Meet Amber: Wife, mother, caregiver

Meet Amber: Wife, mother, caregiver

Tell me a bit about yourself!

My name is Amber Reyna. Currently I live in Connecticut, however I am originally from Ohio.  I am 31 years old, married with two beautiful children–my daughter is 9, and my son is 3. Currently, I am a full time student with a major in Human Services and a minor in Psychology. I am expected to graduate with a B.S. in 2016.

I also plan on pursing a Master’s degree in Social Work. Due to the inspiration I have received from being a young caregiver and facing many challenges with my grandmother, who was also younger than most individuals with her conditions, I hope to specialize in geriatrics. I plan on helping my future clients find services to keep them in their homes as much as possible, while also offering counseling services to their loved ones as well.

Additionally, I have begun to become interested in the policy making that is involved with the needs of our aging population. I also look forward to becoming a voice of advocacy as well. In recent years, I have worked as an urgent needs care coordinator and currently I work part-time as a social media manager and office assistant for a local home health agency in my home town.

How did you become the caregiver of your loved one?

Soon after my daughter was born in 2005, I found myself in the position of being the only one willing and able to help care for my grandmother after a number of other relatives had become too exhausted, and scarred physically and emotionally by the heavy load of caring for her. My grandmother had a stubborn, and feisty personality that not everyone found pleasant. Since my grandmother had helped care for me when I was younger, I could not imagine turning my back on her during her time of need. We would often say that we were born for each other. She had helped look out for me and cared for me in my time of need when I was young, and in turn I did the same for her.

How has, or has it, your relationship changed with the loved one that your are caring for?

Caring for my grandmother for the last five or so years of her life brought me closer to her in many ways. I was able to hear stories from her past and the family that I perhaps would have never have known had I not spent those years caring for her. I became even more in tuned with her needs and my sense of intuition skyrocketed. I also prayed a lot during those years. I have many wonderful memories of time spent caring for my grandmother along with my young daughter. My daughter, who was born almost 60 years to the day my grandmother was, also had a hold of my grandmother’s heart and they were extremely close as well. To this day, I often hear my grandmother’s voice in my mind whenever I need so reassurance or motivation.

How do you handle juggling school/work with caring for a loved one?

Things fell in place and happened for the right reasons I suppose. Once my daughter was born, I realized that I was pretty much working to pay for a babysitter and transportation costs for work and there was not much left over at the end of the day. Together my husband and I decided that with some sacrifice, that it would be better for our family for me to quit my job and stay home to raise my daughter. This decision ultimately led to me being able to help care for my grandmother. Although it was not easy with a newborn and then a toddler, I was able to transport and escort my grandmother to doctor appointments, to the grocery store, and everywhere else that our journey together took us to. Eventually, I did attempt to go back to work on a part-time basis. I worked at a local daycare where I was able to bring my daughter and set my own hours of availability. This helped because if my grandmother had an appointment scheduled, I was able to work my schedule around it.

my relationship with my husband was almost always put on the backburner

What is the hardest thing about being a young caregiver?

The hardest thing about being a young caregiver is the fact that there is not a lot of time that you have for yourself. As we had only been married one year when my daughter was born and I became the primary and sole caregiver for my grandmother, my relationship with my husband was almost always put on the backburner. I was exhausted constantly from caring for a young child and being on call 24/7 for my grandmother; I was often filled with anxiety and stress. I did not even have time to realize that I was, in some ways, also battling depression. I felt as though I were completely alone in the world many times, as I did not ever come across another young-adult grandchild in a similar caregiving position as myself.

I could count on one hand, with a few fingers remaining, on how many people I could actually talk to about what I was personally going through. I had zero people that I felt could completely understand all of it.  I also experienced difficulty in regards to being taken serious or truly heard with certain health care professionals regarding my grandmother’s needs. Because I was so young, (only 22 when I first became her caregiver) and I looked even younger, subconsciously I often felt as though certain providers did not truly understand my needs and concerns as her caregiver. From certain relatives, I was often doubted of my capability to adequately provide the amount of care my grandmother needed, yet everyone that was expressing doubt and criticism never offered any real assistance. In the end I proved that maturity is not dependent on age alone.

