Caregiver Mental Health Toolkit

This month we celebrate National Family Caregiver's Month! The National Alliance for Caregiving is partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and mental health advocates to create a toolkit for people who are caring for someone who has mental illness. The toolkit will cover a range of topics including how take care of yourself, how to find community services, planning for the future and much more. 


The toolkit will be shared in a webinar taking place on Tuesday November 21st at 3:00 pm. 


Read more about the details and register for the webinar here.


Take a Meditation Break for Stress Relief Using Guided App

As we come into the fall and winter months, the days get shorter and the weather gets worse. As this happens, it's easy to hole up indoors and focus on the stressors of daily life. For caregivers in particular who work in high-stress environments, taking the time to break the routine and relieve stress remain key. The Headspace app offers guided meditation to help caregivers take care of their mental health. 

The Headspace home screen displays different levels of meditation for caregivers to work through in the free version of the app. The levels also display how long that particular guided meditation will last for. Once a user selects the first session they would like to complete, the app opens an introduction animation explanation of how to best complete the meditation. 

As the intro to the meditation mentions, the most important aspect to having a successful meditation is finding a location where you will be undisturbed for the duration. Perhaps in the morning before you leave for work, immediately when you arrive home from work or right before bed would work well. Or, maybe your senior client would be interested in completing a guided meditation session with you. 

The actual session is an audio recording with a man explaining how to relax for the meditation. He explains how to sit and breathe in addition to what to focus on as you meditate. He moves slowly through the instructions, making them easy to follow and comply with. Caregivers with no meditation experience should find this a nice introduction. 

As caregivers complete more meditations, they can also visit the Series area of the app. Here users will see different categories of guided meditation, such as Sport, Health and Relationships. Each category has sub-categories of guided meditations for specific topics. For example, under Health there are meditations for Depression, Self-Esteem, Stress and Anxiety.  

The Singles library likewise contains individual meditations around more focused topics, such as Fear of Flying or Commuting. The meditations in this category last anywhere from 2 to 60 minutes, depending on the topic. Both the Series and the Singles meditations require a subscription to the app after having completed the first 10 free meditations. If caregivers find that the into meditations were helpful and a specific topic sticks out to them, they might want to consider subscribing to the service. 

The Headspace app is available for Apple and Android platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko 

Improve Mental Health and Get Support Using App

Depression affects almost 15 million American adults annually, according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Depression and mental health issues can emerge at any age. Caregivers and senior clients alike who experience depressing stretches or suicidal thoughts will benefit from ReliefLink, an app specifically designed to help prevent suicide and improve mental health. 

When user first visit the ReliefLink app, the menu offers options to track how they're feeling that day. Users select an option on a mood scale from Very Good to Very Low. They also can select an option on a scale from No Suicidal Thoughts to Strong Urge to Act on Plan Immediately. This tracking serves as a resource between therapy sessions or to share with a mental health professional when visiting for the first time. 

The Reminders area of the app allows users to set a reminder for an appointment, to take a medication, or for another event. Users can make a note and attach it to the reminder for specific instructions regarding an appointment or medication instructions and select the time for notification as well as if the reminder is one time or should be repeated. 

 

The Safety Planning area allows users to note their own warning signs, such as feeling trapped, sleep problems or threatening to hurt or kill oneself. Next, users select self coping strategies such as physical activity, listening to relaxing music or relaxation exercises. For every warning sign, caregivers or their senior clients should develop a self coping strategy. Other areas in safety planning ask users to list places for distraction, friends I can ask for help, professionals I can contact, and maintaining a safe environment. For caregivers using the app with their senior clients who may be feeling depressed, it may help to reassure them that you're a friend they can ask for help. 

The Resources and Emergency areas of the app provide caregivers information on therapists and support groups in the area as well as options for course of action during an emergency. The app overall provides users the ability to track their daily feelings and notice trends or disruption of patterns in thinking to understand and overcome their depression better.

The ReliefLink app is available for Apple platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

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