Tips for the Long-Distance Caregiver

Caregiving from afar is no easy task.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind while contemplating caring for your
parent from a distance.
Create
a Contact List

Assemble address and phone numbers of friends, neighbors, doctors, faith
leaders and others in regular contact with your parents who can be reached in
the event of an emergency. Include at least one person close by who can easily
check in on your loved one. Consider giving this person a key to the home if
your loved one approves. If you don’t already know them, introduce yourself
during a visit to establish relationships should you need to reach out. Give
one copy of this list to your loved one and keep a copy for yourself. These
folks may also be able to help out with shopping, transportation or visits.

Collect
Important Information Before a Crisis

Keep the following information organized and easy to reach in the event of a
crisis.
Medical
  •         Medical records.
  •          Notes on their condition.
  •          A list of medications they take.
  •          Names and phone numbers of all
    doctors.
  •          Name and phone number of their
    pharmacy.

Insurance

  •          A list of insurance policies, the
    carriers and account numbers.
Utilities
  •          Company names and phone numbers for
    all utilities, including electric, phone, cable and Internet.

Financial

  •          A list of all assets and debts
    (include dollar values).
  •          Yearly or monthly income.
  •          Yearly or monthly expenses.
  •          A statement of net worth.
  •          Information on bank accounts, other
    financial holdings and credit cards.

 Legal

  •         Relevant legal documents your loved
    one has or wants to create (i.e. wills, advance directives, trusts,   power(s) of
    attorney).
  •          Location of important documents
    (i.e. birth certificates, deed to home).
  •          Social Security numbers.

Make Visits Productive

Visiting your parent or loved one should be an enjoyable event. But take
advantage of your time together to assess their changing needs.

·        
Before your visit, decide together
with your loved ones what needs to be taken care of while you’re there,
including scheduling any necessary appointments.
  •          Make a list of household items that
    need to be purchased and, if possible, go out and buy them.
  •          Allow time to go through mail and
    old papers. 
  •          Take note of anything out of the
    ordinary and of what they eat. Check to see what they have in their
    refrigerator and pantry and if it’s sufficient.
  •          Look out for safety hazards such as
    loose rugs, missing handrails or poor lighting.

During your visits, you may start to realize that more help is needed on a
regular basis. Think about your parent’s daily needs and whether they are still
being adequately met.  Are they:
  •          Socializing with friends and other
    relatives?
  •          Attending religious services or
    other regular events?
  •          Keeping up with chores or
    housekeeping?
  •          Maintaining their personal
    appearance and hygiene?
  •          Eating well with a variety of foods
    in the house?
  •          Opening and responding to
    correspondence from insurers, banks or others?
  •          Paying bills and balancing the
    checkbook?
  •          Scheduling and getting to doctor
    appointments or other important visits?
  •          Getting out to the store or
    recreational activities?
  •         Maintaining the home?
  •         Taking medication as directed?

If not,
consider additional resources to ensure your loved one is maintaining their
normal routine and staying on top of finances, mail and medications.
Be sure,
however, to spend time enjoying each other’s company, too. A visit that is all
business won’t be good for anyone.
Gather
Information on Community Services

Based on your observations and discussions with your parents, you may want to
look into services in their community that could help them.  Start by
using the Eldercare Locator to
determine which local agencies provide services where your parents live. It
will refer you to the area agency on aging in your parent’s community. Look for
services that fit the needs of your loved ones as well as an organization that
can work with you long distance. Take notes on the services offered, the
application process, waiting lists and fees. If an organization requires an
in-person interview with your parent, find out what documents you will need
prior to the meeting and whether copies will be sufficient. If you can’t be
with your parent at the meeting, consider having one of their emergency
contacts stand in for you. You might be able to join the conversation by
telephone. Make a list of questions you want answered and be sure to have a
contact person to follow up with.
Look
into Public Benefits Online

You can now go online and safely and conveniently get an idea of the different
public assistance programs for which your parents might be eligible. By using
Benefits QuickLINK you can
find helpful state, federal and private benefits programs available where your
parents live. By answering a few questions, you will get fact sheets,
applications and websites for programs that can help them save money and cover
costs of everyday expenses.
Get
Help with Managing the Care

Most communities have professionals who can gauge your loved one’s abilities
and needs and set up a plan for care. You can find this assistance through
government-funded programs by using the Eldercare Locator.
Another option is to hire a private geriatric care manager. A number of
employers are starting to pay for these services and, if your family member has
long-term care insurance, this might be covered under the policy. For a list of
local professionals, visit the National Association of
Professional Geriatric Care Managers or the National Association of Social Workers.
Keep
the Lines of Communication Open

