6089 Frantz Rd, Suite 105, Dublin, OH 43017 614-408-9939 info@CaregiverUSA.com M-F: 8-5 PM - Weekends: office closed - appointments only

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

It’s not easy being a Caregiver and if you keep at it long enough, you will really need to take care of yourself as well. Why? You need to help yourself to prevent burnout. It’s too easy to get caught up in the moment, knowing you are doing something worthwhile no matter how physically, psychologically and emotionally draining it may be. Sometimes, we do this informally for a loved one – and when our own minds and bodies start to pay the price, Caregivers in their utter devotion and sacrifice, might not even notice the toll they themselves are paying – until it is far, far too late.

So what can we do? Are you at risk for Caregiver Burnout?

We can learn to spot the Caregiver burnout signs – whether in ourselves or in other Caregivers. The second part is more important – because we may never be able to judge ourselves properly. We need friends, fellows, co-workers to see us as we truly are, because, by the time we start showing signs of burnout, our own minds may be too brutalized and traumatized to see ourselves properly. Friends are our lifeline, Caregivers caring for each other. So, let’s just talk about the signs of Caregiver burnout and what we can do. There are many signs, and here are four of the big ones.

pexels-photo-133021.jpeg
What are the signs of Caregiver Burnout?
  • Social Withdrawal

Do you find yourself withdrawing from friends and family? Are you avoiding things you loved to do, and cutting off connections with other people? Sometimes, we can get so busy with the often-urgent demands of caregiving, we tell ourselves “we’re just busy”. And little by little, like the frog in a slow-boiling pot, we start to close ourselves to the outside world. We stop talking to friends. The phone is almost never used. We stop showing up to gatherings. And people may take some time to notice that something is wrong. So check yourselves – who are your closest friends now, and who were your closest friends before you current caregiving arrangements? When was the last time you met up with your friends, and when was the last time you even spoke to them? If something bad happened to you, would they notice it immediately? Withdrawal is the greatest slow-burning problem because it kills off the best antidote: friends. People who know you, and who know you well enough to sense when something goes wrong. Once these people are gradually removed, under the cover of reasons such as “busy with work”, “lost interest” and “need more alone time”, they stop noticing. And that is when a person can enter a very dangerous spiral – isolation and loneliness feeding each other in a vicious circle.

Look around you. Make sure someone can see if you’re in burnout. You are devoted and loyal to your charges and patients, and you may feel guilty about taking a break. That is natural, but being alone and depressed is not. Keep all your social channels open!

  • Irritability and Hopelessness

This is another danger sign that “complements” social withdrawal. These things come in packages, and one leads to another.  When your mind is in perpetual crisis mode, perceptions become extreme. It’s easy to end up swinging from being optimistic one moment, and then completely hopeless and pessimistic the next. It affects your mood and can make you angry – angry enough to be snapping at people around.

Is this happening? Once a Caregiver starts behaving like this, it can trigger or reinforce the social withdrawal that is all too dangerous – this sort of thing cuts off your best lifeline and prevention method for burnout, namely, a good support circle of friends. So, don’t keep it all in. Find someone to talk to, someone with whom you can share your frustrations, your anxieties, your fear. This can dial down the tension quite a bit, and give you the mental recharge you need to sort out other problems!

 

pexels-photo-568021.jpeg
Reflect on your own health and illness to avoid Caregiver Burnout.

 

  • Beneficial Routines Stopped

This is related to withdrawal from social life, and missed medical appointments. The sheer workload of Caregivers may disrupt your life as you move mountains to care for someone. Many things we do by routine, which are beneficial to our holistic wellness, get disrupted. One of the most important ones is exercise.

As a Caregiver, have you stopped your routine exercise, no matter how light it may be? Has it been discarded under the excuse that “my caregiving is strenuous enough and gives me all the exercise I need”? Snap out of it! Exercise is beneficial not only physically, but psychologically too – you need to devote your exercise time to focus on the exercise activity. Withdrawal from this deals you double damage – first, you lose a lifeline that helps stave off burnout and depression. Second, you lose the benefits that exercise brings, and any work-based substitute merely stresses you out even more.

Snap back to your routine as much as possible, or plan a new routine that meets your caregiving needs – and stick to it. Enforce a break mentally as well as a physical break every now and then – think of it as clearing your head and recharging for the long term! And don’t forget to keep a healthy diet, and go for any routine check-ups you need – who knows what they might detect early?

  • Increased Illness

Getting stressed often leads you to catch just about any bug that comes your way. All the more if you ignore your exercise routine and lapse into an unhealthy diet, and isolate yourself from friends and spiral into anxiety and depression. Look back and ask yourself – are you falling sick more often, or more intensely, than usual? Are you getting more aches and pains, and more sniffles? The stresses faced by Caregivers can, over the long run, compromise the immune system. As a Caregiver, you can see this in your patients – but don’t forget to look in the mirror! Sickness can be a person’s body asking them to slow down – and that person may well be the Caregiver instead of the Careseeker (everybody is a potential Careseeker anyway).

