FIND OUT EXACTLY HOW YOU ARE DOING AS A DEMENTIA CAREGIVER

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This episode features a captivating interview with Christy Yates (https://www.christyyates.com/), the author of Building a Legacy of Love: Thriving in the Sandwich Generation.

We discuss the intricacies of the sandwich generation and the importance of building a legacy of love while navigating caregiving responsibilities for both children and aging parents.

Christy shared her personal experiences of juggling a full-time job, raising kids, and caring for her aging parents, emphasizing the significance of proactive planning in caregiving.

The conversation transitioned to early signs of becoming a caregiver, drawing parallels between parenting and caregiving roles in fostering independence and providing support.

Building A Legacy Of Love: Thriving In The Sandwich Generation

2:01 Understanding the Sandwich Generation
3:28 Delving into Christy Byrne-Yates' Personal Experience
6:28 Impact of Dementia on Caregiving Responsibilities
20:32 Challenges of Executive Functioning in Caregiving
24:10 Explaining the Concept of Executive Functioning
26:34 Time Management Challenges in Caregiving
27:41 Navigating Family Dynamics in Caregiving
32:47 Siblings' Different Memories
36:48 Self-Inventory Exploration
41:47 Legacy of Chaos vs. Love
43:58 Framework for Caregiving Success
54:39 Inventory as GPS Coordinates
54:56 Working with Christy Yates
57:16 Taking Charge of Support

Embracing the Role with Faith

Caring for a loved one with dementia tests not only our patience and resilience but also our spiritual strength. It's a path that can feel lonely and overwhelming. However, integrating your faith into caregiving can provide a profound source of comfort and purpose.

Recognizing that this difficult task is part of a divine plan can transform the caregiving experience from one of burden to one of spiritual fulfillment and love.

The Power of Proactive Planning

Many caregivers are caught off-guard by the demands of dementia care. Proactive planning is crucial. This involves setting up legal and financial arrangements like trusts and end-of-life wishes long before they’re needed.

Such preparations not only ease the practical aspects of caregiving but also provide peace of mind that you’re respecting your loved one’s wishes, thereby continuing their legacy with love and dignity.

Understanding the Sandwich Generation

If you find yourself caring for aging parents while still supporting your own children, you’re part of the 'sandwich generation.' This role can be incredibly challenging, squeezing you between significant responsibilities.

It’s essential to acknowledge this pressure and seek support, ensuring that you don’t have to navigate this journey alone.

The Unseen Aspects of Dementia Care

Dealing with dementia involves more than addressing memory loss. It includes managing medications, understanding legal documents, and sometimes making tough decisions about assisted living options.

Each step requires deep understanding and sensitivity, especially as you navigate the changes in your loved one's abilities and needs.

Building a Support Network

You don’t have to do this alone. Whether it’s through community groups, church, or online forums, connecting with others in similar situations can offer invaluable support and advice.

Furthermore, engaging with professionals like dementia coaches or joining workshops can provide you with the skills and knowledge to handle day-to-day challenges more effectively.

Legacy of Love

Ultimately, your caregiving journey is about more than just managing a medical condition; it’s about honoring your loved one’s life and ensuring their dignity.

By incorporating your faith and the values you cherish, you can provide care that respects their legacy while enriching your spiritual life.Navigating the path of dementia caregiving is undoubtedly tough, but with faith, careful planning, and community support, it can also be a journey of love and spiritual growth.

Get Christy Yate's book Building a Legacy of Love: Thriving in the Sandwich Generation
https://amzn.to/3wvqG58

Read More:

Talking About Caregiver Burnout With Michelle Gordon

Check the other podcast: https://www.thinkdifferentdementia.com/category/podcast/

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a close-up of a person's hands Building A Legacy Of Love

Introduction to the Interview with Christy Byrne Yates

[0:00] Have you ever met somebody where when you start talking, you notice how much you have in common and how similarly you see the world and situations around you?

[0:16] Today's interview with Christy Byrne Yates was one of those interviews that I had that I'm like, oh my word, I am so excited to meet Christy. We talked about building a legacy of love and thriving in the sandwich generation. If you don't know what a sandwich in the sandwich generation is, today's episode is definitely for you.

[0:46] I am very excited because we touched on so many different topics throughout this conversation And I invite you to listen to today's episode. And if you like these episodes, please subscribe and share this episode with someone that you know that is perhaps in the sandwich generation or is a family caregiver of somebody living with dementia. And give me a written review on Apple Podcasts. I love reading these reviews. It really does make my day because I put a lot of effort into these episodes and I want to serve you and serve you well. And it will help me know what I need to do better or where you are gaining benefit. And so we can tailor these episodes more to what you need.

[1:46] So listen to episode 117, Building a Legacy of Love, Thriving in the Sandwich Generation by Christy Byrne Yates.

