Posts Tagged ‘illness’

Who is a Caregiver?

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

As we welcome November we also welcome National Caregivers Month. But, while it can be easy to recognize the month, it’s not always easy to recognize a caregiver. Caregivers range from the professional and paid to full-time non-professional caregivers to informal caregiving on a part-time basis. According to the Mayo Clinic, “About 1 in 3 adults in the United States provides care to other adults as informal caregivers.” Given the numbers, it’s almost certain you personally know someone who is a caregiver.

Provided by rawpixel.com via pexels.comBut who is a caregiver? A caregiver is anyone who provides help to someone in need. Anyone can be a caregiver, and caregiving is widely prevalent. Caregivers are diverse and consist of a wide range of ages, socio-economic backgrounds, genders, ethnic identities, locations, and caregiving arrangements. Despite how many people are caregiving, many don’t identify as “caregivers” because of their idea of what a caregiver is or isn’t. As a result, it’s important for us to recognize that not all caregiving looks the same. For instance, one caregiver might provide near-24 hour care, but another caregiver might drop off groceries once a week or organize medication; one caregiver might need to live with the person who needs help, but another caregiver might be providing help remotely from across the state or across the country.

As we continue to experience the “graying of America,” and our life expectancy rises, it’s likely many of us will become caregivers at one point or another. Being a caregiver is no easy task. While incredibly rewarding, caregiving is also often emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially taxing. Caregivers have been shown to be significantly more at risk for illness, depression, and other health conditions associated with prolonged exposure to stress. If you’re a caregiver it’s vital to take time to care for yourself.

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We want to celebrate caregivers and all they do. Caregivers are often the frontline advocate for their loved ones, working tirelessly to make sure the person(s) in their care is receiving all they need despite the impact on their own lives. We also want to remind caregivers to take care of themselves (see our “5 Self-Care Tips for Caregivers,” below). Being a caregiver can be one of the most rewarding experiences, but also one of the most exhausting times in a person’s life. Thank you to all of our caregivers, it’s your efforts that change the lives of so many and help so many live longer, richer lives in their community.

 

5 Self-Care Tips for Caregivers

Here are 5 vital ways for caregivers to practice self-care to rest, recharge, and revitalize!

  1. Take breaks every day—try a 5-minute meditation or any other practice that helps you de-stress
  2. Join a support group—in person or online.
  3. Do some self-massage to relieve accumulated tension
  4. Get enough: Water, Nutrition, Exercise, and Rest (caregivers often report a poorer diet and lack of adequate exercise and sleep)
  5. Know when to ask for help—watch out for signs of burnout and escalating health concerns; know when you need to ask for additional help from family or friends, or when outside agencies need to step in

Do you have a story about your caregiving experience you’d like to share? NJFA will be sharing stories in caregiving later this month for our 2nd blog on National Caregivers Month. To share your story, simply leave a comment on this blog or any of our social media pages, or email Communications Manager Mason Crane-Bolton at [email protected]

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Are you prepared? What is an Advanced Directive?

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Are you prepared?

What is an Advance Directive? Why would you need one? Where do you get a form? These are all important questions for anyone, but especially for older adults. You know your rights as a patient and that you can make your own decision about medical treatments, you discuss them with your physician. But what if you were not able to discuss them with your doctor? What if you became incapacitated and were incapable of conversation or comprehension?

That’s where an Advance Directive can help you. They have many other names and come in various types. Some people refer to them as Living Wills, or Instruction Directive, this type of Advance Directive allows for you to make a statement about your treatment preferences. Another type, Proxy Directive or Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, allows you to name a proxy, someone you trust to make decisions for you if you are not able. There is also a Combined Directive, in which you may give instructions as to your care if you are incapacitated but also name a proxy to care out those wishes and make decisions based on your treatment preferences.

An Advance Directive can be as simple or specific as you wish. In New Jersey there is no specific form that must be followed for an Advanced Directive and you do not need a lawyer to prepare one. It is suggested that if you have questions you could consult a lawyer or medical professional. There are many models available for Advance Directives and there will be links at the end of this blog. An Advance Directive can simply be a letter stating your health care wishes or it can be a detailed list of treatments that you would or would not want. It is important to remember that an Advance Directive can be used to request treatment not just withhold or withdraw treatment. It is a legally recognized document that can make your wishes know to your family in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. It only requires your signature and two adults to witness your signature. You can have it notarized or signed by a legal authority but this is not necessary to make it a legal document.

You should share copies of your Advance Directive with your doctor, with family members and if you name a proxy or healthcare representative, you should share a copy with that person as well. Under New Jersey Law, medical staff must honor any written Advance Directive, they are only in effect when you are not capable of making your own decision. It is recommended that you review your Advance Directive every 5 years, you should initial it and have a witness if you make any changes.

The time to think about an Advance Directive is when you are healthy and able to make clear decisions. This way you can make your own decisions and/or appoint someone you trust to make those decisions.

Some resources:

Advance Directive Forms from Legal Services NJ

 

Brochure from New Jersey Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly for more information call 1-877-582-6995 or 609-943-4023

New Jersey Hospital Association

Medical Society of NJ