I felt as though I were completely alone in the world many times, as I did not ever come across another young-adult grandchild in a similar caregiving position as myself.

One of the hardest things about being a young caregiver is that you are not likely to be familiar with the needs of someone with dementia and multiple health conditions. You are not familiar with various medical specialists and foreign sounding medical terms and medications. I was learning constantly as I was caring for her. I quickly had to adapt to all of this or else I was not only failing myself, but also failing my grandmother whose life, in some ways, very much depended on me being able to understand all of this. Thankfully I was a fast learner, I had no other choice.

What is the most rewarding thing?

There are so many rewarding things that come from caring for a loved one. When you are caring for someone and so wrapped up in everyday challenges, it can be very difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As my grandmother was only in her early 60’s, I felt as though this could possibly be my life until I was a grandmother myself. I was often sick to my stomach with stress and worry. However, aside from the moments we had spent together just enjoying the breeze on a sunny day or laughing together at our shared madness, many of the rewards were not realized until my grandmother was called home to Heaven.

I realized after her passing, that I had an emptiness inside of me. It was not just an emptiness of losing a loved one, but also a realization that I was no longer fulfilling a passion. I had worked so hard in fighting for her needs to try to get her the help she needed. I realized there were likely many others out there in similar situations like the ones her and I experienced. I realized there had to be a better way and that everyone deserved to have a voice that is heard and have a cheerleader on their side.

My eyes began to open to things that perhaps I also overlooked when I was caring for my grandmother. I was so desperate at times to find help for her that I may have not always been aware of our surroundings. While I did my best to find what I thought was a suitable environment for her at the time when her medical needs were too great to remain at home, years later when I went back as a volunteer, I realized how much my eyes did not see at the time I was my grandmother’s caregiver.

Do you feel like others, friends, family etc, understand your role as a caregiver? Why or why not?

I knew that there had been others in my family that had once cared for my grandmother. However, I did not feel as though those that were previous caregivers had a complete understanding of my grandmother’s updated needs. Her medical conditions, such as her dementia and COPD, were worsening as they typically do with such progression of diseases. Her needs were far greater than they once were. Having a young child at home to care for in addition to the constant on call responsibility for my grandmother was truly a never ending job.

I felt like I had to live in a bubble, if I went too far out of the bubble, it all could pop.

What are some misconceptions people have about young caregivers in general?

People in general have the notion that younger caregivers do not have enough life experience to adequately handle and manage the care of another person, especially a person in need of tremendous care who faces multiple challenges.

Do you ever feel like you are missing out?

I often felt like I was missing out. I did not feel as though I could go on vacation with my husband and child because I would need to stay close to care for my grandmother. My grandmother was in no condition to travel and therefore, going anywhere even an hour’s drive away was pretty much impossible for many years. I felt like I had to live in a bubble, if I went too far out of the bubble, it all could pop.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

to do listThe first thing I would do in the morning was make a mental list of what needed to be done for that day. What appointments did my grandmother have, did she need to go to the grocery store, was it garbage day, laundry day, and does she need her medication refilled, and so on. This was all in addition to what I needed to do to provide care for my household as well and all before I had a cup of coffee!

What do you do when you have 15 minutes of free time?

Does free time include showers? Even then, with a toddler in the house, I was not always guaranteed such “free time.” I remember driving through the park or going out to sit at a small lake and just gather my thoughts and try to remind myself to keep the faith and stay strong.

What motivates you?

What motivated me during the years as a caregiver, was knowing that my grandmother only had me to depend on. As much weight as that was to carry as a young caregiver, I really used that to keep pushing forward. What motivates me today is knowing that through all the challenges my grandmother and I faced together, that we pulled through it all. I am motivated today by the struggles we overcame to help those in similar positions or worse find a better way.

Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?

It has been over five years now since my grandmother has passed. Since her passing, I have had another child. Something I never thought I would be able to do because I was so involved with caring for her. My marriage has gotten stronger, although we still have our own things to work on, life in general has continued to evolve for the better.

