Caregiver Spotlight: From Caregiver to Care Recipient – Melody Vachal

This Week on Sage Aging

<img src="melodyvachal.png" alt="Sage Aging caregiver spotlight episode">This week I have a caregiver spotlight for you. I absolutely love shining a light on caregivers and their amazing stories and am always so inspired by how they just step up to the plate for those they care for. This spotlight is a bit different than normal though because my guest has experienced caregiving from both sides of the coin. It’s also different because my guest is a caregiver of a special needs adult child and not an aging adult, but I know you’ll agree that her message will resonate with anyone…caregiver or not! Listen to the full conversation in Episode 43 or you can find the transcript at the bottom of this page.

My Guest

Melody Vachal is a devoted mom to a son with special needs and she was his primary caregiver for more than 20 years. Her professional background as a speech pathologist and current work in the home care industry give Melody, a really broad experience and perspective as it relates to caregivers. But perhaps the most impactful insight Melody has developed into caregiving comes from her time spent as a care recipient after a traumatic car accident. Her accident left her temporarily paralyzed and it was in observing her own caregiver that she realized the profound importance of self-care. I’m happy to say that Melody made a full recovery and has turned that experience into a personal mission to provide tips and inspiration to other caregivers, through her new business Rise Up Care and Wellness.

My Biggest Takeaways
  • Our mindset and words matter – faced with a dismal picture for her son’s life prospects, Melody and her husband chose to create their own narrative and pour into their son Isaac. This paid off in big ways for the Vachal family and Isaac just celebrated his 25th birthday!
  • Aha! – Even after being a caregiver for more than two decades, Melody didn’t truly “see” and understand what it meant to be a caregiver until she was the one receiving care. Her aha moment helped her to uncover for herself, how her inability to let go of control while providing care for her son and allow others to help her, resulted in a situation that robbed her of her sense of self and others of the satisfaction of “being there” for Isaac and the rest of the family.
  • Fear of Self-Care – You all know how I feel about self-care, but this conversation gave me an additional perspective. For some of us, the lack of self-care results from a nurturing nature, or an ingrained sense of duty to serve others. Melody’s lack of self-care was born of fear. As I listened, I realized that fear also played a part in my life, at times, as well. No one can “do it” like me. Letting go of control can be a very scary thing, so we just dig in and keep going on our own. That’s some serious food for thought!
Links & Resources
Thanks for listening!

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Transcript
Transcript

 

Caregiver Spotlight Melody Vachal

Recorded 2/5/21

SPEAKERS

Liz Craven, Melody Vachal

 

Liz Craven  00:00

The sage aging podcast is brought to you by Polk elder care guide your guide to all things senior care and resources. Find the 2021 guide in English and Spanish at Polkeldercare.com.

 

Liz Craven  00:27

Welcome to the sage aging podcast. I’m your host Liz Craven Sage aging will connect you to information and resources that will empower you to master the aging and caregiving journey. Weekly, I’ll bring you education, inspiration, amazing industry guests and caregiver spotlights to shed some light on topics of aging. There’ll even be some freebies and giveaways too. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as we chat. Are you ready? Hit subscribe now and let’s get started.

 

Hi, everyone, and welcome to Episode 43 of the sage aging podcast. Today I have a caregiver spotlight for you. And by the way, your response to the last caregiver spotlight was so good. Thank you. I’m so happy that you enjoyed that. This is obviously something that you all want more of and I am happy to oblige. I love shining a light on caregivers and their stories. Today’s spotlight is a bit unique though, because my guest has experienced caregiving from both sides. Melody Vachal. She’s a devoted mom to a son with special needs and she was a primary caregiver for more than 20 years. Her professional background as a speech pathologist, and current work in the home care industry give Melody, a really broad experience and perspective as it relates to caregiver. But perhaps the most impactful insight Melody has developed into caregiving comes from her time spent as a care recipient after a traumatic car accident. Her accident left her temporarily paralyzed. And it was in observing her own caregiver that she realized the profound importance of self care. I’m happy to say that melody made a full recovery and has turned that experience into a personal mission to provide tips and inspiration to other caregivers, through her new business rise up care and wellness. Whew, that was a lot to unpack right. I know I got a little tongue tied during all of that, but we’re gonna learn more about that. But to learn more about melody and check out all that she’s doing. Look at the blog posts for Episode 43 at Sage aging calm. And you can also check the show notes in your favorite podcast app and find all the information there. Welcome to the show. Melody. Thanks so much for joining me.

