Category Archives: Caregiving

When You Need Some Help: 5 Reasons to Join a Caregiver Support Group


In a world that seems to have lost the idea of the “village,” sometimes we feel pressured to be able to do it all. Asking for assistance or admitting that you are overwhelmed feels like failure, and we often think that we’re being judged by others as not good enough. And that’s just with normal, everyday life.

When you find yourself caring for a loved one, the pressure increases. You are expected to take on this additional burden with a smile, and your willingness to do so seems to be a measurement of your love; expressing your anger or frustration to friends and family earns you appalled looks of disbelief. The good news is that there is a village for you; a caregiver support group. Here are 5 reasons why you should think about joining one.

To Reduce Stress

Perhaps the primary reason to join a support group for caregivers is to reduce your stress levels. Simply having that hour to yourself every week is an important step in separating yourself from the role of caregiver and reclaiming your identity. Being under excessive stress can have negative consequences for both your physical health, and your mental well-being. Maintaining your own well-being is essential to being able to properly care for your loved one.

To Gain a Safe Space

You won’t find any disapproving looks or judgment in a support group. Support groups are by their very nature a confidential and judgment-free zone, where you can discuss your frustrations and less than charitable thoughts with people who understand exactly what you’re going through. They can help alleviate your feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and when you admit to selfish thoughts and attitudes, they will nod their heads and tell you that they understand.

To Reduce Feelings of Isolation

When you’re a caregiver for someone else, it’s easy to find yourself feeling alone, both literally and emotionally. When you can’t leave your loved one to go have a drink with your friends, or you spend all your waking time tending to someone else’s needs, you often find that you don’t have any social interactions. All your contacts are with the person you’re caring for, or their healthcare professionals. Emotionally, it appears nobody else understands you and it’s difficult to relate to those outside your situation. Joining a support group puts you in touch with other people who get it.

To Prevent Burnout

If you end up caring for someone else for too long, without any support system in place for yourself, you’re likely going to suffer from burnout. You’ll reach a point where caring for someone has taken such a toll on you that you are incapable of continuing, and many times, you’ll lose your identity and sense of self. Caregivers leave their support groups feeling refreshed and empowered to keep going. Members can point you in the direction of other resources and programs that can assist you. You may be able to find help with meals, respite care, or even an opportunity to hire a part-time caregiver to relieve you.

To Gain Insights and Advice

Being part of a support group is one of the best ways to find valuable advice and information about caregiving. Everyone has their own methods for dealing with stress, setting boundaries, and finding time for self-care. Having the knowledge of so many others freely available can help you to discover which tips and tricks will work best for you. They may be even able to help prepare you for what to expect down the road.

Joining a caregiver support group may be the best thing that you can do for yourself during this trying time. It will help you maintain your own well-being while caring for another.

About Audrey:

Audrey Robinson is a careers blogger, supporting online knowledge libraries like BizDb. Audrey enjoys working with people from different professions, sharing her tips for self-improvement, improving one’s career opportunities and preventing burnout. Feel free to reach out to her on @AudreyyRobinson.

 

 

 

 

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5 Lifesaving Technologies for Caregivers


No matter if you’ve chosen caregiving as a career path or are overseeing the well-being of a family member in your home, technologies exist that can make your job easier and keep the people you assist safer.

1. The AngelSense GPS Tracker

Some ailments, such as dementia, make people quickly become confused and wander away, despite their caregivers’ best efforts to ensure their safety. The AngelSense GPS tracker reduces those panic-filled moments where caregivers wonder what happened to the people they were looking after.

A person in need of care wears it on their body, and an accompanying smartphone app reveals that individual’s location. The app also allows urgently notifying first responders in the event of an emergency. A geofencing feature provides email and text alerts if a person wanders outside a defined area, too.

There are numerous other GPS tracking choices, but this one is more economical than most, even with the monthly service subscription.

Doctors regularly use wearable devices to deliver things like medication reminders or engage in remote patient monitoring. The AngelSense device lets everyday consumers realize why medical providers increasingly depend on wearables as essential parts of patient care.

