Patient Perspective: Julie's Story

Julie's Story - Caring For Her Incontinent Mother

I’ve always been close to my Mom, but after my Dad passed away 5 years ago, we became closer than ever. We talked on the phone every day and I checked in with her every weekend. She was still very active, even after Dad passed, and continued to play golf every month, meet her girlfriends for bridge and walk her dog two times a day.  All of this changed when she had a stroke.

Suddenly, my very independent Mother was unable to do most things for herself.  Without a second thought, I took her in and cared for her as much as possible as she began her slow path to recovery. It was a shock to suddenly watch a woman that I always looked to for guidance become suddenly, completely dependent on me.  

I’m not going to lie - it’s been difficult at times.  She has always been a very proud woman and to have to ask for help for things like using the bathroom, or worse, to need help cleaning up after an accident, was mortifying for her and uncomfortable for me.  

After some trial and error, we finally developed a rhythm with each other and learned which products worked best for day and night. Even though it’s hard, I’m so grateful to still have my mom with me, and I can’t thank organizations like NAFC enough for providing education on management options during this difficult time of life. Help is there if you need it - you just need to know where to look.  

Julie F., Tampa, FL

NAFC's Top 8 Tips For Caregivers

Top 8 Tips For Caregivers

Top 8 Tips For Caregivers

Being a caregiver to someone you love is complicated work – it can be both rewarding, and draining all at once. The emotional and physical demands placed on a caregiver are many. Add to that the financial strain that many caregivers face and it’s easy to see how caregivers can become a bit stressed out at times.

Read below to learn our Top 8 Tips for Caregivers.

Learn To Take Care Of Yourself First.

Before you can even begin to care for someone else, you need to ensure that your own needs are met. Eating well, getting good sleep, and exercising regularly will help you stay healthy and energized. And don’t forget about taking regular breaks and time outs for yourself – it may seem like an extravagance, but fitting in a little alone time can do wonders for your mood.  You’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to take on the daily demands of caregiving.

Get Organized.

Medical files, legal documents, financial information – who knew that caregiving would involve so much paperwork! Get organized right from the start and create a system that will allow you to keep track of all your important records.  Also, speak with your loved one and make sure that you know their wishes for end of life care and make sure you get any paperwork needed in order.

Get The Help You Need.

There are lots of services out there that can help you manage the load of caregiving. Finding extra medical support, meal assistance, or even having a friend or family member help out for a few hours each week can help shoulder a lot of the burden of caregiving.

Simplify Your Own Life.

Taking care of someone else can make your other daily chores seem harder. Outsource what you can and automate everything else. Hire a cleaning person. Sign up for a food service like Blue Apron. Have your groceries delivered or set up an auto grocery list online for things that you purchase regularly. Set up automatic bill pay for your fixed expenses. Simplifying these things can help free up some of your precious time and energy, and help keep you from becoming overwhelmed.

Connect With Others.

Things are always easier when you have someone else to talk to. Sign up for one of the many online networks available to caregivers and chat with others who understand. You may even be able to find a local support group in your area. Here are some great networks to check out:

Find Ways To Connect With Your Loved One Daily.

With all the routine demands of caregiving – bathing, feeding, managing medications – it can be easy to forget one of the most important things an aging loved one needs – human connection. Don’t get so caught up in the daily demands that you forget to spend quality time with your loved one. Taking daily walks, reading or listening to audio books, playing card games, looking through old pictures or even just watching a favorite television show together can help make your loved one feel loved and connected. And telling them how much you love them will never get old.

Learn About Your Loved One’s Condition.

Learn as much as you can about any conditions that your loved one may be dealing with. Knowing what to expect and how to handle it can make a world of difference.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes.

Caregiving can sometimes be a thankless job, and it’s easy to see how frustrations can morph into feelings of bitterness or resentment toward your loved one. But the saying “Treat others how you would like to be treated” applies in this situation as well.  Think about how you would like to be cared for and try your best to understand your loved ones feelings and what they are going through.

Best Vitamins For MS

Best Vitamins For MS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system. When you have MS, you may experience a variety of symptoms ranging from mild, to severe.  Because the cause of MS is not known, most treatments target the symptoms of the disease.  There are many pharmaceuticals that are used to treat MS, but many people also use a variety of vitamins and supplements in addition to their conventional treatments to help alleviate their symptoms.  Check out this roundup by Everyday Health of the most common supplements that MS patients use to treat the condition. 

As always, remember to discuss any new treatment with your physician. 

Are there any other vitamins that you use to help treat your MS symptoms?

A Recipe To Treat Constipation

A Recipe To Treat Constipation

For the past few days, my 83 year-old father has been a little backed up. While under my care, he has experienced this several times and at first, we credited the changes to his decreased mobility.  However, we’re discovering it’s likely the medications he’s started taking for his Parkinson’s.  Not only is his constipation uncomfortable for him, but it has also started to affect his control of his bladder.

Constipation is common among the elderly.  There are many potential causes for it – poor diet, depression or other medical condition, irregular toileting routines, medications.  It may also be a cause of bladder control problems.  When the rectum is full of stool, it may disturb the bladder and cause the sensation of urgency and frequency.

A common remedy for constipation is extra fiber in the diet.  I’ve found the recipe below helps my Dad become a bit more regular.  It can be stored in the fridge or freezer.  I’ve taken to making batches of it and freezing pre-measured servings in ice cube trays to thaw as needed.  Not only does this make prep a little easier, my Dad thinks the slightly frozen mixture is soothing and refreshing.  Begin with two tablespoons each evening, followed by one 6 to 8 ounce glass of water or juice.  After 7 to 10 days, increase this to 3 tablespoons.  At the end of the second to third week, increase it to 4 tablespoons. We usually see an improvement in Dad’s bowel habits in about two weeks. 

Special Recipe To Treat Constipation

  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup prune juice
  • Spices as desired (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)