Aging Horizons “Family Caregivers”

By Adem Lewis / in , , /

– [Man] The Depart
of Public Health and Human Services is pleased
to bring you Aging Horizons. Medicare, Medicaid,
social security, fraud, legal issues, veterans’
benefits and caregiving. Aging Horizons is
a program dedicated to inform and prepare Montanans on these timely issues,
making a difference to you and your loved ones. Here now is today’s
program host. – Hi, are you a caregiver? Do you ever get tired? Well, then today’s
show is for you, we have a great
guest with us who’s gonna talk about
compassion fatigue, something very, very
important to know about if you are a caregiver and this is gonna be the show that’s gonna give you
the best information for a good life,
so stay with us. – [Woman] Providing
long-term care for someone in need
is a labor of love, but it is a labor. Time apart is healthy and necessary both
for the caregiver and the person receiving care, it allows each a respite, time to relax and recharge. If you’re a long-term caregiver, visit the new Lifespan
Respite website. Financial assistance
may be available. Respite for caregivers,
it’s okay to need it, it’s okay to want it,
it’s okay to get it. – I didn’t know.
– Montana has one of the highest suicide
rates in the country. – Know the signs.
– Depression. – Isolation.
– Giving away possessions. – Alcohol abuse.
– It’s what you can do now that matters. – Don’t be afraid to
ask are you suicidal? – Tell someone.
– Don’t leave the person alone.
– Offer hope. – Call the lifeline.
– Don’t keep suicide a secret. – [Group] Break the silence. – [Man] Summer in
Montana is a great time to visit your
local farmer’s market. Enjoy the social
atmosphere while shopping for a wide variety of fresh,
locally grown produce. Together with both WIC
and Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Programs,
you help feed your family five or
more daily servings of fruits and vegetables
for better health. You also help local ag producers and enhance the state’s economy. So, for summer fun
that’s nutritious and helps Montana’s economy, shop at your local
farmer’s market. – I’m Attorney General Tim Fox. Nowadays, all of
you have to worry about cyber security,
something as simple as visiting pirate websites can put your computer at risk. Hackers use pirate websites to infect your computer and steal your ID and
financial information, or even take over
your computer camera without you knowing it. Don’t let hackers
into your house. Be careful with the
websites you visit and warn your kids on
how to stay safe online. To learn more, visit my website. – Hi everyone and welcome to Aging Horizons,
brought to you by the Department of Public
Health and Human Services. I’m your host, Kimme Evermann, and as I said in our opener, we have a great
show for you today with a real special guest. With us is Elaine Ryan, Elaine, welcome.
– Thank you. – [Kimme] And Elaine is
the Vice President of AARP Government Affairs-
– Yes. – And we’re gonna
be talking today, you’ve been in
Montana a few days now doing some educational
events and things, and just kinda wanna
give our guests a little feel for
what kinda brought you to this point and
not Delta Airlines? – That’s right. – [Kimme] Elaine, ’cause
now you’re working on what we alluded
to in the opener, compassion fatigue,
very big topic and very important topic.
– Sure, well, you know, I think what’s been special
about my work at AARP is that it seems like all
the stars were aligned. I was a family caregiver
for my mom and pop for 15 years and a long
distance one, at that- – [Kimme] Oh, dear. – So I saw up close
what are the good, the bad and the ugly
parts of our health and long-term care system, and so to have the opportunity to come to an
organization like AARP, to work across this country, to try to make things
better for family caregivers and their
loved ones is just, it’s a joy and it’s
a passion of mine. And one of the bumper
stickers in my office, on my bulletin board,
reads long term care, fix it before I need it. (laughing) – [Kimme] Yeah, spot on! Now, will you just,
for those folks who’ve never heard
the term before, let’s just give
a little clarity, what is compassion
fatigue, Elaine? – Sure, so compassion
fatigue is different than burnout, you
know, occasionally, if you’re a family
caregiver and you’re like, you know, gee, I can’t
take this anymore, I gotta step away, well, that’s an important
feeling to try to address, but compassion fatigue
is much more intense. You know, if you find
yourself reacting in a way you’ve
never reacted before- – [Kimme] Sure. – Getting angry about
something that maybe two weeks ago, a month
ago, you would just let go. – [Kimme] You’d let,
yeah, roll off your back. – If you feel like
you’re trapped, you’re isolated,
if you’re feeling a sense of lack of morale, nothing’s ever
going to get better. Those types of
intense experiences are really what we mean
by compassion fatigue. And they’re signals that it’s
time to take some action. – And we wanna make real clear that it’s a normal thing.
