Barbara McVicker, one of my interviewees

I am excited to have a new guest post today.  Barbara McVicker is one of the many well-known national speakers I met through my research for our new book: 50 Interviews:  Professional Speakers, which should be out by the end of 2009.  Our first volume contains 25 full interviews with some of the top speakers in America today, answering questions like how they got started in their speaking careers, and why they love what they do (besides the big paychecks!)

barbara mcvicker photoBarbara started out only a few years ago, after experiencing personally the difficulties of raising two children, while struggling to maintain her career, and care for her ailing parents.  Overwhelmed and feeling isolated, she eventually quit her job to care for her parents full-time.

In 2006 she transitioned into her work as an elder care expert by interviewing other caregivers, while researching and writing her book:  Stuck in the Middle: Shared stories and tips for caregiving your aging parents. Then she struck out as a speaker with her book as her business card, and the rest is history!     Here’s a short piece by Barbara:

Just when I thought it was finally time for me, the inevitable phone call came, shattering my well-planned life.  My elderly parents needed me.  A new chapter of my life was beginning, one for which I was totally unprepared.  I did not know that I was now embarking on a ten year journey—taking care of my mom and dad.

For most people this phone call comes because Mom has fallen and landed in the emergency room with a broken hip.  But my parents are not normal.  My father had just sent $68,000 in cashier checks to Canada because he received a phone call saying that he had won the Canadian Lottery.

We midlife daughters may be totally prepared for child rearing, but we are thoroughly unprepared for caregiving aging parents.  How can we be so naive as to think that we will not have to take on this new job with all of its conflicts and emotions?

As I meet with others while presenting talks around the U.S., I often hear about how stressful caregiving can be.  I have found that even happy families can become dysfunctional while taking care of elderly parents.  One lady told me that taking care of her father was more stressful than her own divorce.

So what are we to do?  Prepare yourself now with the essential information, emotional support, and crucial conversations before the crisis arrives.  Have family discussions sooner rather than later so that all generations know the wishes of their parents.  Are you ready?

Barbara McVicker is a national speaker, HR consultant, and author of Stuck in the Middle…shared stories and tips for caregiving your elderly parents.

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