According to a report by Emblem Health, there are close to sixty six million caregivers in the United States. That means almost one in every three people provides personal care to a loved one or family member. Typically a caregiver’s job includes helping with transportation, grocery shopping, preparing meals, helping with medication, and doing housework. Personal care often includes helping their loved one get dressed, helping with a bath or shower, or help with getting to and from the toilet. The burden of providing all this care usually falls to family members who also have jobs to go to, their own homes and families to take care of, and often their own personal health issues to deal with. The stresses of dealing with all of these responsibilities can in fact turn a caregiver into a patient in need of help. It’s important for caregivers to realize that they must care for themselves and take steps to maintain their own health and well being if they want to be effective in caring for their loved one.
The most effective things a caregiver can do to help their own well-being is first, to accept the fact that they are human and cannot fix everything and second, take a break. A caregiver is not a miracle worker and needs to be realistic about what can be accomplished. Taking a break from caregiving responsibilities relieves caregiver stress and improves the ability to provide care. A break can be something as simple as taking some time to read a book or take a walk or getting some extra scheduled down time. Scheduling down time can be a few hours off or even better, getting regularly scheduled respite care. The respite care may involve using adult day care services for your loved one or regularly scheduling a home health care aide to take care of some of the responsibilities. The bottom line is that its important that the caregiver attends to their own personal health and well being without feeling guilty about getting some much needed help. What steps have you taken to care for the caregiver? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
Being a caregiver for an aging friend or relative can often be a time consuming and daunting job. At least forty two percent of family caregivers spend more than thirty hours a week providing care and seventy six percent of family caregivers say they don’t receive help from other family members. This can make an already tiring job even more stressful not to mention the natural resentment that builds when you feel your siblings are leaving you alone to handle everything. Family dynamics can often play a part in determining who the primary caregiver is. According to the National Association of Geriatric Case Managers, in 99.9% of families, only one sibling takes on the responsibilities of providing care and it’s usually based on geography….the closer you live to mom and dad, the more likely you’ll be the one filling the role of caregiver. Other factors include your work and family situations, your own finances, and your marital status. Very often the problem of getting help from uninvolved siblings can be traced to an issue with communication. Once you take on the role of caregiver, the natural progression of things results in you taking on more and more work as your loved one ages and their health declines. If you just go about your daily tasks and don’t let your siblings know of any changes in your loved one’s condition over time, your siblings may just assume everything is fine and you don’t need any help. So they don’t offer any. It’s best to have a family meeting early in your journey to caregiving….before you are burned out and resentful. It would allow you to openly discuss what the future may hold and would allow family members to identify what their contributions to caregiving would be. Different family members have different talents and different ideas of what “help” means. It would also allow siblings the chance to indicate if there are any personal issues no one is aware of that may limit how much they can help. It’s important to be specific when talking about what would be helpful to you — general pleas for help are just too vague. If you need someone to drive your loved one to appointments or help with the grocery shopping, be clear about it. Don’t assume anyone instinctively knows what needs to be done. It’s important to be honest and try to understand differing points of view while keeping lines of communication open with your siblings. If you get to the point where you aren’t communicating with each other, your loved one is the person who will end up suffering the most. If siblings remain unresponsive or unhelpful, despite your best efforts to communicate with them, consider other options for getting help. Check into getting some in-home services and arranging some respite care. If you allow yourself to get burned out, you won’t be able to help your loved one. How have you gotten siblings on board with caring for your loved one? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
According to the US Department of Labor, over half of America’s workforce is involved in some way with caring for an aging parent or relative. Up to eighty percent of this help is unpaid and according to AARP, the average caregiver provides personal care and does household maintenance chores for at least twelve hours per week. The road to becoming a caregiver for a loved one is often winding with a son or daughter occasionally “helping out”. Your parents slowly age and adaptations are made to accommodate gradual changes in their abilities. Perhaps you offer to help with their banking or write out the bills. If they need groceries you offer to drive them to the store or pick up a few things for them yourself. Maybe you go to the doctor with them to make sure they clearly understand what the doctor has to say. At this point, you don’t view yourself as a “caregiver”. You’re just being a helpful child.
As time goes by and your “helping out” becomes a necessity, it will dawn on you that you are in fact a caregiver. You realize one day that if you stop doing all those helpful things, your loved one won’t be able to function on their own. You now feel obligated to do all these things or to make arrangements so that they do get done. Your loved one’s daily functioning is now your personal responsibility. Welcome to the world of caregiving. You will soon realize what a demanding job this is particularly because you’ll also be juggling a job, family, and personal issues of your own. If your parent or loved one suffers a medical crisis, your level of providing care will rise dramatically. Although your desire may be to tackle this job totally on your own, doing that will surely result in stress, exhaustion, and even physical illness. No matter how much you love someone, where will you find all the hours in the day that you and your loved one need? Be careful not to allow yourself to reach the point of total exhaustion. If you use up all your time and energy to be a caregiver, you will no doubt be robbing you and your loved one of quality time that could otherwise be spent with each other. Be aware there will come a time when it makes sense to get some help. Be wary of taking on so much that you lose sight of your well meant goal of providing the best of care which your loved one both needs and deserves. The road to caregiving is long and full of potholes. Don’t let yourself get run over. Please share your thoughts and experiences below. Visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
It’s that time of year when we wrack our brains trying to select that perfect something to give the special people in our lives. If there is a caregiver who helps us or who cares for a family member or loved one, this is an especially difficult decision to make. What can we possibly get them that would be both meaningful and helpful? What could the caregiver in your life use the most? It seems to me that all caregivers are short of one special thing — time. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to go to work, care for one’s own family, and care for a loved one. Don’t even mention having a social life or time for simple personal interests. If you think about it, anything you can do to free up some time for the caregiver would be appreciated. You can volunteer to do some grocery shopping or you can provide some meals. Better yet, you can stay with the loved one for a while to free up some time for the caregiver to do something for themselves. Volunteer to do some household task like doing the laundry or cleaning house. If you personally don’t have time to do these things, perhaps you could arrange to pay for some of these services to be provided.
