Holding Grief & Joy At The Same Time In Caregiving

Erin Antroinen
Erin Antroinen

Erin Antroinen talks about how caregivers can hold grief & joy simultaneously.

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Podcast Transcript

June 29, 2023
Note: This transcript was computer generated and might contain errors.

Erin Antroinen: 'm Erin Insurance and I cared for both of my parents so my dad had cancer for eight years. He had an adenoma carcinoma So my mom was still pretty good when she was taking care of him as well. So we were just more of in a supportive role me and my sister were at that time and that was probably from 2012 until when he passed in 2020 and so the same time he beat cancer. Five times came home on hospice and the same week that he came home. My mom was actually diagnosed with frontal Temple of Dementia and Parkinson's all at the same time. And so it was just this really hard season of navigating because we knew probably for six months to a year that things were not right. she was starting to have problems word, finding and the aphasia and all of that stuff was really

Erin Antroinen: Starting to set in, and we were having people come in, sit with her and just so that she would have, kind of some companion stuff, but as soon when my dad passed things kind of progressed pretty quickly. And I had to step in and be her full-time caregiver at that time, but yeah, so that's kind of the beginning of it all.

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, I mean that's a lot to Manage back to back, even if you were just supporting, you…

Erin Antroinen: Yeah.

Katie Wilkinson: in your dad's care and you do a lot of important work that I'd love to ask about but first sort of what was that transition like becoming a full-time caregiver and what was challenging at the beginning and what's been rewarding since we're still challenging

Erin Antroinen: So many things, I mean you're all day but I think the hardest thing because I moved out at 18 right? And so I was used to and this was Man, I hate to just be broadcasting my age all over the Internet, but

Erin Antroinen: There was I at what age? so,

Erin Antroinen: So, really being out of the house for longer than a decade 15 years, something like that. And then having to move back home, interestingly God always has a plan, right? it's so crazy how things work out, because in 2019, 2017, I actually had a toxic mold exposure in my home, and I ended up having to get rid of everything I own. So I had to get rid of everything moved in with a friend to heal because I literally couldn't live on my own. And from there was slowly rebuilding. And so, when my dad came home on hospice, all I literally had was a dresser, the clothes, on my back and stuff for my business, So when I moved home, it just kind of all worked out because they had a whole house full of stuff, So it made it an easier transition, in terms of things, because a lot of times when you join lives, and you have to move back home, it's like, I gotta. What do I do with my house and all my stuff. at the time, I didn't understand the trauma and the drama of going through.

Erin Antroinen: Toxicity, but it kind of all made sense, not that, I think that that's why it happened but you know what I'm saying. everything can be used for good, I think. But through that,

Erin Antroinen: It was just like so because not only was I moving in with my mom to take care of my mom, but I was also dealing with the death of my dad. So it's like my dad died and I stepped in to be my mom's full-time, caretaker. And it was a whirlwind. and within that first, 60 days of my dad dying, it was in the middle of covid. it was June July 2020, when that happened, the world was shut down. We couldn't do anything. People really couldn't help us. it was challenging getting care, it just was this weird place to be not only in life but in the world and on top of that, my mom had two major falls just right in my first 60 days of taking care of her. The first was a back, she broke her back and then the second she had a brain bleed and the first time they let me go to the hospital with her. And then the second time though they didn't because they had to fly her. I'm in Maryland and they had to fly

Erin Antroinen: Into Washington, DC. and my whole world was flipped upside down, not being able to it, it felt like dropping my child off at the hospital hoping that somebody would be able to take care of her because she had a problem communicating, she couldn't. And it's so interesting because Even until when she just passed in March of this year, and even up until she passed, she had a hard time communicating. And people were always like, how do you know what she needs? Or How do you know what she's saying? And It's kind of like you get to know whoever you're taking care of they're your baby It's like and babies can't talk babies can't communicate but it's like a mom knows when


