Posts Tagged "depression"

Caregivers Resisting Help

Posted by on Jan 7, 2022 in Caregiving |

Originally published January 2012 at Reprinted with permission. I have never been very good at asking for help and, like many family caregivers, I didn’t think that my own needs mattered. Thinking I had to do everything all the time caused me to have two breakdowns; once during my early years of caregiving and again in the last year of my 17-year caregiving journey. I wish I had known about the following statistics from a recent MetLife Study: Family caregivers experiencing extreme stress have been shown to age prematurely and this level of stress can take as much as 10 years off a family caregiver’s life. 40% to 70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression with approximately 25%-50% of these caregivers meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression. Stress of family caregiving for persons with dementia has been shown to impact a person’s immune system for up to three years after their caregiving ends thus increasing their chances of developing a chronic illness themselves. I don’t know which statistic frightens me the most. But I do know that I have paid an emotional, physical and financial cost for being a caregiver. (I also loved taking care of my family.) It didn’t have to be that way. I could have and should have asked for help. But I am a caregiver and when people told me, “Just make time for yourself,” it wasn’t that easy. If you think about who in a family becomes the caregiver, it will usually be the person who is more nurturing and generous with their time. So by nature, the caregiver is the type of person who already gives more than others. And this becomes a vicious cycle of give – give – give instead of give – receive – give – receive. I recently said to my friend who is an overwhelmed caregiver, “Maybe now is a good time for the rest of your family to learn what they need to do to help their grandfather.” What I heard back from her were lots of excuses: They don’t want to help They don’t know what to do They don’t know him like I do They will just make it worse I don’t have time to teach them It is just easier if I do it I get tired of asking I don’t think they would help, even if I asked Why should I have to ask, they should just know what to do I don’t want to be a bother It is too much effort to ask Sound familiar? I realized in that moment that it isn’t always that the family won’t help; it is the caregiver who is resisting asking for help. So let me ask you. If you had a broken shoulder, would it be okay to ask someone to carry your groceries to the car? If your car broke down, could you call for a tow truck? When your loved one needs help, don’t you get them the help you need? Then why don’t you deserve the same attention? Your needs matter and you deserve to have someone help you. Here’s my Four-Step Process, to help you identify what keeps you from asking for help and to overcome your reluctance. Step 1: I encourage you to explore what is keeping you from asking. Write down what goes through your head when someone says, “You should just ask for help.” What are your resistance statements? Step 2: Take your list of resistance statements and put a statement beside it to help you get past what has been preventing...

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Dementia, Depression or Delirium?

Posted by on Jan 18, 2022 in Health Signals |

Three of the most common mental health problems experienced by the elderly start with the letter D: dementia, depression, and delirium. Their symptoms may, at times, appear similar. Comparing the conditions and highlighting the differences can alert you to when medical help may be needed. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer Disease. Incidence increases with advancing age. It is not curable.  Depression affects about 10% of the general population, can occur at any age, and affects both men and women. Incidence is higher when other medical conditions are present. Delirium is often unrecognized and therefore not treated. To read the complete article in PDF format, open the attachment below. Dementia Depression Delirium...

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Heat Stroke

Posted by on Sep 16, 2021 in Health Emergencies |

Summertime brings the benefits of fresh air and sunshine, but hot, sunny days pose a risk of heat stroke, particularly for seniors.  What is heat stroke? Heat stroke occurs when the body can not regulate its temperature. It can develop quickly; internal body temperature can rise as high as 106 degrees in as little as 10 to fifteen minutes. Heat stroke can lead to brain damage and even death. Why are seniors at greater risk of developing heat stroke? As the body ages, sweat glands which help cool the body become less efficient.  Blood vessels carry less blood to the skin. The skin itself goes through natural changes that may slow the rate of heat release or “cool down”.  Bodies of the elderly may be slower to respond to heat and therefore may not produce sweat until body temperature is already quite high. Diseases of the lungs, heart and kidneys, and illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure can affect the body’s ability to cool down. Drugs that treat depression, motion sickness and high blood pressure also change the body’s ability to regulate temperature. What are the symptoms of heat stroke? Red, hot and dry skin (with no sweating) Heavy sweating together with cold clammy skin Dizziness Throbbing headache Nausea Rapid pulse Confusion Unconsciousness How can you prevent heat stroke? On extremely hot days, stay indoors in an air-conditioned room.  If there is no air conditioning at home, spend time at a local mall, library or movie theater. Wear a hat when golfing, gardening or hiking. Always have water with you or near by.  Drink 8-12 cups of water daily to maintain hydration, more during hot days or physical exertion. Choose fruit juice or sport drinks if your activity means you’ll experience heavy sweating. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.  Also avoid extremely cold drinks, which can cause stomach cramping. Eat small nutritious meals throughout the day rather than large meals.  Reduce your intake of  protein, which can raise body temperature. Increase intake of potassium-rich foods, e.g., potatoes, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe and broccoli. Take frequent breaks from physical activity. Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath. If you see symptoms of heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately.  Vol. 3, No. 14 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE...

