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Caregiving

Top 5 Eye Problems Resulting From UV Exposure

We all know that UV radiation is harmful to our skin, but did you know that it can also cause a number of eye problems? These problems can range from minor irritation to severe damage that can lead to vision loss. Let’s take a look at the top five eye problems that can be caused by UV exposure!

5 Eye Conditions Caused By Sun Exposure

UV light is a type of electromagnetic radiation. It has a shorter wavelength than visible light, making it invisible to the human eye. Sources of UV lights are the sun, video display terminals, high-intensity mercury vapor lamps, xenon arc lamps, and welder’s flash.

 Exposure to UV radiation can cause several eye problems, including:

1. Photokeratitis

Photokeratitis is an eye condition caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial light sources like tanning beds. Symptoms include pain, inflammation, and decreased vision. Treatment of photokeratitis usually involves resting your eyes, using cold compresses, and taking over-the-counter pain relief medications. If the condition persists or worsens, you should see an eye doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

2. Pinguecula

Pinguecula is a condition that can cause yellowish, bumpy growths on the white part of your eye. These growths are caused by long-term exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Over time, these rays can damage the proteins and cells in the eye’s outermost layer. This damage can lead to the development of pinguecula.

Pinguecula is a relatively common condition, affecting an estimated 2 to 3 percent of all Americans. It is seen more often in people who spend a lot of time outdoors, particularly in sunny climates. People with fair skin and light-colored eyes are also at higher risk for developing pinguecula.

Most people with pinguecula do not experience any symptoms. In some cases, however, the condition can cause redness, irritation, and blurred vision. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see an eye doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

3. Pterygium

A pterygium (wing) is a wedge-shaped piece of flesh that projects from the corner of the eye. A pterygium may be congenital but more often is an acquired condition. It may be caused by various factors, including sun exposure, dust, fumes, and wind.

Pterygia are benign and do not metastasize, but they may grow large enough to cause astigmatism, blurred vision, or even blindness. Sometimes, pterygium can grow large enough to cover part of the pupil and affect vision. If this happens, you may need surgery to remove the pterygium. Pterygia can be alarming, but they are usually painless and do not require any treatment unless they grow large enough to cause problems with vision.

4. Cataracts

Cataracts are a common eye condition that results from sun exposure. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage the proteins in the lens of your eye, causing them to break down and clump together. This leads to a decrease in vision and, eventually, cataracts.

While most people associate cataracts with aging, young people can also develop this condition. In fact, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), about 20 percent of Americans with cataracts are under age 40. 

Aside from UV exposure, there are several other risk factors for cataracts, including diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, certain medications (such as steroids), and previous eye injury or surgery.

You may experience symptoms such as blurry vision, difficulty seeing at night, and increased sensitivity to light if you have cataracts. In the early stages, you may be able to improve your vision with new glasses or contact lenses. However, if cataracts progress, you will likely need surgery to remove them.

5. Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a deterioration of the macula, the small central area of the retina that controls our fine vision. It’s estimated that 1.75 million people suffer from this condition, primarily affecting those over 60. Although many cases are mild and don’t result in vision loss, some can be more severe and lead to a decline in vision or even blindness. There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. 

Dry macular degeneration is the most common type, accounting for about 80-90% of all cases. In this form of the disease, your macula slowly breaks down over time due to a buildup of waste products called drusen. While dry macular degeneration usually doesn’t lead to vision loss, it can progress to the wet form of the disease.

Wet macular degeneration is less common but more serious. In this form of the disease, abnormal blood vessels grow under your retina and leak fluid or blood. This can cause permanent damage to your macula and lead to a rapid decline in vision. Wet macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness. There is no cure for it yet, but there are treatments that can slow its progression and help preserve your vision.

Is someone from your family suffering from eye problems due to UV exposure? We know the struggles of being an unpaid caregiver to a loved one with disabilities like eye vision problems. To help you manage the stress and gather emotional support during these challenging times, we recommend you check the CircleOf app today!

The CircleOf app simplifies planning, communication, and finding resources for unpaid caregivers and patients. Download the app and give it a try. It’s free!

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Caregiving

What Are the Different Types of Rehabilitation Facilities?

Some people are more likely than others to need special medical care. For example, if someone you care for has had a stroke or brain injury, they may require physical rehabilitation services at a facility that can help them recover their mobility and resume living life fully again.
A person with Parkinson’s disease might also find value in these types of programs that focus on improving strength training techniques so as not to worsen symptoms caused by rigidity from decreased muscle control.
There are various types of rehabilitation facilities, each with its focus and level of care. The type of facility that’s right for someone will depend on their individual needs.

Long-term Acute Care Facilities

Long-term acute care facilities (LTACs) are a specific type of facility that provides care for patients with complex medical needs. LTACs are often used when patients no longer need the level of care provided by a hospital but still require more care than can be provided at home or in a nursing home.
LTACs usually have a team of specialists who work together to create a treatment plan for each patient. This team may include doctors, nurses, therapists, and other health care professionals. The goal of treatment is to help patients improve their health and quality of life.
Patients in an LTAC often have chronic illnesses or face multiple health problems. They may need help with activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, and bathing. They may also need assistance with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility

Inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) are another type of rehabilitation facility that provides care for patients who have had a recent hospital stay and need more time to recover before going home. IRFs are designed to help patients regain their independence. The care team at an IRF will create a custom rehabilitation plan for each patient. Inpatient rehabilitation facilities provide around-the-clock care for people recovering from severe injuries or illnesses.
According to occupational therapist Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L, of Emory Healthcare in Atlanta and founder of MyOTSpot.com, “Inpatient rehabilitation is the most aggressive, with patients having 3 hours a day of therapy about five days per week.” The length of stay at an IRF will vary from patient to patient. Some patients may only need a few days of care, while others may need a few weeks.

