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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How to Keep Your Body Healthy as You Age


There is no way to stop aging. Though it is often seen negatively, with many people wishing to grasp onto their youth, there is a certain beauty in having lived a life full of great memories and special moments.

However, you would be lucky to encounter next to no health problems when you begin to age, as your body becomes more vulnerable to chronic conditions and health threats. It can be easy to feel as though you are fighting a losing battle when it comes to aging, but there is a multitude of ways in which you can keep your body healthy in your everyday life.

If you are struggling to find ways of doing this, you should take note of some ever-important advice.

  1. Watch out for health problems

No matter what age you are, people have a habit of ignoring their body when there are clear problems that need addressing. As you get older, these problems can impact your quality of life more if they are not resolved. Though you should bear in mind common health problems like fatigue and indigestion, you should also note any symptoms of issues like arthritis, which are more prevalent in the older generations. Among the most common of these are blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks. Taking a low-dose aspirin like Cartia can reduce the risk of having blood clots to begin with.

  1. Visit your doctor often

Spotting these problems is one thing, but doing something about them is another. Although certain remedies can be made and enjoyed at home, there will be times when it is better to seek support from your doctor.

While it is a good idea to speak to a medical professional at the first sign of a health problem, it is better to go for regular check-ups with your local doctor. This means they can check if everything is in working order, and they can give you some handy tips on how you can improve your health at home. Perhaps most importantly, they can spot any underlying health problems that you may not have noticed yourself.

  1. Exercise regularly

Having regular exercise is something that everyone can benefit from. As you age, there is no exception, but there are changes you must make to your exercise routine if you want to maximize your health.

Though you should aim for maintaining a healthy weight, you should also remember that high-impact sports may do more harm to your bones and muscles than good. Instead, you should find some gentler sports to participate in a few times a week. For example, exercises like Pilates can improve your bone and muscle health, without the strain that sports like weightlifting may afford. It has also been proven to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, which is something your body will need as time goes on.

  1. Spend time outside

It is a sad truth that many older people spend less time outdoors than they did before. Mostly, this is due to adverse weather conditions increasing their risk of having an accident. Yet there are many benefits your body can enjoy by spending as much time in the great outdoors as you can. Ideally, you should try and spend a few minutes in the sun each day with sunscreen on, so your body can glean all the Vitamin D it needs for youthful skin. You might consider combining exercise and the natural world by going on long walks, where your body can absorb lots of oxygen and your mental wellbeing will also improve.

  1. Eat a balanced diet

Rarely is regular exercise recommended without having a balanced diet on the side. In fact, your body will need lots of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants to keep it healthy. It is easy to find such nutrients in colorful fruits and vegetables, but lean meats and carbohydrates are also an essential part of any diet. Every day, you should dedicate some time to cooking easy, wholesome meals, which will ensure you are getting all the goodness you need.

One thing you should never neglect from your diet is water, as drinking above the recommended daily intake will keep your body free from toxins and prevent your skin from showing signs of aging.

  1. Cut out unhealthy foods

Though there are many foods you should make a conscious effort with to include in your diet, there are some others which should be cut out when you get older. It is imperative to enjoy some of your favorite foods sometimes, but this should not be all the time, as foods rich in fats, salt and caffeine can only cause more health problems than it is worth. This is also the same with alcohol and any other dangerous substances, which can put a big strain on your heart and mind over time.

  1. Sleep more

Fatigue is something that people of any age can experience, but it is, unfortunately, something that becomes more common as you age. You may find new ways of stopping this fatigue, such as having peppermint tea to wake you up every morning, but you must also listen to your body.

If you are feeling tired, it is wise to make some time to sleep, so your body can regain enough energy to enjoy the activities you love. Eating a nutrient-rich diet and following a good exercise routine are both great ways of tackling this problem.

  1. Prioritize your mental wellbeing

One of the biggest myths out there is that your mind and body are separate. What affects your mental wellbeing will also affect your body, such as when depression leads to severe episodes of fatigue. It may also be true that you get lonelier as you get older, which can have some impact on your mental health.

