Being a caregiver is a rewarding experience, but anyone who has served in this capacity will tell you that it is also extremely stressful at times. We recently explored the risk factors for and signs of caregiver stress. If you are a caregiver, we urge you to be aware and to take steps to protect yourself against the damaging effects of caregiver stress. Failure to do so can lead to increased difficulty with relationships, emotional distress, problems at work and serious health concerns.
Do not wait until you are in distress to take these preventative measures:
Caregivers often believe that they must take on this responsibility alone and that they are the only ones who can or should contribute to the loved one’s needs. This is neither true nor healthy for the caregiver, as well as for the loved one in care. Your loved one will enjoy the benefits of your being healthy physically and emotionally. Take the steps to improve that health today.
In the United States, more than 40 million people serve as unpaid caregivers of adults over the age of 65. Sixty percent of these individuals are also employed in the workforce. Most have other household responsibilities, including maintaining a home and raising children. Most who provide unpaid caregiving are doing so for family members.
Caregiving can be extremely rewarding, but it is undoubtedly a very stressful experience. The grief involved in watching a loved one’s health or abilities fade away can be overwhelming. As roles change and independence is lost, there can be frustration, depression and even anger. The following circumstances tend to be linked with higher caregiver stress levels, and it is wise to be aware of your risk level if any of these apply to you.
If these apply to you as a caregiver, be extra vigilant about monitoring stress levels. Even those without these factors, however, are at risk for caregiver stress. Be aware of these signs of stress.
While it is common and not harmful to experience most of these signs for a short period of time, if you find that symptoms are prolonged or interfere with your ability to function in your roles, it is a good idea to speak with your physician. If you experience thoughts of harming yourself or others or begin to use substances excessively for coping, it is vital to get immediate help.
In upcoming blogs, we will explore steps that caregivers can take to reduce stress and increase self care.
For students and teachers all over our area, August means back to school. As we age, this time of year may seem less relevant, but it’s a good reminder that learning is good for you no matter your age. In fact, research indicates that those who continue to learn as they age are less affected by the cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s Disease.
Whether you or your aging loved one wants to earn a degree at an advanced age or simply sharpen a skill, there are many opportunities for learning at any age.
We encourage you to head “back to school” this year. Becoming a lifelong learner will benefit you in so many ways!
As we age, many of us enjoy wonderful summertime memories. What fun it is to remember swimming with friends, camping or fishing trips with family, warm nights on the front porch, homemade ice cream, fireworks, and all the carefree fun that summer brings.
However, summer temperatures present unique challenges for aging individuals and their caregivers. The St. Louis area has already experienced many hot summer days. Area meteorologists expect it to remain this way. With this in mind, we rounded up our best tips to help you enjoy summer with your loved ones.
We wish you a very happy and healthy summer!
We’ve been telling you for weeks now – summertime is vacation time. A staggering number of American workers do not take their vacation time, leading to burnout, stress and other negative consequences on their physical and emotional health. This is a well-recognized problem in the healthcare industry, as well as among employers and workers.
Meanwhile, around 44 million American adults carry the job responsibilities of unpaid caregiver for aging or disabled loved ones. Often, these caregivers have other significant responsibilities, such as children in the home or careers. They are thrust into the caregiving role, sometimes without training or preparation. The responsibilities are overwhelming and never ending. Caregivers are at a higher risk for depression and anxiety, increased health problems, lower levels of self-care, and ultimately higher mortality.
It stands to reason that if paid workers benefit from using vacation time, unpaid caregivers also benefit from time away as well. If paid employees who take vacation time do better work with less frustration, then unpaid caregivers who take vacation not only benefit themselves, but also those in their care.
How to get away when you’re a caregiver?
Caregiver, it is time to seriously consider the need for relaxation and refreshment. AccuCare Home Health Care of St. Louis would be pleased to meet with you and evaluate your needs. Together, we can create a plan to provide high-quality care for your loved one, while you get a well-deserved break.
Even though taking vacation time is proven to improve physical health, mental health, relationship and work performance, more than half of Americans fail to take their vacation time. Because of this, we recently urged you to go on vacation.
Even if you find it easy to leave the office behind, it is not so simple to leave behind an aging loved one. There are many concerns – safety, emotional distress, medication regimens – that may make the caregiver wonder if they will ever be able to get away. Today, we’re going to consider the possibility of vacationing with your loved one. Alternately, in our next blog we will share with you how it is possible to take a vacation while your loved one is cared for at home (but feel free to call us if you cannot wait for that answer).
If your aging loved one is coming along on vacation, here are a few things to remember:
Now is the time to start planning a vacation!
Memorial Day is upon us! Often dubbed the official beginning of the summer vacation season, the holiday weekend will commence with over 41.5 million Americans getting away for a bit of rest and relaxation. According to AAA, that number of travelers is the highest it has been in 12 years, and is a full five percent higher than in 2017.
