FEATURE ARTICLE

FROM ALWAYS BEST CARE

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Helping Individuals with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

 

 

 

 

 

by David J. Caesar

 

 

 

 

 

Caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease at home is a challenging task that can become overwhelming at times. Each day brings new demands and challenges as the caregiver copes with changing levels of ability and new patterns of behavior. In any demanding situation, the better you care for yourself, the better you will be able to care for your loved one.

 

Setting up Home Care
Soon after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, it will be necessary to get started on making changes that help provide a sense of well being and physical safety for the affected person. Things that were taken for granted before, such as home safety and socializing, will now require some planning. There will be a need to communicate in new ways and make changes to the home environment. These changes include:

 

  • Adjusting your communication style to your loved ones changing needs as the disease progresses.
  • Scheduling visitors to avoid surprises and have something to look forward to. Even if the elder with dementia does not recognize those who visit, the contact is nonetheless valuable for them.
  • Establishing routines in activities of daily living.
  • Maintaining social contacts and fun.
  • Setting up a safe home environment.
  • Considering placement in a facility or hiring a private in-home care agency if caregiving becomes unmanageable for you or your loved one.


Whether it’s assisted living placement or in-home support services, Always Best Care’s trained staff can help!


Promoting Comfort and Safety
As the symptoms of Alzheimer’s progress, the person becomes more emotionally fragile. At first, there may be the sense of grief and dread that accompanies the awareness of having a progressive, terminal illness. During this early stage of the disease, caregivers can promote the patient’s sense of well being by providing emotional support and by helping to maintain familiar activities and social contacts. Eventually though, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is forgotten and the ability to be rational fades. Logical thinking can no longer be used to help alleviate fear and confusion. As problems with memory and judgment increase, the patient becomes more vulnerable to accidents and injuries.

Problem behaviors develop that place the person at increased risk of getting lost or getting hurt.
Caregivers must hone communication skills and make changes to the home environment in
anticipation of the problems of mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Following are some tips for
promoting physical safety and emotional comfort.

 

Be sensitive and gentle about informing the patient of the diagnosis.
There will be times when you’ll want to remind the person that they have Alzheimer’s. At other
times it might be better to refer to a "memory problem.” Even if you repeatedly tell the elder
that they have Alzheimer's disease, they may not remember that you told them. Be prepared to
patiently repeat the information at times when you’re trying to help the person understand why
they can’t do something or why you are taking over a task the person used to do.

 

Develop a positive attitude.
Many people look at their caregiving responsibility as a way of being involved with their loved
one. Their caring is based on unconditional love, and they do not consider it a burden. Dementia
patients are able to read body language and to respond to the positive attitudes of the caregiver.
Where patient and caregiver have had problems in their past relationship, it can be especially
challenging to empathize and be kind, so a support system for the caregiver is most important.

 

Learn to communicate with an Alzheimer’s patient.
Acknowledge requests and respond to them. Don’t argue or try to change the person’s mind,
even if you believe the request is irrational. Be affectionate with the patient, if this feels natural.
Try not to set up a cycle of paying attention only when the person displays problem behaviors.
Break this negative cycle by being supportive of positive behavior.

 

Remember the worth of the person as a human being.
Even if they don’t seem to respond, the person deserves to be loved and cared for, touched, and
spoken to. Much like an infant, the dementia patient thrives on human contact. If treated poorly,
the person feels rejection, loneliness, grief, and pain. Your warm, supportive care is essential to
the dementia patient’s well being.

 

Managing behavior problems.
Be accepting of the increasingly limited capabilities of the person with dementia and implement
care strategies accordingly. Do your best to be patient, kind, flexible, supportive, and calm. This
disease is no one’s fault, although it is very aggravating and disappointing. By the same token,
don’t take problem behaviors (such as aggressiveness or wandering) personally. Accept the
symptoms of the disease and proceed from there. Remember that the person is not behaving this
way on purpose. For some of these problems, medications may be helpful

 

Expect the patient to totally lose their memory.
Be ready with boundless patience. Many Alzheimer's sufferers have no awareness of their loss
of memory. You may feel aggravated at repetitive behaviors or with having to repeat what you
just said, time and time again. The positive side of this is that the person is not as upset as you
are; they don’t realize what is happening to them or how it affects you.

