7 Ways to Get a Break from Caregiving

As a caregiver, often one can feel isolated and cut off from society.  You discover you need time for yourself and a break from caregiving.

So what are some ways to reconnect with society and friends while also helping yourself?hope and comfort for caregiver

  1. Go out to lunch or a cup of coffee with a friend—having time with a friend is much needed and is a great break from your duties, as well as catching up with others.
  2. Have a shopping date with a friend—even window shopping allows time for a break.
  3. Get a job—I have a friend who cares for her husband. For a break, she works for four hours a day three days a week at a local supermarket.  Her daughter sits with her husband so she can help.  This lady has expressed what a huge help this is to just get out of the house and away.
  4. Go to church or a Bible study

    caregiver need to care for themselves
    caregiver need to care for themselves
  5. Take a class—often libraries, community centers and local colleges/universities offer a wide range of classes that are either free or affordable. These can be anything from a one to two hour class to meeting for six to twelve weeks at a time.
  6. Volunteer—many places are looking for volunteers that are dependable. Be up front about what time and hours you are able to offer.
  7. Join a club—find a book club, gardening club or another group with an interest you enjoy. Ask your friends and church members or search on a website such as Meetup.com
  8. Bonus—Go see a ball game or enjoy a concert.

 

How do you get out for a short time period?

What is Physical Wellness?

Exercise is part of the plan for physical wellness...
Exercise is part of the plan for physical wellness…

Physical wellness is one of the most talked about aspects we discuss in our society.

Every one wants to look like the super models on the cover of magazines.

Here at The Wellness Life, we are not concerned with looking like a supermodel.  However, we are concerned with being physically fit.  The goal is to have a healthy body from the inside out.

healthy foods and nutrition is another important component to being physically healthy
healthy foods and nutrition is another important component to being physically healthy

This means learning to exercise and gain strength, eating nutritionally rich foods, being in comparitively good health and being at a relatively healthy BMI.

I’ll admit that I struggle with physical wellness and if you followed my journey on my main site at DianaLeaghMatthews you will have seen that struggle.  I’ll share more with you dear readers as we move forward.

What is your greatest struggle with physical wellness?

7 Benefits of a Caregiver Support Group

We all need support when dealing with caregiving
We all need support when dealing with caregiving

Caregiving is stressful.  Each caregiver deals with the stress in different ways, but the one thing that is evident is that it takes a toil on the mind, spirit and often even the body.

As an Activities Director I see this stress in a variety of different ways every day.

So I searched for an answer and decided to start a support group.

What are the benefits of a support group?

  1. A listening ear—we all need to vent and get our feelings out. This provides a safe place to release all of the frustration and tension that builds up.
  2. People that understand—the people there are in the same circumstance and know how you feel.
  3. A friendly smile—we all need a friendly smile and comforting nod.

    You Are Not Alone in your journey
    You Are Not Alone in your journey
  4. An outing—a chance to get out of the house for a short time
  5. Resources—other caregivers can provide resources that have been helpful to them to research and use.
  6. Tips and Suggestions—again, those in the support group can provide tips and suggestions to help with issues and frustrations.
  7. Opportunity to brainstorm—this group provides an opportunity to brainstorm for issues on how to overcome an obstacles or frustration.
  8. Bonus—New friends—this group provides you with the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.

As a caregiver, I strongly encourage you to search for a caregiver support group in your local area.  If one is not available, then start one.

What benefits have you found in a support group?

Cherishing the Moments

There are times when I get tired of being a caregiver, but I remind myself to cherish the moments.  The day will arrive when I will no longer have my loved one.

Cheirsh the time you have together
Cheirsh the time you have together

So what are some ways to cherish the moments:

Listen to what they have to say

  • Discuss their lives—this is difficult as they have less to say; but often we listen to descriptions of the book my grandmother is reading
  • Listen to memories and family stories
  • Put away devices—my grandmother doesn’t understand the computer and iPhone. While we can’t put them away completely; we do try to designate time without them each day/visit
  • Enjoy the time together—for us this often involves just taking a ride or sitting quietly
  • Celebrate Christmas—I have a friend whose has a parent that was only given a few months to live. Knowing the parent would not make it to Christmas, they celebrated early.  {This could also work for other special events or holidays}

How do you cherish the moments?

Welcome to the Wellness Life

Welcome to The Wellness Life.  This is a new series I am excited to begin on Tuesday’s.

Eight years ago, I was in the middle of an abusive situation.  I had been completely stripped down from the self-confident woman I’d been years earlier to an emotional and physical wreck.

In January 2009, I returned to my family and began the process of rebuilding my life.  This was a long process and in some areas I still have many miles to go.