($99 for the product, then $33.33 to $59.99 per month for service, depending on the plan)

2. The Carely App

When a family member isn’t doing well, loved ones become even more stressed out. Many of them provide care that seems appropriate, but don’t realize someone has already assumed responsibility for handling a certain need.

The Carely app aims to streamline communications between family members and professional caregivers to ease mental distress and overall confusion about care. It also saves time for primary caregivers by compiling information temporary providers of care can instantly access through the app.

Moreover, medical professionals can upload content to Carely, creating digital versions of paperwork.

Many of the caregiving apps on the market don’t specifically focus on family members, but Carely does. It informs everyone at once, which is particularly useful when loved ones live out of town and can’t visit the people who need care as much as they’d like.

(Free for iOS and Android)

3. Express Messaging Systems

Facilities that manage the care of numerous people at once need an efficient way to contact loved ones in case of emergencies like building maintenance issues, power outages or other unplanned events. An express messaging system distributes communications in bulk to targeted recipients, thereby saving time during hectic circumstances.

An express messaging service can also be useful inside an assisted living community to remind residents about upcoming social events or other matters related to their daily activities.

4. The Maddak Patient Handler Lifting Aid

Transfers are among the most common duties caregivers handle, whether to help a person move into an armchair or get into bed. However, improper lifting techniques can cause back strain for a caregiver and put the lifted person at risk of falling.

The Patient Handler from Maddak is a shaped piece of flexible plastic that looks like a sling and conforms to a person’s shape. It features two pairs of cutout hand grips on either side, enabling caregivers to find the best position to lift a person securely.

Other — significantly more expensive — transfer aids exist, but the comparatively low price of this option and its basic design make it user-friendly and affordable.

(Priced at $70.55 plus shipping)

5. Reminder Rosie

Caregivers have dozens of things to remember each day, and there’s always a chance they might forget a couple of them — they’re humans, after all.

Reminder Rosie helps prevent that possibility by allowing caregivers to record up to 25 custom reminders in any language to aid people in need of assistance with remembering things such as to eat regularly, exercise or take care of personal grooming. It’s possible to set reminders to go off at any day or time.

The Reminder Rosie gadget looks like a clock, but it’s mostly voice-activated, so people don’t have to fumble with cumbersome buttons. An emergency backup system ensures the product keeps working even during power outages.

(Priced at $119.95 with shipping included)

Improving Caregiving for Everyone Involved

A decision to work as a caregiver comes with challenges, but most people who choose the path realize it’s worth those momentary obstacles. The solutions listed above could reduce stress and enhance the quality of care for both patients and those who look after them.

Authors Bio: 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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Stress-Busting Apps For Caregivers


We welcome free lance writer Jess Walker to The Purple Jacket

Stress-Busting Apps For Caregivers

Recent research has found that most care in the US is provided by family members, rather than nurses or doctors. This has resulted in over 40 million unpaid carers who look after adults aged over 65 in the US – and this statistic doesn’t even factor in paid carers and carers who look after people aged under 65.

This means that it is likely that there are hundreds of millions of caregivers in the US, and many of these carers will also have full times jobs and families of their own. Caregiving is already a fairly stressful job, and the extra responsibilities can leave carers feeling exhausted, anxious and upset. If you can relate to this, you could try using some stress-busting apps to help you feel better on a day to day basis. Here are three stress-busting apps for caregivers.

Happify

If you want to reduce stress levels and kick negative thoughts, consider downloading Happify. The app was designed by 18 happiness and health experts, and it has lots of positive games and gratitude prompts to improve your mood and help you to relax. This is very important because the medical community has recognized for many years that working as a caregiver poses an increased risk of ill health and mortality. The app also offers useful lifestyle suggestions, which is very handy as caregivers are often rushed off their feet! For instance, the app provides healthy meal options, including fruits, vegetables, healthy drinks that help to boost cognitive capabilities and snack suggestions.