I have gone back to school and I am working towards ultimately obtaining a Master’s degree in Social Work. I plan on offering counselling services to older clients in need of assistance and their loved ones. I also would love to open up my own agency where I can help connect clients and their caregivers to resources to make life easier and more enjoyable for everyone. Additionally, I see myself advocating on state and federal levels on behalf of my future clients and others in our nation in need of positive change.

What’s are some resources or tools you’ve found to help you with caregiving?

When I cared for my grandmother, we lived in Northwest Ohio. At that time not many resources were available. My grandmother was younger than the average client that needed care, or her income level was just slightly over the limit for other resources. In fact, when she was released from the hospital after being in intensive care and unable to walk even with her walker, there was no discharge planning done to make sure she was going to receive any type of care that she so desperately needed. Her pain medication was not even called in to get filled! The hospital was aware that my grandmother was moving out of state upon discharge and therefore washed their hands from any responsibility to help my grandmother. By the grace of God and angels at the airport, we eventually managed to bring her to next destination.

It was not until I realized that we truly had no resources that we were in so dire in need of, did I call 911 and got her to the emergency room. The social worker there did all she could to connect us to services, but her hands were also tied because my grandmother was not diagnosed with anything that required hospital admission. After spending a day fighting with the doctors to keep her in the hospital for evaluation, with my grandmother lying on a hospital bed in the hallway of the emergency room, we were connected with the name of an elder care attorney who ended up being our lifeline in the long run. By the end of that evening, my grandmothers vital signs dropped and she was once again back in intensive care, not even 24 hours after they were going to send her back home with me and no resources what so ever.

If it were not for that social worker and elder care attorney I do not know how things would have turned out.

What do you wish you were told before you became a caregiver?

I wish I were told that my grandmother’s dementia and other medical conditions would decline much sooner than expected. However, I don’t know if anyone could have predicted that. I also wish I knew how to get more help for her the both of us, yet I do not think there were actually resources in that time and place for her based upon her age and needs.

What advice would you give to other caregivers?

I would say it is so important not to be intimated by medical providers and related professionals. You have to speak up for the one you are caring for and for yourself. If you do not speak up for you, who will?

If there are resources out there that can help, accept the help! You will be a better caregiver for the one you are caring for, and a better person for yourself and your loved ones if you allow yourself to step aside from time to time and regroup. Seek out help, don’t give up, and see a counselor if you have no one else to talk to you about what you are going through.

Perhaps consider keeping a journal, at the very least. Sometimes just getting your thoughts and worries out in the open and off your chest, even temporarily can truly help.

What’s your best piece of advice for life in general?

Nothing lasts forever. Before you know it this very moment in your life will seem like so long ago. Enjoy each moment for the better or for the worse, let it all soak in and embrace all that comes with it. The hard times in life are there to bring us closer to one another and to learn valuable lessons from. The best times in life are there to reward us. With hard work, comes great rewards, you just need to believe in yourself.

In ten words or less, what has caregiving taught you?

That I am stronger than I could have ever imagined.

If you had something you would change in your caregiving experience what would it be?

I would say if I had the power to change the resources that were available to help us during the time I was caring for my grandmother, I certainly would have done so to allow my grandmother to have a happier and potentially longer life than she had. I believe having those resources could have allowed her and I to have enjoyed so much more together. Perhaps she would still be here today.

I started taking care of my mom while I was in HS

I started taking care of my mom while I was in HS

Nicki is a young millennial caregiver for her mother who has liver disease and osteoporosis. This is her story.


The summer after I finished high school, my mom got sick. At first, it was a bacterial infection. Then, it seemed to always be something — asthma, bacterial infections, anything. She has had a liver disease and osteoporosis since I was nine, and this led to a weakened immune system. She laid around in bed all day, and watched movies, calling in sick from work, and often wanted me to stay home as well. She would often argue with me over what day it was. She had good days and bad days, but I started to believe that she was entering into the early signs of dementia like her mother and grandmother had faced. Thankfully, the local university had offered me a full scholarship, so I went there for my undergraduate degree, and lived at home to help. I am an only child, and her siblings were not willing to help.

