We are pleased to introduce you to the life and thoughts of Rick Lauber; one of our most valuable collaborators.
1. What is your own caregiving experience?
I served as a co-caregiver for both my aging mother and father (Mom had Parkinson’s disease and Leukemia while Dad had Alzheimer’s disease) before they passed away. I helped to move them repeatedly, drove them to medical appointments, served as Dad’s Joint Guardian and Alternate Trustee, handled their day-to-day banking and financial investments, picked up medications, and so on. There was no shortage of things for me to do and this was all very new and unexpected for me.
- Why did you write your own book, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians?
I wrote my book as a resource for prospective, new, and current caregivers. Following my own caregiving experience, I realized that I had a story to tell and, in sharing this, I could very likely help the many, many individuals stepping into a caregiver’s shoes. I have discussed a number of issues relevant to caregivers no matter where they are and no matter what condition they are dealing with and provided local, provincial, and national website links where caregivers can find help and support.
- What’s the greatest caregiver myth?
That it won’t happen to me! While aging, illness, and dying are not pleasant subjects of conversation, with our country’s rapidly-aging population, everybody has the potential to either become a caregiver or a care recipient.
- What’s the most common question you get from caregivers?
“Where can I find help with ________?” While caregiving resources (at various levels) do exist across the country, it seems like caregivers are often overwhelmed with the task at hand and do not know where to start looking.
- What’s the one question you wish caregivers would ask but often don’t?
“How can I take care of myself while caregiving?” I often witness caregivers experiencing increased emotional, physical, mental, and/or financial stress from providing care for an aging loved one. Throughout the process, caregivers often focus entirely on their jobs and completely forget their own needs. Taking care of oneself (or taking respite) can prove to be very beneficial for caregivers to avoid complete burnout.
- First thing every caregiver should do before embarking on the journey?
Prepare (as much as possible) by learning as much as possible about the specific health condition and what to expect. Talk with other family members and determine caregiving roles (who is willing to do what and how much?). Read your loved one’s Will (know where it is and ensure it is current). Identify other sources of support (think outside the box here – past medical professionals, caregivers can find help from senior’s associations, hospital day programs, friends, churches, community groups, senior-friendly businesses, nursing students, etc.).
- A caregiver gets stranded on an island and they can only have one book. Which one do you recommend?
Can I recommend my own book?!?! In all seriousness, I would probably recommend “Robinson Crusoe” (by Daniel Defoe). What better story to read when stranded on a desert island than one of a man who did just that himself for 30 years?
- Final words of encouragement for our network of family caregivers:
Not everyone can be a caregiver – what you have chosen to do is to be admired and appreciated. Caregiving has its many challenges, but you can make the job easier by balancing your caregiving responsibilities with your own time, life, family, and career. Set achievable caregiving roles (including limits on what you can and cannot do). Manage your own stress. Take a break from your daily caregiving and do something “just for you”. Allow yourself to laugh.