Tag Archives: caregiver stress

Five Tips To Avoid Caregiver Burnout

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

Have A Stress-free Holiday Season

OverwhelmedCaregiving is stressful. Of that there is no denying and when you add the holiday hustle and bustle into the mix, you have the potential to amp up the stress and reduce the joy you should be experiencing this holiday season. When you take a step back and think about it, the holidays are about friends and family and being together; it’s not about perfection and a clean house!

Here are some tips that you can take to heart to help make certain your holiday is enjoyable and as stress-free as it can be:

  • The holidays are not about perfection: the perfect tree, the perfect meal, the perfectly cleaned home. Keep your decorations low-key, you don’t have to outdo the neighbors with your light display. Decorate with items that have particular meaning to you and your family without going overboard with totes and totes of decorations that need to be unpacked and then re-packed once the holiday has passed.
  • If you’re being invited to visit friends or relatives and there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day – with work, caring for aging relatives and your own family – don’t be afraid to set limits. “We would love to come and visit, but can only stay a couple of hours.” Set the expectations up front and stick to your time frame.
  • You don’t have to do it alone. Would your family disown you if you purchased a pie or two rather than making them? Could you get away with bakery cookies? Try it and see how many hours you could free up from not spending all of your time in the kitchen. If you simply can’t give up that part of your family tradition, then start a new tradition and ask for help. Also, don’t be afraid to delegate. If you need to, hire a housecleaning service to come in and do a deep clean on your home before the relatives arrive. Ask guests to bring a dish to pass – start a new tradition by adding your guests’ favorite dishes to your menu!
  • If someone asks you what you’d like for a gift, don’t say, “Oh, I don’t know or I don’t need anything.” Let them treat you if they want to! Ask for a gift certificate for a massage or a restaurant or tickets to a movie or a play you’d been dying to see. Ask them to pay for a trip to your favorite spa or salon!
  • Take time to share family stories. If you’re gathering family stories, make sure someone is recording them – either digitally or on paper – and take photos so you can capture the memories shared and have them as a physical token of your time together.
  • When you send your greeting cards, include a note that reads, “Mom and Dad are doing XYZ… it’s been a great, or a trying year, but we are moving forward.” Keep the note non-accusatory and you just might garner assistance from distant relatives who truly may not know what you’re doing as a caregiver.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no.” If you truly don’t have the energy to attend another party or make another of your “famous pumpkin pies” then say so. Don’t make excuses, simply say you don’t have time and leave it at that, but thank them for having asked you.
  • Take time to count your blessings. Yes, the role of caregiver can be an exhausting one, but there are rewards. You are spending quality time with your aging loved ones. You are providing them with love and support and helping them to age in place. Even if they are in an assisted living or a nursing home environment, you will still likely be called upon or feel compelled to visit regularly and that can be a strain as well. Make the time you spend there quality time talking, playing games and sharing memories.
  • Ask siblings or other relatives to help chip in for a Medical Alert System. The peace of mind in knowing that your relatives will have immediate access to a trained professional from  if they suffer a medical emergency or a fall while you are not in attendance may allow you to regain some freedom without having the worry of them being alone.

Take time, amidst the rush of the season to care for yourself and to sit back and simply relax!

 

 

Web Technologies Make Being Away From Elderly Loved One Easier For The Caregiver

If you become a caregiver to an aging parent or relative you will find that one of the most difficult parts of that role is trying to keep up with everything – your own personal life and the needs of your loved ones. This can be made even more difficult if you are involved in a long distance caregiving situation. While it may seem overwhelming, and it will be at times, being organized will make the situation less stressful.

When you’re in the role of caregiver you are not only involved in the care of a relative but you are also likely going to be expected to keep the rest of the family and friends apprised of what is happening. How can you be expected to juggle all of the balls that will be tossed your way? Here are some web-based tools and technologies that can help:

