Cathy Sikorski, Elder Lawyer and Family Caregiver (Episode 88)

Join host Kay Coughlin for this energetic discussion with Cathy Sikorski, longtime Elder Lawyer and family caregiver. Among many other topics, you’ll get a brief overview of the “big four” legal documents that are critical to have in any caregiving situation. Also, you’ll hear some of what Cathy has learned during her 30 years as a caregiver about how to make sure you get real self-care. 

As always, you can expect real talk with no judgment, no guilt and no pressure!

Register for Nancy’s House conference (Sat, Nov 5, 2022) here: FacilitatorOnFire.net/Events

Find Cathy Sikorski here: CathySikorski.com. Email Cathy directly at: Cathy (dot) Sikorski at Gmail (dot) com

Find Kay’s Sources page here:  FacilitatorOnFire.net/Sources

Learn more about all of this work at FacilitatorOnFire.net/Links.

Transcript of episode is below.

Follow Kay and Facilitator On Fire on social media

Do you need to find a way to get some rest, even if you believe that you can't possibly take care of yourself when the people around you need you so much?

Most of us have been taught that we can't (or shouldn't) prioritize ourselves because there are just too many other things to do first, and too many people to take care of first. But that doesn't have to be true! You can get some rest and you don't have to figure it out by yourself.

Kay Coughlin created the "From One Caregiver to Another"® membership community to empower and encourage family caregivers and sandwich family caregivers to set boundaries, get rest and feel less alone.

Transcript: Cathy Sikorski, Elder Lawyer & Family Caregiver (Episode 88) 

You’re listening to From One Caregiver to Another. I’m your host, Kay Coughlin. I’m a business coach and an advocate for people with family caregiver responsibilities. I’m a family caregiver for my mother, too, and I just don’t believe that we caregivers have to put ourselves last. I believe that our families, government, and society in general owe us a lot more help than we usually get. And I’m here to help you learn to speak up for yourself so you can live your own life again.

Kay: Hi everybody. I am so excited to have here with me on the podcast, Cathy Sikorski. You will get to know Cathy today, and I know that you will be as grateful as I am to have learned about Cathy and her work. Cathy is an Elder Lawyer and she lives in the Philadelphia area. Cathy and I met through “Nancy’s House Caring for Caregivers.” She has served on the board of Nancy’s House for how long now, Cathy?

Cathy: Five years.

Kay: Cathy is a fantastic speaker. She is a great writer. One of the joys of doing this work as a podcaster is I get to do some research on the people I want to talk to. As I was preparing, I read Cathy’s most recent book, which is called “12 Conversations, How to Talk to Almost Anyone About Life Care Planning.” Is that right?

Cathy: “Long Term Care Issues,” but same thing.

Kay: Now, Cathy, what I have to tell you is that I think we need to book a separate time for us to record some of the conversations that you have scripted out in your book. That would be so fun, I can’t even tell you how many times I busted out laughing. I know you and I both have theater backgrounds. So I’m thinking this could be a super fun opportunity.

Cathy: Totally. And And let’s bring in your mom and my mom to be the characters with us. Come on. It would be so fun.

Kay: That would be a stitch. Okay, everybody, you’ve got to hang tight because it sounds like Cathy and I may have something extra special for you in the future. Okay, so that’s Cathy. Oh, and I will make sure to put the link in the show notes, of course. But if you want to find out more about Cathy and her work, which is, I just can’t even speak highly enough about Cathy’s work, you can find her at CathySikorski.com. Could not be easier. I know the spelling of that can be tricky. So do look in the show notes or go to the podcast page where I’ve got the transcript of this episode and you will find the spelling of Cathy’s name there as well. It’s also in the name of the episode for this podcast. So, I know that you have been a caregiver for your family members, an unpaid caregiver, right?

Cathy: Yes, I’m an unpaid family caregiver for the last 30 years.

Kay: And how many different people have you served in that caregiver capacity?

Cathy: Six family members and two friends.

Kay: Can you tell me a little bit about what that’s been like for you over the past 30 years and eight loved ones?

