Tag Archives: Caregivers

Health Tips For Preventing Falls In The Elderly

Because falls are the number one cause of injury-related deaths in the elderly, it is crucial that steps are taken to prevent both falls and the health issues that could lead to a fall. It’s also estimated that close to three million people, aged 65 and older, are treated in the emergency room for falls annually.

Death rates from falls in the elderly rose more than 55% between 1993 and 2003 and that could be because people are living longer, living alone, and are more frail, all factors which increase the likelihood of falls. One of the main reasons cited for admission into nursing homes or assisted living facilities is because of a fall.

As a caregiver, it’s crucial that you remain cognizant of the most common reasons the elderly suffer a fall, they are:

  • Medications that can cause disorientation, sleepiness or sleeplessness and dizziness
  • Visual impairment caused  by cataracts or glaucoma
  • Cognitive impairments caused by either Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Balance issues which could be caused by mobility issues, loss of muscle strength or diminished      flexibility
  • Blood sugar or blood pressure issues that could lead to dizziness upon standing

If your relatives are determined to remain independent and age in place, there are steps they can take, and you can help them with, to make that a possibility. Here are some steps you can take to help them avoid a fall and help maintain a stronger body:

  • Eating a balanced diet and drinking milk or getting calcium or Vitamin D from the foods they eat will help keep their bones strong.
  • Bone-strength building exercises such as walking, dancing, aerobic exercise or resistance training helps build both bone and muscle strength. You should check with their physician first to see if they are healthy enough to undertake an exercise routine. Even if your elderly relatives use a walker or a cane they can still become more active simply by getting up and moving every hour.
  • Balance can be improved by practicing yoga and daily stretches
  • Annual hearing and vision exams will detect any issues before they cause a trip or fall accident.
  • Ask the pharmacist whether any of the medications they take can cause any dizziness issues, especially when used in combination with each other.
  • Avoid using alcohol as it can interact with medications and add to drowsiness or dizziness

As part of your elderly relatives aging in place, make certain the home has been age-proofed to prevent trips or falls. Here are some measures to take:

  • Make certain hallways and closets are well lit. Install motion sensor lights with timers that will turn on and off upon entering or leaving a room.
  • Keep all walkways clear of clutter and power cords
  • All rugs should be secured to the floor with non-slip tape
  • A lamp should be next to the bed where it can be easily reached during the night. A touch lamp is a great option and prevents having to fumble around in the dark to find the switch.
  • All stairways should be in good repair and should have non skid treads on them.
  • Handrails should be installed on all stairways and even next to the toilet.
  • Grab bars should be installed in the shower and bathtub.
  • The bathroom should also have non skid rubber floor mats to prevent stepping onto a wet floor.
  • Put items that you use regularly within easy reach. Waist height is ideal placement for items in the kitchen and bathroom.

Helping your elderly relatives age-in-place if a gift for all family members. You can also help your relatives remain independent by offering them a home medical alert device. These devices can be a literal lifesaver in the event of a trip or fall or other health emergency.

How to Put Together a Family Caregiver Agreement

When a loved one is no longer able to completely care for themselves it’s important they have people around them helping out to make their lives easier. More than 65 million caregivers provide more than $375 billion in uncompensated care to friends and family members.  This number is staggering but reflects the love and commitment families for one another!

When your loved one is having a difficult time you may feel that it’s time to step in but you don’t have to do it all alone.  Preparing a family caregiver agreement is a great first step to take so that no one has to take on the burden of caregiving all by themselves. Each family member should play a part  in achieving a great caregiver experience .

The first thing you need to do is define your needs and the needs of the one you’re caring for. What kind of difficulties are they having? What kinds of medication are they taking? When do they need to go to see a physician? These are a few questions you should ask when preparing a caregiver agreement. You must also take into consideration the needs of those participating in the caregiving. What kind of hours does everyone work? What family obligations do they have? Do they themselves have any medical problems that need to be taken into consideration? Write down all these needs and sort them according to each individual. Continue reading

How to Accept that Caregiving has Changed Your Life

New caregivers often take on their duties with open hearts and the best intentions, rarely stopping to consider that the role they have acquired could last for years or the drastic changes their lives will undergo. With so much to occupy their minds, it often takes months before caregivers finally stop and ask themselves, “How do I accept the fact that I have to leave behind the life I was accustomed to in order to serve as the primary caregiver to my parents?”

When becoming a caregiver, many individuals simply put their lives on hold with the assumption that life as they knew it will resume soon enough. It quickly becomes apparent that this is not the case. Once realizing that the life they put on “hold” is really their new reality, there is some mental adjustment to undergo.