  • Using a checklist or marking items on a calendar are certainly good ways to keep yourself on track with the tasks that need your attention. You may also need to find electronic means to do this as well, especially if you’re looking to friends and family members to help with some of the caregiving chores such as buying groceries or taking your parents to doctor’s visits.
  • Consider conference calls as a way to keep in touch with family members as it’s a great way to get everyone on the phone at the same time to discuss concerns or to merely catch everybody up on what’s been going on with your loved ones. A conference call is much better, and much easier to coordinate, than to make individual phone calls and it also keeps everyone on the same page as to what’s going on and what needs to happen.
  • Consider setting up a blog page as a way to share photos between family members and to keep your elderly relatives involved in what’s going on with the children and grandchildren. You can upload photos and brief blurbs of what is happening in everyone’s lives. If your relatives aren’t tech savvy the caregiver can spend some time with them getting them online and letting them read what’s going on in the family.
  • Social media pages are also great, free, ways to stay in touch. You can set up a private group within Facebook and it can be a spot (in case you don’t want to set up a blog) where photos can be uploaded and you can share status updates with the family. It’s a great, all in one location, in which everyone can interact.
  • If your relatives are tech-savvy enough, or if they’re not, you can  help them when you’re there on a visit, set up a webcam and have video chats with other family members. Webcam chats are a great way to let your elderly family members feel closer to everyone because they will be able to have face-to-face interaction. Imagine if the family lives out of town and you (as the caregiver) live in the same area as your aging parents you could feel as if you were part of family parties and holidays through the use of a webcam.

Keeping all family members involved in the ongoing conversation of the care of aging relatives helps to relieve caregiver stress as well as keeping everyone in touch. Technologies can also help your relatives age in place, especially if they are tech-savvy, as the internet can make them feel more connected and less alone.

Seven Steps For Caregiver Self-Care

Until you’re in the role of caregiver it’s hard to imagine the stress associated with caring for another. In the beginning of your role as caregiver the needs you’re addressing for your elderly loved ones may be simple, a short visit or a trip to the grocery store. As time goes on though, their needs will increase to the point where it will almost seem like you’re taking on a new full time job. For those in the “sandwich generation” so called for those who are raising their own families, concentrating on their careers and taking on the role of caregiver for their adult parents, it can be a daunting task.

LifeFone, provider of home medical alert systems offers these tips for caregivers:

  1. Thoroughly understand what your responsibilities are when caring for your elderly relative. If you have other family members around you should divvy up the responsibilities.
  2. Knowing as much as possible about the senior you’re caring is crucial to understanding their particular ailments, likes, dislikes and routines.
  3. Remain in-the-know about the ongoing health conditions of the individuals you’re caring for. You need to be apprised of any changes in health status or medication needs. If there are changes in activities or foods that need to be added or avoided.
  4. Let the senior you’re caring for do as much for him or her as possible. Keeping active and staying involved in everyday routines and tasks will help them to stay healthy, alert and involved. Additionally, anger can set in with the senior when they see their independence slipping away.
  5. If you’re having a bad day, don’t take it out on the senior. If possible swap days with another caregiver. It may be difficult at times but you need to show the senior warmth and concern because they are dealing with aging and in many cases it is a frightening time for them as they watch their independence slipping away.
  6. Take time to simply sit and visit. Many senior citizens look forward to company simply because they want someone to listen. Even if there are times your elderly loved one seems to slip into the past, it’s important that you are patient and give them time to spend time with you.
  7. Ask for additional help if you need it. If you’re in a situation where you’re the only family member available to help out your aging parent, you need to be willing to ask for help. Whether you need to call in additional caregivers or a home healthcare aide, there will come a time when you need to rely on the expertise of others, especially as your parents continue to age and their needs become more than you can handle on your own.

The ability to age in place is a gift that you can give to your elderly relatives and this is made even more possible through the use of a home medical alert system.

Preventative Health Screenings in your 50s

Once reaching the age of 50, it is extremely common for individuals to come to a very exciting realization: they are in the prime of their life. 50-year-olds have reached a stage in which they can enjoy a renewed sense of self and truly appreciate what they have accomplished and where they want the next 50 years to take them.

However, reaching the age of 50 can also mean individuals have entered a stage in their life in which they are not only responsible for their childrens’ well-being, but their parents well-being as well. Being a caregiver is taxing enough without having to deal with your own health-related issues. Maintaining your health will make your caregiving job more rewarding and consequently less stressful. So this year as you celebrate life in the half-century lane, schedule your annual physical and ask your doctor to perform these simple tests:

