Caregiver Spotlight – Wes Craven

This Week on Sage Aging

If you’ve been following the podcast for a while, you know that our focus is to connect older adults and those who care for them to the tools and resources they need to navigate the aging/caregiving journey. Tapping into support and resources can make or break a caregiving experience for sure, but it isn’t the only component of a caregiver’s life. Obviously, self-care is a big part of the equation as well, and we talk about that here often, but an equally important piece is connecting with other caregivers. Knowing that you’re not alone in the things that you’re experiencing, and hearing how other caregivers navigate their caregiving journey can go a long way in helping you to navigate yours. Many of you have reached out and said you want to hear from other caregivers, so this week I bring you the first Sage Aging Caregiver Spotlight.

My Guest

This week’s guest is very special to me! His name is Wes Craven. You might notice that we share a last name. Yup, he’s my hubby! He is my partner in life, business, and all things. It was Wes who conceived of and wrote Polk ElderCare Guide almost 27 years inspired by his grandmother’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease and his mother’s struggle to care for her. Together, we have spent the last decade or so caring for our parents. It has been quite a journey and in this episode, you will hear about it from his perspective.

Listen to episode 34 here or keep scrolling to read the full transcript.

My Take

I love hearing Wes talk about his parents and grandparents. They were kind and loving people who passed those qualities on to him. If you listened to episode 22 you heard about my perspective of my own caregiving journey and the role my family’s caring of elders played in my experience when it was my turn. I heard the same in this conversation with Wes, and I suspect it is a common theme for many caregivers. I’m really proud of this man and the example he has set for our girls and I’m excited to share his caregiver story with you.

Links & Resources

We didn’t discuss specific links in this episode, but we did discuss the importance of reaching out for help and support. Here is a review of the “5 websites every caregiver should know about” from episode 22:

Thanks for listening!

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Transcript
Closed Captioning

Liz Craven  00:00

This episode of Sage Aging is brought to you by Polk ElderCare Guide, your guide to all things senior care and resources available in both English and Spanish. You can find the guide and much more at Polkeldercare.com.

 

Liz Craven  00:24

Welcome to the Sage Aging podcast. I’m your host Liz Craven. The mission of Sage Aging is to help you connect to information and resources that will empower you to master the aging and caregiving journey. Weekly, I’ll bring you great conversations with industry professionals, and others to shed some light on topics of aging, and to empower you to take charge of your journey. So grab a cup of coffee, or maybe a cool glass of lemonade, and sit back and relax as we chat. Are you ready? Hit subscribe now and let’s get started.

 

Liz Craven  01:00

Hello, and welcome to Episode 34 of the Sage Aging podcast. Well, the holiday season has officially begun, and although it probably looked a little bit different this year, I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you took some time to decompress and to focus on the things that bring you joy. If you’ve been following the podcast for a while, you know that our focus is to connect older adults and those who care for them to the tools and resources they need to navigate the aging journey. Tapping into support and resources can make or break a caregiving experience for sure, but it isn’t the only component of a caregiver’s life. Obviously, self-care is a big part of the equation as well, and we talk about that here often, but an equally important piece is connecting with other caregivers. Knowing that you’re not alone in the things that you’re experiencing, and hearing how other caregivers navigate their aging journey and caregiving journey can go a long way in helping you to navigate yours. Many of you have reached out and said you want to hear from other caregivers. So today I bring you the first Sage Aging Caregiver Spotlight. We’ll continue to bring you information focused content as well, but this is something we’ll do on a regular basis. Back in Episode 22, I told you about my own caregiving experience and today, I’m going to introduce you to my partner in that experience. My husband Wes is with me here today. He’s my partner in business. He’s my partner in life and my partner in all things. Together, we’ve spent the last decade or so providing different levels of care to our parents. It was no surprise at all to me that Wes would be a good caregiver. He was and is an amazing dad to our two girls, and he’s never afraid to show his softer side. But watching him care for our parents blew me away. And I’m excited to share him with you today. Welcome to the show, Wes.

