elderly home care options

Tips for Self-Care That Require a Quarter-Hour or Less

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A caregiver’s world revolves around unending demands. These demands may drain you emotionally, mentally and physically. But the biggest drag is on your time. How big? For many caregivers, just enjoying 15 minutes alone is an unimaginable luxury.

After all, you are your loved one’s eyes and ears. They depend on you to be their “voice” and interpret the world around them. Many people living with dementia have lost their sense of time, so if you are away for 15 minutes, they feel abandoned for an entire day. This dependency means they may want you around – and in sight – 24/7. 

Providing in-home care is a strenuous task. Home Care Assistance hopes that as a home care agency, we can provide guidance to our Oklahoma City and surrounding area clients. If you need help or have any questions, please reach out to us. We are here to assist you in the home health care journey.

15 Minutes to Refresh

Let’s say you look after a parent with dementia. They may be anxious and follow you from sunrise until long after dark. You do your best to manage your emotions and remain patient. Still, you have needs of your own. How, where and when do you create space to breathe? Self-Care Isn’t Selfish. Caregiver burnout is real and can lead to serious problems for your emotional and physical health. Rather than continuing to ignore the growing stress, acknowledge it and pledge to do something about it. If you need an excuse to take care of yourself, remember that the person you are looking after relies on you taking care of yourself in order to care for them.

Develop a self-care strategy. Your dream of 15 minutes alone can become reality. Ask yourself: Do you need to be physically separate from your loved one to practice self-care? Is this possible? If not, can you take care of yourself while you’re in the room with them? Are there options to do it together? Your answers will help you choose the right approach.

15 Minutes for Yourself…While You Care for Another

Can you really take 15 minutes for yourself while in the same room with a loved one? Surprisingly, the answer is yes.

If you are caring for a parent or spouse, you may get so task-focused that you forget about your own well-being. Try these approaches when you are together:

  • Develop a breathing practice. After all, you need to breathe anyway! There are many possibilities for breath work. You can do these with anyone present, and breathing techniques improve heart and brain health. <hyperlink: https://homecareassistance.com/blog/three-breathing-techniques-heart-brain-health>

  • Try mindfulness. The only requirement for this simple form of meditation is the willingness to sit still and watch your thoughts. Developing a healthy detachment from the challenges of the moment can be refreshing and provide you with the care you need. <hyperlink: http://homecareassistance.com/blog/how-mindfulness-can-help-prevent-caregiver-burnout>

  • Listen to music. Share the joy of music together, or don a pair of headphones and listen while you watch your loved one.

  • Read. Depending on the situation, you could dip into a novel. Keep reading material or your favorite device handy.

  • Exercise. If your parent is able, you can do some simple exercises together. Or, bring an exercise mat into the room and perform floor exercises right there.

  • More togetherness ideas. Other ideas for creating some relaxing time during care include jigsaw puzzles, watching TV, or even having “tea time” — a daily ritual you share with your loved one.

           Further Reading About Caregiver Burnout  

Out of Sight but Still On-Site

If you are able to leave the room while taking care of someone else, it can afford you some more ways to self-care. Here are five ways to use 15 minutes alone in a spare room:

  • Take a power nap. A short nap will refresh you, and won’t interfere with your evening sleep.  Even if you can’t (or don’t want to) fall asleep, you can still rest and collect your thoughts.

  • Do floor exercises.  Stretching, yoga and aerobic exercise can all be performed in a confined space.

  • Talk to a friend.  Can you spend your 15 minutes on the phone with a friend? If you’re able to set time to do this in advance, great! If that’s not practical, phone someone to share how your day is going.

  • Meditate or pray. Many caregivers find that a short break to reconnect with their spiritual life can lift their spirits.

  • Take a video vacation. Go online and find a channel that features relaxing scene or music.  

An Outside Chance at 15 Minutes Alone

Do you have the option to go to a park, garden, or natural area? If so, here are some ideas for how to spend your 15 minutes outside.