  • Colon exam: Screenings allow doctors to detect abnormalities even when patients are not experiencing any symptoms. In some cases screenings allow doctors to detect a polyp in the colon or rectum before it has a chance to develop into cancer. While you may dread the procedure, it could save you from a lot more discomfort in the future.
  • Thyroid hormone test: Think of your thyroid as your body’s powerhouse. It produces the hormones needed for metabolism. Aging takes a toll on a variety of bodily functions, especially in women. Beginning at the age of 50 it is recommended you get your thyroid tested every five years.
  • Weight gain: People tend to begin putting on some weight once they reach their 50s. Assessing your weight now will allow you to adjust your eating and exercising habits so that you don’t have to deal with a larger weight related issue in the future.
  • Blood pressure: Untreated blood pressure can lead to serious complications, it kills your heart, your brain, your eyes and your kidneys. Don’t let hypertension be your downfall. The test is simple and extremely quick.
  • Blood sugar: Diabetes can destroy your health if not properly managed, which can lead to heart disease, kidney failure and even blindness. Ask your doctor for a fasting blood test at least once every three years to take control of diabetes early.
  • Cholesterol: Controlling your cholesterol can add years to your life. Get it checked out once every five years.
  • For women only: Pelvic, pap and mammograms, the trifecta. Make sure you get a pelvic exam and pap smear every one to three years. At 50 you should never let a year go by without getting a mammogram.

With so many years ahead of you, and so may plans to fulfill, don’t let your health stand in your way. Taking a few precautions may help elongate your life and allow you to accomplish things you never even thought possible.

* As with all medical suggestions and advice, you should be sure to consult your personal physician for recommendations as they pertain to your care and not rely on material provided herein.

Preventative Health Screenings in your 40s

Being a caregiver, it comes with the territory that you are more focused on putting someone else’s health before your own. Neglecting your own health, however, is never a good idea. Even if you feel entirely healthy, you should not forgo participating in regular check-ups for potential problems.

Don’t rob yourself of your health, allow your doctor to check for common risk factors for people in their 40s. Most people who have high blood pressure aren’t even aware that they have it. The only way to find out is to check your blood pressure regularly. Ask your doctor to screen for:

 

  • Blood pressure: You should have your blood pressure checked every two years unless its 120-139/80-89, then you should have it checked every year. It is common for your blood pressure to rise, but it can be lowered through diet, exercise and medication. Lowering your blood pressure is the key to longevity.
  • Blood sugar: If you haven’t always had the best eating habits, you may have overworked your pancreas. This can lead to diabetes. At the age of 45 you should begin getting a fasting blood sugar test every three years.
  • Eye Exam: Until you reach the age of 60 doctors recommend getting your eyes checked every two years for common problems like presbyopia, glaucoma and macular degneration.
  •  Cholesterol: One is five Americans has high cholesterol, which has been linked to heart attack and stroke – these diseases claim a life every 33 seconds.
  • Immunizations: Doctors recommend getting a flu vaccine every year and a tetanus-diphtheria every ten years.
  • Dental Exam: Visit your dentist every year for a checkup and cleaning.
  • Preventative Health: Until you reach the age of 50 you should check your height and weight, and screen for alcohol and tobacco use and depression every every two years. After 50 you should have these looked at every year.

Give yourself the gift that keeps on giving by putting your health first. Being a caregiver adds additional stress to your body, making yearly exams that much more important.

* As with all medical suggestions and advice, you should be sure to consult your personal physician for recommendations as they pertain to your care and not rely on material provided herein.

How To Spot And Address Caregiver Burnout

Individuals who care for aging parents or relatives understand that the task brings with it continual stress and you can feel worn out, disillusioned and helpless. Caregivers suffer burnout and when that happens, everyday issues can seem insurmountable; it’s difficult to gather the energy to get through the day and everything appears bleak.

Burnout can cause unhappiness and detachment and this can threaten your home and family life as well as the care provided to  your aging relatives. Burnout can be addressed and the symptoms healed, but before that can happen, the caregiver – or someone close to him – has to recognize burnout for what it is. If you notice yourself becoming burned out, and catch it in the early stages, it’s rather simple to address it with stress management techniques. If burnout goes unnoticed for a long period, and in many cases it does, the caregiver’s recovery can take longer and it might take more time and effort to heal.

Even when the caregiver leaves the aging parent’s home at night the idea that they are home alone is there on a subconscious level. One way to help alleviate this stress of leaving them alone is by equipping your elderly parent’s home with a home medical monitoring device. These home medical device systems allow the caregiver to leave the aging parent’s home and rest easy that they will be notified in the event something happens, and the accompanying peace of mind is beyond compare.

As a caregiver you may wonder exactly what burn out is. It’s described as a state of complete “emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress;” this is the situation faced by many caregivers. The role of caregiver for an aging parent is rewarding in many instances but when you add in taking care of your own family, work and general day-to-day activities, adding caregiving into the mix can lead to burnout. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the constant demands of your own home life as well as your parents’ daily needs. If the stress continues, the caregiver will lose interest and motivation and will forget what got them into the role of caregiver in the first place – the desire to offer loving care to a relative in need.

