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Tips for Taking Care of Yourself as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Our thanks to Lydia Chan for this contribution to our blog.

With National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month upon us, it’s the perfect time to reflect on your life as a caregiver. So much of your time is spent tending to the needs of others that it’s all too easy to forget about your own needs as a result. Many caregivers, particularly those who help people with Alzheimer’s, find it difficult to practice the self-care necessary to maintain their health and well-being, which results in them feeling depleted and discouraged on a daily basis.

Whether you’re a caregiver by profession or are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, taking care of yourself is critical. It will not only help you live a thriving life, but it will also leave you with more to give so that you can be a better caregiver. Here’s the good news: Practicing self-care will not be the most challenging thing you’ve ever done. All it takes is a commitment to make small changes and implement healthy habits.

Here are a few practical tips for how you can begin your self-care journey as a caregiver.

 Consider Assisted Living for Your Loved One

This isn’t a fun topic to think about. But at some point, assisted living may be necessary. Depending on the circumstances, it could be the best thing for the well-being of you and your loved one. Not only could it take some of the burdens off of you (the caregiver), but a memory care home can help your loved one maintain their independence, stay active, and engage in community. Such a facility in San Francisco can cost between $2,500 and $15,200 a month.

Eat Well. Get Sleep. Exercise Often.

This is really three tips, but they are all intertwined. Eating a healthy diet can benefit your sleep and provide you with more energy to exercise. Getting enough sleep can help you eat better, and it allows your body to recover, which boosts your exercise performance. And yes, regular exercise promotes sleep and can motivate you to eat better.

Try to eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Create a bedtime routine that helps you get seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night. Find an exercise routine that you enjoy, and try to do it five times a week. If you commit to these changes, it won’t take long for them to become habits, and the benefits will amaze you.

Find a Multivitamin That Helps

As much as eating a healthy diet benefits your overall health, there’s a chance that your body will still be missing nutrients here and there. A bioavailable multivitamin can help provide those nutrients. Along with filling nutrient gaps, taking a multivitamin can result in a healthier gut, skin, hair, and nails. If you take a B vitamin, you will have more energy for a more productive day.

Join a Support Group

Another important way to practice self-care is to find a support group. There are many caregiver support groups around the country — some that are for caregivers in general, and some that are specifically for Alzheimer’s caregivers. By connecting with a group, you will find a listening ear and sound advice from people who have gone and/or are going through the same kind of situation as you are. Support groups can serve as a great reminder that you’re not alone.

In the throes of everyday life as a caregiver, it’s essential that you not neglect your self-care. Consider whether it’s time to move your loved one into a memory care home. Establish healthy eating, sleep, and exercise routines, and take a multivitamin to boost your overall health and well-being. Finally, find a support group that provides you with the companionship you need.

Image via Pexels

Destination Tel Aviv: Entrepreneurship in Israel

Paula Adleman, with Jeff Rosenfeld, Ph.D.

Israel is no amateur when it comes to creating new and revolutionary products.  This powerhouse, nicknamed The Start-Up Nation, is now at the forefront of “The Business of Aging.”  VitalGo’s Total Lift Bed, developed by Israel’s Ohad Paz and Ofer Parezky, is one of the examples of this kind of revolutionary product.  VitalGo’s remarkable bed has already made life safer and easier for older people in Israel and many countries around the world.   

Upright Tilting Functionality

degreesThe Total Lift Bed (TLB) has a unique, “…upright tilting functionality” (UHS, 2015:1), which helps patients sit up, stand and start moving away from the safety of the patient’s bed.  This makes it a very therapeutic bed, thus making the TLB more than just a comfortable place to sleep. Click here to see a demonstration of Total Lift Bed.

One hospital in the US tested how the TLB worked for their patients.  They found that patients who were tilted up several times per day improved more in a shorter period of time, and more of them were able to go home than patients who were confined to bed and had traditional therapy (UHS, 2015:1). TLB’s unique functionality minimizes the risk of falling out of bed, and helps contribute to shorter hospital stays.