When it comes to prioritizing your wellbeing, you should make time to practice self-care, like reading your favorite book or seeing old friends. Giving yourself small moments of happiness will have a positive effect on your brain, and therefore your body.

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5 Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout


Serving as a caregiver to an ailing family member takes a lot of both physical and emotional resources. No matter how much you love the person, the extra work and stress take a toll. Caregiver burnout is a common concern. There are about 43.5 million unpaid caregivers in the United States. Family caregivers spend over 24 hours a week caring for their loved ones. If the person lives with their caregiver, the average hours go up to more than 40 hours a week.

That level of hands-on care is like adding a high-stress full-time job on top of the other tasks the person may have on their packed schedule. Burnout is a real issue and one that many caregivers experience. Symptoms of caregiver burnout include:

1. Feeling Irritable

Caregiving is physically demanding in some cases, which can lead to physical exhaustion. In addition, you may feel worried about your ailing parent or child and not sleep well. The combination of exhaustion and stress leads to irritability that can hurt both you and the person you take care of. If you find yourself easily aggravated, you likely aren’t getting enough rest.

The solution is to find at least a few hours a week where you can get away from it all and relax. You might have to hire a nurse to come in for a few hours or ask for help from another family member. Taking time to refresh your inner being allows you to better care for your loved one the rest of the week.

2. Withdrawal From Friends and Activities

Working long hours without recognition leads to burnout just as it does in an outside job. Caregiving is often a thankless job. The person you’re caring for may feel too ill to explain their appreciation or may not have the mental faculties to express their gratitude. As you start to feel hopeless over the situation and unappreciated, you may pull away from friends who don’t have the same burdens. Going to the activities you enjoyed in the past may seem like just one more thing you have to do.

Find at least one good friend to confide in about how you’re feeling. Talking to others who’ve been through the caregiving process not only makes you feel understood but gives you tips from someone who’s been through it.

3. Feeling Hopeless

If you’re caring for an elderly parent, they may have multiple doctors all telling you something different. The prognosis might not be a positive one, and you may also grieve the waning time you have left with someone you love dearly. Feelings of hopelessness are common in caregivers.

Take the time to talk to medical professionals about the exact prognosis for your loved one. You can engage with numerous healthcare experts, look up informational videos, or attend caregiving keynote events. This could help you clear up some of your concerns or at least some new ways to deal with the disease.

4. Changes in Appetite

You’re busy running here and there and everywhere. Your diet may grow poor, either filled with processed, unhealthy food or lack of meals. Empathetic people have a hard time putting themselves first and may take care of their loved one and not take care of themselves.

If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s hard to take care of someone else. If you get sick, what will your loved with do? Is there anyone else who would step up and take your place? Make your own health a priority. Eat regular meals and make sure they’re nutrient filled.

5. Attitude Changes

If you’ve always been an upbeat person and suddenly you’re making cynical comments and having nasty internal thoughts, then you might be approaching burnout. Studies show that the psychological effects are more intensive than the physical effects of caregiving.

If you notice your attitude has changed from an upbeat one to a negative one, that’s a sign of burnout. Don’t feel afraid to ask for help with the overwhelming amount of tasks you have to complete. Make a list of responsibilities and figure out who could help with some of them and reduce your burden.

Burnout Doesn’t Mean Failure

Caregiver burnout is simply your body’s way of telling you that you need to slow down and take a break. It doesn’t mean you don’t love the person dearly or that you’re a bad person in any way. Listen to what your brain and body are telling you, ask for help if you need it and seek out people in similar situations who can serve as a sounding board and resource to draw upon.

Kayla Matthews is a lifestyle and productivity writer whose work has been featured on Lifehacker, The Next Web, MakeUseOf and Inc.com. You can read more posts from Kayla on her blog, Productivity Theory.

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How to Care For Yourself When Caring For Someone With Alzheimer’s


The first step in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is caring for yourself. After all, you can only give away something you already possess. Yet taking care of a person facing cognitive decline can tax the abilities of even the most devoted among us.

