Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!

Benefits of Day Stay Programs

Episode 56

Rayna Neises, ACC, host, and Karen Weaver, PCC, co-host, revisit last week’s interview with Aaron Blight who shared his insights from his personal family caregiving experience as well as his professional expertise in helping other caregivers and caregiver organizations.  Additional thoughts discussed:

      • Although you cannot always prepare for the caregiving season, you can choose how you respond.  Do you put your head in the sand and keep doing what you are doing, or do you find the experts, ask the questions, get the information you need?
      • It is important to identify as a caregiver and to maintain your hat/role as a daughter/son or wife/husband.  Remember that you are stepping in to help meet their needs, not giving up your original role.
      • Take the time to pause, observe, and ask yourself what could have been done differently.
      • Take time to figure out your caregiving style.  When you are not doing things within that area, you are probably building resentment.
      • Self-care is the small, everyday things that you do to address your needs to keep you healthy and at your best.
      • Having a team for your loved one helps you with self-care and helps you have time for reflection.
      • We need to find team members who are both competent and compassionate and we need to also find that in ourselves.


*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Rayna Neises: 

Welcome to A Season of Caring Podcast, where there’s hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets. This is Rayna Neises, your host, and Karen Weaver, your cohost. And today we’re going to revisit our interview with Aaron Blight. Wow. Aaron had some amazing, amazing background and just some real wisdom from his own experience with his family. I just really enjoyed hearing him visit about his book and just all the things that he’s engaged in now and helping caregivers.

Karen Weaver: 

I really had an appreciation for the story he told about how he was young and writing policy that impacted the medical and the caregiving industry, but he didn’t have a clue about what he was doing until he had the personal experience with his mother-in-law. I mean, what an eye opener that must’ve been. And it also made me think about how there have been times in my life when I have been, writing policy or procedures or something for someone, but didn’t have a true appreciation or understanding until I was in that situation myself. And I think it makes such a difference in how you’re able to do your job. Cause, you to really know what the people are feeling that you are trying to help do your policy.

Rayna Neises: 

I think that’s true. And listeners even just maybe putting the shoe on the other foot and realizing that there’s people in your life that might be frustrating to you because they don’t get it because they haven’t been here before. And it’s not because they don’t want to. And it’s not because they think they know more than you. It’s because they haven’t walked in your shoes. And so that was what came to mind when he was talking about those. It’s a whole different ball game. When you put the shoes on and you walk the walk every day,

Karen Weaver: 

Oh, Yes. Absolutely. And then when he went on to talk about just not being prepared, when he had that experience come up with his mother-in-law and that’s sort of what it felt like, I can so relate. I mean, how prepared were you in when you had your caregiving experience? What was that like for you? Did you feel prepared? I mean, I don’t know if you can be prepared, I don’t know.

Rayna Neises: 

Yeah, I agree. I don’t know that you can be prepared because we just don’t know what the future holds for sure. But I would say that’s one of the things I had. I was on a podcast the other day, and somebody asked me about, you know, the name of her book is No Regrets. Do you really have no regrets? And I’m like, that is a really strong statement, but I think it depends a little bit about how you define regrets. Because when I look back at how I took care of my mom, I was young. I mean, I was 16 when she was diagnosed and I was feeding her and taking her to the bathroom when I was in my early twenties. So how prepared could I be at that age? And do I have regrets? I don’t think I did anything I regret, but are there things I wish I had done? Are there conversations? I wish I had had with her before she lost her words? Yes. Were there things that do I wish I had supported my dad better, if I had realized how hard it was day in and day out, but I wasn’t walking those shoes. I was just being the daughter popping in, helping when I could. So I don’t think you can be prepared necessarily, but my key in that is. You can always adjust. So when you find yourself not handling it well or something not going well, then you can find more. So if you’re walking into a season and the person is incontinent, you can do the research to become more prepared. And that to me is the most important thing is that as each thing comes at you, how do you respond? You put your head in the sand and just keep doing the same old thing, or do you find the experts, find the support, ask the questions and get the information and you need.

Karen Weaver: 

All right. It’s like the saying that we have no control over what happens to us on this journey. We only have control ourselves and how we respond and caregiving. So that can be something that can be a major interruption or disruption to our way of life. I mean, when my, when my husband had a massive stroke at 39. I mean, our children were young and this changed our whole way of being and I, I didn’t have a clue what I needed. It was really just sort of trial and error as I moved along. And pretty soon people will call on me for advice It was kind of comical from where I started but the other thing, I, I really enjoy hearing, thinking brothers, this whole idea of relationships, how relationships change and what did you do with that? I mean, and I thought about myself as the the daughter and the caregiver for my dad and then the wife and the caregiver as I take care of my husband. I mean, that’s a huge adjustment to make some times because it’s, it’s not only a physical adjustment, but it is definitely an emotional and mental adjustment as well. To really wrap your mind around, what this looks like. Cause I mean, when my husband is like, he still thinks of me as his wife, you know? And so it’s not like, he wants to miss out on having a wife because I’m a caregiver. My dad’s is not so much at the same place because he has Alzheimer’s and so he’s at a different place right now in his mind.

