Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver

with Barbara Rose,

NaviGuide, United Church Homes

This week on Ask a NaviGuide, host Michael Hughes chats with Barbara Rose, one of our NaviGuides at United Church Homes. During this episode, Mike and Barbara discuss the importance of caregivers caring for themselves as well as their loved ones. The conversation includes topics such as avoiding burnout in caregiving, being an advocate for yourself, tips to control caregiving stress, education and resources for caregivers, and more.
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Highlights from this week’s conversation include:

  • Barbara’s work as a NaviGuide (1:04)
  • Avoiding burnout in caregiving (2:55)
  • Embracing the opportunity of caregiving (5:33)
  • Tips to control caregiving stress (11:08)
  • Being an advocate for yourself (12:45)
  • Education and resources to help support caregivers (13:58)

Abundant Aging is a podcast series presented by United Church Homes. These shows offer ideas, information, and inspiration on how to improve our lives as we grow older. To learn more and to subscribe to the show, visit


Michael Hughes 00:07
Hi, everybody, and welcome to this episode of Ask a NaviGuide, which is part of the Abundant Aging Podcast Series brought to you by United Church Homes. I’m Mike, your host, and on this show, we tackle subjects and aging and family caregiving that can be stressful to work through. And we do this with tips and advice from our NaviGuide team. Our NaviGuide collectively have decades of experience helping families work through stressful issues and aging. And we hope that the tips that we can share here will help you and can help everybody age with abundance. So we’re lucky to have our NaviGuide Barbara with us today. And today we’re going to talk about family caregiving, but managing you as a family caregiver. But before we get started, we’re gonna read the statement. The opinions shared in this podcast are those are amazing NaviGuides and are not meant to convey oh, by the way, are amazing NaviGuides enter host and are meant to convey nor take the place of clinical legal or other professional advice. With all that being said, Hello, Barbara. Hello,

Barbara Rose 01:07
Michael. Glad to be great.

Michael Hughes 01:09
Great to see you. So Barbara, you are a NaviGuide with United Church Homes. Can you explain a little bit about what a NaviGuide does and how you found yourself in the role?

Barbara Rose 01:18
Well, I’ve been a NaviGuide coordinator for nine years, I enjoy helping people, which is exactly what I do. It’s a very rewarding and challenging career. And I absolutely love it.

Michael Hughes 01:35
You are being modest, Barbara, you have I think over 80 residents and two buildings, two counties you take care of or taking care of people in our homes, you’re navigating people through insurance issues, medical issues, community resources being just a voice to listen to, and just kind of keeping people you know, doing more what they want to do, right. I mean, that’s a lot. And I think every day is probably different.

Barbara Rose 02:07
Absolutely. And that is the pure joy of it. I don’t get bored. Never. And it’s also yesterday, for example, I was an attorney. And I

Michael Hughes 02:24
you’re not actually an attorney.

Barbara Rose 02:28
But I can post a letter to the law firm, they were trying to garnish the wages of one of my residents because of a repaired vehicle. And they’re not allowed to do that. Social Security is a protected income. So yeah, so I get to dabble in all kinds of sayings.

Michael Hughes 02:56
Wow, well, you’re like the Swiss Army knife of aging, which is awesome. But you know, this show, we want to really kind of talk to listeners that are family caregivers. And I know typically like you know, as we age and as our needs, you know, for support. Maybe our spouses, our first caregivers, but there may be situations where others have to step in and maybe support the needs of a loved one. Who typically are those people? I mean, I you know, caregivers can be any but I mean, I know that. I know that Gen Z makes up a good percentage of caregivers. But I don’t know, what sort of people have you seen as a family or a friend caregiver?

Barbara Rose 03:42
Well, through my experience, it really does not matter how many siblings you have, there’s usually just one step up to be the caregiver, the other kind of help to make that person have a little bit easier of a job because caregiving is a stressful, physical, mental, emotional job. And you can get burned out quite quickly. And there are a few suggestions that I have, if you are going to be a 24/7 care care provider and that would be to look into respite care, adult day care, just to give yourself a break, because I do believe that it’s a well known fact that usually the caregiver passes before the person that as they’re providing the care for a lot of times that happens because they just get so worn down. And people don’t even think about the caregiver all while they’re doing okay. You can look into if you are affiliated with a church, maybe they Have friends of your loved ones that will come in and sit with the person. So you can take a long shower, or go shopping, or go home and tend to your own needs. And maybe other siblings that don’t want to provide care, but will come in and have movie night with a loved one or will watch a sporting event with them. Set there a couple hours with them. So you can go off and just have some peaceful time to clear your head, so you can provide a better chair.