Skilled Nursing Facility

Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are rehabilitation centers that provide care for people who need skilled nursing or rehabilitation services. SNFs can be stand-alone facilities or part of a larger hospital complex. Services typically provided in an SNF include 24-hour RN coverage, Physical Therapy (PT), Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech Therapy, and long-term care.

A Skilled Nursing Facility is necessary when an individual can no longer complete activities of daily living (ADLs) on their own and requires assistance. The most common reason a person needs an SNF is because they are recovering from a surgery, illness, or injury and need help with activities such as bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, and eating. Some people also need skilled nursing care if they have a chronic illness such as dementia, heart failure, or diabetes.

How Therapy Helps

Physical rehabilitation facilities offer medical care and therapies to help patients recover from an injury or illness. There are many different types of therapies, but the goal of each one is to help patients regain their independence. 

The role of therapy in getting patients stronger is to help them regain lost function and improve their quality of life. therapies in physical rehabilitation facilities are a key part of this process, as they can help patients relearn how to perform everyday activities and build up their strength. “They are instrumental in working together to address each client’s deficits and improve independence and their level of function,” Stromsdorfer says. All these therapies aim to help the patient live as independently as possible.

  • Occupational helps patients regain their ability to perform activities of daily living. Occupational therapists teach patients how to do everyday tasks, such as dressing, eating, and bathing.
  • Speech therapy helps patients regain their ability to communicate. In addition, speech therapists work with patients to help them improve their speaking skills.
  • Physiotherapists can help them regain movement in their limbs.
  • Physical therapy helps patients regain their strength and mobility using exercises and other techniques to help patients improve their movement.

Find Your Options for Rehabilitation Services

As a family caregiver, you should be familiar with all the options for rehabilitation services to ensure that your loved ones are getting the best care they need. According to Stromsdorfer, the hospital’s therapist assesses the patient’s level of function and determines the best rehab for their case. “Don’t feel like you are alone in this decision as your acute care therapists and case managers are trained to help you with this decision,” she added.

If you’re finding it hard to decide the best rehab options, it is better to ask for help from a circle of care that may include family members, friends, and the community. With this, our CircleOf app can help. We keep you connected with your support networks and even provide resources to discover new caregiving tools, experts, and information.

When you’re overwhelmed with all the family caregiving ideas, download the app (for FREE) and get things done the stress-free way!

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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!

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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!

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Caregiving Dementia

3 Tips That Make Dementia Care Less Frustrating

When I tell people that I provide dementia care, the most common response is an exclamation of sympathy and a comment about how patient I must be. I know dementia caregiver stress is legitimate for many reasons and I can understand their reactions. But I’m not a particularly patient person and I rarely feel called upon to be patient with my clients. Why is that?

The secret to a more enjoyable experience in caring for someone who has dementia lies in our expectations. Here’s what my expectations are when I’m with someone who has dementia.

1—Reminders and memory-jogging will not work with dementia

When I was raising my children, I spent a lot of time explaining what they needed to do and then reminding them of what they had forgotten. When they had a test at school, I helped them by quizzing them on spelling words, times tables, and history facts. I expected repetition and reminders to be effective. They were effective, because my children had the ability to retrace their thought processes and recall information.

With my dementia clients, I do not expect memory testing to work. People experiencing dementia are losing memories, but they are also losing the ability to remember. Quizzing them or jogging their memory will not help them remember. It will only make them feel embarrassed, inadequate, and lost. Instead of trying to jog their memory, I happily repeat whatever information they need, whenever they need it. My expectations are aligned with their abilities.

2—A person with dementia will read my feelings and moods expertly

I expect people who are experiencing dementia to be operating without rational thought, yet their intuitive thought systems to be operating normally. This means that they will be experiencing none of the distraction our rational thought systems provide and have all the more time to read my feelings and moods.

Whenever I am with someone experiencing dementia, I assume the role of mood creator. I make sure that I am not radiating sadness, concern, or amazement at their impairments. For both of us, I am looking for something beautiful, funny, or heartwarming to enjoy. There is always something from one of those categories available in the present. If not, we go for a walk or drive to find it. I know managing mood is my responsibility.

Build your own circle of care

Download the app and give it a try. It’s free!

3—Rational thought will not be available to someone with dementia

I think of dementia and rational thought in terms of functions. The top three functions I do not expect my clients to be able to perform are seeing cause and effect, prioritizing ideas or actions, and being able to follow the steps of a task or sequence. Because I don’t expect them to be able to do these things, I don’t become frustrated when they can’t. I understand that they don’t have those skills and use my own when they’re necessary.

So, although it seems obvious to me that icy sidewalks mean dangerous walking, I don’t expect it to be apparent to my clients. And when we need to get ready to go somewhere on time, I focus our attention on the next thing that needs to be done, not on the destination or looming deadline. When a task needs to be done, we do it together as teammates.

When our expectations match our companions’ capabilities, there is less dementia caregiver stress and less stress for the person experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s. This is the secret to lowering frustration and stress for both partners in the dementia care experience.

