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Therapy for Family Caregivers and Their Siblings

Therapy for Family Caregivers

Explore the benefits of therapy for family caregivers of aging parents.

There are particular milestones we might encounter in our lives that, though not always negative, are known stressors. Losing a job. Starting a new job. Getting married. Getting divorced. And one that we in the home care industry are especially mindful of: the physical and mental effect on family members who are caring for aging parents.

A lot of conflicting emotions crop up for anyone in the role of family caregiver, and they are increased when trying to share responsibilities with siblings or other family members. There are past resentments and hurts which might resurface, conflicts pertaining to decision-making, as well as the stress when trying to navigate what feels like a role reversal with a parent who once took care of us.

For these reasons and more, family counseling tends to be a wonderful addition to a family caregiver’s toolbox to ensure the absolute best possible care for senior parents, as well as his/her own emotional wellbeing. Here are several advantages of therapy for family caregivers as parents grow older:

  1. It provides care for the care provider. Agreeing to the role of family caregiver may be daunting in and of itself, but factor in additional responsibilities, such as managing a home and caring for children while maintaining a job, and you have a recipe for stress. Family therapy helps caregivers work through challenging emotions and reach solutions.
  2. It offers support through grief. Grief comes in many forms, and frequently begins during the early stages of caregiving for senior parents, as family members work through the inherent changes taking place now and to come. When a senior parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, the decrease in cognitive functioning brings about yet another degree of grief. A family therapist will help all people in the family to work through their grief together.
  3. It helps the family as a unit. A family therapist focuses on arriving at precisely what is best for the whole family as well as its cohesiveness, through challenges such as issues connected to inheritance and other financial concerns, medical decisions, and any complicated family dynamics.

If in-person therapy for family caregivers is not possible as a result of geographic constraints, continued COVID-19 distancing concerns, or another reason, phone or Zoom sessions can be equally successful. The key factor is for involvement to be a main priority for all family members involved, and to make therapy appointments a regular routine.

If you need a partner to provide reliable respite care services while you devote the time necessary for family therapy, give us a call at (954) 486-6440 for help from our professional caregivers in Fort Lauderdale, FL  and surrounding areas. With both a dependable family counselor and the aging care professionals at Responsive Home Care on your team, your family can overcome caregiving-related obstacles and enjoy good quality time together.

Assessing the Mental Health of Seniors When You Live Far Away

Assessing the Mental Health of Seniors

Find helpful tips on assessing the mental health of seniors.

The fear and isolation as a result of have wreaked havoc on the wellbeing of older adults, with nearly one-half of seniors surveyed in a Kaiser Family Foundation stating that their level of stress and worry was negatively affecting their health. Even though it still may be risky to visit in person with senior loved ones, it is important to stay in regular and frequent contact and also to watch out for any changes or signs which might signify a mental health concern, such as depression. Assessing the mental health of seniors is possible, even from a distance.

As stated by psychiatrist Judith Feld, MD, MPH, “If a senior usually really enjoys a call with a grandchild, for example, but that seems to have changed, maybe you need to ask more questions, such as, ‘How can we be of help?’”

Other warning signs of depression to watch for include sleeping problems, reduced appetite, listlessness, and complaints about pain, which interestingly, is often one of the main symptoms of depression in older adults. Take note of anything that may seem abnormal for a senior’s personality and character.

It’s important to understand that depression is not simply an unavoidable aspect of growing older, and that it is a serious –  but treatable – condition.

Here are a few additional ideas to help you with assessing the mental health of seniors:

  • Keep the conversations organic and natural, without coming across as interrogating. Statements such as, “Tell me what’s been happening in your life this week,” will motivate a senior to open up significantly more than, “Tell me what the doctor said at your last scheduled appointment.” The goal is to be caring yet not condescending, being mindful never to attempt to parent your parents.
  • While seeing and talking with the grandkids on Zoom is a good way to boost an older adult’s spirits, make sure to allow for some one-on-one time for you to talk without children present.
  • Take notice of what’s going on in the background of your video chats for any additional clues, such as whether or not the home looks neat and well maintained, in addition to personal hygiene – unkempt, disheveled hair, as an example.
  • Take into consideration whether substance abuse could be a factor. A rise in alcohol consumption during the pandemic is happening in people of all ages, and may be very harmful if there are potential interactions with medications the senior is taking.