 

Wes Craven  03:05

Well, thank you.

 

Liz Craven  03:06

You’re welcome. I’m so glad you’re here. It took a long time. Here we are Episode 34. I probably should have brought you on the show long ago, but here we are and I’m glad you’re here. I guess I needed to get my feet under me and feel really confident about what I was doing before I shared you because this is a special one.

 

Wes Craven  03:26

Well, thank you.

 

Liz Craven  03:27

You’re welcome. Gosh, our life together started during a timeframe where your mom was at the onset of her caregiving journey with your grandmother. So why don’t we start with you telling a little bit about you from the start of your caregiving exposure through your mom?

 

Wes Craven  03:53

When my mother started caring for my grandmother, it was mainly because of her Alzheimer’s. My grandfather was in poor health, physical health and we didn’t really realize how far my grandmother’s dementia had really progressed. Because like many caregivers, the spouse or the loved one hides their true demise really of their loved one. But when my grandfather passed away, my grandmother, Mabel went to live with my mother. And my mom soon realized how far that my grandmother had progressed in her disease.

 

Liz Craven  04:39

I remember that time frame, well, we were newlyweds and we and that was a big stressor for your mom. And your mom, what an amazing woman she was. And she was trying to juggle it all, you know newly-married herself. She and Hank had not been married that long. When all of this came about and we were living in Port St. Lucie.

 

Wes Craven  05:04

We were. My mother was a full time teacher. And my grandmother, one of the effects of her disease was she would get up and wonder in the middle of the night. And so my mother was up for many hours with my grandmother. And then of course, she had to go to teach the next day. But my grandmother was funny, even with her disease, she was like she was when she was younger. She was a very funny lady.

 

Liz Craven  05:38

Well, she was a cute lady, I wish I had known her before her Alzheimer’s. But when I came into the picture, it was at the start of her Alzheimer’s journey, so I did enjoy a few times where I was able to really interact with her and enjoy her while you were playing cards with your granddad, but it didn’t take long before that really progressed to a point where she wasn’t the same person anymore.

 

Wes Craven  06:07

Right. After a while the care became so great that my mother couldn’t work and take care of my grandmother at the same time. So my grandmother went into a family care home family care homes, well, since we know this, because we do the elder care guide, they’re licensed by the state. And luckily, the place that she found was very close to her house. So after my mother got off work, she could stop by pretty much every day and see my grandmother, they were lovely people, they took very good care of her. In fact, they took care of her until the day she died. Alzheimer’s is as you know, just an incredibly debilitating, cruel disease. And it did, you know, finally, get her because you forget how to swallow and after a while, your body just forgets how to do what it’s supposed to do. Even those things that are natural that you don’t think about what you do is breathe, and that it takes everything away from you. And she did die from Alzheimer’s.

 

Liz Craven  07:16

Very sad. Very sad, but that caregiving experience was pretty amazing. And for you was that the first exposure you had to that type of caregiving?

 

