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June 29, 2022 13 mins

Whether he is uplifting other caregivers or enjoying the unique opportunity to bond with a loved one, Rob Faubion’s genuine passion for caregiving is clear. For 24 years, Rob has been the primary caregiver for his husband with early-onset dementia while also helping support his elderly parents so they can continue to live independently. With his experience as the Chief Community Engagement Officer for The Austin Groups for the Elderly in Central Texas, Rob understands the importance of having the hard conversations with loved ones to ultimately build a healthy caregiving relationship. He shares his favorite memories as a caregiver, inspires others to cultivate a supportive community, and shares how to incorporate movement into a busy schedule. This episode is a shorter version of our conversation with Rob made for a shorter walk. 

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi everyone. I'm Holly Robinson, pete, actor, author, advocate, do
it All mom, and I'm also a caregiver. And this
is care Walks, a podcast from I Heart Radio and
volterin Arthritis Pain Gel. It's a show for family caregivers
who give everything to everyone and need to make time

(00:22):
for themselves through movement. Every episode is designed for you
to walk as you listen, so just think of me
and my guests as you're weekly walking buddies. We'll hear
stories from caregivers and gain tips and insights from health
experts and advocates who know how important it is to
take care of yourself and manage joint pain due to
arthritis that often accompanies being a caregiver. Will discover community,

(00:47):
ourselves and maybe even alleviate some joint pain due to
arthritis in the process as we walk together and connect
to the best parts of being a caregiver. Welcome back
to care Walks. I'm so glad you're here today. How
are you feeling? You know it's okay if the answer

(01:09):
is I'm okay or I'm hanging in there, because it's
important to acknowledge and recognize our feelings, especially if we're
not caregiving is twenty four seven, and it's okay to
say you know what I'm struggling today. That is the
first step to asking for help and finding time to

(01:31):
take care of yourself. I'm also hoping today's show can
be an uplifting self care moment for you too. As
a reminder, right now, you're listening to the abridged version
of this episode, but if you're looking to get a
little extra inspiration, don't miss a minute. Check out the
full length version of this episode in your podcast feed.

(01:51):
All right, I'm really looking forward to today's episode. We're
talking about the joys of being a caregiver. We talked
so much about how hard and difficult caregiving can be,
which is true, but caregiving can bring a lot of
bright moments too. So I know that from my own experience,
being a caregiver gave me some really valuable quality time

(02:12):
with my father. We had a lot of deep conversations
and it became a time where we really got to
work on and improve our relationship. Today, I'll be joined
by caregiver Rob Phobian. Rob is the chief Community Engagement
Officer for the Austin Groups for the Elderly and Central Texas,
but he's also been a primary caregiver for the last

(02:33):
twenty four years for his husband, who suffers from early
onset dementia. While finding how to strike a balance between
the many aspects of his busy schedule. Rob has found
boundless joy in the relationship that caregiving has forged and
understands the importance of finding support and joy throughout his journey.

(02:54):
Before we get to my conversation with Rob, let's get walking. Yeah,
let's bring our full attention to this walk. Find things
to anchor onto in this moment to help you stay present,
whether it's the feeling of the ground beneath you or

(03:15):
focusing on the sound of my voice. Take a deep
breath in and out. We can always return to our
breath to anchor ourselves again. Take this opportunity to loosen

(03:38):
your shoulders if they're tints, unclench your jaw, and take
another cleansing breath in and out. Now, start to find
a natural and comfortable walking pace to settle into, and

(04:00):
let's explore how we can find renewed joy and love
in our role as caregivers every day with my guests,
Rob Phobian, Rob, thank you so much for joining us today. Holly,
thank you so much. I appreciate this opportunity. Yes, oh so,

(04:21):
I love to get to know your story a little
bit more. Can you tell us about how you first
became a caregiver? Most certainly, first, I started caring for
my husband. He has been HIV positive for more than
thirty years. So he takes thirty six pills every day,
and you multiply that time thirty years. You know, everything
that goes in your mouth eventually ends up in your brain.

(04:44):
And so the doctors told us very early on that
if he lived long enough that he would probably develop
some type of cognitive issue because of all the medication. Luckily,
he is doing terrific health wise. His viral load is undetectable.
His he cell count is through the roof, which is
a blessing because the meds are doing exactly what they're

(05:04):
supposed to. They're keeping him alive. Unfortunately, because of all
of that medication, it's starting to affect his cognitive. Yes,
the cognitive it's said, it's a give and take, right.
How did you approach taking on the challenges of his
health as it declined and did you did you get
to talk about together or strategize about it. We certainly did,

(05:28):
and that was one of the blessings that we had
is knowing that we had time to plan. And for
many families who are dealing with memory loss cognitive issues,
they don't have that time or they don't take the time,
and so addressing it early on is so important because
we were able to talk about the what ifs and

(05:49):
what would he like. And the same thing has happened
with my parents. My father had a brain bleed stroke
three years ago and so I'm also his caregiver along
with helping my other They live independently, but in order
for that to happen, I helped take care of them
there in their mid to late eighties. And so in
addition to the normal aspects of aging, we have this

