Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!

Ep 111 Caring for Aging Parents

Episode 111

 

  • This week, Rayna Neises, your host, speaks with Mike and Kim Barnes. While balancing their lives as spouses and parents with their successful TV/journalism careers, they have also been caring for their aging parents. It is through these experiences that they have found a passion to help others who are on this caring journey. People want to be part of a community, and Mike and Kim are dedicating their time to helping provide that opportunity. They share the following insights:
  • (6:26) Each person is different, and every person’s needs are different.
  • (8:32) Figure out how to prioritize and not let things slip through the cracks.
  • (9:06) Being open with your children allows them to see what they will face as they get older and eventually care for you. In addition, it builds empathy.
  • (10:28) Caregiving is an additional job that you have to make room for.
  • (11:22) You are on an emotional roller-coaster and you cannot take everything personally.
  • (16:00) Check to see if in the big scheme of things, does this matter?
  • (20:15) Having a community to be a sounding board, to vent to, or ask questions helps.
  • (30:37) When discussing Power of Attorney or a will with your parents, explain that it is a gift to loved ones.
  • (35:01) To find interviews with experts on a variety of topics, visit Mike and Kim’s website at parentingagingparents.com. To join their support group, click the button on the home page and request to join their Facebook group. You can also subscribe to receive their weekly newsletter.

Transcript

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Mike Barnes: 

Having that community, I know it helps. I know that there are people out there who don’t have that. So if we can provide that, if we can give you a sounding board, whether it’s someplace to vent or someplace to ask questions, or just someplace to, to look around, to try and get some ideas, that’s gonna help you a little bit mm-hmm then. Oh my gosh. That’s a huge win for anyone.

Rayna Neises: 

That is my guest today Mike Barnes, who, along with his wife, Kim, founded the Facebook Group, Parenting Aging Parents. 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 I’m excited to introduce you to Kim and Mike Barnes. Over the past five years, Mike and Kim Barnes found themselves navigating problems they never saw coming from their parents. Alzheimer’s, pacemakers, COVID pneumonia and the tough decisions to move parents into retirement communities. They’ve learned to balance the many facets of supporting their parents, including medical, financial, and everyday decisions, emotional roller coasters, protecting their parents from scams and more. All while parenting their college aged kids and building their careers. Mike and Kim have spent 30 years on TV Kim’s TV career includes 15 years as an award-winning reporter and news anchor. And Mike’s includes 29 years as award-winning sportscaster. They’ve realized that so many adult children go through the same trials with their parents yet hardly anyone talks about it. Most struggle in silence that’s why they’ve created a community to provide information, resources, and support. Welcome Kim and Mike, good to have you here today.

Kim Barnes: 

Thank you. We’re so glad to be with you.

Mike Barnes: 

Good to be. Here.

Rayna Neises: 

So let’s just dive in a little bit. It sounds like you’ve had a lot going on with your parents over the last few years. So I like to have people start sharing a little bit about just what their caregiving seasons looked like. And then we’ll kind of get into some of the details of what you’ve found to be helpful to share with our audience.

Mike Barnes: 

Sure. I probably got to start first because my parents are just a hair older than Kim’s mom is. And my sister and I convinced my mom and dad to, they lived about an hour outside of Dallas, kind of in the country oh gosh, 20 years. But about six years ago, we convinced my dad because of my mom’s, Alzheimer’s getting worse and worse and worse. And it got to the point where my dad was doing okay. But he was taking her out to breakfast, coming home, take her out to lunch, coming home, take her out to dinner, coming home. So it was hard on him as he was approaching 80 at the time. And. My mom was getting very little social interaction except for with my dad. And my dad spent most of the time during the day upstairs in his proverbial office, kinda watching the stock market. And that was it. So, so my sister and I said, y’all really need to move into independent living because it’ll be easier on you with all the meals that you have in the cafeteria. And it’ll be better from mom, cuz she’ll be able to yeah.

Kim Barnes: 

Chat with people. Yeah.

