1 in 3 adults in the US provide care to another adult as an “informal” Caregiver. In many cases, this Caregiver is also caring for other family members such as a spouse or children and juggling outside responsibilities such as a career. The outcome is often extreme levels of Caregiver stress that then manifests into burnout.
Signs of Caregiver Stress are:
Whether your loved one is living in a Senior Community, or just sheltering-in-place at home, it’s extremely difficult to stay in touch during this COVID era. The Senior population is at the highest risk for Coronavirus, but we’re also seeing that they have been the most negatively effected by the isolation that quarantine brings.
Staying in consistent contact with our loved ones is critical to helping them with their mental and even physical health. Here are some tips on ways to stay in touch during this time:
1. Set a Timer: I think we can all agree that days, and even weeks are a blur right now for everyone. But with that said, checking in regularly with a phone call or video chat boosts their spirits and also allows for you to get a more accurate pulse on their mental and physical status. Whether it be daily, weekly or bi-weekly, set a timer on your phone for a time of day that you are usually free and make a re-occurring reminder to check in!
2. Video Chat: Seeing our loved one is always more impactful than just hearing their voice. This is especially important for Seniors with cognitive decline or dementia. There are video chat options for even the most UN-tech savvy person. Here are some of our faves:
4. Window Visits: Many Senior Communities are creating unique window visiting areas where loved ones can sit and have a conversation or lunch. This also works if you go and visit a Senior at their home. Even if they sit on the porch or screened in lanai while you sit 6-10 feet away, the personalized visit means so much!
5. Care Packages: Putting a care package together allows you to be creative and create a special experience for your loved one. Include a favorite snack or two that remind them of a memory with you, a framed picture of you together, and maybe a fun activity like an adult coloring book or a favorite magazine to give them some variety.
We get asked all of the time, has COVID-19 affected our business? Has it slowed down? Are client's still moving into Assisted Living Communities?
We have to say, it’s a resounding NO to whether we’ve slowed down. If anything, we've been busier as families have started to realize that their loved one needs more care, and with the isolation of quarantine causing rapid deterioration for many Seniors.
Has our business been affected? YES. Almost immediately we had to pivot to change our process to serve the “new normal”. It’s always been important that we’re meeting clients “where they’re at”…but now we mean it literally. All of our meetings went virtual, and so have the community tours. Even though it’s taken some getting used to, we feel so good knowing that we’ve been able to serve our clients throughout this overwhelming time when they need it the most.
If you’re wondering what our typical process looks like during the COVID era, it usually follows these steps:
1. Meet with the family virtually, usually over Zoom or FaceTime, to gather information and get to know the client and family. (If not possible, we do a detailed phone call.) This call is much more than basic discovery about care needs and budget. We dig deep into their personality and dynamics of the situation and figure out what resources along with community options they may need.
2. After the discovery session, we brainstorm options and proactively call communities directly to discuss the client situation to confirm timing and care needs align. We narrow the list down to 3-4 communities that we feel are the best place to start exploring.
3. We have a follow up call/Zoom with the client to discuss feedback on the options and see which communities they have the most interest in.
4. Phone calls are scheduled between the communities and our client/Caregivers, including conducting virtual tours (via FaceTime or a previously taped video).
5. Once the client has decided on the best option, we figure out the updated community move-in protocol, including new COVID-19 steps. Usually this entails 1-2 negative COVID-19 tests, which at this point they are fairly easy to obtain.
6. To secure an apartment, a refundable deposit is made and move-in date is set to take financial responsibility and begin moving in furniture. We always help coordinate details through this stage and refer to vetted services like movers, transportation, Elder Care Lawyers, etc. to ease the transition.
If you have questions about how we may be able to help you or a loved one in this journey, be sure to reach out to us directly. No one should walk it alone!
Guest Author: Sue Vipond
As our world is beginning to open up and you are thinking about your relocation plans, you may often wonder what you can do to get ready to move and how to start the process. The following are some helpful tips from TLC Relocation Services (specializing in seniors) on how to Downsize and “De-stress”!
When Do I Start?
Start early! It’s never too early to begin the downsizing process. You don’t have to wait for a crisis… give yourself 6 months or longer as you have lots to do. You are in the perfect situation because you have the time to get a jumpstart.
Where Do I Start?
Begin by concentrating on typical problem areas, such as the garage, closets, and file cabinets. “Once begun, half done” you will feel like you have accomplished something, then choose and focus on one room at a time.
How Do I Prepare to Sort and Declutter?
Collect an assortment of boxes in different sizes and separate and label them by category. Designate different areas of the room you are sorting and divide the boxes according to the items that you are keeping, passing on, donating, selling, throwing away and recycling. This alleviates confusion as to what your plans are for each piece, and speeds up the process as you can identify what goes where and put it in the appropriate container.
How Do I Determine What to Keep or Get Rid Of?
Ask yourself “What do I need if I am downsizing? Will I be entertaining? Do I have enough space for my books, personal collections, and photo albums? Do I have room to bring my linens, towels, winter items? If I can’t decide now, will it be costly to move it and get rid of it on the other side? Have I worn or used this in the last couple of years?”…if the answer is “No” then you probably don’t need it.
