‘Caregiving’ Posts

Fall Prevention…How? April 28, 2017

April 5th, 2017 by Doris Bersing
Living Well Proudly Presents Dr. John Fullerton, MD and Hampton Health, Ltd
Falls don’t “just happen,” and people don’t fall because they get older. Often, more than one underlying cause or risk factor is involved in a fall. As the number of risk factors rises, so does the risk of falling. Many falls are linked to a person’s physical condition or a medical problem, such as a chronic disease. Let Dr. Fullerton explain how a fall could be a sign of a new medical problem that needs attention, such as an infection or a cardiovascular disorder. It could also suggest that a treatment or interventions for a chronic ailment, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, needs to be changed.

Speakers: John H. Fullerton, MD and Minoo Parsa, BS

Dr. Fullerton is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, Hospice, Palliative Medicine, and Addiction Medicine, as well as board certified Medical Review Officer, Medical Director, Forensic Physician, and Home Care Physician. A primary care physician and clinician educator for 26+ years, Dr. Fullerton is the Co-Founder and CMO for Hampton Health., which specializes in ambulatory and urgent care, including a focus on the transitions of care between acute, rehabilitative & hospitalbased SNF, secured Dementia Units, Assisted and Independent Living Facilities, Home Care, and Hospice & Palliative Care. Minoo Parsa is the Founder of Fall Prevention and Dizziness Therapy a program she established in November 2016 and which has become a trademark of Hampton Health.

Date & Time
Friday, April 28, 2017
3:30 — 5:30pm
Location
The Coventry Place — 5th Floor
1550 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
RSVP
1.800.805.7104 or events@LivingWellAH.com

Refreshments will be served.

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Care Better: a community offering support, expert advice and resources for Alzheimer’s and Dementia caregivers

March 10th, 2017 by Doris Bersing

Living Well President & CEO Doris Bersing is pleased to join the team at Care Better as an expert advisor to people caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Care Better is a community of people who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and Dementia that offers support in three ways:

Guilt Busters For Caregivers

June 24th, 2016 by Doris Bersing

forehead-65059_640Caregiving brings about a swirl of feelings and guilt is one of them. As the saying goes, guilt is a useless emotion, says Ruth Folger (*). While that may be true, as compassionate human beings we experience guilt more frequently than we may like, especially when it comes to taking care of an aging loved one.

Caring for the elderly is a frustrating task. You may find yourself getting angry at the slightest things, like having to prepare an extra meal or finding the time to help them change. Then, you start to feel selfish or guilty. These feelings are normal, but in order for you to be happy and continuing to enjoy your elderly loved one while they are still here, it’s important to learn to let go of the guilt associated with caring for them.

  • Don’t feel guilty for not spending enough time with your loved one. Any time spent with your loved one is quality time – time they will be grateful for it. Most often, when you are acting as the caregiver, it is in addition to the full time job you already have. Think about the time you spend with them like a budget. How many hours a week can you put towards visits and phone calls? Making a mental plan of how you will allocate your time can help ease the guilt.
  • Don’t feel guilty for taking a vacation. This is probably one of the biggest fears caregivers carry with them. In addition to not spending enough time with a loved one, you feel the second you leave or go away somewhere that you’re going to get “the phone call.” Thinking this way will only add more stress to your life and make the time that you do spend with your loved one strained. If you want to go away, have a plan in place in case of an emergency, but do not halt your plans all together.
  • Don’t feel guilty when other emotions take over. Do you sometimes feel like you are losing your patience? Some days are more difficult than others, and occasionally your emotions may take over. This is completely normal. No one is perfect and you are allowed to be angry, sad, or tired. Just take a deep breath and remember that it is okay to feel this way.
  • Don’t feel guilty when you find yourself resenting this role. Being a caregiver is a very trying job. Resentment is another emotion that can develop over time. You begin to resent your loved one for the little things they do. You resent that you are in charge of being the caregiver. You resent other members of your family who could be helping a lot more but aren’t. At the end of the day, you have to remember that you are doing the right thing. While something trivial may send you spiraling down the path of resentment, you know deep down that you would have even more resentment if you weren’t helping out your loved one.
  • Don’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself or the other members of your family. Do you want to read a book? Catch up on your favorite TV show? Go get a massage? Do it. You deserve to take time for yourself so you can rejuvenate and relax. When you take time for yourself, it can help ease your guilt and the other emotions because you are restarting your mind. You may also have a family of your own, and they need to spend time with you as well. Don’t stretch yourself too thin, but make sure you aren’t neglecting your family or friends because you’re taking care of one of your elders.
  • Don’t feel guilty if you have to put your loved one in a nursing home. No one can do it all, and it is okay to ask for help. As much as you would love to be the sole caregiver of your loved one, with full-time jobs, families, and other obligations, it can be close to impossible. You can relieve yourself from a lot of stress when you find the right healthcare center to move your loved one into. There are many stigmas against senior homes, but in today’s society, most of those are just old wives’ tales. Finding a good senior home can be the best decision you make both for you and your loved one, mentally and physically.

