Answers for Elders Podcasts: Brightstar Care

Kathy Lyons of Brightstar Care spoke with me about a very important subject: caregiver burnout. What is it? How do we prevent it? And how do we manage burnout if we’re already experiencing it? Brightstar Care provides home care to individuals with needs to maintain independent, in home living.

When asked, “when should a pro be brought in?” Kathy deftly noted,  “Usually when they call us, they’re already past the need.” A preventive way to think is, on this path of caregiving, what is my capacity a week, 3 months, 6 months down the road? Think about what you’re currently doing and if you think you can do this for another 6 months. If you find yourself exhausted or overwhelmed already, and thinking about the longevity is nerve-wracking, its time to start investigating. Calling in help is a sign of strength and protecting yourself, your loved one, and your relationship, not a failure!

Many people are afraid to seek home care professionals because of the financial aspect. We, of course, have to be fiscally responsible. However, don’t be pennywise and pound foolish. Don’t waste relational time doing the busy, overwhelming tasks that someone else could step in and do. Make fond memories, maintain or establish a fulfilling relationship, be present in the process. Even grieve WITH them. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks, you resent other family members, and you’re not a happy camper and possibly even taking it out on your elder loved one. There is often shame with feeling this way. It’s so important to bring this topic to light, to discuss it and take away the stigma and the feeling of aloneness. Almost every caregiver experiences anger, frustration and being overwhelmed. It doesn’t have to be this way!

What exactly is home care, the service the Brightstar provides? It is truly individually tailored care to meet each family’s needs. It could be someone who doesn’t drive anymore and doesn’t have family members close. So we can provide that service. Lots of people don’t want to burden friends or trust taxis or Uber / Lyft providers. Also, having someone trained to help an elderly person, who might have mobility issues, in and out of the car is huge. ADLs (activities of daily living) can be assistance showering, transferring to a shower or bath, getting dressed, preparing your own meals.

Families used to be larger and more centric, so the burden of caregiving seldom fell to one person. Everyone would pitch in. Now, people have fewer children and families often move away. At Brightstar, we are a team. We are here to help different caregivers. Brightstar is Joint Commission accredited, which is not required for Home Care agencies. But they validate and verify we are doing the things we say we are. We also have nurses on staff who draw up the Plans of Care, outlining the activities and duties for each patient, every week. To contact Kathy Lyons for more information on caregiver burnout or how Brightstar Care can help, call her at 206-777-1190 or go to . Once there, input your zip code and it will direct you to her office if you are in or around North Seattle. (Servicing King County and south Snohomish County.)

To hear more of my conversation with Kathy, listen to

For more information and resources for caregiving, go to


Answers for Elders Podcasts: Serengeti Care

Josephine Mporokoso, of Serengeti Care, was kind enough to come in studio with me to discuss two very important issues in the caregiving arena: Managing caregiver burnout and understanding Long Term Care insurance. Josephine is a Registered Nurse and case manager with 10 years’ experience.  Serengeti Care offers home care services (such as bathing, dressing, light housekeeping and incontinence care,) home health services (like occupation therapy, physical therapy, or speech therapy,) and case management to enable your senior loved one to remain in their own home, safely and with dignity, for as long as possible.

Most people who become caregivers to a parent or senior loved one find this role very suddenly and abruptly thrust upon them. It is overwhelming, can be disruptive, and affects generations of people within the family. Burnout is very common among caregivers because it is such a stressful undertaking. Many people experience burnout but don’t really have a name for it. Or caregivers feel guilty for experiencing burnout that they aren’t willing to admit or discuss it. Symptoms of burnout may include shortness of breath, cramps, knot in the throat, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, or feeling out of control with your own life.  Heart disease and high blood pressure among caregivers is twice as high as the national average. And 23% of caregivers providing care for loved ones for 5 or more years rated their own health as fair or poor.

But there is good news! Burnout can be prevented, managed, or alleviated. You are not alone! Nor do you have to do it all. Preventing and managing burnout may mean setting schedules and boundaries. Alleviating it may require you to step away from the situation, even if only for a few minutes. Having positive thoughts or using music as therapy can also help. Talk to someone, find support, ask for help. Utilizing service providers such as Serengeti Care can reduce the stress and busy work, allowing you to focus on the relationship, spending quality time and creating memories. And believe it or not, it is possible, even important, to see gratitude in the midst of this most difficult task.

We’ve addressed burnout. But another hard aspect of providing care for our aging parents is figuring out how to do it financially. One avenue is if your senior loved one has a Long Term Care (LTC) insurance policy. This is not only good information for you as a caregiver, but also to know for your own potential future care as you age. Josephine notes that many Long Term Care plans cover home care. (Medicare does not pay for non-medical in-home care such as laundry, housekeeping, companionship, etc. that are still vital aspects of allowing seniors to live independently at home.) Service providers like Serengeti Care will be happy to review the policy and help you understand what it covers.  More importantly, they can help you understand up front before you use the services, only to learn down the road whether the services were covered. And best of all, if services are covered by the LTC plan, Serengeti will bill insurance directly instead of you having to front the money and get reimbursed for covered expenses.

Experienced nurse and case manager Josephine Mporokoso and the team at Serengeti Care would love to help you understand more about managing burnout, best utilizations of your parent’s LTC plan, and other ways in which they can help you and your loved one maintain a safe and dignified aging in place experience.  Listen for more to her Answers for Elders podcasts.

To contact Josephine and Serengeti Care, go to or call at 206-755-1200. They are available 24/7.

For more information and resources for caregiving, go to .