Mike Barnes: 

And talk to people. And my dad’s first inclination was. Yeah, that doesn’t sound like very much fun, but I guess we’ll look into it because he had this vision in his mind of my grandfather, living in a nursing home for his last few years of life and so that’s what he pictured. And we finally moved him in around labor day that year. And within two months, my dad’s calling me and he calls me all the time. He’s calling me saying, son, this is the best move we’ve ever made. I am so glad we did that. So that kind of started us going, but it really hit full speed. I guess you could say is my mom’s, Alzheimer’s getting worse and we told my dad that, you know, we’re gonna have to move mom into memory care because she’s not doing well. And this is getting so hard on you, even though meals are taken care of and everything, this is just such a tough job. So my sister and I started looking at memory care places, pretty close to the independent living place where they lived and we were so overwhelmed. Because we didn’t know what to look for. We didn’t know what to ask. We didn’t know what,

Kim Barnes: 

How do you know? Which is good, which is not.

Mike Barnes: 

Exactly and truth be told, we wound up picking the one that felt the best and the ones that hugged my sister, as we told ’em our story. So, I don’t think that’s exactly the best way to pick a good memory.

Rayna Neises: 

Yeah.

Mike Barnes: 

But it it’s turned out fine. And we actually moved my mom almost exactly a year ago, and it’s been tough on my dad, but we’ve helped him through it and, and things have gone well. But because of that, we were like, oh my gosh, if we are so overwhelmed and we, we felt fairly prepared because again, we communicated well with our parents, with my dad, we had the will and power of attorney, medical directive, everything was in place. In that respect, but we were like, we don’t know what we’re doing. So we were very overwhelmed and thought, well, if, if we feel like that, there may be more people out there that feel the same way. Mm-hmm so let’s start a group. Mm-hmm,

Kim Barnes: 

I often feel funny almost calling myself a caregiver, if that makes sense, because I feel like when I think of caregiving, I think of like the physical hands on bathing, dressing, you know, that real physical caregiving, but as I’ve realized that a lot of what I’m doing is organizing and planning and troubleshooting. Whether it’s scheduling doctors’ appointments or being on the phone with the doctors, going to town to try to do things. Helping her with her email explaining why she doesn’t get a bank statement anymore. You know, those kinds of things that that often are. Repetitive conversations. She has been diagnosed with dementia and we’re still kind of early stages of that, but we got her to move into independent living several years ago, which fortunately ended up being her idea, which is kind of a funny story, but we won’t go into that. But just, you know, when she said, oh, I’m moving. And I was like, You are, are, yeah. You told us you weren’t ever gonna move. Oh yeah. I decided, and I signed the lease and I thought, oh, okay. Did you tell my brother? And she said, oh no, I need to call him too. And I said, oh, okay. Let’s not sign legally binding documents in the future without at least having a conversation anyway. But I think that what we’ve realized is that I would find myself kind of sitting at my desk, managing something, whether it was checking her email or talking to her bank manager, because she had gotten scammed or whatever, the challenges that have been. And I would hear Mike in the other room talking to his dad about some other issue, and I realized, wow, surely we’re the only people doing this and because we just don’t talk about it. And yet when you do start talking about it, you realize everybody has a story. So many people are in the midst of it, or they’ve already done it or they know it’s coming. And I think that it’s just something that people just don’t typically think that we have people to talk about with. And so that’s why we really felt like, okay, we can use our skills as former journalists to be able to start sharing information and do people want to be part of a community and we found out pretty quickly. Yeah, they do. Yeah. They really wanna be able to have people to talk to about it.

Rayna Neises: 

That’s so great. I think as you’ve just explained your stories, they’re very different. And all of us journey differently. We have those that were kind of going push a little bit to make a change. And those that are going this looks great. Let’s go do it, and so, there’s different ways of addressing those issues with our parents, because every person is different and every person’s needs are different. And I think that’s so important too, because sometimes we just wanna box everybody in and follow the formula. Right? Don’t we all wish there was just a magic formula that we could just do this and this, and it would take care of it all.

Kim Barnes: 

It’d be so much easier, wouldn’t it? It so much easier. And yet to your point, that’s the challenge is that every situation is a little bit different. Whether it’s personalities, family, dynamics, financial situations, whatever it is, We can get kind of broad ideas, but when it comes down to your situation, it’s just different than somebody else’s.

