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"We're Doing Aging Wrong." A conversation with author, Stephanie Erickson

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
November 22, 2020 11:59 am

"We're Doing Aging Wrong." A conversation with author, Stephanie Erickson

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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November 22, 2020 11:59 am

Stephanie Erickson ( MSW LCSW), draws on her 25+ year career to offer easy to understand guidance to millions of family caregivers of aging loved ones. https://stephanieerickson.ca/book/   Her new book is: 

PLAN FOR AGING WELL

Building a team to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support as we age

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Call 866-WIN-ASIA or to see chickens and other animals to donate, go to crittercampaign.org. Welcome to Hope for the Caregiver, I am Peter Rosenberg and this is the nation's largest podcast for the family caregiver. How are you doing? How are you home now? What's going on with you as a caregiver?

This is what the show is all about. Help strengthening those 65 million people here in the United States who are serving as a family caregiver, whether it's taking care of an aging loved one, special needs child, somebody who's dealing with trauma, somebody who has had some form of alcoholism or addiction issues, mental illness, traumatic brain injury, whatever the impairment, there's always a caregiver. There's about 8 million of them in Canada. And it's important for you to remember why we're talking about Canada today because I have an author on with me today who's going to talk about her new book and her lengthy practice in working with families of dealing with all kinds of these, particularly with Alzheimer's.

That's where she has a lot of specialty in. But before I bring her on, I always have to introduce himself, the man with the plan, the man who's got the flowing mane that causes no pain. He is John Butler, the Count of Mighty Disco. John, how are you feeling? Oh, I am just grand as always.

How do you find yourself? You know, I'm sitting on a rolling pin. Now let me explain. Let me explain. Yeah, yeah, because I have questions.

I truly am. I truly am sitting on a rolling pin because my physical therapist told me to do that after my knee surgery. I've got the muscles and all were really pretty knotted up. And she said, look, if you sit on a rolling pin when you're sitting, because that's what it hurts the most when I'm sitting. She said that'll help diffuse those muscles. So I'm literally sitting on a rolling pin.

Well, we do defer to experts when we haven't. Yeah. It's just an odd sensation. And I did my broadcast yesterday standing up just because my leg was hurting.

So if you hear me fidgeting around, don't take it personal. But anyway, we do have a very special guest today. And her publicist reached out to me and they wanted to talk about her new book coming out. And she had me at social worker because I love social workers. I love what they do. I love their heart, their passion and their skill set.

They are in the trenches with people. She's bringing this lengthy career as a social worker and a licensed clinical social worker as well. And her name is Stephanie Erickson and her new book is called Plan for Aging Well.

She's in Quebec and she's from California, but she she married into Quebec and now she's calling us from Montreal. And we're glad to have her with us. And Stephanie, so welcome. Welcome to the show. Thanks so much, Peter, for having me on.

I really appreciate it. Well, bonsoir. That's about all I know. My French is weak. My Spanish is pretty good. And I can speak a few other things.

I know how to say where's the bathroom in 27 languages. That's very important. Yes.

All right. So you've got this new book, Plan for Aging Well. I want to get into that in just a moment. Tell us a little about your practice and about your background, what got you into this and what brings you to this place today where you are going to talk about this. But how did you get into this in the first place? Well, I got into social work accidentally, actually, because I had wanted to be an English teacher for high schoolers. And when I was in university, I got a job as a teacher's assistant at a group home for foster kids. And I became very interested in their experience and what was getting in the way of them being able to study and learn.

And then I started learning more about family dynamics and impoverished neighborhoods and all of these things that led to these kids falling into the system. And then that's when I went off into a social work and got my master's. So I worked for, I don't know, 20 years. No, I guess 17 years in California as a social worker.

So quite a long time there and lots of different environments, youth protection. I worked as a therapist. I worked with high schoolers, palliative care, domestic violence, homeless shelter, a lot of different work.

And then, as you said, met somebody, ended up in Montreal. And since I've been here for 15 years, I've been focusing on individuals that have dementia and working with that person and their family. So the social worker component came first before the counselor part of it, of your journey? Yeah.

