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Family Caregiver

Great ways for caregivers to improve the lives of seniors

Great ways for caregivers to improve the lives of seniors

By  June Duncan of Rise Up for Caregivers

Quality of life matters at any age. If you’re a caregiver for a senior, you probably see that your loved one could benefit from improvement but you may not be sure how to help. You may even harbor concerns for your loved one’s safety. Here are some suggestions to help provide the best living environment and lifestyle for your beloved senior.

Reducing risks

Safety first: Making small modifications to your senior loved one’s home can reduce risks of falls and other safety concerns. Here are some simple things experts recommend installing to help keep your senior safe:

  • Safety bars and hand-holds in the bathroom around showers, tubs and toilets
  • Motion-activated lighting
  • A home security system
  • Peepholes in entry doors

Technology: Technology offers many ways to help seniors stay more active and independent. The professionals at LifeHack suggest using electronic heart monitors, medication reminders, and alert systems. Cell phones and applications such as Skype and FaceTime can help you keep in touch from far away.


Out and about.


Exercise: Staying active is good for people of all ages. Exercise can improve mental outlook and well-being. It also can facilitate better brain function and reduce a number of health risks. The CDC offers some great guidelines for seniors, recommending both aerobic and strength activities.

Transportation: Many seniors suffer occasional issues from medications or ailments which prevent driving, and some seniors reach the point that driving is no longer an option at all. The AARP offers these recommendations as alternatives to driving:

  • Friends and family can volunteer to drive or you could pay them a nominal fee
  • Senior organizations and faith organizations often offer transportation services
  • Public transportation, taxis, and shuttle services
  • Private car services can be hired if there is an ongoing need

A note of concern. AgingCare points out that ending the era of driving oneself is pivotal for seniors. Giving up driving can mean loss of independence, routine, and a sense of identity. Seniors sometimes keep driving in spite of hearing or vision loss, or bouts of confusion. Many seniors don’t realize there are options available and continue to drive, even when their ability is declining. In fact, fatal driving accidents are predicted to triple by the year 2030. It’s imperative to intervene if your senior shouldn’t be driving due to declining health or cognitive ability. Be persistent and creative in seeking solutions.


Togetherness. Connecting is important for mental health. According to some experts, seniors who are lonely are at a higher risk for dementia and live shorter lives. Make sure your loved one still has a social life. Here are some suggestions:

  • Stay involved with faith organizations
  • Find a hobby your senior can enjoy
  • Encourage attendance at parties and family events, such as showers, graduations, birthdays and holidays
  • Volunteer at charities and community organizations
  • Arrange for family or friends to take your senior to lunch or visit over a cup of coffee
  • Get involved with senior centers
  • Arrange transportation for activities if your senior is no longer driving


Everyone feels better if they feel needed. Giving your senior tasks can help improve their mood  and outlook. Ask for help with things still within your loved one’s scope of ability, such as folding laundry, preparing meals, running errands together, making to-do lists and shopping lists, sorting mail and organizing drawers.

Better quality of life

Take steps to improve life for your senior. Reduce risks and safety concerns. Use technological advances for support and to stay in touch. Help your loved one with getting out and about, and encourage your senior to stay involved. Through these simple measures, you can promote a better everyday life for your senior.


How many caregivers are there in America?

Approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months.[National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]

  • About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
  • The majority of caregivers (82%) care for one other adult, while 15% care for 2 adults, and 3% for 3 or more adults. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
  • About 15.7 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer's disease or other dementia. [Alzheimer's Association. (2015). 2015 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures.]

Read more at the

According to estimates from the National Alliance for Caregiving, during the past year, 65.7 million Americans (or 29 percent of the adult U.S. adult population involving 31 percent of all U.S. households) served as family caregivers for an ill or disabled relative.

Seven in ten caregivers are non-Hispanic White, 13 percent are African-American, and 2 percent each are Hispanic or Asian-American (National Alliance for Caregiving, 2009).

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How Can I Prevent Caregiver Burnout?

It is really easy to feel like you need to be a hero, but you are human. You are facing something really complex and challenging. It would be bizarre if it wasn't overwhelming sometimes. It would be very weird if you were happy all the time about caregiving. The first thing you need to know above all other things is that your feelings are normal. You are doing a hero's work but you are a human being and caring for yourself is so very important.

Here are some steps you can take to help prevent caregiver burnout:

  1. Talk to someone. If you can speak with a therapist. Talk to friends. Make sure you have someone that you can vent with, share your fears and open up. 
  2. It is ok to get help. It is ok to really push your other family members to step up. Again, you are human and this is hard work. 
  3. It can be hard to face the challenges that your family member is struggling with. Make sure you have an outside observer that can help you to keep perspective. 
  4. Go for a walk. Go to the gym. Get sleep. Take a bath. This is a marathon not a sprint. Taking time for yourself is going to help everyone. 
  5. Take advantage of respite care services. Respite care provides a temporary break for caregivers. 
  6. Try to limit alcohol. It is super easy to feel like you need a few drinks to unwind at the end of a long day. It would be reasonable to feel that way. Try to keep your health in check by using other ways to unwind when possible. 

Top 10 Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout

Almost everyone will become a caregiver of someone over the age of 50 at some point in your life. Most of us are not prepared for caregiving and when we embark on that path it is really easy to become susceptible to 'caregiver burnout'. It is really important to recognize the signs of burnout and to make sure you get the help you need. 

  1. Withdrawal from friends and family
  2. Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  3. Feeling depressed
  4. Increase or decrease in appetite, weight, or both
  5. Disrupted sleep patterns
  6. Getting sick more often
  7. Feelings of self harm or the person for whom you are caring
  8. Emotional and physical exhaustion
  9. Excessive use of alcohol and/or sleep medications
  10. Irritability

We will be writing about ways to handle caregiver burnout!