 

 

Melody Vachal  03:02

I am so pleased to be here. Liz, thank you so much for inviting me.

 

Liz Craven  03:07

Well, you know, my audience is so used to hearing me talk about self care probably ad nauseum. But I’m really happy to have you here to give us another perspective on that. It is something that is so important and my mission in life is to make sure that people get it and that they hear it often enough that they start to let that sink in and to allow themselves to go there. guilt free.

 

Melody Vachal  03:37

Absolutely. That is the key right there that guilt free is is the is the crux of the whole matter, isn’t it?

 

Liz Craven  03:45

It absolutely is. So I want to start with I usually share a quote in the beginning to kind of get our conversation headed in the right direction. And today it’s really just a saying there’s no one to credit for this quote but it’s something that you’ve probably heard and I’m sure others have as well. And the saying goes and empty lantern provides no light self care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly. Love it. Love it. Isn’t that perfect? It’s it feeds right into this conversation.

 

Melody Vachal  04:21

It absolutely does. It actually reminds me the other day I posted on one of my social media accounts. Spread the light be the lighthouse. Oh, I

 

Liz Craven  04:31

like that one too.

 

Melody Vachal  04:33

And I happen to have a photograph of me taking next to a lighthouse when I was visiting my sister and in Maine and so it seemed to be a good a good segue there.

 

Liz Craven  04:42

Nice. Well, let’s jump in. Let’s start melody with your story. Tell us about your son and your story as a caregiver.

 

Melody Vachal  04:54

Okay. Well as Liz said I have been a primary caregiver for over 20 years. Actually, my son Isaac is now 25 as of the 15th of January. So that was an amazing, wonderful day, especially happy birthday, I said, so much, yes, he was very happy himself. It was it was a big, big day for him. But the amazing thing is, when the start of his journey, we didn’t know if he would make it to, you know, a few months of age. So to celebrate 25 years is really an amazing journey and amazing accomplishment, and just fills me with so much joy and gratitude. So I’ll give you a little background on Isaac. Isaac was born in January of 1996. And so I had a daughter already, who is three and a half, four and a half, actually. And we had come out of pretty tough year, the year before. Because I had a daughter who passed away, she had what’s called trisomy 13. And that is, for those of you who don’t know, it’s three of the 13th chromosome, just like Down syndrome is three of the 21st chromosome. trisomy 13 is three of the 13th chromosome. And we had her with us for 18 hours. So that was already, you know, that was the year before that was the January before Isaac was born. So when Isaac arrived, healthy, whole, happy bouncing baby boy, we were so relieved and so grateful. And everything was going along fine. until March of that year, I had just returned to work. And Isaac was in daycare. And I called One day, I was about two weeks back at work and still, you know, breastfeeding and that kind of thing. And so called just to check in, see what his schedule was going like. And so I could kind of coordinate all the mom things I needed to do on my end. And she said, you know, he’s kind of lethargic, and he hasn’t really eaten much today. So I said, you know, I’m a block away. I was driving between work sites, I’m a block away, I’m gonna come over and just check on him. I thought, you know, I could just maybe feed him while he’s there. Maybe it’s that kind of thing. And when I arrived, Isaac was very lethargic, limp. I immediately called the doctor and said, this is what’s happening. And he said, You need to go immediately to the emergency room. So I quit, called my husband and said, something’s wrong with Isaac, I need to take him to the emergency room. And he said, I’m a block away. Which First of all, the fact that on this particular day in March, we each were a block away from where we needed to be. He came, we quickly got Isaac in the vehicle, drove as fast as we possibly could. My husband calling on his cell phone at the time saying we’re driving this vehicle on this road. We’re going to the hospital. Don’t stop us. And so that was the start of Isaac’s journey. We don’t know what happened. We don’t know what the event was that caused him to suddenly crash but his, his blood chemistries, everything went completely off. His blood sugar’s were in the hundreds and hundreds. And he was basically crashing metabolically. So they tried to stabilize him as quickly as they could. I live in Minnesota, and so the nearest big Trauma Center is about an hour away. So they called Minneapolis, they came out in a helicopter. And I had to take my baby, my little tiny baby and release him to them on a gurney. And they took him in the helicopter. And I didn’t know if I would ever see him alive again.

