CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 5. Issue 3 | Home Care Assistance CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 5. Issue 3 | Home Care Assistance

CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 5. Issue 3


Download PDF version

Letter From the Editor:

Spring is now in full swing along with the vibrant pinks of the cherry blossom trees and glowing yellows of blooming daffodils. We have received an overwhelming positive response to our innovative Caregiver Burnout Prevention Campaign; more and more people are signing up every day for the Caregiver Burnout and How to Protect Your Health Webinar, which is just around the corner. With over 1,000 people expressing interest in this topic, spots for the webinar are filling up quickly so be sure to reserve your seat today if you have not already. The webinar will be held Tuesday, May 1st at 11AM Pacific, 2PM Eastern and it will be presented by renowned psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Hoblyn, Professor at Stanford School of Medicine and chief medical officer of eTherapi.
The topic of caregiving is a prominent theme in this month’s newsletter. I will discuss being the primary caregiver for your spouse, the obstacles that can arise for family caregivers and dos and don’ts of family caregiving according to Dr. Denholm, author of The Caregiving Wife’s Handbook. Further, I will discuss eight new superfoods to incorporate into your daily diet to help maintain a healthy weight, fight disease and live longer. In addition to staying physically active, there is growing emphasis and interest in maintaining brain health and exercising one’s mind. That said, I have ten tips to help keep your mind active and thriving. Lastly, I would like to congratulate Wanda Galarza from Home Care Assistance of Puerto Rico for being selected for this month’s Caregiver Spotlight. We would like to recognize Wanda for the dedicated compassion and consistent professionalism that she brings with her in caring for our clients.


Dr. Denholm Weighs in on Caregiving for Your Spouse

More than 40 million women are primary caregivers for an aging loved one. While men and women alike often undertake the role of primary caregiver for an aging or ailing spouse, this has become especially common for women. While caring for a loved one can be an extremely rewarding and meaningful experience, it also carries challenges and difficulties that are not often openly expressed. More and more family caregivers have begun expressing that in addition to the many positive impacts of caring for a loved one, there are also very real disruptions in their work, social life, sleep habits, exercise routines, household management and financial situations. These family caregivers also express frustration with the lack of a forum to voice the challenges of caring for a spouse that can include a loss of intimacy and emotional strains. 

As one expert put it, for some wives, caregiving can be like a rollercoaster of highs and lows with each day bringing new challenges, demands and adjustments. What others see as a gift, the wife may be experiencing as “a dirty little secret,” Diana B. Denholm wrote in The Caregiving Wife’s Handbook, as she may not feel it appropriate to voice her struggles and challenges.  Denholm states that the difficulties can be compounded in situations where the marriage was rocky prior to one individual assuming the role of caregiver in addition to spouse.  Husbands who were abusive when they were healthy can become tyrants when seriously or terminally ill, the author learned from wives.
In her book, Dr. Denholm discusses coping strategies that she developed with her husband during his long illness. “The most important of these strategies is to adopt communication tools that avoid accusations and self-pity and instead “create expectations, agreements and understandings, including some that may involve agreeing to disagree,” the author writes. She also provides a list of 50 dos and don’ts to help make the task of caregiving less challenging. The following items are a sampling from that list:
  • Don’t let your husband take advantage of you or be abusive in any way.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • Don’t assume roles and jobs just because somebody thinks you should.
  • Recognize that he’s the one who is ill, not you, and that your journeys will be different.
  • Realize that sacrificing yourself completely will not make him well.
  • Speak up for yourself and take a hard line on safety issues.
  • See the humor in situations and try to laugh rather than criticize.
  • Learn relaxation techniques.
  • Take advantage of the time remaining and have fun with your husband however you can.
  • Have fun yourself, even if he can’t participate.
  • Stay active and social, and spend time with people who make you feel better.
  • Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising and arranging a way to get needed sleep.
  • Take breaks and trips to visit friends, offering your husband care alternatives during your absence.
  • Protect yourself physically. Don’t try to catch your husband if he’s falling. If you are injured, you won’t be able to care for him.
If you are the primary caregiver for a family member or other loved one and find that you are experiencing symptoms of depression, dissatisfaction, decreased energy or increased susceptibility to illness you may be experiencing what is known as “caregiver burnout”. It is essential to protect your health and wellbeing first so that you can provide the best care possible to your loved one.
We are hosting a free, public webinar on caregiver burnout and how to protect your health on Tuesday, May 1st at 11am Pacific, 2pm Eastern. The webinar will be presented by Dr. Hoblyn, Professor at Stanford School of Medicine and chief medical officer of Space is limited, so reserve your spot here today!


8 New Superfoods You Should Be Eating

At Home Care Assistance we have long touted the benefits of seven superfoods: salmon, walnuts and other nuts, carrots, eggs, flaxseeds, blueberries and dark chocolate. Incorporating these foods in your diet will help you maintain a healthy weight, fight disease and live longer. Recently we discovered eight new superfoods that have similar health benefits as the ones listed above. These foods will help boost your energy levels and help you look and feel more youthful.


