Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging was written by Melanie Merriman and won the choice for best caregiving book of 2017. The memoir follows Merriam as she navigates the difficulties of caring for her mother. Even with her background as a former hospice consultant who studied aging, illness and the healthcare system, Melanie faces struggles. The book provides details about the effects of aging on the body and mind and how to make tough decisions when it comes to care. Merriman does a great job of telling her story and encouraging other to simply try their best.
This week's app is Lotsa Helping Hands. This app helps caregivers and loved ones organize their care plans. You can build a communal calendar for everyone who is involved in caring for someone. It also allows you to post requests for support, whether its meals, rides or even visits. It also has a community of support where people can post well wishes and good thoughts.
Visit their website to learn more about the app, lotsahelpinghands.com
The millennial generation, born between 1980 and 2000, are often deemed irresponsible but recent reports state otherwise. According to AARP, millennials make up 25% of America's 40 million unpaid caregivers. That is 1 in four of those 40 million people. It's tough, as they are starting their young adult life while having to care for a parent. It is even harder for long-distance caregivers, living their own lives and having to travel to take care of loved ones. On top of this they also have a lot of debt and and they usually spend 27% of their income on care giving expenses.
To read more about this, visit forbes.com
When thinking about family caregivers, what usually comes to mind is a middle-aged woman. But a new report from AARP stated that the percentage of male caregivers has gone up to 40% compared to 34% eight years ago. "Today, 40% of the 40 million Americans caring for a loved one are male."
Both male and female caregivers are prone to same health problems that come with caring for a loved one, including stress and depression. One of the differences, generally speaking, is that male caregivers may be more uncomfortable with hands-on personal care, especially those who have not spent time in child-care. They also experience difficulty opening up when about their feelings of stress and pressure.
To learn more about this topic, visit the AARP report, and for support as a caregiver join the PAC.
The fundamentals of caring follows the story of a retired writer looking for a new job after a tragedy. He takes a care giving course and is hired by an English woman to look after her son who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It takes a while for the caregiver and patient to connect, but after they do they embark on a road trip across the US. Through their road trip they learn how to cope with the negatives and how to focus on the positive, it tells a great story about love, hope and friendship.
The Conscious Caregiver: A Mindful Approach to Caring for Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself, was written by Linda Abbit. Abbit is the founder of Tender Loving Eldercare, and she has been a caregiver for more than 20 years. In this book she shares her advice on taking care of an older parent or loved one and how to handle everything that comes with this change.
In her book she also includes tips on how to practice self-care and self-love. Being a caregiver is a high stress level job, and Abbit gives practical advice on how to deal with everything that comes with becoming a caregiver.
Read more about her book
Physical, mental, and social changes that naturally develop with age can make it hard to get the rest you need. Everything from medications to failing eyesight can interfere with your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Despite these challenges, there are many effective ways to improve your sleep quality without adding another medication to your list.
Start with Healthy Sleep Habits
One of the best places to start is your sleep habits. While these habits and behaviors may not fix all of your sleep problems, they give your mind and body ample opportunity for fall and stay asleep.
- Consistent Bed and Wake-Up Time: Your body loves consistency. By going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, you let your body adjust to your preferred schedule. Over time, the body will automatically start releasing sleep hormones at the appropriate time.
- Bedtime Routine: A regular pattern of activities before bed serves an important purpose. One – a familiar routine helps the brain recognize when to release sleep hormones. Two – it’s gives you an opportunity to relieve stress and tension before bed. A routine does not need to be complicated or long but should include activities that leave you feeling calm and relaxed.
- Avoid Screens Before Bed: Televisions and other electronic devices can give off a bright blue light that suppresses sleep hormones. Try shutting them off two to three hours before bed to keep your body on schedule.
If after working on your sleep habits you find you’re still struggling, you might need to consult a physician to look for an underlying sleep disorder. Sometimes better sleep comes through something as simple as an anti-snoring device, mouthguard, or therapeutic pillow.
When You Need More Than Healthy Habits
While many people will notice an improvement in their sleep when they use good sleep habits, others may find they need more of an intervention. A few to consider:
- Mindfulness Meditation: Meditation acts as a stress management tool. Many older adults experience stress due to the loss of a loved one, changes in living situation, or financial concerns. To get the rest you need, you have to be able to put stress aside for a time, and that’s where mindfulness meditation comes in. This type of meditation focuses on the present while allowing thoughts of the past and future to pass through without lingering. Over time, this “present” focus changes the structure of the brain by strengthening the connection between the emotional center of the brain and the logic/reasoning center. The overall effect is less stress and, oftentimes, better sleep.
- Bright Light Therapy: Natural light helps set and trigger the sleep-wake cycle. As eyes age, less light becomes available to stimulate the brain, and the sleep cycle may become irregular. Light therapy requires direct daily exposure to light bulbs that simulate natural sunlight. Bright light therapy maximizes light exposure in the morning to help reset the sleep-wake cycle.
- Sleep Restriction: This method uses changes in sleep timing to increase tiredness at night. You would first stay up later than normal, wake up at a regular time, but then stay awake all day, no naps. The next day you follow the same pattern. The theory is that as you get more tired, it gets easier to fall and stay asleep. This method has rules like, if you’re awake, you don’t stay in bed longer than 20 minutes and you don’t get in bed until you’re tired. It’s a process to retrain your body to sleep.
A combination of good sleep habits and interventions based on your unique sleep challenges can help you get the rest you need. With better sleep, you’ll be physically and mentally at your best and ready to live the life you want.
Calm is the #1 app for meditation. It is designed to help with relaxation and meditation. It has an array of features including meditation, guided breathing, help with sleep and relaxation scenes and techniques. Being a caregiver is very rewarding but it can also be extremely stressful. Make time to focus on yourself, this app can help!
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