Posts Tagged "caregiver"

Caregivers Resisting Help

Posted by on Jan 7, 2013 in Caregiving | 0 comments

Originally published January 2012 at www.kindethics.com. Reprinted with permission. I have never been very good at asking for help and, like many family caregivers, I didn’t think that my own needs mattered. Thinking I had to do everything all the time caused me to have two breakdowns; once during my early years of caregiving and again in the last year of my 17-year caregiving journey. I wish I had known about the following statistics from a recent MetLife Study: Family caregivers experiencing extreme stress have been shown to age prematurely and this level of stress can take as much as 10 years off a family caregiver’s life. 40% to 70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression with approximately 25%-50% of these caregivers meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression. Stress of family caregiving for persons with dementia has been shown to impact a person’s immune system for up to three years after their caregiving ends thus increasing their chances of developing a chronic illness themselves. I don’t know which statistic frightens me the most. But I do know that I have paid an emotional, physical and financial cost for being a caregiver. (I also loved taking care of my family.) It didn’t have to be that way. I could have and should have asked for help. But I am a caregiver and when people told me, “Just make time for yourself,” it wasn’t that easy. If you think about who in a family becomes the caregiver, it will usually be the person who is more nurturing and generous with their time. So by nature, the caregiver is the type of person who already gives more than others. And this becomes a vicious cycle of give – give – give instead of give – receive – give – receive. I recently said to my friend who is an overwhelmed caregiver, “Maybe now is a good time for the rest of your family to learn what they need to do to help their grandfather.” What I heard back from her were lots of excuses: They don’t want to help They don’t know what to do They don’t know him like I do They will just make it worse I don’t have time to teach them It is just easier if I do it I get tired of asking I don’t think they would help, even if I asked Why should I have to ask, they should just know what to do I don’t want to be a bother It is too much effort to ask Sound familiar? I realized in that moment that it isn’t always that the family won’t help; it is the caregiver who is resisting asking for help. So let me ask you. If you had a broken shoulder, would it be okay to ask someone to carry your groceries to the car? If your car broke down, could you call for a tow truck? When your loved one needs help, don’t you get them the help you need? Then why don’t you deserve the same attention? Your needs matter and you deserve to have someone help you. Here’s my Four-Step Process, to help you identify what keeps you from asking for help and to overcome your reluctance. Step 1: I encourage you to explore what is keeping you from asking. Write down what goes through your head when someone says, “You should just ask for help.” What are your resistance statements? Step 2: Take your list of resistance statements and put a statement beside it to help you get past what has been preventing...

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Tax Breaks for You and Your Caregivers

Posted by on Apr 3, 2012 in Financial and Tax Matters | 0 comments

With many Canadians caring for aging parents or receiving care ourselves, it’s good to know that there may be federal and provincial tax breaks available to us: Below are excerpts from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website, http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca, detailing three of the available federal benefits. Click on the links below for more information, and note that these benefits apply not just to the elderly, but to any qualified care recipients over the age of 18, such as adult children. Caregiver Tax Credit You may be eligible for this tax credit if you meet ALL of the following conditions: • You maintained a dwelling where you and a dependant lived at any time during the calendar year. • Your dependant is: * your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s child or grandchild; or *your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s brother, sister, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, parent, or grandparent who was resident in Canada. • This person was not only visiting you. • Your dependant meets all of the following conditions: * 18 years of age or older at the time he or she lived with you; * Net income in 2011 (line 236 of his or her return, or the amount that it would be if he or she filed a return) of less than $18,906; and * Dependent on you due to an impairment in physical or mental functions or, if he or she is your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s parent or grandparent, born in 1946 or earlier. • You did not have to make child support payments for this dependant. • No one other than you claims an amount for an eligible dependant (line 305) for that dependant. Disability tax credit As per the Canada Revenue Agency website, claimants for the disability tax credit (DTC), must meet the three following conditions: • The claimant must have an impairment that is prolonged, which means it has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. • The claimant’s impairment in physical or mental functions must be severe and it must restrict him or her all or substantially all of the time. • The claimant’s severe and prolonged impairment must be certified using Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate, by a qualified practitioner. If your dependant is able to claim the disability amount, and does not need to claim all or part of that amount on their tax return, they may be able to transfer all or part of this amount to you. Click here for a list of “impairments” that qualify for the Disability Tax Credit: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/sgmnts/dsblts/qlfd-prcts/dtrmnng/menu-eng.html Finally, if you pay for someone’s nursing home fees, you may be able to claim them under “medical expenses for other eligible dependents –line 331”. Provincial Tax Credits It’s worthwhile to check whether your provincial government offers caregiver tax relief as well. You can start by searching online for “caregiver tax credit” together with the name of your province. Need assistance with your CRA returns? Consult a tax professional or click on the link to our previous article to learn more about help available for older persons with preparing tax returns....

