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SCI Netcast: Annalee Kruger- Care Right Inc. – Empowering Caregivers (Professional and Family)

Annalee Kruger is extremely passionate about empowering family caregivers and professional caregivers. Listen to her words of wisdom about toxic work environments!
Annalee Kruger is extremely passionate about empowering family caregivers and professional caregivers. Listen to her words of wisdom about toxic work environments!
Annalee Kruger is extremely passionate about empowering family caregivers and professional caregivers. Listen to her words of wisdom about toxic work environments!

About Annalee Kruger

Annalee Kruger started Care Right Incorporated in 2011, working with families all across the country. She started working virtually in 2012. She facilitates family meetings with families with aging loved ones and develops customized aging plans.

 

For Annalee, providing proactive senior-care planning to families is more than just a career – it’s her passion. At a young age, Annalee witnessed the challenges seniors face while living with her grandparents (Dad’s father and Mom’s mother) in her childhood home. Annalee’s grandfather, a significant role model, instilled in her the importance of family. Her grandmother, whose health was poor, taught Annalee about grief, loss, and how medical issues can affect a senior’s quality of life.

 

Similar to most caregivers, Annalee’s parents needed to take only a minimal role in caring for her grandparents at first. But over time, the grandparents’ increasing needs demanded more attention and involvement. As Annalee’s parents honored their wishes to avoid a nursing home, they encountered the toll this level of sacrifice requires – ultimately affecting their family, relationships and work-life balance.

Annalee credits her compassion, empathy and in-depth understanding of senior issues to what she witnessed as her parents transitioned from adult children to caregivers of their own parents. Today, Annalee is entering the role of long-distance caregiver to her own parents, and as a result, she understands, firsthand, the guilt and stress associated with the role.

 

Annalee has spent her entire 25+ year career in the senior care industry and has become a nationally recognized expert in the field of senior care planning having presented at a number of healthcare, senior housing, and financial conferences as well as hosting dozens of webinars. In addition to Care Right, Annalee has also founded Care Right U which provides specialized training and consulting to caregivers in corporate settings (i.e. home health care providers, senior living facilities). She is also the co-founder of Plan4Life which educates, via its Elder Planning Specialist Program, members of the financial planning industry on the unique skills needed to manage their clients as they get older.

 

She received her BS in Social Work from the University of Northern Iowa and her MBA from Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin. In addition to being a Licensed Social Worker (LBSW), Annalee is a certified Family Mediator with further certificates in Grief, Trauma & Loss as well as PTSD Counseling. Annalee has served as an adjunct faculty member in the Human Services and Organizational Development departments at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee where she also received her Six Sigma Black Belt certification in lean process improvement. Currently, she is in the process of earning her Certified Senior Advisor certificate from the Society of Certified Senior Advisors.

Annalee will soon publish her first book titled The Invisible Patient which outlines the emotional, physical and financial toll experienced by family caregivers.

 

In The Invisible Patient, senior care advisor and caregiver advocate Annalee Kruger teaches caretakers how to appreciate the blessings of being a caregiver while also looking after themselves. It is not a luxury for caregivers to practice strong self-care — it is a necessity. The ability to be resilient, of knowing and sharing boundaries, and how to say “no” are vital for both the well-being of the caregiver and the caregiver’s patients.

The Invisible Patient provides inspiration, encouragement, and guidance for finding ease and help during the caregiving journey.

Social Links

 

Website: https://carerightinc.com/

Phone: (800) 741-0302

Kruger leaves no stone unturned, providing personal anecdotes and scenarios about the caregiving process, and includes numerous references and resources in this guide to

 

Email:WeCare@CareRightInc.com

 

The Invisible Patient book link:

The Invisible Patient by Annalee Kruger
The Invisible Patient by Annalee Kruger

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Patient-Emotional-Financial-Caregivers-ebook/dp/B09 J64RGJW

 

 

 

ANNALEE KRUGER The Senior Care Industry Netcast

 

  • Introduction of Annalee Kruger as the owner of Care Right Incorporated
  • Annalee expounds on the operation of Care Right (what do they do?)
  • Bad working environments vs good working environments (in healthcare)
  • Tips for self care
  • How to enjoy life
  • Taking time for yourself
  • Annalee’s book “The Invisible Patient”

 

 

 

 

Annalee Kruger’s Words of Wisdom/ Tweet-ables

  • “If we aren’t our best selves, we aren’t going to be our best nurse or our best social worker or our best spouse or our best mother or our best daughter or the best We’re not going to be our best. And we want to really be our best. And it takes time and effort and energy, but what an investment.”

