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Archive for June, 2020

Tips for Avoiding Caregiver Burnout During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Monday , June 22 , 2020

Tips for Avoiding Caregiver Burnout During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Being a family caregiver is stressful and demanding at any time. But now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, caregivers are navigating uncharted waters.

The already difficult role has taken on new dimensions, as they must consider things like strict hygiene measures and social isolation.

Now, more than ever, caregiver burnout is a real possibility.

If you find that your own health and well-being are impacted by being a caregiver during this difficult time, keep reading.

We’ll give some tips on caring for your loved ones during the pandemic – and some tips for caring for you, too.

Caring for an Older Loved One During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Caregiving is always a challenging role, but during the coronavirus outbreak, there is even more to consider. First and foremost: The health and wellbeing of you and your loved one. During this time, it is essential to take extra measures to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Here are a few tips from Sunrise Senior Living: 

  1. Wash hands frequently: One of the best ways to prevent sickness is to wash your hands in hot, soapy water throughout the day. This guidefrom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines a 5-step process for proper handwashing.

  1. Use hand sanitizer: While hot water and soap will always be the best option, hand sanitizer can help when you are out in public and don’t have access to a restroom. Choose one that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

  1. Don’t touch your face: Most people don’t realize how many times an hour they touch their face until they try not to do so. A quick rub of the eye or a scratch on the nose happens more often than you think. If you’ve been exposed to a virus and have it on your hands, touching your face can easily transfer the bug.

  1. Take good care: A healthy diet combined with exercise and a good night’s sleep help keep your immune system strong. That’s vital for fighting off viruses of all kinds.

  1. Limit public activity: Social distancing is another important step in protecting a senior family member from COVID-19 and other viruses. To the extent that you can, avoid going out in public while viruses are spreading. Utilize services like home delivered meals, drive-through pharmacies, and online shopping wherever possible.

  1. Screen all visitors:Be vigilant about limiting who can visit your home or the home of your loved one during this time. People who are out in public may be carrying the virus and not showing any symptoms. By allowing others into your home, you are placing yourself and your loved one at risk.

  1. Explore virtual physician visits: If a senior has a routine medical appointment scheduled, call the physician’s office. Many doctors are moving to virtual visitsuntil the pandemic is under control.

Taking Care of Yourself

Burnout is always a risk for someone in a caregiving role, but these days, it’s more likely to occur than ever before.

Duties related to COVID-19, like those listed above, add a lot onto the caregiver’s already-full plate. On top of any regular daily activities, it can be a lot to handle.

How do you know if you’re experiencing burnout? According to the Cleveland Clinic, caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. People experiencing burnout may feel cynical, impatient, fatigued, or disillusioned.

And unfortunately, it’s not just the caregiver that suffers. Those experiencing burnout may have a difficult time engaging with others and, as a result, unintentionally neglect their duties.

There are a lot of things you can do to help prevent burnout from occurring, from meditation to regular exercise, but taking a break is hands-down one of the best things you can do.

That’s where respite care comes in.

What is Respite Care?

ComForCare and other similar companies offer a service called respite care. Respite care, in a nutshell, is a way for family caregivers to have a little time to themselves.

Respite care is offered in a variety of ways: You can take a break for a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks. By taking a break, you will become less stressed, better rested, and better able to perform your caregiving duties. 

It’s important to preserve your own well-being in order to be at your best when caring for your loved one. Reach out today to find out how ComForCare can help: (908) 927-0500.

Posted in: Caregivers

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The Surprising Ways Gardening Can Benefit Seniors

Monday , June 15 , 2020

The Surprising Ways Gardening Can Benefit Seniors

Exercise is an important part of daily life for seniors, and its benefits are well-documented. A regular fitness routine not only helps improve strength but can also enhance mental health and delay the onset of many age-related diseases.

Despite these benefits, many older adults don’t love the idea of going to the fitness center several times a week. We get it – exercise can get boring.

Luckily, fitness doesn’t have to mean aerobic exercise or weight training. It can be as simple as puttering around in the garden!

Studies show that spending time weeding, planting, and sowing is an excellent way to boost mental and physical health. It stimulates the senses, provides physical activity, and helps us reconnect with nature.

Keep reading to find out more about the benefits of gardening for seniors – and how to best grow your own garden.

How Does Gardening Benefit Seniors?