– Right. – It is, it does not
make you a bad person- – Absolutely.
– To admit that you feel the way you feel.
– Absolutely, in fact, there’s a lot of guilt- – [Kimme] Absolutely, there is. – Yesterday we heard from
Montana Family Caregivers at a respite conference,
and one of my first questions was how
do I take a break when I feel so guilty
about taking one? And the fact is, take one. You are no good to
your loved one if you are in poor health, if
you are stressed out, if you don’t have the joy
that you deserve to have while you’re taking care- – [Kimme] Of living life. – Absolutely. – Well, and speaking
of loved ones, let’s hear your story
because I understand it’s quite interesting.
– Well, my mom and pop were absolutely terrific
and it was my joy to be their family caregiver. You know, their journey
started when my mom slipped down the stairs
of a two story rental that they had
rented for 45 years. – [Kimme] I’m sorry. – And that slip it had
landed her in the hospital and then into rehab
and the rehab center said well, she should stay here. Now, she was 79 years old and my father was
in his late 80s and they said this
is the place for you. My father said Elaine, I need you to come home
and spring your mother, she wants to come home
and I need your help. So we went shopping for
a small ranch house, which in upstate New
York, you can buy for about 60,000
dollars, and at the ages of 79 and 82, my parents
became first-time homeowners. – [Kimme] Good for them! – They stayed in that
house for almost 9 years after her accident.
– Yeah, yeah, and you know, this is
what we’re seeing is, is family members are needing to stop their life in another
part of the country and come to help out.
– Right, and in fact, you know, I was so moved
whenever I travel across the country and see
Montana up close and the struggles family
caregivers have here, because one individual
yesterday said I need services to take a break and the closest next
service for her to access was 72 miles one way. – [Kimme] Yeah. – And so the distance
issues are just incredibly intense in
a state like Montana and we need to think
out of the box about how we can address
those care needs. – Absolutely, because you know, if I’ve learned one
thing working with aging, and I’ve learned more than that, it’s that we all age.
– Right. – We’re all getting there.
– Sure. – And that idea that
it’s never gonna happen to me is pretty ridiculous, and we do have to
do that planning. – Well, I think that’s right, and, in fact, our CEO at AARP, Joanne Jenkins, has a
new disrupt aging theory, it’s not about aging,
it’s about living. So how do we live
our best lives? – Right, and in
caregiving situations, which I think are
gonna probably build, we’ll probably be having
more, be proactive. – [Elaine] Right. – Right, and don’t
wait until it’s so bad for you that you don’t
know what else to do, you know, but to
get proactive and to get connected to some of
the resources and such. – Absolutely, know the
ABCs of compassion fatigue and I hope we’ll be
able to talk about them, they’re simple, be
aware, seek some balance and get connected
to your loved ones or someone in your
community or church. – Wow, we do have to talk
about that more, Elaine, and you know, folks,
as I said, it is not a bad thing to admit
that you need some help and we wanna help you with that, so stay tuned. (mid-tempo music) – [Woman] If the aging
network in Montana was a restaurant, the
sign out front would say over 50 million meals served
over the last 30 years. – Since adequate
nutrition is critical to health and quality of life, nutrition services are
an important factor in keeping older
Montanans healthy, independent and living in
their community and home. To find out more about
senior nutrition programs in your area call
1-800-551-3191. – I’m visiting with
Duncan Adams once again from the Attorney
General’s office and Duncan, we’re
talking about help for people who are struggling to make their mortgage payments. There’s a program
called Cash for Keys, tell me about that.
– Cash for Keys is kind of, it’s a wide term
and the banks all call it different things, it’s an option that
the banks can exercise in an effort to help people move out of their house,
the banks know that if you are in foreclosure, you can’t pay your payments, you’re running low on money, but the banks also
are trying to make this house a viable income
option for themselves, they wanna turn
around and sell it. So people, if they’re
interested in this option, they should call our office, we can help the banks
and the consumers negotiate the options
and potentially get them some money.
