A few years ago, my father-in-law experienced a major medical crisis and as a result he was hospitalized. He was in intensive care for a time but eventually gained enough strength so that he was able to return home. I remember being called over to his home after he was discharged from the hospital so that I could help him settle in and organize his medications for his full-time caregiver. I sat down with the long list of medications and focused on the task of setting up his pill cassette. There were more than twenty medications, each needing to be administered at varied times throughout the day. Setting up his medications was an overwhelming experience even with my nursing background and comfort with all things medical. I cannot imagine how a family caregiver without professional medical training might fare in a similar situation.
Medication management is a task frequently undertaken by family caregivers. In fact, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP study Caregiving in the US 2015 more than 6 in 10 caregivers assist a love one with managing their medications. However, most caregivers do not feel that they are properly prepared to safely manage the medications a loved one is taking. This lack of understanding is a major source of dis-stress as having inadequate knowledge about the actions and possible side effects of medications and the symptoms associated of possible drug interactions can directly impact a loved one’s quality of life.
As a caregiver, you must often act as the gatekeeper for the medications of a loved one. Although, you may not be a medical expert, it is important to take note of medications prescribed to a loved one. The following are five tips that you may find helpful as you assist your loved one manage his or her medications.
Schedule a pharmacy consult. As acaregiver it is important that you rely on trusted partners to help manage the challenges your loved one may have with medications. Whether you need assistance with understanding new medications and possible side effects, need help with setting up refills for all prescriptions on the same day each month, setting up delivery, or assisting with reminders for your loved one to take their medications scheduling a pharmacy consult can be of great benefit. During a pharmacy consult the pharmacist can go over each medication and help you understand the actions and possible side effects of each medication. The pharmacist can also assist with contacting the doctor so that they can work together to discontinue ineffective medications and also help you to streamline your loved one’s prescriptions so that they are all dispensed at one pharmacy. Consults can be performed via phone or in person. It is best to contact the pharmacist directly to set up a consult for your loved one.
Schedule a wellness visit with your loved one’s pharmacist. A Wellness Prescription visit is similar to an annual physical. During a wellness visit the pharmacist will perform a medication reconciliation and review to make sure that your loved one is adhering to his or her drug regimen and experiencing positive results. The visit also includes a cost saving analysis, an insurance formulary check, prior authorization assistance with your insurance company and Pharmacogenetic counseling. As you can see it makes sense to schedule a ‘checkup’ for the medications your loved one takes at least once a year. More than one visit may be necessary if you feel your loved one is not getting the desired results or is suffering from side effects from his or her drug regimen.
Seek out pharmacogenetics testing. The average adult over the age of 65 takes seven or more prescription medications. And while most medications are perfectly safe, from time to time you or your loved one may take a medication or a combination of medications that don’t suit your body. As a result, you may end up experiencing an adverse reaction. Pharmacogenomics is the science behind how your genetic makeup impacts the way you metabolize a particular drug. The PGx test will show what drugs work best for your loved one but more importantly, what drugs will not work and should be avoided. This test is ordered by your loved one’s primary physician and will assist in the right drug being prescribed at the right dose for your loved one from the beginning decreasing the chances he or she will experience an adverse drug reaction.
Maintain a list of prescribed and over-the-counter medications. As a caregiver you are often acting as the gatekeeper for the medications of a loved one. Keeping a running tab on medications will aid in maintaining continuity. One tip that may assist in keeping track of medications is to list the medications. It may also be useful to take that list along each time your loved one has a doctor’s appointment. The key is to keep track of all medications a loved one takes, in addition to keeping the doctor and pharmacist informed.
Register for the upcoming webinar, Pharmacists as Caregivers, with Ken Sternfeld, Pharmacist and Founder of RXVIP Concierge. This live webinar is scheduled for March 22ndfrom 1-2pm CST. The discussion will focus on how you can proactively partner with the pharmacist and best advocate for your loved one with regard to the medications he or she is currently taking. Registration is free however, space is limited. Please register today!
Medication management can be one of the more complex, yet impactful aspects of caring for a loved one. Pharmacists have long been considered a trusted health care resource. Reaching out to a pharmacist or your loved one’s primary physician is vitally important to successful medication management.
Do you have any best practices that you might share regarding proper management of prescription medications?
