Technology Changes the In-home Care Landscape

Posted on: June 25th, 2015 by Kim McCreery

Senior couple video conferenceTechnology has revolutionized in-home care, for patients, caregivers and loved ones. For decades, being “home” had the potential to become extremely isolating, as aging parents and relatives were often cut off from their families and social circles due to immobility and lack of comfortable access, transportation and support. However, with the proliferation of smart technology, social media and interactive telecommunications platforms, senior home care means more connection, comfort and engagement than ever before.

Many new technology entrants to the marketplace have infinite applications for home care services, from traditional medical applications to socially-driven engagement capabilities. Not only do these tools bring a much-needed peace of mind to seniors, their caregivers and loved ones, but more importantly, they enable more freedom, more independence and an increased quality of life. Nowadays, just because you’re home doesn’t mean you can’t connect, converse and feel like you’re a part of something outside of your immediate surroundings. And likewise, should a medical emergency arise, it’s these tech enhancements that keep loved ones safe and cared for. Here are a few favorites:

  • Webcams: Installing webcams throughout the home allows both family members and caregivers the ability to virtually check in on the senior at any time. Webcams also allow family members who live far way to video chat with their loved ones.
  • Sensor Monitors: In conjunction with webcams, sensors can be placed throughout the home to track movement. These are particularly handy for seniors with ambulation or wandering issues. Most sensor systems connect to a TV or computer monitor and an Internet connection.
  • Medical Alert Pendants: These handy devices have been around for a few years now, but continue to be updated to increase effectiveness. They are worn by the senior and the button is pressed in the event of a fall or other emergency, connecting the senior to 911 or another emergency response service.
  • Automatic Pill Reminders/Dispensers: These are perfect for patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. An alarm goes off, alerting the senior to take his or her medication by voice message, and dispenses the correct dosage. If the senior misses a dose, an alert is sent to the caregiver after 90 minutes.

At Home Solutions provides a monthly rental service for automatic pill reminder dispensers and medical alert pendants. There is no long-term commitment and there is always the option to purchase the equipment. Contact At Home Solutions today to learn more.

And don’t forget about some of the non-traditional medical and personal care technology—platforms like Facebook, Skype and Facetime as well as gaming platforms such as Wii Fit and Lumosity which add a much-needed layer of engagement, excitement and enjoyment to provide an overall greater quality of life.

Besides providing assistance with in-home technology for seniors, At Home Solutions provides a wide variety of home care services, including personal care, transportation, light housekeeping and specialized disease care management and education. At the core of these home care services is a commitment to creating an increased emotional wellbeing, added social engagement and the utmost in safety and security. Learn more about how At Home Solutions provides a different kind of home care in the Mesa and Casa Grande areas.

Giving Loved Ones Independence by Stepping Back

Posted on: June 10th, 2015 by Kim McCreery

CookingAn increased number of seniors are choosing to remain at home during their elder years, even in the face of injury, illness and ongoing conditions. For adult children, caring for aging parents can prove rife with physical, emotional and social challenges, as they increase their capacity as caregiver and become more and more involved in the day-to-day tasks this critical role requires.

It’s easy to get caught up in the role of caregiver when the situation arises—your parents have done so much for you that, when they reach a point in their lives when help is needed, it’s natural for you to want to do everything you can to make sure they are taken care of. However, it’s important to remember that, for the majority of seniors, maintaining independence was a key factor in their decision to stay at home. While your efforts may be well meaning, it can sometimes be a slippery slope—it’s easy to go from caring for an elderly parent to doing everything for your parent. And often, this well-meaning hands-on caregiving can have an adverse effect on inspiring self-sufficiency and overall day-to-day freedom. As a caregiver, you should strive to promote the independence of your loved one, not take over everything.

Why is promoting independence in seniors so important?

  • Independence enables aging family members to continue making contributions to society, and feel good about that influence.
  • Self-sufficiency gives seniors a sense of achievement and self-worth, critical during their later years.
  • Being able to tackle some tasks independently promotes future self-reliance—if they can do this, they can probably handle that!
  • Independence fights frustration and feelings of futility, even in the wake of illness, injury and general aging.

In these situations, it’s important to put yourself in your aging parents’ shoes. How would you feel if there were things you could do, but weren’t allowed to because someone else had taken over? Allowing your loved ones to do things for themselves provides a sense of purpose and can make them feel self-assured. Bringing in professional assistance from a home care agency such as At Home Solutions also increases your parents’ feeling of empowerment and ability to function successfully at home.

