First Choice In-Home Care Blog

5 Traits Required for Home Health Care Providers

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 10, 2017 5:29:00 PM / by First Choice posted in In-Home Health Care, Caregiver, Professional Caregiver

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The demand for home health care workers is expected to skyrocket in the years ahead due to the rapidly aging population. While this is good news for people looking for the stability and satisfaction promised by a job in this crucial field, it's important to acknowledge that home health care careers aren't for everyone.

Beyond the obvious "hard" skills required of home health care providers, what soft skills do you need to succeed? These five traits are a great place to start.
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Pets and Home Health Care

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 28, 2017 1:00:00 PM / by First Choice posted in In-Home Health Care, Aging, Caregiver

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When a senior in your family becomes ill or unable to care for activities of daily life alone, your family must make some hard decisions. Understandably, you want to do what is in the best interest of your loved one.

Not every decision is clear cut, however. For instance, should you let a senior with failing health continue to own a beloved pet?

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The Value of Support Groups for Senior Care Providers

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 1, 2017 9:49:00 AM / by First Choice posted in Senior Care, Caregiver

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The Family Caregiver Alliance reports that 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to family members in the last twelve months. 34.2 million caregivers are providing care for someone over the age of 50.

On average, family caregivers spend 24.4 hours per week providing care and 25 percent of caregivers actually spend 41 or more hours per week doing so. Caregivers provide senior care in the form of support with activities of daily living as well as performing tasks such as grocery shopping, housekeeping, transportation, and so on.

If you are one of these caregivers, you are to be commended. Being the primary caregiver for a senior whose mental or physical health is declining is one of the most stressful and challenging jobs you will likely ever have. For this reason, you may find that you need some additional support to handle your situation.
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4 Tips to Help You Avoid Caregiver Stress

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 17, 2017 11:24:00 AM / by First Choice posted in In-Home Health Care, Senior Care, Caregiver

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It is perfectly natural to feel some stress when you are caring for a senior whose physical or mental health is in a state of decline. Worry over your loved one, the anxiety that comes with managing new tasks, and the everyday challenges that you face can all become sources of stress.

However, sometimes caregivers fall prey to a different level of stress, one that is not natural or healthy. How can you know if your stress level is approaching this level? And what can you do to handle your stress effectively as a caregiver?

Symptoms of Caregiver Stress and Caregiver Burnout

The Alzheimer's Association provides a list of stress symptoms that caregivers should never ignore. They are:
  • Denial of the seriousness of your loved one's condition
  • Anger
  • Social withdrawal from friends and activities that you once considered pleasurable
  • Anxiety
  • Depression or apathy
  • Exhaustion
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Health problems that seem to linger, or follow closely one after another

If these symptoms are not addressed promptly or appropriately, you may fall victim to a more severe condition known as caregiver burnout. With this condition, the symptoms mentioned above become even more pronounced, and your ability to function and provide adequate care for your loved one or even for yourself is compromised.

Considering the serious effects of caregiver stress and caregiver burnout, it makes sense to seek help as soon as you recognize any of the symptoms mentioned above.
Tips for Caregiver Stress

The good news is that you can manage caregiver stress effectively if you pay heed to what your body and mind are telling you. Here are some tips for relieving caregiver stress:

1) Cultivate a smidgen of selfishness: As the primary caregiver for a loved one, you are likely accustomed to putting your needs on the back burner. This, however, is not always a sustainable strategy. Your needs are just as important as the needs of the one for whom you are caring, and you cannot deny that and still remain physically and emotionally healthy.

Practice a mindful approach to self-care. Pay attention to your body and your spirit. Take time each day to re-connect with the inner you, even if it is only for a few minutes.

2) Assert your independence: Caring for a loved one can narrow your world view down to just the small space of your senior's orbit. Resist the inclination to limit your focus to the failing health of your loved one. Assert your independence by remembering who and what you are, apart from your role as caregiver.

3) Breathe: Something as simple as breathing can help you reduce stress. Just as deep breathing can help women endure the pain of childbirth, so too, can deep breathing help you relax. Take a few minutes each day to sit somewhere quiet and simply breathe deeply in and out for several minutes.

4) Tap home health care for help: One of the best ways to relieve caregiver stress is to find outside help to take some of the load off your shoulders. The truth is that, even though you are indispensable to your loved one, there are other people who can take some of the routine tasks off your plate, giving you time to handle more important matters.

