All posts tagged: eldercare

7 Ways To Practice Self-Care While Caring For Others

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Schedule time for self care

No Care Without Self-Care

Caregivers in the United States are a diverse group of individuals that represent approximately 17% of Americans. Nearly 40 million people that differ in age, gender, socioeconomic status, and racial/ethnic background have taken on the responsibility of caring for the needs of someone living with a chronic condition, a disability, or the impacts of old age on their own self-care.

Caring for a loved one can be one of the most rewarding acts you may perform in your lifetime, but it can also be one of the most challenging. Typically, family caregivers wear multiple hats; you are the nurse, the banker, the psychologist, and the chauffeur. Due to the wide range of responsibilities, your role is vital to the sustainability and longevity of your care-receiver.

In contrast, studies have shown that caregivers need to maintain their own self-care, as caregiving can have negative impacts on a caregiver’s health, both physical and emotional.

To ensure caregiver burnout does not occur, you must practice emotional hygiene with the same diligence you take when caring for your loved one.

Emotional hygiene refers to the practice of being mindful of our psychological health and adopting brief daily habits to monitor and address psychological wounds when we sustain them.

As caregiver burnout can manifest itself in a variety of ways, a few common signs to look out for include:

anxiety, depression, irritability, new or worsening health problems, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, drinking, smoking or eating more, or neglecting your self-care, health, and wellness.

Optimize Your Self-Care

Although there is no one-size-fits-all remedy for caregiver burnout, there are a number of things you can all do to ensure you are optimizing your own personal health and wellness. To those that believe there is just not enough time in the day for self-care, ask yourself, “What good will I be to the person I care for if I become ill?”

Once you’ve answered that question, consider the following strategies to improve your quality of life:

  1. Make Your Wellbeing A Priority

We often try to postpone our happiness and wellbeing for a more convenient time. Others may decide that their happiness will be achieved with the completion of a milestone. However, if you continue to delay your happiness, you will find that your days become weeks, weeks become months, and months become years. By the time you may feel ready, too much time will have passed. Do your best to live in the present moment, and choose happiness, now.

  1. Take Inventory

I encourage you all to make this important step when beginning your journey to self-care. Sometimes we just don’t know where to begin, and if that is the case with you, begin by taking inventory. I encourage you to examine 3 major aspects of your wellbeing – spiritual, mental, and physical – and rank them on a scale from 1 to 10. If any particular area ranks below 5, then prioritize that as your initial area of improvement.

  1. Establish A Morning Ritual

Time is a barrier for most people, even those who are not caregivers. Allocating even just 10 minutes to yourself in the morning can have profound impacts on your mood and outlook on life. You can take those 10 minutes to tend to your spiritual, mental, and physical wellness. Things to consider doing include meditation, writing down personal development goals, and stretching.

  1. Create A Happiness List And Practice It

When we become consumed with the wellbeing of others, we tend to forget about the things that bring us joy. I encourage you all to create a happiness list of 10-20 items.Identify things that cost money, and those that do not. Give yourself permission to indulge yourself with the items on your list, even if they cost money. Remember, you work hard. An occasional treat is a good self-care investment towards your happiness. Whether it be a manicure or a walk around the park, pick a few items on your list and practice it at least 1 hour a week.

If you’re feeling really low, try to pick an item from your list and do it every single day.

  1. Create A Daily Self-Care Log

Use a daily self-care log as a tool to help you summarize various components of your self-care. It should break down the essential components of your day that contribute to your overall wellness. Try to keep track of the following items and monitor changes in your behavior and how they affect your wellbeing:

  1. Meals for the day
  2. Physical activity
  3. Medications
  4. Sleep
  5. Daily goals
  6. End of day recap
  7. Goals for tomorrow
  1. Establish An Evening Ritual

Turning off our brains at the end of the night can sometimes be a challenge. Implementing an evening ritual can ease the transition into sleep mode. When you have a million tasks to complete the next day, doing some planning the night before can help you get a jump start.

Also, it is a good idea to avoid technology (cell phones, computers, and television) at least 1 hour before bed for optimal self-care. Avoiding electronics can help your brain transition into a state of rest.

Incorporating restful activities before bed can be useful as well: deep breathing, prayer, and meditation can help bring your body and mind to a restful and peaceful place which can enhance your quality of sleep.

  1. Guided Meditation

Incorporating guided meditation into your daily routine can significantly improve your state of mind and outlook on life. Not only has guided meditation been known to reduce stress, it also increases happiness, improves your concentration, and has positive impacts on your cardiovascular and immune health. Although it may be difficult to get your mind to calm itself, taking a few minutes away from the stress of life can provide a calm alertness that can motivate you to continue your journey to a happier life.