At Home Solutions provides a broad range of companion home care services  across the greater Mesa and Casa Grande area, from light housekeeping and meal preparation to general assistance and lifestyle tasks. Many times through this outside intervention, both elderly parents and their adult children can learn to work better together to foster self-reliance, independence and a better overall quality of life. Contact At Home Solutions today to learn more.

Respite Care for Family Caregivers: Helpful and Healthy for All

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by Kim McCreery

respite care mesaCaring for a loved one day in and day out, without a break, can take its toll. In fact, caregivers often develop health problems themselves as a direct result of their caregiving responsibilities.  To continue to provide the best care possible, caregivers need to put themselves first and take care of their own mental and physical health, as well as their own emotional and social needs. Taking time out through respite care helps family caregivers recharge their batteries and reduce their stress levels so they can continue the work of caring for their loved one without jeopardizing their own wellbeing. Respite care is helpful and healthy for all involved.

When the telltale signs of caregiver burnout pop up—such as depression and hopelessness, trouble sleeping, lack of energy and other personality changes—it’s time to take a step back from the daily responsibility of caring for somebody else, and enjoy some personal time to restore energy. Enlist the help of a friend, a family member or a neighbor, or consider help from a professional caregiver, such as At Home Solutions provides. A professional caregiver can provide emergency respite care, relief for a few days, or better yet, can assist on a weekly or monthly basis, allowing time for personal needs without sacrificing the needs of the care recipient.

Respite care can take place in:

  • An adult day center
  • The home of the person being cared for
  • A residential setting such as an assisted living facility or nursing home
  • A vacation setting

Although caring for a family member or friend can be a huge responsibility, there is no need to feel alone or helpless. Taking time away from care duties, reaching out for help and keeping a positive attitude can help the caregiver and the care recipient enjoy a better quality of life.

The following organizations provide information to caregivers on a variety of topics including respite:

  • The Alzheimer’s Association
  • The Family Caregiver Alliance
  • The National Alliance for Caregiving
  • National Adult Day Services Association

Find out about respite care options through home care services available from At Home Solutions by calling us today at 888-496-3983 or fill out our online inquiry form. At Home Solution serves the Phoenix area with quality home health care solutions through two offices: Our Mesa office serves Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, North Chandler, Apache Junction, and Gold Canyon. Our Case Grande office serves Pinal County in south-central Arizona.

Welcome to the Sandwich Generation: Now What?

Posted on: May 6th, 2015 by Kim McCreery

Home Care Assistance for Sandwich GenerationSome 47 percent of middle-aged adults are “sandwiched” between the daily stresses of caring for aging relatives and their children simultaneously. That figure is up from 45 percent in 2005.

In addition, members of the sandwich generation experience more financial burdens, which add to their stress. And 31 percent said they feel rushed to complete daily activities and chores.

Caregiving is often a one-person show, but it does not need to be if the caregiver has support. Step one is recognizing that there are solutions. Step two is getting educated on ways to make the situation more manageable. Here are a few tips to help:

Hold a family meeting

Discuss the many different caregiving tasks that need to be accomplished each day or week. Set mutual expectations of how the many tasks of caregiving will be accomplished.

Get the facts and avoid surprises

Caregivers should talk to their parents about how they’re doing financially and what plans they’ve made if they become ill or incapacitated.

Ask for assistance

Call resources such as the local Area Agency on Aging, a hospital social worker, a physician, or a church. Call for in-home care from a local agency such as At Home Solutions. Don’t go it alone. We have trained and experienced caregivers and can help you start fixing the problems related to a life out of balance due to multiple care responsibilities.

At Home Solutions provides expert home care solutions for those caught in the sandwich generation. Our Case Grande office serves Pinal County in south-central Arizona. We’d love to hear from you, even if it is just to bounce ideas or connect you with local resources. Trying to figure out what your options are can be very overwhelming if you are doing it alone. And don’t worry, you won’t get a sales pitch, or be pressured into scheduling an appointment. Contact us today at 888-496-3983.