We can’t wave a magic wand and make the issues you’re facing disappear. But we can offer some tips to help you bear up, even when the burden seems unbearable. So let’s look at ways to care for yourself while you’re caring for another.

Step One: Know the Risks

No soldier goes into battle without knowing the hazards ahead of time. This is just as true for those who fight on the frontlines of human need. So let’s look at the challenges you’re likely to face during times to come:

  • Irregular sleep patterns or insufficient rest. Caregivers must respond to situations as they present themselves, whether that’s in the light of day or the middle of the night.
  • Missed meals or unhealthy foods. You may get so wrapped up in the other person’s needs that you forget to eat. Or you may find yourself pressed for time and eating whatever is at hand, which isn’t always the healthiest option.
  • Chronic mental or physical health issues. Caregivers are at elevated risk for problems like clinical depression, according to the National Caregivers Alliance (NCA).

We mention these facts, not to discourage you, but to help you to prepare for the challenges ahead. Now let’s look at how to equip yourself for the task.

Step Two: Educate Yourself

Most people are better able to deal with challenges when they know a little about what they’re facing. So begin by learning about Alzheimer’s: its causes, its symptoms, and how it affects patients over the course of time. This will help you to marshal your resources when you need them the most.

Step Three: Ask for Help in the Right Way

By this we mean asking for help with specific duties like preparing foods, washing clothes, giving medications, and tending to the patient’s personal needs. This will help to avoid miscommunications and enable others to know how best they can support your efforts.

Do you own a dog? Pets provide comfort and companionship when you need them most. They can lift your spirits and relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. But sometimes it’s best to let someone else handle your pup’s needs, at least on occasion. For example, letting a dog walker take your pooch for a stroll can save you from having to multitask at the worst possible time.

Step Four: Take Time Out, Even If It’s Only a Few Minutes

Taking a timeout is essential for performing any task well, according to HuffPost. So give yourself permission to step away for a while and get your head together. This will help you to help the person for whom you’re caring.

Step Five: Remember You’re Not Alone

More than 5,000,000 Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. For each of those people, there’s someone else whose job is to provide the best possible care the situation allows. This means there are hundreds of thousands of people going through trials similar to yours. Many of these folks meet together, either online or in person, to offer support and a sympathetic ear. Reach out to one of these groups if you can. You may find the help you need to keep going. You might even form treasured friendships that last the rest of your life.

Being a caregiver is never easy. It will test your limits at times. But it can also reveal to you strengths and abilities you never knew you had. We wish you all the best as you travel with your loved one through the days to come.

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 author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.  June can be reached at June Duncan <june@riseupforcaregivers.org>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to travel the world in your 60s


Just because you are getting older it doesn’t mean that your traveling days are over. Of course, you might need to slow down a bit and work around your physical limitations, but visiting different places around the world and exploring new cultures in your 60’s is definitely possible. To help you navigate through big cities and go on new adventures, here is our list of useful tips for senior travelers.

  1. Make Smart Connections

Instead of making connections in massive airports where you’ll need to drag your suitcases through multiple terminals, choose a smaller airport for a better and easier flight connection. You will also save valuable time and avoid long lines at the passport control.

  1. Get Travel Insurance

As a senior traveler, you are more likely to need travel insurance. In case you get sick or need extra medication, investing in a medical insurance while traveling overseas might come in handy. Senior travelers with pre-existing conditions should pay attention on the type of medical services that are covered in their insurance.

  1. Watch What You Eat

Travelers in their 60s are known to have more sensitive stomachs and some of them are on restricted diets. Therefore, it is necessary to watch what you eat while traveling the world. It is recommended to avoid spicy food, as well as dishes with high levels of cholesterol. In case you are taking any medication, make sure to talk to your doctor before the trip and find out if these medications interfere with certain foods.

  1. Pack Light

If you are a senior traveler in your 60s, make sure to pack light. This means taking fewer clothing items and fitting everything inside a roll-aboard suitcase. Instead of dragging your big bag through airports and having to carry heavy luggage to your hotel room, try to pack only the necessities and fit them all in two smaller bags.