The Total Lift Bed is FDA registered and is used in Israel, USA, Germany, Austria, U.K, Switzerland, Italy, France, Australia and Norway. Some hospitals in the US include: The Cleveland Clinic, John Hopkins, Stanford University Hospital, Carolinas Specialty Hospital, Florida Memorial and various Veteran Affairs (VA) hospitals.

bed-recline

Seniors, whether in hospital or in their own homes, and regardless of whether they are in good health or not, have a higher risk of falling and becoming less mobile. Immobility then increases the risk of many health conditions and furthers the risk of falling and decline in quality of life.  The use of the bed   decreases this risk.

Many of the patients who have used the TLB have reported that, “This bed undoubtedly saved my life!” The hospital where the study was done found that the TLB “…improved patient-outcomes, the cost-effectiveness of providing care, and the satisfaction of patients and their families.” (UHS, bed-verticle2015:1).

Israel and The Business of Aging

Israel’s demographics make it an ideal marketplace for TLB.   In July of 2016, The Jerusalem Post estimated that 10.6 percent of Israel’s population, or 866,000 people, are now over 65.

According to a recent UN publication: “For most nations, regardless of their geographic location or developmental stage, the 80 or over age group is growing faster than any other segment of the population.”   Global aging has thus created an international marketplace for the TLB in the world’s hospitals, rehab centers, and personal residences for people who wish to “age in place” in their own homes.  VitalGo’s marketing efforts are responsive to the fact that there is already a worldwide need for the TLB, both in hospitals and at home.  

 Aging-in-Place, With Dignity

Many seniors prefer to age-in-place (at home) whenever possible. Safety concerns, aging minds and decreased strength and mobility, along with increased risk of falling (especially getting up out of bed where many falls occur) can make aging in place challenging or unsafe. The chances of falling out of a bed, a chair, or down a flight of stairs increases with age, even for the healthiest of seniors.

One of the key goals in the development of the Total Lift Bed has been to help Seniors age in place with safety and dignity.

At home, or in the hospital, the TLB does most of the lifting that caregivers (whether they be trained professionals or loved ones) would ordinarily give. The TLB does not replace the human touch, but rather, enhances the ability of the caregiver to provide the healing touches needed, without the heavy lifting that leads to caregiver burnout and risk of injury. Additionally, being able to be raised smoothly and effortlessly enhances the quality of the mobility experience, without having to worry about hurting their nurse or loved one who is helping them to get up and move.

With the push of a button, whether at home or in the hospital, TLB contributes to mobility and self-confidence.  Hence, individuals, patients and caregivers (whether professionals or loved ones) are beneficiaries of the Total Lift Bed.

References

“Israel’s Elderly Population To Double By 2035,Statistics Bureau Says”   The Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2016

Carolina’s Specialty Hospital Evaluates The Total Lift Bed In Their Mobility Program”  Universal Hospital Services, 2015:1

For more information about the Total Lift Bed, see the Vital Go site.

Contact:  Paula Adleman:   Paula@Boomersurf.com

Jeff Rosenfeld :   Rosenfej@newschool.edu

Biosketch: Paula Adelman has an eclectic background and divided her time working in sports, raising 2 wonderful sons and helping the aging population. She has a business degree, with an emphasis on entrepreneurship.  She divides her time between the US and Israel. Paula is the founder of BoomerSurf.com, an American/Israeli based tech start-up. Through BoomerSurf, she is helping Boomers and Seniors manage computer, tablet and smartphone tasks online and through It improve their connection to family, friends and community.  For more information visit: BoomerSurf.com.

The Business of…Caregiving

The fifth show The Business of … Caregiving looks at the opportunities in meeting the needs of the more than 65 million Americans that play the role of caregiver.

My guest this week is a colleague in guiding both consumers and businesses through the Caregiving lifestage. Sherri Snelling is a nationally recognized expert on America’s 65 million caregivers. She specializes in helping caregivers balance “self-care” while caring for a loved one. Sherri is the founder of Caregiving Club and a contributing editor and correspondent for media outlets that include MSNBC, RLTV, ThirdAge, Martha Stewart Living TV and Sirius radio and Caring.com. She has appeared on the CBS news, ABC news and has been interviewed by the New York Times, USA Today and many other news outlets. She is a frequent speaker and consultant on the topic of Caregiving. She serves on a number of national boards, including chairing the National Alliance for Caregiving.

