Join us for our Caregivers Out Loud podcast! A space to connect, listen and learn with other caregivers. You won’t want to miss these insightful, authentic and heart-centered conversations with caregivers that highlight the joys, trials, and self-discoveries that come along with this rewarding and taxing position.
Subscribe on your favourite streaming channel and explore what it looks like to have support and balance through the stories of inspiring caregivers.
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- Season One Trailer
- Episode 1: Accessing Caregiver Support Networks
- Episode 2: Courageous Conversations in Caregiving
- Episode 3: Why Speaking Up for Your Needs Matters
- Episode 4: How to Make Time for Yourself with Self-Care and Boundaries
- Season Two Trailer
- Episode 5: Grief as a Healing Gift
- Episode 6: Grief is a Human Experience
- Episode 7: The Gift of Letting Go
- Episode 8: Friends Caring for Friends, A Circle of Care Approach
- Episode 9: Grieving Before a Death
- Episode 10: Juggling Work and Family Caregiving
- Episode 11: How to Use Writing for Healing and Self-Care
- Episode 12: Moving from Home to a Care Facility – Next Steps
- Episode 13: Facility Placement – Managing the Transition to Long Term Care
- Episode 14: Creativity as a Form of Self Care
- Episode 15: Music as a Caregiving Tool
- Episode 16: The Dementia Journey: A Caregiver’s Toolkit
- Episode 17: Caregiving from a Distance
- Episode 18: Financial Decision Making for Caregivers
- Episode 19: Full-Time Caregiver and Mother: How Jean Ellison Balances Two Essential Roles
- Episode 20: How Brooke Ellison Maintains Dignity and Individuality as a Full-Time Care Recipient
- Episode 21: A Contemporary Approach to Palliative and Hospice Care for Family Caregivers and Their Recipients
- Episode 22: Supporting Young Caregivers: The Overlooked Caregiver Demographic
Bill Israel, Host
It is with great enthusiasm we extend a warm welcome to our host for Caregivers Out Loud 2021 episodes. Bill Israel will be leading heartfelt, connective conversations with caregivers in our second season. Bill has a wealth of experience and knowledge, here is a snapshot of who he is:
- A family caregiver and community connector
- An ordained United Methodist minister and a trained hospital chaplain, Bill is an Honorary Life Member of the United Way of Greater Victoria.
- A Certified Facilitator of the INTENSIVE JOURNAL® (IJ) program and assumed the role of Director of the International Advance Studies Program for the I J program in 2019.
- A leader of public Advance Care Planning workshops (approved by VIHA)
- A weekly facilitator (since 2015) for INTENSIVE JOURNAL workshops for inmates at the William Head Institution, residents of the innovative Therapeutic Recovery Community (OUR PLACE) and for family and friend caregivers in BC with Family Caregivers of BC
- A committed, connected and engaged volunteer in social services within his community and in 2018 recipient the Valued Elder Recognition Award from the Elder Care Foundation of BC and the Institute of Life-Long Learning at the University of Victoria
Season One Trailer
Welcome to “Caregivers Out Loud”, powered by Family Caregivers of British Columbia, hosted by Jodie McDonald.
We’ll explore how the role of a caregiver can be rewarding, but also that it’s emotionally, psychologically, and physically taxing. Through sharing these stories, we’ll bring you perspective, connection, and ensuring that you have support and balance by inspiring caregivers, out loud.
The first season is focused on caregiver well being, how getting the support you need is vital, and how to look after yourself.
Episode 1: Accessing Caregiver Support Networks
Today, we take a look at how few of us can “go it alone” as caregivers. Having relationships with friends or organizations can boost your emotional strength for the marathon of caregiving. We’ll examine different sources of support available to caregivers, how to overcome challenges that prevent you from reaching out for support, and what it is like to really acknowledge your role as a caregiver. You’ll hear from caregivers who struggled with overwhelm before reaching out to access different kinds of support and the difference it made to their lives.
Estimated Listening Time: 27 minutes
Episode 2: Courageous Conversations in Caregiving
Caregiving brings all sorts of challenges that call forth growth, and communication can be one of them. In today’s episode, we hear about why good communication with family members and healthcare providers is so important, and often difficult for caregivers. In your role as caregiver, you have to speak up for the needs of the care receiver as well as your own. You need to think about the future and what is in everyone’s best interests. This can be especially tough within families.
Estimated Listening Time: 24 minutes
Episode 3: Why Speaking Up for Your Needs Matters
In a healthy relationship, the needs of both people are important – it’s a two-way street. Good communication is the key to making sure everyone’s needs are met. Whether it is between you and a spouse, or with your friends, successful relationships are all about communication. In today’s episode, we share how for caregivers, relationships with others can be more complex than usual. It can be hard to find ways to speak up for your own needs. If you are the primary caregiver, recognizing your own need for support might be difficult – particularly if the care receiver is uncomfortable with the idea – but still, you need to make these choices for yourself.