Yeah. I mean, I guess when I was doing my internships, yeah, they were both social work based. I guess what, and I was already licensed to be a therapist, but I wasn't really doing that in the beginning. And then when I went off on my own, I had my own business when I was in California. And then I was doing counseling.

I had a bunch of different contracts with different nonprofit agencies and was doing certain hours at certain locations. And that's when I really started as a therapist. But when you're a social worker, even when you're a therapist, your approach, I think, is different.

It's not the same traditional psychotherapy. I really have always looked at the person in their environment. I've never really been about, you know, only talking to a person about just their own internal experience, because we are in a community, whether we want to be or not, we're impacted by everybody around us. So no matter what kind of work I've done, that's always been my approach. Well, I have a brother who's a licensed clinical social worker, and I have a great deal of respect for the field. And then my mother was into social work.

And then I've also got one of my closest longtime friends who's got her MSW, Master of Social Work. I have a great deal of respect for the work that you do. And so when you and I started talking about this, I was just really quite moved by your background and all that you do. What prompted you to write this book?

And let me set that up. You started writing in 2013 and then raising family and kids and everything else got in the way. Then all of a sudden this thing came back with a sense of urgency in 2019. What happened and what prompted you to take on this particular book topic and everything else that you're doing? Was it something in your practice or what happened? I think it was just the ongoing frustration and then finally having kids that were becoming more independent, where I could actually have some head space to think about something other than just, you know, feeding my kids, taking them to their activities, doing schoolwork and just doing my regular day to day job. The part of it was just I began to have some space in my brain and then just started feeling compelled that the direct work I was doing, one on one with families, although it's wonderful and I'm very satisfied with it and I know I'm helping people on a one on one basis. For me, just it wasn't enough because the system, as I said, I go with the person and environment, the system in which people are supported and cared for, the medical and health care system is lacking in so many ways.

And so I could only do so much with people one on one because they were stuck within this system that wasn't functioning well. And I'm talking about the US, too, actually. This isn't just a Canadian based book. It's about North America and the way in which caregiving knows no nationalities. There is no wall between caregivers in countries.

You don't have to have a passport when it comes to caregiving. It has a it is no respecter of anybody, any nationality, any religion, anything else. We're all in this at some point. We're either going to need one or be one. So you are wise in your approach on this. Did you did you feel that. There was in your practice with the people you were treating, did you feel that you were.

It was it was almost an alien concept to create this understanding that they're in this with the team approach, they're in this with the group, but that they're not just out there lone wolfing. Was that something that that surprised a lot of the people in your practice to realize that or what happened there? I don't think it surprised people as much as brought relief because caregivers tend to feel like they are in it alone and they feel like they should have all the answers. There's a lot of shame and embarrassment for whatever reason, for people asking for help. We see that a lot in the area of addiction, in the area of mental illness or when people are victims of domestic violence or abuse and in all of these areas. Somehow there's some shame associated with struggling. And so I think when I approach with people telling them they're not in this alone and in fact, they're being neglected in some ways by the system that's surrounding them, by everyone not getting on the same page, communicating with one another proactively, setting up caregiving plans that include everybody equally. I think it was relief more from the caregiver like, oh, finally, someone gets it. Someone is hearing me and not only are they understanding, they're going to help me execute it and put this into place. Yeah, I would concur that as a caregiver myself that there is a sense of embarrassment to ask for help because you feel like you should be able to do this.

There's a sense of embarrassment of your situation that has gotten so out of control and so forth. Been there, done that. I mean, I'm the I'm the crash test W of caregivers. If you could fail at it, I failed at it.

And and so what I've determined to do for myself is to help speak into that and give people hopefully a little bit more courage to raise that hand and say, hey, look, I need some help here. And you you started off with this book and you one of the things you say in this book is, hey, we're we're doing aging wrong. We're doing wrong. Yeah. Unpack that. Unpack that. And by the way, if we have to go to a break, we'll just we'll come back and we'll do it, but just unpack it.