  •  Walk. Take a few minutes for a brisk stroll. If it’s on a city street that’s totally fine. But if you have access to a park or a beach, all the better. If the weather and environment is right, you can even try a technique called earthing, which means walking barefoot. Some studies show that walking sans shoes reconnects us to mother earth and satisfies our soul.

  • Just sit. Take a seat someplace and drink it all in. That might mean a park bench or a patch of grass or a local coffee shop.

For more about self-care for people who give their all to their loved ones, take a long slow deep breath — then review this post on the importance of not isolating yourself as a caregiver.

If you think it may be time to start in-home care, you aren’t alone. Home Care Assistance can provide guidance to patients and families in Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas. If you are looking for Edmond home care or dementia care in Oklahoma City, reach out to us. We are ready to help you through the home care process.

 

 

Resources:

1.     Napping, from The National Sleep Foundation

2.     10 ways for caregivers to nurture themselves

The Balanced Care Method

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The Balanced Care Method is a holistic approach to healthy longevity based on the longest-living people on Earth.

There is no single explanation for how and why some people live longer or have more active years than others. But there is a place where more people live longer and healthier than any other place on earth: Okinawa, Japan. Scientists have been studying this group of seniors to see if we can learn from their methods and live longer, more productive lives ourselves. Home Care Assistance developed the Balanced Care Method, a revolutionary approach to senior care, based on these studies.

The Balanced Care Method™ is based on studies of the extraordinarily long-lived elders living on the island of Okinawa, Japan. Life spans of over 100 years are not unusual on Okinawa. More important, people in their 70s, 80s and beyond enjoy incredible good health and independence despite their years. The Balanced Care Method promotes the lifestyle factors central to these centenarian’s healthy longevity. It is a philosophy that can be summed up in two words: moderation and variety.

Components of Balanced Care Training include:

  • Healthy Diet

  • Physical Activity

  • Sharp Minds

  • Social Ties

  • Calmness & Purpose

 The Balanced Care Method is an evidence-based program built on studies that demonstrate that only one-third of our longevity is based on genetics and two-thirds on lifestyle factors within our control. Home Care Assistance caregivers are trained in the method, offering the first senior care solution with an emphasis on balance and longevity. Our Oklahoma City and surrounding area home care patients will receive the best private care possible based on this method. By working with specific lifestyle behaviors, our in-home care providers extend and enhance the lives of seniors, helping them live longer, happier, and more balanced lives.

The Balanced Care Method touches everything we do. At Home Care Assistance we understand the important connections between diet, exercise, mental engagement, and social relationships that reduce stress and create better lives. No matter the amount of care you need, from dementia care to hourly private home care, our care services include support of the daily life activities listed below and the tenants of the Balanced Care Method. 

● Cooking and light housekeeping
●  Laundry and changing of bed linens
●  Grocery shopping and errands
●  Companionship and range of motion exercises
●  Transportation to doctor appointments, supermarket, pharmacy
●  Assisting with walking and transferring from bed to wheelchair
●  Bathing, dressing and grooming assistance
●  Status reporting to family
●  Medication reminders

Here at Home Care Assistance, we believe there is never a right age, just a right way to age.

If you think it may be time to start in-home care, you aren’t alone. Home Care Assistance can provide guidance to patients and families in Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas. If you are looking for Edmond home care or dementia care in Oklahoma City, reach out to us. We are ready to help you through the home care process.

5 Practical Methods for Calming Agitation in Older Adults with Dementia

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Caring for a loved one with dementia can feel like a daily battle. You are dealing with the loss of the person you once knew. At the same time, you love them even as you adapt to their changes in behavior and learn to handle episodes of agitation and aggression.

The challenges of dementia caregiving can break your heart on a regular basis. Executing simple tasks and scheduling events for a loved one can turn into a disaster. At times, your loved one’s behavior may be difficult to predict; dementia is cruel to both the person with dementia and to the caregiver. This blog post outlines some strategies that can help you respond to the challenges of dementia in an effective and mindful way.

