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.

Preparing To Age In Place

Many seniors prefer to age in place during their retirement years. As such, it’s important to prepare for this eventuality. According to an AARP survey, 87% of people 65 years and older prefer to stay in their current homes. So, if your loved one is on the cusp of her twilight years, take time to begin a conversation about aging in place. At David York, we understand that accepting sudden changes can be difficult. However, putting a plan in place now serves to empower your loved one, protecting his dignity, security, and peace of mind. Below are some tips to help a loved one prepare to age in place confidently.

Smiling senior man with cup of coffee talking to female caregiver sitting in front at care home. Aging in Place

Don’t Wait To Discuss Driving Privileges

Seniors consider this a touchy subject. Many bristle at the prospect of giving up the car keys. Undoubtedly, driving is equated with independence, and the feeling of freedom is greatly treasured. So, it’s important to communicate compassionately with your loved one. Express your concerns gently, and see if you can establish alternative means of getting to doctors’ appointments and performing the necessary activities of daily living (ADL).

Make Home Safety A Top Priority

Even if your loved one is feeling great, encourage her to set up a plan with her doctor for maintaining long-term safety at home. Discuss the possibility of home modifications to address mobility challenges, and take steps to help her establish a strong social support network.

It’s Possible To Age In Place And Stay Healthy

It’s important to begin a discussion about physical needs now, even if your loved one is in relatively good health. Have your family member talk with her doctor about dietary needs, personal habits, and exercise plans. In particular, discuss the possibility of rehab care or in-home assistance in the event of an illness or unexpected injury.

Help Your Loved One Maintain Good Mental Health 

It’s difficult to talk about mental health. Many seniors fear admitting any weakness in this area. However, beginning the discussion now can be a helpful experience. So, encourage your senior to share his ideas. Listen to what he has to say, and assure him that mental challenges need not define his identity. Next, try to get him involved in activities that protect his mental health. Suggest social events with friends, adult education classes, or weekly exercise regimes.

With a plan to age in place, seniors can be confident that their needs will be taken care of.

At David York, we understand the importance of securing your loved one’s future. 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 your family needs. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Simple Tips for Healthy Dementia Care

Healthy Dementia Care Strategies

Dementia is a difficult condition to live with, but it also affects caregivers. Caring for patients with dementia leaves many caregivers overwhelmed and exhausted. Hard to understand and often invisible to the eye, dementia makes it hard to determine whether care is effective. But, if you practice healthy dementia care, you can reduce or overcome the intrinsic challenges and provide necessary care to the patient.

Senior woman with her home caregiver. Healthy Dementia Care concept

Use Smart Communication

Communicating with dementia patients requires simple, straightforward methods. Use easy-to-understand words and suggestions, and don’t overload your loved one with a string of questions or commands. Give them time to process your words so they don’t become overwhelmed or agitated. Simple yes or no questions or one-step directions are far more helpful than complex queries or multiple-step demands.

 

Play Music

Music has a profound effect on many people with dementia, particularly if that music is familiar. Music can soothe agitation, improve mood, and reduce stress. Even people with advanced Alzheimer’s have responded to music therapy when nothing else has worked, indicating that musical memories outlast other kinds of memories.

 

Practice Self-Care

Although people with dementia are not deliberately trying to test your patience, they often end up doing so. Caring for a person with dementia requires patience, compassion, and energy. Therefore, those who care for people with dementia must take the time and effort to preserve their own health.

It’s easy to let regular exercise and proper nutrition slide, but maintaining these habits is vital. The healthier the caregiver, the healthier the patient. People with dementia need a reliable, healthy person to depend on, so don’t forget to take care of yourself.

 

Understand Aggression

Dementia can often drive sufferers to respond aggressively. Unfortunately, this aggression is often directed at those who are trying to help. In these moments, it’s important not to take the person’s anger personally. Remember, though you can’t see it, the patient is in pain. Aggression is often a result of physical discomfort, confusion, poor communication, time of day, and environmental factors.

Never respond in kind and do not ignore the aggressive behavior. Instead, try to determine the cause of the aggression. Is the person in physical discomfort? Does the aggression always happen at a certain time of day or within a certain environment? If so, is there a way to relieve pain and discomfort, alter the environment, or plan ahead by scheduling naps or eating patterns to reduce sundowning?

 

Get Help from Professional Caregivers

Caring for a person with dementia is challenging, but it does not need to be overwhelming. Keeping a few of the above tips in mind can help you face the task with confidence and help you provide the support, and the quality care your loved one needs. If you find you still have questions or would prefer to work with a professional caregiver, David York Agency is here to help.

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. 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.

Ride-Sharing For Seniors: Motivator For Technology Adoption

One of the sad facts of aging is that people lose the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. This is largely due to deteriorating vision along with other health-related issues. Telling an aging loved one that he or she can no longer drive can be painful for all concerned (see our previous post Don’t Take Away My Car Keys, Yet!). Though it is a matter of safety it is also a matter of freedom. But ride-sharing for seniors offers freedom and safety at the touch of a button.