Judy Cornish is a former eldercare lawyer and the former owner of Palouse Dementia Care, a dementia care agency that provides in-home dementia care to seniors in northern Idaho. She is the author of Dementia With Dignity and The Dementia Handbook as well as the creator of the DAWN Method of dementia care. Judy believes that with a little training, families can provide excellent dementia care at home with less stress and more companionship. www.thedawnmethod.com 

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Caregiving

Important Caregiver Skills To Keep Seniors Happy In Their Home

It’s no secret that the key to keeping seniors happy and healthy in their own homes is providing them with excellent care and love. But what are the specific skills that caregivers need to have to provide this high level of care? In this article, we will discuss some of the most important skills that are essential for keeping seniors happy and thriving at home!

What are some important caregiver skills to keep seniors happy in their homes?

Communication

Communication skills are one of the most important skills a caregiver can have. Seniors are likely to experience feelings of loneliness, anxiety, depression, and more when they don’t get the level of communication they need.

Communicating with seniors provides them with a sense of socialization which is essential for their mental health. It’s important to communicate not only with your senior residents but also with family members who live nearby. You want to be able to share information about your senior’s moods, routines, and preferences so you can better understand each other and make sure everyone is getting what they need.

You need to be able to communicate effectively with your elderly patient in order to understand their needs and wants. Additionally, being a good listener is key – make sure you listen carefully to what they have to say and try to offer solutions that meet their needs.

  • Importance of Communication: Seniors can feel left out or ignored if they don’t feel like they are part of the conversation. Make sure to talk to them about their day, what they are watching on TV, or what they are reading. This will help keep them engaged and feeling connected to their loved ones.

senior-woman-with-trainer-exercising

Flexibility

Being a caregiver requires being flexible. Whether that means altering your schedule to accommodate your elderly loved one’s needs or simply being willing to go with the flow, it’s important to be flexible. Being inflexible will only lead to frustration for both you and your loved one.

Caregiving often requires flexibility, as plans can change at the last minute or unexpected challenges may arise. It’s important to be able to adapt and adjust as needed, to provide the best possible care for your elderly patient.

Organization

One of the most important caregiver skills is being organized. It involves creating a schedule and sticking to it. It also means keeping track of medications, doctor’s appointments, and other important tasks. Good organizational skills will help keep seniors happy and healthy in their homes.

It can be helpful to create a schedule or routine for your elderly patient, in order to make things run smoothly and help them know what to expect each day. Additionally, staying on top of their medications and medical appointments is crucial – be sure to keep track of everything and make any necessary changes as needed.

Emotional Support

Research suggests that seniors who are unhappy and distressed tend to have poorer physical health. With this in mind, caregivers need to be able to provide emotional support to elderly clients.

Caring for an elderly person is not just about providing them with food and shelter; elders also require social interaction. This means that as a caregiver, you need to make time for activities that promote physical and mental stimulation. These could include going on walks or playing games like checkers or chess. However, the most important task of providing emotional support is paying attention and listening to their stories.

  • Importance of Companionship: Another important caregiver skill is companionship. Seniors can feel isolated and lonely if they don’t have someone to talk to or spend time with. Make sure to visit with them often, take them for walks, or just sit and chat with them. This will help keep them connected to the world around them.

Physical Assistance

Caregivers provide seniors with physical assistance when they need help with tasks such as bathing, dressing, using the restroom, and eating. This type of assistance is essential for seniors who have difficulty performing these activities on their own.

Caregivers also play an important role in providing emotional support to seniors. They may be the only ones that seniors interact with on a daily basis, so it’s important that caregivers are able to provide companionship and healthy conversations. In addition, caregivers can provide support and reassurance to seniors who are dealing with memory loss or another cognitive decline.

Knowledge of Activities and Sensory Stimuli

One of the most important things that caregivers need to be aware of is the activities and sensory stimuli that their seniors are interested in. Seniors get bored easily, so it’s important to provide them with a variety of sensory experiences. For example, you may notice that your senior loves to do crossword puzzles but does not like doing crafts. Knowing this will help you keep them from getting bored by providing them with more activities that they enjoy doing.

  • Importance of Activities: Another important caregiver skill is providing activities for seniors. Make sure to provide them with puzzles, games, or other activities that will help keep their mind active. This will help keep them happy and busy.

Sense of Humor

One of the most important caregiver skills is a sense of humor. It’s very important to be able to laugh at yourself and the situation. There will be days when things are just not going right, and a sense of humor can help diffuse the tension.

A caregiver’s sense of humor will make all the difference in a senior’s mood. Whether you’re watching an old movie with them or telling jokes, laughter is a guaranteed mood booster! Another way to add humor to their day is by taking pictures of funny things around the house and sharing them with them.

Patience

Dealing with seniors can sometimes be challenging, especially if they are experiencing cognitive decline or other age-related issues. It’s important to be patient and have an understanding with them and take the time to explain things clearly.

Patience is one of the most important caregiver skills to have. Seniors can take a long time to do anything, from getting dressed to brushing their teeth. Plus, they’re often forgetful and might need help with things like keeping track of medications or remembering how to use the stove. Being patient will make this experience much easier for you and your senior.

Problem Solving Techniques

One of the key caregiver skills that are needed to keep seniors happy and healthy in their own homes is goal-oriented thinking. Goal-oriented thinking is using a systematic approach for problem-solving, for example by first defining the problem and then figuring out what needs to be done to fix it.

For example, if you notice that your senior’s medicine has been sitting on the kitchen counter for days, you might ask them if they’ve forgotten to take their medicine yet again. Then, you would encourage them to make a plan with you as they get ready for bed–perhaps they’ll put their pillbox next to their bedside table so they can see it when they wake up in the morning.

