What do you do when you’ve come to the difficult realization that
your aging parent can no longer live safely alone in their home? Some adult children decide to move their elderly loved one into their own home. Making the decision to move your parent into your home isn’t always as straightforward as it would seem. There are a number of issues to consider:
- Will my aging parent be open to the idea of moving into my home?
- How will my family feel about moving my mother into our home and how will it impact their daily lives?
- How will I seek respite?
- What are my care limits?
- Will my siblings accept the idea and will they offer to help?
- How will this affect my marriage?
- How will I seek personal time?
- If my parent requires care during the day, how will it be provided?
- How will I juggle my personal and professional responsibilities?
- Will I have time for myself? For my spouse? For my children?
- What will the financial arrangement be? Will I charge rent?
- Will I be responsible for my parent’s expenses?
- Will my siblings offer financial assistance?
- Will my work situation have to change, and if so, how will it affect expenses?
Modifying Your Home:
- Where will my parent sleep? Must I convert a room or build an addition?
- What assistive devices will I need? Will I need to add a full bathroom to the first floor?
- Will my parent’s personal habits be a problem for me or my family? (smoking, drinking, schedule, etc.)
- Does my parent have a pet that will move in as well?
- Do I have room for all of my parent’s belongings?
- Do I know what to expect as my parent ages and requires more time and assistance?
- How comfortable am I with personal care?
- How is my health and will I make time to focus on myself?
- Am I open to respite care and/or having additional help come into the home?
Each family situation is unique. If you are deciding to move your aging parent into your home, take some time to include your family in the decision making process. If every member of the family is on board, the transition should be smoother. Remember, caregivers need breaks from time to time. Don’t hesitate to ask for help and respite.
If you are seeking respite, click HERE to learn how Home Helpers can help you and your loved one.
Spring has finally sprung and the task of spring cleaning waits! If you’re a caregiver, you probably have daunting mission ahead of you: clean your house and your aging parent’s house.
You walk into your mother’s house and you can’t believe the stacks of clutter that have accumulated. You find piles of newspapers and mail, a collection of old medication vials, and the refrigerator has a funny smell to it. You scratch your head, wondering how it ever got this bad.
Seniors are more prone to collecting or hording due to the daily influx of junk mail, bills, and newspapers, in addition to their life-time collections. They easily become overwhelmed by physical challenges and their piles of “stuff”. Anxiety, depression, a fear of loss, and memories associated with specific items can attribute to the disorganization that your aging parent is struggling with.
For seniors, the risks of living in a cluttered environment are many, from tripping over piles of clutter to the threat of fire to the threat of respiratory problems from dust, mold, and mildew.
When you’re knee deep in your spring cleaning this year, consider things that might be routinely overlooked:
- Stacks of mail
- Expired food in the refrigerator/freezer
- Expired medications
- Mold and mildew in the bathroom
- Water damage and mold throughout the house
To help reduce respiratory problems, you might also want to consider the following:
- Take down and wash curtains, blinds, and draperies
- Dust and wash walls, ceilings and corners of walls
- Wash bedding, including the mattress pad and pillow covers
- Dust and clean all ventilation fans
- Dust ceiling fans
Involve your aging loved one by going through clutter and organizing items into 3 piles:
- Donate or sell- look for clothes that no longer fit, items that haven’t been used in years, and items that don’t hold sentimental value.
- Throw away- expired food, cleaners, and health and beauty products. Also, items that are damaged and cannot be sold or donated.
- Keep- once you figure out what you’d like to keep, starting putting the items away where they belong. Store items away that aren’t needed on an everyday basis such as winter clothes and holiday decorations.
Family caregivers can easily become just as overwhelmed as their aging parents. Take advantage of spring cleaning and clear out the mess for you and your aging loved one’s health and wellbeing. While cleaning may not be the most favorite thing for some, it brightens and lightens as well as make for a more sanitary environment for your loved one. You may even find that cleaning allows for time to reminisce over items that have been hidden away for years.
Would you like to keep your aging parent in their home? Do you find it more and more challenging? For more help, visit Home Helpers and learn what we can do. Click HERE
There is a new buzz around a subset of caregivers known as the “Sandwich Generation”. The Sandwich Generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.
