Hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets!

Self-care is Self-preservation

Episode 83

Happy National Self-Care Awareness Month!  Rayna Neises, ACC, host, reflects on the thoughts shared during last week’s interview with Jammie Johnson, The Caregivers Friend.  This week Rayna expands on the suggestion Jammie provided regarding building your tribe or team:

  • To add to the care team, remember to just ask. Check with:
    • extended family
    • companion care companies
    • church family
    • personal care professionals
    • volunteers
    • senior centers
    • day stays
  • What tasks are you not enjoying and how can you get those off your plate?
  • When asking for help, keep in mind the type of caregiver and what their services are. Ask questions and be clear as to what you are looking for.
  • To do this season well, you must have help.
  • Provide a list of tasks to equip the helper to be successful.
  • A variety of people will bring out different things in your loved one’s personality.
  • Visit caringquiz.com and take the Caring Quiz. Each member of the HOPE team has their strengths.


*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

[00:00:00] Rayna Neises: September is National Self-Care Awareness Month. So it goes right along with the theme of many of our guests recently. Self-care is so important and I’m sure that you’re tired of hearing about it at this point. So today I wanted to talk a little bit about caregiver stress and some things that I think can help with that.

[00:00:29] On the Mayo clinic website, I found some signs of stress . Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worrying, feeling tired often, getting too much sleep or not enough sleep, gaining or losing weight becoming easily irritated or angry, losing interest in activities that you used to enjoy, feeling sad, having frequent headaches, back pain or other physical problems, abusing alcohol, drugs, including prescription drugs. 

[00:01:01] So too much stress definitely can impact your longterm health, which obviously means that we knew the focus a little bit more on our self-care. 

[00:01:12] Hi, this is Rayna Nieses with A Season of Caring Podcast, where there’s hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets today, we’re going to talk more about self-care.

[00:01:21] Last week, our guests was Jamie Johnson and she had a great list of things to help you keep your peace. They were be flexible. Use your resources. Commit to self-care. And build your tribe. So today I wanted to take a little bit more time thinking about how our self-care is impacted by how big our tribe is or in my language, team. I talk a lot about team and how important team is, but I really do want to talk more in detail about that. 

[00:01:52] Rayna Neises (2): First of all, I want to start out by talking about how to expand your team. Many times as I’m talking to clients, it comes out that there are family members that are not being an active part of helping them in this journey of caring for their loved.

[00:02:07] Rayna Neises: Unfortunately, that is very common. Typically there is one person in the family to step up and really help care for that aging loved one. And there can definitely be resentment and struggles in the relationships when no one else is stepping up. I totally get that. And I’m really blessed that that was not the situation in my family, both my dad’s sister and my sister stepped up and we teamed together very well.

[00:02:36] And there were other sisters of my dad that were not a part . We have a small family so that was our immediate family, but there were others that I kind of wish had stepped up a little bit more. Maybe family friends, lifetime friends of my dad could have been a little bridge, definitely early on that maybe chose not to be. I didn’t invite them either. 

[00:02:59] I think early on, we didn’t invite a lot of extra help, but we did find when we needed to expand our team, we did some hunting. So I’ve told you before, my dad was just extremely physically active and his favorite thing was to be doing something. And if it was doing sports, that was at the top of the list.

[00:03:18] Though my dad had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he continued to stay very physically active, playing softball three times a week, practicing softball three times a week. He added in volleyball in the winter when they couldn’t play softball with a group of seniors, they just had pick up games. And he really enjoyed that.

[00:03:38] He went to the gym on the days that he was not playing a game of some type, whether it be volleyball or softball, lifting weights, swimming, he just was a very physically active person. And this is what he really enjoyed. And so when we reached a point with the doctors where they said in the next six months we need to take the keys. I was like, wow, that will be a big change, a big change for our family, a big change for my dad. And it really concerned me as I thought about that, I thought we just can’t just take the keys and leave him at home. There’s no way that’s going to work. He’s going to be very angry. He’s going to try to get out. It’s just not going to work. 

[00:04:23] So, I really started to explore who can we add on our team? That can bring my dad to these activities. Well, my first thought was I would love to find someone who’s already going and just have them pick him up. Let us pay them the extra gas or give them some money to eat out something, to encourage them to be that consistent person for my dad.