Estimated Listening Time: 29 minutes
Episode 4: How to Make Time for Yourself with Self-Care and Boundaries
When was the last time you felt truly rested? For caregivers, making time for self-care can feel almost impossible with all the other demands on your time. And yet, it is an essential skill to learn in your role as a caregiver. In our final episode of the season, we look to why self-care is a fundamental part of being a caregiver. As a caregiver, you are often willing to make sacrifices and feel a sense of commitment. However, without self-care, how can you sustain caring for your family or friend and not run the risk of burning out?
Estimated Listening Time: 28 minutes
Season Two Trailer
Powered by Family Caregivers of British Columbia and hosted by Bill Israel, “Caregivers Out Loud” explores the ways in which the role of a caregiver can be both rewarding while also emotionally, psychologically, and physically taxing. By sharing the stories of caregivers, we bring you perspective and connection, and ensure that you have support and balance from diverse caregivers and people who support caregivers.
The second season touches on topics of grief and loss, self-awareness and personal growth, and spiritual connections and grounding. We hear how the peaks and valleys of caregiving become more manageable when we are able to broaden our perspective, be curious and connect to personal values.
Episode 5: Grief as a Healing Gift
Even after the death of a care recipient, the relationship continues on. The caregiver still has the memories and feelings associated with their care recipient, without their physical presence. In this episode, Pat shares how her relationship with her husband (also named Pat) lives on following his death through a spiritual connection. She feels his presence in her home and sees signs in nature that let her know that he is close by. You will gain insight into Pat’s caregiving journey, awareness of the caregiving role, and the unfolding responsibilities; including end of life care and her current caregiving stages of grief, bereavement, and honouring her husband and life-partner.
Estimated Listening Time: 13 minutes
Episode 6: Grief is a Human Experience
Grief is a human experience and it often feels messy or is accompanied by not knowing if you are ‘doing it right’. Grief and loss can feel isolating. And many caregivers share different examples of grief, such as grieving the loss of your old life during caregiving and then also grieving the loss of the person you are caregiving for.
Normal does not exist during grief and in episode 6, we chat with Tricia Wallace, a Clinical Counsellor with Parkinson Society BC about the topic of caregiver grief and loss and suggestions on how to work with these emotions.
Estimated Listening Time: 18 minutes
Episode 7: The Gift of Letting Go
Becoming a caregiver can creep up on you. Maybe it starts with dropping by your mom’s house to do her laundry or taking your dad to a doctor’s appointment or delivering groceries to your friend. Gradually, you find yourself doing more and more as the person you are caring for needs more support. You may not even realize it, you are making a commitment to care for someone else.
In this episode we speak with Katrina who shares her experience of caregiving for her mother with Dementia. Katrina has strong values rooted in family and supporting family, which led her to care for her mother at home. Katrina’s episode is honest, raw and real. It is very inspiring to hear despite her caregiver challenges and lessons, she evolved and deepened her spiritual connection with self and with her mother.
Estimated Listening Time: 15 minutes
Episode 8: Friends Caring for Friends, A Circle of Care Approach
Have you ever said this to a struggling caregiver – “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help?’ The offering has good intent, but many times people say it because they don’t know how to help, are uncomfortable, or want to be polite. And although 29 percent of caregivers in BC are in distress, you will still hear caregivers say: ‘I don’t need any help’ or ‘It’s okay, I’m fine’
Today we hear from Jim and how he supported his friend Art and Grace during Grace’s diagnoses and disease. Jim shares how in the process of supporting his friends, and at first it wasn’t with great success, he learned a lot about himself. We talk about the FCBC Circle of Care model and how it worked for Jim and his support group
Estimated Listening Time: 21 minutes
Episode 9: Grieving Before a Death
When we think about grief, we often think of it as something that happens following a death. However, grief can begin long before death arrives. The grieving process can start as soon as a caregiver is aware that death is a likelihood or once death is on the horizon. Many caregivers dealing with an impending death will experience overwhelm, anxiety and dread. As well, before the death of a care recipient, caregivers grieve the loss of the person’s abilities and independence, loss of their cognitive abilities, loss of future dreams, loss of stability and the loss of their identity and the caregivers. Anticipatory loss is not just about accepting the future death, but of the many losses already occurring as an illness progresses
Courtney Doherty is a registered clinical counsellor with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors. She currently works with Parkinson Society British Columbia. In this episode we talk about different forms and stages of loss and grief. And we talk about how a caregiver can plan for loss.