After I finished college in 2013, my mother’s condition had gotten worse. I had decided to work at a summer camp the summer after to make some extra money, but quickly realized that was a mistake. My mom fractured her back while I was gone. She started taking pain medications for her injuries, which got her kicked out of the rental house where we were going to live when I came back. When I returned from working that summer, I had to find her a place to live immediately (I’d begged the landlord to let her stay until I returned). I started graduate school that fall, but her condition continued to worsen. I was not making enough money as a teaching assistant to support us, and also could not balance graduate school while also taking her to doctor appointments. She got in a few car accidents trying to drive around the unfamiliar town which led to  more fractures and more medications. I spent many tired nights trying to do homework, or grade papers for work in the ER. Thankfully, the hospitals usually had wifi which made the stay a little bit easier! After I finished my first semester of graduate school, I moved us back to my hometown to find work, and be near familiar doctors, my church, and friends to help.

However, despite the fact things started to look well, the situation unexpectedly turned dire. Last April, after I’d been working for a few months in my hometown, I found my mom in bed not responsive. She was breathing, but could not wake up. I quickly called 911 for EMS came to take her to the hospital. After a few days, she thankfully started to come back into consciousness. She ended up spending 11 days in the hospital and 8 days in rehab, begging me to take her home every one of those days. My mom had had a stroke, her body was almost septic, and she lost the use of her right arm. I was engaged at this point, and my fiancé would visit, but he did not understand why I had to go to the hospital every day after work. He would still come keep me company, and do anything to help. My best friend would visit as well, bringing me food and comfort. (I just recently found out that she had watched her grandma die in that same hospital and hated going back, but did it anyways). Difficult times really do show you who your true friends are, and I was grateful!

Difficult times really do show you who your true friends are, and I was grateful!

When my mom finally came home from the hospital, she could not even stand up on her own. My fiancé helped me set up her room to make it easier, and my best friend would come over during my work days to help her, and clean my house. Did I mention my friends are incredible?

Still despite the gains, caregiving eventually led me to lose my job in May, and my fiancé to break up with me in June. I did not like my job, and had been looking for many months for a new one. When I couldn’t find one in North Carolina, I started looking for jobs in Florida where I had distant relatives we could stay with for awhile.

The day before I was supposed to move, (also the day I had planned to get married) I once again found my mother unresponsive. I called the EMS, but she woke up just enough to be confused by all the commotion, and cried out “no! no!” refusing  to go. Since I did not have power of attorney, they were unable to take her. A kind policeman told me how to file an involuntary commitment form at the courthouse, which I did. My friends stayed at the apartment with her helping me pack and clean. When I got home, I had to watch my mom be taken from my home in handcuffs, and taken to the hospital in the back of a police car. She hated me for it, but the doctors told me she would have died if I hadn’t done it. The next morning, I went to visit her. She told me she hated me. I’m very glad she doesn’t remember any of this.

I was unable to take her out of the hospital, but had no where to live in NC, so I went on to Florida with my relatives. After a few weeks, I had a stable job. After a few months, I was able to save for a very small down payment, and buy a small house! My mom stayed in cheap hotels using her savings after the hospital until she could join me in my house. I’m working on getting power of attorney and becoming her health care surrogate now. Through it all, I believe that my faith in God and my friendships have become much stronger.

Meet Tyler: juggling school and full-time family caregiving

Meet Tyler: juggling school and full-time family caregiving

Tyler is a young millennial caregiver that takes care of her grandmother. This is her story.


Tell me a bit about yourself!

I’m 22 years old, and I grew up about 40 minutes from Chicago. I moved from a busy town to the country with my mom, and stepdad about four years ago. I am currently attending a junior college for Criminal Justice, and I have one more class to go until I get my Associate’s. I haven’t decided if I want to go on to a four year yet, or if that is even possible for me.

How did you become the caregiver of your loved one?

