Category Archives: Family Caregiver

Why are my parents suddenly so stubborn?

The Big “S” word.  It comes up more often than you would think and for good reason.  Adult children who are in any phase of caregiving for their parents, even in the very beginning stages share their frustrations of their parents suddenly being stubborn.   Why is this happening?

Let’s think about the role reversal that is taking place, either gradually over time or suddenly due to a  change in physical or cognitive health.  This role reversal leads to confusion and is never a natural shift for adult children, spouses or other loved ones.  As difficult as this is for the caregiver it much harder for the care receiver.

What is actually happening and why does stubborn behavior from even the most agreeable of people send shock waves through the family?  Imagine if you will, what it might feel like to witness yourself the lack of independence taking place in your own life.  It might be in the form of having someone telling you that it’s time to stop driving, that someone may need to start helping you bathe, “helping” pay your bills or accompany you to regular doctor visits.

It doesn’t matter what the level is at which children, spouses or others find themselves in the position to help out, all of these point to one huge signal to the one needing assistance -loss of independence, decision making and privacy!  For older adults that have had a lifetime of child-rearing, careers, active lives of giving and nurturing others, imagine what it feels like to have someone ( a loved one no less!) tell you that it’s time to turn in the keys.

Like all behaviors, there is an underlying reason.  Underneath a stubborn older adult is someone clinging to what independence they can shelter for themselves, the fear of what tomorrow will bring,  and sadness for what they are leaving behind.

As families struggle with this stubborn syndrome, please step into the shoes of the person you are trying to help.  Kindness, gentleness and empathy go a long way in dealing with difficult life changes.  Family meetings that include the care receiver (if this is possible) is always advised.

Above all, caregivers should be educated and seek help from others who are traveling the same road.  Be prepared for this stubborn behavior to be a new normal, but also know that with the right approach, you can get through the hurdles together and get through this journey with strength and grace.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  A passionate advocate for older adults and those that care for them, Pam is a dynamic speaker, trainer and facilitator and has worked with thousands of caregivers, older adults and hundreds of organizations to help others through the caregiving journey.  

www.AGEucate.com

 

Can we rebuild the brain? Neuroplasticity and Brain/Body Fitness

(Society for Neuroscience) The discovery that the human brain can produce new cells in adulthood offers just one example of how adaptable the brain is throughout life. With this knowledge, researchers are investigating how normal aging as well as neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease affect that adaptability, and how we can maintain healthy brain function as our brains age.  So what is neuroplasticity?

(Brainworksneurotherapy.com/uk)

Our brains are constantly being shaped by experience. Most of us have very different behaviours and thoughts today than we did 20 years ago. This shift is neuroplasticity in action; changes in brain structure and organisation as we experience, learn, and adapt.

With every repetition of a thought or emotion, we reinforce a neural pathway – and with each new thought, we begin to create a new way of being. These small changes, frequently enough repeated, lead to changes in how our brains work.

Neuroplasticity is the ‘muscle building’ part of the brain; the things we do often we become stronger, and what we don’t use fades away. That is the physical basis of why making a thought or action over and over again increases its power. Over time, it becomes automatic; a part of us. We literally become what we think and do.

Neuroplasticity is at work throughout life. Connections within the brain are constantly becoming stronger or weaker, depending on what is being used. Younger people change easily; their brains are very plastic. As we age change doesn’t come as easily; the brain loses some of its plasticity and we become more fixed in how we think, learn, and perceive.

Since the brain is pivotal to all we think and do, by harnessing neuroplasticity we can improve everything we do and think.

We know that exercise for the body is critical to maintaining bone and muscular structure, cardiovascular health and blood flow. Now we know these same benefits can be applied to the brain, and that “remolding” in our brain can take place with throughout life, even into “old” age.  This science is opening new doors to exciting research and hope for  keeping our brains healthy as we age,   and even helping those with neurodegenerative conditions such a Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, whose mission lies in creating transformative change in an aging world.  AGE-u-cate’s newest partnership with Ageless Grace® – 21 Simple Tools for Lifelong Comfort and Ease™️ is their ongoing commitment to helping people of all ages with a groundbreaking body/brain  fitness program.  

www.AGEucate.com/Ageless Grace

Boomers Optimistic about Their Future – Until They Need Care

A survey form the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today concluded that most Boomers are optimistic about their future.  That is until you ask them about needing help as they age.  When it comes to the issues surrounding who will provide caregiving when they no longer are able, optimism turns to fear.

