Posts Tagged "physical"

Help for Caregivers

Posted by on Sep 9, 2021 in Caregiving, Catalog, Family Relationships |

Millions of Canadians are caregivers to a family member. Many caregivers say they want and need help but don’t know where to get it or how to ask. Without that help, caregivers are at risk for physical and emotional burnout.  Before asking for help, assess the specific needs. They may include: respite so you can take a vacation support to make important decisions regular phone calls/visits to you or to the care recipient financial help - or help to manage finances hands-on help with care household chores Some caregivers report “rejection” when asking for help. If other family members don’t pitch in, it may be that they don’t agree with the “needs”. If you believe that Dad should never be left alone and your brother thinks you are being over-protective, you aren’t likely to get cooperation. Explore or anticipate other family member’s beliefs about the tasks of caregiving before asking for help.  Here are five more strategies for overwhelmed caregivers:  Look beyond siblings – younger aunts and uncles, cousins, grandchildren and nieces and nephews may be willing to help. Start with a family meeting - face to face or telephone conference call. Without phrasing it as a demand, outline your list of needs, then ask open ended questions to find out which of these needs can be met by others. Talk to family members.  Again, begin with a list. Consider what you can do to build or strengthen these relationships, and what you might do in return, particularly if you are caring from a distance. When making long-distance visits, take some time to get acquainted with your parents’ friends and neighbours, who may act as another set of eyes and ears for you. Reach out to the community. If your family belongs to a church, ask about assistance programs such as companionship, visiting, and transportation. Contact your local seniors’ centre and ask about community outreach programs. Hire help, if you can. Many private companies provide help for caregivers. Search on line or in advertisements aimed at seniors. Explore cost sharing with family members. This may allow the caregiver to use their time and energy most appropriately. Manage your emotions.   Sometimes our emotions and beliefs get in the way of asking for help. Do you think you might be seen as demanding or incompetent? Does your family member say that you are the only one that can take care of them? Does that create pressure or resentment?  Caregiver burnout is a serious consequence of trying to do too much for too long on your own. You can learn more about this issue in our ElderWise Guide: Caregiver Burnout: How to spot it. How to stop it. If you notice that your beliefs may be preventing you from taking care of yourself, consider talking to a medical professional, counselor or an ElderWise coach.   Vol.6, No.5 © ElderWise Inc., 2010 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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Family Helps Rehab after Stroke

Posted by on Sep 8, 2021 in Health Care Team and System, Health Emergencies |

  After injury or disease strikes, a structured program of rehabilitation therapy can restore a part of the body or a person to normal or near-normal function. The goal of a rehabilitation program is to help someone become as independent as possible and to function despite a disability.  Rehabilitation may focus either on multiple areas or be very specific. Physical rehabilitation activities and treatments may include: Exercise Electrical stimulation Massage Repetition and practice of daily activities; e.g., walking, climbing stairs These rehab activities can help the individual regain co-ordination, endurance, flexibility, mobility, and strength. Who needs it? In addition to stroke, some of the circumstances that call for rehabilitation therapy are: Acquired brain injury, including stroke and head injury Amputation Bone fracture Heart conditions Joint replacement Often, more than one type of rehabilitation therapy may be needed, meaning a team effort is called for. Who delivers it? Several professionals, trained in specific areas, may work together in the rehabilitation process. Their common goal is to help individuals to regain skills, learn new ones, and make the best use of remaining abilities. Occupational Therapist (OT): The OT will focus on everyday tasks, such as dressing and preparing meals. An OT sometimes recommends changes to the environment (e.g., bathroom grab bars) that encourage safety and independence.  Physiotherapist:  The “physio” teaches special exercises to help the individual improve balance, muscle control and strength, and to practice tasks such as walking and managing stairs. Recreational Therapist:  This professional can help an individual to plan new hobbies and interests, or to learn new or different ways to resume old ones. Speech-Language Therapist: This professional is trained in assessment of swallowing, and in assessing and treating speech and language problems. Some people regain the ability to speak within a few months. Early speech therapy can help the person make the most of the remaining language skills. Psychologist, social worker, or family therapist: These professionals specialize in assessing and treating emotional health issues. Counseling may assist the individual and the family to adapt to the changes that occur following the stroke. Families play an important role in enhancing the work of professional teams. Particularly in the case of stroke, early rehabilitation can dramatically improve recovery. Understanding the recovery process and knowing how to support a stroke patient while in hospital, and after discharge, can make a huge difference. For more insight on this topic, check out the ElderWise e-guide, “Enhancing Rehab After A Stroke”, available in our on-line store. Vol. 5, No. 10, © ElderWise Publishing 2009. 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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Older Caregivers Face Extra Risk