So, do reflect on your own health and illness – it is an excellent self-check against Caregiver Burnout. Better still if you have regular medical checkups or appointments – if you have missed any of them, that’s a good cue to think about whether you’ve been in burnout. And if you can’t decide, ask your friends. And if you haven’t spoken to your friends for a long time… you probably need to take a step back, and re-connect as soon as you can!

  • Conclusion

Remember, human beings are social creatures. As much as we need “me time” to take a break from whatever work consumes us, we also need “social time”. Think of it as crowdsourcing your self-diagnosis – it’s one thing to look into a mirror to check if your hair looks messy or if that dress fits you well. It’s another thing to have close and trusted friends give you a variety of honest opinions – they may not share your blind spots, and Caregiver burnout is one of those things that creeps up on us from where we usually cannot see it. So reach out and find friends! Until next time, take care of yourselves!

 

What Everyone Should Know About Diabetes

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States but unlike many other leading causes of death, type II diabetes (type you are not born with) is highly preventable and accounts for 90-95% of diagnosed cases.

 

Science: The short explanation of science behind the disease is when you eat carbohydrates the body breaks it down into a sugar called glucose. The hormone insulin is used to transport the glucose where the body needs it to go. Those with diabetes have problems with the hormone insulin working properly, either from the body’s cells no longer being able to use insulin or the body has stopped producing insulin. The harmful effect of insulin resistance is the increased level of glucose (sugar) in the blood since it has nowhere to go.

What is so scary about high levels of sugar in the blood? Frequent high levels can cause permeant damage to nerves, blood vessels and even organs.

 

Important things everyone should know:

What are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are a fuel source for the body and come from many sources from bread, soda, sweets, popcorn, legumes, fruits and even starchy vegetables. The more sugar and less fiber contained in carbohydrates will escalate blood sugar higher and at a faster rate.

 

Symptoms: urinating often, excessive thirst, excessive hunger, blurry vision, extreme fatigue, slow wound healing, tingling/numbness in hands or feet.

 

Pre-diabetes? You can be tested to see if you are on track to developing the disease by testing your blood glucose levels. Pre-diabetes should be taken as wake-up call to create lifestyle changes for prevention of the disease. A shocking statistic is 7.2 million people with diabetes are undiagnosed.

 

Prevention? Healthy lifestyle factors such as maintaining a healthy weight and performing physical activity is the main advice for prevention. Another important factor is making important choices when choosing what carbohydrates to eat. Choose carbohydrates with whole grains and/or plenty of fiber will not cause frequent spikes in blood sugar. Some simple swaps for improvement include:

  • Make a fruit and vegetable smoothie instead of a soda.
  • Use bread and pastas made from whole grains.
  • Oatmeal with fruit instead of a pastry for breakfast.

 

Also always watch for hidden sugars! Some food items you do not think include a lot of sugar do so pay attention to labels. Salad dressings, yogurts and condiments are examples of foods that can easily pack in sugar. On the food label below the amount of carbohydrates you will find the amount of sugar so watch out for the sugar instead of just looking at the carbohydrates.

 

Learn more about diabetes by checking out the American Diabetes Association at diabetes.org or calling 1-800-DIABETES during normal business hours.

Was this an interesting article for you? Subscribe to our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dgz6LP

Why Choose Home Health Care?

There are many options for paths to recovery in the health care industry. More individuals are learning the benefits and switching to having health care provided in the comfort of their own homes. Home health care has a wide range of services with the goal of achieving better health while also regaining your independence. Some individuals who could benefit from health care include those in need of:

  • Wound care
  • Monitoring Illness and health status
  • Nutrition therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Administration and monitoring of medications
  • Personal hygiene
  • Companionship
  • And many more

 

So why choose home health care over other options such as a skilled nursing facility or hospital?

  • Same quality care– The same skilled professionals you’d find in a facility work in home health care. RNs, STNAS and LPNs all work in home health care settings.
  • Convenience– Stay in the comfort of your own home with also receiving help with household chores to keep living conditions safe and convenient.
  • Companionship along with care- With home health care you are receiving one on one support. These meaningful interactions can help support social interactions that are important for aging individuals.
  • Save Money– Home health care is usually less expensive and can be covered by Medicaid insurance for qualified individuals.
  • Coordinated Care with Doctor- Physicians can still be involved through working with the family caregivers to help develop individuals plans.

 

Check out Medicare.com and the link to find home health care agencies in your area:  https://www.medicare.gov/homehealthcompare/search.html

Was this an interesting article for you? Subscribe to our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dgz6LP

How Strength Training can be more Beneficial than Aerobic Exercise

Strength training can help you look and feel younger

Looking for the fountain of youth? Pick up a set of dumbbells, a kettlebell (a ball-shaped weight with a single handle) or a resistance band. Strength training offers a multitude of benefits, including ramping up your metabolism to help lose or maintain weight. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that it can also be very powerful in reducing the signs and symptoms of numerous diseases and chronic conditions, among them:

    arthritis

    diabetes

    osteoporosis

    obesity

    back pain

    depression

Strength train to maintain a healthy weight

The CDC asserts that strength training is crucial to weight control, because individuals who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate. Muscle is active tissue that consumes calories while stored fat uses very little energy. Strength training can provide up to a 15 percent increase in metabolic rate, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control.

