Category: Caregiver Information

When to Stop Being a Spousal or Family Caregiver

Man holding a post-it note, with a question.

Some signs that it may be time to say “no” to being a family caregiver:

  • Feeling exhausted, stressed, or overwhelmed
  • You are neglecting your own health and well-being
  • You are experiencing financial strain due to caregiving responsibilities (you have to go back to work)
  • You feel angry or resentful towards your loved one
  • You struggle to balance caregiving with other responsibilities such as work or family
  • Your “give a damn” no longer gives a damn

Sense of Duty or Commitment 

You may feel a sense of duty and obligation to provide care for your loved one. However, there may come a point where you can no longer provide the level of care that your loved one needs, or where caregiving is taking a toll on your own physical and emotional health. Knowing when it’s time to stop being a caregiver can be difficult, but it’s important to recognize the signs and evaluate your options.

Recognizing the Signs of Caregiver Burnout is an important first step in determining if it’s time to stop being a caregiver. Caregiver burnout can manifest in physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and insomnia, as well as emotional symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and irritability. If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms, it may be time to reevaluate your caregiving role and consider alternative care options.

Understanding the Effects of Prolonged Caregiving is also crucial in determining when it’s time to stop being a caregiver. Prolonged caregiving can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, as well as financial strain and social isolation. It’s important to recognize that being a caregiver is a demanding role, and it’s okay to ask for help or seek out alternative care options when necessary.

Recognizing the Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Caring for a loved one can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be physically and emotionally exhausting. Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able, physically or financially. It’s important to recognize the signs of caregiver burnout so that you can take steps to prevent it.

Physical and Emotional Exhaustion

Physical and emotional exhaustion are common signs of caregiver burnout. You may feel tired all the time, even after a good night’s sleep. You may also experience headaches, stomach problems, or other physical symptoms. Emotionally, you may feel overwhelmed, sad, or anxious. You may also feel like you don’t have anything left to give. We probably need to go al little deeper with the list.

Emotional Exhaustion Signs & Symptoms:

  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Sense of dread
  • Change in appetite
  • Irrational anger
  • Increased forgetfulness
  • Increased bitterness or pessimism
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Headaches
  • You are experiencing a lack of interest or you are developing an uncaring attitude

Physical Exhaustion Signs & Symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach issues like gas, bloating or constipation
  • Skin changes like dry skin, acne, or chapped lips
  • Changes in vision (Blurriness)
  • Tiredness or Fatigue that does not go away with good sleep
  • General aches and pains
  • Increased energy or a “wired” feeling
  • Frequent colds or cold-like symptoms

Mental Exhaustion Signs & Symptoms

  • You have insomnia
  • You are easily irritated
  • You lack motivation
  • You are never on time
  • You may experience anxiety attacks
  • You have difficulty making decisions
  • You have emotional detachment
  • You experience self-doubt more often
  • You are struggling to keep personal or work commitments
  • You may cry easily or cry for no reason
  • You may feel dizzy or nauseousness

Neglect of Personal Needs

When you’re a caregiver, it’s easy to neglect your own needs. You may feel like you don’t have time to exercise, eat healthy, or get enough sleep. You may also neglect your own social life, hobbies, or other interests. Neglecting your personal needs can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion and make it harder to provide care for your loved one. Have you heard the phrase, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”? 

Decreased Patience and Increased Irritability

Caregiver burnout can also lead to decreased patience and increased irritability. You may find yourself getting frustrated more easily, snapping at your loved one, or feeling angry for no reason. This can make it harder to provide care and can strain your relationship with your loved one.

Recognizing the signs of caregiver burnout is the first step in preventing it. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take steps to care for yourself. This may include getting help from family members or friends, taking time for yourself, or seeking professional help. Remember, taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your loved one.

Understanding the Effects of Prolonged Caregiving

Impact on Personal Health

Caring for a loved one can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Caregivers are at risk of developing stress-related illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, caregivers are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

To maintain your health, it’s important to take breaks from caregiving and prioritize self-care. Make sure to eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. Consider joining a support group or seeking professional counseling to manage stress and cope with the emotional challenges of caregiving.

Effect on Relationships

Caring for a loved one can also strain your relationships with family and friends. Caregivers often feel isolated and may struggle to maintain social connections. According to a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, caregivers are more likely to experience relationship strain and divorce.

To maintain healthy relationships, it’s important to communicate openly and honestly with your loved ones. Make time for social activities and prioritize your own needs. Consider enlisting the help of family and friends to share the caregiving responsibilities.

Financial Implications

Caring for a loved one can also have significant financial implications. Caregivers often have to take time off work or quit their jobs to provide care. According to a report by AARP, caregivers spend an average of $7,000 per year on out-of-pocket expenses related to caregiving.

To manage the financial impact of caregiving, consider seeking financial assistance and support. Look into programs such as Medicaid and Veterans Affairs to help cover the cost of care. Consider enlisting the help of a financial advisor to manage your finances and plan for the future.

Evaluating Alternative Care Options

When the time comes that you can no longer be a spousal or family caregiver, it’s important to consider alternative care options that can meet the needs of your loved one. Here are some options to consider:

Home Health Care Services

Home health care services provide medical care and support in the comfort of your loved one’s own home. These services can include skilled nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. In addition, home health aides can assist with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and grooming.

When evaluating home health services, it’s important to consider the level of care your loved one needs, the cost of the services, and the qualifications of the caregivers. You can find home health services through Medicare-certified agencies, private companies, or non-profit organizations. Most of the time you need non-medical home health. 

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities provide a combination of housing, personal care services, and health care services. These facilities typically offer private apartments or rooms, meals, housekeeping, and transportation. In addition, they provide assistance with activities of daily living, medication management, and medical care.

When evaluating assisted living facilities, it’s important to consider the location, cost, services provided, and the qualifications of the staff. You can find assisted living facilities through state licensing agencies, referrals from health care professionals, or online directories.

Adult Day Care Centers

Adult day care centers provide a safe and stimulating environment for seniors who require supervision during the day. These centers offer social activities, meals, and assistance with activities of daily living. In addition, they may provide medical care, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

When evaluating adult day care centers, it’s important to consider the location, cost, services provided, and the qualifications of the staff. You can find adult day care centers through state licensing agencies, referrals from health care professionals, or online directories.

Remember, each alternative care option has its own benefits and drawbacks. It’s important to evaluate each option carefully and choose the one that best meets the needs of your loved one.

Navigating the Transition Process

When it’s time to stop being a spousal or family caregiver, it can be a difficult and emotional process. However, it’s important to navigate this transition process with care and consideration for both you and your loved one. Here are some sub-sections to consider as you navigate this process:

Communicating the Change

It’s important to communicate the change to your loved one in a clear and compassionate way. Be honest about your reasons for needing to step back from your caregiving role and reassure them that they will still receive the care and support they need. Listen to their concerns and be open to discussing alternative care options.

Ensuring Comfort and Safety

As you transition out of your caregiving role, it’s important to ensure that your loved one is comfortable and safe. This may involve hiring a professional caregiver or enlisting the help of family and friends. Make sure that your loved one’s needs are being met and that they are receiving the appropriate level of care. Remember, you will still be a care giver or care partner, you won’t be doing the “hands-on” care. You get to move back into your role of spouse. 

Handling Emotional Responses

It’s normal for both you and your loved one to experience a range of emotions during this transition process. You may feel guilty or sad about stepping back from your hands-on caregiving role, while your loved one may feel anxious or upset about the change. It’s important to acknowledge and validate these emotions, while also providing reassurance and support.

Overall, navigating the transition process when it’s time to stop being a spousal or family hands-on caregiver can be challenging. However, by communicating the change, ensuring comfort and safety, and handling emotional responses with care and compassion, you can help make the process as smooth as possible for both you and your loved one.

Summing it up

Caring for a loved one is a noble and selfless act. However, being a spousal or family caregiver can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. It is important to recognize when it’s time to stop being a caregiver and seek outside help.

If you feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and isolated, it may be time to take a break from caregiving. Remember, you cannot take care of someone else if you don’t care for yourself. Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself or asking for help. It’s okay to prioritize your own well-being.

When considering outside help, there are several options available. You can hire a professional caregiver, enroll your loved one in an adult day care program, or consider assisted living or nursing home care. It’s important to research and evaluate each option carefully to find the best fit for your loved one’s needs and your budget.

It’s also important to have open and honest communication with your loved one about your decision to stop being their caregiver. Be empathetic and understanding, but also firm in your decision. Remember, your loved one’s health and well-being are just as important as your own.

In conclusion, being a spousal or family caregiver is a challenging and rewarding experience. However, it’s important to recognize when it’s time to stop and seek outside help. By prioritizing your own well-being and finding the right care for your loved one, you can ensure that both of you are happy, healthy, and supported.

How to Survive the Challenges of Spousal Caregiving

Your wife has Alzheimer’s and it is worsening. Your husband has Parkinson’s disease and is beginning to fall and have hallucinations. Your wife is experiencing the effects of chemotherapy. Your husband has COPD and you have just realized that it is a terminal diagnosis. Your husband has had a debilitating stroke and one side of his body no longer works. Caring for a spouse who is ill or disabled can be a challenging and emotional experience. As a spousal caregiver, you may find yourself struggling to balance your own needs with the needs of your partner. You may feel overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious about the future

You will learn about some of the challenges of spousal caregiving, including the emotional, physical, and financial aspects of caregiving. You will also discover practical coping strategies, such as building a support network, maintaining your relationship, and planning for the future. Whether you are a new caregiver or have been caring for your spouse for years, this article will provide you with valuable insights and tips to help you navigate the caregiving journey.

Understanding Spousal Caregiving

As a spousal Care Partner or caregiver, you play a vital role in providing care and support to your partner who is chronically ill or disabled. This responsibility can be both rewarding and challenging, and it’s essential to understand the unique aspects of spousal caregiving to cope and thrive in your role.  Yes, it is possible to thrive.

Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • The caregiver role can be overwhelming: As a spousal caregiver, you may find yourself taking on multiple responsibilities, including managing medications, coordinating doctor’s appointments, providing personal care, and handling household chores. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and even isolated at times.
  • Your relationship with your partner may change: When one spouse becomes ill or disabled, it’s common for the dynamic of the relationship to shift. You may find yourself taking on more of a caregiver role and less of a partner role, which can be challenging to navigate. It sometimes happens so slowly that you don’t realize it has happened.
  • Your own well-being is essential: Caring for a loved one can take a toll on your physical, emotional, and mental health. It’s crucial to prioritize your own well-being by seeking support, taking breaks when needed, and maintaining healthy habits. The reality is, that if you don’t take care of yourself you can find yourself in worse physical shape than your loved one. Then what? Who will take care of your spouse? Hell, who will take care of you?
  • Communication is key: Open and honest communication with your partner is essential to maintain a strong relationship and ensure that their needs are being met. It’s also important to communicate with healthcare providers and other support services to ensure that you are providing the best care possible. Speak up, if you need training. Find a good support group to attend regularly.
  • Support is available: There are many resources available to spousal caregivers, including support groups, counseling services, and respite care. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. You will need it.

Remember, spousal caregiving can be both challenging and rewarding. By understanding the unique aspects of your role and taking care of yourself, you can provide the best possible care for your partner while maintaining a strong and healthy relationship. Everyone has a different relationship and your wants and needs may differ from someone else’s wants or needs. There is no good or bad, just different.

Coping with Emotional Challenges

 You may experience stress, guilt, resentment, anger, anxiety, and depression. Coping with these emotions is essential to your well-being and the well-being of your spouse. Here are some strategies to help you cope with emotional challenges:

Managing Stress

You may feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and frustrated. It is essential to manage your stress to avoid burnout. You will have to schedule what you need and make it a priority. Here are some ways to manage stress:

  • Take breaks: Take time for yourself. Go for a walk, read a book, or take a nap.
  • Get support: Join a support group or talk to a friend or family member.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Try deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
  • Exercise: Exercise can help reduce stress and improve your mood.

Dealing with Guilt and Resentment

You may feel guilty about not doing enough or resentful about the changes in your life. These feelings are normal but can be overwhelming. Here are some ways to deal with guilt and resentment:

  • Recognize your feelings: Acknowledge your feelings and accept that they are normal.
  • Talk to someone: Talk to a therapist or a trusted friend or family member.
  • Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can.
  • Focus on the positive: Focus on the positive aspects of your relationship with your spouse.
  • Manage your energy: Whatever you focus on takes energy and if you are focused on all the ways things are going wrong, you will stay exhausted. If you are still mad or pissed off about reality and are still fighting the acceptance of “what is” then you are wasting your energy. You don’t have to like it, but don’t waste your energy on things you cannot change. Focus on what you can do or can change.

Handling Anxiety and Depression

Caring for a spouse can be emotionally draining and can lead to anxiety and depression. It is essential to seek help if you are experiencing anxiety or depression. Here are some ways to handle anxiety and depression:

  • Seek professional help: Talk to a therapist or a doctor.
  • Practice self-care: Take care of yourself by eating well, sleeping well, and exercising.
  • Stay connected: Stay connected with friends and family. Don’t isolate.
  • Join a support group: Join a support group for caregivers.

Remember, it is normal to experience emotional challenges as a spousal caregiver. Coping with these emotions is essential to your well-being and the well-being of your spouse. Use these strategies to help you cope and thrive.

Physical Challenges of Caregiving

Caring for a spouse can be physically challenging, especially if you are providing care for an extended period. The following sub-sections will explore some physical challenges and strategies for coping with them.

Maintaining Personal Health

It is essential to maintain your personal health when providing care for your spouse. You may find yourself neglecting your health as you focus on your spouse’s needs. You will need your strength as dead weight if very difficult to move or manage.  However, taking care of yourself is crucial for your well-being and your ability to provide care. Here are some tips for maintaining your personal health:

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet to maintain your energy levels.
  • Exercise regularly to keep your body healthy and reduce stress.
  • Get enough sleep to prevent fatigue and exhaustion.
  • Take breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge.

Handling Fatigue

Fatigue is a common physical challenge that caregivers face. It can be challenging to manage your own needs, as well as your spouse’s needs and this can lead to exhaustion. Here are some strategies for handling fatigue:

  • Prioritize rest and sleep to prevent burnout.
  • Ask for help from family members or friends to provide respite care.
  • Take breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge.
  • Consider hiring a professional caregiver to provide additional support.

Managing Care Recipient’s Physical Needs

You may find yourself responsible for managing your spouse’s physical needs. This can include tasks such as bathing, dressing, and feeding. Here are some tips for managing your spouse’s physical needs:

  • Use assistive devices such as a wheelchair, lifts, or a  walker to reduce the physical strain of caregiving.
  • Consider modifying your home to make it more accessible for your spouse.
  • Seek advice from healthcare professionals on how to manage your spouse’s physical needs.
  • Take care of your own physical needs, such as maintaining good posture and lifting correctly, to prevent injury.

Remember, caring for a spouse can be physically challenging, but with the right strategies in place, you can manage these challenges and provide the best care possible. Get training on how to use assistive devices as well as how to properly lift someone.

Financial Aspects of Caregiving

Not only are the physical and emotional tolls hard, you have to deal with the financial burden. Is there enough money? How do we use what we have to make things easier? Here are some strategies to help you manage the financial aspects of caregiving.

Budgeting for Care

One of the most important things you can do is to create a budget for your caregiving expenses. This will help you keep track of your expenses and ensure that you are not overspending. Start by making a list of all your caregiving expenses, including medical bills, medications, and home modifications. Then, prioritize your expenses based on their importance and allocate your funds accordingly. If you don’t like the word “budget,” then make it a spending plan. While everything has a cost, it isn’t always an expense, sometimes it is an investment.

Understanding Insurance

Understanding your insurance coverage is essential to managing your caregiving expenses. Make sure you know what your insurance covers and what it does not. You may need to contact your insurance provider to get more information. If your spouse has a long-term care insurance policy, make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the policy. Find out what criteria need to be met to enact the coverage and what the daily amount of money that you will receive in benefit coverage. Remember, most of these long-term care policies reimburse you so you will have to pay upfront for services.

Seeking Financial Assistance

There are many financial assistance programs available to caregivers. Some of these programs are government-funded, while others are offered by non-profit organizations. You may be eligible for programs such as Medicaid, which can help cover the cost of medical care, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which can help cover the cost of groceries. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to learn more about the programs available in your area. Type in “area office on aging” in the search bar to find your local office.

In addition to these programs, you may also be eligible for tax credits and deductions. For example, you may be able to deduct medical expenses from your taxes, or you may be eligible for the caregiver tax credit. Make sure you talk to a tax professional to learn more about your options.

Managing the financial aspects of caregiving can be challenging, but it is essential to ensure that you and your spouse can continue to receive the care you need. By creating a budget or spending plan understanding your insurance coverage, and seeking financial assistance, you can help alleviate some of the financial burdens of caregiving.

Building a Support Network

When you’re a spousal caregiver, it’s easy to feel isolated and overwhelmed. Building a support network is essential to help you cope with the challenges of caregiving and thrive. Your support network should be made up of people who can provide emotional support, practical help, and respite care when you need it. Here are some strategies for building a support network that works for you.

Reaching Out to Friends and Family

The first step in building a support network is to reach out to your friends and family. Let them know what you’re going through and ask for their help. They may be able to provide practical support, such as running errands or cooking meals, or they may simply be there to listen when you need to talk. Don’t be afraid to be specific about what you need. For example, if you need someone to stay with your spouse for a few hours so you can take a break, ask for it. They cannot read your mind and no, they do not know what you need. Make a list and have it ready for them to signup for things you need.

Leveraging Community Resources

There are many community resources available to spousal caregivers. These may include local senior centers, adult day care programs, and respite care services. Check with your local Area Agency on Aging to see what resources are available in your area. You may also be able to find support through your faith community, local support groups, or online forums.

Joining Caregiver Support Groups

Joining a caregiver support group can be a great way to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. You can share your experiences, learn from others, and get emotional support. You may also be able to find practical help, such as advice on how to manage your spouse’s symptoms or how to navigate the healthcare system. Look for support groups in your area or online. The Alzheimer’s Association and the Family Caregiver Alliance are two organizations that offer support groups for spousal caregivers.

Building a support network takes time and effort, but it’s essential to help you cope with the challenges of spousal caregiving. Remember that you don’t have to do it alone. There are people and resources available to help you. Take advantage of them and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Asking for help is not a weakness, it is a strength.

Maintaining Your Relationship

Caring for your spouse can be a challenging and stressful experience that can put a strain on your relationship. However, with the right strategies, you can maintain a healthy relationship while providing care for your spouse. Here are some tips to help you maintain your relationship while caregiving.

Communicating Effectively

Communication is essential in any relationship, and it is especially important when you are a care partner or a caregiver. It’s important to communicate your needs and feelings with your spouse and to listen to their needs and feelings as well. You may find that you need to adjust your communication style to accommodate changes in your spouse’s health or abilities. Listen and talk for understanding not winning.

Here are some tips for effective communication:

  • Be patient and understanding.
  • Use “I” statements to express your feelings.
  • Listen actively.
  • Practice empathy.
  • Be open and honest.

Keeping Romance Alive

Caring for your spouse can be all-consuming, and it’s easy to neglect your romantic relationship. However, it’s essential to keep the romance alive to maintain a healthy relationship. Here are some tips to help you keep the romance alive:

  • Make time for intimacy.
  • Plan date nights.
  • Show affection.
  • Compliment each other.
  • Surprise each other with small gestures.

Let’s go ahead and expound on the intimacy part. There are many types of intimacy. Sexual is one and if you both want it, go for it and enjoy it. Be open to the other types of intimacy that bring you closer to each other, too.

  • Emotional intimacy – share your thoughts, feelings, and wants with openness and honesty
  • Physical intimacy – holding hands, hugging, cuddling, kissing, dancing, non-sexual touching
  • Intellectual intimacy – sharing opinions, thoughts, ideas, interests, knowledge
  • Experiential intimacy – Doing” things” together, taking a trip, doing an activity, playing a board game or cards
  • Spiritual intimacy – explore and share your inner beliefs, values, spiritual or philosophical views

Balancing Caregiving and Personal Time

Caregiving can be a full-time job, but it’s important to make time for yourself. What is a full-time job? 40 hours per week, on average. NOT 24/7. How many of you are working a full-time job outside of the house plus being a care partner or caregiver? Can you see how you might need some help? Taking care of your own needs can help you be a better caregiver and maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse. Here are some tips for balancing caregiving and personal time:

  • Take breaks when you need them.
  • Ask for help from family and friends.
  • Hire a respite caregiver.
  • Pursue hobbies or interests.
  • Practice self-care, such as exercise, meditation, or therapy.

