By Jim|2023-01-30T17:07:51-05:00February 25th, 2023|News Posts|Comments Off on Relaxation for Caregivers: 01 Introduction
Guest Blog: How to Get Care with These Common Chronic Illnesses
Understanding health insurance in America can sometimes feel like it requires its own specialized degree, even if you are at an advanced age and have navigated the red tape for years. As we age, and more health conditions become apparent, and navigating treatment options and cost can become increasingly tedious. About 40 million Americans are limited in their daily lives due to effects from one or multiple chronic illnesses.
The questions can become daunting: Can I get coverage if I have chronic conditions? Does my coverage include treatment and/or therapy? Is my coverage capped or limited at any point? What if I have multiple afflictions? Luckily there are resources out there to help you navigate these obstacles, you just need to know how to find them. We’ve compiled some tips and resources to help you get treatment and care with common chronic illness.
Chronic heart disease which is an umbrella term that includes coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, and others is the leading cause of death for men, women, and most racial groups in the United States (about 655,000 deaths a year). The average age for a first heart attack in the US is 65, which is why it is commonly labeled a disease of senior citizens. However, with the right treatment options, many people survive heart disease for years.
Luckily, Medicare offers both medical and hospital coverage for heart disease patients which includes one free heart screen every five years, along with cardiovascular behavioral therapy visits annually with a primary care physician for preventative care. These screenings cover blood tests for cholesterol, lipids, and triglycerides along with dialogues that cover risk factors.
Chronic Kidney Disease
The CDC estimates that 15% of US adults have chronic kidney disease, which translates to around 37 million people. Depending on when it is caught, and how diligent you are with treatment options, the impact of CKD can range from minor diet restrictions to organ transplant. Most patients do not experience kidney function loss until stage three of the disease or later. These patients should still regularly meet with their primary care physician, address underlying conditions that could be contributing to the problem such as a fatty diet, lack of exercise, or smoking, but they typically do not need treatment options.
However, those who suffer from End Stage Renal Disease (stage five) have lost sufficient function in both kidneys and must regularly receive dialysis treatment until they can receive a transplant. Medicare covers inpatient, outpatient, and home dialysis treatment options under their part B and part C coverage plans. This includes supplies, nursing services, lab testing and in some cases transportation to and from treatment centers.
Degenerative Brain Disease(s)
While CKD is a very specific diagnosis that highlights kidney efficiency, neurodegenerative brain disease is more of a general term that is meant to include other specific diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, dementia and Spinal Muscular atrophy. Unfortunately most degenerative nerve diseases have no cure, and treatment coverage options vary based on diagnosis. For example, Medicare overs PET scans for those with FTD (fronto-temporal dementia) and Alzheimer’s, but only if patients meet eight additional conditions. In general, government assistance will cover hospital visits for any patient that has Part A coverage (thankfully), and most home care is also covered by Part B coverage.
However, like with previous examples, specific stipulations have to be met in order to receive the necessary coverage and treatment. Generally speaking, you should consult with your primary care physician and his staff to understand the right process for you.
If the red tape with Medicare and a chronic illness is hard to comprehend, understanding how they prioritize and rank coverage based on multiple illnesses is akin to learning a new language. The CDC estimates that roughly 40% of adults in the US have two or more chronic diseases, and for those on medicare that represents a drastically different approach to how they receive coverage.
For those with multiple chronic conditions, Medicare Advantage coverage combines all the differences in parts A, B, and D and lumps them into one single service umbrella of coverage.
In 2018 the Senate passed the CHRONIC Care Act which expanded Medicare Advantage coverage and paved the way for those who require an elevated number of services like adult day care, caregivers, meal delivery, and more. To learn more about Medicare Advantage, we recommend this comprehensive write up here.
Susan is a guest writer on behalf of InsuranceFAQ.net. Susan wants to spread awareness on understanding health care and insurance coverage.
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.
Guest Blog: Hiring an In-Home Caregiver: What You Need to Know
When looking for an in-home caregiver for your loved one, it’s a given you would prefer someone they can get along with really well and will do a great job of taking care of them. However, finding this home care option for your senior loved one can be challenging at times.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of tips you can follow to ensure you find the perfect person for the job. The following tips should get your search off to a fantastic start:
Create a clear job description
To come up with a clear job description, identify what your elderly loved one’s needs are. A clear and specific job description can help you determine the flexibility needed, the number of hours they’ll be looking after your loved one, and how much you are likely to pay.
