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Caregiver Tips

Sharing Our Experience

Our caregivers help their residents successfully deal with physical, mental, social and emotional challenges on a regular basis. At the same time, they also strive to help each senior to maintain their personal dignity.

On this page, our caregivers share some of their experiences with the hope of aiding family members who are caring for an elderly loved one.

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Note: These tips are for information purposes. When faced with health and safety issues, we strongly recommend that you seek the care and guidance of a licensed health professional.

Work The Mind

Tip # 1: Contributed By: Thonotosassa Medical Center

We do not take understanding or acceptance for granted when caring for the residents. We find it is important (and courteous) to ask for permission before serving and spoiling the seniors in our care. We also explain what we will be doing, and even ask residents to tell us how they prefer things be done. This offers the senior some independence and control, and builds confidence in what we are doing.

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"Girls" Like Getting Pretty

Tip # 2: Contributed By: Manager Debbie

We do not take understanding or acceptance for granted when caring for the residents. We find it is important (and courteous) to ask for permission before serving and spoiling the seniors in our care. We also explain what we will be doing, and even ask residents to tell us how they prefer things be done. This offers the senior some independence and control, and builds confidence in what we are doing.

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The Anatomy of a fall

Movies and television usually depict a slip and fall as comical and lighthearted. But for seniors, slips and falls are no laughing matter. Read on to learn about the anatomy of a fall and steps you can take to avoid the heartache, trouble, and cost. Every 18 seconds, an older adult has to go to the emergency room because of a fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Falls can be devastating for seniors, often causing injuries that take months to heal. These traumatic events can be devastating for the spouses and family of seniors as well, as they must shoulder the caregiving burden during recovery and rehabilitation.

The Cause

There are multiple reasons seniors slip and fall. The most common cause of a fall is the environment. A poorly-lit stairway, obstructive extension cords, or a hard-to-see coffee table are all risks around the house that can easily cause a fall. Other causes include problems with balance, a shuffling gait that causes you to trip over the edge of the carpet or bump into that pile of magazines you left on the floor. Vision problems, mental confusion, and bouts of dizziness from a reaction to medication can also cause falls.

What Results From a Fall?

Unfortunately, many seniors suffer from more than embarrassment when they take a fall. Between 20 and 30 percent of seniors who have fallen suffer severe injuries such as broken bones, head trauma, or other wounds, according to the CDC. Injuries can be more than severe: in 2009, about 20,400 older adults died from injuries associated with falling. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury, which can lead to fatalities. Falls can also lead to a fear of falling, which may cause seniors to curtail activities, making them weaker and thus more prone to falling.

How to Prevent Falls

The best way to avoid the serious problems associated with falls is to prevent falls in the first place. Exercising regularly is one of the best way to prevent falls. Exercises that improve balance, such as yoga and tai chi, are great ways to help prevent falls. It's also important to review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you don't have to worry about interactions between your medications that could make you dizzy or otherwise increase your fall risk. In that vein, it's equally important to regularly visit your doctor, to make sure your balance and eyesight don't put you at risk.

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Assisted Living: Are You Asking The Right Questions?

Knowledge is Power:

You're worried about your mom. She expresses anxiety about keeping up the house and everyday tasks like driving and cooking have also become too much for her to handle. You are wondering if she may need full-time care. You've found some assisted living facilities in your area, but now what? How do you know when you've found a place you can trust to take care of Mom properly? And how can you tell if she'll be happy there?

Bring this list of questions with you when you visit an assisted living facility to ensure a customized approach when it comes to facility care. The responses of the facility's representative will help you determine if the staff, care and environment are up to your standards, and help you decide if the facility is good enough to be a new home for Mom.

  • How far away is it?
    You'll want to visit Mom as often as you can, not to mention pick her up for holidays and family events. The closer the facility is to your home, the easier this will be. Also, how close is the facility to other relatives, doctors offices, friends, and shopping?

  • How much is the cost, and what does it cover?
    This is a question you can't afford not to ask. Read the fine print to look for hidden fees and services that aren't covered. Costs and payment options vary widely between assisted living facilities so don't be afraid to ask questions before you even see a contract.

  • What is the staff like? What kind of assistance do they offer to residents?
    Are the staff licensed and certified? Do they seem friendly and knowledgeable? Do they seem well-attended to? What is the ratio of staff to residents? Try asking the residents if the staff are responsive and how well do they like the staff–it's often the best way to predict your own loved one's experience.

  • Is the food good?
    To your mom, this will be one of the most important questions. Visit the dining room during a meal. Ask to see the menu for the week. Does the food look and smell appetizing? Are the portions not too big or too small? Ask the residents how well they like the food–it's something they'll be happy to chat about!

  • Are there adequate activities available?
    Do you see a list of activities posted? Are the residents engaged in crafts, games, or group discussions, or do they seem to just be sitting around? What kinds of activities are available for patients who are confined to their rooms?

  • What are the visiting hours?
    Do they accommodate your schedule and the schedules of your loved one's friends and relatives? What if schedules change? Generally, facilities that allow visiting hours seven days a week, for several hours of the day make for the happiest living situation.

  • What kinds of amenities are offered? Does the facility offer exercise classes and recreational classes? Is there a wellness office? (Your loved one might not need skilled services now, but that could change in the future.)
    Make sure to find out if these amenities are covered, and if not, what the additional fees are.

  • What is the facility's history of violations?
    Mistakes and complaints happen. But you want to know that the facility you're entrusting with your family member hasn't made any egregious errors. Ask to see the facility's licensing and violations records.

  • Who would you be communicating with? How does the facility handle questions and concerns? Would you be speaking to a front-desk employee, or would you be able to directly contact the facility's director?
    If the facility views communication as a priority, your experience will be all the smoother for it.

  • Would you live there? Before you commit to a facility, ask yourself this all-important question. Would you feel happy and adequately cared for in the facility?
    If not, it's probably not the right choice for your loved one.

These questions will help you gauge if a facility is right for you and your loved one. If your family has elected that facility care is a must, keep in mind that a private aide can also provide personalized and dedicated attention to your loved one's needs within a facility.

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Recognize that depression is an illness.
Care giver tip

Recognize that depression is an illness. Just like the flu, depression is an illness that can leave a person physically exhausted and unable to cope with everyday life. Don't belittle your loved one's depression by telling him to "snap out of it." Instead, think of the little things that make you feel better when you're sick. Offering to bring over a warm meal won't cure him, but it will make him feel cared for.

Keep in touch. People who are depressed often become isolated because they don't want to be a bother to their friends and family. So make it your job to stay in contact. Meet your loved one for a walk, a round of golf, or anything he finds enjoyable. Realize that you might have to work extra hard to engage him–but the support he'll feel is worth it.

Talk it out. Your father is depressed, and you think part of it may be because he can no longer drive. Recognize the significance of the emotions behind his feelings. Does he feel a loss of independence, or that he's a burden? Ask him how he feels, and don't downplay his response. Having someone sit and listen will help him feel comforted and supported.

Focus on small goals. Getting anything done–even everyday things like errands–can feel insurmountable to a depressed person. You may feel a temptation to do things for your loved one, but try to resist–your good intentions just make make him feel more incapable. Instead, help by breaking tasks into small steps. Does he need to clean the house? Suggest your loved one start by unloading the dishwasher. Encouraging your loved one to accomplish small goals will help him feel a little more empowered.

Communicate with your loved one's physician. Has your loved one lost weight without seeming to notice? Signals like this are valuable information for the physician who is treating your loved one. If you notice things you think the doctor might want to know, pick up the phone and call him or her, or ask your loved one if you can tag along to his next appointment.

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