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Senior Home Care

Caregivers

5 ways to regain your energy after caregiver burnout

· Caregivers, Opinion · No Comments

As a caregiver of an aging loved one your days are long and filled with responsibilities. Taking care of yourself is at the end of the list – and it stays there. You may feel run down, lethargic and like you are burning the candle at both ends. These are some of the symptoms caregiver stress and burnout and you should pay close attention to them. If you fall into full-fledged burnout it will significantly impact your ability to care for your loved one.

46% of caregivers suffer from depression, just one of the signs of caregiver burnout. Others include:

  • You have much less energy than you once had
  • You are constantly sick and rundown
  • You are constantly exhausted even though you sleep at night
  • You neglect your own needs because you’re too busy or you don’t care anymore
  • Caregiving is a source of anxiety and gives you little satisfaction
  • You’re increasingly impatient and irritable with the person you’re caring for
  • You feel helpless and hopeless.

There are ways to address these feelings and regain your energy with simple, common sense strategies. If you are suffering from burnout, some of these suggestions may seem impossible to carry out. You really have no choice; to ignore burnout is to risk your ability to care for your loved one.

1. See a doctor:

Make a doctor’s appointment with your primary care physician. There may be underlying causes for your fatigue and malaise like high or low blood pressure or high or low blood sugar. Your doctor can help you get back on track to good health.

2. Exercise a little every day:

You don’t have to go to the gym. Walk around the yard. Jog up and down the driveway. Put on some music and dance inside the house. Moving will increase the amount of oxygen in your heart, lungs and brain and will help you to feel better immediately. When seniors exercise regularly and work fitness into their daily routines, it will boost their energy levels and help fight fatigue.

3. Learn to meditate:

This doesn’t mean that you have to go to a mountain top retreat! It means that you find a quiet spot every day for 5 or 10 minutes of quiet reflection and deep breathing. When your loved one takes a nap, sit in a chair and practice deep breathing for relaxation. Find a beginner’s Yoga practice on DVD, online or through a television service. Yoga will relax your muscles, your mind and improve your energy levels.

4. Eat well for more energy:

Feed your body with healthy food that will fuel your energy. Fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean protein, and healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil will give you steady energy.

5. Get a good night’s sleep:

Using the hours when you should be sleeping for other tasks will actually give you diminishing returns. You need 8 hours of sleep a night. When you get less, your mood, energy, productivity, and ability to handle stress will suffer.

Caregivers spend most of their time caring for our loved ones, subsequently creating an opening for stress, fatigue, and breakdowns. Preventing caregiver burnout can’t be done with tact and preparation; additionally, Home Care Assistance also offers respite care to support and mitigate this unfortunate phenomenon.

Can grapes help protect against alzheimer’s decline?

· Caregivers · No Comments

A pilot study at the University of California, Los Angeles looked at whether consuming grapes could help fight the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers, led by Dr. Daniel H. Silverman, worked with people with early memory decline. They broke the volunteers into two groups – one that received whole grape powder and another that received a placebo powder that looked and tasted like the grape powder. The “grape group” received the equivalent of 2 ¼ cups of grapes per day. The researchers measured participants’ cognitive performance at the beginning of the study and again six months later. Brain metabolism was also measured at the beginning of the study and six months later by PET scans of the brain. These scans provide both predictive and diagnostic value to health professionals who are evaluating patients presenting with signs of dementia.

When people have Alzheimer’s disease, their brains aren’t working as they should. Some of that, experts believe, is due to problems with brain metabolism. The brain, like the rest of the body, needs energy to work properly. The areas of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s disease tend to need the most energy. The process of converting food to energy for the brain is, in very basic terms, brain metabolism. Healthy brain metabolism is essential for proper functioning. The study results showed that people with early memory decline had healthy metabolic activity in the regions of the brain most affected by early Alzheimer’s when they consumed the grape powder, but the people who consumed the placebo powder actually had a significant decline in metabolic activity in the same regions of the brain.

