Should You Rethink the Way You Approach Caring for a Loved One?

senior man hugging caregiver

You may have doubts about others caring for a loved one, but here’s why it’s important to let others help.

“You can make it, but it’s easier if you don’t have to do it alone.” – Betty Ford

We all realize that no person is an island, something that especially holds true when caring for a loved one with dementia. Nonetheless many family caregivers falter with regards to asking for or accepting the help they need. As a result, stress is exacerbated, as there’s little if any time for self-care – something that is essential for any person in a caregiving role.

Why are we frequently so resolved to tackle such an extraordinary undertaking independently? Here are several common reasons and why we must rethink them:

  • I am doing just fine on my own; I don’t need a break. To put it simply, science disagrees! A research study shared in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry revealed that a certain stress hormone was depleted in caregivers whose stress was chronic and prolonged – such as in providing Alzheimer’s care independently – while those who engaged in just two days per week of respite care achieved a rise in the hormone as well as a brighter outlook and elevated mood.
  • Mom would never want someone else taking care of her. Many of us would balk if we were told that someone was coming over to give us a bath. But having someone come and assist with housework and meals is a good approach to introduce a new caregiver, working your way up to additional necessary services once the caregiver is known and accepted. The phrasing you utilize tends to make a significant difference as well. Having a “salon day” sounds far more inviting, for instance.
  • No one else could take care of Mom like I will. While you are certainly not replaceable, the purpose of enlisting help is certainly not replacement, but respite. A senior with Alzheimer’s can benefit through the socialization provided by someone other than yourself, while you gain the benefit of a much-needed break – ultimately allowing you to provide better care to the older adult when you return.
  • It’s too time consuming to try and find a caregiver I will be able to trust. At Responsive Home Care, we background check and professionally train each one of our caregivers, confirming key character traits such as reliability, kindness, flexibility, and so much more. Responsive Home Care is insured and bonded, for your additional peace of mind. We also carefully match each older adult with the ideal caregiver who will be most compatible. Lastly, if an older adult’s primary caregiver is sick or on vacation, we will provide an equally qualified replacement caregiver.

If you’d like to explore in-home respite care for a senior you love with Alzheimer’s, connect with Responsive Home Care for home care in Hollywood, FL or the surrounding area. Our professionally trained, experienced, creative, and compassionate caregivers are available to help you reduce stress, improve life for the senior you love, and provide you with the opportunity for self-care. Contact us at (954) 486-6440 to set up a free in-home assessment!

Solutions to Help Be a Better Senior Advocate For a Loved One

adult daughter and senior mother talking to caregiver

Advocating for a senior loved one is easier with home care help.

Trusting someone you love to the care of someone else is not easy, particularly for an older member of the family. Whether at home or in a facility, you’ll have questions you need answered. You will also want to be an excellent senior advocate to proactively address any potential problems and also to immediately resolve problems that do develop.

For example, review the following common situations and how to be a better senior advocate should they occur with an older adult you love:

  • You’re concerned about challenging behaviors. In the event the older adult is prone to wandering, aggression, angry outbursts, hoarding, or any one of an array of other difficult behaviors, you might feel embarrassed or ashamed. Though you may prefer not to talk about the issue, it is a good idea to share this openly with the care provider. More likely than not, they have experience with successfully working with an array of personalities and personal nuances, and will be able to incorporate strategies which will work best together with your family member.
  • You live far away. Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to remain close to a long-distance relative and to keep a finger on the pulse of how things are going. FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype with the older adult regularly to check in. If a family portal is available for the home care provider and family members to share comments and notes, make full use of this communication tool. And if you’re not able to visit in person, ask a friend or other member of the family who lives nearby to drop in routinely.
  • Your loved one has dementia. A senior with dementia may not be able to effectively communicate their wishes and needs. For example, a new caregiver might not know that Dad wears inserts in his shoes and she may put his shoes on each morning without them. Dad might not know how to communicate this need or could have forgotten about this need and start to become uncomfortable that day. Or he may act out because he is experiencing discomfort, which might lead to other issues. As the older adult’s voice, be sure to share even the smallest details about the person’s preferences with the care provider.