Understanding the Sandwich Generation

[2:02] Have you recently found out someone you love has dementia? Struggling to wrap your head around how to be a Christian caregiver? Searching for answers by joining countless Facebook groups, but find them toxic? Learning how to cope with dementia feels difficult, but learning a Christian caregiving worldview can be easy. Hey, brother and sister in Christ, I'm Lizette, occupational therapist, pastor's wife, turned dementia coach, and a daughter of dementia. In this podcast, you will learn the truth that the way to make dementia care easy is your faith. Knowing that a loving God has decreed this hard providence in your life makes all the difference. Here you will gain skills. You will be challenged by what God says in his word about caregiving, and you will learn exactly what dementia is and is not. Find clarity and certainty from God's word so you have perseverance for this journey. Use science-backed solutions and biblical principles to redeem your time. Praying this blesses you as we dive into dementia from a Christian perspective. Let's glorify God despite dementia.

Delving into Christy Byrne-Yates' Personal Experience

[3:28] Well, I am super excited about today's interview with Christy Byrne-Yates. She is a wonderful person who has written a very interesting book that I'm going to have to read because I'm absolutely kind of in this population. And it is called Building a Legacy of Love, of thriving in the sandwich generation. So I want you to welcome our guest today, Christy Byrne Yates, who is doing me a solid favor because she lives in California, and this is the butt creek of dawn in her neck of the woods, and I would not be getting up at 6 a.m. To have this conversation with me. So Christy, welcome here today. Oh, thank you, Lisette. I am delighted to be here. So thank you for asking.

[4:24] You are welcome. So the first question, now I know what this is because I'm kind of in this mix myself, but a lot of people may not actually know what is, is what is it to be in the sandwich generation? When we talk about being a sandwich generation, what does that mean? Yeah, great. It's a great question. It's always a good lead in. You know, the sandwich generation really means you're the person who's perhaps stuck between two generations or two great needs, right? So-

[5:01] It really was a term, I did not coin it. It came from a social worker in New York in the early 1980s who was seeing a lot of women in her practice showing up saying, I've got these kids, there's a lot there, and now I'm taking care of my parents all of a sudden, and I feel like I'm really squished between everybody. And she started to call it the sandwich generation. So it really fits your, and it can be, you know, classically it's kids and parents or kids and elders of some kind. But really you can describe this in many ways. There are people who are grandparents themselves who are taking care of grandchildren and maybe adult children and maybe a spouse or maybe even their parent or something. thing. It could be you're an entrepreneur or you're starting a business and suddenly you're, and that's a lot, right? Like that. I had a client who had a full caseload as a therapist and then was caring for a mother. And she's like, I feel sandwiched. I'm like, yeah, sounds sandwiched to me. So, you know, you can describe your sandwich anyway. People get a little possessive about their sandwich. You know, I'm an open face sandwich. I have, you know, no kids, but I have all these other things. Whatever you feel squeezed between, if you're feeling squeezed.

[6:19] You're in a sandwich in my opinion. So I'm pretty broadly interpreting that, but classically it's kids and parents.

Impact of Dementia on Caregiving Responsibilities

[6:26] But we have a lot of, you know, people are living a lot longer. So we do have people taking care of, you know, great grandparents or grandparents and a lot of parents are taking taking care of grandchildren. So there's lots going on out there.

[6:43] Absolutely. Now tell me your experience as a sandwich. Yeah. So I was working full-time as a school psychologist, raising two kids with my husband. We were having, you know, things were really great and I'm so blessed that they were. And my parents lived about five minutes up the road and they were very involved with us. We, I mean, they were my free babysitters when my kids were little. They did lots of fun things with us. We involved them all the time. And then we started to notice probably around.

[7:15] In 2001, no, no, no, probably around 2010 or so, really noticing we had to do a lot more for them, right? They were forgetting certain things. My dad had had a stroke back when he was 60, and he was probably in his mid-70s at this point. So we started to do a lot of little caretaking for them. And then by the time it was about 2013 or so, they really needed us a lot. And we actually had to move them into assisted living. And I will tell you, that was their choice. The reason I called my book Building a Legacy of Love was my parents had made a lot of difficult decisions long before they needed to, and they put a lot of things in place. And that was a wake-up call to my husband and I when we started caring for them because my parents had formed a trust, put all their assets in a trust. They were depression era babies. They'd saved their money very well. Not like me in the baby boomer generation where it was like, hey, let's go have fun. But they took care of their money. They had a trust and they had end of life wishes detailed.

[8:26] They knew what they wanted. They knew how they wanted to end their... At the end of their lives, what they wanted to have happen. And it was all written down. And so I just had to follow the blueprint. So they had purchased a long-term healthcare plan that only provided for nursing care or assisted living. So that's what we did is we, when the time came, they did move to assisted living. They weren't kicking and screaming. They knew this was what they had chosen. I think they weren't sure they were ready when I thought that they were ready, but I enlisted the help of an area geriatric case manager who did an assessment. And that made it very easy for me to be able to say, look, mom, dad, it's not just me, but here we go.

[9:10] And so I feel like they gave me the legacy of love because I just knew what they needed and I just had to show up with love and follow the plan. And so now my husband and I, you know, we have all that in place for our kids. The thing for me was both my parents ended up with some form of dementia. My dad, as I said, had a stroke, which led to vascular dementia for him in his later life. And that's what eventually took his life. And then my mother had Alzheimer's. And she was really in the earlier stages of Alzheimer's when she died from a reoccurrence of cancer. She had had breast cancer at 60. And she had some reoccurrence there. And that's what took her life. But, you know, there was also that living with people or caring for people who had dementia. So I, I started to think about these are conversations people aren't having. And when I went back to work after a very brief, too brief time off, people were coming out of the woodwork saying, Christy, what do I do about this? What do I do about that? And I thought, wow, you know, we really, these are conversations we need to have. So I took some time and spent quite a few years doing some research and then wrote my book. So I am very excited to announce this next part of our journey together.

