As long as your loved one is fairly independent, all is well. The time will come when they need you to physically help them. Getting up from a chair. Help with bathing, Help to get out of bed. Help with toileting.
Can you do it correctly and safely for both of you? Think about what can happen if you don’t know how to move and transfer someone correctly. You can wrench your back and then what? They can fall and hit their head or break a bone.
December 14, 2022
Maybe your mom can help you to move, right now. What happens when she can’t and is dead weight? Your dad is able to use safety bars to toilet and shower, right now, but what about over the next year?
Keep them safe and yourself healthy – Skills You Need
Not only do you have to figure out how to help them, but you also have to figure out how to keep yourself from getting hurt while helping them. Are you really in good enough physical shape to help them? Even if you are in great physical shape, do you have the knowledge and training to do the transfers and get them up safely?
Did you know that there are online courses or videos to help you learn the skills needed?
There are some online courses or videos for you to access. It would benefit you and your loved one to view the videos and take a course or two. I am sure that many are on YouTube, but be careful to find out where their expertise came from.
Educating yourself and learning new things will help you and your loved one. Be safe. Be safe for yourself. Be safe for your loved one. Learn how to put a gait belt on your loved one and how to use it appropriately. Be prepared to help them up from the floor after a fall. Do you know how to check for injuries Before moving them?
Remember these essential safety tips
Bend from your waist
Try to pull your older adult up
Ask them to hold onto your shoulders or neck
Let them use toilet paper holders, towel bars, or other non-sturdy items to help them sit or stand
It may be disease-related or due to other reasons that can be addressed and fixed.
December 7, 2022
You notice that your mom has lost weight. Maybe, she was a larger woman who could lose a few pounds. She tells you that she is not hungry or doesn’t have much of an appetite. She does not appear to be underweight, so you don’t think too much about it.
Unintended Weight Loss
A couple of weeks later, you see her again and you notice a little more weight loss. The question to ask is, “Do you mean to lose weight?” Unintended weight loss can become a problem. She also appears weaker and more tired.
Ask more questions such as:
Is your mouth sore or is it hard to chew?
Is it hard to swallow?
Do you feel like you are choking when you swallow?
Have you lost your appetite?
Does your stomach hurt?
Do you have swelling or are you retaining fluid?
Can you only eat a little bit at a time?
If yes, to any of these, a visit to the primary care physician is in order.
Physical issues also contribute to malnutrition
Try to find a physical cause. Can they get to the store? Can they cook for themselves? What are they eating? Frozen dinners, soup, cheese, and crackers? Are they drinking enough fluids?
They may be eating, but it may not be enough for their nutritional needs. There is usually an imbalance of protein, fat, carbs, and calories that the body needs every day.
What else can cause malnutrition?
It could be their medications. It could also be dementia or depression. Chronic disease also decreases appetite.
Common chronic diseases that affect (usually decrease) appetite:
Common things that may decrease appetite that is usually self-limiting or can be more easily treated at home.
Dehydration – when we don’t get enough fluids we feel sick
GERD – acid reflux
Problems caused by malnutrition:
Increased risk of hospitalization.
Increased risk of death.
It weakens the immune system, making them more susceptible to “getting” an infection.
It causes muscle weakness and bone loss which can lead to an increase in falls and fractures.
It slows wound healing.
It decreases heart muscle mass.
It causes poor respiratory function.
It increases anxiety.
It increases self-neglect. (Poor hygiene, Unkempt appearance, Neglecting to clean the house, Hoarding, Not wearing suitable clothing for the weather, Messy hair, Dirty nails, Unusual odors, etc.)
**An obese person can still be malnourished.**
**It isn’t always diagnosed in a hospital setting or a physician’s office without information from the patient or family members.**
If you suspect your loved one is malnourished, you may have to be a more vocal advocate to get it checked out. It is perfectly okay for you to speak up and keep speaking up until you have been listened to and someone does a malnutrition lab workup.
A Registered Dietician (RD) can be of tremendous help.
