5 Stress Remedies for Caregivers

5 Stress Remedies for Caregivers

Anyone who has ever been a caregiver knows that it is a stressful job. Women who are caregivers are especially likely to experience stress.

Symptoms of stress include mood swings, social withdrawal, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. And stress can lead to serious health risks, including high blood pressure and anxiety.

Here are a few natural stress-management techniques you can use to lower the amount of stress in your daily life.

5 Ways to Manage Caregiver Stress


  1. Get enough sleep at night.

The stress of caregiving may cause you to lie awake at night worrying about your loved one and your to-do list. Unfortunately, this only increases stress and fatigue.

For a good night’s sleep, it’s important to practice good “sleep hygiene.”

  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon.
  • Limit screen time, such as using tablets or watching television, beginning a few hours before bed.
  • Get plenty of natural light during the day and keep your bedroom dark at night.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillows.

Many people find that journaling also helps with the anxious thoughts that keep them awake.

  1. Practice thoughtful stress management.

Meditation, controlled breathing, and mindfulness may reduce stress by helping you focus scattered thoughts. These activities also can reduce certain symptoms of stress, such as rapid heart rate and muscle tension.

Set aside time every day to practice slow, deep breathing. Concentrate on a single thing in the room, like a spot on the wall. You might also close your eyes and focus on a sensation in your body, such as your feet against the floor.

You can also try one of the many free apps that can help guide you through relaxation techniques.

  1. Incorporate exercise into your routine.

When you’re mentally and physically exhausted from caregiving, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. However, exercise can help reduce stress, improve mood, and even boost your energy.

Just about any type of exercise can help, whether it’s a walk around your neighborhood, a water aerobics class, bicycling, or yoga. If you do not exercise already, talk to your doctor about how to start. It’s important to start slow and gradually build up your fitness level.

  1. Build a social network.

We tend to isolate ourselves from others during difficult times, but it’s important to reach out for support. Not only can you ask others to help care for your loved one, but social contact itself can relieve stress.

Calling a relative or going out for coffee with a friend can distract you from the things that cause stress and give you the support you need. If you can laugh about something together, even better—laughter also helps reduce stress.

  1. Take advantage of respite care.

A short-term respite stay at a senior living community can provide a loved one with an opportunity for socialization, while also giving the caregiver a break. Most senior living communities welcome respite stays of a few days or a few weeks.

There is help for caregiver stress.

When managing the stress of caring for a loved one, it is important not to neglect your own needs. If you believe that stress is seriously affecting your health, talk about it with your physician. He or she can help you find other ways to manage stress and stay healthy.

Healthy New Years Resolutions for Caregivers to Make in 2018

Healthy New Years Resolutions for Caregivers to Make in 2018

Caregivers for older adults are the unsung heroes of families all across the country. They give their time, energy, and love to their family’s elders every day. Unfortunately, this commitment to a senior loved one may cause them to experience problems of their own. They often neglect their physical and mental health, which can result in increased stress, depression, and an overall weaker immune system.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of healthy New Year’s resolutions for family caregivers to make as we head into 2018.

5 Healthy New Years Resolutions for Caregivers in 2018

The coming new year gives each of us an opportunity for change and renewal. This applies to caregivers as much as anyone. Here are five New Year’s resolutions caregivers can make to improve their own quality of life in 2018.

  1. Ask For Help

No matter how rewarding an endeavor it is, caring for an older adult is a big responsibility filled with stress and hard work. That’s why it’s imperative caregivers ask for and receive help from other friends and family members. Resolve to ask for help consistently in the new year or to take advantage of respite care at a senior living community.

  1. Practice Stress Management Techniques

One of the most common struggles caregivers experience is the inordinate level of stress that often accompanies their responsibilities. Finding positive ways to manage this stress should be one of every caregiver’s top priorities. Resolve to learn and practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation, guided imagery, or yoga.

  1. Practice Proper Self-Care

Just like anyone else, caregivers need to tend to their own well-being before they can be of assistance to others. Let 2018 mark a new era in your self-care habits. Resolve to get adequate amounts of sleep, exercise, and nutrition this year so you can begin to restore your own health and wellness.

