Categories
Caregiving

The Top 10 Senior Caregiver Duties You May Encounter

No one ever expects to end up being a caregiver for their elderly parent or loved one, but it can be a challenging and rewarding job all at the same time. If you’re in this position, it’s important to know what duties you may be responsible for.

What is a caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who provides unpaid care to a family member, friend, or neighbor who is unable to care for themselves due to illness, old age, or disability.

Caregiving can be extremely demanding both emotionally and physically and can take a toll on caregivers’ own health. In fact, according to a study on family caregiving by Statistics Canada, having too many tasks and responsibilities when caring for a family member or friend can be a major source of stress, especially when caregivers feel they lack the resources to meet the needs of their care receiver.

To best care for their loved ones, caregivers should take time for themselves and get the support they need. Whether it’s building a support team, or taking a break through respite care, it is crucial to regain a sense of balance and joy in this challenging time.

What Is The Role Of A Senior Caregiver?

The role of a senior caregiver is often undervalued and unpaid. However, family caregivers play a critical role in the long-term health and well-being of their loved ones.

1. Caregivers assess medical needs.

Good caregivers always assess the medical needs of their patients and work to ensure that those needs are being met. They are often the first line of defense when it comes to noticing changes in a loved one’s health. Caregivers may also be responsible for administering medication or treatments, so it’s important that they are able to identify any potential health problems and take the necessary steps to address them.

2. Caregivers prepare a care plan.

Typically, a care plan is prepared in consultation with the individual they are caring for and other involved parties, such as doctors, nurses, and family members. The care plan covers all aspects of the individual’s care and includes goals, interventions, and monitoring tools. This helps ensure that all necessary tasks are completed and that the client receives the highest possible level of care. The care plan also serves as a communication tool between the caregiver and the client’s family or other involved parties.

3. Caregivers assist with basic needs.

There are varying levels of assistance with activities of daily living that caregivers provide, depending on the individual’s needs. Assistance may be limited to delivering environmental support, such as reminding individuals to take their medications or eat breakfast. For individuals with more significant needs, caregivers may provide hands-on personal care, such as bathing, dressing, and grooming. In some cases, caregivers may also need to help with basic needs such as eating and using the bathroom.

Caregivers provide companionship.

4. Caregivers provide companionship.

This is often one of the most important aspects of their job, as many seniors or people with illnesses may be isolated and lonely. Companionship can help improve mental and emotional well-being and make life more enjoyable. They offer support and friendship to people who may not have anyone else to turn to. This can be a very important service for people who are isolated or otherwise unable to socialize regularly.

5. Caregivers help with housekeeping.

Many caregivers do help with housekeeping. This can be a great benefit to the elderly person they are caring for, as it can help keep their home clean and organized. Some people only need help with basic housekeeping tasks such as cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping, while others require more intensive assistance such as medication reminders or help with mobility.

6. Caregivers monitor medications.

Caregivers often monitor medications, especially if they are caring for an elderly or disabled person. Sometimes, caregivers will be responsible for administering medications, while in other cases, they will simply remind the person taking the medication when and how to take it. Either way, the caregiver must be aware of all medications being taken by the person in their care and any potential interactions between those medications.

7. Caregivers assess the care plan regularly.

Assessing their care plan regularly will ensure that they are providing the best possible care for their elderly patients. This includes evaluating the patient’s condition and needs and making any necessary changes to the care plan to ensure that it meets those needs. Caregivers should also be sure to communicate with their patients and their families about the care plan so that everyone is aware of what is going on and everyone is on the same page. By regularly assessing and tweaking their care plan, caregivers can provide high-quality, individualized care for their patients.

8. Caregivers prepare meals.

In general, caregivers often play a role in preparing meals for senior patients. This can include cooking meals from scratch, helping to order food from a restaurant or grocery store, or preparing frozen meals. Caregivers may also be responsible for ensuring that seniors receive enough nutrition and hydration, which can be especially important for those unable to cook or shop for themselves. In some cases, caregivers may also be responsible for feeding senior patients directly.

