Long Distance Caregiving

Senior Cell Phone

 

Choosing an assisted living facility for a loved one can be a tough time for many aging parents and their grown children alike. Placing a loved one in someone else’s care can be difficult, but sometimes it is the most necessary option for a family. It is wise to hold some kind of family meeting ahead of time, before it becomes a matter of urgency.

 

Sometimes a senior care resident may live a couple hours drive or a plane ride away from the rest of their family; but that doesn’t mean that children still can’t play a role in being a caregiver. As a child living a good distance from your loved one in eldercare, even if you cannot serve as the primary caregiver, you can still keep an eye on them from afar.

 

If you live an hour or more away from your loved one in senior care, then you can be classified as a long distance caregiver. Even if you can’t be around all the time to help with daily tasks, there are still some important roles you can play in their lives. Some tasks of a long-distance caregiver include finance management, making arrangements for in-home care, providing emotional support, or being an emergency contact.

 

You don’t have to merely be the natural child of the senior in order to serve as a long distance caregiver. You can simply be someone dear to them who has a stake in their well-being— regardless of your own age, gender, relation to them, or income.

 

Being a long distance caregiver doesn’t require you to drop everything and come running whenever your senior loved-one has a need, but it puts you in the position to at least be ready to listen to them and set some time aside to prioritize them at some point during your week/month. It can be helpful to establish a routine for having check-ups over the phone, Skype, or visitations over a time period that works for the both of you.

 

Long distance caregivers should have a plan to expect the unexpected. Sometimes a social phone call to check up on them and share family news can turn into a more serious discussion of finances, medical needs, or other dining/living arrangements. Sometimes your senior loved one will ask for help, as certain circumstances or health developments make assistance needed. However, when you love far off, they may feel like they don’t want to burden or concern you. In this case you may have to do some detective work to discover whether they have some un-communicated needs.

 

A simple phone call to their facility may not be enough to tell whether an elder needs better help handling their daily activities. A senior may be having trouble preparing full meals or getting their level of needed attention at their facility. If they aren’t telling you about what they may consider to be burdening problems, it may be up to you to call in and ask some higher-ups about how meals are being prepared for residents or how much attention is being given.

 

If you get the impression that the facility is feeding you an insincere report and that your elder is not communicating their true needs, it may be necessary to come by and have a look for yourself. Visits can be a friendly and social matter, without creating drama. But it is wise to keep your eyes peeled for any odd indications or potential trouble areas in your senior’s living conditions. To avoid overlooking any important issues, it may be smart to draft up a list of potential problem areas to check out while visiting the facility.

 

It is not good to be overly suspicious of mistreatment, as most facilities and staff truly are doing their jobs well and looking out for the best interest of their residents. However, it is important to be attentive to the details and subtle messages being communicated by your senior, just in case. The resident you trust the facility to care for will is most precious, dear, and personally loved by you; so it is up to you as a long distance caregiver to keep a place for them in your schedule and your thoughts, even from afar.

 

Adult Day Health Care

Senior Day Care CenterCaring 24/7 for a senior can take a toll on any caregiver. Whether you are in need of a break for a few hours or need an alternate means of care while you are at work, senior day care centers are a great option. They are a stable and safe environment of which many seniors look forward to attending so they can be within the company of others. However, some of the services vary from center to center. Here are five things you should look for in a senior day care center for your loved one.

Health Care Services Available

Not every senior day care center is the same. In fact, they offer a variety of services other than just activities. So if your loved one has a health care issue, check on day care centers that can meet those needs. For instance, if they are required to take medication, the staff may be able to assist with that. They can monitor their blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Plenty of Recreational Activities

Sending your loved one to a senior day care center may be a much-needed break for yourself. However, you want to ensure your loved one is enjoying themselves also. The main purpose of a day care center is so they can get social time in and participate in a variety of stimulating activities. Many adult day care center’s activities focus on recreation, games, music, and discussion groups. You’ll find a few of these select activities offered:

• Arts and crafts
• Sing-a-longs
• Light exercising
• Birthday celebrations
• Local outings
• Games such as Scrabble, dominoes, and bingo

Behavioral Management

If your loved one has dementia, you’ll also want to check and see if the senior day care center offers behavior management programs. Here, they would be capable of dealing with your loved ones hallucinations, wandering off, speech difficulties, incontinence, and verbal and physical inappropriate behaviors. You’ll want to find out exactly how they have handled these problems in the past.

Special Needs Assistance

If your loved one is visually impaired or uses a wheelchair, inquire about the center’s ability to accommodate for their special needs. Any facility can say they will accept your loved one, but you want to be sure they are not left stranded in a corner alone all day. Be sure they have ways to include them in activities and able to socialize with other day participants.

