An Awesome Benefit For Those Employees Providing Care To Loved Ones

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An Awesome Benefit For Those Employees Providing Care To Loved Ones with Amanda Varga

As the population ages and lives longer employees can be put in stressful situations with the demains of the job, young children, and aging parents. Better known as the sandwich generation. If retaining good employees is on your agenda, providing meaningful services to the sandwich generation is a great idea. Now is the time to help.

About Amanda

Amanda Varga is the Owner of CareTreks, LLC, which is focused on supporting Family Caregivers of aging loved ones by providing the skills, knowledge and resources they need to be more confident and competent Caregivers.

Amanda’s caregiving experience started at age 11 when she was the neighborhood babysitter.  Her first work with the elderly was in middle school, as a volunteer Candystriper at a local nursing home – yes, the red and white striped uniform and the cap!

While earning her Bachelor of Social Work degree, she also provided specialized respite services for children with special needs.  Immediately after graduation, she worked in brain injury-supported living, quickly moving from direct care to management.  After some years in the corporate world (primarily in HR and Executive Team roles) and having three amazing children, she found herself back in the professional Caregiving realm as both an overnight-awake hospice sitter and Director of Client Care for a home care agency.

Caregiving became far more personal when she and her husband moved his parents in with them in July, 2014.  Both required 24/7 care and supervision with hands-on assistance.  Amanda’s personal Caregiving Journey had begun…and the following month her three kids started 4th, 5th and 12th grades. 

Life was complicated, to say the least.  It has been this personal experience with caregiving that inspired the idea behind CareTreks – to find a way to support others who find themselves in a family caregiving role.

CareTreks Website

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An Awesome Benefit For Those Employees Providing Care To Loved One with Amanda Varga

Sun, 9/5 9:52PM • 55:40


caregiving, care, employers, people, employees, caregiver, home, costs, day, conversation, parents, workforce, stress, providing, resources, support, living, life, talk, family caregivers


Amanda, Roy Barker

Roy Barker  00:08

Hello again and welcome to another episode of The Business of Business Podcast. I’m your host Roy of course I am the We Are the podcast that brings you. A wide variety of guests talk about a bunch of diverse topics to help you in business. We want to see everybody be successful. Today is no different. Happy to have Amanda Varga with us. This is going to be an interesting call we’ve been looking forward to for a couple of weeks.

She is the owner of Care Treks which is focused on supporting family caregivers of aging loved ones. By providing the skills, knowledge and resources that they need to be more confident and competent caregivers. Amanda’s caregiving experience started at age 11 when she was the neighborhood babysitter. Her first work with the elderly was in middle school as a volunteer candy stripper at a local nursing home.

Yes, the red and white strap uniformed with the gap. Those are not too many of us remember those anymore. But while learning her Bachelor degree in social work, she also provided a specialized respite services for children with special needs. Immediately after graduation she worked in a brain injury support supported living quickly moving from direct care to management.

After some years in the corporate world, primarily an HR executive team roles and having three amazing children. She found herself back in the professional caregiving realm. As both an overnight awake hospice sitter and director of client care for a homecare agency, caregiving became more personal when she and her husband moved his parents in with him in July 2014.

Both requiring 24 seven care and supervision with hands on assistance. Amanda’s personal caregiving journey has begun. And the following month, her three kids started fourth, fifth and 12th grades Wow, what a challenge. Life was complicated to say the least. It has been this personal experience with caregiving that has inspired the idea behind characteristics to find a way to support others who find themselves in family caregiving role. So Amanda, thank you for being with us.

Amanda  02:14

Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Roy Barker  02:15

Yeah, I mean, we’ve got a lot to unpack. And I think we had a, we had a full episode length pre chat. And we’ve chatted, you know, multiple times before. Never, never lack of a conversation for us to have. Because this is something that I think we, you know, both feel very passionate about. Most of my adult life working has been split in the senior living. You know, more on the business side with the analytics of sales and marketing and financials.

But still, you know, it’s still dealing with this with this aspect of aging. And so I think, you know. First off, I’m gonna get you talk. Let me just say this, tell us a little bit about your journey getting here first. Before we get too deep, because, you know, it’s interesting. You’ve been on both sides of this equation. And then you are the tip or girl typical sandwich generation is. You know, it’s one point you were in caregiving for parents. And you also had young children that still needed a lot of care. When you have a fourth and fifth grade.

I mean, that’s, you know, the, the 12th graders, they get where they can operate on their own. And, you know, they’re, they’re probably more happy to be distanced from mom and dad anyway. But you know. When you have young kids and, and, and if they were in your home. As you know, all of this is going on in your home. Oh, my gosh, you know, it’s like, when do you ever get any rest?

Amanda  03:37

Yeah, pretty much. Yeah, for at one point, I think we had a span of preteen to late 80s in our house. Between between seven of us. So, you know, the idea, I think that a lot of family caregivers have have. Oh, well, we’ll bring this care recipient into our home and want to be great. We’ll be that multi generational family. You know, it’ll be good to have grandma or grandpa go to the sporting events and go to the concerts and that sort of thing. And you know that that’s a fantastic dream.

And for some people it works. For us, it did not, you know. It actually turned out that we really had to balance the needs of our kids and the needs of our care recipients, work at home and all that kind of stuff. You know, and had to find a way to make everyone feel and be as loved. As an important as they should. Yes. Balancing that again, with a 12th grader. Yeah, there’s a lot of independence there. But he ran track and cross country and I had been to every meet all through high school.

