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Compassion Fatigue

Posted on March 1, 2018 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (68486)
How to Recognize and Prevent Compassion Fatigue There are many red flags that point to the onset of burnout and especially compassion fatigue, but caregivers must know what signs to look for and be able to detect them in their own behavior in order to act on them. Both the information and self-awareness are key to preventing long-lasting emotional issues and even stress-related physical illness. Being proactive is one of the best ways to combat compassion fatigue or at least prevent it from getting out of hand, urges Valentin. Warning Signs of Compassion Fatigue Feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and drained Avoidance and not wanting to be around your loved one (choosing to work late, daydreaming about no longer having to care for them, etc.) A decrease in patience and tolerance Angry outbursts that are uncharacteristic of your behavior Cynicism and hopelessness Heightened anxiety Impaired ability to make care decisions If you begin noticing any of these signs, the next step is to make yourself a priority and tend to, at the very least, some of your needs. Remember that compassion fatigue is not black and whit it is a continuum. Each caregiver has different limits, and there are times throughout the caregiving journey where ones susceptibility to stress will increase and decrease. Many will experience these warning signs from time to time. These feelings and behaviors are undesirable but common for a demographic that is so overworked and has so few resources available. When the list above begins to describe daily life rather than fleeting behavior on a bad day, it is absolutely time to act. (


Posted on February 22, 2018 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (5409)
Like most legal undertakings, setting up and enforcing power of attorney (POA) documents can be a confusing process. Yet, these essential tools can help aging adults and their families gain peace of mind regarding future care. Geriatric care manager, Buckley Fricker, JD, explains what powers and limitations POA documents can give. The Two Types of POA POA documents allow a person (the principal) to decide in advance whom they trust and want to act on their behalf if they become incapable of making decisions for themselves. The person who acts on behalf of the principal is called the agent. From there, it is important to distinguish between the two main types of POA: medical and financial. A medical POA (also known as healthcare POA) gives a trustworthy friend or family member (the agent) the ability to make decisions about the care the principal receives if they are incapacitated. A financial POA gives an agent the ability to make financial decisions on behalf of the principal. It is common to appoint one person to act as an agent for both financial and healthcare decisions, but in some cases it may be wise to separate the two. (


Posted on July 11, 2017 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (458)
When a person succumbs to any form of dementia, it is hard on family and friends. It is difficult to see the diminished capacity of a loved one and the unbearable frustration it brings. However, one of the worst things we have to cope with is the fact that this person has a flawed memory, and this flawed memory can cause them to tell others terrible things about us, simply because their brain isn't working correctly. No matter how far-fetched their stories and accusations may be, to them, what they are saying is true. Have you ever looked for something you are sure you left in a particular spot and found it missing? Most of us have. Sometimes, we even wonder if someone in the family moved the object, since we are so sure we left it in that spot. Later, we find the missing object, and then it immediately clicks when and why we moved it. Hopefully, we did not actually confront a family member for "messing with our stuff," and our minds are presumably normal. Imagine someone who has diminished short-term memory capacity; the person places an object somewhere, and then wanders off to do something. Later, this person cannot find what he or she is looking for. Anxiety, frustration and a sense of loss accompany most dementias. Add paranoia to the list, and you have got a scenario where the elder feels vulnerable and taken advantage of. This causes them to lean toward thinking people are stealing their things. Unfortunately, there are many instances where people have taken advantage of someone with diminished mental capacity. This is a terrible fact of life. However, there are also many instances where the individual specifically asks a caregiver or family member to launder a piece of clothing, repair an object, or purchase something for them using cash they provide, and then they forget that they not only gave permission, they actually requested that the caregiver do this. When they discover an object or money is missing, accusations can fly. Often, these accusations are transient, and the individual eventually forgets the incident. It is hard for the caregiver to forget that he or she has been accused of stealing or harming someone they love, but this is a time when we must remember that the person is sick. A great amount of tolerance and patience is needed in these situations. These and other behaviors are brought on by the disease. However, sometimes we have to protect ourselves. When that happens, make sure you seek proper help and guidance. (Agingcare)

Vacation Season

Posted on June 21, 2017 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (10712)
Everyone needs a vacation now and then to break away from the daily grind and unwind. But as a caregiver, you may wonder how it is possible to get away when someone else relies on you for regular support and assistance. Many family caregivers put their loved ones needs before their own and feel guilty about the thought of taking some time to themselves. Respite is exactly what family caregivers need to recharge their lives and prevent burnout. Making the proper arrangements early on to ensure your loved receives excellent care while you're away will help to alleviate some of these difficult feelings. If you do not have a friend or relative who is able or willing to take over all caregiving duties while you're away, consider that there are other ways to obtain respite care. Two of the most common options, in-home care are explored below. A professional caregiver hired through a home care company is able to provide customized care services to meet a seniors unique needs. An aide can visit for a few hours each day or live in your loved ones home full-time while you are away. Home care is often the best solution for older individuals who are most comfortable in their familiar home environment. Gentle Hearts allow clients to interview individual caregivers before they begin, and encourages families to take advantage of this opportunity. Interview several aides and choose the ones you feel would be a good fit with your loved one. You're not just hiring the company, you're hiring the person.(Aging care)

