A podcast where we share stories of hope for family caregivers breaking through loneliness to see God even in this season of life.
Stories of Hope for living content, loving well, and caring with no regrets!
Rayna Neises, your host, welcomes back Jammie Johnson. Jammie is an academic advisor, Wyandotte- Leavenworth Areawide Advisory Council on Aging member, motivational speaker, and certified caregiver. She has cared for both her parents and an aunt. Jammie is also the founder of The Caregiver’s Friend where she provides resources, tips, and strategies to help caregivers navigate their caregiving journey with peace. She shares the following insights based on her caregiving journeys:
- [3:28] Caregiving often begins well before you realize it.
- [5:05] When invited to doctor’s appointments, you know things have changed, and they are comfortable letting you into their personal space.
- [5:45] Don’t get frustrated.
- [7:07] As a caregiver, we sometimes feel like nobody notices.
- [8:10] Being a caregiver can be rewarding and the opportunity allows for tremendous growth.
- [10:19] God showed up with an abundance of peace and support.
- [13:41] Carve out time every day to take care of yourself.
- [15:36] Connect with Jammie online at her website www.thecaregiversfriendkc.com and on Facebook in the private group The Caregiver Crew (https://www.facebook.com/groups/thecaregivercrew).
- This episode was brought to you by No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season. Check out the special gift set available at www.noregrets-book.com. It would make a great gift for your mom, grandmother, aunt, or anyone you know who is caring for someone they love.
Jammie Johnson is an academic advisor, Wyandotte- Leavenworth Areawide Advisory Council on Aging member, motivational speaker, and certified caregiver who enjoys helping people. Jammie was a caregiver to both of her parents and an aunt. After her mother’s passing, she founded The Caregivers Friend, where she provides resources, tips and strategies to help caregivers navigate their caregiving journey with peace.
Jammie has traveled extensively throughout the United States to thirty-six states, to several countries and territories in Eastern Asia and Canada. She is single, fun loving, enjoys life and is always looking for an opportunity to witness and encourage those whose path she crosses to live life to their fullest potential, both naturally and spiritually. Her favorite scripture is Ps. 34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
[00:00:00] Rayna Neises: Welcome. This is Rayna Neises, your host of a season of Caring podcast, where we share stories of hope for family caregivers breaking through the busyness and loneliness of life to see God even in the season of life. I’m excited to introduce you today to Jammie Johnson. Jammie’s an academic advisor, Wyndotte- Leavenworth Areawide Advisory Council on Aging member, a motivational speaker, and a certified caregiver who enjoys helping people. Jammie’s a caregiver of both of her parents and an aunt. After her mother’s passing, she founded the Caregiver’s Friends where she provides resources, tips, and strategies to help caregivers navigate their caregiving journey with peace.
[00:00:48] Welcome, Jammie. I’m glad to have you back.
[00:00:51] Jammie Johnson: Thank you, Rayna. It’s just so nice to be with you again, today.
[00:00:56] Rayna Neises: I’d love to be able to share just with other caregivers. I think there’s such a connection with story. So let’s start off by meeting your mom and dad and your aunt. Tell us a little bit about them and how you helped to care for them and let everybody get a chance to know them.
[00:01:12] Jammie Johnson: Okay, great. So my father, his name was James. He lived in Texas and I live in Kansas. So it was a long distance, caring situation and I actually cared for him about 30 days. He had cancer. He told us about it in May of 1997. And then by October, 1997, he was gone. So it was a very aggressive cancer.
[00:01:34] And it was because I didn’t even realize that he would be passing the weekend that he passed. He was actually supposed to start his chemotherapy treatments on that Monday that he passed away. But he knew that he was passing away. And as I think about it in retrospect, I’m like, oh, I guess I should have picked up on that queue to know that he was leaving us.
[00:01:54] But it was, so, it was a short amount of time that I was able to spend with him and being his caregiver the last few days of his life. My aunt, which was my mother’s second sister, I actually cared for her over a period of 10 years. She lived in Kansas, actually grew up with her. So I was with her all, all of the time.
