Tag Archives: Kayla Matthews

5 Types of Elder Abuse and How to Report Them


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

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

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

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

1. Physical or Sexual Abuse

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

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

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

2. Emotional or Mental Abuse

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

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

3. Neglect and Abandonment

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

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

4. Economic Abuse

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

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

5. Involuntary Confinement

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

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

Keeping Our Seniors Safe

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

 

Kayla Matthews:  Kaylaematthews@gmail.com

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How Caregivers Can Keep Cancer Patients Safe at Home


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

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

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

1. Know Chemo’s Side Effects

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

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

2. Clean up Properly

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

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

3. Follow the Treatment Plan

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

4. Remember the Good to Come

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

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

Kayla Matthews:  Kaylaematthews@gmail.com

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15 Healthcare Podcasts For Caregivers


Caregivers must manage the stress and difficulties of professional or family caregiving each day. But helpful advice, informative sources and personal stories can lift a little of the burden in this role. Podcasts offer a simple and convenient way to connect to other caregiver’s experiences.

Here are 15 healthcare podcasts caregivers should start listening to.

1. Agewyz

Highlighting caregivers behind the scenes, Jana Panarites discusses the healthcare industry and brings in experts to raise awareness about the aging process. With a focus on informing the world through media, she addresses creative efforts to display different diseases and conditions related to aging.

2. Club Sandwiched

Andrea Weber emphasizes with others caring for two generations. Offering advice on raising kids and managing elderly parents, she takes listeners through the chaos of both responsibilities.

3. Life Is a Sacred Journey

For both seniors and caregivers, this show encourages everyone to find the positives in aging. Micheal Pope and her guests talk about everything from technology to pride in relation to older family members and friends.

4. The Healthcare Policy Podcast

As policy issues come to light, David Introcaso weighs in on the pros and cons. Caregivers can stay current with updates in the healthcare system with this insightful tool.

5. Transition Aging Parents

Dale Carter shares her findings on handling parents who are declining in health. Several supports, like financial tips and advice on VA benefits, make her podcast a significant resource.

6. Drew Wilson Discusses Telemedicine

Attorney and legislative specialist Andrew B. Wilson sat down with First Healthcare Compliance to address telemedicine in this podcast episode. As telemedicine rises, it has the potential to impact healthcare delivery, and this informative podcast covers these changes.

7. Senior Life Journeys

Executive director and author Carol Howell concentrates on dementia and specific scenarios she encountered with her mother. Her commentary helps others wade through the confusion of caring for a patient with dementia.

8. Healing Ties on the Whole Care Network

Christopher MacLellan, affectionately known as “The Bow Tie Guy” is a former working family caregiver, began the podcast to promote advocacy and communication before, during and after Caregiving end. The Whole Care Network is a story-based platform allowing many podcasters to share their caregiving stories, knowledge and resources.

9. TEDTalks Health

From the popular media organization that hosts TED Talk videos, this podcast offers engaging presentations about health. Various doctors, researchers and experts give their recommendations on healthy practices and medicine.

10. Caregiver SOS: On Air

Gerontologist Carol Zernial and veteran broadcaster Ron Aaron analyze common questions that plague caregivers. Along with Dr. James Huysman, an author and psychologist, these professionals go over issues like transportation and brain changes in the elderly.

11. Caregivers’ Circle

Featuring caregivers tending to children with disabilities, too, this podcast pinpoints unique issues in caregiving. It leads back to the fact that different levels and kinds of care still have universal links.

12. Medtech Talk

Pick up on the complexities of the healthcare industry by listening to commentary from the experts and leaders. Medtech Talk goes over trends and innovations from reliable perspectives. Search through their inventory of episodes to learn about specific solutions that might apply to aging individuals.

13. People With Parents

In storytelling style, comedian Leighann Lord delves into the role reversal aspect of caregiving. As a lighthearted review of the ups and downs of interacting with older parents, she gives her personal account of this unfamiliar terrain.

14. Happy Healthy Caregiver

Consultant Elizabeth Miller examines ways to enhance the routine of a caregiver. With tips for self-care, she encourages those in this role to avoid burnout.

15. Dave, the Caregiver’s Caregiver

Dave Nassaney and Adrienne Gruberg each take one-of-a-kind perspectives to this show as they interview other caregivers. Moving forward through grief and making life full for those in their care is a substantial portion of this podcast.

Tune Into a Helpful Podcast

While caregiving is an intense role, the daily compassionate efforts of professionals and family members are worthwhile. Podcasts can efficiently spread the stories and resources for caregivers as they support their loved ones.

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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How Caregivers Can Create a Safe Environment for Their Patients


As a caregiver, you have many important things to remember and jobs to fulfill. One area that’s essential for your patients is creating a safe environment. Whether it’s in their home, a facility or even the hospital, there are steps you can take to create a place that’s safe and comfortable without undergoing an entire remodel. Simple steps, such as keeping medication within arm’s reach and removing slippery rugs, can make a huge difference.

Here are seven ways to make a space safe for your patients.

1. Start With the Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the easiest places for an accident with constant movement such as bending, sitting, leaning over and more. Depending on the person’s level of activity, you can purchase a portable toilet seat that sits on top of the toilet, so your patient doesn’t need to get up from sitting. You can also install adjustable tub seats or grab bars to make getting in and out of the bathtub or shower easier.

2. Keep the Bedroom Close to Family Activity

If your patient is still living at home, you want to make the space feel normal and safe. Consider moving the master bedroom toward the hub of the family if it’s currently located somewhere else. Try to position it so your patient has views of the outside world through a window or a sliding glass door. You can even rearrange the furniture for clear pathways and put the bed in a place where your patient can access it from all sides.

3. Keep Outdoor Spaces in Good Condition

It’s easy to think of a home modification as just the interior, but the exterior is just as important. You want your patient to have a beautiful outdoor space with plenty of room for them to enjoy certain activities. For example, try repairing any broken steps and installing plenty of lights in case your patient wants to sit outside at night. You can even get creative with colorful furniture or a swing that catches the eye and serves as a focal point.

4. Try Window Film

More hospitals and health care facilities are starting to use window film for protection and energy efficiency. For example, window film can help prevent damage from harsh weather conditions and give your patient greater peace of mind about their home or living situation. Specially designed window films will help shattered glass hold together in places where damage and burglary could occur. Try installing window film in your patient’s home to give it some extra protection.

5. Pay Attention to Floors

Floors can be a safety hazard all on their own. Scatter rugs, frayed carpet or loose edges can all cause your patient to trip. Remove what you can and tape or tack down the loose carpet edges. In the bathroom, try putting safety strips or a nonskid mat at the bottom of the tub to keep the individual from falling. If certain shelves or closets are too high, leave a step stool on the floor of the kitchen or bedroom, so your patient isn’t tempted to stand on a chair.

6. Keep Important Items Within Reach

Odds are your patient would like to keep a level of autonomy. An easy way to grant their wish is by keeping their important items within reach. For example, put a night light on their bedstand along with their medication. In the kitchen, you can keep their favorite snack on the table. Put their toothpaste and toothbrush on top of the bathroom sink. It’s the little things that can make a difference in how they move around.

Make the Environment Comfortable

It’s important to create a safe environment for your patients, but you shouldn’t sacrifice comfort. Give them all the tools they need to live safely and comfortably in your home, and you will exceed a job well done.

About the Author: 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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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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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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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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Filed under Caregiving, Guest Blogger