YOU’ll LOVE the Nevada Care Act! Click here for your free carry card

Nevadans are now hearing a new question when being admitted for a hospital stay:

“Do you have a family caregiver?”

You will need to know who that caregiver is in the next few days, so please begin to have a conversation with your friends and family now. Beginning January 1, 2015, more than 500,000 Nevada family caregivers and their loved ones will get some much-needed help. The Nevada Legislature passed a new law, known as the Nevada CARE Act, during its 2015 session. The new law strengthens communication between hospitals and family caregivers, ensuring a designated caregiver is notified when a loved one is discharged or transferred, and receives instruction on any after-care required at home – such as managing prescriptions or dressing wounds.

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Caption: Governor Sandoval signs Care Act into Law 2015

The law was designed to help caregivers stay informed when a family member or friend is in the hospital, and be better prepared to take care of their loved one at home following the hospital stay. The result should be fewer hospital re-admissions and greater opportunity for older parents, spouses and other loved ones to continue living independently at home.

The CARE Act requires hospitals to do three things: 

  • Provide you the opportunity to designate a family caregiver
  • Inform your caregiver when you are to be discharged to another facility or back home; and
  • Provide the caregiver an explanation and demonstration of any medical tasks which will need to be performed at home, such as wound care or medication management.

Whether you currently serve as a caregiver for a family member or friend, or just want to be better prepared in the event of your own hospital stay, you should be aware of your rights under the CARE Act.  Have a family discussion about who you would designate as your caregiver, and carry that person’s name and contact information with you.  Keep in mind that your caregiver will not necessarily be the same person as your legal next of kin, especially if your family members don’t live in your community.

For convenience, AARP Nevada offers a free CARE Act card you can keep in your wallet, where you can list the name of your caregiver. That way you’ll have this important information available when you need it most.  The card is available to download and print at home at
http://states.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/NV-Downloadable-wallet-card.pdf.

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The Caregiver’s Journal recognizes that uncomfortable conversations about potential need for assistance, medical issues and other life events can be difficult to bring up. However, being proactive and knowledgeable is always a better option than trying to play “catch up” when life happens. To help your caregiver keep track of the information they will need to care for you, please consider purchasing a copy of The Caregivers Journal at by clicking here.

For more resources for caregivers, visit our website at www.the-caregivers-journal.com.

 

 

National Family Caregiver’s Month: “Respite: Care for Caregivers”

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November is National Family Caregiver’s Month. This year’s theme is focused specifically on Respite care, the important service that allows caregivers crucial time to rest and relax, energize, sleep, use programs, imagination, and exhale.

This year’s Presidential Proclamation reminds us how important it is that family caregivers have support. President Obama states, “I encourage all Americans to pay tribute to those who provide for the health and well-being of their family members, friends, and neighbors.”

When they ensure their own well-being, caregivers are better able to help the people they love. Right now, 18 percent of caregivers are assisting two or more adults. About half of all caregivers are over age 50, which by itself makes them more vulnerable to health issues. What’s more, 17% of caregivers describe their health as fair or poor, and the toll on the caregiver’s health appears to increase over time and with higher caregiving hours.

How can the theme RESPITE help you and the caregivers in your life?

R is for “Rest and Relaxation” – Everyone needs a little “R and R” – especially family caregivers. Relaxing is the best way to return refreshed to handle your many responsibilities as a caregiver.

E as in “Energize” – Caregiving is often round-the-clock 24/7. Respite isn’t simply “getting a few hours off.” It’s necessary to help you reenergize, reduce stress and provide care for your loved one.

S as in “Sleep” – Caregivers often have sleep problems. Address sleep problems and insomnia before they take too great a toll on your health.

P  is for “Programs that can help you”   Respite – which can be in the home or out of the home – can be hard to find but there are programs available to help you.

I as in “Imagination” –  Let your mind run free; read a book; see a movie. You have been so occupied with the nuts-and-bolts of caregiving that refreshing your mind will actually help you be a better caregiver.

T as in “Take Five”  or better yet, take ten.  Do you find yourself saying, “I wish I had  just ten minutes to myself”? Don’t feel guilty. You need a reprieve – a few minutes to temporarily disengage.

E is for “Exhale” – A simple breath in and then a long exhale can help you focus and increase your vitality. A few deep breaths can give you more energy, reduce stress, and lift your mood.

This November, acknowledge and thank the caregivers in your family or community, but also make them aware of the support networks available. Visit our website at www.the-caregivers-journal.com for more resources for caregivers.

How to Keep Fears and Anxieties in Check Throughout the Year

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Halloween is a time when even as adults we might be fearful or anxious. Between scary decorations, wanting our kids to be safe and maybe knocks on the door at 11pm by towering teenagers wanting candy…well…it can overwhelm. But it is temporary.

Caregivers may face fear and anxiety all throughout the year. They are normal responses to the many stresses of caregiving and associated issues such as health, financial and other worries. Caregiving often comes with a loss of control. Many caregivers feel uncertain about the future and worry about the suffering, pain of the person for whom they care. Often times it comes as a normal part of the grieving process. Fears about loss of independence, changes in relationships, and bearing the burden of caregiving duties as well as worrying that they will be a burden to others if they reach out to others to share the caregiving duties can be too much to deal with all at once. Many caregivers feel stressed trying to balance work, child care, self-care, and other tasks, along with this extra work. All of this is on top of having to worry about and take care of the person who also needs them.

From the immediate need in the month of October, to managing these issues year round, we’ve provided some tools and techniques to help everyone in the caregiving relationship.

