Caregivers are growing in number

Did you know that 41.8 million American adults are caregivers? If that number doesn’t strike a chord with you How about this one. 24% of those caregivers are caring for two or more loved ones at the same time. Now I know that I’m preaching to the choir here, but this is a big deal. Being a caregiver is really hard work and family caregivers, in my book, they’re superheroes. Imagine being hired for a job, being given no training, and told to just do the best you can and we’ll see what happens. Well, that’s precisely the situation so many people find themselves in. The majority of older adults say that they want to age in place and stay in their current home as long as possible, but most families are ill-prepared to take on this monumental task. Some family caregivers enlist the help of paid caregivers to lighten the load, while others choose to share the task with other family members or take it on solo. In this episode,  my guest gives you ten helpful tips for all types of caregivers.

Kari’s ten tips

  1. Take care of yourself
  2. Don’t feel guilty
  3. Ask for help
  4. Utilize support groups
  5. Have a Plan B
  6. Don’t think you need 24/7 help to make a difference
  7. Understand that not everyone is a caregiver (each family member has a role to play)
  8. Have the right equipment
  9. Communicate
  10. Remember the good days
  11. Bonus tip! What to look for in a home care agency

You’ll want to listen to episode 24 for the full explanation of each tip. If reading is more your style, keep scrolling for a full transcript!

Show Notes

According to a recent AARP report, close to 17% of American adults are caring for at least one family member. Being a family caregiver is an overwhelming undertaking that many feel unprepared for. Have you ever felt that way? Well, you’re in luck because today’s guest will be giving you her top 10 tips for successful caregiving. If you’re caring for an aging loved one and want the inside scoop on caregiving from an industry pro, then this is the podcast episode for you.

Links & Resources mentioned
Next week

Episode 25 brings a conversation about media and news. That’s a hot topic! What is the difference between media and news and how can you tell if what you are reading or seeing is true? It’s a conversation you don’t want to miss! Join me as I chat with Trinity Laurino of Lkldnow.com.

THANKS FOR LISTENING!

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Transcript

Closed Captioning

Ten Tips For Caregivers

Recorded September 3, 2020

Host: Liz Craven   Guest: Kari Gomez

Episode Sponsor

Liz Craven  00:04

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

Intro

Liz Craven  00:20

According to a recent AARP report, close to 17% of American adults are caring for at least one family member. Being a family caregiver is an overwhelming undertaking that many feel unprepared for. Have you ever felt that way? Well, you’re in luck because today’s guest will be giving you her top 10 tips for successful caregiving. If you’re caring for an aging loved one and want the inside scoop on caregiving from an industry Pro, then this is the podcast episode for you.

welcome

Liz Craven  01:02

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.

Today’s guest

Liz Craven  01:41

Hi there and welcome to Episode 24 of the Sage Aging podcast. Did you know that 41.8 million American adults are caregivers? If that number doesn’t strike a chord with you How about this one. 24% of those caregivers are caring for two or more loved ones at the same time. Now I know that I’m preaching to the choir here, but this is a big deal. Being a caregiver is really hard work and family caregivers in my book, they’re superheroes. Imagine being hired for a job, being given no training, and told to just do the best you can and we’ll see what happens. Well, that’s precisely the situation so many people find themselves in. The majority of older adults say that they want to age in place and stay in their current home as long as possible, but most families are ill-prepared to take on this monumental task. Some family caregivers enlist the help of paid caregivers to lighten the load, while others choose to share the task with other family members or take it on solo. Today we’ll give you some helpful tips for all types of caregivers. My guest today is Kari Gomez of Home Instead Senior Care. Kari has worked in the senior care industry for more than 20 years, and her most recent venture in her career is the purchase of her Home Instead Senior Care franchise. To say that this is a perfect fit for Kari would totally be an understatement. Above and Beyond is the norm for Kari and for her team, and you can’t help but grin from ear to ear when you see her in action. Compassionate, driven, engaging, and hilarious are all words that I would use to describe Kari. all of Kari’s contact information and a link to her full bio, and her website will be in the show notes, so be sure to check that out. Welcome to the show Kari, thanks for joining me.