With care giving comes a lot of stress. It is essential that you don’t let the guilt associated with that stress consume you.

(*) Ruth Folger Weiss is a writer for the Westgate Hills Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, a nursing home in Baltimore, MD, who shares with us tips for busting the guilt associated with caring for an elderly family member.

 

 

 

How being a caregiver for aging parents can be one of the most challenging realities in life

July 1st, 2015 by Doris Bersing

The Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC)  states that more than 34 million unpaid caregivers provide care to someone age 18 and older who is ill or has a disability; an estimated 21% of households in the United States are impacted by caregiving responsibilities; and unpaid caregivers provide an estimated 90% of the long-term care (IOM, 2008).

It is estimated that one in eight people are now official caring for an aging parent. Edward Francis, a Living Well collaborator, at Forest Health Care estimates that this is a result of the baby boom years combining with improved healthcare and an increase in the average life expectancy. This responsibility may come to these caregivers suddenly or it may become a gradual, progressive path of commitment. It requires a change to your mindset, no longer are you the child, you now need to take care of your parents as they have always done for you.

 

It can be a challenging experience to be a caregiver for a parent dealing with memory loss that eventually materializes in dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Role change

Illness can cause a gentle shift in roles but it is a lot moiré difficult when an accident changes the situation dramatically in moments. This is often the case as elder people are more prone to injury and a broken hip can have a serious impact on their ability to care for themselves. The role reversal can be exceptionally difficult for those who were never that close to their parents but do feel the need to care for them.

It can be very difficult to make the right decision in either your own eyes or your parent’s eyes and you may bear the brunt of a parent’s frustration. For your role as caregiver to work you need to accept that you are now responsible for the decisions and care of your parent.

Balance

It can be tempting to visit your parent every day or even multiple times during the day. In reality this will make the process far more difficult. You will end up physically and emotionally exhausted whilst emphasizing your parent’s dependence on you. It can be very difficult to find the right balance between being there and making the best decisions whilst providing them some space to be as independent as possible. It is essential for your own survival to maintain a balance between caring, time for yourself and your own family commitments.

Planning ahead

From the moment you start caring for your parent you will have to start thinking about the future. If their condition deteriorates will they need additional caregivers, professional homecare, or perhaps assisted living facilities are the way to go; after all one size does not fit all.

The harsh reality of knowing your parents have a finite amount of time left will combine with concerns over the future, this can become a serious burden and it is essential you share the responsibility as much as possible.

Strengths and weaknesses

Like anyone you have areas of expertise and areas which you are not so knowledgeable or good at. You may be more sympathetic than your siblings or more financially orientated and it is important to utilize the skills you have. Knowing your areas of weakness and accepting that someone else can do that part better is a better way of caring for your parent and yourself than attempting to do it all on your own.

Dealing with a parent experiencing memory loss

One of the most challenging and draining aspects of being a caregiver is when your parent starts to lose their memory. It can feel that day by day they are drifting away from you and you are losing one of the people who have always inspired you and have always been there for you. It is essential to focus on the positives; a memory problem is probably more of an issue to you than to them. Encourage them to visualize their past by using photographs and talking to them, cherish the moments you have and the experience will be rewarding instead of challenging.

Network

Both the caregiver and the parent need to have a good network of support. You need to be able to vent your frustrations and gain advice from others to ensure you know you are doing the best possible for your parent. Your parent needs to remain in contact with as many people as possible to avoid loneliness and frustration building up and making the situation worse.

Every situation will be slightly different but it will always be a challenging time and a difficult journey. Your feelings and emotions will be tested to the limit but the ultimate reward will be worth it; knowing that you were there for your parents when needed and did the best you could, after exploring all the alternatives you could have. Look for consultation with the experts in the field, even if it is a long journey, you are not alone.

Empathy Plays an Important Role in Care Giving

June 10th, 2015 by Doris Bersing

Empathy and caregivingBe kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle   ~ Plato

Many of our elders who had reached the golden years, find difficult to see the golden part of aging and at least, initially, they are aware of the transitions and respond with a myriad of emotions from shame and anger to depression, anxiety, and fear. Let’s remember theirs was the generation that survived the Great Depression and fought the last “good war.” Aging was not on their agenda, not for this long, not with so many medical issues, and with so little resources for retirement; to care for them we need knowledge, skills but overall empathy.

What is Empathy?

The simplest definition is the feeling of understanding you get when you stop and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. For caregivers this can mean imagining what it must be like to be in constant pain, or to be facing your own death. It could even be picturing oneself as constantly dependent on others, without any privacy. Once you understand what this would feel like you are able to relate better to the patient and will be much less likely to be frustrated by their actions.