Michael Hughes 05:38
Right. But you know, I guess for some or maybe even for many it’s like, okay, gosh, everyone just naturally expects me to take on those roles as caregiver like I’m the chosen one, you know, suddenly? I mean, when should people think of themselves when they have that? I mean, you know, yeah, they’re the chosen one. But you’re the chosen ones for a reason. I don’t know.

Barbara Rose 06:03
Well, I was the chosen one, so to speak, I embraced it. I raised it. I felt that I was now just for me. I felt privileged to take care of my mom and dad, or I wanted to be like I, my father. I was able to take care of him at home and he didn’t have to go to a nursing home. But he didn’t have cognition issues. He had physical issues. And then my mother, I was unable to keep her at home. I did for quite a while but I say embrace it. Have fun with it. You know, even if your loved one has cognition problems, they change with them. And you might find a very enjoyable change. In my mother it was that she was always kind of cantankerous and argumentative. And in her dementia, she got more loving and caring. She didn’t express it verbally, but she wanted to hold your hand. She wanted to hug you, which she never did before dementia. Wow. Really? Really? And she also never liked seafood but loved shrimp. Fried Rice when she dementia No kidding. Yeah. Wow. I mean, so there is an opportunity there to get to know someone that you really didn’t know, but it’s still your mother, it’s still your loved one.

Michael Hughes 07:49
That’s a great perspective. Because, you know, if you are that chosen one, it’s almost like Well, every conceivable person that’s available to support that there’s this person that need, you’re the one that people have the most trust in, you’re the one that people have the, you know, the most feel the most capable. And I even guess with that, like, other people maybe feel guilty about not wanting to help, like I’m living across the country, or I wish I was closer to one in my life, and all that, but they want to help so but you should look for opportunities, they can help. Right? Thank you. If you’re at a distance,

Barbara Rose 08:29
they absolutely can help monetarily number one, the short. Absolutely. And, and that, you know, I mean, money always makes things run smoother. And they can facetime. Yes, they can just call on the telephone. Or maybe they can schedule their vacations with their loved one you now write about or a long weekend, or and that and then that gives the number one chosen one a little time off. Or they could all spend time together as a family again.

Michael Hughes 09:08
I guess managing expectations is going to be important, right? I mean, if you have a strange brother or something like that, and suddenly moms that need you know, don’t hold grand aspirations in your head that suddenly this is the thing that’s going to call your brother to action and suddenly be there. And families are complicated.

Barbara Rose 09:31
That’s absolutely true, too. Because my sister washed her hands of my mother. And she had her own reasons. And I was okay with that. I understood it. I understood it completely. And I also understood that my son’s an MMA fighter, but he was twice

Michael Hughes 09:57
My son is a mixed martial arts fighter. Yes. Yes. Okay. That’s awesome.

Barbara Rose 10:05
And yet he was afraid to go to the Memory Care Unit and see my mother. He was afraid of these little little people because he went there once and they grabbed dean. And you know, not in a bad way, but in an emotional way. And I’m like, Really you go in a ring, but yet this little lady terrifies she’ll, I didn’t hold it against him. I did try to educate. And eventually he came around, especially when I was able to take mom outside, where it wasn’t her that upset him. It was the others in the unit. Okay, ya know, and so we worked around it.

Michael Hughes 10:55
Yes. You know what I love? What you’ve talked about so far is this idea of respite. I mean, I think that’s what a lot of caregivers need just to have time away where they’re not thinking about caregiving. And that doesn’t mean going into work. So, recognize that work is not respite from family caregiving. But other things that can help caregivers, I’m thinking of all the different stresses that might be on a caregiver, I think one that I’m thinking of first is physical stress. So you’re moving somebody around, you have to support somebody. But there’s a world of supportive devices out there. There’s Canes Walker’s close hooks, would you agree that you know, getting people to do more things through themselves? That’s kind of a first step to taking the burden off of you. Because people like to do stuff for themselves, right? They don’t, they don’t just want somebody to help them all the time.

Barbara Rose 11:54
Absolutely, I think most people want to be independent. And that is, our role as a navigator is to keep people independent, that is our main goal, to keep people out of a nursing facility, hospital emergency room, we want to put in place that durable medical equipment, like the grab bars in the shower, the shower chair, so that they can sit down in that shower. And this also deals with privacy and dignity, you know, they’re safe sitting in that shower chair. So I’m just going to have a seat over here on the toilet to make sure you’re okay. And, you know, because you do have to be respectful of privacy, and you don’t want to embarrass anyone. So yeah, that durable medical equipment gives life to independent living. Yes.

Michael Hughes 12:52
And then there’s also I don’t know how to do it. You know, I don’t know how to pick someone out. I don’t know how. So education, and telling people what to expect, is kind of important, right? Absolutely.

