Tag Archives: Caregiving

Joining Together with A Shared Interest in Woodworking


We welcome back guest writer Jess Walter to The Purple Jacket!

Being a caregiver can take its toll on well being, but making time to take care of yourself by keeping up interests and hobbies, can alleviate stress and help you stay connected. Over 16 million American households enjoy woodworking as a hobby according to a study by The Craft and Hobby Association, making it one of the top four hobbies in the US. It continues to grow in popularity, as easy access to online tutorials and renewed interest in woodworking classes help to inspire new generations of DIYers. An age-old craft using body and mind to create something beautiful and practical, for a caregiver it is also is an engaging and a rewarding way to share an interest with the person they care for or to connect with people and make new friends at a local class.

Learning and Sharing Skills

Caring for someone can be challenging and an absorbing hobby like woodwork can provide a welcome break from daily duties.The pleasure gained from creating something from scratch is timeless, and woodworking can be an enjoyable pastime at any age. Home accessories or children’s toys are simple projects requiring minimal skills and are an easy way to get started. A woodworking workshop can be a social space where people learn from each other and, as confidence builds, making more complex such as small pieces of furniture that require routing and joints becomes more achievable. Whether a beginner or more advanced woodworker, using the right equipment can make light work of these projects, ensuring satisfaction at having created something useful and appealing.

Improving Your Brain

There may be times during the routine of caregiving when life becomes a drudge and this is when a hobby can provide welcome stimulation. As well as being a fulfilling pastime, woodworking can keep your mind sharp. Any pastime is good for mental stimulation but getting involved with crafting hobbies leads to participants being 45% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or memory loss. This is because woodworking is an activity that uses all areas of the brain and helps brain cells function better. You not only need the ability to physically cut wood, insert joints and add finishing touches but also to apply basic math and geometry in the planning stages of a project. With social interaction and communication being important elements of working together in a class, this problem-solving aspect of woodworking is also one which lends itself well to sharing ideas and creative solutions. Together, you can help each other decide the best way to join a corner on a drawer or whether or not to add an inlay to a table top.

A Healthy Distraction

Even if you are looking after someone with mild dementia, there are elements of woodworking that can be very rewarding for them to share too. It provides an absorbing diversion and helps form close friendships too. It can be empowering to take a piece of plain wood and cut and shape it into a useful object. Woodworking allows you both to be present in the moment, finding satisfaction in working with your hands. The touch and smell of the wood stimulates the senses and, for both of you, this mindful activity can be a healthy distraction from the day to day stresses of illness and caregiving. As a diversion, woodworking may carry on giving comfort through loss and grief, and the pieces you make with the person you care for become lasting mementos of a shared life.

Woodworking is a rewarding pastime for a carer. Creating a simple wooden toy or a chest of drawers gives a great sense of achievement and is a pleasurable way to be distracted. Making room in your life for an absorbing hobby is important to your own well being, giving you a welcome respite from daily caring duties and it can be a good way to build connections with new people or strengthen bonds with loved ones.

“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.” Jess Walter <jesswalterwriter@gmail.com>

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When You Should Say “No” in Caregiving


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

Caregiving for an elderly relative is a role that falls on different family members and professional caregivers depending on the family and expectations. And many families often fail to discuss how much responsibility a caregiver should take on and for how long.

When the time comes for a parent or grandparent to have extra help, you may feel the burden and stress of assuming this role. Although you love and respect the person and want to give them your support, it may not always be the best option. Or you may currently be a caregiver, but the stress and work are harming your social, emotional or physical health.

It’s common to feel guilty or unsure how to tell an aging person “no” or to tell your family that you can’t handle the load. But when is it the right time to say “no” to caregiving or simply take a step back from your current involvement? Let’s look at when and how you should voice the need for change while preserving your family relationships and your consideration for the person.

When You Need to Set Limits

Limits can help you to establish boundaries for your involvement as a caregiver or to say, “Hold on for a minute!” when the person in your care requests something. You and your siblings may need to share the responsibilities of care if your life has been consumed by the person’s needs and wants.

