Asian son talking to and comforting wheelchair bound father.

How to Develop Resilience for Seniors and Caregivers

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Portfolio Manager Neela White joins the podcast to discuss tips on how seniors and caregivers can develop resilience, including:

  • What is resilience?
  • Why is it important?
  • What are ways to develop resilience as a caregiver (or anyone)?
  • Why is self-care so important?

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Chris Cooksey: Hello and welcome to the Advantaged Investor, a Raymond James Limited podcast, a podcast that provides perspective for Canadian investors who want to remain knowledgeable, informed, and focused on long term success. We are recording this on October 30, 2023. I'm Chris Cooksey from the Raymond James Corporate Communications and Marketing Department, and today Portfolio Manager, Neela White returns to the podcast. Neela has been on many times before focusing on issues facing seniors and their caregivers. Today Neela is going to discuss tips on how to develop resiliency. Welcome back to the Advantaged Investor, Neela. I hope you're doing great and that your pumpkins are carved, and all ready for Halloween.

Neela White: Well, thanks for having me back, Chris, and actually, we had to get rid of the pumpkins. We carved them a bit too early and they were rotting inside. The squirrels wouldn't even eat them, so it was time to get rid of them.

Chris Cooksey: Fair enough. A local farmer thanks you. That's good to hear as always, very interesting, the conversation we're about to have, I believe. So we'll jump right in and, and maybe just start off with what is what is resiliency.

Neela White: You know what? I would have to say I think resilience in just a very simple form that all of us experience and try to demonstrate every day is our ability to bounce back in the face of challenges, difficulties, and negative environments. It's how can we reframe something? cClean up our self talk to bounce back, to have a positive attitude, to go forward proactively, and try to be less reactive about the challenge that we're facing.

Chris Cooksey: And I guess that applies to both seniors, and also their caregivers.

Neela White: Oh for sure, you know what, I think it's interesting, I think when we all look at our parents and our grandparents and sort of a bit of the school of Fort Knox, they do have a resilience to continuously move forward to accept challenges and to try to put that in a separate place than what they need to do to get past and move forward from it. And it is hard. It is hard at every stage of somebody's life, but I think specifically with caregivers, they need to put habits and disciplines in place to maintain resilience, just because your plate is quite full and you're tasked with a very stressful and emotionally demanding task that you do need to figure out ways to protect yourself. That way you're not declining along with the person that you're taking care of.

Chris Cooksey: Yeah, I've just realized over the last year myself, my parents are both sort of mid 70s and we're getting to that next stage with things. So there's a level of patience that's required that maybe didn't exist or be required before, so I imagine that's part of this whole resiliency concept as well. So maybe let's just touch on why it's so important that we develop this resiliency or know that we need it.

Neela White: You know what? I think with any task, I'm just focusing on caregivers and care recipients, but it's really anyone at any stage of their life. I think it's the whole aspect of developing resiliency, you can actually promote your own selfcare. Somehow in society, there's become this stigma that selfcare is selfish. As opposed to really to take care of someone, whether it's your young family, your aging parents, your grandparents, coworkers, colleagues - you do need to be well yourself to do that, to put your best foot forward. I think there's a bunch of little things that we can do as our life continuously changes that sets us up for one day, possibly having to be a caregiver. And it's simple things like make connections you know, join social groups, be willing to be vulnerable and say, hey, look, I need help, or I need advice. More and more studies are coming out that for lack of social connections, there's such a detrimental effect on personhood, let alone if you're a caregiver, and you're undergoing a ton of stress. And I think part of it is a bit of perspective. I know we all become very emotionally overwhelmed, depending what the circumstances, but sometimes it just takes reframing the situation to get through the situation and deal with it. So, maybe as opposed to seeing something as an insurmountable problem, you view it as this is short term, if I can possibly look out a month from now, two months from now, that this could get better. It's just what I'm feeling right now. I think also, bottom line is, we all need to accept that change is part of life and that's part of flexibility, that's part of developing resilience for all sorts of different challenges that we encounter within the life spectrum.

Chris Cooksey: Now in terms of resiliency and as the caregiver, is it a lot different than the care receiver would you say?

Neela White: You know what, so I'm going to answer this personally, because I think for everyone it's quite different what they feel. I know when I was caregiver to both dad and mom and I know in my mom's case It was very, very hard for her to accept The fact that she needed care and that the person providing it was the youngest of her children. I think it puts you in a very vulnerable position. And there is some shame involved, especially when you have to do bodily care and nether region care. I think from a care recipients. point of view, there are different emotional constrictions that you feel, but I think you still do need to develop resilience by thinking this is the care I need now, other aspects of my life are still going well, accept the care with grace, it does take a bit of a reframing, of realizing that there's been a decline in health and that affects all of us. I think from the caregiver’s point of view, it's putting up certain boundaries, emotional boundaries, and safeguards to help you keep things in perspective. So that part doesn't start to really have a huge trickle-down effect into your family life, the life of your kids, your work life. Because if you're unable to do that, it does have this overall impact where you start feeling overwhelmed if perspective starts to sway, right? And I think it's one of those things as well that, if I could say to anyone right now, it's at any age, start developing those outlets, healthy habits, you know, eating well, exercising, going for a walk when you're feeling that you're on the edge and you're going to lash out is one of the best things that you can do. So it's putting in little habits like that, and there's no way it's not going to help with the rest of your life, right?

