Category: Support System

How Does Our Mental Health Change as we Age?

Thank you to JaNae Gregg, UNC Student Volunteer and Guest Blogger.

The aging process comes with many changes for our bodies, but a common change that gets overlooked is how our mental health changes.  The change in our mental health can be misunderstood for the common physical changes that can occur from aging. Some of these symptoms can reveal themselves as lack of motivation, fatigue, and forgetfulness.  One way to be able to recognize when a symptom is cause for a mental health concern includes: stable intellectual functioning, capacity for change, and productive engagement with life. When fatigue and lack of motivation begin to interfere with how a person interacts within their daily life, then it could become a possible warning sign that they are suffering from poor mental health.  It is easy to misinterpret physical changes with mental health since the two typically go hand in hand with one another. For example, if a person suffers from heart problems or diabetes then they are more likely to develop poor mental health. On the other hand, people who suffer from depression and/or anxiety are more likely to develop physical problems that could include lack of energy, trouble concentrating, and memory problems.

Coping with the changes that occur while aging should be a part of everyone’s long-term lifestyle.  This could be done by expecting and planning for changes to occur (at any stage of life), maintaining strong relationships with family and friends, and a willingness to stay excited and involved with life.  By taking preventative measures to help mental health early on in life, then there is a higher chance of having better mental health in the future.  

Following these steps can be very beneficial for mental health, but sometimes the changes and loneliness that occurs with aging is hard to combat.  It is important to recognize if these changes reach a point of being too much to handle. The most sure sign of poor mental health or loneliness is when it becomes an interference to a person’s daily life.  There are a variety of ways to help decrease feeling lonely, these strategies include: staying active, look for new social outlets and contacts, make friends with people of all ages, continue to set goals and work towards them, and learn to recognize and deal with signs of depression.  Having strong emotional and social support are two of the biggest factors that can help with mental health; it is also associated with reduced risk of physical illness and mortality.

Mental health is just as important as a person’s physical health.  If you or someone you know suffers from a mental health disease or just isn’t feeling themselves, it is wise to seek outlets that can be beneficial to help improve their well-being.  Seeking counseling can be very beneficial, but there are many other ways to help improve mental health. Starting a new exercise routine, eating a healthier diet, finding a hobby, and being social are all great simple ways to begin to improve mental health. 

Contact Covell Care at (970) 204-4331 to learn about our counseling services for you or a loved one.   

Source: https://www.psychologistanywhereanytime.com/psychologist/psychologist_aging_and_mental_health.htm

The Sandwich Generation: Caring for yourself while caring for others

Guest blogger Maya Stiles, Covell Care Intern and Colorado State Student.

Many caregivers may find themselves to be “Sandwiched”; not in a yummy snack but in fact something completely different. “The Sandwich Generation” is as a phrase used to describe people roughly between the ages of 30-50 years old who are taking care of a child, while also caring for their elderly family members. These “sandwiched” people can often find themselves being pulled in every direction by providing emotional, physical, mentally and financial support.

While caring for your family can be one of the most rewarding and uplifting things, it can also cause immense stress and take a toll on you emotionally and physically. In order to care for others, you must also take care of yourself. Below are four tips to take care of yourself while
caring for others…

  1. Take Regular Breaks- We often feel like we cannot spare a minute in our day, but if you break it down by 10, 20, or 30-minute increments; you find that it becomes much more achievable.
  2. Get enough Sleep- When life starts getting crazy, good sleep seems like the first thing to go out the window. However, in order to take of others, you must prioritize yourself. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night will ensure you are rested and ready to provide quality love and care to others.
  3. Laugh often- Plain and simple- laughter is the best medicine. Keeping things light by utilizing humor is a great way to release stress and take care of yourself and others.
  4. Be aware of Burnout- Taking care of others is a full-time job and can be even more demanding when paired with other jobs and life responsibilities. Everyone needs support, even when it is hard to ask for help.

Remember, you cannot take care of others unless you take care of yourself first. Keeping these four self-care practices in the back of your mind can provide you with some relief and support. However, If you feel like you need some extra support or resources please refer to Covell Care’s services and resources at https://www.covellcare.com.

References:
https://caregiveraction.org
https://www.caregiverstress.com/stress-management/
https://www.drnorthrup.com/how-to-care-for-yourself-when-caring-for-loved-ones/

The Fear of Falling

Guest blogger Colorado State University and Covell Care Intern, Hailey Jungerman.

Falling can cause major issues for older adults. Injuries can range from an ankle sprain to a traumatic brain injury. These injuries can lead to high direct medical costs and indirect medical costs. Not only that, but it can lead to an increase in fall risk factors.

“Fear of falling often develops after experiencing a fall” (Tomita et al.).The same study shows that even one fall can lead to developing fear. There is a vicious circle that is associated with the fear of falling that can be hard to break without intervention. “Fear of falling is associated with negative physical and psychosocial health outcomes, including depression and
activity restriction” (Lee, Oh and Hong 2018). Once an older adult obtains this fear, the less likely they are willing to participate in activities such as exercise or even leaving their house. This can lead to weakened muscles and depression. Which in turn are more risk factors for older adults.