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Exercise for Healthy Hearts

Posted by on Sep 9, 2021 in Staying Active |

Exercise is good for us, right?  Most of us believe physical fitness will help keep us healthy, especially as we age. Some of the benefits are: Combating depression and anxiety Keeping bones, muscles and joints functioning well Improved cholesterol levels Helping to reduce body weight and body fat Helping the cardiovascular system to work more efficiently Reducing the risk of high blood pressure AND…of heart disease!  Exercise has many benefits for the heart and cardiovascular system. But what kind of exercise?  Here are some simple ways to increase your everyday activity and work your heart for healthy results: Increase the amount you walk, e.g., park your car further from the door when shopping. Get up and move every hour. Stretch during commercial breaks while watching TV. Take the stairs - not the escalator or elevator.  Everyday activities you may not think of - like gardening and housework - also qualify  as exercise and  contribute to heart health. You don’t need an hour-long exercise regimen to help your health and your heart.  If you can’t manage 30 to 40 minutes continuously, break that down into ten-minute segments of light exercise such as walking. If you have not been exercising for a while, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that you aim to start at 15 minutes every other day and work up from there. Staying motivated is the key. Make a plan. Don’t just say you will exercise if you feel like it…because you may never feel like it! Read up on exercise and health. Get ideas about new activities to try or new ways of doing activities you already like. Take a course in a new activity.  Spending the money for the course and having a group to support you and to learn with can be inspiring. Start exercising with a friend or neighbour.  Your partner can help you stay the course when your commitment is low. Exercising with a companion can feel more social and less like drudgery. Pick activities you like. Running may provide a good cardiovascular workout, but if you hate it you are far less likely to keep doing it. Make a six-week commitment.  Some exercise specialists believe you will notice results from an exercise program within 6 weeks.  Seeing those results can help keep you going - but you need to get to the six-week mark!  The risks and prevalence of heart disease are too great for mid-life adults and seniors to ignore. Embracing an active lifestyle is one of the best preventive measures we can take.  For more information, visit these web sites: Exercise for your Health: Benefits and How-To’s Canadian Diabetes Association, exploring links between diabetes and heart disease. Try the quiz on heart health and heart disease at   Vol.3, No. 4 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our...

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Hearing Loss? Take Action!

Posted by on Sep 8, 2021 in Caregiving, Health Signals |

 It is estimated that 33% of those who are aged 65-74 have some hearing loss: 45% of those 75 – 84 years of age, and more than 60% of people over 85. Hearing is important to the quality of everyday living. Taking part in a conversation, receiving directions and information, and enjoying entertainment and recreation are affected when hearing is lost.  Hearing impairment can cause us to become isolated and withdrawn: to feel “stupid” or embarrassed in everyday situations - or to become depressed.  With gradual hearing loss, the person may not be aware of the changes: others might notice first. The flip side is that with a hearing aid you can reduce the nerve deterioration that usually results from untreated hearing loss.  Ironically, the number one reason those who need a hearing aid avoid getting one is that they think the hearing aid will make them look old, frail, or “dumb”.  The opposite is true!  Wearing a hearing aid can make you more alert, interactive, and involved. How can you encourage someone to get a hearing test? Some people are intimidated by the thought of having a hearing test.  Understanding the process of a hearing test may help.   How can you help someone who’s afraid of the test results? Some people avoid getting tested because they fear the results will confirm they have hearing loss.  But knowledge is power.  Having the test means being able to find help or the tools needed to improve the quality of hearing.  Just because you get a hearing test does not mean you have to get a hearing aid. It’s the first step to figuring out what you need and what could improve your quality of life if you need it. How can you help someone who has hearing loss? Speak slowly, clearly, facing the person, without putting your hands over your mouth Lower your voice, without speaking louder.  Reduce background noise/distraction. There are tools to help people with hearing loss, for example, an amplifier for the telephone and headsets for television.  You can find out more about these devices from an audiologist. Seek reliable testing. Find a qualified professional. Visit a qualified Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Practitioner. Audiologists have a masters or doctorate degree in hearing sciences. Hearing aid practitioners have a two-year College diploma and, in most cases, significant experience with hearing loss and hearing aids. Both are regulated, and both will be able to help determine your current hearing sensitivity and whether you need amplification. Additional Resources: The Canadian Hearing Society http:/?   Hearing loss is not harmless.  It can lead to depression, anxiety, and social isolation.    Vol.3, No.10 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc.,  Canada‘s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE bi-weekly...

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