Caregiving for Aging Loved Ones, with transcript
Jodi Glacer is the local owner of Senior Care Authority, a Senior Placement and Elder Care Consulting Agency in South Florida. She is a Certified Senior Advisor and Certified Dementia Practitioner who is dedicated to helping local seniors. With her experience and knowledge of the Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care options available in North Broward and Palm Beach Counties, Jodi has consulted and mentored with families and assessing their needs. She assists them through the process of selecting the best community or residential care home based on the family’s requirements, and supports them in making the best, and most informed decisions.
Frank Samson: Welcome to Boomers Today. I'm your host, Frank Samson, of course. Each week we bring you important, useful information on issues facing baby boomers, their parents, and other loved ones. The reason people listen to these shows on a regular basis is because we have such great guests and we have a wonderful guest today with us. Somebody I've known for quite a while. We have with us Jodi Glacer. Jodi is the local owner of Senior Care Authority, a senior placement and elder care consulting agency in South Florida. She is a certified senior advisor and certified dementia practitioner who is dedicated to helping local seniors. With her experience and knowledge of the independent living, assisted living and memory care options available in North Broward and Palm Beach counties, Jodi has consulted and mentored with families in assessing their needs. She assists them through the process of selecting the best community or residential care home based on the family's requirements and supports them in making the best and most informed decisions. Jodi, thank you so much for joining us on Boomers Today.
Jodi Glacer: Thanks Frank. I'm really excited. I appreciate it.
Frank: Yeah, I know the type of work you do. I want to commend you for it. It’s tough work, but it’s fulfilling, I imagine.
Jodi: Oh yeah, it really means so much to me. Any way that I can help a family and the transition is smoother for everybody, people don't have as much stress, and so I really am excited to be able to do that for people.
Frank: So, our subject matter today is caregiving. It's kind of a loose term, caregiver. Sometimes people even use the term caretaker, but really I think of a caretaker as somebody that takes care of someone's property, their home. A caregiver would be someone taking care of another person. But the term caregiver is kind of used pretty loosely, so people understand what we're referring to, what, in your words, what's a caregiver? Explain the difference maybe between a family caregiver and maybe a professional caregiver.
Jodi: Okay. So, here in America, there probably are about 17 million or more individuals in the US that are family caregivers of someone 65 and older who need help because of a limitation in their physical or mental or cognitive function. And so, when we talk about professional caregivers, these are people that have been trained to do this as a job and they're being paid for it.
Family caregiving is used loosely because it is loose. There are so many different types of people that are helping, and it's not always a family member. A lot of times it could be somebody like a partner or a neighbor or friends, and most people have more than one caregiver. They might have several people that are helping them, and some caregivers, they need more people. So, it is definitely a loose term.
There are a lot of caregivers who are doing this part time, and some of them are doing full time, but I think that the distinguishing factor is that they are not being paid.
Frank: Right, I think some people think that a caregiver is actually physically taking care of a loved one. But really, there's what we call in the industry, long distance caregivers. So, there's family caregivers that either are located nearby, mom or dad for example, or another loved one, or there's these long distance caregivers. So, talk to us a little bit about that and how sometimes it's a challenge for a family trying to take care of Mom or Dad from a distance. And I'm sure you, being in South Florida, I would think that probably deal with that quite often, where maybe the adult child doesn't live in South Florida, where Mom and Dad are. So, talk to us more about that.
Jodi: Yes. I would say that the majority of people that I work with are adult children, usually the oldest daughter, who lives in another state and her mom or dad or uncle or aunt or grandmother or grandfather live here in South Florida and refuse to move up north. They just don't want to be up in the cold anymore, they have friends here, they have a life here and they just won't leave. So, that is normally who I'm working with.
I can tell you a couple of stories. Just for instance, one gentleman that I know he takes care of his mother. He actually lives here and takes care of his mother, who is in Virginia. So, what does that mean? It means that he's on the phone four or five times a day, talking to his mother who is just starting to have some issues with memory care. And a lot of what he does is he will go ahead and organize the people that are actually taking care of her there in Virginia, which usually ends up being a mix of family members and paid caregivers. It's very hard for somebody to do something like that long distance, and it does also involve some traveling.
