5 Ways Dementia Caregivers Can Defeat Exhaustion

Many of us saw our parents as superheroes during our childhoods. They were there when we needed them. They kissed away our cuts and scrapes, destroyed scary shadows, and fought the boogie man. We never imagined anything could defeat them. Then we grew up, and our parents got older. Now, it’s time for us to be the superheroes. The enemy, however, is strong. Dementia is a terrible test of our resilience, and exhaustion is a very real challenge. In this article, we discuss 5 ways to give dementia caregivers a helping hand.

senior woman, 62 years old, dressed as superhero - caregiver concept

We Put on the Superhero Cape

We caregivers have our own lives to live. Our homes need cleaning, our spouses and children need our attention, and our careers have their own demands. Despite our resolve, we still get tired at the end of the day.

Super Tips to Try

At David York Agency, we understand your concerns. Below, we share some of our favorite tips for dementia caregivers.

  • Get plenty of rest. If you’re not rested, then you won’t have the energy to handle all the demands of caregiving. It’s equally important for you to recognize the specific signs of burnout. When you feel overwhelmed, depressed, or fatigued, ask for help. Take a day off and relax. Spend time with a friend or participate in your favorite hobby to unwind.
  • Eat a balanced and nutritious diet. Dollar Menu cheeseburgers and French fries may be tempting when you’re rushed or tired, but these foods often leave you feeling sluggish. In the long run, your health will suffer.
  • Have fun with your loved oneLaugh! Make the day enjoyable for your loved one as well as yourself. For example, if your senior loves to bake, make favorite recipes together. Keep the conversation light while you work.
  • Help them to develop a pleasant routine. Everyone has preferences. Learn when your senior likes to perform daily activities and make the necessary accommodations. Stick to the routine as much as possible, and make allowances for difficult days.
  • Set alarms on their cell phone. Many seniors don’t like relying on someone else to tell them what to do and when to do it. So, be sure to put descriptive labels on each alarm. If you or your senior need help with technology, David York Agency has qualified staff who can help.

The best caregivers are always learning. Try the wonderful resources at the Alzheimer’s Association website. Also, be sure to talk to your doctor for information specific to your situation.

Superheroes Need Some Sidekicks!

Dementia caregivers need not fight alone, for David York Agency is here to help. Our qualified staff of professional RN’s, LPN’s, and Personal Care Aides (PCA) are ready to provide assistance.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 877.216.7676. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

For more helpful tips and information, contact us today.

Caregiver Stress: Fighting Severe Consequences

Caregivers Have Their Limits

Many caregivers who experience caregiver stress try to keep going despite emotional and physical fatigue. They often put their patients before themselves, allowing their stress to grow and manifest in poor health.

caregiver holding senior patient's hands and comforting her. experiencing caregiver stress

It’s important to note that this avoidance is not necessarily sustainable. While the selflessness of caregivers is commendable, their dismissal of self-care could lead to severe consequences.

Driven to Care

There are some caregivers who feel personally driven by their work and believe they can handle the stress. They are typically very compassionate individuals who live by helping others. They might hope that their empathy for others is enough to push them to do nearly anything.

However, being in this state will eventually take a toll on both physical and emotional health. It’s estimated that one-third of caregivers will put others first, even while struggling with personal health problems.

Caregiver Stress can Lead to Self-Destructive Behavior

Stressed caregivers are more likely to develop problems with substance abuse and alcoholism. These are health issues in their own right, but they can also lead to additional health problems.

Caregivers will often run errands for others, a task that might be impossible or actively dangerous if they’re suffering from drug problems themselves.

It’s also true that caregivers are more likely to commit suicide than workers in other fields. Caregivers are ill-equipped to diagnose or manage their own stress and unprepared to combat escalating mental health issues.

Mounting pressures, avoidance, and relying on the help of pills are all ways which could lead a good caregiver down a path of self-destruction.

Refusing to Ignore Problems

Caregivers don’t ignore the problems their patients’ experience, so why should they ignore there own? They should seek treatment for the real problems that have presented themselves while trying to address the underlying problem of caregiver stress.

David York Agency Can Help…..

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 877.216.7676. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

For more helpful tips and information, contact us today.

Caregiver Stress Needs to Be Taken Seriously

Caregiver Stress Needs Serious Attention

Caregiver Stress is Real

Caregivers experience stress just as frequently as anyone else. Unfortunately, they are often dismiss it. It’s assumed that caregiver stress is an expectation that comes with the job. People feel that the stress should be tolerated, like learning to cope with long, boring commutes.

Caregiver Stress Has Medical Consequences

In fact, caregiver stress can cause demonstrable medical problems. Those who take on the responsibility of caring for aging or ailing individuals need to stay healthy themselves. They should not fall into the trap of denial. Just because they’re helping others does not mean they won’t need help themselves. Round-the-clock care can lead to running on lack of sleep or lack of food – both causes of declining health. Caregivers do not receive the amount of healthcare monitoring they themselves deliver, so self-care is exceedingly important.

