Tag Archives: Caring for self

The Beatitudes and a Prayer for Caregivers from the Catholic Herald

Beatitudes for Caregivers

Blessed are those who sleep poorly because they’re worried about their loved one or because their loved one wakes in the middle of the night and needs help, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn because their loved one, though still alive, is slipping away because of dementia, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek who force themselves to speak up and speak out to make sure their loved one receives the help he or she needs, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for answers to why this is happening to their loved one and how much longer it will go on, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are those who show mercy, kindness and compassion to their loved one, for they will be shown mercy, kindness and compassion.

Blessed are those who keep clean a loved one who is physically or mentally unable to keep himself or herself clean, for they will see God.

Blessed are those who help their loved one find moments of peace, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are misunderstood, not appreciated and taken for granted in their role as caregiver, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you whose caregiving efforts are unjustly criticized — or who are falsely accused of not caring about others — because of your love for your care-receiver and your love for God, who has asked you to help his beloved son or daughter.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me better understand and believe I can do what you ask me to do.

Forgive me for the times, even now, when I question your judgment.

As I go about the many daily tasks of caregiving, give me energy.

As I watch my loved one oh-so-slowly walk across the room, give me strength.

As I answer his/her repeated question just one more time, give me patience.

As I look for solutions to whatever is the most recent concern, give me wisdom.

As I reminisce with him/her about the “good old days,” give me a moment of laughter.

As I get to know my loved one in a new way, seeing both his or her strength and frailty, give me joy.

As I sit beside my loved one’s bed waiting for his or her pain medication to take effect, give me comfort.

Lighten my burden, answer my prayer, and give me the strength to do what so often seems impossible. Give me a quiet place to rest when I need it and a quieting of my anxieties when I’m there.

Change my attitude from a tired, frustrated and angry caregiver to the loving and compassionate one I want to be.

Remain my constant companion as I face the challenges of caregiving, and when my job is through and it’s time for me to let go, help me remember that he or she is leaving my loving arms to enter your eternal embrace. Amen.

From Catholic Herald.

 

Things To Do Before You Turn 60 (or even 50!)

As we move into our Golden Years, whether we are taking care of ourselves or if we have been thrust into the role of caregiver, there are just some things that we should do for ourselves.

 

Film poster for The Bucket List - Copyright 20...

The Bucket List (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve heard of the movie The Bucket List, you’ll remember it’s about all of the things you should accomplish before you die. We believe there are things you can cross off your list that could just make you happier, healthier or wealthier.

 

Here are five things to consider before you turn 50, 60 or 70:

  1. Cultivate friends that are younger than you are. Sure, it’s nice to be with your peers, but if they “act old” you will act old as well. Making friends with individuals younger than yourself may keep you young and will also open you up to new experiences and ideas.
  2. Break a bad health habit. It is never too late to get healthier. If being healthier to you means losing weight, getting more active or stopping smoking, there is no time like the present. Any positive changes you make in your health – whether you’re 50, 60 or 70 – will pay long term benefits.
  3. Start saving money. Yes, a financial planner will tell you that you should have started saving for retirement when you were in your 20s, 30s or 40s, but there is no reason you can’t start today setting aside money to use once you’ve retired. Having a retirement plan will help you enjoy your Golden Years without the worry of how you will pay the bills or keep food on the table. Start now setting aside money in an account specifically ear marked for your Golden Years whether it’s for daily living expenses or to finance that romantic cruise you’ve always dreamed of.
  4. Forgive old hurts. In many families there is likely some long-simmering hurts or resentments; maybe you don’t even see your relatives because of them. Now is the time to forgive and forget. Nursing negative feelings can drain your energy. Reach out, take the first step and see what happens.
  5. Have a team in place to help you with your finances, your health (both physical and spiritual) and potential long-term care plans. For many individuals, finding a trusted physician could be something they’ve had in place for decades, but an attorney or CPA may not have been front of mind; now is the time to begin searching for someone to help with your finances and with getting your legal issues in order (think Power of Attorney or wills). Prior to your needing it, talk with your family about what you hope to have happen when you can no longer age in place. Will you move in with a family member or into an assisted living facility? If you’re going to become the caregiver for aging relatives, how will that look and fit into your current lifestyle? These are all conversations that should be had prior to it becoming an emergency situation.

