My first lesson is to not give choices you don’t have, but to find lots of ways to give many choices you do have! For example, you may not be able to choose whether a diabetic follows their diabetic diet or not. However, you can allow your parents with diabetes to choose from all of the proteins, all of the vegetables and the healthy carbs that are going to either go in your grocery cart or make it to your menu at home.

With all that’s going on in our country, our economy, the world, and on social media, it feels like so many of us are under a great deal of stress. Caring for elderly or aging parents can be particularly stress-inducing. We know chronic stress can be as unhealthy as smoking a quarter of a pack a day. What are stress management strategies that people use to become “Stress-Proof? What are some great tweaks, hacks, and tips that help reduce or even eliminate stress when caring for our aging parents? In this interview series, we are talking to authors, and mental health experts, who can share their strategies for reducing or eliminating stress. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Cheryl Field MSN, RN

Cheryl Field, a seasoned nursing professional with over three decades of experience, specializes in post-acute rehabilitation, with specialization in analytics, compliance, quality, and reimbursement. Cheryl has served in many roles from clinical director to principal product manager. Cheryl is a dynamic speaker, having presented at state and national conventions, simplifying complex healthcare challenges through engaging stories and analogies. Certified in Rehabilitation Nursing and AI from MIT, Cheryl holds degrees from the University of Rochester and Boston College, fostering a successful career in senior care alongside her 30-year marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Ted, and raising their three children.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!

I started my clinical career as a nurse working in physical rehabilitation. I was giving a presentation on preventing ADL decline at the national organization for association of rehab nurses. There was a call that came in looking for a speaker on restorative nursing. That speaking opportunity led to me leaving direct clinical practice and pivoting into clinical informatics. I took a risk and joined a startup in 1995 I never looked back I have since then worked in several roles it doesn’t really matter what the title is what I’ve been doing is building commercial software as a service which is utilized by nurses and nursing leaders are dominantly in the senior care sector which includes nursing homes assisted living independent living spaces.

What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?

First, I would remind myself that I should always take the time and spend the money to do the once in a lifetime events like weddings even if they require travel in fact especially if they require travel to some beautiful location! Life is so short, and we have so few opportunities to travel that I really do consider these to be once in a lifetime events. Second, I would remind myself that you’ll probably never feel ready to take the risk you should do it anyway and make it work out. I really have had such a wonderful professional and personal life that it’s hard for me to think of additional lessons that I would have wanted to remind my younger self. Find something that you really enjoy doing that might come easy to you and work really hard at it. That was a lesson I learned later in life.

None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful because of the support they gave you to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for them?

The answer to this question probably begins quite traditionally with my parents who gave a mindset of confidence empowerment and optimism. My undergraduate nursing school advisor encouraged me to think about a Masters Degre. My master’s degree advisor encouraged me to join a national professional associate and be active. These persons whose names I should recall, and sadly I have not, really did plant the seed in my mind for what to “do next”. Professionally there have been a couple of individuals who are quite pivotal in supporting transitions which I’ve made in my career. Cathy Tracy, a masters prepared nurse and exceptional clinical leader was one of those such people. I first met her through the association of rehab nursing where she encouraged me to go beyond being an acting member and started a special interest group as a Co-chair representing nurses who work in the subacute rehabilitation areas. When I was considering making a transition from acute rehabilitation to subacute rehabilitation Cathy was instrumental in offering both reassurance and professional guidance as I moved into a clinical director role. 25 plus years later she remains a mentor to me and a friend.

The next person I would mention is Stephen Littlehale also a masters prepared nurse who hired me into an unknown clinical informatics role for a startup in 2000. While I had proven myself in the association of rehab nursing circle as an emerging speaker and leader Steven introduced me to larger speaking platforms like the American healthcare association (AHCA/NCAL). These mentors helped to not only open doors, but also encouraged me to grow in my own way and bring my own authentic self into roles in product management, speaking, writing and publishing. It is a privilege to have opportunity, and I am grateful to those who created that space for me along the way. I have also been able to serve a few times as mentors to others, which I really enjoy.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?

