Focus on the Individual to Avert Elderly Falls

prevent elderly falls

Falling poses a serious risk to the elderly. According to an article published by the CDC, over one-quarter of Americans over the age of 65 fall each year, making falling the number one cause of injury, both fatal and non-fatal, in this age group.

Falling not only poses a physical threat but also threatens one’s independence, self-confidence, and socialization. The elderly person’s mental and physical welfare, therefore, depends on preventing a fall to begin with.

While elderproofing the home is a necessary step toward fall prevention, focusing on the individual may provide them with benefits far beyond that.

Some of the areas to focus on include:

  • Regular Exercise: Techniques such as yoga and tai chi focus on balance directly, while weight-bearing exercises, especially for the lower body, may prevent bone loss and help maintain muscle mass.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy may be beneficial to recover properly from a previous injury, surgery, or chronic condition.
  • Check Vision and Hearing: Keep up on checkups for vision and hearing. Outdated eyeglass prescriptions may cause blurred vision, which can contribute to falling. Additionally, undiagnosed auditory deficits can directly affect your balance.
  • Dizziness: Even seemingly minor dizziness may indicate something much more significant, such as blood sugar issues, poor circulation, or low blood pressure.
  • Medications: Be sure to understand each medication taken, paying particular attention to those that may cause dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Stand Up Slowly: Getting up slowly reduces the likelihood of lightheadedness due to blood pressure drops. In addition, gentle movements may decrease the risk of injury to older muscles and joints.
  • Footwear: Rubber soled shoes with no or a very low heel are best to prevent slipping. Be certain that the shoes fit properly. Shoes that leave room for swelling feet may be loose, which can contribute to the risk of falling.
  • Alcohol: Limit the amount of alcohol consumed. Not only can alcohol interact with other medications taken, but alcohol itself has a disorienting effect on the individual.
  • Sleep: Getting the proper amount of sleep may reduce fatigue, increase alertness, and improve pain tolerance.

 

Focus on the Individual Elderly Person

A full assessment of each individual with respect to their risk factors for a fall will go a long way toward keeping them safe from a fall. Fall prevention within the elderly community can be enhanced by having a home healthcare aide present, either full-time or part-time, to ensure that your elderly loved one has someone nearby to assist them if they do experience a fall.

At David York Agency, we are committed to providing the personalized and dedicated care that people need as they age. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Why Vitamin D Is So Important for Senior Health

vitamin d for senior health

When you are involved in elderly caregiving in NY and Long Island, it’s important to remember that all seniors need the proper amount of vitamin D in their diets. Vitamin D is a natural vitamin that the body produces in response to sunlight. It can also be taken in through diet and supplements.

Vitamin D allows the body to absorb calcium, which is so important for healthy, strong bones. Unfortunately, too many elderly men and women are not getting enough vitamin D by diet alone, and this deficiency can lead to high blood pressure, brittle bones, and autoimmune disorders. A simple blood test can determine if you are taking in the correct amount for your age group.

Not Just From the Sun: Getting Vitamin D Inside

Many people believe they get enough of this vitamin simply from being out in the sun, and that is certainly true for a large part of the population. However, elderly men and women are often vitamin D deficient because many seniors cannot get outside due to the weather or limited mobility.

Spending an hour or so a day in the sun is the first step, but when that isn’t an option, it’s extremely easy to get the amount that you need by eating the right types of foods. The recommended amount of vitamin D for senior citizens over the age of 71 is 800 IU a day. Many are already fortified with this vitamin, such as milk, certain dairy products, and cereals. Tuna, cheese, egg yolks, tofu, and pork are just a few more vitamin-D-enriched foods. Supplements are also a great source of vitamin D.

Lower Osteoporosis Risk

Seniors who take vitamin D as part of their daily routine will lower their risk for osteoporosis, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. This vitamin will help keep their bones strong, which is important in the event of a fall.

If you are caring for an elderly person with a vitamin D deficiency, a home health aide can help. The aide can remind your loved one to take supplements recommended or prescribed by a doctor, including vitamin D.

