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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Home Health Aides are Heroes, Too!

Monday , April 20 , 2020

Home Health Aides are Heroes, Too!

This week I’d like to shout out to our wonderful home health aides.

We understandably think first of the heroic doctors, RNs, and emergency responders when we think of those making a difference during the pandemic. But now that New Jersey residents are under stay-at-home orders, our staff of professional caregivers and home care nurses are also among the most essential workers.

They are keeping seniors safe and in their homes, helping them monitor their blood pressure and sugar levels, reminding them to stay hydrated, caring for their comfort and hygiene, and reporting any health changes to our nursing staff.

Over the past six weeks that we have been dealing with COVID-19 in NJ, not one of our dozens of homebound clients has had an unexpected hospitalization.

Keeping seniors out of the hospital not only reduces their exposure to coronavirus and other infectious diseases, but it also frees up hospital resources to deal with the current crisis.

ComForCare Response to COVID-19

Since early March, we have taken many steps to reduce the risk of infection to our clients and home health aides. We’ve paid particular attention to our clients who are vulnerable due to chronic pulmonary or heart conditions.

Our nurses, especially, have been working overtime to protect our patients and staff:

  • We have delivered hundreds of masks and bottles of hand sanitizers to our home health aides.
  • Nurse Naomi created a YouTube video on the proper way to handle and store masks.
  • Nurse Kim created a Google questionnaire that is being texted every morning to every caregiver to ensure that any symptoms or possible exposure are flagged. Anyone who might have been exposed is pulled from work until the proper quarantine period is passed, whether or not they ever develop any symptoms.
  • The RNs are checking the responses to these questionnaires daily and making any needed follow-up calls promptly.
  • We’ve asked our live-in caregivers to give up their scheduled and well-deserved time off. We don’t want to risk introducing additional people to the homes of their clients.
  • Caregivers are forgoing the pleasure of ordering food deliveries because we can’t be sure about the safety of the delivery vehicles.
  • We are now performing our 60-day RN reassessments over the phone, using video as needed, rather than coming to the home.

 

Client Health and Safety

During this time, we are asking our clients and their families to immediately report any symptoms or possible exposure to an infected person. Please have a thermometer in your home and check your temperature daily. Any temperature of over 100.4° should be reported immediately to ComForCare and your doctor. Please also be sure to report any new symptoms of coughing or shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea.

It’s best to limit the number of people coming to your home. Be sure, too, that any visitors wear masks, take their shoes off at the door, and wash their hands with soap and water for a full 20 seconds upon entering the home. If they forget, remind them. It’s for everyone’s safety.

Final Thoughts

We don’t know how long the pandemic will be with us, but we are settling in for the long haul.

Please call us anytime with questions, concerns, or for more information. Our RNs and I are happy to talk to you at any time. If we don’t know the answer to your question, we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

For those of you caring for a loved one with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association of America has a helpline to answer specific questions about dementia caregiving. It is open 365 days a year, and the number is 866-232-8484.

Posted in: Health

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There’s No Place Like Home – But Is Yours Senior Safe?

Monday , April 6 , 2020

There’s No Place Like Home – But Is Yours Senior Safe?

Is aging at home a good thing? That depends! Our homes provide a sense of comfort, familiarity, and security.

But, according to one report from Age Safe America, 85% of older adults have done nothing to prepare their homes for aging in place.

Why does that matter? Because falls account for 25% of all hospital admissions and 40% of all nursing home admissions – and 56% of those falls occur in the home.

Let that sink in: More than half of all falls that result in a hospital admission happen in the home.

Luckily, steps can be taken to keep you or your older loved one safe from falls and other dangers in the house. Use this list to assess your home and keep it senior-friendly:

  1. Look for fall hazards. Falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults – and most of them occur in the home. One of the most important things you can do to make your home senior-safe is to remove fall hazards. Here are some things to look for:
    • Loose throw rugs. Rugs without non-slip backing are a serious fall risk. Also look for frayed, torn, or turned up edges, which can lead to unintentional trips and tumbles.
    • Clutter and debris. Make sure walkways and common areas are clear of items such as loose clothing and shoes, magazines, books, trash, electrical cords, and any other clutter.
    • Decorative furniture. Sure, that antique end table from Aunt Betty looks pretty . . . but it’s just one more thing to trip over.

  1. Eliminate fire risks. Did you know that people ages 65 to 74 are almost twice as likely to die in a fire, people between the ages of 75 and 84 are almost four times as likely? Therefore, keeping your home senior-safe also includes removing fire hazards. Here’s how:
    • Keep fresh batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (experts recommend changing them twice a year, when the time changes)
    • Replace and frayed or damaged electrical cords and limit the number or cords plugged into one outlet or power strip
    • Don’t leave unattended candles burning in the home (better yet – don’t use candles at all!)
    • If you use a space heater, keep it at least three feet away from furniture, drapes, bedding, and other flammable items

  1. Safeguard the bathroom. According to the National Institute on Aging, almost 80 percent of falls by people 65 or older occur in the bathroom. Yikes! To ensure your (or your loved one’s) safety, do this:
    • Install grab bars in the shower and near the toilet
    • Consider a walk-in bathtub and a handheld shower
    • Place rubber mats in the shower to prevent slipping
    • Use a bathing chair in the shower or bathtub
    • Set the thermostat to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent accidental burns
    • Replace the toilet seat with a raised toilet seat with handlebars to make it easier to sit and stand
    • Install a nightlight in the bathroom to make overnight trips to the loo a bit safer

  1. Consider the kitchen. Many adults spend a large amount of time in the kitchen. Therefore, it makes sense to make this room as safe as possible.
    • Move frequently used items to lower levels
    • If reaching for items is necessary, use a stepstool rather than standing on a chair
    • Install non-slip mats in front of the sink, stove, and any other areas where you frequently stop and stand
    • Replace standard water faucet handles with single-lever models

  1. Update lighting. The average 60-year-old needs at least three times more light than the average 20-year-old. With that in mind, look around the house: Is the lighting adequate? If not, these tips can help:
    • Replace any burnt-out light bulbs
    • Install new light fixtures or lamps in too-dim rooms
    • Install motion-detecting lights in commonly used areas (such as the bedroom and bathroom)
    • Put light switches where they’re easily accessible, for both safety and ease of use

  1. Make stairs safe. Ideally, a senior’s home would be one level – but that’s often not the case. To avoid unnecessary trips and falls, try the following:
    • Tighten and secure all stair railings. If they wiggle back and forth, they’re not going to stop a fall!
    • Use a contrasting paint color or colored tape to differentiate stair tops from risers. Many seniors have vision issues and are unable to separate one step from the next.
    • Keep the stairs (both indoors and out) clear of debris and clutter
    • Consider a stairlift if physical limitations make it difficult to climb up and down

Although this list is by no means comprehensive, it’s a great place to start! If you’re unsure of whether there are risks in your home, consider calling in a care manager – they will assess the house for safety and point out any red flags!

Posted in: Aging

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