Caregivers: How to Deal with Stress

According to Mayo Clinic staff, there are more than 65 million Americans providing care for a loved one. While caregiving can be extremely rewarding, it can also be physically and emotionally taxing.

The Mayo Clinic identifies the following as signs of caregiver stress:

  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Feeling overwhelmed and irritable
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy

 

There are ways to deal with this stress. The Mayo Clinic recommends taking the following steps:

 

  • Accept help. Be prepared with a list of ways that oth­ers can help you and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do. For instance, one person might be happy to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week. Someone else might offer to pick up groceries for you.
  • Don’t give in to guilt. Feeling guilty is normal, but understand that no one is a “perfect” caregiver. You’re doing the best you can at any given time. Your house does not have to be perfect, and no one will care if you eat leftovers three days in a row. And you don’t have to feel guilty about asking for help.
  • Get informed. Organizations such as the Red Cross and the Alzheimer’s Association offer classes on caregiving, and local hospitals may have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing.
  • Join a support group. A support group can be a great source for encouragement and advice from others in similar situations. It can also be a good place to make new friends.
  • Stay connected. Make an effort to stay in touch with family and friends. Set aside time each week for socializing, even if it’s just a walk with a friend. Whenever possible, make plans that get you out of the house.
  • Commit to staying healthy. Find time to be physically active on most days of the week, and don’t neglect your need for a good night’s sleep. It’s also crucial to eat a healthy diet.
  • See your doctor. Get recommended immunizations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver. Don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have.

Also recommended is taking a break from your caregiving duties. There are many options, including adult care centers, day hospitals, in- home care, and short term nursing homes.

Read more about what the Mayo Clinic has to say about caregiver stress and prevention here: Caregiver Stress: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

Posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2011 :: Filed under Articles.

Senior Health: Recognize the Signs of Inadequate Nutrition

According to Mayo Clinic staff, nutrition is critical to senior health, especially for those seniors that are seriously ill or suffering from dementia.

Unfortunately, spotting malnutrition in adults can be tricky. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following steps to catch improper nutrition:

Observe your loved one’s eating habits. Spend time with an older loved one during meals at home, not just on special occasions. If your loved one lives alone, find out who buys his or her food. If your loved one is in a hospital or long term care facility, visit during mealtimes.

Look for physical problems. Red flags for malnutrition might include poor wound healing, easy bruising, dental difficulties and weight loss. Watch for signs of weight loss, such as changes in how clothing fits.

Know your loved one’s medications. Many drugs affect appetite, digestion and nutrient absorption.”

You can also try to prevent the causes of inadequate nutrition in your seniors life. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following could be triggers of malnutrition:

Health problems. Older adults often have health problems that can lead to decreased appetite or trouble eating, such as chronic illness, use of certain medications, trouble chewing due to dental issues, problems swallowing or difficulty absorbing nutrients. A recent hospitalization may be accompanied by loss of appetite or other nutrition problems. In other cases, a diminished sense of taste and smell decreases appetite.

Limited income and reduced social contact. Some older adults may have trouble affording groceries, especially if they’re taking expensive medications. Those who eat alone may not enjoy meals, causing them to lose interest in cooking and eating.

Depression. Grief, loneliness, failing health, lack of mobility and other factors may contribute to depression — causing loss of appetite among older adults.

Alcoholism. Alcoholism is a leading contributor to malnutrition — decreasing appetite and vital nutrients and frequently serving as a substitute for meals.

Restricted diets. Older adults often have dietary restrictions, including limits on salt, fat, protein and sugar. Although such diets can help manage many medical conditions, they can also be bland and unappealing.”

For more information about recognizing and dealing with senior malnutrition, read the whole Mayo Clinic article here: Senior Malnutrition

Posted on Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 :: Filed under Articles.