Three years ago my mother-in-law (“Mom”) was hospitalized after she contracted a terrible strain of influenza. At the height of her illness, she had a stroke that left her with limited mobility and a loss of functioning on her right side. After a year of rehabilitation, Mom was able to move in with Grandma, who became Mom’s primary caregiver. This arrangement has worked well for a time, with Mom and Grandma mutually benefiting from companionship and emotional support.
However, as of late, Mom and Grandma have become increasingly irritated and disagreeable, both in their moods and in their interactions with one another. A few weeks ago, their grumpiness reached a fever pitch, and my husband and I were forced to intervene. After a heartfelt conversation with the pair, it appears as though their primary source of distress stems from Mom’s dressing and bathing routine. In essence, Mom has become resistant to accepting Grandma’s assistance with bathing, and Grandma has grown weary of strategizing ways to overcome Mom’s resistance.
If you are a caregiver who assists your loved one or client with his or her activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, and grooming, you are not alone. In fact, according to the study Caregiving in the US 2015, one in four caregivers assists a loved one with ADLs. Moreover, caregivers, like Grandma, who assist a loved one with ADLs are inclined to experience higher levels of physical and psychological distress than caregivers who do not perform these types of caregiving tasks.
Caregiver Wellness U Model
Physical and psychological wellness are a part of the Caregiver Wellness: U model, a conceptual model that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of your health on a holistic basis. The components are not chronological; rather, they represent collective components.
What does it mean to be psychologically well? Being psychologically well means that you have adequate coping skills to deal with the sometimes competing emotions associated with caring for your loved one or client.
What does it mean to be physically well? Physical wellness encompasses all the activities that keep you physically healthy as a caregiver. You are physically well if you exercise regularly, participate in physical activity without bodily pain, keep your blood pressure under control, abstain from smoking, eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight, limit your alcohol consumption, and get adequate rest.
Tips for addressing the psychological aspects of bathing and personal care
The following are common challenges and suggested strategies to address your psychological wellness as you provide personal care for your loved one or client.
Identify the most significant source of your emotional distress. Is your greatest challenge associated with the guilt of being responsible for performing care?Thinking through Mom and Grandma’s situation brought me back to the time that I cared for my daughter. She was sixteen and suffering from a brain tumor. The medication she was taking made it unsafe for her to do anything alone for fear that she would fall. The bathroom was the least safe place for her to be alone so that it became necessary for me to continuously monitor her so that she could take a shower. It was such a distressing experience for us both. I remember my daughter saying, “Mom! I don’t want you to be in here with me.” With tears in my eyes, I replied, “I don’t want to be here, but it is not safe for you to be in here alone.” For my daughter, privacy was most important. However, her need for privacy was superseded by my need to keep her safe. You too may feel conflicted about not wanting to, but needing to, personally provide a bath or shower.
Suggested solution. My daughter’s need for supervised showering while temporary was necessary, and for a time we both had to put our emotional distress aside. We each expressed our frustration by discussing our mutual discomfort with her showers and came up with some strategies, such as pulling the curtain halfway closed so that she was somewhat shielded from my view. We also worked with the doctor by setting up a consult visit to have her medications adjusted. In the end, we found that her prescription was the source of her wobbliness. She ultimately had surgery to remove the tumor, and the medication was no longer needed. Talking to your loved one and sharing how you feel may open the door to improving your psychological well-being.
Is your loved one’s or client's resistance related to a greater need for autonomy? There is almost nothing as personal as a bath. Mom, who is in her sixties, and who now must coordinate her bath schedule with her mother, may in fact feel as though she has lost control over her life. Mom’sdistress may contribute her resistance with Grandma. In essence, Mom may be trying to exert some control in her life by refusing to cooperate with Grandma when she attempts to provide personal care.
Suggested solution. Dressing, bathing, and grooming independently are likely among the first tasks that you learned to do for yourself, and being able to perform those tasks served to fortify your independence. One of the most important things you can do is to encourage and empower your loved one or client to do the tasks he or she can perform without assistance. Your goal is for your loved one or client to reach his or her highest level of practical functioning; you must relinquish some control so that your loved one or client can experience a level of autonomy.
Tips for addressing the physical logistics of bathing and personal care
A lack of physical support and feeling a loss of a sense of control have the potential to influence your attitude about assisting your loved one or client with personal care. In essence, experiencing bodily pain when providing personal care can be a contributing factor to the distress you feel. The following are tips to ease the physical distress associated with assisting your loved one or client with his or her ADLs.
