Advice From Your Advocates

Ep. 24 - Part 1 - Embracing Joy and Compassion in Caregiving: Reverend Joe Krupp's Inspiring Journey with Dementia and Service

June 12, 2023 Attorney Bob Mannor / Father Joseph Krupp Season 1 Episode 24
Advice From Your Advocates
Ep. 24 - Part 1 - Embracing Joy and Compassion in Caregiving: Reverend Joe Krupp's Inspiring Journey with Dementia and Service
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We had the privilege of sitting down with the inspiring Reverend Joe Krupp, whose magnetic personality and uplifting attitude have touched countless lives. As the chaplain for the Michigan State football team, he has provided comfort and joy to many families during the pandemic. Listen in as we discuss his incredible journey, including the heartwarming story of how he brought happiness to a family on a wife's birthday, despite her dementia.

Reverend Krupp also shares his personal experience of caring for his mother, who had Alzheimer's. Her remarkable life of service, intelligence, and drive led her to take in 38 children in need of a home. As her dementia progressed rapidly, Joe and his family had to come together to honor her last wishes. We touch on the challenges of long-distance caregiving and the importance of family support during such difficult times.

In this thought-provoking episode, Reverend Joe Krupp offers invaluable insights on what it means to be a good human, emphasizing the need to discipline and educate our emotions. He challenges us to acknowledge our emotions without judgment and to ask ourselves whether they are helping or hurting us. Additionally, we discuss Joe's advice on counseling with compassion and joy, and the profound impact of living a life dedicated to serving others. Don't miss this heartwarming episode that will leave you feeling inspired and motivated to make a difference in the lives of those around you!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this episode to come out next week! 

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ABOUT US:
Mannor Law Group helps clients in all matters of estate planning and elder law including special needs planning, veterans’ benefits, Medicaid planning, estate administration, and more. We offer guidance through all stages of life.

We also help families dealing with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other illnesses that cause memory loss. We take a comprehensive, holistic approach, called Life Care Planning. LEARN MORE...

Attorney Bob Mannor:

You're listening to Advice from Your Advocates, a show where we provide elder law advice to professionals who work with the elderly and their families. Welcome back to Advice from Your Advocates. I'm Bob Manor. I'm a certified elder law attorney in Michigan. Today we've got a special treat for you. Every year, manor Law Group hosts a conference where we do training for those in the long-term care industry. We call it the Elder Advocacy and Law Boot Camp, and this year we had a particularly interesting speaker as our keynote speaker. That got rave reviews from the attendees at our boot camp and we thought we would share it with you. So today you're going to hear from Reverend Joe Krupp in a conversation about finding joy in caregiving.

Attorney Bob Mannor:

We decided to invite Reverend Joe Krupp to speak today even though he was the chaplain for the Michigan State football team, so I really had to second guess it a few times. But so Joe has developed quite a following over the years and it's strictly from his magnetic personality and attitude. It's something that I think you'll see. He's a great speaker to have right after lunch. I think he'll keep us awake And, you know, he's just really a very thought-provoking man And that is something.

Attorney Bob Mannor:

So when my father was in his last couple of years he had been a very devout man going to church and just did not feel comfortable And so he was able to watch. I think that Joe's been doing online information, online presentations, longer than COVID. You know they were well-suited because they were up and running and I know you got a great staff up and running within days after the shutdown to make sure that he was able to get out to families. And I remember he would walk through the streets, parade through the streets of Grand Blank, which was amazing because people couldn't get to church but they would come out to their driveways And they'd have, you know, receive a blessing from Father Joe.

Attorney Bob Mannor:

Father was, you know, just parading through the neighborhoods and picking neighborhood, and then his online presence, i think, grew tremendously during COVID where people just really from all over the place started watching. And it kind of tells you the story when my dad, when we encouraged him to start watching Father Joe and my dad was kind of a man of few words but he was saying he's a very deep thinker And I thought you know of all the things that they would describe Father Joe I'm not sure too many people use that term. They usually say he's funny, he's entertaining, he's all those things, but when it really comes down to it, it is. There's a lot of deepness to what he has to say, and so, even though he seems to like Michigan State for some reason, we're going to have Father Joe come up and I think you're going to find this to be very helpful in educational and entertaining.