Regardless of what age caregivers are when they begin the journey, their life course is bound to change. If you are part of the sandwich generation and your kids are at home with you and your parents, it takes some readjusting to figure out how to spread out your time and share it evenly among all your loved ones. If your children left the nest before you became a caregiver, it is quickly apparent you will need to readjust your retirement plans. Continue reading

Caregivers: Re-examine Your Options Before Quitting Your Job

Caregivers: Re-examine Your Options Before Quitting Your Job

Being a caregiver to your aging parents most certainly feels like a full time job and all the added responsibilities and pressures may make it seem as though giving up your day job to provide full-time care to your parents is the best option. However, before taking that giant leap, adult children should reconsider their options.

A recent MetLife study suggests that U.S. adult children should think twice about abandoning their careers in order to provide full time care for a parent due to the loss of revenue they are sacrificing both now and in the future. Around 10 million employed caregivers in the U.S. lose an estimated $3 trillion in wages, pensions and Social Security benefits over a lifetime for leaving the workforce prematurely.

In the last 15 years alone the percentage of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled. Among baby boomers providing care daughters are more likely to provide basic care to their aging parents than sons who are more likely to offer financial assistance.

When adult children sacrifice work to provide care to their parents they are not only missing out on a paycheck, but also years of service required to become vested in a defined benefits pension plan, to receive matching 401(k) funds or to build Social Security benefits.

Caregivers should budget their funds carefully and examine possible freer or low-cost community services and government health programs. The following list from the American Cancer Society provides a great starting point for caregivers to find the help they need in lieu of taking a sojourn from their careers.

1. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

(800) 424-3410

Offers information on financial planning and estate planning, money management assistance to low-income seniors who have difficulty budgeting, paying bills, and reconciling bank statements. Helps prevent financial abuse of frail, older adults and enables them to remain financially viable and in their own homes.

2. Caring Voice Coalition

1-804-427-6468,  1-888-267-1440

Seeks to empower patients with life-threatening, chronic illnesses. Current programs include a financial

assistance program, insurance education and counseling, and a patient support program.

3. Dignity Resources

1-877-563-2100

Helps people understand the assets and financial options available to them during a serious or life-threatening illness, and assists them in making the most informed choices possible given their particular situation.

4. The National Council on Aging

Compares the information you give with eligibility requirements for Social Security, Medicaid, in-home services, supplemental nutrition assistance, pharmacy programs, and state programs.

5. U.S. Administration on Aging

1-800-677-1116

Provides benefits for older adults. Eldercare locator finds resources in your local community.

6. In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)

A federal, state, and locally funded program designed to provide assistance to those eligible aged, blind, and disabled individuals who, without this care, would be unable to remain safely in their own homes.

7. BenefitsCheckUpRx

Resource provided by the National Council on the Aging for individuals age 55 and older who have difficulty paying for their medicines. Web site can find drug assistance programs as well as programs to help with rent, property taxes, meals and other needs.

8. Together Rx Access

1-800-444-4106

Helps individuals and families who lack prescription drug coverage save on brand-name prescription drugs, other prescription products, and a wide range of generic drugs. Must meet eligibility criteria.

9. American Cancer Society Road to Recovery Program

1-800-227-2345

Volunteers transport patients and families to hospitals and clinics for treatment free of charge. In some places, the American Cancer Society may also provide limited assistance with the cost of gas.

10. National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE)

Learn practical steps to get smart about money from getting out of debt and budgeting to setting financial goals and investing money to reach those goals.

Finding the time and resources to care for aging parents is no easy task, but abandoning your career is not going to be beneficial to you in the short or long term. Take some time to research other available options and consider what is at stake for your financial future.

Long-Distance Caregiving

The life of a caregiver can be very stressful, constantly worrying about your loved ones well-being while doing your best to live your own life. While being a direct caregiver has its own stressors long distance care giving can be just as much if not more stressful. It’s really rare that immediate family members live in the same place these days so long-distance care giving is very common.  Being unable to be with your loved one because of distance can magnify the stress that goes along with care giving because you may feel helpless and unable to fully assist and care for your loved one and will more than likely worry about them more often. Long-distance care giving might seem like an impossible feat but you can do it! Take some of these proper steps to ease your stresses and be able to better care for you long-distance loved one.

  1. Have a plan- The first thing you must go about doing is developing a plan of action. Decide how often you will be able to be there, if at all. Establish who will be able to assist your loved one in your stead when necessary, such as a neighbor or family friend close by. Decide what your plan of action will be in case of an emergency such as a fall of serious health issues. Continue reading

Long-Distance Caregiving

The life of a caregiver can be very stressful, constantly worrying about your loved ones well-being while doing your best to live your own life. While being a direct caregiver has its own stressors long distance care giving can be just as much if not more stressful. It’s really rare that immediate family members live in the same place these days so long-distance care giving is very common.  Being unable to be with your loved one because of distance can magnify the stress that goes along with care giving because you may feel helpless and unable to fully assist and care for your loved one and will more than likely worry about them more often. Long-distance care giving might seem like an impossible feat but you can do it! Take some of these proper steps to ease your stresses and be able to better care for you long-distance loved one.

