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Caring for Caregivers

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How to Prevent Caregiver Burnout

(Family Features) While caring for an older family member – whether it be a spouse, parent or grandparent – can be a rewarding experience, it can also be a difficult and overwhelming task. This is especially true if your loved one lives with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia-related illnesses.

Whether it’s out of love or obligation, caring for a chronically ill or disabled family member (and potentially his or her financial and legal interests) can come at the expense of the caregiver’s quality of life. In addition to maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle outside of caregiving responsibilities, it is important for those caring for a loved one to learn ways to avoid health hazards and stay well-informed of any changes in their loved one’s condition. Add work and children to care for to the equation and it’s a formula that can lead to stress, exhaustion and even potential health issues.

The additional duties often required to provide care for a loved one can lead to physical or emotional fatigue, often referred to as “caregiver burnout.” If you’re caring for an older adult, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America recommends these tips to help manage stress before caregiving leads to burnout.

Know the signs of burnout. By the time many caregivers suspect signs of burnout, they’re likely already suffering symptoms related to their responsibilities. Being aware of some of the warning signs can help caregivers properly manage stress and protect themselves. Warning signs include:

  • Overwhelming fatigue or lack of energy
  • Experiencing sleep issues
  • Significant changes in eating habits or weight
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Neglecting personal physical and emotional needs
  • Becoming unusually impatient, irritable or argumentative
  • Having anxiety about the future or a feeling of hopelessness
  • Suffering from headaches, stomachaches or other physical ailments
  • Experiencing depression or mood swings
  • Having difficulty coping with everyday tasks
  • Lower resistance to illnesses

Educate yourself about the disease. It’s likely the loved one you care for has several health problems, takes multiple medications and sees multiple health care providers to manage his or her conditions. As a first step in learning more about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses, visit alzfdn.org or nia.nih.gov/alzheimers for information. Support groups, educational workshops, community resources and professionals can also help increase your understanding of the disease and what to expect so you can be a better-informed and prepared caregiver.

Be prepared for important decisions. Take care of financial, legal and long-term care planning issues early on to help reduce stress later. Try to involve the individual in decision-making if he or she is capable, and consider personal wishes regarding future care and end-of-life issues.

Build your care skills. Key skills for any caregiver include communication, understanding safety considerations and behaviors, and managing activities of daily living such as bathing, toileting and dressing. Some organizations and local hospitals may even offer classes specific to your loved one’s disease that can aid you in the process.

Develop empathy. Try to understand what it is like to be a person living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Put yourself in the affected person’s shoes while also recognizing your own losses. Manage your expectations of your loved one and remain patient.

Ask for help when you need it. Reach out to medical and mental health professionals as well as family and friends. They can assist you when things get tough. In addition, there are typically programs, agencies and organizations in your community that can help manage the challenges of caring for older parents, grandparents, spouses and other older adults.

Advocate for and connect with your loved one. Take an active role in the individual’s medical care. Get to know the care team, ask questions, express concerns and discuss treatment options. Also remember to connect on a personal level through kindness, humor and creativity, which are essential parts of caregiving and can help reduce stress.

Think positive. Focus on the capabilities and strengths that are still intact and enjoy your relationship with your loved one while you are still together. Look for ways to include him or her in your daily routines and gatherings to make as many memories as possible.

Find more caregiver resources and tips at alzfdn.org.

 

Tips for Managing Caregiver Stress

Stress can affect anyone and caregivers may find themselves faced with additional stressors. To help manage stress and avoid caregiver burnout, keep these tips from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America in mind:

  • Maintain a positive attitude
  • Be flexible and accept the circumstances
  • Be honest and open about your feelings
  • Take it one day at a time
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Incorporate stress management techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, as well as exercise into your daily routine
  • Drink plenty of water and eat a healthful diet full of fruits and vegetables
  • Set realistic goals and go slow

Getting Help with Caregiving

Everyone needs a break from time to time, even caregivers. Look into respite programs for a chance to care for yourself. Types of respite include:

Home Care

  • Home care is often initiated by a doctor’s order or hospital stay and administered by medical professionals who come into the home and help with personal care and housekeeping functions.
  • Medicare covers some home health services.

