Foods to Avoid: These Actually Make You Hungrier!

We have all heard that a healthy diet and exercise are good for us: they can help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes as we age, and also keep us active and fit for longer. But there is also nothing more frustrating than trying to eat healthy, and always feeling hungry or wanting to snack.

There are certain foods to avoid for weight loss, because they can actually make us feel hungrier, and can cause a desire to snack, which is not good when we are trying to maintain a healthy weight.

1. Salt 

Salt is one of the biggest culprits of overeating and appetite stimulation. Research suggests that salt acts like a mild opiate in the body, causing overeating and weight gain. Because it acts like an opiate, it can cause the brain to crave and withdrawal from salt, which causes us to fixate on wanting a salty snack. Salt also makes you feel thirsty, which can lead to people reaching for sugary sodas or fruit drinks to quench their thirst.

Alternative: Knowing that salt causes cravings and makes you want more, see if you can fix this problem by simply avoiding those salty snacks! Don’t open the bag of salty chips or nuts, or don’t even keep them in the house. If you have a salty meal, pair it with a protein to help cut the cravings, and drink water instead of a soda or juice.

2. Refined Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

Refined sugars and artificial sweeteners such as fructose can wreak havoc on your body by causing inflammation and increased hunger. Why are sweet treats so bad for us? It’s because when you eat artificial sugars and sweeteners, your brain’s reward pathways are satisfied, meaning that you crave more sugar and don’t feel full.

Alternative: Natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, agave, and dates are a good way to sweeten things using natural sweeteners so that our bodies recognize when we are full. However, these still aren’t the most healthy option and should be eaten as a rare treat.

3. White Flour

Refined flour (white flour) is devoid of nutrients, so you have to eat more of it to feel full. Things made out of white flour also have a high glycemic index which means that they are quickly digested and converted to sugar in our bodies, releasing a huge rush of insulin all at once. Studies show that increases in insulin in the body create an increase in hunger, food intake, and enjoyment of sweet tastes.

Alternative: Try whole grains in your pastas and breads, and use almond or coconut flour as a substitute when baking. Whole grains have more fiber and nutrients and are more filling naturally. If you have to eat white flour, mix it with a protein, or some beans to promote fullness.

4. Alcohol

Alcohol is converted to sugar in our bodies, and alcoholic drinks are very high in calories, so why do you end up hungry after drinking them? One problem is that alcohol decreases your defenses. A study published in Health Psychology noted after drinking liquor, study participants lost their inhibitions, and ate more than they had planned.

Alternative: Try sparkling water or go for a wine spritzer to cut the alcohol content. If you do drink, make sure you don’t do it on an empty stomach, to reduce the chance you’ll lose control and get “snack-happy”

5. MSG

A flavor-enhancer best known as a Chinese food additive, MSG is also found in other foods you’d never suspect such as chicken nuggets, processed meats, canned soups and more.

A study published in Obesity found that eating MSG may be associated with an increased risk of being overweight, independent of physical activity and total energy intake. Why? Another study suggests that MSG actually damages the brain’s regulation of appetite.

Alternative: Ask at restaurants whether there is MSG in the food. Also, check ingredient labels on packaged foods. MSG may be listed as hydrolyzed protein, autolyzed yeast, glutamic acid and yeast extract, according to the FDA.

6. Processed Foods

Cakes, chips, pizza, chocolate. What do these have in common besides the fact that they are yummy? They often have a high glycemic load, which causes your blood sugar to spike and then crash. This crash makes people crave foods more intensely, especially high sugar and fat foods. Our brains also identify these foods highly in the pleasure center, meaning when we see these foods again, we are likely to crave them.

Alternative: Work on identifying foods that are less processed, but that you really like, such as mango with Greek yogurt. Then make sure you are eating regular meals, and allow yourself one or two snacks composed of these high-quality foods that you enjoy, so you don’t feel deprived of tasty treats.

7. Juice

There is a lot of sugar in juice, so again, your blood sugar level goes way up and the crashes, leaving you hungrier than when you started.

Alternative: Eat the fruit whole so you get the nutrients and fiber, which are more filling.

Bottom Line

Overall, be aware of your cravings. Think before you eat. What are you in the mood for? Don’t just grab something. Are you in the mood for something hot or cold, crunchy or creamy? Don’t just stand in front of the fridge tasting things. Calories can really add up that way without you feeling like you had a satisfying meal.