At David York Agency, we understand the fears and challenges that growing older and not getting enough nutrients can present, not just for the person affected, but for everyone in their life. We provide families with the support and care they need to ensure their loved one is as happy and healthy as possible.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.
If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

How Home Health Aides Can Prevent Foodborne Illness

preventing foodborne illness

People over 65 need to take special care to reduce their chances of contracting foodborne illness (i.e. food poisoning). Fortunately, home health aides for senior citizens can help. Although food in the U.S. is usually very safe, food that has started to go bad or has been in a refrigerator too long may carry bacteria that could cause illness in anyone, but that is particularly dangerous for the elderly.

Older people process toxins in their body more slowly than younger people, so bacteria stay in their body longer. In addition, older people may have weaker immune systems, due either to chronic conditions or medications. Because seniors tend to live alone or with an elderly spouse, food may often sit in the refrigerator longer and even go bad. Their lack of mobility and a normal concern about the budget on a fixed retirement income can contribute to the problem.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 48 million Americans become ill each year from foodborne illnesses. As many as 128,000 people are hospitalized annually, and 3,000 of those foodborne illnesses become fatal. Many of those affected are senior citizens or children.

Here’s where a home health aide can help. As people age, their memory may gradually deteriorate and they may lose some of the acuity of smell and taste they once had. Smell and taste are the ways people can easily tell if food is no longer safe to eat. If an elderly parent, relative, or friend is dealing with a diminishment in those senses, a home senior care aide can examine fruits, vegetables, and meats to see if they are still fresh.

A home health aide who helps prepare food or provides company can be a safeguard against food poisoning. At David York Agency, we offer a number of home healthcare services to help ensure your elderly loved one gets the care and nutrition they need. Whether you just need someone to come over a few days a week to help prepare fresh, healthy meals or you need a full-time home healthcare assistant, we can help.

For more information about our qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

How MyPlate for Older Adults is Helping Improve Senior Care

MyPlate for Seniors

This May, the U.S. government rolled out a new version of its popular MyPlate daily nutritional guide specifically for seniors. MyPlate shows a visual of a plate divided by fruits, vegetables, protein, and other food groups as a way of displaying what healthy people should be eating every day. Now, MyPlate for Older Adults is providing a powerful tool for senior care that helps the elderly and their caregivers better understand the unique dietary needs of this age group.

According to MyPlate, at least half of older people’s daily diets should consist of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. Nutritionists note that these do not have to be fresh; frozen fruits and vegetables have a nutritional profile equal to that of fresh, and they often are easier to shop for and keep for many senior citizens.

Many believe that elderly individuals should not be wholly vegetarian, though. Proteins such as lean meats and fish, with healthy servings of high-protein dairy products, are also important to get enough iron and calcium.

Finally, MyPlate for Older Adults is unequivocal about salt: if you’re over the age of 65, don’t use it. Instead, they recommend replacing salt with spices and sodium-free sauces.

Caregivers Can Help With Good Nutrition

Good nutrition is critically important to older adults because it can prevent or slow many of the chronic conditions that are common as people age. A diet heavy in fruits and vegetables, for example, can help control diabetes. The calcium in dairy products can prevent osteoporosis. The no-salt rule is a boon to those with high blood pressure.

However, many senior citizens may not cook healthy meals on their own. Depression, lack of appetite, mobility issues, or frailty may make them less likely to stock and prepare food. Fortunately, caregivers can assist in shopping and preparing healthy meals in accordance with MyPlate. If your older loved one wants to age in place, it could make a huge difference in their ongoing health.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Senior Care: Scientists Find Foods that May Slow the Signs of Aging

foods that may stop signs of aging

Back in the day, when your mother told you to eat your broccoli, you might have hidden it in your napkin or fed it to the family dog, but it turns out Mom was right. Of course, vegetables are always a healthy choice, but a new study shows that broccoli and other greens do even more than we thought when it comes to nutrition and longevity in seniors.

While many joke about finding the fountain of youth, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine may have found some evidence that it has been right in front of us all along.

As we get older, many of us deal with the same health issues. In addition to the wrinkles and graying hair, metabolism slows down, causing weight issues to creep up. Almost all older adults wear corrective lenses to correct eyesight, and many suffer from glaucoma or cataracts. Others develop problems with blood sugar levels, which can lead to a number of related health issues.

