Caring for Seniors: A Labor of Love

The aging population and their need for care have been overlooked for so long, that the demand for caregivers in the workforce is at a critical level. As the New York Times reports, more than 1.3 million new paid caregivers will be needed to meet the demand of the aging senior population by the year 2022. Caregiving is on track to become the largest occupation in the United States in the next 5 years and is expected to replace retail with the most people employed in the field, many of whom will work for home care agencies.

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With our senior population aging and the ‘sandwich’ generation emerging, there is a great need for caregivers. The sandwich generation refers to the age group who are caring for their parents and simultaneously caring for their own children. When you factor in their daily job and family activities, they can quickly become overwhelmed. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis Client Care Coordinator, Lori Leigh, explains why this growing field is so important and what being an in-home care assistant involves:

In an effort to meet the demands of the healthcare industry, one health professional in Maryland is proving he can make a difference with the High School Health Education Foundation. Dr. William Leahy, a semi-retired neurologist, created this foundation and has rolled out an education program aimed at attracting new young people to the field of home health care. The program is geared toward high school seniors who otherwise may not attend college, and offers free classroom instruction followed up by on-the-job training at a local retirement community. Textbooks, scrubs, and equipment are also covered by the foundation. This foundation’s education program has proven to be very competitive with high application numbers as well as successful graduates and Dr. Leahy is planning to expand the program to a high school in Washington D.C next. We hope he brings it to Minnesota as well!

returning-home-nutrition-480x450As the Minneapolis Star Tribune recently reports, health care is a gold mine – it is an occupation industry in Minnesota that is expected to grow more than 40% by the year 2022. So, what does it mean to be a caregiver? The type of care will vary and the client’s needs will really dictate what an in-home caregiver will be doing on any given day. The caregiver may be assisting with transportation, doctor visits, errands, meal preparation, medication reminders or light housekeeping. Companionship is the most important aspect of the caregiver’s day and is a big part of the caregiver client relationship, as well as being an advocate for them within the community.

Caring for seniors is a labor of love that calls for just the right person with a special touch. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis hires dedicated CAREGivers who share our passion for caring for seniors and providing in-home care assistance to join our team. This caught the attention of Leah Beno with Minneapolis KMSP Fox 9 Evening News who featured our own Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis CAREGiver, Rebecca, and her client Liz and highlighted their very special bond.

Every day, families in Minneapolis are struggling to balance raising their own family, a demanding career, and caring for a senior loved one. The family caregivers eventually run out of hours in the day and the stress becomes unmanageable. This is where a Home Instead CAREGiver steps in to help. If you believe you are that special type of person who enjoys working with seniors and wants to make a difference in the lives of older adults as a career, being a Home Instead Senior Care network CAREGiver might be the career for you. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis provides training as well as on going 24/7 support to our CAREGivers. We also provide advanced training opportunities throughout the year, including dementia and Alzheimer’s specific training, which is currently in high demand.

Home Instead offers flexible work hours, a competitive salary and health insurance benefit package, including overtime pay and paid travel time between client appointments to our employees as well. We offer this and more to our CAREGivers through a holistic approach – caring for our CAREGiver’s mind, body, and spirit. We believe when we care for our CAREGivers, they are better equipped to have meaningful relationships with the clients and their families and it will allow them to do what they do best, which is ensuring seniors live independently as long as possible.

Home Instead Senior Care understands what it takes to provide care to seniors and we are dedicated to hiring the best individuals to fill our needs. To learn more about current openings at Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis, visit the Careers tab of our website where you can also apply online or contact us by calling 763-634-8247 today.

Handling Client Incontinence: How to Get Past the Awkwardness & Other Tips

Incontinence—the inability to control bladder or bowel movements—is a condition that commonly affects older adults, and many of you might care for clients with this condition. Your client may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable needing help with such a private and personal care task. For you as the CAREGiver, it can be unpleasant and awkward at first too. But there are ways to get past that awkwardness and help set your client at ease.

