Suzanne Newman talks with 14-year-old Hailey Richman from Long Island, New York. Hailey is executive director for two non-profit organizations that help seniors.
When Hailey was four years old, her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Her grandmother was her best friend, and Hailey felt isolated. When she found out that there were no support groups for kids, just adults, she decided to make her own. At 8 she started blogging to support and empower other kids who are acting as caregivers. The site gives tips and suggestions for others like her. Hailey shared moments between her and her grandmother such as being called by her mom’s name, and realizing that she needed to accept that and inhabit her grandmother’s world in order to help her.
She loved making puzzles with her grandmother, and when she brought friends over they’d make puzzles with others on her grandmother’s floor. Why not make this for all nursing homes. She created Puzzle Time, an inter-generational program where girl scouts, church groups, and others can volunteer community service hours helping solve puzzles with people who have Alzheimer’s.
Support the cause by donating or volunteering to help get puzzles into facilities that don’t have a lot of resources. Learn more at KidCaregivers.com and PuzzlesToRemember.org.
View Episode Transcript
*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 is a podcast from a qualified senior care provider, hurt, on the answers for elders radio show. And welcome everyone to answers for elders radio show and network and for all of you that are listening today, I am telling you right now, this guest that we have on our show today is in an inspiration to every single one of you, and I don’t care who you are, where you are, what you’re doing. I hope you listen in today because it’s not too often we run into a young lady like Hayley Richmond, who is here with me today, who is the executive director of not one but two nonprofit organizations that serve our seniors that primarily have Alzheimer’s but obviously are helping with kids getting, you know, benefiting from intergenerational type programs with seniors. And Hayley, you’re in Long Island, New York and you’re here live with me on answers for elders. So welcome, welcome, welcome to our program thank you, Hayley. You’re fourteen years old and I am so when I heard about you the other day, it’s like I have to meet you, I have to meet you and I’m so thrilled to have that opportunity. So tell me a little bit, just tell our listeners about you and your background and how you got into this. So, when I was four years old, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and I felt very alone and isolated because no one was really going through I was going through. So I went online with my mom and we looked and we saw there were no support groups for kids, only for adults. So I thought, well, why aren’t I create my own? So I created kid caregivers, which is a nonprofit that gives tips, ideas and suggestions to kids who are dealing with loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease, and I shared my own personal experiences to help people realize that they aren’t alone and that they’re solutions to the issues. Absolutely there are, and you know, I can so appreciate what you’re talking about. You know, I was an adult child in two thousand and five when my mom started declining and she had dementia. She did not ball Alzheimer’s, but I know that feeling of aloneness, of thinking that you want to make a difference, but for a child you don’t necessarily have you know the resources or the tools with you yet. So you know you talked a little bit about well, I decided to creep my create my own that’s a huge step. Tell me about that process. So, yeah, so I was eight years old when I founded it and at first it was just a blog. I would give tips, ideas and I had post things such as today, my grandmother called me Emma and I would say how I wanted to my grandmother’s world and that’s your mom’s name. Yes, so at first it was confusing for me and I would tell my grandmother my name is not Emma, I’m Haley, and then I sat down thought to myself, my grandmother’s not going to understand that, so why don’t I go into her own world? Instead of confusing her, I’ll just go along with being Emma so it won’t stress her out. So I posted that on my blog. I said today, this happened to me and here’s a solution. And people like this, because you know, it’s not just me. Millions of kids are dealing with this. Yes, they are, and a beloved grandparent. You know, that may have been fine in there, you know, even a little bit older. You know, they may have a history with a grandparent or parent. In some cases, if you’re if you have a father that’s, you know, considerably older or that has early onset Alzheimer’s, that that’s a whole other situation. And certainly Alzheimer’s disease is like this really scary thing for so many people and it’s like, you know, even though the person that has Alzheimer’s, they kind of go through the least amount of stress because they don’t realize it, but the family around them it can be confusing and a specially to reach kids your age. I can imagine there’s a lot of fear, in trepidation. So tell me a little bit about, you know, what you’ve discovered and what was the process you went through to even understanding about Alzheimer’s. Yeah, so it was scary at first. I noticed that my grandmother had to make some lifestyle changes. She couldn’t live alone, and it was scary because I didn’t understand what she was going through. But I realized that if I work together, I could find ways to what I call it go into her world to help her, because she some sorts. She would get stressed, we would be walking and it would be time to bring her back into the nursing home she lived and she wouldn’t want to go and she like scream and I thought to myself, what are some ways to calm her down? So one way I would do is I would hold her hand, I’d say come with me, and it would make her calm down. And I realized that this wasn’t just me and people would reach out to me, they would email, they would say that their grandparents were giving them some hard times and they would ask me for my suggestions and I would help give them suggestions. Yeah, and and and you lot, you learned suggestions primarily through your own experience. Did you consult other people in the industry? How did you learn all these whazing things? So I would work with Guids, counselors, and some of it would be my own experiences. I would go into classrooms and talk of my students and they would say that they had grandparents and they didn’t realize but they were going through similar things. MMMM. And and you are really young at this point. How old were you when you first started this? I started when I was nine, my goodness. And and so through that process of caring for your grandmother and nine years old, and realizing that you can make