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Episode 65 – What To Do When Your Aging Parents Show Signs Of Needing Help – With Liz Craven

What To Do When Your Aging Parents Show Signs Of Needing Help - With Liz Craven

What do you do when your aging parents begin to show signs of needing help?

Hey there Beautiful,

Thank you so much for your understanding last week.

I was unable to put the finishing touches on this episode due to my back injury.

I woke up two weeks ago on Monday and said, “I feel so good!” and then went to my bootcamp class. While at said bootcamp class I proceeded to do one of my favorite exercises, single leg Romanian deadlifts, on my right leg.

As soon as I did the second repetition I felt the wonderful sharp pain that said, “Hahaha you are so funny for trying this!”

I then went to my haircut and color appointment because I wasn’t about to give that up and by nightfall I knew that I would be down for about two weeks.

This is the third time, reminded by my wonderful husband, that this has occurred and yes I will go see a doctor next month to rule out what exactly it is.

I think it’s a muscle or tendon that connects my hip to my back since it affects my sciatic nerve. So thank you again for your patience.

Alright, this week’s episode is all about what to do when our aging parents or other loved ones begin to slow down.

I invited Liz Craven to come on the show and I learned so many new things that I didn’t even know existed.

I mentioned a few of them to my mom and she was like, “Uh yeah I know all about them.” So I guess I’m lucky in that respect. I’m also lucky that my mom and dad have communicated with myself and my sister what their wishes are and have repeatedly told me that if they see or hear them not being themselves I have to tell them.

They in turn have promised to listen.

So who is Liz Craven?

Liz is the publisher of Polk ElderCare Senior Resource Guide and host of the Sage Aging podcast.

Like so many others, Liz has faced the overwhelming task of being a caregiver for people that she holds dear.

She understands how tough the day to day of a caregiver can be and how hard it is to come by good information.

Through her business she has spent the last two decades connecting families to the education and resources they need to navigate the aging journey. 

What To Do When Your Aging Parents Show Signs Of Needing Help - With Liz Craven

Helping caregivers find some balance in day to day life is her mission and reward. In Liz's free time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, getting outside and going to the gym.

What you will learn in this episode:

  • The first thing you should do when you see your parents begin to slow down.
  • Why social interactions and having purpose is so important as you get older.
  • Why pretending everything is okay with the way your parents are behaving is ignoring a problem that most likely will not get better.
  • How it’s easy for older adults to hide that their mental health is declining.
  • Why you should talk to your own children about what your wishes are regarding getting older sooner rather than later.

Liz also mentions a wonderful resource, Area Agencies on Aging, that you need to check out if you don’t know where to start to obtain information and important resources that your parents may need as they age. I checked it out and put in my zip code of where I lived just to see what resources are available. It was pretty impressive and at the very least gave me a few organizations that I could contact to get additional information. 

And if you want to know more about Liz, all the ways you can contact her are below.

I’ll talk to you later, Beautiful!

Links mentioned in this episode and to contact Liz:

Did you miss this awesome episode about how to cultivate happiness by writing letters of gratitude? Click HERE to listen now!


Alice Agnello: Hey, Liz. Thanks so much for agreeing to be on the podcast today. I really appreciate it.

Liz Craven: I'm so glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Alice Agnello: So Liz, tell my listeners who you are and what you do.

Liz Craven: My name is Liz Craven, and I publish a senior resource guide, a very comprehensive senior resource guide in my community. I live in Central Florida, Polk County, Florida. And we've been doing that for a lot of years, for about 27 years now. I'm married. My husband is my partner in everything. He's my best friend, my business partner, my husband. We have two really great grown kids that we've raised. And our most recent venture is to start a podcast. So just how we became connected. I recently started the Sage Aging podcast really as a supplement to our resource guide that we already publish. But it very quickly grew a life of its own.

Alice Agnello: And Liz, I wanted Liz to come on today to basically talk about, because she has just a wealth of knowledge about caregiving and aging. And we're in that sandwich generation where we're starting possibly to take care of our older parents or older relatives. And we also are still kind of taking care of our children possibly at the same time. And it kind of puts us in as they call it, the sandwich generation where we're trying to navigate both of those sides of the spectrum.