Chances are there are more items that you can add to your list of what needs to be done before you’re 50, 60 or 70 and that could include how, or whether you will be, able to age in place as you age. There are myriad ways in which to make this happen and having medical alert device installed in your home is just one of the things you will want to consider.

 

 

 

Successful Aging-In-Place Strategies

Aging is an inevitable fact of life and with aging comes the realization that we may be faced at some point with the inability to live independently. Whether making a move to an assisted living facility or moving into the home of a family member, aging-in-place is a dream that many seniors do not want to give up on.

Are there ways to age “successfully” so that you can stay independent? Are there steps you can take today (regardless of your age) to assure that you are healthy, remain active, and are able to live in your own home for as long as possible? Yes. There are steps you can take, lifestyle changes you can implement and devices you can equip your home with that will make it possible for you to age-in-place for a longer period of time. What does “successful” aging mean? It is a lifestyle that incorporates health and wellness and overall activity into daily routines.

Retirement and aging usually go hand in hand and this can mean a change in household income. Because of diminished income budgeting can become a concern for seniors, but there are ways to successfully age on a budget.

What can you do today, on a budget, that will help you age gracefully? Here are some tips:

  • Keep your mind active. Read books. Do crossword puzzles. Keep up with daily world events and news in the newspaper or on the Internet. Keeping your brain active and involved could help stave off dementia.
  • Save money by growing your own vegetables or herbs. Starting a garden, whether you have a large plot of land or will be undertaking container gardening on a patio means you will have something to do daily with caring for the plants. Growing your own also provides ready access to fresh fruits or vegetables and provides heart healthy options for meal choices.
  • Stay active in your community or church by volunteering and attending activities those groups have planned. Getting out of the house, socializing and being involved in a cause or group you support boosts mental and emotional health and well-being.
  • Stay in touch with friends and family. It’s easy to “forget” to pick up the phone and call your children or grandchildren. Make a weekly date to touch base. Set aside an hour (or more) and settle in for a chat just to catch up. If you’re internet savvy set up, or have a family member set up, a private family Facebook group where you can talk freely and share family photos without the worry of strangers seeing your information.
  • Age-proof your house by clearing out clutter, making certain all carpets and rugs are slip proof. Update or upgrade your bathroom with grab bars and non slip surfaces in the bathtub and bathroom floor.
  • Prepare for health or medical emergencies and offer peace of mind by investing in a home medical monitoring device. Wearing a personal safety device means that at the push of a button, medical help can be summoned. Whether you’re unsteady on your feet or are dealing with other health issues such as diabetes or heart conditions, a medical alert system can be a literal life saver.

Talk with your family members so they are aware of your desire to age-in-place and work with them to make this dream a reality.

 

November Marks National Caregivers Month: Are You A Caregiver?

Whether you’re caring for an aging parent or helping a family member or spouse who’s going through cancer treatments or recuperating from an accident, the role of caregiver has many different faces. November has been designated National Caregivers Month and it’s a time to take note of those individuals – and it may be yourself – who give of their time and make a commitment to help care for a family member or friend.

Understanding what care giving means

For many people giving care means helping an individual cope with daily needs. Those needs could range from preparing meals, cleaning the house, running errands or taking them to a doctor, helping them get dressed or helping with physical or occupational therapy treatments. Caregiving could also mean making sure that medications are taken, that blood sugar levels are monitored or that personal hygiene is maintained. The role of caregiver could even simply mean “being there for them” as they navigate the emotional roller coaster that could come with limited mobility or the uncertainty of treatment and its outcome.

Being thrust into the role of caregiver may mean you need to put your own emotions and needs aside. It’s also easy for many caregivers to neglect caring for themselves and eventually experience burnout and stress from the role they’ve taken on; it can lead to depression and anxiety.

Caregivers need to learn to take care of themselves first and foremost so they can be an effective caregiver. What steps can you take to make certain you are both mentally and emotionally healthy and able to continue in your role?

Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your daily routine:

  • Acknowledge your feelings. You’re “allowed” to feel anger, guilt or frustration. Your feelings are your own and need to be addressed. It’s all right to feel these feelings as caregiving can be an exhausting and sometimes seemingly thankless task. Unless someone is in that role, they will not understand what you’re going through. If that’s the case, you should connect with other caregivers so you can share your feelings.
  • Keep track of your feelings because if you’re overcome with a sense of sadness that lingers you may be depressed and should talk with a doctor. Feeling angry with yourself for your lack of patience with the person for whom you’re caring or with family members that aren’t helping out are extremely natural. You should look to the cause of the anger and address it: is it stress, fear, the need for more support?

