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Life after a stroke can present numerous challenges for seniors, impacting not only their physical health but also their mental well-being. One of the most common hurdles in their recovery journey is post-stroke depression, a devastating result of the trauma they experienced that can negatively affect rehabilitation and diminish their quality of life.In this article, follow along as we delve into the relationship between strokes and depression, explore the symptoms of post-stroke depression, and provide insights into effective management strategies, including treatment and support.Is depression common after a stroke?Yes, depression is quite common after a stroke. In fact, according to the American Stroke Association, about one-third of stroke survivors experience post-stroke depression. Its often caused by chemical imbalances in the brain due to emotional and psychological trauma, ultimately affecting the survivors ability to feel positive emotions.A comprehensive study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) emphasizes the strong connection between strokes and depression. The researchers discovered that individuals with a stroke were more than twice as likely to develop depression compared to those who hadnt experienced a stroke. Additionally, the changes and challenges during stroke recovery, such as limited mobility or loss of independence, can contribute to sadness, frustration, and hopelessness. Fortunately, there is hope. Recognizing this condition is the first step toward recovery for survivors.Symptoms of post-stroke depression:It is crucial to recognize the symptoms of post-stroke depression to provide timely support and treatment. The symptoms may include:Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessnessLoss of interest in previously enjoyed activitiesChanges in appetite and weightFatigue or lack of energyDifficulty concentrating or making decisionsSleep disturbances, such as insomnia or excessive sleepIncreased irritability or restlessnessPhysical aches or pains without a clear causeIts important to note that these symptoms can vary from person to person, and not everyone may experience all of them. If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms following a stroke, its crucial to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.Ways to manage post-stroke depression:Seek professional help: Consulting a mental health professional experienced in working with stroke survivors is invaluable. They can provide an appropriate diagnosis and create a personalized treatment plan.Medication: In some cases, healthcare physicians may prescribe medication to help manage the symptoms of post-stroke depression. Antidepressant medications can help rebalance chemicals in the brain and alleviate depressive symptoms.Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness are techniques proven to help reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Incorporate these practices into your daily routine to promote emotional balance.Social engagement: Strong social support from family, friends, and stroke support groups can greatly aid the recovery process. Encouraging open communication, empathy, and understanding can help stroke survivors navigate their emotions effectively. Also, regular engagement with others, whether with family, friends or a professional caregiver, prevents social isolation, a major contributor to depression.Lifestyle changes: Implementing healthy habits into daily routines can improve overall well-being. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep can help alleviate depressive symptoms and improve physical health.Treatment and support:Apart from professional help, stroke survivors can benefit from various support resources. Stroke support groups, both in-person and online, can provide a unique sense of community through shared understanding. Connecting with individuals who have faced similar challenges can be empowering and a way to learn valuable insights and coping mechanisms.Additionally, family caregivers and loved ones should educate themselves about post-stroke depression to provide the necessary support. Being patient, understanding, and encouraging during recovery can make a significant difference in a loved ones recovery. To learn more, including valuable information about preventative care, you can refer to our blog about stroke signs and prevention tips for older adults.Next StepsDepression can make life after a stroke a long, emotional journey, but it doesnt have to be one your loved one must go alone. There is hope and relief through the power of support, whether through counseling, socialization or everyday care and companionship. With proper treatment and being shown compassion and patience, even during their most challenging of moments, significant strides can be made along their road to recovery.If you or a loved one could benefit from additional support at home following a stroke or an extended hospital stay, our GoHomeWell Post-Medical Care Program could make all the difference. With a personalized care plan and a wide range of service options for a variety of needs, we can help your family rebuild your independence safely and empower you or your loved one to conquer lifes challenges.Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one recover your health and experience a happier, healthier life at home.
Going home for the holidays is a wonderful, exciting time for many families. For adults who live a considerable distance from their elderly parents, it also serves as the ideal time to see how they are managing on their own. While phone calls are great for staying connected throughout the year, it can be difficult to truly gauge their physical and mental health without seeing them in person. So, as you reconnect and enjoy each others company this holiday season, here are some signs you should look for to determine if and how your mom or dad could use additional support. 1: Cognitive Decline Its easy to confuse memory loss with normal aging. Thats why knowing the difference between dementia and normal aging is crucial as your parents grow older. Having forgetful moments from time to time, such as forgetting a word in a conversation or misplacing documents, can be expected. However, when your parents start having difficulty maintaining a conversation, frequently forget where they placed essential documents or show other signs of chronic forgetfulness, it can be a sign of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). If dementia may be a concern for your family, pay close attention to these early warning signs during your visit: Frequent confusion Getting lost while driving or walking to familiar places Difficulty reading a book or following a conversation Misspending large sums of money Leaving mail unopened and bills unpaid. 2: Physical Changes Do mom and dad have noticeable changes in their weight (gain or loss)? Are you noticing poor hygiene or a disheveled appearance? Its essential to take note of these changes during your visit. Often they can indicate your parent is no longer able to take care of themselves or suffering from mental health issues such as loneliness or depression. A decrease in mobility is also noteworthy. Diminished mobility can lead to further problems and a poor quality of life. If you notice theyre having trouble balancing, walking up and down stairs or experiencing pain when standing up from a chair, dont take those signs lightly, as they show your parents could be at a greater risk of falling. Consider making an appointment with their doctor to discuss options to help keep them safe and healthy, such as pain management, physical therapy or hiring in-home caregivers. 3: Home Environment During your visit, see if your parents are keeping the house up to their usual standards. Remember that the things youre looking for may not be obvious. Often, the warning signs are subtle. For example, scorched marks in the kitchen could indicate that theyve forgotten about their food on the stove or in the oven a time or two. And while youre in the kitchen, check for expired food, piled-up trash near the garbage can, or a lack of healthy food. These can all be signs that your parents arent handling the shopping list correctly, and it may be time to arrange for someone to take over meal preparation and basic housekeeping. Also, pay close attention to the shared living spaces. Are they as clean as they usually are? Or did you notice an excessive amount of clutter? Not only is clutter a potential fall risk, but it is also a sign that your mom and dad could be having a more challenging time keeping up with the home. Next Steps If you notice any of the three warning signs listed above, take the opportunity to write down and collect any information while youre still in town. Addressing these issues during a Christmas visit may not be the best time but do plan to evaluate and discuss the problems you found when appropriate. If you have siblings or other loved ones who are close to your parents, it could be beneficial to explain your findings to them as well. Remember that having the initial conversation with your parents will be a vulnerable moment on both sides. However, this conversation is a first step toward keeping your parents safe, happy, and healthy at home in the long run. Suggest making an appointment with a doctor for a complete health assessment, as the results from this evaluation will help you work together to determine what next steps are necessary. At HomeWell Care Services, we understand how making the right decision can be stressful for your family. Thats why were here to help you choose the right level of care and support for your loved one. Contact us to learn about our free consultations today.
