Preventing Health Problems for Caregivers

When discussing the well being of caregivers, the most common topic is stress relief and mental health. This is because being a caregiver can often be a stressful position that can affect the mental health of the person. Although this is a huge concern for the well being of caregivers, there are also physical ailments and sicknesses that can affect caregivers more so than the average person. It is important to look at any possible or common sicknesses, ailments or injuries that could affect a caregiver and use techniques to prevent any of them from manifesting.

Back Problems

Many caregivers are often required to do a lot of lifting, which can cause back problems. Many seniors require help being lifted or just general support in their daily life. It is important for caregivers to lift properly to avoid injuring their backs. Important tips when lifting are to lift with your legs and not your back, ensure that you are standing in a stable position and make sure that you don’t have locked knees. It can also help to try to distribute weight evenly, especially when moving the senior sideways. Bending forward can further injure your back or strain your neck.

 Catching Common Sickness

When you are a caregiver, you are in charge of the well being of a person who is much more susceptible to sickness than you are. This makes it much easier for you to catch sicknesses because you are in such close contact with them. Making sure to wash your hands often can help as well as avoiding touching your face or eating if you haven’t washed your hands. Its also important to make sure you get lots of sleep and eat a well-balanced diet.

 Care for Yourself as Well

One of the most important aspects of being a caregiver is ensuring that you also care for yourself. If you are sick or injured, it affects your ability to provide the essential care to your client or family member. In caring for yourself, you are making sure that those that rely on you will be able to continue to do so. Caring for yourself can include eating well and exercising. This will keep you strength up and also will keep you feeling well and able. Another way to keep yourself healthy is to go see your doctor often for checkups. Since you are caring for a person who is much more vulnerable than you are, it is important that you don’t pass along any sicknesses that could be a huge detriment to their health.

Should Your Parent Move in with You?

There are many benefits to having your elderly parent move in with you including being able to keep a closer eye on their well-being as well as being able to spend more time with them. Although there can be a lot of benefits to your parents living with you, it is an extremely large decision with many factors to consider. The emotional and physical needs of your parent should be considered along with the expense, and physical and emotional toll that living together will take on you. If you decide to have your parent move in with you, it is important for you to realize the scope of what is required of their care and how you will best meet any care requirements.

Are You Able to Provide the Necessary Care?

Not everyone is capable of becoming a caregiver and it is important to realize what sort of care your parent needs and if you are willing and able to provide it. If your parent has either a medical or mental health illness that requires the attention of someone who has medical training, becoming your parent’s caregiver does not necessarily make sense. Whereas, if your parent has minimal health issues and is still independent in most ways, the care required will also be minimum and you will be able to spend more time as a family in general, but still have your own space.

Can Your Home Accommodate Your Parent?

Many seniors have mobility issues and your home may not be modified in an accessible way. If this is the case, it may be a large expense fitting your home to include your parent. For seniors who are unable to climb stairs, a main level bedroom and bathroom will be required. This can mean costly renovations and also a significant decrease in common space within your home. Issues of privacy must also be considered to ensure that both you and any other family members as well as your parent feel that they have personal space.

Do You Get Along?

Many parent/child relationships can be strained and it is important to ask yourself whether you and your parent get along. Do you fight a lot, or have you always been on the same page? Although conflict can be normal, it is imperative that before moving your parent in with you that you evaluate your past relationship. Living together and acting as your parent’s caregiver will be a high stress situation and if you already have relationship problems, they are likely to be exacerbated when you live in close quarters.

The Rest of the Household

Although both your and your parent’s opinions on a potential move-in situation are key, it is also important to find out how the rest of the people within the household will be affected. Evaluate the relationships that your spouse or children have with your parent and make sure that this move-in is a good fit for everyone. Encourage your family to be open about their feelings to ensure that everyone feels their opinion is respected.

Activities for Seniors with Visual Impairments

For many people, ensuring that those seniors with visual impairments aren’t bored and have plenty to do is extremely important. Not only is this an issue in assisted living facilities and senior homes, but also for seniors living at home. Activities, games and events should be accessible to those with visual impairments because it is generally not too much trouble to adapt them to include aids for people who don’t have the best sight. The inclusion of adaptations to these activities can make a huge difference in the life of a senior with visual impairment who may often face isolation or boredom as they are unable to contribute or participate with others who are able to see.

