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Teepa Snow is a dynamic, inspiring, insightful coach for professionals and families who support Alzheimer's patients. She will appear in Newton on Wed May 29, 2013, to give a FREE seminar, entitled Essentials for Your Journey Together. This is a rare chance to see such a gifted speaker on Alzheimer's Disease. At Caring Companion Home Care, we use videos of some of Teepa's training when we train our own caregivers to work with Alzheimer's patients. She is funny and empathetic, and her West Virginia accent stays in Massachusetts ears long after the video ends. If Alzheimer's is an issue in your life, take the chance to see Teepa.
Essentials for Your Journey Together
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Yesterday I attended a presentation by Dr Gregory Martin, Chief Medical Officer of Emerson Hospital in Concord MA. Dr Martin highlighted, with justifiable pride, a recent program by Emerson to reduce their already-low rate of hospital infection. Anyone familiar with current elder care issues at hospitals knows the concern that the facilities can be a petri dish of infection, and with frail elders and compromised immune systems, the risk of becoming sicker in a place designed for healing is one of the frustrating ironies in today's health care world.As a home care agency owner, I was particularly interested in his remarks about reducing infection for clients with catheters, since so many of our clients have them.
Earlier this week I attended a meeting of the New England Health Information Management Systems Socitey (NEHIMSS) about use of mobile technology in health care, including home care. The session, delivered by Dr Fernando Martinez, focused on hospital systems and issues of security and cost as well as quality of care. But I was again struck by the importance of the data collected by home care workers and the potential to improve health outcomes, reduce cost, raise patient quality of life, and lower the stress of family caregivers if the data is documented and followed by either an educated lay person (family member or non-medical case worker), so that earlier intervention can eliminate hospital stays.
Karen Tannenholz works in our office, and last summer she faced the kind of sudden medical emergency we help many people through. Stressed families often imagine their circumstances are unique, but Karen’s story reveals threads common among many: feelings of growing confusion, helplessness, stress, anger, and even humor are all normal. Ultimately, deeper appreciation of each other can emerge as we navigate together through some of life’s most difficult passages. To hear Karen’s story, click 'Read More' below:
Planning elder care is fraught with emotional minefields. Perhaps nothing is harder than when dementia or Alzheimer's strike, and a loved one’s skills or judgment has degraded and family action is required. This may mean taking away car keys, insisting that a caregiver comes part of the week, or that the elder move to live in a facility. This is always easier if you know that your parent, when entirely competent, had expressed a preference for how to handle the situation. The trouble is that we find that many families have not made such plans.
This is the first of a series of blog posts on lessons learned on navigating that difficult terrain. In future posts, we will address how to handle situations when someone’s competence has declined due to dementia, stroke, or other factors. For today, we will assume the elder is competent to make decisions. This leads to our first recommendation:
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.”
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.
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
I'm middle-aged, and I go through this all the time: where are my house keys... purse... car in the parking lot? How did I forget those printouts for the meeting... to defrost tonight's dinner... to move the wet wash to the dryer before it gets moldy? Sometimes, I'm suddenly concerned I've forgotten an important meeting, but can't recall quickly what day of the week it is today -- much less when that appointment was to take place -- which sends me scrambling for my calendar.
Now, I was about to make an important point here, but I've forgotten what it was... darn! Looking above for reminders... oh, right!
We middle-aged people caring for parents, children, spouses, paid work, projects, community work, and somehow ourselves often become forgetful and distracted. Many of us worry that we are acting uncomfortably like our parents and other elders who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias. Do we have it, too?
Pre-season practices for my kids are underway. College selection is kicking into high gear for our daughter, a CCHS junior. My wife adds a design course to existing commitments. Work is gearing back up. And Mom, nearing 80 in Florida, has begun to need quite a bit of attention. The irony is that I own a home care agency, Caring Companion Home Care in Concord so I talk to busy families in this situation every day.
The Concord Journal has asked me to write a monthly column about elder care for our generation, and what better time to introduce it than during the hectic Back-To-School season? I’ll share the column with our Concord district director, Dr. Deborah Bier (no stranger to readers of these pages), a PhD with 20 years’ experience counseling multi-generational families. We’ll try to provide practical advice combined with a philosophical approach that we have found maximizes the experience of both our elder clients and the adult children who love and care for them.
So in this season of To-Do Lists, here is one that can help keep Mom and Dad safe and keep you sane – and that will hopefully allow you time to enjoy each other and your lives.
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.
Anyone who works at a Massachusetts home care agency is surrounded by a wealth of resources, but none of them is more valuable than Joanne Koenig-Coste, the nationally-known author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Joanne spoke recently at Newbury Court, an assisted living facility in Concord Massachusetts, on her passionate devotion to people with Alzheimer's over the past 40 years. At Caring Companion, we recommend her book over all others to families and those who work with Alzheimer's people. Anyone who has heard her speak knows that her compassion and energy flow freely from her, and many more ideas flow from her than can be captured in a single blog post. Rather than try that, I have captured three great ideas from her recent address. I'll blog on others at another time. So for this week, here we go from Joanne:
I am so very proud of our wonderful staff, and want to pay tribute here to their amazing work.