By communicating effectively, keeping the romance alive, and balancing caregiving and personal time, you can maintain a healthy relationship while providing care for your spouse. Remember that caregiving is a team effort, and you and your spouse can work together to overcome any challenges that come your way.

Planning for the Future

As a spousal caregiver, it’s important to plan for the future to ensure that you and your spouse are taken care of in the best possible way. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

Legal Considerations

It’s important to have all legal documents to ensure that your spouse’s wishes are respected and that you have the authority to make decisions on their behalf if they cannot do so. This includes creating a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a last will and testament. Consult with an attorney to ensure that all documents are legally binding and up-to-date. If you cannot afford a lawyer, then use an online reputable company.

Long-Term Care Options

It’s important to consider long-term care options for your spouse, especially if their condition is likely to worsen over time. This includes options such as in-home care, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. Research and compare different options to find the best fit for your spouse’s needs and budget. For most of you, if you do not already have a long-term insurance policy in place, it will probably be cost-prohibitive now.

End-of-Life Discussions

While it may be difficult to discuss end-of-life care, it’s important to have these conversations with your spouse to ensure that their wishes are respected. This includes discussing options such as hospice care, palliative care, and funeral arrangements. Make sure to document your spouse’s wishes and communicate them to family members and healthcare providers.

By planning for the future, you can ensure that you and your spouse are taken care of in the best possible way. Consult with professionals and have open and honest discussions to make informed decisions.

Tips to Embrace Change and Decrease Your Resistance to Change

Change is hard. We square up and are ready to fight when any change threatens our status quo. Will you be curious and still, long enough to think before you react? Even if things are simple, they are not easy. What if we stopped looking at change as the enemy and look at the possibilities the change will allow us to have? It’s a process. Give yourself permission to change along with the grace to move forward.

If you’re looking to make changes to your lifestyle for health reasons, it’s important to be prepared for resistance. Whether from others or within yourself, resistance to change can be one of the biggest obstacles to achieving your health goals. However, there are several tips you can follow to help overcome this resistance and make lasting changes to your health habits.

One of the most important things you can do is to set clear and realistic goals. This will help you stay focused and motivated and give you a sense of accomplishment as you reach each milestone. It’s also important to have a support system in place, whether it’s friends and family or a professional coach or counselor. This can help you stay accountable and provide encouragement when you’re feeling discouraged. Think SMART Goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, & Timely.

Another key to decreasing your resistance to change is to be patient with yourself. Change takes time, and setbacks are inevitable. However, it’s important to stay positive and keep moving forward. Remember that every small step you take towards your health goals is a step in the right direction and that every day is a new opportunity to make positive changes in your life. Progress over perfection. 

It is important to understand that resistance to change is a natural and normal response to change. We talked about that in the last post.  However, it is also important to recognize when resistance to change is preventing you from making positive changes to your health. What is really stopping you? Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. Feeling that you aren’t worthy? You don’t really know where to begin or how to start? 

Health Benefits of Embracing Change

Increased Longevity

Embracing change can lead to increased life span and even better health.  Studies have shown that individuals who are open to change are more likely to live longer and healthier lives. This is because change often leads to new opportunities, experiences, and challenges that keep the mind and body active and engaged. Our bodies are made to move. 

In addition, embracing change can help you develop a more positive outlook on life. When you are open to new experiences, you are more likely to see the world as full of possibilities rather than limitations. This can lead to a more optimistic and hopeful attitude, which has been linked to better health outcomes. I get it. I am saying to embrace change you are back at decreasing resistance. You do have to decrease your resistance to change before you can embrace change. 

Improved Mental Health

Reducing resistance to change can also have a positive impact on your mental health. When you are open to new experiences, you are less likely to feel stuck or trapped in your current situation. This can help reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression.

In addition, embracing change can help you develop resilience and coping skills. When you encounter challenges or setbacks, you are better equipped to adapt and overcome them. This can help you feel more confident and in control of your life. If you are a caregiver or care partner, you sure do need these positive benefits, don’t you?

Overall, embracing change can have a number of health benefits. By staying open to new experiences and opportunities, you can increase your longevity, improve your mental health, and develop resilience and coping skills. So next time you are faced with a change, try to approach it with an open mind and a positive attitude. You may be surprised at the positive impact it can have on your health and well-being. Be curious about doing things differently. Learn to “let it go.” I couldn’t do that until I learned what that really meant. Letting it go means to “let it be, just as it is, right now.” I had to learn to do things with no attachment to the outcome. I prepare, implement and readjust as needed, but I cannot control the outcome. 

Practical Tips for Overcoming Resistance

Dealing with resistance to change can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to health-related changes. However, with the right mindset and approach, you can overcome resistance and achieve your health goals. Here are some practical tips to help you overcome resistance to change. If you are a caregiver, you must maintain your own health or you will not be able to be a good caregiver for very long. 

Embrace a Positive Mindset

The first step to overcoming resistance to change is to embrace a positive mindset. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of change, focus on the positive outcomes that you will achieve. Visualize yourself achieving your health goals and imagine how good it will feel to be healthier. This positive mindset will help you stay motivated and overcome any resistance that you may encounter. Understand that willpower alone will not make you successful. Sometimes, you have to make a decision and do it, no matter how you feel. Do it, consistently, and soon it will become a habit that you don’t have to think about. 

You have to look towards your future self. Look three months down the road. What are you doing? How are you feeling now that you are progressing? What benefits are you seeing? How much stronger are you both physically and mentally? 

Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is another important step in overcoming resistance to change. When you set unrealistic goals, you are setting yourself up for failure, which can lead to resistance. Instead, set achievable goals that are within your reach. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, start with a small goal of losing 1 pound each week. As you achieve these small goals, you will build momentum and be more likely to achieve your larger goals. Walk for 10-15 minutes 5 days a week. 

Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, overcoming resistance to change can be difficult on your own. If you are struggling to make changes to your health, seek professional help. A healthcare professional can provide you with the guidance and support that you need to overcome resistance and achieve your health goals. They can also help you create a personalized plan that is tailored to your specific needs.

Hire a trainer for a few sessions. Find a buddy to walk with or to help keep each other accountable and encourage each other. 

Incorporating Healthy Lifestyle Changes

When it comes to improving your health, making lifestyle changes is key. Incorporating healthy habits can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that small changes can make a big difference. Here are some tips for incorporating healthy lifestyle changes that can help you overcome resistance to change:

Dietary Changes

Changing your diet can be one of the most challenging lifestyle changes to make, but it’s also one of the most important. Here are some tips for making dietary changes:

  • Start small: Make small changes to your diet, such as swapping out unhealthy snacks for healthier options.
  • Plan ahead: Plan your meals and snacks in advance to avoid making unhealthy choices when you’re hungry.
  • Keep it balanced: Make sure your diet includes a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  • Seek support: Consider joining a support group or working with a registered dietitian to help you make healthy dietary changes.
  • Carbohydrates 40 – 45 gm at each meal
  • Drink your water every day. (about half your body weight in ounces of water per day)

Exercise and Physical Activity

Regular exercise and physical activity can help improve your overall health and reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Here are some tips for incorporating exercise and physical activity into your daily routine:

  • Start small: Begin with small amounts of physical activity, such as taking a short walk or doing some light stretching.
  • Find activities you enjoy: Choose activities that you enjoy, such as dancing, hiking, or swimming, to make exercise more fun.
  • Make it a habit: Schedule physical activity into your daily routine to make it a regular habit.
  • Seek support: Consider working with a personal trainer or joining a fitness class to help you stay motivated.

Stress Management

Stress can have a negative impact on your health, so it’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress. Here are some tips for managing stress:

  • Practice relaxation techniques: Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to help reduce stress.
  • Stay organized: Keeping a to-do list and staying organized can help reduce stress and make it easier to manage your daily tasks.
  • Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is important for reducing stress and improving overall health.
  • Seek support: Consider talking to a therapist or joining a support group to help you manage stress.

Remember, making lifestyle changes takes time and effort, but the benefits to your health are worth it. Start small, seek support, and stay motivated to make healthy changes that will improve your overall health and well-being.

Long-Term Strategies for Maintaining Change

Consistency is Key

One of the most important factors in maintaining long-term change is consistency. Once you have made changes to your lifestyle for health reasons, it is essential that you stick to them. This can be challenging, especially if you are used to a certain way of living, but it is crucial for your health and well-being.

To help you stay consistent, consider creating a schedule or routine that includes time for exercise, meal planning, and other healthy habits. This can help you stay on track and make it easier to stick to your new habits. What gets written down, gets done.

Regular Health Check-Ups

Regular health check-ups are also crucial for maintaining long-term change. This can help you monitor your progress and identify any potential health issues early on. It is recommended that you schedule regular check-ups with your doctor or healthcare provider at least once a year.

During these check-ups, your healthcare provider can help you develop a personalized plan to maintain your health and well-being. They can also provide you with valuable information and resources to help you stay on track. If they don’t bring it up, you bring it up. Ask for the help that you need. 

Would you benefit from talk therapy? Most people will. Set up a few sessions and see how you are feeling and doing. Shoot, you can even work on decreasing your resistance to change. Learn coping skills to deal with your stress in a healthier manner. Build your resilience for tough times. 

Join Support Groups

Joining a support group can also be helpful for maintaining long-term change. Support groups provide a sense of community and can help you stay motivated and accountable. They can also provide you with valuable tips, advice, and resources for maintaining your health and well-being.

Consider joining a support group that focuses on your specific health concerns or goals. This can help you connect with others who are going through similar experiences and provide you with the support you need to maintain your healthy habits.

In summary, maintaining long-term change for health reasons requires consistency, regular health check-ups, and support from others. By incorporating these strategies into your lifestyle, you can stay on track and achieve your health and wellness goals.

Common Challenges Family Caregivers Face

You jumped right in and did what needed to be done. You didn’t realize that, over time, you would become exhausted, frustrated, and rewarded. It is such a mix of feelings and emotions. You are finding that there is no such thing as a work-life balance. At times you will need to lean more towards life and other times you will need to lean more towards work. Where are you in this overview of the common challenges family caregivers face?

Are you a family caregiver? If so, you know firsthand the challenges that come with this role. Caring for a loved one can be emotionally and physically exhausting, and it can take a huge toll on your mental health. But you are not alone. Many family caregivers face similar challenges, and there are resources available to help you cope. Some are free and some are paid services. 

