Monday, October 22, 2012

Validating Feelings of Seniors with Memory Loss

Today, there is no magic solution -- or pill -- that will make someone with dementia better again. However, we can understand that repetitive statements or unexplainable actions for these individuals are often their way of expressing an unmet basic human need and a substitute for saying, "I want to start a conversation about my life." -- Rita Altman

This article was printed in the Huffington Post and was written by Anita Altman, RN and VP, Memory Care for Sunrise Senior Living.

Mr. Richards*, a slight man with thick, brown-rimmed glasses and a gait that revealed him to be every bit his age of 80, made himself quickly known to residents and staff alike in the assisted living community.
"Have you seen my mother?" he'd ask repeatedly, for hours, as he wandered up and down the hallways. It began shortly after his family moved him into our assisted living community's memory care neighborhood. When he wasn't asking for his mother, he was reciting fragments, and sometimes whole verses, of Poe, Frost and Emerson.
It's these behaviors that make memory loss and dementia the proverbial boogie man under the beds of everyone approaching their twilight years. There is nothing more frightening to us than losing our grip on reality, it seems.
With tears in his tired eyes and a tone of urgency in his voice, Mr. Richards stopped me in the hallway. "Please, have you seen my mother? I need to find her!"
To the inexperienced, these moments can freeze you. Should you tell him the truth? Do you need to snap him out of it by saying, "Your mom passed away 20 years ago!" or maybe appease him with a little white lie -- "I just saw her, she wants you to go back to your room and lie down." The stress and anxiety of how to respond can be paralyzing for both professionals and family caregivers.
I answered Mr. Richards in a concerned tone. "You're looking for your mother. Would you like to tell me about her?"
"She is beautiful," he said with a hint of wonderment in his voice. "She is nice and she is always there for me."
I replied, "She takes care of you" -- careful to repeat his mother's most important trait. "What kinds of things does she do for you?"
"She cooks for me," he says with determination.
Digging deeper with open-ended questions, I ask, "Is she a good cook? What does she cook for you?"
He begins to cry. "Yes, but all she ever makes is oatmeal. My father is awful, and he drinks up all the money, and my mother has to make do with what we have."
I keep listening as I attempt to match his expression and tone of voice.
"She makes a lot of oatmeal. Sometimes it's sweet and buttery and sometimes it's salty, but it's always good. She is a good mother," he says as the determination returns in his voice.
I want to validate his feelings. "Your mother always took good care of you and loved you very much," I said.
"You must think I'm crazy," he says. "An 80-year-old man looking for his mother. I know she is gone. She is no longer here," he confides. "Thank you for talking to me."
Mr. Richards just wanted to express his loneliness and his anger towards his father. Dementia robs him of his ability to convey his emotions in more traditional ways. As those with memory loss age, they unconsciously begin to reflect on their lives and seek to resolve unsettled emotions.
Instead of lying or denying the reality that memory loss sufferers live in, we can help them feel valued and heard by validating their emotions. We have the opportunity to accompany them on their journey to resolve conflict in their lives through listening with empathy. We can help them communicate.
In 1982, Naomi Feil published a seminal book, "Validation: The Feil Method." In this book, she articulated the framework for the Validation Method, a now widely-accepted but under-publicized approach to caring for those with dementia. My approach is rooted in the teaching of Ms. Feil, who was raised in a home for the aged. No doubt her childhood led her to explore new methods and challenge conventional wisdom about how to care for those with dementia.
Many of the validation principles and communication techniques that were developed by Naomi Feil are taught to professional caregivers, and some eventually make their way to family caregivers as well. There is no data on how many of the estimated 5.4 million people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia receive care rooted in the Validation Method. But it's difficult to imagine that a large proportion of the 11 million family caregivers have had the benefit of formal training.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly half of all family and other unpaid caregivers rate the emotional stress of caring for loved ones with some form of dementia as "high" or "very high." While providing such care will always be a monumental task, much of the frustration and anxiety of trying to care for those with dementia can be eliminated once caregivers understand how to reestablish the lines of communication.
Shortly after Mr. Richards and I spoke, I found him in his room. I watched as he began having a long conversation with his father, who he imagined was there with him. Continuing on his journey toward resolution, he said all the things he was afraid to say to his father when he was a young boy.
As Mr. Richards progressed peacefully in the days and weeks ahead, he cried less. He looked for his mother less frequently. He had a trusted listener -- in me and in other caregivers trained in validation -- who spent time with him, talked about his childhood and accompanied him on his journey.
Today, there is no magic solution -- or pill -- that will make someone with dementia better again. However, we can understand that repetitive statements or unexplainable actions for these individuals are often their way of expressing an unmet basic human need and a substitute for saying, "I want to start a conversation about my life." Validating that desire by truly engaging with them will not only help them to feel valued and heard but also give caregivers the connection they may feel has been lost.
*The name of the resident has been changed to protect privacy.
Follow Rita Altman, R.N. on Twitter:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hospice 101: What Services Are Provided By Hospice?