Alice Agnello: So Liz, my first question I wanted to kind of ask you is when you start to kind of see, let's just say take a parent for instance. They're starting to kind of slow down. And you're thinking I might need to intervene or I need to possibly get more involved. What could be some resources or good first steps for them to take?

Liz Craven: The very first step is a conversation. Because there are a lot of important things that need to happen as your parents begin to slow down. And frankly, anybody who's over the age of 18 should be putting some specific things in place. That you hear it called estate planning. And most people equate that with things.

Liz Craven: And that's part of it. But another part of it is making sure that you've got a healthcare surrogate designated, that all of your assets and things are titled in the right way. That your beneficiaries are up-to-date. The basic paperwork, a basic will. That some of these pieces of paper are very important. If you go out tomorrow and have a car accident, who's going to make medical decisions for you? Do you have that lined out or is that going to be a stressor placed upon your family, because you didn't plan ahead?

Liz Craven: So that's the very conversation to have is, "Hey mom and dad, just checking in. I've been doing my own kind of housekeeping and getting my own affairs in order. And I was wondering, have you done that yet? Where do you keep your important documents if I ever needed to access those?"

Liz Craven: So that kind of makes it a more casual introduction to the conversation that, "Hey, it's important that we have these things together. I'm doing it for me." And maybe even asking advice, "Who did you see when you did this for yourself?" And you start to get that conversation rolling and get the important information. Because it's really important for you to know what their wishes are in the first place. And to make sure that if they moved from Ohio to Florida, that what they had in Ohio probably needs to be updated in Florida, or wherever it is that they're moving. So opening that conversation first is really important.

Alice Agnello: That's a conversation that's really hard to start off, because you don't want to come across as demanding the information. You just want again, kind of gently broaching the subject to have a conversation. And also, knowing if you've got siblings, which one might be the best sibling to ask those questions. Because there's a different dynamic I'm sure in that relationship. Like with my sister and I, I'm the one who knows everything because my dad wanted me to be in charge of all of that. Whether or not he's communicated that with my sister, I need to ask that question now that I think about it. Just to make sure we're on the same page.

Alice Agnello: But it's a difficult one and not a lot of people want to start talking about it because it's almost like I'm asking them, "So when you die, what's going to happen?" And that is really what you need to know moving forward-

Liz Craven: Well the things is, death is a part of life. I mean, it's a part of the cycle of life. We can't do anything about that. We're born, we live a wonderful life, and then we die. And it doesn't have to be super uncomfortable, but it tends to be. So we just have to really kind of suck it up and have the conversation.

Liz Craven: But it's so true about the relationship of the different children. I know in my situation, my mother used to call me the mommy daughter. She knew I was the one that if she needed something taken care of, if when it came to her end of life and her medical care at the end of her life, it was me. That was who she wanted to handle things because she was comfortable with that and knew how organized I was. And it was not a slap in the face to the other siblings. They had their roles. They had their different roles that they played in her life and the different things that she relied on each one of us for.

Liz Craven: But you're right. It's really important to talk about that as a family. And even if that conversation starts with just mom and dad and you, eventually those conversations need to filter through the entire family so everybody's on the same page. I tell you, it makes an immense difference when the planning happens early as opposed to when you're in crisis mode. Because once a crisis begins, then you're just scrambling. And do you really want the stress of making life choices, really big choices when the whole family is just stressed out? It just is not a great situation. So the uncomfortable situation of having this conversation now is far better than dealing with these things later.

Alice Agnello: So once, if it's all in a great situation. You've had the conversation, you kind of know where everything stands. Maybe some stuff still has to get done. And you're considering that I think mom needs some more help, but I'm not sure what kind of help to give her or where to even go for that kind of help. Maybe she just needs to have her house cleaned more regularly, or maybe she needs to take some errands. You're kind of debating whether or not you want to step into that caregiver role or not.

