Ever feel like you're drowning under the weight of caregiving? We're about to throw you a lifeline. We dedicate this empowering episode to untangling the complex web of caregiving and how to properly assert yourself in this role. We elevate the discussion around setting boundaries and the crucial role of saying “no”, both for your loved one's care and, importantly, for your own wellbeing.
We kick things off by exploring the silent signals our bodies and minds send us when we've hit our limits. Then, we wade into the challenging task of setting boundaries, armed with a practical four-step process to help you address situations that overstep. But we're not stopping there. We delve into the transformative power of saying “no” and how it can serve as an empowering tool in your caregiver's toolkit. You'll leave this episode with fresh insights and actionable strategies to balance your commitment to your loved ones and your own wellbeing, all while becoming a more effective caregiver. This is not just an episode--it's a lifeline for caregivers. Grab hold and listen in.
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Well, hello, my friend, and welcome to another episode of the Caregiver Cup podcast. This topic today came to me because I was listening to the local news and on the local news in Wisconsin, here men are taking on the no shave November and what they do is they don't shave their faces for the whole month of November and their beard scroll big and bushy and it's interesting to see them and then at the end of the month they go back to shaving it off and I think they do it for a cause. But anyway, it got me thinking about the NO, or the NO in November, and what it means to us as caregivers. As caregivers, we give and we give and we give until we can't and we end up feeling exhausted and angry and resentful and just an emotional mess and sometimes even physically. There are issues with that. Caregivers often feel uncomfortable setting limits or saying no to their loved one or family members or the situation, because they're caring for their loved one and they don't want to feel guilty or they don't want their loved one to feel like they don't care. But saying no can be good for caregivers and their loved ones. When coaching my clients and for me personally, this simple word of no, and this simple practice has been just what was needed. So first let's talk about the signs. You need to stop, and you need to stop and assess and then start saying no to, or more or less recognizing it, when it's time to say no and when is it time to say no? You have to ask yourself that when is it time to take a step back and assess your commitment and assess your health and your overall situation? Because our body and our mind send us messages and signals, and most of the time, we're ignoring those, and I'll say this many times because we ignore this. Saying no is extremely hard to do as a caregiver, at least in my experience in the clients that I've coached experiences being able to say no. I can no longer continue to provide care in this way. It hurts, it's kind of like a slap in the face, and it may not only save you, though, but it may save your emotional and your physical health, but it also can open up opportunities of shared caregiving responsibility with others, while deepening the level of honesty and openness in the relationship with your loved one, and I think sometimes we get stuck in. There's no other way, but saying no may seem like a harsh statement and right away it's like no, I think about a toddler saying when we say to a toddler, no, don't touch that. But it's a harsh statement to you as a caregiver who prides in being helpful, being kind, being loving, being there just to care for our loved one, you may even feel like, if you say no, you're failing, which, my friend, this is just the opposite. When you recognize it, that you are taking on too much or you now need the help and resources based on your situation, you're actually growing, you're actually excelling as a caregiver. Our mind and body, like I said just a few seconds ago, are sending us signals. They're sending us messages, but what happens is most of us, as caregivers, ignore them or we don't have time to stop and listen to it. We just saying, you know what? I'm tired or my back hurts, or I'm an emotional wreck and we might have a meltdown or a breakdown one night. And then we saying, well, we don't have time for this, so tomorrow morning I got to wake up and feel better. But those are signals that our body is telling us. So let me break down what I think are the three areas that you need to go ahead and consider when you need to consider, so that you're kind of over your limit and you need to go ahead and consider saying no to. The first one is looking at the immediate care of your loved one. It may be time to look at if your care is appropriate or enough now for your loved one. Maybe you're over your head in their care and you're beyond your abilities. Your loved ones needs are beyond your abilities and you may need professional help or licensed nursing or a facility for your loved one. I can think of a couple of things, but for my mom, when she was at the point where we knew she only had days and months to live and we didn't know at that time, we thought it was many months to live we reached out to her doctor and started looking at hospice facilities and hospice services because we knew we needed the help. We needed the medication help, we needed the counseling help. We needed all of their services and we couldn't do that alone. I think about some people that are dealing with somebody that has dementia or Alzheimer's and their loved one. They can't handle their loved one anymore. At what point do you have to realize that, that your care is Beyond your own abilities? I even think about a loved ones emotional and mental needs. If they have Emotional needs or mental needs and they need professional help, it's beyond, maybe, your abilities or it sometimes is better if you bring in help for your loved one and so at some point you have to say I can't do this about myself anymore. I