PP 212: Preparing Your Business for Aging Parents with Ruth Ullmann
Quick Show Notes – Preparing Your Business for Aging Parents with Ruth Ullmann
Ruth Ullmann was a successful business owner when she moved cross country to take care of her own aging parents. While she thought she could juggle her business and caretaking, she ended up losing her business. Ruth now helps small businesses thrive as the owners spend 20+ hours a week caring for aging parents.
Listen as we chat about the need to be working ON our business rather than IN it, how to navigate the elder care system, how many years the stress of care-giving takes off our lives and more!Listen as @MyECJourney and @thekimsutton chat about the need to be working ON our business rather than IN it, how to navigate the elder care system, how many years the stress of care-giving takes off our lives and more! https://www.thekimsutton.com/pp212Click To Tweet
Connect with Ruth Ullmann
KIM: Welcome back to another episode of Positive Productivity. I am so happy to have you here. And I’m also thrilled to introduce our guest today Ruth Ullman. Ruth is the owner of My Elder Care Journey. And as, you know, on the Positive Productivity Podcast, life is not all about perfection in a while. I’ve already had one awesome Podcast chat with Ruth technically just happened. So I’m thrilled to be having another conversation with Ruth here with you today. Ruth welcome back.
RUTH ULLMANN: Thanks so much Kim.
KIM: You are so welcome. Ruth, can you share your background with the listeners, then share more about what you do today? Sure. – I help small businesses realign, so that business can thrive while the owners spend 20 hours a week caring for aging parents. And you’ll wonder why it take 20 hours a week. And it’s because studies have shown that when you start caring for aging parents, the average is 20 hours a week.
RUTH ULLMANN: How I got here? I started doing business consulting many years ago, for large corporations. So, I was an internal business consultant, and organizational consultant, and executive coach. So I did that for a long time. Got a call from my parents saying: “We really need help”. Move back to the Midwest from California. And started my own consulting company and executive search firm. And that went really well for probably 12 years. Grew probably 30% a year with no advertising so, we were must have been doing really good work. We’ve got plenty of referrals.
My parents got more sick and needed more help. And I thought I could manage, because I had solved so many other problems in business. Both domestic and international. I thought I had the skills to resolve any problem but what I didn’t know then, is that things happened quickly. That the emotions involved in taking care of aging parents and how quickly things happened. It really makes that decision making much more difficult. And I have since learned that when you are under stress, you’re – all your energy, your blood flows to your arms and legs because you are in fight or flight. And what you really need is to have as much blood in your brain because you have to make difficult decisions, and that’s where you don’t have it.
RUTH ULLMANN: So when I look back at some of the decisions I made with them. I wondered: “What on earth was I thinking”. And clearly, the stress had made it impossible to think clearly. So when I say: “You won’t make your best decisions when you’re unprepared under stress”, I know what I’m talking about. So, once my parents had passed away. I knew that I wasn’t the only one going through this. Many of my friends were going through it as well. And I started doing some research. And I found that there are 10 million adult children over the age of 50 that are caring for aging parents. That anyone who has a small business like I have, and is still working in that business and providing service or that is the sales engine and you step away for 20 hours a week. If you don’t have anyone else doing that, your business comes to a screeching halt. And that was my fatal, fatal flaw. And that’s what I’m helping people avoid in the future.
KIM: Ruth, I’m not 40 yet. But my mom’s gonna be 70 in just a couple weeks. And she’s already had – I believe two strokes. So I can’t even, I can’t even imagine. I mean, it’s hard enough handling one kid when they get sick for a day. So I can’t even imagine how it would upturn. What’s the word I’m looking for. That’s that’s the only one that came to my head right then. But if I had to up and go to New York to take care of my mom or bring her back here. And my parents are divorced but even my father he had a heart attack. Let me think, sixteen years ago. And –
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah.
KIM: – it’s regardless of – I think that even millennials and 30-year-olds and 40-year-olds. You know, we all have to be thinking about this already.
RUTH ULLMANN: I agree. The study that I cited was from AARP. And AARP’s membership starts at age 50. So they don’t, they don’t take into account that many people in their 40s and some in their late 30’s are involved in caring for aging parents. It started for me in my 40s too.
