Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Discover wine events in your area

It has been said that a little wine occasionally is good for you - well, what better way to get out and relax, either with your care recipient or as a way to pamper yourself, than to visit a wine event in your area?

You can search the Wine and Food events calendar, worldwide by city. It's easy to use, just find your city, or one nearby, in the list on the main page (the number in the parenthesis indicate how many events are currently listed for that city). Click on the name of the city you want to see a list for and then read through the list of events in your area, select an event for details on that event.. is the world's largest on-line international wine and food events calendar. The site allows retailers, restaurants, vineyards, wholesalers, or anyone else involved in the food and wine industry to notify the public of upcoming wine and food events in their cities.

Take a look around the site, explore a few wine events in your city, then take a friend and a designated driver and go sample some fine wines to recharge yourself and enjoy some time away from the stress of being a full-time caregiver.

You can also sign up to be notified of events in your area. Planning a trip? They list international events too - check the site before you go to see what is going on at your destination.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Recognizing the Warning Signs of Caregiver Burnout

It is very easy to neglect your own needs when you are responsible for the needs of another adult, this makes it very easy for caregivers to not even realize that they are in danger of burning out until it is too late to avoid the extreme physical and emotional crash that is known as caregiver burnout.

There are warning signs to watch for that can help you diagnose the symptoms of burnout and, hopefully, take steps to prevent it before the symptoms get out of control.

Some of the warning signs of pending burnout are:

- Feelings of extreme fatigue and lack of energy
- Lack of concentration and mental focus, including missing appointments
- Insomnia or having trouble staying asleep when you can sleep
- Depression or feelings of anxiety about the future
- Feelings of alienation from family and friends
- Withdrawal from activities you enjoy and friends/family
- A feeling of not being able to cope with everyday things
- General irritability or feelings of anger towards others, including the patient
- Mood Swings
- Appetite changes, lack of appetite or eating too much (weight gain/loss)
- General health problems
- Neglecting or treating roughly the person for whom you are caring
- Losing control physically or emotionally

If you have felt or feel any of these warning signs, please, talk to someone about them. The only way you can provide the care that you want to be able to provide for your loved one is if you are healthy physically, mentally and emotionally.

One Touch Can Opener

I've seen this product on TV a lot - the can opener that lets you open cans with one touch of a button. It looks to me like a great product for anyone that has arthritis or other problems with the hands that make using a manual can opener difficult if not impossible. My other interest in this can opener is for travel - it would slip right into the drawer of a tiny motorhome kitchenette and eliminate the need of a bulky countertop can opener in the motorhome while still making it possible to open cans without fighting a manual can opener.

Reading up on the One Touch Can Opener provides the following additional information that makes it sound like a great product for caregivers too: It will automatically shut off when the can is open and does not require you to touch the can while it is working - I love this because it means that in a busy kitchen like ours I can be working at the stove and leave things for only a few seconds to start the can of peas opening, and go right back to stirring the gravy before it burns without worrying about holding onto the can of peas.

Monday, August 28, 2006

What Is Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver Burnout is a condition that occurs when caregivers feel overstressed by the responsibility of caring for another adult - generally their parent or a spouse. The day to day demands of being a caregiver can add up quickly, resulting in the caregiver getting less and less sleep and spending more time worrying over details such as if they remembered appointments, do they have the money to pay bills, have they forgot to order medication refills, did they remember to feed the dog and goldfish, and so forth. As you can see even small things can suddenly become a factor of added stress and contribute to the caregiver feeling a sense of being "burned out".

Most who suffer from caregiver burnout do not even realize what is happening to them until the problem has already progressed to a point where they are getting increasingly short tempered, crying easily, feeling hopeless about their situation as a caregiver, or worst of all, taking their frustrations out on the care recipient.

Next - Recognizing signs of caregiver burnout

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Home security systems

When a person takes on the responisibility for caring for another person, such as an elderly parent, one concern is keeping the care recipient safe when they are home alone. Home Security Systems are a vital part of keeping those you care about safe and secure and I urge you to look into the different systems that are available today.