I became a caregiver three years ago for my grandmother when her husband decided that he could not care for her any longer and was going to put her into a nursing home down in Florida. My mom did not want her to live in a nursing home because she is a nurse and has heard many stories of neglect and abuse in homes, especially with Alz/dementia patients.

You grow and change with every obstacle life throws your way and you mold into a new person.

Tyler and her grandmother

How has, or has it, your relationship changed with the loved one that your are caring for?

My relationship with my grandma has changed drastically since I started caring for her. Three and a half years ago I had broken up with my ex fiancé because he was addicted to heroin. And after many relapses and fights I called it quits. I was devastated at the time and mainly stayed in bed all day for months. When my grandma became my responsibility I was heartbroken and deeply depressed. I didn’t give her the attention she deserved, and I was a self-centered kid still. But the depression ended and lessened with time as those things do, and I started to enjoy taking care of her and helping her. For the first time in my life I was spending time with her for more than a few days a year. Her and her husband retired when I was young and moved to Florida, so I did not see her often. I can’t say I even remembered her voice before she got sick. But now my grandma Margaret is my best friend.

How do you handle juggling school/work with caring for a loved one?

Caregiving is my only job. I take one to two classes at a time when I can so I can be home when my mom is at work. My grandma lives with us and when my mom works Monday-Friday I am caregiving, I have one class that my stepdad stays home during so I can attend. I guess the truth is I could get another job but if something comes up with my mom no one would be able to watch my grandma, my stepdad reluctantly does it twice a week for two hours. The place my mom has worked for 20+ years is shutting down soon so nothing is certain anymore. I feel it would be selfish to clutter my schedule any more than I already do with hanging out with my friends a few times a week. It would just cause unnecessary stress for my mom.

What is the hardest thing about being a young caregiver?

I think the hardest thing about being a young caregiver is that I’m 22 and I have nothing to show for it. My best friend is 24, has a Master’s Degree, and just passed all four sections of the CPA in one try. I feel like a loser all the time. I graduated high school almost 5 years ago, and I don’t even have a degree that should have taken me two years to achieve. I guess I feel like everyone is moving forward and I am frozen in time. I have classmates getting married and already on to baby number two, and I spend most of my days at home.

The hardest thing about being a young caregiver is that I’m 22 and I have nothing to show for it.

What is the most rewarding thing?

The most rewarding thing about being a caregiver. It’s the little things, like waking up and walking downstairs to see my grandma’s smiling face happy to see me and start her day. Hearing her laugh, seeing her eat her food that I make her. Knowing she is as healthy as she can be with all her issues, and knowing no one else knows her body language, medicines and doses and how to do my job as effectively as I can. She is truly my life.

Tyler and her grandmaIf you had something you would change in your caregiving experience what would it be?

If I could change anything about my caregiving experience I would change how my Aunts and Uncles have reacted to her being sick. We all live within five miles of each other but no one comes over to see her unless it’s her birthday or a special occasion. I just wish people would have more love and respect for their own mother than that.

What do you do when you have 15 minutes of free time?

When I have time to myself I am usually doing something with my fish tanks. I have 6 betta fish and that is one of my only hobbies. Having clean tanks and healthy, happy fish makes me happy. I find peace when I watch them swim and that is something that I do for myself. They also help ease my insomnia usually, except for tonight, I haven’t been to bed yet and it’s 5:30 am.

In ten words or less, what has caregiving taught you?

Ten words or less, what caregiving has taught me. Absolute patience and understanding.

What advice would you give to other caregivers?

My advice to other caregivers would be to try not to get angry or hurt when your LO (loved one) doesn’t cooperate. Step back and breathe, don’t argue. Imagine how they feel, are they confused or in pain? They are suffering and need your help. If you do get frustrated walk away for a few seconds (if you can) and come back.

What’s your best piece of advice for life in general?