For more information on the author, HomeWell Care Services, CLICK HERE!Are you a family caregiver who doesn't have time to take a break? You should explore respite care before the need becomes more urgent.Working a full-time job, managing children, and caring for an older or disabled loved one doesn't leave much time for you. Its easy to burn out or neglect your own wellbeing without noticing, which in turn makes it harder to look after everyone else. The good news is that help is often closer than you think.What is respite care?Respite care is a short-term break for caregivers, provided by a local in-home care agency, an adult day center, or a healthcare facility. They'll take over responsibility for your loved one, while you take a break to rest up or do things you need to do. Respite care is typically flexible. You can book a few hours a day, or several days at a time, often at short notice.The goal is for you to recharge, or take care of your other needs, to be an even better caregiver when you return. Your loved one can benefit from a change in routine, and the variety of having someone else involved in their care.When should I consider respite care?Be proactive and research your options now. Its better to recharge early and regularly than to wait until you feel burned out.Even when things are going well, a sudden scheduling conflict, illness or work trip can derail your family's caregiving arrangements at short notice. By talking to your local care providers early, you'll be prepared when these situations arise.What if I don't feel okay going outside my family for help?One of the biggest barriers to finding help is the worry that no one else can provide the level of support, care, and love that you do. Try reframing it this way: you're not replacing yourself; you're finding the best short-term alternative.Also, taking a break makes you a better caregiver. Taking care of yourself, or reconnecting with friends, gives you the recharge you need to provide better support and care in the long-term. Its essential for your wellbeing, and for the person you're caring for.How will my loved one feel about respite care?For many care recipients, the idea of a professional caregiver feels like a loss of choice: another person to restrict their options and tell them what to do. To help put your loved ones mind at ease, involve them early in the decision, starting with a family home care consultation focused on their concerns and goals. Your loved one may discover unexpected benefits to look forward to.For example, they may want to be more involved with daily activities like checking the mail, walking the dog or preparing food. Many family caregivers, pressed for time, simply take care of these tasks for their loved ones. An agency caregiver has time to walk to the mailbox with them, help them fold laundry, or operate the oven and measure out ingredients for a cooking session.In talking their goals through, your loved one can see how a caregiver can be a welcome, friendly companion who is there to empower them, not restrict them.How do I choose the best respite care provider? Depending on where you live, your options may include local home care experts like HomeWell Care Services, day centers, and other facilities. Before you start reaching out, know what to ask, starting with the basics:How does the agency screen its caregivers?What training do its caregivers have?Can the caregiver provide transportation?How does the agency match the caregiver to your loved one?How long will it take for the agency to place them?A good care manager can also suggest other ways to help you now and in the future, such as a fall prevention assess mentor a wellbeing program like HomeWells Life Enrichment Activity Program.By starting now and exploring your respite care options early, you'll make things easier when you need help in future.
