Loving Care in the Comfort of Home
Loving Care in the Comfort of Home
Each week, Easy Living Services interacts with clients that are struggling to make decisions not only for themselves, but also for a loved one. Each family has questions and we took our most common queries and posted them below. We hope you find them useful!What are the three most important qualities to look for in a caregiver?
Easy Living works with only the best Atlanta caregivers. Many of our clients have used our service for 10+ years and the feedback is consistent in superior levels of satisfaction. We are your Home Care staffing expert - we've been assisting Atlanta families for over 20 years!
For more information on professional In-Home service for your loved one, please contact Easy Living services today at (770) 442-8664.
What comes to mind when you hear the term "Palliative Care"? If you are like me, it's synonomous with Hospice Services. In fact, when a nurse practitioner recently recommended it for my father, I became alarmed. I knew Dad's COPD, Congestive Heart Failure, and Diabetes conditions were serious but felt unprepared to hear a recommendation for "Palliative Care". That's because my understanding of the term was flawed. I believed that Pallative care was designed to keep terminal patients "comfortable" at life's end. Dad's conditions were serious and definitely difficult to manage but no one had labeled them as terminal. I came to learn that Palliative care can be a vital addition to an active treatment plan for many serious and chronic diseases.
Are you or a loved one missing out on the benefits of Palliative Care?
With medical advances, Americans in general, are living longer. However, many find themselves also living with chronic disease conditions. The burden these diseases place on patient and family members can be enormous. Where can a family turn for assistance when the chronic medical needs of a loved one are becoming difficult to manage? For many, Palliative Care can offer patients and their families another layer of support.
Unfortunately, many people do not take advantage of this resource due to misunderstanding of Palliative Care and its goals. In fact, research indicates that many physicians often equate Palliative Care with Hospice and therefore, are unlikely to recommend it to patients unless they have a terminal/end stage illness. The reality is that Palliative Care is beneficial for many patients with serious or chronic illnesses along with curative treatment.
Palliative Care: The Definition
"...is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. This type of care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness, whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for the both the patient and family. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work with a patients primary doctors to provide an extra layer of support. This care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment."
In short, Palliative care is NOT end of life care. It's designed to enhance the care a patient is already receiving by improving care coordination, better managing and controlling symptoms, and helping families navigate the complexities of living with chronic disease.
Is Palliative Care Right for Your Loved One?
Consider turning to Palliative Care for extra support if you or a family member are dealing with any of the following issues:
What assistance does Palliative Care include?
Patients and their families gain access to a team of professionals including physician, nurse practitioners and social workers all working together in support of the patient. The team works in concert with the patient's primary medical care team to provide assistance in reducing pain, minimizing side effects and symptoms, connecting patients with complimentary services like acupuncture or massage therapy for stress reduction, disease education and more. While primary care physicians and specialists are typically focused on treating the disease condition, a palliative care team will devote their efforts to enhancing quality of life.
Is Palliative Care covered under insurance plans?
With a physician's referral, pallative care is often paid under Medicare Part B, Medicaid and most private insurance plans. Check with your plan for coverage details and applicable co-insurance fees before initiating care.
What benefits does Palliative Care Offer?
In my Dad's case, the Palliative care team offered a great deal of education and advice for minimizing his primary concern, frequent trips to the ER and hospitalizations for CHF symptoms and complications. The team helped us develop a detailed "Action Plan" to better manage his symptoms. The plan was presented as a flow chart and detailed the actions we were to take with progressive symptoms. It really helped reduce anxiety levels for all parties and restored a feeling of control over the process.
Additionally, Dad had so many specialists who operated independently. It was often frustrating because there was virtually no coordination between the different physicians. Information frequently wasn't shared between offices and family members were constantly having to follow up. It was a real relief when the Palliative Care team stepped in to coordinate medical care between the different specialities. They assisted us in making care choices by educating us on the "pros and cons" of options.
The team also recommended some complimentary therapies which helped alleviate some of my father's symptoms and discomfort. Specially trained massage therapists worked to reduce swelling in extremities through lymphatic drainage. This greatly reduced pain and improved dad's mobility. Dad was also connected with a social worker who helped him deal with some of the anxiety associated with health conditions. Most of these services were provided in the comfort of Dad's own residence which was a "plus" for the family.
