Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Helping New Clients Adjust to Having a Caregiver for the First Time


The need for a caregiver is a life-changing event for most people. Sometimes this is caused by an unexpected event, like a fall resulting in a fracture, or it may be the expected gradual decline of old age.

The client may or may not have dementia. They may have a family caregiver who needs occasional respite, and this will be the first time they are having a “stranger” assisting them. At-home senior care can range from companion care to medical care by an RN. Whatever the situation, the goal is to have this first time be as comfortable and stress-free as possible for the new client.
Success or failure is greatly influenced by how much preparation and communication exists between all persons involved. Here are some ways that this will be a smooth transition from total independence to accepting some amount of assistance.

1. Clearly determine the role of the caregiver. What type of assistance is needed? Will the caregiver need to assist with personal care? Will meal preparation be needed? A realistic evaluation of the client’s abilities and weaknesses needs to be made. Families are not always able to make this assessment, so the assistance of professionals can be invaluable. Also consult with the client’s doctor for any medical complications that need to be addressed.

2. Determine the client’s previous experience with accepting help. Have they had professional cleaning help in the past? Have they used Meals on Wheels? Has someone been hired to mow the grass or shovel the snow? The use of any outside help gives the client a frame of reference for accepting help from the caregiver.

3. Determine if there is a family caregiver. Some clients have trouble accepting the help from a professional caregiver instead of a family member. It helps if they know this is temporary, and that their family member is returning. The client may or may not recognize the family caregiver’s need to have personal time away from the client to “recharge their batteries.” Perhaps presenting this new professional senior caregiver as a way for the family caregiver to enjoy their time away and not have to worry about the client will be easier for the client to accept.

4. Patience is key. This will probably be an anxiety-provoking experience for the client, especially if they are afflicted with Alzheimer’s. If possible, the first visit of the at-home senior care provider should be made while the family caregiver is at home also. Present the professional caregiver as helping the family caregiver out, so she can complete a task like working on her tax return. It may help the client to accept this stranger into their home if the help is for the other family member.

5. The caregiver should treat the client with respect. Ask the client how they want to be addressed. Do they prefer Mrs. Smith, or do they want you to use their first name? Avoid the use of terms of endearment like Honey or Sweetie unless the person seems to be open to it—but definitely not on the first day.

6. Allow the client to make appropriate decisions. Don’t say ”I’m making cereal for your breakfast.” Rather, ask if they would like cereal or pancakes. Give them the ability to be the “boss” in their own home whenever you can.
 


7. Try different approaches, especially if the client has dementia. If the client is resisting doing necessary tasks, maybe a sense of humor will help, or reasoning with them, or referring to the family caregiver or even their physician. If you say the doctor wants them to take this medicine, etc, they may be more inclined to take it. Change the point of reference to something more appealing. For instance, change showering into spa day, and include polishing nails and extra time to pamper the client.

8. Take suggestions. The family of the client should suggest some activities for the caregiver to share with the client. If mom likes to bake, have a box of brownie mix available for them to make. If Dad likes sports, have the game on for them to enjoy together along with typical snacks. Make a list of activities the client enjoys doing. Then the caregiver can use the list to suggest things for them to do while they are at the home together.


9. Follow the same schedule. Make sure the at home senior care provider knows the client’s usual schedule. Maintaining the routine can prevent stress and anxiety for the senior, especially if they have dementia. On the other hand, if they like to sleep-in mornings or stay up late at night, this would be a good time to indulge either.

10. Share a smile. Last, whenever caring for someone in their home, put a smile on your face. Whether you are a professional senior caregiver or the family caregiver, look like you want to be there with them and that you enjoy their company. The positive upbeat attitude you project will start off your beginning relationship with the client in a positive way.

Hopefully, each time a caregiver comes to the home, it will be easier for the senior person to accept and even enjoy the experience. Professional senior care providers will always try to have the same caregiver come to the home, so a trusting relationship can be developed.
However, if the client doesn’t feel comfortable with a certain caregiver, don’t be afraid to ask to try someone else. If at all possible, try to determine what it is about the caregiver that they don’t like. It can be as simple as some people like a more energetic, active personality and another may prefer a more quiet, calm personality. The agency will always try to match the client with the right caregiver for them.

The more often the senior has a caregiver experience, the sooner the senior caregiver will be more comfortable with the client and the client will become more comfortable with the caregiver. In time, they could become friends, and the client will look forward to the caregiver’s visits.