Rayna Neises: 

It is that I think it also helps so much to share our stories because we do find those nuggets that we relate to. And that’s part of encouraging us along in this journey. So I love to be able to hear stories and share people’s stories because it is such a challenge. And there is such a feeling of being alone this caregiving season. It’s just not true. There are others out there and we’re all doing it together. So it definitely is helpful to know that. Tell me, what do you think was the hardest part initially in wanting to do the job of balancing both your family and careers and your parents’ needs?

Mike Barnes: 

I think for us, it was kind of finding the time because not only were we busy with whether it was work or the business that we started over the last three or four years or dealing with our kids as they were in college or just outta college, but doing all that. But also the fact that when something comes up with my parents, I have to drive, three hours to the Dallas area to take care of it. Something happens with Kim’s mom. She has to drive two and a half, three hours to the Houston area to take care of that. So you give up a whole, day it’s not like, okay, let’s run around the block and take care of that. You really have to plan and just make sure everything’s in line and, put things in the right order, just so that you’re not wasting time.

Kim Barnes: 

I think for me, it’s kind of trying to figure out how you prioritize, because I think that that is where it gets really challenging because you are trying to balance and figure out, okay, what’s on fire today. You know, what really has to be taken care of today? What can I wait, but I need to make sure I don’t let slip? And I think for me, that’s a lot of it is balancing the prioritization, but also just not letting things slip through the cracks. I mean, I’ve been just remembered this morning. Oh shoot. I still need to find a dermatologist for my mom in Houston because the initial one that we found doesn’t take her insurance anymore. So. Now I’m back to square one of, okay. I need to get on the website and look for the potential places and I need to do a little research for them and blah, blah, blah. I have that on my to-do list, but it’s kind of gotten bumped down and it’s been longer than I would like it to be and, oh gosh, I still need to get that done. I think a lot of it is trying to figure out how to balance. Some of it, I think we’ve been real open with our kids. As far as they’re in their twenties and they see what we’re doing, now, I don’t know if that’s good or bad, because it may be like, oh my gosh, we now know what’s gonna happen when we get your age and when we’re having to take care of you. But I think it’s been good for them to kind of see sort of what we’re dealing with because it gives them a little, little bit of empathy, I think for that and for their grandparents as well.

Rayna Neises: 

We’re setting the expectation of what it looks like to support us when we get older. So I think important to involve them. And so many times the relationship that our kids have with our parents is different. And it brings a different perspective and encouraging them to keep that relationship going independent of you can also be really helpful, but the time juggle is definitely the biggest demand. It’s like, you’ve gotten another, at least part-time job thrown in on top of, of everything else you’ve already been doing and you never applied.

Kim Barnes: 

Sure. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Rayna Neises: 

so it’s a matter of how do I figure this out?

Kim Barnes: 

Right. Because a lot of times you are doing that. I would, you know, When I would joke and say like, I’m doing this in one room, Mike’s doing that in the other room. One kid is texting about this and it’s in the middle of a work day and I’m supposed to be responding to an email. And so I think that’s typically where you just start feeling that overwhelmed because you think, oh my gosh, how am I supposed to get all of this done?

Mike Barnes: 

Yeah.

Rayna Neises: 

Definitely. And I do feel like it’s one of those things that you have to realize it is an additional job. And so you have to make room for it. And so much of it has to be done during business hours because just like your life, the bank won’t stay open for mom either, you know? You have to find a way to be able to juggle that. It is definitely challenging. The other part that I think is a lot more challenging than most people realize is the emotional roller coaster. So how do you handle that? What did you see as far as the toll that it took on you that was kind of surprising?

Mike Barnes: 

I think it’s been tough on both of us at times, especially with me and moving my mom to memory care eventually, because like I said, it was probably gosh, almost a year and a half in the process when my sister and I looked at the places we started talking to my dad about it. My dad, he was very open about it and said, I want y’all to take care of this. Y’all go look, y’all just tell me, you know, what what’s gonna go on. But we knew that he had to be behind it 100%. Well, my dad, I love him to death, but he’s a little bit stubborn and a little bit selfish, which that’s okay when you’re in your eighties and you had a great life, but because that the process of saying, you need to be behind us 100% when we move mom, because if you don’t like it and you go, wanna pick her up and take her away, it’s not gonna work. So we were gonna move her.