And that’s not a place to take someone who has significant mobility issues and doesn’t want to go right. Then one parent is now going to a sporting event while the other is taking care of elders and you know. It’s a tough split is a tough. The tough balance to manage there. And make sure you know your kids need a lot from you. As any parent knows. That’s the job. Yes. Yes. Balancing that conflicting. Just the conflicting pull on your time. Yes. is stressful for any parent.

Roy Barker  05:01

Yeah. And it’s important to distinguish having your parents live with you. And then having them live with you and needing significant care and attention. Because I was fortunate. You know, I’d lived away for a little bit. When I moved back, my grandmother was still in very good health. She was probably in her late 70s, early. This has been years ago, you know. And she would come out and stay with us, you know, two, three days a week.

Now, the thing is, she still had her home to go back to. So when she got tired of us, she could be like, red flag, I’m ready to go home. But she was fully functional, we weren’t providing care to her. So it’s a totally different dynamic, because she was actually a huge asset. Not only helping with the kids, but then also, you know. That intergenerational, you know, we were kind of living the dream.

But the reality is, like you said. Is that typically when you have parents or grandparents that have to move in with you, they have significant needs. Is what has triggered that. So it just adds much more stress. And then I never even thought about that the maybe them not wanting to go to a track meet. And then now you’ve got to make a decision. Either be the heavy and forced them to go when it’s tough anyway. Or, you know, be miss out on your children’s events. Right,

Amanda  06:21

right. Exactly. You know, and the thing is. Is even when there’s a, like you talked about with your grandmother, and it’s a great situation, there really is that involvement and that independence. And yet that that working together, yeah, it can change so quickly. Yes. Yeah. That’s what a lot of people are stunned by. Yeah. Well, we went from being able to drive herself home and back and forth and be involved in things too. We’re doing hands on care, or we need to find appropriate care. And and that shift is often sudden, yeah. And extremely stressful. involved. Yeah, yeah. You

Roy Barker  06:53

know, we talked a little bit about to, you know, where we are in this thing. COVID has shined a light on it. Because there were people that were approaching the need to go into some kind of a senior living, assisted nursing, maybe Alzheimers unit. And then with COVID, it was hard to get them in families didn’t want to, you know, take the chance. But, you know, kind of setting that aside for a minute. I feel like we’re kind of back in the 60s to 70s place when it was the, you know.

Kind of the topic was when women entered the workforce very heavily about having childcare and the difficulties of childcare. And it always felt to the mom to juggle. You know, the sitter, the events, the work and all of that. But now we’re kind of seeing that push become with with our parent. And taking care of elders in our families is. That it’s become it’s begun to be a strain on our workforce. I mean, people have had to leave the workforce. Which is a personal burden with the lost income. But also companies are losing a lot of good people.

Amanda  08:03

Right? Definitely. I mean, it’s the norm now. Is that women are in the workforce. Even when their parents, right, you know, they’re there’s ways to help pay for childcare. There’s, there’s medical leave, there’s family leave, there’s all of these different options. But what isn’t being recognized as much now is the need for that same type of caregiving. But for a different generation.

Now they’re caring for parents, or grandparents and aunts and uncles and that sort of thing. Yeah. And that’s what we’re looking forward to have employers start to recognize that. Because, you know, statistically, if an organization is actually doing exit interviews, about a third of people who are leaving. Left because of care for an elder. Oh, wow. And that’s a big hit. So we need to find a way to help. Help them play or support those employees and keep or keep them in the door. You know, work around what they have going on.

Roy Barker  08:52

Yeah, and that’s you’ve got a two fold mission. Number one, and correct me if I’m wrong. But you, you will help caregivers and help structure things that they need to do to be that caregiver. And self care and do what they need. But you also really are focusing now on working with businesses. To help give them plans. To be a resource for them. So tell us a little bit about that.

Amanda  09:17

Sure, it’s, it’s actually it’s a blend of my background. I have a human resources background, was a PHR. Which is professional human resources. I was a certified HR generalist, and I loved my favorite part was benefits management. I loved putting together the package. Making sure my employees were using everything we were offering. Right being that expert for them. And then blending that with my experience as a personal caregiver, a family caregiver for the last seven years now.

We were still family caregivers. And the work I’ve done in the senior services industry on the business side of it. Bringing all that together. Because there’s a huge discrepancy between how employers view the impact of caregiving on their bottom line. How employees realize that impact. You know, there’s between being, you know, late to work, leave, means leave early. There’s absenteeism, you know, when someone’s not there. But there’s presenteeism. There’s when someone is sitting there at work. They’re physically there, but they’re distracted. Or they’re sick or they’re tired, they’re anxious.

And all of those things are leading to loss of productivity and increase in turnover. And if we can find a way to support those working family caregivers. Through their employer. So it’s an easy resource to find and have to go googling for. They know it’s available through their workforce, or their workplace. To get them those resources to educate them on the things they may need. And how their situation may chang. And what resources are available for their loved one.

Roy Barker  10:47

Yeah. Yeah. You know, we’ve talked prior to that, you know, retention is a hot button for me. And that was why, you know, extremely sad, excited to have you come on. Because I think the biggest thing for me is that conversation. It’s the one that never happens. Because I wait, typically, employers wait until the exit interview. Till the decisions already made. And we’re already on this path. Or the person just, it was a no call no show, and we’re looking for them.

And this is why, you know, I encourage employers, managers, whoever will, to know who your employees are. You have to know about their life. And you can’t get any more personal than they want you to. But if I know that my employee has an elderly person that they’re dealing with that may be you know, I see a change in their attitude, a change in work.

