The Caregiver Cup Podcast

Creating a Fulfilling Caregiving Journey: Be The 15%

August 08, 2023 Cathy VandenHeuvel Episode 173
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
Creating a Fulfilling Caregiving Journey: Be The 15%
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
Help us continue making great content for caregiver listeners everywhere.
Starting at $3/month
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Feeling overwhelmed and stressed as a caregiver? You're not alone. Join me on this emotional roller coaster ride, where I share my personal experiences and discuss the common challenges caregivers face. I know firsthand the struggle of waking up each day feeling hopeless and the reliance on quick fixes like power naps, late-night work, and denial. But what if we could move past these temporary fixes and aim for a more fulfilling caregiving life?

Get ready to be part of that 15% who are courageous enough to bring about lasting changes in their caregiving journey. I'll guide you through the process of stepping out of your comfort zone, combating negative thoughts, and making small, consistent steps towards a better caregiving life. Together, we'll explore my new course, Empowerful Caregiver School, focused on developing new skills, creating habits, and taking consistent action. Trust me, it's not as scary as it sounds.

And, because caregivers deserve all the care in the world, we'll wrap up by discussing the importance of self-care, to combat loneliness and improve overall well-being. Through habit stacking and pursuing personal passions, we can create moments of joy in our caregiving journey. So, let's strive for a healthier, happier life, not just for our loved ones, but for ourselves too. After all, caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint.

Get on the waitlist coming out in September.   I will be limiting the size of this group, so if you’re even considering it. 

Support the show

Thank you for listening. If you know of another caregiver who could benefit from this podcast, please copy and share this episode.

Follow me by clicking on the links below:

Speaker 1:

