The stark reality is that more and more Americans each and every day find themselves taking on the role of caregiver for a family member. This can present immense physical and emotional challenges. The first steps suggested here can help you find some balance as you navigate your caregiver journey.
(BPT) - Caring for a loved one with a chronic illness is something millions of Americans do every day. Whether it is a parent, spouse, extended family member or friend, the stress of caring for another adult can take a toll.
"I have to do absolutely everything for her," explains Anthony Cowels, whose 71-year-old wife, Florence, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986. As he watched her disease progress, his caregiver responsibilities grew. What's more, for some of the years Cowels also cared for his elderly parents, compounding his responsibilities.
"It has been a long journey of caregiving," says Cowels, 70. "I try not to let it overwhelm me. I always look for ways to do better." Cowels learned to care for both himself and his wife better through useful tools, education and friendship and by joining a caregiver support group. He says he can "interact with others who identify with my situation.”
Family caregiving: A growing trend
Cowels represents a growing number of Americans who care for older or aging loved ones. About 41 million family caregivers in the United States provided an estimated 34 billion hours of care to an adult with limitations in daily activities in 2017, notes the AARP report Valuing the Invaluable: 2019 Update. What's more, as the population ages, caregiving demands are increasing while the pool of potential caregivers is decreasing.
As the Valuing report states, "Americans will have more older relatives or close friends to potentially care for than children in about 15 years. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that, by the year 2035, adults ages 65 and older will outnumber children under the age of 18 for the first time in U.S. history. This fundamental demographic shift is the result of the aging of the U.S. population, increasing longevity, and a declining birth rate. "
Caring for yourself
In addition to helping with self-care activities like bathing, dressing and going to the bathroom, family caregivers today often perform complex medical tasks, including wound care, giving injections and handling medical equipment. The tasks that were once provided in hospitals and health care clinics are increasingly the responsibility of family and friends, who are often given little training or support.
While many family caregivers often report positive feelings in their role such as a sense of purpose or connection with their loved one, it often comes with feelings of being overwhelmed. Exhaustion, worry, loneliness and financial stress are common challenges caregivers face. If you also work a full-time job, it can be even more difficult to balance your needs and responsibilities.
While you may not achieve perfect balance, it is important to prioritize your physical and mental wellbeing, so you can be there for the person you care for. These first steps can help you find some balance as you navigate your caregiver journey:
It is important for family caregivers to stay mentally and physically healthy so they can provide the best care possible to the growing number of people who need support. For helpful tips and caregiver resources, visit www.aarp.org/caregiving.
Every day nearly 200 people die from an overdose of drugs or from alcohol poisoning, with opioids responsible for the majority. Recognizing the signs and knowing how to respond to medical emergencies, including carrying and administering naloxone in cases of opioid overdose, can literally save lives. Here are tips from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) on what to do in case of a suspected overdose.
(BPT) - Every day nearly 200 people die from an overdose of drugs or from alcohol poisoning, with opioids responsible for the majority. Recognizing the signs and knowing how to respond to medical emergencies, including carrying and administering naloxone in cases of opioid overdose, can save lives, says the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
“The tragic increase in overdose deaths is an alarming and devastating issue that touches so many of us,” said ASA President Mary Dale Peterson, M.D., MSHCA, FACHE, FASA. “If you can identify an overdose or alcohol poisoning, you are more likely to react quickly, making the difference between life and death for a family member, friend or stranger.”
Physician anesthesiologists have a critical role in fighting against overdoses, starting with managing patients’ pain after surgery or chronic pain in responsible ways. During Physician Anesthesiologists Week, Jan. 26-Feb. 1, ASA is joining forces with U.S. Surgeon General VADM, Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., to empower everyone to recognize the following signs of an overdose or alcohol poisoning:
Any one of these signs should prompt a call to 911 for emergency medical care. Never leave an unconscious person alone, as they may be at risk of dying, including by choking on his or her own vomit. If an opioid overdose is suspected, naloxone should be administered immediately, if available. Naloxone is administered by injection or nasal spray and access to it is expanding on a state-by-state basis. It can be prescribed by a physician and often is carried by police officers and emergency medical responders. Additionally, it’s increasingly available over the counter at some pharmacies.
“To stem the tide of the opioid overdose epidemic, we need everyone to consider themselves a first responder. We need to encourage everyone in our communities to carry naloxone and know how to use it,” said U.S. Surgeon General, VADM, Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., a physician anesthesiologist who issued a Surgeon’s General’s advisory in 2018 calling for increased awareness and use of the medication. “When on hand, naloxone may mean the difference between life and death, and can be a first step to getting someone onto the pathway of recovery.”
