Sunday, February 8, 2009

Elderly Depression: Coping As The Caregiver

Today's Help For The Caregiver!

If you are caring for aging parents, a crucial
event you must be on the look out for is depression.

Depression in the elderly is a widespread problem
that is often not diagnosed and frequently under treated.
One of the main reasons is that your aging parent
does not want to admit to having feelings of depression.

But think about it. Is it so unbelievable? What if
you were in the same spot? You watch so many of
your friends die. You may have just lost your
spouse. You can no longer drive your car. Your
mobility keeps you from doing the things you always
took for granted.

Hell, if that doesn't cause depression, what would?
I'm depressed just thinking about it. I watched
my Mom go through depression. Her doctor never
asked. When I finally got a clue (duh) and took her for
an appointment, she was secretly glad. Medication
was prescribed and after a couple of weeks, she felt
so much better.

So don't ask your parent. Chances are they will just
say, "Oh, I'm fine."

Symptoms of depression include:

**Depressed or irritable mood

**Feelings of worthlessness or sadness

**Loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities

**Temper, agitation

**Change in appetite (usually a loss of appetite)

**Change in weight

**Unintentional weight loss (most common)

**Weight gain

**Trouble sleeping

**Daytime sleepiness

**Difficulty falling asleep (initial insomnia)

**Waking up many times through the night (middle insomnia)

**Waking up early in the morning (terminal insomnia)

**Fatigue (tiredness or weariness)

**Difficulty concentrating

**Memory loss

**Abnormal thoughts, inappropriate guilt

**Abnormal thoughts about death

**Thoughts about suicide

Of course, these symptoms can appear in everyone
from time to time. But if several are persistent for
2 weeks, it may be signs of serious depression.

Again, elderly depression may be hard to detect
because symptoms such as fatigue, appetite loss
and trouble sleeping also can be part of the aging
process or a medical condition.

Just keep watch and have them see their doctor.

Today's Help For The Caregiver!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pharmacists Play Major Role In Caring For Parents

Taking Care Of Parents!

Pharmacists are my heroes. When I was caring
for Mom, they had my highest respect. There
was even one time, our pharmacist noticed
an error made by her doctor and got right on
the phone and straightened it up. This over-
sight could have been life-threatening.
I love you, Dan!

As a caregiver, you know your aging parents may
be on many medications. Talk with your pharmacist.
They know how medications work better than
your doctor. And they are willing and able to
take the time and answer all your questions.

You have to keep watch for any interaction
between medicines. Especially if a new prescription
is introduced.

Then comes dispensing the medications.

Many elderly patients are on a wide variety of
prescription medications that have to be taken at
multiple times every day. Negative side effects can
occur if a dose is missed or late.

Special pill dispensers that help the caregiver to
remember what times of day a pill should be taken
and how many pills of each type are needed is a big
help. Ask your pharmacist about different specialized
pill dispensers in order to alleviate this problem.

Something that is of particular interest to talk about
with your pharmacist is about the reasons for taking
each medication and what can be expected in terms
of primary and secondary effects.

Doctors sometimes are in such a hurry that they
prescribe something that needs to be given but do not
spend enough time explaining to the patient and to
the caregiver what this medication is for and what
kind of effects it can have. Pharmacists are usually
a really helpful source of this type of information.

Visit your pharmacy at times of the day when it is less
busy, such as early in the morning so that you are sure
to have an uninterrupted conversation with the pharmacist.

Make a list of your questions before you go so that you
are sure to get answers for all of your questions.
Not only should you ask about what the drug is for but
also about how good of a chance there is that the drug
will help in the symptoms that the drug is prescribed for.

Many medications can have a negative effect, either in
combination with the positive effect they are designed
to have or instead of the effect they are supposed to have.

It can also be the case that they work differently in
combination with the other medications a person is taking
than they would work when a patient is not taking any
other medications.

Knowing the dangerous side effects to look for will help
you take good care of your loved one. Regardless of the
side effects that the pharmacist tells you about for a
particular drug, any sudden and severe change in health
or behavior should be discussed with the pharmacist
and the doctor.

Symptoms to look out for are depression, sleep disorders,
Parkinson’s-like symptoms and confusion. Any of these
should be discussed right away in order to reassess
pharmacological needs.

