Grief can be overwhelming, and for seniors going through it, it’s a powerful effect on our bodies. Kelley Smith at CarePartners Senior Living talks to Suzanne about how to hep, buy paying attention, being available, taking action to support loved ones, honoring that they need time to work through the process. This segment talks about what a senior living community needs to know to provide the right help for someone working through the grieving process.
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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.
The following podcast is provided by care partners living and answers for elders radio and welcome everyone back to our final segment here in this hour, which is flown by with our wonderful Kelly Smith from care partners senior living, and Kelly and I have been talking about grief. Um. Grief is a really, really overwhelming thing and it can be and obviously for our seniors and our loved ones that have got that are going through it, it’s a very powerful, Um, you know, effect to our system. Our Body are overwhelmed and I think part of what I think the message is that we’re trying to convey to each and every one of you is number one, pay attention, Um, and be available, not only to be there but also take action, to be there to support that loved one, to help integrate them into community, but also honor the fact that they need time and they need a process and Um, Kelly, welcome back and I hope I’ve kind of summarized our our last five minutes fairly well, have I not? Absolutely okay. So, obviously in this last segment I would love to talk a little bit about, you know, your interaction with families at this time with the process. Um and UM. You know how you can help families do a better job. Well, for example, one of the things that that any good community is probably going to want to know is, first of all, how long was the death and how is mom handling it, or dad? Um, has there been any other recent losses in the family that we need to be aware of? Um. And again, what are some triggers? You know, what are some things that might really upset mom? We want to make sure we’re being very careful around that. So we need families to be really honest. If they don’t know, they don’t know, because maybe it’s a new process for them too and they’re learning how moms do and that’s okay. Um, what are some things mom like to do? To mom have any activities that she didn’t do with dad? Right, because, you know, maybe mom did have a craft group or a you know, a bridge, like I said bridge, or something she went and did that was her and the girls or something. Well, can we keep that activity going? Yeah, you know what, what are some things we can do to encourage and encourage her to kind of get back on her feet a little bit? Um, favorite foods, favorite you know, things at music because there’s something that really makes her happy, what can we do? And those are things we’re gonna find out. Something else. Families need to really pay attention to that. When mom is in an assistant living community, after she’s been there for a minute, she’s gonna make some friends. So what people need to realize too, is if mom has had a loss, even if she hasn’t had a loss, if you know mom and dad have been divorced for forty years and now mom’s living in assistant living community, doesn’t mean she’s not gonna lose friends at that assistant living community. You still have to not just be like, well, I was just one of the ladies that lived there. You can’t do that. You still have to treat like a loss and you still have to be there for your loved one and see how they’re handling it, because you can’t remember they make good friends. These are people who have things in common with Ye, you know. So it’s not easy to go through those losses and assisted living as well. They lose friends. So be kind about those kind of losses as well, and some of those losses can actually trigger, you know, feelings of a loss that they went through. Yeah, that’s right. Back to the right back up in there, right, right back up in their nose again, and that’s again. So it’s like, are you paying attention to these things? And you know, it’s funny you’re telling me this story and I’ve had the privilege of doing therapy dog visits and how and especially at care partner’s properties, we go quite a bit too vine your park in Bathol and other places and, Um, you know, I love the stories that I get from mostly ladies that sit there. But Oh my gosh, last Saturday there was probably fifteen residents that in that little lobby. They were also, you know, in a circle and we went around with the dogs and and one of the things that’s interesting is that they share their memories with their spouse and say, well, you know, my husband when he was alive. And you know, it’s interesting with with therapy dogs because they kind of allow that heart to be open and there’s this this element of they can be vulnerable with the dog. They can share these these loving moments and you know, I am so honored to be there when, uh, you know, there was one lady last Saturday that said there’s all these amazing activities at Vine your park, but one of the things that I really look forward to is connecting with the dogs because I can be, you know, different, I can be myself, I can open up a more, and that’s the thing, I think that’s really amazing about the magic of animals. Um, and certainly if your loved and you know is an is an animal lover, Um that we’re more than happy to try to come and make a visit in that end as well, and certainly that’s an option as well. Yes, UM, sorry, yeah, yeah, so just it’s just basically opening up that, you know, your heart, allowing yourself to process, I guess, and sometimes an animal is a safe way to do that. It really is. And people can bring like, like I say, if mom and dad had a favorite dog but she can’t move it into this student Dan or a Husky, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring the dog visit right, you know. And again your your therapy dogs. I gotta Tell You, the joy it brings my residence. That’s why we’re excited to have it, you know, out at more of our communities, because there’s so much joy and those animals are so pure and so they are and they know them. It’s like we go back every week and the first thing they’ll say is is my dog, and