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Finding Balance in Caregiving

Caregivers understand that they face demanding, yet rewarding circumstances when caring for a family member. For adult children, it can be a way of giving back to a parent. For a spouse, it may be the expression of a love that never ends. In addition to knowing that they are fulfilling the needs and preferences of their family member, caregivers often express the feeling that they live a more purposeful life and are at peace with themselves.

The most successful caregivers are blessed with strength, endurance, compassion, patience and unselfishness. Not everyone is naturally endowed with these virtues, so we suggest making an honest assessment about your caregiving attributes and be realistic about the needs of your family member. Caregivers who understand their strengths and shortcomings can learn to find a balance between their role as a caregiver and their personal needs.

Caregivers need to embrace the notion that successfully caring for another also requires caring for themselves.

Rarely, can a single person fulfill all of the responsibilities needed by one who is suffering from a disease or disability. It usually takes a team of health care professionals, family members, care providers and support services. Caregivers can better manage such a demanding job by using the resources of others. Studies show that taking periodic breaks from the caregiving role (known as respite,) participating in support groups and/or counseling help caregivers remain successful, with less stress and greater satisfaction.

This may seem obvious, but in reality caregivers are more likely to get wrapped up in the role of caregiving to the extent they neglect their own health. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, depression, coronary heart disease, hypertension, poor immune function, slower wound healing and increased risk of mortality are faced my many caregivers, especially women.

If you are a caregiver, how can you find balance, take care of yourself while providing the care that your family member needs? While the answer is simple, it may not be so simple to do. It is the act of letting go and acknowledging that others can help you from time to time with caregiving.

Options range from creating an informal support network of relatives, friends and neighbors to using organizations devoted to helping caregivers. Although you may not have received offers from relatives, friends and neighbors to help with caregiving, it doesn’t mean they are unwilling to lend a hand. They simply may not know how to offer or what to do. You may be surprised at their quickness to agree to help with a specific task.

Remember to take care of yourself, it’s the first step in taking care of the one you love.

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Seniors Helping Seniors

Entering stage right, are Jean and Howie Harris of the “Jeannie and Howie Show.” A Brand New Day had the honor of spending some fun and enlightening time with this couple. Dave had the opportunity to meet with these two lovely people for an hour and found their passion, love of people and giving was infectious. Howie and Jeannie have been married for four years and want to give back to their community. Howie is a retired marriage and family therapist and taught at Santa Rosa Community College. They both have had experience with assisted living communities and hospice services with loved ones in their lives.

They are a well known and popular singing couple that performs for seniors all over Shasta County and in assisted living facilities. The couple continues to entertain with permanent bookings at various locations throughout Redding. They will be performing again at A Brand New Day in July.

Jeannie and Howie have both competed in the Senior Idol competition at the Cascade Theater in 2009 and 2011. Jeannie placed third in 2009 and earned first place in 2011 at age 84, singing “Cabaret.” Howie, who is 79, closed the 2011 show with the Beatles song “Hey Jude.” Jeannie and Howie have has a warm spot in their heart for the Senior Idol competition, which is no longer in production. Because of this and their love for the audience they are now performing in Redding as volunteers. It is their way of giving back.

Jeannie said, “The Senior Idol was a thrilling experience. To sing for an audience of over one thousand at the sold out shows gave us our five minutes of fame. The show will be missed.” She added with a smile, “Singing keeps me feeling young and living with a purpose. It is very gratifying to see smiling faces as the audience recognizes an old song they remember.” Howie and Jeannie both sang for A Brand New Day Mother’s Day celebration this year; the residents loved them. Their volunteerism was paid in smiles and applause which is their fulfilling reward.

Since their focus is giving back to the Redding community they sing for seniors, and engage the audience with songs of days gone by. If you would like to see a performance, you can watch their video on YouTube.com by typing in Jeannie Harris.

Jeannie believes, “We need to keep the seniors engaged in life and to experience music, which I understand is a form of therapy.” It is said that music stimulates more areas of the brain than any other stimulus. It can conjure up, memories of a first date, getting married, or a terrific vacation. Remembering the words to the songs of the good ole days is engages the part of the brain known as the hippocampus.

Howie and Jeannie continue to entertain seniors with oldies but goodies and country songs. The couple believes seniors don’t want to be in the way, or “bother anyone.” They have turned that statement around with their willingness and passion to perform. The couple sings and performs for parties, bbq dinners, and just about any other celebration involving seniors. To check their performance schedule, give them a call at 229-1300.

 

 

 

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The Health Benefits of Exercise for Seniors

A Brand New Day – Redding writes a Senior Living column for the Record Searchlight which can also be seen online at Redding.com. We talk about a wide variety of subjects with common thread about topics relevant to Seniors and their families. To follow is a compilation of posts about the benefits of exercise. We hope you will be inspired to get moving

It’s never too late to start an exercise program

Do you need another reason to start to exercise? Perhaps the latest findings will be just the incentive you need to get off the couch.