a difference. I mean, how did that? I can’t imagine a nine year old even having the capacity to understand that. So, you know, this is where I think our listeners would love to learn. How did you get inspired to do something? I got inspired to do this because I felt, you know, instead of waiting for someone to come out of a support group or help others, maybe I could be the change, maybe I can help other kids, and that’s what I really wanted to do. Well, you did an amazing job and and certainly, you know, with the support of, I’m sure, a wonderful family around you, and it sounds like they took very good care of your grandmother. She was probably really blessed till she passed away in two thousand and twenty quest and she yes, yeah, so as a child, I think there’s a lot of families around the world, you know, obviously, that have kids of all ages. What are you finding kind of is the is the temperature amongst young people? Are they curious? Are they, you know, neutral, are they confused? What are you finding most? I think it might be curious and confused. Like at first they might be confused. What’s happening, but I think they’re curious to understand how to cope with this and they might be sad, but they can realize that, you know, they’re not alone and they’re one point eight million children who are caregivers. So we can all help each other. That is amazing. And when you define that one point eight million in the US caregivers, that our children, is that underwt age? I think under eighteen, okay, and they’re actually fulfilling caregiving duties. Is that correct? Yes, what? What kind of things are you you know, what kind of other kid caregivers are you meeting and and how is that happening? I’ve met people who have had to care for their grandparents, such as helping them to take a shower or feeding them on a daily basis. So there’s many different levels. Wow, wow, and and certainly in that process it’s like finding that role for you to fill that you can feel fulfillment from. But also it’s not so scary after a while when you know what you’re dealing with, and I think that’s really the key thing, isn’t it? Yes, I agree. Yeah, so you were quite a quasic caregiver for your grandmother over time. Tell me about your relationship with your grandmother. My relationship with my grandmother was very special. She was my best friend and I love spending time for her, which is why I love going on my blog, and one of the ways I love to spend hime of her it was doing puzzles because they stimulate the visual cortex. HMM. I met Max Vok, who is the founder of puzzles to remember, which is a nonprofit organization that I’m now the executive director of, and it gives and distributes puzzles to people who are living of Alzheimer’s disease and the nursing homes. So I thought, you know, my grandmother loves the puzzles and when I would take my friends to the facilities, we would solve of other people on my grandmother’s floor. So I thought why not make this for all nursing homes? So I created puzzle time where high school students, are girl scouts or anyone who wants to volunteer could come and for an hour they can get community service hours for solving puzzles with people of Alzheimer’s disease and it creates an intergenerational connection and it’s really beneficial for bull that’s it’s amazing and its course puzzles are so valuable and certainly to have this type of a resource for kids. You have this amazing website out there and we’re going to talk a lot about kid care, carvy, givers and puzzles. Is it? What is your puzzle time? is to called puzzle time? Yeah, yes, through this hour and and Haley, I I’m telling you. You know, how can we support you? I want to start this way and we’re going to repeat this throughout the hour. So little tell us a little bit about you know, how we can support your cause. So somewhere as you can support the cause is by donating, because we want to get puzzles into facilities that don’t have a lot of resources, that are marginalized, and we want to get puzzle time in there. And you can contact us to volunteer and we can help set you up a facility that doesn’t have a lot of resources and can help make a difference. Yeah, well, and we had answers for elders. Are certainly willing to help you in that effort and you know, we work with some of the top you know, amazing facilities across the country, as well as community centers, different types of marginalized communities and things like that, how you’re helping those and certainly I’m just thrilled to have you on the program and certainly to just if to our listeners. You don’t even have to have a loved one with Alzheimer’s. I mean I know that here in Washington state there are now I want to get the figure right, there’s almost four hundredzero people in our state that suffer with Alzheimer’s. Wait, I got that wrong. Hundred and fifty thou in the state of Washington and they’re being cared for by close to four hundred thou unpaid family caregivers. That’s what the statistic is. Sorry about that. My mind got a little bit frazzled there. But everybody, I believe, has some sort of a connection to someone with Alzheimer’s, to Menscha or nose of a story. We also there’s church groups, there’s things out there that you can get involved in and certainly to donate on even just to go on Amazon and send puzzles. I mean I’m sure you have a way for people to do that, do you, Hayley? Yes, we actually have specialized Alzheimer’s Puzzles by Springbok, and that’s wonderful. And what’s really nice about them is sometimes someone of all Zeimer’s disease can’t really solve a puzzle. Let’s say it’s five hundred pieces. You know it’s very difficult. Yeah. Well, these puzzles have thirty six pieces and their large so the people can see them perfect. What’s unique about them? It’s most puzzles that don’t have a lot of pieces have very kid like images, but someone of Alzheimer’s want something adult like, so they have skies or Paris. It’s also a awesomely food starter. Answers for elder radio show with sees and even hopes. You found this podcast useful in your journey of nevigating with the care check out more podcasts like this to help you find qualified senior care experts and areas of financial, legal, health and wellness and living out and I learn about our radio show, receive promotional discounts and meet our experts by clicking on the banner to join the Senior Advocate Network at answers for elders RADIOCOM. Now there is one place to find the answers for elders
Listen to More Answers for Elders with Suzanne Newman
Keep an eye out for future Answers for Elders podcasts on the Senior Resource Podcast Network! Thanks for listening, and be sure to keep scrolling for more articles by Suzanne. For more AFE podcasts, visit AnswersforElders.com and subscribe on your favorite platform!
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.
Connect with Suzanne
Visit AFE on the web: https://answersforelders.com/