you know dog’s name is would be, and they go would be. And then you walk in and they go emma and they go in. And of course, and my brother in law he has a puppy right that’s still in training. And then one lady says, where’s the young one? I’m looking for the young one, and it’s so cute because they they open up their hearts and you know, when I first met them a lot of them were kind of cranky a little bit, but they they like come alive. You know, they’ve allowed themselves to be more vulnerable with these dogs and that’s the thing that I think is so amazing. But it’s not just dogs. It’s the fact that any kind of animal at certain cases maybe maybe mom or dads and assist a living or retirement living. Maybe they should have a pet. You know, at this time it might be a good thing to have a small dog that and it would give them purpose, it would give them outside where the dog has to go to the bathroom. It allows them to be, you know, loved and cuddled and have that connection with a pet. So this this can also be a really good opportunity it really can, but again, keep in mind the person that you’re dealing with. It’s like if somebody showed up here right now with a dog, I’d shoot him. You know, I can’t. I don’t. I don’t have the bandwidth to take care of an animal. I mean already have a fish and a cat. I don’t have time for a dog. Well, and you have a huge job, but if you didn’t. But what I’m getting at is also you to make sure that when you when you do this, you know, talk to them, talk to your loved one. Maybe maybe a dog isn’t the right thing for them. Maybe a cat. You know, maybe they you know, maybe they would prefer a bird or you know if but I mean you’re right, having something to take care of you can also take some of the stress off of it’s not going to replace the person, but it can also give you again something to do, to give you again some purpose. Um, you know. And again, if more was also a faith based person, don’t take her church away just because she’s Um in an assisted living. If there’s things they need that also bring them comfort, you got to make sure those and I think the other side of that is don’t take the church away but also notify the clergy are there, you know who, who obviously is there to support them, saying, you know, Mary is just lost, Joe, and we want to make sure that Mary is comforted. Notify her her place of worship, you know, have the you know the outreach stuff from the community come and visit her. I mean you guys have this amazing private dining room and a lot of your locations right and you could do, you know, a little get, you know, a little private dinner for for Mary and her church group or something like that. Well, those yeah, and that’s the thing I think that is so the alleable about what you offers. You really bring the community together and bring the community in, and that’s what I see with your organization. And not only that, but, oh my gosh, there’s so many things that you do from the outside, like, you know, with with twelve days of goodness and and, you know, touching hearts. You do things in the community by supporting Um, the Alzheimer’s Association, and what families are going through right now with many cases the loss of a loved one through Alzheimer’s. Um those are the kind of things that I think you know when you are are you know, focused and mindful of the ways in which people are feeling. I think you guys do an amazing job. Thank you. I appreciate I’m very proud of my teams, very kind of loving, warm people who really do get attached to these and you know, and that’s another loss that we deal with all the time, you gotta remember caregivers who’ve been fighting hard to take care of this person and keep them happy and healthy and then they lose that person. That’s another loss in your building because caregivers take that they take that hard and they get attached to these folks and you want them to. The more you love them, the better care you’re gonna take up. Absolutely you want them to get attached to them. You like the fact that they love these guys and it hurts. You know it. It hurts when you lose a resident and and so you know there’s a lot that goes on with this Um. But I love the fact that it never changed. Some of the best advice I ever got from an executive director one time as I looked at her after losing a resident and I was so fond of and I said, does this ever get easier? She goes. I hope not. Wow, she goes because of the day. You can handle this, you can’t. You shouldn’t do it anymore. Yeah, and she was right, because that means you don’t care anymore. YEA, and yeah. And in communities. You have so many communities it happens probably every day somebody loses somebody, and and that you know a lot of these residents have been there for a long time and you know it’s they become family to you and certainly to lose them is it’s just tears at your heart. It doesn’t watching watching what the families go through, when the surviving spouse goes through. It’s hard on everybody. But again, what I like to see in those communities, and it’s not just care partners, you know. I’d love to just say we’re the only ones, but we’re not. There’s great companies out there full of kind, caring people, and when you see them come together around that person and support them through this tough time and get them not just the basics that they’re getting paid to do, but the heart felt I care about you above and beyond, when you get to see that, it renews your faith and people again. Absolutely, I couldn’t agree with you Mark Kelly and I am so glad we’ve talked about this topic because I think it’s some things that I hope each and every one of our listeners are thinking about, thinking about those that they know that may have lost the loved one, you know, recently in the last year. What can you do, what can we do as a community to just reach out and let them know that we care and, Um, I’m so glad we had this conversation today. Yeah, me too. Thank you. Until next week. Be Good to each other. The preceding podcast was provided by care partners living and answers for elders radio. To contact care partners living, go to care partners living dot com.
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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.
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