We can talk and say, Hey, you know, what’s going on and have this conversation, before we lose the talent, because you know, it’s the last year has been a little different. with being able to find employees, there’s been a plethora of people that are looking for work. But, you know, prior to this pandemic, the workforce was tight. I mean, it was hard businesses were struggling to find people, good people to fill slots.

And so it’s going to get that way. Again, I feel certain. But that’s why this is so important. It’s not only to provide that for the the individual just because we’re good humans, but it’s also good a good business decision, because we don’t want to lose the talent.

Amanda  12:28

Right, recruiting and retaining, right, those are huge costs to an employer that not everyone is aware of, right? No, I think even not, not, some of the business owners themselves don’t have the real realization of what the cost is. Put together a job description to get it posted to screen through applicants to interview applicants. And once you have someone to onboard them, train them, get them all the way up to speed, that takes a lot of time and a lot of money.

And if we can instead focus on the amazing employees that organizations have, those employees may be struggling with other obligations, let’s find a way to support them. Right. Yeah, work on that retention piece. But then also, it’s something that can be used as a recruiting tool. Yeah. You know, a lot of companies are very focused on their company culture these days.

Here’s our culture. And here’s what we offer, we offer extra benefits to our employees. And having a component in there that encourages family caregivers of aging, loved ones to apply to know this is a good place for me to go. They understand better than others. What may be going on in my life, I think that’s incredibly important. Because those employees, they’re afraid to talk to management. Yeah, no, because if I tell you that, well, my mom has moved in with us.

And it’s kind of challenging, then when that promotion comes up, or that transfer comes up, you have in the back of your mind as an employer, maybe this is more than they can handle. This time, I’m doing them a favor, when that employee really wants to make this work. So you know, it’s about that open conversation, like you said, Yeah, and I think

Roy Barker  14:01

when we talk about company culture, the first thing a lot of people think about is the ping pong table, or the female frappuccino machine that, you know, maybe we could get that at a later date. But to add a benefit like this, and, you know, I’ve got the numbers on that when we talk about retention.

You know, I put the figure in I don’t, it’s research that I’ve gathered over the years, but it costs you about four to 4000 to 70 $500, to turn over a $10, our employing and there are some estimates that put that up over $10,000. And then once we start working up the ladder, you know managers about 100 225% of their salary till we get you know, tech workers can be 400% of their salary.

And then once we get to the C suite, you know, we’re talking about two to two to 250% of their salary. So, these costs are significant. I mean, that is cash outlay that’s a significant cost. Not to mention, just The fact of not having enough people to fulfill your product or service. So there are all kinds of ramifications on the back end.

And I do like that, you know, to use this as a recruiting tool, because I think it softens the company, it makes us It makes, hopefully you are no don’t want to put up a facade, but hopefully it makes it, it lets people know that you are a human friendly company, and that we care about our employees, you know,

Amanda  15:27

that it’s genuine and not just, you know, lip service. Exactly. And, you know, your point to the C suite, those higher level folks, statistically speaking, they are the ones who are more likely to just flat out walk away and leave the workforce completely. If the conflict between work and and caregiving right now, those are the folks they’ve, they’ve made their money, they probably have a great retirement plan, they’ve made their mark in the world, they’re there now because they enjoy it.

They’ve reached that Pinnacle. And when it comes to do I stay here, or no, mom’s had a stroke, and she really needs me right now. They’re going to leave right and get that two week notice if that from your CFO, that’s more than just someone’s walking out the door. That’s industry knowledge, that’s experience. That’s customer relationships. So if like you said, we can start having that conversation before the conflict reaches the breaking points, right? And how can we job share?

How can we provide support that this person is comfortable with? How can we maybe scale back their hours and do something else? So either either there’s not an immediate transition, or it’s a longer transition, and it’s smoother for the company, and they can be a part of bringing in their replacement? So yeah, there’s a lot of unseen costs to having somebody walk out the door.

Roy Barker  16:40

Yeah, and I think that with, you know, what we’ve seen over this last year, is that you can accomplish a lot through teams. And so you know, if I can find a quiet spot, you know, even if I am having to provide a little bit more care, is it you know, am I valuable enough employee? Do I add enough to the, you know, value to the whole organization that, do you really need me sitting in the same room with you to have this conversation?

Can we be doing it virtually, also, the flex hours that, you know, if I’m researching or doing a spreadsheet, does it matter if I’m doing that at three in the afternoon, or at eight or nine at night? You know, those are the kind of things that we have to wait to see. And it’s a little bit it wasn’t for the caregiving reason, but it’s a great example, on the somebody that was a nursing home administrator, and she lost one of her best people, no call, no show just disappeared in the wind.

And so after a couple days, you know, she, the administrator actually cared about her as a person. But she cared about her to her workforce, because she was so good for their residents that so she actually went out and tracked this lady down. And unfortunately, there had been a change in the family situation. So once she’s talked to her, she said, Look, I didn’t want to call in to my boss, and get hassled.

Because of this situation. She said, it’s easier for me just to quit deal with this, and then go get another job. Because you know, at that point, the job, were interchangeable, she could go do something. But anyway, after having a conversation, they were able to work out a different schedule for a short period of time to allow this lady to come back.

And it was like, a conversation. That was all it is. So anyway, I think, you know, it’s both sides. It’s not just employers, but its employees as well. But you have to have this bond of trust somewhere in the middle that both parties feel comfortable talking about things like this.

Amanda  18:46

Right. You know, it’s funny, because I actually lived a piece of that, because when we moved my in laws, and with us, I was planning on still working, we thought that having them here under our roof and us kind of overseeing was going to be enough. You know, it turns out it wasn’t I left the workforce completely became their 24 seven caregiver. And after probably the first two years or so my previous employer had stayed in touch right, you know, he had known as well knew he knew what was going on, and started calling every now and then and emailings.

