Stay Connected with Friends While Caregiving

Stay Connected with Friends While Caregiving

A challenge shared by many caregivers is the loneliness the role often creates. As their loved ones’ need for assistance increases, many people find themselves cut off from friends when they need emotional support more than ever. This situation can easily result in caregiver depression.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 40-70% of caregivers meet the criteria for depression. Of those, 25% meet the criteria for major clinical depression. It’s a serious condition that typically requires medical intervention.

As a caregiver, how can you stay connected when you aren’t able to leave home very often?

Technology has made it easier to find a solution. Here are a few easy-to-use, inexpensive avenues to explore:

 

Stay Connected While Caregiving

 

  1. Use a video chat service to talk with family and friends.

Video chat services aren’t just for keeping in touch with faraway loved ones. For isolated caregivers, they can provide a way to talk face-to-face from across town or the country. FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, and others allow lonely caregivers to get emotional support, especially on difficult days. Most are easy to access from a smartphone or tablet device.

  1. Play games and hang out virtually.

During the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, many people sought new ways to spend time virtually with loved ones. Playing games across the miles is possible with the help of apps like Houseparty. Loved ones can challenge each other to games like Chips and Guac, Heads Up!, and Pictionary.

  1. Talk via social media channels like Facebook.

If you haven’t joined Facebook, now might be time. You can connect with family members through your regular News Feed or set up private groups. Another popular feature is Facebook Live, and it’s not just for businesses. If you can’t leave home, this could be a way to read bedtime stories to the grandkids. You can control and limit who sees your feed, providing you with privacy.

  1. Join an online caregiver support group.

As the number of family caregivers in the US (currently estimated to be about 40.4 million) continues to climb, avenues for support are growing too. One is online caregiver support groups. They are easier to find than ever before. These groups give caregivers an opportunity to connect with others who understand and share their struggles.

While in-person support groups are an option for some, caregivers who aren’t able to leave a senior loved one alone can join one online. The flexibility and convenience they offer is good for a busy caregiver’s schedule.

 

Is It Time for a Senior Living Community?

 

When a senior family member’s needs become tough to manage at home, it might be time to consider assisted living or memory care. I’m Here For A Family Member offers resources to help you learn more about each type of care. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!

How to Help a Senior Avoid Common Heat-Related Illnesses

How to Help a Senior Avoid Common Heat-Related Illnesses

Spring and summer are seasons many people enjoy spending outdoors. Picnics, swimming, and family reunions are popular warm-weather activities. If you are an older adult, it’s essential to learn how to stay safe from heat-related illnesses. Seniors are more sensitive to heat and the health issues a hot, humid day can cause.

Sometimes a chronic health condition, such as heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), puts the senior at increased risk for dehydration or a heat stroke. Other times sun sensitivity is a medication side effect.

Aging causes another safety concern: fragile skin. As we grow older, our skin becomes thinner, making it more susceptible to sunburn and sun poisoning. It also takes less time for fragile skin to burn.

To help you stay safe while enjoying your spring and summer activities, we pulled together a few tips.

 

6 Summer Safety Tips for Seniors

 

  1. Sunscreen: Frequent application of a quality sunscreen is the best way to protect fragile skin from sunburn and sun poisoning. Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50 every two to four hours while you are outdoors and encourage senior loved ones to do the same.
  2. Footwear: Fragile skin impacts the tops and bottoms of the feet too. While sandals and flip-flops might be cooler and more attractive in warm weather, they don’t offer much protection. From cuts and sunburns to falls, you need footwear with better coverage and support.
  3. Sunglasses: Sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement. They also play a key role in protecting eyes from the sun’s hot rays. Researchers say faithfully wearing a quality pair of sunglasses can help protect eyes from cancerous growths and cataracts, a condition that occurs more frequently with age. Make sure you and your senior loved one have sunglasses that block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.
  4. Hat: The face and back of the neck are common places for skin cancer to develop. Wearing a hat with a brim that shields the face along with sunscreen doubles the protection.
  5. Bug spray: Insects are more than just pests when you are enjoying the great outdoors. Some are linked to serious health concerns, such as the West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Invest in a good bug spray and use it faithfully. Also check your clothes, hair, and body for signs of ticks when you come back inside.
  6. Hydration: Finally, stay hydrated. As we age, our bodies don’t adjust to changes in temperature and humidity as well as in younger days. This puts seniors at increased risk for dehydration. Medication side effects and health conditions like COPD and heart disease can make the problem worse. Drink water continuously when you are outside and consume foods with high water content. Popsicles, cucumber, salads, and berries are a few suggestions.

