Warning: Self-Care and Advocacy are Mutually Exclusive- Day 6 of 30 in Family Caregiver Series

30-day Family Caregiver Advocacy Series


Day 6 of 30:  Warning: Self-Care and Advocacy are Mutually Exclusive




We are in day 6 of our 30-day family caregiver series on family advocacy.  In the spirit of giving support and advice for caregivers, by the end of this series, you will have the tools, checklists, and information needed to effective serve as a loved one’s advocate.  We kicked off this series with a top 10 lists of what is means to be an effective advocate. (Day 1) then, I gave you 3 reasons why advocacy is a big deal (Day 2).  Then, I shared the ultimate guide to staying organized; (Day 3).  I showed you ways to be an advocate and affirmed that sometimes it’s okay to upset the applecart on  (Day 4). We covered the four things our lives depend on in (Day 5). Today, we’re tackling self-care and advocacy. Even typing these two things together still causes this body to twitch at times.


If you are an advocate or know someone who is an advocate, this is for you. If you anticipate you will make health care decisions for a loved one, this is also for you.Click to tweet If you would like to avoid the care giving mistakes I made, this is definitely for you. Lastly, this is for you if you think you may need care one day.


Part 3:  The ultimate rollercoaster (Day 6 & 7)


·       1.  Warning: Self –Care and Advocacy are Mutually Exclusive (Day 6)


·       2. Frustration, guilt and overwhelm: The ultimate rollercoaster (Day 7)



Part 4:  The 3 C’s that make all the difference (Day 8-10)


Part 5: The surprising truth about who needs an advocate (Day 11-13)


Part 6:  5 ways you must keep your loved ones safe (Day 14-18)


Part 7:  What? I have how much time to decide where they go? (Day 19 – 30)



Day 5:  Warning: Self –Care and Advocacy are Mutually Exclusive


I am responsible for my loved one’s care.  What? Where the hell is my advocacy manual? They must have forgotten to give it to me. The same thing happened when I brought my kids home from the hospital! No parenting manual ~uuggghh .


Balancing your advocacy role with your already full life is quite the roller-coaster.  As if that isn’t enough, you also have frustration, guilt – on some level, exhaustion and overwhelm. The tug of war within your body eventually wears on you; yet you don’t have time to sit around and wallow because you must stay on top of things.  One oversight can create yet one.more.thing. to do. 

“We have a responsibility to be a voice for our loved ones when they don’t have a voice. “   ~ Tandy Elisala


 Balancing this role with your already full life responsibilities



Imagine having a conversation with a friend about how busy your life is and how you aren’t sure how you would fit something like school, exercise, volunteer work or time for a hobby into your already full life. Then, you get a phone call that changes your life. You suddenly find yourself taking care of a loved one. This could be in person or long distance. It could be in a hospital, in their home, in your home or in an assisted living facility. Suddenly, you find yourself in new territory. A life you thought was under ‘control’ now suddenly rips through your home, heart and body like a hurricane and you wonder what the hell this means for everyone in your life and your career/job, as applicable. What about your retirement savings? If you are raising a family and now find yourself caring for a loved one, overwhelm doesn’t even begin to underscore the changes in your life.  If you are managing care from a distance, how do you know things are going as they should be?


Yet, you must figure it out.  Your loved one’s care depends on it. Their life may depend on it.  There are a few key things that will help you in your journey as an advocate and help you stay sane. They include:


a.     Get and stay organized.  Create a patient medical and life management system. My detailed organization checklist here is a good place to start.


b.     Ask for support.  Now, more than ever, is the time for help. Click to tweet


c.      Be present, to the extent possible, when doctors and case managers visit your loved one. If your loved one is in a hospital, this may mean spending the night. I found 85% of our doctors visited and evaluated my dad between 5:00am – 6:30am.


d.     Ask questions. Talk to the case manager assigned to your loved one at least twice weekly; if not more often, as the situation warrants.  Talk to the nurses. Get to know the nurses and other professional staff involved in your loved ones’ care. Click to tweet


e.     If you work outside the home, discuss your situation with your supervisor and the appropriate human resources staff. Depending on the situation, discuss your family medical leave benefits, alternative work schedules or anything else specific to your work place that can be done to help you during this time. NOTE: Many of my clients experience more absenteeism and reduced productivity during intense care giving phases. I realize all companies differ in their values, mission, management styles and goals. That said, it’s important to note that companies are in business to make money. They want to see a good bottom line. It’s important to be honest and work together through this difficult time. If you feel you can’t be open and honest with those that need to know your needs, you probably want to reevaluate your long-term outlook with the company.



