Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!
This week, Rayna Neises, your host, talks with Carlos Olivas III. Carlos lived in Southern California where he was working a great job in live events doing production and design while raising his daughter.
Life took a turn five years ago when he made the decision to move back to his childhood home to care for his father. As a result of his experience, he has developed a passion for research and educating himself about the Alzheimer’s experience. Carlos shares the following insights with everyone from his perspective as a primary caregiver:
- The experience requires you to change and to look inward to adjust your ego, your attitude, and to become a better person.
- The lifestyle change required is difficult because being able to go where you want and do what you want is no longer under your control.
- Embracing change allows you to better approach the caregiving experience.
- The research and education required to help your loved one allows you the opportunity to prepare for your future after your season of caring.
- You are never too old to change!
- Alzheimer’s is much more than just forgetting things.
- Participating in/being a member of several caregiver support groups can be invaluable as you surround yourself with different types of people who are going through the same thing.
- Breathing exercises/techniques can be beneficial in helping with self-control and relieving stress.
*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
I have to adapt and grow with the progression of this terminal disease. And how has this experience changed me? I had to look inward to maybe adjust my ego, my attitude, my flaws, and to become better. A better person, to communicate, be compassionate, empathetic towards a loved one that’s going through a terminal disease experience.
That’s Carlos, Olivia’s the third, a family caregiver, and our guests on this number one, listened to podcast episode of 2021. The Encore Episode of Caregiving: Opportunity to Change, Learn and Honor Family 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 wanted to mention our new Carying quiz. I’m a Hannah out of the HOPE team on the caring quiz. If you’d like to find out your personality. Hop onto www.CaryingQuiz.com and check it out. My guests today, Carlos is also a Hannah. So let’s learn more about Carlos. Carlos Olivias III is currently a primary caregiver for his 79 year old dad living through the Alzheimer’s experience. He’s a father of a beautiful and talented 22 year old daughter and also an entrepreneur with a passion to learn. Carlos lived in Yuba City, California, and was raised in Sacramento in 1992 he moved to Santa Barbara to attend college. While in South California life evolved with an abundance of life’s joy and radiant sunshine. He found a great job in live event, production and designs, and which enabled him to travel for work. He raised his daughter in a great little beach community in Ventura County. In 2016, life took a turn. He returned home to his childhood house to begin supervising his dad’s health. Carols’ his passion developed into research and educating himself about the Alzheimer’s experience. He advocates for his dad, elder health policy and self care for caregivers. Welcome, Carlos. Thanks very much for joining us today.
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here and hearing that bio. It just makes me, I don’t know, it’s, it’s great to kind of hear somebody else read it out. And I guess like, the credit is within the words, it’s humbling.
I think you’re doing amazing work. And so I’m so excited to be able to share with our listeners just a little bit about your journey, to be able to have someone who’s in the middle of the caring season is just a real blessing to me. So, just start off by sharing a little bit about how you’ve changed through this caring season.
How I’ve changed is a great question because I’m changing at the moment. I have to adapt and grow with the progression of this terminal disease. And how has this experience changed me? I I had to look inward to maybe adjust my ego, my attitude, my flaws, and to become better, a better person. To communicate, be compassionate, empathetic towards a loved one that’s going through a terminal disease experience.
In your bio, we talked about, it was in 2016 when the decision was made to kind of move forward and change total direction of your life, such a significant change. And I hear you when you’re saying it takes so much of you to change and this process changes inside. What are some things that you found were more difficult to let go of?
One of the things that I feel that was hard to change was a lifestyle. Being able to be free and going where I wanted to go and do what I needed to do on my own on schedule. It’s different than raising a child, because you can take that child into some fun things together that you want to do that you want to influence, that you want to have some type of control over With this experience, I am not in control. I’m not in control of a progression of the illness. I’m not in control of behaviors that I’m unaware of, there’s characteristics and traits and mood that I had to learn about. Through hands-on experience and through research educating myself through books and attending support groups that reinforced what to look for and maybe how to cope with that. And embrace it in a way to approach the experience better.
I think that’s such a good point. I have this called the Season of Caring because it’s a season in life and it is a time in which you have to kind of surrender that ability to maybe do the things that you love, like travel, or just even some of the experiences that just don’t work in a caregiving role. That can be a hard adjustment, but the good news is it’s not forever. And so one of the things that I think that can be really impacted is the outlook for the future. So, how has this season affecting your outlook?
