After Caregiving Ends


Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu

March 9th! This day comes around every year and there is no way to avoid it. Sure, I could roll the covers over my head for the entire day and wallow in sadness, but what does that accomplish; more sadness, more isolation? I think not!

As I look back on these last four years, I see quite a bit of change in all facets of my life. There is the weight loss, the new moustache, establishing The Whole Care Network and TLO Cruises and Tours and of all things getting a tattoo!

 

The tattoo is probably the most outlandish thing I have ever done in my entire life, however the tattoo has so much meaning to me as I ACE, (After Caregiving Ends). I believe it is through the experience of the white flower and tattoo which has allowed me to work through my grief and (If you would like to learn more about the tattoo see my post entitled “We’ve Only Just Begun: White Flowers and Green Shoes by clicking here“) guide me on a peaceful path.

When Richard (aka TLO) made his life transition on March 9, 2104, two lives were forever changed. As I look back on what I wrote the three previous years on March 9, there is one constant theme, love endures. What is different for me on March 9, 2018 is that I have started to live life again and break out of my isolation.

As I wrote in “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” I believe there are four stages of grief that caregivers experience:

  1. Relief < caregiving has come to an end and the one you are caregiving is now pain-free
  2. Sadness < the life that you once knew is forever changed
  3. Guilt < when you realise that you move on with your life without the one you love
  4. Acceptance < that day when you wake up and say to yourself…”Job well done” and you’re ready to move on with your life with your head held hight.

It took me 15 months to get to the point when I could get to acceptance. What I realize this past year is that I left out one important stage in grief, taking…

5. Action < Moving from isolation and activate your hopes, dreams and desires.

Whether it was the experience of the while flower, the tattoo, starting the Whole Care Network, (I could use countless examples from this past year) these experiences that happened over the past 12 months made me realize that until I took action, I was going to continue to isolate myself and stay stuck in my own muck (Richard would be most displeased!). Taking action has not only has restored my confidence, taking action has allowed me step outside my comfort zone which has provided exciting opportunities for personal growth and fulfilment.

What I have learned along the way is just as caregiving is different for each one of us, life after caregiving is going to be different for each one of us too. Now four years past, I don’t miss him any less; I’ve learned to live with him, and the love, care and commitment we had for each other, in a different way.

It’s “funny” how taking action has allowed me to find deeper meaning to our love, care and commitment. I will be interested to see what March 9, 2019 brings to me on The Purple Jacket!

 

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5 Tips for Self-Care on a Budget


The concept of self-care is not a new one. We hear it emphasized on the news, in magazines and from our favorite celebrities. With just over 18% of the American population suffering from anxiety, self-care is more important than ever. But, it’s easy to say “get a massage” or “go to Cancun” when in reality, your budget may not allow it. From this, I’ve learned a few tricks to still treat and take care of yourself, while staying on budget.

Tip 1: Take Glowing Bubble Baths

I’m a huge advocate for glowsticks. You may be wondering what this has to do with bubble baths, but it all started when I moved to a new city and didn’t know anyone. Through volunteering in the community, I met a few people and was invited out to a birthday party one night. I was nervous, though because I was going by myself and was scared I wouldn’t know what to talk about. I went to the dollar store to calm my nerves (my favorite place, but more on that later) and stumbled on an entire aisle full of glowsticks. I brought some with me that night, and they’ve been my go-to icebreaker ever since. You may be surprised to hear that grown adults get just as excited to see glowsticks as kids do.

When I started my new job in my new city, I was anxious to say the least. One day, I brought glowsticks to a co-worker with kids. He told me the next morning about how much fun his kids had with the glowsticks when they threw them into a bubble bath. That thought had never even occurred to me. I went back to the dollar store and stocked up on bubble bath, a 20 pack of glowsticks and 3 candles. It cost me about $5. When I got home, I filled up the tub, turned off the lights, lit my candles and relaxed in the neon glow of my bubble bath. I felt like a kid again!

