Things You Need to Know About Parkinson’s DiseaseA diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is always scary, but it can be even more intimidating if you don’t know what the diagnosis really means. You might have heard of Parkinson’s causing tremors and mobility issues, but if that’s all you know about it, you probably have a lot of questions, especially if you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. While we can’t tell you everything about the disease in a blog post, we can give you an idea of some of the things you can expect from a Parkinson’s diagnosis.

  • Early Warning Signs

While tremors and mobility issues are probably the most well-known symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, they’re not the only indications that something might be wrong. Before the disease reaches that stage, many patients experience loss of smell, constipation, vivid dreaming, and their handwriting might become very small.

  • Brain Cell Death

Cells in the substantia nigra section of the brain are responsible for producing dopamine, which helps the brain control movement of the body. When these brain cells start to die, Parkinson’s disease develops, and it is the reduced levels of dopamine in the brain that lead to the tremors and loss of motor control that tend to characterize Parkinson’s disease.

  • Unknown Causes

No one knows what causes Parkinson’s disease. Based on what we know so far, the best guess scientists can make is that it’s a combination of environmental factors and genetic predisposition, but so far the exact causes of Parkinson’s disease remain a medical mystery that has yet to be solved.

  • How Is Parkinson’s Diagnosed?

Because Parkinson’s develops when certain brain cells start to die, it’s difficult to diagnose when the patient is still living. In order to diagnose a patient with Parkinson’s disease, a doctor would need to conduct a physical exam, as well as a variety of tests to determine whether two of the four main symptoms are present: tremors/shaking, slow movements, rigid limbs and/or torso, and difficulty balancing.

  • When Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed?

The average age of patients who experience the onset of Parkinson’s disease is 62. If the patient is less than 50 years old at the time of their Parkinson’s diagnosis, it’s known as young-onset or early-onset Parkinson’s disease.

  • Treatment

As with Alzheimer’s and dementia, there is no cure for Parkinson’s, although the progression of the disease can be slowed down with the help of drugs that can mimic, or even replace dopamine. Exercise is also a critical factor for managing the disease and mitigating the effects of the loss of mobility and balance caused by the disease. In some cases, deep brain stimulation surgery has also proven effective in combatting the disease.

Whether you or your loved one is suffering from reduced mobility, cognitive decline, or both, we can come up with a plan to help them here at Stillwater Senior Living. Everything from our Senior Messages to our new Lakeside Memory Care Neighborhood is designed to help our residents age in comfort and with dignity.

FMLA Facts for CaregiversCaring for a loved one who is aging and/or sick can be a full-time job, but many family members can’t afford to quit their jobs to become a caregiver for a loved one. They’ll need a job to come back to when their caregiving responsibilities have come to an end, and that’s what the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees. Unfortunately, a lot of people are still unsure of what, exactly, the FMLA provides and how it works, so we’re going to go over everything you need to know:

What Does the FMLA Provide?

The FMLA guarantees employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of leave from work if they or someone in their family has a qualifying health issue. The time off from work is unpaid, but employers are required to provide the same group health insurance benefits at the same premium while you’re on leave. Once you return to work, they are required to offer you at least your old job, or an equivalent position.

Although the federal law does not require employers to pay workers during their FMLA leave, many employers do offer at least partial payment during FMLA leave, and some states require employers to provide some form of payment during FMLA leave, so check your local laws to make sure you know everything you’re entitled to receive.

But not everyone is eligible to take leave under the FMLA, so let’s take a look at the requirements:

Who Is Eligible to Take Leave Under the FMLA?

In order to be eligible to take leave under the FMLA you must first work for a school; a public agency; a local, state, or federal employer; or a private employer who employs 50 or more workers for at least 20 workweeks of the year. You also need to work at a location that has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, which means you can’t work for an employer that has a small team at your location and more workers throughout the country, even if the total number of their workers adds up to 50 or more workers.

Second, you need to have worked for that employer for at least 12 months. The 12 months do not need to be consecutive, but you do need to have worked at least 1,250 hours within the last 12-month period before taking your FMLA leave – if you’re a full-time employee, this means you need to have worked full time for your current employer for at least 32 weeks before you can be eligible to take your FMLA leave.

