Resources to Support Family Caregivers

November is National Family Caregiver Month, a month dedicated to providing support and raising awareness for the 66 million Americans who are providing care for ill, disabled or aging relatives.

If you are caring for a senior loved one in Michigan, you know that this job can be both rewarding and demanding. But you may not be aware that helping an older adult with daily-living tasks could be taking a serious toll on your health and relationships.

Caregiving can be harmful to your health

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, family caregivers report more health issues and seem to suffer from a lowered immunity. About 10 % report that assisting a loved one with hygiene, meals, medications, errands and housecleaning has caused their own health to decline. A stunning 40-70% of caregivers report symptoms of depression.

Most family caregivers devote about 20 hours a week to their loved ones in need.  Research shows that adults who spend more than a few hours a week caring for others are more likely to suffer from physical illness and mental strain. They are also less likely to visit a doctor, to exercise and to eat a balanced diet.

But there is good news. Studies confirm that that education, access to resources and community support can relieve a lot of the stress and strain of caring for an aging parent, whether they are in the home or in an assisted-living community.  

Resources for healthy caregiving

These websites can help you locate the information, resources and services that will support you as a caregiver.

  • AARP Home and Family Caregiving: An educational resource where caregivers can learn strategies for juggling work and caregiving, dealing with stress and living healthier lives. This is also home to a busy online community where you can talk with other caregivers and ask experts for advice.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver Center: If you are providing Alzheimer’s or dementia care, this is a great resource for support. You can talk to others in the caregiver discussion boards and access materials that may ease your caregiving duties.  This website also offers a Community Resource Finder that can help you locate events, services and support options in the Great Lakes State.  
  • Michigan Aging and Adult Services: These government agency websites offer links to educational resources, support groups and workshops that can make caregiving less stressful. You can also find information about adult-day care and enrichment programs, assistance with in-home care and services like home-delivered meals.
  • The National Caregiver’s Library: A storehouse of information covering every aspect of caregiving. This helpful resource includes a section dedicated to educating employers of caregivers.
  • Video Caregiving: An online library of informative mini-documentaries where people share their stories and offer informative tips to support caregivers.

Please help us spread the word about National Family Caregiving Month by sharing this article with your personal network of family and friends!

 

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Best Pets for Older Adults in Michigan

Best Pets for Older Adults in Michigan

Pets for Michigan Seniors

By now we’ve all read about the therapeutic value a furry friend can bring to older adults and those living with chronic illnesses. Organizations like ReCHAI have demonstrated just how much pets can do to help reduce stress, promote mobility and reduce loneliness in older adults.

So what kinds of pet should you consider for the Michigan senior you love?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Dogs can help your loved one get up and moving. They promote mobility and also help to improve social interaction. After a few laps around the neighborhood, a dog will likely have made a few new friends. Studies have shown have a dog to care for and walk can also help decrease blood pressure and rates of depression. While a puppy might be a little too high energy for an older adult, your local shelter will likely have more middle-aged dogs looking for a good home.
  • Cats are ideal companions for older adults who live in apartments or condos with more limited space. They typically need less care and can adapt to a smaller environment.
  • Birds aren’t always thought of as pets for seniors. If you visit an assisted living community or a dementia care residence, however, you may find yourself reconsidering that idea. Many have aviaries for residents to interact with every day. Watching and listening to birds has been found to reduce for seniors and those living with dementia.
  • Fish can also be great pets for helping to reduce anxiety. Just kicking back and watching fish swim around can be very relaxing. They are also low maintenance and less expensive to feed and maintain than other types of pets.

Choosing the Right Pet for a Senior

There are a few additional things to consider in your search for a pet for a Michigan senior loved one. They include:

  • Be sure to take in to account all of the costs of a pet from food expenses to veterinary care and grooming.
  • How much care a pet requires is an important consideration. Can your aging loved one safely walk a dog in the ice and snow?
  • Depending upon where your senior loved one lives, space and association restrictions need to be consider.

Finally, consider talking with a veterinarian in your area to see what suggestions they have. They likely see older adults and their pets every day and can offer advice.

Related Stories:

Dogs for Depression: How Pets Benefit Older Adults

 

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