Tag Archives: caregiving

Saying “No” to Caregiving

According to a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, there are over 44 million unpaid caregivers taking care of elders or someone with disabilities. Statistics show that the majority of care is provided by a family member with the primary caregiver being the youngest unmarried daughter or the oldest son. The closer the child lives to their parent, the more likely they are to become responsible for their parent’s welfare. If there are no local family members, friends often become caregivers. The path to becoming a caregiver can be slow with the caregiver gradually taking on more and more of the responsibility of caring for a parent as they age, or it can be sudden if a parent has a health crisis or suddenly becomes incapacitated. In both cases, neither the parent nor their child realizes there is a caregiver relationship going on. The ongoing care is basically born from a desire to keep a loved one safe and to provide the best care possible.

Very often, it’s not until the caregiver starts developing “symptoms” that they realize they are fully engulfed in their role as caregiver and are in fact dealing with the stress of that role. Some of the symptoms of caregiver stress include anger, fatigue, poor sleep or health, irritability, and depression. The caregiver may feel hopeless, thinking there’s no light at the end of the tunnel and may in fact want to avoid their loved one. If you are losing yourself to the job of caregiving, it may be time to say “no”. Even though you may be overwhelmed, that’s a pretty hard thing to do. After all, you’ve come to believe that only you can do the best for your parent. In fact, that’s not true. You need to realize and accept that you can’t fix everything that is wrong and there are limits to what you can do. Becoming a martyr helps no one. Your role as a primary caregiver is critical enough that your poor health will surely put your elder at risk also. It’s important to decide what’s reasonable for you to do and to assess other aspects of your personal life and see where your role as caregiver fits in. Set boundaries for your role and get help before you reach a breaking point. Getting help doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a caregiver or left a parent to fend for themselves. It just means that something has to change so that you can continue to be useful to the one you love. Have you had to say “no” as a caregiver? Please share your thoughts below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com.

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Filed under Aging in Place, Caregiver, companionship, Home Care, Senior Care, Trillium HomeCare

Senior Health and Depresssion


If you care for a senior you need to be on the lookout for signs of depression. With older adults, health issues and depression are often involved in a vicious cycle. Because many seniors deal with chronic health issues and pain on a daily basis, they end up being depressed. To complicate matters, depression can be manifested in seniors through increased aches and pains. It’s like the old question, “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” This problem is further complicated by the fact that many seniors take an assortment of medications to deal with their health issues. These medications also play a role in their depression.

Some of the signs of depression to look for in your loved one include a lack of energy or motivation, any aches and pains that can’t be explained or have become increasingly aggravated, problems with memory, increased irritability, and slowed speech or movement. Be especially mindful of any lack of personal care on their part. Are they eating regularly, taking their medications, or neglecting their personal hygiene?

A variety of medical issues can lead to depression or make it worse. Among them are Parkinson’s disease, thyroid disorders, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or a vitamin B12 deficiency. Many prescription drugs also play a major role in causing depression. Included in the list of culprits are beta-blockers that treat high blood pressure, corticosteroids for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, drugs to treat Parkinson’s, hormones for post-menopausal symptoms, and proton pump inhibitors to treat GERD.

As a caregiver you need to know that depression is not a normal part of aging. If you suspect that your loved one may be dealing with depression, no matter what you think may be causing it, it’s time to talk to the doctor. Perhaps a chronic condition can be better managed. If you suspect medication to be the culprit, your doctor may recommend something else. You can help your loved one by getting them involved in some social activities or encouraging them to follow interests or hobbies they once had. Make sure they eat properly and help them get some exercise. Don’t just assume it’s all part of getting older. Do you have any tips for dealing with a loved one’s depression? Comment below and visit us at: http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Filed under Aging in Place, Caregiver, companionship, Home Care, Senior Care, Trillium HomeCare

Commission On Long-Term Care

The concept of “aging in place” is one of the driving forces in the projected caregiver shortage we will soon be facing in America. Based on a survey conducted by AARP in 2005, over 85 percent of Americans who are 50 years of age and older, want to remain in their own homes as they age. More than anything, they want to keep that sense of independence that comes with the familiarity and routine of being in their own environment. Seniors aging at home have more control over their own lives and a greater say in care they may need as they age. They have a greater sense of community and the ability to stay connected with neighbors and friends. Most seniors see aging in place as a happier, safer, and healthier lifestyle.

