If you are an adult child caring for a Michigan senior, you may be struggling to juggle the responsibilities of caring for a loved one, your career and your own family. It is a balancing act that can create stress, anxiety and health problems for caregivers.
In fact, a 2010 Gallup poll highlighted just how much of a negative impact caring for a senior loved one can have on the caregiver’s own health. Caregivers who work outside the home are more likely to experience high blood pressure, recurring neck, back or knee pain, headaches and more. If these symptoms sound a little too familiar, it may be time to make your own health a priority in 2015.
Tips for a Healthier 2015 for Caregivers
Here are a few healthy resolutions you can make to get 2015 off to a good start:
- Review your priorities. Caregiving on its own can be a full-time job. When you have a job and a family, it might seem as if there aren’t enough hours in the day. Begin 2015 by deciding what your top three priorities are for the year. If your current obligations and commitments don’t fall in line with your priorities, it may be time to give them up. Think about the responsibilities you have that aren’t helping you accomplish one of your priorities or those activities you do that aren’t bringing you joy. Find ways to give at least a few of those up in 2015.
- Ask for and accept help. Make 2015 the year you accept that you really can’t do it all. Then explore your options for help. It might be by calling your church or synagogue to see if they have friendly visitor programs whereby volunteers provide companionship to area seniors. Explore local respite services. Respite care can be provided through in-home care aides, assisted living communities or at adult day centers. Hire a home care agency to help your senior loved one with bathing and dressing three days a week. If money is an issue, your community’s agency on aging might have resources that can help. In Michigan, you can find your local office at Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan.
- Make time for exercise. This is a tough one for many people to manage and doubly so for caregivers. Newer research shows that thirty minutes of exercise performed most days of the week should be your goal. The good news is that you reap the same benefits if you break exercise down in to ten minute increments as you would receive if you exercised for thirty minutes straight. When you think of it that way, it is much easier to fit exercise in to your daily routine.
We hope these tips help you take better care of you in 2015!
The Village of Appledorn West in Holland is now open! If you or a senior loved one would like to tour our independent living apartments or learn more about our assisted living community that will open in the spring of 2015, please stop by or call us at (616) 846-4700.
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The holidays are a time of year when many families come together. For some, it may be the first reunion since the previous year’s festivities. Adult children, who are concerned about a senior loved one’s health, often use this visit to talk about care options for their aging family member. One of the hurdles is being able to understand all of the terminology that is so prevalent in senior care.
Two of the important industry terms to know are IADL and ADL. IADL stands for instrumental activities of daily living, and ADL means activities of daily living. Determining how each of them relates to your older loved one is a necessary step in figuring out what type of care and support they need.
What is an ADL?
The tasks each of us need to be able to perform safely and independently each day are referred to as ADLs. They include:
- Personal Care: This ADL is used to describe how well a person can care for their own hygiene and grooming needs.
- Dressing: A person’s ability to dress and undress is another ADL.
- Toileting: This ADL refers to whether or not a person can use the toilet on their own or if they manage their own incontinence care.
- Eating: An ability to eat independently or with the use of assistive devices is another ADL.
According to the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), 38% of assisted living residents need help with three ADLs. 72% need help with bathing and 52% with dressing.
The Difference between an ADL and an IADL
IADLs are those tasks and chores older adults need to be able to perform to successfully manage their life and home. Examples include:
- Managing medications including ordering refills
- Planning and preparing meals or arranging for help
- Driving independently or arranging for transportation
- Managing personal finances including paying bills on time
- Performing housekeeping and maintenance tasks or arranging for those activities to be done
Many senior living providers use these activities as a measure for evaluating what types of assistance an older adult will require. That assessment is typically used to determine how much care will be needed and how much it will cost to provide it.
Most adults know the value of receiving an annual flu shot. For seniors, however, an interesting study conducted by University of Lincoln and The University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom revealed what might be one more reason to get your vaccine. They found that people who received an influenza shot early in the fall were 24% less likely to experience a stroke during that year’s flu season.
Investigating the Potential Link between Flu Shots and Reduced Risk of Stroke
Here is a quick overview of the research:
- The records of over 47,000 people who had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) were reviewed between 2001 and 2009.
- Researchers looked at those who had a flu vaccine, as well as those who received a pneumonia vaccine.
- Actual cases of stroke were compared against ‘control’ patients so research could be adjusted for other factors that might explain the differences in risk.
- Their research showed the flu vaccination was associated with a 24% reduction in risk of stroke.
- Those patients who had their vaccine early in flu season had the strongest incidence of reduced rate of stroke.
- The flu vaccine showed no statistically significant reduction in risk for a TIA.
- Receiving the pneumococcal vaccination did not appear to reduce the risk for a stroke or a TIA.
In 2010, this same research group also found a link between flu vaccines and decreased risk for heart attacks. Their previous trial showed people who received an early flu vaccination (between September and mid-November) had a 21% greater reduction in the rate of heart attacks compared with receiving flu shot late in the season where there was only a 12% reduction.
To read more about these trials and other flu shot research, visit Science Daily online.
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I will be heading home at Christmas to visit my 91-year old mother who lives in northern Michigan. I live in California so I usually only make it home once or twice a year to see her in person.
Early this summer when my kids and I went to visit, I thought she seemed a little frailer. We use Skype to chat on a regular basis and it looks to me like she’s lost weight. She keeps telling me that she is doing fine on her own and I know she has good neighbors and friends who look after her.
My mom has always seemed younger than her age because she has taken good care of herself. Because of that, I’m trying to figure out what are normal signs of aging and what aren’t. Can you give me a few suggestions on what to look for on my holiday visit home this month?
We receive a lot of emails and phone calls from adult children asking this same question every holiday season! Parents often know how busy their adult children are with their own families and careers. They don’t want to “worry” them with what they perceive to be small problems.
What you want to look for on your visit are signs of change. To assess how an aging parent really is when you visit this holiday season, you should specifically watch for and pay attention to:
- Unintentional weight gain or weight loss
- Change in how well they are managing personal care
- Bumps and bruises on their arms, legs and head that could indicate falls
- Trouble carrying on a conversation
- Forgetfulness or confusion
- Change in their disposition or personality
- Difference in how much or how little they sleep
- Condition of their house such as odors or trash piled up
- Problems managing finances such as unpaid bills on the counter or calls from creditors
These are just a few of the signs that may indicate your mother needs a little extra help. It might be a good idea to ask her if she has had a wellness visit with her primary care physician this year. If she hasn’t, encourage her to schedule one for the time when you are home so you can go with her.
It might also benefit you to learn more about senior care and the options available for your mother. Our Resource Center and our Blog both contain helpful information for adult children of an aging loved one.
Please let me know if you have any more questions, Darlene. I hope you and your family enjoy a happy holiday together in northern Michigan!
Our newest independent living community located in Holland, Michigan is open! The Village at Appledorn West welcomed our first new residents in October, and 70% of the apartments are already spoken for. Please stop by or call us at (616) 846-4700 to arrange for a tour.