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Let Go of Caregiver Stress Once and for All with These Tips

Caregiver Stress

Learn to overcome caregiver stress with a few simple tips.

Providing care for a senior you love is such a selfless endeavor. It’s incredibly rewarding to know you’re helping make life the best it can be, but it can also be incredibly stressful. Caregiver stress can arise for a variety of reasons:

  • The senior struggles with chronic health concerns
  • There are cognitive deficiencies, such as occur in dementia
  • A caregiver is dealing with the frustration of being unable to “make things better”
  • The caregiver is stretched too thin and unable to take time for self-care
  • And more

It’s crucial for family caregivers to prioritize regular, ongoing time away to reduce stress and make sure their own needs are met; but finding time to do so isn’t always easy.

At Nightingale Homecare, our aging care team is familiar with the stress family caregivers are facing. We’re here to help not just the seniors in our care, but the families who care for them. We want you to remain in the best possible health too! These recommendations can help you replace stress with peace, and achieve a healthier life balance:

  • Practice deep breathing. Deep breathing is an excellent tactic to instantly instill a sense of calm. Simply sit down in a comfortable position, breathe in through your nose while silently counting to five, and then breathe out through your nose, again for a count of five. Repeat until you feel more at peace. You can also work towards increasing the length of time of your breathing for up to a count of ten.
  • Practice intentional thinking. It’s easy to focus on the problems you are facing and to forget about the many positives that are occurring around us each day. Take time for a mental inventory of what you’re thankful for. This can help shift your perspective, even if what comes to mind seems small, such as a moment when your loved one smiled at you, the scent of the cake you’re baking, or the spring flowers beginning to peek up in the front yard.
  • Practice self-appreciation. The work you’re doing is so important. You are making a real and lasting difference in the life of someone else. Instead of reminding yourself of the mistakes you’re making along the way, acknowledge the things you’re doing right! Just as you would share your appreciation with a friend who did something kind, appreciate your own kindnesses as well.
  • Practice getting physical. Exercise produces endorphins that naturally provide a boost to your mental outlook and wellbeing. It may be hard to find time for an extensive workout, but breaking your exercise time up into smaller chunks throughout the day is still beneficial. Try choosing parking spaces that are farther from store entrances, take the stairs rather than the elevator, and hop onto a stationary bike to peddle away while talking with the senior in your care.
  • Practice partnering. Remind yourself that caregiving isn’t meant to be a solo responsibility. Partnering with a trusted home care provider, like Nightingale Homecare, is good for both you and your loved one. Our respite care services enable caregivers to have regular time away, and seniors enjoy socialization with a friendly, trained, and compassionate companion.

Contact Nightingale Homecare, the leading providers of help at home in Peoria and surrounding areas, for a free in-home consultation. We’re always here to offer the resources you need to alleviate caregiver stress and to enhance quality of life for older adults in the comfort of home.

The Holidays Look a Little Different This Year: Holidays with Seniors During the Pandemic

Holidays with Seniors

Celebrating the holidays with seniors this year requires careful planning and consideration.

Back in March, when the words “pandemic” and “COVID-19” just began to creep into our vocabulary, we had no idea that by the holiday season, we’d still be right in the thick of isolating, social distancing, and doing whatever we can to keep ourselves and each other safe. Yet here we are, and it’s important to carefully think through the risks associated with celebrating the holidays with seniors this year.

At the heart of the quandary lies the knowledge that both COVID-19 and isolation from loved ones bring serious, potentially life-threatening risks to older adults. Harvard epidemiologist Julia Marcus explains, “There’s no easy answer here, just like with everything else. It’s not about safe or unsafe. It’s about figuring out how to balance various risks and keeping risks as low as possible.”

And while we’ve learned to avoid super-spreader events, experts warn that the recent spike in infections has been attributed in large part to transmissions within home gatherings.

So how can you make the best decision for your family this holiday season? Here’s what you need to know:

  • The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recently redefined “close contact” as it relates to the spread of infection to 15 minutes of cumulative exposure during a 24-hour period, within six feet of others (as opposed to the former 15 consecutive minute definition).
  • Although these guidelines reference maintaining social distancing of six feet, it is believed that aerosol transmission can occur at much greater distances – there’s nothing magic about the six-foot figure.
  • Family members considering air travel (or other public transportation) are, of course, at a greater risk of exposure to the virus, and can still transmit the virus to others, even if they remain asymptomatic. The safest course to follow would be to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival, and then get tested – an incredibly difficult protocol to follow.

