Shawn D’Amelio discusses the four stages of the caregiver’s journey.
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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 to answers for elder’s radio and we are here on behalf of care partners. This is a very special program that we are going to talk about all four stages of the caring journey for caregivers. We have talked about caregivers all month long and we are very privileged today to have sewn de Emilio, who is the director of business development for with a little help, and now the president of the Washington Home Care Association. Sean, I’m so glad you’re back on the show today. Thank you, thank you for having me. You are such a valued partner of care partners and Anna us. Frankly, we loved have you here and you’re such an expert on working with families and Shawn, your meeting with families all over, you know, the Greater Seattle area, I would assume, all the time. And you know what I have found, and I guess this is something that I think a lot of families are wondering. When is it time to start intervening with your your senior loved one? And you know, sometimes we don’t want to be interfering in their lives. We want to be respectful, but there’s that fine line of, you know, when do we say something, when do we do so? Thank you for being here and what are your thoughts on that? Yeah, it’s a challenging one because we all want to be independent, right, we do, but then we start seeing the signs. You know the signs. The Turkeys a little moldy in the fridge, but you know, foods not fresh, the the dishes are piling up. Maybe maybe they are. Appearance is starting to decline. So somebody who was meticulous about their makeup and their hair no longer is. Maybe they have stains all over their clothes and they never would have walked out of the House with stains all over their clothes in the past. Hm. I also would say that spending a lot of time alone. They start spending a lot of time alone, right because there they may be having physical challenges to get out of the house, right. They don’t want people to see them using their walker or their canes exactly. They start spending more time alone, more isolation. The other piece of it is, you know, they’re just there overall physical health. Are they losing weight? Are they starting to fall more? Right, are you seeing more bruises? Are They not eating right? And you know, one of the things that I think you’re talking about is those are real signs. And yet, on the other hand, I really believe there’s some conversations that need to happen even before those signs happen, so that we, when we come into this relationship with you, know whether it’s mother and daughter or father and daughter or father and son or mother and sign whatever that is. Maybe it’s grandmother and granddaughter. You never know what that dynamic is. It’s like if everybody’s on the same page of what’s about to happen, it makes it a lot easier and and I think one of the things that we tend to do is we ignore the elephant in the room. We don’t talk about those things because they’re unpleasant to talk about. Right. And yet for me it’s the most respectful thing that families can do is have these kind of conversations before right the care is needed. And I’ve talked about this how many millions of time at times on the show, is that, you know, we can do that is a family respectively and and that’s some of the things I think that you. You’re definite advocate for I am, and one of the things that we often forget to ask is what is your goal exactly? That will start a conversation. That’s a positive conversation. What is your goal? What do you want to see happen here? Right, right, so that what we don’t want is I don’t want us to go down a path where you end up in the hospital and we’re making decisions for you. HMM. So let’s start with what is your goal? What do you see your future looking like? Do you want to move to a community? Do you want to stay at home? Asking a few simple questions can start you down a path. Well, and it’s very true, you know, to have those conversations after you know, if mom or dad are thinking about downsizing, that’s a huge step, right, okay, if you’re going to downsize from the family home, the big family home that mom or dad can’t take care of anymore, they’re going to maybe move to a condo or an independent living type situation. You know, those are things conversations to have today. Right, if you’re if you want to age in place, you don’t want to have a three story townhouse exactly, and those are things that I think one of the things that we tend to as as adult children, you know, we tend to not want to interfere at that time, but I think those are important questions that we need to start having up front. I agree. There’s a wonderful tool. I call it a tool, but it’s called final road map. It’s a it’s a wonderful program that you can go to and it’s a place, a that will store all your documents so that a your kids or your family members or your power of attorney has access to him when they actually need them, so they’re not in a file somewhere. But more than that, there are a list of questions on that that gets you thinking and gets the conversation started, which is a really good sometimes we don’t for a lot of us, many of us don’t all have the the quote, the right questions to don’t even and are you don’t yeah, I was going to say we don’t even know what we need to know right and and those are that is so important. So, Sean, thank you for that. That that is really true. And I think the other thing is is really to understand a little bit more about you know, I don’t, I think, really any conversation that’s important to have, it’s most respectful if you don’t spring it on your parent or your loved one. s absolutely you know, mom, Dad, I want to do what’s right by you and I know that there may be a some some day that I need, may need to intervene, and I would