One of the biggest challenges of being a family caregiver is the constant vigilance that comes with the role. Not only are you on guard and watching every little thing, but you are also on edge and ready to snap. You may find yourself becoming increasingly watchful of your loved one, trying to stay on top of everything concerning their care. This can be extremely tiring and can lead to feelings of burnout and exhaustion. It’s important to recognize when you need a break and to prioritize your self-care. Self-care is not selfish, it is necessary so you can provide better care to your loved one. 

Another challenge that family caregivers often face is the feeling of isolation. You may feel like you are the only one going through this experience, or that no one understands what you are going through. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. It’s important to reach out to others for support, whether that’s through a support group, online forum, or a trusted friend or family member. While all relationships are different, the challenges are almost universal. 

Are you a family caregiver? If so, you know firsthand the challenges that come with this role. Caring for a loved one can be emotionally and physically exhausting, and it can take a huge toll on your mental health. But you are not alone. Many family caregivers face similar challenges, and there are resources available to help you cope. Some are free and some are paid services. 

One of the biggest challenges of being a family caregiver is the constant vigilance that comes with the role. Not only are you on guard and watching every little thing, but you are also on edge and ready to snap. You may find yourself becoming increasingly watchful of your loved one, trying to stay on top of everything concerning their care. This can be extremely tiring and can lead to feelings of burnout and exhaustion. It’s important to recognize when you need a break and to prioritize your self-care. Self-care is not selfish, it is necessary so you can provide better care to your loved one. 

Another challenge that family caregivers often face is the feeling of isolation. You may feel like you are the only one going through this experience, or that no one understands what you are going through. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. It’s important to reach out to others for support, whether that’s through a support group, online forum, or a trusted friend or family member. While all relationships are different, the challenges are almost universal. 

The Emotional Toll of Caregiving

Caring for a loved one can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience but also take a significant emotional toll on you. Here are some common emotional challenges that caregivers face and some tips on how to cope with them.

Dealing with Stress and Caregiver Burnout

Caregiving can be stressful, and it’s important to recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Signs of stress can include feeling irritable or anxious, having trouble sleeping or experiencing physical symptoms like headaches or stomach problems.

To cope with stress, try to take breaks when you can, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Take deep breaths, go for a walk, or listen to some calming music. It’s also important to take care of your physical health by eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. These things are necessary and not luxuries.

If you’re feeling burnt out, it may be time to ask for help. Consider enlisting the help of other family members or hiring a professional caregiver. It’s important to take care of yourself to continue providing the best care for your loved one.

Coping with Guilt and Grief

As a caregiver, you may experience feelings of guilt or grief. Guilt can arise from feeling like you’re not doing enough for your loved one or from taking time for yourself. Grief can come from watching your loved one’s health decline or from anticipating their death.

To cope with guilt, try to remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can. It’s also important to take breaks and take care of yourself so that you can continue to provide care for your loved one.

To cope with grief, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and seek support from friends, family, or a support group. It’s also important to take care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep.

Remember, it’s normal to experience a range of emotions as a caregiver. By taking care of yourself and seeking support when you need it, you can better cope with the emotional toll of caregiving. Guilt and grief are normal feelings that you will experience. Get comfortable feeling uncomfortable when you feel guilty. Hell, acknowledge what you are feeling. You don’t have to “fix it.”

Financial Challenges for Family Caregivers

Being a family caregiver can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be a challenging and costly one. In addition to the time and emotional commitment required, caregiving can take a toll on your finances. Here are some common financial challenges that family caregivers face and some tips on how to manage them.

Navigating Insurance and Benefits

One of the biggest financial challenges for family caregivers is navigating insurance and benefits. It can be difficult to know what is covered by insurance and what is not. It’s important to understand your loved one’s insurance coverage and benefits, including what is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. You may also want to consider hiring a professional to help you navigate the insurance system.

Managing Expenses and Budgeting

Another financial challenge for family caregivers is managing expenses and budgeting. Caregiving can be expensive, and it’s important to plan ahead and budget accordingly. Some expenses to consider include medical bills, medications, transportation costs, and home modifications. You may also need to factor in lost wages if you need to take time off work to care for your loved one.

To manage expenses and budget effectively, consider creating a caregiving budget. This can help you keep track of your expenses and ensure that you have enough money to cover all of your caregiving costs. You may also want to consider seeking financial assistance or support from government programs, community organizations, or non-profit organizations.

In conclusion, being a family caregiver can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be a financial burden. By understanding your loved one’s insurance coverage and benefits and managing your expenses and budget effectively, you can help alleviate some of the financial stress associated with caregiving.

Balancing Caregiving with Other Responsibilities

Caring for a loved one can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging, especially when you have other responsibilities to attend to. Balancing caregiving with other responsibilities like your career, family, and friends can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Here are some tips to help you maintain a balance between caregiving and other responsibilities.

Maintaining Work-Life Balance

Maintaining a work-life balance is crucial when you are a family caregiver. We hear that all the time, and it is the best term that we have, right now. I look at work-life balance in this way, sometimes life needs more of my attention and sometimes work needs more of my attention. The balance comes into play in the overall picture. It is important to set boundaries and communicate your needs with your employer. You may need to adjust your work schedule or take time off to attend to your caregiving responsibilities. You may also want to consider working from home or finding a job that offers more flexibility.

Supporting Other Family Members

Caring for a loved one can also impact other family members. It is important to communicate with your family members and share the responsibilities of caregiving. You can create a caregiving schedule that outlines each family member’s responsibilities and ensures that everyone is on the same page. You can also delegate specific tasks to family members based on their strengths and availability.

When balancing caregiving with other responsibilities, it is important to take care of yourself. Make sure to take breaks, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. You may also want to consider joining a support group or seeking professional help to manage stress and anxiety.

Remember that caregiving can be a challenging experience, but it can also be rewarding. By balancing caregiving with other responsibilities and taking care of yourself, you can provide the best possible care for your loved one while still maintaining a fulfilling life. Make time for your spouse or significant other on a regular basis. Nurture and enjoy that relationship a minimum of once a week.

Navigating the Healthcare System

As a family caregiver, navigating the healthcare system can be overwhelming and stressful. You may feel like you’re constantly advocating for your loved one and trying to understand complex medical terminology and procedures. Here are some tips to help you navigate the healthcare system with confidence.

Advocating for Your Loved One

As a family caregiver, you are your loved one’s advocate. It’s important to speak up and ask questions to ensure that your loved one is receiving the best possible care. Here are some tips to help you advocate for your loved one:

  • Be prepared: Before appointments or procedures, write down any questions or concerns you have. Bring a list of medications, allergies, and medical history to share with healthcare providers.
  • Be assertive: Don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel like your loved one’s needs aren’t being met. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand something, and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion if necessary.
  • Keep records: Keep track of appointments, test results, and medications. This will help you stay organized and ensure that you have all the information you need to make informed decisions.

Understanding Medical Terminology and Procedures

Medical terminology and procedures can be confusing and overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you understand what’s going on:

  • Ask for explanations: Don’t be afraid to ask healthcare providers to explain medical terminology or procedures in plain language. Ask for visual aids or diagrams if necessary.
  • Do your research: Look up medical terms or procedures online, but be sure to use reputable sources.
  • Take notes: Write down important information, such as test results, diagnoses, and treatment plans. This will help you remember important details and stay organized.

Remember, you are not alone. There are resources available to help you navigate the healthcare system, such as support groups and patient advocates. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Addressing Legal Issues

Being a family caregiver can be stressful and overwhelming, especially when it comes to legal issues. Knowing how to navigate these challenges can help you provide better care for your loved one. Here are some legal issues you may encounter and how to address them:

Power of Attorney and Guardianship

When your loved one is no longer able to make decisions for themselves, you may need to obtain power of attorney or guardianship. Power of attorney gives you the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of your loved one, while guardianship gives you the legal authority to make decisions and take actions on behalf of your loved one, including financial and healthcare decisions.

To obtain power of attorney or guardianship, you may need to go through a legal process, which can be complicated and time-consuming. It’s important to consult with an attorney who specializes in elder law to ensure that you are following the correct procedures and that your loved one’s rights are protected.

Estate Planning and End-of-Life Decisions

Estate planning involves creating a plan for the distribution of your loved one’s assets after they pass away. This can include creating a will, setting up trusts, and designating beneficiaries. It’s important to involve an attorney who specializes in estate planning to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are carried out and that their assets are distributed according to their wishes.

End-of-life decisions can be difficult to discuss, but it’s important to have these conversations with your loved one to ensure that their wishes are respected. This can include discussing their preferences for medical treatment, including life-sustaining treatment, and creating advance directives, such as a living will or healthcare power of attorney.

It’s important to involve your loved one in these discussions and decisions as much as possible, while also respecting their wishes and autonomy. These conversations can be emotional and difficult, but they can also provide peace of mind for both you and your loved one.

In conclusion, legal issues can be complex and overwhelming for family caregivers. It’s important to seek out the advice of an attorney who specializes in elder law or estate planning to ensure that you are following the correct procedures and that your loved one’s wishes are respected. Having these difficult conversations and making these decisions can be emotional, but they can also provide peace of mind for you and your loved one.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common challenges faced by family caregivers?

As a family caregiver, you may face a variety of challenges. Some of the most common challenges include managing your time, dealing with stress and anxiety, navigating complex medical issues, and finding support. It can be overwhelming to juggle caregiving responsibilities with other aspects of your life, such as work and personal relationships.

What is the biggest challenge for caregivers?

The biggest challenge for caregivers can vary depending on the situation. However, many caregivers report that the emotional toll of caregiving is the most difficult aspect. Watching a loved one struggle with illness or disability can be heartbreaking, and it can be challenging to balance your own needs with those of the person you are caring for.

What are the most common stressors for caregivers?

Caregiving can be a stressful experience, and there are many factors that can contribute to this stress. Some of the most common stressors include financial strain, lack of support or resources, feeling overwhelmed or isolated, and dealing with difficult behaviors or personality changes in the person you are caring for.

What kinds of problems can affect the family or significant others of caregivers?

Caregiving can have a ripple effect on the entire family or support system. Family members may experience strain in their own relationships, struggle with feelings of guilt or resentment, or face financial or logistical challenges related to caregiving responsibilities.

What are some strengths and weaknesses of caregivers?

Caregivers often demonstrate a wide range of strengths, including compassion, patience, and resourcefulness. However, caregiving can also highlight weaknesses or areas where additional support may be needed. For example, caregivers may struggle with setting boundaries, managing stress, or advocating effectively for their loved one’s needs.

What caregiving tasks do caregivers find uncomfortable?