Learning how to handle difficult behaviors caused by dementia will give you the ability to enjoy spending time with your loved one. While dementia may take memories, it cannot take the love shared between you and your loved one. Research has shown that people with dementia will still feel love and happiness even after they have forgotten a specific visit or experience (1).2  Love remains. That is your defense against dementia, both for you and your loved one.

It is also important to remember that if you ever feel like you can’t provide care alone, you don’t have to. There are numerous options for dementia care in Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas. If you find yourself needing extra help, reach out to a home care agency like Home Care Assistance. HCA can provide guidance and help you make decisions about hiring a care provider and the future of your in-home care. We hope that this guide will help you with your loved one’s senior care.

These five methods to calm agitation and aggression will give you a way to focus on the love in your relationship. At the core of these five strategies is effective ways to communicate (2). Keep that in mind as you read further. With these in your arsenal, you will be able to build on the bond you and your loved one share.

 

1.    Stay Calm

Agitation and aggression are contagious. It is very natural when you are talking to somebody who is getting agitated to feel upset yourself. This natural response is called mirroring, and in many instances can work to your benefit. Instead of mirroring your loved one’s agitation, by remaining calm, you are presenting a demeanor for your loved one to mirror.

When you stop and take a deep breath to calm yourself, you are demonstrating calmness to your loved one. This helps to make them feel safe and reassured (3).3 Take a step back and see if you can identify a cause for the agitation. Remember that your loved one is not trying to give you a hard time – he or she is struggling as much as you are.

Stop whatever you are doing and slow down. Listen to what your loved one is saying, even if it doesn’t make sense! Don’t correct. This can make the agitation worse. Take a moment to remember a positive memory you share with your loved one. Allow that warmness to enter your eyes and look directly at him or her. Smile gently and try to ask for permission to do the thing you need to get done or offer your loved one some help in the task. Calmness often reassures those with dementia, which will allow you to make a positive request like “will you walk with me to the store?” or “can I help you wash the dishes?” 

 

2.    Focus on Feelings not Facts

Dementia can impact a person’s ability to reason and communicate. However, feelings remain strong. You need to respond to your loved one’s feelings instead of their words. Trying to reason and argue with a person with dementia will only frustrate both of you. (4).

Listen to the expression of frustration even if the actual words don’t make sense. Your loved one might be saying, “I need the car to take the ball!” You could respond to that expression by saying, “you really are wanting the car today?” Then try to provide clear reassurance, for example, “I will take you out in the car today and we can get what you need.”

Treat your loved one with love and respect. Love and respect can bridge communication problems between yourself and someone with dementia. You should always treat your loved one with dignity. Although you may see behaviors that remind you of a child, your loved one is not a child. Guarding his or her dignity will prevent hurt feelings that lead to agitation. The reality your loved one is trying to convey may not align with your interpretation of the world. But their feelings about what they are experiencing can lessen that divide.

 

3.    Limit Distractions

Dementia causes damage to the brain that makes it difficult to express thoughts and perform tasks. Background noises, clutter, crowds, and even lights can overstimulate the brain and bring on feelings of restlessness and distress (5).5 Foster an environment of calm in your home. Choose smaller gatherings over crowds as much as possible. For example, instead of inviting crowds of people at once, try one or two visitors at once. Also turn off the TV when talking to your loved one. The noise from the TV can be difficult for them to block out.

Reduce the amount of non-essential items in your home. Bright, distracting patterns and moving objects can confuse your loved one. One or two meaningful, personal pictures will offer a more calming décor than twenty fancy frames.

Lights are another stimulating stimulus. Particularly in the evenings and late afternoon, it is important to switch from bright overhead lights to smaller, dimmer lights. The glare and reflections from lights bouncing off windows, mirrors, and picture frames can be startling or even frightening to your loved one.