After gaining a new understanding of Palliative care, I am now able to recommend these services to our agency's clients. Often, Easy Living caregivers work in conjunction with Palliative Care providers to maximize the quality of life for clients with dealing with serious disease conditions.Interested in learning more? Call Easy Living Services today at 770-442-8664. We're pleased to help in any way possible.
We wanted to share an article that was passed along to us by a former client. It's written by blogger, Blake Butler and offers a great glimpse into the daily challenges that caregivers face when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's Disease. It is truly an act of love when a family member makes the personal sacrifices necessary to care for a Alzheimer's patient, full time.
"My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about three years ago. After an extended stay at the hospital and stints in two different rest homes, my mom brought him home to care for him herself. She did this despite warnings that it would be too much for her to handle—even with regular assistance—because the conditions in the homes were too depressing to bear. l wanted to find out what the day-to-day life of someone tasked with keeping another adult alive is like, so I talked to my mom about it."
How does your average day begin?
Usually I wake up before LD and get dressed, and I try to get the coffee made and the cereal stuff out. But if he wakes up first, I just get him cleaned and dressed and then do the other stuff.
What time does he get up?
He’s gotten so he goes to bed between 8 and 9 PM and sometimes sleeps until noon. One day I was so tired and exhausted that I didn’t hear him and he got up and went into the den at seven in the morning. He ended up somehow falling, and I found him on the floor tangled up in the chair. But usually I wake up before him and get dressed real quick, because if I don’t he watches me do every single thing, and it drives me crazy.
Why does he watch you?
Because he doesn’t have anything else to do. He just stares. And he wants to see what food I’m making.
I know he usually wets the bed at night, even through the disposable underwear. Do you change the sheets after you wake him up?
I take the sheets and the pajamas and the shirt and socks and just wrap them up in that plastic liner that keeps the mattress pad dry. Sometimes if he wakes up before I do he’ll have already taken his underpants off. I get him to the bathroom and have him sit on the toilet so I can get his wet clothes off and wipe him off with Handi Wipes.
You have him sit on the toilet to get dressed and undressed?
Yeah, because he might go. And if he’s not bad, I can use those Handi Wipes and wipe him off and put powder on his back and in his underwear so that it will be dry. But, like, today he was soaked and had taken his own stuff off and didn’t want to get in the shower. He doesn’t like me to bother his pants, and when I mess with them, that’s when he grabs my wrists. I figured out that I can reach behind him and underneath and pull the pants down that way. He’s still grabbing, but once I get them down, he’ll sit on the toilet. It’s tricky. Once he’s got a hold of my wrist I’ll threaten him. I say, “You’re going to have this hand in your face if you don’t let go of my hand.” [laughs] He knows I’m not going to do it, but… I get really angry because I’m helping him. I try to explain to him, “I’m trying to help you, and you are hurting me.” And he’s strong. Sometimes my wrists are red afterward.
He doesn’t realize you’re helping him?
He wants to do things himself. He always has.
Then when you finish with the clothes…
Once I get him in the shower, I pour shampoo on his head. Baby shampoo, so he won’t tear up. I used to give him soap and he’d use it, but now he doesn’t, so I put on these gloves and put the soap on my hands and just reach in the shower. Of course I get soaking wet—my jeans and everything, but I soap him up and down and wash his head. He doesn’t like that at all.
So after he’s dressed and fed, he mostly just walks around the house all day?
All day. Moving stuff. I have to make sure all the doors are locked. Like, today, for instance, when I came in he had the peanut butter out and two steak knives in it. I don’t know why the refrigerator wasn’t locked. I have rubber bands holding down the kitchen faucet because he used to turn the water on and leave it running. He tore the doorknob off the computer room. Basically, he’ll fidget with anything that’s loose until it is destroyed.
But once he’s set up and ready to go in the morning, you can sort of do your own thing, right?
I have to keep checking on him to make sure he’s not tearing stuff up or hurting himself. But I make sure I do something every day, dyeing fabric or sewing or something, because if I didn’t I’d go crazy. That’s the main thing they teach you in the caregiver’s class. It’s like the oxygen mask in the airplane: you don’t put it on your kid first, you put it on yourself first so you can get it on your kid. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to do him any good, either.
Have you noticed any effects on your sanity?
