Browsing Category

For Caregivers

January 31, 2017

Diagnosis: Dementia. Repetitive behavior; Survival Secrets for Caregivers

The dementia epidemic is worldwide

They refer to it as the Dementia Epidemic. As many as 5.2 million people in America are living with this disease.

To review: Dementia is an umbrella term describing a variety conditions that develop when nerve cells in the brain die or no longer function normally. The damages to these nerve cells cause changes in one’s memory, behavior and ability to think clearly

In the next installment in the series, I’d like to discuss a common trait exhibited by individuals diagnosed with dementia: Repetitive behavior. That behavior may be exhibited as an action- like searching for something, changing the channels on the remote, or verbally-like repeating a question, or making the same statement over and over.

For caregivers, repetitive behavior is enough to get on your last nerve.

You may remember Bill Murray’s memorable performance in Goundhog Day, the 1993 movie where he plays Phil- a TV weatherman doomed to live out the same day every day, for the rest of his life. Answering the same question over and over, day after day can make you feel like Phil, and you are certainly not alone.

First let’s talk about some of the reasons a person with dementia may repeat. The most obvious reason is short term memory loss. Sometimes dementia progresses to the point where the sufferer actually forgets they just asked that question, even in the midst of conversation. So they ask it again. And again. Other reasons can include the inability to grasp what’s going on. Feeling unsure about their situation leads to anxiety and stress. That one question or statement may in fact be the only cognitive thought they can express, so they repeat it. Boredom is a contributing factor as well. If the person with dementia has no social stimulation and no daily activities in which to engage, the mind can simply travel in a “loop” with no outlet. As an example, a woman may endlessly search for her purse, others may seek their car keys all day long. These behaviors may be a non-verbal expression that they just want something to do. Continue Reading

January 25, 2017

Who’s Caring for Caregivers?

caring for caregivers

Among those of us in our 40s, 50s and 60s, huge numbers  are called upon to provide caring for aging relatives. More than ever before.

By 2020, for the first time in human history, there will be more individuals over 65 than children under the age of 5.

What this astounding statistic translates to is that for many of us, if we’re not caring for our aging spouses, we’re likely caring for our parents and grandparents. And if we, ourselves, aren’t caregivers, we undoubtedly are close to someone who is.

With this reality, an intriguing and vital need has arisen: How do we care for caregivers?

While we naturally focus on those who need caregiving due to medical necessity, the fact is, primary caregivers – most often spouses and children – have profoundly important needs, as well. How do we as a society and as individuals assess and support those needs?

The first step as those on the outside is to recognize the breath of the situation the caregiver is addressing. Often caregivers, based on pure love, shoulder far more responsibility than they express. Caregivers can feel every emotion from ultimate obligation to feeling as though their own needs are less important, so they rarely express the true scope of what they’re going through. As a support system for caregivers, we must make an effort to learn as much as we can about the reality of the situation, even beyond what the caregiver shares. We must strive to view the circumstance objectively and determine where the caregiver is at – physically, emotionally and mentally. caring for caregivers

Studies show that caregivers can experience symptoms ranging from fatigue to anxiety to depression – and we don’t need a degree to recognize those symptoms. We know the personalities of those close to us, and when we see adverse changes in a caregiver, it’s a clear sign that he or she needs additional support.

While we never wish to pull a caregiver out of a situation – after all, one’s heart and soul is in it – the single most effective form of caring for a caregiver is by giving him or her a break from the circumstance via respite care. When a caregiver is serving a loved one around the clock, again, we know it takes its toll. A daily form of respite for the caregiver – where someone else assists while the primary caregiver gets a break – dramatically improves the circumstance for everyone. As family and friends of caregivers, if we can ensure respite, whether it’s through outside professionals or loved ones, it dramatically improves the circumstance. A gentleman caring for his wife with Alzheimer’s recently described how, with the support of his children, having one hour per day of respite care, so he can run his errands, has dramatically reduced his stress levels, making him a better caregiver.

Indeed, caregiving to the extent that we are is a remarkably new phenomena of which society has never known. And, more and more families are having to navigate this process every day. We still have a lot to learn, personally and culturally. However, what we know for certain is that in order to best care for those in need, we must also care for caregivers.

