Working Daughter Interview: Paula Kiger

BGP Headshot croppedDon’t ask caregiver and social media specialist Paula Kiger to fill out any more medical forms. But if you need a little empathy, give her a call or check out her blog.

Where and when do you feel most competent? I feel most competent when I am writing and editing. I also enjoy sharing the lessons I have learned about social media with people who are just starting out and are not sure how to begin.

With what do you struggle? I struggle with confidence. I also struggle with choices I (and my spouse) have made that have resulted in a lot of debt; it often feels like we are never going to claw our way out of it.

What one thing do you wish you had more time for? Travel – I wish I had more time (and resources) to travel. It’s my favorite activity.

With what do you wish you had more help? House cleaning, definitely house cleaning!

Where do you find support? I find support from close friends. I also am very active in the fitness community, in real life and online. There’s no shortage of support and motivation there!

What is your best habit? My tendency to think twice, and double check details is something that helps me be thorough (when it doesn’t paralyze me by slowing me down too much!).

If you knew then, what you know now… I struggle with the fact that I chose to leave New York City to move back to Florida. (I moved there in 1989 after living in Florida most of my life and moved back to Florida in 1992 when my husband and I got married.) It’s the place where I feel most alive and where I feel I am my best self.

What is your dream retirement? Well, it would involve being of sound mind and body still. It would involve having the financial freedom to volunteer for causes I love.

What would you like to see employers do more of to help caregivers? How long do we have here? Before I was a caregiver of my father-in-law, I encountered many issues in my full-time job, in the form of an Executive Director who said (slight paraphrase here), “I am concerned that you put your family first.” He presented no performance issues that were linked to his belief that I put my family first. It was a no-win situation, emotionally and professionally.

What would you like to see medical professionals do more of to support caregivers? STOP MAKING US FILL OUT FORMS, BY HAND, WITH REPETITIVE INFORMATION, REPEATEDLY. COORDINATE WITH EACH OTHER! (Sorry to “yell.”) I continue to be amazed at the reams of paperwork we caregivers must complete at physician/medical offices. It’s not JUST about paper, though. Even offices that are modern and hand us iPads on which we complete the info ask for details we have provided repeatedly. (Note: I know there are some apps that help with this issue….)

And this is more general but things like: make sure entrances and exits of your offices/facilities are wheelchair-friendly. We caregivers sometimes forget our third arm and have to open a traditional door while navigating a wheelchair and carrying other items.

Who are your heroines? Anne Frank, because she made a difference through her words, her courage, and her optimism.

Several bosses I have had who gave me honest feedback that was difficult to hear at the time but professionally helpful in the long run.

My mom.

My mother in law, who became blind in her 50s but triumphed by making a career change from nurse to author and truly made a difference by sharing her experiences with others.

What do you admire in/about other caregivers? a) their organizational skills b) the ones who manage to have their bra on, hair done, and faces made up when they go out into the world! c) their patience.

What is your motto? “Every problem has a solution.”

What is your superpower? Still looking for that! All kidding aside: I have been told over the years that my spiritual gift is “empathy.” I don’t know if empathy is a superpower, but I do think the ability (and willingness) to try to put yourself in another’s shoes helps you be a better world citizen and, in general, a better person.

Caregiving: a blessing or a burden? Despite all the parts that are burdensome, in the bigger picture it’s a blessing.

 

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