1.  Jicama: This root vegetable has probiotic properties to boost healthy bacteria in the stomach and aid in digestion. It is also high in Vitamin C, which can help fight the onset of wrinkles.
2. Chia: This tiny edible seed has a nutty taste and is an excellent source of fiber, calcium, iron and omega 3 fatty acids.  These seeds are great for your bones and heart and can be sprinkled on cereals, salads or soups for added nutrients.
3.  Kefir: The creamy texture of this food product is similar to yogurt, but with less sugar and more protein.  Kefir has a tangy taste and can be a great substitute for salad dressing.  A probiotic, Kefir helps boost healthy bacteria in your body, keeping your immune system strong and helping prevent cancers, such as colon cancer, from developing.
4.  Sprouts:  These are germinating seeds that can be eaten raw or cooked and come from different beans, alfalfa, or even vegetables, such as broccoli.  Broccoli sprouts contain about 50 times more of the anti-cancer agent, sulforaphane, than its fully mature stalks.
5.  Black Garlic: The fermentation process gives this variety of garlic a sweet, caramel-like flavor. Black Garlic packs in nearly double the antioxidants of standard, raw garlic bulbs and has properties that can help lower an individual’s cholesterol.
6.  Nutritional Yeast: A single serving of this type of yeast has as much as nine grams of protein and is packed with Vitamin B to help keep energy levels high and stress levels low.  Nutritional Yeast can be used as a dairy free substitute for Parmesan cheese and can be sprinkled on popcorn, potatoes or even pasta.
7.  Kelp: This powerful plant, despite its small size, is loaded with vitamin K and calcium. Certain studies have shown that it can help decrease a women’s risk of developing breast cancer. In a powder form, kelp can be incorporated into soups or meatballs for a nutritional boost.
8.  Barley: This grain is filled with niacin to help keep your skin and hair healthy. It also contains lignans, which help fight cancer and keep your cholesterol levels under control. Barley is the perfect substitute for oatmeal, pasta or rice.
Incorporating these superfoods into your daily diet will help you live a longer, healthier and happier life!


Brain Fitness; 10 Tips to Stay Sharp

According to a recent study by the University of California of San Francisco, reducing lifestyle risk factors such as smoking and being overweight by 25 percent could prevent up to half a million cases of Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States and Canada.To help keep your brain fit in the coming years and throughout the remainder of your life, try implementing the following:  

1.    Exercise – The best way to keep your brain young is through physical activity and exercise. Individuals who are active tend to maintain better cognitive function and memory. Higher exercise levels have also been correlated with a 40% lowered risk of developing dementia, according to a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois.
2.    Weight train – Lifting weights can have a major impact on your brain health, especially for women. "Resistance training may increase the levels of growth factors in the brain such as IGF1, which nourish and protect nerve cells," according to the head of Aging at a Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory.
3.    Learn new skills – Stepping out of your comfort level and learning new things, such as knitting or Tai Chi, for example, can cause individuals to grow new brain cells. When the brain is challenged, the number of brain cells increases along with the connections between those cells.
4.    Meditation – Chronic stress floods your brain with cortisol, which leads to impaired memory. Meditation is a great way to stay focused and calm through the reduction of harmful stress hormones.
5.    Eat healthy –
Researchers at Columbia University have run multiple studies that show that eating a healthy Mediterranean diet rich in fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and beans can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's by 34 to 48 percent. Further, studies have suggested that older people who eat a diet that consists primarily of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, may have a slower rate of cognitive decline and a lower risk for dementia than meat lovers.
6.    Keep it spicy – Adding herbs and spices to your meals is an easy way to boost your brain power.  The spices with the highest amounts of antioxidants are black pepper, cinnamon, oregano, basil, parsley, ginger and vanilla.
7.    Find purpose – Having a clear set of goals is important as we age. Purpose and direction have been shown to help older adults reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
8.    Have friends – Cultivate a close network of friends and relationships.  A support network may help to protect against dementia by providing emotional and mental stimulation, says Laura Fratiglioni, M.D., of Sweden's Karolinska Institute.
9.    Reduce risks – Diabetes can double the risk for Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia so it’s important to keep sugar intake low and physical activity moderate to high.  
10. Check your vitamins – Research from Rush University Medical Center says that adults at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency scored lowest on tests that measured thinking, reasoning and memory.
Implement these ten easy techniques into your routine to start boosting your brain power today!


Caregiver of the Month Spotlight:
Wanda Galarza

This month’s Caregiver Spotlight honors Wanda Galarza from Home Care Assistance of Puerto Rico.  One of the most rewarding scenarios for a Client Care Manager is to work with a caregiver who is eager to expand his or her skill set, views challenging cases as important learning opportunities and desires to form long-lasting and meaningful relationships with clients.  When Wanda came to our office looking for a job as a caregiver, we were keen to hire her given her range of experience and excitement the caregiving profession. That was almost a year ago; since then, Wanda has been a wonderful asset to our team and a great source of joy for the clients with whom she has worked. She has always been willing to take on a case, no matter how challenging. She has the ability and the willingness to do whatever it takes to provide the best level of care for her clients to ensure their comfort and safety; her care is marked by compassion and dedication.  Wherever Wanda goes, she receives extremely positive feedback from the clients and their families.

Less than a month ago we received a call from a relative who needed a caregiver to provide companionship and care for family member taking a seven day cruise from the United States to Puerto Rico.  Immediately we thought of Wanda and, as always, she did not hesitate to accept.  She spent eight days as a live-in caregiver for this client and both Wanda and the client found the experience highly enjoyable.

Thank you Wanda, your unwavering work ethic and dedication to the quality of life of aging adults is an inspiration to us all!