 

Strength train to feel better

Regular strength training can help improve balance and reduce fall risk, decrease arthritis pain and strengthen bones, thus reducing fracture risk. It can also improve glucose control, improve sleep quality and state of mind and support better heart health.

 

Common questions and answers about strength training

Following are some common questions about strength training, and answers from trusted sources:

 

Won’t strength training bulk me up?

This question is most commonly asked by women who fear an overly muscular look. The truth is, to bulk up as a bodybuilder aims to do, you would need to spend a significant amount of time lifting very heavy weights and you would need to be eating a surplus of calories to support building serious muscle mass. You can easily find a strength training program that will help you gain just the right amount of muscle mass to crank up your metabolism and burn stored body fat so you actually end up leaner and tighter. If you combine strength training with a nutrition plan aimed at losing or maintaining weight you will find yourself losing weight or fitting into smaller sizes even if the scale doesn’t move much.

 

I walk/swim/take Zumba classes – isn’t that good enough?

The CDC reports that “While aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, has many excellent health benefits — it maintains the heart and lungs and increases cardiovascular fitness and endurance — it does not make your muscles strong. Strength training does. Studies have shown that lifting weights two or three times a week increases strength by building muscle mass and bone density.”

 

Still not convinced? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that an increase in muscle that you can’t even see can make it easier to do everyday things like get up from a chair, climb stairs, carry groceries, open jars, and even play with your grandchildren. Lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance.

 

Michele Brannock, 69, of Upper Arlington, Ohio, picked up her first kettlebell six years ago. She worked with a trainer for six weeks to master proper form and said she has benefitted tremendously from for this particular form of strength training.

 

“I stand taller now,” she said. “My balance has improved, I have fewer aches and pains. I don’t have the tummy bulge anymore, and my back pain is completely gone. Nothing else I have done exercise wise has helped by back like training with kettle bells.”

So how do I get started?

The NIH recommends doing strength training exercises for all of your major muscle groups on two or more days a week. You should not work the same muscle groups two days in a row. Your muscles need 48 hours or more to recover in between strength sessions. So you could either do a full-body strength training routine three days a week – for example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, or if you prefer to keep your strength sessions shorter, you might break them up into upper-body strength and lower-body strength sessions and work your upper body Monday, Wednesday and Friday and your lower body Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Strength training should complement rather than replace cardiovascular exercise, which is also important, as are balance and flexibility training.

Was this an interesting article for you? We have more! Subscribe to our newsletter to read useful care stories, receive special offers and updates. We would love for you to be a part of our community, click the link to join us: http://eepurl.com/dgz6LP

Caregiver USA Corporation’s Mission Stemmed from Personal Experience

Jinji and Shinji Yue’s decision to start Caregiver USA Corporation was rooted in personal experience with caregiving. Both men helped to care for their father when he was dying of cancer, and Jinji also helped care for his then future wife’s mother in her final days battling lung cancer.

“I was 16 when my father was diagnosed with liver cancer,” Jinji said. “Shinji was 20 and in the army, and he would get some nights off to come visit and help, but I was there every day.”

The family lived in Singapore, and there, at that time, most cancer care was delivered in a hospital inpatient setting.

“It was still very important for us to be there with him as much as possible,” Jinji said. “His chemotherapy treatments were very harsh, and he suffered a great deal from side effects, including extreme fatigue and frequent vomiting. We did our best to keep him as comfortable as possible.”

As they watched their father struggle and suffer, Jinji and Shinji suffered too.

“Caregiving is emotional,” Jinji said. “It’s very tiring, and our anxiety level was very high. During my dad’s first round of cancer treatment, I was in denial. The year before, my grandfather had passed, but he had been old, so while the loss was sad, it was expected at that point. But my dad should have had many more years of life left ahead of him. He had always been the pillar of my life. I thought he would recover.”

While initially hoping the cancer treatments would be successful, Jinji and Shinji and their mother saw growing evidence to the contrary.

“We saw his slow decline,” Jinji said. “Then, in his final two months, he was very frail and was in and out of consciousness. He died about eight months after his diagnosis. I was 17. It took me years after he was gone to accept the reality of losing him.”

About five years after losing his father, Jinji was a student at Ohio State University, working towards his bachelor of science in mechanical engineering.

“I received a call from my girlfriend, Siewling,” Jinji said. “She still lived in Singapore at the time. She called and told me her mom had just been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and had less than one year to live. I decided to take time off from school to go home and help care for her.”

Jinji was able to apply what he had learned through his personal experience with caregiving to help Siewling and her family.

“I saw the condition Siewling’s mother was in,” Jinji said, “And I Siewling and her brothers were in the same shoes I had been in. I suspected she had less than a year to live, maybe six months. She was in the hospital a lot, and I spent a lot of time there with her and her family. I tried to give advice and help out however I could.”