Make sure your loved one’s or client's bathing preferences are communicated and followed. It is important to garner your loved one’s or client's preferences for bathing, including determining if a bed bath, partial bath, shower, or tub bath is the preferred approach. You and your loved one or client may also work together to set a bathing schedule that is mutually agreeable.
Make sure your loved one is not in pain or experiencing anxiety. Your loved one or client may be resistant to bathing when he or she is scared or experiencing pain. This may end up putting more strain on you. It is important to make sure your loved one or client is anxiety free and that he or she is not currently in pain prior to bathing.
Sitting rather than standing. If bathing your loved one or client results in bodily pain,you might find sitting rather than standing beneficial during your loved one’s or client's bath or shower.
Enlist the support of an occupational therapist. You may find it helpful to set up an appointment with an occupational therapist, who can assist with environmental modifications or assistive devices so that your loved one or client has the ability to bathe with the least possible assistance.
Hire a professional bath aide. You may choose to delegate the bathing of your loved one to a bath aide. Bath aides are usually professionally trained and employed by a licensed home care company.
Assisting with ADLs is a very personal process. Most important is that you and your loved one or client continue to work together to avoid physical and psychological distress.
Have you ever heard the saying “cleanliness is next to godliness?” This popular saying highlights the importance of having measures in place to keep the environment where you care for your loved one or client clean. For example, routinely disinfecting the living space where your client or loved one receives care and washing your hands properly can prevent the spread of potential illness causing bacteria and viruses like the flu. Similar to general infections (i.e., eyes, ears, and nose) and sessional allergies the flu is short-term condition that is usually not life-threatening. In fact, with proper rest and treatment (usually an antibiotic or antiviral medication) your loved one or client will likely return to normal and resume everyday activities within a few weeks. However, it should be noted that common infections like the flu can exacerbate your loved one’s more serious chronic medical conditions and these complications can end up being life threatening. The following are best practices for effective handwashing, the application and safe removal of gloves, the use of hand sanitizer, and tips for disinfecting your client or loved one’s living space.
Washing your hands is the single, most important way to prevent spread of infection. The goal is to prevent the spread of germs, bacteria, or viruses.
When should you wash your hands?
It is recommended that you wash your hands:
Before and after eating; after going to the bathroom, after coughing, and/or blowing your nose.
Before and after providing care for your loved one or touching his or her belongings
After removing disposable gloves and after handling soiled blankets.
Tips for Effective Handwashing - YouTube
Tips for washing your hands
Turn on faucet.
Wet your hands including two inches above your wrist.
Apply soap. It best to use liquid soap.
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. You might sing your ABC’s to ensure that you have washed them long enough.
Rinse off the soap thoroughly.
Pull down your paper towel and completely dry your hands.
Then pull down a final paper towel.
Turn off the faucet with the final paper towel.
You can use the paper towel to open the door and then dispose of it.
Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy
Hand sanitizer can also be useful in reducing the spread of bacteria and viruses. Especially when you do not have access to a sink where you can wash your hands. There are a variety of brands so it is important that you find one that works best for you. When using hand sanitizer it is important that you vigorously scrub hands together until product is absorbed and your hands/fingers are completely dry.
It is important to remember to wash your hands using the sink after three or four uses of hand sanitizer. You will notice that your hands become gritty from the buildup of the hand sanitizer after several uses.
Applying disposable gloves
There may be instances where you need to use disposable gloves, specifically when disinfecting your loved one’s personal space and when assisting with personal cares. While there is no set procedure to applying your gloves it is important to make sure the gloves you purchase are the correct size, so that they are not too tight or too loose. You will know that you have the correct size gloves when you have a seal at the wrist. Gloves that tear or easily slide off should be replaced immediately.
Tips for removing gloves:
Pinch the center of the glove on your non-dominant hand and with one movement remove the first glove. This is termed the pinch-pull method where you pinch and pull your glove off in one motion.
Ball up the glove in your remaining gloved hand.
Without touching the outside of the glove in your dominant hand, slide your two fingers underneath and pull off the second glove.
Throw both gloves in the trash.
Wash your hands.
