Posts Tagged "help"

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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Avoiding Danger @ Home

Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Safety Concerns | 0 comments

Safety, including safety in and around our homes, becomes more top-of-mind as we age. Why be concerned? As we grow older, we gradually lose some of our physical strength and mobility. Reflexes may slow, affecting the speed with which we can react to dangerous situations. While some of our cognitive functions actually improve as we get older, others start to slow or decline. This may start happening as early as in our mid-50’s – even for otherwise healthy people! Our home is a good place to start when evaluating our overall safety. Performing a home “safety audit” is a first step to identifying potential hazards and reducing risks for the elderly, including injuries, as well as fraud and other crimes.  Home modifications may allow seniors to stay at home longer, but also reduce the risk of falls and other injuries. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers a wealth of information on home renovations, as well as grants available to qualified seniors: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/adse/masein/index.cfm Outdoor home improvements can do double duty, increasing your safety at the same time as providing improved security against break-ins and robberies. Consult the CMHC link above and/or your local police service for information for all homeowners, whether at home or while travelling. Uninvited visitors are in a position to prey on a homeowner’s loneliness, politeness and/or desire to help someone. Basic protection includes installing a peephole and chain on doors. Utilities service personnel typically do not need access to your home, especially without advance notice. Don’t let any one in unless you have initiated a service call. Even then, ask for identification. Never allow uninvited visitors in. If they need to make a phone call offer to make it for them. If they have an emergency, offer to call police or an ambulance for them. Door-to-door marketing can involve a homeowner in a high pressure situation. Do not give out personal information; you can request the visitor leave information in your mailbox for you to review. You are NOT obligated to open your door to any uninvited visitor. For more information on fraud prevention, go to http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/h_00122.html A safe place to call home includes feeling safe in our neighborhood. For safety outside the home, basic guidelines apply, whatever our age. Be aware of your surroundings and know that a frail-looking older person can appear an easier target for purse-snatching or mugging. Choose well-travelled, well-lit areas and shopping or take outings with companions to reduce safety risks. Keep money and ID cards well protected (e.g., in an inside jacket pocket rather than in a dangling purse). Change your banking and shopping routines from time to time.  When out and about, know when vanity may be affecting your safety. In addition to “sensible shoe” choices, you can use mobility aids such as a well-fitted cane or walker to help you avoid serious injury. For additional reading, consult these recent ElderWise articles: Tips for Staying At Home…Safely Beware of “Helping’ Strangers – Especially Visitors in Pairs: A true story from an ElderWise subscriber Choosing – and using – Walking Canes and Walkers (2 separate articles)   © ElderWise Inc. 2012 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 Inc. We provide clear, concise and practical direction to Canadians with aging parents. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.  ...

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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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Warning Signs Your Aging Parents Need Help

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

When you first suspect that your aging parents may be experiencing health or mobility issues, it can come as a shock both to you and to them.  Knowing some warning signs and steps to take can help you all prepare to handle the changes that are coming.  Many seniors can still manage the activities of daily living with little or no assistance.  But advancing age can mean that some will need help with housekeeping, home maintenance, and transportation. Others may need more attention because of acute or chronic health problems. The PARENT acronym may help draw your attention to how your parents are functioning in their everyday lives. P  hysical. Do Mom or Dad still have enough energy for daily activities? Have you noticed any changes in their gait or balance? Weight loss? A  ppearance. In particular, notice hygiene. If Dad was always a sharp dresser, but his tie is now stained with soup, his vision could be affected – or he might be having more serious problems that need medical attention. R ambling.  People at any age can ramble in conversation. But if you notice that your mother is not making sense, or your dad loses track easily during a chat, it could be an early warning sign of depression, reaction to medications, or other serious disorders, such as dementia. E nvironment. When you visit, note whether the house is as clean or tidy as usual. Is there food in the fridge and cupboard?  This can mean they have poor nutrition or are ill, or are having trouble coping with housekeeping and cooking. N = eNgaged.  Are your parents still pursuing their favorite activities and attending church or social functions?  Or do you notice them withdrawing socially? If so, use this observation to open a conversation about their daily lives and what you both may be noticing.  T  ransportation. Are your parents able to get around easily? Are you seeing poor driving skills? If they are not driving, are public transport or other options available to get them where they want or need to go? Taking a drive with them gives you a chance to notice their reflexes, and how they handle parking and traffic in general. This is a sensitive topic, so you may want to seek advice on how to approach the subject. Adapted  from “Boomers and their aging parents” by Maureen Osis in Expert Women who Speak – Speak Out. (Vol.  3), 2003   Vol. 4, No. 8 © ElderWise Publishing 2008. 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 www.elderwise.ca and subscribe to our FREE...

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