There are as many ways to practice self-care as there are caregivers. Find what works to relieve your stress and help you decompress from the stresses of your life, and make an effort to practice self-care activities, and you will find that your ability to care for others improves as well.

CareAcademy online classes help caregivers take care of themselves and others.

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Andria Reta7 Ways To Practice Self-Care While Caring For Others
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4 Tips to Manage Medication

Pill box to help manage medication

Organization, dedication and commitment are all the skills you need to be a competent caregiver. It requires your time, efforts, and most importantly, your utmost attention when it comes to taking care of the elderly. Knowing how to manage medication is important for our day to day life.

From my personal experience, I have found that managing my mother’s Alzheimer’s medication requires most of my time and patience. Whether it’s collecting medication from the pharmacy or storing it safely at home, medication needs to be supervised constantly.

Tablets, liquids and other painkillers are vital if you’re looking after someone who relies on their medication as it gets them through the day. More often than not, I’m constantly chasing up my mother’s doctor or pharmacist about receiving her medication before it runs out. I like to ensure I’ve got a full batch of her painkillers, Alzheimer’s prescription, and anything else my mother requires in case of an emergency.

More medication, more problems

As a caregiver, the most complicated part is the list of medication my mother requires on a regular basis. As years pass and her condition drastically changes her mobility, the list of her medication has grown! Doctors prescribe new medication almost every other month. It’s my job to keep up to date with it all, but at the end of the day, I’m only human, and some things can get left forgotten.

More lists are the last thing I need in my life. However, my mother’s medication is imperative to her life, which is why I’ve created a few tips to consider in order to manage medication effectively:

Pill Boxes
Pill boxes are a great little storage box to organize daily medication. Whether it’s taking medication during the day or at night, pill boxes are easily accessible and can be brought from your local pharmacy or supermarket.

Medication Alarms
A medication alarm can be great reminder when to give medication if you have thousands of errands to run daily. Although a little expensive, substitute a medication alarm with calendar alerts on your Smartphone.

In Sight, In Mind
Keep it visible to yourself. I’ve often found that when my mother needs her medication, I’m frantically searching for her painkillers in a bag full of other medication. Now, I’ve created her very own medicine cabinet which I have easy access to, but I make sure it’s out of reach from her for her own safety and protection. All medication should be stored in a cool, dry, secure place.

Use Your Daily Routine
Combine it with another daily task. Some medication requires to be taken with, or just after eating food. This is one of the most convenient times I have found to give my mom her medication. By combining it with another daily task, this leaves me more time to plan and complete other responsibilities.

These are just some general tips on how to manage medication. Of course, you have to take into consideration the different types of medication for the individual you are caring for. Keep topical medication away from oral medication. It’s important not to mix medication as this can lead to health related problems.

Medication can, and does, incorporate a more comfortable and better life for the individual. Not only does it prevent other medical problems, but it can contribute to longer life spans. Therefore, it is essential to handle and manage medication responsibly.

CareAcademy’s online class “Assisting with Personal Care” provides caregivers thorough direction
on how to manage medication for all types of patients.

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Siddiqa Khalifa4 Tips to Manage Medication
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5 Ways to Avoid Caregiver Stress

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease can be overwhelming and seeing the person you love struggle with loss of memory, and eventual loss of identity, takes a huge enormous emotional and physical toll on caregivers.

If you are a caregiver, pay attention to the following signs of caregiver stress:

  • Excessive stress and tension
  • Debilitating depression
  • Persistent anxiety, anger, or guilt
  • Extreme irritability or anger with the person with memory loss
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Change in eating habits

Ways you can help avoid caregiver stress:

  1. Exercise regularly
Walking, yoga and jogging are all great ways to help reduce stress. As your brain and heart receive the benefits of exercise, the caregiver will feel more relaxed and find they have more energy.
  1. Keep a journal
Keeping a journal can help reduce stress and you don’t have to worry about being a professional writer. Your journal is for your eyes only, and gives you the opportunity to express your feelings and emotions. It can be very healing.
  1. Talk to people you trust
Having a close friend or family member you can talk to, without holding back, can be very therapeutic. Turning to the people you trust will provide you with the emotional support you need while helping to reduce your stress and anxiety.   
  1. Learn to Relax
Taking the time to learn deep breathing techniques, meditation, and practicing mindfulness, can be very beneficial in reducing stress. They have both immediate, and long term benefits and can help you learn to relax when your stress and anxiety is at its highest.
  1.  Learn to Let Go
Be willing to let go and delegate some of your caregiving responsibilities to others.   As you become more comfortable allowing others to chip-in and help you care for your loved one, you’ll discover that by doing so, you are taking better care of yourself.  Use this time to exercise, talk with a friend or practice your relaxation techniques.  