This way, your senior will know what needs to happen in order to remember to take their medication at night before bed. If the senior still forget one night, then you would follow through with your original plan of putting the pillbox next to their bedside table so that after one day of forgetting errors, it becomes a habit and easier for them.

Give-an-Elderly-Person-a-Shower

Why is it important for caregivers to have these skills?

Because seniors are living longer these days and many are dealing with chronic pain and illness, caregivers need to provide a high level of care for them. This is where the importance of caregiver skills comes into play. And it’s not just about being able to do physical tasks like dressing, bathing, and feeding them. There are also emotional skills that caregivers need, like being compassionate, understanding, patient, and supportive.

How can caregivers provide emotional support to seniors?

Caregivers can provide emotional support to seniors by spending time with them, listening to them, and being patient with them. They should also be able to understand the emotions that seniors are feeling and be able to respond in a supportive way.

Additionally, caregivers should be aware of the signs of depression and anxiety in seniors so that they can provide appropriate support. Finally, caregivers should create a positive environment for seniors by providing encouragement and showing empathy. By doing these things, caregivers can help seniors feel happy in their homes.

How can caregivers help seniors stay social and active?

One of the best ways caregivers can help seniors stay social and active is by providing transportation to events and activities. This can include anything from doctor’s appointments to religious services to community gatherings. Caregivers can also encourage seniors to get involved in activities they enjoy, such as arts and crafts, gardening, or playing cards.

Another way caregivers can help seniors stay social and active is by helping them maintain contact with friends and family members. This can be done through phone calls, emails, letters, or even video chats. Caregivers can also help set up outings with friends or family members so that seniors have something to look forward to.

In addition to providing transportation and helping maintain contact with loved ones, caregivers can also help seniors stay active by providing assistance with household chores. This can free up time for seniors to participate in activities they enjoy or simply relax. Caregivers can also help seniors stay active by leading or joining in on exercises, such as walks around the neighborhood or light stretching.

By providing transportation, helping maintain contact with loved ones, and assisting with household chores, caregivers can help seniors stay social and active. These things can go a long way in keeping seniors happy in their homes.

What are some common challenges faced by caregivers of seniors?

One of the most common challenges faced by caregivers of seniors is providing adequate care while also respecting the seniors’ independence. It can be difficult to find a balance between helping with activities of daily living and giving seniors the space to do things on their own.

Another challenge caregivers often face is dealing with changes in the seniors’ health. As people age, they are more likely to experience declining health. This can be difficult for caregivers who are trying to keep their loved ones comfortable and safe at home.

Finally, many caregivers struggle with managing their stress levels. Caring for a senior can be demanding, both emotionally and physically. Caregivers need to find ways to manage their stress to avoid burnout.

How can caregivers manage difficult behaviors from seniors?

There are a few ways that caregivers can manage difficult behaviors from seniors. One way is to try and understand the reason for the behavior. Another way is to provide support and assistance in areas where the senior may be struggling. Finally, it is important to remain calm and patient when dealing with difficult behaviors.

If you are a caregiver, it is important to have a solid understanding of these strategies for managing difficult behaviors. By doing so, you will be better equipped to handle any challenges that may come up. Additionally, your senior will be more likely to remain happy in their home if they feel supported by their caregiver.

What are some helpful resources for caregivers of seniors?

There are many helpful resources for caregivers of seniors. One great resource is the Family Caregiver Alliance. The Family Caregiver Alliance is a national non-profit organization that provides support and services to caregivers of seniors. Another great resource is the National Institute on Aging.

The National Institute on Aging is a government agency that provides information and resources on aging and health. Finally, the Administration on Community Living is another great government resource that provides information and assistance to caregivers of seniors. These are just a few of the many wonderful resources available to help you care for your senior loved one.

Conclusion

Caregivers are crucial for providing necessary care for seniors. They are there for the seniors when their family members can’t be. They have to have certain skills to do their jobs well.

If you’re considering becoming a caregiver, or if you already are one, make sure you have the skills needed to keep seniors happy in their homes, use our caregiver app to help you with all your caregiving need.

Read more: The Cost of at-Home Dementia Care

Categories
Caregiving Finance Planning Ahead

Elder Care and Money: A Shock for Many Family Caregivers

Today, most long-term care doesn’t happen in an institution, rather it takes place in our homes. This is one reason that family caregivers are a rapidly growing demographic across the U.S. It is estimated that 95% of community-dwelling seniors today rely on help from unpaid family or friends. Family caregivers are providing high levels of care to loved ones and juggling other competing priorities in their lives. This makes family caregiving a pretty overwhelming experience. 

Care needs change, often, and many times in ways that are out of control of the caregiver. There are countless tasks that need to be completed daily, taking considerable time out of the caregiver’s schedule. It’s all enough to make most caregivers throw up their hands. But then there’s the expense of elder care. The fact that caregiving requires so much out-of-pocket spending is often a major surprise to caregivers, and a big contributor to feelings of overwhelm and stress. 

This month, we partnered with Elder Care Solutions to highlight key topics related to the costs of care. They work with families across the nation to tackle the financial strain of elder care and guide them towards a more financially positive caring and aging experience. 

Let’s start by taking a look at the realities of care costs. Here’s a breakdown of the types of care and their costs so you can make informed decisions about the level of care that’s right for your elderly loved one(s). 

The Realities of Care Costs

Type of careWhat it isCosts and coverage options
Home Care / Homemaker Services / Home aidesHelp when you need an extra hand. 