According to the Pew Research Center, just over 1 of every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent, in addition to between 7 to 10 million adults caring for their aging parents from a long distance. US Census Bureau statistics indicate that the number of older Americans aged 65 or older will double by the year 2030, to over 70 million. More than 25% of American families are involved in some way with elder/parent care.
Carol Abaya, M.A., is nationally recognized as an expert on the sandwich generation, aging and elder/parent care issues. As a journalist, she has written about aging issues for more than 20 years. She has defined three different categories of the sandwich generation:
- Traditional: those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.
- Club Sandwich: those in their 50s or 60s sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren, or those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
- Open Faced: anyone else involved in elder care.
Sandwich Generation caregivers often find themselves squeezed in between caring for children and their elder parents or other elder family members. While the Sandwich Generation is not a new form of family caregiving, these caregivers are receiving a long overdue peaking of interest within American society.
People who fall into the Sandwich Generation should not be afraid to ask for help. They’ll often experience a rollercoaster of emotions. Home Helpers can provide help for those seeking respite. Click HERE to learn more.
Earth Day will be celebrated on Friday, April 22nd around the world- as it has been since it was founded on April 22, 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson. This year, involve the seniors in your life by planning special Earth friendly projects. As a caregiver, you probably struggle to come up with new and exciting activities, so why not take advantage of Earth Day?
Perhaps you’ve already observed that many seniors are frugal since they’ve lived through the Great Depression and learned to make do with very little. You may hear stories about growing large gardens to pick and preserve food, making diapers and underwear out of flower and sugar sacks, and using newspaper instead of toilet paper. Surprisingly, being “Green” may not be foreign to our seniors. Participating in Earth Day activities can bring back childhood memories for your senior.
Use some of these ideas to promote Earth Day with your senior. You might be surprised to find that they might contribute with some ideas that you haven’t even thought of.
Paper Mache Vases- This activity reuses two common items that go into the landfill every day- plastic bottles and newspaper. Cover plastic drinking bottles with several layers of strips of newspaper dipped in liquid starch (you can also use watered down glue or a flour mixture). Paint the bottles with acrylic paints and a coat of Modge Podge and decorate them with yarn, beads, buttons, glass beads and other materials that you may have lying around. The vases are waterproof so they can be used to display fresh, dried or silk flowers.
Seedling or Cutting Starters- First cut the Plastic Bottle in half. Punch a few drainage holes in the bottom of the bottom half of the bottle then fill with soil and plant cuttings or seeds to create inexpensive mini greenhouses. Use the top half of the bottles as small plant cloches to protect tiny seedlings you have planted in seed beds.
Gardening and Outdoor Activities- Getting outside is an ideal way to help your senior stay active and get fresh air. Consider starting a garden, either in the yard or in pots on the balcony or patio. Involve your senior in the choice of plants and their care. Try spending time walking at the local park. Invest in binoculars or a wildflower guide to learn more about the nature around you.
Compost- It’s easy to collect food scraps and garden waste and turn it into healthy compost in your own yard. Fill a composter or a make a homemade composter with old garden pots. Add kitchen scraps and garden waste on a daily basis and help stir it to get things breaking down. In a few months when you’ve got compost, they can take part in spreading it over the garden and watch “garbage” become rich dark dirt to make a garden grow.
Write a letter- You and your senior can write letters to government leaders and corporations about pollution and other environmental issues. Discuss the issues that impact you and your senior the most. This is also a good way to talk about current events.
These activities are great for Seniors who need extra companionship or for Seniors who have memory impairment. It’s important to participate in activities that help form trust and companionship. With these activities, you’ll form a closer relationship with your senior, all while “Going Green”.
If you're looking for a caregiver for a loved one, click HERE to learn more about Home Helpers.
According to the AARP 82% of people said that they would prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible.
Many families face the difficult decision of whether or not to place their aging loved ones in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Unfortunately, not everyone realizes that homecare can be a safe and very practical option.
In-home care allows your loved one to remain in the comfort of their home, while maintaining a sense of independence and freedom. Remaining at home allows your loved one the freedom to come and go as they please. Your loved one can keep their routine that they’re most comfortable with, eat when they’d like to eat, and participate in the activities that they like best, as opposed to adhering to a facility’s schedule.
Living at home allows your loved one to keep precious possessions. When moving into a facility, seniors must undergo the daunting task of downsizing, as they are limited to the amount of items they are allowed to move into their new space. Many of these items are priceless memories that are difficult to leave behind. In addition to items, your loved one also has the freedom to keep any pets they’ve grown attached to if they remain at home. Pets have been shown to decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and feelings of loneliness. Pets also allow for more physical and outdoor activities as well as more socialization opportunities.
