Caregivers Corner

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10 Signs Your Family Member May Need Caregiving Help

Is it time to provide caregiving help for an aging or disabled loved? Maybe you’ve noticed that your mom or dad has begun to repeat the same stories or isn’t taking medication as prescribed. Maybe you have a grandparent who has a hard time dressing, shopping or cooking on their own.

Whatever your situation is, recognizing the signs that indicate your loved one needs caregiving help is the first step toward ensuring they will get the care needed to live as well as possible.

10 Signs That A Loved One May Need Help

1. Change in mood and personality

Increased agitation, verbally or physically abusive behaviors, and extreme mood swings can be signs that a person might have pain levels that need added attention. Or these actions could be a sign of memory loss.

2. Increased isolation

A person may be depressed from having fewer friends or social activities. They might choose to limit interaction with others due to vision and hearing problems; exams for both will determine if either is an issue. Long-term isolation takes a toll on our health, increasing our risks for problems such as dementia, stroke, and heart disease.

3. Difficulty driving

Age- and health-related issues are key risk factors in a person’s ability to drive safely. Family members should consider putting the vehicle keys in a safe place until an evaluation takes place or a caregiver is hired.

4. Forgetfulness

Some forgetfulness is normal in our busy lives – we might forget a person’s name in the morning but will remember it later. When forgetfulness happens more often with serious consequences, memory loss could be the reason.

5. Major health concerns

Studies show that older and chronically ill individuals take longer to recover from an illness or surgery. Family members should be alert to adverse outcomes such as continuing weight loss, muscle weakness, and decline in cognitive abilities.

6. Increase in falls / mobility issues

Age and health conditions contribute to loss of stability and mobility. Recurring bruising could be a sign that someone has been falling, along with using furniture to help themselves move around the home and general difficulty getting in and out of a seated position.

7. Needing reminders to take medication

Sometimes simple solutions work well, such as establishing a routine of when to take medications and using pill organizers. Not only is it dangerous to a person’s health to miss medications or completely stop taking using them, it could be a sign of a memory issue.

8. No longer able to perform daily tasks

Healthy lifestyle behaviors go a long way toward our longevity. When someone stops eating well and keeping a clean house, cognitive issues may be the cause.

9. Poor personal hygiene

Not bathing regularly or dressing inappropriately could mean that someone is having physical difficulty with their strength or coordination, or it can be a sign of a problem such as memory loss.

10. Disrupted sleep patterns

Changes in sleep patterns, such as when lifelong early risers begin sleeping till noon, can be indications of medical issues such as depression, anxiety or cognitive decline.

10 Tips For Productive Medical Visits

At the heart of it, a caregiver is someone who assists others with daily living activities. Caregivers can be anyone from a trained healthcare professional to a friend or family member.

Caregivers are at the forefront of ensuring a patient or loved one receives the best medical care possible. Here are several things you can do to advocate for your patient during every healthcare appointment and have effective and productive conversations with their medical providers.

  1. Before their doctor’s visit, discuss what information and questions the patient wants to bring to the doctor’s attention, and write down a list in order of importance. This allows you and the individual to be on the same page and helps pave the way for a more productive appointment.
  2. Learn more about the patient’s health conditions and any medical diagnoses they have received. When caregivers develop a better understanding of an individual’s medical history, they can participate more actively in monitoring and managing their healthcare.
  3. Make a list of their prescriptions, OTC medications, and dietary supplements along with the schedule and dosage. It’s important for the prescribing doctor to identify any possible drug interactions between each of these.
  4. Be prepared to provide the doctor with a clear update since the patient’s last visit. Changes in their condition, medication concerns, and new symptoms should be discussed.
  5. Open communication is best. When the doctor asks a question, let the patient answer while you take notes that can later be referred to by other family members or members of the patient’s care team.
  6. Get acquainted with the patient’s health insurance plan. Having a clear understanding of their coverage and benefits will help you to fully maximize the care they can receive.
  7. Organize documentation so it is easily accessible for each appointment and other care team members. Important medical and legal paperwork can be easily organized in plastic file containers.
  8. Find ways to stay in the loop the individual’s medical care. Many providers are now utilizing digital health apps as a means for a more integrated healthcare management approach for patients and their caregivers.
  9. Seek out resources at the medical providers your patient uses. Many hospitals and medical offices have a dedicated social worker or patient advocate who can provide valuable information and resources for patients with specific needs.
  10. Did you know that some health insurance plans provide coverage for things like home healthcare, massage therapy, transportation assistance, senior fitness, and many other helpful services? If your loved one is interested, reach out to their health insurance provider to find out more.

What To Do When You Need A Break

Caring for a loved one is a true labor of love. It is also physically and emotionally demanding. The risk of experiencing caregiver burnout is a real possibility and finding ways to care for yourself is the best way to combat it.

What is caregiver burnout?

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that occurs when caregivers neglect their own needs. Its characteristics include:

  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Experiencing feelings of sadness, irritation, and hopelessness
  • Feeling constantly worried and overwhelmed
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Getting too little or too much sleep
  • Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Feelings of anger, frustration, resentment, and impatience with the person you are caring for
  • Physical symptoms and chronic health conditions
According to AARP’s 2020 Caregiving in the U.S. survey, only four in 10 caregivers rate their health as “excellent or very good.” Caregivers’ self-reported poor health is backed by medical statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 53% of caregivers have been diagnosed with two or more chronic conditions that can contribute to lower life expectancy such as, heart disease, kidney disease, or diabetes. In addition to poor physical health, family caregivers experience higher levels of stress, depression, and other emotional issues. These factors contribute to a rapid decline in their mental health and emotional well-being. Caregivers are finding it increasingly difficult to strike a healthy balance. Results of a 2017 SCAN survey of 1,000 senior caregivers, show that guilt is among the top negative feelings caregivers struggle with:
  • 82% of caregivers have difficulty saying “no” to the job
  • 54% feel guilty about taking a break from their caregiver duties to make time for themselves
  • 29% spend 40 hours a week or more caring for someone, which leads to a lack of sleep and poor professional performance
  • 44% don’t think their loved one would be able to find someone else to provide quality care
These feelings of guilt can be exacerbated when the patient has dementia, and when adult children insist on being the sole caregiver for their parent because they feel compelled to keep a promise.
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Still have questions?

Speak to a Community Health Choice Medicare plan specialist by calling:

October 1 to March 31, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, 7 days a week, and April 1 through September 30, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, Monday through Friday. On certain holidays your call will be handled by our automated phone system.


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H9826_MK_10331_100422_M. Last updated October 4, 2022.