Tag Archives: caregiver

Caregiver Depression: The Intangible Cost Of Dementia Care:

Does your mother have enough food? Does she have clean laundry? Is she eating nutritious meals? Has she been wandering? Is she safe? Does she have her medications? Are her finances in order? Who will set up her doctors appointments? Who will drive her?

Up to 50 percent of caregivers providing Alzheimer's and dementia care suffer from some sort of caregiver depression - developing major depressive illnesses and stress related to added duties and worry, according to a doctor with the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco. The caregiver becomes so overburdened with responsibilities, duties and worries that they aren't sure what to do next. This feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do, especially when it concerns a loved one, can lead to anxiety and eventually clinical depression.

With 80 million baby boomers getting older and needing more medical care, and estimates stating that there will be 7 million Americans with Alzheimer's disease by 2025, the concern becomes about the costs of care - financial costs, as well as the intangible mental and emotional costs on the caregiver.

Signs of Caregiver Depression

Providing dementia care and Alzheimer's care for a loved one can lead to feelings of stress, guilt, anger, sadness and isolation. Depression can affect caregivers in different ways and at different times, so it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms. It is common for depression to set in immediately after the loved one has been diagnosed with the disease, and also as the disease progresses and you start to see your loved one fade. Signs of depression include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not cease with treatment
  • Thoughts of suicide, or suicide attempts

If you are concerned that you might be depressed, see your doctor as soon as possible. If depression is left untreated, not only can it lead to emotional and physical problems, it can also affect the quality of care you're able to provide the person with Alzheimer's or dementia.

What is the solution?

Even though providing Alzheimer's and dementia care can be difficult, caring for loved ones can truly be very rewarding if managed correctly. It is important while providing care that the caregiver takes time to his or herself  to participate in enjoyable activities  and hobbies. Another way to help cope with the added responsibilities and stress is to try keeping a journal to express both positive and negative emotions. It is also important to talk to your friends and family and let them know when you might need some assistance.

There is also major research being conducted that aims to reduce both the tangible and intangible costs of dementia care. The University of California, San Francisco, along with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is beginning a $10 million study funded by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. Researchers plan to develop a dementia "ecosystem," which aims to reduce the cost of caring for the growing number of dementia patients and to ease the strain on caregivers.

A handful of tech start-ups have also been working to create technological solutions to ease the burden on caregivers. In San Francisco, Lively markets a system of networked sensors and a watch that can pick up on activity around the house and let family members or caregivers know if there is a worrisome change.

With increasing technology targeted to help ease the burden of Alzheimer's and dementia care, caregiver responsibilities and worries will be lessened, and depression will likely decrease as a result. However, in the meantime it is important to find outlets for emotions related to providing care, and to seek professional help when necessary. Respite care is an affordable, reliable option that can provide the additional support to keep you from feeling isolated and overwhelmed. American In-Home Care offers respite care along with other live-in elderly care solutions. Contact us today to set up a free consultation and discuss what care options are right for you.

Home Care For Aging Parents: What To Do When The Time Comes

There comes a time when we realize that home care for aging parents is necessary. The moment of realization usually comes in the form of a crisis, perhaps mom fell and broke her hip, or maybe dad went on a walk and couldn't find his way home. Moments like these are frightening, and can bring up feelings of anxiety for what is to come.

How do you talk to your parents about a very complex and sensitive situation? How do you take time away from your job or your own family and children's needs? How do you take care of your parents the same way that they cared for you?

These are all very legitimate questions that arise during a time like this, and the most important thing to do when mom and dad need care is to remain calm and not get frustrated.

1. Have your parent talk to someone outside the family about personal matters

Because many older adults can find the transition to receiving advice and care from their own children somewhat embarrassing, it can often be very difficult and frustrating to try to talk to our parents about topics like installing safety equipment in their home, giving up their car keys, or wearing an ID bracelet. But these are conversations that need to be had. To make it easier on both you and your elderly parent, try having them talk to a third party outside of the family about these issues. This third party can either be a friend, or a professional in the form of a therapist or someone in the geriatric care profession.

These third party individuals can help provide a feeling of equality for your parent, and at the very least their advice is more likely to be taken.  Having an outsider to be the one to make unbiased recommendations to your parent about potential safety issues can be instrumental in getting your parent to cooperate.

