Guest Blog Self-Care Tips For Caregivers

Self-care is defined as caring for ourselves physically, psychologically, spiritually, and socially. Because when we are focused on those things outside of ourselves it is so easy to overlook our own needs, self-care is a concept that applies to everyone.

For example, imagine that your boss lays a new project in your lap with an impending – and almost impossible – deadline. You put everything aside because the project requires all of your energy. So, you don’t do those stretches that keep your low back pain at bay. You don’t return non-professional emails, texts, or messages. You reschedule every appointment that doesn’t apply to this project.

In the end, the project does get done, but you find yourself completely exhausted, and in serious need of a break. The truth is, any of us can find ourselves in this situation at any time, but especially when we undertake the care of a dependent other.

People who rely on us for their daily living cannot be put on the back burner. Maybe they need help getting dressed, making meals, taking a bath, or just getting out of bed. (In some cases, the care may mean just being turned in bed to avoid developing bedsores.)

For caregivers, the work never ends. Every single day they are a requirement to another person and it is simply not possible to call in sick when someone else depends on you more than you need a day off.

The result is that caregivers are often the worst at self-care. When this happens, they can end up feeling exhausted, irritable, resentful, and hopeless. And the quality of care they can provide suffers. For caregivers, quality care starts and ends with consistent self-care.

Remember The Why

Tony Robbins is famous for always asking for the WHY. The reason for this is because when we have a why, we can find a how. This becomes monumentally more important when what we are doing is hard, long-lasting, and with little gain.

It is these times when it makes the most sense to give up because the energy we put out can seem out of proportion to what we get back. But this is also when it is so important to stop and ask ourselves why we got into this work in the first place. What was it about caring for others who depend on us that attracted us? Why did we choose this profession over others? And why do we keep at it despite the long, exhausting hours?

Answering questions like this will bring us back to the fundamental reasons for our decision to go into caregiving. It will also bring us back to a fundamental human need – which is to have a purpose.

To be content with our lives, we must feel that what we do has meaning. We must feel like we matter in one way or another, and that what we do makes a difference. Whatever our why is, it carries us forward when times get challenging. It reinforces us, stabilizes us, gives us solid ground on which to stand.

Find Something To Be Grateful For

Gratitude is such a powerful emotion that even just keeping a daily gratitude list has been shown to have a dramatic effect on many measures of our lives – from happiness and wellbeing to creativity and productivity.

While gratitude can be described as a “top end” emotion that is most effective when everything else in our life is going well, in many cases, it is just the opposite. It is through being grateful that we find a way to get through things that confound us, challenge us, overwhelm us, and make us want to quit.

For caregivers, gratitude is especially effective because not only is caring for another person inherently hard, when they are dependent, it is without end. It is at these times that our psychological systems most need bolstering, and on a daily basis.

What gratitude effectively does is bring us out of the dreariness of our daily lives and into a new perspective where things look different. And when we begin to see differently, those things we see begin to change. The sunrise looks brighter, the trees greener, the flowers brighter, and the people more kind.

Make Humor A Part Of Your Daily Life

Humor is a wonderful resource that has been associated with feelings of wellbeing, happiness, vitality, creativity, and even cognitive functioning. Humor is something that has also been demonstrated in a variety of species and seems to play a central role in bonding. But perhaps most importantly, humor acts like a tonic for the brain.

Humor allows us to temporarily escape our reality, to transform our situation is a way that brings us levity and lightness. When we can stop to laugh, we can, for the moment, suspend any negative emotions we might otherwise be feeling. We can, momentarily, make our situation and ourselves feel different.

For caregivers, humor is an essential resource because it acts like a reset button. Performed regularly, humor doesn’t just make every day better, it makes the tough ones survivable.

Caring for another person may be one of the most challenging jobs we can choose. But it is also one that is essential. By remembering why we choose to become caregivers, finding things to be grateful for and incorporating humor into our daily lives, we can keep ourselves at our best for ourselves and those who depend on us every day.

By |2022-06-03T09:33:46-05:00June 13th, 2022|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog Self-Care Tips For Caregivers

Guest Blog: Holiday Gifts for Showing Caregivers They Are Appreciated

Sometimes the holidays bring with them conundrums, and figuring out good gifts is usually one of them. Finding a present that expresses how much you value the caregiver in your life can be particularly challenging. We’ve pulled together a list of ideas that go the extra mile for that special someone who always serves above and beyond for you or your loved one.

Rest and relaxation

It’s no secret that caregivers bear a heavy burden. Selecting a gift that provides relaxation and comfort can bring meaningful restoration to those in the role of caregiver. Consider an aromatherapy diffuser with essential oils in soothing scents, such as lavender, sandalwood, or vanilla. Along those same lines, you could assemble a gift basket for an indulgent bath. Choose oils, lotions, and bath salts in a favorite scent, and add a luxurious towel and some herbal teas.

