Tag: Alzheimer’s disease Philadelphia

Debunking common myths about hospice. Why you should seek hospice benefits sooner.

When is the right time for hospice? Many families wait too long to take advantage of this free benefit that complements home care services.
Below we debunk a few of the common misconceptions:

1) Your relative is actively dying. False. Two physicians must determine that your loved one has less than six months to live, if their illness would run its normal course.

2) There are no additional treatments. The client receives palliative care, that considers all aspects of their physical, emotional, and spiritual health. They may continue taking most medications, just cannot seek “extreme remedies”, such as chemotherapy. Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Clients in the later stages of dementia, “Ruby” or “Pearl”, are usually eligible for hospice benefits.

3) Hospice is only for the client. The family also receives emotional and spiritual support.

4) All hospice clients die. Clients have “graduated” from hospice if their condition improves.

5) You lose benefits after six months. If clients survive for more than six months, they must seek eligibility again. We have also worked with clients who have used hospice services for many years.

6) You will have to get special medical equipment. Hospice is constantly evaluating the needs of your loved one. Almost anything that is needed can be provided by hospice and paid by Medicare. This is one of the best benefits!

7) Hospice must be provided at home. Although many families would prefer hospice services be given at home, hospice goes anywhere.

8) You must relinquish your other home care services. Hospice works best as a compliment to other support services. There is a maximum amount of hospice services per day, usually around two. Clients eligible for hospice usually also benefit from 24/7 care. Hospice aides and home care certified nursing assistants can work together to care for clients, especially with transferring those unable to get out of bed.

We always recommend that clients explore hospice service options, sooner rather than later. Hospice is a great resource to support the client and their family.

Want to learn more about home care services or hospice options?

Call us today at 610-323-9800.

 

hospice care Philadelphia, home care Philadelphia

 

Caring for the Caregiver

Both formal and informal (family) caregivers provide care for older adults.  It is important that carepartners practice self care, in order to continue being effective in their roles regardless of whether they are compensated for caregiving services.

Formal carepartners are better able to establish personal boundaries if they are working set hours at established rates via a reputable company.  Although paid carepartners are connecting and building a relationship with the older adult, there are times that they are able to take care of themselves.

In contrast, family caregivers often find themselves in a caregiving role unexpectedly.  They usually find themselves faced with some of all of these predicaments:

  • The needs of the care recipient are increasing over time.
  • The caregiver had another relationship with the care recipient before the illness.  This often complicates the dynamics of the developing relationship as the care recipient feels embarrassed of their condition and the caregiver becomes stressed.  Communication issues and stress can fuel tension.
  • The caregiver does not necessarily know about the disease progression or have medical training.  They may be in denial of basic facts concerning the care recipient’s condition.
  • The caregiver needs to work at least one other job to support themselves and possibly their families and/or care recipient.
  • The caregiver is giving up opportunities for self development, career advancement, and/or building their own immediate families.  The can cause built up feelings of resentment, inhibiting the quality of care of the older adult.
  • The caregiver needs to navigate internal family dynamics.  Typically children are allocated responsibilities based on geographic proximity or other circumstances.  A child without their own family or job may be the first candidate to move in with mom and dad.  Children usually disagree about the equity of task distribution, leading to feelings that can compromise the level of care provided to the care recipient.
  • The caregiver may be caring for an older adult for the first time.
  • They or members of the care team are in disagreement on the basic facts of the situation, such as the validity of the disease diagnosis.  
  • Informal caregivers are always on call.

Regardless of whether you use formal, informal, or both methods of care, it will take more than one person to care for an older adult, especially someone living with a progressive disease such as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.  

One important step is developing relationships with other informal caregivers, through organizations such as ARTZ Philadelphia and the CARES program of the Lutheran Settlement House.

ARTZ Philadelphia organizes a meeting of caregivers on a periodic basis to discuss ongoing challenges.  They also host separate events that are meant to provide bonding opportunities for the caregiver and care recipient.

