11 Tips Caregivers Need to Know
Becoming a caregiver or playing a more active role in another’s healthcare is a big responsibility. At some point, almost all adults will support an aging parent or a loved one in need. Keeping track of their needs and wellbeing, while also prioritizing your own can become overwhelming. It’s important to know: you are not alone, and help is available. Read on for 11 tips to help you manage your time, your own wellbeing and your loved one’s care. Self-care comes first. When your main priority is the person in your life who needs care, it’s easy for your own needs to take the backseat. Give yourself time each day to focus on your personal wellbeing. It’s hard to give a loved one the care they need if your own needs are not met. Prioritize the Activities of Daily Living (ADL). Make a note of what ADLs your loved one can do alone, what they need help with and what activities require the most help. This will help you work through the day with them, as well as plan out how the day’s activities will go. Do a home safety audit. Do showers, bathtubs and steps have safety grab bars? Look around the house for additional tripping hazards, like rugs or electrical cords. If your loved one struggles with day-to-day navigation of the home, consider scheduling an occupational therapy appointment. This type of therapy helps a person develop or maintain the motions required to accomplish daily tasks. You might also qualify for a referral to in-home healthcare, such as Home Care. Have the hard conversation. The best time to discuss views about end of life care and to learn what choices are available is before a life-limiting illness or crisis occurs. With advance care planning, you can help reduce the doubt and anxiety related to decision making at the end of life. Completing an Advance Directive is a great tool to sort out all these decisions before they’re needed. Attend a free workshop to learn more and complete this important document. Identify when you need respite. Respite care involves receiving a short-term break from caregiving. Organizing in-home care for your loved one will allow you to step away and tend to your needs. By identifying what kind of respite care you are seeking, you can find the right person to provide you with that much-needed break. Don’t wait until you feel overwhelmed, plan ahead. Write down insurance contact information. Have a direct connection to the right insurance professional for support and advice. If your loved one is eligible Medicare, this is a good opportunity to review their current selections and if they would benefit from a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Supplement Insurance. Seeking out expert advice or information on Medicare options is a great way to navigate this. Consider calling a broker, or attend a free educational seminar with Senior Care Plus. Gather legal and financial information. Make a list of all existing legal documents and financial accounts that your loved one has. These might include a will, advance directive, power of attorney, bank accounts or investment accounts. If you have questions about how to manage them, or need assistance in setting up additional framework, reach out to a lawyer, legal service, financial adviser or bank representative. Create an inventory of medical information. Identify where all of your loved one’s medical records are, as well as a list of providers or healthcare practices where they have received care. Consider if you should have your loved one give you Proxy Access in MyChart, which allows you to access all the features in MyChart on their behalf, including viewing upcoming appointments, viewing test results and emailing a doctor on their behalf. Make a list of what others can do. Think about all the little (and big) things that need to happen, and write down tasks that others could take care of you. When someone says “let me know what I can do” you’ll be ready with a pre-written list of items they may be able to assist with. Tasks could include tackling around-the-house repairs, scheduling lawn work, helping to walk the dog, taking a car for an oil change and cleaning. Find programs and events for social enjoyment. If and when possible, seek an activity outside of the home. Look for community centers that have programs for seniors, recreational activities or meals that you can patriciate in together. If leaving the home is not an option, arrange for visits or in-home activities, such as movie nights, card games or time to visit with family. Research long-term options. If you will be considering a nursing home or assisted living, make a list of amenities that you and the person you are caring for would like. Take this list with you when visiting potential locations to make sure you don’t forget to ask about each item.
