Posts Tagged ‘NJ aging’

Caregiver Stories

Friday, November 16th, 2018

As November rolls along we continue to celebrate National Caregivers Month. With Thanksgiving only a week away, we know many people are preparing for gatherings of friends and family (both biological and “found”). We hope the holiday will be an enjoyable celebration filled with love and community, but we also recognize that the day will be difficult for many, not the least of whom are our caregivers.          

Thanksgiving is often a time of gathering and telling stories as we give our thanks for the good things in our lives. In honor of this tradition and our caregivers we’d like to share the stories of some New Jersey caregivers. Thank you caregivers for all you do.


Photo provided by Pixabay via Pexels.com

Photo provided by Pixabay via Pexels.com

Some of our caregivers talked about their gratitude for being able to return the care that had been given to them over the years…  

“In my mom’s last years, she was living alone in her apartment at Seabrook Village. Her skin had become very thin, and she was prone to injuries that became much more major than for a younger person. On several occasions she injured a leg, producing large areas where her skin was largely rubbed away, in one case requiring a skin graft.  In addition to helping her with hospital and doctor visits, I came over to her home daily during one period to help clean wounds and change the dressing. As the geographically closest one of my siblings these duties fell to me, and I regarded it as an honor to be able to give back to someone who had given me so much.” –Tinton Falls

 

One caregiver wrote about the bonding moments that occur during caregiving…

“Two weeks ago, one of my Mom’s high school friends passed away. Mom wanted to go to the viewing and pay her respects. Since Mom had her shoulder surgery, she can only drive short distances, but this ride was going to take the better part of the day, so her driving wasn’t possible. Instead, I picked Mom up at the retirement complex where she and Dad live. We then drove back to New Jersey and up Route 1 to the Funeral Home. Mom is an accomplished map reader so she was an able co-pilot for this part of the trip.

This was a very difficult day for Mom emotionally. Marge was her last living high school buddy. During our ride, we talked about Mom’s memories of high school, Marge’s family, and Marge’s visits to my Grandparents’ home. When we got to the funeral home, we were greeted by Marge’s daughter, Nancy and son, John. It was comforting to meet and speak to them about their mother. Mom got the chance to bid farewell to her friend and we spent some time looking over the many photos of Marge and her family. It was helpful for Mom to see all these pictures, because she hadn’t seen Marge in many years—they simply spoke on the phone. The ride home was peaceful. We talked about how welcome Nancy and John made us feel and what a lovely family Marge had.

Mostly, this was an unexpected day for bonding with Mom. Marge was from our hometown. The funeral home has seen our family on numerous occasions for the mourning of relatives and friends who have passed away. As stressful and annoying as the driving was that day, I know how much it meant to my Mom and I wanted to do it for her.” –Lawrenceville

 

Photo by Noelle Otto, via Pexels.com

Photo by Noelle Otto, via Pexels.com

Some caregivers told us about the challenges of watching parents grow older and increasing caregiving duties…

“Nearly every Thursday for the past several years I have been visiting my Mom and Dad in Pennsylvania. Dad just turned 90. Mom will be 88 in a few days. Eighteen months ago, Dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer. His treatment lasted for 6 weeks and I accompanied him for each office visit and the follow-up appointments with the doctor. Thankfully, the treatments were successful and Dad is cancer-free. Mom had shoulder replacement 12 months ago. I stayed with Mom and Dad after the surgery for a short while to ensure that Mom was able to get around on her own. As with Dad, I went to follow-up visits with Mom and she has recovered most of the use of her left arm. Often times, I take my Mom (and sometimes Dad) shopping and we run errands in the neighborhood. What has become more difficult, is watching how each of them is declining in what they can or can’t do and what they remember or don’t recall.” –Lawrenceville

 

 

Photo by Matthias Zomer, via Pexels.com

Photo by Matthias Zomer, via Pexels.com

Others talked about watching their own parents become caregivers for each other, both the trials and the lessons learned…

“I am in awe watching my almost-92 year old mother caring for my Alzheimer’s stricken father. It is not only about the patience, compassion and love she extends him, but even about the occasional short-temper and impatience. She extends herself about as far as she can and forgives herself, mostly, when she comes up short of her goals.

And she not only takes care of him, but to the extent she can of herself: she has arranged for volunteers and paid aides and relatives to help her and gets herself out, whether it’s to attend meetings or just get errands done, in order to maintain her mental and emotional equilibrium. I do think that extending his care to others is not only a necessity for her, but even a boon and blessing to them in the sense of affirming our humanity—that we are all in this together and that extending care and caring to others is a fundamental way of sharing that.

