I spent 20 years leading teams nationwide for several large retail corporations before changing directions and becoming a caregiver.
The latter proved more difficult as I dealt with aging parents who developed Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease, and Vascular Dementia.
I began researching, reading anything that might help, and interviewing well-qualified health professionals. I was in deep water, and I knew it.
I found plenty of information on how the diseases would progress but precious little on managing life in this new arena.
My husband and I created ways to deter wandering, reduce hallucinations, and make dressing more manageable. I share those ideas with other caregivers to offer hope, help, and laughter. (Things desperately needed by millions.)
I believe it's okay to get knocked down, but it's not okay to stay there.
"Avoiding Burnout" is a relevant topic for business people and caregivers. I offer strategies to reduce stress and be more productive.
"Ways to Reduce Your Odds of getting Dementia" is a popular speech I deliver. In it, I offer practical, easy-to-follow actions people can do at home. No expensive pills or equipment are involved, and these are honest, generally free, proven, practical things anyone can do to reduce their odds of getting dementia.
My talks are humorous, relatable, informative, encouraging, and drawn from my life as a 3x caregiver and my PAC certifications as a caregiving consultant and caregiver advocate. I have been an Alzheimer's Community Educator since 2017.
My passion is empowering caregivers with the knowledge and skills to reduce stress, avoid burnout, and learn to laugh again.
More than 100 miles
Everything is negotiable
Mom and Dad decided to go to Walmart alone. The store was only 3 miles away and involved only one turn.
Instead of turning left, they went right and wound up on the highway. My parents then decided it was okay, and they would simply go to a different Walmart.
By the time they saw the store, it was too late to exit. Instead of taking the next exit, they decided to try for another Walmart because “there’s surely more off the highway.”
They did see another store, but again, not in time to exit, so on they went.
They finally decided to stop and call me because it was getting dark and dad couldn’t see well. (He had macular degeneration and Parkinson’s, so he wasn’t supposed to be driving anyway!)
I’m trying to determine where they were, since they had no idea, when mom says: “I see a 7-11, does that help?” Lol
No, those are everywhere!
They were two cities away!
My earliest memory is being on the phone with my mother, who told me I had a new baby sister. I was so excited! Mom said she would bring the baby home to meet me in time for my 2nd birthday in 3 days.
I would grab a diaper, wipes, or burp cloth quickly and accurately. Mom could count on me to care for this tiny, often crying, sweet baby sister, who was so helpless. I was a secondary caregiver at 2 years old!
A short 15 months later, it happened again! My mom was a baby-making machine! She had 4 kids in 5 years!! This time mom brought home a baby brother for me to help care for. I called him my “chubby bubby” as he was a round little guy with an insatiable appetite. By now, I was an expert babysitter, at least in my 3 ½-year-old brain.
I adored my younger siblings and enjoyed helping mom. I had this cute little doll stroller that worked wonderfully for my babies, so one day, I decided to put my chubby little brother in it and take him for a stroll down the hallway.
Let’s just say things did not go as planned. His weight was too much for my toy stroller to handle, and the seat quickly split apart, leaving him stuck with his diaper on the ground and feet and arms in the air! I started crying over my beloved stroller being ruined. This was NOT the plan! I planned to have a peaceful stroll down the long hallway; it definitely did not involve a ripped stroller, a screaming baby, and arms and legs flailing wildly, hitting and kicking me as I tried to help him! While all these emotions were swirling, I knew I had to remedy the situation, so I began untangling him from the ripped seat and hoisting him to safety.
Once I freed him, he calmed down and lay there playing with a wheel. I stared at the stroller, trying to decide how best to repair it. I wasn’t old enough to use a sewing machine, so I decided on duct tape. I knew it was in the garage, so I grabbed it and quickly taped it around the bars to make a new seat. It worked wonderfully! Dad was less than impressed with the amount I used, but I wanted to be sure he didn’t break through again! Problem solved.
My entire life, I learned to use what was available to solve a problem and create a solution. Just like the duct tape at 3 1/2 years old, I teach people how to react quickly using whatever is at hand to solve a caregiving problem.