Active Care In Home Senior Services
Learning how to cope with the effects of the increasing needs of your loved one will help you deal with your own stress and anxiety. The Alzheimer's Association offers the following suggestions for family caregivers:
•Take one day at a time, but prepare for the future. •Recognize which problems you can do something about and which are beyond you or anyone’s control. •Be realistic about your abilities and how much you can do. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Don’t expect to accomplish all the things you were able to do before you became a caregiver. •Be realistic about your loved one’s changing abilities. Enjoy the memories of what you did in the past, but accept that the person has different needs, abilities and interests now. Your relationship will be different than it was before, but it still can be meaningful and rewarding for both of you. •Be forgiving of yourself if things don’t go just right—your loved one may quickly forget an oversight or mishap. •Find out what resources are available and use them. Ask family and friends to help, and accept their help when offered. If you think other family members aren’t helping as much as they could, talk to them honestly. •Be good to yourself. Remember that you deserve some pleasure; take time to see a movie or visit with friends. •Keep your sense of humor. •Find ways to express your feelings. Find a friend you can talk to or attend a sup- port group meeting.
(Adapted from “Especially for the Alzheimer Caregiver” from the Alzheimer’s Association.)
FRIENDS AND RELATIVES
How Can You Help a Caregiver?
The Chicago-based Alzheimer’s Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving in Bethesda, Maryland recently studied more than 1500 family members caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Their report, “Who Cares? Families Caring for Persons With Alzheimer’s Disease,” reveals that 40 percent of Alzheimer caregivers provide most or all of the care themselves.
Friends, neighbors and church members often want to help in these situations, but don’t know where to start. Consider the following approaches:
•Bring dinner. Think nourishment, not elegance. A wholesome meal that includes a casserole, fresh vegetable or salad and light dessert is always a welcome change to a steady diet of fast food or frozen dinners. •Write a note. Jot a note of support and encouragement to help a harried care-giver maintain her connection to the outside world. •Buy a simple but heartfelt gift. Would the caregiver enjoy a bubble bath, scented candle, book of poetry, potted plant for the kitchen window or tickets to a movie (while a friend stays with the elder)? Perhaps the caregiver would appreciate a small gift or service for the older person-—especially when money is tight. Consider arranging a manicure or pedicure, hair styling or massage. •Take time to listen. Call or visit the caregiver at least once or twice a month. Choose times when the older person is likely to be resting or napping. Bring some fresh muffins or bagels, a carafe of coffee or tea and a sympathetic ear. •Provide some routine home maintenance. Consider spending one or two afternoons a month raking leaves, pulling weeds or cutting grass for the family. Don’t forget the caregiver’s home when shoveling show.•Offer to provide respite. When is the last time the caregiver saw her doctor or dentist, had her hair styled or attended church services? Set aside two to four hours per week to stay with the elder while the caregiver takes care of errands and personal business. •Provide a transportation alternative. According to “Who Cares?” most care-givers are women and one in three has young children or grandchildren living at home. In addition to relinquishing their own hobbies and vacations, many of these caregivers are forced to withdraw their children from extracurricular activities because they can’t transport them to and from dance lessons or soccer fields. Offer to drive the children to scheduled activities so the family can maintain its routine during the elder’s illness. •Remember the caregiver and care recipient in prayer. Keep a list of people in need and remember them during meal time and evening prayers. Add the names of the older person and his or her caregivers in a prayer line.
(Adapted from “Parent Care Advisor”, March 1999.)
Alternatives to Support Groups
Support groups are a great way for caregivers and their families to share their experiences with other people. However, they are not always available or practical for the at-home caregiver. Parent Care Advisor suggests that caregivers consider these alternatives to support groups.
If support groups aren’t always the best answer for family caregivers, what other programs can caregivers consider? Lisa P. Gwyther, assistant clinical professor at Duke University Medical Center, director of the Duke Family Support Program and a speaker at the Eighth National Alzheimer’s Disease Education Conference suggests several possibilities: •Diaries and documentaries. Care-givers often identify with and learn from documentaries and first-person narratives about dementia care, such as the published diary of a spousal caregiver, she says. Contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association for videos and books. We offer a brief list of helpful books:
36 Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease, Related Dementing Illnesses, and Memory Loss in Later Life. Third Revised Edition. Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins, Baltimore, MD. Johns Hopkins Press, 1999.
How to Care for Aging Parents: A Complete Guide. Virginia Morris, New York, NY. Workman, 1996.
Your Best is Good Enough—Aging Parents and Your Emotions. Vivian Greenberg, New York, NY. Lexington Books, 1989.
•Internet-based support. E-mail and chat rooms represent attractive options for younger caregivers who are comfortable with computers.
(Adapted from “Parent Care Advisor”, August 1999.)
Private care managers are frequently listed in the yellow pages under Social Services, Social Workers, Aging Services, Senior Citizen Services and Home Health Organizations.
(Adapted from the American Association of Retired Person’s “Miles Away and Still Caring” , © 1994)
RESOURCES FOR CAREGIVERS
919 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 1000
For nearest chapter, consult their
Publications, services and programs.
American Association of Retired Persons
Publications for caregivers.
Children of Aging Parents
1609 Woodbourne Rd., Ste 302-A
Information and referrals for caregivers of older people.
National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
For a fee–national list of professionals who care for elderly persons.
Active Care In-Home Services
850 Shasta Ave.
Morro Bay Ca. 93442
(805) 772-7744 (phone)
(805) 772-7149 (fax)
Kind, Caring, In-Home Non-medical Custodial Care
Assessments, CNAs, Home health aides, Caregivers
Personal Aides & Care management,