Respite Care Can be a Lifesaver – Yours

Respite Care Can be a Lifesaver – Yours

There are hundreds of thousands of loving family members whose primary responsibility every day is to take care of those who need them to survive.  They are most often elderly parents, but sometimes more extended branches of the family tree.  Knowing that meeting the needs of those who cannot care for themselves is rewarding.  But it can be exhausting.

What Caregiving Costs the Caregiver

Perhaps the greatest cost to the caregiver is emotional.  When a caregiver spends the majority of his or her time with someone who depends on them, there can be a sense of isolation.  This may lead to a sense of being overwhelmed resulting in depression, exhaustion, and anxiety.

The result of this can be two-fold; however well-intentioned the gift of caregiving may be in the beginning, ultimately resentment and fatigue can impact the mental health of the caregiver and ultimately the quality of care he or she is able to give.  Even after the need for caregiving is past, the emotional impact on caregivers can last for some time.  It manifests itself in the form of headaches and other pain, loss of appetite and sleep.

Unless checked at some point, these feelings can lead to serious health issues from caregiver burnout.  Respite Care is one important way to prevent this from occurring.  Caregivers who do not care for themselves cannot provide quality care for those in their charge.

What Is Respite Care?

Respite care allows for a temporary reprieve from elder care responsibilities.  By including regular respite care into a schedule, caregivers will find themselves – and those for whom they care – to be healthier overall.

There is an added benefit to having regular respite care.  When an emergency does arise, there is a known reliable source to whom the caregiver can turn.

Sources of Respite Care

Often the challenge is not whether to get respite care, but where to get it.

  • Home Care. Home Care Agencies provide a broad range of non-medical services to help spell the caregiver.  Think in terms of personal companions who can do everything from meal preparation to laundry to pet care and transportation for shopping or medical appointments.
  • Home Health Care. As distinguished from Home Care agencies, Home Health agencies’ employees have certifications to administer medicines and execute therapies.  Both Home Care and Home Health agencies provide professional care for your loved one.  They allow the caregiver to take extended time away from their duties with the comfortable knowledge that someone competent is on the job.
  • Adult Day Care. Adult Day Care centers are places that allow seniors to be looked after while their caregivers work, run errands or simply take a break.  They are generally social environments that are safe and secure.  Visits can be for a whole day or just a few hours.

Different types of adult day care centers provide different services.  Some provide health care for those in need of medication administration or monitoring services.  Others are more social and recreational and do not offer medical services.

  • Senior Living Centers. In those situations where the regular caregiver needs to be away for several days, a short-term stay at a senior living community is an option.  The care recipient has access to the full range of services a full-time patient would have including meals, social activities, transportation services, and 24-hour staff availability including emergency call systems.

As a side benefit, day visits are a great way for seniors to preview what senior living is like.  Should the day come where the conversation turns to senior living as an option, the senior in question will have a better understanding of what is involved.

  • Friends and Family. All too often caregivers feel the burden so intensely they are reluctant to ask others in their immediate circle to spell them for a while.  Calling on friends or family members is an entirely acceptable respite alternative.  In fact, people in the caregivers circle often say “let me know if I can do anything” and it should not be treated casually.  When such an opportunity arises, having a specific request involving respite assistance should not be allowed to pass.  Even if you don’t need someone to completely take over, having them visit while you are “on duty” will relieve some of the psychic stress caregivers experience.

In sum…

If you can take a well-deserved break while your loved one receives quality care and supervision while you are away, it should be considered.  There is no magic formula to determine which type of respite care is best.  Whether it is a couple of hours or a full weekend away or just a simple phone call or personal visit while you are caretaking, respite care can save your own sanity – and maybe your life.

Seven Steps for Keeping Your Senior Safe

Seven Steps for Keeping Your Senior Safe

Keeping those we love safe is among our highest priorities. And, since falling is the leading cause of injury among the 65+ age category, consider a few of the most common causes of falling and work toward eliminating them.

Household Obstacles.  Eliminating obstacles in the home can go a long way toward creating as safe environment.  This can be as simple as separating furniture to create a wider path to walk, eliminating cords that can cause tripping or replacing hard corners with softer edges.

