If you have an elderly parent still living on their own, when is the right time to broach the subject of in-home support? Even if you offer your support where you can, this a lot of responsibility on your shoulders trying to juggle your own family life with the needs of an elderly parent.
The reality is that as your parent(s) age, their health and cognitive abilities are most likely to decline with time, putting increased pressure on you and your siblings to offer support. This is where it may be time to think about live-in caregiving so that your parent(s) receive the care and undivided attention they deserve.
It’s simply not enough to just be alive and exist. Our elderly loved ones deserve a quality of life that’s worth living for too, and this is where a live-in caregiver can make all the difference. Ultimately, having a positive view on life can also boost energy and appetite, reduce stress and delay cognitive decline in seniors
If a parent(s) reaches a point where everyday tasks, activities and personal care become cumbersome or compromised, live-in caregiver support becomes crucial.
A live-in caregiver offers your loved ones four important areas of support:
- Daily living essentials
- Reassurance and wellbeing
- Independent living at home
Ultimately, these four areas of support make for a better quality of life for your parent(s) as they can focus on other areas of their life that bring them purpose and joy.
What does your elderly loved one gain?
- Plenty of free time to enjoy their hobbies, social activities and much needed rest
- Lowers levels of stress with regards to tasks and errands which need to be completed
- Reduces their risk of injury and falls associated with physical chores and activities at home
- Boosts feelings of independence, self-esteem and dignity by living in a clean, organized home and a clean, put-together appearance.
Aside from this, a live-in caregiver is also qualified to offer medical support should it be required. Many live-in caregivers double as live-in nurses who can administer medications, medication monitoring and provide physical therapy.
Making the decision to invite a live-in caregiver into your own life and that of your parent(s) is not to be taken lightly. There is much to consider, but ultimately the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to quality of life for your loved one – and this is what matters most!
If you happen to be a full-time caregiver for a close family member – be it a parent, grandparent, sibling or spouse, you’ll understand what a commitment it really is. Many full-time caregivers liken it to holding down a second, full-time job, over and above the occupation you may already have and a number of other responsibilities.
It’s no wonder that full-time caregiver burnout is so common and is most certainly a reality to keep in mind if you are new to the caregiver community. Ensuring that your loved one receives the best care possible is a juggling act of time management, copious amounts of patience and the restructuring of your life on a daily basis. It also might be time to consider engaging a live in carer to give yourself some downtime.
While every situation is unique for each full-time caregiver, here are four simple ways you can strike a balance between caregiving and living a well-balanced life:
1. Prioritise personal time
The bottom line is that no full-time caregiver can expect to give their best, every day, if they are tired, distracted and burnt out. This is why you need to plan ahead and make some time for yourself in order to relax, unwind and enjoy the things that bring you pleasure- whether its exercise, baking, reading, cooking or even a few days of travel. To plan personal time, do some research on respite care options in your area, where a professional live in carer can take over for a few hours or days at a time to give you a break!
2. Define your role and stick to it
You may be part of a caregiving team, i.e. you and another sibling share caregiving duties, you already have a live in carer for certain hours each day, or perhaps you handle all the caregiving on your own. Whatever the scenario, it’s vital that you set up boundaries between yourself and your loved one on what your responsibilities are. Make it clear where you draw the line on what you do for them on a daily basis as well as the hours you are available and unavailable. This helps to create a clearly defined separation between your role as a caregiver and a human being!
3. Prioritise your caregiving tasks
If you aren’t a ‘list person’ then it’s time to pick up the habit! Create a set of lists at the beginning of each new month and week and prioritise your tasks in descending order- from the most to the least important. Even if you feel you’re super organised, a priority list helps you to stay on-top of your tasks, avoiding moments of panic when you forget something important. Ultimately, this saves you time and unnecessary amounts of stress, where you can focus on your loved one’s needs as well as your own.
4. Make room for the unexpected
Life happens, and every so often an unexpected event will pop up, forcing your finely balanced world out of orbit. Remind yourself: it’s ok. This is why it’s important to give yourself a little leeway or buffer time between activities or daily tasks which need to be completed, in the case of the unexpected! At the end of the day, your loved one’s needs should come first, but not at the full expense of your own or the rest of your family! Prepare for the unexpected happenings of life.
Finally, it’s important to remind yourself that there’s no such thing as the ‘perfect caregiver’. Don’t allow yourself to become wracked with guilt by taking some time off or restructuring your priority list. Your wellbeing is just as important as your loved one’s!
With diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, communication is one of the first cognitive abilities to be affected. As the diseases progress, communication becomes exceedingly difficult for both you and your loved one to process.
Primary symptoms of dementia such as confusion, memory loss and agitation make it challenging to convey basic needs, i.e. hunger, pain, fatigue or the simple need for something. Along with this, the disease can affect mood, behaviour and cognitive filters. These communication mishaps are tricky to deal with and can often result in frustration, embarrassment, resentment and even incrimination.
As such, here’s how to deal with a few common scenarios:
1. Dealing with dementia accusation
It’s far more common than you think to deal with an accusation by those suffering from dementia. Cognitive misfire means they are left piecing together the mystery of a misplaced handbag (on their part), and a natural assumption is that it’s been stolen. This is where accusation comes in, which can be extremely hurtful and even incriminating in some scenarios.
If you or a live-in caregiver are accused of stealing something, it’s completely futile to try and prove them wrong. Instead, try and avoid confrontation of a false accusation and validate your loved one’s feelings of frustration – try and empathise with their situation. After this, offer up the idea that perhaps an item has been misplaced and you’d be happy to help them find it. Rather than refuting a dementia patient’s claims, acknowledge the situation and offer help to remedy it.
2. Dealing with the dementia insults
The reality of dementia is that a person’s impulse control is diminished as the disease progresses. This means that dementia patients are stripped of their ‘filter’ and are prone to throw around insults, rude comments, obscenities, swear words and sexual remarks. These can be aimed at you, caregivers, family members or even strangers.
When this happens, try and keep your calm through these outbursts. Making a big deal of a rude remark or insult can only add fuel to the fire and encourage further outbursts. Instead, try and acknowledge a loved one’s feelings or reaction and promptly remove them from the situation that is causing their outburst. Avoid reprimanding in this situation as many dementia patients will not fully understand their wrong-doing.
3. Dealing with dementia word relapse
As mentioned, dementia affects memory recall, and even the most basic words are easily forgotten on a day-to-day basis. This can be frustrating for both parties as you try and decipher exactly what a loved one needs in a timely manner.
When a loved one forgets a simple word, try and avoid asking what they mean or saying ‘what is it that you need?’. This can often only serve to frustrate them further. Instead, remain patient and ask them to describe as best they can what they’re looking for. Try not to ask too many questions at once as this can quickly become overwhelming. Ask one question at a time and be as specific as possible.
Relapse and changes in communication may be one of your biggest obstacles you face with your loved one along the progression of dementia. The key is to try and remain patient, understanding and empathetic to a disease they have no control over, wherever possible.
When it comes to laughter, this may be the last thing on a caregiver’s mind on a day-to-day basis. Let’s be honest – the combination of never-ending daily tasks, chores, errands, responsibilities and frustrations is more likely to bring on bouts of tears than it is laughter!
Nevertheless, experts believe that laughter is the best medicine for perking up both mental and physical health. But how is this so? Well, quite simply, bouts of laughter help to release stress and increase the body’s production of the ‘’happy hormone’’ known as .
The physiological benefits of the laughter on the human body and mind:
Many experts believe that laughter works as a complementary therapeutic medicine which can benefit both our physical and mental health in the following ways:
- Improved immune response: laughter is said to increase the release of certain hormones in the body, including antibodies which work to fend off infection and boost our immune response to disease.
- Improved blood flow: when you laugh the tissue lining inside blood vessels dilate and expand, which works to increase blood flow to our vital organs.
- Acts as a form of pain relief: according to studies, 10 minutes of laughter can provide up to two hours of pain relief due to the release of ‘’feel good’’ hormones.
- Lowers blood pressure: due to the fact that laughter helps to improve blood flow, this in turn, helps to lower blood pressure levels.
- Laughter acts as a form of physical exercise: yes, that’s right, according to research, 1 minute of laughter equates to 10 minutes of exercise on a rowing machine.
Even if you aren’t feeling overly happy or positive, the body cannot differentiate between fake laughter and real laughter. Ultimately, you reap the same physiological benefits from laughter.
According to the American School of Laughter Yoga, the following exercises have proven to lower stress levels:
- Gradient laughter: Take some time to yourself, whether it’s in your car or alone at home and fake a smile. Then begin to giggle and work up to full-blown laughter. Gradually increase the volume and tempo as you go.
- Hearty laughter: In this exercise, find a large open space, spread your arms wide out beside you, look up to the sky and laugh heartily from your belly.
- I don’t know why I am laughing: Find a mirror and look at yourself while you laugh, even if it’s fake laughter, while shrugging your shoulders. Try to convey the message to yourself that you have no idea why you’re laughing.
