In-Home Care Coping Tips

6 Ways to Make In-Home Care Happier
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There's plenty that's not so cheerful about family caregiving. But that doesn't mean you have to succumb to the tension and sadness every day. With a minimum of effort, you can introduce levity and lightness into the atmosphere.

1. Introduce elements of play into your home.

Having fun and games on hand really does raise the odds that you and your loved ones will partake. Think about past pleasures: Thousand-piece jigsaws? Board games like chess or Chinese checkers? Magnetic blocks and other 3-D puzzles? Blowing bubbles? One family keeps a basket of soft balls of different types handy in the kitchen to toss or bounce as they chat. Another displays Mom's beloved doll collection where she can see it every day.

2. Create something instead of always watching TV.

Stock a few activities that use up the long hours of the day but that are more communal and active than TV -- and provide feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. Doodle in sophisticated coloring books that feature mosaics and florals (available at arts and crafts stores). Many toy stores sell art kits with black velvet cutouts and colored markers. More easy-to-make ideas: stained glass suncatchers, Christmas ornaments, woven placemats. The finished object is less important than the fun had in doing it.

3. Hire the happiest aide you can find.

Obviously when bringing in outside support, you want to hire someone competent. But all things being equal, consider the candidate's countenance. A happy aide, nurse, personal care assistant, or elder companion will bring sunshine along every time he or she enters your home. A happy personality tends to be an infectious one.

4. Display fun messages.

Hang a chalkboard or paint a square of chalk paint in a prominent place. Write a joke of the day or jot a loving message.

5. Play the gratitude game.

Remember Pollyanna and her "Glad Game?" The optimistic young heroine found something to be glad about in every situation. (Only crutches, not a doll, in the charity gift barrel? At least she didn't need to use them!) The game works because fear, disappointment, and negativity can't exist in the same mental space as gratitude. So when life is difficult, try making a list of things you're grateful for -- and if possible, asking your loved one and other family members, "What are you grateful for today?" Sometimes you can find happiness by creating your own relative happiness.

6. Have cheerful friends on speed-dial.

Every caregiver needs a handful of go-to friends and relatives with bright personalities. When you or your loved one feel swamped by the blues, call one of your sunnier friends and -- this is key -- let him or her know you're low: "Can you stop by? We need cheering up." Sometimes the simple infusion of a happy person in a depressing situation can alter the mood of the whole house. Even a temporary lift is a worthwhile one.


about 4 years ago, said...

Any new ideas are welcomed.


over 4 years ago, said...

Keeping someone happy is impossible, but helping them cope with a tough situation is possible. Mother has Alzheimer's, nearly deaf and macular degeneration. She was a dancer when she was young so music is wonderful for her, and she loves to ride in a car. Anywhere. Just a change of venue for a short time is all she needs to regroup and feel she is still in life and it hasn't passed her by. A walk is great if you can't do the drive and we use the wheelchair when we go to craft fairs and so forth, better because she tires and also because I don't loose her when she wanders so better for me too. The old saying, a mother is only has happy as her unhappiest child, is true and if she asks how I am I always say, "great" and we laugh and she relaxes. We don't share problems, we don't reprimand for things done on either of our parts, we just cruise as good companions can. Letting go of all the things that make life hard eases her mind, and we just keep searching for hearing aides and trying to keep clean clothes on every day, making sure she eats well and gets her legs up for a bit each day. Not hard, we are lucky she is able to move around, and be as happy as she is. We go to church as often as we can and that brings comfort on both sides and we greet people, she doesn't know who they are and cannot see them but again, being back in normal life if only a tiny time is immensely important. I plan a goal of some kind each day, going to Target or getting ice cream and having lunch out each day or planning a lunch for her she especially likes so she will eat well. We call an old friend or her sister once in a while and just basically are friends together enjoying the time we have. Knowing she will not be there one day absolutely flattens me and when she fails more and more and doesn't know my name it is hard. But could be worse of course.


over 4 years ago, said...

The upbeat, can do attitude.....


over 4 years ago, said...

When my mother gets upset or confused and angry I change the subject to something pleasant, ice cream, a dog story, flowers are lovely outside.... Helps so much. No point in arguing about anything with her dementia and blindness and her hearing is so poor why not let life be as happy for her as I can, makes it easier on me also. Distract and conquer!! And smile as much as possible, move at her pace and talk about things she can relate to in her past and if the subject gets hard, move on. Take life one minute at a time and let the waves rush over as they do in life, let as much go as you can.


over 4 years ago, said...

