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Caregiving Essentials

Caregiving Essentials
Learn the basics of family caregiving including important considerations when undertaking the responsibilities of being a caregiver for an elderly person. Strategies are included for the close-by caregiver as well as the one who manages long-distance. Discussing various options and scenarios before there is a crisis will enable you to better react to situations. Also addressed is understanding the importance of taking care of your own needs and how to help yourself have a more positive, less stressful caregiver experience.

Basic and More Advanced Caregiving Topics

  • A Guide to Caring for Aging Parents

    When caring for your aging parents, there are more than a few aspects that need your careful consideration.
  • Coping as Caregiver for a Spouse

    Caring for a spouse brings a different set of challenges than caring for a parent. Lynn Greenblatt shares invaluable life lessons from her own personal experiences.

  • Questions to Ask a Potential Homecare Worker

    You made the decision to hire someone to help care for your parent, based on a needs assessment and in conjunction with family members and medical professionals. You created a home care plan and know that you need a reliable healthcare worker, one who is experienced in a situation like yours.

  • Developing a Care Plan

    A geriatric care plan is a way to help aging individuals ensure continued good health, and according to, “improve their overall quality of life, reduce the need for hospitalization and/or institutionalization, and enable them to live independently for as long as possible.”  Stemming from a geriatric assessment, a care plan ensures that families, aging individuals, and health care providers are all on the same page regarding health care and living arrangements, and that each knows his or her role in managing the needs of the aging individual.

  • Top 10 Caregiver Tips For 2010

    By: Gail Samaha

    While there is some small comfort in knowing that the pressures you feel are shared by many others, the bottom line to this very personal matter is simple: finding the time and services that can help make your life and the lives of your aging parents a little easier. This year, as you provide elder caregiving for a loved one who is either living with you or still in their own home, find the balance you need each day to continue to be a great caregiver for your loved one and yourself while avoiding caregiver burnout.

  • Older Patients: At Risk in the Hospital

    By: Martine Ehrenclou

    You might think that helping an older adult get to the hospital is as simple as dropping them off at "Admitting" and allowing the hospital staff to take care of the rest. Think again. Older patients desperately need your help because hospital risks are at an all-time high; even a short stay can be fraught with medical errors, medication mistakes, falls, infectious diseases and a host of other life threatening events for elderly in the hospital.

  • 12 Ideas For Senior Guests

    By: Julie Davis

    Prepare your home for senior houseguests. Room by room, these comfort aids for seniors can create a safe retreat and a more enjoyable stay for older relatives and family friends.

  • The Geriatric Gap

    By: David Solie

    Understanding how older adults are still developing will help you see them as they still are. Replace your bias and stereotypical thinking with new information about this phase of life.

  • Creating Successful Conversations With Seniors About At-Home Care

    By: Steve Barlam

    As the adult child of a senior, at some point you will likely need to explore the idea of finding at-home care for your parent. Here’s how to have the conversation.

  • New Tools To Assess Your Parents’ Driving Ability

    By: Julie Davis

    Learn the 20 warning signs that older loved ones may need to stop driving.

  • Hiring A Home Health Aide: Before An Emergency

    By: Deborah Quilter

    If your aging parent suddenly had a medical emergency and needed help at home, would you know what to do? These problems arise suddenly, and decisions must be made fast.

  • Money Love & Legacy: Conversations That Matter Between Generations

    By: Helga Hayse

    What if today was your last chance to speak to the people you love, your last opportunity to share what’s in your heart and your mind?

  • Home Care Helps Patient Recovery And Reduces Hospital Re-Admissions

    According to the results of the 2010 Private Duty Benchmarking Survey, hospital discharge planners are the third most common referral service for home care agencies. This is a trend that is expected to increase significantly over the next three years.

  • Caregiving For A Loved One With MS

    Caregiving for a loved one with multiple sclerosis presents different types of challenges. Learn when you might need help to be the best possible caregiver.

  • Making the Most of Your Holiday Visits

    Make the most of your holiday visits by making your loved ones’ home safer and giving gifts for seniors that improve their quality of life.

  • Loneliness in Seniors Is Hazardous to Their Health

    By: Martine Ehrenclou

    Helping seniors stay connected helps them from avoiding the isolation that can affect them physically and mentally.

  • 7 Ways To Talk To Your Parents About Getting Help At Home

    By: Shannon Martin

    It can be difficult to acknowledge the fact that your parent needs some help with day-to-day activities, let alone introducing to them the idea of hiring a professional caregiver for help. Your parent is likely to react to this decision with some resistance.

  • Managing Swallowing Problems

    Many swallowing problems older adults face are caused by lack of saliva or a dry mouth. Diet modifications and proper food preparation can make eating food easier.
  • Creating Caregiver Support with a Care Circle

    Caring for an aging parent can be one of the most rewarding experiences, but the more care your aging parent needs, the more support you are going to need. Since it's likely that you are not only caring for parents, but also raising children or grandchildren and working part or full time, your plate is more than full, it's overflowing. Organizing a care circle for your aging parents can help prevent you from suffering from caregiver burnout, a common occurrence among adult caregivers.

  • Older Americans Month: Time to Rekindle Relationships With Family Members

    The theme of this year’s Older Americans Month is “Never too Old to Play!” Depending on seniors’ individual health and activity level, there are many ways to put fun back into family visits.

  • Strategies to Simplify Caregiving Responsibilities

    Caring for an aging parent on top of the many other day-to-day family, work and financial obligations you have can be challenging.  Simplifying those responsibilities benefits everyone involved by ensuring that:

  • As Temperatures Drop, Elderly Neighbors Need Help Staying Safe

    By: Steve Barlam

    As the temperature drops, it's a good time to drop in on seniors to make sure they're staying safe.

  • The Plusses of In-Home Care

    In-home care benefits you and your loved one alike. Having a support system can make you a better caregiver and provide fresh eyes and ears to help your loved one live better and stay at home.

  • Better Caregiving at Doctor Visits

    By: Martine Ehrenclou

    Being a great caregiver includes advocating to improve your loved ones’ medical care. Here’s how to boost your caregiving at doctor visits.

  • Preparing Yourself For At Home Emergencies

    Can you help a loved one in an emergency? The best way to lessen the effect of the “fight or flight” reaction in a crisis is to have a plan.

  • Home Reminder Systems Are Getting Easier

    Reminder services for seniors can help you manage caregiving responsibilities and improve the health of your loved ones. 

  • Senior Helpers' New Holiday Service For Your Loved Ones

    By: Julie Davis

    Senior Helpers’s new Santa’s Senior Helpers assist seniors with holiday-oriented tasks to help keep them vital and involved. 

  • Home Staging to Sell

    Whether you’re selling your own home or helping a parent make a senior transition, staging the home can result in a better, faster sale.

  • Caregiver Tips To Help With Choosing A Medicare Plan

    Helping a senior choose the right Medicare plan is yet another hurdle. These tips can help

  • Financial Tips For Caregivers

    These ideas will help you better manage the financial costs of caring for a loved one. 

  • Know Your Caregiver Risks

    By: Julie Davis

    Caregiving does have health risks for the caregiver. But you can take steps to protect yourself. 

  • Caregivers of Veterans: Facing Greater Stress & More Years Of Care

    By: Julie Davis

    The first national study to give a voice to family caregivers of veterans reveals that they are twice as likely as family caregivers of adults overall to consider their situation highly stressful

  • Holiday To-Do List Starts With A Family Conversation About Elder Care And A Senior Living Plan

    By: Carol Bradley Bursack

    A recent AARP study found that two-thirds of adult children have never had a conversation about long-term care needs with their parents because they don’t know what information their parents need or where to find it.

  • Caregiving for Someone Who's Grieving

    By: Chris Iliades

    As we get older, people that we love inevitably pass out of our life. Whether it is a spouse, a sibling, or a friend, dealing with this type of loss is a process that takes time and nobody should have to do it alone.

