First-Time Caregiver? You're Not Alone and Hospice Can HelpTaking care of someone who is seriously ill or facing a life-limiting illness can be intimidating, tiring and sometimes frustrating. But your role as a first-time caregiver can also be rewarding if you:Lean on your hospice team for support, education and hospice-specific careFollow the advice and suggestions of experienced caregiversNearly 40 percent of Americans are providing long-term care to an older family member or friend, according to the Associated Press-NORC Centers Long-Term Caregiving Poll.1 Caregivers include 59 percent women, 41 percent men, with older caregivers likely to be caring for a parent or spouse, and those under 40 likely to be caring for a grandparent or friend.Hospice supports patients and their first-time caregiversIf your loved one has a life-limiting illness that qualifies for hospice care, start by calling VITAS to explore the home-based services and benefits that are available to first-time caregivers. Resources range from weekly visits from members of a VITAS hospice medical team (physician, nurse, aide) to home delivery of equipment, supplies and medications related to your loved ones diagnosis. Most hospice care is provided at home, wherever your loved one calls home.Explore Medicare benefits for hospice careThe costs of hospice care are fully covered for hospice-eligible patients by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans. Talk to your love ones doctor about the requirements for a hospice referral, knowing that primary-care physicians can remain involved in your loved ones care even after they are receiving hospice services.The goal of hospice care is to relieve the burden on your terminally ill loved one by addressing pain, managing symptoms and supporting quality of life at the end of life. Hospice also supports caregivers by providing access to a hospice chaplain, social worker, volunteer and bereavement support up to 13 months after a loved ones death.The national caregiving poll found that prayer and meditation were common sources of comfort and coping for caregivers, and other strategies and tips from experienced caregivers can help first-time caregivers avoid caregiver burnout.Just remember that if youre a first-time caregiver, youre not alone.1Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. June-July 2018 poll of 1,024 U.S. adults. https://www.longtermcarepoll.org/long-term-caregiving-the-true-costs-of-caring-for-aging-adults/
As people age, you can help them create a preventative care routine to keep them happy and comfortable for years to come. While factors such as age, gender, and family history are beyond seniors control, preventative care can reduce the frequency and severity of conditions that develop. That can mean regular immunizations and wellness checks. For example, you can: Get regularly scheduled vaccines Schedule screenings for common diseases, conditions, and cancer Create a healthier and more joyful lifestyle are all habits that can ensure better wellbeing Its a good idea to join your family member for their appointments with healthcare providers to determine what the necessary steps are to help improve their health and protect them against sickness or injury. As always, positivity and connection can be strong influencers of overall health.Here are some ways to practice good preventative care: 1. Schedule Regular Screenings for Common Diseases and Conditions: According to the National Institute of Aging, the most beneficial thing you and your loved one can do in a doctors appointment is to be their notetaker. Make a list of all the questions you might have with regards to medical testing and a list of conditions that run in your family. Help make sure these questions are answered, and take notes.As a starting point, people 65 and older can ask their primary care physicians about the following tests:High Blood Pressure Make sure your loved ones healthcare provider checks their blood pressure once a year. This can help reduce chances of a heart attack and stroke.Weight Your loved one can work with their doctor to maintain a healthy weight, which will help prevent risks for heart disease and diabetes.Vision See the eye doctor for an examination once a year to keep vision strong and detect early signs of conditions like cataracts, presbyopia, temporal arteritis, dry eyes, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Hearing Hearing loss can happen with age, but like glasses for vision, modern hearing aids can provide tailor-made correction for your specific hearing deficits. That makes a world of a difference and helps your loved one feel more connected with the world around them.Diabetes If high blood pressure, obesity, or cholesterol are concerns, then blood tests should be scheduled once every 1-3 years to ensure minimize the risk for diabetes. Exercising and eating healthy can also help decrease the risk.Depression Its important for doctors to ask questions about general mood and emotional being at least once a year. Depression can be common in older adults.Dementia and Cognitive Impairment Make sure your loved ones provider is periodically doing memory tests to see if any other testing