  1. Accommodation

If you have mobility problems and find it difficult to climb stairs, request a room on the ground floor. Senior travelers should also book accommodation which is close to their arrival point. Staying in the city center comes with many advantages and provides easy access to major sightseeing attractions.

  1. Medications and Health

The best thing to do is take a full supply of all the necessary medication with you. There is a chance that a pharmacy in a foreign country doesn’t have the medication you are taking and running out of medication during your travel is definitely not something you want to happen. Travelers with hearing aids should bring extra batteries, as it can be quite difficult to find a specific size on other continents.

  1. Take Advantage of Senior Discounts

The great thing about being a senior traveler is that you are eligible for a variety of discounts. All you need to do is show your passport and ask if there are discounts available for senior citizens and tourists. From concert tickets to entry fees to sightseeing attractions, there are many places that offer senior discounts. If you are traveling to Europe, countries like Belgium, Austria, Germany, and Italy offer rail discounts to holders of a senior card which can be purchased at the local train station. If you wish to make some extra cash while traveling, you can always rent out your empty driveway as a parking spot.

To sum it all up, it’s relatively easy to travel the world when you’re old. Whether you are a senior citizen who is visiting his relatives in a city across the state or an elderly person who is planning to travel to a different continent and explore new things, these tips will definitely help you on your travels.

Sarah Kearns is a hard working mother of three daughters. She is a Senior Communications Manager for BizDb, an online resource with information about businesses in the UK. She loves cooking, reading history books and writing about green living.

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What Evidence Do I Need When Making a Personal Injury Claim?


If you have suffered a personal injury due to the negligence of another person or entity, then you could be entitled to compensation. While this will not heal your injury, it can be of great help, particularly if the injury has led to any kind of financial strain such as loss of earnings or expensive medical and equipment bills. In addition to this, a personal injury claim will hold those responsible accountable for their actions and could stop a similar accident happening again in the future to somebody else. In order to win your case, you will need evidence to prove that they are accountable; this is what you will need.

Photographs

Photographs are hard evidence, so it is good to have as many as possible. These should include pictures of the accident site which show the immediate aftermath, as well as photographs of your injuries and any subsequent scarring.

Witness Statements

Claims are a lot stronger if there are witnesses who can back you up. Witness statements should be collated from anyone who saw or heard the accident or anyone that can attest that the conditions leading up to the incident were unsafe.

Medical Records

You will also need medical records from your doctor or from the hospital if you needed any emergency surgery. Additionally, injury specialists like the-compensation-experts.co.uk may suggest that you get an assessment from an independent medical expert.

Reports

If any of the emergency services attended the scene of the accident, then you will need to gather their report. If the injury was sustained at work, then you will need to obtain a copy of the RIDDOR accident report.

Diary

It is also helpful if you maintain a diary that details how the injury has interfered with your daily life, how it has progressed and anything that you now need assistance doing, such as getting dressed or going to the bathroom.

Receipts

You should also keep receipts for any expenses that have occurred as a result of your injury. This could include travel costs, mobility products, and so on.

Diagrams

Diagrams of how the incident happened can also be helpful to give a clear overview of what happened. Doing this is particularly valuable if it is a traffic accident.

Proof of Ownership

If you have property that was damaged as a result of the injury, like a car or bike, you will need proof of ownership and details of belongings which you are claiming compensation for.

These are the main items that you will need when making a personal injury claim. The more evidence that you have which clearly shows that your injury was sustained because of the negligence of the defendant, the better. Hard evidence such as photographs and witness statements are particularly important, but you may still make a successful claim without all of the above. In addition to the above evidence, you should also approach a respected and experienced law firm that has solicitors that specialize in the type of injury that you have sustained because this can be of big help.

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The Importance of Community


 

Recently, my community suffered a significant loss. A beloved local teacher lost his fight with cancer, and the entire town mourned. You’d barely be able to find a family his kindness and warmth didn’t touch. He taught tech-ed for many years, and he always managed to engage and empower his students — even those who weren’t particularly into the subject matter.

