Thursday, October 25, 2018

"It Takes A Villiage"

The phrase "it takes a village" is often heard in reference to raising children but another role where a village community is helpful is that of caregiving. Caregiving requires not only finances, physical, mental and emotional energy but it is often a task many individuals attempt to do alone. Most have no idea what is required until they are often abruptly thrust into the role. As people are living longer due to the wonders of modern technology it becomes vital to plan and look ahead as to how one can be prepared to navigate this role.
We all know the saying "when you fail to plan, you plan for failure" and when it comes to caregiving, not only the individual who needs care suffers but the one tasked to provide care often suffers more.
Caregiving often robs caregivers time to care for themselves causing an array of physical, emotional and mental problems. Those in need of care can often fall victim to abuse and/or neglect.
Remember, you cannot care effectively for someone else, unless you first take care of yourself.  Spend some time gaining an understanding of caregivers stress and ways to take control of your life as a caregiver. 
The big key to caregiving is resources...resources...resources. What things are available to you that will allow you to make aging and the role of caregiving a bit easier. Finding those resources often is not easy but they are out there. A very interesting concept I've recently learned about is called "village movements". This is where a group of individuals usually 50+ form a non-profit with the goal of providing services for themselves which will allow members to remain in their homes as long as possible. Many of the services provided are at reduced rate or provided by a network of volunteers. Villages are continuously expanding across the country. To learn more if there is one near you check the helpful village map.
I do not know about you but with the grace of God and the help of family and friends. I hope to live a long, full and vibrant life. Spend time thinking about what your caregiving needs may be and who will be involved. Caregiving is a full time job but definitely does not have to do alone. Check back next week where I will have more on how technology can be a useful tool for caregiving.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

All About Having a Clear Understanding

As a community patient advocate I spend many hours with friends, family and community members in healthcare environments. One thing I've noticed, over the past 10 years strides have been taken to help ensure individuals who speak a different language have an interpreter and/or printed material in their primary language. In addition, some facilities usage of graphics have aided greatly to convey vital health information and navigation throughout facilities.
One area I often see that still has a way to go is to ensure what is said by the provider is completely understood by the patient. Just recently a triage nurse said to my cousin,"so you have CHF" and to her that had absolutely no meaning. Before I told her the meaning, Congestive Heart Failure, her  response was "if  you say so, I guess that is what I have". Imagine if she had very little concept of the definition of CHF chances are she had even less understanding of the consequences of her diagnosis.
The use of medical abbreviations and acronyms can be confusing and often intimidating to someone without a medical background or low health literacy. Health literacy is not only important when an individual utilizes the healthcare system but it  plays a vital part in prevention and wellness.
The first step an individual can take is to be advocates for themselves in the healthcare system. Providers only know you do not understand something unless you inform them of that. Your overall course of adequate and quality care depends on good communication. Take steps to do your part in this two way system called communication by learning "Questions to ask your doctor". Never feel you do not deserve answers and if you have a doctor unwilling to take time for your questions...perhaps it is time for a new one.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Benefits of Yoga for Seniors & Caregivers

Guest Author: Harry Cline

Getting older can come with its fair share of pains and struggles. Little things such as mood swings, hot flashes and achy muscles can become more frequent. Yoga and meditation can provide benefits to both seniors and caregivers as they get older.

Yoga and meditation can provide benefits that other exercises can’t provide. It will ease the burdens of life that seniors and caregivers face on a daily basis. Caregivers especially need some TLC since they are typically working around the clock caring for you.

Helps facilitate addiction recovery

Yoga and meditation can provide healing to people going through addiction recovery. For many people in recovery, having a good relationship with the physical self is just as important as the spiritual one. In fact, many addiction specialists are turning to yoga and similar types of therapies to supplement traditional 12-step programs. That’s because meditation focuses on mindfulness, which can allow the addict to experience feelings of peace and comfort. Yoga is also about community, because everyone in the class is breathing together, which can allow addicts to realize that they’re not alone in their recovery.

Improves blood circulation

For seniors or caregivers who are struggling to find low-impact exercises that don’t strain their joints and muscles, yoga and meditation can be great alternatives. It can surprisingly get your blood flowing without tiring you out. Yoga is a community activity because all attendees are there to breathe together and practice mindfulness. That means everyone supports each other, and they won’t judge you if you need to sit down during a class. It’s important to keep your blood flowing because it will give you the energy you need to get through the day.

Allows for relaxation

Practicing regular physical activity (yes, that includes yoga), can not only improve your body, but also it can improve your mental health. As you age, this becomes increasingly important. It will also benefit your caregiver because when you’re at peak mental health, it will be easier on them to take care of you. Because yoga allows you and your caregiver to practice mindfulness, you will also be able to relax. A lot of worrying may come into your life as you get older, and yoga and meditation are great ways to push those worries aside and enjoy the little things.

Provides community interaction

If you don’t spend a lot of time with others, yoga can be a great way to meet people in your community. Look and see if they have yoga classes in your area that are targeted toward seniors. Sign up for a class and get there a little early to try and meet a few people before it starts. Yoga provides an easy conversation starter and you can chat about how you enjoyed the class. It’s a great social activity, and working out with friends will keep you motivated to stay fit.

Ability to practice anywhere

If it’s not in your budget to sign up for daily or weekly yoga classes, you can easily practice it at home. That’s one of the biggest benefits of yoga and meditation — you don’t have to be in a professional yoga studio to practice. In fact, you can do it at home. Figure out an area of your home that you want to use as a meditation and yoga room. It should be an uncluttered space with some room on the floor for your mat. Make sure it’s quiet; you can even try lighting some candles to set the mood. Sit down on your mat and try to get rid of all the thoughts in your head and focus on the moment. Once you practice a couple of times at home, you’ll realize you don’t need to listen to a yoga teacher to meditate. Yoga is a great activity that you and your caregiver can do together at home.