Best piece of advice for life in general? I would say that no matter how difficult things get or how many times you have felt extreme heartache or disappointment, life goes on. You are stronger than everything that has ever tried to destroy you. You grow and change with every obstacle life throws your way and you mold into a new person. I would say just make sure you become a better person. It’s easy to be negative and mean when your situation is not ideal. But if you have to force yourself to be kind, do it! Don’t judge, and always try to say something nice instead of something negative. Let go of hate, because it only destroys you. Forgive people who may not deserve it because you deserve peace, and you will never achieve peace if you hold on to negative emotions.

5 important meditation apps for caregivers

5 important meditation apps for caregivers

Caring for a loved one comes with both ups and downs. It can frequently become overwhelming making it extremely easy for caregivers to lose themselves in the process. One helpful tool to deal with the stress and emotions that comes with caregiving is meditation. Meditation can be used as a simple tool to make your mind calmer, and gain balance for yourself as a caregiver. With all the chaos that can be thrown in a caregiver’s days, meditation is useful for alleviating the stress that comes with the job.

Here are some great meditation apps that can reduce stress in as little as 5 minutes!

 

1. Omvana

This meditation app is voted #1 in over 30 different countries. It has received detailed reviews from The Huffington Post and CBS alike. After signing up on its home page, it is user-friendly, and can be used on any browser- Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer, or as an app on Android/itunes. It has 25 free tracks ranging from 2-3 minute quick meditation to longer 30-40 minute sessions. It’s mission is to actively promotes meditation, focus, relaxation, and sleep.

 

2. Breathe

The first question that you will encounter using both the website and app is “How are you?” giving you free-range, and control to use the app to best fit your emotional and physical state on any given day. Breathe provides short 5-10 minute guided meditations tailored to your mood, and the feedback you give. Breathe is accessible over the internet, for free, and does not require logging in or signing up to use much of its guided exercises. The app also provides a list for you to track your progress, and learn what is working for you.

 

3. Calm

This app is a well regarded tool to help reduce anxiety and stress. The website readily allows you to access the interface, and plays soothing music as soon as you click on it. You can also sign up for newsletters on the website. Although the app itself is free, there are various  subscriptions with additional resources that can be purchased for as low as $4.99 per month. The app comes with great resources such as 7 guided meditation sessions from 2 to 30 minutes, 10 expansive nature scenes, and 16 different music tracks by meditation music mastered plus new content added each month!

 

4. Guided Mind

This is a great app that has multiple 3 minute voice-guided meditation exercises for people on the go. The exercises are easy to use, and can be stored on your mobile device for use at a later time. There are about 8 different speakers, and 14 sound landscapes to chose from making it a great, diverse fit for caregivers. It is free, and available for use on itunes.

 

5. Headspace

Headspace encourages training your brain in the same manner you would train your body at a gym. Over a million users use this app and website! It has a 10-day free trial subscriptions, and costs $12.95 a month after. The app can also be used with a buddy to team up with while going through the various exercises.

5 challenges young caregivers face today

5 challenges young caregivers face today

Young Caregivers make up 12-18% of the caregiving population yet are not often talked about in the media. Although many people don’t think of teens and millennials as caregivers, they are and have their own unique set of problems they face in addition to the enormous amount of challenges caregivers in general face. Here are some below:

1)    Delayed Planning for the Future

Taking care of another person, whether ill, elderly, or disabled, is emotionally and physically taxing. It easily becomes a 24/7 job- one that is often not recognizable by a Fortune 500 company. This is a catch-22 because your early twenties is the best time period to cement a stable career path, and to start choosing romantic partners, as well as whether or not to have children. However, young caregivers regularly find themselves putting off these crucial milestones due to lack of time, and demanding caregiving duties. This often leads to young caregivers having a delayed start for their own lives. They engage in a delicate balancing act between their role as a caregiver, and finding their role in society.

 

2)    Keeping Up with Schoolwork

Many young caregivers are in high school, and college (some- even in lower grade-levels) and have to deal arduous tests, papers, reports, projects and homework, in addition to their caregiving duties. It is often hard to carve in time to study. Many miss assignments, and take off days to school to take loved ones to doctor appointments. Some teachers/professors can be understanding of the situations, offering extended time for assignments with doctor notes. Others, might not be. The pressure and intensity can take a toll on young caregivers, pushing them back in their academics, and in severe cases lead to young caregivers to drop out.