Father Joseph Krupp:

Just one, two, three, yeah, all right, hi everybody. When Bob came over and I found out it was a Wolverine, i had to show him our my five big 10 championship rings, because I knew he hadn't seen one of those. So, anyway, so, as you heard, joe Krupp, i work right near here now at Holy Family in Grand Blank in St Mark in Goodrich And, like he said, about two months before we went into quarantine, we had been setting up a way for all of our people who are in nursing homes to be able to pray with us. So we had a volunteer for every nursing home And I counted there's 8 million in Grand Blank alone And we got an iPad for each and we had someone assigned. So, on Sunday, go to the nursing home, dial into the mass and we can all be together. And that's what we were set up for. And then the quarantine hit And I started getting panicked messages from people who weren't even associated with the church that just, they were alone And they had plugged into the fear and anger machine And things weren't going well. And so we said we, just, i literally started walking through streets, had a sign, i'll talk to anybody, And it worked.

Father Joseph Krupp:

It was really an amazing couple years of just door to door, even step ladders. I took a step ladder with me for people on the second floor. I had a bullhorn. In fact, right when I was driving here I came up by a circuitous route So I wanted to get my head together And I passed a house where this guy he said my wife has dementia. It's awful. We've been here a year and four months and no one's come, no one's. I'm on my way, right, oh, and it was his wife's birthday. So I called a ton of people and I said we're going to meet at this address and we're going to sing happy birthday. And so I brought a bullhorn and we went in his yard and just started singing happy birthday And he carried. He was 70 years old, he carried his bride to the door. She couldn't walk anymore And there's a million of those kinds of things of you know, keep the distance or whatever. But okay, six feet then then six feet, not six feet, one inch, right, six feet. And yeah, god's good. Anyway.

Father Joseph Krupp:

So I grew up on the other side of Flint, over here Beecher Montrose, depending on what year it was, and my, i'm the youngest of an obscene amount of children. We were a voting block. You're welcome, and I decided early on I was going to go into acting and television and after I graduated from college I worked for Fox the Fox, what do you call it, was Channel 66 back then here in Flint. They were just starting and I was a script writer for sitcoms and I did that for about a year And then after a year I quite literally just abandoned everything and went into seminary And it takes a while to make a priest, but I was ordained a priest Catholic priest what June of 98. And I've been doing it ever since. Part of that I served at MSU where Jesus went to school It's in the Bible, don't look it up But worked there with coach Dantonio, who is just an incredible human being, and then I guest lectured in their history department. I've got a bunch of degrees in history and all kinds of and philosophy, so I plugged those in wherever I could.

Father Joseph Krupp:

What I want to tell you is some things I've learned, and my story on this topic of Alzheimer's and dementia started in 2012. So we're going to talk for a second about my mom. She was born in 1936, the youngest of 14 kids, and this is why I'm celibate. God's trying to chill out the gene pool. You know what I mean. It's like easy, you know. But I always tell people when they're like why don't priests get rid of them? Look at this face. Do you want more of it? Really? I mean let's, but oh, i don't need that mic, do I? I'm not bright, but she was born 1936 on a farm in Maple Grove. Does anyone know Maple Grove? No, yes, my lady. It's a city, so there were 14 of them. That was Maple Grove And she was her dad. My grandpa said she was different from day one. She was officially smart And back then such a thing wasn't too common.

Father Joseph Krupp:

She went to college and she really went after it And what I knew and I didn't figure it out because I knew everything for most of my life. But then this part started where I'm like other people know things too. This is so weird, but when I was about 17, my mom was going over to Rome with my dad and she was giving a talk And when she got back there was this picture of her and it was from the back, and in front of her are about 40 cardinals of the Roman church and Pope John Paul II, and she had one finger up and I could tell by that body position somebody was getting there. Yeah, we always said getting their back march painted red. And I looked at the faces of these important-ish people and I was like that's my mom And I started to pay more attention And I knew this from when I was a kid. But I thought all moms did this. You know your mom.

Father Joseph Krupp:

She would sit every night with a book on each leg and a highlighter in each hand and she'd read two books and she would highlight them And you could say to her 10 years later, such and such book, page 15, she'd tell you she just had a scary, scary brain. It was really cool. North Flint really collapsed right. When I was a boy And what I knew is about once a month our priest, his car would pull up and there would be kids in that car And dad would go out and talk to father on the table and kids would move in our house. Right And this. Now, we weren't rich but we had a farm So we always had food. Yeah, and in the end we counted 38 kids that my mom and dad took in in about a 20 year period of their life, besides the 12, they already had. We were packed in that house, but they just kept doing it.

