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 answered for elders. I’m chuck holmsted. Suzanne Newman, who is the host of answers for elders, is on the other side of the MIC. I am here, you’re here and you’ve got your dog with be with you. So IRNA, huffing and path and puffing in the best she’s my constant companion and normally she’s not in the studio with me, but she is to yes today and she’s doing okay. It’s kind of tough on her a little bit, but that’s our what’s all new. It is all new and anybody that knows I read my bio, knows that she’s kind of a center of my world. So well, that’s right. In the first segment we spoke about dealing with difficult conversations and those going to be tough because it has to do a lot with how our relationships been with our parents in the past and right what we’re thinking about for the future and all of the issues that happen as they’re navigating into this new season of their life. Absolutely and and understanding that you are honoring your parent by having those conversations. It is not an in position for you to say mom or Dad. You know, we need to have a serious conversation and I need to know what your wishes are so I can best honor you moving forward. It’s not about you taking charge of their life. It’s about understanding what they want because, again, as their advocate, you know, you have to understand it’s their life, but yours. And you mentioned the idea of an advocate. Is that’s a term that you specifically you I use that? I use that. Yeah, and why I? That’s a very good question and it’s perfect for moving into our second segment or second point. A lot of people called the term caregivers. Okay, to me, a caregiver is all about giving out and not taking care of yourself. It’s all about having to the all this responsibility, you know, giving out and caring right, but it’s doesn’t denote you know how you do so mindfully and from an, you know, informed point of view. And advocate is very different. An advocate has to do with number when advocating for that individual, but it also comes from a separate thing of you know, I’m advocating for something because I stand for it, but it isn’t a giving up of yourself, and that’s my number two principle, which is avoiding caregiver burnout. It caregiving. When I use the term caregiving, it’s also advocacy. It is part of your life, but it shouldn’t be your whole life. For me, I gave up my life and I went down the rabbit hole because I didn’t know how to find that balance and that was something that was really important for me. And once you want, if you’re involved with the care of a senior loved one, national statistics say that the average individual spends twenty hours a week in the care of a loved one and close to about twenty five percent of the of the people that care for loved ones spend over fifty hours a week. So those are overwhelming statistics and it’s something that if you’re putting that kind of time in, it’s like, how do you take care of you in the process, because you can’t give to other people from an empty vessel. Well, and you didn’t necessarily address this in the seminar, but because you know you were single at the time, I didn’t really necessarily affect you know a spouse. Well, children that that may be there, but that could be a very big thing too, is if you’re taking care of mom and all of a sudden the kids are feeling left out or husband’s husband’s being left I talked to families all of the time. It’s trying to find that balance. We’ve had a survey on answers for elders radio going on right now. The number one thing that people click is trying to figure out how to find time, to balance your time to do it all. You’re not Super Woman Superman, you’re just not. Nobody is, and it’s all about taking care of yourself up front. So avoid caregiver burnout a avoid make sure you have that balance. Number three is tracking your finances separately. Talk to me about that. That’s a huge one. We talked about relationships. This is money is one of the most core issues and families. Everybody thinks of it differently. Everybody spends it differently, everybody looks at it differently. They’re in a different financial situation and so if you are taking care of a senior loved one, you were obviously there’s two reasons why you need to do it. Number one is for full disclosure of financials without giving up your own personal disclosure of financials. If you have a separate caregiving account, that you work from. Guess what you can give your siblings, people that you trust, the password to the bank account. They can look exactly what you’re spending. The average caregiver spends fifty five hundred dollars a year and when you’re looking at that, I don’t believe, number one, that you should have to bear that on your own. If you have siblings out there, they need to look at where the money’s going and they need to help out if they’re in a position to do so. And that’s a way that you can kind of come together as a team, as a family. And but the other reason, basically, that the hard part is is, guess what? Costs are incredibly high when it comes to senior care and every there’s no cookie cutter solutions financially for a senior, whether they get veterans benefits, whether they are, you know, independently privately wealthy. One of the things that’s that’s interesting is there was a study not too long ago by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. They say forty three percent of long term care is paid by Medicaid. HMM, forty three percent. Now we know that forty three percent