Family Caregiver Food Safety Tips from Detective Foodsafe™

September is National Food Safety Education Month. We have an expert who will share how to keep family caregivers and your loved ones safe from food poisoning (and everyone who wants to avoid becoming the victim of food borne illness).

Detective Foodsafe™ explores the mysteries of food contamination and food handling mishaps that can happen when you least expect it. Her mission is to keep everyone safe from the dangers of foodborne illness.

Detective Foodsafe will help family caregivers not only ensure that seniors are eating right, but also avoid becoming victims of food poisoning (foodborne illness).

We are all concerned about eating foods that are healthy and provide nourishment for our bodies. As we age, we definitely want to eat foods that will keep us well and manage our chronic medical conditions.

Seniors are already at increased risk from contracting foodborne illness due to suppressed immune systems, medications and chronic diseases. How their food is handled can add to the danger.

Why Are Seniors at Risk?

It is important to understand the full effect of foodborne illness on our senior population so family caregivers know how vital it is to prevent it.

For younger adults, they may suffer a gastrointestinal illness (albeit a terrible experience), but for older adults, hospitalization and even death could be the outcome when they contract food poisoning. Seniors are more susceptible to complications resulting from foodborne illness.

When seniors eat foods that may contain harmful bacteria, it takes their gastrointestinal system longer to expel it. Excretion of food through the stomach and intestines takes longer as we age. This allows more time for harmful pathogens to infect seniors.

In addition to the timing of the GI tract, a seniors’ liver and kidneys may not be functioning as efficiently as in the past resulting in a reduced ability to clear the body of toxins which cause food poisoning.

Older adults’ bodies are more susceptible to the effects of microorganisms and have a more difficult time fighting illness. Because immune systems are also aging, they may be weakened therefore less able to mount a strong defense.

Seniors with multiple chronic diseases including diabetes, kidney and heart disease have more trouble responding to food pathogens.

Multiple medications, especially those designed to reduce stomach acid (which can reduce the amount of harmful bacteria in the GI tract), can make matters worse for seniors.

When seniors do contract foodborne illness, not only do they get sicker, they also take longer to recover than a younger person.

Even though food that is contaminated with harmful bacteria does not taste, smell or look different, seniors often have a decreased sense of taste and smell which can impact their ability to distinguish when a food may be spoiled and potentially unfit to eat.

Foods Seniors Should Avoid

“There are several foods that can make seniors ill and it is best to avoid them” says Detective Foodsafe.

Foods that are more prone to microorganism contamination are:

  • Sprouts
  • Unwashed raw fruits and vegetables
  • Soft cheese, made from unpasteurized milk like brie, Camembert, feta, queso fresco
  • Raw or unpasteurized milk and juice
  • Raw or under cooked meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs
  • Luncheon meat and deli salads
  • Unpasteurized pates and meat spreads

What Caregivers Can Do

Family caregivers can take action to prevent food poisoning occurring in their senior loved ones.

Detective Foodsafe recommends you do these things:

  1. Look in the kitchen pantry and refrigerator to see if there is any spoiled or expired food that needs to be tossed out every time you visit. Sometimes the print is too small for seniors to read and they don’t realize it is expired or that it is important to throw out foods that have passed the Use By date.
  2. Encourage frequent handwashing; launder kitchen cloths and towels in hot water regularly
  3. Monitor their ability to prepare foods safely. Can they wash all fruits and vegetables before eating or keep the equipment/surfaces disinfected? A functional decline in some seniors may mean that they aren’t physically able to handle food and meal preparation safely anymore.
  4. Purchase ergonomic kitchen gadgets that can make it easier to work in the kitchen to handle food safely. Vegetable brushes or knives that can be held onto with stiff fingers, foods within reach so that they aren’t left to spoil, magnifying glass to read labels for expiration dates and other products that might make working in the kitchen easier and safer.
  5. Encourage them to abandon lifelong habits of keeping butter and cheese (and other perishable foods) out on the counter.
  6. Be sure the microwave is working correctly heating thoroughly so that they can reheat leftovers and fully cook food to a safe internal temperature to kill bacteria. Do they have a food thermometer they can read easily to check for doneness? A digital thermometer may be easier to read than a dial version.
  7. Foods they bring home from restaurants in a doggy bag should be refrigerated promptly (within 2 hours) and heated thoroughly before eating.
  8. When using home delivered meals, be sure all food is stored promptly at the proper temperature so that it won’t reach the temperature danger zone where bacteria grows rapidly. Always reheat any delivered meals to 165 degrees F to be sure bacteria is destroyed.
  9. Check the functioning of the refrigerator and freezer to be sure they are chilling food to the proper temperature. Repair or replace any units that are not keeping food safe. Keep a thermometer inside both the refrigerator and freezer to be sure it is working properly.