Seniors who live at home have an easier time staying connected with family and friends. At home, there aren’t any visiting hours and the number of visitors won’t be limited as they are in facilities. Celebrations and family get-togethers are a lot easier to plan.
Living at home can help seniors stay healthier since they won’t be subjected to the many germs that linger in a place where many people reside. There is also more control over the home environment and how it is cleaned.
Home care avoids the emotional stress of moving into a new place with new people, new rules and a new routine. This is especially true for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, as change to environment or routine can create agitation.
Assisted Living facilities and nursing homes can be very costly. You might be surprised to discover how affordable home care is. Home care is paid for out of pocket, but is often covered by long term care insurance, county waiver programs, and the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Benefit.
There are many services which allow your loved one to age safely in place. Home care can be supplemented with personal emergency response systems, home delivered meals, and enhanced security systems. If your aging loved one wants to remain at home, honoring their wish is now easier than ever before.
To learn more about Home Care services, click HERE and see how Home Helpers can help keep your aging loved one safe at home.
For many seniors, it’s difficult to accept the fact that they need help to remain safely in their own home. When people admit they need help, they feel as if they’re losing a part of their independence. New people coming into your loved one's home can be frightening. When a loved one needs in-home care, but they don’t want it or believe they need it, getting help for them is difficult, if not impossible. Often, care comes too late or at a point of decline that could have been delayed had the right resources been in place. Here are some ideas to help ease your loved one’s resistance to extra help:
- Talk with your loved one about why you need extra help. Be honest about your concerns and your needs. Your loved one may be more willing to try respite care if you’re honest and admit that you need help. That way, he or she realizes that additional help is very important to you and that accepting care helps you as the caregiver.
- Set a up “trial period”. Agree on how long you'll try the extra help to see if it works out. For example, you might suggest that the caregivers visit twice a week for two weeks. After the two weeks, have a discussion about how things are going and decide whether or not you’d like to continue. If you or your loved one don't like the caregiver, set a new time period to try someone else.
- Meet with a representative from the agency before making your final decision. Meeting someone face to face takes away some of the anxiety about who the new person will be. Stay with your loved one for the first visit with the new caregiver to help ease any anxiety. Usually, after the first visit, your loved one will realize that the "stranger" is there to help and will be more willing to accept him or her.
- Don’t refer to the caregiver as a “caregiver”. Some families introduce caregivers to their loved ones as a friend or companion.
- Include your loved one in the discussion about what they need help with. Ask what days and times work best for them.
- Involve the caregiver and your loved one in the creation of the care plan. Caregivers have experience in home care and know what other tasks or activities can benefit your loved one. He or she may see opportunities to accomplish several things that you did not think of, such as organizing a desk, cleaning a pantry, or taking your loved one out for ice cream.
If you are considering homecare services for your resistant loved one, click HERE to learn more about Home Helpers. We understand that not everyone is open to homecare and we have a plan to help smooth the transition.
The initial search for home care services, especially personal care and health care, can be a daunting task. You will discover that there are full-service agencies, registries, and independent providers. Which is the best option for you and your loved one? Consider the following issues when hiring an agency, registry, or independent provider.
- Agencies usually come at a higher cost. However, agencies provide prescreened applicants who have already had background checks. Since the caregiver works for the agency, taxes are withheld (unemployment and FICA) and worker’s compensation insurance is in place. Billing can be simpler since you’re paying the agency directly, not the caregiver. The agencie's licensing history is easily accessible. You can also find out if they are bonded for issues such as theft. Agencies typically provide ongoing training for their caregivers. If a caregiver resigns or is not a good match, a replacement can be quickly provided, and coverage may also be provided if a caregiver calls in sick, as caregivers are supervised and actively scheduled.
- Registries and independent providers come at a lower cost, but require careful legwork and attention on your part. Since you will be hiring the caregiver, you need to be aware of any tax and Social Security requirements. Consider background checks and identity verification for the caregiver(s) since there is no independent verification. Training is not typically provided by Registries. In the event of caregiver illness or termination, you are responsible for backup coverage. Meet with the caregiver in person before making your final decision. Even if you are considering these options due to a word of mouth referral, it’s good to be aware of these issues.