Thank you for the ideas. Although I do not caregive for my Father in my home, these are good ideas for any home! I try to be up when I see Dad, or when I talk on the phone with him. I have 3 deaf mini-doxies that love to be petted and played with. All of the Independent and Assisted Living folk love to see them, as they are unusual in their coloring (mostly white). Just seeing the smiles they have when they see the doggies is wonderful.


over 4 years ago, said...

Our morning rounds always include my husband's favorite radio station or DVD of classics he has always loved. I drive him in a vehicle most familiar to him - his truck! Music is playing from my home office most of the day. Current research statistics/tv news supports music therapy as very beneficial in a stage of the desease.


over 4 years ago, said...

I like the suggestion of music. It has such power to change a mood or soothe a soul. Also a change of scenery is wonderful. Have a routine but try to have a daily activity that is unique to that day-perhaps a drive in the country or a brief shopping trip, or even eating a meal in a different setting can be a real treat. Inviting their friends to visit is goid and having happy help is fabulous. They make every day a party. This isn't always easy and beware the troubled worker who wants to dump their issues on you.


over 4 years ago, said...

LisaKay17 - My dad went blind when he was 16. He passed away in September from Parkinson's/Dementia. Even with his blindness, he was always an active person. Once the disease made him wheelchair-bound, and finally, totally bedridden, he would get agitated, I think, out of frustration, boredom, etc. We would get a large bowl and put a lot of change in it. At first, he could distinguish the difference of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. He would first separate the change, then he would count it. Even after he couldn't distinguish between the coins, just 'counting' the coins to put into a different bowl would keep him occupied for 2-3 hours. Also, my dad LOVED music. I would play some songs on the piano for him to sing along with. Even better though, is that once he was on Hospice, they provided a music therapist. She would either play her guitar or the piano, and sing hymns and patiotic songs and old cowboy songs. When dad talked, we couldn't understand very many words he was saying. But when he sang, we could understand every single word. It made him happy, it made us happy. I recorded some of these times, and can now go back and listen. They always bring a smile to me and my family. These are some of my greatest memories. He didn't have to be able to physically see to do these things, but they were great activities for him and for us.


over 4 years ago, said...

In general these tips are of no value to me as my spouse's primary caregiver. Before and after retirement he enjoyed his morning rounds, i.e. smart grocery shopping, post office, managing financial affairs, keeping our yards in our primary residence and our weekend retreat in tip top shape. Seven days a week I drive him to make the same rounds via the same routes: however, he is a passenger/helper. I have assumed his primary position because his memory & energy have faded or dart in and out. When memory darts in I treasure it gently: when it darts out I steer him thru the murky waters. Indoor activites do serve as triggers. He listens to the local news and two classic tv shows. He sleeps/rests the balance of our day.


over 4 years ago, said...

I'm always too hesitant to "trouble" others, even friends and family, with requests for help. How simple just tosay "we're down today. Could you stop by?" I hope I can make myself try it. I run into so much "yeah, but...." thinking like: no one of my family and, even tho I have friends in the neighborhoos, I don't feel comfortable asking them to add to their duties by doing something for me. I see my difficulties; I'll start w/calling someone for a "chat" instead.


over 4 years ago, said...

My husband has Alzheimer's and gets a litte agitated at times. The hints will help me in the process of keeping him cheerful. I've found that just visiting the grocery store or going for a ride really helps us both in staying less stressed.


over 4 years ago, said...

My mom, 91, lives with us. She has dementia and macular degeneration. Because of her limited eyesight (she also had a stroke in the occipital region, futher affecting her eyesight), there are many activities that she is unable to do. I would greatly appreciate some suggestions on activities. She can fold clothes and towels, go for walks, listen to music, sit outside and listen to the birds. We have a very cheerful sitter that keeps her occupied with these activities. Any ideas on how to make the day of a basically blind dementia patient fulfilling?


over 4 years ago, said...

I am the caregiver for my sister who is a cancer patient. This article is very useful to me, as it gives me some tips on how to diffuse a difficult situation. She is often grumpy, and hard to handle. This article has given me some ideas to use to make it a more pleasant,albeit important, experience.


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