As people age and grow weaker, it becomes more difficult to perform “simple” tasks such as sitting down, rising up out of a sitting position to stand and even walking. What was once easily done without thought, now becomes a challenge that must be carefully executed to avoid falling. At the same time, these tasks can become a challenge for caregivers who want to assist their loved ones, but can end up harming the care receiver and themselves if they assist inappropriately. Older people and health-compromised individuals who have been hospitalized will often receive occupational therapy following hospitalization to learn how to safely perform simple daily living tasks. Caregivers can ask to be included in the therapy sessions so they can learn how to assist their care receivers appropriately. Caregivers who do not have access to occupational therapists can acquire the information online.READ MORE
The journey through grief is just that – a journey that goes through and not around grief. The feelings that come with loss can be so intense that people prefer to do anything to get past the pain of grief. This means that mourners will suppress their feelings, burying them deep within and pretend that everything is just fine. Actually, this is the worst way to proceed after a loved one has died. There is no way to get around grief as the grief will stay and fester until the mourner does something about it.READ MORE
One of the challenges that many caregivers face is dealing with older loved ones who still want to drive their cars. The good news, according to the latest issue of the AARP Bulletin, is that older drivers (ages 70 and up) today are involved in fewer accidents than their counterparts a generation ago. Yet, as a caregiver, you may wonder if your loved one should continue to drive.READ MORE
Over the past two months, we have looked at several commonly held myths about grieving. One myth that creates a lot of guilt is the idea that a mourner should not ever be angry at the deceased loved one. This myth is truly impractical and unrealistic. It is not unusual or abnormal to be angry. The anger can stem from many things including the loved one’s decision(s) to not take the situation seriously, to not take care of him/herself, to refuse to seek medical assistance, to not follow the doctor’s orders, and to not let the important people in her/his life know what is happening.READ MORE
If you are a caregiver caring for your parent, grandparent or an elderly loved one, you may be concerned with what you can do to help your care receiver remain in his/her home for as long as possible. Most care receivers prefer remaining in their homes as opposed to moving to an assisted living arrangement. However, they may not be healthy enough to continue doing so without support from you and other care providers. One valuable resource for helping elders remain independent is the Area Agency on Aging. This organization features a variety of resources for seniors and caregivers.READ MORE
In the world of grief recovery, a commonly held idea is that a mourner moves through grief in a prescribed set of stages starting with denial and isolation, moving to anger, on to bargaining, then to depression and finally to acceptance. These emotional stages and reactions to grief were studied and identified by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Later research revealed that there is no particular order in which these emotions are experienced. In reality, some mourners do not experience all of the emotions; others experience all the emotions, but in different orders. It is even possible to cycle back and re-experience earlier occurring emotions in the grief journey.READ MORE
AARP is a valuable resource for caregivers. Recognizing that more and more adults are becoming caregivers for family members, they have developed a section of their website with a variety of resources for family caregivers. To check out the resources they offer, go online to www.aarp.org/caregiving. One of their resources includes a meeting for family caregivers entitled "CAREversations".READ MORE
Grieving is a time of experiencing a variety of emotions as one learns to live without the deceased loved one. For months, a mourner may experience sadness, loneliness, remorse, guilt, fear, anxiety, depression and other emotions in addition to having less energy, wanting to sleep a lot or not being able to sleep at all. The world may feel like a deep, dark cave void of life. Fortunately, as time passes, little rays of light and hope begin to penetrate the darkness and the world is no longer such a forbidding place.READ MORE
Caregivers become the eyes, ears and voices for their care receivers as they voice their loved ones’ concerns and make sure that the medical providers understand them. Caregivers also lend their eyes and ears to the medical providers. Because caregivers know more about their loved ones’ situation than the medical providers, it is important that they continuously observe and communicate changes in the care receiver’s physical, mental, behavioral and emotional health.READ MORE
Loss is often associated with caregiving occurring for both the caregiver and the care receiver. As the caregiving journey becomes more intense and approaches full time responsibility, the caregiver begins to lose aspects of the life he/she formerly knew. She/he may no longer have time to work, volunteer, and pursue hobbies and favorite activities. In the case of care receivers who are in declining health, losses can occur at a frequent pace as she/he loses cognitive function, mobility and the ability to handle daily living needs.READ MORE
There are many myths and incorrect notions about grief that can make the grief journey harder than it need be. One common myth is that a person who does not express his/her sorrow for the death of a loved one by crying does not really love or miss her/his loved one.
Each person grieves differently. Some people cry often and for long periods of time. Others may discover that the tears just do not flow. Yet, in both these cases, the degree of mourning may be equally intense. Some individuals have been trained since childhood to not cry no matter what the situation. Even without tears, they feel the loss of their loved ones tremendously.READ MORE
In a recent column, a connection was made between caregiving and grief. Caregivers often experience anticipatory grief as they watch their loved ones decline. It is normal and common for caregivers to become depressed and angry because they do not have control over the situation. It is normal for caregivers to become angry with themselves for not being able to do more, with their loved ones for not cooperating or wanting to get better, with the medical providers for not listening closely enough and even with God for not answering their prayers. As the grip of anticipatory grief grows tighter, the caregiver’s health is at an even greater risk. And, as the caregiver experiences more personal health issues, he/she is no longer able to care for the loved one which creates more anxiety and grief. Starting this month, issues concerning grief will be explored in this column as the columnalternates between providing support for caregivers and support for those who are mourning.
Grief occurs when one experiences a loss. Losses include the death of spouse, children, family members, friends and pets, one’s own declining health, end of relationships, end of employment or change of jobs, destruction or loss of home and even loss of dreams or personal goals. Loss is an inevitable part of life; the journey through loss and its accompanying grief requires patience and time for healing.READ MORE