New Year’s Resolutions While Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s

2023-alzheimers-resolution

These New Year’s resolutions can help you better prepare for caring for someone with Alzheimer’s in 2023!

While everyone else is focusing on getting more exercise, dropping a few pounds, or sticking to an insufferable diet, as a caregiver caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, just getting through each day will be challenging enough for you. The notion of striving to improve upon any part of your life in this unsettling time can be overwhelming.

At Responsive Home Care, we want to boost your morale. We realize caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is often both frustrating and rewarding, and we’re here to support you by any means we can. To start, we have compiled some resolutions just for Alzheimer’s caregivers that can actually help make your journey a bit easier.

What Resolutions Are Good for a Dementia Caregiver?

Take a step back, and consider the following:

  • Make time for you. Of course, that’s easier said than done. But taking time for yourself is vital to both your quality of life and that of the person you are taking care of. It does not need to be anything elaborate or extensive, unless you want it to be. Merely carving out a couple of hours once a week for an activity you like can provide the rejuvenation you need. A reliable family member or friend can fill in while you’re away, or contact Responsive Home Care for a trained, experienced caregiver to help.
  • Remind yourself that you know what is best. Family caregivers may find themselves surrounded by well-intentioned people who wish to offer advice. While their ideas may work well for other people, they may not be applicable in your situation. Listen respectfully to any advice offered and thank the individual for the idea, but then ultimately trust your judgment in making the ideal care decisions for your circumstances.
  • Take it easy on yourself. At the end of the day, you are human, and it’s inevitable to slip up from time to time. Resolve that this will be the year that you thoroughly rid yourself of any guilt, and in exchange remind yourself that you are doing the very best you can to help make life better for the person you love.

For help with caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and for some additional helpful resources, contact Responsive Home Care any time. We will be pleased to visit with you in your home at no cost to talk about the challenges you are facing and to provide creative solutions to help, such as:

  • Help with aggression, wandering, agitation, repetitive behaviors, sundowning, and more
  • Planning and preparing meals based on individual preferences
  • Providing engaging activities and conversations to keep both mind and body active
  • Support as needed with personal hygiene tasks, while cultivating independence
  • Transportation and accompaniment to appointments and outings
  • And much more

Call us at (954) 486-6440 for more information about our services and how a home health aide in Fort Lauderdale, FL and the nearby areas can help.

Simple, Effective Strategies You Can Try Today to Improve Memory

Help seniors improve memory with these simple strategies.

Do you recall learning the order of colors of the rainbow as a child? A lot of us were introduced to Roy G. Biv to master this feat – one of many mnemonics we learn that, interestingly, often stay with us for a lifetime.

As we age, it’s expected to experience some level of memory impairment; and naturally, it’s even more pronounced when Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is a factor. Scientists are constantly aiming to locate effective ways to improve memory and cognitive functioning, and have observed some interesting findings on “old school” strategies such as mnemonics. Here’s what they have recently discovered:

Mnemonics

Mnemonics produces a link to a memory through a phrase, abbreviation, song, etc. This training yielded great results in increasing activity in areas of the brain that are affected by dementia, leading to improved retention of information.

There are a multitude of mnemonic strategies that are very effective in improving memory. For example, try mnemonic keywords. Mnemonic keywords are fun and creative ways to memorize words in another language. It involves selecting a word that’s much like the new word you want to learn, and visualizing an image that brings the two words together. For instance, if you’re wanting to remember that chapeau is French for the term “hat,” you might picture Charlie Chaplin along with his famous black hat. The “Chap” element of his name can trigger the initial letters in chapeau, and the memory will stick.

Spaced Retrieval Training

This strategy involves gradually increasing the amount of time between memory tests, and was shown to also be highly effective for those with dementia. Compared to mnemonics, however, there was actually a decrease in brain activity, which led medical researchers to determine that the information had been processed more efficiently.