 

Liz Craven  09:06

Oh gosh, Melody. That is something…

 

Melody Vachal  09:12

Yeah, yeah. It was. It was incredibly obviously traumatic, very, very concerning. And we were just thrust into this. Please don’t. Please don’t let us lose another child.

 

Liz Craven  09:27

Right.

 

Melody Vachal  09:29

So we quickly got in our vehicle drove to Minneapolis. As we drove that he would still be alive when we got there. Thankfully, gratefully, he was. He was not in great shape. They didn’t know what was going on. They didn’t know if he had a metabolic disorder. They didn’t know anything about what was happening. But over the course of the next several days, they gradually started realizing Okay, it’s not this. It’s not this. We don’t really know what happened. We spent a lot of time in prayer, just like hoping and praying that he was going to, you know, be okay. And they told us that he would never walk, he would never talk, he would never probably eat on his own, he would need to feeding he would need around the clock nursing, he would need all of these intensive services. He lost his vision. He developed cerebral palsy, he developed seizures. And so they kind of gave us this, you know, gloom, Doom, no hopes scenario, but thankfully, and gratefully, we did not. We did not allow that to stop us from having hope. And we poured in to Isaac. And Isaac is, he’s obviously has special needs. But he’s doing tremendously he moved into a group home three years ago. He does wonderful things he can sing and more than he can speak. He knows most of the lyrics that take me out to the ballgame. Yeah, and he’s just, you know, it’s so but it has been a journey. I mean, it has been a journey. He’s gonna be a miracle, he is a miracle. He absolutely is a miracle. I was laughing when I tell people these stories, because I am a speaker. And I say, you know, apparently, Isaac didn’t get the memo that these were the things he wasn’t supposed to be able to do, because he obviously didn’t follow the path. And I think it just speaks to having hope. It speaks to allowing people to explain things with a scenario of, you know, these are what we believe may happen. But you know, had someone just said, this might have this may be the scenario, you can have hope for, you know, I just even just that sense of like, allowing somebody to just because so many people would have just taken that at face value because of fear of not knowing, you know, not having a background. Thankfully, I had a background in what I did. I knew you know a lot about kids and disabilities. And so, but anyway, so Isaac is doing great. Now.

 

Liz Craven  12:12

Our words have consequences, don’t they?

 

Melody Vachal  12:15

They have a great deal of power.

 

Liz Craven  12:18

They do. And look, you know, on the flip side of that, your words, your actions, the way that you poured into him also had consequences. And luckily for him, he had a mom and dad who knew that that could make a difference, you know, had you not poured into him that way? And had you not been able to grasp onto that yourself? How differently could this have turned out? And, you know, today you shared with me, and this is so exciting. How wonderful that he has a job.

 

Melody Vachal  12:52

He does have a job. Yeah, he goes to he goes to a, like a sheltered workshop. And yeah, he’s doing he’s doing really, really well.

 

Liz Craven  13:03

And that was not what you expected from the first diagnosis.