[10:39] Once a month on a Thursday evening, I'm going to do a segment called Ask the Dementia Coach, where you can actually come into a coaching session with me and other people if they register for the same time, so you can feel what it feels like to actually have dementia coaching. The reason I'm doing this is because I know so many of you guys are struggling on your own and may feel like you're at the end of your rope. And in order to help serve you better, I wanted to open up this opportunity once a month for you to register for a free Ask the Dementia Coach segment. Like I said, it will be Thursday evenings, once a month, six o'clock Eastern time in the evening. And the segment is called Ask the Dementia Coach. So if you're interested in signing up for that, the link will be in the show notes below. And I look forward to seeing you on one of these special sessions.

[11:56] That's right what a beautiful testimony that you're uh first of all you know the story the testimony of your story is phenomenal but what a what a gift your parents gave you in actually.

[12:10] Planning for this and and thinking it through because you were right too many people come into this kicking and screaming right bottom line is i joke about this all the time none of us are going going to make it out of here alive. And we may as well, you know, acknowledge the fact that if you were blessed, you were going to get older. And as you get older, things are going to change. And as things change, why not set both yourself up for success as well as the people that you are helping? But I want to circle back to something you said right at the beginning. And this is something that I'm noticing more and more is when we first start down this journey of being a caregiver, frequently people do not even recognize that they are a caregiver. You know, you mentioned right at the beginning, you know, you just started doing a little bit more, a little bit more. And so what were some of those early things that you started to do more of that maybe now looking back, it's like, oh yeah, Houston, I'm becoming a caregiver, but I didn't even recognize that I was becoming a caregiver. Right, exactly.

[13:29] That is so true, is that people oftentimes don't realize all that they're doing. And so when we say, when we spout statistics, you know, 57, 47% of the population, it's very underreported because people don't recognize the things they're doing. But for me, me, it was things like they had a hard time with their cable TV and VC. At this time, we were still using DVD players and whatever, right? And they couldn't remember how to do them. That became difficult. And then there were things like they lived in a senior area, over 55 community, and I knew their neighbors. And one day, one of their neighbors popped over and said, you know, they're forgetting to put their garbage cans out. I'm like, Oh, shoot. Okay, thanks. You know, and then I would call them. So I had to do little reminders and things like that. And what really so it was, it was that kind of thing, little care, little thing, not even I wasn't even going over there and preparing meals or doing anything like that. It was just.

[14:37] I had to really walk them through different things over and over again. And this was because of both of them having, you know, they were waltzing into their dementia states, right? And then the real thing that I think pushed it over to, well, we really need more care is my dad was taking a lot of different kinds of medication. He was on Coumadin, blood thinner. He was on some other medication for some kidney issues and things like that.

[15:07] And my mother was helping him with his meds. And all I heard from my dad was, she's messing up my meds every day. I'm like, oh no. So I even put a little note on the medication thing, don't touch this until you call Christy. But she was, she was messing it up. And the nurse that came over with the geriatric case manager said that's what scared her the most was this is what she sees is the spouse who may have some memory issues is not able to manage that and when you're messing with medication like that especially something like a blood thinner we have problems so yeah for sure absolutely so it's really interesting because I think that you know when we when we become a parent you know because a lot of people in the sandwich generation are parents right so you're you're the squishy stuff between trying to raise your own kids even if your kids are adult right so I have adult kids but I would see myself as a sandwich because I still want to be part of my children's life as well as now helping my parents but you know when we when we're a parent we we know that even though we don't use the word caregiver attached to the word parent because we are a parent.

[16:31] A parent is a caregiver and we do these little things, you know, as we're working ourselves out of a job, right? Our job as a parent is to work ourself out of a job. We work with all of the total care baby, taking care of, feeding, running household, working, bringing money in, taking the car, you know, to have the oil changed, all of those things. But as our children are growing, our job slowly over time becomes working ourself out of a job. If you successfully raise an adult, you got to raise an adult, right? The reality of the matter is we don't recognize all these little things that we're doing for our kids as caregiving tasks, driving them to sports, sports or helping them, you know, write out an application to go to college or paying the bills for them or, you know, when they're little or even though children are a lot, the technology is set up for it to be very intuitive and kids take to it because they're developing, I think, you know, but setting up a cell phone when you first get your cell phone and all these little little things, or helping a kid with a remote control, right?

[17:53] When we're going through it with a, specifically with a dementia journey, all of those things that we're, we're going backwards through the journey. So the stuff that we start with, that we see right at the beginning are the things like mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, fixing the remote control. In mine with my dad is Hulu like he can't figure friggin out Hulu and you know when something goes wrong with the tech like that's all she wrote it's like is that.

[18:31] I can't, like mom's Facebook, okay, so a couple of weeks ago, Facebook went down.