Cathy: Of course it wasn’t all eight at one time, but there were many times where there was more than one at a time. And, and may I just add that during that period of time, I was also raising my two children with my husband. So they count, you know, you’re still, if as a mom, you’re still caring for your own healthy children, it doesn’t mean you’re not a caregiver for them as well. But it was daunting, rewarding, hilarious, and educational.

Kay: Were you an Elder Lawyer before you became a family caregiver?

Cathy: No, I love that question. No, absolutely not. Actually, as a practice it’s very new. When I got out of law school, there was no such thing as Elder Law. Many of your audience will know about estate law and estate planning, and everybody’s heard of that, because quite frankly it’s been around since King John wrote the Magna Carta and said, You guys could be in charge of your own stuff, right? But that’s not what we’re talking about.

Elder Law came along as the population got older. Nursing homes became a bigger and more expensive issue. Medicare and Medicaid got wider, uh, a wider berth and response and the needs for the older population was just starting to envelop our country and caregiving just got bigger and bigger and bigger, and there’s a lot of law around that.

But what happened to me personally was my 92 year old grandmother came to live with me, and I had a two year old at that time. And of course that’s the, your typical sandwich generation person, right? And I was just practicing general practice law in a small town outside of Philadelphia. And I recognized, and then my aunt and then my great-aunt, you know, I started to have all these caregiving responsibilities.

And I recognized that I needed to know the legal piece of this, and Elder Law was a new area of law that I had to do as a practical matter. And so I just really honed my law practice down to that work because I could see that it was becoming a legal work of the future and people needed to know about this.

So I’ve been an Elder Lawyer for now, you know, 30 years for as long as I’ve been a caregiver.

Kay: And in your book “12 conversations,” which again, I just… look folks, you have to read it, send it to your financial planner, send it to your own lawyer. It’s fantastic. You mentioned the big four documents that we all need. Can you just rattle those off real quick so everyone knows what they’re going to get into in this book?

Cathy: Yeah. Thank you so much because it’s just the big four. Exactly. You need a durable financial power of attorney. You need a healthcare power of attorney or proxy. You need an advanced directive, which is what happens if I’m in a permanent vegetative state. It’s a little bit different than just your regular healthcare power of attorney. And you need a will. Okay?

But what you really need, of all of those things, is make sure that they’re updated, that they’re not 30 years old sitting in your underwear drawer from when your kids were two and five, and now they’re 32 and 35.

Right? You need to make sure they’re updated, that they meet the laws, because the laws around these things have changed dramatically over the years with Elder Law and what those documents allow you to do as a caregiver is do your job. If you don’t have those legal documents, you can’t do financial stuff for your person.

You can’t do healthcare stuff. Nobody will talk to you and nobody will allow you or give you permission to take on those responsibilities. But here’s the biggest kicker of all: your spouse. Just because you are married to your spouse, doesn’t mean you have the authority to do things for your spouse without those documents. You have to have them. Even if you are married. You have to.

Kay: So what that sounds like to me, we already know that having caregiver responsibilities can be extremely complicated and extremely difficult. If you don’t have these big four, the person you’re caring for, if they don’t have the these big four, and you yourself, if you don’t have these big four for yourself, it makes a difficult job exponentially harder.  Is that true?

Cathy: Exactly, Exactly. And if something happens to you as the caregiver and, and you now need someone to help you, right? You don’t have them for yourself, and somebody needs to now help the person you were caring for, you know, you have it, it’s a house of cards that will fall very quickly without you having these documents in place.

So that if you need them, it already helps you jump over the difficulty of having to talk to people and make arrangements and spend money or make healthcare decisions on behalf of the person you’re caring for.

Kay: So that is all we’re going to say about that. I mean, officially, In the podcast today. And because Cathy is a lawyer, I just do want to disclose here for the record, and state that this is not intended to be legal advice.

That’s not what we’re trying to do here. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble with that, but it’s really important. So go buy the book. Okay? Just go buy the book, read the book, share it with everyone.

So having been a caregiver yourself for three decades now, what are a couple of things that you wish every caregiver knew so that they, and I say they but I should say we because I’m a caregiver too. So that we can take care of our own best interests and take care of ourselves.

