Interview With Caregiver Friend, Lorenzo – His Caregiving Advice – “If You Can’t Love Don’t Do It”

Interview with Current Caregiver Lorenzo

Lorenzo is another friend, like Saia, that I sincerely admire. 

I’ve known Lorenzo for over 35 years.  We met while we attended San Francisco State University.  I came to his aid when I gave him my furnished apartment on Hayes Street, near City Hall.  I offered it to him at a time when he needed a place, and I needed to return home to show my family that I graduated from college.

Later, in early 2001, he would come to my aid after I was laid off, assisting in a move from San Francisco to Houston, Texas.

I assisted him and stood up him in Vienna, when he was escorted off of the train to Prague due to passport issues.  We were traveling with my sister Jackie, and her then ex-husband, who decided to proceed on a trip I sponsored, leaving me and Lorenzo in Vienna to fin for ourselves.  We became best friends that night.

Lorenzo has years of prior geriatric experience, having worked in several institutions, and community centers.  You could say that Lorenzo has experience in my caregiving for my mother.  I confided in him and spoke to him nearly every day during the 4+ year ordeal.  I had similar daily phone conversations with my sister-in-law Leona, as well, but she was disingenuous.

Lorenzo is, however, ‘the real deal’.  I am so blessed to have a friend like him. 

Though he lives in Bermuda, Lorenzo visited me in New Orleans, San Antonio, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Denver, to assist me, and my mother, however required, sometimes just for holiday.

Lorenzo is a ‘true blue’ friend. 

He is one of the few people who can vindicate my caregiving stories.  He was present, via phone, or in person as most of what I have yet to reveal occurred.  In the mid-2000’s I visited Lorenzo and his mother in Bermuda, with my mother.  Both our mothers were vibrant and strong then.

It is intelligent how life unfolds, as I reflect on how first I served as sole caregiver, taking him through my experience, almost in preparation for him serving as sole caregiver today.

Lorenzo’s caregiving situation doesn’t seem as family-confrontational as mine was.  But, we discuss similarities in how family members and others dodge responsibility.

His caregiving situation, though, is equally as challenging, but in a different way.

Lorenzo works 40 hours a week, and cares for his mother, who is displaying early signs of dementia.  He has to coordinate caregiving coverage for his mother, while he works, and must work to supplement caregiving costs.

Lorenzo’s assignment is tough, but he takes it in stride.


He and I believe that caregiving is a Spiritual and Loving experience. 

If you are challenged in either of these areas, maybe caregiving is not for you.  Find another calling, for being solely responsible for a loved one’s wellbeing is not to be played with.

You must seriously see this assignment as serving God and serving Love.


Questions for Lorenzo

Q: For whom are you serving as a caregiver?

A: My mother who is 84 years old.

Q: What are major responsibilities as a caregiver?

A: Most of her needs, some personal, spiritual, emotional and some physical.

Q: Do you work another job?  How do you handle work with caring for a loved one?

A: Yes I work a 40hr week. With the love and grace of God is the only way.

Q: What are the 3 major lessons you’ve learned from caregiving?

A: 3 major enlightenments are;

  1. Having unconditional love,
  2. Maintaining inner peace,
  3. Not depending on a fucking soul.

Q: Being a caregiver can be stressful. How did you manage your stress?

A: Very very stressful. All praises and thank to the Almighty God is how I cope and get by.

Q: Does holiday stress make caregiving more challenging?

A: No nothing changes.

Q: Do you have any advice on how other caregivers can connect parents while they’re caring for them?

A: There has to be spiritual, with unconditional love.

Q: What’s keeping you up at night with regard to caregiving?

A: Nothing keeps me awake. I have to be awake (even when sleeping) to deal with whatever situation arises.

Q: How to keep from reacting when the person your care for pushes your buttons?

A: Have patience to find out what is causing the situation. There is always a reason and answer.

Q:  What are I really proud of right now?

A:  It makes me ecstatic to feel appreciated.  When one is responsible for someone else’s life and wellbeing, blessings come from their knowing they are loved, and that there is someone they can depend on without fear or favor.

Q:  What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?

A: Is that not who God is, next?

Q: What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

A: Wake up. Check on mom, and start the day’s preparations for her, as well as, for my day.

Q: What motivates you?

A: My motivation is God and Love.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?

A: Wherever god wants me. That is where I will be.

Q: What advice would you give to other caregivers?

A:  My advice:

  1. If you can’t love, don’t do it.
  2. Love thy neighbor as thyself.
  3. Treat people the way you would like to be treated.