Alzheimer's Safety Tips for Caregivers to Know
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. At Renown Health, we know that Alzheimer's safety for your loved one is a priority, as the symptoms can sometimes lead to unsafe situations. We asked Dr. Jonathan Artz – a neurology physician with Renown Health and an assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine – for tips on keeping loved ones safe and secure. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease affects safety in various ways, specifically due to body and brain adjustments. These changes can include: Judgment, including forgetfulness Sense of place – getting lost on the way home Behavior – being suspicious or fearful Body difficulty – losing balance Sensing ability – noticeable sensitivity in hearing, seeing or temperature Dr. Artz gives us four major tips to ensure your loved one’s safety as you both navigate this disease together. Watch for Wandering Those experiencing Alzheimer’s disease tend to wander and get lost. Try the following tips to reduce the risk of wandering: Get your loved one an ID bracelet and have them wear it at all times. You can also enroll your loved one in “Wandering Support.” Install door chimes so you know when exterior doors are open. Ask neighbors to call you if they see your loved one out alone. Go with your loved one when they insist on leaving the house. Don’t argue or yell. Instead, use distraction or gentle hints to get them to return home. Discourage Driving Driving can be unsafe for someone with this disease. With this in mind, ask a doctor whether it’s safe for your loved one to drive. For example, on a case-by-case basis, there are certain situations where doctors are required to report individuals with particular cognitive impairments, wherein a form of a driving assessment will be recommended. Limit access to the car. Keep the keys with you or lock them away. Ask an authority figure, such as an insurance agent or a doctor, to tell them not to drive. Adult-Proof Your Abode A simple living space is a safe living space. This means reducing clutter and removing any issues that may pose a safety concern. You may also want to get advice from an occupational therapist (home safety expert). Keep in mind that some changes may not be needed right away. Focus on major safety concerns first. Try the following tips: Add lighting (or glow-in-the-dark tape) to brighten dark areas, including stairways and halls. Use color contrast or texture indicators for dials, knobs and appliance controls. Remind your loved one not to carry items while walking to avoid a fall. Remove sharp objects from drawers and countertops. Avoid using small throw rugs or doormats, as they are easy to trip on. Move frequently used items so that they are easy to reach. Lock away alcohol and tobacco products, as they are not recommended for dementia patients. Install handrails in the shower, tub and near the toilet. Bathroom falls are especially common. Adjust the setting on your hot water heater so water does not scald. Those with Alzheimer’s can lose their sensitivity to temperature. Move and lock up hazardous chemicals and cleaning supplies, such as bleach and insecticides. Disable and remove guns or any weapons. Supervise any medication taken by your loved one. Promote a Positive & Healthy Lifestyle Continually emphasize the strengths of your loved one by promoting participation in meaningful activities, wellness visits and healthy habits to help them improve their well-being. Here are some ways to keep them physically and mentally active: Maintain regular vision and hearing screenings and make necessary adaptations. Establish a routine for daily activities. Encourage participation in self-care and leisure activities. Work with your loved one’s doctor to establish a healthy diet. Ensure proper hydration. It may help to set reminders for your loved one to drink fluids. Encourage regular exercise. Exercise delivers oxygen to the brain, improving brain health. Promote good sleep habits. Good quality sleep can increase overall brain health and has been associated with improving memory, attention and concentration. Resources and support are available with the Renown Memory Disorders Program. Providers within this program are specifically dedicated to treating several different memory-related disorders. Memory Disorders Resources & Support.
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Nutrición oncológica: consejos útiles para ayudar a su ser querido a comer sano
Eating healthy is a daily challenge for many, but for those with cancer it is an even harder struggle. A cancer diagnosis not only impacts those diagnosed, but family members and friends too. One key area of concern is making sure your loved one stays well by eating healthy food every day. Here are some essential cancer nutrition tips from Renown Health registered dietitians Jessica Blauenstein and Amy Laster. Help to Prepare Meals and Snacks for Daily Cancer Nutrition Make it grab and go. Easy-to-make meals help reduce the burden of having to cook and prepare food. Having easy to grab snacks on the counter or in the fridge can help ensure your loved one has access to those nutrients when needed. Sit outside of the kitchen. This allows your loved one to avoid cooking smells which can make them feel sick as a side effect of cancer treatments. Also try serving them cold foods such as sandwiches, cheese and crackers, or shakes which have a mild scent. Try drinkable meals. Some people with cancer find it easier to sip their calories over the course of 30 minutes to an hour. Consider smoothies or supplemental shakes such as Ensure Enlive or Boost Plus as snacks not meal replacements. A great foundation for a smoothie is a protein source (Greek yogurt, protein