My outlook is that, I’m preparing for the future. I’m preparing myself ,in reinforcing myself for the future. What’s it going to look like in five, 10 years? Creating a mindset where I can visualize how it’s going to feel, how it’s going to look, with many different options and all of it is all positive reinforcement in a way where I know that the research, the education, the diligence of investigating financial affairs, medical affairs for my loved one. All these things I’ve taken steps to kind of create a cushion that protects a kind of a core foundation of this experience and with that, I take it and expand upon it too. I guess. I don’t know, make sure that the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. I’m just trying to in my head, like is just like I’m prepared. I want to be prepared. I know I can’t prepare emotionally too much. But then, you know who can? I mean, you really can’t, but I can prepare for certain things that will be a burden, later on. I take on the example of my dad, who did take and purchase a long-term care policy and he did take end of life procedures or something to kind of, you know, cushion him along the way. So I’m just following that, executing his wishes and it’s been a long experience. And my outlook is kind of humbled in and prepared.
I think again, something that comes to mind is changed. And you know, if you were to think of yourself 10 years ago and imagine where you are today and what’s important to you and the preparations that you’re making for later in life. They’re changed. I think the opportunity to learn is such an important piece and this is teaching you things that you never imagined you needed to learn. I’m sure. But the future is definitely difficult. I think for those of us that have parents with Alzheimer’s because of that research that people often misunderstand that it’s Genetic, there’s this. Genetic link when actually the research is showing there is a genetic link, but it’s a small percentage of the people who are suffering from the disease. I think understanding and really getting in and learning what’s most recent information about whatever your person that you’re caring for suffering from can be really helpful as well. So let’s kind of talk a little bit about your life lessons. How would you say this season of carying is guiding you through life lessons?
Life lessons. I would want to reinforces is family love. I come from a family unit that came from a dysfunctional family. Like my mom’s side, there was dysfunction there on my dad’s side, there was dysfunction there. My mom and dad upheld the institution of marriage and solidarity and family. And it created a foundation for me to fall back upon, to uphold and really be that strong pillar in this time that I am right now. That’s a lifelong lesson that’s been learned over time. And right now, the life lesson that I’m feeling right now is that you’re never too old to change. You’re never too old or unabled to seek out success and that you can strive to thrive in life. There’s things that I’ve come across that I feel that Lessons that I’ve learned before are being reinforced now. I fight off depression every day, but some people might say, Oh, you, you might be, you might be depressed. I was like, well, I’ve been fighting depression all my life. I mean, everybody is, it’s just how you approach it. And how you’ve learned to recognize the triggers and what helps you, accomplish getting out of depression. How you can ward off different types of moods that you kind of come in contact with controlling your emotions and really being a strong kind of person to navigate through adversity.
One thing that always becomes really aware of for me is the legacy. And that’s kind of how you started in saying your, your life lesson is that legacy that your parents have handed down to you of valuing family. And valuing that core unit and where you came from. What a beautiful example you were leaving for your daughter right now by showing the value of family. And just, even as you said, that journey with depression, you’re showing her also what it’s like to push through and not just survive, not just be a caregiver who is day in and day out just doing what needs to be done, but actually experiencing life still and thriving and creating an environment for your dad to experience joy and for you to experience joy with him every day, intentionally. And I love that such an amazing legacy to leave for your family and for others. That’s one thing through support groups and other opportunities that you have to be around others that are in this season too. That’s one of the things that stands out to me is that you really are showing how to make joy each and every day, and really embrace and cherish those moments of joy. So tell us a little bit about how you came into this season of caring for your loved one.
That’s a good story. It was in 2016. I got a phone call from an unrecognized number and I picked it up cause it was an an area code that’s from hometown. So I picked it up. And it was a warm voice on the other side. And they introduced themselves as the dental assistant at my dad’s dentist office. And they said, well, you’re their emergency contact. And immediately ,I’m like emergency, you know, you get into that thought it was like, Oh, that emergency contact was like, yeah, you’re listed as an emergency contact. You’re next in line. We need to talk to you about some concerns about your dad. And that’s where it all began is that they said they had some concerns about my dad’s health and due to some observations they said that they feel that needed to be communicated to a family member. And then it wasn’t too long after that maybe a week or two that my dad’s girlfriend called. And then one of my aunts called and they all had concerns. And so I approached my brother and said, what are we going to do? This needs to be handled if he’s going down that road, he can’t do it alone. He can’t do it by himself. Based upon the example of him being the primary caregiver for my mom before she passed away. It boils down to the legacy of, of family culture and kind of upholding that. So, in 2016, I got that phone call started figuring out what can happen. What are our options? What alternatives, what do we need to do? So it was a scramble to kind of learn and kind of adjust.