[18:38] And I knew it just because of working in my business that Facebook was down. And I get this panicked call because my mom spends hours, like Facebook is always open. I mean, she plays games on Facebook and things like that. And my dad's like freaking out because he can't figure out what's going on and changes all the passwords and does all this other stuff. I'm like, dad, stop. But those are the kinds of things that we don't necessarily recognize. If you're calling your folks to check up on them. You're caregiving. Absolutely. If you are popping in to make sure they're okay. You're a caregiver. Yeah. Even though you're not doing anything. And if somebody else is calling you to say, hey, wanted you to know this happened with your mom, you know, are you the one that they call when your family, your mother shows up at the emergency room, right? I mean, are you the person? So yeah, we're doing all that. And you bring up a really good point. Something I talk a lot about is the intersection between parenting and caregiving, And I agree with you. I think parenting is a great deal of caregiving. It's a specific kind of caregiving. Because if you think about it, what you're describing with our kids is we're taking them from completely dependent little babies.

[20:03] To independent adults, right? So we're teaching them to be, and so we're slowly and sometimes really rapidly giving them lots of independence, right? And we're, they're growing in independence as we're then with our parents, watching them lose their independence. So we've got two developmental things going on. We've got kids gaining skills and gaining independence.

Challenges of Executive Functioning in Caregiving

[20:32] And And the thing that really can interrupt someone's end of life trajectory are things like disease. I mean, these can interrupt anybody's trajectory of their life, but disease, falls, falls are really big for older folks. And then the disease process includes, of course, dementia. Not everyone will get dementia, but quite a lot of us will because we're living a lot longer. And so there's lots of reasons. And that's something I look at too, is what kind of lifestyle we have and how we're living. But yeah, the tasks that we're doing as the person in the middle, and for many years with our kids, we are their executive function, right? We are the ones who are helping them to think through some things because their prefrontal cortex is not fully formed. And so they don't have all of those skills yet. We sometimes expect them to have those long before they really should, but really the brain and that prefrontal cortex where all of the executive functioning, motivation, organization, planning, all of that, that's really time management yes that's all and emotional regulation and emotional regulation and all of that really doesn't completely.

[21:54] Show up until close to 30. I mean, 25 to 27 is typical, but I mean, you know, it's within a range. And I mean, we can't, we can't say everybody is this way. Everybody's different, but that's the point is we're then seeing our parents lose some physical abilities at times, and then even some of their executive functioning. And so we're, we're the one in the middle watching them go in two different directions. I always say you're kind of, you're, you're handing car keys over to your teenager while you're trying to take them away from your parent. And it's a real, it's mind boggling. But I think it's really important to acknowledge that this is what's going on. When you can just step back and take a look at this and say, this is why I'm feeling crazy. This is why I'm feeling mixed up. Then you can start to shape some strategies around it. Acknowledge this is where you are because then you can be in it, be present to it, and then start to take care of yourself in the way you need to. And there are ways that you can do that. I really say build your team. Life is a team sport, so find people that you can lean into.

[23:10] And then find opportunities for grace with your parents, with your kids, and with siblings sometimes. You may be an only child, but you may have siblings. And so you need to think about, instead of looking at it as, oh, here they, you know, we relive our old childhood, right? We come back and we're like, well, that one, that my sister always does this, or my brother always does this. You know what? They're adults now too. And so you sometimes have to learn to forgive and then take a look at where they're at and what they can do. And there's lots of different dynamics there. And then my other piece is really talking about how do you have these difficult conversations with kids, with parents, with everyone. So really important.

[23:56] Well, I thank you so much for bringing up executive function. And I thank you so much for explaining it to people because my follow-up question

Explaining the Concept of Executive Functioning

[24:05] was going to be tell people what people who don't know what executive functioning is. And it's one of my favorite things to to talk to people about specifically earlier on in the dementia process because just you know I do a lot of presentations on dementia and if I'm doing it to younger people I'll usually ask the room how many of you are under 25 or you know and then you know you'll get one or two people stick their hand up and I'll say I'm sorry you're not fully developed, yeah, you know, related to executive functioning, and then working with families and explaining to families some of why we're seeing what we're seeing related to the executive function. One of...

[24:50] The things I noticed the most with people when they're first starting out down this journey is the whole time thing, like losing the concept of time and not being able to judge how long it's going to take to do things and how that impacts their life. And we don't think about just knowing how long a task is going to take as being impactful to our life. And then the whole whole emotional regulation piece right so when you have the teenager who is going through hormonal changes and cannot control their emotions yeah you have the parent who is now going through the same thing and cannot control their emotions exactly how do you you know manage that without losing your own you know health and well-being you know yeah it's a juggle it is is definitely Definitely a juggle. And speaking of the time thing, one of the things I had to start paying attention to was I was rushing my parents at times. I took them to all their doctor's appointments, but I would leave work to go over or I'd go in late to work or something. I'd make arrangements and I'm like, come on, let's go. We got to go. We got to go. Well, they couldn't move that fast anymore. And they couldn't do those. They weren't on my timeline.

