The Value of a Caregiver Support Group

Are you caring for a loved one or friend that is ill or has a disability? If so, then you join the group of over 75 million unpaid caregivers to someone 18 or older who is ill or has a disability – according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Many caregivers are holding down full time jobs and caring for their own children and sacrificing time for much needed rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. They are “unsung heros” that are devoted to helping out without the benefit of a paycheck or oftentimes even a thank you. In addition, they may be left feeling that no one understands the responsibilities or pressures they are going through and have no place to turn.

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With a support group, caregivers can be part of a forum of others going through similar circumstances to help ease some of the stress that comes from helping out others. Some of the benefits of a Caregiver Support Group include:

  • Offering an outlet to discuss worries, concerns, and struggles as a caregiver
  • Learn more about professional organizations that can provide community support for free
  • Meet new friends that can empathize with your situation and offer helpful suggestions
  • Offer helpful suggestions on how to manage time and resources

It can be very comforting being part of a group on people that are going through what you are at the same time. They can truly understanding what you are feeling and become a friend in time of need.

Enriched Life Home Care Services is committed to bringing awareness to importance and role of caregivers – both paid and unpaid. We are hosting a series of Caregiver Support Groups in the South Eastern Michigan Area to do just that. Please feel free to give us a call at 734-744-6477 to learn more.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

Seniors Suffering from Seasonal Depression

The changes in temperature and seasons can be a warning sign for aging seniors being affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a type of depression that comes as a result of the reduction of sunlight coming from shortened days. Be sure to pay extra careful attention to your loved ones during this time of year to notice changes in their behavior such as: fatigue during the daytime, sadness, weight gain, lack of desire to participate in activities, or suicidal thoughts.

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Should you believe they are affected by SAD below are some recommendations to help reduce the effects of this type of depression:

Exercise – Regular daily exercise will help keep energy levels high to help ward off depressive thoughts and feelings.

Volunteer – If they are able, taking some time out to help someone in need will not only get them out of the house, but is good for the soul.

Get Sunlight – Take a break throughout the day to go outside and get some direct sunlight to increase vitamin D levels. Vitamin D supplements can also be taken to help keep levels high during winter months when it is difficult to be outside for extended periods of time.

Speak to a Doctor – If the symptoms are amplified or if you are concerned for their safety, do not hesitate to seek advice from a medical professional.

At Enriched Life Home Care Services, we offer in-home care services to help provide your loved ones with much needed personal care and companionship services. Our services can help reduce the effects of seasonal depression by being their when family members are not able to be there.

 Enriched Life Home Care Services LLC  |  www.ELHCS.com

 

 

 

Seniors and Storms Don’t Mix

The recent increase in storms in the Midwest has led to thousands of unexpected power outages. For most of us, not having power is more of a nuisance than a life-threatening occurrence. However, for seniors living on their own, a power outage can be disastrous.

Senior adults can be left without food or water, transportation, or a way to contact family. They could also be more susceptible to a slip and fall if they have no electricity. These can all be very stressful and frightening to a senior.

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Although we cannot predict when a power outage will happen, there are certain precautions that can be taken ahead of time to help minimize the risks of injury or starvation.

  • Keep items such as wheelchairs and walkers in a designated place so it can be found quickly
  • Put together a disaster kit that contains a supply of non-perishables, water, medications to last at least 3 days
  • Notify the local electric company if there is an emergency medical device in the home. They will make a note of it and your loved one will be on a list for immediate attention in the case of an emergency.
  • Make sure there are adequate flashlights and batteries located in a place that is easy to access. Do not use candles as they are a fire hazard.
  • Put together a small supply of medications and other necessary medical items
  • A list of medications or other medical information
  • Cell phone with an extra battery and charger
  • Keep some cash on hand in case local ATMs or banks are closed due to power outages
  • Turn off or unplug all major appliances, as they can be damaged when the power returns

Taking responsibility and planning in advance of any big storm is highly recommended to alleviate many potential hazards. You can get information on the radio, news, or internet to help you prepare. At Enriched Life Home Care Services, we care about the health and safety of your loved ones and hope you will take the time to help your loved ones prepare for the unexpected.

