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I took a short break this afternoon, and when I tuned back into the world of news, I found that the expected winter storm Friday into Saturday was now being called a BLIZZARD WATCH! Eighteen to twenty-four inches are being forecast with high winds. My goodness... We rolled into action to consider the safety of every shift change Friday and Saturday... will the roads the safe? Will it be snowing too heavily? How can we serve clients Saturday night and Sunday morning safely? We will work with families and caregivers to create a plan for any shift changes that may be made unsafe or impossible by this storm. We will be in touch wiht impacted families and caregivers. In the meantime, this is the right moment to share two blog posts I wrote from a past winter storm/blizzard. They contain info about prepping clients' and the caregivers' homes, and other important information. Please review this and then get into action to get ready.Who Will Shelter Your Elder Loved One in an Emergency? http://www.caringcompanion.net/blog/view/1873-who-will-shelter-your-elder-loved-one-in-an-emergencyFirst Possible Winter Storm Coming, Eastern Massachusetts http://www.caringcompanion.net/blog/view/1163-first-possible-winter-storm-coming-eastern-massachusettsEasten Massachusetts Winter Storm Forecast Upgraded To a Blizzardhttp://www.caringcompanion.net/blog/view/1177-eastern-massachusetts-winter-storm-forecast-upgraded-to-a-blizzard
Habilitation Therapy (HT) is considered by the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Association to be the best caregiving practice that exists today. Learn about this comprehensive behavioral approach that will help both dementia patient and caregivers alike, which can help improve their quality of lives dramatically. HT helps difficult symptoms be reduced or eliminated, regardless of what stage of the illness the patient is current experiencing, by skillfully adapting to the capacities of the patient and communicating accordingly. Habilitation Therapy helps caregivers have positive and successful interactions with dementia patients, reducing stress, allowing greater enjoyment of each day.
Read more ...
Last weekend I attended the Aging in America 2012 conference in Washington, DC, and I had a chance to speak to a several large home care franchisors and a few networks of assisted living facilities who are considering adopting our software. While I was in Washington, I also arranged with the National Private Duty Association (NPDA) to give a webinar on family web portals and what features they can or should provide. And in an unexpected and pleasant surprise, NPDA also invited me and Debbie Bier to give a webinar on Alzheimer's training for consumers. All of that activity made for an exciting week and weekend!
As one would expect for a Washington DC conference,
New technologies to help seniors, the disabled and their caregivers are being launched every day. It's a huge, growing industry worth billions of dollars annually. But there are so many new products and services coming to market that most people feel confused and overwhelmed. Do these devices mean real aid for aging in place, or just a new way to part elders with their money?
Learn how to sort out the "toys and gadgets" from the helpful technologies on the market today. "Aging, Disability & New Technologies: Real Hype or Real Help?" Instructors Jim Reynolds and Deborah Bier, PhD will help participants make more wise choices in this bewildering, rapidly expanding marketplace.
The session will review some of the
Caring Companion Home Care has adopted and trains our caregivers in habilitation therapy when caring for clients with Alzheimers Disease and related dementias (ADRD). This approach was developed at the Massachusetts Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, and is considered to be the best standard of care for all types of dementia. Sadly, it is not in as widespread use in all aspects of elder care as it should be.
Habilitation therapy is a comprehensive behavioral approach to caring for people with dementia. It focuses
The "Sages and Seekers" program will be unfolding again at Concord, MA's Concord Academy. This program brings "Sages" over 65 and "Seekers" among the CA student population together for 8 weeks to learn about one another. This excellent video shows the program from several viewpoints.
They are seeking several Sages to participate in this semester's program, which begins next week. If you are interested in being part of the event, please contact the creator and coordinator, Ms. Elly Katz at 508 444 8821, 508 333 0490 (cell) or
Course instructor Deborah Bier, PhD (photo, below right) has been a health care educator, author, and wellness coach for over 20 years. She holds a doctorate in therapeutic counseling, and has helped hundreds of individuals and families to live better with chronic illness and disability. She is the director of the Concord, MA office of Caring Companion Home Care. (www.CaringCompanion.Net) and has lived in Concord for 30 years.
