If you are a working caregiver, your company may offer an EAP – an Employee Assistance Program. Many employers offer this benefit because they realize that you have many demands and stresses put on you outside of your work life that impact your job and it’s in everyone’s best interest if they help you cope.
However, like me, you may have overlooked your EAP.
I went to a lunch-n-learn at my company that outlined all the benefits an EAP has and I was blown away. I kept repeating in my head as the speaker was talking ‘I wish I knew about all of this a couple years ago!’
I left the session and went immediately to a couple family caregivers I know at work to share what I learned so that they could take advantage of some of these resources or at least be made aware of their existence.
EAP is one of those widespread benefits that is ‘out there’ and I think people think about the obvious use – counseling for them self – the employee. But even when I was picking up more and more caregiving responsibilities and completely overwhelmed I didn’t consider that EAP was for me.
I didn’t coin the phrase ‘courageous conversation’, I first heard this term from my sister who used it in the context of meetings she has with her employees where she has to often coach them on how they can improve.
When she shared that term with me, I immediately thought of those uncomfortable but necessary conversations I have had to have with my parents.
After my dad retired, my parents made Florida their primary residence and Michigan their summer residence. They lived independently for many years and outsourced the tasks and jobs that they really no longer wanted to do and could afford someone else to do such as housekeeping and yard maintenance.
Gradually over the years, independent living became a struggle and the amount of everyday living tasks that were being outsourced expanded. Individuals were hired to grocery shop, prepare meals and snacks, and run errands. Then, as my mom became less mobile, personal assistance was needed organizing medications, massaging and wrapping her legs, showering, driving and accompanying her to various doctor appointments.
While they lived on the ocean in their dream home, they were mostly confined to the condo. Independent living for them was like wading in the ocean. When their health was status quo and their help was coming consistently, life was doable. But, as soon as a big unexpected wave crashed in, it would topple them over and have a ripple effect on our entire family. (more…)
Each month, I have a one-on-one interview with a Caregiver in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community. I call each of these recorded conversations a ‘Caregiver Spotlight’. I started these because each caregiver journey is unique and I know every time I talk to another caregiver I learn something new and I leave that conversation knowing I’m not alone and feel encouraged by others.
I’m excited to introduce you to my wonderful sister Susie!
Susie lives in Pennsylvania and is the amazing primary caregiver to our 78 year old mother and 53 year old brother with Asperger’s.
On top of this, she manages a household of four very active children ranging in age from 17-22 and she is a marvelous oil painter! For my entire family, the past few years have been crazy! Not only did we lose our father and move mom four times but Susie also went through a divorce.
Are you as curious about essential oils? Lately I’ve been hearing more and more about them and I just had to know what these are all about.
As part of my holistic health discovery, I enjoy learning about natural ways to overcome health obstacles and optimize health.
My expert interview conversation with Sue Ellen Jones certainly peaked my curiosity about essential oils even more.
Sue Ellen Jones is a former teacher turned Essential Oils Wellness Advocate with doTerra (which means ‘gift of the earth’). Sue Ellen lives with her husband in Alpena, Michigan. She’s raised five children and now enjoys 13 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. (more…)
Caregiver, please don’t make this mistake. If you are already making it…it’s time to course correct it. It’s never too late to start.
There is a big common myth among caregivers. Caregivers believe that they are supposed to give and give everything they have to those that they care for. Caregivers usually feel guilty if they don’t do this. They believe if they aren’t 100% focused on the person they are caring for then they aren’t doing enough.
Analogies to get your attention
If you were a hearty steak and potato dinner, there would be only so much of you for every one to consume before there was no food left. We need food to survive. Eventually, your house guests will get hungry again and you’ll either have to whip up something else or head to the store for more food.
You have a big heart. If you also had a surplus of extra cash for charity, there would only be so much good you could do before you’d have to return to work or acquire donors for your cause to earn more cash so you could go out and do more good.