SAM

SAM (also known as Self-help for Anxiety Management) is an app that helps you to monitor anxious thoughts. It allows you to track behavior and mood patterns, making it easier for you identify causes of stress. It also offers lots of guided self-help exercises to help you relax. Instead of watching online videos, try using this app to de-stress after a day of looking after your loved one.

Breathe2Relax

This wonderful little app was created by the Department of Defense to help veterans with PTSD, and it helps users to learn diaphragmatic breathing. This is really useful has various studies have found that controlled breathing can reduce stress. The app has lots of great features, including a log where you can record stress levels and customizable guided breathing sessions.

Life as a caregiver is both rewarding and challenging. Even if you love having such a meaningful role in someone else’s life, it is important to make sure you don’t put your own needs to the side.

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 and can be reached at Jess Walter <jesswalterwriter@gmail.com>

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How to Manage Your Finances as a Caregiver


More than 34 million Americans currently provide unpaid care to loved ones over the age of 50. This can include dropping by to check on their loved one’s well-being, shopping for groceries and assisting with the activities of daily living (ADL). It can include ferrying older people to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy or hospitals. Caregiving can also involve monitoring prescription medication and making sure doctors’ orders are followed.

These multiple caregiving activities have one thing in common: they can erode or even severely damage your finances.

It’s very easy to start spending your own money in caregiving activities. It may start as a bag of groceries or a home-cooked meal. But it can also get larger and deeper very fast. You may renovate your parents’ home to make it safer for elderly living, or you may need to pay part of their mounting medical bills.

Among Americans, 46 percent spend more than $5,000 of their own money caring for elderly relatives yearly. Another 30 percent spends up to $10,000 yearly.

Before you know it, your own finances are in danger. You may have difficulty paying bills. You may take out a second mortgage on your home. You may max out your credit cards or use up rainy day or retirement savings.

The sums spent are compounded by the fact that caregivers often cut back on paying work to give care. Many transition to part-time work which can lead to less cash coming in just when you are spending more.

Fortunately, there are ways to more effectively manage your finances as a caregiver. All caregivers are entitled to look after themselves. After all, if they don’t, they won’t have any energy or patience left to give care with.

Here are the most important ways to manage your finances.

Create a Budget for Yourself

It’s essential to create a budget. Without it, people may tend to be somewhat in the dark about what they are actually spending their money on, and how frequently.

The first step is to start keeping track of what you spend every day, week and month. There are several software programs that allow you to do this — and a spreadsheet or even a small notebook can do the trick as well.

Don’t just guess. Guessing may lead you to believe you are spending $10 on coffee per week when stress has made you spend closer to $10 per day.

Only when you see these figures laid out in front of you will you know how much you are spending. If it matches or is less than your income, great! If it exceeds your income, you need to make some cuts or raise your income.

Create a Budget for Your Loved One

You need a budget for your loved one. You should know how much income your loved one has coming in.

You also need to create a spreadsheet of how much your loved one is spending per day. Then begin to enter it on a spreadsheet for each week and month.

If your loved one has income such as Social Security, retirement distributions or a pension, see how much of their daily expenses it covers. Be sure to leave enough for health insurance and deductibles.

Discuss the Budget With Family Members

If you have siblings or other concerned family members, it’s time to have a meeting once the budget is done. Include your loved one, of course, if that is feasible. If your loved one’s income meets their needs, it’s time for you to stop spending your own cash.

If the income exceeds their needs, broach the idea of the caregiver being paid out of the surplus. It’s not unreasonable for all needs of the loved one to come out of their own funds. Some older people may need help with paying bills and balancing checkbooks.

If the caregiving is extensive and the caregiver has curtailed work, see if the caregiver can be paid out of the loved one’s funds. You want to hold a family meeting so that the use of the funds is transparent and doesn’t cause misunderstanding or hard feelings. If you can be paid, keep a record of all payments for future reference.