Adult Day Programs

  • Social-model programs offer stimulation, socialization and therapeutic activities in a community-based group setting and often include meals.
  • Medical-model programs (adult day health care programs), offer health-based services as well as social activities in a group setting.
  • Some programs include assistance with activities of daily living and transportation.
  • Adult day services charge per hour and may be covered under some long-term care insurance policies.
  • Medicaid covers some adult day health programs.

Facility-Based Respite

  • Provide a short stay for your loved one in a nursing home or another facility.
  • Facilities typically charge for each day your loved one is in their care.
  • Medicare or Medicaid may cover some costs of an inpatient facility.

Family and Friends

  • Identify responsible family members and friends who can lend a hand in providing supervision for your loved one and create a rotating care schedule, if possible.
  • Enlist the help of family members living in different states by assigning them tasks such as legal or financial paperwork.

 

Photos courtesy of Dreamstime (Couple walking)

 

 

August 8, 2018 |

Simple Ways to Embrace Snack Cravings

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(Family Features) While snacking can bring you joy, it can also leave you feeling guilty. There are, however, simple steps that can be taken to help fight this inner conflict and allow you to embrace snack time rather than trying to ignore your wants.

These tips from the snacking experts at Blue Diamond can help you choose flavorful snacks that satisfy your cravings.

Plan for the day ahead. No one knows your schedule better than you, so planning your snacks ahead of time can set you down the right path. Writing down your timeline for the day and choosing what you are having to eat can help. It can allow you to know how many snacks you need to pack and if it needs to be an on-the-go or sit-down food. Try packing your snacks the night before to cause less drama rushing around in the morning getting everything ready.

Focus on flavor. Keeping flavor-forward snacks, such as almonds, on-hand can help you feel satisfied and happy without that feeling of guilt you sometimes get immediately after snacking. Whether you’re yearning for something sweet or something spicier, an option like Blue Diamond Snack Almonds allows you to eat what you want without denying your cravings. With more than 20 flavors to discover – like Dark Chocolate and Sriracha – and 5 grams of protein per serving, you don’t need to sacrifice taste for a satisfying snack.

Mix and match. When planning your snacks, try a variety of flavor and texture combinations, think sweet and salty or creamy and crunchy, to see what fuels your body best. For example, homemade trail mix is one way to switch up what you are eating. It’s easy to throw in something soft and sweet like marshmallows or add salt and crunch with pretzels or nuts. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Keep a snack at your desk. If you don’t have time to pack different types of snacks each morning, try keeping a stash of your favorites at your desk. Look for options that are easy to store in a confined place, such as almonds, granola bars, crackers, popcorn or wafers.

Find more flavorful, guilt-free snacking solutions at BlueDiamond.com.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

August 1, 2018 |

5 Ways to Give Your Body a Boost Inside and Out

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(Family Features) Balancing work and life is no small proposition, and when things heat up, it can be easy to let your normal self-care habits slide. While a busy lifestyle may not allow for luxurious weekly trips to the spa to rejuvenate, you can still steal moments to promote the wellbeing of your mind and body.

Wake up with water. Staying properly hydrated is an important way to keep your body in top condition. Proper hydration can help keep all your body’s systems functioning like a well-lubricated machine. Some studies have even shown that starting the day with a cold glass of water can help jumpstart your metabolism and curb cravings. Carry water with you throughout the day so you can sip whenever the urge hits you and aim for at least 64 ounces a day.

Take care of your skin. Hydration is important for your skin. Bring the bliss of a spa experience into your shower with a body wash like Softsoap Hydra Bliss Hydrating Body Wash, which is crafted with rejuvenating scents like Coconut Water and Blueberry or Cucumber Water and Mint. These formulas help retain your skin’s natural moisture, which can leave your skin feeling soft and smooth. Follow up with a moisturizing lotion to leave skin silky and soft all day long.

Make drive time your zen time. Instead of using your morning commute to run through your to-do list and mentally prepare for your work day, give yourself permission to let those duties wait until you reach your desk. Instead, take a mental boost by listening to some of your favorite music or enjoying an audiobook.