Erin Antroinen: she's hungry. She has to go to the bathroom or she is indigestion or whatever you just learn their cues. And so at that time, I was entrepreneur working for myself and indirect sales. And I continued to just take steps back and back because it didn't feel like it was my passion anymore and it was just mentally draining and mentally challenging to even do anything beyond all the sudden I'm navigating my mom I'm becoming the mom to my mom and

Erin Antroinen: I look back at videos and pictures and I'm just like, and how did we navigate it? Because we focused on having a lot of fun. I know I'm kind of getting ahead of kind of where we were at, but it's life-changing my whole life was turned upside down there's really no other my social life changed my desire to have a social Change my work life changed my finances change literally every vein of my life was shifted within that six months as was everyone's in the middle of a pandemic. But just let's all throw this on together, right?

How did you navigate the role reversal of becoming your parents' caregiver as a millennial?

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, that's really compound the issue. Yeah yeah I mean you just started to talk about the sort of role reversal of becoming the parent to your parents, can you just elaborate on that a little bit? How did you navigate that? What was challenging? What? internal work did you do to navigate this?

Erin Antroinen: Yeah, that's really good. so it's funny. So my mom in my direct sales business. My mom was actually my manager not that, So No, I'm sorry. she was the office manager in my business. And so, she worked for me, and so, it was really interesting. So for the last, 10 years of our life, we already had this role reversal experience happening where I was her boss or whatever. and then all the sudden, this is how we actually noticed that things were going wrong. I started noticing shifts in her ability to do normal things that she would know how to do. and so stepping into that piece and feeling like becoming the mom to her, I did a lot of journaling. I did A lot of letter writing like a therapist told me to write letters to the disease to my mom, I wrote angry letters to my dad for leaving us and for me to have

Erin Antroinen: navigate this, my sister was super helpful but I was the one that was physically in place to be able to handle everything and honestly my goal every day was like How can I make her smile? how can I find joy in the middle of this? And so we started to do the things that she loved to do. we danced and we drew we did art and she loved flowers and she loved exercise. She loved to walk. So we continue to try to do the things that she loved to do that, made it and enjoyable experience. And when I needed to cry, I cried when I needed to, Be angry, I broke things. because the thing is a lot of times, we label emotions, good or bad, right? We're angry is bad or sad as bad and happy is good. And joy is good, but emotions just are and I think when we

Erin Antroinen: Stop labeling, them, good or bad and just allow them to be. There's no shame in that, I think, I talked to so many caregivers that they're stuck in the guilt of hiring caregivers or putting their parent into a home because they just can't take care of them anymore, or just even the guilt in the sadness of, physically. you're walking through this, you lose your parent 100 times over before they actually pass with dementia and just the sadness, and it's like, they're afraid to be sad. But then also How do you hold joy in the middle of doing that at the same time? And so every day was just really trying to figure out how to do that, because I knew that it would be possible because I've done it in other areas of my life and I'm like, if I can do this through mold poisoning and all of that Find joy and hold space for the grief of what I'm losing. I can do this with this, but it's like,


Erin Antroinen: And so every day was just this onion process of figuring out what worked. And the beauty of someone that has dementia is that if it didn't work tomorrow's a new day and they won't remember, it didn't work. I say that laughing but it's true. we're the ones that are holding on, and my family members that I would talk to all the time or even friends. they have this expectation of what their loved one or what their friend used to be able to do. And I think that when there's this level of acceptance for where they are and separating the person from the disease, they're not the same thing and it's like you can still love them and talk to them and spend time with them and do all the same things. And so that really helped me in navigating how to become the mom to her and

Erin Antroinen: but I was like a fierce mom. I was like, if you do not have the right energy, you do not get to be around her. Care givers that came in. that you had a terrible day. But my mom does not get to pay for that. you have to come correct or you don't get to hang out with Mom because so much is non-verbal with people who have dementia or Alzheimer's. And so it's like, they can sense it. And then, I don't know if this is true or not. I'm not a neuroscientist, but I believe that our energy and happiness or joy, or whatever we're feeling like they're gonna mimic, that just like a baby does. right, a baby's crying. we're fearful, a dog is barking. why would it be any different with someone who's going through all timers?