His loss was a deep one for the community, but there was a bright spot. His family received an outpouring of support and love that buoyed them in the hard times following his death.

This teacher’s passing is one example of why being part of a tight-knit community is so important. Community upholds you in the tough times and cheers you on in the good times. It’s particularly vital for people like parents and those who are caring for someone ill. These caregivers often pull great strength from their community in a few different ways.

Children as Pint-Sized Mood-Boosters

Every community includes children, and sometimes, these small-but-mighty members are pillars of the community, in a way. Kids that are well cared for usually wake up in an innate state of happiness each day.

A child’s natural tendency toward happiness is a big asset to the community. When adults get bogged down by the weight of a situation or the responsibilities of living in the grown-up world, a child chasing around bubbles or singing a song can instantly inspire a smile.

Strength in Solidarity

If you or someone you know is a caregiver, particularly for an older adult or someone suffering from illness, you know social support is imperative for caregivers. Putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own and watching them deteriorate is a grueling act of love and kindness.

When caregivers share their stories, even if they’re sometimes rather bleak, they remind other caregivers they’re not alone. In fact, some websites exist entirely to connect caregivers in a community in this way.

Building Community Through Social Media

Social media is an easy way to stay in touch with your community if you’re a caregiver, parent or anyone else who needs support. It’s particularly helpful because it’s easy — you don’t even have to leave the house to engage with other members of your community.

And while standard social media sites like Facebook offer groups you can join to connect with other people in similar situations, some social media platforms focus on caregivers exclusively. For instance, the Caregiver Action Network allows you to share your inspiring story, listen to those of others and enjoy some uplifting from motivational speakers.

When tragedy strikes, you might be tempted to curl up in a ball and hide from the world. But if the passing of our beloved local teacher has taught me anything, it’s that you should do the exact opposite.

When you reach out to the community in times of trouble — or even in times of victory — you’ll always receive an outpouring of support, often from people who understand exactly what you’re experiencing.

Kayla Matthews is a lifestyle and productivity writer whose work has been featured on Lifehacker, The Next Web, MakeUseOf and Inc.com. You can read more posts from Kayla on her blog, Productivity Theory.

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How to Best Communicate With Someone Who Has Alzheimer’s


If someone you know or care about has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you are probably already preparing for the ways your relationship will change. Alzheimer’s disease, as defined by Psychology Today, is a progressive, neurocognitive disease characterized by memory loss, language deterioration, impaired ability to mentally manipulate visual information, poor judgment, confusion, restlessness, and mood swings. It is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly.

With these symptoms impacting your relationship with the person afflicted, you will benefit to know how to best communicate with someone who has Alzheimer’s.

Effects on Communication at Different Stages

The stage at which someone’s illness has progressed may impact your best tactic for communication. Alzheimer’s disease facts outline the stages by which communication is affected.

In the early onset of the disease, the person may find it difficult to say the right words and will use familiar words repeatedly, even describing objects because they cannot recall the words they aim to speak. Speech challenge progressions will include losing train of thought easily and difficulty forming a coherent sentence.

If the patient is multi-lingual, they may also start speaking their birth language. An Alzheimer’s disease fact is that the patient may speak less often and rely on gestures instead of speech. One of the perplexing attributes of the disease is how differently it affects each person.

Be Patient

In most early stage patients with Alzheimer’s, they will have the ability to communicate with others. You should make every attempt to maintain conversation, just with more patience. Still look at your friend or family member directly and in the eye when speaking to them, and wait for their response. Try to refrain from jumping in while they are talking as they may take longer to form and articulate their thought and you could throw off their answer. Make your conversation reciprocal, asking questions to continue the dialogue.

As their Alzheimer’s disease progresses, it is possible that with the aforementioned changes in speech, their stories may present as incoherent or unlikely to be realistic. It is still best that you help them to continue the conversation. Don’t be argumentative, even if you know the story they are sharing isn’t theirs, they are calling you by the wrong name, or other common communication challenges.