2. Determine your own needs as well as your parents'

Taking care of an aging parent can add unneeded stress to an already very busy life and schedule. Because of this, it is important to make a plan delegating your wants and needs as, well as the wants and needs of your parents, to ensure that you can enjoy the time with your parents rather than spending it arguing.

It is important to determine how closely you are able to be involved with parents' care, while still maintaining the personal and professional jobs and duties of your own. It can be beneficial to speak with a geriatric care manager or an in-home care specialist in this situation to help ensure that the needs and desires you have determined are going to be met.

3. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to seek professional help

This is a time that can be very difficult and frustrating for both you and your parents, so leaning on the advice and expertise of professionals who have experience with elder care can be very beneficial. When you start asking yourself the following questions, it may be time to seek out professional help:

  1. Are my parents safe in their home?
  2. Are my parents' health concerns taking me away from my own family and obligations?
  3. Are my parents needs and concerns becoming more than I can manage?
  4. How can I make sure that both my and my parents' needs are being met?
  5. What kind of assistance can me and my parents afford?
  6. What resources are out there that could benefit my parents?
  7. What kind of help would increase my parents' safety while also maintaining their independence?

American In-Home Care always refers qualified and compassionate Nurses, Certified Nursing Assistants, Home Health Aides, and Companions who provide a wide variety of services, so you can always find the care provider and care options that are right for you and your family. To schedule a free consultation with one of our Client Care Liaisons, call 1-844-505-0004 today.

Memory Loss With Age: Helpful Tips For Coping

Forgetfulness and memory lapses are common among older adults, and can be frustrating and embarrassing. As we grow older, we experience changes that can cause glitches in the brain functions that we have always taken for granted. Because it takes longer to learn and recall information as we age, we’re not as quick as we used to be, which can lead to feelings of frustration when we forget everyday things.

Memory loss with age happens because the region of the brain responsible for memories starts to deteriorate, and hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells decline. Older adults are also less efficient at absorbing brain-enhancing nutrients, which makes some memory loss a natural part of aging.

For this reason, most people experience occasional lapses in memory that are a normal part of the aging process and not necessarily a warning sign of serious mental deterioration or the onset of dementia. However, when memory loss with age becomes so severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, then it is time to see a doctor and get evaluated.

When a loved one has been evaluated and is diagnosed with severe memory loss such as Alzheimer's disease, it can be challenging for the person diagnosed as well as their caregivers. Even though there are no medical treatments for curing severe memory impairments, changing the way things are done at home can help.

1. Use Lots of Hints and Reminders

Talk frequently about things that are coming up and important events that need to be remembered. Incorporate these reminders naturally into conversation so that it doesn't make the person feel foolish, or point out the fact that they can't remember on their own. Also use hints like "let's make sandwiches for lunchtime," which can help remind them what time of day it is and what meal is coming next. Words with context such as "lunch," "dinner," or "bath time," can be more useful than using numeric values such as "3 o'clock."

2. Use Calendars and Clocks

Make sure there are clocks placed throughout the house, and keep blinds and curtains open during the day so that it is easier to keep track of the time of day. Before getting in bed,  visibly cross off the day on the calendar so that the new day is apparent in the morning.

3. Keep Old Photographs and Mementos Around

While these will not necessarily jog any present memories, they are important to have around because they can be comforting and provide reminders of family and friends. People with severe memory loss are often better able to recall events in the distant past, so having heirlooms and pictures around the house can help to provide a means to recall these comforting memories.

4. Keep Choices Limited

Remove the need for extra choices to be made which can confuse and upset the individual. For example, only leave a few shirts and two pairs of shoes in the closet, keeping the other items in a separate, locked closet. And when asking for the individual's preference, limit choices and distractions by asking "do you want" questions, such as "do you want to wear the black shoes?"

5. Use Night Lights Around the House

People with severe memory loss can easily become disoriented at night, so keeping night lights around helps them know where they are if they wake up in the middle of the night and need to use the bathroom. Also, keeping the house illuminated helps prevent injury due to falls or bumping in to objects.

6. Provide for Other Sensory Changes

Changes in other sensory organs comes along with severe memory loss, meaning taste, hearing and sight might also be compromised which can be confusing and even lead to depression. Be aware of this as a caregiver and be sure the individual gets the proper glasses or hearing aids if necessary, and try cooking with more spicy or flavorful foods to compensate for deteriorating taste buds.