[26:18] And that was what I had to pay attention to. Oh, I'm asking them to do something they can't do yet, or not yet. With my kids, it would have been yet. When you think about it, when you're trying to get your toddler out of the house,

Time Management Challenges in Caregiving

[26:32] it takes you twice as long as you think it's going to. And then the same thing happens when you've got an older parent who may have physical issues. My dad really had a hard time walking at it. He had pretty severe plantar fasciitis, things like this. All of this goes into, you know, I had to stop and say, oh, okay, this is where they are. All right. I have to stop and look at this. They're not just trying to be a pain in my butt. They're really just not there. So let's figure this out. And, and doing that with, you know, for me, it was, I really had a great relationship with my parents. And I know that there are a lot of people out there caring for someone who maybe they have a fractured relationship with. And so it is very important to kind of look at.

[27:19] Yes, your parent may have been somebody that you had a hard relationship with, and now are they trying to give you a hard time or are they having a hard time? They're having a hard time. And shifting that thought takes the blame away and makes it easier sometimes to be able to go back and try again. So it's really important.

Navigating Family Dynamics in Caregiving

[27:41] Yeah, for sure. So, you know, yesterday in my coaching group that I do every week, I was talking to one of my clients who is having these sibling dramas, right? I am extremely blessed. I have a sister. And it's actually quite ironic because my parents were diplomats. And so we were in boarding school. we were put in boarding school at a very young age, 10 and 12. And for decades, decades, my sister and I did not have a good relationship.

[28:21] Because whenever we would go, you know, we were in boarding school, and then we'd go home, and we'd be around my mom and dad, and we were craving attention.

[28:29] At least this is my perception, my sister might have a different one. But we were both craving the attention of my parents. And that resulted in us being very competitive. Yeah. Yeah. Get the attention off of parents that we felt like we weren't getting attention from. And so my sister and I had a very, very difficult relationship until about maybe 10 years ago. So I'll be 54 this year. So around 45 ish, my sister and I kind of worked out our nonsense. Right. And now we are, or I wouldn't say we're super close, but we're not adversaries at all. And we definitely have more in common than what we do not have in common. And I'm just extremely grateful in my journey with my parents that I have a very supportive sister. And something like this, because I live boots on the ground and she lives in New Hampshire. So she's the fly in, help be the kid, fly out. But when things occur or when things are starting to change and I call her and I say, hey, this is what's going on. This is what I think we need to do. She's like, you're boots on the ground. I will just support you in whatever. And even with like, we had to take the car away.

[29:56] She was she it's kind of like that whole thing you know when you're two parents and you've got a kid trying to divide and conquer.

[30:05] Um she backed me 100 percent and did not do the divide and conquer and give them that you know that opportunity to pit one another against each other so but back to the coaching call last night one of the things that I I try to highlight to siblings specifically siblings is even though your siblings doing it in a different way.

[30:31] They do have your parents' best interest at heart. They're just expressing it in a different way than you are, or they are at a vastly different part of their journey and may not yet even recognize what is truly occurring. I find that very often, you know, one child may have a better idea of truly what's going on with of the parental units than one of the other kids. And that can cause a lot of trauma. And I think you bring up so many great points. One of the things I did with my siblings, and I had a good relationship with both my siblings, still do, but I had pretty frank conversations with them about not just what I needed from them, but what I didn't want. Right. Like I, I said, I would say this is what support would look like for me. I had to, I just wanted to be, I love that sentence. Yeah. This is what support would look like for me. This is how it would feel for me. I need to be able to call you and talk things through at times.

[31:42] But what I don't want is to get a phone call and you telling me how I did everything wrong because I'm the one here doing it. And I need you to trust that I'm, you know, if you don't right now, trust me, let me know and we'll talk through that, you know, but we've talked about things, we're on the same page. Please don't backseat drive. I'm not going to respond well to that. But I, you know, I want to be able to call you when I need to talk things through. So they were like, whatever you need, we're grateful that you're there. They were several states away. So it was a day of travel to get here. It wasn't like a quick trip here and I'm just driving across town. It was a big endeavor for them to get here. So really being specific. So thinking too, then that goes back to you. What do you need for support? What does that look like for you? And then that can then help you be able to ask for the help that you need very

Siblings' Different Memories

[32:44] specifically, very clearly with other people. It takes some time to think about what those things are. The other thing you brought up that's been batting around in my head lately too, is with siblings, you know, you can be raised in the same family, have the same parents and still have very different memories of what life was like. Because we're individual.

[33:09] So when I say, well, this is what it was like. And my sister says, no, it wasn't. I'm not wrong. And she's not wrong. We just experienced it as these separate and unique individuals that we are. So, you know, in this age of, you know, people are denying my reality, it just wasn't their reality. And we do have to be careful not to deny someone else's reality. I can't say to my sister, oops, I can't say to my sister, yeah, that didn't happen. If it happened for her, it happened for her. It might not have happened for me. I really am, because it's been very interesting as my sister and I have healed our fractured relationship.

[33:49] She will tell me things that she experienced. We had the exact same experience. And we experienced that exact same experience entirely differently. Entirely differently. And it's because for whatever reason in that particular situation, one of us had way more of an emotional response, which is why we're remembering it, versus the other one. I remember being 17 years old, my parents moving back from Sweden, boarding school, moving back into the house. For the first two years of living back under the same roof, my dad and I had a very volatile relationship. Relationship and I remember every evening sitting having dinner ending up in an argument bawling my eyes out running from the dining room table to my room because of our dynamic my sister does not remember that at all at all and it doesn't mean that it didn't happen that you know No, she's not acknowledging that.

