Posts Tagged ‘caregiver’

Help for Families Dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease

April 28, 2016

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive, irreversible disease that affects brain cells and produces memory loss in as many as 4.5 million American adults. This disease affects people of all racial, economic, and educational backgrounds. People with AD become increasingly unable to take care of themselves. Caregivers of people with AD face the ongoing challenge of adapting to each change in the person’s behavior and functioning. The following general principles may be helpful to family members caring for someone with this disease.

  • Think prevention. It is very difficult to predict what a person with AD might do. Just because something has not yet occurred does not mean it should not be cause for concern. Even with the best-laid plans, accidents can happen. Therefore, checking the safety of your home will help you take control of some of the potential problems that may create hazardous situations.
  • Adapt the environment. It is more effective to change the environment than to change most behaviors. While some AD behaviors can be managed with special medications prescribed by a doctor, many cannot. You can make changes in an environment to decrease the hazards and stressors that accompany these behavioral and functional changes.
  • Minimize danger. By minimizing danger, you can maximize independence. A safe environment can be a less restrictive environment where the person with AD can experience increased security and more mobility.

Is It Safe to Leave the Person With AD Alone?

This issue needs careful evaluation and is certainly a safety concern. The following points may help you decide. Does the person with AD:

  • become confused or unpredictable under stress?
  • recognize a dangerous situation; for example, fire?
  • know how to use the telephone in an emergency?
  • know how to get help?
  • stay content within the home?
  • wander and become disoriented?
  • show signs of agitation, depression, or withdrawal when left alone for any period of time?
  • attempt to pursue former interests or hobbies that might now warrant supervision such as cooking, appliance repair, or woodworking?

Caregivers should seek input and advice from a health care professional to assist in these considerations. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, these questions will need ongoing evaluation.

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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.

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.