Researchers think they may have found a substance that helps prevent some of these aging issues. After infusing laboratory mice with a substance found in broccoli, cucumbers, edamame, cabbage, and avocados, they noticed a difference on a cellular level. While the mice continued to age over time, their cells still behaved as if they were younger, when compared to mice that weren’t given the ingredient found in green vegetables.

The common denominator in these foods is a substance called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). The mice who received a regular infusion of this substance showed improvements in metabolism, blood sugar levels, and eyesight. Healthier cells that behave like younger cells may also have the ability to fight off diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s and, in the end, help people to live longer.

The benefits from NMN are not just for seniors though. All generations can boost cell health and stop part of the aging process by finding creative ways to eat more green vegetables. For those who don’t enjoy them or can’t eat them raw, including them in soups and smoothies is a great way to get more broccoli, avocado, cabbage, and edamame into the diet.

Obtaining senior care assistance from a home health aide from a homecare provider like David York Agency can be a great first step toward improving the nutrition of your elderly loved one. Whether you simply need someone to help with grocery shopping and preparing healthy meals, or you need a full-time home healthcare aide, DYA can provide the personalized care your family needs.

For more information about our qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Allow Your Loved Ones to Age in Place with Home Remodeling

Allow Your Loved Ones to Age in Place with Home

There is no shortage of stories about senior citizens who put up resistance to leaving their homes. The emotional attachment, the comfort of a familiar place, and independence – all are arguments older Americans cite when asked why they don’t want to relocate. This is quite understandable, and even when this seems like a favorable option for some family members, it’s not the only one.

According to Rodney Harrell, director of livability thought leadership for AARP, out of 100 million homes across the country only about 1 percent of them are designed and outfitted for elderly people to safely and comfortably live. Fortunately, there are things that could be done to an elderly person’s home that will make staying in it easier for all parties involved – elderproofing.

What is elderproofing?

It’s exactly what it sounds like. Elderproofing is when modifications are made to a home to ensure it meets specific needs of the elderly residents living inside. Modifications can be as easy and quick as adding night lights and changing doorknobs. But, they can be more extensive, such as adding a stair lift for a stairway or renovating an entire bathroom to make it elder-friendly.

Universal Design

Home Matters, AARP, the AARP Foundation, Wells Fargo, the Home Depot Foundation and Dwell magazine sponsored a competition among designers and architects. All of these professionals were asked to create the home of the future. Many of the entries, including the winning one, incorporated a concept called universal design. In a nutshell, this means a home design that incorporates products and elements in such a way that it would be usable by most to all people – not just senior citizens, but for a wide range of ages and physical abilities.

Many of the features found in this type of home are ones that could be completed in a remodel of an older person’s home. Here are some updates for consideration:

  • Low or no threshold doorways
  • Wide doorways
  • Lever types of doorknobs and faucet handles
  • Lower countertops
  • Shower stalls without curbs
  • Open concept floor plan
  • Slip resistant floors
  • More windows
  • Lower placement of light switches

For a more complete list of renovations, check out this checklist found on the National Association of Home Builders website.

While the idea of updating a home can seem cost prohibitive, consider what it would cost to place a senior in an assisted living facility or nursing home. According to this 2011 article from AARP, an assisted living facility can cost around $40,000; a private room in a nursing home will run about $84,000. Both of these estimates are per year costs. While the cost of an update might be just as expensive, it is a one-time expense as opposed to an annual recurring one. If you loved ones are in need of quality healthcare consider finding options that allow your loved ones to stay in their homes.

David York Agency now has a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) credentialed by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) on staff and can help you with elderproofing your home to ensure the safety of an elderly loved one. Call today at 718.376.7755 to discuss your situation and schedule a free consultation.

At David York Agency, we are committed to providing the personalized and dedicated care that people need as they age. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

 

Good Nutrition In The Elderly: Keep It Real, Fresh & Simple

nutrition in the elderly

Woody Allen once quipped, “You can live to be a hundred if you give up all things that make you want to live to be a hundred.”

Eating is sometimes challenging for the elderly — feeding the elderly even more so. Pre-programmed by evolution to prefer soft, sweet, high-energy foods, and trained over years by the food industry to choose them, we’ll opt for a Twinkie over chopped kale every time. Add to that failing taste buds, digestive issues, and deteriorating teeth, and the joy of eating just isn’t what it used to be.