 

Kari Gomez  03:42

Thank you, Liz. Thank you. That was a very humbling introduction.

 

Liz Craven  03:46

It’s all true for sure. You are such a fun person and so engaging and so good at what you do. Well, I’m excited to be placing some focus on caregivers today. A lot of our conversations, we tend to talk more about the needs of care recipients, but our caregivers are just as important and today is about sharing some insights and tips that will make life better for them. But before we get started, I would love to talk just a little bit about you first. So how did you get started in the eldercare industry?

 

Kari Gomez  04:20

When I get asked that question, I think back to my grandfather. My grandfather was a typical accountant by trade and I loved him dearly, but he wasn’t necessarily one that Rough and tumbled and played with the grandkids. But later in his years, as he, unfortunately, experienced mini-strokes and other medical challenges, he got a love of bowling, and I can distinctly remember one day when I was visiting him in his long term care facility he was living at. He sat me down on his bed and he looked at me and he says, when you get older, you need to take care of us old people and make us smile. Now mind you, we were just bowling in his room with those wonderful rubber bowling pins and bowling balls. The best part about this is his facility was run by an order of nuns in Erie, Pennsylvania. So needless to say, we were a little bit, for lack of better words, out of order, and making some noise in the facility. So the nuns got a little upset with us, but that’s okay. And then after that, I actually went into recreational therapy, because I truly believe everybody needs to have some fun and it’s a great outlet and I just fell in love with working with our seniors when I moved to Florida in 1999.

 

Liz Craven  05:40

So that’s 21 years now. Yes?

 

Kari Gomez  05:43

Yes, ma’am. I feel old!

 

Liz Craven  05:48

Well, you don’t act old. You don’t look old. Actually, you are a very active person in so many ways. You’ve got two beautiful daughters. You and your husband do such a great job with them. And they are senior and what year this year?

 

Kari Gomez  06:06

I have a senior and a sophomore. So yeah, it’s definitely an experience with the way the world is now and they are full of life, competitive dancers, keep me on my toes, which I am not a dancer, but excited to see where they’re going to go in their careers and their life and just hope that they lead with their hearts.

 

Liz Craven  06:28

Oh, that is a great way to raise daughters. I have two daughters, myself who are all grown up and it goes way too fast. And I love how much you enjoy them and how much you do as a family together. It’s a beautiful thing.

 

Kari Gomez  06:42

Thank you. Yeah, they’re good. They’re good and my husband is amazing. He is a total dad and actually drove our senior to school on her first day of school because he’s done it for the last 12 years, kindergarten included, and thought he needed to round it out and kind of threatened it to drive her to the first day of college too.

 

Liz Craven  07:03

That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

 

Kari Gomez  07:05

No way!

 

Liz Craven  07:06

When you leave them at college is just not good.

 

Kari Gomez  07:09

Yeah, not looking forward to that day, but we’ll get through it.

committed to educating caregivers

Liz Craven  07:13

Absolutely. So you and your team at Home Instead are pretty fantastic and you do lots of community things. And you do a lot to educate caregivers. And so that’s why I wanted to invite you to the show because I think that so many caregivers find themselves in this silo. And they’re doing their day to day, they are doing the best they can some of them caring for children just like you are and also caring for their parents at the same time. It can be very overwhelming and I believe that a lot of people don’t have the tools necessary to do it successfully because number one, they don’t know where to start. And secondly, their time is already constrained, and so they don’t take the time to educate themselves and to get more information. So I thought today, we could just talk about some things that they could employ in their own situation to make their life a little bit easier.

 

Kari Gomez  08:16

And I’m amazed at family caregivers. I think they, like you said in the beginning, they have such a strong ability, but I think there are some great tips that every family caregiver can kind of take into their own fashion and make sure that they’re doing the best that they can do while still taking care of themselves.