 

Get emotional support for yourself.
The above suggestions can be hard to implement. You have your own sense of grief and loss
about the diagnosis – feelings that may be compounded as you see the person you’ve known
and loved gradually lose their familiar personality and abilities. Your lifestyle may be radically
changed, especially if you are the lone caregiver. Besides, some caregivers may have responsibility for a person who they weren’t very close to, or who treated them badly in the past, making it particularly hard to stay positive or to empathize with the patient. Remember there is plenty of support for you in this journey if only you reach out for it. (Reference: www.helporg.com)

 

Always Best Care Senior Services can assist with Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care from one day a week, just a few hours a day to 24-hour care, seven days a week. Call your local office to find out how Always Best Care can provide you with the support you deserve or visit us on the web at www.alwaysbestcare.com to find the location nearest you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David J. Caesar is the Vice President of Franchise Operations at Always Best Care Senior Services

 

Through its network of independently owned and operated franchises, Always Best Care Senior Services provides non-medical in-home care, assisted living placement and skilled home health care for seniors across the country. Visit Always Best Care Senior Services at www.alwaysbestcare.com.

 

 

Always Best Care Senior Services

 

Always Best Care Senior Services (www.alwaysbestcare.com/) is based on the belief that having the right people for the right level of care means peace of mind for the client and family. Always Best Care Senior Services has assisted over 25,000 seniors, representing a wide range of illnesses and personal needs. This has established the company as one of the premier providers of in-home care, assisted living placement assistance, and skilled home health care.

 

 

 

September, 2010 

 

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FEATURE ARTICLE

FROM ALWAYS BEST CARE

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Healthy Aging: What role does socialization play?

 

 

 

 

 

by David J. Caesar

 

 

 

 

 

Educating care providers and informing families currently caring for loved ones is one way Always Best Care Senior Services is ensuring homebound seniors are receiving the quality care they deserve. With this in mind, Ryan Engar, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for Always Best Care, teamed up with Fran Wilby, PhD, Assistant Professor, Executive Director of the W.D. Goodwill Initiatives on Aging, and O. William Farley PhD, Professor at the College of Social Work, University of Utah, to write an article and training guidelines for Always Best Care Senior Services care providers and family members on the importance of socialization.

 

The aging population, nationally and worldwide, is at the forefront of people’s thoughts today. Developed nations worldwide are experiencing an "aging boom” as people are living longer. Nationally, estimates are that the number of people age 65 and older will grow to 80 million by the year 2050 with the fastest growing group being those 85 and older (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004).

 

With increased longevity comes increased number of years in retirement. As the demographics of our nation shift, family members caring for their aging loved ones will no longer be enough help to adequately care for our senior population. More and more families will begin to invite caring professionals into their homes for assistance. It is for this reason Always Best Care Senior Services exists. For the past 14 years Always Best Care has been welcomed in many homes in an effort to improve not only the quality of life of the individual receiving the care but the quality of life of the family members as well. By the year 2040, people who live until 65 years old can expect to live an additional 15 to 20 years—thus spending 21% to 23% of their total life span in retirement (Smeeding, 2010). If these numbers seem astounding, it is even more astounding to wonder what people will do with this time.

 

With retirement comes withdrawal from normal work cycles and work relationships. Although many older adults handle the transition from work to retirement well, others experience emotional difficulties during this phase of life. The loss of contact with close colleagues and the loss of a sense of purpose in life can lead to increased social isolation and bouts of depression. Additionally the burden of chronic disease can make normal routines difficult and strain financial resources. So what roles does socialization play in maintaining health and wellness through retirement and beyond?

 

Socialization plays a large role in maintaining quality of life as one ages. Research has shown that those older adults, who have strong social networks, seem to have a higher quality of life, live longer, and are healthier compared to those with little social support (Glass, Mendes de Leon, Marottolie & Berkman, 1999). Also, studies have shown that strong social support seems to protect against cognitive decline and self-reported disability (Mendes de Leon, Glass, & Berkman, 2003). The "use-it or lose it” theory seems to be true—social engagement may stimulate multiple body systems including the cognitive, cardiovascular, and neuromuscular systems.

 

Social engagement also seems to be an active coping strategy as well as reinforcing life long patterns of connections to other people and resources (Barnas, Pollina, & Cummings, 1991).