Let's review what we have learned in the last two posts:

1- Hospice is Nursing Care provided for the terminally ill as certified by a physician. It is intended to keep the patient comfortable while controlling pain as well as providing social services and spiritual support.

2- A person qualifies for Hospice when a doctor has certified that, given the natural progress of the admitting diagnosis, the patient has a life expectancy of approximately 6 months.  Admitting diagnoses can include terminal diseases as well as declines in health in the aged.

   Our team of professionals are trained in end-of-life care and work together with the client, their family and their physician to meet the medical, physical and emotional needs of the terminally ill patient and their loved ones. 

   Hospice Care is not 24 hour care but it does provide nursing, aides, social services, volunteers and spiritual support for patients through the end-of-life process as well as for their families for a year after the loss of their loved one. 

   Hospice care can take place in your home, a nursing facility or even a hospital.

   I have personally witnessed the positive change that can  take place in a situation where Hospice care is needed.  Caregivers are educated and supported in providing the cares and comfort for their loved ones.  

Our Nurses  provide skilled services for pain management and comfort.  They let the family be as involved as possible in making the decisions about the care for their loved one.  

Aides can provide assistance with bathing, grooming and even some light housekeeping. 

A Social Worker will visit with the patient and the family to alleviate any concerns or questions and can guide you to valuable resources and programs that could also be of assistance.  

A Chaplain is a non-denominational, spiritual component of our team.  He is able to provide the spiritual support that is so often needed at this time of life.  

Our team also offers Volunteers for various patient needs.  

All of these services are available but are not required to be used by the patient and family.

Not sure if you or your loved one would qualify for Hospice Care?  Call our caring staff and let us help you through the process and answer any of your questions, 801-225-3377.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hospice 101: What Qualifies Someone For Hospice?

In an effort to continue to educate everyone about Hospice care I would like to talk about things that would qualify someone for Hospice. Keep in mind that Hospice is regulated by the government and ALL Hospice agencies offer the EXACT sames services. There is not an agency that can legally offer

As a reminder from the last post, Hospice care is skilled nursing, social services and spiritual support for a terminally ill patient who is not seeking curative treatment for their admitting diagnosis.  This care also helps support the patients family during, and after, the loss of their loved one.

A doctor must certify that, given the natural process of the illness, the patient's life expectancy is approximately 6 months. Many times there is not a terminal illness diagnosis but an elderly patient will still qualify under the Medicare guidelines for services.  Caregivers may be so close to the situation that they do not see the subtle changes on a day to day basis but their loved one could be receiving services and the caregivers load could be lightened.

Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Bathing
  • Cooking
  • Eating
  • Dressing
  • Getting out of bed
  • Walking
Noticed shortness of breath, even while resting?

If you answered "yes" to four or more of the questions above, your loved one could likely qualify for services. Remember that we will still need a Doctor's order for Hospice care but giving our company a call would get the ball rolling.  We can, with your permission, contact your primary care physician and work hand in hand with him to get needed services started and help "make the most of every minute that is left."

Give our office staff a call at 801-225-3377 and let them help you  get services started.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hospice 101: What Is Hospice?

Hospice is one of those topics that seems to have a negative connotation for many and I believe it is due, in great part, to lack of information about Hospice.  I hope to help clear this up with the next few blog posts.

A few years back I was talking to a family about Hospice services for their loved one.  The family was very distraught about the situation and very apprehensive about starting Hospice services.  As the conversation went on I learned that their understanding of Hospice was that we actually ended the life of the individual.  I can clearly see why they were hesitant and I can assure you that  Hospice, in NO uncertain terms, assists ANYONE in ending their life.

