Tag Archives: Caregiver

Embracing Change As Your Parents Age

It can be difficult to watch your parents age, especially if you are the caregiver accountable for their aging lifestyle. You may feel dejected or dismal about the aging changes happening in your parents’ lives including the change in the personal relationship you have with each of them. However, there are some empowering tips you can take away from the aging process and the circumstances that come with it.

Positive Changes Down the Road

There will probably be inspiring encounters you may have as the caregiver of your parents. The issue is, you may not feel or become mindful of them until years after the fact.  The fact is that as a caregiver the daily routine becomes tiring and somewhat emotionally exhausting which may cause the positive things to slide right by.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s commented on aging and caregiving “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of  life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”  Basically, by becoming the caregiver of your parents, in turn it will help you evolve! Remember that providing for your parents is doing what eventually may need to be done for you if the circumstances ever arise.

Grasping the  Sweetness of Old Age

There are many times when being up close and personal with somebody maturing, can regularly turn into naptime.  The time in between the naps of discussion and story telling can create lifelong memories that can be told from generation to generation.  Specifically, when you’re tired and baffled from a long day of your caregiver role, remember that your loved one may say something extremely touching, and it can remind you how important it is that the person is there with you and you with them. It is these sweet moments that will surprise you as you handle the day-by-day obligations included with caregiving.

You Figure Out How You Want to Age

When you see your parents aging, you begin to reflect and think about the way you want to age. You don’t just figure out how to recognize health issues and where you want to live as you age, you also begin to look to your parents for advice and their aging process as a standard to follow!

You’re Reminded of the Specialness and Fragility of Life

There is boldness we feel when we’re younger. Our bodies feel solid and it draws us into feeling as though we are invincible which we’re definitely not.

 

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Five Stress-Busting Tips For Caregivers

Caring for an aging parent, ailing spouse or child can take its toll on the caregiver. While care-giving is a task undertaken with love it can cause a strain on the caregiver’s health and in some instances put a strain on the relationship between caregiver and the care recipient.

As a way to help relieve stress, caregivers need to take time for themselves, away from the duties of caring for a loved one. In many cases, it’s not easy to do because you may need to find someone to come and relieve you, or if your loved one it able to be left alone, you still may worry, “What if something happens while I am gone?” The answer to that worry is that you could find another family member or friend to come and stay with your loved one or you could equip the home with a home medical alert device; with this device, at the push of a button he or she can receive assistance in the event of an emergency while you were out. These devices provide peace of mind for all involved in the caregiving relationship.

Once you determine you’re in need of some “stress-busting” here are five steps you can take that will go a long way toward self care – something that far too many caregivers do without:

  1. Take time to meditate. For some the word “meditate” may conjure up images of having to sit crossed legged on the floor chanting and for others, it may be a more spiritual. You can fit in short bursts of meditation by going to a quiet, preferably darkened room, perhaps putting on soothing background music and simply relaxing. Concentrating on your breathing and relaxing your muscles is a great way to relieve some stress when you simply can’t get out of the house or away from the caregiving tasks you’re faced with.
  2. Spend one day a week making a week’s worth of meals. Make your freezer, casseroles and your oven your best friend. Setting aside one day a week to cook for the upcoming week is a great time saver, especially if you work outside of the home. When you batch cook you are already in cooking mode so things move along quickly. Look for all-in-one meals that freeze well and offer healthy proteins; supplement the meals with fruits or vegetables as a side dish. You’ll find that creating meals during busy weeknights to be far easier.
  3. Speaking of eating… caregivers often forget to eat or take care of themselves and may be more likely to grab a quick, sugary or high carbohydrate snack; this will give you a quick  burst of energy but it will quickly wane. Keep cut veggies and fruits in the fridge. Portion out healthy, high fiber snacks and keep them handy for a quick pick me up. Try to avoid sugary snacks and drive-through restaurants as your go to foods.Fruits and vegetables
  4. Volunteer. This may sound counter-intuitive to a caregiver, but find an organization that you love and volunteer your time – it could be a local animal shelter or teaching knitting at a senior center or offering guided tours at the local museum. When you volunteer in this capacity you are giving back to a charity or organization that you truly love and it will help you to interact with others and, frankly, get out of the house for a while. Volunteering is something that you are truly doing for you.
  5. Take time to just slow down. As a caregiver, especially if you work outside of the house, it’s almost natural to rush through everything. Rushing means you’re going to be distracted and honestly that could lead to either you or your loved one getting accidentally injured. Another way to slow down is to make certain you’re getting a good night’s sleep. How can you do that? Sleep in a cool, darkened room, don’t use your computer or smart phone in the bedroom, turn off the television (if you need noise to fall asleep, invest in a sleep machine), go to bed and get up at roughly the same time during the week and even on the weekend.