This training method is very effective in increasing independence and minimizing anxiety for those with cognitive challenges. Choose a desired event or activity for the person to keep in mind, such as a lunch date with a buddy on Friday. Start by asking the person a question to establish whether or not the memory is already in place. If not, remind them they are having lunch with John on Friday. Wait 15 seconds, and ask the individual the question again. If the memory is in place now, increase the time to 30 seconds, and ask again, continuing to double the time and ask again. If the person does not remember after 15 seconds, keep repeating the process every 15 seconds several more times before determining that it is not an effective technique, at least not for this particular event or activity.

Both strategies are simple, drug-free approaches to incorporate into the treatment for someone during the early stages of Alzheimer’s, or even for anyone who is looking for approaches to improve memory.

Let Responsive Home Care provide additional resources and support for someone you love with dementia. Our creative approaches to help improve memory make the most of an older adult’s cognitive functioning, independence, and wellbeing. Contact us online or call (954) 486-6440 for more information about our home care assistance in Fort Lauderdale and the nearby areas.

 

 

Downsizing for Seniors with Dementia

Learn the benefits of downsizing for seniors with dementia.

You’ve come to the realization that the family home is just way too much for your mother and father to take care of. A smaller home became available just around the corner from you that’s ideal: a lovely flower garden in the backyard, a bright, cheerful kitchen, and no stairs to navigate. Now it’s time to begin the downsizing process. The only problem? Mom has dementia.

It’s not uncommon for seniors with dementia to struggle with change. Leaving the familiarity of home and moving into a brand new one can increase feelings of agitation and anxiety, but there are strategies to help ease the transition.

  1. Pace yourself. It’s natural to want to rip the band aid off and make the downsizing process as quick as possible for seniors with dementia. However, a better approach in this situation is taking time to discuss the upcoming changes with the older adult, one step at a time. Keep a consistent and calm demeanor, and empower the person to maintain as much control over the required decisions as possible.
  2. Maintain memories. Take pictures and/or videos of some of the items being donated or discarded and use them to create a scrapbook for the older loved one. This helps aging loved ones to revisit the items anytime they would like, and can also be used to spark conversations and reminiscing after the move.
  3. Create a system. Donating and discarding seniors’ possessions are necessary parts of the downsizing process. Again, include the individual in the decision-making process to the greatest extent possible. There will probably be specific items the older adult can’t stand to part with, which can be placed into storage if the new living arrangement can’t accommodate them. If there are items the senior rarely uses or sees, however, it might be easiest to have those removed before involving the person in the process.
  4. Set up the new home yourself. Arrange the senior’s most loved furnishings and items of comfort in the new living environment before bringing them in. Include photographs of friends and family near the bed, so they can see them when they go to bed and first wake up. Then bring the senior loved one in, and help with rearranging anything they’d like adjusted. This process will lessen the anxiety that may occur for someone needing to unpack and figure out the best locations to place items in a brand new environment.

Our Alzheimer’s care team is thoroughly trained, experienced, and highly skilled, and we are available to help through the downsizing process and beyond for seniors with dementia. Reach out to us at (954) 486-6440 or online for more information about our caregiver services in Fort Lauderdale, FL and the nearby areas.

Are You Experiencing a Lack of Caregiver Appreciation?

caregiver appreciation

Lack of caregiver appreciation can lead to burnout or depression.

As soon as you woke up this morning up until the end of an exhausting day, you have given your all to your older family member. You provided assistance with showering and dressing, prepared nutritious meals, cleaned the house, all while making certain a senior loved one was happily involved in enjoyable activities, made it to their 2:00 hair appointment, and picked up groceries and prescriptions afterwards. And while you are not doing any of these things for a pat on the back, a simple “thank you” would be nice – but is almost never offered as a sign of caregiver appreciation.

If you are feeling a lack of caregiver appreciation or completely unappreciated altogether, you’re not alone. This is a frequent occurrence in caregiving for a number of reasons, and if not addressed, can cause caregiver burnout or depression. These strategies can help.