Family caregivers can be Detective Foodsafe germ fighters helping reduce the likelihood that their seniors will become victims of foodborne illness.

You can check out more Detective Foodsafe tips and resources here.

Trying to Reach Family Caregivers? Senior Care Corner® is For Sale!

Yes, that’s right, Senior Care Corner® is for sale.

And, yes, this is a very difficult article to write.

We’ve spent ten years raising this child (it feels like part of our family), which makes Senior Care Corner a senior itself in Internet years.

We’ve realized it’s time to move on – – and for Senior Care Corner to do so as well.

It has been a very demanding labor of love, much like serving as a family caregiver to a loved one.

We want to see it grow beyond where we can take it.

The time has come to find out if someone else can take it to the next level, either because it compliments other business activities or as an independent revenue generator.

Senior Care Corner Background

Along our journey we’ve had conversations with many entrepreneurs who’ve developed products and services for seniors and family caregivers and learned most had a personal story motivating their efforts, typically a loved one with a need that was unmet or which could be better met.

The same is true with the founding of Senior Care Corner.

Information and resources for family caregivers were sparse when Kathy and I suddenly found ourselves providing care to senior loved ones a number of years ago.

We wanted so much to provide what our senior loved ones needed but found little to help us understand their needs, let alone how to meet them.

Our best is what we gave them, in hopes it was what they needed.

Our loved ones let us know our efforts and caring were appreciated, but still we wished there was somewhere to turn online for practical pointers. With an active family of our own and full time jobs, we needed a convenient and trustworthy information source but just couldn’t find one.

Once the need for our care passed (unfortunately so, as it was with the passing of our senior loved ones) we decided to provide an information source to which other family caregivers of older adults could turn, an effort we realized would also prepare us when other loved ones of our own would need care.

Thus our ten year journey that has been Senior Care Corner.

What Senior Care Corner Provides

Visitors to Senior Care Corner, of whom there have been hundreds of thousands over the years, find articles, podcasts (internet radio shows), and videos covering a broad range of topics and practical insights. These are some of popular topics.

  • Understanding what seniors are experiencing as they age, to help caregivers relate to and comprehend their needs (walk a mile in their shoes, at least through the written word)
  • Health issues of seniors, especially Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias as well as other diagnoses that primarily affect older adults
  • Technology, both that available today and expected in the future, that can improve the quality of seniors’ lives and make the work of family caregivers more effective (maybe a bit less difficult and time-consuming, too); part of this focus has been our annual visit to CES and discussions with tech innovators
  • Caring for the family caregiver, an area we found was almost totally overlooked until recently but essential to giving older loved ones the best care we can
  • Interviews with a number of topic experts and solution developers who helped us pass along firsthand knowledge to our audience

Check us out to learn more. Many have told us they found the site search to be a valuable tool.

What ‘For Sale’ Means

Putting Senior Care Corner up for sale means just that.

Yes, we will entertain offers from parties who wish to purchase the name (Senior Care Corner and our logo are both trademarked in the US), and our website, including all content. Many have told us they found our articles, audio recordings, and video valuable to them in their roles as family caregivers.

For more information or if you are considering a proposal, please email us at Info(at)SeniorCareCorner.com.

Inquiries from principals only, please.

Caregiving is the Greatest Teacher for Future Planning

Our Guest Author this month will help many who are facing aging alone once their family caregiving role comes to an end. Carol Marak is the founder of CarolMarak.com, the Elder Orphan Facebook group, and @Carebuzz Facebook Live events. She is an expert about everything aging. Herself a former family caregiver, Carol is personally equipped with aging alone expertise.

 

No matter what stage of caregiving you’re in, if you’re past it, in the middle of it, or it’s a paying job, the lessons learned will equip you for your own older life.

That’s what happened to me.  After caring for both parents, I realized, “There’s no one here for me to do all that I’ve done for them.”  A thought like this will quickly jolt anyone into scrambling for a plan. I’ve always been the independent sort, and now I face growing older without a spouse, partner, or adult children.

Like me, there are many women, and men, who find themselves in the similar circumstances. Growing older alone. And most of you, I bet, are caring or have cared for a relative as well.