Adaptability

There are many ways to adapt activities to assist visually impaired seniors and keep them included in their surroundings. Whether this involves using large print (such as large print edition books) which allows seniors to be able to read books they would have otherwise have been unable to read due to the small size of the text, or involving more audio so they are able to use their ears instead of their eyes to participate. Another option for a lot of seniors who are visually impaired is to play games, or participate in activities with the assistance of another person who does not have any visual impairments. This way, that person will be able to explain and assist the visually impaired senior in participation. This is important to prevent isolation, boredom and the ability to be involved in a group activity.

Cards and Board Games

Cards and board games are some of the easiest things to adapt for visually impaired seniors. This is because they mostly rely on physical game pieces that must be read or seen. These types of games don’t usually require any abstract description, so they are easy for visually impaired seniors to learn and understand. To help these seniors, trying using large print cards, or those that have raised numbers. This way seniors will be able to play the game without needing someone else to read the card over their shoulders to tell them what cards they have. The same can be done with board games. Many companies sell adapted versions of their games. For instance, dominoes has an adaptive version with raised black dots on the tile. This means that visually impaired seniors can feel which numbers are on the tile for themselves without struggling to see the numbers.

Shows and Events

Many shows and events now include audio description intended for the visually impaired. Audio description is often available at art and history museums and theatres. Options at live plays are available as well as movie theatres which try to have described video in the same way that television does for the most popular shows.

Although it can seem difficult to a senior who is visually impaired to participate with friends and family in certain activities, it is important that they feel included. Having these activities adapted for inclusion of the visually impaired can make a massive difference in a senior’s quality of life.

 

How Caregivers Can Help to Prevent Hospital Admissions

Although not every hospital visit is avoidable, some visits can be preventable and with the help of caregivers, seniors can evade being admitted into the hospital. Many caregivers provide twenty-four hour support for their seniors, or are with them often enough to monitor changes in both physical and mental health. The caregiver plays an important part in a senior’s life because they are so involved. It is often up to the caregiver to notice changes in habits, general health and how the senior is feeling. It is important that seniors are also very open with their caregivers about how they feel and any changes they notice so that the caregiver can assess a given situation and decide upon the best course of action. The senior and the caregiver need to work as a team to combat any possible health issues that may develop.

Monitoring Diet

One of the first signs of changing health can be observed through a senior’s diet. If a senior’s diet drastically changes, or if a loss of appetite is observed, it may be a sign of a bigger issue. Change in diet cab signal many different physical issues, but also mental ailments such as depression.

Medication Reminders

Many seniors are on different medications for their various health issues. It is important that seniors follow the instructions for taking these medications. For instance, some medications require being taken on an empty stomach, full stomach, or at a specific time each day. Following these strict medication requirements can be difficult, especially if a senior is on multiple medications that all require different specifications. A caregiver can be hugely instrumental in helping seniors to take medications at the right time in the right way which can help to prevent further health issues for seniors.

Preventing Falls

Many seniors have some form of mobility issue. Whether a senior requires a cane, walker or wheelchair to be able to move around, caregivers can be involved in assisting seniors getting the place they need to be. This can include helping seniors to remove clutter from their homes and creating large pathways between rooms, but can also include physically assisting seniors when they want to go to a different room or to any place outside of the home.

General Safety Issues

Generally speaking, caregivers are most likely to be the first person in a senior’s life to notice and address any safety issue. If an entryway looks like a tripping hazard, a caregiver is more likely to notice it before the senior in their care trips over it. This is because caregivers are tuned into their senior’s needs and are able to think about how different situations or conditions will affect the person they are care for. Always staying vigilant will bee important for caregivers when it comes to keeping seniors safe and preventing unnecessary hospital visits.