[00:02:12] We spent most of our holidays together. She was like a second mother to me, so if my mother didn’t wanna give me a a allowance or some money to go somewhere, I can always count on my aunt to do that. So, of course, you know, she was like a favorite Aunt of mine. of So it was I never intended to take care of her.
[00:02:29] I never thought that I would have to take care of her because we are a tight-knit family. When the opportunity became available, it was just, it was a no-brainer. I was going to be her caregiver and it was a joy for me to care for her. Then of course, my mother, I’m an only child, so my mother and I have been like best friends pretty much all of my life.
[00:02:48] My parents separated when I was young. They never divorced, but my father wasn’t in the home, so it was just my mother and I all of those years. And so we were more like sisters sometimes than we were like mother and daughter, although she never let me forget that she was the mother. And so When my father passed away, it, it was the year after I finished my master’s degree.
[00:03:09] And so when I had to sell his home and, and move most of his belongings back to Kansas, it just made sense to me. Since I wasn’t married, it didn’t have any kids for me and my mom to find a home together. And that’s what we did. So the last 20 plus years of her life, we shared a home together.
[00:03:28] And so I cared for her. In my mind, I cared for her for this last six months of her life. But when I began this caregiving resource journey, I realized that I had been caring for her well before the last six months of her life because I had begun running errands for her, going to the store for her, picking up her laundry.
[00:03:48] I begun to slowly drive for her. And so the last couple of years of her life, she wasn’t driving at all. But at that point, because she was still able to do many things, I never considered myself her caregiver. Again, it was until the last six months when her physical body began to change and things began to change with her cognitively that I knew that I was her caregiver, especially when she invited me to start going to doctor’s appointments with her. That’s when I knew things had really changed.
[00:04:16] Rayna Neises: Definitely. I think that creep can happen, and like you said, most people don’t identify being a caregiver because it’s just, I’m just helping out, you’re just being, being a daughter or, whatever your relationship is. I call it the creep. Just those little things start creeping in and it’s wonderful that you guys had that opportunity to share, the space and the time and just the relationship even as that caregiving demand increased, I bet it made it a little bit easier to step into that role completely whenever she really needed you.
[00:04:48] Jammie Johnson: Absolutely. And she was at a place where she was receptive of me stepping the beginning. Sometimes there was some resistance, but over time, and she would always say to me, you know, Jamie, I, I’ve always told you all of your life, if there was something that you needed to know, I would let you know. I would tell you.
[00:05:05] And I knew, like I said earlier, that when she started inviting me to her doctor’s appoint. That things had changed and it was a, she was at a place where she was comfortable with letting me into that personal space of hers.
[00:05:18] Rayna Neises: Yeah. So when you think about your caregiving experiences, is there one particular story that comes to mind?
[00:05:26] Jammie Johnson: I think the one that comes to mind is one that happened maybe a month or so before my mother passed away. It was one day when I was having a particularly hard day and I was feeling overwhelmed and just with different things that were going on with, for me personally and things that were going on with her.
[00:05:45] And my mother could sense that there was something wrong. And she said to me, don’t get frustrated. Everything is going to be all right. And that was profound for me because there were days when I couldn’t understand some of the things that she was telling me and I would have to ask her , can you repeat that?
[00:06:03] Cuz I didn’t quite get it. But, but that word of encouragement to me at that point in time that I needed. Was so clear that when I heard it from her it was as if the, whatever I was dealing with at that point in time just dissipated. It just went away because my mother was being what a mother is loving, kind, intuitive, compassionate, empathetic, all in that moment and letting me know that whatever it is, don’t get frustrated.
[00:06:35] Everything is going to be okay. So that was one of my most favorite moments.
[00:06:41] Rayna Neises: That just reminds me of just one time when I was with my dad and I was driving him, I think to the gym. And I kind of like you just having one of those times where there’s just this internal, eh, I don’t even remember what it was. I just remember being kind of frustrated and upset and not at him, but just something in life. And I, he reached over and patted me on the knee, which he always did, and just patted me on the knee and said, are you OK?.
[00:07:06] Jammie Johnson: Mm-hmm.