Home health care is an excellent way to get help for your senior and relieve your own stress levels in the process. Home health care workers will help your loved one with activities of daily living, such as bathing, grooming, toileting, eating, and so on.

Home health care workers provide respite care so that you can have some time away from a stressful situation. Sometimes respite care for even a few hours can revitalize your spirit to handle your responsibilities.

An added advantage of home health care workers is that your loved one benefits from interaction with someone new as well. This can lower your loved one's stress levels also, making the situation better for everyone concerned.

The Bottom Line

Providing good care for your senior need not send you into debilitating stress. Remaining in touch with your own feelings, taking time to care for yourself, and using available home health care resources can help you to provide your loved one with excellent care, while still maintaining a balanced lifestyle for yourself. Contact us today to request help for your loved one, and take control of the stresses in your life.

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Senior Care: Concerns about Chronic Health Problems

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 7, 2017 11:37:00 AM / by First Choice posted in In-Home Health Care, Senior Care, Caregiver

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According to the National Council on Aging, approximately 80 percent of older adults suffer from one chronic illness and 68 percent suffer from two or more. Common chronic illnesses include: heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer's disease, and hearing or vision loss.

Older adults living with these and other chronic conditions may find it difficult to manage their illness alone. As a caregiver, you may be wondering if and when to step in to help an aged loved one to shoulder the burden of chronic illness. Here are some factors to consider which will help you provide the support and care your older one requires.
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Dealing with Loss of a Patient: When the Need for Home Care is Over

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 3, 2017 8:20:00 PM / by First Choice posted in In-Home Health Care, Senior Care, Caregiver

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When a beloved family member dies, it is natural and expected that the bereaved family will grieve. Often, however, the family and friends of the deceased are not the only ones grieving the loss. Professional home caregivers also feel a great loss when a client dies.

However, unlike the family of the one who passed away, professional caregivers are often expected to simply shut down their feelings of grief and move quickly to a new client assignment. This unrealistic expectation can lead to serious emotional issues for professional caregivers. If someone for whom you provided care for some time has died, what can you do to process your grief and move on?

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Expert Interview Series: Kian Saneii of Independa On Thriving In Place

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 20, 2017 6:26:00 PM / by First Choice posted in Senior Care, Caregiver, Expert Interview

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Kian Saneii is the CEO of Independa, Inc., providing high tech, yet high touch, solutions for remote engagement and care.

Independa helps people not only "age in place", but instead "thrive in place". To start, what inspired you to start Independa? How much has it changed, since you first began?

I experienced firsthand the difficulties and related anguish of providing care to an elderly loved one, and set out to create an offering that would allow caregivers to "be there" regardless of their physical distance. The core mission to make it possible to enable better care from afar has remained the same, delivering peace of mind to caregivers, and reducing costs and anguish for caregivers and care recipients alike.

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'What If' Senior Care Discussions During the Holidays

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 22, 2016 11:21:00 AM / by First Choice posted in Aging, Caregiver, Holidays

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Families the world over look forward to the holidays as a time to get together for good food, great fun, and some much-needed time to catch up with what everyone in the family is doing. This is especially true of families whose members live far away from each other.

For these families, the holidays also represent an ideal opportunity for discussing 'what if' scenarios regarding senior care for aged loved ones. Why are such discussions necessary, and how can they help a family with a loved one who may be in need of assistance?
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Expert Interview Series: Bill Laidlaw of Nine Clouds on Bedding Options for the Elderly

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 7, 2016 11:43:00 AM / by First Choice posted in Special Needs, Caregiver, Questions, Expert Interview

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Bill Laidlaw, president of Nine Cloud Beds, has three decades of experience expert in the bedding industry.

We recently checked in with Bill to learn more about bedding options for bedridden, elderly and disabled individuals. Here's what he had to say:
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Challenges and Complications of Senior Care at Home

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 1, 2016 8:27:00 AM / by First Choice posted in In-Home Health Care, Caregiver, Questions, Professional Caregiver

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Family caregivers have a tough job and a huge responsibility. Alarmingly, however, these caregivers are often marginalized as they go about their tasks of caring for their elderly family members.
Terry Fulmer, RN, PhD, FAAN, president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, observes: "Family caregivers of older adults are almost invisible in our health care system, yet the system could not function without them."
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