All right. Yeah, that's the first line of my book. We're doing aging wrong. And what I mean by that is we have an insular approach to aging. We look at aging in a negative context. There's a lot of of ageism out there where people don't see the value in an individual as they get older. We shove people aside just when they need us the most, have them go to a long term care residence. And I'm not against residences. That's not what I mean at all. But the residents, the way they're structured, people are kind of deserted once they're there and they don't allow for healing and coming to terms with our life and our expectations of life and what we've done wrong and what we've done right. And helping people process all of that.

We're forgetting all of that. We're just focusing on here's an ailment. Here's an illness. Let's get a surgery. Let's take this medication and then we're done. And there's so much more to who we are as individuals.

So my book really is about looking at a person's heart, body, mind, soul and seeing all the different things that we need as a person as we age in all of those areas. And then how can we create a team approach to make sure that all parts of us are cared for? Well, I've certainly seen the trend that after you reach a certain age, there seems to be a growing number of people seems to feel like your usefulness to society is over.

And well, yeah, I mean, Peter, look at rejected. Yeah. I mean, look at our society. It's all productivity based. Everything is about what can you produce?

How do you succeed? How much money do you have? How many things can you buy when you're in the work? How many clients did you see? How many emails did you send?

How you know, how many widgets have you built? It's all productivity based. And social media is not helping because it's all about this outside appearance. And that's not even who we are as human beings. We're so much more.

And we've really gotten away to our true nature as a human being and as a community. And as people get older, they have so much in them that they could be offering us if we help to pull that out of them as they become more frail and more vulnerable. Well, and it also brings it out of us, too. I tell people often there's nothing like caring for somebody with severe disabilities for a couple of decades to expose the gunk in your own soul.

And I live up to that myself personally. But I also know that there is nothing like doing this to expose some wonderful things about you as a person and life in general and the beauty and the joy and the opportunities we have to experience those things in ways that we wouldn't necessarily do unless we slow down and moved at the speed of the slowest member of the unit. And that's often the elderly in this case. And we've got this hurry up, hurry up, hurry up mentality. And aging is going to dictate to us. You know, I remember when our children were born, people used to say your children will train you on when to sleep, you know.

But as we age, we're going to train others on when to function as well because we move at the speed of our slowest member. And so this has been a, as you jump into this thing, you've approached a lot of different topics here. We're going to go through those just kind of systematically. But I wanted to just give an opportunity to set the table of why you got into this and what's going on in your approach, I believe, is an extremely important one that you're incorporating so much more than, OK, here's how you care give. And I don't like books like that.

Here's how you care give, because I think everybody's care giving needs are going to be unique to who that person is. But here's the concept. Here's the precept. Here's the big, get the 30,000 foot view of what's going on. Here's the philosophy of it, you know.

Yeah. Here's the philosophy of it. And I love that what you've done here and open this up.

So we're going to talk about this some more when we come back from the break. This is Hope for the Caregiver. I'm with Stephanie Erickson. She's in Montreal. She has written a new book. It's called Plan for Aging Well, building a team to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support as we age. OK. And she's got more to go with this. It's her website is planned for aging.

Well, dot com. Don't go away. We'll be right back. Have you ever struggled to trust God when lousy things happen to you? I'm Gracie Rosenberger, and in 1983, I experienced a horrific car accident leading to 80 surgeries and both legs amputated. I questioned why God allowed something so brutal to happen to me.

But over time, my questions changed and I discovered courage to trust God. That understanding, along with an appreciation for quality prosthetic limbs, led me to establish standing with hope for more than a dozen years. We've been working with the government of Ghana and West Africa, equipping and training local workers to build and maintain quality prosthetic limbs for their own people. On a regular basis, we purchase and ship equipment and supplies.

And with the help of inmates in a Tennessee prison, we also recycle parts from donated limbs. All of this is to point others to Christ, the source of my hope and strength. Please visit standing with hope dot com to learn more and participate in lifting others up. That's standing with hope dot com. I'm Gracie and I am standing with hope. Welcome back to Hope for the caregiver. That is my wife, Gracie, from her CD Resilient, and she is indeed resilient. And you get a copy of that right now.

Go out to hope for the caregiver dot com. Just click on the donate button. Whatever you do to help support what we're doing here.