Tips for Selecting a Provider
How you go about hiring home care providers will partially depend on what kind of help you are looking for. For example, hiring someone to handle shopping or yard maintenance is different from someone providing hands on or live-in care. However, there are some basic tips to keep in mind. Remember that the more time and homework you spend in the initial hiring process, the better the chances of success.
- Interview several candidates, in person, before hiring. Meeting in person is a great idea before making any decisions. Agencies will typically do a free in-home consultation. Initial interviews before bringing someone to your home can be done in a public place such as a coffee shop. Even if you are working with an agency, it’s important to meet the person who has been matched to make sure it is the right fit.
- If you are working with an agency, make sure you understand what is covered. What exactly is covered in a contract? Are there additional fees that apply to specific services or add-ons? Are there extra fees for weekends and holidays? Is there an additional cost if a caregiver provides transportation? If needed, what are the procedures for termination or requesting another provider?
- Check references carefully. Always check references and ask for multiple testimonials. Listen carefully to the person’s tone and information. Are they enthusiastic about the candidate, or are the answers vague and short?
- Do background checks on top candidates. If you’re working through an agency, background checks are often provided. If you’re considering an independent provider or a caregiver through a Registry, you can check on the Internet, your local police department, legal aid service, or an attorney for referrals to individuals or companies that do this. There is typically a fee associated with background checks.
- Don’t be afraid to move on if it’s not the right fit. It’s especially important that you feel comfortable with your provider, since this person is providing services in the privacy of your own home. If something isn’t working, try talking to the provider to see if a solution can be found. Communication is key; the provider may not be aware of an issue unless it is voiced. Sometimes miscommunication can be ironed out. If not, don’t be afraid to move on and find another provider.
Home Helpers is an agency. All of our caregivers are employees who have been screened, trained, insured and bonded. To learn more, please click HERE.
Informal caregivers and family caregivers are unpaid individuals
such as family members, friends and neighbors who provide care to a person in need of help: a husband who has suffered a stroke; a wife with ALS; a mother-in-law with cancer; a grandfather with Alzheimer’s disease.. These individuals can be primary or secondary caregivers, full time or part time, and can live with the person being cared for or live separately. Formal caregivers are volunteers or paid caregivers who are trained and associated with a service system or company such as Home Helpers. The statistics discussed focus on Informal Caregivers.
The Impact on a Caregiver’s Physical Health:
While researchers have long known that caregiving can have harmful mental health effects for caregivers, research shows that caregiving can have serious physical health consequences as well.
Studies have found that caregivers may have increased blood pressure and insulin levels, may have impaired immune systems and may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease among other adverse health outcomes.
A study of elderly spousal caregivers (aged 66-96) found that caregivers who experience caregiving-related stress have a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers of the same age.
Many caregivers are themselves in poor health; studies show that approximately one-third of caregivers provide intensive care although they are themselves in “fair to poor” physical health.
The Impact on a Caregiver’s Economic Health:
What is the estimated economic value of informal caregiving? If the services provided by informal caregivers (family, friends, neighbors) had to be replaced with paid services, it would cost an estimated $257 billion (in 2000 dollars).
Studies suggest that the cost of informal caregiving in terms of lost productivity to U.S. businesses is $11 to $29 billion annually.
As a result of their caregiving, informal caregivers are estimated to each lose an average of $25,494 in Social Security benefits, an average of $67,202 in pension benefits and an average of $566,433 in wage wealth. Combined, the result is a loss of $659,139 over a lifetime.
Long-distance caregivers spend an average of $392/month on travel and out-of-pocket expenses as part of their caregiving duties.
The Mental and Emotional Impact:
The less income a caregiver has, the more stress he or she is likely to experience.
Particularly stressful caregiving situations may put caregivers at risk of engaging in harmful behaviors towards care recipients. One study has shown that spousal caregivers who are at risk of clinical depression and are caring for a spouse with significant cognitive impairment and/or physical care needs are more likely to engage in harmful behavior towards their loved one.
While caregiving can be a very stressful situation for many caregivers, studies also show that there are beneficial effects, including feeling positive about being able to help a disabled spouse, feeling appreciated by the care recipient, and feeling that their relationship with the care recipient had improved.
If you or someone you know needs respite from caregiving, click HERE to learn how we can help!
For more statistics, click here: http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=439