Caregiving

Aging at Home

August 13, 2019

Aging at Home

Recent surveys show that nearly 90% of seniors hope to and  plan to live in their current home for as long as they live, now termed “aging in place.” Some have lived in the same house for years or moved into their current home after retirement, to be closer to family, moved to a smaller home that is easier to maintain, or to have access to activities that suit their current lives. In talking to our clients, and our family members, we found that their experience and motivation mirrors what current research says relating to the benefits of staying home, even in cases where some outside assistance is needed for short or long term.  

Benefits of Living at Home

Comfort, independence/control:

When a Senior stays in their residence, they are in a place that is comfortable and familiar to them, with neighbors and friends accessible. They make their own rules, eat what and when they want and watch the TV shows they want. They relish the independence they have, and many dread the thought of someone else setting their schedules. They also feel safer in their own home, both in terms of the physical comfort of getting around a place they know very well, and in having neighbors who can help.  A sense of pride is often mentioned by seniors who retain their independence. Finally, research tells us that those with medical issues recover more quickly and retain their health after recovery when home-based.

Personalized care

If a senior needs assistance, that care is provided one-on-one. That undivided attention for only what is needed versus every resident getting the same treatment is often mentioned as a preference of seniors. Also, the attention is scheduled for when the senior wants the help, not when it is convenient to a caregiver juggling many others.

Affordability

The cost of senior care in nursing homes or assisted living centers can be very high. A recent study showed the average costs of assisted living and nursing homes can range from $50,000 to $100,000 a year. Staying home and having assistance when needed is relatively inexpensive, especially since you only pay for the hours you need. 24-hour care is still possible in the home if needed, but significantly less expensive than paying for a room in a facility.

Human Companionship

Having friends and family accessible is one of the most popular responses as to why seniors prefer staying in their home. Whether they chose to stay in the family home near family and friends, or if they move into a neighborhood heavily populated with seniors, having interaction with others is critical. Personalized caregivers can play a role in the socialization of the senior, but that interaction can be scheduled to fit the senior’s wishes, rather than a center’s schedule.  

Animal Companionship

One issue that many seniors bring up when discussing their living preferences, is their desire to have a loving pet in their home. A dog or cat is the most common pet. For those with dogs, they need to get out and walk the dog which is especially good for the senior, providing not only exercise but the ability to connect with neighbors.  

New Technologies

In today’s technology and delivery based world, there are many new options to help seniors “age in place.” In a recent blog post, we discussed the use of technology to have face-to-face conversations with family and friends. Other technologies that can provide the senior with access to needs:

  • Technology-based ‘emergency alert’ systems, also discussed in a prior blog.
  • Access to voice-activated technologies such as televisions and telephones that run via voice commands.

Fortunately, more and more seniors and their families are finding that home care is possible, especially with the help of companies like ours. Just Like Family Home Care is proud to offer Lee and Collier Counties referrals for sensitive, discreet personal care for our clients to help them better enjoy life at home. Care providers are carefully selected for their compassion, professionalism, and dedication to providing the best care possible.

 

Disclaimer: The blog entry above has been created utilizing different online sources. The blog entry has not been verified by a doctor. Please note that conducting the above-mentioned activities is at the individual’s own risk and responsibility. Please always consult a doctor before exercising or doing any physical activity, especially to avoid injuries or harm due to unknown preconditions. Just Like Family is not responsible for any injuries while conducting the above activities.

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Matching clients and caregivers

May 21, 2019

Just Like Family Home Care is a provider of multiple services for those needing assistance in:

  • Home health care matters, where staff are able to provide nursing and health care tasks, including reminding the client to take their medication.  
  • Home care services,  when a client needs assistance in daily activities and personal care including bathing, dressing, food preparation or eating.
  • Daily activities and personal care, when a client needs a companion/assistant to help with daily living needs like cooking, but especially with staying engaged and active.

With all of these services, Just Like Family is very cognizant of the need to match caregivers with clients in a way that both feel comfortable, and that the client’s needs are met.  As we do this ‘matchmaking,’ especially for longer-term assignments, we consider many issues to make the relationship mutually beneficial.

According to Home Care Pulse, an organization that provides research and quality information to agencies reported recently on the keys to making a good match.  Some of those keys are more obvious:

  • Matching the client’s medical needs to the caregiver’s qualifications.
  • Matching the client’s physical needs to the caregiver’s physical ability.
  • Matching the client’s home environment to the caregiver’s home, to include any habits (smoking) or health concerns (allergies.)

