How To Deal With An Exceptionally Difficult Parent

…a 2 minute read

difficult parent

Before we start let me make this point first…

EMPATHY (…the rare ability some humans possess to walk in someone else’s shoes) will always, always be your most effective weapon against the negativity, toxicity, anger, and personal attacks that may come your way from an elderly parent or a loved one you’re caring for.

[Read more…]

How To Easily Upgrade Your Home and Make it Safer as You Age

a one minute read

home

Let me start by saying you don’t need to hire a contractor to remodel your home in order to make it senior friendly and safe.

Making your home a safer environment for a aging parent, or even for yourself is just smart thinking, and to do it the way I’m going to show it’s smart execution.

I’m going to share a few tips that fall into the DIY category, meaning you can take care of most of these yourself in a couple of weekends, and with a month’s worth of Starbucks budget :-)

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How To Pay For The Cost of Senior Care At Home With Your Life Insurance Policy

…a one min read and a 2:42 min video

senior care

You read correctly!

You can turn your existing Life Insurance policy into a dedicated Long Term Care Benefit account to help you fund your senior care or that of a parent or loved one, it will pay for Home care, Assisted Living, Nursing Home and Hospice Care.

In less than 5 minutes from now you’ll know how to do this!

[Read more…]

Elder Care “Family Planning” and Those Difficult Conversations

…a 2 minute read

elder care

Most people think of “family planning” as a road map to parenthood but it’s also an important aspect of elder care and senior living. Planning ahead for where and how your parents will live as they lose independence is an important part of elder care family planning. It takes a village to raise a child; it also takes a village to care for our parents in their elder years. This month, we’ll focus on elder care and best practices designed for optimal quality of life for seniors.

[Read more…]

Florida Families Find Hope In The “RAISE” Family Caregivers Act

…a 1 minute read.

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RAISE Family Caregivers Act – Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage.

Over 37 billion hours of care to loved ones were provided in 2013 by family caregivers… an estimated value of $470 billion.

Here’s the thing, of those 37 billion hours of care, almost 100% were provided out of love, necessity and obligation, but none of them had any productivity value, on the contrary. All those hours were taken away from someone else’s job, time with family, and lifestyle in general.

[Read more…]

CAREGIVING STATS AND FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOUR PARENTS ARE OVER 75 YEARS OLD

a 1 minute 45 sec read…

caregiving

Let’s start with this quick fact, which I find critical in understanding a future that may very well resemble yours.

“When asked if they had a choice in taking on the responsibility to provide care for their loved one, half of caregivers self-reported they had NO choice in taking care of their caregiving responsibilities.”

But what’s this got to do with you [Read more…]

WHAT IS AN ADULT DAY CARE AND WHY IT MAY BE A SOLUTION FOR YOU AND YOUR ELDERLY PARENT

adult day care

No doubt care at home is many times the better option … says the home care expert writing this piece :-) 

..but seriously, sometimes circumstances will play a bigger part that we anticipated and we have to adapt. The best solutions always fit human needs in play.

[Read more…]

Noise Pollution: A Health Hazard in Elder Care

noise pollution

Be aware of noise pollution when caring for the elderly.

In my last post, I wrote about music as a beneficial form of therapy for the elderly who suffer from memory disorders, which begs the question: what about the sounds of everyday life?

The Environmental Protection Agency explains the consequences of unwanted and disturbing sound, which is the basic definition of noise pollution — an environmental stressor we cannot taste, smell or see: “Sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleeping, conversation, or disrupts or diminishes one’s quality of life.”

Noise pollution can lead to health problems, too. “Studies have shown that there are direct links between noise and health.  Problems related to noise include stress related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption, and lost productivity.”

Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are particularly sensitive to stimuli that a healthy person can normally filter. In creating a safe and comfortable environment for my parents, I found myself thinking like a parent creating a healthy environment for her children: routines, which are so important for kids to feel stable, are just as important for the elderly. A typical day for my parents revolved around “quiet” time and “noisy” time.