Wes Craven  07:28

Oh, very much. So at that time, we had just started elder care Guide, which back then it was called Florida senior magazine. And while my grandmother was in the family care, she had fallen and broken her hip. And she went into Lakeland regional, she had surgery and, and they took care of her. But just like health care, today, the ideas is to get them out of the hospital as soon as possible. And because my mother was a full time teacher, and I had a very flexible schedule, I was sort of charge of finding her a nursing home a rehab facility. And so I met with the case managers, social workers at the hospital. And basically, they give you a sheet of paper, and it has a list of the the the facilities on them. And I remember it very, very like it was yesterday that we’re going to be discharging her tomorrow or the next day. And you need to find her a place. And so I took that list back to my mom and, and we sat down and at that point, even though I did a senior magazine, I hadn’t really you know, the information in Florida senior was was, you know, information that people would about dancing and all the kinds of stuff that seniors do. And we had information about care, but it wasn’t like it is today. And so I consulted with my mom and the next few days, couple The next day, after I got the list, I went to I think two or three facilities. And I was literally dependent on that person on the other side of the desk of the facility to tell me that this is a great place for my grandmother. And they were all very nice, but the reality is,  if you don’t know anything, you don’t know what you don’t know. So we found a place that I thought was a very good place. And actually, they took great care of her. They did the rehab, and she did come back to the family care home. But the problem is just like, you know, the information that we put in the guide right now and what we’ve learned over the years is it’s more than just about the care. And after my mother would get off work. She lived on the Southside of town. Well, you know, I didn’t know What I didn’t know. And the place that I found for her was on the north side of town. And so you know, from the south side, it’s a 30 minute trek to the north side, and then it could be longer if there was traffic. And so after she was teaching all day to go up there, for, you know, that time was very difficult on her. And once again, it was a very hard time for her to be able to, to see her mother. And, you know, that’s one of the things in the guide we do is, you know, right now is, it’s more than just about the care, it’s about the family out of understanding what to look for in a facility, if she would have, we would have found a place on the Southside of town, you know, it could have been a five-minute trip, and she could have seen her more often. And, as you know, it’s more than just the the care, it’s about the love, which was really what brings people back to getting healthier, quicker.

 

Liz Craven  10:57

That is so very true, and a lot of good things to think about. So that was the catalyst for you creating the eldercare guide,

 

Wes Craven  11:07

Yes. What I basically did is, after that whole experience, um, you know, the internet wasn’t what it is today, of course, you couldn’t just google something. And so I actually got with the care, the social worker, the case manager, and I said, if I develop a little checklist of information, do you think you would use it to give out with your, with your list, and she didn’t really commit to anything. But I went to the library, and I started doing some research of what to look for in a nursing home, on what to look for, to find care. And, you know, I also, at that point, the state had a lot of information that was available online. And so I took that information and from the state and what I found in the library, because there were a lot of books on it, as well on caregiving. And I took that information and, and I went back to the social work, I typed it all up and went back to the social worker. And she actually gave me some tips on what she would do. And so I put some stuff together and a long journey. Long story short, is we started putting that information in, in Florida senior magazine, and I developed checklists of what to look for, you know, when you first go in and that’s sort of how it started was we put this information in Florida senior magazine, and it became such a big part of what we were doing in the magazine, and more people wanted to see it that we actually just changed the name of the magazine and, and even put more information in there. More than just caregiving, we started doing information about assisted living, about the process and the journey of death, and what to look for in their caregiving in general family caregiving. I mean, there’s just so much information, but that was sort of the start of the elder care guide.

 

Liz Craven  13:06

And what’s amazing is honestly, that has become such a cornerstone of what we do, it really changed our life as a whole, not only because we became more knowledgeable about how to help our family members when that time came, and how to process and plan for ourselves. But it really has become a big part of who we are. And I know for me personally, has become such a big part of my passion. And my reason, it’s why I do what I do. It’s why we’re sitting here producing a podcast right now. Because all of those things that you put together in that little book have affected so many lives over the years. And it feels like such an honor and a privilege to be a part of that for other people. And that drives me every single day. So what an amazing thing that you started here and people will tell you in this community all the time, what a help it is to people. So thank you for doing that. That’s that has been really a defining piece of our life together. So let’s fast forward now. You know, all of that we spent all this time raising our kids and building the eldercare guide and and other publications over the years and doing lots of really cool things. And then the time came where your mom was diagnosed with cancer, and it was time to care for her. So first, I want to say there are so many different types of caregiving. And one of the things I think I hear a lot from people is that they don’t really consider themselves a caregiver if they’re not doing the hands-on caregiving, but caregiving runs way deeper than that. Sometimes your role in the caregiver might be to take care of finances. Sometimes it might be to simply arrange all of the things that your loved one needs. And sometimes it’s the hands on. But there are all kinds of different levels of caregiving. And as we go through the rest of this conversation, because Wes and I have had so many opportunities to provide care for people that we love, you’re going to see that we kind of touched all of the different areas of caregiving that you could. So let’s start with your mom and her cancer diagnosis.