Father Joseph Krupp:

When kids from Mexico moved in, mom learned Spanish, because who wouldn't right When kids from Brazil she had took in three kids from Brazil. When she was 70, she learned Portuguese. God can't speak Portuguese, all right. She learned this at 70. This was who she is, and I remember something going haywire when she called me. We had a conversation. We hung up the phone and she called immediately and we had the same conversation And at first I thought she was hilarious. I thought, oh, she's screwing with me, you know, and I just I don't know. Moved on And then sisters and brothers all started talking and we were realizing something's going really wrong with mom, and so we went to the doctor and he said she has dementia and it's going to get really bad.

Father Joseph Krupp:

And it did. But when she found this out she said I'm asking two things. I want all my kids in one place. Can we do it? And I want it before I lose my ability to enjoy it. Two I want to die at home. Will you promise me I'll die at home? And so we agreed.

Father Joseph Krupp:

Now all of us had never been in the same location before. Never happened. I've got family that moved. I've got a brother who converted to Islam and he lives in Qatar, which is far away And, by the way, no bacon. We were like what? But anyway, we got family everywhere, and so we just started writing. We picked a date at the end of June of 2012 and we pulled it off. Yeah, 38 kids, their spouses and their kids And we threw down for two days, right, we just partied like it was 1999. Yeah, and, to quote St Prince of the third century, it was the coolest and worst two days ever. Yeah, and I was so grateful for that, and the slide was hard and fast. We took her to a neuropsychologist who said I've not seen it move this fast. And my dad went. Her brain goes fast. But so that's what we did.

Father Joseph Krupp:

Now, in terms of how many kids live in Michigan, i can't do this. Back then, there were eight of us that lived within. Well, there were eight of my siblings that lived within a half hour of mom and dad. I was assigned when you're a priest, they move you right So I was assigned two hours and 15 minutes away, and this became one of the hardest fights, as someone whose mom needed an obscene amount of help was. I was two hours and 15 minutes away and I had siblings who you could spit out the door and hit their house, but they were busy.

Father Joseph Krupp:

Now, at that time I was running three parishes in a school by myself. I was putting 40,000 miles a year on my truck doing hospital runs. I was out in the middle of nowhere so nothing was close And I started to wrestle right away with some real disappointment and anger. You know, there was one point where I drove two and a half hours to get medication and get it to mom and then hustle back And I text you how you doing. You text like crazy help, right, i'm very busy, very busy. And I went in the drugstore to pick it up and one of my sisters was right there And I looked at her and went this isn't good. That's all I could think to say, because a never fight one of my sisters write that down.

Father Joseph Krupp:

But this was the first real struggle I ran into was the idea I don't have kids, right, catholic priest or salivate, we don't marry, we don't have kids. And all my siblings have eight million kids. Again, we are prolific, yeah. And then we're like, well, you don't have kids. I'm like, well, i kind of do. I've got a school of 500 kids, i've got two parishes there are three. At that point I didn't work, didn't work And I started to really get better at them And at the same time was kind of finding joy and helping mom, cause she was the stage where she could communicate And she said some crazy stuff.

Father Joseph Krupp:

You know what I mean. Now, she was always funny, but someone took the filter off And we were kind of having a riot. There was one point where dad called and he was like please help, right, everybody else is busy, can you just come sit with her? And I got to get a shower. I'm like, yes, please do. You know? he wanted to get his hair cut, he wanted to shave, he wanted to get a shower. So I'm like I'm in, so I drive there and it's a little wiggie, as you can imagine. I'm talking to 800 people on the phone the whole way, canceling this, moving that right, cause there's there's 78 million Catholics in this country and about 22,000 priests yeah, and you take that 22,000, 60% are over 70. So we are stretched as far as we can go. I mean, you can't tell, still fat, thank you.

Father Joseph Krupp:

So I'm driving there a little bit, you know, getting a little bit freaky, you know talking to people and of course people are mad. They say take care of your mom, but they don't mean when it's gonna influence bother them. Yeah, father, we had an appointment. Yeah, see, that's why I'm calling. I knew we had one, we're gonna move it. So, anyway, i get to the house, i'm a little wigged out, i'm stressed out, i'm not, i'm irritated. So I get in and hugged dad and I'm like, yep, you need a shower. So he goes, yeah, and, by the way, this house, with all those kids, we have one shower. Right, which sweet fancy Moses. Thank God for school showers. Yeah, but he was gone at bed, right, i told him take your time, cause the tigers were on. Mom loved the tigers, so we're sitting there watching the tigers.

