3 Tips for Managing Caregiver Guilt

3 Tips for Managing Caregiver Guilt

Caring for an aging loved one can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be demanding. Stress from taking care of another person can trigger a lot of difficult emotions, including guilt.

Guilt occurs when you feel like you have done something wrong or failed an obligation. It can rob you of your joy and harm your overall happiness. Although feeling guilty is often unavoidable, there are a few ways you can cope and prevent it from affecting your quality of life.

Here are a few tips for managing caregiver guilt.

Managing Caregiver Guilt

  1. Acknowledge your feelings and where they come from

The first step in managing caregiver guilt is to acknowledge your feelings. It’s a common misconception that you can get rid of guilt completely. Believing you can will only set you up for failure and lead to more guilt.

Once you acknowledge your guilt, try to understand where it comes from. A few common reasons why caregivers may feel guilty include:

  • Feeling bad that they resent the time they spend caring for their loved one
  • Not being able to spend time with other friends or family members
  • Comparing themselves to other caregivers who appear to be doing a better job
  • Feeling anger towards a loved one for something they have no control over
  1. Join a support group

Support groups can be effective tools for managing guilt. They allow you to connect with other caregivers in similar situations. Not only can you learn from their experiences, but you can also take satisfaction in knowing you are not alone.

Support groups come in a variety of formats. Online groups may be best for those who have trouble finding time to meet with others. They can also be helpful for caregivers who struggle to express their feelings in-person or want to remain anonymous. In-person groups may work best for those who need to meet face-to-face to feel connected.

  1. Take advantage of respite care

Respite care is a service that gives short-term relief to caregivers. It can be a lifesaver for those who don’t have friends or family available to share the workload. This service can be arranged for any period of time. Some caregivers choose a few hours, while others need a few days or weeks.

One of the best things about respite care is that it can take place anywhere. Professional caretakers can come to your home, or your senior loved one could stay at a senior living community.

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

Many caregivers make the mistake of thinking they can do everything. Caring for a loved one takes a lot of time and patience, and it’s impossible to do alone. Trying to do so can become self-destructive and lead to chronic stress and caregiver burnout. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Taking time to care for yourself will allow you to better care for your loved one.

Respite Care at Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square location, provides respite care services to seniors and their families. If you and your senior loved one live in Michigan and would like to learn more about our respite care services, we invite you to schedule a private tour. We would love to show you around and tell you more about our community!

How to Keep Aging Parents Safe on Senior Dating Sites

How to Keep Aging Parents Safe on Senior Dating Sites

Dear Donna,

My mom is dating for the first time since my father’s death. I am happy for her, but also concerned about her safety. I have heard there are scammers who specifically target seniors.

How do I keep my mom safe while dating?

Grace from Holland, MI

When Aging Parents Start Dating

Dear Grace,

It’s normal for adult children to worry when their senior parents start dating. This is especially true if their parents are widowed or haven’t dated in years. A lot has changed since they were in the dating pool, largely due to the internet.

Using the internet to find love is a new concept for many seniors. Various websites are available to help singles connect.

Senior Dating Sites

  • SeniorMatch: SeniorMatch caters to singles over 50 years old. In addition to romantic relationships, this site also helps seniors looking for other connections like companions and travel buddies.
  • eHarmony: eHarmony uses a series of questions to match statistically compatible singles who share the same values. They claim to help people of all ages find love.
  • Niche sites: Various niche sites cater to specific groups of people. EliteSingles, for example, targets educated, mature singles. Other platforms, like FarmersOnly, attract farmers and singles who love the outdoors.

Like anyone seeking a partner online, seniors should be cautious. Many seniors have nest eggs, and scammers may try to take advantage of them. By learning the warning signs, caregivers can help keep their loved ones safe from online dating scams.