Alzheimer’s disease facts outline that the patient may develop delusions (false beliefs despite a lack of evidence of truth) and hallucinations (like a waking dream without outward stimuli) in their current or recall. Caring.com outlines that the patient doesn’t realize that the memories or stories they are sharing aren’t true. They are not lying, they are victim to the effects of their disease.

Ask How the Person Prefers to Communicate

The experts at Alzheimers.org suggest learning how the patient prefers to communicate. As they may themselves grow frustrated with the challenges of speech, they may prefer to talk over the phone rather than in person, or be most at ease communicating via text or email.

It is beneficial to the patient to continue to communicate in any form. By trying to speak, recall words and stories, their brains are remaining active.

Triumphs in speech can also have a positive emotional response for the patient. Reports have shown that remaining socially and cognitively active may help build the cognitive reserve of a patient with Alzheimer’s. While it cannot cure or reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s, it can help to reduce depression, apathy, sleeplessness and other side effects such as challenges swallowing.

It may be difficult for you to watch your friend or loved one change through the disease, but your presence and efforts are essential to their treatment and care.

Keep Questions and Task Instructions Simple

In opening dialogue with an Alzheimer’s patient, it may be helpful to ask simple yes or no questions. By removing the more complicated open-ended thoughts, the patient may be more at ease in evaluating the question and associating their answer.

So rather than asking, “What would you like for a snack?” ask a series of questions and be patient for each answer. For example, “Would you like a snack?” To a yes, you might follow by asking – even showing – the options, “Would you like a piece of cheese?” If the answer is no, offer and show another option.

This slower step-by-step thought process can help in communicating. If physical examples aren’t on hand such as you’re ordering or going to another location to pick up food, you can try to write down options, or use flash cards.

Likewise, if providing task instructions, offer steps slowly and articulately, one at a time. Saying to a patient that it is “time to go” could lead to confusion or lack of direction. Instead, taking them through the task list can lead to results and understanding.

Ask if they have their shoes on? If they don’t, talk them through locating and putting on their shoes. Do they have a sweater or coat? Do they have their keys, wallet or purse? The same mental checklist that you might go through before preparing to leave or a similar task list will be helpful to an Alzheimer’s patient when presented slowly, clearly, and patiently.

Connect Directly

In the mid- and late-stages of Alzheimer’s, a patient may need your further reassurances. It is likely that to engage you will need to reintroduce yourself upon each visit, even when speaking to a close relative or lifelong friend. Be patient but respectful – remember, it’s the disease and out of their control. Maintain eye contact after your re-introduction and assist in communication with verbal and visual clues. You may also need to engage all senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and/or smell, to be sure they are understanding you.

Listen Carefully

As it is an incurable, progressive disease, Alzheimer’s disease facts state that it will become more challenging to communicate with a patient. Even as you ask shorter yes/no questions, use visual aids and other clues, responses to questions or stories shared may be harder to understand. Try to listen to the sentiment of what the patient is telling you, not only the words.

It’s possible that they will mix up words but the context of their story is where you can engage. Or you can read their happiness, sadness, or other emotions. Sometimes, a caregiver who is with the patient regularly can also help you to communicate. And most of all, being there to lend your continued support and care are what is most important to helping them through this difficult disease.

 

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How to Pace Yourself as a Caregiver in Day-to-Day Life


If you’ve suddenly found yourself thrown into the role of caregiver in your family, you cropped-wp-pj-banner-e1532350609729might be feeling overwhelmed. There’s no doubt that you have a lot to do in your day-to-day life and if you’ve just had the responsibility of caring for an elderly family member, your world might be turning upside down. Or, perhaps you have been caring for an aging family member for some time and have started to notice that the tasks are consuming your life. Whether you are just starting out as a caregiver, or you have been doing it for many years, there are lots of things you can do to pace yourself so that you can enjoy your own life, and help make the last few years of a senior’s life meaningful, as well. Here are a few ideas to help you pace yourself as a first-time or long-time caregiver.