Well, hello there and welcome to another episode of the Caregiver Cup podcast. It's Kathy here. I am so excited for you to go ahead and listen to this podcast today because I know this will go ahead and be something that you're going to be thinking about. My hope is that you think about it for hours after, maybe even days after, because we're going to talk about 15%. Only 15% will take the step. Those 15% are courageous. They're confident people. They're reluctant to take the step, they're anxious, and by taking action, they're doing it one step at a time. Are you that 15% or are you going to be that 15%? Well, let me take a step back a bit and talk about this Based on a lot of research and really working with clients. Most caregivers wake up each day and I know you can relate to this. You're feeling stressed, you're overwhelmed, you're frustrated All of these mixed negative emotions that you have minutes when you're getting up out of bed. You may not even want to get up because of all of the stressors that you have. Their life, and caregiving life, can feel like a torturous and emotional roller coaster ride. I know that's dramatic, but it's true. It's a constant cycle of worry and relief, frustration, and then there's a little bit of sunshine. I could go on and on. It's over and over and over again. Think about that roller coaster ride. You go up and you're down, you're up and you're down. I know all too well this horrible feeling of hopelessness. I know you do too. Many of my clients, many of the CircleCup members, are working on trying to fix that. But what happens to most of us? When we're in this overwhelm and feeling stuck, it comes back again. It's like getting back on that roller coaster ride and going up and down, up and down. Unfortunately, our normal efforts are temporary fixes. Usually we think about those temporary fixes and I'm going to be honest with you If you go on social media, it's temporary fixes most of the time. For me, being in my first year, year and a half, I thought that's all we had was temporary fixes until the light bulb came in. But when you go ahead and just do temporary fixes, you're not getting to the root cause of it. I tried temporary fixes until I truly focused on being the 15% and really focusing on the things that remain the same. If you remember back when we were talking about season one, season two and season three of our lives and I'll talk about this just in a few seconds in the podcast, but I felt like I needed to share this quick. Only 15% will want to go ahead and move out of just a normal caregiving life, out of that hopelessness. Being the 15% means not just settling for quick fixes, but let's back up and talk about those quick fixes first. Many of us just think about in desperate measures, and when the symptoms happen and the challenges happen, we reach for quick fixes. I'll give you just a few. That I did. I could go on and on with them, but I would take a day off. Versus addressing my true feeling of fatigue, I thought, oh yeah, I'll take a day off, sleep in which I did slept in, could go ahead and take a nice shower and take my time getting ready. I might even throw in a few loads of clothes at my home. I might watch, and binge watch a few episodes of a Netflix series, and then I would eat and really just be with myself. It recharged me. But what happened was the next day bam, you're right back at it again. It reminds me of going on vacation. How are you? Take a three-day weekend yeah, it happens, and you feel really rested, and then all of a sudden, boom, it hits you back in the face and within an hour you don't even realize that you had that day off. Or how many of us have stayed up late to watch or to work? I'm not watch to work on something, to get caught up. I would go ahead and stay up late so I could get my project done. For my job, I didn't have enough time during the day because I was running appointments or I was behind, or I would stay up late and be able to go ahead and get caught up around my home because I was with my mom or my dad days and I would go ahead and do that. Then you're so proud of yourself and I would always drink extra caffeine and just kind of keep power through it. You're so proud of yourself, you got it done. But then you look at the clock and it's two or three am. Oh my gosh. What happens the next day? Yeah, you're so tired. Instead of working on changing your schedule or looking at your priorities or looking at bringing in help, we go ahead and try to do that ourselves. Or how about sweeping your emotions under the rug? You're feeling that emotional feeling anger, resentment, depression, loneliness. You could cry at the drop of the pen or you could scream at somebody. But you're saying, knock it off, I'm going to make it through. And you don't address that feeling, you blame it on just. You're just in a bad mood today and you don't address that. What happens? It just bottles up. Or another one is you convinced I convinced myself that things were going to get better. Kathy, just leave it alone. Things are going to get better. We just have to get through this week, or we just have to get through this day and just be patient. Well, it doesn't. When it comes to caregiving, if you look at your loved one and know what your loved one is going through, things are not going to change. As a matter of fact, they're probably going to go ahead and get worse. If your loved one has a chronic condition or a disease or a diagnosis that you know is, there's no care for it. Oh, I can't tell you how many times though, I said you know what? I deserve? A treat. I deserve to go ahead and do that. I can't tell you how many times, in my first year, I told people. I told me oh, just go get a pedicure. Well, your toes feel good for an hour, but a pedicure doesn't solve a darn thing. Or I'm going to go ahead and buy myself a fancy drink I'm a black coffee girl of a fancy latte at Starbucks, and you know it'll all go away. Or I'm going to go and buy myself a new shirt so I could wear a new shirt and it's going to make me feel good. Maybe it changes my mood for a few minutes, but that's not going to solve my original overwhelm and stuff. Another one that I