Assistive Devices for Lifting and Transferring Loved Ones when Providing Care at Home

Posted on: April 20th, 2015 by Kim McCreery No Comments

Lift and transfer devicesUsing help to lift or transfer someone doesn’t always mean you need a second pair of hands. There are devices and tools that can help make the process safer for everyone involved. If you have such a device, it’s essential that you understand how to use it properly and to inspect the device regularly to be sure it’s solid. It’s best if you can ask a qualified healthcare professional (such as a physical therapist) to show you how to use the equipment. Some of these items are available for rent, as well as for purchase.

Some types of transfer and lifting equipment include:

  • Transfer or gait belt – This belt goes around the person’s waist and provides you with something sturdy to hold on to. You then can provide support and guidance to the person as he or she moves along a sliding board, gets up or down to/from a seated position, or is walking. Transfer belts must fit and be placed properly for them to be effective and safe.
  • Turning or positioning sheet (sometimes called a piqué) – Small sheets, often of a more durable fabric than regular linen and sometimes backed with waterproof fabric, can be placed underneath someone who is lying in bed. By holding the sides of the positioning sheet, caregivers can help move the person up and down in the bed or from side to side.
  • Sliding board – A board is used as a bridge between two surfaces, such as a bed and a chair, a wheelchair and bath seat, etc. If the person needs extra assistance, support, or security, a transfer belt can be used at the same time.
  • Portable lift, often called a Hoyer lift – A sling, usually a large square of strong fabric or mesh, is placed underneath the person who is going to be moved. The sling is then hooked to cables that are suspended from “arms”, which slowly lift the person off the bed or chair. The person is then guided to the destination and slowly lowered. The sling usually stays in place while the person is sitting in a chair, but is removed when in bed.
  • Ceiling mounted lift – Permanent lifts similar to Hoyer lifts can be installed from the ceiling. The cables run across a track and are usually installed in bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Lift chair – It can be hard for some people to get up from a sitting position if they are in a recliner type of chair. Lift chairs have a mechanism that pushes up the seat, guiding the person who is seated to a standing position.

For more information on devices that can help you provide physical care, please visit At Home Solutions. There you will find resources, including community support. We are here to help you provide quality care at home.

Protect Your Back While Caring for a Loved One

Posted on: April 6th, 2015 by Kim McCreery No Comments

back injuryLifting or helping transfer someone, such as helping him or her move from a bed to a chair, can be hard on a caregiver’s back, especially if you haven’t been trained with the proper techniques. Improper lifting or transferring can result in an injury not only to you, the caregiver, but also to the person you are trying to help.

Back injuries to caregivers usually happen if they are not:

  • Trained in how to properly lift or transfer a person
  • Trained in how to properly use assistive devices
  • Able to recognize their physical limits
  • Physically capable of lifting or transferring
  • Able to recognize when to ask for help

So can you reduce your risk of being injured? Absolutely, and here are some tips that will help.

The most important thing to remember about staying safe is something that is also taught to healthcare workers: know when to ask for help. It may be an instinct to dive right in and do what needs to be done, but there are some situations when you should never try to lift someone alone, no matter how much you feel that you can. They include:

  • If the person has fallen on the floor
  • If the person is not cooperative or is combative
  • If you don’t feel you can do so safely

When people fall on the floor and can’t get back up on their own, it’s usually safest to try to make them as comfortable as possible, with a pillow under the head for example, and then get help.

Staying Safe While Lifting and Transferring

It may be tempting sometimes to cut corners and try to save time when lifting or transferring someone, but this can lead to injury to both you and your loved one. Here are some tips that caregivers should keep in mind for everyone’s safety:

  • Know your limits. Don’t lift or transfer someone you know will be too much for your ability.
  • Encourage the person being transferred to do as much as possible, such as bearing weight if he or she can.
  • Take cues from the person you are moving. Try to move at his or her speed, and watch for signs of discomfort or pain.

For more information on home care and proper body mechanics, please contact At Home Solutions. Our caregivers have been trained in how to lift and transfer clients in a safe and professional manner. Contact us to see how we can help you, with services ranging from personal care to respite care, so you can take a break, reducing the risk of fatigue or injury. Let us help you.