Discuss Sharing Arrangements

If the loved one’s funds aren’t sufficient to pay a caregiver, discuss other options with your family. Some common options are:

  • Share caregiving duties with other family members.
  • Engage respite care to give the caregiver a break at least once a week.
  • Hire a live-in caregiver at least part of the time with family members chipping in on the salary.
  • Move the loved one to be closer to you if that eases the financial burden.
  • Move the loved one to an assisted care facility, nursing home or specialized care facility.

If none of these options is realistic for your situation, it might be time to look for other sources of funding.

Look Into Other Funding Sources

Multiple organizations offer potential funding. Medicaid options vary by state, but some offer an allowance for care. They also sometimes have information on other funding sources.

If your state or municipality has services for seniors, ask about what they offer in terms of respite care and funding.

Veterans of the U.S. armed forces should contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans who might otherwise have to move into a nursing home have access to a Veteran-Directed Home and Community-Based Services program. It has provisions for managing care, including paying hired caregivers.

The takeaway here is that you don’t necessarily have to compromise your own financial peace of mind to care for an older loved one. Instead, look into these potential sources of help.

Authors Bio: 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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Top Tips for Effective Self-Care


With today’s busy lifestyles and crazy schedules, finding enough time to maintain your own self-care is often the last priority. There are a number of things that can make you feel negative and can hinder your progress in life but getting through these hurdles is what makes you a stronger and more resilient person. Whatever life throws at you, by taking a positive approach and spending time on caring for your body and mind, you’ll start to notice changes in both physical and mental well being. Sometimes you need a reality check, and although you may have a support network around you, you have to take responsibility for your own destiny and well being to support your own development and progression in life.

For some people, this concept can be more difficult than for others, so if you’re looking for some inspiration on how you can incorporate self-care into your life, take a look at these handy tips to make some time for you.

Treat yourself as you treat others

The saying normally goes ‘treat others how you want to be treated,’ but that should also be turned around when looking at how you value yourself. Being kind to yourself is just as important as being kind and considerate to other people and actually could arguably be more important. Give yourself little pep talks and make sure you’re supporting and nurturing your own development. Re-training your thought process and recognizing your own strengths and attributes will help you gain more self-confidence which leads to better self-care.

Focus on being healthy and happy

You may have some personal hurdles to overcome that prevent you from seeing the bigger picture, or you might need a little motivation to get rid of those bad habits. However, focusing on health and feeling happy is an essential factor in self-care. It might be you need a little helping hand for alternatives to habits such as smoking, and www.brokedick.com offers liquids to support a change in lifestyle. Feeling healthy also isn’t just about physical health, it also focuses on mental health too, so making some time for yourself and relieving symptoms of daily stresses can help put you in a better frame of mind to take on new challenges.

Staying positive

Learning to love yourself and your body can be a difficult task but having the right mindset and getting to grips of the real picture can help you see past the fake stimuli that society is pressuring you to achieve. Focusing on the positives in all situations even the bad ones can help you achieve so much more. Not fixating on problems and seeing past small issues can help you understand things in a different light, which, in turn, help to control your emotions and take care of your mind.

Believing in your own strengths and realizing your achievements is vital for positive affirmation. Getting to this point might require time and patience, but the journey will help you reap the rewards in self-love.

Author’s bio: Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organizations. Email: maggiehamm

 

 

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Why Helping Someone You Care For To Keep Their Personal Sense of Style Can Be Important


When someone needs care, whether it is because of illness, disability, injury or old age, it can be as important to help them keep their sense of personal identity as it can to offer the practical assistance they need. This is particularly important when someone is learning to live with a new condition or recent deterioration and may feel depressed about the fact that they don’t feel like they can still do the same things they could before. They may even feel as if they are no longer the same person.

Outer Appearance and Personal Identity

A helpful factor in keeping someone’s sense of identity when they are dealing with a situation in which they need care is helping them retain their personal sense of style and their appearance. If they are no longer able to shop for their own clothes, dress themselves, or do personal grooming tasks that they may have done before, such as styling their hair, applying makeup, or shaving, they may have to rely on other people or on you for these things. It is important that they still feel like they are in control of the way they look and that their taste is taken into account when other people are helping them with these things.