As a result of these factors, the CDC’s official holiday celebration guidelines encourage people to stay at home with those already living in the same household, which raises the issue of senior isolation and the serious emotional and physical toll it can take on older adults.

Dr. Anthony Fauci explains, “There are some families who are so frustrated with not seeing each other for so long, they’re going to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to take the risk. My mental health of seeing my children or grandchildren is so important to me that I’m going to take the risk.’”

If a senior you love expresses these types of feelings, and is experiencing the negative impact of isolation, you’ll need to carefully consider the risks vs. the benefits of getting together. In that case, face coverings, social distancing, and handwashing are necessary, and time spent together should be limited. Outdoor visits are also preferred.

The holiday season of 2020 may not be the Normal Rockwell celebration we’d wish for, but know that Nightingale Homecare, the leading Phoenix home health agency, is here to help make it as merry and bright as possible for the seniors you love. Contact us to learn more about how we can help alleviate isolation for seniors, coordinate the technology necessary for contactless visits with a senior loved one, and so much more.

You can reach us any time at (602) 504-1555 to discover the measures we’re taking to keep seniors safe, to find out if our services are available in your area, and to answer any questions you may have about our in-home care services.

Relieving Caregiving Stress with Gratitude

Caregiving Stress

Focusing on what we’re thankful for is a great way to relieve stress.

“There’s always, always something to be thankful for!”

This quote, attributed to Rhonda Byrne, is a popular one this time of year, as we turn our thoughts to all of our blessings in the season of Thanksgiving. And, it may just help to relive caregiving stress.

For family caregivers, a heightened level of stress can cause negativity to creep in, magnifying problems and challenges and making it difficult to shift focus to gratitude. Still, research shows that those who practice gratitude are happier, protected from depression, sleep better, have a boosted immune system, and have healthier relationships, in addition to reduced stress.

So how, in the midst of caregiving, can you begin to experience the benefits of gratefulness? We have some tips to help.

What IS Gratitude?

Actually, it’s important to know what gratitude is NOT. It’s not a matter of ignoring difficulties and denying that we have negative feelings as a result of them. It is about tuning in to the positive aspects of life that are present in the midst of the problems. It’s a matter of perspective, and realizing that as bad as things may seem to be, there are glimmers of light shining through the darkness.

Benefits of Gratitude

Choosing to pay attention to even the smallest thing for which we’re grateful actually trains our brain to improve our level of optimism. It breaks the downward spiral of negativity, which improves overall quality of life and wellness in a variety of ways – including allowing us to provide a higher level of care for the seniors we love.

How to Begin Living More Gratefully

One of the best ways to begin experiencing the benefits of gratitude is by keeping a journal – which may feel intimidating at first; who has time for journaling while caregiving? But it doesn’t have to be elaborate or wordy; a simple spiral-bound notebook and a sentence or two each day is all it takes. The key is being consistent, to create a new habit and routine of being thankful.

Designate a few minutes at a set time each day, whenever it works best for you, and simply sit down in a quiet place and think about one or two aspects of life that you’re most thankful for at that moment. It can be as simple as a beautiful sunrise, a warm bath at the end of the day, or a phone call with a friend. Write it down in your journal, or draw a quick sketch if you prefer.

Then at the end of each week, or whenever your stress level is elevated, read back through your journal entries to help shift your perspective.

Know that our experts in home care in Paradise Valley, AZ and nearby areas are always here to partner with you to ensure you have plenty of time available to rest and recharge. Our respite care services are the perfect solution to caregiving stress, allowing you to take much-needed time to yourself while knowing your senior loved one is receiving the very best care. Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!

Reduce Anxiety and Build Cognitive Functioning with These Fun Activities for Seniors

Activities for Seniors

These activities for seniors help improve wellbeing in a variety of ways.

During the pandemic, as we’ve all had to find more at-home activities to enjoy, the benefits of crafts have become more apparent. In fact, activities for seniors such as crafting have been shown to improve social, cognitive, and motor skills, while reducing anxiety and stress. Not only that, but they bring enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment, meaning, and purpose, especially when created to share with someone else.

