Posts Tagged ‘aging parents’

Caregiving Can Take a Toll on the Caregiver

December 14, 2015

While many Seniors continue to work today well beyond the traditional “retirement age,” there are many others who are in quite the opposite situation; they are desperately in need of eldercare due to failing health. Many of these people now depend on working family members to take care of their needs.

According to recent statistics from the American Society on Aging, nearly one out of every four US households – or 22 million households -provide care to a relative or friend aged 50 or older. In addition, 40% of caregivers are also raising children and 64% work full- or part-time. The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that, on average, caregivers spend four an done-half years providing care and spend about 12 hours each week providing it.

Research suggests that the physical and emotional demands on caregivers put them at greater risk for health problems:

  • Caregivers are more at risk for infectious diseases, such as colds and flue, and chronic diseases, such as heart problems, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Depression is twice as common among caregivers compared to noncaregivers.

If you are a caregiver, don’t forget to care for yourself. Here are a few tips:

When it comes to their health, caregivers are less likely than their peers to take steps to prevent or control chronic disease. Taking care of your own health will help you to better care for your loved one longer.

  • Be wise – immunize. The CDC recommends that caregivers of the elderly get a flu shot each year, a tetanus booster every 10 years and a pneumococcal vaccination at least once.
  • Don’t neglect your health. Get a yearly check up and the recommended cancer screenings (mammogram, cervical screening, etc.).
  • Tell your doctor that you are a caregiver.
  • Tell your doctor if you feel depressed or nervous.
  • Take some time each day to do something for yourself. Read, listen to music, telephone friends, or exercise. Eat health foods and do not skip meals.
  • Find caregiver resources in your area early. You may not need their information or services now, but you will have them when you need them.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And don’t do it all yourself. Use your family, friends, or neighbors for support. Family may help share caregiving tasks. Friends and neighbors may help with other chores.
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Elderly Face Unique Substance Abuse Challenges

August 28, 2015

Older adults have many of the same problems as young people do with alcohol and other drug addictions, plus other issues unique to their age group. Estrangement from family, financial problems, and a host of regrets are nearly universal to people of all ages in recovery. But the elderly also have to deal with greater isolation and changing body chemistry. In addition, the fact that they may have even less accountability and more free time can become negative factors as well.

Treatment programs are seeing an increase in older addicts as “Baby Boomers” – the first generation to experience widespread recreational use of drugs who were born before admitting addiction and seeking help became fashionable – reach their 50s and 60s. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently held the first national forum on drug addiction among the elderly. Federal officials expect the number of seniors with alcohol and other drug problems to leap 150% by 2020.

On the positive side, older addicts who are ready to quit drinking or taking drugs are often more successful in doing so than their younger counterparts. Older clients may be suspicious of therapy, but they tend to keep their appointments. However, their therapy needs to be tailored to their needs: counselors must be respectful of their privacy and have good manners, and the sessions should be shorter and held during the day so seniors don’t have to drive at night.

About 3% of Americans seeking treatment for addiction are over age 60, but the percentage who have addition problems is suspected to be higher. A decade ago, three of four older addicts were battling alcohol abuse, but today about half have problems with drugs other than alcohol.

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Exploring Eldercare

August 14, 2015

It’s always too difficult to come to the realization that your parent or other aged loved one suddenly needs help taking care of themselves. After all, our older relatives typically spent their lives taking care of us. The time comes, however, when we realize that our elderly loved ones are no longer able to take care of themselves. Roles are reversed, and suddenly, we are forced to make important life decisions for them.

It may be difficult to determine whether or not your loved one is ready for eldercare services, especially if you do not live nearby or you do not see them that frequently. Additionally, though some elderly people do need help, they might be hesitant to ask for it; some may directly refuse.

So how do you know when a loved one is in need of care? It is essential that you visit their home and spend some good, quality time to determine whether or not they do need eldercare. In order to determine whether they need care, consider the following.

