11.23.09

Alzheimer’s Support Groups‏

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease at 5:49 pm by admin

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Caregiving, especially family caregiving, will probably always involve some level of stress. Having a senior depending on you is a demanding job, often requiring twenty-four hour vigilance. But when Alzheimer’s or other forms of Dementia are involved, the stress and frustration can be magnified for any caregiver.

We have already discussed some very helpful methods of dealing with caregiver stress, and these are tips that will help in dealing with any kind of senior illness, including Alzheimer’s. But one of those tips might be more important for caregivers of memory impaired patients: The support group.

The very idea of support groups can be off putting for many people. The term conjures up images of circles of people who have to share their feelings, like at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. It’s an easy picture to reject. After all, care giving is a good thing. It isn’t an illness or addiction to be worked through. And when all is said and done, you will be fine, right?

Maybe. But Alzheimer’s and Dementia are complex problems with no clear solution. Nobody knows how to perfectly navigate the issues of memory loss, or the ripple effects they can cause in a family. And because it’s so complex, many feel like they are alone. They sense their efforts are not helping, and they ultimately get so stressed out that they burn out.
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Support groups can be a wonderful source of information for caregivers. They are very often part of the “pipelines” of new research and strategies for dealing with the disease. Many are linked directly with groups like the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org), which is on the forefront of research, fund raising and information on memory loss.

But the real reason people need support groups is that people need people. And not just any people will do. They need to be around people who understand what they are dealing with. People who have no emotional entanglements with their situation. People who will not judge them. Support groups provide these people. Caregivers can let their guard down and “be real” with other human beings who won’t think less of them for feeling exhausted, helpless or resentful, because they are or have been in the same situation. And if they have come through, they can offer the kind of human insight that no website or book could ever provide.

If you are a care giver for a senior with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you owe it to yourself to find a support network. It will help and your family. Residents of Smith County Texas who are looking for a support group can download a list of groups and schedules at the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County website.

Residents of the greater Dallas area should go to this page instead. Alzheimer’s support groups for all other regions in the US should go to www.alz.org/apps/findus.asp .[ad#ad-1]

11.15.09

Caregiving Toward Independence

Posted in Home Health Care at 1:10 am by admin

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How to Help your Dependent Senior Live more Independently

 

 
 
Transitioning from family relationships into the roles of caregiver and care recipient can dramatically change the relational dynamics. A common mistake most caregivers make is doing too much for their loved one. Encouraging your loved one to maintain independence as much as possible while maintaining reasonable expectations will relieve your own burden, improve her sense of dignity, and encourage her physical mobility. Here are a few ways you can do this.
 
  • Maintain reasonable expectations. Expect your loved one to participate in her own care as much as she is able. It’s tempting to rush in and help immediately, but unless your loved one is in trouble, giving wait time can convince her she can handle the task at hand herself. This can be difficult especially if your loved one is feeling helpless or frustrated with her loss of ability, but successful independence even in little tasks will add to her overall sense of autonomy. Encourage and applaud every success and effort.
 
  • Provide something for your loved one to tend or care for like a pet or a plant. Some studies have shown that having something depend on you can prolong life. Just be sure she is really able to provide the necessary care and it will not become another task you need to add to your to-do list.

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  • Rearranging the home and using assistive devices may help your loved one move around with greater ease independently without the use of traditional Texas elderly care like assisted living, and nursing homes. Move her to a bedroom closer to the bathroom, add a hand railing in the hallway, a chair lift on the stairs, a shower chair or raised toilet seat in the bathroom. Even the simpler devices, like a button hook, or velcro closures on clothing and shoes could make a major difference in allowing your loved one to dress herself. 
 
  • Planning outings and social interaction is essential to preventing depression and feelings of isolation, or worthlessness. Allow your loved one to choose locations, and schedule regular visits with family and friends.  Asking them to put a date on the calendar and following up with a phone call a day before is a great way to make sure they remember. 
 
  • Encourage good hygiene and personal maintenance, such as shaving and regular hair cuts. This is important to your loved one’s sense of dignity.
 