Cathy: Of course, the first thing I’m going to say as a lawyer is get those documents for yourself. Everybody’s so happy to get them for their mom and their dad and their brother-in-law, whoever they’re caring for, but they don’t do it for themselves. So please do that too. But taking care of yourself is, of course, we always talk about this in the caregiving world, but the thing that I think we forget to speak to is that means something different for everybody.

So you have to pinpoint what you need. If you find yourself failing, and I don’t mean failing as a caregiver, but you know you’re exhausted or it’s money, or you need more time for work or whatever it is. Find your own personal place where you’re feeling like there’s a failing or a need, and ask yourself, what do I need?

And then find the person who can give you that, because it’s not always the same person, right? Everybody just says, ask for help. You know, so your sister might come help you, but that might not actually be the person who can help you. It could be your boss, it could be your financial advisor. It could be your doctor.

Like, who knows, right? But you have to decide, am I tired? Am I stressed? Do I just need some money? Do I just need some time? You know, what do you need? And when you figure that out, then find the person who can help give you that and then go get it, because that’s the next part. You have to actually go and get it.

Either get the person or get the thing that you need because it, and it might be different every time. What you need now might not be what you need six months from now.

Kay: Okay. I think that’s a really good point, because it’s not just that situations as family caregivers change, but we change, our health changes, our finances change.

Cathy: I’m a new grandmother. I want time to spend with my grandchildren. That’s a new thing, right? That wasn’t a part of my life a short time ago, so now I need something else. Now I need something different. Yeah.

Kay: When you look back over your time as a caregiver, what are some things you struggled with the most?

Cathy: Of course, in the big picture, everybody’s probably going to say the same answer, which is time and money, right? It definitely was time and money because I didn’t have the time to do the things I wanted to do for me. And I often didn’t have the money to even take care of the person I wanted to take care of in a way that I wanted to take care of them.

So I would say I was fortunate enough that I could, long before Covid, restructure my time to work more for myself and less for somebody else, and be able to figure out that I needed to have a more flexible work life in order to have a sustainable caregiving life.

Kay: What do you think the difference is for folks like us when we get that flexible schedule?

Cathy: You know, the biggest difference for me is rest. I can put rest in my day and I always say I don’t know who these Energizer Bunny people are, because that’s not me and that’s never been me. I need to put rest in every single day. I couldn’t do that when I had to be in an office from 8:30 in the morning till 5:30 at night. You know, I had to either look like I was working , even if I didn’t really need to be working on a project. I had to look like I was doing something.

But now, I mean, I can work honestly, if I’m feeling pretty good at 8:30 at night, I can pick up my computer and go do some writing or whatever, and take an hour to do what I want to do.

So that flexibility gives me the capability to take care of myself in a very different kind of way than a job where I had to be some. But I think for other people it just gives them the ability to run errands, take care of their kids’ projects, you know, be maybe go on a date with their spouse. Like it gives, it just gives you more life in your life.

Kay: I love the way you just described that. I have found that that has been the case for me also, but I will tell you that I run into plenty of caregivers who don’t end up incorporating rest into their lives, even when they get the flexible schedules. Do you run into that too, Cathy?

Cathy: Yeah. Yes. I mean, honestly, this is not to say I’m a better person. I’m just, I’m the exception in that. Okay, so when I was 12 years old, my mother took me to the doctor, 13 maybe. Because I was in high school. And she took me to the doctor and said, “she comes home every day from school and takes a nap and she sleeps.” And he looked at her and he said, “She’s tired. Leave her alone.” But my mother could not fathom why a 13 year old had to take a nap every day.

So this has been who I am since I was a teenager. I have never changed. Every day, if I can fit in a nap, I do. I, I know that about myself, right? But there’s not only societal pressure to be this Energizer bunny, but a lot of people who had boundless energy as they take on the job of unpaid caregiving with the job of paid whatever, with the job of being a family person, they failed to recognize that boundless energy is actually not a thing.

Which is why they should always come to you because boundaries have to be a thing, not boundless energy. That’s what I love about you, Kay.