Be sensitive to your parent’s view of the situation. At first they may not want
strangers in their home, or they may have trouble facing change. Maintain a
positive focus, explain how the services will work and that they are designed
to help your parent remain independent. If possible, offer to contribute to the
cost of care without appearing to offer charity. If your suggestions of service
are rebuffed, you can have an objective third party — such as a doctor —
recommend the service.
Don’t
Forget Your Needs

Recognize the strain that long-distance caregiving causes, and take steps to
reduce it.  Accept that it’s impossible for you to provide all the help
your parent needs. Give yourself credit for your efforts to determine needs,
coordinate services and offer support by phone and occasional visits. Ask for
help when you need it. If you don’t feel that other family members are doing
their share, consider a family meeting to help resolve any issues. Eat right,
exercise and get enough sleep.
Mail
Carrier Alert Program

In some communities, mail carriers or utility workers are trained to spot signs
of trouble through the Carrier Alert Program of the U.S.
Postal Service. They report concerns, such as accumulated mail or
trash, to an agency that will check on the older adult. This is a service of
the USPS and the NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers) in
collaboration with local non-profits. To find out if there’s a program in your
area, contact the local post office or
NALC branch office, or ask your mail carrier for information.

Source: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/info-09-2010/pc_tips_for_long_distance_caregiver.1.html

To reach one of our Advanced Senior Solution’s team members, either go to the Contact Us tab or call 727-443-2273. We’re here to help with all of your elder care questions, care needs, and much more! Call us today for a free no-obligation care consultation via phone or in person.

When Genders Collide While Caregiving

Two adult sisters were angry at their older brother, the
protective sibling they’d admired and emulated since they were kids. “We’ve cut
back on our work hours to take care of our Mom,” one sister complained to the
other. “But Louis insists he is too important to his company to miss time from his job. He just assumes we will
continue caring for Mom, no matter how it affects us.”
The family’s double standard rankled the sister with good
reason.  Their mother expected the
daughters to drive, feed and cater to her, but praised her son as practically a
hero for his weekly phone call.
Cultural norms have led us to expect that women and men will
play differing roles in many family activities. Often this works out well
agreed upon divisions of labor help family members work more cooperatively and
efficiently during parenting, household chores and other endeavors. But when
divisions start to emerge along gender lines in caregiving families, they can
embitter sister, enrage, brothers, and encumber the caregiving plan.
Take the question of who becomes a caregiver. With 2 out of
every 3 caregivers a female, family caregiving is still largely women’s work.
(The average caregiver is a 49-year old woman who works at least a part time
job and has been taking care of an aging parent for several years). Although the
percentage of male caregivers has slowly risen over the past 20 years, it still
lags far behind.
Researchers in the caregiving field have turned up these key
gender disparities:
Women are more likely to commit to particularly arduous
caregiving, including hands-on care that involves bathing and using the toilet.
Men, on the whole, are less apt to get their hands dirty and they feel less
guilt about hiring help than women do.
Women and men often receive varying responses for providing
the same level of care. Female caregivers are typically acknowledged as “just
doing their duty,” whereas men tend to be lauded for engaging in even minor
care activities.
Women and men cope differently with the stress of being a caregiver.
Women feel greater sadness and anxiety about caring for a loved one, and they
are more likely to seek emotional support (by attending a caregiver support
group for example). Men go into “Logical Problem-Solver” mode, avoiding their
emotions and spurning support groups.
We don’t usually talk about our family roles since we are
too busy living t hem, but if sisters or brothers feel they’re getting unfair
treatment on the basis of gender, it’s crucial to hash out these previously
unspoken expectations. That’s the first step toward addressing such key
questions as “Do we want to apply this family’s traditional gender roles to how
we provide care? Or do we want to divvy up the caregiving tasks in some new
way?” The resulting discussion may give sisters an opening to ask their
brothers to contribute more time, money or support. Or it may give brothers the
opportunity they’ve been seeking to request a larger say in caregiving
decisions.
www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-01-2014/caregiving-family-gender-sibilings-jacobs.html

 To reach one of our Advanced Senior Solution’s team members, either go to the Contact Us tab or call 727-443-2273. We’re here to help with all of your elder care questions, care needs, and much more! Call us today for a free no-obligation care consultation via phone or in person.