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, I love everything you just shared, I can totally relate with the role reversal. And I like what you said about emotions not being good or bad and that was like a pivot for me because I think I felt like, I became my dad's parents and I was mad about it. I think or just I spent so much time looking for are we gonna get back to me being the kid and once I could Just accept it and let myself feel my feelings, which is, easier said, than done, there was a shift.

Erin Antroinen: Yeah. Yeah.

You talk about how millennials will be the primary caregiver demographic in the coming years. Why do you think this shift is happening, and what unique challenges do millennials face as caregivers?

Katie Wilkinson: And it was like, Okay, this is just our new normal you talk a lot in your work. Now you are a millennial caregiver. That's your handle all of this kind of thing. you talk about Millennials becoming this primary group of caregivers in the coming years. Can you talk a little bit about why you think this shift is happening? And what are some of the unique challenges that millennial caregivers face now and might face sort of as this group grows

Erin Antroinen: Yeah. Absolutely. So yeah, It's, five years ago. I never knew that this was going to be where I was going to be, which I'm sure you can resonate, you just never knew that this was Gonna be my story and the whole

Erin Antroinen: Yeah, there's something in the food. I don't know. But people are getting sick younger, especially the rates of dementia and Alzheimer's is multiplying and I'm in the process of studying this and why this is because I really want to bring value and education. Not only to my audience about how we can take care of ourselves, but how can we also make sure that we're taking care of our brains so that we're not in our parents situation? 20 30 years from now, because both of my parents died before 67. my dad was 67 and my mom was 66 she got sick at, 61 That's too soon. That's not enough time So I think there's this result of especially Millennials. We watch generations before us have kids early in life and we decided

Erin Antroinen: That we want to build our careers first. a lot of my friends. We either went down to pass, right. We either had kids and did family early, or we did career, and are having kids in our late 30s or even 40s. And we're having infertility issues or whatever the case may be. And so, I think that there's the combination right of us having kids later people getting sick earlier or even just having kids, were our parents had us later in life. so it's causing this, tension to where. Now, we're gonna be responsible for raising our kids for growing our career. But then also tasked with the responsibility now of taking care of our aging parents and making sure that you have everything that you need to have set up financially, like wills and power of attorney. It's never too early to do that sort of stuff. I'm so glad


Erin Antroinen: literally, we did it January before the pandemic, by the skin of our teeth. I literally cut my parents, they just weren't doing very good and I was So I printed some paper off the Internet and I was like, Okay these are the questions. I need to know. How do you want to die? What do you want your funeral? that's very surface level but that was the debt we went deep on it and it was not a comfortable conversation at all but I'm so glad that we had it because honestly it's made this process so much easier and this is one of the biggest things that I will die in a hill to get yourself in Ready for this. And then also not only for you as a millennial you to your parents, but then I'll say you to your kids, So where is that preparedness? it's never too early to be prepared but yeah. So

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, I love that you Just said, I'll die on a hill for this. And I think what you just said about, these legal documents and getting prepared for caregiving Sort of segues us nicely into this conversation about finances, which is another huge piece and…

Erin Antroinen: Mmm.

Katie Wilkinson: we know it's the number one, stressor for caregivers at large,

Caregiving often comes with a significant financial burden. How did you manage the financial aspect of caregiving, both in terms of practical money management and the emotional impact it had on you and your family?

Katie Wilkinson: Are a little bit personally about, how did you manage this aspect of caregiving and both by way of the practical management of money and also the emotional toll of finances?

Erin Antroinen: Many things. And honestly it still is,…

Katie Wilkinson: I know. Sorry. Just a little question.

