Disclaimer – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.
More Information from The Safety Mom’s Media Segments
November has been designated National Caregivers Month. As someone who cares for three generations of men in my life (my dad has Alzheimer’s, my husband has MS and my son has intellectual disabilities) I understand all too well the stress caregiver’s are under and the physical toll this can take.
The theme this year is “Family Caregivers – Now More Than Ever” and boy, that’s the truth. Consider this – today there are more than 90 million family caregivers in the United States and 2 out of every 5 adults is a family caregiver. Family caregivers provide $450 billion worth of unpaid care each year. That’s more than total Medicaid funding, and twice as much as homecare and nursing home services combined.
Sometimes, caregivers are thrust into this role after a traumatic accident or sudden illness. Other times, it’s far more gradual, as when we realize our aging parents need help with daily activities or their driving skills have diminished. It’s usually during the holidays, when adult children are visiting their parents after not seeing them for several months or even a year, that they see the decline in mom or dad.
It’s All About Planning Ahead
Recognizing the signs that your aging parents might need help and getting resources in place before an illness or injury occurs will go a long way in reducing the stress on you as a caregiver. Comfort Keepers, the In-Home Companionship and Care agency, offers a free Home Care Survey which can help you determine if your parent or older relative might need some help with daily activities.
Being a “long distant caregiver” is not easy – even if the distance is 10 miles. Insuring the your older parents are remembering to take their medications, keeping scheduled doctor’s appointments and simply stay connected to family and friends is difficult when they’re not living with you . And then we always worry about what would happen if they fall or have a medical emergency. The VTech Careline phone system is a great tool in helping seniors continue to live independently while giving caregivers the peace of mind to know they can get help at a moment’s notice. In addition to the phone, which features larger buttons, and four frequently-called programmable buttons that you can be customized with the person’s photo, there is a pendant that they can wear that also acts as a phone to call the four pre-programmed numbers, answer the phone and talk. So, in the case of my dad, my mom wears it in case he should fall or there’s an emergency, she doesn’t have to leave him to run and get the phone, she can call 911 or me directly from the pendant. What I also love about the VTech Careline is that you can program “reminder calls” that can be set up at any intervals to remind your parent to take their medication, if they have an appointment and even to check if they have enough food in the house.
Whether your caring for an aging parent or child, be sure they can get help in an emergency
As I said, I not only am a caregiver for my father but also my son with intellectual disabilities. The number of parents caring for a child with special needs is growing dramatically in this country. Issues of wandering and/or emergency safety when they are away from home is a major cause of stress for any parent but especially for a child who might be non-verbal, autistic and/or not able to advocate for themselves. The Amber Child Safety System allows caregivers to track their child’s location through their cell phone, set up and set up “safe zones” and “danger zones.” Perhaps most importantly, you can store all of your child’s vital information securely in the system so that if they are unable to communicate with emergency responders if they are injured, they can be cared for appropriately. Clearly this is a great system for elderly people as well, especially with Alzheimer’s or dementia. All members of the Safety Mom community can receive a 25% off discount on the Amber Child Safety System when calling their toll free number at 855-726-2377, and mentioning the “SafetyMom” promotional code.
There’s a high likelihood that, if you’re reading this, you care for someone. But, if you don’t and you have a friend who’s a caregiver, share this information but also offer to help out – maybe it’s just watching the person they care for while they just take a walk, get a manicure or have some quiet time.
We want to hear from you if you’re a caregiver – how do you handle the stress and feeling of being overwhelmed? What advice can you give to others?