Why You Should Keep Caregiving Records

Being a caregiver is often a complex role and can vary
widely depending on the needs of the care receiver/patient. In the beginning
you may only be providing a few services such as help with shopping,
transportation, and/or light housekeeping. As time goes on, additional care
becomes required until the senior becomes fully dependent on the caregiver.
This is a big responsibility that does not come with a specific job description
and the role you play as a caregiver will constantly be changing.
Because of this responsibility and ever changing demands, it
makes sense to keep daily caregiving records. Here are 7 reasons why keeping
caregiving records are beneficial to both the caregiver and care-receiver.
        1.      
Keeping daily records will allow you to monitor
the senior’s progress and continually reassess their needs. This makes it
easier for the caregiver to make adjustments and ensures overall better care.
        2.      
Documentation allows you to better inform the
senior’s doctors about changes in health and ultimately results in fewer office
visits and better responsiveness to medical needs.
        3.      
Caregiving can be stressful. By keeping
caregiving records you no longer have to worry about remembering everything. It
is a great way to get things out of your head so you can focus solely on the
care needed and not be worrying about something you may have forgotten.
        4.      
It keeps family members in the loop. You no
longer have to worry about forgetting to mention key details or changes in care
since everything is documented for loved ones to see.
        5.      
What if you’re sick? By having everything
written down you allow another caregiver to easily provide services until you
return. This ensures long term high quality care.
   
        6.      
Increases satisfaction of caregiver and receiver.
By writing daily notes you ensure that both the senior and caregiver are on the
same page. This allows either one to bring concerns up and opens the line of
communication further.
        7.      
It keeps all the records in one place. By having
a single notebook or folder, you no longer have to worry about information being
spread out. If you need to retrieve a piece of information about the senior or
their health, you know exactly where to look.
Once you begin keeping a daily record of your caregiving
services you will find that it leads to overall better care and satisfaction.
Just be sure to do this regularly and always have this on hand so you can make
notes whenever needed.
www.seniorslist.com/inner.php?aid=4404
To reach one of our Advanced Senior Solution’s team members, either go to the Contact Us tab or call 727-443-2273. We’re here to help with all of your elder care questions, care needs, and much more! Call us today for a free no-obligation care consultation via phone or in person.

Caregiver Burnout and Dementia

Patients with
dementia can be among the most challenging types of patients to care for. Even a person with the best intentions can get frustrated when the patient acts out or
refuses to cooperate. Just remember, the behaviors a person with dementia shows
are parts of the disease and not aimed at you personally.
·        
Stay
calm and be understanding. Raising your voice or showing signs of frustration
will only make the situation worse.
  •          Be
    patient and flexible. If the patient refuses to get in the shower, maybe a good
    bed bath will work for today and he/she can shower tomorrow. 
  •          Do
    not argue or try to convince the person. The patient cannot reason and may not
    be able to understand what is obvious to you. 
  •          Respond
    to patient’s requests as long as no harm will come. If the patient insists on
    wearing his/her shirt backwards that may be the way she wears it today.
  •      Take
    a moment to re-charge. If you feel your frustration and anxiety rising, ensure
    the patient is safe and walk away and take a few deep breaths before you
    return. This may be a good break for the patient too.

Patients with
dementia are at higher risk of elder abuse than other seniors. Educate all
members of the family regarding some of the signs and symptoms of potential
abuse, neglect and caregiver burnout. Some possible examples of abuse and neglect
may be:
·        
New
cuts or bruises.
  •          The
    patient showing fear towards their family members or professional caregivers.
  •          Finding
    the patient wet or soiled often.
  •          Always
    finding the patient wearing the same soiled clothing.
  •          Little
    or no food in the home or lack of prescribed medications.

Do not
automatically jump to conclusions, but don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Caregiver burnout and distress is common in family members of patients with
dementia, especially as the disease progresses. Family members should not
judge, but should be there to provide support and relief when needed. Assist in
identifying community resources before they are needed. A medical social worker
can often help with this process. Dementia is often a misunderstood disorder.
Good communication between all family members can go a long way to provide the
best possible care for the patient. Educate all members of the family regarding
the challenges that they may encounter, Coordinate visits between family
members so that the patient is not overwhelmed by too many visitors at one
time. Help family members to understand that the patient’s behavior may vary
from one day to the next so that they understand the changes.
Providing
care for a patient with dementia can be difficult and challenging at times.
These patients require extra understanding and patience. As the incidence of
people with dementia rises in the United States, it is important that we
understand the disease and how to care for people with the disease.
Source:
www.seniorslist.com/inner.php?aid=4251

To reach one of our Advanced Senior Solution’s team members, either go to the Contact Us tab or call 727-443-2273. We’re here to help with all of your elder care questions, care needs, and much more! Call us today for a free no-obligation care consultation via phone or in person.