Be Proactive with a Halloween Plan

For seniors who live alone, work with your caregiver to put together a Halloween plan. Many aspects of this plan can also be applied on a daily basis to reduce fears and anxiety. You can still have fun with the holiday and be safety smart.

1) Ask around your neighborhood and social network to see what is going on Halloween night. Then make a decision whether to stay in, or out, and then let your caregiver (s) know your whereabouts.

2) Halloween night at home – You can ask your caregiver, young relative or trusted neighbor drop by and check on you during the peak “trick or treat” hours to deter mischief-makers who will be less likely to bother you if you are not alone in the house. If you choose to answer the door, keep your chain lock in place and pass the candy through the limited opening the chain gap provides. Play it safe and never allow a trick-or-treater into your home to use the bathroom or any other excuse they may think of to enter your home. Have your “speech” ready, which may include that you have company and it is not a good time, but they can try xyz neighbor’s house or the local gas station or convenience store. If you are generally not able to be as mobile as the doorbell will demand, you can also simply leave a basket of candy on the front porch with a sign that says, “Please take one. Happy Halloween.”

3) Halloween night out – Be with other people at a scheduled event either at a neighbor’s house for a casual cup of tea or hot cider, visit your local senior center, or the house of a family member.

Year Round Relaxation Techniques

Whether you are a caregiver or the person receiving care, mindfully practicing relaxation can decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body, ranging from everyday stress to that related to health problems such as cancer and pain. Numerous responsibilities and tasks, or the demands of an illness or just every day “living” all may contribute to you missing out on the health benefits that relaxation can provide.

According to the Mayo Clinic, relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms and help you enjoy a better quality of life by:

  • Slowing your heart rate
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing your breathing rate
  • Reducing activity of stress hormones
  • Increasing blood flow to major muscles
  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Improving concentration and mood
  • Lowering fatigue
  • Reducing anger and frustration
  • Boosting confidence to handle problems

Basic relaxation techniques are easy to learn, often free or offered at low cost, have low inherent risk and can be implemented at home, at work or even when you travel. Doing each of these for 15 minutes a day can take you from overwhelm to calm, ready to face whatever else may come your way:

Meditation – Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress. Start in a sitting position, as it is the most conducive to staying alert and relaxed. For those unable to sit, use the alternate option of lying down. What is most important is what you do with your mind, not what you do with your feet or legs. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting — out loud or silently — a positive message that is soothing to you. Or, if that is not something that is easy for you or you do not know how to start, there are thousands of free You Tube videos that you can access to assist with meditation and relaxation. Some videos have visuals with formal guided meditation. Others have been produced with associated photos or video clips in conjunction with calming music or nature sounds. You can find a perfect fit for your preferences and tastes. See the example below (we have to admit that we listened to this while writing the newsletter and it was very soothing!):

Breathe Deeply – Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. Take a break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your abdomen. Slowly inhale through your nose. Be aware of how the breath starts in your abdomen and works its way to the top of your head. As you exhale through your mouth, follow the breath’s path in the opposite direction.

Be Present – Slow down. Be silent. Focus on one thing versus multitasking. What does the air feel like on your face when you’re walking? How do your feet when they hit the ground? When you take a bite of food, what is the texture and the taste? This technique eases tension and quiets the mind.

Tune In to Your Body – Lie on your back, or sit with your feet on the floor. Mentally scan your body from head to toe. What parts are tense? Hurting? Fatigued?

Be Grateful – “A thankful heart is a happy heart.” Being grateful for your blessings has the power to cancel out negative thoughts and worries. Purposefully document your gratitude, either through a social media 100-day gratitude challenge, or keep a gratitude journal on hand throughout the day so that you can remember all the things that are good in your life.

For more relaxation techniques, visit Web MD today or visit our Pinterest page .

Fall Prevention for Seniors

Falls can happen anytime and anywhere to people of any age. However, as people get older, the number of falls and the severity of injury resulting from falls increases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in people age 65 and older. Common injuries due to falls are head injuries, shoulder and forearm fractures, spine fractures, pelvic fractures, and hip fractures.

We are headed into the fall and winter season with slippery pavement, ice and snow. What people do not realize is that indoor falls are a big risk too. Some ways to help prevent falls indoors and outdoors are:

Indoors

  • Keep rooms free of clutter, especially on floors
  • Use plastic or carpet runners
  • Wear low-heeled shoes
  • Do not walk in socks, stockings, or slippers
  • Be sure rugs have skid-proof backs or are tacked to the floor
  • Be sure stairs are well lit and have rails on both sides
  • Put grab bars on bathroom walls near tub, shower, and toilet
  • Use a nonskid bath mat in the shower or tub
  • Keep a flashlight next to your bed
  • Use a sturdy stepstool with a handrail and wide steps
  • Add more lights in rooms
  • Buy a cordless phone so that you don’t have to rush to the phone when it rings and so that you can call for help if you fall.

Outdoors:

  • Use a cane or walker for added stability.
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes for traction.
  • Walk on grass when sidewalks are slippery.
  • In winter, carry salt or kitty litter to sprinkle on slippery sidewalks.

This video below, “Alone,” is a 60-second television public service announcement. It uses a dose of humor contrasted with the stark reality of falling to educate viewers on the importance of making their homes fall-safe. Please share this video to help prevent injury and death associated with falls.

For more info on fall prevention and visit the National Institute on Health (NIH) website  or visit this series on fall related publications.

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