ComForCare Home Care Serving Somerset & Northern Middlesex Countries

Posts Tagged aging in place

Helping Older Adults Have A Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving

Monday , November 18 , 2019

Helping Older Adults Have A Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving

With the holidays right around the corner, many older adults and their loved ones are anxiously awaiting Thanksgiving. But even though the holiday is a joyous time for gathering with family and enjoying a meal, it can be overwhelming for some.

Many seniors deal with physical limitations, dietary restrictions, emotional health issues, and more that can make holidays difficult. Some are facing their first Thanksgiving without their spouse. Others don’t have family nearby and will be spending the holiday alone.

If you’re a family member or caregiver for an older adult, a little advance planning can help make all the difference. Here are some tips for making Thanksgiving a stress-free, special day for the seniors in your life:

Get Their Input

Many younger adults feel like taking on the holiday meal planning takes the stress off older adults, finally giving them a chance to “rest.” Unfortunately, a complete lack of input can actually make your older loved one feel left out and ignored. Regardless of their current health status, help your older adult feel involved by asking for suggestions on menu, décor, guest list, or anything else they may be able to help with.

Make Travel Arrangements

If your older loved one is travelling from a long distance to get to your house, consider enlisting some volunteers to bring them along. Many older adults are no longer comfortable driving, especially at night. Keep in mind that they may need trunk space for a wheelchair or walker, and items such as a lumbar support cushion or travel pillow may be appreciated. (Note: If they’re coming from an especially long distance, plan for a few bathroom breaks!)

Remove Safety Hazards

If you’ll have an older adult visiting your home for the holiday, keep in mind that many seniors have physical limitations. Before their arrival, remove any hazards (such as loose cords or area rugs) that could lead to trips and falls and make sure the bathroom is easily accessible. Also consider seating your loved one at the end of the table, so they can easily et up and move around if necessary.

Offer Appropriate Meal Options

Just like you wouldn’t invite over your vegan friends and only offer turkey, you shouldn’t invite seniors without considering their dietary needs. Most older adults have limitations to what they can and cannot eat – for instance, many seniors are on a low-sodium diet and should be offered an appropriate option.  In addition, older taste buds can make certain foods intolerable, and dentures can make it difficult to chew things like meat and especially crunchy vegetables.

Note: Many older adults get tired earlier in the evening than their younger compatriots and a nighttime meal can be exhausting. It can be especially tough for those who suffer from dementia, as they often become more confused and agitated in the evening hours. If you’re hosting an elderly guest this Thanksgiving, consider having lunch instead of dinner!

Help Them Feel Included

Large holiday meals often find several generations all seated around the same table. It’s easy for any one person – especially if they’re quiet – to get lost in the shuffle. Make sure that doesn’t happen to your older loved one by making it a point to include them in conversation and activities. One idea I love: During the meal, try to bridge generation gaps by asking everyone to share something, like their proudest moment of the year, or the thing they are most thankful for.

Final Thoughts

Holidays and other events that change the daily routine can be quite stressful and tiring for the elderly. Providing your older loved one with the support they need can help make the day more enjoyable for everyone.

One option? Consider hiring a caregiver to help out just for the day. They can make sure your older loved one has everything they need, while also allowing you the time to tend to dinner, socialize with other guests, and keep the party moving along!

Posted in: Aging

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If you’re spending your “golden years” caring for your  aging parents, you’re not alone

Monday , November 11 , 2019

If you’re spending your “golden years” caring for your aging parents, you’re not alone

You had your retirement all planned out: Working in your garden, visiting grandchildren, and plenty of travel. Not on your agenda? Caring for your elderly parents during your own golden years.

But many retirees are doing just that.

Longer life spans mean that many people are living well into their 80s and beyond – and their aging children are often their primary caregivers.

If you’re in your 60s or 70s and spending your days giving baths, making meals, and scheduling home aides for an aging loved one, you’re not alone.

In honor of Family Caregivers Month, we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of taking on this monumental task – and teach you how to take care of your own health at the same time.

Longer life spans mean many retirees are still caring for their parents 

Older adults are now living much longer than generations in the past – and many adult children and their parents are now aging together. For some, this is both a blessing and a curse.

Longer life spans mean that children in their 60s and 70s are now caring for parents in their 90s and beyond. And while it can be a true gift to still have that relationship in your older years, it can also create unforeseen hardship.

Why? Because many adults assume that their late 60s and beyond will be a time of life when they can finally give up some responsibilities and relax. But the work that goes into caring for an aging loved one can make that nearly impossible.

Family caregiving can take a financial toll 

One of the most difficult parts of caring for an aging loved one can be the financial responsibilities. Besides forcing many to abandon their retirement dreams, family caregiving can also quickly deplete saving and other financial resources. In fact, more than a third of caregivers say they began saving less after taking on the role.

Even though money from Social Security and state programs can help pay for expenses, the funds are often not enough.

For many retirees, covering the remainder can mean dipping into a nest egg or even selling their own home. Once the money is gone, they may have to cut back on home aides or skimp on other necessities, furthering their own stress.

Even for those who still work a “regular” job, financial hardships can hit in other ways. Many (especially women) are forced to cut back on hours or completely give up their career. Others miss out on promotions or face constant reprimands due to missed time at work or excessively arriving late and leaving early.

Given the choice, however, of giving up their own retirement or putting their parents in a nursing home paid for by Medicaid, many older adults will choose the former. Difficult as it can be, most feel incredibly fortunate to still have their parents by their sides.

 Older caregivers often suffer from health problems of their own 

Money problems aren’t the only hardships that come with caring for an older parent: Many retirees in a caregiving role report significant amounts of stress and anxiety, in addition to more serious health problems.

