HE SAYS:

Do you think that Long Term Care, Recuperative Care or Eldercare issues will never touch you or your family?   They will!   Recent statistics show that you either will become the care giver for a loved one or you will be the recipient of care.   The harsh reality is that 95% of all care givers are children with jobs and lives that become dramatically affected.

Caring for an impaired or elderly person can create physical, financial, environmental, and emotional stress.  Care givers must be aware of the stress caused by these conflicting emotions to guard against becoming physically and emotionally drained.   The following tips help care givers care for themselves so they can better care for their loved ones.

Acknowledge your feelings:   Your feelings have a lot to do with the way you view and cope with care giving.   All feelings are legitimate, including anger, frustration and sadness.   Recognizing and accepting your emotions is the first step toward resolving problems with stress.

Stay healthy:   Your general well being is extremely important.   Remember to eat balanced meals, exercise, get enough sleep, and allow yourself personal time.

Be informed:   Check the Internet for information on care giving.   Some hospitals and adult education programs offer care giving courses.

Join a care giver support group:   Support groups provide care givers with a forum to share their feelings in a supportive environment.   Care givers feel less isolated and can create strong bonds of mutual help and friendship.

Get a life of your own:   Do what you enjoy.  Go to a movie, play a musical instrument, or get together with friends.   It may not be easy to schedule these activities, but the rewards for having balance in your life are worth it.   Meeting your own needs will satisfy you and give you additional strength to bring to your care giving tasks.

Use respite care services:   Consider having your loved one participate in an adult daycare program where he or she can socialize with peers in a supervised setting.   This gives your care receiver a necessary break from staying home all the time.

Ask for help:   Turn to your family, friends, and neighbors for help.   Make a list of things – such as time, skills, space, and money – that family, friends, and the care receiver can contribute.   Sit down with these people and work out a plan, deciding what tasks will be performed, by whom, on which days.   Also, consider a swap with a friend who has similar care giving responsibilities.   He or she may care for both impaired individuals one day a week in exchange for you providing care on another day.

Remember that if you are a care giver to also take care of yourself.

On Monday, Joe laments what he sees as the waning greatness of our country in “What Country Do You Want To Live In?”.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

HE SAYS:

There are five important steps you can take if you are the care giver for a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease.   Each person with Alzheimer’s Disease experiences its symptoms in their own unique way; therefore, your techniques as the care giver also need to vary based on the circumstances.

Assess independence:   In the early stages of the disease, your loved one may still be able to independently perform many of their daily tasks; however, as the disease progresses, the ability to perform these tasks will become more difficult.   Your loved one will have feelings of frustration, agitation and even aggression as they lose the ability to perform once routine tasks such as eating, bathing, grooming, and dressing.    You can help by involving your loved one in these tasks as much as possible; by reassessing the level of assistance that is required each day; and by striving for a balance between periods of rest and activity so as to not over tax your loved one.

Create a safe environment:   Alzheimer’s Disease impairs judgment and problem-solving skills.   You should modify the home environment to help your loved one maneuver within the home as easily and safely as possible.   Remove throw rugs, extension cords and any clutter that can cause your loved one to trip and fall.   Remove electrical appliances from the bathroom and set the temperature on the water heater no higher than 120° F.   Make sure that all outside doors and entrances to stairways are locked and secure.

Adjust your expectations:   It is important to have realistic expectations of your loved one’s abilities and behavior.  Allow more time to accomplish everyday care giving tasks.   Simplify the tasks and provide instructions one step at a time.   Try not to worry about the way things should be done.   If no danger results from your loved one’s actions, refrain from correcting them.   Try to stay flexible.   If your loved one refuses to do something, back off and try again later using a different approach.   You can be more adaptable than someone with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Limit distractions:    Along with a sense of routine, a serene environment can reduce some behavior problems.   Noise, large groups of people, changes in surroundings or pressure to perform tasks can cause anxiety and further compromise your loved one’s ability to think clearly. You can help by shutting off the television and limiting background noise, by encouraging visitors to call before they visit, and by limiting the number of people at gatherings so that your loved one does not feel overwhelmed.

Promote communication:    Your loved one’s ability to use language to communicate decreases as the disease progresses.   Behavior often becomes the method by which people with Alzheimer’s Disease communicate their feelings and needs.  Being unable to communicate can be frustrating for your loved one and can lead to agitation and aggression.   You can help by being patient when your loved one acts out and try to understand what your loved one may be feeling.

On Wednesday, Joe suggests some ideas for the wellbeing of those providing care for a loved one in “Care For The Care Giver”.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?