  1. Explore Senior Living Options

We know the idea of moving a senior loved one into an assisted living community is difficult for some caregivers to consider. You might be surprised, however, at the high quality of life it provides to the older adult and to the family. Make early 2018 the time you begin to visit senior living communities and learn more about what they have to offer.

  1. Enrich Your Personal Life by Pursuing Your Own Interests

Our fifth and final tip is one that caregivers often struggle the most with. That is, to resolve to enrich your own life in 2018 by reconnecting with former hobbies and interests or establishing new ones. It can help to renew your spirit and reduce your stress. Both of which make you a better caregiver for your loved one.

The team at Heritage Senior Living hopes this information serves to encourage and inspire you. We also hope you’ll return to our Senior Care Blog often for more tips on aging well.

Tips to Avoid the Holiday Blues When You are a Family Caregiver

Tips to Avoid the Holiday Blues When You are a Family Caregiver

Judging from movies, TV commercials and the lyrics to popular carols, there’s no happier time than the holidays. The season is filled with nonstop cheer as people attend parties, create wonderful memories, and experience a generosity of spirit and goodwill that exists no other time of year.

However, some experts—and many caregivers—paint a different picture. While it’s definitely a joyful time of year, it is not unusual for caregivers to experience a bout of the holiday blues.

Family Caregivers are Especially Vulnerable to the Holiday Blues

Family caregivers are already some of America’s overworked people. For those who care for a spouse or a partner, an average of almost 45 hours per week is spent providing unpaid care. That’s the equivalent of a full-time job!

The work they perform is vital but it can cause caregivers to feel overwhelmed with their daily responsibilities. When the holiday season starts up and those responsibilities multiply, the added stress can cause anxiety or depression… otherwise known as ‘the holiday blues’.

Tips for Avoiding the Holiday Blues

If you’re a family caregiver, you’ll be glad to know that there are ways to reduce the chances of feeling down during the holiday season. Here are five steps you can take.

  1. Acknowledge Your Emotions

First, you can’t combat the holiday blues if you’re not mindful of your own emotions. Family caregivers may experience a range of feelings during the holidays, including sadness, fear and frustration. Be open and honest with yourself and admit the emotions you’re feeling.

  1. Know the Signs of Caregiver Burnout

As a family caregiver, you’re already giving much of yourself to your role. During the holidays, you’re apt to try and give even more—cooking, entertaining, and shopping. Don’t let the stress build to a point where you become vulnerable to burnout. The signs include low energy, emotional and physical exhaustion, or a feeling of mental ‘numbness.’

  1. Make Time for Yourself

No matter how hectic your schedule becomes, try and carve out some time for a bit of light to moderate physical exercise. Yoga, walking, dancing, or anything that gets your heart rate up just a bit will improve your mood and reduce stress levels. If you’re starting a new exercise routine, be sure and check with your doctor first.

  1. Stay in the Moment

One way to stay balanced is to keep your mind in the moment.

Concentrate on the task at hand and try not to let your mind wander. Stay positive and focus on all that you’re able to accomplish, letting go of what you can’t control or are unable to do.

  1. Find Your Stress Reliever

Each of us has our own way of relieving stress. Only you know what works for you, so find your stress busters and use them.

Heritage Senior Communities Supports Caregivers All Year ‘Round

Many people feel blue during the holidays, but family caregivers are especially in need of support this time of year. One final tip is to ask for help. From the online resources we provide to respite care services designed to give families a break, there are a number of ways we stand behind caregivers like you.

If you’d like to learn more about short-term stays or respite care, please call us today.

How to Prepare a Senior’s Home for a Michigan Winter

How to Prepare a Senior’s Home for a Michigan Winter

As strikingly beautiful as they are, winters in Michigan can also be very difficult for residents. This is especially true of the state’s senior population, for whom the snow, ice, and brutal cold of a Great Lakes winter can be dangerous. Preparing a senior’s home for winter is key.

Tips to Prepare a Senior’s Home Before Winter

If you have a parent, grandparent, or other senior loved one who lives in Michigan, you’ll want to take every precaution you can to protect them for the frigid winter months ahead.