When Can I Take FMLA Leave?

The FMLA allows workers to take time off if: they are unable to work due to a serious health condition; they need to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition (siblings, grandparents, and in-laws are not covered); they recently gave birth, adopted, or are fostering a child; or if they have certain urgent situations, such as caring for a family member who is on active duty or on call in the military and suffers from a serious injury or illness.

If you’re caring for an aging parent and you’re unable to take leave under the FMLA, or your 12 weeks of leave is about to expire, it might be time to consider assisted living. We’d love to answer all your questions about the assisted living services we provide, so reach out now to learn more. Watch this video to get a sneak peak of our Memory Care Neighborhood!

 

benefits of being a caregiverBeing a caregiver isn’t always easy, but it’s not all struggles and sacrifices. In fact, it’s a lot like being a parent – there are struggles and sacrifices, but there are also significant rewards that most often outweigh the bad. If you’re considering becoming a caregiver, either professionally or for a friend or family member (or both), here are some benefits you can expect to gain from taking on the role.

  • It Shows the True Colors of Those Around You

Being a caregiver can be a lonely experience. It’s easy to feel like no one else understands what you’re going through, but the people of quality in your life will offer a helping hand. If no one offers help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Too many caregivers are afraid to ask for help, which can lead them to feel overwhelmed and burned out. Be sure to avoid that fate by asking for help when you need it. The people who step up are the ones worth keeping in your life. The ones from whom you hear crickets are the ones you’re better off without.

  • You Can Make New Friends

Although your friends and family can help out, it’s true that no one really knows what you’re going through as a caregiver unless they’ve been there themselves. That’s why we recommend caregivers join a caregiver support group. It’s a chance to get together with other caregivers who understand your struggles and can give you tips and tricks to help you get through them. It’s also a chance to bond with other people who have had experiences similar to yours and hold the same values. Not only will you recognize the true friends you already had around you, but you’ll make some new ones.

  • You’ll Have a New Appreciation for What Really Matters

Being a caregiver can be an all-consuming job, and it can be tough to make time for yourself. Even though it’s essential to take some personal time to recharge, your time off will still be limited, which means you’ll find yourself making time for the things that really matter to you, while letting the less important matters fall by the wayside. You just might surprise yourself at what you choose to keep in your life and what you choose to let go.

  • It Can Bring You Closer to Your Loved One

If you’re caring for a parent or loved one, taking on the role of their caregiver can bring the two of you closer, even if you were already close to begin with. The chance to spend more time with your loved one towards the end of their life is a benefit that not everyone gets to enjoy, so make the most of it. Ask them about their childhood. How did they feel about becoming a parent? What was growing up like for them?

If you’re not close to your loved one, or if you’re still holding a grudge over something that happened in the past, becoming their caregiver can be an opportunity to resolve the negative feelings you have towards them. Not only do you have more of an opportunity to talk things over and see matters from their perspective, but seeing them in a vulnerable state can also help you move past your feelings of resentment and forgive them.

  • Conclusion

While taking on the role of caregiver has certainly proven beneficial to many people, it’s not a possibility for everyone. If you need professional help taking care of your loved one, reach out now to see how we can help your loved one live their best life in their golden years so the time you spend with them can be focused on games and reminiscing.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family. We are also excited to open our Memory Care Neighborhood in the Spring of 2020.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

caregiver burnoutIf you’re the sole caregiver of a parent or loved one, you’re at risk of burning out. Depending on the level of care your loved one needs and your other responsibilities, it can be difficult to find time to take care of yourself, but trust us when we say that doing so is absolutely necessary for your wellbeing, as well as that of your loved one.

If you’re constantly running around, attending to the needs of your loved one, you might not even notice if you’re burned out, so take a minute and see if any of these sound familiar:

  • You’re Always Tired

It’s one thing to feel tired at the end of a long day, or if you didn’t sleep well the night before, but if you find yourself feeling tired all day, every day, no matter how much sleep you got the night before, you could be suffering from caregiver burnout.

Sleeping more than normal is also a symptom of caregiver burnout, so if you’re sleeping more than usual and still feeling tired all the time, it’s time for a break.