Your Visit to the Center

Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time for your visit to the center. Also, schedule your visit during normal business hours, when many participants would be there. You want to thoroughly observe the staff and their interactions with the participants.

You also want to observe any strange odors, how well lit the center is, if it’s decorated or bare walls (bare walls is so institutionalized), how clean it is, and the sizes of the activity rooms. Look for any dangers such as broken pieces of furniture or loose handrails on the staircase. Visit the eating area and taste the food for yourself. Talk with them about the special diet your loved one has and if they can accommodate it.

In terms of staff size, the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) recommends that a senior day care center has a staff to participant ratio of 1:6. Of course, the smaller the ratio, the better, especially if they have a lot of special need participants to attend to.

Some of the staff you may see at a senior day care center include an activity director, a social worker, program assistants, licensed practical nurse, and secretary. The larger the center, the more staff will be on hand. Ask about the trainings and qualifications each has that will have direct contact with your loved one.

Your loved one will enjoy the company of others in a senior day care center. You’ll rest easy knowing they are in a community that encourages social engagement and offers security for your loved one.

 

3 Ways to Arrange a Break from Caregiving

caregiver stressIt certainly is not easy to be the primary caregiver for a family member. You may want to do it all by yourself so not to burden anyone. You may think you can just push on through until help comes along. However, it will quickly take its toll on you.

Some caregivers find themselves neglecting their health, their families, and their work duties. You will become fatigued and easily agitated. The mental anguish that comes with caregiving can be overbearing. You can’t take proper care of anyone if you’re not taking proper care of yourself and disgruntled all the time. Check out these three ways to arrange a break from caregiving using only the help of family and friends.

Talk to Your Loved One Ahead of Time

Decide if you need a daily break of a few hours, a full day, or even an entire weeks’ vacation from caregiving. Once you’ve made that decision, it’s time to talk to your loved one about it to prepare them for the next steps.

If you’re caring for an elderly parent, aunt or uncle, or grandparent, you must think how things will look from their perspective. They are possibly proud and already feel you are doing too much for them. Be cautious in explaining your need to bring in additional help. You don’t want to come across to them as though they’ve burdened you.

If you’ll be away for a while, tell them you need time to clear your head from work, friends, and the kids. Explain how much you want to visit an old high school buddy and excited about your trip. This will help them understand your need for a break.

Go over some options of care, especially if family members are going to step up and help. You want them to be comfortable while you are gone; that will make it easy for a new caregiver to assume their role.

Anyone Can Pitch In, No Matter Where They Live

It doesn’t matter who you enlist the help of. A family member in a different time zone can relieve a bit of pressure off you right where they are. The internet is booming with online businesses offering services that can help relieve your everyday duties. Even if the family member can’t help offset the costs, they can do the research and arrange for services. For those family members far away, here are a few suggestions of what would be best-arranged for them to do and how you can get this accomplished.

Setting up appointments – Your family member can arrange for your loved ones medical appointments. They can schedule doctor’s visits, blood draws, rehabilitation services, and dental appointments. Depending upon the provider, they may not need to pick up the phone. For instance, many vision care centers allow you to set up an appointment online, or right through your phone’s mobile browser.

Paying bills – These days, it’s hard to find any creditor that does not have an online bill payment system in place. If they don’t, most bank accounts have online bill pay linked to a checking account option. Some payments are received in as little as one business day.

Grocery shopping– Another major time-consuming activity is going grocery shopping. This errand seems like something that will take an hour on paper. You may even welcome that free time away from the house. However, when you factor in traffic, finding just the right brands for picky eaters, standing through long lines, and then traffic again getting home, you just lost precious hours you could have been relaxing.

Instead, have a family member do the shopping online for you. Then, if you still want a quick escape from caregiving, you can pick the items up from the store, already bagged for you.

Keeping family and friends updated – It’s a challenge taking care of your loved one, your family, and yourself. At the end of the day, you may barely have 15 minutes to yourself. So if your loved one were to get sick, imagine how many phone calls would come through, directly to your phone.

One person can be the go-to person who everyone will call and give you a break. They would also be responsible for sending updated information regarding their health status. This can be done via phone, text messaging, emails, and Facebook notifications.

Coordinating all these is as easy as using Google. There can be one main email address that all family members log in to see important notifications. Use this in conjunction with Google calendar to set appointments and alert of important reminders. Everything can be placed in the calendar such as a plumber’s visit, children needing to be picked up on the weekend, or reminder that a private duty nurse is coming through for a checkup.