Patients Can Suffer As a Result of Caregiver Stress

When caregivers deny their own health needs, it isn’t just negative for them. According to some recent research from UC Berkeley, patients suffering from dementia will have a shorter life expectancy if their caregivers experience persistent untreated anxiety or depression.

As many as 40 percent of dementia caregivers suffer from depression. Though the problem is widespread, it is rarely discussed. Those who experience caregiver stress should not feel as if the problem is unusual or that it reflects poorly on them as people. The job is fraught with emotional and physical realities that are often sad. These sad realities naturally lead to stress often culminating in depression. This occupational hazard is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Working Through Caregiver Stress

There are many resources available for caregiver stress, including groups that provide social support and therapists who specialize in helping people cope with caregiver stress. Of course, many people will be able to overcome caregiver stress if they reach out to others in order to get some help with their responsibilities.

Home health aides can work with caregivers in order to provide the best possible standards of assistance for the patients. Being a caregiver is difficult, and getting more support can make all the difference in the world.

An Additional David York Agency Service

David York Home Healthcare can refer you to an agency to help you work through the caregiver stress and feelings of depression you may be experiencing. We can also recommend services that target depression in the elderly, should your loved one be experiencing mental health problems. Please contact us for more information on caregiver stress and related issues.

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

Eldercare Conversation With A Resistant Senior by Anita Kamiel, R.N., M.P.S.

couple having serious talking in home interior

Awkward Discussion

We talk a lot about how important it is to have those serious end-of-life discussions with your elderly loved ones as they enter their golden years. It’s so important to hash out their preferences for care while they are still fully cognizant, before any decline in mental capacity. We also know that under the best of circumstances this can be awkward and, when emotions kick in, even painful to the family to face these issues head-on.

Lack of Cooperation

All this can feel downright impossible if the senior is not cooperative. This intractability can be the result of their age accompanied by lessened patience, a personality shift due to an underlying disease condition, or it may just be an extension of a lifelong contrariness.

While we usually dismiss their resistance as “a phase,” we must understand that the elderly have much to lose. Their diminished physical capacity leaves them vulnerable to many losses, especially the loss of their independence as the captains of their fate. They fear these conversations may mean yielding their housing, financial, and day-to-day decisions to third parties they don’t necessarily fully trust or respect. Understandably, they don’t want to deal with that. This is only exacerbated when relationships with potential caregivers have been rocky in the past.

How to Start

So, how do we get the critical conversation going? How do we get recalcitrant seniors to engage? Each case is unique. I don’t pretend that my suggestions will work in every case. These are just pointers I have picked up from years of studying and dealing with the elderly.

First and foremost, I always find it best to approach the elderly with the respect they deserve. They need to know their opinions matter the most here. You must make it perfectly clear that they have a voice and your desire is to comply with their wishes. I cannot stress how crucial real and deep listening is in this situation.

Threats and scare tactics are unduly harsh and totally counterproductive. See your role as one of facilitator with agenda questions. You should be hearing their voice much more than your own.

Ask how they would like you to handle any hospital stay and follow-up care. What kind of insurance do they have in place to cover all this? The David York Agency website has an excellent checklist on our resources page that can be used as a guide for end-of-life planning.

Gently broach the subject of what they would like you to do if they are suddenly ill. I would back away immediately if there is any resistance. It may take a few tries to get through this conversation, but that is OK. These get them to start thinking. The failed attempts are warmups to the successful one.

Perhaps A Family Meeting

In certain cases, you might want or need a family meeting with the senior included. On the other hand, you may not want to make a “federal case” out of the whole thing by calling a potentially intimidating meeting. If you call a meeting, make sure not to muddy the process by holding it during a holiday. Holiday time doesn’t lend itself to the focus required to get this task done and may just end up ruining everyone’s celebration.

Perhaps a Facilitator

In some instances, a third-party facilitator such as a geriatric care manager or another geriatric professional might be quite useful. This is true whether you have solid family relationships or not. These neutral advisers help to keep fears and emotions in check, everyone on track, and the atmosphere non-threatening.

Trust Is Key

These conversations must be predicated on trust and there is no place for any ill will. Be fair and evenhanded. You will gain a lot more trust if you are honest about the pros and cons of every type of available care and residence option. People are much less likely to get defensive if they feel you are not trying to manipulate them.

It may take some time to build that trust—even months—which is why planning is so important here. However, I realize that in many situations time is of the essence, so if you missed out on this lead time, you can still make it up in the end game.

Emotional stroking can help a resistant senior be coaxed into engaging. Remind them how much you love them. Moreover, tell them how caring for them would be your pleasure as compensation for all they have done for you all these years.

