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: Legacy Estate Planning

Stephen Waltar joined me to talk about Money and Law here at Answers for Elders radio. He is a renowned estate planning attorney in Bellevue, WA. Stephen walked me through numerous aspects such as Property and AssetsEstate Planning and Trusts. These legal terms can be confusing and complicated, but Stephen helps simplify these concepts. “I often have clients call me afterwards and say, ‘that wasn’t that bad.'” Visiting an attorney can be scary. And many people don’t like to think about, much less talk about or plan for, dying. But protecting yourself when you’re alive and protecting your loved ones when you pass away is what good estate planning is all about.

Estate planning can (but doesn’t have to) include wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and living wills. A will just says who gets what when you die. A trust helps protect your assets and reduces probatePower of attorney governs what should happen while you’re alive. It gives someone else authority to act as if they were you, whether making medical or financial decisions. (You can have different people acting on your behalf for different aspects of your life.) Who you choose for your power of attorney is not a popularity contest. It isn’t about loving one person more than another. It’s who you want making your decisions. A living will tells everyone (medical personnel, family members, et al) what you do or do not want to happen to you medically if you are incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes. This helps alleviate guilt because you have clearly communicated your desires.

A lot of people try to avoid estate planning by simply adding a person (i.e. child) to their accounts. But this opens senior parents to be liable for adult children’s debts or actions. It is much better to draft a legal document, such as a trust, that a child can be the beneficiary or trustee of, instead. Powers of Attorney may also be needed between spouses. Many people erroneously believe in a community property state like Washington that if a spouse dies, the assets automatically go to the surviving spouse. Instead, it goes into probate. The surviving spouse cannot do anything (sell or refinance a house, for example) for mutually owned property until it’s probated.

One of the best quotes Stephen said was, “Don’t put your trust in money, put your money in trust!” There are several different kinds of trusts. Revocable trusts can be changed as your goals change. Irrevocable trusts cannot be changed. These may protect your beneficiaries from expensive taxes. It may protect your spouse who may remarry from losing the assets with which he or she would go into the next marriage. You can also put your house in a trust. This may avoid or reduce some estate taxes and streamline the probate process. You may also set up a Special Needs Trust to protect a beneficiary who is disabled and reducing government assistance. The trust protects them from having their much-needed benefits reduced or removed but allows the trust to help pay for additional expenses. There are many other kinds of trusts.

As to what is needed, the short answer is…it depends. It depends on what you have. It depends on your goals. It depends on who is getting what. Stephen will sit down with you for a free consult. But first, he asks that a questionnaire of “nosy questions” (his words, not mine!) be completed. that allows him to get to know what you’re coming in with, do some research, then really spend the consult getting to know you, listening to you, your goals and your needs.

For more of my delightful conversation with Stephen, go to

To contact Stephen, call 425-455-6788 or go to .

For more information and resources for caregiving, go to


Welcome to the Answers For Elders blog page! I am here to explore this scary, unknown, daunting, yet potentially beautiful and precious journey of providing care for a loved one. One of the most common relationships for people on this journey is that of parent and child. Except this time around, the child is taking care of an elderly parent. But whether you are caring for a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, dear friend, or a spouse who has been diagnosed with a condition that changes their independence, the relationship has changed. It’s okay to mourn the loss of what was. It’s also okay to embrace the new reality. It can be an incredible experience.

If you’re new to caregiving, I know you have a lot of questions and fears and doubts. I did, too. You wonder about the time commitment. You wonder about keeping your loved one safe, especially when you’re not around. You wonder if it’s okay to feel sad for the loss of the relationship as it used to be, as it was for so long. You wonder if you’re selfish for feeling like you’ve lost your independence and the freedom attached to the life you worked so hard to build that is now so disrupted. You wonder if you’re allowed to be happy to have them alive and with you, yet be so frustrated and mad at the same time, because they aren’t listening or are tempermental and argumentative. You get upset when you have to explain the same thing repeatedly. And you cherish just sitting with them on the couch, holding their hand, watching reruns of a show from 60 years ago.

The answer is…yes. It’s all okay. It’s okay to be happy and angry, sad, fearful, joyful and protective. You’ll probably feel all of these at least a few times. I want to help answer some of the practical questions of what you may need to do to protect and provide for the elder in your life. I want to help alleviate loneliness and guilt. I want to connect you with the people who can help this newfound path be the best possible path for you and for your loved one.

Each month, I’ll focus on a particular topic regarding caregiving and what it means, both to you and your loved one. Click the “Follow” button below to get updates on new blog posts and go to for caregiving resources and an online community.


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