Kay: Thank you. And, and I want to tell you that I misspoke a minute ago when I said that I have and what I should have said is, I have now managed to incorporate rest into my life and in my flexible schedule, but I had to learn the hard way that I had to do that, and I had to learn about setting boundaries so that I could do that. Because during Covid, I hit a wall. Yeah. Even during Covid when everybody was home, which was actually really hard on me, and I know it was hard on a lot of other people, and people couldn’t come visit my mom anymore, and so I was her only companion and all of that.

It got to be really hard. I learned the hard way to really dive into those boundaries. Which look for anyone listening to this. What I, what I would like for everyone to know about boundaries is it’s really easy to have a backslide when it comes to boundaries. I thought that I had set up my life so that I had a pretty good boundary life, and then covid hit and I just slid back into a lot of old habits.

And I’m not saying that because I’m blaming or shaming myself for that. That is the way humans work. We fall into those old habits and patterns that we’re most comfortable with, and that’s what I did.

And so now on the other side of this, I get to be here having this conversation with Cathy where both of us have learned how to take care of ourselves, and sometimes by being stretched too thin and realizing we can’t do it anymore. Is that right?

Cathy: Yes. And I think caregivers have to know that you are a special person. Everybody’s not doing what you’re doing. You deserve some special care and treatment because you are doing something that everybody is not. And you need to remember that if you have flexibility, it is not against the rules. It is not a punishment to your person you care for.

It is not selfish to incorporate figuring out what you need and getting it. It is selfless because as you probably know, Kay, 25% of caregivers are felled in some fashion by their caregiving. Whether it be their own illness or, or they themselves don’t survive their care recipient because it’s just too hard and it’s an extra amount of work.

So all of that being said, I would say if you are fortunate enough to figure out flexibility for you, make sure you listen to Kay and also add boundaries in your education with that as well. Because

Kay: Because otherwise the flexibility will be meaningless.

Cathy: It’s useless. Yes, exactly. It’s meaningless.

Kay: Look, you’ve worked with a lot of caregivers over the years.

What do you think are some of the biggest roadblocks that keep caregivers from doing what you said, which is figuring out what you need, finding the people who can actually help you with it, and then actually going out and getting what you need. What do you think gets in the way of that?

Cathy: I really want to ask you that question, but I’ll answer first, because my feeling is we’re a bunch of control freaks.

You know, I was in an exercise class today and the one girl said, Yeah. Oh, one of the girls texted in and said, I can’t come. I’m taking my mom to the doctor. For her, her mom’s in her eighties, for her mammogram and she says, apparently I’m her only child and she’s got like five siblings. And my trainer goes, Yep, me too, four siblings. The girl, other girl working out said, Yep, me too, three siblings. Me, seven siblings. Yep, me too.

Like there’s one person right, who is the caregiver in your family. And if that’s you and I’m talking to you, partly it’s because your family has seen you as the person who steps up and you do step up.

But the other part of it is, be honest, you’re a control freak. You think only you can do it the best way, the most appropriate way. You have all the answers. We gotta let some stuff go. That’s the biggest challenge that I see with caregivers.

Kay: You are correct. There is so much of the control freak going on. You know, I certainly can claim that label myself, but there’s another layer to that and I want to ask what you think about this.

The layer that I find beneath that is actually the fear, two fears. That somebody’s going to do something wrong if you are not doing it, or that you will get blamed if something goes wrong. What do you think of that?

Cathy: Okay, so yes, absolutely true. And let’s, let’s circle back to, I’m a lawyer. You know, there’s the legal piece that I’m now the power of attorney. So I am the person in charge, like I have the authority. So if I have the authority, can I delegate the authority Comfortably and appropriately? That’s a problem. Right? Because you said either, either I’m going to get blamed because I didn’t do it right, or I just know this other person isn’t going to do it right.

Like just, you have to be honest with yourself that you can delegate some things that you are not delegating, because it’s like everything else. Yes, it may take this other person longer. Yes, it might not be done the way you want it to. Yes, It might actually step up your, your work in another way, but maybe not.

And there’s one thing I’ve always said that I really want to say. If you as a caregiver don’t allow other people to step into your shoes and take care of someone you love, you are preventing another who loves your mom or your dad or your brother-in-law or sister-in-law, you’re preventing that person from giving that gift of love and care to their loved one as well. You’re taking away an opportunity for them to show their love for that person because you have to be in charge all the time.

