Being the main caregiver for a loved one, regardless of what illness he/she may have, is one of the most stressful and physically & emotionally tasking jobs anyone can have! Combine that with all the stress, work, excitement and heightened emotions of a busy holiday season and you could have challenging circumstances. Below are some tips to help you and your loved enjoy a less stressful holiday season this year!
Holiday Tips for Caregivers
- Be realistic – the holidays don’t have to be perfect! Adjust your expectations and trust your instincts on where to spend your energy and what traditions are really important to both of you. Remember that you can recognize, more than anyone, how much you and your loved one can handle.
- Plan ahead – schedule time for shopping, cooking, cleaning and other activities. Enlist help from other family members, friends and neighbors. You are not in this alone!
- Learn to say no – family, friends and coworkers will understand if you can’t participate in every event or social gathering. Pick and choose what you say yes to.
- Entertaining – If you’re usually the one hosting a large meal, consider having someone else host or share the work. If you do choose to host, prepare the main course and have everyone bring a side dish and/or dessert. Let your guests help with cleaning up after.
- Take a breather – make time for yourself, eat healthy and get enough rest. Take a little time to do something enjoyable whether it’s a movie, a massage, reading a book or taking a nap.
- Support – be aware that the holidays may evoke memories of better times, not just for your loved one but also for you. Talking with a close friend, a counselor or a caregiver support group can help with all the emotions that may bubble up.
- In addition to the tips above, to support the caregiver, here are a few things to consider when a loved one has a cognitive illness:
- If your loved one is uncomfortable in larger gatherings, consider attending on your own. Invite or hire someone to keep your loved one company while you’re gone and provide special activities and/or treats to share. Remember, you’re only a phone call away.
- When attending a gathering together, let your host/hostess know ahead about what is going on; whether it’s physical or cognitive limitations.
- Plan ahead; try to anticipate potential needs for a successful outing. Don’t rush getting ready to go as that can increase anxiety.
- In closing, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy this special time of year. Have a safe and happy holiday season!
A sudden personality change observed in a loved one can be caused by a variety of things; depression, pain, medications, and urinary tract infections (UTI) are a few of the most common causes. If your loved one has dementia, personality changes can also be one of the effects of the progression of the illness. In all instances, a sudden personality change can signal that something is happening and you should seek help from your loved one’s primary care physician as soon as possible.
The most common illness we encounter at Project Independence is a urinary tract infection (UTI). It can be difficult to recognize a UTI in someone with a dementia related illness due to the fact that they may be unable to communicate what is happening or how they’re feeling. One hint that something is going on is a change in normal behavior such as increased agitation, unsteadiness, anger, change in gait, paranoia or aggression. Other symptoms are: cloudy urine, a foul odor, fever, increased falls, more confusion and disorientation.
Risk of a UTI is higher in anyone with dementia, especially women
- Hygiene issues: People with dementia often use improper wiping techniques when using the bathroom, wiping back to front or not wiping at all. This increases the spread of bacteria.
- Incontinence: As dementia progresses, the ability to control bladder and bowel urges declines. Wearing adult incontinence pads/briefs can also add to the problem unless changed frequently.
- Reduced mobility: Decreased mobility due to advancing illness also increases the chance of UTI.
- Other conditions common in older adults can increase the possibility of an UTI: diabetes, prostate problems in men, weaker immune systems, etc.
- UTI’s are easily treatable; however the chance of a recurrence is high.
Tips to Reduce the Chances of UTI
- Encourage adequate fluids
- Assist the person with dementia in cleaning themselves after urinating or a bowel movement.
- Encourage clothing that can breathe
- Encourage the person to urinate more often
- Change incontinence briefs/pads more often
We hope this information is useful to you as you navigate the always changing environment of being a caregiver. If you’re looking for help/information on a particular topic, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll research it for a future edition.