Medicine Interaction.  It can be a challenge to keep the various medicines that seniors take organized.  Make it a project to makes sure that your loved one’s medicines are organized into separated clearly-market containers. This will prevent serious problems that can occur when they are not taken as prescribed.

Safety Equipment Failure.  It is important to make sure that canes and walkers function properly within the living space in which they are deployed.  If they are constantly getting caught on floors or carpets, put tennis balls on the bottom of adjust the carpets so they lie flatter. Shower chairs and railings are an investment that can help your loved ones stand and sit more easily.  Converting the shower to a walk-in format will help, too.

Unidentified Symptoms.  Be on the watch out for any unusual symptoms such as dizziness, for example.  Routine doctor check-ups are key towards keeping track of your loved one’s health.

Forgetting Vision Checks.  One thing that may not be noticeable to the elder person in your care or you is ineffectively corrected vision.  This, too, is a step toward prevention of falls.

Declining Mobility.  Encouraging your loved one to exercise regularly can really help improve their mobility and reduce the risk of falling.  They don’t have to do push-ups, but even light exercise like walking around the house occasionally can help stretch muscles that might fail with lack of use.

Thinking You Can Do It All.  At some point you may need help.  Employing a Home Care professional can augment your personal care for your loved one.  A professional Home Care agency has specially trained people to provide specialized care for the elderly.  This provides you peace of mind and your senior loved one a higher quality of life in the comfort of his or her own home.

Questions to ask before your parent leaves the hospital

Questions to ask before your parent leaves the hospital

The discharge procedure at a hospital is an established process.  Sometimes, however, the process is so routinized that patients and their families assume that they have been told everything they need to know.  On the hospital side, they may assume that patients and their families may know more than they do.

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Funding Home Care

Funding Home Care

Many families struggle to afford the care that their older loved ones need.  The alternatives boil down to living at home and having the necessary help come, using the services of nursing homes or moving to an assisted living facility.  By any measure, when possible, staying at home has significant advantages, not only cost, but physically and emotionally, too.

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PTSD Among Family Caregivers

PTSD Among Family Caregivers

We most often hear the acronym PTSD as it relates to those returning from the stresses of battle in a time of war.  As a caregiver for an older adult, you may have recognized some similarities in your own emotional response to your situation.  They are similar in many ways.  While your own life might not be in danger (though in many ways it could), the life of someone for whom you care is very much in the balance.

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What Does Dementia Look Like?

What Does Dementia Look Like?

When caring for a loved one that is exhibiting “different” behavior, it may be helpful to understand the characteristics of dementia as opposed to less serious behaviors that are associated with natural aging.  If the older adult in your care exhibits one or more of the following symptoms, it is time to get your loved one examined for  the dementia care they may need.

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Avoiding Senior Fraud

Avoiding Senior Fraud

Sadly, seniors are especially vulnerable to fraud.  While fraud affects over 25 million people per year if you are older than 60, you are at an increased risk of being a target.  Fraud comes in many forms.  Some con artists sell fake products and services by email or telephone.   With election season right around the corner, electoral fraud is another potential threat.  Posing as political volunteers, they try to lure voters into donating money by asking for cash or a credit card number. They may even offer to register you over the phone if you provide your social security number (which is not a legal method of registration in any state).

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How Much is “Enough” Therapy?

How Much is “Enough” Therapy?

Many seniors receive therapy at home for various physical, occupational, speech or cognitive issues.  Are they ever “done”?  How much is “enough”?

The answer to this question clearly varies from person-to-person, but the simplest answer comes from the recipient.  If the therapy recipient is not convinced that they are ready to move on without further help, chances are they are not.  It is incumbent on the therapist in this situation to advocate on behalf of the patient to continue their therapies at home.

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Home Care for Stubborn Aging Parents
Stress: When You are the Caregiver

Stress: When You are the Caregiver

The challenges of taking care of an ill or disabled loved one can place significant stress on a family caregiver.  Unfortunately, dealing with daily stress makes caregivers susceptible to health issues themselves. Caregivers often exhibit signs of stress such as high blood pressure and sleep issues.  This stress can even suggest an increased risk of stroke.

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