Middlesex Community College's MILES Program (Middlesex Institute for Lifelong Education for Seniors) offers intellectual stimulation, interaction, and friendship for adults ages 50+. Some of the topics explored through MILES include history, politics, arts, fitness, health, safety, music, computers, internet, travel, business, psychology, law, poetry and opera. Courses have no term papers, exams or grades, and are held at their Bedford campus. They are facilitated by individuals with expertise in topics based on professional, educational or personal experience. Semester membership fee of $95 includes access to all MILES courses. MILES is an afffiliate of the Elderhostel Institute Network.
For more information or to register, call 781-280-3570 or e-mail Chris Lindsey at
here. To reach the instructor, email
By Susanne Liebich (photo at right)
Editor's Note: This program is an excellent example of what we believe here at CCHC: that our clients are first and foremost people with challenges, not full-time patients. The difference living this point of view is profound, as this article makes abundantly clear.
The healing power of dance… I stand here to vouch for its validity. And in particular, I want to tell you about a technique called Dance for Parkinson’s Disease developed by Mark Morris Dance Group in 2001. This technique is not about therapy, yet it is therapeutic. It is not about exercise, yet for most, it is a wonderful workout using the whole body in different ways. Dance for Parkinson’s Disease is a pedagogy that integrates ballet with imagery, balance, mobility exercises, expression and enjoyment of the art dance. It’s about creating something aesthetically beautiful and creative with the body. It’s about appreciating dance for dance’s sake in a group setting and to explore the range of physical and creative possibilities that are still very much open to individuals with Parkinson’s.
The upcoming film, Last Will and Embezzlement, starring Mickey Rooney and a host of legal and elder experts, will shine a light on the huge and growing problem of financial abuse of elders. The movie-makers' hope is to help those who have potentially-vulnerable adults in their lives to be on the look-out for signs of victimization, and maybe even make some waves in the communities where the rights of these citizens are not being looked after and protected by the public servants and law enforcement officials who are charged with that responsibility.
Download a flyer for this web conference here
Caring Companion Home Care of Concord, MA and the nonprofit National Private Duty Association (NPDA) will host a consumer education web conference entitled Depression and Older Adults – What Every Caregiver Should Know on March 13, 2012, at 8 p.m. EST. The live and interactive program will provide advice on how family caregivers can work with professionals to identify this condition and develop an effective plan of care for a loved one with depression. Caregivers will learn how to identify key issues and problems, locate needed experts and resources, and outline a plan to provide the best care for a parent. The event is free of charge and anyone can participate.
“Unrecognized, untreated depression is widespread among elders, who may present somewhat different symptoms, and who may need different types of treatment than younger people,” said Deborah Bier, PhD, director of the Concord office of Caring Companion. Bier holds a doctorate in therapeutic counseling, and has spent more than 20 years working with people of all ages with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. “Effective treatment can bring about an amazing improvement in quality of life and ability to function. This webinar is the type of increased public education and awareness that’s sorely needed.”
Where do families turn when they realize that a parent’s memory is fading? Dealing with the emotions surrounding the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most feared illness in the U.S. after cancer, is difficult. The MetroWest Alzheimer Partnership, in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association, is hosting an educational program that is free and open to the public on Saturday, March 31st at Whitney Place in Natick.
Concrete help for families can be elusive as they struggle to provide daily caregiving, research local resources such as residential and day programs, and find local support networks. Especially difficult for families is when their loved one starts to exhibit some of the troubling behavior commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The event features nationally recognized Alzheimer expert, Paul Raia, Ph.D (above right).
Note: The following was published in our monthly column "Living and Loving: Elder Care in the 21st Century" in Gate House News' Concord Journal. We will continue this theme of dementia in this blog with periodic articles on the subject.
The popular cultural view of Alzheimers Disease and other dementias is that they are all about pain, tragedy and heartbreak. But this is only part of the story -- stop there, and we are robbed of real sweetness.
The wisdom that care partners (family, friends and professionals) can glean from people with memory problems can be profound. If viewed through an all-too-often missing lens, and by utilizing known best practices, time with such folks can also be enlightening, love-filled and satisfying.
Here are five life-affirming lessons I've received from “Habilitation Therapy,” the best standard of care for those with dementia, their families and professional caregivers. I believe that what helps dementia patients feel happy, calm, secure and fulfilled actually represents vital life lessons reduced to their essence, revealing wisdom of the ages.