The CARES program of the Lutheran Settlement House organizes events exclusively for informal caregivers.  The creator of the CARES program, Sarina Issenberg, also provides individual counseling meetings free of charge, outside of the organized events.

It is also important to employ the help of formal caregiving services.  There are numerous advantages for having a home care agency involved.  .  Here at NursePartners, we have been extensive experience caring for older adults exclusively for over 18 years.  Although we care for older adults with a variety of chronic and progressive conditions, we formally incorporated a dementia training module into our business operations in 2015.  All carepartners and management are trained and certified in the Positive Approach to Care methodology.

We welcome the opportunity to tell you more about how we can form a new care team, or supplement one that you have established.  Give us a call at 610-323-9800 to learn more. best home care Philadelphia, dementia care Philadelphia, Alzheimer's disease Philadelphia

 

Angela scheduled to be keynote speaker for “Remembering Those Who Forget”

We are excited to announce that Angela will serve as the keynote speaker for the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministry (POAM) at the event, “Remembering Those Who Forget”.  Angela will talk about her decades of experience working with those living with dementia.  She will be sure to touch upon practical care approaches that can be implemented immediately, in addition to giving her clinical perspective on the disease.  The event is open to those wanting to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

We would appreciate registration prior to attending the event.  This event is scheduled for next Thursday, May 2, at 8:30am to 1pm in Plymouth Meeting.  Exact details can be found via this link: https://presbyphl.org/events/presby-older-adult-dementia-workhop/

How dementia care is different from traditional home care

Why work with a home care company that specializes in dementia care?

Most non-medical home care companies care for those living with dementia, but services are not equal among providers. There are over 80 types of known dementias and each present a unique set of challenges.

In addition, a client’s progression of dementia depends on their background, personality, and support system. No two clients are ever alike.
Even if a company develops a comprehensive plan of care that includes all of these components, they still need to ensure that the direct care team remains informed and is relatively stable. If either falter, so does the quality of care. Carepartners must remain in communication with one of our registered nurses or dementia coaches throughout the process. They communicate with one another through client care record sheets and a journal that symbolizes the development of their relationship with the client.

Carepartners undergo an educational seminar, role playing scenarios, and additional dementia training before ever assuming their first assignment with a client living with dementia. Additional training is provided for more challenging types of dementia.

NursePartners created the GEM division to care for those living with dementia. This is distinct from our traditional home care division. We put together a plan of care based on the client’s type of dementia, specific needs, background, personality, and support system. Each client is associated with a GEM stone, which indicates where they are in the progression of the disease.

At each stage, we alter our approaches for connecting and providing care. Verbal cues become less effective than visual and touch cues as the disease progresses. We also are aware of the client’s visual scope and in which directions it declines.

If you have questions about how your loved one could benefit from GEM care services, we are available 24/7 to take your call: 610-323-9800.

home care, home health care
Carl and Melva painting together on a cold winter day.

The GEMS™ brain change model

NursePartners embraces the GEMS™ brain change model developed by Teepa Snow.  Unlike other scales, such as the Global Deterioration Scale or the Dementia Severity Rating Scale, the GEMS focuses on creating constructive opportunities to engage with the person living with dementia.  Clients are still seen as people, rather than former individuals lost to the disease.

The GEMS allows us to adapt our care approaches to connect with the person in their moment.  We acknowledge what is lost, but use other senses to build meaningful relationships with our clients.

Services begin with a comprehensive assessment that goes beyond the clinical needs.  We want to know as much as possible about our clients’ preferences and personal histories.  This will allow us to connect from day one, building a durable and trusting relationship.   NursePartners changes the plans of care as we learn new information about each client.

All carepartners attend an initial orientation where they actively participate in a dementia workshop.  Carepartners learn the positive physical approach to care and contribute to a dialogue about the disease.  Dementia coaches then stimulate real life scenarios, filming each carepartner as they approach the hypothetical client.  Carepartners watch themselves as they approach clients, recognizing their strengths and acknowledge an area for improvement.  Scenarios are repeated until carepartners feel confident in the learned approaches.