Erin Antroinen: Because I'm still doing taxes and stuff for my parents and doing all of that. So

Erin Antroinen: It's a lot, especially when and that was in the process of not really having my own money squared away, That's also kind of one of the things as a millennial we're still learning and we're still growing and yet now all the sudden we're gonna be asked to do things times two or times three, and I remember just being completely shut down completely overwhelmed. literally by the grace of God, we had my parents login to be able to get into their bank accounts. this is why having this information ahead of time is so important? Because literally my sister was living at the time with before my dad passed, and she was helping them out with banking. So she had access to all of that, but when my dad died, my mom couldn't remember anything. So, passwords, all of that stuff, we think that stuff doesn't matter, or it's like a little thing, but it's like I ask people all the time, if someone needed

Erin Antroinen: jump into your life and live your life and pay your bills and make sure that your life survives without you in it, because, It could happen to any of us, At any given time. so it was a lot to navigate. It was really like figuring out their budget, figuring out the mail figuring out a system for finances figuring out. And especially with caregiving, there's so many variable costs and things are constantly changing, right? It's like one month, you could need this many medical X supplies and this and that. And the next month it like all the sudden doubles and you're not prepared for that because all of a sudden because dementia care goes like this. it's all of a sudden you're up here and you're needing way more here and then you're down here and it's levels off. So

Erin Antroinen: And when you're not prepared for that, it's a huge headache. so I had to get, me of financial education real quick. there was definitely

Erin Antroinen: Exhaustion. I definitely leaned on people who were experts in their field, to teach me things about taxes about investments about just, different things how to budget, properly and manage that and in manage variable expenses because that was one of the biggest things. And then How do we do this? And in the middle, be also preparing for what's obviously coming. Because dementia it's not like there's ever a reprieve it's like today is possibly as good as it's ever going to get again from here. and so how do we navigate today? But also prepare for what's coming at the same time. Which just in my mind even going back to that. I'm even sweating, right?


Erin Antroinen: My God, just the stress. we ended up having to sell my mom's house because needed to be she couldn't do stairs anymore and you're gonna do whatever it takes type of mentality, which doesn't always Good decisions. I'm just like you're doing things out of survival mode and…

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah.

Erin Antroinen: so it was constantly the state of how can I get out of survival mode and get into this Productivity mode in my finances. So Yeah, that was a long answer.

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, no, it's great. I mean there's definitely a feeling of doing the best with what you've got or what you mentioned that you got a real quick financial education. Initially wanted to ask, Where did you turn for that? But I actually want to ask if there's one thing that stands out from this crash course in financial education. Is there a resource that you use or one thing? That start above the rest, that might be useful to someone else to know that's in the same kind of boat.

Erin Antroinen: Yeah yeah, so my friend Justin he was a financial coach and so he taught me a ton of stuff with to manage really learning how to budget but not just budget. But really just it's that variable expense column and how to really manage that over expect over. What's the word I'm looking for? Not over analyze.

Erin Antroinen: over project for the amount of money that you're looking for and stuff like that. and also, I ended up leaving direct sales and going into getting an online job. So it to do that, to be able to work from home, and to have something that's more steady and all of that stuff. So that was really helpful as well. But honestly, really budgeting and understanding how to manage that budget and putting money aside and doing all of that, because it sucks so bad because, you're suffering and your life, but then you also have to put money aside for this. And you don't get to enjoy the things that you used to get to enjoy because you're having to be responsible. it's sucks. There's just no way around it. I'm like getting mad just thinking that time because it's like you want to love them and you want to focus on them. But there's all these things you have to be responsible for.

Erin Antroinen: And now all of a sudden it all lays on you and that's really hard.

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, I think I mean so many people also talk about this feeling like your life's on hold for this exact reason. you're caring for someone, you're putting your financial resources.

Erin Antroinen: Yeah.

Katie Wilkinson: A way you don't have the time or the money now to Go for beers with your friends or whatever it is that there's this feeling of pause that can be kind of confusing you sort of talk about your friend Justin and…

Erin Antroinen: Yeah.

Katie Wilkinson: budgeting, I'd love to know more about the actual system that you use. are you using a spreadsheet pen and paper? What was working well about your system for managing money and…

Erin Antroinen: Yeah.