Home care staff typically includes certified nursing assistants to support individuals staying at home. 
Usually available 24-hours a day and 7-day a week, including holidays

Will create tailored care plans for occasional or ongoing assistance.

Services can be scheduled in increments (i.e. 2-hour block up to 24 hours)

Types of care tasks provided: 
Laundry
Dog walking
Companionship
Taking out garbage
Making bed
Changing linens
Organizing/cleaning closets
Meal preparation
Transportation for errands, shopping, doctor appointments
Bathing 
Dressing 
Hygiene
National average hourly rate is $26/hour

Covered by insurance policy: SOMETIMES
 
Covered by Medicare: NO (unless you are also getting skilled nursing care)

Covered by Medicaid: YES

Covered by VA benefits:
Adult Day CareDaytime care for loved ones that can not stay home alone safely. 

Usually available for a 12-hour window during the day (i.e. 7AM to 7PM).

Have professional staff to assist with various health needs during the day. 

Enrichment activities are offered including music, group outings, art, exercise, games, etc. Provide meals and snacks during the day. 

Individualized care plans.

Most have support groups for family caregivers.

Types of care tasks provided: 
Medication management
Memory stimulation
Meals 
Health assessments
Health monitoring
Dementia care 
Post-hospitalization recovery care 
Physical, occupational, and speech therapy
National average: $78 per day

Covered by insurance policy: SOMETIMES
 
Covered by Medicare: Most often NO

Covered by Medicaid: YES

Covered by VA benefits: YES
Home HealthComprehensive care for individuals with the aim to get better from their illnesses. 

Available 24-hours a day and 7-days a week. 

Professional nursing and therapy services.

Individualized care plans. 

Many provide family caregiver and patient education. 

Types of care tasks provided: 
Medication management
Pain management
Care coordination
Wound care
Nutrition management
Injections
National average: $27 per hour

Covered by insurance policy: SOMETIMES
 
Covered by Medicare: Covers physical, occupational, and speech therapies at home.

Covered by Medicaid: YES

Covered by VA benefits: YES
HospiceComprehensive care for individuals facing life-limiting illnesses. 

Available 24-hours a day and 7-days a week. 

Care is overseen by a physician and comes with a healthcare team including nurses, social worker, dietitian, physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, speech therapists, pharmacists, etc. 

Many offer additional therapies such as music, art, pet, and bereavement.

Types of care tasks provided:
Medication management and monitoring
Patient and caregiver education
Pain management
Skilled nursing
Tube feedings and enterals
IV medication administration 
Comfort care
National average: $160-$200 per day for Level 1 in-home care 2-3 days a week.

Covered by insurance policy: SOMETIMES
 
Covered by Medicare: YES

Covered by Medicaid: YES, if the physician deems “terminally ill”.

Covered by VA benefits: YES
Assisted LivingPersonalized care for elderly loved ones in a residential living situation. 

Provides 24/7 care, but only to a certain level. 

If a resident needs higher levels of care, home health agencies can come in and provide nursing care, for an additional cost. 

Care is provided by professional staff.

Types of care tasks provided: 
Medication management
Assistance with bathroom, dressing and grooming
Housekeeping
Meal preparation
Laundry
Transportation services 
Socialization
Memory care in some
National average: $4,500 per month

Covered by insurance policy: NO 

Covered by Medicare: NO

Covered by Medicaid: May cover specific services within the assisted living facility.

Covered by VA benefits: Some under the Aid and Attendance benefit.
Nursing HomeA nursing home provides long-term residential care by licensed practical nurses and nurse aides under the supervision of a registered nurse. The goal is to provide a safe, comfortable and caring environment for people who are unable to live independently.

Types of care tasks provided: 
Dressing and bathing
Meals
Physical therapy
Occupational therapy
Speech therapy
National average: $7,900 per month for semi-private room$9,000 per month for private room

Covered by insurance policy: Possible

Covered by Medicare: Only if at the skilled nursing level of care.

Covered by Medicaid: YES, for certain services within the nursing home.

Covered by VA benefits: YES
Skilled Nursing CareSkilled nursing care is residential care provided by trained registered nurses in a medical setting under a doctor’s supervision. It’s similar to the level of nursing care you get in the hospital. 

Many times patients go from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility to continue recovering after an illness, injury or surgery. 

The goal is to get well enough to go home.

Types of care tasks provided: 
24/7 nursing care
Meals
Bathing
Physical therapy
Occupational therapy
Speech therapy
Wound care
IV therapies
Injections
National average: $7,900 per month for semi-private room$9,000 per month for private room

Covered by insurance policy: YES

Covered by Medicare: YES, typically for 100 days.

Covered by Medicaid: YES

Covered by VA benefits: YES
Palliative CareSpecialized medical care for serious illnesses. 

The focus is on relief of symptoms and quality of life. Not necessarily just for dying patients. Can be provided alongside curative care.

Care is provided 24/7 by specially trained doctors, nurses, and other specialists.
 
Types of care tasks provided: 
Pain management
Management of depression and anxiety
Management of nausea
Emotional support
Spiritual support
Covered by insurance policy: YES

Covered by Medicare: YES, typically for 100 days.

Covered by Medicaid: YES

Covered by VA benefits: YES
Resource: This tool by Genworth allows you to choose your locality and see the costs of different levels of care:  https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html

Let’s look now at some common financial concerns for caregivers. As we talk about each, we provide a tip to help you start considering how this might apply to your situation. 

Financial Concern 1: Medicaid 

As you can see from the chart above, having Medicaid makes paying for care a whole lot easier. Medicaid is society’s safety net for providing long-term care service when we’ve outlived our financial resources. Problem is, most people today ARE outliving their financial resources! 