 

Given the importance of socialization to healthy aging—what happens to those older adults who do not have strong social networks and social support? Numerous factors can impact the socialnetworks of older adults; smaller family sizes and the mobility of family members leaves many older adults isolated from family help and resources. Those older adults who live past 80 years old find that many of their friends and in some cases family members have passed away, leaving them more isolated and alone. Chronic disease can affect an older person’s ability to leave the home to engage in social activities. Limited transportation options for those who no longer drive can leave them isolated in their homes. It is in these cases that the many services of Always Best Care provide not only vital assistance to maintain their clients’ health and safety but also address problems caused by isolation. Always Best Care provides an opportunity for friends and family to reunite through transportation as well as an opportunity to socialize and form meaningful relationships with people who genuinely care for them within the walls of their own home.

 

As a society, we are poorly equipped to deliver help to older adults who are isolated in their homes. The creation of community-based programs is a dire need now and will become more essential as the aging population strains social programs. One such program, developed at the University of Utah College of Social Work by Wilford Goodwill and O. William Farley, is the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program (NHN). NHN is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the health, safety, and quality of life for community-dwelling seniors through the promotion and maintenance of independent living. NHN strives to enable older adults to reside in the community for as long as possible while training social work students and community volunteers.

 

In Utah, as well as in many other communities throughout the nation, caring individuals have responded to our aging population’s cry for help. In many cases it only takes a little help from an outside source to keep an older adult at home whether that outside source is a family member or a care provider from one of the many home-care agencies created to address such needs. In the growing number of cases where family member’s responsibilities pull them away from hands-on service to their loved ones, agencies such as Always Best Care are able to customize the amount of involvement they have in an individual’s life in an effort to maintain their quality of life. Remaining within the home where memories were formed, with a little assistance from a care provider, enables an older adult to remain in the community with dignity and without suffering from the consequences of social isolation. It is up to our society to step up and create the kind of services that will enable older adults to remain in their homes, without isolation, if that is what they choose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Barnas, M.V., Pollina, L., & Cummings, E.M. (1991). Life-span attachment: Relations between attachment and socioemotional functioning in adult women. Genetic, Social & General Psychology Monographs, 117(2), 175-202.

 

Glass, T.A., Mendes de Leon, C.F., Marottolie, R.A. & Berkman, L.F. (1999). Population based study of social and productive activities as predictors of survival among elderly Americans. British Medical Journal, 319(21), 478-483.

 

Mendes de Leon, C.F., Glass, T.A., & Berkman, L.F. (2003). Social engagement and disability in a community
population of older adults: The New Haven EPESE. American Journal of Epidemiology, 157(7), 633-642.

 

Smeeding, T. Policy Analysis and Entitlement Programs for Older Americans: Medicare,Medicaid, and Social Security.

Presentation to the Center on Aging Research Retreat, March 20, 2010, University of Utah.

 

U.S. Census Bureau, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David J. Caesar is the Vice President of Franchise Operations at Always Best Care Senior Services

 

Through its network of independently owned and operated franchises, Always Best Care Senior Services provides non-medical in-home care, assisted living placement and skilled home health care for seniors across the country. Visit Always Best Care Senior Services at www.alwaysbestcare.com.

 

 

Always Best Care Senior Services

 

Always Best Care Senior Services (www.alwaysbestcare.com/) is based on the belief that having the right people for the right level of care means peace of mind for the client and family. Always Best Care Senior Services has assisted over 25,000 seniors, representing a wide range of illnesses and personal needs. This has established the company as one of the premier providers of in-home care, assisted living placement assistance, and skilled home health care.

 

 

 

May, 2010 

 

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FEATURE ARTICLE
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FROM ALWAYS BEST CARE

Bone Up on Facts about Osteoporosis
The Benefits of Hiring a Senior Service Company

by Angela Graczyk, RN

The conversation with an aging parent about having someone come into the home to help is usually not an easy one. Factors of comfort, cleanliness and safety are typically the key motivators involved. The triumphant moment of the senior’s expressed cooperation with the idea of "getting help" feels like crossing the verbal finishing line. But, in reality, it just the baton-pass to the next set of considerations in the care of the aging parent. The top consideration being, "Who will be the caregiver?" More importantly, "Where will I find one?"

One approach that is commonly used is to hire a senior service company. Senior service companies, like Always Best Care Senior Services, can offer a range of assistance from basic companion services to monitoring vital signs and oxygen support under the supervision of a licensed professional.

According to Nicole Akins, who is a Franchise Owner for Always Best Care in Sacramento, California, convenience is usually the main reason families choose a service over privately hiring a friend or neighbor. Senior Care company owners, like Akins, believes that there are several other reasons families should consider using a senior service company. Some of the reasons to consider using a professional service are below.