The increasing number of us who suffer from various versions of metabolic disorder — that is, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer — signals that we may have missed some good nutrition class a few years back. If we haven’t managed to give up the foods we love earlier in our lives, how likely are we to give them up now?

Furthermore, so many homes for the elderly offer a bland, tasteless menu laden with white-flour breads and cakes. It’s no wonder waistlines continue to spread and obesity-related disease grows more prevalent as real nutritional content in the diet declines.

Truly good nutrition is the exact opposite of what many elderly individuals want or get. Dr. Joel Fuhrman diagrams that healthy diet concept in his Nutritarian Pyramid and Plate. The idea of the Nutritarian Diet is to get maximum nutrition with minimum calories.

The diet “includes anti-cancer superfoods, which also facilitate weight loss. These foods supply both the right amount of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) and the vital micronutrients (vitamins, phytochemicals, and minerals) that unleash the body’s incredible power to heal itself and slow the aging process, giving the body renewed vitality.”

Dr. Fuhrman’s ANDI Food Scores rate foods according to a simple formula: H=N/C (Health=Nutrition/Calories). Greens appear at the top of the list as providing the greatest nutrient density in the fewest calories, and cola and white bread are, of course, at the bottom. According to Dr. Fuhrman, “The nutrient density in your body’s tissues is proportional to the nutrient density of your diet.”

The plan is simple: 90% of the daily diet comes from nutrient-rich plant foods loaded with health-promoting phytochemicals. These plant foods include green and other non-starchy vegetables; fresh fruits; beans and legumes; raw nuts, seeds, and avocados; starchy vegetables; and whole grains. No calorie counting, no hunger between meals.

But, how can you get your elderly loved one to prioritize these life- and health-giving foods over Twinkies for those sugar cravings?

Now is the time to get creative! Use that evolutionary preference for soft, sweet foods to your advantage. Simple homemade soups and smoothies offer a nutritional wallop, and you don’t even need added sugars to stimulate sluggish appetites. You can rely on fruits and even sweet veggies like carrots in your smoothies.

Consider, for example, green smoothies. Use all light-colored sweet fruits, like pineapple, grapes, apple, peach, and banana. Add a little raw carrot. Add as many mixed greens as you can fit into a high-powered blender, along with some avocado for added richness and creaminess, 8-10 ice cubes, and a bit of light-colored juice or coconut milk or oil to get things underway. You can even add chia, flax, or hemp seeds. Whiz in the blender until smooth, and voila! A nutritious and delicious meal. Maybe you can even get your elderly charge to share a little with you.

Another great way to prepare a simple and simply wonderful meal is with blended soups. Add a little coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil to a pot, chunks of onion and/or peeled fresh ginger root, saute briefly, and add a variety of single veggies to the pot. Veggies that work well for this are tomatoes, zucchini, beets, or sweet potatoes (wash and chunk all, and peel the beets and sweet potatoes). Add water to the pot, depending on the water content of the veggies: none for tomatoes, a little for zucchini, more for beets or sweet potatoes. Puree in the blender and return to the pot for seasoning. Salt and pepper are fine, or you can get fancier with chopped fresh basil or other herbs of your choice. Leftovers of any of the soups boiled down and thickened work as tasty and nutritious sauces for other parts of a meal.

A varied plant-based diet provides plenty of protein, B-vitamins, calcium, loads of fiber, and a healthy dose of antioxidants like CoQ10. Heart-healthy fatty acids and vitamin D are most easily available in animal foods, especially dairy products, although plant-based alternatives like soy milk also provide them. Full-fat yogurt, in particular, aids digestion, supplying important probiotics along with fatty acids.

It’s always a good idea to provide a daily vitamin and mineral capsule as insurance. If swallowing is an issue, just blend it along with those beautiful greens in a smoothie.

And remember: while “middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy,” you can make that fiber fun to eat—soft and sweet!

At David York Agency, we offer a number of home healthcare services to help ensure your elderly loved one gets the care and nutrition they need. Whether you just need someone to come over a few days a week to help prepare healthy meals or you need a full-time home healthcare aide, we can help.