And how’s it going? I know you wouldn’t you like to get out of your house for a little bit. You know, I know you need to think you know, you need the other faculties that you have besides just the physical caregiving. And we went back and forth because I didn’t know if I could really be a benefit to him. And he was sure I could and, you know, but managing that time. Finally we came to an agreement. Let’s try it.

Let’s see you come in, give me what you can. And you know, I’ll pay you. nine hours a week is where it started back, you know, three hours a day, three days a week, and that’s about as unconventional as you’re going to get a lot of organizations but it gave them what they needed. They needed certain things for me that I had done for them in the past that worked really well.

And it did it got me out of the house. Family Caregiver who was feeling so overwhelmed with the physicality of what I was doing was really great to think you know, and there were there was a time or two, when I called and said, we were in the ER, we just had a really rough night, I can’t come in today. No, you figure out another time to come in. And by the same token, they knew if they really needed something, I would find a way to rearrange things at home, right?

Players are open to, again, having that conversation and saying you’re valued enough for us to figure something out know your situation. And we want to work with you in spite of it. And with it. Yeah, I think more of that needs to be happening, and to realize that that really can benefit business itself. Yeah, to bring those people back.

Roy Barker  20:42

Yeah. And I think as a, you know, as an older, as an older white guy, I don’t understand. Because, well, I understand because I’ve read the statistics, but a lot of people don’t understand because typical caregiving duties fall to the daughter in law. And that’s just, I mean, you’re living proof of that. But that’s the way it is. It’s like, you know, the the daughter in law, the, you know, the, the husband’s wife takes care of her family, and his family.

That’s not a you know, that’s not just me looking around, there’s empirical data that actually spells that out that that’s how that goes. And so I think it’s not, you know, it’s stopping for a minute to realize the position that this person is put into, and if you’ve never been a caregiver, it’s probably one of the most difficult jobs that there is. And that’s why there’s such high turnover in you know, the higher in acuity nursing homes and memory care units.

That’s why you have such high turnover is because the work is hard, the pay is not that good. And then seeing motional toe, and again, even if it’s your family, it still takes an emotional toll, you don’t want to see, they’re getting worse the digression in their health and circumstances the more care that you provide. So anyway, a lot, a lot of things go into that, that we if you’ve never been in that position, you just don’t get it.

And so kind of gets back to the relation between the chill, you know, women and children. At one point it was the same thing is like, Hey, you know, I want to be good, I can be productive, but I’m the one that has to deal with this, you know, the child’s situation full time.

Amanda  22:28

Right. Right. And, you know, like, like you said, there’s, there’s the physical toll you’re working, you know, its physicality, whether you’re sitting behind a desk, or you’re providing hands on care for your work. There’s the emotional toll and the mental toll, and there’s a lot of guilt, you know, for family caregivers, like I talked about, if I’m spending time with my kids, am I not spending enough time with my care recipient, right, if I’m time to go to work, because I enjoy it, and I need that release?

Am I not doing enough at home? Or if I’m at home? Am I not doing enough to try and stretch myself to bring in, you know, money to help financially support this family, no matter what a caregiver does not always think else they could be doing? It’s just as good. Yeah. But always wondering which in my Did I make the right choice today or in general. And so that mental toll is, it’s huge, and really follows you everywhere. And

Roy Barker  23:16

that’s the interaction with the individuals. I mean, even if we cut that off the plate, they’re still the, you know, 12 loads of laundry that are piled up in the house needs dusted again, and you know, all those day to day chores that just seem to pile up as well. So, yeah, it’s a true thing. And I think you had, did you have a study that you were a couple studies that you wanted to reference?

Amanda  23:40

So the the history behind why I referenced this is I had put together the idea of bringing caregiving to senior services into the workplace as an employer benefits. And I was putting together more than marketing, how do I promote this, and finally really started digging, maybe there’s some statistics with employees and workforce, I know it, and I’ve seen it, but I don’t know if anyone’s actually studied it, and found a study done by Harvard Business School of all places. They put this out in 2017. So it’s pre COVID. But it’s still very applicable.

They were really looking at the discrepancy between how employees feel and know caregiving is impacting your productivity at work, and how employers view it and that that gap is really significant. Players are ignoring it, they either don’t see it, or they’re not going to acknowledge it. They don’t think it’s a big deal. For employees, it’s a huge impact on their work and home life. And that’s why there’s so much turnover on there. And I was reading rereading this morning.

They have an executive summary. It’s a proper study. And, oh, just a backup. I when I found this study, first of all, I was thrilled it was if I paid someone to fabricate the study to support what it’s doing, they couldn’t have done it better. It’s hard. And I had emailed I had nothing to lose. So I emailed the authors of the study and explained what I was doing and how thrilled I was to find their study and ask permission May I use your statistics? If I properly reference it and that sort of thing, and they gave me free rein, they said, Yes, please promote this as much as you can. So I am reading with permission.

Okay. Okay. This study by Harvard Business School called the carrying company, and the authors are Joseph fuller and Manjari romane. And this is just the opening to the executive summary that talks to employers. So brief read here, American companies are facing a caregiving crisis They just refuse to acknowledge it.

Rising health care and professional caregiving costs and changing demographics over the past few decades, have put great pressure on American employees as they try to balance work and care responsibilities. Yet many employers remain largely oblivious to the growing costs of this hidden care economy, costs that hurt employers and employees alike. While companies spend time money aside money, time and effort on providing benefits, often those benefits are of little use to employees by not offering benefits that employees actually want.

