Northern VA Eldercare Answers
Helpful tips for family caregivers
Welcome to the very first issue of our family e-newsletter. Every month we’ll bring you tips on providing care for a loved one, as well as news about local events. Articles will include subjects like:
- Tax tips for family caregivers
- Summer safety precautions for seniors
- Coping with the holiday blues
- Is your relative up-to-date on immunizations?
Subscribe and you will receive an email once a month when the new issue comes out. Our goal is to support you in the important work that you do.
And by all means, forward this newsletter on to any of your friends who might be interested. The more the merrier!
Here’s to a happy and fulfilling 2009!
- Costs of caregiving: Sources of help
- Overcoming resistance to exercise
- The new year: A season of hope
Costs of caregiving: Sources of help
Feel like there’s a hole in your pocket? You’re not alone.
According to a national survey, the average caregiving family contributes a staggering 10% of its household income for out-of-pocket expenses. And that was before the economy took a nosedive.
In tough times, the costs of food and medicine hit especially hard. Here are some resources for help.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance
Toll-free at 1-888-477-2669
This organization is a coalition of pharmaceutical companies, physicians, and community advocacy groups. It helps individuals who do not have prescription coverage to get assistance in purchasing needed medications. By answering questions on the website, you can find out if you are eligible to receive help from any of 475 public and private prescription assistance programs.
Medicare Prescription Plans
Toll-free at 1-800-677-1116
Get help selecting the prescription drug insurance that is best for you. This website links you to the local organization that can provide you personalized help while selecting a Medicare drug plan.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Sponsored by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, this website will help you find a local resource for food stamps. See the sidebar for a summary about eligibility and about the food stamp process.
Toll-free at 1-800-771-2303
This nationwide hunger relief network helps people get inexpensive, nutritious food. Use their online Food Bank Locator to find emergency food assistance programs in your area.
Overcoming resistance to exercise
It’s January. Perhaps you are one of the many who resolved to get more exercise. But how to find the time?
Consider exercising with your older relative. When you exercise with a “buddy,” you’re more likely to follow through. Plus, it will do both of you a world of good.
Training for a marathon is not realistic. But simple muscle-toning activities, what is called “resistance exercises,” are.
- You can do them at home.
- You don’t need expensive equipment. Lifting a couple of cans of corn works as well as using a set of dumbbells.
- You can start slow and build gradually.
- You feel the benefits very quickly, not only physically, but also mentally.
Seniors who engage in muscle-toning exercise are not only better able to heft groceries and climb stairs, they also report less depression, greater self-confidence, and increased self-esteem.
“You don’t know my mom,” you may be thinking. “She’d never go for it.”
Here are some responses if you’re getting a lot of “resistance” to resistance exercise:
- It’s never too late. Strengthening exercises are recommended even for people in their 80s and 90s.
- The risk of injury is minimal. The activity is slow, and you can start easy.
- You will feel more energetic. Many people complain they are too tired to exercise. Muscle-toning activities do not require a lot of exertion, yet they increase metabolism, which combats fatigue.
- Not exercising is more dangerous than exercising! Because having stronger muscles helps prevent falls, you are more likely to get hurt being out of shape.
- You don’t have to develop bulging muscles. Many older women worry they will become muscular and unfeminine. These muscle-toning exercises promote function, not bulk.
If your loved one has health problems, consult with the doctor before beginning.
For simple instructions, safety tips, videos, and photos on strength exercises for seniors, check out these resources:
The National Institute on Aging
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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The new year: A season of hope
The new year is traditionally a time of renewal and hope for the future. Instead, is the person you care for looking a little low spirited or seeming discouraged about health issues? We all need hope, even in difficult circumstances. Perhaps the insights of the terminally ill—people one might expect to feel hopeless indeed—can shed light on ways to help your loved one find purpose and meaning this year.
People in the last few months of life frequently remark that they have shifted their attention from an emphasis on a long-term future to finding joy and hope in the simplest of daily pleasures: a child’s laughter, a bird’s song, a visit from a friend. As one man put it, “I no longer worry about the number of days in my life. Instead I focus on the life in my days.”
Here are ideas to help you inject hope into daily life:
- Hope is a frame of mind. It’s about focusing on what is feasible and accepting what is not.
- Hope is about today—not the long-term future.
- Hope is sustained by the many things that are achievable. For instance, even in the face of illness or disability, you can repair broken relationships by saying, “I’m sorry,” or “I forgive you,” or “thank you.” Hope can be separate from cure.
- Hope is about choice, about choosing to pursue the activities that give meaning to your life.
As you bring in the new year, consider the perspective of helping your loved one find spark in his or her days. Focus on what can still be done instead of on the losses.Return to top