5 Tips for Caregivers of Seniors with Mesothelioma

Posted on May 31, 2017 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (868)
Caring for a loved one with mesothelioma can be a richly-rewarding experience. But it also can be a daunting responsibility that overwhelms you. For most people, caregiving is not a planned role. It usually comes by chance, often because of a family members sudden misfortune. It may be taken as an act of love, yet it can become physically and emotionally draining. Everyone loses if you let that happen. It may sound selfish, but you have to take care of yourself, too. If you don't, it's hard to be a good caregiver, said Linda Chitwood, who has been her husband's caregiver for more than 10 years. It's like the pilots say on the commercial flights: 'When the oxygen masks drop down, put your own on first, then tend to your loved ones.' Her husband, Lannie Chitwood, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2007. He's undergone aggressive surgery that has helped him survive considerably longer than most mesothelioma patients, but there has been a myriad of ups and downs since then. Linda wrote Fear 2 Faith: Our Journey Through Mesothelioma, which chronicles her caregiver experience. It contains heartwarming and heartbreaking stories. She emphasizes that caregivers should not lose sight of their own lives while caring for a loved one. Sometimes, I think caregivers are the forgotten casualty in all this, she said. Caregiving can be terribly isolating if you're not careful. As a mesothelioma caregiver ( ) , you may be dealing with medical and legal professionals, remembering treatments and medications, and managing doctor appointments and financial affairs. You will be providing emotional support and health monitoring. You may be helping with everyday chores. At some point, you may be feeding and bathing the patient. Trying to maintain your own life may be difficult, but it is important, she emphasizes. To improve patient care, here a five things to remember: 1. Ask for help. Let other family members and friends give you time away to recharge. Too often a caregiver or spouse tries to do everything, and it becomes overwhelming. Do not try to do it alone. 2. Take a walk every day, either alone or with friends. Make time to get some kind of exercise daily. 3. Join a support group. It can feel isolating being a caregiver, especially with a rare disease such as mesothelioma. It is hard to find answers to questions you will have. Talking to others dealing with the same issues can be very helpful. The Mesothelioma Center has a monthly support group that meets online or over the phone. 4. Talk to professionals. Because caregivers typically don't have medical or nursing degrees, talk to people who do for tips. It will help you learn how to manage your patient's symptoms, pain and safety. 5. Take good care of yourself, too, physically and mentally. Eat right, get your rest, and do not isolate yourself. Find the time to do it all. Dealing with an uncertain future can be difficult. Most people are ill-prepared for the role of caregiver, but they are capable of adapting. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer most often caused by a long-ago occupational exposure to asbestos. It may start with a diagnosis of the patient, but it soon engulfs the entire family. Caregiving becomes critical quickly in the process. There is no definitive cure for mesothelioma, and the typical diagnosis is 9-18 months. Recent treatment advances, though, at specialty centers have allowed survivors to live two, three or five years beyond their life expectancy, making the caregiver role more critical than ever. Take care of yourself. Tim Povtak is a content writer for The Mesothelioma Center and, an informational source for mesothelioma patients and families.

