ComForCare Home Care Serving Somerset & Northern Middlesex Countries

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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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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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Age is Just a Number

Monday , June 1 , 2020

Age is Just a Number

A few days ago, I got this text from a caregiver who has been with us since 2006: “I will be back in Jersey June 4th. Hope u have a job for me. It’s very hot here. I am ok, just very bored.”

Amazingly, this lady is 86 years old!

For the past few years, she has stayed with family in Florida every winter and returns in the summer. I never thought she’d be returning to New Jersey on the same schedule during Coronavirus, but you just can’t keep her in the rocking chair!

This woman is an excellent aide – smart and gracious – and she works harder than many aides a quarter of her age.

Moral of the story? Seniors can help other seniors – and we shouldn’t make assumptions about people’s ability and energy based on age!

Here are some ways we often underestimate seniors’ abilities and strength and what you can do instead:

We Meddle in Decisions

Do you often find yourself jumping into the middle of a situation where you don’t necessarily belong? Much like parents try to shield their children from harm and pain, we often do the same to protect older loved ones.

By making decisions for older adults (whether it’s what they should be eating or where they should live), we rob them of the chance to control their own lives. Don’t forget, seniors have overcome many challenges and difficulties throughout the years, and they’re often much more capable than we give them credit for.

We Don’t Recognize Strengths

Many of today’s older adults did not grow up in an easy environment. They’ve lived through wars, recessions, and social justice movements. They may have had limited resources in the forms of health care and education. If they are immigrants, they may have faced a language barrier or racism.

Even though these older adults are nearing their end of life, they still have a lot of reliance and strength. What you see as “protecting,” they may see as undermining.

We Limit Learning Opportunities

Growing older does not mean that a person is limited in their capacity to learn and grow. In fact, experts say that lifelong learning can help improve brain health!

Despite this, relatives and caregivers of older adults often underestimate the ability of seniors to learn. It is sometimes so bad that seniors are viewed as having child-like abilities, unable to understand simple instructions or comprehend normal adult conversation. Unless there is an underlying mental illness or significant health condition, this is not the case.

We Don’t Value Opinions

The opinions of older adults are often brushed aside as unimportant or trivial. We don’t recognize the importance of their views, even when it comes to their own finances or healthcare. An important first step is to take the time to actually talk to your older adult and find out what’s important to them. This can be a general conversation or about something specific.

Ultimately, whatever decisions you make for your older loved one should occur with their consent, as much as possible. In the long run, having honest conversations leads to better solutions!

Final Thoughts

Respecting seniors and involving them in the decisions surrounding their own lives helps to set the foundation for a honest, open relationship between you and your older loved one.

Posted in: Aging

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