The study also showed that the “grape group” had positive changes in brain metabolism that correlates with cognitive improvement and improved performance of the working memory.

The results of the pilot study were published in the journal Experimental Gerontology[HT1]. What the results showed is that eating grapes every day preserved healthy metabolism, prevented decline of brain metabolism, and improved both memory and attention. According to Dr. Silverman, the study results “suggest that regular intake of grapes may provide a protective effect against early decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Why does eating grapes seem to work? There is evidence that the polyphenols in grapes help promote anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity in the brain. There is also research that suggests grapes may help encourage a healthy brain by reducing oxidative stress in the brain (which can lead to brain function decline), helping maintain levels of a chemical in the brain that promotes memory, and having anti-inflammatory effects.

While the study results are exciting, Dr. Silverman says further studies need to be done with larger groups.

At Home Care Assistance, we promote healthy brains and improved quality of life for our clients through multiple programs, including the Balanced Care Method – a holistic approach to healthy longevity – and the Cognitive Therapeutics Method – a cognitive stimulation program developed to keep aging minds sharp.

Four fall prevention strategies for seniors

· Caregivers · No Comments

Falls pose one of the greatest dangers to a senior’s independence and self-sufficiency. More than one-third of people aged 65 and older fall each year, and those who fall once are two to three times more likely to fall again. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries and are responsible for significant disability, hospitalization, loss of independence, and reduced quality of life. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that most fractures among older adults are caused by falls.

Here are four ways in which you can help your loved one to avoid falls.

1. Practice daily strengthening exercises:

Balance and coordination can be greatly improved through exercise. Exercise that improves strength, reaction time, and aerobic capacity is the best way to maintain strong muscles and balance. The most effective exercises can be integrated into activities of daily living and focus on balance and strength building. Here are some examples, though they should be carried out as appropriate for the senior’s current strength and balance:

  • Hold onto the sink and stand on one leg while brushing teeth.
  • While talking on the telephone, hold onto the wall and lean to one side, then the other to improve balance.
  • While putting laundry away, bend the knees and then straighten the legs to build muscle strength.
2. Make home modifications to prevent falls:

Making the house “fall-proof” includes assessing everything from lighting inside and outside the home to interior rugs. It is important to remove clutter and throw rugs from high-traffic areas and stairs. Make sure that each light fixture has the highest watt bulb possible. Place things in easy reach for your loved one in order to avoid reaching or climbing on chairs. Home modifications can also include encouraging your loved one to wear non-slip footwear in the house and not to walk around in stocking feet!

3. Look at your loved one’s medications:

Medications, especially antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can cause dizziness and fall hazards. Check with your loved one’s physician and ask specifically about the side effects of each medication your loved one takes on a regular basis.

Some medications may help to prevent falls. The CDC reported a study that found that vitamin D and calcium supplements may help to prevent falls. The study found that over women who took vitamin D and calcium supplements over a three year period were 46% less likely to fall compared to women who did not take the supplements. Before giving your loved one supplements check with your loved one’s physician. Supplements can interfere with the efficacy of prescription medications.

4. Beware of bifocals.

It has long been suspected that bifocals may contribute to the danger of falls for seniors. A recent study confirms that, saying that “…wearers of multifocal glasses have a high risk of falls when outside their homes and when walking up or down stairs.” The study also found that multifocal and bifocal glasses impair depth perception and make it more difficult to navigate steps and raised surfaces. When researchers provided seniors with single lens distance prescriptions to wear outdoors, falls were decreased by 40%. It pays to have two pair of glasses for your loved one; a single lens pair with a distance prescription for walking up or down outdoor stairs, in shopping centers or unfamiliar buildings, and bifocals as needed at home.

Have you found any helpful ways to prevent falls at home for your loved one? If so we would be interested in hearing about them. Every home environment is as different as each senior and sharing helpful tips helps all of us to prevent dangerous falls.

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