Fast forward to the present, and Jinji and Shinji are applying what they learned through their personal experiences with caregiving to help others.

“Having had the opportunity to care for two people who were dying let me appreciate tremendously what caregiving is all about,” Jinji said. “When we started Caregiver USA, we did so because there are a lot of people who need help with caregiving. In our experience, we just had family members rotating constantly, with no extra help, and we really could have used more assistance. Sometimes you just need a break. We wanted to offer more choices to find help. And we wanted to help ensure access to high quality help.

“We created a web-based platform, bookacare.com that allows those seeking healthcare services for themselves or loved ones to find, evaluate, hire and review qualified, experienced and accredited health-care professionals. Our services can be accessed conveniently online from a computer or mobile applications and through social media. Information is readily accessible via iPhones and tablets. We even provide the opportunity for caregivers and care seekers to review one another. Care seekers can enjoy peace of mind in hiring a caregiver who has received positive reviews, is insured and has passed an extensive background check. The caregivers who get the best reviews will be hired the most often, so they benefit too. “ Care seekers also can get to know their caregivers better before hiring them and welcoming them into their homes.

One way to improve the quality of caregivers available is to ensure they receive fair financial compensation.

“You get what you pay for,” Jinji said. “Many home care agencies have a very high turnover because nurses and nurses’ aides can barely earn a living wage. They receive inadequate pay and no benefits, and most of them operate completely independently, never interacting with their professional peers..

“Through our business model, we are able to help our caregivers receive fair compensation and feel valued. We empower them to perform at their best. As independent contractors, they are their own bosses. We also provide a lot of training to both our contracted caregivers and our full-time employees, and we can provide an office environment that encourages team interaction. This supports the goal of all of our caregivers knowing and living our core mission.”

Through bookacare.com and our brick and mortar agencies, Caregiver USA aims not only to lighten the caregiving load for families, but to provide a rewarding professional experience for its caregivers.

“The caregiving experience I had made me realize the importance of caregiving, its challenges and also its emotional rewards,” Jinji said. “Our mission is very simple. We want to create value and happiness in caring for others. You want to be happy when providing care. The drive to do so has to come from within. But then to avoid burning out in doing so, you need to be supported and rewarded.”

 

Strength Training Can Help You Look and Feel Younger

Looking for the fountain of youth? Pick up a set of dumbbells, a kettle bell or a resistance band. Strength training offers a multitude of benefits, including ramping up your metabolism to help lose or maintain weight.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that it can also be very powerful in reducing the signs and symptoms of numerous diseases and chronic conditions, among them:

  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • osteoporosis
  • obesity
  • back pain
  • depression
New-Senior-Page-Pic
Strength training can help you look and feel younger.

Strength Train to Maintain a Healthy Weight

The CDC asserts that strength training is crucial to weight control, because individuals who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate. Muscle is active tissue that consumes calories while stored fat uses very little energy. Strength training can provide up to a 15 percent increase in metabolic rate, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control.

Strength Train to Feel Better

Regular strength training can help improve balance and reduce fall risk, decrease arthritis pain and strengthen bones, thus reducing fracture risk. It can also improve glucose control, improve sleep quality and state of mind and support better heart health.

Common Questions and Answers About Strength Training

Following are some common questions about strength training, and answers from trusted sources:

  • Won’t strength training bulk me up?

This question is most commonly asked by women who fear an overly muscular look. The truth is, to bulk up as a bodybuilder aims to do, you would need to spend a significant amount of time lifting very heavy weights and you would need to be eating a surplus of calories to support building serious muscle mass. You can easily find a strength training program that will help you gain just the right amount of muscle mass to crank up your metabolism and burn stored body fat so you actually end up leaner and tighter. If you combine strength training with a nutrition plan aimed at losing or maintaining weight you will find yourself losing weight or fitting into smaller sizes even if the scale doesn’t move much.

  • I walk/swim/take Zumba classes – isn’t that good enough?

The CDC reports that “While aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, has many excellent health benefits — it maintains the heart and lungs and increases cardiovascular fitness and endurance — it does not make your muscles strong. Strength training does. Studies have shown that lifting weights two or three times a week increases strength by building muscle mass and bone density.”

Still not convinced? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that an increase in muscle that you can’t even see can make it easier to do everyday things like get up from a chair, climb stairs, carry groceries, open jars, and even play with your grandchildren. Lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance.

Michele Brannock, 69, of Upper Arlington, Ohio, picked up her first kettlebell six years ago. She worked with a trainer for six weeks to master proper form and said she has benefitted tremendously from for this particular form of strength training.

“I stand taller now,” she said. “My balance has improved, I have fewer aches and pains. I don’t have the tummy bulge anymore, and my back pain is completely gone. Nothing else I have done exercise wise has helped by back like training with kettle bells.”

So How Do I Get Started?

