As a caregiver, you are keenly aware of your family member’s patterns and their health. One thing you are always watching for are signals that they are experiencing memory loss. Caregivers Connection has some helpful tools for you. Continue reading
As a caregiver, you’ve more than likely heard: ‘take care of yourself’, ‘your health is important to your loved one’, and other thoughtful words along that line. The problem is, many shrug it off thinking, ‘I don’t have the time to take care of myself’. The truth is, it’s important to take care of yourself. Here are five steps to help you avoid caregiver burnout. Continue reading
As a caregiver, you may not believe it, but you truly are among a group of unsung heroes. The number of caregivers is about 34 million strong, and growing. November is National Caregivers Month. Caregivers Connection wants to honor you. Continue reading
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. Labor Day also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events. Continue reading
Use it or lose it. This is the word from doctors recently when talking to senior citizens about their bodies. The good news is, seniors needn’t think they have to sign up for 10K races, high-impact aerobics, or heavy weight training. Instead, walking benefits them by keeping them physically strong and agile. Adding a simple 35-minute walk a day is all it takes.
According to Dr. Michael Pratt, the acting chief for the Physical Activity and Heath Branch in the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, walking is a tremendously good activity for senior citizens. It’s cheap, simple, and almost anybody can do it. Walking has a number of health benefits for everyone. For seniors especially, it helps them maintain mobility and their independence.
Five benefits of walking:
1) Improves circulation: Women who walked 30 minutes a day reduced their risk of stroke by 20 percent – by 40 percent when they stepped up the pace, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
2) Strengthens your bones: It can stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis, according to Michael A. Schwartz, MD, of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York.
3) It supports your joints: Since our joints don’t get any blood supply, they rely on synovial or joint fluid that circulates as we move, which carries oxygen to them. Without walking, joints are deprived of life-giving fluid, which can speed deterioration.
4) It lightens the mood: Walking releases natural painkilling endorphins to the body – this is just one of the emotional benefits of exercise.
5) It helps you do more, longer. Since walking helps circulation, keeps the bones strong and healthy, and lightens your mood, the body stays healthy longer, increasing the ability to be more active as we age.
With that being said, when is a good time to start a walking program? Now! Perhaps they can’t begin with 30 minutes, however, they can start somewhere. Walking benefits the body in so many ways, so go out and enjoy your walk. Even when the weather isn’t the greatest, lacing up your shoes and heading to a mall is a perfect way to keep moving.
We have all heard these quotes about having a
positive outlook on life.
“Look on the sunny side of life.”
“Turn your face toward the sun, and the shadows will fall behind you.”
“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”
“See the glass as half-full, not half-empty.”
These quotes, and more like them, are often heard from folks that are called ‘cockeyed optimists’. However, researchers are finding that thoughts like these can do far more than raise one’s spirits. They may improve health and extend life.
Accordingly, there is no longer any doubt that what happens in our brain does influence what happens in the body. Studies show an indisputable link between having a positive outlook and health benefits like lower blood pressure, healthier blood sugar levels, better weight control, and less heart disease. Even when faced with an incurable disease, a positive outlook can change ones’ quality of life.
Dr Wendy Schlessel Harpham, an author of several books for people facing cancer, including Happiness in a Storm, was a practicing internist when she learned she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, 27 years ago. “Fostering positive emotions helped make my life the best it could be,” Harpham said. “They made the tough times easier, even though they didn’t make any difference in my cancer cells.”
New research is demonstrating that people can learn skills that help them experience more positive emotions when faced with the severe stress of a life-threatening illness.
Here are eight ways to have a positive outlook on life, and improve your overall health
- Recognize a positive event each day.
- Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
- Start a daily gratitude journal.
- List a personal strength and note how you used it.
- Set an attainable goal and note your progress.
- Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to refocus on the event positively.
- Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.
- Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.
Even if you practice only a few of these, you are sure to end the day on a happier note.
Being a caregiver to a loved one who has a chronic medical condition is never an easy task. Though it has its rewards, the everyday challenges can easily build up, and become increasingly stressful. Even the most resilient person can succumb to the overwhelming burden of the duties of caregiving.
Caregiving offers many rewards, and simply being there for someone in need is a core value. Being called upon repeatedly fosters extra pressure, and can drag you down. With your own busy schedule, work, children, a spouse, you already have enough to balance when adding in the care of someone else. You may find yourself wondering where do I find time for myself?
Here are some tips that can help save time and reduce stress.
When dealing with medical issues, tackle the small ones first. Call and confirm doctor appointments and make sure (if necessary) that any test results are in, so as to avoid two trips out.
Use respite care, neighbors or other family members to allow yourself time for just you.
Find ways to reduce your stress and give yourself much needed self-love.
If you find you can’t get away, make yourself a cup of tea, and read a book, even if it’s for a simple twenty minutes. Being able to allow your body to simply rest goes a long way towards helping you feel better.
With the help of others, take the time to go for a walk in the park, or to your favorite coffee shop, the library, ways that you can clear your mind of the daily tasks at hand.
Make a list. When someone else asks, how can we help, having a tangible list goes far. Simple things like picking up prescriptions,
stopping at the store for the items you forgot, or taking a load or two of laundry and preparing a meal goes a long way in giving yourself a break from that simple chore.