 

Melody Vachal  13:07

No, no, I mean, it was pretty much like don’t ever have any expectations of anything, which just goes to show you that you can go beyond what people’s expectations are, if you truly believe in your heart. And things may not be in the stereotypical, quote, normal frame of reference. But there’s beauty and growth and potential in everyone. Absolutely.

 

Liz Craven  13:38

So let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about the caregiving part of it. You know, what was that like caring for a special needs child and I would assume, maintaining a career and everything else that comes with it along the way.

 

Melody Vachal  13:53

Yes, absolutely. I was you know, I was the the supermom, I could do it all I could hit Oh bleep small buildings. Or at least I told myself that I kept trying to, you know, be all the things to all the people. I worked a full time job as a speech language pathologist. I have two other children. I also took care of my father during his aging years, so I was the proverbial sandwich. sandwich generation for sure. I’m like the I was the Oreo, but the frosting, the frosting the middle was definitely not the double stuff. It was the like, the kind of the teeth had already been scraped through the Oreo, and

 

Liz Craven  14:36

Spread really thin.

 

Melody Vachal  14:38

Spread very thin. And I operated really out of a sense of fear. And I didn’t realize this until honestly, just within the last several years after, you know, my own accident that I really operated out of a sense of fear, versus a sense of abundance. I even though I believed I could do these things. I was so fearful that if I didn’t do all the things tasks and do all of the therapies and every night, make sure that his stretches were done and document everything, that somehow he was not going to be all he could be. And that was very damaging to me as an individual, it was damaging my marriage, I’m actually in the middle of a divorce. So that, you know, it just has had a lot of impact. And of course, everything is one sided, but I feel like had I been able to release some of that fear. And had I been able to allow people to participate and to help, and to be a part of that journey. And more ways than I did. that some of those some of that fear and some of that trauma, and some of that not feeling like I was doing enough,

 

Liz Craven  15:54

right have been helped. Well, that was an incredible responsibility that you took on yourself, you know, without allowing others to assist you in carrying through on some of the things that needed to be done. And I think a lot of caregivers experienced that, because nobody could do it. Like me. I know how he wants his oatmeal made. I know how she likes to have her hair brushed, and has to be me, and it’s so hard. And I think that comes from a place of love. Because we know that we want to provide the very best for our loved one that we’re caring for. And we lose ourselves in the process.

 

Melody Vachal  16:36

Absolutely, and I know that obviously, the love was in there, too. But also, like I said, I think there was that fear that it’s all up to me when really, it wasn’t all up to me. And, and had I opened my, you know, taken my blinders off a little bit and gotten like, oh, there are people and and many people offered and many people attempted, but I just you know, like I was just like I had to control it. And so I think one of the things, you know, as far as what I tell people now is you know, you got to let go of the that fear you have to open yourself up to a sense of abundance.

 

Liz Craven  17:12

Mm hmm. That’s a difficult thing to do. And I think that’s a great segue into the next part of your story. So we’ll fast forward to your accident. Tell us about that.

 

Melody Vachal  17:26

So it’s been nearly five years now. It’ll be five years in April, I was traveling between work sites. And I was at a stop sign. And the next thing I know, there was a loud crash and the OnStar lady recording in my satellite in my car, said you’ve been in an accident, are you okay? And all I could say was I can’t feel my arms. I can’t feel my arms. I can’t feel my arms. The second she said, Do you need me to call someone at first I said, I need you to call my husband and tell him to come home. Because he was out of town. And then I said, and I need you to make sure that somebody is going to get Isaac. So the immediate thought was went to my son and how is he going to be taken care of. And then of course, paramedics came and all of those kinds of things. And so I spent, I initially had paralysis from my shoulders down. And gratefully thankfully, nothing was actually severed. There was, you know, some abrupt neck trauma. But it was enough that I needed to do intensive rehab, both inpatient and outpatient. I had to learn to walk again, I have a traumatic brain injury that I still have repercussions from. So I needed to learn to read again, I have some sensory issues still related to that. Visual and some auditory sensory issues. I can read now I can’t read as well as I could, but I can read. So yeah, I spent a number of years. First I had a caregiver, and then was able to transition into, you know, not needing a caregiver anymore. But that’s when I realized the importance of a caregiver. And the importance of what I had done for my son was when I actually had a caregiver myself.

