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How family caregivers can benefit from respite care

· Aging at Home · No Comments

What is Respite Care?

Respite care is a type of assistance that allows the family caregiver to take a break from care-giving. This type of care focuses on helping family caregivers recharge, ease their stress, and avoid caregiver burnout. Rather than spending time attending to daily duties, respite care provides assistance and support to the family caregiver. Keeping the caregiver healthy and supported results in higher quality time spent together. The longer a family member can provide appropriate care, the longer the loved one is able to stay comfortably at home.

Role of a Family Caregiver

The role of a family caregiver can be an honor and a privilege. Some caregivers acknowledge they enjoy having the opportunity to “repay” their parent by caring for them. Caring for a loved one can be a rewarding experience, but intense or long-term care can often have a negative impact on the caregiver’s health and well-being. This is especially difficult if you are a first-time family caregiver.These individuals often struggle with balancing their role as a caregiver with their own family’s needs, or caregiving and paid employment. This often leads to a situation where the caregiver feels overwhelmed and confused about what steps to take next in their caregiving journey combined with the effects of anticipatory grief, and may put the family caregiver at risk of:

  • Psychological effects such as depression, anxiety, and anger
  • Health related issues resulting from chronic stress, lack of sleep and/or physical exercise
  • Personal financial problems
  • Negative career consequences
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Elderly abuse

In order to prevent the risks mentioned above, you should consider respite if you’re a caregiver.

Types of Respite Care

Respite care can be provided at home or in a long-term care facility. Care can be provided by friends, neighbors, family members, volunteers, or a home health care service provider.

Some examples of respite care services include:

  • Personal Care
  • Companionship
  • Meal Preparation
  • Medication Reminder
  • Light Housekeeping
  • Nursing

Respite care also benefits the person receiving care in the following ways:

  • Developing and nurturing the care recipient’s social, recreational and life skills;
  • Reducing stress and improving long-term functioning of both caregivers and care recipients;
  • Preventing crisis situations and elder abuse.

Respite Resources are Available and Necessary for Family Caregivers

If you are a family caregiver, find some time this summer to focus on you. You deserve an extra hand or some time to take care of yourself.  Nano Home Care offers respite care and home health services that are individualized and designed especially for you. Contact us about home care services at 01 800 688 8688.

How to build a long distance care team

· Opinion, Stories · No Comments

We live in a mobile society and that means that adult children are not always going to live in close proximity to aging parents. That makes it difficult to make sure their daily needs are addressed, especially if illness or chronic disease strikes. It is possible to put together a long distance care team that will provide for your loved one and give you some peace of mind. Here are some tips on how to put together a reliable team that will serve the best interests of the senior you love.

1. Ask the senior how you can be most helpful
  • What do they need daily?
  • What tasks are difficult for them?
  • Do they have regular weekly or monthly appointments – hair, physician etc. that they need transportation to and from?
2. Talk to the senior’s physician
  • If the senior is willing to give you written permission, or you are the health care proxy, ask the physician to update you about the senior’s health. You can also discuss this with your loved one, but often seniors will hide information about their health condition for fear of losing their independence. You need to know exactly what the health impairments are in order to address them appropriately.
  • If you do not have permission or are not the health care proxy the physician cannot, by law, release private medical information to you. However, he or she may be willing to suggest the types of support that think will be most helpful.
3. Talk to friends, family members, neighbors of your loved one
  • Can a schedule of support and help be created?
  • Can a neighbor’s child take out the garbage or walk your loved one’s dog?
  • Can a sibling who lives close by take your loved one grocery shopping?
  • Can neighbors or family members check in the senior regularly, especially during extreme hot and cold weather?
  • Make sure everyone has all your phone numbers, your e-mail and other contact information.
4. Rely on local resources

There are many organizations that provide support for seniors. You can find the ones in your loved one’s area by checking these sources of information:

  • Eldercare Locator, 1-800-677-1116 (toll-free)
  • National Institute on Aging website
  • Family Care Navigator
  • Your state government’s website, search for “elder care”, “senior care”, or “INSERT STATE NAME Executive Office of Elder Affairs.”

Home Care agencies can also be a great resource to rely on. Certified, professional home caregivers can take care of your loved one and keep you updated on their condition.