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Help for Caregivers

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Caregiving, Catalog, Family Relationships | 0 comments

Millions of Canadians are caregivers to a family member. Many caregivers say they want and need help but don’t know where to get it or how to ask. Without that help, caregivers are at risk for physical and emotional burnout.  Before asking for help, assess the specific needs. They may include: respite so you can take a vacation support to make important decisions regular phone calls/visits to you or to the care recipient financial help – or help to manage finances hands-on help with care household chores Some caregivers report “rejection” when asking for help. If other family members don’t pitch in, it may be that they don’t agree with the “needs”. If you believe that Dad should never be left alone and your brother thinks you are being over-protective, you aren’t likely to get cooperation. Explore or anticipate other family member’s beliefs about the tasks of caregiving before asking for help.  Here are five more strategies for overwhelmed caregivers:  Look beyond siblings – younger aunts and uncles, cousins, grandchildren and nieces and nephews may be willing to help. Start with a family meeting – face to face or telephone conference call. Without phrasing it as a demand, outline your list of needs, then ask open ended questions to find out which of these needs can be met by others. Talk to family members.  Again, begin with a list. Consider what you can do to build or strengthen these relationships, and what you might do in return, particularly if you are caring from a distance. When making long-distance visits, take some time to get acquainted with your parents’ friends and neighbours, who may act as another set of eyes and ears for you. Reach out to the community. If your family belongs to a church, ask about assistance programs such as companionship, visiting, and transportation. Contact your local seniors’ centre and ask about community outreach programs. Hire help, if you can. Many private companies provide help for caregivers. Search on line or in advertisements aimed at seniors. Explore cost sharing with family members. This may allow the caregiver to use their time and energy most appropriately. Manage your emotions.   Sometimes our emotions and beliefs get in the way of asking for help. Do you think you might be seen as demanding or incompetent? Does your family member say that you are the only one that can take care of them? Does that create pressure or resentment?  Caregiver burnout is a serious consequence of trying to do too much for too long on your own. You can learn more about this issue in our ElderWise Guide: Caregiver Burnout: How to spot it. How to stop it. If you notice that your beliefs may be preventing you from taking care of yourself, consider talking to a medical professional, counselor or an ElderWise coach.   Vol.6, No.5 © ElderWise Inc., 2010 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE...

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Older Caregivers Face Extra Risk