Rayna Neises: 

I do love that point too, because that’s one of the things I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately is why is it so important to embrace the caregiver label? You know, I think we don’t identify as a caregiver. Like you said, we’ve stumbled into this role and sometimes it can take us a really long time to even embrace it and take on that hat or take on that label. And I think this is exactly why, because if you don’t label yourself as a caregiver, then you forget to be the other roles. Instead of being, we know it drives me crazy when people say they parent their parents. And that’s because when you take on a parent role to your parent, you’re mothering them. You’re not the daughter and you’re not a caregiver. There’s a difference.

Karen Weaver: Absolutely.

Rayna Neises: 

role and a caregiver role are different than a mother role. And a wife role is definitely different than a mother role. So you might share some of those tasks that are similar, but when you really identify yourself appropriately, then you actually are able to serve them better. You’re able to love them better because you understand this is a role in which I’m doing some tasks that they need. I’m stepping in and helping meet their need. But it doesn’t mean I’m giving up the other role. It doesn’t mean I’m not the daughter too. And I think it’s important to figure out how to be more than one thing at the same time, or to say, I’m going to take some time and I’m going to just be the daughter. I’m going to have fun. I’m going to focus on those that are joyful. So.

Karen Weaver: 

Yes. And that’s why I appreciate him sharing about his book and the fact that he had reflective questions in the book, because I do think that in this role of caregiving, it is important to take some time be reflective. That balance between reflective versus reactive. love just hearing the tension. What are your thoughts about that?

Rayna Neises: 

I think that’s part of what I did differently. When I talk to other caregivers, I hear all the reactions diff States and in the moment, what else are we going to be? Okay. Reactive. I mean, in the moment, I mean, reflective is is you know, hindsight’s 2020. It is. But when you reflect is the key, how often do you reflect, is the key? Right. So I often say, the 220 mile drive was not a lot of fun. But it sure gave me a lot of time to think.

Karen Weaver: Yes.

Rayna Neises: 

Every single week after I walked away from those three days of caring for my dad, I had that reflective time in the car. That honestly, a lot of times it was a conversation between me and the Lord. Okay, Lord, how can I handle that differently? What did I need to do differently? Or what, why did I do that? You know, just really asking myself those questions that helped me to look back with no regrets because I did stop and reflect and say that didn’t work. I need to figure out something else, because this is driving me batty he didn’t like it when I did it that way. So how can I do it differently? So I think that reflection is a huge key to being able to do it with no regrets.

Karen Weaver: 

Yeah, but just being able to pause. And observe what’s going on. What’s your feeling? Acknowledge the emotion. And then like you said acknowledge if just, something has not gone well. And taking the time to really ask yourself, what could I have done differently? Or what could I have done to get closer to the outcome that I was hoping to achieve? So that that’s really all, all a part of it.

Rayna Neises: I think it’s important that we realize that we probably aren’t going to eliminate the reactiveness of it altogether because that’s human. And in the moment we react, but limiting how often we’re living in the reaction and how long the reaction impacts us is where reflection comes in to help us change that.

Karen Weaver: 

Absolutely Rayna you know you sound like a coach now. The coaching is coming out. Oh, be sure. You know, in that coaching moment, I would say to people, this could be a coaching opportunity. Certainly you’re feeling frustration or you’re reacting with some other type of emotion that is not necessarily serving you well. This could be an opportunity to have some conversation with someone else. And that leads us into his next great point, which was talking about you don’t have to do this alone. And a lot of times, when we’re feeling these emotions that are not helpful in the long run, we’re not thinking clearly thinking about having other support us. We’re thinking that this is my job. I have to do this. This is my responsibility. I’m being the responsible daughter or the responsible wife or whatever. And no one else can do it as well as I can do it. And no one else who wants to do it. But that’s where we really need to have other people understand as caregivers that you can do something different. And he spoke about the team and I know you, Rayna, you did a great job of pulling together a team. You talk about that a little bit in your book? No Regrets. And so talk a little bit about that now, the, the team approach.

Rayna Neises: 

I’m not sure what made me think so much that way, other than I needed a team, I didn’t live there all the time. And if I was going to be able to keep him at home and have the opportunity to go and spend time with him and then leave. And leave it there and come back to my family and engage with my husband and be with my son and all of those things. I needed a team. I needed to have people I could count on and I could know for a fact they understood the expectations and they were going to care for him and love him as much or as close to as possible as I did. And so I do think it’s so important to realize, you can’t do this alone. I say it all the time, but really your team is anybody you choose to put on it. My husband was a team member for me. He didn’t go to Kansas City very often. He was at home on the farm, working and doing all the other things at home, but he was a member of the team because every night at 11 o’clock, we had a conversation. And every weekend when I came home, we debriefed. So he was an important part of that team. But he wasn’t physically there with my dad all the time. So sometimes I think people need to broaden the perspective of who’s on their team and understand that different team members have different roles. I talk to people all the time who are long distance caregivers. Now, they won’t even put that label on. I don’t live by my mom. I don’t live by my dad. I’m eight hours away and my sister, she lives right next door. She lives in the same town or whatever. No, you’re still a part of the team. Take some initiative to be a part of the team, to influence what’s happening, to understand how important your role is because you can’t be replaced. If you don’t engage, they’re missing you. And so I just think helping people really get a better perspective of what a team is, and that comes back again to the Caring Quiz. I can’t emphasize enough how helpful that can be. And I know I created it, but the Caring Quiz really helps you see what your caring personality is. And then the opportunity to go back and really look at the other people on your team. And see what their personalities are. And then the next step is evaluate, who’s doing what and make sure that you’re finding yourself doing those things, which come within your caring style. And if you’re not doing things in your caring style, you’re probably building resentment. And that I think is part of what you were saying. Whenever I should do this because I’m the daughter.

