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Posts Tagged ‘health care’

The invisible side of caregiving.

In Children and Family, finances, Health, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on January 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

12191385_10153464406329342_2088873762632508759_oWhen you think of the term “caregiver,” you might have the image in your head of the dutiful family member looking out for an elderly parent or disabled child. What you see in public or on the surface is someone helping a senior citizen do her shopping or teaching a child with limited mobility to use an iPad. But, it’s the stuff you never see that is really the hard part of the job.

Caring for a family member is not something that comes with many benefits. Actually, there is only one benefit – looking after your loved one. Yes, there are some people who get paid to take care of a family member, but that’s rare and extremely difficult to

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Shower prep for caregivers can be like gearing up for battle. Helping a senior parent with every day personal care can be hard to get used to – for both – but extremely necessary.

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Medicines must be cataloged, dosed, and set into daily dispense containers. Tracking of administration is also necessary to ensure proper care, safety and financial maintenance.

Personal care is one of the hardest parts of caring for a senior parent. Different than helping a child with these issues, an elderly adult has a different perception of self-sufficiency and personal dignity. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for my father that he now needs help just to do something as simple as shaving or taking a shower.

As a Parkinson’s sufferer, Dad can’t hold his hands still enough to shave with a safety razor and we’ve had to go to an electric model. He does his best to try to do it on his own, but his hands can’t apply any pressure to the razor on his face so it misses, well, pretty much everything. So once a week, we do a complete, clean shave starting with a trimmer.

Showers also require some consideration to personal dignity while trying to ensure complete cleanliness. When I help Dad with a shower, it’s like gearing up for battle. It’s tough to get used to, for both of us. But we do our best. I just try to make sure he gets in and out without injury, get him clean and get him dressed. How would you feel if, suddenly, your children had to help you with trimming nails, combing hair, or washing? You have to be aware of your charge’s discomfort while still meeting the needs.

Managing medications is also a challenge for caregivers. I’m actually pretty lucky in our situation because Dad’s meds – for now at least – can be divided into two daily packets. Every Sunday, I refill a daily box dispenser and we have a record book to record every dose administered and by whom.

14192078_10154177027939342_4999691246789055042_nMoney is probably the biggest sore spot for many caregivers as well because we end up having to handle our own homes as well as the finances of our charge. It wasn’t long after my mother became ill that I learned who the money manager of the house was as I grew up.

As is common with many elderly folks, Dad was letting bills go unpaid, utilities were being cut off, debt was mounting and statements lay unopened, piling up on the kitchen table – Never again. My siblings and I took over managing his money and paid off all his major debt so we only have living expenses, medicines and doctor bills to worry about.

The problem is that things won’t stay that way. People don’t understand how little Medicare and its supplements really cover and the expenses continue to mount as a senior’s care grows more complicated because things like Parkinson’s continue to progress.

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Adjusting work to caregiver life is rarely easy, sometimes it is impossible. Many caregivers have to choose one over the other.

Naturally, The U.S. Congress is far too busy voting itself another ridiculous raise and cutting Social Security to bother considering how to better spend money to care for its citizens. After all, it’s “our” money. And there is no outside financial support for caregivers.

So, the bills continue to roll in – co-pays, lift chairs, vaccinations, home care (yes, it’s mostly self-pay), unforeseen changes in the health of the patient and the understanding that with Parkinson’s, diabetes and glaucoma, my father will get worse, even with the best possible care.

Tons of other things come into play too. When you’re a caregiver, you’re often the housekeeper, accountant, chef, chauffeur, nurse, clothes and dishwasher, and much more. The rest of the world doesn’t see the countless hours spent making sure the things like cracker packets and juice bottles are stored in a way he can easily open them with limited mobility.

Over the years, I’ve written many times about my experiences in helping to care for my parents. But people I meet always seem to be shocked how much we have to do that no one ever sees. So, when you see someone out in public dealing with something like this, just remember how hard it is and open a door for them or be patient when they’re sorting groceries for two households at the checkout. We appreciate it.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is available as a podcast at MyGreeneRadio.com.

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Starve A Cold and Stay In Bed

In Business, Children and Family, Education, Health, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on November 20, 2012 at 9:28 am

DEER IN HEADLINES

By Gery L. Deer

 

When I was helping to care for my mother towards the end of her life, my cousin and I did everything we could to limit her exposure to even the slightest sneeze or sniffle. Everything from the bed rails to the wheelchairs was repeatedly and regularly wiped down with antibacterial solutions to prevent her from picking up a random bug that, in her weakened condition, could possibly be life-threatening.

Of course, we couldn’t protect her from everything. From time to time, we would have to take her out of the controlled environment of her home for doctor visits, family functions and sometimes just to give her some fresh air. But what I grew increasingly paranoid of was the amazing number of people who would go about their day suffering from severe colds or other illnesses, seemingly ignorant to the potential dangers they posed to others.

Despite other achievements, medical science is still remarkably ignorant of the common cold and its associated contagions. Doped up on symptom-hiding chemicals, people plod blearily through the day without a second thought to the fact that they could make others seriously ill just by being the last person to push a door open or use a shopping cart.

More mind-blowing are the numbers of healthcare workers and restaurant servers who go to work sick and are allowed to remain at their post. This is just ridiculous. I understand that it’s hard to take a day off when you’re working hour by hour but by staying home you may be losing a few bucks but you might be keeping someone else from becoming deathly ill, and getting yourself back to health a bit faster.

So how do you know when you should call in sick? On Tuesday, November 20, Dr. Holly Phillips, on CBS This Morning’s Health Watch, offered these suggestions for knowing when you should stay home. “It’s hard to know when you should call out sick,” she notes. “A fever, particularly in the 101 – 102 degree range, accompanied by aches and pains, might signal the flu, and you should definitely stay home.”

“A milder fever, sore throat white patches on tonsils indicates a strep infection and it’s probably time for some antibiotics, so a doctor visit is recommended,” she says. “A low grade fever coupled with a cough and sniffles mild signal a mild cold, so it’s your choice to stay home or not. But if you choose to go to work, be kind to your co-workers and wash your hands often and cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and don’t handle food.”

Researchers say that the common cold costs American business more than $25 billion every year. More than $17 billion of that loss is attributed to people who go to work sick and are therefore less productive. In my opinion, wives tales and ignorance are also major contributors to that loss.

For years, people thought a cold or other infections illness came from being outside in the rain or by not wearing a coat outside on chilly days. These behaviors lower the immune system, but colds and other diseases come from other people through some kind of contact, either person-to-person, or person-to-object. We spread these things ourselves, no divine intervention is required. In the end, it’ll be our own ignorance that kills us.

I’m not a doctor, but I can tell you from my own experiences that the number one part of preventing colds and flu is in sanitation. Maintaining a clean sink and toilet, using liquid instead of bar soaps, paper towels or air dryers and, when you can’t wash, antibacterial wipes and gels.

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. If you do have a cold or some other issue that has you sneezing and coughing all day, please consider those around you. Had we not been so proactive, my mother could have died much earlier from complications of what to some people are just minor respiratory issues.

If you work in food service, stay home. If you work in medical care or around kids and the elderly, stay home. And as they always say, get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.