These are just some of the basic things you’ll want to do. Consider it part of your advocacy manual!



Next Up: Part 3 ~ Frustration, guilt and overwhelm: The ultimate rollercoaster


Your Turn:  Are you or have you been a family care giving advocate? What resources did you use to help guide you in this role?  What do you think is the most challenging aspect of being a caregiver? Please comment below!



Order  Healing Through the Chaos: Practical Care-Giving  at http://www.tandyelisala.com   or http://www.amazon.com    click to tweet



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Warning signs that your medical provider may not be the right fit for you Click to tweet * Insider information on how to document life impacts on your health Click to tweet * Easy ways to ensure all your medical providers know you as a WHOLE person * Tips to help you identify health and life trends that may affect your well-being * How to stop wasting time gathering medical history information for appointments, surgeries, ER visits, etc… Go to http://www.iprovidepeace.com  for your free gift now.  Click to tweet



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Tandy Elisala

Family Caregiver Coach, Cancer Empowerment Advocate and Chief Inspiration Officer at Center for Inspiring Greatness | Empowered Family Caregiver
Tandy Elisala is passionate about helping family caregivers go from being overwhelmed and stressed to empowered and calm. Tandy went through cancer four times and learned how to heal using conventional, complementary, and alternative therapy. Tandy left her corporate career to take care of both parents simultaneously while raising three kids as a single mom. She took care of both parents for 2 1/2 years until their respective deaths. Tandy now teaches what she learned on her journey. Tandy is a family caregiver coach, a multiple best-selling author, inspirational speaker and mom to three adult kids, one angel dog and one diva cat.

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10 replies
  1. Kimberly Eldredge
    Kimberly Eldredge says:

    Ask questions! And never feel that it’s a stupid question either. If you don’t understand, ask again or ask for clarification. While the doctors and nurses care, NOBODY cares at the level you do.

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Right on, Kim! You are so so so so on point about nobody caring as much as family does for our loved one. I like to say that while the buck stops with us, the medical team and family make a terrific team in caregiving.

  2. Christine Alejandro
    Christine Alejandro says:

    One of the things that helped when I was going through this (advocating for 3 family members over a total of 24 years) was that I kept acknowledging how upset and drained I was while at the same time reminding myself that “it” (the illness, procedure, dying) wasn’t even happening TO ME, it was happening TO THEM and in a way, it was an honor that I was getting to experience this gift of “end of life” with them. Thank you for giving caregivers a voice!

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Christine, what a beautiful sentiment. Acknowledging your feelings and where you were with things is important. You got it right that it was happening to THEM yet you were very much impacted. I think it’s beautiful you saw your caregiving experience as an honor. What a healthy way to look at things, Christine.

  3. Rena McDaniel
    Rena McDaniel says:

    Hi Tandy! Great job once again! Being a caregiver like I am and also a patient your posts are very valuable to me. Getting organized was easy for me but staying organized is the hard part. Thanks once again thanks for the great advice.

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Hi Rena, thanks for your comments! I’m so glad you are getting good information from these posts. I hear ya’ about staying organized. It sounds like another blog post I need to write with tips on how to stay organized. Hummmmmmm

  4. Kim Steadman
    Kim Steadman says:

    This is such a timely piece. After my mom’s stroke in 2012 I became more aware of the need I would need to become more involved in her health needs. I wasn’t prepared then. I’m more prepared now but your series will help me to be ultimately prepared. Thanks for a very informational series.

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Kim, thanks for your comments. I’m glad this information was valuable for you as you help care for your mom. I invite you to check out my entire series. Among my blog page, there are a few popular blog series including “How to deal with difficult people” and “How to avoid emergency medical care mistakes.” Great seeing you here and let’s stay connected!

  5. Katrina
    Katrina says:

    Wow, I haven’t even considered this yet. But I know that I am going to have to look at how I plan to help my family. Thank you for this resource. You are amazing.

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Thanks for your comments Katrina. You are very welcome. I’m glad you found my caregiving and advocacy post beneficial. 🙂


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