Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!
This week, Rayna Neises, your host, talks with Jammie Johnson. Jammie is an academic advisor, motivational speaker, and certified caregiver. She founded The Caregivers Friend in hopes of helping others based on her experiences as a caregiver for her aunt and both of her parents. She enjoys life and encourages others to do the same. She provides the following insights:
- Utilize Four Steps to keep your peace during caregiving:
- Be flexible. Adjust and keep moving.
- Use your resources. Find what is already out there vs. spending time researching on your own.
- Commit to self-care. Identify the little things that work for you.
- Build a tribe. You will be surprised at everyone willing to help if you ask.
- Involve others by finding a task they are comfortable with or something they are already doing themselves (i.e., grocery shopping, washing clothes, running to the bank).
- You have depended on your parents all your life. In the caregiving role, there is a shift where they depend on you and that is not comfortable.
- Remember to have compassion for your loved one’s experience.
- Balance is key for your work, family, and personal life.
- Visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/thecaregivercrew and request to join the group to get the encouragement that you need from Jammie for your caregiving season.
*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
[00:00:00] Rayna Neises: “I think patience is the greatest lesson that I learned as a caregiver throughout my caregiving journey. While I was being stretched, overwhelmed, tired, and often frustrated. It was my loved ones that were in the most difficult place.” My guest today shares with us, her caregiving journey and how she would like to support caregivers.
[00:00:22] 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 today I have special guest Jammie. Jammie Johnson is an academic advisor, motivational speaker and certified caregiver who enjoys helping people. Jamie was a caregiver to both of her parents and an aunt.
[00:00:42] After her mother’s passing, she founded The Caregivers Friend where she provides resources, tips, and strategies to help caregivers navigate their caregiving journey with peace. Jamie has traveled extensively throughout the United States to 36 states, to several countries and territories in Eastern Asia, and Canada.
[00:01:01] She’s single fun, loving, enjoys life, and is always looking for an opportunity to witness and encourage those whose path she crosses to live a life of their fullest, potential both naturally and spiritually. Her favorite scripture is Psalm 34 1. ” I will bless the Lord at all times his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
[00:01:21] Jamie. I’m so glad to have you here today.
[00:01:24] Jammie Johnson: Thank you, Rayna for having me and I’m so glad to be able to share with you and your listeners.
[00:01:29] Rayna Neises: Well, I know that you have had your own personal journey of being a caregiver. And I like to start off by just having you share a little bit about your caregiving journey.
[00:01:40] Jammie Johnson: Yeah. So, I was a caregiver for my dad first, then my aunt. And then my mother. My dad passed away in 1997 from cancer. Then I cared for my aunt for 10 years and she passed away in 2015 from complications of obesity. And then I cared for my mother from 2016 to 2017 until she passed. And she had some issues with her lungs and with her heart. But it was such a joy to be able to care for my family. And if I had to do it over again, I would most definitely do that again.
[00:02:13] Rayna Neises: Well, I love that you have the heart to care. And now in this side of it being able to pass on the wisdom and experience that you gained in your caregiving season. So, I love your heart in that. So, let’s just start off by having you tell us a little bit about what motivated you to start The Caregiver’s Friend.
[00:02:33] Jammie Johnson: Well as I mentioned after caring for three of my loved ones with my mother passed in 2017, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do next. I didn’t know what path I wanted to take. So, I prayed about it and did a little bit of research in I felt God leading me to share my experience of being a caregiver with other family caregivers. And it was so funny because even though I felt Him leading me to do this, I was looking for some confirmation because I want it to be just really, really clear that this is what he wanted me to do. And within three days, three different people contacted me about different aspects of caregiving including palliative care, estate planning, and wills. So here we are.
[00:03:22] Rayna Neises: And those are all things that can be really complicated, but it’s so nice to know that you’ve had that experience and you were able to then just encourage them and share what you know, probably even refer them to who they needed to get more information from.
[00:03:37] Jammie Johnson: That’s exactly what happened. And with one of my friends, I even took some time out and went online and researched companies that did estate sales and estate planning and sent over an email with four or five different options for him to consider. So yes, that’s one of the things that I like to provide as The Caregiver’s Friend is resources.
[00:03:58] Rayna Neises: And it’s so important to be able to when you’re not in the thick of it yourself, we can help by coming alongside people, is we don’t have all the turmoil of the emotions and everything else that’s going on right now. And so we can be a great sounding board and then that resource that they need.
[00:04:14] Jammie Johnson: Absolutely.
