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Friday, September 9, 2016

Caregiver Considerations

We’ve talked so much about caregiver stress that the phrase barely packs a punch anymore. You’ve heard all the “cliché advice” from make time for yourself to share the load. It all sounds so reasonable and within reach, unless, of course, you’re the caregiver.

Caregivers are well-acquainted with guilt, self-doubt, conflict, and exhaustion. Their days are characterized with highs and lows, dilemmas and predicaments, anxiety and resolve. It’s an emotional roller coaster that requires tremendous strength of character and devotion. It’s not all doom and gloom, but there is a reason we spend so much time talking about it. The stress is real. The experience is consuming. The path is unpredictable.

1. LEARN about your loved one’s condition
Being in the know will help to reduce stress and fear. Learn everything you can by consulting with physicians, visiting your local library and becoming acquainted with community resources.

2. PLAN ahead
Once you have educated yourself about your loved one’s condition, devise a plan that includes choosing potential healthcare providers in advance, preparing advance directives, and getting financial and legal affairs in order.

3. PRACTICE self-care
Taking care of yourself makes it possible for you to continue to be a caregiver to your loved one. Capable caregivers find the time to eat right, exercise, sleep and even schedule daily quiet time for relaxation, mediation or prayer.

4. CELEBRATE moments & make memories
Embrace the chance to live in the moment and enjoy your loved one when opportunities for laughter and intimacy present.  Allowing yourself to enjoy those moments as they unfold can go a long away in alleviating stress.

5. KNOW that you will make mistakes 
Making mistakes opens up the possibility of finding a better way to do things. At the end of the day, it won’t be the mistakes that matter. What matters is your willingness to keep putting one step in front of the other as you continue to care for your loved one.

6. TRY NOT to be a control freak
Trying to control every aspect of care will prove impossible for you and also work to alienate those willing to help. Folks will be less likely to help if you micromanage or bark orders.

7. ASK for help
You can do anything, but not everything. The next time a well-meaning neighbor, friend or family member asked what they can do to help, tell them. Make a list of chores that you could use help with and share the load.

8. RESPITE care
Adult day care, private duty home care, or even a brief stay at an assisted living or skilled nursing facility for your loved one may be helpful and/or necessary. Taking a break when you need one is another way of practicing self-care.

9. LEARN about signs & symptoms 
You are at increased risk for physical and mental health problems including depression. Once you burnout, care-giving is no longer a healthy solution for you or your loved one. That’s why it is so important to watch for warning signs and seek professional help when needed.

Being a caregiver is truly a labor of love. If you find yourself becoming too overwhelmed to continue being the sole caregiver, consider hiring a reputable private duty home care agency to help alleviate some of the burden.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Ohio Home Care Provider Sponsors an Intergenerational Learning Program

“Connections between generations are essential for the mental health and stability of a nation.”

              Margaret Mead

Capital Health Home Care in Ashtabula, Ohio is facilitating and sponsoring intergenerational learning between seniors residing in long term care settings and students at River Gate High School, a charter school in Warren, Ohio.  It is one component of a larger community outreach initiative on behalf of Capital Health Care Network known as the Capital Intergenerational Learning Program. 

The program is based on the idea that intergenerational learning is beneficial to seniors and students alike. According to Capital Health Home Care, both generations benefit in the following ways:
·         Improved sense of community and connectedness
·         Greater awareness and understanding
·         Opportunity to bridge the generation gap
·         Opportunity to break down age-based stereotypes 
·         Improved interpersonal skills and communication

“Intergenerational learning compliments our mission to provide seniors with opportunities for social and intellectual engagement,” said Lisa Stockdale, Vice President at Capital Health Care Network.  Stockdale said, “We believe our communities are improved anytime seniors and the elderly are valued, celebrated and acknowledged.  This program gives us the chance to promote intergenerational connections which is a win-win for seniors and students.” 

Erin Williams, Community Liaison at Capital Health Home Care in Ashtabula, spearheaded the Capital Intergenerational Learning Program when she connected students at River Gate High School with older adults via a letter writing campaign. “I thought we should match up seniors who have so much to offer with students looking for learning opportunities outside the classroom by encouraging them to become pen pals as a start,” said Williams.  River Gate High School, like many charter schools in Ohio, has little to no funding for extracurricular activities. 
Williams said Capital Health Home Care in Ashtabula is currently working on setting up other intergenerational learning opportunities including arranging for students at River Gate High School interested in healthcare to shadow nurses at local assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities. 

Assisted living communities, skilled nursing facilities and charter schools in the Ashtabula, Dayton, Steubenville or Columbus areas of Ohio can call 614-357-2965 to learn more or to inquire about participating in the program.