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Atlanta Caregiver & Home Care Articles

New Caregiver Tool: The Alzheimer's Cafe

Posted by Jill Troman on Mar 6, 2013 2:19:00 PM

I am sure that you never imagined that you would one day become the primary caregiver for a parent with Alzheimer's Disease.  Your days are jam packed with doctor's appointments and personal care tasks.  You've found that taking a parent with Alzheimer's on an outing can be challenging; perhaps you've given up.  You've both become a little lonely and isolated.  This bleak scenario doesn't have to be your reality.  A fun, innovative outlet for alzheimer's patients and their caregivers is popping up all over the country (& world!)...The Alzheimer's Cafe. 

alzheimers support

The Alzheimer's Cafe movement started in the Netherlands in 1997 and has quickly been gaining popularity in Europe, the US and Canada.  Today, more than 200 cafes exist across Europe.  The first US cafe event was held in 2008 at the College of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Elsewhere, the cafes thrive in museums, adult day care centers, worship centers, and hospitals throughout many states, including California, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington.  

What is the Alzheimer's Cafe?  

Essentially, its a support group and social event combined.  In one sense, they serve to bring people together with similar circumstances to share, support and lessen the stigma of the disease.  The cafes have improved upon the traditional support group by incorporating recreation and entertainment. Similar to what you might find at a regular cafe, these gatherings are upbeat and leisurely where participants can relax, enjoy some music  and share experiences over a cup of coffee or tea. 

Some cafes have set themes with guest speakers, presentations or entertainment for each gathering.  Others are more flexible and loosely organized with arts & crafts activities, tea time, singing and poetry depending on the interests of the group. Some groups even welcome guest artists and musicians who invite participants to join in and learn the art form. 

Unfortunately, the cafes have not yet arrived on the Atlanta scene.   However, a great alternative is the "Arts 4 Alzheimers" program.  Geriatric experts believe that art is a great activity to tap into the imagination of Alzheimer's patients.  Even with the loss of memory, the capacity for imagination still exists.  The program gives people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia fun, creative and stimulating ways to communicate and express their feelings, and enables them to feel less lonely and isolated. "Arts 4 Alzheimer's" is ideal for people with early-stage memory loss.   Trained artists/educators facilitate the classes in a variety of mediums (such as painting, pottery, collage, music, and photography). Best of all, classes are free of charge.  Classes are held at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody. Please contact Tania Becker at 404-492-6181 to learn more. 

Another function geared to Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers is the  "Rendevous" at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville.  The group meets the 2nd Monday of each month  and is free with advanced registration.  During the group's meeting time, the museum is closed to the general public, allowing participants to experience the art in a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere.  Specially trained tour guides lead visitors and their primary caregivers through the galleries and facilitate an interactive art activity.  Contact the Booth Western Art Museum for program specifics at 770-387-3849. 

Joining a "Forget Me Nots" group is another great way to get a break from the daily challenges of caregiving.  "Forget Me Nots" is a social support Lunch Group for early stage Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers.  Groups meet the 3rd Wednesday of each month at various restaurants across Atlanta.  Contact the Alzheimer's Association at 1-800-272-3900 for specific locations and dates.

Are you interested in forming an Alzheimer's Cafe in your area? Click the link for start-up guide...Neighborhood Memory Cafe Tool Kit.    

Do you need help caring for a loved one at home?

Call Easy Living Services at 770-442-8664.  We're Atlanta's Alzheimer's and In-Home Care Experts.         

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Caregiver Information, In Home Care, elderly care, caring for a loved one, Atlanta Home Care, Atlanta Caregivers, Alzheimers, Alzheimers therapies

Family Caregiving: Siblings at Odds

Posted by Jill Troman on Dec 27, 2012 11:43:00 AM

senior care, atlanta caregiver, For many of us with elderly parents, this holiday season was eye opening.  Perhaps, during your visit you noticed signs that your parent(s) need assistance or can no longer live independently at home.   It's now obvious that you and your siblings need to take action and begin planning for your parents short and long term care needs. Unfortunately, working together may be unfamiliar territory.