We'll send you a copy of her CD. Whatever's on your heart. It doesn't matter. I got it. I got to interject.

By the way, Peter, she's a little more resilient. All right. And by the way, I've been running dialogue with everybody on Facebook that we're streaming the show because we're trying to get these levels right.

I have tried this for a year and a half. And my friend Hank says I'm over modulating on my end. I don't even know what that means. You know, why? I mean, I'm a pianist.

When I modulate, I change keys, you know, so I have no idea what this means. I'm over modulating. I'm sitting on a rolling pin.

Just deal with it, y'all. But we're talking with Stephanie Erickson. I am. I'm literally sitting on a rolling pin.

I'm sitting on pins. And never mind. Stephanie Erickson, social worker, licensed clinical social worker. And she's got a new book plan for aging. Well, building a team to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support as we age.

All right, Stephanie, talk about the aging heart and soul. Well, as I was saying earlier, we are more than just a body. We are deep, complicated individuals. Like you were saying earlier, caregiving can show us, you know, our demons and also all of our strengths and all of our love and joy that we have.

Right. Brings out the worst and the best of us. And that's who we are. We're complicated people that have a lot of internal processes, thought processes and spiritual needs that need to be attended to as we age. And as we're aging, we begin to reflect back on our life and think about all of the accomplishments, the things that we've done. We think about our regrets. We think about our remorse. We're trying to make sense of the world like your wife was saying. And in that piece that you just had at the break, you know, what was what was her what was the meaning in her life now after this accident?

What was why did it happen and how could she make something good out of it? And that's a spiritual process. And we forget about treating and caring for people and that part of them as we age. And so this chapter in my book really outlines the way in which we're neglecting that piece of people and then get some simple and easy things that we can do to just make sure that we don't forget that part of a person. Beautifully said.

Beautifully said. What when you were writing this. And, you know, I've talked to a lot of authors who have written stuff. And sometimes it's a cathartic experience for people who have been a caregiver for a couple of years and they want to write a book about it, so forth.

You're bringing a quarter century of experience into this. This is not something that was a kind of a cathartic experience for you to write this book. This was you taking a vast amount of knowledge and saying, you know what, I am going to steer people in a path that's going to help them.

What surprised you about this through this process or did anything surprise you with it? Yeah, I was I was constantly surprised. No, it wasn't cathartic in the same way that caregivers write their story.

It was different. It was it was it's not clinical. It's not it's not a textbook that you would find, you know, in a social work class.

No, no, not at all. And in fact, now that you're talking to me, you can probably hear my voice when you're reading it. It sounds like we're sitting and having coffee or drinking a glass of wine and having a discussion. And that's how I wanted it to come across. And there are some tips and things like that in there, but it's not a how to book either.

It is more of a philosophy, which is what I think John was the word that he said earlier. But the thing that I think I learned the most about myself is how insecure I really still am, because once I was done, it felt so good writing it. But then once I was done and had to start sharing it first with an editor and then a second editor and then a proofreader and then send it out to what you call beta readers, which, you know, five people who give me really, really intense feedback, people that I trust in the field or friends.

And then I send it out to more people to endorse the book. And it was like sitting on not a rolling pin, but pins and needles waiting, waiting for people's feedback and scared to death that it wouldn't be well received. And I still have to be very honest with you, Peter, I'm still scared. And every time I open my email, I'm like, oh, my God, am I going to get an email from someone who just lays into me about how horrible the book is? I'm really quite insecure about it. And I thought that I'd done a lot of work. Well, I have had one email, by the way.

I have had one by someone who was not happy. But yeah, I did because I did because I was like, yeah, but I've had like 40 others that were great. So if but if you get consistent feedback, you have to think, you know, you have to consider it. But I, you know, I've always worked really hard internally to grow and evolve as a person in my emotional development. And I thought I was further along in my self-confidence, but as it turns out, I'm not. There's nothing like putting your soul out there in front of the public.

Yeah, yeah. This thing that you made that was that that you you you poured everything into. And this is I mean, I know this is not really kind of the subject of the show or whatever, but it's it's very interesting to me whenever we do this, just as a creative person or as an academic or as an artist or whatever, when you really just are really trying at something, you're putting your 100 percent effort into this and then you got to let other people see it.