Tip 2: Volunteer in Your Community

It’s an amazing thing to help someone else, especially someone you love, when they need the support. And they’re so lucky to have you! But, being a caregiver can be exhausting. You may think that the last thing you’d want to do is use the free time you have volunteering. Trust me, though, taking some time to volunteer for a cause that you really care about can be a nice break from your daily responsibilities. You can volunteer once a month, or even just once year!

It’s also a great way to make friends. As mentioned, I volunteer in my community every weekend at the farmers market for about 3 hours in the morning. I work the coffee cart, and have since made some of my best friends there. I love being able to meet and interact with people from all walks of life – and the free coffee I get to drink is definitely a plus! If you’re not sure where to look for opportunities, check out VolunteerMatch. You can set up a free profile and they’ll alert you when opportunities arise that you may be interested in.

Tip 3: Take Mini Road Trips

I had to buy my first car when I moved. I grew up in Chicago, so I never needed one. Actually, I think it’s completely impractical to own a car there. Parking is impossible and expensive, traffic is nuts and your car is constantly covered in salt from the 2 feet of snow in the winter. So when I bought one before I moved, I wasn’t sure I’d know how to take care of it. Since buying it, I have a whole new sense of freedom. The city I’m in now has limited public transit, so it’s necessary to have a car. But the even bigger bonus is that I get to take little road trips once in a while. When I drive back home to Chicago, I’ll stop in a little off-the-highway town and grab dinner at the local diner or stay in budget hotel for the night. The last one I stayed in was about $55 for the night. It was fun to stop for a minute and relax in a town I’d probably never go to again, and not break the bank in doing so.

Road trips are fun and can be completely on your schedule. Just remember, though, that if you or your loved one have Medicare to make sure you’re covered while traveling. Some plans have different service areas depending on where you are.

Tip 4: DIY Spa Days

Remember how I said I love the dollar store? That’s because you can find cheaper alternatives of luxury items like bubble bath, face masks, manicure sets and nail polish. I even found a $1 eye mask there – the ones you put in the freezer before using. The combination of these items can make for a spa day under $10. But don’t forget to grab some glowsticks!

Tip 5: Try Journaling

There are countless studies that have proven the benefits of journaling. Nevertheless, it took a lot of encouragement for me to try it. I just couldn’t understand how writing about my day in a book every night would make me feel better, but it works! You can find fun journals on Amazon or Etsy. And of course, at the dollar store. You can pick up some stickers and decorate it yourself. Or, this could be a craft to do with your loved one you’re caring for, your kids or your grand kids.

You deserve to take time for yourself. Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you treat yourself while sticking to your budget.

Author: Caroline Gillard is a public relations professional and freelance writer, focused on the health care and finance industries. Known to do stand-up on the side (and after the right amount of drinks), she aims to bring comedy to her writing while providing useful information for readers. carolinegillard10@gmail.com.

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Hospice Care: What To Expect For A Terminally Ill Loved One


Hospice care can be a relief for terminally ill individuals and their families, but there are so many things to consider when you’re getting started. Making sure your loved one is well taken care of is a priority, but you also have to think about keeping them comfortable and happy during their stay, as well as how to pay for the process. For seniors, Medicare covers hospice care, but there are co-payments for prescriptions and respite care. Talking to your loved one about their final wishes is also crucial, but this can be hard for both of you, and the thought of initiating such a conversation when they’re very ill can be difficult.

Creating a plan for your loved one will help to ease both your minds, so think about the best way to start a conversation about their needs and how you can help. Talking about what your loved one wants as far as their final wishes will allow you to plan for the cost while ensuring that they’ll feel as though they are being listened to, so don’t be afraid to bring up the difficult topics.

Read on for some tips on how to get started when your loved one needs hospice care.

Have a conversation about final wishes

Understanding what your loved one wants as far as final arrangements is important and necessary. Not only will it help give them peace of mind, it will allow you to plan for a very difficult time and prepare both financially and emotionally. Start a conversation about whether your loved one has a will and find out how they want to handle their end-of-life arrangements, including the funeral and/or memorial. Since hospice care can be expensive and health insurance doesn’t always cover the cost, you’ll also need to find out whether your loved one has made arrangements for their care in the long-term.