 

Liz Craven  08:37

All right, well, let’s jump right in. We have 10 of Kari’s favorite tips for you today. Let’s just start at the beginning. I know these go in no specific order. They’re all important, but what’s the first tip that you would give to our family caregivers?

tip one: take care of yourself

Kari Gomez  08:55

Yep, I’m glad you said no particular order because that’s one thing. Every family is different. So what might be ten For one, it might be a one for another one, but one of my favorite things that I say to everybody who’s a caregiver is take care of yourself. One of my staff members in the office has this great analogy. She says, you know, when you’re on an airplane, they teach you to put your oxygen mask on first before you help others. That’s the same thing with caregiving. You have to take care of yourself so that you can take care of the others and don’t feel guilty about it. Listen to music, read a book, watch your favorite show, eat that delicious snack, which we all do a little bit, sometimes too much of. But you have to have that self-awareness to be able to say, Okay, I need to sit back regroup, so I could move forward. If not, you’re not going to give your hundred percent to your loved one.

 

Liz Craven  09:46

Absolutely. I so agree with that. And so much so that I am planning to do an entire self-care series for caregivers so that we can spend some time really focusing in on things that they can do for themselves to be the best caregiver possible, because the truth is, if you don’t stay healthy as a caregiver, if you allow yourself to be rundown, to become depressed, to be unhealthy, you can’t give good care to the one you’re caring for. And so the best gift you can give to your loved one is to take good care of yourself and sometimes that means taking a break. Even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom for five or 10 minutes and read something or just relax, go take a bubble bath, those are things that you have to do for yourself. So I love that tip. All right, so what’s the next one?

tip two: don’t feel guilty

Kari Gomez  10:42

So the next one goes great with that one, don’t feel guilty about taking your time for yourself. So many caregivers that we’ve talked to over the years will say wow, I feel so bad that I, you know, I have to go to my daughter’s wedding. I always tell family members to say that statement again. You feel bad that you have to go to your daughter’s wedding. I mean, that’s powerful right there. So guilt can do a lot of things. So when you’re making decisions, I know it’s hard not to feel guilty as a mom, as a dad, as a business owner, you know, we all do it. But you have to take care of yourself, you can’t feel guilty about it, so that you can move on and be able to be at peace with those decisions.

 

Liz Craven  11:29

I think that most people who are caregivers deal with guilt on a daily basis for one reason or another.

 

Kari Gomez  11:36

Yep. And it may not be the guilt about doing something, it may be the guilt about making a decision. Sometimes making those tough decisions are exactly that, they’re called tough decisions for a reason. We have to remember that our loved ones, a lot of times, trusted us with decision making. So don’t feel guilty about it. Be confident and be at peace with it.

 

Liz Craven  12:02

That’s very good advice. All right, tip number three.

tip three: Ask for help

Kari Gomez  12:07

This is probably the hardest one. This one comes from me too. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

 

Liz Craven  12:12

Oh yeah.

 

Liz Craven  12:13

And if anybody knows me, when I ask for help, they know something’s up. But as caregivers, don’t be afraid to ask for help, you’d be amazed at how many people might be willing to help. It may be a neighbor, it may be a family member, it may be someone from a church, you never know. But the key when you ask for that help, Be specific. You know, say hey, can you pick up a gallon of milk for me because that’s going to make life easier for you, or pick up your groceries? Or can you come sit at the house and talk to my loved one while I go take that long bubble bath and I don’t have to worry about all the sounds I might hear and stick my earbuds in and relax. People are out there willing to help. There’s so many resources But we have to ask for it and start that process.