There are many caregiving tasks that can feel uncomfortable or challenging for caregivers. These can include tasks related to personal care, such as bathing or toileting, as well as tasks related to managing medical needs, such as administering medications or managing complex treatment plans. It’s important to communicate openly with your loved one and healthcare providers about any tasks that feel uncomfortable or overwhelming and to seek support when needed.

When it is time for guidance, moving forward, plans of action, and support…

Email me and let’s see if I am the one to help you.

Forward this Newsletter to those that may benefit from this information.

Options for Caregivers Not Eligible for Family Medical Leave Act

Sometimes work needs more of your time and sometimes family needs more of your time.

May 31, 2023

If you are not eligible for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and have to take time off to care for a loved one, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of your options. While FMLA provides eligible employees job protection and unpaid leave, not everyone meets the criteria. However, you can still take some steps to ensure you are not unfairly penalized for taking time off to care for a loved one.

First, check if your employer offers any other leave options, such as paid time off, sick leave, or personal leave. Some employers may also have policies in place that allow for flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or reduced hours. If these options are available, discuss them with your supervisor and HR department to see if they can accommodate your needs.

Even if the answer is, “no,” you may have brought something to their attention. When enough people bring these types of issues to the forefront, things will have to be done or they will be losing good employees. Let’s be honest, when it hits the higher-ups, things seem to get taken more seriously.

If your employer does not offer any leave options or flexible work arrangements, you may be able to use the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FMLI) program, which is available in some states. FMLI provides paid leave to eligible employees who need to take time off to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new child. Check with your state’s labor department or HR department to see if you are eligible for FMLI (Family and Medical Leave Insurance).

Tennessee has a bill started that allows this type of insurance. Unfortunately, it takes time and people to push for the bill.

Understanding the Family Medical Leave Act

If you are not eligible for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and have to take time off to care for a loved one, it can be challenging to navigate the legal requirements and benefits of the law. Here is what you need to know about FMLA:

What is FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for specific family and medical reasons. FMLA applies to all public agencies, public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. The law allows employees to take leave for various reasons, including the birth and care of a newborn child, the adoption or foster care placement of a child, caring for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition, and the employee’s own serious health condition that makes them unable to work.

Who is eligible for FMLA?

To be eligible for FMLA, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You have worked for your employer for at least 12 months.
  • You have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months leading up to the FMLA leave of absence.
  • You work at a location with at least 50 employees or there must be at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your worksite.

What are the benefits of FMLA?

The benefits of FMLA include:

  • Job protection: FMLA requires that your employer maintains your job or an equivalent position with the same pay, benefits, and working conditions when you return from leave.
  • Health insurance: During your FMLA leave, your employer must maintain your health insurance benefits as if you were working.
  • Leave duration: FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year.

It is important to note that FMLA only provides unpaid leave. However, some employers may offer paid leave or other benefits, so it is essential to check your employer’s policies and benefits.

Alternative Options for Time Off

Paid Time Off

If you are not eligible for FMLA, but your employer provides paid time off, you can use this benefit to take time off to care for a loved one. Check with your employer to see if you have any paid time off available and if it can be used for caregiving purposes.

Sick Leave

If you or your loved one is sick, you may be able to use sick leave to take time off from work. Some employers offer paid sick leave as a benefit, while others may require you to use your vacation or personal time off. Check with your employer to see if you have any sick leave available and if it can be used for caregiving purposes.

Vacation Time

If you have vacation time available, you can use it to take time off to care for a loved one. Check with your employer to see if you have any vacation time available and if it can be used for caregiving purposes.

Personal Days

Some employers offer personal days as a benefit. Personal days can be used for any reason, including caregiving. Check with your employer to see if you have any personal days available and if they can be used for caregiving purposes.

Unpaid Time Off

If none of the above options are available to you, you can consider taking unpaid time off from work to care for a loved one. While this may be a difficult decision to make, it may be necessary to ensure that your loved one receives the care they need. It’s important to note that some states and cities have their own laws regarding paid leave for caregiving purposes. Check with your state or city’s labor department to see if you are eligible for any additional benefits.

Other Resources for Caregivers

Employee Assistance Programs

If you are not eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act, you may want to check if your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs provide confidential counseling, support, and resources to employees and their families. Some EAPs may even offer referrals to local caregiver support groups and community resources. Contact your HR department to find out if your employer offers an EAP.

Caregiver Support Groups

Caregiver support groups can provide emotional support, practical advice, and a sense of community. These groups can be found online or in-person and may be organized by disease or condition, age group, or location. Some support groups may also offer educational resources and guest speakers. Check with local hospitals, senior centers, and community organizations to find caregiver support groups in your area.

Community Resources

There are many community resources available to caregivers, such as meal delivery services, transportation assistance, and home modification programs. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging or Aging and Disability Resource Center to learn more about the services available in your community. Check online or use the Senior Services Directory for your area. 

Respite Care

Taking care of a loved one can be a full-time job, and taking breaks is important to avoid burnout. Respite care provides temporary relief for caregivers by allowing them to take time off while their loved one receives care from a professional or volunteer. Respite care can be provided in the home, at a day program, or in a residential facility. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging or Aging and Disability Resource Center to learn more about respite care options in your area.


If you are not eligible for the Family Medical Leave Act and need to take time off to care for a loved one, options are still available. It may require some creativity and flexibility, but you can make it work with the right resources and support.

First, consider talking to your employer about your situation. While they may not be required to offer you leave under FMLA, they may be willing to work with you to find a solution. This could include allowing you to take unpaid time off, working from home, or adjusting your schedule to accommodate your caregiving responsibilities.

Another option is to look into state and local leave laws. Some states have their own family leave laws that provide job protection and other benefits to employees who need time off to care for a loved one. You can check with your state’s labor department or an employment lawyer to see if you qualify for any of these programs.

Finally, you may want to consider using your sick leave or vacation time to care for your loved one. While this may not be ideal, it can provide you with the time you need to care for your loved one without jeopardizing your job or income.

Remember, caring for a loved one is an important responsibility, and you should not have to choose between your job and your family. By exploring your options and seeking out support, you can find a way to balance both.

Could it be an adverse reaction to a medication?

It is springtime, and you are excited to be outside and doing your thing. Whether it is cleaning up, planting, prepping, or mulching. It is great to be outside, even if you are just enjoying the weather. Time to go inside, get cleaned up, and ready for dinner. All of a sudden, you start itching and you notice a rash on your forearm. Do you think about an adverse drug reaction? Do you think about a drug reaction? 

March 1, 2023

You assume that it must be poison ivy or some other weed irritation. Over the next couple of days, the itching is still making you crazy and you are beginning to feel miserable and aggravated. You begin taking over-the-counter Benadryl or some other antihistamine. Two weeks later, it is better, but it is still there.

What is the cause? Yes, it could be poison ivy mixed up in the mulch you spread. Yes, it could be some other weed or, who knows what? It could also be one or more of your medications. Most of us don’t relate itching and redness to a drug reaction. Especially, if we have been taking our meds for a few months. 

Adverse drug reactions are not side effects. An adverse drug reaction is always negative and may cause harm to you. A side effect is a secondary effect of a medication, which could be harmful, beneficial, or neutral. Usual side effects are where you see a lot of off-label use of medications.

A drug allergy is a serious matter. Technically, it is an adverse drug reaction. In a drug allergy, your body recognizes “it” as a foreign and dangerous substance. The body then activates the immune system to fight it off. You may see rashes, hives, itching, wheezing or other breathing problems, and inflammation. In severe cases, you may see anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening. True allergic reactions happen in about 10% of adverse reactions.

The time frame is different for a drug allergy and an adverse reaction (usually). In a drug allergy situation, the immune system evens occur within minutes to a few hours after exposure. Rarely, does it occur after 24 hours of exposure.

An adverse drug reaction can occur anytime after exposure to the medication. Where it gets confusing or better yet, forget about it when it happens weeks or months after you begin taking the medication. Some adverse drug reactions can be due to the drug itself or an interaction with another drug.

Symptoms of an adverse drug reaction vary by medication, but common ones include:

·       Digestive system bleeding

·       Heartburn

·       Fatigue

·       Sleepiness

·       Nausea/Diarrhea

·       Lightheadedness

·       Dizziness

·       Constipation

·       Skin rashes

Adverse drug reactions aren’t caught a lot of times. Most of the time the physician sees the complaints as “another problem.” Guess what you get? Yep, another prescription. It takes time and effort to figure out what is going on and what may be causing the problem. This is where you can use someone, like me to help figure things out.

We didn’t discuss intolerance, but it is a possibility too. You cannot tolerate a certain medication or the side effects that may occur. Usually, this has to do with metabolism and your body’s ability to use the medication.

Drugs that most commonly cause Adverse Drug Events that lead to a hospital visit:

·       Antibiotics

·       Anticoagulants (blood thinners)

·       Insulin

·       Opioid pain meds

·       Benzodiazepines

·       Renin-angiotensin drugs (blood pressure meds) Ex. ACE Inhibitors, ARB’s (Angiotensin Receptor Blockers, ARA’s (Aldosterone-receptor antagonists)

·       Lipid modifying agents

·       Urological medications (ex. Urinary incontinence meds)

Drug reactions to medications happen more than we realize. Strange symptoms may occur such as unexplained drowsiness may be a symptom. The dosage prescribed may be too much for you. Remember, allergic reactions occur fairly quickly after the medication has been administered. Anaphylaxis reactions may occur immediately or within half an hour of administration. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction. You may see these terms, adverse drug reaction, drug reactions, adverse reaction, allergic reaction, or adverse event and they are almost always talking about an unintended adverse drug reaction. Anyone taking a drug can have reactions to medicines even if they have taken the drug before and had no problems. 

You know your body and how it feels. Don’t dismiss things that are happening for more than three or four days. You may not know what it is, but you know that you are “not right.” Yes, it could be the side effects of a drug or it could be a possible adverse drug reaction. Your response to a drug may be different from another person on the same drug. You may know folks that feel this way and maybe they could benefit from my services. Let’s have a chat and see. I don’t know if I can help them or not until we talk and it is free.

Leave a message if I am unable to answer.

Pat 865-684-8771

Husbands, shower your wives…literally.

Tips on how to be more helpful when assisting your loved one to bathe or shower. Things that you need to think about when becoming a helper. Understanding your own feelings and beliefs in this personal issue. Understanding your loved one’s feelings, wants and beliefs in this most personal area.