Carol Marak, Aging Alone Expert

The lessons learned give insights into what’s ahead.  At first it’s scary, but soon you’re grateful because you know so much and feel prepared, sort of. You know how to respond in an emergency, what’s needed when making serious medical decisions and legal matters, how to prepare for a medical treatment, the out-of-pocket costs of medical and other necessities, what to expect when you ring a doctor at 2:00 AM, and how to arrange for extra help.

Above all, you know that one day you will need help!  That’s wisdom you cannot buy.

But what people like me, aging alone, don’t learn from helping parents is, who do we count on for assistance, to help us respond to an emergency, make medical decisions, bring us a cup of soup, take us to the doctor, run errands, and more.

We learn what’s to come. But we don’t know where to start when planning for it or even thinking about it.

Growing older for my parents was totally different than what it is for me. They didn’t feel the need or urgency to prepare.  Growing older was part of life and they had no doubts about knowing who would step up for them.

Caring for an older person is hard. Period. No ifs buts or maybes. And making a plan for that is even more difficult. Period.  It’s takes time, effort, and patience. But making a plan when aging alone, well, that’s titanic. We question:

  • Will my money outlast me?
  • Who do I call in case of an emergency?
  • Who will be my health care proxy?
  • What if I’m all alone and lonely, who will come over?
  • What if I’m sick, who will look in on me?

That’s the short list.

Future Planning

These are the tough questions and they’re the reason I started working on my future plan soon after my dad passed away.  I’ve created a FREE starter kit for people who have the urgency to prepare. It’s yours for free to download here.

The thing about planning, it’s not meant to be a once and done deal. Instead, it expands our understanding of the kind of world we want and shows us a path we’d need to take to get to a better place–or, at minimum, the paths we need to avoid.

I believe we all need to have a sense of what’s next, and a vision of the kind of world we want. Planning for the future should deal with tomorrow’s problems–which if not addressed will inevitably leave us weakened, vulnerable, and blind to challenges to come.

Celebrating Older Americans Month 2019: Connect, Create, Contribute

Each year, more and more older adults are making a positive impact in and around their community. Usually this contribution involves the encouragement and even logistics of a family caregiver.

Many older Americans who are family caregivers are themselves contributing to their community simply by caring for their own senior loved ones.

In addition, they act as volunteers, employees, employers, educators, mentors, advocates, and more which offers insight and experience that benefit the entire community.

That’s why Older Americans Month (OAM) has been recognizing the contributions of this growing population for 56 years when President John F. Kennedy designated May Older Americans Month.

At that time, the President felt it was time to begin to take the needs of the growing older American population. The goal was to recognize their many contributions to our country especially in defending it.

From then until now, led by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) each May, OAM provides resources to help older Americans stay healthy and independent as a way to thank them for their gifts to society. They help communities support and celebrate their diversity.

Theme for OAM 2019

This year’s OAM theme, Connect, Create, Contribute, encourages older adults and their communities to:

  • Connect with friends, family, and local services and resources.
  • Create through activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment.
  • Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others.

Family caregivers can celebrate OAM by promoting ways that community members of all ages can take part in helping older adults in their community as well as their own senior loved one thrive.

Things to Do In Your Community

There will be many events going on in your senior’s community that will help family caregivers connect, create and contribute.

Here are a few you may want to join:

  1. Participate in your local senior center activities by attending classes on crafts, cooking, lines dancing, yoga, or educational topic.
  2. Volunteer for an organization you support such as the library, animal shelter, school mentorship, litter cleanup or church group.
  3. Attend a health fair and take charge of your health.
  4. Share your skills with others in your community who may need help.
  5. Help a meal delivery program deliver meals to people in your local area.
  6. Join a fall prevention program to build your own strength and balance while meeting new people.
  7. Attend a Senior Day event in your city.
  8. Find a class on technology to help your senior learn about ways to use technology to benefit them as they age in place. Attend the class together.

We encourage you to:

Connect: Encourage older adults and other storytellers to share their experiences

Create: Inspire older adults to express themselves through art, dance, exercise, gardening or other personal enrichment activities.

Contribute: Connect older adults with resources and each other

Things to Do At Home

Family caregivers can take action with their senior loved ones to celebrate OAM with them and other family and friends.