still relied on right up until the end, and it's a quick fix, but it was something that's needed. It was a taking power naps because I could not get a good night's sleep, because I did not go ahead and allow myself time to get a good night's sleep. I took power naps and it made me through. It reminds me of a doctor or an emergency room technician or a nurse. They have to work these ungodly 24, 48 hour shifts or three day shifts, and their sleep is constantly interrupted. Well, sleep is such a necessary tool for you to go ahead and make healthy choices, to live healthy and so on. Instead of saying you know what, I'm going to look at other options so I can get a healthy night's sleep. Yeah, that truly was it. It was really difficult, when Dennis was in a stem cell transplant, to get a full night's sleep, and so I had to rely on power naps. But I knew that there was an end in sight for me and I would be able to do that. But six weeks was way too long. If I could go back, I would have actually brought in my son or a family member to be there so I could, on the weekends, go ahead and get a better night's sleep. But I could go on, and on, and on and on. I'm sure you're like me. We continue to search for this magical solution, this trick or this potion that can go ahead and fix all of these stressors and challenges and of our day to day life. It reminds me of somebody that's looking for that quick fix when it comes to dieting. I need to stand up for a wedding and I need to lose 10 pounds within a week. What can I do from a diet perspective? Or it's like me I need to go ahead and look for this magical serum that's going to go ahead and take away my crow's feet and my turkey neck, and you know what? There's not a quick fix, there's not a magical solution. You have to go ahead and look at realistically what can you do and look at how you can go ahead from a caregiving perspective. How can you go ahead and look at your caregiver life and make steps and be that 15% that's going to go ahead and look for real solutions that you can take, one step at a time, that's gonna drastically change that? The truth is, things can't change until you think and you believe you can make changes. Let me say it again the truth is, from your caregiver perspective, things can't change until you think and believe you can make changes and things can change. I just want you to think about what would this better caregiver life look like for you? It's not going to be the perfect caregiver life, but what if you could close your eyes and think about if I could go back or if I could go forward and make this life better? What are the things that I see? What is the ideal situation for me? And you can find moments of joy. Maybe your caregiver life looks like you're going to go ahead and have time with your girlfriend one day a week and you're going to go ahead and bring in a family member to sit with your loved one. So you get one day a week to go ahead and just talk to somebody, get out for a couple of hours. You're using that time to go ahead and have lunch with your girlfriend. You can go ahead and do any personal errands that you leave, and maybe you go ahead and even sit yourself on a park bench and you just take in nature and the sounds. That's a moment of joy for you. Maybe it's for you. Your ideal situation is that you're not stressed out, handling challenges and the struggles that come each and every day. Right now, maybe, you're a loose cannon and because of the fact that you can't take it anymore, you're at your wit's end. It reminds me of a mother, because I had my little grandson Curtis over yesterday and, oh my gosh, she was so happy. Oh my gosh, terrible twos are terrible twos. I remember them so much. But again you're like a loose cannon because you haven't been out of the house, you haven't talked to anybody, you're constantly at your loved one's beckoning call and anytime there's a little challenge, you lose it. Or anytime there's a little struggle, you lose it, and in the past you'd look at it and saying that would have not bothered me before, but now, all of a sudden, it's bothering me. So maybe that's what your ideal caregiver life looks like. Maybe your ideal caregiver life's being open to new ideas and looking for constant ways to go ahead and make things easier. We've talked about this in the podcast episodes In the past how can you make things easier? What can you do to simplify? Last week, I believe, we talked about the easy button and we talked about how can I make things easier and being open to new ideas and making changes. Maybe your ideal caregiver life, or a better caregiver life, means having a connection and a relationship with your loved one that isn't just nursing, isn't just the maid, isn't just the launderer, isn't just the chef. Maybe your connection and relationship with your loved one maybe you want that to be you go ahead and play cards together or you watch a favorite show together and the relationship gets better because you're making strides to make changes to that. That was mine for my mom. I wanted a better connection with my mom and I wanted my mother-daughter relationship back, versus her going ahead and me being the sheriff and the nurse and all that kind of stuff. Maybe your ideal life is less fatigue and more energy, because you have none right now. What could you do? Maybe your better life is experimenting and trying new things inside and outside of caregiving. Well, my friend, you can. You can move into this season three and be the 15%. And remember, I'm gonna formally talk you through this again Episodes ago and while I'm talking you through this, I'm gonna look up the episode so that I can refer back to it for you. But when you think about season one of your life, season one is when you became that caregiver or that caregiver, new situation happened. It could be you're a brand new caregiver or it could be the time where things have changed and you're going through the change. It's the chaos, it's the newness, it's where you're stressed out and where you're overwhelmed. Season two now is you've adjusted to caregiving, but you're coping, you're adapting, you're feeling like this is your new normal and