Have you ever met someone and had an instant soul connection? That was my experience when I met, Jodi Hempel at the 2016 National Caregiving Conference in Chicago, Il. Jodi has an amazing story that started when she 19 years old. Since then she’s made it her life’s work to prepare people for how to best partner with their aging loved ones. She’s the co-author of “Life: The Next Phase. Navigating the Issues of Caring of Your Aging Parents or Loved Ones” and Founder of the “Walking the Path with Your Aging Loved One” and “Retirement by Design” programs. She’s also the Leader of the Tucson Daughterhood Circle. Learn more about Jodi, her book, coaching practice and trainings here.
You were only 19 years old when your mother had a stroke. What are a few of the most important lessons caring for your mom has taught you about yourself?
I am an only child so I didn’t have brothers or sisters to help. My mom was divorced and my dad wasn’t in the picture as someone who could step in for her. I thought everything was left up to me and as a result it was very overwhelming and lonely. I discovered that I tend to do things on my own, but that the results are so much better when I bring in others.
I didn’t realize how much my mother did for and supported me until she couldn’t do those things any more. I really took them and her for granted. I also assumed she would always be there. I learned to appreciate not only her but the other people in my life and to spend quality time with them.
What words of wisdom would you give that 19 year old girl today?
To look to people who were either experts or had walked in my shoes for advice and guidance. I turned to my other 19-year old friends and family for advice. Unfortunately, they didn’t know what to do any more than I did. As a result I made a lot of mistakes.
What prompted you to write your book, “Life: The Next Phase”?
My friend and former boss, Mary Beth Cozza, called me because she was upset about her uncle who had Parkinson’s disease. Mary Beth had been talking to her cousin and was frustrated because she didn’t know how to help. She said “I wish there was a book that just walked you through what to do.” I said “Let’s write one!” So we did. Mary Beth and I had many projects together when I worked for her and I knew we could tackle this too. My step-mother, Helen Hempel, is an elder-law attorney in California and we brought her in to advise on the legal content.
Is there a theme in the responses you get from people after they read the book?
I think the comments can fall into the theme of ‘there is so much that I didn’t know’. Reading the book saved hours of research that they would have had to do otherwise.
I understand you’ve created a training program called, “Walking the Path with Your Aging Loved One” and will be launching it sometime this year. Tell me about this training. What will people learn?
Walking the Path with Your Aging Loved One is based on content that I use now with my private coaching clients. They learn about the issues they are likely to face with their aging loved one and how to navigate those issues. My clients gain a better understanding of their parent or loved one as a senior adult. For instance the senior’s need to maintain independence and control at a time when they are losing both, which results in stubbornness or what might be seen as reckless behavior. My clients also learn to have conversations with their loved ones to find out what is most important to them as they live out the rest of their lives. This enables them to support their loved one in living life on their loved one’s terms, make better decisions, and have more certainty when it comes to assisting them. Clients also learn how to prepare for their loved one having a major health crisis, including being able to legally make decisions on their parent’s or loved one’s behalf. Finally, they learn how to make plans for when their loved ones need part-time and full-time assistance – how to get the assistance or care that might needed and how to pay for it.
What can people expect from hiring you as a mentor/coach?
I have walked in their shoes so I know first-hand what they are experiencing. I take a stand for them and provided a safe environment for them to work through the issues they are facing with regard to assisting an aging loved one. They come away with an action plan giving them increased confidence and peace of mind.