Signs That An Aging Loved One Might Need Care

  • Increasing Forgetfulness: Does the person forget to pay bills, or forget common household duties? Have they left the oven or stove on? Do they remember the date or year? Do they have trouble remembering family members?
  • Weight Loss: Has the person lost a great deal of weight? Do they seem more frail than the last time you saw them?
  • Messy Home/Lack of Cleanliness: Does the home seem to lack order? Does it have an odor? Is the garbage taken out, are the newspapers put away? Does the person bathe on a regular basis?
  • Low Food Supply: Does the person have enough food to eat? Are the supplies spoiled?
  • Low Medicine Supply or Misuse of Medicine: Does the person know how and what medicines to self administer? Are all of their medicines up to date? Have thy been to the doctor recently?
  • Diagnosis of Serious Medical Problem: Has your loved one been diagnosed with a disease such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or cancer? Do they require regular, professional medical attention? If they live with a loved one (such as a spouse) can the spouse take care of them adequately?
  • Loneliness/Depression: Does the person have regular visitors? Do they see family or friends? Have they recently been widowed?
  • Loss of Mobility: Can the person move adequately enough to get to the restroom or into the shower? Does the person get any regular activity?
  • Confusion: Does the person know who you are? Do they know who they are?
  • Inability to Drive/Transportation Issues: Is the person still driving? Is it safe? Are they able to run errands such as shopping or going to the doctor safely?

If your loved one is having difficulty with any of these issues, it may be time to consider some form of eldercare for your loved one.

Once you and your loved one agree that they do need care, you must investigate the options for eldercare in your area. There are a variety of different possibilities, but based on their needs as well as financial considerations you may decide upon one of the following: care by family member, in-home care by a bonded and insured company, or care at a senior living complex or in a nursing home. Based on your loved one’s financial constraints, you can help them decide which choice is best for them. If possible, take your loved one on a tour of the facilities you are considering together. Let them meet the staff and meet the other residents. Empower your loved one to be a part of the decision-making process.

Get Along With Your Parents

June 23, 2015

All relationships experience ups and downs, and families are no different. Navigating a healthy adult relationship with your parents can sometimes be difficult. They are unique, and so are you. Healthy adult relationships can appreciate both the similarities and differences. However, there are still areas for potential disagreement, such as raising your children, achieving financial independence, arguing about future medical care, and having unresolved issues from childhood.

Having a healthy adult relationship with your parents is possible and a worthwhile investment. The following tips demonstrate how to work toward a mutually beneficial relationship.

Don’t try to change them. It’s acceptable to tell your parents what you do and don’t tolerate in your home and with your children. Setting boundaries is also important and necessary. Be mindful though, that your parents are who they are. Accept them for who they are, without trying to change them.

Respect parental freedom. Making assumptions about your parents’ lives is never helpful. They may not want to always babysit your children or fix every appliance, so take responsibility for your own life. Respect that they are adults who value independence.

Be honest. Your parents can’t read your mind. Be honest about who you are, what you want, and what’s important to you. It’s unfair to expect them to know unless you tell them.

Be careful with advice. Unless you’re seeking your parents’ insight, don’t ask for advice. Often times, we ask for counsel when we’ve already made our decision. This can be problematic if they disagree with your choice.

The most effective way to handle conflict with our parents is like you would with any other adult that you respect. Good communication is vital. Problems, especially with family members, are simply disguised opportunities for growth and change.

Caring for the Caregiver

February 23, 2015

Many people are responsible for ailing parents or loved ones. Many are serving as caretakers in addition to working full- or part-time. This can lead to burn out, depression and physical illness for the caretaker. Now two people need help!

To avoid the double whammy of trying to nurse yourself while taking care of another, consider the following pointers for self-care from the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeast Michigan.

  • Prioritize your time.
  • Set realistic goals for your time. There’s always tomorrow.
  • Identify the main stressors in your caregiving role and find ways to cope with them.
  • Treat yourself to a therapeutic massage.
  • Eat and rest properly and exercise daily, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  • Hire a teen or older adult for daily breaks.
  • Spend time with people who make you laugh.
  • Don’t take the ill person’s negative moods personally.
  • Ask for and accept help.
  • Develop a support system for yourself – and remember that you can feel supported and in touch with others on the phone and via email if your time is restricted.
  • Allow yourself to be less than perfect.
  • Take one day at a time.