Entrepreneurs Who Are Also Family Caregivers Series – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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This article is the second in a series about successful entrepreneurs who are crushing it in their businesses but also managing the challenge of caring for a loved one.


Meet Valerie Grubb, MBA, the owner of Valerie Grubb & Associates. She founded her human resources consulting and training firm after many years in the corporate world. In addition to running her business, Valerie is also the founder of the blog “Travel with Aging Parents” https://travelwithagingparents.com which eventually led to the publication of her book, Planes, Canes, and Automobiles: Connecting With Your Aging Parents Through Travel. This book was inspired by her love of traveling with her older Mom Dorothy.

As Dorothy has aged, Valerie has taken on more of a caregiver role. As a working caregiver, Valerie views being her own boss as an advantage. “Mom’s situation was actually a big driver for me to leave corporate America and go out on my own as I needed more flexibility in my schedule to manage Mom’s life. I don’t know of any company today that would allow me to take time off to go to Mom’s for a week every month and a half. Not sure that exists. So, going out on my own has allowed me to work, yet on my schedule.”

While many employees at larger organizations enjoy the benefits of a Human Resources Department like FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and other paid time off, many entrepreneurs like Valerie do have the luxury of working from anywhere. Since that is the case for Valerie, she had her mother’s home “wired up” so she could work more efficiently when she’s providing hands-on care for Dorothy.

In what ways does Valerie’s story inspire you? How can you turn being a business owner into a plus while you are a working caregiver?

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

How Do You Break Unhealthy Promises? – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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Most people don’t make promises with the plan to ever break them. But with good intentions, many caregivers often make promises to their older loved ones that are difficult, if not impossible, to keep. Such promises include statements like:

I will never … put you in a nursing home.
I will never … let strangers take care of you.
I will never … move you out of your home.

Caregivers take such promises seriously. But it’s important that caregivers make peace with the fact that they may not be able to keep these promises indefinitely. When promises like these are made, the caregiver typically doesn’t know what he or she is truly agreeing to. The caregiver had every intention to keep this promise but circumstances changed.

Maybe your older loved one’s dementia is so advanced that she is wandering out of the house each day, putting herself at risk. Since you can’t have your eyes on her at all times, 24/7 supervision at a senior living community or nursing home may need to be considered.

Maybe helping your older loved one bathe after his stroke is becoming too physically demanding for you. In this case, perhaps a home care agency can help. You may resist taking these options into account because of the earlier vow you made to your loved one.

So what do you do if keeping that earlier promise is becoming impossible?

If your loved one does not have memory loss, explain why you are changing course: What have the consequences been to your life by keeping this promise? For example, you may explain to your older loved one that because you are spending so much time helping out at his house, you have been late to work five times in the past month. Then you can discuss options such as hiring home care, a housekeeper or arranging to have meals delivered.

Frequently older loved ones will not be happy with changes they did not initiate, but the caregiver must set such boundaries to avoid burnout. In addition, many older adults do not want to impose on their family members so they will try to understand.

If you have already made a promise and your loved one has cognitive impairment, you may not be able to have a conversation where you can reason with him or her and discuss how the circumstances have changed. But it’s still important to let yourself off the hook. Talk to a geriatric care manager, a psychotherapist, your spiritual advisor or a supportive friend to deal with your guilt. Give yourself permission to reframe your earlier pledge.

Most people, especially older adults, want to remain at home without assistance for the rest of their lives. In an effort to make this dream come true, caregivers struggle with negative emotional, spiritual and physical consequences of trying to honor their loved ones’ wishes at any cost.

While it is admirable for caregivers to respect their loved ones’ preferences, it is critical to understand that many promises cannot and should not be upheld in many care situations. In order to be healthy themselves and provide the best care for their loved ones, caregivers must make peace with the fact that keeping earlier promises is often unmanageable.

If you haven’t made such a specific promise to an older loved one you are caring for, resist. Don’t do it. Instead say, “I will make sure you have the best care I can afford.” Or, “I will keep you at home as long as it is safe for everyone involved.”

While it can be very upsetting to both the caregiver and older loved one, often revisiting caregiving promises is essential. Further, sometimes even breaking those promises is absolutely necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of both the caregiver and the older adult.

