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Home Care Expert Insights

In Conversation with Sarah Teten Kanter to Bring Her Insights on Elderly Caring

Elderly caregiving is a fundamental aspect of supporting and assisting the aging population. As individuals grow older, they may face various challenges that require specialized care and attention.

Elderly caregivers, whether family members or professionals, play a vital role in providing physical assistance, emotional support, and companionship to older adults. Their dedication helps the aging maintain their independence, manage health conditions, and enjoy a higher quality of life.

Through their compassionate efforts, caregivers contribute significantly to the overall well-being and happiness of the elderly.

To shed some light on the same, we interviewed a home care industry expert to bring her perspective on the importance of elderly care.

Expert QA session with Sarah Teten Kanter

Who Did We Interview?

Sarah Teten Kanter, Ph.D., is on a mission to help people embrace the gift of growing older. She is the author of Positive Caregiving: Caring for Older Loved Ones Using the Power of Positive Emotions and she is the founder and CEO of Positive Caregiving™, an organization focused on making caregiving and care receiving an opportunity for personal growth. She holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in gerontology from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Prior to pursuing her passion in gerontology, she was the chief marketing officer and chief customer officer at Kenexa, now an IBM company. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with her family.

Question 1: What, according to you, should families do when hiring a caregiver for their elderly?

When hiring a caregiver for an older loved one, it is important to understand your loved one’s needs clearly. For instance, do they require medical or non-medical support? Do they need part-time or full-time support? Do they need temporary support or ongoing support?
And are there some tasks that family and/or friends would like to help with? Then identify the tasks that would be the most helpful for your loved one so they can continue to flourish.

There is a free workbook (Inhale Love, Exhale Fear) that can help families sort through these items on www.positivecaregiving.com/the-library. Next, families should identify the service providers that fit their needs (home health vs. home care) in their loved one’s community.

Multiple online tools are available to search for these providers, or you can always contact your local Area Agency on Aging for assistance (see https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx).

Question 2: How can caregivers maintain the independence and dignity of the elderly and their families when providing care?

Having a clear understanding of care partnership expectations and an idea of what matters most to our loved ones who require care is a great first step. Consider crafting a care partner mission statement to help guide your journey.

For a free mission statement workbook, visit www.positivecaregiving.com/the-library.
We also encourage people to keep empathy at the forefront of the care partnership. Empathy helps to remind us to meet our loved ones where they are in their life journey with compassion and grace.

Question 3: How can caregivers prevent burnout and manage their work-personal life?

We advocate for keeping gratitude, empathy, forgiveness, love, and awe at the center of the care journey. These five emotions can also be considered skills that can be practiced and strengthened over time. While they will not eliminate negative emotions such as stress or sadness, they can help to balance the negative, allowing us to continue to move forward with courage and resilience.

Even micro-moments of gratitude, empathy, forgiveness, love, and awe can effectively maintain perspective, stay present, and care for ourselves as we care for others. Activities such as taking five minutes to step outside and spot the daytime moon or spending a few moments reflecting on what we are grateful for are quick ways to bring ourselves back to the here and now.

Question 4: How can I help my aging parents from afar?

When caring for older loved ones from a distance, a few easy things can be a huge help.

First, regular communication is important – something as simple as a daily phone or video call can make a big difference. Second, arranging for local support can be incredibly beneficial. This could be a local relative, a neighbor, or a professional caregiver who can be on hand for immediate needs. Lastly, keeping current on healthcare appointments, medications, and social events can help you stay on top of your well-being.

You can use online tools to help schedule appointments, monitor medications, and keep track of their health records. These are just a few steps that can help you provide meaningful care and support, even from afar.

Question 5: What advice do you give to new family caregivers?

First, take a deep breath. Second, know that the positives of caring for an older loved one outweigh the negatives for most people.

Approaching the caregiving role as an opportunity rather than an obligation is a great first step to an experience that, for many, will become one of the most meaningful roles in their lifetime. You can download a free step-by-step guide for new and sudden caregivers at www.positivecaregiving.com/the-library.

Final Thoughts

Our expert, Sarah, believes caregiving plays a crucial role in ensuring the aging population’s well-being and quality of life—the selfless efforts of caregivers, whether family members or professionals, profoundly impact older adult’s lives.

She emphasizes that with essential support, empathy, and companionship, caregivers help aging maintain their independence, cope with health challenges, and find fulfillment in their daily lives. Their dedication and compassion make a significant difference in creating a nurturing and inclusive environment for the elderly, promoting their dignity and happiness.

Want to contribute to our expert insights for the 'Home Care Q/A' series?

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Want to contribute to our expert insights for the 'Home Care Q/A' series?

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