If you suspect depression or any other mental health issues in an elderly parent, make sure to connect with the physician immediately. Since you are most familiar with the senior, you may well be able to pick up on signs that the medical team misses during routine appointments, and it’s imperative to make your concerns known.

If you have any concerns, contact Responsive Home Care for additional assistance. We can act as your eyes and ears when you’re unable to be there in person, and provide a wide selection of customized services to enhance socialization and quality of life at home. Contact us at (954) 486-6440 for more information and to learn more about home care in Weston and surrounding areas.

How to Manage 5 Tough (But Normal) Emotions in Caregiving

Sad woman being comforted by a friend

It is normal to have strong emotions in caregiving as you offer assistance to a senior loved one.

If you are feeling somewhat disheartened in your role as caregiver, take heart; you’re in good company. Providing homecare for a loved one is perhaps one of the most complex roles we can hold: highly gratifying on the one hand, while at the same time frustrating and ever-evolving, often bringing about feelings of doubt on whether we are up to the challenge and providing the most effective care.

It’s why a number of family members providing care grapple with some or all of these types of emotions in caregiving:

  • Guilt: You may feel as though you are not doing as much as you can to help your parent, that you’re self-centered for seeking time away to yourself, or that you are inadequate to provide the assistance a senior loved one needs.
  • Helplessness: There are a few circumstances when you simply can’t solve the issues your loved one is experiencing.
  • Anger or frustration: This could be directed at yourself, other family members who seem as if they are not doing their fair share, or even at your older parent for causing you to be in this situation.
  • Resentment: Particularly common when taking care of an individual who hurt or betrayed you in the past, it is easy for those feelings to resurface when that individual is now in your care.
  • Hopelessness: When a senior faces a difficult diagnosis for example, a chronic or terminal condition, feelings of despair can settle in, that could result in despondency or depression.

Recognizing these feelings, and accepting they are completely normal, is a good place to start. These tips can also help:

  • Share your emotions. Find a trustworthy friend, family member, or professional counselor to vent to, a person who can provide a different perspective and help you to shift your thinking to a more positive slant.
  • Think about the advice you would offer a friend. Sometimes, stepping out of your circumstances and picturing how you would react to someone else dealing with these feelings will offer invaluable insight. Offer the same encouragement you’d offer to another to yourself.
  • Find a care partner. Working together with a knowledgeable care provider, like Responsive Home Care, enables you to achieve a healthy life balance – something that is vital to every caregiver.

Reach out to our highly trained, experienced, and compassionate care team by calling 954-486-6440 and let us walk alongside you with the high quality, personalized care services your loved one deserves – making it possible to take much-needed time for self-care. We are always available to answer any questions you have, to provide practical resources specific to the concerns you’re facing as a caregiver in Fort Lauderdale, Florida or the surrounding area, and also to provide a free of charge in-home consultation to share how our team in home health care in Ft. Lauderdale can help.

Beyond Weight Loss Resolutions: Meaningful Goals for Family Caregiver Support

Senior woman backpacking and exploring

Responsive Home Care provides family caregiver support

If you are among the eight percent of Americans who actually accomplish their New Year’s resolution goals, well done! However, if you’re like the majority of us, you have given up prior to even turning the calendar page to February. Although of course it’s admirable to attempt to better ourselves by resolving to get rid of 10 pounds or eat healthier foods, busy family caregivers need support, and there are several truly meaningful, achievable goals that can improve life throughout the year.