And by not encouraging employees to use the benefits they do offer. Companies incur millions of dollars in hidden costs due to employee turnover, loss of institutional knowledge and temporary hiring. In addition to substantial productivity costs such as absenteeism, and presenteeism. The spectrum of care from childcare to elder care ranges across every demographic in the organization, workers of all ages and levels of seniority are affected.

Given the lack of support at work, many employees hide the growing burden of caregiving responsibilities, they struggle to balance the responsibilities of working caregiving, often dealing with the unexpected and recurring care obligations that require mental physical and financial resources to address them. Individual productivity suffers accordingly inflicting a cost on the employer, then when the emotional and physical stress becomes too much their capacity for work becomes impaired. Some respond by reining in their ambitions, others reduce their working hours, still others drop out of the workforce altogether.

Eventually, employers often pay another major cost, they lose talented trained employees. So exactly what we’ve been talking about in this study is, you know, like 6070 pages long, I think and goes into how they researched with so many employees and took their their impressions of how caregiving is impacting them, you know, in 75% of the workforce at that point, was impacted by caregiving.

And that again, that spanned the ages, you know, new births and adoption, special needs kids into eldercare. But of that 75% 80% of them said it’s having a significant impact. And, you know, about a third of people leaving, like I mentioned before, leave because of caring for an older family member or an older loved one. And that’s a huge hit, you know, we’ve already covered the turnover costs, and what that what that does to the bottom line of an organization.

So if we can find a way, you know, and that’s what care trucks is all about is to bring these resources in, not as your traditional EAP, right, where you call an 800 number, and they gave you a couple other 800 numbers to call it your area that is meant to be personal and local. So that if you have an employee who is taking on caregiving, for us, you know, in the Denver area, and you know, here’s what they need, and here’s what my care recipient is experiencing, it’s, it’s dementia, or it’s, you know, loss of mobility.

Alright, let’s talk about the varieties of care that are available. Let’s talk about what placement agents do. Let’s talk about what homecare does versus home health and palliative and hospice, let’s see what you need in your family situation, to help you better balance what’s going on in your life.

Roy Barker  28:34

Right. Yeah. And the other part is, this isn’t just it’s not just theory, you’ve lived it. And so I think that that just adds that much more credibility, you know, to the advice that you can give to these individuals, because sometimes that’s just what we need. It’s a starting point. I mean, this just happened and the sometimes events with seniors happen in a gradual manner.

Even a lot of times, even if it does happen in a gradual manner, it builds up to one point where it’s an emergency or crisis. So, typically, we need answers yesterday, not I got another week to call, you know, like you said, multiple 800 numbers, talk to 12 other people, I need answers, and I need it now. And then the also it’s anxiety, it’s like, well, you know, what, I can’t let the situation go on for a couple more days, because there’s somebody maybe their life is at stake, or at least their quality of living.

And so, you know, having that resource to reach out to and talk about, but I think, you know, to me, that’s a beneficial tool, for sure. But I really think that your value is going to be educating management, that this number one, this exists number two, it’s a huge toll on your business. And number three, there is a solution. It’s a simple solution. You know,

Amanda  29:59

like you said, During those conversations, if an employer knows our employee knows that their workplace is, you know, it’s all about safe spaces these days, but if this is a safe place to talk about and say, hey, my, my mother in law is starting to decline, we’re not sure what we’re going to do, right? Wow, if that person can be connected to education resources at that point, to say, Well, here are your options, here’s here’s what’s available, where your mom lives versus where you live, if you want to move her in.

Here’s some things we can start working on far ahead of time. So that a month or two down the road when that crisis point has happened, and a decision has to be made. No one’s making it in a panic. We’ve already laid out some plans, and it can be a smoother transition. And there’s not that, that that panic crisis mode of Okay, now we have to do something yesterday. Yeah. Right. This is where it looks like we’re heading. And if an employee knows there’s someone they can easily access to have that conversation ahead of time to plan ahead. And the employer is proactive, was saying we want you to access this as soon as you think you might need it. Right. Or we can head off a lot of that stress.

Roy Barker  31:05

Yeah. Yeah. And I just lost my thought it was a good one. Yeah, I guess it will. But yeah. So anyway, let’s well, goodness, I have just totally drawn a blank. It was such a good question, too. Anyway. So the other part of this too, is like the, the dealing with kids. I mean, it’s like, okay for you. And that’s what I think another thing that we have to take into consideration is nowadays, Oh, I know, sorry. I just had my my thought came back. I just read a study this morning. That said, it was basically saying since 1950, to 1977, we extended the our lifespan, in general due to medicine and medication and things like that.

But it was just trying to promote the fact that we it’s become too costly to continue that. So there’s this cost benefit that we’re losing. But it was just saying that if we’re going to extend it another 10 years in the future, that this is all going to come back to lifestyle. And so it’s not only lifestyle of the the seniors that were caring for, I think we have to look at the lifestyle of the individual providing the care, because of the high stress. I mean, and there’s again, this isn’t my thinking this there’s empirical evidence that says, and I’ve seen a couple studies, but when you have a very high need care individual, let’s say somebody with dementia, and you’re providing all the care at home, the caregiver will typically die 60 to 70%. Before the individual who’s got the dementia diagnosis.

Amanda  32:58

Yeah, it’s it’s there’s so much stress and pressure put on the care recipient or the caregiver, you know, and yes, it’s hard to promote self care for others, when I’m still working on it myself, you know, I make sure that my kids get to all their doctor’s appointments, and that my care recipients got to their doctor’s appointments, and if appropriate care, and you know, the meals are as appropriate as possible for what they may need. And I haven’t been to the doctor for anything other than an urgent need at least six years. You know, I know that’s wrong. I know, I need to prioritize that. But it is it just it feels almost self indulgent.