CareAcademy’s online classes help family and professional caregivers learn tips and skills to excel, including ways to manage caregiver stress. Find out more!

 
Elayne Forgie5 Ways to Avoid Caregiver Stress
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Seniors & Oral Health: A Caregiver’s Guide

Oral health is important throughout one’s life, and its importance in older adults is often not addressed. Older adults today are keeping their teeth longer, thanks to modern day dental medicine and using their dental insurances to visit dentists in their youth.  When age-related changes start to affect a patient’s teeth and gums, certain decisions need to be made regarding that individual’s dentition. Some common oral health related conditions found in the elderly are:
  • Dry mouth, which may be caused by certain medications. Talk to your physician to find out if this may be happening to you or your loved one, your dentist can present several solutions to this problem.
  • Disease related changes may include gum recession and decay along the roots of teeth.
  • Improper oral hygiene can lead to increased decay.
  • Advanced periodontal disease is associated with loosening of teeth, pain, and infection.
While it is important to visit the dentist every six months, a routine daily oral health care plan (brushing, tongue cleaning, cleaning between teeth using aids) performed twice daily is essential. Some elderly patients may be highly dependent on their care givers to perform daily oral health tasks. While most medical conditions are addressed early on, dental treatment is not always high on the priority list of geriatric care. In fact, it really needs to be. Often patients’ children or caregivers will ask me, “How do I know if I need to bring my chronically ill parent/patient to the dentist? If it’s worth the trip or if anything can really be done given their condition?” All of these are legitimate concerns, and there is no blanket reply as every situation is different. It is always a good idea to have a medical professional look inside the geriatric patient’s mouth every 4-6 months to note changes.

Warning Signs of Oral Health Issues

Some signs that can be easily evaluated by caregivers should raise red flags and need the attention of a dentist right away. That does not mean that all other signs must be ignored just because they are not on the following list. The list includes but is not limited to the following :
  • Very loose teeth that may fall off on their own causing the patient to swallow or aspirate them. They can get lodged in the patient’s throat, which is very dangerous. 
  • Sharp or broken teeth that can cause injury to the lips, cheek, or tongue. This is especially important if the patient is on blood thinners, as this can cause excessive bleeding.
  • Any swelling of lips, gums, and cheeks, or presence of white or yellow pus, is often indicative of an infection and must be treated right away.
  • Sharp or broken edges of dentures (complete or partial dentures) or hooks of dentures that do not engage any natural remaining tooth (in the case that the tooth has broken off). This may cause pain/ bleeding or lacerate supporting tissues of the oral cavity.
  • Difficulty chewing food and difficulty swallowing.
  • Any report of pain in the mouth.
  • Very small dentures that contain only one or two teeth should be removed from the mouth and evaluated.
All of these situations should to be addressed immediately by a dentist. An oral health appointment does not need to be long or tedious. Most dentists are well aware of the extensive medical conditions and chronic illness of their geriatric patients. However, it may be useful to inquire if the dentist has any experience working on medically-compromised older adults, or has received any additional training in geriatric dental medicine or special care dentistry. Dentists may also opt to make a house call in some special situations. As a caregiver, it is essential that daily oral health practices are followed to prevent unforeseen situations like those previously mentioned. It is while performing oral hygiene for the patient, that caregivers are most likely to notice changes in the oral cavity. It is also important to contact a dentist right away if any of the situations on the list arise, or in case of any doubt. Ignoring one’s teeth and oral health means ignoring one’s overall health. Studies have linked poor quality of life and poor nutritional intake to poor oral health among the elderly. Create an oral health plan for your loved one. Contact a dentist should you have any questions.  

Caring for an older adult involves many aspects of personal care. CareAcademy’s online classes involve safety precautions and tips to keep environments and clients healthy.

Kady RawalSeniors & Oral Health: A Caregiver’s Guide
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Caregiver Tips: How to Calm Agitated Adults

Older adults with dementia (a disease that causes problems thinking and remembering) are frequently confused. Sometimes, this confusion becomes more problematic than usual, and the person with dementia can become agitated. This can be a frightening and stressful experience for both you and the elder! Today, we’ll go over some of the causes, and caregiver tips to help.

What do we mean by “agitation”?