Katie Wilkinson: specifically related to caregiving and what could have been better as you look back?

What about your system for managing finances worked well, and what would've been even better?


Erin Antroinen: It was a spreadsheet so it was a spreadsheet that had all the formulas. So he has a program that he puts all the formulas in and it made it super simple for that as well as he connected me with another person to help with investing and understanding all of that stuff. And gosh, what could be helpful looking back?

Erin Antroinen: I mean, I don't know, if I could gamify it or something like that and make it fun, that would have been helpful to gamify. The spreadsheet on my phone was nice, but probably having some sort of an app that was super helpful, probably would be nice to

Erin Antroinen: I mean, if it didn't happen that would be great too.

Erin Antroinen: Have to deal with any of it.

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah.

Erin Antroinen: Yeah. Yeah, I mean it definitely was a lifesaver and his program and coaching was a lifesaver and also it was a lot and even now still it's just now being in recovery mode. it's just a lot. So


Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, hopefully we can plug Justin somewhere later. It sounds like that was obviously useful to you and…

You talk about automating specific tasks and creating care plans for your mom. Can you elaborate on the importance of streamlining caregiving processes and how it helped you maintain your energy and focus on your loved ones?

Katie Wilkinson: It sounds like you like, systems and automation, I know you talk a lot about automating, care, plans and specific tasks. And I'm shifting away from finances now and more just about caring for your mom. But can you talk about sort of this importance of streamlining caregiving processes and…

Erin Antroinen: Yeah.

Katie Wilkinson: how that freed up, you…

Erin Antroinen: Yes.

Katie Wilkinson: energy and focus for you.

Erin Antroinen: my gosh this again another hill I'll die on we can only make so many decisions a day and especially the whole spoon theory, we only have so many spoons for the day and if you're normal and you're healthy and you have life going on, it takes a quarter of a spoon to get out of bed, but if you have something going on, it takes three spoons to get out of bed. so I had to figure out I knew very quickly, as Mom's health was, going up and down, and my health was going up and down because I was still recovering from black mold at the same time as I was taking care of her. And so, in the middle of it I was like we've got to find a way to I can't be making these same decisions every day, figuring out where her meds are. And so one, I made a caregiver binder that is literally I wrote up all of moms things like all of her ticks and all the things that she does like the things that she likes to do because whenever

Erin Antroinen: Caregiver would come and I'd have to train them on the caregiver and I was like, I do not have the, and I don't even know if this caregiver is going to work, we're just here to learn because it takes a while to learn if they're gonna actually work. which, I need to probably start sharing caregiver horror stories because that's a whole ‘nother topic for anything. but,

Erin Antroinen: So navigating, how to not have decision fatigue, so that I could actually have a brain for other parts of my life and not just caregiving. So I created this caregiver binder that I'm actually in the process of creating to, actually have to, because people keep asking me about it. And so, it's figuring out what are all the important things that if someone's in your home, helping you with your loved one, what do they need to know about them? So that way they can get it right? my mom like to have a specific fork, have a specific goal. Have a specific things that those little things are just enough to send somebody off with dementia that they're all of a sudden now, they're irritated and they're not being compliant so it's just those little things that only you'll know because you're taking care of your loved one. so putting that together, then having a check system checks and balance system of did I give the medication? So checking off everything that we do every day, being able to put your pills in one place and have them labeled and fill them up for a whole.