Why Fashion And Personal Style Can Be Mentally Important

It may seem fairly trivial when compared to things like dealing with chronic pain, a long-term illness or a disability to worry about superficial things like fashion and make-up, but it can be more important to the patient than you might think. In fact, cancer patients can feel far less stressed and more able to face their day to day treatment programs when they have access to things that make the impact on their physical appearance because of chemotherapy as minimal as possible, such as wigs, make-up to disguise lost eyebrows and eyelashes, and gloves to cover damaged nails. For many people, looking as much like their healthy selves as possible helps them feel better, and can also help them feel like they can have normal interactions when they are out and about, rather than people knowing that they are sick and treating them differently.

Fashion is important too because it is something deeply personal that most people have decided for themselves over the years. Whether someone dresses in a way that stands out, follows the latest trends, dresses in a classic, smart way, or favors a comfy, casual and laid-back look, this is all a reflection of their personality. They may feel uncomfortable or depressed if they can no longer express themselves in that way, or if they no longer have control over how they look and the person responsible for dressing them or choosing their clothes doesn’t do it how they would themselves.

For some people, fashion can be about even more than taste and personality; it can have some sentimental attachments, too. Some people like to wear things that remind them of something or give them a sense of belonging, like custom morale patches from military units they belonged to, class rings, or football jerseys. Others like to make obvious statements with what they wear, for instance, wristbands that show the causes they care about or t-shirts related to their favorite bands.

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6 Steps To Help You Be Kind To Yourself


When you give a lot of your time to others and put their needs before your own, then you’re partly neglecting yourself. Helping and supporting others is hugely rewarding and crucial for making them feel loved and appreciated. However, to do this to the best of your ability, you need to look after yourself and make sure you’re well and able before assisting others. You’re going to be of most help when you’re feeling fit and healthy so try and be kind to yourself and careful not to put your own needs on the backburner. Remember to be kind to yourself and care for your own needs as well as for others. Being kind to yourself is a necessary requirement of being a healthy and well-rounded individual so do your very best to be kind each day.

Get The Help You Deserve

Be kind to yourself by recognizing if you need an extra helping hand here and there. There’s absolutely no shame in saying you need some assistance, so if you’re struggling with addiction and substance abuse, then seek professional aid. Recognize that you’re having some trouble staying afloat and reach out. You deserve to get back on the straight and narrow, so have a look around and conduct some necessary research to discover where looks good to you and promises to suit your needs. If you’re unsure about where to begin and who to turn to, then you just need to get started. Use The Recovery Village to get the ball rolling towards unearthing your best recovery plans.

Accept Your Mistakes

Getting hung up on mistakes you made in the past isn’t going to help you move forward and into the present. Instead, you’ll spend time thinking over your past mistakes and, quite frankly, wasting time. You cannot change the past, so accept your mistakes and vow never to do them again. You learn from the mistakes you make, so allow them to be a lesson to you and learn for the better from them. Thoughts of your past mistakes can plague you, especially if your mistake had a large impact on your life and changed how you live. However, you must accept that the past in the past and nobody is perfect. People change and grow, and so can you. Be kind to yourself and learn to accept any mistakes you’ve previously made.

Learn To Forgive Yourself

Leading on from accepting your mistakes, you must also learn to forgive yourself. Harboring self-hate and self-blame is toxic and will not help you to get over your past mistakes. Learning to forgive yourself is a process that takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it once you’re there and you’re able to come to terms with any past misdemeanors. Perhaps even, the instances you deem as being mistakes are far from being your fault. You might, in fact, need a professional to help you through means of therapy and explaining your position with the voice of reason. If you believe you could benefit from receiving therapy, then do not hesitate to contact your doctor, and begin getting the help you deserve.