He hadn’t had a diagnosis or anything.
No, it wasn’t until a year after that. That he was taken to the doctor to a primary care physician who gave him a test. And then that test kind of determined that there’s possibility that there’s Mild Cognitive Impairment. So what did that mean? It wasn’t a diagnosis of anything. It was just a possibility. Now from the research I know is that, it could be possible that the doctor was unaware or uneducated on cognitive impairment tests or recognizing certain traits of Alzheimer’s or of the dementia.
That’s a good point because I think one of the things that startled me when I started volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association was the fact that recently was released that 50% of the people with Alzheimer’s have never been told that they have Alzheimer’s. And that’s such a startling fact, but I think your experience goes along with that. I feel like so many physicians don’t want to say the word. Maybe they don’t have the capacity to, but I think so many times they just don’t want to say it. I know my experience, both of my parents were not told my dad took my mom for her testing. And the doctor said, yeah, there’s some concerns. We’re just going to do this, this and this. And then sent him home with a report that actually said the word Alzheimer’s in it. So I do think that that’s not unusual. It’s difficult, but not unusual.
Yeah, it was, I mean, we didn’t have an exact diagnosis. It wasn’t until I got back in town where I started advocating for more testing. Maybe seeing a neurologist cause I did the research and found out what was next? Well, how come we didn’t get referred to a neurologist, early on how come we didn’t things just didn’t get progressively kind of advanced as far as treatments or any type of you know, concern from the medical professionals. So once I advocated for it, I got into the neurologist and they gave the diagnosis in 2017. That yes, it is Alzheimer’s so, and then from there was just like. Okay, well, what’s, Alzheimer’s, you know, And then you find that it’s much more than just forgetting things. There’s a lot more things out there that change and change yourself. Cause you have to understand like, well, why is he yelling at me for, being kind to him. and then why is he yelling or getting angry and agitated even more when I’m arguing with him and making a strong, valid point that you know is correct. And he’s going the opposite in the understanding that, one plus one equals two, it’s just, what’s always, you taught me that, you know, and you think I’m arguing with you anyway, ended up by saying, you know, I’m sorry you think I’m Saying something bad to you, it’s just, it’s defeating sometimes,
So one of the things that you’ve mentioned is that desire to learn more. And I know that you’re a volunteer with the Alzheimer’s association. So what other things have you found that have supported you as you’re in the middle of this season of caring for your dad?
One thing that really has had an impact on me and that I strongly advocate for caregivers is- caregiver support groups. You and I met through a caregiver support group. I began with the Alzheimer’s Association with their support group, which in turn got me intrigued about other support groups. I wanted to find out more. I wanted to surround myself with other caregivers. I felt comfortable because there’s things that caregivers understand and know that other people outside of the caregiver world don’t. They cannot relate. They don’t understand the emotion, the long nights the worrying, the sleepless nights, you know, this, you know the assortment of things. I feel that I gained a lot of knowledge and compassion and empathy to understand how to navigate through this experience. And without those, vetran caregivers that have gone through it hearing their stories, hearing how they persevered and the resilience that it takes to keep bouncing back and being that positive pillar in their loved one’s lives is amazing to me. It’s inspiring to me. It’s a suggestion and to advocate for that every caregiver go through a support group. Kind of get in there and kind of hear other people talk about it. It’s hard to hear. It’s hard to hear stories of others that are going through some adversity, but it just builds up the resiliency in me. And I see the positive outlook, positive outcomes that I can kind of approach to my own life and my own experience with my loved one.