Many families start thinking about Medicaid eligibility when they see care costs piling up. So why doesn’t everyone use Medicaid to cover their care needs? Well, it’s really tricky. Here are some major reasons why. 

  1. There’s a lot of paperwork required to tap into this benefit. Not just a lot, but also fairly complicated to complete. So, it’s best to assume Medicaid could be a real need in the future and plan for eligibility early. Most families wait until the need has already arrived and then realize significant consequences for having waited that long. 
  2. The qualifications are scary. It is entirely possible to be flat broke, needing care, and still be ineligible for Medicaid according to their rules. Medicaid acceptance is based on financial eligibility. This means that total assets cannot exceed the criteria, which is around $4,000 for a married couple. Checking and savings accounts, retirement accounts, annuities, and cash-value life insurance plans are all counted, to name some. This makes eligibility a really difficult decision for families, especially when they’ve worked hard to save and want to leave a legacy. There are tactics, however, for families to become eligible and protect assets. 
  3. There are penalties. There is a 5-year lookback period for Medicaid applicants related to any prior gifts made by the applicant. These will be penalized or could result in Medicaid denial. The rationale is that since the benefits are need-based, the applicant’s gifts made prior to application should be considered as countable assets. One guarantee for everyone applying for Medicaid is the surfacing of any mistakes. They will reveal themselves. Better to learn about them earlier, when a plan can be put into place to mitigate them, then they pop up during a worse time.

Tip: Becoming eligible for Medicaid is separate from using it. The best plan is one where timing is the top concern. WHEN will funds hit the critical figure so it’s time to pull the trigger on using Medicaid? Your best planning partner here is an attorney specializing in Medicaid eligibility. It is common for your first consultation to be free, so tap into that resource soon.

Financial Concern 2: Taxes: ‘Tis the season! What family caregivers should know about taxes.

When it comes to long-term care and taxes, carefully consider the following. Benefits from long-term care insurance are generally non-taxable and the premiums are deductible. Although, state laws may differ, so best to learn as soon as you start using a policy. Additionally, pay attention to previous non-taxed income years, as well as when certain expenses qualify as deductible. The key here, recruit help from a tax expert. 

The good news is there are tax benefits! 

  1. The 2017 federal tax law expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to allow taxpayers to claim up to $500 as a nonrefundable “Credit for Other Dependents,” including elderly parents. There are some criteria that have to be met. 
  2. Care costs are normally deductible, but only to the extent that they exceed 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income. 
  3. You may use Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to pay your dependent’s medical bills, copays, insurance deductibles, over-the-counter medical supplies, personal protective equipment, and even for some treatments not covered by insurance. Remember, if you pay using an FSA or HSA, you cannot take a tax deduction for that bill as a medical expense.
  4. For the 2021 tax year, you can claim a portion of up to $4,000 in caregiving costs for one person and up to $8,000 for two or more. This tax credit does not require that your loved one qualify as your dependent in certain circumstances. But there are rules for when you can claim it.

Tip: Tax law is constantly changing, obtaining professional tax advice, preferably from a CPA is critical. If possible, one who works regularly with caregiving tax issues. You’ll find these professional fees will pay for themselves twice; often in measurable tax benefits. Check out the AARP article about taxes HERE to dive deeper into the criteria for tax benefits above.

Financial Concern 3: Getting Paid: With so many family caregivers providing 21+ hours a week on care tasks, it’s easy to wonder if this could be a job you can get compensated for. Can a family caregiver get paid for the care they provide?  

  1. Some Medicaid-funded programs are available to pay family caregivers.
  2. Most Long-Term Care insurance policies will permit the family member who has earned certain credentials to be paid at market rates.
  3. The VA pension benefit for wartime veterans has a program under which family caregivers can be paid.

Tip: Because most family caregiver paid programs exist either through or in conjunction with Medicaid, your residential state will impact what is available to you. The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Services by State tool. After finding your state, check the “Caregiver Compensation” section to see what is available. 

While finances can be a shock when caring for loved ones, there is empowerment in knowing some solutions. You can start down a more empowered path when you start accessing tools, like the CircleOf app, and resources to overcome your unique care challenges. 

Kimberly Whiter

Kimberly Whiter is the CEO of Elder Care Solutions. She is on a mission to tackle the financial crisis happening across the U.S. as families face the overwhelming and unsustainable costs of elder care.

Categories
Alzheimer's Caregiving Dementia

5 Tips to Encourage Wonder in Those Living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Caring for another human being is hard work and extremely complicated. There are so many things you have to consider including daily chores, family responsibilities, healthcare, respite, and self-care. Who has time to play? Or how do you encourage wonder in those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia? First let’s define wonder. Google defines wonder as, “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.” Or as a verb, “desire or be curious to know something.”

Wonder is exactly what I saw in the faces of seniors living with Alzheimer’s and dementia in memory care communities when I first introduced LEGODuplo bricks and pieces to them. The majority of my clients were in the mid- to late stages of the disease. When I hand them a mini figure (LEGO people) or accessory, they aren’t sure what they are seeing at first, then they focus on the cute faces and accessories and they smile. Your job with this activity is to show them how they connect, teach them how to make silly characters, or build things they recognize and see the laughter and joy begin.

Please keep in mind, you simply can’t put LEGO bricks and pieces in front of the elderly and expect them to know what to do with it. You have to create a space for them to feel safe and encourage curiosity, be willing to try something new, be open-minded and vulnerable. It’s easier than it sounds. Let me explain how it works.

