Today, in honor of TakingCareofGrandma.com’s One Year Blogiversary, we are looking back at the victories over my past year of caregiving and blogging.
While I try to cherish every moment, here are some that have been especially sweet:
Another year at home #winning
I think surviving another 365 rotations around the sun is a huge accomplishment (and a blessing) in and of itself.
I know my grandma is has things to do that matter to her, she is safe, and she is very well cared for. Hard work pays off.
We couldn’t do it without my little family, friends, Gma’s Sidekicks, and all of the other folks who make our everyday lives possible. If you are reading this and you’re part of our lives, THANK YOU.
Two years ago I discovered my grandma had a long term care insurance policy. For two years, I tried to explain what I know as “self-directed supports” to them, only for them to say they wouldn’t cover it because it wasn’t provided by a licensed agency. Licensed by whom? Who knows. I still can’t really say myself.
Late last year, I approached a friend and colleague from disability world with an idea. Maybe we could use her set up to be able to access Gma’s LTC insurance. After 6 long months, 25 forms (JK I actually lost count), and a million phone calls, our claim was accepted and we are now billing the insurance company for her care. [You can read more about how our amazing feat here: https://takingcareofgrandma.com/barbaras-sidekicks-the-ladies-making-our-everyday-lives-possible/]
So many victories compounded in one!!!! I can’t tell you how I felt the day I opened the letter containing the good news.
Caregiver of the Year Award
My fellow CCC, Beth Suereth, nominated me for the Caregiving.com Caregiver of the Year Award earlier this year.
At first, I was a little indignant because, while I love attention, I:
- don’t take care of my grandma to win awards, get accolades, or for any other motivations than my love, loyalty and respect for her. It is the right thing to do.
- didn’t feel like I deserved it. You see, we family caregivers have problems accepting the uniqueness of our caregiving experiences. We are constantly comparing our caregiving sandwiches to those of others. I’m just taking care of my grandma. Some of the people nominated for this award are caring for like, five people. Due to my professional background, I have completely bypassed a lot of barriers due to lack of know what to ask and where to look for information.
Now, I just see that this is another opportunity to leverage our story to give glory to caregiving and shine a light on millennial caregivers.
It also helped me realize that I have my own version of hard going for me.
Well, I won the award, which means my registration for the 2019 National Caregiving Conference is free (thank you to everyone who voted!!!!).
I’m honored and humbled to be recognized among such an amazing group of people.
TakingCareofGrandma.com On the Road
TakingCareofGrandma is not only spreading across the interwebs, it’s gaining traction on the ground, too! I’m geeking out because I’m starting to get invitations to present in person on topics I’ve become an expert in thanks to my caregiving experience.
Most recently, I got to attend the 2019 Power Up Conference hosted by my state’s Tech Act Project to present on a panel about using remote monitoring to help people with disabilities live safely at home. My fellow panelists use a Medicaid waiver-funded provider to equip their homes with cameras and sensor technology. I was invited because I use off-shelf technology to support Grandma, which is a more viable option for families who aren’t eligible for waiver services.
A few months ago, I was invited to share my expertise using Nest and Google Home to support my grandma to age in place at a local tech fest hosted by an organization that supports people with developmental disabilities. It made me feel good that I could apply what I’ve learned to help professionals and family members supporting people with disabilities. Technology has the power to help so many people live independently!
Aside: At the end of the day, they handed me a check. On the way home, my mind was blown. I made the equivalent of one week’s pay in just one day. It just goes to show that YES, you can leverage your personal caregiving experience into a career (or side hustle) that pays.
Do You Give Care? #yougiveacare
Last year, I became an ambassador for the Do You Give a Care? campaign led by the SCAN Foundation.
The Do You Give a Care movement is working to create a supportive community for millennials who care and create awareness around millennial family caregiving. By AARP’s estimates, of the 40 million Americans who are caring for family, about 1 in 4 is part of the Millennial generation (AARP, 2015). That means (at least) 10 million millennials are taking care of their folks. That is HUGE!
Thanks to the SCAN Foundation, I’ve had some incredible experiences, like being on my first podcast and traveling to Buffalo, New York, for the ARCH Respite National Lifespan Respite Conference just last week.
I joke that I have become a poster child for millennial caregiving. When I saw my name on our opening slide at the ARCH Respite National Lifespan Respite Conference in Buffalo, New York, last week, I became farklempt. It said “Caregiver Advocate” after my name. Here’s what I’ve realized lately after all of the people I’ve talked to and experiences that have unfolded since I started this blog and became involved with this campaign: certainly all of our experiences are unique. But my experience is NOT that of the typical millennial caregiver.
My caregiving experience has been informed by over a decade in the field of developmental disabilities. I worked on the front lines and then in management in home care in undergrad and beyond. I have a background rooted in the disability rights movement and vast knowledge of community and government services and supports thanks to my professional experience. My values- choice, control, person-centeredness, and quality of life- came from my career.
Despite this, I’m thrilled that I can use our story and leverage my professional background to create change for others who are caring for their family members.
Certified Caregiving Facilitator and Educator
You may know that I am a Certified Caregiving Consultant through Caregiving.com. I am happy to announce that in 2019, I also became a CCF and CCE! I’m a CC everything!
Seriously though, these certifications have informed my work as a web designer, helped me be a better blogger, supported me through launching a nonprofit for family caregivers here in Kansas City, and connected me with a national network of past and present family caregivers that have all converted their caregiving experiences into a profession.
The CCF program builds your capacity to lead a support group for family caregivers. It gives you strategies for facilitating groups and unlocks an amazing warehouse of tools to help guide conversations.. It has helped me become a better leader of Sandwiched KC, the group I launched last year for my fellow local family caregivers.
The CCE program teaches you how to deliver “The Caregiving Years” as a seminar, workshop, webinar or online course. CCE’s across the country are being invited (and paid) to present this amazing training to people in need. The Caregiving Years is an amazing framework that outlines the stages of caregiving and what we need and experience in each stage.
If you are a family caregiver and this sounds intriguing to you, I’d love to talk to you more about it. If you decide to sign up, holla at me first- I can get you a nice discount on the training program.
I gotta tell you, there is a lot of uncertainty around starting your own business. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I signed up for a meal delivery route three days a week early in my self-employment journey because I thought I was going to need a reason to get out of bed in the mornings!
Now, I have a full load of ongoing clients and am talking to potential partners about new projects all the time. Life is so exciting!
Everything just started falling into place when I started running in the direction of what was most important to me.
I can’t wait to see what triumphs we will see in the year to come!
I hope you will follow along with us on our adventures over the next 365 days and stick around with me for the TCG Blogiversary Party activities throughout the month!