  1. Time - The process of running an advertisement, collecting resumes, interviewing and supervising the start of a new helper can be very time consuming particularly if the family has no experience in these hiring activities. Often this process may take longer than the actual care of the loved one on a weekly basis. This could leave the family member feeling frustrated in an already difficult situation.
  2. Personal Safety - A common policy of legitimate senior service companies, such as Always Best Care Senior Services, is to perform background checks, obtain both personal & professional references, and in some cases a physical exam which includes a screening of communicable diseases such as a TB to protect seniors. These policies work to prevent possible harm to the elderly by restricting exposure to individuals with negative reports
  3. Financial Security - Quality Senior Care Companies use Workman's Compensation programs as well as insurance to replace any damaged or lost goods in the elderly person's home. These programs and policies can alleviate any personal property claims on the senior’s home owner’s policy and free them from any financial obligation if a worker gets hurt in their home or household items are damaged or lost.
  4. Support - Senior Service Companies train employees to handle issues associated with
    care giving. In addition, they can provide trained "back-up" with additional staffing if
    the primary caregiver is ill or unavailable. This can be particularly useful for seniors
    whose family member work or are out of town. Also, many companies offer
    information on senior related resources in the community if you are dealing with a
    particular condition or illness.

Overall, there are many reasons for families to choose to work with a senior services company. But perhaps the most important reason is that reputable senior service companies focus on safety and comfort of a family’s loved one. If you would like to learn more about how to hire a senior service company to provide care for your loved one, contact your local Always Best Care Office or visit www.alwaysbestcare.com to find an office near you.

Angela T. Graczyk, RN, is a Franchise Operations Trainer and Registered Nurse at Always Best Care Senior Services. Through its network of independently owned and operated franchises, Always Best Care Senior Services provides non-medical in-home care, assisted living placement and skilled home health care for seniors across the country. Visit Always Best Care Senior Services at www.alwaysbestcare.com.

Always Best Care Senior Services

Always Best Care Senior Services (www.alwaysbestcare.com/) is based on the belief that having the right people for the right level of care means peace of mind for the client and family. Always Best Care Senior Services has assisted over 25,000 seniors, representing a wide range of illnesses and personal needs. This has established the company as one of the premier providers of in-home care, assisted living placement assistance, and skilled home health care.

October, 2010

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FEATURE ARTICLE

FROM ALWAYS BEST CARE

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Engaging & Enriching the Lives of the

Elderly during the Holidays

 

 

 

by Angela Graczyk

 

 

 

 

 

One of the main focuses of Senior Homecare & Health Care Providers, like Always Best Care Senior Services, is to engage and enrich the everyday lives of the elderly. There are several ways to engage and enrich the lives of the elderly during the holidays. However, the aging process may create some limitations to certain holiday traditions. The right amount of encouragement, support, imagination, enjoying, and participating in holiday activities is quite possible for the elderly.

Simple modifications can mean the difference in participating, rather than simply watching the good times go by for some seniors. Consider including one or more of the suggestions listed below or modify your own family's traditions this holiday season.

 

Some community's have local carolers who volunteer to sing for a small donation to their favorite charity. If you don't have carolers in your area, use a CD with classic Christmas songs and go on the Internet to print out the lyrics in a font big enough for a senior to read. Or just try and see how much of the lyrics everyone remembers. It can be quite entertaining to see how well someone "knows" the songs. Even if there are issues with hearing, eyesight, or thought processing sitting by an elderly person and smiling at them while you singing can be flattering... even if you are not musically talented.

 

Use the seniors’ recipe for cookies or treats typically served this time of year. Ask them to teach you how to do it their way. If they are not cognitively able to teach or instruct you have them sit near you as you prepare and show them how you make treats. Try to pick a treat that is appropriate for any diet restrictions that they may have. Also, make items big enough so that the senior can participate in decorating. Choose decorations that do not require precision. Use easy-to hold containers filled with colored sugar or sprinkles.

 

When it is time to decorate the Christmas tree, give the senior a work area and have them sort the decorations and give them to everyone to apply to the tree. Encourage their opinion on where ornaments should go if they are not physically able to apply an ornament themselves. If they are physically able to apply an ornament clear their pathway of cords or cardboard to prevent a fall. Also, try and standby them when they reach toward the tree in case they lose their balance.