[00:04:47] Unfortunately in the area that dad lived, the other players were coming from other areas and there really wasn’t anybody for us to be able to have them pick him up and bring him with them to the volleyball game. And in the gym, we really didn’t know of anyone who was going at the same time.

[00:05:06] And at the time dad’s gym was quite a ways away because of the pool and some other things that he really liked, that was the one he chose. So it was about a 20 minute drive from his house. There wasn’t really anyone who was coming regularly that we could figure out to just add dad to their routine. So I started the hunt to find someone to drive my dad.

[00:05:27] Now, obviously this was before Lyft and Uber, because I think of that today. And I think, wow. I think we could have found an Uber driver who would have been consistent that we really could have counted on, but there wasn’t an option there. So I did some phone calls to companion care places asking if they would do some driving and taking him to those things.

[00:05:48] And I got the answer no over and over again, they really wanted to stay at home or just provide transportation to, and from a doctor’s appointment.

[00:05:58] I then thought, well, let me see can I find a team member out of church? So, yeah. Of course, I didn’t live in town, so I didn’t have a local church. My dad didn’t have a local church, so I started calling some seniors ministries and just saying, Hey, do you have any older gentlemen who maybe would be interested in playing sports? And we’d be able to be that transportation for my dad. Again, I struck out. 

[00:06:23] I was very frustrated. There were many suggestions in the local town, had some transportation, like a bus type thing that could come get him and take him. And I knew, might be an option, but it wasn’t going to be taking him where he was used to.

[00:06:37] And I really wanted him to be able to contain the relationships that he had and do the things they really loved because this was losing a big piece of his freedom, losing the keys to the car. And I knew that if we can make this transition of continuing to encourage him to stay active and do the things that he loved, it would make that transition easier.

[00:06:59] So I struck out there again, and thankfully I found a personal care company that offered to go ahead and do some activities at home, as well as add going to volleyball. So that was our very first paid caregiver and it was an older lady. And so I was a little concerned how dad would feel with having her drive him around. But the transition went really well. And she actually worked with us through the point in which dad passed away. 

[00:07:29] So I say that to say there’s lots of different places to explore. And your family circle is I place to start, but it is not the place that you should end in looking for expanding your tribe or your team, who are helping you to care for your loved one.

[00:07:48] There are paid options out there. There are volunteers out there. Finding the right volunteer organization for the type of activity that your loved one wants to participate in can be a little challenging. But you never know if you don’t ask, if you don’t look, if you don’t explore opportunities, there are so many senior centers in each community that are available for free meal, for visiting with other people that socialization that’s so important and giving you a little bit of space and time away from your loved one.

[00:08:25] There are days, day opportunities, which we’ve had guests here on the podcast before talking about day stays and how those work. So you can refer back to that episode, but there’s definitely lots of different people that you can add on your team. I challenge you as you’re thinking about your self-care this month and really being aware of how you’re doing, think about the tasks that you’re doing, that you are not enjoying.

[00:08:51] How can you get those off of your plate? Who can you ask to help you with those things? Really broaden that group of people who are supporting you. I think it’s so important and oftentimes we feel that it’s just easier to step in and do it ourselves than it is to look for a solution that can actually be a better fit for both us and our loved one.

[00:09:16] Some of the paid opportunities can be a little confusing, especially when we’re dealing with aging loved ones. So there’s companion care versus personal care. And companion care can definitely be a good fit in the beginning. Or if your loved one is struggling with just physical needs or isolation versus mental capacities.

[00:09:41] My experience has been, both of my parents had Alzheimer’s their mental capacity was diminished, not just their physical and so really understanding what needs you have dictates what type of care that you need to be hiring. So companion carers, really are just there to alleviate loneliness, to help with social needs, daily tasks, household tasks, like taking out the trash, helping with laundry meal prep, those types of things, really, anything beyond those tasks, you’re looking at personal care. Personal care is that hands-on care, bathing, toileting assistance, medication management, dressing appropriately, and adding in those additional things that the companion caregiver would give as well.

[00:10:34] So keeping in mind when you’re looking for the type of caregiver, you just have to be really good at asking questions, understanding what their services offer you and really being clear what you’re looking for.