Here are some fun things you can do together:

  • Have a family game night and play their favorites. Have lots of healthy snacks to keep the fun rolling!
  • Take a nature walk with the grandkids. Explore plants and animals in nature, go on a scavenger hunt, share a picnic and watch the birds fly together. Sharing this with kids will benefit all generations.
  • Look through family photo albums together and reminisce about family members who came before you. Discuss their jobs, their military service, where they lived and funny stories of shared hijinks! Maybe this could lead to a family reunion to meet new members and enjoy old members of the family.
  • Store the photos and memories for the future, journal the family stories and create a family tree.
  • Attend an event together. It could simply be the local Farmer’s Market or a fundraising event like a Fashion Show.

This is just a small start to all the places you could go and fun you can share with your senior loved one.

Time spent together is not only enriching for your relationship but also good for your senior’s health.

Physical activity and social engagement can make a positive impact on their quality of life.

These are all great reasons to find ways to celebrate OAM and your senior loved one today!

Additional Resources

Here are some additional articles that you might find helpful when deciding how to share time with our senior loved during OAM and every day.

Share, Learn, and Connect at National Caregiving Conference

We invited Denise M. Brown to author an article for Senior Care Corner® because we believe her conference is a valuable opportunity and resource for family caregivers. In addition, in the article she offers a number of resources family caregivers will find valuable sources of support now and in the future.

Denise began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. She’s the author of several books including The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey.

 

We often hear that we need to take regular breaks from our caregiving responsibilities. Often those suggested breaks include ideas for self-care which mostly focus on pampering.

Pampering is more than manicures and pedicures.

Our National Caregiving Conference feels like pampering for your heart and soul. When you join us at our conference, you join a community that understands you and that welcomes you.

Often during our caregiving experience we can feel disconnected, wondering where we belong because our lives feel so much different that our friends, co-workers and neighbors.

At our conference, you connect with others in a similar situation and with those who totally get it.

Connecting and Learning

Because you connect with those who understand, you can develop deep and meaningful relationships with other attendees.

Elizabeth Miller, who helps care for her mom and operates her own business, HappyHealthyCaregiver.com, returns to our conference every year to re-connect with friends she met at our first year conference. She also will present for the third straight year because she wants to share what she learned the hard way about self-care.

Sharon Hall, who cares for her husband and cared for her mom until her mom’s death in March, presents at our conference to share what she’s learned about her husband’s disease, frontotemporal degeneration. She knows how confusing the FTD behavior can be and wants others to know that they can manage the difficulties. If you care for a family member with FTD, networking with Sharon will provide a sense of relief that only someone who truly understands can give.

At our conference, we’re not just educating each other. Professionals and researchers attend to learn from us what caregiving is like. Last year, researchers from Purdue University and Johns Hopkins University attended our sessions to hear directly from family caregivers about their experiences.

We’re the experts in caregiving which is why health care professionals and researchers attend our National Caregiving Conference – to improve their work by receiving our expertise.

This Year’s Conference

This year’s conference, which will take place November 7-10 at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare, will honor our amazing difference to our family, our carees, our community and ourselves.

This year, we want to create an experience that leaves you feeling different, either about yourself, your caregiving experience or your future.

We also want you to return home with new relationships which continue to pamper your heart and soul until our next conference in 2020.

Caregiver Resources

We understand that attending our conference can present a financial hardship. Visit CareGiving.com regularly to learn about contests you can enter for a chance to win cash and free nights at our conference hotel. Each year, we’ve given away at least $4,000 to help family caregivers and former family caregivers attend our conference.

In addition, you can check out these organizations if you need to hire or have help for your caree so you can attend:

  • Check with your local Area Agency on Aging to find out about programs which help you get a break.
  • Call the Department of Veterans Affairs National Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274.
  • Hospice offers a five-day respite benefit so the primary family caregiver can take a break.
  • Contact your local assisted living facilities and nursing homes to learn about short-term placement for your caree while you attend the conference.
  • Disease-specific organizations, like the Alzheimer’s Association and ALS Association, may offer respite programs.
  • Easter Seals offers programs for adults and children with disabilities.

If you cannot join us in Chicago, we hope you’ll watch our live, free broadcast of select conference sessions on November 8 and 9. As you watch our live broadcast, you’ll feel connected to a community that understands.

To learn more about our conference, please visit our conference webpage.

 

Giving Thanks to Family Caregivers and Those Who Support Their Efforts

Successful family caregivers provide for the needs of their loved ones while finding a way to navigate their own busy day and complete it with a sense of fulfillment.

They don’t do it alone, but lean on the support of a broad network to make their successful day happen smoothly.

But just what does that mean and how can you do it too?

