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Francis Scott Key Bridge Incident Updates 
County offices are closed on Monday, May 27, for Memorial Day.

The Caregiver Connection Newsletter is a free publication of the Baltimore County Department of Aging (BCDA).

April, May, June 2024

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Stories in This Issue:

Spring Mini-Conference 2024

How would you describe your caregiving journey? Challenging? Rewarding? Isolating? Frustrating? Everyone’s journey is multifaceted in a way that not only requires dedication to care for a care partner, but also dedication to finding balance in the process of cultivating a healthy caregiving experience.

First step in Finding Balance in Caregiving is to join Spring Mini-Conference on Thursday, May 9, 2024, from 9 a.m. to noon, hosted by the Caregiver Support Program. This is a free event to educate caregivers on how to find balance in caregiving. Speakers will present on the following topics:

  • Find Caregiving Balance: Care Planning Tips. Join The Options Group to learn tips and information on navigating the care plan process at home and how that can differ from care planning for a loved one in a facility.
  • Find Physical Balance: Fall Prevention Tips. Join an Occupational Therapist to learn tips on fall prevention and safety proofing your home to prevent serious injuries for you and your loved ones.
  • Find Financial Balance: Budgeting Tips. Join a CPA to learn budgeting techniques and information about financial planning for health care needs.
  • Find Mental Health Balance: Brain Health Tips. Join a Dementia Specialist to learn the latest research and resources for daily practices for self-care and keeping our brains sharp.

There will be two chances to win a gift card. Registration is required by Wednesday, May 8 at 4 p.m.

Dimensions of Wellness

Balance is described as an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady (Dictionary.com). When juggling all aspects of caregiving, it is not uncommon for caregivers to feel unbalanced in their life. Understanding holistic health can give you a better idea of all of the different dimensions of wellness, which you should take into account to create a better balance.

In order to create balance while caregiving, we must examine a variety of dimensions. These include:

  • Social Health: Social health is learning to connect with and get support from family, friends, and community
  • Emotional Health: The ability to learn to cope with emotional difficulties and how our emotions effect our decision making, relationships, and lives
  • Occupational Health: Addresses the importance of satisfaction, enrichment and meaning through work
  • Spiritual Health: Recognizing faith and religion as well as nature meditation and recognizing how one connects with their inner soul
  • Intellectual Health: Exercising the mind, learning new things, expanding upon knowledge and skills
  • Financial Health: Practices that help you manage your financial life better, such as budgeting, saving, investing, debt management, and insurance
  • Physical Health: Wellbeing of the body and proper functioning of the organs and systems
  • Environmental Health: Aspects of the natural and built environment that affect human health

Out of this list, take a minute to think about what you are managing and what you could potentially manage better to avoid spreading yourself too thin. Some tips the Caregiver Support Program can offer are:

  1. Create an assistance plan—If it is not feasible to hire a home care agency, consider using family or seeing if your religious congregation offers volunteers that can perform light housekeeping, companionship, meal prep, medication reminders, etc.
  2. Set boundaries—Being sure you are with your loved one and overseeing care is undoubtedly important, however, be sure to create time and space to incorporate things that are fulfilling to you such as a relaxing bath, an exercise class, attending a book club, or anything else that is meaningful to you.
  3. Establish a schedule—Understandably, things will arise that are not planned, but sticking to a routine can establish familiarity and help you and your care partner keep track of things that need to be done in your caregiving situation. Focus on things like wake and sleep schedules, meals, medications, and therapies and appointments.
  4. Get acclimated with your workplace benefits—If you are a caregiver still in the work force, familiarize yourself with your employee handbook and your Human Resource Department to understand your benefits, resources, and other things like family leave, counseling and even financial assistance.

Celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

It might not be possible to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day like you did in times past. Some things you can still do to make these occasions special for you both are:

  • Making a special meal at home. Try your hand at sprucing up an ordinary dinner by making a special menu or hosting a cookout with a photo slide show playing for the whole family to see.
  • Ask your mom or dad questions about their life and really listen to the responses. To make their memories last longer, consider jotting down her responses in a journal or recording her responses so the whole family can keep it as a memento.
  • If possible, go on a scenic ride. A change of scenery can boost your loved one’s mood and get them out of the house to see the beautiful picturesque beauty of nearby parks, lakes, etc.

The Book Nook

When is Enough, Enough? A Positive Approach To Finding Balance in Caregiving”

Authors: Teepa Snow, Christine Browdy, Daniel Bulgarelli

Caregiving is a transformative journey that might leave you wondering how to keep your head above water. In When is Enough, Enough? A Positive Approach To Finding Balance in Caregiving”, learn how to identify areas in your life that need strengthening to have a more balanced caregiving journey—one where your essential needs are met while you are giving compassion and care to your care partners.

Compassion Fatigue

Are you a caregiver experiencing reduced feelings of empathy, emotional detachment, loss of interest in your favorite activities or increased conflict in your personal relationships? It could be possible that you are experiencing compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is a term that describes the physical, emotional, and psychological impact of caring for others—often through experiences of stress or trauma. Sometimes compassion fatigue is mistaken for burnout, which, although similar, has notable differences. While burnout is one part of this form of fatigue, it is fatigue that builds over time. Compassion fatigue, on the other hand, encompasses a more specific experience. Over time, your ability to feel and care for others become eroded through overuse of your skills of compassion. Some coping mechanisms to consider to reduce compassion fatigue and keep balance in your life are:

  • If you feel overwhelmed and out of control, take a moment to think about what you do have control over and what you can change.
  • Establish a good self-care routine that includes eating healthy, getting more exercise and getting enough sleep.
  • Reach out to others for support, whether that’s friends, family or a peer support group.
  • Set aside time for meaningful activity and find ways to connect with loved ones.
  • Take a break from the news and limit the time you spend online every day.

If you have given these things a try and still feel overwhelmed, it’s important to seek out professional help which could help ease the symptoms of anxiety, stress and exhaustion while also exploring healthy coping mechanisms.

Sources: https://www.cma.ca/physician-wellness-hub/

Accessible Travel and Traveling with A Disability

Traveling with a disability or with a loved one with a disability can be intimidating. There are many accommodations and accessible travel locations to make your trip enjoyable. Consider the following tips for a more seamless travel experience.

  • Prepare a travel health kit with items that might be difficult to find at your destinations such as your prescriptions and over the counter medications. Be sure to include extras. In the event you are traveling on an airline, be sure to pack your medication in your carry-on bag instead of a checked bag to avoid it being lost or delayed for any reason. Some other things to include in your kit could be insect repellents, hand sanitizers, masks, disinfectant wipes, and insurance and prescription cards.
  • Carry medical alert information: A letter from your physician about you or your loved one’s specific medical conditions as well as potential complications.
  • Research the availability of wheelchairs and other medical equipment. Consider renting a wheelchair and any medical equipment at your destination.
  • Websites such as https://www.miusa.org/ or  https://www.accessibletourism.org/ to find information on overseas medical equipment providers.

Sources: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/disability

Past Editions of Caregiver Connection

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Contact Us

Caregivers Program

Bykota Senior Center
611 Central Avenue
Towson, Maryland 21204

Hours

Monday through Friday
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Phone

Caregivers Program Manager

Kathleen Koenig-Stoffel, M.S.