Kay: You used a phrase that I want to dig into just a little bit. You said if you can delegate comfortably. What do you mean by that? To delegate comfortably.

Cathy: So I have a brother who lives in Mexico. I would not put my mother, I would not put him in charge of my mother’s doctor’s appointments, or even my mother’s, you know, mail, like her correspondence.

He’s not here enough to visit with her, and when he does, he’s the golden boy, right? Oh, he’s wonderful, he’s great. But when he is here, he sure as heck can take her to the doctor ff she has a doctor’s appointment. He’s got two legs and a car, you know, he’s 60 years old. He’s certainly bright enough to sit there and listen to what the doctor has to say.

So sure there’s going to be boundaries or stepping stones or, I mean, things that you have to step over to get someone to do your job. But, comfortably just means you’re not asking for something that’s so out of the realm of possibility that you are making them crazy as much as you’re going to make yourself crazy because they can’t come through for you. Right?

And honestly, if you’re the person in charge, you know that nobody’s putting out crazy stuff here. All I’m saying is we are so willing to be the person, the go-to person, which is wonderful. Thank God for each and every one of us that we’re willing to be that go-to person, but we’re also unwilling very often to let that go.

Again for two reasons. Let it go because someone else loves your mom. Give them the chance to be with her, to spend time with her, to have the joy that you have when you go out for lunch or a coffee or whatever. And the other reason is that you need to stay healthy and sane and you cannot do that if you know that you’re burning out. If you’re one of those caregivers who’s burning out, you’re no help to anyone. So, you know, step up to yourself and say, I’m going to step back.

Kay: You know, there was a study that came out last year that said for sandwich family caregivers, you talked about this at the beginning, those of us who are caring for younger people, usually children and an adult at the same time, and that adult could be almost anybody. I believe the number was that 85% of us are struggling with mental health now. That was a study of about 10,000 Americans. And interestingly enough, that actually meets the definition of an epidemic. Isn’t that mind boggling?

Cathy: It is. But you know what else is interesting about what you just said? The one thing that employers are willing to do right now, especially ever since Covid, is to provide mental health benefits.

This is exploding as a benefit. So if you’re listening to this and you are a working caregiver? You know, I always say unpaid caregivers aren’t unpaid people. They’re usually working somewhere else. They’re just unpaid for caregiving. So if you’re a working person, even mental health is one of the things we can pinpoint. Like, I’m just stressed and I don’t know how to deal with this. Look at your work benefits to see if that’s something that’s being provided for you that you are not using.

Kay: Caregivers don’t have a neatly defined space in healthcare, right?

Cathy: So you might not get paid time off for that. Your FMLA, Family and Medical Leave Act, might be unpaid. You might not be able to, you know, juggle your day or be able to work from home in a consistent way or to have a flexible schedule, but you might be able to get mental health benefits. That’s probably very easily attained. And if you can, my goodness, take it now, take advantage of it. Run and get it.

Because if you are an unpaid caregiver, there’s no way you aren’t under stress.

Kay: In my experience, most Americans resist getting help with their mental health, and I have found that to be true in the caregiver space as well. What do you think is going on there? Why do people resist that, even when they have benefits to cover it first?

Cathy: Well, first of all, it’s a, you’re a pariah, right? It has so long been made you, made to make you feel less than. If you are getting mental health, there’s something wrong with you. Nobody wanted people at work to know that you had mental health issues. You know, if it was in your medical record, that might be a problem for you in the future, et cetera, et cetera.

But as much as that stigma, uh, is probably still attached and probably more for us, I think, than young people,  I’m hoping Gen X, Gen Z, millennials might be less stigmatized by mental health. The beauty of mental health help now is number one, they keep it super private, but you can do it like we’re doing this right now. You can do it as a zoom call. So you don’t have to physically go somewhere. Nobody’s going to see you walking into that office. You don’t say, I have an appointment. You can just say, I have a Zoom call. Right. Which everybody’s going to like, Oh gosh, she has another zoom call. Okay. Whatever. Right.

