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Ep. 142: Roz Jones

Roz Jones is an Author, Speaker and CEO of Jacksonville’s Best Caregivers and Roz Jones Enterprises. Roz teaches caregivers and their families how to navigate the complexities of caring while supporting the needs of their loved ones and building a healthy foundation of care. 

Lucas: Welcome to Bridge the Gap podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas. We have a really heartfelt, wonderful program today that I think that you’re really going to enjoy the topic of self-care for caregivers. We have the one and only Roz Jones. She’s an author, a speaker, the CEO of Jacksonville’s Best Caregivers and Roz Jones Enterprises. Welcome to the show.


Roz: Thank you so much for the opportunity to be able to speak to your community.


Lucas: Absolutely, absolutely. We had a really fun pre-conversation as we do with many of our guests and Roz. You know what, I’m just reading a little bit of your bio, but before we hear more about who you are and what you do, you know we know about Roz that she teaches caregivers and their families, how to navigate the complexities of caring while supporting the needs of their loved ones and building a healthy foundation of care. So Roz, I know that that is the core of who you are, but tell us how you even got into becoming a caregiver.


Roz: That was an accident. I tell the story and I have to laugh because as I have explained to other people that asked me this, I was in corporate world, Blue Cross and Blue Shield working as a technical writer. And I would write the processes for part A and part B claims that go through. So the doctors could get paid and hospitals and facilities would get paid. And so one of the mothers at the church, one of the older ladies at the church was having surgery and didn’t have any family. Her husband had died, sister had stage four cancer and she said, “I’m just going in for a two day procedure. Would you come and go with me?” Okay. So, you know, when old people ask you to do something, you know all of us have that heart for the older people we say yes, even when we want to say no.  Went in, the doctor came out, he still had his beanie on still had his mask on and said, “We have an emergency.”


Roz: She’s had some difficulties.” I couldn’t sign anything. I said, I don’t have the authority, whatever the hospital policies are, do it. So I had no power of attorney, healthcare, surrogate… I had none of that. And so they went on with the surgery. So two days at a hospital turned into two weeks of care. And after that, while I was taking care of her the nurses kept saying, well, Roz, you’re doing a good job. Why don’t you go down the street, we always need sitters here at the hospital and go down the street and to this company. And that’s where we bring our people in. So I went down there and I said, well how much are you paying? And they told me minimum wage. I’m like, hold that thought. So, but you know, at the end of the day, at the end of the day, I went on, I started sitting and I went on and got all of my credentials.


Roz: Home health days, certified nursing assistant, med tech, all that I needed to be, you know, a good caregiver with knowledge and with a lasting impact. So two days turned into two weeks and I’ve been doing it more than 10 years, but you know, never, this was never in my plan. You know, I had the 10 year, 20 year plan. Work, retire… Well, my life changed and it only takes one incident, one little thing for your life to change between Sunday to Sunday. And that’s what changed my life. And it was a good thing. It was a good thing. I don’t regret it at all.


Josh: Wow. What a incredible story. And as many people do as you said, you unintentionally got into this, but as many of us can attest to, once you get into senior living and have a taste of it and realize what an awesome mission it can be and how rewarding it is you kind of get stuck and you, and you love it. It’s very rewarding. But one of the things we want to talk with you about today is what you do and kind of equipping and training, coaching caregivers. And one of those topics is self-care. And I heard you say in our kind of pre-show talk that one of the most important things in self-care is saying no. So it sounds kind of counterproductive, but can you kind of explain what you mean about self-care in general? What are the important things and what it means to say, no,


Roz: What it means to say no, is you keep your sanity. I have a girlfriend of mine who said the word no keeps her from going to jail. So no is a good thing. Let’s say it together. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. So you have to learn how to say no, because like I said before, it sets boundaries. It helps people to understand, not to cross that line. It helps you to stop and to reset. So self care is important because if we don’t take care of ourselves and I’m probably not the first person that’s said this, do you have weight gain? You have stress, you have anxiety. You know, sometimes you can get bitter. If you don’t take care of yourself as a caregiver, then you get bitter about providing the care. And when you’re bitter, that impacts the other person that’s receiving the care.


Roz: So if you’re not happy, they’re not happy. And then also too, then the person you’re taking care of, they start to withdraw because now they feel like they’re a burden and you’re expressing to them, by not taking care of yourself, that it is a burden. So it’s important that we look at respite care, which is when someone comes in and gives you a break, it’s important to ask for help with self-care. So all of this saying no and setting boundaries and having a community of care is very important in self care. It’s very important because you can’t continue to go and not have a break. It’s impossible.