Chris Cooksey: I guess too, it's like there's a physical resiliency that's required, but also a mental resiliency as sort of the roles changes you know, a lot of the things you may be developing if you're looking after a parent, is sort of the role reversal. A lot of the stuff they used to do for you, you are now doing for them. So there's a, there's a mental resiliency required to accept that this is now the situation, and it's, it's what is best as we move forward.

Neela White: And I think one of the things, and this is a personal pet peeve as well, I think one of the things we have to get out of the habit of language wise is saying they're just like babies, reverting back to being a baby. A baby is born without skills and they're 100 percent reliant. And you know, their brains are very small and they're just beginning to absorb stuff. They don't see you having to change their diaper and with the seniors a brief or a medipad as, as shame. They don't know that there's a role reversal, whereas with a parent there is - they've had 60, 70, 80 years of taking care of their whole self to be looked at by a caregiver as a baby is very it's very, it's demeaning, it's hurtful, and it's, it sets up, I think, a different perspective with care, right? You're not there to baby the adult. You're there to support and advocate for them.

Chris Cooksey: Yeah, that makes sense. And you mentioned selfcare earlier. I'm a big believer in selfcare as, as you are Neela, and the importance, if your mind's not right, it's very hard to provide the support needed for others, so maybe just touch on why it is so important from your perspective.

Neela White: You know what, I think just with everyday life, outside of being a caregiver, we know what we feel like when we're not eating well, we start to feel drained and sort of punky, we know what we feel like when we're not sleeping well, you already wake up sort of nerves on the skin, edgy, irritable, you know what you're like when you go through days of feeling down or blue, and you have a lot of negative self talk, you know, all of those things, you don't feel your best. So, let alone putting on daily challenges onto not healthy habits, whereas, if you can say I'm going to take 10 minutes, so instead of scrolling through Instagram or looking at Facebook or any of those things, I'm going to take 10 minutes, put my phone down, walk once around the block, deeply walk, look around at the beautiful autumn leaves and start changing the habits because I think, and I completely understand this, one of the things that we're prone to do is caregivers is you constantly say, I don't have time. I think when you break down time, that not having time is an emotional feeling because you're so stressed out. Whereas if you were to actually look at just how you can track your phone usage, if you were to take a look at your phone usage, could you find 10 minutes twice a day to walk around the block, to meditate, to read something, to listen to music and start to jiggle? Anything that knocks off, defrays that stress, right?

Chris Cooksey: That totally makes sense. Now, is there anything else you'd like to leave us with on this important topic?

Neela White: You know, I hate to belay COVID, I mean, we're past it, but I think a lot of things were brought to light, and that's very much mental health and the negative impact that social isolation and being within four walls and not having social interaction and engagement had on everyone in some varying forms. I think we need to take that annd realize how important it is to continue with all of those things that make us feel good; exercise, eating properly, sleeping, de-stressing, going out with friends, talking about problems when you have them. I mean, this whole idea of they might think less of me if I say I'm just so stressed out or if I burst out crying, I think we have to get through that feeling of somebody's going to look at me as lesser. And I think if we can gradually continue to do that, I think we just become more wholly accepting of our feelings, dealing with them proactively instead of letting it bottle up and it is a discipline, a habit. It does take time. Especially if it's something we're not comfortable doing or we've set ourselves up to believe we should be feeling guilty if we take time for ourselves, but it is so important just for your all your whole health, both physical and emotional and mental.

Chris Cooksey: That makes total sense to me. I know some of the group chats that my friends and I have now, let's just say they've changed over the years from what we used to talk about. So, totally makes sense to me. Well, I'd like to thank you for taking the time today, Neela. I know you'll be back soon. As mentioned, Neela’s been on many times before, and seniors and social isolation was briefly mentioned in this episode and there was an episode that we recorded with Neela to that end. So check that out in the archives Neela has been on many times, talking about elder care and elder abuse and when the kids move out and the solo senior and lots of other great topics in the feed, so check those out as well. And Neela, hope you'll join us again soon.

Neela White: Thank you so much for having me, Chris. Take care and happy Halloween to everyone.

Chris Cooksey: Alrighty, reach out to us at Subscribe to The Advantaged Investor on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Please contact your advisor with any questions you have. On behalf of Raymond James and The Advantage Investor, thank you for taking the time to listen today. Until next time, stay well.

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