Boundaries are a right and a healthy function of families. In your caregiving role, you continually need a set of limitations to regulate healthy interactions. If you feel undue stress and over-involvement, you are likely exceeding an appropriate level of care. It is acceptable to say “no” when you are overextending yourself without limits.

When You Need Help

If you feel you are unable to handle caregiving duties on your own, you should ask for assistance. Whether you can’t tend to all of the person’s needs or balance their medical requirements, asking for help is appropriate. It’s difficult to be vulnerable and admit you need help, but it will be better for you and the person you’re caring for.

Rather than stretching yourself too thin, reach out to other relatives and your support system to find others to share the load. Home-delivered meals and caregiver counseling are a few resources you can use, too.

How to Say No

Saying “no” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re hurting the person who needs care — in the long run, it will help them. You can say “no” to caregiving by sitting down with your family for an honest conversation. Have this discussion at the beginning of the process to make roles and responsibility clear from the start.

When you see that the situation has to change, reconsider what is best in a caregiving role and what the aging person needs. Family members may react differently than you expect if you need to take a step back. But remember, you don’t always need to explain yourself.

When you are caregiving and you have to say “no” to a senior’s requests, simply tell them, “I can’t do that right now. Please wait.” They may not understand why you can’t do everything they ask, especially if dementia or Alzheimer’s has set in, but you can communicate a firm resolve with patience to them.

Benefits of Saying No

Saying “no” helps you maintain your own health and establish a safe, controlled environment for the person in your care. The following results can come from saying you can’t do it all:

  • The aging person gets better support from other caregivers or family.
  • You maintain healthy boundaries and reinforce your emotional and mental stamina.
  • You know how to say “no” next time.

Establish Healthy Boundaries as a Caregiver

Whether you are a professional caregiver or a family member stepping in, you can be confident and honest when saying “no” to overextending yourself. Communicate your feelings and needs as soon as possible with the people in an aging person’s life.

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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CPR The Basics and Beyond


I’m Steve Crain, Co-Owner of CPR Northwest Washington, a CPR, AED, and First Aid training and certification service for the lay person up to more advanced healthcare professionals. As one of the best BLS training centers in Seattle (and the entire Puget Sound area) we strive to continue excellence in our field for years to come.
Phone Number: 206-637-9602

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5 Warning Signs of Abuse Caregivers Should Look Out For


We welcome back guest writer, Kayla Matthews to The Purple Jacket.

As a caregiver, you want the elderly people you look after to feel safe and comfortable. Whether they live at home or in an assisted living facility, their health and continued well being relies in part on the safety of the other people in their environment. While many caregivers show elderly clients the utmost respect, others may not always have their best interests at heart.

Elder abuse is any intentional action that harms or could bring harm to an elderly person. Anyone can commit elder abuse — including caregivers, family members, friends and strangers — and the abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, financial or neglectful in nature. It’s easy to see how any act of abuse could cause a decline in an older adult’s health or quality of life.

Unfortunately, incidents of elder abuse are more common than many people assume. Around 10 percent of elders experience some form of elder abuse, according to one comprehensive review. Despite the prevalence of abuse, it remains under-reported, which makes it difficult to address effectively.

Reporting suspected elder abuse is the best way caregivers and other individuals can help address this widespread problem. Detecting abuse has proven difficult, though, especially because people may confuse signs of abuse with symptoms of aging or other conditions like dementia.

In order to notice and report elder abuse, people need a clear understanding of the signs related to abuse. Here are five warning signs caregivers should look out for.

1. Unexplained Injuries

Unexplained injuries may be signs of physical abuse. These injuries can range from small bruises or cuts to broken bones, though you may also watch for subtler signs of nursing home abuse like restraint markings on the wrists or ankles.

If you notice injuries that seem suspicious, talk to the person about it. If they don’t have an explanation or if the same injuries keep coming up again and again, it could be a sign of physical abuse.

