Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!
Rayna Neises, ACC, host, and Aly Neises, RN, cohost, reflect on last week’s conversation with Amy Rienow. As the mom of seven, Amy’s experiences in raising her children and the things that she has learned in that role translate to those who are caregiving for a parent or loved one. Additional insights shared:
- Stepping back to look at the bigger picture can help gain perspective and see when things that seem like boulders are just pebbles.
- Adjust standards and find what works for you . . . When constantly driving to reach the ideal, there is no joy and no happiness.
- Ask the questions: “Are you happy?”; “Are you healthy?”; “Are they fed?”; “Are they loved?” . . . If you get yeses, then feel like you have done what you need to do.
- It is normal to feel guilty from time to time and recognizing what is causing the guilt allows you to move forward.
- We each bring different things to the person we are caring for, so it is important to have a team of different personalities.
- Be a teachable expert:
- Learn from others and your own mistakes
- Be bendable and flexible
- Be a sponge to absorb and learn what you can
- You are doing great and realize that what you are doing is important.
*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
Welcome to November and more importantly, welcome to National Family Caregivers Month. This is the month that we set aside to say, Thank You. To acknowledge all the things that you do for those that you love. From the baths, to the cleaning of house, to the shopping, even just the comfort that you bring to those that you are caring for. We just want to say, thank you! This year’s National Family Caregiver theme is “Caregiving Around the Clock”. And we know that the job that you’re doing is an around the clock job, not necessarily physically, but definitely emotionally. Coming alongside of an aging parent, is such an emotional process. And I just want to come alongside you this month by offering you a few free gifts from A Season of Caring. Join us on my Facebook page, A Season of Caring for Aging Parents to learn more about the free opportunities that will be offered throughout the month. I have a free workshop planned that you can learn more about at our Facebook page, as well as some free downloads and a very special podcast on Thanksgiving Day. Thanks again for all that you’re doing. And now off to our regularly scheduled podcast.
Rayna Neises: 1:34
Welcome to A Season of Caring Podcasts where there’s hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets. This is Rayna Neises, your host and Aly Neises, your cohost. Today we’re going to be revisiting Amy Rienow’s conversation about moms. And since many of us find ourselves in the sandwich generation, of both juggling our responsibilities as a mom and as a caregiver, I just felt like she was a really great guest to be able to talk about some of those common things. And there’s so much, that’s the same that we struggle with as being moms that we also struggle with in being caregivers. Amy really reiterated that we’ve got to let go of the guilt, just kick it to the curb and perfectionism will be one of the quickest ways to get us in trouble as well.
I agree completely. I love that Amy has this different perspective on it. Because she has been a mom, but she’s been a mom of seven.
Like that is a crew, people. We’re not talking about one or two, not that that’s bad. It’s just, that’s a lot of people. It’s a lot of personality. I mean, she even talks about it. How no two children will be raised in the house the same. They may be a lot of like in a lot of ways, but there is a lot of differences. And I think that also is mirrored when we’re talking about taking care of our parents. They raised us, they helped shape the people that we are, but that doesn’t mean that we’re the same people now that we were then, as children. And I also think there’s one difference that, Amy talked about, our relationship with a parent is different than a relationship with a child. In a child situation when you’re a caregiver of a child, you have authority. You can pull the mom or dad card. Can’t really do that with your parents. You do this because I said so, yeah, that’s going to go over like, well, it’s just not honest. And, and honestly it wouldn’t go over very well with me either. If somebody was like, you’re going to do this because I said so. We’ve talked about that, talked about before, about how we need to respect our elders and have a conversation and treating them with dignity and so that we can walk them all the way home. Our goal is for everyone to be happy and healthy and sometimes that means we got to flex, so we got to bend. And that’s okay. I do love that Amy talked about when she first became a mom, it was really hard. She was struggling getting ready in the morning. And she was worried about what people are gonna think, what people are going to think about her. If her hair was all a mess and she was in her pajamas till 10:30 and finally one day she was like, you know what? It’s not that big a deal. It’s not that big a deal. So I think accepting that we all have this perfect, I shouldn’t say we all have that. A lot of people that do this caregiving thing. I think we, I guess I should speak for myself. I have this perfectionism in me. That makes it hard sometimes. And I beat myself up when I make mistakes. And then, so if I step back and look at the bigger picture, what I’m doing, why I’m doing what I’m doing and putting the perspective back on who I’m taking care of. It’s going to be much easier to give myself some grace and to let some of those things that I was really hung up on before, to let them go. It’s not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things and the things that seem like boulders are probably really just pebbles.