[00:04:15] Rayna Neises: How can caregivers reclaim their peace if they find that they’re just ready to pull their hair out?
[00:04:22] Jammie Johnson: Well, now that’s a good question. I actually have four different steps that I use. And it’s amazing because I learned these things as I was going through my caregiving journey. No one told this to me, but this is something that I found out along the way.
[00:04:36] And the first thing is to be flexible. You’ve heard it said, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry and it’s true. Plans change daily and change is never convenient. I learned to make the adjustment and just keep it moving.
[00:04:53] The second thing is to use your resources. We often hear people say, you don’t know what you don’t know. Well, I’ll take it one step further. And I say, know what you don’t know until you need to know what you don’t know.
[00:05:08] There are numerous resources available, but often exhaustion eats up our time to do the research. And so, as The Caregiver Friend, I would love to help caregivers so that they can reset and find peace along their journey.
[00:05:24] The third thing is to commit to self-care. Self-care is priority number one, you cannot care for your loved one if you don’t care for yourself. So being fully present, rested, and hopeful will give you the needed strength for your journey.
[00:05:46] And then finally, build a tribe. often hear the children like to go to build a bear and build their little bear. And then they play with their bear, and they have a great time with their bear. I say build a tribe. You don’t have to be the Lone Ranger, identify family, friends, neighbors, people in your faith community who have a relationship with your loved one. Solicit their help. You’d be surprised who would be willing if only you would ask. But those are my four steps to peace.
[00:06:24] Rayna Neises: The flexibility, which man, that can be so challenging because like you said, when you’re caregiving you can’t count on anything to go the way you have it planned. So, you really do have to learn to go with the flow, lots of deep breaths, and just realize that the plans are important. We can’t stop planning, but at time, we have to be able to hold on lightly is what I always say.
[00:06:46] That flexibility is important, find the resources that you need, commit to self-care that self-care one, we’re talking about a lot on the podcast. Always find those of us that are outside of our caregiving season talk about even more than those that are inside of it. And I think it’s because we realized how important it was.
[00:07:09] Rayna: Do you like you did a good job self-care during your caregiving season? Or is something back, you feel you could do better?
[00:07:17] Jammie Johnson: I think I did. Okay.
[00:07:19] I’ve always been the type of person that I like to maintain or protect myself because no one else is going to do that for me. And so I have to find ways to do it. And so for me I love bubble baths. I absolutely love bubble baths. And so I built it into my schedule that once a week, if you are showered every day, but at least once a week, I was going to take a bubble bath because that was the way that I relieve stress. Another thing that I would do sometimes it’s just go for a walk. When I would leave work, sometimes I would just take that extra 10 minutes, extra 15 minutes just to decompress and go for a walk. And then there were times I would just sit in my car, and I would just scream now is that self-care?
[00:08:06] Rayna Neises: Yes.
[00:08:06] Jammie Johnson: Yes. it is because I wanted to release. I would sit down, it might be TMI too much information, but I would sit in the car in my driveway sometimes or in the parking lot at work. And at the end of the day or the end of the workweek, I would just let out a nice little scream release myself and then keep it moving. And it worked for me.
[00:08:32] Rayna Neises: I love your examples because they aren’t big things. They’re things that worked for you, and that’s the most important piece of self-care, but they weren’t something that took a lot of time or money to be able to do. You were able to yourself to that bubble bath and even just kind of having that on the schedule, you kind of look forward to that and then knowing that having that time. Just when you need to scream, you need to scream. So, I think that’s great. Perfect thing. So, then the last things that was build your tribe, and I talk about that a lot on the podcast as well. And I talked about building your team, but so many times I think we are so used to putting that superhero Cape on and taking care of it all, and nothing burns you out faster than trying to do that by yourself. So, I love that too. Your tribe is so important, and you mentioned family, friends, and those kinds of people. Was there anybody that was kind of surprising to you that was a good support for you during your caregiving?
[00:09:35] Jammie Johnson: I had a neighbor who was a good support for me. And it was so funny because she let me know off the top. You know, if you need me to sit with your mother, I can sit with your mother, but I don’t do restroom runs. She let me know that from the very beginning. So I, I made sure if she was coming to sit with my mother, that we took care of all of those personal needs before she got there, I knew that I could probably only be gone for two hours.
[00:10:01] And so in that timeframe, I knew that I had someone that I could trust someone who loved my mom and who was available for my mom. And that lifted a burden from me when I needed to make short runs places.