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

Expecting to “take it easy” in your senior years? According to 2007 figures from Statistics Canada, at least 675,000 Canadian seniors have had to curtail travel, leisure and personal interests - and have put themselves at risk for physical and emotional problems - because they are providing care to another elderly person. They could be looking after close friends (30%), spouses (23%), neighbours (15%) - even parents (9%).  One third of these seniors are over the age of 75. Fewer than one in five older caregivers gets a break from these responsibilities. Without help from family, community or private services, caregiver burnout - physical and emotional exhaustion due to prolonged high levels of stress - is almost inevitable. Not only can physical health problems multiply, but mental health issues, such as feeling powerless, resentful, and isolated, can compromise a caregiver’s well-being. Most of these seniors may not think of themselves as caregivers, but that’s exactly what they become when they take responsibility to help others with their daily needs. Caregivers are from all walks of life and income levels. They are predominantly female but increasing numbers of men are taking on the role. But what they often share in common is stepping unaware and unprepared into a demanding role.  Caregiving responsibilities can occur suddenly, but they typically become long term (chronic), and they don’t always have a happy outcome. Responsibilities can continue even when the person receiving the care moves from a private home to an institution. Older caregivers are up against more challenges than their younger counterparts. They are unlikely to have the strength and energy of a younger person. Older caregivers may have to manage their own chronic health problems (e.g., high blood pressure, diabetes or arthritis) while caring for another. Doing yard work, shoveling snow, or going up and down the stairs with the laundry basket may be more than they can handle. Other caregiver duties can be mentally demanding. Managing finances, scheduling appointments, and other household decisions take more time and energy as you age. Conflicting emotions can drain energy as well, particularly when the personal relationships between caregiver and care recipient are strained.  Caregiving for a spouse can be especially demanding. The marital relationship is more intense, private and personal than many. A spouse’s illness results in greater stress, yet spouses are less likely to ask for help from others. Often, there’s a belief that what is happening should be kept private. Without greater awareness, understanding and action, more seniors will run the risk of burnout, which can lead to physical and mental collapse. Older caregivers face extra risk, and that has significant implications for families, communities and our health care system. For more insight on this topic, purchase our downloadable e-publication: Caregiver Burnout - How To Spot It, How To Stop It Vol. 5, No. 6 © ElderWise Publishing 2009. 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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Sensitive Conversations

Posted by on Sep 7, 2021 in Family Relationships, Sensitive Conversations |

Many of us have concerns about our parents’ health and well-being, or about their living arrangements. Our concern can lead to anxiety and frustration and we can be tempted to offer advice about “solutions” that seem obvious to us.  But our parents won’t welcome unsolicited advice any more than we did when they offered it to us. Successful conversations depend on two things: the kind of relationship you have with your parents and the nature of the conversation. If you have always been the “wonderful daughter”, you might be able to influence your parents. But if you have had a history of arguments over the years, this pattern will likely continue if you approach your conversation in the usual way.  Many topics are also touchy: For example, money. Many older adults are uncomfortable or even refuse to talk about it. Also, they might find it easier to talk about physical health than emotional well-being.  Is there a sensitive conversation in your future? Consider these approaches: Put aside your own agenda. First try to understand your parents’ needs, their fears, and their hopes. Ask your parents for their thoughts first, before presenting your concerns and suggestions Write them a note. This way, your parents will not feel broadsided when you unexpectedly bring up the topic. If you can’t broach a sensitive subject, get help from a trusted friend, relative, or other objective third party (e.g., a medical professional, family coach or counsellor). Keep your worry and feelings of responsibility in perspective. Parents can and may refuse even the best advice   Here are some more listening and communication tips for more effective family discussions. Listen actively to others. Give them feedback about their opinions. Ask them to confirm your understanding of what they are saying. Make sure that others also understand what you are saying (not the same thing as agreeing!). Suspend your own judgments when listening. Pay attention not only to what is being said, but also how it is said and what is NOT being said. Watch body language (facial expressions, posture, tone, gestures) that might add to the meaning of the message or contradict what a family member actually says. Show that you are paying attention: maintain eye contact, nod, respond. Remove barriers to listening - distractions, preoccupation, and self-talk. Ask open ended questions - those that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. Begin your question with “how” or what.” Good communication skills are crucial for sensitive conversations. They help create effective outcomes for sensitive conversations and positive relationships between the generations.   Vol. 3 , No. 15 © 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 Publishing, a division of ElderWise Inc. We provide clear, concise and practical direction to Canadians with aging parents. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter...

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Action for Common Aging Concerns

Posted by on Sep 7, 2021 in Caregiving, Health Signals, Planning |

In previous newsletters, we showed how you can approach sensitive topics during holiday visits with aging parents. During the visit you may have noticed new areas of concern, or old problems that are calling for action. Now, you may feel anxiety or uncertainty about what to do next. Taking that first step, no matter how small, creates momentum towards positive change. Here are some first steps for common concerns: 1. Health Changes in physical or mental health are usually at the root of all other challenges facing your aging parents.  Many factors combine to keep seniors healthy. Among the most important are good medical care, proper exercise and nutrition, and a sense of purpose and belonging. A good first step is to become more informed about your parent’s health. Educate yourself about normal aging, and learn more about their chronic health conditions. With your parents’ permission, talk with their family doctor about your concerns. 2. Hygiene Personal care may slip when a senior’s eyesight, physical energy, or state of mind are affected. First, gently point out some physical evidence (e.g., stained clothing) and share your concern. Encourage your parent to get a physical check-up and/or an eye exam.  3. Housekeeping Loss of strength or mobility can make household chores more difficult. Start a conversation about getting more help - either from other family members, or by hiring someone. Some seniors are reluctant to ask for help or to invite “strangers” into their homes. Suggest that help with household duties may mean that your parents stay in their own home a little longer. 4. Hazards Safety hazards at home increase when health and strength start to fail. Here are some simple adaptations that make life safer: rearrange cupboards to easily reach things, install grab bars in the bathroom, remove loose scatter rugs, and add brighter lighting, especially over stairways. You can also look into personal emergency response systems. Worn on the wrist or as a pendant, they enable your parent to call for emergency help when they cannot reach a telephone. Initiating some of these changes may require a “community” effort. That can mean recruiting help from other family members, friends, neighbours and/or getting outside help - private or public. In larger towns and cities, families can call on their local seniors’ resource centre for more information on support programs. In rural areas, churches and other members of the community traditionally step up to help neighbours. Concerned families can also ask for an assessment of the senior by their local health authority, to see whether their family member (who must consent to the assessment) qualifies for public assistance. Vol. 5, No. 1 © ElderWise Publishing 2009. 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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