These resources have been invaluable to me.
People often ask “How did you get to the point where you and your mom are a team? It’s so hard to not act like I’m the parent.”
One of the first books I read when I became mom’s caregiver was How to Say It to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders by David Solie, M.S., P.A.
This book helped me understand why mom is often not as task focused as I am, which can be very frustrating. My do-to list is unending, and I am often full steam ahead on getting tasks done NOW. Even more importantly, it helped me understand why mom holds onto control so tightly. And that the language I use, statements like: “You should, you must,” has her digging in her heels.
Here are two truths: 1. Mom has the capacity and the right to make the wrong decision. All I can do is keep her safe in that decision. 2. Language matters and when I state ideas or ask questions that take away her control, well let’s just say things don’t go well.
I learned to build a team dynamic with honesty and by not keeping secrets. If there is a plumbing problem in the house, we decide what to do together. After all, it is her money that is paying to fix the problem. I will lay out all the options and let her decide. By giving her control she will often say to me, “what do you think, what would you do?”
My second book choice is Who Moved My Teeth? Preparing for Self, Loved Ones & Caregiving by Cathy Sikorski, Esq. Full disclosure here, I met Cathy a year ago and we are colleagues that get together every couple of months. Our friendship aside, this is an excellent resource.
Cathy has a 25-year career as a caregiver for seven different family members and friends, not to mention a career in Elder Law. She writes with humor and grace about the topics that most of us gnash our teeth on: Medicare, Medicaid, insurance companies, doctor offices, all the legal and financial paperwork that needs to be in place – the list goes on. The advice is easily understood and spot on. If you pick up this book and only read the chapters: “The Seven Dwarfs of Hidden Symptoms” (i.e. UTI’s) and “For God’s Sake Stop Paying Those Medical Bills!” your money is well spent.
My third choice is the YouTube channel of Teepa Snow. Teepa Snow is a dementia and Alzheimer’s care expert who travels the US and Canada educating others about dementia and the care that accompanies it. Teepa is an occupational therapist with forty years of clinical practice. I had the privilege of seeing Teepa present at the 2017 National Caregiver Conference in Chicago. She introduced us to the best communication techniques, approach, and touch for caregivers of a person living with dementia. She brings the subject to life in a supportive and fun way.
Although Mom is not a person living with dementia, I find her care partner tip videos to be helpful. The Care Partner Support tips video on getting in and out of the car, and the tip to roll the window all the way down so there is something solid to hold onto was definitely a light bulb moment. I’ve been a fan ever since.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.