The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a New York-based nonprofit that supports the home care industry, has created a new campaign to address and solve the chronic shortage of health care workers in the United States.
The “60 Caregiver Issues” campaign points out the country needs five million caregivers in the next seven years in order to keep pace with the growing demand from a rapidly aging society. The first issue briefing, The Future of Long-Term Care, lists eight signs the shortage in paid caregivers is getting worse. Those signs are:

  1. The population of older adults in the U.S. continues to rapidly age, igniting demand for long-term services and supports.
  2. A sizable growth in elders and people with disabilities means a growing demand for paid caregivers: home health aides, nursing assistants and personal care aides.
  3. The primary labor pool for direct care workers isn’t keeping pace with national trends, raising concerns about the broad appeal of this occupation.
  4. Direct care workers are leaving the occupation in droves.
  5. The workforce shortage in paid caregivers might be affecting areas of the country differently.
  6. Policymakers, long-term care providers and the general public are hampered by the lack of available data and research on the direct care workforce.
  7. Home care providers and other long-term care entities cite the workforce shortage as a top concern for delivering quality care.
  8. The shortage in workers extends beyond long-term care—and is garnering public attention.

Now let’s look at the state of family caregivers.  A report by the Public Policy Institute (2013) researched the statistics for family caregivers, who provide the majority of long-term services and supports (LTSS).

The Caregiver Support Ratio is defined as the number of potential family caregivers (mostly adult children) aged 45 – 64 for each person aged 80 and older – those most likely to need LTSS.  The caregiver support ratio is used to estimate the availability of family caregivers during the next few decades.

In 2010, the caregiver support ratio was more than 7 potential caregivers for every person in the high-risk years of 80-plus.

In 2030, the ratio is projected to decline sharply to 4 to 1;  and is expected to further fall to less than 3 to 1 in 2050.

Steep rising demand as the population rapidly ages, combined with professional caregiver shortages and shrinking families requires more than policy action.  Every stakeholder (and that takes in to account ALL of us) must take it upon themselves to be better educated on aging issues, plan for their future and make healthy aging a priority.   Just as healthcare has created the need for us to be our own advocates for our health,  we must certainly take this same position with decisions that we make as we age and may eventually need care.

http://www.nahc.org/NAHCReport/nr170213_1/

www.AGEucate.com

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and passionate advocate for older adults and those that care for them.  

When Disaster Strikes – Are you Prepared to Care for Your Loved One?

The devastation we are witnessing in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is a reminder that we must all be prepared to care for a loved one, elderly or  disabled neighbor or friend when disaster strikes. Here is a list of 6 basic yet vital precautions that everyone should have in place, especially in the event of a natural or manmade disaster:

Communications Plan

How will you communicate with immediate and extended family members in the event of an emergency?  These discussions should include how to get in touch with neighbors, friends, a loved one’s church or other support systems that are in place.

If your loved one lives in a community setting,  discuss what response and evacuation plans they have in place, including their designated emergency shelters.

Prepare a comprehensive Healthcare and Medication Record that includes but is not limited to:

A healthcare record lists chronic illness, allergies, immunizations, disabilities, doctors and hospitals and emergency contact information (names, relationship and cell phone numbers of family members and/or primary caregivers).

Families can maintain this list on a spreadsheet and share electronically with family members, but also know that a hard copy should be accessible to first responders in  the elderly person’s home.  Placing a decal on the refrigerator door is advisable with all information kept in a baggie or vial inside the refrigerator.  Vialoflife.com is an excellent project and their website has valuable forms, tips and resources.

Have an emergency/escape plan in place

Talk with your loved one about what to do in case of emergency.  Write out simple, clear instructions where it is can easily be read.  If your loved one has any level of cognitive impairment and lives independently, a disaster can cause immediate confusion and anxiety.  In this case,  plans should immediately include receiving aid from someone else.

Emergency supply kits

Three days of food and non perishable food items are advisable to include in case of disaster.  Other items recommended include but are not limited to portable, battery powered radio, flashlight, sanitation and hygiene items, clothing, blankets, cell phone and charger, whistle and photocopies of identification, emergency contacts and healthcare/medication records.   If your loved one has any level of cognitive impairment, make sure food items are easy to open, kits are well marked and simple instructions included.

Plan for pets

Find out what veterinarians and pet services are available to shelter animals in emergencies.  Include in personal information phone and contact information of pet services in the area.

Learn CPR and train on using an automated external defibrillator (AED).  These classes are free and can save someone’s life.  Go to www.redcross.org for training information.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those that serve them.  

www.AGEucate.com