National Family Caregivers Month acknowledges the contributions of more than 90 million family caregivers in America who are caring for their aging parents, loved ones with a chronic condition, disease or managing a disability. Join us in recognizing this invisible army of family caregivers. Caregiver Action Network is the organization that chooses the theme for National Family Caregivers Month annually and spearheads celebration of NFC Month nationally. Each year, Caregiver Action Network makes materials available for general use, including the theme, a media kit, posters, sample proclamations, etc. This year’s theme is “Supercharge Your Caregiving”
A message from Christopher MacLellan (The Bow Tie Guy), Founder of the Whole Care Network, Inc.
I Survived Caregiving; You Can Too!
November is National Family Caregivers Month and my wish for every family caregiver is that you learn early on in your caregiving journey that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. Asking for help is also a key component of your self-care.
I make no bones about it, caregiving was hard.
No one plans on being a caregiver, that’s because caregiving just happens. It’s an untimely diagnosis or an unfortunate accident and suddenly, two lives or more are forever changed. Assisting with everyday task like bathing and clothing will take relationships to new levels.
Caregiving is an intense experience that will often ask you to give up things you love in order to care for the one you love. Caregiving is indiscriminate. There is no gender, economic, cultural or orientation boundaries; caregiving is in every board room and in every neighborhood. Caregiving impacts each one of us.
And the stark reality is this; there is a beginning and an end, and in most cases, we are not prepared for these lift changing events.
When caregiving ends, what are we left to do? Immersed in the care for someone else, I had to learn how to become a caregiver to myself. Easier said than done.
I truly believe there is no greater honor bestowed on us than to be entrusted with the care of another human being. Along the journey, we forget that self-care is the most important job for every caregiver.
I’ve come to learn the importance of self-care after our caregiving experienced ended. I am the poster child for want not to do after caregiving ends. Poor emotional, physical, spiritual and financial decisions compounded with complicated grief.
Caregiving is going to be different for each one of us. Yet the one thing that binds all caregivers together is story sharing. It is through story sharing where diversity meets the road to combat a common cause; our common cause is caregiving. When caregivers connect through stories, realize we are not alone and learn there is tremendous amount of support and trusted information available to us.
The most important person helped by sharing one’s caregiving story, is the caregiver!
I survived caregiving because of the real-life stories caregivers shared with me. And that is precisely why I am comfortable in sharing my caregiving story with you. Sharing my story helped me heal and allowed me to learn how to take better care of myself after caregiving ended for me.
Just as caregiving is different for everyone, finding your comfort zone in sharing your story and asking for help will be different too. But don’t despair, when you share your story with a trusted friend and colleague, you will immediately know that you are not alone.
I make no bones about it, caregiving was hard; but I would do it again in an instant if Richard was still alive today. The only thing I would do differently, is take better care of myself, just as Richard asked me to do while in the midst of caregiving.
For more info and resources:
Visit the Whole Care Network
At The Whole Care Network, we believe it is through story sharing where diversity meets the road which allows a community to impact a common cause. The Whole Care Network is a robust collection of individuals who have personal stories to share. As a byproduct of this sharing, we tap into the breadth of valuable perspectives from a diverse group of show host and guests. They share their experiences and offer further support and guidance. The goal of The Whole Care Network is to create a collective impact on issues facing family caregivers in all parts of the country and around the world. When we create a collective impact on a social issue, we collectively take ownership of the issue which makes our families, our communities, and our businesses stronger for ourselves and for future generations.
Visit the Caregiver Action Network
Caregiver Action Network (CAN) is the nation’s leading family caregiver organization working to improve the quality of life for the more than 90 million Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age. CAN serves a broad spectrum of family caregivers ranging from the parents of children with special needs, to the families and friends of wounded soldiers; from a young couple dealing with a diagnosis of MS, to adult children caring for parents with Alzheimer’s disease. CAN (the National Family Caregivers Association) is a non-profit organization providing education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers across the country free of charge.
Each September since 2015, the Ohio Department of Aging, through its STEADY U Ohio falls prevention initiative, has called on Ohio’s communities to raise awareness of the epidemic of older adult falls by helping to take “10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls.” One in three older adults will fall this year and falls are the leading cause of injury-related ER visits, hospitalizations and deaths among Ohioans age 60 and older. This year, community partners hosted 106 events and groups around the state and 16,034 individuals logged 31,273 miles, or 78.2 million steps, for the cause.
