In this special four-part episode, Chuck Olmstead speaks with Suzanne Newman about the Top Ten Advocacy Principles as well as what Answers for Elders stands for.
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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.
Well, this is a new voice kind of starting the program Today on answers for elders radio. I’m Chuck Olmstead, and Suzanne Newman, you’re sitting across from me on the other side of the desk. I am kind of strange, isn’t it? It is kind of strange. It kind of fun. I kind of like watching you in the control stip seat there, there, you go to cockpit and the cockpit. Well, I tell you what. Last weekend you and I had an opportunity to go to a wonderful assisted living facility and you had the opportunity to share your story and the top ten advocacy. I have a hard time with that word, advocacy principles, and I heard that and you and I were talking and I thought this would be a great opportunity for you to share those top ten principles with our radio audience. Yes, and especially since we’ve been on the air from one year, I think it’s important to that our listeners understand a little bit about what we stand for, what I stand for and really my commitment to family caregivers out there on how to make their lives a lot easier. Well, I know that the the people that attended that event were very engaged that it was not only the seniors that were there, the care the people who are receiving care, but their care giving some of their children and adult children were there and there were lots of questions afterwards that that they ask you because they were totally engaged. They really had lots of good questions and I know our listeners do as well. Right, right, I’m sure they do. Well, let’s get into it. So there are there are ten principles that you talk about and they really come out of your life story. They really do. Took and a little bit about just before we get into the ten foundational principles, is of what I call them and why I call it advocacy. There’s some things I think I want to kind of lay some framework, you see, to our listeners everyone here. I was born right in the middle of the of the baby boomer generation, born in one thousand nine hundred and fifty six, and I grew up in a very traditional household. Mom was a stayathome mom, she was absolutely the homemaker, the hostess with the MOSTESS, etc. And my father was the you know, the workaholic, brought home the Bacon, the only time he really had anything to do with the kids was, you know, if we went somewhere or you know, he wasn’t really involved in the raising of the children. And that’s back in the you know, S and s. It was a very different world and, you know, as a result, as I grew up, I had ambitions to be a career girl. I wasn’t like my mom. I wasn’t like my mom from the time I was born. She and I had kind of a, I guess I would say, challenging relationship, and that’s kind of being nice, because I was probably not the best daughter to her because she obviously wanted me to be more like her. And you know, I laugh and the workshop when I show a photo of a mother and daughter dress. You know, I remember my mother would want me to wear mother daughter dresses and it was so funny when I looked out into the crowd. How many of you, you know, women here, had mother daughter dresses? Almost all of them raise their hands and they laughed because we don’t do that anymore. But it was very much a symbol of, you know, what the world was like, your of grow up to be like mom. MMM, and I wasn’t like mom. You know, my mom was really kind of soft spoken and very, you know, non ambitious. She had no understanding of my world and so obviously, you know, from that foundation she and I had a difficult relationship. Yeah, and that was you know, that happened in the s and then on into the s, where the you know, women were being young, girls were being challenged to go out and experience new things that their mothers had me well, and I would say probably we were the trailblazers of that, because even a lot of I’m coming from a small town like I did, I would say the majority of my classmates are, you know, our domesticated you know stay, stayed in the hometown, got married very young. I was kind of one of the unique ones when in that world and and so obviously there was a lot of you know, we just didn’t relate to each other. So when it came time, obviously, for me to take care of my mom, I was in my early S, we had a cordial relationship, but it was certainly not the you know, it’s not like she really looked forward to growing old with me taking care of her, that’s for sure. So so, you know, you are not only different from your mom, but your mom was different from you in that she she didn’t understand what your motivations were. Now, and you know, did you really understand her motivations at that time? Not at all. Yeah, not at all. Yeah, I just I kept saying, you know, mom, I mean there was a lot of things that I was interested in, that I would I was passionate about, and she didn’t understand passion. You know, I don’t think she really did. You know, when I think about it, it’s like it’s always you make nice, it’s not about taking on a cause. And See, would always say to me, you know, I wish you’d learn how to blend. There you go. Yeah, well, I’m not a blending personality. You you want to make things happen. You’re the kind of go get them, get, you know, let’s take charge, kind of a prose. Exactly, exactly, all right. I always have been go after the goal and grab it. Yeah, yeah, so, as life progressed on, so then you know what happened with your mom? Well, it was in two thousand and five. I got a call at work and I was conducting a sales meeting. I