powder, nut butters or milk) with a carbohydrate (fruits, juice or berries). Add other ingredients as desired, such as spinach, kale, and ground flaxseed or chia seeds to give it more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Snack Ideas for Those Undergoing Cancer Treatment The following ideas are both quick and easy to make for your loved one. Chicken or tuna salad with whole grain crackers or as a sandwich on whole grain bread Greek yogurt mixed with cereal, fruit and/or nuts Cottage cheese with banana, cinnamon and/or peanut butter Favorite fruit with 100% natural peanut or almond butter spread - Try peanut butter with bananas, apples, or even celery Their favorite veggies dipped in a salad dressing of your choice - For example, carrots with hummus or ranch dressing Cheese and whole grain crackers - Add tomato slices with a dash of oregano on top for more flavor Eggs scrambled with cheese, vegetables and/or salsa Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread A baked sweet potato with some favorite toppings Hard boiled eggs and/or egg salad with whole grain crackers, or as a sandwich on whole grain bread Oatmeal or cream of wheat prepared with milk, fruit and/or nuts Sometimes your loved one may not feel like eating or refuse to eat. If treatment side effects are impacting your loved one’s ability to eat, please visit the websites below containing recipes tailored to treat side effects. Cook for Your Life ELLICSR Of course you may also consult a registered dietitian and/or the patients care team, if you have more cancer nutrition concerns. No Appetite? Assisting with Cancer Taste Changes Taste changes are common during cancer treatment. Patients experiencing these changes may not feel like eating, which can negatively impact their nutrition. Help your loved one overcome taste changes with these cancer nutrition strategies: Metallic or bitter taste in food - add something sweet such as maple syrup, honey or jelly. You may also try adding fat, such as a nut butter, avocado or regular butter. Pickles or vinegar could help with this too. A taste like cardboard - try adding salt and extra flavor to foods with seasonings and spices. Some examples are onion, garlic, chili powder, basil, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, barbecue sauce, mustard, ketchup, or mint. Lemon juice, citrus, vinegar, or pickles may also help with this as well Food tastes too sweet - try adding six drops of lemon or lime juice. Add small amounts until the sweetness is gone. Very salty taste - try adding ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice. Try plastic utensils instead of metal, especially if your loved one is struggling with foods tasting metallic. Dipping small bites of food into either lemon juice or vinegar can have a “palate cleansing” feel and may improve taste perception. This helps avoid getting tired of the flavor after a few bites. Try marinating food or meats in sweet fruit juices, salad dressings, or sweet-and-sour sauce. Other “palate cleansing” foods are lime juice, orange juice, mangos, lemongrass, parsley, cilantro, mint, ginger, basil, and pickled foods. Use aroma to make foods appealing, avoiding any smells that may cause nausea. In particular, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, coriander, cumin, ginger, and black pepper can add an aromatic flavor. Also include herbs such as oregano, rosemary and thyme. Think texture. Consider trying wafers, crunchy nut butters, carrots, celery, cucumbers, chips, rice crispies, corn flakes, crackers, panko crumbs, nuts, or seeds if you are able to chew and swallow them safely. Remember that patience with your loved one's changing appetite and tastes can be the strongest form of support you can provide. Nutrition Tips for Cancer Survivorship and Beyond If eating large meals is difficult for your loved one, encourage them to snack throughout the day. Aim for 4-6 snacks or small meals per day. Focus on consuming 2-3 protein-rich foods each day such as lean animal meats, fish, eggs, soy or a protein supplement with 20-30 grams of protein per serving. Eat a variety of brightly colored fruits and veggies. Aim to make half of each meal fruits and vegetables. Eat less than 18 oz. (cooked weight) of red meat per week. Limit cold cuts, bacon, sausage, and hot dogs. Avoid excess salt and saturated fats. Cut back on simple carbs. (i.e. desserts, candies, white bread/pastas, french fries, packaged foods, chips) Drink in moderation- if at all- one drink per day for women, two for men. Get enough vitamin D (through diet and/or supplement) Avoid tobacco of any kind. Keep a healthy weight and stay up on exercise. Other Ways to Help a Loved One with Cancer Assist with Chores Allow your loved one to relax as you help take care of chores around the house, such as cleaning, cooking and grocery shopping. This may reduce overall stress and can be helpful for those that get tired after their treatments. Physical activity can still be beneficial, so be sure to do an activity together that they enjoy and is approved by their doctor. Be Patient It can be very difficult to see a loved one go through cancer treatment. Remember to be patient with your loved one. There may be things we want them to do or eat that we know would be good for them, however, meet your loved one with grace and understanding. It is ultimately their decision on what to do, just be there to support and assist them as they go through this challenging time. Additionally, Renown hosts free “Eating Well After Cancer Treatment” nutrition classes for cancer survivors. Our next cancer nutrition class series starts Thursday, June 3, 2021, and will be hosted virtually. It is open to anyone in the community. For more information or to register please click here.