The American College of Cardiology held its annual scientific meeting in New Orleans, of all places. After all, New Orleans cuisine is not especially known to be heart healthy. Findings from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study in Dallas were presented at the scientific meeting last week. The study showed that “consistent lifelong exercise preserves heart muscle in the elderly to levels that match or even exceed that of healthy young sedentary people.” (click here for the entire story)

Seniors are living longer and healthier lives

Today’s seniors are living longer than ever. Decades ago, many seniors lived into their 60s or 70s. Today they are entering their 80s, 90s and beyond. This is largely due to advances in medical care, however, practicing healthy lifestyle choices also contributes to greater longevity. (click here for the entire story)

Seniors find health and friendship at the gym

Everybody knows that exercise is good for the body. It lowers your risk for disease, helps you look and feel better and stay active longer.

Exercise isn’t easy, and seniors may have more reservations about the benefits of exercise than other age groups. How do seniors find a way to stay fit and stay motivated? (click here for entire story)

We are on Facebook

If you would like to become a Facebook fan and connect to others who share your interests, please check us out on our Facebook page at ABrandNewDayRedding. Every Friday we have a PhotoTeaser, (click for the entire story)

A Brand New Day is a 26 bed Memory Care assisted living facility in Redding, CA focusing on Alzheimer’s and dementia, respite and hospice care. Our license number is 455001567. We invite you to contact us with any questions when you are concerned about the safety and care of a loved one at 530.223.1538. We are happy to be your Senior Care resource.

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Finding Balance in Caregiving

According to a 2009 study by the National Alliance of Caregivers and AARP on Caregiving in the US, there are at least 43.5 million caregivers age 18 and over, equivalent to 19% of all adults, who provide unpaid care to an adult family member or friend who is age 50 years or older. About two-thirds of these caregivers also work outside the home. Let’s call them “working caregivers” even though we acknowledge that all caregivers are working. Working caregivers face unique demands of trying to juggle between their job responsibilities, providing care for their elderly family member or friend, maintaining their own household responsibilities, and trying to take care of themselves. Not surprisingly, the study revealed these working caregivers are more likely to seek help in finding a balance between their outside job, the responsibilities of caregiving, and finding personal time to attend to their own needs and desires.

How can working caregivers accomplish so much in one day? Are they forced to cut corners and feel the negative consequences of such choices? Making deliberate choices where you can understand and manage the consequences can help you achieve satisfaction in all of your roles. It is much more demanding than reaching work-life balance. It becomes a three level balancing act between caregiving-working-supporting your personal life.

The first step is to assess the demands you face in your caregiving role. Once you quantify the tasks of caregiving you may be able to find ways to delegate some of the duties to other family members or friends. Don’t lose heart if other family members live far away and friends are not available. There are organizations in our local community such as Golden Umbrella and Mountain Caregiver Resource Center which provide an array of family caregiver support. Take pride in your abilities to enlist support rather than feel guilty that you can’t do it all by yourself.

While you are listing the tasks of caregiving, assign a weight for each task so that you can better understand its priority. High priority items such as medications, keeping appointments with the doctor, preparing nutritional meals and maintaining good hygiene can be systematized by good organization and record keeping. You will actually save time by keeping records and an appointment calendar in a convenient, accessible location. On the other hand, does it really matter if the carpet is not freshly vacuumed and the book shelf is dusty?  

Coping with the demands of the workplace require similar strategies. Assessing, prioritizing and organizing your job tasks are essential to any job. Cultures vary from one company to the next, and employees need to figure out how much they can share the details of their personal life with their boss. Some family friendly workplaces allow flexible schedules, such as starting later, leaving early or taking time off during the day to provide care. In other situations, employees may be discouraged from revealing too much for fear they will lose a promotion opportunity or land on the short list of candidates for lay-offs. Larger employers are likely to have an Employee Assistance Program which provides resources to help situations outside of the work place. Co-workers who have juggled caregiving and work roles may be able to help you with strategies that have worked for them.

Finally, don’t neglect yourself. Just as you have scheduled an appointment with the doctor, or a meeting at work, make a commitment to a time when you can do something that recharges your batteries. It may be just a few minutes in a day where you can catch up on emails from friends, relax with a good book or take a walk. Ask for help to get away for longer stretches of time to go to the movies, shopping or out to a restaurant. If you can afford it, hire a caregiver or use respite services of an assisted living facility to get away for a few days. Finding time to take care of yourself will not only feel good, it will help you better succeed in your caregiving and working roles.

dementiadvice is written by Mary Burger, owner of A Brand New Day, a full-spectrum memory care community located in Redding CA.

 

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