[00:07:07] Rayna Neises: thought, I don’t remember the last time you were thought of me. You know, as a caregiver, I think in so many ways we’re unseen in that all that we’re doing and all that we’re giving .We feel like nobody notices.
[00:07:21] And so our needs and our struggles are oftentimes they go unseen and it’s beautiful when the person we’re caring for, steps back into that parent role and, and is compassionate and like you said, just knows how to give you just what you need in that moment.
[00:07:37] Jammie Johnson: Yes, absolutely.
[00:07:39] Rayna Neises: And we have to pay attention to those things cuz sometimes they can slide by.
[00:07:43] I love that you really have cherished that and it was something that such clarity brought such peace to you. And I look back and think it was just a little pat on the knee, but it was my daddy again. It was my, my daddy who was, who would do anything for me. As he was capable and as his disease progressed, there was less and less capability to be that person for me. So it is such a blessing.
[00:08:05] What would you say was most surprising to you about caregiving in general?
[00:08:10] Jammie Johnson: I think the most surprising thing was that I didn’t realize how rewarding being a caregiver would be. I felt like it was a great blessing, not only to my loved ones, but also to me to be able to care for them during the most vulnerable times in their lives. And so again, I, I didn’t, I knew as a child that I would need to care for my parents one day because I’m an only child.
[00:08:33] So I, I never in my wildest dreams would I want to give that opportunity to someone else unless I just couldn’t take care of them, but it was always my desire to take care of my parents. But I did not know that I would be taking care of my aunt and to have had the opportunity to take care of all three of them.
[00:08:51] I feel like I’ve grown tremendously from that. I, I feel like I’m more compassionate. I’m more empathetic. I feel like I’m more concerned about other people because of my responsibility with my family as well as my relationship with those individuals. It helped me to grow tremendously I wouldn’t trade it for the world if I had to do it all over again. I absolutely would do it all over again.
[00:09:15] Rayna Neises: I love how you highlighted in there too, how vulnerable they are. I think so many times as caregivers, we’re just seeing life from our own little spectacles and we forget to step outside of that. And it’s such a delicate dance when we understand their vulnerability and have that compassion for the side that they’re in at the same time as trying to take care of ourselves and our needs.
[00:09:38] And it can be a difficult thing to do, but it is such a vulnerable thing to be. Ill much less to be walking to the end of your life. There’s so many emotions and I can’t even imagine, looking back and knowing, okay, this is the end of my legacy. Really trying to put that bow on top of your life, you know, I mean, really being able to, to look at those things as they journey all the way home. It’s important to realize that that’s part of what they’re going through, and so that we can honor that with them.
[00:10:08] Jammie Johnson: Mm-hmm.
[00:10:10] Rayna Neises: So tell us how did God show up for you during your caregiving season?
[00:10:13] Jammie Johnson: Listen, my God always shows up for me.
[00:10:16] Rayna Neises: Amen.
[00:10:19] Jammie Johnson: Oh wow. I mean, He showed up for me with an abundance of peace. You know, that was one of my prayers each day. Lord, just, just give me peace to be able to endure hardness as a good soldier. Just, just help me to go through this season and give me the peace that passes all understanding. If I don’t know something, just give me a peace about it.
[00:10:38] And He absolutely gave me a piece. Not only did He give me a piece, but he provided support for me. You know, I didn’t know. I’ve mentioned I’m an only child, so, you know, I didn’t have three sisters or a brother that I could call, or some, I don’t have any children, so it, so that means I don’t have any, any grandchildren and without any siblings.
[00:10:56] I don’t have any nieces and nephews, you know, it was just me. And so God provided support, you know, through friends at church through some of my coworkers, through some of my mother’s friends that she had known down through the years. There were people that I was able to reach out to and ask for their help at different seasons.
[00:11:16] And they were able to give me support and not only physical support and support where they would come and sit with my mother if I needed to go and run errands or if I needed to go and speak at an event. Some went to the store for me, some brought, you know, supplies over to the house for me.
[00:11:33] Some cooked for me. Some just came to sit, you know just to give me some time. I could, some, there were days when I was just in another room and they were in the living room or wherever my mom was they were in there with her, just so that I can have some time alone. And then He also provided financial support for me.