Keep your loved one comfortable

When someone you care about is very sick, it can be extremely difficult to watch them suffer. The pain and discomfort of a terminal illness is very taxing on the body, so it’s crucial to help your loved one find a bit of comfort where they can. Soft blankets, photos of family and friends, and familiar items from home will go a long way toward helping them feel more relaxed and will boost both their mood and their mental health.

Get to know all you can about the doctors

Hospice staff are often well-trained, caring individuals who do all they can to help their patients stay comfortable, but it may help you to get to know the people who are taking care of your loved one. Ask about their training and make an effort to find out all you can about their daily routine; this will help you feel connected and involved in your loved one’s care.

Help your loved one find peace

Mental and emotional comfort is just as important as the physical. Talk to your loved one about their spiritual needs while they’re in hospice care, as this can help them come to terms with their illness in a hopeful way and ease their own grief or sadness. Encourage them to talk about their feelings, either with you or with a counselor or therapist who can help them process the overwhelming feelings that come with being in hospice care.

Hospice care can provide so much for a terminally ill individual, but it’s important to be prepared as much as possible for your loved one’s stay. Knowing what to expect will help you manage the cost, emotional burden, and grief that accompanies a very difficult time.

Author

Ms. Duncan has been a caregiver to her 85-year-old mother for quite some time, and enjoys sharing caregiving tips she has gleaned from her own experience.  You can contact June Duncan via email at june@riseupforcaregivers.org

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5 Types of Elder Abuse and How to Report Them


The Purple Jacket is pleased to welcome back guest writer Kayla Matthews

Elderly adults face unique vulnerabilities. Because their bodies are growing more infirm and their memory may not be what it used to be (even if they don’t suffer from dementia), it’s easy for people with less-than-honorable motives to prey on these individuals. As a result, senior citizens often suffer abuse at the hands of those who care for them.

Not every case of elder abuse stems from purposeful behavior intended to cause physical harm. Mental and emotional abuse can scar individuals more than physical abuse, and elder adults who can no longer care for themselves entirely on their own often find themselves financially exploited.

Here are five types of elder abuse to watch for, and, more importantly, how to intervene and report it to stop the physical or psychological violence.

1. Physical or Sexual Abuse

Physical or sexual abuse can result in serious harm, even death. Signs of physical abuse include unexplained injuries like bruises, cuts and broken bones, or, in the case of sexual abuse, frequent bladder infections and sexually-transmitted diseases.

If you suspect an elder is being physically or sexually abused, document everything carefully. Take care not to confront the abuser yourself. Keep a log of dates and symptoms you note.

Then, report the suspected abuse by contacting the police. They can help assess whether abuse is, in fact, occurring. Also, you can reach out to the National Adult Protective Services Association to report suspected abuse and get tips on how to proceed.

2. Emotional or Mental Abuse

Emotional or mental abuse consists of name-calling, bullying and psychological torture like screaming and threats. Emotional abuse often occurs when the stress of caring for an aging family member causes a pressure-cooker situation, but that doesn’t make the abuse less hurtful. Those suffering psychological abuse often withdraw and lack interest in previously pleasurable activities.

If you suspect such abuse, reach out to the Eldercare Locator to find resources to help take pressure off the abusive family member. Explore assisted living arrangements and involve the senior in the decision-making process when possible.

3. Neglect and Abandonment

Neglect may be willful or not; abandonment refers to ignoring the needs of an elderly individual altogether. Neglect often occurs when overwhelmed family members care for ailing seniors, but sometimes occurs in nursing home environments, too.

Neglect can lead to death quickly if an elderly person is without food, water and medications. Contact the local police department, and reach out to resources like community food banks and home health care providers to get the individual the food and medications they need.

4. Economic Abuse

The New Yorker recently published a scathing expose of how certain assigned senior care personnel usurp the life savings of elderly individuals by declaring them unfit to live alone and then selling their assets to cover unnecessary nursing home care.