[35:05] I remember it very clearly, but I had the emotional response.

[35:10] My sister remembers other things that I'm like.

[35:15] I don't remember at all, but I didn't have an emotional response to it. So I'm really glad you bring that up because that is something, you know, our perception is our reality, but it doesn't necessarily mean that your sibling is wrong if they're remembering their relationship with the parent in a different way. Right, right. It's just where they were, you know, I was two years older. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So it's, it is, it's just, it's, it's one of those things we have to just sometimes realize, yeah, we, everywhere we go, it's us. It's just, this is what we carry with us is who we are and we're unique, distinct individuals from everyone else. Even if we're in the same room, same time, all of it, we are experiencing things through the lens of who we are. And yeah, a lot of stuff can interfere with that. A lot of, you know, it's your perception is your reality. Absolutely true. Yeah. So I always tell people, I'm like, it's all about me. And for you, it's all about you. And it's true because it is all about me. You know, what's happening with me, what's happening with you. We definitely are created differently. It doesn't mean that you're you're right and I'm wrong. It just means that we were experiencing it from a different point of view at that particular time.

[36:40] So I kind of hopped on your website earlier and I was looking through one of

Self-Inventory Exploration

[36:47] the things and something caught my eye. And you have on your website a self-inventory. Mm-hmm. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? Because I was very curious about that because I love the evidence-based sign of things. When I stepped into this role as a coach and working with people and not working as an occupational therapist anymore, one of the things that I kept... Working through in my own head is, you know, a lot of people are saying, well, they help somebody decrease their stress or help decrease challenging behaviors or help decrease burnout or whatever. And I'm like, show me the money. I want to understand why, you know, you can't just tell me you're going to decrease my stress. How, how are you going to get it? Do you, you know, so So the self-inventory kind of caught my eye from that perspective.

[37:46] Shortly after, well, actually, before I wrote my book, my parents both died in 2015, seven weeks apart. So it was pretty difficult. And I took some time, as I say, to just kind of decompress. I took a sabbatical from work and I traveled with my husband for a little bit and then went back to work part-time and continued that until 2021. 21. But at that time, even though my parents were both gone, I got online and was doing a lot of research, but I stumbled on a couple of Facebook groups that were for sandwich generation folks. And, you know, I participated in some conversations, but I also started to take notice of what were people talking about? What were their pain points? And so I just started to, too. So I want to be really clear. It is an inventory. It's not an assessment. So it hasn't been scientifically researched. But what I noticed, and I just started to take some data, more qualitative data. I looked at things and what I could see was there were generally two areas where people were, did you know that caring for a person with dementia doesn't have to be this hard. If you are struggling and you would like to join our next free workshop.

[39:08] The topic of the workshop is three tips how to avoid challenging dementia behaviors, without stress, anxiety, or burnout. I invite you to walk away with science-backed dementia caregiving skills that many professionals don't even know after attending this free workshop on Saturday. If you'd like to register, message me the word workshop on Instagram or check out the link in the show notes below.

[39:52] Complaining about or talking about or needing support in, and one was a lack of emotional support. So they didn't feel supported by someone else. They didn't feel supported by siblings usually, or even physical and mental health professionals that they were working with. So service providers. And then the other area was how do I, so this lack of knowledge of how to do something specific. How do I help my mom remember to take her medication? How do I help my mom eat when she doesn't want to eat and I know she hasn't eaten all day. So kind of a lack of knowledge base. So that's what I just kept seeing where there were these two camps. I mean, clearly there were some other things and some people were in both camps, but this is what I saw. And I thought back to my own experience and some of it was the same way. I did feel a lot of support, but I also know I put a lot of responsibility on myself. But always wondering, well, am I doing this right? Am I doing this right? Is this the right thing to do? So my self-inventory really just, it's two pages. I think there are...

[41:04] Five questions on each side. I don't have it in front of me, but some are on how do you feel about your emotional support right now? And then how do you feel about your knowledge about what you need to do for your parents? And so when we look at that, then you plot it on a graph. There are four quadrants and one quadrant is legacy of love. And that's where you have some of your systems in place. You're feeling the support you need. You know where to get your questions answered, right? That's kind of the sweet spot. And what I talk about there is what also are your children learning about caring for others, right?

Legacy of Chaos vs. Love

[41:44] And if they're seeing that, oh, well, mom got this together. Dad got this together. They got these things together. This is where they see this as a legacy of love.

[41:53] Caring for someone is loving them, right? whereas you might start off in the quadrant of legacy of chaos where you have no systems in place you don't have any emotional support you do not ask for help you don't know where to go for help and so and then there's maybe the legacy of obligation and resentment different things so and I I know I bopped around there there were times when I was in chaos there were times when I felt resentment there but it's just it comes down to what are the things you can put in place for yourself. And some of it is becoming aware of where you are and getting the support you need. And so that's why I'm a big fan of, listen, I worked with a therapist for many years when I was working with my parents and raising my kids. I needed a place to go and deal with all the stuff that was coming up for me.