9. Caregivers assist with transfer and mobility.

As a caregiver, you may be assisting with transfers and mobility for your loved one. This can include helping to move them from their bed to a chair or aiding in their ambulation if they are able to walk on their own. In some cases, caregivers may also be able to provide some physical assistance with transfers. For example, they may be able to help an individual stand up from a seated position or move from one chair to another.

10. Caregivers provide transportation.

Caregivers often provide transportation for senior patients. This can be important for older adults who need help getting to doctor appointments or other necessary appointments. It can also be helpful for seniors who need assistance with grocery shopping or running errands.

Overcoming The Caregiving Isolation

It’s no secret that taking care of elderly family members can be a challenging task. Not only do you have to worry about their physical and emotional well-being, but you also have to manage your own busy life at the same time. In fact, there are a lot of consequences associated with caregiving responsibilities, like increased risk for stress and burnout.

However, there are ways that caregivers can overcome the challenges caregiving presents. One way to combat isolation is to build a support group. This includes family members, neighbors, or the community. But how do you do that?

If you’re a family caregiver, Circleof is the app for you. It allows you to connect with your support team, who understands the unique challenges you’re facing. You can organize and collaborate with them easily, and maintain regular communication so that everyone is on the same page. Download Circleof today to build your own circle of care!

Categories
Wellness

Maintaining a Sense of Self and Sanity

What do you do about ‘you’ when you’ve given up your life to care for someone else?  How do you prevent yourself from drowning in the needs of others?  I’m not sure I consciously asked myself these questions, but I do remember feeling I was disappearing under the weight of expectations, mine included.

My husband, Ash, was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia in December 2017 at the age of 58, and I became his full-time carer two years later. Both of those events were momentous in their own way and between them I could feel myself disappear, but what to do about it?

It took me a long time to realise that, even though I wasn’t the one with the diagnosis, I was important too. Eventually I decided that if I didn’t look after my own well-being I wouldn’t be any good to Ash either, and so something had to change.

What have I done, I hear you ask. What’s made the difference?  

The very first thing I decided to do was to lose weight and get fit. I began by walking more than I ran, but before I knew it I was running for longer spells than I was walking, and eventually I was fitter than I’d been since my teenage years.

Then I combined the fitness thing with a healthy diet and the weight began to drop off.  Not only that, but I changed shape and developed a waist. Suddenly I could get into clothes that I’d only dreamt about in the past and I began to feel good about myself.

Next, I decided that, wherever possible, I would only buy things that made me smile.  Obviously, there are some things that, by their very nature, are boring (vacuum cleaner bags spring to mind for some reason), but others really can be fun. I bought a new washing up brush that looks like a flower in a vase. I needed a holder for my phone and bought a mini striped deck chair. And so it went on.

The biggest test to my state of mind came a year ago when my husband decided that he would much prefer to have our huge bed to himself and I found myself banished to the spare room. This made me swallow hard but I put my shoulders back, thought hard and decided to make it a very special place. I bought a new mattress and beautiful bedding, painted the chest of drawers and bedside table and then added a table and chair. It’s now the loveliest room in the house and it’s all mine. Sometimes it’s about changing your thinking.

Thinking outside the box also came in useful a few months later when I found myself emotionally drained and needing some time to myself.  

A friend comes in once a week so I can have a day off, and I try not to waste that time.  This particular week, however, I was desperate to just do nothing, and remembered a website we’d used a couple of times when on holiday waiting for an overnight flight home. We’d booked a hotel room through the site (www.dayuse.com) just so that we had a base for that one day. I had a lightbulb moment and looked to see if there were any hotels near us that did such a thing and, sure enough, I found one about an hour away. I booked it (11am to 5pm) for my next day off, took lunch with me and spent the day in silent splendour. I read, slept, read some more, listened to the radio and had a perfectly wonderful time. Since then, friends have come forward with the offer of the use of their houses if they’re ever away. Sometimes all it takes is a few hours of solitude to get you back on track.