And that’s something for caregivers, you know, myself included, that we need to get over that taking care of ourselves and taking time to step back, making sure our physical needs are met, is not indulgent, it’s necessary. Because what happens when we fall apart, and we’ve had that I have been laid out just sick as a dog because my body finally said you’re done. And you know, then everything else kind of falls apart. And that it is it’s the constant. Yeah. When you’re working in the caregiving industry as a profession, it’s stressful as well. But you’re able to go home and decompress to a certain extent, you have you have this safe place to go to to to relax and put your feet up.

When you are a caregiver in your home or in a loved one’s home. Or even if you’re overseeing their care locally, you know, you stopped by mom’s place after work every day or you check on dad every morning before you go in. There is it’s so many layers of responsibility. And you know that does it kind of drag someone down. Even when they don’t notice it. They’re just they’re plowing through because, oh, this can’t maybe they think this can’t last that long. I can do this for a little while. Right. As you said we’re living longer and that little while. It can be a whole lot longer than we anticipate. And yeah, the stress in the caregiver is is significant.

Roy Barker  34:51

Yeah. Because the you know, even though dementia diagnosis is are terrible. People can link for 810 12 years in that state, and it just gets worse and worse and worse, and so it’s not like you said sometimes that it’s that time arise, or we start care at home, and then it makes it even harder to try to get them, you know, outside help, let’s just say, you know, move into a dementia unit or something like that. But, you know, another cost center that you just brought up to is the, you know, the, the health of the worker, you know, now, you know, they’re, they’re burning the candle at both ends, they get sicker more often.

And I think that is, it’s really guidance that you can also give them to Azzam that self care, and, you know, it’s like, Do as I say, not as I do, we’re all that way we don’t, we don’t follow our own advice. We don’t follow our own advice. But you know, there are things that you have to do, you know, there. And the other thing a lot of people don’t understand, I think is that there are respite providers. And this is a general message for anybody who is a caregiver, or there are places that you can take your loved one for a day or a week, to be able to have a night out to be able to take a vacation with the family.

But there are short term solutions that a lot of people just are unaware of, which totally benefice and even day programs, I mean, it’s kind of like the you know, they call it Adult Day, adult daycare, there’s a lot of things but there’s a there in the one I want to talk about for a minute it was a because I’m old enough to remember the old nursing home models where it was just old people sitting around, really in bad shape. And it was not pretty.

There’s a place out of Houston, and there’s these I know, there are places all over that do this. But this was just a model that their their participants, as they put it would, they had art projects, they went to art museums, they were out doing stuff, and it was so stimulating for the people that partake in it. Also, it was a good peace of mind for that caregiver, that you were dropping them off at a place that they love to go. And that was very good for them, you know, not someplace, you drop them off, and you just cross your fingers that everything’s gonna be okay for a couple hours.

Amanda  37:26

Right care care can be so much more specialized. Now again, when you talk about the, the idea many people have in their head of a nursing home, and that’s all they see where everyone is kind of lumped together, right? There’s, there’s a wing or an area for the worst off, folks. But then everyone is still in the same same arena. Now care communities are often so specialized, you know, there’s memory care, there’s assisted living as independent living, there’s transitional living.

And even within those day programs, you said there are some that specifically cater to a dementia diagnosis to do what they can both mentally and physically for this person to stave off the progression as long as possible. And other programs, you know, through like an innovative PACE program where the participants can receive care on site, they can see their doctor on site, they can even have CNAs, providing showers on site. So the family doesn’t need to take care of that level of personal care, they can go to work.

And then they can come home and have dinner and be a part of that evening routine. And there are a lot of solutions available. There’s even funding available that a lot of folks don’t realize there are some great grant programs that help fund respite for families, even for a short period of time. And I can tell you, we didn’t take a family vacation with our kids for four years after we became family caregivers.

And the, you know, the guilt, of course of leaving our care recipients in the community for two weeks was there but the joy of being with just our children and focusing on our core family? We should have done it much earlier. Yeah, you know, it makes us better caregivers to focus on ourselves every now and then we came back ready to take it on again. You know, we had gotten away and that was really important to families need to realize, again, that’s not an indulgence, it’s a necessity. Yeah. You know, we have we have slowly started making sure we’re doing those things as well.

Roy Barker  39:20

Yeah, and I think that’s important, you know, again, it’s, I look at as being a care coach, you know, you’re there, you could be there for those individuals to say, you know, what’s going on in life right now. Have you been on that vacation? Have you had that respite? Sometimes all we need is that little reminder like hey, you know what, we haven’t really had a day off, you know, why don’t we do that?

It will help us in so many aspects of our life but also our health because you know, the stress that we feel dealing with all this it we do pay a price for that and it will take a toll on us in some manner. We don’t. We can’t escape that. Yeah, the other big word that I I’ve heard you mentioned a couple times is guilt. And so that is a huge component of this.

One part I want to talk about a little bit is that decision to move an individual from a house to more of a facility. And it’s not easy. It’s not for everybody, I don’t recommend, you know, my, even though I spent a lot of time in the industry, my personal views are that people need to be where they’re comfortable, where they can get the care that they need.

And that if that’s in home, in a loved one’s home, or at a community, whatever works best, and but at some point, typically, at some point in this process, you do have to make that move. So just for a few minutes, I know we could talk another show about that. But let’s just, you know, we need to get over the guilt of that. And we need to realize that if we are doing the right thing for our loved one, we should feel guilt free, even though we said we’d never put you in a place like that, or we think that they’re more comfortable at home, and especially with people that start to wander or become threats to themself in some manner. So anyway, I’ll let you expand on that just a little bit.