Doctors often refer to agitation as “behavioral disturbance” – a change in the way the person is behaving into something that wouldn’t be considered part of normal emotions and reactions. “Agitation” can take a lot of different forms, including:
  • Crying uncontrollably
  • Cursing or yelling at people in everyday situations
  • Screaming the same words over and over again, such as “help me!”
  • Hitting, punching, slapping or scratching
  • Using a cane or walker as a weapon
Why does agitation happen? Agitation happens when the elder with dementia is in some kind of distress, but isn’t able to express themselves and fix their problems. In many ways, an agitated older adult is similar to a crying baby – there could be many reasons why, and it’s up to caregivers to figure out what’s wrong this time. In order to help stop the problem, it takes a little bit of detective work.  Physical problems. Agitation can be a result of:
  • Pain
  • Hunger
  • Thirst or dehydration
  • Tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Needing to urinate
Emotional problems. Agitation can also be an expression of:
  • Fear
  • Grief
  • Feeling overwhelmed
Psychological problems. In some cases, older adults with dementia can experience problems with how their brains process what is happening in the world. This can include
  • Hallucinations – seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there
  • Delusions – believing things that aren’t true. Some examples include that their belongings have been stolen when they are still in the house, or that their family members are impostors.
If you think that the elder is having delusions or hallucinations, it’s important to discuss it with the person’s doctor.

Caregiver Tips: 4 Steps to Relieving Agitation

Step 1. Determine the pattern.

Tease out when, where, and under what circumstances the older adult becomes agitated. Some common examples include:
  • During bath time or with clothing changes
  • In noisy surroundings
  • Evening hours
  • When startled
It often helps to keep a log or journal of agitation, including what time it happened, what had been going on right beforehand, what the person was doing, what other nearby people were doing, and what kind of agitated behavior resulted. You might also include anything you tried to calm them down, and whether or not it worked.

Step 2. Think about what you already know.

Racking your brain for what you already know about the elder will help you put the agitation into context. Ask yourself:
  • What health problems does the elder have? Do they have had knee arthritis that might be causing them pain? Did they complain about constipation when they were younger? Is their eyesight very poor, and might they not be able to see someone who is standing to their side?
  • What were their habits? Was this person a night owl who always stayed up late, but now has to go to bed early because of the family’s schedule? Was this person a loner who never liked to be in large groups?
  • What did they like to do for fun? What would calm them down when they were upset as a younger and healthier person? Did they like to listen to music, spend time outdoors, or cuddle with a beloved pet?

Step 3. Ask more questions.

When the older person is agitated, try asking them what’s wrong. If you don’t get an answer, ask more specific questions, like:
  • Does anything hurt? If the answer is yes, but they can’t show you where, try gently pointing to different body parts that might hurt. Common spots include knees, back and belly.
  • Do you have to go to the bathroom?
  • Are you scared? You might follow this up with What are you scared of?
  • Do you want a glass of water?
  • Do you want your ______? Some favorite objects might include glasses, particular blanket, remote control, or book.

Step 4. Put 2 + 2 together.

The best caregiver tips I have to help stop agitation are for you to figure out what’s causing it, and to change that situation. Here are two examples. Example 1:  Donna always got upset and started crying whenever her daughter brought her to church, even though she had loved going every Sunday when she was younger. It was particularly bad when the organist started playing. Her daughter then tried having her watch church services on TV, and found that she really enjoyed these. She realized that Donna was overwhelmed by the crowds of people and loud noises. Her daughter started bringing her to the mid-week services on Wednesdays, which did not have any organ music and only a few attendees. Donna brightened up during these services every week. Example 2:  Walter would start howling and swinging every time his home health aide would try to give him a bath, particularly when she was getting him into the bathtub. His son looked through Walter’s medical records and noticed that his doctor had recommended getting a hip replacement for bad arthritis, but Walter never had it done. The home health aide and son realized that Walter’s hip probably hurt when he had to lift his leg to get into the tub. His son started giving him Tylenol an hour before scheduled baths, and Walter was much calmer.

Still stuck?

If you try these caregiver tips without any luck, it’s a good idea to get help from an expert. Some resources include:
  • The elder’s doctor. The doctor might make suggestions, change medications, or refer you to a specialist, such as a geriatrician, psychiatrist, or neurologist.
  • A geriatric care manager. These are usually nurses or social workers who specialize in caring for older adults.
  • Support groups of other caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association runs many of these all over the United States.
 

Learn more caregiver tips from professionals. Online classes for caregivers of any experience level: CareAcademy

 
Laura PerryCaregiver Tips: How to Calm Agitated Adults
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To Underrated & Overwhelmed Family Caregivers: Thank You.