Disinfecting your client or loved one’s living space
You have likely developed a routine for general housekeeping. It is not necessary to take additional precautions unless you will be coming into contact with soiled or dirty bed linens or other items that have body fluids on them (urine, stool, or droplets from coughing and sneezing). Under those circumstances it is important to wash your hands and apply gloves. You will also want to remove them properly and wash your hands after their removal.
Practicing good hand and environmental hygiene and implementing the aforementioned precautions are the key to reducing the chance that both you and your loved one or client from contracting preventable infections.
It is normal to experience the highs and lows of life as you care for someone you love. Yet, it is your reaction to the turbulent ups and downs that can increase your longevity as a caregiver. Creating memories and having the ability to return to those positive pictures can sustain you when you are having a challenging day.
Are there any significant memories that sustain you as you care for your loved one you that you might document and share? Please join the conversation on Facebook!
As a family or professional caregiver, you play an important role in maintaining the health and well-being of your elderly or disabled loved one or client. Yet, according to a study recently published by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute titled “Caregiving in the U.S. 2015,” fewer than half of family caregivers have made plans for the future care of their loved ones, and significantly fewer have made these plans for themselves. The lack of a plan for both you and your loved one can end up being problematic, specifically if there is a care transition, emergency, or crisis. Therefore it is incredibly important, when possible, to make an informed decision about your care and the care of your loved one rather than having an emergency situation dictate the decision for you. As you gather with family and friends during this holiday season you have the opportunity to take a proactive approach to plan for the future care needs of you loved one by having a conversation.
Intellectual wellness is a component of the Caregiver Wellness: U model, a conceptual model that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of your health on a holistic basis. The components are not chronological; rather, they represent collective components. According to the Caregiver Wellness: U model, you are intellectually well when you actively seek education, identify resources, and participate in planning activities that could improve the care provided for your loved one or client. Your intellectual wellness is enhanced when you apply what you learn to improve your health and wellness.
Evaluate Your Intellectual Wellness
Please take this opportunity to evaluate your intellectual wellness as it relates to planning for the care of your loved one and yourself. Following are five statements; consider each statement openly and honestly. Assign two points (2) if you agree with the statement, assign one point (1) if you somewhat agree, and do not assign any points (0) if you do not agree with the statement.
I have a plan in place for the care of myself and my loved one.
My family members are aware of my personal plan and the plan for the care of my loved one.
I know where to locate important documents for myself and my loved one.
If asked by a health care professional, I would know how to relay what is needed for my loved one.
I have adequate information and resources to make end-of-life decisions for my loved one and for myself.
Evaluate Your Score
A score of 7 or highermay indicate that you are intellectually well; it is likely that you have a plan in place for you and your loved one. Although, you may have a plan in place, it is important to keep it up- to- date and to make sure that it is shared with pertinent family members and your health care team.
A score between 4 and 6may indicate that you are doing OK. You might find the resources included in the next section helpful in developing, updating, and communicating a plan for the care of you and your loved one.
A score between 0 and 3may indicate that it may be time to sit down with your loved one and family to develop a long-term plan.
Five resources to assist you in having a productive care conversation
You may find the following resources helpful should you decide that it is time for you and your loved one to develop a plan for your care and the care of your loved one.
Watch the recorded RightConversations: Bridging the Family Communications Gapwebinar. This pre-recorded webinar was sponsored by Right at Home and presented in cooperation with the American Society on Aging, will help adult children learn effective tips when preparing for a difficult conversation with aging parents about their care needs. Helpful information covered in our webinar includes the 10 RightConversations tips; using effective communication styles when having the conversation; and the benefits of using the Information Journal, Communication Planner and Family Action Planner.
Download your free RightConversations guide. Although it is up to you and your loved one to determine the right time to begin conversing about preferences for care, you may find the RightConversations guide helpful. The guide also includes a valuable, step-by-step example of how to broach difficult topics while keeping the needs of your loved one in the forefront.
Register for the upcoming live webinar Know Your Medicare Rights: A Caregiver’s Guide. You will learnabout the benefits and rights available for a loved one with Medicare. During this presentation you will learn about important Medicare rights and free services provided by Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organizations, including filing quality of care complaints and discharge appeals, as well as requesting immediate advocacy to resolve health care concerns quickly.