Estimated Listening Time: 16 minutes
Episode 10: Juggling Work and Family Caregiving
28% of Canadians or 1.8 million people provided care to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, disability or aging need in the past year. Three-quarters of this group (6.1 million) were employed at the time, accounting for 35% of ALL employed Canadians. More and more people are becoming caregivers and a lot of these caregivers are juggling employment and caregiving.
In today’s episode, we hear from Rachel, who not only witnessed at a young age her mother be a caregiver, but then found herself caring for her Mother in her adult life. Rachel is part of the ‘sandwich generation’, currently raising and nurturing her own child and family, maintaining a full-time job and caregiving for her mother in Ontario. Rachel is an employed caregiver. When we use the term ‘employed caregiver’ we do not mean someone with a formal job as a paid caregiver, but rather someone that manages paid employment and at the same time is responsible for caregiving for a family or friend.
Estimated Listening Time: 19 minutes
Episode 11: How to Use Writing for Healing and Self-Care
Research shows that family caregivers who list self-care as a priority can better provide care, are at lower risk of burnout and becoming ill, and find more joy in their role as a caregiver. Starting with small acts of self-care can create the opportunity to see the benefits. Calling a friend who lifts you up, accepting help, finding five minutes for a cup of tea in silence, or closing your eyes and breathing for 10 breaths are all acts of self-care.
Today we’ll hear Rick’s story, who shares his caregiving experience with both of his parents. Like many caregivers, Rick didn’t expect to be thrown into a caregiving role when he was. He quickly took on the many roles needed to ensure his parents were safe and well-cared for. Caregiving became a full-time job and it was during this time that he started to see his own health and wellness decline. He turned to writing to help him process his experience and feelings and this became a positive and reliant self-care strategy for him.
In sharing his caregiving story, we hope you enjoy and feel supported by Rick’s point of voice and maybe even consider your own favourite moments of self-care.
Estimated Listening Time: 15 minutes
Episode 12: Moving from Home to a Care Facility – Next Steps
Once the decision has been made that placement in a care community is necessary, caregivers are often faced with the “what next” question. Because there are different levels of care and each community has a different ‘personality’, it’s very important to be as prepared as possible for the transition.
In this episode, we chat with Kathy Ajas, who for the last 17 years has worked in the retirement industry, including independent living, assisted living, and short and long-term care. Together, we explore questions caregivers have when considering moving to a new level of care with their care recipient.
Estimated Listening Time: 13 minutes
Episode 13: Facility Placement: Managing the Transition to Long-Term Care
For many people as they age, living as long as they can in their own home is ideal. We love our comforts, our routine, and our independence. But there comes a time when the decision to have more support or to move into long-term care becomes a reality, whether because of a medical condition or safety concerns. This decision can be a significant challenge as there are many factors to consider when needing additional support.
In this episode, Janet Power, Executive Director of Sunrise Senior Living in Victoria BC, shares great information around transitioning to residential care and steps for gaining more support for the care recipient and caregiver.
Estimated Listening Time: 20 minutes
Episode 14: Creativity as a Form of Self Care
Engaging with creativity is a form of self-care that can benefit both a caregiver and a care recipient in many ways. In 2015, psychologist and art therapist Dr. Cathy Malchiodi cited multiple studies confirming that being creative can increase positive emotions, lessen depressive symptoms, reduce stress, decrease anxiety, and even improve immune system functioning. A 2016 study in The Journal of Positive Psychology supported these earlier findings, concluding that spending time on creative goals during a day is associated with higher activated positive affect (PA) on that day. Positive affect is the extent to which people experience positive moods, such as joy, happiness, and optimism. Higher positive effects lower stress and expand our perspective so that we notice more possibilities in our lives.
In this episode, Bill chats with Faye Melling, a caregiver for her adult daughter. Faye talks about how being creative has helped her deal with some of the ups and downs in her caregiving journey. She also shares how her daughter is using artistic expression as a way to deal with some of the challenges she’s experiencing due to her condition.
Estimated Listening Time: 20 minutes
Episode 15: Music as a Caregiving Tool
How can we break down barriers and humanize the caregiving process? Through the power of pure emotion, unlocked through music.
No matter what your musical background is, music used intentionally can be beneficial to improve health and well-being. Not only for the care recipient, but for you as well, as a caregiver.
You will hear how music enhances the care experience. Bev Foster, a co-founder of the Room 217 Foundation and its Executive Director shares her experience caring for her dad and also for her grandmother who journeyed through dementia. Bev incorporated music into his palliative care and found that it was a very helpful tool both for her father and for herself. So much so that Bev started a foundation to share music as a caregiving tool with other caregivers.