At the same time, sleeping too little could also be a sign of caregiver burnout. If you’re always tired, but unable to sleep, it could be a sign of stress and an indication that you need some time off.

  • You’re Easily Irritated or Angry

If you find yourself snapping at your loved one and/or anyone else around you over the smallest inconveniences, it could be a sign that you’re burned out. Becoming consumed with anger when someone cuts you off in traffic or makes a simple mistake is also an indication that it’s time for a break.

At the extreme end, this can lead to thoughts of harming your loved one and/or yourself, in which case it’s definitely time to take some time for yourself and maybe find a professional you can talk to about your feelings.

  • Your Clothes No Longer Fit

Gaining or losing weight in significant amounts can be an indication that you’re stressed out and overworked. This may or may not go along with changes in eating patterns. Loss of appetite is commonly associated with both stress and depression, both of which are markers of burnout. On the other hand, if you find yourself stress eating, that’s also an indication that things are not going well and you need to take some time off.

  • Your Health is Declining

If you find yourself getting sick more often, developing headaches and/or other aches, pains, and/or indigestion, then it’s time to take a break before you become the one who needs a caregiver. New or worsening health problems are an indication that your body is unable to carry the load of stress and work you’re carrying and it’s time to get some help. Whether that means calling in friends or family members to take some of the load, or considering assisted living for your loved one, it’s important to get some kind of help before your health deteriorates irreparably.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family. We are also excited to open our Memory Care Neighborhood in the Spring of 2020.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

 


caregiver burnoutBeing a caregiver is a stressful job, putting a strain on your time, your resources, and most of all, your emotions. Unfortunately, there is no day off from being a caregiver. Your loved ones can’t control when they need you, and the more their abilities deteriorate, the more they’ll need you. It’s no wonder caregiver burnout can sneak up on you as all the stresses of the job pile up. Without a release, you’ll burn out, so we’ve come up with a list of things you can do to help you avoid that.

Talk to Someone

There are support groups for caregivers all over the country for people to get together and talk about the struggles of being a caregiver. Talking about your troubles always helps, even when the people listening can’t do anything to help. In the case of these support groups, knowing you’re not alone and that your feelings are perfectly normal can be a huge release and help you get back to your job as caregiver refreshed and ready to face whatever challenges may come your way.

If there isn’t a caregiver group in your area, start one of your own. If you can’t make it to meetings, just talking to a friend or relative about the strain can help relieve some of the pent-up emotions. At the very least, keep a journal where you can feel free to write it all out. Writing is an extremely cathartic exercise and has been shown to help with mental wellbeing and stability. It doesn’t even matter if you destroy everything you wrote when you’re done, what matters is the act of getting it all down on paper.

Set Aside Time for Yourself

It’s been said before and we’ll say it again: you can’t take care of others without first taking care of yourself. While many people (especially women) misinterpret taking time for themselves as being selfish, there’s nothing selfish about taking a break to recharge. On the contrary, doing so allows you to come back to the job better and stronger than ever, meaning you’re better able to fulfill your duties as a caretaker.

Be Realistic

Many of us want to solve the world’s problems, and even when we know on a logical level that it’s not possible, it doesn’t always stop us from overextending ourselves and agreeing to take on more responsibilities than we can handle.

When you take on the responsibility of caring for a loved one, it can be very tempting to say “yes” to everything. You’ll take care of their day-to-day needs and their nutritional needs and make sure they take all their medication and get them to each and every one of their doctor’s appointments, and handle all their finances, and why don’t you write up and notarize their will for them while you’re at it?

Taking care of a sick person who is losing control of their faculties is not like taking care of children (which is a full-time job in and of itself). Your senior relatives have built a life for themselves that will continue to follow them to the end – bank accounts, credit cards, savings, debt, assets, liabilities, etc. None of that includes the medical needs that can build up quickly as their body slowly deteriorates (unlike children, who are building up their capabilities as time goes on).

Know right away that you can’t handle your loved one’s life and your own life at the same time. Recognize your limits and agree to take on only a reasonable amount of duties that you know you can handle. This will mean asking for help from others and that’s OK because it means all of you will be able to provide your loved one with better care than you could provide by yourself.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.