Caregiver Assistance: Addressing Caregiver Stress

Caring for an aging family member is a labor of love. But study after study also shows the emotional, physical, and even financial stress that the caregiver incurs as a result.

Research conducted by MetLife revealed that approximately 10 million adult children over the age of 50 (that’s roughly a quarter of all Baby Boomers!) have taken on the role of caregiver for their aging parents, helping with a variety of tasks–everything from running errands and cooking to bathing and using the toilet. It’s a lot to take on, especially for caregivers who may also be juggling a career and their own children, which is likely why caregivers over age 50 who work and provide care to a parent are more likely to have fair or poor health as compared to peers who do not provide elder care.

A few other noteworthy stats from the study:

  • Adult daughters are more likely to provide help with daily care, and sons are more likely to provide monetary assistance.
  • The total estimated aggregate lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits of these adult-child caregivers is nearly $3 trillion.
    • For women, the total individual amount of lost income (wages, Social Security benefits, pension) due to leaving the labor force early and/or reducing hours of work because of caregiving responsibilities averages $324,044. For men, it averages $283,716.*

Yet despite all of these physical and financial drawbacks, the adult-child-as-caregiver trend continues to grow rapidly in the United States. The MetLife study showed that the number of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to an aging parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years.

Caring for the caregiver

It seems that caring for an aging parent is here to stay. So what can caregivers do to help alleviate some of the stress associated with the gig? Click the link above to learn more. 


What to Look for in Memory Care Communities

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or is faced with another serious memory loss condition, there is a good chance they will require professional memory care services at some point. Finding a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or “life plan” community) with memory care will make life for the patient, loved ones, and caregivers more comfortable and enjoyable.

Click above to learn what to look for in a memory care community.



How to Love Your Loved One When They Have a Life Limiting Illness

By: Peg Carmany

When someone you love is diagnosed with a life limiting illness, it may be a time when the kaleidoscope of your life suddenly snaps into focus. Or it may be a time when the laser focus of your life becomes scattered. And very likely, there will be some of both. Of the research I have done, and the practical tips I can share from my own experience, these are my favorite pieces of advice:

1. Remember there is no right answer on how you’re supposed to act, and you should not assume that you are supposed to know exactly what to do and exactly how to act. It’s OK to fall apart, but one word of caution about that: try not to let the person who is ill be your primary source of comfort when you do hit a wall.
2. When trying to follow Tip 1, remember that your established role with this loved one doesn’t necessarily switch at the moment of diagnosis. Perhaps only one of you has ever been good under stress? It’s okay to keep it that way. Both of you may take great comfort in continuing on with familiar patterns.
3. Make it a priority to show your love as your loved one is facing what may be overwhelming and scary. It’s not all roses and chocolates – be authentic, be honest, and be yourself. Express gratitude to them for how they have positively impacted your life – and share happy memories – and don’t be afraid to say goodbye, tenderly.
4. Respect their authority to make their own decisions, whether you like it or not. These are their choices, not yours.
5. Keep things as normal as possible. Continue watching your favorite tv shows together or listening to their favorite music, it can be a very meaningful thing.
6. Laugh when you can, and don’t be afraid to poke a little fun at the whole situation. A sense of humor will lighten any mood!
7. And perhaps most importantly: listen, and give advice only when asked. This one can be the most challenging. Often, we are great talkers, but not the best listeners.

Remember, your loved one needs your emotional support. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often family and friends who live near by are more than willing to help with errands. And, if you need further support, Wesley Hospice can visit your home, the community you live in, and even hospitals.

We send our deepest condolences to the families who are faced with a loved one being diagnosed with a life limiting illness. And, we hope that with these tips you’ll be able to better love your loved one during this time.


How to Deal with Your Parent’s Memory Loss

When a family members memory fades, it can be very difficult for you to cope. But, with these tips, you may find peace with your parent’s condition. They may help to keep the bond that you are longing for.

Don’t expect them to fulfill promises.

If you tell them to do something, or better yet, not to do something, they may not remember this information. Be sure to lower your expectations of what they are capable of, now that they have been diagnosed with this disease.

Don’t argue with them.

No matter how logical your argument, they may not understand. For example, if you are at the park and they insist that they want to go to the park, try taking them to a park down the road instead of arguing that you are already there.