would had a very, very big job. And then I say big job because I traveled a lot. I oversaw in the northwest sector of the you know us, for a large telecommunications media company or Yellow Page Company, and, as I is, I oversaw that I had about two hundred and fifty sales reps that I was responsible for training, working with their managers that they met their goals, etc. So there was a lot of things that were on my plate and there was a lot of demand that I was on the road a lot. So when I got that fateful call saying your mom has had a bad fall, you need to come, I was in so much denial because I really wasn’t dialed into her decline and she had fallen and broken not her hip but her pelvis, which was even worse. One thing about an arty if you break a hip, they can put an artificial hip in, a new hip in for it’s you can’t do a new PILF this. So unfortunately she was in a lot of excruciating pain and has been through a lot. So it. She went through a lot, about three months of recovery and the doctor basically said from my hometown and Antichordis, I’m sending telling her norma, who was her name, I’m ending you to be with your daughter down and in Seattle, and of course she wasn’t very happy about that. Yeah, yeah, so here you’ve got a very responsible position your sales force and now you’ve got to try to integrate your mom’s accident and her recovery into what you’re currently doing. Well, and think about this. Okay, I don’t think very many of us that end up taking care of a seen your loved one. We don’t. Yes, we know that it’s probably on the horizon some day, but we don’t aspire to be what’s called a caregiver. It’s not something that people say, well, when I grow up, I want to be a caregiver. You know, it’s not something like that. But there’s also this overwhelming responsibility, but there’s also this incredible amount of fear because you don’t necessarily know what the right answers are. You’re not you know, you’re not adequately prepared, and that’s something that obviously makes a huge difference. Yeah, yeah, so what happened? Well, she moved down to the wind, you know, Lynwood area, and she was in a rehab and all of a sudden my life was totally turned upside down and you can probably imagine. I was trying to deal with a very responsible you know, be responsible. Yet her needs kept creeping in and I needed to be there for her, and really my life took a really bad add tailspin and as a result, I lost my job over it, and this is over time. Lost my job about, I guess, four years into taking care of her. I took care of for the last six years of her life and as a result, my house was foreclosed on and etc, etc, etc. So it was a really hard time. Yeah, wells point one. In your ten advocacy principles, you say number one is dealing with difficult conversations up front, right. What we’re some of those difficult conversation? Well, you know, I learned that really quick because with my work, with working with families, one of the things that I know is is that we don’t like to talk about difficult things with our parents, because they don’t like to talk about difficult things, especially if they’ve come from the greatest generation. They don’t. They are the kind of people that hold their heads high, they don’t bring in uncomfortable conversation. That is their mindset and as a result they’re very protective, I guess, is the word, about things. They don’t want to inconvenience people. So there is that sense where parents don’t like to have that conversation. And then even adult children are afraid, aren’t they? There are still afraid. There’s that parental thing where you don’t want to you know, and infringe on their privacy. And yet there’s some things that you really need to have conversations about up front because and and especially for your parents and in respect to them, you need to have these conversations because if they’re in a position where they can’t make choices for themselves, guess what, they’re not going to have a choice. So some of the things that they need to take care of is, number one, all their legal documents, their power of attorneys should anything happen to them, their financial power of attorney and whoever that person is. They need to know where the safety but deposit boxes, where the different aspects are. You know of their you know what they’re doing. So those are the things that, you know, we talked about a lot. And then really, what’s their long term desire as their needs change? Do they want to stay at home, if they for as long as possible, or would they like to go into an assisted living when that night you need arises. Well, there’s a lot more to cover here, Susanne. We’re going to take a break in just a second. But but the thing that I after hearing your presentation now a couple of times, I have to believe that a majority of the issues that that occur have to do with relationship, doesn’t it? I mean it’s relationship and the relationship that the child has with the parent and the parent have with the child and the child has their siblings. All of those things come into play during this season of life. Didn’t you notice that in the presentation? Absolutely absolutely. Well, listen, we’re going to take a break right now and we’ll be back right after this perfect
Suzanne Newman, host of the Answers for Elders radio show and podcast, 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 embarked 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. Answers for Elders provides education, help, and support to families, caregivers, and seniors across the country who are experiencing their own unique journey within the complicated world of Eldercare. Each week, 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.