 

  1. It lowers stress. Studies have shown that gardening can lower levels of the stress-producing hormone cortisol and raise the levels of serotonin, a calming chemical that helps improve mood. Some studies have even linked gardening to a reduction in symptoms of depression. In addition, gardening increases hand-eye coordination, which helps to keep the brain and body in sync.

 

  1. It boosts heart health. Did you know that in the 60–79-year-old age group, 69.1% of men and 67.9% of women have cardiovascular disease? Luckily, studies have found that regular gardening can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 30% for people over 60. Additionally, gardening can help you burn 200 to 400 calories and hour, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

 

  1. It increases mobility. Mobility problems in seniors can stop them from taking part in activities they enjoy and can lead to social isolation and depression. Many older adults begin to limit what they do physically, believing they are saving themselves from injury – but remaining active is the key to good health. Gardening is known to engage lesser-used muscles and to help build strength and mobility.

 

  1. It increases brain health. No one knows exactly what causes Alzheimer’s Disease or how to prevent it, but studies show that positive live choices, such as gardening, can have an impact. In fact, the physical demands, critical thinking skills, and sensory awareness have been shown to reduce the risk of dementia by up to 36%.

 

  1. It encourages healthy eating. There are many reasons why it can be difficult for seniors to stick to a healthy diet. New food aversions. Difficulty chewing. Dietary restrictions. Boredom. The list goes on and on. But growing your own garden makes it easy to access healthy, delicious foods in season – including many you can pluck off the plant and eat on the spot, like snap peas, cherry tomatoes, or berries.

Final Thoughts

Gardening can be an enjoyable activity when the weather is nice, and the benefits are many. One of the best things about gardening for seniors is that it is adaptable for all skill and ability levels – for example, potted plants or raised beds can be used instead of a traditional garden for those who can’t bend or kneel.

Know your limits, take breaks as necessary, but – most of all – HAVE FUN!

Happy gardening!

Posted in: Health

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Gardening Therapy for Seniors with Dementia

Tuesday , June 9 , 2020

Gardening Therapy for Seniors with Dementia

Summer weather is here, and many of us are trying to find ways to spend more time outdoors. Gardening is a great way to spend time in nature, and a great way to destress and relax. It’s also an amazing activity for older adults suffering from dementia.

For those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, participating in familiar activities, like gardening, can provide a sense of comfort. Other benefits include improved sleep at night, less agitation, better nutritional habits, and prevention of behavioral challenges.

Here’s everything you need to know about starting a garden for someone living with dementia:

Why Gardening?

There are plenty of activities – both indoors and out – that can be appropriate for those living with dementia. So, what makes gardening so special?

Unlike cooking, or aerobics, or even puzzles, participating in gardening is possible at every stage of progression. Whether your loved one is in the earliest phases of dementia, or nearing the end, gardening can be suited to meet their needs.

  • In the earliest stages, many dementia patients retain much of their functional capability and require minimal assistance with everyday tasks. If gardening is in their wheelhouse, it’s likely that they can continue with their routine – from planting, to weeding, to picking.
  • Later, as your loved one enters the middle stage of dementia, they may need some assistance with daily tasks – and depression, anxiety, and irritability may enter the game. Gardening can be a great part of their care plan at this point. Not only does it help ease those uneasy feelings, but it can improve social interactions and provide sensory stimulation.
  • Near the end, when dementia patients enter the final stage of dementia, they experience a great deterioration in their ability to care for themselves. Often, they spend much of the day sleeping. During waking hours, agitation and restlessness are constant companions. Still, they may be enjoy simply sitting in the garden (or even walking the paths, if they are able).

Designing a Garden for Dementia Patients

Whether your loved one would like to grow vegetables, or flowers, or just wants somewhere peaceful to sit, special considerations need to be taken. According to one study, in order for gardening therapy to be successful, it must be adapted to the population living with dementia.

What does that mean?

  • Gardens should include familiar elements that remind your loved one of previous stages of their life
  • Ensure that the garden is accessible – if your older adult is in a wheelchair, for instance, they will need wider pathways
  • Gardens should have an enclosed perimeter to discourage accidental wandering
  • All spaces should include safety features, such as non-slip pathways, to reduce fall risk
  • Use trees or a table with an umbrella to provide shade
  • Avoid growing toxic plants (especially those which may be mistaken for food!)
  • DO grow “snackable” plants, such as berries, snap peas, and cherry tomatoes

Final Thoughts

No matter what stage of dementia your older loved one is in, spending time in the garden can help improve their quality of life. By implementing the tips above, you can help them stay mentally engaged and delay the progression of their disease.

Posted in: Dementia

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