Category: Caregiver Burnout

Alarm Clock

The Risks of Sleep Deprivation in the Elderly & Their Caregivers

Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as people in their 20s, but many elderly people get much less sleep than they need. Common causes of insomnia or trouble sleeping can include health issues such as the pain from arthritis, some medications, and the need for frequent urination. Sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome are also more likely in seniors. A cause we don’t often hear about is that as we age, our body’s internal clock adjusts to earlier sleep and wakeup times. If seniors stay up late, they are likely to wake up at their usual early hour, thus experiencing the side-effects of a sleep-deprived day. While sleep requirements vary slightly for each person, most healthy adults require seven to nine hours of sleep per night. How you feel in the morning is a better indication of what you need. Frequently waking up not feeling rested or feeling tired and wanting to sleep during the day are the best signs that you’re not getting enough sleep. Disturbed sleep and waking up tired are not part of normal aging. It’s important to get to the root cause of sleepless nights because not getting enough sleep carries with it several important health risks and concerns. Sleep deprivation can: Take a toll on nearly every part of your life, no matter how old or young you are. Be as dangerous for drivers as alcohol consumption, adding to the risks affecting a senior’s ability to be a safe driver. Make falls and other accidents more likely. Increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other health issues. Cause depression, attention, and memory problems. Increase the risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, and potentially speed their progression. Research suggests that poor sleep can cause dementia and dementia can

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How to Help or Get Help in a Health Crisis

 Two of the most well-intended but unhelpful phrases spoken during a health crisis for a friend or  family member are: “If you need anything, just call me,” or “What can I do to help?” So, what can you say or do when you really want to be useful or when someone offers help you might need?   Why We Don’t Respond We all have reasons why we don’t or can’t respond when friends, neighbors or even family members really want to help but don’t know what we need: When we’re in the thick of caregiving, mourning or worrying, we can’t think of anything that we would feel comfortable asking anyone else to do. We might think that we are the only ones who know how to do what needs to be done. It could have been ingrained in us that it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help. We may think that the person asking is too busy to fit in one more thing. We are embarrassed about what we haven’t been able to get to and don’t want anyone to know. The person we are caring for doesn’t want anyone else to do it. We don’t realize how worn out and in need of help we really are. We forget how good it made us feel when we were able to help someone, so we don’t give someone else the chance to help us.   Have Suggestions Ready When my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I knew the risks of caregiver burnout and not allowing others to help. I also knew that family and friends truly wanted to be helpful. I vowed that I would follow my own advice to other caregivers and not only let people help me but give serious thought to what I could delegate

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Man and Spring Flowers

Feeling Isolated and Lonely? Make the Most of Spring!

Unwanted isolation and loneliness or lack of connection can be byproducts of a long winter for anyone. Seniors and the handicapped are especially vulnerable. It’s difficult for them to be out and about, and it can be difficult for loved ones to visit them in person or take them places. We are all looking longingly for signs of spring. If possible, consider including others who have been homebound in your plans for the warmer days ahead. Spring Activities for Yourself and Your Loved One If you or a loved one or someone you care for has been stuck inside, fresh air and sunshine have been in short supply. Here are some suggestions for what you could do together on a spring day, depending on the person’s health and mobility: Open a window and sit close to it for a visit. Dress comfortably and sit outside. Enjoy the sunshine and whatever is growing. Take a sort walk around the neighborhood or a park. Interact with neighbors. Say “hello” to everyone you see while you’re out. Go out for lunch or bring in a take-out and eat it outside. Go on a scenic drive together. Point out spring blossoms and green leaves. Get a bird feeder and put it where it can be seen easily either inside or out. Bird watch. Visit a plant nursery and, if possible, buy something you can plant together. Bring flowers in. Wildflowers in a glass or even manmade blooms can brighten up a room. Draw or color pictures with a spring theme. Do it outside. Have an outdoor celebration of spring with family members. Make decorations for it. Do some spring cleaning. Help your loved one get rid of clutter. Find simple chores you and your loved one can do together to clean up the yard.

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New Year

New Year’s Resolutions for Caregivers

Many family caregivers feel like they don’t have time to do much of anything for themselves. Their entire focus is on how they can be a better caregiver. As a caregiver, when you look ahead to the new year and think about what you would like to change or do better, are any of those thoughts focused on your mental and physical health or only on the loved one you are caring for? Not making resolutions or a plan for self-care can be detrimental for you and the person you are caring for. The lack of a conscious plan of self-care can result in caregiver burnout. Make specific plans to care for yourself. As the new year begins, it’s okay to resolve to do everything you can to keep your loved one comfortable and safe. But add to your Things-I-Should-Do List at least three or four things you want to do that will ultimately make you happier, healthier and a better caregiver in the long-run. Here are nine examples. In the New Year, I resolve to: Make a “help wish list” and refer to it when people ask what they can do to help me. Not having to think about what you need or want will make it easier to accept help when it is offered. Make sleep a priority. Do what many young mothers do: sleep when the “baby” sleeps. Don’t feel guilty when you don’t use possible sleep time for something “more productive.” Eat the equivalent of three healthy meals a day, even if you have to eat smaller portions more often. Cut down on food preparation time, and when you do cook, make enough for several meals. Include lots of plant matter in what you and your loved one eat. Make a list of the things I

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caregiver holiday tips

Caregiver Holiday Tips: Make Your List, Check It Twice, and Get Those To-Dos Done!

