Special thanks to Health, Wellness & Safety Magazine!
Three years ago, Carol-Ann Hamilton was at her wit’s end. Her mother, plagued by growing mental and other challenges, had passed away. Now, she was forced to deal with her ailing father who remained entrenched in the family home since 1963. Well into his 80s and having conquered alcoholism, her always-stubborn father soon became impossibly cantankerous, refusing all genuine offers of help.
“No victory with him was easy,” Carol-Ann sighs. “My father declined any caregivers but me and adamantly refused to move into an assisted living facility. He finally got so worked up he collapsed altogether due to increasing pressures to confront these exact options. I felt painted into a corner.”
As her father inevitably passed away in 2012, Carol-Ann decided to write a book that would meaningfully support family caregivers dealing with recalcitrant parents. The result is her groundbreaking new volume entitled, Coping with Un-cope-able Parents: Loving Action for Eldercare, published by Balboa Press.
Using painful but poignant examples from her own experiences, Carol-Ann offers up six loving attitudes and six action strategies that ensure family care providers stay centered and make headway with even the most difficult relatives.
Carol-Ann recognizes that unmanageable elders can be exceptionally draining on physical, mental and emotional levels.
“They’ll do you in, if you let them,” she declares.
If anything, she encourages the overwhelmed “sandwich” generation to permit full expression of their deep resentment and anger over seniors’ unremitting and often-outrageous demands. She dares speak the unspeakable.
“Parents can become exceedingly belligerent when they’re unwilling to accept help or afraid of passing away,” she explains. “But it’s not about you. You have to use the QTIP method—that means ‘quit taking it personally.’ As an adult ‘child,’ you have to know you’ll prevail, even when you feel you can’t take one more step.”
In Coping with Un-cope-able Parents, Carol-Ann discusses how to stickhandle through such thorny issues as getting a parent to surrender their car keys as well as taking over management of daily tasks, for instance banking.
Despite the helpful tips in her latest book, she warns there’s not always a quick fix when it comes to putting a mulish parent in their place.
“People ask me ‘how do I cope?’” Carol-Ann muses, “as if there were a miraculous answer. There’s no silver bullet—this is a journey. It was no picnic in my household growing up so when I had to deal with my father again, it felt like a second life sentence. But I was able to come to a peaceful place. There’s no more significant time in one’s life than working through the transition of a parent.”
According to Carol-Ann, her experiences have become an all-too-common scenario amongst baby boomers, often trapped between the strains of balancing aging parents’ and young children’s needs simultaneously.
“It’s a burgeoning crisis that only promises to worsen,” she emphasizes. “To make matters urgent, most societal systems are already woefully unprepared for the elder population explosion. They’re stretched to the breaking point today, never mind tomorrow. Given how profoundly I know the senior care marathon is grueling accounts for why I have endless heart and soul for the ‘sandwich generation.’”
Being an activist is just one of part of Carol-Ann’s larger mission, however. For the past ten years, she’s been a life purpose coach, facilitator and motivational speaker, often using her skills to ignite people who stand at crossroads in their lives.
For almost twenty-five years, she applied her organizational development expertise within Fortune 500, entrepreneurial and consulting settings. In 2003, she decided to give up the job world once and for all.
“Work was killing me physically and spiritually so I just left cold turkey,” she explains. “I had no clients or padded bank account to fall back on. I just needed to soar beyond cubicle walls.”
That same year, Carol-Ann launched her firm called Spirit Unlimited. Here, she began using inspirational speaking and coaching to “create meaningful environments where bottom-line prosperity and employee loyalty go hand in glove as opposed to the typical view that these are competing imperatives.”
Through her business practice, she specializes in leadership development, cultural transformation, team building, and attracting, engaging plus retaining next-generation workforces.
Carol-Ann’s hard work and perseverance has paid off in spades.
Over the past decade, she’s consulted in various fields like banking, insurance, government, retail and manufacturing sectors. She’s become a sought-after speaker and workshop leader at conferences throughout North America, and facilitated retreats for several not-for-profit organizations including the Centre for Spirituality at Work in Toronto.
In recent years, Carol-Ann has diversified her practice to become a certified Reiki Masterhealer. She’s authored several bestselling books including Step Out of Your Sandbox! (showing how to release stale comfort zones in order to discover our dreams) and done work with clients as far away as Europe, Australia and the Caribbean.
As a life purpose coach, she helps her clients to clarify their goals and live more consciously. Carol-Ann gains tremendous fulfillment from championing people to adopt new perspectives when they’ve lost their way.
“Many folks believe they can’t leave corporate employment behind,” she says by way of example, “but if you feel you have a calling, don’t wait until your deathbed. I beseech everyone: ‘Don’t die with your music inside.’”
Using her unique combination of strength, courage and wisdom, Carol-Ann says she’s committed to helping those who are temporarily without vision or direction. When all is said and done, she finds it non-negotiable to avoid doing something with this life of ours.
“We need to transform this place,” Carol-Ann explains. “We come to Earth with a unique set of talents and gifts. We owe it to the planet to unleash them.”