What to Expect When You’re Expecting

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I would bet that most moms have read this book.  Back when I was pregnant it seemed like this was the ‘go to’ book to prepare for what was yet to come.  Personally, I remember reading and highlighting the pages, trying to ready myself for this enormous change that was about to happen to my life. I loved that book because it prepared me for the unknown. By the time my baby arrived I was armed with information- I was ready (or so I thought!).

On the complete opposite end of the life spectrum it seems like we are less and less prepared for growing old. It’s almost as if aging sneaks up on us. Maybe it’s denial that it’s happening, or maybe it’s because we are so busy thinking about everything else- but it seems like we could use a “What to Expect When You Grow Old” book?

If I were to write such book, I’d include a chapter on what to expect when hiring homecare. Hiring help in the home can be a wonderful way to ‘age in place’. People can receive care similar to what they would get in an Assisted Living, but in the comfort of their own home. And as with any new thing, it’s helpful to know what to expect.

Below are my top 10 tips on – “what to expect when hiring homecare”.

  • 1.Expect a to have an assessment the homecare agent will spend a couple of hours asking questions and gathering information on what exactly the client is looking for. They need all of this info so that they can then write up a plan of care tailored to the particular client.  This is also a great opportunity for the client to get to know the homecare agency. They can ask questions and learn more about who they will be working with.

 

  • 2.Expect several days between the assessment and when care actually starts. Many people assume that caregivers are available at a moment’s notice, but this is unrealistic. In some emergency cases agencies will be able to provide a caregiver with little notice, but for most clients finding the right caregiver, who has the appropriate skill set and availability, may take time. We’ve had clients expect care immediately- and when we aren’t able to provide that they move on to another homecare agency- only to have the exact same situation. Be patient… we want to make the best possible match and that might take time- but it will be worth the wait.

   

  • 3.Expect communication– the homecare company should communicate with you on who will be caring for you or your loved one. They should also communicate to you any changes in scheduling or concerns the caregiver has about the client’s health or status. They should be available 24/7 to answer emergency calls.

 

  • 4.Expect trained caregivers who are certified nursing assistants. If you are receiving 24 hour, overnight or live in care- expect that there will be more than one caregiver caring for you. It is impossible for one person to work that many hours!

   

  • 5.Expect the agency to do all they can to provide consistency. Expect that sometimes the same caregiver might not be available (people do get sick or have emergencies), but expect the agency to have a back up caregiver to provide service.
  • 6.Expect that homecare is paid for privately- or with long term care insurance.  Unfortunately, it is not covered by Medicare.

 

  • 7.Expect that the caregiver might not look busy 100% of the time. Many people hire caregivers to assist them with their daily needs and help with light housekeeping or transportation- but there will be some down time when the housework is done and the client is asleep or comfortable. The caregiver may be reading a book or watching TV. They are there and ready to assist as needed- but know that they may not look busy all of the time.

   

  • 8.Expect to be able to make changes to the schedule– you decide how much care you want, when you want it. Most agencies have a 4 hour minimum- but otherwise it is up to you to decide how much care is necessary.  As a courtesy, if you are cancelling care- you should call at least 24 hours in advance avoid being charged.

 

  • 9.Expect that English may not be the first language of the caregiver. In our 9 years of providing care we have found that some of the best caregivers were born in different countries. However, it is always our goal to hire people who can communicate clearly.

 

  • 10.Most of all, expect compassion, professionalism and respect. Expect a relationship you can trust. 

Knowing what to expect when hiring homecare can help alleviate any concerns. Having a realistic view of what to expect makes the whole process much smoother. 

Please let us know how we can assist you or your loved one. Capability Homecare strives to be an industry leader in providing safe, compassionate care in the home.

Call us today 425 679 5770.  

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When Ho, Ho, Ho feels More Like Ho Hum

This is the time of year when it seems like everyone is full of cheer- but truth be told, not everyone you see is feeling joyful. In fact, depression is actually quite common during the holidays- especially among the elderly.

Sadly,  the elderly population ranks 2nd in the nation for the highest suicide rate.*

During this holiday season, if you notice things that make you concerned about a loved one, there are a few signs to look for if you fear they may be suffering from depression:

  1. Mental exhaustion
  2. Loss of interest in normal activities
  3. Recurrent thoughts of death
  4. Loss of appetite
  5. Loss of energy
  6. Socially withdrawn
  7. Insomnia
  8. Lack of personal hygiene

If you notice that they exhibit more than one of these signs, it is suggested you seek professional help.

Some of the risk factors for suicide and depression include**:

  1. Alcohol or substance abuse
  2. Current use of a medication associated with a high risk of depression
  3. Hearing or vision impairment severe enough to affect function
  4. History of attempted suicide
  5. History of psychiatric hospitalization
  6. Medical diagnosis or diagnoses associated with a high risk of depression
  7. New admission or change in environment
  8. New stressful losses, including loss of autonomy, loss of privacy, loss of functional status, loss of body part, or loss of family member or friend
  9. Personal or family history of depression or mood disorder

If you are concerned about a loved one, it is important that you talk to them and get them to their primary care doctor for PH2Q evaluation.

The good news is that depression can be treated in a variety of ways. Including Psychotherapy, Pharmacotherapy, and in some cases ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy).

For those who have minor depression- helping them find purpose and meaning in their life can often be beneficial. Brookdale Communities offer an Optimum Life program that focuses on all aspects of one’s life, including physical, emotional, social and intellectual stimulation.