– We really need you to help us negotiate that.
– Exactly. – There’s more info
available, check it out, – Montana is a very rural state
with very small communities, and I think it’s very important that we get it out in
those smaller communities that yes, our older
adults are having falls, it’s very important
to prevent those falls and now we have a
program, Stepping Off, that can help them with that and teach them to have a
better quality of life, live longer, independently
by themselves or with their spouses. We can use the
Stepping Off program to help prevent those falls and to make their
quality of life better. (low-tempo music) – Hi folks and welcome
back to Aging Horizons, we’re here with
Elaine from AARP, Elaine, we’re talking about
compassion fatigue today and that’s directly
correlated with caregiving. What does the face
of family caregiving look like in Montana
’cause I know you know a lot of national stuff as well, but what about Montana?
– Sure, well, it’s surprising that here in Montana, there are 118,000
people who identified themselves as being
a family caregiver. – [Kimme] Wow. – And frankly, we
think that’s low. – [Kimme] I do too, yeah. – ‘Cause people
normally see themselves as a husband or a wife, a
mother, a son, daughter- – [Kimme] And it’s their duty. – And it’s their duty. If we were to pay
them for the hours they deliver in unpaid
care in Montana, it would cost the
state one point four billion dollars a year. So what’s really
critical is that we give family caregivers all the
support that they need so that they have the
strength to carry on. – [Kimme] Yeah, yeah. – And so for this
state, the hidden heroes of the healthcare system
are those family caregivers who give of
themselves every day. – [Kimme] Well, and
you’re, 110 million hours. – Exactly, 110 million hours. Now we have a public
policy institute at AARP that have calculated
these numbers, but think of it, 110 million
hours a year they give. Probably, you’ve
had the experience, I certainly have, you
lose track of time. – [Kimme] Oh, yeah. – Because it’s often 24/7, and so the types of care and the caregiving that goes on in the states really
deserve to have some simple support
that could make a huge difference.
– Oh, absolutely. And how do we match up
with sort of national, the national face,
are we more or less, what do you seeing?
– Well, you know, Montana over-indexes in terms of the numbers of family caregivers and if you were to even add
military family caregivers, which aren’t even really
represented in that number, there are many thousands more, so as we come to do
our work I think people will say I didn’t realize
I’m a family caregiver, I could use that kind of advice. And so first recognizing
that you may be one, and then seeking out
the support you need. – [Kimme] Absolutely, okay,
and one of the supports which is really, really
important is respite. – Right.
– Okay, so, first of all, again, let’s clarify
what respite means to our audience before we
start talking about it. – Right, respite is
really kind of a confusing way of saying taking a break. It’s a place or a time
when you can step away from your family
caregiving duties, sometimes it takes
different forms, sometimes you can go
and bring your loved one to an adult center where
they can stay for a bit, sometimes it’s for you so
that you can step away, have someone come into the home. It can be in hourly increments, you wanna go to the
doctor, you should. You wanna get your
hair done, you need it. You wanna go to see a
movie, you deserve to. So it’s being able
to take that break so that you’re re-fueling,
you’re recharging, so that you have that
strength to carry on. – [Kimme] Right, and in Montana we have Lifespan
Respite going on. – Right, and they
did just a fabulous, fabulous conference yesterday, I know it’s gonna be
posted on their website, so many great tips- – [Kimme] Good. – And frankly, people
don’t seek out a lot of services that are
available to them so please do so, you never know- – [Kimme] Why do you
think that is, Elaine, why don’t people seek it out? – Well, you know my
dear, sweet mama, God rest her soul,
used to say Elainey, I don’t have time to think. And I think when
you’re in the throes of family caregiving,
you really don’t take the time to say my goodness, I might need some help. And frankly, it’s
often in episodes where you might be in
and out of the hospital or somebody might suggest it, but often it
doesn’t come to you. This show is just such
an important reminder that there are
services available, seek them out.
– And, you know, just in general, I mean, what kind of services
are we talking about? You know, you talked
about maybe you wanna go get your hair done
and things like that, but you could also
even take a nap in your own home, right?