[00:10:14] I have a coworker who was very nice to me and my family. When he found out that I was paying someone to come in, to sit with my mother a few hours a day. There were times when on Fridays he would give me an envelope. You know, with money to pay for the caregiver for the week. That was a blessing to me and to my family. But he was a part of my tribe an unexpected person that was a part of my tribe.
[00:10:38] So, so they are there because you have, you know, your family and I hear, oftentimes people say they can’t depend on this, that, and the other person and their family. And I know that that’s true too.
[00:10:48] But what I tried to explain to people is that maybe they, they may not could sit with someone overnight, but maybe they could sit with someone while you go do grocery run, or maybe you can write out the grocery list and let your family members go get the groceries.
[00:11:05] There’s all types of ways to build in your family, your friends, coworkers, and others that will be your blessing, not only to you but also to your loved one…
[00:11:16] Rayna Neises: I still agree. And I really liked that you mentioned that they can sit with them or maybe they can do the grocery shopping because sometimes they’re not comfortable sitting with our loved one or they’re worried that something might creep up that they won’t be able to handle.
[00:11:30] And so
[00:11:32] kind of stay away, when you actually have a
[00:11:34] Jammie Johnson: Yeah.
[00:11:35] Rayna Neises: they’re comfortable with or something that they’re already doing themselves. They go to the grocery store for themselves. They might just be able to take your list with them and do that task for you. So, love that. Such a good example, because so many times, like you said, I think everybody just feels like my family, my brother, my whoever should be stepping up, they should be helping me.
[00:11:56] And there can be a lot of bitterness, resentment, just negative emotions tied up in all those shoulds. And really being able to step outside of it and say, I’m going to invite them to be a part of this. If they choose not to, I’m going to invite someone else to help me. So just really not being married to what should be happening, but rather being open to the blessings of who is around and available to be that support for you. That’s great.
[00:12:29] Jammie Johnson: Yeah. And there are all types of things that need to be done. Clothes need to be washed, the cars need to be washed, sometimes you’d need a drive to, to the doctor’s appointment. Sometimes you need the books balanced, somebody needs to make a bank run. You know, there are all types of ways that people can come and be a support system and be a part of that tribe for you. And for your loved one.
[00:12:57] Rayna Neises: If you’re doing it, then there’s an opportunity to offer someone else the option of being a blessing and letting them do it. And the one thing that you can’t do is let somebody else be you. If that’s the relationship you have with your loved one, you have to maintain that yourself. And you mentioned already and being present in the moment with them and enjoying them.
[00:13:18] Rayna: I always say, you’re the daughter. You are that daugther. There might be other ones, but you are that daughter and you’re cherished and important. relationships important. If busy doing all the things that you’re not spending time with your parent or your loved one, you can be really out. I love that. Just really find your tribe. So great. So, what would you say is your greatest lesson that you learned that caregiving season?
[00:13:42] Jammie Johnson: I think patience is the greatest lesson that I learned as a caregiver throughout my caregiving journey while I was being stretched, overwhelmed, tired, and often frustrated that my loved ones were the ones in the most difficult place. That they were the ones being challenged the most. Parents have been our protector they’ve been our provider. The ones that we’ve depended upon all of our lives, and now there’s been a shift and they have to depend on us. Parents never want to burden their children.
[00:14:18] Rayna Neises: Okay.
[00:14:19] Jammie Johnson: loved ones never want to be in a place of vulnerability, having to rely on others for everything they need, food, housing, personal care, transportation, being taken to the doctor. And the list goes on. I remember one time I was having a particularly rough day and my mother said to me, don’t get frustrated everything is going to be all right. Now mind you, there were days when her words got mixed up and it was hard to interpret the message, but this day the message was loud and clear. Even in this new space, mama was doing what momma’s do best.
[00:14:58] Rayna Neises: So important. We always experienced things through our own lens, I think we have a tendency to do that even more when we’re stressed the to-do list is really long. We forget to get outside of ourselves and think about what it’s like for the person that we’re caring for. And that’s such an important thing to do, to realize, and have that compassion for their experience because as difficult as it is for us, I agree I think it’s even more difficult for them to receive the help and to receive. Just all the things that it takes to help them as they make that walk all the way home. And being able to do it in a way that honors them and honors the relationship is so important. So, it sounds like that was something that you were kind of reminded of throughout the journey. It’s just how to honor them in their experience as well as yours…
[00:16:00] Jammie Johnson: Yes, about the first time my mother invited me to a doctor’s appointment and that was the day I knew things had changed
[00:16:08] Rayna Neises: Hmm.