A few months ago, we asked members of the CAREGiver team who have had experience with personal care how they get past the awkwardness of helping a client with private activities like toileting and bathing. Thanks to Deidre and Kristi for sharing the following advice!

“Having a medical background, I was used to these kinds of situations before starting with Home Instead. But what I do is I make sure they know what I am going to be doing.
Then, while completing the task, I talk about something else like how their day was, what their plans for tomorrow are, or even something as simple as the weather. I think this helps the client see your confidence and helps keep their mind occupied with something else rather than the task that they may be ashamed of having to have help with.” –
Deidre

“I have found being sensitive to a person’s feelings is number one. Create an environment of comfort. Keep the bathroom warm, have plenty of towels, light a candle, all this is making your client feel safe and pampered. My Ms. J didn’t like mirrors so I steered her away from mirrors, just little things that I found I could do for her. Incontinence–well we all sneeze, or giggle, so brush off the embarrassment with a hug and a ‘I know what you feel.’” – Kristi

Here are some additional incontinence caregiving tips to keep in mind:

1. Be empathetic. Losing control of bodily functions ranks among the most stressful health issues, so approach the situation with patience, dignity and respect to ease your client’s anxiety. You may find it helps reduce your own stress level as well.

2. Adopt a matter-of-fact approach. This technique can help you overcome a client’s shyness or embarrassment. Use reassurance and a straightforward manner: “Oh, that’s too bad you had an accident, but don’t worry. It happens to a lot of people. Let me help you get cleaned up and into some dry, comfortable clothes.” You may have to fake this matter-of-fact attitude at first, and that’s OK. Pretty soon, you’ll find it comes very naturally.

3. Encourage your client to wear clothes that are easy to get on and off. Slacks with an elastic waistband can be pulled down quickly, enabling your client to get on the toilet faster and possibly avoid an accident. And if you do have to help your clients with cleanup, easy-off garments make it simpler to undress and re-dress them. On the other hand, clients with dementia sometimes remove their clothes at inappropriate times and places. In those situations, you obviously would not want to encourage your client to wear clothing that’s easy to remove.

4. Watch your client’s diet. Some foods make both bladder and bowel incontinence worse. Steer your client away from caffeine (coffee, tea, and some sodas), chocolate, spicy foods and a lot of fresh or dried fruit. However, it’s still important to make sure your client stays properly hydrated.

5. Always be prepared. Pack a small tote bag with supplies such as incontinence briefs or pads, wipes and even a change of clothes in case an accident happens when you’re out and about together. Don’t allow your client to become a hermit because of incontinence issues.

It’s important to note that CAREGivers who work with incontinence care situations should complete the Home Instead Senior Care personal care training. If you have questions about your training or a client care situation, please call our franchise office.

CAREGiver Training Refresher

Toileting

Using the restroom is a private activity, so requiring assistance while toileting can be very upsetting to a client. She/he may feel that her independence is in jeopardy, so treat your client with dignity and respect when assisting her in the bathroom. Here are some additional points to remember:

  • Clients may have a difficult time getting to the bathroom due to lack of mobility. Make sure the pathway to the bathroom is clear of clutter and throw rugs, and make sure lighting is sufficient.
  • Encourage the client to wear clothes that are easy to remove.
  • Provide privacy by either leaving the room or putting a towel over her lap.
  • Be patient. Allow your client plenty of time to use the restroom.
  • If available, encourage your client to use grab bars near the toilet and a raised toilet seat as these may help with physical limitations.

3 Tips to Help Seniors Avoid Diabetes Complications and 10 Superfoods

In the midst of the holiday season with decreasing daylight hours and temperatures so cold in Minnesota you only want to stay inside and eat hotdish, it’s difficult to get motivated to eat right an exercise. Yet, with the rate of Type 2 diabetes among seniors over 60 continuing to grow, it’s imperative that seniors and their caregivers stay informed and vigilant in fighting the disease. Given that one-quarter of seniors over age 65 have been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s likely you’ll find yourself helping a senior and their home care team manage a disease that brings along a host of potential complications whether or not they’re living in a senior care facility or living independently in their Minnesota home.

home care mn3 Ways to Help Seniors Avoid Diabetes Complications

Type 2 diabetes rarely exists alone. It brings with it hypertension (high blood pressure), neuropathy (loss of feeling in the limbs) and vision trouble. Here are three ways you can assist seniors with diabetes.