These guidelines can help ensure your senior loved ones enjoy the beauty of a Michigan winter without incident.

  1. Driveway. Have a plan in place to keep the driveway and walkways clear of ice and snow throughout the winter months. Include plans for frequent layers of salt for extra traction.
  2. Furnace. Hire a professional to test the furnace and make any necessary repairs for optimum heat and efficiency. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one danger that can be deadly if not detected and corrected. Make sure the furnace filter is also replaced.
  3. Space Heaters. If your older loved one uses space heaters during the winter, make sure they’re functioning properly and don’t pose a fire risk. Also, investigate to be certain they’re placed at least a few feet away from any materials that might catch fire. Read the manufacturer’s instructions if you haven’t already.
  4. Supplies. Purchase backup supplies of food, clean water, and other necessities. Depending on your older loved one’s living situation, this might include flashlights, blankets, batteries, extra doses of any medications, and an emergency cell phone. Don’t forget extra food for Fido if the senior has a pet!
  5. Vehicle. Make sure your senior family member’s vehicle is prepared for winter. This means checking the tires, brakes, fluids, and heater. Fall is also an ideal time for new windshield wipers and fresh anti-freeze. And investing in an auto club membership might be a good idea.
  6. Cover Drafts. Using plastic sealant on large windows and caulking drafty door frames can also help. You’ll simultaneously warm your senior loved one’s home and reduce their heating bill.
  7. Pipes. Last but certainly not least, make sure that the pipes are protected against freezing during the winter months. You can find detailed instructions on how to accomplish this right here.

With communities across the Great Lake state, Heritage is a leading provider of senior living in Michigan. Caregivers at our family-owned company have been welcoming Michigan seniors for four generations.

We hope you’ll contact us if you ever need more information or wish to arrange an inperson tour of one of our communities.



How to Help a Senior Loved One Transition to Assisted Living

How to Help a Senior Loved One Transition to Assisted Living

One of the best ways to help a loved one transition to assisted living may be by reflecting back on your own memories. What was it like to be ill or immobilized by an injury? What was it like to leave your kids when you dropped them off at kindergarten on the first day? How did you feel moving away from friends or family?

Your answers may help increase empathy for the transition that your Mom or Dad is about to make. Keeping your experiences in mind and following these suggestions can make the transition go a little more smoothly.

Supporting a Senior’s Transition to Assisted Living

Tour the senior living community

Visiting the new community may sound obvious, but it is vital to have sufficient opportunities to see what the community is really like, experience how the caregivers interact with residents and develop familiarity with the place. During the visits, encourage Mom or Dad to ask questions, voice concerns to you, and make some connections with staff and residents.

Once you’ve decided on a community, visit it a few more times with your senior loved one. Participate in activities and events. Stay for lunch or dinner. It can help make the new community feel more like home.

Consider emotions

No matter how much we like the new place, moving may create a feeling of loss. Adjustment takes time, and most people feel sad, angry or depressed at various stages after they’ve made a big move. That happens to eight-year-olds as well as eighty-year-olds.

Love and listening, support and faith, humor and reminiscing can go a long way to providing comfort at those times. Exercising kindness and compassion may help to reduce the fear.

Consider reasoning and logic

Remember why the decision to move was made. Write it down and post it for yourself and your loved one. Refer to it when you need to remind yourself why you are doing this.

It might feel like the wrong decision when the emotions of moving day take over, but “this too shall pass.” Try to focus your mind on how senior living communities improve the quality of life for older adults.

Create a tiny escape clause

If possible, provide a minor “out”, so the older person doesn’t feel trapped. For example, “Mom, if this doesn’t work, maybe we can make some adjustments. But let’s really give this an A+ honest effort. This is our best choice.”

If possible, help the senior make the move before putting their house up for sale. It can take some of the stress and fear out of the equation if you do.

Get the family involved

Contact family and friends who may be willing visit your loved one at the new community. Consider setting up a schedule for the first few weeks. This helps ensure a steady stream of friendly faces during the toughest days of the transition.