Note: The following was published in our monthly column "Living and Loving: Elder Care in the 21st Century" in Gate House News' Concord Journal. We will continue this theme of elders and emergency preparedness in this blog with periodic articles on the subject.
We are now in the middle of the Holiday Trifecta -- Thanksgiving is past, and the year-end holidays are around the corner. Holidays can be especially stressful for those of us whose parents may be declining. This covers a wide range -- in some cases, it can be as simple as realizing that you will need to begin to devote regular efforts to help a loved manage through daily life; in others, we might face the grief of knowing, or fearing, that this is probably the last holiday season together.
Because remote family members visit so often during the holidays, we often receive requests at this time of year to help assess whether someone is still safe, and to identify the kinds of help available and what might be needed. We also notice enormous stress in uncertain adult children hoping to do the right thing with their parents while navigating uncharted waters. In this column, we will provide holiday visit guidelines, from how to manage a short trip to considering whether a member can continue to live alone, safely and unaided.
On Day 4 without power following our recent late-October snowstorm, a woman in her 90s slowly rolled into a municipally-run emergency shelter at a nearby metro-west Boston town. Leaning heavily on her walker, she looked at the shelter manager wearily and said, "I'm cold. I want to sleep here tonight." Her caregiver interjected quickly, "I have to get back home,” eyeing the exit.
The shelter manager quizzed them about the elder's ability to function independently. How much care was needed, and what type? It turns out that the caregiver came 3-4 days a week; the senior was a bit confused, not fully independent in several of the activities of daily living, nor could she manage her own medications safely. Just not handling her medications independently was enough of a deal breaker, according to the manager. "I'm sorry, but this shelter cannot accommodate you," said the manager. "You'll have to find somewhere else to stay."
Note: The following was published in our monthly column "Living and Loving: Elder Care in the 21st Century" in Gate House News' Concord Journal
Aging has changed during the past generation. From an elderly woman choosing to live alone in Belmont, MA rather than enter assisted living, to a Concord wife with mild dementia struggling to provide senior care for her ailing husband, to a Bedford couple in their 90s and still home with outside help, we see many more families with elders who have moderate to significant needs. Those terms of care can stretch into years.
This requires a change in attitudes and expectations for families to reduce their stress. It’s necessary to reset our expectations and assumptions that result from such widespread changes. Let me illustrate with a story.
Ted and Mikie
Stressed out caregivers... stressed out clients... stressed out families! We all have to deal with stress in our world, but caring for (and being!) an elder loved one can add new tensions in our day. But there is a lot we can do about addressing our stress levels, including using powerful minds to create greater easy and relaxation. And it can be done in just a moment!
Though a long weekend at a retreat sounds like it would be required to bring our stress down a notch or three, actually our minds are so powerful that we can make a real difference in our lives by practicing brief moments of very simple meditation. Studies have shown that momentary relaxation techniques practiced regularly can impact not just our sense of stress, but our physiologic functioning as well. Now, that's powerful stuff!
Below is a sweet little video about one such brief meditation technique. Teach not just to yourself, but to your elder loved ones -- and practice it with them. A stressful moment is a wonderful time to pause and say, "Hey, let's both take a minute to relax and meditate." Bet things seems different when you come back to whatever it is that's been stressing you! (Please let us know in comments how this works for you....)
I remind caregivers when they feel overwhelmed that their presence with the client is a powerful tool, and suggest they focus on that. The ones who "get it" -- their eyes open wider, they breathe deeper and sigh, "Yeeeessss...." This article is about the enormous power of presence (thanks Pam Ressler of Stress Resources for the pointer to this blog post!)
Hope at the End of Life by Judith Leipzig on The Being Blog
Thanks to The Concord Journal for publishing a story about us in in today's edition. It's about how our Dr. Deborah Bier has become certified to teach the Alzheimer's Association's home care giver training course, and how vital it is to have trained caregivers for such patients. Read it here online.
Joanne Koenig Coste, author of Learning to Speak Alzheimers, a nationally-recognized expert on the living with the disease, will speak at Newbury Court in Concord on Wednesday, August 10 in a presentation free and open to the public.
Coste has been an outspoken advocate for patient and family care for Alzheimers patients since 1973. She is the ground-breaking co-inventor of the compassionate, easy-to-learn and common sense approach to Alzheimer's care known as habilitation. Using this method, patients and those who care for them devote themselves to making life as comfortable and pleasant as possible for both the patient and family.