The National Institute of Health recommends doing strength training exercises for all of your major muscle groups on two or more days a week. You should not work the same muscle groups two days in a row. Your muscles need 48 hours or more to recover in between strength sessions. So you could either do a full-body strength training routine three days a week – for example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, or if you prefer to keep your strength sessions shorter, you might break them up into upper-body strength and lower-body strength sessions and work your upper body Monday, Wednesday and Friday and your lower body Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Strength training should complement rather than replace cardiovascular exercise, which is also important, as are balance and flexibility training. Here are more tips to help you look and feel younger:

  • Depending on your condition, you might need to start with very light weights – 1-3 lb. dumbbells. For exercises in which your bodyweight already provides some resistance – such as squats and lunges, you might not need to use weights at all – at first. Your goal should be to gradually increase the amount of weight you lift in order to continue to progress.
  • Choose a weight you can lift for 10-15 repetitions. Your first rep should not feel very, very hard, but your final rep should. You want to be able to complete 10-15 repetitions with good form – if you cannot; your weight is too heavy. If you can complete 15 reps and feel like you could still do many more, your weight is too light.
  • Take at least two counts to lift the weights and two counts to lower them.
  • Exhale as you lift the weights, and inhale as you lower them. If you cannot sync your breathing perfectly at first, do not stress about it – the most important thing is to never hold your breath while exercising.
  • Or, check out these recommendations from the CDC.
  • You can also join a local gym or recreation center, sign up for a group fitness class, hire a personal trainer or purchase an exercise DVD – or check one out from the library – if you want additional guidance.

5 Ways to Prevent Falls in the Elderly

How many of you are caring for the elderly, or are looking for part-time elderly care? It’s not easy. There are so many things to look out for, and so many challenges to face.

One of the biggest challenges is prevention of falls in the elderly. There are many other things to talk about when it comes to caring for the elderly but accidental falling can be a nightmare and is an ongoing plight feared by many. So how do we prevent falls in the elderly?

We know that falls, and the resulting complications, can be very dangerous for old people but they are also one of the most common risk factors – it’s just too easy to let them happen. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, “One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.” So this problem is not only widespread, it is also hidden. Caregivers end up in a difficult position of having to prevent things before they can happen.

So, What Can We Do?

Many risk factors and prevention techniques have been identified in medical and healthcare literature, so let’s go through some of the more important among these. This might go a long way in saving the lives of our loved ones. Some of these risk factors are intrinsic and you may need professional help before you can notice them, for example, examination for back problems. Other factors are environmental and to some extent they cannot be controlled easily. But there are other factors that are within the power of caregivers – both formal and informal – to deal with.

shutterstock_529636894.jpg
Some medicines can make a person dizzy or drowsy, or affect balance and co-ordination.

Medication

Forewarned is forearmed. Some medicines can make a person dizzy or drowsy, or affect balance and co-ordination. This applies to everyone, not just the elderly. Caregivers might not always be in a good position to know this – medical confidentiality and lacking pharmaceutical knowledge might hinder this. But the elderly or their legal representatives should be able to ask their doctors or pharmacists to identify those medicines (whether prescribed or over-the-counter) that increase the risk of falling. The doctors especially, should be able to tell whether any particular medicine is a risk to any particular patient.

Footwear

Remember that awful, horrible feeling when you wrench an ankle wearing thick soles on uneven ground? Think of this, only much worse, if an elderly person’s feet wobble too much wearing high heels with no ankle support. Backless shoes, even slippers with smooth soles, all pose a variety of footwear-related risks. In Asia, another type of footwear to worry about are the communal slippers used for many bathrooms (they could be wet, too). There are many ways footwear can be unsafe – they can interfere with a safe and proper gait, they can be too slippery, or they can be too large and be a tripping hazard. We should ensure our elderly not only have proper and safe footwear for going out, but also for using within the home – this is especially important for bathroom slippers since the elderly may need to access a potentially wet floor late at night, possibly without wearing their glasses, while urgently rushing to answer the call of nature.

Tripping / Slipping Hazards

We already mentioned smooth-soled shoes as a slipping hazards. But there’s more. The bathroom is a particularly dangerous place for the elderly when it comes to a fall risk. The floor can be smooth and wet, and placing loose rugs may do nothing to solve this problem – they might even increase the risk of slipping (remember how frequently the elderly may need to use the bathroom at night). Bathrooms often also have little kerbs, especially at the shower areas that are naturally often quite wet. Try to use rugs with a rubberised underside, to prevent elderly users from slipping on them, and of course try to keep the floors dry. Rough surfaces or rubber mats are another potential safety measure.

But that’s just the bathroom. Falls can happen anywhere in the house or outside it, so watch out also for objects cluttering the floor, uneven ground, slopes, and smooth surfaces.

Walking assistance such as walking sticks is a great way to prevent falls in the elderly.