Liz Craven: That's a really hard one because sometimes, the older adult might view it as relinquishing their independence. So we start with things like lawn care, housekeeping, maybe some of those things. And again, the way you venture into these conversations can be through the side door. It doesn't have to be right at you and, "Hey mom, this is what we need to do." But, "Hey mom, wouldn't you enjoy a little more free time to do XYZ?" Whatever the hobbies and things that they really enjoy doing are. "I heard about this service who could come out and cut your lawn for you or who could come out once a week and do the deep cleaning. And that way you don't have to spend an entire day cleaning your house." Every family is going to be different. There are some people who really want that direct conversation. And that's great when that situation arises.

Liz Craven: But if not, very gently say, "I notice you're having a little trouble doing this or having a challenge with the cooking every day. What if we had some meals delivered for you a few times a week, would that help?" That will allow them to maintain independence. And every conversation needs to be focused on that, that we're not taking independence. We're helping you maintain it. That's the biggest thing, because people don't want to be talked to like they're children. They don't want to be talked to. They don't want to feel like they're incapable. So if you hand them the proper tools and say, "Here, try this," and they can manage it on their own. That's a really great situation. They decide what days they have someone come clean the house. They decide who's going to cut the lawn. But starting to put those things in their thought process even is a good start.

Liz Craven: Now, if you're noticing that things are really getting bad where you feel like you need to step in. And maybe they're having some difficulty with activities of daily living. And that means the bathing, and the housekeeping, and the laundry, and the things that we have to do every day as people. We have to feed ourselves, and we have to keep ourselves clean. If they're having challenges with things like that, then sometimes whether or not they want that assistance, you're going to need to be a little bit assertive and insist on placing some help there. It doesn't mean they lose their independence. The help will help them keep their independence. Hard conversation sometimes has to be a little more of a strong conversation than we would want.

Alice Agnello: Do you find more people taking on that responsibility themselves first and then going out to get outside help? What do you say?

Liz Craven: Not usually. Not usually. I think that as we age, we have a tendency to be a little bit in denial about the things we can't do anymore. It's scary. Who wants to think that they're on that side of the hill? We climb the Hill, climb the Hill, climb the hill, and all of a sudden we're at the top and it's time to start going down. And you go, "Oh, wait a minute." I think of even myself. I'm 52, I'm in great health. And I still do everything that I want to do, but I have noticed some different pains and aches, and things that weren't there before. And when I go to the gym, it looks a little bit different than it did when I was 25. In all seriousness. And as you start to experience those things. Your eyesight maybe isn't as good as it used to be, or you can't grip that jar to open it as well as you used to be able to do. That's really difficult to face. And nobody wants to think that, "Wow, I'm declining now." Because decline is such a negative word. And it really doesn't mean declined in the negative sense. It's just that we're walking along that journey of life, and we are where we are.

Alice Agnello: That's part of aging. I think I either am, or going to talk about, or I have talked about aging gracefully. And my whole thing is that I don't know if I want to age gracefully. Meaning that yes, I'm going to accept some of the things are going to be a little bit limited. But I'm also going to fight a little bit about it. Meaning that if I can either do some more stretching, or eat a different way, or take a supplement, or do something. I'm going to do as much as possible now, so that hopefully it will help me later.

Alice Agnello: But I have a tendency. Sometimes I've talked to some of my friends and their parents aren't that way. They're very focused and stuck. And I think to what you had said earlier, they're not accepting the fact that they are on the other side of the hill. And they're so independent, and they're refusing and just digging in their heels for all that you want. It just causes so much strife within the family. And my heart goes out to them.

Liz Craven: Well, that again brings us back to the point of the pre-planning conversation. So my kids are 26 and 28. We've had this discussion already. I'm only 52, my husband's 54. We've got a long time before we need that kind of assistance. But we've already had those discussions so that it's not going to be a surprise to me, and it's not going to be a surprise to them.

Liz Craven: When we get to a place where they're noticing certain things, then it's time for them to say, "Hey mom, hey dad, here's what we're noticing." And because we've had that conversation as a family, it will make it much easier when they have to come to me and say, "Do you remember when we talked about this mom? These were your ideas." And that will be a lot easier for me to accept. And it won't be, I think bringing things like that out in the open with your grown children so that you don't have to hide from them. I don't feel like I have to protect my children from my aging process. And obviously this might change 20 years from now when they come to talk to me about something, I might feel differently. But they know what to look for. They know what my wishes are, and they know what their dad's wishes are.