Father Joseph Krupp:

And two interesting things that day. One is I found out my mom was in love with JD Martinez. He would the camera every time he stepped to the plate. It would hit his face, and this is honestly. I was like, oh, should I make like mom, good Lord, woman. And two, my dad comes out and he's got clothes that are clean and he shaved, he got a haircut. He didn't smell like death And my mom. When he walked in, honest to God, she went hey, she says, who's that? I goes, mom, that guy's yours. And she just you know she felt pretty good about mom.

Father Joseph Krupp:

But that was one of those things where I realized part of the survival process for me was going to involve finding joy, like when I was driving home, i was like there's joy to be found, and it's hard to not cry now, telling you how smart she was, how sharp she was, how amazing this woman was, and now she's four-year-old, right, but finding the joy. So when I got back, i wrote down rules for survival, right? How am I gonna get through this? How will our family cowboy up and love mom like she deserves? how am I gonna do this? And that is what I'm gonna give you today, as best I can. As a. I'm a train wreck, right, just like all of us are train wrecks here.

Father Joseph Krupp:

If I talked to you about what I got down, all I would be able to tell you is how to spell my name, and on that, 80% chance I'm right. Yeah, i can never speak to you from a place of perfection. I'll speak to you, though, from what I learned, and I hope in this you hear a few things. I hope you hear my ridiculous joy that you exist. I didn't know you existed until we needed you. Yeah, i didn't know people would help outside of our family. I found about these. we knew about social workers because sometimes they'd bring kids over, right. But I thought that's what they did, right, they found kids in hell and brought them to mom and dad. I found out, no, they'll help us with mom, and sometimes the help was just acknowledging yeah, this sucks, this is awful. Yes, thank you. Right, so I don't know if you existed, but I needed you And you were there. Or people, can I say that your tribe, you were there And not because of financial gain based on the checks we wrote. Holy Lord, i'm a priest. I thought we got paid crappy, right, yeah? so first of all and I hope you don't mind this I'm a philosophy and a history teacher at heart.

Father Joseph Krupp:

I gotta tell you what I think a human is, so that this might make a little more sense at the beginning. I believe a human is a body, soul, unity. If you know your Socrates or your Plato, you've heard this. A human is a body, soul unity, and the bridge or the glue that connects the body and soul is our feelings. Okay, it's our emotions. That's the bridge from the soul to the body. That's what I think a human is, and if you're ever interested in an obscenely long and boring lecture on this, i'm your guy, okay. So one of the things, and John Paul II wrote about this right after he was with the Beatles Thank you who caught that. All right, he wrote if our feelings are the glue between the body and soul, if they're the bridge between the body and soul, then the key to being a good human is to discipline and educate what you feel.

Father Joseph Krupp:

Take every emotion to the classroom of your mind. Don't judge it, but educate it. So, rule number one for me I'm gonna act like I wish I felt. Rule number one I'm gonna act like I wish I felt. And is that counting down? Yeah, thank God. All right, i thought I already talked to that long. I'm like, oh sweet Lord, you poor people. Yeah, see, this is why I shouldn't be in charge of a sandbox. Oh, there we were. So I'll act like I wish I felt In any circumstance. You and I are fully capable of explaining how we feel, but at the same time, some part of us has to get that our emotions are not really that reliable, so we don't judge them. But I would take what I felt to the classroom of my mind and I would act instead like I wish I felt.

Father Joseph Krupp:

When I told my nephew this, it was funny. He said what about authenticity? I said authentically, i'm a jerk. Yeah, my nature is selfish. If it's not, there's something wrong with me. I'm not completely interested in authenticity. If authentic is well, act like you feel, because what is that But chaos? I can acknowledge how I feel and not judge it. Yeah, i could do that And instead say is this feeling gonna help me or is it gonna hurt me? It's gonna help me, plug in, that's gonna hurt me, pull the plug.

Father Joseph Krupp:

We grew up in the sticks and back then now, if anyone's my age or older, do you remember? if you lived in the sticks, people would drop off dogs and cats. Yeah, this was before Saint Bob Barker, right, spade and Noodle your pets. So people would get a dog, the dog would get pregnant, have puppies. We'd wake up and there'd be 10 puppies in our yard, right, and they were delicious. I'm just kidding, i'm sorry, i'm kidding. We're not delicious. No, we would. We wake up and inevitably we had this one window right by our kitchen table and I'd look and there'd be like 9,000 cats or dogs right, just looking at these fat humans eat. Yeah, and I was always that kid. It'd be a real shame if my plate fell off the table and onto the porch. And my dad always said if you feed them, they stay. So I fed them, but that wasn't as point as it turned out.

