Tips for Traveling: A Caregiver’s Perspective

[This is the second installment of posts from Faith, AGE’s CaregiverU Coordinator and expert on being a family caregiver – you’ll continue hearing from her on a range of topics about once a month.]

Every work day I eat the very same breakfast—oatmeal, juice, soy milk, and green tea.  Is it because this is a favorite meal choice?  No, it’s because I’m not a morning person, so fixing the same breakfast every morning saves me from thinking.  I do it on auto pilot.  Similarly, an individual with a cognitive disability thrives on using auto pilot.  For them, the brain pathways don’t work as well as they formerly did, so thinking requires more effort.  Staying in a routine and doing things the same way every day requires less thinking.   Traveling shakes up the old routine, and takes away the familiarity, requiring more thinking effort, which increases the stress and anxiety that further impedes the thinking process.  Knowing all this, and experiencing all this, may make a caregiver decide to forgo travel—but not this traveler!  I choose to continue traveling with my dear husband because we have three adult children living in other cities, and spending time with them is very important.  To make travel easier on both of us, I’ve adopted new strategies and continue searching for more good ideas from other caregivers. Continue reading

Holiday Visits May Be the Time to Discuss Home Care

From the Right at Home website.

For most of us, winter holidays are wrapped up with family traditions. Mom’s top-secret turkey stuffing recipe and beautifully decorated table symbolize Thanksgiving. Heirloom ornaments adorn the Christmas tree. A menorah passed down through the generations is a special Chanukah symbol. Diwali lamps brought from India by elders help connect U.S.-born children with their heritage. And during Eid ul-Fitr, senior loved ones are honored during the feasting that marks the end of Ramadan.

No matter how far we have moved from home, most Americans want to spend the special winter holidays with loved ones. Busy airports overflow with travelers, and there is that special moment when we ring the doorbell to our childhood home and are greeted by the smell of baking cookies and hugs from parents and grandparents.

But for many families this year, holiday visits will include the realization that their senior loved one’s condition is changing. The house isn’t as spotless as Mom has always kept it. Maybe Dad—always so conscious of his personal grooming—looks as if he hasn’t shaved in a few days. Or perhaps the holiday dinner is several hours late because Grandma forgot to turn on the oven.

Read more at the Right at Home website.

Help Loved Ones with Hearing Loss During the Holidays

From Right at Home website.

The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is urging families across America to encourage loved ones with hearing loss to get their hearing checked and to have any hearing loss properly treated.
By visiting http://www.hearingcheck.org, family members can use a simple, interactive screening tool to check their hearing in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. Families can also check their hearing together during holiday gatherings as a way to offer support to loved ones.

“The holiday season is meant to be a time of thanks, celebration, and joy,” says Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute. “But for many people, it is a time of year when unaddressed hearing loss can cause them to feel particularly isolated and depressed. Even when surrounded by loved ones, a family member’s impaired ability to hear and actively participate in conversation cuts them off. Oftentimes, they are left with a sense of sadness, inadequacy, and emotional isolation. This is especially true when the hearing loss is either unrecognized or is being ‘hidden’ by the family member with hearing loss.”

Read more here