As caregivers, we shouldn’t take any of the five senses for granted when developing strategies for care — including hearing. Patients will react differently to auditory input and so we should be keenly aware of sound “hazards” in the patient’s surroundings.

NOISE POLLUTION AS ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS

When I was caring for my mother, I noticed that some ordinary sounds – such as a loud TV — were particularly disturbing for her. She would grimace and want to retreat to what I can only describe as her “safe space” where she detached from the world.

To help her, I avoided over-stimulation without completely dulling surrounding noises. Agitation and discomfort might otherwise have affected her cardiovascular health and emotional well-being.

I knew my mother well and so I could gauge what I thought she would like or wouldn’t like based on how she reacted to the world before Alzheimer’s disease. Neurologists had no answer for me, but all I really needed to know was old-fashioned common sense. In short, just keep the patient comfortable.

Sound is energy and vibration. While an Alzheimer’s patient may not be able to cognitively understand a sound — a spoken word may be interpreted as just that, a sound with no meaning — they may certainly be able to “feel” it, which explains the positive effects of music.

CONVERSATION AS NOISE POLLUTION

Noise pollution isn’t just about unwanted sounds; it’s also about conversation. I would always ask our health aides to refrain from any conversation when standing within earshot of my father, who was then in the beginning stages of dementia and my mother, who had advanced Alzheimer’s.

Imagine being surrounded by negative conservation or even a pleasant chat that your brain can’t process for context. Eventually, the meaningless “sound” may become jarring. You’re powerless to make it go away if you’re “stuck” in your body.

In one instance, my father overheard one side of a stressful conversation an aide was having over her cellphone about money. Because he was confused at that moment, he couldn’t properly interpret what he had heard. Later, he spoke to me as if he had been involved in her dilemma, which was a needless source of stress and anxiety for him and for me as well, as I had to go to great lengths to clarify that no one was stealing his money. (This is a major stressor for the elderly who perceive they are “losing” their possessions as they gradually let go of what they once managed.)

It’s crucial, then, to watch one’s words when speaking in front of dementia patients who are still aware of surroundings.

In my mother’s case, it was impossible to tell in the advanced stages of the disease if and how her brain could interpret sound. I erred on the side of caution: even in a state of stupor in which she was completely unresponsive, I encouraged everyone who came near her to keep unpleasant sounds and conversations at bay.

While it may seem obvious that no patient or even a healthy individual would want to tolerate noise pollution, consider this: the elderly in many nursing homes who do not enjoy private rooms must endure an almost constant stream of distracting and unpleasant noises that interfere with peace and quiet: working staff, sick roommates and their visitors, loud television sets, beeping medical equipment and other sounds create a cacophony of noise.

This situation is yet another reason to consider in-home healthcare alternatives for the elderly where caregivers can control the environment.

Some Alzheimer’s and dementia patients tend to yell or wail loudly when they feel nervous, which is a whole other aspect of elder care. My parents were relatively quiet but in all cases, it’s imperative to be conscious of noise levels. (Read what worked or didn’t work for some caregivers at Caring.com’s support group.)

In my experience, I simply tried to imagine how I would feel if I were sick and bewildered, not just for the sake of empathy, but also to gauge what would be an appropriate level of noise for my parents.

If you found this post of interest and value, kindly click your favorite social button below and share.

maria de los angelesMaria de los Angeles is an award-winning writer based in Miami who became a caregiver to her parents in 2008. Since then, she has been a passionate advocate for eldercare and caregiver issues.

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ATTENTION! Free Report Reveals Secret Formula For Getting Elder Care at Home …without going broke in the process!

We find ways to help families get the personal care services at home they need and deserve regardless of the insurance landscape or personal situation!

Call us With Your Questions or Concerns and Get Rid of All That Doubt and Uncertainty! 

CALL:   305-220-4544   [Miami Dade Area]

1-877-746-8908   [For Out of Area Families]

Support Groups Help Deal with Caregiver Burnout

caregiver

Support groups are invaluable for caregivers who feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities. Make them a priority in routine caregiver self-care.