as the season of two goes on, you're starting to feel like there's nothing else but this life. You're reusing words like I'm stuck. It is what it is. I feel hopeless and you're missing your old life. Season three and only 15% of people take this change is where they want to live a better caregiver life. They wanna go ahead and make changes and try to go ahead and look at options and taking one step at a time. It might be something as simple as having a morning routine, which I'll talk about, or it could be bringing in help, and I'm gonna put the episode number in the show notes because I have to go ahead and look at it a little bit further and I can't do two things at once sometimes because it'll take my concentration off of talking to you. It's kind of like us having lunch and I have my head in my phone. That's not good. So 85% of caregivers will choose to stay stuck, and mostly the reasons why is because they're out there, fear, they're fearful to make the changes, or their negative thoughts and their negative talk is telling them not to. What comes to mind right now is people change is hard and in people fear change because, okay, now I have to go ahead and try this and do this and do that, and then their negative talk starts talking them out of it and so. But I hope you are the 15% who wanted to begin with raising the expectations for you and your loved one, becoming more of a becoming and really thinking about a new strategy. Maybe you're the 15% who wants to align your energy and realign your energy, because you're saying I can't feel this fatigue all the time, or maybe your health condition has finally told you you can't do that all the time. I've had clients who've had, you know, medical conditions, real life medical conditions high blood pressure, heart attacks. You know depression, myself included. Maybe you're the 15% who says I'm going to set expectations on what's important for me and for my loved one. In my upcoming new course called the Empowerful Caregiver School, I'm going to be talking about developing new skills, creating new habits, creating new rituals, taking consistent action and changing your attitude when it comes to going ahead and improving your caregiver life. It really is. It reminds me of being a new mom and I would be like, okay, this is the next season, I gotta figure out how can I get through this season. Okay, I can't let, I can't go in every time the baby, the toddler, cries. And my son came home yesterday and he said Kurt is going through the stage where they get him in bed and then, as soon as he wakes up and doesn't see mom or dad there, he cries and he won't go back to sleep until mom or dad come and sit by him. And I'm like, oh boy. I remember those days and I said you can stay in that 85% and rub his back and sit by his bed and wait for him to come out and sneak out of the room. That will work, but what are the consequences? Or how can you go ahead and reassure him that you have to go to bed right now? You know, here's your book to look at or here's the lights to look at, but you have to go night night now, and it breaks a parent's heart when they have to hear their baby sobbing because they want mom or dad and they're crying mom dad, mom dad. And when they have to get used to going to head and sleeping on their own. And so the same applies for you. What can you do to find joy in the season and start making changes so that you can go ahead and live an effective, happier, healthier caregiver life and have that quality care for your loved one, without burning yourself up, without causing harm to your body and your mind and your soul and all of that kind of stuff? Like I said, though, it takes courage, it takes confidence and it takes understanding that there are many, gonna be many options for you to start and do. Like we said last week, you were taking that assessment and then you take one step at a time and start making those changes. I know each season brings different challenges with you and each obstacle brings different challenges with you, but you can put yourself first, and it took me a while to go ahead and have those hard conversations with my mom. It took me a while to realize that I had to put myself first, but when I did, I did it one step at a time and the result was a quality caregiver life, and what it did is it required me to take a step back and ask myself some really hard questions and taking small steps, and so what I wanna do next is to go through a couple of thoughts and questions that I use when I started developing this relook, this 15% step up of my life, and the very first question was what can you do for you? What can you do for you? One of the biggest questions I ask my clients is after we figure out their caregiver life and all of the the challenges and obstacles and we unpack how they're feeling and they tell me what they've been trying to do, which is not I want to make sure I stress this those quick fixes that you are doing are not out of vain, are not being done in vain because you are making effort. And I want to go. I want you to feel good about trying things and making efforts and and doing that because that's priming you for the 15%. But once we get through that, I want you to say, in your caregiver season three or your best caregiver life, what can you do for you? That's going to go ahead and and help you. That's going to go ahead and make you feel motivated, make you feel less of those negative motions. I'm going to use a fictitious name. I'm not going to use one of my clients names. I'm going to call her Alice. She signed up for piano lessons because she that's what she wanted to do for herself. She wanted she. She used to sing in the choir all the time and that stopped when she had to take care of her, her spouse. She put that on hold for many months and she missed singing in the choir and she missed music. All of her children used the piano at her house and all she wanted to do now, because she was isolated is, she said I just want to be able to play the piano and learn how to play the piano. She said I know that's going to help my stress and give me some really deep quiet. And you know what? My spouse can listen to it. And