1. Encourage adherence to the treatment plan As you probably know, when a senior receives a diagnosis of diabetes, their health care team will usually create a treatment plan that includes components like medication, diet, exercise, and lifestyle modifications. According to the Mayo Clinic, adhering to the treatment plan can delay or minimize complications that may arise from diabetes. Offer seniors encouragement and positive reinforcement about sticking to the care plan.

2.  Advocate good medication practices Seniors with Type 2 diabetes may take medication not only for blood sugar control but also for coexisting conditions like hypertension or high cholesterol. Managing a lot of medications can become confusing, especially for people with memory loss or other cognitive decline. For seniors who need help monitoring their medication regimen, consider suggesting a non-medical helper or use this medication tracker. These home care aides can provide medication reminders to help seniors stay on track with the many pills they may need to take each day. This in-home assistance can be particularly useful if you’re unable to visit your senior loved one every day.

3. Encourage regular medical follow-up Some diabetes complications come on so slowly a senior may not realize anything is wrong until it’s almost too late to fix the problem. Encourage seniors to schedule regular follow-up care from eye professionals and primary care providers. These routine visits can identify ‘silent’ complications like diabetic retinopathy (decreased vision), high blood pressure and heart disease in order to secure prompt treatment. If transportation to appointments is an issue, our home care team can help.

People with diabetes have the same nutritional needs as everyone else. Eating well balanced meals is the main goal. While a healthy diet and exercise alone can help some with type-2 manage their diabetes, there are many who need medications to help keep blood glucose levels down. Insulin is required for people with type-1, and sometimes necessary for people with type-2 diabetes. With the help of your healthcare team, you can find an insulin routine that will keep your blood glucose levels under control. The good news is: with a proper management plan, you can control your diabetes and feel good.

Watch a Short Video

Even with proper healthcare, home care assistance and involved family care providers, it can still be helpful to access experts who can help you with specific issues. Dr. Amy D’Aprix, MSW, PhD, CSA, is the Executive Director of the DAI Foundation on Caregiving and hosts an “Ask Dr. Amy” program for Home Instead Senior Care. Recently, she was asked, “My husband is a very severe diabetic. He takes insulin four times daily. He suffers from severe depression and has chronic pain throughout his body. He sleeps a lot. What can I do to help him?”

Dr. Amy’s Response: You and your husband are facing a challenging situation. In terms of his physical condition, I encourage you both to speak with your husband’s doctor. Pain and depression can usually be managed with the right combination of medication, therapy, diet and exercise. Ask the doctor about all four of these. It’s important to get the pain under control, because people who suffer from chronic pain tend to manage their diabetes less well than others. Your doctor may need to refer your husband to a pain specialist. Once the depression and pain are being well managed, you can help your husband stay on track in terms of diet and exercise. You can also help by making time to enjoy the activities you used to enjoy as a couple before your husband became ill, as much as possible. Lastly, you can help your husband by taking good care of yourself. If you are rested and healthy, you will be better able to care for him.diabetes home care

Controlling Weight Key to Avoiding Diabetes

Researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, examined the relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI) at 50 years of age, weight, fat mass, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, and waist-height ratio and discovered that all factors were strongly related to the risk of diabetes. Participants who were obese (BMI 30 or greater) at 50 years of age and who experienced the most weight gain (more than 20 pounds) between the age of 50 years and entry into the study had five times the risk of developing diabetes compared with weight-stable participants with normal BMI (less than 25) at 50 years of age. Ask your doctor to recommend a good diet and exercise program. If you’re having trouble managing mealtimes, why not consider joining friends for lunch at a senior center or local coffee shop. Shopping, meal preparation and mealtime companionship are among the most requested services provided by local Home Instead Senior Care® CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured.