5. Keep detailed records
  • Create a 3-ring binder in which you can keep notes, medical records, insurance information, calendars and even printed copies of emails. This will be a great help to you as the care of your loved one becomes more complex
  • Include contact information for all physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, case managers and specialists, like physical therapists
  • Make copies for all those involved in the support and care of your loved one and keep the records updated

The National Institute for Aging is a great resource for information on long-distance caregiving. They have two downloadable publications:

  • Long-Distance Caregiving: Twenty Questions and Answers
  • Long-Distance Caregiving—A Family Affair

The NIH also has a webpage dedicated to caregiving. It is a rich source of information that lists numerous books, fact sheets and information pages on a wide range of issues involved in caregiving. Last week, we published a piece on how to manage the Emotional impact of Long-Distance Care – an aspect of caring for your loved one that you don’t want to miss.

Life has taught alli espinosa how to care

· Opinion, Stories · No Comments

Allison Espinosa was the first Care Pro we hired in our Dallas office. Once you meet her, you’ll know why. It’s not just her 13 years of professional caregiving experience, it’s the way she cares that makes her special. Since everyone who meets Allison becomes a friend, she’s Alli to us—and to all her Nano clients. We’re so happy she’s on our Care Team.

1. Is there anything about your family or background that makes you especially passionate about caring for others?

Absolutely. My younger sister had her first surgery when she was minutes old—she’s had 69 so far. When I was little, I thought all families spent weeks in the hospital. I was always around doctors, nurses, and patients. That was my normal. My great grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s, moved in with my family. Keeping her company was my job. I was so excited when she taught me how to peel potatoes. To this day every time I hold a potato, a Great-grandma smile comes through. My parents were Nano with me when she had to go to a home. Grandma is sick, and we can’t take care of her anymore, they said. I knew it was time. Even at 6 years old.

2. How did you get into being a caregiver?

When I went into labor prematurely, my labor and delivery nurse Rachel, had the most incredible amount of patience and took such amazing good care of me. She was also pregnant and due the same time as me. My angel daughter didn’t survive, but sometimes I think the reason my baby was with me at all was to show me my direction in life—to be there and care for others as Rachel had for me. Rachel had her baby, and we’re still friends over a decade later. I guess I had two great influences guiding my fate. Maybe losing my baby was in some ways meant to teach me empathy and direct me to help people.

3. Why did you choose Nano?

I saw the app and I got excited instantly. I had been working in a lot of facilities, but there were a lot of restrictions at nursing facilities. You can’t really enjoy being with people. It’s too hectic and too many people yelling for you. I decided I wanted to get back into home care and I met with Kathryn who runs the Dallas office. At other jobs, it was always we need bodies to fill spots. She wasn’t looking for people to fill spots—she was looking for people who love to care for others.

4. What do you love most about being a professional caregiver?

Sounds cliché, but I enjoy the difference I can make in someone’s life. When families become caregivers they stop being family members. Husbands stop being husbands, wives stop being wives. When I come in and take care of the tasks that nobody wants to do, I let the other person be a spouse or a child again. I get to give family members back to their families. That makes me feel really good.

5. What’s your greatest challenge in this work?

I take it all in stride. My experience takes over most of the time without me thinking about it. Like reflexes. The only thing that I can truly say bothers me is when someone asks a person with Alzheimer’s, Why don’t you understand? Or I just told you this an hour ago. People who aren’t empathetic to another person’s affliction is hard for me to watch.

6. What’s the secret to a great relationship between a caregiver and a client?

Complete honesty. And that builds mutual respect. Nobody wants someone in their home who is going to be fake. If a Care Pro doesn’t love what they do, the client can feel it. They want someone who can talk truthfully about what is going on and treat them like real people.

7. Will you share with us a rewarding moment you’ve had as a Care Pro?

Recently, I was working hard to get a bed-bound man clean. It took a good hour. I was really struggling and sweating, and he was uncomfortable. I was talking to him, trying to make him feel at ease, but he didn’t say a word. When I was done, he looked at me and softly said, Thank you. And I remember feeling so good about helping him. Those two words made that all worthwhile. All caregivers have little moments like that and they feed your soul.

8. What do you like to do outside of work?

Always, always, always at the gym. I run obstacle course races. Knit. Crochet. Spend time with my little girl and my friends. Sleep sometimes.

9. Name one thing about you that might make people say WOW!

Most people don’t know that I am really good with a bow and arrow. They don’t picture me toting around a compound crossbow—but I’m a pretty incredible shot. I go to the range and shoot arrow after arrow. It helps me relax and concentrate. Almost meditative.

