Tag Archives: caregivers

Home Care for Seniors – A Caregiver’s To-Do List

When you’re a caregiver, you have to expect the unexpected, especially when you’re taking care of an elderly patient. There are more than 50 million caregivers providing home care for the weak and elderly during any given year. To make things more hectic, only 25% of all U.S households are involved in care giving, therefore, if you’re a caregiver taking care of an elderly patient at home, you should be proud of yourself. Because of the popularity of care giving, men have started filling in for a chance to be in the care-giving career. However, women dominate as of the moment, probably because of their nurturing nature.

If you think of home care giving as an easy job, then you may want to consider the following facts:

  • Home caregivers who are expected to provide 36 or more hours of weekly care for the ageing patients are more likely to experience anxiety or depression than caregivers who work inside a senior care facility or hospital. The rate becomes six times higher for caregivers who are actually taking care of their ageing parents.


  • Home caregivers constantly lack sleep. Since they’re always making sure that the elderly patient has everything he or she needs, there’s 51% chance of not getting a proper sleep and a 41% chance of getting back pains.


  • Caring for an elderly patient is stressful enough to cause a big impact on a person’s immune system for up to 3 years. It’s no wonder, since you have to make sure that everything is ready for your patient, from the adult diapers to making sure that the IV’s port protector has been changed to a new one.

Well, now that you know the happy facts of being a home caregiver, would you still care to try such a gargantuan task? If your answers is still a “YES”, then that’s great. We caregivers do have a to-do list in order to make things life a little less harsh when caring for an elderly patient at home.

1. Always remember to take care of yourself. This is the most basic to-do list that we caregivers usually adhere to. No, it’s not selfish and it’s an absolute must. I’ve been a caregiver for years and there’s really no sense of caring for an ageing patient if you can’t even take care of yourself. Care-giving is a stressful job, where the combination of loss and obligation demands can really take its toll on your physical and mental well-being, so taking care of yourself is also a high priority.

2. Remember to reward yourself. Despite the stressful environment, taking care of an elderly patient at home pays really well, so perhaps having a nice dinner with a friend or loved one can help ease the stress for a day.

3. Have some personal time. Do something you enjoy as a hobby or perhaps you might want to do your personal chores. Taking care of an elderly patient does not need to hinder your own personal time. Besides, it helps calm down your nerves, therefore fighting depression and anxiety.

4. When things don’t go the way you planned, get help. Even for an experienced caregiver, I still ask advice from some of my older caregiver friends. Help can also come from community resources, family friends and professionals too. The friends and family of the elderly patient can provide invaluable help, especially if the patient seems too grouchy towards a new home caregiver. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially when you need it.

5. Last but not the least, protect your health. How can you take care of your patient if you keep getting sick? Give yourself time to exercise, eat well and for your personal grooming too. Limit your coffee intake and get lots of rest. You owe your body that much, since you can’t do your job if you’re not healthy!

About the Author:

Jessica Greenberg is a caregiver and avid blogger from San Diego, California. When she’s taking her well-deserved rest, she usually hangs out with her friends and is constantly updating Wordbaristas.com, a blog that she keeps with her group.

Senior Diet Solutions: Addressing Multiple Health Conditions

Seniors often have multiple conditions resulting in a thorny diet problem. A good example is the combination of heart problems, diabetes, and renal failure. Heart problems and diabetes call for a for a heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat, loaded with vegetables, fruits and whole grains. But when diabetes leads to renal failure, the patient must keep phosphorous, sodium, and potassium to a minimum. Many meats that are high in protein, fruits, veggies and grains are loaded with potassium, a nutrient healthy for most people…but not those in renal failure. How can you make a healthy diet from what’s left?

 The Contradictions

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the diet goals of a patient with chronic kidney disease are to limit fluids, eat a low protein diet, and restrict salt, potassium, phosphorous and other electrolytes. Since it’s difficult to get enough calories on a low-protein diet, kidney patients are encouraged to eat lots of high-volume carbs, including breads, cake, honey, hard candy, and pie…foods diabetics should avoid like the plague.