Assistance

Now, this might be a bit difficult. So far, we’ve talked about removing problems, or learning information. That’s not expensive. But sometimes we may need to make some investments for the long term. We don’t really need to wrap our elderly in tons of cotton wool everywhere they go, but it would help if grab rails or other supports are installed in the more important places, such as indoor stairs or places that may often have wet floors, like the bathroom. Walking aids should also be chosen carefully. A walking cane for the elderly should not be too heavy, and should be adjusted to the correct height so that a cane-assisted walking posture does not itself turn out to be a falling risk.

Diet

Protein, calcium, essential vitamins and water. All these sound very commonsensical. However, what an elderly person needs for a suitable diet may not be the same as what healthy middle-egd adults need. Some changes are common to all elderly – for example, switching to softer foods. Moreover, a healthy diet can go a long way to prevent numerous other problems that increase the risk of falling. Diet also needs to cater to a person’s specific medical issues, for example, seniors with blood pressure issues or suffering from diabetes may also need special care diet-wise, to prevent fainting spells from suddenly standing up.

Health Care Decisions For A Loved One With Alzheimer’s

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, which is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2015, more than 15 million caregivers provided an estimated 18.1 billion hours of care for those who have this disease. Early detection can allow you to get the maximum benefit from available treatments, participate in decisions about your care and planning for your future and access care and support services for you and your family.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one is exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s, it is important to make an appointment with your/your loved one’s primary care physician. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, so the chief treatment goals are to:

  • maintain quality of life
  • maximize function in daily activities
  • enhance cognition, mood and behavior
  • foster a safe environment
  • promote social engagement, as appropriate

One key decision you will need to make or help your loved one make, is whether care should be provided at home or in a healthcare facility. As making the appropriate health care decisions for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is important.

Michele Lynn and her sister had to make that decision when their mother, now 99 years old, was diagnosed with dementia 10 years ago. Her mother spent a short period of time after diagnosis in her own home.

“Mom and my sister both lived in New Jersey at the time, and I was in Ohio,” Ms. Lynn said. “My mother is very strong-willed and had a great desire to be independent. My sister visited Mom every day and felt that as a retired person she should care for Mom herself. We talked about the responsibilities my sister would have. I emphasized that my sister would not have family support close by. She would be responsible for hiring and monitoring help. Caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s is a 24/7 job. It would have been nice if we could have had a companion during the day to help with Mom, but ultimately, as the disease began to progress, we decided that it was in everyone’s best interest to find a good Alzheimer’s care facility.”

Ms. Lynn’s mother spent eight years in a small memory unit in New Jersey.

72dpi_shutterstock_61894672.jpg
What’s your health care plan for a loved one with Alzheimer’s?

“Then, my sister moved to Florida, and I found the right home for Mom in Ohio,” Ms. Lynn said. “I had full responsibility for selecting her residence. I was looking for somewhere that would offer peace and quiet; and cleanliness and the attitude of the staff were very important to me. At one place I visited, I heard members of the staff standing around, complaining; at another the floor in the dining area was filthy. The place I selected was beautiful and clean, and the attitudes of the staff were amazing.”

All was well for the first year and a half that her mother lived in the memory unit at that facility, but then things changed.

“I had to get very demanding about training for the staff and how certain procedures were handled,” Ms. Lynn said. “My mother fell and was badly hurt, and I heard four different versions of what had happened. I also found out that men were trying to get into her room, seeking interaction. Mom was falling in the middle of the night. After installing an exterior lock on the door, the falls stopped. Other lapses in care occurred. I acted as an advocate not only for Mom but for other residents, too. All of the patients deserve respect and attention. Just because someone has dementia doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of what is going on around them.”

Ms. Lynn emphasizes that just because your loved one is receiving professional care, that doesn’t mean they don’t still need you.

“You have to be there and listen and pay attention,” she said. “You have to remember that you are trusting staff with a precious being who won’t be here forever. Advocate for your loved one to ensure they are safe.

“Do the things your loved one likes to do. Do what you can to bring them joy. My mother loves flowers, so I bring flowers that we arrange together. She lights up. I also arrange for musical groups to sing for the residents. Music is a wonderful therapy for memory patients.

“I’ve also never stopped finding outside help. Hospice has become involved as Mom has declined. They provide an extra set of eyes and ears for my mother. They also provide me much-needed support. It’s important for me as a caregiver to get personal support.”

Pamela Williams, now a registered nurse, previously worked as a nurses aide in an advanced Alzheimer’s unit at a long-term care facility and also cared for her grandmother at home after her Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She agrees with Ms. Lynn that a support system is so important when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.

“We were fortunate because she was diagnosed pretty early,” Ms. Williams said. “She had a really great physician who put her on a couple of medications that really helped to slow the process. At first she mainly just needed help with medication management, laundry, cooking and cleaning. My parents lived right next door, and my aunt and uncle lived just a mile and a half away. One of my sisters and one of my cousins was still in town, so we had a great family support system. I moved in initially, and when I moved out my parents moved in with her, choosing her house over their own since hers was all one level and they knew that at some point, she wouldn’t be able to go up and down the stairs in their home.”

shutterstock_164174750 (1).jpg
What are the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s? 

Eventually, her grandmother’s care needs increased.

