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.
It’s answers for elders radio. I’m Chuck Holmstead with Salem Media Group and Suzanne Newman is the host of answers for elders, but I get to be on the other side of the mic today and yes, you and I get to ask you some questions, because you’ve got some great principles as far as helping your senior loved one navigate and being a great advocate for your parents. And we’ve talked about several things and we’re on principle number eight, as we look for the diamonds. What do you mean by that? Look for the diamonds? Well, when I was growing up, Chuck, I had this wonderful aunt, Marty, and she was awesome. She was like my favorite aunt in the world. But she used to when I would go through hard times as a child, and you know, this teacher wasn’t fair, they weren’t nice to me. I don’t like this, I don’t like that her always her response was, honey, look for the diamonds and hear. What it really meant to me is that experiences in life, even adverse experiences, Polish our character. And she would talk about the fact that in every situation in life. There’s an opportunity to have your diamond Polish, to become that gem of an individual, and of course my burst down as a diamond. So obviously that was like it resonate it with me, but it was also things like she taught me. I know how many times that I pull up in a grocery store and if I’ll see a loan cart sitting out there, you know, I always take it and put it where it’s supposed to be, because those are diamonds, right. Should always say that to me. So those are that’s what I always talk about. So I talked about look for the diamonds, because caregiving and advocating for seeing loved one is hard, it’s difficult, it’s lonely, it’s stressful, all of these things, and so one of the things that I really encourage you, those of you that are taken care of a loved one, is take ten minutes a day at the end of the day and just ask yourself some questions to find the diamonds. And some of the questions that I have was what was the most valuable thing that happened to me today? What did I learn? What am I most grateful for? How can I use these experiences in my own life. And what have I you know, how can I change to not? You know, what have I learned so I don’t do these things in the future? And I will tell you one of the things that’s really precious and caregiving, because after your loved one is gone, is what were the shining moments? You know, maybe it was a little glimmer and your mother father’s eye that you got because because they were grateful for your care, maybe it was just something that there was a little memory that they shared about your life or things like that, because when they’re gone, they’re gone. You’re not going to have those anymore. Well, let’s get personal for a second here. How did you change after key? You cared for your mom. You know this story. We need a we need another one our program for that, right. Yeah. Well, you know, I got dropped to my knees, as you know, like I mean losing my job. I had, I had held such an identity around career success, many of us do, and that was kind of gone for me and I learned to find a core part of myself that was just pretty much dormant, and that was really to open up my heart and I and I didn’t realize that. I didn’t, you know, I it wasn’t there, but I was so just wrapped up in my own world that I wasn’t really thinking. And so as I as I move forward in my life, and you know, it really profoundly changed me as an individual. Yeah, well, it does that, doesn’t it, because it kind of helps you recognize what is real and what our priorities and what, you know, what what is temporal and what is eternal exactly? Yeah, that’s totally it. Yeah, so you say that part of the principles of being an advocate is experience. Duran’s joy. Yes, so what does that mean? Because caregivers tend to put themselves last. HMM. Then I say caregivers because that’s what they are. They’re not advocates. They put themselves last. They’re they’re known for being the kind of the person that everybody in the family dumps on to say also, and so we’ll take you know, Mary will take care of it, I don’t have to. And so oftentimes those that are taking care of a senior loved one, they don’t take time for themselves and they forget about joy in life, and joy is just as important as responsibility. In a matter of fact, it’s more important. If you can’t find joy in life, what’s it worth living? So, you know, I always say your friends are a big part of that. I am very blessed to have a circle of amazing friends and that just totally are loving, caring, you know, great people. But one of the things that they did for me is they were somebody that I could I could vt to. They were the people that would say things, you know, to help me get some levity in life. And I talked tell some stories in the book. But you know, I always say there’s you know, if you have that that friend that’s that says, Gee, you know, gene, I’m really sorry you’re going through all this. Is there anything I can do? And you kind of stopped because it’s your parent right. Well, I have an assignment for that friend and that is ask your friend for one thing, and it’s that please be responsible for reminding me to experience joy and be a part of that for me. And that might mean a weekly luncheon, it might mean a couple of phone calls during the week, it might mean just a girl’s night out, something like that, anything like that. Make sure that you take that time and know that that’s a very, very important part. Take time for you. Yeah, and I can be a spouse. Can Be. Yeah, absolutely, can