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

Self-care is Self-preservation

Episode 110

Rayna Neises, ACC, host, reflects on the topics covered during last week’s interview (109) with Erin Galyean. Rayna shares some additional thoughts based on Erin’s role as the VP of Communications during her caring season with her sister, Megan. In addition, Rayna provides support ideas for communication tools and building a caregiving team.  

  • It is important to have someone who can be the communication connection between your loved one and all those who care about them and the family.
  • Resources to help families and care teams with communication and coordinating care:
  • Family caregivers generally take on too much of the responsibility themselves.  
  • Build a caregiving team to not only help you out but to help your loved one get used to receiving support from others. Examples:
    • Grocery shopping
    • Lawn maintenance
    • Cleaning
    • Laundry
    • Meal preparations/Cooking
  • Understand personalities and strengths when building a care team. Check out the free quiz at www.caringquiz.com to see what your caregiving personality is and help you build a balanced care team.

For additional support, visit www.aseasonofcaring.com/free-updates and sign up to receive Rayna’s free bi-weekly newsletter.


*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

[00:00:00] Erin Galyean: I would text them. Okay, Megan is going to have her chemo treatment today. If you guys can just pile on the love, just encourage her and especially for my sister’s personality, so this might not work for everyone. This really helped her. It helped her energy. It helped her mentally, emotionally. She was like, all right was feeling down. And now I got all these text messages. I don’t know if she ever knew that I was the one that triggered people, but it doesn’t matter.

[00:00:25] Rayna Neises: That was Erin Galyean, our guest on episode 109, sharing about how she became the VP of Communications for her sister during her sister’s illness. I loved this concept and can’t wait to talk more about tools and ways that might help you build your caregiving team. Hi, this is Rayna Neises your host on A Season of Caring Podcast, where there’s hope for living loving and caring with no regrets.

[00:00:53] I’m really glad that you’re joining me today. And I hope that you enjoyed the interview with Erin. I felt like she had some really great things to share with us. The one that really stood out to me the most was just that ability to be the communication connection between her family and all of those who cared about Megan and her family.

[00:01:11] It can be really overwhelming when your loved one is struggling and you aren’t real sure who you communicated, what with. Being able to offer the role of VP over Communications to someone else in your caring team I bet that can make such a huge difference. In my caregiving season, I was not the communicator my sister definitely took that role. And we’ve talked about before how she texted everybody all the time. And I found that to be not my form of communication. It was funny because we were talking not too long ago and she said, You know, I realized that I was texting to check in or to know where dad was or how things were going, because that really allowed me to then put it on a shelf and let the person take care of it. Once I knew he was doing okay, then I didn’t have to think about it anymore.

[00:01:59] So that communication really helped her to have more balance in her life and be able to focus on her children and family when she needed to at the same time, know that Dad was doing okay and taken care of. So communication can be such an important, important piece of that.

[00:02:16] Actually it can be one of the leading causes of conflict in your team, your family, especially whenever emotions are running high or sleep is running low. So making sure that you have your team well established and are really communicating well is important. In fact, in my newsletter that I send out a couple times a month, I’ve been talking about conflict, how we handle conflict and there can even be benefits in the conflict that we have. So be sure if you’re not on that email list to go ahead and visit www.aseasonofcaring.com/free-updates and get signed up for that. I would love to have you on the list.

[00:02:57] As I was looking at some additional research around communication and how to make it easier for family caregivers, I found some great resources I wanted to share with you. Now I have to be honest with you. I haven’t tried any of these because in my caring season, we weren’t aware of them. We also found other ways to communicate because we had people coming in the home we had a lot of checklists and a lot of places for them to document and communicate in that way. And then we used text messaging in the other forms, but I can see where some of these apps would’ve been extremely helpful for our family and the communication.

[00:03:37] So the first one that I saw was called Carely and Carely can be found at www.care.ly and this is a real time communication tool that is created for care teams, for messaging, community updates and caregiving resources. It actually is designed both for family caregivers, which it’s free and also for companies that are needing some communication with that as well. So you might check that one out.