Kim Barnes: 

But if few starts and stuffs,

Mike Barnes: 

Yeah, there were some starts and stops. We were gonna move her in October. And he said, no, no, no, no, no. It’s gonna mean a lot. To her to be around the family for Thanksgiving and Christmas so let’s wait till after the holidays. And part of me is like, mom doesn’t know it’s Thanksgiving and Christmas, but, okay. I understand. So we had all set up to move her on February the eighth and on February the sixth, he called me and he said, I’m making an executive decision we’re not gonna move her because she’s so excited. Her birthday’s coming up on 22nd and our anniversary’s coming up on the 27th. We’re gonna wait till after that. And again, part of me is like, okay, we have everything set up. Everything’s good. And she does not know it’s her birthday coming up in a couple weeks. She does not know it’s your anniversary coming up in three weeks. So no, but it does to you. So again, you’re not behind it 100%. So we’ll wait. We finally moved her on March the eighth of 21 and it was tough. It was a tough time, but again, it’s the emotional roller coaster is tough, but the, the biggest thing, and I, I tell this to people in our group all the time, is that you can’t take it personally because yeah. Yeah. My dad didn’t wanna lose his wife. She lives a mile and a half away mm-hmm and he visits her all the time, but he she’s not there all the time and yeah, he gets upset about it. He gets emotional about it. And you’re the brunt of it because you hear it. But I can’t take it personally. And I can’t take it personally that my, my mom doesn’t remember my name. She hasn’t said my name in years. My mom, when I first see her, she doesn’t recognize me. And I have to say, Hi Mom, it’s your son, Mike from Austin. You. Oh, hi. Yeah. Then she kind of warms up. I can’t take that personally, cuz it’s not her fault, but she has dementia. It’s not her fault that, that the Alzheimer’s keeps her from recognizing me. Don’t take it personally.

Kim Barnes: 

I think for me the gamut of emotions, because again, we’re more on the beginning stages, although we’ve had a major eye surgery that made her not be able to drive anymore, then kind of led to the moving to independent living and the choice, even at some point, do we let her drive again? Or should we just go with what the initial doctor said, which was okay, let’s, don’t drive for now, you know, those kinds of things. So I think, there’s, there’s definitely those, those emotions of, you’ve feel guilty because there’s times where there’s something going on with her phone. For just a simple example and it’s not easy for me just to get in the car and go. I think I was on the phone the other day for about 45 minutes, trying to let her text me a picture of something or for me to text and her to look at it or something like that. It was something what you would think super simple. And it literally was like 45 minutes. And so there was times that I just think, oh my gosh, it would be so much faster if I could just drive over there and show this to you real quick, or, do I need to come, just hop in the car and drive to help you with. Finding that document that you’re looking for or just to kind of help her rest easier. So I think there’s those emotions of frustration, frankly, just being selfish of, oh my gosh. I don’t have time for this. I just wasted 30 minutes trying to help you just see a picture. And then you feel guilty because you know, you’re frustrated then you feel to that oh my gosh. Okay. Big picture. In the big scheme of things that was important and that was important to her. So that’s worth my time. And then there’s also just, it’s sad, frankly, because they’re, they’re not able to do sometimes the simple things that. They could even a year ago, you know, whether it’s managing your email quit emptying the scent folder, mom, you know, like I can’t see that you can’t see the emails that you’ve already sent. If you keep emptying that. Quit, you don’t have to delete that stuff. So, and again, some of it is, is simple, but even just the, the sadness of watching them physically slow down or stoop over a little bit more, or the medical and health challenges. My mom is in pretty great health for the most part. I think the hard part is that the gamut of emotions or the range of emotions just fluctuates and it can, and fluctuate so quickly from you’re super frustrated. And then you’re just sad because you’re sad that you got frustrated you know. Or, Michael, remind me, don’t keep telling, remember mom, because she doesn’t. So just let it go. And it’s so hard for me, but so I, I think it’s just figuring out we’re learning too, of what are the best ways that we can support them and help them and feel important. And yet, let some of it go of the, you know, you don’t need to be right. They don’t need to necessarily know the right thing because in the big scheme of things doesn’t really matter and most of the time it doesn’t.