need to go ahead and look at resources, and we'll talk about that in just a second here. So that's the first one the immediate care of your loved one. When you're assessing that, another area to consider is your time and commitment. What are you doing right now besides caregiving? Are you working your full-time or your part-time job? Are you caring for other family members? There are many caregivers that have small children at home or For me. I was caring for my mom and my husband and I was working full-time. It may not be humanly possible to be in all of those places at one time or both places at one time. And if your loved ones one needs care during your work hours, for example, or when you're caring for your children, then at what point do you have to say I can't be in both places at the same time? You have to say no to caregiving during that time I had to tell my mom because she she would think that oh, kathy works at home because during the pandemic we started working at home and I've always worked at home, but I'm working at home in my office at home. I had to finally tell my mom I can't care for you during my work hours, unless I take vacation time. And if I use up on my vacation time Then I can't be there for your appointments and so on. And so I had to tell my mom I can't be with you or take your call between my work hours or between 8 and 4 30. And she struggled with that because she'd want to call me, she'd want to text me, she'd want me to go ahead. And hey, what can you go ahead and swing in and get me something? And I had to have that serious discussion. Another situation is when Dennis had a stem cell transplant and we were away from our home and I was with him for Six weeks. I had to say no to everything else. Oh, my gosh, that hurts so hard. I mean, I was able to still work on off times in the place that we stayed at, but I had to say no to everything else, which means my mom's care had to go and and I had to transfer the burden on to my brother and my sister and Work out all of the details that way. So the second one is looking at your time and commitment and and realistically say do you have time for the caregiving all the time? The third one is what I call the huge one. It's your own health and well-being, and if your well-being is suffering, then there is there is room for you to say no, caregiver, stress and burnout is taking its toll on you. And if it's taking your toll on you, you have to take a step back and saying I have to go ahead and lighten my load. You have to. Your body is sending you signals. It's sending you physical signals. It's sending you emotional signals. It's telling you that you can't continue to sustain this, and a perfect example is anger or resentment. So many caregivers tell me that they're angry, they're resentful, and I love to have these discussions on anger and resentment. My Personal response to them is saying, first of all, I acknowledge that they're angry and resentful and I tell them you need to embrace that you're feeling this way and acknowledge it because your body is sending you those signals. And then I ask them what do you think is the root cause of your anger? Or what is the root cause of your resentment? Just, I had to take a drink a minute because I'm like, oh, my throat was getting dry, was getting really into it. Okay, so once they tell us the root cause, and then they tell me the root cause, it's usually, it's usually surface level. It could be I was taking care of my loved one and I haven't gotten a good sleep, or my loved one is so irritated and angry all the time and we keep digging deeper. And for me, let's say it's me. I am angry at my husband's new diagnosis and I'm angry at cancer and it ticks me off that Now I have to go ahead and rearrange my schedule. If I'm coaching myself, I'm like, okay, the root cause now you just said it is your schedule. Tell me about your schedule and tell me about what you're doing. And a perfect example is when we had Debbie on a few weeks ago on the podcast. I'm trying to look at her book, debbie Weas and she was talking about her husband and her husband was terminally ill and she talked about writing a book. Well, if I looked at my root cause, I want to continue to grow my business, and I'm on the cusp of creating more content and breaking open more opportunities for US caregivers. And now this cancer is kind of slowing me down, and when Debbie was talking about her during her husband's terminal illness, she was in the midst of writing a book, and so she may have been angry and resentful at caregiving, but the root cause was it was taking time away from her passions or her goals, and so that may be something. Another thing that your if your well-being is suffering maybe you're fatigued in your health is suffering, or maybe you're not feeling good anymore. Well, that's a sign that something has to change. So those are the three pieces there that I want you to think about. You have to be honest with yourself and accept that. You have to say no to doing it all. That's hard to take in. No to doing it all. You have to say no to the control of everything. If you're a control freak like me and wants to make sure everything and all the ducks are in a row, well that's going to burn you out. So you have to say no to control of it all, and you have to be realistic, because you are managing your loved ones care. You don't have to do it all. You can go ahead and expand your wings, like I said recently, or, like I said recently, said no is hard. You may feel horrible, like you are letting your loved one down, but when you come to reality and be open to setting healthy boundaries and finding better solutions, you move from overwhelmed and stressed and a person that you don't want to be To an empowered caregiver who is now managing your loved ones care and feeling better about yourself. Better about yourself. I want you to think about an ideal, or the ideal situation, and what would it look like if you could have the ideal caregiver situation for you right now, meaning that you could go ahead and pull all of the resources, any tools that you need A team