This is good news! You may remember our blog from last year that shared the shocking amount of vacation time that goes unused in the United States. The bad news is that those unused vacation days have a negative impact on the U.S. economy (to the tune of over $250 billion), and an even more drastic effect on the overworked employee. Workers experiencing burnout often manifest physical consequences of stress and engage in behaviors that cost them personally and professionally. Overworked employees are more likely to have a negative attitude, have interpersonal conflicts, practice poor coping mechanisms, and make mistakes in their work.
As Americans become more aware of this problem, they are changing their behavior. The year 2017 brought an increase in the number of vacation days used and a decrease in the number of workers who did not use their vacation time. Still, more than half of Americans are not using their vacation time.
Are you one of them? If over 50% of Americans are not taking their vacation days, the chance is good that many of our connections are leaving vacation time on the table. If so, let us urge you to plan your vacation time because of the personal cost to you and your family. Medical research is clear that failure to take a vacation is associated with increased stress-related illnesses, including heart disease and depression.
If so, plan now. Did you know that one of the keys to actually taking a much-needed vacation is planning that vacation? That may seem like a no-brainer, but many people fail to plan, and the years fly by without that needed break.
What do you do with your vacation? Just taking the time away from work is a good start, but it doesn’t bring all the benefits of an actual vacation. If possible, it’s wise to fully unplug, something that only 27% of employees do. Another great piece of advice? Travel! Those who travel with their days off are happier with their jobs and companies, and are at least 18% more likely to report having received a promotion in the past two years.
This leads to the clear conclusion that if you want to be healthier, happier and better at your job, go away on vacation!
And that conclusion may lead you to the following dilemma: I’m a caregiver for my loved one. I don’t get a vacation. An estimated 44 million Americans provide unpaid assistance and support to aging or disabled adults. These individuals run a high risk of burnout, stress, depression, decreased self-care and consequently, increased health problems and mortality. Even though these individuals are not included in the above conversations and research about vacation time, it is clear that no one is in need of a vacation more than the caregiver. If you or someone you love is a caregiver, do NOT write off the importance of time away. In future blogs, we will explore how to go on vacation when you are a caregiver.
Each year, nearly 800 thousand people in the United States experience a stroke, or cerebrovascular accident (CVA). Of those, approximately 140,000 die, making stroke the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It is also the leading cause of serious disability. Though the incidence of stroke has decreased significantly over the past decade, it remains important to know the risk factors and the signs.
Risk factors for CVA include age, race and other health conditions. Nearly 75 percent of individuals who suffer from a stroke are over 65 years of age. African Americans are at higher risk, even at younger ages. Strokes are more likely in individuals who smoke, are overweight, have high blood pressure, and are diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation. Healthy lifestyle choices and managing chronic illness can reduce the risk of stroke.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off (ischemic) or when a blood vessel bursts (hemorrhagic). Brain cells begin to die when deprived of oxygen. For this reason, when a CVA occurs, time is of the utmost importance. Acting quickly can save your loved one’s life and improve their quality of life.
The FAST acronym will is an easy way to remember the signs of a stroke. Use these guidelines to quickly assess if a person is experiencing a CVA.
F: Face – Ask the person to smile. If one side of their face droops, seek medical attention.
A: Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Watch for one arm drifting downward.
S: Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase and listen for slurred, strange speech.
T: Time. If these signs are observed, don’t delay! Call 911 immediately.
Increased awareness can save lives as well as increase quality time with loved ones. Celebrate the month of May by helping others know about preventing and recognizing strokes.
Warmer weather is finally here, at least most of the time. The flowers are blooming, the trees are budding, and the grass is getting green. Along with the beauty of spring, comes seasonal allergies for more than 50 million people in the United States.
There’s a common misperception that people from older generations do not experience allergies. While there is evidence that the prevalence of allergy issues has increased over the years, seasonal allergies do not discriminate by age. In fact, adult onset allergies are common. Unfortunately, the condition often remains untreated in aging persons. This makes it essential for caregivers to know the basic facts about allergies in the elderly, as well as what to do about them.
Knowing more about allergies will help you be better equipped to help your aging loved one cope with the season. Fortunately, most of these tips hold true for allergy sufferers of all ages. We wish you a happy, healthy, sneeze-free spring.
Spring is here; and though it may not feel like it every day, we’ll soon be basking in the glow of warmer weather and more sunshine. With the arrival of spring comes all things new – flowers blooming, trees budding, and a fresh new feeling in the air; a perfect time for older adults to start a new habit for health, happiness and an improved quality of life. Why not discover the benefits of one of these healthy habits?
While this list of healthy habits is a great idea for people of any age, aging individuals can certainly reap the benefits of making small, positive changes. Choose one and give it a try. We wish you a very happy, healthy spring!