 

3)    Loss of Friends/Social Life

Being a young caregiver can sometimes mean choosing between going to the late night movie screening with your friends, and making sure you are home on time to give your loved one his/her medication. Friends might not often understand, and the terms “flaky, and “missing out” might become part of their vocabulary. Because of this, young caregivers often miss out on the carefree nature associated with youth.

 

4)    Adapting to a New Way of Life

Young caregivers are more often than not navigating two worlds. They have to grow up faster than some would like and quickly learn new skills such as medical terminology, managing complex finances, and finding legal representation for both themselves and their loved one. Sometimes they do this with little to no guidance, and can get lost in the shuffle of their new role.

 

5)    Finding Time for Self-Care

For some, taking a break after long hours caring for another can be anxiety inducing. It means straying away from a set plan which may be jammed packed with chores including- managing medications, washing a bed pan, preparing weekly meals, etc. It can be difficult to choose and it can even cause the young caregiver to feel guilt. Self-care frequently becomes an afterthought or a young caregiver juggling too many activities at once. However, not taking time out for oneself can also cause a young caregiver to withdraw from his/her support system and isolate his or herself.

 

Caregiving is difficult at ALL ages, yet noting and being aware of these challenges can aid in the young caregiver’s struggle. It can help prevent burnout at an early age, and lead to a more balanced lifestyle for each member of our community.

Do you know a young caregiver who could use support? They can connect with other young caregivers in our young caregiver support groups (we have one group for high school students and one group for young adults) and find support on our community forums.

Can live-in home aid help ease dementia care?

Can live-in home aid help ease dementia care?

34 % of adults in the United Kingdom fear getting dementia, a neurological disorder that included loss of memory and speech, later in life, according to a study done by The Live-in Homecare Information Hub. However, 52% of adults are more comfortable talking to others around them about their fear and how to manage it. Dementia has become commonplace disorder for the elderly, with one well-known form being Alzheimer’s.

According to findings done by the organization No Place Like Home, loneliness can be a significant contributing factor for people developing Alzheimer’s with those who reported being lonely developing a high incidences of the disease up to twice those who do not consider themselves lonely. In the UK, the total number of people with dementia has been predicted to rise to 940,110 by 2021 and 1,735,087 by 2051 – an increase of 38% over the next 15 years. This also indicates that by the year 2037, the number of caretakers – paid and unpaid – will have to rise to up to nine million (or more) to keep pace with the rising number those in need of elder care.

9 million caregivers in the UK by 2037
Due to this, more needs to be done to ensure that people dealing with this debilitating disease, as well as others dealing with similar ailments, are properly cared for. 97 % of adults report that they do not want to end up in a nursing facility given the negative reports regarding them. In addition, 78 % are worried that they would be resentful to a family member who needed additional care. 65% worried that the situation could cause ‘divide our family or cause relationship problems.’

Some proposed solutions include live-in homecare where a nurse or live-in caregiver could provide round-the-clock care for a dementia or elderly patient. Many would be specifically trained to cope with particular conditions like dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, MS or palliative care. This could reduce the risk of loneliness for the patient as well as alleviate the bed shortage that the current hospital system faces.

67% of people worry elder care disagreements will divide their family

10 resources for families dealing with eating disorders

10 resources for families dealing with eating disorders

This week, from February 22-28 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Eating disorders can affect anyone regardless of gender, race, age, or weight. Eating disorders are also some of the most commonly diagnosed illnesses in America today. Below are some resources that put a spotlight on bulimia, anorexia, and other disorders and help those, as well as surrounding family members, find the treatment and support that is needed.

1. National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

This organization is one of the largest national organizations America that supports ongoing research on eating disorders while also giving families tools to care for loved ones with eating disorders. It also is the organization sponsoring the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and has stories on when individuals found out they had an eating disorder. Likewise, they proudly feature a great website called Proud2BMe that promotes positive body image, and healthy attitudes for young teens.