The holidays are the perfect time to visit with friends and family members, but it’s not quite what you would call a relaxing time of year. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season, from shopping to social events to family get-togethers, can be incredibly stressful, and when you’ve got someone you love to care for, your own tasks can be neglected. Never fear: our care team has some quick caregiver holiday tips to help! How Can You Check Off All the To-Dos to Better Enjoy the Holidays? Wondering how to get everything on your to-do list accomplished in time for the holidays? Try the following tips to help you stay on track. Bypass the shopping mall & shop virtual. Getting out to a crowded mall can be a challenge this time of year, especially when caring for a senior who is homebound. Online shopping can be carried out from almost anywhere: in the doctor’s office, late at night while watching TV, etc., and is quite a bit less stressful than fighting the large holiday crowds. Make it a team effort. Too many presents to wrap? Unsure how you’ll write out all of your holiday cards? Enlist the help of a family member or friend who can help with wrapping presents. Schedule an afternoon to visit, sip hot chocolate, and write out all of your holiday cards together with your older family member assisting in whatever way they can. Be discerning about “made from scratch.” Many people feel obligated to go overboard on food during the holiday season, but not everything on your table needs to be homemade. Choose one or two items for your holiday menu that you enjoy making from scratch, and add in some microwavable or ready-made dishes to round out the table and save you time.

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caregiver stress

5 Steps to Reduce Caregiver Stress Over the Holidays

It’s the most merry and bright time of the year! However, if you’re one of the millions of Americans who is providing care for an older family member, the approaching holidays may seem more like the most stress-filled time of the year. Carving out time for yourself may have been relegated to the very bottom of your to-do checklist, but the aging care experts at Dakota Home Care would like to challenge you to rethink and reprioritize your self-care in order to kick that caregiver stress to the curb! Taking care of yourself also allows you to take better care of the senior you love. These five simple strategies can help: What Are the Best Ways for a Caregiver to Overcome Holiday Stress? Eat right When you’re really stressed out, you may have the tendency to make unhealthy food choices. When you’re exhausted, it’s easy to select whatever is quick and simple: fast food, crackers and tea, cheese doodles and a soft drink. You need healthy food to perform optimally. Get regular exercise Exercise is the original “feel good” tonic. It helps you get a better night’s sleep and wake up invigorated and ready to face another arduous day. Daily exercise boosts both your mental and physical wellness, keeping your mind alert and body fine-tuned and energetic. Get a sufficient amount of sleep This may be easier said than done, especially if you’re caring for a person who is likely to wander during the night. Still, most people need six to eight hours of sleep each night to maintain good health. Catch up with catnaps if necessary or call Dakota Home Care for overnight caregiver support. Take time out for yourself Regardless of whether you’re caring for a parent, spouse, or other family member or friend, you need time for

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Flowers with smiley faces in the middle

How the SMILE Technique Eases the Challenges of Senior Personal Care

Take a moment to close your eyes and visualize yourself like this: You have spent most of your life taking care of and assisting others – as a parent, in your profession, by volunteering in your community, and as a grandparent. After a lifetime of living independently and being in control of making your own decisions, you’ve unexpectedly aged to the point that you now are the person in need of help with bathing and other senior personal care tasks. Imagine the sense of loss, vulnerability, and fear. If you’re taking care of a senior loved one, it can be helpful to place yourself in their shoes when experiencing problems related to helping the person with personal hygiene tasks. The struggles your loved one is feeling are real, and a little patience and empathy can go a long way towards promoting a sense of peace about accepting your help. Let’s face it: permitting someone to help with such personal services as bathing, dressing, and bathroom needs is awkward at best, and can feel as though dignity is ripped right away from the person if not managed sensitively. At Dakota Home Care, we’re very familiar with these challenges, and suggest keeping the SMILE concept in mind to help these sensitive situations feel more comfortable for both you and your senior loved one: Safety: Assistive devices such as electric razors, grab bars, a bathtub chair and a handheld shower can be beneficial. Modesty: Ensure privacy in the room and maintain modesty as much as possible. Independence: Empower seniors to retain the ability to make choices, to express their own personal style, and to do as much as they are able to independently. Levity: Be accepting of imperfection. Make it fun. Etiquette: Treat the individual with dignity, as a respected adult. Dakota Home

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pensive woman looking away from camera

Take Time to Care for YOU! How Respite Care Helps Prevent Caregiver Burnout

Serving as caregiver for an aging loved one, though incredibly fulfilling, can also cause an elevated degree of caregiver stress. The around-the-clock pressure of addressing a loved one’s care needs can quickly escalate to turn into caregiver burnout – a dangerous condition that can result in a loss of patience and emotional outbursts, having an effect on not only the caregiver personally, but the senior as well.

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