KIM: Yeah. I had my first when I was 23. So he’ll be a little bit older. But my twins weren’t born until I was, let me think, 36 35.
RUTH ULLMANN: Wow. Yeah.
KIM: So, I mean, they’re still gonna be pretty young when I am getting up there. Hopefully, you know, they won’t. We all pray for easy deaths. I hate to say it like that. Look, I know –
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah. We all pray for it to be quick and painless and easy.
KIM: Yeah. So what could you share with the listeners how you are helping people through your business?
RUTH ULLMANN: So, there are two parts. One is with small businesses, you really need to set yourself up. So that you are the leader of your business that you are not working ‘in it’, that you were – you’re working ‘on it’. That somebody else is providing the services is. Bringing in the revenue that you are putting out your vision. Sharing that with the people that work for you and they do the work for you. And that will give you some time to take care of your parents. And have a life and still be able to keep your business going.
The other portion is, How to navigate elder care. That is a system that, at this point is very – siloed. So there is a portion of, you get some legal advice, you get some financial advice. And then nobody gives you advice on how to take care of yourself. But then there’s some advice you’ll get about home care. There’s advice you’ll get about assisted living and nursing home. But no one ties it all together. And they are tied together. Everything is what the legal team does for you will affect how you can get the money. So that you can make decisions and pay bills for your loved ones when they can’t. It will help you – you need that information to make decisions for home care and assisted living. It all ties together but nobody does that. So I spent four years interviewing all the people that support elder care to understand their business. To understand what we do when we enter into that elder care system.
RUTH ULLMANN: What we do wrong? What we should ask? And I was pleasantly surprised that all the people I talked to were really candid. They gave me information that blew my mind. And none of them charged me for the consultation. And some of these attorneys I talked to, some were making $300 an hour, some were making $900 an hour. And I asked them why they would spend an hour to an hour and a half with me. And they said: “Because nobody ties us together and nobody’s doing that piece that helps people navigate through all the different sections”. So I was really grateful. I wasn’t sure how I was gonna pay for all those interviews. But I was really grateful for the information and particularly for their candor.
KIM: Ruth, is there a study on how much it’s costing the children financially over the course of the elder care journey?
RUTH ULLMANN: Yes. There is. Actually it’s done by MetLife. It is, for the average male or female caregiver aged 50 plus. It is $303,880 in lost wages.
KIM: Oh my goodness! I can’t even imagine that.
RUTH ULLMANN: And that’s the average. I can tell you it costs me more because I lost my business.
RUTH ULLMANN: And it was for a pretty long period of time. What people don’t understand is that because of the way we have the health care system, it can extend our lives for a very long time. But we also need a whole lot more help because we’re not at 100% anymore. So, caregiving can last 10 to 20 plus years. And if you’re doing that for 20 hours a week on average, and that gets to be more than 20, as they get, as their situations decline. That’s a long time to be shooting from the hip.
KIM: Absolutely. Right, my goal is not even to be working in my business 20 hours a week. But that’s because I wanna have the system set up, so I don’t need to be. Right?
RUTH ULLMANN: Right. Yeah
KIM: But it’s gonna sound horrible. Please don’t think poorly of me listeners or Ruth. But I don’t wanna be taking care of my parents for 20 hours a week either. Like I wanna –
RUTH ULLMANN: I understand that but there’s a different –
KIM: I feel so bad having just said that.
RUTH ULLMANN: No. Well, I couldn’t do the hands on caregiving. You know, the toileting,the dressing. That kind of thing. That just what I – I would lose – I would have lost my mind. So I hired homecare to do that. But there’s a whole other piece. Taking care of the finances, taking care of the legal issues, to being their health care advocate, running around to pharmacies, physical therapy. All that kind of thing. You really need to have somebody in your family do that. It doesn’t necessarily have to be you. But somebody in the family needs to be the health care advocate. You don’t want to give a stranger the financial responsibilities or the legal. So this is – these are things that – I did all of that. And that was – it wasn’t possible to do most of those things on the weekends or evenings.
