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. Being aware of some of the warning signs of burnout can help caregivers properly manage stress and protect themselves.
Caring for Caregivers
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:
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:
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:
Adult Day Programs
Family and Friends
Photos courtesy of Dreamstime (Couple walking)SOURCE:
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
37 million people in the United States suffer from overactive bladder (OAB) - it's more common than diabetes or asthma. OAB is an ongoing condition that may include having to go to the bathroom frequently, having to use the bathroom urgently and leaking urine. While not life threatening, OAB can negatively affect social activities, exercise and sleep. The National Association For Continence (NAFC) launched a new tool help people get a clear idea of their symptoms and the impact so they can better communicate these concerns to their doctor. It also can help people find a local incontinence expert who can work to restore their bladder function.
(BPT) - Sixty is a milestone for Carolyn Hampton and she's not shy about sharing her age because it's a tribute to how she's lived. She's more active than ever; she loves to dance and has even taken up tennis and running. None of this would have been possible a few years back because of her constant worry and concern about having an accident. Hampton's in charge now, but for years her bladder ran the show.
Hampton is not alone - 37 million people in the United States suffer from overactive bladder (OAB) - it's more common than diabetes or asthma. OAB is an ongoing condition that may include having to go to the bathroom frequently, having to use the bathroom urgently and leaking urine. While not life threatening, OAB can negatively affect social activities, exercise and sleep.
After years of not getting full relief with medications and suffering with the side effects, Hampton was unable to function because she woke every 45 minutes to use the bathroom. "My quality of life was terrible, but I'm a fighter and a two-time cancer survivor, so I wasn't going to let my bladder limit me," Hampton says. "I finally said, 'Enough,' and asked my primary care doctor what else she had for me and was sent to a urologist."
"Your quality of life is so much better when the bathroom doesn't have to be your number one priority. It's so freeing. People shouldn't be afraid to talk about their symptoms or ask for a referral if they aren't finding relief. It's critical to advocate for yourself," Hampton says.
OAB is thought to be caused by miscommunication between the bladder and brain. Hampton was ultimately prescribed an advanced therapy that worked for her by helping to address this miscommunication.
Similar to the breakdown in communication between the brain and bladder; there is often a communication gap between people dealing with OAB and physicians about its impact. Many suffers aren't comfortable bringing it up and physicians don't often ask about bladder health.
To bridge this gap, the National Association For Continence (NAFC) launched a new tool help people get a clear idea of their symptoms and the impact so they can better communicate these concerns to their doctor. It also can help people find a local incontinence expert who can work to restore their bladder function.
"There are many effective OAB treatments, yet the majority of those suffering are untreated. Our goal is to help people discover the right option for them, but the first step is communication," says Steven Gregg, Ph.D., executive director of the NAFC. "The better your health care provider understands the impact of your symptoms, the better they can help find an effective treatment."
Only one in eight Americans who have experienced loss of bladder control have been diagnosed and less than 33 percent of people with incontinence and OAB symptoms seek treatment. Many sufferers revolve their lives around their bladder, but often don't realize how much they are doing to cope - mapping bathrooms, refraining from drinking, wearing dark clothing and avoiding socializing.
In a recent NAFC survey of 356 people experiencing bladder control issues, 66 percent of respondents said their urination issues affected their sleep. More than 50 percent also reported a loss of confidence. The survey results also showed bladder control issues had a serious impact on other important areas including travel, intimacy, and ability to be active.
Among women who have not discussed OAB with a physician, embarrassment was a top reason cited, in addition to fear of being told it's a natural part of aging and thinking nothing can be done.
While many advanced therapies are available, less than five percent of respondents have ever heard of them. It's critical that patients find an incontinence expert to help find the right solution for them.
"I'm thrilled that my doctor listened to me and helped me find an effective solution. It took courage to open up about what has been a 'hush-hush' issue, but the freedom it gave me means so much to me," says Hampton.
Visit www.everydayfreedom.com/nafc to take the bladder control quiz, learn how to talk to your health care provider and find an incontinence expert in your area.
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