Because laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the police may be unable to legally intervene in such cases. If you suspect a caregiver is usurping a senior loved ones’ assets on false premises, contact a qualified attorney to discuss their rights.

5. Involuntary Confinement

Involuntary confinement refers to keeping seniors isolated from their loved ones, which usually occurs when an overzealous caregiver cuts off contact with the outside world. Even if the elder is bedridden, they still need the love and support of other family and friends.

If you continually get railroaded when trying to contact your loved one, contact the police. You can also reach out to the Elder Justice locator for local legal aid as set forth by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Keeping Our Seniors Safe

It’s heartbreaking to think that people can work hard their whole lives only to encounter unspeakable abuse in their sunset years. But by taking proactive steps to report suspected elder abuse to the proper authorities, we can provide America’s elderly with the peaceful and healthy retirement they deserve.

 

Kayla Matthews:  Kaylaematthews@gmail.com

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How Seniors Can Use Medicare and Self-Care to Manage Diabetes


We welcome back guest writer June Duncan to The Purple Jacket.

Diabetes is extremely prevalent among seniors aged 65 and older, with one in four living with the disease, according to statistics cited by Senior Lifestyle. The most common diabetes among seniors is type 2 diabetes, which is caused by insulin resistance in which your body is unable to use insulin properly. Whether you’ve been living with the disease for some time or were just recently diagnosed, you’ll quickly discover just how expensive it can be. To help offset the cost and manage your diabetes, combine your Medicare coverage with proper self-care so that diabetes doesn’t hold you back from living your best life.

Educate Yourself on the Symptoms

When a sudden health issue crops up, it’s easy to dismiss it, but any sort of change in your body is your body’s way of trying to get your attention. Among seniors, the most common symptoms of type 2 diabetes are lethargy, chronic weakness, urinary tract infections, excessive thirst, numbness/tingling in the hands, arms, legs, and feet, and dental issues such as inflamed gums or mouth sores. Before you start experiencing full-on diabetic symptoms, an elevated blood glucose level is an indicator of prediabetes. Medicare Part B covers two diabetes screenings per year if a doctor notices any risk factors. You are also eligible for the two screenings if two or more of the following apply: you are age 65 and older, have a family history of diabetes or gestational diabetes, or you are overweight.

Diabetes Impacts More Than Just Glucose Levels

You already know that type 2 diabetes means your body doesn’t use insulin properly, so your body is unable to regulate your blood glucose levels. However, high blood sugar levels can cause various health complications. For example, diabetes often causes dry mouth, which can lead to gum disease and cavities. The changes in blood glucose levels can produce blurry vision, and as time passes, you are at greater risk for diabetic eye issues such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. For this reason, it is important that your Medicare coverage is working with you so that you can manage your diabetes and any health issues that may arise. Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage in areas such as dental and vision that regular Medicare doesn’t cover. If you think you could benefit from a Medicare Advantage plan, do some research on the plans available through Aetna to see if one is right for you.

Know What Medicare Covers

When it comes to coverage for diabetes, Medicare Part B and D are what you’ll need. Part B covers blood sugar testing monitors, test strips, lancets/lancet devices, blood sugar control solutions, and special diabetic footwear to help with circulation. In addition, Part B may even cover an insulin pump and insulin since it is considered durable medical equipment (DME), but you will likely have to pay 20 percent of the cost after you’ve met your deductible. Part D covers medical supplies such as syringes, needles, alcohol swabs, gauze, and inhalable insulin devices. It also covers insulin, but not if it is dispensed via an insulin pump; in this case, it could potentially be covered by Part B as DME.

Self-Care for Diabetes Management

In addition to taking your insulin and diabetes medication, diet and exercise should be an important part of your diabetes management routine. A diabetic diet isn’t much different from a regular healthy diet. It should be filled with fruits, vegetables, fiber, lean protein, and healthy carbs and fats. Also, be sure to limit sugar, salt, fat, and cholesterol. As for exercise, opt for aerobic exercise and strength training, as both help your body better use insulin and may increase your insulin sensitivity. Stress can also increase your blood sugar, so find ways to relax, such as breathing exercises, yoga, or journaling.