In your role as a caregiver there will be times when you will feel bored and un- or under-appreciated. There will even be days when you feel resentful of having to carry the load of being a caregiver. Those feelings are natural, it’s when they carry into burnout level in which your productivity suffers. You’re feeling listless, helpless and hopeless, that you need to seek help and also ask for assistance with the care-giving role.

Here are some things you, or your family, should be on the lookout for if you are in the role of caregiver:

  • You feel like caring at all about your home life, work life, and caring for your aging relatives is a complete waste of energy
  • You feel as though every day is a bad day
  • You’re completely exhausted all of the time
  • You feel overwhelmed by even the smallest of tasks
  • The feeling of being unappreciated weighs heavy on your mind

Be advised that burnout can affect every area of your life. It can also negatively impact your immune system and make you susceptible to illnesses such as the cold or flu.

It’s important that caregivers take care of themselves because if they don’t, not only will their lives suffer, but the lives of those for whom they are caring for can be negatively impacted. The stress of caregiving doesn’t go away once you tell your aging relatives good night; the responsibility carries over when you go home at night. One way to address that issue is to have your family’s home equipped with a home medical alert system. With this system, your aging parent wears medical alert pendant; if they suffer a fall or some other medical emergency, all they need to do is push a button and help and medical emergency personnel will be dispatched.

How To Spot And Address Caregiver Burnout

Individuals who care for aging parents or relatives understand that the task brings with it continual stress and you can feel worn out, disillusioned and helpless. Caregivers suffer burnout and when that happens, everyday issues can seem insurmountable; it’s difficult to gather the energy to get through the day and everything appears bleak.

Burnout can cause unhappiness and detachment and this can threaten your home and family life as well as the care provided to  your aging relatives. Burnout can be addressed and the symptoms healed, but before that can happen, the caregiver – or someone close to him – has to recognize burnout for what it is. If you notice yourself becoming burned out, and catch it in the early stages, it’s rather simple to address it with stress management techniques. If burnout goes unnoticed for a long period, and in many cases it does, the caregiver’s recovery can take longer and it might take more time and effort to heal.

Even when the caregiver leaves the aging parent’s home at night the idea that they are home alone is there on a subconscious level. One way to help alleviate this stress of leaving them alone is by equipping your elderly parent’s home with a home medical monitoring device. These home medical device systems allow the caregiver to leave the aging parent’s home and rest easy that they will be notified in the event something happens, and the accompanying peace of mind is beyond compare.

As a caregiver you may wonder exactly what burn out is. It’s described as a state of complete “emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress;” this is the situation faced by many caregivers. The role of caregiver for an aging parent is rewarding in many instances but when you add in taking care of your own family, work and general day-to-day activities, adding caregiving into the mix can lead to burnout. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the constant demands of your own home life as well as your parents’ daily needs. If the stress continues, the caregiver will lose interest and motivation and will forget what got them into the role of caregiver in the first place – the desire to offer loving care to a relative in need.

In your role as a caregiver there will be times when you will feel bored and un- or under-appreciated. There will even be days when you feel resentful of having to carry the load of being a caregiver. Those feelings are natural, it’s when they carry into burnout level in which your productivity suffers. You’re feeling listless, helpless and hopeless, that you need to seek help and also ask for assistance with the care-giving role.

Here are some things you, or your family, should be on the lookout for if you are in the role of caregiver:

  • You feel like caring at all about your home life, work life, and caring for your aging relatives is a complete waste of energy
  • You feel as though every day is a bad day
  • You’re completely exhausted all of the time
  • You feel overwhelmed by even the smallest of tasks
  • The feeling of being unappreciated weighs heavy on your mind

Be advised that burnout can affect every area of your life. It can also negatively impact your immune system and make you susceptible to illnesses such as the cold or flu.

It’s important that caregivers take care of themselves because if they don’t, not only will their lives suffer, but the lives of those for whom they are caring for can be negatively impacted. The stress of caregiving doesn’t go away once you tell your aging relatives good night; the responsibility carries over when you go home at night. One way to address that issue is to have your family’s home equipped with a home medical alert system. With this system, your aging parent wears medical alert pendant; if they suffer a fall or some other medical emergency, all they need to do is push a button and help and medical emergency personnel will be dispatched.