It’s important for caregivers to know they are not alone. Providing an opportunity to vent without being judged or criticized can be an invaluable gift. Caregivers often have to deal with family members who provide little help but lots of ideas on how things should be done. Just lending an ear can help relieve the constant stress they are under. In that same vein, a gift certificate for a day at a spa or for a relaxing massage while you take over the caregiver duties would allow for some much needed “me time”.
If you’re more inclined to giving tangible things as gifts, you might consider gift cards for restaurants, grocery stores, or services. Anything that would help defray the costs of living would surely be appreciated. Caregiver reference materials like books or caregiver magazine subscription can help provide tips and advice on how to ease the burden of their duties. Paying for a personal emergency reporting system for their loved one can provide some piece of mind for the caregiver when they are not there. The bottom line is, give the gift of YOU. They surely don’t need another knickknack. Do you have any other caregiver gift ideas? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
Well, we’ve reached that wonderful time of year fondly known as the “holiday season”. This year it began on October 31st. I know….that was Halloween, but all the stores had their Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations up already. Of course, these will be followed by Kwanza and then New Year’s Day will mark the end of the season. If you are a caregiver, this can be a time of very mixed emotions. We all have in the back of our minds a Norman Rockwell memory of holiday seasons past. We remember huge family gatherings, laughter, a table covered with wonderful family favorite dishes, and gifts galore. There were days filled with cooking and baking, shopping for gifts, and decorating our homes. But things are different now. Now a great portion of your time is taken up with all the duties of caring for a senior or loved one. Add to that the time your job and caring for your family takes and you quickly find yourself feeling overwhelmed and resenting the holidays. The memories stirred up by holidays make us realize how much life has changed.
Perhaps the only way to get through this time is with a spirit of acceptance. Accept that life is different. There is no right way or wrong way to celebrate a holiday and every holiday season doesn’t have to be the same. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed while you try to keep up old family traditions. Think about what’s really important to you and your family and try to just do those things. Set limits on what you’re willing to do and don’t make too many social commitments.
There are some practical things you can do to make the season run more smoothly. Simplify things. You can cut back on how much decorating you’ve traditionally done. You don’t have to spend days baking every type of cookie under the sun….there are a lot of wonderful bakeries out there and some deliver right to your door. Ask family members for help….maybe they’d like to do some of the holiday cooking or baking. Keep family gatherings at a smaller more manageable scale and suggest a potluck dinner with everyone bringing something. Most importantly, don’t neglect yourself. Do something for yourself to lower the holiday stress level. Use the resources that are out there whether you call on family and friends or enlist an in-home agency and give yourself a much needed break. After all, caregivers deserve a holiday too. As a caregiver, how have you adjusted your holidays? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
As our parents or someone we care for age, we may notice some behaviors and symptoms often associated with Alzheimer’s. Perhaps our loved one has gotten a bit forgetful or just can’t think of someone’s name or the correct word during a conversation. Maybe they seem to be getting a lot of “senior moments”. It’s very easy to panic and assume they may be getting Alzheimer’s. Actually, that panic is a good thing. It may motivate us to get our loved one in to see their doctor. If Alzheimer’s is the cause of their symptoms, early treatment may slow the progression of this disease. Even more importantly, if it isn’t Alzheimer’s, it may be totally reversible. Yes…….reversible. That’s why it’s important to get the right diagnosis quickly.
Early diagnosis is necessary so treatment can begin before any permanent damage to the brain occurs. The most common cause of reversible dementia is medication. The aging body reacts differently to medications. The liver doesn’t work as well in terms of metabolizing the drugs and the kidneys are slow to eliminate them from the body. This combination makes the amount of drugs in the body accumulate quite quickly. Multiply this retention by the higher number of drugs consumed for a variety of medical problems and you end up with a lot of medication in your system at any given time. The drugs that can cause dementia like symptoms include: corticosteroids, sedatives, antihistamines, heart medications, and antidepressants.
A low level of Vitamin B12 is another culprit. A very low level of this vitamin causes pernicious anemia. The first symptoms of this type of anemia are slowness, confusion, and apathy. Sound a lot like Alzheimer’s, doesn’t it? B12 injections can eliminate the deficiency and get rid of those symptoms.
Another common disorder, a thyroid hormone imbalance, causes dementia like symptoms. Hyperthyroidism, which is an overproduction of thyroid hormones, as well as hypothyroidism, which is an underproduction of thyroid hormone, both cause what looks like dementia. Removing the thyroid or a thyroid replacement medication can often reverse the dementia.
So you see, panicking about what looks like Alzheimer’s can be a good thing. If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, early treatment will help slow its progression. If the symptoms are caused by some other underlying condition, the cognitive problems may be reversible or well managed. In either case, the sooner you know, the better the results will be. What’s your experience been? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com