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Your Tools

Tools, tricks and techniques to make your caregiving days easier.

Ensuring You Hire Quality Care


For the most part, you feel like you’re managing your caree’s care needs fairly well. Over time, you’ve created a routine that works for both of you. You also both understand your caree’s care needs, which means providing them has become easier. It’s just the constant feeling of being on call that wears you out. If I could just have Saturday afternoons to myself, you think, I would feel better. You begin to search for ... Read More »

Help to Find Quality Care


When you entrust your caree into the care of another, you wish for good care. So, when you begin the search for quality care, whether in the home or in the nursing home, you may wonder where to start. Begin with free tools available from and Home Health Compare, available at, helps you when you’re considering hiring in-home help through a Medicare-certified home care agency. A Medicare-certified agency will have nurses, physical ... Read More »

Preventing Delirium in Your Hospitalized Caree


Chances are, during one of your caree’s hospitalizations, you noticed that your caree experienced a significant level of confusion. The sudden change in your caree’s mental status during a hospitalization can be startling, upsetting and scary. Unfortunately, the sudden confusion, known as delirium, among the hospitalized elderly is an awful side effect of an inpatient stay. Your caree is hospitalized for one reason but, because of the hospitalization, becomes worse. On Friday, The New York ... Read More »

A Tool to Measure Pain in Persons with Dementia


I attended a workshop this morning called “Challenging Behaviors and Creative Responses” led by Dan Kuhn, LCSW and author of Alzheimer’s Early Stages: First Steps for Family, Friends and Caregivers. I learned a few tips, which I’ll share over the next few days. Today, I wanted to share a tool clinicians use to measure pain in persons with dementia who, as the disease progresses, often cannot share the cause and severity of their pain. The ... Read More »

Stay Home: Resources to Get a Break Right Where You Are


Some days, it feels great to get out of the house. It’s wonderful to hop in the car,  drive away, and leave it all behind. And, then there are some days when staying at home to take a break is just what the doctor ordered. You don’t have to shower, change out of pajamas, or even brush your teeth. You can enjoy a break at home, even with your caree at home. Products made specifically ... Read More »

NFCA Offers Teleclass: How to Prevent Medication Mishaps


Each year, 100,000 people die because of adverse drug reactions. To educate family caregivers on how to prevent such errors, National Family Caregivers Association will offer a free educational teleclass/webinar for family caregivers, “Safe & Sound: How to Prevent Medication Mishaps.” The one-hour teleclass/webinar will take place November 12th at 2 p.m. ET. To register, visit here or call 1-800-896-3650. Read More »

Remember Your Future


Last night, I attended a seminar given by Alan Seale; Alan taught us his take on how to manifest our goals and dreams. One tip he suggested was to “Remember the future.” Sounds like a oxymoron, doesn’t it? How can we have a memory of an event that has yet to occur? The more I gave thought to this, the more I thought: What a cool idea. When you remember the future, you focus on ... Read More »

Freeze Care Recipient’s Credit Report To Prevent Fraud


Identity theft can happen to any of us. But, if it happens to a care recipient, the repercussions can impact the ability to pay for future care needs. You can put a freeze credit reports of persons over 65 years of age for free. (You can freeze yours, too, but you typically pay fee if you are under 65.) Freezing a care recipient’s credit report means that new credit can’t be opened in his or ... Read More »

Booklet Helps Ease the Stress of Hospitalization for People with Memory Loss


A trip to the hospital for a person with memory loss or dementia can be stressful for both the person and the accompanying caregiver. To help family and friends of individuals with memory loss prepare for and deal with hospitalization, the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center of the National Institute on Aging is distributing the newly updated “Hospitalization Happens: A Guide to Hospital Visits for Individuals with Memory Loss.” This 18-page booklet provides ... Read More »

Two Lists & Two Journals


A family caregiver in a support group once shared what she considered to be a shameful secret. A friend gives her regular breaks, for which she is immensely grateful. The problem? She has no idea what to do with her extra time. Oh, boy, is that common! Your day is so full of action and worries that downtime can seem to doom you. No worries—we’ve got a great suggestion. Create two lists, Job Jar and ... Read More »