Paying for Home Care

Posted on May 31, 2017 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (12401)
Private pay or self-pay for home care services is the most widely accepted form of payment due to no other available reimbursement sources. It simply means that services are contracted by an individual or family based on their preferences and paid for out of pocket. Most home care services that are needed to assist with activities of daily living are considered non-skilled care. Medicare and other private health insurances will not reimburse for non-skilled home care services leaving private pay as the only payment option. Many elderly privately pay for caregivers to help with personal care, meal preparation, medications, ambulation, housekeeping, transportation and companionship. Hiring caregivers through reputable licensed agencies may enable an elderly person to age in place safely at home. Long Term Care Insurance will cover most home care services that are provided by licensed home care agencies, but policies vary greatly on amount of and extent of coverage depending on your specific plan. Most policies reimburse for skilled nursing and rehab services in addition to custodial care for help with activities of daily living such as personal care, meal preparation and medication reminders. In addition to home care and nursing homes, some policies cover adult day care and respite care to give families a break from caregiver duties. More about Long Term Care Insurance. Medicare will pay for limited home care when the patient requires skilled services such as Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy or Speech Therapy and is considered home bound. The focus of Medicare home health services is rehabilitation and is short-term often for a few weeks following a hospitalization or discharge from another acute care facility. Skilled care visits are covered by Medicare when scheduled by the healthcare professional on an intermittent basis under the direction of a physician. On the contrary, home care scheduled for blocks or periods of time to help with daily activities including personal care, meal preparation, medications, ambulation, housekeeping, transportation and companionship are not covered by Medicare. These private duty types of custodial services provided by nurse assistants, homemakers and companions are not skilled and therefore not reimbursed through Medicare. Medicaid will cover home care services with limitations that vary from state to state. Medicaid reimburses for home care services through what are known as Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) "waiver" programs. Eligibility for the Medicaid waiver programs are twofold based on financial requirements and the need for care. The need for care must be extensive enough that without in-home services, he or she would have to move into a nursing home. HCBS waiver programs may provide skilled care similar to Medicare but also and unlike Medicare may provide personal care services to help with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing and dressing. Medicaid recipients can also get help with homemaker, transportation, meal delivery and adult daycare services. The Veteran Aid and Attendance benefit provides money to those who need assistance performing everyday tasks. This extra monthly pension is used to cover the costs of in-home care. Usually financial restrictions apply, however, many can qualify when they have large medical expenses for which they do not receive reimbursement. Aid and Attendance benefits are available to veterans who served at least 90 days, with at least one day during wartime. The veteran does not have to have service-related disabilities to qualify and surviving spouses are eligible. Caregivers must be needed to assist veterans at home with activities of daily living such as bathing, feeding, and dressing and also individuals who are bedridden, blind, or residing in a nursing home. (care pathways)

Modifying your doorways

Posted on April 22, 2017 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (17890)
An alternative to using or modifying existing steps to the main entrance is installing a wide, sturdy ramp with handrails and a toe board that can accommodate a standard or power wheelchair. A U-shaped ramp may allow installation of a larger ramp in a smaller area. Premade portable or threshold ramps are low-cost alternatives to permanent modifications and can be useful in cases where the threshold into the home is only a few inches high. A passenger or platform lift may be a good option for stilted or multi-level homes where installing an outdoor ramp is not feasible. Lift platforms can be open, feature a canopy, or be entirely enclosed to protect you from the elements. Permanent projects like this may require a building permit. Outdoor Paths All paths to and from the car, sidewalk, and street should be at least 36 inches wide, free of hazards and slip resistant. Anti-slip paint, grit tape, or safety treads can be applied to these areas to help prevent accidents. If you live in a region that is prone to snow and ice, be sure to have a salt company service the driveway, entrances and pathways. Keep salt in a handy container near the main entrance in order to easily de-ice the entrance and front path as needed. Pathways to the entry should be assessed for damage. Tree roots, ice, and shifting earth can have a dramatic impact on the level surface of a driveway or walkway. Repairing the underlying problem is important, but clearly marking these hazards can at least help to draw attention to these areas. Ensure landscape is regularly maintained to keep shrubs and trees trimmed on both sides of all pathways. Lighting along paths is an addition that enhances the safety and convenience of coming and going at night. Motion-sensor lights are an excellent option for illuminating pathways and the main door. Meet with a Specialist These are baseline rule for the main entrance to a home and the walkways around it, but each resident has his or her own needs and concerns regarding aging in place. In order to devise a customized solution for your residence, consult with a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist and a licensed contractor to see what options are available to help you remain in your home.(aging care)

Look out for Scammers

Posted on April 1, 2017 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (7236)
Even though we are living the age of the data breach and other online scams, dishonest people will still use old fashioned techniques to steal from you. This is due to the simple fact that these methods still work. One of these old-school tactics is the door-to-door scam. In a door-to-door scam, the fraudster knocks on your door and typically offers a product or service, but their primary goal is to steal from you. They will typically do this by convincing you to pay cash up-front for a service that is never rendered, or distracting you while an accomplice ransacks your home. These people often target seniors because Baby Boomers were raised to be courteous and trusting???the perfect characteristics for con artists to exploit. Rather than refusing to answer the door for a stranger or just saying no to a product or service, many elders allow scammers to get their foot in the door (figuratively and sometimes literally) with sales pitches and emotional manipulation because they do not want to be perceived as rude. To help you better understand how these con artists work, take a look at a few prime examples of their work that have been reported to law enforcement. Free Home Security Inspection Typically the scammer knocks on your door and informs you that there has been a string of burglaries in your area. This information, whether it is true or not, evokes fear in your mind and makes you a more vulnerable target. They will then state that, for your protection, their company is offering free home security inspections. They are supposedly offering a solution to help alleviate your fear and protect your valuables, but in reality, they are trying to gain your trust. While conducting the ???inspection,??? the scammer will search your home for areas of vulnerability, mentally catalog the types of valuables in your possession, where they are located and how well they are protected. (