of our population is not in poverty. It’s because seniors it’s very common that they outlive their money. And if you have to come to a situation where you have to qualify for Medicaid your parents so that they can be paid for over you know, over time. Guess what, if you’re going to go through that, then what you need to understand is, and this is the key is, is that you need to make sure that you protect yourself or you’re going to be in a situation where your financials are going to be looked at. And to make it simple, a simpler process, it’s really a lot easier to have a separate account to do all that. It is. It certainly is. And I know in my situation with my mom and dad, you know, they were smart enough. My father had enough insight to create a trust from, you know, from from the time I was a little boy and my father’s father passed away when he was eight years old. So he saw what that did to his family right. So on the front of his mind, not the back of his mind, but at the front of his mind always, was, when I pass away, I want your mother taken care of right. She would say that to me as a little boy, and so as time progressed on, the idea of a trust came into end, so that that my mom and dad set up a trust, a family trust, and and after my dad passed, you know, there was that trust that was benefiting she was the beneficiary of all of that, right, and then the family knew exactly exactly where my dad stood, mom’s finances were and they she was taking care of for the rest of her life. And guess what? That goes back to the first point, right, if you handle all these conversations up front, that’s great. And yet sadly it’s like I heard not too long ago, and I’m trying to remember the source, but it’s eighty percent of families when there’s a crisis, they don’t have these things taken care of right. And so this is something that is so important to families today, is that they take the time to handle these things. And the financial piece is huge. And and here’s the the reality of it. It’s like, you know, there’s a lot of things that can happen. Even in a scenario, if if my parents were fairly well off, you know, I lived in and I’m upper middle class family on the water. You know, we had a tide lands out into the ocean. I mean four hundred and fifty front foot of water property. You know how that was pretty nice place to live, right, but my mom ran out of money. She had to qualify for Medicaid because, again, when you’re paying tenzero a month in assisted living like she was, it goes it goes off look quickly. Well, which leads to our next point, and it really is what we’re talking about now, and that is be proactive. Yes, I think there’s not a greater benefit that a parent can give to their child then to be proactive and looking at look ahead so that the child isn’t forced to make decisions for their parents. I’M A I cannot agree with you more. These are the things. Before your parent needs these things, I recommend families still set up a relationship because when that day comes, that’s not the day you want to spend interviewing people. Right. So number one, find a good, solid home care agency, somebody that provides in home care. It may not be that your parent needs it, yet it doesn’t matter. You want to make sure that that they understand the value system of your family. They understand, you know what your mother’s or father’s likes are. Dislikes are and those are the things, I think that are so incredibly important. So even before even mom or dad or are sick, if they’re in their mid S, yeah, there’s not a problem with these. Know, these care facilities aren’t going to or home care nugencies are not going to be offended if you say, Hey, I want to check out what exactly are exactly? How do you charge? What are the different types of options? And in order to make sure that they you know that you take care of these things. This is an important thing that you if you already have there, already had their payment information on file. Maybe mom were dead, gets sick with the flu and you’re working. Okay, all you have to do is pick up the phone. They already have an established account, they already have the information that they need to take care of your left point well, and also it kind of mitigates the sticker shock. I mean it’s it’s still going to cost you to the same but but sometimes when these families are starting to look at the healthcare expenses and those kinds of things, are like, oh my, you know, we didn’t plan on this. No, we didn’t even think about this. We did not realize this cost this much correct and so being proactive is really critical, isn’t it right? Very much, so, very much so. Well, we’ve got more to talk about, for sure. This is very interesting, Suzanne I. I know people are going to want to hear a recording of this. So we’re going to post this recording on answers for elders greet. Well, we will, and so this full program this full podcast, will be available for you to be able to download and review again or maybe maybe even share with the loved one. And you can also get these tips out of my book, the advocates heart, that is available on Amazoncom. Well, excellent. Will listen. If you want to get more information about what we’re talking about and recording of this program you can always go to answers for elders, RADIOCOM and you can find all of the podcasts from all of our guests that are here on the program as well as this program so we’re going to go into our other points on the other side of this break.
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.