January 4, 2017

Can lift chairs help prevent falls? Learn how today!

fall-awarenessJanuary is National Falls Prevention month, and SpinLife is doing it’s part by hosting our Lift Chair Event.

How can a lift chair help prevent falls you may ask? You may be surprised at the answer! Statistics prove that among our aging population, falls account for an enormous number of injuries every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 in 4 older adults fall each year. About half of those are unreported, but 2.8 million older adults are treated in emergency rooms each year for fall related injury. 2.8 million!

Many factors contribute to the increased risk of falling, and at the top of the list is lower body weakness. Lower body weakness has many causes. Lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle and a myriad of medical conditions cause muscle loss. Muscle loss in turn causes the lessening of strength in your lower body. Muscles beginning at your feet and ankles, all the way up to the gluteus maximus contribute to your ability to maintain your balance. They also allow you to get up from a sitting position to standing. When those muscles lack strength, your balance will be affected, and simply getting up from a chair may become nearly impossible.lift chairs prevent falls

Human beings are great at adapting. As it becomes more difficult to arise from a chair, you may begin to adapt your behavior to compensate for the lack of strength in your legs. Among common ways people compensate is to “scoot” to the front edge of their chair prior to attempting to stand- getting their feet right under themselves, so to speak. Another way is to reach back with both hands and “push” off of the armrests of a chair to boost themselves up, and then struggle the rest of the way.

 

Then there’s the method my own Mother used. She’d rock back and forth – gathering momentum – until she could  propel herself out of her chair…Yikes! Sometimes the poor thing would get to her feet, other times she’d fall face-first over the ottoman.

If you or a loved one has this sort of trouble arising from a chair, and are using one of these methods to get to your feet, you are at a higher risk of falls.

Lift chairs– or Power Lift recliners as they are commonly called-help prevent falls by assisting you safely to your feet.

The lift motor pushes you gently up, and slowly forward at an angle. This allows you to safely plant your feet in front of you and then shift your weight to your feet when you are stable. Since the armrests follow you up, you can hold on to them for a little extra support as you go, and eliminate the need to struggle. You may not even need to lift your chair all the way- just part way. Many folks find that just lifting a few inches gives them the help they need to stand up. No more rocking back and forth to gain momentum, and potentially end up in a face-plant.GT Lift chair TV

Of course Power Lift Recliners have other great benefits as well! First they are super comfortable. They come in lots of great looking styles that are sure to blend with your décor- they definitely don’t look like “medical devices” anymore! The ability to recline and lift your feet helps with relaxation and eases back pain. Some Power Lift Recliners also offer specialized positioning which can aid in the treatment of Edema, COPD and CHF.

So to recap, lift chairs help to prevent falls by safely lifting you to your feet, and taking the struggle out of arising from a chair. Using a lift chair will help you maintain your independence and reduce your risk of falling! Check out our full selection of lift chairs on our website today-

December 6, 2016

Sleep Better-sleeping together!

sleep better

When the Doctor prescribes a hospital bed, many people, especially couples are reluctant. She doesn’t want the “medical look” of a hospital bed in their home. He says they sleep better when they sleep together!

An email from one of our customers:

“Ronnie,

I hope you won’t think this is silly, but…my wife and I have slept together nearly every night for 30 years. Now due to a medical condition, the doctor is recommending that she sleeps in a hospital bed. We don’t want to sleep apart, and my wife does not want to ruin the décor of our home! Do you have any suggestions that might help us go along with doctor’s orders, but still sleep together as a couple?

Here’s hoping-

Walter”

Dear Walter,

Of course I don’t think you are silly! Sleeping with your loved one is one of life’s sweet and simple gifts, and why give that up if it’s not absolutely necessary. I’m glad there are options available to you and other couples facing the same situation. Your best choice will ultimately depend on the reason for her doctor’s recommendation of a hospital bed, but let’s discuss three of the most common ones.