An important tip: Write down on a sturdy index card
ALL the medications your loved one is taking. Keep it
in your possession at all times. Have a copy with your
loved one and any other people who are around your

That is always the FIRST question asked by medical
personnel in times of emergencies. There was a time
I called the ambulance for Mom. In ER, I was asked
for a list of her prescriptions. In my shock, I drew an
absolute blank. I did not make that mistake again!
Go and do that right now. You'll be glad you did!

Caring for parents when they become elderly is not
easy. Take all the help and information you can get...

Taking Care Of Parents!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How To Balance Work While Caring For Parents

Balance Your Life While Caring For Parents!

Anyone who has a job and a family knows how
hard it can be. You have to manage both of these

Now suppose you are a caregiver. If you are caring
for aging parents. Then it can become nearly impossible
to manage everything without going into meltdown!

No longer are you trying to figure out how to deal with
normal work-related stress. Or getting your teenagers
through the hormonal years.

Now you have to make sure your parent is safe and
cared for before you even get to the office. You have to
worry about who is looking after them when you’re not

Or if you’re going to be able to leave the office in time to
relieve the help. Or worrying about them if they stay
alone. You hope for understanding employers. Or a job
where you can take family-related leave. (a godsend
for me)

Most people who are caring for aging parents cannot
afford to give up their jobs. And most of them don’t
want to. If you’ve built up a career, even if it’s not a
financial necessity, it can be difficult to walk away from.

Maybe it is the only thing that gets you out of the house
and keeps you sane and grounded.

Whatever your reason for wanting to balance your job
while you balance your responsibilities as a caregiver,
you should know that it can be done. You just have to
know where to turn for help and be willing to ask for
what you need.

You may be surprised to find out that your biggest ally
may be your employer. Employees have a tendency to try
and hide the fact that they are providing care for someone
from their bosses because they’re worried that they may
get skipped over for promotions and that it might make
them look uncommitted to their work.

In reality, however, most companies are aware that these
circumstances are very common and have programs in place
to try and accommodate their employees who are caring for
a parent.

Your company may have financial assistance programs to
help you hire home help to look after your parent while you
work or to help you pay for adult day care. Your company
may also be able to help you find counseling help or other
support that you need to cope with your new responsibilities.

Even if your company doesn’t have such a program,
you should know that in the US, you are entitled to
take up to 12 weeks leave of absence per year from
your job to care for a sick relative without worry
about losing your job or any of your benefits. The
catch is that the leave is unpaid, so this might not
be a financial possibility for many caregivers.

If you can’t afford to quit working, look into alternative
solutions that might help you juggle your new schedule.
See if your company offers job share programs or if they
can allow you to work from home at least a few days a

See if one of your siblings may be able to get some time
off from their jobs more easily than you to take off some
of the burden. Last but not least, if your company is
completely inflexible and unwilling to work with you,
then you may need to look for a new job.

Millions of Americans care for parents, and many
companies out there are willing and able to accommodate
employees who do so.

After all, with the population aging like never before,
elder care will be as common as child care!

Balance Your Life While Caring For Parents!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

7 Signs You May Soon Become A Caregiver To Your Aging Parents

The Guide To Caring For Parents!

With people living longer, the chances are good
that you will be called upon to be in a caregiving
role for your aging parents.

It's normal to feel overwhelmed when you think
of the responsibility. So what do you look for?
When do you start caring for parents?

Signs to watch for...

1. Your once vibrant dad is now being plagued
with a lot of little health problems. Just enough
to hamper his lifestyle.

2. You find bank statements and unpaid bills
laying on your parents' desk unopened when
they were once really diligent about paying on

3. Loss of interest in the hobbies or regular socializing
your loved one normally does. Could be depression...

4. Regular household chores are not being done
such as mowing the lawn, washing dishes or fixing
a leak in the sink.

5. There is not an adequate food supply present to
feed your ailing parent or they become inattentive
when cooking or baking, burning food. Or burning

6. Grooming and hygiene have become slack.

7. Being distracted and inattentiveness in your loved

Keep checking on your elderly parents. If you live
far away from them, make arrangements with a
friend, relative or neighbor to be your liaison.

The Guide To Caring For Parents!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Elder Care: How To Communicate In Your Caregiving Role

How To Excel As Caregiver!

As a caregiver, there are times it can be difficult
to talk with your loved one, especially if they
have some type of cognitive or hearing impairment.

How do you know if they truly understanding
what you are saying to them? Choosing the right
words and conveying the right message can be
difficult, especially when you are dealing with
their diminished capacity.

