Category Archives: Caregiver Resources

Six Medication Safety Tips

At Caregivers Connection, we are aware that one of your greatest concerns is the safety of your loved one.  Whether or not they are properly taking their medication is probably high on the list of things you think about when you are not with them.  Here’s six medication safety tips that are easy for you, and them, to follow. Continue reading

Four Signs To Gauge Your Loved Ones’ Health Post-Holidays

The Holidays are behind us. It’s time to take a breath, and look forward to the new year.  As a caregiver, not only do you think about your health, but also the health of your loved one for whose care you are responsible.  As is often the case, the holiday season takes a toll on our health.  It can also take a toll on the health of those in your care.  You may be wondering; how do I gauge their health? Caregivers Connection has four signs to gauge your loved ones’ health. Continue reading

Four Tips To Increase Mobility

As your loved one ages, it’s common for them to experience a loss of mobility. When they’ve spent their entire lives unaided, learning to walk with a walker, cane or even using a wheelchair is a struggle. As a caregiver, it may be hard to know how to help them. At Caregivers Connection, we would like to offer four tips that can encourage them to increase their mobility. Continue reading

Three Steps To Combine Caregiving And Exercise

If you are a caregiver of a family member, you are among some of the busiest people around. Perhaps you provide care for a disabled relative or an older adult by spending hours making sure your loved one is safe and well cared for. You often are juggling work and other family responsibilities. Finding time to spend on your own needs is a scarce commodity. Finding the time to exercise may seem like something you can’t do right now, but, caregiving and exercise can be done at the same time.

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Everyday Household Health Dangers

Not to be alarmist, but there are dangers that lurk in your household that you aren’t even likely aware of – we weren’t! Consider this: you watch what you eat, you drink filtered water, you are diligent in the use of your seatbelt and you exercise daily.

Here are a few items that you probably have in your house that you may want to rethink:

  1. A pizza box. Because many of these boxes are greaseproof, they may contain PFCs. pizza boxPerfluorinated compounds have been associated with adverse health impacts such as thyroid, obesity, cancer and high cholesterol. PFCs are also found in carpet cleaning compounds, many take-out boxes and furniture. Toss that pizza box into the outside trash.
  2. Scented candles will help you unwind and de-stress, but some of those candles contain unhealthy chemical compounds. If you find your eyes and throat are irritated it could be because of the compounds in the candles. The mere fact of burning a candle can also lead to particle pollution in your home.
  3. Many items from the “dollar stores” come in packaging that has questionable chemicals including phthalates, lead or polyvinyl chloride plastics. If you purchase items from there, remove the packaging, toss it out into an outside garbage container and thoroughly wash your hands. Children are most at risk from illness from these chemicals.
  4. Antibacterial soaps sound like a good idea. The risks associated with using these soaps too frequently means that your body will have a harder time fighting off bacteria because your body may develop an increased antimicrobial resistance. Additionally, if the antibacterial soap contains triclocarban it can lead to unwanted hormonal implications as they can impact your thyroid.

Being aware of what is in your home can help you lead a healthier, happier life! If you care for an elderly person, it may be wise to look through their cupboards and junk drawers to be sure they aren’t saving things that could be causing them health issues!

Selling Your House The Right Way!

Over the course of our lives we build and establish important relationships … first as children, then with spouses and our own children, our pets and our friends.  We also build relationships with things … our cars, our homes, our hobbies.  All combine to make our life rich and fulfilling.Selling Your Home

But life changes and as it does, we find ourselves saying goodbye to some of the “things” we value … like our homes.  The reasons are many.  We are upgrading and moving to a larger nicer home.  We are downsizing because the kids have left the nest.  We are moving for a new job.  At any rate, we say goodbye to “our home” filled with memories and move on.  Sounds easy.  But wait a minute.  There are both “easy” and more “challenging” aspects to getting ready to sell your home.  Let’s tackle some of the easy ones first.

For the most part, it is EASY to do the physical prep to attract buyers.

  • Curb appeal is very important.  Many of us, even when we are not looking to buy, have driven by a home and commented on how great it looks.  Meaning, if I WERE looking, this place grabs my attention.  Much of curb appeal is easy.  Make sure that the grass is mowed or the snow is shoveled.  Plant flowers to add warmth.  Make sure that shrubbery is trimmed and touch up trim paint if it is chipped.  Front doors should be inviting and draw your attention.  First impressions matter.
  • Once inside, prospective buyers tend to be nosey!  After all, you are not there and they want to see what the inside of the cupboards look like.  Does this bathroom make me want to soak with a candle and relax because it is clean and inviting?   Are the towels and linens fresh and unused? To that end, you should clean out cupboards and make sure everything is organized and not overly full.  Crowded closets and cabinets give the impression that there isn’t enough storage.  You may need to get a rental storage unit to de-clutter the house.
  • Make the house shine!  It is a bit unsettling to know that there might be a “showing” at any moment and so you have to live ready for that expectation.  Dirty floors and windows are a turn off.  Your refrigerator, microwave, oven and dishwasher will be opened.  I promise.   And look at ceiling fans.  They are notorious dust catchers and send a bad signal if they are not spotless.
  • In making the house shine, re-evaluate placement of furniture.  What worked well for you functionally may not give the best impression of the room.  Re-arranging and removing some furniture can make the home look and feel bigger.  A “big” home is worth more money and seems more livable.
  • Remember we suggested that once you put your house on the market, that it no longer belongs to you?  All those family pictures and personal belongings will look great in your NEW home but are distracting when you want to sell.  People need to see your HOME … not your stuff.  Remember that storage unit you are renting?