Erin Antroinen: At a time. So anything that I'm doing for every single day,

Erin Antroinen: I try to do it one time in the week so I fill all the meds for the whole week. I decide her outfits even so I would have been set up with Monday through Sunday and I would have outfits in there for every day. So that way She didn't have to decide I would say because she could still read. And I would say Go to the Monday bin, pull the clothes out, and then put them on, and I'd have to instruct her. And then, obviously, as things progress, I'd have to help her, but it was just those simple things that I didn't have to, go look through the laundry and go do that stuff and it made it really easy to have. Somebody come into the home to be able to dress her and do all those things. we had all her shower stuff in a container, right, by the shower. We had ever literally, anything anywhere in our house that we were doing things, there was just readily available the things. So that way, if she's in the bathroom and we're changing her brief, I'm like all the briefs are

Erin Antroinen: Stairs. I've got them now. Run downstairs. It's just those little things that our time and energy sucks that just by the end of the day, you're like, I Can't even think to eat for myself right now. trying to, and I didn't get it right. I know right now, especially on the outside of caregiving, it's easy for me to talk about it especially with so much energy and if you're listening to this in your caregiver and you're like, that sounds great for you but you're not in the middle of it anymore. but it wasn't something that I did all at one time. it was something like this week, I work on this. And next week I did this and then over time it just became a well-oiled machine to where it happened. and again every time something changed, then we'd have to shift things, right? So it's just this, moving and this moving.


Erin Antroinen: Target of what you're looking to do and I really had to learn how to give myself grace, so that I wasn't focused on Perk, because I have a tendency to be try to be perfect try to be the best that everything. And so, I had to realize that there's no failure here. if she's happy she's clean. I'm clean, mostly we're good to go.

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, I like to say that I'm a recovering perfectionist, I do understand that Desire to Just Do have everything wrapped up with a perfect bow,…

Erin Antroinen: Yeah.

Katie Wilkinson: and I'm glad you mentioned that. It's easier for you to talk about this now with such energy after the fact, because I was going to ask, sort of how long did it take you to get into this. System. But you've sort of answered that question that it wasn't a perfect process And you can take what you've learned now and hopefully help other people with the system There's the bones to it, at least.

Erin Antroinen: yeah, I'm so glad that you asked this because self-care a lot of times, we think of, as bubble baths and walks in the park and massages and

Erin Antroinen: We just don't have that luxury as caregivers unless you have somebody coming in or whatever, like you might get it but it's a special treat, And so, How can we find respite even when we're in the middle of caring for our loved one? And that was something because I like stress will do some crazy things. I got rush to the hospital on two different occasions because I thought I was having a heart attack. One that once they thought that I was having a blood clot in my lung and the other, They thought I had a heart attack, it was all burnout, it was all stress and so very quickly. I knew that I needed to implement self-care habits that were things. I just talked about having those systems in place because it's the stress of the chaos. if we can prevent chaos creating a calm environment, not only for me but for

Erin Antroinen: for I would give my mom something to preoccupy herself and I would meditate, or, I would pray, or journal, I would take time to breathe, So often we're we're hunched over and we're collapsing our lungs. But I've started doing breath work and really understanding the power of breathing into my diaphragm and actually getting oxygen to the depths of my belly, and not just surface level lungs. it's amazing what a fresh glass of water with minerals, not just water because minerals will help your body to actually absorb the water. and that could just be salt, so you don't have to go buy some fancy, but make sure it's like pink salt, but having staying hydrated, and drink and drinking enough oxygen.

Erin Antroinen: Making sure that you're breathing enough, getting breath into your lungs. it can instantly change your mood, And so definitely leaning on my people at church and just really

Erin Antroinen: Finding those moments, What are the things that I loved to do? I loved connecting. So a friend would come over and we'd watch a show together or, I really had to teach my friends and family how to be with me in this season so that way,  I talk about something that I call a caregiver letter. And so, that was a part of myself care was that I needed to teach people how to be with me and so I had to write them a letter and tell them what I needed, as caregivers. I think we have an s on our chest and we think that we can just do all things and be all things because we literally are right like we're being forced to, but that doesn't mean that we have to

Erin Antroinen: Not have people surrounding us. And honestly, I would not have survived this if I didn't have a community. But I think that also largely in part had to do with I asked for what I needed. whether it was for somebody to help me take Mom to the doctor or

Erin Antroinen: Come with me and do this. don't try to be a martyr and go at this by yourself, So often people are like, I don't have anybody nobody's around nobody's involved and I'm like, or you just waiting for them to be involved or you asking them, because I think we people have their own stuff going on. And it's like, they love you and they want to help you. But if you're not being specific, they're gonna think you're okay. And so, a large part of myself care was taking those moments learning different things to support my nervous system, which we could spend a whole other topic on. Because, if you're nervous system is in fight or flight, then that has a lot to do with your ability to manage stress and all of that. So, I learned a lot about my nervous system and supporting that there, which can be done in the middle of chaos. you don't, yes, having serene rooms with, essential oils going and all of that stuff is great. But there's ways to do it in the middle of what you're actively going through at the same time.