Managing your diabetes requires that you adopt a new lifestyle. It also requires an investment in supplies and equipment. By taking advantage of your Medicare coverage and incorporating diabetic self-care, managing your diabetes doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive.

June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is the author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.

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When Seniors Bully Seniors: How To Handle Bullying In Senior Living Communities


We welcome back guest writing Jess Walter to The Purple Jacket.

When most people think of bullying, they automatically picture children picking on other children. However, some bullies don’t outgrow their bad habits — even in old age. Senior bullying is a growing phenomenon; 10 to 20 percent of nursing home residents report being bullied by their peers. Though the problem has been around for years, it’s only recently that caregivers have started getting training on how to recognize the signs of senior bullying and how to intervene.

What Does Senior Bullying Look Like?

Bullying among seniors looks a lot like bullying among younger age groups, manifesting in different ways. It can involve physical abuse, verbal bullying (such as name-calling and taunting), or more subtle interactions like social ostracizing and gossiping. However, it’s important to note that not all combative behavior is bullying. Some individuals lash out when they’re frustrated or upset, especially when they are no longer able to communicate effectively. This occurs more frequently with seniors who have dementia.

Like younger victims of bullying, bullied seniors are significantly affected by this problematic behavior, with bullying negatively impacting mental and physical wellbeing. Common reactions to senior bullying include depression, suicidal ideation, self-isolation, and decreased ability to carry out daily activities. The impact of bullying also extends to bystanders. Individuals who witness bullying experience guilt for not intervening, which often leads to reduced self-esteem. And when bullying is allowed to continue, this fosters an atmosphere of fear and insecurity, which can lead to even more bullying and hostility.

How Can Caregivers Intervene?

First, it’s important that caregivers understand why bullying occurs. More often than not, these senior bullies began bullying when they grew younger, and just haven’t outgrown their problematic behaviors. They usually lack empathy and have very few healthy social relationships. Bullies can also torment others because they feel the need for control, which becomes more pronounced in old age, especially in communal living situations.

To prevent senior bullying incidents from occurring, caregivers can consult residents and staff to develop rules for everyone’s behavior. Caregivers can create a secure environment by being consistent and take bullying complaints seriously, firmly telling bullies that their behavior is not acceptable. It’s also a good idea to hold regular group discussions where residents can share their problems about the community and come up with solutions to address these.

Schedule meetings with a social worker or therapist so that bullies can vent their frustrations and learn how to manage their feelings in a healthy way. Bullies who pick on others to feel in control could feel better when given some responsibilities, such as forming a committee or heading some activities. Caregivers can also help bullies make better social relationships by enabling them to express their wants and needs respectfully and positively.

Because many bullies struggle with a lack of empathy, caregivers can come up with programs to encourage kind and caring behavior. For example, you could give prizes to residents who treat people with exceptional kindness and caring. This will encourage residents to treat others with kindness and respect, paving the way to a peaceful and happy community.

Jess Walter is a freelance health and nutrition writer who spent over a decade working in the healthcare industry.  You can contact Jess at jesswalterwriter@gmail.com

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How to Take the Next Step in Your Career as a Carer


Carers have an incredibly difficult job. Even those who have gone into the vocation of carer with a career in mind will face struggles. From emotional, to physical, the job of a carer is not easy. If you feel fulfilled doing it, however, it can be a very rewarding job. Those that need extra help around the house, with learning, or with dealing with their medical chores will be eternally grateful to you. When it comes to making a difference for others, carers are at the front of the line.

Types of Carers

Generally speaking, there are three main branches of carers outside of the medical industry.

·         Adult Carers

These disability carers take care of adults or seniors who need extra care or support going about their day. They can be friends or family, or you can be hired specifically to help those with advanced needs at their home.

·         Child Educator Carers

Children with disabilities, special needs, or learning disabilities are still children who deserve to learn, which is why child educator carers exist. These carers teach as well as care for their patients to ensure they receive an education and are cared for appropriately while they are at school.

