The absolute best part about uniting daughters is the amazing women we meet along the way. This week we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Miller, founder of www.happyhealthycaregiver.com. Elizabeth is a positive force to reckon with – she’s on a mission to help families integrate caregiving with life and support caregivers in their journey to first care for themselves. Find out how Elizabeth went from being a Journalist to one of the daughter caregiving pioneers in the rapidly growing family caregiving support industry in this two-part interview.
Elizabeth, what are a few of the most important lessons caregiving has taught you about yourself?
Caregiving has been life changing for me.
First, I think it reiterated the importance of the flexibility I need in my life. I want to be able to be with the people I love when I want to be with them.
Secondly, it really taught me that you can’t change people. You just have to learn to let go. I’ve had to really practice this and the one tool I’ve used the most is meditation. I discovered an app that I love called CALM where I find benefit from just a 10 minute guided meditation.
Thirdly, I would say ‘being prepared’. It’s so important to be prepared with your own finances, emotional state (for example, not repeating the same mistakes over again) and personal health and happiness plus being prepared with your loved ones by having certain conversations earlier, and having them documented.
I’m especially focused and interested on helping family caregivers connect with resources to help them feel more prepared and less overwhelmed. My mission with Happy Healthy Caregiver is to encourage and help family caregivers integrate caregiving with their busy lives and create ways to be happy & healthy in the process.
What led you to create Happy Healthy Caregiver?
The reason I created the site was that I felt so isolated and overwhelmed as a new caregiver. I didn’t even know that I was called a family caregiver! I definitely never did a Google search on that term. Just a daughter trying to help care for my aging parents. I looked for resources to help guide me through the challenges and really didn’t find what I was looking for. I was finding specific disease information but I wasn’t finding a way to live my life while caring for aging parents and raising children and working full-time. I landed on the term ‘sandwich generation’ – a group of people caring for aging parents while raising children. I knew I was a part of that but now what?
When all this crazy health stuff was happening to my parents in 2014, I had a six hour ride each way in my car, I had time to think and process emotions. My family and my own personal health and happiness was being impacted by those around me. I knew that the health conditions of my parents and my mother-in-law (she had terminal lung cancer and my husband was caring for her at the same time) were self-inflicted by the lifestyle choices they had made. If I didn’t really focus on my health & happiness and prioritize it, I was going to repeat the same cycle. It just really hit me that I needed to figure out how to care for myself while caring for others and share with others how to do this so they wouldn’t burnout.
I have a degree in Journalism and had considered starting a blog in my past but now I had to start it. I saw a huge void and identified with a group of family caregivers who were being underserved. This need compounded with my own desire to have more flexibility in my life motivated me to push forward even during the craziest emotional days of my life. Blogging and staying accountable to my audience has truly helped me probably more than I am helping them.
I do hope that something I have written or shared will help a family caregiver create time for themselves and make life just a little bit happier for them during a difficult time.What can people expect when they connect with your private happyhealthycaregiving.com community on your website?
Family caregivers will first see that the content is super organized. There’s a lot of content specific to caregiving ‘out there’ on the internet, but it’s not very well organized. So, it was very important to me to create a site that was practical and where caregivers could get the information they need when they need it. Unlike Facebook posts where they disappear from your newsfeed and feel like they are gone forever, the content in the community is organized by themes and topics.
If people need information about how they can truly implement self-care and get tried and true ideas to create more time for themselves – they will find all of these resources and tips nested together. And I am constantly adding more resources and tools that I come across or if they don’t exist yet – we’ll create them.
Stay tuned for Part Two of this interview and find out what information Elizabeth learned the most from her Caregiving Consultant program and her exciting new Happy Healthy Caregiver podcast venture!