That is why living a life of Wellness is so important to me.  Not just in one area of our lives, but in all areas of our lives.  Often you will see six or seven areas of life wellness, but while thinking about it I came up with 12 different areas for us to focus on.

I have some of these areas in which I’ve made much progress, but many others in which I have struggled, stumbled and failed more than I’ve succeeded.  However, I refuse to give up believing that one day with God’s help I will reach that area of wellness.

So what are those areas in The Wellness Life:

  1. Physical

    The WellnessLife
    We all need a life of wellness
  2. Emotional
  3. Mental
  4. Spiritual
  5. Financial
  6. Creative
  7. Social
  8. Relationships
  9. Intellectual
  10. Occupational
  11. Environmental
  12. Rest and Relaxation

Over the coming weeks we will take an in-depth look and definition of each of these areas for a life of wellness.

Where do you struggle the most in your wellness life?

Pause, Praise and Pray

“I go to work to get away.”  A lady in the support group I lead admitted rather sheepishly.

Take time to Pause, Praise and Pray
Take time to Pause, Praise and Pray

Caring for a loved one is very tiring and trying.  A loved one with Alzheimer’s, that needs constant supervision, is even more of a trial.

Caregiving cannot be a lone support.  Don’t be afraid to admit you need help and to ask for it.

We all need a break.  Whether it’s to work, to go shopping, to do something special for ourselves or be pampered.  Don’t be afraid to get away.

No one can go 24/7 without becoming exhausted, depressed and eventually physically ill.

I enjoy reading the blog Living in the Shadows of Alzheimer’s.  While documenting her life with her husband that has Alzheimer’s, Sherri often reminds herself {and her readers} to take time to Pause, Praise and Pray.

How do you take time to pause, praise and pray?

Caregiving Monday: Thank a CNA

Do you have a loved one in a nursing facility?

CNAs are there to assist the nurses and help with activities of daily living
CNAs are there to assist the nurses and help with activities of daily living

Take the time to thank a CNA {Certified Nursing Assistant}.  While everyone’s job is important and the facility should work as a team, the CNA’s take on the bulk of the work for a fraction of the cost.

I often hear frustrations over how long it takes to answer a call light or about a need.  In my position, I can listen but I do not have the skills to assist with activities of daily living {such as dressing, toileting, etc}.

While there are some CNAs that may not pull their weight, the majority of CNAs work hard.  They often have ten or more residents to care for at a time.

So the next time you visit your loved one I encourage you to take a moment to thank a CNA.

How has a CNA helped you?

World Alzheimer’s Day

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day.

September 21 is World Alzheimer's Day
September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day

September 21st, is the date chosen by the Alzheimer’s organizations, to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia.

According to Alzinfo.org, someone develops Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds.

With Alzheimer’s, family members slowly watch their loved one die again and again.  With each stage comes more loss of memory and motor skills.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve witness pain cross an individual’s face because their parent did not remember them.

Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.

3 Everyday Lessons for an Alzheimer’s Caregiver by Kathleen Brown

Today, I am thrilled to welcome Kathleen Brown to Caregiving Monday.  She is going to share lessons she has learned from being an Alzheimer’s Caregiver.  This seemed very apropos today, because Wednesday is World Alzheimer’s Day.  Welcome, Kathleen!

 

3 Everyday Lessons for an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
by Kathleen Brown

Sapphires were once associated with clear thinking
Sapphires were once associated with clear thinking

I discovered Mom had Alzheimer’s during a September trip. September. Its flower is the forget-me-not; its gemstone, the sapphire. Sapphires were

once associated with clear thinking. As I began caring for Mom, in the house where I grew up, I hoped the clear thinking part was for me.

If you’re an at-home caregiver, you know it presents unique challenges. My first weeks with Mom felt like one emergency after another; I was on adrenaline overload. Then I began noticing the miracles: tiny ones (finding one of Mom’s shoes in the trash can), and huge ones (Mom suddenly agreeing to a long-needed bath). Feeling the Lord’s presence and help, I calmed down and began to learn. Fear not—you’ll see miracles, too.

Finding the best way, however, means we must look at all the options.
Finding the best way, however, means we must look at all the options.

 

Three of the Biggest Everyday Lessons

 

#1-You always have options.

In the beginning I thought there was only one right way to accomplish any care task. Wrong. There will always be more than one way to do what you need to do. Finding the best way, however, means we must look at all the options.

Example: Doctor to Mom: “Exercise.”
Mom to doc: “No.”
Solution: Two carts at the mega-store. While Dad shopped with one, Mom used the other like a walker, happy to stroll with me all around the store.

 

Laughing in the face of Alzheimer’s is absolutely necessary for survival
Laughing in the face of Alzheimer’s is absolutely necessary for survival

#2-Be ready to laugh.