Family caregivers who can end their day saying it was a job well done, no major chaos happened, and who feel as though they accomplished a good part of their to-do list may well have gotten some assistance from someone in their network.

Caregivers Need the Help of Others

Having a broad network is a key component to being a successful family caregiver, avoiding feeling constant stress or being at risk for burnout.

To keep your network happy and supportive, it is important to show them your appreciation regularly.

When those who assist you feel their efforts were noticed and appreciated, they will want to stay involved.

Showing gratitude does not only improve the well-being of the person who receives the thanks but also the person who is giving thanks.

Caregivers will find that when they give praise to people in their caregiving network, they will feel happier too.

Who In Your Network Will You Thank?

Our caregiving networks can be rich with a wide assortment of helpers and supporters or maybe just a small number of caring people.

The depth of your network will depend on your situation and the scope of needs that have to be met.

The longer we are family caregivers the more likely we are providing around-the-clock care, meeting many needs for our senior loved ones.

It is especially important to have a large network when care needs are that significant.

Who might you have in your network, supporting you as a family caregiver?

  • Hopefully your network will include family members, such as children or siblings, of you and your senior loved one.
  • You should have someone from your senior’s healthcare team that you can call upon anytime it is needed.
  • Home helpers, paid caregivers, community agencies that can support your needs, transportation assistance, and even local delivery people to bring you what you need.
  • Emotional supporters should be at the ready for you, to lend an ear or a shoulder on which to cry. That might be a family member, close friend, or a faith provider.
  • You should have someone who can sit with your senior loved one, such as a companion (paid or volunteer), so that you can go to the doctor yourself, get your hair done, or just have lunch with a friend.
  • Your network should include people who can provide socialization to your senior loved one, such as longtime friends, clubs, respite programs, or children.
  • You should have a responsible party or parties available to you, either from an organization or a paid group, who can give you respite for a weekend or longer so you can take a much needed break.
  • You should also seek out support groups that can give you not only emotional support and friendship but knowledge about what you face as a caregiver.

It takes time to build a network so it doesn’t appear overnight. You might like to read our article 10 Steps for Caregivers to Build a Strong and Effective Network if you’re not sure how to do it.

Time of Giving Thanks

Once you have your network functioning, you will realize just how important these people are in your life — and what they mean to the care you provide your senior loved one. How many times you will call upon them even if only just to have a ‘real conversation’ some days.

They will be invaluable to you in one way or another throughout the year.

This time of the year is a great time to tell them exactly how important they are to you.

A thank you will cement your relationship and may make the difference in how appreciated they feel so that they will continue to support you whenever needed in the future.

We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day that, though we think about how special the people in your network are to your caregiving life, we don’t always say it out loud.

During this season of Thanksgiving, you might want to take the opportunity to express your thanks to these special people.

Showing Appreciation

You probably already have thoughts about how you would like to say thanks to your loved ones, but just in case you need some inspiration, here are some tips about new ways to give your gratitude!

  1. Write a note. You can always get a special occasion card that will say thanks for you but add a personal note telling them about special things that they do for you that touches your heart or just gets you through some days. Everyone would love to receive a personal, handwritten message that shows how much you care.
  2. Purchase a gift certificate to include in your card. A movie or dinner gift card or a gift certificate to their favorite place such as a coffee shop. You can usually pick this up at the grocery or drug store which you visit every week so doesn’t require a special trip. You can get a gift card when you go to the pharmacy to fill prescriptions.
  3. Make a gift basket. It need not be big, but include a few small items including bath salts, hand sanitizer, calming tea, hot cocoa, sachets, candy, or any items that are there favorites that will combine to give them a pick me up or a quick rest!
  4. Give them their favorite book and add a short note in the book jacket to express your appreciation.
  5. Give them a massage coupon to a local masseuse.
  6. Make them a movie gift basket including a a special DVD, popcorn (maybe a fun flavored variety), box of candy and other treats for a fun night in!
  7. Homemade cookies, dessert, soup, casserole or something special made with love!
  8. If you are crafty, make something that evokes a memory, such as a picture frame with favorite photo, a knit scarf, a bookmark, or some other item from your home to theirs. Perhaps you could even make a holiday ornament for the tree! If you like to do something fun, you could make some hand scrolled mugs filled with calming tea like I have done in the photo at the top of the post.
  9. Give them a CD of their favorite music. Perhaps a holiday collection, a comedy tape or church hymns.  Whatever will inspire them through song.
  10. Find an appropriate piece of jewelry that has meaning such as guardian angel pin, a car angel ornament, or a bracelet. It doesn’t have to be expensive just picked with love.