Posted by on Sep 8, 2010 in Caregiving, Health Signals | 0 comments

Expecting to “take it easy” in your senior years? According to 2007 figures from Statistics Canada, at least 675,000 Canadian seniors have had to curtail travel, leisure and personal interests – and have put themselves at risk for physical and emotional problems – because they are providing care to another elderly person. They could be looking after close friends (30%), spouses (23%), neighbours (15%) – even parents (9%).  One third of these seniors are over the age of 75. Fewer than one in five older caregivers gets a break from these responsibilities. Without help from family, community or private services, caregiver burnout – physical and emotional exhaustion due to prolonged high levels of stress – is almost inevitable. Not only can physical health problems multiply, but mental health issues, such as feeling powerless, resentful, and isolated, can compromise a caregiver’s well-being. Most of these seniors may not think of themselves as caregivers, but that’s exactly what they become when they take responsibility to help others with their daily needs. Caregivers are from all walks of life and income levels. They are predominantly female but increasing numbers of men are taking on the role. But what they often share in common is stepping unaware and unprepared into a demanding role.  Caregiving responsibilities can occur suddenly, but they typically become long term (chronic), and they don’t always have a happy outcome. Responsibilities can continue even when the person receiving the care moves from a private home to an institution. Older caregivers are up against more challenges than their younger counterparts. They are unlikely to have the strength and energy of a younger person. Older caregivers may have to manage their own chronic health problems (e.g., high blood pressure, diabetes or arthritis) while caring for another. Doing yard work, shoveling snow, or going up and down the stairs with the laundry basket may be more than they can handle. Other caregiver duties can be mentally demanding. Managing finances, scheduling appointments, and other household decisions take more time and energy as you age. Conflicting emotions can drain energy as well, particularly when the personal relationships between caregiver and care recipient are strained.  Caregiving for a spouse can be especially demanding. The marital relationship is more intense, private and personal than many. A spouse’s illness results in greater stress, yet spouses are less likely to ask for help from others. Often, there’s a belief that what is happening should be kept private. Without greater awareness, understanding and action, more seniors will run the risk of burnout, which can lead to physical and mental collapse. Older caregivers face extra risk, and that has significant implications for families, communities and our health care system. For more insight on this topic, purchase our downloadable e-publication: Caregiver Burnout – How To Spot It, How To Stop It Vol. 5, No. 6 © ElderWise Publishing 2009. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE...

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Long Distance Caregiving

Posted by on Sep 7, 2010 in Caregiving | 0 comments

Many families are faced with the unique issues of long distance caregiving. The ordinary challenges of helping and caring for aging parents can multiply when you live thousands of miles away or even overseas. Val moved to Canada from England 16 years ago. She became a daughter whose parents lived “across the pond.”  Having made many trips to Britain, Val shared with us some tips that she has learned over the years. Here are the biggest challenges she experienced: Understanding what is going on – and encouraging family at home to be open and honest about the current situation. Getting family to realize that keeping secrets may not be a kindness. It is so important to let those who are away know what is going on. You have to live with consequences of your actions and inaction: e.g., do I get on a plane immediately or wait and see what happens? Communicating well is essential. The value of a local contact – either family or neighbours or good friends. You need to be specific about how they can be helpful to you.  Here are more suggestions from Val: Long-distance caregivers often feel guilty. Guilt wastes time and energy, and doesn’t help anyone. Try these ideas for taking action instead: 1. Help each other. Your friend or family member may not tell you about health issues or challenges because they don’t want to worry you. Explain that you’ll worry more if they’re not honest with you. Reassure them that your aim is not to interfere, but to support them the best way you can. Ask for their ideas on how you can help. 2. Get the facts. You may ask someone living nearby to contact you when they feel the senior has a health or safety issue. Ask questions to determine exactly what is happening.  “Your mom’s memory’s gone”, is an alarming message. If it turns out that Mom wrote a reminder to feed the cat, you can then explore the reasons behind the change in behaviour. Contact ElderWise, health care organizations or seniors’ associations for advice. 3. Trust your local contact. Their concerns are usually genuine. If Dad seemed his usual self while you were visiting over the holidays, you may feel the person who lives nearby is exaggerating in their updates. This may not be the case – in particular, those with dementia will often appear more capable when visitors are around. 4. Don’t jump to conclusions. If your loved one complains about neglect, remember that people with Alzheimer’s disease have little short-term memory. They may forget they ate lunch, had a visitor, or went on an outing. If the senior has in-home care, or lives in a long term care home, try to build rapport with one or two staff members and ask when it’s best to get in touch for an update. Check the facts with caregivers before complaining! 5. Understand the reasons behind a decision. You may have concerns regarding a decision that affects the elderly person. Before you react, check why this decision was made. Those involved in day-to-day caregiving know the current situation, and usually have the senior’s best interests at heart. They will appreciate it if you reinforce any messages they’ve been giving. When Uncle Joe complains that he’s not allowed to drive his car, there’s probably a very good reason! Don’t talk him into finding the keys and going out anyway. Building trust and good relations with staff at the care home, or whoever is in a caregiving role, is key to ensuring your peace of mind as well as good care for your aging parent. Vol. 5, No. 2 © Val Carter and ElderWise Publishing...

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