KIM: Right. One of my former clients. She lives outside of Boston and her mother lives a couple hours away. And she’ll get a call when her mother had a health issue. So she’ll have to drive the couple of hours to the assisted living facility. And there, she is a dear friend now. She’s not – still a client. But she’ll spend a day, a good day or two, running around to doctor’s appointments. And then the pharmacies on the other side of town. I live in Ohio. So the pharmacy is 3 minutes away and I may have to wait 10 minutes for medication.
But I remember the days of living outside of New York City, where it took a half an hour to drive the quarter mile to the grocery. So you could easily, just I can’t even. – Yeah. There’s a lot of time there and if you don’t have your system set up on the back and, there goes a whole day of work or two or three or four in this case, you know.
RUTH ULLMANN: Well, as your parents get older it’s not just one doctor. They had –
KIM: All the specialist.
RUTH ULLMANN: primary care doc. Yeah. All the specialists. So, in a day, for me it was a 45 minute drive to get to my parents house. Then I had to make sure that they were ready to go. So that took another half an hour and then it was a 15 minute drive to – 15 minutes half an hour drive to the doctor. Then you sit there for a while. You get your 15 minute appointment. And then, it’s either an X-ray or it’s always a prescription pick up. And that, so, it was easily a half a day, for one doctor.
KIM: I mean, just one day with a sick kid is painful enough, because a doctor’s appointment – there are, it’s a rare occasion when you schedule a doctor’s appointment and you get right in, when you’re supposed to. But I want to jump back to what you are helping with people. Let me – wow, that was a Willy Wonka. What you are helping people with now, since we talked last and I want to thank you for this. I’ve actually been setting up systems in my own business to make sure that I’m covered.
RUTH ULLMANN: Oh! Good.
KIM: I’ve got – I’ve been building my team. And I’ve actually been positioning myself as more of a strategist for the implementation team on the back end. So, yeah, it feels great. And then building out a membership program, where all the content is online minus 90 minute call weekly with the whole group. So –
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah. That’s great.
KIM: Yeah. It feels so great to know that. Okay – full disclosure, none of this is actively working yet, but I feel so good knowing that when it does start going and flowing and bringing in revenue, that I’ve got more coverage there.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s what small businesses need, they, you need to have some good systems in place. You need to have some people in place that you can say: “I’m going to be gone for a week, a couple of weeks. I’ll check in and that everything keeps working.”
KIM: Oh absolutely. I don’t think I shared this on our first discussion. I don’t know that I ever shared it on the Positive Productivity Podcast. But in August of 2015 my family and I took a weeklong trip to go visit my family in western New York.
And it felt like all hell broke loose with the business because the systems just weren’t setup properly. And I’m not saying that this is what would happen – if this is what would happen with your clients and those clients need to be fired. But one of my clients actually sent me a suicide threat via text message, if I did not work while I was on vacation.
RUTH ULLMANN: Oh my.
KIM: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t work with that type anymore. But what was I supposed to do?
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah
KIM: You know, I was trying to take a vacation. Not even to mention, you know, what if I was there trying to take care of my parents.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah.
KIM: And it just was not a good spot to be in.
RUTH ULLMANN: No it’s not. It’s, and I hear people say they work 60 70 hours a week. And it’s like, you cannot do any strategic thinking, if you’re working that much.
KIM: No absolutely not.
RUTH ULLMANN: So you’re doing. You’re doing a lot of busy work but are you bringing in revenue to equate to that many hours? You’ve got – and it’s unhealthy. If you do this for a long period of time, you’re going to make yourself sick. And if you’re sick, then you can’t take care of your parents and everybody suffers for that.
KIM: Coincidentally, the last episode of the Positive Productivity Podcast with Paula Brown episode 210. Listeners you can go to TheKimSutton.com/PP210. Paula actually had an aneurysm in her stomach caused by too much stress.
RUTH ULLMANN: Oh boy.
KIM: And she actually died. And but she came back.
RUTH ULLMANN: Oh my God!
KIM: You know, they were able to resuscitate her. But – a very interesting conversation. But she realized right then, this is not something that she can be doing to herself. She can not be putting herself under that much stress and neither can any of us.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah that’s —
KIM: Oh absolutely. So what are the first things that you look at with your clients and are there – what type of systems do you help them set up straight from the get go.