I agree. I think there’s things within our perfectionism that are huge roadblocks for us, but I also think there are certain things that we need in order for us to function best. So one of the things I thought was, she’s like, I’m just being vulnerable here. I’m a night owl and I’m like, I’m a night owl too. And so it’s difficult for me. I don’t want to do early mornings, but I still do life. And sometimes as caregivers, we can let go of those things to such a point that we don’t even get up and get a shower at all. And I think that can also happen with moms, you can just get so relaxed in a schedule that you don’t even put yourself in a place where you have a routine that gives you energy and gives you the things that you need to make your day productive. So when it can all things, I think there’s a balance, but the perfectionism is not helpful at all ever when we’re just holding this random standard up. And if I’m saying, my standard is you have to be up at this time. You have to be showered and dressed and ready to go. That doesn’t work for everybody. And that’s okay. But you do need to find what works for you to make sure that you are being able to be productive and make the most of your time in that day with that person or with your kids. And I loved how she talked about just adjusting those standards. What is your minimum? And then what is the ideal? And we can shoot for the ideal, but when we are constantly just driven to reach that ideal, that’s when there is no joy, there’s no happiness. The person we’re caring for isn’t happy either. It’s just affected everything. I think perfection is an issue. I think that most caregivers are the type of personality that there is this really high expectation for ourselves. I agree. Taking that step back and getting the big picture can help us to relieve that. I think also making that list in a very black and white way, what is the minimum and those things have to happen. I need to figure out how to make those things happen.
And celebrating those things when they do happen. It doesn’t have to be like a party because you got everything done on your list, but if it’s something that you have been putting off, or even if you’ve just achieved the bare minimum today, at least you achieve the bare minimum today. It’s okay. You’re going to have good days and bad days. That is just life. We got to roll with it and get up tomorrow, whether the sun shining or not, and just keep doing it. So, extending yourself, grace and understanding that there are days that the bare minimum is going to seem impossible. And so making sure that even your bare minimum is attainable because sometimes I think that even sometimes my bare minimum is probably not even something that is sometimes attainable, especially if it’s just a really bad day. And I think too, Just scrapping the day and starting over fresh tomorrow, letting it go, moving on and keep going forward. You can’t get caught up in the, Oh, I should have done all the laundry. I didn’t get all that laundry done. And it’s it’s okay. Are they happy? Are they healthy? Are they fed? Are they loved? If you can answer those questions, I feel like you have done what you needed to do.
I love too, that reminder to celebrate one of the tips that I give caregivers that I work with is many times, we make it to-do list at the beginning of the day. Right? I have all of these things we want to accomplish. and like you said, there are many times unrealistic list of all these things to do. Sometimes I ask you to switch it over and make it a, to-done list. And at the end of the day, actually celebrate, we did lunch. I got dinner, fixed, hot, ready? I got a load of laundry done. I got them their meds all on time. What things did you actually get to-done? Because so many of those things that are on your to-do are above and beyond the norm. And when you’re having a tough day, just getting the norm done is really accomplishing a lot. Being able to celebrate it totally shifts our brain and it helps us to see that we have been working hard and we are doing valuable and important work. And learning to celebrate that and have gratitude for those things really can make us, have a better perspective and let go of that perfectionism.
