November is National Family Caregiver Month

Recognized by President Clinton when he signed the first proclamation in 1997, National Family Caregiver’s Month has been proclaimed by an American President annually ever since. Many states and dozens of local municipalities have also proclaimed November, NFC Month.

Day in and day out, more than 75 million family caregivers in this country fulfill a vital role in caring for elderly, aging parents.

Caring for the elderly requires many, sometimes thankless, hours of work. Family caregivers are the most familiar with their care recipients’ medicine, medical issues, and they understand best the dietary and exercise regimens needed. This care can often fall to one particular caregiver, often a son or daughter.

Family caregivers work each day to ensure a better quality of life for their family members. Through their selfless action, these caregivers provide their loved ones support and comfort as they age, combat illness, or suffer from disability.

National Family Caregivers Month allows us the opportunity to take pause to thank, support, educate and empower family caregivers.

Join us during the month of November in celebrating Family Caregivers Month!

 

The above article was written and published by Barbara McVicker of barbaramcvicker.com


The Unexpected Costs of Caring for an Aging Parent

According to data collected by the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are over 66 million family caregivers in the United States. That translates to nearly 40 percent of the U.S. adult population…a stunning statistic. This number includes people who are caring for the sick or disabled, but the majority of these caregivers are assisting an elderly family member.

Other than a spouse, the most common people to be tasked with caring for an elderly loved one are adult children. In fact, a study conducted by MetLife showed that 10 million adult children over age 50 were acting as a caregiver for their aging parent(s), a number that equals approximately a quarter of all Baby Boomers. Click the link above to learn more about the realities of caregiving for an aging parent and the unexpected costs that come with it.


Traveling With Your Aging Parents

With so many of us living with and caring for our parents, we are constantly searching for ways to incorporate that care into our daily lives…and our vacations.

Remember back when our travel plans required that we consider feedings, strollers, diaper changing, and playgrounds? Now, we are considering walkers, oxygen tanks, hydration, and benches for resting. It can be challenging to assure you have covered all your bases and to assure everyone will have a smooth, enjoying, and relaxing vacation. Click the link above to learn some tips that will help when traveling with your aging parents.


4 Tips for Talking to Parents About Assisted Living

As your parents age, there may come a time when they are not able to live as independently as before, whether because of a chronic illness, injury, or decline in general health. As an adult-child of an aging parent, it may fall upon you to begin the conversation about a move to a retirement community or even assisted living, depending on the degree of need. Having this conversation can be challenging and emotional, especially because the majority of aging Americans are more attracted to the idea of “aging in place” in their current home.

Here are four tips that will help you approach this fragile subject with empathy and openness that will put you and your loved one on the same page about this transition.

Keep it candid and casual: Don’t approach this conversation on the defense, expecting the worst; this attitude might inadvertently illicit the negative reactions you are fearing. Also, don’t act as if the decision has been made, and suspend judgments about how your parents might feel about their aging. Do approach the conversation with an appropriate amount of relaxation and even humor. Follow the lead of your parent, and let that guide the conversation in a calm and light manner.

Start early: Don’t wait until the last minute to bring up this discussion with your aging parent. Open the lines of communication early and often so that the topic of their long-term assisted care does not come off as a necessity for you, as if you want the responsibility of their care off your plate when their health has declined. Consider offering your thoughts about how you might plan for your own long-term care—show that this is about the process of organized planning and not about the necessity created by their old age.

Go on a tour together: Go with your parents to tour the retirement communities and/or assisted living facilities in your area. Taking a tour can show them what kind of environment they’ll be living in and can also remind an aging parent that the things that they love and value about living at home can be found in other settings. Visiting together will show your parents that this conversation isn’t just about moving them to assisted living; it’s about a transition for the entire family.

Review finances: Come to the conversation educated about the costs of assisted living and the resources that can be used to find senior living placement. Be sure to recognize that many of the things your loved one pays for today will be covered under the monthly fee at the retirement community. One reason that your parents may resist is the idea that assisted living will drain their savings or retirement fund. Know what the costs of your local facilities are and the different options for payment.

This conversation can take time, and many aging parents may resist at first. Do not pressure your parents, but also do not let their health decline without the proper care. It’s definitely a tricky line to straddle. So, stay empathetic, and put yourself into your parents’ shoes. Guide and don’t steer them to their decision to choose assisted living.

 

The above content is legally licensed for use by myLifeSite .


Caregiving Is A Marathon

Too often we underestimate the time obligation of caregiving. Adult children step up to be the primary hands-on caregiver having no idea that they may spend as much time caring for their parents as they spent raising their children.

We tend to think that we can burn the candle at both ends – that we can do it all. We think we can manage kids, career, spouse, house, and parents. If caregiving were a sprint, we could probably do it all. Unfortunately, it’s not. Caregiving is a marathon that you could easily spend 15 years focused on the health and well-being of your parents. Click the link above to learn more.