The Added Stress of Caregiving on the Workplace

Baby Boomers of the sandwich generation are expected to wear many hats: they are supposed to be attentive parents to their children, devoted caregivers to their parents, and successful workers in their chosen field. All of these roles are expected to coexist simultaneously without interfering with one and other, yet as anyone in the sandwich generation can attest, this is entirely impossible.

Being a caregiver means other aspects of your life are going to suffer, one of which being your occupation. Given the current state of the economy, most Americans cannot afford to step away from their job in order to provide full time care to their parents. Many caregivers also refrain from letting their employers know the extent of their caregiving obligations for fear of receiving less priority when it comes to projects. They do not want their careers to suffer due to their caregiving roles, and the lack of their company’s support only puts more stress on their plate.

Unfortunately the work/caregiver dilemma is only going to grow more stressful as parents live longer, employees work longer, and smaller families have fewer siblings to pitch in. According to a report by the

MetLife Mature Market Institute, the percentage of people 50 and older taking care of their parents has tripled since 1994.

So while it appears the number of those taking on the responsibility of caregiver has risen, this subset of caregivers remains apprehensive about sharing their concerns with their supervisors. Common fears among working caregivers include feeling as though their boss will view them as lacking commitment and their end of the year review will suffer as a result. Caregivers do not want their coworkers or boss looking down on them for having to pick up their slack, and they also fear that discussing their home life is not professional.

Between work, children and elders in poor health, it is hard to keep your brain fully functional in each area. The mind often wanders when you’re at work to your children or sick parent, and when you are with your family, caregivers find themselves wondering how they will ever finish their work not to mention the added financial stress associated with caregiving. Out-of-pocket costs for caregivers is $5,500 per year on average which includes food, travel, transportation and medications.

Caregivers can only exist for so long by burning the wick at both ends. All caregivers need respite, even in the workplace. While caregivers may feel guilty asking for time off when emergency strikes their loved ones, the truth of the matter is companies spend more on recruiting, hiring and training new employees than they do making sure their current ones are satisfied. Caregivers who feel they are supported in the workplace in their caregiving role also have lower health care costs due to being less stressed. Workers should not feel defeated by their caregiver role, nor should they feel guilty about disclosing their situation to their bosses. In the end it will save both parties a lot of stress and anxiety.

A Growing Population: Grandchild Caregivers

Given the statistics, most people have come to accept the possibility that they will take on the role of caregiver to both their children and parents at some point in their life. While this has become a common occurrence among baby boomers, there is an emerging set of caregivers who may have never imagined they would take on the role so early: grandchildren.

Today over 5.3 million of the nation’s 65.7 million caregivers are grandchildren over the age of 18. When grandchildren are expected to assume the role of caregiver in their 20s or 30s, the typical time period in which they would begin their careers, they may sacrifice advancing their career and their potential earnings in their lifetime.

Considering that people 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population, it has become more common for grandchildren to undertake this nontraditional role. As with all caregivers, grandchildren need to be mindful of themselves and their needs so as to avoid caregiver burnout. If you are a grandchild caregiver, the following tips may help you lighten the load:

  1. Do not neglect your life or ambitions: While you may find you have less “you” time being a caregiver, you should not invest all your time into caregiving. Do not abandon your dreams or goals, stay in school, and maintain healthy relationships with other family members and friends. You may want to consider bringing your grandparent with you on social outings, so that you can enjoy time with your friends and maintain a social life.
  2. Educate yourself on your grandparent’s illness or disease: The more you know about their condition, the better suited you will be to handle their care. The less surprise there is in your role, the better. Knowing about your grandparent’s health will make you a more confident and competent caregiver and will alleviate some of the stress associated with the position.
  3. Join a Support Group: Try to find a support group for other grandchild caregivers in your area, or go to your local community center to see what resources are available to caregivers. Although being a caregiver can be very isolating, that doesn’t mean you should go it alone. Finding support in your peers can be very rewarding.
  4. Seek help from family members and friends: Caregivers will be the first to tell you, they wish they asked for more help, instead of constantly assuming all the duties. If someone offers to help you out, take them up on it. Everyone needs time to decompress and spend some time away from their care recipient. Do not push help away, embrace it. You deserve it.

Grandchildren who take on the role of caregiver should not sacrifice their future for the present. Despite caregiving duties, the most important thing for grandchild caregivers to remember is to take care of themselves and pursue their aspirations.