Enriched Life Home Care Services, LLC  |  www.ELHCS.com

 

A Mother’s Selfless Love: Michele’s Story

Enriched Life Home Care Services is grateful for the personal story Michele DeSocio has written about placing her mother with dementia in a care facility. We hope that her story will be a help to others that are dealing with the difficult decision of placing their loved one in a facility versus keeping them at home.

My Mom, Jean DelCampo, was 58 when I got a call asking for help. I picked Mom up and moved her in my home along with my husband and three children. At the time Mom was misdiagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder. 

Several years later my husband and I went away for a weekend, leaving Mom in the capable hands of my sister. The change in environment caused Mom to shake uncontrollably and my sister brought her to the ER. 

After 19 horrid days in a psych ward Mom was finally properly diagnosed with dementia. Mom was still capable of making her own decisions and after rehab Mom insisted on placement. 

Placement was not something my sister or I would ever have considered. We begged her to reconsider, but Mom was firm. She wanted to spare her children, she did not want to be a “burden”. We had no choice but to honor her wishes and mom was placed in a facility. Mom was sicker than we understood. I consider this to be a most unselfish act of love. 

MicheleDesoscio-mom-sister2Much to my surprise, mom was very happy and she settled in rather quickly. Since she was not as sick as many of the other men and women living there, she found purpose and satisfaction in assisting her fellow residents. Always the nurturing person I so adore, mom was so helpful that many people thought she worked there.

Our worst nightmare, placement, was not what we thought it would be. Mom was well cared for by professionals and we visited often, went on many outings and mom spent many weekends in our homes. It was a win/win. 

We did face the many challenges that come with the disease, POA, medical proxy, DNR, battles with medications, and on and on. We road the roller coaster of dementia together. 

It’s now 15 years later, mom is 73 and in the later stages of the disease. 

For those of you struggling with the decision of placement please know it can be the right thing for all concerned. 

Your family member can receive the professional care they need, under your supervision, and live a productive and happy life after being placed in a nursing home. You’ll have more control than you think. You are the advocate. You are still their daughter, son, spouse or friend. Live in the moment and enjoy what you have, not what you are losing.

Mother knows best, always a Mom

For the past 2 years I have been an advocate and Administrator for Memory People, an online support and awareness group on Facebook, founded by patient Rick Phelps in 2010 at age 57.

If you or a loved one is affected by Alzheimer’s or any dementia related diseases please join Memory People.  We don’t have a cure but we have each other. Memory People, bringing awareness, one person at a time…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180666768616259/

Many families are currently dealing with loved ones suffering from dementia. Enriched Life Home Care Services is here to assist or answer questions you may have about caring for your loved one.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

Activities for Loves Ones with Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease

When someone you are caring for is bored or wants to help in some way, here are a few things that could keep those with mild to moderate dementia or Alzheimer’s disease occupied.

Raking and sweeping. If it’s not too cold, outdoor lovers will appreciate being helpful in the yard. Experts at caring.com say it’s also good exercise. An alternate activity, picking up sticks or yard debris, can be satisfying if the patient is physically capable.

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Feeding the birds. It’s an active activity when preparing food, and it’s a passive activity when watching birds out the window. Make strings of birdfeed by threading cereal or pretzels on a length of yarn. Tie the end so the cereal doesn’t fall off.

Make birdseed pinecones. Put peanut butter on a pinecone with a butter knife, then roll the cone in a bowl of birdseed. Tie a string around it for hanging.

Folding laundry. It allows your loved one to feel productive and the repetition can be soothing. Towels are the easiest to fold. Consider buying bundles of washcloths or dish towels.

Keeping tabs on the weather. You’ll need an easy-to-read outdoor thermometer, indoor barometer, weather vane, and a rain gauge. Many people have great interest in the weather. Encourage a loved one to check gauges and reporting what they see to you. You could keep a record book to discuss weather changes later.

Talk about the weather and ask your loved one if they ever experienced a storm, flood, or blizzard.

