CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 5. Issue 2
Download PDF version
Letter From the Editor:
It’s hard to believe that the first day of Spring is less than two weeks away! The first of the month kicked off our newest special campaign: Caregiver Burnout Prevention. The campaign will raise awareness around the very important topic of caregiver stress and burnout and offer health promoting tips to ensure that family caregivers are protecting their own health as they care for aging loved ones. We have a free assessment tool
available on our website that will help you determine whether being a caregiver is a taking a toll on your mental and physical health; give it a try.
In this month’s newsletter, I will discuss the affect that Alzheimer’s disease has on both the caregiver and the patient, how you can slow down the aging process and achieve better health in 24 hours, according to Dr. Oz, and the role that sleep plays in maintaining heart health. Lastly, I would like to congratulate Cathlene from Home Care Assistance of New Hampshire for being selected for this month’s Caregiver Spotlight. We would like to recognize Cathlene for the professionalism and unyielding care she brings with her in caring for our clients.
Enduring Alzheimer's Disease Together
Former Alzheimer’s caregiver and author, Marie Marley, wrote a moving piece called, “Who Suffers More: Alzheimer's Patients or Their Caregivers?” that is sure to resonate with many family caregivers. The title conjures up the themes from the 2004 film The Notebook around the heartache and challenges the two main characters endure as a result of Alzheimer’s disease. Watching a family member become debilitated by Alzheimer’s disease is heart-wrenching and emotionally draining for the caregiver. Alternatively, the family member who has Alzheimer’s is also going through his or her own difficult journey. It’s common for the individual to experience confusion and anxiety because their memory is failing and people, places and things that were once familiar are now unknown. Marley’s article does an elegant job of explaining how caregivers should adapt to these changes and highlights three most common traits that people with Alzheimer’s disease have of which caregivers should be mindful and understand in order to provide the best care possible.
According to the article, the three common traits shared by those with Alzheimer’s disease are the following: quickly forgetting unpleasant things they experienced, adapting to change faster than their caregivers do and rarely worrying about what the future has in store. Marley carefully examines each trait, explaining how caregivers can best cope with these behaviors. The simple fact is that many people with dementia eventually don’t realize that a change in their cognitive abilities has taken place because they don’t remember what things were like before their memory began failing. Marley advises caregivers to remind themselves that their loved ones’ lives are only in the present; this is a useful reframing that can ease the burden for caregivers who feel forced to constantly remind their loved one about the past and is often a much more comforting approach for the adult living with Alzheimer’s.
How to Slow Down the Aging Process in 24 Hours, According to Dr. Oz
With a proper regimen involving eating right and exercising, your body can more effectively slow the aging process to promote not only living longer, but living better longer. According to Dr. Oz, you can start combating aging and start your journey to living a healthier life with a 24-hour healthy living jump start plan.
The 24-hour plan kicks off with light exercise around 6am. Something as simple as a seven minute yoga routine will get your heart pumping and oxygen flowing to your brain. Yoga has been shown to lower one’s heart rate and help reduce stress and is an excellent addition to any health routine given its numerous mind and body benefits.
Around 7 am, it is time for your first and most important meal of the day – breakfast! Now this begs the question of what foods are best to eat for this important meal. When too much sugar is present in the bloodstream it can block cells from repairing themselves (to provide an aesthetic example, sugar makes it harder for collagen cells to repair themself, thus causing more wrinkles as individuals age). Instead of eating a breakfast loaded with sugar, opt for a breakfast with a low glycemic index to keep blood sugar levels lower for a longer period of time. Oatmeal and eggs are excellent options as they are both loaded with protein which helps you feel full longer.
At 10 am, Dr. Oz recommends snacking on berries. Berries are a super food and contain antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and may help guard against certain cancers.
At noon, before eating lunch, the plan suggests some sort of physical activity. Try going outside for a brisk walk. We lose muscle mass as we age, which leaves us weak and our bones vulnerable. Vigorous physical activity can prevent frailty—and 15 minutes in the sun is typically all you need to get the adequate amount of vitamin D for your body.
To read the remaining ways to defy the aging process, visit: http://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-11-2011/droz.2.html
. Of course, as with any health, exercise or nutrition regimen, check with your physician first to make sure it is right for you.
Sleep Your Way to a Healthy Heart
Without a restful night of sleep, the next day can be both physically and mentally draining; alarmingly, sleep deprivation can actually also put you at risk for a heart attack. According to a recent study published in Circulation, a journal published by the American Heart Association, individuals with insomnia increase their risk of a having a heart attack by 27 to 45 percent! And simply falling asleep is not sufficient; falling asleep but not staying asleep can increase your risk of a heart attack by nearly 30 percent. Poor sleep has also been linked to heart disease, an increased risk of developing diabetes and obesity.
Simply making adjustments to your nightly routine can help you minimize these risk factors and enjoy a restful night of sleep and a healthy heart. The first step is to create a routine. Try to set your schedule so that you are waking up and going to bed at the same time each day, even on the weekends. This will help train your body to be more prepared for rest and more likely to stay asleep throughout the night.
Another quick and easy way to prepare yourself for a good night sleep is to turn down the lights about two hours before bed. Our bodies are very receptive to light and associate it with daytime. It fact, studies have shown that light, artificial or natural, will keep you awake. Turning down the lights signals to your brain that it is time to go to bed.
Going to bed hungry or too full will also prevent you from having a peaceful slumber. Being mindful of what we put into our bodies at the end of the night is a good way to promote a restful night. Stay away from stimulates like coffee and energy drinks, especially later in the day, as these can keep you tossing and turning at night and switch to a non-caffeinated herbal tea as a way to break your caffeine habit.
Caregiver of the Month Spotlight: Cathlene L.
This month’s Caregiver Spotlight honors Cathlene L. from Home Care Assistance of New Hampshire for her compassion and professionalism. Cathlene has extensive experience in providing top-level care to individuals with Alzheimer's and other dementias; she also serves as a valuable resource for caregivers and staff members in this area of care. She is highly valued by family members of clients with dementia as she is able to provide them practical advice on best practices for caring for their loved ones and ensuring their safety and comfort. Cathlene is often specifically requested because of her excellent reputation and professional demeanor. She sets a high standard which other caregivers strive to emulate.
Cathlene has worked with seniors for over 15 years in home care, assisted living facilities and nursing homes. She never had a chance to get to know her own grandparents which instilled a desire to care for seniors as a way to fulfill this area of her life. Cathlene admires the wisdom and life experiences of her elderly clients; she loves to hear about their experiences and learn where they have been, who they have met and how life has changed over the decades. For Cathlene, helping seniors is her way of giving something back to a generation she very much values. Cathelene’s clients, in turn, love being able to share their amazing journeys and stories with such a dedicated listener.
On behalf of everyone at Home Care Assistance, we thank you, Cathlene, for your dedication, professionalism and compassion for those around you!