Other issues to address in making the match include:

  • Gender, if either client or caregiver is more comfortable with one or the other.
  • Language, if communication could be difficult due to a language barrier.

The last issue Home Care Pulse encourages review of is personality.  Making a personality match can sometimes be the hardest match-making component, reminding us to consider the personality of both the client and caregiver.  We ask questions that help us understand, for example,

  • Would the extroverted client prefer an extroverted caregiver, or would a more introverted caregiver allow the client to express more about their situation?
  • Would an introverted client prefer another introvert or an extrovert who brings extra energy to the conversations?
  • Would very energetic caregiver make the client feel overwhelmed, or would a subdued caregiver make the client feel responsible for all interactions?
  • Does the client need emotional needs filled, and if so in what way, and what type of caregiver does the best with those needs?
  • Does the client need someone with extra high patience and compassion?

An interesting way to look at personality is the Myers-Briggs personality tool.  Through that tool, we know that there is a “type” entitled “the Caregiver.” This personality type is “conscientious, warm-hearted, and cooperative.”  They also search for solutions, and carry out tasks on time and accurately. Not every caregiver we employ fits this type, but most of them mirror most of the attributes.   As a provider of care, Just Like Home continues to research this component, as well as all personality attributes, so we can make the best matches possible.

Disclaimer: The blog entry above has been created utilizing different online sources. The blog entry has not been verified by a doctor. Please note that conducting the above-mentioned activities is at the individual’s own risk and responsibility. Please always consult a doctor before exercising or doing any physical activity, especially to avoid injuries or harm due to unknown preconditions. Just Like Family is not responsible for any injuries while conducting the above activities.

 

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Plan for Help After Surgery or Hospitalization

Plan for Help After Surgery or Hospitalization

April 12, 2019

Imagine a close relative going through knee surgery. By all accounts, the surgery is to be simple and the patient should be able to be home that day and even walk up the stairs. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the outcome. The patient was hospitalized overnight and was incapacitated for days. While rare to have complications, many experts recommend thinking ahead about the care needed after surgery or hospitalization and for unexpected outcomes. Different types of surgery require different plans.  So, the relative’s knee surgery did result in problems climbing stairs, and a patient’s shoulder surgery can restrict the use of the arm completely.  If the surgery or procedure is planned, patients are encouraged to discuss the recovery with the doctor or medical provider and identify what can be planned for.

Things to Consider

A recent WebMD posting suggests the following examples of issues to think about, that may sound obvious, but can help patients understand the types of plans needed:

  • Consider the location of the bedroom. If upstairs, consider sleeping downstairs during recovery.  Bring any bedding downstairs before the surgery, along with personal hygiene items and medications.
  • Stock the pantry before the procedure, especially if there are special food recommendations from the doctor.
  • Identify and obtain any equipment that is recommended, and ask the insurance company if that is a covered expense. New York Times reporter, Lesley Alderman, wrote about home recovery and pointed out that the patient may need special equipment, such as ‘a walker, a bath seat, or a commode’ to help ensure the patients do not injure themselves during recovery.  Consider if the patient could need any outside help using that equipment.
  • In addition to addressing post-procedure planning, the National Institute of Health (NIH) publication regarding “Taking Care of Yourself After Surgery” provides suggestions for post-op care that is more medically specific. Let’s look at some of those issues, and how outside assistance may be helpful.
  • Managing Pain: NIH recommends clear communication with the doctor regarding how to manage any surgical pain.  In most cases, the patient can handle this. However, if the pain medicine, or other ordered medications, need to be provided via shot or intravenously, family members will likely need outside assistance.
  • Surgical Site and Incision Care: NIH recommends following the doctor’s orders, but also keeping an eye out for separation, bleeding or signs of infection. Despite the perception that wound care is “simple,” there are exceptions, such as a surgical site that isn’t accessible to the patient, or a family member/friend is just not comfortable dealing with wounds, or the patient is not comfortable with non-trained family/friends playing this role. Outside assistance can come in for a short period and perform this service.
  • Activity: NIH encourages patients to “get up and be active as soon as possible” which encourages faster recovery. NIH also reminds us that the doctor will likely give “specific activity instructions” which should be followed, and which will likely limit the lifting of objects heavier objects. Often, we find that those who have had surgery, however, need assistance in fulfilling this recommendation. As an example, those with knee surgery, like our example above, may need help walking just a few steps, or walking with crutches. Or, someone who has shoulder surgery may need help bathing and dressing. Health care staff can be of great assistance, in a professional and supportive way.
  • Consider in-home care if family members aren’t available regularly. Just Like Family Home Care has nurses available to provide superior care in-home or temporary accommodation setting. They can provide daily drop-in care, day or night care, extended hourly and after hours house calls. We offer our clients flexible hours because we understand that it may be difficult to gauge how much care they will need following surgery. Some clients may require more hours and some may need fewer than anticipated. Your nurses work with your surgical team to customize a plan of care that fits your needs. There are no contracts and no minimum hours required: our clients control the schedule.