Always Eat Your Breakfast First

While you might be tempted to start your day ensuring that the senior in your life is dressed and fed first, you need to ensure that you are keeping up your morning routine by getting yourself ready and getting yourself a healthy, balanced breakfast first. Once the caregiving portion of your day starts, it can quickly be hijacked by responsibility and unforeseen circumstances, such as a cold or flu or a forgotten doctor’s appointment. Before you know it, it’ll be noon and you won’t have eaten a bite all morning. So be sure to take the time to care for yourself first thing in the morning and stick to it. It might mean getting up a few minutes early to enjoy a wholesome meal, but make the time to do it each day.

Afternoon Breaks

It’s not uncommon for many seniors to drift into a nap in the early afternoon, particularly after lunch or a heavy meal. Isn’t that true of all of us, though? So if you find that the senior you are taking care of has a tendency to take a nap after lunch, or even mid-afternoon, make the most of that time and do something for yourself to bring you back to your world. If you have kids at home, this might be the time of day when you go to school to pick them up. It’s not a lot of time, but getting to see them on a regular basis will help you maintain a sense of routine in your life. Or, perhaps you’ll enjoy your lunch during afternoon nap time so that you can catch up on your favorite television shows and enjoy a meal in the quiet of the afternoon. Whatever it is that you choose to do with that time, be sure to take or make breaks for yourself throughout the afternoon.

Suppertime Relief

One of the best things you can do for yourself to pace yourself throughout the day is arrange for another family member or caregiver to come during or after the evening meal times. This will allow you to go home to your family and spend some quality time with them. If your senior family member is actually residing with you, then it still important to arrange for additional caregiving after the evening meal so that you can tend to your needs. Perhaps you need to run errands for your family, or you need to attend a special dinner for a friend. Many caregivers get caught up in the 24/7 environment of caregiving because they feel like they need to do everything themselves. It’s so important to take care of yourself as a caregiver and try to retain some sense of routine in your own life, while caring for someone else.

Final Thoughts

So whether you have just started your journey as a caregiver, or you have been in the “business” for many years, there’s no need to let yourself and your self-care fall to the wayside. Paying attention to what you need, following a calendar so that you know what and when you need to do things for yourself and your family, and ensuring you take regular breaks are all important things to consider as you continue on your journey as a caregiver. Be sure to check in with yourself once in a while to make sure the routines you have created are still working for you and don’t be afraid to adjust them to meet your new needs. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for the help you may need from time to time. You can’t do it all and it’s important to recognize that you shouldn’t have to! Be sure to enlist the help of other family members and take the time away that you need.

Kristen Heller: Kristen is a passionate writer, teacher, and mother to a wonderful son. When free time presents itself you can find her tackling her lifelong goal of learning the piano!
Contact info: khellerwrites@gmail.com

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Tips on How to Plan and Pay for Long-Term Care


cropped-wp-pj-banner-e1532350609729As the senior population in the United States grows, more and more people will need long-term support and services. Long-term care includes assistance through institutions such as nursing homes, assisted residential care, adult day services and in-home care. The need for long-term support and services depends on the senior’s ability to manage the tasks and responsibilities of daily living safely.

According to AARP:

  • Seniors are the primary demographic needing long-term care because functional disability increases with advancing age.
  • 13 million Americans ages 18 or older needed long-term support and services in 2014; 60 percent of these adults were age 65 or older.
  • An estimated 52 percent of present-day seniors will develop a severe disability that will require long-term care at some point.
  • Women are more likely than men (58 percent vs. 47 percent) to need long-term support and services. Furthermore, women on average need assistance for longer — 2.5 years vs. 1.5 years.
  • More than half of seniors with disabilities rely exclusively on unpaid help. About 75 percent of people who used paid help also relied on family and friends for unpaid care.

Two thirds of seniors today will need long-term care at some point in the future with 20 percent of them needing it for longer than five years. Without an established plan and funding for long-term support and services, the responsibility for cost and care falls on your loved ones. To protect your family and ensure you get the care you want, it’s important to plan for the possibility of needing long-term support and services while securing a way to pay for them.

How Much Does Long-Term Care Cost?