Diabetics are encouraged to drink plenty of water, eat a lot of vegetables, and eat a diet higher in protein and low in processed carbs, basically the same diet recommended for heart patients.

The irony is that diabetes often leads to heart disease and kidney disease, and the only area where the conditions agree is in restricting sodium. The convergence of all these diverse issues is most common in the elderly, because it takes years for diabetes and other conditions to wreak this level of havoc on the body.

Part of the Problem: Confusing Information from So-Called Experts

While researching, I found a page that seemed authoritative called Nephrology Physicians, LLC, and I’d like to use it as an example of how information gathered on the web can be dangerous. The page contains food lists for Kidney and Renal failure. Sounds good, right? But it’s misleading. It’s broken down by nutrient. Consider this sentence from the low phosphorous section, All Vegetables are Low in Phosphorus. Wow, so kidney patients can eat all the vegetables they want, right? I was suspicious. I chose a few random vegetables and checked them in the nutrition data tracker at self.com. Sweet potatoes, for example, had a whopping 950 mg of potassium. That would be disastrous addition to his diet. To add to the confusion, the carbohydrate count might make a diabetic nervous as well, unless he knew that sweet potatoes are high in fiber and low on the glycemic index.

The lesson here is this: Before following any advice found on the web, make sure it comes from an authoritative source. The American Association of Kidney Patients is a great resource, loaded with information.

 Finding a Solution

To solve this problem, I researched low phosphorous foods and then eliminated foods high in saturated fats, sodium, refined carbs, and sugar. Here’s the result:

Veggies: cabbage, cauliflower, beets, carrots, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, bell peppers, onions, garlic, cucumber, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, turnips, radishes, and watercress.

Fruits: blueberries, raspberries, apples, cranberries, strawberries, cherries, peaches, pears, plums, watermelon, and red grapes.

Proteins: Turkey breast (not processed cooked at home to control sodium and preservatives), egg whites, and fatty, fish like salmon, albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, and rainbow trout. Limit protein intake to 1 or 2 ounces per serving.

Fats: Omega-3 and omega-6 oils, like olive, canola, sunflower, and flaxseed oil.

Grains: White bread products are on the kidney patient diet, including crackers, white bread, pasta, cake, and cookies. Unfortunately, these things are contraindicated for diabetes patients. Address this problem by incorporating small amounts (for example, one slice of bread per meal or a slice of angel cake with berries for dessert). Whole grain products should be avoided.

Dairy: Dairy products should be limited, especially for pre-dialysis kidney patients. Choose low-fat options, like skim milk, no-sugar-added ice cream, plain, low-fat yogurt, and sugar-free pudding. Limit dairy to two 1/2 cup servings per day.

Sample Meal: While researching this topic, I came across a post on a food site that addressed the potential lack of flavor in such a limited diet. Here’s a tasty recipe for Caribbean chicken and veggie kabobs that meets the restrictions for both diabetics and kidney patients.

Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite, and resulting weight loss, are common in kidney patients. Here are a few tips to help keep your patient or loved one’s weight up:

  • Small meals, eaten frequently all day. Big meals can be too much for a sick senior, but tiny plates with just a few appetizing bites are less intimidating and easier to swallow.
  • Cold finger foods. Cooking smells often make sick patients feel sicker. Try cold dishes, like a scoop of egg or tuna salad with brightly colored veggies to use as scoops.
  • Add egg white powder or protein powder to cooked foods or drinks to add nutrition.


Anemia is common to kidney patients, and an iron supplement may be in order. If the patient cannot get enough protein through food sources, a protein supplement will help, but check the label very carefully and bear in mind that supplements made for the seniors, like Glucerna and Boost, or protein powders designed for weight gain, are not necessarily formulated for kidney patients and may contain high levels of potassium, sugar, or some other harmful component.

Since grain products are limited, another concern may be getting enough fiber to keep digestion regular. A limited food list is notorious for gumming up the works. Only after consulting a doctor, choose a natural fiber product that has been thoroughly researched and has no known side effects or drug interactions, like brown seaweed extract.