I get on crying jags sometimes. I get to where I can’t think what I’m doing because he’s driving me crazy. That’s when I hit the sewing machine to get it off my mind. Abraham Lincoln said, “I’ve learned that a man is just as happy as he makes his mind up to be.” So that’s what I decided: I’m going to make up my mind to be happy.
You were having big problems with him tearing up the plant in the kitchen, but you were determined to leave it there. Why?
I don’t want him to think he can just tear up everything. I want him to learn not to. For some reason I think he can do more than he can. I believe it’s in there.
You used to spend hours trying to explain to him who you are, or who I am, and then eventually you began to accept that he wasn’t ever going to understand, right?
I know he doesn’t know who I am. He knows I’m a safe person. And sometimes he’ll call me Barbara. But he doesn’t know. It used to bother me, but it doesn’t now. He can’t help it, and it’s not going to change. And when he does… The funniest thing [laughs] was when he told me… I’d said, “Quit pacing, you’re driving me crazy.” And he looked at me and said, “Well that’s probably your problem.” That cracked me up. He said a rational sentence, and he put some thought in before he said it. So I know there’s something in there somewhe
Sometimes I wonder if he’s actually having a moment when he says something witty, or if it’s just an accident?
If he wasn’t thinking it through then, he sure did look like he was. But mostly he ends up talking gibberish. He’s gotten to where now if I say “Are you hungry?” he doesn’t know what I mean. So I’ll say, “Do you want something to eat?” Then he knows what I mean. So there are certain words that he knows.
Being immersed in this every day has got to be pretty physically demanding, right?
A lot of it is routine now. But the main thing is, if he’s in the room, you can’t concentrate on what you’re doing, and if he’s out of the room you think, What’s he doing? You worry about what he’s getting into. He’s broken and torn up so much stuff… and he thinks he’s working. When Tommy [his brother] calls and asks, “What have you been doing?” LD says, “I’m working. I’m so tired, I’m worn out.”
Why were you determined to bring him home instead of leaving him in the rest home?
The rest home did him more harm than good. When I went in to see him there the first time, they had him in a hospital robe, which he had never been in before, and sitting in a wheelchair. He was drooling, drugged out. He wasn’t like that at all when he went in. When we moved to the next place, they forced him in the ward for the most severe patients because they said there wasn’t enough room in primary. He couldn’t even get to his room because they had it blocked off with patients lying on cots.
Is it true that they basically tried to turn him into a zombie on purpose so he couldn’t go back home and no one else would want to admit him?
They claim to go from the early stages to the late stages. “We cover everything.” And they do. For $7,000 a month. He was being institutionalized. When I decided I wanted to move him somewhere else they told me, “You can’t handle him.” They were wrong.
Right. As soon as we got him out of there he was immediately much more himself, or at least not drugged out and pushed up against a wall. Even as demanding as it is on you now, I feel like it has to be less emotionally destructive overall. At least he’s free and not surrounded by death.
I freaked out every time I went to visit him. The only real car wreck I’ve ever had was after leaving the nursing home because I thought it was going to be a nice one. I thought I was going to throw up before I left there. People have told me I’m hurting myself by bringing him home and waiting on him, but I’m doing what I want to do. I sleep better now than I ever did when he was gone. He goes to bed early, and I can stay up late every night. I play my games and sew and listen to music and relax and have a glass of wine, and I sleep like a top. And he sleeps really well. As much as he might drive me crazy, when I think about him in the nursing homes… I can’t tolerate that. He probably wouldn’t know much difference, and yet I feel that he would.
Do you think you’ll be able to continue to handle him as he gets worse?
You don’t die from Alzheimer’s; you die from complications. And, physically, your dad is healthy. He’s probably going to be around a while. And that’s good. But he always said he never wanted to be this way. He always said, “If I end up a certain way, do something for me.” That was back when Dr. Kevorkian was still around. And I would want the same thing, too. But he could never do that to me, and I can’t to him. I’m thinking I’m keeping him here as long as I can. Source: Blake Butler, Blog Post
Caring for a loved one with Alheimer's Disease is undoubtedly challenging on so many levels; physically, mentally and emotionally. Without proper rest and downtime, a caregiver can become "burned out" with negative implications for self and care recipent. Consider arranging for frequent respite periods to recharge.
At Easy Living Services, we specialize in providing secure, reliable care for Alzheimer's patients and their families. Experienced, expertly trained professional caregivers are ready to care for your loved one for a few hours up to long term, full time care.
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:
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.
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!