Alice Agnello: I think I've been trying to do that with my kids in the sense that I communicate a little bit more about what's going on with both my health and my husband's health. I don't tell them every minute detail along the way. But I don't want them to all of a sudden I'm dumping this huge thing that's about to happen to one of us. And they've kind of gotten inklings along the way. So they're just like, "Wait, wait, what's happening? Where did this come from?" Because I feel like I'm doing them a disservice. I feel like my mom does a little bit that with me, like all of a sudden she'll finally tell me the information. And I'm just like, "Okay, well wait. How did we get here?" Then I have so many more questions to ask her.

Alice Agnello: And I understand the privacy thing, and she's private too. But I want to empower my kids so that we have this conversation. So that then they never feel like they're intruding and they're asking the right questions. And then hopefully, we're just getting better at that, each generation as they come. We'll just get a little better.

Liz Craven: And let's go back to, what do we do if they're resistant to that conversation? So one thing that we know is that social engagement is vital. All of us. No matter what age we are, being engaged with our community, and with our neighbors, and feeling like we have purpose is so, so vital to our health.

Liz Craven: So one way to kind of bridge the gap and to take that backdoor way to the conversation is to start engaging mom and dad in some things that could show them it's not a bad thing to accept help. So that might mean joining the senior adult group at church, and going on the different trips, and partaking in the different parties. And they do cards once a week maybe. Or whatever the activities are, start to have them engaged socially with other people who are in their same peer group.

Liz Craven: Because what's going to happen then is they're going to start to hear how their friends, "I have a lady comes over once a week and she prepares all my meals and leaves them in the refrigerator. And then all I have to do is warm them up. How wonderful is that? I would have loved to have that when my kids were little." These conversations will start. That makes it a little easier because then it's their idea. It came from their peer group, and it wasn't their kids saying, "You need this."

Alice Agnello: No that makes total sense because it's just like when my mom and I will talk about our husbands and we'll say one thing. And it won't happen. It won't get done. But God forbid some other man or someone else outside says the exact same thing to our husbands. They're like, "Well we'll do this and this and this makes sense." And my mom and I just go, "Yes, totally makes sense."

Liz Craven: "Great idea, honey."

Alice Agnello: Exactly. "That's fine." But you're right, because you want to feel validated that I am not the only one doing this. This is a normal progression. This is something normal everyone does right now. My same generation is getting a little extra help for this. And it's also, you can always phrase it as you've earned it. Of course you want to do this. Sometimes they enjoy those things. You want to get outside, let's say garden help. But maybe that's one of the activities they like to garden. But maybe you could send over your son to mow the lawn, but you can handle doing all of the flowers or the trimming and the weeding type of a situation instead of doing all of it just yourself.

Liz Craven: Right. And that's a great way to segue into other help. It's always best if the family is offering the help to begin with. Sometimes that's not possible. There are oftentimes when you have your estate away or you live a couple of hours away, it's not always possible to get there. So in that instance, you have to rely on services. And whether they are senior related services or just regular services that you schedule to come in, or groceries being shipped through the different shopping apps that are out there. Those are always a good idea. A lot of people will send Uber Eats to their parents' homes on a regular basis. Using services like Meals on Wheels. There are a lot of ways to ease some of those stressors from far away. But if you're close, the best case scenario is go and spend time with your parents. Go and be present, because that will give you the very best window into what's happening.

Liz Craven: Pop in in the afternoon. And it's going to be different in the morning versus the afternoon. In the morning, they're fresh, they're arrested. Things are probably going fairly well. By the late afternoon, you're going to see what things they're having challenges with. So go and sit and have a cup of coffee with mom and dad, or a snack. Or go for a walk around the block, whatever. But I think that because it's uncomfortable, a lot of times adult children don't spend the time they should. I see that so, so often, that it's sad for them to see mom and dad declining. They don't know what to do. They feel stress about it. So the best way to cope with it is just pretend it's not there. And a lot of things are missed, especially as it relates to dementia.