An elderly woman is smiling as she enters through the front passenger door of a car. Uber ride-sharing for seniors concept

Ride-Sharing For Seniors

The loss of mobility has been an unavoidable part of aging since the dawn of the automobile. Until recently, many elderly people depended on rides from friends, relatives 0r other community organizations (see our previous post No More Car for Dad or Mom, Now What?). However, technology is changing this old expectation. Ride-sharing services are now available in many communities, offering a cheap, easy, and reliable option for local travel. Offered by companies such as Uber and Lyft, ride-sharing is a convenient way for seniors to get around.

Ride-sharing for seniors ensures that your loved ones are not completely homebound or dependent upon others for rides. This option can also help lessen the blow of having to take away your loved one’s car keys. Thanks to ride-sharing services, the elderly no longer have to endure the loss of mobility that comes with age.

 

Teaching the Technology

Teaching your loved ones to use ride-sharing apps may be a necessary step to ensure their independence. Luckily, these applications they are simple enough for anyone to pick up with a few lessons. Also, they have the added benefit of concretely introducing technology to seniors and act as motivators for their adoption. Both libraries and senior centers offer technology classes to seniors, providing an excellent resource in this area. Additionally, home healthcare workers can help guide seniors through the ins and outs of the technology. With a little time and patience, you can get your elderly parent on the road in safety.

 

David York Can Help

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, please contact us at 718.376.7755. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Eldercare Planning: Your Parents & Home Healthcare

Many adult children start to worry about their aging parents. They see them struggling as they get on in years and believe they would be better off with help. Eldercare planning is a difficult subject to broach (especially with seniors who are resistant to such discussions see our post on the subject), but it’s also a necessary conversation for seniors who are experiencing a decline in health or finding it hard to care for themselves.

 

Eldercare Planning for Parents

Approaching Eldercare Planning with Your Parents

Conversations about diminished capacity can be very difficult to have with your parents. They may get offended that you are worried about them and they may have no interest in hearing your viewpoint. It can be frustrating for you to make your concerns clear. However, it doesn’t have to be that way!

Here are some tips to help you through this discussion.

  • Choose the right time. Don’t think that you are going to talk to your parents when you both have five minutes. This conversation cannot be rushed. Instead, find some time that you are all free to sit down and talk.
  • If possible, include all of the children. It can be helpful if all of the children are on the same page. Otherwise, it might look like you are ganging up on your parents.
  • Be prepared with the options. It is important that you are ready to have the talk. Write down the different options that are available to your parents. Prepare a list of pros and cons, as well as the costs associated with each of them.
  • If it gets heated, take a break. The conversation may get heated, and it may be better to take a break before things get said that can’t be taken back. Leave the list of options, pros, and cons, and plan on coming back in a day or two (after your parents have had time to think).

Difficult Now, Helpful When Necessary

Talking to your aging parents about getting help can be quite difficult. However, if you find the right time and come prepared, it is more likely to go well. If not, take a break and revisit the issue once everyone has settled down. David York Agency has a Checklist and Workbook to help guide you through the discussion. Please check them out on our website.

Remember, though this discussion is difficult now, it could lead to a better future for your parents. Decide on small changes that can be implemented now and others that will be helpful down the road.

 

If eldercare planning is a concern for you and your loved ones, please consider the David York Agency. Our qualified, compassionate caregivers are ready to help. Contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones 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.

Managing Long-Distance Caregiving

If you live an hour or more away from a parent or relative who relies on you for some form of care, you are considered a long-distance caregiver. Managing long-distance caregiving is no easy task.  It is stressful and time-consuming and difficult to accomplish without additional help. Being far from your loved one when they need assistance can be draining and, as this role-reversal presents itself, you are thrust into a realm of new responsibilities.

There is no one right method to approach your new role. Every situation is different. But the task of managing long-distance caregiving doesn’t have to be daunting with these helpful tips.

managing long-distance caregiving

How will I know help is needed?

Regrettably, if your parents need care, they probably won’t tell you when they need help. The last thing they want is to become a burden to their children. Typically, a person will experience a health crisis or a “wake-up call,” triggering the awareness that they need assistance. Barring a sudden health event, difficulties and changes in performing ADLs (activities of daily living) will be a telltale sign that help is needed. Routine ADLs include:

  • Bathing and showering
  • Personal hygiene and grooming
  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Transferring (for example, moving from a chair to the bed)
  • Self-feeding

 

What is my role?

As a long-distance caregiver, you will play the role of information gatherer as well as coordinator of assistance.

