On February 27, 2018, I handed in my letter of resignation, ending my eight year career at my employer. I wanted to focus on my precious responsibility of taking care of my grandma and my friend Calvin, so I started my own graphic, web and media design & consulting business. When I made that decision, I had no idea that any of the following was going to take place. [Read more…]
A few months after I started this blog, I found Caregiving.com. That point in time changed the course my caregiving trajectory in a way that I never expected.
I completed my final activity for the certification, a webinar (Reach for the Star: Integrating Supports for Caregiving), last week.
Today, I am honored to announce that I am a Certified Caregiving Consultant™! The Certified Caregiving Consultant™ training program offered at Caregiving.com. The program helps family caregivers turn their personal caregiving experiences into a profession. When you participate in the training program, you are able to share your wisdom, lessons learned and resources to help those who care for a family member or friend.
I feel blessed to work at an organization that houses a family resource center, so even before my own caregiving journey began, I was well aware of the issues that families have to deal with when they have a loved one who has a disability or is aging. This training truly helped me put the unique experiences of family caregivers into perspective, learn strategies to use to support family caregivers to solve their own problems, and helped me reflect on my caregiving journey, both what is in the past and what lies ahead.
As a result of participating in this program, I connected with an awesome tribe of fellow family caregivers, from all parts of the country and a wide variety of talents and gifts. In November, I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago to share my personal caregiving journey as a millenial caregiver at Caregiving.com’s Second Annual National Caregiving Conference (that’s me, with my fellow CCC, Deb Hallisey at Advocate for Mom and Dad at the left!). Everyone there was so warm and kind and respectful. When I went to that conference, I felt like like I finally found a group of people who truly understood what I was going through. When I came home, I knew I had to create that here for other people.
My next steps after this program are to start a support group for family caregivers in Kansas City, so people can connect with each other here locally. I have plans of quarterly events, sponsors providing prizes for our valued family caregivers, and awesome resource sharing and connecting happening! I hope to use what I learn in my current professional role and to help me as I move into the next chapter of this adventure. It has truly been a life-changing experience.
A special thanks to my boss, Sheli, for funding this incredible opportunity!
At first, I was kind of irritated at the fact that I didn’t have a name and people were referring to me in this manner. Then, I realized that I have built a reputation for myself like the Godfather. Picture The Godfather in your head. It is an image that evokes fear and reverence. The Godfather is a term of endearment for the boss, it commands respect and affection.
While some aspects of the mob may be seen as less than reputable, I think we can all agree that when we think of the mafia, one of the key terms that comes to mind is family.
True dons and doñas take grief from no man. They do what they have to do for the best of the family. They will go to war over their loved ones. This means exhibiting control and exercising discipline and executing smart social plays.
When I am feeling the heat from other people who don’t understand what we’re going through, I remember I am THE GRANDDAUGHTER, and I recognize myself as the boss and authority in my caregiving journey. I do not sell myself short and recognize my important role in my family and community.
In 2007, the Italian police found what they believed to be the Ten Commandments of the Mafia (link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7086716.stm). Even the mob recognized the value of having a code to live by. I think we can learn a few things from the mob.
So, without further ado, I present to you THE GRANDDAUGHTER’S Commandments.
|THE GRANDDAUGHTER’S COMMANDMENTS||THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF THE MAFIA|
|1. I will use my social capital to help my family get ahead in life. I will map out and utilize the connections I have with the people in my ‘family’ to help us get what we needs.
I will differentiate between my associates (people who are connected but have not been initiated into the family) and my administration (the close connections you have around my caree’s support) – so I know whom I can call on and when and what kinds of conversations to have with them.
When I need something that my immediately ‘family’ can’t provide, I will to fig who is a ‘friend of mine’ – someone that we are connected to that can help us before picking names out of the yellow pages or relying on publicly funded resources in limited supply.
|1. No one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
|2. I will be loyal to my ‘administration’ – that is, those who make my everydays possible.
I will appoint and nurture my relationship with my ‘consigliere’ (the boss’s advisor). I will make sure my consigliere should be a ‘stand-up guy’ (or gal). I will always have their back like they have mine. I will take care of them and ‘vouch for’ them when they need me.
|2. Never look at the wives of friends.
|3. No one should take any action ‘off the record’ in benefit of or on the behalf of Grandma without consulting with the Granddaughter, even if Grandma begs them not to tell her.
Does anyone do anything in the mob without the Godfather knowing about it? I think not. It is important to always inform the caregiver when you are not ‘made’ (that is closely tied to the family) or you do not have explicit instructions or are unsure of standard protocol.
Those who observe this commandment will be held in high favor by the Doña (AKA The Granddaughter).
|3. Never be seen with cops.
|4. I will not push myself so hard I need to drink (or rely on unhealthy habits).
I will remember self-care and practice it faithfully.
I will find what I love to do so I’m ready to unwind when the time comes, and I will share in these activities with my caree when appropriate.
I will not feel guilty for taking time for myself. I will repeat out loud: It’s business, it’s not personal.
|4. Don’t go to pubs and clubs.
|5. I will always put my family first. I will always remember there is nothing more important in life than the people I care about and who care about me.
Family caregiving is a 24/7/365 job. I will always be prepared for the call to provide care and have a plan B when I am engaging in self-care so that I can continue to enjoy myself.
|5. Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty – even if your wife’s about to give birth.
|6. I will always follow through with my word.
If I say I’m going to do something and I don’t do it, I can’t be made when I look like a ‘cafone.’
|6. Appointments must absolutely be respected.
|7. I will recognize that I might be the don, but my caree is the boss.