like us to sit down, maybe schedule a time. Let’s let’s talk about these what if scenarios so that I honor your wishes right. I think that’s wonderful and I’ll tell you. You know, with my own folks I’ve had some challenges with this exact conversation and I was headed down to Oregon to go to a doctor’s appointment with my father and he said we don’t need you to come, we don’t need you here for this. And I said, Dad, I took the day off work. Mom knows I’m coming. We were having the whole conversation. He said we don’t need you. He got very defensive and very upset and and I here was something that I learned from an elder law attorney and it and it was the perfect moment to say it to my dad and I said, Dad, here’s the thing. If I’m not the right person to sit in an appointment with you when you can speak for yourself. I’m probably not the right person to do it when you can’t speak for yourself. And it was really a moment that shifted our relationship because all the sudden he started thinking, well, who’s that going to be? And I think you did come back to the conclusion he did want me there or he did make that decision, but I think it stopped him in his boots for a second swat. I can speak for myself well, and you know, first of all, I want to reintroduce you. We are talking to Sean Demilie O, and Sean is the director of Business Development for, with a little help, home care and also the president of the Washington Home Care Association, which makes you a very busy lady, and obviously working with families about when they’re still independent right now. And and so what are some of the I guess you we’ve talked about warning signs and we’ve talked about different things like that, which is important, but when it’s time to intervene and become a quote unquote, family caregiver, I want to shift it over to the caregiver’s role the adult children. For me, when I took care of my mom, I gave up my life, I let my life, I had no boundaries. I kind of just went into this, you know, into the rabbit hole trying to take care of her and I felt like I was, you know, on a treadmill. You know, I didn’t have any control over my life anymore. And and you know, one of the things that I talked about with family caregivers is understanding what those boundaries are up front and and it’s okay, you know, through the process to honor those boundaries. And so what are some year vices? You know, your advice to families that are starting this journey? Yeah, it’s not only okay, it’s a must. Yeah, you want it to be sustainable, right, because you caregivers are all heart. They will give and give and given gifts. Totally right. But what happens is the caregivers a person who ends up in the hospital first. So if you are caring for a spouse or a loved one and they end up, you end up in the hospital, which is one of the things that happened in my parents relationship. I was fortunate to have two sets of parents, but the other set, the the primary caregiver ended up in the hospital. Therefore, the person who had to mention needed care was left alone. So all of a sudden, exactly what I’m talking about is we were making decisions for them. They were making their own decisions. Right. So it’s important for the caregiver to take care of themselves. I say, find some time to rest it. You know how. What does that look like? HMM. Oftentimes this is when I say bring in some care. Bring in some care into the home at this time exactly, even if it’s four hours one time a week. It gives you time to go have your hair done and get lunch. HMM, see a friend, go to yoga, do something that’s for yourself. And if you do not draw those boundaries, in the end you won’t be as good a caregiver as you could be. If you could. And and I think one of the things that you say, and I always talk about, your friends can be your greatest asset. It a lot of times, you know will say a friend will say, is there anything I can do? Well, running in to say now I got to take care of mom or dad or whatever that is. You know what? I want you to bring laughter into my life, because I think that’s one of the things that goes away when you’re so, you know, trying to deal with all this serious stuff. And I remember when I was taking care of my mom and when she would push my buttons and I would pick up the phone and call a friend and sometimes, I we would roar and laughter because of some of the dynamics that went on, but it was the perfect outlet for me to take a walk around the block, get my head on straight, have a good laugh at what just went down and then go back and deal with my mom again, right, and those are the things I think, those are the memories that I think of that thank goodness for my friends. Right, you know what I say? Yeah, family knows how to push your buttons because they’ve installed them all. Very true, very really. and and where we are susceptible to that, we often will we going into the situation, we already have an old record playing in our head about what’s going to happen, what’s going to be said and how I’m going to react to it. And often times if we can just let go, yeah, and be present, that’s the other pieces. Be Present where that person is right in their journey. You know, I’m so glad you’ve said that and Sean, thank you so much for being on the show today and also you guys check out if you had need help with your loved one, give with the little help a call. There an amazing agency and we’re so glad to have you on the show today. How do we reach you? You can reach us at our phone, which is to zero six, three, five, two, seven, three nine nine, or you can go to our website, which is www. With a little helpcom. I want to thank you again, Sean, and thank you care partners yes, or thank Yous rselves today. The preceding podcast was provided by care partners living and answers for elders radio. To contact care partners living, go to care partners livingcom
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.