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Becoming more resilient
As a family caregiver, you probably hold yourself to a very high standard. You expect yourself to react with kindness and patience at all times, no matter how unpleasant or inconvenient the task. Compassionate caring is a high ideal for family caregivers.
But some days are admittedly better than others. And then comes the self-criticism and guilt!
Here’s an idea, though: Why not treat yourself the way you would treat a friend? Research shows that people who treat their own distress with concern instead of judgment are physically healthier. They are also emotionally better able to deal with life’s inevitable setbacks. They stay motivated even when things are rough. For example, people who treat themselves with compassion
- cope with failure more productively. Rather than get upset, they consider the lessons learned.
- remain positive and motivated. They are less subject to fear, negativity, anxiety, and depression.
- take better care of personal health. They eat better, exercise more, and see the doctor regularly.
The next time you feel down on yourself, try a compassionate perspective. Consider your situation with
- kindness. You forgot to bring the list of medications to dad’s appointment? Self-criticism will only make you feel worse. And it won’t make the list suddenly appear. Instead, patiently ask yourself what to do next.
- acceptance. You’re not keeping up with cleaning mom’s house the way you envisioned? Give up the idea of perfection. It’s not humanly possible! Gently support yourself while continuing to do the best you can. Treat yourself with consideration, as you would a friend.
- awareness. You missed the party today because dad wasn’t well? Of course you are disappointed! And maybe mad, or sad. Acknowledge your feelings in the moment. They are normal, natural. And, like all feelings, they will subside. They just resolve faster when viewed as neither bad nor good, but rather, as a temporary experience.
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Repairing identity theft
It’s a fact that scam artists prey on older adults. Scammers steal and use identifying information to obtain cash, make purchases, and/or open new accounts for services. Your family member may be completely unaware that his or her identity has been stolen.
Watch for signs of identity theft:
- unexpected withdrawals from a bank account;
- utility bills for other addresses;
- bills for medical care that your relative did not receive;
- sudden absence of mail;
- extra charges on a credit card;
- bills for unfamiliar credit card accounts;
- merchants refusing checks;
- calls/notices from debt collectors;
- unexpected debts on a credit report.
If your relative’s personal information is being misused, take action quickly. But be methodical! Keep track of every report you make. Also, log every call and send documents by certified mail.
- Contact bank and credit card companies. Report the theft and any fraudulent transactions you have noticed. Act promptly (within 60 days), and your relative may be protected against financial loss.
- Place an initial “fraud alert.” Contact one of the three national credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion). The one you contact will tell the others. This free alert is in place for 30 days. It makes it harder for someone to falsely open new accounts.
- Order credit reports. Placing a fraud alert entitles you to ask each of the three credit reporting companies for a free report.
- Complete an Identify Theft Report. First, submit a theft complaint to the Federal Trade Commission and print the resulting affidavit. Then, take the affidavit to the local police department and file a report about the theft.
Continue to monitor service records and bills. That way, you can quickly challenge fraudulent bills or accounts.
When information has been lost rather than stolen: Place a fraud alert. Watch for unusual activity on bank, credit card, and other accounts.
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What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is sometimes called “the silent killer.” This is because it is dangerous but has few outward symptoms.
As the heart pumps, it pushes blood through the arteries, creating pressure on the artery walls. High blood pressure means that your heart is having to work extra hard.
Nearly two out of three adults 60 or older have high blood pressure!
Besides age, other factors make it more likely your loved one, or even you, could develop high blood pressure.
- Chronic disease. People with diabetes or diseases affecting the kidneys or thyroid are at higher risk. Sleep apnea also raises risk.
- Medications. Some drugs, such as those used to control asthma and treat colds, increase blood pressure.
- Race/ethnicity. African American adults more often have high blood pressure than do Caucasian or Hispanic adults.
- Body weight. Being overweight or obese is strongly associated with high blood pressure.
- Lifestyle. Too much salt in the diet and/or too much alcohol raises the risk. As does stress. On the other hand, exercise and quitting smoking significantly lower risk.
When blood pressure is measured, the result is two numbers, such as 114/76 (read: 114 over 76). The top number (114) reflects the pressure in your blood vessels when the heart contracts. A reading of less than 120 mmHg is considered healthy. A reading of 140 mmHg or more is considered high.
The bottom number reflects the pressure in the blood vessels when the blood is “coasting” while the heart fills up between beats. A reading of less than 80 mmHg is normal. A person has high blood pressure if the bottom number is 90 mmHG or more.
Because blood pressure affects the health of your whole body, it’s a good idea to get it checked once a year. If it is high, you don’t want to leave it untreated!
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