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How to Put Self-Care First as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

How to Put Self-Care First as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

As we celebrate both National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness and National Family Caregivers Month this November, we pay homage to the unsung heroes who unselfishly and unconditionally provide top-notch care day after day after day. This is a tall order, indeed, considering the stressful nature of the job. In fact, it’s widely reported that Alzheimer's caregivers experience higher levels of stress.

It goes without saying that Alzheimer's caregivers are particularly susceptible to burnout. Feelings of overwhelm and frustration are not at all uncommon, as are exhaustion and discouragement. If left unchecked, these could result in a barrage of physical discomforts like headaches, chest pains, and stomach cramps, as well as pave the way for bad habits like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and compulsive eating.

Suffice it to say, in the same way that you take care of your loved one or patient, you should do the same for yourself. Doing so not only guarantees that you’re able to do your job well, but also helps you manage stress and boost your own quality of life in the process. Here’s how you can prioritize your own needs through self-care.

Take care of your health.

When working as a caregiver, you have to know that your health is just as important as your patient’s. Unfortunately, this is not being acknowledged enough, which is a common pitfall among caregivers.

Needless to say, if your health is far down your list of priorities, it might be high time to change your mindset. It’s a good idea to have a checklist of sorts to help you stay on track. One thing to account for is to make sure you are getting the right amount of nutrients for your body. This can come in the form of meal planning with healthier foods and filling in any nutrient gaps in your diet by taking multivitamins. In fact, multivitamins can do wonders for improving your energy levels, gut health, and even skin, so they’re great additions to your healthcare arsenal, along with a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Take care of your body.

Much of taking care of your health relies heavily on how well you take care of your body. As a caregiver, you are undoubtedly expected to be on your feet for hours on end, so physical exhaustion is inevitable. This makes exercise absolutely crucial as being fit will enable you to go the distance and meet the physical demands of the job.

Thankfully, the sky is the limit when it comes to exercise. Regular walking or hiking can be great additions to your routine, as are cycling or swimming. For more motivation, you can also consider joining a gym or fitness center. Seniors, in particular, have an edge as your Medicare Advantage coverage could make you eligible for Silver Sneakers, a wellness program that gives older adults access to gyms and fitness centers all over the country, which, in turn, allows you to take advantage of exercise classes like yoga and Zumba and partake in senior group activities. In addition to wellness programs, Medicare Advantage plans typically come with expanded benefits for vision, dental care and prescriptions.

Take care of your thoughts.

As demanding as being a caregiver is physically, no doubt it exacts an even higher toll mentally. It is important, therefore, to also take heed of your thoughts. As a rule of thumb, you need to be mentally prepared with a personal support plan in place to overcome the fatigue and isolation that often comes with the job. This means getting adequate knowledge and updating your skills, as well as talking to someone or joining a support group. Making use of relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and meditation also helps, as well as having a day-to-day routine.

Indeed, caring for someone with Alzheimer's is definitely not for the fainthearted. You are no doubt made of strong stuff—and you will only get stronger still through self-care and good habits. So hat’s off to you, this month and always!

Image Credit: Photo via Unsplash.com

NavCare Offers CCM Services to CareSync Clients

NavCare Offers CCM Services to CareSync Clients

On June 22, 2018, CareSync Inc., a health care tech company, ceased its business operations and closed its offices in Tampa and Wauchula, Florida. In a statement posted on the company website, CareSync said, “During our wind-down, we want all of our stakeholders to be assured that patient data will remain protected. CareSync servers will continue to be operational, appropriately secured and accessible by our customers and members.” That’s is a good thing and should bring some comfort to those who received their chronic care management services. The people most affected by this closure are the patients whose health is already in difficulty; the last thing they need is to lose faith in their care providers.

Since the news was released, there have been several companies who have posted notices offering chronic care management (CCM) services. Some are healthcare management companies, others are healthcare tech companies. But, few are healthcare companies offering the assurance of trust, with a history of healthcare to back up that trust. NavCare is that healthcare company. NavCare is a division of US CareNet, a healthcare company with more than 30 years of experience providing chronic care management to seniors across the country, as part of its home health care services. In fact, US CareNet’s home health agencies have been providing coordination of care, with or without payment by Medicare, for all of its 30 plus years. The NavCare division of US CareNet was launched in 2015, in direct response to CMS’ chronic care management program. We have grown our NavCare division slowly and deliberately, developing our software, building our care center (not call center), establishing relationships with our clients, and finally, providing care management to thousands of patients across the country.