The above, and our own experience results in a recommendation that planning, when possible, help make recovery from surgery or other hospital stays, much easier. Good communication with the medical staff, learning what to expect upon release and for the few weeks after the event, is critical. Planning ahead for higher level skilled care, such as nursing, and more generic care, such as a home health aide, can make the process much easier. But, even if not planned, patients and family/friends should be comfortable asking for outside help. Those who work in this field love to help and can make recovery a much less frightening experience.

Recovering from Home

One final point, research from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons indicates that recovery from home, is equally positive for those who live alone and those who live with others. The Rothman Institute in Pennsylvania conducted a study that showed that with the “emotional benefit for patients recovering in familiar surroundings, and the lack of difference in pain or complications, discharge home is appropriate for the clear majority of patients.” While the study targeted those having joint surgery, other studies show the same. Obtaining outside assistance, such as health care and nursing staff, at home, was encouraged.

As professionals in the field of health care, and in overall home health care support, we do encourage patients and families/supporters to consider recovery from home and do encourage pre-planning when possible.

Disclaimer: The blog entry above has been created utilizing different online sources. The blog entry has not been verified by a doctor. Please note that conducting the above-mentioned activities is at the individual’s own risk and responsibility. Please always consult a doctor before exercising or doing any physical activity, especially to avoid injuries or harm due to unknown preconditions. Just Like Family is not responsible for any injuries while conducting the above activities.

 

 

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It’s okay to ask for help with caregiving!

It's okay to ask for help with caregiving!

January 31, 2019

As family members, and as friends, many of us are called upon at some time to consider assisting those close to us in connection with an illness/surgery or aging. As we take on those roles, we often feel guilty if we become overwhelmed. According to experts in these fields, it is important to consider the family/friend caregiver’s own needs as well as those who are being helped. Common caregiver issues include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed and trapped, by the situation and/or the time involved,
  • Feeling like other family members are being abandoned,
  • Feeling afraid of dealing with medical issues,
  • Feeling as if self-care and other personal issues are suffering, and
  • Feeling guilty for feeling any or all of the above!

A recent web posting from AARP (American Association of Retired People) pointed out that family/friend caregivers “have a lot of reasons for not arranging respite for themselves. Among them: guilt, money, being too busy in the present to plan for the near future and reluctance to change their loved one’s routine.” The site goes on to say, “every caregiver needs a caregiver — someone who will care for your loved one for a few hours, days or weeks, so you can take care of yourself.”

Many articles discussing home health care and ‘aging at home’ discuss the need for a plan for the caregiving situation, which addresses these issues. The National Institute on Aging, at this site, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/caregiving, provides several discussions regarding planning for the caregiving situation, as well as finding help when overwhelmed. Another page on the NIA site provides more tips for caregivers needing help taking care of themselves, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/taking-care-yourself-tips-caregivers.

One other site, dailycaring.com, has many resources for the caregiver who is feeling overwhelmed. This link, https://dailycaring.com/how-to-be-ok-with-getting-caregiving-help/ provides specific guidance on encouraging caregivers of older adults to seek help. They conclude with:

“Did you know that getting help will actually make you a better caregiver? That might sound crazy, but it’s true.

If you get help, you’ll reduce stress, cut down your to-do list, and be able to regularly take time for yourself. This is guaranteed to improve your health and mood. When you’re feeling better, you’ll be more patient and caring with your older adult.”

While much of the information here, and online, deal with caregivers for older people, much of the information equally applies to those providing caregiving after injury or surgery.  For those caregivers, there are usually specific concerns about dealing with medical issues.  While the need for a plan still applies, the caregiver needs to be up-front about their ability and/or willingness to handle issues from bathing to wound care. Professional assistance is available and can be provided for short periods of time. 

Just Like Family Home Care is proud to serve the community by providing short and long term assistance, including providing respite care to help the caregivers.  As family/friend caregivers need assistance, we stand ready to be part of their team and plan.  Most importantly, Just Like Family encourages family/friend caregivers to remember to take care of themselves.

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