If you were a full tank of gas there would be only so many places you could go before you’d run out of gas and need to stop for a refill. (more…)
Each month, I have a one-on-one interview with a caregiver in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community. I call each of these recorded conversations a ‘Caregiver Spotlight’. I started these because each caregiver journey is unique and I know every time I talk to another caregiver I learn something new and I leave that conversation knowing I’m not alone and feel a little bit stronger.
Beth lives in Pittsburgh, PA area and has been caring for her 80 year old elderly aunt in her home for almost 2 years. Beth has four teenagers and says she is married to ‘one of the nicest people she’s ever met’. Beth enjoys running and writing about interesting things on her ‘Being Home‘ blog.
Beth’s mother lives across the street which she says played a huge part in allowing herself to even consider taking this primary caregiver role on in the first place. In addition to her mom, Beth has lots of local support including her cousin and a doctor neighbor who willingly makes house calls.
Beth is also grateful Aunt Linda is overall pleasant, in spite of her progressing dementia and other ailments, including diabetes. (more…)
Throughout our caregiving journey, we are developing so many new skills and collecting more resources than we know what to do with.
It can feel like we are getting our ‘masters in caregiving’ and preparing to write a thesis!
Getting her ‘masters’ was an expression that Colleen Kavanaugh, Certified Caregiving Consultant, used to explain why after a decade of caring for her own parents she decided to pursue a career in caregiving.
Whether we like it or not, caregiving changes us.
Each month, I have a one-on-one call with a caregiver in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community. I call each of these recorded conversations a ‘Caregiver Spotlight’. I started these because each caregiver journey is unique and I know every time I talk to another caregiver I learn something new and I leave that conversation knowing I’m not alone and feel a little bit stronger.
This month, I spoke to Cindy who lives in Georgia with her husband and two daughters. Cindy knows the challenges well of helping to care for aging parents out-of-state while juggling a job and being involved in your children’s busy lives. Cindy helped her mom care for her dad who suffered from Alzheimer’s. He passed away 3 years ago. Cindy is currently the primary caregiver for her mom who lives in Florida and she is planning to move her mom close by. This is no easy task since her parents had a independent business and lived in their home for 48 years. (more…)
Sometimes you just have to laugh at your caregiving situation. A little caregiver humor can go a long way! When my sisters and I were packing my mom and moving her from her assisted living in Georgia to my sister’s home in Pennsylvannia, we created a group text called ‘It’s a Great day to give care’ (this is Susie’s mantra that she adapted from Grey’s Anatomy mantra ‘it’s a beautiful day to save lives’) and in this group text there are tons of random little texts that start with ‘You know you are a caregiver when…’.
A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles. – Mignon McLaughlin
Each time I read one of the texts or added my own, I knew that smiles where occurring and the day was looking a little brighter. It’s a fun game to play when you are in a thick of some crazy, can’t make this s&%t up caregiver situation, and you are challenged to flip it on its side or upside down to discover the humor. As caregivers we can’t change what happens to us but we can change and own how we react to situations. Choosing to find the caregiver humor in situations will help you stay sane.
Ready for some caregiver humor?
I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ‘You know You are a Caregiver’ texts that were exchanged between me and my sisters:
What do you give a caregiver to show them you care and are thinking about them? What they really want is more time and available hands to call when they are needed . But in our society where the demand of our time far surpasses the supply, it’s a struggle to be that helper we want to be to those caregivers we love. Often times, I have heard the phrase, ‘Please let me know how I can help.’ I never even knew how to reply to that statement. It may be well meaning but it’s not actionable. Being a caregiver is tough stuff. Often times caregiving is emotional draining and physically straining. There are usually no warning signs when a caregiving crisis is approaching. It’s reactive, urgent, and stressful. We don’t know when or if things will improve and often times we know that our situation will probably get worse before it gets better . When a loved one has a disease or a chronic illness, the whole family is impacted in some way. As caregivers, we all have those days, weeks, or even months when we feel like we are on a treadmill and no matter how hard we try to stay on top of it, the plates and pieces we are juggling fall and it feels like no matter how much we give it’s never enough.
I think a gift that continues to remind an overwhelmed caregiver that they are enough is a great gift.