[00:11:51] One day my former boss asked me you know, how much do, do you pay your caregiver each week? You know, and, and I told him, you know, how much I paid my caregiver each week. And one Friday he came to my office with an envelope with enough money to pay my caregiver for that week.
[00:12:10] And it, it was just such a blessing to me. I never. Expected it never looked for it, but to know. And, and in that particular week it was funny because the number that I had initially given him was a little bit more than was in the envelope, but it was exactly what I needed that week because she didn’t work one day.
[00:12:29] And so that’s how to the detail. You know, I’m getting emotional now, but that’s now to the detail. Our father is, He provides for us in ways that we could never expect a human being to provide for us, even though he uses humans to help us. Ultimately, the help that we need comes from Him and from Him alone, and I’m so grateful for all of the ways that He showed up for me during that.
[00:12:59] Rayna Neises: It’s amazing because I do think that so much of it is when we are caregiving, we are so out of our league. There is so much involved in it all. We can’t know it all and we can’t do it all. And so it is so amazing to see how He steps in and like you said, through people, through his spirit.
[00:13:20] It’s just, it’s humbling how He just steps right into those needs and gives us just what we need in, in the moment.
[00:13:27] Jammie Johnson: Absolutely.
[00:13:28] Rayna Neises: Beautiful. Thanks for sharing that, Jamie.
[00:13:31] So as we are wrapping up here, can you just have, do you have one nugget of wisdom that you’d like to pass on to others that are in the season of caring right now?
[00:13:41] Jammie Johnson: I think the biggest thing for caregivers is to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of anybody else. And that’s not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, physically, relationally, financially, you know everything that you need to be uplifted, encouraged, inspired, empowered to be refueled whatever that means for you.
[00:14:08] Do that. And make sure that you carve out time every day to do that. You know, some people are like, well, all I have is five minutes. We’ll take that five minutes and go find yourself a quiet place and take care of yourself and just keep your mind on the Lord. Keep your mind on Him. And I think once you keep, he will keep you in perfect peace when you keep your mind stayed on him.
[00:14:33] And that would be my, my word of wisdom for you.
[00:14:37] Rayna Neises: I think it’s so, I love that because it’s not about doing what somebody else works for them. It’s not about Taking time, only time, you know, needing this big block of time. But it’s really knowing and listening to what you need and definitely the biggest need is staying plugged into the source, which is Him.
[00:14:57] So that makes a big difference. But it is so important, and I think those of us that are outside of the caregiving season right now, see how important that was and what a difference it made whenever we really stayed focused in on meeting our needs and realizing. We have needs. This is stressful. There is a lot going on, and if we don’t pay attention, it’s not gonna be, it’s not gonna be pretty. So thank you, Jammie. We really appreciate you sharing some stories today and just encouraging the audience. I appreciate it.
[00:15:27] Jammie Johnson: Well, thank you so much for the invitation and again to all the caregivers. Just keep doing what you do. You’re doing a phenomenal job. God’s got you back.
[00:15:36] Rayna Neises: Amen. Jammie can be found @ The caregivers friend kc.com. as well as on Facebook. What’s the name of your Facebook group? Caregiver Crew. Is that how they find
[00:15:45] Jammie Johnson: It’s The Caregiver Crew on Facebook
[00:15:47] Rayna Neises: Oh, that’s right. Okay. The caregivers friend kc.com. Perfect. All right. Thank you again, Jammie. And thank you for joining us today for Stories of Hope with Jammie. This episode is brought to you by No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season. My story of caring for my parents. during their journey with Alzheimer’s disease.
[00:16:05] It’s filled with heartwarming stories, practical tips, and tools that I use to bury my parents with no regrets. No regrets: Hope for your caregiving season is available everywhere that you buy books, as well as I have a special gift set. Addition firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a great gift for your mom, grandmother, or aunt or anyone that you know that is caring for someone they love.
[00:16:27] A Season of Caring Podcast has been created to share stories of hope for living content, loving well, and caring with no regrets for family caregivers. If you have legal, financial, or medical questions, be sure to consult your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.
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