When you hear about only-children who become only-child family caregivers, do you look at them with pity? No siblings to work together around Mom or Dad's care. No brother or sister to bounce ideas off of or commiserate. Fewer helping hands financially, physically and emotionally - and who's going to do the respite care?
Wouldn't it be incredible if you, the family caregiver, could help affect the cognitive and functional progression of dementia in someone you love? A new study from Utah State University, published in January in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, suggests it might be possible.
You won't always be a family caregiver. At some point, you may choose to ramp up your work hours, change jobs or careers or do meaningful volunteering. You might be able to take the skills you've gained from caregiving.
More influenza (aka flu) talk. If you are a family caregiver, you can reduce the chances that both you and your loved one will get the dreaded virus. It's about vigilance and, yes, luck. But regardless, tissues and hand sanitizer need to be your best friends.
I usually write about other people, but indulge me a minute. I have been a long-distance family caregiver for 12 years straight (father, mother, mother-in-law) and in the future, I will likely need and want a family caregiver myself.
What if something just doesn't feel right or your parents', relative or friend's finances aren't adding up? Could it be a professional caregiver, someone who has befriended them recently, or, perish the thought, even your own flesh and blood, who is cooking the books or sporting a cushy lifestyle at your expense? Could it be financial exploitation?
You know those New Year's Resolutions we make? To be kinder, break a bad habit, save money, stress less, travel more, lose weight, exercise, work harder? Is helping a family caregiver ever on your list?
"Sally Abrahms can take her crown off now!" Ouch. That was one response to my story that recently ran in the AARP Bulletin explaining common emotions ( guilt, grief, exhaustion) family caregivers have and strategies for dealing with them.
If Sherlock Holmes had been a long-distance family caregiver visiting his parents over Thanksgiving, he would have been a busy guy. He wouldn't have missed a great opportunity to assess how an older family member or friend was faring so he could make changes if needed. And neither should you.
If you're considering long-term care, expect to pay more for nursing homes, assisted living communities and homemakers/companions, MetLife Mature Market Institute's annual 2012 survey reveals. Good news: the study of average national long-term care costs shows they've stayed the same for adult day services and home health aides.
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