Amanda  41:17

Well, and I think, you know, the first thing is that, with that older generation, when they think of don’t put me in a home, it is what we were just talking about that that older version of a nursing home where it should be weren’t overly pleasant places to be having made their their children that make that promise many, many, many years ago, don’t ever do that, to me.

A lot has changed in over many, many decades. And I think it’s important for family caregivers to know that sometimes fulfilling that promise of I will take care of you means finding appropriate placements, because not every adult human being is cut out to be a caregiver, right. Not everyone is cut out to be an engineer, not everyone is cut out to be a scientist, not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver. And sometimes the best way you can most effectively care for your loved one is to help find for them the best possible place for them to live given their geography, given your financial circumstances, given their physical and mental and emotional needs, but then to still be involved.

Because if you’re not someone who’s comfortable with giving mom a shower, taking mom to the bathroom, beating up with her three or four times a night, but you do know she enjoys your company. So have someone else take on the physical part of the caregiving. And you make sure you’re sharing the meal with her a couple times a week, you’re taking her out to her favorite restaurant or to a movie, you’re picking her up and taking her to church with your family, you’re still involved, you’re still overseeing the care, you’re one of those families who the community knows you’re going to show up on a regular basis.

And you know, no matter what, in the end, you know, the industry, if caregivers on a professional and I know that that family shows up often and unexpectedly, it’s just that little extra bit of care. Because what if Mrs. Jones son shows up today, let’s make sure you look pretty Oh my gosh, let’s put extra effort. And you know, it’s a thing that the more involved, the family is probably better care that the Macquarie students going to get so be involved, but don’t necessarily force yourself into the personal care that you’re not comfortable with or you’re not skilled at, you’re still taking care of your loved one. And that is a tough hurdle to overcome that taking care of meaning they’re not in your home,

Roy Barker  43:38

right? Yeah. And it’s funny, you mentioned that because even you know, my mom’s still in good health, but even when I go to church with her, and it’s she still introduces me to everybody in the you know, the people get tired. They’re like, Oh my god, we’ve met this guy 25 times already.

You know, and but she’s all you know, even she’s in I don’t think we we don’t stop and think about the joy that we bring, you know, to our parents or our loved ones just doing one little thing like that just showing up at her church. You know, it means the world to her that because her church is her life. And so, you know, having our kids be involved in something that we enjoy, there’s nothing better than that. So one other things that Oh, boy, I’m sorry. I wrote my ideal down. I’m not gonna forget it.

Amanda  44:26

So many of our care recipients honestly never expected when they had that conversation with their kids don’t you know, make sure you’re taking care of me? Didn’t expect to live as long as they did. Right? As long as they know because like you said life expectancy has been stretched. And would Mom What dad really have wanted you to completely Have you have such upheaval in your life in order to take care of them when they ended up being around 20 years longer than they thought they weren’t right you know, it’s not just Will you take care of me.

But, you know, as a parent, we don’t want our children to have to put their lives on hold or take a completely different direction for our sake. Right? I can say is that current sandwich generation, I am making different decisions in my mid life than my my care recipients did, simply because I don’t want my children to be in the same position I’m in. Right. Right. Very clear with them, we have had a lot of this conversation, like, this is not what I want for you, you can find alternative options for me, because this is not the life that I want for you.

And and I think those are important conversations to have as well. If we really think about it, do our parents want us to have done what we’re doing? Yeah, you know, or should we be integrating them into our lives, but not allowing their care to overtake it? You know, that’s fine line sometimes. Yeah. And

Roy Barker  45:52

having that starting that conversation now and, you know, absolving your kids of that responsibility, I think it’s huge. It’s like, you know, I just, I want what’s best for you, for me, just, you know, I’m happy combined. See me every now and then, you know, that’ll be fun. So one other part that we brought up, you know, we talked about stress, kind of, with the work and everything that’s going on. But something else that was typical, is that when we get stressed, and when we get stressed to this breaking point, that’s typically when we lash out.

And there were studies through the Department of Health here that caregiver abuses usually came, especially in institutions, they usually came when employees had doubled over are were working crazy long shifts, and they were just stressed to the max and so that that applies to us. Even in our personal caregiving journey, the more stress we get, because work has got these responsibilities on trying to handle we got kids that have activities, we’re getting to the laundry, the dinner, you know, the third, the, you know, the extra child, the husband’s like, hey, when’s dinner?

When’s dinner, gonna be ready, you know, all this stuff it and then we can lash out at the person that we’re caring for more are the potential is there not everybody, but the potential is there. And so this is another great reason for this respite, self care if we’re in a good place, then of course, we handle things better. But we just don’t want to say or do something that we will regret? Because we’ve let ourselves get to that point.

Amanda  47:39

Yeah. And I think often in those circumstances, that the more stressed we’re getting, the more likely we are to think mom’s doing this on purpose. Yeah, you know, if there’s mentioned diagnosis, then we knew how she was for all of those many, many years, and she cared for everyone. And maybe there were those personality conflicts there are between kids and parents, it suddenly becomes that bitterness of she’s doing this on purpose.

She’s repeating that question on purpose. I told her that 20 times and we start blaming the person, as opposed to the disease process that they are going through, and level of frustration. And I think that’s where education and support certainly come into play. And the ability to step back, you know, when when you’re a new parent, right, you’re educated that if you’ve reached that point, you put your child in the crib or the playpen, or wherever it is, put them in a safe place, let them cry, walk away for a little bit, right?