  1. Learn the skill of self-appreciation. The work you are doing is extremely important, and you deserve to be rewarded for it. Choose something each week that you’re going to do for yourself for a job well done. It could be as simple as one hour spent reading on the porch swing or a dessert from your favorite bakery. You can also plan for larger rewards, such as a long weekend getaway, by engaging respite care services from a dependable care partner like Responsive Home Care.
  2. Try to understand their perspective. There are a number of reasons a senior may not be expressing gratitude for the work you are doing. Someone with dementia or another chronic condition could be fully focused on their own struggles or the day-to-day tasks close at hand which are typically now more challenging. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can help you accept that a lack of verbal appreciation doesn’t automatically equate to true ungratefulness.
  3. Start modeling appreciative behavior. Let the senior see by example how good it feels to be appreciated by genuinely thanking them whenever the ability arises, no matter how small. If they fold and hang up the towel after their shower, clean off the table after lunch, or help with putting away groceries – be sure to thank them.

By providing home health care in Fort Lauderdale, FL and surrounding areas, we are always here to share in your caregiving duties, to alleviate stress and allow you plenty of time for self-care. Regularly scheduled time away is essential, and we’re here for as much or as little as you will need. While you’re taking care of yourself, we will help a senior you love with:

  • Companionship for conversations, games, puzzles, hobbies, exercise, etc.
  • Laundry and housekeeping
  • Meals
  • Medication reminders
  • Personal care (showers, baths, getting dressed, etc.)
  • Transportation to fun outings or appointments
  • And much more, according to each person’s unique needs

Reach out to Responsive Home Care for a complimentary in-home consultation and let us know exactly how we can help.

What Are the Symptoms of Chemo Brain, and How Can You Reduce Its Effects?

Could memory and focus problems be the result of chemo brain?

Confusion. Short-term memory problems. Inability to focus. Could it be Alzheimer’s?

Perhaps; however if you are a cancer survivor, there is another likely culprit that could be at play: chemotherapy. Known as chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment (CICI) or “chemo brain,” effects such as these can continue for months and on occasion even years post-treatment. Read more

How Journaling Can Be a Helpful Family Caregiving Tool

Family caregiver writing in her journal

Journaling can be a helpful family caregiving tool when caring for a loved one.

A lot of us are jotting down notes all of the time: shopping lists, to-do reminders, appointments, meetings, events…the list goes on and on. If you’re a family caregiver, you have additional reasons for writing, while you manage another person’s life in addition to your own.Journaling can be a helpful family caregiving tool to keep information together in one single location. Yet we advise taking it one step further by making use of two journals for two specific purposes that are every bit as important to your role as caregiver.

The Organization Journal

This type of journal is an ideal tool for keeping everything pertaining to a senior loved one’s health and wellbeing together. Include:

  • Any condition changes
  • Information regarding any troubling symptoms and what might be influencing them (for example, Mom has been feeling fatigued the past few days; it seems worse on the days that she skips breakfast)
  • A list of any questions you want to remember to ask the physician (along with their recommendations and answers)
  • Prescriptions being taken and any possible side effects the senior may be experiencing
  • Contact info for the pharmacy, health care professionals, etc.

Bring the journal with you to each doctor’s appointment so that you will have the important information you will need at your fingertips.

A Journal for Venting

Taking care of your mental health is vital to providing the best care for someone you love. A private journal just for venting your thoughts and feelings can be very helpful, as research indicates that documenting our experiences minimizes our risk for depression. This journal is exclusively for your eyes only. There’s no right or wrong approach to what or how you write, however, these suggestions can help:

  • Do not censor your thoughts or concern yourself with proper grammar – just let your thoughts flow.
  • Refrain from any self-judgment; the objective is just to empty the contents of your mind.
  • Include drawings or doodles if you’d like.
  • Write as frequently as you want, but only examine what you’ve written after a period of time has passed, allowing you the chance to gain some emotional distance from your thoughts.
  • Unsure where to begin? These prompts might help.

There are several different techniques to keeping journals; choose what works best for you!

  • Traditional pen-and-paper notes
  • Electronic documents
  • Specialized caregiving apps, for example:
    • Balance – Specifically for Alzheimer’s caregivers, find prompts to write down common symptoms with simple yes/no answers to generate a shareable log.
    • CareZone – This free app is an easy medication management tool, but also includes a journaling section.