for your loved one. What would it look like? I mean even something as simple as I was going ahead and thinking, oh my gosh, what if Dennis has to go back to his stem cell transplant process and we have to be out of town for weeks and weeks and weeks? I was stressing myself out, thinking about who's going to take care of the dogs I would need to hire a nanny for my dogs. And when you think about an ideal team. What would that team look like, and even look at, if this ideal situation occurred? You also have small amounts of time for yourself, whether it's to catch a nap or get a good night's sleep or go to the gym or have social hour with your friends, and your loved one is being taken care of and they love the help and the interaction that you have had and hired. Yeah, what would that look like? I don't want you to say no to it right now, because you want to be open to the ideal situation. It's almost like you're dreaming and you're looking up at the clouds and saying, well, my mom is sick, but if I had an ideal situation, this would have. This is what I'd want for my mom, this is what I'd want for my life. And then you work backwards and some of them will be unrealistic, but some of them will work out. Now, just think about it. This is this situation is kind of dramatic, but I want to tell you worst case scenario, because this one happened to a client of mine. What if you broke a bone like your arm or your leg Right now? What if that happened to you and you couldn't help your loved one with all of the heavy lifting or cooking of the meals, or driving because you broke your driving leg. So what solutions do you have? You'd have to figure it out because you couldn't physically do that, and that's the reality of it. Or, in my situation, you get sick. I got sick with COVID and I was hospitalized for five days, four nights. Who is going to take care of mom? Who is going to take her to her appointments? Who is going to help her with her finances? Who's going to do the grocery shopping? I had to lean into my siblings. I had to lean into my spouse. I had to lean into telling my mom no, we're not going to be able to do this and having those conversations. So you're going to have to go ahead and do that. Hopefully you don't have a situation like that happen, but reality is something's going to break, not a bone, but something's going to break down sooner or later. Your body is sending you messages right now so that you can hopefully listen to that. So how do you begin? How do you begin to say no and look for opportunities to shift, and saying no, that I can't do it all? Well, I've come up with four steps that I use in my Empowerful Caregiver School. I use those when I'm coaching clients. But these are the four steps that we work through. And the first of all I talked about this already, but you embrace the messages and signals and emotions your body and mind are telling you, because it is unbelievable what our mind and body will tell us when we are in caregiver stress, in burnout, in a situation that we can't sustain forever. Our body's going to tell us that and so whatever you tell me resentment, anger, worry, guilt, frustration, feeling stuck, whatever it would be we're going to embrace that you feel this way because that's awareness. And second step is what things are crossing the line for you when it comes to you, healthy boundaries and needs your immediate attention. Yeah, maybe it's. You're missing a lot of work and now your boss is coming to you and saying, hmm, I can't have you missing work like this all the time. I know your situation, but you have to do this. And if you can't do your job, then you blah, blah, blah. Maybe something like that happens, or you're losing sleep and it's affecting your, your energy, your productivity, your mood, and you can't be taking care of your loved ones during the day and at night all the time. You can't do that. It's kind of like a mom that has a collicky baby. Eventually you have to go ahead and saying you know, can somebody take care of the baby at night, and can I get a break once in a while? Or your health is an emergency, or you are over your head, like the client that broke her extremity, broke her arm, or you end up sick, or you just can't do it anymore. And so that's where you have to go ahead and figure out okay, now I have to find a solution, and you've you've embraced it and you're recognizing it. The third one is really sitting down and listing out opportunities and possibilities and not shutting any of them down. Brainstorming everything, even if it's bizarre, and brainstorming all of the things Think of. When you're brainstorming, you want to think of your local resources and government agencies, your, your family, and don't shut out anybody, even if they're not in town. There are opportunities for your families to help it from a from a distance perspective as well Family as far as grandchildren and neighbors and any, any body that could help. What about your doctor? And talking to your doctor, because my mom's doctor was phenomenal when it came to helping find hospice resources or financial resources, your insurance company and much more, so you want to just brainstorm those. Once you have this list which should be one or two pages long, it should be just a brainstorming list then you're going to start prioritizing and making a plan and start implementing things along the way. Maybe your, your loved one, likes to cross the boundary when it comes to work hours, and you can't have this happen anymore. You want to go ahead and sustain your work and you're you're still going to be pursuing your career after you're done taking care of your loved one, and so you have to start brainstorming possibilities. And maybe it's finding neighbors, or maybe it's finding an adult daycare or an event that your loved one goes to, whatever it would be. So start brainstorming and then start implementing things. It might require you to start having conversations Now. This isn't easy, but when you have healthy discussions, when you create awareness and empower yourself, you're going to think about what you are doing. I