These are all relatively easy.  But there are some CHALLENGING things to getting your home ready to sell as well.

  • Homebuyers take deep looks at potential property they own and often hire a professional inspector to take that look.   Take a look at your heating and air conditioning systems and make sure they are in prime near perfect condition.  They should be serviced professionally and in some cases replaced.  Though you probably do not want to spend that money, you will do so one way or another … either in a reduced selling price or in fixing it first.  Your attention to detail … including the big things will pay off.  Talk to a professional.
  • Check your basement … check your roof … check your driveway.  The more you can do to have perfection, the better.  Remember, each day on the market is just costing you money.
  • And the final one may just be the hardest!   You have utilized professionals to help you get the home ready and now … for some of you, is the most difficult task.  Say goodbye to your home.  Let it go long before it actually sells whether you have something forward to look to or not.

We have a relationship with our home … sometimes love, sometimes hate.  But it IS a relationship.  And relationships matter.

Spring Allergies

Spring is a welcome relief from the long, cold winter, but for about one in five people, budding flowers and trees bring their seasonal pollen allergies into full swing causing all types of discomfort. Symptoms can be cold-like, including itchiness in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes and ears, along with watery eyes, runny nose, congestion and sneezing. Allergies can also trigger asthma, restricting airways and making breathing more difficult. And even if you don’t have symptoms now, new allergies can be acquired at any age.Spring Allergies

Allergy symptoms for older adults can pose additional challenges. Those with chronic conditions such as cardiopulmonary disorders are at increased risk of serious complications during allergy season. Over-the-counter medications that people have taken for years may cause side effects as they age, including reactions with other medications. Seniors may ignore their allergies or try to self-medicate. Neither option is advisable. These symptoms need to be discussed with a physician.

LifeFone can help. The emergency profile we keep for each subscriber is used to relay vital information to emergency responders when needed, including medical conditions, medication, emergency contacts, physician, and preferred hospital.

If you’re a LifeFone medical alert system subscriber, you can update your profile using the LifeFone Caregiver Portal. You can make this update directly online or call us at 1 800-940-0262.

Did You Know There Are Foods That Make You Hungrier?

Have you had that moment when you feel hunger pangs but look at the clock and realize you’d finished a meal not too long ago? If you’re wondering why you’re hungry not too long after a meal, many times it’s because the food you’re eating can leave you hungrier than you were before! It’s true.Salty Pretzels

Here are some of the foods that will leave you hungrier sooner:

  1. Salty snacks like pretzels and potato chips satisfy a craving for salt, but in truth the salt is an “addictive” additive that can lead to overeating and weight gain. Salted foods also won’t satiate you and will leave you hungrier than you were before you started! If it’s difficult to eat the recommended serving size of a salted snack, it might be best to keep them out of the house. If you’re craving a salty snack pair it with protein – a hard-boiled egg, for example to help satiate you.
  2. Artificial sweeteners have the same impact on your blood sugar and your hunger pangs as salt. It’s been shown that artificial sweeteners can increase your appetite. Consider this: real sugar is registered in the brain as a “reward” while artificial sweeteners don’t register that “reward” leaving you craving for sweets.
  3. White breads, pasta and rice are made from refined flours and that means you need to eat more in order to feel full. These foods can also cause a spike in your blood sugar because the carbohydrates are converted to sugar – this is problematic for diabetics. If you’re craving bread or pasta, eat whole grain bread, brown rice or combine your refined flours with protein to help fill you up and keep you fuller longer.
  4. Alcohol is very calorie dense, but lacks nutrition. Alcohol can also lead to mindless snacking. If you’re drinking, don’t drink on an empty stomach.
  5. Processed foods such as potato chips, cakes and pizza are delicious, but are typically made from refined flour and that raises your blood sugar. Processed foods also activate the “reward centers” of our brains and sends us a message of, “wow, that was great, I want more” and it triggers cravings. Stick with nuts and carrots instead of processed foods.

We know that the job of caregiving can affect your eating habits. If you’re aware of your cravings, when they strike and what you are really hungry for, chances are you can choose a healthier alternative. Stop and think about whether you’re craving salt or sweet or something crunchy or cold or hot or creamy and then find a healthy alternative to potato chips or cake; choose nuts or a bite of dark chocolate.