·         End-of-Life Carers

End of life carers can either work in a hospice or at the home of a person in need. Their jobs are some of the most emotionally taxing, as the expectation is that you will be there to care for them right up until their death.

Deciding Which Career Route is Best for You

It can be difficult to choose which career route is best for you, but thankfully, most roles bleed into one another. The only exception, of course, is when you want to teach children who have advanced needs. You will need to achieve certifications both to be a carer and to teach.

How to Further Your Career

To further your career, you have several options.

·         Go Back to School

This is ideal for teachers who wish to specialize and therefore improve the value of their skills. With Merrimack teaching degrees, you can either obtain an M.Ed. in Moderate Disabilities or achieve an add-on license.

·         Network

Networking is essential for every career, especially if you are working on a freelance basis. You need to build up your client list or find your way into a great agency so that you can find consistent work, are paid appropriately, and above all else have a support group behind you that you can turn to if a patient’s death or suffering hurts you.

·         Visit Conferences and Events

Conferences, events, and other industry-related workshops are great ways to improve your career. They are also essential networking opportunities, so either buy a ticket yourself or convince your employer to sponsor you.

·         Know How to Negotiate

Last but not least, remember that you will need to negotiate. This means negotiating your salary, or even for a day off. You have needs as well, and you need to take care of those needs so that you can, in turn, provide the best care for your patients.

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A Guide for Carers: How to Continue Your Education


Carers have a huge responsibility on their plate. Their jobs can be incredibly difficult, demanding, and draining. For those who care for a loved one, it can even put your own career on hold. Thankfully, there are many online and part-time opportunities available for you so that you can take care of an aging parent without sacrificing your dreams.

It will take a lot of work, and you will also need to learn some key time management skills, but with the resources and support available you can continue your education while still ensuring your loved one receives the best care possible at your hands.

Know Your Options

Nowadays, there are many options to choose from when it comes to continuing your education. You can enroll in:

·         Night School –  Night school is the traditional route, which requires you to attend class after your working hours so you can fit it around your current job and responsibilities.

·         Part-Time – Part-time is more flexible and better for those who work freelance or unpredictable hours.

·         Online Degrees –  With online degrees, however, you can get the benefits of both night school and part-time with the added benefit of reduced commuting costs. Online degrees are offered by some of the top institutions around the world and are perfect whether you want a business degree or history degree. You can enroll right now to any of Bank Street’s online degree programs and take the first step towards continuing your education today. As it is done online, you can manage your carer responsibilities and your course load all at once without leaving your loved one home alone and vulnerable.

How to Juggle Caring Responsibilities and School

Now all that is left is trying to handle both your job as a carer and the course load that comes with an MA degree. Here are four different ways that you can do this.

1.    Invest in More Help

You do not have to take care of your loved one by yourself. You might need to invest in government aid or seek out the help of a sibling or other relative to make it easier for you.

2.    Ensure You Are Getting Your Caregiver’s Allowance

If you are caring for a loved one, who has advanced medical needs, ensure that you are getting the caregiver’s allowance. This allowance isn’t offered to everyone, but if you do apply, you can receive money to help you offset the costs and make it easier for you to sustain yourself.

3.    Work out a Set Number of Hours Every Day

You will want to schedule a set number of hours every day to focus on your degree. As you cannot predict what your loved one will need as the days go on, try to commit a few hours in the morning and a few hours at night.

4.    Look After Your Own Health

Above all else, remember that you need to care for your own health during this time. Being a carer can be stressful, and adding on an online degree, you can easily burn out.

You should never have to give up your life to take care of someone else. Instead, use the opportunities available to you to continue your education online and don’t be afraid to ask for help or take advantage of government support.

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How Caregivers Can Keep Cancer Patients Safe at Home


The Purple Jacket is pleased to welcome back guest writer, Kayla Matthews!