 

  • “We want to invest in ourselves so that we can continue to do our mission, which is investing in helping other people have successful outcomes and better quality care as well. Right? But it has to start with us, inside of us, to be able to say, look, you know what? I deserve to take care of ”

 

  • “You have to also enjoy life and laughter and not let that get lost in the shuffle. Like enjoy .. When things don’t go quite right, instead of getting all bent out of

 

shape, maybe just take a step back and be like, okay, this sucked, but there’s worse things that could have happened. Right?”

 

  • “Do things that make your heart And if your current job or employer isn’t making your heart pound, I’m here to tell you life is too short, find something that makes your heart pound.”

 

  • “Take care of yourselves. I know it’s easier, believe me, I know it’s easier said than done, but just don’t let yourself just get so run down that you hate your profession and want to leave it because you know what? We need all of you good ones out ”

Full Transcript

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with The Senior Care Industry Netcast, where leaders with three or more years of experience in the market share their advice. So, let’s get to it and reintroduce someone. In few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

AnnaLee Krueger:

Hi everybody. My name is AnnaLee Krueger. I have a company that I started in 2011. It’s called Care Right Incorporated. I left corporate America because the CCRC, the Continuing Care Retirement Community that I was working at was just so utterly toxic, downright evil, that I said, enough of that. Even though I had been an employee for 18 years, I put on my entrepreneur hat and thought, well, if I’m going to go out on my own, then I can at least build my team and manage the corporate culture and have a healthy, fun environment, and actually train my team and recruit the right people on the team. So, I started Care Right in 2011. I work with families all across the country. I’ve been virtual since 2012. So, thankfully it didn’t take a pandemic for me to be like, oh my gosh, what am I going to do?

AnnaLee Krueger:

So, I facilitate family meetings with families with aging loved ones, and we develop customized aging plans. So, as a social worker and a family mediator, I have five to eight family meetings, depends on the family dynamics and the complexity of the case, but we lay out what’s working well, what’s not working well with caregiving or with how your parents are doing at home, or if they’re in a care community, how well are they being taken care of. And then we put a plan together to make sure that the family and the loved ones have the right supports in place. And we help them oversee their care and work as patient advocates. We also teach our clients how to, because I have kind of two versions, one is a do it yourself. So, we teach families how to do tours of these care communities, how to interview home care companies, how to be a patient advocate. We have a six page checklist for those that want to do it themselves. Otherwise, we have the other version where it’s done for you or done with you.

AnnaLee Krueger:

Today, I wanted to talk about self care, because even before the pandemic, like I said, I left corporate America because the culture was just so awful. I was being bullied. And honestly I’m going to share something super private but, I had just left an abusive marriage. So, I had vowed to myself that when I left my husband, that I would never put myself in an unhealthy relationship slash environment ever again, because it damn near killed me to be with him. So then, when I work in this toxic workplace culture, I’m like, this just isn’t healthy. So, I started my own company. Today, I wanted to talk about, if you are in the same boat where in you’re in a workplace culture that’s not healthy, how can you take care of yourself the best way if you still want to stay working within that environment? Or do you have what it takes maybe to, the courage, to leave your job and start your own company so that you can build your business opposite of how corporate America does it? Because that’s what I did.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes, absolutely. You’re speaking to a registered nurse here, and lots of nurses across the country and business owners and folks who are working in a corporate environment still, in a hospital setting, maybe in a SNF setting or in independent living setting, but you’re talking to a lot of people out there who have maybe in the past… And we just talked about this before we started but, I haven’t really done patient care in a hospital in 15 to 20 years. I keep my license active because you just never know. Somebody would’ve to teach me the ropes a little bit. Some of it’s riding a bike and some of it is not. So anyway, if I had to go back to that, I could, but I left that environment because of… And I don’t know if I recognize is it as a toxic environment, but I recognized it as, a seasoned nurse when I left, very dysfunctional environment, in not just the corporate level, but also at the staff level.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nurses in particular tend to be fairly dysfunctional people. And that’s not a… It’s just because we’re caregivers. And there’s a reason why someone becomes a caregiver in their lifetime. It’s because of an environment that they lived in, where they were trying to fix things or not be the reason things were bad. And so, as nurses and caregivers, as a culture, we tend to be fixers, because we fixed things when we were little or wanted to fix things or didn’t want to be cause of more trouble. And when you top that off with an environment, whether it’s a hospital setting or other corporate culture, that doesn’t really seemingly care how many hours you’ve worked or how understaffed you are or how dangerous it is to care for very sick patients in bad ratios. One to seven is not a good ratio for a nurse on a floor.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So anyway, I totally agree with you and I’m glad you got out of the situation. So many nurses are in that situation and other people. And we perpetuate our own bad situations because we are accustomed to drama in our lives all the time. So, a bit of self issues and then we work in a culture that is, we just can’t even see the forest from the trees in a negative environment. So, I’ll shut up and let you talk.