Your Presence is the Best Present

Posted on: December 4th, 2014 by Kim McCreery No Comments

We have all seen it. Adult children go to the mega malls and shop the pricey stores and specialty shops for the fancy gifts and then do the lovely gift wrapping. For an upgraded price, of course, Dillard’s or Macy’s will lavish the heavy embossed paper and velvety ribbon with metal threads to wrap your gift choices. They’ll handle shipping too and enclose a card with your name, often written by someone else.
Yes, while gifts are a tradition of giving at this holiday season for many families, it is really presence that counts the most.
How do I know? It’s easy—recall, reminisce, ask and then give.gift box
Recall
Remember what meant the most to you in your childhood. What are your best memories of your favorite people? Do you still value the wrapped gifts of yesterday today? Or do you recall the moments spent with the people you loved and who loved you?
Throughout life we collect and compile events and moments of emotion—the feelings we had when we spent time together doing something special or simply being ourselves together. Although a gift might have been involved, it’s the emotions that come back and relived over and over. There is always the sense of warmth, caring, togetherness, loving attention, the slight admonition to try harder, the pride of being praised for something well done.
It is not an intellectual behavior nor do physical skills that makes you feel good, but rather an emotional experience that we tend to remember fondly. It is the associated feelings, the attitudes and the senses that we recall. It is awareness and affection, acceptance, and the unconditional value placed upon us by others that we remember fondly.
Reminisce
We remember something like Grandma’s preserves spread on just-baked bread served in that aromatic kitchen and the times spent learning to cook in her kitchen. It was that welcoming smell of baking treats that remain, the pride you sensed when she presented you with very old family recipes to keep the traditions going but especially the times spent with her.
Many adult children recall their own parents with pleasant memories – Mom patiently waiting to help you finish yet another book report or Dad running alongside the bike to keep us safe as we learned to ride without incident. Or both parents sitting through yet another soccer game, recital or play, always proud to tell you and everyone else how well you had performed.
Ask
I really didn’t need to ask, but did. What was something my own mother recalled among her “best presents”? My own mother always recalls the “special salsa” she and her grandson (my son) would make when they got together preparing for holiday time. He could not afford presents, but he could drive 60 miles round trip to see her and spend time with her in her home at holiday time. She loved that together time and delights in talking about it.
The second instance concerned her other grandchild. Mom fondly recalled my young niece’s presence as she taught her to cook while they both worked in Grandma’s kitchen making family favorites for the holidays.
No, Mom never recalls department store stuff. Instead, she appreciates the time of presence with either of her two grandchildren. That was when it connected for me.
The gift of presence is better than presents.
Give
But now it is your turn as an adult child to consider what to give to your parent this holiday season. Will you succumb to “as seen on TV” advertising, seasonal online promotions, or elaborate (but virtually empty) gift baskets purchased from catalogs?
The gift of our presence is a present that endures and that our dear ones especially want and appreciate. Our presence makes the memory. Our presence will later evoke emotion and endearment and a sense of caring for one another.
At this time of heightened commercialism and grand expense, it is comforting to know that it is not the cost that counts, but the personal effort of self to our parents.
Don’t forget to give the gift of presence this Holiday season!

Seniors at Risk: Dehydration

Posted on: July 11th, 2014 by Kim McCreery No Comments

 

Water makes up over 60% of our body. Water is vital to life. You can go weeks without food but only about 3-4 days without water. Unfortunately, many seniors suffer from poor hydration. The challenges of aging including a lack of thirst–our sense of thirst decreases as we age; mobility limitations that make getting to the bathroom and using the toilet more difficult; and incontinence cause some seniors to avoid drinking adequate amounts.

Best Beverages for Hydration
The best liquid to drink is water followed by beverages like unsweetened, decaffeinated tea and coffee, milk, and low sodium soups. Diluted fruit juice can be another option too. Make it half and half. Fruits and vegetables high in water content including melons, cucumbers, and berries help us stay hydrated as well. If eating is an issue, try a simple fruit smoothie made with fruit, ice, and milk. Avoid excess caffeine and concentrated high sugar beverages.

Monitor Your Beverage IntakeIce-Cold-Water1-265x300
8-10 8 ounce glasses a day is advised for most people. Keep track of your intake. Sometimes we don’t know how much we are drinking unless we monitor it. Keep a chart OR set up 8 glasses, grab a permanent marker, number them 1-8 and drink them in order throughout the day. Put each glass away once you finish the beverage inside.  Follow your doctor’s advice if you have a condition that affects or limits fluid intake.

The consequences of poor hydration include low energy, dry skin, poor circulation, constipation, medication concerns, and other potentially serious health issues.  Keeping hydrated is one of the best things we can do for our health. Make it a daily goal to drink up!

