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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.

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.

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.

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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