For more information about our qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

7 Benefits of Providing Extra Care for Seniors with CHF

caring for seniors with CHF

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) affects almost 5 million Americans. CHF means the heart is unable to pump effectively to deliver blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the body.

You may be wondering how non-medical care can help a patient with CHF. There are many benefits, but these seven top the list.

1. Early Recognition of Warning Signs

The initial symptoms of CHF often go unnoticed, especially if the primary caregiver doesn’t know what to look for. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to call the doctor immediately.

  • Sudden weight gain (3 pounds or more in 1 or 2 days)
  • Increased swelling in legs or ankles
  • Shortness of breath while at rest
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Dry, hacking cough or wheezing
  • Increased fatigue or feeling unwell all the time
  • Abdominal pain or swelling

2. Assistance Maintaining a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet can help offset the health issues related to CHF. Caregivers can ensure a patient maintains a healthy and complete diet by implementing these tips:

  • Decrease sodium intake, and read food labels for items with less than 350 mg sodium per serving.
  • Cook with less salt.
  • Increase intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Cook with fresh meat, legumes, and eggs, and avoid highly processed foods.
  • Season with herbs, spices, flavored vinegar, and fruit juices.

3. Keeping the Patient Physically Active

Physical activity is another important way to combat CHF. Caregivers should follow these tips to help patients stay physically active, despite their condition:

  • Encourage low to moderate exercise.
  • Perform activities in short intervals, especially if your patient is easily fatigued.
  • Take short walks to get the blood moving.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park at the edges of the parking lot when going to the store.
  • Perform light housework together.

4. Ensuring the Patient is Comfortable

CHF can bring with it some fairly uncomfortable side effects. A caregiver can ensure that the patient stays as comfortable as possible by:

  • Helping them find and wear comfortable clothes and shoes
  • Helping them select and wear support stockings
  • Providing pillows to elevate head, making it easier to breathe

5. Administration of Medications and Supplements

There are many medications and supplements that can help relieve the symptoms of CHF — but only if they’re taken regularly. A caregiver can help ensure they’re being taken at the appropriate time by:

  • Reminding the patient to take their medication on time
  • Establishing a schedule
  • Helping them organize a weekly pillbox
  • Keeping a record of medication intake and any side effects

6. Make the Most of Doctor Visits

Doctor visits are an important time to communicate changes in a patient’s condition and address possible issues. Caregivers can help in these ways:

  • Keeping records and going over them at the doctor appointment
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Providing transportation to and from doctor visits
  • Asking questions and taking notes

7. Daily Record Keeping

The symptoms of CHF can change from day to day, and it’s important to keep careful records to track how the patient’s health looks over the long-term. Consider all of these things:

  • How is the patient breathing?
  • What dedications (names, doses, times, any side effects) are they currently taking?
  • How is their diet and level of activity?
  • Are there any notable or unusual symptoms?

 

If your senior loved one suffers from CHF or other severe heart problems, they may benefit from the added care and expertise of an in-home healthcare provider. There are many advantages of having a knowledgeable caregiver who can ensure a patient’s health and safety, as well as their medical requirements, are kept in mind at all times.

At David York Agency, we offer home healthcare services from highly trained and vetted professionals you can trust. From home health aides to RN’s and LPNs, DYA can provide your family with a level of in-home healthcare that meets your needs.

For more information about our qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

 

Caring for the Caregiver by: Anita Kamiel, R.N., M.P.S.

older-americans-month1

Mother’s Day approaching and May being Older Americans month, I started thinking about caregivers at the beginning and at the end of life, for those young and old. People most often associate caregiving with the harried young mother who has no time to shower or get dressed as she feeds, bathes and runs after little ones. However, those who care for seniors are often just as stressed, pressed for time and tied to their charges.

Caring for aging loved ones was never an easy prospect. However, up until now, caregiver stress was not much of an issue. Families lived in multi-generational households and together they shared the burden of their sick and elderly. Today, families are scattered and the responsibility for care usually falls on the spouse to shoulder almost alone. But, the spouse usually has their own physical problems of decreased mobility and strength as well as pain discomfort. Paying for outside help can be quite expensive and unless proper planning took place years before, funds are often not available for full time relief. It’s clear that these caregivers need help.