 

Wes Craven  15:33

Well, for my mother, she was, as you just said, she was diagnosed with cancer. And her process was about a three year battle. Her physical caregiver, her husband, Hank, totally took care of her. He went from basically not making the meals, to taking care of her wounds, because her surgeries were major. And he dressed her wounds, physically dressed her wounds, that the things that we would think, are caregiving in general. But he made the meals, he cleaned the house, he pretty much did pretty much a lot of the custodial caregiving that you would see. And he constantly said that his food wasn’t good. But she, she gave him a lot of recipes. And he pretty much followed it to a tee because he was an accountant. And that’s what he did.

 

Liz Craven  16:29

He was an amazing caregiver. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that in my lifetime. And one of the things that he used to say to her that was so striking and inspirational to me, he would tell her every day, he would grab her hand and he would hold her hand and look her in the eye and say that she was his queen, and that it was his honor and privilege to care for her. And I think that’s probably one of the biggest life lessons that he ever taught me his ability to care and love the way he did. And his commitment to it was just, I don’t even have words for that. But I carry that with me always from him. So your role in caring for your mom during that time frame really was more of a support role of Hank, right?

 

Wes Craven  17:23

Well, I was, I tried to basically care for the caregiver, we would go and do things together to give him a break from their everyday duty of what he was doing. But we’d go to the gym, we’d go play racquetball. He loved doing Senior Games. So we go, he loved Javelin, throwing the javelin, the Senior Games and the shotput. We go do those things. But one of the things that was very evident that my mother before she’d passed, was he started getting dementia. And he was very, very worried because she took a lot of medications, that he would give her the wrong amount, the wrong, the wrong dosage. So he put everything on a spreadsheet, because as an accountant, that’s what he did anyways. And after she had passed, there were and I’m not kidding, there were hundreds of spreadsheets of of, of things that he would do every single day on her medication dosages, because he was worried that he would give her the wrong amount or the wrong, the wrong drug at the wrong time. And he was worried because he was starting to forget stuff. And so he was in his early stages, but he was very direct about letting you know that he was starting to forget. And when she did pass, I spend even more time with him doing those things.

 

Liz Craven  18:59

He was one of the most self aware people that I’ve ever known. I remember, even as his Alzheimer’s progressed, and as his dementia became pretty dominant in his world. In his lucid moments, he still completely understood what was happening. And he was able to relay a lot of his experience back, which I find so amazing. But yes, he was an amazing caregiver and his charts were amazing. I remember that really big chart that he had on the wall. And as he would give her medications, he would mark them off. But that was very taxing for him being the primary caregiver, but it was the right thing for him and it was what he wanted to do and she was the love of his life and the way he cared for her was just amazing. So now your mom passes, and Hank is beginning to experience more dementia. On top of that the depression And that comes along with losing the love of your life. And you really stepped up, you’re caring for him at that point as well tell me more about that.

 

Wes Craven  20:10

Well, you know, his his disease was a lot different in this fact, closer to the middle, I say the the middle of his disease, progression of his disease, he started seeing things he started. And at first, he wasn’t sure if they were real or not. And we would, this is before he actually moved into an assisted living facility. But he was at home. And he would see things move on the floor. And that’s, you know, one of the common things, I mean, it doesn’t happen to everybody. But that was one of the the effects of his particular dementia, he would see things moving in the wall. And he would actually pitch himself sometimes. And he said, I, this is not real. And that’s where you’re talking about, he was very aware of things. He also his dreams were hugely real to him, they were very vivid. And he would get up, just like my grandmother, sometimes in the middle of the night. And, and walk around and, and talk to himself, and he would have conversations with people. But this is when his disease really started to progress. And so at that point, he didn’t want to burden us, even though we told him it wasn’t a burden. And one of the things that he told my mom that he would make sure that he would check into a facility and find a facility or residence. And at that point, we went with him. And we checked out a lot of different facilities. And luckily, we are in this business. And we found a place just a beautiful place, about two blocks from our house. And his disease did start to progress them. And we were lucky that it was so close.