Coupon cutting. Give them scissors, envelopes and an organizer folder to place the coupons in. It’s a good activity and makes them feel they are contributing. Encourage them to clip coupons for their favorite products.

Inspirational reading. Individuals who have difficulty reading or communicating may enjoy being read to and may be comforted by religious text. Try making a daily reading time so it becomes part of your routine. Talk about what you read and ask questions like whether they would have liked to live in Biblical times.

If you are looking for more activities ideas, Enriched Life Home Care Services can assist. We are very interested in enriching the lives of seniors, especially those that have been affected by Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

Helpful Tips for Caregivers

We are excited to introduce Tanvi Patel, MA, LPC-S, NCC as our guest blogger. Tanvi is a licensed therapist and trained mediator. Tanvi has a wealth of expert advice on a variety of topics and presents helpful points for those that are currently caring for a loved one.

When I think of Elder Care, I think of my grandparents, I think of the future and what my parents might need, and I think of how I’d like to live out these so-called “golden years.”  Over the last decades, as Americans continue to push the average senior age higher and higher, a lot of focus has been turned toward seniors and all that is entailed.  Retirement funds need to be larger, healthcare funds need to be allocated, families join together to accommodate an aging family member, depression and existential crises need to be explored and when appropriate, treated therapeutically. The list goes on. But today in this piece, I’d like to focus on the role of the caregiver and helpful points to consider in caring for an elder loved one.

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Caregivers come in all shapes and sizes increasingly as many homes are two income homes and time is a scarce commodity.  Nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, counselors, social workers, home health care workers, sons and daughters, spouses, in laws, nieces, nephews, friends.  This list goes on too.  With so many individuals providing care for aging loved ones, it is important to keep a few things in mind to help clarify the role of caregiver, to help resolve any feelings of resentment and guilt, and to help manage stress and to help stay informed.

Helpful points in caring for an elder loved one:

  • Always take care of yourself.  You cannot adequately help others if you are not okay.  Stay healthy physically, emotionally and mentally.
  • Seek out other caregivers in similar roles to yours.  Share the struggle, it is not easy.  You are not alone. Create a group that talks over coffee or an online forum to stay in touch.
  • Manage stress when providing care.  It’s important to remember that the senior individual is not purposefully trying to make you angry or irritate you or single you out, etc.  In order to increase patience and efficacy in caregiving, find ways to manage your own stressors and leave them at the door when interacting with a senior.  This will also help decrease any feelings of guilt when losing patience with an elder loved one.
  • Cut yourself some slack.  Even though stress can be managed, the role of a caregiver is sometimes too stressful for one person.  Find help if you need.  This will only increase the care you provide and in turn increase the quality of life for the senior.
  • Stay in the loop.  Sign up for blogs, newsletters, mailing lists, etc. and become informed about any conditions that the senior you care for has.  This will help you separate symptoms from normal interaction with the senior, and help preserve the relationship.
  • Always remember to respect the full life this senior has lived.  Many times with diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s when seniors’ behaviors might mirror children’s behaviors it can be easy to slip into treating them as such.  Treating seniors with dignity will help improve care and the relationship you have with them.  And it’s the right thing to do.  This will also remove any guilt you may have for reacting to a symptom versus managing the elder’s symptom.

These may sound like simple points, but they can be crucial to the efficacy and well-being of the caregiver. In my practice, I see caregivers burn out, have increased anxiety, have feelings of resentment, guilt or depression, and are struggling to continue care of their loved one.  Following these points can help enormously and keep the caregiver in a healthy, functioning state of mind in order to provide the senior with the effective and compassionate care they need.

To learn more about Tanvi and all the services she offers, visit her website http://www.counselingandmediation.com

Disclosure:  If some of these circumstances apply to you and are interfering with your ability to continue providing care or living functionally, it may be time to seek professional help. 

We would like to thank Tanvi for providing these helpful tips for caregivers. At Enriched Life Home Care Services, we understand the crucial role that a caregiver can play in someone’s life. We are here to answer questions and offer home care solutions to help you provide the best care for your loved ones.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |   www.ELHCS.com