diabetes diet10 Diabetes Superfoods Seniors Can Say “Yes!” To

Seniors who receive a diagnosis of diabetes may feel they have to give up all the foods they love. That’s not entirely true. Sure, they may have to say no to ice cream and white bread, but you can help the senior you care for adapt by offering new choices that will satisfy his or her desire for sweets and starches while keeping blood sugar levels stable.

1. Berries Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries — they all offer a sweet touch to any meal without elevating blood sugar levels too much.

2. Skim milk and fat-free yogurt Choose milk fortified with Vitamin D, which can help seniors maintain bone health. When it comes to yogurt, look for sugar-free varieties.

3. Citrus fruits Avoid fruit juices (which almost all contain added sugar) and go for the whole fruit. Oranges, lemons and limes can be eaten whole or used to add zest to other dishes. The exception? Grapefruit. Most seniors should avoid this citrus fruit because it contains compounds that may interact with medications.

4. Sweet potatoes Sweet potatoes satisfy that craving for a starch with the meal but don’t cause post-meal blood sugar spikes the way white and red potatoes do.

5. Whole grains Whole grain breads, oatmeal, brown rice and barley allow your senior to enjoy bread with meals.

6. Tomatoes Tomatoes are loaded with Vitamins C and E, along with iron. Eat them raw or cooked. (Read the labels of canned tomatoes and spaghetti sauces, which can contain undesirable levels of added sugar and salt.)

7. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables These nutrient powerhouses include spinach, kale, collard greens, beet greens and many others. Seniors who take a ‘blood-thinning’ medication like warfarin (Coumadin) should avoid dark green leafy vegetables, but all others can consume these with abandon.

8. Beans Packed with fiber, beans of all types — navy, kidney, pinto — provide protein along with the essential minerals magnesium and potassium.

9. Fatty fish Choose fresh or frozen fish like salmon once a week or more to garner the healthful effects of its Omega-3 fatty acids.

10. Nuts Almonds, walnuts, pecans and other tree nuts provide nutrients and protein, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable. Go for unsalted varieties.

Changing one’s eating pattern can be very difficult, especially for elderly loved ones. Instead of telling them what they can’t eat, help your senior with diabetes overcome dietary challenges by suggesting foods they can say ‘yes’ to every day.

The Trees Are Up! Be a Santa to a Senior!

senior videoIf you’re wondering what the Be a Santa to a Senior program is all about, one senior who received a gift from us last year explains it perfectly, “It shows there are angels on Earth.”   Trees are set up all over Minneapolis making it easy for you to be an “angel”. Tags on the trees show names of appreciative seniors like the one in this video that can’t wait to receive a gift. KSTP reporter Joe Mazan interviewed Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis’  own John Stuck as a proud supporter of the Be a Santa to a Senior program.

Be a Santa to a Senior St. Louis Park
Be a Santa to a Senior tree at the Byerly’s pharmacy in St. Louis Park, MN

Join the Be a Santa to a Senior Campaign

The Be a Santa to a Senior® campaign is all about helping seniors who are alone or in need. The campaign, which first launched in 2006 by our parent organization, helps seniors get a little TLC during the holidays. The Minneapolis office of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, the world’s largest provider of non-medical in-home care and companionship services for older adults, has partnered with local non-profits groups like East Side Neighborhood Services in Minneapolis, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Meals on Wheels and several Lunds/Byerlys, several nursing homes and low income housing to provide gifts and companionship to seniors who otherwise might not receive either this holiday season. It began with just one nursing home, and has since grown into a movement.senior_gift_tag

Now you can help brighten a senior’s life too.