We hope these tips keep you and those closest to you safe this summer.

Tour a Heritage Community This Summer

If your summer plans include visiting senior living communities for a potential move, we hope you will keep Heritage Senior Communities in mind. With locations throughout Michigan and in Granger, Indiana, you are likely to find a community nearby! Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

What Caregivers Should Know about Seniors and Allergy Medications

What Caregivers Should Know about Seniors and Allergy Medications

When people think about spring, flowers and greenery often come to mind. But spring is also a popular time for allergies. Unfortunately, many allergy medications can harm a senior’s health or negatively interact with their prescriptions.

Here’s what caregivers should know about seniors and allergy medications so they can help keep their loved ones safe.

Understanding Seasonal Allergies

Allergies occur when something the body recognizes as an invader triggers an immune response. In spring, common invaders are pollen, grass, or mold. The symptoms of seasonal allergies can be mild, such as itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, or a rash. They can also be more intense, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, or even swelling in the throat.

Issues with Antihistamines

Many people use antihistamines to treat allergies. Two common antihistamines found in allergy medications are chlorpheniramine and diphenhydramine.

  • Chlorpheniramine is in medications like Chlor-Trimeton and Chlor-Tabs. It is also commonly found in drugs labeled for nighttime use.
  • Diphenhydramine is the main ingredient in Benadryl.

Chlorpheniramine and diphenhydramine are anticholinergics, meaning they block the action of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that helps control functions like learning and memory. The brain’s ability to use acetylcholine declines with age and taking medications with these ingredients further reduces its action.

In addition to their harmful effects on the brain, these medications can also cause unfavorable side effects, including confusion, drowsiness, urine retention, dizziness, and dry mouth and eyes. Anticholinergics can also interact negatively with certain prescription medications used to manage chronic medical conditions, like blood pressure.

Caregivers should know that medications aren’t the only option for treating allergies. Natural remedies may help protect senior loved ones against pollen and other allergens.

Natural Allergy Remedies

  • Limit exposure to pollen: One way to protect senior loved ones is to limit their exposure to pollen. Pollen counts tend to be highest between 5 and 10 am, especially when it’s warm and dry or windy. It’s usually a good idea to avoid going outside during these times and keep home and car windows closed. If your loved one does go out, change their clothes to minimize contact.
  • Stay clean: To keep allergies at bay, take a bath or shower each night to wash any pollen from the hair and body. This can also help avoid bringing allergens to bed.
  • Wash bedding: Wash your loved one’s sheets, pillows, and blankets with soap and warm water at least once per week to keep them pollen-free.
  • Use a HEPA filter: HEPA filters are another tool for reducing symptoms of allergies. They work by trapping pollutants. Try putting one in your loved one’s bedroom.
  • Try a Neti pot: This small device that looks like a teapot works by cleansing the nasal passages. Add a sterile saline solution to the Neti pot. Tilt your head to the side and place the spout in your top nostril and let the liquid drain through the bottom nostril. Just be careful your loved one doesn’t use the pot too frequently.

Consult with a Doctor

If your loved one is having trouble managing their allergies, they should consult with their doctor before taking an OTC allergy medication. A medical professional can recommend an alternative drug that won’t affect their brain function or interfere with their current medications.

Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities provides senior living options, including assisted living, independent living, specialized dementia care, and respite care throughout Michigan. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

4 Tips for Helping a Senior Find a Primary Care Doctor

4 Tips for Helping a Senior Find a Primary Care Doctor

Dear Donna,

My mom’s doctor announced he is retiring soon. He has been her primary care doctor for over 30 years, so she is nervous about finding a new one. I want to help, but I am unsure where to start. How do you help an older loved one find a primary care doctor?

Sincerely,

Jen from Norton Shores, MI

Helping Senior Loved Ones Find a Primary Care Doctor

Dear Jen,

Choosing a new doctor can be difficult for anyone. In addition to verifying their credentials and experience, you need to find out if they are taking new patients. You also want your loved one to feel comfortable talking with their doctor about their health. Consider factors like bedside manner and communication skills. Here are a few tips for helping your loved one find a new primary care doctor.

4 Tips for Finding a New Doctor

  1. Ask friends and neighbors

Many people find success in a doctor recommended by someone they know. Have your senior loved one ask their friends for a referral. Also, encourage them to explain what they like about their doctor because their needs can be different. For example, someone might recommend a quick and efficient doctor, while your loved one might prefer more time and attention. If you don’t have luck with friends and family, you might want to check with your local senior center. They are often great resources for local referrals.

  1. Read online reviews

In addition to recommendations from friends and family, you can look online for guidance. There are many sites where patients can review their experience with a doctor. Even a quick Google search can give you the average rating of a specific doctor. Some websites, such as Zocdoc, will provide you with additional information, like wait time and bedside manner.

  1. Check their health plan list

Before making an appointment with a new doctor, make sure they accept your loved one’s insurance. You can find out by calling the doctor’s office or the insurance company. Their health plan list is also an excellent place to start if you don’t have referrals. You can look at the list of doctors provided by the insurance plan and then research their reputation online. If your loved one has Medicare, you can reach out to them or visit their website to access a list of local doctors who are accepting new patients.

  1. Consider convenience

When looking for a new doctor, consider accessibility. The doctor’s office should be easy for your loved one to get to, and the hours should work with their schedule. Also, find out how easy it is to schedule an appointment. Is the doctor booked far in advance? What is the average wait time? Consider all these factors before you decide.

Explore Your Options

Helping a senior loved one find a new primary care doctor can be difficult, especially if they have had the same one for a long time. But their doctor plays an important role in keeping them healthy. Meet with a few doctors until you find one you are confident can meet your loved one’s needs.

I hope this helps you find a doctor for your mom!

Sincerely,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities is designed with senior wellness in mind. From independent living to assisted living and memory care, Heritage Senior Communities has a senior living solution to meet your or your loved one’s needs. Contact the community nearest you to schedule a private tour.

Tips for Busy Caregivers to Eat Healthy on the Go

Tips for Busy Caregivers to Eat Healthy on the Go

Caregivers are busy and often on the go. Having a lot on your plate can make it difficult to prepare healthy meals. Many caregivers opt for quick foods that are ready to eat. Unfortunately, many of these lack nutrition and are heavily processed.

A poor diet not only negatively affects your physical and mental wellbeing, but it can also affect your ability to care for your senior loved one. A healthy diet, on the other hand, can leave you energized and ready to tackle any challenge. Here are a few tips for busy caregivers to eat healthy on the go.

3 Tips for Eating Healthy on the Go

  1. Look for chain restaurants with healthy menu options.

Fast food has a bad reputation, but many popular chains have accommodated the demand for healthier options. If you need something quick while on the go, don’t be afraid to check out their options.

El Pollo Loco, for example, features an “Under 500 Calories” section on their menu. You can enjoy fresh foods like the Chicken Black Bean Bowl or a Double Chicken Avocado Salad. Even McDonald’s has healthier options. You can choose sliced apples instead of fries or the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich instead of fried chicken.

  1. Research home delivery meal services.

Home delivery meal services, like Freshly, deliver fully cooked meals straight to your door. This service can help caregivers who don’t have time to cook fresh, healthy meals for themselves. When the meals arrive, store them in your refrigerator. When you are ready to eat, simply pop them in the microwave.