Understanding their pain is only the first part of the job. You will also need to overlook your own feelings regarding how they may have arrived at their situation. It is imperative to accept people as they are and help them in any way you can. Empathizing with them will make your job easier as you understand why they need the care and the best way of approaching it.

Edward Francis with Foresthc.com shared with us some of the important points about how relevant empathy s when caring for our elders. He says, “…There are an increasing number of care givers in the world. This is a combination of people living longer and the steady increase of people in the world. Many caregivers fall into the role and can be excellent at taking care of someone’s needs; however this does not mean that they emphasize with them; a good caregiver can simply treat others, as they would like to be treated.

Understanding the Patient

Some patients can seem incredibly rude and make it very difficult to either help them or emphasize with them. In fact these are the ones that need your empathy more than any other. The rudeness is generally a result of severe frustration with the situation they find themselves in. Part of the role of a good caregiver is to understand how the family and friends are coping and to emphasize with them as well.

They may need a break or be struggling with dealing with the issue and a supportive shoulder can work wonders. Understanding their needs and fears can also provide you with the opportunity to help a family member deal with their own emotions and offer a better care giving experience to their loved one. Embarrassment is a common feeling in patients, like all of us they have been used to looking after themselves and doing what they like when they want to.

To have this all taken away and be completely dependent on others is difficult for anyone to adapt to. This often shows as rudeness or aggression but once you understand the patient you will be able to see it for what it is and react accordingly. Be patient and whatever you do make sure you don’t lose your temper in front of them; you certainly don’t want to make them worse, not to mention that it is unprofessional.

Listening can help caregivers empathize more with the patient

It can be very difficult when you are in constant pain and dependent on others to assist you. This can become much worse if you are not able to share your fears with anyone. A good caregiver will see these fears and will listen. Talking to someone allows a patient to lighten the load and this will help them to cope with the situation. It will also prevent either the patient or their family from getting wound up when there are so many factors, which are beyond their control.

Level of care

Caregivers who take the time to understand their patient’s personalities, needs and situation can offer a far better service. You will be able to relate to the patient and this will trigger a better response from them as they register your intentions. A caregiver who can emphasize with their patient will automatically look for ways to improve both the level of care and the general care experience. The best caregivers have empathy, sympathy and integrity, a difficult mix to balance.

Empathy is vital when caregiving for someone with dementia, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. You must find a way to control your negative emotions and focus on the positive. This will help you get a better response from the patient, not to mention that you’ll be more relaxed and willing to help them out too.

Living at Home and Understanding Dementia Symptoms

April 23rd, 2015 by Doris Bersing

Understanding DementiaHaving a loved one diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer’s,  is a very hard circumstance and can be very challenging. Most of the times you want to keep them living at home, and provide the home care for the dementia or Alzheimer’s care they need. However, people get distanced from the one suffering from Dementia since they can barely recognize you; thus it is important to understand the symptoms of dementia and become a step closer to your elderly parents.

Nobody wants to see their aging parent struggle with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sadly, there are things in life we can’t control, like incurable diseases that could materialize after a certain age. When someone gets dementia, their relationships, priorities, and perceptions on life take an unexpected turn. Nevertheless, certain forms of dementia can be kept under control, reversed and even treated if caught on time. If you have an aging parent, it’s only natural to become concerned with their wellbeing. Are they eating right? Are they becoming more forgetful? Are they in pain? These are questions most concerned children ask themselves on a daily basis.

A 70-year old parent may forget things from time to time, but if you notice that their memory loss becomes intense, then it might be a cause of cognitive decline. Dementia can be identified in many ways. First, you must understand the disease. The more you know the higher chances you have to save your parent and stop the health condition from advancing.

Understanding symptoms of dementia

Dementia is not a sole health condition but a collection of numerous symptoms, and some of the most common are changes in personality, memory loss, and impaired intellectual functions that could result from trauma or disease to the brain. These changes are not normal aging signs, and their side effects are severe enough to impact someone’s daily living, relationships and independence forever. Even though Alzheimer’s is one of the most widespread forms of dementia, there are many others, including mixed and vascular dementia.

If you suspect that your parent may suffer from this dreadful illness, then some of the changes will be noticeable. Remembering, communication, learning and problem solving will become difficult endeavors to accomplish. These are changes that can happen fast, or develop slowly in time. The outcome and progression of dementia differ, but are mainly determined by the form of dementia suffered and side of the brain affected. A specialist in the medical field will provide a complete diagnosis after the patient has undergone a series of tests, clinical exams, and brain scans.

What triggers dementia?