Responsive Home Care’s compassionate caregivers are available to offer regular respite care services to allow you as much time as you need to spend in journal writing and any other activities you love that help restore and refresh you. Call us at (954) 486-6440 to learn more about our home care health aides in Ft Lauderdale, FL and the surrounding area.

Are You Falling for These Common Hospice Misconceptions?

If you knew that a significantly better quality of life could be achieved for someone you care about, you wouldn’t hesitate to explore that option. Yet one of the most beneficial types of care – hospice care – is one that family members shy away from, because of many different hospice misconceptions.

Hospice is intended to help someone with a life-limiting illness obtain relief from pain along with other difficult symptoms, while benefiting from comfort as well as spiritual and emotional support. Hospice care is available around the clock, both for the person needing care along with family members. And, for anyone covered by Medicare, hospice care is available for a very low cost or possibly at no cost. Many additional insurance policies cover hospice care too.

Here are some of the top myths and the real facts you should know about hospice care:

Hospice is only needed at the very end of life. Lots of people mistakenly assume that hospice services are for a person’s last day or two, when in fact, the earlier hospice care is started, the better. The criteria for Medicare-covered hospice services are simply for a doctor to certify that the individual could die within six months. The hospice team and the doctor continue to monitor and modify this prognosis ongoing, either discharging the individual from hospice if improvement is noted, or recertifying if life extends beyond six months.

A person can no longer receive medical treatment while on hospice. While it is correct that typically aggressive treatments that won’t lead to a cure are discontinued, the goal of hospice care is to help an individual with pain and symptom management. Treatments designed to improve the person’s level of comfort are an integral part of hospice care.

Hospice takes place in a facility or at a hospital. Hospice care is available anywhere the individual and loved ones wish. In-home hospice care is readily available for individuals who opt to remain at home for a lifetime or in a facility setting, if preferred. Whatever the living arrangement, hospice care is brought to that individual – eliminating the need to go out to physician’s appointments.

Hospice care is a holistic approach to meeting the needs of the person receiving the care, in addition to his or her loved ones. Beginning care as soon as possible allows maximum time to take advantage of the resources, support, and comfort necessary for the most peaceful transition possible.

For answers to any other questions about hospice care, call Responsive Home Care at 954-486-6440. We can share additional information with regards to the benefits of hospice care and provide you with a free consultation to talk about the options that are available to you for in-home care in Plantation and throughout the surrounding areas.

 

Tips to Help You Become a Champion Caregiver for Elderly Parents

caregiver for elderlyIf someone were providing care services for you, how would you want that caregiver/care receiver relationship to look? What qualities would shift that degree of care from ordinary to extraordinary?

Taking care of an older loved one at home is a noble and selfless commitment. It’s never a responsibility that should be taken lightly, or taken on halfheartedly. These tips make it possible to become not just a fantastic caregiver, but a care champion who empowers an older adult to thrive.

Foster independence. No one wants to feel as if they’re no longer self-sufficient, or that someone is coming in and taking over. Encourage and motivate the senior to do what they are able to do safely and comfortably on their own, providing whatever support is necessary along the way.

Practice empathy. It’s a helpful exercise to routinely put yourself in the senior’s shoes and consider how you would like to be treated if roles were reversed. This may mean setting your own personal feelings aside to better understand those of the other person.

Be creative. Think outside of the box for ideas to brighten every day. For instance, declare Mondays to be “Milkshake Mondays,” experimenting with making and sampling new flavors together. If the senior loves dogs, invite a pet therapist over or spend an afternoon at the local humane society. Have a movie marathon day featuring all of the senior’s favorite films. The ideas are limitless!

Let Responsive Home Care’s trained and experienced care experts assist with additional ideas and help with care needs in the home. Call us at (954) 486-6440 to request a free in-home consultation.

