Episode Title: Silver Linings – Interview with Laura Vaillancourt, LMHC.
Intro: Laura is the founder of Eldercare Counseling and Guidance Services.
Laura provides elders and their caregivers with resources and help as they navigate through the healthcare system.
We’ll listen as Laura talks about the ways she calms the chaos in herself and especially her clients who are at increased vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic by seeing “Silver Linings” in the dark clouds of isolation and helplessness.
- The work Laura does
- Providing counseling, care management and resources to the aging population who are either in skilled nursing facilities, or receiving care at home from loved ones.
- Working with those who are caring for an aging person with Elders and how she is managing the chaos of increased vulnerability in her elderly clients during COVID-19
- How to work with elders and caregivers and give them the support they need when all parties are feeling the effects of continued efforts at quarantine, separation increased isolation?
- In “Normal Times,” Laura provides:
- Counseling: support and resources to the elder populations and their caregivers
- In “Normal Times,” Laura provides:
- Care Management: A team who act as surrogate family members to educate them
- Consulting: Laura consults as an expert in the aging population, meeting with families, defining problems and exploring solutions
- Since COVID-19, Laura still does this, but has gotten creative due to limitations on personal contact with clients.
- “It happened overnight” and COVID-19 ran rampant in a skilled nursing facility in Seattle, near where she works in Washington State.
- The most vulnerable populations are older adults and immune compromised individuals, who already struggle with physical / emotional loss and isolation
- Facilities, have done a great job in their efforts to protect residents…and…this increased caution and protective measures have resulted in even more isolation for residents, and increased helplessness for their caregivers
- Older adults aren’t eating together, spending time alone in apartments
- Memory care clients typically don’t do well with change
- Caregivers feel very helpless and at a loss of how to support their loved ones during times when physical contact is limited or shut down.
- Elders and caregivers already have a lot of loss (i.e., decreased physical or memory functioning, decreased ability to communicate, helplessness, and disconnection).
- How can you work with the caregivers and the elders with all of the chaos of COVID-19?
- Emphasize that although there are some things out of our control, we DO have control in some areas of our lives during times of chaos
- Reframing the situation (we can’t change the situation, but we CAN control our thinking, perceptions and reactions to the situation)
- Accepting what is, and moving forward with what is possible
- Choosing to see a difficult situation in a different, more positive light
- Consider what the benefits to the situation might be (Seeing the “Silver Linings”)
- Brainstorm the beauty of the situation (i.e., the caregivers at skilled nursing facilities now can become part of the family, and the caregivers can become a part of the professional team). Help caregivers not feel so isolated. Or giving the professionals gifts to thank them for their service.
- Continue to practice creative ways to see “Silver Linings” during times of separation, loneliness, isolation and helplessness.
- Brainstorming ideas to stay connected to loved ones and caregivers:
- Handwritten notes, cards and letters (facilities will sanitize them)
- Using technology when able (one facility bought all their residents iPads)
- Professionals help the elders with technology
- Groups at Facilities can be offered online via zoom.com for elders and families
- We’re all at different comfort levels with technology, and technology
- Facebook Group “Get in the Lifeboat”
- Post cards through apps and send it to the loved one via mail
A great “Silver Lining” is that we are forced to be creative in times of chaos!
Laura’s 5-Step Method on how to stay upbeat while separated / quarantined in your home:
- Routine: Structure and routine can bring a sense of peace and stability to our lives during uncertainty and chaos.
- Stay Connected: We are being challenged as individuals to stay connected during this time. You can feel isolated even when people are around you. So having a sense of connection and community is important.
- Reframing and focus on Positivity / Limiting negativity
- Listening to your inner guidance – catch yourself if you are listening, and then honor your inner voice
- Set an intention: Being intentional about your self-care, this is a beautiful time to consider changing what you’d like to change, and what you’d like to welcome back into your life, and what you don’t want!
Some of MY Silver Linings:
- Laughter – My husband and I created a funny video about toilet paper and put it on YouTube. You can watch it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlKaXKhq-54&t=6s
- My interview with Laura is also on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuGDtr63M-8&t=7s
- I’ve reached out to therapists in our community to do more interviews and generate more ideas about how to calm the chaos!
- We finally got my big filing and archiving project done!
- After 2 years, we were able to have time to hook up our electronic keyboard, and I’m having a lot of fun creating music again!
- My husband and I are taking more walks and watching less news
- I’ve been able to work from home using Telehealth, and so now my clients know how to use Zoom.com (Also, my buddy Will, who created the music for this podcast, likes Zooming with me more than talking on the phone because he has a better connection. Go figure!)
- We’ve gone through almost all of the Harry Potter movies
- I’ve had more time to play with my cats
- We’ve been having fun meal planning with what we have in our pantry
Thank you Laura, for sharing your ideas!
You can contact Laura in the following ways:
Website: https://www.lauravcoaching.com or https://www.eldercarecounselor.com
Open Facebook Group: “Get in the Lifeboat” at https://www.facebook.com/groups/getinthelifeboat/
Podcast (Coming soon!) “Life on Repeat” Sharing resources, emotional support and self-care
Listen to “Calming the Chaos” Podcast by visiting calmingthechaos.libsyn.com, or my Website: at www.lokahicounseling.com
You can also listen on iTunes or Apple Podcasts and on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7qISnLR8T4g-bSDu-pW9LQ
On my website, there’s a link to a mindfulness CD I created called “On This Day.” This CD teaches you how to practice mindfulness in less than 10 minutes throughout the day. Practicing mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and increase clear thinking in times of chaos.
You can purchase the CD on Amazon at http://bit.ly/onthisdaycd. or in digital format at https://music.apple.com/us/album/on-this-day/1209386067
Facebook Open Group: Lokahi Counseling, at https://www.facebook.com/lokahi.counseling.9
Thanks for listening, and take care!