RUTH ULLMANN: I start first with a personal decision. So, defining the role that you will play when you’re helping your aging parents. So, can you do 20 hours a week? And if not. What can you do? And I say: “Be conservative”, because you’ll do more than what you say. And then we start from there. Then we do a business consultation where, I and the client look at their business together. We identify what they love to do, and where they struggle, and what they would like to see in the future. So, it’s their chance to dream. I also have them have a family discussion. So, they understand what their parents and their loved ones want as they age. And knowing that, makes it easier for you to make the best decisions for them when they’re unable. So, this is their time with their family, to make some agreements and set some boundaries. Then we take that information. And we do a collaborative business alignment. So together we’ll incorporate their personal decision, how much time they have and the role that they will play. What they dream that their business could be and what they learn from their family discussion. And then we realign the business, so that it meets those needs.
KIM: This sounds like one of the cases. Sorry to interrupt you.
RUTH ULLMANN: That’s okay.
KIM: But it sounds like one of the case is just like self care. Like, – as far as, us visiting our own doctors. And doing the things that we need to for ourselves physically and mentally, which is still is. But if we don’t prepare and we don’t take care of ourselves in advance, or in this case our parents, then it’s just going to be so much more expensive in the long run. I actually shared recently in a post on Thrive Global, how by not taking care of myself, I had to spend six days in the mental hospital.
RUTH ULLMANN: Oh my God.
KIM: And that ended up costing me like thirty to forty thousand dollars. Just those six days.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah. Sometimes I think we go through those things as a really big learning lesson.
KIM: Oh, absolutely. Plenty of content for the Positive Productivity Podcast.
RUTH ULLMANN: But there are so many things that, you know, if you’ve never been through taking care of your aging parents, you have no idea what’s coming. And you don’t know what it’s going to cost you. And I’d like to talk about that a little bit. So, outside of that, the number of years you will be involved in caregiving, however, you define that for yourself. And the time that you invest the 20 hours or so. But the health impact, the stress of caregiving can cause a caregiver as much as 10 years of their life. And that was a study done by the University of California. There was also a study done by Ohio State. Same health impact, only they came up with eight years. So it’s going to cost you between 8 and 10 years of your life. From taking care of your aging loved ones, because the stresses are significant. If you don’t have a plan, and most of us don’t, because we don’t know this much was going to cost us. And we earlier, we talked about what financially what it was going to cost the $303 880 in lost wages on average. But there is also another study done by MetLife. And 60% of caregivers are employed and adjust their work or quit entirely. 47% of caregivers use all or most of their savings.
When I but I started doing this research, I thought about, I knew what it already cost me. But had I known this in advance, I know my parents would have said: “Don’t do this. We don’t want you, we don’t want that to cost you this much”. They wouldn’t have wanted this for me. I didn’t want it for me. But you just don’t know what’s coming. So, I’m really hoping that people will listen. Really take this in and think about, how this could affect them and make some changes.
KIM: Ruth, I know that your parents wouldn’t have wanted it for you and you certainly didn’t want it for you. But do you think it was supposed to happen, just so you could be where you are today educating people?
RUTH ULLMANN: I think of that often. And I went to business school. And everything I know about businesses don’t start a business, where you are, where the people that you’re helping are not yet in pain, because they won’t change until they’re in pain. And I am doing just that, the opposite of what I have learned in business to do. So, it is a hard sell, because thinking about your parents aging, seeing them decline, and die. We all know that’s coming but we don’t want to think about it. So, we don’t want to prepare for it and we just – even when you go and visit, your parents will be on their best behavior because they’re so happy to see you. They don’t want to burden you with all the things they struggle with, because they want to have the best time they can, with a limited time that you you have together. So, you don’t want to see it. They are trying to hide it. And that is a difficult thing to step back and say: “I’m going to take a really good look around. And we’re going to have a really candid conversation about what’s happening here.”
KIM: I’m just thinking about a situation, when I was going through high school. There was a, my high school team, and this is a little bit different from elder care. My high school’s soccer team, when I was a senior in high school, went to the state tournament. And there was a group of my fellow classmates who, I don’t know if they ditch school. Let’s just say for this purpose that they did, but they ditch school. And went to the game and unfortunately they got into a horrible car accident on the way there. And one of the girls ended up being becoming severely brain damaged. So, I know for this in the case of her mother, it changed her mother’s career.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah.