Responsive Home Care partners with families, working together to ensure the best quality of care and senior advocacy, through personalized services such as:

  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Personal care for safe baths/showers, getting dressed, etc.
  • Running errands
  • Companionship for fun activities and conversations
  • And more

Contact us at (954) 486-6440 for a free in-home consultation to allow us to get to know one another and to develop a care plan to best meet the needs of an older adult for home care in Deerfield Beach, FL and the surrounding area.

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

Is it Time To Consider Guardianship of an Elderly Parent?

Learn when to think about petitioning for guardianship of an elderly parent.

In an ideal world, our family relationships would all be positive and helpful. We would manage transitional times cooperatively, smoothly, and with virtually no disagreement. As our parents grew older, it would be a seamless process to fulfill their needs today and their needs in the future. 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.

The Importance of Advocating for Your Parent or Loved One

Medical professional talking to senior and her family caregiver

Advocating for a parent can be stressful, but our home health care services in Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area can help.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Advocating for your parent or loved one is probably one of the biggest honors – and responsibilities – you will have as a family caregiver. It means fully comprehending the other person’s wishes and needs, and communicating those wishes to people who can help make sure they are fulfilled.

If the role seems intimidating and possibly more than you feel equipped to handle, there are a number of actions you can take to bolster the relevant skills you will need to be successful.

Observe. It may seem to go without saying, however with so many issues vying for your focus, it may be very easy to pay less attention than needed to slight shifts in a senior’s condition, behaviors, or mood. It’s beneficial to first make sure your own self-care needs are met so you’re sharp and well-rested. Then implement a system to take and share notes with any other members of the family or friends who are in close contact with the senior to detect any changes.

Communicate. Effective communication with medical, legal, or financial professionals is vital to successfully advocate for a senior. Since these professionals are extremely busy, keep your communication style clear, concise, and to the point. Bring notes so you’re certain to cover all the bases. Remain respectful, and keep in mind listening is just as crucial to good communication as speaking. And, thank the professional for hearing you out and for their assistance in coming to the best resolution.

Learn. Continue to educate yourself on the particular health condition(s) a senior loved one is navigating, along with aging in general, and legal/financial matters. While you find out more, it’s possible that subsequent questions will surface. If you can’t get the answers you require from one particular professional, try another trusted source until you have the understanding necessary.

Be tenacious. Advocating for an older adult member of the family effectively has been referred to as serving as “chief bulldog.” It means giving it your all, finding creative solutions to challenging dilemmas, always with the older adult’s best interests at heart. Be ready for frustrations to develop, and to have to advocate for exactly what your loved one requires!

Most importantly, maintain an optimistic mindset, and surround yourself with a strong support system, including the senior care team at Responsive Home Care. We are here to partner with you to ensure the absolute best quality of life for a senior you love. We also provide you with the chance to take a break from your caregiving role to recharge and refresh – something extremely important both for your loved one and yourself.

Give us a call at (954) 486-6440 any time and let us know how we can help provide home health care services in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the surrounding area! We offer a free of charge in-home assessment and the creation of a customized plan of care that will help ensure each of your care bases are covered!

Discussing a COPD Diagnosis: How to Communicate Well with Those You Love

happy-senior-man-holding-oxygen-mask-with-copdIt began with those in your inner circle, and it has gradually been spreading outward to friends and acquaintances. Discussing a COPD diagnosis and knowing how to reply to the various questions that arise about it could be uncomfortable – for you personally, and for those you are speaking with as well.

Surprisingly, you could find that the largest challenges come in speaking with your primary caregiving partner – the individual who is closest to you. The caregiver/care receiver relationship can bring up a number of emotions. The individual on the receiving end of care may feel self-conscious and insecure as a result of needing assistance, which may result in feelings of anger and frustration, just to name a few. The care provider may feel incapable of meeting each of the required needs, regretful for mistakes made, and downright fatigued from trying to handle someone else’s care needs with their own.