Caregiving is exhausting business. Seniors needing care often have complex health problems warranting total care. Though it may a labor of love, there is the routine activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, grooming, dressing and feeding. Days may be centered around the need to properly nourish, ambulate and stimulate the patient. Those are all physically demanding activities that become even more so if the patient has dementia or a personality shift due to a disease such as Alzheimer’s.

Caregiver burnout is all too common. There is juggling the errands such as grocery shopping, pharmacy trips and laundry – all must haves. Except, seniors needing care are not as portable as infants, making the situation more stressful and coverage even more crucial. No matter how well intentioned the caregiver, a difficult situation may spark feelings of fear, resentment and frustration and, if left to fester, can easily turn into full blown depression.

Caregivers are often confined and isolated with no one on hand to ask questions to; day-to-day decision making can become burdensome. In a facility, the staff have each other. At home, there is only the caregiver and patient with short interludes of other family members, doctors and allied health professionals. Furthermore, the social support system for caregivers shrinks due to their responsibilities which in turn can contribute to a budding depression.

Almost as much of a problem is the tendency of caregivers to push their own health under the rug. They are notorious for skipping their own doctor appointments and ignoring their own aches and pains hoping they just disappear. Denial might make the short term easier, but may be detrimental in the long run preventing them from seeking appropriate care and properly plan. In fact, there is a higher incidence of health issues associated with caregivers than non-caregivers probably due to a combination of stress, age and a certain degree of self-neglect. All too often, caregivers reach damaging and unhealthy levels of stress before they come to the point of reaching out for help and support.

The same dangers of fatigue apply to hired home health aides as they too are vulnerable to stress and isolation. Additionally, since they are often from entirely different cultures, varying priorities and expectations on the part of the patient, their family and caregiver may cause tension. Even the most caring aide can transfer this back to the senior or even his family which is why it is important for the aide to work no more than 5 days a week on one case and for the family to have relief aides on hand.

This leads me to my next point, relief for family members. It is so important to care for the caregiver. Family and friends need to be offer practical support and watch for signs of caregiver stress. Here are some suggestions:

1. Help with meals once a week or once a month. Even frozen food can be a help in a pinch.

2. Run an errand sporadically or on a regular basis. Do the trip to the drug store or the like.

3. ‘Senior-sit’ even one hour a week so the caregiver can get to the gym or a weekly class they enjoy.

4. If you can afford it, pay for a cleaning service once in a while to pinch hit.

5. Last, but not least, make a regular visit or just phone to show you care.

By the same token, caregivers must take steps to prevent any negative effects from their truly admirable work. Caregivers must seek the help of a friend, support groups or a physician, before their struggles become severe. Here are some steps to take:

1. Keep in contact with friends, neighbors or relatives. Though they feel pressed, they need to maintain their ‘social contract’ with friends. Keeping active socially reduces stress and provides an outlet for the rollercoaster of emotions that come with caregiving.

2. Seek out a support group. Many of the various associations that deal with diseases endemic to the elderly have regular, often local, support group meetings, even online.

3. Get active. Ride a bike. Go for a run. Put in an exercise video. Keep the blood circulating and the mind sharp.

4. Carve out ‘alone time’, even in the corner of the house, to read a book or watch a movie in peace. Some people find journaling daily thoughts and activities helps relieve stress.

5. Seek help immediately if depression is suspected. Talk therapy with a social worker or psychologist can help work through the unique challenges felt by caregivers. Remember, care must be taken to avoid what has become all too common – prescription drug abuse.

6. Keep your own nutrition up. That is the best way to maintain your health and energy level. You are a priority too!

Caregiving is praiseworthy, but lonely and challenging business – not for the faint of heart. However, if you make efforts to protect yourself while reaching out for help at the appropriate times, you will emerge healthy and fulfilled. Let me know if I can help!

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Anita Kamiel, RN, MPS, is the founder and owner of David York Home Healthcare Agency, licensed by the State of New York. She holds a master’s degree in gerontological administration and is fully acquainted with all factors related to eldercare services and the latest guidelines for seniors. Thirty years ago, she realized the need for affordable, quality home health aide services provided and supervised by caring individuals. You can contact her at 718-376-7755 or at www.davidyorkagency.com. David York Agency is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.