What can you do to address your feelings?

  • Ask for help. If you don’t ask, friends and family may simply assume you’re carrying on just fine and may not consider the stress you’re under.
  • Understand that your feelings are natural.
  • Focus on those tasks which make sense during the day. If you simply don’t have time to mow the lawn or deep clean the bathroom, let it go or hire someone to do it for you. Look to those tasks that you don’t want to do or can’t do and reach out for help. Ask for help with shopping, running errands or cooking meals.
  • Take time for yourself. Ask for a day off and then do something you enjoy. Whether it’s visiting a museum, going for a walk or just taking a few hours to sit in a coffee shop and relax, you need to practice self care.
  • Don’t feel guilty asking for help. Unless someone is in your shoes, they cannot understand how difficult (and yes, rewarding) caregiving can be.

Caregivers provide a much-needed level of support for family members but in many cases they “toil in obscurity” because unless you reach out, not many people will understand that you need assistance. Even the individual you’re caring for may not be as appreciative as you’d imagine they “should” be, but you need to keep in mind that he or she is struggling to cope with the changes in their life that has lead them to need a caregiver. Working together and working with family and friends can make your role as a caregiver rewarding and fulfilling.

 

 

 

Why Crying is Good for Your Health

As many caregivers are well aware, sometimes there really is no better outlet for your stress and frustrations than a good cry. Crying is cathartic, and as researchers have proven time and time again, crying is good for relieving stress, anxiety and other emotional build-ups.

Being a caregiver certainly provides you with countless opportunities to unleash some water works, and thankfully, a good sob is also good for your health. Bottling up emotional stress and keeping in tears can
have negative physical effects on the body, (including cardiovascular disease) so letting out a healthy cry now and again is nothing to be ashamed of, it is something to be embraced.

Since alleviated stress can damage certain areas of the brain, crying also has survival value. But in case you need more convincing that your tears are not in vain, allow the following reasons to influence your
attitude toward tears.

  1. Tears Remove Toxins: Research has proven that tears formed during stress or grief actually contain more toxic byproducts than those formed of irritation (i.e. when something gets into your eye). Tears serve as a natural chemical releaser.
  2. Crying  Removes Stress: Suppressing tears increases stress levels and contributes to diseases aggravated by stress, including high blood pressure, heart problems and peptic ulcers.
  3. Crying Can Elevate Mood: Crying reduces the body’s level of manganese, a mineral which affects mood including anxiety, nervousness, irritability etc., and is found in up to 30 times greater concentration in tears than in blood serum. Reducing your level of manganese elevates your mood.
  4. Tears Kill Bacteria: Tears serve as a chemical barrier to fight away infection. When our eyes secrete tears they are fighting off pathogens from entering the body, including all the germs we pick up from doorknobs, shopping carts and keyboards etc.
  5. Tears Help With Vision: The most basic function of tears is allowing us to see. Tears lubricate our eyeballs and eyelids and prevent dehydration of mucous membranes. Our eyes cannot function without proper lubrication, making tears absolutely vital to vision.

So the next time your emotions overtake you and feel the urge to let out some tears, don’t hold back. Being on the emotional roller coaster ride we call caregiving, should enable you to embrace your ups and downs no matter how low you drop.

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.

Sandwich Generation Month

In the Caregiving world July is called Sandwich Generation Month. Every July we like to commemorate and celebrate the dedication, patience, and caring of those adults who are part of the Sandwich Generation. For these strong individuals every single day comes with new challenges. So we would like to celebrate and raise awareness for all they do for the ones they love.

The Sandwich generation is the generation that has the task of caring for their aging parents along with supporting their own children. This time can be very stressful for those who are part of it. Every day presents new challenges for the Sandwich Generation and these people work very hard to ensure the safety and care of their loved ones.

This Month we would like to take the opportunity to raise awareness and provide help for those who are part of the Sandwich Generation. You can find links on our blog along with tips posted on our Twitter and Facebook page throughout the month. If you are a member of the Sandwich Generation just know that you aren’t alone. Don’t let your responsibilities consume you. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help as Life Fone and other people around the world would love to give you tips and resources to make you lives easier and less stressful.