 

Liz Craven  19:27

Right. So that was quite a transition for you because you were still his primary caregiver when you had your accident, weren’t you?

 

Melody Vachal  19:35

Correct. Yes.

 

Liz Craven  19:37

So how, what happened? How did you all manage that?

 

Melody Vachal  19:40

Well, gratefully, we have had through the years of course, we’ve had substitute caregivers and secondary caregivers that we’ve you know, we own a home I own the home health care company. And so we have always had assistance with caregivers to support but we had a higher Of course of care. Ever for me, and then family took care of Isaac. And that actually is what kind of sped up the process of him moving into a group home is because the reality was, I mean, he didn’t move in right away, but it just really hit home with like, Oh, we need to make this plan because I don’t know long term if I can, physically, emotionally or otherwise care for him. Right? And watching my caregiver, and realizing how grateful first of all and how humbled I was to have a caregiver, because it’s not easy to allow yourself to be cared for. It’s not easy to, to turn over those really basic human functions, like you know, of someone rolling you over in bed, or, you know, feeding you or any of those kinds of things. But I looked at this caregiver and went, Wow, she’s working really hard to take care of me. And I sure hope that she’s feeding into herself, and I hope that she’s taking breaks. And I would, you know, like, once you they’re like, Do you need a cup of coffee? I mean, I couldn’t get it for a minute. She’s I’m like, you know, you could help yourself to a cup of coffee, and maybe you should sit down. And I found myself, you know, realizing how important her job was. And then it was just like, Oh, my God, I did that. I still do that. I’ve been doing this for, you know, 20 some years. And it was like this giant light bulb went on like, Wow, look at that. That’s amazing, you know, so that’s when the aha moment came of caregivers need care?

 

Liz Craven  21:39

Yes, that was a that’s a big, pretty big Aha moment.

 

Melody Vachal  21:44

Yeah, it was like, apparently, I needed to be clubbed over the head before. You know, I’m like, I don’t know what I was thinking for all those other years. But it certainly wasn’t that I was a priority. So yeah.

 

Liz Craven  22:00

I mean, we’re focused on someone else. And isn’t that the nature of someone who’s a caregiver, it is in our nature to look at somebody else first. And to be that nurturer. And that one who is always looking to make sure everything sits right. So that everybody’s happy we do that, as moms, we do that some of us are just inclined to that I know I am. And it, it has to be taught to some degree, and you have to internalize these things and reform habits, to take yourself out of that place that I’m, it’s okay, for me to look in the mirror and decide what I need first, and to decide that I’m a priority.

 

Melody Vachal  22:44

Absolutely. And, and it does, I mean, it’s, it is a total cognitive reframe, because that’s, you know, and especially those of us who inherently are caregivers, or we, through our family of origin, you know, there was a reason why we have this personality to begin with. And then it was solidified. And through the years, I think that was me. I was like, the I was the peacekeeper, I was the, you know, I was the person that was there to make sure everybody was happy. In my own mind, like, that was my role. And so I carried that within me with me into caregiving was making sure everybody’s boats were floating. Well, I was, you know, dwindling. I’m actually doing a live later today about everyone needs a lifeline. Yeah. And you need to be ready to ask for that help. before you’re, you know, only thing coming out of the water, your tips of your fingers. Right. And we need to speak out against you know, I think I speak for or to support caregivers, and, and support self care and all those things. But I think we need to speak out against fear, and against the fact that we don’t value ourselves and against that we’re not worthy because you are valuable, you are enough, you are worthy of care. Absolutely.