Moving to Be Closer to Your Loved Ones

For many seniors, moving is a big decision that can be dependent upon a lot of factors. A lot of seniors don’t have the choice when moving because they are unable to stay in their homes on their own, while some seniors choose to downsize or move into senior care facilities so that they have extra care options available to them. For some seniors, the choice of moving is mostly about where they are moving. A lot of seniors will choose to move closer to their relatives for a multitude of reasons. This could be to spend more time with children or grandchildren, to have family available to help care for you as you age or even to help care for your family. No matter the reason, it is important to think through the effects this move will have on you and your family.

Expectations and Commitments

If you are moving to be closer to family on the pretense that you will be helping to watch grandchildren, or that your children will be helping to care for you, it is important to have open and honest conversations about this ahead of time. During these conversations, each party can express what they expect the situation to be like, so that no one feels they are being taken advantage of later. It is better to have an idea going in what any future commitments each party will have before you make the big move. Once everyone is on the same page, the move and any changes incurred by it will be acknowledged and addressed.

Opportunities

It is hard to leave the place you live because you have ties to the community and any friends you may have there. It is important when moving to be closer to your family that you aren’t moving just for them. Although it makes sense for your family to be a large part of why you move, you should have other things in your life in your new home. Perhaps this includes joining a club, taking a class or volunteering. Making new friends and connections in your new home is important because you don’t want there to be any resentment towards family members. The decision should be agreed upon by both parties and should be based on a mutually beneficial relationship.

Changes and Support Systems

Moving to a new city is hard for anyone, but for seniors it can be especially difficult because they have given up their support systems and roots at home. It is important when considering moving to be with loved ones that you have a good support system in place to deal with all the changes that come with moving into a new home in a new place. As family members, it is important to help make the move as easy as possible, trying to keep a semblance of routine and help your senior loved one to adjust to the changes that come with a new home in a new place.

Preventing Fraud Amongst Seniors

Unfortunately, many scam artists see seniors as easy targets for committing fraudulent schemes. The reason for this is that a lot of modern day scams rely on the internet, phone or even door to door and the trusting nature of the target. It’s hard to protect the seniors in your life because you can’t be with them day and night. Its important to take time to sit down with your loved ones and have discussions about the possibility of scam artists trying to commit fraud against them. There are many tips available to seniors that will help them to pick up on any red flags and avoid being scammed.

The most common scams come through emails, over the phone or in person from scam artists who come to the door. Helping them look over their email and unsubscribing or blocking emails from users they don’t know can help your loved ones to avoid these scams. These scams are easily able to ignore, but phone scams and in person scams are harder to avoid. It is important to help the seniors in your life to be more aware of the types of scams that are being targeted towards them and how to combat them.

Transferring/Sending Money

Seniors should never transfer money or give their credit card or banking information to any unknown parties or companies no matter what it is for. Anytime they need to provide any banking or credit information, seniors should show great caution. It is also a good idea to suggest that the seniors in your life are monitoring their banking. This way they will know quickly if something suspicious is happening in their accounts.

Signing Paperwork/Contracts

Anytime seniors are asked to sign paperwork or a contract they should ensure they seek a second opinion. It is important to have someone they trust look over anything they are signing just to double check that everything is in order.

Personal Information

It is important that seniors do not give out their personal information, especially through email or over the phone. Passwords and your social insurance number are extremely important and secret and should not be shared. Scam artists can use this information to apply for credit cards and pay for goods and services using your identity. Seniors, who have often accumulated good credit scores, and considered easy targets for identity theft.

Be Available

It is important for the seniors in your life to know you are available and un-judgmental in these situations. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is and if you set up a trusting and understanding relationship with any seniors in your life, they will be more likely to confide in you in these situations. That way you will be able to help coach and guide them away from any schemes or negative situations.

Seniors – How to Talk to Your Doctor

For people of all ages, it can be intimidating talking to your doctor, but for seniors it can be even more intimidating. The current generation of seniors, generally speaking, is more closed off about personal issues than their younger counterparts and often will wait longer to deal with an issue which usually makes whatever the ailment is, worse. It is important to tell your doctor any symptoms you are having or if there is anything about your body that you are worried about. Those who are uncomfortable bringing up issues with their doctors are not alone as it is a very common problem. Here are some tips to help you speak candidly to your doctor about any of your issues.