he fear of falling is common among seniorsand for a good reason. From slippery rugs and wet floors to stairs and uneven sidewalks, obstacles are everywhere. As you age, these minor encumbrances turn into safety hazards, increasing the likelihood of a fall. While a fall results in physical repercussions, the fear of falling can negatively impact your quality of life and keep you from doing what you love. Its common for seniors to withdraw from performing everyday tasks or enjoying the hobbies that bring them happiness due to their fall risk. In this blog, well provide some quick tips to help prevent falls so you or your loved one can experience peace of mind and a higher quality of life at home. WHY ARE FALLS SO DANGEROUS FOR SENIORS? The same falls you shrugged off when you were younger may now leave you feeling like youve fallen down an entire flight of stairs. So why is that the case? Research tells us that frailty is one of the leading causes of increased falls, hospitalization, and mortality. Because older adults experience muscle loss as they age, they become more susceptible to severe injuries. And one fall for a senior can nearly double the chances of it happening again. Since most older adults dont tell their doctors about their falls until theyve suffered a severe injury, its essential to get ahead of the situation whenever possible. COMMON RISK FACTORS FOR FALLS One of the many reasons falls are so dangerous is that seniors often dont realize theyre at a higher risk of getting injured from a fall until its too late. Identifying and modifying the common risk factors ahead of time can significantly reduce the chances of falls in the elderly. The risk factors considered to have a high association with fallswhich can be modifiedinclude: Medication usage Weakened muscles Visual impairment Fear of falling Physical inactivitySocial isolation HOW TO HELP PREVENT FALLS Not only are poor health conditions a severe risk factor for falling, but there are also some items in your home that could lead you to tumble. Take control of your wellbeing by safeguarding yourself with these improvements: EXERCISE REGULARLY. Exercises focusing primarily on balance and strength training, such as aerobics, can reduce your fall risk. Its important to talk to your doctor before starting exercises, especially if you have a history of falling or experience instability while walking. CONSULT YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER. Talk to your doctor if you start experiencing joint issues, dizziness, or other health-related issues that could potentially put you at risk for a fall. Its vital that you mention any signs of weakness or stumbling. KEEP YOUR HOME SAFE. Poor lighting, clutter, and a lack of handrails can all increase your chances of tripping or taking a tumble. Keep your pathways clear of obstacles, use handrails on stairs, install support rails in the bathroom if possible and ensure adequate lighting throughout your home to see and avoid fall hazards. KEEP COMMONLY USED ITEMS IN EASY-TO-REACH PLACES. Anything you use regularly should be stored in an easily accessible location. Bending over, stooping, and reaching can cause seniors to lose balance and feel dizzy, oftentimes leading to a fall. CHECK YOUR CLOTHING. If youre at risk of falling, you may want to consider making some adjustments to your everyday wardrobe. Wear shoes with slip-resistant soles and make sure they fit properly. Also, hem your pants cuffs and dress so theyre not too long to avoid tripping over them. SCHEDULE A FALL RISK ASSESSMENT. If youre unsure whether you are at risk of falling, set up a fall risk assessment. A professional will evaluate your home environment, health, and daily habits. They can help identify and remove any hazardous situations to reduce your risk of falling, creating safety and peace of mind. If you fear you or a loved one may be at high risk of experiencing a fall, ask about our SureStep Fall Prevention Program. We can help you safely navigate your home and strengthen your sense of security so you can continue to enjoy your independence. To continue reading helpful ways to prevent falls, download HomeWells Trusted Tips for Fall Prevention.
5 Ways Seniors Can Adjust To Daylight Savings TimeDid you know that daylight savings can negatively affect the health and wellness of seniors? In November, we set our clocks back an hour. This small change negatively impacts many seniors and people with chronic medical conditions in a few different ways. The most common problems are sleep-related since daylight savings interrupt regular sleeping and waking cycles. This can be dangerous since grogginess and mental acuity can increase the risk of accidental falls and injuries.Daylight savings also poses an increased risk for heart attacks, according to a 2008 study. The study shows that heart attack rates increase by about 5% in the week after the November time change, and again in the week after the time change in March. Similarly, numbers for depression and anxiety increase in seniors shortly after the time change.Daylight savings pose a risk to seniors safety and mental health. Here are a few ways for seniors to safely adjust to the time change successfully through November.1. Sleep consistentlySleep patterns are critical to health and wellness this time of year, so be sure to avoid waking up and going to bed without a routine. A good rule of thumb is to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day2. Only use the bedroom for sleepingSeniors should avoid eating, reading, and watching tv in bed since these distractions can create problems when its time to fall asleep. The bedroom should only be used for sleeping. Take care to ensure that its cool, dark, and quiet enough to sleep comfortably.3. Avoid alcohol and caffeineThis time of year, alcohol and caffeine should be avoided since they disrupt sleep. When seniors have trouble sleeping, the mental fog it creates the next morning puts them at a higher risk of falling or sustaining an injury.4. Spend time outside and exerciseNot only is exercise crucial for fall prevention, but it can also help with the symptoms of seasonal depression. Similarly, being outside in natural sunlight helps our bodies regulate natural rhythms and promote balance in the mind and body. Cardiovascular exercise, like jogging and swimming, can help seniors fall asleep easier, too.5. Dont take napsWith the sun going down at 5 PM, naps are always calling. Try to avoid naps at all costs, though! Being tired helps seniors to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. If you must nap, try to keep it under 20 minutes.For more helpful information for seniors and caretakers, be sure to check out our blog for more tips and articles on senior health and safety.Article Source: Logicmark.com