Focus On Your Strengths

Be kind to yourself by focusing on your strengths and practicing the activities you’re good at instead of the ones that you have trouble with. If you’re adept at a particular sport and it makes you feel good to play it, then continue to do exactly this. When you’re good at something, you’ll receive a natural buzz from getting involved with it. So do more of what you’re good at for your own pleasure and sense of fulfillment and aptitude. Although it is said that if at first, you do not succeed, then you must try and try again, this doesn’t ring true for everything in life. If you’ve got to a certain and ripe old age, and you still haven’t got the hang of knitting or playing baseball, then it’s safe to say that it’s just not for you. Learning a new skill in life can be beneficial to keep your mind and body supple, but if you’ve tried and failed multiple times before, then hang up your skates and admit defeat.

Surround Yourself With Loved Ones

Be kind to yourself and make sure you’re surrounded by those who love and care for you. Surround yourself with friends and have fun with them. Laughter is a great medicine, so get out and about and start having a laugh getting involved with fun activities. Remember to stay active and fit, so incorporate socializing with your friends with exercise. Consider playing tennis together or going swimming while chatting and enjoying your time spent with loved ones. Be kind to yourself and surround yourself with individuals who are kind to you. Do not waste your time on toxic and harmful relationships with critical people who don’t make you feel good about yourself. Be kind to yourself and let these relationships come to a natural conclusion.

Nourish Your Body

Be kind to yourself and learn how to nourish your body to the best of your ability. As the saying goes, “your body is a temple,” so treat it that way. After all, it’s the only thing that’s truly yours, and it is going to be with you until death. Your body sees you through the brightest and the darkest times of your life, and it’s here for the long haul, so treat it kindly and love all of the hard work it does just to keep your heart beating and your lungs full of life. Your diet can, unfortunately, take a backseat when it comes to being kind to yourself. However, you need to ensure this doesn’t happen and that you’re giving your body the best fuel to power itself. Your diet should be fiber rich with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, complete with complex carbohydrates and good sources of protein such as free range eggs, tofu and nuts, and seeds. Be kind to yourself and nourish your mind and body with a good diet and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

 

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5 Self-care Tips for Caregivers


While caregivers give so very much of themselves to their patients, they often neglect their own health and even their own needs. Providing care for the elderly is a particularly mentally and physically taxing job. Without attending your own needs, you may not be able to give the quality care needed. A proper diet, good sleep, and learning strategies to address the mental and emotional strain are necessary. To provide the best care for either patients or loved ones, consider these 5 self-care tips for caregivers.

  1. Know Your Personal Boundaries and Barriers

The fault and strength of several caregivers is that they give too much. To truly provide what your patient or loved one needs, you must understand that you have personal boundaries and barriers and learn how to use them as well as work with them. Caregivers tend to have barriers that make them question if they are being selfish for wanting to put their own needs above their patients. Others feel that they are unworthy to even consider doing so. They care so deeply that they take situations that cannot possibly be in their control and make it their own responsibility. Accept and remove these barriers to be a more effective caregiver.

  1. Reduce Your Own Stress

Since caregiving is a stressful environment, it is important that caregivers find ways to reduce the stress they may experience in their own lives. After you’ve removed your barriers, you can then accept that you need time off to take care of your own personal needs and responsibilities. Stress reduction techniques may be needed before you enter a job as well. Meditation, reading, stretching, listening to your favorite music, or even playing a game on an app are some of the techniques that professional caregivers will use before beginning or in the middle of their caregiving routines.

  1. Life Continues with a Life Source

Caring for the elderly can be especially traumatic for caregivers without their even knowing. As we lose loved ones and patients, it can be difficult to not remain in those dark and depressed emotions and remember instead that life continues. Because caregivers become so attached to their patients, it is difficult to remain constantly objective in dark situations. To combat these feelings, find what several experts call a life source. This could be a hobby that makes you happy, regular coffee dates with friends, or time spent with your family.