February 8, 2023

You two have been through a lot. You are a team, usually. You are both independent and self-sufficient. Then, things change and you are no longer self-sufficient. You need help because of a stroke. You need help because of cancer. You need help because of Parkinson’s disease. You need help because of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. No matter the reason, your wife needs help with one of the most intimate parts of her life.

We don’t think about it much, but we each how our own ways of doing things. They are our own patterns and our own order of doing things. Most partners do not know their significant other’s daily routine. When you are the helper, you need to be aware that your loved one has their own way of doing things. They have their own schedule and order in which to do things.

Try this experiment. Each of you writes down exactly what you do from when you wake up to when you go to sleep that evening. I mean everything with the time of day noted. We won’t get into the getting dressed procedure. I know, some of you have this puzzled look on your face. We all have our preferred way of getting dressed and we have specific ways we do things. For example, I place my left arm first, whether it is my shirt or jacket. It is automatic for me; if I even try to do it with my right arm first, I can’t do it easily AND I am out of sorts mentally.

Now, the next day write down your partner’s daily routine with times noted. Do this from what you have observed or what you assume they do. You will probably get the big things right, but probably not all of the little things.

Find a time to go over the information. Make it a date night. Talk about it and see how close you are to know each other’s routine. What are the similarities? What are the differences? This is a big-picture type of exercise. We all have our own routines.

When you are the helper or caregiver, it is best for the caree (your loved one) to be as comfortable and safe as possible. In order for that to happen, you need to know their routine and their times. We automatically do things in our routine and we don’t realize that others have other routines. Doing their routine becomes doubly important when your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

Guess what? Female anatomy is different from male anatomy. We don’t automatically know to help the other person with bathing. We don’t automatically know how to wash and clean some private areas effectively. We don’t automatically know what to lotion and what to powder. Sometimes, we don’t know what we don’t know until we get in the big middle of it. That can be very stressful.

What follows are the supplies needed and the how-to tips to help you help your wife.


  • Grab bars installed properly and permanently. Place one above the water turn-on area, too.
  • Non-slip grips on bottom of tub
  • Portable heater to warm up the room
  • Shower seat or shower chair for tub
  • Tub rail grab bar
  • Hand-held shower head with 5–7-foot hose length
  • Remove trip hazard rugs

Shower Supplies

  • 4 Towels
  • 2 Washcloths
  • 2 Hand towels
  • Pouf for bodywash – may have a handle
  • Bar soap – gentle or sensitive skin type for washing privates and underarms
  • Bodywash -for washing other body areas
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner – apply on hair and immediately rinse off
  • Lotion
  • Facial moisturizer
  • Deodorant
  • Barrier cream or protectant – if needed
  • Powder or Talc – if needed
  • Gloves – nitrile seems to be the best
  • Pump supplies are easier to use
  • Cotton terry robe will help in the drying off stage, too.
  • Always have them sit on the toilet to pee first before getting into the tub. Warm water brings on the urge to pee and if it happens in the tub, no big deal move on.
  • Let the water run for 1 -2 minutes and check the temperature on the inside of your wrist before putting any water on them.
  • You may want to place a hand towel on the shower seat for warmth or comfort
  • Encourage them to wash everything that they can wash – promotes dignity and independence
  • Use a gait belt – get trained in how to use one first
  • As the helper, you need to remain calm and relaxed. It will be slower than you anticipate. If your approach is more of a loving gesture and a desire for them to feel good, it will go a lot smoother.
  • If you have the attitude of getting in, getting it done, and getting out…it is probably time to hire this job out.
  • Use the gloves – it helps to separate intimate touch from helping with a need
  • Use a hand towel over their lap to promote privacy and dignity while they are seated on the shower seat

Order of Washing -Be Gentle

  1. Wash the face and neck first and dry the face
  2. Have them place a washcloth over their eyes while you wash their hair and condition it. Ask them to tip their head back. Scalp massages feel really good.
  3. Dry the hair with a hand towel
  4. If they can, have them hold the shower handle
  5. If they can wash themselves, then you soap up the washcloth or pouf
  6. Wash their back in a circular motion all the way down to the buttocks
  7. Wash the arms and underarms next
  8. Wash the front torso and under the breasts – wash skin folds well, too
  9. Rinse them off really well
  10. Place a towel over the top half of the body and pat dry a little (helps keep them warm)
  11. Wash the legs and have them lift up one at a time or gently lift them up. If they can stand then have them stand.
  12. Wash the feet and in between the toes (while they are sitting)
  13. Tell them it is time to wash private parts. Offer them the option to wash their own private parts, even if you need to help some.
  14. Use a clean washcloth and clean the vulvar area – use a different clean area of the washcloth for each swipe
  15. Clean from clean to dirty = front (vaginal area) to back (anal area)
  16. Separate the labia with one hand and clean gently with a downward motion to the perineum area (area between vagina and anus)
  17. Separate buttocks and clean from bottom to top area
  18. Rinse very well
  19. Talking throughout the bathing process and telling them what you are doing or will be doing next seems to help everyone calm down
  20. Use a towel to pat dry and dry well
  21. Areas that need extra care to be dry – vulvar area, anal area, underboob area, all skin folds and in between toes
  22. Gently get them out of the tub. Dry them off again or place a terry cloth robe on them to help with that. They can either stand or sit on the commode (lid down and with a towel placed on the lit) while you lotion them, powder them, and put on deodorant. Dry and style the hair. ** Note, some want to dry and style their hair before applying lotion and anything else. Some brush their teeth either before getting into the shower or right after getting out and drying off. Ask what they want to do. **
  23. Apply barrier or skin protectants to areas needed (usually incontinent folks need this)
  24. Never lotion between toes (want to prevent fungal or other infections)
  25. Places to put powder or talc – underboobs (skin under the breasts, and torso area where they touch), skin folds (anywhere there is skin-on-skin contact that does not get a lot of air circulation)
  26. Do not put anything in or right around vagina (it is self-cleaning)
  27. Help them into their clean clothes
  28. They may need a nap after a bath, it is hard work

Getting clean makes all of us feel better. Change the sheets on the bed on a bath day. Some bathe every day and some bathe 2 or 3 times a week. That is fine. Find what works best for your loved one and you.

It is also fine if you hire a shower aide to come into your home to help with bathing your loved one. You will still have to do the daily cleansing needed which includes face, underarms, underboobs, skinfolds, feet, in between toes, vulva area and anal area. This is sometimes referred to as a sponge bath.

Products to Consider:

Soaps/Body Washes

CeraVe Body Wash for Dry Skin

Kiehl’s Grapefruit Bath & Shower Liquid Body Cleanser

Aveeno Restorative Skin Therapy Sulfate-Free Body Wash

Dial Clean + Gentle Body Wash, Aloe

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Fragrance-Free Hydrating Body Gel Cream

Olay Moisture Ribbons Plus

Dove Beauty Sensitive Skin Body Wash

Dove Body Wash for Dry Skin

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Wash AP+ Body & Face Wash


CeraVe Moisturizing Cream 

Cetaphil Restoring Lotion

Eucerin Daily Hydration Lotion

Vaseline® Intensive Care™ Advanced Repair

Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion Shea + Enriching Cocoa Butter

Gold Bond Healing Lotion

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm AP+ Intense Repair Moisturizing Body & Face Cream

NIVEA Essentially Enriched Body Lotion

Facial Moisturizers

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer UV SPF 30

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30

Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 35

Unscented Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Face Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid

Aveeno Calm and Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer Unscented

Cetaphil Gentle Clear Moisturizer

Neutrogena Oil-Free Daily Sensitive Skin Face Moisturizer

Eucerin Redness Relief Day Lotion Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

Best Body Lotions for Men

Nivea Men Maximum Hydration 3 in 1 Nourishing Lotion

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion

Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Body Lotion

Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion

Jack Black Cool Moisture Body Lotion

Dove Shea Butter Lotion

Men Facial Moisturizers

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Face Moisturizer

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizing Cream with Squalane

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Soothing Repair Moisturizer

Bulldog Mens Skincare and Grooming Original Face Moisturizer

Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF 20

Cetaphil Fragrance Free Daily Facial Moisturizer

Skin Care Products for Incontinence – Barriers and Protectants

BAZA Clear Skin Protectant Ointment

Sween 24 Superior Moisturizing Skin Protectant Cream

Calmoseptine Ointment

3M Cavilon Durable Barrier Cream 

Boudreaux’s Butt Paste Rash Cream, Original

Incontinence Cleansers

PeriFresh No-Rinse Perineal Cleanser

Aloe Vesta Skin Cleansing Foam

Theraworx Protect Advanced Hygiene & Barrier System


Feelings that a Well Spouse Has

Good relationships take work on the parts of both people involved under the best of circumstances.  What happens when one of the partners becomes seriously ill or will need help for more than six months? It may be from a stroke, cancer, traumatic brain injury, mental health/psychiatric disorders, spinal cord injuries, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc.

What happens when relationship challenges rear their ugly head? Will you address it? Will you ignore it? Will you stuff your feelings way down deep? Will you deal with it in a healthy way? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

January 25, 2023

Challenges arise when the changes come. There will be changes. No one can tell you when they will come or what they may be. Deal with them as they come. You can stuff your feelings, but eventually, they will come out. It won’t be in a good way, either. Acceptance is hard. Accepting things as they are, right now is hard. We have to give ourselves grace for every moment.

Learning about their chronic health condition will help you to understand what is happening. Yes, I know there is usually more than one. Accurate information about what is happening and what will come will help you be more prepared to handle situations.

The challenges that cause the most aggravation are:

  1. Toileting and incontinence issues
  2. Showering/Bathing
  3. Eating out
  4. Repetitive questions
  5. Relationship strain
  6. Fatigue
  7. Guilt

Learning healthy ways to cope will help in this journey. Yes, it will be a journey. You will have good times, bad times and okay times.

Things you can do to help yourself destress:

  1. Find things you can do together
  2. Accept that you are doing your best
  3. Breathe, just deep breathe
  4. Have someone you can talk to and vent to
  5. Go for a walk/run
  6. Play a sport
  7. Meet up with friends for lunch
  8. Have a massage
  9. Tell others what you need, no one is a mind reader
  10. Keep your own doctor appointments
  11. Eat for nutritional needs
  12. Sleep and rest
  13. Learn to become more resilient (yes, you can do that)

It is okay to feel your feelings. It is okay to talk about your feelings. It is even okay to not have an answer. It is not okay to act aggressively or become verbally or physically abusive. Physical abuse includes doing things “rougher” than is necessary.

Feeling sadness, anger and frustration are normal feelings. It is how you handle those feelings that make the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy or abusive relationship. Don’t bottle up your feelings, you will eventually explode.