Remember, a well-cared-for caregiver is better able to care for his or her loved one.

 

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Making A Decision To Commit To Home Medical Alert Technology

As a caregiver you’ve seen your parents’ health fade a little bit every year. It could be something as simple as being more forgetful, or stumbling when she walks or maybe your father is dealing with an illness or one or both of them are recovering from a hospital stay. They’re determined to remain in their own home and for the time being that might be an option.

The ability to age in place is a powerful motivator for many seniors as they are accustomed to being independent and taking care of the family and are not comfortable in the role of accepting care. Talk with them and discuss the possibility of equipping the home with a medical alert device and the two of them with medical alert pendants. These devices can save lives as well as providing peace of mind for both your parents and you, as the caregiver, for those times when they are home alone.

What should you look for in a medical alert device? Here are some items to take into consideration:

  • The technology of the console itself. Look for a device that provides two-way voice      communication
  • Make certain both the pendants and the consoles have been approved by the Underwriters Laboratories as Home Health Care Signaling Devices.
  • Check into the range of protection the device offers. There are some systems that provide protection up to 300 feet from the console and others that provide coverage up to 1,500 feet from the console. Determine where the console will be placed then choose a range that will suit your needs. If your parents like to go out of doors, make sure the unit will still work when they are outside.
  • The pendant should be waterproof and lightweight. You want your parents to be comfortable wearing the device and you want to know they are protected even if they are in the bathtub or shower.
  • Look for pedants that do not need to have batteries to replace.
  • Does the equipment come with a lifetime warranty? Will there be a cost if it needs to be replaced?
  • What happens if the power goes out? Is there a battery back up in place and if so, for how many hours will your loved ones be protected?
  • Does the service provider you’re going to work with have a plan in place in the event of a power outage? At LifeFone, the emergency response center is notified if the power goes out and notifies loved ones. The base unit has a back-up battery that can last anywhere from 32-60 hours.
  • Does the medical monitoring device provide a way to answer the telephone from the pendant? With LifeFone, a phone call can be answered by simply pushing the button on the pendant and speaking into the speaker console (this can be done from across the room which means your parents won’t have to rush to answer the telephone)
  • Do you have to sign a contract with the provider of your medical alert system or is it a      month-to-month situation? LifeFone does not require a time commitment meaning you can cancel at any time and get a full refund for any unused, prepaid service.

These are some of the basic questions you will want to ask a potential medical device provider before making any kind of a purchasing decision.

 

Caregivers Must Take Care of Their Own Health And Well-Being

When you’re a caregiver, it is not a selfish act to “take a day off;” in fact it is crucial to your being able to carry on and provide care to the aging relatives in your life and under your care. If you’re either the self-appointed or family-designated caregiver for senior relatives you are not alone as there are more than 22.5 million caregivers in the United States today and the number continues to rise.

Taking on the role of providing the primary support for either a disabled or an aging relative can provide emotional rewards but it can also bring sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges. You’re not alone in feeling that the stressors of being a primary caregiver begin almost immediately; this is especially true if you’re in the Sandwich Generation – those caring not only for aging parents, but also for your own family. The role of caregiver can range from moving an aging parent into your family home to dealing with nursing home issues to simply making certain that your parents, who have decided to age-in-place are taking care of themselves.