For more information on the author, HomeWell Care Services, CLICK HERE!If you have a loved one living with a serious disease like cancer, heart disease, lung disease, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and ALS, you may be among the millions of American families who would benefit from palliative care.Palliative care eases the everyday symptoms and side effects of serious illness, and can reduce emergency room visits and medical costs. Crucially, it can often be administered at home or in an outpatient clinic, enabling sick people to remain safely in the comfort of their home.Because palliative care is a relatively new specialty, however, many families don't know about it.What is palliative care?Palliative care is comfort care that treats the symptoms and side effects of an illness, rather than the illness itself. Palliative care can start at any stage, and often goes hand-in-hand with curative or life-prolonging treatment, which is what distinguishes palliative care from end-of-life hospice care.Palliative care is managed by a team of specialists, typically a doctor, a nurse and a social worker. This team takes a holistic approach that includes your loved ones quality of life and emotional wellbeing. As well as focusing on symptoms and pain, palliative teams are trained to help people manage issues like anxiety, depression, fatigue and difficulty sleeping.Palliative care is effective .Studies indicate that patients who receive it are less likely to be hospitalized for emergencies, more likely to feel satisfied with their care, and more likely in cases of terminal illness to spend their final months at home.Living with a serious illness at homeIncreasingly and especially since the pandemic people are making the choice to face serious illnesses or declining health in the familiar environment of home. While palliative care makes this easier, it isn't always enough, especially for family caregivers.Too often, the demands of caregiving become too much to handle. As a family caregiver, its easy to become overwhelmed or burned out, or experience a diminished relationship with your loved one due to the stresses of caregiving.At this point or ideally before families should seek out specialized in-home care, such as HomeWell's Palliative Care Support program. Our program offers a personalized schedule of in-home care and companionship that complements your loved ones palliative or hospice care plan and helps relieve you from the demands of everyday caregiving.Palliative Care Support is designed to support both your loved one and your family, with caregivers who can help minimize pain and other symptoms, assist with personal care to minimize stress, and provide medication reminders for pain management. Our team is also there to support you when you feel overwhelmed, offering strength, comfort, and a shoulder to lean on.If you choose to explore in-home palliative care support, look for an agency with a Care Manager who can liaise with your loved ones palliative or hospice team. Ask about how they choose your family's caregivers, as a good match is essential for true companionship and reassurance.Getting started with palliative careIf your'e unfamiliar with palliative care, ask your doctor or social worker about palliative care services in your area and how to get them.You can find more information at Get Palliative Care, WebMD and the Center to Advance Palliative Care.
Has your 2021 been calm, or did you find the last 12 months more stressful than usual? Stress has a way of accumulating, especially when youre lending your heart and inner strength to a loved one who needs you as their caregiver.When youre a family caregiver taking care of others, its important to take care of yourself by regularly replenishing your inner strength to deal with stress, even if just for a minute or two. The good news is that it doesnt have to be hard workin fact, it can be fun.1: Make time for musicYour favorite music doesnt just elevate your mood: it can also lower your blood pressure, reduce muscle tension, improve memory and boost your coping skills. Its why music therapy is a real thing.Why not make yourself a daily appointment with your headphones and an uplifting track?2: Find your favorite micro-breakWhen its hard to take a proper break, purposeful micro-breaks can give your inner strength a quick boost.It can be as easy as drinking a glass of water to relax, or a gentle, five-minute mini workout. The key is tofind a restorative micro-breakthat suits you and to practice it every day.3: Invest in your friendshipsThe more friends you have in your life, the easier it is to find the support you need.If your social life took a back seat last year, invest the time to reconnect with the friends you can lean on, and the friends who make you laugh, too. Laughter cools down your stress, improves your mood, and can evengive your immune system a boost.4: Practice your positive inner voiceDoes your inner voice reassure you, or do the opposite? The way you communicate with yourself can affect your stress level without you noticing.However, its possible to spot when youre talking to yourself negatively, and turn things around with reassuring feedback instead. Heres how to practicetalking to yourself more kindly.Why not add one of these ideas to your New Years resolutions for 2022?Do you need a more substantial break? Respite care helps you recharge and take care of your own needs so that you can be an even better family caregiver
Submission by, Homewell Care Services Of Sarasota , for more information, CLICK HERE!Know Your Care Options When Your Aging Parent or Loved One Needs Additional HelpIf you have an aging parent or loved one, its natural to be concerned about them needing extra help as they get older.Its especially true if they don't even want to discuss the idea of getting help. No one wants to think about the idea of getting older, or about having to move from the comforts of home. Most of us would rather live out our retirement years at home, as independently as possible.Unfortunately, without a long-term plan in place, many older adults and their families are faced with making quick and difficult decisions after a significant health event. Its better to know the options in advance and to know when its time to start considering them.What are the care options?The most likely options you'll consider are home care and assisted living, which can be customized or combined to address your loved ones needs.1: Home care is one of the fastest growing and most requested services in the United States today. Services can range from simple companionship to more personal care and supervision, provided by trained, professional caregivers. Caregivers can assist with activities of daily living such as bathing, toileting, and/or mobility needs, as well as light housekeeping, meal preparation and medication adherence.Home care can be tailored to fit your loved ones needs, and many families find that loved ones are more open to the idea of a private caregiver in their home than elsewhere.2: Assisted living is often an appropriate long-term care alternative to keep an aging parent safe and healthy for longer. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, nearly 1 million older adults now reside in assisted living communities in the US.These communities are designed for older adults who prefer apartment-style living, with help provided for day-to-day tasks. Like home care, the goal is to enable independent living with services tailored to each residents needs. Therapeutic activities and amenities are typically provided, as well as help with daily tasks like dressing, bathing, toileting, medication management, transportation and more as needed.3: Home care and assisted living can go hand in hand. Many families start with home care; then, as the needs of their loved one progress, continue to support them with a private caregiver in assisted living. This option provides comfort and consistency especially if you can keep the same caregiver and can make the transition from home to a new assisted living environment easier.When is it time to consider your care options? No one else knows your parent or loved one like you do. If you have a feeling that something isn't right, it probably isn't especially if you notice the following signs:1: Decline in health condition. It is not uncommon for older adults to experience one or more than one chronic health condition. If these conditions are not managed well, you will eventually see a decline in your loved ones physical and/or mental health requiring a higher level of care intervention, such as frequent doctors visits or a hospitalization.2: Change in self-care performance. Self-care tasks may include bathing, dressing, and toileting tasks. If you notice a change in hygiene practices such as wearing the same clothes daily, bad breath, unpleasant body odor, or long/dirty nails, it should be a cause for concern.3: Inability to manage medications. Chronic health conditions increase as we age and these conditions can require complex treatments, including a wide variety of medications. If not managed properly, medications can be missed or be taken incorrectly, resulting in serious health consequences.4: Poor nutritional intake. Physical limitations can make it difficult for older adults to cook for themselves. Even mild cognitive impairment can make meal preparation challenging. Microwavable meals may be over-relied upon in place of a nutritious, home cooked meal, which can negatively impact health over time. As a result, you may notice a significant change in weight or frailty.5: Safety concerns .If you notice your loved one begin to walk with an unsteady gait, poor balance, or a decrease in mobility, they are at high risk for a fall incident. According to the CDC, 3 million older adults are treated in the emergency room every year for an injury resulting from a fall. Most falls are due to an unsafe environment: clutter, poor lighting, or slick surfaces, with most falls occurring on the way to or from the bathroom. Cognitive impairment is also a safety concern because of the risk for wandering and increased episodes of forgetfulness.6: Decrease in social activities. Social connections and feeling of connectivity with others are important to anyone's overall well-being and health. Social withdrawal can indicate depression, loneliness, or signs of cognitive decline. A decrease in your loved ones social interactions with family, friends, or even neighbors is an indicator of social withdrawal.7: Difficulty managing financial affairs .If you are starting to notice stacks of unopened mail, piles of papers and unpaid bills, or an increase in calls from collectors, your loved one may be overwhelmed or cognitively unable to manage their own financial affairs. This could indicate the need for the legal responsible party to assume responsibility of their financial affairs.8: Home is unkept or in disrepair. An increase in clutter, dirty laundry and/or trash piling up, an unpleasant odor in the home, or a lack of home upkeep can be a cause for safety concerns and creates environmental hazards.If your'e seeing these signs and you're unsure of how to proceed, engaging the assistance of a senior care consultant or geriatric case manager can help you explore your home care or senior living options. These senior care professionals can help lessen the stress involved in locating the best match for your loved one, and are often a free service to seniors and their families.Remember: starting the conversation and asking questions of your loved one may be hard. However, it will help you to keep your parent safe, happy and healthy for the long term.Mikelle Rappaport is the owner and founder of Golden Lifestyle Partners. For over 20 years, she has dedicated her career to working with seniors and their families in a variety of capacities from geriatric social worker to an administrator for some of Hampton Roads premier long-term care communities. For more information, visitgoldenlifestylepartners.com.
It is easy for family and friends, as well as professionals, to suggest finding someone to help with housekeeping tasks andcare responsibilities. Having someone else take on some of your housekeeping or personal care tasks might sound appealing to you too. But what does it mean tohave someone in your house to help you? Where do you begin to find someone? Can you afford it? How do you respond to your loved one who proclaims that theydont want a stranger in the house? What services do they provide? This fact sheet will help guide you through the process of hiring help at home.Do I Need Assistance?Long-Distance caregiving, working full-time, and caregiving and/or caring for someone 24 hours a day/7 days a week will takea toll on anyone. With a loved one who needs personal care and who cant be left alone, you must be vigilant and on duty day and night. With constantcare and companionship responsibilities, you may have very little time to yourself. If you are caring for someone who needs to be transferred from bed towheelchair or out of a chair when sitting, you may be at risk for injuring your back. For those caring for a family member living with dementia, you may bealso be dealing with challenging behavior, wandering risks, or actions that might be harmful or dangerous such as leaving cooking burners on. If you donthave time to do the shopping, banking, and taking care of your own medical needs, you are at risk for stress-related illness. Are housekeeping routinesand cooking being done with great difficulty or being left undone? Consider your needs as a caregiver and the needs of the person you are caringfor. Here are the main areas to assess: Personal care: bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, grooming Household care: cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping Health care: Medication management, physicians appointments, physical therapy Emotional care: companionship, meaningful activities, conversationHiring help can relieve you of some of the tasks you are responsible for, freeing you to have some time for yourself.Having trusted help can give you the opportunity to run errands, go to the doctor for yourself, catch up on sleep, and socialize with friends. For long-distancecaregivers and working caregivers, help can provide the care and assistance needed when you cant be there on a daily basis yourself. Interestingly,caregivers have found that in some instances the person receiving care can be more cooperative with someone other than the primary caregiver, so that, forexample, taking a shower might not be the battle that it can otherwise be. Engaging an attendant can help to preserve your relationship as daughter orpartner, rather than always having to be the chore person or taskmaster. Attendants come in fresh for a certain number of hours and therefore have theenergy to be engaging and encouraging in a way you might be too