“She began to need help with bathing and other personal care,” Ms. Williams said. “That is definitely something you need to consider if you plan to care for your loved one at home – that is a daily need, and a personal one. By then I was living a mile away and would drive over once a day to help my parents with her. I was a nurses aide at the time and was more comfortable with it. She was my grandmother, and I loved her and was happy to help.

“As her needs progressed, at times my parents would get stressed out and need a break. If you are a caregiver and you don’t have family and friends close by who are willing and able to offer respite care like we did, I think it is so important that you seek out other resources. Contact your Area Office on Aging or whatever resources your community has to offer.”

Ms. Williams points out that care needs will change and increase over time, and it is important to be prepared for that.

“Know that even if symptoms are mild early on, they will get worse,” she said. “We were very lucky that my Grandma wasn’t aggressive, never got sundowner’s, never wandered, but I saw these symptoms in others at work. Some of the patients I cared for forgot how to walk, how to speak. Their care needs were extensive. New symptoms can present at any time, and that can change the course you need to take. There is no cure for this disease, so inevitably, there will come a time that you will either need to find a healthcare facility with an Alzheimer’s unit for your loved one or you will need resources to support you as a caregiver. Don’t wait for that to happen – research those options before you have a desperate need for them so you can take your time and make the right decisions for your family.”

Signs of Alzheimer's are not to be mistaken with age related changes

Living with Alzheimer’s – is more than just memory loss.

Following are 10 warning signs that you or a loved one might have Alzheimer’s:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

For more details on each of these symptoms, visit Alzheimer’s Association‘s website.

How can you tell the difference between Alzheimer’s symptoms and typical age-related changes? The following chart from the Alzheimer’s Association can help:

Signs of Alzheimer’s Typical age-related changes
Poor judgment and decision making Making a bad decision once in a while
Inability to manage a budget Missing a monthly payment
Losing track of the date or the season Forgetting which day it is and remembering later
Difficulty having a conversation Sometimes forgetting which word to use
Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them Losing things from time to time

There is a wealth of information available through the Alzheimer’s Association website, or by calling the association’s 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900. You can also jump right to a section of the website that will help you map out a personalized action plan for your family at https://www.alzheimersnavigator.org.

Serenity For Seniors

An aquarium stocked with colorful tropical fish does the trick.

Happiness is watching the pretty things go by – and these seniors were full of eager anticipation as they watched me set up an aquarium at their day care center. Their faces lit up when I released into the once neglected tank, dozens of tiny fish – brilliantly hued neon tetras flitting merrily with multi-colored guppies.

All it took to transform the tank were a few packets of gravel, a dozen aquatic plants, a filter pump, an under-gravel air stone, and an overhead light. And, a deft eye and hand to place the entire lot in a pleasing arrangement. Half-a-day’s work and hey presto, the magic of an undersea world was up and running… adding new life literally to the recreational needs of the center’s seniors.

Mrs. Richards (not her real name), who is 95, likes to spend a few minutes each day watching the fish, especially when they rush to the surface during feeding time. “They are so beautiful… I see they have been growing slowly, but steadily, over the last few weeks.”

Watching the fish in an aquarium brings her a sense of serenity, says Mrs. Richards.

Some dental clinics have taken to placing aquariums in their waiting area. Watching the fish can be effective in reducing anxiety in patients awaiting dental surgery, according to medical studies.

This is especially true in elderly patients who experience reduced muscle tension and lowered pulse rate after watching the fish before going in for treatment.

Sure, maintaining the cleanliness of the aquarium and making sure the water is balanced for the well-being of the fish, can be hard work, in addition to making sure that they are fed regularly.

Fish can also get distressed when the water gets too hot or too cold, or if there is not enough light.

But the effort to maintain the aquarium is worth the while, especially when it brings benefits – the calming effect and a feeling of serenity that it bestows on elderly people when time hangs heavy on their hands.

A Purdue study in 2009 shows that aquariums had a good influence on the nutritional intake of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Patients exposed to the aquaria averaged an increase of 17.2 per cent in the amount of food they consumed. Weight also increased significantly, and the patients required fewer nutritional supplements.

In addition to the nutritional benefits, there was also a noticeable decrease in physically aggressive behaviors among the patients.

Feng shui advocates also say that moving water is considered beneficial in balancing “chi”, and a well maintained aquarium in the right location increases wealth and luck.

What next? Perhaps a koi pond in the open area outside the day care room, where flowering plants already abound. Seniors sitting around a koi pond may well feel refreshed as they enjoy a spot of sunshine, watching the graceful sight of swimming koi.

Ways to Prepare for Surgery

The thought of having a surgical procedure done can be daunting and you can definitely do without the additional stress. One way to ease the mind is to know what to expect and being aware of the right post-surgical care. Here we look at the various ways to prepare for surgery.

Do Your Homework

“In an ideal situation, you want to do as much research as you can,” said Sandra Le, a breast cancer survivor who underwent two mastectomies roughly a year apart. “The more people you talk to, the more you understand.”