 

Liz Craven  24:06

I’m really curious to know, when you had this aha moment, obviously, there were interactions happening with you and your caregiver. How did she respond to your revelation?

 

Melody Vachal  24:19

You know, the funny thing is, I don’t think I ever really, like, formed it together enough before she was before she was out of the picture. You know, I mean, I like I had those moments, but then it was kind of like, oh, at that point in time, I was sort of like, Okay, this I’m a few months out. You know, she’s, she’s kind of out of the picture. But it was like it gel it gel to the point that I actually would love to call her again and say, Hey, do you want to know what happened because of what I saw while you were caring for me. I think that would be kind of an interesting, yeah, that would be interesting to go back and just have that talk, but

 

Liz Craven  24:58

that would be a great conference. And you should you should bring her on as a guest when you do a live about that, because I would love to know her response to that and how that changes her own outlook. So because of all of that, knowing that you were in the homecare industry through your husband’s business, did that change in any way how you related to the caregivers who you were employing?

 

Melody Vachal  25:27

Well, the funny thing is now because I just I just now am joining the business, the director of aging services there, and then I so I run, I work there, and then I run my business. I’m on a leave of absence from my school job, but I will be retiring from the school in August. So I’m just sort of in this transitional space. But the amazing thing now is now I’m like, Okay, let’s plan a coaching program. For our paid caregivers. Let’s offer them this as a wellness benefit. Let’s do these things. Because I know, first of all, how hard it is to be a caregiver. And then those people who work in that field, we all know that the you know, reimbursement from either agencies or government is really inadequate for the services that those caregivers provide. And we all know that those people who work as caregivers are grossly underpaid for the amount and the importance of the work that they do.

 

Liz Craven  26:23

One hundred percent. And that, that does need to change.

 

Melody Vachal  26:30

And, and I’m trying my darndest to get that message out as often as I can that, you know these people who make this choice to be a caregiver. It’s a very hard job. It is you know, and some of us are caregivers, by profession. And by circumstance.

 

Melody Vachal  26:49

Yes. And then you get the double edged sword.

 

Liz Craven  26:53

Yes, and there’s a lot of similarity. But there is also a difference because most of the time people who choose to do this, and know what they’re walking into. They do so because it’s just inherent in them. It is just a part of who they are. I’ve I’ve had the pleasure of knowing some really incredible caregivers, we cared for my father in law, he lived with us. And while he was with us, you know, we’ve had a lot of caregiving a lot over a period of years, my mother, my husband’s mother, my father in law, it’s been a lot. But with him in particular, he lived in our home, but he very well prepared for his retirement. And we were able to have caregivers here, six days a week, which was amazing. Yeah, it was truly a blessing and a gift. But these ladies became part of my family. their phone numbers are still in my phone. And I still reach out at holidays to just send some love in their direction, because they didn’t come here every day, just for the paycheck. Obviously, they had to make a living, but they weren’t making enough money anyway, in my eyes, yes. But they came with full hearts and full intentions every day and served my father in law, like nothing I’ve ever seen, it was the most amazing thing to watch how these people just became a part of us. And I just can’t say enough about the people who choose to do this as a profession. Some of us get there by circumstance. Absolutely. And, and it doesn’t make either one better than the other. But I just find it so inspiring, that there are people who are just called to do this and they do it.

 

Melody Vachal  28:51

Absolutely. Absolutely. And that, you know, both of those groups are the people that I want to support. Whether whether you’re a caregiver by circumstance or a caregiver by profession, you know, at the very least, you’re a caregiver to yourself.

 

Liz Craven  29:06

Yes. Hmm. That’s a good quote!

 

Melody Vachal  29:10

Thank you.

 

Liz Craven  29:12

Well, that’s a great segue to that’s very intuitive of you. So tell me more about Rise Up Care and Wellness.