Other activities include watching traditional movies of love, giving and sharing, driving around to look at seasonal decorations, reading a traditional holiday story, contributing to a favorite charity, or simply reminiscing about their childhood holiday memories. Whatever you choose, Senior Homecare & Health Care Providers, like Always Best Care, believe there are many ways to engage and enrich the lives of the elderly during the holidays as well as throughout the year. For more information on how you can brighten up a senior’s day with some of the ideas mentioned in this article, contact a Care Coordinator at any of the individually owned and operated Always Best Care Offices located throughout the country. To find the Always Best Care Senior Services office nearest you, please visit www.alwaysbestcare.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angela T. Graczyk, RN, is a Franchise Operations Trainer and Registered Nurse at Always Best Care Senior Services. 

 

Through its network of independently owned and operated franchises, Always Best Care Senior Services provides non-medical in-home care, assisted living placement and skilled home health care for seniors across the country. Visit Always Best Care Senior Services at www.alwaysbestcare.com

.

 

 

Always Best Care Senior Services

 

Always Best Care Senior Services (www.alwaysbestcare.com/) is based on the belief that having the right people for the right level of care means peace of mind for the client and family. Always Best Care Senior Services has assisted over 25,000 seniors, representing a wide range of illnesses and personal needs. This has established the company as one of the premier providers of in-home care, assisted living placement assistance, and skilled home health care.

 

December, 2010

 

To print this article CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

FEATURE ARTICLE
To print this article CLICK HERE
 

FROM ALWAYS BEST CARE

Bone Up on Facts about Osteoporosis

Avoiding Sibling Feuds Over Elder Care

by Michael Baker

As people age, their health problems can worsen. The concern over a situation of an elderly parent not only affects the children, but also the relationships between those children.

When this occurs the children face sibling conflicts. One of the most common causes of sibling elder-care conflict is when one sibling winds up taking most of the responsibility for the care of their parent. When the responsibility of a parent falls onto the shoulders of one child, they begin to resent their siblings.

Mary Weathers, a Registered Nurse and Franchise Owner with Always Best Care Senior Services of Flagler County, Florida works with many seniors and their families in arranging care needs. During a recent meeting with a family, a client looked at Mary in disbelief, not being able to get over how her children were treating each other.

A common cause of sibling feud, when dealing with an elderly parent, is who controls the parent’s finances. A major question siblings ask one another is, "Who will control Mom or Dad’s money?” When a decision is made and a child takes the lead, it can sometimes result in financial abuse. One sibling may feel more powerful than another when being the sole controller of the parent’s funds.

End-of-life care is another point of concern for children of an elderly parent. A lot of children are faced with some big questions over end-of-life care for their parents after they have a heart attack, massive stroke, or other medical emergency. The children may battle over how much doctors should intervene to keep a parent alive after they are on a feeding tube, respirator, or other medical interment.

The siblings will spend some emotional time together, talking over individual views on how much medical intervention should be used. When they are able to agree on the care for their parent, they can be relieved and emerge with greater respect for each other. Still, many families in such situations are surprised that they rocket right back to their childhood roles in the family.

The oldest sibling may still try to boss around their little brother or sister, and the youngest child may still be seen as "the baby”, whose ideas and contributions are too immature to matter – even though he or she may be a banker in their forties at the time.

To ward off sibling conflicts, families should meet to determine what needs to be done concerning care for the parent. Educating all siblings on their parent’s condition is a good way to make sure the responsibility does not fall on one individual. Once all aspects are discussed and understood by each child, a "divide-and-conquer” approach can help.

To take the weight off of one individual, delegate various aspects of caregiving such as insurance, respite care, doctor communications, financial affairs, or home maintenance. With this method, the siblings will feud less and be able to spend more time and energy on their parent.

If you would like to learn more about how to avoid sibling feuds over eldercare, visit www.alwaysbestcare.com to find the Always Best Care Senior Services offices nearest you.

Michael Baker is a Franchise Operations Trainer at Always Best Care Senior Services. Through its network of independently owned and operated franchises, Always Best Care Senior Services provides non-medical in-home care, assisted living placement and skilled home health care for seniors across the country. Visit Always Best Care Senior Services at www.alwaysbestcare.com.

Always Best Care Senior Services

Always Best Care Senior Services (www.alwaysbestcare.com/) is based on the belief that having the right people for the right level of care means peace of mind for the client and family. Always Best Care Senior Services has assisted over 25,000 seniors, representing a wide range of illnesses and personal needs. This has established the company as one of the premier providers of in-home care, assisted living placement assistance, and skilled home health care.

October, 2010 

To print this article CLICK HERE

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