Bring a Friend or Family Member

Sometimes having a close friend or family member who is aware of or familiar with any conditions you may have at your appointment with you can be a big help. This way you will have your support system built in to the appointment, but you will also have someone there who knows your conditions or symptoms you may have. They will be looking out for you and may be willing to ask any questions you forget or don’t want to ask.

Write Down Questions or Concerns Before the Appointment

Going to visit your doctor can be stressful and in stressful situations our brains often don’t work the same as they would when in a regular situation. Sometimes this means forgetting to ask the right question or not asking out of fear of sounding ridiculous, but writing down any questions or concerns you may have or any symptoms you may experience will only help your doctor to make more informed prognoses or suggestions on how to better care for your body. If you have written your questions down, you can go through them one by one and make sure you have a full understanding of everything. You can also show your doctor your list of questions, if you are too embarrassed to ask them aloud.

Ask About Treatment Options

Sometimes a doctor will prescribe their recommended form of treatment option whether it be medication, nutritional guidance or specific exercises. You should always ask your doctor about what other treatment options are available. Its important to find the right treatment option for you and if you feel more comfortable with an alternative option that your doctor is able to verify and explain, then it is always worth asking.

Ask About Causes, Prevention and Ways to Improve Your Life

If you are worried about any particular ailments, you should ask your doctor how best to prevent them. Your doctor is knowledgeable in the best ways to keep you healthy. If they suggest you start exercising more, or eating more or less of a certain type of food, they are doing so because they want you to be on a healthy lifestyle path. Your doctor is your best resource for knowledge and advice on your health and being honest with them will keep you healthier and happier.

Living with and Improving Mobility Restrictions

For many seniors, at some point in their life, mobility restrictions will become an issue. For some, this could entail needing a walker or cane when moving around for balance to ensure that falls are avoided. For others, mobility issues can be more severe and require a wheelchair or other mobility assistance device. This can be a problem for a lot of seniors who find that suddenly they are needing to ask for help a lot more and needing this assistance can sometimes feel like a loss of independence. Loss of mobility can stem from chronic illnesses, falls that result in broken bones, or just regular issues with pain in joints. In most cases, there are many ways that we can help seniors who are struggling with their activity and it’s important to do so, so that seniors can maintain their independence.

Assistive Mobility Devices

Fortunately because there are so many seniors that are facing mobility issues, there are a lot of options available to seniors for assistance in their mobility. For something to lean on, consider using a walker or a cane. These are simplistic mobility devices that can make a world of difference to seniors struggling to get around and perform daily tasks. By offering just that little bit of extra support, these devices can make a large difference in daily life.

For seniors who still live at home who have a bedroom on an upper floor, chairlifts can be installed. Stairs tend to be a large issue for seniors and can, in fact, be a major player in seniors falling. By installing a chairlift in the home, seniors will be able to safely gain access to their upstairs rooms without having to risk taking a nasty fall.

Other devices such as shower chairs, grab bars and ramps can be added throughout the house just to help ensure that seniors are safe in their homes and can be assisted by devices rather than by people. This can mean a lot for seniors who want to maintain their independence.

Use Exercise to Improve Balance

One of the best ways to help a senior maintain as much mobility as possible is to help them with their balance. Falls have become one of the most common reasons for seniors having mobility issues and prevention is always the best medicine. By working with seniors to increase their balance, we can help to prevent nasty falls which will increase and promote independence for much longer. Almost any activity that includes walking will help to increase balance in seniors, but strengthening leg and core muscles specifically will improve balance drastically.

Many seniors fear becoming dependent on others and want to avoid needing any assistance. Mobility issues can exacerbate this fear and allowing your loved ones independence through the means of an assistive device can make a big difference to how they will feel about doing things on their own. It’s important to work on your balance at any age because it can make a big difference in later stages of your life.