It’s smart to be alert to compounded stressors that can lead to a breakdown in your own health, and lead to caregiver distress. Here are some signs that you need some relief:
- If you find yourself becoming agitated with your loved one
- Simple things that used to bring you pleasure, no longer do so.
- Over anxious thoughts and feelings
- Beginning to feel depressed
As a caregiver, it’s important to make sure your health is optimal. It’s important to know the warning signs, and seek help. Your loved one is counting on you. Taking time for self-care is as important for them as it is for you.
The American Heart Association wants to help everyone live longer, healthier lives so they can enjoy all of life’s precious moments. And we know that starts with taking care of your health. American Heart Month, a federally designated event, is a great way to remind Americans to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their families, friends and communities involved. Together, we can build a culture where making the healthy choice is the easy choice. Why? Because Life is Why.
African American men, primarily those who live in the southeast region of the U.S., are at the highest risk for heart disease.
However, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and for women. Americans of all backgrounds can be at risk to suffer from heart disease and stroke.
With February being the month of Valentine’s Day, what better way to show your loved ones how much you care for them by taking care of your heart?
If you live alone, or you have a family member that lives alone, one of the best ways to give yourself peace of mind would be to invest in a Medical Alert System from Lifefone. With just a push of a button, you or your loved one, can have emergency help at the door within minutes. Detecting and getting immediate help is the best way to lessen the impact of a heart attack or stroke has on your system.
Other ways to minimize your risk of heart disease is regular exercise. No matter what your stage of life, exercise keeps your blood flowing, keeps it oxygenated, and keeps the heart pumping. Whether you can get out and walk, ride a bike, lift weights, canoe, hike, or, if you are home bound, movement of any kind will help reduce your risk of heart-related disease.
If you are a smoker, today is the best day to quit. Talk to your doctor about getting help with that. Not only is it good for your heart, it’s good for your lungs and your brain.
Keep regularly scheduled doctors’ appointments, especially if you have any heart issues, and take your medications if you are on them.
Along with all the above, eating healthy is preventative medicine. Choose fresh vegetables over salty snacks. Choose fish over red meat a couple of times a week. Oatmeal over cold cereal. Small changes can have a big impact.
February – heart month all the way around, keep yours healthy.
The biggest problem with exercise and starting on a fitness or health regimen is that it takes commitment. While you may be committed to establishing a healthy life-style by eating healthier or beginning an exercise program, there always seems to be something that gets in the way, and you just don’t make it happen.
Something always comes up. The party that you went to last weekend de-rails the better food options. It doesn’t have to, but it does. The walk you were going to go on at the park was sidelined because it snowed. Your aunt called, and needed a ride to the grocery store, as you were lacing up your sneakers. Life got in the way.
Sadly, in today’s economy, sometimes making healthier food options can come down to the wallet. Eating a healthier diet is more expensive in the short term, but, the overall health benefits has the potential of cutting down on medical expenses.
Shopping at a local fruit stand in the summer months and watching for sales at your local grocer can help you find healthier eating options. Planning your meals and pre-cooking them is also a great help. For instance, you can get a pound of Brussel sprouts, a sweet potato or two, a couple of carrots, and roast them all at the same time. That way you have a nice variety of vegetables that are already prepared and ready to toss into a salad, have with your evening meal, or even add to an egg for breakfast.
Exercise is another place where we can make excuses, but it doesn’t have to be that way. A one mile walk takes less than a half-hour, yet helps to control your blood pressure, builds strength, and boosts your moods.
While it’s easy to come up with reasons to allow ‘life’ to get in the way of good health, it is equally as easy, but takes effort to build a healthy lifestyle to good health.
If you provide care for an elderly or ill loved one, you know it is a daunting and sometimes lonely task. This is especially true for caregivers who have no family support. When you add in caring for your family, holding down a job and also taking care of your aging parents, you can easily see how stressful life could become. With the holidays fast approaching, the stress and chaos can become even more pronounced.
Individuals who aren’t involved in a caregiver role may offer to help out, but they can’t truly understand the depths of what you’re involved in. Finding a support group and interacting with other caregivers gives you an opportunity to share frustrations and joys. A caregiver support group can also help you uncover ways to deal with stress, guilt and may even offer insight on various resources to make your caregiving role easier.
The benefits of a support group
Finding and joining a support group benefits you because you need to know you’re not “alone.” You need to understand that the feelings and stress you’re under is real. Those in your support group may have a “been there, done that” attitude and can help you navigate thru the various challenges you may face.
Many caregivers find they are thrust into the role without much preparation; that makes it even more daunting. When you run into financial issues, medical care questions and legal issues you can run it by the members in your group.
You may even find that your support group might offer a form of group exercise – crucial to relieving stress and helping relax you.
How can you find the right group?
To begin your search for a group, ask at your church or religious organization, ask your doctor or your parents’ doctor, do an online search or ask at a nursing home for recommendations. Look for a group that is led by someone who has experience in the caregiver role.
You may also want to find a group that has been in existence for a while and has a good reputation. As with any type of group, you might just need to try out a couple until you find one that is a good fit.
A caregiver support group should be a safe space in which you can connect with others, vent your frustrations and ask for advice.