4 Ways Seniors Can Stay Safe While Online Dating

  1. Avoid anyone who professes love quickly. Saying “I love you” early in an online relationship isn’t normal. Scam artists commonly use this tactic to make their victim emotionally attached. Seniors should be wary of anyone who professes their love too quickly.
  2. Deny requests for money. Asking for money is red flag that seniors shouldn’t ignore. It’s best to avoid sending money regardless of what they tell you.
  3. Make sure their dating platform is reputable. If your loved one starts online dating, find out what platform they are using. Do a little research to make sure it has a good reputation. If it doesn’t, direct them to a site that does.
  4. Be aware of their plans. When your loved one goes on a date, learn as much about their plans as possible.
    • Who are they going with?
    • Where are they going?
    • When will they be home?

Knowing this information can help you determine when to worry and what to report if something occurs.

Online Dating Isn’t for Everyone

Intimacy and strong relationships later in life are essential for senior loved ones’ longevity and overall well-being. But meeting people after retirement can be challenging.

Senior dating sites aren’t for everyone. It’s common for seniors to feel more comfortable meeting face-to-face than through a computer. Assisted living can be advantageous in these cases. In assisted living, there are plenty of opportunities for seniors to meet and interact with potential partners.

I hope this helps your mom stay safe on senior dating sites. Wishing her lots of luck in finding love!

Regards,

Donna

Heritage Encourages Friendship

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Appledorn location, understand the importance of friendships in later life. We provide an environment that fosters connectedness and provides plenty of opportunities for social interaction. Contact us for more information.

5 Sunscreen Tips for Older Adults

5 Sunscreen Tips for Older Adults

With age, many changes happen to the skin. Not only does your skin produce less collagen and become drier, but it also becomes more sensitive. Because your immune system also weakens over time, your skin has an increasingly difficult time repairing sun damage. Wearing sunscreen can be an excellent way for seniors to protect themselves from harmful UV rays and prevent skin conditions like premature aging and skin cancer.

Sunscreen is most effective when you use it properly. Here are a few tips for seniors who want to get the most out of their sunscreen.

5 Tips for Using Sunscreens

  1. Choose a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection: The sun emits both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are responsible for premature aging, while UVB rays cause sunburn. Both damage the skin. Choosing a sunscreen that says “broad spectrum” on the label will protect your skin against both types of UV rays.
  2. Use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher: SPF stands for skin protection factor, and the number indicates how long it will take before the sun burns the skin. The American Cancer Society recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect against UVB rays.
  3. Apply sunscreen generously and periodically: Older adults should apply a generous amount of sunscreen before they go outside, even if they only plan to be out for a few minutes. Cover every exposed area, including your face, ears, and hands. As a general rule, reapply sunscreen every two hours, more if you are in the water or sweating.
  4. Look for a water-resistant sunscreen: When choosing a sunscreen, look for one that is water-resistant. Even if you don’t plan to be in the water, it also keeps you protected if you sweat.
  5. Pick a cream formula: There are a lot of options when it comes to sunscreen. You can pick sticks, lotions, and sprays. It’s often best to use a cream-based formula as opposed to a spray. Although sprays may be easier to apply, they may not cover as evenly as a cream-based product.

Don’t Rely Solely on Sunscreen

In addition to sunscreen, seniors should use other best practices to protect their skin. This includes wearing protective clothing, sunglasses, and hats. Try to avoid spending time in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun’s rays are strongest. By using a combination of sun protection measures, seniors can reduce their risk of developing skin cancer.

Heritage Senior Communities

If you are concerned about your ability to protect yourself from the sun, consider moving to an assisted living community where safety is a priority. Heritage Senior Communities offers an assortment of indoor and outdoor activities during the summer. Seniors who want to avoid the sun can stay engaged by only participating in indoor activities. Contact us today to learn about how we help seniors stay healthy and engaged.

8 Frequently Asked Questions about Senior Guardians

8 Frequently Asked Questions about Senior Guardians

If a senior loved one is having trouble making decisions for themselves, you may have considered becoming their guardian. Senior guardianships can be difficult to understand. Many families don’t know everything the role entails. Here are a few things caregivers should know before seeking guardianship for a senior loved one.

Understanding What It Means to Be a Senior Guardian

  1. What is a senior guardian?

A senior guardian, also known as an adult guardian, is an adult appointed by the court to care for a senior who is incapacitated. Once a guardian is appointed, the senior becomes their ward. The guardian is responsible for managing the ward’s life and making decisions in their best interest.