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ATTENTION! Free Report Reveals Secret Formula For Getting Elder Care at Home …without going broke in the process!

The number one rule of caregiving is take care of yourself first. This rule is easy to overlook when we’re caught up in the daily routine of caregiving. The elderly, like children, often require constant attention and at the end of the day, it’s easy to overlook one’s own needs.

As a caregiver to my dearly departed mother and my father, who is still alive, I learned the hard way about the rule, which I would prefer to a call a survival strategy. The drive to care for a loved one eclipses the instinct for self-preservation in a counterproductive, vicious cycle: you can’t take good care of others if your own health isn’t optimal.

(For the purpose of this article, caregiver will refer to “family” or “informal” caregiver — one who provides unpaid assistance in daily living and medical needs — as opposed to “formal” caregiver — one who provides paid labor and who is available for hire through companies like Angel Home Care Services.)

While I don’t regret a minute spent caring for my parents, I can look back now and share what I would have done differently to alleviate caregiver burnout.

LESSONS LEARNED

For one, I would have benefited from being part of a support group; however, it never even dawned on me that one would be available to the estimated 43.5 million number of adult family caregivers who care for someone 50 years of age or older. (Source: Alzheimer’s Association via Caregiver.org). I was too busy to even think about adding another task to my plate. The last thing I wanted to do during my time off from caregiving was to talk about caregiving.

But I think it’s really important to talk as much as you can with people who are also experiencing the challenges of being a caregiver, which in my case, was being a single mom to my parents — a mother with Alzheimer’s, a father with dementia.

I was not alone! According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 14.9 family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. (Source: Alzheimer’s Association via Caregiver.org).

Because we couldn’t always afford a sitter, the number of event invitations I declined kept climbing, which left me disconnected from my social network. My friends were sympathetic, but I couldn’t blame them if they got tired of hearing the same old story; I was the only one in my circle of friends caring for elderly parents. Their lives were flowing. Mine was at a standstill.

Even if I had hired services from companies such as Angel Home Care Services, I still would have found solace in making new friends facing similar challenges in their social and professional lives. My sense of isolation and loneliness would have been mitigated had I reached out to support groups.

NEVER TOO LATE TO SEEK CAREGIVER SUPPORT

Luckily, earlier this year, I found a local Miami bereavement support group through Jewish Community Services, which provides numerous services to the community at large, regardless of religious affiliation. Although I attend this group to honor the memory of my mother, it has helped me tremendously in what I call the “pre-grieving” stage for my father. Having experienced the death of a beloved parent is one thing; knowing that the death of the other parent is imminent is wholly another.

I know now that it would have made a world of difference to make “me time” and gather with other caregivers.

At the group, there is no judgment. Some members are still grieving family or friends who passed years ago. For others, the pain is fresh. Some have lost children, while others have lost spouses. Like me, many have been caregivers. Two facilitators lead the group, but we are all co-creators in the talk.

I’m glad that I found this group, which meets twice a month. Although I can’t turn back the clock for how I dealt with the stresses of caregiving while my mother was still alive, it’s helping me tremendously now that I still advocate for my father. It’s time well spent and a respite I look forward to every month.

It’s not too late for me to reap the benefits of a support group. The sense of friendship in the group and the patience with which we all listen to each other brings me peace and comfort. I feel relaxed — the perfect antidote from burnout.

If you’re caregiving for a parent, I strongly encourage you to seek out a support group in your area. If you’re not able to attend one in person, there are online resources. I’ll share more about available resources in a follow-up post.

In the meantime, don’t forget to take of yourself.

maria de los angelesMaria de los Angeles is an award-winning writer based in Miami who became a caregiver to her parents in 2008. Since then, she has been a passionate advocate for eldercare and caregiver issues.

We find ways to help families get the personal care services at home they need and deserve regardless of the insurance landscape or personal situation!

Call us With Your Questions or Concerns and Get Rid of All That Doubt and Uncertainty! 