More than 16,000 Ohioans walked 31,000 miles to raise awareness of older adult falls
“It has been exciting to watch this campaign grow throughout the years, but this year exceeded even our best expectations as record numbers of communities and organizations embraced the cause of preventing older adult falls in some exciting ways,” said Beverley Laubert, director of the Ohio Department of Aging, which operates the STEADY U Ohio initiative. “Nearly twice as many groups accepted the challenge, and we were able to reach more than three times as many Ohioans with the message that falls are not a normal part of aging, and that most falls can be prevented. We are truly grateful to every Ohioan who participated.”
While older adults make up about 16 percent of our population, they account for more than 85 percent of fatal falls. An elder is injured in a fall every five minutes on average, and two older Ohioans are hospitalized each hour. Sadly, three older Ohioans will die today because of a fall-related injury. Medical costs alone for falls in Ohio total $1.1 billion. Work loss and other expenses add another $800,000 to that bill. That breaks down to $5.2 million each day.
Regular physical activity is one of the most basic things older adults can do to prevent falls, which is why walking is the focus of this annual event. Throughout September, in observation of National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, the STEADY U Ohio initiative (www.steadyu.ohio.gov) encouraged local organizations, business and groups to organize local walking events. Events and groups ranged in size from two people to more than 3,500. Some focused on the fitness walk, while others added health fairs, presentations and more.
This year’s “10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls” partners included area agencies on aging, senior housing providers and residents, hospital systems, local health departments, senior centers, state agencies, local school districts, businesses and more. Settings included parks, downtown streets, farmers’ markets, business parking lots and more, even the Toledo Zoo. Participants were provided information about falls prevention and encouraged to visit the STEADY U Ohio website for prevention tips and resources, including a falls risk self-assessment and information about “A Matter of Balance,” an evidence-based falls intervention available around the state.
“The first step was to bring people together and jumpstart the conversation in our communities. Now, it’s time to build on that success by promoting proven strategies to prevent falls in our homes, our businesses and our communities, all year long,” Laubert added.
Decreased muscle mass, vision and hearing decline, medical conditions and joint pain are some of the age-related changes that can increase falls risks. However, minor changes to the three H’s – home, health and habits – can offset these risk factors:
- Home: Remove or secure throw rugs; improve lighting especially near stairs; install grab bars in the bathroom; rearrange the home to make frequently used items easier to reach.
- Health: Ask your doctor about a falls risk assessment and talk about medicines you take and whether they increase your risk for falls; have your hearing and vision checked annually.
- Habits: Stay active to build muscle strength and improve balance; slow down and think through tasks; stay hydrated and eat a well-balanced diet that includes calcium-rich foods; enroll in a community-based falls prevention program, such as “A Matter of Balance.”
Walking Tips for Older Adults
- Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes.
- Walk as quickly as you can but still hold a conversation without losing your breath.
- Use a cane or walker for extra stability, if needed.
- Walk with a group for added encouragement.
- Talk to your doctor if you have pain, dizziness or other problems while walking.
About STEADY U Ohio –STEADY U Ohio is a comprehensive falls prevention initiative led by Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Aging, and supported by Ohio government and state business partners to strengthen existing falls prevention activities, identify opportunities for new initiatives and coordinate a statewide educational campaign to bring falls prevention to the forefront of planning for individuals, families, health care providers, business and community leaders and all Ohioans. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov.
On September 28, National Good Neighbor Day is celebrated. Mrs. Becky Mattson from Lakeside, Montana came up with the idea of a national holiday recognizing the importance of good neighbors in 1971. In 1978, U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced the creation of a national day aimed at raising public awareness that good neighbors help achieve human understanding and build strong, thriving communities. Since then, National Good Neighbor Day has been acknowledged by various levels of government and is celebrated every year. The holiday was originally celebrated on the fourth Sunday in September, but in 2003 its date was changed to September 28.