NavCare’s skilled clinicians and dynamic software program enable NavCare to meet all the components of Medicare’s chronic care management and transitional care management programs. We are caregivers at heart with a passion to serve and we understand that patient care doesn’t stop on nights, weekends and holidays. That’s why NavCare offers patients 24/7 access to nurses, whether they need a prescription refill or medical advice. We take care of patients like our clients do, because at the end of the day, NavCare is a healthcare company that cares.

Any time a business closes, it's a sad day. The loss of income for hundreds of people will have a profound impact on the families of these people, as well as on their communities. But even more disconcerting is the loss of care to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. The questions on everyone’s mind must be, “Now what?” “Where do we go from here?” “Who will pick up where CareSync left off?” We have one answer to all these questions: NavCare.

If you are a healthcare provider searching for CCM for your patients, please call Jim Barlar, Vice President of Business Development for NavCare, at 706-825-2343 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Regardless of what company you choose for chronic care management, be sure they are one with a foundation in healthcare and have a solid history of care management. Your patients and loved ones deserve nothing less.

Patient-Centered Care Management Crucial for Aging Population Healthcare

Patient-Centered Care Management Crucial for Aging Population Healthcare

I think most of us envision ourselves living until a ripe old age with some discomfort of aging but basically healthy and independent. The fact is, that’s really the exception these days rather than the rule. Why? Because we are living longer and experiencing what I’ll call “reasonable wear and tear” of aging and a much higher rate of chronic illness than ever before. As a result of these factors, it is readily apparent that our current healthcare system and supply of healthcare providers and caregivers will simply be insufficient to take care of our rapidly aging and increasingly chronically ill population in the not too distant future.

Consider these facts. By 2030, just 12 years from now, 20% of out total population will be retirement age or 65. All of us baby boomers will be at least 65. By 2035, the over-65 population will be larger than the under-18 population for the first time in the history of this country. Now that might sound great to those in the business of creating environments and services for that ever-increasing population but, and this is a big but, the traditional model of simply aggregating aging people into common living arrangements and entertaining them until they reach a ripe old age and comfortably transition to the hereafter, just is not going to work any more. Why? Again, because this population is growing sicker and faster than our current healthcare infrastructure and system can handle. Our current healthcare and caregiver system cannot and is not designed to help the aging, chronically ill population make the behavior changes necessary to manage their chronic illness and health and wellness regardless of their living environment. Our current structure is built to just do stuff to people when they have exacerbations of conditions with the idea we can stabilize them until there is another exacerbation and the cycle just continues over and over.

The good news is there is a new keen interest in creating a new approach to managing this aging chronically ill population. We are looking past the old paradigm of creating more hospitals, investing in more machines and doing more and more procedures on the heels of more and more diagnostic tests. This new approach involves frequent personal intervention with patients to guide their behavior towards managing lifestyle behaviors in such a way to optimize their well-being and minimize the impact of their chronic conditions. In so doing, we drive down the costs associated with the traditional healthcare system approach and improve the life of the patient at the same time. Some of this intervention will, no doubt in the future, be driven by technology that allows us to capture real time data. This technology is already available and when coupled with personal intervention becomes a powerful tool in assisting the patient and that patient’s caregivers and healthcare providers. That technology also enables us to access data and provide predictive analytics that benefit current and future patients.

True, patient-centered care management, not costs management, applied to the most vulnerable patient population on a timely basis, is the solution needed now, more than ever, to create a better, more efficient, more responsive healthcare system, while creating positive differences in patient outcomes allowing patients to live healthier, happier, more productive lives.

Organizations, whether they are senior living organizations or more traditional healthcare provider organizations who adopt this patient-centered care management approach, will be far more successful in the future than those that don’t.

NavCare, backed by experienced caregivers and years of healthcare experience, partners with senior living organizations and healthcare provider organizations to deliver comprehensive care management services and technology that deliver better patient engagement and outcomes. The result is higher patient and resident satisfaction with resulting improved revenue for healthcare providers and senior living organizations.

Don't Turn Away from CCM

When your doctor talks to you about chronic care management, do you tune him out?

Don't Turn Away from CCM

Do you think that even though you're retired, you're too active to need it? Chronic care management, CCM, is a Medicare reimbursed care coordination program for senior adults with two or more chronic medical conditions, like hypertension, asthma, COPD, depression, or arthritis, and much more. It helps for things like coordination of care and providing 24/7/365 access to a healthcare professional. It is at least 20 minutes of non-face-to-face care for you. Much of what is done is behind the scenes and as a Medicare beneficiary, you have a right to it, if you need it. So, before you tune your doctor out, learn a little bit more about it. Here are a couple links that will help you in your research.


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