A healthy brain’s mass begins to decline in adulthood. However, this fascinating organ-machine of ours keeps forming vital connections even if we age, thus keeping us sane. When these connections are misplaced because of injury, inflammation, or disease, brain neurons begin to die. The result – dementia; it’s certainly traumatic to see a loved one go through such a horrifying disease. This is why it is important for adults to interfere as soon as the first signs materialize in their aging parent. The faster a doctor understands the cause, the better chances he has to recommend a treatment.

Caring for a parent with dementia

In the United States, there are roughly 10 million people who take care of a parent with dementia. Most of these at-home caregivers are women. It’s tough to do this job and at the same time have a family on your own. But since we’re talking about a parent, you wouldn’t want anyone else to take care of them.

Becoming a caregiver to a sick parent is tough. If you’re an adult and you have kids, you must accept that your aging parent may also have the behavior of a 5-year old. Given that dementia affects the brain, memory loss is not the only disturbing symptom. Many adults don’t want to move their loved one to a nursing home. In general, it’s not because they can’t afford the costs but because they’ve over protective.

Professional care can be good for an elderly suffering from dementia

The option of Home care or aging in pace and caring at home for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s is still an option for some. However, one size does not fit all. Living Well Assisted Living at Home in San Francisco and Marin County recognizes that home care for senior with dementia is an alternative but also, believe it or not, today’s healthcare facilities and nursing homes are no longer what they used to be. Some of these hospices provide exceptional comfort. They also feature all kinds of activities for patients, and they have professional personal taking care of your loved one 24/7. Making the decision and moving your parent to a facility is not something you want to do. But it is necessary.

Only an equipped facility can offer the best care for your loved one. At-home caregiving is great, but it’s still not enough to make the patient feel appreciated. A specialized facility comes with lots of programs, socializing sessions, and other therapies meant to stimulate your parent’s brain and ensure he remains in good physical health for as long as possible.

In collaboration with  Edward Francis and Foresthc.com!

Cancer: you are not alone

April 9th, 2015 by Doris Bersing

The right teamA diagnosis of cancer is terrifying and often it is a long journey for patients, clinicians, and family members to look at the available options for treatment and care. Cancer patients often feel more comfortable and secure being cared for at home. Many patients want to stay at home so they will not be separated from family, friends, and familiar surroundings. Home care can help patients achieve this desire but cancer care often involves a team approach that includes doctors, nurses, social workers, physical therapists, family members, and others but one size does not fit all and looking for the right team is the key.

More than one million people living in the US are diagnosed with cancer each year – one million people, just like you, who will embark upon a journey of treatment, recuperation, and rehabilitation. It can feel, at times, like a lonely journey, and cancer survivors are often struck by the feelings of isolation and helplessness that are so prevalent during their diagnosis and treatment. However, it is important to know that you are not alone; we are here to share your journey.

There have been some huge developments in the world of cancer research in recent years; from new drugs to the discovery of what causes certain types of cancer, the medical profession is forging ahead in the field of research and pharmaceuticals. However, this news often comes as little comfort to those who may recently have been diagnosed with cancer – your first thoughts will probably be towards your own recovery, and the help available to you, rather than scientific progress, and that is absolutely where your mind should be.

Cancer: where can you turn?

Support comes in a variety of forms, from financial and medical assistance, to help with traveling to and from work, or daily tasks, such as shopping, cooking, or household chores. Where should you turn for support? The obvious answer is often friends and family, and it is those closest to you who will often be there to pick up the pieces following a cancer diagnosis; their dedicated rallying is invaluable at this time, so never be afraid to accept, or ask, for help. Living Well supports a team approach when caring for cancer patients at home.

If you are without a local network of friends and family, or have found it difficult to approach anyone for help, there are a host of organizations that are dedicated to helping those in your shoes. Charities such as The American Cancer Society, The American Association for Cancer Research, and The Cancer Research Institute provide invaluable information and services, including advice on your diagnosis and treatment options, financial guidance, manned helplines, and details on support groups and health services that are local to you; wherever you are, their aim is to connect you with somebody who will listen.

Assisted living: there is somewhere else to turn

There may come a time during your treatment or recuperation when assisted living is suggested, or even prescribed, by a health care professional. While the phrase may conjure images you may not wish to associate with your own situation, assisted living can help to quell worries of living alone, help you to cope with daily tasks, support you during times of loneliness and isolation, and assist you in accessing support. Assisted living can be the supportive environment that you need, allowing you to channel all of your energy into recovery. Whether provided on a temporary or permanent basis, assisted living often becomes a vital lifeline to those experiencing physical or mental changes, and can make recovery much easier when a person’s home no longer has suitable amenities to facilitate treatment.

The most important thing to remember following any diagnosis, particularly that of cancer, is that you are not alone; whether you are being comforted and supported by family, assisted by a dedicated charity, or cared for by home care staff or an assisted living complex, never be afraid to lean on those around you.