Father Joseph Krupp:

And it's the same with our emotions that if we can acknowledge that emotions not gonna help me to do the thing I need to do, well then I'm not gonna feed it. It'll just get stronger. You know how we talk about venting with each other, right, which is the Latin word for gossip. Has it ever made anything better Or has it only strengthened our irritation with whatever caused us to vent? If it's about another person, about circumstance, then away. But when we complain about people, we'll get good at complaining about people And we'll look for ways for that to get reaffirmed.

Father Joseph Krupp:

Yeah, so in the end, when I'd get out of the truck to walk in the house and I'll be honest, i would cry the last hour trip And I would cry the last two hours going home. 15 minutes I was awesome, you know. But when I walked in, hey Pop, yeah, i'm here. You know that's what I had to do. I didn't want to, but I would rather act like I fell. But he didn't need my feelings. He needed my commitment. He needed my love And my love can't be a feeling that it'll fall apart.

Father Joseph Krupp:

Week two I was really challenged. I mean, i put it on a sticky on my dashboard Act like you wish you felt. So that was my rule number one. Act like I wish I felt, with some measure of success. Yeah, try to think of it like baseball. I'm a big baseball guy, love baseball And I'm a Tiger fan. I know suffering. Yeah, but you know, if you get up to the plate in seven out of 10 times you fail, you're one of the best who's ever played the game. Think about that. If you get up and strike out or get out seven out of 10 times consistently, you're one of the best to ever hit. And in the same way, when we set the standard, when I set this standard for myself, i failed miserably sometimes. Sometimes I fricking crushed it, but I never gave up striving. I never gave up striving. I'm gonna be the best human I can. Number two, and I loved that you had on there.

Father Joseph Krupp:

What is it? counseling with compassion and joy, yeah, because joy is a favorite word of mine. And why? Because it's not a feeling. The feeling is happy. Joy is a conviction And it has nothing to do with our circumstances. In fact, the word happy, if you don't know this, if you know your Latin, comes from the Latin word hap, which means circumstance. It's where we get the word happen or happen stance. It comes from the Latin hap meaning situation, circumstance. Namely, you win lottery, you're happy, yeah, and if you're not, you're doing it wrong, yeah. When our circumstances are easier, good, happy, yeah. Joy has nothing to do with that.

Father Joseph Krupp:

Joy proceeds from a conviction, and I have a conviction that being a good human will make my life better, that honoring my mom is the right thing to do, no matter how hard it is, and that allowed me a foundation. And again, i lost it sometimes. Sometimes I wasn't joyful, i forgot my conviction and I focused on my circumstance. Joy is a thing that you can grab now and hold on to for the rest of your life, Because, again, circumstances come and go, but what's inside of you that compels you, what are you ultimately striving for? That's the key that will keep you moving. You know I worked with football at MSU for years If they quit lifting when they got tired, they wouldn't get stronger. They aren't weightlifting and running and literally working till they puke because it makes them happy. They're doing it.

Father Joseph Krupp:

Say of this conviction I need to be stronger, i need to be faster, i need to be better, because this is important to me. You can tell it's not important to me. It used to be. That was funny. Have a conviction about you. Have a conviction and let that serve as a foundation that informs your actions and how you talk. If it's based on a feeling, you're gonna struggle. Some days you'll be high as a kite, but most days you'll be sad Because and I don't know if you believe this and you don't need to I don't think I'm made for me. I don't.

Father Joseph Krupp:

One of my brothers and I can say this about any job right, there's a billion of us but one of my brothers worked in the oil industry. Right, he worked for Shell Oil, and when I went to see him I was in eighth grade, and so dad's taking me to an oil refinery And if you're a farm kid, it's like oh you know, huge machines, lots of noise, tons of stank, you know, and you're walking around. It's like this, is like home, thank you. What was the biggest part of the oil refinery? Do you know? export Right, you don't make enough oil, refine enough oil to keep the plant running. You're making it to export. And it's the same, i believe, for every human. We are made to be shared. I don't exist for me. If I exist for me, i become one of those people no one wants to be around. If I exist for others, then my life has a purpose beyond me And I believe that.

Attorney Bob Mannor:

All right. so this concludes part one with Father Joe Krupp, and we'll come back next week to watch the second half. Thanks for listening. To learn more, visit mannorlawgroup. com.

Joyful Caregiving With Reverend Krupp
Caring for a Parent With Alzheimer's/Dementia
Discipline and Educate Your Feelings
Purpose in Serving Others

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