[00:04:05] Also I’ve had personal experience with Caring Bridge. CaringBridge is one that I’ve used myself in keeping up with friends that have more acute illnesses and just kind of tracking how they’re doing in recovery or how their treatments are going. Caring Bridge specializes in keeping loved ones connected. It really focuses on the important goal of having that interaction between not only the carer and the caree, but family and friends and keeping them up to date.

[00:04:35] You can offer good thoughts and prayers, encouragement, photos, all kinds of great things that can allow you to have this update. And it can be uniquely thoughtful and comprehensive tool. I found that many people use Caring Bridge even if the person who is ill, they can actually use it almost as a journal of how things were going and what’s happening. And this allows them to communicate in a secure, private way, but also allowing friends, and family to offer the support they want.

[00:05:05] The next one is Lots of Helping Hands. And this is also a caregiving app that creates a community to care around your loved one. You invite friends, family, volunteers, and carers to join in. You can manage, appointments and errands and family gatherings. Really, it’s called Helping Hands cause it serves as a message board as well as a well wishing wall for caregivers and family members where they can leave messages and encouragement for the person that’s being cared for. Just really creating that care circle around them.

[00:05:39] Caring Village app is designed specifically for family caregivers to help them easily coordinate and track their loved one’s care. So Caring Village is actually designed to be able to give you kind of a peace of mind and staying in top of their care plan. So it definitely has different components that help you with that the messaging system, where you can communicate directly with others, as well as care plans can be created for loved ones plus personalized to-do lists.

[00:06:11] So it has a variety of different things from a centralized calendar, document storage and a place for medications as well as a wellness journal. And so this can be a really helpful one again, just to create that village around your family member and to keep that communication flowing.

[00:06:29] So, those were just a few, there are so many out there. In fact, there are new ones coming out all the time. I would say if you’re looking for an app to help you with managing your loved one’s care to just go ahead and jump in, read some of the reviews, think about what you would like it to do for you.

[00:06:47] As I mentioned, some of them have robust storage of that important information, like the medication lists and the journals, those types of things, others have more the goal of just keeping the communication going, possibly offering the support with errands and other things. So really just keeping in mind what your need is, and then looking for the tools that will meet that need.

[00:07:13] These apps are great because unlike a notebook like we used that stayed home with dad, you could look at it from anywhere and we did move to trying to put some things online so I could see a little bit more of it when I wasn’t there every weekend, but it would’ve been nice to have one of these apps that would’ve just allowed access at any time for me to take a look at it, also to be able to interact with the caregivers that I didn’t see.

[00:07:37] My sister saw most of the caregivers here and there, but I definitely only saw two or three because of the time period, which I was there, the handoff between them and me on Sunday afternoon or I actually picked Dad up at the care facility most of the time that I was traveling. And so the day stay program, I got to see those caregivers, but not a lot of the personal caregivers that he was with throughout the week.

[00:08:04] So I like the idea of having the flexibility of having the app to be able to do that communicating. If you are not in a point where you are having other people like caregivers to communicate with, I’m sure that you have family members that you would like to be able to keep up to date on what’s happening. So really considering the use of any of these apps to help, to bring that circle a little tighter around you, your other family members, I think could be so helpful.

[00:08:34] And that leads me to the next thing that I wanted to talk about today. And That is just really building that support team. I talk about it a lot, but I do feel like as we have new listeners all the time, or as you find yourself in a new season, you might just need a reminder.

[00:08:52] As Erin mentioned, she was that VP of communications, but she also mentioned someone being a meal trained leader or someone who is just organizing things like meals for acute situations. I think that can be extremely important. But again, when you’re looking at a long term family caregiving role, you just need to keep the communication going.

[00:09:16] And that can be so important, but I think one of the biggest weaknesses that I find as I am coaching and leading support groups with people who are in a caregiving season is the family caregiver taking on too much of the responsibility themselves. I think this is a very common thing and it’s so logical for it to happen. Oftentimes becoming a family, caregiver is a little bit of a creep. There’s just, oh, I’m gonna run to the store I’ll pick that up. Oh, I, they need help with trimming the trees or getting the leaves out of the gutters.