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

 

 

Tips For Confronting A Risky Older Driver – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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If you have an older patient, client or loved one whose driving concerns you, you are not alone.  Most of us struggle with talking about dangerous driving with older patients, clients and loved ones.  Just getting older involves physical and cognitive changes that can impact road safety.

Check out Jennifer FitzPatrick’s first international radio appearance discussing tips about this issue with Gord Gillies on News Talk 770 Calgary https://omny.fm/shows/the-morning-news-with-gord-gillies/seniors-driving .

 

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

5 Tips To Help You Live Happily Ever After At Home For The Rest Of Your Life – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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Nobody’s first choice is to live in a nursing home. Most people prefer not to move in with adult children or other loved ones either. Even if an older adult is open to the idea of a CCRC (continuing care retirement community) or assisted living, they are very expensive options. Aging in place is often considered the most cost-effective option for those who are healthy. Though many older adults will eventually reside in senior living residences, most would prefer to live at home for as long as possible. Here are 5 tips to help you do just that:

  1. Choose your home for aging in place carefully. Living near reputable healthcare institutions and providers you trust is crucial. Having a social support system nearby is also vital. Finally, having a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor is a huge help. Many older adults opt to move into a rancher or a condo with an elevator so navigating stairs will never be an issue. While this is a great strategy, some older persons want to remain in their “forever home” indefinitely. Remaining in the multi-story home in which you raised your family is a viable option if there is a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor. If an older person becomes less ambulatory, these features make the difference between being able to age in place or not. Ideally, the older person living in a multi-story home will also have the laundry machine on the first floor as well.
  2. Understand normal aging and prepare for it. In order to age in place successfully, it helps to understand the normal aging process. All of our senses and organs become a bit less efficient. Even when no disease or abnormal conditions are present, all of us experience these changes. For example, all older adults are more at risk for falls because of diminished reaction time which happens to everyone. Older adults desiring to age in place should be mindful of anything that would exacerbate fall risk in the private home: throw rugs, dim lighting, clutter, etc.
  3. Join or start a Village. Villages are grass-roots community based organizations that help support members who wish to age in place. To find out if there is one in your community or how to start one, check out www.vtvnetwork.org.
  4. Embrace technology. Life Alert systems are quite effective in detecting falls, especially the ones that are waterproof and can be worn in the bath or shower. Wearable technologies like Jawbone Up, Fitbit and Lively Safety Watch can allow family members to track some of the older person’s health habits. For example, the family member and older person aging in place can both wear the Jawbone Up or Fitbit, link their accounts and see data like how many steps the other person has taken or the quality of the other person’s sleep. Not only does this increase information that family has about an older loved one’s lifestyle but it may encourage the older person to be less sedentary and embrace better sleep habits. The Lively Safety Watch includes sensors that can be attached to the refrigerator and other objects in the home (e.g. a bathroom door) to determine how often the older person has been eating or when she uses the restroom.
  5. Look into home care options now. You may not need help with chores or taking a shower right today but someday you might.  Get to know the home care options in your community early—before you need home care services.

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

Who Will Take Care of You When You’re Old? – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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My husband and I don’t have kids. Finally, now that we are in our mid-forties, people have stopped asking when we will. But for a very long time, when we indicated that we didn’t have children, people—even strangers—would inquire, “But who will be there for you when you get older?” Frequently my response was, “We have long term care insurance,” with a smile. That usually shut down the conversation.

Of course, such discussions have always reminded me that our older adulthood will differ from peers who will have adult children, grandchildren and possibly even great-grandchildren. While having children does not guarantee anyone a caregiver someday, we know that we may have less social support than other older adults.

Because of this, when I first heard about Joy Loverde’s new book Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?, I immediately said to my husband, “We need this book.” I’m thrilled to report that this book is much more than what I was expecting. While Loverde recognizes our situation, she also reminds the reader that thinking ahead about who will support you in old age is not just an issue for the childless. Even those with many adult children should be proactive in developing a robust social network for their later years.

Loverde covers practical ideas such as how to become better at socializing (even if you consider yourself shy) so you can enjoy more social support. She also offers provocative ideas like having a funeral before you die. Repeatedly while reading Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old, I found myself thinking, “I never thought of that before!”

Though I was initially personally interested in Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old, professionally I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to have a more fulfilling aging experience.

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.