exhausted to do around the clock.Hiring help might not only be a necessity but a gift you can give yourself.My Loved One Only Wants Me to HelpIt can be hard for your loved one to accepthelp from a stranger. Initially, it will be important for you to be present tohelp the attendant and the care receiver to establish a successfulrelationship. You can show the attendant how you do things, so the help that isgiven will feel familiar and comfortable. Let your loved one know that YOU needhelp and that this is something they can do to help you care for them. Reassureyour loved one that hiring help does not signal that you are going to abandonthem.If your loved one lives alone, you might hear,I dont need any help. Suggest that it will make YOU feel more comfortableknowing someone is their part of the day. You can also suggest that they justtry it for a week. This will give your loved one some control in decisionmaking and help them be open to having an attendant.The transition to an attendant might be easierif the attendant shares a similar cultural background or language. The carereceiver may have a preference for a male or female attendant. However,wonderful attendants come from all backgrounds and being open to a caring,competent attendant from a different ethnicity or cultural background than yourown can lead to rewarding bonds.Sometimes the best way to get an attendantaccepted is to hire a housekeeper. Care receivers are often more open tohaving someone come in and help with the housework before they are willing toaccept someone to help with personal care. This gives your loved one time tobecome familiar with the attendant and build trust.I Dont Want a Stranger in My House!We all react differently to interacting withsomeone we dont know. For some people, meeting someone new is an enjoyable andinteresting opportunity. But for others who are naturally more reticent or arefeeling vulnerable due to their illness, there is great reluctance to exposingtheir private life and personal living space.Hiring someone through an agency will give yousome choice for attendant selection. Most agencies have done background checksand bonded the people who work for thembe sure to ask if this is the case. Andif you feel uncomfortable with the person who is sent, you can always ask theagency to send someone else. But typically an agency will attempt to match theattendant to your specific needs and requests, so if you arent immediatelycomfortable with the attendant sent, consider giving it a day or two to warm upto them.Caregivers and care receivers often worry thattheir belongings will be stolen. This does happen, but it is much rarer thanyou might be led to believe. Lock up or take out of the house any especiallyvaluable belongings, such as heirloom jewelry, just to make yourself lessanxious about this happening. Keep track of cash and checks/checkbooks/creditcards. If hiring through a home care agency report any concerns you might have.If hiring privately, schedule a time to discuss the concerns directly with thecaregiver. If your loved one has dementia, they may report an item as missingwhen it is only misplaced or stashed away.How Do I Find Help? There are formal and informal ways of findingan attendant. The formal way is to contact a Home Care Agency located near towhere your loved one lives. A long list of agencies will be available in mosturban and suburban communities. This can make it difficult to figure out who tocontact first. Far fewer agencies serve rural areas, limiting options forhiring care. People who can help you select the right agency for your needsinclude your doctor and their staff, your friends/family who have used anagency, and others in your community whom you trust, such as your faith community,your local senior center, etc. Also, check for agency reviews from trustedonline sources, and consider contacting your local Area Agency on Aging to askwhom they hold contract(s) with for their clients.Key Questions To Ask: Is the agency licensed by the state? (Many butnot all states require licensing to operate a Home Care Agency). Ask how longthey have been in business. Are the workers licensed and insured? How doesthe agency train, supervise, and monitor their workers? Request that the agency send you a packet ofinformation that describes their services, fees, and a list of references. Thiswill give you an opportunity to review the information before sitting face toface with an agency representative. What are the aides credentials? Check withthe credentialing body to confirm. Where has the aide worked previously? Ask fortwo to three references from former or current employers. Always contact the references asking about thecare competency, compassion, and reliability of the worker. Is the aide legally eligible to work in thiscountry? Ask to see verification (passport, green card, etc.)What Will It Cost?If you hire a Home Care Agency, they willestablish the pay rate. Agencies will charge a different amount, depending onthe kind of care that is needed, e.g. personal care versus dementia care. Also,an agency might have a minimum number of hours, for example, only 4-hourshifts. Or they will do a 2-hour shift but charge more per hour. For people whoneed full-time care, the options are a live-in who does the full 24 hours, alive-in plus an 8-hour shift for someone who needs someone to be awake andavailable during the night, two 12-hour shifts for people who may need someoneawake at night, or three 8-hour shifts for someone who may need extra help dueto heavy care needs.How Can I Afford It?Hiring in-home help can be expensive,particularly if you need full-time help. However, if you only need four hoursonce or twice a week, it can be more affordablethe hourly cost variesdepending on where you live in the United States.If the care-receiver has a long-term careinsurance policy and the service provided meets the policy criteria, thebenefits can offset the cost. Check the policy for how many days of care arerequired before the policy will start to pay. Determine whether there iscoverage for hiring someone privately, or only for hiring through an agency.Some policies require that the attendant be a HHA, LVN (licensed vocationalnurse), or CNA, and others do not.The cost of a hired attendant might be taxdeductible if it is considered medically necessary. Check with your taxaccountant to see if this is the case in your situation.If the care receiver is low income andqualifies for Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California), they may be able to get helpthrough an in-home program called In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). Checkwith your local Medicaid office to see what services are available in yourarea. Medicaid benefits differ by state.This type of care is an appropriateexpenditure for use of the care receivers personal savings. Often a family willalso contribute as needed to help cover the cost. Holding a family meeting todiscuss the need for the home care service, the cost of the care and the meansavailable to cover the cost can help surface concerns from family members, andgain support to help cover the expense.Some communities have a sliding scale orlow-cost home care through specialized funding. Contact your local Area Agencyon