(06:12):
on top of it as well. And so that's one
thing we did, is we sat down and had those
very honest conversations about what if and what comes next
and what do you want? And you really need to
have those conversations early. Seeing that you dedicate so much
of your time for being there for your loved ones,
what would you say caregiving means to you? It is

(06:34):
such a blessing, It really is for example, I have
learned so much about my family and my parents getting
to spend this much time with them. I just found
out that my mother was a roller skating car hop
when she was a senior in high school. I never

(06:54):
knew that. Wow, that's depressive. So I'm learning all these
great stories about the family, and it's time that I
probably would not have gotten to spend with my family,
because honestly, as a career professional, like most people, I
wouldn't probably have taken as much time as I have

(07:16):
to spend with my family. You know, you seem to
have such clarity about the realities of your situation. What
have you been able to learn about yourself since becoming
a caregiver for your husband and parents. I don't know
if it's that I've learned about myself, but what I
have learned to do is realized that most of it
is not in my control, and that's okay. I'm the

(07:39):
kind of person that makes lots of lists and has
multiple plates spinning simultaneously, and always got lots of projects going.
And I've had to learn when I'm caregiving with my
parents with my husband in that situation, put all that aside.
I am there with them. I'm not thinking about the
project tomorrow. I'm not thinking about what I need to

(08:00):
do next week. I need to think about what they
need and the time that I'm spending with them. And
that's been difficult for me because it's not my personality
to do that, But I think that has helped me
be a better person because it is giving me a
new skill set that I'm very proud of. This is
the ongoing threat through all of these care walks that

(08:22):
we've done. You have to take care of yourself. You've
got to keep yourself and put self care and make
it a priority. Do you rob have a self care
routine to find that me time I do. I go
to the gym, and that is not something I ever
thought I would say out loud, but that has become

(08:43):
something that I really enjoy doing. So I go to
the gym and that is my time where I just
disconnect and you know, I can listen to my inner
voice while I do my workout routine. The other thing
that has been really wonderful is we bought a house
seven years ago, but the grass never grew in in

(09:03):
our backyard, so we just dug it all up and
turned it into one huge flower garden. And he has
a degree in botany. So that's something we've been able
to share together is we have this big, beautiful flower garden.
And so when I get home every day, the first
thing I do is I walk outside and I go
in the backyard and I just walk around and look

(09:25):
at the flowers. That has been my blessing, that that's
my escape, that I can just go out there, look
at the bees, the birds, the flowers, the plants, go
dig in the dirt, just kind of get lost in
that for ten fifteen minutes. That kind of recharges my battery.
It's like, oh, gamm ready to go. All flowers always
do it. They're just they They're just like a serotonin

(09:48):
for the brain. Rob, you seem like somebody that can
handle everything, or people from the outside look look at
you and go, uh, he's got it. Rob can handle it.
He's doing this, He's got the parents, who got the husband.
Before we go, Rob, what is one of your what
would you say is one piece of advice you would
give two caregivers listening, especially new caregivers, about finding joy

(10:11):
in their work. I think it's always important to look
at this journey as a cup that is half full,
not a cup that's half empty. It's not taking something
away from your life. It's giving you opportunities that you
wouldn't have otherwise. And look for those moments of joy,

(10:33):
look for those opportunities to spend time with your loved
one that you wouldn't have otherwise. And you don't look
back three years later and go, oh, I wish I
really had, because no, you didn't know that you made
the best choice with what you had and that was
the right choice. Absolutely. I mean that is you learned

(10:55):
so much on this journey. You know, hindsight is everything, right,
get to go back and if you could go back
and do this and do that, but no, that was
your journey. You were learning and you knew what you
knew and did the best you could with what you had.
So Rob, thank you so much. This has been an
awesome conversation, um, when I was really looking forward to
because that's a question I get all the time, Like

(11:16):
you know, I'm this is such a tough situation. How
do we learn to embrace it and find and mind
the joys from it? So thank you again. Take care
of yourself and your parents and your your husband, and
I wish you well. Thank you, Holly, I appreciate this
opportunity to visit with you. A big thank you again

(11:39):
to Rob Phobian for joining me today. Hearing more about
his story just it really just reminded me about how
many special moments caregiving offers for a loved one. I
know how important it was for me to have that
time with my father. Rob shared with us his favorite
parts of caregiving for his partner and his dad and

(12:01):
how he finds new ways to carve out me time
while working around his own joint pain and remembering to
ask for help which makes him a better caregiver. Thanks
again to Rob and you for stopping by. That's it
for today's episode. Come back next week when I chat
with our guests, therapist and licensed clinical social worker Lindsay

(12:23):
Pace about combating caregiver burnout. It's such an important conversation.
Until then, keep walking and don't forget to take care
of yourself too. Care Walks is produced by I Heart
Radio in partnership with vl Teren Arthritis Pain Jael and
hosted by me Holly Robinson Pete. Our executive producer is

(12:45):
Molly Sosha. Our head engineer is Matt Stillo. This episode
was written and produced by Sierra Kaiser, with special thanks
to our partners at GSK Platform, GSK Weber, Shandwick and Edelman.
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