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for life in general?

A: Keep on giving love.

Q: In ten words or less, what has caregiving taught you?

A: Knowing who God really is and inner peace.

Q: If you had something you could change in your caregiving experience what would it be?

A: Absolutely nothing.

Q: What are some misconceptions people have about caregiving in general?

A: That to succeed, you must be able to recognize and be patient through caregiving recovery processes, and you must respect your loved one as an individual.  Not many understand nor care.  It is up to them to reconcile this with the creator.  They must lean on him.

Q: Do you ever feel like you are missing out?

A: No.  Not a damn thing.

Q:  What is the most rewarding thing?

A:  Being thankful to God for being one of his good and faithful servants.

Q: How did you become the caregiver of your loved one?

A: My mother lived with me for several years.  So, in her most vulnerable stage of life, to me, it was what I am supposed to do, without thought.

Q: How has your relationship changed with your mother?

A: If anything at all, it has made me more empathetic to all in their most vulnerable state. …Much more protective.

Q: What is the hardest thing about being a caregiver?

A: The most challenging parts are:

  1. There has to be structure.
  2. All entering the situation must be of one accord.
  3. Continuity is vital, and if not adhered to must be addressed immediately.

Q:  Do you feel like others, friends, family etc., understand your role as a caregiver? Why or why not?

A: Some do, some don’t. Some have an ‘I can’t be bothered’ attitude, while others figure ‘he’s doing it, and she’s in safe hands’, so I’ll back off.  However, most of their spirits are not right with God, which is most important to have, in order to understand caregiving.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

A: We as humans have forgotten that man became a mortal over 2900 years ago for a very significant purpose.  God made this sacrifice to us all.  You mean to tell me we cannot serve another loved one?  Are we not willing to make a sacrifice, as was made for us?   We should show love to at least one individual to make sure that all of their needs are met, in the most important time of their spiritual life.  I pity the fool, who does not answer this call.

Q: What do you do when you have 15 minutes of free time?

A: With 15 mins of free time, I sit off and enjoy the magnificence of God’s creation. Or sometimes just not think.

Q: Do you take time out for yourself, not just when exhausted, but on a regular basis?  Are you challenged with feeling guilty when you take time out for yourself?

A: Other than the basic necessities I really never gave thought to take time for self. When you plant a seed, it is spiritually amazing to witness growth progress. One would not want to miss a minute of this.  Guilt is not in my vocabulary. 

Q: Have you found that grooming the person you care for improves their mental status?  They say that helping your loved one ‘look good’ can help them feel good, too.

A: Allowing them to make choices on how they want it done assist in their mood.

Q: What’s are some resources or tools you’ve found to help you with caregiving?

A: God’s LOVE through GUIDANCE.Is how I endure

Q: What’s your life really like? So many caregivers are out there feeling like no one understands what they’re going through…but we suspect quite a few of you are going through similar things.

A: I have been told that learning is a lifelong experience.  I love trying to understand senior behavior, my mother’s in particular, and don’t judge it, because their senior status, likes and dislikes, have been so rightly earned.  I also love the adventure of trusting in God. 

 Q: What do you wish you were told before you became a caregiver?

A: Absolutely nothing. Life’s experience is the best teacher.


Poem

My Mother’s Day

Kevy Michaels

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day

To me

I’m mother to my Mother

…And Father

…Daughter

…And anything she needs me to be

“Cause I love her so much

I celebrate her everyday

And I vow to forever honor her

…. Just as the

…Stone tablet says

She gave up her dreams for me

Now, I must do for her

Whatever she cannot do

And I’m unashamed

To do all I can

To be caring

As if I’m a mother too

It brings me joy

To pour love into her life

…A gift

For all she’s given to me

Doing whatever it takes

To make her life peaceful

Joyful

Stress and worry-free

She’s paid high dues for me

Even before I arrived

She paid the ultimate price

It’s would be unthinkable

At this time

Not to give her

This part of my life

So, today if I seem a bit giddy

As my angel and me

Joyful play

I’m honoring her

Just as I always will

But today’s extra special

It’s my Mother’s Day.


Web Posts

Impact and Emotions of Family Caregiving – By Lynne Phillips – June 22nd, 2017

Becoming a caregiver of a loved one stirs up many varied emotions.  It doesn’t matter if you become a caregiver gradually or suddenly, or if you are a caregiver by choice or default. Caregiving can be tough both emotionally and physically.