Laughing in the face of Alzheimer’s is absolutely necessary for survival. The day Mom opened her mouth and I saw her dentures were in upside down, I smiled when I wanted to cry. After I fixed them, I laughed. Her poor gums were no longer being bitten by false teeth! Humor is an invaluable companion in caregiving.

 

When you need strength, you’ll have it.
When you need strength, you’ll have it.

#3-You will make it, even through the most difficult times.

When you need strength, you’ll have it. When you need words, they’ll come to you. When there’s nothing you can do to help your loved one, she will, against all odds, help herself. I can’t tell you how it happens—who can explain a miracle?—but I can tell you that resolution

always comes. Expect it.

Expecting solutions widens your field of vision. You’ll find resources and strategies you won’t see if your eyes are closed in despair.

We hope effective treatments for Alzheimer’s will come—someday. Ways to cure and even prevent it. Until then, our peace will be in knowing we can help our loved ones through it. We can.

 

 

Kathleen Brown
Kathleen Brown

 

Kathleen Brown is a writer, speaker, and firm believer in everyday miracles. The author of A Time for Miracles: Finding Your Way through the Wilderness of Alzheimer’s, she focuses her work on needs of at-home Alzheimer’s caregivers. You can reach Kathleen through her blog, www.hopeandhelpforalzheimers.wordpress.com, or by email to http://kbrown.writer@gmail.comkbrown.writer@gmail.com.

 

 

All pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com and are free creative commons pictures

Beware of those Taking Advantage of the Elderly

In the process of moving my grandmother, we came across a couple who at first appeared to be very helpful and considerate.  However, the more time spent together the more we discovered how much they were attempting to take advantage of the situation.  Even when boundaries were set in place they attempted to cross over these boundaries.

Beware of those out to take advantage of the elderly
Beware of those out to take advantage of the elderly

They were very good at what they had done and we heard enough tales from others to discover this couple had their act down to a science.

Thankfully we were there to protect and watch out for my grandmother.  However, dealing with these individuals was a great headache and very stressful.

Sadly, this couple is not alone and there are numerous individuals out there willing and ready to take advantage of the elderly in a variety of ways.

So how can we prevent this?

  • Be aware of who the elderly are talking with
  • Block soliciting calls
  • Assist with their bills to make sure they are not sending money to scammers
  • Be the front person for any transactions
  • Instruct your elderly parent not to allow strangers in the house

How have you protected your loved ones from being taken advantage of?

We All Need Someone to Listen

Caregiving can be very trying at times and we all need someone to listen.

We all need a listening ear
We all need a listening ear

We all need someone with whom we can share both our frustrations and the funny moments.

Now that my grandmother is living with Mama, we discover the need to share and vent has become even more important.

At least once a week, I’ll receive a text or call from Mama to share her conversations.

Two of these sound something like the following:

“It’s 6:30 and she’s pulled the shade down.  Never mind that it’s still light outside.”

“Mama had a frosty for lunch.  I said, “I guess you don’t want any ice cream since you had a frosty” tonight.  She said “I can eat a little.  The frosty was for lunch.”

Sometimes it’s the small things we need to share.  That’s okay.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone?

Who listens to you?

Caregiving Monday: When a parent moves in

Recently we moved my grandmother in with Mama.  This is a learning process for everyone involved.

The time has come for a transition in the life of our elderly loved one
The time has come for a transition in the life of our elderly loved one

Finding time alone is even more difficult.  Even if Mama goes back to her bedroom, my grandmother will come to check on her if she’s back there for more than a few moments.

Trying to explain that she needs time to herself goes unheeded. So what do you do when a parent moves in?

However, there are ways in which we can receive help.

  • When I’m in town I’ll take my grandmother off on errands or to ride through the countryside for a while
  • Mama and I will run errands together, which gives us time to talk and share
  • I’ll stay with my grandmother, so Mama can run errands
  • We ask friends {from time to time} for help
  • We hired someone to take her to church and doctor appointments {this also helps Mama so she does not have to take more time off work}

How have you dealt with a parent moving in with you?

Alzheimer’s Patients Don’t Like to Be Alone

While working with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients over the years, I’ve noticed most of them don’t like to be alone.  This could be because of the confusion the disease creates.

Those with Alzheimer's are more perceptive than we give them credit
Those with Alzheimer’s are more perceptive than we give them credit

Sometimes the disease demands they are not alone because of their actions, also.

However, some of the reasons I’ve noticed this are:

  • Need reassurance not alone
  • Need reassurance someone cares about them and loves them
  • Need guidance to know what’s next
  • Need comforting when they are confused

What reasons have you noticed in Alzheimer’s patients that don’t like to be alone?

When A Loved One is Dying

I often see on message boards questions about loved ones that are in the end stages of life.