How to Participate in Be a Santa to a Senior

Here’s how it works:
1. Head to any of the following locations:

  • Byerly’s in Minnetonka and St. Louis Park
  • Starbucks 2661 Campus Drive, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 16725 C.R. 24, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 7802 Olson Memorial Highway, Golden Valley, MN
  • Home Instead Senior Care of MPLS, 9684 63rd Ave N., Maple Grove, MN 55369

Barista Susan standing next to their EMPTY tree! Thank you to all the Starbucks customers in Golden Valley who participated in our Be A Santa to a Senior program!!!
Barista Susan standing next to their EMPTY tree! Thank you to all the Starbucks customers in Golden Valley who participated in our Be A Santa to a Senior program!!!

2. Locate the Christmas trees, and choose any ornament with a senior’s name on it. You will find gift suggestions for the senior printed on the ornament.
3. Purchase the item(s) listed, put the item in a gift bag, return to the store with the ornament and deliver them to a store employee.

Hurry! The program ends soon, giving us time to gather and distribute the gifts to seniors. If we are going to meet and possibly exceed last year’s amazing accomplishment of delivering over 2,000 gifts, we need your help! Your participation can make a difference!

About the Be a Santa to a Senior Campaign

Here’s how the program works. The Home Instead Senior Care network partners with local non-profit and community organizations. Together they identify seniors who perhaps live alone, do not have family members nearby, or are experiencing financial difficulties. The program targets many seniors who otherwise might not receive gifts or visits from family during the holidays.

be_a_santa_to_a_senior_mplsHome Instead Minneapolis then works with local businesses and retail stores that are willing to help by placing trees and ornaments within their various locations. The involvement from busy stores gives the program visibility and provides a convenient way for shoppers to volunteer their assistance during the busy holiday season.

Since its inception, the Be a Santa to a Senior has attracted nearly 60,000 volunteers throughout North America, and has provided 1.2 million gifts to over 700,000 seniors who are in need of assistance or companionship. Now you can join the movement and help a senior in your Minnesota community.

Need Further Information?

The Be a Santa to a Senior website, provides a locator tool that enables you to find a store by zip code.

Tips for Initiating “The Talk”

Having trouble talking to your aging parents about issues that might arise from trying to maintain independence in their Minneapolis home? You’re not alone. Last month, we provided resources that will aid you in having “the talk” such as an interactive guide to find resources that can assist you with aging considerations. But for some, the barrier is just getting the conversation started.home care mn

Biggest obstacle to communicating difficult issues with parents:

31% Continuation of parent/children role
16% Parents refuses to talk
12% Physical issues
10% Child feels unprepared
8% Distance
5% Fear

Last month, we heard from a woman who’s parents had difficulty discussing aging issues with her. It can be just as difficult for the children of seniors to face their parents mortality as it is for the seniors themselves. Whether you’re a child of aging parents in Minneapolis or a senior  yourself and need help getting these important conversations off the ground, visit our Conversations Starters page for more information.HomeInstead_40-70Booklet_Web

Seven Tips to Help Boomer Children Communicate With Their Aging Parents:

Home Instead Senior Care has teamed up with communication expert Jake Harwood, Ph.D., from the University of Arizona, to offer tips to help family caregivers communicate with their aging parents on sensitive subjects.

Get Started.
If you’re 40 or your parents are 70, it’s time to start observing and gathering information carefully and thoughtfully. Don’t reach a conclusion from a single observation and decide on the best solution until you have gathered information with an open mind and talked with your parents. Even if you’re younger than 40, it still may be valuable to initiate a conversation on healthy aging. Watch this humorous video about two young children having “the talk” with their parents.

Talk it out.
Approach your parents with a conversation. Discuss what you’ve observed and ask your parents what they think is going on. If your parents acknowledge the situation, ask what they think would be good solutions. If your parents don’t recognize a problem, use concrete examples to support your case.

Sooner is best.
Talk sooner rather than later when a crisis has occurred. If you know your loved one has poor eyesight or has trouble driving at night, begin to address those issues before a problem arises.

