Caregiving Tips for the Holidays

Help a Caregiver You Know

  • Offer to help clean and cook, wrap presents, go shopping, or pick up the kids.
  • If your family is caregiving, suggest a potluck holiday meal or secret Santa gift exchange to save time and money.
  • The best gift you could give a caregiver is help. Give them the day off!
  • Remember to say “thank you” to a caregiver and let them know they are appreciated.
  • If a member of your family is caregiving for a relative this holiday season, send a thank you gift.

Click the link above for additional tips for those caring for a loved one during the holidays.


November is National Family Caregiver Month

Recognized by President Clinton when he signed the first proclamation in 1997, National Family Caregiver’s Month has been proclaimed by an American President annually ever since. Many states and dozens of local municipalities have also proclaimed November, NFC Month.

Day in and day out, more than 75 million family caregivers in this country fulfill a vital role in caring for elderly, aging parents. Click the link above to learn more about the role that caregivers play and why this month especially, we should join together to celebrate and recognize them.

 


The Unexpected Costs of Caring for an Aging Parent

According to data collected by the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are over 66 million family caregivers in the United States. That translates to nearly 40 percent of the U.S. adult population…a stunning statistic. This number includes people who are caring for the sick or disabled, but the majority of these caregivers are assisting an elderly family member.

Other than a spouse, the most common people to be tasked with caring for an elderly loved one are adult children. In fact, a study conducted by MetLife showed that 10 million adult children over age 50 were acting as a caregiver for their aging parent(s), a number that equals approximately a quarter of all Baby Boomers. Click the link above to learn more about the realities of caregiving for an aging parent and the unexpected costs that come with it.

 


Traveling With Your Aging Parents

With so many of us living with and caring for our parents, we are constantly searching for ways to incorporate that care into our daily lives…and our vacations.

Remember back when our travel plans required that we consider feedings, strollers, diaper changing, and playgrounds? Now, we are considering walkers, oxygen tanks, hydration, and benches for resting. It can be challenging to assure you have covered all your bases and to assure everyone will have a smooth, enjoying, and relaxing vacation. Click the link above to learn some tips that will help when traveling with your aging parents.

 


4 Tips for Talking to Parents About Assisted Living

As your parents age, there may come a time when they are not able to live as independently as before, whether because of a chronic illness, injury, or decline in general health. As an adult-child of an aging parent, it may fall upon you to begin the conversation about a move to a retirement community or even assisted living, depending on the degree of need. Having this conversation can be challenging and emotional, especially because the majority of aging Americans are more attracted to the idea of “aging in place” in their current home.

Here are four tips that will help you approach this fragile subject with empathy and openness that will put you and your loved one on the same page about this transition. To learn more, click the link above.

 


Caregiving Is A Marathon

Too often we underestimate the time obligation of caregiving. Adult children step up to be the primary hands-on caregiver having no idea that they may spend as much time caring for their parents as they spent raising their children.

We tend to think that we can burn the candle at both ends – that we can do it all. We think we can manage kids, career, spouse, house, and parents. If caregiving were a sprint, we could probably do it all. Unfortunately, it’s not. Caregiving is a marathon that you could easily spend 15 years focused on the health and well-being of your parents. Click the link above to learn more.

 


Caregiver Assistance: Addressing Caregiver Stress

Caring for an aging family member is a labor of love. But study after study also shows the emotional, physical, and even financial stress that the caregiver incurs as a result.

Research conducted by MetLife revealed that approximately 10 million adult children over the age of 50 (that’s roughly a quarter of all Baby Boomers!) have taken on the role of caregiver for their aging parents, helping with a variety of tasks–everything from running errands and cooking to bathing and using the toilet. It’s a lot to take on, especially for caregivers who may also be juggling a career and their own children, which is likely why caregivers over age 50 who work and provide care to a parent are more likely to have fair or poor health as compared to peers who do not provide elder care.

A few other noteworthy stats from the study:

  • Adult daughters are more likely to provide help with daily care, and sons are more likely to provide monetary assistance.
  • The total estimated aggregate lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits of these adult-child caregivers is nearly $3 trillion.
    • For women, the total individual amount of lost income (wages, Social Security benefits, pension) due to leaving the labor force early and/or reducing hours of work because of caregiving responsibilities averages $324,044. For men, it averages $283,716.*

Yet despite all of these physical and financial drawbacks, the adult-child-as-caregiver trend continues to grow rapidly in the United States. The MetLife study showed that the number of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to an aging parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years.

Caring for the caregiver

It seems that caring for an aging parent is here to stay. So what can caregivers do to help alleviate some of the stress associated with the gig? Here are a few recommendations:

Prioritize your health

You can’t take care of someone else if you yourself are not healthy. A lot of elements fall under this category, but the short list would include:

  • Get sufficient sleep, which also means laying off the caffeine.
  • Eat healthfully, either by preparing healthy meals at home or finding local restaurants or meal delivery services that can provide nutritious food.
  • Exercise, even if it just means taking 15 minutes to walk around the block once or twice a day.
  • Go to the doctor (and dentist) to ensure you stay on top of any medical issues that might arise.
  • Take time away from your caregiving duties, and don’t feel guilty about it; everyone needs an occasional day off!