There are several key techniques to improve communication with your caregiving partner:

  • Make sure you are both completely knowledgeable about COPD, the corresponding symptoms and treatment plans, as well as its typical progression. The doctor can offer educational materials for both of you to better understand what you are facing.
  • Don’t beat around the bush. Honestly and clearly express your emotions and needs.
  • Listen to your partner – and let them know they’re being heard. Maintain eye contact, nod or use other nonverbal indicators to demonstrate you’re listening.
  • Be assertive without being controlling. Your emotions are valid and deserve to be shared in a constructive way without lashing out at the other person.
  • Avoid argumentative phrases and words, such as, “You always…” or “You never…”. The individual is probably going to become defensive, intensifying hurt feelings.
  • Remind yourself that no one is a mind-reader. If you are assuming your caregiving partner knows what you’re thinking or how you’re feeling simply by your actions, it opens the door to misunderstandings.
  • Maintain empathy and respect for each other. You both are facing new and evolving challenges, and will both make mistakes. A little grace will go a long way.

It’s also a wise idea to call a time-out if emotions start to intensify. Take a break from one another and concentrate on calming activities, such as reading, listening to music, exercising, or writing in a journal. When you both feel calmer, try the conversation again.

At Responsive Home Care, we understand the frustrations that can arise when managing a chronic health condition like COPD, and we’re available to help. Our friendly caregivers make ideal companions to talk with and to spend time with, engaging in enjoyable activities together. We work with family caregivers to make sure they have time required for self-care, while enhancing the lives of the seniors for whom they care. Contact us any time to find out more about our home care in Plantation and throughout the area.

Solutions for Aggression in Alzheimer’s: How to Safely Respond Using the 6 R’s

adult-son-talking-to-senior-father-with-dementia

Try these solutions for aggression in Alzheimer’s to restore peace and calm.

Of the many difficult behaviors common in Alzheimer’s, probably the most challenging to manage is aggression. A senior who may have always been mild-mannered can abruptly lash out in outbursts that can be truly alarming: hitting, cursing, kicking, yelling, biting, or throwing objects. How can you, as a family care provider, find solutions for aggression in Alzheimer’s and safely help reestablish a feeling of calm?

First of all, remind yourself that the aggression is a result of the disease. It’s not something the senior can control, and it is not intentional. That said, it needs to be diffused in order to keep both you and the older adult protected from harm.

The 6 R’s of Managing Difficult Behavior,” developed by Dr. Peter Rabins and Nancy Mace in their book The 36-Hour Day, could be an effective solution for aggression in Alzheimer’s. Read through and refer back to them so you’re prepared for the next burst of aggression.

The 6 R’s

  • Restrict. Maintain a calm demeanor and tone of voice while you work to help the individual withdraw from the behavior.
  • Reassess. Think through what could have provoked the incident. Causes may include physical pain, too much noise or other distractions in the room, hunger, thirst, fatigue, etc. Keeping a journal of what was occurring before and during each incident can help provide clues.
  • Reconsider. Empathize with the older adult by picturing yourself fighting a disease that impedes your ability to clearly communicate your needs and wishes, to accomplish tasks independently which were once so easy, to feel disoriented and confused, etc.
  • Rechannel. Redirect the person to a pursuit the individual enjoys, or relocate to an alternative environment, such as moving out onto the front porch or going to the dining area together for a snack.
  • Reassure. Let the older adult know that everything is ok and that you are there. In the event that the individual responds favorably to touch, place your hand on their shoulder, offer a pat on the back or hug, or take their hand in yours.
  • Review. Note in your journal what went well – or what did not – to help in using the most effective response if the aggression arises again.

Knowing that aggression may develop at any time in a person with Alzheimer’s, it is helpful to evaluate the home environment and take measures to ensure it is as comfortable and calming as possible, for example:

  • Playing relaxing music the senior enjoys in the background.
  • Placing comforting and familiar objects within quick access.
  • Staying clear of television shows that may show violence or other unsettling images.
  • Opening the window blinds during the day to allow lots of sunlight to stream in.

Responsive Home Care, the leading provider of home health care in Fort Lauderdale, FL and the surrounding areas, understands the intricacies of Alzheimer’s and how to best manage the related challenges. Reach out to us for more information on our in-home dementia care. See our website for a comprehensive list of the communities we serve.

How to Be a Supportive Family Caregiver for Someone with a New Diagnosis

family-caregiver-talking-with-senior-womanIt may have been suspected, or maybe broadsided you out of nowhere. Mom has just received the official diagnosis for a progressive disease that’s going to make independent life a challenge. While there are lots of unknowns, one thing is for sure: she is insistent about remaining at home – meaning you may need to learn how to be a supportive family caregiver.