 

Liz Craven  22:13

We were very lucky that it was so close. And that was a great place for him to land because it when it became too much for him to live by himself, maintain a house all of the things that that go along with that it was really a good decision for him to maintain what independence he could by going to an assisted living community. And he really…

 

Wes Craven  22:38

He actually felt more secure by being there.

 

Liz Craven  22:41

He did. And he was the kind of person who wanted to be in charge of his own life. So you know, it’s he also had been a caregiver for your grandmother. And he had also witnessed his own mother going through Alzheimer’s. And I remember one of the first conversations that I had with him about Alzheimer’s, we were sitting at Texas Roadhouse, or someplace waiting to be seated after church one day. And he said, You know, I always wondered what my mother was going through when she had Alzheimer’s. And I said, Oh, really? And he said, Yeah, he said, I think I know now. And I got very curious and said, Well, tell me more about that. And he went on to describe to me that many times, he knew exactly what he wanted to say, he completely understood the situation around him. But he couldn’t figure out how to get the thoughts to come from his brain out of his mouth. And that was just so self aware. And throughout his disease, he and I would have very interesting conversations like this. I remember the one about delusions, I had gone to check on him one day, when you were out of town. And I went in and he had been experiencing lots of his delusions. And so we sat down and started talking about it. And he became very lucid. And he said, Hey, you see that picture over there on the desk? He said, The people in that picture frame, get out and walk around the desk for a while. And then they get back in. And he said, I know that’s not real. And he said, I pinch myself to see if I’m awake. But he said, I don’t get out of the chair very often and walk around, because I’m afraid of what I’m seeing what I’m seeing might be real, or it might not and what if I misjudged that what if I think something is not real? And I walk and trip over it, then I’m going to fall and I just his self awareness was just so curious to me. It was really incredible to witness that and, and share those moments with him as he was telling me about that. So once it got too much for Hank, even later Living in assisted living, then we we had caregivers go to the assisted living for a bit, but then we made a big decision to bring him home talk about that.

 

Wes Craven  25:12

Well, at that point, um, the the assisted living facility he was in the residence he was in, they also do have a secured unit for Alzheimer’s. But because of the the jobs that we are in, we are very fortunate that we have the ability to, to care more on a full time basis. So I got with his children, he’s my stepfather I got with his children. And I asked him if it asked them if it would be okay, if we brought him into our home. Now, we realized that this was going to be a huge, huge commitment on our part, because now it’s not caregiving on a part time basis. But on a full time basis. We also needed our house was built in the 20s. And we needed to have some some work done to make it more feasible for him to live here, he had a really bad knee, and he could barely walk at that point. So what we basically did is we had the transitions in our showers, in the shower, taken out so that we could roll the wheelchair right into the shower, we had a Rails put in the shower, so that he could hold on to it. Of course, we even had a showerhead that was flexible so that we could bathe them that way, the half bath, widen the doors, we we did some stuff to make it more feasible for him to live here. You know, there’s some very simple things you can do. And then there’s some very extensive things, you know, going into our house was was higher from you know, from the ground. So, instead of building ramp, a gentleman from our church, they have a thing called a suitcase ramp. And literally, it’s a piece of metal at that you it’s you know, different sizes, and every time you want to use it, you can just pull it out and use it and then and put it back, which was a great, it’s a lot cheaper than having a ramp belt,

 

Liz Craven  27:18

That was really helpful.