I think there are ways to remove the stigma in a way that accessing it is so much more comfortable that you, you’ll try it once or twice and maybe find that you are in fact getting what you need and then you’re definitely going to get past it.

Kay: So, Cathy, you know, at the end of the day, what are the things that you think really keep caregivers from getting the care that they need for themselves?

Cathy: I mean, the answer is still time and money, but money’s a problem, Kay. Money is really a problem. We do not yet in this country appreciate that many, in fact, I think most of the caregivers are spending, something like $7,000 to $10,000 out of their own pocket every year to be a caregiver for someone else.

Like they wouldn’t spend that money, but for they have to drive someone to the hospital or buy them Depends or, you know, whatever it is. And $7,000-to-$10,000 is, can be a daunting, it is a daunting amount of money for most people in a year. Right.

So there’s there are growing areas where you can access funds to be a paid family caregiver that people don’t know about, and they really should start researching that. Just: can I be a paid family caregiver? If you are not a spouse, you might be shocked to know that there are programs that will actually allow you to be paid, or in the alternative, your loved one, your mom or your dad can pay.

And if they can afford to pay you, I am the first person who’s going to tell you, get paid. Get a caregiver contract drawn up by an Elder Lawyer, get paid. I want you to claim it on your taxes because then it adds to your social security. And then you won’t be an 80 year old with no money when your time comes and you are retired and somebody needs to help, right? Get paid. There are ways to get paid. Stop ignoring that.

So the money issue is real, but there are some steps you can take. Take the time issue again with the flexibility of the workplace and it’s getting better and better and better because people are just saying, I need flexibility, and talking about this at work.

I would love for you to talk about this at work. I think you will start to find if there’s support for caregivers needing more flexibility. And more support that you then will use that time to circle back and take care of yourself so that you can continue to be a healthy paid caregiver.

Kay: I think you’re right. I think it’s time and money, and I would add two to that list.

One is setting boundaries, learning how to do that. I know how hard it is. I do that work myself all the time.

And the other one that I would add to the list is, well, it’s a two-parter, but it’s about help. It’s asking for help and then actually receiving the help because I cannot even tell you how many times I have talked to someone who has asked for help and then someone has agreed to do it, and then the last minute they back out of the deal. They don’t actually want the help. They can’t bear to take the help. They get too worried.

I know this is a podcast and people can’t see our faces, but we both look like we’re about to cry right now because it’s heartbreaking. We have both seen it so many times that someone asks for help and then just refuses to take it. Because there’s the, they’re two different skills. I call them two different skill sets. Asking for help is a skill, and receiving help is a different skill set. It’s never taught to us. It’s never modeled for us. Most of us don’t have any help with our mental or emotional health on how to get through that.

What do you think about that?

Cathy: This is the biggest problem we have at Nancy’s house.

Kay: This is exactly what I was thinking. This is the perfect segue to talking about the conference.

Cathy: Yes. So Nancy’s House, I is a wonderful organization, which Kay,  remarks that I am a board member, have been for five years. And I love this organization because what we do is we provide respite retreats for burnt out caregivers. Either weekends or one day retreats, but we try to give people a weekend where they can get sleep, good food, some exercise if they want it, some mental health if issues if they want it, or just they can sleep for two days or three days if they want.

But the point of Nancy’s House is to help a caregiver reset and get some rest and, and relaxation. We have more cancel then is utterly imaginable for this free weekend at a five star bed and breakfast, hotel, whatever. That’s how we do it. You know, we’ve got gourmet food, five star accommodations, and people will cancel on us at the last minute for that very reason that you just described, because it’s too hard to take the help.

Honestly, it’s so frustrating to me. I, I can’t even imagine, you know, I could give it away to any college kid. They’d be more than happy to take a five star weekend in a hotel. But a caregiver who really, really needs it and who we do our very best to serve.

If you don’t have the finances to do it. We do our very best to finance it for you.  But even the ones who, who are willing to pay for it, it’s not about the money. They cancel at the last minute because they ask for the help, we get the help set up, and then they can’t receive the help. Yeah. So you have got to take a hard look at who you are and what you’re doing and ask why is it that I can’t take the help, the compliment, the goodness in life because I am giving, giving, giving every day

What’s the theme that, that Nancy’s House says? You cannot drink from an empty cup.