It is a blessing to have a good neighbor, but it is even a greater thing to BE a good neighbor. Good neighbors often become friends. They watch out for each other, lend a helping hand and are there for advice when asked. Neighbors offer that cup of sugar when we are short, collect our mail when we are on vacation, watch our homes and sometimes watch our children and our pets. Simply put, being a good neighbor makes good neighbors and develops lifelong friendships.
National Good Neighbor Day is the perfect occasion to honor the people who make significant contributions to creating safer neighborhoods and stronger communities across the United States.
Ways to Celebrate
- Knock on an older neighbor’s door and just say HELLO!
- If you haven’t introduced yourself to neighbors today is your chance.
- Bake some goodies and share them with your neighbors.
- Invite your neighbors to your home for a meal or BBQ.
- Perform random act of kindness for your neighbors.
- Ask a neighbor to join you on a walk around the neighborhood.
- Help an older neighbor with a chore or a ride to an appointment
Maybe your neighbor could use some help with their lawn, or getting their home ready for fall weather. Offer to lend a helping hand by mowing their lawn, raking their leaves, or pitching in with any other kind of clean up they need.
Maybe get the whole neighborhood together for a block party, a barbecue, or a game night. This gives your neighbors a chance to share stories, laughs, and fun, while taking a break from everyday life. If it works well, it could become a regular tradition in the neighborhood!
Good Neighbor Day is an opportunity for all of us to come together and celebrate our neighbors and joys that accompany a sense of community. This year, AARP Foundation invites you to join in the celebration! Share your Good Neighbor Day moment on social media with #GoodNeighborDay2018
September is Go4Life Month — a chance to highlight the importance of regular exercise for healthy aging and to encourage older adults to become more physically active.
This year’s Go4Life Month theme is Get Ready! Get Moving! Go4Life!
The goal is to encourage older adults to (1) prepare to be more active, (2) get moving with all 4 types of exercise, (3) stay on track with exercise and (4) make regular exercise a habit. During September, each week will be devoted to the following:
- Week One: Get ready with Go4Life!
- Week Two: Get moving! Do all 4 types of exercise.
- Week Three: Stay on track to Go4Life!
- Week Four: Go4Life throughout the year!
Follow Go4Life on @NIAGo4Life on Twitter and like Go4Life at NIH Aging on Facebook for more daily messages about physical activity and healthy aging.
Join the Facebook Live Event on September 13 at 2:00 EST
One way to celebrate Go4Life Month is to tune in to the Facebook Live fitness demonstration direct from the NIH campus on Sept. 13 at 2:00 pm EST. The event will showcase the benefits of all 4 types of physical activities recommended for older adults: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.
Get tips from a fitness trainer on how to do the exercises safely and make them more challenging. Hear first-hand accounts from older adults about the many ways these exercises can make a real difference in everyday life as we age. You won’t want to miss this chance get an up close and personal look at Go4Life in action!
To join the event, visit www.facebook.com/NIHaging on Sept. 13 at 2:00 pm EST.
Move More with the New Go4Life Website!
Want to inspire older adults to move more? Send them to our updated Go4Life website, designed to help adults 50+ become more physically active right where they are! They’ll find workout videos, exercises to try, tools to help them stay on track, free exercise resources to order or download, and feature articles on the basics and benefits of regular exercise and physical activity.
What you eat has a great effect on how you live your daily life. Those who consume fatty foods and refined sugars are more likely to suffer memory issues and lethargy, while a highly nutritious diet helps keep us sharp, focused, and lively. Because your brain requires a nutritious diet to encourage healthy brain functions, it’s important for seniors to put a little bit of thought into what they consume, even when in a hurry. To help get started, here are 10 easily available foods you can add to your diet today to improve brain power.
Is there anything better than fresh fruit? How about fresh fruit that also protects the brain from oxidative stress with antioxidants and can help improve memory–like blueberries? This fruit combats oxidative stress caused by too many free radicles in the brain. Oxidative stress has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease meaning adding blueberries to your regular diet habits can help aging brains stay focused. Blueberries’ antioxidive power balance the brain, not to mention they make a good topping for breakfast cereal, oatmeal, and yogurt.
