Identifying and Coping with the Challenges of Long-Distance Caregiving

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Home Instead

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Posted on

Aug 02, 2023

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Florida - Southwest

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Each year, millions of Americans selflessly donate their time and talents to care for aging-in-place friends and relatives. And although serving as a family caregiver is highly gratifying, these compassionate individuals must overcome daily stressors as they battle physical, mental, and emotional fatigue. To make matters worse, caregiving challenges become even more complex when trying to perform your duties from a distance. If that describes you, here’s how to ensure your loved one gets the long-distance nurturing they deserve.

Long-Distance Caregivers Face These Hurdles

A long-distance caregiver is defined as someone who lives more than an hour away from the care recipient. If your loved one’s home is in Naples but you live in Port Charlotte, you may qualify as a long-distance caregiver.

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, approximately 15% of all informal caregivers are of the long-distance variety. Since the average long-distance caregiver is asked to juggle a career and household along with their caregiving duties, feelings like guilt, worry, frustration, and resentment are common.

Here are some additional facts about long-distance caregivers:

  • One in four is the sole or primary care provider.
  • They travel an average distance of 451 miles to provide care.
  • They spend an average of $392 a month on out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Over half still visit the care recipient at least once a month.

How to Care for Loved Ones from a Distance

No matter where you live, using these caregiving tips will help ensure that your loved one can age in place safely and comfortably with dignity and respect:

Communicate openly and often

Using an online chat service, schedule monthly or quarterly meetings with fellow care team members, during which everyone can share their feelings, observations, and goals. In addition to keeping your siblings updated, stay in touch with your care recipient so you can assess their changing needs and provide the level of care that’s needed.

Make a list of contacts and resources

Being overly prepared as a caregiver can hold the key to an aging loved one’s overall health and well-being. Create a list of nearby friends and neighbors who can be contacted in an emergency, along with your senior’s primary physicians. Also, organize vital information like medication lists, financial records, medical records, and legal documents so that they will be easily accessible in the event of a crisis.

Maximize your time together

Seeing your loved one in person can reveal so much about their daily needs and if they are being met. While there, take note of factors like whether they can keep up their appearance, hygiene, and household.

Check to see if the fridge and pantry are well stocked with healthy foods, if bills are getting paid and finances managed, and if they are still able to get out of the house for social activities. It’s also important to plan out your visits in advance so that you can take full advantage of your time together.

Hire a professional

One of the key aspects of serving as a family caregiver is recognizing your limitations and the fact you can’t always provide the level of care that’s needed. In situations when you are the only care provider or your loved one’s health takes a turn for the worse, it may become necessary to seek outside assistance from trained healthcare professionals.

Online resources like the Area Agency on Aging or the Eldercare Locator can be invaluable when you find yourself in a pinch. For example, you can use those online resources to hire a professional in-home caregiver from a reputable provider in your loved one’s area.

Finding the Best Home Care Provider in Naples

With all the home care providers out there, narrowing down your search isn’t easy. Using these tips will help you make a better-informed decision when your loved one’s quality of life weighs in the balance:

Ask for referrals

Sometimes, knowing where to find home care providers is half the battle. Ask your friends, coworkers, neighbors, and relatives for referrals if you’ve never hired an agency before. If you live far away from your aging loved one, a quick Google search can pull up the names of home care companies in their community.

Read client testimonials

In addition to recommendations from trusted sources, you’ll also need to research what others say about each agency. Online reviews from clients and their families also reveal much about an agency’s reputation, along with testimonials from current and former employees.

Reputable home care companies also conduct drug tests and extensive background checks on their employees, including criminal and driving records. While you’re at it, check to see if the agency meets all your state’s certification requirements.

Research their services

Initially, your loved one may only need a little help performing activities of daily living (ADLs), like light housekeeping, meals, or bathing. But if they were recently diagnosed with a serious illness or dementia, your loved one may need specialized care to maintain their independent lifestyle.

Look for a provider that offers a full menu of in-home services, including dementia care, post-surgical care, transportation, and other options. It’s also prudent to find out if the company provides ongoing staff training and if their caregivers are certified per state requirements.

Find out how much it will cost

Contrary to what you might think, Medicare does not cover elective home care services like personal care, private duty care, or homemaker services. While your choice of an in-home care provider should not exclusively hinge on price, it will inevitably play a role. First, determine how much your loved one can afford based on their monthly budget.

In most cases, the cost of care relies on the number of hours the caregiver spends with their client, along with the type of services they provide. Before making your final decision, research each company’s hourly rates, along with how much they charge for daily and overnight visits.

 Screen the caregivers yourself

Once you’ve narrowed your provider search down to two or three options, proceed to the interview phase. Schedule a screening interview for your loved one with each potential caregiver to ensure that their personality and work ethic align with yours.