The Business of Aging with Lori Bitter
May 17, 2011 – Episode 5: The Business of…Caregiving

Guests: Sherri Snelling, CEO and Founder, Caregiving Club[audio:boa5.mp3|titles=The Business of Aging – Episode 5]
mp3 download

Reaching the New Assisted Living Decision Maker at CALA Spring Conference, June 7 in Santa Clara, CA

I hope you’ll join me at the California Assisted Living Association’s (CALA) Spring Conference, where I will be speaking in the session Reaching the New Assisted Living Decision Maker.

Date: June 7
Time: 3:45 – 5:15 p.m.
Where: Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara, CA

What the Reaching the New Assisted Living Decision Maker session is about:
This session will provide key strategies to effectively communicate with strong influencers in the decision making process – the adult children/caregivers, integral to the selection and sales process. Learn how understanding the values of decision makers and trends and differences in sentiment towards Assisted Living communities can help drive your marketing strategy. Discover a messaging framework needed to engage and increase your prospect base.

‘Waiting for Superman’ – The Caregiver Version

Super Man Hero Dad.David Guggenheim, the Academy Award-winning director of “An Inconvenient Truth,” has released his latest call-to-arms, “Waiting for Superman.” The movie explores the state of public education in the United States and introduces the supermen/women who are trying to reform and innovate in the education system.

The synopsis for the film says, “When disaster strikes in America, heroes rush in. We’ve seen it time and again: when all seems lost real life supermen (and women) step in to save the day. But what if, right now, there is a hidden catastrophe spreading quietly and insidiously through our nation’s cities, towns and communities — and yet we have the power to stop it? What if our children and their futures were in peril? Who will become a hero now?”

Check out the rest of this blog post at MediaPost’s Engage Boomers Blog

Caregiving Emerges from the Shadows

“There are four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”
Rosalynn Carter

Eight years ago I created a very compelling presentation for a major pharmaceutical company on caregiving. Their goal was to find a way to connect with consumers 40+ so they had a platform for talking about their brands. At that point in time web sites were new,”content” wasn’t part of our everyday conversation, and no one really identified with the moniker “caregiver.” In short the pharma company decided that caregiving didn’t have enough relevance with consumers. I truly believed the company who could crack the code on supporting caregivers and become their trusted source of information would own Boomer consumer loyalty for years to come. And I still do.

While still working for Age Wave Impact, we worked with two of the first caregiving web sites—one a support site for family caregivers, the other a resource site for adult children trying to find services for elderly parents. Both had great funding, strong entrepreneurial leadership, and of course, the guidance of a smart agency. Yet both failed. While some of this was blamed on the dot.com bust, I always believed these were solutions provided long before the problem was widely recognized. MetLife’s Mature Market Institute has done some of the most comprehensive studies on the issue of the family caregiver—from its impact on employers to the toll it takes on the family structure. (The MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs, October 2009). In the last nine months caregiving has emerged as a leading concern for Boomers. It is as though the economic downturn has amplified the issues for the adult children who are both providing care for their elderly parents, who may have limited financial options, and also taking their children back home because of the lack of jobs for new graduates. Our recent research revealed that more children are returning home than leaving the nest—for the first time in history. Today there are more than 65 million unpaid caregivers in the United States.

This pressure—like so many Boomer lifestages—creates ripe opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors in the caregiving space. And recently I am seeing a convergence of activity around the topic. During the recent American Society on Aging Conference and the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit, caregiving was the hot topic of presentations, workshops and new products showcased in the exhibit hall. Many are focused on tools to help caregivers get the resources they need to manage through the experience. Take a look at the new services offered by Silver Planet. Others seek to help organize the details of caring for loved one. Check out Strength for Caring, Caring.com, and the Caregiver Journal. Many are providing devices and services that help elderly people stay at home longer with a better quality of life while assuring caregivers of their safety and well–being. Look at GrandCARE and WellCore.

The time for supporting caregivers is NOW. Read Gail Sheehy’s provocative article in the May/June issue of AARP The Magazine (www.aarpmagazine.org) titled, “The Secret Caregivers.” The article talks about men who are providing care—more than 22 million—and who do so in secret. Gail, who led a generation of Boomers with her book Passages, has an exciting new book coming out in May titled Passages in Caregiving.

Stay tuned for details of the book’s launch from Mary Furlong and Associates.