Combine this desire with the changing face of the American population and you will see some problems ahead. In the year 2000 there were approximately 35 million baby boomers in America. By the year 2030, that number is expected to double to more than 71 million according to the latest survey by AARP. At this time as much as 80% of the extra care provided to seniors living at home as they age is being provided by unpaid friends and relatives. The problem is that the pool of unpaid workers is getting smaller and smaller because baby boomers didn’t have as many children as earlier generations did. There will be fewer family members to take on the task of caregiving. According to AARP, by 2030 there will be only four potential caregivers for each senior 80 years old or older.
In short, there will be more aging people needing help in their own homes and fewer people available to provide the care.

The federal government has recently appointed a “Commission on Long-Term Care”. The commission has been given the assignment of coming up with a plan to ensure the availability of long term services and supports for people with disabilities and for seniors needing care. By mid September they will need to address the shortage of caregivers and come up with a plan on how to provide and pay for long term care. Stay tuned for updates and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Managing the Wanderer

If you care for someone with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia, you have a 60% chance of having to deal with your loved one’s wandering behavior. Those are pretty high odds and especially frightening for a caregiver. Let’s face it, you can’t be with someone every minute of every day and wandering may be impossible to prevent in all cases. Take heart because there are practical steps you can take to minimize the dangers.

First and foremost, make sure the home environment is secure. Be certain there are secure locks on the windows and all the exterior doors. A keyed deadbolt lock that’s placed up high or down low on the door may be out of your loved one’s line of vision and less noticeable. Hanging bells on the door will alert you if someone is trying to get out. Disguising the door by painting it the same color as the wall may serve to camouflage it and deter the instinct to go through the doorway. Hanging a “STOP” sign on the door can help bring out the long ingrained response of actually stopping. If your loved one gets confused in their search for a specific room like the bathroom or bedroom, it may help to hang a picture on the door of what’s behind the door.

Try to keep any visual reminders of traveling out of sight. Don’t leave car keys, shoes, and jackets, purses, or anything that may remind your loved one of going somewhere, in plain view. Pressure sensitive alarm mats can be placed in front of doors to alert you if someone tries to leave. These are also great placed beside a bed to let you know if your loved one gets up at night. Baby monitors throughout the house can help you keep track of your loved one when you’re in a different room.

Although it does involve some expense, fencing your yard is a good idea. Make sure there are locks on the gates and any outside paths shouldn’t lead right to the gates. This may actually provide a safe place for your loved one to fulfill that need to wander. It’s also a good idea to let your neighbors know about the wandering. The extra eyes and ears will be priceless if your loved one gets out. Sewing your loved one’s name and phone number in some inconspicuous spot on their clothing will help identify them if they get lost and someone tries to guide them back. A combination of these measures will go a long way toward keeping your wanderer safe but if they do get away, call the police IMMEDIATELY. What measures have helped you keep your wandering loved one safe? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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I Wonder Why You Wander

Anyone who cares for a loved one or friend with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia will eventually be faced with the problem of wandering.  More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s and the Alzheimer’s Association believes that six out of every ten of them will eventually wander.  More than half of these wanderers will become seriously injured or die within the first 24 hours of their disappearance.  As a caregiver, this can become one of your worst nightmares coming true.  Wandering can also occur with those who have autism, Down syndrome, and Parkinson’s disease.  It can occur in many forms and variations ranging from simply pacing back and forth within a room to moving from room to room within the home. At its most dangerous level, wandering away from home or supervised care can leave your loved one in dangerous circumstances. Risks include weather, traffic, and those who can prey on the elderly or disabled.  Combine these factors with the dementia sufferer’s diminished memory and impaired sense of time and direction and you can end up with a loved one who is disoriented and afraid while far from home and perhaps unable to communicate clearly about where they’re from or unable to respond if their name is called.