If you really want to wow your caregiver, consider splurging on a new mattress. Some of the bed-in-a-box options are particularly outstanding, and it can be delivered straight to the recipient’s door. Look for a top-rated mattress that can fit any sleep style. For example, the Leesa is one great option. It’s a highly-rated foam mattress that’s optimal for all sleeping styles and is perfectly poised between soft and firm.

Connection and caring

Sometimes a break is the best gift you can give someone who is in the role of caregiving. Consider a gift certificate to a local restaurant or movie theater, and include a handwritten note on pretty paper or a card saying you will cover care during the meal.

If your time is tight or the duties are too complex, offer to perform a task for the caregiver instead. Pick up groceries, take her car for an oil change, then get it washed and waxed, or do some yard work or housekeeping. If the caregiver can’t break away, consider reaching out with an offer to bring a meal over. You can prepare lunch and sit down together, which is a chance for companionship and conversation – a gift often beyond immeasurable value.

For an ongoing gift, a meal delivery service can be a boon to caregivers, making nutritious food easy and convenient, or consider a coffee club subscription. If you’re good friends, considering having a movie night together. Popcorn, a dvd, and a few hours of friendship can provide much needed respite, and choosing a comedy offers the bonus of allowing you both to laugh off stress.

Happiness and hobbies

Certain kinds of activities tend to fall by the wayside for caregivers. With that in mind, consider ways to help your caregiver pursue a hobby interest. You can assemble a gift tote of supplies, such as for crafting, baking, or woodworking. Add a note explaining that once a week you’ll cover care, or you could hire an aide to cover that time periodically.

If your special caregiver loves events, tickets to a tour, concert or play can be ideal. Another idea is to purchase participation in a class your caregiver would enjoy, such as in culinary arts, yoga, or music lessons.

For booklovers, a new e-reader could be just the ticket, along with a gift card to download some books. Journaling is a popular stress-reliever for caregivers, allowing them to sort through emotions and process events of the day. Consider purchasing a handmade journal and selecting an especially beautiful pen to go with it.

For caregivers who are primarily housebound, a bird feeder which mounts to the window or could hang from a nearby tree can provide hours of peaceful entertainment and stress relief. Add a pair of binoculars, seed, and a bird identification guide to make your gift complete.

Caregiving is a challenging burden, and those who take on the responsibility are worthy of special gifts. Consider options which show how much you appreciate their self-less, loving assistance. The holidays are the perfect season for demonstrating how grateful you are to the caregiver in your life.

By |2021-11-08T12:25:59-05:00November 20th, 2021|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Holiday Gifts for Showing Caregivers They Are Appreciated

Navigating the Financial Decisions Seniors Face After Becoming Widowed – And How Caregivers Can Help

Experiencing the loss of a spouse is a major change for anyone to deal with, but for seniors who have shared their life with one person for years, losing a spouse often brings about unexpected consequences. Besides dealing with grief, there are also financial issues to confront.

Seniors who are going through this loss often feel overwhelmed by the decisions they need to make and how those decisions will impact their future. This is where adult children or other caregivers can make a big difference by helping your loved one make sense of it all, so they can move forward with a solid financial plan.

Read on for some more thoughts from International Rehabilitation Consultants.

Knowing When and How to Help

 As a caregiver of someone in this position, one thing you may be concerned about is whether your senior loved one should continue managing their own finances. Next Avenue points out that it’s important to address this concern openly before making any decisions. If you both feel like it’s a good idea for you to help, you will want to have your loved one sign a durable power of attorney, which will give you legal authority to access and manage accounts.

In some cases, your loved one may be able to manage their own accounts with a little assistance. Tech-savvy seniors should look into online banking, or as Bankrate recommends, consider trying apps that help, such as SilverBills or Ready, Set, Bank.

If your loved one wants to set up a nonprofit in their spouse’s memory and honor, you can help walk them through the process. Visit Zenbusiness to learn about legal requirements you need to tend to set up a nonprofit.

Health and Safety Concerns

 Besides helping with the mundane financial tasks, you can also help by looking over your loved one’s financial statements to make sure their health needs are being met. This is especially important if your loved one is living alone because health and safety could become a concern.

One specific area to discuss is healthcare coverage. You can start by asking what kind of Medicare plan they have or if they get insurance through retirement benefits, either their own or through their spouse. This is a crucial question, as the death of a spouse may change your loved one’s eligibility for employer retirement benefits.