– Right. – [Kimme] And have someone
just be with your loved one. – Right, you know, in-home
as well as out-of-home breaks are important,
yesterday I heard the story of a family caregiver and then a woman who’s
running a respite care program and she said all this
woman needed to do was to take a nap,
and so they opened her doors while her
husband went to church, she took a nap and
there were suggestions that some people
want respite care so that she could go to church and he can be social
with other clients, so there are a lot of
different ways to do this, exciting ways that
don’t have to be over-engineered- – [Kimme] Sure, right, right. – But are so critical for
both the family caregiver and her loved one.
– Because I hear this all the time, I have
no scientific data to tell me it’s true
but I hear all the time that we see our
caregivers pass away before those they
care for in many, many situations,
because of the stress. – Well, that’s right, you know, that’s why it’s so
important that people take care of themselves. What we know, and
certainly was true in my family was my
father was the on-site family caregiver for my mom. As soon as she passed,
his health started to decline rapidly
and sometimes, as you know, it can happen
the other way around. – [Kimme] Oh, yes. – So you have to go to
your doctor’s appointments, take care of yourself,
get out of that stressful situation,
and in many ways, you deserve because
you’re doing double duty and you need to do
that or your loved one will be left with
no other options, which isn’t good for anybody. – Exactly, and I think,
we cannot say this enough and that’s why I’m so
happy that you were able to come and speak
at our event and such, because it can’t be said enough. Folks, we have a lot
more including some great resources so stay with us. (mid-tempo music) – You mean I can get help paying my prescription drug premiums? – Let me get this straight, I could be eligible for help with my family’s
prescription premiums even though I own my own home? – And our assets
won’t be counted. – [Man] If you’re
a Montana resident, enroll in the Medicare
prescription drug program. You could be eligible for
help paying your premiums. Call or visit the Big Sky Rx
website today to find out, even if you think
you’re over-income. – What do you know about
that, I’m eligible! – [Man] I was outside
working on some equipment, nothing to strenuous,
I started sweating and feeling out of breath. – [Woman] When he felt
pressure in his chest and aching in his arms, I
knew we had to call 911. – [Man] First responders
were there before we knew it. 38 minutes later, the
doctors had restored the blood flow to my heart. – [Woman] Now we know
dialing 911 saved his life. – [Man] Your life
is on the line. – [Woman] This
message sponsored by Mission: Lifeline Montana. – I take care of
my wife at home, when I found out
training was available, I said sign me up! It’s made a huge difference. – When my husband
was injured at work, it was life-altering. The classes taught me that
it was okay to grieve, to ask for help and to
better cope with a caregiver. – My dad lives four hours away and the powerful tools
classes taught me that it’s okay to ask for help. I highly recommend them. – [Woman] To find out about
this course for caregivers, go to – It’s amazing the difference
a little training can make. – We’ve been
married for 57 years and we’ve always been
very, very close, and Bessie fell
and broke her hip and we put her in a nursing home and I wanted to get
her out of there in the worst way
because we were made for better or for worse and we’re gonna stay that way. And the personal care
that comes in here and gives us a hand
is equally supportive as I am to her, personal
care is the answer to it all and without
it we couldn’t do it. – Hi folks, we’re back
here on Aging Horizons talking about a
number of things, compassion fatigue,
family caregiving, and we hae Elaine from
AARP with us today. Now, there is a
fantastic new law that’s coming on, into
effect, very soon. Let’s talk about that Elaine, how did it come to
even be, you know, how was it even thought about and what’s it gonna be like? – Great, well, the
Caregiver Act in Montana, we’re so excited that
Montana moved forward to enact this new law. Let me tell you a
little background on how we got there from here- – [Kimme] Please do, yes. – The Caregiver Act was
inspired by a report that AARP did several years ago. And what we entitled the
report was home alone and what it described
was that increasingly, family caregivers were
performing complex medical tasks on behalf
of their loved ones which at one time
would only be performed by medical professionals. – [Kimme] Right. – So, wound care,
giving injections, transferring people,
all of these things had people home alone with
little or no instruction. That inspired us
to craft something called the Caregiver
Act because we know that one out of every
six person on Medicare in this country who
leaves the hospital, returns to the
hospital in 30 days. – [Kimme] Oh, that’s awful,
that’s an awful statistic. – It’s a huge, costly
for both the individual and for government to
have people cycling in and out of the hospital. So the Caregiver Act
does three things, and by the way, it
will apply to anybody in Montana who has a
loved one in the hospital. So, when someone is
coming into the hospital, the name of the family
caregiver or caregivers will be recorded into the file, so you’re recognizing
that family caregiving right at the beginning. Then, there would
be antiquate notice prior to discharge
from the hospital. Now this is an
important piece because often people say
oh, it’s 11 o’clock, your loved one’s
coming home today. But you don’t have food
in the refrigerator, you don’t have medical
supplies that you need and so forth, and
then the third piece, which I think is very critical, is a simple instruction
of the medical tasks that you will be
performing on behalf of your loved one when you
get out of the hospital, when you’re home alone. So how do you draw a syringe, how do you check for
different wound changes, what should you know
about medication changes that may have occurred
in the hospital. And so, October
one of this year, the Caregiver Act takes effect- – [Kimme] Awesome! – In Montana.
