Less than 30% of elderly people by the age of 70 have 20/20 vision.
Macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma can impact day to day activities. They can affect the ability to drive, read, maneuver an uneven sidewalk, or recognize friends.
Impaired vision also affects the ability to communicate. We look for visual clues during conversation. Some are:
- Facial cues indicating mood or emotion
- Hand gestures indicating size or direction
- Turn-taking cues, such as raised eyebrows
- Feedback, such as head nodding
Those with poor vision may be lost or misunderstand these types of non-verbal messages. Imagine not being able to see a person roll his eyes when making a sarcastic remark.
There are some simple things that you can do when talking to someone who has visual impairments:
- Identify yourself when approaching.
- Describe, with words, instead of gestures.
- Increase the room lighting; make sure the light is not behind you. Overhead fluorescent lighting causes glare on linoleum and hardwood floors.
- Reduce background noises. Hearing is used to make up for limited vision.
- Offer your arm for support. Let the person know about upcoming curbs or stairs.
Following some of these suggestions can keep those with vision impairments involved in conversations and ensure safety at home.
Do you know when you have been complimented? In caregiving, compliments can come in many forms. But as a caregiver, you may not realize that you are being complimented by the person you are caring for. Sometimes caregivers are cursed at, sworn at, or referred to by some colorful description. These are compliment to you. Let me explain.
The person you are caring for is apparently very secure in the relationship that they have with you. They do not fear that you will abandon them or retaliate in some way. They trust that you will be there for them unconditionally and provide for them no matter what. Compliments like these can just make a caregiver’s blood pressure go through the roof. They can turn a perfectly good day into one of mediocrity and frustration. Asking for something can appear to be more a demand than a request.
Then they come here, to the center, or have visits from friends or family. They are as gracious as ever. You think to yourself, “What’s going on here?”. Well, the reality is that they are demonstrating their “company manners”. You remember those, when the pastor would come to the house and everyone was put on notice to be on their best behavior. Well, they still have that mentality. When they are around other people, they use their “company manners”. Yet when they are with you, they know how to push all your buttons, and they do. Just take it as the compliment that it is.
written by: Bernie Feehley, Jr., Administrator, Woods Adult Day Services
You’ve heard these stories a million times. Each time it becomes harder and harder to seem interested. Next time, try asking questions. The story becomes something special because your loved one comes alive. Dad is engaging in a review of life.
By encouraging him to reminisce, you can boost his confidence and brighten his mood. It’s a method of decreasing depression and loneliness. He can review past accomplishments that can give him a renewed sense of fulfillment. The benefits of storytelling are greatly underestimated.
Here are some suggestions to help you engage in some reminiscing:
- Pick an object around the home. Nick-knacks, old picture albums, old records, and even a piece of clothing can work for great conversation.
- Go through the attic, the far corners of the closet, or the basement. These are great places to find old photos, cards and letters, a wedding dress, and other great memory boosters.
- Don’t stay away from the unhappy memories. Reflection doesn’t have to be rosy and often long-forgotten disappointments are uplifting.
- These sessions can take only 15 minutes – a great phone conversation, a coffee break, a peek through a photo album after dinner. The amount of time you spend usually depends on their attention span.
- Encourage others to use this technique. Family and friends are often unsure and uncomfortable about what to talk about. Offer some suggestions such as: a former profession, how they met their spouse, grandchildren, pets, hobbies, and towns and cities where they lived.
- Start a scrapbook. Adult children can put it together if your loved one is unable. Keep it handy for some conversation starters.
Research shows that sparking these memories causes blood pressure and heart rates to drop, essentially producing a calming effect.
Caregiving and the Holidays
Family and friends come together on the holidays to celebrate; share memories, laughs, and good cheer. For those living with Dementia and other disabilities, the holidays can be a difficult time.
Caregiving responsibilities plus keeping up with holiday traditions can take a toll on everyone. With a little planning and adjusting expectations, celebrations can be filled with joy and moments to cherish forever.
Change your expectations
- You cannot maintain every holiday tradition
- Do only what you can reasonably manage
- Host a small family gathering instead of a big holiday party
- Serve pre-cooked items or carry out restaurant meals
- Start a new tradition
Involve your loved on in the preparations
- Wrap gifts
- Bake together
- Set the table
- Prepare simple appetizers
- Read holiday cards together
- Reminisce by looking through photo albums
- Watch a holiday movie
- Sing carols
By making just a few changes, your holidays can be a special time again, with just as many great memories.
Eating well is important at any age. However health issues and physical limitations can make it difficult for some to get the nutrients they need. Symptoms of malnutrition (weight loss, disorientation, lightheadedness, lethargy, and loss of appetite) can be mistaken for illness or disease. If you are concerned about the diet of someone you care for, here are some tips to ensure proper nutrition.
- Offer nutritionally-dense foods. Encourage whole, unprocessed foods that are high in calories and nutrients. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and protein-rich beans, meat, and dairy products are some good choices.
- Enhance aromas and flavors. You can intensify flavors with herbs, marinades, dressings, and sauces. Switching between a variety of foods during one meal can make the meal interesting. Try combining textures, such as yogurt with granola, to make foods more appetizing.
- Eating is a social event. People often fail to eat if left alone. Have the family eat together or invite a friend over. Play soft music, light candles, and talk about the day’s events.
- Be aware of the food available. Remove outdated and spoiled food and have nutritious snacks in plain sight.