In 2023 I authored a bestselling book Prepared! A Healthcare Guide for Aging Adults. Prepared was written for the 60 million Americans over the age of 65 and the caregivers or adult children of those seniors- so that is a large market of persons who need help. I see a big gap in advocacy for seniors and I wrote this book to help them master the transitions that are required when you have a change in health. It is quite risky moving through the health care system from an emergency room to a hospital to rehab and back home, the gaps in information flow result in errors. It was an incredible experience “Finding my Voice” and facing my fears about publishing. So, this year I am focusing on two things, one is promoting Prepared! So, my expertise can help them avoid life impacting events. The second project I am working on, and I am really excited about, is guiding other first time nurse authors on finding their voice and getting them to share ideas. Each and every nurse has a valuable story to tell and those who want to publish can! I will be speaking during Power Up Nursing Annual Conference / Cruise in April 2024. The conference has three tracks for nurses, Self-care, Career Care and Transformational Healthcare. I will be teaching a writing workshop titled “Finding your Voice” in the career care track. In the transformational healthcare track, I will be exposing nurses to roles beyond the bedside, including clinical informatics, policy, and responsible use of Artificial Intelligence. Nurses have a critical role to play in the next version of the healthcare system which staffing shortages, Artificial Intelligence, and a growing population of seniors demands. I also have 2 other books in the “Prepared!” series to write, but I need to balance my own full time work, with family, home town community service/speaking, and healthy routines which are the first to go when I’m writing.

Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Let’s now talk about stress. How would you define stress?

Stress is actually something that I have studied academically and of course experienced personally! And we all know that there are sources of good stress, called eustress. You might think of planning a wedding or planning a large trip which can create stress, but the event is overall positive, and you really look forward to doing the work to get to the final stages of the event. There’s also negative stress or distress which can come from feeling overwhelmed, too many tasks being faced in a period of time that feels insurmountable, as a nurse there is a fair amount of stress that you face every shift that you come into work period in some cases you’re not able to control what’s being asked of you, example one of your patients has chest pain or sudden change in health and you have to give extra time and attention to that patient meanwhile the other patients on your assignment are not able to get any of your time and still have time sensitive medications and personal needs. As the person who comes into the healthcare space because you like to help people it’s very stressful when you feel that you are not only not providing good care but leaving patients in situations waiting for services or care for an extended period of time. Finding that balance is it big part of preventing burnout among professional nurses.

In the Western world, humans typically have their shelter, food, and survival needs met. So what has led to this chronic stress? Why are so many of us always stressed out?

For me I know that I have this superwoman type belief that I can get everything done in a day that I plan to do, and shuttle children around or provide for your family etcetera. I think we have an unrealistic set of expectations placed on us each day and on top of our professional commitments we have extended personal commitments. Complicated by constant stimulation and inputs from social media, multiple e-mail addresses, text messages phone calls etcetera I think as humans we are over stimulated most of the time and have very little time to decompress in the quiet of nature.

What are some of the physical manifestations of being under a lot of stress? How does the human body react to stress?

I think each human body reacts to stress a little bit differently. Overall, too much stress can throw off your hormone balance including high levels of cortisol which puts us into poor metabolic balance. I know some people for whom a fair amount of stress actually excites them, and they feel like they’re functioning at their highest levels with the combination of activities, deadlines and excitement. For others, that many stimuli overwhelm their central nervous system and they just shut down. So, I think you must take some time to figure out how much stress is good for you and actually get your system moving and get yourself motivated to do the things in life you desire. During times of grief, loss, sadness we need to acknowledge how much energy from our whole being these experiences sap and be able to pare down some of the other stimuli and activities in our lives. I think it’s really difficult for nurses to find the balance between working 12-hour shifts and seeing potentially violent traumatic emotion charged events throughout the course of their day which happens in certain roles. Those humans may need extra time to heal from those experiences and acknowledge how much energy those experiences take from their whole system.

Is stress necessarily a bad thing? Can stress ever be good for us?

I absolutely believe that we all need a little bit of stress. So yes, I think stress can be good for motivation, decision making, and prioritization. Oftentimes saying nothing clears the mind like a lack of choice!

Let’s now focus more on the stress of caring for elderly or aging parents. This feels intuitive, but it is helpful to spell it out in order to address it. Can you help articulate a few reasons why caring for our aging parents can be so stressful?

The first source of stress comes from role confusion or transition of roles. These are your parents your whole life they have set the guidance, then in charge, made final decisions, and been the person that you have looked up to when you were uncertain of what to do. And now you find yourself in a new role where you are making final decisions gently taking over the role of being in charge and that whole transition which doesn’t happen in a linear relationship but more of a cyclical relationship is really stressful for everyone involved. And that scenario which I just outlined assumes that your aging parents are willing to relinquish some of those decision-making activities to yourself. In caring for your parents, it’s so important that you preserve their dignity and give them as many decisions and as much control over things that they can have control over. Especially during a time when changes in health, something they may not be able to control, are impacting their overall well-being.