CALL:   305-220-4544   [Miami Dade Area]

1-877-746-8908   [For Out of Area Families]

The Supply and Demand of Caring and How The Best Caregivers Get Better

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“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”
― George Bernard Shaw

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ATTENTION! Free Report Reveals Secret Formula For Getting Elder Care at Home …without going broke in the process!

Caregivers get pulled, stretched, pushed, shoved, knocked and grilled by so many elements of their daily grind.

It never ceases to amaze and delight me when I meet or talk to a caregiver whose attitude is pure hope, optimism and grit.

Such is the case with Mr. Smith, whose wife has a chronic condition that has her confined to a bed indefinitely.

Lately we’ve been struggling with getting him a much needed item on time and ample supply.

Not our fault, but it doesn’t matter! As an Agency we are responsible for solving problems.

Mr. Smith calls our office quite often in regards to this item. He’s very concerned, but courteous and understanding of the realities of a healthcare system that’s not perfect but it’s what we have.

We are in short supply of this item, he knows it, I can feel the frustration in his voice. He is torn by what he feels and what he won’t say. I know that and it frustrates me, we have to fix this now!

Our medical supplies company has let us down time and time again, why are we still with them?

It’s Friday 5:30pm, the Mr. Smith is out of supplies and my supplier is not picking up the phone. I’ve had enough!

I call the local retail supplier for that specific item, they have 4 of them left, I buy them at three and a half times my normal cost, but I don’t care at this point. I’m obsessed with not putting us and Mr. Smith/caregiver in this position again!

I bought enough to last me the weekend. First thing Monday I fired our existing supplier and called a well know local wholesaler … it’s a long shot, these guys sell by the pallet, large shipments overseas and only to large domestic suppliers. We are a small family-ran home care agency with a problem they couldn’t possibly relate to or care about!

But I asked anyway, it so happens they are starting a division in their company to service smaller providers in our local area, they literally started this last week. I was their first client!

My item was so unique they didn’t have it in stock, but the HERO I was dealing with went out of his way to set me up, he already knew my story and totally identified with it. I was blown away!

I ordered a total of 8 boxes, at better pricing than my original supplier. I’m also making a list of other supplies we will order from this company from now on. That’s how you build loyalty, you help people solve problems.

I personally delivered the units to Mr. Smith, I could see the relief in his face and felt the gratitude in his handshake.

But Mr. Smith also taught me a lesson that I think all caregivers should take notice of.

Here are a few caregiving tips that will make you THRIVE instead of just cope:

  1. Work to find solutions to your problems, not problems in the solutions.Mr. Smith patiently worked through this particular issue with us and together we got it done.
  2. Build a human relationship with your provider and learn to leverage the professional help around you. Mr. Smith is always courteous and respectful of the nurses and case managers he came in contact with, and they learned to appreciate him as much as he appreciates them. In the process he learned how things work.
  3. Never despair. Even though there were times when we were all frustrated, neither Mr. Smith nor We gave up.
  4. Keep a positive attitude. As I said at the start, Mr. Smith attitude dictates his outcome and process, as with all things in life. I think he understands there are few things you control, but one’s attitude is definitely one you can.

No one takes a journey alone. Let’s learn from each other!

By the way the Hero who saved the day is Luis Arias from Surgimed – Located at 1303 NW 78 Ave, Doral FL 33126 | 305.594.1121. If you are a provider and need a reliable medical supplies company, get in touch with Luis.

Further reading:

Thank you so much for reading! If you enjoyed it, please scroll down and click the Recommend button and Share on your favorite Social Network. It would mean a lot to me :-)

Keep Caring-

Claudio

320x320_crop_claudiopicClaudio Alegre is the Chief Content Writer for Angel Home Care Services on the Web and Patient and Family Relations Advocate off the Web. He lives in Miami with his wife and 3 boys.

 

We find ways to help families get the personal care services at home they need and deserve regardless of the insurance landscape or personal situation!

Call us With Your Questions or Concerns and Get Rid of All That Doubt and Uncertainty! 

CALL:   305-220-4544   [Miami Dade Area]

1-877-746-8908   [For Out of Area Families]

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