should be done for cognitive impairment.Call your loved ones healthcare provider to learn what diseases and/or conditions they might need to be tested for.2. Schedule and Receive Screenings and Tests for Cancer:Its recommended that your loved one receive screenings for common cancers for doctors to detect it early. Breast Cancer Colon Cancer Cervical Cancer Prostate Cancer Lung Cancer3. Schedule and Receive Vaccinations for the following:A persons immune system can weaken with age, which is why many older adults are at an increased risk for diseases. Luckily, many of these diseases can be prevented, or severity can be lessened, with vaccines. Your primary care doctor can inform you as to how often your loved one should get vaccinated and whether any additional ones are necessary. Here are the following recommended vaccinations: Influenza COVID-19 Pneumonia Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis Shingles 4. Eliminate Risks for Disease by doing the following: o Quit SmokingQuitting smoking can increase ones life expectancy and lower risks of heart disease and some cancers, as well as improve overall lung function and blood circulationo Moderate Alcohol Use Limiting alcohol use can help your loved ones current medication (if they take any) be more effective and can also prevent risks of bleeding in the stomach, memory loss, sleep problems and liver disease.o Increase Exercise Physical activity can help treat and prevent many diseases and is excellent for better lung function and overall circulation! If your loved one has a difficult time performing more strenuous activities like jumping or muscle strengthening, then they can try the following:o Moderate walkingo Cleaning the houseo Gardeningo Tai-ChiIf your loved one can perform more intense physical activities without strain, then they can try the following: Yoga Working out with resistance bands and/or weights Brisk walking Swimming Eat a Healthy DietA healthy diet can be delicious and easy. A well-balanced diet should include whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and poultry, and low-fat dairy. Meal-prepping saves time and makes balanced eating easier.5. Follow the necessary steps for preventing injury Remove fall risks Have your loved ones healthcare providers do an evaluation to check balance, walking ability, bone health, speed, and heart health so they know how to take extra care Make sure your loved one gets their hearing vision checked If your loved one needs, arrange for them to see a physical therapist to work on strength and balance Look into a fall-prevention or exercise program for your loved on Check your loved ones environment for potential dangers like slick floors, loose cords, and other trip hazardsImprove home safety Lower the water temperature in the water heater to prevent burns Install smoke detectors Install alarms and automatic shut-off features on appliances If you have any questions, please contact Comfort Keepers in Grand Junction at 970-232-2165.
Managing finances can be a stressful task in any stage of life, but may seem especially daunting as you get older. If youve noticed your parents making unusual purchases, leaving unopened mail to pile up, or complaining about money more frequently, it may be time to jump in and offer them a hand with their finances.No matter how involved you are in assisting your parents with their finances, consider the following tips to ensure a successful financial management system.Consider a Power of AttorneyTo start, youll want to talk to your parents about who will have control over their financial moves. This can be a tough but important discussion between you, your parents, and your siblings, if you have them. However, ensuring your parents have proper documentation and a power of attorney is a great way to settle who will be handling the financial matters. Once an agreement has been made, its a good idea to have written consent that touches on all potential matters that may pop up moving forward.Set Intentional Financial GoalsSetting financial goals is a great way to help your parents stay on track. Whether your parents are still working a part time job to keep themselves busy, or if they are fully retired, it's always smart to discuss their financial goals. If you are becoming more involved in their finances, this is very important for you to know. This will allow you to have an idea of what next steps you need to take in order to help support their financial goals. Work together and set money goals. These goals should be measurable, attainable, and realistic. They can be anything from how much money they plan to save each month, how much they spend each week on groceries and necessities, whether they want to pay bills on time each month, or even how many months or weeks it may take to pay off any debts they may have. Make sure they are having intention when setting these goals and have an actionable plan on how they are going to achieve them. Through organization, budgeting, and providing your parents with financial assistance, you can improve their chances of attaining their goals.Promote OrganizationWhen you think of money and finance, many moving parts come to mind. Staying