Liz Craven: Dementia is something that when somebody begins to experience symptoms of dementia, they are able to very easily hide it. So they start to notice that they're forgetful. They don't want to worry their family. They're a little bit concerned and scared themselves. So they start to hide those things. It can get pretty far down the road before you start to really see those outward signs in the chance meetings.

Liz Craven: Maybe you're out for lunch once a week. And my father-in-law, he had Alzheimer's. And we would go to lunch once a week. And we started to see a progression each week of him having trouble ordering his food. And when we would ask a question or he would ask a question and ask the same one multiple times and we thought, "This has gone a little further." We knew it had started, but we didn't realize how far down the road it had come. Because it's very easy to hide.

Alice Agnello: Especially what you're saying. Because you saw him at lunch every day, or every week. So if I was to go visit my mom let's say every Friday morning, she could be totally one way in the morning, but by the afternoon ... so it might be a good idea to maybe plan for something in the afternoon at a different day, just to kind of change it up, to see how they're acting. Especially if you have had that hint, that their memory is not as strong as it once was.

Liz Craven: Right. And if there is a spouse in the scenario, they tend to be very protective. And when they begin to see signs, they're going to cover it up too, because there's a fear, "They're going to take her away from me or take him away from me. And I don't want my spouse living in a memory care unit." And that's a fear. And that's not the way it has to happen at all. If the family has a plan for it and can talk about it openly, there can be a very smooth transition through the dementia journey. And there are a lot of different types of dementia. You have Alzheimer's and other age related dementias as well. Sometimes, that can be caused by medications.

Liz Craven: So having an open conversation about those things is really important. And also if you're an adult child, if your parent will allow you to, it's a really good idea to go to a doctor's appointment with them. Just be there as the ears in the room. Sit to the side, sit to the corner. You don't need to interact, but take notes and listen to what's happening there. Listen to the interactions. And if mom or dad has forgotten something, then you can pipe in and say, "Don't forget to ask about this. You wanted to ask about this." Always have them jot down their questions they might have for their doctor from the time they have an appointment till the time the next one comes, keep a list. And then when you go back to the doctor, everything that you need to talk about is right there. So those are some small things that you can do while you're still fairly hands-off.

Liz Craven: There will maybe come a time that you need to be more hands-on. And that's again, where that pre planning comes into play. If you know what to expect and know that if mom and dad need hands-on care, how is that going to happen? What kind of caregiver am I going to be? Am I going to hire out services? Am I going to do it myself? Will one of us take a leave of absence from work and stay home? Or will we have a daycare situation that we take advantage of? There are so many ways to approach it. And knowing what's available in the first place is super, super important. And that's probably the hardest part is finding out what's available in your own area, because most people don't know where to look. But it really isn't that hard when you get started.

Alice Agnello: So the biggest thing I took away there is especially with doctors disappointments, just be quiet. Because as soon you start taking over the conversation or piping in and stuff like that, I would guess that my parent is just going to feel threatened all kinds of ways in that situation. So great piece of advice there is just to be as quiet as possible and take notes so that you have the information that you might need later.

Alice Agnello: And I know that from your personal experience, that you did become your mom's caregiver. And you had said that she had had cancer. So I was curious to know how you made that decision to decide to be her caregiver instead of getting someone else in, or what did you want to do?

Liz Craven: You know for me, caregiving goes way, way back. And I remember the first caregiving experience that I can remember was when my ... let's see, I was probably about four years old maybe. And my grandmother moved into our home. So it was my mom and my dad, my two siblings, and my grandmother, and myself.

Liz Craven: And soon after she moved in, my grandfather ... let's see. No, sorry. Let me back that up. It was my grandmother's father and grandfather. So all of those generations living under one roof. I mean crazy, right? That was just amazing to me. That was normal. Family took care of one another.

Liz Craven: So fast forward. We moved to Florida after my parents' divorced, and my grandmother is living with us in Florida. It was a natural progression that she stayed with my mom. My mom cared for her in her home until she died. So for me, it was what families did. My husband's family the same way. Although my husband's grandmother had Alzheimer's, and she was in a group home locally, very close to her daughter's house. That was a great scenario for them. That's what worked for them.