KIM: I know this is a Positive Productivity Podcast but we don’t know where any day is going to take us. While we have to be prepared, while we can be prepared because it’s going to happen most likely that we need to take care of our aging parents. Our life can change in the blink of an eye. And suddenly, we have to take care of a spouse or significant other or a child of ours, in a way that we never saw coming. So, what you’re teaching people isn’t just valid for taking care of parents, but to me it should be taught to every person for protecting their business and their livelihood from the point of the beginning of the business.
RUTH ULLMANN: I agree. I wish, I wish I had known, what I’m teaching people now before this happened to me. That’s as – many of the solutions that I have were things that I was looking for. And you are overwhelmed with information when you look on the Internet. Much information is there but it’s usually associated with selling a product. So, it’s selling financial services and selling legal services, it’s selling home care. And they’re not putting things together, so that, you can make the best decision for yourself. I’ve had clients tell me, they were told, they couldn’t afford home care. They could only afford assisted living. And – my question was, how did they know? And they said: “They couldn’t have known. They didn’t know what our finances was”. I said: “Oh I see. They were selling assisted living services. So, that’s why you couldn’t afford anything else”. So, it’s like, how can – I don’t know how people do this in good conscience. But like, that’s just awful advice.
KIM: No not at all.
RUTH ULLMANN: And it just turns my stomach to think, that, you know, you would be pushed into a solution that really wasn’t the right one. And you don’t have enough information and you don’t know the right questions to ask.
So, that’s the program that I put together to, How to navigate elder care. One is six weeks long. It takes you through everything from financial to funeral and all the steps in between. It doesn’t give you a solution. It gives you the questions to ask. The understanding of how that industry works. So that, you can make the best decision for yourself and your family. Of all of our families are different. We want something different. So, it isn’t a one size fits all.
RUTH ULLMANN: The other courses, they are called Focus courses. They are, if you need to go to home care, these are all the questions in all the industry information you need to know. So that, you can learn this and I think, it’s a half an hour and 45 minutes and you’re prepared. So, if you’re talking to a lot of home care owners and most home care is their franchises. So, the skill and the experience will be based on how that that particular owner manages his business. So, you know, so they’re all selling their business. So you want – you – they have information you want from each of them is. Is this the best solution for you? Can you work with these people? How will they make decisions? How will they respond when things don’t work? There are all kinds of odd things that happen in home care.
For my parents, it was, they didn’t like people that talk too much. But you don’t know that, until, you’ve had a few through that talk too much. They really didn’t like people who couldn’t cook from scratch. And most people, they cooked from boxes and cans. So, my mom would teach them: “Here’s how we cook” And some could do that and others couldn’t. So, we could weed out people. But there are things you just don’t know until you have home care in the house and you see how your parents really respond with. It’s odd having a stranger in the house. And then, you know, there are so many things you don’t know about assisted living. Many people think it’s a great place, now all I have to do is visit. And that’s not true. You’re still doing, you’re still managing the finances, you’re still doing illegal things, you still may take them to the doctor.
RUTH ULLMANN: So, there’s a lot of things that are still on your plate when they go to assisted living. You don’t have to take care of another, a second home, or another yard. So, that’s helpful. But there are things we just don’t think about. The biggest mistake that people make, when they look at assisted living or a nursing home, is that they only look at one. You should look at least three and you should start with a checklist of what’s important to you and make phone calls to about six to 12. So that, you know which ones meet your criteria before you go visit the facility. And then you should see that facility in the morning, on a holiday, and in the evening. To see how and go unannounced. So, you have an idea of what actually goes on there. There’s lots more to learn about that. But those are the highlights.
KIM: It sounds a little bit like interviewing a daycare.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yes.
KIM: Which I, which quite honestly, I had looked more before we put our kids in.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah. That’s –
KIM: You know, and ad spot checked at numerous times during the day.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah. Think about how frightening it is to put your children in a place where, you know, you only met people for an hour.
RUTH ULLMANN: And that’s what you’re doing to your parents because they too are, are very trusting of the people that they are working with them. They’re so grateful for the help, that they don’t see or won’t tell you about things that really are hinky.