 Hospice in the United States has grown from a volunteer-led movement to improve care for people dying alone, isolated, or in hospitals, to a significant part of the health care system. In 2008, 1.45 million individuals and their families received hospice care. Hospice is the only Medicare benefit that includes pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, twenty-four hour/seven day a week access to care and support for loved ones following a death. Hospice care is also covered by Medicaid and most private insurance plans. Most hospice care is delivered at home. Hospice care is also available to people in home-like hospice residences, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, veterans' facilities, hospitals, and prisons.

Hospice Care is a service intended to care for those who have a terminal illness and are no longer seeking curative treatments.  A doctor must first certify that, with the natural process of the illness, the patient is probably looking at a 6 month or less life expectancy. Some patients will surpass this time frame, some will pass away before the 6 months.  The 6 month life expectancy is just an estimation by the Doctor.  I have seen many patients live well beyond a year after qualifying for hospice care.

I find that many families call for Hospice services when their loved one is suffering great pain and is in the last days of their life. I encourage everyone to consider the difference Hospice can make even before this situation. To keep someone out of pain, not drugged and "out of it", but truly comfortable, is one of the biggest blessings of hospice. When pain is decreased, "living" is increased. When a terminal patient has pain relief, the quality of life is much better.  Hospice also serves the family of the patient providing social services and spiritual support during, and after, losing their loved one.  

So, what is Hospice? Nursing care intended to provide comfort, dignity, and  improved quality of life for terminally ill patients as well as social services and spiritual support for the patient and their family.  In short, we make the most of every minute that is left.

I would love to hear your experiences with  or questions on Hospice services.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

10,000 VIEWS!! Thank You! Have You Been to the Blog?


We must be doing something right! 

   Our goals at Freedom Home Health and Hospice are to:

*Serve members of our community with the best Home Health and Hospice care available.
*Educate our community through CARE meetings, Senior Citizen Programs our Newsletter and Blog.
*Inspire our Community to serve, care and educate each other.

Thank you for being a support to us!

Pass it on!  There are so many who do not have the valuable information about caregiving, services and resources available to them. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

What Makes Freedom Home Health And Hospice Different From All The Other Agencies?

Gena Bertelsen, Community Liaison Specialist
Many times during interviews with potential clients I am asked, "What can you do that other agencies can't?" The truth of the matter is this; ALL Home Health and Hospice agencies are regulated by the Federal Government and can only offer what is allowed by the government.  In short, we ALL provide the EXACT same services.  So what makes us different from a company that is owned by someone on the East coast whose bottom line seems to be the most important thing?  A few things set us apart from the rest:

We are locally owned, kind of like the mom and pop gas station or grocery store that used to be on the corner but has been pushed out of business by big box stores and chains.  We have always been locally owned and plan to stay that way.  We believe it gives us a better outlook on the needs of the patient and their family because we live here too!

100% of our past clients would recommend us to others. I love the fact that our team has provided excellent care, educates the patient and family about the process they are going through and, in many instances, gone above and beyond the call of duty such as checking on family members at home when a loved one has a hospital stay, attending Doctor appointments with the patient to understand and communicate with the Doctor about the patients care and taking the time to get to know each patient individually.   

We serve,educate and support the community. Next to excellent patient care, our primary focus lies in serving, educating and supporting our community.  

We educate groups at every opportunity about services and resources that are available to them or their loved one whether it be Home Health, Hospice, Private Duty, Medicaid and Medicare or other topics important to caregiving.

I facilitate 3 different caregiver support groups throughout Utah County sharing information, resources and my own personal experiences to help rejuvenate and energize caregivers who may be suffering from caregiver burnout.  Click the CARE meetings tab at the top of the page for a list of meetings.  These are free and you may come to one or all.

I realize that there are many choices....and who serves you is YOUR choice...but I hope that you will consider Freedom Home Health and Hospice when you are in need of Home Health or Hospice Services. 

After is the American thing to do;)

Give our office a call with any questions you may have concerning Home Health or Hospice services, 801-225-3377.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bel Aire in American Fork Offers Seniors A Place To Call Home

Assisted Living has become a natural transition for seniors and Bel Aire Senior Living in American Fork, Utah has been defining excellence for more than 13 years.

