Tag Archives: Kayla Matthews

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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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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Using Stories to Cope With Caregiving


cropped-wp-pj-banner-e1532350609729Caregiving is one of the most challenging things to do in life, whether you’re caring for an aging parent or a disabled loved one. It’s important for caregivers to take the time to take care of themselves, but that can be difficult when you’re caring for someone who needs round-the-clock care.

Sharing stories — both your own stories as a caregiver and stories from other caregivers — can help you learn how to cope with caregiving. In fact, listening to others’ stories can help you grieve, cope and thrive as a caregiver.

Finding Stories

Where can you find caregiver stories to help you cope with your own situation? That can be more difficult than you might think, as not everyone is comfortable telling their story. However, you can tap into plenty of resources to find these tales of hope.

The Whole Care Network is a web-based resource that shares caregiver stories in blog posts and also in the form of the podcast. This is a great place to find stories similar to your own and even tell your own story if you feel comfortable doing so. Other websites, like Caregiver.org, allow you to do the same — read the stories others have submitted and even submit your own.

Sites like Medium, the free blog publishing platform, can give you a voice. Platforms like Medium are often better for this than starting your own blog because they come with a built-in audience, so you can tell your story without the stress of marketing your content.

There are even videos and documentaries that might help you puzzle out the problems of your daily life as a caregiver. Do a little research and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many resources you find to share your story online.

Telling Stories

Have you ever considered telling your own caregiver’s story?

Not everyone does. Sharing a story about your experiences as a caregiver is an emotional decision, but it is one that could help other individuals who are having problems with their own situations.

If you’re having trouble with one aspect of your life, writing about it can help you look at it from a new perspective. In addition to this, the story you share about your own struggles might help someone else who is going through the same thing.

You don’t have to write or publish a book for people to listen — just write your story and share it.

It’s All About Hope

Being a caregiver isn’t easy, even for the strongest person. The one thing everyone has to hold on to is hope, and hearing stories from others who are going through similar experiences can help make it easier to hold on to that sliver of hope. Hearing stories of someone else’s grief can also help you in navigating your own experiences.

Sharing stories is all about hope. That’s why sharing your own stories and reading the stories of others is so important — to foster hope for the future, hope for a better life and hope that you’ll be able to make it through your next day as a caregiver.

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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6 Skills You Need to Have as a Caregiver


Whether it’s a career you want to pursue or something you want to do to use your time to give back, being a caregiver is both a challenging and rewarding experience. People do it every day all over the globe to make sure their loved ones and others get the care and help they need. It’s a selfless job for anyone who wants to take it on, and like all other jobs, you should have certain skills before you step into the role.

Beginning your journey as a caregiver before you know if you’re ready for it would be a major problem. Not only would you be putting yourself in a bad position, but you’d be preventing someone from getting the quality care they need. Read on to see which skills are most important for you to have as a caregiver.

Find out what you can do to improve those skills if you find yourself lacking, but don’t let yourself be discouraged. If you’re passionate about caregiving, that love and effort will shine through.

1. Communication

Your ability to communicate is another skill you’ll constantly improve as a caregiver. Not everyone communicates in the same way, especially if the person you’re caring for has limited communication abilities.

You’ll need to be quick to pick up how they communicate best and then work with them to become a better team. You may also need to be able to translate their needs to other family members or caregivers. Ensuring you have good communication skills will improve the lives of everyone involved with your caregiving.

2. Compassion

Compassion is something everyone should have a good grasp on, because it makes you a better person and promotes a positive environment for the people around you. It’s especially good to have as a caregiver because you’ll be able to empathize and easily understand your patient’s point of view. Showing genuine compassion will pass on a higher level of kindness to the person you’re working with, which will make them more comfortable and trusting.

3. Problem Solving

Every day, you use your problem-solving skills to get through your daily routine. You might need to locate missing supplies or adapt to quickly changing work situations. In an emergency medical situation, you could need to know legal issues of caregiving. Whatever happens, you can find a new solution, which is invaluable as a caregiver.

The person you assist will depend on you, so if something doesn’t work out according to plan, you’ll need to know how to solve problems on the go. This skill is something you’ll hone throughout your career, but be confident in it before you become a caregiver.

4. Organization

Caregiving isn’t only about meeting a person’s physical and emotional needs. It’s also about maintaining their quality of life. That means planning hospital visits, scheduling doctor appointments, keeping track of medications and balancing their social life. If you’re a caregiver for a parent, this also means you should have preparations for emergencies. Juggling all these things means you’ll need to be great at organization to be a caregiver. The better you can handle the aspects of a person’s life who needs assistance, the happier they’ll be.

5. Patience

Providing care to someone who needs it is something you can do to bring joy to their lives, but it won’t come without challenges. You’re going to be building a relationship with your patient as well as meeting their needs. These needs may seem like a lot at first, when you’re not used to what they need and how they live. Patience will be essential to your success, so practice patience daily, because going into caregiving with a quick temper won’t lead to anything good.

6. Positivity

Before you start looking after anyone, it’s always a good idea to try to consider the situation from their perspective. They may have transitioned from an independent life to one where they need to depend on someone else for help, and that can be hard. They’ll have individual challenges that will frustrate them, and you’ll need to be there for them even at their most difficult moments. Do your best to remain positive in all situations, because genuine positivity easy to share.

Giving back to someone through your job or a volunteer opportunity can change their day, week or even their whole life. Be sure you’ve got the skills you need before you enter that role. Maintaining a positive attitude, always being organized and having compassion will take you far in the role of a caregiver.

Practice these things so when the time comes for you to take care of someone in need, you can be the best person possible for them to depend on.

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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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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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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