Rayna Neises: 

It’s true. And it is one of the biggest shifts as I work with people in support groups. Once you’ve gotten there, it’s really funny, cuz you can see it so easily in other people, just that self-imposed frustration because they’re trying to make it like it was. But at the same time, the process of embracing the moment and where you are now, means you need to grieve. And we don’t like to do that. And so really realizing this is a grieving process of the change of roles, the change of just that relationship, what it was, it isn’t going to be. And in some ways it can be similar. There’s still great things there, but it’s not the same and none of us like change. And so in this way, we just seem really unequipped for that. So I do think the emotions are a big piece of it. So where did community fall for you guys in helping you with this reality of having to change roles and Parent the Parent?

Kim Barnes: 

Mike actually brought this idea up to me probably two years ago when they first started this process of looking for memory care and realizing how overwhelming it was and just said, you know, I feel like. If we’re this overwhelmed, there’s bound to be a lot of other people that are feeling this way too. And at first, you know, to be totally honest, I just thought, well, this isn’t really fun stuff to talk about. Do we really wanna bring, because we thought that we could use our journalistic skills to be able to interview experts. And that was kind of our original thought too, but it’s like, oh gosh, it sounds kind of depressing. And then the change for me was after Mike’s family moved his mom to memory care and he posted just one thing on social media. What I noticed is of course there was an outpouring of support, but I really noticed was the fact that it wasn’t just empathy. Although there was a lot of that. A lot of it was, oh my gosh, man, I’m right there with you. Or we’re going through the same thing or we’ve already done that, or we know it’s coming. And I told Mike you know what you’re right there are a lot of people going through this. Nobody’s talking about it. It feels super lonely. So frankly, we kind of started the community a little bit as an experiment, just to see our people interested in talking about it. And frankly, the interviews that we do and a lot of the information we’re sharing selfishly is stuff that I need to know. Before we started the community, we were going through some Medicare stuff with my mom and trying to understand her Medicare plan and which one is she on? And, frankly, do you even know which plan your parents are on? You know, and there’s a difference, right? So we were having to go through a bunch of that stuff and I found somebody to help me. We’ve done a lot of the interviews, which are things that we’re interested in knowing more about or that we had to learn. And so that’s really where we thought, okay. At the time, the simplest thing that we could think of is just a private Facebook group, because so many people are on Facebook. And that way it’s a safe community where people can really share their insights from their personal experiences, share their experiences. Ask questions, get that support and more than anything. And the thing that we hear over and over and over again is just the fact that it makes people know that they’re not alone. Mm-hmm And even though every situation might be a little bit different, you can glean some here’s something to try or to hear something that worked for somebody else, or just that hope that there are people that can help you and solutions and more than anything, just people that are walking alongside you and not judging and not saying that we have all the answers because none of us know all the right answers for everybody or anybody sometimes mm-hmm But, but just mainly being just that support system of being able to get that quick answer, if you need it or just need to express how tough it is. We have people that just sometimes vent a little bit.

Mike Barnes: 

I was able to realize, because a good friend had a father who was battling Alzheimer’s and I guess you could say a stage ahead of my mom. So we would talk on the phone and talk when we would get together and kind of compare notes, so to speak. And he was more teaching me about it, because again, his father was just barely ahead. So as my mom was in stage five and his dad was in stage six and he’d be telling me what the differences. And I did a lot of research on, on the seven stages because some people only talk about three stages instead seven, and it just clears things up a little bit. So having someone just to bounce the ideas off of, and just to get some, some knowledge from, and as I’ve watched him go into stage seven, as my mom went to stage six and talk about that. And, and his, his dad passed away a couple of months ago and seeing him go through that and getting some tips and ideas about dealing with that process has been good because I know it’s coming with my mom. I don’t know when, I don’t know where I don’t know how but I know it’ll come. Just having that. Again, community it’s, it’s one person. It’s a good friend, but having that community, I know it helps. So I know that there are people out there who don’t have that. So if we can provide that, if we can give you a sounding board, whether it’s someplace to vent or someplace to ask questions, or just someplace to, to look around, to try and get some ideas, that’s gonna help you a little bit. Mm-hmm then. Oh my gosh. That’s a huge win for anyone.

