Archive for May, 2016

The Cycles of Life Part 2

Posted on: May 26th, 2016 by Jamie

The Cycles of Life 2

Try to embrace this new cycle; now instead of you being the focus of your  parent’s lives, they need some attention from you. Take an interest in their social life, discuss their hobbies, find out who their close friends are (ask for their phone numbers at some point), and try to make time to see them on a regular basis if you live nearby. If you live far away, schedule a weekly phone call or video chat. Play games with them, either in person or online. I know that you are very busy but taking time before an issue or crises comes up is hugely beneficial for everyone. Communicate with siblings or other family members involved.
Okay, now that your initial inquiry from part I has been done, you may have gotten a sense how aware, interested, and involved your loved one is in their health and healthcare. Hopefully you were able to get HIPAA releases signed and returned and you are set up at each health care provider’s office. You have read up on any health conditions, especially the chronic ones, and have your list for reference.
If your loved ones were able to answer your medical questions and they seem engaged, that’s wonderful. Keep up the conversations and ask to be updated on doctor appointments and any changes in their health and medications.
On the other hand, if it seems like they aren’t that engaged with their health, or even with life in general, this may be an indication that they are starting to need extra help. You may have less time than you originally thought but you are still being proactive and that’s all that matters.
Here are common warning signs that your aging loved one needs help at home:

• Piles of papers, mail, and unpaid bills
• Late payment notices, bounced checks
• Missed appointments
• A lack of fresh food and /or spoiled food that doesn’t get thrown away
• Messy house, cluttered, laundry piling up, strong odor
• Missed medications or confusion with medications
• Changes in mood or extreme mood swings
• Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
• Noticeable decline in grooming habits and personal care
• Unexplained bruising
• Poor diet, weight loss
• There are new dents, dings or scratches on the car
• Difficulty with balance, walking and mobility
• Trouble getting up from a seated position

It can be hard to accept these signs, for both you and your loved one. Both of you may be in denial, or scared, or angry, or anxious, or all of these things. These are common reactions to this new cycle. The sooner everyone can work through these emotions the better. Time and energy must go into honest conversations, reflections, and sharing perspectives. Realize and be sensitive to what this may mean to your loved one: a loss of independence and the thought of leaving their home. Imagine you were facing that! Be gentle yet firm, be empathetic yet realistic, be compassionate yet solution oriented. Include your loved ones as much as possible in developing a strategy and reassure them you just want them to be happy, healthy, and safe. Communication is key!
Addressing some of these signs may be fairly easy, especially if you live close. Perhaps you can pick up groceries or prepare additional servings of your meals to drop off to them. Maybe you can help with opening mail and paying bills. The laundry might not be getting done because it is too heavy, so perhaps together you can work out a plan to carry or lift it. Same goes for the vacuum. Maybe you can arrange some appointments on your days off. You may want to purchase a seven-day pillbox at the drug store, it makes managing medicine much easier, especially if they have both morning and evening meds. If they are savvy with their cell phone, you can set a medicine reminder on it. Take a close look at their living space, visualize it as if you had mobility issues-can furniture be rearranged to make movement easier and safer? Are there tripping hazards that can be removed? Look at the lighting, maybe you can add some nightlights or additional lighting. Check that all lights have working bulbs.
If there are no family members near your loved ones, it may be harder to tease out some of their difficulties and therefore subsequent solutions. It may be time for a visit from you or another family member.

The Cycles of Life Part 1

Posted on: May 16th, 2016 by Jamie

The Cycles of LifeWe think our parents will always be our parents, in the original sense: they will take care of us, they will always be capable, and we can always rely on them. Unfortunately, as many of us have learned, this is just not true. There comes a time when our roles reverse, and it’s difficult, on many levels.

I am new to Armistead Senior Care but I am not new to Caregiving. Unlike my colleagues, Heather, Samantha, and Annmarie, I am not a Certified Aging Life Care Professional. I am a daughter, a sister and a mother who is experiencing this role reversal. I went from being a member of Generation X to the Sandwich Generation.
The beginning of my Caregiving experience was a long-distance one. I didn’t think of it as Caregiving, I thought of it as “support” but it quickly morphed into crises management: a crash course in multiple chronic diseases, legal terminology, effective communication with family and medical personnel, and navigating social services.
When I share my experiences dealing with my aging parents, almost everyone exclaims, “Thank goodness I am not dealing with that!” To them, I say, “Yet.” In fact, those of you that are in the “thank goodness” stage are in a very good place as you have the luxury of time to plan. This series of posts are for you.
There are a lot of books and websites devoted to the topic of eldercare. Many give tips and strategies on communication with your aging loved ones as well as with siblings. Family Caregiver Alliance and the National Alliance for Caregiving are great resources, use them, you are not alone in needing them. Take it slow and try not to become overwhelmed.
My goal here is to highlight the nuts and bolts of getting ready to help your aging loved ones beginning with the “little things” you need to familiarize yourself with. This is especially important if you are all scattered across the country or even the globe. Use technology, set up meetings and share documents with your family members. Keep the big picture in mind: helping your aging loved ones navigate this phase of their life. It is your turn to be there for them. Communication is key.
So much of being prepared is having information. You can begin to gather information by having meaningful conversations with your loved ones: gently addressing their health and how important it is for you to have information and access to information just in case anything were to ever happen. I have found that starting with their health is a good place because it will tell you how comfortable and engaged your loved one is with this phase of their life. Be patient and respectful. If they are agreeable, and I hope they are, you can move forward at the pace with which everyone is comfortable.