The cancer diagnosis is just the beginning of a long and difficult road for those with the disease. Many treatment plans include rounds of chemotherapy, a method used by doctors to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Along with that comes a slew of side effects, of which they and their caretaker should be made aware.

Indeed, it will be the caretaker’s job to ensure the chemotherapy patient stays safe when they’re not at their treatments. In the hospital, nurses know how to handle their patients carefully and keep everything sanitary. Once the patient goes home, though, it’s up to their caretaker to keep everything clean and safe for both the person fighting cancer and those around them. Here’s what to do if you’re stepping up for someone you know in chemo:

1. Know Chemo’s Side Effects

Depending on the way chemo is administered, a person can experience a range of side effects. Many people feel nauseous, or they vomit after receiving the medication. Of course, this all depends on the dosage and type of chemotherapy a person gets. As a caregiver, you should be aware of the typical side effects you can expect.

Plus, you should know that chemotherapy drugs stay around in a patient’s bodily fluids for up to seven days post-treatment. Everything from vomit to urine to blood will have traces of the drug, and those not on chemotherapy should avoid contact.

2. Clean up Properly

You’ll have to learn how to sanitize your home in the week following a chemotherapy treatment. Once a patient has a spill of any bodily fluid, start by putting on a pair of disposable gloves and wiping it up with a cloth. Double-bag the used material before throwing it into the trashcan to be extra safe. If the spill splashed onto a floor, use soap and water or naturally disinfect it with vinegar to clean up the spot after it has been wiped up with the aforementioned cloth.

If the same spills occur on a bed sheet or pillowcase, you can salvage them after a long wash on either a hot or cold cycle. Make sure the chemo patient puts the lid down before flushing the toilet, and invest in a bucket you’ll use during nauseous moments mid-chemo. Once the treatment’s over, dispose of the bucket.

3. Follow the Treatment Plan

Your chemo patient will have an in-depth treatment plan, which includes the drugs they receive from their doctor directly and the medications they supplement at home. You should make yourself familiar with this plan too, so you know your loved one gets what they need when they need it. Be sure to check the medication’s storage requirements as well so the treatment doesn’t lose any of its efficacy with improper placement. The drugs have to go somewhere safe where kids or pets cannot accidentally ingest them.

4. Remember the Good to Come

No matter how happy-go-lucky a person may be, a cancer diagnosis — and the subsequent treatment — can be draining. As a caregiver, it’s up to you to also be a cheerleader. Remind your loved one what life will be like afterward, especially focusing on the joy that will come with survival. It’s the beginning of a tough road, but it’s not the end, and you should remind them of this as often as possible.

As you can see, the job of a caregiver is equal parts medical and emotional. Yes, you have to ensure they take their medicine on time and keep their living quarters sanitary, but you also have to serve as a support system in one of life’s most trying times. However, if you signed up for the role, it means you have the heart to do it — and now, you know the practical requirements of the job, too.

Kayla Matthews:  Kaylaematthews@gmail.com

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How to Transition from Floor Nurse to Healthcare Administration


If you’re a registered nurse, moving into healthcare administration can be an attractive career move. It provides excellent benefits and a good work schedule. You could supervise other nurses and advise the facility’s management on policy changes. You could work to make the ward the place nurses wish it was. This could also open up the door to positions in higher in management as well. Let’s take a look at what it takes to make the transition from floor nurse to healthcare administration.

Earn the Requisite Qualifications

Some people say that you’re only a nurse if you’re at the patient’s bedside. However, less than two thirds of nurses work as staff nurses or charge nurses. About one in six works in management or administration. Less than two percent are nurse educators. The remainder works in every other role imaginable from school nurses to consulting.
Moving into roles other than staff nursing requires training and education to prepare you for it. The best qualification for registered nurses is earning a master’s in health administration. You can pursue your MHA online so that you can continue to work while learning what you must know to move into administration. Getting your MHA program this way will be much less demanding, and takes far less time than trying to earn a dual master’s in business administration and nursing. Boston College has an online MHA program tailor made for healthcare professionals who would like to make the transition. You can learn more about it at the following link: http://onlinemha.bc.edu/masters-in-health-care-administration/.