Can you share with our readers your “5 Things You Can Do To Reduce Stress When Caring For Your Elderly Or Aging Parents”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

My first lesson is to not give choices you don’t have, but to find lots of ways to give many choices you do have! For example, you may not be able to choose whether a diabetic follows their diabetic diet or not. However, you can allow your parents with diabetes to choose from all of the proteins, all of the vegetables and the healthy carbs that are going to either go in your grocery cart or make it to your menu at home.

My second suggestion is to look at the overall plan for caring for your parents and get as many outside resources to come into the home as possible. The reason that I make this suggestion is that you have more hours a day when you can be a loving daughter or son and not have to be the bookkeeper, the cook, the laundry person, the gardener, the taxi and the medical advocate. If you can outsource a few of those other activities it not only reduces the caregiver stress it also increases the number of people coming in and out of the home interacting with your parents, which has a positive influence on social isolation. As a bonus when the lawn person does a great job there is something to talk about over dinner — instead of you cutting the lawn while your parent eats dinner alone.

Third create a group chat with whomever is close to your aging parent and wants frequent updates on their condition. I like to talk about sick day rules because not all families are close and connected amongst all the siblings. If you are the child who is caring for the parent and there are other siblings that you are not close with on a day-to-day basis, I recommend creating a chat for what I call sick day rules. What this means is that should something happen to your parents you can use this chat to give quick updates to the entire family in one space. The rules for this chat are simply this- when either Mom or Dad are having a sudden change in health which require rapid decision making, maybe emergency room care or hospitalization all siblings communicate in responsible manner in this text. It is actually very stressful for your parents to be going through a health crisis and at the same time worrying and wondering about the communication and the relationship of their children. All parents want their children to get along although this may not be possible every day it is absolutely possible during sick days. Having this chat set up ahead of time and the rules established amongst the siblings ahead of time actually reduces the stress to the caregiver during changes in health which happen frequently as our loved one’s age. This is one of many practical tips and suggestions. There are many more insider tips in Prepared! Healthcare Guide for Aging Adults. My 4th recommendation is finding resources. Resources like Prepared! designed to help both caregivers and aging parents to cope with the changes. Seeing change through other perspectives and the stories that other authors like myself share in their publications, lets you know you are not alone. When I wrote Prepare! I did so because what I had seen as a nurse and what I had experienced as a caregiver were full of gaps and disconnects. I felt very alone. I felt there was a need to share my system. I felt that caregivers and patients deserved to be informed of the best strategy for moving through the healthcare system during times of transitions and health. Finding these resources is essential as a caregiver. And my final recommendations for caregivers are to recognize that they themselves are not necessarily what’s best for their aging parents 24/7. Although making the decision to place a loved one in assisted living or a skilled nursing facility is a very difficult decision to make, go back. Recognizing that fresh staff coming in every eight or 12 hours may be the best thing for your loved one period, and we all want what is best for our aging parents even when we realize that that is not going to be received by a single caregiver in the home.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?

I must admit I am a bit of a podcast junkie, unfortunately I tend to go to podcasts for as much learning and new content which I do find inspirational. The Happiness Lab is one podcast that really puts a different perspective on happiness and our ability to control our own happiness. That’s definitely one I would recommend. For caregivers I do recommend that they search based on the needs of their loved one and give themselves some opportunity to better understand the diseases that their aging parent may be facing. There’s lots of support around coping with dementia and helping to understand the need and the transition into Hospice. My recommendation is to seek what it is that you need because there’s so much great content available then put on your headphones take a walk and refresh with that podcast. You may also find that meditation relaxation music therapy and yoga are great ways for caregivers to decompress distress and refresh themselves. I recommend all of these.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Find a way to be intentionally kind. Being kind, it’s free. The simple act of a smile and saying good morning which costs you nothing except some intention can actually bring joy to another person’s day. It goes along the ideas of random acts of kindness, or paying it forward, I like to challenge people to not do random acts of kindness but in fact be intentional about your kindness. If you were to look around the room you’re sitting in right now I bet there are people for whom you could intentionally do one kind act. Go ahead get started I dare you. The results are amazing benefit to you the person who’s intentional about your kindness. You will feel so good when you do good for others and then it becomes a feedback loop you feel better from the kindness.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

Readers can connect with me on my website There’s a resource tab on my website where I put links to many different resources that I am asked about routinely. Additionally, I have a newsletter. Once a month I send out a newsletter with insights for seniors and caregivers. You can also ask me questions through the join a newsletter textbox, or on my Facebook or LinkedIn page. On Tuesdays at 7:00 PM eastern Standard Time I go live on Facebook and talk about all things Medicare so if you have questions about Medicare, managed Medicare, or the combination of your Medicare with Medicaid, join me on my Facebook page send me your questions and we’ll get them answered!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.