  1. Watch Your Diet

A caregiver’s job is demanding not only mentally but physically. The atmosphere is often so fast-paced that a proper diet becomes the last thing on a caregiver’s mind. This can have a dramatic impact on your mental state. Just as you would advise your own patients to eat healthy, so should you. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and avoiding fast foods at all costs can help to improve your mental state of being as well as give you needed energy to tackle the job ahead. Taking time to prepare or cook your meals can also be a form of stress relief or life source.

  1. Don’t Skip the Exercise

Although it may seem impossible to do, try your hardest not to skip daily exercise, even if this means taking a short walk. As a caregiver, you know that your patients need daily physical activity for a variety of reasons related to their physical and mental health. You are no exception to that rule. Exercise releases endorphins which can help positively stimulate the mind—something caregivers need regularly. Exercise has also been proven to be a form of stress-therapy as can it function as a life source. If you are able, try to exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes three days a week. Due to their nature, caregivers will naturally put other’s needs before their own. Remembering to take care of your own needs will not only allow you to provide care more effectively, but it will make you a living example for your patients and loved ones.

Author’s Bio: Marcus Clarke regularly blogs at psysci, a psychology, science blog that examines the latest research and explains how findings can impact and improve people’s lives.  You can reach Marcus  at  marcus@psysci.co.uk

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Reasons Why Stopping Smoking Will Improve Your Quality of Life


Smoking is a difficult habit to kick to the curb, and many people find it difficult to begin to process. One of the reasons people struggle to quit smoking is due to the dependency they have developed, especially when withdrawal symptoms can be a struggle to overcome. However, while the negative effects of smoking are widely advertised, something which is not made as clear, is the positive lasting impact stopping smoking will have on your lifestyle. If you are struggling to find a reason to stop smoking, then sometimes focusing on the positives can have a greater impact than focusing on the negatives. With that in mind, here are just a few examples of how going smoke-free will help you to improve your general quality of life.

Being able to to be more social

While fellow smokers might not mind the smell of cigarettes, many non-smokers can find smoking in general rather off-putting due to the smell and the problems involved with passive smoking. If you have a dependency on smoking, taking regular cigarette breaks means you can be removed from the conversation. If you live in a state where smoking has been banned in some, or all, public places and buildings, then it can be a nuisance if you are craving a cigarette and have to leave the group to go out in bad weather, or stand with complete strangers, just to get your fix. Therefore, stopping smoking can improve your social life and allow you to spend more time with people who do not enjoy smoking.

If you are looking for smoking alternatives while you wean yourself off smoking, vaping is a slightly more social method of nicotine inhalation and is less effective for other people in terms of the smell. You can read more about vaping if this is an alternative you would be interested in pursuing.

You will have more energy in the long run

While you may think that smoking energizes you and improves your mood, the opposite is true. Nicotine produces a short-lived, synthetic chemical reaction which improves your mood for a brief amount of time. However, in the long run, your natural ability to feel stress relief and happier is decreased while you continue to smoke. Not only that, but smoking lowers circulation, impairs your immune system, and damages your lungs making it difficult to breathe during physical activity, and resulting in the infamous ‘smokers cough.’ Quitting smoking can improve all of these symptoms; just 20 minutes after you stop smoking, your blood pressure will begin to drop and, after only one month of being smoke-free, lung function will begin to improve. This will give you more energy and give you the capacity to be more active.

Better family relationships

By smoking around your loved ones, you are subjecting them to second-hand smoke, which can still have a detrimental effect on their health, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. As many people know this, they will often spend many hours away from their family smoking, and this can damage family relationships over time. Your family may also be concerned about the negative effects smoking has on your own health, and this will subject them to stress and cause strain in even the closest of relationships. If you are struggling to find the motivation to quit smoking for yourself, then your family may just be the inspiration that you need.

Stopping smoking can be extremely difficult, as it is a serious addiction. However, once you stop, or even begin to cut down, you will find that your quality of life begins to improve, and over time you won’t even miss how you felt when you were a smoker.