Too many choices, too many decisions, too much overwhelm, and decision fatigue all contribute to you feeling and being stuck. Do you feel as if you are “just surviving” every day? That stinks, doesn’t it? But, what to do and how to get started moving forward again?
November 30, 2022
Maybe, it is what to do first?
Sometimes, the issue is that we do not know what to do first. Not only that, but we stress over what is the most important thing to do first. We are afraid to be wrong and so, we do nothing. I think the acronym F.A.I.L. is appropriate here, it is your First Attempt In Learning. Yes, you are learning what works and what does not work. Failure is an event and never a person.
Afraid of making the wrong decision- pros and cons
We like certainty. We want to know that we have made the “right” decision. Our brains do not like uncertainty, it makes them work overtime to feel safe. Our brains get hijacked by our emotions and we cannot think logically. Stop overloading your brain. You do have a decision-making process, but sometimes overthinking causes you to procrastinate.
Do you feel like you have to “shop around” and keep all your options open before making a decision? Two or three would be ideal, but we have to go to 10 places and keep comparing. How many of us get too obsessed or too anxious? You know who you are and you are nodding your head in agreement. You may have many options, but are they good options for you and your loved one?
How much energy are these decisions taking? Is it really worth that much stress, anxiety, or energy-wasting? Have you ever thought about when this choice overload happens? It usually happens when we don’t have enough good information or knowledge in the area of need. Use your good resources. Set your limit to three of those resources. Find a knowledgeable person and have them provide you with your best two or three options for your needs. (That would be a plug for my services, in case you didn’t catch it.) I know that you are afraid of making the wrong decision. I want you to know that you can make another choice if the first one isn’t working very well. You can pivot. It really is okay.
What does feeling stuck look like?
You have been searching for something that interests you and you find it. Then you look at all the steps it takes to do it and talk yourself out of doing it.
You keep thinking about what could be better or different all the time. You may even be future-oriented. You get into the “when I get this, I will be happy” or “when this happens, I will be happy.” The problem is that you are here, right now in the present and this is where your focus for happiness would be best served.
You really want something – for yourself – a new relationship, a better job, a new house, to get in better shape, etc. – However, before you start, you lose your motivation. Maybe, you do get started and then you lose your motivation.
You have a feeling that something isn’t right in your life, even if you can’t put your finger on it.
Is it a lack of motivation?
Motivation is red hot for a while, but then it burns out and all you have are a bunch of ashes. What now? For one, the realization that motivation is never enough to achieve a goal. It takes commitment to the process. Doing it even though you don’t feel like it is another realization. Be consistent. Continue after a break.
Maybe you feel trapped as a family caregiver. You don’t mind helping, but now you feel like you never get out. It is a difficult adjustment. Be careful, resentments can build up before you know it. You feel like you are missing out. You feel trapped by doing the same tasks over and over.
Consider this, challenges are matters of perspectives and our own attitudes.
Is there some middle ground that you and your care receiver can agree to? Challenge yourself on “stinking thinking.” It could be your perspective and attitude that are the problems. Feelings change and they don’t last forever. It is best to make choices on the information that you have at the time. You will encounter a tough decision and you will feel overwhelmed. There are no perfect solutions so stop trying to find the perfect solution.
Some ideas to help you not feel trapped:
Only you can change the things in your life that you are unhappy about.
Live a healthier life by moving (walking/running) and eating better.
Be consistent, motivation alone is not enough.
Accept uncertainty. We can make good decisions, but we cannot choose the outcome.
Reconnect with your personal values.
What can you do, right now, that will be helpful?
Be the hero of your story and not the victim. Stop saying, “I don’t want …”
Stop focusing on the things that are causing you to suffer. Focus on whatever fills you up.
You may not have good options, so choose the option that you will regret the least.
See if you are in the “all or nothing” thinking. It can be a “both/and.”
Write down some “I could …” statements.
Write down three different things you are grateful for every day.
Be proactive rather than reactive. You will have more control and less stress.
Determine the number of good resources you will use. Three and no more than five. Do a pros and cons list. Throw the right choice out the window. Good enough for now, is okay.