Karen Weaver: Right,

Rayna Neises: Not necessarily.

Karen Weaver: 

Right, right. Well, absolutely. And I think sometimes we think it’s an easy job or we think that it’s not as complex as it is, but a lot goes into the caregiving role is when I’m only talking about care for the person, we’re talking about financial needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs. So there are a lot of things going on all at one time, and it’s not only taking care of the loved one, but it’s also learning how to take care of yourself. That came through clear. And we’ve talked about that many time, self care, self care, self care. I’m sure people get tired of hearing the say it, but if we don’t take care of ourselves, then we will not be able to take care of other people.

Rayna Neises: 

We really can’t, so I can’t say it enough. And I agree with you. I know, even in the caregiving season, I hated hearing about self care, cause it just seemed like this crazy thing that wasn’t doable. So I hope that our listeners hear that self-care is doable and that self-care is small everyday things that you do to address your needs, to keep you healthy, to keep you at your best. So you can give your best to your loved one. So I’m going to plug it again, CaringQuiz.com, find out your personality so that you can really embrace the team because it really isn’t going to make a difference. It makes self care possible. That was one thing that when you were talking Karen and I thought about too, if you are doing it all, you don’t have time for reflection.

Karen Weaver: Absolutely.

Rayna Neises: 

You’re too tired. You’re too drained. There’s too much going on. If you don’t have a team, you won’t have reflection.

Karen Weaver: 

That is, that is so true. And then the other piece, like, I don’t want to miss before we go, is this piece about how he also reached out to those caregivers who are part of organizations. I think it’s important for us to take care of the caregivers in the home, but I think it’s important to have good training and insight for those who are a part of agencies and that balance of competency and compassion is huge because it’s so different when you are from an agency, and this is not your parent. This is that your child or your spouse. And you want someone who’s competent, but at the same time, if you don’t have the compassion, it’s not going to work. It’s not going to be a good fit. And you’re not going to be happy or satisfied with the services that you’re paying for.

Rayna Neises: 

I loved that when he boiled that down, because it was the exact word that I had kind of been searching for what it was that was missing from those people, honestly, that I fired. I mean, part of in the No Regretsbook, I talk about hiring and firing because it is a part, your a manager as a caregiver. You’re managing these other team members and there are some people that do not belong on your team. It is just true. And it’s those people that did not have the compassion. They didn’t have the connection with my dad because they didn’t have the compassion. So I think it is so important. It is a job to some people, they are making a living, but they can also have compassion with the person that they’re caring for. So they can be both competent and compassionate. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Karen Weaver: 

And you can use each other with folks who are looking at it as a job versus as a calling, a ministry, the way of serving other people. It, it’s a huge difference in the way they show up, in their way of being, the way they interact with their loved one. It’s, totally different for sure.

Rayna Neises: 

Like you said, I love that he is making himself available to really talking to these agencies as an expert, which he is, but then also being able to, just challenge them to understand better the dynamic of what’s happening from a caregiver to a person who’s receiving it and how those roles impact it. His book, very interesting content, so I really encourage people to take a look at it. Not only those reflective questions, but just his breadth of background. It really does give some different insight into those relationships and how to find both that competent and compassion in yourself because you need to be a competent caregiver. But then always making sure you aren’t experiencing that compassion fatigue that we hear about as well.

Karen Weaver: Right. I agree.

Rayna Neises: 

Thank you so much, Karen, for the opportunity to just talk some more about Dr. Blight and his information, he was full of lots of great thoughts and listeners I hope that you found today some new things to keep chewing on and really process how you’re doing in your caring season. Just a reminder, a season of caring podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have any medical, financial, or legal questions, be sure to contact your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.

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Meet Your Hosts

Rayna Neises and Karen Weaver

Rayna Neises, ACC

Your Host

An ICF Certified Coach, Author of No Regrets:  Hope for Your Caregiving Season, Podcaster, & Speaker, offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected.

Karen Weaver, PCC

Your Co-Host

An ICF Certified Coach, Author, and Caregiver Advocate offers a safe space for self-discovery and self-reflection through career and life coaching.

Her passion is to support and empower those navigating change from a holistic perspective.  

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