Erin Antroinen: so, I hope that that helps but because I feel like it's literally just scratching the surface, but it's so good and I talk about it a lot on my channels. good.

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, I mean, I love that. I think you're right. We so often confuse self-care with we're gonna go get a massage. We're gonna make a whole day of it. I'm gonna take myself out to lunch, whatever, that's lovely. And it is self-care, but it's not like the foundations of self-care. And we talked to Nikki nurse who's also a former caregiver recently, and she talks a lot about self-care moments, which is also, what you've just talked about where it's like, Do you have 10 seconds to, just breathe in deep and, reset. That doesn't have to be a whole day how can you bake in self-care moments to your day so that you're maintaining the foundations and

Erin Antroinen: Yeah, and one more thing, So I remember thinking whenever especially moments that were really hard, I would almost stop myself and I would be spinning thoughts all of this. And I would say to myself a friend, actually asked me this one time because he had a baby and he was like, okay, he was like, How do you stay up all night with your mom? I have a child and I can put her in the crib and she can't get out like your mom is a grown adult. Hey, you staying up all night and I said honestly, whenever I'm feeling on the verge of burnout or feeling really tired, I find myself looking at her and I like it really present we're so busy being busy, And so I take a couple deep breaths and I would say one day I'm gonna miss even this

Erin Antroinen: and I say that to myself over and over and I would give anything to go back to chasing her around, and making sure that she's safe even though it was so hard. It literally was. I'm so glad that I paused my life to be able to take the time to do that, and I just Would find gratitude. I know people talk about gratitude and even still sometimes today. I'm like gratitude, Yeah. but it's like Do you take time to really feel it really and let it resonate in your body and let it Land and just be really grateful and even in those hard moments. So, yeah, I just didn't want to pass that moment without being able to share that. So thank you.

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, thank you for sharing that. I mean that's so beautiful. And such a good reminder of talking to another caregiver who, their mom would repeat the same story over and over again. I'm sure you experienced something similar and This carrier we're sharing. I'm so frustrating. I've heard the story a million times, I know how it ends and then one day her mom stopped telling it and I think that speaks to what you've just said. one day your mom won't be here one day your mom won't tell a story again and even though it's so Hard in the moment it's like Yeah…

Erin Antroinen: Yeah. Mmm.

Katie Wilkinson: how can we get really present with this because you will miss it,

Katie Wilkinson: You've talked a little bit now. Thank you for sharing that story. I really appreciate it. You've talked a little bit about,…

Erin Antroinen: Even.

As an advocate for millennial caregivers, what kind of support or resources did you find lacking when you were in caregiving? How do you hope to fill that gap for others going through similar experiences?

Katie Wilkinson: what was lacking when you were caregiving and a little bit about the work that you're doing now through your channels and business you talk a little bit about what support and resources you found lacking and the work you're doing now just for fill that gap for Caregivers that are currently caregiving.