If you need additional information, or would like to schedule a free in-home consultation to discuss your family’s in-home care needs, contact us today at 1-844-505-0004. American In-Home Care refers qualified and compassionate care providers that can help with many services, including Companion Care, Personal Care, and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care.

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Source: Levine, Beth “7 Foods That Make You Hungrier.” Next Avenue. March 28, 2016. 

 

How To Lose Weight As You Age

Nearly one-third of the population in the United States is obese. This is a scary statistic, especially given the known health problems associated with being overweight, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even some cancers.

Adults age 40 and over make up more than 40% of that statistic, and are at a higher risk for becoming overweight because of changes in the body as it ages. Hormones play a big role in the development of body fat, and unfortunately for both men and women, our hormones change naturally as we age, and can result in putting on extra un-wanted pounds that can lead to major health concerns.

Blame Your Hormones

Whether you’re a man or a woman, your hormones are going to make it easier to gain weight, and harder to lose weight as you age. Women will experience changes in estrogen levels during menopause that will decrease their resting metabolic rate. This means that they will burn less calories while at rest, which can lead to an in crease in body fat. This also means that any weight put on during or after menopause will be more difficult to lose.

Because menopause is a drastic and rapid change in women’s hormones, body fat content and metabolism are affected more dramatically than in men. However, men still experience a big shift in their hormone balance as they age, with a decrease in the production of testosterone. This change is more gradual and can happen over more than a decade, and it results in less muscle mass, and a decrease in resting metabolic rate and calorie consumption during exercise. This means that the same exercises men performed when they were younger now burn fewer calories.

It is harder to lose weight as you age, and it is even more difficult for women than men because men have more lean muscle than women, meaning men can shed pounds faster and easier than women can. This can be disheartening for women that are trying to lose weight with a male partner, but just because it is more difficult, doesn’t mean it is impossible, and because of the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight as we age, it is important to persevere.

Solutions to Lose Weight As You Age

It is important to let go of the idea that you are inevitably going to be heavier when you’re older. Even though hormonal changes will make it more of a challenge, you can maintain a good weight and live and healthier lifestyle if you implement a healthy lifestyle and diet.

So what can you do?

Plain and simple, you will have to amp-up your exercise routine, eat less, and pay attention to what you eat. If you don’t already have an exercise plan in place, get started on one and gradually increase your training until you are doing 45 minutes of cardio 4 times per week, and some form of strength training 3 times per week. An exercise plan like this will help you lose pounds, and also increase metabolism and muscle mass.

To lose weight, you will also need to eat less, consuming less calories than you are burning each day. This means amping up your activity level and eating less at the same time. Also pay attention to what you are eating – if you fill up on lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grains, you will feel full and won’t need to consume as many calories. Avoid eating calorie-dense foods such as processed and fried foods, and sweets, which are also lacking in nutrients and bad for your overall health. Try to avoid unnecessary snacking, especially at night when your metabolism is slowed down. Instead of snacking, drink a glass of water or hot herbal tea to satisfy hunger and quench thirst.

The best course you can take is to pay more attention to your diet, and to be more responsible when it comes to avoiding extra calories throughout the day. However, it is also important to make regular trips to your doctor as you age. Doctors should be checking men for abnormally low testosterone levels, and both men and women should get tested for insulin resistance, which can occur as we age, and can result in elevated blood sugar and added abdominal fat.

If you need additional information, or would like to schedule a free in-home consultation to discuss your family’s in-home care needs, contact us today at 1-800-952-3881. Whitsyms Nursing Service refers qualified and compassionate care providers that can help with many services, including Companion Care, Personal Care, and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care.

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Source: Melone, Linda. “The Best Ways to Lose Weight Over 50.” Next Avenue. Mar 23, 16. 

Tips to Build A Beneficial Doctor-Patient Relationship

A Comprehensive Partnership With Your Physician: A Patient’s Responsibility

By Marjorie Marcus, MSW

In the past, doctors took the lead and patients typically followed without question. These days, a good doctor-patient relationship is a partnership. So here is what you can do to make your physician visits as productive and effective as possible.