– That’s great, well, I know in my own
caregiver, hospitalization situations, hospital
staff can often be so busy that they don’t necessarily
include that caregiver and I often find myself
chasing after them, trying to fill in what I feel
are the important details. – Right.
– This sounds wonderful. – Right, and just a shout
out to all of the nurses, AARP has a center of
champion nursing in America, nurses are lifesavers. They are so up against
it, as our hospital staff, this allows, though,
the family caregiver to be a part of the care
team because they sure will be a part of the
care team after someone comes home from the hospital. – Well, and I think
too that, again, in my cases, I know
that the nurses that I sort of ran
after were very happy to get the
information that I had and just didn’t realize, and I think also that
there’s a lot of times where families may
not say something because they don’t think
it’s that important or whatever or they
think that the doctor or the nurses just
automatically asked. – Right, and you
know, I’ve certainly had the experience where
somebody would prescribe, going out of the
hospital, a nebulizer for my mother, well, I’d never, I’m not a medical professional, I never knew what
a nebulizer was, how does it work,
what should I do? – [Kimme] Right. – These types of things
would be at least told to you prior to discharge. – [Kimme] Right. – And it’s important
to ask questions. – [Kimme] Absolutely,
and remember, because I always
think about this, that I’m his advocate,
when I’m there being that family
caregiver with people outside of our family,
I’m his advocate. – Of course.
– ‘Cause he can’t always, and I think this is
true for most people in that situation,
they may not be able to advocate for
themselves at that point. – Right, right, and, you know, caring for somebody at home and then somebody who
goes into the hospital, medications may change,
the condition might change, so when you get
back home it’s not the same medication
so you really need to understand what’s
happening during that hospital stay, whether
it’s short or long stay. – [Kimme] Right, exactly,
oh, you know what, Elaine, we have so
much more to talk about and so teeny weeny
little bit of time left. You know, I do wanna
talk about resources, where do people go
if they wanna learn more about this?
– Well, of course the Lifespan Respite website is an important resource, great conference yesterday. Second,, that MT, for the
Montana website, will give you links to
our AARP office here, and then finally, is chock full of
caregiving resources. Financial questions
you might have, coverage questions
you might have, respite questions you may have, and so there are tips and tools you can access on our website. – [Kimme] That’s super
because I think more and more and more people of
my age that are caregivers, when I don’t know something, the very first thing I think is I’m gonna Google that.
– Right, right. – [Kimme] And I
think that most folks in my age category and
younger are gonna do that, so great.
– Great. – [Kimme] You know,
Elaine, so glad that you’re working on such
an important thing and I hope that you
enjoyed your time here in Montana-
– I did, thank you so much. – And folks, remember, it
is okay to ask for help, we don’t want you to burn up. So for Aging Horizons
I’m Kimme Evanmann and thanks for being with us. (mid-tempo music) – [Man] Special thanks
to The Department of Public Health
and Human Services for their continued support. Hosts on Aging Horizons
are program specialists at The Montana Office on Aging. Production facilities
provided by Video Express Productions. For more information
about Aging Horizons, call The Department of Public
Health and Human Services toll free at 800-332-2272.

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