 

Melody Vachal  29:21

Well, Rise Up Care and Wellness started…like I said, the idea came to me about three months post accident in the middle of the night. I told Liz earlier when we spoke that it literally came to me as divine inspiration. I believe. I just woke up in the middle of the night and my phone was there and I just this word rise up, kept coming into my head rise up, rise up and I’m like, Okay, this is weird. It’s like three o’clock in the morning. Why am I even awake? But then the words came to me as an acronym. And I typed into my phone, it’s still in my phone and it’s it says rise up exists to refer Fresh, inspire, support, empower, uplift and prepare caregivers for their caregiving journey. And then I was just like, oh, okay, I guess I’m gonna start a business. And I kind of just launched into speaking and I knew my passion was for caregivers. And I knew that I wanted them to be refreshed and inspired and supported. And all of those things that fit in my acronym for rise up. And that’s where it came from. It just came to me and it was, it was something that was inherently supposed to happen. Because I’d never wanted to own a business. I’d never wanted to be in charge of anyone. I wouldn’t be asked like, Oh, don’t you want to be you know, the lead this or the lead that in the school or you want to be the speech pathologist who’s you know, whatever. I’m like, Nope, I just want to go to work. I want to see my kiddos, do my speech therapy and go home, like, I don’t want to be in charge of anything. I don’t know anything about business. But clearly, I learned who we are. And yeah, so that’s what my mission is, is I speak, I consult coaching, and really just helping caregivers prioritize themselves, and integrate that self care, awareness and practice into their daily lives so that they aren’t left empty, unlit, unfulfilled, worn out, you know, and at the end of the day, not valuing themselves, so that they can live their life to the fullest potential, along with still being a caregiver.

 

Liz Craven  31:44

What a great message. How do people find you?

 

Melody Vachal  31:47

They can follow me on rise up care and wellness on either Facebook or Instagram, I also have a Facebook group that I will give you the link for it’s called take care of you. And that’s a private group. But pretty much anybody can join, who wants support, encouragement, motivation. I’m like deck, I’ll do periodic learning sessions on there. I’m actually doing one later today. And so you can follow me there on social media. You can also message me through either rise up Karen wellness on Instagram or Facebook and my email, you can email me it’s mvachal@riseupcareandwellness.com. So if you are looking for coaching consulting, if you have a speaking engagement and you’re looking to hire a speaker, I would love to chat with you. Or if you just want to reach out and have a connection call to see if there’s some way that I can support you. I would love that too.

 

Liz Craven  32:47

Fantastic. All of that will be included in the show notes at your favorite podcast app. Or you can find it in the blog post for this episode, which is Episode 43, at Sageageing.com. All of that will be linked there for you. So no worries if you couldn’t write fast enough to jot it all down. I love at the end of an episode as we start to close and all of this information. It’s like a treasure trove of all kinds of wonderful things. So along those lines, do you have any favorite resources like books or websites or videos? Other things outside of your own, obviously, that you like to direct people towards?

 

Melody Vachal  33:31

Yes, absolutely. Well, first of all, I’m a huge Brene Brown fan, as I’m sure many of you are as well. So I love her new podcast unlocking us. That’s wonderful. I like anything she’s ever written, I want to be her friend and have coffee. So I love her. One of the things I also just really want to encourage is just following those people that make you feel positive. There’s a Instagram I follow called the power of power of positivity, which I think is just wonderful. And they just post periodic motivation, inspiration tips like that. I love Jay Shetty. On Instagram, he has a lot of really positive optimistic messages that I think are really good for the soul. As far as podcasts, a couple that I listened to that aren’t necessarily caregiving per se, but there’s one called the broken brain podcast, which I enjoy just because it’s a lot of neuroscience and things like that. Which may or may not be your bag, but but I like to listen to it probably because my brain has been a little broken. So it speaks to me. But yeah, whatever. I think those are some that just, you know, relief, fill me up. So I think looking for those things that fill you up that you know, make your make your life a little bit better. Those are the things that I tend to look for. I do have a great quote for you. I would love to share that this is a quote that was on my screen. Sons, I had one of those data clamps calendars when I was pregnant. And this was actually on the date Isaac was born, which I didn’t see until weeks later, of course. But the quote was this, it said, Never give up on a dream, because of the length of time it will take to accomplishment accomplish it, the time will pass anyway. And that’s by Earl Nightingale. And I just love that wow. Because it’s just inspires me to keep on going, keep on trying, move forward, because time is going to go by when we may as well continue to have our dreams.