 

Wes Craven  27:19

It was. It was great. But we went from you know that one type of caregiving to a full time hands on, and I’ll be honest with you, um, it’s one thing to write about it and read about it and to do the research. And then to do this on a on a full time basis. And like I said, we have very flexible, you know, careers. And if I wasn’t able to do something, you were able to do something you mainly did the cooking, you tried to do a lot of the stuff he liked. And he did like food, there’s no doubt about it. He liked dessert. But like I said, we went from one thing to another, and custodial care. He was a big man. And so it was very, very difficult at times for for you to do something, you know, whether it was helping him with a toilet or showering or transferring from a chair to his wheelchair or Walker, you know, and in he he felt actually very guilty that we brought him to our house, but we had to let him know that it was our hard pride to let him do that.

 

Liz Craven  28:35

Absolutely in the same way that he cared for your mom, I used to tell him that we felt the same way about caring for him. And I really became kind of his talk to person. I was the one I didn’t do as much of the private caregiving, you know, the toileting, the showering those things I tried, because I felt like he didn’t want me to see that he he wanted very personal. It was very personal. And he wanted our relationship to remain kind of the same. You know, he liked being the father in law, and for me to be the daughter in law. And so I tried really hard to make sure that my conversations and my interactions with him allowed him to stay in that role, and to feel normal for a few minutes. And that was really great. It was good for me too. He has influenced me in more ways than I can count. I just love him so dearly and miss him so much. But what an amazing influence he was on both of us in our lives.

 

Wes Craven  29:41

I mean, we even brought your mother into her our house with her cancer. And she had a totally different type of care. She actually had hands on health care to clean her wounds and, and to because she had cancer as well. And I guess we did that for how long did we do that, for

 

Liz Craven  30:02

Gosh, that was about two and a half years. So my mom’s cancer came between West his mom roxeanne, her cancer and Hanks dementia. So Hank was still living independently during the timeframe that we were caring for my mother. So you can see Wes and I was spent, we spent a little more than a decade in our caregiving role. And it was, you know, bouncing from one parent to another, but my mother had pancreatic cancer. And it was pretty serious stuff. And by the time she had her surgery, it was probably a late stage three cancer. had they known how bad it was, they probably would not have even done the surgery. But at any rate, when she came home, she did need some wound care and some things like that. And anyone who knows me knows that that is not my strong point. That was something that I really struggled with. And Wes was great with her. She trusted him so completely, and the physical care of those types of things he took over. But I was the primary caregiver for her in every other way. The tricky part was that mom lived, what two and a half hours for my promise. Yeah, so it was a couple hour drive. And so she spent part of her time here at home with us. And part of her time when she was able in her own home. And that was a completely different caregiving experience than the other two.

 

Wes Craven  31:40

Now her mind was great, though. So which was easy, because she could tell us what she needed.

 

Liz Craven  31:45

Mm hmm. And that caregiving experience for me, obviously, it was my mom. So it was more emotionally intense for me. But because it was such a long caregiving journey two and a half years, it really took my relationship with my mother to a different place. We always had a good relationship, but it was, I don’t really know what words to use to describe the depth of the relationship through that experience.

 

Wes Craven  32:15

Now on Hank’s, one of the things you need when you’re talking about the different types of caregiving, one of Hanks sons, Kevin, um, he basically even though he was up in Alabama, he basically took care of all the finances, I didn’t have to worry about any of that stuff. And so his caregiving experience was more of a financial one, which made my life so much easier because I didn’t have to worry about any his information, his bank information, his his stocks, and all that kind of stuff, which made it a lot easier. All I had to worry about was caring for him.