Before taking any supplement, diabetics, heart patients, kidney patients, or anyone with an illness that requires medications should check with a doctor or nutritionist.


Once kidney disease progresses to the stage where dialysis is necessary, diet restrictions ease up a bit and patients usually find their appetites returning, but a healthy diet should still be the top priority for caregivers and patients.

Finding a Maid Service For Seniors

House cleaning can be back-breaking work for anyone. For a senior or an overwhelmed caregiver, it can be even more physically straining. When you need more than light housework done to maintain the cleanliness of your home and ensure a healthy environment, hiring a maid service can spare you the body aches and free up time to do more enjoyable activities.

Elderly loved ones are often resistant to getting help for reasons such as losing the feeling of independence and the fear of someone taking advantage of them. So when it comes to finding the right maid service, nothing is more important than finding one you can trust. Whether you’ll be home or not, it’s important to know not only that the person who’ll be cleaning your house won’t steal anything, but also that she won’t break a family heirloom or accidentally turn on the gas oven while cleaning it and not realize the gas is on.

Follow these tips to make sure you can trust the maid service you choose:

  • Ask your friends and family what maid service they use. There’s nothing like a personal reference from someone you know and trust. If a friend has been using a maid service for several years and he or she is happy with their performance, chances are you will be too. Whether you get a personal referral or not, be sure to check out at least three different maid services before you make your decision.
  • Always interview the prospective maid services face-to-face. Schedule an appointment at your home. This will be important not only for you, but for the maid service as well since they can see your home and understand exactly what services they should provide in their estimate. Pay special attention to the appearance of the company vehicle and the workers. The vehicle they show up in should clearly be intended for the business, and the workers should be wearing uniforms with name tags unless they introduce themselves as the owners of the company.
  • Ask the maid service if their employees are bonded and insured. Liability insurance will protect you from being sued or from having to cover the cost of medical expenses if a maid is injured on your property. An employee bond will protect you from theft. Never sign a contract with any maid service whose employees are not insured and bonded. If the answer to this question is no, there’s no need to go any further with that service.
  • Find out as much as you can about how they select their employees. Ask someone in charge at the maid service if they perform a criminal background check. If they do, ask if they run a fingerprint check on employees, which is usually the most reliable form of background check available. Ask the service how much experience their maids need before they’re hired. Ask them if they require their employees to be tested for drugs. This may not be a deal breaker to you if you know the service runs a thorough criminal background check, but it might provide added peace of mind if you find out the service tests for drug use as well as a background check. And ask them if they request professional references from their employees. If you were hiring an individual, you would most certainly ask for all these things of your own employee, so the maid service should be doing the same for their workers.
  • Ask how long the service has been in business and if they can provide referrals from happy customers. Most reputable maid services will be happy to provide this type of information, assuming they’ve been in business long enough to earn the kudos.
  • Ask for an estimate in writing, and make sure it includes all of the tasks you want performed in your home and how often you want to service to visit. Ask how much extra they charge for occasional services, such as carpet shampooing and window washing.
  • Review each estimate carefully before making your decision, and compare one estimate against the others to be sure they all include the tasks you want done in your home and the frequency of visits.

Once you’ve selected a maid service, be sure to follow a few tips on a regular basis before each visit:

  • Make sure all valuables are removed from the home or locked away in a safe place. Even if you’re comfortable with your chosen maid service, there’s no reason to tempt fate by leaving valuables out in plain sight.
  • Tidy up as much as possible. Remember that the maid service will clean, but they won’t know where you keep things. If you expect them to put things away, expect that it will be a challenge to locate those items later on.
  • If you have a pet, make sure the pet is secured in a safe place before the maid service arrives. Even if your pet is friendly, it’s important to keep him or her out of the way while the maids do their work.

