Practical Resources on Caring for Older Loved Ones
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Caregiving has so many facets. From daily basic tasks to complex medical care, it quickly becomes clear that caregiving is a complex endeavor. Here are a few topics and resources related to caregiving ranging from how to manage caregiver burnout to tips on how to effectively interact with someone with dementia.

The Heart of Caregiving

For caregivers one of the greatest challenges is learning to be with and face difficult situations, and learning to navigate another person’s challenges. They are practicing and reclaiming the soul of caregiving by ceating connections and putting the heart into how we care for one another. One of the most vibrant and inspiring teachers for caregivers is Frank Ostaseski, who has trained thousands of caregivers around the world. His heart and work are about practicing what is while bringing our whole selves to any situation.

Mr. Ostaseski’s book The Five Invitations is a must read!. This interview he did at The New School at Commonweal, This Vulnerable Human Life, is also worth a watch.

Caregiver Burnout

There are close to 80 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States. They provide care for loved ones, often at great personal expense emotionally, physically, and financially. While caring for a loved one can be a rewarding and enriching experience, it ultimately makes up for the many gaps in our social safety net. Both family and professional caregivers are all too often stressed and overworked. Here is a short article from the Cleveland Clinic about caregiver burnout; what it is, how to spot it, and how you can overcome burnout. This article provides a resource section that lists organizations that work to support caregivers.

Independence and Dementia

Being diagnosed with dementia can be incredibly frustrating to accept and process. Give this diagnosis to an independent person who lives alone and it becomes clear there are some serious issues to address. It can take some time before your older loved one can fully accept a diagnosis of dementia.

There is support for people living alone and resources on how to navigate the early days of a diagnosis. The National Institute of Health is a great resource and an organization that provides multiple levels of information. Tips on Living Alone with Early Stage Dementia offers a good outline of this topic. Along with this idea of promoting independence, is the role of the caregiver and how important it is to foster an environment of independence for your older loved one. Oftentimes all that’s needed is your support and emotional assistance. Increasingly, people are living alone. While this is doable it is vital to create a strong support structure of care. There are people who with the correct support live alone, check out this short video.

Caring for a Person with Dementia

Caring for someone with dementia is challenging for all involved, and each person has different needs and motivations. Caring for an older loved one can be as rewarding and educational as it can be stressful. This TED Talk by Amy O’Rourke a woman who has worked for many years with the elderly is informative and inspiring. The article 9 Types of Issues to Address When Helping Older Parents provides good information on what types of practical care might need to be addressed in setting up a caregiving plan. When it comes to dealing with dementia and the decline of a loved one, it is important to learn a few things about effective communication. Learning Not to Argue is a worthwhile video tutorial with some practical tips.

Dignity in Care

Caregivers are often called on to help with the intimate tasks involved in personal hygiene and dressing. This can be a task as simple as helping a loved one with a coat or sweater to having to assist someone in the entire routine of bathing and dressing. Facing the vulnerability of needing help and accepting it can be daunting. Here is an article from the Social Care for Excellence organization about how to begin to navigate difficult situations that can arise when people with dementia can no longer manage their own hygienic needs. Johns Hopkins Medicine also offers short videos on caring for a loved one with dementia and how to cope with changing levels of ability with your loved one.

Resources

Caregiver burnout

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9225-caregiver-burnout

Independence and Dementia

Article: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/tips-living-alone-early-stage-dementia

Videos:

How to Promote Independence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8UliXksHhI

Living Alone with Dementia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGLBytHHg6Y

Caregiving Frank Ostaseski

Book: https://fiveinvitations.com

This Vulnerable Human Life. The New School at Commonweal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2vTooqJdnY

Caring for an Aging Parent by Amy O’Rourke https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c2grKhiKEw

Learning Not to Argue

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cQ25iA9U68

Article :

https://betterhealthwhileaging.net/what-to-address-when-helping-older-parents/

Dignity in Care: Personal Hygiene

https://www.scie.org.uk/dementia/living-with-dementia/difficult-situations/refusing-help.asp

Personal Hygiene for People with Dementia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y63-qtsfolo

Johns Hopkins on Hygiene

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLU_foo1c4I

About the Author(s)

As a Volunteer Caregiver to the Zen Hospice Project and a Course Manager at the CareGivers Project, Audrey Meinertzhagen is passionate about improving the standards of care for older adults and educating caregivers on the principles of mindfulness and self-care.

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