Estimated Listening Time 21 minutes
Episode 16: The Dementia Journey: A Caregiver’s Toolkit
The experience of living and caring for someone with dementia is not always a universal experience and there can be different situations and patterns, however. There are some similar challenges caregivers face when trying to communicate with care recipients who are living with dementia. In this episode, Bill Israel speaks with Amelia Gillies, a Support and Education Coordinator with the Alzheimer’s Society of BC about caring for someone living with dementia. Amelia shares stories she’s heard on the support line, and her own personal experience caregiving for people with dementia. Listen in as she provides education and suggestions for you to try when you’re caregiving.
Estimated Listening Time: 20 minutes
Episode 17: Caregiving from a Distance
Many caregivers are supporting care recipients from a long distance. This form of caregiving brings with it a unique set of challenges as we try to provide support from afar. In this episode, Bill guides a panel of long distance caregivers, Mary Chan, Karla Wilson, and Victoria Lougheed, through a dynamic conversation filled with positive energy and laughter. The foursome came together to talk about their challenges of caring while not being able to physically be there, and to share some insights including some beautiful moments along the path that have made their caregiving journey a memorable experience.
Estimated Listening Time: 35 minutes
Episode 18: Financial Decision Making for Caregivers
At some point in our lives, we’ll all be faced with a tough decision we didn’t see coming. In most caregiving situations, people enter the caregiving role with love and passion. Then pretty soon, they begin to see some of the bigger implications, such as how finances are a big factor in the choices that affect the care recipient OR the caregiver themself. In today’s episode, we tackle some of the anxiety and emotional stress for caregivers that come with making important financial decisions and answer the question, how do we make good decisions during difficult times?
Estimated Listening Time: 30 Minutes
Episode 19: Full-Time Caregiver and Mother: How Jean Ellison Balances Two Essential Roles
How do you honour both yourself and your family member when giving full-time care?
In this episode, Jean Ellison speaks about her experience as a full-time caregiver to her daughter, Brooke, whose story of life as a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic is well-known and inspirational.
For more than 30 years, Jean Ellison has balanced the roles of full-time caregiver and mother. While it was always clear to Jean that Brooke would live at home and not in a care facility, accepting her new reality and career trajectory was not a simple process. Jean strives to find happiness and laughter in every day, treating each one as a clean slate for both herself and her daughter.
Estimated Listening Time: 20 Minutes
Episode 20: How Brooke Ellison Maintains Dignity and Individuality as a Full-Time Care Recipient
How would you retain your sense of self if you required full-time care?
When Brooke Ellison was 11 years old, a car accident left her a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic. Her mother Jean stepped into the role of full-time caregiver, and their familial and caregiving relationship balance has continued for over thirty years.
Dr. Brooke Ellison graduated from Harvard, wrote two memoirs, and is a frequent public speaker on resilience, leadership, and hope. In this episode, she reflects on her experiences as a care recipient—both then and now. Specifically, Brooke shares how she navigates disability and how her definition of this term has changed and grown over the years.
Estimated Listening Time: 22 Minutes
Episode 21: A Contemporary Approach to Palliative and Hospice Care for Family Caregivers and Their Recipients
How can you build a healthier relationship with death and dying that will benefit both caregiver and recipient?
Aaron Yukich is an end-of-life doula, mindfulness practitioner, and hospice care worker. In his work with the Family Caregivers of BC Caregiver Support Line, Aaron incorporates meaning-making and self-reflection into his sessions with caregivers, helping them uncover new ways to provide support to their care recipients without overlooking their own well-being.
The end-of-life process has many varied aspects. Aaron helps caregivers navigate this intricate spiritual and emotional experience with grace, through activities and mindsets that can offer comfort and even joy. He also guides them in practical considerations, such as establishing often-overlooked financial and personal mental health support structures.
Estimated Listening Time: 20 Minutes
Episode 22: Supporting Young Caregivers: The Overlooked Caregiver Demographic
What difficulties develop when a child becomes a caregiver to their own parent?
Studies show that young caregivers make up at least 12% of Canadian youth. One of these young people is Kristie Mar. At just 16 years old, Kristie set aside a significant part of her adolescence to become the sole carer for her mother, who was navigating schizophrenia and anorexia. The medical professionals, counsellors, and groups from whom she sought assistance, however, never gave her the title of “caregiver.” As such, it took her years to think of herself in this way or discover the resources that search term could unlock.
Today, Kristie is a medical student and an active participant in this community. She wants to help increase awareness and resources for fellow adolescents who are thrust, so often unprepared and unsupported, into the role of caregiver for their family members.
Estimated Time: 26 Minutes