In addition to the traditional systems are such systems as the CareBot - a robot that will watch over your loved one and even alert you or the person you specify in the event that the caer recipient is prone on the floor (it knows the difference between laying on the bed or a piece of furniature and laying on the floor). CareBots can even protect the outside of the home.

Other kinds of systems include the life alert type worn by the care recipient that allows them to call for help in the even of an emergency, and standard home security systems that are monitored by a service 24 hours a day.

Look around and research the various kinds and benefits of each, ask friends or people online about systems and what they like or don't like to make the most informed descision you can for the safety of your loved one.

Theme: Caregiver Burnout

The theme for the week of August 27th to September 3rd is going to be caregiver burnout. During this week I plan to cover the following information:

1 - what is caregiver burnout?
2 - recognizing the warning signs of caregiver burnout
3 - the importance of taking time out for yourself
4 - how to find help when you are burned out
5 - getting friends and other family members to help
6 - what you can do to lessen the burden of a caregiver
7 - life after burnout

Weekly Theme

I have decided that I am going to start a weekly theme for the Family C.A.R.E. blog - this will be a specific theme that I will seek to discuss each week as a way to better focus the posts for the blog and prompt myself into writing.

I am working on what themes would be of interest to family caregivers an would like any suggestions that anyone might have for a theme they would like for me to cover. Do you want me to discuss caregiver stress? Talking to doctors? Medication researching? Travel with a care recipient? Laws that effect caregivers? - let me know what interests you as a family caregiver and I will work out a weekly theme for it.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Electric Fireplace Information

With the dangers of traditional wood fireplaces, and the realistic advances in electric fireplaces, it makes sense for family caregivers caring for anyone that might somehow injure themselves around a traditional fire to consider the option of installing an electric Fireplace. Electric fireplaces can offer the same soothing fireplace effect and heat benefits as a traditional fireplace, but are significantly safer. If you or your loved one love fireplaces, then you might want to look into the option of such alternatives. A good source for that is the Electric Fireplace page, a blog that lists both the pros and cons of electric fireplaces.

Gubernatorial candidates and issues facing seniors

Okay, this is going to be a bit regional in interest, being of interest mostly just to Alaskans, but maybe it'll help people in other states in thinking of what they want to say in similar letters. I have decided to find out just what the folks running for office in Alaska think about the issues facing Alaska's seniors and family caregivers, so tonight I wrote a letter to one of the gubernatorial candidates, Sarah Palin.

The letter follows (edited to protect my personal information), I intend to write similar letters to the others running for office. (Critiques on the letter welcome.)

Mrs Palin,

On your website under "issues" you say:

Pro-Family, Pro-Veterans, Pro-Seniors, Pro-Life
Sarah respects all Alaskans, at every age. She honors those who have fought for our freedoms. Sarah knows our veterans and State elders have given us the opportunities we're so blessed to enjoy today. She believes in showing that respect by making sure we return to our veterans and seniors the necessities they deserve for all they provided as they built up this Great Land.

As a full-time family caregiver (what I think is probably the highest stress, unpaid job in the world), I would be very interested to know just where you stand in regards to issues that effect family caregivers and those they provide care for. Issues such as H.R. 175 - the Family Caregiver Security Act of 2005, which seeks to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for the use of qualified family caregivers in the provision of home health aide services under the Medicare Program. This bill would provide for payment for the services of a family caregiver " a rate comparable to the rate otherwise paid for such services provided by other qualified personnel". This amendment was scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2006, however it is locked up in the Committee on Ways and Means, and the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Based on the U.S. Census Bureau, 2005 American Community Survey, there are 42,156 persons age 65 or older living in Alaska - that is 6.2% of the population with an estimated 31,337 households with one or more people aged 65 and over in the state.

Currently there is a program in Alaska that would provide for the payment of services by family caregivers whose care recipient receives Medicaid, however, they only work with people on the Medicaid program. For family caregivers in a position such as I am, where the care recipient is just above the level of qualifying for Medicaid, there is no assistive programs in Alaska outside of the Food Stamp program. Even when the care recipient is a veteran, as my father is, there are no programs to provide for family caregivers. One of the major concerns facing caregivers (or at least me) is the issue of their own health care and eventual retirement and how years of working as a full-time caregiver will make it difficult if not impossible to retire.