During the interview, don’t hesitate to ask the supervisor for references from former or current clients, along with proof of insurance and other certifications. This is also the perfect time to discuss your loved one’s care plan and how the agency would meet their changing needs.

These are other questions to ask each provider:

  • What’s your backup plan in the event of an emergency or illness?
  • Will the primary caregiver be providing most of the care?
  • How do you measure the competency and performance of your caregivers?
  • How do you determine if a caregiver is a good fit for a client?
  • Do you perform periodic drug tests on your employees?
  • Is a registered nurse (RN) or equivalent case manager available 24/7?

Flexible Home Care Solutions for Seniors in Naples

When you or your loved one need assistance, contact Home Instead Senior Care in Naples. While proudly serving families in Naples, Fort Myers, and Charlotte County, we are a fully licensed and insured home care provider with highly trained professionals who are experts at delivering the nurturing our clients’ need. As an extended family in your senior’s home, our compassionate caregivers can perform duties like light housekeeping, personal care, dementia care, companionship care, medication reminders, and even live-in and 24-hour care.

Our agency’s focus is maintaining your loved one’s quality of life, as well as their dignity, self-esteem, and independence. For your added convenience, all our in-home services can be individually personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! Please visit us here now to learn more about us or schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in our service area.

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Having the Tough Conversation with Your Parents about Senior Living

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How to Reduce Caregiver Stress

As our population ages, providing care for aging parents is becoming more common by the day.Over the past several years, we have seen a dramatic increase in adults providing care for their spouses or aging parents. While providing this service to your family can be rewarding, it can also take a toll on your personal life in the form of financial stress, having drastically less personal time, feeling drained and generally overwhelmed.The holiday season is a particularly stressful time for caregivers. Providing care to your loved one, taking care of your own family and making time for yourself is a delicate balancing act that can all too quickly fall apart. Its easy to dedicate too much time to the others while not enough for yourself, increasing the risk of burnout and fatigue. 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Types of Alzheimer's Disease

Types of Alzheimer's Disease Different researchers classify Alzheimer's Disease using vastly different stages.  Alzheimer's Disease has a genetic component that becomes active in some people and dormant in others. Alzheimers creates an environment that promotes brain changes in those affected.  Lastly, amyloid plaque is the brains protective response to vastly different lifestyle insults.Alzheimers Disease is an imbalance of multiple systems within the body. People with Alzheimers disease usually have more than one type and present multiple risk factors.One of the things I like most about breaking Alzheimers into types is once you know where you stand, it is easy to begin to resolve. Dr. Bredesens books provide many examples from his patients.   Also, please keep in mind that in the descriptions below, I am cutting and pasting most of the information.  I do not want to risk misinterpreting any of Dr. Bredesens research and misinforming you. Type 1Type 1s primary characteristic is inflammation.  It tends to run in families as it is common in people who carry one or two ApoE4 alleles (ApoE in itself is considered an inflammatory gene). Individuals begin to lose the ability to store new information in the hippocampus for individuals who carry two copies of ApoE4 this tends to start in the late fifties or early sixties. For those with no copies of ApoE4, symptoms present typically in the sixties or seventies. A reduced hippocampal volume chronic inflammation encourages the brain to destroy synapses faster than it creates them.Biochemical Markers of Type 1 An increase in C-reactive protein (CRP), which is made by the liver in response to inflammation. 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As part of homeostatic adjustment, the body prefers to minimize extra energy usage. However, since neurons are critically important for healthy functioning, they receive signals in the form of chemicals that tell them to continue working. These chemicals are called trophic factors.Many of these trophic factors are synthesized and released by glial cells of the nervous system, the non-neuronal cells that interact closely with the neurons. Glial cells, particularly the astrocytes and Schwann cells, are well-known producers of trophic support molecules.One of the best-characterized trophic support molecules is called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF. BDNF is a large protein. BDNF is normally synthesized and produced by cells of the nervous system and is important for making changes in neurons or for the growth of nerve cells. BDNF signals through the activity of several different receptors, the most well-known being the TrkB receptor. Other neurotrophic factors used by the nervous system that are important as trophic support molecules include nerve growth factor (NGF), neurotrophin-3, glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), and ephrins. Trophic factors, such as NGF and BDNF, control the development and survival of specific groups of neurons. Type 1, Type 1.5 & Type 2 Alzheimers Disease lead to the imbalance between the production and destruction of neural synapses. Type 3Type 3s primary characteristic is exposure to toxins such as mercury, toluene, benzene (candles), or mycotoxins (mold). Type 3 tends to occur in those who have the ApoE3 allele rather than ApoE4 and does not typically run in families.Type 3 hits individuals at younger ages, typically late forties to early sixties. Symptoms do not begin with memory loss but rather with cognitive difficulties involving numbers, speech, or organization. Individuals will start seeing difficulties with: Math, such as calculating tips or bills. Speech, such as finding the right words, or spelling or reading correctly. Rules of games, such as poker or bridge. Depression and attention deficits are common. The brain ultimately loses recent and old memories.Patients with Type 3 are often diagnosed initially with something other than Alzheimers Disease such as depression or frontotemporal dementia. Biochemical Markers of Type 3 Low triglyceride levels as compared to cholesterol levels. MRI scans show shrinkage of the hippocampus. Neuroinflammation and vascular leaks are presented on a specific MRI called FLAIR (Fluid-attenuated inversion recovery) as white spots. Decreased zinc levels. Normal levels are between 90-110 mcg/dL. Elevated copper levels. Normal copper levels are between 90-110 mcg/dL. High blood levels of toxic chemicals such as mercury or mycotoxins (caused by molds). The pituitary gland and adrenal glands become dysfunctional, which can show up in lab tests as hormonal abnormalities. Type 4Type 4s primary characteristic is low blood flow to the brain. Type 4 or Vascular Alzheimers Disease, is caused by a reduction of blood flow to the brain, which ultimately deprives the brain of essential oxygen and nutrients. The brain is an extremely vascularized tissue, meaning it requires large amounts of oxygen. A lack of oxygen to the brain leads to hypoperfusion (low blood flow) and compromises the blood-brain barrier which allows for harmful substances to leak in and damage neurons. Cerebral vasculature is extremely important as it is one way the body clears the accumulation of amyloid-beta.Biochemical Markers of Type 4Leakiness present in vascular tissues.Individuals with cardiovascular disease have a high risk for Type 4 Alzheimers.These individuals do best when they prioritize healing underlying insulin resistance. Type 5Type 5s primary characteristic is brain damage. Type 5 or trauma-induced Alzheimers, results from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) which disrupt normal brain function, including learning and thinking skills. Certain types of TBIs may increase the risk of developing Alzheimers disease years after the injury takes place.One of the most impactful studies showed that those with a history of moderate TBI had a 2.3 times greater risk of developing Alzheimers than older adults with no history of a head injury and those with a history of severe TBI had a 4.5 times greater risk.Biochemical Markers of Type 5There are no biochemical markers for Type 5 as it is triggered by injuries to the brain such as: Blunt force trauma Concussions Physical Abuse Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) Now that we have broken down Alzheimers Disease into 6 different types and identified their characteristics and potential causes we can begin to address what you need to do to prevent and begin to heal the damaging insults to the brain.  We will begin to work on that next week. OR if you want to jump ahead, purchase Dr. Dale Bredesens books.  Here are the links to purchase them on Amazon.The End of Alzheimers 2 Books Collection Set By Dale Bredesen Paperback October 26, 2023LINK: https://amzn.to/462LcY3 The End of Alzheimer's Program: The First Protocol to Enhance Cognition and Reverse Decline at Any Age Paperback September 6, 2022LINK: https://amzn.to/3xNcrct