Aging (AAA) to see what is available in your community. The Medicaid In-HomeSupportive Services (IHSS) office may have a registry that is open to thepublic and can give you referrals for pre-screened attendants. Under Title IIIEof the Older Americans Act, funding distributed through your local Area Agencyon Aging (AAA) offers help paying for respite care (temporary relief) and othercaregiver related services. Faith communities and some senior service agenciesalso might be able to help you find lower-cost attendant care in your area.How Do I Find the Right Person?When hiring help, it is important to be clearabout what it is you want the attendant to do. Write a job description thatspells out the things you need help with and make a detailed list of the tasksyou want to be done. Clarity is essential to effective communication and mutualunderstanding. For example, if you want help with housekeeping, list the kindof housekeeping duties that need to be performedvacuuming, cleaning thebathroom, washing dishes, doing the laundry, etc. Be clear about any specificways that you want these duties performed, e.g. wash white items and colorsseparately. If you want personal care, does the care receiver need help withdressing, grooming, bathing, toileting, transferring? If you want someone tojust be there, does the care receiver like to take walks, watch TV (whatshows?), talk, go out to lunch, play golf, read, be left alone (some peoplelike chatty attendants and some people do not)? If there is a pet, does it needto be taken for a walk, do you want the poop in the backyard cleaned up, thekitty box cleaned out? (Check with the attendant for allergies to pets or fearof certain animals.). It is very important to find out the attendantsexperience with dementia if you are hiring someone to care for a loved one withcognitive impairment. Give examples of situations you face and ask how theywould handle them. (See below: Write a Job Description) Three general certifications exist for homecare attendants. One is an HHAhome health aide, the second is a CNAcertifiednursing assistant, and the third is an LVNlicensed vocational nurse. They aretrained to provide most levels of care in the home except for care requiring aregistered nurse, e.g. giving an injection. Each state has different laws onwhat attendants can and cannot do, such as dressing changes on a wound orgiving medications. In most settings, an attendant can put the medications inthe care receivers hand, but the care receiver must take the medications ontheir own. However, there might be rules on who can set up the media-set withthe pills in it, and whether or not the care receiver must take them out of themedia-set on their own.Always check references.Always do a background check.(See FCA fact sheet Background Checking: Resources ThatHelp)InterviewingIf you are hiring through an agency, you canshorten this process. If you need help right away, always go through an agency,as hiring privately takes time and energy to secure the right person or team ofpeople. Often an agency representative will come to the house and interview youto find out what type of help you are seeking and will try to match you withthe person in their employee pool who best meets your needs. However, havingyour job description will still be helpful in working with the agency.Initial interview/screening can be done byphone. Ask for a resume and references. With those who seem like they would beright for your situation, you can set up an in-person interview either at yourloved ones home or at a nearby coffee shop if you prefer. If appropriate, thecare receiver should be present at the interview, as their input is important.Other family members or concerned individuals may also be present. Their inputcan help you make a good decision. The job description can be emailed to theapplicant as a way to start the conversation.Here are some initial questions for theinterview: Why are you interested in this position? Tell me a little about yourself. Where have you worked before? What were your duties? Here is the jobdescription for this position. What is your favorite kind of client? Whatpushes your buttons? Is there anything in the job description thatyou are uncomfortable doing? How do you deal with someone living withmemory problems? Give an example. Describe your experience making meals forother people. How do you handle people who are angry,stubborn and/or fearful? Do you have a car? Would you prefer to driveyour own car or our car in transporting? Ill need to see proof of insuranceand a current drivers license. What is your experience transferring someoneout of bed or chair and into a wheelchair? What is your availability? Days? Hours? Can you give me two work-related and onepersonal reference I can contact? Ill need personal identification thatverifies that you can work in this country. Please bring it with you so that Ican make a copy.If the care receiver is present, watch theinteractions between the attendant and the care receiver. Do they only respondto you, or do they include the care-receiver in their answers? If the carereceiver is not present, you might want to invite a top candidate back to meetthe care receiver before making a final job offer.Immediately after the interview, write downyour impressions. Include input from the care receiver, if they were present,as well as any other family/friends who were a part of the interview. Checkyour gut. How you feel about someone can go a long way in your finding theright person. Check the references. Have a list of questions to ask about theirexperience in working with this attendant.CommunicationYour relationship with the attendant, the carereceivers relationship with the attendant, the attendants relationship withyou, and the attendants relationship with the care receiver are all veryimportant. Good communication is essential for a good relationship. Scheduleregular times to meet and discuss concerns, problems, and/or changes. Changesin care needs are to be expected. If there are added responsibilities orchanges in who is living in the house, for example, these need to be discussedwith the attendant. It is important to make expectations clear and to provideadequate training to meet those expectations. If there are problems, write outwhat is not working and come together on solutions that both of you sign. Keepcommunication current; address problems as soon as they arise. If you hire anattendant privately, it is important you feel comfortable both providingtraining and firing the worker if necessary. The higher the trust, the betterthe relationship. Trust comes through honest and open communication. If theattendant is doing a great job, be sure to tell them. A smile and well-deservedpraise can make a big difference. None of us likes to feel our work is notappreciated. When you find the right person for your caregiving needs, they areworth their weight in gold. Wishing you success in finding the best help tomatch your caregiving situation and make your journey as a caregiver moremanageable and fulfilling.ResourcesFamily Caregiver AllianceNational Center on Caregiving(415) 434-3388 | (800) 445-8106Website: www.caregiver.orgEmail: firstname.lastname@example.orgFCA CareJourney: www.caregiver.org/carejourneyFamily Care Navigator: www.caregiver.org/family-care-navigatorFamily Caregiver Alliance (FCA) seeks toimprove the quality of life for caregivers through education, services,research, and advocacy. Through its National Center on Caregiving, FCA offersinformation on current social, public policy, and caregiving issues andprovides assistance in the development of public and private programs forcaregivers. For residents of the greater San Francisco Bay Area, FCA provides directsupport services for caregivers of those with Alzheimers disease, stroke,traumatic brain injury, Parkinsons, and other debilitating health conditionsthat strike adults.Other Organizations and LinksEldercare Locator- Resources for older adults and their families eldercare.acl.govAging Life Care Association- Provides help in locating a professional care manager www.aginglifecare.orgElder Financial Protection Network- Works to prevent financial abuse of elders and dependent adults www.elderfinancialprotection.org