[42:40] And then later worked with coaches. So coaching, therapy, support groups, these are all important because we aren't meant to do all of this alone. And weren't not meant to know everything. I didn't have time to go to school and become a neurologist to be able to know how to handle my parents with dementia. But so that's what the self-inventory is. And I recommend people doing it just from a place of knowing where you are right now. So then you can start to plan, what do I need? And then you can also check in on yourself later. You know, let me do this inventory again. You know, it's ever-changing. So it's taking stock. Mm-hmm. I love, I love that. I think that is, like, that is so up my alley in the sense of.

[43:28] Taking people through a framework yes like a framework people don't necessarily understand a framework or a formula yeah can significantly change the trajectory of their journey yeah and I love that you broke your framework down into the legacy of love and you know legacy of chaos and an obligation and what was the third one the fourth one reluctance or resistance.

Framework for Caregiving Success

[43:59] You're asking me and i like i should know this because i read it right but um i have i have framework it is some legacy of resentment or legacy of obligation obligation uh yeah i think i i might have changed that the last one obligation to another another name but But yeah, basically, that's my line is, I mean, yes, sometimes I talk about, I love how you have framed them. Like, I really, I'm like, man, I wish I'd have thought about those. But you know, for me, when I when I start out with it is, you know, I talk about getting people to become resilient caregivers, right, which would be your legacy of love. You know, you, yes, everything everything together, you have a plan, you know where you're going, you know what your outcome you want to have. And then, you know, one of them is a reluctant caregiver.

[44:59] Some of them are just like an ordinary caregiver, just somebody who doesn't want to be a caregiver. Right. All these different frameworks, but taking people through a process to get them from point A to point B is so important because, you know, you mentioned coaching, you mentioned, you know, counselor, you mentioned education. And what I really find interesting about all of what you just mentioned there is if you read the, and I'm one of these nerds, and I think you are too, the Alzheimer's Association's annual facts and figures report the research, like the medical research, the research out there on what makes an effective dementia caregiving journey includes.

[45:52] Psychoeducational support. So coaching, education, and or counseling, and all of them play a role. They're not... Isolated from one another right they each provide like as a dementia coach i am not a counselor i am not a counselor to somebody that is not my role but my role is to take the dementia components the educational side of it and coach people through how to do the how do i do this but within a container that provides that emotional support community. And so, you know, I just, I love that you identified in talking and listening to people's pain points.

[46:45] That educational and emotional component, those two things, because without those two things, you cannot be a successful caregiver, whether you're a sandwich generation caregiver or not a sandwich generation caregiver. You cannot be successful unless you have all of that stuff. And I also love that you highlighted, you know, you're smart, you know, you're an educational psychologist. You could learn all this stuff yourself, but you don't have the time. The time or the bandwidth. I mean, you know, and my other piece, Lizette, is I feel like, again, I really wrote the book for people who, I wrote the book I needed is what I did. And one of the things was I was looking for things and I could find things about what to do for my parents and how to help them. I didn't see anything speaking to, well, but I'm stuck, not stuck, but I'm squeezed in here between my kids too. And I know that my anxiety about my parents, the grief process I was already in. So the whole concept of anticipatory grief, I didn't even have that term in my head.

[47:55] It's not even in my book because I really learned it later. I think I did talk in my book about I was already in a grief process. I just didn't have that term anticipatory grief, but that's really what we're talking about. Watching people you care about fade away and you know what's coming, right? We all know the end of the story, but that changes who you are as a parent too, because you're not showing up with, you know, joy and patience and, and, um.

[48:24] Presence with your kids sometimes, and that's not great parenting. So I wanted to really speak to all of this. So when I talk about legacy of love, I'm also talking about what example are we showing our kids? Because you know what? We're training them to take care of us someday.

[48:41] So what are they learning to do? Are they learning to just be really short-tempered?

[48:46] But it's too much for one person. And in many ways, like this sandwich generation, this is really a 20th century thing. Many years ago, people lived in multi-generational families and many cultures still live in multi-generational families. And caretaking is spread across everyone. So it's just a phenomenon that we're in. It's not forever. It's a phase of our life. There is another side of it. I do feel like, you know, there are, I always talk about the gifts and the unique needs and the gifts of the sandwich generation. And one of the gifts is really your skill level in a lot of areas is going to accelerate. You know, I became, my executive functions were sharpened because they had to be. And then my resilience was, that's a muscle that we're always building. And we don't build resilience when everything's going great. It's when we're faced with some things that we have to kind of pull it all together.

[49:51] And I was able to do that. And so were my kids. So my kids really, they were already wonderful human beings, but oh my gosh, the compassion that they had for me, for my parents was beautiful. And they're still beautiful people. So I believe that there are many gifts in this caregiving journey. they're hard won gifts but they're our gifts and it's how do we.

[50:17] And you know what? You're going to be in a day where you're like, well, I just don't feel the gifts. And you know what? That's okay. Because it's okay not to be okay too. And you will get through it. I believe that. I really believe that. And so that's the message that I try to give to people is it's not all sunshine and roses every day. Many days are hard, but when we do these things to take care of ourselves, we're more prepared to deal with those hard days. And then we can start to see some of the gifts. But like I said, there are going to be days when you're like, yep, no gifts today, no roses today. And you're going to get through that day too.