Alzheimer’s and Communication

Communication plays a big part in maintaining a
healthy outlook, for yourself and for sufferers of the disease. As it ravages
the mind, the sufferer begins having difficulty communicating and may show
signs of one of the following:
  •          Difficulty
    finding the right words.
  •          Familiar
    words might be used repeatedly.
  •       The
    person’s train of thought frequently gets lost.
  •        Difficulty
    in organizing thoughts and words in a logical fashion.
  •      Gestures
    might come into play more often, in place of words.
  •      Due
    to frustration and anger at being misunderstood, curse words may become more
    prevalent in dialog.
You might be
asking yourself, “Where do I come in?” When communicating with an Alzheimer’s
patient, here are a few tips that will ease the process and make your
connections more fruitful.
·         
  • Eye
    contact is important. It shows the person that you are listening and that you
    care about what is being said.
  • Mutual
    understanding is important. It does a world of good to let the person know you
    are trying to help them and understand what they have to say.
  •  Discussions
    with an Alzheimer’s patient are sometimes rambling, disjointed things. That’s
    okay. Be careful not to interrupt, or argue with them.
  •  When
    words fail, ask the person to gesture to what it is they want or need. Often
    they will recognize something visually, even if they can’t articulate what it
    is.
  •  Speak
    simply and plainly. Use short, concise words.
  •  Feelings,
    rather than facts are often greater importance to an Alzheimer’s patient. Try not
    to rely on logic to sway them or get them to understand you.
  • Conversation
    can be slow. Take your time, repeat things as necessary and try to be patient
    enough to wait when they have trouble ordering their thoughts.

Living as an
Alzheimer’s patient or as a caregiver of one is never easy, but with these
helpful hints and compassion, understanding and love, you can help make this
period in their lives a more peaceful one.

Source:
www.seniorslist.com/php?aid=4595

To reach one of our Advanced Senior Solution’s team members, either go to the Contact Us tab or call 727-443-2273. We’re here to help with all of your elder care questions, care needs, and much more! Call us today for a free no-obligation care consultation via phone or in person.

Who are our nation’s caregivers?

About one in
four American families or 22.4 million households care for someone over the age
of 50.
  •         About
    75% of caregivers are women.

         

  •     Two-thirds
    of caregivers in the United States have jobs in addition to caring for another
    person.

      

  •        Most
    caregivers are middle-aged: 35-64 years old.

Source:
www.medmicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=47882

To reach one of our Advanced Senior Solution’s team members, either go to the Contact Us tab or call 727-443-2273. We’re here to help with all of your elder care questions, care needs, and much more! Call us today for a free no-obligation care consultation via phone or in person.

12 Resources Every Caregiver Should Know About

Here’s a list of key
resources to help you in your caregiving role.
800-272-3900
Information and
support for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Operates a
24/7 helpline and care navigator tools.
The government’s free
information resource about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
Find programs and
services that allow caregivers to get a break from caring for a loved one.
800-677-1116
Connects caregivers to
local services and resources for older adults and adults with disabilities
across the United States.
800-445-8106
Information, education
and services for family caregivers, including the Family Care Navigator, a
state-by-state list of services and assistance.
800-Medicare
Provides information
about the parts of Medicare, what’s new and how to find Medicare plans,
facilities or providers.
A coalition of
national organizations focused on family caregiving issues.
Information and
education for family caregivers; includes the Caregiver Community Action
Network, a volunteer support network in over 40 states.
Information and tools
to plan for future long-term care needs.
800-772-1213
Information on
retirement and disability benefits, including how to sign up.
A program that offers
one-on-one insurance counseling and assistance to people with Medicare and
their families.
855-260-3274
Support and services
for families caring for veterans. Maintains a VA caregiver support line.

Source:
www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-08-2012/important-resources-for-caregivers.html

Handling a Hospitalization: Planning ahead for a more manageable experience

A loved one’s hospitalization can evoke fear and uncertainty
on the caregiver. With little planning though, you can make the experience more
manageable for both you and your loved one before, during, and after the stay.

Before a
hospitalization
Whether your loved one has a scheduled surgery or ends up in
the emergency room unexpectedly, he/she will need to have certain information
handy so the medical team can provide effective care. Help him/her create an “in
case of emergency” card that can he/she can keep in a wallet or purse with the
following information:
    o    Name.
    o    Date
of Birth.
    o    Doctors’
names and numbers.
    o    Any
allergies (medication, therapeutic dyes, food, etc.)
    o    Current
medications and dosage information for each.
    o    Current
or past medical problems.
    o    Previous
surgeries.
    o    Health
insurance information.
    o    Contact
information for primary caregiver(s) as well as a relative, friend, or neighbor
who lives nearby and can help with home or pet care, if applicable.