[00:16:08] Jammie Johnson: because she had always told me I would never keep anything from you. only child. So, it was just she and I. Two things I remember from my childhood one was early, early, early, early in my life, I would say let Ann help and, Annette is my middle name. And my family called me Ann, and my mother would always tease me when you were a child, you would always say, Let Ann help! Let Ann help! . So even for, as far as. It’s me able to talk. I’ve always wanted to help. And then as I got older in life and went into my teenage and young adult years and I wasn’t married, didn’t have any children.
[00:16:44] I would always say to my mother, we are one until I get a husband, we are one. So, all through that journey, even though I knew that we were one. And, and I knew that ed, she knew that I would be there to help her. It wasn’t until that day, she asked me to go to her doctor’s appointment that I knew things had changed.
[00:17:04] And I wanted to honor her in her wishes in a way that would not make her feel any worse than she was already feeling about having to depend on me in that way.
[00:17:16] Rayna Neises: I think it’s also such a good point that our parents don’t want to be a burden. And I, I don’t even like that word because I can’t personally, I don’t feel that my parents were a burden.
[00:17:29] Jammie Johnson: I don’t either.
[00:17:31] Rayna Neises: And sometimes I’m surprised to hear others who have been in a caregiving season that say, well, I don’t want to burden my kids like this. And I think, gosh, I just never saw it as a burden. I didn’t, I saw it as an honor. I saw it as an opportunity to spend time with my dad in a way that I wouldn’t have spent time with him if he weren’t needing me like that. But I think that can be tricky in that I think sometimes our parents have a tendency to hide the need because they do feel like it’s a burden.
[00:18:06] Jammie Johnson: Well, I took on every opportunity with great care and great concern for my family. Even my aunt, I never went through life thinking I would have to care for my aunt, but we are a very close-knit family. And I think family is the number one gift that God has given us. There was no way in the world. I was going to allow my aunt who was in dire need of assistance to go without that assistance. And so, it was a joy to be able to care for her as well.
[00:18:35] Rayna Neises: I know that peace is important for you and your message and what you want to offer caregivers that I love your four things that you offered, what would be something that you can leave our listeners with that would be a little gem, maybe of how to hold onto some peace in those difficult?
[00:18:51] Jammie Johnson: I think one way is to have balance in your life because you can’t do everything all of the time. Balance is key. We talked about self-care earlier and I really believe that you must take care of yourself in order to take care of others. I was able to find balance in my life by going to work.
[00:19:09] I did have to let a few things go that was on my plate because a lot of times, as a single individual, you just pile and pile and pile things on your plate. But when you become a caregiver, you cannot do everything that you have always done the way that you have always done it. And so specifically when I was caring for my mother, my last opportunity to care, I let go of every ministry obligation that I had during that time.
[00:19:36] she became my number one, focus on my ministry for that year. And I went to work part-time in person, and I worked the rest of the time from home. I know everybody may not have the ability to do that, but whatever you can do to balance your work life, your family life, your personal life. You have to do that. It’s a number one priority and a must for you to do that. If you want to be successful and maintain peace while you navigate your caregiving.
[00:20:05] Rayna Neises: Great wisdom. So I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Jammie and just hearing her heart in supporting you and the wisdom that she has from her experiences. If you’d like to get in touch with Jammie, you can find her on Facebook. She has a Facebook group called The Caregiver Crew. So definitely search for her there and join that group. Get the encouragement than you need for your caregiving season. Thank you again for joining us, Jammie.
[00:20:30] Jammie Johnson: Thank you so much for having me, Rayna. It has been a pleasure an awesome experience.
[00:20:36] Rayna Neises: Listeners, thank you for joining us today. And just a reminder, A Season of Caring Podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have financial, legal, or medical questions, be sure to contact your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.
*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
Caregiver Advocate, Founder The Caregiver's Friend
Jammie Johnson is an academic advisor, motivational speaker, and certified caregiver who enjoys helping people. Jammie was a caregiver to both of her parents and an aunt. After her mother’s passing, she founded The Caregivers Friend, where she provides resources, tips, and strategies to help caregivers navigate their caregiving journey with peace.
Jammie has traveled extensively throughout the United States to thirty-six states, to several countries and territories in Eastern Asia and Canada. She is single, fun-loving, enjoys life, and is always looking for an opportunity to witness and encourage those whose path she crosses to live life to their fullest potential, both naturally and spiritually.
Her favorite scripture is Ps. 34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
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