Access the guides located on Caregiver Support Service’s Emma’s Picks page. Emma’s picks includes seven of the most comprehensive resource guides that you may find useful as you care and for your elderly or disabled loved one or client. Please feel free to access the suggested resources and share them with your family and friends. You are invited to revisit this page as new resources are added frequently.
Don’t forget to take care of you. Consider accessing the Ask Emma tool. Emma will help you determine your wellness as a caregiver. The Ask Emma tool will provide you with immediate feedback as to your level of wellness as well as provide suggested strategies and resources to help you achieve optimum wellness.
Although you cannot be prepared for everything, it is important that you take steps to ensure that you and your loved one have a solid plan in place.
The movie Beaches not only highlights the importance of caring for someone you love, but it also shines a light on the importance of emotional self-care. In fact, early in the movie a young CC Bloom (actress Mayim Bialik) uses emotional manipulation and dramatic outbursts to get what she wants from her mother Leonia (actress Laine Kazan). Later, as an adult CC’s (actress Bette Midler) emotional immaturity reaches a crescendo, when she finds that she is both alienated from her best friend and estranged from her husband. Seeking comfort CC flies from New York to Florida to see her mother. She tells her mother that the source of her distress is her husband’s inattention, that he just stopped paying her attention. Leona chuckles and says,
You always wanted too much attention! You wanted so much attention from everybody all the time that you wore people out! You wore me out, you wore your father out, may he rest in peace, by the time you were 15 years old!
In anger, Leona reveals that relocating to Florida was no accident, and that in fact she was attempting to shield herself from CC’s constant need for attention. Their relationship struggles are not uncommon as the nuances of many mother daughter relationship can be difficult to navigate.
Having experienced tensions and having some degree of emotional baggage is in fact part of the human experience. Yet, for some mothers, daughters, sons, and spouses these rifts run so deep that there is little chance that either party is going to be able to put their differences aside even when care is needed. Stepping into the role of caregiver is an honorable act of love, it can be rewarding, and in many circumstances the act of caring for someone you love can lead to emotional and spiritual growth. It should also be noted that caring for someone you love can place additional strains on your relationship, even when there is a solid foundation. Therefore, practicing emotional self-care is an important strategy for self-preservation.
What is emotional self-care?
Emotional self-care is the act of wrapping yourself in a blanket of comfort and shielding yourself from situations and individuals that increase your distress. It also means, that sometimes you will need to repel individuals and possibly circumvent situations that are likely to derail your emotional peace.
What happens if you don't practice self-care?
So, what might you encounter if you do not actively engage in self-care strategies? You are likely to experience some level of emotional stress and when compounded over time unresolved stress can lead to distress and eventually burnout. Having outlets for your stress and having someone with whom to confide is essential. Networking with other caregivers and talking to those in situations similar to yours can also be of benefit. What matters most is that you make emotional self-care a part of your daily routine.
7 emotional self-care strategies
In addition to having the proper outlets you may also participate in practices that you alone can control to ease your emotional distress. The following are seven strategies that you may find helpful when developing a plan for practicing emotional self-care:
Make a play list of music that brings you comfort. Listening to music can change your mood. You might make more than one playlist so that you have a variety of tunes that you can listen to depending on how you are feeling at the time. When you are feeling stressed you may choose to listen to a set of tracks that you find relaxing or you may choose to listen to a different type of music when you are sad.
Write an encouraging letter to yourself. When you are emotionally distressed it may be really challenging to identify your most positive attributes. Consider writing a letter of encouragement and address it to yourself. When you are having a particularly challenging day you can pull it out and read it aloud to remind yourself of all the great things about YOU.
Create a no dumping zone. Have you ever picked up the phone or walked into a room and someone begins talking non-stop about all of their problems? It can be exhausting to have someone dump all of their distress on you. Creating a no dumping zone can be a great way to set boundaries and re-direct individuals who might not respect your need for emotional wellness.
Set a time to be alone in quiet and peace. Setting a time to reflect and to relax your mind can be a perfect way to begin or end your day. This alone time should not require you to do anything rather, it should be about time to focus on emotional wholeness.
Listen to what your body is telling you. Are you feeling tired all the time, experiencing aches and pains, or walking around with your stomach in knots? Listen to your body, perhaps your body is trying to tell you something. Should these symptoms persist it is important to reach out to your doctor.