[00:10:48] In my book, No Regrets, Hope for Your Caregiving Season and chapter 10, I talk about building that team. And the process that my sister and I went through in hiring our caregivers. We hired multiple caregiving companies. We dealt with lots of different caregivers throughout the four and a half years of caring for dad. And as I mentioned, even the three years before that, when we had a driver working with us as well. I think one of the most important things is understanding what you’re looking for. So we’ve already established, are you looking for a companion carer? Are you looking for personal care? Once you know that then you know what company to be looking at? But I do think you need to really have a good grip on what you are looking for those people to do for you and for your loved one, in order to really even make the phone calls to start out, interviewing, looking for help. 

[00:11:44] Making that list of things you’re ready to let go of. It can be difficult to let go of some things. I know I work with clients who talk about not wanting someone in their home, feeling uncomfortable with that, and I can relate to that as well. But really in order for you to do this season, well, you have to have help. So are going to have to find a way to be comfortable.

[00:12:08] And that might be limiting where they’re allowed to be in the house. It might be addressing where they come and go so that you are able to lock up other areas of the house that you’re not comfortable with them being in. But really thinking about. What tasks you need them to help with and writing them down, make a very specific list of the things that you want them to help you with.

[00:12:34] And then as you follow up with a caregiving company, asks those questions. Will the person be able to help me with this? Well, the person be able to help my mom with that? Will they be willing to do? And the specific things that you are thinking you would like them to do.

[00:12:52] Once you have the actual caregiver in your home, it’s time to pull out that list and go through each of those things, both equipping them to understand what it looks like in your home, where to find things, how to be able to do the laundry. If there’s anything special about what you want done to the laundry.

[00:13:10] For example, as dad was incontinent at night, we asked them to add vinegar to the detergent, to really help with the smells. Just really knit picking down to those things that you really need them to do. And give them that list. Ask them to look that over, ask them if they have any questions about any of those things, ask them if you missed anything.

[00:13:31] Is there anything that you do for other people that maybe I haven’t thought of? Or is there anything on this list that you’re concerned about? Walking them through again, how to do each task, but making sure that they have a really good understanding of what your expectation is because many times caring for your loved one can include some specific tasks. Like feeding them a meal and helping the person who’s caregiving to understand what your dad likes on his bologna sandwich. You know, not everyone eats a bologna sandwich in the same way. A lot of people don’t like it at all. So let’s say Turkey, but knowing exactly what they want on their sandwich.

[00:14:11] Do they cut their sandwich in half? Kinds of things do they like to drink? Is there something different with lunch than there is with dinner? We always had ice tea with dinner and dad drank Sprite for lunch . So there’s lots of details when it comes to taking care of someone, especially when they can’t tell you what they need, but helping the person that you’re hiring, understand what you’re looking for.

[00:14:35] And then really clearly communicating what those tasks look like, when you need them done. If they have any concerns, helping to answer the questions, those types of things. So really getting the right team members are so important and, it is a very top heavy task. The interview process, training them, the setting things up the way you want them set up in your home so they can really give you the best support possible. 

[00:15:02] But I’ll tell you, in order for you to be able to take care of yourself, well, you have to have a large team. None of us can carry this on our own. So finding those team members, I loved how Jammie said, if your family members not comfortable sitting with your loved one, let them go to the grocery store. Instead of you go to the grocery store. 

[00:15:22] Think creatively, what can you do to get the help that you need. Most of the time there is a cost involved, but I really feel like the cost involved is so worth it. Again, if you’ll refer to chapter 10 and no regrets, hope for your caregiving season, you’ll be surprised at the amount of details I go through of what our process look like and really how we communicated and expected those people who worked with us to come alongside and be a part of our team, our family.

[00:15:51] The other piece that I think is really important as you think expanding your tribe or your team is really thinking who those people are and letting them be who they are. Tasks are important and having a common goal as a team is really important, but each person brings their own strengths and weaknesses.