want you to think about it. What are you doing when you're from a positive perspective? You're protecting your time and your energy. I am no longer going to cancel my dentist appointment. I'm saying no to canceling my mammogram. I'm going to do these things. You might start with stuff like that. You're going to also choose quality time with your loved one versus being exhausted. I don't need to go ahead and make sure the house is cleaned and the laundry. I'm going to go ahead and share the wealth with my siblings, or I'm going to look at resources that we can tap into and hire a cleaning lady or work on different possibilities when it comes to the laundry. Another thing is you're going to find the best possible care for your loved one and being able to do that it is remarkable when you can go ahead and find people and share those responsibilities. I have so many clients that say, yeah, I have a nurse coming in the home two hours a week and we pass through the doorway and my loved one looks forward to that time and so do I. You're going to take charge of your health and your well-being, and you need to sustain your health and well-being, because what if something happens to you? You should be proud of yourself for asking for help, and asking for help is something that we should be proud that we're doing and accepting the help and knowing that it may not be the same way that I do it, but you know what. I'm getting the help and then think about what you're embracing. You're embracing small moments of joy with your loved one, small moments of joy with your own self, and you're showing up as your best self. So, by taking some of those things off your plate and going ahead and finding resources and delegating and saying, no, now, not everyone will understand that what you're doing is right, but you have to be okay with it. It's like a mom raising a toddler and not everybody disciplines the toddler the same way and you know what you have to be okay with. Hey, I'm doing the best possible thing for myself and my loved one right now. If you get pushback, first of all, I'm holding up my middle finger right now and I can't see it on my podcast but if you get pushback, you have to look at yourself and be proud of how you're managing yourself and your loved one. It no one size fits all. You're going to make mistakes, but you're trying different options so that we can go ahead and find the best possible care. When I got sick with COVID and I was in the hospital, it opened up possibilities for me, where my brother realized that he was doing my job for a week and he's like how in the world. Did you do all of this, kathy, and work full time and take care of Dennis? You know, and I'm like I know, and he goes well we need to sit down, so he pushed the big gamut. If you are still with me, though, right now, I know you're ready to say no. I know you're ready to say no to anger, say no to resentment, say no to guilt and say no to worry. You are ready to shift and take steps to change, and I'm proud of you. You are not alone in this journey. As caregivers, we all feel this and we all feel the fear and the apprehension I think that's the word to take that step, but we have to do it. So take this podcast and, if you have to listen to it again, listen to it again. Take down those notes and start making those steps. Start a brainstorm, list of all of the possibilities. Think about the ideal situation. Talk to other caregivers, ask what they're doing, and don't talk to the caregivers that's saying I can't do this, no. Talk to the caregivers like me and like many of my clients are doing, to say I'm trying different things, we're working on different things. I'm having discussions with my loved ones. I'm having those hard discussions by saying, mom, I love you so much and I want to be this happy Kathy with you, but have you noticed, I'm just not happy right now. And she would say, yeah, and I'm like I just can't keep doing this. All there's too much on my plate, and so what I want to do is try to go ahead and do some different things so that we can get some more help. And, besides that, you don't want to see my face every single day. How nice would it be if your grandchildren came over and I would have those discussions with my mom. It was hard, but now, if you're still feeling stuck, I'm here. I'm here for you and can help you. That's why I'm a caregiver coach. I can help you with embracing those messages and signals that your body is telling you. I'm here for you with let's take care of the immediate action and let's get some relief for you in those immediate health issues and boundaries that you need to set. And then let's list out the possibilities and let's start taking and making a plan so you can go out to kathyelvancom forward slash coaching and you can sign up for a 30 minute free chat with me and then we can go ahead and set up three coaching sessions together and you would pay me the coaching fee, or I have another possibility for you you can join the Empowerful Caregiver School coming up in January. There's a wait list out there right now. Kathyelvancom forward slash Empowerful and this is an intense but really beneficial program that's gonna walk you step by step to improve and become that Empowerful Caregiver that you wanna be. So, my friend, you are not alone, and when you say no and you start shifting your mindset to say I am no longer going to stay stuck, I am no longer gonna feel this way. I want to go ahead and just give you a hug and saying yes, I am so glad you're here because you are now at the point in your caregiving journey where you are becoming Empowerful and you're taking this care up a notch and really focusing on you and your loved one, versus just your loved one. So I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode and, by the way, it is my birthday today, and so this is a great gift for me to give to you today to go ahead and saying no. Matter where you are in your journey, it's important for you to go ahead and give yourself the gift of no, you have a good rest of the day and we'll talk to you again next week, my friend. Bye for now.