Taking Care: Caregivers Appreciation Month

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

November is designated as National Caregiver Appreciation Month, a time to honor the people who give freely of their time and resources in the service of others. At any given time in the United States, it is estimated that around 50 million people are providing care for an aging family member or friend, or a loved one with a chronic disease or disability. Many of these caregivers, especially those providing care for a spouse or significant other, are singlehandedly managing the spectrum of caregiving, from transportation to medication management, with no medical background or training. At Senior Lifestyle we recognize that caregiving, while fulfilling, is also highly physically, emotionally and mentally stressful and can be profoundly frustrating, even for those with medical training.

Caregiver burnout is a very real risk for those who provide care for others. Ironically, caregivers are often unable to see the signs of caregiver stress in themselves; the indicators of emotional fatigue on the caregiver may be noticed first by a medical provider, another family member or a friend. The following signs may be subtle, but should be heeded:

  • Feelings of depression and isolation.
  • A sense of ongoing and constant fatigue.
  • Decreasing interest in work.
  • Withdrawal from social contacts.
  • Increase in use of stimulants and alcohol.
  • Change in eating and sleeping patterns.
  • Feelings of helplessness.

While recognizing signs of caregiver burnout is important, taking steps to combat burnout is equally vital to maintaining health and the ability to continue caring for a loved one. Tips to combat caregiver stress:

  • Consult with professionals to explore burnout issues.
  • Attend a support group to receive feedback and coping strategies.
  • Vary the focus of caregiving responsibilities if possible (rotate responsibilities with family members.)
  • Exercise daily and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Accept help when it is offered. While many people are unable to perform as a primary caregiver, they can take on other vital duties such as grocery shopping or errands.
  • Stay involved in hobbies.

The role caregivers play in their loved ones’ health and comfort is a significant one, a responsibility that can take a toll on the caregiver’s health. With support and self-care, caregiving is more manageable and enjoyable for everyone involved. At the same time, it is imperative to know one’s limit when providing care. Consulting with a trusted medical professional is always recommended to gauge this properly, and when care can no longer be managed at home on a full-time basis, caregivers need to be aware of resources in their area such as respite care, adult day centers and senior living communities. Senior Lifestyle communities provide respite care as well as assisted living and memory care and our trained community specialists are available to help families navigate the transition to senior living when the need arises. To learn more about senior care options in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Honored to Serve: Veterans Day

Posted by in Holidays.

Saturday, November 11th is Veterans Day, an occasion often marked by parades, speeches and flag ceremonies to celebrate and offer our thanks to those who have served. At Senior Lifestyle we’re proud of the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces, so our senior communities across the United States will honor residents, family members and Senior Lifestyle team members for their service as well. With celebrations ranging from pinning ceremonies and Veterans Day recognition meals at local schools to care package packing parties for deployed service members, our celebrations are as unique as the wonderful people we honor.

The history behind Veterans Day is a story worth knowing;  the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs notes that while World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, it’s the “story before the story” that gave rise to the holiday we know as Veterans Day. Fighting ceased seven months prior to the Versailles Treaty when an armistice temporarily halted hostilities between the Allied Nations and Germany. This accord took place on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and was originally known as Armistice Day. President Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919 the first commemoration of Armistice Day, a holiday honoring veterans of the first World War, known as “the war to end all wars.” The day would most likely still be known as Armistice Day if World War II had not occurred; however, with the large number of American casualties, it seemed only fitting to make the day a time to give thanks to veterans of all wars, as well as those who served in peacetime. The day has been known since 1954 as Veterans Day, when President Eisenhower signed legislation designating November 11th as a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

While veterans have recently been the grateful recipients of free meals, services and discounts on Veterans Day, many say that a heartfelt “Thank you for your service” would be just as welcome. The Corporation for National and Community Service also lists several ways to support and honor veterans on its website, including mentoring the children of veterans, providing educational opportunities to veterans, and assisting them in finding employment. Each veteran and family is unique, with different stories and unique needs. Being able to share their stories and receive support is empowering for veterans, as well as those who provide support.

In Senior Lifestyle communities everywhere, we’re honored to serve those who have served our country. Additionally, we feel it’s vital to recognize the sacrifices made by families of service members, those who manage households, careers and family life during the deployment of a loved one. We hope you’ll join us, on Veterans Day and every day, in thanking a veteran for their service and sacrifice. To learn more about Veterans Day events at a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Hospice Month

Posted by in Health and Fitness, Special Events.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Senior Lifestyle recognizes hospice care as a vital component of person-centered senior care, and while we realize the subject of hospice is often fraught with both emotion and confusion, we feel that this often-misunderstood facet of senior care is a valuable option that many families don’t explore because of the misconceptions surrounding it. This year’s theme for Hospice Month, “It’s About How You Live”, sheds light on the purpose and aim of hospice: a focus on caring instead of curing, allowing patients with life-limiting illnesses to navigate their end-of-life journey with dignity and compassionate care.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization shares some history about hospice care, noting that the first modern hospice, St. Christopher’s Hospice, was created in suburban London by physician Dame Cicely Saunders. Saunders began working with terminally ill patients in 1948 and coined the term “hospice” to describe specialized care provided for dying patients. In 1963, while serving as a guest lecturer at Yale University, Dame Saunders introduced the concept of hospice care to medical students, nurses, social workers and chaplains. Pointing to photographic evidence of terminal patients with their families, she showed the dramatic improvement brought about by providing symptom control care. Hospice care as we know it today is a direct result of this lecture.

Six important points to know about hospice from NHPCO:

  1. Hospice care is usually provided in the home – wherever the patient calls home. This includes assisted living communities and other long-term-care settings.
  2. Hospice cares for people with any kind of life-limiting illness. Patients of every age and religion can access hospice care.
  3. Hospice is fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health plans and HMOs.
  4. Hospice is not limited to six months of care. Patients and families are encouraged to contact a hospice provider when they receive a terminal diagnosis instead of waiting until the “last days” to benefit from all that hospice care has to offer. Pain management and symptom control offer significant physical benefits for patients as well as increased quality of life.
  5. Hospice is not “giving up”; rather the focus is on caring, not curing. Hospice organizations are also trained to help family members cope with the emotional aspects of caring for a terminally ill loved one, as well as the grieving process when that loved one passes.
  6. Anyone can contact hospice – so call your local program to learn if hospice is right for you or your loved one. Each hospice provider in an area may do things slightly differently, so choose an organization based on your needs. Many hospitals and skilled care facilities can offer suggestions or information on hospice care.

Senior Lifestyle communities welcome hospice organizations as care partners and recognize the incredibly vital service they provide not only for our residents but their families as well. Our communities partner with hospice organizations to provide care for our residents who choose to walk their end-of-life journey with us; we are honored to do so. To learn more about services and lifestyle options at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.