CAREGiver Stress Part II- The Facts

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 50 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aging family member or friend during any given year. Thirty percent of caregivers are themselves aged 65 or over; another 15% are between the ages of 45 to 54. While there is no reliable estimate of the number of family caregivers, at least 7 million Americans are caring for a parent at any given time.

The need for caregivers will increase as the boomer population ages. People over the age of 65 are expected to increase at a 2.3% rate, but the number of family members available to care for them will increase by less than 1%. That is expected to result in added stress on the family caregiver who might not have others to help with caregiving duties.

Already, millions of working adults are juggling the competing demands of caring for a chronically ill or disabled parent, raising a family, and managing a career. The negative effects include time lost from work, lower productivity, quitting a job to give care, lost career opportunities, lower future earnings, and stress-related illnesses.

According to recent studies:

  • Caregivers comprise about 13% of the workforce. Nearly 20% of family caregivers are providing 40 hours of care a week or more. As a result, some 10% have to go from full-time to part-time jobs because of their caregiving responsibilities.
    Source: Home Instead Senior Care
  • During the year 2000, the typical working family caregiver lost $109 per day in wages and health benefits due to the need to provide full time care. Eventually, some 12% of caregivers quit their jobs to provide care full-time.
    Source: The American Council of Life Insurers
  • American businesses lose as much as $34 billion each year due to employees’ needs to care for senior loved ones. Both male and female children of aging parents make changes at work in order to accommodate caregiving responsibilities, such as modifying work schedules, coming in late or leaving early, or altering work-related travel.
    Source: The MetLife Mature Market Institute

There are a number of employee programs that can provide support for family caregivers:

  • Some employers offer “cafeteria style” employee benefits which allow employees to select supplemental dependent care coverage to reimburse costs for in-home care or adult day care. Benefits might also cover therapeutic counseling for the employee to help cope with the stresses of family caregiving.
  • Human Resource or employee assistance program (EAP) staff can provide information on helpful Internet sites, local information and referral services or resource centers. Some larger businesses organize in-house caregiver support groups or coordinate with local community groups or hospitals so that employees can attend an outside support group.
  • Alternative work schedules such as flexible work hours, family illness days, and leave time may be available.  Check with your manager to see if you can modify your own work schedule to accommodate your caregiving needs.
  • If you work for a company that has 50 or more employees, it must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a seriously ill parent, spouse or child, while protecting job security. Some smaller firms also use the FMLA guidelines to provide support for individual employees.

It’s important that you take the time to learn what is offered by your employer. Doing so could alleviate some of your stress.

**Tune back in next month for the next part of our CAREGiver Stress series to learn more about the signs of stress.**

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CAREGiver Stress- It is not just about professionals!

When it comes to defining the extent of the volume of caregivers, former first lady Rosalyn Carter said it best: “There are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.”

Caregiving can be a very rewarding and bonding experience – but it can be very stressful. According to a recent study conducted by Home Instead Senior Care network, 31% of family caregivers admit they’d like more help, and 25% actually resent other family members who don’t help out more. The stress gets worse if the caregiver has other important and pressing responsibilities, such as a job, children to care for, a busy social life, or some distance to travel to care for their elderly relative.

Caregiving can be particularly hard for a spouse, especially when the care recipient requires around-the-clock assistance. It can even become dangerous if the spousal caregiver has his or her own health issues to deal with, because those problems can be made worse by the stress of caregiving and the lack of attention to the caregiver’s own needs.

You can’t ignore the needs of the person you are caring for, but there are a number of ways to make sure you remain as stress-free and healthy as possible during the process. In this workshop, we’ll discuss the extent of the caregiver stress problem and give you some signs to look for that show you might be suffering from stress yourself. We’ll also look specifically at the challenges of dealing with patients who have Alzheimer’s or other dementia.We will be posting  over the next several months about CAREGiver stress and providing tips and ideas about how you can ease your stress level and protect your health.

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Handling the Holidays

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When you are caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or another type of Dementia, facing the holidays can be quite a task. At Home Instead Senior Care, we know this time of year can even be something that a family caregiver may dread because of the added stress of still trying to create holiday memories all while managing behaviors that can stem from Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

Home Instead Senior Care’s website Help for Alzheimer’s Families has created lots of articles including resources and tips to make the holidays more manageable. Below are 4 tips to Manage Alzheimer’s and other dementias during the holidays:

1. Recall past traditions of the person—make their favorite mincemeat pie. 

Spend time doing things that always meant a lot to your loved one. If you always made homemade ornaments each year with mom using materials around the home or by sewing, then try to keep that tradition. It will allow you to make new memories and focuses on a past tradition that mom loved, from a time she more than likely can remember really well!

2. Celebrate in smaller groups—attend a religious service off hours, or enjoy your own spiritual readings/traditions.

To avoid any unnecessary agitation with your loved one, avoid huge crowds or situations that you know will trigger certain behaviors. Think about less busier times at department stores to shop or the suggestion above for church services, etc.

3. Do some simple chores together. Wrapping presents is a good one: “Mother, do you like the red bow or the green ribbon?”

Always providing your loved ones with choices, even around the holidays, helps them to feel included but also in control of their own care. When a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia may act out irrationally, it is often because they are trying to communicate a need or want to be in control of their own care and can’t express that. Let them decide what wrapping paper to use between two choices (two is preferred because you do not want to overwhelm) or let them choose between the turkey or ham for dinner.