Questions Ms. Le recommends asking your surgeon or potential surgeon include:

  • Where will the incision be, and what will it look like?
  • Is there any chance I can see pictures of surgeries you have performed so I can get an idea of what things will look like?
  • What are the possible risks associated with this surgery?
  • What will my activity restrictions be after surgery?
  • When will I be able to drive?
  • Are there any particular movements I will need to avoid and for how long?
  • What can I do to help speed up my recovery?
  • Will you walk me through the surgery so I can better understand the process?
shutterstock_389065987
One way to prepare for surgery is to address your concerns with your surgeon or nurse.

This last question, Ms. Le notes, is probably the most important question you can ask.

If you have time to do so, Ms. Le recommends seeking out opinions and advice from other patients who have been through the procedure you are facing.

“I scoured the Internet,” she said. “I searched through forums and review sites for any information I could find about my doctors. I also trusted in my husband’s evaluation of the surgeon. I was so blessed that my husband, Walter, is a physician because I truly felt lost the entire time. I have some understanding of medicine since I used to work as a registered nurse. However, as I faced my surgeries, I was quite emotional and could not quite grasp everything that was being discussed. If you have a friend or relative who works in the medical field and whom you feel comfortable asking to accompany you to your medical appointments, doing so can be very helpful.”

Expect the Unexpected

Even after you’ve done your research about what to expect from your surgery, remember that things don’t always go exactly as planned. Be prepared for potential complications, advised Shelley Dawn Johnson, who has had several surgeries but was caught off guard when one particular procedure did not go as expected.

“I was scheduled for what was supposed to be a very simple laparoscopic procedure,” she said. “It was an exploratory surgery with just two tiny incisions to go in and look around and try to find the source of my terribly painful periods. I hadn’t even mentioned the surgery to anyone other than my husband, since I expected to be home hours later. I’d been told this was going to be an easy, in-and-out procedure.”

Ms. Johnson had previously had two C-sections, and it turned out the source of her pain was adhesions from those surgeries.

“When my surgeon made the incision in the standard place the surgery called for, he nicked an artery,” Ms. Johnson said. “The artery wasn’t supposed to be there, but thanks to the adhesions, everything was kind of stuck together. My simple outpatient procedure turned into an open procedure to stop the internal bleeding. I woke up to the news that I had been opened up, had lost a lot of blood, would probably need to be transfused and was facing a hospital stay of at least five days.”

She hadn’t arranged for anyone to help with her two children, then just 3 and 6 years old, because she’d expected to return home the same day. And because her surgery wasn’t scheduled, there was no bed available for her on the OB/Gyn floor, so she ended up on an understaffed general post-surgical floor. The nurses there did not specialize in OB/Gyn and didn’t understand what some of her post-surgical symptoms meant, dismissing a real medical issue as anxiety.

“When you are scheduled to have surgery, you just never know what might happen,” she said. “So I think it is important to carefully discuss all possible risks of surgery with your doctor beforehand, and to prepare for the fact that any of those things could actually happen. At the same time, you still have to go in with a positive attitude and in a healthy state, mentally and spiritually. You should be prepared for the unexpected but still hope for the best possible outcome, because your attitude will affect your recovery.”

Here are some simple ways to prepare for surgeryPrepare for Your Recovery Period

Whether you are scheduled for a complex procedure or a simple one, Ms. Johnson and Ms. Le advise preparing for your recovery period and lining up help in advance. You can also follow their advice if you wish to help someone you know who is facing surgery.

  • Arrange for help with children, including driving your kids to and from school and activities.
  • Clean and de-clutter your house so it will be easier to maintain while you are on activity restriction.
  • Make freezer meals or allow someone to start a Meal Train or Sign Up Genius to allow friends and family members to sign up to bring meals for your family while you recover. (If you want to do this for a friend facing surgery, be sure to ask first to see if they are comfortable having meals brought to them, and be sure to ask about preferred drop-off times and methods as well as any food allergies or other dietary restrictions. And for those who want to offer sustenance but do not cook, be sure to share a list of favorite restaurants for which gift cards can be purchased).
  • Keep in mind that you might have dietary restriction during your immediate recovery period. Be sure to stock your kitchen with light snacks such as Jello, popsicles and other easily digestible food, including crackers, which can help with nausea.
  • Consider scheduling some sessions with a professional house cleaner. If you want to offer this as a gift to someone facing surgery, be sure to ask first if this would be a desirable gift, as some people just aren’t comfortable having strangers in their home.
  • When you come home from the hospital, keep your post-surgery instructions and doctor’s phone number by your bed. Alert your doctor immediately with any concerns.

Many people feel uncomfortable asking for help, so if you know someone facing surgery, don’t wait for them to ask you for help – just offer – even if they turn down your offer, at least they will know you are thinking of them, and sometimes simply knowing that you care and are concerned can be a wonderful gift on its own.

Not all surgeries are planned in advance. Some are emergent, but in the case of a scheduled surgery, you can take advantage of the opportunity to carefully plan and prepare for both your procedure and your recovery.