Maximize the Independence.
Always try to move toward solutions that provide the maximum amount of independence for the older person. Look for answers that optimize strengths and compensate for problems. For instance, if your loved ones need help at home, look for tools that can help them maintain their strengths. Professional caregiving services, such as those offered by Home Instead Senior Care, provide assistance in a number of areas including meal preparation, light housekeeping or medication reminders. Or find friends who can help.

Be aware of the whole situation.
If your dad dies and soon afterward your mom’s house seems to be in disarray, it’s probably not because she suddenly became ill. It’s much more likely to stem from a lack of social support and the loss of a life-long relationship. Make sure that your mom has friends and a social life. The Minneapolis area is full of opportunities for senior activity!

Forget the Baby Talk
Remember how much you disliked being spoken to as a child when you were a teen? Patronizing speech or baby talk will put older adults on the defensive and convey a lack of respect for them. Put yourself in your parents’ shoes and think of how you would want to be addressed in the situation.

Ask for Help
Many of the issues of aging can be solved by providing parents with the support they need to continue to maintain their independence. Resources such as Home Instead Senior Care, Minneapolis Area Agencies on Aging and local senior centers can help provide those solutions.

home care mnIdentifying Mom’s Needs Key to Reaching Family Consensus

The signs all point to trouble for Mom. You and your siblings are concerned, but not sure how to proceed, especially because your mother is reluctant to leave her longtime Minnesota home. Leaving home, though, is only one option, and the least popular among older adults, many of whom just need a little help around the house. Read more about the 5 housing options for seniors.

Q. My 75-year-old mother’s house seems to be in a progressively worse state of disarray each time I make my monthly visit. My sister tries to help out a couple of times a week, and Mom has told her that she’s not ready for a care facility yet. Our brother, who lives 800 miles away and seldom visits, thinks we might be overreacting. Our minds are racing — is it time to persuade her to move out or does she just need more help?

There’s no need to panic since it appears that your mother is not in immediate danger. Take a slow and steady approach that involves observation to try to pinpoint the exact nature of your mom’s issues. Make it clear to Mom you want to work together on a solution so that she isn’t fearful that decisions about her fate are being made behind her back.

Then ask yourselves these questions: Is the problem simply that your mother is physically challenged by strenuous housework or is she deteriorating mentally? Does she just need help tidying up around the house or are other aspects of her personal care, such as bathing, going downhill?

Be on the lookout for warning signs that a senior could be in trouble including:

  1. Neglected personal hygiene resulting in wearing dirty clothes, body odor, bad breath, neglected nails and teeth, sores on the skin.
  2. Neglected home that is not as clean or sanitary as you remember growing up. Remember, senior safety starts at home.
  3. Changed relationship patterns such that friends and neighbors have expressed concerns.
  4. Physical problems such as burns or injury marks resulting from general weakness, forgetfulness, or possible misuse of alcohol or prescribed medications.
  5. Changed eating habits within the last year resulting in weight loss, having no appetite or missed meals. Learn the 10 warning signs a senior’s nutrition is in danger.
  6. Decreased or stopped participation in activities that were previously important to them such as bridge or a book club, dining with friends, or attending religious services.
  7. Forgetfulness resulting in unopened mail, piles of newspapers, unfilled prescriptions or missed appointments. This could be the start of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.
  8. Mishandled finances such as not paying bills, losing money, paying bills twice or more, or hiding money. Watch this video to learn more about the importance of having “the talk” about finances.
  9. Unusual purchases such as buying more than one magazine subscription of the same magazine, entering a number of contests or excessive purchases from television advertisements.
  10. Inappropriate behavior including being unusually loud or quiet, paranoid, agitated and making phone calls at all hours.

If the problem is physical, then begin the conversation with an offer to have someone come in more often to help with things such as light housekeeping chores and meal preparation.

Good luck with your conversations. Careful observation, communication and a plan of action all will help your family make the best decisions. What’s more, your Home Instead Senior care can serve as a resource by providing a free in-home evaluation.

