Caregiving and the Holidays

Are you a senior making your spring and summer travel plans? You’re not alone. In fact, AARP’s 2017 Travel Research reveals that the majority of Boomers travel during the spring and summer months. Whether it’s a weekend getaway, summer vacation, or a big family reunion, taking trips is a great way for seniors to get out of the house, socialize with others, problem solve, and check some life goals off their bucket list.

Travel doesn’t come without its own challenges, however; everything from cost, health, and security concerns to long lines at the airport and unexpected snafu’s with reservations can throw a wrench in your well-designed travel plans. These challenges are made even more difficult if you have mobility problems or another disability.

enjoy-the-little-things-Pixabay(Alexas_Fotos)

Photo by Pixabay(Alexas_Fotos)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that you will get equal treatment under the law and that all the accessibility standards and requirements in both public and private places are regulated. However, it does not always work out that way in real life, especially when traveling abroad. More than one-third of people with disabilities reported they experience difficulties, inadequate facilities, prejudice, higher prices, and other associated problems while traveling.

If you’re looking for effective tips to make traveling easier and more enjoyable as a senior, don’t miss this quick list:

Save time and money planning online

For more efficient cost-comparison and travel planning, technology can be your best friend. Websites like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Hotwire can help you search for a great flight, hotel, and car rental deals as well as enlighten you about your destination. If you’re looking into potential vacation rentals, sites like Airbnb or HomeAway are your ticket. And use smartphone apps like Yelp and Zomato to check menus, pricing, and reviews of potential restaurants or other destinations on your itinerary.

Call a travel agent

If you have built up airline loyalty miles, are looking guided tour vacation opportunities, or simply prefer to coordinate travel plans with a real live person, give a travel agent a try. Travel agencies in the United States, Canada, and Europe offer niche services which can be tailored to your specific needs, i.e. if you have mobility problems. Since they deal with seniors regularly, they know all the potential travel pitfalls and hurdles you could encounter and how best to avoid them. Working with an experienced travel agent alone can make your travel more accessible and convenient.

Choose your flight wisely

Senior Travel Plane -Pixabay(bosmanerwin)

Photo by Pixabay(bosmanerwin)

If possible, try to choose a direct flight and avoid connecting flights. Getting off the plane, waiting during a layover at another airport, and boarding again is nothing but an added hassle. However, if you have a hard time using the tiny restrooms on a plane, a long flight can be uncomfortable. In that case, you may want to opt for a connecting flight, but make sure that there is ample time for you to get from one gate to the other.

Be a smart packer

As a senior, there are a handful of items you want to be smart about packing. Take medicine, for example – always take more medicine than you might need, sort and store it in a pill organizer if possible, pack it in your carry-on (not in your checked luggage which has the potential to get lost), and keep your refill prescriptions with you just in case.

For avoiding aches and pains when traveling you may also want to bring items that offer greater comfort, cushioning, and support on your journey. Always wear proper-fitting walking shoes with smooth bottoms and consider getting gel inserts for added comfort and support, especially if you have sensitive feet or are not used to staying on your feet a lot. It makes your travel a lot easier, even if you get caught up in unexpected delays, long lines, and other unwanted situations.

Travel neck pillows and padded seat cushions can also alleviate neck, back, and hip discomfort on long plane or car rides by helping you maintain good posture and better distributing your weight in your seat.

If you use a wheelchair to get around, consider packing accessories (like your pedals) in a bag in your carry-on and bringing a small wheelchair repair kit along (or going ahead and looking up local repair shops at your destination) just in case. Moreover, if you are planning on traveling internationally, make sure you know your rights as a person with a disability by going to the website of the local border agency.

Contact your hotel early

Contact your hotel or other lodgings at least 24 hours before your time of arrival, so they have enough time to make necessary arrangements if needed. If you use a mobility aid like a walker or a wheelchair, make sure to share those details and verify you will be staying in a handicap-accessible room (they have wider doorways, grab bars, walk-in showers, etc).

You may even want to go so far as to bring a doctor’s note with you with their phone number, as well as a travel statement and a list of any special needs written down on a piece of paper.

Taking even just a couple of these steps in your travel planning can save you time, money, and stress. Good luck, and have a great trip!

Author: Joe Fleming

Co-Founder, Vive Health

What is respite care?

Respite care is short-term care provided to a dependent, disabled, or elderly person with the purpose of giving the main caregiver a break from caregiving responsibilities. This is done while at the same time making sure your loved one is well cared for and able to follow his or her regular routine.

Respite care allows family caregivers to care for loved ones long-term, avoiding caregiver burnout. The care can be designed for a few hours, a day or for longer periods of time depending on what the caregiver needs and what type of care is needed and what services are available in your area.

What types of respite care are there?

There are several types of respite care available.

  • In-home care is provided by a licensed agency specializing in care for seniors or others needing special care. This may be for a short period of time or up to several days to a day, whatever the family caregiver might need in order to get a much-needed break or visit with family or friends. Respite care provided by an agency allows the caregiver peace of mind knowing their loved one is being cared for by someone who is trained to provide personal care, make nutritious meals, and handle challenging behaviors or situations that may come up.
  • Adult Day Care Centers provide licensed care during day-time hours, usually five days a week at a warm & welcoming facility. This is a great option for family caregivers who work during the day. Some caregivers choose to bring a loved one a few days a week on a regular basis.Adult day centers are a nice option in that they provide socialization, activities and nutritious meals. All adult day programs are NOT the same so it’s important to visit and ask questions when considering this type of respite option.
  • Specialized respite care facilities are places with staff trained for specific care, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, where a loved one may stay for several days or a couple of weeks when the caregiver needs to go out of town or has other obligations.
  • Emergency respite care offers help and care on an emergency basis. Usually, home care agencies or respite care facilities offer this type of care.
  • Informal respite care is provided by family members or neighbors and usually allow a limited but much-needed break for the primary caregiver to run errands, go to a doctor’s appointment or simply take some time off from caregiving.dsc01792

What are the benefits of respite care?

