Wednesday, December 20, 2017

9 Considerate Gifts for the Caregiver in Your Life

By Chloe Pearson


We all know someone who provides care for another. Perhaps it’s a new mom with young children and a sleepless infant or an adult providing 24/7 care for their own aged mother or father. This holiday season, give a gift that shows you care. Here are nine ideas to get you started.


An opportunity to rest. Providing care to another human being, despite being a labor of love, is a full-time job that takes a toll on a person’s body, mind, and soul. If your budget is small, you can still give a big gift by setting aside an afternoon once a month to step into the caregiver’s shoes.


Spa day. When you’re a caregiver, stress is par for the course of an average day. But over time, this stress can compound and have a negative impact on mental health, which can affect their life in many unfortunate ways. Encourage your recipient to take an afternoon off by providing them with a gift certificate for a massage or manicure. Having an opportunity to step away from the pressures of life will give them the chance to reboot and may encourage them to do more to ensure their own physical and mental health needs are taken care of.


Spiritual or Religious Texts/Readings. In the hustle and bustle of the day, it continues to be important to tend to matters of faith or spirituality. Show your loved one you care about them from here to eternity by giving them a book or text that can affirm their spiritual or religious beliefs.


Home-cooked meals. It’s often difficult for caregivers to sit down and fix a proper meal for themselves. But you can help ensure your friend or family member’s nutritional needs are met by setting up a meal train and providing a few home-cooked dinners. Get together with other members of your family or community to see if you can provide dinner every night for a month.


A clean home. Caregivers will be especially grateful for an hour or two of maid service and someone to do the laundry, even if it’s just once.


Home maintenance. Whether it’s cleaning the gutters, unclogging a drain, or simply painting the mailbox, everyone has projects they don’t have time to complete. Offer to handle their to-do list and you’ll see a weight lifted off their shoulders almost immediately.


Time to indulge in personal pursuits. According to Vantage Point Behavioral Health & Trauma Healing Center, having a hobby is a great way to stimulate the mind and stave off depression. Consider scheduling a painting class or book club meeting for your gift recipient and make sure they can get away to attend. Do this once a month for a year and your gift will be the one they remember.


Gift certificate for yoga/fitness class. Even if the recipient isn’t a gym rat, he or she will appreciate the chance to indulge in a little physical activity that doesn’t involve cooking or cleaning. If they can’t (or won’t) get away long enough to join a class, consider gifting a yoga mat and DVD set.


A sincere “thank you” for their efforts. Being a caregiver is often thankless. Dementia patients may be cruel in their words and infants often cry for no discernible reason. What you loved one really wants is to be noticed and recognized for all they do. If you’re low on cash, a heartfelt note with encouraging words in a priceless gift from the heart.


Regardless of your budget, there are many creative and thoughtful ways to show you care. It’s not about the price tag but about meeting their needs and offering a helping hand where you can. Remember, we’re only on Earth for a limited time so help those who help others enjoy every moment.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Caregiver Trainings

By Deanna Leyh

Familylinks' Caregivers First Initiative is offering trainings on various caregiving topics for caregivers, businesses and agencies, and employers. If you or someone you know is looking for trainings on caregiving issues, check out our free trainings below and contact us if you find one that interests you! Familylinks is looking to increase community awareness and knowledge of caregiving and related issues, so we are hoping to reach as many community members as possible through the Caregivers First Initiative and through FREE trainings and presentations that we offer to the public.

The New Second Shift: Balancing Your Work with Family Caregiving
Many people are working full- or part-time jobs while also caring for a family member, friend, neighbor, etc., which can be very stressful. Working caregivers often struggle with maintaining their careers while fulfilling their caregiving duties at the same time. Learn about strategies and community resources to help balance your work life with being a caregiver.

Understanding Dementia
Whether you’re a caregiver, a family member, a friend, or a professional, many people are in some way affected by dementia. Learn about different types of dementia, the disease-process, common symptoms and behaviors, as well as best-practice tips and strategies to help support people living with dementia.

Tough Topics in Aging  
When you’re caring for someone who is aging, it can be tough to assist them through the changes that are needed in their lives to keep them safe.  Learn about the different types of issues that may arise as people age and strategies to help you have the difficult conversations about those issues like: when to stop driving, long-term care arrangements, changes in condition, advance directives and end-of-life wishes, grief and bereavement, just to name a few.  

Stress Management
Stress is a part of everyone’s life—some stress can be good, but what do you do when stress starts to impact your ability to perform your daily tasks and enjoy your day? Learn about different types of stress, short-term and long-term stress management, and a variety of tips and techniques to help manage your stress.

Better Business Practices: Supporting Caregivers in Your Workforce
With an increase in how long people are living, there are more non-paid family caregivers of older adults. Many of those caregivers are still in the workforce trying to balance caregiving with working. Learn about the strategies and beneficial outcomes of supporting caregivers in your workforce. 

Family Caregiving 101
Becoming a caregiver for an older adult can lead to isolation, stress, and poor health. Learn about resources and tools you need to cope with the demands of caregiving.

Managing the Medical Maze
Caregiver’s help those they’re caring for navigate complex medical systems. Learn resources and strategies for managing appointments, physician interactions, insurances, medications and more. 

*We may also develop trainings based on a specific topic you have in mind.

If interested in any of these trainings, please contact Deanna Leyh Page at 412-694-6146 or by email at

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Having Trouble Communicating with your Loved One?

By Deanna Leyh

Are you having trouble communicating with your loved one? Maybe they have dementia and are having difficulty understanding you or processing what you say to them. Or perhaps they have trouble hearing, and it’s difficult for them to separate voices from background noise or hearing certain frequencies. Whatever the reason may be, there are some things that may be able to help you communicate better with your loved one.

It may sound obvious, but speak loudly, clearly, and slowly. You may be thinking, “Well, duh!”, but it’s something you need to remind yourself of from time to time when you talk with them. Remember not to shout, but to speak loudly and to try to enunciate your words and not to slur them together. Also, speak slowly—it may sound to you like you’re speaking at a snail’s pace. However, it can be hard for some people to separate words from each other when others are speaking too fast.

You can also try to get closer to your loved when you speak with them and get down on their level. It may also help to gesture or use your hands or objects to demonstrate what you’re talking about so that your loved one may better understand. Also, if there is a lot of background noise, it can be difficult to keep track of the conversation; if necessary, turn down the volume on the radio or the television. Or if there’s a lot of people around for the holidays, perhaps talk with them beforehand about not being too loud or boisterous around your loved one. Don’t forget to take a deep breath and remain calm, because when you get frustrated or angry, it can get your loved one frustrated too.

Sometimes the issue isn’t their actual hearing, but that they have trouble processing language or understanding the meaning of certain words, such as if they have dementia. If this is the case, perhaps also try to break down the directives that you’re giving your loved one. For example, instead of saying “Mom, get ready to go to the grocery store,” instead say, “Mom, slide your feet into your shoes. Now let’s put your jacket on. Let’s get your purse.” When you give more simple directives, it’s a good idea to give one at a time, and pause between directives to give them time to process. You may need to break down the language that you’re using and use simpler terms that they understand. Also, you may need to demonstrate what you mean, or assist them with certain steps.

If they seem to be having trouble picking up certain sounds or frequencies, perhaps think about taking them to an audiologist to see about assistive devices that can help them hear better, such as hearing aids or amplifiers. It can be depressing, frustrating, and isolating for older adults to hear a third of the conversation and feel like they can’t participate in the discussion because they don’t know what everyone is saying. Remember to be respectful when talking them about their hearing or processing difficulties.