What is your story? Or in other words, what made you your awesome self you are today?
I created a support network that my sister and I wished we had while in the role of Caregivers for our aging parents. Growing up, our mom was always inspiring my sister and me, but it was her passing that was the spark for the inspiration behind my business – Aging Parents Management. I remember those days following her passing as some of the most difficult ones in our life. Yes, because we were grieving, but on top of it was making all of her final arrangements, and now in the shadows was our 83-year-old Dad who was left living on his own.
Looking back a few years later, my sister and I kept asking ourselves– why were we so unprepared for all of this? There are two reasons: lack of awareness of this future responsibility and centralized information about it while you are doing it!
It turns out we are not alone in this struggle. There are many daughters, sons, daughters /sons-in-law who are finding themselves in the caregiver role and are just as lost as we were. This is what I am changing about this process!
What message do you promote?
Being a caregiver for an aging parent or loved one is a job we will all have one day. For some of us, we step into this role very quickly and unexpectedly, or for others, it happens gradually and unknowingly over time. Regardless of the timing, it is happening, and it is happening without any prior training nor preparation. My sister and I believe that it should not have to be this way and have created a solution that solves two major problems we all face – awareness and access to information. Even though our journeys may be different and our parents' situations will be different, our needs are the same – understanding what role we will play in our parent's future long-term care plan and knowing where to find information to help us while we are doing it.
In what capacity do you LEAD UP in your community?
The key to success in the Caregiver role is having resources, tools, information, and a support network in a convenient place, so we have it when we need it. This is what I am doing. I am providing Caregivers a support network that my sister and I wished we had while caring for our aging parents through – preparation, relationships, and education!
In business and/or in life, share a struggle you overcame that other women can relate to
For three years, I worked in a hostile work environment. I was bullied by a subordinate who did everything possible to interfere with my job and made false accusations against me. Since he was directly responsible for a $50m asset and I was only the Director of Corporate Operations, the company I worked at for over 15 years modified my duties and title instead of addressing the behavior of this individual.
I thought I would be tough enough to keep taking the confrontations day after day and coming home crying. However, this started to take its toll on my health. I gained 30 pounds. I wasn't sleeping at night, and it was affecting my relationship with my husband. The thought of quitting crossed my mind; however, as the breadwinner, this was not an option.
About a year ago, they did finally fire that individual, and I have been vindicated, but this entire experience has changed me. The mistake I made was entrusting my employer to protect me with their HR policies. There are labor laws against this. Sad to say, none of these would come to my rescue. What I learned through this experience is the only way out of it was going to be digging my way out.
Looking back, I believe that this was part of my journey. Coming home after a rough day, what helped me through it was sitting down at my computer to work on my business. The rougher the day was for me, the more it motivated me to make the reality of having my own business happen.
After years in the workforce, we begin to accept the value people we work for put on us. After 15 years with a company, I felt I was deserving of an executive title – Sr. VP of Operations. They told me that this was never going to happen, and I accepted this as my professional fate. However, it seems that there may be a greater force that does not agree with me and has put things in motion to change my fate. So here I am.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
The most important aspect of my business is showing a personal side of this faceless industry. Much of what a Caregiver does is navigating the eldercare system, from Medicare websites to insurances, dealing with benefits, and so on. Yes, my business is online, but I am putting myself out there to let people know that my sister and I are real, and they not alone in their struggle. I may not be able to shake your hand or hug you, but I hope that they can see that I am genuinely interested in making their experiences as a Caregiver a better one than my sister and I had.
How do you SHOW UP?
I am always looking for ways to broaden the connection between caregivers and resources that support us. I also know that I do not have all of the answers, and other Caregiver support websites or services do not threaten me. If I think that there is another resource that will solve a challenge that a Caregiver is facing, I do not have a problem sharing it.
If you could give one piece of advice for women entering the workforce or launching their own business what would that be?
If you are entering into the workforce or launching your own business, you need to be prepared to step out of it or to have a plan for your business, so it can operate when you have to step away from it. As women, by default, we end up as the Caregivers for our parents or our in-laws. This needs to be on your radar. It will happen unless you do not have any elderly family members around you. If you want to be prepared for it, I am here to help you do it.
Contact Anastasia Blaszczyk