Reach Out to Their Organizational Family

Do not forget to reach out to any organization family members they may have. Throughout their life, your loved one may have a Church family, belong to a volunteer organization, sorority, or fraternity. These are the very same people who are more than willing to step in and visit or help out when they can.

These organizations value taking care of their own. You can be sure that the younger generation is continuing this legacy. Even if it’s just coming over and sitting with them, this gives you a bit of free time to give yourself a short spa day or lunch with a friend.

There are a variety of options for you to get help from family and friends and relive your caregiving duties. Even small things such as someone making a phone call for you can make a big difference in your day.

Elderly Care Guide: Finding The Right Care For Your Parents

Eldery CareOur parents were the ones who taught us everything we needed to know growing up. What we are today, is because of them and no matter where we go and whatever we do, we shouldn’t forget their importance and value in our lives. As time progresses, our parents become dependent on us as they are not able to do everything they used to do earlier in life. Researching senior care and learning how to provide the best care is one the most important things we can do for our parents.

In order to find the best care for your aging parents you need to look at the following things and adopt them:

1) Find out what type of place your parent would  be satisfied in?

Some great places include

• Adult day care for socialization
• Some daily-living supervision

These are nursing homes with 24/7 independent living facility that provides help with:

• Dressing
• Bathing
• Eating

2) Can your family afford it?

Even if we want the best, we need to find facilities that are pocket-friendly. You cannot over-stretch your pocket because you have to take care of the rest of your family also.

Following are the averages monthly fees on an average:

• Independent living $2,500
• Assisted living $3,400
• Nursing home $6,000

3) Involve your parents in the decision:

You should always ask your parents before choosing something for them as their consent is essential for something so important for them.

4) Make sure the facility is socially good for your parents:

For example, if your father is a master sergeant you wouldn’t want to place him in a place that had retired officers residing there since they’ll probably look down on him.

5) Inspect the place yourself before finalizing it:

Visit the place several times at different times and observe everything thoroughly. Keep a check on the staff, their behavior and the environment for some days so you have a clear idea about everything.

6) Inspect for Medicare and make an evaluation of the facilities you are looking for:

Look for deficiencies like no doctor available or lack of medicines and decide accordingly

7) Read the facility’s contract carefully:

Review the contract thoroughly to keep the future financial-obligation surprises to a minimum. You may also need to show it to an accountant or financial partner.

8) Above all , Plan ahead:

You need to make sure about everything before putting yourself in crisis because once you get into the crisis you can’t go back and do the research.

Even though all these tips to finding the right care for your parents can be very useful, if we were to ask seniors what they prefer, they would choose to live at home.Since they have spent all their lives there and don’t want to be parted from their home. With this being said, it can be very difficult to convince your parents that it’s the right time for assistance as they are unable to help themselves. It can be very harsh for them at the beginning but with time and patience, they will understand your concern.

To better take care of your parents it is better that you take care of them yourselves but sometimes that isn’t an option. Don’t feel guilty when you need to find care for your parents. Explain the situation to your parents and help them understand.

Taking Advantage of Respite Care

Caring for an elderly or disabled family member is not easy – in fact, it may be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do.  Caregiving is emotionally and physically demanding, and despite what you may believe, no one can do it alone.

Getting help or taking an occasional break is essential to maintaining your personal health and well-being.  Respite care can provide the break you need, relieving stress, restoring energy, and giving you the strength you need to continue caregiving.

What is Respite Care?

Respite care is the provision of temporary, short-term relief for those who are caring for a family member who might otherwise require permanent placement in a care facility outside the home.  This type of care was created to allow family caregivers time away from administering care – time they can spend on themselves for a change.

The goal of respite care is to help caregivers lower stress levels and regain balance in their personal lives.  Sharing the responsibilities of caregiving will allow you to get some much-needed rest, preventing exhaustion and burnout.  Research has also shown that respite care reduces the likelihood of elder abuse and neglect, reduces divorce rates, and delays out-of-home placement for the elderly.

Types of Respite Care

There are a few different models for providing respite care, so take a look at each one and decide which is best for you.

In-Home Respite Care

In-home services can be provided by a volunteer or paid professional occasionally or on a regular basis.  You have the option of arranging care directly with the caregiver, or you can go through an agency.  In-home respite care is popular because it allows the elderly person to remain in their own home, in familiar surroundings and no stressful changes.

The caregiver will learn the senior’s routine, where medications are stored, and what will be expected of them.  Personal caregivers differ from skilled health care workers, so you will need to determine exactly what kind of care your loved one requires.