10. What do you collect?

Easy. Coffee mugs. I love coffee mugs. When my friends travel they always bring me back one they think I might like. The only rule is you have to have actually been there, not just passing through. I have about 150 so far. Now you know my weakness. ☺

When to hire senior home care services

· Family · No Comments

There is often a lot of resistance and hesitation when it comes to hiring senior home care services. Many people don’t like admitting that they need help with daily activities, and family members don’t always know how to broach the subject. Unfortunately, this means that a senior relative can go years without assistance, since it can be several years from first witnessing the need to acquiring aid. This can become burdensome for people in the family, who are not always well equipped to handle such needs and may not have the time to devote to home care. It’s important to be able to notice and acknowledge when it’s time to hire senior home care services.

Noticing the Signs

Loved ones might notice that there are missed doctor’s appointments or that medications are left untaken. You may have observed failing hygiene, household chores left undone, or house pets or plants that aren’t tended to as well as they should be. All of these can be initial indicators that home care assistance could be beneficial. More severe signs may be distracted driving, difficulty remembering names, dates, or addresses, or that already present safety and health concerns become more acute.

Although discussing home health care might be uncomfortable or embarrassing, such assistance can help encourage a greater sense of independence, aid with transportation and mobility, and can help to ensure that health care needs are met promptly and with appropriate attentiveness and urgency. A single awkward conversation can be the first step to getting your loved one the help they need.

Full or part-time services are often all that are necessary. Staffing agencies can often be the easiest approach, since they locate the caregivers, handle payroll taxes, and perform all administrative work and conduct background checks. This is a relatively easy way to find qualified and verified home health care professionals. Another option is that you would hire a nurse or other caregiver directly. This would place the burden of performing the background check, as well as verifying references and credentials, on you. You would also be responsible for payroll taxes, Social Security withholding, etc., which can often seem a bit overwhelming. However, it’s possible that it could also save you money. It will ultimately be up to you to decide what’s best and to ensure that your loved one’s needs are met.

The importance of self-care for caregivers

· Opinion · No Comments

As a caregiver, you probably hear “Take care of yourself” more often than not. It can seem an impossible task. Caring for an aging loved one is an all-encompassing task on top of your other responsibilities at work and at home. If your loved one has recently been discharged from the hospital, caregiving has probably become more intense, and your exhaustion has probably deepened. Self-care is essential if you are to survive. There is a way to care for yourself in the midst of all your responsibilities and here are some realistic ways to make that happen.

1. Nap when your loved one naps.

Lock the doors and place a cot, oversized chair or bed next to them. Take a cat nap when they do. Yes, there are many other things you could be doing while they sleep. However, this is an opportunity to squeeze in time to care for yourself, and you need to make it a priority.

2. Snack when your loved one snacks.

You may be too tired to eat three big meals a day, and that can lead to snacking on High-fat, high-sugar foods. You can change that. When you make snacks for your loved one, make them as healthy as possible and make enough for yourself. Try whole grain crackers with slices of cheese and apples. Serve small cups of soup and half a sandwich. Create a colorful plate of sliced oranges and grapes. Prepare a morning snack and an afternoon snack. Pour water in the good wine glasses and add a slice of lemon. If you have to prepare snacks anyway, why not make them appetizing for you and your loved one?

3. Relax for 10 minutes.

Set the timer and sit down. You can fold the laundry or sort through the mail while you sit down with your feet up. Turn on your loved one’s favorite TV show, make a cup of your favorite tea, coffee or hot chocolate and watch it with them. If they don’t have a favorite show, then find one that you like and watch it together. Do some deep breathing exercises and do not get up until the timer goes off!

4. Breathe in fresh air.

It doesn’t matter what climate you live in; you need fresh air. Whether it is a hot, dry southern climate or a cold northern one, you need to breathe in the outdoor air at least once a day. It’s good for the lungs and the mind. If your loved one can’t go outside, stand in front of an open window. Bundle them up if the weather demands it and then let the fresh air in. Do deep breathing exercises and teach your loved one to do them with you. In a matter of minutes, you will feel refreshed.

Caregivers give their all to their loved ones – all day, every day. Caring for yourself can seem impossible unless you begin to look at it differently. Most caregivers aren’t going to ask relatives to step in so they can take a day off and even fewer are going to take the time to go to a spa. However, if you think of the small moments in the day in which you can care for yourself along with your loved one, it will seem easier to accomplish. Read more about how to take care of yourself in our blog post, “How Caregivers Can Avoid Depression.”

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