I did not provide 24/7 care for my mother during her final years with Alzheimer’s.  But I know of many families who do. Being responsible for the care of someone else is daunting, especially for family caregivers.  Ask any parent who has endured sleepless nights with their child.
I vividly remember sleeping on the floor of my ten year-old daughter’s room one night.  She woke me up complaining of leg pain and some tingling.  At 2am all I could think of as a possible explanation was spinal meningitis!  I grabbed my pillow, reassured her it was probably just “growing pains,” and if she felt anything else to wake me up, not that I could sleep anyway.  She was fine in the morning, and I was as relieved as I was exhausted.
The distinct difference between caring for your child and your parent is the expectation that your child will be fine and grow into adulthood.  Your medically-compromised parent or other adult in your care may not “be fine” ever again. What starts out as a full time care commitment of a newborn gradually evolves, as the child learns to feed themselves, dress without help, walk to the bus stop, etc. Naturally parental care diminishes as a child’s skills “improve with age.” Not so when a family takes on the care of an aging parent or other adult.  Depending on the medical circumstances, they are not likely to “improve with age.” What starts out as a part time care commitment of an elderly adult, gradually evolves for family caregivers, as the older adults require increasingly more help with self care, transportation to appointments, cooking, laundry, and other daily activities.  

Family Caregivers Are There “From Cradle to Grave”

My mother had a multitude of phrases, some of which didn’t make any sense.  But I always understood the message with her often-repeated phrase, “from cradle to grave.”  Although I was young, I remember my grandfather living with us for a short time.  He had dementia and other disabilities from multiple strokes.  My father and uncle were making arrangements to move their dad into a more reputable facility after my mother witnessed his nursing home caregiver slap him! During the interim, Grandpa moved in with us. I was too young to grasp the specifics, but I certainly remember the tense atmosphere at our house while he lived with us, while we were his family caregivers.  I distinctly recall snippets of dialogue between my mom or dad and my grandfather.  They were always calm, repeating questions or directions until Grandpa complied or answered. But I also remember overhearing my parents talking with each other about my grandfather’s situation.  Apparently, dad was very busy launching something big at work and felt he had “abandoned” Mom with the responsibility of caring for his dad. I couldn’t hear my mom’s reply, but knowing her as I did, she would have been reassuring and accepting of the responsibility on behalf her husband’s father. I definitely understood and felt the impact of her expression “from cradle to grave.”  My grandfather passed away from another stroke after a few months.

Giving Back to Family Caregivers

Decades later, my dad suffered a moderate stroke, launching my mother into her nine-year role as his selfless caregiver.  Although he described her as his “task master,” her encouragement peppered with her strong will kept him mobile “until the very end.” During those years, my mother was increasingly adamant that should she ever need long term, care she did not want to live with me.  Mom had witnessed and experienced first hand the toll on family caregivers, and she refused to put me in those shoes.  “Just find me someplace nice, and come visit me,” she often said. And when the time came, I did exactly as she had instructed “until the very end.” 

My Kudos to Family Caregivers

I genuinely applaud families who take on the responsibility of caring for an aging loved one.  Kudos to all family caregivers, who are underappreciated and overextended.  It’s often a thankless undertaking. Let me make it clear that it really doesn’t go unnoticed, and I thank you!  

Check out the CareAcademy online class that teaches the best communication practices for family caregivers.

Elaine PereiraTo Underrated & Overwhelmed Family Caregivers: Thank You.
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How Senior Care Agencies Build Relationships With Clients

As an owner of private senior care agencies in Atlanta, Georgia, the topic of how agencies can build relationships with clients truly ignites my passion. Before I can get into explaining building relationships with clients, we must look at the word relate. The word relate is defined: to show or make a connection.

Making connections is one way that senior care agencies build relationships with clients.

One of the ways we make connections with ours elderly clients is having parties where we play Bingo with them. The game Bingo truly excites the elderly community it seems to bring joy to them. They laughed and joke, and we have a meal at the end to wrap up the party with them, looking forward to next time. We have found as an agency that playing Bingo makes a wonderful connection with the senior community that can never be broken. In order for agencies to build relationships, we have to create a bonds with our clients that are not easily broken.

One of the complaints that I get from the elderly community is people don’t care about them anymore.

