Dan Easton

/Dan Easton

About Dan Easton

Director of Social Media - Senior Care Central, LLC

Guest Blog: Burnout: Tips for Family Caregivers

Happy woman with elderly mother

By Dr. Nanette J. Davis, Ph.D.

Caregiving has often been compared to a roller coaster ride, with its inevitable ups and downs. This is especially true as your loved one deteriorates and faces the end of life. If you’re one of the 65 million family caregivers who has been feeling overwhelmed for too long, “burnout” may have set in.

Take that first step. Identify and claim the full range of your emotions—the anger, indifference, anxiety. In a recent study, 50% of family caregivers confessed to feeling depressed and some 69% admitted that frustration drove them to place their loved one in care. You may be experiencing the following, as well:

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion over role reversal
  • Loss of interest
  • Withdrawal or isolation from friends and other support persons
  • Irritability
  • Illness
  • Poor sleep
  • Desire to harm self or others

These unwanted reactions can also be compounded by the guilt and shame about feeling this way. Here are a few suggestions that might make a big difference.

  1. Make a point to engage in outside activities for maintaining a sense of health and well-being. Sure, it could feel like “one more thing” to do. But if you choose your outside activities wisely—staying away from demanding people or events—you could feel surprisingly refreshed.
  2. Seek and accept outside help. Once you admit to yourself and others that you can’t do it alone, the burden suddenly lifts. Good starting points are: local organizations, social service agencies and faith communities. Don’t overlook family, friends and neighbors who may be able to lend a hand.
  3. Allow your loved one plenty of opportunities to practice functional skills—as hard as it may be. Feeling as independent as possible satisfies a basic human need, even for a seriously ill person.
  4. Consult with a geriatric specialist, pastor or counselor about the right course of action if your loved one has become overly dependent or has exhausted your resources—physical, emotional or financial.
  5. Admit that you are juggling multiple roles, and engaging in an ever-so-delicate dance of support. The dance can go on as long as you allow the role of who leads and who follows to shift as circumstances change.
  6. Pay attention to your own needs. You can achieve balance when you include time to sleep, exercise, eat and attend to your own medical needs. Time spent with family, friends or just being alone helps you bounce back, too.
  7. Practice saying—maybe even forcefully—“no” when appropriate, and “yes” when someone offers to help.
  8. Seek out quality respite care.
  9. Enjoy an occasional movie or lunch with a supportive friend.
  10. Don’t expect too much from yourself.

Continue to recognize, acknowledge and accept your difficult emotions, so you can then work on setting boundaries, letting go of control and developing coping skills. For example, meditation and yoga can be incredibly relaxing.

Your commitment to your loved one can be a renewable resource if you take the right steps and are willing to change strategies when the “same ol’, same ol’” isn’t working anymore.

You can visit Dr. Nanette’s ABCs of Caregiving blog at http://www.abcsofcaregiving.com/

 

 

 

By | 2018-03-21T12:03:38+00:00 March 21st, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Burnout: Tips for Family Caregivers

Guest Blog: Spending Tips for Your Grand Kids

bigstock-grandma-with-your-grandson-12149147

Introduction: Being a grandparent is special in many ways. It sometimes means overspending and spoiling our grandkids. We tend to cut down on other expenses rather than buying gifts for our cute little ones.

What’s so special about being a grandparent? Grand parenting brings along with it opportunities for loving a new person, the magic of childhood, play and fun and the joy of parenthood minus the heartache that often goes along with it. It is also an opportunity to share your hobbies with a young, curious mind, watch as the kids grow and develop, provide encouragement and make an impact, draw upon your breadth of experience to guide the child through life’s challenges. Many grandparents, in today’s graying America, provide care for their grandkids while mom goes off to work. This can be a very enriching experience for both.

Why do we overspend on our grandkids? A 2012 study by AARP shows that 89% of grandparents spoil their grandkids. USA Today says that 40% of Americans spend $500 or more per year on their grandchildren. Some grandparents even pay for their grandchildren college education and afterschool activities, such as piano lessons and dance classes. Grandparents often find themselves in a dilemma where they would like to be there for their adult kids financially but don’t want to jeopardize their retirement savings.

Where can I cut on spending?

  • Give the gift of time. It doesn’t always have to be a gift. Going on a hike together or doing a baking project can be a very memorable one for the two of you, much more so then a gift. Share stories. Your grandchildren will be delighted to hear stories about when their parents were children. Get with the times and learn to text and build a relationship that will last.
  • Make a budget. “Making a budget is the most important thing you can do because then you will be able to understand where your money is going and where you can afford to make cuts,” says Meg Favreau, senior editor of Wisebread.com. Grandparents should not fall into the trap of overspending on their grandkids. “If it’s affecting your ability to meet your obligations or is dipping into retirement savings, that’s a sign that it’s excessive spending,” says Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial. For full article, click here.