Always aim to simplify your surroundings when you notice signs of agitation. Use simple sentences. Move into a quieter space. A calm environment will often calm your loved one.

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 4.    Check for Discomfort

Your loved one’s difficulty communicating means that they can have trouble telling you when they are uncomfortable. One sign of physical discomfort may be that your loved one is having trouble sitting in one place and is constantly on the move, fidgeting and irritable. Below is a thorough checklist to help you identify physical discomfort:

  • When did your loved one last eat? Could they be hungry? Try offering a small, nutritious snack. Better yet, sit down with them and have a snack yourself. Ensuring that you aren’t hangry will also help your loved one remain calm (remember method one?).

  • Could your loved one have an infection? Urinary tract infections and bladder infections can often develop or worsen symptoms of confusion, decreased mobility, and enhance agitation (6).

  • What has your loved one had to drink in the last 24 hours? Dehydration is common in seniors due to a decreased sense of thirst. Dry eyes, mouth and skin are symptoms to watch for along with confusion and forgetfulness. Make your loved one a hot or cold cup of non-caffeinated tea, offer a slice of juicy watermelon, and make sure to add water dense foods into their daily meals. Or gently remind your loved one to sip on water throughout the day.

  • Do you know when your loved one last had a bowel movement? That’s an important discomfort to address.

  • Don’t forget to do a quick glance of the clothes your loved one is wearing. A waistband that itches, the tongue of a shoe that is rubbing, socks bunched at the toe, a collar that is too tight, or a fabric that scratches could all result in discomfort. All of these minor irritations can be distracting and irritating.

  • Making sure that your loved one is physically comfortable will drastically reduce aggression and agitation.

 

5.    Connect

Dementia can be a frightening and a stressful time for both you as the caregiver and for your loved one. The most important thing you need to keep in mind while working through the aggression and agitation is the connection. Dementia CANNOT steal the love from your relationship. It only changes the relationship. 

Always look for ways that you can cherish your loved one instead of focusing on the more frustrating aspects of being a caregiver. If the immediate situation or activity seems to be triggering your loved one, try to be proactive in changing that situation. Redirect to a more peaceful and relaxing activity. If a conversation is upsetting either you or your loved one, acknowledge what your loved one said and then move to a different topic.

Aim to say yes as much as possible. If your loved one mentions that she saw someone who has passed away years ago agree with how lovely that would be to talk to them again. Even build on it and ask what they talked about. This gives you both a connection with one another and serves as a comforting conversation.

Remember that you can only count on today. Enjoy the moments that you have. Listen to music together, dance (if you can!), play an instrument, offer a massage or brush your loved one’s hair. Go for a walk outside and listen to the bird songs or look at flowers. As Alzheimer’s and dementia progress, the world is largely experienced through senses. Express your love through touch, sounds, sight, tastes, and smells.

Home Care Assistance hopes that these tips will help you continue to cherish your loved one even as dementia changes the dynamics of your relationship. Dementia, particularly dealing with aggression and agitation it causes, can be challenging for caregivers. Remember the importance of connecting with your loved one, and rely on communicating your own positive attitude so that they can mirror you. Provide a soothing environment and aim to remain calm and loving. Empathize with your loved one’s feelings and always emphasize love. When it comes time to invite more help into the home, look for caregivers that are trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

Home Care Assistance can provide guidance to patients and families in Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas. If you are looking for Edmond home care or dementia care in Oklahoma City, reach out to us. We are ready to help you through the home care process.

 

 

Sources:

1.    https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=84#Psychological%20and%20emotional%20impact%20of%20dementia

2.    https://www.alz.org/flgulfcoast/alzheimers_disease_62487.asp

3.    https://www.homewatchcaregivers.com/dementia-and-verbal-communication

4.    https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-agitation-anxiety.asp

5.    https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-aggression-anger.asp

6.    https://www.healthline.com/health/uti-in-elderly