Anyone who takes opioids to manage their pain may be at-risk for an overdose. In recent years, opioids were the go-to pain reliever for everything from backaches and injuries to post-surgical and chronic pain. In 2017, more than 190 million prescriptions were written for opioids. While they can be effective for short-term pain, chronic use can lead to abuse. Every day 130 people die from opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“ASA strongly agrees with the Surgeon General and supports policies that promote access to naloxone and safe and effective pain management care,” said Dr. Peterson. “All of our members have a significant interest in reducing misuse, abuse and diversion of opioids that have led to unintended deaths.”
To learn more about the critical role physician anesthesiologists play before, during and after surgery, visit asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. ASA also offers an opioid overdose resuscitation guide that provides guidance on symptoms of an overdose and how to help.
If you’re among the millions of people in the United States who suffer from a chronic illness, you may use “sharps” to manage your medical condition at home or on the go. Consider this information about sharps and steps for safe and proper disposal.
Understanding Medical Sharps and Safe Disposal Options
(Family Features) If you’re among the millions of people in the United States who suffer from a chronic illness, you may use “sharps” to manage your medical condition at home or on the go. For example, many people with diabetes self-inject at least two insulin shots every day, and conditions including allergies, arthritis, cancer, infertility, migraines and psoriasis, among others, may also require the use of a sharp to administer medication.
A medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin, sharps may be used at home, at work and while traveling to manage medical conditions. Examples of sharps include:
However, disposing of those medical sharps safely may be a concern. In fact, in interviews conducted by SafeNeedleDisposal.org with sharps users, people who use needles and lancets to manage their medical conditions believe it is their responsibility to dispose of sharps safely, but lack clear, factual information on how to do so. Existing information does not always personalize disposal guidelines for people in every state or locality.
“SafeNeedleDisposal.org helps people in the United States make sense of safe sharps disposal options nearest to their home, work or wherever is convenient,” said Larry Ellingson, vice president of the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council. “This resource is much needed for people who regularly use needles to manage health conditions like diabetes and want to do the right thing with their used sharps.”
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sharps not disposed of properly may cause injury. Consider these three steps for safe and proper sharps disposal:
For more information on safe disposal of sharps, visit SafeNeedleDisposal.org.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffers from a chronic illness that requires using needles or sharps outside of the doctor’s office, you may question how to dispose of them safely. There is plenty of information available, but the proper disposal method may be different depending on where you live, work or travel.
How to Safely Dispose Needles and Medical Sharps
(Family Features) If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffers from a chronic illness that requires using needles or sharps outside of the doctor’s office, you may question how to dispose of them safely. There is plenty of information available, but the proper disposal method may be different depending on where you live, work or travel.
To help ensure people who use needles and sharps at home or on-the-go know how to dispose of them easily and safely, NeedyMeds, a national non-profit organization that provides health care information to consumers, developed tools at SafeNeedleDisposal.org.
“Most people want to do the right thing, but they need specific, succinct information on safe sharps disposal,” said Richard J. Sagall, MD, president of NeedyMeds. “For local guidance presented in a way that is easy to follow, our website is a one-stop-shop.”
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sharps that are not disposed of properly may cause injury. In order to increase awareness and minimize risk, people who use sharps are encouraged to learn more about local regulations and disposal options.
In many states and communities, people who use sharps may dispose of them by following these three simple steps:
“Some locations have different disposal regulations, which may require people in those areas to take used sharps to special collection points,” Sagall said. “SafeNeedleDisposal.org helps people learn how to get rid of used sharps safely, wherever they happen to be.”
To learn more about disposing used needles and sharps safely, visit SafeNeedleDisposal.org.SOURCE:
Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke are among the most common causes of illness, disability and death in the United States. These chronic conditions and the factors that lead to them can be more common or severe in minorities, including Hispanics, but there are services available that can help people living with chronic conditions coordinate care services and lead to better outcomes and higher satisfaction.
Chronic Conditions More Common in Hispanics
(Family Features) Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke are among the most common causes of illness, disability and death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These chronic conditions and the factors that lead to them can be more common or severe in minorities, including Hispanics.
For example, 4 out of 10 Hispanics die due to heart disease or cancer, and they are 50 percent more likely to die due to diabetes than Caucasians, according to the CDC.
If you are a Medicare beneficiary with two or more chronic conditions, ask your doctor about CCM and see if you’re eligible for connected care, including services such as:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Health Resources and Service Administration introduced the “Connected Care” campaign to help raise awareness about the benefits of CCM. The campaign has free resources, including an animated video in English and Spanish that can help you learn more.
Talk to your doctor to see if CCM is available to you and visit Medicare.gov to learn more about the benefits of the program.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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