You might be thinking, “those are all things I wish someone would give to me”! That is exactly the point.

If you would like receiving it, and would feel appreciated if it were given to you, then you are on the right track!

You shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time or money finding these items either. You can get most of these things easily either at the grocery, pharmacy, or our own store, The Shop at Senior Care Corner®, where we have a selection of items for caregivers. You might even find something to give yourself!

Your love will show through in any gift your choose!

Feeling gratitude & not expressing it is like wrapping a present & not giving it.

~~William Arthur Ward

 

 

 

Amazon Best Sellers in Caregiver Gifts

[amazon bestseller=”thank yous for caregivers” items=”8″ grid=”4″]

Alzheimer’s Disease Update for Family Caregivers on World Alzheimer’s Day

Every September 21 for the past 7 years we have marked World Alzheimer’s Day.

The campaign hopes to further raise awareness of a disease that has affected millions worldwide and impacted families who face the daily challenges it causes.

Alzheimer’s is one type of dementia, but the most common. Dementia, a neurodegenerative disease, impairs cognitive function, ultimately impacting functional abilities.

It is irreversible, incurable, and has no effective treatment. Researchers believe the root of the disease is a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors.

Hallmarks of the disease include:

  • Memory loss
  • Language difficulty
  • Poor executive (brain) function
  • Behavioral symptoms including delusions, agitation and depression
  • Decline in functional status – inability to complete self-care and activities of daily living such as eating, toileting and grooming

Eventually the person afflicted with dementia will lose the ability to remain independent and care for themselves. Therefore, caregivers will be a necessity.

Partners in Alzheimer’s Care

While it is vitally important that family caregivers provide much needed care to persons with dementia, the research and health communities must also partner together to ensure that people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers are supported.

Here are a few ways that partners are joining the fight:

  1. Healthy Brain Initiative — a multifaceted approach to cognitive health. Their Road Map prepares all communities to act quickly and strategically by stimulating changes in policies, systems, and environment. They have a Complete Care Plan that can be used to help caregivers.
  2. National Institute on Aging Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Education and Referral Center (ADEAR) — Created by Congress in 1990 to “compile, archive, and disseminate information concerning Alzheimer’s disease” for health professionals, people with AD and their families, and the public.
  3. Alzheimer’s Association — their stated mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and, to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.
  4. Alzheimer’s Foundation of America — provides education and support to individuals and family caregivers living with Alzheimer’s disease; funds research
  5. Research — around the globe researchers are studying the cause, potential treatments, and prevention strategies for dementia. It is largely funded via public sources, but many private foundations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and individual donors are adding to the funds being used to learn more. Sharing data will help advance our knowledge. Participating in clinical trials will also help researchers learn more hopefully for effective treatments and an eventual cure.

There are of course, many agencies, organizations and universities that are active in not just researching the disease, but supporting caregivers with education, training and resources. They are too numerous to mention but their work is heralded.

Hopefully, caregivers are participating in education and benefiting from support services in their local communities.

Learning more about dementia, understanding its trajectory and receiving emotional support from others will help caregivers on their journey.

 




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Inspiring Family Caregivers to Make a Difference, One Senior at a Time

Family caregivers often find themselves in need of inspiration when challenges of providing care seem overwhelming.

On good days, the caregiving road is smoothly paved with no bumps and we can move quickly, enjoying the path that we travel.

Some days this very same road is riddled with potholes that sprout up without warning, stalling our progress.

On too many days, the road contains nothing but obstacles that stop us in our tracks.

It is on these troubling days that family caregivers require some inspiration to get them back on smooth footing.

A Story of Inspiration

Reminders that family caregivers are doing not just the best that they can but fulfilling a promise to another human being that they will care for them lovingly.

Every day things may not go just right and you may question your actions and decisions. But these moments of trepidation should be fleeting so that you can move on and continue to give care.

Because caregivers may need a little more inspiration to forge ahead, here is a story you may find inspiring.

It was written by Loren Eiseley in 1969 as part of a 16 page essay entitled the Star Thrower. The original story describes the narrator walking along the beach early one morning in the predawn twilight, when he sees a man picking up a starfish off the sand and throwing it into the sea. The narrator is observant and subtle, but skeptical; he has seen many “collectors” on the beach, killing countless sea creatures for their shells.

It has been adapted by many over the proceeding years to what we most often hear.

Despite it’s origins, it fits today’s caregiving!

The Starfish Story

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking up and gently throwing things into the ocean.

Approaching the boy, he asked: “Young man, what are you doing?

The boy replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.

The man laughed to himself and said, “do you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make any difference.

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the surf, then smiling at the man, he said: “I made a difference to that one.

We really like this story and have heard from many caregivers is has meaning to them. That’s why The Shop at Senior Care Corner® includes gifts for family caregivers that were inspired by the Starfish Story.

Importance of Family Caregiving

Family caregivers are making real differences in the lives of their senior loved ones — just as you are.

Without you there to coordinate their healthcare, provide for their personal needs, maintain their safety, or perform countless other tasks large and small, they may have no choice but to move from their beloved home to a facility.

You are not just meeting their care needs, but also brightening their day and relieving their boredom, sometimes even preventing depression.

According to Pew Research, there are 40.4 million unpaid family caregivers. The 2015 Report of Family Caregivers from AARP found the average caregiver provides about 24 hours of care each week. This amount of caregiving would cost an estimated $470 billion in 2013 if you weren’t there according to Family Caregiver Alliance. These statistics show the value in time and money that caregivers provide for older adults.

It is vital that family caregivers care for themselves so that they can continue to be there for their seniors. You may not think you have time for yourself or that it is selfish to put yourself on the list, but your senior needs you.

Care recipients might not thank you regularly (or even at all), but you are making a difference in their lives, just as the boy on the beach was making a difference in the life of each starfish.

On those days when it seems nothing is going right or all the decisions you must make seem more than you can handle, remember the boy and the starfish — what you are doing is important!

You are the difference to your senior loved one!

Convenient Exercise for Family Caregivers While Multitasking in the Living Room

Exercise, get active, and keep moving!

That is what we all hear constantly, especially family caregivers who need to care for themselves.

Most will answer “who has time to ‘get physical’ during the hectic day of caring for a senior loved one, other family members, and a job?”

We all know that experts recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity to help us all stay healthy or manage chronic disease. Caregivers can break this time up into shorter bursts and still gain benefits.

Physical activity that yields health benefits is described as movement by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure. Exercise is a structured type of physical activity that improves or maintains our physical fitness.

Getting to the gym three times a week to exercise seems to be an insurmountable challenge for many family caregivers, so they just give up and give in. Physical fitness and healthy movement aren’t part of many family caregivers’ routine anymore, which can negatively impact the health of caregivers.

Wouldn’t you love the opportunity to get much needed physical activity in the comfort of your own home and at a convenient time for you and your caregiving schedule?

Even better, what if that activity could be accomplished without taking time away from your other activities?

Exercise Solution for Caregivers

Recently we learned about a product that we thought could help bring physical health and activity back into the lives of many family caregivers.

[DISCLOSURE: We were provided a Desk Bike V9 by Flexispot with a request to provide our review of their product. There was no additional compensation. This article reflects our impressions of the Desk Bike in our words, without prior review or approval by Flexispot. The product link below was provided by them.]

Family caregivers are busy — but we don’t have to tell you that!

Caregivers schedule appointments, keep up with finances and insurance information, keep extended family members informed about what is going on with senior loved ones, use social media to support their journey, manage remote apps from connected devices, and often work either away from or in the home.

Being able to combine these tasks with getting much needed physical exercise would seem to be a no-brainer for many family caregivers. No longer would we have to put our physical health on the back burner due to time.

But is that possible?

Can you be active while you do normally sedentary things like supervise your senior loved one, watch TV together or answer your emails?

The answer is yes and that is exactly what we found!

How about a stationery bicycle with a workspace for a computer, beverage, snacks, book, or craft project? A Flexispot Desk Bike V9 combines the benefits of a stationary bike with a standing desk and is designed with ample room to get things done.

Work meets workout. Multitasking has never been this easy. Balance work and wellness, anytime and anywhere” according to its creators.

Intriguing! So much so it was honored at the 2018 CES with an Innovation Award.

We were truly intrigued when offered the chance to try one out and also asked a few seniors to give it a whirl too to see what they thought about it and if they would use it.

Our Evaluation of the Flexispot Desk Bike V9

We found the Desk Bike V9 to be easy and enjoyable to use right away but wanted to see if that was due to its novelty and went away with time. After weeks in our living room, it has not! There is every indication it has a permanent place there.