  • Team of Allies: A Glossary Of Certified Home Health Care Professionals

    By: Marki Flannery

    Your parents deserve the best care possible—and there may come a time when the level of care they require is greater than what you, as their child, can provide.

  • Parents & Their Adult Children: A Meeting Of The Minds

    In this excerpt of the new book It’s Between You and Me, author Ali Davidson helps the generations take the first step toward understanding and accepting the changes that occur as we get older.

  • Freedom Of Choice For Home Health Care: It’s The Law

    As stays for hospital patients grow progressively shorter, even for procedures as serious as repairing a brain aneurysm or inserting a pacemaker, patients' need for highly skilled nursing care at home is growing. Indeed, every week, thousands of these patients are referred to home health care services.

  • Understanding The Limitations of Medicare Coverage After A Hospitalization

    Nothing is more discomforting than not knowing if you or a loved one will receive the adequate care for a full and safe recovery after hospitalization. When a patient is re-admitted to the hospital, it costs them, the government and the hospital additional expenses.

  • Five Tips for Finding a Quality Home Care Provider

    You and your family have decided that it is time to bring in outside help to assist with the care of a loved one in need. Because you want them to be able to remain safe, comfortable and independent in their own home for as long as possible, you have chosen to hire an in-home caregiver or home healthcare agency.

  • Getting A Health Assessment

    By: Gail Samaha

    A question I frequently hear from adult children who are noticing changes in their elderly parents or loved one, whether living next door or at a distance, "I'm overwhelmed—where do I start?"

  • Making The Most Of A Holiday Visit: Warning Signs To Look For

    By: Gail Samaha

    As the holidays approach, many long distance caregivers are now planning visits to their aging parents or other loved ones, perhaps the first opportunity in several months to personally observe older relatives.

    And the number of long distance caregivers is considered significant. According to a study conducted by the National Alliance of Caregiving, in collaboration with AARP, 15 percent of the estimated 34 million Americans who provide care to elderly parents or older family members live an hour or more away from their relative.

  • 7 Tips To Comfort A Hospitalized Parent

    By: Martine Ehrenclou

    If your mother or father is in the hospital, you're probably wondering what you can do to make their stay a little easier. Hospitals are built for the staff, not for the patient, and they are notorious for being sterile, cold and uncomfortable, especially for the seniors in the hospital. Not to mention the bad food.

  • Avoiding Everyday Choking Hazards

    By: Deborah Quilter

    According to the CDC's most recent data, there were 463 choking deaths related to food among people aged 65 to 85+ years old in 2006. There is a lot you can do to safeguard your loved ones and avoid this.

    When you’re planning a menu for family get-togethers that will include elderly folks, consider what Ellen Krasnoff, RRT, says to avoid: steak, hot dogs, popcorn, peanut butter, and several other no-nos.

  • A New Paradigm of Caregiving

    By: Gloria Barsamian

    Caretaking is fraught with many myths, assumptions and beliefs that have prevented generations of caregivers from understanding that caregiving is a rite of passage. Rites of passage define a sense of self in relation to society, paving the way for life transitions and allowing a more meaningful and clear incorporation of both familial and public roles. Seeing a family member through a health crisis marks the beginning of yet another transition for both the caretaker and the receiver and helps to define new roles and responsibilities in each of their lives. Although caretaking can help younger caregivers understand their place in the world, most view it with dread: an emotional roller coaster in which a plethora of daunting practical issues must also be addressed. These issues include the needs of spouses and children, estate and legal matters, health insurance, medications, funeral arrangements, and, in many cases, conflicts with siblings about how best to care for Mom or Dad and how to apportion responsibility, financial and personal, for their care.

  • I Got To Be The Sandwich…And The Side!

    By: Tomi Bryan

    For years I had heard of the sandwich generation—those people who were caregiving for their children and their aging parents at the same time. While I thought that was an interesting concept, I never anticipated that I would become part of that generation. But I did. In fact, I have had several opportunities to care for various sick and ailing parents and family members. Here, I share a little bit of the craziness of caring for multiple loved ones, but mostly I share the survival strategies I learned along the way.