As you enter the newly remodeled facility you will ordinarily be greeted by three beautiful women, all residents, enjoying themselves in the gathering area.  They love to have people stop by and it is evident on their faces.  Rooms are sized perfectly for your loved on to bring their own furniture and set up a "studio" apartment.

Kathleen Zonts is the dietary manager and her meals are amazing!  Everything from traditional thanksgiving dinners to chicken cordon bleu, mashed potatoes and gravy, everything the seniors love.  All meals are prepared in house and with lots of love and attention.

Their caring staff have been there for many years and provide some of the best individualized care I have seen.  Cala, the front desk, will show you around and is extremely knowledgeable about the qualification process. Jennifer is the Care Coordinator, Sherry managers and trains the aides and Marcela plans wonderful, stimulating activities for the residents. The entire staff will make your loved one feel at home, enjoy socially stimulating activities and make new friends.

Check out their virtual tour:

Bel Aire American Fork

Call Cala for more information and to schedule a tour at 801-418-9148.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

CARE Support Group At Bel Aire American Fork Tonight!

Caregivers Allowed to Rejuvenate and Energize

Don't miss out on our monthly CARE meeting at Bel Aire Senior Living, 1088 East 390 South in American Fork, Wednesday, September 26th, at 6 PM sharp. 
For future reference, This meeting is ALWAYS on the FOURTH Wednesday of each month.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Abbington Manor Offers Assisted Living in Lehi

Looking for Assisted Living in the North end of Utah County?  Look no further than Abbington Manor in Lehi. 

Abbington Manor Virtual Tour
Abbington Manor, formerly known as Greenwood Manor, is under new ownership and management.
Steve Gillette  has brought his management style and staff to Abbington Manor and has effectively raised the bar for Senior Care.

You will immediately note a difference as you enter the front door and are greeted by Tina, Receptionist/Marketer, smiling staff and residents and the beautiful, inviting new lobby.  Vannesa is the Care Coordinator and works closely with Megan, the Director of Nursing, to ensure all residents are offered the level of care that is appropriate for them.  Not all Assisted Living Facilities offer an on-duty RN which really sets Abbington Manor apart. Just look at what they offer:

24-Hour Professional Licensed Nursing - Ongoing Communication With Each Resident's Family Members. Choice Of Private And Companion Suites, All With Emergency Response Systems

Continence Care - Utilities, Including Electricity, Heat, Air Conditioning, Water And Cable TV. Daily Assistance With Personal Care Needs And All Activities Of Daily Living

Full-Time Activities Staff Including Social, Cultural And Recreational Programs. Housekeeping, Personal Laundry And Linen Services

Medication Management - Individualized Attention To Health Concerns. Monthly Calendar For Reminders Of Special Occasions, Resident Birthdays, Etc

Our Services Include:. Perfect City Center Location, Across The Street From Senior Center, Fitness Center, City Library And Family History Center - Respite And Short Term Stays

Quality Care For Quality Of Life. Three Delicious And Well-Balanced Meals Served Daily, Snacks Available Upon Request

Fabulous staff, menu choices, activities and facility will convince you that Abbington Manor is home.

Contact Abbington Manor Assisted Living & Memory Care today at 801-768-3900 for more information.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Namaste Care in Hospice Provides Added Comfort

Namaste   Honoring the Spirit  Touching the Heart

For those who have participated in Yoga, Namaste (pronounced Nah MesTay) is the action of placing both hands together, fingers pointing upward, in front of your chest and accompanying it with a slight bow to another person.  This is a salutation or greeting honoring the person  you are with.  In Hospice Care, Namaste is a unique way of caring for the patient that honors them, their life and their wishes.

Freedom Home Health and Hospice offers Namaste Care in our Hospice program to meet the needs and wishes of those who prefer a more holistic approach to end of life care and comfort.

Namaste Care is provided by an interdisciplinary team of compassionate and knowledgeable health care professionals as well as families and friends.  A holistic approach to care assures that the burdens and benefits of each medical intervention or nursing treatment are weighed so that they support quality of life.  Comfort and Pleasure are goals of Namaste Care.  Every effort is made so that the dying process is a pain-free, easy passing surrounded by people who care.

If you, or a loved one, is facing a terminal illness and are not seeking curative treatment, you may qualify for Hospice Care.  Please call our office today at 801-225-3377 and our staff will help answer any questions you may have concerning care.