How can you avoid burnout and care for yourself as you continue to care for others? Here are our tips:

 

  • You need to understand and acknowledge that you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed and even angry. It is not a character flaw to feel all of these things and then to feel guilty about that. You need to reach out, whether to a family member or a support group, and share your feelings and understand that they are a normal part of being a caregiver.
  • Take note of the signs of stress you are feeling. The signs can include resentment at your parents, loss of sleep, the need to sleep more than usual, becoming irritable at events that would typically not impact you, finding that you’re more susceptible to colds or other ailments. If you find yourself in these situations, you need to reach out, ask for help and take a day off to care for yourself.
  • In fact, you should arrange for a day or two off a week simply to enjoy yourself. If you have no relatives or friends that live in the area who can relieve you of your duties, consider equipping the home with a home medical alert device and have your relatives wear a medical alert pendant – these devices provide peace of mind for all involved.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to tell your parents that you need to either have another relative come in to assist you or you may need to look for the financial resources to hire a part time caregiver so that you can have time for yourself and for your family. If there are specific tasks that you simply can’t get to or don’t want to do, consider hiring someone to do those items.
  • Never fail to acknowledge the job that you’ve taken on. It takes a special, loving kind of person to step in and care for an aging relative. The role of caregiver may have originally motivated you and even when you’re feeling frustrated or at your wit’s end, you have taken on a role that allows you to care for a loved one and enjoy special time together. It is not one to be taken lightly and should be looked on with pride of accomplishment.

The time that you spend caring for yourself will allow you to more fully embrace the role of caregiver that you have taken on and will benefit everyone involved.

Dealing With Relatives Suffering Dementia Doubles Caregiver Stress And Chance Of Depression

In the world of caregiving, stress, anger and sometimes even depression go along with the duties of taking care of aging relatives. Caregivers need to take heed of any drastic or ongoing changes in mood or health. If you’re feeling angry, lonely or sad for long periods of time, it could be a case of depression, not uncommon in caregiving situations.

It’s not that the act of caring for an elderly relative causes depression. It’s not that everyone who takes on the role of caregiver will suffer this, but it is something to be aware of. The effort that it takes to care for an elderly loved one, especially if you’re in the midst of raising your own family and working full time can be daunting and lead to overwhelm and frustration. Trying to “do it all” can result in the feelings of isolation, exhaustion, anger and anxiety and these also lead to the caregiver feeling guilty for even having these emotions. In some cases, adults take on the role of caring for their aging parents as a way to “give back” but end up feeling resentful of taking care of the very individual who raised him or her. Be aware that if you are suffering depression, taking a day or two off will help lessen the feelings but you can’t simply “snap out of” it. The symptoms need to be addressed and in many instances you will need to ask for help, either from a mental health professional or from a friend or family member if you can enlist them to help share the burden of the caregiving tasks.

While you may not be able to completely stave off depression, paying careful attention to the symptoms are a good start. How can you do this? Though paying attention to diet, getting exercise, caring for yourself, taking time off and enlisting the help and support of friends and family. Your family may not be aware that you are suffering the strains of caregiving and unless you speak up, they will remain in the dark.

“Feeling down” may be a precursor to depression, but if you’re not sure, here are some symptoms to be aware of:

  • Feeling constantly tired
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Change in eating habits that lead to weight gain or weight loss
  • Being quick to anger or frustration at minor irritations
  • The feeling that nothing you do for your parents is “good enough”
  • Ongoing physical symptoms that will not respond to treatment. Suffering chronic pain or digestive orders
  • At the extreme end of the spectrum are thoughts of suicide

Some of the reason caregivers suffer stress and depression is the fact that they may not feel appreciated for all they are doing to help their elderly relatives. Add to this the difficulties that come from dealing with an adult parent that is suffering dementia and it’s been found that this situation means the caregiver is twice as likely to suffer depression than a caregiver taking care of a relative without dementia. The reason for this is that caring for a relative with dementia can be an all-consuming 24 hour a day task.