I do have another person that I'm working with and his mother lives here in South Florida. He's in Atlanta and he works full time and he doesn't have a lot of time to travel back and forth. He has a caregiver with her now. He finally, since there was COVID-19, he had to fly here after he was allowed to, and now he's here and we're going to be working on helping her find a place to live because it's just too much.
I think that when many caregivers start out, they don’t realize the trajectory of this job. They don’t realize that it is an unfolding responsibility. And so, when families go into it, they don't realize that it's going to be as involved as it becomes.
Frank: And I got to believe that sometimes there's challenges with deciding how to handle certain situations. One sister might have one idea about how to take care of mom and dad, while another one has strong feelings about a different route. I know that there's stories of situations like this that has torn families apart. What advice can you give in those types of situations and what help do you give to families in those types of situations?
Jodi: The decision process is very hard on a family. First of all, it's difficult when a husband is taking care of a wife or vice versa. The relationship shifts, and you're no longer that family member, you're now a caregiver. The relationship really changes and it can really be damaged from it. When you're talking about children, yes, people have different ideas.
A lot of the times, the person who's a family giver doesn't feel as though the actual weight of taking care of their family member is distributed through the family equally. A lot of times when this such situation happens, sibling rivalry from when they were a kid ends up butting its head in again, so people actually change the way they feel and revert back to when they were children, and that's becomes more evident. It definitely affects the family a lot.
What I try to do is, when I'm speaking with somebody or a family member, I always ask if there are siblings involved in making this decision, and I like to have a family discussion so we have everybody on. And so, I'm doing a little bit of helping coach the family and take a little bit of the emotions out of it and look at it more as delegating and more factual, trying to get the job done and getting it done without having any kind of family issues spoiling what's going on.
Caregiving, a lot of it is very difficult. There's a lot of negativity that happens to the person who's the sole caregiver, but there's a lot of positive too, so they get to have a little bit more feeling of pride that they're actually able to help their mother or father and they get a better relationship with their loved one if they're spending a lot of time with them. But overall, the negative part of caregiving and how it affects somebody and a family, more negative than positive unfortunately.
How I can help them is coming up with suggestions for how people can get breaks. People don't realize that there are different situations like maybe even hiring somebody part time or dispersing it amongst other relatives or friends or partners, taking that responsibility and divvying it up amongst other people. Maybe doing something like a daycare where the family member can go for a few hours a day to a daycare situation. Or, if it gets to be an issue, can even go ahead and do assisted living where the family members no longer have to take care of their loved one. They can go back to their roles in the family.
Frank: Now, this just kind of came into my head, but I think it's important to explain, because you mentioned assisted living and I know that's a lot what you do, with assisted living, memory care locations. Those are assisted living, but they specialize more in memory care, etc. But the term nursing homes or old folks' homes are still used today, but it's quite different. Do you want to maybe explain, maybe when you were referring to assisted living, the difference between assisted and what's looked at as a nursing home?
Jodi: I'm not really privy to what happens all over the United States, but I can tell you how the nursing homes are here in Florida and I think it's probably similar. Nursing homes, there's two parts to them. There's the rehab, or rehabilitation, where somebody might have an accident or they've had surgery or they've been ill and had a fall and they need to go ahead and go through rehabilitation. Usually, that's happening a few times a day, three or four times a day, so they go to rehab and they spend time there. There's a finite time that they're there, and generally the doctor will go ahead and suggest which nursing home, or really now they're called skilled nursing facilities, and they can suggest which ones are the ones that they work in and that they suggest.
Now, the second side of that, or the other half of the same house, here in Florida is long-term care. Long-term care is made for people who cannot take care of themselves and need some kind of invasive treatments, or they just can't get out of bed. There are certain regulations, rules and regulations, for people who can go ahead and qualify for assisted living. We'll get into that, but this is for the folks that cannot get into assisted living. They are bed bound, they can't take a step by themselves, they need somebody to shower them. Those are the people that can live in a long-term care in a skilled nursing facility. That's what skilled nursing is.
Assisted living facilities are just that, they're places that people could live for some assistance. Those are usually they need help with the activities of daily living. Those are the things you do when you get up out of bed in the morning, getting up out of bed, going and brushing your teeth and your hair, getting dressed, making a meal and eating a meal. If you need help with any of those activities, then that's what an assisted living provides.
Then there's two parts of assisted living. There's assisted living and there's memory care, which is similar, but it's made for people who have memory issues and they cater to those type of people. Those are the differences. Does that help?