Barbara Rose 13:08
Education, there’s techniques for everything, techniques for helping someone off of the floor, so you don’t hurt them. I mean, you just don’t, they’re not like a baby where you can just pick them up under their shoulders, you need to, you know, you need to use it, learn how to use a gait belt. And you can learn all of these things through Area Agency on Aging, you can take a course, you could check in to your local hospital, and find out if they give training so on what to expect to when we take mom home education is, you know, just like I said about my son, I found a way around that so he could still visit his grandmother and not be afraid. And, you know, all cut, education is the key to everything.

Michael Hughes 14:04
Right, right. And if, let’s say I know a lot of people find themselves in this situation because of a hospitalization. And your loved one might be in a skilled nursing facility, they might be discharged. If you feel like you have not gotten adequate training on how to manage the needs of your loved one, once they’re home, you’ve got to be your own advocate. Right. You’ve got to really, because they’re supposed to do that, I think.

Barbara Rose 14:31
Yeah. That you’re absolutely right now when my father was discharged, he had esophagus cancer. So he had a trach so he came home. We had home health first set up had a wonderful gal there. I went upstairs to use the bathroom and the aide I solar getting in her car. And I said Uh, what? What happened, dad? I mean, oh, well, I just told her we no longer needed her that you would take care of me. And I was shocked. And because I had to, you know, stick a tube in his trach and clean his. And I had no, the hospital gave me one five minute lesson. But my father was completely in, in good mental state, he knew exactly what was going on. And between the two of us, we did our thing, and we’re able to do it and have no problem. But there again at that

Michael Hughes 15:51
must have been, Oh, I

Barbara Rose 15:53
was, I was floored. I said, I was like you did clocked out. But I said, Why did

Michael Hughes 16:00
the home health aide leave? Why didn’t they talk to you? I mean, that’s just kind of funny to me.

Barbara Rose 16:05
Well, they tell me when they take their orders from the patient, and the patient has rights. They, you know, they can refuse help, they can refuse to take a shower. They can, you know, and you have to respect that. And I did not have any blame on this person. I was just like, Well, okay, dad. Well, let’s, we started at Ground Zero, and we made it. So yeah. You know, but I think it was, so she did not feel comfortable with a stranger.

Michael Hughes 16:41
Right? Right. So that’s another great insight is just that they’re more comfortable with people they know, some people, many people. Hey, one quick thing. Before we break, though, just on that point about education, we had talked, I think in an earlier episode about that teach back method. So are, could you just talk about that a little bit. So if you’re seeing a demonstration, or a nurse is telling you how to do something, what does that teach back method?

Barbara Rose 17:08
Well, for example, if a doctor or the nurse is instructing you on how to do a procedure, and you, I just always say, Okay, this is what I’m hearing or learning, is this the absolute correct way? Is, am I doing? Am I doing this the proper way? And it’s just such a learning process, and I have always found that people are so willing to help you and teach you, if you just ask.

Michael Hughes 17:46
Oh, and the other thing, too, that I found is that, you know, if somebody is talking about medical terms, you know, whatever reason, I never stopped to say no, I don’t know what that word means. But now I feel more confident doing it. Like, you know, what does the word renal mean? Or, you know, so you’ve told me this, and this is what I understand this, and this is what this means or because medical terminology can be, I don’t know, just be bonkers. Sometimes.

Barbara Rose 18:20
It’s a different language. And also so many people and I’m guilty of this myself. Abbreviate and initial where you are now Oh, Word, you know, like, a L What does all mean to you? To me, it means assisted living.

Michael Hughes 18:41
It means a guy’s name and Yeah,

Barbara Rose 18:43
exactly. So that for someone like my sister, she, I would say, Well, maybe they would be a candidate for a L. And she would be like, a L What? No world. And medical people know that. And they don’t all get offended by you asking, wait a minute here. I don’t know what that means. Could you just explain that further to me? And I have never had anyone say to me, You are the stupidest person on earth for not knowing that. And they usually say no, I’ll be glad to explain it to you.

Michael Hughes 19:25
That’s awesome. Well, look, I think that’s a great place to end it. And I wanted to thank you, Barbara, for being our guest today. And I want to thank you, our listener, for checking out this episode of Ask an ABA Guide, which is part of the abundant agent podcast series brought to you by United Church homes. If you liked this week’s show, please like, share and subscribe. We have a YouTube channel Surprise, surprise United Church homes. And we also have all of our podcasts on our podcast site, which is abundant aging There’s actually a response form there. So if you’d like what you heard on the show, let us know if you Don’t let us know if you’ve got ideas tips, show ideas even please put them in the comments send it over to us. We’d love to hear from you. For more information about the UCH NaviGuide program, sorry, acronyms United Church Homes NaviGuide program, please visit And for more information about United Church Homes itself, visit Again, thanks for listening. We will see you next time!