- Find your laughing centre: While you break out in laughter, probe your head with your index finger, as if looking for your "laughing centre’’. Imagine that each spot you probe triggers your laughter.
Sure, you may feel a little silly during any one of the above laughter exercises, but you might be surprised at what a difference it could make to your mood. The next time you are feeling down, demotivated or stressed, break into laughter, even if it’s fake, what have you got to lose?
Whether you’re looking to enlist the full-time services of a caregiver or you’re considering taking on the role yourself, there are a few essential qualities a caregiver should have.
Five of these top qualities include:
1. Being a good listener
Sure, this may sound totally cliché. But being a good listener is an essential part of caregiving responsibilities as it provides both practical assistance on a day-to-day basis but also allows you to offer true companionship and friendship. Being a good listener also allows you to remain engaged with those you’re caring for, ultimately boosting their mental activity, while forming a strong emotional bond with them. Overall, this strong emotional and mental bond helps to build trust between you and your care receiver
If you are caring for someone with severe mobility issues, communication is the lifeline between you and them. You function as their arms and legs and help to make their lives more manageable on a day-to-day basis. By being a good listener, this means you take a genuine interest in your care receiver’s life, making you a better caregiver overall.
2. Having the right qualifications
This goes without saying, but any caregiver worth their salt must have adequate qualifications to ensure they know how to do their job to the best of their abilities. This also assures care receivers and their families that they are in the best hands possible.
All caregivers in the United Kingdom are required to have a DBS check, a First Aid certification and a Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults accreditation. Particular qualifications in dementia care and moving and handling are also advantageous.
3. Being trustworthy
This is a huge part of any caregiver’s journey – being trusted by a senior who struggles with anxiety, depression, dementia or Alzheimer’s is paramount to a successful caregiving career.
In order to establish this trust, a caregiver needs to demonstrate that they are reliable, warm, caring and willing to form a strong social bond with their care receiver. It’s important for a caregiver to show that they are open and honest and will do their utmost best to ensure the safety and comfort of a care receiver at all times. Being responsible and respectful helps to demonstrate your trustworthiness as a caregiver.
4. Showing compassion
Being compassionate comes from having enough life experience and emotional intelligence to be able to deal with stressful, sad, frustrating and sensitive life situations with grace and patience. Showing compassion means respecting a person’s dignity, no matter how old or ill or frail they may be.
Finding the right caregiver that is 100% compatible with a care receiver’s physical, mental and emotional needs is extremely important. Ultimately, a caregiver becomes an integral part of their life and as such, needs to have the right skill set, emotional intelligence, experience and personality traits in order to be the best caregiver they can be.
Just remember, there is no such thing as the ‘perfect caregiver’ because there are no perfect humans in the world. But you can find the perfect caregiver for your loved one’s needs by looking for the right qualities and qualifications for the ultimate peace-of-mind.
Driving and dementia can be tricky. One day your loved one may seem ok to drive and then the next, the thought of them driving turns your blood cold.
The reality of growing older is that many seniors are faced with deteriorating mobility, making day-to-day life all the more challenging. Simple tasks such as bathing, eating, going to the toilet or even walking from room to room become a task and can make seniors feel very frustrated and isolated.
As we grow older, strength, agility, balance and energy levels tend to decrease, leading to mobility problems. Illness or frailty may even confine a senior to a wheelchair, their bed or the use of a mobility aid.
Naturally, seniors may cling to any last bit of independence possible before admitting they need help due to mobility issues. So if you or a loved one are struggling with everyday mobility, here’s why a live in carer can do wonders to simplify your life for you:
Mobility-assisted live in care
Live in care in the United Kingdom is still a relatively untapped resource due to the fact that many people perceive this service as unaffordable. Yet the reality is that the cost is comparable to placing a senior in a care facility. This means that live in care is a viable choice for many. Live in carers are also knowledgeable about the latest developments in good care practice when it comes to mobility, as well as benefits payments which could assist in keeping live in care costs down.
24/7 physical support
The most important aspect of live in care for those with mobility issues is having the physical support they need at all hours of the day. Live in care means that a senior care trained professional is available to you 24/7.
Basically, you get to live in the comfort and familiarity of your own home while your physical needs are supported as and when needed.
Some common, everyday tasks that a live in caregiver assists with include:
- Personal care, i.e. bathing, toilet assistance, changing of clothes
- Feeding, i.e. assisting seniors with major physical disabilities such as advanced Parkinson’s or osteoporosis
- Household tasks, i.e. grocery shopping, preparing meals, cleaning
- Pet care
- Personal errands, i.e. transport to and from doctor’s visits, meeting with friends etc.