Caregiver Burn out

Posted on March 21, 2017 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (10709)
6 Signs of Caregiver Burnout I just don't feel like talking to or seeing anyone today�??even my friends and family. If you discover that you consistently don't want to interact with people, especially close family and friends, it could be a sign that caring for your elderly loved one is becoming too draining. I used to really enjoy reading mystery novels, but for some reason, even a thrilling �??Whodunit' doesn't seem to hold my interest anymore. If your favorite hobbies and pastimes aren't interesting to you anymore, it may indicate that you need a break from being a caregiver. Sometimes taking care of mom is too much�??I feel like I want to end it all. Thoughts of suicide or hurting your elderly loved one are dangerous warning signs of extreme burnout and probable depression. You should immediately seek help from a mental health professional if you find yourself having violent thoughts. I've been eating weirdly lately. Abnormal eating patterns, whether it's eating too much or not enough might be an indication of extreme stress. I've been sleeping weirdly lately. If you can't seem to fall asleep at night, or have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, you may be feeling the effects of too much caregiving responsibility. It's been several weeks and I can't seem to shake this cold. Stress can wreak havoc with your immune system. Illnesses that last longer than they should are a sign of reduced immune system functioning that could be due to your caregiving duties. (

These are some of the things you should never say to a caregiver

Posted on February 25, 2017 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (4636)
"Why are you having such a hard time being a caregiver?" Usually voiced by someone who has never been a caregiver for an elderly loved one, this question can be very difficult for a caregiver to hear. As Laverty points out, it effectively takes their role of providing care for a loved one, and diminishes it. "Gosh???we haven't seen you in such a long time. Why don't you get out more?" Though it probably comes from a place of love, Laverty points out that this can be an unproductive way to express concern for a friend or family member who is a caregiver. "The truth is that most caregivers do need to get out more, but this is an insensitive way of saying it," she says. "You look really tired. Are you making sure to take care of yourself?" Caregivers generally have a good reason for looking tired and haggard???because they are. "The biggest issue for caregivers is that they tend to sacrifice personal care???it's the first thing that goes," Laverty says. Caregivers look tired because they are not getting enough sleep, they spend their nights worrying and making sure their loved one doesn't wander. But, that doesn't mean that they appreciate having that fact pointed out to them. "Caregiving seems like a burden. You shouldn't have to sacrifice your life for your mother's." Caregiving is hard. That's why so many people, both caregivers and non-caregivers alike, refer to it as a "burden." But, according to Laverty, when a friend or family member likens caregiving to a burden, what they're really telling the caregiver is that they aren't handling the situation properly and that this isn't what they should be doing with their life. "Caregivers get into their role because they started out as loving, caring people trying to do the right thing," she says. "You need to get a ???real' life." As the old saying goes, "you're preaching to the choir." "Every caregiver understands that they need to get a life, have a plan, start making time for themselves," Laverty says. But, telling a caregiver to "get a life" is like telling them that what they're doing now (caring for a loved one) doesn't matter. "Why don't you just put you mother in a nursing home? It would be better for everyone." Laverty says that comments like this can make a caregiver feel like they're not doing a good job taking care of their loved one. The reality is, a nursing home might not be financially feasible, or a caregiver may be trying to keep their loved one at home for as long as possible. Outsiders think they're offering good advice, when they might really just (unintentionally) be making a caregiver feel guilty. "Why do you visit your dad so much? He doesn't even know you." If a caregiver is taking care of someone who has Alzheimer's or another form of dementia and lives in a nursing home, people may ask why they bother to visit someone who doesn't even remember who they are. "People need human contact and love, or they will just shrivel up and die," Laverty says, "Caregivers shouldn't feel stupid for going to visit someone who doesn't recognize them outwardly. As long as they know who their loved one is, that's all that should matter." "Don't feel guilty about???" When you're a caregiver, "guilt just comes with the territory," according to Laverty. Caregivers want to fix everything, to solve every problem, to ease every hurt, when the reality is that no one can do it all. When people tell a caregiver not to feel guilty about something, it can make things worse by bringing that guilt to the forefront of their mind. "Let's not talk about that. Let's talk about something happy and fun." When it comes to your average small talk scenario, caregivers generally don't have a lot of "fun" things to contribute. Laverty says that people need to understand that people taking care of an elderly loved one need to talk about what's going on. Friends and family members of caregivers should take the time to listen to what a caregiver has to say, no matter how "unpleasant," or "unhappy" it is. "You must be so relieved that it's over." When their elderly loved one dies a caregiver is likely to be facing a bunch of mixed up emotions. Relief may be one of those feelings, but Laverty feels that it's probably not productive to point this out to a person who has just lost a parent, spouse, or sibling. "If you diminish the event, you diminish the life and effort of the caregiver," she says.  "When are you going to get over it (a senior's death) and move on?" Grief is an individual process. For some people, processing the death of a loved one will take some time. This is particularly true of caregivers, who've poured a significant amount of time and energy into taking care of the person who has just passed. (