AnnaLee Krueger:

And I had been really blessed, because it is a blessing when you actually work for companies that do respect you and treat you well and want you to succeed. And I had come from that environment from two companies that I worked at previously. But when I moved from the state that I was in to the other state when I got married, and then I worked at this facility that was just, it was just plain evil. And I was just like, “Oh my God.” It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. And so today, I wanted to just give some tips on self-care because everybody’s like, oh yeah…

AnnaLee Krueger:

I say this every day to families that I’m working with as a consultant, you have to take care of yourself. And I am the biggest hypocrite you’ll ever meet because I say this literally every day to eight to 10 families every single day, because I’m booked all day and all night long. And I always am harping on my clients, you need to carve out time for self care. You need to eat healthy and exercise. You know what? I’m sitting over here, I am 50 pounds overweight, I sleep four or five hours a night because I have all this stuff going on with clients and I actually have like three businesses, but we are just prone to… A lot of us are type A people, we’re natural caregivers, and we always fail to take care of ourselves because we’re busy taking care of other people. But guess what? That lands us in not a good position. Right? We know that even as family caregivers, they’re more prone to anxiety, depression, insomnia, changes in their weight, changes in just their personality where they become someone they don’t like.

AnnaLee Krueger:

And I found myself falling into that same trap because… I can’t stress enough, if you learn one thing from today, you… I can’t tell you enough how important it is that you need to step away and you need to come up for air and you need to get clarity, because you don’t want to end up being 50 or 60 pounds overweight just because you’re working all the time and you’re stressed out and you’re binge eating or you didn’t eat all day, so then when you finally do get done with your last client at night, you’re eating that entire pizza. And, damn that feels good. But then you’re like, “Crap. I can’t get my pants zipped. What the heck?” So, eating healthy… I’m sure those of you that are listening to this or watching this are in that same boat where we tell our families and our patients and our clients to take care of yourself, but we need to also do the same thing.

AnnaLee Krueger:

Because it is true, if we aren’t our best selves, we aren’t going to be our best nurse or our best social worker or our best spouse or our best mother or our best daughter or the best niece. We’re not going to be our best. And we want to really be our best. And it takes time and effort and energy, but what an investment. We want to invest in ourselves so that we can continue to do our mission, which is investing in helping other people have successful outcomes and better quality care as well. Right? But it has to start with us, inside of us, to be able to say, look, you know what? I deserve to take care of myself. I deserve to take an hour in the morning to not check Facebook, to not do any of that other crap that’s distracting, and actually get out there, lace up your shoes and go for a walk, and listen to the birds, or I’m in Florida, so I watch the alligators to make sure that they’re staying where they should. Otherwise, you’re going to see this little 50 pound overweight little social worker, running her tail off away from the gator but, it’s part of my exercise program.

AnnaLee Krueger:

But I wanted to just talk about self care. I know we’re just having some fun with a really serious topic, but you have to also enjoy life and laughter and not let that get lost in the shuffle. Like enjoy when… When things don’t go quite right, instead of getting all bent out of shape, maybe just take a step back and be like, okay, this sucked, but there’s worse things that could have happened. Right? So like this morning, I bumped my and, oh, it’s in, well, because I broke it. So, I have these huge big ass coffee cups. And they’re six cups per cup, right? So, they’re like big. And wouldn’t you know it? I bumped it with my fat elbow today. It was full of coffee and the whole thing went all over my kitchen.

AnnaLee Krueger:

So AnnaLee from last week would’ve been like, drop an F bomb and all sorts of stuff. But I had some epiphanies over the weekend about, you know what? I am so short tempered. I’m not myself. I’m not sleeping. When I do fall asleep, I’m waking up at three o’clock in the morning gasping for air because I’m like… That’s what happens. You have to listen to your body when it’s telling you this stuff, you’re overstressed and you have to step back. So, if I would’ve knocked my coffee cup over even as of last Friday, I would’ve been ballistic AnnaLee, but today I laughed because I’ve been listening to relaxing, calm, music. For me it’s music, works for me. So, I’ve had that app playing basically nonstop and it works for me. I’ve also actually taken time out. I’ve said no to some events and people so that I could actually take time this weekend to start exercising. And I’m only, like today is what Tuesday, I’m only four days in to actually exercising every day. I’m smiling.