KIM: It’s almost like a blind date too.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah.
KIM: You really have to get a few more dates in to start seeing the true colors of a person.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah.
KIM: I know your parents have passed Ruth, but suppose there was a natural disaster in your area. Is your business set up in a way now, that you could sustain for a few weeks or a few months if you had to.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yes. Everything is in the cloud. So, I can work from anywhere and keep going. I also have everything, I used to have WordPress from my website and an e-mail service and in business software and they were all separate. Now, they’re all together in one. It’s called kajabi.com. I have my online online courses there. They do the e-mail service. They do the client management. They’ve recently added the ability to do a summit. I’m pretty excited about that. They keep improving that product, that I don’t need all those other things. I have a survey on my site now, I’m sorry, I have a quiz on my site now, that kind of helps people learn a little bit about what, what they don’t know about caring for aging parents. Kajabi is going to be doing quizzes soon. So, I won’t need to have another company do that. I look every six months at how I can automate something. How I can make something simpler. How I can reduce my overhead.
KIM: That’s awesome. I think we all need to do that more.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah. I learned that, that portion, when I was working for a high tech company in California. They made us look every six months on how to automate our processes so that we could take on more interesting work. And that became a habit.
KIM: Most of my Podcasting Processes are pretty automated except for the graphics. And then there’s user error or tech error occasionally but minus that, I mean, from the scheduling all the way through the notifications, if the host team are working properly. It’s pretty automated and it’s fantastic.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah it is. And even from this side as, you know, it’s nice to know that I’ll get reminders from you and it just comes.
KIM: Right. Yeah. Actually you’ve just given me a little kick in the butt to see what else I can do. Thank you.
RUTH ULLMANN: Sure.
KIM: And I’m not going to be like: “Happy birthday mom. Let’s talk about your plans”. But, yeah, we got to talk about those plans. I do have a question about that though. Do you recommend talking to your siblings before you talk to your parents?
RUTH ULLMANN: That depends. Well, if you talk to your parents without your siblings. Well, they think you’re going behind their back.
KIM: Well, the same could be the other way around, right?
RUTH ULLMANN: Yes. So, I think it’s with me. I talked to my mom every day. It was, every day at lunch time we talked about something. And I get tidbits or answers to questions I had without it being: “Let’s sit down and talk about this”. So, that’s how we did it. So, I knew what she wanted. With my dad, he would not speak rather at all that was just in his mind. None of my business. You’ll figure it out. That was always great.
RUTH ULLMANN: Well, fortunately he told my mother and she told me. So, my sister and I, we work together but we never really talked about what my parents wanted. And that was probably another mistake. Although, she you really didn’t want to talk about it.
KIM: But it’s got to happen one way or another. So, make it the better way, right?
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah. So, it is better if you can – a friend of mine did this and this worked exceedingly well for her and it works well for many of my clients. That, once you figure out what you can do and you understand what your parents wants. And you talk to your siblings and have them make the same same decision for themselves. How much can they give and if these are the types of things your parents need. Who’s going to do what? So, if your distant or you have other siblings that are distant. What can they do? Maybe they’re really good in finances or they’re really good doing legal work, then that should be what they do. Because a lot of that can be done remotely.
The people that are close, they should do things like, be patient advocate. And if there’s someone with health care experience in your family, that’s the person to choose to do that. Even if they’re remote and they are the person you go to, to ask for information and somebody else takes them to the doctor. That’s still a pretty good working situation.
KIM: That’s a great idea. I would have never thought about that. Thank you for sharing.
RUTH ULLMANN: Sure. Then that team changes, as things change with your parents. Some of those, you have to be flexible, because things will change. And the person who is the health care advocate may not be able to take them to all doctor’s appointments. So, you need a backup, that whatever you do, have a plan B because Plan A may work for a month, six months, a year but it won’t last forever.
KIM: Right. On that note, I would also ask if you do Assisted Living. Speaking for my own family experience. Ask the facility what their plan B is.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yes.
KIM: My grandmother, my father had has two siblings. And my grandmother stopped eating and drinking. She had Alzheimer’s. She was really far in. And the assisted living facility said they called and left numerous messages. However, none of them received any calls or messages. So, they found out off, of a visit, I believe is what I remember, it was almost 10 years ago. One of them visited grandma at the facility and found out she hadn’t eaten or drank anything in four days.