Kim Barnes: 

Cause I think that so much of the time, it’s not something that, we’re at dinner with a friend or happy hour with a friend that’s not the subject that we’re gonna bring up. Right? Hey, so what challenges are you having with your parents these days? Or gosh, has your mom been scammed recently? Mine has. You know, let’s talk about that so I think that that’s the challenges that we don’t often bring up the conversation. You know, Mike was lucky that he had a good friend that was open and shared with him. But a lot of us just don’t necessarily think to even bring it up because we think, oh, they’re not gonna understand, or they don’t wanna talk about this, cuz this is not really fun stuff to talk about. Or we just don’t bring it up because again, we’re maybe uncomfortable about it and still trying to wrap our heads around it.

Mike Barnes: 

It’s such an uncomfortable topic to bring up and it just happened that something came up and I don’t even remember exactly who brought it up first, but something came up about Alzheimer’s and Dad or Alzheimer’s and Mom and, my friend, David and I both suddenly started talking and we realized, oh my gosh, mm-hmm I had no idea. We were in the same situation. Now, things were completely different because. His dad still lived at home with mom and didn’t want to go into any type of assisted living or memory care. My mom was at the time in independent living with dad and getting a little bit of help. But still, and again, that’s, that’s the hard part is that it’s not like, oh, well, what are you doing with your dad? That’s exactly what I’ll do with my mom. And, and do like that. Yeah, because there’s no blanket statement that you can say, you know, some magic pill, like, oh, here’s what everyone needs to do, but just knowing what others are going through and just again, giving the, the tips and the ideas, it helps so much. That was the biggest thing for me. And it made me realize that there are others out there who don’t have that luxury.

Rayna Neises: 

It’s so interesting because you mentioned that people are just so uncomfortable talking about it. When we have struggles with our kids, we talk to everybody, what’d you do when you couldn’t get ’em to do their homework? I mean, it’s just like this open. Conversation all the time, but it’s so interesting that we don’t want to talk about it with others. When we’re talking about navigating that relationship with our parents, it is completely, to me it’s different than navigating the relationship with our kids. Cuz we have authority over our kids. I mean, there’s a point in which you can say, okay, if you want to eat again, you will do right. But you can’t say that to dad. You can’t say that to mom. really different in that navigating. But I think again, we’re all. Going through it to some degree of watching those adults make decisions that we don’t agree with necessarily, or we don’t think are in their best interests, but realizing their adults. And we have to respect that. But then there’s also a time where sometimes we have to move in and it’s just a hard, hard season of life navigate those relationships and at the same time, I think keep them safe. That’s one of the things that as adult children that’s one of our biggest goals is to keep them safe. And one of their biggest goals is to continue living life. And so we’ve gotta find a way to make that work.

Kim Barnes: 

yes, and there’s sometimes a fine line there, right? As far as what is safe and what is reasonable and what is still honoring their wishes and their, their hopes for, for themselves mm-hmm And I do think that, you know, as you mentioned, I think the challenges that with our kids. You know, we’re the parent and it’s this weird shift. My mom, fortunately, is pretty compliant as far as just in the fact that we make a suggestion. She doesn’t always like it, and she might question it, but she still will say, okay, I, I think you’re right. And I know that in many of the conversations that happen in the Facebook group are parents who are saying. It’s none of your business. No, I don’t need this help. Mm-hmm and so I think that’s certainly a challenge. I also think that one of the things that maybe keeps us from talking about this as much is that, where you said, you know, with our kids, we always wanna say like, Hey, my, my kids started walking at two or whatever. I think that also, I wonder if it’s partly two, because with our kids development, it’s fairly predictable, you know that when they get to be, by the time there are three, we want them to be potty trained or by the time they’re this age, we expect them to be reading.

Mike Barnes: 

It’s usually good news. It’s usually either something good or there’s something better going, even though we complain about ’em mean teenagers, we know that eventually they’re gonna get better. And we’ll talk about that. A lot of better relationship. Yeah. Things will get better eventually. Yeah. It’s tough being 13, but things are gonna get better with them, that type of thing.

