Archive for October 2012

Creative Caregiving

Creative Caregiving to Stimulate the Senses

Are you one of the 44.4 million adults* providing care for a loved one with a debilitating illness? We know it can sometimes be a struggle to keep the day safe, healthy and engaging for the person you love. Check out these five great caregiving tips designed to help you stimulate all five senses – an essential practice for keeping the brain and body as sharp as possible:

1. SIGHT: Look and interact

Challenging your loved ones – in a fun environment — to look at specific items and interact with them is a great way to stimulate the brain. A perfect example: Play Bingo. Recognizing the numbers on the cards is a great way to engage the brain while placing chips.

Another great activity is scrapbooking. Collecting and talking about memories is an obvious way to recall “the old days.” Collect postcards from places visited, photos of visitors, anything to remind you of a special day’s events. Then revisit those memories in weeks to come.

2. HEARING: Listen to the music

Music is a great way to connect with your loved ones and enhance the caregiving relationship. By playing different types of music you can spark conversation with your loved ones about the past.

For example, prior to talking about their wedding day (and maybe looking at a wedding scrapbook), put on some soft wedding songs and let the memories come back.

Music can play a key role in exercising as well. Background music can lower a person’s perception of the effort they are expending in exercise by about ten percent. By playing upbeat music you can positively affect the way your loved one gets through their necessary exercises.

3. TOUCH: Feel the love

Do not forget about the power of touch. Soft clay-like products or special exercise items (such as balls) can be manipulated or squeezed to help strengthen the hands. Simple toys can be a good option for keeping seniors active while encouraging hand-eye coordination.

Another great way to bring joy to your loved ones is by having them interact and pet animals, such as dogs and cats. Pets are known to provide better physical and emotional health, as well as, greatly increase the quality of life.

4. TASTE: Enjoy the flavor

It is important to understand that taste and smell senses diminish with age. Seniors tend to lose sensitivity to salty and bitter tastes first and may be inclined to salt food more heavily than before—even though seniors need less salt than younger people.

Use herbs, spices, and healthy oils—like olive oil—to season food instead of salt. Similarly, seniors tend to retain the ability to distinguish sweet tastes the longest, leading some to overindulge in sugary foods and snacks. Instead of adding sugar, try increasing sweetness to meals by using naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or yams.

5. SMELL: Savor the aroma

Smells are great at bringing back memories. Aromatherapy is a great way to engage the senses. Even an activity as simple as cooking foods with strong scents can inspire the senses (the olfactory senses are great at triggering memory as well). The next step might be incorporating aromatherapy into therapeutic massage.

*2003 National Alliance for Caregiving/AARP National Caregiver Survey

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“Sandwiched Generation”

The “Sandwiched Generation” and the Need for Home Care Assistance

Those born post-World War II are usually referred to as the “Baby Boomers,” but in recent years, their title has evolved to the “Sandwiched Generation.” People raised between the years of 1946 and 1964 are experiencing a shift in roles – not only are they responsible for taking care of their children, but also their own parents. An estimated 16 million Americans find themselves ‘sandwiched’ between two generations, struggling to raise their kids while caring for an aging loved one. This is exactly the type of person for whom home care assistance is designed.

People are living longer and Boomers are having their own children later.  Therefore, it’s not uncommon to find a 50-year-old with school-aged children and a living parent who faces challenges with Activities of Daily Living. A home health aide or personal care assistant can help with physical challenges faced by aging parents – such as meal preparation, bathing and transportation – as well as provide the mental health benefits of an engaged companion throughout the day.

Time spent taking care of one’s parents is time away from the needs of one’s own children, which can cause stress on caregivers already juggling a full plate of family and career responsibilities. Also, the line drawn between independence and dependence for the Sandwiched Generation’s parents can cause tension within relationships. When parents fall ill, “They become terrified of losing their independence,” said Howard Gleckman, author of Caring for Our Parents.  So, what is the Sandwiched Generation to do?

Hiring a home-health aide or personal care assistant can ease the burden. Not only will at-home care keep independence in-tact for as long as is feasible, but will help relieve the everyday stresses that the Sandwiched Generation may face. Home care is a financially savvy option for the Sandwiched Generation (in comparison to paying for nursing home care) and will leave them with ample time to spend with their own families. Hiring a home-health aide is a guilt-free way to be sure loved ones are receiving the best care possible.

If you find yourself “sandwiched” between the responsibilities of caring for your own kids as well as your parents, please give Caring Home Care a call.  We’d be delighted to provide you with “better care at home.”

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