AnnaLee Krueger:

The coffee thing didn’t even phase me. I’m like, “Huh, that sucks. Good thing I have another cup.” Right? So, when you start feeling anxious all the time and like, “Oh my God, if one more thing goes awry, I’m going to freak out”, that’s your body telling you and your mind telling you, you have to slow down. And if you need to, now’s the time to be looking at different jobs. In healthcare, we have the upper hand. For once, we have the upper hand.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, it’s true.

AnnaLee Krueger:

Because we can get a job, if you’re an employee, you can get a job wherever, basically wherever you want to.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, you can.

AnnaLee Krueger:

Finally, we have the upper hand. But just know the warning signs of an unhealthy workplace culture too. Like I, when I was still an employee, I did a tour of the facility because I’ve always been in long term care. So, I always toured the facility as a just regular person, not as an applicant, just so I could get a sense of like, okay, does it smell good? Are they responding to the residents? But I didn’t have a chance to do that with this last position as an employee and the culture I knew within the first week of working there, that it was a huge mistake. And so listen, in healthcare, I have to say, we do have good intuition because we’re caregivers, but you have to listen to not only yourself, but also listen to your environment.

AnnaLee Krueger:

Follow your gut. If your gut is saying, look, this place is going to be just as unhealthy as the last place I worked, either keep looking or you know what? Take the courage and start your own consulting company. Now is the time. With a pandemic, families are looking for help, right? They’re looking for help. So, start your own consulting company. And Valerie’s done it. I’ve done it. If you need help, we’re here to help you too, like sort out how to even get this thing launched. I started out with one company, now I have three. I wrote a book called The Invisible Patient, emotional, physical, and financial toll of family caregiving. So, I wrote this and finished this up in November. Do things that make your heart pound. And if your current job or employer, isn’t making your heart pound, I’m here to tell you life is too short, find something that makes your heart pound.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. And I think as we get older, I don’t know how old you are, but I’m 50.

AnnaLee Krueger:

50.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Okay. Well, I’m 51 and I will say this, and you can call it midlife crisis, I don’t know if crisis is really the way to describe it at all. I didn’t go buy-

AnnaLee Krueger:

Awareness.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Ferrari. Yeah, awareness. But you realize that you have an expiration date, you know that you have an expiration date and you know that it’s in the next 40, 30 years or so. And you realize how fast this last 50 years has gone by and the lifetimes you’ve lived in the last 50 years. I mean, you’ve lived so many chapters. And you can see the end of the road, not see it, but you kind of know. So, I think when I think when you get to that point, you think to yourself, “Hmm. Yeah. I only get one of these lives. I get one. I get one.” And staying up all night working and then trying to work all day or not getting enough exercise or not getting enough sleep. You know what? These problems are still going to be here tomorrow.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And I have to say, in my business, which is mostly online marketing now for home care and senior care businesses, we don’t have a lot of emergencies in our business. So I come from a culture of, emergency room and burn trauma, everything’s crazy to… It took me years to readjust and say, okay, this is not an emergency that there’s a typo on the third page inside your website. We’ll definitely get it fixed because I know that’s awful. But unless if your website’s down or your email being down is probably the biggest emergency we ever face, and we don’t even do that very much. So, there’s really, to take a step back and say, “Yes, let’s get this taken care of right away.”

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Or if the coffee’s spill all over the counter, I know in my head now that I have two choices, I can stand there and feel and fuss and get angry and be crazy, or I can just stand there and look at it and think, hmm, I wonder how quickly I can clean up this mess. I wonder how I long I have to stand here and look at this mess and think, huh, okay. Let’s just move forward step by step and get this mess cleaned up. What a pain in the butt, but eh, whatever, let’s go. I mean, you could take two roads and I’m quick to snap as well, I’m that kind of personality, but you do as you get a little older realize a lot of things are just not worth it, just not worth it.

AnnaLee Krueger:

And it’s interesting because I’ve got the patience of Job. And so, this is how I knew, plus I just know myself. Right? But this is how I knew, I’m here to tell you that these signs of burnout and signs of stress can be pretty subtle at first. And then it takes… It’s just like caregiving, right? It starts out little but then it snowballs into something big. And then pretty soon you’re like, oh my God. I am snapping all the time. I’m getting ticked off over stuff that a year ago I would’ve laughed at. But I think, we’ve all been through such a crappy two years with the pandemic and the rioting and our jobs and whatever it is that’s going on in our personal life and in the outside life that we don’t have a lot of control over, I get the sense that a lot of us are just, we’ve just got some fatigue in general. Right?