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Cuidadores serviciales hacen realidad el sueño de una boda
A wedding is a big day for the wedding couple, but it’s also special for loved ones. A patient at Renown, Ken, got to take part in his daughter’s special day as her wedding plans changed to accommodate his medical condition. Grab some tissues and read how Renown’s team of compassionate caregivers and chaplains planned a wedding in Fianna’s Healing Garden. Ken was hospitalized at Renown Regional Medical Center where he was battling a lung problem – which was unrelated to COVID-19 – and his condition worsened rapidly on Wednesday, Aug. 12. His family made the decision to transition him to palliative care, which helps patients near the end of their lives remain comfortable, while supporting their dignity and quality of life. Ken’s medical condition altered wedding plans for his daughter, Chandra, and her fiancé, Tyler, who were planning to tie the knot later in 2020. Chandra wanted her father there, but knew he could not leave the hospital. That’s why Chandra’s sister, Heather, approached Ken’s care team with a request to have a small wedding ceremony at the hospital. Planning the Wedding A member of Ken’s care team, Amy Heston, registered nurse (RN), began planning how the wedding could be held outdoors in Fianna's Healing Garden in the E. L. Wiegand Pavilion, which was donated by the E. L. Wiegand Foundation. In 24 hours, Amy planned a wedding ceremony with the help of her colleague, Breyanna Aufiero, RN; the Renown Spiritual Care team; and nursing leaders on the coronary intensive care unit (ICU). Together, they decorated the aisle in the garden with flowers and battery-operated candles. They also made a sign for Ken’s hospital bed, which read, “Father of the Bride,” and crafted a bow tie for him to wear for the special occasion. With visitor restrictions in place at the hospital due to coronavirus (COVID-19), having the wedding outside in the Healing Garden allowed for more members of Ken’s family to attend including his wife, Charlotte, and his dog, Bella. Every step in planning the wedding required thoughtful and thorough care coordination so Ken could participate. His breathing was supported by oxygen and special arrangements were made to transport the oxygen tanks he needed to take part in his daughter’s wedding. Amy worked with respiratory technician, Kasey Benfield, and critical care technician, Ruben Duckworth, to ensure Ken’s oxygen needs were met using portable machines. Celebrating Love and Life Together Ken’s team of caregivers bathed him and shaved his face so he could look and feel his best for the ceremony. They put on his bow tie, covered his bed in decorations and his favorite blue, flannel blanket, and wheeled his bed outside for the ceremony. Renown associate chaplains Terri Domitrovich and Susan Palwick coordinated music and performed the ceremony for Chandra and Tyler on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. The bride and groom shared their first dance in the garden and Ken’s care team provided water and treats to give the family a full wedding experience. Shortly after the ceremony, Ken passed away. This wedding provided Ken and his family meaningful memories for their big life-changing moments as they celebrated and said goodbye. “Seeing Ken surrounded by family he never would have gotten to see again while in the hospital, watching him get to share a father-daughter dance with Chandra on her wedding day, and having him tell me that this day meant more to them than we would ever know were some of the most moving moments I’ve witnessed as a nurse,” Amy said. “I am so thankful for the team we have here. I know that this beautiful day wouldn’t have happened without the help of every single person who gave their time, money, creativity and passion to make it a day to remember.”
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Cancer Support FAQs: How to Help When It's Someone You Love
Every cancer journey is different — and so are the ways individuals deal with a cancer diagnosis. So if you’re a close friend or family member, how can you help? Bobbi Gillis, manager of cancer support services with Renown Institute for Cancer, explains more. Just as we are all unique, we all also have our own ways of dealing with difficult news. For some, receiving a cancer diagnosis is devastating, and they want family members rallying around them in support; for others, they want to be left completely alone. So how do you know what is helpful and what is hurtful? For advice, we reached out to Bobbi Gillis, manager of cancer support services with Renown Institute for Cancer. Support, Defined What are some ways to support a loved one when they find out they have cancer? First and foremost, let them know you are there for them. As we can all imagine, a cancer diagnosis is scary, and it’s helpful just to know you have support if and when you need it. Second, try to listen and give advice only when you are asked. In trying to help as much as possible, many family and friends take on the role of “researcher” to find out more treatment options, but it’s best to avoid saying “you should try this” or “you ought to do that.” Patients are already dealing with a lot of information at once from care providers and their own research. You don’t want to make them feel overwhelmed or question the treatment they’re planning. What are some words of encouragement or support people can use? Just as you would in any difficult situation, speak from the heart and be genuine. But also be careful not to show false optimism or to tell them to just stay positive; saying these things may discount their fears and concerns. Here are some ideas to get you started: “We’re going to get through this together.” “Count me in to help out.” “I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care and I’m here.” What resources are available to patients? What about their families? For patients with cancer, we offer support groups in-person or online. There are also support groups specific to the type of cancer you or your loved one have. You can check these out on our website, renown.org, or ask your care provider. There are also support groups and emotional support services available for family and friends. How can family and friends help throughout cancer treatment? It’s great to offer help, but it’s important to be specific when you offer. Saying “call me if you need something” is very general, and people may feel like they’re putting you out when they do ask for something specific. Instead, offer help with certain tasks — like driving them to treatment, babysitting, making them dinner or buying groceries. As much as possible, keep things normal. For some patients, being able to do everyday things like walking the dog helps them feel better. Loved ones can try to do too much for a patient, and while well-intentioned, this can make them feel less useful after being diagnosed. Renown Institute for Cancer | 775-982-4000 At the Renown Health Institute for Cancer, our experienced team provides the support and care to maintain the highest quality of life and then achieve the best possible outcome, all in one location that’s close to home. Our dedicated team, clinical expertise and advanced treatment options allow us to tailor care to each patient. Learn about: Our Team Cancers We Treat Screening and Prevention Treatment Options Find a Doctor
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