There are many more ways I’ve reclaimed myself, but you’re all busy people and I think this is enough for now. However, if you want to know more you can find me at www.memoryfortwo.com and even have your say.

Jane Robinson is a full time carer for her husband Ash, who was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia in December 2017, aged 58. You can follow Jane and Ash’s daily ‘adventures’ at www.memoryfortwo.com, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter @memory_two

Categories
Wellness

Mother’s Day: Reflections on the Journey of Motherhood

Six months ago, I was bestowed with a new title – the honor of Grandmother.  This new chapter in my life has given me a newfound look at the journey of motherhood – my path, my daughter’s, and the path of my mother who is no longer with us.  This Mother’s Day, my daughter and I shared and celebrated a new bond – what it truly, deeply means to physically and emotionally care for another.   

Soon after my grandson was born, this young woman whom I had diapered countless times was giving me a refresher course in how to change one.  Since a baby boy was on the bassinette table, I had a few excuses for the need to relearn this task that was suddenly foreign to me.  Diapers are different in design than they were years ago, and with a boy on his back I could have a fountain in front of me at any moment!  The day this baby was born was truly a milestone for all of us in the family. 

When a milestone occurs in our lives, whether happy or sad, we pause on our journey and breathe the joy or sorrow that pivotal point of celebration or mourning brings.  In the midst of such times, we may reflect upon the past and consider the future, yet we have no choice but to live in that moment that feels like an instant or a lifetime as we shed our tears of joy or pain.  Births, weddings, anniversaries, holidays, illnesses and deaths are these markers that force us to stop and look around us as well as inside of ourselves.

Living in the moment isn’t easy.  It’s something we have to relearn, unlike babies who are born in the immediacy of their needs and the wonder of their immediate world, albeit for only a short time as time soon becomes a reality in their lives.  As caregivers, we are often too busy, too exhausted, or too focused on anything else but the moment at hand in the care of someone whose time is in our hands.  As caregivers, especially of those with Alzheimer’s/dementia, those we care for teach us without trying, that the present is all we have and memories are gifts or curses that have no service to the moment where they stand.  What matters is where we sit in the present, like each individual pearl on the string of a necklace, delicate, translucent and unique.

In between milestones, in everyday life, it’s easy to wander into the past and try to predict the future.  I look at my daughter, a new mother, and recall when motherhood was new to me.  I gaze into the eyes of my grandchild and wonder how long we will share our lives together.  I think about the day my mother’s dying became a certainty, how I cared for her, and how my daughter will care for me in my last days.  

In May, we find ourselves reflecting upon the life of the woman who brought us into this world, whether in a shared memory with another or in the solitude of our mind.  At this time, our mother may be well, frail, have special needs, living with Alzheimer’s or dementia or simply a profound memory.  On that second Sunday in May, she may be at our side sharing in the joys of the day, or physically or mentally far away.  She may be a missing part of the puzzle of our life, a jagged piece shaped of anger-hurt that demands distance, or one with soft, rounded edges that longs to fit back in place in reconciliation.

We cannot change who allowed us our first breath, but we may change how we view that woman who gave us life.  Some of us have more than enough memories to keep us smiling throughout our lives, others have to search for a time when we felt loved.  In any case, at unexpected moments, we see our moms in ourselves, in the changing shapes of our hands or the timbre of our voices.  If we are looking for perfection, we won’t find it, although we like to hold these women to a high standard.  

For some of us, we are also on the other side of this complicated equation, as mothers ourselves with daughters, sons or both, who love us, judge us and spend many of their moments trying to find their way.  There is nothing like having a child to make us feel mortal – except for the realization when our mothers leave this world and we, at any age, have become the elder.  

At some point in our lives we will look at our mothers in a different way.  Whether our perspective shifts to a newfound gratitude or a newly realized forgiveness, we cannot deny the vestiges of that visceral connection we shared through the umbilical cord that joined us, then sent us on our way. 

How did Mother’s Day come to be? According to Google, “The official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the 1900s in the U.S. as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Following her mother’s 1905 death, she held a small memorial service for her mother on May 12, 1907.  She later conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.  Soon after, America was observing the day.  In 1914, the U.S. president made it a national holiday, celebrated on the second Sunday of May.”

