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EP #6: Self-Care for the Primary Caregiver.

In this episode, we discuss balancing life as a primary caregiver.  We see you and celebrate you but we also know that you need to take care of yourself as well.

Tune in to hear some personal stories of our loved ones and how to overcome the challenge of caring for another.

We will talk about tips to help you provide balance to your own life!  Ready to learn more? Check out this blog for some additional ideas.

To learn more about Home Instead Senior Care visit:
www.HomeInsteadSWFL.com
Call: 239-241-9765

Speaker 1:
Hello, and welcome to the Home Care Pod, your local resource when considering care. Now introducing the Home Care ladies, Laura Gillian and Audra Bidwell at your service.

Laura Gillian:
Hello everyone and thank you so much for tuning in today to the Home Care Pod. You’re here with your Home Care ladies. I’m Laura.

Audra Bidwell:
And I’m Audra.

Laura Gillian:
Hey Audra, how have you been?

Audra Bidwell:
That’s a great question. I’m exhausted. I’m recovering from a cold which has just been crazy. And we’re in the throws of baseball and softball season. I feel like I have been like on a steady diet of hot dogs and snow cones, and we’ve been at the ballpark every night. And then as you know, our business has been really, really steady and busy. So, it’s been a lot to try and take all of that and keep it together. Yeah.

Laura Gillian:
Yeah, absolutely. It’s really interesting that you mentioned that because the topic for today’s episode is the stress and the balance for the primary caregivers. And you’re basically the primary caregiver there.

Audra Bidwell:
I surely am.

Laura Gillian:
So, when we refer to the term primary caregiver, what we’re talking about is generally a family member or a spouse or an adult child, or any other person whose responsibility is to provide care for someone, but it’s not getting paid.

Audra Bidwell:
Right. Firstly, to all of those who are doing that for a loved one, whether it be for a child or a parent or anyone else, we want you to know that we really see you and we honor you. As we know, it can be really difficult. And many times it’s a thankless job.

Audra Bidwell:
I know from personal experience, as we take care of clients of other families, my own family, my mom and my dad both are the primary caregivers for their moms. And so, one of my grandmothers just celebrated her 97th birthday on Friday, which is pretty cool. She lives alone and she is completely self-sufficient. And my mom goes over and helps her with a lot of like shopping and she gets meals on wheels. So that’s very helpful for her. And then my dad’s mom, she is a little bit, has a few health problems.

Audra Bidwell:
So she’s in an assisted living up in my hometown, but my dad takes care of everything as far as her care. They’re both the POA’s for their moms, so I know what goes into this and how much time, no matter if they’re home or living in your home or living in their own home or living even in assisted living. There is so much that primary caregivers do. I mean, it is both a burden and a huge blessing though, to be able to provide that kind of care.

Laura Gillian:
Yeah, so maybe you are still working in your career, but also caring for your mom. And you’re wondering how do I balance it all? Well today, we’re going to share some tips with you to avoid that burnout and to give you some self-care. Back before home care existed, if you needed to have assistance in your home, you had to hire a nurse. And many times that nurse was costly and didn’t meet the needs that you had. So maybe you needed someone to help cook meals and a nurse wasn’t going to do that for you.

Laura Gillian:
So back in the late eighties and early nineties, my mom was the primary caregiver for her parents. And I asked her to share some experiences with me. And so I’m going to read what she has to say.

Laura Gillian:
February 14th, Valentine’s day, 1989 was a terrible day. New doctor, new diagnosis. My mom had terrible pain in her neck, shoulders, and back. Her doctor kept telling her that it was arthritis and told her to take Tylenol for the pain. Day after day the pain continued to get worse. We suggested that she see our doctor for a second opinion. After examining her, she knew immediately that she was dealing with cancer. A biopsy was done and confirmed that she did have breast cancer.

Laura Gillian:
When you do hear those words, cancer, any kind, your heart stops and you begin to panic because you don’t know what to expect. Sadly, we did not know that she had cancer until it had already spread to her bones. Right after my mom’s diagnosis, my father had a heart attack. He survived, but he was unable to care for mom and needed help with cleaning their home and preparing meals. At the time I was a teacher, I would have to take time off work, to take mom to doctors and to chemo treatments. When I was at work, I was always worried about them. Dad was very weak and mom was in constant pain. If mom were to fall, dad would not be able to help her.