The reason for the increased risk of depression in those caring for parents with dementia is that this type of caregiving can be almost all consuming. Individuals suffering dementia may exhibit symptoms such as agitation, unwarranted anger, wandering off, hoarding and inappropriate actions and this makes it more difficult for the caregiver than “typical” caregiving issues. These caregivers likely provide more hours per week of care, likely need to take more time off from work and deal with higher levels of mental stress and physical health issues. When you add to the mix that when dealing with a parent with dementia you feel you’re “not appreciated” it can contribute to the depressive feelings caregivers undergo.

Addressing symptoms of depression

What do you do if you think you’re suffering depression? You need to track your symptoms and contact a physician. It may not be easy to admit you have depression so when you visit your doctor describe your symptoms and the outside stressors you’re experiencing with caregiving; chances are your doctor will be able to read between the lines.

What will your doctor do for you?

The first step in addressing depression is to visit your doctor who may refer you to a mental health professional. Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat the condition and may also prescribe other lab tests.

What can you do for yourself?

  • The number one item is to ask for help. Ask for help from family members. Ask for help from your doctor.
  • Take time away from caregiving. If you don’t have a friend or relative that lives close by, look into hiring a home healthcare worker to relieve you.
  • Equip the home and your parents with a medical alert device. These devices can be lifesavers when you’re not in attendance and offer peace of mind beyond compare
  • Break large tasks into smaller ones – for example if you need to clean the house, do the yard work, cook the meals, etc. Ask for help or do a little at a time
  • Make time for physical exercise, this not only clears your head and gives you perspective but being physically active benefits everyone
  • Talk to a trusted friend about what you’re going through. You may feel guilty at your frustrated feelings toward the role of caregiver, but remember it is natural
  • Spend time with friends
  • Get your parents involved in adult day care activities as a way to allow them to socialize and to allow you time off knowing they are in good hands

Caregiving is a stressful undertaking and anyone who might tell you differently has likely never been in the situation before. You need to be kind to yourself so that you can give your best to your relatives.

Minding Your Parents’ Medication

As we age, the amount of medication and the frequency with which we must take them increases. This can become an issue if your parents are becoming forgetful or if they’re simply overwhelmed with the amount of medications they must take. Determining a schedule for taking the medication – whether it needs to be taken in the morning or evening, with or without food – can become daunting and in some cases rather than figure it out, your parents may simply stop taking them or take them incorrectly. Taking the medications incorrectly or “doubling them up” rather than taking one pill every twelve hours, for example, could lead to dangerous drug interactions or simply cause the medication to not perform the task for which it was prescribed.

Today’s advances in medication means that we can live longer lives and in better health than in decades past. When you consider that today’s medications can not only treat but cure diseases that were unable to be treated in the past and you can see the myriad benefits that prescriptions provide. For your aging parents though, the prescriptions that are being given to help cure or treat an illness can also lead to confusion.

As a caregiver, it may become your task to make certain the medications are being taken at the appropriate times and in the appropriate manner to help prevent any medication related issues. It’s been shown that close to one quarter of nursing home admissions are due in part to the elderly adult’s inability to take his or her medication correctly.

Caregivers that are dealing with parents with Alzheimer’s disease are heavily involved in parceling out medications, but it may be a good idea for caregivers of all elderly parents to take control of the medication and its schedule. Using pill reminder boxes is a great way to help make it easier for your parents to take the medications at the correct times throughout the day.

To truly get a handle on the medications that your parent is taking it might be best to go with them to a doctor’s visit and find out for certain what the current list of medications are. The next stop should be to the pharmacist and, armed with the medication list, you can ask him or her the best way to take the medications, after that you can devise a plan for the medication for your aging relatives. Using one pharmacy for all prescriptions is the best way to avoid any potentially harmful interactions.