  1. Create a Safe Space – you need a large flat surface with plain single color cloth or single color surface. A busy tablecloth will distract from the colors and figures the bricks have to offer. The pieces will literally be lost to them. I had one community set out a LEGO tablecloth with the best of intentions but some of the residents kept trying to pick up the pieces from the tablecloth print. Make it easy for them to see the pieces they have to choose from. Lay out all the pieces for them. Make it easy for them to see everything all at once. Remember kids will dig through a bucket to find a piece, seniors will not.
  2. Encourage curiosity – music is a great way to help your caree (the person you are caring for) feel good and engage with you and this activity. Find the music they grew up listening to. It’s usually the music they listened to in their late teens, early twenties. Play this music while you introduce them to building and watch them smile, sing and possibly dance in their chairs. Music has been shown to work very well with those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. LEGO’s innate system of play encourages curiosity and the music sets up the mood.
  3. Be willing to try something new – introducing Duplo bricks and pieces to the elderly might seem strange at first. When I began this program in 2017, I wasn’t sure if it would work. It was a huge success! The administrators from various communities would tell me their residents were happier even days after our activity ended. Most asked me to come back on a weekly basis. So I recommend doing this activity at least once a week. We found that the people we worked with found a sense of purpose, meaning and agency from building. It gave them the ability to express themselves. Some build towers, others build with one color or sort the pieces into colors or like pieces, and others would fill baseplates, decorate buildings or scenes with people and animals. Check out #MyFavoriteDuplo on my Instagram (@MoBrickz) or TikTok (@BrickByBrickBonding) to see my favorite pieces when working with seniors living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  4. Be open-minded – unconscious bias is a thing and unfortunately some people think that a child’s toy or playing is somehow ageist. I respectfully disagree. I believe playing is how we express ourselves and figure out the world around us. For those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia who struggle to find the right words can use an activity like this to create a sense of wonder again. Those 80 and above might not be familiar with LEGO bricks and pieces and that’s okay. I can help you find the right kit and introduce this activity to your loved one. You too can gain a sense of wonder building with LEGO bricks and pieces if you stay open-minded and see all the possibilities LEGO building has to offer.
  5. Be vulnerable – the beauty of building with LEGO bricks and pieces is that there is no right or wrong when building. Putting two pieces together is a success. I’ve had many carees try to put the pieces together backwards. I used to correct them and it made them anxious and angry. Instead give them the space to keep trying. I have found that most of them don’t give up. Sometimes, they might put a piece down and try another piece or they simply keep trying. I admire that so much! It’s especially satisfying to see someone struggle for a few minutes and then figure it out. I usually exclaim, “Yay! You figured out how the pieces fit together, congratulations! You did a good job!” This always brings a smile to their face. I mean who doesn’t like to be praised when we find a solution to a problem?

Brick By Brick Bonding™ was created to help caregivers and their carees find joy and wonder. This revolutionary activity gives those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia meaning, purpose, and agency. Create a safe space to add joy to you and your caree’s life, add your loved one’s favorite music to encourage curiosity, be willing to try something new to find your sense of wonder, be open-minded and try new things, and be vulnerable because you never know what amazing connections you will make.

Patty Sherin

Patty Sherin is a lover of the brick. Patty shares her love of LEGOⓇ bricks and pieces with kids, adults and seniors to develop their creativity and express themselves. Patty has encouraged seniors living with dementia to build with LEGO bricks and pieces as a way to bring out joy and laughter. Prior to the pandemic Patty worked with Memory Care Communities. Now she shares what she’s learned with family caregivers. As a Certified Caregiver Consultant and creator of Brick By Brick Bonding™ she understands the fatigues and challenges that plague caregivers and has found strategies to help throughout the caregiving journey. Follow us on Instagram – @mobrickz, Twitter – @mo_brickz, TikTok – @BrickByBrickBonding or visit us @ https://mobrickz.com

Categories
Caregiving Community

How To Hire A Nurse For Home Care

Looking for a nurse to help take care of a loved one at home? It can be tough to know where to start. There are many things to consider when hiring a nurse for home care. But if you take the time to find the right person, it can be an immensely rewarding experience for you and your family. With the right nurse, you can rest assured that your loved one is receiving the best possible care.

  1. Decide What Type Of Nurse You Need

The first step is to decide what type of nurse you need. There are many different types of caregiving professionals, each with their specialties. You will want to choose a nurse with the experience and skills required to care for your loved one. For example, if your loved one has dementia, you will want to hire a nurse with expertise in dementia care.

Type Of Nurse You Need

  1. Check references and credentials

Once you have decided on a nurse, it is important to check their references and credentials. Ask the nurse for a list of references and call them to ask about their experience with the nurse. You should also check the nurse’s credentials to ensure they are qualified to do the job. If you are not comfortable checking the nurse’s references or certifications, you can hire a professional service to do it for you.

Check references and credentials

  1. Interview the nurse

After you have checked the references and credentials of the nurse, it is time to interview them. This is your chance to get to know the nurse and ask any questions you may have. Some things you may want to ask about include:

– Their experience in caring for patients with your loved one’s condition

– Their availability to work

– Their fees

You may also want to ask the nurse how they would go about caring for your loved one. This will give you a good idea of their care plan and whether or not it is a good fit for them. After the interview, take some time to think about whether or not you want to hire the nurse. If you decide not to go ahead with it, be sure to let the nurse know and thank them for their time.