Seven Steps To Preparing For Being A Caregiver

For some, the role of caregiver for an ailing or aging parent is one that has been planned for. For others, being thrust into the role of caregiver, in many cases while still raising your own family and holding down a full time job, is not one for which you’re prepared.

Feeling overwhelmed, underprepared and even unappreciated are emotions many caregivers go through. You may feel guilt, anger, frustration, sadness and anxiety, but these feelings are natural. Along with the negative feelings that may ebb and flow during the course of caring for aging loved ones you will also experience gifts that come with that role including, compassion, courage, forgiveness and a sense of understanding and fulfillment.

Whether you’re trained in the area of health care or if this is your first experience caring for an aging or infirm relative, there are some steps you can take to familiarize yourself with what lies ahead and what you can do to navigate the changing family dynamics.

Below are some tips to help you as you move into your new role:

  1. Before you can begin helping your aging loved ones you need a baseline of information on what they need, how you can help, what signs and symptoms to look for. Ask their doctor if he’s seen changes in their health or behavior and what you should expect. Ask him to review the medications list and frequency the medications should be taken, it’s best to compare this list with the medications you have found in your parent’s home to make certain they are taking the correct medications.
  2. If your parents haven’t seen a doctor recently, make an appointment for a comprehensive check-up. There could be underlying medical conditions that could be easily addressed which could make it possible for them to age in place and which may make your role of caregiver an easier one. Also, ask the doctor at the visit whether he feels your parents are able to remain living independently. Keep in mind that if they are borderline with needing in home care or moving to an assisted living facility, simply equipping the home with a medical monitoring device and them with a medical alert pendant you may be able to extend the time they can remain in their own home.
  3. What exactly do your loved ones need? Are they keeping up with personal hygiene as in bathing and getting dressed for the day? Are they taking their medications as prescribed? Do you notice any signs that may be alarming; such as forgetting to turn off the stove when they’re done cooking? Are they able to keep up with light housework and cooking? Do they need help paying the bills or doing heavier outside yard work? If they are overwhelmed with cooking meals and are perhaps not eating as healthy as they should be? If that’s the case look into a Meals-on-Wheels program or prepare meals for them and deliver them throughout the week. Knowing what your parents need will help gauge the level of involvement.
  4. Involve your family members in the role of caregiver. Ask for help with items you simply      cannot take on. Look into county-offered services for the aging. Make notes and keep a folder of information available for all family members on any signs of deterioration in your loved ones. Put all medical information and prescription information in that folder as well.
  5. Prepare for any eventuality. In the event your parents reach the point when they can no      longer live alone, what will the options be for their living arrangements? Will they move in with a family member? Do they need to explore assisted living or nursing home arrangements? Begin researching these options now as you don’t want to have to make decisions in the event of an emergency and be faced with an untenable situation. Be sure to involve your loved ones in the conversations and ask what their feelings are on where they may eventually be living. Preparing could also mean looking into hiring a part time home healthcare aide or a nursing service to come in and check on their mental and physical health on occasion.
  6. Undertake a financial check-up and review legal documents. While your parents may be hesitant to share bank account or credit card information, impress upon them that      sharing that information can help with long term care planning needs. If you, and other family members, have an understanding of their financial situation you will be better able to navigate the roads that lie ahead. You will also want to ask if your parents have a will. Where they keep their life insurance and medical insurance papers. Who do they want to designate as a healthcare proxy or power of attorney? This information needs to be decided upon prior to deterioration in mental or physical health as you don’t want to be making decisions under duress.
  7. Safety proof the home. If your parents are determined to age in place, then your role as caregiver could mean doing a safety check up of the home to make certain it is safe. Mobility issues plague many seniors and removing trip and fall hazards, making sure there are clear walkways and that the rugs are non skid and are securely in place can go a long way in keeping trip and fall incidents to a minimum. Make certain smoke alarms are installed and working. Check that hallways and rooms have proper lighting and consider installing motion activated lights. Check the water temperatures to make sure that hot water isn’t going to scald them. Make certain they have access to adequate healthy foods and that they are, in fact, eating the food you’ve shopped for or prepared. Post a list of emergency phone numbers by the telephone and in other locations around the house where they can easily access them. Keep in mind, though that in the event of a medical emergency or a trip or fall accident they may not be able to reach the telephone and may be in too much pain or unable to dial the telephone – this again, is a reason to give them access to a medical alert pendant. At the push of a button emergency medical personnel are summoned and your parents will have access to an experienced call center representative from LifeFone who will stay with them until help arrives. LifeFone representatives will also call family and doctors to alert them.

Caregivers sometimes find themselves toiling in isolation. It may make sense to interact with other caregivers, ask them how they address particular situations and just simply talk with someone who understands what you’re going through. Being a caregiver for your parents, is one that may be fraught with tension but it can also be a time to reconnect and build new memories that will carry over for a lifetime.