Tag Archives: Caregiver

The Longest Day- Is Happening Today!

For the people involved in this event, this challenge is one day. For people with Alzheimer’s, it’s every day. Run, walk, bike or challenge yourself to some other endurance activity to honor those facing Alzheimer’s. Learn More

On June 20, 2012, the longest day of the year, participants across the northern hemisphere will push their limits in a sunrise-to-sunset relay to raise awareness and funds for the fight against Alzheimer’s. It’s one day to honor the passion, dedication and strength displayed by people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers every day.

Join us for year one of this exciting and innovative event! The Longest Day allows you to participate with ultimate flexibility – you choose your activity, route and time of day to get active. The only rule is that someone on your team is in motion throughout the 16 hours of daylight on the longest day. The Alzheimer’s Association will provide fundraising support and connect you to a virtual community of other participants. We’ll also be cheering you on throughout The Longest Day!

Each team member pledges to raise a commitment fee and is asked to raise a minimum of $100/hour of activity (suggested minimum: $400). Participants will receive a virtual fundraising toolkit, an event day experience kit (including a T-shirt and awareness and celebration materials) and ongoing staff support to help plan a great day and reach fundraising goals. Through smartphone technology and social media, every participant will be able to showcase their efforts and share their stories as part of the global movement to fight against Alzheimer’s.

We’re in it until Alzheimer’s is finished. Show your support for the cause by donating to a team or participant in The Longest Day. Give to honor the more than 35 million people worldwide who are living with Alzheimer’s and the countless caregivers who face this disease so bravely every day.

Follow the event now and donate!



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Top 10: Holiday Advice for Caregivers and Other Caregiver News

We’ve been reading so much great advice for caregivers this holiday season, we felt it was worth a blog post just to highlight some of these informative articles. If you’re a caregiver to an aging friend or loved one, take a few minutes to read up on some useful tips that can help you travel your caregiving journey with ease.

  1. Ryan Malone, of Inside Elder Care, never fails to impress with his expert insights. His latest blog post talks about the recent Gallup poll that really drills down caregiver statistics in the U.S. Some of them are not surprising, but some will be shocked to learn just how many folks are caring for a loved one these days — and the level of sacrifice they make each day in order to do so.
  2. Registered nurse, former caregiver (for her father), current long-distance caregiver (for her mother) and our friend (we’re proud to say!), Shelley Webb of Intentional Caregiver, gives us 11 New Year’s resolutions caregivers can make this holiday season in a guest post for Maturity Matters.
  3. If you’re planning to move a loved one in the near future, check out these ten tips from AARP. And for more awesomeness from AARP, read this post if you have a caregiver on your shopping list this holiday season for some excellent caregiver gift ideas. Thinking cruises and spa getaways? Think again: an empathetic ear, a little help. You know, those intangibles that are far more valuable than expensive gifts!
  4. Montgomery Media offers tips for caregivers to de-stress this holiday season. Top of the list? Don’t forget to take care of yourself, so you can provide better care for your loved one. We’ve heard it many times, but caregivers get so caught up in caring for loved ones they easily forget this very important task.
  5. Tax season is rapidly approaching, and Forbes has some information on tax breaks to help caregivers ease the financial burden.
  6. American Medical News talks about how technology can connect doctors and caregivers. Easy communication is critical between the two, as caregivers must stay in control of their loved one’s care needs.
  7. The San Francisco Chronicle features a press release covering a new approach to caregiving for the Alzheimer’s/dementia patient. The Pines Education Institute of S.W. Florida partnered with Teepa Snow, a nationally-recognized dementia care expert, to produce a series of educational DVDs to aid caregivers.
  8. MSN takes a humorous approach to identifying the signs of Alzheimer’s disease with “7 Signs Santa Has Alzheimer’s.” This light-hearted approach excellently conveys critical signs caregivers and loved ones should look out for, especially if visiting a long-distance aging loved one over the holidays.
  9. The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time, yet many aging and disabled adults find themselves with a case of the holiday blues. If your loved one is having a difficult time this holiday season, check out these tips from Care.com to help.
  10. La Mesa Courier features a great list of tips for making this holiday season a joyous one for your aging loved ones. Try cooking a special meal together, listening to their stories from the past or taking a nostalgic ride around town.

There are so many more to share. What’s your favorite holiday tip for caregivers? Give us some ideas in the comments and we’ll feature your tips in an upcoming blog post!

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Healthy Living: Holiday Stress, Seasonal Depression, Both, or Neither?

To state the obvious, addressing any mental health or psychological problem is easier if you can figure out what is causing the problem. Sometimes you cannot do anything about the cause, but usually understanding the cause helps you figure out the solution.