How to Help Your Loved One Downsize

Downsizing a lifetime worth of belongings can be an extremely daunting task and for a lot of seniors it can be difficult emotionally as well as physically. Downsizing can happen for many reasons. For some, big family homes may feel too big to deal with all the upkeep now that most of the family has left and for others, an entirely new lifestyle in a smaller space may be desired, but sometimes seniors must downsize because they need to move to an assisted care facility and are unable to live in their homes on their own. No matter the situation, downsizing can be difficult because as people, we often become attached to our belongings and it can be hard to decide what will stay and what will go. As a friend or family member of the senior who is downsizing there are things you can do to help.

Time

One of the biggest things an individual can do to offer their friend or family member help in downsizing their belongings is to offer their time. Whether this time is spent helping to sort, organize or move belongings, this can provide a huge relief to your loved one. It can be hard for seniors to ask their families for help spending time with tasks like this because they don’t want to feel like they are burdening them, so if you know a loved one is looking to downsize, offer your time to come and help to go and sort through their belongings with them.

Support

Another way to help your loved one to downsize is to be there for them. Realizing that downsizing can be an emotionally trying situation, there is nothing more important than supporting your family member. For instance, helping your loved one to look at an item and decide whether it should stay or go can be extremely helpful. Since you don’t have emotional attachments to the belongings, you will be able to offer an unbiased opinion while still being able to stay sensitive to their emotions. Having someone in the room to be a trusted voice of reason can be one of the most helpful parts in downsizing.

Everything Else

Although finances can be an awkward discussion, its important that you make sure that your loved ones are in a good place financially. Downsizing can include the selling of big or antique furniture pieces, or realty costs including closing costs, legal costs, etc. Selling a home can be a large and stressful task. Offering to meet with realtors, or even gifting a cleaner to come in clean up the house to show it to prospective buyers are a few ways to assist in a financial way. You can also be there to help your loved ones to meet with potential movers or be there on moving day to ensure their belongings are being treated with care.

Although downsizing a home full of belongings and memories can be a difficult task, being there for your loved one emotionally and in person can make a world of difference to their downsizing experience.

 

Should I Be a Caregiver for My Parent?

As our parents get older and it begins to become apparent that they may need more help in their everyday tasks, it can be a big question of whether or not it is up to us to provide this care? For some, it is not possible to become a parent’s caregiver because of work or childcare obligations, but for those that it is an option, it can become an extremely hard decision.

Some of the most important things to watch out for as a caregiver are hygiene, nutrition and social interaction. A lot of seniors are unable to drive, so being a caregiver can also require driving seniors to appointments or to various locations so that they are able to socialize, run errands or shop. Depending on the general health and abilities of your parent, being their caregiver can be a small task (helping them out here and there to do a few things that are more difficult for them) or it can be a full-time position (cooking all their meals, bathing and ensuring all of their medications are taken on time, etc).

Before becoming your parent’s caregiver, it is important to ask yourself some questions to see if you are prepared or able to take on the extra responsibilities that come with the tasks your individual parents need.

Am I financially prepared or able to take on the extra costs of caring for another person?

This can be a huge aspect of deciding whether to become your parent’s caregiver. If you find it hard to meet your current financial obligations, adding the cost of another person who will need extra medical attention might mean this isn’t a cost you can take on.

Am I able to take care of my elderly parent?

If you are uncomfortable or feel you are unable to perform any of the aspects of taking care of your elderly parent, it might be best to consider hiring in a caregiver or outside help. If this is the case, you can still be heavily involved in your parents care by being in contact with their caregiver. Even if you do feel able to perform the tasks your parents require, you do need to also consider the physical and mental toll that becoming your parent’s caregiver can take.

Will I be able to make time for the rest of my family?

If taking care of your parent becomes your fulltime responsibility so much so that you are unable to focus on the rest of your family, friends or other obligations, becoming a caregiver probably won’t work for you. Not only do you need to make time for your family and friends, but you also need to make time for yourself.

There are many resources available for caregivers and it is important that if you decide to take on becoming a caregiver for your parent to take advantage on these resources. It is also important to remember to ask for help if you feel that you need it. Friends, families and support groups can be a great place to talk through any issues you might be having and to find support for what you’re going through.