4. Use the holidays as a chance to share appreciation and support with friends and family who have helped.

This one is really important! If you are blessed enough to have a great support team in helping to care for your loved one, be sure you use the holidays as a way to show appreciation. Send a thoughtful card, gift or some homemade goodies to show how much you are thankful for their support!

Any questions, please contact your local Home Instead Senior Care Franchise Office at 601.261.2114. For more tips, resources and guides, visit http://www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com. 

10 Signs a person needs Home Care

  1. Household bills piling up

 

  1. Reluctance to leave home

 

  1. Losing interest in meals

 

  1. Declining personal hygiene (unkempt appearance, incontinence issues)

 

  1. Declining driving skills

 

  1. Scorched pots and pans

 

  1. Signs of depression

 

  1. Missed doctors’ appointments and social engagements

 

  1. Unkempt house

 

  1. Losing track of medications

If you are struggling to care for an aging loved one, let Home Instead Senior Care help. Call our local office today for more resources or a complimentary care consultation at 601.261.2114.

God Won’t Ask

Food for thought: We hope this was as thought provoking and inspirational as we found it to be! Touch a life today!

God won’t ask what kind of car you drove but will ask how many people you drove who didn’t have transportation.

God won’t ask the square footage of your home but will ask how many people you welcomed into it.

God won’t ask about the fancy clothes you had in your closet but will ask how many of those clothes helped the needy.

God won’t ask how many different materials possessions you had but will ask if they dictated your life.

God won’t ask you what your highest salary was but will ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.

God won’t ask how much overtime you worked but he will ask if you worked overtime for your family and loved ones.

God won’t ask how many promotions you received but will ask you how you promoted others.

God won’t ask what your job title was but will ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.

God won’t ask how many friends you had but will ask how many people you were a true friend to.

God won’t ask what you did to help yourself but will ask what you did to help others.

God won’t ask what you did to protect your right but will ask what you did to protect the rights of others.

God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived but will ask how you treated your neighbors.

God won’t ask about the color of your skin but will ask about the content of your character.

God won’t ask how many times your deeds matched your words but will ask how many times they didn’t.

Grandma and the Cake

This is a story submitted to Home Instead Senior Care by a client. With her permission, we would like to post this story for your enjoyment!

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“A little boy is telling his Grandma how “everything” is going wrong. He tells her that it rained last weekend during his birthday party, how he lost the baseball game, and that nothing seems fair, etc… Meanwhile, Grandma is baking a cake.

She asks her grandson if he would like a snack, which of course he does. “Here, have some cooking  oil.”

“Yuck,” says the boy.

“How about a couple of raw eggs?”

“Gross, Grandma!”

“Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?”

“Grandma, those are all really yucky!” To which Grandma replied: “Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way,they make a wonderfully delicious cake! God works the same way. Many times we wonder why he would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when He puts these things all in order, they always work for good!”

WE JUST HAVE TO TRUST HIM….

Written by L. Wright

A CAREGiver’s calling

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Yesterday was the hardest day I have had at Home Instead Senior Care. My team and I have been through a lot. We have celebrated many successes with CAREGivers and clients. We have shared personal triumphs together and seen our business grow and flourish by God’s own hand. We have also lost people near and dear to our hearts. We have wept over family trials and when CAREGivers have fallen ill. To us, it’s personal means that our job is more than a job. It is a journey. And on this journey, same as any, there are good and bad times. Yesterday was the absolute worse….

A CAREGiver that has been with us for 8 years and given her golden years to ensure that others were taken care of, had a warm meal, never felt lonely and were safe in their homes has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. At first, I was shocked. We all know the signs and we have seen the decline in her. I had to make the most gut wrenching phone call to this CAREGiver’s daughter to express our concerns. But there was no denying it anymore. There it was… the diagnosis. And it was what we all had feared.

Secondly, I was angry. I cried out to God, “It’s not fair. God, I know that you have a plan but someone who has given her all for others shouldn’t now have to worry about losing herself, her mind.” I wasn’t necessarily angry with God but I had questions and I had to ask why? 

It doesn’t seem fair. We are all worried about our beloved CAREGiver. She cried as she shared with us how scared she was and how she felt fine. She said she couldn’t believe that this was happening because she knew she was “a little forgetful” but she figured that just came with getting older. We listened as she shared the same story over twice in a five minute span. We cried with her as she had to sign her resignation form, realizing that this meant she officially couldn’t work with her clients anymore. We all supported this beautiful lady as we remembered the 5 years she was a CAREGiver for an Alzheimer’s client. Through it all we were brave and strong for her.

I realized as I reflected on this later that God does have a plan. We aren’t meant to understand it. I might never fully understand why someone so giving and compassionate was struck with such a tragic illness but I did think that maybe God placed her with her Alzheimer’s client to help prepare her heart for what was ahead. It would be just like God to take something so dark and in the midst of this storm, remind us all that there is hope. Hope in Him. Hope that he has a plan for each of us.

Who knows why she chose Home Instead Senior Care or that as fate would have it, she would work with the client she had for so long. Who knows why she, of all people, would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And who knew this would affect us all so deeply… What I do know is that I trust God. I trust his plan. No matter what it will all be ok. And most of all I believe that what we do at Home Instead Senior Care is a calling. This career is not for the faint of heart or someone looking for a paycheck. We impact the lives of others every day and sometimes doubting our abilities or reasons why things happen the way they do. Nevertheless the fact remains that we were chosen by God to serve his purpose. I for one will never forget this moment. I will never forget the stories or the time shared with this CAREGiver. She has forever made and left a lasting impression on all of us and for that I am eternally grateful. Dear E, we love you!