I know their current situation of my mom providing continued care in their home cannot last much longer, and has only been possible thus far because another daughter lives with them. And her children are all concerned about the effects of months of sleep deprivation and the curtailing of her activities (as well as watching your partner of 70+ years deteriorate in this horrible way), but she has managed so far with fortitude, help, a fair amount of grace, and a great deal of love.” –Central New Jersey, with parents in California


Ultimately, caregiving is one of the most selfless and loving acts a human being can perform for another. It is a life-changing experience, and it can be rewarding, painful, hopeful, and challenging. According to Pew Research Center, approximately 25% of Americans aged 45-64, and 17% of 65+ aged adults, are caring for an older adult. Whether you are a caregiver or anticipate becoming one in the future, caregiving dramatically affects the lives of everyone involved. As our nation and state continue to experience the “Graying of America,” we can expect the numbers of caregivers to rise alongside those who need care. So we recognize and thank you, caregivers, for all you’ve done and all you continue to do. Happy National Caregivers Month to you, and thank you to our caregivers who were so willing to share their stories with us.

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.

Provided by rawpixel.com via pexels.com

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]

Provided by Pixaby via pexels.com

Staying Active—Go4Life Month

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Did you know September is Go4Life month? Go4Life month is, “an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH…designed to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life.” Inspired by Go4Life month, we’d like to share with you some of our tips for getting into (and sticking with) a regular exercise and physical activity regimen. Below are 4 common reasons people often don’t get enough physical activity, and how you can combat them. As always, you should consult a doctor before engaging in a new exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns or medical conditions.

1. Always Feeling Too Busy
Do you always feel like you have too much going on? Like you don’t have time to be physically active? Instead of trying to fit in longer exercise and physical activity periods, try working in smaller periods of activity or working physical activity into your already scheduled activities.

Short exercise intervals have many of the same benefits as longer intervals.

Exercising as little as 10-minutes at a time has real health benefits. Try to set aside a few 10-minute intervals throughout the day to exercise. To get the maximum benefits for your body, try varying your exercises throughout the day. For instance, take a brisk walk in the morning and then do some body weight strength training in the afternoon. In the evening you could do some balancing exercises and a few good stretches for flexibility before bedtime. If you still find yourself unable to squeeze in dedicated exercise time work with the time you do have. If you have only a few minutes, use that time to exercise.

In addition to exercise, recent studies show we also need to be more physically active throughout the day. Being inactive for lengthy periods risk the potential to undo many of exercise’s benefits and can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, increased risk of falls, and feelings of depression and anxiety. There are many ways to get more physical activity into your daily life without disrupting your regular activities. Here are some to try:

Remember to move throughout the day.

• Take the stairs instead of the escalator or take the escalator instead of the elevator and try to walk at least a few steps if you’re able to do so safely.
• Clean your house
• Set yourself an alarm to get up and move for at least 3 minutes every 30 minutes, or at least 5 minutes every hour.
• Walk or bike ride to your errands or to work when possible.
• Have walking meetings and walking lunches at work.
• When meeting with friends and family, center things around some kind of physical activity, you’ll be a great amount of physical activity while you create wonderful memories.
• If you need to spend long periods of time sitting consider investing in a foot/hand elliptical machine that will keep you physically engaged while you sit

2. Motivation
Whether it’s lack of interest or physical limits getting in the way, it’s not always easy to be motivated to exercise or be more active. There are, however, several ways you can work around this and increase your motivation and your physical activity.

Do What You Find Fun
Not into running? Try recreational swimming. Tennis doesn’t interest you? Sign up for some dancing lessons. You love team sports? Why not look into local baseball, basketball, and bowling leagues?

If you haven’t found an activity or exercise yet that really engages you, don’t give up! Keep trying new activities until you find the one that fits your needs and desires. Maybe your local park or community college has a tai chi or yoga class, you could start a neighborhood team sports or running league, and the internet is a great place to search for local groups looking to meetup for a variety of activities for all ages and abilities. And while you’re trying new things and finding the right activity for you you’ll be doing yourself a double-service—learning and trying new things keeps your body and brain active!

Having an exercise-buddy is a great way to stay motivated!

