At Choices in Senior Care, my job as a nurse involves constant interaction with many different clients, families and professionals. I want to share a few tips that I think may be helpful to keep in mind when you’re caring for a loved one that’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Dementia is a terminally progressive illness, and the role you play as a caregiver can go on for a while. This role can be difficult and challenging at times, but please know that help is available to you. Here are a few tips
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Lewy Body Dementia
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While thinking about home care, we mustn’t overlook the most common type of home care in America today, the care of the senior adult by their family. Family who cares for and oversees the care of their loved one can really make a difference in their quality of care and their quality of life. Sometimes, the family just needs the right support to make this type of arrangement manageable.
How do you make family caregiving work? There are several strategies that you should employ. First, make sure that you are caring for yourself. You can not care well for others if you are not healthy yourself. Make sure that you are eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly. Explore ways to reduce your stress. Consider joining a caregiver support group and hiring support. Many caregivers are women between 35-55 who are in the “sandwich generation”, often caring for both their children and parents, while trying to maintain a career. It is impossible to do it all alone, so actively look for ways to give yourself support.
Secondly, don’t be afraid to call on other folks for help. If you or your loved one has a church support group, ask them if they could donate a few hours to helping you. Perhaps they could sit with your senior for a few hours so that you can get out of the house. Some churches can offer transportation to appointments or meals for the family weekly to alleviate some stress.
Having a companion during the hours that the family caregiver is at work is a much used strategy. As geriatric care managers, we recommend working with a reputable non-medical home care company who will do background checks for you. If you choose to go the private route, be sure to interview and check references. You should do this even if you know the person from church, or if a friend has recommended them. An interview and reference check is helpful in preventing problems. You can also pay to have a background check done with a company specializing in this. If you hire a private caregiver, you are also responsible for social security taxes and any payroll taxes required by your state. You should also check with your homeowners insurance to make sure you are covered should this person be injured in your home.
If you do hire a companion, make sure you use that person to full potential. She can run errands, transport your loved one to activities, medical tests, and in some situations to the doctor. She can do laundry, light housekeeping, and prepare meals for you. Have that person do as much as possible to take tasks off of your shoulders. Some families choose to use adult day services to alleviate stress for the caregiver. Adult day services can provide structured activities, therapies, and meals during regular daytime hours at a reasonable cost. The advantages of adult day services are that you don’t have to trust a private caregiver in your senior’s home, it is typically less expensive than private companion care, and the activities are therapeutic for the senior. Seniors often build lasting friendships in these centers.
Thirdly, don’t forget the value of technology in assisting the family caregiver. Technology today allows seniors to live in their homes longer. Examples of this technology can include:
1) Emergency alert systems that notify someone if the senior falls
2) Medication dispensers that remind the senior to take their medications and will alert the caregiver if she doesn’t take her meds
3) Motion Detectors that allow a caregiver to know where the senior is and whether or not they have had normal movement that day
•4) Video cameras that allow you to see your senior
Lastly, if you are stressed and overwhelmed, remember that there are senior care professionals to help you look at options and offer suggestions. You can find a qualified geriatric care manager by clicking here. You don't have to do it all on your own. We look forward to bringing your more valuable information in the weeks to come!
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The following article was published in the Knoxville New Sentinel on April 18th, 2015. Written by Sharon Pryse, this article offers a lot of great information related to providing support to aging parents. A special thank you to Sharon Pryse and the Trust Company for sharing this article with us at Choices in Senior Care.
As we age, we have a greater appreciation for all that our parents have done for us.
As they age, they usually appreciate all we now need to do for them.
Caring for aging parents is something most of us will have to do at some point. This can get complicated even for those whose parents live nearby, but it is much more challenging when parents and children are scattered across the country.
What can you do to ensure a smooth transition into your parents’ elder years? Plan.
How can you and your parents plan, especially with so much uncertainty?
One thing you can count on, thanks to modern medicine, is that we are living longer. The quality of this longevity isn’t guaranteed, and may mean that some will need more assistance as they age. So, start planning sooner rather than later.
A few things to consider:
- Who will handle your parents’ financial affairs if they are unable to do so?
- Is that person prepared and capable to handle financial affairs?
- Who do your parents want to make medical decisions if they can’t?
Your parents may have done a great job saving and investing, but studies show cognitive abilities diminish with age.
So, what is your parents’ plan B?
I recommend they consider consulting a geriatric care manager while they are still competent and healthy, and that they have a financial plan lined up in advance.
Geriatric care managers are experts on elder care who serve as patient advocates who ensure individuals get the treatment they want — or don’t want — either at their home or at a facility of their choice. They act as a liaison with family members and can often minimize family friction. A GCM is a fairly new concept but one those in their 70s might want to consider. More information can be found at caremanager.org.
As for a financial adviser, encourage your parents to look for an individual they are comfortable with, one with a good reputation and, if possible, one who accepts fiduciary responsibility.
Certified financial planners can be identified through cfp.net. Finding a person that handles tax and bill payment may also be an advantage.
Enlisting one child to handle all the financial matters can lead to disagreements and resentment among family members, which makes hiring an unbiased third party a prudent decision.
Assuring our parents have their plans in order will benefit everyone when the time is most critical.
Doing so can provide peace of mind and take a burden off your parents and yourself, allowing you both to live as worry-free in your later years as possible.
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