RUTH ULLMANN: Oh wow.
KIM: So, they called for a family meeting. Which was within a day or two of that, and we’re just trying to get some answers, and find out what they could do. And unfortunately Grandma passed during that meeting. But there should always on both sides. We need to know what the plan B is for the caretaker.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah.
KIM: Well, and the caretaker.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah.
KIM: Depending on where you go. Yeah.
RUTH ULLMANN: There’s a lot of things we don’t know about aging. – Your grandmother probably wasn’t. You probably think she was in pain, she was starving, or and probably none of that was true. As you age, you naturally, your need for food gets to be less and less. And in those final days you will stop eating because it is uncomfortable. You don’t digest anymore. So, I’ve often hear people say, my loved one isn’t eating and we’re finding thousand ways to get them to eat. And while I understand that, I know what’s on the other side, and they’re they’re not in pain. I’ve talked to doctors to find out, you know, what goes on there – if we are forcing people to feed, how does that feel for them. And they’ve all said, it is uncomfortable. Their body has not set up to digest like it used to. And, as my father was getting older, there are many things, he’s stopped eating. He couldn’t digest meat. He couldn’t digest bread. So that, was less and less food that we could make for him. But I didn’t realize that digestion really slows down as you age and especially when you’re getting close to death.
KIM: Yeah. Well, for our family they just wanted to know.
RUTH ULLMANN: Sure.
KIM: But not, I don’t mean this to come out the wrong way, but in grandma’s case it was actually sort of beautiful. Because our grandpa had passed just a couple of months earlier and she had been in the assisted living for a good 10 years, I think. And she hadn’t been able to speak in several years. And she was always a talker before this, always a talker. So in our, in our own peace, we felt that grandma knew that Grandpa had passed. And it was time for her to go home, so, she could talk his ear off.
RUTH ULLMANN: You’ll be surprised how many people, especially of that generation will go within a short period of time of each other.
KIM: Like The Notebook.
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah it is. It is interesting that they seem to know the other one has passed and they wanna go too. My parents died within ten months of each other. My mother went first, my dad followed 10 months later. And we – the doctors told us he probably wouldn’t last very long. Because of that generation, the generation before the women always took care of the men, and once the women died, the men didn’t know what to do. Now, the generation of men for your generation and mine, they’re more independent. So, things are different for them.
KIM: I did not realise that about that generation. I mean –
RUTH ULLMANN: Yeah. I didn’t know either.
KIM: I resisted watching The Notebook forever. Because everybody said how great of a movie it was and I didn’t want to agree, because that’s how stubborn I am sometimes. But now that I’ve watched it, Oh I feel rotten because I gave a spoiler. But anyway, now that I’ve already spoiled it, I told my husband that’s what I want to happen to us.
RUTH ULLMANN: It was a sweet movie.
KIM: Yeah. Ruth this has been incredibly enlightening. And I know it’s not the most Positive but it certainly is a very Productive topic to talk about. So, I appreciate that so so much. And I’m sure a lot of the listeners just have a lot more insight about what they should be doing now. Where can they get in touch with you to find out more and just learn more.
RUTH ULLMANN: Okay. My Website is www.myeldercarejourney.com And I have a special download for your audience. It’s called the 5 Phases of Elder Care. It’s a one page infographic and that you can use it as a checklist. You can find it and I tried to make this short bit.ly/kimsutton1
KIM: Fabulous. Listeners that link, as well as, Ruth’s website link will be on the show notes page at TheKimSutton.com/PP212. Thank you so much again Ruth. Do you have a last piece of parting advice or a golden nugget that you can offer to listeners.
RUTH ULLMANN: It’s a balancing act, not just for creating a business that will thrive without you, but to navigate eldercare and take care of your parents. But to put a positive spin on everything. If you prepare these things a little bit in advance, it doesn’t have to be a horrible experience. You get to spend more time doing the things you love and spending time with your family in a more positive way with less stress. While I can’t take away the emotion that you will go through. I can help you understand the industry you work with and help you prepare your business. So that both sections of your life there, will be better and easier.