  • Role Reversal: Adjusting To Caring For Your Parents

    By: Barbara Schuh

    Learn how to first come to terms with the idea of role reversal, as you become the parents to your parents.

  • Balancing Frustration With Understanding

    Making living arrangements for aging parents can be stressful, especially when your parent doesn't agree with the decisions you make. Balancing your own frustration with an understanding of your parent's feelings can help you both through the process.

  • Aging Family Responsibilities & Vacation Planning

    By: Linda Fodrini-Johnson

    If you look forward to a yearly vacation, there were ways to savor it, whether you take your parent with you or create the right support system at home to give you peace of mind.  

  • Six Steps to Better Family Communication

    It's clear Mom can't live alone anymore. But should still-single younger brother move in? Can not-working wealthy sister spring for an assisted living facility? What about far-away brother, who was always Mom's favorite? Should always-in-charge oldest sister make the ultimate call?

  • The Family Meeting

    There are only four kinds of people in the world—those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who need caregivers." – former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

  • The Family Caregiver

    According to AARP’s Caregiver Identification Study, "about one-third of the U.S. population age 18 and older currently provide caregiving assistance or have provided some kind of caregiving assistance in the past year.”  The majority of people enter into caregiving with little or no experience providing care for an aging individual.  Before embarking on the caregiving journey, it’s important that family caregivers understand the demands and learn the ins and outs of providing care to elderly family members. The most important aspects are:

  • When the Caregiver Path is Not Clear

    At age 91, my mom fully understands caregiving. She cared for my dad for four years after he had a stroke. He was ambulatory, but the stroke caused dementia and made him lose some of his inhibitions. He became a kleptomaniac. My mom was sure he would be carted away one day after he walked out of the Office Max with boxes of pencils, pads of paper and other things he just blithely picked up and put into his pockets. We laugh about it now, but it made her a nervous wreck at the time.

  • Five Ways to Make Your Life More Manageable

    Caregiving can be time-consuming, emotional and stressful. If you are caring for a parent, you are likely in your 40s or 50s, and you may also be caring for your own children. Stack on to that caregiving for someone who often lives far away from you, then it is completely normal and expected for you to feel like you are being pulled in too many directions. So it's no surprise that you probably don't find time to take care of yourself.

  • The Dance Between Guilt and Resentment: Why is it so hard to be a caregiver?

    "I propose to make a different world where caregivers are the most respected people." This is how Wendy Lustbader started out her talk at a recent workshop with a group of caregivers.

  • A Caregiving Journey: How to be a Caregiver and Your Own Case Manager

    Life expectancy in America today is higher than ever. Thanks to advances in medical science, illnesses that were once fatal have been transformed into chronic conditions that require some amount of consistent support from a caregiver. Because of this dramatic change, the care once provided by healthcare professionals is now most likely delivered by someone the patient knows.

  • Prepare for a Medical Emergency

    Just about everyone with an aging parent anticipates the possibility of a medical emergency. The circumstance you are likely most concerned about is that moment when you learn your mother or father has suffered a significant event and aggressive intervention is necessary. That moment changes your parent's life and yours.

  • Seven Tips for Caregiver Success

    Maybe you did not or were not able to plan ahead for the current situation with your parent — his or her condition may have worsened suddenly or come about unexpectedly. Nevertheless, it's never too late to start planning ahead. Now that your parent needs your caregiving assistance, take all the steps necessary to set yourself up for a calm and smooth process.

  • Respite Care Explained

    Many family caregivers are providing care around the clock, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.  Caregivers are overwhelmed and this takes a toll on their physical and emotional health. According to, "Caregivers need time off from their caregiving responsibilities to relieve stress and prevent burnout. Effective, sustainable caregiving depends on meeting the caregiver's own needs for nurture, reassurance, support and periodic respite."