For people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, or stress during this time of year, it can be difficult to sort out the causes. For some, the onset of late fall and early winter is accompanied by the onset of a seasonal mood disorder, also called seasonal depression. For others, a significant cause of feeling down or overwhelmed is stress associated with the holiday season. In each case, trying to identify the cause can help you figure out what to do to feel better.
Symptoms of Seasonal Mood Disorder: According to the American Psychiatric Association, 10-20% of people in America feel more depressed with the onset of winter. The symptoms for seasonal depression are exactly the same as those for major depression. As the name implies, the only difference with seasonal affective disorder is that the symptoms begin at roughly the same month for one or more consecutive years. Common symptoms include:
• persistently sad or irritable mood ( 2 or more consecutive weeks)
• pronounced changes in sleep, appetite, and energy
• difficulty thinking, concentrating, and remembering
• lack of interest in or pleasure from activities that were once enjoyed
• feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness
• recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
• persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
Symptoms of Acute Stress: People differ in terms of their feelings and behaviors when they are experiencing too much stress, but common signs of excessive stress include:
• Feeling anxious or worried much of the time.
• Feeling irritable or short tempered.
• Muscle tension, back problems, or increase in physical pain (jaws, neck)
• Stomach problems such as heartburn or acid stomach

Coping With Mood Disorder
• Find a way to get out and get going: Staying with your exercise routine, starting a new routine, or finding interesting activities that don’t depend on warm weather is very important. Staying put in your home often increases your depression.
• Exposure to Light: Taking advantage of natural sunlight is important. It may sound odd, but make sure you get outside on sunny days. Some people treat seasonal depression by sitting under bright fluorescent lamps for 30 or more minutes a day.
• Talk to a psychologist or other mental health professional: For both mild and more severe seasonal depression, talk therapy produces great benefits. Often our own patterns of thinking keep the depression going longer than needed. Counseling can help identify and change unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaving.
• Medication: Some anti-depressant medications, such as Wellbutrin XL, have been FDA approved for treatment of seasonal affective disorder. Your psychiatrist or primary care doctor can discuss a range of medical treatment options.

Coping with Holiday Stress
• Set realistic expectations: Sometimes our stress at the holidays is the result of having expectations that are simply unrealistic. Check with someone you trust about whether your expectations of yourself are too lofty.
• Avoid unhealthy coping: If you can’t remove some of your stress, it is helpful not to make things worse. Try to avoid coping by things which are unhealthy such as excessive smoking, use of alcohol, or unhealthy eating.
• Pace Yourself and Take Care of Yourself: Just because you have a lot to do doesn’t mean that you can run at a full sprint for several weeks. Build time, even brief time, into your schedule to relax and rebuild.

For More Information:
American Psychological Association: www.apa.org/helpcenter

By- Dr. David Prescott
Behavioral Medicine Department at Eastern Maine Medical Center

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National Caregiver Month recognizes and supports those helping care for loved ones

There are more than 65 million caregivers who are an essential part of a patient‘s health care team in the United States. They not only provide emotional strength and support but also often help a patient with their daily needs, such as filling prescriptions or helping schedule doctors’ appointments. But while being a caregiver to someone in need can be a significant help, it can also be a daunting responsibility. Greg Stephens, Founder and Director of the National CML Society, can relate.

“When my mother was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML, I not only had an immediate concern about her overall health, but also about the added responsibilities and pressure that it would bring to our lives,” says Stephens. “I was committed to being the best caregiver I could, and staying as organized and well-researched as possible, but CML is not a disease that can be treated quickly. Instead, I think of it as a marathon, since my mother’s disease required ongoing treatment and care.”

CML is a blood cancer that in most patients can be controlled and managed for many years by working closely with a physician to develop the best possible treatment plan. Plans are decided based on a number of criteria, such as age and progression of the disease, and include a combination of daily medications, routine blood tests and regular check-ins with doctors. Dr. Javier Pinilla-Ibarz, Assistant Member of the Malignant Hematology and Immunology Program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, knows firsthand.

“When I tell patients they have CML it can be scary because it is a cancer that requires ongoing, active management for many years and the treatment process can be a lot of responsibility for a patient to manage on their own. Having a friend or loved one by the patient’s side can be a tremendous help. Not only can they help remind the patient of what to do to control their disease, but they can also be someone a patient can talk with to help keep spirits high.”

November’s National Caregiver Month is a great time to celebrate caregivers. The following tips are designed to help caregivers manage their role as part of the patient’s health care team:

* Helping track results: Creating a “results journal” which is devoted to storing test results along with his or her testing dates can help a patient keep track of this information. For example, for CML patients, tracking the levels of the cancer-causing enzyme, Bcr-Abl, is important for monitoring the progression of the disease.

* Caring for yourself too: Balancing the needs of the patient with your own needs is essential. A caregiver who’s stressed out or overwhelmed might not be able to care for a loved one as well as they want to.

* Educating yourself: Staying well-informed about your loved one’s condition will make you a more valuable resource for them. With CML, the enzyme Bcr-Abl is responsible for sending signals to produce cancerous white blood cells. Knowing about the disease and which medications best target and inhibit this enzyme will help you to be an active participant in ongoing treatment discussions between your loved one and their medical team.