If you are feeling a bit stressed with what to anticipate next, these guidelines can certainly help.

  • Learn as much as you can in regards to the disease. The senior’s physician can provide you with resources and educational materials that will help you know what to anticipate and also to gain confidence in your caregiving role.
  • Get organized. Create a binder in which to store important paperwork: prescription details, test results, contact information for physicians’ offices and the pharmacy, and any other important medical information. Start a journal to help keep track of any changes in condition or concerns that arise, along with the details surrounding those changes.
  • Set aside past hurts. A new diagnosis could cause old family dynamics to resurface. If unsettled issues are interfering with your ability to provide the best care, seek the support of a professional counselor to effectively work through them.
  • Establish boundaries together. Speak with the senior about how much and what sort of help could be beneficial. It is normal to want to step in and take over, but it’s vital for the individual to maintain as much independence and control as possible.
  • Take proper care of yourself, too. Your own personal health and wellness are equally important. And, the level of care you provide can be compromised if your own needs are not being met. Prioritize and designate time each day for self-care by seeking out and accepting assistance from others.

It’s important to know about the chance for depression and caregiver burnout, and to take the appropriate steps immediately in the event that you start to experience red flags such as:

  • Increased anxiety, agitation, and irritability
  • Retreating from social interactions
  • Lack of interest in once-enjoyed hobbies
  • Resentment
  • Loss of appetite
  • Issues with falling or staying asleep
  • Difficulty with concentration and focus
  • Exhaustion

Locating a dependable care partner provides time for you to see a physician for a checkup to rule out other potential health problems, to speak with a therapist to effectively work through the many emotions involved with caregiving, and to relax and recharge.

The Weston home health care team at Responsive Home Care is here with further resources for family caregivers, as well as skilled, dependable respite care services that enable a healthier life balance. Reach out to us for a complimentary in-home consultation to find out more about our services and list of communities served.

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.

 

How to Help Your Loved One When Alzheimer’s Affects Sleep

If it feels like a senior with Alzheimer’s has completely rewritten the rules on when and how to sleep, you are not dreaming—Alzheimer’s affects sleep. For reasons that are not yet fully understood, a number of people with dementia experience changes to their circadian rhythm, leading to sleepless nights and drowsy days.

The progression of the disease is one contributing factor. Damage to brain cells causes increased weakness, making everyday activities and tasks exhausting. Medication side effects from commonly-prescribed dementia treatments can further exacerbate the issue.

Why a Good Night’s Sleep Is Crucial for a Senior with Dementia

Decreased sleep quality in dementia may lead to an increase in restlessness and delusions and can result in serious safety concerns, including the potential for a senior to wander away and become injured or lost. Not just that, but a senior loved one who is sleepy during the day will also be less likely to engage in healthy activities, such as spending time outdoors and exercising.

And, for a busy family caregiver who also needs rest, it is typically quite a challenge to meet all of the person’s care needs during the day and throughout the night as well.

Ways to Help

Try these strategies for a senior whose sleep patterns are disrupted:

  • Talk to the physician, first of all, for a review of medications. Changing the dosage timing every day may be all it will require to make a difference.
  • Maintain a routine like going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Limit caffeine, naps, and heavy meals later in the day.
  • Incorporate bedtime activities that are soothing, for example, a warm bath, reading, turning off the television, and playing quiet, calming music.
  • If wandering is a concern, a wireless bed exit pad can notify you as soon as the senior gets up so that you can assist.
  • Try placing a clock that distinguishes between nighttime and daytime near the senior’s bed.

You may want to encourage a senior to try sleeping on their side rather than the back or stomach as well. Recent reports revealed a possible link between side sleeping and much more effective clearing of brain waste, such as excess beta-amyloid. Note that this study was conducted on laboratory animals, and it’s unclear yet whether the results carry over to humans.

Responsive Home Care is available to help as well, with overnight caregivers who are awake and alert, looking after the older adult’s needs throughout the night, so you can get the rest you need. Our care team members are fully trained and experienced in creative, patient approaches to meeting the unique care needs of those with Alzheimer’s disease. Give us a call at 954-486-6440 to learn more about our specialized Fort Lauderdale elderly care offered throughout the greater metropolitan area.