And that's just terrifying. Sometimes it's just the worst. Well, you're but that can that can be a cathartic experience, you know, that when when people receive it well or when you get that sort of feedback that says, oh, yes, now next time I can be even better at this, that sort of deal. Well, your quarter century of experience shines through.

I mean, this is not like something you decided, hey, this would be great to do. You know, you're drawing on a lot of hard work. And as I listen, you talk about the things that you were involved in.

And as I know so many social workers, social workers, I would not want to see behind the eyes of a lot of social workers because of the things that they have to witness and see in the and the times you have to drive home, clinching your steering wheel a little extra harder with hot tears in your eyes because of things that you've had to see. But you've taken that, you've punched through this and you've you've given a plan for folks. When a reader finishes this book, what is the goal that you have? What do you feel, what do you reasonably expect the reader is going to know when they finish your book? Well, what I hope and what I hope what I think they'll know and what I hope are maybe two different things. What I think they'll know is that they need to plan now.

They need to have conversations now with their families about what their hopes are, their dreams, their fears, their expectations about aging and putting that plan into place and communicating it. That's what I think they'll know. And they'll know that they need to include a lot of people in that plan.

They can't just write it down on a legal document and tuck it under a door or tuck it in a drawer. You know, that's what I think they'll know like concretely what I hope them to be honest. I hope that they're inspired to do something bigger. So to talk to other people about the way in which we're approaching aging as a society, the way that we toss off older adults as if they don't have any more value, that we see them as disposable. And that because this is how we approach aging, all of the priorities in our society don't go to older adults. They go to other things.

And so when that's not a priority, the funding doesn't go there and then the resources are lacking. And then all of our biggest fears about aging come true. So I hope people get inspired. Well, how dare you try to change the world?

What's going on here? I think I think mission accomplished. Stephanie, I think that you have done well and you've certainly inspired us today. And I appreciate your insights and thoughts. You're always welcome on the show.

You have an open invitation and you just really were wonderful today. Thank you for the time. People can go out to your website. It's planned for aging. Well, dot com plan for aging. Well, to come in a book is that all the dot coms, wherever books are sold out now.

Is that right? Yeah, you can get it on Amazon and my website, Stephanie Erickson dot C.A. or just search plan for aging. You'll find it planned for aging.

Well, dot com. This is Peter Roseburg, the hope for the caregiver. And we'll see you next time. Have you ever helped somebody walk for the first time? I've had that privilege many times through our organization standing with hope. When my wife, Gracie, gave up both of her legs following this horrible wreck that she had as a teenager and she tried to save them for years.

And it just wouldn't work out. And finally she relinquished them and thought, wow, this is it. I mean, I don't have any legs anymore.

What can God do with that? And then she had this vision for using prosthetic limbs as a means of sharing the gospel to put legs on her fellow amputees. And that's what we've been doing now since 2005, with Standing with Hope. We work in the West African country of Ghana. And you could be a part of that through supplies, through supporting team members, through supporting the work that we're doing over there.

You could designate a limb. There's all kinds of ways that you could be a part of giving the gift that keeps on walking at standing with hope dot com. Would you take a moment to go out to standing with hope dot com and see how you can give.

They go walking and leaping and praising God. You could be a part of that at standing with hope dot com. As a caregiver, think about all the legal documents you need. Power of attorney, a will, living wills and so many more. Then think about such things as disputes about medical bills. What if instead of shelling out hefty fees for a few days of legal help, you paid a monthly membership and got a law firm for life? Well, we're taking legal representation and making some revisions in the form of accessible, affordable, full service coverage.

Finally, you can live life knowing you have a lawyer in your back pocket who at the same time isn't emptying it. It's called Legal Shield, and it's practical, affordable and a must for the family caregiver. Visit caregiver legal dot com. That's caregiver legal dot com. Isn't it about time someone started advocating for you? W w w dot caregiver legal dot com. An independent associate.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-24 23:59:11 / 2024-01-25 00:10:50 / 12

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