- Night and evening care, i.e. monitoring wandering, toilet visits etc.
Ultimately, a live in carer offers as little or as much help as you need. Their number one priority is to ensure you are physically able to live a life of independence while keeping you safe in the place you love the most – your home.
If there were one prevailing emotion carried in the human spirit, it would be the necessity for freedom. Humans crave independence and the choice to freely make decisions about how they want to live their lives, no matter their age. So why should this freedom be denied to us as we grow older? Yes, our minds and bodies may not be as young and capable, but the will is still alive and thriving.
Granted, there are scenarios where your independence as a senior is limited due to illness, frailty or cognitive ability, but the option of choice should still be available. This is the beauty of live in care, where independence is made a daily priority yet live-in support is always available.
Here’s why live in care offers the best of both worlds:
1. You’re provided with the best care on your own terms
Accepting help can be a struggle as we age, most especially when it comes to personal care. Many seniors have their own capabilities and needs, and this is why live in care is so beneficial as it focuses on these individual needs, on your own terms.
Live in carers understand the importance of respecting boundaries and personal space. They offer you the chance to make your own decisions based on daily activities, the food you eat, sleep and wake times, bathing schedules, social outings and more. All of these aspects of care are tailored to your specific needs and what you can do independently.
2. Live in care fits into your routine
Unlike many residential care homes, live in carers understand the importance of scheduling daily tasks and appointments around your routine. Your day is not pre-planned for you. Instead, you are offered flexibility and choice, centred on your routine and what you want to do each day. If you’d rather visit a friend for breakfast or take an afternoon stroll, live in carers offer you that freedom.
3. Your safety and independence are both a priority
The best thing about live in care is having the peace-of-mind that you have your daily freedom, but are always in the safest hands possible. Rest-assured your live in carer will be there for you when you need them. Your carer will always have your best interests at heart – reminding you what’s good for you and what’s not. At times seniors may not want to hear this, but this is the job of a live in carer, and this too should be respected.
4. You have everyday access to your support network
With live in care you have the opportunity to spend more time with friends and family as your caregiver understands how vital this is for your social and mental wellbeing. Living at home allows you to see friends and family as they pop in and out for visits while enjoying the space and privacy you deserve.
Ultimately, live in carers are trained to make you a number one priority. Both your care needs and independence are equally important, making for the best quality of life possible.
A video game featuring a friendly dolphin may appeal to the likes of toddlers and teens more so than adults, but according to research, it’s making waves in the world of cognitive stimulation.
The interactive video game known as Bandit was recently researched for its ability to stimulate and maintain both cognitive and physical health in the elderly- most especially those prone to or suffering from neurodegenerative disorders.
Professor in Mental Health, Michelle Carlson, is the head researcher behind the study. She believes the video game can be used as a tool to exercise neural networks that control complex mobility and cognition in the brain.
The project and development of this interactive video game has been funded by the Johns Hopkins Royal Center for Translational Research. The video game is an adaption of the original, created by Kata Design studio, and was formulated to offer cognitive stimulation at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology.
A smiling dolphin holds centre stage in the game of Bandit, where players are tasked with controlling movements of the dolphin through increasingly challenging game levels. Players are challenged with assisting the mammal in catching fish, carrying out dolphin acrobatics, fending off predator sharks and more. The game is played using a remote control in one hand and using the arm movements of the other to control Bandit and his tasks. As such, players need to continually make physical and cognitive adjustments to carry Bandit through difficult challenges.
Bandit has become a popular video game and has been purposefully developed to sustain interest in the game, unlike many other interactive brain games on the market today.
Long-term Hopes for Bandit
While research has gone on to prove that the game strengthens independent functioning of the brain in real-world environments, its accessibility to seniors is yet to be determined.
The aim is to set up this interactive game as a tool for brain stimulation in retirement communities, public spaces and in homes in order to maintain healthy age-in-place environments.
Ultimately, the long-term hope for the game of Bandit is to prevent age-related cognitive decline, all while enhancing a senior’s ability to navigate and live in the ‘real world’. The goal of the game has been to provide an environment that is enriching in a physical, cognitive and social way.
Did you know that there is a spin-off of the disease Parkinson’s, commonly known as Parkinsonism? The reason it’s called a ‘spin-off Parkinson’s’ is because essentially it’s the same disease. However, Parkinsonism is usually combined with symptoms related to an additional cognitive condition.