Eating a healthy diet can also help increase mood. Encourage your loved one to eat foods that are rich in Omega 3 fats and get plenty of vitamin D. Often seniors who live alone rely on frozen foods to get by, hiring a Capability Caregiver to prepare healthy, nutritious meals can make a huge difference. Even just having a companion to eat meals with can help alleviate loneliness.

If you are worried about your loved one, have faith, patience and seek help.  With the proper care- depression can be treated and you can turn ho hum into ho, ho, ho!

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Walking in the Park

*http://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures

** http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=32668

Patient Advocacy

One of the biggest challenges of adult children is the constant worry about their parents well-being.  Wondering if a parent is eating right, taking medications properly or practicing proper hygiene care is very concerning. Other worries include questioning their parent’s safety both at home and behind the wheel.  All of this is even more stressful if the parent is suffering from some sort of cognitive impairment.

If the adult child lives far away, has a family of their own, a full time job and other commitments, it isn’t always realistic for them to be available to help their parent with these day to day tasks.

To make matters worse, when dealing with a memory loss or dementia, a senior usually has multiple doctor’s appointments that are necessary. For the adult child, it isn’t easy to accompany their parent to the numerous appointments. Yet it is essential that someone is there to ask questions, take notes, plan the follow up appointment(s), get prescriptions filled and perhaps even drive to the appointment.

What to do?

Capability Homecare can provide a compassionate and understanding caregiver who can be your senior parent’s advocate. They can drive your parent to their appointment, relay any concerns the family has, help take notes on follow up instructions, ask questions of the doctor, schedule the follow up appointments and report back to you. It will alleviate any miscommunication and help make sure the senior is receiving the care they deserve.

Let a Capability Homecare caregiver be your patient’s advocate- and give you the peace of mind you deserve.

Call us today to find out how we can help you 425 679-5770.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

imagesA few weeks ago I read in the Seattle Times about the new Aegis Living at Marymoor and their Memory Care Courtyard and it brought back so many of my own memories that I was inspired to write. They describe the courtyard as follows: “Take a trip back in time as you step into our vintage campground in the courtyard. We have recreated the memory of your favorite family camping trip- complete with an Airstream trailer, camp chairs and all of the makings for s’mores. “

I immediately thought of my grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s disease, and how that would have been absolutely perfect for her. One of her favorite things to do was to go camping. She and my grandfather owned a lot at Clearwood and every summer we would spend a week surrounded by the gorgeous pine trees, lovely lakes and endless trails. We would sleep in the RV- but most of our time was spent outdoors- hiking, swimming, exploring and making s’more by the fire. These were really happy times- and as I reflect back on them I realize how blessed we were to have had those experiences.

I also realize that as my grandmother’s memory slipped away- reminiscing about those days of camping would have probably brought her lots of joy. It would have sparked memories of happy times we had as a family, like the time we found the rock that looked like a baked potato and we put it on my grandpa’s plate that night at dinner! He, with a twinkle in his eye, went along with the joke and pretended to try to eat it. As children we were delighted with this silly prank- yet it had slipped to the back of our minds and was forgotten.

The visual cues of the camping scene at Aegis Living at Marymoor would undoubtedly bring out these memories- and many more. Knowing that my grandmother could have enjoyed the comfort and safety of the gated back yard while reminiscing about a very special time in her life makes me smile. Knowing there are communities like this makes me glad that there are so many more options for people with Alzheimer’s than there were 10 years ago.

If you need exceptional care for a senior in the privacy of your own home- then Capability Homecare is here for you, but if an Assisted Living Community is a better fit, than know that there are lots of wonderful options for you.

10 Holiday Gift Ideas for Seniors

Tis the season to be jolly… and stressed and exhausted! If buying gifts for your parent or grandparent is wearing you out- consider one of these easy gift ideas.

1. A donation to a cause (in their name) that is meaningful to them (we donate to the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of my grandmother and the Museum of Flight for my grandfather), Meals on Wheels in honor of our clients and Northwest Harvest in honor of our caregivers.

2. Subscription to a magazine that they enjoy (we bought People for my mother in law)

3. If they are physically able, consider a special outing. Tickets to the symphony, a museum, or lunch at favorite restaurant. Something that allows you to spend time together.

4.  If they have an X Box or Wii, what about getting a game such as bowling or something that increases fitness.

5. If they are a fall risk, an Electronic monitoring device (Safety Line) is always good for peace of mind.

6. If they have a love of reading, but can no longer see the fine print,  a book on tape makes a nice gift. If your budget is even bigger- a Kindle makes a nice gift. Help them load books for free from the King County Library.

7. To stimulate their brains, a sudoku or crossword puzzle book is a great gift ( large print). A subscription to an online brain game site like Luminosity would be wonderful!

8. Gift card to a restaurant or even a grocery store- some seniors are barely getting by each month and taking care of this primary need can be a lifesaver.

9. Use pictures from their childhood create a scrapbook together. Allow the senior to tell you stories about each picture while you record what they say. This will be a gift for future generations.

10. Buy homecare/ companion services. Even just a few hours a week will allow you some respite from caregiving, and also gives your loved one a new friend!

Most seniors have everything they need, and at this point in their life they just want to enjoy spending time as a family. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the season make you crazy! Something very simple can bring joy and happiness to your loved one. Isn’t that what it’s all about?