IMAGES:
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/manicurist-applying-red-varnish-senior-woman-721238251?src=OtP7hlC22PIgKCAIfEZ08g-1-3
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/old-hands-solving-jigsaw-puzzle-nursing-166336454?src=auYzvcT55CehMFxurp023Q-2-91
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/young-asian-nurse-taking-senior-man-544163866?src=_kS8GPYxYPcRNpYrl7dcRA-1-45

Author Bio: Susan Ashby joined the Superior Senior Care team in July of 2014 as Community Relations Manager. With over 27 years of experience in geriatric health, Susan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to Superior Senior Care and plays an integral part in connecting consumers and communities with resources for independent living.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

How to Recognize and Combat Geriatric Depression

How to Recognize and Combat Geriatric Depression 
It is a completely appropriate and normal response to feel sadness from any adjustment in life, such as weight changes, limited mobility, aches and pains and other circumstances that can be associated with aging. Fluctuating emotions are a part of life and being human. It is when that sadness is overwhelming, persistent and impacting quality of life that there is major cause for concern. Contrary to what many people believe, depression is not an inevitable part of aging, and one should never feel powerless if they believe they suffer from depression.
 It is estimated that 15 percent of Americans older than 65 years old suffer from this diagnosable, treatable mental illness, with a large majority of those individuals not receiving adequate-enough treatment or care, if at all. From those who only recently retired or are living in retirement communities to those receiving elderly home care, no one is completely exempt from this illness that affects people of all ages and from all walks of life.  


Why is it Hard to Detect?
As depression is a mental disorder, it can easily and often go undetected by family, friends, health providers and even the individual grappling with the illness. One reason that it often goes under the radar is because experiencing sadness, hardship and loneliness is something everyone undergoes at some point in their lives. This can make it hard for someone to distinguish “normal” human emotion from a more serious issue that needs medical attention. 
Another reason depression is hard to pinpoint may be because of the stigma that still surrounds the illness. This may explain why so many people, senior citizens included, fail to admit they suffer from a mental disorder that can be addressed and treated. Not to mention, seniors may often have less resources, limited mobility and smaller support networks that make it hard to reach out when they need guidance and support on how to deal with and manage their depression.
Depression and Other Health Issues 
Symptoms of depression in seniors can be physical, such as aches and muscle weakness, as well as cognitive, like illogical reasoning and forgetfulness. Not only can these be mistaken simply for signs of aging, but they also often are not symptoms that younger people with depression experience. Since depression in young ages is better understood and more readily recognized, people may not even realize that the symptoms an elder is exhibiting are indications that depression is present. 
Oftentimes, depression co-occurs with other health problems, making it even harder for health providers to diagnose. For instance, seniors with depression are at higher risks for cardiac diseases and death from other illnesses. This only goes to show that it is essential that depression be diagnosed and treated, as it correlates with lower quality of life, shorter average lifespans and risk of suicide. 
Symptoms of Depression
A senior who is suffering from depression may exhibit different symptoms from another person experiencing the very same mental illness. While it’s important to note that depression can manifest in many forms, you can gain a better understanding of it by considering these common symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping or restlessness
  • Persistent, severe pain
  • Poor body- and self-image
  • Delayed thinking and forgetfulness
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Digestive problems and cramps 
  • Consistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness or apathy
  • Feelings of social isolation 
If any or all of these ring true for you or a loved one, consult with a doctor who can get to the underlying cause of these symptoms and give you the peace of mind and answers you seek.  




Common Treatments for Depression
When it comes to treating depression, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What may work wonders for one person may not be as effective for another. That is why it is important to do your research to find the right treatment methods that will work for your circumstance or your loved one’s unique circumstance. Some of the more common treatment options include:Antidepressants–When considering medication, discuss the options thoroughly with a doctor so you can fully understand the potential risks and side effects before any new medication is introduced.
  • Antidepressants–When considering medication, discuss the options thoroughly with a doctor so you can fully understand the potential risks and side effects before any new medication is introduced. 
  • Counseling–Speaking with a therapist is another popular route people take. Therapy gives people the opportunity to voice what’s on their mind, hopefully feeling peace by talking through their problems and stressors in the process. 
  • Psychotherapy–If the potential for side effects from new medication is too great or risky, psychotherapy is a popular alternative. This is a common option often used for those who deal with intense stressors from their pasts.


In Addition to Treatment
Because of the nature of old age, many seniors suffer from loneliness and feel cut off from past enjoyments, resources and people they can rely on. While not to be considered a cure or treatment for depression, having an elderly caregiver can help ease their burdens and make their daily lives a bit easier. Companionship and some assistance navigating day-to-day tasks is something found in elderly care services. If you are concerned about a loved one who lives alone and suffers from depression, do your research to see if this is something that can be beneficial for your family. 
If you fear you or a senior family member suffers from depression, remember there will always be resources and help. The road to feeling better and regaining lust for life may seem intimidating at first but one that doesn’t have to be navigated alone. Those suffering from depression can reach out to family, friends and health providers and find the help they deserve to continue living the happiest, healthiest, most fulfilling life possible.  

Author Bio: Susan Ashby joined the Superior Senior Care team in July of 2014 as Community Relations Manager. With over 27 years of experience in geriatric health, Susan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to Superior Senior Care and plays an integral part in connecting consumers and communities with resources for independent living.


Thanks Susan for a great guest post