Author: Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organisations.  Contact Maggie at  maggiehammond57@gmail.com

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Senior Housing Checklist: What to Look for in Assisted Living Facilities


Your loved one needs assistance to maintain her sense of independence. Whether recovering from a hospital stay or experiencing progression of a diagnosed disease, you want to assure his or her safety while helping them enjoy as much freedom as possible. Looking down the road, you consider options which will allow them to “age in place” with grace and dignity.

Assisted Living Facilities are designed around the concept that a resident’s opportunity to maintain — or improve — their current quality of life is enhanced with extended services and support staff all under one roof. Many residents enjoy individual apartment or condominium living within the confines of a secure, care-oriented program.

Researching various Assisted Living Programs can be a confusing, emotional and overwhelming task. To help you mitigate the process, we’ve compiled the following checklist for use as a general guide:

1.   Location

Determine whether the facility is located close to your loved one’s support network of family and friends. If not, is there a conveniently-located hotel nearby? How far will they have to travel for preferred medical and pharmacy services? Check city-related data such as neighborhood safety ratings and which local public transportation options are available.

  1. Security Features

Does the facility employ a centrally-monitored security company and what does it offer? Advanced features such as video surveillance and specified access control systems help protect resident safety, while assuring personal and medical care staff members the opportunity to respond quickly and efficiently when needed.

  1. Safety Precautions

Often, progressive aging symptoms include reduced visual acuity, memory loss and balance instability. Check common facility areas for American Disability Act compliance.

Are hand-rails continuous and easy to distinguish against wall design features? Is flooring soft and feasible for walkers and canes? Are visual cues in place to offer guidance for pedestrian walkways, and is lighting consistent throughout?

Identify whether or not staff members undergo background checks and if everyone, staff and residents included, are up-to-date on immunizations. Ask about “missing person” drills and if residents are issued unobtrusive locator bracelet or necklaces.

  1. Medical Services

Clearly identify which medical services are offered on-site. How is the initial medical care plan assessed and who oversees daily medical management? What is the standard operating emergency procedure and how often is it tested? Are nurses or nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, physical therapists and dietitians employed on staff? Determine the ratio of medical support personnel to residents.

  1. Personal Care

Make sure Certified Nursing Aids — CNA’s — are available to assist residents with activities of daily living such as:

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Oral Care
  • Feeding
  • Walking
  • Functional Transfers
  1. Household Tasks

What does the facility provide by way of general housekeeping? Is an accountant available to help residents pay their bills and manage their accounts? Are housecleaning and laundry services offered, and do they include changing linens? Inquire about assistance with general shopping and in-house meal preparation. Make sure there are at least as many options available to support your loved one’s sense of freedom and independence as there are to protect her medical health.

  1. Food

The enjoyment of wholesome and appealing food is all-important part of life satisfaction as well as healing. As your loved one ages, they will inevitably lose taste buds and the ability to distinguish between sweet, sour, bitter, savory and salty. It is vital that meals with appropriate texture, spiciness and aroma be offered on a regular basis to prevent appetite loss and poor nutrition.

Check into the communal dining experience. Is the seating area clean and attractive? Are three, well-balanced meals prepared per day? How about snacks and beverages? Does the culinary staff honor special dietary needs?

See if you can snag some recent menus and inquire about the feasibility of family members joining an in-house meal while visiting. Ask current residents how they like the food — you’re likely to get impassioned responses one way or the other!

  1. Socialization and Community Involvement

Social interactions and community ties help ward off feelings of isolation and depression that often accompany a significant life shift within the elderly population. Older adults who are socially active enjoy reduced stress and anxiety levels, increased self-esteem and are even more likely to exercise regularly.

Ask about a facility’s planned group activities and outings. See if you can access a recent calendar of events. Consider tossing in a question about opportunities to socialize with any resident who has already weighed in on the food issue.

Your loved one’s increased need for assistance is an excellent opportunity to take stock of supportive ways to protect both her freedom and health for many productive years to come. Assessing critical factors of location, safety, medical and personal care, diet and social involvement presents a well-rounded view within which to consider promising options.

Authors Bio: 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.

Kayla Matthews <kaylaematthews@gmail.com>

 

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