The Caregiver Connection Newsletter is a free publication of the Baltimore County Department of Aging (BCDA).
October, November and December 2022
Stories in This Issue:
- Annual Caregivers Conference
- Activities for Caregivers to Engage with their Care Partner
- Kinship Caregivers
- Book Review of Redefining Aging: A Caregiver’s Guide to Living Your Best Life
- Introduction of OPAL Senior Center
- Assistive Technology Highlight
This year’s Caregiver Conference is designed to provide family caregivers tips, tools and resources to continue in their role providing the best care possible. Our Keynote Speaker is Denise Brown who comes to us with many years’ experience as a family caregiver, passionate writer and trainer. Denise was named an Influencer in Aging in 2017 by Next Avenue. Register early and be sure to mark your calendar and share with other caregivers.
Resilience During Caregiving. Resilience is energy; we need to take care of that energy in order to bounce back from our challenging circumstances. During a personal caregiving experience, we may not have that kind of energy because the demands of our day exhaust us. In this workshop, we take a closer look at what drains us during our caregiving experience and discuss ways to find and keep our energy.
Tech Tools for Caregivers from the newly formed University of Maryland iTAP: Information Technology for the Aging Person. Facilitated by Galina Madjaroff Reitz, PhD, Faculty Program Director at College of Information Studies (UMD iSchool) University of Maryland and students of the program. We have requested they share apps that are helping families coordinate care and anything else that applies to the family caregiver.
Plan Your Respite in Place Space. When you care for a family member, you may find it difficult to get a break. You may struggle to find and hire help. You may need to be close by because of the complex care needs of your care partner. You may not have family members who can help. When you can’t leave, we’ll help you get a break right where you are. We’ll help you put a Respite In Place plan so you can create a space to call your own in your home, your yard and your community.
Register online for the Annual Caregiver Conference.
Caregiving is often filled with tasks that are necessary, time-sensitive and can’t be ignored. These tasks end up controlling the day leaving no time to enjoy one another’s company. The medical community is prescribing social activities as a means to enhance health. Caregivers can benefit from incorporating social activities into their caregiving because their care partner may show improved physical health, a more upbeat emotional health and overall improved relationship connectedness. Sometime we need to put the tasks aside and enjoy one another’s company.
Engaging in activities together does more than just pass the time. Below you will find a list of suggestions that may stimulate conversation, tap into the creative side, distract from pain and perhaps stir up positive memories. When we take the time to relax and turn off our stress brain, our whole body responds because the stress hormones are also shut down; then you may see the creative, problem -solving part of brain switch on.
Art provides many benefits from relaxation to reminiscence to self-expression. Consider coloring, painting, drawing, reading poetry and woodworking.
Music benefits everyone—including the caregiver—and can help with relieving stress, reducing agitation and providing a positive connection when communication is difficult.
We all need to laugh even in the most challenging of circumstances. Choose laughter yoga or watch some funny TV shows or movies. Improvisation can assist with communication when there are cognitive challenges.
Play games including board games, puzzles, Legos, cards, word search and Sudoku.
Find help for grandparents and other relatives who have become a child’s primary care provider. Through a grant from the Baltimore County Local Management Board, BCDA Caregivers Program partners with Baltimore County Department of Social Services to support grandparents with primary care of grandchildren. Services include The Kinship Navigator Program, newsletter with informative articles and a stipend that can be used for supplemental items for the child’s needs.
For more information, call 410-887-TIME (8463).
By Ann Kaiser Stearns, PhD
Caring for a family member can be overwhelming. But fulfilling life experiences are still possible for both caregivers and their loved ones, despite the stress and fatigue of caregiving. In this book, Ann Kaiser Stearns explores the practical and personal challenges of both caregiving and successful aging. In her engaging, conversational tone, Stearns shares stories and lessons from many resilient caregivers. She couples findings from the latest research with powerful insights and problem-solving tips to help caregivers achieve the best life possible for those they care for—and for themselves as they age. Redefining Aging will help readers think differently about caregiving and their own aging. It will also help them empathize with and interact positively with their elderly loved ones while imagining a positive future for themselves.
BCDA is excited to open their 21st Senior Center—The OPAL Center—which stands for Online Programs for Adult Learning. However, there are no doors or walls at this virtual senior center and members will participate in classes and programs online! More than 40 weekly class offerings such as fitness, line dance, Spanish, crafting, writing, meditation, Zentangle, drawing or watercolor, virtual tours of museums, cooking workshops, journaling, health topics, and more.
Assistive technology can enhance caregivers' well-being because of its potential for alleviating a number of stressors associated with caregiving. From mobility devices, wearables and apps there has been an increase in healthcare technology available to the aging population. The following devices can be helpful to someone who is in the beginning stages of memory loss. With the Holidays coming up it can be a great gift idea.
Appliance Use Monitors
Safety can become a concern when forgetting to turn off an appliance becomes an issue as someone advances through the stages of Alzheimer’s. Appliance use monitors can alert a caregiver if an appliance has not been turned off. These devices plug into a power strip or wall outlet and allow you to monitor, usually on your phone, whether your loved one has remembered to power down. They can be voice-controlled and allow you to easily turn something off if your loved one forgot.
Read past editions of the Caregiver Connection newsletter: