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Caregiving: Why Is Routine Important?

Quality Caregivers Prioritize Routine

Predictable schedules are probably best for everyone, but this becomes especially true as we age.  Surely, you’ve heard someone say that humans are “creatures of habit?” Consistent schedules remind older adults of what’s ahead, bringing a sense of comfort to them. When someone suffers from dementia, daily structure and routine provided by their caregiver is even more important.

Structured Routines Provide Feelings of Security

Structured routines for daily meals, bathing or dressing provide feelings of security for most older adults. Typically, they sleep better as a result of regular sleep and wake up times, too.

Elderly people struggling with dementia become less confused with structured caregiver routines. Sometimes, a dementia patient might forget what was done earlier that day, but he or she will sense what’s coming next in the day’s schedule. Regularly scheduled dining times prevent hunger pangs, reducing considerable stress in dementia patients, who may otherwise have behavioral challenges for the caregiver.

Keeping a regular schedule means less planning for the caregiver and an appreciation of each moment enjoying the person being cared for.

Plan the Routine

Plan the routine with the adult first 

Plan the routine around the person being cared for. When planning meal times, daily care or activities, consider the time of day that the adult seems to function best. When the older adult already has a routine, don’t change it. If he or she is happy waking up early for toast and coffee, let them keep the routine. Keep any adult’s routine as stable as possible.

You’ll need flexibility as well as routine

Keeping a routine is vital, yet flexibility is needed, too. Occasionally, the person might not feel well and will need additional rest, but on good days, an unplanned activity like a walk can feel perfect.

Keep variety with scheduled activities, too 

Schedule activities for each week, yet add some variety, too. Try different types of exercise and cognitive challenges. Add spiritual nourishment and different social events. What hobbies were pursued in the past? Perhaps the caregiver can modify undertakings that are now too difficult.

Keep everything in its place

As a caregiver, only rearrange personal belongings in the home for safety reasons. It can cause confusion and frustration for an elderly adult.

Could your loved one benefit from additional assistance? Home Care Assistance will provide as little or as much in-home help to older adults as needed. Call the Home Care Assistance office nearest you today for more information!

Staying Active is Important at Any Age

Staying active is important at any age. We need regular physical activity to keep our balance, strength, and cardiovascular health. Physical activity also reduces the chance of chronic disease. We can all increase our health and vitality, regardless of age!

Experts recommend 150 minutes or more of weekly exercise. Go slowly at first, and gradually increase frequency and intensity.

Walking is Perfect

Walking is perfect for every age and ability with no need for a gym membership! Older adults can stroll the neighborhood or venture to nature areas with trails. Walking gets even better as a social event if family or friends come along!

Do What You Can

TV doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Ride a stationary bike or walk on a treadmill while watching a TV show. Stretch on the commercial breaks or use hand weights to increase strength. Put on some lively music and dance to get spirits lifted and the body moving.

Gardens with Benefits

Enjoy the many benefits of herbs, produce and flowers from the backyard! Senses awaken from natural fragrances and getting outdoors provides a sense of wellbeing.

Golfing

Golfing can offer healthy opportunities from the bending and swinging, as well as walking to each hole. Besides, there are social, physical and mental aspects of golf that are stimulating to the brain.

Swimming

Swimming is ideal for cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal system health. It’s especially good for anyone with arthritis or joint pain, too. Most community pools have water aerobics classes or times specifically designated for older adults to enjoy the water.

Professional Help is Available

Of course, older adults may need help at times and they could benefit from Home Care Assistance. Professional help is available at any time for assistance with daily tasks or focusing on healthier activities.

Compassionate caregivers can offer assistance with adult mobility or exercise. Sometimes, offering transportation to a doctor appointment is appreciated. In any case, caregivers can allow an aging adult to maintain an independent lifestyle.

Family sometimes realizes there aren’t enough hours in the day to engage in all the activities their loved ones want or need. No reason to be sad or guilty! Allow Home Care Assistance to help. Respite care allows the aging adult or parent to have uninterrupted activity times while the family caregiver gets a well-deserved break.

Home Care Assistance caregivers are able to help with meal prep, physical activity and personal hygiene for short- or long-term. Call Home Care Assistance to inquire about our reliable in-home care for seniors.

How Caregiver Burnout Damages Our Brains

What does caregiver burnout mean? Can it be prevented?

It’s not unusual to read about work-related stress and how it leads to burnout, as it has been studied and talked about often. There hasn’t been as much research specific to family caregiver burnout, yet it can also be stressful and may actually damage the brain, as well.

Caregiver Burnout

Why might you have concern if you are a family caregiver? Realistically, a family caregiver may have more stress than what comes with a full-time career. Unfortunately, it’s even possible to cause damage to one’s own brain, as well as mental and emotional health by taking care of someone you love. The following may help you understand how helping as a family caregiver can create problems for the brain, and what you can do about it.

What Does Caregiver Burnout (or Syndrome) Look Like?

Other people might notice first that a caregiver has burnout, and that he or she is showing the same symptoms seen with severe stress or depression. Symptoms may include, but aren’t limited to, anger or rage, exhaustion, social withdrawal, lack of appetite or weight gain, problems sleeping leading to extreme fatigue, digestive concerns, lowered immune function, and more. You won’t read about “Caregiver Syndrome” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, yet this is a term commonly used by healthcare professionals as they describe what sometimes happens to caregivers.

An excellent post entitled, “The Effects of Caregiver Stress on the Body and Brain,” found on the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center website states that caregiving sometimes has major effects on one’s overall health, especially when the responsibilities extend for long periods of time.

Symptoms of burnout can vary in respect to the caregiver’s genetic traits, education, financial circumstances, and previous mental conditions, but since nearly 70% of caregivers end up suffering from depression, caregiving stress management is important. Self-monitoring and an awareness of one’s own changes or indication of problems can help caregivers get help in a timely manner. As with other forms of chronic stress, caregiver burnout can create serious harm to your brain if left unchecked because stress appears to trigger chemical changes that impact memory capacity and learning abilities.

Situational Versus Long-Term Stress

Caregiving can be extremely challenging and a trial for to keep emotions and psyche intact. Even stress that is considered short-term and temporary can make people anxious, irritable or tense, forgetful or distracted, but it can still get worse with long periods of stress. When caregivers push down or deny negative emotions like guilt, their stress hormone levels tend to rise, and the increased levels may impact physical, emotional and mental health. Research shows that the consequences of caregiving can include lowered immune and endocrine functioning, increased depression, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease and even a risk of early death. A Huffington Post article counseled that lengthy periods of extreme life events can “harm your brain’s memory and learning capacity by reducing the volume of gray matter in brain regions associated with emotions, self-control, and physiological functions.” In other words, chronic stress may shrink the brain.

Tips for Handling Caregiver Burnout Before It Damages your Brain

If stress hormone levels begin to surge, consider improving your brain power with some smart remedies suggested by the Mayo Clinic:

Accept help that gets offered to you. When a friend or family member offers help, accept it! In fact, it makes sense to keep a list of items friends, family or healthcare professionals could assist with, if they volunteer to help. They might run errands, grocery shop, cook homemade meals, do some housekeeping or just take some time with the person you are caring for, in order for you to take a well-deserved break.

Remember to take care of yourself. Caregivers sometimes get immersed in strong feelings of guilt. Beware of this trap, as you’re probably doing a better job than you think as you care for your loved one. Don’t even try for perfection. Guilt can be paralyzing and lead to depression, so do the best you can and remember to take care of yourself, too.

Don’t overdo it. Caregivers assisting loved ones often overdo it and suddenly they realize they’ve run themselves down. Keep yourself feeling good by setting achievable and realistic goals. Set aside some time to keep yourself organized. Learn to say “no.”