As the information gatherer, you can use websites and other resources to locate local community services that specialize in care for older persons or the disabled. You will also gather relevant data pertaining to your loved one. This information will be your go-to resource in the event of an emergency. David York Agency provides an excellent resource in the form of our Essential Documents and Emergency Information Workbook.

As the coordinator of assistance, you will make arrangements for care as well as set appointments. Consult with your loved one to determine their needs in the following areas:

  • Meal delivery
  • In-home care
  • Medical devices
  • Transportation
  • Help with Medicare/Medicaid claims
  • Support groups
  • Telephone check-ins
  • Financial Assistance

 

Additionally, David York Agency publishes a handy Essential Documents and Emergency Information Checklist to make your new role more manageable. This checklist provides a place to record pertinent information that will help you determine what your loved one can and can’t do. The AARP also offers a Caregiver’s Checklist that may be of use as well.

 

Evolving Care

It is never too early to start thinking about the future needs of your loved ones and how you will handle the evolving nature of your caregiving journey. Once you have completed the caregiver’s checklist and determined the wishes and needs of your loved ones, it will be time to speak to professionals in the caregiving industry. Check references and do whatever you can to make things as straightforward as possible for the caregiver. In-home caregivers help with a variety of household and personal tasks and will be in a good position to update you on day-to-day progress.

Remember that you are not alone.  An estimated 43.5 million Americans provide care, advocacy, and healthcare navigation for a relative or friend 50+ years or older.

 

For more information about David York Agency‘s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Determine What Type of In-Home Healthcare is Right for You

Determine What Type of In-Home Healthcare is Right for YouIf you are responsible for caring for an elderly loved one, you probably could use some help to lighten the load. But without experience in the medical industry, it’s hard to know what level of caregiver you need? In-home healthcare needs can be easily met with a little bit of research and the help of an experienced homecare professional.

Here is an easy-to-understand summary in-home healthcare roles that will help you determine your needs.

  1. A Personal Care Aide (PCA)

    provides general support but does not address any medical needs. They often assist with daily chores, bathing, preparing meals, cleaning, or just being a companion to someone who needs a friendly face to come visit on a regular basis.

  2. A Home Health Aide (HHA)

    is the next level up, and can do all of the above, and more. They take care of extra tasks like checking vital signs, or changing medical dressings. Home Health Aides have training and certification.

  3. A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

    has a higher level of education and provides basic medical and nursing care. They check blood pressure as well as insert catheters. An LPN also ensures the comfort of patients by assisting them to bathe or dress. They discuss health care issues, and report the status of patients to registered nurses and doctors.

  4. A Registered Nurse (RN)

    is the highest level of medical professionals typically available for home care.  They usually oversee the treatment plan and administration of medication. An RN can keep an eye on medical test results and handle most of the higher-level medical needs of a patient.

While the terms can be confusing, an experienced agency can work with you to determine your needs. With a consultation, an expert in patient services can ask questions and get to know your situation so the right recommendation is made for both the patient and the family members in need of support. Questions such as procedures, fees, and insurance payments are also covered during this initial discussion.

If you have a loved one in the New York City area who is in need of in-home nursing care, contact us. We can help determine the best course of action and provide any of the above support staff to help your loved one age in place.

 

Ageism in Medicine: Lack of Geriatric Specialists Creates Medical Ageism

The number of geriatric medical health caregivers is not keeping pace with the increasing number of older Americans. In addition, there is a lack of adequate training in the field of geriatric medicine as well as an insufficient amount of hands-on clinical experience. While physicians may have experience dealing with senior patients in their practice, they don’t have the same broad base of knowledge specific to the elderly as physicians who specialize in geriatric medicine. Unfortunately, this all adds up to a lack of geriatric specialists and ageism in senior medicine.

 

Lack of geriatric specialists

Focusing on Geriatric Problems

According to the AARP, specialists in fields such as oncology, urology, and neurology focus on these specific fields, but neglect to study the particulars of accumulated diseases in the elderly. Seniors accumulate medical issues over a lifetime, and these problems require a different medical approach. Geriatric healthcare professionals also understand the necessity of high-level compassion and communication when handling older patients. As it stands, doctors often discuss their senior patients’ prognosis or treatment with family members, bypassing the patient altogether. This creates a feeling of invisibility and lack of respect.

Geriatric Specializations: The Facts

Research conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shows that most existing medical training does not cover the scope of the special needs and diverse conditions of older patients. In addition, medical students are not choosing geriatrics as a specialty. The following data demonstrates this problem:

  • fewer than 8,000 physicians are certified in geriatrics
  • less than 1 percent of pharmacists have geriatric certification
  • less than 1 percent of registered nurses specialize in geriatrics
  • fewer than 2,000 doctors specialize in geriatric psychiatry

Changing the System

Geriatric specializations need to be taken more seriously. First, there need to be more programs that offer this specialty. Next, – what with the rising population of elderly patients –  it should be made a more established path into medicine. We must see geriatric focus in healthcare programs for primary care doctors and offered as a specialty by more educational facilities. Above all, medical institutions should make geriatric medicine more attractive to those choosing a specialty.