For one, they say their family members don’t come and see them as much. They feel like their social lives have become dormant. Another way we have been able to create a successful bond with our senior population is by going into assisted living and nursing homes and have short chapel services. Most elderly would like to go the Church, but because of their condition they aren’t able or other circumstances may be holding them back. So we take Church to them, I reflect on a times I went to read scriptures and sing songs. Now, I do not say that I am a singer, but singing in front of a group of elderly men and women, I felt like Elvis Presley and Nate King Cole. They sung along. They led songs. I really had a great time, and so did they. It’s these types of interaction that really create bonds and build relationships with our elderly community. Our seniors are always looking for outlets to bond with individuals who care for them, love them, and will be patient with them. Another way we find that helps us as senior care agencies to build relationships with clients is to understand their plight. As an agency or an individual you have to put yourself in their shoes. We work and care for some elderly who are visually impaired. So, I sometimes close my eyes for about 15 minutes as if I was blind and begin to feel my way through a large room, so that I would understand for at least a moment and not forget how difficult it is when you do not have your sight. That’s just one example of the way we relate as a caring community. It’s important to do all we can to ensure we understand how seniors are feeling.

One of the best ways to build a connection and a relationship is to listen.

At times we are so quick to just do our job instead of listening. Don’t allow the job duties to come before the relationship and the key point of simply listening. I believe that I am love by senior because I listen to them. I have explained to groups who desire to become senior care agencies, and I have told them that in order to build relationship with clients you must listen. I identify myself as is I was the son of the people that my agency cares for. I tell my caregivers this. It’s my model when we care for them: Treat them as mothers and fathers. You and I both know that as a child, it’s our responsibility to listen to our parents and elders. This strategy of listening has allowed me to grow my senior care agencies by leaps and bounds. Yes, it may take a few hours out of your day to listen, but it’s been proven to grow your business because of the relationships you build.

Another way we as agencies build relationships with clients is to train caregivers to be compassionate, to have sympathy.

We train our certified nursing assistants to do whatever the client would do if they were healthy enough to do it. This has helped us through the years to build lasting relationships with clients family members that in some cases has cause us to to receive referrals because of the connections we made with them.
Darrius ShannonHow Senior Care Agencies Build Relationships With Clients
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Caregiver Tips: Help Yourself to Help Others

You’re away at sea. The deep blue ocean is all you know, and it’s all you can see. Suddenly, you notice a hole at the bottom of your boat. You’re afraid the boat may sink. What do you do? Panic, of course. But what do your survival instincts tell you? Put your own life jacket on and then, assist others. The best caregiver tips make sure you’re better prepared to care for others. Helping yourself first must come first. Only then are you physically and emotionally able to look after others as a caregiver, but it’s something we often forget to do. When you’re looking after others, you forget to look after yourself. You forget to take care of yourself because you’re putting their needs before your own. It’s normal to do this, but it’s also important to look after yourself; this is what makes you look after others more effectively. Ever found yourself nibbling on crumbs of leftover food or struggling to find time to make a well-cooked meal? If you’re running late for work, struggling to wake up on time every morning, constantly forgetting to do other things because you’re so busy trying to rush through the day, it’s time to stop and take care of yourself. Balancing your work life and personal life is tricky when being a caregiver around the clock. When do you get the time to look after yourself when all of your time consists of looking after others? When do you put your own needs before others? You may even feel selfish doing this when you have so many other tasks to complete but it’s important to do so! Self-care can range from napping, meditating, healthy eating to pedicures/manicures, socializing, reading, traveling, and other forms of relaxation. But is this going to relieve any stress or headaches you have? And most importantly, do you even have time for these self-care methods? Truth is, you may not. But I’ve managed to find a few easy tricks to look after myself while caring for my mother.

Self-Care Caregiver Tips

Facial masks, manicures, pedicures and resting your eyes all sound like the perfect “me” time. But there’s no time to get these things done and when we plan for these occasions, it feels like a chore. Instead, here’s what I would advise:
  • Multi-task: When I’m cleansing my mother’s face, I wash mine at the same time. I’ll put on facial masks and nose strips for the both of us so we can enjoy it together. I always anticipate her chuckle when she sees me covered up in a mango scented face mask with a big white strip plastered across my nose.
  • Take things slow. My biggest mistake is planning to complete all my tasks and chores in one single day. At first it seems manageable, but once 5 o’clock hits, and I haven’t finished folding the laundry or started cooking dinner, my stress levels hit the ceiling! Be more organized and plan your week ahead so you have plenty of time to complete chores and have some time to spare for yourself.
  • Help yourself first. They say you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other one for helping others. Looking after yourself comes first, everything else can come second. When looking after a patient, all you can think about is their health and their needs. As a caregiver, we don’t have time to asses our own needs or we make up excuses. Do all the little things for yourself that help you throughout the day. Schedule in a haircut appointment or a social night during the week.
  • Ask for help. Caring for someone everyday is difficult, not everyone can do it. Most of us can’t even look after ourselves! It’s fine to say “I can’t do this” or “it’s too much”. But never give up, never let that terrible feeling inside you get to your mind and make you think that you can’t do this anymore. Ask other caregivers for help, advice, and their best caregiver tips.
  • Think positive. Set yourself some goals for the week that motivate you throughout the day. This way, you’re looking forward to something that’ll keep you going and help you stay positive. I love eating out, and I always plan to go out to eat on Friday nights. So I’ll be sure to plan my week ahead and ensure all my responsibilities are completed by Friday night at 7pm!
These are just a few ways to look after yourself. Self-care isn’t just for caregivers; it’s for every single one of us, regardless of career choice. You must take care of your emotional needs as well as your physicality. Self-care isn’t easy, but it is healthy.  