Our experts in home health in Phoenix and the surrounding areas have compiled some great activities to try:

Cookies in a Jar

Who doesn’t love homemade cookies? Get the whole family together and enjoy putting together these mason jar cookie mixes to share with friends and neighbors. Gather together a 1-quart canning jar for each mix, and then layer in the following ingredients, in the order they’re listed:

  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups flour mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. baking soda, and ½ tsp. salt

Then create a label for each jar with the following instructions for the recipient to use in baking the cookies:

  • Empty cookie mix into large mixing bowl, blending together with your hands.
  • Soften 1 ½ sticks of butter and add to the bowl, along with 1 egg and 1 tsp. vanilla.
  • Shape the dough into walnut-sized balls, and placed 2” apart on sprayed baking sheet.
  • Bake for 11 – 13 minutes at 350 degrees and enjoy!

Memory Quilts

For senior sewers, there’s nothing more precious than a memory quilt, created from pieces of clothing that tell a story. For instance, a quilt could be prepared for someone who has always loved sports, made with pieces of jerseys from their favorite teams, or from teams they played on themselves over the years. Wash, iron, cut, and stitch the fabric together according to the more detailed instructions provided here.

Tin Can Lanterns

These are a lovely way to repurpose all of those used cans that were destined for the recycle bin, and make fun and unique gifts for kids and adults alike. Here’s all you need to get started:

  • Empty cans of any size (coffee cans work great)
  • A permanent marker
  • Hammer and nails of varying sizes, OR, a cordless drill
  • Wire for hanging, and wire-cutter pliers
  • Tea light candles (battery-operated candles if desired for safety)

Then follow these instructions:

  • Determine the design you want to place on the can, and draw it in dots with the permanent marker.
  • Hammer nails one by one over the marker dots, or, use the cordless drill
  • Be sure to include two holes on opposite sides at the top of the can, and then hook a piece of wire through each hole to make a hanger.
  • Add a tea light candle to the finished can, turn off the lights, and enjoy!

At Nightingale Homecare, the experts in home health in Phoenix and the surrounding area, we love helping the older adults enjoy life to the fullest, and are always here with more creative ideas and activities for seniors. We’d be happy to spend an afternoon creating crafts such as these with a senior you love! Just give us a call any time at (602) 504-1555 to get started!

Senior Isolation: How to Stay Safe While Staying Connected

Senior Isolation

Help loved ones overcome senior isolation with these tips.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been paramount to seniors’ physical health to stay isolated; yet we know that senior isolation carries with it a number of serious health concerns as well. The challenge has been balancing both the physical and emotional needs of older adults, and for many, the answer has been found in technology, allowing for social interactions during a time of quarantine.

Yet technology brings with it a challenge in and of itself. As many as one in three seniors have never used and do not have access to the internet at home; and for those who do, half need assistance with setting up and utilizing a new app or device.

Our aging care professionals offer the following tech tips to help the seniors you love stay connected in order to prevent senior isolation:

  • Ensure seniors are equipped with the tools they need. Many older desktop computers lack cameras, speakers, and necessary software to access programs like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime. Decide if your loved one would be most comfortable with a tablet, smartphone, or laptop, and find a version without all the bells and whistles, making it more user-friendly.
  • Download apps according to interests. The sheer number of options available in the great worldwide web can be overwhelming. It’s helpful to select a handful of apps or sites that the senior will especially enjoy to play games, stream movies and music, learn a new skill or hobby, and to contact family and friends.
  • Instruct the senior and maintain a patient attitude. Remember how it felt when you first learned to drive, or speak another language, or solve an algebraic equation? Keep those feelings in mind as you teach an older loved one how to get around on a new digital device. It will be especially challenging trying to remotely provide instruction over the phone, so stay calm and patient and allow as much time as needed for the senior to grow comfortable with his or her new technology.
  • Explain the risk of scams. Senior scams are rampant, and scammers are extremely savvy in what they do, making it difficult for many to detect until it’s too late. Talk with your loved one about setting boundaries, such as never giving out credit card or other personal information over the internet (unless it’s through a known and trusted site).
  • Partner with Nightingale Homecare! Our team of senior care experts are always available to help the older adults we serve learn new technology, connect virtually with loved ones, and recommend appropriate and engaging activities seniors can do online with our home care assistance in Peoria and surrounding areas.

Nightingale Homecare, the leaders in home care assistance in Peoria and the surrounding areas in Arizona, helps prevent senior isolation for older adults in our community each and every day. We offer friendly companionship to engage in a variety of activities at home, such as conversations, games and cards, exercise programs, arts and crafts, and so much more, according to each person’s interests and always in adherence to safety guidelines. We also provide a full range of home health care services to meet the medical and non-medical needs of seniors, right at home.

Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!