[00:16:13] And I know personalities can be really challenging at times. From my experience, I’ll never forget dad had this caregiver, his name was Al. Al was hilarious. And my dad and Al together were even funnier. So Saturday mornings and Al was coming, honestly, sometimes I wasn’t real excited to have Al there because he wasn’t my favorite caregiver necessarily. In fact, it was really funny. The first time I met him, I was in my robe and jammies unlock the door, said good morning, ran downstairs, let him start his shift with dad. He was there about three hours. And so I still had time to rest and eventually get ready for the day. And I came upstairs after getting ready for the day. And he was. Well, hi, who are you? He didn’t even recognize me from the person in the morning without any makeup or hair done and to the person afterwards. He was just really funny in that way. So, but Al was a great companion for my day? Al learn how to fix dad’s breakfast the way dad liked it. He had learned how to help him in the bathroom and get things done. Oftentimes he wasn’t good at details. Oftentimes he forgot to finish a task when he got it started. But Al brought a joy and a laughter to my dad’s life that he really enjoyed. And I did not bring that same joy in the same way.

[00:17:37] And so it was so important that dad had different personalities and different people around him. As a caregiver, I think you probably realize how tired you get of the routine and always being at home and always being the one to say, Hey, can you do this? Hey, can you help me with that? But you have to also realize that your loved one probably feels the exact same way.

[00:18:01] You’re the only one they have to deal with too. You’re the only personality that’s around them and it can be a joy to have someone new. And so really think about that when you’re building your tribe. You don’t want a bunch of people that are all the same. You really want lots of variety in order for your loved one, to have lots of different opportunities to interact with different people who bring out different types of things in their personality as well.

[00:18:26] I created a Caring Quiz, www.caringquiz.com and it is about your caring personality. It lets us take a look at the hope team. The hope team has four members on it. We have a Hannah and Opel, a Paul and Elizabeth. Al, he was an Opal. An encourager, they try to keep things light hearted, even though the situation can be difficult, they can be the one who brings laughter on the gloomy days. everyone they come in contact with they make them know that they’re loved and they try to form a really personal relationship with each person. So those Opals, they can be really flexible to fit into the needs of the daily changes. And they’ll take action to get things done when the needs arise. So Opal brings her own strength to the hope team.

[00:19:13] Hannah, on the other hand, which I am, Hannah is your advocate. They’re the ones that are going to stand up and get things done. They will help you maintain the highest standards, step in and support and lead and have those important conversations with both medical professionals and family members and ensure that things are working well. And they’re definitely your problem solvers.

[00:19:39] Paul, Paul or loyal one. Paul will be one that we’ll be keeping everybody in touch and staying the course and being there sometimes putting on a brave smile, even when their feelings are not in that same place, they can get overwhelmed with new tasks, but really helping them to understand the task will help them to be one of your best steady eddies.

[00:20:00] And Elizabeth also will make sure that she gets things done correctly. From taking medications to bring in new people onto the team and helping them understand the daily routine. She will oversee other people ensure that everything is done right, as well as help to do some research and really bring in some, new ideas that might be good for your team as well. 

[00:20:20] So as you can tell, each member of the hope team has their strengths when it comes to caregiving. And so I think it’s really important that we understand that and broaden our perspective of who’s on our team and how they function within the team.

[00:20:35] So again, visit www.caringquiz.com, take that Caring Quiz and see what your personality is. And then you’ll receive a few emails after that, just asking you to let your team take that quiz and really get a good perspective on what’s going on within your team of people. You might find that you’re actually missing some people on your team.

[00:20:56] Really be thinking about how each of these members fit within the team and what they bring to your team. Just like at work, you can find that your team will run more smoothly with better communication and respect for who they are and their strengths. 

[00:21:12] Now there’s definitely parts of the job that are non-negotiables. They have to get those things done. They have to communicate with you so that you’re able to make sure that there’s the continuity of care that you need, but really understanding those different caregivers and what role they play in your team can be such a blessing. It really can help you to release some of the stress and allow yourself to have the time that you need for the self-care that you need, in order for you to be your best, as you’re caring for your loved one.

[00:21:43] So today on the podcast, we’ve talked about how we need to be aware of our self-care. We need to be aware of what areas we might be struggling with our own stress level. And in response to those stresses, we need to be willing to open up that team and invite people to be a part of it and allow them to bring their strengths to our team. I would love to have you hop on and take that quiz and learn a little bit more about yourself and the other members on your team, and just make sure that you are getting what you need to take care of yourself as well as the person that you’re caring for.

[00:22:18] Thanks again for joining me today. Just to reminders A Season of Caring Podcast was created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have financial, legal, or medical questions, be sure to consult your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.

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Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises, ACC

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.

Rayna Neises, ACC

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