 

Liz Craven  13:05

That is so true. I was recently a guest on another podcast called That’s Not Proper! and we had this same conversation. We were talking about the fact that many times people will say to a caregiver, ‘if there’s anything I can do to help you just let me know’, And then the caregiver on the other side is saying, ‘how come everybody says they’re willing to help and then nobody helps?’. And we were like, you know, here’s the reason. When, as a kind of person, you reach out to someone and say, Hey, or even in passing, if there’s anything that I can do to help you let me know, first of all, that caregiver doesn’t know which way is up in any given moment, because they’re busy and they’re overwhelmed. And so that question, how do you answer that? It’s very difficult in the moment to answer a question like that. And then on the other side, the person who says How can I help you, they notice that the caregiver is overwhelmed. And so they don’t want to come back to them again and say now what is it that you need because they want to stay out of their way and let them do their thing. So one solution to that issue, as a caregiver, is to make a list of some things that people can do to help you when you’re feeling overwhelmed. And just keep a running list. It might be a grocery run, it might be to pick your kids up from school so that you don’t have to leave the loved one you’re caring for at home alone. It could be coming once a week and mowing the yard. Anything that might be a help that when somebody says How can I help you email that or hand that list to them and let them choose what they’re comfortable doing for you. Then you’ll have a little bit of assistance that can lighten the load just a little bit for you. And I think that’s one way, there are many ways, but that’s one way that you can help with that situation.

 

Kari Gomez  14:59

Absolutely. I love the list idea. Sometimes I have lists that go on for days. And it’s a satisfaction of crossing things off too when you get that help.

 

Liz Craven  15:09

Yes, absolutely. I think that it takes some pressure off of both parties. That was a great tip. That’s probably one of my favorites. Okay, tip number four.

tip four: Utilize Support groups

Kari Gomez  15:20

Tip number four, utilizing support groups. I know when you’re in the middle of it, or when you’re starting caring for a loved one. Sometimes you feel like you’re all alone. I don’t think anybody’s alone in this process, but if we don’t utilize these support groups, we’re not going to use that energy or use those resources out there. And I know now things are a little bit different for support groups, maybe over the phone, maybe over zoom, maybe outside, but there are so many support groups out there for all different care needs, whether it may be an Alzheimer’s dementia support group, it may be a Parkinson’s support group. It may be a support group of Someone that you just lost a loved one and you’re still caring for, you know, the other family member. So those go back into, you know, again, taking care of yourself. Don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel, talk about those concerns that you’re having or those challenges and utilize those resources that are out there for you. It’s amazing how many different doors and opportunities come up because people will share what they’ve already experienced. And then hopefully, you know, that’ll make you feel better. And then you can take some of those tips and tricks and utilize them for your situation.

 

Liz Craven  16:38

You know, there are also a lot of great online support groups. If you are on Facebook, there are a number of terrific caregiver support groups there and you just have to request to join and answer a couple of questions and you’re in and those are super supportive areas. They’re private, so only the people will within that group, we’re going to see what you say. Most of them are going through a lot of the same things that you have as well. And so a lot of advice comes back from somebody who’s in the trenches with you. Also, on Reddit I’ve found some really great groups, but all over social media. Do you have any suggestions? If someone is looking for a live support group to join? Where do you usually send people to find those?

 

Kari Gomez  17:26

Well, I think like you’re saying, a lot of them are through Facebook, through the different social media outlets, but what I’m also finding is that we’re connecting caregivers, and family members with other family members. I have family members of my own clients who have said, You know what, if you ever have someone that has this particular challenge or something similar, have them call me specifically. And they’re joining. I think there’s so much more readily available now through different church websites through different chambers and different community sites. It’s just a simple Google search. The great thing is some people say, you know what, I’m not tech savvy, guess what, there’s support groups for those too. So if you’re not sure where to start, or you don’t know how to get on the zoom on your phone or something like that, those are simple things that most people can help you set up really quickly and get you comfortable, so that you can get those resources that you need. Also, I know a lot of doctors clinics have those resources available as well.