Sometimes, there are feelings of frustration both
on your part and theirs which is understandable.
But, remember. Do you think they like to be in
this position. Would you? Keeping that in mind,
you won't lose your patience.

Try these suggestions to make it easier on you,
as caregiver and your care receiver.

* Make sure you have their attention

With mental impairment, your loved one may
become confused if there is too much background
noise or there is another presence in the room.

And if your loved one is hearing-impaired, all the
more important...

* Call them by name

Use their first name, term of endearment (Sweetie or Dear)
or relationship (such as Dad or Mom) and pause for a

You may have to repeat yourself until they hear
your voice and turn to look at you. Before you
continue to speak, make sure they are engaged
with you.

* Speak clearly

You will want to be face to face with them at eye
level when you talk with them. If they can look
into your eyes and see your lips moving, they are
more apt to clue into what you are saying.

Of course, make sure you enunciate your words, being
careful not to slur. Never occupy your hands with another
task or look around when talking to your loved one. They
will lose concentration and interest.

* Use short sentences

Break up your message into short statements. Just like
with young children, adults with cognitive impairment
may not be able to process a statement with several
directives in it.

* Be kind and gentle

Do not raise your voice to be heard. This can startle or
scare your loved one. Instead, move closer to them,
taking care to respect their personal space.

Do not order or talk at them. Instead, formulate your
wording to make it seem they are doing you a favor by

Ask them for help instead of telling them
what to do. For example, "Can you move your cane so I
can walk without tripping?" or "Please come to the dinner
table; it is time to eat."

* Listen

Be sure to take the time to listen. Just because your
loved one may have some type of mental impairment
does not mean they have nothing to contribute to a

You may have to help them when they have trouble
coming up with words to something. Occasionally they
may know exactly what they are talking about but forget
the word for TV or dog. (Hey, this happens to me all
the time!)

When I would lose my patience with Mom, I would
step back and think of the Golden Rule. Simple as

This is no fun for them! Just offer love and kindness.

How To Excel As Caregiver!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Caring For Parents: You Can't Neglect Yourself!

Taking Care Of Parents & Yourself!

Caregiving is a tremendous responsibility.
When you're providing care to aging parents,
it's even more so.

Like so many experiences, no one can really
appreciate the work involved unless they have
walked in your shoes.

And don't forget the physical and emotional
toll acting as a caregiver will take on you.
In order to provide good care to your loved
one, you have to take good care of yourself.
This means NOT putting your own needs

This is the hard part, I know. But if you are
not at your best, you simply can not give your
aging parent the care they deserve.

And don't feel guilty! Strange coming from me.
I still feel guilty and Mom passed away in 2006!
In this case, learn from my mistakes.

It's okay to admit that taking care of parents
can be a burden. There are family dynamics
at play. Any issues of the past have a way of
popping up while dealing with elderly parents.

Admit to yourself that you can’t do everything alone.
You need to have the time and space to take of

It wasn't until things got really bad for me that
I finally opened up to my doctor. That was when
he initiated home care. Talk about a blessing.

There are also support groups out there you
could join. I realize this may mean having someone
stay with your parent, but so be it. Consider
talking to a therapist as well.

Get other family members or friends on board
so you can get a much needed break. Ask them
to help you cook dinners. Ask them to come over
and sit with your family member for awhile so you
can get out and visit friends, do some shopping, see a
movie – whatever you enjoy doing.

If there are siblings involved, they will stop assuming
that you’ll shoulder the responsibility all alone and step
up and take some of the burden off of you more and more.

If there simply isn’t anyone you can ask for help, then
carve out time for yourself the best way you can.
Get frequent exercise, carve out a time in the day
where you get to do whatever you want, even if you
simply spend some quiet time reading or taking a bath.

Likewise, give yourself a break on the little things. Hire
a cleaning team, or evaluate whether or not you’re doing
more housekeeping than you need to. Find a good takeout
service that you can use when you need a break from
cooking. Don’t take on additional favors for family and
friends – learn to say no.

Caregivers have a history of falling into depression,
alcohol abuse and other problems. You need to look
after yourself so you stay healthy. It may feel selfish to
you at the time but every break you take is an act of
love for the person you care for – you need to feel your
best to treat them with the compassion and care you
want them to have.

Caregiver stress is a major problem. Nip it in the bud
before it gets the best of you.

Taking Care Of Parents & Yourself!