Eat for energy. Food has one true purpose: fueling the body. At mealtime, put your wellbeing first and load up on foods that deliver nutrition your body needs. Look for proteins, a moderate amount of carbs and essentials like fiber that promote good digestion. Avoid feeling deprived by allowing yourself to enjoy occasional treats, but generally avoid unnecessary calories and sugary snacks.

Wash away your worries. After a rough day, there are few things like a warm shower or bath to help wash it all away. Allow soothing aromas to envelop your senses as you lather your skin for a relaxing clean. Experience the essence of serenity with an option like Softsoap Pure Zen Relaxing Body Wash. Choose from tranquil scents of Rosewater and Lotus Flower or Jasmine and Watermint for a relaxing sensory experience.

Explore more ways to take better care of your body inside and out at softsoap.com.

 

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

 

 

July 25, 2018 |

Create an Accessible Lifestyle

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Enhance independence with mobility in mind

(Family Features) If you’re like the majority of the population, mobility is something you take for granted. However, once you or a loved one encounters an illness or disability that results in dependence on a wheelchair, your perspective is likely to change dramatically.

Mobility is a major factor in a person’s independence, but when illness or injury hinders free movement, even a simple task like running to the store becomes a challenge. Fortunately, there are numerous options you can explore to improve mobility and accessibility if you or a loved one becomes reliant on a wheelchair or other assisted mobility.

Ramps in Place of Stairs

Safety is a primary concern for someone whose mobility is limited. Even minor falls can cause significant injuries, particularly for seniors whose bones tend to be more fragile. When a loved one begins experiencing trouble with the steps, a ramp is a good solution. In fact, ramps aren’t just for those who are reliant on a wheelchair or other motorized device like a scooter. They are also a good solution for someone who uses a cane or walker, or someone who experiences pain or difficulty maintaining balance on the stairs.

Accessible Vehicles and Parking

Getting out of the house is an important way to help someone whose mobility is compromised continue to feel connected to the larger world, and practically speaking, even if they’re not physically up to social engagements, chances are that doctor’s appointments will still be a necessity. However, parking limitations cause major challenges for wheelchair users.

Not only is getting in and out of the vehicle a chore, 74 percent of people have personally seen a handicap accessible parking space being improperly used, according to a survey by BraunAbility. As a leading manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vehicles and wheelchair lifts, its Save My Spot campaign works to educate the public about the meaning and importance of handicap accessible parking. In addition to understanding and educating others about the proper usage of handicap accessible parking, chair users may benefit from wheelchair accessible vehicles that provide maximum maneuverability, such as the BraunAbility Pacifica, which delivers the most interior cabin space and widest doorway and ramp for ease of entry and exit.

Hand Rails and Grab Bars

Hand rails add another measure of safety in the home. They can add stability and support on staircases, ramps and other walkways, but they’re also beneficial in areas like the bathroom. A rail or grab bar near the toilet can help steady someone raising or lowering to use the facilities. Similarly, rails in or adjacent to the shower can assist with safe transitions into and out of the stall. Remember to follow all manufacturer instructions for installing rails to ensure they provide adequate support and can bear the weight of the user.

Bathroom Modifications

Proper hygiene goes a long way toward promoting overall wellness and independence, but a person with limited mobility may struggle using the features of a standard bathroom. In addition to safety rails and grab bars, devices such as shower stools and raised toilet seats can provide needed support. Depending on your circumstances, it may be necessary to consider renovations to include a roll-in tub or seated shower and a vanity with a counter at an accessible height.

Wider Doors and Hallways

While it’s not always possible to widen doors and hallways, this is an important consideration for someone who is heavily reliant on a wheelchair or other motorized device. If the chair can’t clear hallways and maneuver around corners, a person’s access to the home is severely limited, sometimes to the point of needing to find new housing accommodations. When considering whether the doors and hallways will meet your needs, remember to take into account any accessories or equipment, such as an oxygen tank, that may affect the chair’s turn radius.

Find more ideas to promote independence and mobility at braunability.com/savemyspot.

