Keeping it REAL Caregiving: educating, raising awareness & telling REAL Stories
That is the goal of the eldercare education, storytelling and advocacy platform that I am proud to say is moving into year number two! Keeping it REAL Caregiving is the latest online platform brought to you by Julia Yarbough Media Group.
I would like to say THANK YOU to all of you who have already joined this movement and shared your stories. I launched the Keeping it REAL Caregiving website in March 2021 with little fanfare. The goal was to first get a sense of what this concept could become. Less than a year later, it seems the idea to capture caregiver voices and turn that into a tool for education and change is working.
In the fall of 2021, Keeping it REAL Caregiving was invited to join a select group of national independent writers as part of the Meta Bulletin, an online bi-weekly newsletter publication. This development makes me so proud to know the vision can reach and help thousands! Let me catch you up…
Keeping it REAL Caregiving bulletin newsletter
The moment I became a family caregiver
When I think back to the moment I became a family caregiver, it would have been New Year’s Eve, 2000. (Or Y2K as many remember the transition of moving from 1999 into 2000). We thought for certain all computer systems would crash, banking systems implode and life as we knew it would change. It did not. But in some ways, my life did change.
That is the year I moved my mother from California, to live near me in South Florida. She was advancing in age, but still managed on her own. I handled the heavy lifting:
- Securing medical care
- Helping her get situated at a senior center for daily entertainment and activities
Julia Yarbough & Nellie Yarbough/South Florida
The next 20 years taught me how little I knew about the realities of caring for an aging loved one. It also taught me how many of the current systems which are in place, can fail our elders.
In some cases, the task of caring for a loved one becomes overwhelming for family. It should not be this hard to ensure our loved ones have a safe, loving and as healthy-as-possible final chapter.
I often say, we all ultimately have two choices in this life. We continue to age and there is a good chance various items will start to go haywire with our bodies and health. If that happens we must accept that we will need help. The alternative is we die.
For those who accept and embrace what is behind doorway one – let’s call that AGING – they learn that getting old is not always easy.
Mom’s decline forced an education
With each new medical phase, I also learned our current systems and frameworks for families caring for our elders often fall short of the kinds of help needed most.
I’m talking about hands-on help for day-to-day living and survival. It is wonderful if an agency (local, state, regional) designed to address these needs receives funding, but that money doesn’t help the grown son who is a family caregiver to an aging father and who must tend to his father’s every need throughout the day.
Keeping it REAL Caregiving Website
How do we assist?
I don’t think there are any easy answers. The positive aspect, is that there is now greater and growing awareness of how family caregiving is taking a toll on our population.
For years I felt as if I was alone. I wasn’t. And neither are the thousands of others now in the role of caregiver. Caring for my mother, Miss Nellie gave me a unique perspective of what is necessary inside our homes and out, including:
- Adapting a home for the safety of your elder
- Securing additional caregiving assistance
- Understanding health insurance and hospital visits
- Navigating the myriad of senior living facility options and how to research those facilities
- Identifying doctors trained in geriatric needs
- Reviewing family finances & life-planning documents
- Recognizing the emotional and career impacts to family caregivers
The act of family caregiving can be one of the most rewarding jobs one will ever have, but make no mistake — it has the propensity to ‘kick your butt.”
Family caregiving is a classic case of ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ and that reality can lead to stress, chaos and the chance your loved one may not receive the full care, safety and respect they deserve as an elder.
Why Keeping it REAL Caregiving?
That is why I created www.KeepingitREALCaregivingKeeping.com. My goal is to provide REALand practical tools to help those moving into the caregiving space.
At KeepingitREALCaregiving.com my goal is to guide others by sharing the many lessons, challenges, failures and success learned along the path of caring for my mother and to highlight stories from others.
You will also see and hear personal stories from elders; lessons they have learned along their life journey and how younger individuals can more effectively assist them.
Keepingit REALCaregiving.com offers the opportunity to join a unique group of individuals committed to improving family caregiving through a variety of video presentations, webinars, podcasts and supportive events.
Members who join the KIRC community will find guidance, support, practical information and the opportunity to become more involved in advocacy efforts to ensure our elders and the next generation — ALL OF US – are well cared for in our golden years.
How can you get involved?
Businesses and organizations wishing to schedule presentations can also book my services for events.
This is a labor of love ❤️❤️❤️ and a continual work-in-progress.
Sadly, Miss Nellie did not live to see this vision come to fruition. She passed away September 1, 2020. But in her memory, I hope to use all the lessons I learned along the journey to help as many others as possible. I know she would be proud of the work.
JULIA YARBOUGH A multiple Emmy-Award winning broadcast journalist, Julia Yarbough has more than 25 years experience anchoring and reporting, covering hard news, environmental, education and human interest stories. Yarbough served as family caregiver to her elderly mother. That role inspired her desire to help others move through the family caregiving reality.
Yarbough has been selected as a 2022 American Society on Aging Rise Leadership Development Program Fellow. She currently serves as a member of the California Department of Aging Master Plan for Aging Equity in Aging Advisory Committee. She was also selected as a 2020 Fellow for the Journalists in Aging Program by the Gerontological Society of America. In that role, Julia produced numerous educational segments highlighting the challenges faced by those caring for elders. She partnered with the Northern California agency, PASSAGES, a Butte County representative agency for the California Department of Aging, to provide an eldercare community awareness and educational webinar. Julia is available for speaking engagements, bookings for moderating sessions and brand ambassador opportunities for products and services within the eldercare space.