Some of the issues that may prevent your aging relatives from taking medications properly include:

  • Dexterity issues. If there are no children or grandchildren in the home, consider using non childproof bottles.
  • They simply may not remember to take the medications. This could be a matter of setting a timer, putting the pill bottles by the dinner table, any methods you can device that can help them remember to take the medicine.
  • If they have vision problems, reading the labels on the bottles can lead to confusion and their not taking the medicine. Invest in a magnifying glass or use pill reminder containers.
  • If your parent is having a hard time hearing the doctor or pharmacist, designate a family member to go to appointments with them and keep track of doctor’s orders.
  • Do an annual review of the medications your parents are taking and determine whether they are still necessary (ask the doctor before stopping any medications) Also, if your parent has lost or gained a significant amount of weight the dosages may need to be adjusted, ask about this during the annual medicine review.
  • Remember to tell their doctor about any over the counter medications your elderly relatives are taking.

It may seem, at times, that the medications your aging relatives take are a double-edged sword, but managed properly may allow them to live a longer, healthier, more vibrant life.

Caregiving Technology

Medical science has improved tremendously over the past century or so, which is allowing people to live much longer lives. However, as some people age and become elderly, they are no longer able to take care of themselves. When that happens, it often forces that person’s family members to make some very difficult decisions. If you have taken on the role of a caregiver, then you just might find some of the technology that is presently available quite helpful.

Web Cams – While this option might seem like an obvious choice, is not used nearly as much as it could be. When you set up web cams throughout a persons living quarters, it gives the caregiver the ability to monitor their patient 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Web cams are not expensive, nor are they very difficult to install and can be used when the caregiver is not living with the patient.

Personal Health Record Tracking – This is a free mobile application that is usually used on iPads  and iPhones and it provides the caregiver the ability to instantly transfer a patient’s medical records to any facility in the case of an emergency. All doctors want to know exactly what they are dealing with, and having a complete up to date set of medical records significantly improves their ability to diagnose a health problem, and implement a treatment program in the least amount of time possible.

Caregiving Daily Tasks Applications – Each patient a caregiver is in charge of requires different treatment methods. Some might need special diets, others should have their medicines administered at exact intervals, and still others might want to be exercised or cleaned on a daily or semi-daily basis. Today, there are free applications that are available for smart phones that allow the caregiver to program in their patient’s schedule and other individual requirements into the phone. This allows them to know precisely what needs to be done and when it should to be completed.

Skype or other VOIP Systems – One of the most important things that a caregiver needs to do regularly is communicate with their patients. Skype is a VOIP system that can be setup on a smart phone that not only allows you to speak with a person anywhere in the world, but also have a live video feed.

Caregiving technology has improved a great deal in the past twenty years, and more innovations are ahead in the future. Keeping up with technology in caregiving will aid those providing care to one or many care recipients, making duties just a little easier.

New Study Reveals 39 percent of U.S. Adults Are Caring For An Adult or Child With Significant Health Issues

Read this new study by Pew Research, published at TheTakeaway.org website.  If you haven’t shown a caregiver some love recently, do something special for them!  When you read these stats, you begin to realize how hard caregiving really is.

 

“Examining the Lives of America’s Caregivers”

Caregiving is a vast responsibility that a growing proportion of the population is faced with. A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center reveals that almost four in 10 or 39 percent of U.S. adults are caring for an adult or child with significant health issues, compared to a 30 percent of adults in 2010.

Data shows that unpaid family caregivers will likely continue to be the largest source of long-term care services in the United States, and the aging population of those aged 65-years-old and older will more than double between the years 2000 and 2030, increasing to 71.5 million from 35.1 million in 2000.

With regards to specific demographics, 14 percent of family caregivers care for a special needs child with an estimated 16.8 million caring for special needs children under 18 years old. About 55 percent of these caregivers are caring for their own children, according to a report from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.

Continue Reading

 

New Study Reveals 39 percent of U.S. Adults Are Caring For An Adult or Child With Significant Health Issues

Read this new study by Pew Research, published at TheTakeaway.org website.  If you haven’t shown a caregiver some love recently, do something special for them!  When you read these stats, you begin to realize how hard caregiving really is.

 

“Examining the Lives of America’s Caregivers”

Caregiving is a vast responsibility that a growing proportion of the population is faced with. A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center reveals that almost four in 10 or 39 percent of U.S. adults are caring for an adult or child with significant health issues, compared to a 30 percent of adults in 2010.