A team of therapists including occupational and physical therapists can help to overcome the fear of falling. Occupational therapists can assess the home for safety, both occupational and physical therapists can do a fall risk assessment on the client, and both can create a plan to address risk factors. They can suggest home modifications, address risk factors around the house, see how the patient gets around their home, and giving the patient exercises to build strength and work on balance. As the American Occupational Therapy Association’s page says, “Identifying environmental factors that contribute to falls and implementing the occupational therapy strategies to ameliorate these elements can improve safety and reduce health care costs while enhancing the participation of older adults in those communities.”

In order to keep older adults independent, it is important to have them assessed to find their risk factors. Each individual is unique, and so are their needs. Therapists working together can help to improve the quality of life by addressing fall risk in our loved ones.

For more information on Home Safety or Fall Risk Assessments call Covell Care & Rehabilitation at 970.204.4331.

Citations:
Lee, Seonhye, et al. “Comparison of Factors Associated with Fear of Falling between Older Adults with and without a Fall History.” International Journal of Environmental Research
and Public Health, vol. 15, no. 5, May 2018, p. 982., doi:10.3390/ijerph15050982.
Tomita, Yoshihito, et al. “Prevalence of Fear of Falling and Associated Factors among Japanese Community-Dwelling Older Adults.” Medicine, vol. 97, no. 4, Jan. 2018, doi:10.1097/md.0000000000009721.
Toto, Pamela. “Occupational Therapy and Prevention of Falls.” Aota.org, American
Occupational Therapy Association, 2017, www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Professionals/PA/Facts/Fall-Prevention.aspx.

Wellness & Mobile Practitioners

Guest blogger, Colorado State University Graduate and Covell Care Intern, Hailey Jungerman.

Being a mobile practitioner there are a number of health factors to keep in mind. You are constantly on the go, but not being active in the sense of physical activity requirements. There is also a high chance that you are eating in between appointments while in the car. On top of that you may also be stressing about making it to your next appointment on time if one runs over, or there is traffic. All of these, and I am sure you know, and many more are stressors. All these can also pose serious health problems. Chronic stress can cause issues such as high blood pressure, racing heart, weakened immune system, depression, headaches and so many more (Pietrangelo and Watson). They also state that “Chronic stress is also a factor in behaviors such a overeating or not eating enough, alcohol or drug abuse, and social withdrawal.”

Symptoms of chronic stress include (Pietrangelo and Watson):

  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • headaches
  • Insomnia

If you are experiencing any of these, it is important to know how to relieve stress. Stress management techniques vary. Some can be more effective than others. It will depend on you and what you are comfortable with. Many of them have health benefits beyond just relieving stress.

Some evidence based stress management techniques include (Darviri and Varvogli):

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: leads to a decrease in stress and anxiety as well as decreased blood pressure, heart rate, and decreased headaches.
  • Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction: positive impact on mood, stress and anxiety reduction.
  • Guided Imagery: can help in stress reduction, pain management, preventing relapse of smoking, and treatment of depression.

These are just a few strategies that could help to reduce your stress. It is important to find something that you enjoy and that works for you. Listening to books on tape, podcasts, or light music while you are driving are great ways to relieve stress in between appointments. Finding time to workout, take your dog for a walk, or making time for hobbies are other great ways to find a work-life balance and reduce stress. Ask Covell Care about our employee stress management!


Works Cited :
Darviri, Christina and Liza Varvogli. “Stress Management Techniques: evidence-based procedures that reduce stress and promote health.” Health Science Journal (2011): 74-89.
Pietrangelo, Ann and Stephanie Watson “The Effects of Stress on Your Body.” 5 June Health Line. 30 April 2019.

Dementia Awareness

Blog provided by JaNae Gregg, University of Northern Colorado Student and Covell Care Intern.

In America, one in ten people over the age of sixty five has Alzheimer’s dementia.  Two thirds of these people are women. In 2000, 4 million people in America were diagnosed with dementia.  By 2012, nearly 4.5 million people were diagnosed with this disease. With a rapid increase of people diagnosed with dementia it is important to notice the early signs and receive treatment.

Early signs of dementia include: Increased confusion, memory problems, reduced concentration, personality or behavior changes, apathy, and loss of ability to do everyday tasks. These symptoms can come on suddenly or gradually. Unfortunately, these signs can often be mistaken or overlooked. If you or someone you know is showing any of these signs it is important to seek a doctor and get a medical diagnoses.

If you are caring for a patient of dementia it is important to keep a positive mindset, remember body language and attitude communicate your feelings more than words do! Dementia can be tough for both the patient and the caregiver, so it is important to be clear when relying messages to the patient and to also ask clear and answerable questions.  Conducting activities are easier when performed in steps, this helps instruct the patient with dementia and to avoid frustration for the caregiver.

This being said, frustrations will still occur.  When the going gets tough for the dementia
patient try changing the subject or even the environment.  It is important to remember to connect with the person on a feelings level. This means when making suggestions state what feeling you are sensing from them.  This could be done by saying, “I know you are feeling sad today, maybe a walk would make you feel better?” Doing this will help make a connection and improve communication.  Being diagnosed or having someone you care for be diagnosed with dementia is not easy, catching warning signs early could help with treatment and the caregiving process.