The guardian can legally make decisions about:

  • Where the ward will live
  • How to handle their finances and other assets
  • Health care and medical treatments
  • End-of-life decisions
  1. What types of responsibilities does a guardian have?

In addition to making decisions in the ward’s best interest, the guardian is also responsible for the following tasks:

  • Making sure they get to their doctors’ appointments
  • Helping manage their medications
  • Paying their bills
  1. Who needs a guardian?

A senior can benefit from a guardian if they have an illness, injury, or disability that makes it difficult or impossible to make personal decisions for themselves. A senior may benefit from a guardian if:

  • They have trouble making good decisions
  • They were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia
  • They recently had a stroke or have suffered a brain injury
  1. When is guardianship granted?

A guardian is appointed if the senior does not have a power of attorney and the court decides that they are incapacitated. The person petitioning for guardianship must provide evidence from a medical professional that the senior is unable to make decisions about their personal affairs.

In the event the older adult doesn’t have someone who can act on their behalf, the court may appoint a professional guardian.

  1. How do you choose a guardian?

Guardianship should be appointed to someone who plays a significant role in the senior’s life. This person should understand the senior’s needs and be sensitive to their condition.

If more than one person is petitioning for guardianship, the court will appoint the person they feel is best qualified for the role. In most cases, this person is the senior’s spouse or a family member. If neither is feasible, the court will appoint guardianship to a close friend. The final option would be a professional guardian.

  1. What are the limitations of guardianships?

Guardians can only handle small amounts of money like monthly stipends, Social Security benefits, and veterans’ benefits. If the senior has a significant amount of assets, a conservator is usually required. A conservator, also appointed by the court, handles the ward’s finances.

  1. What are the cons of guardianship?

Guardianships can be helpful in many instances, but there are a few downsides:

  • Guardianship petitions can be expensive due to court costs and other legal fees.
  • Seniors don’t always get to choose their guardian; the court may decide who is best suited for the role.
  • The court is involved in family decisions.
  1. How long does a guardianship last?

A guardianship typically lasts until the ward or the guardian dies. The relationship can also be terminated if the guardian resigns, or the senior is no longer incapacitated.

In some cases, the court may remove the guardian if they find it in the best interest of the ward.

Guardianship Is an Important Decision

Becoming a guardian for a senior loved one is an important decision. It restricts a senior’s rights to make certain life decisions.

At Heritage, we always recommend that seniors and their families seek assistance from a professional when it comes to legal matters. An attorney with experience in family law, probate law, or elder law will likely be familiar with adult guardianship. They can help you determine if adult guardianship is a good choice for your family.

Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities offers memory care programs that cater to seniors with special needs, including those who are incapacitated. Contact us today to learn more about our communities or to schedule a private tour.

Trusts versus Wills: What Are the Differences?

Trusts versus Wills: What Are the Differences?

If you or a senior loved one is developing an estate plan, you are likely familiar with the terms will and trust. While most people have heard about these types of estate planning, many struggle to understand their differences.

We created this quick overview to help you learn more.

Understanding the Similarities and Differences between a Will and a Trust

  1. Effective date

One of the differences between a will and a trust is when it goes into effect. A will becomes effective at the time of death. A trust, on the other hand, becomes active immediately after it’s signed.

A trust can be advantageous because it considers circumstances that can occur while the person is alive. This includes mental disabilities like Alzheimer’s or other health issues that can cause incapacitation.

  1. Protection from probate

A will and a trust both control the disbursement of your assets. A will must go trhough probate, a process where the court distributes the assets according to the terms of your will. A trust is not required to go through probate.

  1. Handling of property

To leave property through a trust, the grantor (the person creating the trust) must transfer it into the trust. A living trust can manage and distribute any property that it was funded with. For example, if you transfer your life insurance policy and jointly owned property into the trust, it can legally govern and distribute them according to your wishes.

  1. Minimize tax obligations

One advantage a trust has over a will is that it helps to minimize the total tax obligations of the estate. While it can be expensive to set a trust up initially, that cost can be more than offset by the tax savings.