Get organized

There are only so many hours in your day, and caring for an elderly loved one can eat up a lot of time, so find an organization system that works for you and your family. Perhaps it is a large calendar where you and other family members denote appointments and events. Maybe it means prioritizing “extracurricular” activities and dropping a few that aren’t as important. Or it could be that a “to-do” list–either on paper or an app on your smartphone–saves you time and headaches. Whatever you choose, find a system that works for you, and it will automatically reduce headaches!

Talk about it

The anxiety associated with caregiving is up there with the stress people experience with new babies, career changes, deaths, and other major life moments. Talking to a trained therapist about the pressure, anger, and other emotions you feel as a result of caregiving can be a welcomed release. There are also numerous support groups offered for caregivers where you can find other people who are going through the same thing as you and can offer advice and emotional support. Family Caregiver Alliance and the Alzheimer’s Association offer online support groups, as well as several in-person groups.

Consider your options

If you agreed to provide care for an aging parent but then realized you have bitten off more than you can chew, it is good to understand all of your choices. A few to consider:

  • Assistive technologies can help seniors in a variety of ways and also give their families peace of mind if they are not physically with their loved one. There are more and more digital devices and computer programs that can do things like help keep track of when to take medications, convert e-books into larger type, monitor when doors open and close (even the refrigerator and microwave door), or get immediate help in an emergency situation.
  • A home-health aide can come to your/your loved one’s home for several hours a day to assist with medical and non-medical needs.
  • Similar to daycare for children, adult day care facilities will supervise your loved one for four or five hours a day. Some of these facilities even offer activities like music, art, and exercise. It is important to note that if your loved one has long-term care insurance, it may cover some of this expense.
  • Assisted living facilities provide seniors with help for daily living activities such as preparing meals, housekeeping, and personal care. While most assisted living facilities have residents who are there for the long-term, some facilities also offer short-term stays (also known as respite care). Long-term care insurance may cover some of this cost too.

Eldercare Locator and the Alzheimer’s Association’s Community Resources Finder can help you locate adult care in your area.

Put on your oxygen mask first

It’s like they say on an airplane: be sure to put your own oxygen mask on before helping those around you. Caring for an aging parent or family member is stressful, but you have to be sure to take care of yourself too. If you educate yourself about the various support options that are available to you and your family, you can improve quality of life for both you and the people you care for.

 

 

 

*https://www.metlife.com/mmi/research/caregiving-cost-working-caregivers.html#key findings

The above content is provided by and with express written permission from My LifeSite | www.mylifesite.net.

 


What to Look for in Memory Care Communities

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or is faced with another serious memory loss condition, there is a good chance they will require professional memory care services at some point. Finding a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or “life plan” community) with memory care will make life for the patient, loved ones, and caregivers more comfortable and enjoyable.

Click above to learn what to look for in a memory care community.



How to Love Your Loved One When They Have a Life Limiting Illness

By: Peg Carmany

When someone you love is diagnosed with a life limiting illness, it may be a time when the kaleidoscope of your life suddenly snaps into focus. Or it may be a time when the laser focus of your life becomes scattered. And very likely, there will be some of both. Of the research I have done, and the practical tips I can share from my own experience, these are my favorite pieces of advice:

1. Remember there is no right answer on how you’re supposed to act, and you should not assume that you are supposed to know exactly what to do and exactly how to act. It’s OK to fall apart, but one word of caution about that: try not to let the person who is ill be your primary source of comfort when you do hit a wall.
2. When trying to follow Tip 1, remember that your established role with this loved one doesn’t necessarily switch at the moment of diagnosis. Perhaps only one of you has ever been good under stress? It’s okay to keep it that way. Both of you may take great comfort in continuing on with familiar patterns.
3. Make it a priority to show your love as your loved one is facing what may be overwhelming and scary. It’s not all roses and chocolates – be authentic, be honest, and be yourself. Express gratitude to them for how they have positively impacted your life – and share happy memories – and don’t be afraid to say goodbye, tenderly.
4. Respect their authority to make their own decisions, whether you like it or not. These are their choices, not yours.
5. Keep things as normal as possible. Continue watching your favorite tv shows together or listening to their favorite music, it can be a very meaningful thing.
6. Laugh when you can, and don’t be afraid to poke a little fun at the whole situation. A sense of humor will lighten any mood!
7. And perhaps most importantly: listen, and give advice only when asked. This one can be the most challenging. Often, we are great talkers, but not the best listeners.

Remember, your loved one needs your emotional support. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often family and friends who live near by are more than willing to help with errands. And, if you need further support, Wesley Hospice can visit your home, the community you live in, and even hospitals.

We send our deepest condolences to the families who are faced with a loved one being diagnosed with a life limiting illness. And, we hope that with these tips you’ll be able to better love your loved one during this time.


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