10 Tips to Help Relieve Caregiver Stress

Apex Homecare Services proudly recognizes and applauds all caregivers during the November National Caregiver month.

Below are ten tips to help minimize caregiver stress.
Download Caregiver Tips (PDF)

Older Lady with Dog and Home Care Aide
  1. I am so tired… Use every available service to help you. Laundry (send out), get a housekeeper for housekeeping, food shopping (think about ordering on your iPad or laptop to stores that deliver like Peapod). Use home care aides to assist you in giving personal care, showers and baths. Albeit they are not you… Learn how to use these services to create quality time for yourself. I have had cancer twice. Home care aides helped with laundry and cooking dinner for my family. After each chemo and radiation, I went to work. When I got home to a hot meal I had strength to oversee homework with my three boys. Home care aids want to help you. They are not your friends. They are employees in your home to help you successfully get through what are sometimes trying days. Don’t tell them all your problems and don’t get into counseling or listening to things you do not need to know. Remember you are the employer in your home.
  2. Why don’t all these services relieve my stress… Communication. Pick up a communication book for everyone to document what they did. Write a list of daily chores, make it clear and concise. Document what and when did the client eat and drink, were medications given as ordered. What housekeeping was done? What day is trash pickup? Was the trash taken out and cans brought back in? Are there any bruises or sores on their bodies? Are their bowel movements regular? Let it be known what you need done and what you need to know. What makes your loved one happy? TV shows, special foods, talking about their families?
  3. Eyeglasses… make sure everyone wears their glasses. Perception changes as we age. A step may not look as steep or vice versus and just misjudging 1 inch can cause a bad fall.
  4. What if I fall… Lifeline… I think everyone over the age of 80 should have it and I highly recommend it sooner for anyone with a disability.
  5. Bath vs. shower…I have seen firsthand the serious decline of an independent person who was found in the bathtub after three long days. I think showers should be equipped with hand held showers, secure grab bars and steady shower chairs. Anyone with the least physical disabilities should have lifeline in the shower or bathtub.
  6. Tripping… Roll up any rugs that are not wall to wall. Wash the floors and you will get used to them. Use the bathroom rug for baths or showers, then put it up on the tub or on a rack
  7. Sitting in the dark… A common problem for caregivers leaving their loved ones alone in the evening. All lamps in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen living area should be on automatic timers. It really helps orient an elderly to have good vision and know what time of day it is. Even for blind people I encourage lights. For anyone visiting someone blind there is no awkwardness, they can immediately see their loved one.
  8. Did I take my medications today? Big question. Pre-filled Pill boxes well labeled with day and time help with daily routine. Also, I like to use a monthly reminder schedule for the client or caregiver to check off. We use an excel spread sheet. For some clients who like to play with their pills or forget to take them, an electric medication dispenser and reminders machines ding and drop the pills for a specific date and time. They are connected to the lifeline and phone system. Easy installation, they send out a tech to set it up. It will call the emergency contact if the client does not push the button to alert them the pills were not taken out. I have used this system in several homes and love it. It is a locked system and no one can play with the pills.
  9. How much money does this cost? Know how much money you have and how to access it. 90 year-old aunts who never married are very hard to care for when no one knows where their money is. Touchy subject but when services are needed it is very expensive for an elder care attorney to go on a fact finding mission. What assets are in annuities and cd’s? How can you sign their checks? What are their wishes… most caregivers work themselves to the bone. Can you pay yourself? Is the client eligible for VA or Medicaid assistance, meals on wheels… A social worker from your local state elder care program can assist you. Always know how much money is available and use that knowledge to set up a plan of care you can afford.
  10. Play! Yes, older people like bright colors, cards, checkers. Find engaging puzzles with bright colors, games with light and sound that they can push buttons. IPads and computers have many fun games. if the person is blind get them cd’s from both their library and the American Foundation for the Blind. Clients love coloring, following simple exercises on cd’s while sitting in a chair. Sometimes folding the laundry is a welcome task. Drying dishes, dusting, washing kitchen counters. Go to a casino. They are perfect for wheelchairs. All people like everyday activity and using their mind even if they don’t remember.

Caregiver stress is real and exhausting. Try and find time for that hot bath for yourself. For a Free Consultation in your home call Apex Home Care Services at (413) 746-4663.

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