With this in mind I would be very interested in finding out just what your own thoughts on these issues are and what, if anything, you might have considered as possible courses of action that might address these issues.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration of this inquiry.

City, AK
Phone #


Time to retire, or just visiting?

For many years Florida has been seen as the place that people move top when they retire, or where they go on vacation with their children. There is another side to Florida.

If you have been considering looking for somewhere warm to vacation with you loved on then chances are you might just be interested in an Orlando Rental Home.

Orlando is well known for Walt Disney World, but there is far more to see and do. Imagine taking a drive out through the tolling hills and ancient oaks where the countryside is dotted with horse ranches. In the mood for something wilder? How about an airboat tour of the Everglades?

Whether you are looking to retire to Florida or are just visiting to recharge yourself, there is so much more to see and do than theme parks.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Sleep patterns

It seems that my dad's sleep pattern is completely flip-flopped now, and has been for a while. I've asked the doctors if they would renew his prescription for sleeping pills that I let expire looooong ago because I didn't like giving them to him if he could go without them - however, none of the doctors will renew it for him. This leaves dad miserable with his leg aching in the middle of the night, which makes him grouchy and snapping at me and mom, and we are both about to keel over from sleep deprivation. Dad sleeps during the day, but late at night, around 3 a.m., he wakes and can't get back to sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. I've tried keeping him awake during the day - believe me, I've TRIED, but it just dosen't work.

So, I've come up with a new plan that me and mom are going to try. I'm going to sleep early in the evening and she'll stay up with dad until 3 or 4 a.m., then wake me up. I'll stay awake from then until I wake her sometime after around noon or so, then I'll go back to sleep around 8 or 9 pm to get in a full 6 hours of sleep and wake up for the 3 or 4 a.m. to noon shift on caregiver duties. Hopefully it'll work and my mom'll have the help of my brother that lives next door, so she should be able to let me sleep, then I can let her sleep from 3 or 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. or noon.

We'll see if it actually works or not.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Working Online as a Problogger

If you're like me, you are a stay-at-home caregiver that has full-time responsibility and no chance to get out and look for work outside the home.

The Internet then becomes a link to outside sources of entertainment, socialization and even income. There are many ways to make money on-line from eBay to Amazon. One way that few consider is problogging.

Problogging simply means that the person keeping the on-line blog/journal earns revenue from their blog through sponsors and/or advertisers. Most of the major blogs you find are supported by sponsors and advertisers. To get started as a problogger you need an established blog through a service such as Blogger, (most advertising sites request blogs that are at least 3 months old and have current posts within the past 7 days), then you need to create an account with a program such as Blogsvertise which pays bloggers to post articles on assigned websites/services/products. Blogsvertise does not require posts to endorse products, allowing the blogger to provide their unbiased opinion on the product/service and still earn revenue for discussing it on their blog.

In addition to advertising services such as Blogsvertise, the blogger can make money through ads from services such as Google's AdSense placed on their blogs or from standard affiliate partnerships with companies such as Amazon or eBay.

While problogging is not likely to make you rich overnight, it can be a source of an average income of $200 to $500 a month. This can be a lifesaver in helping to offset bills and general costs accrued in the course of being a full-time caregiver.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Powered Wheelchairs On-line

You all know the kinds of trouble that I've been complaining about having getting my dad a powered wheelchair. Well, I think I may have found another option for where to get him one - I was looking over their powered chairs and am impressed. They have a nice looking powered chair for indoor and outdoor use that even has the captain's chair design - normally it's $5,277.00, but they have it listed as $2,299.00. Best part, you can get free shipping - deals. And they even accept Medicare, so that's good.

Check them out - you can get durned near anything you might need from, not just wheelchairs. I was looking at the walker chair things - never seen those before - wish they had had those at the place that my dad was trying to relearn how to walk years ago.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Searches for the visually challenged

Good news for family caregivers who have a loved one that searches the Internet. Google is developing a new search page called Accessible Search that ranks pages based not just on their Page Rank but also based on their compliance to Web Accessibility guidelines. Most .gov and .edu sites are already Web Accessible compliant, which means that you still get these invaluable resources, but you will also get sites that you can feel confident are easy to navigate and user friendly for the visually challenged user.
Caregivers with websites of their own can revise their code, or use a search engine marketing firm, to achieve a more user friendly website and thereby better ranking on Google's new Accessible Search.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Senior's and pets

Pets are a wonderful thing for seniors. They have been clinically proven to help reduce stress and lower blood pressure. We have a Shitzu and a siamese cat - both of which provide both comfort and irritation at times, but they are part of the family and we love them dearly.