Consider these recommendations:

  • Find joy. Taking care of somebody else is a labor of love, but may result in challenges which make it hard to focus on the daily benefits that can spark joy. Take some time each day to pause and discover a reason to smile. Bring a sense of humor to your daily caregiving tasks to share laughter with your family member. Enjoy the feeling of the sun’s rays shining through the window as you’re sorting laundry. Contact a relative who lifts your spirits for a quick chat.
  • See the bigger picture. Make an effort to take one step back from the busyness of your to-do list, and view the effect your caregiving is making. Because of you, your parent can continue living in the comfort and familiarity of home. Thanks to you, life is the absolute best it can be for a senior loved one. Your contribution is priceless and it is making a difference.
  • Compartmentalize. It is extremely important to make mental wellness a priority, and one effective way to cope with the many different responsibilities associated with providing care is to be entirely focused on the present. Visualizing different rooms for different concerns can be helpful; when you start to worry about a planned surgical procedure a senior loved one is facing while watching a film with your kids, visualize setting that concern in its appropriate room until later, and being focused on today.
  • Be kind to yourself. It is very easy to slip into a pattern of wishing you could do more for a loved one, or worrying about errors you’ve made that you wish you might change. Point out to yourself you are human, and that you are doing essential work for the senior you love. Truly appreciate the sacrifices you are making, just as you would take note and appreciate them in another family caregiver.
  • Seek – and accept – help and support. Attempting to be a superhero who deals with everything independently can easily result in burnout and depression. Partnering with others to help a senior loved one is the best way to make sure his / her needs are completely met, while helping you achieve the healthy life balance you need and deserve.

As providers of the top Tamerac home health care available, Responsive Home Care, is the perfect partner for any family caregiver. We deliver highly skilled, professional, and compassionate care for seniors according to each person’s specific needs. Allow us to help! Call our care team at 954-486-6440 and together we can develop a plan of care in order to make 2020 the best year yet – both for the senior in your care, and for yourself. To learn more about all of the areas that we serve in Florida, please visit our Service Area page.

If You’re a Family Caregiver, You’re at Risk for Caregiver Depression

 caregiver depression - home care broward There’s no question that it’s a great honor to care for family we love. Family caregivers experience a closeness and connection with those in their care that generally far outweigh the difficulties. Yet unfortunately there are also difficulties. A continuous to-do list to make certain the person you’re providing care for is as healthy and happy as possible. Household duties and errands to manage. Career responsibilities. The requirements of other relatives and friends. And don’t leave out self-care.

The end result is an often overwhelming degree of stress, that if left uncontrolled, can quickly transform into caregiver depression  or burnout that could manifest in any or all of the following ways:

  • Thoughts of frustration, unhappiness, hopelessness, stress
  • Trouble with falling or staying asleep during the night
  • Lack of interest in previously-enjoyed activities
  • Eating more or significantly less than normal
  • Delayed thinking
  • And if left untreated, suicidal thoughts or possibly attempts at suicide

This short online assessment makes it possible to decide if you may be experiencing depression.

The good thing is, there are a number of easy steps to take to lessen your potential for falling into depression:

  • First and foremost, schedule an appointment with your physician for help
  • Refrain from isolating yourself and ensure an abundance of opportunities for socialization apart from your caregiving relationship
  • Remain active, both physically and mentally, with activities you like: swimming, playing a sport, reading, volunteering with a cause that is important to you

While it could be challenging for family caregivers to carve out the time required for self-care, it is imperative to the wellbeing of both family caregivers themselves and the seniors in their care. And lots of times, family feel as though they need to do it all themselves – after all, they are familiar with the individual much better than anyone else, and frequently it simply seems much easier to manage things on one’s own.

An overly stressed, burned out, or depressed caregiver needs to have trustworthy, reliable support – and the great news is, it is easily available! A professional, home caregiver can provide as much or as little help as needed. Perhaps, for instance, you’d rather continue to make all of the meals for your senior loved one – but would like some help with cleaning up the kitchen afterwards. Or maybe your loved one would feel much more comfortable with an experienced caregiver providing assistance with personal care needs, for example, bathing and using the restroom.

At Responsive Home Care, leaders in home care Broward and the surrounding areas trust, we understand how overwhelming life can feel for family caregivers, and we work with families to develop a strategy of care that meets each person’s individual desires and needs. Let us assist with trustworthy, professional respite care. Reach out to us at 954-486-6440 any time for additional information about caregiver depression.