this is not the case. It’s like this is common. And understand the mindset of a loved one. Are, that is, the senior that is losing faculties, that is feeling more vulnerable than one thing they want to hang on to, even though it may be detrimental to themselves, is what’s familiar. Right. Not only that, not just familiar, but also their independence. Yes, to remember, not just familiar, but you’re going to take them out of their neighborhood where they know where everybody, their neighbors. You can sell the home that they raise those children and there’s memories. Yeah, you know, you’ve got you got a lifetime together in this house. Right. You know, you think about it. What I always say to my fiance say is is that you know, we’re not we’re not, we’re not going out and doing something. We’re building memory, you know, because this is what we have our life together as memories. Right. Well, what if you’re having what if your spouse is getting dementia and now your children are talking about putting you in a home? What are your new memories going to look like? All My new memories are my wife having a fit because she’s got to go to bed now without me, in a dementia unit. That’s my new memory. See People, people, also, you have to remember that generation also only has nursing homes to remember what their parents and grandparents were in. Right of them don’t even know what these places are like anymore and they’re afraid they’re going to move into their independence is going to be taken away. Some nurse, some executive directors going to be bosting them around all the time. I’m going to take your spouse from you. You know, they think that they’ve heard horror stories too. So a lot of times their fear is actually based on on perception of what these places are like. I’d rather stay in my house and die then move to a place where you’re going to take my spouse from me, going to take all my money. You know, you’re not going to, I’m have to add, to be told when I can eat, when I go to bed, I’m going to be tweeted like a child again, and and and so. Then the children also have not just the fear of moving and the fear of all these other horrible things, but now the loss of independence. And it’s so it’s did the children understand the whole, the whole gamut of what these parents are really looking at? And I’ll scary that can be when you think about moving. Right now, right we’re getting ready to buy a house and all I keep thinking is we got to do this again? Are you kidding me? Right, but the end result is you got this great house, you’re still happy, it’s are forever home. will now add thirty years to that. Sure. Now my back is bad and my spouse is sick and we’re doing this because our children came to us and said, but we’re worried about you guys. All right, we’re going to buck up and do it, knowing this is the last place we’re going to live. So when you do have those conversations with your parents, no matter a frust rated you are or scared, you need to remain calm and kind because at the end of the day, this is their life and you have to remember that and their perception is inaccurate. Is it will be because there’s options that they know about. It’s very important to get those fears out in the open. It is and beat the beat kind remember your parents raised you. They’ve been through a lot. We I had a woman come in here three weeks ago who was at twelve years old, went through World War I and lost a lot of her family. Those people still exist there, their family still exists. Where’s the heart? Where’s the kindness? So you’ve got to slow down with people and hear their stories because a lot of times there’s reasons that people are afraid to move into to a place where they’re afraid they might be controlled. They’ve got stories from their past we don’t even know about, very clear of very, very true. So you know, in our next segment we’re going to talk a little bit about making that transition and what to expect when you’re looking at senior living and how you know what is going to happen once we get to this point of you know, of transitioning in the state is opening. There’s still going to be some situations in assistant living. This going to be different everyone. It’s not going to be this blanket opening and so Kelly it and I we’re going to we’re going to discuss a little bit more about what that’s going to look like in after June thirty. And in the meantime, Kelly, how do we reach you? The best place to find us at all, honesty, is to check out our website. It’s care partners Livingcom and then you can see all the communities, the new construction. You can even see my love if you look under additions team so well, stuff. We Love You, kill and and and the thing is, everyone, just remember this. I think telling made a really important thing. Kindness. Kindness is is an absolute blanket thing, no matter what is going on, whether they’re they’re dealing with their fears or just frustration. This is the time, as frustrated we all are, is to have remember our humanity and remember our kindness, and I think this is important, to listen, to be open and allow the process to unfold. And we are always here for you. And Kelly, we leave right back, right after this
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Founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., Suzanne Newman proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne Newman found herself on a 6-year journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. In 2009, she became the founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., subsequently hosting hundreds of radio segments and podcasts, as well as authoring her first book. Suzanne and Answers for Elders, Inc. have spent 14 years, and counting, committed to helping families and seniors along their caregiving journeys by providing education, resources, and support. Each week on the Answers for Elders podcast, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including Health & Wellness, Life Changes, Living Options, Money, Law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.