Kim Barnes: 

But I think the development is a little more predictable as far as what the expectations are. And the truth is once we get older because of either health issues, physical issues, whatever, there’s not a predictable 60 or 60 doesn’t look the same for everybody. 65. You don’t always have the same expectations. So I think that’s a little tricky too, because we don’t know. My grandparents lived to be 95 and 98 and it really wasn’t until their very last few years, we had really stepped in at all. They were very much in charge of everything and fortunately, neither of them had any kind of dementia issues. Theirs were more physical, but again, like a typical 95 year old. Like, what does that look like? Right. know, you can, so I think that that’s the, especially in the range where we’re maybe stepping in to help our parents more between their, seventies and eighties or 85 that 70 and 85 can look really different for different people. And so I think we just don’t even know sometimes when we’re gonna need to step in or help, because it’s just gonna really depend on their situation.

Mike Barnes: 

A lot of it also depends on the family dynamics and the relationship that you with your parents with your children because, and even if you have a great sibling relationship yeah. And your siblings, but even if you have a great relationship, you know, I have a great relationship with my son. He’s about to turn 25 and he asks me for advice all the time. And I give him advice all the time and he’s very open to it because I’m his dad and I’ve been doing it for 25 years. So he is to that. And I’m sure someday it’ll, it will change. My dad was not a very looking for advice type until he got into I’d say his sixties. I felt very privileged because we, we got to be really, really good friends. Besides being father and son, and he would ask me advice about some financial things and job wise, family stuff and with mom. As my mom was getting worse with her Alzheimer’s and we’ve been very open and again, when we move mom into memory care, He was very open, basically said here y’all do it. My sister and I, whatever y’all think is best. I’m giving you the reins because y’all are in charge, which was great. And he’s been so great in that aspect of letting the roles be reversed. But last August it was August the 17th the day before my birthday. My birthday was on the 18th and it’s on August 17th and I get a phone call. He had a, a checkup that day that my sister took him to and the doctor sent him home and said, yeah. Okay I’ll look at it. Well, the doctor calls my sister right about the time he get home. He said, get him to the emergency room now. He needs a pacemaker. They go to the emergency room because of COVID, there wasn’t a cardiologist available that day. So he’s at the hospital. On the night of the 17th on that evening. And I’m on the phone with him and he’s like, yeah, I just want to go home and I’ll take care of this tomorrow. And I’m like, dad, I do not wanna wake up tomorrow, on my birthday and find out that you died because you didn’t get this pacemaker and you’re not at the hospital. Please do not do that to me. And he’s like, okay, son. Oh, okay. Okay. He hangs up with me and tells my sister. Take me home. oh, home. like, yeah, but you just told Mike that you’re gonna, well, I want to go home. I’ll take care of this tomorrow. I’m like really? And, and luckily, yes, he got the pacemaker, on the 19th when the cardiologist was actually available and, he’s great now. It turned him around tremendously physically, but again even though he was used to me parenting him on other things. He put his foot down and said, Nope, I am still the Dad and I’m doing what I want to do. So you have to, again, not take it personally, which I did. Mm-hmm but you can’t, you can’t take that personally and realize that they’re in their seventies. In this point, case 83 years old at the time, seventies, eighties, nineties, they’ve lived a full life and they’re used to doing it their way and they think they’ve earned the right to do it their way. Mm-hmm so sometimes it’s hard for them to reverse that and give you full control.

Kim Barnes: 

Mm-hmm

Rayna Neises: 

Definitely. And I think it’s so important in how you approach it, because if you come in and try to take control, that damages the relationship. So it has to be this give and take conversation where they understand what it is doing to you to have them making their own choices that are not good choices. I think sometimes we have to use that relationship to try to help them see why they need to make a different decision.

Mike Barnes: 

How you approach it with mom and dad, depending on your relationship with mom and dad is a big difference maker.

Rayna Neises: 

Definitely. I think one of the things that’s interesting too, is people always say, my parents pretty stubborn and I always say, I am too, you know, the apple doesn’t fall apart from the tree. quite sure I’ve met, not stubborn people, when you’re taking away their independence or taking control of their life, Hello, we’re all stubborn.

Mike Barnes: 

So, it’s all about that respect and, and it’s not, necessarily manipulating when you’re really just approaching them in a way of respect and honor, and saying, I know you have been making these decisions your whole life, and you’ve made amazing decisions. I’m not questioning that. I’m just saying, can we look at it from some different ways? like you said, just be able to approach it that way.