Carees must be treated with respect and dignity after a lifetime of experiences.
Some of the loved ones we’re responsible for made our making our measly existences on earth possible. I will give them the honor they deserve.
|7. Wives must be treated with respect.
|8. I will always be bold and speak my mind. I know best what I need or how to help myself and my caree.
I will never be afraid to ‘hit the mattress’ with a professional over the quality of life of my caree or my needs, but I will always do it in a respectfully. I will pull them aside to ‘take a walk’ and help them understand my point of view or schedule a ‘sit-down’ to squash the ‘beef.’
I will ‘give a pass’ to offenders when they’ve crossed me and we have squashed our beefs.
|8. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.
|9. I will never use my own resources if my caree has their own ‘dough.’
I still have to live, today, and when you are no longer providing care.
|9. Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.
|10. I will not open our ‘books’ to ‘Cosa Nostra’ to people whose values don’t align with ours, toxic relationships, and folks who are otherwise barriers to our good lives.
||10. People who can’t be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn’t hold to moral values.|
I got my gangster terminology from the Mobspeak Glossary found at http://aman.members.sonic.net/mobspeak.html
I, like all other family caregivers, I am always looking for tools to help me manage my caregiving role. Like most missions, caregiving means employing a combination of strategies to achieve success.
I have been using a combination of the following:
- a very large calendar,
- written notes, menus, and schedules on dry erase boards,
- the custom daily sheets I made for Grandma to keep track of my priority concerns
- emails and texts to Grandma’s helper and my tribe
- my own Google calendar
- written sticky notes to myself on my desk at work
- reminders from Siri
- my weekly planner app
When you do anything long enough, it becomes second nature to you. Even though I thought I had it down pat, I have been crying out for a better system.
I found one tool that literally replaces all of these things. And it is completely free. Meet Caring Village.
I recently found Caring Village on Twitter in my constant search to connect with resources that could help me in my caregiving role. I visited their website and fell in love immediately. I signed up right away and started setting it up. That was three weeks ago, and I feel like my stress level has decreased about 20%. We are still learning and getting used to using it, but between me and Grandma’s helper, it has truly been a Godsend.
Caring Village has tons of great features, including:
- Available in your browser, and as an app both in the App Store for iPhone users or the for Androids in the Google Play store.
- The ability to set up as many villages as you want, too, so if you are responsible for more than one person, it can really help you out!
- No limit to the number of members in your village, and they can each personalize the amount of notifications they receive from the app.
- Sweet checklists to help you assess where you stand on key aspects of safety and security and medical issues
- Shared to do lists, where members can volunteer to take care of things and a shared calendar so everyone can see what’s going on.
- The Wellness Journal gives you the ability to track the person’s overall activities and important notes and their mood. I have been trying to typing literally everything we do and everything I know that I think will be helpful in here each day before I leave. You can add pictures to the entries, so last week I posted the week plan with my entry on Sunday.
- The Care Plan feature lets you add specific things you want to keep track of from day-to-day.
You can even store important documents in your village and add your caree’s medication’s.
I have only begun using it and already can’t live without it!
If you are a family caregiver, I encourage you to check it out. So far it is working great for our small, but mighty team, but I see how it could be a lifesaver for all kinds of families, including those where a number of people are helping to care for their caree(s) or family members are spread out and providing support long distance. There is truly nothing like it out there!
It is what it is. I found matching paint.
Welcome to takingcareofgrandma.com.
I’ve been supporting my grandma to age in place for about two years now. It has been quite the journey. Since that time, I’ve learned more than I ever want to know about what it’s like to grow old in today’s world.
I am not alone. It is estimated that there are 40 million family caregivers like myself in the United States, caregivers who provide 37 billion hours of care to an adult with limitations in daily activities, many of whom are providing care at no cost to anyone (but perhaps themselves) in the amount of $470 billion.1
As we face a demographic crisis where many seniors in the United States are retiring out of the work force (many of whom are employed caring for those who currently need assistance), a service system that is incapable of providing services to all who need them due to limited funding, and growing healthcare costs which create a burden for those seeking long term care, increasing numbers of today’s generation of grandkids just like myself are going to be forced to assume the role of family caregiver to someone they love.
Like the millions of other people providing care to their loved ones, there have been times where I have felt completely alone and overwhelmed with nowhere to turn, not even knowing the questions to ask to point us in the right direction. I started this blog with people like me in mind.
I will be sharing my own personal experiences, including what I wish I’d known and lessons I’ve learned about life and people, as well as practical advice and tips for making caregiving easier.
My goals at takingcareofgrandma.com are to:
- Help others know it’s possible to support their relative who needs care to stay at home,
- Show primary family caregivers that they are not alone,
- Underline the moral imperative for caregiving,
- Reinforce the right to age in place and integrated supports,
- Educate people on the reality of nursing homes,
- Provide practical tips on and highlight resources for caregiving,
- Emphasize the importance of respite to prevent caregiver burnout,
- Share advice and comfort for stressful situations, and
- Give you an inside look into the realities of caregiving and aging.
Who is this blog for?
- Adult millennial grandchildren caring for grandparents, parents, or other aging loved ones
- Families who can’t afford institutional long term care in a nursing homes or assisted living
- Other caregivers and support providers
- Anyone else who wants to know what it’s like to be the primary caregiver to an aging relative
I hope you enjoy this ride with me as I fumble my way around helping my grandma enjoy her golden years, and you will share your own experiences and advice so that we can support each other to do what’s best for everyone!