Warning Signs that you Need Help:

  1. Your own health is in decline
  2. You find yourself anxious and irritable
  3. You are relying more on alcohol or other drugs
  4. You are becoming withdrawn
  5. Smoking or eating more
  6. Overreacting to minor nuisances
  7. You are feeling increasingly resentful
  8. You are constantly exhausted even when you are resting & sleeping
  9. You are beginning to feel helpless or hopeless
  10. Backaches, headaches, stomachaches or other physical problems

Caregiving doesn’t always have to be bad or feel like a chore. In fact, a lot of folks find themselves okay with being their spouses’ caregivers. Learn what you need to do for yourself so that you are a more resilient caregiver. Find three things that you will do each day for yourself.


What will you do to feel happier and more relaxed this coming year?

With the start of a new year, most of us think about getting organized and decluttering our spaces. We know that we would feel better, be happier and have the ability to do more. We want it. But, will we invest in the time it takes to get us there? Some will and some will not. Do you see the value of taking time and putting forth the effort to make your life easier, in all areas?

January 4, 2023

What you value, you will make time for. What you value, you will do. It is that simple. It doesn’t matter if you “would like to” or if you “need to,” or even if “I have to.” None of those things matter. You get to decide what you will do or will not do. It really is a decision that you make.

Nobody likes to do the grunt work. We would all rather do the “fun” stuff, but that is not the way things work. There is an upside. What you take care of now, you won’t have to fool with later and then you get to have more fun. You can get rid of the “I should’s” or the “I need to…” kinds of things and all of the stress that comes with that.

Organization is your friend. Getting organized is a process, it does take time, but it will be worth it in the long run. Think about it, no more searching for 20 minutes and sometimes hours on end. You know where it is and you can go and get it. Being able to put your hands on the information you need is awesome. Think of all the stress you don’t have to deal with because you have your stuff in order.

Organization helps your brain to rest. Your brain needs downtime. That is another article and we will get to that later. Remember, you only have about four hours of focused brain energy every day.

Organization will boost your health. By decreasing your stress, you have already helped your health. You will rest better, sleep better, have a better outlook on life. Organization helps you to control the things that you can control. There are so many things outside of our control, do what you can to manage the things you can.

Organization helps you be healthier. You make time for meal prep. You plan food for your meal times and snacks.

Organization will help you to be more productive. Yep, it’s true. Getting your ducks in the same pond will help you perform your duties better and more easily. They don’t have to be in a row, but they do need to be in the same pond.

Organization decreases overwhelm. How would you like to know who is doing what on each day? How would you like to know what you will or won’t be doing each day? How would you like to know what is coming up so you can make better plans for your days and weeks?

Organization allows for spontaneity and unexpected problems. You know what must be done and can see what needs to be moved to a later date.  Things are going to “come up.” And stuff will “hit the fan.” Being able to make adjustments on the fly is what you need and organization helps you to do that.

When you feel things are looming over you, you feel stressed and sometimes, that paralyzes you and then you are stuck. Feeling stuck sucks. It is hard to get moving when you feel stuck. If you are already in motion, then all you have to do is readjust or reorient and keep moving forward.

 Start with two areas in your life.

  • Your work area
  • Your “To do” list
  • Your email – read it, do it, delete it, save it in a file folder, and answer it when you read it ** Do email two or three times a day only. Example – beginning of the workday, after lunch, before going home
  • Meal prep – every Sunday (or whatever day works best for you)
  • Make time for friends and family
  • Dedicate 30 minutes – 1 hour to plan your week
  • Develop a chores list and when to do them
  • Schedule your workout days and times – walking, running, lifting, bicycling, yoga, etc.
  • Journalling for 10 – 20 minutes daily
  • Reading for 10 – 30 minutes daily
  • Social media scrolling and interacting for a maximum of X amt. of minutes or hours per day and set a cutoff time every evening.
  • Declutter your home
  • Declutter your desk
  • Work from a check-off list

Be consistent! You will get there.

Maybe, you will do better with big bucket areas:

  • Work
  • Home
  • Home life
  • Bills/Finances
  • Health
  • Leisure time/Hobbies/Interests
  • Relationships
  • Personal growth
  • Education/Expanding knowledge
  • Caregiving

What does organization look like?

  • Focus on what is important
  • Identify tasks – pick only 3 things at a time
  • Delegate what you can
  • Create To-do list
  • Use a planner to keep up with the agenda
  • Use labels/Dividers
  • Set goals – use SMART system         Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound
  • Track your progress – Are you achieving your goals in the allotted time? Would it be better to block out periods of time? Find what works best for you.
  • Limit your distractions – unnecessary phone calls, texts, emails, other people
  • Use a timer
  • Reprioritize, when necessary
  • Take a break – sometimes 5 minutes will do and sometimes you need 20 minutes
  • Deep breathe – to help you decrease your stress and to refocus
  • Be flexible – bend, don’t break
  • Do a brain dump – get it all out so you can be creative, solve problems and imagine. Write down everything you need to do, think of appointments you need to make, bills you need to pay, people you need to see, tasks you need to complete, presentations you need to prepare for and make, etc. Don’t censor yourself and don’t put them in order. The goal is to get it out.
  • Be realistic about what you can complete in a day
  • Leave space for the unexpected
  • Eat the frog – Do it first thing in the morning and get it over with. Tackle the most difficult task first.
  • Work for 25 minutes on one project with no interruptions or distractions, then take a break for 5 minutes (get up and walk around).  Keep doing this cycle until you are done or as long as you are productive.
  • Avoid re-clutter – read it, handle it, throw it away, put it away
  • Never leave trash in your car

Yes, you will mess up every now and then. It is okay, no beating yourself up. Start where you are and get back on track. The mess-ups will happen less and less. Getting more organized is to help you. It is another tool for decreasing stress and improving productivity. When you improve your productivity you are less tired both mentally and physically.


What skills training do you need, now that you are a family caregiver?

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?

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?

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

A few resources for you to check out:

Getting in and out of a car video by Teepa Snow

How to use a gait belt

Training Programs and Resources

Alzheimer’s Association

Family Caregiver Alliance Events & Classes

The Veteran’s Administration

The Caregiver Action Network

Generations Home Care

American Red Cross

Family Caregivers Online

Invest in yourself for your loved one.

Be safe,


It looks like aging, but what if it is malnutrition?

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 that 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. 

A couple of weeks later, you see her again and you notice a little more weight loss. The question to ask is, “Are you meaning 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.

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.

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:

  • Cancer
  • COPD
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Heart failure
  • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • AIDS
  • Digestive illnesses – Irritable bowel, Crohn’s, Ulcerative colitis

Common things that may decrease appetite that is usually self-limiting or can be more easily treated at home.

  • Cold/Flu
  • Dehydration – when we don’t get enough fluids we feel sick
  • Stress
  • GERD – acid reflux
  • Sadness
  • Grief

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.


Do you have “choice paralysis?”

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

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.

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.

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.

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.)

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.

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 your on “stinking thinking.” It could be your perspective and attitude that are the problems.

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.


Secrets that folks over 65 try to hide…

If they still have their partner, the partner will try to help and cover for them. When they are tag-teaming it is more difficult to figure out what is going on. It isn’t always intentional, but it can be intentional. To be fair, it may have happened slowly and they are taking care of each other the best way they know how to help. Observe to see if the spouse is finishing tasks for them, finishing sentences for them, or making excuses for some type of behavior.

November 9, 2022

No one likes to admit that they may need help. We are all very independent and quite stubborn. Most of us fear losing our mental faculties more than we fear losing physical capabilities. I understand that. Too often, people feel that they are “getting dementia” or “Alzheimer’s disease,” but that may not be the issue at all. Which is why it is important to go through a diagnostic workup. It could be fixable, such as better nutrition and hydration. It may even be a type of depression.

  1. Falls
  2. Pain
  3. Dizziness
  4. Financial difficulties
  5. Short on money
  6. Buying a lot of “stuff”
  7. Gambling
  8. Drinking more alcohol
  9. Prescription drug misuse or abuse
  10. Illegal medication misuse or abuse
  11. Binging on sweets
  12. Financial abuse – from a family member, a friend, or a caregiver
  13. Elder abuse or Neglect – from family, friends, neighbors, or caregivers
  14. Automobile accidents
  15. Driving Infractions or Getting a Ticket for something
  16. Hiding bruises – either from falls or abuse
  17. Eating a lot of take-out
  18. Changes in the way they dress
  19. Closing the doors to rooms – to keep junk hidden, the messiness, or the dirtiness
  20. Limiting driving to short trips and not far from home
  21. Poor personal hygiene – from not changing clothes to not bathing nor brushing teeth
  22. Unopened mail

A few behaviors that may mean they are trying to hide information:

  1. They discourage visitors. It may get to the point of them not letting anyone inside their home. It starts as, “We will meet you at the restaurant.” “The house is such a mess, let’s do it another time.” They may even say that they know “you are busy with your job.”
  2. Hiding mistakes – driving, spending, buying,
  3. They make a lot of excuses for their forgetfulness or their behaviors
  4. Changes in activity – you are looking for changes in their normal routines
  5. Speaking for their spouse

Why might they do some of these things? “Denial (De Nile) isn’t just a river in Egypt.

  1. Denial – If you don’t acknowledge it or talk about it, then it doesn’t exist and nothing is wrong.
  2. Pride – They can’t admit that they can’t do a lot of things necessary to live on their own. We all are an independent and prideful bunch.
  3. Embarrassment – maybe they become self-conscious or ashamed of what they can no longer do. Especially if it has to do with personal hygiene. Embarrassment rears its ugly head when they have some financial difficulties. They cannot afford food, medication, and getting repairs done to the house. It may or may not be any fault of their own.
  4. Fear – of losing their independence
  5. Depression – chronic health conditions seem to cause a rise in depression. Depression is not always the ‘woe is me” stuff.

Depression is not a normal part of aging. It may mimic dementia.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression in folks 65 years and older:

  1. Memory impairment
  2. Trouble retrieving some words
  3. Takes longer to process information and deliver an answer
  4. Depressed mood
  5. They no longer have pleasure or want to do the things they used to enjoy
  6. Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
  7. Sleeping too much or too little
  8. Feeling fatigued
  9. They experience feelings of worthlessness
  10. Having excessive or inappropriate feelings of guilt
  11. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  12. Feel confused
  13. Struggle to pay attention
  14. Be grumpy or irritable
  15. More aches and pains
  16. Move more slowly
  17. Crying spells
  18. Apathy –  lack of interest or concern

We always want to rule out the things that can be ruled out. What if it is a lack of nutrition, dehydration, loneliness, or isolation? Those are fixable and doable. If it is depression some medications can help. Shoot, even running has been shown to help mild to moderate depression. Once we know what it is, it really is much easier to handle.


