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The Method Behind the Caregiving Madness

  1. The Method Behind the Caregiving Madness JJ, Natalie, and the Nash Siblings 59:21

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In this episode, we talk with Helen, Elisabeth, and Jonathan Nash about the gradual progression of care needs that often arise with an aging parent. Imagine standing on the shore of a vast ocean, watching the tide slowly come in – that's how the Nash siblings experienced their mother's increasing health issues and mobility problems. Over time, these changes brought them to the crucial conversation about relocating her to a safer living environment. Their story illustrates how caregiving responsibilities can gently unfold rather than arrive all at once.

Have you ever wondered how siblings can share the load when it comes to caregiving? Each Nash sibling played to their strengths—one coordinated medical care, another provided health guidance and another focused on social needs. We show how dividing duties among family members based on their skills and availability can create an effective care team.

Communication and respect are the pillars of effective caregiving, wouldn't you agree? The Nash siblings  emphasize the importance of maintaining consistent messages with their mother and each other to minimize confusion. They also discuss the delicate balance of respecting their mother's autonomy while ensuring her safety. Their approach, rooted in compassion and clarity, offers practical guidance that underscores the value of these qualities in family caregiving situations. 

About the Nashes:

The Nashes are a trio of siblings who have embarked on an unexpected journey as family caregivers to their mother, now in her early 90s. With a blend of professional expertise, unwavering dedication, and a touch of humor, they bring their unique combination of strengths to the caregiving table, ensuring their mom’s needs are met while preserving her autonomy and quality of life.

Elisabeth, the oldest daughter, has a background in finance and human resources. She’s the group's master planner. Her analytical thinking helps the caregiving group make the best choices for their mom. She always involves their mom in decision-making and respects her preferences.

Jonathan, the middle child and only son, is retired from the computer software industry. He’s the tech-savvy one of the group, the one who coordinates with their mom’s healthcare providers and caregivers. From ordering groceries to providing transportation, he ensures their mom receives the best care. Jonathan’s the one who makes them laugh with corny puns and irreverent jokes, lightening the mood when things are challenging.

Helen is the baby of the sibling group. She brings her 30+ years of nursing experience to the group, using her expertise to assist with their mom’s medical needs.

Together, the three “kids” make a formidable caregiving team, each bringing unique strengths and skills to the table, whether they are providi

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JJ Elliott Hill Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver

Known since childhood as “The Elliott Girls” or simply, “The Girls”, it makes sense that we work together to support our mother, and each other. Our trio begins with Jenefer Jane “JJ” who was and always will be “in charge”. She’s the peacekeeper. The responsible one, ensuring Natalie and Emilie remain alive. Next is Natalie, the middle child, who was and always will be Miss Congeniality. She’s the athlete. The rebel responsible for three babysitters exiting the summer of ’84. Then there is Emilie, the youngest, who was and always will be “the baby”. At 6’1”, she is the sensitive and quiet soul. The one responsible for the guinea pig that begged for lettuce and the stray dog we adopted from the bus stop.

After high school we went separate ways, from New Mexico to North Carolina. JJ would go on to get her Master’s in Business Administration and work in the finance world before partnering with her now husband, Dexter, to run a variety of businesses. Natalie would go on to get her Master’s in Social Work degree, and work in the mental health field, advocating for children and families to receive the most appropriate services. Natalie would marry and divorce early on but later marry Jason. Emilie would exit college early to marry and gift us with Owen and twins, Maxx and Natalie Jane aka “The Kids”. Emilie would later divorce and work with county government, focusing much time on caring for the kids.

The source of the sisterhood falls to Jim aka “Big Jim” and Connie, small town high school sweethearts married for almost 40 years.

In 2005, at the age of 52, mom would be diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She hid the disease for years behind dad’s 6’2” frame. The tremors and sudden inability to move were both calmed and steadied by his arm and simple presence. He was her rock. Our rock. Close family and friends knew of her chronic illness, but to the rest of the world, everything was “fine”. Life would turn upside down when our dad unexpectedly passed in 2011 of a massive heart attack at the age of 58. The assumption was Dad would always be mom’s caregiver but that wasn’t God’s plan.

Mom would spend the years following our father’s death desperately seeking a cure for Parkinson’s while trying to manage her symptoms. As the years went by, the cruel symptoms associated with the disease increased, negatively impacting her body while her mind remained clear and in tune. We lived our lives checking in to make sure she was “okay” but knowing the day would come when we had to do more. And then it did. The summer of 2019 changed everything. That’s where the real caregiver story begins for us. Little did we know she would be only the beginning of our caregiving journey.

In March 2022, Natalie’s husband, Jason, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer. From the first time Jason detected something off about the swollen lymph nodes in his neck, to the formal diagnosis, and the decision to move to New York City to participate in a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the journey would push them to their limits. The silver lining of his diagnosis was the cancer brought them closer to God, restoring their faith in Him while also experiencing a myriad of blessings through the kindness of family, friends, and strangers. Their story is a testimony that will inspire and offer hope.

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