Data shows that unpaid family caregivers will likely continue to be the largest source of long-term care services in the United States, and the aging population of those aged 65-years-old and older will more than double between the years 2000 and 2030, increasing to 71.5 million from 35.1 million in 2000.

With regards to specific demographics, 14 percent of family caregivers care for a special needs child with an estimated 16.8 million caring for special needs children under 18 years old. About 55 percent of these caregivers are caring for their own children, according to a report from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.

Continue Reading

 

How To Hire An In-Home Caregiver

Once your family has determined that you need to hire the services of an in-home caregiver for your aging parent, the time comes to decide exactly what you will be looking for in a caregiver and what tasks he or she will perform. If your parents are hoping to continue to age in place, the tasks a hired caregiver will perform will likely be different than if you need the services for your parent in your own home.

Once the family has identified the type of tasks the caregiver will be responsible for, it’s best to put together a written job description. This description should clearly define the roles of the caregiver and should include everything from hours to be worked, to pay offered to tasks performed. The job description should spell out if the tasks include driving your relatives to doctor’s appointments, shopping and/or preparing meals, being responsible for medical care or personal hygiene duties.

After writing the job description, you will also want to consider and interview checklist. Some of the things you might want to consider are:

  • What experience does the individual have with caring for a person with the particular ailments or memory impairments your relative has?
  • What type and level of health care training does he or she possess? (for example, CNA, RN, LVN, etc.)?
  • Can they drive and do they have a vehicle that can accommodate your relative and any devices they may need to get around (wheelchair, walker, etc.)?
  • Can the healthcare provider lift the patient in case he or she needs a level of care in which he cannot move on his own?
  • Ask for references from prior clients.

Where to find a home healthcare worker?

The question now is, where can you find an in home caregiver? There are many options, from going through a home health care agency to hiring an individual you may have heard about to placing an ad to calling a local state or federally-funded agency for advice on where to hire a healthcare worker. There are pros and cons to each type of hiring decision.

If you use a home care agency to hire someone you will find that person will have been screened and vetted. If the worker you hire becomes ill, chances are the agency will be able to send a replacement. Agencies typically have access to employees with varying skill levels that could more easily suit your needs. A healthcare worker from an agency may have special training in physical or occupational therapy or other disciplines. A drawback to an agency is that you may not have access to the same healthcare provider every day and this could cause confusion in an elderly patient; as a matter of fact, you may have little to no say over who comes to care for your relative. Agency healthcare workers typically cost more than other options.

If you opt to hire a private healthcare worker you have the control over who that person is and the fact that it is typically less expensive. Also, with a privately hired healthcare provider your relative has the luxury of continuity with him or her. Some of the cons include that if your healthcare provider is ill, it will be difficult for you to find a replacement, you will need to do your own screening and reference checking and your insurance or Medicaid may not cover a privately hired worker.

What to include in a contract?

When you’re developing a contract – and you may wish to speak to a lawyer to have this done – make certain it contains, at a minimum, the following information:

  • Employer and employee name and addresses
  • Wages (you may want to consult with an attorney as you will likely be responsible for tax withholding and reporting)
  • Holiday and time off
  • Benefits which may include eating meals there, to paying for mileage if your healthcare worker needs to drive their private vehicle while caring for your relative
  • Employee’s social security number
  • Any behavior that is not allowed: smoking, drinking, being late for work, etc.
  • What the hours of work are
  • When and in what format will payment for wages be made
  • Complete description of the duties that will need to be performed
  • Termination, how much notice the healthcare worker is required to give in addition to how much notice you need to give if you’re terminating and under what stipulations termination could fall
  • The contract should be dated and signed by both parties

To find the right home healthcare worker for your family is a task that should not be undertaken lightly especially when you consider that this person is going to be responsible for your loved one and will be spending a majority of the day with him or her. While the formation of a job description is a great first step in the hiring process, be prepared to spend time interviewing and interacting with your potential healthcare worker so you are certain you’ve hired the best person to care for your relative.