 

Liz Craven  18:29

Awesome, very good. Tip number five.

tip five: have a plan b

Kari Gomez  18:33

All right, let’s see. Do your research and plan. You know, I tell people again, it’s great if you can take care of your loved one, and I never wish ill will on anybody – I never wish challenges. I wish that as a caregiver, you do go on vacation. So start researching what kind of help you would need for your loved one should you need to go or God forbid there’s an emergency in the family and you need to leave your house for a day, two days, three days, what’s your plan? Do you have a friend, a family, a neighbor that can come stay with your loved one or fill in those gaps? Do you need to work reach out to an agency or some other resources or a facility for a respite stay during that time frame? I think obviously, a big stressor is making those plans in the middle of a crisis. There are lots of people out there that will help, but I always say if you can feel comfortable with those decisions ahead of time, and you can just call the plan into action is going to be a much easier transition than if you’re doing all the research making decisions in the middle of the crisis. And hopefully, you never need the plan.

 

Liz Craven  19:47

I think that we can’t stress that enough. Because typically that’s when we get phone calls, you and I both, when there is a crisis. When something has happened and a family is scrambling to figure out what comes next. And so there should always be a plan A,  plan B, and maybe even a plan C, just to make sure that when you’re faced with a situation that you know what’s coming next and that you’ve planned for it financially, and that you’ve planned for it logistically,

 

Kari Gomez  20:19

I always love the phone calls that we get it says, you know, I’m planning for 10 years from now when I’m going to need some help. And I and I love it because I always say, Well, what does that look like? Well, what I’m 102 I might need some help…and I’m like, God love you if I can make it to 60 and not have any help. I’m there for you. So yeah, but that’s great. That’s what it’s all about is planning and having that resource when you need it. Like you say, we all pay for car insurance or we pay for house insurance. We hope we never need to cash in on it, right? So I hope they don’t have to cash in on our plans, but have one in case.

 

Liz Craven  20:58

Planning is always a good thing. every area of life. How about tip number six?

tip six: don’t think that you need 24/7 help to make a difference

Kari Gomez  21:05

Okay, so say you do need to bring in some outside help, or you do need some resources. Don’t think that you need someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week when you are having to rely on a friend, a family, and an agency. A lot of times the average hours that someone utilizes is 12 to 15 hours a week. And sometimes it’s lower than that, about eight hours. So really see if you’re going to bring in someone to help. What are those important things that you know you want help with? What are those things maybe you don’t feel comfortable doing? For example, sometimes we have adult children that you know, just don’t want to do the bathing or some of the personal care with their family members. So that way, you know, you know that you have some help coming in for those services. And like I said, it’s very rare that someone needs 24 seven care in their home when they’re calling us. And then the other big thing with that when you’re getting that help, make sure it’s someone you trust, and you can actually feel comfortable leaving the house. I always think it’s interesting when we have conversations with families that have us come in, or have someone come in to help, and then they never leave the house, which is fine. That’s not a problem but get to the point where you can feel comfortable leaving the house as well.

 

Liz Craven  22:31

That goes back to self-care, doesn’t it?

 

Kari Gomez  22:34

Yep. Like I said, they’re in no particular order. They all kind of blend off of each other.

 

Liz Craven  22:40

Yes, they do and it’s so important. You have to have a break, you have to have some time away, to clear your head and to just be a person and be yourself. It’s very easy to lose yourself in the caregiving process and to give up all of the things that make you happy and fill You, and you have to be able to fill yourself to be a good caregiver. And I love that tip because it’s super, super important. And I think back to the 24/7 part. There are also a lot of family members involved many times, not all the time. But when there are super important to have a really good conversation with all of the family members involved and figure out who is going to play what role. Maybe there is a family member who’s comfortable doing some of the personal care and that’s their role. Maybe another one is taking care of the finances. Maybe somebody else is doing the grocery shopping, who knows what those are, but I love your advice to figure out what you’re comfortable with. Figure out the things that are in your wheelhouse that you want to do make a list of the things that you don’t feel comfortable doing and figure out how to fill those needs, whether that be bringing in somebody from a home care agency which I highly recommend. We used it, we used you actually, it was a Godsend to have the extra hands to help to do some of the things that needed to be done for my father in law because we were still running a business and kids in college and the whole nine yards. So it’s really important to identify what you’re comfortable doing and what you’re not and then find the help to fill in the gaps.