Determine Which Role You Want to Fill

Becoming a medical administrator requires at least a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s in healthcare administration is considered the most desirable. The next question is where you want to go. Nursing administrators are not just the head of nursing departments. They are often found in laboratories, healthcare facilities like nursing homes, and doctor’s offices. You could work as a clinical coordinator or move into administration in forensic science. Once you’re qualified, the next step is deciding which jobs you’ll want to apply for.

Keep Up Your Certifications

Earning the master’s degrees considered necessary to work in administration doesn’t mean that you’re done. You’ll often be required to keep your certifications as a nurse up to date. This includes but isn’t limited to your RN license, CPR certifications, and basic life support certifications. If you earn optional nursing administration credentials, you’ll have to complete continuing education credits to maintain those as well. Fortunately, if you earned a master’s degree in healthcare administration, you’re exempt from the continuing education requirement for three years.

Keep Up with Everything Else You Need to Know

Nursing administrators face constantly evolving medical technology, government regulations, organizational rules and business practices. You’ll have to be able to complete documentation on whatever system the health records are maintained on while handling routine issues like staff evaluations, hiring new people, and ensuring that they’re trained. You may still need to assist with patient care from time to time; this is why maintaining your nursing certifications is essential though you’re moving into management.
Floor nursing may be the stereotypical job for nurses, but you can move into management with the right credentials. You may then be able to move up in the organization or make a lateral career move into whatever role you think is best.

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Care Gaps and How They Affect


Patients in the United States
In an ideal world, every person in need of quality healthcare would receive outstanding care and service. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are a variety of methods for measuring the quality of care received, one thing is certain: gaps in healthcare exist across incomes, states and regions.

Tens of millions of people in the United States experience what are known as care gaps, which can manifest in many ways. While the effects are numerous, the end result can impact everything from quality of life to life expectancy.
As such, healthcare providers and patients alike have vested interest in uncovering what care gaps are, how they impact patients, and what can be done to equalize outcomes. Let’s examine the concept of care gaps and how they’re impacting public health in the US.

Examples of Care Gaps

Perhaps the most common definition of care gaps is situations where individuals are not receiving the recommended services and care that their age, gender or health status indicate as necessary. This can be anything from mammograms and prostate exams to regular check-ups and cancer screenings.

Because preventative care is both more affordable and more effective than treatment, both individuals and insurers have a vested interest in leveling this playing field. However, all too often, care gaps appear and then continue to grow in scope. Healthcare Finance News reports that providers should simply try to get these patients into the office, and use this as an opportunity to work through whatever logistics are leading to their individual care gaps.

Another example of care gaps – though different in scope – relate to managerial and bureaucratic inefficiencies. Often referred to as “paper gaps”, these inefficiencies are not inherently the result of a lack of care, but they can be present under select situations. Anywhere from one-fifth to one-half of the actual care gap in a given area can be due to quality management issues. Thankfully, these kinds of gaps are much easier to fix than tangible care-related gaps.

Te Impact on Individuals and Healthcare

Regular healthcare check-ups, screenings and simple access to medical services as needed are exponentially powerful in improving quality of life. Particularly among those who are between the ages of 50 and 65, care gaps mean increased spending for healthcare providers and patients alike. One report discovered that patients affected by care gaps only amount to around one-quarter of the population, yet end up comprising roughly 40 percent of future healthcare costs. Roughly $250 billion per year in lost economic productivity is contributed to care gaps within the US health sector.
While the cost factor is a major consideration for healthcare insurance providers and the federal government, the effects on quality of life are arguably much more important. It is estimated that approximately 35,000 Americans die each year from diseases that could have been prevented or treated if caught sooner.

Care gaps are real, they cost the US economy hundreds of billions each year, and the effects on patients are devastating. While some of the care gap can be attributed to poor record keeping and a lack of analytical prowess, much of this relates to income and availability of medical services within communities. Healthcare professionals must take proactive steps to intervene with patients as needed to shrink this tragic reality.

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