Often this includes loved ones:

Those dying see a world beyond what the rest of us can see
Those dying see a world beyond what the rest of us can see
  • Seeing people that others can’t see
  • Talking to people others can’t see in the room
  • Reaching up or out towards others
  • Making comments such as “He’s so beautiful” or “heaven is beautiful”
  • Mentioning loved ones long deceased
  • Even claiming to have a glimpse of heaven and sharing what was seen
  • Open eyes when in a coma and look straight up
  • Smile at an unseen entity

All of this is very common in the end stages of life.  This is a time and occurrence that none of us are going to understand until we are there.

Just as the journey through life is different for everyone, the journey towards life in heaven is different for everyone.

However, I want to assure you that all of these situations mentioned are very common.

This is a time to love and comfort the person leaving us for a better place.heaven

Remember, hearing is the last of our senses to leave us.  Even if your loved one is in a coma they can still hear you.

We may not be able to see what our loved one sees, but we can be assured that angels and loved ones long deceased are with us and waiting to escort our loved one into their new home and to meet Jesus.

Caregiving Can’t Be a Lone Sport

“I can do it alone.”  I’ve often heard this from caregivers.  They think they can do it all alone.

However, we can’t!

Caregivers need help and support
Caregivers need help and support

I recently heard a story from a woman that had a stroke in her early 20s.  Her husband insisted on caring for her by himself for the next twenty years.  He refused to accept help from anyone.  Now they are divorced and to receive the care she needs, she is in a nursing facility.

Remember:

  • Caregivers cannot carry the burden alone.
  • We all need time to rest and recharge our batteries.

Often we hear of the caregivers that pass away long before the one they are caring for.  This is because they wear themselves out.

As caregivers we need to:

  • Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.be there
  • Develop a schedule and strategy that will work.
  • Bring in or hire a team that can support you.
  • Explore your options and local resources.
  • Take time for ourselves
  • Remember we need a team or village

How do you prevent from making caregiving a lone sport?

9 Ways Alzheimer’s Changes Our Loved Ones

The diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer’s means the change in our lives as we know it.

Often the change is slow and other times it is rapid.

However, the one thing that is for sure is that Alzheimer’s changes our loved ones.

Our loves one may now be more:

People with Alzheimer's aren't that different than the rest of us. They just want to feel loved.
People with Alzheimer’s aren’t that different than the rest of us. They just want to feel loved.
  1. agitated
  2. easily flustered
  3. react differently
  4. may express anger
  5. may show out
  6. may withdrawal into self
  7. lose interest in previous hobbies and activities
  8. personality change
  9. becomes more fixated on things

What changes have you seen after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis?

10 Benefits of Hospice

hospice 2

 

 

 

Recently, I’ve learned of several families that placed a loved one in hospice.

This is never an easy decision. There’s no easy way to prepare for this.

However, I’ve worked with hospice on numerous occasion.

Some of the benefits of hospice are:

  1. Helps in decision makinghospice
  2. Offers support groups
  3. Offers spiritual support
  4. Certified and knowledgeable workers in the end of life stages
  5. Provides knowledgeable feedback
  6. Oversees the final preparations {such as contacting mortuary, having death certificate issued, etc.}
  7. Provides services to you at home, in a hospital, at a nursing facility or at their own facility
  8. Continues to care for your loved one through a decline—while usually this is for six months or less, at times their services extend beyond this time period. If the loved one improves they can be discharged and later readmitted when a decline reoccurs.
  9. Give the patient and their family a sense of dignity
  10. Respects the patient’s wishes
  11. Bonus: Lessens financial burden of being in the hospital

How has hospice been beneficial for you?

Acceptance of an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

I’ve worked with many families that have a loved one with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Often I see a struggle to accept the diagnosis.

Accepting a loved one has Alzheimer's is not always easy. Sometimes we have a mental block.
Accepting a loved one has Alzheimer’s is not always easy. Sometimes we have a mental block.

This happens in a variety of ways:

  • Mental block
  • Inability to accept changes
  • Lack of knowledge about the disease
  • Belief loved one will be healed
  • Denial

 

Often you hear the saying that when you have a loved one with dementia you “mourn the loss of them now, to mourn the loss of them all over again when they’re gone.”

 

That is so true.  The person we know and love is no more as dementia changes the person.

 

Acceptance of the disease is a private journey that everyone has to reach in their own way and time.

  • However, a few tips to help are:

    Cheirsh the time you have together
    Cheirsh the time you have together
  • Educated self on the disease
  • Celebrate the time you have with your loved one
  • Listen to the professionals and be open to what they are saying
  • Understand you can slow the disease but not stop it
  • Pray and ask God’s help and guidance on this journey

 

How have you dealt with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis of a loved one?