* Joining a caregiver support group: Connecting with other caregivers is an opportunity to learn new ways to help a loved one. There is a great strength in knowing you are not alone.

For more information and to connect with other CML patients and caregivers, visit the Novartis sponsored social networking site www.cmlearth.com.

By JSOnline

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Easing the Added Stress of Caregiving During the Holidays

For millions of Americans who find themselves in the role of caregiver to an older frail, ill, or disabled relative, the holiday season can add to an already heavy load of responsibilities and cause feelings of stress to soar.

Stress occurs when we work too much, sleep too little, try to cope with difficult or troubling situations, and when we neglect to take good care of ourselves—all of which are typically everyday state of conditions for the millions of Americans who find themselves in the role of caregiver to an older frail, ill, or disabled relative. The added physical and emotional demands that are involved in celebrating the holidays can add to an already heavy load of caregiving responsibilities and cause feelings of stress to soar.

The holidays are traditionally a time when we reflect on past memories. For those who are caring for a frail and elderly family member, these reflections often deepen the awareness of the extent of the older person’s losses (for example, memory loss for those with Alzheimer’s) and how much life has changed for them. Holiday-time reminiscing can also underscore the loss caregivers face in the altered quality of their personal relationship with the older person. The emotional pain of confronting such losses can heighten feelings of stress.

The holidays are also a traditional time for family gatherings. While this can be tremendously enjoyable, when tensions among family members or unresolved conflicts surface, it can become a source of extreme stress. Caregivers too often find themselves in the middle of family discord as they try to mediate the needs of the older person as well as express their own position.

If you are a family caregiver, consider the following suggestions and think about which ones you can put in place during the coming weeks to help ease your feelings of stress during the holidays:

· Set manageable expectations and limits for yourself. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do—as well as what you want to do and don’t want to do.

· Try not to set yourself up for disappointment by comparing this year’s holiday season with the nostalgia of past holidays. Each holiday season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way.

· Ask for and accept help! It’s so often the case that, while people want to be useful, they may not always know what to do. Let other family members and friends know what they can do to share in the responsibility of caregiving. Don’t forget to consider asking people who live at a distance, as well as neighbors and people from faith-based groups or clubs, to pitch in and help.

· Maintain or establish social interaction with friends and other family members. Isolation can further increase feelings of stress. Having the chance to have fun, laugh, and focus on something other than your at-home caregiving responsibilities can help you keep stress at bay and maintain emotional balance.

· Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely. There’s room for feelings such as sadness, grief and/or loneliness to be present along with other more joyful emotions. If you do feel down, avoid critical self-perceptions, and, instead, try to articulate the understanding you need from those around you. Consider seeking the help of a therapist to help you sort out your feelings and deal with your concerns and troubling issues.

· If the elderly person you are caring for has dementia, avoid overly stimulating environments since that can add to their anxiety and end up increasing your stress level.

· If including the elderly person in large family gatherings creates added work and stress for you, consider alternatives, such as suggesting family members plan to spend individual quality time visiting with their elderly relative.

· Don’t abandon healthful eating and drinking habits. While it’s certainly okay to treat yourself during the holidays, avoid giving in to stress-driven urges for overeating or for overindulging in alcohol.

· Exercise regularly. Even if it means finding someone else to take over your caregiver duties, getting regularly-scheduled exercise—for example, walking, swimming, yoga, biking, or aerobics—can be of tremendous benefit to both your physical and emotional well-being.

· Seek emotional and moral support from other caregivers—there is great strength in knowing you are not alone. Many communities have support groups for family caregivers of elderly persons through local hospitals, churches and/or community centers.

· Use community resources such as meal or shopping services, home-care aides, adult day services, and/or volunteer help from faith-based organizations or civic groups.

· Try to find time for yourself to do something you especially enjoy such as reading, walking, listening to music, gardening and/or visiting with a friend.

· Find ways to ensure you get enough rest. Sleep deprivation can sap your energy, distort your thinking and lead directly to making your mind and your body feel stressed to the maximum.

· If you experience any signs of depression (for example, extreme sadness, trouble concentrating, withdrawal, or hopelessness), don’t delay in getting professional help for yourself. Depression is a serious, but very treatable condition. If left untreated, depression does not “just go away,” instead, the symptoms progressively worsen and can even become debilitating. You can click here for information about depression, including a more detailed list of commonly experienced symptoms and ways to receive help.

Throughout the holiday season (as well as year-round!), remember to be good to yourself. As a family caregiver, you’re doing a very hard job and deserve understanding, support and quality time for yourself to help ensure you meet your own emotional needs. Many caregivers have found that therapy offers life-strengthening help in dealing with the many challenges of caregiving. Therapy can provide a time and place that is devoted exclusively to your feelings, needs, and concerns—and can result in a healthy perspective that allows you to devote your best efforts to your older loved one while also making sure you take the very best care of yourself.


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