If your elderly loved one is hesitant and nervous about having strangers in their home, you may want to be there during the first few cleanings. Being a mediator between your loved one and the maids can help ease any uncomfortable feelings. You can express preferences for how tasks are handled during the process and encourage friendly engagement between the two for the times you will not be around. It may be more time-consuming than picking a name out of a hat to find a maid service you trust, but the peace of mind you’ll gain from it will make it worth every minute!

Misty Matthews writes for Austin’s Maid Service, a house cleaning and business cleaning service in Austin TX, which provides a 100% Clean Guarantee by screened and trained maids. For more information, contact Austin’s Maid Service, 700 Lavaca #1400-2292, Austin, TX 78701, (512) 582-2340.

Wheelchair Safety and Your Sanity: Adjusting You and Your Small Children to a Live-In Grandparent

Ken Stanfield is a passionate blogger who spends his time researching and writing about health care, geriatric healthcare needs, and humanitarianism. He writes for the medical walkers supplier justwalkers.com

The day has come for you to tell the kids that Grandma or Grandpa is coming for an extended visitin fact, they’re staying indefinitely. Having an aging parent move in with you and your family, especially amidst the chaos of small children, can be a major adjustment for everyone as the household dynamics shift to accommodate another person in your home. Facing such a change and all the stresses it brings can seem like an overwhelming challenge, but there are things you can do to help make the adjustment smoother and less stressful for everyone involved.

Before They Come
Clear the air of all unresolved problems and resentment between you and your aging parent. Allowing such tension to remain will create a negative environment, and close proximity will hurt rather than help your family relationships. Children often pick up on their parents’ stress, and if you are stressed, chances are that your children will be more anxious and fretful as well.

Prepare your child beforehand for the changes that will be made. Explain to them that some things in their lives will be very different now; for example, the children may have new responsibilities to help around the house because of the extra tasks you will be attending to. Be sure to emphasize the positive aspect of this change in their livesthe opportunity to come together as a family and spend more time with Grandma or Grandpaand reassure them that you will still have time for them and that everything will be okay.

After Arrival
Establish a routine. Having a schedule can help everyone feel a little more secure and less stressed; routine is important for young and old alike. Allow yourself a little bit of time to figure out what works best for you and your family.

Explain the what and why of medical equipment. The presence of strange metal and plastic devices (walkers, nebulizers, oxygen tanks, etc.) can intimidate children or make them curious, resulting in them touching things they shouldn’t. Explain gently what each thing is and what it is for, and tell the child what boundaries there are concerning it. For example: This little plastic box is Grandpa’s nebulizer. He uses it to help him breathe better. Don’t touch it, please, or it might not work when Grandpa needs it to. In addition, be sure to address safety concerns with such equipment as they come up for both kids and grandparents. For instance, don’t let children play on electric wheelchairs or stand on the battery box, and avoid taking electric wheelchairs out in the rain. Keep very small children or babies away from medical equipment and gate doorways and take other precautions as necessary.

Give your parent a private space where they can have jurisdiction. Your aging parent most likely feels an increasing loss of control over his or her life, and thus it is important to help maintain independence as much as possible and allow them some space of their own, free from the disorder that young children often leave in their wake. Make sure your children know that this room is their grandparent’s room, and they must ask permission before entering it.

Encourage one-on-one time between your child and your parent. Give them simple activities to do together, and ask your parent to tell your child stories about when he or she was young. This is a great way to encourage bonding and keep some of your family stories alive. Who knowsyou may learn something you hadn’t known about your parent before. Also, giving your child opportunities to help your loved one can help them bond with their grandparent and make them feel important and useful.
Look for things to be grateful for, and find simple ways to create memories.

Create an environment of open communication and respect. Communication is key in this situation, as it is with all relationships. Make it safe for both your children and your aging parent to approach you about concerns. Model respectful behavior toward your parent for your child. An open communication platform in a loving environment will make the whole atmosphere of the home better for everyone.

Be sure to take some time for yourself. It sounds cliché, but that’s because it’s true: the importance of adequate sleep and regular exercise cannot be overstated. Consider them an investment rather than a wastetaking that time for yourself will make you better able to fulfill your responsibilities and will make you much more pleasant to be around.