Are you in Caregiver Distress? Take This Quiz and Learn the Risk Factors.

personal_careNearly one-third of adults living in Minneapolis, MN are family caregivers to seniors and could be at risk for diabetes, depression, heart disease and various other conditions. This is a result of caregiver distress which is a potentially dangerous condition brought on by the pressures of caring for a senior loved one in their home. Studies indicate that caregiving is a leading stressor for families. In fact, one U.S. study revealed that more than half (52.8%) of those caring for individuals with diseases including cancer or Alzheimer’s had signs of depression.

In response to this growing issue, Home Instead Senior Care® Minneapolis has launched a public awareness campaign – Family Caregiver Stress Relief. Over the coming months, we will offer tools to help you determine if you are in distress, resources to overcome the challenges associated with caregiver distress and advice on preventing and treating surrounding issues.

Are you a Caregiver?

More than 44 million individuals in the U.S. and Canada provide caregiver services to a senior in their home. Yet few people identify themselves as caregivers. Why? Because often the things that make you a caregiver just seem like natural things to do for a loved one such as light household cleaning and making meals. Failing to recognize yourself as a caregiver can cause you to fail to recognize the challenges and responsibilities placed on you, and to overlook the impact caregiving may be having on your health and welfare. Research conducted on behalf of the Home Instead Senior Care® network reveals that caregivers who hid their emotions are more likely to experience depression, difficulty sleeping, and fatigue. In addition, people who don’t self-identify as caregivers may not realize the magnitude of what they do. According to AARP, in 2009, family caregivers provided over $450 billion worth of caregiving services including home care.

Take this quiz to determine if you are actually a caregiver.

What is Caregiver Distress?

Caregiver distress goes beyond the typical stressors of providing home care services for a senior. It actually impacts your health and manifests itself by increasing your risks of health complications. According to a 2010 study by Met Life Mature Market Institute, employees who provide senior care are more likely to report suffering from depression, diabetes, hypertension, or pulmonary disease. Research conducted by Dr. Peter Vitaliano, a Professor at the University of Washington, reveals that caregiver distress can manifest itself by increasing the risks for:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Ulcers
  • Heart problems
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Weight gain/loss and obesity

Caregiver distress can spill over into other areas of life, potentially creating relationship problems, exacerbating addictions and causing job issues. If you or a loved one are a caregiver and experiencing any of the above health conditions, consult your Minnesota health care provider.

What are the Risk Factors?

Since the average demographic of a caregiver is a 45-54 woman caring for both an aging loved one as well as their own family, it’s easy for a caregiver to assume that the above symptoms are a typical sign of aging or that they’re just “stressed out and busy”.

“Stressors include too many caregiver demands, not enough help caring for a loved one, feeling alone, financial problems, and work loss. These all can lead to caregiver distress and burden,” says Dr. Vitaliano. Some risk factors for developing caregiver distress include:

However, even as you lovingly provide support to a senior, you may have problems managing and balancing that support with your own busy life. The responsibilities can impact you physically, mentally and emotionally. And that could lead to the kind of distress that could result in serious health problems.

Are You in Caregiver Distress?

home care mnTo identify the home care tasks that might make caregiving more challenging for you, and learn what you can do to address those challenges, take the Family Caregiver Distress Assessment, adapted for the Home Instead Senior Care network by Dr. Vitaliano. The assessment allows caregivers to determine their risk for distress and resulting emotional and physical issues, including depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Even if you learned from the quiz that you’re not providing care services to a senior, you probably know someone who is. Recommend this assessment or take it for them so that you can watch for warning signs.

Caring for an older adult can be a fulfilling experiences for any family caregiver. So many tasks bring pleasure as you give back to someone who may have given you so much. By identifying yourself as a caregiver and understanding the risk factors, you can decrease your changes of becoming distressed and, instead, enjoy the experience of caring for your Mom or Dad in their Minneapolis home.