Interview the nurse

The Benefits Of Hiring A Nurse For Home Care

Nurses are highly trained professionals who can provide quality care for your loved ones. Here are some of the top benefits of hiring private nursing care at home:

  • Nurses have the training and experience to provide expert care. They can help people recover from an illness or injury and manage chronic health conditions.
  • Nurses can provide companionship and support for your loved one. They can help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and grooming.
  • Nurses can also provide respite care, which gives you a break from caregiving duties. This can be a valuable service if you are feeling overwhelmed or burned out.

Finding A Caregiving Support

At CircleOf, Inc., we understand that caregiving support is critical for families caring for loved ones with chronic illnesses. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to find a qualified caregiver to do the job. This leads them to giving up their personal lives and become full-time unpaid caregivers.

Family and friends who take this role often feel isolated and alone in their journey, but resources are available to help you. The first step in finding support is reaching out to others in a similar situation. Many communities and support groups are available, both in-person and online. These groups can provide caregivers with information, advice, and support.

Another excellent resource for caregivers is the Alzheimer’s Association. The Association provides education, resources, and support to families affected by dementia. They also have a national helpline that caregivers can call for help.

Finally, it is important to take care of yourself as a caregiver. You need to make sure you are getting enough rest, exercise, and socialization. Taking time for yourself will help you stay strong and healthy while caring for a loved one with dementia.

Fortunately, our CircleOf app allows you to do just that! We aim to facilitate unpaid care through features that promote care support and socialization.

CircleOf is an app that helps connect patients, caregivers, and families in managing the stress of caring for loved ones. It’s simple to use and will also open your door to the different communities where you’ll be able to reach out to other people and receive emotional support.

CircleOf is available free of charge on both iOS and Android devices. So, if you’re looking for nursing support, be sure to download the CircleOf app today!

Categories
Alzheimer's Caregiving Community

Books Can Make the Difference on the Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s Journey

Reading often closely follows our personal progression in life. As we mature and our interests and life situations change and develop, so do our reading patterns.

My progression began with nursery rhymes and Golden Books that filled my imagination, then came Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames, who fueled my ambitions, followed by the requisite period of academia preparing me for “real life.” By the time I reached adulthood, my attention turned to the New York Times Bestseller List, and the occasional beach book.

For some, reading will become a way of life as they devour books; for others, a lovely, welcome pastime; for the esoteric, an experience or quest for advanced knowledge, and for a few, a necessity when an unknown arises. If you are a caregiver, no matter where you fall on the spectrum, reading will become your source of knowledge, your advisor, your friend, and your savior in those lost moments.

Having always been a reader it was inevitable I would turn to books upon the diagnosis of my husband’s early-onset Alzheimer’s. Books are what helped me make sense of an almost untenable situation, answered questions when there seemed to be no answers, provided direction in a sea of darkness, and helped me not feel so adrift. For those of you who are not readers or are occasional readers, I can assure you books, podcasts, and blogs will serve you well.

When I was a caregiver, AlzAuthors, the global community of authors writing about dementia from personal experience,  did not exist. But if it did, I can tell you with great certainty that my foray into the genre of caregiving books would begin with my urgent need to understand what I was dealing with. 

That was not an easy task at that time, as there was a myriad of books out there to sort through and decipher, almost as overwhelming as the disease itself. Thank goodness today for the AlzAuthors Bookstore, whose vast collection is sorted out by categories, enabling the reader to quickly hone in on specific needs at specific times.

If I were a new caregiver today, I would head right to the Caregiver Guides Section to peruse the selections in search of information and understanding about Alzheimer’s, followed by checklists and to-do guides to help me through the initial shock and start me on the caregiver path. Under Memoirs I would look for stories to inspire, illuminate, support, and help me not feel so alone.

One of the things I would be thankful for is the now firsthand information on early-onset dementia, something that was missing years ago. The honesty of the authors combined with their various coping methods helps readers feel less judgmental about themselves and their situation.

On a self-indulgent whim, I would purchase books under the Fiction category to go on a much-needed escape. And since I wouldn’t have much time to read (what caregiver has time?), the AlzAuthors blog is a real gift.

When one is dealing with a catastrophic illness, the sense of isolation, be it physical, mental, social, or emotional, can be daunting and overwhelming. It is no wonder some caregivers suffer various degrees of depression or feel isolated as their world shrinks in so many ways. The gift of reading helps to alleviate some of that by sharing other perspectives, and imparting knowledge.

While it is not a replacement for actual friends or family, reading is a wonderful substitute that is always there and available. The vast range of knowledge from clinical, to checklists and facts, to personal, all covering the range from diagnosis till the end, is what allows caregivers to stay on the path and complete their journey intact. Preparation and knowledge are among the top skills any caregiver can possess.

I am grateful to all the authors who accompanied me on my journey, whose dog-eared pages sat faithfully on my nightstand, whose eBooks and audiobooks let me read during those times when I had so little time. To be provided with such comfort, knowledge, direction, and insight was truly an invaluable gift.

About the Author

Susan’s background reflects her versatility. A wife, mother, grandmother, she has also been a schoolteacher, a realtor, a sales professional, a corporate trainer, a counselor, and a consultant and speaker on various aspects of Alzheimer’s and dementia. She holds a master’s degree in counseling and human resource development. She is the author of My Life Rearranged, a contributor to AlzAuthors.com, and a caregiver advocate.

Connect with Susan G.Miller

Website: AlzheimerCaregiverAdvocate.com

Amazon page

AlzAuthors Page

Ambassador and contributor to The Caregiver Connection on Facebook