Let's face it...most siblings have had their fair share of disagreements over the years.  Maybe the relationships are strained or even fractured.  When important, difficult decisions need to be made about Mom and Dad's care, siblings may find themselves at odds.  Unfortunately, old resentments and hurts may come to the surface and interfer with decision making.  You might be surprised when needs arise in yourself or siblings for love, approval or recognition.  These feelings could fuel competition and arguments over caregiving: who does or doesn't do it; how much care is needed; financing, who's in charge...etc.

How will you put aside your differences and work together?

 1.  Have compassion for yourself and your siblings.  This is a difficult and stressful time for all involved.  When arguments flare up or siblings act out, take a moment to imagine the underlying feelings of need, fear, or exhaustion that could be triggering the negative behavior. If discussions get heated, table the conversation and take a needed break. Your family members will appreciate the understanding and may return the favor.

2.  Call a family meeting before a crisis arises.  The worst time to make critical, long term decisions for a loved one is during stressful or pressure filled circumstances, like a sudden critical illness.  Tensions will be at peak level and the decisions may be emotion based rather than thoughtful.  Teamwork can collapse in these situations and some family members may not be available to contribute to the decision making process.  Make sure that all siblings are able to provide input by meeting often for planning and updates.  Keep in mind that parents often provide different and sometimes conflicting information to their children.  This is another good reason to keep communication lines open to pool and sort out information about parents' health status.   Consider using on-line teleconferencing tools to link in out of town family members.

3.  Develop a care plan and define each sibling's role. Often, families do not really think through who should be the primary caregiver.  Most often, the sibling who lives closest to the parent or has fewer work or family obligations becomes the primary caregiver by default. However, is this necessarily the best choice?  Does he or she have the emotional and physical stamina to shoulder this burden?  With additional support, would another sibling be a better fit for this key role?  An honest discussion about each siblings strengths, limitations, desires should take place early in the planning process.  Define the parent's needs and ask what each person can contribute in time or money. Keep the plan and each family member's roles fluid to allow for changing circumstances.  Consider retaining the services of a quality In-Home Care provider to fill in caregiving gaps and to provide essential respite time for primary caregivers.   

Atlanta Caregivers

 4.  Consider hiring a mediator.  When discussions turn to financing care for a parent, tension can escalate quickly.  Longtime resentments or disparities in income can result in arguments and communication break down.  Arguments over the financial aspect of care must be resolved early in the process.  The state of finances is obviously a determining factor in so many care decisions. Professional assistance from a trained therapist, social worker, clergyman or elder care attorney may be invaluable in resolving differences and making key decisions.  An experienced third party can separate emotion from fact, take an objective look at the situation, provide alternatives and assist family members in making important decisions.

 5.  Be mindful of your tone and language when communicating with siblings.  It's not always easy to recognize how we sound to others.  You might believe that you are requesting assistance in a polite way but if you are angry at the time, siblings will pick up on it and react negatively.  Don't always assume criticism from siblings mean spirited.  Try to listen to their concerns about your  parents with an open mind  and consider whether the feedback is useful. Be liberal with "thank you"s when someone is helpful...recognition goes a long way in fostering a spirit of cooperation.  Above all, avoid making siblings feel guilty.  It's NEVER productive.  Guilt tactics only make people feel uncomfortable, defensive and alienated.  Most people will attack back when made to feel guilty or withdraw completely.  Instead, ask a sibling to handle only what is realistic for him or her and not the impossible. 

Additional Communication Tips:

  • Ask for help from siblings in a direct, specific way.  Avoid making hints or complaints to get needs addressed. Don't expect family members to read your mind or anticipate your needs.
  • Do not generalize discussions with statements like "You always do this."
  • Avoid criticizing sibling's feelings and applying unfair labels.
  • Diffuse arguments by focusing on getting through the immediate task at hand.  Leave discussions concerning grievances,  hurt feelings and criticisms for another time.  

