Planning NOW for home care - what you need to know

March 08

Have you ever had a loved one or maybe someone you’re acquainted with receive treatment for their afflicted conditions in the hospital? At some point in our life we’ve been to the hospital for someone we know who is undergoing either a surgery or therapy and managed to make it out of it with just the recovery period to worry about. A lot of the times most of these patients, especially the elderly population prefer to go home as soon as they can to recover there most probably to reduce hospital billing and for the comfort of their homes as well. However, some of these patients require follow-up monitoring and care to ensure a better prognosis which eventually leads to hospitals or even the patient’s family itself to acquire a caregiver if they are still insistent on staying at home. Therefore, it is important to ensure the environment at home is well adapted to ensure the caregiver can perform well as well as prevent any harm or hazards occuring to your recovering loved one. Here are some suggestions of things you can do or at least keep track of while having a caregiver at home monitoring your loved one.

  • Ensure the caregiver or nurse is aware of the patient’s needs
    This isn’t indirectly saying the caregiver or nurse assigned to your loved one is incapable of remembering or performing well. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry and we are all just humans by the end of the day. Go through the needs of your loved one with the caregiver or nurse on occasion if needed and be specific if your loved one needs any specific needs for their recovery e.g. frequent wound dressing changes or medical equipment monitoring. The caregiver or nurse assigned should also be aware of medication prescriptions your loved one is supposed to take and ensure they are administered, taken and stored properly.
  • Make adjustments at home to cater to needs
    This process varies from person to person’s condition but it is important to ensure the house is safe for both the caregiver and your loved one to live in. For example, if let’s say the patient had just undergone a knee joint surgery and is unable to climb the stairs to their room, as a family member you might opt to switch their bedroom from s upstairs to downstairs. Another example would be if your loved one requires special equipment or devices at home to aid them e.g. nebulizer or medical device then it should be prepared at home after consulting their doctor about this. The pantry should also be stocked up with foods suitable for the patient as most of the time patients who are recovering from surgery or therapy usually require a protein rich meal to aid in tissue repair.

Maintaining family communication
It is important that the family of the patient takes part in the recovery process to ensure the patient feels loved and backed up with family support. Even if they are unable to take care of the patient often due to their busy lives, it would also help if they ask the caregiver or nurse about updates regarding the recovery of their loved one. This helps prevent the caregiver or nurse from continuing any activities or deeds that might make the patient uncomfortable or put them at a risk that they do not know about. The caregiver or nurse should also be given an emergency contact number in case anything were to happen to the patient and the family members should be notified immediately.

More about Home Caregiving:

Self-care for Caregivers. Guest blog by care expert, Harry Cline

Caregiving is rewarding but stressful. According to a 2015 study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute, nearly 40 million U.S. adults have provided unpaid care for another adult in the past 12 months.

Because caregiving carries a unique set of challenges that can wreak havoc on your body, spirit, and mental health, treat yourself with kindness when feelings of anger, stress, frustration, and depression threaten to overwhelm you and cause burnout.

Those emotions are normal — and when you’re stressed, it’s important not to self-medicate with addictive substances but rather to take a step back. Breathe. Give yourself permission to step away and take care of yourself.

Signs It’s Time to Take a Break to Prevent Burnout

If you find yourself experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be time to step away for a little while.


  • Exhaustion

  • Forgetfulness

  • Anxiety or depression

  • Stomach issues, headaches, or other physical symptoms of stress

  • Increased illnesses

  • Using substances to self-medicate

Why Self-Care Is Essential

You might be an able-bodied “I’ve got it together” person who’s capable of doing it all. However, that doesn’t mean you should. There’s no shame in asking for help. Otherwise:


  1. You may not be able to care for your loved one. When you neglect your own self-care, your health can diminish, leaving you unable to act as a caregiver.

  2. Your quality of life may decrease and you may lose friends, especially if you’re part of the “sandwich generation,” where you’re raising a family and taking care of an older parent and have little time to spare.

  3. You might not live as long. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people experience caregiver stress and strain are 63 percent more likely to die prematurely than non-caregivers.

Give Yourself Permission to Be Selfish

Has it been so long since you thought about yourself that you’re not sure where to start? Feeling guilty about spending too much time on self-care? These ideas may help.

Take regular breaks. Whether you’re spending the majority of a day caring for someone else or working a full-time job and then assuming caregiving duties in the evening, take breaks throughout the day and evening.