 

Liz Craven  32:56

And he did a lot of other things, too, like shipping supplies and all kinds of things. You know, the little things that really add up for a caregiver, if we had needed to go out and buy depends all the time and get this supply and that supply, that would have added another additional layer of stress that we just didn’t have to deal with. And I think that all the way around, we were really fortunate in the kind of support that we had no, we knew to ask for help when we needed it. And that’s really hard for caregivers, and particularly for somebody who might be caring for their spouse, and it’s usually just the two of them. And it’s uncomfortable to ask people for help. But it’s so important to build that support system around you. We had our children who through that process, at first they were at home, they were high school age, when your mom got her cancer, you know, I’m working all the way through college, by the time Hank passed, and even into careers. So but they were very supportive. And I think our family in general, from Hanks children and our daughters and close family, friends and local community, we had a lot of support, and it really made all the difference in the world. I know that it’s not the same for every caregiver. I know there are a lot of caregivers who don’t feel that support. And so I think that these caregiver spotlights and getting a little window into somebody else’s caregiving experience can only help and encourage people to get some help and get some support by reaching out.

 

Wes Craven  34:39

Absolutely. If I could give any advice to your listeners. One of the things that that I would say is and it’s it’s got a it’s sort of different because sometimes you’re thrown into a caregiving experience very quickly. And sometimes you sort of have a heads up in it. little time to make arrangements. But if you’re, if you are thrown into something very quickly, you know, getting information, whether it’s all of a sudden, or you have a little more time, getting information is key, because you don’t know exactly what to expect. So you need to not only read, but there’s so many videos online. Now that you can check if you’re not a reader. Plus, sometimes the videos can give something that you may not be able to. Sometimes you need visual examples. But if it’s something that’s very quickly, it’s very important that you ask for help, because you’re just surrounded by new information and new things happening very quickly. So you’ve got to not only get information, but you need to ask for help. And that could be from family members. And if you don’t, it’s really important. Sometimes if you don’t ask for help from family members, they may assume that, that you don’t want their help. And they may be upset that you didn’t do that. So hey, if you don’t ask and you don’t receive, then that’s up to you know, that’s their issue. But if you, if you do ask, then it’s important that they feel like they’re a part of it. So family members can be a resource, because you are going to get tired. But the other part of that is there’s resources out there, that from state and local. And it’s not just they can be from your church, the ramp came from, from our church, the suitcase ramp. So there are ways to get information out there and ask for help. If you have a little more time, you can you can sort of prepare yourself a little bit a little bit better, but ask for help and get as much information as possible, I think are the two keys,

 

Liz Craven  36:52

I would have to agree with that. And I will provide by the way in the show notes. And in the blog post for Episode 34, which you can find at Sage aging.us. I’m going to put some links to a few websites that I think are really important for caregivers to know about things that can help connect you to some of that support and help that you may or may not have access to right now. So check the show notes for those and or you can check the blog post for those and I’m certain that they will be helpful. Well, there you have it, there is a little bit of a window into the world of Liz and West Craven, as it has been for the last decade or so, Hank, who is WESA stepfather, he passed about a year and a half ago. And so our life is finally beginning to I don’t know if I would say normalized this year has not been normal for anybody. But…

 

Wes Craven  37:48

Well we’re going into a different stage.

 

Liz Craven  37:50

We are, and you know, we miss our parents, we miss them so much every single day. But what an amazing experience it was for us as a couple. And for us as children, our relationships with our parents were just deepened by the care that we were able to provide. And I just marvel at that really how that has changed my life and affected my life. So thank you for being open with us today. And thank you for sharing your experiences with our listeners.

 

Wes Craven  38:24

You’re welcome.

 

Liz Craven  38:26

And thank all of you for listening. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. This one was a special one for me. And if you’re a caregiver and you’d like to share your journey with our audience, I would really love to hear from you. And if you’re enjoying this age aging podcast, I’d really appreciate it if you would subscribe, follow or leave us a review, and more importantly, share it with a friend. If you want to catch up on back episodes or see the blog post for Episode 34. Head over to Sage aging.us. You’ll find that and a lot more on the website. Thanks for listening, everyone. We’ll talk real soon.

 

**The Sage Aging podcast is brought to you by Polk ElderCare Guide.  A comprehensive senior resource guide empowering you to navigate the aging and caregiving journey successfully.

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.