Yesterday I attended the funeral for a Newton, Massachusetts, home care client for whom we cared literally up to the moment of her recent passing. Four of our caregivers also attended, and I knew they had done an absolutely super job on this assignment for this very special woman and her family. But it wasn't until the service that I got to hear, directly from the family, chapter and verse of just how special their work was. I am so moved and proud by the warmth, love, tenderness, and care they gave that I want to pay tribute to them here.
Improving home care for elderly Massachusetts senior citizens has become passion of mine, and recently I was asked to address the New England Home Care Conference in Newton, MA, on how to use web technology to improve the quality of senior care, or eldercare. So I ask the room a seemingly-obvious question: “How many of you registered for this online?” Dozens of hands went up among attendees of the largest home care conference in New England, which was the first partnership of the state home care associations in the region. I continued with more obvious questions: How many made your travel reservations online? Dozens. How many shop, pay bills, check kids’ school schedules? Dozens, dozens, dozens -- in each case, nearly everyone.
Then came the punch line.
June 8, 2011, 8:00am–10:00am
50 W Main St, Hopkinton, MA
Golden Pond Assisted Living
50 W Main St, Hopkinton, MA 01748
Breakfast: 8 am
Presentation & Q&A: 8:30-10 am
RSVP to Golden Pond by June 6 at 508 435-1250
Sleep disturbances… resistance to care… suspiciousness… sundowning… hoarding… rummaging… These challenging behaviors can be frustrating, frightening, and exhausting for families and caregivers of dementia and alzheimers patients.
Dr. Deborah Bier (photo, right) from Caring Companion's metrowest Boston office is involved in several presentations coming up in the next few weeks that are open to the public. Click on "more info here" below to download a fuller description for each event.
Wayland, MA, Tuesday, April 6, 7 PM, Public Library: Part 2 of 2, "What's New in Aging?" Learn how the new challenges and opportunities of aging in the 21st century can come together to benefit elders and those with disabilities. “21st Century Caregiving: Essentials for Caring for a Disabled or Aging Loved One” is a free lecture and community service. (more info here) REGISTER HERE
The new “Homestead Advantage Program” is being offered by Caring Resources of Norwood, MA. This program provides a cost-effective approach to dementia care and is aimed at helping dementia patients, their families and caregivers create the right environment and enable meaningful relationships.
Homestead Advantage encompasses individual caregiver education, support, guidance, care planning and appropriate referral sources to best meet the needs of the dementia client. This program includes a personalized, at-home assessment by a Certified Dementia Practitioner, a Geriatric Psychiatrist, and a Licensed Independent Social Worker to meet the clinical, social, and environmental needs of the dementia client.
Recently, I was honored to be part of a four-person panel at the Wayland Public Library speaking on the topic "What's New in Aging?" We discussed navigating the new terrain of aging in the 21st century, followed by a question and answer session from the audience. Juergen H. Bludau, MD (photo at right), Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital geriatrician, and Carol Sneider Glick, Esq, elder law specialist with Squillace & Associates of Boston, were wonderful fellow panelists. (Part 2 of this talk is scheduled for April 6, 7pm at the same location - register here)
I want to note here high points of the evening, including the excellent questions the audience brought. I felt very much at home in the company of these speakers, all on the front lines of bringing best-quality care in a quickly changing landscape. My fellow panelists as well as the audience of about 45 from Wayland, Weston and beyond were enthusiastic and engaged with every presenter's points.
We meet regularly with other firms serving the Massachusetts elder care and home care market to discuss how we can work together to serve our clients better. At one meeting recently, I was especially impressed with the elder law firm of Summers and Summers in Acton, MA. They are trying to think about elder law and elder care in new ways to serve a changing market. This is the kind of thinking required to address the demographic and market changes facing us today.
Summers and Summers has expanded their elder law practice to offer Geriatric Care Management services as well. Attorney Cathleen Summers is a Registered Nurse and a Geriatric Care Manager as well. We know many outstanding GCMs, but most are independent or work at hospitals or home care agencies. Combining elder law and geriatric care management is rare -- unique, in our experience -- but makes a great deal of sense. The job of a Geriatric Care Manager is to look at and to manage the "big picture" of a family's elder care needs. This usually includes estate planning and other legal services, many of which are offered on a transaction basis without developing a relationship between the law firm and the family.
By Guest Blogger, Paula von Kleydorff, Program Director, Carleton-Willard At Home
(Editor's Note: Caring Companion is proud to be a Carlton-Willard At Home recommended provider; CWatHome members enjoy special pricing or other considerations from recommended providers)
Carleton-Willard At Home is in the forefront of what is being called a “Village Movement.” In 2001, Beacon Hill Village was the first in the country to begin providing comprehensive services to local residents who preferred to remain in their homes as they aged. Across the United States there are now 54 organizations similar to At Home and another 100 in development. Some are in the middle of urban areas, others are suburban and one in California covers hundreds of miles. But all have a common goal – giving local residents the peace of mind and support needed to age in place.
This past November, representatives from many of these groups came together in Philadelphia under the auspices of the Village to Village Network, a national organization launched last year. Throughout the two day conference, new and developing groups listened to and shared their stories, compared program offerings and brainstormed about ways to operate more effectively and efficiently.
Our custom app tracks iPhone/Android-toting seniors at risk of getting lost. Call for details!
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