  1. Have a plan- The first thing you must go about doing is developing a plan of action. Decide how often you will be able to be there, if at all. Establish who will be able to assist your loved one in your stead when necessary, such as a neighbor or family friend close by. Decide what your plan of action will be in case of an emergency such as a fall of serious health issues. Continue reading

Caring for elderly parent falls primarily to one sibling

A new study suggests when adult siblings have elderly parents who are in need of care, one sibling usually takes on the bulk of responsibility.

Caring for an elderly parent can tear apart sibling relationships, especially when the division of responsibilities is less than equitable.

That’s one of the conclusions of research released Tuesday that says when adult siblings have elderly parents who are in need of care, one sibling usually takes on the bulk of responsibility.

Read more:  http://www.canada.com/life/Caring+elderly+parent+falls+primarily+sibling/4288421/story.html#ixzz1EFlNhUYN

Caring for elderly parent falls primarily to one sibling

A new study suggests when adult siblings have elderly parents who are in need of care, one sibling usually takes on the bulk of responsibility.

Caring for an elderly parent can tear apart sibling relationships, especially when the division of responsibilities is less than equitable.

That’s one of the conclusions of research released Tuesday that says when adult siblings have elderly parents who are in need of care, one sibling usually takes on the bulk of responsibility.

Read more:  http://www.canada.com/life/Caring+elderly+parent+falls+primarily+sibling/4288421/story.html#ixzz1EFlNhUYN

How To Tell If Your Care Recipient is Depressed – And What to Do

Living with depression is lonely, alienating and frustrating, and providing care to an elderly parent with depression often leads to feelings of depression within the caregiver. Depression rates among the elderly are high – 15 percent of Americans over the age of 65 are affected. Being able to identify depression within an elderly parent is imperative to caregiving. Learn how to lessen the effects of depression and attain information about available support.

Depression within the elderly is highly treatable but often it is not identified because it is overshadowed by other medical conditions, physical ailments or dismissed as senility.  Depression can lead to dysfunction in every aspect of life. Almost 2/3 of people with depression do not receive the necessary treatment because they are unaware of the symptoms or fear the stigma of depression.

  • Identifying Depression: Elderly people often don’t identify sadness, irritability or anxiety. Instead they complain about physical symptoms like fatigue or pain. If an elderly adult is experiencing the following symptoms for a period of two weeks or longer, they may be suffering from depression: lost interest in activities they used to enjoy, fatigue, dramatic change in appetite, dramatic change in sleeping patterns, feelings of worthlessness, having unexplained aches or pains, or contemplating death or suicide.

◦     Depression is the leading cause of suicide. Men over the age of 80 are at the highest risk of suicide, if an elderly individual has become obsessed with death or suicide, call his or her doctor immediately.

  • Getting help for an Adult with Depression: If you suspect your care receiver is experiencing depression the first step is to get them a thorough medical evaluation. Since you are around your care receiver often, you are able to identify changes in their behavior and will be a great asset to their medical professional. Go with them to their appointment to express your concerns and call ahead to explain the situation. In order to receive coverage it is recommended the elderly individual see their primary care physician first who may then refer them to a specialist.
  • Dealing With Depression: Show your loved one how much you care for them. Depression makes individuals feel isolated and hopeless. Listen and sympathize. Read as much material on depression as you can, stress that depression is treatable and is not a sign of weakness – let them know they can get through this. It will also help to enlist the help of others who can reaffirm your statements like medical professionals, family members or friends. Knowing more about depression will help you cope as a caregiver and keep your expectations reasonable.
  • Manage Their Treatment: Make sure to report changes in behavior of the depressed individual to their medical professional. Medications typically take a month to a month and a half to produce the desired effects. Track the medications your loved one is taking, make appointments and report changes. Above all it is important to be understanding. People with depression need to be surrounded by love and reminded they are cared for. It is also important for you to create a support group for yourself so you are not tasked with the difficulty of caring for a depressed individual all alone. Taking on the care of a depressed elderly care recipient by yourself is a difficult task that may lead to your own depression, so don’t be bashful in insisting on help.
  • What Not To Do When Dealing With Depression: Depression is a medical condition, it is not symptomatic of weak character. Do not dismiss your loved one’s feelings or force them into socializing as this can increase their feelings of worthlessness. Do not play into their negative views or agree with them, reiterate depression can be treated. Caregivers need to express hope about the situation improving.

Caregivers; Who are they?

Caregiver; it’s a word that means defines a variety of people who lovingly provide services to those in need of medical and non-medical care.