Laura Gillian:
After a year of taking care of two houses, stopping before work to get them breakfast, then running home during lunch break to check on them and stopping on my way home, we decided we need to take a leave of absence as it had become too difficult to care for my parents, my own family, and to be working full-time. Mom moved in with us and dad would come every day for meals, but return home to sleep.

Laura Gillian:
By the second year, dad could no longer stay alone and he moved in with my brother and sister-in-law. Watching parents fails is very difficult, but even more difficult was thinking of them being alone and having something happen to them.

Laura Gillian:
Now, let me just say that having my grandparents in my home for the last few years of their lives was something that I will always treasure, but I know that it took a major toll on my mom.

Audra Bidwell:
Wow. That’s an awesome story. I love your mom so much for so many things and now I love her even more.

Laura Gillian:
I can’t believe I was able to get through it without [crosstalk 00:00:06:12].

Audra Bidwell:
I know, great job.

Laura Gillian:
It was such a special time and being 10, 11 years old, and seeing that kind of relationship, it was amazing.

Audra Bidwell:
Yeah. That puts some framework around why you do what you do. Well, back to what we’re talking about for caregivers. If you’re listening right now and you’re still working, here are some thoughts about how you might handle that with an employer.

Audra Bidwell:
So the first step is really to have open communication with your employer. This is really crucial because there are many times, that you may have to leave work early to assist mom, or it might even open your eyes to some benefits that you’re offered as an employee that you didn’t even know existed.

Laura Gillian:
Yeah, absolutely. As a company, we have provided respite care for family members through grants and benefits that the adult child’s employer has offered. So it would be really cool to ask your employer, is this something that you offer? And I think it’s awesome that some companies provide that.

Audra Bidwell:
Yeah. The next tip is to really be proactive with your work schedule. This goes hand in hand with keeping that open communication with your employer. Maybe you can flex hours, maybe you can work from home. Maybe a coworker could switch shifts with you to ensure that you’re there for your mom or dad or your loved one when they need you.

Laura Gillian:
Absolutely. And lady, especially during this pandemic, so many employers, are offering that work-from-home option. So it’s definitely worth that ask.

Audra Bidwell:
Definitely. The last thing that we’re going to talk about is knowing your own limits and asking for help. Please, please, please, if nothing else do not feel guilty. So many times when I talk to primary caregivers who are looking for help, there’s this feeling that they should be able to do it all for whatever reason. We’re not superheroes here, we have to ask for help.

Laura Gillian:
Right. And as the primary caregiver, you must take that good care of yourself and your needs. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself getting burn out or even worse, sick yourself. Maybe you’ll find that you could benefit from a few times a week that you’re off the clock and someone else will be in charge to help that loved one. We call this respite care and taking respite is super important. This time will help you recharge and feel at your best when you’re back to caring for your loved one.

Audra Bidwell:
That’s right. You got to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Right, Laura?

Laura Gillian:
That’s right.

Audra Bidwell:
Maybe you’re listening to us today and something that we said really struck a chord with you. Maybe you feel like we’re talking directly to you. If you do, take it as a sign. Call us at Home Instead, we can definitely, definitely help you.

Laura Gillian:
Yeah. Or maybe you’re listening and it sounds like somebody you know. Reach out to that person, be a listening ear to them. Offer help to them or just let them know that you see them and you value them, it could go a really long way. So just know that we’re here too, standing by to assist.

Audra Bidwell:
That’s right. And thanks to everyone for tuning in today. I hope these tips were helpful. We’re always here to try and help and take care of yourself and take care of each other. We’ll see you next time here on the Home Care Pod. Bye lady.

Laura Gillian:
Bye.

Speaker 1:
Thanks again for listening to the Home Care pod with Laura and Audra your Home Care ladies. To learn more about home care or a career as a caregiver, please visit our website at www.homeinsteadswfl.com or call us at (239) 226-0007.