be. Can Be another sibling. That sort of spouse is. Unfortunately, though, I’m when I say that are more about responsibility. So you end up, you know, yes, it’s a date night. Is Great, but overall there’s some things. There’s something, I think, especially for women, that a girlfriend, girl really a good thing. Well, a girl’s night out. It’s important. And yes, it is. For those of us that have been married for a while, you know that. Yes, just to be able to have that girl time with each other is is critical. And then, Suzanne, I think this is really critical and because you need to forgive the past. Oh Man, it’s a big one. You know. Let me interject here for a second because you know, my parents lived back in Illinois and I moved out here in one thousand nine hundred and ninety, my wife and family and I and and so, as my parents staged, you know, I was back once or twice a year for and would call every Sunday. That was my normal routine for them, that I every Sunday was a phone call to mom and Dad. And as my parents declined in health. There were times when they would go through some severe illnesses where I’d get the phone call, Hey, you know, mom and you know Dad’s not doing too well, and I would have people say to me, do you do you feel like you need to go back? You know, and this was true for both of my parents, Suzanne is, I would say, I don’t have to go back right now. There’s nothing between us that hasn’t already been said. Yeah, you know that. They know I love them. I don’t have to rush back to get some final words to them, even though you know I wanted. I would have done it, obviously, but there was there was nothing there that we had to settle. And that’s a that’s a critical thing, isn’t it? Well, it is, and but when you’re a care of her, it’s the day today, right, and I will tell you too that our parents really know how to push buttons. Okay, so when you’re taking care of a senior loved one, and and those of us that take care, I’m sure that if you’re listening right now, you’re nodding your head up and down right, because here’s the thing. You were you know, they raised you. They know what’s your buttons are and and that somehow, even if they developed Alzheimer’s and dementia, they still know how to push your buttons, probably even worse. So it’s like understanding. Number One, they’re definitely innocent in this process. They don’t I mean they’re not going to change. And it’s really it’s not so much what they do, it’s in matter of who you are. And part of that is is that I had to let go and I had to forgive her. And you know, I had anks from my mom from growing up right she didn’t ever acknowledge who I was. She did I didn’t ever get any Kudos from her for my accomplishments in my career. I mean she it wasn’t her thing, you know. So so I just had all this built in resentment that I didn’t even really realize at the time until it got, you know, till I was face to face with her, you know, on a daily basis as an adult, going like Geez, mom, I have to go to work, you know, I have to do these things, and she’s hanging on to me like well, you, I need you, or I’m demanding you to do this or you do that, and and so you get these resentments come building up and I so I think one of the things that it’s really down to and really to kind of summarize all of these principles. Every single one of these principles has nothing to do with your senior loved one. It has to do with you working on yourself. Right, it has to do with who you are in this process, and I really believe that the more and more that you can let go of the inks and realize that there is innocent as you are in this process. You know, we’ve all had hard moments in life, but I think one of the things that we can do is really come to a point where if we learn to let it go, choosing to be a victim of that family will only make it harder. If you free yourself from it, then you know, you can take those moments that they hit your button and say, you know, mom I need to go take a walk around the block, I’ll be back and then work on you. Yeah, yeah, yeah, during that walk, or call your girlfriend and vent. Yeah, right. Well, Susanne, we’ve got about a minute and a half left and I just want to who kind of help summarize and let folks be aware that a podcast is available. If you’ve listened to this broadcast and you want to share it with a friend, you can always go to answers for elders radio and download the podcast and they can stream it from there. Or that you can download it and send it to somebody if you if you want to. You also have other resources on answers for old for too. Well. Tell us about your book again as we’re wrapping up. It’s called the advocates heart, finding your real strength while caring for aging loved ones, and you can just put in the search field on Amazon either the title the advocate’s heart, or you can put my name, Susan Newman, in both places and come up. And if you’re in the puget sound area and you’re an assisted living facility or some other senior care or at Church and you want to get a seminar or here Suzanne share these principles with your group, I’ll feel free to give us a call. You can email Suzanne at Suzanne at answers for elderscom or you can call me, chuck here at the station. I’ll be glad to share with you or talk to you about it. There’s no cost or obligation. You’re not spending a lot of money on speaking fees or anything like that. We just be glad to do that and share your story and your principles for being a good advocate, and I want to thank you for a wonderful year on the air. Thank you, Suzann.
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.