Remember, it’s the disease.

Patience is key. Keep in mind that it is something your loved one doesn’t have control over. Remembering this will make it easier to face some of the challenges that may present themselves.

Talk to their doctor about their condition.

In order to give them the best care, talk to their doctor. It may be safer for your loved one to live in a memory care unit. Where they are secure. Depending on the type, and severity of the memory loss there may be medical interventions that can be used too.

Take care of yourself.

Taking care of yourself is so important when dealing with any stressful situation, especially when it pertains to a loved one. Take a hot bath or read a book to unwind. It may help you to get your mind off everything for a bit.

Memory loss can be hard for everyone involved. What tips do you have for families struggling with memory loss?


From Chronic to Deadly: Prescription Pain Meds

A couple of weeks ago I watched a documentary produced by the FBI about the heroin epidemic in this country, in our city, entitled “Chasing the Dragon.”   It is an epidemic, and it is heightened by the ongoing use of prescription opiates. Many of the prescriptions were prescribed by doctors for pain management following an accident or surgery or diagnosis of chronic pain.

According to AARP, some seventeen percent of adults age 60 and older struggle with alcohol or drug addiction. In reports following the death of music icon Prince, prescription opiates were identified as the alleged cause. My sister, who is in her early 50’s, was prescribed Vicodin and Oxycodone for what was described as chronic pain. She now cannot live without these drugs. Until I watched the above documentary I was not educated about the growing problem.  I wonder what situations other individuals may be experiencing, for example, surgeries and old sports injuries, and what has been prescribed by their doctors.  What should we be looking for in their behaviors?

If you suspect someone you love is overusing medications, you will want to take some action. First and foremost, be on the alert. What health conditions are they being treated for? Are they still taking heavy meds months after a surgery? Look at the labels on the prescription bottles. Who is prescribing them? What is the dosage, refill amount, etc?

Behavior. Is your loved one’s behavior erratic? Are they more depressed, anxious, angry, secretive or just want to be left alone? Do they fall asleep during a visit or conversation? Do they take more than the prescribed amount? Watch them and write down any odd or out of sync moments.

For older adults, especially if they live alone, it is important to monitor intake of prescription meds. When my mother went from one prescription to seven following her heart attack, we purchased a seven-day pillbox and broke out the distribution per day to help her keep track of what meds she was taking and what day. We made sure we were comfortable with her taking the meds, and also accompanied her to several doctors’ visits to discuss her meds and long-term plans for taking.

Of course, I could not talk about monitoring without addressing some form of recordkeeping. I have kept a record of all medications prescribed to me over the years for various ailments, from dental procedures to back pain caused by a car accident. List all of your medications, dosages, and why they were prescribed for you. Also include any over-the-counter medications you take. Be sure to share with your doctor.

Prescription opioids are powerful, and can be harmful with long-term use. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor and ask about alternative ways to address chronic pain and/or new methods for pain management. Be most aware of the synthetic opioids that are coming into the market. If it involves someone close to you, look for warning signs. Either way, it is important to find or get help.

To watch “Chasing the Dragon” go to www.fbi.gov/chasingthedragon


Common Types of Memory Lapses

It’s normal to forget things from time to time, and it’s normal to become somewhat forgetful as we age.  But how much forgetfulness is too much?  How can you tell if your memory lapses are part of the aging process, or if they are a symptom of something more serious?

We’ve all misplaced keys, blanked on an acquaintance’s name, or forgotten a phone number. When we’re young, we do not pay attention to these lapses, but as we age, sometimes we worry about what they mean.  While it’s true that certain brain changes are inevitable when it comes to aging, major memory problems are not one of them.  That’s why it’s important to know the differences between normal age-related forgetfulness and the symptoms that may indicate a developing cognitive problem.

People with some forgetfulness can use a variety of techniques that may help them stay healthy and maintain their memory and mental skills.  Here are some tips:

  • Plan tasks, make “to do” lists, and use memory aids, like notes and calendars. Some people find they remember things better if they mentally connect them to other meaningful things, such as a familiar name, song, book or TV show.
  • Develop interests or hobbies and stay involved in activities that can help the mind and body.
  • Engage in physical activity and exercise. Several studies have associated exercise (such as walking) with better brain function, although more research is needed to say for sure whether exercise can help to maintain brain function or prevent or delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
  • Limit alcohol use. Although some studies suggest that moderate alcohol use has health benefits, heavy or binge drinking over time can cause memory loss and permanent brain damage.
  • Find activities, such as exercise or a hobby, to relieve feelings of stress, anxiety or depression. If these feelings last for a long time, talk with your doctor.