Josh: Well, it makes a lot of sense. So tell us, you know, your average day, your average person that you’re helping, if there is such a thing as an average day. What do you typically find is the situation when people are calling you?


Roz: Covid has changed all of that. There’s, you know, it used to be somewhat average, but COVID has thrown everything, the baby, the bucket, the water, everything out of the window. So we’ve had to regroup in our caregiving because of the mental part. You know, mentally, when you come into these facilities, they were not built for isolation. They were never built for isolation. You know when this started happening, many of the facilities had to keep their residents in their rooms where they’re used to coming out all throughout the day and walking up and down the hallway, Hey, how are you doing? None of that went on for over three months. I know here at this facility for three to four months, no one got out. But while that was happening, people were dying because they were isolated, isolated. So I was telling people that as a caregiver, the biggest thing is to stay in contact with – through letters, sending a cookie, sending a bottle of scotch to your wife, whoever, whatever they like, stay in contact.


Roz: That’s the biggest thing whether you’re a long distance caregiver or you’re right here in the city. Even if you have to stand outside the window, even with my client, we used to drive over to her daughter’s house once a week. They couldn’t hug and kiss, but to see them, even if it was six feet apart, meant the world. But everybody doesn’t have that. Everybody’s not fortunate to have that. And some of those who were not fortunate to have that they died because of loneliness. So, you know, we have to remember number one, we have to stay in contact because of COVID, whether COVID or not. You know, don’t go on those special days, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, the death of a loved one, you have to go more than that. Caregiving does not stop when a person comes into the facility, it doesn’t stop. And then also too, with, taking care of someone, you have to realize what you can and you can’t do. And that’s part of self care. You have to realize what you can and you can’t do. Let me stop talking because I can go on forever.


Josh: No, don’t stop talking. We’re enjoying this, but you, you, you were going on, keep going. And you were talking about self care. What you can and you can’t do. You’ve got to realize that.


Roz: And so what you, what you can do when you begin caregiving, you sit down and have a conversation with someone and say, okay, what is it that you need? This is what I can do. And this is what I can’t do. So since I can’t do this, we’re going to have to hire someone to come in, or we’re going to have to solicit help from your church, from your family, from non-profit agencies to come in and to help because I can’t do it all. I can’t do it all. If that person who you’re taking care of decides that they want to move in, then that’s another conversation. So there’s a conversation you’re going to have, if they’re going to stay at home. There’s a conversation you’re going to have if they move in with you.  Then there’s a conversation if you all decided that you cannot come to terms of endearment and they have to go to a facility. But all of that as a part of self-care is, on these days, we will not have contact so that I can get some rest. On these days, I I’ll have a caregiver come in and make sure you’re okay. So set, just like any business you have to, you have to have policies and procedures, the same thing with caregiving. You got to have something in place to make sure that you mentally you’re okay. And they’re mentally okay. You have to, because if not, don’t, don’t do it. Don’t do it. Please don’t. 


Lucas: Roz, that’s a great point. You know I can sense just your heart behind this. And I know I can tell why you’re such a great leader in this field. Cause there’s a lot of leadership principles here that really transcend even caregiving. Now let’s talk about telehealth and telemedicine. This has been a big topic, given the pandemic. It’s you know, at the forefront of topic, when it involves healthcare. What have you seen transpire with which you have mentioned virtual caregiver, I’ve not really heard of that before. Talk to us about that.


Roz: Yeah. CMS, as soon as COVID started hitting, CMS started putting in rules for tele-health medicine, for doctors to come and, you know, look virtually or to actually come into the facilities and do a tele-health, which is good because then that reduces the risk for the patient. It reduces the risk for them to be, you know, catching things and coming in contact with cooties or whatever the case may be. It’s been good, because then you come into their setting where they’re comfortable. So when you come here into their home, their blood pressure is lower. Verses when you go to the doctor, the blood pressure may elevate a few points. You come in here, you can see that they’re okay. And everything is fine. So telehealth has been good. It’s been good. It’s like the old, it used to be when the doctors would come and visit you long, long ago before we were born.


Roz: So, you know, they’re going back to that. So it’s a good thing. It’s been a good thing. It’s saved time and saved money. It saved the risk of transporting someone who may be frail and not able to walk a long distance because sometimes you have to put them in a wheelchair and they can’t walk as far to get into the office. So telehealth has been a blessing for a lot of people. The virtual parts, as far as the caregiving for me has been a blessing too, because now the help that you would normally get with someone coming, now, we can sit on a, just like this, a zoom or a chat wherever, and I can sit and say, Hey, what’s going on? Let’s talk about it. Or, you know, set up a meeting away from the family so that I can help you with self care.