A Smile and a Dinner


Worried about your care recipient while you’re at work? Or, do you provide care from a distance, which makes it hard to really know how your care recipient is doing? Meals on Wheels may be the program to help! In 1990, I decided to make a career change—and landed into a job managing a congregate nutrition site for older adults in Lambertville, N.J. In addition to providing a hot lunch-time meal to local seniors, we ... Read More »

Change Your Perspective And You Just Might Change Your Reality


A hard lesson to learn is that we can’t change anyone. We can only change ourselves. Wondering why your spouse says what he/she does? Why your care recipient acts the way he/she does? Exhausted from trying to change them? A hard lesson to learn is that we can’t change anyone. We can only change ourselves. And, interestingly enough, when we change, we also change our relationships. The next time you want to strangle your spouse ... Read More »

A Caregiver’s Bill of Rights


By Jo Horne I have the right: To take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capability of taking better care of my loved one. To seek help from others even though my loved ones may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength. To maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would ... Read More »

Be Prepared: Create Your Contingency Plan Before You Need It


Keeping Caregiving Safe What if I’m sick? Who will take care of my care recipient? What if I need to help my daughter and her new baby? Who will take care of my care recipient? What if I need to go back to work? Who will take care of my care recipient? The start of a New Year is a great time to create your contingency plan, which has the answers to “What if?” questions. ... Read More »

Nursing Home Placement: How Do You Know?


It’s the question most family caregivers will ask at some point: Do I just need a break? Or, is it time for a permanent change (placement in assisted living or nursing home). Before making a decision regarding permanent change, explore all your options: 1. Are you using all sources of help that are available, within the family and within the community? To be sure, call your local Area Agency on Aging, local chapter of the ... Read More »

We Need to Talk…


The Hartford Financial Services Group and the MIT AgeLab created a guide to help families worried about an aging parent’s ability to drive safely. The guide, We Need to Talk:  Family Conversations with Older Drivers, is based on a study of older drivers’ attitudes and driving habits. It offers families practical information to help them advise their loved ones on whether it is time to limit or even give up driving. The 24-page guide is ... Read More »

Walking Back in Time


As your care recipient’s memory moves back in time, you can join him or her in the journey. Use the Internet to research important times in your care recipient’s life; learn what was happening on a world-wide scale, on a national scale and on a local scale, in your care recipient’s home town. When your care recipient begins to speak about certain events or episodes, you’ll have the historical perspective needed to truly appreciate the ... Read More »

Your Story!


As a family caregiver, you have a story to tell. Your story about your caregiving experience involves intrigue (will the doctor ever return your call?), mystery (when will your care recipient take her next bath? next week? next month? next…?), a love triangle (you, your husband and your care recipient)–all great ingredients for a great story! And, when you tell your story, you name your emotions in your experience—-the anger, frustration, sadness, fear. And, when ... Read More »

Keeping Caregiving Safe


A few years ago, family caregivers in our support groups began addressing the “What if?” question: What if I’m sick? Who will take care of my care recipient? What if I need to help my daughter and her new baby? Who will take care of my care recipient? What if I need to go back to work? Who will take care of my care recipient? Now is a best time to create your contingency plan, ... Read More »

Document the Routine


You know the routine like the back of your hand (or maybe the inside of washing machine), but if you need help in an emergency, would your replacement know? Take time to document your caregiving routine. Consider: –The timing of care (ie.., baths, medications, treatments, personal care) –Your care recipient’s preferences (timing of meals, baths, snacks, naps, likes/dislikes) –Your proven tips and hints (i.e., what works when your care recipient is irritable, bored, tired) –Your ... Read More »

Help for Caregiving Spouses


The expense of nursing home care, which ranges from $4,000 to $6,000 a month or more, can rapidly deplete the lifetime savings of elderly couples. In 1988, Congress enacted provisions to prevent what has come to be called “spousal impoverishment,” which can leave the spouse who is still living at home in the community with little or no income or resources. These provisions help ensure that this situation will not occur and that community spouses ... Read More »

Help! I’m Toast!


You’re burnt–there’s no other way to say it. Unfortunately, others count on you, so your bad day has to have an end point–and soon. Recovering from the down days of caregiving can be tough. You need a First Aid kit, complete with BandAids and soothing words. To help you create your First Aid kit, complete the following exercises. You’ll have the BandAids and soothing words to help you bounce back the next time you feel ... Read More »