[00:09:51] There’s just little things that start to arise that our loved ones need help with. And that’s great, but if we start to put these things on our plate without really paying attention to all of their needs, we’re gonna find ourselves completely overwhelmed very quickly. So really starting to think about how to build that caregiving team not only helps you to end up with more people carrying the load , but also helps your loved one get used to getting support from other people. I hear over and over again, that family members don’t want someone else in their home caring for them. And I can understand that, when I think of getting old myself, I can see where that might be a little bit awkward, but it really is unrealistic to think that you can do it all.

[00:10:44] And I think if our loved ones really understood that by us doing it all means that we’re giving up other things in our lives that are really important to us. That’s really not what they want. So learning how to introduce them to support in different ways early, I think can really make a difference.

[00:11:04] Whether it be having someone come in and start doing the housework, you know, your 80 year old mom probably doesn’t need to be used in the vacuum. And that iRobot might be a great idea but also might be too might on the technology ends for her to be able to run that.

[00:11:20] So really getting used to having someone else come in and help take care of some of those needs. Doing the laundry, depending on if your laundry’s downstairs like ours was, having elderly parents walk up and down the stairs with large basket of laundry, probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. So just finding those people to come in and support early, I think can make a big difference.

[00:11:44] Also getting used to other people is cooking. That can be really tricky. We always have favorites and we definitely wanna continue to encourage our family members with their favorites, but I think allowing them to get used to other foods that are just as good and just as nutritious can be really helpful as well in the long run.

[00:12:06] That might mean bringing Meals on Wheels in that might mean bringing a chef in to cook together, hiring some help who loves to cook. I have a friend who is caring for his dad in his home. And he’s recently started to bring in some help. And one of the caregivers is a chef and loves to cook. And so one of their jobs during the day is to go ahead and do some meal prep for the rest of the week.

[00:12:33] So introducing our loved ones to some new food, getting some support in having someone else perform some of those tasks, which be really time consuming for families, especially when you’re doing the juggle of the job and your own kids and your own home. It can be really invaluable to start bringing these helpers in.

[00:12:54] The other piece that I think is so important when we’re looking at help is really understanding people’s strengths and weaknesses. Just like this friend of mine who is bringing this caregiver in, he found this person’s a chef. They love to cook. Let’s let them do the cooking. This person is very physically active and he’s really good at getting my dad out to take walks and to do things physically. This person’s very social and she enjoys going to some of the places Dad likes to go to. So really looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the caregivers can be so helpful.

[00:13:29] I don’t out you, but I’ve had some jobs where people have done a great job of really looking at my strengths and allowing me to do that, which I’m really good at, most. Of course, there’s things I don’t love. There’s nobody who’s really good at taking out the trash. Right. and so we just have to keep in mind, some of the jobs are a little less fun than others, but if we really bring our caregivers in and talk to them about what they enjoy, watch that interaction between them and our what of ones. See what they’re able to accomplish. It can be such a joy to have the extra support and to really let them love their job as well as having our loved one cared for the best possible.

[00:14:14] So when you consider your team, it’s really important to look at their personality and their strengths and use those things. So I’ve created a quiz at caring and allows you just to answer 20 questions and it helps you to see what your caregiving personality is.

[00:14:35] If once you take that test, you find your personality and a little bit of information that I share with you about it, interesting. You might also ask others on your caring team to go ahead and take that quiz, see who they end up, so that you can see how well rounded your caring team is.

[00:14:54] It is so important to have of many people on your caring team. Just wanna make sure that you also have different personalities on that team so that it’s well balanced and will function better. As I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast, conflict is a very typical part of a team.

[00:15:12] And so really finding the best communication tools possible for you and your team can make this experience so much better. So I wanna encourage you today to walk away with two things. Check out some communication apps and see how they might help you in your caring season and hop on www.caringquiz.com and find out what your caregiving personality is and others on your team. as

[00:15:41] It’s been a pleasure to be able to talk with you about building your team and encouraging you , don’t go it alone. I love the quote by David Allen that says, You can do anything. You just can’t do everything. So remember to find the help and support that you need today.

[00:15:58] As we close, don’t forget A Season of Caring Podcast is 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.

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation


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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

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