Each year, as Mother’s Day comes and goes, may we approach our entrance into this world as a gift from one moment in time, and a lesson in caring for ourselves as well as others.  This year, my Mother’s Day held a new kind of celebration for me.  As Nonna, it was a day of wonder, gratitude and greater understanding of the value of each day.  On that day, I wore a string of pearls, mindful to keep my grandson from grabbing and putting it in his mouth while I held him in my arms.  For me, this necklace was a reminder of how we can only live one delicate, translucent and unique day at a time.


Mary is the author of The Planet Alzheimer’s Guide: 8 Ways the Arts Can Transform the Life of Your Loved One and Your Own, a speaker and advocate for arts engagement with persons with Alzheimer’s/dementia, the playwright of Planet A – a play about the inner world of Alzheimer’s, and an AlzAuthors member.

Categories
Mental Health

Nature Does Good Things to the Human Brain

As a child, my family did a lot of traveling. My parents loved to visit national parks and forests, state parks, and scenic byways of every kind. As fun as it was, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of nature displayed during those childhood trips until I was an adult.

The call of the beautiful wild

One afternoon, while my sister and I were talking about our various childhood trips and travels, she told me about her first trip to Sedona, Arizona as a grown-up. She and her husband were on their way to attend a wonderful, company-paid weekend of rest and relaxation. On their drive up to Sedona from the Phoenix airport, my sister confessed that even though this weekend trip sounded delightful, she had a lot on her mind and was feeling rather stressed. Besides, she was more of an ocean girl than a desert girl.

So, while she was brooding and remembering about all the responsibilities she should be taking care of instead of spending time in the desert, their car rounded a curve in the road. Suddenly, spread out in front of them was a spectacular sight. Sedona!

The vibrancy and variance of all the colors in the stone formations jutting upwards from the painted landscape to the brilliant blue sky created a vivid and mesmerizing scene. At that moment, my sister understood why Sedona, Arizona is called the Most Beautiful Place on Earth. She also realized the stress that had been plaguing her began melting away.

Nature is a natural mood enhancer

A study done at Stanford University confirms the de-stressing effect. It strongly suggests that getting out into natural environments could be an easy way to improve moods for city dwellers. Researchers discovered that people who visit natural settings have a lower stress hormones level immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside.

Taking a walk in the wild, with fresh air and natural light provides a world of benefits – like the room to breathe freely, and Vitamin D. Be sure to wear a hat to protect yourself from getting too much sunshine.

Nature writer for National Geographic, David Gessner also explains that science is proving what we have always known intuitively: nature does good things to the human brain—it makes us healthier, happier, and smarter.

The beauty of nature all dressed up for fall

My husband and I recently experienced a wonderful, stress-reducing journey as well. We traveled up through the New England states into Canada during this lovely fall season to visit family and enjoy Canadian Thanksgiving. The trees (especially in New Brunswick, Canada) are stunningly beautiful. They turn every color imaginable to create some of the most enchanting landscapes I have ever witnessed. I remembered what my sister had told me about her experience in Sedona. I could relate.

In spite of our busy lives, is there a few moments we can devote to soaking in a bit of natural beauty? Listen, what do you hear? It is the call of the (beautiful) wild.

Senia Owensby has always loved to write. Her passion for writing has produced a broad variety of literature, including Finishing Well: Finding the Joy in Dementia, a practical and sometimes humorous guide for the journey. She is also a member of AlzAuthors.

Senia lives in a small cottage in North Carolina. She’s married to the love of her life, and is also a mother and grandmother. Since retiring, she spends her time writing, beekeeping, and working in her garden.

Blog: finishingwellinlife.com

Facebook: Finishing Well for Caregivers

Twitter:  twitter.com/finishingwelli1

Instagram:  instagram.com/finishwell

Categories
Caregiving

How To Assemble The Right Care Team and Get The Support You Need

A health crisis can dawn upon you or your loved ones at any moment in life without any prior warning. Whether we are an adult or child, single or married, young or old, the health care needs of our family members should always be non-negotiable. It creates a challenging time that can be overwhelming, so it’s crucial to establish a reliable and efficient support system.