Frank: Oh, yeah. Thanks for clarifying that. I think people use the term nursing to cover it all and really it seems like nursing's more medical, maybe a step below a hospital, it appears.
Jodi: Yeah. Hospitals are always trying to keep people out these days, so yeah, nursing home is for someone to either go for rehab or live for long-term because they cannot live at home and they can't live in an assisted living facility safely.
Frank: Right. Great. Thanks for clarifying that. So, let's talk about, maybe, the importance of spirituality and the physical effects of caregiving. What are your thoughts there?
Jodi: There's a lot of studies that talk about the people that are doing the caregiving may end up sick or passing away sooner than the person that they're taking care of. There's a lot that's talked about and looked at about caregiver burnout. Like I mentioned earlier, it's an unfolding type of responsibility. So, as time goes on, that person needs more care and that means that the person who's taking care of them starts taking care of themselves less. They don't have time for them to go to the doctors, for themselves. They don't have time for them to recuperate or rejuvenate. They don't have time for fun, and that really takes a big toll on someone's spirituality, as well as their physical body. People really need to be aware of that and they need to take care of themselves.
There are a couple of things they can do. They can actually go ahead and journal, which is kind of a cathartic way to keep track of what's happening and how they're feeling. They can try and pursue a little bit, take a little bit of time to pursue what they enjoy, to make it a priority to engage in some of their favorite hobbies or find a new one. It helps to relax them and simulate your brain and gives you a much needed outlet. And having fun, just maybe watching funny movies, spending some time talking to someone on the phone or visits with friends. Just trying to stay connected, also, social connections. And, of course, if you can, take a look and see if there are other people that you can bring into the caregiving circle to give yourself some relief.
Frank: Got it. So, Jodi, I usually bring this up at the end of our conversation. I'm going to bring it up now, only because I have a lot more questions for you and I want to make sure we don't run out of time. I know you're down in the Palm Beach County area of Florida, but if somebody wanted to get a hold of you, no matter where they're from, how would they go about doing that? Either your website or email or a phone, whatever you'd like to share.
Jodi: Sure. So again, it's Jodi Glacer, G-L-A-C-E-R, Senior Care Authority. My phone number is 561-303-2242, and the website is www.seniorcare, which is one word, -palmbeachcounty.com. And I cover the whole South Florida area, Palm Beach County, Broward, and Dade. My e-mail is Jodi, J-O-D-I, @seniorcareauthority.com.
Frank: Great. And, of course, Senior Care Authority has a network of people throughout the country, so even if they're not from South Florida, they can get in contact with you and you can put them in touch with the right advisor. That's somebody who does work like you do, but in a different part of the country. Is that right?
Frank: Okay, great. Great, perfect. Perfect. So, I want to talk about a subject that's for me kind of even hard to talk about, because I've seen it in the work that I've done, I'm sure you have, too, and that's financial abuse of elderly. When you think of elder abuse, you think of physical abuse, which is horrible in and of itself. But I would say most, in my studies and my research, most elder abuse issues are financial abuse, and most of that financial abuse, it's kind of sad to say, but it is happening from another family member. So, talk to us about that. Do you educate families, or the seniors themselves, on what to watch for? I mean, what thoughts do you have regarding this? There's no clearcut answer, of course, but any advice you can give.
Jodi: I've seen it. I've seen it a few times and it is really sad, and it could be from somebody like a daughter or granddaughter, or ... That's usually who it is, or someone in the family that maybe they don't have a close relationship with that person, but they're acting as a caregiver and they feel justified. I don't really like to talk about this too much. I just want to say that family members, you know your family members and the characters of your family members. So, if somebody is already questionable and they're taking care of another family member, keep an eye out. Because the two cases that I saw very up close, the person who is being abused financially did not want to go ahead and do anything about it because they're good hearted people, those are the people that are being abused, and they didn't want to press charges and they didn't want to do anything.
It's very hard. You can't make somebody do something, but if you do have an idea that this is actually happening, you can call the adult abuse hotline. You can look it up online, just look up adult abuse hotline, or the phone number of that is 800-222-8000. What that'll do is they'll take the information, it can be anonymous, and that'll trigger a look into that. They'll actually go ahead and bring the police into that and send somebody out to go interview the person who is being abused. But in the case right there, if that person doesn't want to go ahead and move ahead forward, there's nothing that can really be done about that.