Local Services By This Author

Home Instead

Non-Medical 11181 Health Park Blvd., Ste. 3060, Naples, Florida, 34110

Home Instead in Naples provides personalized in-home senior care services to aging adults in the Naples area. Our professional caregivers, known as CAREGivers, are dedicated to enhancing the aging experience by providing practical support with a human touch.Senior care services from Home Instead help to enhance the aging experience by providing practical support at home with a human touch. Our professional caregivers immerse themselves into wherever home is to assist with common activities of daily living and build a lasting relationship with you and your family.Our home care services can help aging adults stay engaged in everyday life with tailor-made support by professional caregivers to stay safe and well at home. Its our mission to provide a care plan personalized to your familys needs to bring comfort, connection, and quality of life in the place that they love the most, their home.Interested in joining our team of professional caregivers? Home Instead offers rewarding careers for individuals passionate about assisting seniors with activities of daily living. We are looking for compassionate individuals to join us in making a difference in the lives of seniors. View all available jobs and apply now to become an Entry Level CAREGiver with Home Instead.

Home Instead

Home Health 11181 Health Park Blvd., Ste. 3060, Naples, Florida, 34110

Home Instead in Naples provides personalized in-home senior care services to aging adults in the Naples area. Our professional caregivers, known as CAREGivers, are dedicated to enhancing the aging experience by providing practical support with a human touch.Senior care services from Home Instead help to enhance the aging experience by providing practical support at home with a human touch. Our professional caregivers immerse themselves into wherever home is to assist with common activities of daily living and build a lasting relationship with you and your family.Our home care services can help aging adults stay engaged in everyday life with tailor-made support by professional caregivers to stay safe and well at home. Its our mission to provide a care plan personalized to your familys needs to bring comfort, connection, and quality of life in the place that they love the most, their home.Interested in joining our team of professional caregivers? Home Instead offers rewarding careers for individuals passionate about assisting seniors with activities of daily living. We are looking for compassionate individuals to join us in making a difference in the lives of seniors. View all available jobs and apply now to become an Entry Level CAREGiver with Home Instead.