  • Regular exercise will go a long way to maintaining mobility and independence. Consistency is more important than intensity or length of workout. Work toward increasing large muscle movement, but recognize that even small movements on a regular basis will help your loved one to maintain and improve overall muscle tone, allowing her to do more on her own.
 
  • Allowing your loved one to make her own choices as much as possible will give her a sense of control and autonomy. Encourage her to choose bed time, clothing, hobbies, reading, entertainment, and activities. 
 
These simple choices and responsibilities can make a huge difference in the life of an aging loved one. They can help fend off the sense of helpless and depression that can so easily creep in.

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11.09.09

Tips For Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

Posted in Elder Care at 3:00 pm by admin

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Caregiving is an incredibly noble pursuit. It’s also one of the most intensive, exhausting jobs a person will undertake. Because of changes in home and family dynamics, added financial concerns, and a lack of support, caregivers often experience heightened stress and exhaustion. When unchecked, high stress levels and sleep deprivation can lead to burnout and health problems. Burn out prevents you from safely and effectively caring for your loved one.
Signs of caregiver burnout:
Exhaustion
Helplessness
Irritability
Apathy
Cynicism
Anger
Resentment
Depression
Feelings of isolation
Uncontrollable crying
Anxiety
Panic attacks
Fear or Paranoia
Deteriorating health
Increased frustration
Hopelessness
The good news? Caregiver burnout is avoidable. The following tips will help you maintain good health and a positive outlook, making the caregiving experience positive for you and your loved one.
Tips for avoiding Caregiver burnout:
  • Eat properly, sleep adequately, and exercise regularly. These three are foundational to improve and maintain your mental, emotional, and physical health.
  • Schedule time for the things you enjoy. Participating in hobbies, social events, and other enjoyable activities are great stress relievers and are essential to keep you mentally and emotionally recharged.
  • Learn as much as possible about your loved one’s condition or disease. Being familiar with symptoms, treatments, and language associated with his illness will help you feel more comfortable and confident in properly caring for and advocating for him.
  • Ask for help from family and friends. Even those who may not feel comfortable taking your loved one out or coming in to sit with him for an hour, would be glad to bring a meal or help with house cleaning. And when people ask to help, accept it! If no one is available, take advantage of a local Adult Day Care Service, and relax knowing he is being tended by knowledgeable caregivers.
  • Find a listening ear. Join a support group, find a counsellor, or grab a supportive friend and express your frustrations, feelings, and struggles.
  • Keep lists and checklists handy to help you prioritize to-do lists and organize medicines, special diets, and emergency contacts.
  • Laugh every day. Laughter really is the best medicine to relieve stress, boost your immune system, and keep a hopeful outlook. Keep lighthearted, fun reading materials close at hand. Find humor in the day-to-day. Watch a comedy. Surround yourself with positive, encouraging people.
  • Learn to say “No” to other demands that add to your stress level. People may just need to be reminded that your loved one depends on you for full-time care.
  • Encourage your loved one to maintain independence as much as possible. A common mistake most caregivers make is doing too much for their loved one. Maintaining reasonable expectations will relieve your own burden, improve his sense of dignity, and encourage his physical mobility.
Balance is really the key for a caregiver. It is just too easy for caregivers to go overboard, accepting every responsibility that comes their way, feeling like a failure if they take any time for themselves. By implementing some of these ideas into your daily routines, you are helping yourself stay balanced. These tips won’t insure a stress-free life by any means, but they might just help you stay sane and happy.

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11.04.09

The Jitterbug Cell Phone: Senior Bilking?

Posted in Scams at 11:48 am by admin

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Jitterbug Phone

Don’t Fall For a Too Good To Be True Ploy

The Mobile Phone has become a staple in society and a symbol of the
digital world. But not everybody uses them. Senior adults often find
them infuriating. The buttons are too small, the screen is too dim,
and the icons and options are overwhelming. Many would rather bring
change for a pay phone than carry one.

With this in mind, one company has launched a massive campaign for its
senior friendly phone: The Jitterbug. The premise is simple: It’s a no-
contract phone with a tenth of the functionality but twice the price.
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We’ll look at the positives first. There is no contract that a senior
will get locked into. The numbers and the display really do make
calling easier for people with vision loss. And the fact that there
are “old time style” operators that can assist not only with directory
assistance but with calling from the customer’s own contact list is
appealing to many.