3 Ways to Make a Care Team

A core care team can help you manage your everyday caregiving responsibilities. This team may include close friends and family members or even close neighbors who can help with the day-to-day tasks and activities. A carefully selected caregiving team will make taking care of a loved one more manageable for you and make the sick person’s life better But, how do you effectively create a care team? Here are some tips to consider:

1. Identify Your Personal Needs

Before you can start assembling your care team, it’s essential to evaluate your health and daily needs. For example, do you have any chronic illnesses or disabilities that require ongoing support? Do you need help with daily activities like cooking and cleaning, or is it more about emotional support? Consider your own needs when determining what type of help you need from your care team.

2. Identify The Right Core Team Members

Once you have an idea of the kind of help you need, start reaching out to family and friends who you can deeply rely on and are happy and willing to help you in your health care journey. Apart from family members, this team can also include co-workers, neighbors, or anyone in your community. Keep in mind that you don’t have to rely solely on blood relatives – anyone who is supportive and genuinely cares for you can be a valuable member of your team. It’s ideal if you keep the size of the team to up to 5 members as it can avoid unwanted confusion and communication gap. 

3. Have An Honest Conversation

Once you’ve identified potential care team members, it’s a must to have an open and honest conversation about your needs and expectations. It can help ensure that everyone is on the same page. It’s also crucial to discuss what each person is comfortable with and their availability daily.

Read more: The Cost of at-Home Dementia Care

Download the Free Circle off App

Upon making an account on your CircleOf App, you can easily manage every daily caregiving activity. It’s a one-stop solution to manage and organize all your caregiving tasks. With the endless features of the app, such as real-time calendars, group messaging, and video calling, it gets highly convenient for your core team to execute the health care plan. Not just for the team but for the individual as well, the CircleOf is an excellent medium to connect with people going through similar circumstances. Suppose your core team faces challenges in managing your daily health care routine. In that case, there are ample resources constantly updated in the app to educate the team about taking care of their loved ones.

· Review And Update Regularly

 Like any other new change, it will take time to figure out the best caregiving routine for a specific individual. As a person’s needs change over a while, it’s essential to review your care team and ensure that everyone can still meet your needs. It might mean adding or adjusting their roles as needed. Keeping your care team up-to-date with the Circleof push notifications ensures that you get the support and help you need from those who can best provide it at a given time.

Assembling a good care team can be challenging, but with the right approach, it is possible. By being honest, open, and communicative with your team members, you can build a strong support network that will help you manage your mental health and the overall health of your loved ones more effectively.

Read more: 3 Tips That Make Dementia Care Less Frustrating

What Are The Importance Of Building A Care Team?

The importance of building a care team cannot be understated:

  1. It allows you to have a group of people dedicated to helping you with your care needs. You can be like an open book to them who you can share your happiness, sorrow, and even anger with.
  2. It can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed by your care responsibilities. Having a team can help share the load and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  3. It can help you find the support available for you and your caregivers.

 Having a team in place can help everyone stay positive and focused on providing quality care. Lastly, it can provide peace of mind knowing that a group of people are ready and willing to help you with whatever you need.

A care team provides support, advocacy, and education to patients and their families. They are an invaluable resource, offering guidance and assistance to both the patient and the individuals responsible for taking care of the family member. Furthermore, a care team can provide much-needed emotional support during what is often a very stressful time.

Read more: 7 Practical Yet Simple Steps to Improved Family Communication

When communicating with your care team, it’s important to be clear and concise. Be sure to include all relevant information when sending out updates, and don’t hesitate to ask questions if you’re unclear about something.

Effectively connect with your care team by utilizing a communication and organizing app like CircleOf. It’s the perfect tool to collaborate with your care team and quickly seek support when needed. You can take advantage of its unique features and build your all-star care team today!