Depending on where you live, Medicaid or Medicare may help cover costs.  Check with your state’s Administration on Aging website for details.

Out-of-Home Respite Care

Out-of-home respite care gives you the opportunity to leave your family member at a specialized facility, such as a nursing home, assisted living facility, or hospital – depending on the level of care needed.  Keep in mind you may require special transportation for the elderly person and/or their medical equipment.  Contact your local ambulatory services to find out the cost.

Adult day care centers are also available for respite care, however, they only operate during daytime hours.  Adult day care centers provide nutritious meals and snacks, social activities and games, and may include transportation.

Respite care is often a process that requires some fine-tuning.  If your first attempt is unsuccessful (for you or your care recipient), don’t give up.  Using respite care will support and strengthen your ability to continue to take care of your loved one – and yourself.

APA Study Finds Family Caregivers are Overwhelmed by the Responsibilities of Care

According to The American Psychological Association, 55 percent of family caregivers admit to being overwhelmed by the care they provide.  In its most recent report, Stress in America, Our Health at Risk, APA researchers paint a distressing picture of the effect stress has on the health of family caregivers.

The Stress in America survey showed that while many Americans experience stress on a regular basis, caregivers are more likely to report stress and experience it at higher levels.  On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is little to no stress and 10 is a great deal of stress, the mean level of stress reported by caregivers was 6.5 – compared to 5.2 by the general public.

The Stress study also revealed:

  • Caregivers are less likely to practice healthy behaviors to manage stress
  • Caregivers are 82 percent more likely to have a chronic illness than the general public
  • 34 percent of caregivers rate their health as fair or poor
  • Caregivers are twice as likely to report smoking as a way of managing stress
  • Only 42 percent of caregivers claim they get adequate sleep

Understanding Caregiver Stress

If you are among the 65 million Americans that provide care to a family member or friend, you are familiar with the challenges of caregiving.  But not everyone understands the impact that caregiving has on a person.

Caregivers are often so focused on their loved ones that they don’t realize their own health and well-being are suffering.  This can often lead to unhealthy behaviors and burnout.  Too much stress can eventually result in heart disease and other serious health conditions.

A recent UCLA study found that caregivers experience high levels of psychological distress – such as anxiety and depression.  One third of caregivers report that their emotions interfere with household chores and social lives.  25 percent of middle-aged caregivers binge drink, and 30 percent have become obese.  Such unhealthy behaviors contribute to stress – never alleviating it.

Caregivers that find themselves overwhelmed with the responsibilities of care need to work hard to find healthy outlets for the stress they experience.  It’s also vitally important to have an adequate support system and arrange for regular back-up care.  Joining an online support group for family caregivers is also an excellent way to learn valuable tips on coping with the challenges of care.

Overnight Program Developed for Dementia Patients

For dementia patients and their caregivers, nighttime can be a nightmare.  Seniors that suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s often have trouble settling down at night and get little rest.  Many dementia patients experience confusion and fear as daylight turns into dusk – a syndrome called “sundowning.”  In an effort to relieve family caregivers who are commonly awakened in the middle of the night, an overnight program was developed at the Hebrew Home in New York.  The program, a rare sort of “night camp” for dementia patients, is designed to provide care and activity for seniors who are up and about when most of us are asleep.

“It’s a party,” says one particpant, an 81-year-old woman who participates every night for a structured series of singalongs, crafts and therapy sessions that lasts until dawn.  The activities are meant to fill the long hours of the night for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia who live at home, as well as provide respite for the family caregivers.

“Without this program, my father would be lost, and I would be crazy,” remarks Robert Garcia, whose 82-year-old father, Felix, is in the program at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale called ElderServe at Night. “He doesn’t sleep. At night he’s wide awake, and he needs activity.”

Garcia, who lives with his wife and three children, said that before the ElderServe program his father would wake up loudly in the middle of the night and keep everyone else from sleeping.  Now his family enjoys peace and quiet throughout the entire night.

Dr. Robert Abrams, a geriatric psychiatrist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital explains that sleep disturbances are common for dementia patients, and an overnight program such as Hebrew Home’s ElderServe is preferable to forcing such patients to try and sleep.

Most patients’ care is covered by Medicaid, which includes transportation to and from the Hebrew Home.  Patients are given the choice of cooking classes, dance lessons, board games, or other engaging activities.  Resting rooms are provided for those who need some time alone, but it’s more common for patients to take brief naps in their chairs.

Programs like this are not offered everywhere, and they can be pricey.  But as more families learn of the benefits and advantages, more “night camps” are sure to be developed.