Roz: So virtual caregiving is starting to amp up a lot because of COVID because some families did cut off caregiving because some of us go from family to family to take care of, and they want to reduce that risk, but they still needed the support of a caregiver to say, okay, what do I do? How do I handle this? Even though I don’t have someone coming in because they were at home. So see, they were working from home versus being away. So they, a lot of times they didn’t need the caregiver, which was good and bad. But, on the end of that, now they have a better appreciation for people like us and why they are needed. So now when they go back to work, they can understand why I need to pay this person more than minimum wage, because they were doing more than minimum wage work. So the virtual care giving has been good. If, particularly for those long distance caregivers, for us to be able to talk to them and say, Hey, your mom is doing like this, or your dad is doing this. I need help. I need your encouragement. I need your support a little more. So virtual caregiving has been great. It’s been good, but still that tele-health as good virtual caregiving is good, but you cannot replace the human touch. Let me say that. At the end of the day, you cannot replace the human touch.


Josh: Well, you touched on something that it’s really interesting and I’m glad that you mentioned it and I think it kind of touches on what I would say is the family caregiver guilt sometimes. I haven’t been on that side of it yet, I’m sure at one point when my family ages to that point, I will be, but I I’ve seen it at a lot at the community level when families are very reluctant, because they want, what’s not only what’s best for their loved one, but they want to be able to provide everything that that loved one needs. And there’s a reluctancy. And, and I would say as far even a guilt about them coming to the community to ask for help in caregiving. And so a lot of times we have to just kind of talk them through that. And it sounds like you see that a lot, with the community level, but also on the personal level with the family caregivers you’ve talked to – am I kind of reading that correctly?


Roz: You are hitting the nail on the head. Now let me tell you about the guilt. Our mothers are good at making us feel bad about things. Y’all know that from little, all the way up, you know? So, you know, this is my mom and my dad. Well, you know, it’s been so long. And if you were living here in the city, I wouldn’t have these problems and I wouldn’t need a caregiver. You know, that, that guilt type thing, but families are moving out of the community. So it’s not that community niche anymore. Where if something happens, mom would automatically move in or, you know, so on and so forth. It’s not like that anymore. It’s not. So mothers stop making us feel guilty.


Josh: We need some hashtag so that mothers can help look that up. Yes.


Roz: But, they do that to let you know that they’re lonely. You have to look at both sides. You know, the guilt is used, because they want you to come visit more. Or what happens is, they’ll start complaining about the caregiver because they’ve gotten attached to the other caregiver or they want you to come and they don’t want anybody in the house. So you have to monitor that guilt all the way around. Because sometimes, you know, the guilt could be, I just want you to come. And other times it could be, it could be justified. The caregiver may not be a good fit. Let me say that the caregiver may not be a good fit, but like I said, you have to monitor it because sometimes, you know, the parents will say, “well you’re spending too much money and you know, when I die I want to leave you some money,” don’t fall for it.


Josh: Well, Roz, I’ve got another question. And I don’t want to just continue to ask so many questions, cause I know we don’t have a lot of time, but what are some of the, you obviously help caregivers with setting boundaries, which is part of the self-care. You help them kind of realize that there’s in setting boundaries there’s things that they need to ask for help and help them process through the guilt and all that. But from the cases, from the people that you’ve helped, what are some of the best positive outcomes that you’re seeing when caregivers practice good self-care versus caregivers that you see are not practicing good self care. Can you see a real difference in the outcomes for that resident or that patient?


Roz: For those who are providing the care, if they do the self care, they go to the doctor less, they’re exercising, their blood pressure is low, I don’t hear as much whining and complaining, “Oh, I can’t. Oh mothers doing this, or mama won’t do that.” And that’s why I say self-care is setting boundaries, the caregiver guilt. You have to know how to manage that. You have to be able to read that. So having someone come in and having someone telling you these are the warning signs and also two different stages of disease, you know, you’re going to have to, you know, start implementing probably even more self-care because as the person deteriorates, they need more, they need more care that you may not be able to give. So that’s when part of your self-care is hiring a caregiver or even making a decision of putting someone into a facility and that’s okay. And that’s okay, but you have to sit down and determine that, you know, again, what you can and what you can’t do. But if you don’t do it, you can gain weight. You can have high blood pressure, you can have a stroke and you can die before the person that you’re giving care to. And you don’t want that. What if something happens? What if you’re an only child and you’re so busy taking care of taking care and you die, do you have something in place to take care of that person?