Research community resources. Once you’ve identified and created a list of needs, search locally for what might be available to you for resources. You might find classes that educate people in your situation. Perhaps, there are local support groups that can help people like you? Cleaning, transportation services, and meal preparation and home delivery companies may be helpful.

Self-care. Don’t lose yourself or your own health goals. It’s important to get quality sleep, exercise regularly, and eat healthy fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of fresh water and keep up with visits to your own doctor during this time, too.

Respite Care May Help

Sometimes, when you give yourself (and your brain) a reprieve from the daily grind, you feel better, so consider respite care regularly. Respite care means temporary care of the dependent person while the regular caregiver takes time to recuperate and recover. Sometimes respite involves help at home with a professional assisting your loved one. Sometimes, an aide provides assistance while the family caregiver goes on a little vacation, or at least spends a day or two making time for walking or bicycling outdoors. Enjoying social time with friends can help a caregiver feel refreshed.

A family caregiver has vitally important and exceedingly challenging work at hand. If you are a caregiver, take care of yourself!  Keep stress managed as much as possible but if you begin to recognize symptoms of burnout in your behavior, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Taking care of yourself is a priority before you can take care of someone else!

April Is National Stress Awareness Month

In honor of Stress Awareness Month in April, Dallas senior care providers want family caregivers to be more familiar with signs of stress and how to manage it. This annual holiday has been dedicated to spreading the message about the dangers of stress and providing coping strategies since 1992. Stress Awareness Month is important because the information that is shared can help millions of Americans who may be exposed to stress, particularly those caring for senior family members. Additionally, since this holiday has a yearly focus, health care professionals can get the word out about research findings regarding modern sources of stress how to effectively manage them.

What Is Stress?

The National Institute of Mental Health defines stress as the brain’s response to any demand. These demands, and their responses, can be mild, major, or even extreme. Stress, particularly chronic stress, can manifest itself in physical symptoms and result in more serious health complications. For family caregivers, this stress could lead to anxiety, depression, and even burnout.

What Is Stress Awareness Month?

National Stress Awareness Month is an opportunity for family caregivers and others who experience stress to learn more about this condition and how to manage it. This knowledge is also beneficial for those receiving care, as illness is often a source of stress. Just as important, however, are the benefits for caregivers, as this job is both physically and emotionally demanding.

What Are Some Signs of Stress?

  • Low energy
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Constant worrying
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach or nausea 
  • Becoming easily agitated or frustrated

What Are Some Ways to Reduce Stress?

 

  • Exercise regularly
  • Seek emotional support from a trusted friend or advisor
  • Create a list of priorities and learn to say “no” when the list becomes too demanding
  • Schedule time for self care doing relaxing activities
  • Seek help from a health care professional, family member, or respite care provider

What Resources Are Available?

  • Primary care physician
  • National Institute of Mental Health website
  • National Stress Awareness Month website
  • The Mayo Clinic website for caregivers

Premier home care starts with healthy caregivers. In order for family caregivers to remain healthy, sometimes they need some time for themselves. Give yourself the time you need to regroup by turning to Home Care Assistance of Dallas. We provide respite Alzheimer’s, dementia, and stroke care Dallas family caregivers can trust to take care of their loved one’s individual needs in the comfort of home. This gives you the opportunity to unwind and recharge before returning to help your loved one manage illness and recover from injury. Call us today at (214) 216-6811 to learn more and schedule a free consultation.

3 Joys of Being a Family Caregiver

Though being a caregiver can pose a range of challenges, most family caregivers find providing the live-in or hourly home care Dallas seniors need to be highly rewarding. If your senior loved one could use the assistance of a family caregiver, here are three reasons why senior care experts believe it could be worth it.

1. Furthers Familial Relationships

Because being an in-home caregiver for your senior relative requires spending many hours a week together, it’s likely that you will develop a healthier relationship than before. Likewise, most family caregivers agree that there is a special and unique bond that is formed between caregivers and their loved ones that can further an already close relationship.