Planning, communication and consideration among siblings can make the difference between strengthening family ties or straining them when caring for aging parents. Simply remembering that your siblings are coming from a place of love for a parent can give you some perspective when relationships get "dicey".    

 

Topics: Caregiver Information, elderly care, senior care, caregivers, taking care of a parent, caring for a loved one, Atlanta Home Care

Medication Safety - Tips to Prevent Errors

Posted by Debby Franklin on Sep 7, 2012 12:43:00 PM

medication safety, senior care, elderly care, In Home Care

Medication safety is critical, especially for seniors!    Nearly two million Americans are hurt each year by the medication mistakes of others, this total doesn't include the mistakes that many of us make on our own.  Proper medication safety practices have the potential to prevent more than 700,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms each year which is a result of drug reactions from undesirable drug effects.

Seniors typically take more medications and are twice as likely as others to visit an emergency room for adverse drug issues and they are seven times more likely to be hospitalized after one of these visits.

Follow these tips on the basics of medication safety and management from Sarah Westberg, Pharm.D. shared in Senior Journal.com.  The first step is to understand what's being taken, the medication's purpose and what is the appropriate dosage.

  • Keep an up-dated medication list.  Keeping this list with you at all times help you and others identify potential medication issues.  Make sure that all of your doctors know about every medicine you are taking.  Be sure to include prescription, over-the-counter as well as dietary supplements.
  • Schedule a one-on-one with your pharmacist or primary physician.  For anyone taking four or more medications or for those seeing multiple physicians, this is recommended.  These meetings can help prevent unwanted side effects and ensure medications are working properly alone and in combination with other pills.
  • Stay organized.  A weekly pill organizer can help you keep track of whether you've taken your medication.  A journal or log book can also serve as a great tool especially if  loved ones or caregivers are stopping by to follow up for safety reasons.
  • Store at the correct temperature.  Most are to be stored at room temperature, but be sure to observe any refrigeration requirements.  Try to keep all medications out of the warm, humid environment that your bathroom provides.
  • Check the expiration date.  After an expiration date, medication may become less effective. 
  • Aways read labels.  Taking two different medications that both have the same ingredient could have an adverse reaction.  You could be taking a prescription medication and then need an over-the-counter remedy.  Both medications have one of the same ingredients, now you are exceeding the maximum safety dose without even knowing it.

Your pharmacist is there to help, they have great medication expertise, so don't be afraid to ask them questions concerning your medications. Be sure to find out the following when taking a new medication:

  • How am I supposed to take it and for how long?
  • What side effects are likely?  What do I do if they occur?
  • Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements I am taking?
  • What food, drink, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?

The best way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your health care tam.  That means taking part in every decision about your health care.  People who are more involved with their care tend to get better results.

Atlanta Caregivers

 

Topics: elderly care, senior care, Medication Safety, Medication Management

Senior Care on a Budget; Consider "Live-In" Service

Posted by Jill Troman on Sep 6, 2012 10:12:00 AM

 

There's no question that evaluating care options for a loved one can be quite overwhelming, not to mention costly.  You might be surprised to learn that "Live-In" home care options can be among the best values in senior care. 

The term "Live-In" refers to a caregiver that lives with the care recipient for a specified period of time (usually several days), providing 24 hour coverage. "Live-In" care is typically billed at a flat, daily fee with rates ranging from $175 to $185 per 24 hour period.  "Live-In" rates are considerably less expensive on a per hour basis than standard hourly care.  One qualifier on "Live-In" care arrangements is that the client must sleep on average 7-8 hours per night without needing care.  If regular sleep is not possible for the caregiver, an additional Aide will be needed to provide nighttime coverage, on an hourly basis. 