5 Facts About Handicap-Accessible Parking

Handicap-accessible parking plays a critical role in giving chair users independence and mobility, making it important to understand the rules of the parking lot. To bring awareness to the challenges wheelchair users face, BraunAbility offers these reminders:

  1. The striped lines next to a handicap-accessible parking space indicate it is reserved for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. These spaces are wider than regular handicap accessible parking spaces, offering room for people to safely lower a ramp and enter and exit their vehicles.
  2. There is a difference between handicap accessible parking for cars and wheelchair-accessible vans. When the parking sign says, “Accessible Vans,” it is reserved for wheelchair-accessible vehicles only. Van accessible spaces are easily identified by a striped access aisle on the passenger side.
  3. Some people have hidden disabilities, and it may not be visibly apparent that they need a handicap-accessible spot. Not all people who require handicap parking access are reliant on wheelchairs. These spots are also intended for use by people with disabilities such as deafness or a recent injury.
  4. Businesses are required to meet a quota for handicap accessible spots. The number of handicap accessible parking spaces required depends on the total number of parking spaces in the lot, but at least one in every six handicap accessible spaces must be designated for a wheelchair accessible vehicle, according to the American Disabilities Act.
  5. Wheelchairs continue to increase in size, requiring more room to maneuver in and out of vehicles, and therefore need extra space in a parking spot for the wheelchair user to safely access a fully deployed ramp.

 

July 18, 2018 |

A Fit, Fun Summer

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Make smart fitness choices with post-workout recovery and hydration

(Family Features) During warm-weather months, fitness enthusiasts often take their exercise routines to the great outdoors. The spike in summer temperatures can make those tough workouts even more challenging.

Even after your workout is complete, your body does not stop – after a tough sweat session in the summer heat, you need to replenish what you lost to rebuild and refuel muscles. A tall glass of chocolate milk may not be the first thing you think to reach for after a long run, but recovering from each intense workout with the nutrients in low-fat chocolate milk allows you to get the most out of your fitness routine.

Before gearing up for your summer workout routine, make sure you are taking care of your body with these tips.


Be Mindful of High Temperatures
High temperatures don’t have to get in the way of your workout plan, but it’s important to consider the heat index and time of day when exercising. Temperatures typically peak during the middle of the day, so aim to work out in the morning or once the sun starts to set.

The body loses a lot of important nutrients through sweat. Learn your sweat rate by weighing yourself with minimal clothing before and after one hour of sweaty exercise. One pound of sweat loss equals 16 ounces of fluid loss. This can guide your fluid intake during your next workout.

Replenish What You Lose in Sweat

After putting in real work this summer, your body needs real recovery. Recovery after strenuous exercise can make a difference in how well you can perform during your next workout. For example, low-fat chocolate milk helps replenish fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat. In fact, drinking low-fat or fat-free milk after exercise could restore hydration better than other popular post-exercise beverages, including water or sports drinks, according to a study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” Plus, chocolate milk has a 3-to-1 carb-to-protein ratio scientifically shown to refuel and rebuild muscles quickly.


Shield Yourself from the Sun’s Rays

Just because your fitness routine includes strenuous laps in a pool or a run through shady trails doesn’t mean you are protected from the sun. Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to your face, neck, ears and body before exercising outdoors. If you’re going back out for another round of laps in the pool or around the track, reapply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before getting back to work.

While summer weather provides many opportunities for fresh air and fitness, it’s important to remember these tips and more for healthy hydration. Find more information at builtwithchocolatemilk.com.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

July 11, 2018 |

Treatment Options for Men with Enlarged Prostate

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(Family Features) If you’re a male over the age of 45, chances are you may be suffering from a condition more common than prostate cancer – benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). More commonly known as enlarged prostate, BPH can cause bothersome urinary symptoms that can worsen with age. In fact, nearly 40 million men in the United States are affected by enlarged prostate, according to research published in the “Journal of Urology.”

During Men’s Health Month, consider these steps from the experts at NeoTract, Inc., manufacturer of the UroLift System, for alleviating enlarged prostate symptoms:

Signs You Should See a Urologist

An enlarged prostate obstructs the bladder opening and can lead to a myriad of bothersome urinary symptoms. Symptoms of BPH include frequent urination, a weak or slow urine stream, incomplete bladder emptying, difficulty or delay in starting urination and a urine stream that stops and starts. It’s important to see a physician if any of these problems arise or persist.