Facts about the impact of family caregiving

In a recent interview with LovetoKnow Seniors, Suzanne Geffen Mintz, president and co-founder of the National Family Caregivers Association, provided some facts about the impact of family caregiving which may surprise you:

  • There are over 50 million family caregivers in the United States.
  • Family caregivers provide more than 80 percent of home health care services.
  • Family caregivers provide over $300 billion in “free caregiving services” to loved ones every year.

Read More


17 Testimonies From Carers Looking After Family Members – Bim Adewunmi/Alan White – BuzzFeed UK – June 10, 2015

We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about their experiences of being carers. We had a lot of responses. Here are just a few.

  • “I am just so tired.”
  • “The list is never checked off.”
  • “I don’t want to remember him this way.”
  • “It’s all just a learning process.”
  • “We are not robots.”
  • “There is no way to prepare, but the learning curve is quick.”
  • “You find yourself getting lost.”
  • “I don’t know what I would do if I was an only child.”
  • “It just means I need to plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
  • “What saddens me most about media portrayals of the disabled is that the cared for are passive, submissive, accepting, and grateful for help.”
  • “It is my turn to care for her.”
  • “At the best of times it was aggravating and at the worst, brutal.”
  • “As a family, we don’t believe in her going into sheltered or care accommodation, not as long as we can safely and effectively care for her ourselves.”
  • “We had a lot of problems because the roles changed.”
  • “Don’t ask a carer ‘what can I do for you?’ Offer something specific.”
  • “I miss him every day.”
  • “The media talks a lot about childcare, and this is similar. We have a baby monitor.”

Read More


Caregiver Statistics: Demographics – Family Caregiver Alliance – National Center on Caregiving

How Many Caregivers in the U.S.?

  • Approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months.
  • About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months.
  • The majority of caregivers (82%) care for one other adult, while 15% care for 2 adults, and 3% for 3 or more adults.
  • Approximately 39.8 million caregivers provide care to adults (aged 18+) with a disability or illness or 16.6% of Americans.
  • About 15.7 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

Read More


Videos

Family caregiving: Challenges – 2,202 views – Canadian Virtual Hospice – Published on Jan 5, 2012

Kelli Stajduhar, BSN, MSN, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Centre of Aging at the University of Victoria is one of Canada’s foremost experts on palliative care and caregiving.


Caring for the caregivers | Frances Lewis | TEDxSnoIsleLibraries – 24,412 views – TEDx Talks – Published on Jan 12, 2016
This talk was given at a local TEDxSnoIsleLibraries event and produced independently of the TED Conferences. Frances Lewis, university professor and researcher shares tips on caring for those who routinely give care at home or professionally.

Alzheimer’s Effect on Caregivers – 9,450 views – CBS – Published on May 20, 2010
Dr. Jennifer Ashton discussed the health risks for caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease.

Family Caregiver Stress Relief – 15,900 views – Caregiver Stress – Published on May 17, 2013

Family members share their stories about how they became caregivers for their loved ones, and the stresses it can put on their lives, families, emotions, and physical well-being. The challenges faced by these family caregivers can bring a sense of loss and depression, but they are able take comfort in the sense of support and contentment that Home Instead CAREgivers bring to their lives.

Dementia: Walking in the shoes of a caregiver – 4,104 views – wgaltv – Published on Nov 4, 2014

In Part II of Kim Lemon’s series of dementia reports, meet Gloria Easter of York County. Gloria takes care of her mother, Geraldine, who has vascular dementia. (Visit and LIKE Kim’s Facebook page for a list of ways to cope with caregiver stress.)


Caregiving and Family Conflict — AARP Caregiving Resource Center | AARP – 5,364 views – AARP – Published on Feb 12, 2013

Kevy’s Comment:  I smiled when I reviewed this video. 

I did everything that this video suggests, from a reputable Aging Non Profit no less, and none of the suggestions worked with my siblings, including hiring mediators. 

Providing care for a family member can be challenging, so it’s easier when everybody works together. But it’s not uncommon for disagreements to pop up between caregivers. This video offers practical tips on keeping the lines of communication open, minimizing potential problems, and dealing with conflict and disagreement when you are caring for a loved one as a family.


Day in the Life of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver: Heartbreaking – 37,679 views – DavidNazarNews – Published on Feb 6, 2016

Caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients are hidden heroes and sadly these selfless and dedicated people are often times forgotten. See this incredibly emotional story of a daughter who takes care of her beloved Alzheimer’s mom. PBS reporter David Nazar has their story.


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Being cognizant of international visitors, I want to do all that I can to communicate wisdom globally for all.


 

 

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