Archive for the ‘Caregivers’ Category

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.

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.

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
Yard work
Bathing and grooming

Helpful Links





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!


Reasons for Hiring a Homecare Agency like At Home Solutions

Posted on: September 27th, 2013 by Kim McCreery No Comments

Seniors and adults with disabilities have many choices when it comes to home care; however it’s important to understand that all companies don’t operate the same.  At Home Solutions recommends thoroughly screening each company before making a decision. To help with this process, we provide a home care checklist containing questions to ask when interviewing caregiving agencies and registries.

Reputable home care agencies implement and maintain processes that ensure high standards of care. Below is a list of reasons why At Home Solutions is great choice when it comes to providing home care for your loved one.

    1. Only caregivers with verifiable experience are hired by At Home Solutions (AHS).
    2. AHS Caregivers are personally interviewed and thoroughly screened before being hired.
    3. New hire caregivers must pass a 30 hour caregiving training course or pass a 180 question and knowledge care demonstration test. They also must be certified in CPR and First Aid. Monthly continuing education is mandatory.
    4. Home care agencies handle all employee expenses and IRS taxes so you won’t have to.

  1. AHS employees are bonded and the company maintains a general and professional liability policy which means you will never be liable for any work injury claims.
  2. Care coordinators conduct free needs assessments, home safety checks, set up a care plan, hand-pick caregivers, and manage care every step of the way.
  3. Care Coordinators are on call 24/7.
  4. Care Coordinators can help refer trustworthy community partners like Home Health, Hospice, Medical Equipment, Legal Assistance, Geriatric Care Managers, Home Repair and more.
  5. AHS guarantees staffing. If a caregiver is ill, a care coordinator will provide care so the client doesn’t go without.
  6. AHS is a highly respected home care agency serving Arizona since 2001. We are contracted with the Arizona Long Term Care System, The Southern Arizona VA Health Care System, and have been honored as a top 25 workplace for women.


Nutrition Series: Protein Recommendations

Posted on: April 22nd, 2013 by Kim McCreery No Comments

Good nutrition is one of the pillars of good health. This week we start a 6 week series of simple, straightforward posts on different components of nutrition to help seniors, adults with disabilities, and caregivers make informed food decisions. As a bonus, each week we will include a recipe based on the topic. Week one: Protein Recommendations. Remember to consult your doctor before you make major changes to your diet especially if you are on medications and/or have a medical condition.


Protein Recommendations

1. Mix it up. Most reasonable diets provide enough protein for healthy people. Eating a variety of foods will ensure that you get all of the amino acids you need.

2. Go low on saturated fat. Beans, fish and poultry provide plenty of protein, without much saturated fat. Steer clear of fatty meats and use whole-milk dairy products sparingly.

3. Limit red meat—and avoid processed meat. Research suggests that people who eat even modest amounts of red meat have a higher risk of developing colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, and a higher risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, or any cause. There’s also substantial evidence that replacing red meat with fish, poultry, beans, or nuts, could help prevent heart disease
and diabetes—and could lower the risk of early death. So make red meat (beef, pork, lamb) only an occasional part of your diet—no more than two 3-ounce servings a week—if you eat it at all. And skip the processed stuff—bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats—since that’s linked even more strongly to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes risk.

4. Eat soy in moderation. Tofu and other soy foods are an excellent red meat alternative. In some cultures, tofu and soy foods are a protein staple, and we don’t suggest any change. But if you haven’t grown up eating lots of soy, there’s no reason to go overboard: Two to four servings a week is a good target.

5. Balance carbs and protein. Cutting back on highly processed carbohydrates and increasing protein improves levels of blood triglycerides and HDL, and so may reduce your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other form of cardiovascular disease. It may also make you feel full longer, and stave off hunger pangs.


Protein Packed Peanut Butter Chocolate Balls Recipe

  • 1 cup of low-fat peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup of Instant protein shake mix (found in the health section of your grocery store). Recommended brands: Aria Protein Shake Mix 50% whey/50% soy chocolate flavored; Gensoy Soy Protein Shake chocolate flavored.)

In a microwave safe bowl, heat peanut butter and honey for about 30 seconds to soften. Stir together and gradually add the protein. Mix well. Form into balls and place on wax paper. Cool and refrigerate. Variation: roll balls in chocolate chips, coconut, granola.

Family Caregivers in the Workplace

Posted on: April 5th, 2013 by Kim McCreery No Comments


National studies report:

• 44.4 million Americans—21% of the adult population—are caregivers to older relatives or friends. 60% of these caregivers are employed

• Family caregivers provide more than 80% of all home care services

• Of today’s family caregivers, 40% provide some level of nursing support

These trends result in the demand for workplace eldercare programs. According to a recent SHRM survey, elder care referrals are offered by 39% of companies with 2,501 to 5,000 employees, and by 31% of companies with more than 5,000 employees.

What are the employee problems?

• Coming to work late/leaving work early

• Increased absenteeism and workday interruptions, with an average of 166 lost hours of productivity per employee

• Taking unpaid leaves of absence or using personal or sick days to provide care

• Refusing relocation or work-related travel

• Refusing overtime work or new assignments

• Increased healthcare benefit utilization because often they end up more sick than the person for whom they are providing care (in fact, according to a University of Pittsburgh study, caregiver mortality rates are 63% above that of non-caregivers)

• 20% will quit their jobs to provide care full time

What are the greatest needs for working caregivers?

• Flexibility in work schedules

• Information about services and aging in general

• Support from coworkers and supervisors

• Help in making decisions about care options and related issues

If you are or know of a family caregiver who is struggling to manage work and family, contact At Home Solutions. We can help with respite (relief care), information about community resources, and much more.


Senior Care Contributes to Happiness

Posted on: March 28th, 2013 by Kim McCreery No Comments








Most people who choose the profession of caregiving do it because they find fulfillment and happiness in helping people. I’ve talked to several of our employees who have told me that at the end of the day, they feel like they’ve made a difference by improving the quality of life for another person. I’ve also heard from many clients and their family members over the years (read some of our testimonials) and they’ve confirmed this to be absolutely true.

Our caregivers make a huge difference in the lives of seniors and adults with disabilities. They make our clients more comfortable, they provide caring companionship, and they help them stay
safe and more independent. According to AARP, “Nearly 90% of people over age 65 indicate they want to stay in their home as long as possible, and four of five in that age bracket believe their current home is where they will always live.”

So we might conclude that in-home caregiving is a win-win scenario. Caregivers are happier because they are making a difference in people’s lives and seniors are happier because their expressed desire to age in place is being fulfilled!






Are You Looking For Rewarding Work?

Posted on: March 21st, 2013 by Kim McCreery No Comments

Compassionate caregiver applicants wanted immediately. Do you like helping people? Are you good in one-on-one situations?

Our home care aides make a difference in the lives of seniors and adult with disabilities on a daily basis. Home care aides provide care in the home to help clients live independently and safely in their houses as long as possible with the best quality of life.

Our aides have helped clients learn how to walk and better communicate after strokes. We’ve help clients manage their chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, Cancer, Diabetes, CHF, and COPD by documenting blood sugar levels and weights, preparing healthy meals, providing medication reminders, and transporting them to doctor appointments.  We’ve helped people recover after hospital and/or rehabs stays by picking up prescriptions and providing personal care such as bathing, dressing, skin care, and bed care. We provide respite (relief) care too,  so family members can get away for a well-deserved break.

If you are looking for rewarding work, visit our employment page and fill out an online application today.