Lucas: You know Roz, life is complicated. Right? And so is caregiving. And to hear about these challenging aspects of it you know, I would have to believe that there’s people that are just naturally cut out for this and some that you know, come into this career and there’s got to be, it’s gotta be really rewarding despite its complications and challenges. So let me ask you this as we round out the program. What are some common, maybe misconceptions about caregiving? Maybe you could give us one or two things like, I had no idea that I would encounter this thing that may be a complicated situation. Or, also give something that I never knew that there would be this type of blessing involved in caregiving.


Roz: The lady I was telling you about earlier that lives in Knoxville, she and her mother at one time did not have a good relationship. And now it’s turned into a good relationship. And she said, “I could never have imagined that this would happen.” That’s been a blessing. On the other side, I have a client that has a mother with Alzheimer’s and dementia. And so she’s repeating herself, she’s in that stage now where she’s repeating, repetitive and it’s getting to her. And so that’s where I said the self care comes in and you have to step back because you’re in it too much. And so you have to allow someone like me or maybe take them to an adult daycare or somewhere else to give both of you all space. Because as the person declines, as the person, you know, starts to transition in whichever way they’re going to do, you know, we have to understand that the person that they once were, it’s not the person that they are now.


Roz: And it’s hard for us to see that because we’ve always seen our parents or our aunt and uncle, whoever, as our heroes, our mentors, whoever, and to see them, you know, do this. And also too, when you have someone move in with you, you figure that oh they’re just supposed to sit and do nothing. And that’s not always the case. They just need for someone somewhere to be safe. And they know living with you being safe, but don’t take away their independence. That’s the biggest thing. They still want to be able to, if they can drive, let them drive. If they can cook, let them cook it. They can sweep, mop, whatever they want to do. Still let them do that. But don’t have them come in the house and sit in a rocking chair and just rock. You’re taking their life away and you’re cutting it short.


Josh: Wow. So this is excellent advice. And I hope our listeners not only are taking this advice themselves, but I hope that they will share this episode because there are a lot of caregivers out there that need to hear this message. And then there’s a lot of us out there that have not had the opportunity yet presented to them that they have been faced with being a caregiver, but they probably will at some point in their lives. So what great advice! How exciting it is to see you unintentionally fall into senior care and caregiving. But what a blessing it is to see how you have thrived now, touching people, even outside of your community through a virtual platform and being a virtual caregiver. What a cool concept. Thank you for all that you do. Lucas, I can’t wait for our audience to be connected with what Roz is doing.


Lucas: Absolutely. We’ll make sure that we connect with Roz in our show notes and Roz, we just want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being a great caregiver. You know, I hear people talk about dignity and it’s just such an important thing. As you know, life is complicated and God willing, we all get old. And when we do, we want somebody like Roz to come by our side to help make sure that we have that independence and dignity that we deserve. Right?


Roz: Yeah. It’s important. Always remember, just because this person is retired doesn’t mean they want to stay in the house, laid up. Now we go out, we call them field trips. I’m not going to tell you where the field trips are because that’s our girl time. But we go out on field trips and we do girls stuff and that’s okay. You know, if you know, if we want to go out and get a drink or get our toe nails done or a hair or whatever, just ride, do that. Just because you’re retired and you live in a facility, doesn’t mean your life is over. It doesn’t mean your life is over. And I want you to remember that, you know, just remember that people still have purpose. This lady was a CPA for God knows how long and her mind is still sharp. She still reminds me, Your taxes have got to be done. Your quarterly taxes are due, your annual payment is due on your business license,” Yes, ma’am. Okay. She’s still got it. She just retired two or three years ago. She’s 90. She worked all the way up till she was 87. I brag about her all the time. She is one of the rare, rare people that worked that long, fabulous woman, smart woman, still has purpose. Don’t take that away from them. Please don’t.


Josh: 100%. I’m a firm believer in what you just said, Roz. As long as we have breath, regardless of our frailty, our disabilities, we have a God given purpose on this earth. And a big part of the caregiving is reminding our elders that they’ve got purpose. Thanks again for being with us. What a great show.


Lucas: Yes. Yes. So we’ll connect with Roz in our show notes, because I know our listeners are going to want to follow you. You do videos on social media and now as our world is becoming more and more virtual, people are going to have more and more ways to connect with you. Thanks for spending time with us today, Roz. 


Roz: Thank you so much. I appreciate you guys. 


Lucas: And thanks to all of our listeners, especially the caregivers out there during this whole crazy year that we’ve had. Remember to say no. And remember to do some self-care and know that we are rooting for you. And we’re thinking about you and praying for you. Thanks everybody for listening to another great episode of Bride The Gap.


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Ep. 142: Roz Jones