Learn more of the best caregiver tips with CareAcademy’s online classes for family and professional caregivers. 

Siddiqa KhalifaCaregiver Tips: Help Yourself to Help Others
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How to Pay for Home Care

The vast majority of Americans say they plan to live at home in their old age. In fact, most of America’s frailest older adults live at home. Only a small fraction live in assisted living or nursing homes. But, paying for needed home care can be tough Our families make it possible for us to live at home in old age – by providing the vast majority of in-home support to frail older Americans, often at high cost to their own physical, emotional, and financial well being. Families provide this care, in part, because it’s challenging for them to find paid home care workers they trust. The good news is that organizations like CareAcademy are creating new and better ways for families to vet and prepare paid helpers. But also, families worry how to pay for home care. On average nationally, a home care aide can cost about $20 per hour. And, unfortunately, Medicare – the U.S. health insurance program for older adults – does not pay for these services. This price tag leaves many Americans wondering what to do. Like this daughter who says,
 “My mom has some income from social security and less than $10,000 in savings. I live in a different state and have a full time job I need to keep. Mom was doing fine until recently – but now she’s in and out of the hospital and having trouble taking care of herself. My sister and I are worried and wondering what we do next.”

What do you do if you’re trying to figure out how to pay for home care?

Well, in the absence of a national insurance program for home care, here are some options for Americans who want to find a way to pay for care in the home for themselves or their loved ones. Medicaid Home Care Medicaid is a public program that pays for home care services for older adults and is run by states. It’s not to be confused with the health insurance program, Medicare, which – as I said above – covers none of this. Medicaid is important because it’s the safety net for when everything falls apart and you are out of options. You may have heard of it as a provider of health insurance under Obamacare. But, it’s also a program that has paid — traditionally — for nursing home care when families run out of money and options. Nearly every state Medicaid program also offers home and community-based services programs to help frail older adults (and younger adults with disabilities) stay at home and out of an institution. But, the complexity of these programs can be challenging. States usually tightly control eligibility, benefits and access. Medicaid home care is only available to individuals whose income and assets are relatively low, or whose resources have been drained by large medical and long-term care costs. And, very important — no two states are alike. That’s why it’s really important to understand how Medicaid home care works in your state. One good place to start is the aging and disability resource center (ADRC) in your area. Google this term along with the name of your state (e.g., “Minnesota Aging and Disability Resource Center”).

Private Long-Term Care Insurance

Very few Americans own a private long-term care insurance policy. But, if you are one of them, the insurance will usually pay for home care services. The catch is that, in order to qualify for benefits, you must be very frail. That is, the insurance will pay only after you are no longer able to handle two of six very basic activities of daily living (like eating, bathing, and dressing) by yourself. Also, nearly all long-term care insurance policies have daily dollar and lifetime limits. The average long-term care insurance policy pays for up to $150 in services per day over about three years.

Out-of-Pocket

Americans finance most of their home care spending through out-of-pocket. In fact, recent research shows that two-thirds of all spending on home care is paid for out-of-pocket. There are ways to mitigate these costs. The best thing you can do is consult the services provided by your local senior center (also called an area agency on aging). These agencies offer programs such as meals on wheels, senior classes and family respite. Find your local AAA here. Also, consider deliberately choosing to live in a state with better than average services and environments for older adults. There’s a wonderful resource on the AARP website for evaluating states who have their act together in creating supportive environments for older adults.  It’s a state scorecard on long-term services. Also, determine if there are already communities or services that you can tap into. For example, check out the Village movement. The Villages are communities that come together to pool financial and volunteer resources to support older adults. See if there’s one near your parents and/or consider starting one in your area. Read This: How the Village Movement is Helping Seniors Age in Place Consider ways to alter your existing home to make it more accessible. For example, you can replace home entry steps with ramps, and bathroom grab bars with towel racks. Just doing a few things to prevent falls can be a very cost-effective way to extend your time at home, and your money. Families are the backbone of the long-term care system in this country, but their work is harder than it should be. It’s important for us all to be aware of our options for how to pay for home care, and how to work together in community to make old age easier on everyone.  

