Denise M. Brown is the founder and owner of the fantastic site, CareGiving.com. She is the author of several books including “The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey” and “Take More Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers.”
Where and when do you feel most competent? I feel competent when I’m organizing and delegating. I also like to find efficiencies and like to match the strengths of individuals with what needs to be done.
With what do you struggle? In caregiving, I struggle to make sure I don’t overreact while not under-reacting. Before Christmas, my mom had the stomach flu. After Christmas, she had a UTI. Trying to understand what she needed to feel better felt tough. She lost 15 pounds in two weeks, which was a huge red flag for me. Is her recovery from the stomach flu taking a long time? Is something more serious happening? These questions led to finding the UTI. The path to the UTI, though, had me all over the place. But, I don’t want to panic. I want to keep her comfortable without doing too much, like hospitalizations.
What one thing do you wish you had more time for? I think my struggle is more about my energy level than time. I’m taking care of both my parents while running a small business, which operates 24/7. I can carve out time. I can’t muster up the energy for fun. I really wish I had more energy right now.
With what do you wish you had more help? I wish I had more help cleaning the house.
Where do you find support? I blog on my website, CareGiving.com, which provides a great deal of support for me. The members of my website are very kind and caring. My younger sister loves me dearly and that feels like the best kind of support. My brothers provide a wonderful sense of stability–they are there for me, regardless of what happens.
What is your best habit? I call my mom every day. My parents live nearby in a retirement community. Work sometimes keeps me from being available in person for them every day. Calling every day calms me. Interestingly enough, my mom and I battled for years over how much I should call her. She always wanted me to call her every day. I wanted more freedom to call a few times a week. Now, we both love the every day calls.
What is your dream retirement? My dream retirement is living somewhere sunny so I can ride my bike and swim as often and as much I’d like.
What would you like to see employers do more of to help caregivers? I surveyed working family caregivers last year to better understand their experiences at work. Working family caregivers worry so much about talking about their caregiving experiences at work. They worry that talking about caregiving will jeopardize a promotion, their jobs. If they can talk about it, though, they feel so much better. And, when they do talk about it, they connect to resources and support. I’d love employers to create a comfortable environment for their employees to talk about caregiving. I’d also love employers to create flexible work schedules because that’s what a working family caregiver needs–flexibility. Working family caregivers worry so much about talking about their caregiving experiences at work. @caregiving Click To Tweet
What would you like to see medical professionals do more of to support caregivers? I’d love medical professionals to effectively refer family caregivers to help and support. Often times, health care professionals just leave the family caregiver hanging when they could be the ones who throw them the life line that leads to solutions and comfort.
Family caregiver stress is an epidemic in our communities. I’d love health care professionals to understand this. Once they do, they’ll really work to help a family caregiver. And, it’s not complicated or expensive to help family caregivers. Just connect them with others in a similar situation who understand what’s like. When a family caregiver feels understood, a family caregiver feels empowered. Family caregiver stress is an epidemic in our communities. @caregiving Click To Tweet
Who are your heroines? I’ve followed Joy Mangano for years and am fascinated by her ability to create such a successful business. I and am anxious to see the movie, “Joy.” (I need to muster up the energy for that.) I admire Eleanor Roosevelt. I also really admire my mom. She is quick to forgive and always ready to battle for better.
What do you admire in/about other caregivers? I admire their perseverance, their resilience and their staying power.
What is your motto? Every worry needs a plan. Simple is best. Use your words effectively.
Caregiving: a blessing or a burden? I’m blessed to be able to care for my parents during their last years. I’m burdened by my family’s dysfunction. I have a sibling who chooses to create drama and chaos rather than helping. I’m also burdened by the lack of our country’s effective solutions to help and support all family caregivers.