Liz Craven: But to see caregiving in the family unit was a very natural and normal thing for me. So when it came to my mother, there was not even a second thought. Now she lived two and a half hours away from me. She wanted to stay in her home. So in the early days of her cancer, between treatments, she would go home and stay in her home. I had a sibling that lived around the corner from her, who was able to check on her. But whenever there was medical treatments, medical doctors, she had a bedroom at my house and would come stay with me.

Liz Craven: Of course, as we got down the road, she was with me more than she wasn't. She would take a few days over at her house just so she could be with her dogs and whatnot. But it was just a very natural thing. That's for me what family did.

Liz Craven: If a family chooses not to do the hands on personal care of themselves, there is absolutely no shame in that whatsoever. You must choose what's best for your family. And sometimes based on the relationships in the family, sometimes it's better to have somebody who's not a family member providing the care if you're able to do that. That's the beauty of the pre-planning.

Liz Craven: My father-in-law's a great example of that. He lived in assisted living. Remember he had Alzheimer's. So in the early stages, when he was able to be fairly independent, he lived in assisted living. He lived there for two years.

Liz Craven: When he got to the point that he would have to be transferred to a memory care unit, as a family, we decided that's not what we wanted for him. Because he was still very lucid a lot of the time. And we felt that that might be a scary place for him, because who wants to envision themselves like that?

Liz Craven: So we ended up moving him home with us. But because he had planned ahead, we were able to hire caregivers who came in seven days a week from, I don't know, they were here from about 10 to 6, I think. And they did all of the toileting and the bathing. And my husband did a lot of that too. But these people were there to take care of all of the needs. They did the laundry, and they cleaned, and they cooked the meals. So we were able to maintain our business. We were able to spend amazing time with him, and totally love on him without the stress of having to do all of the hands on caregiving. We did some of the hands on caregiving. But having those people to help us was a godsend. And I can't imagine having done that any other way with the amount of help that somebody who has late stage Alzheimer's needs. It's pretty intense.

Alice Agnello: Because I think what you said. There's a lot of guilt. That shame, guilt. "I could've done better. I should have done better." Whether it's making the decision to 100%, be there and then changing your mind because you realize and see how much work it is and how you can function yourself because it's too much for you. Along with taking on the responsibility and then thinking, "No, I need someone else to be there." But I'm sure there's a lot of guilt and just all kinds of feeling like I'm not doing enough or enough right.

Liz Craven: Absolutely. There's a lot of guilt and there's a lot of fear, on both sides. So you have the parent who fears what's happening to them. "Oh my gosh, I'm not in control anymore. I used to be able to do these things. Now I can't. I'm afraid." Perhaps there's a fear of death, right? So you have all of these things swirling around. Maybe they don't feel good anymore and there's pain. So that's going to do something to their personality. They're not going to be the bubbly person that you remember. Right? So they change.

Liz Craven: And then on your side, you're looking at this person who you've always looked at as your authority figure. The person who taught you to be who you are. The person who took care of you and who brought you chicken soup when you were sick. And all of a sudden, that role reversal is in front of you. And how do I cope with that role reversal. Some handle it extremely well. Some not so well.

Liz Craven: So I think it's just important to know who you are, know what you can handle, and then find the help that you need to be successful. And it doesn't matter what that looks like. Whatever is right for your particular family, that's what's right. And you shouldn't have to feel guilty about having extra help come in. And you shouldn't feel like you have to have extra help come in if you don't want it. I think that whatever fits for you is the right scenario.

Alice Agnello: And I like that because I feel like I need to have a conversation with myself first. Before I go blazing in there, have a conversation with myself to say an ideal situation. Let's be realistic about my situation. Maybe I still have kids at home or I do work a full-time job. What realistically can I handle myself, and then present the ideas that you might need to do with other siblings or with the parent, just to kind of then go from there.

Alice Agnello: And then you were talking about resources. So I wanted to jump back to that, because I didn't want to forget about that. So if I was an out-of-state and my parent was in another state, where should I go? Or is there something that I should be looking when I look online? Where's a good jumping off point?