Seniors benefit in many ways from seeing geriatric specialists; not only is their overall healthcare and quality of life better, but they are hospitalized less often and can lead more independent lives. This, in turn, lowers overall medical costs and creates a healthier generation of Americans. Ageism in medicine is an unfortunate reality. However, the right information can lead to improvement.

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When you need home healthcare for a senior in your family, contact us. Our licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered nurses (RN), certified personal care aides (PCA) and certified home health aides (HHA) are ready to help. We employ professionals trained in the care and needs of geriatric patients. Let us can help your loved one live a more independent, fulfilled life.

5 Qualities That Separate the “Best from the Rest” in the Eldercare Service Industry

 

qualities eldercare industryCaregivers who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty possess the traits that most people might expect. They demonstrate patience, compassion, and responsibility on a daily basis. However, they also possess five lesser-known caregiver qualities that are instrumental to their success in eldercare. These qualities include stamina, vibrancy, tolerance, strength, and composure.

Stamina: The Key to Enduring Support

Providing eldercare service requires a person to be supportive every minute of the day. Being in constant support mode is physically and emotionally draining. The most skilled caregivers possess a high degree of stamina.

Vibrancy: Inspiring Happiness and Optimism in Others

Effective caregivers exhibit vibrancy throughout each day. They display energy, passion and excitement even when they are in the midst of a bleak situation. By exhibiting vibrancy, caregivers can inspire senior citizens to find happiness and optimism in their own lives.

Tolerance: Combining Patience and Empathy on a Daily Basis

The most effective caregivers have higher-than-average tolerance levels for just about everything that comes their way. From their ability to look past a childish remark to their efforts to try to understand how the people for whom they are caring may feel, the best caregivers will react only after assessing the full situation, and generally will let many things roll of their shoulders.

Strength: An Illustration of Physical and Mental Fortitude

Sometimes it is easier to maintain physical strength than it is to display mental fortitude. The best caregivers display both physical and mental strength on the job. They are just as adept at handling an emotionally draining situation as they are helping to lift a person for whom they are caring.

Composure: Helping to Instill Serenity in Senior Citizens

When people enter the later chapters of their lives, they are often comforted by serenity. When caregivers effectively maintain their composure in the face of a difficult situation, they help instill a sense of serenity in the senior citizens for whom they care.

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 they need.

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

 

 

A Toolkit for Promoting Positive Behavior in Dementia Patients

Toolkit for dealing with dementia

High Risk of Institutionalization

About 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s Disease and 90% of those are abusive.  This is important because this situation puts these patients at higher risk for institutionalization, greater functional decline, and domestic abuse.  Up to this point, the preferred method for managing the Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) has been to prescribe medication to control it.  However, this adds to the already hefty arsenal of drugs currently taken by most senior citizens. Obviously, we should not enter into this lightly since they are often accompanied by significant and dangerous side effects.  Clearly, we need better mechanisms for handling these dementia patients.

Toolkit with Best Practices

An article in January/February 2014 issue of Geriatric Nursing entitled “Promoting Positive Behavioral Health:  A Non-Pharmacological Toolkit for Senior Living Communities” unearths a great find:  a toolkit which was peer reviewed and endorsed by experts and designed to centralize the most up to date best practices for handling these challenging situations.  A team of clinicians assembled data on how to deal with BPSD. They went beyond the parameters of the antipsychotic medications normally prescribed.

The goal is for these methods to be the first course of action in treating dementia.  The toolkit can be accessed at http://www.nursinghometoolkit.com/ and you can navigate through the tabs on top and get to an area of interest.  Searching through the site will yield a plethora of information including non-pharmacological approaches to dealing with dementia.

A helpful graph of approaches can be found in a document entitled “Review of Non-pharmacological Approaches for Treating Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia“.

Additional Approaches

This effort meshes with a program which began in March 2012 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the “Initiative to Improve Behavioral Health and Reduce Antipsychotic Use in Nursing Homes” where it partnered with associations such as the American Medical Directors Association (AMDA)  for a comprehensive approach for limiting the use of dementia controlling medications in this population as part of their overall “Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes”. Please click on these links to explore their work.

As with everything, we need to be advocates for our loved ones. Take time to investigate the latest best practices for dementia patients. This can yield a better quality of life for both the dementia patients. Consequently, those around them will benefit as well. We owe it to our seniors and their loved ones/caregivers to explore any adjunct or replacement treatments. As always, the end goal is to alleviate the often devastating symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  This handy tool is worth a look.

David York Agency

Every nurse and administrator on our team reflects our agency’s 33 years of experienced care. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, please contact us at 718.376.7755. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.