Studies show that boomer women have it the worst. When surveyed, women in a caregiving role report that they are 78% more stressed than before (compared to 66% of men). Half of them also say they sleep worse, 43% have gained weight, and 42% have stopped exercising.

In addition, many late-in-life caregivers are also suffering from their own health problems, unrelated to the role. These issues (ranging from Type 2 Diabetes to Congestive Heart Failure and more) can worsen due to the stress, physical demands, and social isolation that often accompany caregiving – and research indicates that these harmful effects can last long after a parent’s death.

Taking care of yourself 

The act of caregiving can be draining both emotionally and physically, and it often feels like a thankless task. Unfortunately, when you’re stressed and frustrated, it’s not just your own wellbeing that suffers – the quality of your care is also likely to diminish.

To alleviate overwhelm and keep yourself healthy, experts recommend taking regular breaks, getting routine physicals, maintaining social connections, and keeping up with exercise.

Many caregivers find self-care impossible due to the demands of their role, but there are ways to make it work. Depending on family members willingness and ability to help, others may be able to offer respite for a few hours. Other options include home aides and adult daycare programs (Medicaid often picks up some costs for those with limited resources).

To find out what’s financially doable, it may make sense to seek professional advice.  An accountant, for example, can help find tax breaks for home care and other services.

Bottom line

Caregiving is an act of love and sacrifice, and a very generous thing to do. Despite the hardships, many people consider it an honor to be able to care for those that cared for them.

When you are feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and look at the big picture: Your time, attention, and effort are proving comfort to a loved one during their final years. It is a truly priceless gift.

Posted in: Caregivers

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Caring For A Loved One After Joint Replacement Surgery

Monday , November 4 , 2019

Caring For A Loved One After Joint Replacement Surgery

Joint replacement may seem like an “old person” surgery, but creaky knees know no age! In fact, I can distinctly remember my father having both knees replaced when he was only in his early 40s. And a friend of mine – just 37 years old – recently had both hips replaced.

There are a variety of reasons adults (both young and old) might need joint replacement surgery. For my dad, it was a career in the military and years of physically demanding work that destroyed his knees. And my friend’s hips were ruined after several rounds of cancer-killing radiation were directed at her pelvis.

No matter how old your loved one is when they have a joint replaced, they will need a helping hand to assist them through the various phases of surgery – both before and after. If you’re about to step into the role, understand that it can be a time-consuming and demanding task (but also incredibly rewarding).

Here are some of the ways you can help make the process a little easier:

 

Preparing Your Home For Recovery 

Every joint replacement patient has different needs, and the restrictions they face after surgery will depend on several factors. Still, many people find it helpful to set up a “recovery room” on the first floor of the house. This room should include:

  • Easy access to a nearby bathroom OR a bedside urinal/commode (Note: It may be necessary to install grab bars in the bathroom)
  • A bed that isn’t too high off the ground
  • A telephone or cellphone (with charger) to call for help
  • Bandages and other supplies necessary for wound care
  • A walker or crutches, if needed
  • Open walkways, without rugs or electrical cords in the way
  • Comfortable clothing and shoes that are safe for walking around the house
  • A variety of snacks and beverages
  • Several entertainment options (books, crosswords, television, etc.)

Recovery

During the recovery phase, your loved one may need significant assistance in their activities of daily living.

  • Medication: Depending on the type of surgery, it is not unlikely that one of more medications will be required. Ask the doctor if she can provide the prescriptions in advance, so you can have them ready and waiting at home prior to surgery.
  • Meals and snacks: If you will not be living in your loved one’s home full-time, it is vital that they meals they can quickly and easily make on their own. Try preparing a few options in advance that can be quickly reheated in the microwave – or provide quick meals that don’t have to be heated at all.
  • Wound care: Your loved one will likely have bandages and dressings that need to be changed daily (or more). If possible, meet with your loved one’s doctor in advance to learn proper techniques and safety procedures before outpatient care begins. 
  • Household tasks: Depending on the type of joint replacement your loved one receives (knees, hips, etc.), they may not be able to stand or bend for a period of several weeks. This typically means that most household chores are out of the question. Plan to take on these tasks on your own or arrange for outside help. 
  • Doctors appointments: Post-surgery, your loved on will likely have several follow-up appointments within the first four – six weeks. Missing an appointment can leads to setbacks and complications, so it’s vital to take these follow-ups seriously. 
  • Activity: Exercising can have a big impact on a patient’s recovery. Your loved one’s doctor will likely prescribe a home exercise program in addition to outpatient rehab. Help them chart their efforts and results, and provide the motivation to stay on track.
  • Paperwork: As with any surgery, joint replacement comes with a lot of paperwork. On top of the discharge orders provided by the hospital, your loved one will likely receive reports at each follow-up visit – and an absolute flurry of bills in the mail. Help them stay on top of things by organizing everything in an accordion folder or binder with tabs for each type of correspondence.

Self-Care

Remember during this difficult time that it is also important to take care of YOU. It’s easy for caregivers to fall into the trap of constantly providing and never receiving – and that is a quick road to burnout. Remember to:

  • Take breaks
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Make time for exercise
  • Maintain outside interests
  • Stay in touch with family and friends
  • Get enough sleep

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, this is not the time to grin and bear it. Your lack of wellness won’t only affect you, it will also affect the quality of care you can provide to your loved one. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help if you need it!

Final Thoughts

Proper preparation can help you provide the best care possible for your loved one after their joint-replacement surgery. Recovery can be difficult, but it will be a lot easier with you helping out!

Posted in: Home Care

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