I agree completely. I think another thing that Amy talks about quite frequently, that we all can identify is guilt. You know, she talked a lot about the mom guilt, the feeling that you’re not enough that you haven’t done enough, that you’ll never be enough. That you should be doing this better. You should be. The one all end all be all. It’s just not reality. So I think that, acknowledging that guilt, knowing that it’s normal to feel guilty from time to time. Once we recognize that there’s guilt, we can move forward. We can move past it. It’s easier to attain and move towards other issues that you may be having if you just acknowledge that you had the guilt, we think. Sometimes that’s the biggest mountain to climb is to be like, I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine. When really you just, you feel guilty and that’s okay too.
The woulds, the shoulds, the coulds, those are all things that get us in trouble. I should do this. I should do that. Just making sure that we’re realizing that anytime we’re saying I should have gotten this done, that that is an unrealistic thing we’re putting on ourselves and we’re probably feeling guilty about. So being able to, again, just see what it is that maybe is causing us that guilt and realizing that, if we’re really not doing what needs to be done, we’re gonna figure out a way to get it done. But when we’re just having that false guilt, it just, it doesn’t make for a good life for anybody. And so I really did appreciate the way she talked about that, of how true repentance brings you closer together, guilt pushes you away. It brings that shame and it makes you hide. It makes you, isolate and that’s not going to be healthy for any relationship. The other thing I thought was really interesting is as she was talking about, moms hearts and mom’s love for their kids is different than a dad. I think that just reminded me again of just the teamwork that I hope that our listeners have with others, that each of us bring different things to the person that we’re caring for. And by having other personalities, other people that are working with us and caring for our loved one, it gives us the opportunity to appreciate the things that are different about them. To tap out when we need to and get the help and assistance that we need. I thought that was just really helpful to kind of think of. Just because you’re the loved one. You’re the daughter. You’re the son. Your love for that person you’re caring for is going to be deeper and different than a person maybe that you’re paying to come in and care for your loved one, but it doesn’t make it not good. It makes it different and that’s okay.
No. I mean, we’ve talked about that too. Building that team, building that support around you, picking people that have commonalities with you. That understand what the goal is and understand what the journey that you’re walking on through this season so that they can actually help you. I think it’s okay to also shop around. If that person doesn’t work out, like you thought it would, it’s okay to move on. In fact, it’s going to be better for everyone involved than trying to force this relationship to work. No one’s going to work that way. It’s not going to be beneficial. And I think it’s going to lose sight of what the actual goal is and that’s to walk our loved ones all the way home. You know, the focus needs to be that that’s our goal. So build that team, find those people, build your tribe.
One other thing that Amy mentioned was that term, teachable expert. I loved that. I totally related to that because that teachable spirit is so important in everything in life, but definitely as a caregiver. Realizing that I don’t have all the answers. I haven’t done this before. I haven’t done this for this person before, because I might’ve done it for others, but no two people are alike. No two teams are alike but just being teachable is so important. I find that most people have difficulty putting on the expert part. And I loved how she said that as just being a mom, you are an expert of your children I totally agree with that. I was the expert of my dad and when I found a doctor who understood that I was the expert in my dad’s behaviors. That allowed us to work together in a completely different way. Realizing that each person who’s caring for them and loves them and is really in tune with them is an expert in that person. They’re going to bring out different things in the person, but they also have an expertise that we can learn from. And so I just thought what an amazing concept to really get some ownership, around being a teachable expert around the person you’re caring for.
I agree. I love that. Amy talked about that she’s been being a mom for a very long time. Her kids are pretty spread out. So there’s been this huge learning curve for her, from her first child to her last, which happens all the time. And the same with, like you said, we need to be teachable as caregivers too. We may have taken care of 30 other people before we’re taking care of this person that we’re taking care of now. But those 30 other people are not the same as this person. So learning from others, learning from our own mistakes, learning from this situation, be teachable, be bendable, be flexible, be a sponge, absorb, learn, do everything you can. If you keep the common core of what we’re doing and keeping your eye on the goal and the prize, and know that you making the best decision for your loved one, make sure that you’re making the best decision for yourself. Then that expert part is going to come easy. That’s going to come second hand. No big deal. The teachable part is the hard part.