If your loved one has Medicare, you may want to look into whether a Medicare Advantage plan would be right for their financial situation. These plans are sold through popular companies like Aetna, and many seniors like the expanded benefits they provide, such as dental and vision care and prescription drug coverage.

Taking the Next Steps

 Once you’ve looked at your loved one’s overall financial outlook, the next major question is “Where do we go from here?” Depending on your loved one’s income and savings, they may not need to make major changes. However, some seniors who become widowed are dealt a financial blow as a result of losing their spouse’s income.

In this case, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a financial advisor so that you don’t rush into decisions that could prove detrimental in the long term. For example, there are some tax implications of becoming widowed, including the decision to make early withdrawals from retirement savings. Doing this may seem like a good option for replacing a spouse’s lost income, but your loved one may lose out by having to pay additional taxes and penalties.

Another major consideration is whether your loved one will continue living at home. This is a personal decision, and finances are only part of the equation. If your loved one decides to sell their home, this is another issue where you want to do your research and consult with an expert, such as an attorney, who can guide you in the legal aspects of selling as a widow or widower.

By |2021-10-27T11:44:06-05:00October 27th, 2021|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Navigating the Financial Decisions Seniors Face After Becoming Widowed – And How Caregivers Can Help

How Caregiving Has Become a Routine Part of American Life

By Tess DiNapoli

America’s caregivers support the social and economic foundations of our society. As the population ages, more and more elderly adults need extra care on a regular basis. To address these needs, a significant and growing number of people are serving as caregivers to family members and others in their communities. In addition, we continue to face the challenges of COVID-19, which has caused many Americans to make the choice to keep their elderly relatives at home and provide care for them. These realities are making caregiving a more routine part of American life.

Who are the caregivers?

The number of Americans providing care for family and other members of their communities has grown over the last five years. According to an AARP study, 43.5 million adults in the United States are caregivers. The vast majority of those caregivers, 34.2 million, are providing care for adults 50 and over.

A substantial number of caregivers are also caring for more than one person, the majority of them being women, as they’re likely looking after both young children and their aging parents.

Multigenerational households

One of the growing realities in America is that many households span multiple generations. Older adults want to stay out of congregate senior care facilities as long as possible, and adult children often become their caregivers. To lessen the burdens of caregiving, a number of these adult children are choosing to bring their parents to live in their own homes with them.

Challenges of caregiving

Caregivers face a multitude of challenges as they provide support to older adults. The time commitment of caregiving is substantial, the financial strain can be significant, especially for unpaid caregivers, and the emotional stress of caring for others can affect the mental health and well-being of the caregiver.

Time challenges

The Family Caregiver Alliance indicates that family caregivers spend an average of over 24 hours providing care each week. This time commitment is on top of the demands of jobs, children, and social obligations. The number of hours a caregiver devotes to caregiving increases when the care recipient lives in the same household. The time commitment also increases with the age of the care recipient.

Financial challenges

When a caregiver is spending a significant number of hours providing care, they are not as available for extra work hours or more work responsibilities. As a consequence, caregivers are often forced to pass up promotions or cut their work hours, diminishing their own earning potential. These financial decisions can have long-lasting effects, potentially lowering social security benefits and retirement savings.

Mental health challenges

The American Psychological Association has identified several mental health concerns that are common among those providing senior care. Depression, anxiety, and guilt are some of the most prevalent challenges to the mental well-being of caregivers.

Benefits of caregiving

Despite these significant challenges, there are benefits to more routine caregiving in American life. Caregivers are less isolated with a growing number of other adults facing the same burdens. As caregiving becomes a more normal aspect of adult life, communities of caregivers help to ease some of the burdens and challenges they all face.

In addition, seniors benefit from remaining at home to receive care and support. They are not constrained by the schedules of care facilities and they can retain a degree of independence, which helps with mental well-being. Remaining in familiar surroundings can ease the strain and anxiety of aging as well.

Caregivers can help their care recipients to maintain their own mental health. One of the risks to elderly adults as they age is social isolation. They are not as able to get out of the house and socialize with their peers, whether due to physical limitations, no longer being able to drive themselves, or both. Caregivers provide much-needed companionship and can keep those in their care from getting lonely and depressed.

There are financial benefits as well. The costs of institutional care for the elderly are often prohibitive. Providing care to older adults in their homes is a cost-effective alternative for those who do not need around-the-clock care.

The reality is that the largest population in America, the baby boomer generation, is now aging. The care needs of these older adults will continue to be an increasing element of American society over the coming years, and we’ll need to prepare ourselves to meet that challenge as well.

 

 

 

By |2021-10-06T19:29:02-05:00October 6th, 2021|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on How Caregiving Has Become a Routine Part of American Life