7. Show Not Tell

Because of the way the brain works, someone with a progressive memory disorder such as Alzheimer's would have a poor declarative memory (related to recalling facts), but still have a strong, healthy procedural memory (related to recalling how to do things). Thus, someone with Alzheimer's may be able to learn new skills or remember how to do tasks by practicing in small steps how something is done. It may take several weeks of patient practicing, but the sense of accomplishment and independence after learning the task is worth the effort.

8. Keep a Set Routine

People with severe memory loss do not function as well when there are changes and surprises in their day, so activities should be done at the same time and in the same way every day as much as possible. For example dressing before breakfast, watering the plants before lunch, and eating meals and exercising at the same time every day. If there needs to be a change, such as a vacation or a visit to the doctor, tell the person all the information beforehand in a positive, friendly way.

If you are worried that you or your loved one's memory loss might be getting serious, you can start by taking a quiz to test the severity of memory loss, but you should always see a doctor to confirm the results and start seeking treatment. People who are diagnosed with severe memory loss such as Alzheimer's or dementia often require constant and daily care to help provide for their needs, so do not feel overwhelmed or guilty if you cannot handle the care on your own - professional in-home care services can help your loved one remain safe, happy and under control in the comfort of their own home.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer compassionate, qualified, care providers that specialize in a variety of services, including Alzheimer's and Dementia Care. Contact a Client Care Liaison at any time to set up a free assessment of your in-home care needs; they can provide you with additional information about which care options are right for you and your family. We are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-844-505-0004.

Caregiver Burnout: How to Avoid It As The Sole Caregiver

When an aging parent starts to show signs of needing permanent care and assistance, many families are unsure of what to do, so often a family member single-handedly takes on the role of caregiver. However, being the sole caregiver for an aging parent can be a big task, especially when an already busy family member takes on the role. This can easily lead to the caregiver beginning to neglect his or her own needs, and if ignored, caregiver burnout is inevitable.

While providing care for a parent can bring satisfaction, trying to keep up with the growing emotional and physical needs of the parent can easily overwhelm the family member who takes on such a large, personal task. When the safety of the parent starts to come in to question, the caregiver can start to feel guilt for not providing enough care, which leads to added stress and caregiver burnout.

How to Recognize Caregiver Burnout

  • Feeling down, depressed and unhappy
  • Not wanting to or not having enough energy to participate in hobbies and activities
  • Developing abnormal eating patterns, and losing or gaining a lot of weight
  • Turning to alcohol or abusing drugs to cope
  • Developing unhealthy sleeping habits such as insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Withdrawing from friends and family, or becoming impatient or irritable with people around you
  • Getting sick more often or not being able to get rid of an illness
  • Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself or a loved one

Preventing Caregiver Burnout

  • Keep a daily routine for both yourself and your parent, and stick to it
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and be sure to drink lots of fluids and take supplements if necessary
  • Get sufficient rest. When your parent(s) is resting, you can rest too
  • Take a little time for yourself each day. Even 15 minutes of “me” time is important
  • Know your limits and do not try to do more than you are capable of handling
  • Don’t be afraid to ask family members or friends for help. They can give you days off or just help with certain tasks
  • Find a friend, support group or doctor that you can confide in and ask for advice and support when needed
  • Enjoy moments of happiness and laughter and try to focus on the satisfaction that you get from providing for your loved one

Caregivers are taking on a large, personal responsibility and so it is important to be able to recognize signs of burnout, and to be equipped to combat it. However, if you do find yourself suffering from burnout, reach out for help. Contact your doctor immediately if you become ill or start having suicidal thoughts, and join a support group who can provide support and ideas for making the experience easier.

Also consider in-home care services or Respite Care, as they can provide your parent with all of the expert, personal care and attention that he or she needs while allowing you to focus on your own health and well-being again. Remember it is important to take care of yourself first so that you can continue to be able to care for the ones you love for many years to come.

At American In-Home Care, we always refer qualified, screened, care providers that can assist you with your Respite Care needs. Contact a Client Care Liaison at any time to set up a free assessment of your in-home care needs; they can provide you with additional information about which care options are right for you and your family. We are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-844-505-0004.

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