Kay: Before we talk about the conference anymore, and we’re going to get to that here in just a second. I want to say that for anyone listening to this, if you hear this and you think, “Oh, that’s me, I would totally get help if I could even bear to get help. And then at the last minute I would say, No, thank you. I can’t do this.” What I want to tell you is that that’s incredibly normal. It’s very human.

There is something that was recently given a name and the name of it is Human Giver Syndrome. Cathy is nodding her head along. This has been going on for thousands of years and it is the cultural belief that there are some people who are supposed to pour out everything they’ve got so that the people around them can thrive.

And look, folks, I want you to know, that’s real pressure to know that thousands of years of culture is telling you that you really should want to be the one who cares for whoever it is you’re caring for. And that it shouldn’t matter to you how difficult it is or, or how much of your life you’ve had to put on hold. And if you feel that way, you’re a bad person. That’s Human Giver Ayndrome.

I want you to know that you’re normal. There’s nothing wrong with you. You have inherited this from countless generations of people before you, and there is an entire economy that is built on the altruism that goes along with Human Giver Syndrome. It’s a real problem for us.

Okay, so that’s enough of that. So, Cathy, you and I are both going to be speaking at the Nancy’s House conference, which is going to be Saturday, November 5th. It’s in the morning. It’s a hundred percent virtual. There literally is no way you could attend in person if you wanted to. I mean, I guess you could gather some people in your living room if you wanted to, but it is a virtual conference. It is called Untying the Caregiving Knot. Is that correct?

Cathy: “Loosening the Caregiving Knot,” but same thing. Yes.  

Kay: Thank you, “Loosening the Caregiving Knot,” how much is the registration for that?

Cathy: A whopping $10.

Kay: Okay. And I’m going to tell anybody who’s listening to this. That if that $10 is too much for you, I want you to reach out for, to me personally, and I personally will make sure that you have the registration fee to attend this conference. That’s how good the conference is. That’s how important this is to me personally. You can find my information all over the place, but it’s Kay at Facilitator On Fire dot net. I will sponsor you if that is the only way that you can go. Okay. It’s that important to me.

Cathy: That’s very sweet. Thank you so much.

Kay: It’s that important to me. Cathy, what are you going to be talking about at the conference?

Cathy: So, I’m going to talk about legal pickles, the pickles that you can get in legally, legally with caregiving. And how to, to take a bite outta those pickles and don’t let them get you, get the best of you. Um, but we have six classes. It’s just a wonderful day to be with caregivers. And because it’s virtual, we all get to, you know, be together in the same room. Prizes we have, we have wonderful music. It’s a great, great day for caregivers, and you can do it from your home.

You can do it while you’re caregiving. You can come in and out as you need to do. It’s just a wonderful opportunity.

Kay: And I think one of the most important things to know about this conference is what’s not going to be there. There will be no blame. There will be no shame. There will be no guilt, none.

Now, okay, here’s the thing. Those things may come up for you during the conference. That is because we have been taught to feel blame and shame and guilt when we focus on taking care of ourselves and not focusing on our caregiver responsibility. So I can’t promise you that you won’t feel those things, but what I want you to know is that nobody at this conference is going to do anything to make those things worse for you.

There are going to be wonderful facilitators and presenters at this conference. If during any of these presentations, any of those really, really challenging feelings like come up for you? All you have to do is drop a comment into the comment box, into the chat box, and somebody will help you take care of yourself.

And I’m promising you that right now because that’s what Nancy’s House is all about, is helping you learn to take good care of yourself. Have I missed anything about the conference?

Cathy: I don’t think so. I’m sure you’re going to put the link on your, on your webpage so people can go get a ticket. It’s at Eventbrite, Nancy’s House. Yes. If you type in Nancy’s House, because you just can’t wait, just go type it in right now, on Eventbrite. And it’s just a half day, it’s just 9 to 12, so, you know, it’s not a long day, but it’s a fun day and it’s a very empowering day for you. You’re going to feel very seen and heard, I promise.