Before you dismiss "Live-In" care as too costly, consider how comprehensive the care is for the money.  Besides "hands on", personal care services such as bathing, dressing, mobility assistance and companionship, caregivers serve as Household Managers.  Consider the tasks listed below that are rolled into the job of "Live-in" caregiver:  

 

Live In Care, In Home Care, caregivers, Atlanta caregivers

Household cleaning & laundry services--- a $540 per month ($135 per week) value

Personal Meal Planning/Shopping/Preparation Services--- a $450 per month value (30 homecooked, nutritious meals) 

Pet Care (feeding/walking)---a $270 per month ($9 per day) value

Errand & Transportation Service---a $320 per month value (2 local outings per week)

 

These extra services, of course, are in addition to the priceless benefit of one-on-one personal care and companionship in one's own home.  "Live-In" care is especially economical for couples or those requiring significant levels of personal care.

A word of caution---some might be tempted to search for a "Live-In" caregiver on their own. "A friend of a friend" may sound like an attractive option.  This person may be someone that you believe you would be comfortable around.  After all, conern about having a stranger in the home is a major hurdle for most.   You should question the motivation of people who claim they will move in on a permanent basis to care for all of the needs of an elderly person.  Professional Caregivers are real people with families, homes and their own interests. A professional, skilled caregiver will NOT be willing to move in permanently and give up their own lives without a break. He or she should possess the credentials/experience necessary to work with the elderly.  Be skeptical of those who are willing to accept room/board and tiny salaries in exchange for a loved one's total care.  Many seniors have fallen prey to dishonest "caregivers" who take advantage of the situation.

Instead, consider retaining the services of a professional In-Home Care agency. Agency personnel will handle the screening and make certain that the caregiver sent to care for your loved one is skilled, professional and has a solid track record.  Agencies also guarantee coverage if your primary caregiver must miss work.  Agency caregivers receive regular breaks so that when they return to care for your loved one; they are refreshed.professional caregivers at Easy Living

Do you think "Live-In" care might be right for your family?  Call Easy Living Services to learn more...

770-442-8664.  We're here to help!

In Home Care For Seniors 

Topics: atlanta, elder care, In Home Care, elderly care, senior care, aging, caregiver, homecare, taking care of a parent, cancer support, Atlanta Home Care, Alzheimers, Companion Care

Caregiver Tips for Taking Care of an Elderly Loved One

Posted by Debby Franklin on Aug 3, 2012 2:05:00 PM


taking care of a loved one, senior care, caregiverTaking care of an elderly loved one who has needs with their day-to-day necessities can be challenging especially when certain medical conditions play a role in their limitations.  Here are some practical tips used by our caregivers that you may find helpful in caring for your loved one:

  • Help by providing oral care prior to a meal.  Your loved one may have a better appetite if they begin with a clean mouth.  The flavor of food is intensified with a clean palate.
  • If your loved one is having difficulty keeping their plate from sliding off the table while they are cutting and eating their food, use a rubber shelf liner under the plate to keep the plate stable.
  • If your loved one has difficulty holding their utensils while eating, wrap a washcloth around the handle several times and secure it with a rubber band.  This will make the utensil larger and easier to hold.
  • If the diet requires liquids that are thickened and your loved one does not like the taste of the thickener, try adding sugar or an artificial sweetener to improve the taste. 
  • If sliding out of the chair is a problem for your loved one, try placing rubber shelf liner in their chair to help keep them intact and enable them to sit more upright.
  • For cleaning up a stubborn BM that is dried, try using shaving cream with aloe.  Use sparingly but it works wonders for cleaning and keeping the skin free from irritation.
  • Use good body mechanics when it comes to lifting.  Lift with your leg muscles, not your back.  Always work in conjunction with your loved one during a lift.  Use counting to let them know "on the count of three" the lift will begin so that they can assist as much as possible.

Don't forget to take care of yourself.  You can't be of assistance to anyone if you are tired and run down.  Give yourself breaks by asking for help from a family member or friend.  Keep in mind that Respite Care is provided by Home Care companies to give family caregivers a break in caring for a loved one that is needed and deserved.  Care can be scheduled weekly, monthly or as needed.  Call Easy Living today to find out how you can benefit from Respite Care service       770-442-8664.

 

Atlanta Caregivers

 

 

 

 

Topics: Caregiver Information, elderly care, senior care, taking care of a parent