If you’re concerned that you or someone you know has a serious memory problem, talk with your doctor.  He or she may be able to diagnose the problem or refer you to a specialist, such as a neurologist or geriatric psychiatrist.  When it comes to memory, it’s “use it or lose it.”  Just as physical exercise can make and keep your body stronger, mental exercise can make your brain work better and lower risks of mental decline.


Fresh Options that Hydrate

Summer has officially arrived, and boy, has it been hot! I sat out by my pool in my condominium complex this weekend and simply could not digest enough liquids. With the heat and humidity, it is very important to get in those recommended eight glasses of water a day. This is especially true during this time of year when we tend to be out and about more, attending events, like art festivals, farmer’s markets or just going for a walk in our local metro park.

One thing people tend to forget is the amount of heat contained in cement. Sidewalks, paths and roadways become heat conductors, radiating heat upwards and through the soles of our shoes. If you ever wondered why you feel especially drained or thirsty after walking around a festival or on a 5K, that would be the reason.

I am a water lover. I drink it all day long. I actually pour a 32 oz. cup in the morning and drink it while I am getting ready for work, summer or winter. My mother, on the other hand, prefers to pour her eight 8 oz. glasses of water throughout the day. She wills herself to drink one roughly every hour until she is done. And she drinks them straight down. “I don’t like drinking water,” she said.

If you are like her, you may want to seek out alternatives from drinking water to eating it instead. Yes, you heard me. You can eat water. There are loads of fresh fruits and veggies readily available during the summer and they are packed with nutrients and….water. Double whammy!

Here is a list of the top choices and their water equivalents:

  • Watermelon – ah, one of my favorites. One tasty wedge serves up 10 ounces of water. Yes, please!
  • Like peaches? And yes, I am talking about a fresh peach. These little gems have 5 ounces. Let the juice flow.
  • Just one cup of these sliced little red berries also serves up 5 ounces of hydration.
  • How about those vegetables? Cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and corn on the cob—so good for you and best picked fresh—have four and three ounces, respectively. Water done right the easy and healthy way. Sign me up!

Speaking of corn on the cob, don’t shuck and run. Keeping corn in their little husks also keep the nutrients IN. Think about that the next time you are grilling, steaming or microwaving. Do it after.

Hmmm….now, what’s for dinner?


Home Remedies to Try

As the popularity rises for home remedies, it’s becoming more evident that your local drug store isn’t the only place providing comfort and relief for the common illness. Take a look in your cupboard, even your garden, to create a one-of-a-kind remedy.

I’ve always been one to create cool beauty remedies for my face, but recently I have discovered there are numerous at-home items I can use to cure things such as a common cold, body aches, and even stain removal. Before heading out to grab medicine or a body rub, try out some of these at-home remedies. Below I have listed a few ideas to try:

Sore Feet Soother: Get your green intake up while soothing your sore feet. Steam asparagus and it will act as a natural diuretic, helping to flush excess fluid out of your system, thereby reducing inflammation. Epsom salt in warm water is also amazing for your feet and whole body aches. Fill your bathtub with warm water and add ½ cup of Epsom salt. Light a candle, play relaxing music and soak for about 20 minutes.

Bug Removal: Summertime is approaching rapidly and so will gnats and fruit flies. Try filling a mason jar or a recycled jelly jar with apple cider vinegar, covering the top with its original lid and poking tiny holes with a toothpick.  (Alternate Lid: try saran wrap sealed off with a rubber band). As the days go by check the jar to see how many gnats you have collected.

Stain Removal: Baby Powder works wonders on stains like curry or oil spills. Sprinkle a sufficient amount of the powder onto the stain (preferably immediately) and wait for the powder to soak up the oil. Once the stain reaches the surface of the fabric, it’s much easier to remove.