organized financially and having everything in order is a great way to achieve financial goals and can increase your potential for positive outcomes. To start, assess current financial standing. Get a folder together and organize paperwork, bills, credit card statements, and other financial statements. To see a spending path, develop a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet to get an idea of where money is being spent and used. You can even develop a section for a budget and list out monthly payments that need to be made. Next, consider automating bill payments through online banking and set up reminders on your parents' smartphones or on their laptops and tablets. That way, you can make sure they are making payments on time and can take the hassle out of going into the system and scheduling a payment or even writing a check and mailing it to the provider. If they arent technologically savvy, put together a physical copy with payment due dates, where the payment needs to be made, and how it could be made to take out any second-guessing that could happen on your parents end.Always remember that having clear and open communication is of utmost importance. When it comes to money, theres no room for questioning. If you have ideas or see issues within your parents' finances, talk to them about it. If they are not happy with things, they will need to bring it up with you as well. Have transparency with one another to ensure success.Lastly, if your parents have mobile banking, turn on transaction notifications that they can receive from the bank. This will allow both you and them to be aware of any suspicious payments, get balance notifications, and see if their account is trending to the low end of the spectrum.Share Budgeting TipsBudgeting is one of the best ways to gain control over finances. Having an idea of what type of budgeting method works well for your parents situation can promote financial success. Reflect on the spending path you created and understand the flow of money along with how much is currently in savings and what is owed in debts. There are a variety of budgeting methods you can test out to help your parents. Heres a quick overview of some popular methods.50-30-20 Budget: This is good for individuals who have a stable income. As you divide up your salary, 50 percent of it will go towards needs, 30 percent towards wants, and 20 percent toward savings.Zero-Based Budget: This method is ideal for those who have a predictable monthly income. This may be a good idea for your parents due to their steady income from retirement money, social security, and their savings. Use spending habits from the previous two or three months as a guide. From there, map out the budget and subtract expenses from income until it reaches zero. Remember to put priority expenses at the top of the list. 70-20-10 Budget: This budget is ideal for people who dont tend to overspend their money, who have a good grasp on their finances and who like to donate. Divide income after taxes by 70 percent for spending, 20 percent for savings, and 10 percent for debt repayments or making donations.A user-friendly method of budgeting is downloading an app that does all the heavy lifting and number crunching for you. Research various apps to see what would work best for your parents and which one would be easiest for them to use and navigate.Provide Financial Assistance Where NeededThere may be a time when your parents need extra financial assistance. Although its usually ideal to keep your finances and theirs separate, supporting them in any way possible is a great way to help them navigate any difficult financial situations and achieve their financial goals.If youve decided its best for your parents to move closer to the rest of the family, you may want to research a personal line of credit or a credit card to help pay for the relocation. A move can be stressful as well as expensive, so supporting them throughout this process could ease the burden and lift the weight off their shoulders.It could be that youve taken ownership of your parents home and now need to make updates because youre looking put it on the market. Considering a personal loan, a HELOC, or dipping into your savings are great ways to finance those bigger home improvements.If youre looking to provide regular financial assistance, speak with any relevant parties and thoroughly consider whether or not you want to provide your parents with an allowance that helps them pay bills and purchase necessities when needed.Whatever the financial journey may be with your parents, do your research and talk to your financial advisor to discuss smart money moves you can make to help support their current and future financial goals.While many parents have plans for their finances as they age, there are others that might be a little less organized. Either way, providing your assistance and support through the next phase of their lives will help them stay on track with the regular payments, savings, and budgeting habits that were once part of their regular payday routines. No matter their financial situation, these tips can help support your parents and keep them financially sound for the long-term.