What Caregivers Do Need from You

Caregivers need to hear that they are appreciated. They need practical help that almost anyone can help if they are willing to put forth some time and effort. You have said, “If there is anything you need, let me know.” Did you mean it? I am going to tell you what they need and want.

There are really helpful things you can do and say to caregivers or helpers. Last week we talked about what not to do and say. This week we move towards helpful things to do and say.

November 2, 2022

This time we are going to be talking about what you can say and do to help your friend or loved one who is a caregiver. Did you really mean it when you said, “Let me know what I can do to help you?” If you mean what you say and say what you mean then this article is for you. If you do not mean what you say then you can stop reading now. We are going to get into the practical and doable things.

What caregivers and helpers want and need to hear.

  1. Recognition and Understanding – Recognize that what they are doing matters and is helpful. Try putting yourself in their shoes, and be understanding when they are stressed and need to vent. Be understanding that they are exhausted and need a break from both thinking and doing. A short visit to shoot the breeze or watch a movie. Find a distraction when they cannot leave their caree (care receiver).
  2. Time to recharge – Offer to stay or sit with the care receiver for two to four hours so they can go and do whatever they want to do. Are you willing to do this once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month? What day and time? Be specific.
  3. Provide respite care – This could happen a couple of ways. Find a facility that allows for respite care and find a company that provides in-home care so the primary caregiver can get away. Cost is usually the main factor. How many friends, family or church members can donate money to provide this much-needed service? Imagine what a week away would mean to them.
  4. Take them out to eat and to a movie. If you can, pay for the in-home care or find someone to sit with the caree for three or four hours. Most of the time, it really is just being there in case the caree needs something. It is not like you would be asked to do anything medical.
  5. Emotional support – They may need to vent. They may need to talk about what is going on with their caree. They may need to talk about something else.
  6. Feel heard and understood – Acknowledge how hard this may be for them. Understand that they have bad days and feel anger, hate and rage.
  7. Send flowers
  8. Offer to be the communication person – keeps others updated or put info on a website like Caring Bridge
  9. Send a thinking of you text and state – no need to respond
  10. Coordinate the offers of help and support
  11. An email with a joke or two
  12. Remind them they are loved and cared about
  13. Say, “I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, every day and sending you good vibes.”
  14. Share “remember when” stories about your relationship
  15. Share funny stories that you have witnessed
  16. Laughter provides many great benefits – watch a funny video
  17. Say, “I love you.”
  18. Offer to sit with their mom or dad so they can go out with their spouse and kids.
  19. Ask, “How can I be a good sounding board for you?”

What caregivers would like you to do and how to effectively help them.

Yes, it would be great if the caregiver had a list of things to be done and errands to run, but most have not had the time to do one. Maybe you are the one to make the list and place it on the refrigerator so folks can sign-up.

  1. Never offer to do anything that you do not want to do. The look on your face and being told no is more than the caregiver can handle. They will shut down.
  2. Ask, “When is the best time to come for a visit and how can we help during the visit?”
  3. I am coming over on Saturday from 2 to 5 to stay (with your loved one) so you can take a break. Be specific.
  4. Give a Visa/MasterCard gift card of $50 – $100 and say, “Enjoy.”
  5. Pick up a meal from their favorite restaurant and deliver it.
  6. Make a meal and deliver it – use throw-away containers
  7. Make a few freezer meals and take them over.
  8. Set up a meal train to provide meals anywhere from 3 to 7 days a week (ask about likes/dislikes)
  9. Make phone calls and do research for them – if asked
  10. Donations to help cover lost work and medical expenses
  11. Offer to coordinate medical bills, EOB’s and medical claims. Only if you know how.
  12. Give a gift certificate to a spa/massage
  13. Mow the yard (either the caregiver’s yard or the care receiver’s yard or both)
  14. Do laundry – Pick it up and bring it back
  15. Help clean the house – vacuum, dust, sweep, mop, wash dishes, change the sheets, clean the shower/tub and toilet, wipe down surfaces – nobody expects you to deep clean
  16. Clean the gutter
  17. Take their car in for an oil change
  18. Run the errands – grocery shop, pick up Rx’s
  19. Sit with the care receiver so the caregiver can run errands
  20. Take the care receiver to the doctor’s appointment
  21. Deliver a care basket – good snacks, a book to read(nothing about caregiving allowed), favorite lotion and skin care things, gift cards, blanket, neck pillow, board game, cards, Mani-Pedi gift certificate, etc.
  22. Wash and vacuum the car
  23. Rake leaves
  24. Shovel snow
  25. Clean out the refrigerator
  26. Change the air filter
  27. Shred old documents
  28. Help clean out a closet or room
  29. Clean out the garage
  30. Replace light bulbs
  31. Walk the dog
  32. Clean out the litter box
  33. Take animals to the vet
  34. Take animals to the groomer
  35. Wash the outside windows
  36. Clean the oven

Think about the things that you do at your own home. The caregiver needs those things done either that their own home or the care receiver’s home. Find 2 or 3 things that you don’t mind doing and do them. Do the things that you don’t mind doing. Do not do things that you hate doing. For example, I don’t mind doing laundry, taking the cars in for service or cleaning, or running errands. I hate washing the outside window and cleaning the oven and I won’t do them. Other folks have different likes and dislikes. So, what I hate doing, someone else doesn’t mind doing.

Be specific about what you will do and when you will do it. Ask, if that is okay with them and if not, be flexible. Clear communication is important. Do not assume.

It is not a requirement to help out financially. If you can, that would be great but not a necessity. Your time, efforts, and help will mean more. So there is no misunderstanding, be upfront about what you can and cannot or will and will not do. It is perfectly fine to state that you can’t help with the financial expenses, but you can run errands and pick up things that have either been paid for or they can send you with some form of payment.

Most caregivers don’t assume you will pay for things, but they may simply forget to give you a way to pay. Just remind them that you need a check or card.


What Caregivers Do NOT Need from Others

You may mean well. You may even mean what you say, but you are hurting them rather than helping them. Will you be open to learning how to better support someone who is helping a loved one? It will require some effort and thinking on your part.

October 26, 2022

I have said some things in the wrong way. I really meant to help, to be supportive and available. What went on in my own mind, did not play out well for someone I was trying to help. I had to realize that I was looking at their situation through my own ways of caregiving and what I would have liked help with.

If you truly want to be a help to your friends or family members that are caregivers, you have to buck up and take the time to learn what they need and want help with. No, that does not mean rapid-fire questions. A lot of the time, they do not know what they need or want because they are in hell and too stressed out to think.

What do you do? How about you learn what they don’t need and don’t need to hear?

  1. Judgement – Don’t second guess them or their choices. You don’t know their family dynamics and you are not in their shoes.
  2. Horror stories – They don’t need or want to hear about all the messed up crap that happens in nursing homes or what happened to “so-and-so.” Just shut up, there is no good that can come from that.
  3. Don’t ask what they need – Granted, this is difficult as you may want to help, but you don’t know what to do. Give them the gift of your time. You know the things that need to be done at your own home. Mowing, cleaning the house, laundry, running errands, grocery shopping, and making dinner.
  4. Don’t make more work for them – Don’t just show up, don’t call and say. “the gang is coming over to visit you.” They will feel the need to clean up and get the place cleaned up.
  5. Don’t ignore them – Maybe they can’t attend functions much anymore, but you can keep including them. Update them and let them know that you are thinking of them.

Now we will move on to, “What NOT to say…”

  1. “If you ever need a break, call me.” – What the hell. They do need a break and they don’t have time to go take a shower, much less call you.
  2. “You have to take care of yourself, too.” – Do you really think that they don’t know that? You are adding more stress and guilt, so unless you are offering to sit with their caree (care receiver) so they can take care of themselves, shut up.
  3. “You look tired.” – They are tired.
  4. “I don’t know how you do it.” – They have no choice.
  5. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” – That statement is wrong on so many levels.
  6. “You will get your reward in heaven,” – You have just discouraged them more.
  7. Why do you keep going to visit them, they won’t remember it anyway.” – Their loved one still deserves love and care. They may not remember your name or who you are to them, but they sense and know that you are someone that loves them and cares for them.
  8. “You should put them in a home.” – You don’t get to decide what is best for them and their loved ones. Pretty much, anything that has a “should” or “would” in it ….keep it to yourself.
  9. “I could never do what you do.” – You don’t know what you will or won’t do until you are in your own situation. All relationships are different. All families are different.
  10. “I wish there was something I could do to help.” – Bullshit, you would do something if you wanted to. We will get into the things you can do and say next week.
  11. “You should get some help.” – Do you really think that they haven’t thought of that? Maybe, they can’t due to finances. Maybe, they have hired folks that do not show up.
  12. “How are you doing?” in front of the caree (care receiver) – Really? Do you want them to vent right in front of their loved one?
  13. “You need to find some time to relax.” – I am sure they would love to, but when and how?
  14. “Don’t feel guilty about …” – Feeling guilt is a part of caregiving.
  15. “Everything happens for a reason.” – No, it doesn’t. Stuff happens and we have to deal with it.
  16. “I know just how you feel.” – No you don’t. You may have had a caregiver type of experience, but it is not the exact same. Situations are not exactly the same, people are not exactly the same, and needs are not exactly the same.
  17. “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” – Do you think this hardship is making them stronger? That is foolish.
  18. “At least it’s not cancer.” – At least it’s not…statements cause more pain to the caregiver.
  19. “Just think positive thoughts.” – Way to go, you have just increased the feelings of guilt and pressure they put on themselves.
  20. “Your mom (dad) used to be a great person.” – Don’t talk about their loved one in the past tense. It is hard enough to watch a loved one decline, without being reminded of what has already been lost.

Think before you speak. Practice what you will say. Say it out loud. How does it sound? Is it uplifting or helpful? How might it be taken by someone who is stressed out and exhausted?

If you find yourself using any of the following, don’t do it. “I think,” “You should,” “I would,” “You could,”

Shut up. I get it, I want to help and fix things too, but some things are not meant to be fixed by you. That is a hard lesson, but a helpful lesson on being fully present and letting them vent. You just sit there and be the listener.

Next week we will talk about what to say and do to help a caregiver.