Find out more about Professional Caregiving from our CareAcademy online course. 

Anne TumlinsonHow to Pay for Home Care
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Senior Health: The Hydrating Benefits of Coconut Water

When my senior aged mother was diagnosed with cancer May 2011, it was devastating. After a very rough summer and a fall spent in a rehab center. Mom came home and started intravenous chemo. One of the problems we had was the fact that cancer and chemo were causing her to be dehydrated, She just didn’t want to ingest anything. This affected her blood pressure. She would often have low pressure. If it got too low it meant time in the hospital getting rehydrated.

Sheriene, her nurse (a native of Jamaica), suggested we get her some coconut water. This really helped her blood pressure to level out, and she had not nearly as many problems with it as before. The nurse told us that coconut water not only improves  hydration and has electrolytes, it also causes the body to increase hydrating from other liquids.

What problems can dehydration can cause an elderly person?

Low Blood Pressure: Low blood pressure can lead to weak limbs and dizziness,  which can lead to falls Urinary Tract Infections: Urinary Tract Infections can lead to fever, disorientation and confusion. It can also lead to increased hospitalization.

Poor Body Temperature  Regulation: Poor Body Temperature Regulation can cause confusion, over heat, loss of appetite, and death.

Brain Fog/Confusion: Confusion can be dangerous when it comes to remembering medication, where they are or are going, where they live, etc.

Tiredness: Tiredness can take away from living a full life. Keeping folks from participating in events which can give life meaning and purpose.

Weakness: Weakness is the greatest danger to quality of life. Broken bones can lead to long and uncomfortable stays in rehab, an increase in weakness, and a severe loss of mobility.

Kidney Issues: Kidney issues people who are on dialysis or who have poor  kidney function are very limited in the amounts that they can drink. Coconut water is a great plus for them because it causes the body to hydrate more effectively. Thus, helps them with not only their kidney function but the rest of their body and processing a low amount of liquids.

These issues are very serious issues. Keeping senior adults hydrated is important.

>When you have a loved or patient who is dehydrated from medicine, chemotherapy, and other kinds of chemically induced dehydration; coconut water is a great way to naturally rehydrate the body. Or better  yet, keep from becoming dehydrated.

  According to WEbMD, “There are some health benefits to consuming coconut water. It’s an all-natural way to hydrate, reduce sodium, and add potassium to diets. Most Americans don’t get enough potassium in their diets because they don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables, or dairy, so coconut water can help fill in the nutritional gaps.”

More Effective Hydration for Seniors & Every Body

Being more effective in hydration is actually the name of the game. It is much easier to stay hydrated than it is to combat dehydration. Therefore if you have a parent who is entering into their late sixties early seventies, it might be a good idea to start drinking coconut water now. Getting into the habit of drinking coconut water will help the body prevent dehydration.

There’s an old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.” Meaning that it’s better to prevent something from happening than it is to correct it after it has happened. Coconut water is an acquired taste so it may take some time to find one.

Choose The One You Like Best There are several brands of coconut water
  • Zico
  • Vita Coco
  • Harmless Harvest
  • Nirvana
  • Naked Juice
  • Coco Libre
Mom never really found one she loved, but ended up preferring one. There are some with flavors and some plain. If your senior loved one likes an Arnold Palmer, I like Vita Coco’s lemonade and tea.

Coconut Water Recipes

I suggest you also make drinks with coconut water rather than regular water as the base. Here is a recipe for nectarine frozen punch.
  • 2 nectarines juiced (you can process the blender and work through a strainer. Leave the peel on for a gorgeous color.)
  • 1c OJ
  • ½ c lemon juice
  • ¾ sugar or equivalent sweeter
  • 16 oz coconut  water
Put 6 ice cubes in a blender with the other ingredients. Pulse until ice is,crushed. Makes 2 servings.   Ginger Limeade
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 cups regular water
  • 1/2 cup of lime juice preferably fresh squeezed
  • 1 cup sugar or sweetener
  • 2 cups Coconut Water
  In a small pot add 1 inch of ginger in 2 cups of water bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes  and turn off, add the cup of sugar stir until dissolved. Leave to cool.

Once cooled remove the piece of Ginger and add the ginger syrup to a pitcher. Add lime juice and coconut water, stir to mix pour over ice. Makes 4-8oz servings.

  When it come to our senior loved ones, staying hydrated is akin to staying healthy. Coconut water is no cure, and it’s no miracle drink. It is a simple tool that can be used to keep your body hydrated on an ongoing basis.

Barbara HarveySenior Health: The Hydrating Benefits of Coconut Water
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