How to Handle the Unexpected Emotions of Caregiver Anger and Resentment

ver Anger and ResentmentIf you were to list the top five emotions you experience in meeting the caregiving needs of your elderly parents, what would they be? Maybe you’d first think of emotions like love, compassion, and in some cases, even frustration or stress. Would anger make the list? In many cases, though family care providers might not wish to admit it, caregiver anger and resentment are very real.

The reality is that a large number of adult children grapple with the reality that their parents are getting older. Growing up, our parents might have exuded health, strength, and control, giving us an underlying impression that they would always be there for us. Watching a decline in their health upends that belief, that could leave us feeling let down, disillusioned, fearful, anxious, and yes – angry.

As the tide shifts and aging parents become the ones needing care, family dynamics may become complicated. And the negative stereotype within our culture towards aging informs us that growing older is something we must resist or deny – something that may have a direct impact on how both aging adults and their adult children handle age-related decline.

Add to that the increased stress experienced by individuals who are part of the sandwich generation – caring for children at home and aging parents at the same time. Approximately one out of three adults with elderly parents believe their parents require some degree of care as well as emotional support.

So, how might you shift to a more positive mindset? The most crucial step is coming to a place of acceptance. Laura Cartensen, Stanford University psychology professor and director of its Center on Longevity, explains, “The issue is less about avoiding the inevitable and more about living satisfying lives with limitations. Accepting aging and mortality can be liberating.”

Honest, open communication is also essential. Family caregivers and their parents should share their feelings in regards to what is working well in the relationship, and what needs to be improved. Oftentimes, just understanding the other person’s perspective makes a huge difference. For instance, a senior parent may voice annoyance with being reminded to put on his/her glasses. An appropriate response may be to clarify the reason for the reminders – because of a fear that the parent may fall, for example. A compromise can then be reached.

Concentrating on the quality time your caregiving role affords you with your aging parents, while handling your parents’ needs with your own, is key. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by selecting a trusted care partner to assist. Call Responsive Home Care at (954) 486-6440 for more information about our services.

How to Address One of the Leading Caregiver Struggles: Caregiver Dread

One of the most common caregiver struggles is caregiver dread.

What are your first thoughts as soon as you wake up in the morning? Are you looking forward to what your day holds, or would you prefer to crawl back under the covers and remain there? If you are feeling more dread than delight as you think through your caregiving tasks for the day, you are not the only one. In fact, caregiver dread is one of the most common caregiver struggles we help families with each and every day.

Distinctly different from anxiety, depression, and even burnout, caregiver dread is a heavy, exhausted feeling of duty. It stems from feelings of overcommitment as well as the need to escape from obligations. While feasible to muscle through and carry out needed tasks in spite of these feelings, there are methods to conquer them instead – and restore the joy that comes from making life better for someone you love. To begin with, try these techniques:

  1. Release the guilt. Meeting the care needs of a person can feel unimpactful, mundane, and just downright difficult. It requires selflessness, which can feel burdening. Yet dreading the daily tasks you’re obligated to do in no way is a reflection of how you feel towards your loved one. Acknowledge to yourself that your role is not easy, and it is okay to wish you could be doing something else.
  2. Deliberately search for joy. The little pleasures each day holds may be diminished by the difficulties. Make the effort every day to find five small things which make you smile. Keep a journal of each day’s finds and refer back to it at the conclusion of every week. Engage all of your senses as you look for the day’s joys: the smell of freshly brewing coffee; the beauty of the sunrise; the sound of your cat purring; the invigorating feeling of a hot shower.
  3. Set boundaries. Schedule time daily to spend on things that you enjoy apart from the senior loved one in your care. Plan and look forward to this time when your caregiving responsibilities begin to weigh you down. An established and trusted care partner is vital to ensure that nothing impedes with the important time of looking after yourself.

Remind yourself that the work you are doing in caring for your senior loved one is extremely important. Yet also keep in mind that no one can do it all, and in order to provide the very best care for the senior and for yourself, frequent breaks from care tasks are essential.

Connect with our experts in elder care in Fort Lauderdale and nearby areas at (954) 486-6440 to arrange for regular respite care services and release the stress of caregiving dread. We’re here for as much or as little assistance as you need to help you enjoy quality time together with a family member and also to rediscover joy in your own life as well.