Create a list before your appointment. This will make it easier to fully cover what it is that brought you to your doctor, and ensure that you do not forger any problems or issues you want to discuss. The list should include the following information:

A list of symptoms

This list should include, but not limited to, aches and pains, trouble sleeping, anxiety, moods. Are you sad all the time? Are you more confused lately? This list ensures that you give your doctor an accurate account of what is occurring in your life, mentally and physically. Include when these issues started, how often and how long they last, what makes them better or worse. Be sure to explain how these issues affect your daily activities.

A list of your medications

ALL medications should be listed; non-prescription, herbal remedies, vitamins, even eye drops should be included on this list. Better yet, bring your medications to your appointment. Include dosage, how often and times of day you take these medications. Make sure to note any side effects.

An outline of your daily activities

Be honest when discussing these activities. What do you enjoy doing? How often do you exercise? Do you smoke and/or drink? Describe your sex life. How do you sleep? What and how often do you eat?

Describe any life changes

Examples of these are divorce, death of a loved one (including pets), or a change in living arrangements. These life changes can cause stress, and stress affects our health.

This comprehensive approach of sharing complete information is key to developing a solid doctor-patient relationship. By being open, honest and detailed about your medical and personal condition, you and your doctor will be working together to formulate the comprehensive care plan you desire.

Written by Marjorie Marcus, MSW, a Client Care Liaison for American In-Home Care. Originally published in The Villager’s Voices Publication, Palm Coast, FL. Sept. 2015

Contact Whitsyms today at 1-800-952-3881 for your free, in-home consultation. We will work with you to match the best care provider and determine the right care options for you and your family.

Are There Real Health Benefits of Laughter?

“Laughter is the best medicine.” That old adage has been passed around for years, but is there any truth to it?

Recent research has found that the effects of a good laugh can reduce stress and pain, boost the immune system, provide social connections and make people generally happier. Reasons like this could explain why we see laughter clubs, Laughter Yoga studios, and institutions like the Laughter Wellness Institute becoming more popular; they are part of the movement to formally introduce laughter into people’s lives. This movement has also brought a surge of laughter therapy into senior living facilities in an effort to boost social interaction and happiness among older adults.

Health Benefits of Laughter

Laughter has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress, and change us physiologically, making us more relaxed. However, researchers aren’t sure whether the health benefits of laughter are caused by the physical act of laughing, or the understanding that people who laugh are more likely to have a positive attitude and good social connections, both traits shown to improve longevity. Either way, laughing has been shown to have many positive effects on the body, and it’s a fun and easy way to improve overall health.

Laughter can increase your health in the short term by stimulating organs such as the heart, lungs and muscles, increasing blood flow and oxygenation of the cells. This improves circulation, which helps soothe tension in the muscles of the body, resulting in a nice, relaxed feeling for up to 45 minutes after, and improving sleeping habits. Over the long term, laughing regularly can help improve your immune system by producing neuropeptides and infection-fighting antibodies that help fight stress and other serious illnesses. Laughing also helps relieve pain and improves overall mood, lessening depression and anxiety, increasing social connections, and making you feel healthier and happier.

Benefits for Seniors

Laughter is good for anyone, no matter what age. However, recent studies have shown that the laughter is especially beneficial for seniors because laughter therapy is well-suited for aging bodies. Laughter exercises are very low-impact, requiring only use of your mouth, and gentle movement of the arms and legs. Laughter is also good for combatting depression in older adults, which is common due to loss of loved ones, changes in health, and feelings of isolation.

Therapeutic approaches to laughter such as Laughter Wellness and Laughter Yoga are a type of complementary medicine for seniors that can help keep them in good health and good moods. The exercises are low-impact, well tolerated, and easily adaptable to all levels of cognitive, sensory and motor abilities. Best of all: It’s fun!