Salmon and other fatty fish like trout and mackerel contain Omega-3 fatty acids which promote bone and joint health as well as healthy brain functions. Also, scientists believe omega-3 fatty acids help protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Pecan pie, almond joy, and peanut butter all demonstrate the versatility and deliciousness of nuts. However, these little snacks also do wonders for brains with loads of vitamin E to help fight cognitive decline, along with providing antioxidants and healthy fats. Any kind of nut will do the trick, but if you’re watching your sodium intake, don’t forget to check if they have been salted for flavor.
Oatmeal makes for a filling breakfast with many types and flavors. Like breads and brown rice, oatmeal is a whole grain. Whole grains actually help reduce heart disease risks and because of the brain’s dependency for good blood flow, by helping your heart you’re also helping your brain.
- Leafy Greens
Dark, leafy green vegetables each have their own blend of nutrients and good-for-the-body benefits. But all of these are rich in magnesium. This is an overlooked nutrient that most of the world is deficient in. These greens will help lift you out of brain fog and promote many other healthy bodily processes.
Avocados are one of the trendiest foods right now, but they serve many more benefits besides helping you keep up with the Joneses. This fruit is packed with healthy-fats (much like salmon) but it’s also rich in folate, which can help maintain cognitive function.
Vitamin C is well-known, but what may not be well-known is how vital it is to mental functions. Oranges famously contain Vitamin C but they also have antioxidants, like blueberries. Vitamin C is essential for brain cell health. Oranges, while delicious, are not the only place to get this vitamin and is also found in broccoli, pineapple, and kale.
Asparagus’ natural supply of folate and B12 can help prevent cognitive issues and promote response time. When paired with other brain-boosting foods like salmon as a side-dish, this vegetable is unbeatable in terms of flavor and benefits.
Mint reminds some of candy canes and a fresh-kick to any hot chocolate recipe, but natural mint is beneficial to health and still delicious. Mint-leaf tea, or even just the smell of the herb, can boost brain functions like problem solving and attention span length.
- Dark Chocolate
Sweet treats, like chocolate, can still be healthful. Milk and white chocolate may be loaded down with sugar and other non-nutritious ingredients, but natural dark chocolate provides many benefits to the body and the brain. Antioxidants and magnesium are just some of the components to dark chocolate that improve blood-flow and mental functions. But, watch out for tricky packaging that makes you think you’re getting nutritious dark chocolate, when really it’s also packed with sugar.
These foods are jam-packed with nutrients that support healthy brain functions. However, it’s important to remember that diet is a very personal topic. Be sure to consult your doctor or nutritionist before making significant changes to your diet. But, making the choice to eat brain-boosting foods is a great way to stay on top of the aging process and slow or even prevent a dementia diagnosis. If you’d like to learn more about dementia, consider reading our helpful guide, Causes of a Dementia Diagnosis and the Early Warning Signs You Should Know.
Life Settlement Advisors
Fritzi Gros-Daillon, Chief Advocacy Officer for Age Safe® America had the pleasure to be one of the speakers at this years California Association for Health Services at Home Conference. Fritzi had an opportunity to meet many other passionate and dedicated professionals as well as several engaging speakers and thought leaders throughout the industry. She also had a chance to meet a regional representative of one of our national partners, Connect America®.
“Tough Love for Baby Boomers” was the topic for Fritzi’s speech at the California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH) Annual Conference in Monterey, CA on May 23rd. Her audience of home care company owners and other professionals resonated with the Age Safe America message that Grab Bars Are The New Seatbelts as one of the key points in the presentation. This message works for company owners to reduce the risk to clients and their employees. The need for frankness is vital to encouraging boomers to create safe home environments for themselves and family members.
The 2018 Annual Conference & Expo in beautiful Monterey was sponsored by the California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH) and by the California Hospice and Palliative Care Association (CHAPCA). The California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH) is a nonprofit association representing California’s home care providers. Established in 1966, CAHSAH is one of the oldest and largest state home care associations with a long tradition of service dedicated to promoting quality home care and enhancing the effectiveness of the home care industry.
CAHSAH represents over 950 provider locations of Medicare Certified and licensed home health agencies, hospices, providers of non-medical personal care service in the home, home infusion pharmacies, and over 100 affiliate members including suppliers of products, computer companies, consulting firms, and insurance providers. CAHSAH is dedicated to being the preeminent source of advocacy, education and information reflecting the full diversity of the home care industry.