More Differences between Wills and Trusts

  • Naming an executor/trustee: An executor is a person who oversees any remaining financial obligations after a person’s death. A will allows you to name an executotor. A trustee manages the Trust. In most cases you will be the trustee and upon death or incapacity a successor trustee will take over.
  • Ease of creating: A trust is longer and more comprehensive than a will, and it requires you to transfer your property. A will is typically less complex and only requires two witnesses in most states.
  • Naming guardians for children: Both a will and trust allow you to make provisions for your minor children. In both cases, a court would need to approve the guardian. A trust allows you to instruct the trustee on how and when to distribute the assets. For example, the interest can be used to care for the children and the principle is distributed when the children reach a certain age. A will simply holds the assets until the children are adults.

Creating an Estate Plan That Meets Your Needs

Creating a will is a necessary part of any estate planning process. Whether you need to include a trust depends on your personal situation. At Heritage Senior Communities, we always recommend seniors and families seek help from a professional when creating legal documents. A lawyer with estate planning experience can help you develop a plan to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities offers several senior living options throughout Michigan including assisted living, independent living, specialized dementia care, and respite care. Contact us for more information.

5 Legal Documents Every Caregiver Should Have

5 Legal Documents Every Caregiver Should Have

Dear Donna,

As my parents age, I am starting to think more about their future. I want to help them enjoy the best quality of life as they grow older. To do so, I know I will have to work with their attorney on planning.

What legal documents should I have as a caregiver so I can make decisions on my parents’ behalf?

Jessica in Holland, MI

Legal Documents for Caregivers

Dear Jessica,

It’s great that you are preparing for your parents’ future. Many families wait until a crisis occurs before sorting out their loved one’s preferences. Not only can this make the process more stressful, but it can also affect a family’s ability to properly care for their loved ones. By preparing legal documents in advance, you can help prevent your family from having to make important decisions during stressful times. Here are 5 legal documents family caregivers should have.

5 Legal Documents Every Caregiver Should Have

 

  1. Living will: A living will, also referred to as an advance health care directive, is a document that allows people to record their wishes for end-of-life care. This document will be helpful if your parents become incapacitated and can’t make decisions for themselves. Although Michigan state laws do not consider living wills legally binding, having these documents is a great way to ensure their end-of-life preferences are met.
  2. Durable power of attorney for finances: A power of attorney is a person authorized to manage a person’s finances if they become incapacitated. A power of attorney has access to bank accounts, properties, and other assets. This document is helpful if you need to help your mom or dad pay bills or make important decisions about their finances.
  3. Health care proxy: A health care proxy, also referred to as a durable power of attorney for health care, is a document that authorizes someone to make health care decisions on another’s behalf. This document goes into effect only if they are unable to make decisions for themselves. A health care proxy includes decisions regarding health care providers and medical treatments. Proxies can even refuse treatments.
  4. Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) orders: DNR orders inform medical providers not to perform CPR if a patient’s heart stops beating. In Michigan, DNR orders are only valid when the person is home or at an assisted living community. If your mom or dad doesn’t want to be revived, their wishes should be documented in a DNR order.
  5. HIPAA authorization form: A HIPAA authorization form is another document that can be extremely useful to caregivers. While HIPAA rules usually allow medical professionals to give information to caregivers, obstacles still arise. A HIPAA authorization can prevent unnecessary complications and provide you with access to your loved one’s medical information.

Preparing Legal Documents

Having legal documents prepared in advance is one of the best ways to ensure you meet your parents’ wishes. At Heritage, we always recommend you seek advice from an elder law attorney when creating legal documents. They can help you understand state laws, review your documents, and walk you through the process of verifying that they will hold up in court.

I hope this encourages you and your parents to start preparing legal documents!

Regards,

Donna

 

Heritage Senior Communities Offers Personalized Support

Heritage Senior Communities provides high quality care for seniors across Michigan. Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland, for example, offers personalized support with daily meals, laundry, and housekeeping. Contact us today to schedule a tour.