Be flexible when hiring independently
If you want to find great candidates, you need to be flexible about the pay. It is also recommended that you offer the going rate in your area. Otherwise, you might not find applicants with the care skills you are looking for.
Conduct multiple interviews and a trial period
To get more insights about a candidate, consider conducting three interviews:
- A short screening interview over the phone to ensure they meet the necessary requirements.
- An in-person interview if they pass the phone screening.
- An in-person interview where the top 2 candidates can also meet your elderly loved one.
Ask all the important questions during the interview
Asking all the right questions can help you find someone responsible, compassionate, and trustworthy. It would also be a good idea to ask what they’ll do in a specific situation. For instance, what they would do if your elderly loved one refuses medications or does not cooperate.
Check their references
Even if you find a candidate very impressive, it is ideal that you still do a background check. You can do this by calling the work references they have provided. You can ask if they do a good job and if they’ll hire the candidate again.
While finding the best in-home caregiver can be challenging, it can be done. As long as you prepare accordingly and cover all the essential bases, you’ll find the right person for the job with ease.
How to Take Care of Yourself When You’re Caring for a Loved One
As a caregiver, you’re no stranger to physical and emotional exhaustion. But if you’re like many other caregivers, you may have come to accept that living in a relentlessly drained state is just part of your role. But what if it wasn’t? What if there were realistic ways to foster your own health and well-being and recharge each day?
Fortunately, there are! And practicing self-care not only helps you, but it will also allow you to provide your loved one with better care. Consider these practical self-care tips from Senior Care Central to help you start your new life:
Delegate Household Tasks
When you are a caregiver, your home should be a peaceful retreat to which you can go after a long day. That applies whether you live with your loved one or not. The problem is, if you are busy, trying to fit in all of your household tasks to keep your home well-maintained can stress you out. Rather than let that happen, think about services that you can hire out to others.
Socialize on the Regular
Caregiving can be extremely isolating. And you might feel like you don’t have time to spend with other important people in your life. However, as a social being, it is critical to interact and maintain relationships with close friends and relatives. Try to carve out time in your schedule for others, and it will improve your overall quality of life.
One option is planning fun outings either for just you, or for you and your loved one. These could include a trip to the park or a museum, or perhaps a baseball game where you can sit and relax in the fresh air. For instance, you can browse ticket prices for the Dodgers well in advance, and you don’t have to worry about hidden fees getting between you and that stadium hot dog.
Focus Your Nutrition
This is probably no surprise to you, but it’s worth repeating, your diet matters a great deal. Try eating clean foods for a month and see if you don’t notice big changes in how you feel. You can start simply by basing your diet around lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Exercise Every Day
One of the most effective ways to reduce stress in your life is to work out on a regular basis. There are countless physical activities that can help you break a sweat and get those endorphins flowing! Don’t be afraid to try everything from running to cycling, from weightlifting to yoga. And try to exercise outdoors whenever possible to get the added benefits of sunshine.
Do Breathing Exercises
There are many different types of breathing exercises that can benefit your mental health. But one of the easiest ones to start with is breath awareness.
Sit in a comfortable position on a cushion or chair, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. You will probably have distracting thoughts, but keep focusing on your breath and they will pass. Then, take a slow breath through your nose for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, and exhale for five seconds. Do this repeatedly for ten minutes, and you will notice a deep relaxation come over your mind, body, and soul.
Sleep and Relax
When you’re stressed out, it can be really difficult to sleep. But there is no way you can be an effective caregiver and maintain your quality of life long-term if you live in a sleep-deprived state.
Be conscious of the caffeine you consume and the food you eat after lunch and find relaxing activities you can do before bed that will help you unwind. Pick up a print book, take a long bath, or do some light yoga stretches. And make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.
If you want to be the best caregiver you can be without sacrificing your mental health in the process, it’s essential to practice self-care. The ideas above can get you off to a great start, but keep looking for other ways you can foster your health and wellness as you carry out one of the hardest jobs in the world. In no time, you’ll find yourself feeling better, becoming more patient, and getting more out of your everyday life!