Frank: Right. It's unfortunate, sometimes it's drug related, could be a grandchild or even a child. I've seen situations like that. It's sad, but it's a type of situation where a lot of families think that, "No, that's not going to happen to our family." We're not talking about necessarily families who are low income. This can affect everybody.
Jodi: Yes, and the one that I saw in particular was this woman who was drained to the point where she couldn't really afford even the assisted living that she needed because of this. And so, her granddaughter, I think who had been adopted, went ahead and got a breast argumentation and ran up credit cards in her grandmother's name. Some of it they can go ahead and take a look at, and maybe press charges, but it's not easy if the actual person who's being abused doesn't want to partake in that.
Frank: I know you mentioned this earlier in our discussion, but I think it's important enough to mention again, or if you have any more detail, and that's caregiver relief, or what we call caregiver burnout, where the family caregiver has to take care of themselves. So, what are thoughts there, ideas there, to help a family caregiver get a little relief so they can live their life as well and not be under such stress?
Jodi: Sure. You can call the Area Agency on Aging, that's a national program. It might be called something different in your state or your city, but you can look up the Area Agency on Aging and call them. They can help with relief as far as, monetarily, maybe cutting some bills out for that person, if money is part of the problem. Or, if they need something like meals on wheels or other programs, they can help you with any kind of programs that are going on nationally or in your state. So, that's one way.
Hiring aides, even for just maybe a couple hours, a couple of days a week so that the person who is the caregiver can get to go out and do their own thing, whether it be to do something fun, like have lunch with a friend or do something that's important, like go see a doctor. That's something to consider, as well.
There are also daycare centers and the daycare centers can be a big relief. A lot of them will have a bus that comes by to pick people up in the morning, and they usually include meals. I know one daycare that will actually include caring for someone as far as taking a shower and helping them through that. If your loved one has needs help with that, they had people that could do that for them. They actually come back, they've had two meals and they're clean, so that takes a lot of stress off of somebody who's taking care of someone, that you don't have to do those things for them.
Finally there’s respite. Respite is something you can talk to Area Agency On Aging about. Respite is actually taking maybe a few days to be able to go on vacation or have some time on your own, at a week at a time. You can also go to some of the smaller residential care homes, or some of the assisted livings in your community, and they will go ahead and allow someone to stay a week or two weeks so that you can go ahead and have some of your own time. Just like you take vacation every year, a couple of weeks from work, you should at least give yourself that much time in order to rejuvenate from such a hard job of being a caregiver.
You can reach out to other family members or friends to see if they could chip in a little bit. You never know, a neighbor might not mind or might be happy to spend a couple hours a few days a week with your loved one because they're friends and maybe they miss that friendship. So, you never know until you ask, and a lot of people really do want to help families.
And then, of course, if you have assisted living, the breaking point between assisted living and living at someplace like an assisted living is about six to seven hours. So, if you have, if you're paying six to seven hours a day for caregiving, seven days a week, at that point, you're spending almost double the amount because of the caregiving plus the place where someone is living in the food and everything that goes along with that. You can go ahead and replace that for half the amount at an assisted living facility.
Frank: Great, great. This has just been great information. Unfortunately, we're kind of out of time, so maybe if you could take a moment for anybody that's listening, that maybe it's just at their beginning stage of long-term planning. What recommendations do you have for them?
Jodi: If you have other family members or loved ones, or they have partners or friends, try and have a family meeting so that you can talk about how the responsibilities can be divvied up with everyone that's involved so that it makes it a little bit easier. Some people might just be able to help financially, and that's also helpful too. I mean, the person who's actually doing the caregiving is not going to be able to, if they are working, they're not going to be able to work as many hours. They might have to cut back because of that. Or they're going to be making sacrifices, which could take some money from them as far as earning. Make a plan so that you can take a look at what's happening now, and then consider how this is going to go down the road. Caregiving only gets to be bigger, it doesn't get easier, it gets harder. So, keeping that in mind too, and just having a plan with everybody is going to be a big help.
Frank: Great, great. Jodi, thank you so much. I really, really appreciate your joining us on Boomers Today. And again, Jodi, [inaudible 00:28:46] email her. Jodi@seniorcareauthority.com. And again, thank you, Jodi, for joining us.
Jodi: Thanks so much for having me. I really enjoyed it.
Frank: Yeah, I did as well.