If your loved one has named a health care agent (also known
as a health care proxy or power of attorney) to make medical decisions should
he/she become incapable of making such decisions, include that person’s name
and contact information on the card. If he/she has not named a health care
agent, encourage him/her to do so. He/she may also want to complete a living
will. In the meantime, include the name and contact information for one or two
other emergency contacts. At least one contact should live near your loved one
and have HIPPA clearance.
Make sure to keep a copy of this information in y our own
purse or wallet as well.
During
Hospitalization
Once your loved one has been admitted to the hospital, find
out the name of the attending physician who will coordinate his/her care and
ask what’s the best way to reach him. Also make sure that your loved one’s
chart includes your phone number.
It is important to remember that as long as your loved one
is capable of making decisions and understanding the consequence of those
decisions he/she have the right to decide courses of treatment and even refuse
treatment, even if you, his physician and other family members disagree with
his/her choice. If your loved one is incapable of making decisions and you must
act as his/her health care agent, use his/her living will as a guide to ensure
that his/her wishes are followed through. Your role as a health care agent is
to voice your loved one’s wishes, not
your own.

Hospital discharge
planning
As soon as possible after admission to the hospital, speak
with the nurse, social worker, or other professional responsible for helping
you with discharge planning. Don’t wait until the day your loved one leaves the
hospital. You, your loved one and the discharge planner should work together to
decide if he/she should go to his/her own home, a relative’s or friend’s home,
a rehab facility or a nursing home as well as who will provide the necessary
care.
Make a list of everything that needs to get done in the days
and weeks ahead, and enlist friends’ and relatives to help.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself too. You will need
plenty of rest and time to de-stress in order to remain a caregiver.
Source: www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/info-08-2010/pc_handling_a_hospitalization.html

Family Caregivers for at Home Care Facts

A national survey reports that 46% of family caregivers are
performing medical/nursing tasks for a family member. These tasks include
managing medications, wound care, special diet food preparation, and operating
medical equipment such as a ventilator. Most of these caregivers said they had
little or no training to help them perform these tasks for their family member.
  •          6 out of 10 family caregivers learned about at
    least some of the medications on their own.
  •          4 out of 10 family caregivers doing wound care
    had to learn at least partly on their own.

This is not acceptable.
Family caregivers who take on these “medical/nursing tasks” need
and deserve clear, written, instructions, training, practice, and encouragement
to call professionals who can answer questions and offer more support along
with their contact number.
What family caregivers can do is expect and demand more from
their doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others.
  •       Do not sign the pharmacy form that says you have
    been counseled on the prescription if you really do not understand the
    medication, or how to give it and what to expect.
  •          Ask for help.
  •          Don’t tell the hospital that you and your family
    member are ready for discharge if you do not feel safe to do the tasks you have
    been told you need to do.
  •          Tell the doctor, nurse, or social worker you
    need more instructions.
  •          Ask for a referral to home care for follow-up
    teaching.
  •          Tell the doctor you are worried and need more
    support.

Family caregivers are now doing more than ever before. We
need to make sure we can help them do this crucial work.
Source: blog.aarp.org/2013/09/13/susan-reinhard-training-caregivers-for-at-home-care/

The Art of Caring for a Loved One

Balancing care for a loved one with medical professionals,
residential staff, or home health employees can get complicated quickly.
Defining your role as a caregiver can be difficult. How do you know when to let
go and trust the professional? How do you know who should take the lead and
when?
It is important to remember that although the professionals
have special training, they do not know your loved one like you do. They don’t know
the little things that can make a big difference for example, what is “normal”
for them? What do they like and dislike? Your role as a caregiver is a critical
one because your knowledge can make a difference.
Families and professionals working as a collaborative team
must have a care plan that includes the following:
  • Allowing
    the person you are caring for to be part of the conversation.
  • Keeping
    your loved one’s needs first.
  • Communicating
    openly and honestly in a respectful manner.
  •  Having
    a clear understanding of the lines of communication:

       o  
The chain of command- within the family and the
professionals you are working with.
       o  
Agreed upon communication modes- phone, email,
fax, video, letters, etc.
       o  
Timelines for communications.

Remember in order to come through difficult decisions with positive
outcomes for your loved one, you and the professionals should have mutual goal.

Resource:
blog.aarp.org/2013/09/13/caregiving-collaboration-to-help-a-parents/