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Stephanie Erickson – Helping Older Adults With Dementia and Their Families

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Stephanie Erickson
Stephanie Erickson

Stephanie Erickson, author of Plan for Aging Well, was born and raised in California. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work, is a Certified Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment Specialist (CADTS) and is licensed in both Quebec and California.

She founded Erickson Resource Group, a clinical practice providing decision-making capacity evaluations for legal proceedings and expert opinions related to support for older adults.  She also provides online consulting services for caregivers throughout North America. As a Family Caregiving Expert, she is a regular contributor on media outlets throughout the U.S. and Canada discussing topics related to caregiving and health and well-being, as well as the host of several caregiving web series.

Stephanie is passionate about sharing her experience and knowledge and encouraging others to take control of their health and advocate on behalf of vulnerable populations. As a mom and entrepreneur, free time is hard to find. Yet, Stephanie always carves out time to train on the flying trapeze. She lives in Montreal with her husband, two children and energetic golden retriever.

Hanh: [00:04:08] I want to ask you, like how do you go about building a collaborative support team for an aging relative?

Stephanie: [00:04:16] Well, I think it all starts with the person who had concerns, so that aging person, and often I find, and you may be too, just even in your friendship circle or in your collegial circle that we forget that the, and I’ll just use this term now, the patient, but the person I’m speaking about is a person who needs assistance should be central to any.

Stephanie: [00:04:36] Team that’s created, right? Because it’s their life, it’s their expectations, their value system. It’s their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their anxieties, it is about them. So I think that the caregiving team starts with that central person. And then it expands to those that are closest to that person. So that’s going to be the family members who are either providing direct assistance or [00:05:00] peripherally helping her, or some sort of assistance all the way out to.

Hanh: [00:07:52] So what are some simple ways to meet? The mind, the body, the spiritual needs of an aging loved one.

Stephanie: [00:07:59] So our culture. Our society focuses on the body when it comes to health. That’s always what people focus on primarily is the aches and pains. And then what are the interventions to solve those aches, aches, and pains? What surgery, what medication we’re really focused on that. And then when it comes to aging, That’s the same thing that happens is people are looking at the body and there is an interventionist-based model where they’re looking for the solution that surgery, that treatment, that medication.

Hanh: [00:09:23] It’s usually spiritual. I believe. Your spirit that calms your wellbeing. And I think it perhaps could even help your physical and your mental I’m a Christian. So I use that the spirit strength to give me the day-to-day direction, the moral compass, and also the physical and the mental strength.

Stephanie: [00:09:47] So for you, it is connected to religion and that’s beautiful. And so, as you get older, that religious.

Hanh: [00:13:27] How do you initiate these difficult conversations? So they’re not. Any harder than they need to be,

Stephanie: [00:13:33] but it depends. If you’re asking me as a professional, how do I initiate? Or how do I recommend families do it,

Hanh: [00:13:40] but how do you work with families to initiate these kinds of these types of conversations so that it’s he’s or diffuse the tension?

Stephanie: [00:13:49] So it depends. So the conversation tension, meaning within families or, or conversations about aging in general, or are you talking about conflict and families?

Hanh: [00:13:56] Conversations with family, with regard to caring for parents and grandparents, just everything that you’re describing, perhaps even caring the folks with dementia. You’re talking about senior living housing, the different options, pretty much planning for the agent journey.

Stephanie: [00:14:13] And so I would always start with a question is what did your mom. What was your mom’s thoughts on this? Because usually it’s the adult child calling me is rarely the actual senior older adult.

Stephanie: [00:14:25] So I’ll go from the, I get the call from the daughter, the son, the niece, the nephew granddaughter. Whoever’s caring. So my question, my first question is always, what does your mom want? Can she express that to you? And did she put it in writing because legal documents are really important to have in place power of attorney healthcare, surrogates.

Stephanie: [00:14:45] Durable power of attorney. That’s called different things in different areas of the world, but it’s basically, who’s the person who’s represent you. Should you not be able to represent yourself? Who’s going to manage your money. Who’s going to make those healthcare decisions, those documents. So those are my [00:15:00] questions.

Hanh: [00:23:48] So I know that how hard it can be to have a sense of, let’s say work-life balance and trying to be an entrepreneur and a mom at the same time. So are there any techniques that you use to find a good balance?

Stephanie: [00:24:03] I do like my rum and Coke on Friday and Saturday nights. I’ve always worked from home, which comes with a lot of challenges, but we, when we extended our house, about 12 years ago, we built a small little room off the garage. Which we turned into a gym and that has been amazing for me. I’ve always been someone who’s taken care of myself in terms of working out.

[00:24:24] So I make it a point to work out five, six days a week. That really helps me maintain some sort of balance. I do struggle with anxiety.

Hanh: [00:25:32] Yeah, no, I hear you entrepreneur. It doesn’t go with the nine to five it’s around the clock. And there are pros to that. Just like you described some days, it’s you have the freedom, the flexibility to own your time, but there is no such thing as 95.

Hanh: [00:26:26] What do you think is your biggest strength that enables you to have a unique, impactful effect on older adults and families and their loved ones?

Stephanie: [00:26:35] They’re very empathetic. Started probably from birth, just genetically that’s who I am. I also experienced abuse as a young child and even as a young adult. So those traumas, although created some really horrendous times for me throughout my life, the positive part about it is that I have been able to use that in [00:27:00] those feelings as a way to understand people’s pain and to be present with them.

[00:27:05] In their pain in a balanced way so that I’m taking care of myself, but I’m also helping to support them.

[00:27:27] Situations and just to go back for a minute, Hong, what I was saying about, um, going on the journey with people is I recognize that things don’t go away. There’s a lot of things we can’t change. And so I know that for myself. So when I can accompany a family member, On that journey and just be their sounding board and give them that validation and help to support them and normalize what they’re experience experiencing that in of itself can be very healing for people.

Hanh: [00:28:08] I think it’s wonderful. And I agree with you. I think anyone who deals with families, daughters, sons, spouses of an older adult that has to make a decision going to. Dementia care or any sorts of milestone changes in their lives.

Hanh: [00:32:12] Thank you so much. Do you have anything else that you would like to share?

Stephanie: [00:32:15] My book plan for aging? Well, Is available on Amazon CA amazon.com. Any of the Amazon’s really can search my name’s Stephanie Erickson. Stephanie is with a P H Erickson is with a C K. And the title of the book plan for aging. So, feel free to purchase it and leave a review. And I hope it helps you and your family in your journey. Thank you.

Hanh: [00:32:37] I appreciate it. And best to you.

You can learn more about Stephanie at www.stephanieerickson.ca or find her on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram.

Stephanie’s personal website: https://stephanieerickson.ca/

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