2. Changes in Behavior

Emotional or other kinds of abuse may result in behavioral changes. These could include increased fear, withdrawn personality or lack of interest in previously enjoyed social activities.

An abuser may isolate a victim, making them more vulnerable, so it’s important to combat their mistreatment by staying in contact with loved ones frequently and paying attention to possible behavior changes. If you notice any signs of emotional abuse, consider reporting them.

3. Signs of Neglect

Though neglect may not be intentional, it can pose a serious danger to an older person’s safety, so it is often included in definitions of elder abuse. Signs of neglect may include unclean living conditions, dehydration or malnutrition or bed welts, which develop when a person is not turned often enough in bed. An elderly person may also experience neglect if they are abandoned or left alone in public.

Neglect is a serious form of elder abuse, so you may also need to report it in addition to other forms of mistreatment.

4. New Financial Troubles

Some people intentionally take advantage of an older person’s money or financial vulnerability through scams or simply asking for money. Signs of financial abuse include missing checks, strange bank charges and a sudden inability to pay bills on time.

Contrary to popular belief, family members are the most common perpetrators of financial abuse, so it’s important to pay attention to these risks regardless of the older adult’s living situation.

5. A Hovering Caregiver

A caregiver who refuses to leave an older person alone may also be a sign of abuse. Though this behavior may seem sweet or attentive, it could be used to intimidate the person and keep them from discussing their mistreatment.

If you suspect abuse, try to discuss it with the person alone, away from anyone who may try to influence the conversation.

Reporting Elder Abuse

These aren’t the only signs of elder abuse. Because every situation is different, the signs of abuse may vary. If you notice these or other signs, though, you may consider reporting abuse to an appropriate authority like the police or adult protective services.

By educating yourself and others about the problem and reporting elder abuse when you recognize it, you can help keep the older adults in your community safe, healthy and happy.

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 Deal with the Illness of a Spouse


While some people choose to be a caregiver by profession, for others, at times it just happens. You can’t predict what direction life will go in, however, it’s often instinctive for humans to adapt. You may be experiencing this if a loved one has recently fallen ill, or perhaps they’ve been so for some time now. It can be especially difficult if you’ve become the caretaker of a spouse who is coping with an illness. You’ve probably learned or are still learning the art of taking it a day at a time and doing the best you can to cope. Here are a few ways you can deal with your circumstances.

Find Peace in the Situation

It can be emotionally difficult when your spouse becomes ill, especially when it happens suddenly. However, in order to get through it the best you can, you should try and find peace in the situation. This means accepting the things that are beyond your control and not blaming yourself for what’s happened. By doing this, you’ll be able to focus on the practical side of giving your spouse the love and support they need during this difficult time.

Learn About Their Illness

One of the best things you can do for both yourself and your spouse is learn about the illness that they’re battling. Get as much information as possible from a health professional so you know exactly how to support and care for them. It may also help to find a support group that can give you tips, ideas, and a listening ear when you need one. In addition to this, following your loved one to appointments and reminding them to take medications can help them feel loved and cared for.

Take Care of Yourself

Sometimes, when a spouse becomes ill it can put a strain on your relationship. While being patient and loving is important, so is looking after yourself. If your wellbeing isn’t in a good place, you won’t be able to give your spouse the support they need or keep the household together. In light of this, learn to take time out for yourself without feeling guilty for doing so. If you feel that the relationship is coming to an end and it’s becoming toxic for you to remain in the same household, you may want to think about contacting Crisp & Co Solicitors to explore your options for separation or divorce.

Do Things You Love

It’s easy to find that you’re mellow and sad every day when your spouse is ill. This won’t help matters, however. Instead, find ways to get rid of any stress or sadness you’re feeling and lift your spirits. One way that you can do so is by learning to meditate a few times a day and find the beauty in the now. Also, learning to laugh and give to others who may be going through hard times could also help.

Nobody hopes to have to endure someone they love or care about being ill. However, it is sometimes an unavoidable part of life, so how you deal with it is what matters the most. Finding joy, peace, and hope in the midst of your predicament could go a long way in getting you through each day.

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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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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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