Establish some routines

Activities that build familiarity can be helpful to reduce transition stress. Suggest to your loved one that they start a routine, such as eating in the dining area or taking a walk at the same time each day. That will make it easier for staff and residents to see them and develop relationships.

Make it personal

Who am I now? Who was I? Who do I want to be?

Finding those answers are important to our identity and self-confidence at any stage of life. So as much as possible, help your parent identify their unique qualities and potential contributions, even though they may have limitations now.

Also, provide your Mom or Dad with items that remind them of different stages of their life. Familiar personal possessions and furnishings may be more comforting than buying all new furniture for the move.

Advocate for your loved one

Sometimes it’s little rules or small problems that can seem like a very big deal to a senior who recently relocated. Although the staff may be busy, most people want new residents to feel comfortable and at home in their new surroundings. Don’t be concerned about speaking up and acting as your loved one’s advocate. Resolving those issues can help to make an aging loved one feel safe and secure.

Trust your intuition

Intuition is that gut feeling that tells you something is wrong. Listen to it. Ask questions of yourself and respond in writing to generate deeper answers. Talk about it with others. The problem could be an old fear rearing its head or it could be a something that requires immediate action. Most of our parents tried to heed those feelings when they raised us. Now it’s our turn.

Visit Heritage Senior Communities to Learn More

At Heritage Senior Communities, we welcome you and your loved one to visit us. Our team will help provide support to make the transition comfortable for your mom or dad. Call us and schedule a time!


What to Consider Before Moving a Parent in with You

What to Consider Before Moving a Parent in with You

The news these days is full of stories about boomerang kids who leave the nest but then return home to live with parents. Just as headline-worthy is the opposite of that trend: parents moving in with their adult children.

When an older parent moves in with their adult child, a whole new family dynamic is created. It’s a wonderful opportunity for grandkids to get to know their grandparents and for everyone to build closer bonds. It can also save the caregiver a lot of time and energy not having to drive so much to check in on parents.

Considerations to Ponder Before Making the Change

There’s a flipside to everything, of course. And there are definitely some things to consider before moving a parent in with you.

Here are some of the most common issues experienced by people who’ve already traveled down this road.

Space Requirements

Your home may work for you now but if your mother or father moves in, your space needs will change dramatically. There are a variety of solutions to this problem, including adding a master suite.

The average cost of a mid-range master suite addition in Michigan was $115,810 in 2016. Obviously, this expense must be carefully considered by you and your spouse. A parent may –or may not— be able to help with the cost of remodeling, so it’s a solution the whole family should discuss together.

Some homes are simply too small to accommodate one more adult. A family might end up moving to a larger home.

Safety Concerns

Even if you have space for your aging parent in your home, you may need to make a few modifications. Bathrooms are a prime area of focus when a parent moves in. At the very least, safety features like grab bars and a non-step shower should be installed. Some older adults will need modified toilets. You’ll want to complete a safety audit of your home in order to determine exactly what upgrades you’ll need to make.

Privacy Issues

You should also consider privacy when making a decision.

Here’s where the master suite comes in again. Sometimes called ‘in-law suites’, these usually include a bedroom, bathroom, sitting area, and sometimes an efficiency or full kitchen. This allows your senior loved one to maintain privacy and independence and to feel that they aren’t placing too much of a burden on you and your family.

Daily Living

Finally, think about how your days will go with a parent now living with you.

  • Will you divide chores?
  • Will you eat together?
  • Who controls the TV?
  • What about pets?
  • Will you socialize together?
  • Will you take vacations together?
  • How will you manage bills?
  • What if you need to go away?
  • What will your parent(s) do all day?
  • How will you handle special dietary needs?
  • Will they hire a home care aide while you’re at work?
  • What happens if they start telling your kids what to do?

Short-Term Respite at Heritage Senior Living Communities

Respite care can help when your family wants some private time or if you will be taking a vacation. Your senior loved one can stay at an assisted living community on a short-term basis.

Call or stop by one of our Michigan and Indiana communities for a tour and to have all of your questions about respite care and assisted living answered!