Save your retirement for the fun things in life. Very often, without proper planning, our retirement funds get totally wiped out down the road if a loved one requires long-term care. Medicaid will usually cover for many types of care, including in-home, assisted living and nursing home care. They will however “look back” for a period of five years prior to application to uncover monetary gifts granted- “spent down” during that period, in which case they will impose a penalty corresponding with the gifted funds. Plan ahead and gift the monies to your loved ones now, so it doesn’t hurt you in the years to come. A Medicaid planning company like Senior Planning Services can guide you through the application process if you’re eligible and help shoulder the burden in these stressful times.

Conclusion: Being a grandparent is one of life’s most meaningful pleasures, but it can also be a juggling act. Knowing when to educate, when to spoil, when to stop spending, when to “spend down” and when to save your retirement funds; are all part of this blessing called grandparenthood.

 

Save

By | 2018-03-19T17:48:22+00:00 March 20th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Spending Tips for Your Grand Kids

Guest Post: “Hitting a wall” – Why it is the biggest risk of marathon caring.

Running a marathon is one of the toughest things that you can do. Doing the full 26.2 miles requires grit, determination and a bit of luck. Luck in the sense that it reaches a point along the marathon whereby your will to run is gone and all you can do is hope that your body doesn’t give in. You require a lot of energy to run a marathon but the fact that it is a competitive event makes it difficult for stop and snack up. You, therefore, have to do with the food reserves stored in your body. The problem with this, however, is that the body can only store a limited amount of food reserves. This reserve is depleted way before you complete the marathon and it is at this point that the “wall” appears.

The wall.

To provide you with the energy to run, food is broken down to supply you with this energy. The primary food item that broken down to generate energy is carbohydrates since it requires very little oxygen to do so. When you are running, you let in very little oxygen into the blood stream and that is why carbohydrates are broken down first. The body can hold about 2000 calories of carbohydrates at any given time and this reserve can only last up to the 20th mile. From this point, the body turns to the fat deposits in the body for energy generation. Breaking down fats to produce energy generates a lot of waste products and this contaminates your interior. It also requires a lot of oxygen but since you are not taking in enough air, the body resorts to burning your muscles to generate the needed oxygen. This has the effect of making you feel like you are pulling a heavy load with your feet. Since your body is concentrating on generating energy, your focus shifts from running to this activity. You, therefore, find it difficult to concentrate on running and those who are not of strong will find it easy to give up.

Marathon caring and ‘The Wall”.

Aging brings with it a lot of challenges and at some stage in life, we would be expected to take care of our loved ones. It could be our parents, grandparents or other family members. Most would think that it will only be for a short period of time but the truth is that it usually stretches several years and this is what makes it a marathon. Taking care of another person is very challenging and it will overwhelm even those claiming to be strong willed. It requires that you feed, clothe as well as clean up the person under your care. You are in charge of their medication as well and this means that you have to monitor their pills to make sure they never run out. See how overwhelming that can be?

When compared to a marathon, all these responsibilities represent the various stages of a marathon. It is easier at the beginning since you are all psyched up and full of energy. It gets difficult with time as your ‘energy reserves’ are depleted and your enthusiasm fades. At this point, it is only a matter of time before you ‘hit the wall’.

The wall of a marathon caregiver.

The wall to a marathon caregiver represents that point when you see your dependent as a burden. This is that point when you are no longer excited to see those in your care. The wall is a very difficult point since it could see you neglect those in your care.

Keeping the wall at bay.

There are a few things that you can do to keep the way at bay. The first thing is to understand the course and this entails understanding your dependents better. If they have any illnesses, get to understand them as this will make it easy for you to manage them. Learn how to take care of old people and you can do that by checking out care homes near me. This will make you a better care giver and better equipment to avoid the wall.

Save

Save

By | 2018-02-22T16:56:45+00:00 February 22nd, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Post: “Hitting a wall” – Why it is the biggest risk of marathon caring.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Profile – Dr. Kristen Mauk

Kristen Mauk has never been one to stop learning. The clinical nurse specialist has nearly 30 years of experience in rehabilitation and gerontology, a handful of degrees, and has authored or edited seven books. She now helps train the future generation as a professor of nursing at Colorado Christian University in Colorado. She also recently launched her own business, Senior Care Central/International Rehabilitation Consultants, which provides nursing and rehabilitation education throughout the world.

Question: What drew you to nursing? What do you enjoy about it?

Mauk: “I grew up in a medical family. My father was a pediatric surgeon and my mom was a nurse, so I was always around the healthcare professions. However, nursing offered so many opportunities for growth and change while doing what I loved — helping others. There are many aspects of nursing that I enjoy, but feeling like I help make peoples’ lives better has to be the best perk of the job. Nursing is a versatile profession. I started off my career as an operating room nurse, worked for a decade in med-surg, geriatrics, and rehabilitation, then eventually went back to school for additional education so that I could make a greater impact on healthcare through teaching nursing students.”