Be Patient & Listen

You need to be patient. The world they mastered as they grew from scared child to adult can seem like a scary place again. Emphasize how you are not going to abandon them and will be there for them always.

Again—really listen! Repeat their wishes aloud for clarity and so they can confirm what you said. It will calm seniors to know you understand them. Also, it will build the bridge to ease subsequent conversations that may be necessary.

I suggest ending with a big group hug. It wipes away any mistakes made during the discussion—and even in years past. Let me know if I can help!


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.

4 Ways to Cope with Caregiver Stress


Even if you only provide care for a loved one on a part-time basis, you know that the undertaking can be stressful. Strategies for coping with caregiver stress early on are essential. You need to find time to rest and nurture yourself or you may find yourself facing both emotional and physical side effects of long-term stress. Not only are you facing the stress of providing physical care, but you are also dealing with a type of loss of the loved one you knew in the past who has now become dependent.

Here are some ways to cope with the changes caregiving may throw at you.

  1. Take Time for Yourself First.

When you are on an airplane, the flight attendant will tell you to put on your own oxygen mask in case of an emergency, before you assist anybody else. This is because you cannot help others unless you have helped yourself first. Eat healthy meals, get enough sleep, and treat yourself to a fun evening every once in awhile.

  1. Communicate While Building a Support System.

Never be ashamed to ask for help. If brothers, sisters, parents, and other loved ones do not know that you need help, they cannot offer it. You may just need to vent to somebody who cares. Perhaps it would help you to have somebody come over and cook dinner once or twice a week. Let people know what you need.

  1. Seek Mental Health Care for Yourself.

The power of weekly or bi-weekly therapy becomes quickly apparent when you begin regular sessions. Therapists and psychiatrists are often well-versed in stress management techniques. There are professionals who specialize in this area. If you yourself are an elderly caregiver, make sure to find an appropriate therapist that is fully acquainted with that situation and that you can relate to.

  1. Hire a Home Health Aide.

In her book, To Survive Caregiving: A Daughter’s Experience, A Doctor’s Advice, Dr. Cheryl Woodson describes her own experiences with caregiver stress. One of her biggest pieces of advice is not to forget that you have needs. You cannot be Superman and do it all, and there is no shame in hiring help when you need it. Professional home health aides can provide excellent, compassionate care for your loved ones.

Caregiving can be burdensome when you are stressed out and struggling to balance that role with your life. But, when you are refreshed and taking care of yourself, it can be a wonderful way to bond with your loved one. For more ideas on how to care for yourself or your caregiving friend, contact us.

At the David York Agency, we are dedicated to providing the resources, advice, and high-quality home healthcare services that can make caregiving more manageable. For more information on 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. Our aim is to provide you and your loved one and the support you need to manage.

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

Quickest Way to the Heart Is Through the…Nose?

aromas and the brain

The scent of chimney smoke on an autumn night, a pot roast on the stove, Sunday gravy, fresh-mown grass, baking bread. By reading these words and recalling these smells, we experience the powerful connection between aromas and the brain. Chances are the mere act of reading about these familiar smells evoked memories and emotions.

Smell Connected to Brain

This isn’t poetry, it’s biology. Our sense of smell is connected to the limbic system, the oldest part of our brain. Eons ago, our sense of smell was key for knowing when it was time to eat, to sleep, to run, to fight, and even to reproduce. Over time, the human brain has become more sophisticated, adding complex reasoning and language abilities. Nevertheless, our sense of smell can still bypass this more modern brain and evoke a physical response, long before we have “thought” our way there.

Using Aromas In Caregiving

The power of smell can be very valuable in caregiving situations. Often, when working with individuals who are anxious, have cognitive challenges, or are struggling with disorientation, the strategic use of smell can trigger memories of safety and comfort.

The web site Senior Care Corner encourages caregivers to experiment with scent when working with clients:

”Aromas, familiar scents and the smell of familiar food cooking can bring back memories; both good and bad, for our senior loved ones. Being able to capitalize on these familiar aromas may be able to help family caregivers keep the mood upbeat and the day calm.”

Aroma is a powerful tool for evoking feelings of calm, comfort and ease. The beauty of this approach is that it engages the individuals in our care in a personal and meaningful way. You can begin by asking a few simple questions like, “Where did you grow up?” or “What was the favorite thing you ate as a child?” or “What did you love cooking for your family?” Your sleuthing will provide clues about the kinds of smells that will be calming and comforting.

Non-Food Aromas

And, scent does not always have to come from food. Caregivers can experiment in many different ways. Open the windows on a spring day, bring in a handful of pine needles in winter, or experiment with aromatherapy oils like lavender or citrus.


At David York Agency, we are always on the lookout and dedicated to understanding and implementing the best and most effective techniques in home healthcare. If you are in need of full or part-time in-home care services, we can help.

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