AnnaLee Krueger:

And then, when you are working in healthcare and the patients are the clients, we’re seeing sicker people than we’ve ever seen before, especially coming out of the pandemic. I know I see that with my clients because the families couldn’t get there to check on them, so they just hoped that their parents were doing okay. And they weren’t doing great to start with at home on their own. And so there’s just been a lot of self neglect and stuff. And these families are like finally realizing, oh, they’re really blindsided. They’re like, oh my gosh, I didn’t realize mom wasn’t taking her meds or that she was falling all the time or now her whole house smells like urine because we didn’t realize she was incontinent because they hadn’t seen her for a year. Right?

AnnaLee Krueger:

So, we’re working with difficult situations that are emotionally taxing on us, not physically taxing, I just sit on the computer on zoom all day and consult with families and put their aging plans in place. But it’s mental draining because as you can imagine with my clients, no one ever calls me because things are going well. Right? Like dad fell, he broke his hip, he’s in the hospital, he’s going to be discharged. We don’t know what to do. He’s a caregiver of mom with dementia. So, it’s all mentally taxing. And when you’re a caregiver, you kind of absorb that pain and that energy from your clients and your patients as well.

AnnaLee Krueger:

One thing I wanted to, because I know we want to wrap up here pretty soon, one thing I wanted to just kind of throw out there is, not only the self care piece for healthcare workers, but I know that with the pandemic people are working double shifts more often than they aren’t. And I started the Care Crusade, it’s a nonprofit, I’m still getting all the paperwork in order, but it’s a nonprofit for families, consumers and healthcare workers who are having or have had a less than great experience in the healthcare model that we have. So, I have a patient advocacy division where we do senior care advocacy, we’re in and out of these facilities, or we’re teaching families how to advocate for their loved one to make sure they’re getting bathed and their meds and their compression socks on and all that kind of stuff. But this Care Crusade is a national mission to improve the quality of care for all patients, young and old, but definitely with an emphasis in the senior care space, because we’ve got seniors and vulnerable adults and dementia patients that absolutely cannot advocate for themselves.

AnnaLee Krueger:

The World Health Organization in 2020 did a study. They found that 64% of nursing home staff admitted to neglecting and abusing their residents. So I mean, I know that this is a fact because I have a patient advocacy division, but families are like, “What? No. We pay $12,000 a month for mom to be in a facility, of course they’re going to take care of her.” And I’m like. But part of it is most of the people in healthcare are good people, they’re just working within a broken system. So, I know most of my nursing and healthcare colleagues, they really want to do a good job and they really want to take the best care of their patients and residents, but they’re working with a broken system or they’re on day five of a double shift. And you can only, we only have so much capacity with us before we start breaking down whether emotionally or physically.

AnnaLee Krueger:

So, if the Care Crusade strikes home and you are wanting to maybe shift into something different, and want to learn more about either Care Right or Care Crusade or you are a family caregiver too, taking care of your own family members plus your caregiving to other people’s families during the day, you just can’t get away from it. Right? You might want to think about the book. It’s on Amazon, it’s on Audible and Kindle too. So, take care of yourselves. I know it’s easier, believe me, I know it’s easier have been done, but just don’t let yourself just get so run down that you hate your profession and want to leave it because you know what? We need all of you good ones out there.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. We need caregivers of all licenses and all types, as much as possible. And I do believe that everyone as a caregiver, their intentions are good and we want… But if you weigh a hundred pounds, you can’t move a 300 pound person without hurting yourself. And I can remember as a young nurse doing that all the time, trying to do that all the time by myself, because we were understaffed. And I knew if I didn’t turn that patient or do whatever I needed to do, it was going to be trouble. And they deserve to have good care, they deserve to have whatever. So yeah, we have people that are really wearing their bodies out and they’re wearing themselves out up here and everybody’s tired. So, I will make sure that Care Crusade and your book are both, which I love both, are with this interview. We will make sure that all the links are there and how you find the book, everything’s there for folks. And we’ll make sure this video gets to some of our groups out there on Facebook that can really use words of encouragement and-

AnnaLee Krueger:

That’s just it. I don’t want you guys thinking or men and women, gals, whatever, I don’t want you thinking you’re in this all by yourself, that you’re not appreciated, because I know you are appreciated, but you just might not feel like it because you’re in an environment that’s not conducive to making you feel good about what you’re doing.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely. Thank you, AnnaLee. It’s so good to get back in touch with you again and see how things are going. I’m so glad you’re here. Let’s not wait a long time to have you on again and talk more about self care, because I think everybody will love this

AnnaLee Krueger:

And thanks for all you do too Valerie. I appreciate it.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Thank you.

 

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN

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