 

Liz Craven  35:38

I cannot think of a better note to end on. Melody, thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being so open. And furthermore, thank you for taking your life experience and turning it into a way to help others that really says a whole lot about who you are.

 

Melody Vachal  35:57

Thank you. I’m really happy that you had a chance to visit with you today. And I look forward to maybe hearing from some of your listeners.

 

Liz Craven  36:06

I hope so. All of your information, we’ll have it linked in the show notes in that blog post. So I would encourage listeners to reach out if you have some questions for melody and even just to get to know some of what she’s doing. That would be a very positive direction to head in. And thank all of you for listening. I really want you to take the time to digest Melody’s message to you today about self care. You hear it from me all the time. But from her perspective, I think it sounds a little bit different. Whether you’re a hands on family caregiver, a professional caregiver, or you’re providing care from afar or not currently providing care at all, you owe it to yourself to practice good self care. You don’t need to apologize for it. You don’t need permission. If you feel like you do, I’m giving that permission to you right now. So check back next week for another episode. Next week. It’ll be a little bit different. We’re gonna be talking about what to do when your loved one is admitted to the hospital. So if you’re receiving our weekly newsletter, look for that in your inbox first thing Tuesday morning. If you’re not getting our newsletter in your inbox, what are you waiting for, head over to say JJ comm and scroll down to the bottom of the page and you can subscribe there and I’d love to connect with you on social media. You can find stage aging on Instagram, Facebook and tik tok. And you can find me Liz Craven on LinkedIn. Thanks again for listening, everyone. We’ll talk real soon

 

 

 

Liz Craven

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As I’ve been preparing to launch this podcast I’ve enjoyed revisiting stages of my own life and reflecting on how this topic became such a passion for me. While I’ve built my career on helping older adults and their families connect to needed education and resources, my connection to the aging and care process goes much deeper.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my own multi-generational family living together in one home. I was 4 or 5 when my grandmother moved into our home to help care for my sisters and I while our parents worked. Soon after, her father and grandfather moved in as well. We had 5 generations living under one roof! That was a beautifully chaotic adventure and knowing what I know now, I have so much respect for what my parents and grandmother did.

Fast forward to age 24. Newly married and pregnant with our first child, I spent several months with my in-laws to help care for my husband’s grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. Fast forward again to about 2009 – Wes and I have two teenagers about to head to college and his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years later, my mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years after that Wes’ stepdad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his father is suffering from severe dementia. You can see where this is going right? For the better part of the last 10 years we have been the caregivers. We see it as an honor and privilege to have been able to do that for our parents.

The key to navigating our later years is being proactive about gathering information before we get there and staying engaged once we do. To be sage is to be wise. There is wisdom in taking the time to ask questions, seek solutions and know your options before the need arises.

Each week we will discuss relevant topics of aging with experts who can help us to understand and be better prepared for aging. We’ll also introduce you to some Sage Agers who are totally owning their journeys through life. No topic will be off limits and we will deliver open and honest conversation meant to educate and empower our listeners. Each episode will also be available in video and blog formats.

Whether you are proactively seeking to broaden your own knowledge, a caregiver for a loved one or a professional working in the aging care industry, this podcast is for you. We hope you will join us as we explore and celebrate Sage Aging.