Aging Without Children – NYTimes.com

Aging Without Children – NYTimes.com

Aging Without Children

Survival tips for the Sandwich Generation

Here are some things that can help you stay sane through all the nonsense life brings.

  1. Alone time is crucial – Taking a break from everyday life is important. Spending a little time each day focused on you can really make a difference in the overall stress level of everyday life. Trying getting up a little earlier and enjoying fresh juice while reading your favorite magazine. Or after a long day of work, unwind by taking your dog on a walk. The gym is another excellent place to unwind if you can find a cardio machine away from all the noise. Put on your head phones and walk a few miles, unwinding your mind from the days’ struggles.
  2. Family Support – As with most things in life, if you don’t have your family supporting your decisions it probably won’t go over well. Finding support and comfort within your family ties helps to make sense of the crazy stuff that happens every day. Rely on your spouse and kids to help your through your problems and create a time and place to discuss family dynamics on a routine basis. This will help solve a lot of at home issues while also bringing the family closer, building a better relationship between all parties involved.
  3. Faith – Everyone has their own definition and experience of faith.  What faith brings is a sense of commitment, fellowship and an overall feeling of comfort and security knowing that you have something to rely on other than the tangible factors in this world. If praying or meditation helps you throughout the day, do it. Increase the amount of time you spend on your faith and you will see it reciprocated in your everyday life.
  4. Employment Benefits – When it comes to today’s corporate policies, they have changed from years past. If you have added stress from taking care of a sick or again parent, many companies will provide some sort of leniency in order to provide for your loved ones needs. If you feel stressed about missing work to take your sick mother to her doctor’s appointment, just ask. You may be surprised at the new policies!
  5. Professional Assistance – When concerns do arise because of taking care of a sick loved one, or in general, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor or other professionals about your problem. Expressing yourself helps not only you, but everyone around you understand what is going on and how they can help make your life easier

The overall goal is to survive! Remember that having a positive attitude and not stressing over the small stuff in life will help. Eventually, everyone needs help in life and equipping yourself with quality relationships will provide balance as you care for yourself and all those around you.

It’s Never Too Late to Improve Health

With the average life expectancy constantly on the rise, maintaining one’s health later in life is becoming more important than ever. Taking measures now to improve the elderlys’ health will aid in preventing chronic disease and restoring vigor. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition outlines the following steps every elderly person should undertake to restore or maintain their health.

Body Changes with Aging

As people age they naturally undergo fundamental changes in their body composition. Elderly lose lean body mass, which consists primarily of muscle and bone, and they gain weight with age as their metabolic rate is reduced.  However, there are steps that can be taken to slow the effects of aging and even reverse these consequences. The elderly should consume high quality protein and whole grains with complex carbohydrates and high fiber, saturated fat should be limited. Watching one’s dietary intake is extremely important with the elderly as they have an increased risk of gaining excess weight, which can lead to additional health problems. 

Obesity plays a damaging effect on one’s health and aids in the development of several diseases in older adults.  Obesity can lead to elevated blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer. Treating an elderly individual’s obesity provides great benefits to those with a high risk of cardiovascular disease, those with osteoarthritis and individuals with respiratory problems. However, extreme weight loss may be due to a progressive or preexisting disease, and many elderly people tend to lose weight prior to their death.

Exercise

Making exercise a daily part of life for the elderly is is important to their health. Regular physical activity decreases body weight, total body fat and body mass index while increasing muscle and bone mass. The three main areas the elderly should focus on are:

  1. Cardiovascular
  2. Weight-lifting small amounts of weight
  3. Flexibility through stretching

Combining these exercises will improve movement, mobility, balance and posture. As posture deteriorates it becomes increasingly more difficult to breath and losing ones balance may lead to an increase risk of falling. Exercise needs to become a way of life for the elderly, just as their diet becomes a part of their lifestyle.

Cancer Prevention

Diet, nutrition and lifestyle contribute to the development of cancer in 1/3 of all cases. The risk of cancer is reduced in the elderly who abide by healthy nutritional recommendations. It is never too late for elderly adults to make lifestyle changes through diet and exercise to aid in preventing cancer and living an overall healthier lifestyle.