Denise, who goes by “Dee” from close friends and family to subscribers on several media platforms, is from the Navajo Nation Tribe and was brought up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Previously in Healthcare Human Resources Management, Dee is now a full time homemaker to her family, a YouTuber/content creator and caregiver to her mom. We had the opportunity to interview Dee about her caregiving journey, below.
Share your caregiving journey.
I immediately left my career to care for my mom a.k.a. “Queen ‘G’” (short for Genevieve), who suffered a massive stroke in 2014. I never left her hospital bed side for the 6 months in and out of several facilities from ICU, long term acute care hospital, skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation hospital, nursing home, to finally moving into our home from Las Vegas, NV to San Francisco Bay Area when she was able. Without hesitation, I became her full time family caregiver.
At first, I didn’t know much about stroke recovery. I didn’t have anyone to help or guide me. There were no videos back then, who I can relate or learn from. Until one late night being sleep deprived, I came across one YouTube channel that had published 5 very candid diary-like videos as he was a full time caregiver to his wife, who suffered a massive stroke and was bed bound, like my mom. I was so relieved to know that I was going through the same emotions, scare, unknown, stress, overwhelmed, and lonely. I had already begun a YouTube channel in 2012 on how to coupon and save money using coupons. At that moment, I knew I had to help someone like me out there in this big world who is going through what I’m going through. If I can give another family caregiver some HOPE and encouragement during this difficult time, I was all in!! So that’s how my channel became “Dee Lovely Life, because life should be lovely no matter what happens…”. I got in front of the camera and started vlogging my journey as a caregiver and first time stay-at-home housewife/homemaker.
There’s a caregiving series to help others in my situation along with a variety of videos that entails being home as a homemaker. Those two come hand in hand on the “Dee Lovely Life” YouTube and Instagram. I try to keep it informative, relaxed, positive, and there’s always laughter somewhere for entertainment. My audience has grown. Not only caregivers and homemakers, but a very diverse crowd who enjoys my content as a creator and inspiration.
What do you know now about caregiving, that you wish you knew before?
The one thing I know now about caregiving that I wish I knew before was to take it day by day. Don’t stress about next week, next month, what is going to happen in the future? That really places a lot of stress for anyone, especially because all that is so unknown under each independent circumstance. You will drive yourself crazy by doing that.
As a caregiver, what resources do you wish were available/deem as necessary?
As a caregiver I wish there were better financial assistance or programs nationwide. So many undertake hardships, financial burden, and loss of their employment to care for their loved ones. It seems this is one of the biggest burdens, and additional stress that really shouldn’t be.
What do you do for self-care during your time as a caregiver?
The things that I do for self-care as a caregiver is to make time for myself. I wake up much earlier than my mom so I can get “me time”, which includes reading, doing my nails, enjoying the silence with a cup of coffee, or working uninterrupted for my social platforms (which I enjoy!). My husband has also been a great support and co-caregiver!! He will give me relief, so I can leave the house to shop, walk, or any kind of self care, really.
How do you make it through the emotional hardships of caring for a sick loved one?
I make it through the emotional hardships of caring for a loved one by having all the unconditional love a daughter to a mother can possibly have! I have empathy, compassion, and great respect for her. I always like to see it more as an honor to the most important person in my life.
How are you able to take on so many different roles? What helps you?
I’m able to take on so many different roles by finding a healthy balance. I set my boundaries and limits. I’ve been doing this for 8 years now, and I made routines, habits, and plan out goals to stay on track for my mom, myself, household, and social platforms.
What advice would you give to a new family caregiver?
My advice to a new family caregiver is to find immediate support, like a support group either in person, or online, specifically for caregivers. There are so many people who can suggest, recommend, or just listen to you vent.
Can you tell us more about your YouTube channel and why you share your caregiving journey with others on it?
You can find me on YouTube at Dee Lovely Life. I’m a variety channel sharing my journey, sharing my life in vlogs, caregiving to the well known “Queen ‘G’”, cooking, cleaning, gardening, decluttering, meal planning, and whatever comes my way. I try to encourage and inspire others in a very positive way! I believe we can make a difference by giving others hope, especially in the caregiver community.
We are so grateful to Dee for sharing her story, which reminds us that self care and creating time for yourself is always important. Having balance is healthy and it is okay to want to step out and take a little time for yourself. If you are a family caregiver, click here to find your local CRC to connect with resources and a community today!Share this post: