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Welcome to “Caregiver to Caregiver”

Welcome to “Caregiver to Caregiver!” And say hello to our team of Caregiver Consultants, Merry McGowen, Carol Soma and Mary Kay Laabs, who are eager to support caregivers and their senior loved ones in Faribault County. We work individually and in small groups to provide education and information that will be useful to you now. We have different backgrounds and skills, but we unite in recognizing and meeting the unique needs of caregivers, wherever you are in your caregiving journey. 

Feel free to visit this blog often, or sign up to follow us below. And look for us on our brand new “Caregiver to Caregiver” facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/caregivertocaregiver

Safety First

We all know it’s important as we age to take a look around our homes and consider what elements may pose a danger for us, especially in relation to keeping us safe from falls. A fall at 30, 40 or 50 typically does not have the same serious outcome as it can for someone in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond. 

Yet, falls are not the only danger that we may need to consider. This is especially true if you have a loved one living with dementia. Because dementia affects the brain and its functions, it often becomes difficult for someone with dementia to reason or recognize when there is a danger. Even using regular household items can become hazardous for someone who does not remember how to use them or how to turn them off. 

The checklist in this article provided by the Alzheimer’s Association gives many good suggestions for caregivers to take into consideration as they analyze the potential for unsafe situations for their loved one. This is a printable page so is handy to print and post as a reminder to recheck for necessary changes as a loved one progresses in the disease.

Home Safety Checklist

If you are caring for someone with dementia, consider attending our monthly support group for caregivers of someone with dementia. That group meets the 4th Tuesday of the month at 10am at the Interfaith Caregivers office, 301 N. Main St., Blue Earth. Due weather issues and changes due to the COVID pandemic, it is best to call our office 507-526-4684, prior to attending to verify date and time.

Plan to Be Active

For caregivers of someone with dementia, a daily challenge can be helping your loved one to continue to do things they find enjoyable. Since each person is an individual and because dementia affects each person differently, the caregiver that spends the most time with the loved one is best suited to suggest or plan activities for them. With modifications your loved one may be able to continue with a hobby they enjoyed before he or she was affected by the disease.  Simplifying any activity will likely make it easier for both caregiver and care receiver. 

Maybe you are someone who likes to have activities planned, which can certainly benefit busy caregivers as well as their loved ones. Folks with dementia tend to respond well to structure. It may even be a benefit to put a plan in writing and post it in a place where your loved one can refer to it. This article suggests ideas for activities as well as guidance for putting together a plan that works for you. 

Daily Care Plan

Care for the Caregiver

Many caregivers who valued the pre-pandemic days when they could leave their loved ones for just an hour or two to go to coffee or lunch with friends, or lose themselves in the stacks at the library, attend a support group, book club or any other activity they’ve enjoyed are struggling to find a new way to “take a break”. A key element of these activities was the ability to leave the house and just get away from the responsibility of 24/7 caregiving for a while. Many of those activities have been put on hold or simply are not safe to continue to do because of a loved one with frail health or other concerns that the pandemic has made us aware of. 

 I find many Caregivers are a resilient and creative lot (often out of necessity) and many have come up with ways to fill the need to “take some time away” within the structure we are currently dealing with. This might be a good time to try something new, like taking up painting! Who cares if the painting looks like something a 6 year-old did? If it allows you an opportunity to express yourself and you enjoy it, you are the only one it needs to please. This article offers more ideas to help those of you looking for a new idea to try or are just “stuck” and struggling to find a new way to take time for yourself. The most important thing is for you as a caregiver to carve out a few minutes each day to relax and refresh.

16 Ideas for Recharging Your Caregiving Energy in 15 Minutes

Anesthesia Can Be Risky Business

Statistics show that the need for surgery increases as we age. As much as 53 percent of surgeries are performed on individuals over the age of 65. Many surgeries require the use of general anesthesia which carries additional risks for older adults. One area that can be affected more severely in the elderly population is cognition. It is common for anyone undergoing surgery to feel foggy or sluggish for a few days after surgery as the anesthesia works its way out of their system. But for older adults, that same feeling of sluggishness can go on for weeks, or even months. In addition, memory and thinking may be affected. For a person with a chronic condition like dementia, the risk of lasting effects is even greater. It is important to weigh the risks vs benefits before any surgical procedure. 

Check out this article about “Cognitive Effects of Anesthesia on the Elderly” for more information.

If you are a caregiver for a loved one with dementia, consider trying out our support group for caregivers of loved ones with dementia. We meet monthly, the 4th Tuesday at 10am at the Interfaith Caregivers office, 301 N. Main St., Blue Earth.

Is It Risky for Older Adults to Take Multiple Medications?

It seems inevitable as we age that as the years increase, so does the number of pills or medications that we add to our daily regimen.  While aging or elderly adults may have several health conditions that require medications to manage them, it is a concern that as the list of prescriptions grows, so does the possibility of serious drug interactions. And the longer the list of medications, the longer the list of side effects. 

In this article on polypharmacy, you will find information about the types of questions to ask if you have concerns about medications, side effects or interactions for yourself or for a loved one, as well as who to ask. 