tip seven: Understand that not everyone is a caregiver

Kari Gomez  24:23

And I think if you take that one step further, as you’re talking with your family members, we have to understand that not everyone is a caregiver. Like you said, there may be a family member that’s like I’ll do the groceries but I’m not doing any they care. There may be family members that say I’m comfortable doing the care. There may be family members that say you know what, let’s get someone else you know, or whatever the situation, things change, lifestyles change at home environments change, and it goes back to not feeling guilty. If you know I’m one of four children. I have three brothers only girl and my parents live with me. So I can’t feel guilty if one of my brothers won’t come and do something, you know, if that point comes, I need to be able to say this is what we need. This is decisions we have to make, and not use that against, you know, my loved ones kind of thing. So I think that’s important to understand like you said, the roles, who’s a caregiver who’s not a caregiver, and sometimes you don’t know that until you’re in that situation?

 

Liz Craven  25:30

True because it’s it can get uncomfortable. I know in my situation, when I was caring for my mom, she placed each of her children in a role herself. It was not ever something that was just completely expressed, but she had names for us all. I was the mommy-daughter. And I wasn’t really crazy about that at the time, for a few reasons. I wanted to be the daughter daughter, but the part of that that I loved was that she trusted me enough to care for her. She knew that I was the person that if something needed to be taken care of, if a decision needed to be made, something needed to be organized if someone was going to watch out for her well being. Not that the other siblings would not, of course, they would. One is in California, the other had children at home, so I was the one that she would turn to, to make sure all of those things were taken care of, but we all had our specific role in her journey. And it was really kind of cool to see that play out. It made things very easy for us as a family when decisions needed to be made, because we all had our roles, and we knew what we were doing.

 

Kari Gomez  26:46

Mm hmm. I could see you as the mommy daughter.

 

Liz Craven  26:50

I was. She thought it was funny and it gave her a lot of joy to tease me that way, so that’s all good. Okay, moving on to the next tip, I believe this takes us to number eight.

Tip Eight: Have the right equipment

Kari Gomez  27:04

Making sure you have the right equipment. What does that look like? Everybody’s slightly different. So making sure you have the right equipment in your house making sure it’s safely set up. There are different companies, different home health agencies, geriatric care managers, that will actually come out and do a safety assessment of the house and make recommendations. Whether it’s a grab bar, whether it’s a certain camera or something with the bathroom setup, the toilet, the showers the bed, and that plays into your loved one safety as well as your safety as the caregiver. Again, we want everybody to be safe. If there’s transferring a lot of people know the term gait belt. Not everybody knows how to use a gait belt. A lot of people understand grab bars, but if they’re not installed properly, they can be just as dangerous as not being there. All. So use those resources to get the information and make sure that you’re set up and understand how the equipment if needs be, is utilized.

 

Liz Craven  28:12

That’s a good tip. Number nine.

tip nine: Communicate

Kari Gomez  28:16

Communication. Communication. I think I’ve kind of probably preached it through the first date as well. Whether it’s communicating with your family member, whether it’s communicating with your loved ones, whether it’s communicating with the help that you decide to bring in to the house, it really boils down to just making sure you’re open and honest, I have not met any mind readers in my 21 years of doing this. And I always tell people, my crystal ball is fuzzy, so you know, if there’s a challenge, if there’s a concern, if there’s a happy thought, communicate it. Everybody loves positive feedback, right? And I think that helps how we grow. It’s interesting when you’re caring for your loved one, and you know this from your own family, one day could be one way, the next day can be another way as different diseases progress and it’s the beauty in the challenge of caring for loved ones. I like a good challenge. I like to be able to be that problem solver and figure out what’s the next step, but until we know what challenges are in the house or the loved ones are developing, it’s really hard to be creative with it.