Kim Barnes: 

Yeah. When we went through the stages of feeling like we needed to start taking care of mom’s finances for her, because she had gotten scammed several times, people were getting into her bank account. I mean, it was awful stuff. You know that when you are on a first name basis with the branch manager at your parents’ bank, when you don’t even know the branch manager at and bank, you know Hmm we’re we’re, we’re in different territory here which yes, I am on a first name basis, with mom’s bank manager. Thank goodness. Thank goodness he’s been amazing. At first it was very difficult she was divorced from my dad for many years before she remarried, she wrote all the checks, did all the finances. And then after her husband passed away several years ago, again, handling all of that stuff. So for her not to be getting a bank statement and not be physically writing checks, it’s challenging for her. I have to remind myself, this is really hard for her to not have really, I mean, we give her ideas and we give her her balances and all of that, and we answer any questions, but I think that we had to balance the okay. We’re donating to the same people over and over and over again without actually realizing that’s we are doing. Mm-hmm, that’s potentially a problem. So that that’s been a challenge. And so like, we’ve tried to approach it from, Hey, we’re taking care of it. You don’t have to worry about anything. Like it’s being taken care of, I know you’ve worked so hard and managed this for your whole life, but now this is just a gift that we can give to you that you don’t have to worry about this anymore. You go worry about playing dominoes at three, going to exercise at 11 eating, going out, walking around the property. That’s all you need to worry about, like just enjoy. And so we’ve tried to come from that perspective,

Mike Barnes: 

which calms her down, but then a day, two, three days later, she forgets and asks again, ask again, right. And go through the same, same thing again.

Rayna Neises: 

yeah.

Mike Barnes: 

Which again goes back to you. Can’t take it personally, right?

Kim Barnes: 

Right,

Mike Barnes: 

yes, they’re mad, but it’s not because you did something wrong.

Kim Barnes: 

Right.

Rayna Neises: 

Right well, it’s been such a pleasure to visit with you guys. Our time is just gone. Can you share with my audience how they can get in contact with you, be a part of your group? Just all the details that they need to know.

Kim Barnes: 

Sure. The easiest place to go is just www.parentingagingparents.Com, that’s our website. That’s where you’ll be able to find lots of interviews that we’ve done with experts. Just all kinds of topics that could be beneficial and helpful as you are learning or figuring out, what issue are you dealing with today? And we are adding to those interviews all the time, and there’s also a button on the homepage that just says. Click here to join the Facebook group. And then that’ll take you right to Facebook so that you can join our community to ask a couple questions just so that we know you’re a real person, and then we can let you in the group and you can start asking questions. We also have a button on our website as well. We send out a weekly newsletter, just kind of an update on, some of the topics, the tip of the week, a post of the week, things like that, to be able to keep people just feeling like they’re supported, that’s our biggest goal is that we just want people to feel like they have support and that they can find those resources that they might need. And that information is handy as well.

Mike Barnes: 

Yeah. Just so that they know we’re all in this together and we’re here for them.

Rayna Neises: 

Well, thank you Kim and Mike Barnes for being a part of A Season of Caring Podcast I appreciate having you here today.

Kim Barnes: 

It has been our honor.

Mike Barnes: 

Thanks for having us.

Rayna Neises: 

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 consult your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.

Kim and Mike Barnes

Kim and Mike Barnes

Founders of Parenting Aging Parents

Over the past five years, Mike and Kim Barnes found themselves navigating problems they never saw coming from their parents: Alzheimer’s, pacemakers, COVID pneumonia, and the tough decision to move parents into retirement communities.

They’ve learned to balance the many facets of parenting aging parents, including medical, financial, and everyday-life decisions, emotional rollercoasters, protecting their parents from scams, and more, all while parenting their college-age kids, and building their careers.

Mike & Kim each spent 30 years on TV. Kim’s TV career includes 15 years as an award-winning reporter and news anchor and Mike’s includes 29 years as an award-winning sportscaster.

They’ve realized that so many adult children go through the same trials with their parents, yet hardly anyone talks about it. Most struggle in silence. That’s why they created a community to provide information, resources, and support.

Resources

www.ParentingAgingParents.com

Join the Facebook Group

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Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises

Rayna Neises, ACC

Author of No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season, ICF Certified Coach, Speaker, Podcast Host, & Positive Approach to Care® Independent Trainer 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

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