Stay active. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of activity three or more times a week. Hit the gym for a spin class. Schedule an evening “walk date” with your partner, neighbor, or friends. Want something a little more low-key to help you relax? Try yoga or tai chi.

Eat well. It’s so tempting to grab and live on fast food when you’re rushing from one place to the next. But healthy, nutritious food keeps your energy up, boosts your immune system, and helps maintain a healthy weight.

Sleep. Don’t skip sleep -- it’s critical to feeling well physically, mentally, and emotionally. Create a sleep routine that works for you; if you’re feeling cramped on time, claim the hour or 30 minutes before you sleep as yours for a warm bath, a cup of tea, meditation, or a good book.

Stay connected to friends. Laughter’s the best medicine — it’s cliche, but true. And sometimes, it’s all that keeps you from crying. Reach out to your tribe and build your network. Even if it’s a flurry of funny texts or a running conversation on Facebook Messenger, it’s a connection to the outside world that keeps you from feeling isolated.

Take time off. Don’t feel guilty about asking for help. That includes connecting with an agency that provides respite care or coordinating and sharing caregiving duties with other family members, trusted friends, or members of your church community, for example. Time away to do something you love gives you an opportunity to recharge and refresh your whole self.

Need other suggestions? Check out these self-care tips designed to help you avoid caregiver burnout. For additional resources on caregiving, whether you’re preparing to start or have cared for someone for a while, visit this site, which lists organizations with a wealth of information on supporting those who need help while not neglecting your own self-care.

Author

Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

June 08

Fun things caregivers can do with elderly to keep their bodies and minds active

There comes a time in everyone’s lives when they start aging and eventually are forced to retire at a certain age whether by choice or from the lack of characteristics they once had. When the time comes though, most of the elderly population tend to have more free time in their hands to carry out many activities daily. However, even if they have all that free time to spend, they might not possess the physical or mental strength they used to have in their younger years to enjoy such activities anymore (e.g. extreme sports or exercises). In addition to that, as mentioned in previous blog posts, as you age your health may start to decline and many illnesses or conditions may present themselves and affect your body. Most families that face this problem tend to hire a caregiver to take care of their loved one while the family members go out to work or carry out their daily responsibilities. With that being said, some elderly citizens do not have illnesses or conditions that leave them bedridden but are just in need of some company from the caregiver while they continue being independent. Therefore, a certain level of cooperation is required from both the caregiver and the one being cared for to ensure both parties are satisfied and happy with each other in doing what they want. Here are some fun things caregivers can do with the elderly to keep their bodies and minds active while maintaining a healthy relationship with each other.



  • Outdoor activities
    Staying cooped up at home for long periods of time without much to do is not a healthy choice of life and may lead to depression in some severe cases. Whether your loved one is a physically active person or not, it is good to enjoy the great outdoors once in a while and breathe some fresh air for a change. They do not necessarily have to do any heavy duty activities like hiking or cycling but simple activities like taking a walk, doing some tai chi or gardening would be beneficial to the body. Although some people are worried that their elderly loved ones will be more prone to injuries in the outdoors, outdoor activities can actually strengthen the bones and reduce the risk of falling. In addition to that, the caregiver can assist or keep an eye on your loved one to ensure they do not get harmed in any way.





  • Socializing
    As you get older you tend to reminisce on the good times in your life, and more often than not you start to wonder about your friends or relatives that you were once close to, but rarely keep in touch now. Free time from either retirement or recovery periods can be used to re-establish friendships with former acquaintances. Your loved one can be encouraged to get in touch with their old friends and have meetups over tea or meals with the aid of a caregiver. This helps to make them feel less isolated, from being left with a caregiver, as well as to improve their morale and self-esteem.





  • Arts and crafts
    Most of the senior citizens in this era usually come from a generation that have either lived with less technology or have gone went through a period of technological transition over the years. This eventually led them to cultivate hobbies such as gardening, drawing, sewing, knitting and many more. Motivating your loved ones to try arts and crafts will promote creativity and bring back the nostalgia of their childhood days. Even if arts and crafts were not part of their childhood years, it is a good time to start learning or trying new things. This new learning adventure could lead them to make nice presents during the festive seasons, or even better still, to initiate a new business opportunity during their golden years!


  • Games and puzzles

Caregivers can engage senior citizens by challenging them to a few board games or puzzles to keep their minds active. Most board games or puzzles produced by companies are usually user-friendly and have relatively simple rules or game instructions that is not difficult for the elderly to follow. Another plus point would be that most of them are pretty portable to bring around so they can be played anywhere and with anyone.


May 14