There are a variety of reasons your loved one may wander and scientists are still not sure why the dementia your loved one suffers from leads to this roaming behavior.  That being said, you need to know that there are some specific triggers for the wandering.  Common medications your loved takes can cause restlessness and result in wandering.  These include thyroid replacement therapy, antipsychotics, diuretics (often prescribed for hypertension), and pseudoephedrine (eg. Sudafed,Drixoral) which is used for colds and congestion.

If your loved one has a lot of excess energy or just the opposite and is very bored, they can have a hard time concentrating and will express it by wandering.   Physical problems or pain as well as stress of any sort can express itself in the need to walk or keep moving.  Any change in environment or daily routine can make a person with dementia disoriented and in an effort to escape from the new routine or environment they may just keep moving. 

As the dementia progresses, the one you care for will start living in the past more and their confusion may lead them to search for someone from a long time ago.  The loss of short term memory may make them forget where they are going and why. Insomnia that often accompanies dementia can cause disorientation and result in confusing night with day and your loved one might go out in the middle of the night.  The dementia can cause your loved one to be unable to differentiate between reality and dreams and they may end up wandering in response to something they actually dreamed. Have you noticed other triggers for wandering by your loved one?  Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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The Aging Appetite

 

As our senior loved ones get older, we often notice them eating less or what appears to us as not at all because food just doesn’t seem to taste good to them.  We may wish we had that same issue as even glancing at a donut seems to cause the numbers on that bathroom scale to go up.  Unfortunately, for seniors, a decrease in the ability to taste foods can lead to a variety of problems. When our loved ones can’t taste food as well as they once did the result is a lower appetite.  That in turn translates into weight loss and in more severe cases our loved one can become malnourished or even deteriorate medically.  As caregivers, we can’t help but worry when someone we care for seems to be wasting away. 

     By the time we are fifty years old our ability to recognize different tastes starts to diminish.  This is part of the natural aging process.  In addition, there are some underlying health problems that can contribute to decreased ability to taste food.  Among the most common problems are the presence of diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, allergies, and sinusitis.  Smoking, dental problems, and some medications can also affect the sense of taste.  If we notice our loved ones eating less and complaining about tasteless food, we need to get in touch with their doctor and address any medical problems they may have.  Getting any medical issues under control should help a healthy appetite return.  If this loss of appetite is simply due to aging, there are things we can do.

     First and foremost, don’t pressure your loved one to eat more.  Stressing someone out never leads to a healthy appetite. Have a frank discussion about the importance of eating and try to enlist your loved one’s help.  You can try serving smaller meals more frequently than the traditional three squares a day.  Your loved one won’t be overwhelmed by what they may think is a lot of food.  Turn a meal into a social event and try to share a meal with your loved one whenever you can.  This can take the pressure off eating and make mealtime something your loved one looks forward to.  If your loved one’s diet allows, try increasing and changing the seasonings used in their food. If possible, encourage some exercise or getting some fresh air to increase appetite.  Do you have any tips that have worked to get your loved one to eat? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

    

 

 

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Filed under Caregiver, companionship, Home Care, Personal care, Senior Care, Trillium HomeCare, Uncategorized

Is It Time For Home Care?