 

Liz Craven  29:32

That’s the truth. Okay, well, we’re rounding the bend here. What is the last tip of the day? Tip Number 10.

tip ten: remember the good days

29:40

Tip number 10. Remember the good days and know that when there are bad times, sometimes you just have to walk away from a situation, refocus, and regroup. And it’s okay to laugh, cry, be angry, be tired, but need to be able to regroup. And I think that’s just something that, you know, if we all had a reset button and we can just push and it would reset us, that’d be great. But sometimes, well, let’s just be honest, it’s not that easy all the time. But you need to be able to laugh at a situation. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be frustrated, but go back to the previous nine tips, and are you asking for help? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you communicating? If you’re doing all those, I’m not gonna say it’s gonna be an easy road. But it’ll be an easier road.

 

Liz Craven  30:37

And I think in that situation easier is something that any person would take. Give me easier for sure.

 

Kari Gomez  30:45

Absolutely.

 

Liz Craven  30:46

Because it’s all hard!

 

Kari Gomez  30:48

Yeah, it is hard. You know, I am an admirer of my caregivers. I admire my family caregivers. It is not easy. If anybody tells you it is communicating with them and ask them a little bit more.

 

Liz Craven  31:05

I just would love to see and be a fly on the wall to see an easy caregiving process, there are easy days for sure, there are amazing days and I’ll be honest, it’s the greatest privilege and the greatest honor that you can have to care for somebody you love in that way and I wouldn’t trade playing that role in my loved ones lives for anything in the world. My mom, my goodness, that timeframe with her, she had cancer. And so for two and a half years, we journeyed that together. And that gave us a lot of time to talk about a lot of things. And when my mom passed, there was nothing that was left unsaid, and there was no doubt whatsoever for either of us about how the other one felt. And that was a real gift. That was the silver lining that I found in that situation. That was a hard one to find a silver and I’ll tell you, I miss her every single day, but to be able to take those pieces of it along with you when you’re having the hard days, and you turn around and look at how close you’ve become and the things that you’ve shared, that’s pretty amazing and it was for me. I know everybody’s situation doesn’t land that way. But I was very fortunate that that is what came out of it. We were close before her cancer but far closer as she went through it.

 

Kari Gomez  32:29

And sometimes those silver linings aren’t seen right away either. I have family members that will share stuff afterward. And we stay in contact with a lot of our, our clients, families and they share stories afterward that we didn’t know we’re going on. You have to cherish those moments you have to make the best of the great times and hold on to them.

 

Liz Craven  32:51

Thank you for that. That’s awesome. Well, you know what? I think I would like to do a really quick little bonus tip. Tell us when Someone is trying to choose which agency that they’ll use. What are a few tips that you can give as it relates to what to look for?

Bonus tip: what to look for in a home care agency

Kari Gomez  33:10

I think the biggest thing is really understanding the agency and having that connection. With Home Instead, we have a tagline that says ‘it’s personal to us’. And it truly is. When you’re inviting someone into your home. It is extremely personal. And I sometimes relate it to, because most of our clients at one point or another probably had a child or a younger family member they cared for, or they took them to school, kind of like we were talking in the beginning for that first day of school, and they had to feel comfortable with things. Ask the questions, understand. Who are our caregivers, Where do they come from? What do we do to train them? How do we find them? What background screenings? There’s nothing wrong with asking those questions of an agency. Understand the history of the agency. Is it brand new? Has it been around for years? Ask for those references. You know, it’s interesting. We asked references for employees asked for references of agencies that we’ve worked with and other people that we’ve worked with. But I think the biggest thing that I tell people all the time is you have to feel it in your heart, that you’re comfortable with these people coming into your home these caregivers, taking care of our precious population. And let’s be honest, your precious family member. We actually, when we talk to family members looking for our caregivers, one of the questions we ask a reference is would you be comfortable with this person caring for your loved one? That’s a pretty powerful question. And that’s the same way we look at every one of our caregivers when I meet them, is would you be comfortable sending this person to your own home.