so, through her passion and drive of wanting to do that, I said to her what would it take? What do you need to do? And she goes. Well, first of all, I would need to sign up for the piano lessons, which I know where to go. I then would need to go ahead and find somebody to sit with my spouse while I. I took my piano lessons and and we brainstorm. And what she decided to do is she asked her granddaughter. She asked her granddaughter if she would be willing to come over for about 90 minutes a week and sit with grandpa while they went, while she did the lesson, while she did her lesson, and the granddaughter could go ahead and make a puzzle, play a game, watch a movie with grandpa. Well, what had happened is Allison or Alice was going ahead and learning each and every week, but what she noticed was magical. She noticed her 15% helped the relationship and the bond between grandpa and the granddaughter. It made her feel so good that her husband was looking forward to the granddaughter coming over each week. He would say you know, why don't you bring over the checkers or whatever? Her granddaughter eventually started bringing him little treats over. They had a great time. And then eventually, since the bond was there, she went back and sang in the choir on Sundays as well, at church, and so Alice got out two days a week. The bond between grandpa and the granddaughter improved. They had other grandchildren that were envious and started filling in. And what happened is her spouse got to reconnect with the grandchildren and it was a win-win. And so I want you to think about that, because the next piece is I want you to think outside of the box, because Alice really did think outside of the box, because originally, when I asked her, she said I can't afford to bring anybody into the house, he's not going to want to sit by himself, and I can't let him sit by himself because there are special needs that he may have, that may have to go ahead and be taken care of. And I'm like, okay, I want you to think further. And I said think about your family and who could come over? And she shut out saying I can't ask my kids, they're working every day. And I'm like have you thought about it a little bit deeper, because the grandchildren are there in the evenings and if you pick a day where they're not busy in their school or activities, maybe they can go ahead and support and that was magical. But when we talk about thinking about outside of the box, I have another client I want to share with you For a. Again to keep her name private, I'm going to use the name Carleen, which is a fictitious name. She missed her friends. Carleen missed her friends. They used to go out for lunches and plays and concerts together, but after six months of not being able to go anymore, she was seeing their pictures on Facebook and they would text her and tell them how great of a time she had. And she felt. Carleen felt so isolated and lonely. She reached out then to three of her, all three of her friends, and said I feel this way. When I was coaching her, I said you have to tell them how you feel. First of all. You have to. They probably feel horrible that you're not there and I said what can you do to connect with them? If you can't get out of the house? What could you do? And what she decided is she was going to go ahead and invite them over and have coffee with them. It was a beautiful day the first time she invited them over. They had coffee on the patio. She cut up some food and pastry. She also had her husband that she was taking care of. She had discussion with her husband to say I'm going to make sure you do it during prices, right, because I know you like watching prices. Right, we'll get your breakfast on, we'll get your bathing done in the morning and then I'll have that time that. You usually don't need me and I'm just. You know I holler away if you need something. But what happened is they had a great time and they had this beautiful, perfect day where they could get together. They laughed, they had conversation, she was lit up because she could have them. They decided the next month they would bring over the pastry and the fruit and all Carleen needed to do was throw in coffee. So they had another coffee date the following month and eventually Carleen opened up and told her, her spouse, that I'm just, I'm so glad I figured out how to go ahead and meet with the girls. I miss them so much. Guess what happened? Her spouse then went ahead and talked to her son to say mom needs to get out and be with the girls. Her mood just changed. She feels alive again and I see her lighting up. Can you come over if mom wants to go to a concert or a play? And it opened the doors up and she was able to go back to pretty much what she did before, if things were going well. She went ahead and went to a play and she went ahead and continued to have coffee and the girls were visiting with you know her spouse and saying, hi, how are you doing? And again, her spouse was having time with his son alone and it was a win-win for everybody. So what can you do for you? Thinking outside of the box are all 15% pieces in season three where you can continue to strive for. Stop saying to yourself I can't, I can't, there's no way I can go ahead and do it. There is a way if you go ahead and think about it. Other things that you can work on in this, in this, this, moving to season three is looking at your time. Starting your day with just a little bit of time for yourself will fuel your day. Maybe it's a morning ritual where you allow yourself 10 minutes in the morning to go ahead and make your bed and brush your teeth and maybe you meditate. Maybe you go have a cup of coffee outside in the sun. Maybe you walk around the block? Are you incorporating new habits throughout the day? Maybe you try a new habit throughout the day to lessen your stress and see if that works, and then you start what's called habit stacking. Atomic habits is the book, and once you find one habit, is there another habit you can stack on top of it and stack on top of it. Do one at a time. For example, I walk the dogs in the morning and when I was in the midst of caregiving, that walk sometimes was only 10 minutes, but