Polypharmacy in the Elderly: Taking Too Many Medications Can Be Risky

If you are caring for a loved one and need support, we offer support groups to help you in your caregiving journey. Our caregiver support group meets monthly on the first Tuesday of the month at 10am at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 605 W State Street, Kiester. 

Prepare for Power Outages

All it takes is one wild, unexpected storm to turn life upside-down in a hurry. Some of us lost power shortly before Christmas, and after one cold night, many of us were looking for ways to warm up fast. 

Winter storms can be especially dangerous, as we saw when temperatures plunged in Texas, threatening the lives and health of millions of people. Sometimes a brief, localized summer thunderstorm can knock out power. I can still see in my mind’s eye the unfortunate squirrel that took out power on my block for several hours some time ago. 

While we usually can’t prevent a power outage, we can prepare how we deal with it. If your power suddenly goes out and doesn’t come back up shortly, report it to your local power company. If you’re curious what they’ll do when they have an outage, check out instructions and this short safety video on the Frost Benco site:

https://www.benco.org/report-an-outage

https://www.benco.org/outage-restoration-and-safety

But even more important, consider your personal safety, and make plans now to be prepared. Pay attention to weather reports to prepare in advance. Make sure you can communicate with neighbors or family, and know what your community offers, such as sheltering at a heated (or cooled) community center. Check batteries, have flashlights ready, and have medications, water and food on hand for a few days. Check again when seasons change. 

The American Red Cross has an excellent checklist for Power Outage Safety, with recommendations for before, during, and after an outage. Be sure to scroll down to Resources, where you can download and print the Safety Checklist and load the Free Emergency App for your phone. 

https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/power-outage.html

COVID-19 Vaccine Video

Check out this video put together by MAGIC – MN Association of Geriatric Inspired Clinicians. It goes over the facts about the COVID vaccine and dispels some of the myths around it.

Vaccine Video

You can also go to the CDC website to find information on the vaccine. If you are interested in receiving the vaccine the MN Dept of Health has a list of locations that are offering the vaccine.

CDC Vaccine Information

Find Vaccine Locations – Minnesota

UTIs Cause Unusual Behavioral Symptoms in Elders

Too often, UTI’s (Urinary Tract Infections – also known as bladder infections) in our elder loved ones go unnoticed. The symptoms the rest of us are familiar with are not necessarily the symptoms experienced by older adults. 

This article from AgingCare gives information that can help to understand and notice the warning signs of a UTI in our older loved ones before they become serious. It is especially important for caregivers of someone with dementia to be aware of the warning signs as a loved one with dementia may not be able to recognize or express the symptoms they are experiencing.

UTIs Cause Unusual Behavioral Symptoms in Elders

If you are a caregiver looking for support as you navigate a loved one’s aging issues, Interfaith Caregivers offers a support group for caregivers. The group meets at 10am the first Tuesday of the month in Kiester at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 625 W State. If you plan to attend, check with our office first as meeting dates may change due to weather or Covid-19. Our office number is 507-526-4684. 

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease

If you’ve identified that your loved one is showing signs of memory loss or from the list of 10 signs of Alzheimer’s Disease that were mentioned in a previous post, it’s time to make an appointment with your loved one’s health care provider and talk with them about the changes you are noticing and have testing done. Alzheimer’s is like other diseases in that it needs to be identified and diagnosed so that you and your loved one can take steps to help navigate the changes you will experience. One of the reasons it is necessary to have this appointment with a medical professional so that they can rule out any other issues that might be causing the changes you are seeing. 

This information from the Alzheimer’s Association will help you understand what to expect when you meet with the doctor and what testing may be needed to assist in diagnosing.

How is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed?

If you’re a caregiver for someone experiencing memory loss and would like support from others experiencing similar challenges, Interfaith Caregivers offers a support group for caregivers for those with dementia. We meet the 4th Tuesday of the month at 10am at the Interfaith Caregivers office, 301 North Main St, Blue Earth. Due to weather and Covid-19 challenges, it is best to call our office first to verify the meeting date. 507-526-4684.

Vision concerns for people with Parkinson’s

When was the last time you were in to see your optometrist? For most seniors, medical providers recommend annual exams, and that’s a good chance to see if your glasses prescription needs tweaking. They will probably also check for any changes in your eye health, screening for glaucoma, cataracts, or even macular degeneration.

If you have other health issues that may impact your eyes, those annual visits become even more important. Diabetes has long been identified as a concern that affects eye health. Good vision is important to prevent falls, with its accompanying health risks such as fractures, depression and dementia.

Now recent studies have identified that visual impairments are 60% more common in people with PD. Parkinson’s can already increase fall risks due to certain mobility or coordination issues, so if this affects you or a loved one, check out this information from Parkinson’s Foundation. Their website is filled with timely and helpful information for anyone who is looking for more information on PD. As always, it’s a good idea to discuss this or any related concerns with your health providers.

Study Finds Visual Impairment is 60 Percent More Common in People with Parkinson’s

Interfaith Caregivers has a support group for those who have Parkinson’s or are caring for someone who does. We meet in Blue Earth the second Thursday of each month at 1:30 pm. Call us for further information.