So many times, it seems like people shy away from caregiver support groups because they feel like I’m not really a caregiver. I’m just a family member and realizing that even as a family member, whether you’re doing the hands-on care or not, there’s a lot to deal with. And I agree that opportunity to have the support and to see somebody who’s further down the line, or even to see somebody who’s just starting the journey can be such an encouraging opportunity. And there really is just that relationship of pulling for other people and knowing that they’re pulling for you, it’s just a beautiful situation. So I encourage, again, listeners, if you’re not finding support, reach out, it’s there, there’s lots of opportunities to find caregiver support groups that will fit you. If you find one that doesn’t fit you keep looking because there’s so many opportunities out there. And we’re always saying that we need that support. That first step can be hard, though. It can be hard to take that first step to attend and to feel like you’re, I don’t know what to expect, but it’s worth it.
Yeah. If I, if I can add that I belong to five different types of support groups. One’s a faith-based support group. Two of them are with the Alzheimer’s association. And one of those is a poem writers support group, where I’m able to kind of be creative through poem, and express what’s going on in my life, in this season. And then a couple of other support groups that are local and nationwide. So it helps to surround yourself with different types of people who are going through the same thing.
I love that. And I love the different things that you’ve found that just really feed you. There are just many opportunities, so investigate and look for options for yourselves. Listeners, I want to encourage you with that for sure. So as we wrap up here, Carlos, what words of support would you offer to others who are just beginning the season?
Well, one thing I kind of gravitate to is self-control I guess, and understanding that self-control, that you are human. And humans need do one thing is breathing. I feel that, it’s like, okay, we take that for granted every day. It’s like, we wake up, we sleep in, do our daily activities and we breathe at the same time. But the breaths can kind of really, during adversity can calm you and get you focused and adjusted. And if you kind of learn breathing exercises and techniques, that can benefit you in moments of adversity. I feel strong about that. It’s just a method to really help. In 10 to 30 seconds. You can change your mood and your mind and the way you approach an environment. So, I kind of encouraged that, take those few moments to breathe. I mean, it’s 30 seconds of your life. And those 30 seconds can have an effect five years, 10 years down the road. And if you practice that as a habit every day to really kind of relieve stress, it is beneficial.
I love that such a practical tip and something that we don’t need anything for, because we have exactly what we need right here. Just learning how to do that. So on our show notes page. We’ll definitely link some different exercises and get you some resources listeners to really try some of those breathing techniques and see what difference it can make for you. So I love that, Carlos, thanks so much for that. So just to kind of wrap up a little bit from a caregiver, who’s in the trenches right now, I love that Carlos was able to just kind of remind us that you’re not alone. No matter where you are in that season, there are resources out there. There is support and you need to embrace it. Take advantage of it. Dig into the different things, if the first one doesn’t fit, find one that does, because there’s lots of opportunities out there. There’s change, the season is fallen change and making that first step of the commitment to support your loved one can definitely be a difficult step. You don’t necessarily know what the right thing to do is, but I think the most important thing is what you’ve done is you’ve taken that step and making the move and then figuring it out as you go. That’s what we’re all doing. So important and then also just remembering to breathe. I love that. So, well, thank you so much, Carlos, for spending the time today, to just share with us your experience and some gems of wisdom that you’ve already gleaned in the process.
Thank you. It was my pleasure and I can’t be more supportive of you and the work that you’re doing and it’s great. I’m glad to be here.
Thank you, Carlos. And just a reminder. A Season of Caring Podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have professional legal or medical questions, be sure to seek out your local professionals, take heart in your season of caring.
*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
Carlos Olivas III
Caregiver, Elder Health Policy and Caregiver Advocate
Carlos Olivas III is currently a primary caregiver for his 79-year-old dad living through the Alzheimer’s experience. He is a father to a beautiful and talented 22-year-old daughter. Carlos is an entrepreneur with a passion to learn.
He lived in Yuba City, CA and was raised in Sacramento, CA . In 1992, he moved to Santa Barbara to attend college. While in South California life evolved with an abundance of life’s joy and radiant sunshine. He found a great job in live event production and designs in which enabled him to travel for work. He raised his daughter in a great little beach community of Ventura County.
In 2016, life took a turn. He returned to his childhood home to begin supervising his dad’s health. Carlos’ passion developed into research and educating himself around the Alzheimer’s experience. He advocates for his dad, elder health policy, and self-care for caregivers.
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Meet Your Host
Rayna Neises, ACC
Author of No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season, ICF Certified Coach, Podcast Host & 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