  1. Sleep Apnea is a big issue. Many times this condition responds well to sleeping with the head of the bed elevated.
  2. Acid Reflux. People with this condition will sleep better with the upper body elevated higher than the stomach. Adjustable beds can assist with this digestive disorder.
  3. Back Pain. One of the most common complaints in America today, can often be relieved by sleeping with knees slightly bent, and the head slightly elevated.      Sleep better in a Reverie Adjustable Bed

All three of these conditions can be alleviated by sleeping in a hospital bed, since the head and foot ends of hospital beds are able to be raised and lowered placing the head or feet at an angle.  Hospital beds are covered as a Medicare Capped Rental item, if a beneficiary qualifies for one medically, and you rent the bed through the Medicare contracted supplier for your area. Unfortunately, hospital beds are narrow- generally 36″ wide- so they only accommodate one person. Not all that attractive. Hospital bed mattresses are not exactly as comfortable as one might wish for, either! It may be that the doctor prescribed a hospital bed since he or she knew it would accomplish her need for special positioning, and be covered under Medicare.sleep better with an acid-reflux-bed

Adjustable Beds offer basically the same positioning options to help you sleep better, using a more sophisticated hand-held remote control. One major advantage is they come in regular bed sizes- Twin, Full, Queen and King, allowing couples to sleep better, together as usual. Many models offer a size Split Queen or Split King also- which lets you sleep side-by-side, but each person has control over their own side of the bed.  Adjustable beds offer a great selection of luxurious mattress choices as well. Pillow tops, Memory foam, Latex, all the styles- and they look like regular furniture when they are in the flat position. Some models also incorporate wave massage to help with circulation and to achieve the type of relaxation that will help you sleep better. Nothing medical about the appearance at all!

Just so you know, Adjustable beds are not covered by Medicare, they are a cash purchase item only.

sleep better in a supernal-bedSome Adjustable beds also incorporate special high-low adjustments which can further aid certain medical needs. For instance the 185 Hi-Low bed by Flex-a -Bed can raise up to an overall height of 32 inches from the floor. Raising the bed level that high provides a great working height for caregivers- perhaps when bathing a patient in bed, or other patient care related needs.  Beds that lower down closer to the floor can assist those who must slide transfer into a wheelchair from bed. Beds that lower very close to the floor can be used as an additional safety measure for folks who either fall out or want to get out of bed when they shouldn’t. Many Adjustable beds can be ordered with side rails as well, to help folks stay safe when entering and exiting their bed.

Walter, I hope that you will speak with the physician, and ask if an adjustable bed would provide the same features he or she was seeking when they suggested a hospital bed. If so, take the time to view our complete selection at Spinlife.com.

Wishing you all the best!

Ronnie

 

November 17, 2016

Honoring Caregivers during National Family Caregivers month

caring for caregivers

 

In honoring caregivers, let us not only be thankful for the care we may receive, but likewise be thankful for those who care.

Family caregivers know this first hand. It is said that we never realize how loved we are until times of need. There’s truth to that – a wonderful truth. However, there’s a second truth: we don’t know how deeply we can love until we give of ourselves to someone in need.

When adversity strikes our health, it’s astounding how so many caregivers rise in our most vulnerable times, with grace and dignity that doesn’t just physically help us, but also emotionally heals us. It can be as simple as a neighbor who brings a home-cooked meal every eve, or as complex as a spouse who must help bathe us. Sometimes it’s a paid, skilled professional, with a heart of gold, who goes beyond a job description to address not just the patient, but also the person. Indeed, caregivers are diverse, varying based on the situation.

Yet, they share one common trait: they put one in need before oneself. Caregivers don’t just care – they give of themselves, selflessly, in an authentic way that reveals the purest humanity.

The philosopher, Laozi, said, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” So many caregivers exhibit such courage, where they give of themselves in even the most harrowing of circumstances, often in ways no one ever sees or knows. It’s the husband who helps his wife bathe and dress for church, where he does her hair and makeup so perfectly that Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t deter her Sunday’s best. It’s the mother who was up all night consoling her son who doesn’t sleep well due to autism, then goes to work in the morning, smiling. And, it’s the adult son who ensures every aspect of his mother’s care, all while caring for his own family. These are the types of caregivers who love and give and serve with little recognition, and dare to love deeply, with courage, sometimes alone in their efforts.family caregivers month

As we honor caregivers, let us not only be thankful for the care we ourselves, receive, but likewise be thankful for those who care. Let us acknowledge the selflessness that caregivers exhibit simply because they love deeply, with humanity and courage, where the reciprocity of caregiving ultimately gives to us all.