- Be aware of dental problems. Improper oral health can make eating uncomfortable. Make sure dentures fit properly and any other problems are being managed.
- Give reminders. If poor memory is interfering with good nutrition, plan meals at the same time every day and give visual and verbal reminders when it’s time to eat.
- Serve finger foods for those unable to handle utensils.
- Have plenty of fluids available.
- If someone has problems swallowing:
- Allow plenty of time between bites and check for food in the cheeks
- Remind the person to swallow
- Gently stroking the throat will sometimes stimulate swallowing
- Alter food textures that cause difficulty. Liquids can be thickened and solids can be moistened or pureed.
The best ways to find-out why your loved one isn’t eating well are to pay attention. Look for clues and ask questions. Encourage him to talk openly and honestly, and reassure him that he is not a burden to you or anyone else.
Medication administration is an important part of caregiving. Keeping track of medications can be a nightmare if you’re not organized. With just a little planning, you can reduce your stress and reduce the chance of an error. The most common medication errors are administering the wrong drug or the incorrect dose. Drugs with similar names account for 25% of reported errors.
Here are some tips to help you get organized:
- Keep pills in original container (unless you place them in a dispenser).
- Using a dispenser can be a timesaver and reduce errors.
- Use one pharmacy for all your prescriptions. This will reduce the chance that you will obtain conflicting medicines.
- Ask your pharmacist’s advice before splitting or crushing any pills. Some pills should only be swallowed whole and may produce dangerous effects if the pill is altered.
- Discard any medications that are no longer being taken.
- Keep medicines securely stored.
- Check with your pharmacist about over-the-counter medications. They may have risks, especially for those taking several medications.
- Be alert for side effects. Check with your doctor of pharmacist if you have any questions or suspect that the medicine may be causing problems.
Make a record of all your loved one’s medications as well as your own. Include medications prescribed by a physician as well as over-the-counter and dietary supplements. You should include the name of each medication, what it’s for, the strength, and dosing directions. Additional information could include when the medication was started and when it was discontinued. This list should be given to all of your doctors, pharmacist, and other caregivers. Be sure to keep this list current!
Medication mishaps are most likely to occur when:
- Taking multiple medications
- Normal routines are disrupted
- Starting new medications
- In the hospital
Finally, never be afraid to ask questions. If the name of the drug on your prescription looks different than you expected, if the directions appear different than you thought, or if the pills or medication itself looks different, tell your doctor or pharmacist right away. Asking questions if you have any suspicions at all is a free and easy way to ensure that you don’t become the victim of a medication error.
From Marian Anne Eure, former About.com Guide Updated May 20, 2010
The majority of in-home care providers for physically or cognitively disabled adults are family members, generally an adult child or a spouse. Without the care of these family members, many disabled adults would require care in nursing homes.
Family caregivers are are extremely valuable, but often need additional help in caring for a loved one. Caregiving can take an enormous toll, both financially and physically. Adult day care can provide needed respite from caregiving and may reduce the need for nursing home care.
According to the 2000 census, there are 3,407 adult day care centers operating in the United States, serving primarily people with dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) and the frail elderly who do not have dementia. But experts suggest that many more centers will be needed in the next few years to cope with aging baby boomers who will need care. Adult day care is a viable, low-cost way of keeping individuals who are in need of chronic care at home, in the community, and with family and friends as long as possible.
Adult day care centers are typically open Monday through Friday during the day and give relief to caregivers during those hours. Surveys show the average cost of adult day centers is $56 per day, which is considerably under the cost of most other options for the frail elderly and people with dementia.
Finding Adult Day Care
To find care centers in your area, you can:
- Talk with your loved one’s doctor.
- Contact your local Area Agency on Aging (check your phone book, or call 1-800-677-1116 for the AAA in your area).
- Try the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator.
- Check with your local senior center.
- Talk to the staff at your church.
- Check the yellow pages under “Adult Day Care” or “Senior Services.”
Evaluating Adult Day Care Centers
You will want to find the best place for your loved one to spend those hours away from you. Be sure to check for:
- Number of years in operation — look for stability.
- State license or certification, if required
- Days and hours of operation
- Financial costs — be sure to look for any hidden costs (such as extra charges for transportation or special meals). Do they have any financial assistance available?
- Meet the staff and ask for credentials — can your loved one’s health needs be met?
- Is transportation provided?
- Look at the menu — can special dietary needs be met? It is a good sign if they ask you to stay for lunch.
- Can they deal with conditions such as incontinence or dementia?
- Ask for references — if you can talk to the family of a client, that is even better.
Don’t feel like you are failing your loved one if you need to get a break — the time away from each other can be a great rejuvenator.
Article from About.com – Link to this article click here
Woods Adult Day Care Center Inc. in Millersville provides a welcome alternative to nursing homes for many participants.
Providing meals, snacks, activities, recreation and some nursing care to seniors on weekdays, the center allows those caring for frail seniors at home to continue working and offers a much-needed respite. The center is governed by a non-profit corporation and charges $80 a day.
Many experts view adult day care as a cheaper, more attractive alternative to nursing homes that allows seniors to continue living in the community. But demand for day care outpaces the supply, and many, particularly in the rural South County, live too far from day care and lack transportation. Limited state money helps pay the tab for some. But many seniors make too much to qualify for public assistance yet too little to pay the daily fee.