If you are concerned about a loved one, read more about the causes and effects of dehydration.

Kim

 

Managing Caregiver Stress Part II: Resources and Solutions

Posted on: June 30th, 2014 by Kim McCreery No Comments

 

After two weeks of keeping a journal, you should now be able to identify your areas of caregiver stress and the accompanying feelings. Maybe you’ve recorded a long list of issues or maybe you’ve seen a pattern of a few recurring thoughts. Below are examples of common caregiver feelings and possible resources or solutions. A list of helpful links can be found at the bottom of this post.

  • I feel resentful because family members aren’t helping so I have to do EVERYTHING. Set up a family meeting. List all the tasks you do and specify the areas where you need help and/or ask family members to identify the areas where they can help. Prepared meals, financial contributions, financial management, respite care, laundry, resource identification…there are numerous ways to assist (see caregiver task list below). Set up a family Google calendar to keep people on track, in the loop, and accountable. If your family has trouble agreeing, hire a geriatric care manager who is experienced in eldercare management.
  • I feel sadness/guilt/anger about my loved one’s condition and my role as the caregiver. Counselors and support groups exist at many local organizations and are also available online. Share your feelings with others in the same boat. Vent, empathize, sympathize, and learn from each other. Get more information about your loved one’s condition to help you better cope.
  • I feel isolated and lonely, like I don’t have a life. Get respite care so you can do the things you like…attend church, participate in a hobby, get a haircut, take regular walks, and go on vacation. Again, it’s helpful to be specific in your request. For instance, perhaps you’d like to go to church followed by breakfast every Sunday. You’ll need respite care from 8-12 to do this. Can a family member provide care? Can you hire someone? Look into adult day care centers as well.
  • I feel helpless and hopeless because I don’t have family to support me. Area Agency on Aging is the place to start. They have a comprehensive list of local resources for everything from home modifications, meals on wheels, medicare/medicaid benefits, support groups, and more. Other options to consider include faith communities, volunteer organizations (some specialize in helping seniors), and home care agencies who can provide professional back-up care.

It’s essential to realize that in order to minimize caregiver stress, support is necessary. That means asking for and getting help. That means you shouldn’t do everything yourself. Make sure you remind yourself of this fact on a regular basis and believe it to be true.

“The healthy and strong individual is the one who asks for help when he needs it. Whether he’s got an abscess on his knee or in his soul.” -Rona Barrett

Caregiver Task List
Shopping and errands
Meal preparation
Transport and advocate role at medical appointments
Laundry and linen changing
Companionship including walks, games, and other activities
Personal care
Housecleaning
Yard work
Bathing and grooming

Helpful Links

Kim

 

 

 

Managing Caregiver Stress Part 1: Identifying Triggers

Posted on: June 12th, 2014 by Kim McCreery No Comments

Are you a family caregiver struggling with stress?

Studies show family caregivers are under a tremendous amount of stress. Many are providing care for a relative for years on end, often with little or no help. Commonly reported feelings and conditions associated with the stress of caring for another include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Feelings of isolation, boredom, anger, resentment, guilt, and hopelessness
  • Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities
  • Poor nutrition, lack of exercise and self-care
  • Sleep deprivation and fatigue due to constant nighttime interruption
  • Low energy and motivation
  • Physical aliments

Identifying Triggers

If you are a caregiver, keeping a journal is a first step to identifying your individual stress triggers and patterns related to caregiving. Once the triggers have been highlighted, you can then apply targeted solutions.
Consider the following questions on a daily basis and write down your answers in a notebook for two weeks.

  • What are my biggest causes of stress related to my caregiving tasks today?
  • How do they make me feel?
  • How do I respond, emotionally, verbally, and physically?
  • Do I take steps to make myself feel better and help alleviate my stress?
  • If yes, what are those steps and how do they provide relief?
  • If no, what do I do instead?

Journaling in this fashion provides self-awareness and can help caregivers face their feelings and stress triggers head on. As you keep track of your days, you should start to detect patterns of behavior. Document these patterns as well.

This exercise is a big first step in the direction of finding solutions to help manage and alleviate your caregiver stress. Often this is the hardest step as guilt can prevent caregivers from even acknowledging they are struggling.

Our next blog post focuses on resources and steps to finding solutions. Stay tuned!

Kim