She is constantly in demand for lectures and consultations nationwide. "We are so fortunate that she is coming here", said Jim Reynolds, CEO of Caring Companion Home Care headquartered in Concord, MA. "Many of our client families have a loved one suffering from dementia and we recommend her book over all others. I found the training I took based on her work to be the most valuable I have had about dealing with Alzheimer's sufferers."
Habilitation has won praise from health care professionals. The founding director of the National Institute of Aging, Dr. Robert N. Butler, wrote the introduction to Coste's book, and she estimates that at least 100 nursing homes and assisted-living centers have adopted her methods.
"When I first began my work in dementia care over 20 years ago, the philosophy of care and approach centered on Reality Orientation," says Claire Henry, Dementia Specialist and principle of Caring Resourcesin Norwood, MA. "The philosophy of Habilitation Therapy has done tremendous service for the dementia client, particularly in regard to their need to preserve 'personhood'. "Coste is currently in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. She also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.
This lecture will be held at 4 pm in the North Community Room at Newbury Court, 80 Deaconess Road. Reserve your seat by calling Deb Boyden at 978 402-8223.
NOTE: Elders, babies and those with certain illnesses are at greater risk for heat stress than others. Please take this information to heart! For people not located in Concord, MA, please contact your municipal fire/police departments to find out what types of services are avaiaable to you for cooling.
By Mark R. Cotreau, Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director, Town of Concord Fire Department
As you are most likely aware, we are in for a few days of extremely hot weather conditions. Please see the below advisory issued by MEMA. Additionally residents can access a cooling shelter as noted below:
In response to the extreme temperatures forecast for the next few days, the Harvey Wheeler Community Center will be open as a cooling center Thursday and Friday, 12 noon until 9pm. There are no age restrictions. Please feel free to stop by if you would like to escape the extreme temperatures forecast. If transportation is an issue, during business hours please call 978-318-3020 (the COA Office), or after hours please call 978-318-3400 (Public Safety Dispatch).
Please remember that the Concord Public Library - Main Library and Fowler Branch - are also air conditioned and welcome the public. The Main Library and Fowler Branch summer hours vary somewhat, and are posted on the Library web site at http://www.concordlibrary.org/pages/general.info.html#hours
Remember last winter when we all wished for warmer weather?
With the extremely hot weather the Commonwealth is experiencing, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is advising people to be cautious and is offering some tips to help keep cool and safe.
“A few common sense measures can reduce heat-related problems, especially for the elderly, the very young and people with respiratory ailments, who are more susceptible to the effects of high temperatures,” said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. “Here are some tips to follow to stay safe during this hot, humid weather.”
· Slow down, avoid strenuous activity. Do not try to do too much on a hot day.
· Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect heat and sunlight and help maintain normal body temperature. Protect your face with a wide-brimmed hat.
· Drink plenty of water regularly and often, even if you do not feel thirsty. Attempt to stay hydrated.
· Limit intake of alcoholic beverages. They can actually dehydrate your body.
· Eat well-balanced, light, regular meals. Avoid high protein foods that increase metabolic heat.
· Stay indoors as much as possible.
· If you do not have air conditioning, stay on your lowest floor, out of the sun. Electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help evaporate perspiration, which cools your body.
· Go to a place where you can get relief from the heat, such as air conditioned schools, libraries, theaters and other community facilities that may offer refuge during the warmest times of the day.
· Check with your community for information about possible local ‘cooling centers’. You may also want to call 2-1-1 for ‘cooling center’ information or go to <http://www.mass211.org/>www.mass211.org.
· Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80%.
· Avoid too much sunshine. Sunburn slows the skin’s ability to cool itself. If you are outside, use sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating.
· Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle.
· Check on family, friends and neighbors.
In normal weather, the body’s internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body. However, in extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain normal temperature, which may lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you believe you, or anyone you are with, is experiencing a heat-related medical emergency, promptly call 911, and if possible, move to a cooler place.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MEMA provides leadership to: develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats; train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry; and assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man made. For additional information about MEMA and Preparedness, go to www.mass.gov/mema. Follow MEMA updates on Facebook and Twitter.
Our custom app tracks iPhone/Android-toting seniors at risk of getting lost. Call for details!
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