Michele's Blog

Caregiver Health & Wellness

By Michele Scott

Nearly two-thirds of home based caregivers surveyed in a Tulsa County Assessment reported being overweight or obese. In 2016 an assessment by the same organization reported 65% of the entire population of Tulsa as overweight or obese, which makes the numbers for caregivers no surprise.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, the obese are at an increased risk for a serious diseases or health conditions, specifically diabetes, heart disease and stroke

Scientists and researchers find health and wellness needs differ for caregivers, specifically the home bound caregiver. Whether they are preparing meals at home, bringing food in, or eating out, it is important for meals to be healthy, contain daily vitamin and nutrient requirements and support physical and mental health. These requirements may vary or require altering based on the type of care provided.  If a caregiver is lifting a patient multiple times a day, bathing a patient (helping them in and out of a tub or shower), or turning a large passive or non-functioning patient the caregiver must have the strength and flexibility necessary to prevent and/or minimize injuries. Fats, carbs, protein and supplements are a basic requirement which should be measured and controlled. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to health and physical fitness. Primary Care physicians and/or certified Dietitians should be consulted. Share your basic duties, the patient’s needs, the patient’s diagnosis and the environment. Are you moving the patient to and from a chair, are you taking the patient from room to room, are you dressing and undressing the patient and are stairs involved. The caregiver should feel comfortable as they perform each task. Pain, strain or uncontrolled emotions should be immediately reported to a medical professional.

The Family Caregiver Alliance, National Center on Caregiving reports: “Today, medical advances, shorter hospital stays, limited discharge planning, and expansion of home care technology have placed increased costs as well as increased care responsibilities on families, who are being asked to shoulder greater care burdens for longer periods of time. To make matters worse, caregivers are more likely to lack health insurance coverage due to time out of the workforce. These burdens and health risks can hinder the caregivers’ ability to provide care, lead to higher health care costs and affect the quality of life of both the caregiver and care receiver.”

“Improved recognition and treatment of physical and psychological symptoms among

caregivers is a growing health concern and should be considered a public health priority.”

Caregivers suffer high levels of depression, anxiety and stress. Diet, exercise, a wellness program and care plan can help reduce and in some cases prevent these diagnoses. Knowing and understanding your body and what works best for you - and seeking help, guidance and support when needed can make a difference. Many caregivers wait until they are ill, physically and mentally before admitting they can’t do it all. In many of these cases, the patient is placed in a nursing home or long-term care facility adding environmental and financial stress for both the patient and the caregiver.

This month is National Family Caregiver’s Month. Reach out to a family caregiver. Give them a few hours of respite, prepare a meal or lend a helping hand. Looking for an opportunity to volunteer? Supporting a family caregiver can be a rewarding experience. For those seeking professional care, Home Helpers Home Care is here to help, guide and support family caregivers. Regardless of where the patient is housed, the diagnosis, or the level of care needed our professional caregivers are a phone call away.  We are here twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week including holidays. Call us to learn more.