Be gentle with yourself. You may find that in the course of caring for a loved one you become frustrated, short, or in some situations you may even feel angry. It is okay to experience a wide range of emotions, in fact it is healthy. Embrace your feelings. Don’t beat yourself up by feeling guilty or by overthinking your actions. Be gentle with yourself, you are human.
Find passions outside your role as a caregiver. Make sure that you are taking time to do things that have nothing to do with your role as a caregiver. Reach out and ask for help if you need someone to assist with the care of your loved one so that you can do something you enjoy.
Learning to effectively put your needs first does not come naturally for most caregivers. Should you find that you are in need of more pointed support do not be afraid to reach out to a professional counselor or therapist to help you find ways to care for yourself while you care for your loved one.
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy is known for her strength in the face of adversity, but few recognize that she was also a family caregiver. Rose’s first notable experience as a caregiver began when her daughter Rosemary Kennedy was diagnosed with an undetermined mental disability. Her next experience was years later, when her husband Joe Sr. suffered from a debilitating stroke, leaving Rose to oversee his care until his passing eight years later.
As a caregiver and a public figure there had to be times when she felt uneasy and distressed that so much was out of her control, and in this regard she would not be alone. In fact, as a caregiver you too may experience emotional strain and as a result begin to question your life’s purpose, opening the door to spiritual distress.
Spiritual distress is often the result of living in a manner that is contrary to the dictates of your conscience. In fact, with spiritual distress, you are likely ignoring the call for “spiritual journey” in your caregiving and depriving yourself of what is vital to your well-being. The door is opened for a general feeling of meaninglessness in your life; you may experience increased cynicism, distrust of others, isolation, alienation, or estrangement and have a hopeless attitude toward the future.
Spiritual wellness is a part of caregiver wellness. Spiritual wellness is possible when you are able to acknowledge and accept that you deserve to live a life that involves self-determination, the freedom to make choices, the opportunity for self-development, and activities that place value on your volunteer orientation.
Are You Spiritually Well?
Please take this opportunity to evaluate your spiritual wellness. There are five statements; consider each statement openly and honestly. Assign two points (2) if you do not agree with the statement and one point (1) if you somewhat agree, and do not assign any points (0) if you agree with the statement.
I have someone with whom I feel comfortable talking with about my spiritual needs.
I am experiencing a sense of inner emptiness and see very few positive things in life.
I am at peace with myself and my life.
I tend to look for “magic solutions” to problems rather than searching for solutions from within.
Lately I have self-doubts about and constantly feel as though I need to prove myself.
Evaluate Your Spiritual Wellness Score
A score of 7 or higher may indicate that are you might want to reach out to improve spiritual base
A score between 5 and 6 may indicate that you are doing okay with spiritually
A score between 0 and 5 may indicate that spiritually well
Enhancing Your Spiritual Wellness
The following are four tips to improve your spiritual wellness.
Read an Inspirational Book or Poem
Tremendous insight can be gleaned using the truthful accounts of historical figures like Rose Kennedy to identify useful strategies that may help you get in tune with your spirituality. In fact, by reading an inspirational book or poem you may gain a new perspective or pinpoint an effective practice to contribute to your spiritual well-being.
Define What Spiritual Wellness Means to You
Creating your personal definition of spiritual wellness can help you identify and perhaps incorporate activities that will help you live in a manner that is in line with your spiritual core. Additionally, by having what it means to you to be spirituality well defined you will likely be in a better place to identify people, places, and things that disrupt your spiritual balance, so that you can disconnect from spiritually distressing circumstances.
Use Visualization to Return to a Good Place
Close your eyes for just a moment, if you will, and imagine that you are traveling to a place of spiritual or religious significance that is tucked away in a remote region thousands of miles away. The voyage is arduous, but when you finally arrive at your destination, the scenery is more magnificent than you visualized, your soul vibrates, and you are revitalized. You take the opportunity to acknowledge that having made it to such a divine location is a testament to your inner strength. You are refreshed! Now open your eyes. You have just taken a mental pilgrimage.
Reach Out to Someone You Trust
If you are experiencing spiritual distress reach out to someone that you trust like your pastor or a confidant. It is vitally important to have someone that you can talk to about how you are feeling. If your distress is not resolved it might be time to seek help from a professional counselor or therapist.