Benefits of laughter for seniors:

  1. Increases cognitive function: Degeneration of brain cells makes it difficult for many seniors to understand and process humor.  Laughter therapy that relies on laughing alone rather than understanding humor is ideal for seniors to help them reap the many benefits of laughter to improve their health and well-being . As little as one hour of practice per week has been shown to increase memory and cognitive function. People with dementia and the onset of Alzheimer’s have also shown remarkable improvement with laughter therapy.
  2. Decreases feelings of isolation: It is common for seniors, both in their own homes and in facilities,  to experience feelings of isolation. Often they do not have much contact with friends or family members, and are in need of meaningful human contact. Laughter therapy is useful because laughing together fosters communication and can greatly improve cooperation and empathy between people of different ages and backgrounds. Laughing in a group means everyone can join in and develop a sense of belonging, giving seniors that much needed feeling of closeness and bonding.
  3. Reduces physical illness: Lack of oxygen in the cells is a common reason for frequent illness. Therapeutic laughing can help people to laugh comfortably for extended periods of time as a form of exercise, significantly increasing their supply of oxygen and circulation. This has been shown to have many health benefits for seniors, including decreasing stress related diseases, reducing chronic pain, and controlling blood pressure.
  4. Improves mobility: A sedentary lifestyle, illness and lack of physical exercise cause the muscles and limbs to stiffen, which leads to immobility, pain and aches. Physical fitness stemming from laughter is beneficial because when you laugh, all your body systems are affected in a positive manner. It is particularly important for seniors as well as people who are bedridden or in a wheelchair.
  5. Lessens stress and depression: Many factors put seniors at risk for depression, and frustration and a loss of physical and mental health is often the result. Laughter helps to reduce stress and generate a positive attitude, combatting feelings of depression. Laughing together in a group also helps to boost self-esteem and overcome feelings of insecurity.

If you can’t join a formal laughter class or therapy session, there are ways to prompt laughter on your own. For example, watch a funny movie, go to a comedy club, play with a pet, or organize a game night with friends and family. With all of the noted health benefits of laughter, let your silly side shine, and find any excuse to strike up a good laugh.

If you or a loved one are experiencing feelings of isolation, anxiety or difficulty while at home, consider the benefits of an in-home care provider to assist with safety and companionship at home. Whitsyms Nursing Service refers qualified, screened and credentialed care providers that perform Companion Care, Personal Care, and Live-In Care. Contact us at 1-800-952-3881 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Education: Helpful Videos

Memory loss is scary. The thought of not being able to remember important information, life events, and loved ones can naturally cause anxiety and worry. Unfortunately, the time usually comes when we start asking ourselves if we, or someone we know, is experiencing symptoms of memory loss or dementia. In this situation, truly understanding dementia is important, and the best course of action is to arm yourself with knowledge and get as much practical advice as possible.

One of the best resources we have come across is the FreeDem Films. These short animated films answer important questions about dementia, such as “Am I Getting Dementia?” and “What’s the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?” Not only do they answer important questions, they are also clear and easy to follow, making these videos a valuable resource for understanding dementia.

If you or your loved one are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s and need professional care, Whitsyms Nursing Service can help. We always refers qualified, credentialed and screened care providers that can assist you in the comfort and safety of your own home, and can even refer nurses that specialize in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Contact us today at 1-800-952-3881 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss what care options are right for you and your family.

Reverse Mortgages for Elder Care

As our loved ones start to get older, we want to do all we can to help them age comfortably. Often times this means caring for them in the safety and comfortable environment of their own home. However,  if and when there comes a time that you need a professional hourly or live-in caregiver to take care of your loved one, the issue of cost can certainly be a concern, especially as we realize that our loved ones might need more care than they have allotted for in personal savings.

So what can you do? Accessing home equity to pay for in-home care through a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loan, commonly known as a reverse mortgage, is one possibility. Below is a simple guide to understanding how these loans work and how paying for elder care with reverse mortgages is possible.

What are reverse mortgages?

Reverse mortgage loans are a popular way for seniors who own homes to turn part of their home equity into cash. The money from this type of loan can be used to pay for anything, including in-home care services

Will my loved one get enough money to pay for care?

This questions is dependent on many factors. When trying to determine how much the loan would be worth, you should consider the amount of equity that the borrower (home owner) has in the home, the age of the borrower, current interest rates, the home’s appraised value, and the borrower’s mortgage balance.

What type of reverse mortgage is best for my aging parents?

The federally-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is a popular reverse mortgage because it is protected by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). This means that the borrower is protected from ever owing more than the value of the house when sold. Also, with this type of loan, the home is the only asset that can be used to repay the loan.

How are the proceeds from the reverse mortgage paid?