2. Multi-service Eating Disorders Association, Inc. (MEDA)

This is a non-profit organization that specializes in connecting individuals with eating disorders to regional treatment centers around their area. It is a succinct and well-regarded resource used by clinicians, patients, and researchers alike.

3. Eating Disorder Coalition

EDC is an advocacy group that concentrates on advancing the recognition of eating disorders as a public health priority at the federal and state level.

4. F.E.A.S.T

Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders (aka F.E.A.S.T) is an international organization for caregivers/parents of eating disorder patients. F.E.A.S.T. This organization advocates for caregivers by providing information and mutual support, promoting evidence-based treatment, and advocating for research and education to reduce the suffering associated with eating disorders

5. Maudsley Parents

This is an organization dedicated to helping parents find treatment and therapy for their children recovering from eating disorders. It features a small online community where blog post, tips, and family stories are shared.

6. Sheena’s Place

Sheena’s Place is a Canadian center that promotes body positivity and offers support to individuals and their families struggling with this illness.

7. Bulimia Nervosa Resource Guide

This website is specifically dedicated to providing information in a comprehensive guide specifically for the eating disorder Bulimia Nervosa. It explains in an easy-to-use, yet concise format what bulimia is, how to screen for it, and how to treat it once diagnosed.

8. Your Bulimia Recovery

This blog focuses on the start to finish of a young woman’s journey recovering from the eating disorder Bulimia Nervosa. She offers her own Recovery Program as well as unique articles. One topic, in particular, focuses on bulimia in older women and why it does not garner as much attention as it should. She also features an online support group as well as interactive videos.

9. Gurze Books

Gurze is a trade book publisher that focuses primarily on books about eating disorders. It features books ranging on learning to love your body to dealing with food addiction.

10. The National Association for Males and Eating Disorders

This up-incoming website is committed to educating the public about males with eating disorders. It highlights important, and engaging tidbits on this issue such as how “1 in 4 males have eating disorders.”

 

The dual lives of caregivers

The dual lives of caregivers

As the general American population continues to age, more and more people are stepping into the role of caregivers. The Employment Panel of Caregivers projects that the number of seniors requiring care will double by the year 2031. This means additional resources need to be available to these individuals to prevent stress, burnout, and potential self-harm.

43% of caregivers are under the age of 45Caregivers are defined as individuals, unpaid and paid, who provide care, support and help with daily living activities for another individual with some type of ailment. Yet, one thing that is important to note is that caregivers are not monolithic. The Employment Panel of Caregivers notes that men are almost as likely as women to be caregivers (46% vs. 54%) although women are more likely to provide 20 or more hours of care per week. The majority of caregivers (44%) fall into the age bracket of 45-64. Yet, there are plenty of millennials (45<) who are taking care of spouses and relatives as well. 25-44 year-olds account for 28% of caregivers while the youngest caregivers in the age bracket of 15-24s make up 15% of caregivers.

Many of these caregivers, however, work outside of the home and often take on additional work responsibilities in addition to the ones they have at home. According to the Employment Panel of Caregivers can make up more than 35%- up to six million people- of the general workforce. These caregivers are often balancing dual roles. They are spending more and more time outside the workforce taking on responsibilities of transporting the care recipient, maintaining the household they are in, and additional day-to-day tasks such as scheduling appointments, and managing finance while providing personal and medical care. In some large corporations, up to 18% of those employed are current caregivers, and 10% have been caregivers in the past. Many may also request to leave due to the variety of factors that they are dealing with increasing responsibilities outside the office. Researchers at LifeHealthPro report that unmet stress for caregivers, who cannot hire paid help for their loved one, lead to 61% of caregivers asking for a leave of absence. Men are also 159% likely than women to ask for time off from their job due to demands.

Because the number of caregivers will only continue to grow, corporations and employees must work together to ensure the wellbeing of the caregiver as well as the productivity of the general workforce is at a healthy level. Some suggested solutions are more flexible work hours along with work-from home arrangements, access to respite care, tax credits for family caregivers, and more information on support groups. Hopefully with new technology, and the continuous recognition of caregivers needs lead to better work-life balance initiatives for all.