Liz Craven: The very first thing that I would do. Well, first thing probably would be consult with your doctor. There might be some super local things that you could take advantage of that your doctor would recommend that would help to keep the consistency of care there.

Alice Agnello: And here's my question with that. Because sometimes doctors, it's tough to get information. Do you know what I mean? And you might be in charge of a lot of different things. But could you call the office, just say, "I am the daughter of so and so. I know you can't give me any information. But what are some resources that I could look into locally that you like?" And then kind of start from there.

Liz Craven: Yes, that's one route to take. And it depends on the doctor. Some doctors are so, so good at keeping resources for their patients. Some are not good at all, and you're going to get nothing. So always, I would say your professionals would be the first place to start, but probably not where you're going to get the bulk of your information. But I think that that communication piece is so important so that they know there's a family member involved. It does a lot more. It accomplishes a lot more than just getting you the resources. It kind of opens that avenue of communication. And as a sideline here, ask your parents to fill out the HIPAA form to allow you to speak to their doctors. And that's a completely different conversation. But just kind of putting a bug in your ear about that.

Liz Craven: But back to resources, every single community in the United States has an area agency on aging. So they are an organization. Their purpose is to connect you to those types of resources that you're looking for as you age. They are amazing. Not only do they help connect you to resources. But if you are eligible for social services of any kind, they will assist you in signing up for those. They will assist you in choosing the Medicare plan that is right for you. That's through a program called SHIP. There is so much that they do. Every area agency on aging has some slightly different programming, but the core of it is all the same. And every single community has one. So that's a really great place to start.

Liz Craven: Also, if you have an organization like Meals on Wheels or any senior related organization, you can call those places and say, "Hey, I'm interested to know who are the other community partners that you collaborate with?" Because they can then start to lead you to the other really local organizations. For example, here we have an organization in Tampa called Saving Our Seniors. That's just a lady who was a caregiver who decided that she wanted to make a difference. And she helps to find things like wheelchairs and walkers. And people have this used equipment they're not using. And she makes sure that people who need it get it. And it's a really cool program, but that is so hyperlocal. And it's not in all of the bigger, organized directories that are out there. So connecting with local organizations. And if you start at the area agency on aging, you will get led to some things local to your city or your county.

Alice Agnello: I think that's amazing because I just learned a whole bunch information that I had no idea about. Because just the thought of trying to figure something out and not knowing where to go first, just that in itself is overwhelming. But once I know I get started, at least if I've got something to jump off from. And then start making the phone calls and emails, I would imagine that you would see the same names coming up. And also the same glowing references for those same places.

Alice Agnello: So it's almost like even though you feel like you live four to eight hours away, you still have a little bit of empowerment when you get started that you will be able to figure it out. And hopefully you don't have to do it all in one day because they don't need services right away. But just the knowledge that there are a way to get started and not feel so overwhelmed at the same time.

Liz Craven: Absolutely. And you said something really important. If there is a crisis situation, if there is an emergency and you're worried about your parent, and you live multiple hours away. Please call the local police department and ask for a well-check. A lot of people aren't aware that that's available. But any police department will do a well-check. And basically, they're just going to go knock on the door. They're going to make sure that mom and dad are okay. They're going to assess the situation. And if there is something that needs to happen right away, they'll make sure that it happens. They will bring a social worker in, they will make sure that your parents are safe and secure.

Liz Craven: So don't ever hesitate to make that kind of phone call. There are departments and staff just for that in most communities. So that is a really important point that I'm glad you brought up.

Alice Agnello: Yeah. And again, because all of a sudden you're in a situation and now you have no idea what to do. I would imagine trying to get neighbors' numbers, phone numbers for people who are around. Especially if your parents still living in their house, just to have a little bit more contact. Or even some of their friends phone-

Liz Craven: The church.

Alice Agnello: The church. And it's got to be I know again, it's a hard conversation to have. But if there's any, because my way of thinking is if I had a very stubborn and independent parent, I might try and get that information without their knowledge. Because they wouldn't want to give it to me. And I'm not trying to insult them, but I know that their independence would be a hindrance of trying to get that information. Just to get the next door neighbor, if anything. Because I love the idea of a well-check, you know what I mean? Just as another line, another resource that you can. Then go to just in case again, it's emergency situation, you can't get ahold of your parent for a whole entire day. Which is not normal in that situation. It's just another resource to have access to.

