Every caregiving journey is unique. Sometimes a person becomes a caregiver overnight to look after a loved one who needs assistance all of the sudden, and sometimes it happens gradually, like with aging parents who start losing their independence day by day. What all caregiving journeys do have in common is the frustration over the lack of information available out there to answer those early questions almost all caregivers have. Fortunately, our most recent guest to The Caring Support Podcast, entrepreneur Traci Lamb, has made it her life's mission to help caregivers succeed in their journeys through her company Smart Caregiving, and that's exactly what she spoke about during our latest episode.
These are the smart caregiving tips for a successful caregiving journey shared by Traci Lamb:
"There's a lot of companies out there that, if a patient has Alzheimer's, they can find out all the different resources to help with Alzheimer's. Same thing with cancer. Somebody gets cancer, and there are different resources to help them. The problem is that if you're the average person doesn't know about these resources. There are a million different little nuances that can help people tremendously. And that's one of the big things that I wanted to be able to educate people on."
"People think you only call hospice when they're three days from dying and then they're out the door. And that is so not true. Hospice can help people in so many capacities. And that's one of the huge misnomers that I try and educate people with."
"My father -for instance- had nothing. Literally nothing. So the only benefit that we had, and praise God, he had been a vet. And if you're a vet, you need to tap into your veteran benefits. It is the most important thing that you can do. If you don't do it because people say 'well, it takes so long.' Yes, it takes a long time to get set up. But once you get set up, they take care of vision, dental, they take care of everything. My father only served for three years and he got tremendous care, only serving three years. So you don't have to have been a lifer in the military. But the great thing is, is that there are these benefits that people don't tap into because they don't know that they can and they definitely need to because they can help them so much.'
"So you need to check into the facilities really, really well, and sometimes you have no choice. Like with my father, who was a big guy. And we really had no choice but to let him go to a facility because my mother was declining a lot at the time, too. And between her and I, we couldn't take care of him at home. He required too much attention. And it was too hard physically. I mean, literally because he required too much equipment and everything. So sometimes you have no choice, you have to go to a facility. But if you do, just do your legwork and your homework and investigate the facilities and do that."
"This is for the States. I know you guys are in Canada, but here's the thing, or at least down here, from what I've seen, and it's probably this way everywhere. There's good facilities and there's bad facilities. The first facility my father went to was bad. He hated it. And I agreed with him, I didn't like it either. The food was bad, the staffing was horrible. I mean, on weekends, there was almost nobody there. He would call for a nurse, nobody would come. I mean, it was really, really bad. The second one he went to, the one that he actually passed away in, was phenomenal. He loved it. It was great. And I agreed with him. It was a beautifully run facility. They always had people there and if he needed something, he knew he could get it."
I would highly recommend four things: The first would be definitely to get a living will, and if you do not have a living will, get it. Secondly, get a health care surrogate because there will come a time when they may not be able to. Third, make sure that if they go to a facility, you do your homework and you check on the facility and that you're there a lot. If they know you're coming there regularly, they'll take better care of them because they know you're going to be there a lot. And then lastly, I would say if they do have a terminal illness, even if they're not actively dying, don't panic, but go ahead and call hospice for an evaluation. And see if you can either get hospice to come in and help."
"I would get hospice in there as soon as you can because that at home care that hospice provides is really great. They send a nurse out every week to check on the patient. So if the patient needs a change in medication, if they see a decline in the patient that you aren't seeing, they're medically trained so they can see those kinds of things. That really helps, having a nurse come in and see them weekly. Also, I would make sure that if they have any kind of an estate, any kind of financial things, make sure those are getting in order because when they pass away, you're going to have to deal with all of that."
"None of us want to think about somebody dying. It's not a pleasant thing. But if you will prepare ahead of time, your life will be so much simpler, because trust me, when you go through the actual death and everything, you know you're a mess and thinking rationally is not good. So if you've kind of got a few things lined up where you can take care of things, then it's better."
Traci Lamb is an entrepreneur, podcast host, and public speaker who founded Smart Caregiving LLC, a “one-stop-shop “ community of people who take care of loved ones at home, giving them a voice of hope, help and connecting them with a worldwide directory of products and services that help them on their caregiving journey.
About her Smart Caregiving, Traci said: "I started the company three years ago. It was a concept I came up with while I was working at hospice for 15 years. I knew that patients and families taking care of moms and dads and siblings or special needs children at home had tons of questions. They would call us constantly at hospice wanting to know what to do. And they would say 'Well, who do I call?' And there was nobody that could give them an answer. And so several years later, I said: I've worked in the medical field for almost 20 years now, and I have all this information and know about all these various resources that actually can help people. They've helped me personally being a caregiver, even for my own parents, and it didn't seem right that all these people that I know are going through the same journey that I am didn't have anybody to call and find out about the same things that I knew about."
Traci added that "I live in Tampa, Florida, and I was just going to be happy if I could kind of help Floridians and help my small circle of people. I had no idea that literally within 90 days of me launching the company, I would go global, or that companies from around the world would hear about me through LinkedIn, and would start contacting me and saying they love the idea and that they wanted to be involved. It's just been amazing to me, not only the reception that I've gotten from caregivers, but also the reception that I've gotten from companies even such as yours or others that are already kind of in the caregiving field in some capacity. It's not a huge, phenomenal concept. The problem is, is that nobody ever just decided to do it. And I told people from the initial get-go, even if nobody else believes in it, I believe in it."
Furthermore, Traci explained that "there is literally no company in the United States or I even think worldwide that allows you to call about any question any time from anywhere about anything like Smart Caregiving. Now, we don't give medical advice. That's the only thing we don't do. But other than that, we guide you through all the medical questions, all the health care questions. And if you have any kind of question that we don't have the answer for, then within 24 to 48 hours, we will get the answer and we will call you back. And because situations change literally daily. And so for people to be able to call on a daily, weekly, sometimes even an hourly basis, and be able to say, well, this is happening now, who do I call? What do I do about this? And I actually have somebody on the other end of the phone that can say, not a problem. That's it's like a huge burden off so many people. We're trademarked as the only company doing what we're doing. And the other thing that we do is we also offer and this kind of coincides with everything we offer, a worldwide directory of companies like yours and others that offer products and services that help those people."
Traci ended our conversation by telling us about her latest projects: "I have two or three really big things that are going on. CNBC has reached out to me. They are going to be coming down and shooting a professional production about not only me but about the company. And it is going to air on History Channel and Discovery Channel for 12 months. They're going to run it 100 times over 12 months and it's going to be professionally screen written and it's going to be done by a professional TV crew. I also am getting ready to partner with my former hospice. They will be offering our service as a free service to all of their patients. And they are going to get us into all of the hospital networks down here (Florida, United States). We are tentatively in talks about doing a weekly TV show as well. A TV producer is building a huge production studio down here about 30 minutes from where I live, and he's wanting to have a weekly TV show where each week one of our companies comes in and they are as a guest and they would tell a live audience of 7000 caregivers and or more, and it would be a nationwide TV show and they would be able to tell about their company and what they do and how they can help caregivers nationwide. So, we've got some really big phenomenal things kind of in the works. I'm excited to be able to help people. And that's my passion."
We hope you enjoyed this interesting interview featured on our latest podcast episode. Now stay tuned, because we have many other conversations with key players in the healthcare sector coming soon. Sign up for free here.
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