Mothers are often the heart of their family by providing the daily nurturing and compassion that is required to raise happy and healthy children. We observe and honor mothers by celebrating them on Mothers Day. Although the celebrations of today looks very different from how Mothers Day originally started, its still a day dedicated to showering mom with cards, flowers, brunches, and appreciation. In 2020, many of us had to alter the ways in which we traditionally celebrated, however with vaccination efforts underway and the CDC guidance on what fully vaccinated people can do, the hope is that this year will look much different from last.If your mom is homebound due to frailty or advanced health conditions, celebrating a holiday like Mothers Day can seem difficult, but there are still many ways to celebrate and engage with your loved one.The Gift of TimeThe greatest gift you can give someone is your time, especially for seniors. Spending time with your loved one playing a game, having a cup of coffee, or simply sitting outside is worth more than any gift. We know that many seniors face social isolation, and the levels of loneliness has escalated over the past year.Comfort CreaturesIf you want to give a gift, think about a comfort gift like warm socks, a blanket, or a potted plant. Many homebound individuals spend a lot of time indoors and by themselves. Providing them a gift that they can use everyday will provide them a feeling of relief when they are alone and give them something to help remember you by throughout the year.Fun ActivitiesRemember the things that your mother enjoys doing but might not be able to do anymore on her own. Maybe its watching her favorite movies, baking, or playing golf. Engage with her by offering to do this favorite activity with her on Mothers Day. HomeWell offers a Life Enrichment and Activities Program (LEAP) that focuses on providing everyday engagement. Enrichment activities often help our clients feel like their old selves again. It can be rejuvenating to take part in hobbies or learn new things.Bring the Festivities HomeIf mobility issues are a problem for your mom, considering bringing some of the tried-and-true Mothers Day activities to her. Spa days are extremely popular for moms. You can find tools for manicures and pedicures at any drugstore. Offer to do her nails or set her hair for her. Enjoying a leisurely brunch with mimosas and waffles is also very popular. Depending on your moms diet, set up your own brunch for her to enjoy. Many restaurants offer take out as an option, so you dont have to do the cooking all on your own!Getting OutsideDepending on your moms limitations, consider spending sometime outdoors. In many places of the country, the weather around Mothers Day is beautiful. This can mean sitting on the front porch enjoying tea and cookies or going for a short walk. During the pandemic, being outdoors with friends and family was the safest way to enjoy each others company but being outdoors can also be healing and beneficial to our overall wellbeing.No matter how you choose to celebrate this year, Mothers Day is a day to pay homage to the woman who raised you while sacrificing her own needs. Take heart that your mom will find joy in feeling appreciated and loved.
Caring for a loved one can be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. Often, caregivers may look for a temporary break or respite from their care responsibilities or someone to take over altogether. As a caregiver, transitioning care is challenging to navigate, and many care recipients are resistant to strangers coming into their home to help. The help often is perceived as an invasion of privacy, a loss of independence, or a waste of money. Yet, in-home assistance is often critical in offering caregivers a break and time to relax and rejuvenate.There are ways to make this transition easier. Here are some tips for making your loved one feel more comfortable with in-home help:1. Start gradually.Begin by having the aide come only a couple of hours each week, then add hours as your loved one builds a relationship with the helper. If you feel comfortable with the attendant running errands or preparing meals that can be brought to the house, you can start with those services, which can be done outside the home.2. Listen to your loved ones fears and reasons for not wanting in-home care.Express your understanding of those feelings. If possible, get your loved one involved in choosing the aide. He or she will feel more invested and comfortable with the decision.3. This is for me. I know you dont need help.Expressing the need as yours, rather than your loved ones, helps maintain her sense of dignity and independence. You can also add that having someone stay at home allows you not to worry while you are gone. Make it clear that you will be coming back.4. The doctor prescribes this.Doctors are often seen as authority figures, and your loved one may be more willing to accept help if she feels that she is required to do so.5. I need someone to help clean.Even if this is not the real reason, often people will allow someone to clean when they dont need care for themselves.6. This is a free service.This strategy may work if other family members are paying for the home care or if it is, in fact, provided without charge. Your loved one may be more open to using the service since she does not feel that she is spending money on it.7. This is my friend.By pretending that the attendant is a friend of yours, you are relating the home care worker to the family. This can help with establishing trust and rapport. You can also say that your friend is the one who needs company and that by having him or her over, your loved one is helping him out.8. This is only temporary.This strategy depends on the condition of your loved ones memory. If she often forgets what you say, then she may also forget that you said this. By presenting the situation as short-term, you will give your loved one some time to form a relationship or become comfortable with home care as part of her daily routine and give you a chance for a well-deserved break.For more detailed information about hiring someone in your home, see our other article Hiring In-Home Help.Original Article By Family Caregiver Alliance