[50:58] Absolutely. The biggest difference is just not staying there, right? Having strategies in place or people support around you to help you get through that. Many of the people over the years that I've worked with that have not been successful caregivers, the ones that end up burning out or being resentful or continuing to live in the chaos, they're the ones that constantly mull and stay in that instead of working on the actual skills. And yes, It does require you to put forth some effort. Yeah. But at the same time, if you do that effort...

[51:48] You do build your resilience and you are actually stronger for it when you come through it. But when you stay in that muck. And part of the staying stuck is we want it to be different. We want it to be different. And we have to get to a place of, but this is what it is.

[52:09] And how do I now show up to what is really here. Yeah. And, and there's grief in that, right? There's grief and loss in that. And we find that at many times in our parenting journey, you know, and we find that many times in our caregiving journey and we find it just in our own growing up, you know, we're growing, you know, the interesting thing is, you know, I talk about the developmental process of the kids and then the developmental process of the adults. You know what? We're going through our own developmental process too. We're all changing. So we have to also give ourselves some grace with what we're going through and how we're changing.

[52:46] Oh, I loved this conversation. This made me so happy. I learned so many new things. Like, I think this question or the statement that you made related to siblings and family, this is what support would look like for me. Like, that to me is one of my biggest takeaways. ways, because you're right, you know, what support to me may not be support to you or the person who's providing support. And it ties nicely into what I teach my people is that they need to be specific about what help they need. Yeah. So I'm, I'm super excited. And I would, I would encourage anybody who listened to today's episode to go take the self inventory. I think I'm going to to take it as well. Because I think it shows you where in your journey you are because unless you know where you are starting.

[53:44] You can't get where you want to go because you don't have a starting point. But you also have to, you know, the flip side of that is I tell all my family caregivers, what I call it is you have to begin with the end in mind. Absolutely. Before you start this caregiving journey, you have to know what you want to look like on the other end, because there is another end to the caregiving journey. And so beginning with the end in mind, but you got to know where you're starting to. So if you go on vacation, you're not going on vacation. I live in Greenville. I'm not going to leave to go on vacation from California because I live in Greenville. I know I live in Greenville. I have to start in Greenville. But if I want to get to California, I can't be going to New York because I'm never going to get to California. Well, exactly.

Inventory as GPS Coordinates

[54:39] I think of the an inventory is sort of your GPS coordinates, you know, because yeah, you, you know, you can't get somewhere unless you know where you are.

Working with Christy Yates

[54:49] Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. Very important. So I'm going to ask people to go take the inventory. If they wanted to connect with you, In another way, tell people how they can work with you, who are the right people to work with you. Sure. You know, I do a lot of work with companies actually. So I will do virtual workshops in employee support groups, employee resource groups, and affinity groups. And so if you are someone who is working while also caregiving, which is also a huge amount of people, this is a really great way to support. And if you're an employer, this is a great way to support your caregiving employees. So that's one thing is, and you can find all of this on my website. So my website is christyyates.com. It's pretty simple.

[55:41] Just there are 500 ways to spell Christie. Mine is C-H-R-I-S-T-Y Yates, Y-A-T-E-S.com. And you can find plenty of information there. I also do private coaching one-on-one. I have had some support groups in the past. Right now, I'm taking a pause on that, and I may build those a little bit later. But I also do speaking engagements. So I will come into different organizations. So anyone who might work in an affiliated profession, it could be assisted livings. I've worked with a lot of estate planning attorneys and financial planners. So it all goes together. And I think when we all work together, then we can provide really great services for everyone. So those are the ways to work with me. And, you know, reach out. I have a contact form on my website. You can ask me questions and then I'm on all the socials and it's usually as Christy B. Yates. So you can find me almost everywhere. Lots of places to find you. Yeah, the last statistic I'll share with people before we hop off today is about 60% of family caregivers are still working 30 plus hours a week.

[56:50] And I'm so grateful that you're in that space of working with employers. I think that that's something that's going to continue to expand over time. But I also want to encourage people not to just rely on their employers because it is up to you to find. Unfortunately, it's up to us. You know, a lot of people want the health care

Taking Charge of Support

[57:14] industry to solve this problem for them. Uh it you know it's not the health care is health care is not set up to provide the level of support that family caregivers need right just like you know it's an unrealistic expectation and nor would i want them to um have health care providers or health care the health care system raise my children right i don't want to be raising my kids um to us to provide the the level of help and support that they need, but it's also up to us to provide the level of support and help that our parents need on the other side. But we're not on this journey alone. So I want to encourage people with that. Well, Christy, thank you so, so very much for this wonderful interview today. I'm very excited about it. And thank you so much for getting up so early. Oh, well, thank you. And it's my pleasure. And you know what, I love talking with other people. You know, I think we have an affinity because OT, school psychology, really closely aligned. So I love it. So it's great.

[58:18] And I will have all of your details in the show notes for people if they want to check you out later on. Fantastic. Thank you so much. You're welcome.

Join the Dementia Caregiving Community

[58:30] Thanks for joining me today, Success Seeker. I pour my heart and soul into this program to serve you. You can serve me by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts and join our free Facebook group, Dementia Caregiving for Families. It's a positive and proactive space to navigate dementia caregiving together. Get practical tools and find support, but without the verbal vomit. Be a part of our community where we seek to find peace of mind and ease, despite the dementia diagnosis. So join today and see you next time as our flight takes off.

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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