 

Taking Care of Elderly Parents After the Pandemic: The Shift We Can Expect

Employers may now have a different perspective on those taking care of elderly parents post-pandemic.

If there is a single positive after-effect regarding the pandemic, it is the appreciation generated for the plight of family caregivers. Managing work and home life is without question a tremendous challenge for those taking care of elderly parents. As Lindsay Jurist-Rosner, CEO of Wellthy, explains, “Caregiving went from a silent struggle to being in the spotlight overnight.”

Businesses were suddenly thrown into the fire of navigating a world of balancing the safety of staff along with the need to uphold productivity. Here is what we discovered – and what we can expect in the future:

    • More telecommuting. Individuals who began working from home in the last year have, in some cases, demonstrated their ability to be much more productive. Because of this, it is predicted that nearly 25 – 30% of the workforce within the United States will continue telecommuting at least several days a week this year.
    • Less stress. Doing away with the daily commute opens up extra time for self-care for family caregivers, while enhancing peace of mind. This is particularly true for those who relied on public transportation and were wary of compromised health safety. To further boost mental health, many employers are offering subscriptions to mindfulness and meditation apps.
    • A corporate culture of caring. Working from home has opened up the personal elements of our lives to employers. Zoom meetings share our living spaces with each other, including the appearance of pets, children, and other household members. As a result, the workplace has started to become more humanized, resulting in a more empathetic working environment.
    • Emphasis on mental wellness. Along those lines, there is now greater awareness of the significance of attending to our mental health. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll shared that nearly 45% of adults experienced negative mental health affects as a result of the pandemic – and an even more substantial percentage in those who function as family caregivers for older family members. Many employers have started implementing ways to take care of the mental health of their employees, such as offering virtual adventures and trips to give the chance to relax and escape.

Let Responsive Home Care, who offers the best respite care in Weston, FL and the surrounding areas, further help nurture a better work-life balance with our dependable respite care services. Regular, ongoing respite care is key to the general wellness of family caregivers. Our skilled and compassionate home care team is on hand to help with anything from only a few hours every week up to and including 24/7 care. Call us at (954) 486-6440 to request a no cost in-home assessment to find out more.

 

What to Do When Relatives Avoid Helping with Senior Care

What to Do When Relatives Avoid Helping with Senior Care

Tips for family caregivers providing senior care.

If you find yourself managing all of the in-home care for an aging parent while your siblings distance themselves from helping, you’re far from alone. In fact, half of all family caregivers are taking care of an aging loved one solo, according to a recent report from AARP.

Why is this scenario so common – and what can you do to protect your own health, which can easily be affected by providing senior care on your own? Our Fort Lauderdale, FL area in-home care experts have the answers.

1. Family members don’t realize there’s a need for help. It could very well be that from the outside looking in, you have everything covered and running smoothly, and aren’t in need of their support.

What to do: Have an honest, open conversation, explaining the stress you’re under. Invite your siblings or other family members to visit during a time of higher intensity care needs, such as when you’re preparing dinner and then helping the senior get ready for bed, and enlist their help so they can see firsthand how much work is involved.

2. They don’t know what to do to help. While it may seem intuitive to simply jump in and meet a senior’s needs to you, that’s not the case for everyone.

What to do: Make a list of specific tasks that you could use help with, along with the days and times that assistance is needed, and ask for volunteers.

3.  They’re afraid or uncomfortable. For someone who’s never cared for an older adult, it can be truly daunting.

What to do: Invite them to “shadow” you for a day to help gain confidence in the particular tasks that they’re uncomfortable with. A little hands-on training can make all the difference.

At Responsive Home Care, our caregivers are always at the ready to work with you to meet the care needs of your loved one, with professionalism, dedication, and compassion, so you’re never alone. Call us at (954) 486-6440 and let us help! We can provide a skilled, dependable, and friendly home health aide in Fort Lauderdale, FL and throughout the Broward County area. See our service area page for more details.