It may not surprise you to find out that people wildly underestimate how much long-term services cost on average. One-third of Americans think home health care expenses are under $417 a month. The actual national median rate for long-term care costs is about nine times that estimate.

Median annual cost of long-term care:

  • Adult day care – $17,680 annually ($1,474/month)
  • Assisted living facility – $43,539 ($3,628/month)
  • Homemaker services – $45,760 ($3,813/month)
  • In-home health aide – $46,332 ($3,861/month)
  • Semi-private room in nursing home – $82,125 ($6,844/month)
  • Private room in nursing home – $92,378 ($7,698/month)

Paying for Long-Term Care

Older adults receive federally funded health insurance through Medicare. While Medicare pays for many health services, it does not pay for long-term care costs. Seniors can look into alternative policies like Humana Medicare Advantage plans, which offer the same coverage as Medicare Parts A and B. Some plans may include additional benefits for prescriptions, dental, vision, fitness services, caregiver support and a 24/7 nursing advice line. Having comprehensive health care prevents serious illness and injury that requires long-term support and services.

Long-term care insurance can cover all costs that Medicare plans do not. These policies protect your family’s savings while giving you more choices when it comes to the services and support you need. The average premiums for a 60-year-old couple are $2,010 a year when combined, but that small investment can end up saving your family hundreds of thousands on your long-term care in the future.

Avoiding Long-Term Care

One-third of Americans never need long-term care in their senior years. These people tend to be proactive when it comes to maintaining their health and avoiding injury. Make positive lifestyle choices such as exercising regularly, eating a well-balanced diet and being social. Research also suggests that habits such as learning new skills, pursuing passions and practicing mindfulness also contribute to longevity, however, genetics have a lot to do with how long you live. Researching family history and possibly undergoing predictive and presymptomatic genetic tests are the best ways to predict how your genes will affect your aging process.

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The majority of seniors in the United States will need long-term care at some point. Healthy lifestyle choices can mitigate your risks, but it’s still important to plan for the extreme costs. Look into long-term insurance plans that cover the out-of-pocket expenses of long-term support and services.

Author: 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 author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.  June Duncan <june@riseupforcaregivers.org>

 

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Spirituality Finds Its Way Home


Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez UnSplash

As the life-expectancy of the population rises, so does the interest in the role of spirituality in their lives. A survey from the Pew Research Center shows religion is considered very important among adults age 65+. Though important, spirituality has a different meaning to different people, including caregivers and their patients or family members.

What is Spirituality?
When people think of spirituality, normally the first thing that comes to mind is a single specific religion. However, the definition of spirituality is much more than a religion; it ranges from a specific religious belief to anything which provides meaning in life. Spirituality is more of an eclectic mix of beliefs and practices contributing to overall mental health and well-being.

Does Spirituality Help?
Caregivers understand helping on a physical level, but they also have the opportunity to help fulfill the mental needs of the one they care for. Spirituality helps by giving people hope, comfort, and the ability to cope with stress. For both the older adult and the caregiver, spirituality can allow them the opportunity to be a part of a community, and feel as if they have support with whatever issues they’re going through. Spirituality is appealing to those searching for meaning and strength in life, and offers the opportunity to develop a game plan for whatever life is bringing their way.

What Is Being Spiritual?
Setting aside time for meditation and other self-reflective techniques can assist caregivers dealing with stressful changes occurring in their lives. Finding positivity in their role and allowing it to make them stronger is an aspect of spirituality some might not have considered. Another possibility is speaking to a Chaplin or religious figure, which might offer the opportunity to have someone listen with a non-judgmental ear.  For the patients or loved ones they care for, it may mean community service to others to avoid isolation, or a personal belief that sparks a sense of well-being, positivity, and resilience.

Taking Care
The responsibility of care-giving is not easy to shoulder. If a caregiver is too focused on giving, their spiritual needs might fall by the wayside, affecting their well-being and their ability to cope. Spiritual stereotypes abound for both caregivers and older adults, but breaking through those may be the difference in the quality of life for everyone.

Guest blogger Jess Walter  is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets. You can contact Jess at: jesswalterwriter@gmail.com

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