As our parents age, we gradually take on the responsibility of caring for them and helping them with their activities of daily life. It starts out slowly. Perhaps we make extra portions of dinner and bring it to them so they have a nice hot meal. Maybe we pick mom up and take her grocery shopping so she doesn’t have to drive. When we stop by we put the garbage out or do a couple loads of laundry. After all, our goal is to keep them safe and comfortable in their own home surrounded by their own familiar things. As our parents age, the number and frequency of these thoughtful actions slowly increase. Then one morning we wake up to find we are now the parents, making daily decisions for them and helping them with everything. It’s time for home care. Just the thought of getting professional home care for our loved one can stir up deep feelings of guilt. It’s important to remember that we owe our loved ones the honest, warm relationship that exists between loving parents and children. We need to keep that role as a loving child alive and not trade it in for a role as a caregiver. This is often compounded by the issue of juggling the demands of work and our own children.. The signals that our parents need help are often subtle and we may not come to this realization until we’ve become overwhelmed by caregiving. Remember, you can’t be much help to them if you are burned out yourself. Look for these clues that it may be time to get some help.

*Is their personal hygiene good? Do they bathe regularly? Are teeth being brushed and hair combed?
*Are there any physical changes in your loved ones? Do they look thinner? Do they seem weak or do they fall frequently?
*Are meals being prepared? Is there any stale or expired food in the refrigerator or cupboards?
*Is the house being cleaned and maintained? Is there a lot of clutter or trash around?
*Does the car have any unexplained dents or scratches? Has your loved one gotten lost driving somewhere familiar?
*Are there any safety issues like coffee pots left on or doors left unlocked at night?
*Have you noticed any memory problems? Have appointments been missed or medications not taken?
*Are your loved ones isolating themselves and avoiding social functions or family gatherings?
*Have you noticed any mental changes? Are they often moody or seem distant and vague?

If you see some of these changes in your loved ones, it may be time to talk to the family about getting some help for them. As parents age, its often easier to accustom them to having someone come in to the home for shorter periods of time. As their needs change, the type and amount of help can be adjusted. The goal is to help your seniors stay in their own home for as long as possible. This is where they are the most comfortable. Have you noticed other signals that your parents need help? Share below. Don’t forget to visit us at www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Caregiver, companionship, Farmington Hills, Health care services, Home Care, House Keeping, Medication Reminder, Personal care, Senior Care, Transportation, Uncategorized, West Bloomfield

How Can I Get A Good Night’s Sleep?

How Can I Get A Good Night’s Sleep?

If you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep there are things you can do:

1. Try to follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time, even on weekends.
2. Take time do something relaxing before bedtime such as reading a book or listening to music.
3. Melatonin regulates your sleep/wake cycle. Bright light suppresses its production in your body. Try to get some exposure to bright sunlight in the daytime and avoid the bright lights of the television or computer screen before bed so your body produces melatonin to help you fall asleep at night.
4. Get some exercise at least three hours before bedtime.
5. Don’t eat a heavy meal at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
6. Use your bedroom for sleep, not for watching TV or working.
7. Make sure your bedroom is comfortable, dark, and cool (about 65 degrees).
8. Avoid caffeine after noon. It can affect your sleep for 10-12 hours after consumption.
9. Avoid alcohol before bed. Although it may help you fall asleep by relaxing you, it will make it harder for you to stay asleep.
10. Don’t smoke before going to bed. The nicotine in cigarettes is a stimulant.
11. Use the bathroom before going to bed to reduce the need to get up at night.
12. If you get insomnia often, try not to nap during the day.
13. If you get sleepy much too early for bedtime, don’t just sit around. Do something mildly active so you don’t sleep too early in the evening.

If you follow these tips for two or three weeks and your sleep doesn’t improve or if you find you’re so tired throughout the day that you can’t function well, be sure to see your doctor or a sleep disorder specialist. What have you found to be helpful in dealing with sleep problems? Share below.

Don’t forget to visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Caregiver, companionship, Farmington Hills, Health care services, Home Care, House Keeping, Medication Reminder, Personal care, Senior Care, Transportation, Uncategorized, West Bloomfield