But the cost of using a Jitterbug is simply way, way too expensive for
what it gives you. The phone itself is $147, and their rate plans
start at $14.99 for 50 minutes per month. That is a total of more than
$0.30 per minute! And unlike every other major cell phone service,
there are no Nights and Weekend minutes or mobile to mobile
privileges. The only conceivable reason anyone would buy this plan is
for emergencies.

The more popular plans are $29.99 for 200 minutes, $39.99 for 300
minutes, $49.99 for 500, $59.99 for 700, and $79.99 for 1000. Each of
these include 500 Nights & Weekend minutes and no mobile to mobile
minutes. For those who are familiar with cell phone pricing, this is
obviously and unnecessarily expensive. Basic cell phone service for
AT&T begins at $39.99 for 450 minutes. 5000 (that’s thousand, not
hundred) Nights and Weekend minutes, and unlimited Mobile to Mobile.
And from there, the deals get better, offering unlimited talking time
on nights and weekends.

What does this mean for Seniors? With a little help from their loved
ones (people like you), they could get set up with a cell phone with
simple functionality, big buttons, and much, much more freedom to call
when they need to. Many of the big-button older phones are still
available online and can easily be set up for service. And I can
guarantee you they’re not going to charge anywhere near $147!

The funny thing about Jitterbug’s tiny calling allowances is that most
seniors I know enjoy talking on the phone to their families. If the
point is to give them freedom, why not give them more minutes to
actually exercise that freedom? Wouldn’t that be better?

But Jitterbug is more concerned with condescending to Seniors and
bilking them for all their worth. The Jitterbug is dramatically
overpriced, but many will pay it, because the man on the TV said it
was a good deal. But it is not a good deal.

If your loved one is considering buying a Jitterbug, make sure they
understand what they’re getting into, and present them with options.
If they have plenty of money, it’s not going to be a big deal. But
most are on a fixed income, and could do without the bilking, thank
you very much! [ad#ad-1]

Utilizing Volunteer Services Before Assisted Living

Posted in Elderly Care at 11:37 am by admin

 Although nobody is ever excited about putting their loved ones in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility, many people are too quick to do so when they see things going poorly. They assume that just because their loved one’s health and independence are wearing down that they have to completely alter their environment. This is especially true of families who live a little a little ways away from their aging parents.

Here’s a common scenario: a senior begins to have trouble with IADL’s (Instrumental Activities for Daily Living) like cooking and driving. his eyesight is wearing down, and he gets tired too quickly to stand for an hour in the kitchen. The family gets really concerned. They’re not close enough to help him, so they reach for a phone book to find an Assisted Living Home.

If you are one of those family members, you might be overreacting. Does your parent or grandparent’s limitations actually warrant full- time care? Or is there another way to help manage his newfound limitations?
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Most communities across the US have built their own network of volunteer services for seniors. These services can be of huge assistance for your loved one. Even though you can’t be there to give him rides or prepare his meals, there might be other people who can. Here are a few examples:

â–  Meals-on-Wheels is a national program that offers home delivery of lunches to seniors who are not able to drive themselves. This is an excellent program, and one that is perfect for elders who need assistance but not supervision.

â–  Friendly visitor programsSometimes a senior citizen just needs a ride to the supermarket and a friendly conversation to remind him that he isn’t alone. The Friendly Visitor program is designed with that kind of person in mind–a person who does not have family living close by, but who needs the benefits that come from personal contact. These volunteers are good people who want to help however they can.

â–  Senior centers Sometimes we are quick to overlook Senior Centers as a healthy, vibrant part of the senior community. Not only are senior centers fun places to network and develop a social life, they are also hubs for all kinds of Elder Care information, including these very valuable Volunteer Services and many, many others. Could your loved one use these services? Would meal deliveries and friendly visitors help to minimize his impairments? Would a senior center help him find new avenues for friendship and functionality? If so, then you should probably take a breath and HOLD OFF on the Assisted Living Option. After all, if there is a way for him to maintain his independence, don’t you owe it to him to help him do that?
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