Our evaluation and observations below are based on our use of the Desk Bike V9 as well as that by other

Highlights of the Desk Bike V9

There were many positive attributes of the Flexispot, based on our observations and feedback from testers.

  • Riders found that the desk height was very comfortable, even for a short person. It was easy to adjust between riders of different sizes, too.
  • If you want to use the desk without riding, it is also easy to use from a standing position without having to readjust everything. This made it easy to keep a laptop on the desk and use it for quick tasks without moving it around or having to ride the bike.
  • One of the most important considerations for many people who use a stationary bicycle is the feeling of the seat. Can you sit for extended periods of time without becoming sore? Our riders found the seat to be comfortable for long periods of time, such as during the time it took to watch a movie. They advertise the most comfortable seat on the market and we found no reason to dispute that.
  • The bike was easy to assemble and easy to move around in the home as needed on the wheels provided. Even though it was on wheels, it never felt as though it was going to move, either while riding or while getting on and off.
  • Our bike was placed in the family room in order to be able to watch the TV while biking and working. If visitors came over, it would be easy to quickly move out of the room or just out of the way.
  • It will definitely help get 10,000 steps a day. A daily reset of the instrument panel made it straightforward to know how much I have done. We could ride 10 to 20 minutes at a time and by the end of the day it truly adds up.
  • The more you use it, the higher the resistance you can achieve to maximize your tracking daily goals for miles, time, or even a calorie burn simple to achieve.
  • The resistance feature goes from 0 to 8. The more resistance you use, the more calories you burn and muscle you build to achieve your goals. The knob control moved easily between skill level of different riders.

This bike gives you many useful features such as:

  1. Desktop that holds laptop, cup, TV remote and smartphone all at one time (PHOTO)
  2. Resistance control from 0 to 8 giving you the option of increasing workout potential
  3. Adjustable desk height that slides forward and backward easily
  4. Adjustable seat
  5. Comfortable seat
  6. Exercise time tracking
  7. Speed you exercised
  8. Distance traveled per session
  9. Calories burned each session
  10. Cup holder
  11. Pedal covers for barefoot riding

Riders found that they could get the physical benefits of exercise while using the Flexispot as any other stationery bike, that is increased heart rate and muscle strengthening over time. The longer they rode, steadily increasing resistance and time spent each session yielded notable physical benefits. They also spent time with senior loved ones and other family members as well as completing tasks on the desktop.

The bike while in motion was quiet and did not disturb others in the room watching TV or doing other activities in the family room alongside the bike rider.

Concerns Noted in Using the Desk Bike V9

While it had many more positives than negatives according to our riders, there were a few things to note.

  • It is important to get all the benefits the bike can provide by paying attention to both whatever is being done on the desktop or the TV and the functioning of the bike as you pedal. Riders sometimes forgot and stopped pedaling. It seems when doing something mindless like watching TV, it was not as difficult to remember to keep the pedaling pace up. However, when a rider’s attention was riveted on the computer or other task, it was more difficult to lose track of their feet! That really isn’t a function of the bike as much as it is the rider.
  • While assembly was straighforward and quick, the bike itself was very heavy and will require at least two people to get it out of the box and put together, simply due to its weight. Once assembled, the wheels allow it to be rolled wherever it needs to go easily by one person. Negotiating stairs with it would be another thing altogether.
  • You must be careful to adjust the desk to a level that allows you to maintain good posture, which may mean readjusting each time there is a change of rider. Before we learned this, some riders were slouching over the desk which could, over time, result in back soreness and a quicker fatigue factor. Proper positioning of the desk and seat height is important for each individual rider.
  • Like any physical activity, riding this bike and getting the greatest benefit will require you to build your stamina. Doing exercise time in short amounts building up the total time spent and gradually increasing the resistance will allow the rider to gain momentum without stressing joints and muscles.
  • While riders of all ages found the bike comfortable once appropriate seat and desk adjustments were made, shorter riders may find it beneficial to use a step up to the seat when mounting the bike.

Recommendation

We like the Flexispot Desk Bike V9 and recommend family caregivers consider it for their own homes and the homes of senior loved ones for whom they care.

Family caregivers who find their own health being shortchanged with all the demands on their time may find real benefit in the ability it gives them to combine work or entertainment with exercise from the comfort of their own living room!

We recommend the bike because caring for yourself and staying healthy should be a priority for family caregivers.

As with any physical activity, always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an individual exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with physical activity, stop and consult your healthcare provider.

Happy exercise/work/entertainment multitasking!