Lemon is also a great stain remover for stains on white items. Simply squeeze lemon juice on the stain and place item out in direct sun light. Let sit for about 30 minutes and wash as usual.

Sore Throat: Got a scratchy throat from the weather change or allergies? You may be able to skip the antibiotics. Honey mixed in tea or simply taken straight up has long been a home remedy for a sore throat.   In a study done on 139 children, it was proven more effective then the common cough suppressants. Warm salt water has always been a family go to. Gargle at least once each hour with 1 tsp. (5 g) of salt dissolved in 8 fl oz. (240 mL) of warm water.

Allergies: Spice cabinet friendly. Turmeric contains curcumin that acts as a decongestant and hence helps reduce allergy symptoms. Also, turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance. Try adding turmeric into your liquids, including tea, water, and juice. Want a little stronger remedy? Try six tablespoons of turmeric mixed with raw honey.

Skin Rash: Itchy skin getting out of control? Reach in your cupboard and pull out the extra virgin olive oil ( great for moisturizer during those skin drying months also). Rub the olive oil and honey on your rash a few times a day until the rash is gone completely. Also try castor oil or coconut oil.

The above remedies can be created from items pulled from your home. If your symptoms are not lifting, I suggest reaching out to your doctor or pharmacist.


Keep Your Brain Healthy

Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented? Researchers across the world are racing towards a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But as prevalence rates climb, the focus has broadened from treatment to prevention strategies. What they’ve discovered is that it may be possible to prevent or delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias through a combination of healthy habits. Most causes of dementia are not preventable. However, many drug companies, foundations, and non-profit organizations are all actively researching ways to slow, delay, and prevent dementia. Many are particularly focused on Alzheimer’s disease.

Vascular dementia is caused by a series of small strokes. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of stroke. If you smoke, quit. If you have high blood pressure and/or diabetes, talk with your doctor about getting those under control. Many studies strongly suggest that a low-fat diet and regular exercise may also reduce the risk of vascular dementia.

Some conditions mimic dementia or have dementia-like systems. Those include changes in blood sugar, sodium and calcium, as well as low vitamin B-12 levels. If caught early, these may be treatable. If you have symptoms, don’t delay seeing your doctor.

Diet
Evidence suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet may decrease your risk of developing AD. A Mediterranean diet consists of little red meat and large amounts of the following:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Nuts, olive oil, and other healthy fats

Social Engagement
Research suggests that seniors who spend most of their time in their home environment are almost twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as those who travel out of town. It is unclear whether better health results in more travel or more travel results in better health.

Raise Your C Level
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, essential for healthy skin and blood vessel functioning, but some studies suggest it may also protect against dementia-related brain plaque. Oranges, limes and lemons are a convenient source of ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C), as are sweet peppers, strawberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, broccoli and leafy greens.

Get Full of Beans
Beans and green peas provide a rich source of B-complex vitamins, which may play a role in protecting against brain shrinkage, as well as in maintaining blood sugar levels and a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B-1 (thiamine and folic acid) is also found in enriched grain products and cereals.

Get Some Sun
New research suggests that adults with low levels of vitamin D may have a higher risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s or other cognitive problems. Exposing your sunscreen-free face, back, arms or legs to no more than 10-15 minutes of sunshine a few times a week could boost D levels.

Get Plenty of Omega-3 Fats
Evidence suggests that the DHA found in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques. Food sources include cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and sardines. You can also supplement with fish oil.

Learn Something New
Study a foreign language, learn sign language, practice a musical instrument, read the newspaper or a good book, or take up a new hobby. The greater the novelty and challenge, the larger the deposit in your brain reserves.

Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule
Going to bed and getting up at the same time reinforces your natural circadian rhythms, your brain’s clock response to regularity.

There’s less of a separation between brain and body than you might think. As mentioned above, what’s good for the body — like sleep, exercise, and nutritious food — is also good for the brain. And that also means that the converse is true: things that are bad for the body are also damaging to the brain. You owe it to yourself to work with your body to keep your brain healthy.


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Testimonials & Review

My Husband and I had a great expierence when taking our tour with Fanny. She was a pure delight and she made us feel very confortable with her and the facility. She was very informative and answered all of our questions for us. I really enjoyed speaking with her and enjoyed her great personality during our tour.

- Nancy Gallop