Characteristics of Today’s Caregiver

 

While caregivers come in a variety of packages, they are typically divided into two groups by the medical community and by health care plans: Skilled Caregivers and Custodial Caregivers.

  • Skilled Caregivers:  Care provided under the supervision of skilled or licensed personnel, also known as home health care or formal care. Their duties may include monitoring vital signs, diagnosing medical problems, drawing blood, giving shots, dressing wounds, administering therapy and anything else a professional caregiver is licensed to do.
  • Custodial Caregivers: Care provided by voluntary caregivers –  non-medical care often administered by the care receiver’s family and friends.  Custodial care should be documented by an approved physician’s plan.

When the care receiver is administered care in their own home they typically receive care from both a skilled caregiver and a custodial caregiver. The skilled caregiver provides medical help which may be administered by a nurse or a therapist, while bathing, feeding, medicating and dressing are done by the custodial caregiver. A patient in a nursing home often receives similar treatment with nurses, therapists and doctors providing skilled care and aides or CNA’s providing custodial care. Medical care will cover custodial care as long as it is partnered with skilled care.

Within these two categories of caregiving are two subsets: Formal Caregivers and Informal Caregivers.

  • Formal Caregivers: Formal caregivers either volunteer their time or receive payment and are associated with a service system, which include nursing homes, intermediate care facilities, assisted living facilities, hospice or adult day care etc. The number of elderly living in assisted living facilities has steadily been on the rise. Not all residents of assisted living facilities need care, but many elderly are choosing to live in assisted living facilities due convenience and the need for companionship of people their own age.
  • Informal Caregivers: Primarily comprised of family, friends, neighbors and church members who volunteer their time to a disabled person without compensation. Informal caregivers are the majority in the caregiving world, far outnumbering formal caregivers. Without informal caregivers, the elderly would face a caregiving shortage. Around 20 percent of the population fills the role of informal caregiver. The average caregiver is a 46 year old married female with a job outside her caregiving duties typically grossing an annual income of $35,000. While men also provide informal care, women provide up to 50 percent more time providing care than male caregivers.

Caregivers typically administer three types of care: Intermittent, Part Time and Full Time.

  • Intermittent Care: This type of care typically occurs when the care receiver merely requires occasional attention which is typically administered by an informal caregiver who lives close by.
  • Part Time Care: Part Time Care usually consists of the care receiver living with the caregiver, provided the medical condition is manageable by informal care. Part Time Care can also come in the form of formal or informal caregivers if the care receiver chooses to remain in their own household.
  • Full Time Care: Full Time Care can also be given by an informal caregiver living with the care recipient. However, this scenario is not ideal as it can take a toll on the informal caregiver, leaving the caregiver feeling isolated, depressed and guilty. This type of care is usually a last resort option when the funds to provide more appropriate care are not available. When the care receiver reaches a stage where full time care is needed it is best to look for a formal skilled caregiver to at least aid in the task.

 

What Type of Caregiver Are You?

People need care for a variety of reasons, but typically these reasons fall into one of three major categories:

  •  Acute Care : People who receive acute care are those who require rehabilitative recovery from a hospital stay or a serious injury. Most likely this rehabilitation occurs in a hospital under the supervision of a nurse, but it can also occur at home. Many hospitals are acute care facilities with the ultimate goal of discharging patients a soon as they are healthy enough to care for themselves. Acute care is typically short-lived, until the patient recovers. More serious injuries may require the assistance of caregivers for a longer period of time including back injuries and cancer or following the onset of a heart attack or infectious disease.
  • Chronic Care : Medical care which addresses long term illness or preexisting care falls into this category. Chronic medical conditions like asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, congestive heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver and hypertension are ailments that typically require long-term care. While oftentimes people experiencing these ailments can adapt to take care of themselves, the extra hand of a caregiver is desirable. Caregivers for chronic care recipients are usually loved ones, however, loved ones may not have the proper time allotments to look after the disabled while balancing their jobs and care receivers may feel uncomfortable with their loved ones handling personal hygiene matters like bathing. A professional caregiver can provide extra help in these situations. While chronic caregiving is typically associated with the elderly, many younger people find themselves in need of care if they develop    disabling conditions.
  • Mentally impaired early in life: Mental retardation, autism, Down’s Syndrome and mental illness require the help of a caregiver. In these cases oftentimes people require lifetime care to handle their ailments since their condition is long-term. Some people requiring care for mental impairment are cared for at home by a family member, but the majority of people suffering from these ailments are placed in special facilities since these people are supported by government programs to relieve the financial burden.

November is National Family Caregivers Month, first celebrated in 1994. In addition to all the career caregivers, more than 65 million individuals are family caregivers providing a service that is rewarding yet sometimes exhausting role to a loved one. Thanksgiving provides another opportunity and reminder to be thankful for these individuals.