Ask yourself “Why am I keeping this? Do I love it or is it just a fond reminder of someone or something?” Consider hiring a personal historian to write the story behind your treasures and bind them in a book so that you can relive the memories without the actual keepsake.
Consider family members, friends, neighbors, favorite organizations, affiliations and then do an inventory of what you want to give to each of them. Put the names of who is getting what on the appropriate boxes. Remember that your kids probably don’t want much but your grandchildren might!
What Do I do with My Valuables?
There are various ways that you can monetize your move by selling or consigning your collections, but don’t expect to get what you paid for them. Times have changed and the next generation doesn’t seem interested in china, silver, flatware, crystal or linens.
Promotion via estate sales (check to see if allowed in your community) and auction houses (typically for specific high-end items) have become increasingly popular. Used furniture sales and buy-out companies will give you pennies on the dollar and will arrange to pick things up. And if you go the consignment shop route, make sure that you do it in season when there are more buyers in town.
What else will I need?
Lots of boxes, in all sizes, (don’t use liquor store boxes), packing paper (no newspaper), bubble wrap for fragile pieces. Mark shipping labels (use a Sharpie) with room contents and indicate “top load” or “fragile” as necessary.
Ask yourself if this is a job that you can do yourself? Are there family members or friends that you can engage in the process? Moving is not easy, is physically taxing and time consuming. You don’t need to do it alone.
Consider hiring a move expert or relocation specialist like TLC Senior Move Experts to facilitate with all the pieces involved in orchestrating your move. They can help you with developing an overall move plan; sorting and downsizing; packing, unpacking, and setting up your new home; interviewing, scheduling and overseeing both local and long-distance moves; arranging for shipments and storage; coordinating with estate sale, consignment, auction, buy out, donation and final clean-out sources. They can also supply all the necessary packing materials so that you do not have to purchase your own.
Allow for 3-6 months from start to finish and don’t get overwhelmed. This can be an exciting adventure if you take it in pieces and know where to begin.
About the Author: Sue Vipond of TLC Senior Move Experts helps clients from start-to-finish through the downsizing and moving process. TLC specializes in helping Seniors through the transition to their new home or apartment. For more info, reach out directly:
www.tlcseniormoveexperts.com ; (941)554-4746
With many of the Shelter-At-Home orders being lifted and people increasing their time outside the house and comingling with others, its so important that we are ALL proactively boosting our immunity right now. After 2-3 months of isolation, it is the body’s natural response to weaken the immune system because it hasn’t come in contact with any outside bacteria or viruses. Seniors and their Caregivers especially, need to be taking measures daily to strengthening their immunity so that they don’t become sick as they start getting back to some normalcy.
Here are 10 easy ways to boost your immune system naturally:
1. Vitamin D: It’s proven that Vitamin D is necessary for the proper functioning of our immune system and has a critical role in our body’s response to infection. Studies show, however, that over 42% of Americans are deficient and that can handcuff our immune system. To boost your Vitamin D levels, you can take a daily supplement or increase your intake of foods like fatty fish like salmon, egg yolks and mushrooms. Or, follow Tip #2!
2. Get More Sun: When your skin is exposed to sunlight it makes Vitamin D from cholesterol. Sitting in the sun for 15 minutes a day can make a big difference in improving your Vitamin D levels, plus its proven that being outside boosts your mood!
3. Zinc: This mineral is needed for immune cell development and plays important role in our body’s inflammatory response. There are many cases showing positive responses in reducing the duration of COVID, other respiratory tract infections and even the common cold.
4. Vitamin C: This is one of the most common immunity boosters, and for good reason! It’s important for many reasons, including the clearing out old/dead cells to make room for new/healthy ones. You can get Vitamin C by taking a daily supplement or consuming foods like bell peppers, oranges or broccoli often.
5. Laugh: Studies show that laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection fighting antibodies. Call an old friend or put on a funny movie and laugh it out!
6. Probiotics: Everyday we are learning that our immune system is directly affected by our gut health. Taking a daily probiotic promotes production of natural antibodies and positive gut bacteria. You can take a daily probiotic or have a daily serving of foods like yogurt or sauerkraut.
7. Antioxidants: Daily consumption of antioxidant rich foods is proven to boost immunity by destroying free radicals and protecting the integrity of cells and tissues in the body. The best way to get your daily intake of antioxidants is to eat the rainbow: berries, green leafy greens, beans, beets and even dark chocolate!
8. Play In The Dirt: As crazy as it sounds, studies show that the bacteria found in dirt and sand are stronger strains that can survive the digestive track and get to where they need to go to improve gut health and, in turn, improve immunity. Plant a garden, walk around your yard without shoes or take a stroll along the beach!
9. Essential Oils: These have been used for thousands of years to improve wellness, and we can speak from our own experience that they can have an incredible effect on boosting immunity if used proactively. Try diffusing Cinnamon, Lemon or Eucalyptus oil daily. Remember: quality matters!
10. Exercise: Just 15-30 minutes of light exercise such as walking is known to have great effects on our immune system. It causes an increase in antibodies and white blood cells which are critical to fighting disease.
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Elli is the President of Sunways and loves spending time outside with her family, and is passionate about cooking and holistic health.