Reverse mortgages are flexible in their payment options. Borrowers can get the funds through a lump sum, monthly installments, a line of credit, or a combination of the three.

Can my loved one stay in their home if they get a reverse mortgage?

If your loved one gets a reverse mortgage on their home, they will be able to stay as long as they comply with loan obligations.  These obligations include the borrower living in the home as their primary residence, and not leaving the home for more than 12 consecutive months.  They are also responsible for paying property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and home maintenance.

What happens to the family home?
If your loved one leaves the home for any reason, any part of the loan that hasn’t yet been disbursed remains as equity in the home. The reverse mortgage becomes due and the heirs are given a reasonable time to sell the home. If the home is sold, the loan balance is paid off from the sale of the home, and any remaining balance will go to the estate.

To determine if a reverse mortgage is right for your and your loved one, take the time to research reputable reverse mortgage lenders who are members of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association. Next, speak with a reverse mortgage professional who will take the time to understand your loved one’s specific situation, calculate estimated proceeds you could receive from a reverse mortgage loan, and provide information on loan risks and benefits.

Once you have determined if a reverse mortgage is right for you and your family, you can look into care options for your loved one. Whitsyms refers qualified and credentialed hourly and live-in care providers that perform a wide variety of services to help your loved one age in place. Call us today at 1-800-952-3881 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the best options for your loved one.

 

Physical Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. With statistics like this, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms so that you can get the proper help and treatment for a loved one that is suffering. Because of the unfortunate commonness of the disease, most people recognize the usual cognitive symptoms – memory loss, inability to remember names or places, difficulty speaking, and mood swings – however, the physical signs are not as well known, but recognizing them is equally, if not more important to catching Alzheimer’s in its early stages.

The physical signs of Alzheimer’s Disease are important to recognize because often the cognitive symptoms are much more discreet and hard to determine, especially if your loved one is naturally forgetful, or if you aren’t able to spend time with them regularly. By becoming familiar with the physical signs, it is easier to recognize Alzheimer’s, even in its early stages, allowing you to get your loved one the help they need as soon as possible.

1. Repeating Actions

Keep an eye out to see if your loved one is repeating unusual actions. You might be able to carry on a coherent conversation with them, but repeating actions such as opening and closing the refrigerator repeatedly, aimlessly walking back and forth between rooms, or continually looking for an item that they have already found might alert you that they are suffering from Alzheimer’s.

2. Wearing The Same Outfit

If you notice that your loved one has been wearing the same outfit the past several times that you have seen them, this could be symptomatic of Alzheimer’s. Another sign associated with the disease is lack of personal hygiene – including doing laundry – either from forgetfulness or apathy. So if you notice that they haven’t changed their clothes or dressed for the occasion, especially when that is uncharacteristic, this is an alerting factor.

3. Unexplained Bruising

This is an especially important physical sign to be aware of, especially if you aren’t with your loved one every day. If when you see them and they have fresh bruises and cuts, and can’t remember where or how they got them, this could be symptomatic of Alzheimer’s. Common cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s are sundowning and wandering, both of which are very dangerous. These habits could be where the bruises and cuts are coming from, and it is important to get under control so that your loved one doesn’t get hurt or taken advantage of.

4. Loss Of Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are what is required to hold on to small objects and make precise movements, and are affected by adverse brain activity, such as a stroke.  This is particularly noticeable at dinnertime when your loved one is trying to grip the utensils. If they are having a very difficult time grasping or holding on to these, that could be a sign that something isn’t right.

5. Stressed or Pained Physical or Facial Expressions

Take a moment to notice your loved one’s expressions when you are with them. Facial expressions such as frowning, looking frightened, grimacing, keepeing eyes tightly closed, or rapidly blinking could all be signs of Alzheimer’s and physical and emotional pain that are associated with it. Physical expressions such as rigid body posture, fidegting, rocking, or changes in walking patterns are also signs of this.

Because Alzheimer’s disease is easiest to manage when it is detected early, it is important to recognize these symptoms and to be able to get your loved one help as soon as you might expect something isn’t right. Do not hesitate to call your doctor, as they will be able to help you get all the resources that you need.

If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, hiring a respite, hourly, or live-in care provider to help your loved one be comfortable and safe in their home is a great idea, as taking on sole caregiving duties can be taxing on personal lives and relationships.