Kay: Yes, I will put the link in the show notes. I will put the link on the transcription page. I also want to let you know that I have a new page up on my website. I’ll put a link to it, but it’s my sources page, so it’s Facilitator On Fire dot net slash sources. On that page, you will find links to any research that I have cited.

Cathy, if there’s any research that you would like me to add to that page, I will add it to that page. I am also going to put links to important people like Cathy Sikorski, who you need to get to know. Anybody who’s been a guest on my podcast. Important work going on out in the community.

Cathy, is there anything that you would like to say here before we wrap up?

Cathy: I just want you to know that we know who you are because we are you and you have a very deep and special place in our hearts and souls. We know, and if we can help you in any possible way, even if it’s just an email, just reach out. That’s what Kay and I do. We want to reach out to you and we want you to reach out to us.

And if reaching out is something that you’ve hesitated to do, I want you to think twice about hesitating and maybe just take a little step forward and reach out. Kay’s going to put my email address in the show notes as well. You are welcome to email me anytime. And I, I love you. I love caregivers. I love you all.

I know what you’re doing and I love you for it. So that’s my thank you to you. And to you, Kay.

Kay: Oh, and thank you to you, Cathy. Oh, and I completely forgot. Before we close, I have to tell everyone, go to Cathy’s YouTube page. She’s got some of the funniest stories about caregiving. She really tries to approach all of this with humor, and I’m telling you, you will not be sorry. You can find a link to that on your, on your webpage. Cathy, there’s a link to your YouTube page. So Cathy’s just personally got all kinds of resources for you.

Cathy, you are amazing. I’m so glad that we are in this together, and I’m so glad that we are raising up our voices together to say, hey folks, if we could figure out how to do this, we know that you can do it too,.

And I don’t think there’s any way that anybody could shut either one of us up at this point. Do you ?

Cathy: Ain’t that the truth? I love that.

Kay: Thank you so much for being here with me today.

You can find out more about all of this work at Facilitator On Fire dot net. That’s Facilitator On Fire dot net. If you’d like to be less lonely and get some personalized help too, go check out the membership, which is called, “From One Caregiver to Another Cafe,” and you’ll find that at Facilitator On Fire dot net slash membership. It’s the place for caregivers to find non-judgmental community – I know that’s really important – and to safely explore what it could be like to put your own life back into your life. I can’t wait to be with you again in the next episode, From One Caregiver to Another.

#boundaries #HowToRest #PrioritizeYou #possibilities #HumanGiverSyndrome #burnout #overwhelm #caregiverburnout #caregiverstress #familycaregiver #caregiversupport #sandwichfamily #sandwichgeneration #genx #generationx #millennial #boomers #caregiver #selfcare #selfcompassion #podcast #EmotionalLabor #parentingchallenges #loneliness #lessalone #perfectionism #peoplepleasing #caretaker

your guide

Kay Coughlin, business coach, advocate for family caregivers, and CEO of Facilitator On Fire, is on a mission to help family caregivers get rest and feel less alone. In every forum she can find, she shouts that it's OK for every human to set and enforce boundaries around their bodies, thoughts, feelings and actions. You can join Kay's free, private online community to talk about boundaries here.

Kay also teaches about emotional labor, how to rest, and Human Giver Syndrome, and is the host of the "From One Caregiver to Another" podcast and author of "From One Caregiver to Another - Overcoming Your Emotional Grind."

As a business coach, Kay works with solopreneurs and leaders of small teams. She is well-known for her public speaking on boundaries and self-care, and also for helping teams understand how to work with people of different ages through her "Building Trust Across Generations" seminar. 

Facilitator on Fire is a subsidiary of Donor Relations Mindset LLC, which Kay founded in 2015. She lives with her husband and children in central Ohio, and is the primary caregiver for her own mother, who lives right next door. Kay can be found on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Copyright 2022. All rights reserved, Julia Kay Coughlin and Facilitator On Fire.

#Boundaries #HumanGiverSyndrome #EmotionalLabor #FamilyCaregivers #familycaregiver #SandwichFamily #CaregiverSupport #HowToRest #Caregivers #Loneliness #selfcare #mentalhealth #burnout #stress #caregiverburnout