 

Kari Gomez  34:56

That’s important because they become part of your family, I can tell you that from experience our caregivers were people that we grew to love and trust completely. And they in return loved us back. And it was evident. It was a wonderful experience for us. And I know that not every family can afford it, but I’ll tell you, it has caused us to really take a look at our planning for the future to make sure that resources would be available, should we ever need that ourselves so that our children won’t be stressed about providing care for us. So I think it’s a real benefit and if people have the ability to utilize it, I think they should.

 

Kari Gomez  35:39

There are so many different resources out there for that as well.

 

Liz Craven  35:43

So do you have any favorite stories about favorite clients or something to share?

 

Kari Gomez  35:50

I myself, you know, it’s interesting as the owner of a home health agency. I tease people all the time that I don’t know if I’m a caregiver You know, by my definition of what my caregivers do, but I am I know I am. And I think the best thing was, I really had to take time when I purchased the agency and I to really understand what all my different departments have gone through my different department heads, my caregivers, my on-call my HR. So there is a weekend. It actually was Mother’s Day weekend last year, where I was like, Alright, I’m going to do on call. So I took all the on-call phone calls, I took all the calls to reports and you know, whatnots that go along with that. But we had a situation where a family member of a caregiver called in and they had a family emergency and I had to get that caregiver off shift to go to that family pretty quickly. So I went to the client’s house and called the next shift that was coming in and said what time can you get here? So the caregivers like I could be there by five o’clock. I don’t remember what time I said, Okay, well, I can go, I’ll stay with the client. So there’s another caregiver who can leave, went in the client was extremely nice, didn’t say much to me, made sure dinner was done and things were tightened up around the house. And then as soon as that caregiver walked through the door, and this is a caregiver that’s been with him for about two years, so they have quite the relationship. He just lit up like a Roman candle and didn’t stop talking the whole time. Now, I kind of felt like the third wheel at that point. But it was extremely reassuring to me to see that level of comfort. The see that level of peace of mind that he knew his caregiver was there, he was safe. He was just as happy as he could be. Even though he was safe with me that relationship that the caregivers build. And we don’t always get to see that from the office. You know, we don’t get to see those relationships all the time. So I think that’s a pretty memorable moment that happened for me. And it probably, you know, unfortunately, there is an emergency for me to see it. But it gave me that little bit of surprise insight into my caregivers and my clients’ world.

Thank for listening & next week

Liz Craven  38:14

It is an incredible sight. I’ve seen it firsthand, and I tell you, their relationships and the care that comes from them, and how they respond to not just the person they’re caring for, but for the whole family is a beautiful thing. So thank you for what you and your team provide. It’s pretty incredible. And I know that all across the country, there are more people just like you doing the same jobs. So if you don’t live in Central Florida, it’s okay. You’re going to find an agency that can serve you just as well. Well, Kari, thank you for being here to share tips today. I know that for a lot of people, they don’t understand the importance of the little things that we have to pay attention to for caregivers. Our caregivers are heroes, what they do every day is hard. And I want you to know that you’re not alone in this journey. We’re here to help you to bring you great information to bring you access to tools and resources to make your jobs easier. Know that we’re thinking about you and know that we care about you. And we want you to take very good care of yourself. You know, being a caregiver is hard. We’re proud of you for all the work that you do. So keep up the good work. If you remember nothing else. Remember that self care is not selfish. It’s actually the best gift that you can give to the one you’re caring for. So make sure you find a little time for you. Thank you for finding a few minutes to listen and to be with us today. I appreciate that you take your time out of your day to do that. I know your time is limited. So next week, come back we’ll be chatting with Trinity Laurino of Lkldnow. It is a little departure from the typical kind of conversation that we have here on Sage aging, but Trinity is going to talk to us about the media and the news and how to figure out what is good information and what is misinformation. You won’t want to miss that conversation. It’s absolutely fascinating. If you found value in today’s conversation, I’d love it if you would click Subscribe now and share the staging podcast with a friend. And if you have topic ideas, or you have guests that you’d like me to invite to the show, drop me a line at info@sageaging.us make it a great day everyone. Thanks for listening

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.