Whitysms refers qualified nurses, Home Health Aides, Certified Nursing Assistants, and companions that can help you and your loved one by specializing in Alzheimer’s care and other services. Contact us today at 1-800-952-3881 for a no-obligation consultation to determine what care options are best for your family.

Signs of Elderly Depression

One in five Americans aged 65 and older are affected by depression. That means over 20 percent of the aging population is affected, making recognizing signs of elderly depression in the elderly increasingly important.

Although the rate of depression in the elderly population is relatively high, that does not mean that it is a normal part of aging. Depression can affect anyone, at any age, but there are several risk factors that put older adults at higher risk.

Risk Factors For Depression In Older Adults

  1. Difficult life events and changes in personal circumstances
  2. Losing loved ones and friends
  3. Loneliness and isolation
  4. Lack of social support
  5. Pain and physical illness
  6. Being a victim of crime or abuse
  7. Financial crisis
  8. Family history or past episodes of depression
  9. Moving accommodations
  10. Alcohol abuse
  11. Over medicating

Recognizing the risk factors for older adults allows you to realize when a loved one might be at risk for depression, and to be able to prevent possible negative repercussions. As the risk factors vary with different age groups, it is important to be familiar with the factors for older adults specifically. Elderly people also display symptoms of depression differently than younger adults, so it is important to recognize age-specific symptoms of depression as well.

Symptoms Of Depression In Older Adults

  1. Psychotic Symptoms
    1. Delusions
    2. Auditory hallucinations
    3. Catatonic features
  2. Cognitive Symptoms
    1. Disorientation
    2. Memory loss
    3. Poor concentration
    4. Easily distracted
    5. Apathy
  3. Behavioral Symptoms
    1. Feeling melancholy
    2. Anorexia or excessive eating
    3. Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns
    4. Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
    5. Thoughts of suicide
    6. Anergia
    7. Inappropriate feelings of guilt
    8. Pyschomotor retardation
    9. Note: sometimes medications can cause some of these same symptoms

Depression is a serious illness, and whether it affects people young or old, the condition’s many symptoms make it very difficult for the individual to overcome it, or find a way out on their own. While depression affects around 6 million Americans aged 65 and over, only about 10 percent actually receive treatment. Perhaps this is because risk factors and symptoms are different in older adults and make recognizing the disease more difficult. Another factor could be the fact that seniors were raised in a generation when the disease was a stigma, and are afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.

Given the fact that depression can increase the risk for other serious diseases in older adults, it is important to make every effort to recognize and help get treatment for a loved one suffering. If you are caring for a depressed elderly person, you can make a difference by supporting them emotionally and making a point to be involved in their lives. Although you might not have the answer to fix their situations, sometimes just listening and giving support, companionship and love is enough to make a difference.

However, if you feel any concern, don’t hesitate to contact a medical doctor for help and support. Also, if you are concerned about your loved one feeling isolated or lonely, and you don’t have the chance to be around as much as you would like, you could consider a caregiver. Whitsyms refers care providers that can perform many useful duties, and provide companionship and excitement for your loved one, so you don’t have to worry. Call toll-free at 1-800-952-3881 to schedule a free consultation to discuss all of your options and find a caregiver that is right for you and your loved one.

 

Recognizing Caregiver Depression

Does your mother have enough food? Does she have clean laundry? Is she eating nutritious meals? Has she been wandering? Is she safe? Does she have her medications? Are her finances in order? Who will set up her doctors appointments? Who will drive her?

Up to 50 percent of caregivers providing Alzheimer’s and dementia care suffer from caregiver depression in some way – developing major depressive illnesses and stress related to added duties and worry, according to a doctor with the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco. The caregiver becomes so overburdened with responsibilities, duties and worries that they aren’t sure what to do next. This feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do, especially when it concerns a loved one, can lead to anxiety and eventually clinical depression.

With 80 million baby boomers getting older and needing more medical care, and estimates stating that there will be 7 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease by 2025, the concern becomes about the costs of care – financial costs as well as the mental and emotional costs on the caregiver.