A great thing about these services is many allow you to select a meal plan based on your diet and nutrition goals. They might offer vegan, keto, or low-carb options. Some companies even allow you to customize your meals. For example, you might be able to make a menu item low-sodium or sugar-free.

  1. Take advantage of restaurant delivery services.

Restaurant delivery services are another great option for busy caregivers. These let you order food from local restaurants and have it delivered to your home or office. Food delivery services let you access more options and allow you to receive food within minutes. This feature can be particularly beneficial for caregivers who need something to eat last minute.

Uber Eats and DoorDash are two popular restaurant delivery services. They allow you to order and pay for food directly from a phone app. Once you place your order, you can track the status of your delivery until it arrives at your location.

Healthy Eating Is Important

There are so many benefits to eating a healthy diet. In addition to improving physical health, making good food choices can help caregivers avoid weight loss or weight gain, increase energy, and manage many chronic medical conditions. Being healthy helps caregivers provide their loved ones with the care they deserve.

Heritage Senior Communities Encourages Healthy Eating

If your caregiving role is affecting your diet, you may want to explore local senior living options. Many assisted living communities, including Heritage Senior Communities, offer comfortable and safe living arrangements for seniors while allowing them to maintain their independence. The best way to learn more about how our communities help seniors thrive is by scheduling a private tour. Contact us today to get started.

How to Avoid Caregiver Overload over the Holidays

How to Avoid Caregiver Overload over the Holidays

The holidays are often the busiest time of year. The weeks are packed with parties, family functions, and other festive activities. Despite having a fuller schedule, many people look forward to the season. They are excited to catch up with friends, spend time with family, and make memories. Caregivers for senior loved ones might view the holidays a little differently.

Family caregivers usually have a lot on their plate. They often need to balance their personal responsibilities and their loved one’s needs. Many also have careers, children, and relationships to manage.

When caregivers take on too many additional responsibilities, especially during the holidays, they increase the risk for burnout. Here are a few tips to avoid caregiver overload over the holidays.

3 Ways to Avoid Caregiver Overload

  1. Set realistic expectations.

Taking care of a loved one requires a lot of time and energy. It’s important to remember this when making plans. Being realistic about your time can help you avoid making commitments you can’t keep or find overwhelming. You may even need to change a few traditions to accommodate your loved one’s needs. For example, if you always host the holiday dinner, you might have to opt out this year to reserve your energy.

  1. Make yourself a priority.

Saying no doesn’t always come easy to caregivers. They are used to taking care of other’s needs and are often first to lend a hand. It’s not uncommon for them to put their personal needs on the backburner. However, not taking care of yourself puts your health at risk and can affect your ability to care for your senior loved one. Make sure to exercise daily, eat healthy, and get a good night’s rest.

  1. Take advantage of respite care.

Another way to avoid caregiver overload during the holidays is using respite care services. Respite care gives caregivers temporary relief by taking over their caregiving responsibilities. This service allows caregivers to rest and recharge, finish up holiday shopping, or take a vacation without worrying about their loved ones. Respite care can be provided at a senior living community, like Heritage Senior Communities, or in your loved one’s home.

Caring for a Senior Loved One during the Holidays

Caring for a senior loved one can be stressful at times, and the added pressures of the holiday season can make it overwhelming. Caregivers deserve to celebrate the holidays and enjoy time with their loved ones like everyone else. By setting realistic expectations, making your health a priority, and taking advantage of local respite care services, you can avoid caregiver overload.

Respite Care at Heritage Senior Communities

If you are struggling with caregiver overload beyond the holiday season, you may want to explore senior living communities. There are a variety of options available to suit your loved one’s needs. Heritage Senior Communities, for example, offers Assisted Living, Independent Senior Living, Specialized Dementia Care, and Respite Care.

If you are interested in learning more about respite care or would like to take a private tour, please contact the Heritage Senior Community nearest you!