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.

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.

Seniors and the Risk of Weight Gain

Weight gain can be a serious problem for people of all ages, but for seniors it can pose a particularly dangerous threat. Many of the usual health issues that we associate with aging are also the same issues that we associate with weight gain. The older we get, the more important that exercise and eating correctly becomes. Younger bodies are able to bounce back a lot better than older bodies, especially with the slowing down of our metabolisms. One of the largest health problems that can stem from weight gain is heart failure. Some other health problems that can arise through weight gain with age are diabetes, arthritis, sleep apnea and high blood pressure.

Weight Gain in Seniors

Weight gain in seniors is a common issue. As we age, we tend to gain weight for a multitude of reasons. Lower muscle mass leads to a slower metabolism and the number of calories we lose when we aren’t being physically active decreases. As we grow older, we also tend to be less active in general. Most people work in professions that are considered sedentary and we don’t engage in as many physical activities like we used to. Exercise is usually the first thing that people give up when they find their schedules and other obligations become too time consuming. It is important through any of these lifestyle changes that we keep an eye on our health and weight.

One of the most common reasons for weight gain isn’t necessarily a lack of exercise, but instead an increase of food intake and junk food cravings. High stress levels can cause a lot of issues with us as we age and the more weight we put on at a younger age, the harder it is to lose that weight as we age.

Addressing Weight Gain

Prevention is always the best medicine, so we should always strive to not let weight gain get out of hand. The more we weigh, the higher probability it is that we will encounter severe health issues later in life; however, for those who are overweight and looking to take control of their situation it is important to combine a combination of healthy eating and exercise.

For healthy eating, seniors (or people of any age) should be trying to eat well-balanced meals each day and eliminating junk food from their diets. Learning to ignore food cravings and to listen to your body tell you when it is actually hungry can be a huge factor in keeping your body healthy and avoiding the health issues associated with weight gain.

For exercise, seniors should know the limits of their bodies and not push too far. The first steps are improving mobility, balance and flexibility. At first, it may be enough to go out for a brisk walk, but upon the strengthening of muscles and confidence in your body, picking up weights or participating in fitness classes can help you to either lose the weight that is causing you health problems or prevent them altogether.

Finding Happiness in Caregiving

When considering becoming a caregiver for your parents, most thoughts revolve around concerns such as:

  • Will I be able to provide proper care for my loved one?
  • Am I physically and mentally prepared for the strain of caregiving?
  • Will this affect my relationship with my parent?
  • How stressed will I become?
  • Will I have anytime for myself?

Most of these concerns tend to be on the negative side. Since caregiving is a rigorous job that can be the cause of stress, grief, frustration and depression, it is in our nature to worry about and focus on the negatives. Often regarding caregiving for an elderly loved one, you may feel overwhelmed or like you have no more time for yourself and it is natural to focus on these feelings and share the bad news of the job, rather than focusing on any of the positive feelings you may be having.

In all of these struggles you may be facing it is important to be aware of and take advantage of the benefits that also come with elder care. Oftentimes, these benefits and positives are not fully realized until you are for any given reason no longer your loved one’s caregiver.

Relationship with Your Loved One

Since you’re suddenly spending so much time with and caring for your parent, you will notice the strengthening of your bond with your parents or loved one. As people age, they also usually become more willing to communicate. For someone who may not have a completely open and honest relationship with their parents, spending all of this time together will offer you time to talk about their past and their likes and dislikes. You may find out a lot about your parent that you never knew. These moments and memories that are shared can become invaluable.

Relationship with Yourself

In caregiving for a loved one, you will probably find that you are a lot more capable than you ever imagined. Accomplishing so many tasks (administering medication, cooking and cleaning, driving your parent to the doctor, etc.) will help you to gain time management and organizational skills you may not have ever knew you had the ability to accomplish. You will feel great about yourself realizing just how much you are able to complete in any given day. You will feel stronger and have more self-confidence the more you are able to do when you care for your parents, specifically if you feel something is out of your own particular skill set.

Realizing the Importance of Taking A Break

Nothing will teach about what is really important in life more than caregiving for your loved one. Although the care of your parent is necessary, taking a break and caring for yourself is also important. One of the major causes of caregiver burnout is taking on too much and not taking a break. This is not only a good lesson to learn in caregiving, but it is also a good lesson to learn in life. Taking care of yourself will only make it easier and make you better at taking care of someone else.

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.