Caring for someone with special needs can be overwhelming at times. Family caregivers today have family, work, church and community obligations on top of providing care for their loved-one.

They want to provide the best care and attention to everyone in their circle of influence but this is unrealistic and overwhelming. It can lead to caregiver burnout.

Respite care allows the caregiver to step back and take time for themselves, to refresh and recharge their energy and focus. It actually helps caregivers become better caregivers and take care of their responsibilities longer.

Dementia Orem, UtahIf you are interested in learning more about respite care options call Aspen Senior Care at 801-224-5910. We can help you find options and help determine what type of respite might be right for you. We provide in-home respite care and we also run the Aspen Senior Day Center in Provo which is an adult day center that specializes in working with individuals with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

Visit our websites at www.aspenseniorcare.com and www.aspenseniorcenter.org to learn more about the services we provide and how we can help.

Most of us look forward to the holiday season with eager anticipation and remember past celebrations with fondness and happy memories.

However, high expectations we have for the upcoming holidays can set the scene for some stressful moments and big disappointments, especially if we are caring for a loved one with dementia.

Last week in our blog we talked about informing guests about changes in their loved one‘s behavior before they arrive. In this article we want to talk about adjusting our expectations so we can still enjoy the holiday season but be realistic about what we can and can’t do. These suggestions are from the Alzheimer’s Association.Planning ahead can help create happy Christmas moments.

Invite family members to a planning meeting

The responsibility of keeping up family traditions can be stressful enough but combining it with already overwhelming caregiving duties can create tremendous stress.

  • Ask family and friends to a face-to-face meeting to talk about plans for the holidays, or
  • Set up a telephone conference call if family live out of towm
  • Make sure you explain your caregiving situation.
    • This doesn’t necessarily mean people will understand but even if they don’t, that is their problem and not yours.
  • Have realistic expectations about what you can do.
  • Be honest about any limitations or needs, such as the importance of keeping a daily routine for your loved one.

Be good to yourself

  • Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. You may have invited 15 to 20 people over in the past, but think about having only a few people come at a time.
    • Smaller visits of two or three people at a time will help keep the person with Alzheimer’s and yourself from getting overtired.
  • Have everyone coming bring something so that you don’t have to cook.
  • Ask them to host Christmas festivities at their homes if they don’t offer.Dementia Care Utah

Be flexible

  • If evening confusion and agitation are a problem, consider changing a holiday dinner into a holiday lunch or brunch.
  • If you do keep the celebration at night, keep the room well-lit and try to avoid any known triggers.
  • Remember it’s alright not do the things you have “always” done in the past.
  • It is alright to decline invitations if you and your loved one don’t feel up to them.

With some planning and preparing, you and your loved one can create enjoyable moments this holiday season. To connect with other caregivers and get ideas on caregiving during the holidays ideas visit Alz-Connected.

At Aspen Senior Care we have caregivers trained in dementia care.  Our sister company, the Aspen Senior Center of Provo has a specially designed program for seniors with memory loss. We provide fun, engaging activities, music and lunch, plus peace of mind for families caring for loved ones with memory loss. Please visit the center or call us at (801) 607-2300 for more information. Visit our Aspen Senior Center Facebook page to see some of the fun activities they do!

The holidays are a joyous time for many, but for families dealing with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia the holidays can be very stressful and depressing.

The Alzheimer’s Association has some great suggestions to help family caregivers and their loved ones enjoy the holidays as well.

We’ll be focusing on a different idea each week throughout the next two months so make sure and check back often.

Explain the situation beforehand

This special time of year brings many emotions with it. It might be helpful to let extended family and other guests know what to expect before they arrive.

  1. If the person is in the early stages of dementia, changes in appearance and behavior may not be noticeable, but the person with dementia may have trouble following conversations or may repeat the same thing over and over.
    • Explaining the situation ahead of time and encouraging family and friends to be patient, respectful and allow the person time to finish his or her thoughts without interrupting or correcting will help him or her feel part of the group.
  2. A loved one in more advanced stages of dementia will have noticeable changes in behavior that may be difficult for loved ones who haven’t seen him or her for awhile to accept. It’s important to help family and friends understand that the behavior and memory changes are from the disease they have and not the person.Planning ahead can help create happy Christmas moments.

Write a letter  or send an email to family and friends

It might be easier to create an email to send out to family and friends explaining the changes that have occurred, what to expect and the most positive things family members can do to make their visit a pleasant one.  Some examples of letters:

  • “I’m writing to let you know how things are going at our house. While we’re looking forward to your visit, we thought it might be helpful if you understood our current situation before you arrive.”
  • “You may notice that ___ has changed since you last saw him/her. Among the changes, you may notice are ___.”
  • “Please understand that ___ may not remember who you are and may confuse you with someone else. Please don’t feel offended by this. He/she appreciates your being with us and so do I.” (www.alz.org)

For more ideas on helping extended family and friends understand the changes their loved one with dementia is experiencing visit Alz-Connectedcaregiving-through-the-holidays

At Aspen Senior Care we have caregivers trained in dementia care.  Our sister company,
the
 Aspen Senior Day Center of Provo has a specially designed program for seniors with memory loss. We provide fun, engaging activities, music, and lunch, plus peace of mind for families caring for loved ones with memory loss. Please visit the center or call us at (801) 607-2300 for more information. Visit our Aspen Senior Day Center Facebook page to see some of the fun activities they do!