2. Provides Peace of Mind

If you’re like most families, nursing facilities may not seem like the right option for your senior loved one’s care. Becoming an in-home caregiver for your elderly relative can be an alternative that can help maintain your peace of mind. Rather than wondering if your loved one is receiving one-on-one care, choosing to become a caregiver or selecting professional in-home care for your relative can ensure there is always someone around to help with his or her needs.

3. Offers Comfort for Loved One

While other in-home care options, like hiring a professional hourly caregiver, can benefit many seniors, the familiar face of a family caregiver may enhance your loved one’s level of comfort from the beginning. Having a caregiver that a senior already knows and loves can help your loved one feel relaxed and accept the assistance he or she needs to continue living safely and comfortably at home.

Though you may cherish the time you spend caring for your senior loved one, sometimes even family caregivers need a break. If you need respite from caregiving, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We provide compassionate Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, and dementia care for seniors in Dallas by helping seniors with daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, and personal care. Contact a knowledgeable Care Manager today at 214.363.3400 to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.

Melt Holiday Stress with These Caregiver Tips

Just anticipating holiday hustle and bustle can be a source of anxiety. Family caregivers in particular are susceptible to stress during the holiday season, a trusted provider of in-home care in Dallas have prepared the following tips to help family members ease the tension and enjoy some quality time with their loved ones.

Simplify Holiday Tasks

Many people max themselves out with holiday “must-dos”, but scaling them down will immediately reduce your stress. One way to reassess your priorities is to draw up a simple chart. Write down your holiday tasks, and then ask yourself these four questions:

  • Would the holiday be as meaningful without this activity?
  • Is there an easier way to do this?
  • Am I doing this out of habit, obligation, or by choice?
  • Can this task be shared?

The above stress assessment tool will help shorten your to-do list. Now that you have an overview of what you need to do, organize these activities in order of necessity. Focus on those at the top of your list and don’t worry about the ones at the bottom.

Budget Your time

Enlist the help of your calendar and clock to pinpoint when you should start an activity and designate a specific day for it. For example, figure out when you should do the cleaning, grocery shopping, and cooking in preparation of the holidays. Then when the day for a task arrives, estimate the time it will take to complete it. Is there a job you tend to belabor? If so, set an alarm or timer and try to stick to your time allotment, but don’t get unnerved if the work takes longer than expected. The time allotment is merely a guiding tool.

Make Lists

Do you ever experience “butterfly mind”? It’s when random thoughts keep flitting through your brain, which can get pretty distracting. To net your ideas, get them down on paper and organize your lists accordingly. For example, create several lists: one for menus, groceries, gifts, and chores.

Streamline Shopping 

There are several ways to systematize gift buying:

  • Shop online whenever feasible.
  • Catalog shop and order by telephone.
  • Buy the same gift for as many people as possible. 
  • If you prefer to meander the mall, keep a list in hand. This will prevent you from getting sidetracked, overspending, and overbuying.
  • Is the list of gift recipients way too long? If so, draw names. You can do this for your immediate family, siblings, and extended family. Write names on slips of paper, put them in a hat, and pick one person for whom to buy. 

Laugh Often

Diffuse stress with comic relief. Laughter has health benefits similar to those of exercise in that it lowers cortisol and raises levels of white blood cells. A hearty laugh relaxes muscles for 45 minutes and relieves anxiety and pain. Additionally, shared laughter is a bonding experience and will make the holiday season much more jolly. Here are some ways to exercise your funny bone:

  • Watch a funny movie or sitcom.
  • Recall a humorous story.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Goof around with a child.
  • Do something silly.
  • Tell a good joke.

Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the holiday season overrun the time you give to your senior loved one. Home Care Assistance provides quality live-in care Dallas families can rely upon, whether you need a few hours alone to plan for the holidays or 24-hour assistance. Let our experienced caregivers lighten your load and care for your senior loved one while you focus on making his or her holiday special. Call us today at 214.363.3400 and schedule your free consultation.