I think though, as we are being teachable, that we also have to own the knowledge that we gain by being teachable. So, because we are teachable, we become an expert. If we’re not teachable, we can’t become an expert in that person, but when we’re investigating and we’re learning and we’re trying new things, different ways. I was just talking to a gentleman. Who’s caring for his dad and they’re facing some challenges with getting meds down at night. And we were just brainstorming different things to try to get his dad who has dementia to take his meds. And not that I was an expert in his dad. But I had experienced with my dad, so I was able to offer, and he was totally teachable and open to saying, I haven’t thought of that, or we’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. So I think the more teachable we are, the more we become an expert in the person that we’re caring for. But in order to be that advocate that we need to be, we have to take ownership of the expertise that we have. And sometimes people are a little hesitant to do that.
I love that aspect as well as that, sometimes we also have to remember that just because something didn’t work one time or a couple of times doesn’t mean it isn’t going to work this time. I mean, we’ve talked about that before, especially when we’re dealing with elderly people that we’re caring for that have dementia. It’s a ball game changes every day. And not just the place that we’re playing, but the teams and the position. And sometimes even the sport, you know, it’s different. Yesterday, we were playing baseball today we’re playing basketball and no one knows who home team is and it’s okay. But I love that even being open to suggestions and things like that is a great way to learn. And, taking ownership, like you mentioned, understanding that you do know your family. You do know your loved one. That is why you’re doing this. You’re doing great. Keep doing it.
Realizing that you do know when something’s wrong and it’s okay to say, even if they aren’t saying it to say something’s off. I found as we were dealing with doctors, that being able to give examples of changes in behavior, helped them to see symptoms that maybe they weren’t seeing. Really watching how much we’re eating, how well we’re having bowel movements. Just a lot of those little daily things that you become an expert of really does make a difference That information can really change what the doctor knows about the situation and helps you to be able to treat them best. So again, I just love that. Put your teachable expert hat on, along with your advocate and your cheerleader, and your there’s so many hats that are involved in this process. But, as Aly said, you’re doing great and just continue to realize that what you’re doing is important and you’re doing a good job of it. And if you find yourself in the same as a generation, you know, really look for how you can cross apply what you’re learning, because what’s working with your kids might also work with the person you’re caring for.
A hundred percent. I think you hit the nail on the head. When you talk about physicians and talking to them about what things you are looking at. As a medical professional we only see them for a snippet of time and it may just be during that visit, whereas you’ve seen them for the last three weeks. So if you can be very descriptive about what exactly is different or why you feel they’re off, it helps us tremendously on trying to figure out what’s going on. If it’s undescript and you can’t really put your finger on it, it’s harder. But knowing that there is something wrong is okay too, alert us of that. Let us know. Cause we can dig and try to figure out what is happening.
So taking on that teachable expert hat, kicking the guilt to the curb and perfectionism are some of the things that I think really can make this caregiving season one that will bring you joy, step into this role and really just love your loved one well, and walk them all the way home. Remember that the guilt you’re experiencing is probably not fair or realistic because you’re in the trenches. You’re the one who’s working hard, who’s loving well, who’s sacrificing for your loved one. And so keep doing it. You’re doing a great job. We know that it’s not easy. And we also know the person you’re caring for might not be as appreciative as you would like them to be. But we appreciate what you’re doing. And I know that as you’re trying to care for your kids and your loved one, it’s a lot, but you’re doing a good job. Thanks again for joining us today, listeners. And just a reminder, A Season of Caring Podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have medical, financial, or legal questions, please contact your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.
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