I got outside. And then another habit stack is. Now I have the luxury of being able to sit in journal on my patio with the sunshine. I look forward to that more than the walk now. Another thing is what can you do in season three to go ahead and improve your nutrition and your hydration? You could even do this in season one and two of your life. But what can you do when you think like 15% of, like a 15% edge? You're thinking about nutrition as the food, as your fuel, not as just comfort food. I have my morning shake. I have my proteins throughout the day. I've cut out sugar now and I've been doing that now Drinking water, bringing that water bottle to your doctor's appointment and continuously filling it up because hydration keeps that energy going. What can I do from a relationship, a socialization perspective or a community perspective? What can I do to go ahead and not feel lonely? Thinking about all of these things, also thinking about fun. You deserve and you need times of fun. Now, it doesn't mean that you have to be outside of the house either, but you need to find moments where you're laying in bed in the morning and saying, yeah, I got to do this, this, this and this my routine. I love my spouse, or I love my mom, or I love my aunt. Whoever you're caring for, I love them, but it's so hard. But I cannot wait until they take their afternoon nap so I can do this. And I have so many clients that say they paint on the patio, they bring out their crocheting, they go ahead and pursue their passion. They're taking a course online during that time. What is your passion outside of caregiving? What can you do? And maybe it is. You get away for an hour a week and you take a pottery class, but those things will fuel you and you will no longer look at your struggles and challenges so hard, so downward spirally. I know that's not a word, because you have this other things that are fueling you. So I want to end today by saying that you can find your way In the Empowerful Caregivers School that is coming out in September. I have a whole section on your way, finding your customizable way. There's a lesson on this and I want you to sit with yourself and ask yourself and, by the way, if you want to join and get on the wait list for the Empowerful Caregivers School, you can go out to kathyelvancom forward slash Empowerful. The course will be coming out in September and I cannot wait. But when you say to yourself I can, I can do it my way, I can find a customizable way, and you know what your loved one can be part of that by saying, now that we're settled into this, this, this caregiving space, I need to start looking at. You know, a little bit more time for myself, because I'm starting to notice and you probably are noticing already that I'm snapping at you more. That means that I I need to go ahead and restructure some things. Can you help me with that? You know that kind of thing. You might have to deliver it different depending on the situation. With my spouse, it was really easy. With my mom it was a little bit more difficult, but we figured it out. So what does season three of caregiving look like for you? What does it look like for you? What does it feel like for you? Imagine it, take that and journal it out. This is the one question I ask in the a powerful caregiver school. I ask it right away at the very beginning what would the ideal caregiving look like for you if you didn't have to worry about money, you didn't have to worry about your time, you could go ahead and and take care of your loved one? What would it look like for you? And then, as we get further on, we talk about it again and really look at it and then start committed to taking small steps. So get on the wait list If you want to learn more about the Empowerful Caregivers School. I am so excited for this, this course. I have done digital courses in the past, I have done circle memberships in the past, I have done over 173 podcast episodes, and what I did is I took all of my information, all of my experiences, all of the things that I've done in the past and put them into this course. It has been taking me oh my gosh, it's been two months now of really, really hard work and I can see the runway coming. But, being the very first rollout of this, I want to limit the size and number of the group of people taking this course so that I can go ahead and really work with you if you're going to be part of this course because not only is it a digital course, there's going to be a live component once a week where I'm going to be live with everybody once a week and really honing in on where everybody is at. And so it's a digital course, group coaching, group membership, season three, living so that we can go ahead and do that. So, again, go to kathyelvancom forward slash Empowerful. Even if you're considering it, you want to be able to make sure you get that in there. All of the people on my waiting list will be the first to go ahead and enroll in it and then, once you get the email, I'll wait a day or two and let the general population know. So if you're on the wait list, you're going to be the first to go ahead and enroll. So I hope you enjoyed today's episode of the Caregiver Cup podcast. I hope you are considering that you are the 15%. You can change your caregiver life. You can go ahead and enjoy moments of joy. You can go ahead and have fun again, you can have that quality time with your loved one and you don't have to be stuck and you don't have to go ahead and feel all of these emotions forever. There is things that you can do to slowly, slowly, be a little bit better each and every day and feel like that. This is a tolerable, enjoyable journey, even if the predictions and all of the things that your loved one is going through are hard. So until next time, my friend, you have a good week and remember filling your cup is one of the most important pieces. You are one of the most important pieces of this big puzzle called caregiving. Bye for now.

The Courage and Challenges of Caregiving
Seeking Quick Fixes for Caregiving Challenges
Creating a Better Caregiver Life
Improve Caregiver Life, Take Small Steps
Combat Loneliness and Improve Caregiving Well-Being