Medicine:

  •  Make a list of all medicine (including over-the-counter ones) they take, when they take it, and why they take it.
  •  Please do not be surprised or get angry if they don’t know why they take it. You can find out more information later from their health care provider and by looking them up online.
  • Find out where they keep their medicine and how they remember to take it.

Health Care Providers:

  • Make a list of who they see, the name of the practice, the open hours and their on-call procedures, phone and fax numbers, emails and if the practice has an electronic portal for communication.
  • Add to your list the medical reason they see each provider. Again, please do not be surprised or angry if your loved ones cannot answer these questions. You may need to sort it all out and that is okay.
  • For each health care provider’s office inquire about their specific HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) policy and release forms. These forms must be signed by the patient and you (and your siblings, if applicable) and returned to the provider’s office. Follow up on the form’s return, so you can speak to staff members about your loved one’s medical conditions and medications. Once you are on the HIPAA release, you can create an account on their electronic portal which is a great way to communicate with the entire office.
  • If the health care providers are affiliated with a hospital in the area, that hospital may have an overarching portal that covers all providers. This is good information to have if or when you are looking for a new provider. For example, the University of Vermont Medical Center has a portal called MyHealth Online and I find it invaluable in helping to manage the care for my parents.

Medical Issues:

  • Once you have learned what medical issues your loved ones have, read up on them. We are fortunate to have the resources at our fingertips. Learn about their conditions from a reputable source and add them to your list.

Communication:

  • Compile all information and share with your aging loved ones, they should keep this important information in their wallets so it is with them in an emergency and they should keep it accessible at home in case emergency personnel come to the house. Many fire departments and drug stores issue emergency medical information kits, sometimes called “Vial of Life.” Inquire at the local fire, police, or emergency services office. Usually, they ask all users to keep this information in the same place, like the refrigerator door.Vial of Life Emergency Medical Information Kit
  • Compile all information and share with appropriate family members.
  • If there is a chronic disease involved, such as diabetes, you may want to discuss a medical identification bracelet. They come in all types of styles, colors and materials and are very helpful with communication in case of emergency. I definitely felt better knowing my loved one had a bracelet on and it was worth it as it was utilized more than once by emergency personnel.

That’s a great start to your planning for now. As you can see, there is a lot to be done in laying the groundwork for assisting your aging loved one. If it is too overwhelming or if you do not have the time, you can hire an Aging Life Care Professional (also known as a geriatric care manager). As I mentioned earlier, Armistead Senior Care has three of these professionals on staff; they are members of the Aging Life Care Association  (formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers). An Aging Life Care Professional is a health and human services specialist who is a guide, advocate, and resource for families caring for an older relative or disabled adult. They have extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability of resources in their communities. There are numerous benefits to using an Aging Life Care Professional, especially if you cannot physically be near your aging loved ones.

Spotlight on Our Caregiver’s-Rock Stars

Posted on: May 6th, 2016 by Jamie

*Guest Blog Post today by Deena and Shannon, Armistead Client Services Coordinators*

What is a Rock Star?  Well…dictionary.com states: a rock-‘n’-roll star or celebrity in any field or profession, or anyone who is highly admired.  Here, at Armistead Senior Care, a Rock Star is also a Caregiver that provides consistent, professional and compassionate care to our clients.

Please help us in recognizing the following Caregivers for rockin’ it!

                 Vermont Rock Stars:                    New Hampshire Rock Stars:

December 2015:  Maria G and Lisa K                   Sherry R and Arlene L
January 2016:   Annie N and Sandy H                 Ann H and Bernadette G
February 2016:  Brittany D and Blandine C         Sarah R and Kimberli H
March 2016:     Jessica C and Lydia J                 Brenda S and Josh S
April 2016:     Robert A and Trudy G                Heather B and Dee D

Thank you Rock Stars, we Appreciate You!

Please Join Us for a showing of the Glen Campbell documentary, I’ll Be Me

Posted on: May 2nd, 2016 by Jamie

Armistead Senior Care and The Arbors at Shelburne are sponsoring a free movie night this Wednesday, May 4th.

“I’ll Be Me is the story of musician Glen Campbell embarking on a farewell tour after he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It reveals how Glen and his family navigate the unpredictable nature of the disease through love, laughter, and music.” The documentary was released in 2014.

The Arbors is at 687 Harbor Road, Shelburne VT 05482; please RSVP (802) 985-8600.

Doors open at 6:00 pm and the movie begins at 6:30; refreshments will be served.

I had the chance to see this film in March; I think it does a great job of showing the full spectrum of how Alzheimer’s affects not only the person diagnosed with the disease but everyone around the person. In this case, the person happens to be a famous singer, songwriter and musician. Glen, his wife, three of his children and his long-time support staff performed 151 concerts between August 2011 and November 2012. For Glen Campbell, this was an amazing feat, considering that Alzheimer’s disease prevented Glen from being able to locate the bathroom in his own home. The family bravely shares so much, anyone who has experienced what Alzheimer’s does to a loved one will easily relate to their story. If anyone hasn’t had the personal experience, this documentary will be a touching eye-opener.

The subtitle of the movie is “Glen Campbell – His Music is Legendary. His Story is Human”. Looking back at his career on stage and screen is great, especially if you are familiar with his work. The humanity of his situation is heartbreaking…and very real. The humanity of his family and his fans is uplifting and illustrates the importance of acceptance. The interviews with other famous musicians, Bruce Springsteen, Kathy Mattea, Brad Paisley, etc., are also very human as they, too, have loved ones with Alzheimer’s. The final moments of the film are scenes from the last time Glen Campbell was in the recording studio. He was recording the song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, an ode to his wife, Kim, and to the reality of Alzheimer’s disease. Thank you Campbell family for sharing your story with us.

Please join us to view this moving documentary.

 
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