Signs of Caregiver Depression

Providing dementia care and Alzheimer’s care for a loved one can lead to feelings of stress, guilt, anger, sadness and isolation. Depression can affect caregivers in different ways and at different times, so it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms. It is common for depression to set in immediately after the loved one has been diagnosed with the disease, and also as the disease progresses and diminished mental capabilities start to become apparent. Signs of depression include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not cease with treatment
  • Thoughts of suicide, or suicide attempts

If you are concerned that you might be depressed, see your doctor as soon as possible. If depression is left untreated, not only can it lead to emotional and physical problems, it can also affect the quality of care you’re able to provide the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

What is the solution?

Even though providing Alzheimer’s and dementia care can be difficult, caring for loved ones can truly be very rewarding if managed correctly. It is important while providing care that the caregiver takes time to his or herself  to participate in enjoyable activities  and hobbies. Another way to help cope with the added responsibilities and stress is to try keeping a journal to express both positive and negative emotions. It is also important to talk to your friends and family and let them know when you might need some assistance.

There is also major research being conducted that aims to reduce both the tangible and intangible costs of dementia care. The University of California, San Francisco, along with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is beginning a $10 million study funded by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. Researchers plan to develop a dementia “ecosystem,” which aims to reduce the cost of caring for the growing number of dementia patients and to ease the strain on caregivers.

A handful of tech start-ups have also been working to create technological solutions to ease the burden on caregivers. In San Francisco, Lively markets a system of networked sensors and a watch that can pick up on activity around the house and let family members or caregivers know if there is a worrisome change.

With increasing technology targeted to help ease the burden of Alzheimer’s and dementia care, caregiver responsibilities and worries will be lessened, and depression will likely decrease as a result. However, in the meantime it is important to find outlets for emotions realted to providing care, and to seek professional help when necessary. Respite care is an affordable, reliable option that can provide the additional support to keep you from feeling isolated and overwhelmed. American In-Home Care offers respite care along with other live-in elderly care solutions. Contact us today to set up a free consultation and discuss what care options are right for you.

Travel Care For Alzheimer’s Disease

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it often feels like that is the end of life as you know it. But being a caregiver for someone with this disease doesn’t mean that you have to give up traveling, nor does it mean your loved one can no longer enjoy getting out of the house. Traveling is still possible in the early stages of the disease, it just requires advanced planning and understanding travel care for Alzheimer’s Disease to ensure everyone involved is safe and happy.

Safety is always the number one consideration when planning a trip with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s. Follow the steps below to help plan an Alzheimer’s-safe vacation so that you can both relax and enjoy the trip.

1. Have a plan in place for wandering.

A familiar routine and environment are comforting to someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, and because traveling disrupts this, it is more likely that anxiety and wandering could happen. That is why it is crucial to never leave your loved one alone, be prepared, and have a plan in place.

Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association before your trip and register with their Safe Return Program or  Comfort Zone monitoring system, being sure to complete the process entirely before you leave. If a situation arises while you are there, have a plan in place and don’t hesitate to contact the local authorities.

3. Keep comfort in mind when traveling.

Have comfort items such as pillows, snacks and water readily available when you travel. This includes any kind of transportation including bus, train, car or airplane. If you decide to fly, schedule flights early in the day, and choose to fly non-stop if you can. Put medications in your carry-on bag, along with any other necessities you might need in case your flight is delayed. And  consider bringing a puzzle book or something similar for your loved one to hold on to.

3. During your trip, maintain a daily routine as much as possible.

Even in a new environment, having a regular routine will lessen the confusion for your loved one. Plan on waking up at the same time every morning and going to bed at the same time in the evenings. Also eat meals at the same time during the day. Create a plan for your days, organizing the days with structured and pleasant activities that you both can enjoy. Plan to see places and incorporate activities you know they enjoy, and make sure to allow for flexibility within your daily routine for spontaneous activities.

4. Consider respite care while you travel.

If you feel that traveling with your loved one would be too difficult or too disruptive to them, consider hiring a temporary respite caregiver to come to their home. This will allow you the chance to take a break from your caregiving responsibilities, which can be crucial for your own health and happiness, and it will give your loved one a chance to  experience quality care and meaningful activities, making their “staycation” fun and safe as well.

Whitsyms offers Respite Care and special Alzheimer’s Care services, ensuring your loved one will be in the best hands, and will always be safe and happy. We offer free, no obligation consultations and assessments. Contact us today at 1-800-952-3881!