If you would like to get the benefits of a pet, but can not get one where you live or because of constraints on the needed care for a pet, then perhaps another option might be to do what many senoir centers have begun doing and have a companion pet brought in occassionally? Maybe a friend has a cat or small dog that loves to be around people that you can bring in to visit your care recipient a day or two a week? Or every other week. Maybe take your care recipient to the mall and browse through the pet store? Or go visit a children's petting zoo? There are many ways to make animals a part of your care recipient's life and the soothing effects have been proven to be well worth it.

Get ready to pamper yourself

November is National Family Caregiver month. Now is the time to start preparing for a day of pampering to kick off the month of November. I have started my preparations for this by getting a large basket and starting to fill it with pampering products such as bubble bath and little chocolate candies to indulge in. I plan to add a few things such as a CD of soothing music and some candles and teas.

Other ideas for how to pamper yourself include:

  • Find someone that can keep an eye on your care recipient for a few hours and go out to a movie or dinner on your own or with a friend you have not had time to visit with for too long.
  • Buy a DVD that you have wanted to see for a long time.
  • Have someone keep an eye on your care recipient while you go to the beauty parlor/barber and get a haircut.

There are many other ways to pamper yourself for this day - please, feel free to share your own ideas with everyone. The important thing is, no matter if you celebrate alone or with a friend or with the person you provide care for even, you should make as much time just for yourself as possible. Rejuvenate your tired and worn out batteries and know that the family caregiver is not forgotten (just sorely misstreated).

Friday, August 18, 2006

Finding Time for Yourself

When you are a full-time family caregiver it can seem like an impossibility to find time for yourself. You work all day and often all night to provide care to your loved one, leaving so little time for yourself that even necessities like bathing seem to be a guilty pleasure that you have to sneak for yourself.

It is important to get this time, however. You can not care for your care recipient if you are not healthy yourself. One way to sneak time and not feel guilty about it is to multitask. Leave a book on the back of the toilet and read it while you are in there - you have to go in there after all - what harm can it be to take a few extra minutes to catch up on what is happening in your novel? Another option is to do some simple stretching excercises in the bathtub. Spend a few minutes just relaxing and turning side to side or lifting your legs under the water. You know what yuou can and can't do, so be creative and get in some stretches while you relax - bathing by caldlelight when possible makes this so much more relaxing. Another option, if you use a step to get into the higher cabinets, then step up and down from it as you put things away one at a time - this lets you use the step as a stair stepper exerciser and still get needed work done. I like to get up a few hours before I know my parents are going to be getting up - this allows me to get things done while they are still asleep in their own beds, giving me some much needed *me* time.

Be creative and sneaky if you have to be, but see what time you can find to be for your. You'll feel better and be better able to cope with the stress of caregiving.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Meetup and Caregivers

I went out to looking for cargivers there - lot of people looking for groups, but no groups except one in California.

I considered starting one myself, but I am the only one in Alaska looking for a group and can't afford the expense when there's no one else there.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wheel chair *still* in limbo

Well, the wheel chair folks called today, the status of the chair is still in limbo. They are waiting for the doctor's office to get the paperwork mom and me dropped off filled out and back to them so they can try this all over again.

Still keeping our fingers crossed on it.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dropped off papers at doctor - again

Mom and me went into town and dropped paperwork off at Dad's doctor. Seems that when the powered wheel chair paperwork arrived at the place that is working to get him his chair the fax machine had mangled it and it has to be redone and sent back. So today mom and me dropped the papers off with the doctor and made a appointment to get dad in to see them to see if the Fosomax that he's taking is why his leg is cramping up so badly at night. Also have them setting him up to get x-rays of his foot, just to make sure that it's not that he stepped wrong on it and broke something.

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