Erin Antroinen: Yeah. Yeah. So one I just started finding the communities and stuff online, probably towards the end of my mom's journey and so I found a lot of resources like how to handle dementia, how to take care of dementia? How to do this? But not really a whole like that. There's very surface level information on how to take care of yourself as a caregiver. care. They throw around the term not losing yourself just, all of that. So, stress support and all of that stuff I think that

Erin Antroinen: I'm just really passionate about helping people to understand their nervous system how to understand finding joy in the middle of grief. I think that just the age of the Internet and where we are now. there's this beautiful air era of trans transparency, where people are keeping it real and they're not trying to hide, I think that there is the generation of caregivers before us There was just this


Erin Antroinen: Why just do it because I have to do it and it's just another day in the park and they're not sharing their story, or they're not talking about their emotions because it's just another day. But just because our loved one have gotten some sort of diagnosis doesn't mean that we also have to take on that diagnosis and lose our lives in the process and I've watched that happiness. So many people in the generation above us is that they've taken care of their parents or whoever it is that has an illness and all of a sudden after they're done, then they're getting cancer, they're getting sick. They're getting all these things. And I believe, personally, it's largely and part of not taking care of themselves while they're going through the most traumatic season of their life. And so I'm just super passionate about ing Givers, how to navigate this system. and don't miss the gold in the middle of it. there's so much here.

Erin Antroinen: To learn to value to on this side of heaven, this is, no matter what your beliefs are, right? you're going to be like, this is your time with them and so it's like and it's really those.

Erin Antroinen: being able to really take advantage of that time with them and do it in a way that honors you and just something that you'll be able to look back and be so glad that you did, rather it being like, there's this whole of five years that I gave up my life for, and then you just spend the rest of your life resenting, you can then move on, and be like, I'm so glad that I did that, and you have all these beautiful memories to be able to move forward, and to live the rest of your life with. So,

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, I love that. Thank you for sharing and I have a final question for you, but just piggybacking off you've just said. what someone comes to your channel? With this mission and everything, you've just said, what can people expect and to find and hear from you. and what kind of support can they get from you on your channels?

Erin Antroinen: Yeah, so honestly a heart laughter fun and just raw transparency. So I'm gonna keep it realized share very vulnerably and very truthfully as well as just really wanting to help you to become the best version of yourself. you don't have to wait for this piece of your journey to end before. you can do work on yourself in the middle of what you're going through and just being so supportive to the caregiver as you're navigating this season. So I'm in the process of putting together, some of the resources that I talked about putting together a course, just different things to give support. Because, with where I'm at. My mom just passed in March and I feel very strongly that. I need to continue doing this work especially in the middle of me. Grieving.

Erin Antroinen: so I'm just trying to navigate and find the best ways to get those resources to people because I don't know, I just haven't found a whole lot of people doing this work for caregivers online and I feel really passionate about it. So thank you for asking that.

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah. Yeah. Keep us posted as you Put out resources or a course or whatever. Please keep us. Posted, we'd love to be able to share that with,…

Erin Antroinen: Yeah. Yeah.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started caregiving?

Katie Wilkinson: this community. And we like to ask everyone at the end of the podcast and you've shared a little bit. But, looking back What do you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning of caregiving, that would have been helpful.

Erin Antroinen: There is a time that I thought that I was in control of it. My mom lived I was an interesting place to be.

Erin Antroinen: And it really is all gonna be okay. And to not one of the biggest things that I always found myself worrying about, when she's gonna die? Is The time? it was constantly? Is this I was so looking to what's coming and what's next that sometimes I would miss the moment and I would have to bring myself back and to get out of worry and fear and to just be present in that moment and just know that it's all gonna be okay.


Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, I love that your message of staying presences. Present is so clear through everything you've said and so thank you for sharing that. If people want to find you online, hear more from you, where can they go?

Erin Antroinen: Yeah, on Instagram, it's like an millennial underscore caregiver. I have a personal tiktok but I'm actually getting ready to build the brand of millennial caregivers so you can find Millennial caregiver on tiktok too and on YouTube. So literally anywhere millennial caregiver. I should just say that.

Katie Wilkinson: We'll be sure to tag you so people can find you. And I think so much for,…

Erin Antroinen: okay.

Katie Wilkinson: I mean for sharing so much about the financial aspect of caregiving and the systems you bill and just your experience I think it's really valuable to people for people to hear and I appreciate you sharing so transparently.

Erin Antroinen: Yeah, thank you Katie. This is an awesome.