When you’re working with a care recipient, who is mobile, you know, they’re ambulatory, they can do whatever, it’s a little harder to say, I’m gonna leave you right here and walk away, because you might fall you know, now we’re both upset and they’re feeding off of your anxiety. And it’s just that that cycle, but have someone else go sit in that room for a little bit, you know, and talk about who knows what changed channel on the TV, handle cookie of glass of milk, anything to distract them, so you can step back and break that cycle.

But it’s hard, you know, human beings kind of thrive on that make it to be above it enough to know when to say, You’re right. I’m sorry. Let’s Let’s have a bowl of ice cream. And it’s hard to do.

Roy Barker  49:16

Yeah, yes. Well, before we wrap it up, did you have another study that you wanted to reference before we go?

Amanda  49:24

Oh, you know, I just come across one. I haven’t had time to go through it all. It’s about 107 pages, okay. Okay. For any employers who are wondering and wanting to do a little research on their own as well, so we have the carrying company from Harvard, but AARP had a research report just called caregiving in the US 2020.

And also, really just supporting everything that we’ve been talking about and giving a little bit more recent statistics and especially talking about, I focused on that impact between employee and employer, the working caregivers, that sort of And the help that caregivers need one. One thing that jumped out at me Was it 62% of caregivers need help with at least one caregiving topic.

You know, there’s at least one thing that they aren’t sure of. And the top two, they actually tied at 26%. were keeping their care recipient Safe at Home, and managing their own emotional and physical stress those things that caregivers are wanting information on. I mean, there’s, you know, and end of life discussions and paperwork and eligibility and things to do with the care recipient.

But the top two things are how do I keep this person safe at home? How do I deal with what I’m dealing with? I think it’s important to know that if we can, again, bring a resource to these folks easy, rather than having them need to search and find out what happens to be out there and make a single phone call to say, What do I do, right and get connected to resources, it’s just really important that there’s a lot of need out there.

And there are so many resources, but they’re not finding each other. And that’s really what care tracks is meant to do is to bridge that gap. Okay. Get the right people for the right resources.

Roy Barker  51:06

Yeah, awesome. And that’s kind of where I was gonna go next. But before we get to that, even so what is a tool is, is there a tool or a habit, something that you do every day that helps add value to your life maybe even helps with this caregiving component that you’re providing?

Amanda  51:26

And it depends on the day. But you know, I think it’s really the realization of how stressed I was, especially in those first couple years, you know, I’ve done this professionally, you know, I, you would think that that would translate easily into, you know, home life. And it doesn’t always it’s a different circumstance when it’s your own family members, and it’s your own home. But the lessons I learned in those first couple years about taking care of myself, have been incredibly important. And I’m definitely a woman of faith.

And so having that daily devotion that time to step back, and kind of focus my day, I’m a list maker. I love checking things off the list, but you know, calendars and feeling like I’m organized really helps that also knowing when to call, you know, a Hey, this has changed, what do I do and making it a reach out? I’ve we’ve had things go wrong in our house early in the morning. And I’ve canceled my professional day, like I’m so sorry, you guys know, I’m a caregiver. And that has to take priority now and being okay with me on call, figuring it out later. So there’s not one thing I don’t think but other than knowing yourself and your situation and understanding those resources. Okay.

Roy Barker  52:35

All right. Well, again, I know you just touched on it, but a repeat again, if you don’t mind. Just you know, who are who can you help? course how can you help them and how can they reach out and get ahold of you?

Amanda  52:49

Sure. So we’ll start with reaching out getting a hold so Care Treks, C A R E, T R E K S, they get a lot of care tracks and care tracks. The websites easy, it’s I’m on LinkedIn, Amanda Varga BSW have a social work degree, I’ve got an Instagram, it’s under care treks as well. Those are all great ways to reach out and get to me, on the employer side. The focus right now really is bringing these resources into the workplace.

That the cost of bringing in a benefit like this is minimal compared to even a single employee turning over and needing to recruit a new one. And if you’re going to talk the talk of having this great culture and we support our employees, this is a component that needs to be added to it to help support those employees as they become caregivers. And even if right now workforce.

They don’t see a whole lot of that. Oh, well only 10% of my employees say their caregivers right now. While those 10% are saying it, there’s probably quite a few who aren’t. And doesn’t mean they won’t be tomorrow. Because mom or dad having a stroke or having a fall or experiencing an illness happens suddenly you don’t you don’t get two weeks notice on that. And people find themselves in situations that are going to require their their efforts in their time being put elsewhere. So let’s make resources accessible. Let’s make access to information easy. Yeah.

Roy Barker  54:17

Yeah, and just for goodness sake, have the conversation like you said, Maybe 10% of verbalized it, but there’s probably another 10 or 20% that have been scared to say anything. And again, another great point is things change on a dime. You know, you’re as you’re going through life, it’s all good, but all it takes is one fall one incident and all of a sudden you’re put in that position and so you know how to deal with it.

So, anyway, y’all reach out if you’re a business, reach out, talk to Amanda see how she can help you provide this benefit for your employees. But also if you’re struggling with that, you know, being a caregiver with self care with some of those things reach out should be able to help you in that respect. as well So, thanks so much for taking time out of your day to be here.

Certainly do appreciate it. that’s gonna do it for another episode of The Business of Business Podcast of course I am your host Roy and we are on all the major podcast platforms, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Spotify, if we’re not a one that you listen to please reach out. We’re on all the major social media platforms as well as at So, till next time, take care of yourself and take care of your business.

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