Carepartners then complete a proprietary training module and final assessment, ensuring that they have understood the training.  At this point, they are ready to be assigned to a client living with dementia.  NursePartners admin will then assess if a client and carepartner would be a good match based on their personalities, interests, and general disposition.

All families are given a description of the GEMS model.  We want them to also connect with their loved one, continuing their relationships.  We help families understand that care techniques must adapt as a person progresses through the disease.  Here is a good summary of the six GEM levels.

dementia care Philadelphia, home care Philadelphia

Want to learn more about how we can help your loved one living with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia?  Call us today at 610-323-9800.

 

Overview of the GEM levels

NursePartners practices the GEMTM level approach to connect with our clients living with dementia.  One of the first things we teach carepartners is to find new ways to say hello.  Depending on a client’s GEMTM stage, we need to communicate through engaging other senses.

Each of our clients receives an activity basket and customized plan of care.  Carepartners help engage older adults in meaningful projects and activities of daily living.  A nurse visits clients biweekly to ensure the success of our approaches and address signs of progression.

NursePartners admin have all completed the GEMTM training and include dementia coaches and practitioners.  We are committed to honoring our clients and assisting their families.

 

Understanding Fall Risks

Falls are a common and serious problem affecting many older adults. Individuals suffering with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia however, are twice as likely to experience annual falls and fractures. This varies from a range of factors including medication, night waking, shuffling, weakening musculature and balance. The first step in protecting your loved one from a serious injury associated with a fall is understanding the risk factors.

 

senior care Philadelphia, fall risk Philadelphia, dementia care Philadelphia

The following are common causes of falls:

Health Conditions

While everyone is at risk for falls, older adults are at the greatest risk due to chronic health conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, low blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and other cognitive impairments. While some individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s are in excellent physical condition, many others seem to develop difficulties before cognitive impairment even begins. As Alzheimer’s progresses, it can cause lack of coordination, muscle weakness and diminished joint flexibility.

Reaction Time

As we get older, the nerves that carry information to and from the brain deteriorate. This slows reaction time and the ability to navigate around obstacles. This can be hazardous as seniors do not react as quickly in dangerous situations.

Medication

Many medicines also have side effects, causing dizziness, drowsiness and impaired vision.

Environmental Hazards

Many times, falls can happen because of environmental factors and hazards found throughout the home. These include everything from wet or slippery floors, poor lighting, to tripping hazards such as loose rugs, uneven floors, and trailing wires.

Visual-Spatial Problems

Because Alzheimer’s disease can affect the visual-spatial abilities, an individual can misinterpret and misjudge steps, uneven terrain, shiny areas on the floor or changes in floor color.

What you can do:

  1. Identify the risk factors for your loved one. Many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia suffer from poor eyesight, shuffling gait, muscle weakness and generalized frailty.
  2. Minimize or avoid medications that have been linked to falls. People with dementia are also more likely to fall when taking sedatives, tranquilizers, and antipsychotics.
  3. Exercise is important in preventing people from falling, especially if it includes balance and strength exercises. Ask the doctor about leg strength, gait, and balance evaluations. These tests help can determine physical risk factors.
  4. Consider a physical therapist or occupational therapist. These experts can work with your loved one to develop exercises strengthen joints.
  5. Make sure your loved one has eye tests regularly. Low vision is a huge risk factor for falls, and many vision problems come on gradually but steadily.  NursePartners’ use of theGEMTM methodology will also alert us towards changes in vision.
  6. Finally, get a home-safety assessment. Carepartners routinely perform these and can target danger spots and suggest easy improvements. This assessment can focus specifically on the needs of your loved one.

If you or a loved one is thinking about home care assistance, our team would love to help. Contact us today.

 

Sources:
Heerema, Esther. “Common Causes of Falls in People with Dementia.” Verywell.com. N.p., 31 Dec. 2015. Web. 30 May 2016.
 Perkins, Chris. “Dementia and Falling.” Continuing Medical Education 35.1 (2008): n. pag. Web. 31 May 2016.