Attend the Caregiver Wellness: Avoiding Complicated Grief Seminar. Dr. Eboni Green will host a webinar about complicated grief and share highlights from her book Reflections from the Soul, which serves as compassionate compass to guide caregivers on the journey as they seek to understand, express, heal, and reconcile their pain and loss after losing a loved one. The event will be conducted online so that you may attend from the comfort of your home or office. Attendees can expect to be actively engaged in an open dialogue about grief, loss, and healing. The event is free and will run from 1pm - 2pm CST. Click here to register
If you are a caregiver how would you assess your spiritual wellness? What does spiritual wellness mean to you?
Your Physical Well-being as a caregiver is vitally important!
To help family and professional caregivers manage caregiving responsibilities with their own health and well-being, Caregiver Support Services is hosting a webinar with EveryBody Fitness, on August 24th where Dr. McNealus will discuss the importance of encouraging those you care for to participate in an exercise program, as well as why it is imperative that you as caregivers take time to get regular exercise. Your body and mind need it! We'll discuss benefits, things to be cautious about, and share options.
According to the Stroke Center, 750,000 Americans will suffer from a stroke this year. Approximately seventy percent of individuals who suffer from a stroke will survive, but face a number of possible physical limitations. In fact, many stroke survivors find themselves in need of much rehabilitation and support to function in their daily lives. Caregivers of stroke survivors also face insurmountable physical and emotional challenges as they assist their loved ones on the road to recovery.
If you are a caregiver for a loved one who has suffered a stroke you are not alone. Many families have stepped up to provide care and support for their loved ones following a stroke. One such family is Curt’s family. Curt, along with his mother, and aunt have formed an informal care team. The three of them plan to share the duties of supporting his grandmother who suffered from a stroke just a couple of months ago. Curt said, “I am living at my grandmother’s house now, taking care of the dog and the house until she is well enough to come home.”
Once she returns home Curt will assume the role of full-time caregiver for his grandmother who is currently receiving rehabilitation at a local long-term care facility. Curt sought training at Caregiver Support Services where he learned how to assist his grandmother with meals, transfers, communication, and self-care strategies as a caregiver in preparation for his grandmother’s return home.
Training has taught Curt the importance of being empowered to reach out for help rather than trying to go at it alone. As a result, Curt and his family created a detailed plan, which included Curt moving into his grandmother’s home where he will eventually provide daily support and care once his grandmother returns home, while his mother and aunt coordinate gaps in care and locate resources. The team of three are clearly empowered to support one another when his grandmother returns home.
Caregiver Wellness: U Model
Empowerment is a key component of the Caregiver Wellness: U Model a conceptual model, that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness among caregivers, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of one’s health on a holistic basis.
What does it mean to be empowered?
According to the Caregiver Wellness: U Model you are empowered when you fully engage in and execute healthy behaviors to improve your caregiving situation. In fact, once you are empowered you are better able to assist your loved one live life with greater fulfillment and you are more likely to take self-responsibility for your health and wellness.
Are you empowered?
Please take this opportunity to evaluate your level of empowerment. There are five statements; consider each statement openly and honestly. Assign two points (2) if you agree with the statement, one point (1) if you somewhat agree, and do not assign any points (0) if you do not agree with the statement.
When problems arise with my loved one I handle them well.
I feel that I do a good job caring for my loved one.
I am pleased with the decisions I make regarding the services my loved one needs.
When necessary, I take the initiative in looking for services for myself and my loved one.
I am able to apply what I learn to improve my personal care and the care of my loved one.
Evaluate your empowerment score
A score of 7 or higher may indicate that you are an empowered caregiver.
A score between 4 and 6 may indicate that you are somewhat empowered.
A score between 0 and 3 may indicate that you might want to reach out for help.
Four Resources to Empower Caregivers
The following are four resources that you may find empowering as you care for your loved one or client who is a stroke survivor.
Educate yourself about the condition of your loved one. Some caregivers report that they are not
being given enough information about their loved one or client’s condition in a manner that is easily understood. You may find the tips and tools on the National Stroke Association’s website useful, if you are seeking to learn more about your loved one’s condition.
Download the very informative bookletTips and Resources for Caregivers, published by the Department of Health and Human Services. The booklet highlights a variety of governmental programs and supports that may be accessed to aid in the care of your loved one.
Become a member of Caregiver Support Services’ Caregiver Wellness Support Center. The CSS Wellness and Support Center is ideal for family caregivers who are empowered to network with others and who would benefit from access to valuable resources. Membership is free!