Question: You have an impressive education. Why did you continue to pursue advanced degrees in the field? How has that benefited you?

Mauk: “First, I am a life-long learner, something that was instilled by my father who was always encouraging his children to explore the world and have an inquiring mind. Dinners at my house were filled with learning activities such as, ‘How does a flashlight work?,’ ‘What is a group of lions called?,’ or ‘For $20, who can spell hors d’oeuvres?’ (By the way, I got that $20!) So, continuing my education through studying for advanced degrees seemed a natural progression when you love to learn and love your work. I felt a need to know as much as possible about my areas of interest, gerontology and rehabilitation, so that I could provide better care to patients and be a better teacher for my students. My advanced education has?opened many doors in the professional nursing world, such as the opportunity to write books, conduct research to improve the quality of life for stroke survivors, or hold national positions in professional organizations.”

Question: What’s one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had, either as a student, educator or in your practice?

Mauk: “There are many memorable experiences I’ve had both as an educator and in practice. One of the most memorable from practice was early in my career working on a skilled/rehab unit in a little country hospital in Iowa. There was an older man who couldn’t find a radio station that played his favorite hymns and one of my co-workers knew that I had a musical background and asked me to sing to him at the bedside. I timidly held his hand as he lay in his hospital bed, and with the door closed because it was late at night, I softly sang all the old hymns I could remember. He closed his eyes and smiled, clasping my hand for nearly an hour of singing. The next evening, I heard him excitedly tell his family members that ‘an angel visited me last night. She had the sweetest voice I’ve ever heard. She held my hand and sang all of my favorite hymns!’ Hearing that outside the door, I smiled, but was later surprised when I stopped in to see him that he truly didn’t seem to remember me. One day later, he died unexpectedly. I often look back and wonder on that experience. In the many years of nursing experience that followed, I have learned that there are sometimes angels where we least expect them.”

Question: What advice do you have for people just starting their education or their professional career?

Mauk: “Nursing is a great profession! Learn all that you can while you are in school and continue to be a lifelong learner. The need for nurses who specialize in care of older adults and rehabilitation is only going to continue to grow because of the booming aging population. There is currently, and will continue to be, a shortage of skilled professionals to meet the demand that is looming with the graying of America. Gain skills that will make you a specialist and afford you additional opportunities. Always give the best care to those you serve. Set yourself apart by building a professional reputation for excellence through advanced education, publication, scholarship, clinical practice, and community service. Then, go and change the world!”

CLINICAL NURSE SPECIALIST PROFILE FOR KRISTEN MAUK

Save

Save

Save

By | 2018-02-19T18:21:35+00:00 February 19th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Clinical Nurse Specialist Profile – Dr. Kristen Mauk

Guest Blog: Four Ways to Make Travel Easier for Seniors

Traveling is stressful for everyone, but traveling as a senior citizen comes with its own unique challenges. In order to make your next trip as easy and enjoyable as possible, be sure to keep these four easy tips in mind.

1. Prepare for Security Checkpoints

If you have to go through a TSA checkpoint before your trip, make sure you plan for it ahead of time.

TSA agents typically try to make things as easy and efficient as possible for seniors, especially those who are in wheelchairs or have other mobility limitations.

To help them do their job properly, make sure you let the agent know about any medical conditions — like pacemakers or implants — that might set off alarms. You should also try to get a physician’s statement verifying your implant to avoid delays.

2. Invest in Quality Pillows

Hotel pillows are often not as comfortable as the ones you have at home. Either bring one with your or invest in a quality pillow before you go to make sure you sleep comfortably at night.

You’ll also want to invest in a neck and back pillow for car and plane rides. This way, you won’t have to deal with any pain on your way to your destination.

3. Pack Light

Try to fit everything you need in a roll-aboard suitcase and a medium-sized carry on bag. Don’t bring more than you can carry — otherwise, you’ll be setting yourself up for a lot of discomfort.

If possible, bring both your bags on the plane and stash one in the overhead rack. This will make things easier when you land since you won’t have to hang around the baggage claim area.

4. Manage Your Medication

Make sure your medications are safe and accessible throughout your trip. Store them in a zip-lock bag and keep that bag in your carry-on. Keep copies of your prescriptions and physician statements in the bag as well.

When you get to your destination, you may want to ask for reminders from the hotel or cruise staff to help you take your medication at the same time each day. You can also set an alarm on your watch or cell phone so you stay on top of everything.

Traveling as a senior doesn’t have to be stressful. Keep these tips in mind to stay safe and comfortable throughout your trip.

 

By | 2018-02-09T18:47:51+00:00 February 9th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Four Ways to Make Travel Easier for Seniors