Caregiver Assistance: Addressing Caregiver Stress

Caring for an aging family member is a labor of love. But study after study also shows the emotional, physical, and even financial stress that the caregiver incurs as a result.

Research conducted by MetLife revealed that approximately 10 million adult children over the age of 50 (that’s roughly a quarter of all Baby Boomers!) have taken on the role of caregiver for their aging parents, helping with a variety of tasks–everything from running errands and cooking to bathing and using the toilet. It’s a lot to take on, especially for caregivers who may also be juggling a career and their own children, which is likely why caregivers over age 50 who work and provide care to a parent are more likely to have fair or poor health as compared to peers who do not provide elder care.

A few other noteworthy stats from the study:

  • Adult daughters are more likely to provide help with daily care, and sons are more likely to provide monetary assistance.
  • The total estimated aggregate lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits of these adult-child caregivers is nearly $3 trillion.
    • For women, the total individual amount of lost income (wages, Social Security benefits, pension) due to leaving the labor force early and/or reducing hours of work because of caregiving responsibilities averages $324,044. For men, it averages $283,716.*

Yet despite all of these physical and financial drawbacks, the adult-child-as-caregiver trend continues to grow rapidly in the United States. The MetLife study showed that the number of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to an aging parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years.

Caring for the caregiver

It seems that caring for an aging parent is here to stay. So what can caregivers do to help alleviate some of the stress associated with the gig? Click the link above to learn more. 


What to Look for in Memory Care Communities

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or is faced with another serious memory loss condition, there is a good chance they will require professional memory care services at some point. Finding a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or “life plan” community) with memory care will make life for the patient, loved ones, and caregivers more comfortable and enjoyable.

Click above to learn what to look for in a memory care community.



How to Love Your Loved One When They Have a Life Limiting Illness

By: Peg Carmany

When someone you love is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, it may be a time when the kaleidoscope of your life suddenly snaps into focus. Or it may be a time when the laser focus of your life becomes scattered. And very likely, there will be some of both. Of the research, I have done, and the practical tips I can share from my own experience, these are my favorite pieces of advice:

1. Remember there is no right answer on how you’re supposed to act, and you should not assume that you are supposed to know exactly what to do and exactly how to act. It’s OK to fall apart, but one word of caution about that: try not to let the person who is ill be your primary source of comfort when you do hit a wall.
2. When trying to follow Tip 1, remember that your established role with this loved one doesn’t necessarily switch at the moment of diagnosis. Perhaps only one of you has ever been good under stress? It’s okay to keep it that way. Both of you may take great comfort in continuing on with familiar patterns.
3. Make it a priority to show your love as your loved one is facing what may be overwhelming and scary. It’s not all roses and chocolates – be authentic, be honest, and be yourself. Express gratitude to them for how they have positively impacted your life – and share happy memories – and don’t be afraid to say goodbye, tenderly.
4. Respect their authority to make their own decisions, whether you like it or not. These are their choices, not yours.
5. Keep things as normal as possible. Continue watching your favorite tv shows together or listening to their favorite music, it can be a very meaningful thing.
6. Laugh when you can, and don’t be afraid to poke a little fun at the whole situation. A sense of humor will lighten any mood!
7. And perhaps most importantly: listen, and give advice only when asked. This one can be the most challenging. Often, we are great talkers, but not the best listeners.

Remember, your loved one needs your emotional support. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often family and friends who live nearby are more than willing to help with errands. And, if you need further support, Wesley Hospice can visit your home, the community you live in, and even hospitals.

We send our deepest condolences to the families who are faced with a loved one being diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. And, we hope that with these tips you’ll be able to better love your loved one during this time.


Preparing to Transition Parents into Assisted Living

There comes a time in the lives of some older adults when independent living is no longer an option. However, it can be difficult for a family to make the decision to move a loved one into a community, especially when the individual feels that he or she is getting along just fine.

Hiring an at home caregiver might be an option, however, when an individual has a condition that requires 24-hour monitoring or skilled nursing care, moving to a long-term care community might be the best option. While it can be tough, transitioning can be made easier with some planning. Consider these tips and suggestions for how to transition parents who require more than at home care.

Be sure you make visits before the care is necessary. If you anticipate your parent or loved one will need to move to an assisted living or long-term care community, consider visiting various locations. If your parent can visit with you, they can get a first-hand look and ask questions. Involving your parent allows them to have input into the process.  Not all communities are the same, so visiting can help you eliminate those that don’t appeal to you or your parent.

Unfortunately, residential care is not cheap. You can count on most, if not all, your loved one’s resources being used to cover the bill.  For these reasons, families cannot afford to wait until the last minute to learn about payment options. If an older adult owns a house or has money in bank accounts, they may be required by law to tap into those resources to pay for residential care. Contact your local senior services or county social services agency to learn about resources to help cover the costs. Older adults with limited resources may qualify for special Medicaid programs for long-term care.

Preparation can go a long way when transitioning your parents to a community. But, the benefits are endless. It will limit worry and stress, and ensure that everyone is on the same page during the transition.