Enlarged prostate can also cause loss of productivity and sleep and, in some cases, can lead to depression. According to a survey sponsored by NeoTract, one of the most common symptoms of BPH – interrupted sleep – is also impacting men’s partners. Sixty-four percent of women surveyed who were affected by their partners’ BPH symptoms said it impacts their sleep, too.

Traditional Treatment Options

Medication is often the first-line therapy for enlarged prostate, but relief can be inadequate and temporary. Some patients may suffer uncomfortable side effects from the medications, including dizziness, headaches and sexual dysfunction, which can prompt them to quit using the drugs.

“Medical and surgical treatments for BPH ranging from medications to surgery have been used for decades with varying degrees of success and side effects,” said Dr. David O. Sussman, DO, FACOS. “Medications can be helpful in relieving symptoms for some men, but patients must continue taking them long-term to maintain the effects.”

The classic alternative for patients who opt against medication is surgery that cuts, heats or removes prostate tissue to open the blocked urethra. Sussman said surgical options such as transurethral resection of the prostate or photovaporization of the prostate are usually effective. However, these options typically require general anesthesia, overnight hospitalization and post-operative catheterization. Surgery can also increase the risk of erectile dysfunction or loss of ejaculation.

An Alternative Treatment Method

Another option for men looking to relieve their BPH symptoms without undergoing major surgery or taking long-term BPH medications is the UroLift System treatment, a minimally invasive procedure that takes less than an hour and doesn’t require any cutting, heating or removal of prostate tissue.

A urologist uses the device to lift and move the enlarged prostate tissue out of the way so it no longer blocks the urethra (the passageway that urine flows through). Tiny implants are then used to hold the tissue in place, leaving an unobstructed pathway for urine to flow through normally.

Most common side effects are mild-to-moderate and include pain or burning with urination, blood in urine, pelvic pain, urgent need to urinate or the inability to control the urge. The procedure has a low catheter rate and most symptoms resolve within 2-4 weeks after the procedure.

To learn more, visit UroLift.com.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Man at the doctors)

 

July 3, 2018 |

10 Steps to Help Prevent Cancer

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(Family Features) Nearly 4 out of 10 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, and it remains the second-leading cause of death for Americans, but nearly half of all cancer cases can be prevented.

Research from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) shows that diet, exercise and weight play a critical role in cancer prevention.

“Making changes in what you eat, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight have strong and clear links to your risk for cancer,” said Alice Bender, MS, RDN and director of nutrition programs at AICR. “We know from decades of research and a thorough review of the science that there are simple things we can all do to reduce our risk.”

To live a cancer-preventive lifestyle, consider taking these 10 steps recommended by the scientific experts at AICR:

  1. Be a healthy weight. Higher body fat can be a cause of many cancers. Try to stay at a healthy weight and avoid weight gain as you get older.
  2. Be physically active. Incorporate moderate physical activity into your daily life through steps like walking more and sitting less.
  3. Eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans. Make these foods a major part of your diet.
  4. Limit consumption of “fast foods” and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars. Cut down on processed foods to help control calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Limit consumption of red and processed meat. Eat no more than three portions of red meat per week, and little – if any – processed meat.
  6. Limit consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. Don’t drink sugar-sweetened drinks, which contribute to weight gain. Choose water instead, when possible.
  7. Limit alcohol consumption. For preventing cancer, it’s best not to drink alcohol.
  8. Do not use supplements for cancer prevention. Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.
  9. For mothers, breastfeed your baby, if you can. Breastfeeding is good for both mother and baby.
  10. After a cancer diagnosis, follow these recommendations, if you can. Cancer survivors are encouraged to continue following these guidelines.

Refraining from smoking, avoiding other exposure to tobacco and limiting sun exposure are also important in reducing cancer risk.

Because it can be hard to make lifestyle changes, AICR aims to help people adopt healthier behaviors through efforts like the Cancer Health Check, a tool that shows people how their lifestyle stacks up against known cancer risks and recommends changes that can improve health.

For recipes, tips and other resources, visit aicr.org.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

June 27, 2018 |
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