Liz Craven: And there are a lot of agencies. The home care agencies, many of them have programs to do well checks then where they'll just go each day and say hello. And we did an episode on that, on my podcast. And my guest was telling me how they had this client who was just so, so resistant to any kind of help. But her kids were really worried and they were several states away. So there was no way they could check on her every day.

Liz Craven: So they contracted with the home care agency to go over once a day. They would knock on the door, the lady would answer the door. She would never let them come in, but she would say, "I'm fine." And they'd say, "Can we take the garbage out at least for you?" And she'd hand them the garbage bag. And that was it.

Alice Agnello: But just that little bit of peace of mind for those children was just enough. Yes it annoyed I'm sure their mother to no end. But just that peace of mind so you don't feel like you're freaking out every single day when you can't contact her.

Liz Craven: Absolutely. So that was their peace of mind. And then if there was anything that the agency noticed when they sent someone over there, they were able to inform the kids, "Hey, you might want to talk to mom about this. Or you might want to address that." And that was a really great segue into more care. I don't know what happened later in the story. I should have asked him because I'd love to know.

Alice Agnello: So Liz, is there anything that I didn't touch on that you wanted to make sure my audience knew?

Liz Craven: The biggest takeaway should be have the conversations. Don't be afraid of the conversations. Even if the parents are not willing to talk about it, talk about it with the rest of the family. Be on the same page, be ready. We can't control aging. It just happens. That's just a part of life. So better to be prepared, and be open to it, and embrace it, and enjoy and cherish every moment than to be stuck in a crisis where you just don't know what to do.

Alice Agnello: No, I think that's great advice. Thank you. So like I ask all of my guests at the end of each interview. So tell me something that not a lot of people know about you.

Liz Craven: Most people don't know that my very favorite animal in the world is an elephant. And I have no idea why. I think they are the most beautiful, gentle creatures. And the very top of my bucket list is to go somewhere where I can interact with elephants and spend some time. I think I would just cry. So that's my little geek thing that nobody knows about me.

Alice Agnello: I like that. Name three things that you can't live without, other than your family and your friends.

Liz Craven: Okay. The very first thing would have to be chocolate. Can't live without chocolate. Even just a little bite. I have a little bit every day. I can't live without exercise. I don't know, that puts me in the right head space every day. And it's my feel good me time. So I absolutely can't do without that. And number three. My dogs, I think I'll always have a dog.

Alice Agnello: If you could choose one song to play every time you entered a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Liz Craven: I think this answer would have been different a long time ago. But over the last few years, I feel like I've walked through an awful lot of personal challenges. All the caregiving for parents. And we find ourselves in situations all the time as we age, and now as a country. And as a world, we're walking through this pandemic and just everything coming at us. So I think now, my song would be "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." Bring it on baby. I can handle it. I got this.

Alice Agnello: That's Pat Benatar. Isn't it?

Liz Craven: Yes. Yes.

Alice Agnello: Yes, yes. I have a special place in my heart for Pat Benatar because we lip synced to one of her songs when I was in I think the second grade or third grade, or something like that. So I just remember I was keyboards and it was the most fun that we ever had.

Liz Craven: I love it. Oh man. Yeah, I loved Pat Benatar when I was younger too. She's a classic.

Alice Agnello: Absolutely agree. Thank you so much Liz, for being on the podcast today. I hope all our listeners have learned a lot. I sure have learned a lot of new information. So I appreciate you for doing that for me.

Liz Craven: Thank you for having me. And if I can help in any way, reach out. If you need some information to share, I'm happy to help guide people there. That's what I do.

Alice Agnello: Exactly. Thank you, Liz.

Liz Craven: Thank you.

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Alice Agnello, Lifestyle and Success Coach

I'm Alice Agnello.

I’m a California raised, incurable romantic who was too snarky for the corporate world. I love show tunes, chai tea, and all things British. My mission? To help women rediscover who they are, after their kids have grown.

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→ Understand that taking care of yourself is the most important person in your life and to release the guilt.

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