Use the Buddy System
Exercising alone can be hard. That’s where having an exercise friend(s) can come in handy! There are a variety of ways to make sure you have the social motivation to exercise—you can have a regular meeting with a friend to exercise together, you can join a local league or group of exercisers, or you can sign up for a fitness class that gives you a standing commitment each week.

If you prefer to exercise alone, but still need the motivation of a friend, that’s no problem! Having an exercise partner to motivate you can be as simple as checking in with each other on a regular basis to make sure you’re meeting your exercise and activity goals. The best part about the “buddy system” is it not only motivates you, it motivates both of you.

Set a Reminder
For many people, getting into an exercise and activity routine is as simple as scheduling it. Download a fitness tracker on your phone or print an exercise calendar from online (you’ll find hundreds for free if you search “exercise calendar” or “fitness calendar”). Decide what activities or exercise you’ll do on which days and log them. Finally, set yourself reminders or put your calendar in a place where you’ll see it often. You’ll be surprised at how much more active you become!

3. Safety
It’s always important to be safe when being active. Whether you’re in perfect health, recovering from a setback, or dealing with a chronic condition, it’s crucial to be safe while still being active. Here are a few tips to keep you safe while you stay active:

Don’t Push Too Hard, Too Fast
If you’re new to exercise or if you’re coming back to an exercise regimen after a break, take it slow and be careful. Working out too vigorously can cause injury and further derail your fitness plans.

Listen to Your Body
Exercise is about finding the appropriate level of activity for your body, not pushing yourself to an extreme. Speak with a medical profession to talk about what activities are appropriate for you. Track improvements in your health and fitness and use those to judge whether or not your exercise and physical activity is too much. And if you’re experiencing pain due to your exercise routine stop and seek advice from a health professional.

Paying attention will keep your activity goals on track.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings 
Whether you’re inside or outside, make sure you pay attention to your surroundings as you’re staying active. Check the weather before you go outside and pay attention to changes in weather, insect activity, and pollen levels.

If you’ll be going outside, know the route you plan to take and how long you’ll be gone. If you’re going alone tell someone else your plans (or carry a cell phone) so they can be alerted if you need to call for help. And if the weather is cold make sure to wear layers—sweat cools off a body rapidly and can chill you after your body cools down from exercising. Watch out for cracks in pavement, fallen branches, or holes that could trip you or cause you to lose your footing. If you’re exercising indoors make sure you clear enough space for the activity you’ll be doing. Clean small objects off the floor you may trip over, and don’t exercise near furniture.

4. Expense
Money is a common concern and many people don’t have the money (or desire) to buy exercise equipment. They can’t afford monthly gym passes and may think they “can’t afford” to exercise. In reality, though, anyone can exercise, regardless of income! You may not be able to sign up for a membership at a fancy new gym, but there are ways to exercise and be active within any budget, including these:

Small free weights or dumbbells (like those above) are usually relatively inexpensive. You can also fill an empty water bottle or milk jug with water, sand, or pebbles for a free, adjustable weight!

Use Your Body
The freest and most available exercise equipment is your own body. You can take a walk or a run, practice yoga or tai chi, or strength train using your own body weight (think push-ups, squats, etc.). Of course, if you have equipment already, like a bicycle, go for a bike ride, or engage in other sports. If going outside isn’t a good option, walk around your house or engage in an activity like mall walking.

Cheaper Alternatives to Fancy Equipment
Another alternative is to look for cheaper equipment. Jumping rope is a very effective workout for your whole body, and jump ropes can be purchased for only a few dollars. You can also look at local used sporting goods stores and thrift stores or the web for used exercise equipment. You can even make your own weights out of soup cans and water bottles!

Less Expensive Ways to Learn
Check your local offices on aging, senior centers, and libraries to see what, if any, fitness programs they may provide and if any are available for free. If you have health insurance or Medicare check with your provider to see if you’re eligible for any free or reduced-cost gym memberships, fitness programs, or other health initiatives.

Other low-cost ways to learn an exercise are buying a fitness DVD or book, or checking one out from your local library. You can also look at websites like YouTube, which carries hundreds of fitness and exercise videos in a wide range of activities for people of all abilities, for free.

Get Going!
Increasing your physical activity and exercise isn’t always easy. There can be obstacles or setbacks, but the he benefits of physical activity and exercise are numerous: increased fitness and well-being, relief and improvement of many chronic conditions, improved mental health, social engagement, and beyond! Thank you for reading, now take a break from all this reading and get moving!

To find your local Area Office on Aging, call the toll-free number at: 1-877-222-3737