Register for the August 24th webinar. To help caregivers and their loved ones Caregiver Support Services is offering a free webinar on August 24that 2 p.m. EST (1 p.m. CST, noon MST, and 11am PST) featuring Dr. McNealus, from Every Body Fitness. We will discuss the importance of encouraging those you care for to participate in an exercise program, as well as why it is imperative that you as caregivers take time to get regular exercise. Your body and mind need it! We'll discuss benefits, things to be cautious about, and share options.
Not all families know where to start when it comes to caring for a loved one following a stroke, especially when transitioning form the hospital or long-term care facility back home. It is important that you are empowered to network with other caregivers and do not try to go it alone and that you access the resources that might make your caregiving situation more manageable.
Last week, Mrs. Lydia, the great-grandmother of a close family friend, fell and broke her hip. Few injuries are more emotionally distressing and physically painful than muscle strains and broken bones. Even for a chronologically young and active person, recovering from a fall can take a great deal of time. For an elderly person like Lydia, who is 85, a fall can be devastating. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries; not only can these injuries make it difficult to get around and participate in everyday activities but they can result in the need for rehabilitation and, in some cases, warrant a permanent stay in a long-term care facility.1
What is most surprising is that, although Lydia had a fully functioning emergency response system, at the time of her fall, she had long since stopped wearing it, because, she said, “the device is just getting in the way. Especially when I am sewing.” Feeling safe because she was living in the basement apartment and her daughter in the unit upstairs, Lydia devised a more personalized solution to notify her daughter that she needed assistance, which included her cat. Should she fall, her plan was to initiate a call for help by alerting the cat to scratch the door that separated the upstairs and downstairs apartments, which, in her estimation, would trigger her daughter’s dogs to start barking, thereby alerting her daughter that Mrs. Lydia needed help. Unfortunately, when Mrs. Lydia fell, this system did not work, and she spent two hours injured and inching her way to the basement door.
The introduction of the Personal Emergency Response System
Prior to the introduction of what are termed personal emergency response systems,many seniors and individuals with disabilities had to rely on a family member being present full time if they wanted to feel safe. Personal emergency response systems changed the need for constant supervision and opened the door for seniors to live independently and feel safe in an emergency. Offering a senior the convenience of calling for help without having to make it to a phone, emergency response devices feature a button that, once pushed, prompts a live response over the intercom that is part of the personal emergency response system. If assistance is needed, the person on the other end of the system calls for help and also connects to a caregiver and/or designated family member. Your loved one is therefore protected from the possibility of being left in distress for hours or days following a fall or other medical emergency.
They work if you use them
Traditional emergency response systems work really well, if your loved one is willing to wear and use the device. The challenge is that sometimes a loved one, like Mrs. Lydia, refuses to wear the very device that will help him or her in an emergency. For some very active seniors, there are concerns about the necklace or wristband getting in the way of physical activity, for others, concerns associated with ageism and not wanting to be judged or viewed as old. The good news is that a variety of emergency response systems are available, depending on your loved one’s needs and his or her preferences.
Rapid SOS and Caregiver Support Services
One such option is the Haven app offered by RapidSOS. RapidSOS was formed by a team of MIT, Harvard, and Stanford grad students who had personal experiences with the challenges of the existing emergency communication infrastructure. RapidSOS has partnered with Caregiver Support Services to support caregivers and their families by providing peace of mind that emergency help is one touch away when they need it. With one tap on Haven, the app connects the user with the nearest dispatch center anywhere in the contiguous United States, while providing a voice connection and a data pipeline to 9-1-1. Even if a user doesn’t know his or her exact location or can’t speak, Haven helps the user communicate with emergency personnel. Haven also keeps families and friends better connected by notifying emergency contacts after an alert has been triggered. You are invited to download the free RapidSOSapp by visiting Caregiver Support Services.
Mrs. Lydia’s fall resulted in a broken hip, but thankfully, she is OK and currently recovering. However, it is no less distressing to know that she suffered for two hours trying to get help when an emergency response system would have prompted an immediate response. A wide range of emergency response solutions are available to you and your loved one; therefore, it is hopeful that you will be empowered to have an open and honest conversation with your loved one so that, together, you can identify what will work best for your caregiving situation.