Family Caregivers

How to prevent pressure sores in seniors

A better understanding of what causes pressure sores helps caregivers take better care of their elderly loved ones. A pressure sore (also known as pressure ulcer and bedsore) is a result of tissue getting compressed between bone and an external surface. Pressure sores affect seniors who are unable to move and change position regularly. Prolonged pressure on the compressed areas leads to reduced blood supply (and eventual death) to the skin and underlying muscle tissues. Skin becomes dry and flaky and can break open which allows bacteria to enter the wound. 

Pressure sores/ulcers are located in areas such as the head and ears, elbows, shoulders, heels, and the sacral region and are graded or staged to classify the degree of tissue damage.

A body indicating the areas of the body where pressure sores may occur

Pressure sores are characterized by four stages dependent on the severity and depth of the lesion

Stage 1:    Pressure sores involve the superficial skin layer. The area has prolonged redness or “non-blanchable redness” (the area is red and does not go back to normal color when the senior is moved). The area can also turn pale or shiny and white.

Stage 2: Pressure sores involve superficial lesions to the top layer of skin. This results in a shallow depression or abrasion causing skin breakdown, blisters, shallow craters, edema, drainage, and possibly infection.

Stage 3: Pressure sores have full skin loss and extension into the subcutaneous tissue causing necrosis, drainage, and localized infection.

Stage 4: Pressure sores have damaged the muscle, fascia, and bone with deep infections, drainage, and death of the tissue (necrosis). Consequently, when a senior enters this stage they will always have a stage 4 ulcer. Although pressure sores may heal on the surface, the sores are deep and usually slow to heal. Due to this, pressure sores re-open easily.

Image showing the 4 stages of pressure sores

In most cases, seniors have special skin care needs because their skin becomes dry and thin as they age. If it becomes too dry, skin is prone to cracking and dermatitis. In addition, this allows for the growth of bacteria which can result in infection. Prevention of and assessment for pressure sores/ulcers and skin tears will avoid discomfort and decreased quality of life for seniors.

Prevent pressure ulcers and skin tears:

  • Relieve pressure by off-loading weight  
  • Prevent shearing and friction with careful transfers
  • Provide good personal care
  • Adequate nutrition and hydration
  • Loose, non-binding clothing

What can you do as a caregiver?

  • Reposition often: seniors need to be turned frequently to avoid pressure-sensitive ulcers.  
  • Check skin and all pressure points frequently
  • Give good skin care: powder which keeps areas clean and dry, lotion which keeps skin hydrated and elastic
  • Give good perineal care—toilet often and clean area well
  • Help the client exercise regularly – whatever the client is capable of doing
  • Make sure bed linens are clean, dry and wrinkle free
  • Give gentle massages to increase blood flow
  • Encourage fluids and good nutrition
  • Use pressure reducing devices: pillows, coccyx cushion, air mattress, barrier cream

What should you report to the doctor, Home Health nurse, or other healthcare providers?

  • Redness that won’t go away
  • Pale, white, shiny area over a bony prominence
  • Red, hot, tender to touch
  • Pressure ulcer that has increased in size or depth
  • Senior reports pain
Aspen Senior Care team photo

Aspen Senior Care has won Provider of Choice for 8 years in a row!

Aspen Senior Care trains our caregivers to follow these guidelines to ensure we provide our clients with the best possible care. We know how important it is to have caregivers our clients can trust. Because of this, we provide monthly in-service training to cover important educational topics. This improves the quality of life for both the caregiver and the senior receiving care.  Click here to learn more about our professional caregivers.


 

Information presented by Amanda Hensler

First Choice Home Health & Hospice

According to The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD), Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) refers to a progressive disease process which causes a group of brain disorders. These disorders result in cell damage to specific areas of the brain – the frontal lobes and/or the temporal lobes.  The atrophy of these nerve cells interferes with brain activity and causes a loss of function in these regions of the brain.

Frontotemporal Dementia is different from other types of dementia in two important ways:

  • The trademark of FTD is a gradual, progressive decline in behavior and language with memory usually remaining intact. As FTD progresses it gets more difficult for the person to plan or organize activities, interact with others appropriately, and care for themselves.
  • In the majority of cases, FTD occurs earlier in life in people between the ages of 45 to 65, although it has been seen in people as young as 21 and as old as 80.

Frontotemporal Dementia is often misdiagnosed as a psychiatric problem or a movement disorder, such as Parkinson’s Disease. This is because certain symptoms of FTD mimic other diseases and in other cases, individuals are considered “too young” to have dementia.  According to AFTD, Alzheimer’s Disease is another possible misdiagnosis; however, the largest difference is that FTD affects language and behavior, while AD affects memory. 

Brain image of FTD vs Alz: image from medschool.ucsf.edu

Image from medschool.ucsf.edu

FTD makes up about 10%-20% of all dementia cases and the course of FTD ranges from 2 to over 20 years. The average length is about 8 years from the beginning of symptoms. It affects both men and women and, in some cases, can be inherited.

According to HealthLine.com, symptoms of FTD differ depending on the area of the brain affected, but most symptoms fall under behavior or language.

Common Frontotemporal Dementia behavioral issues include:

  • Loss of empathy
  • Inappropriate actions
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Lack of inhibition or restraint
  • Neglect of personal hygiene and care

Common Frontotemporal Dementia language-related symptoms include:

  • Difficulty speaking or understanding words
  • Problems recalling language
  • Loss of reading and writing skills
  • Difficulty with social interactions

Cognitive and Emotional symptoms of FTD include:

  • Difficulty planning, organizing, and/or executing activities
  • Becoming less involved in daily routines
  • Abrupt mood changes
  • Apathy
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Becoming distracted
  • Reduced initiative

FTD Movement symptoms include:

  • A difference in gait, such as walking with a shuffle
  • Tremors
  • Muscle weakness, or cramps
  • Clumsiness
  • Apraxia (Loss of ability to make motions which are usually common and easy, such as using utensils)

Proper diagnosis is crucial because some medications used to treat other types of dementia may be harmful to a person with FTD. Unfortunately,  AFTD reports no cures at this time. However, research is ongoing and rapidly increasing, and new drugs are beginning to be clinically tested.  

Most importantly, remember that those dealing with any form of dementia are not doing these things on purpose. When providing care, caregivers sometimes trigger behaviors without realizing it. By understanding more about the many different types of dementia, caregivers can begin to improve quality and enjoyment of life at whatever stage of dementia a person happens to be in.

Visit The Association for FrontoTemporal Degeneration

AFTD helpline: 866-507-7222


Learn about different types of dementia in our other blog posts!

Understanding Dementia

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Vascular Dementia?

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

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Aspen Senior Care provides in-home care for seniors with all types of health challenges, including all forms of dementia.

Aspen Senior Day Center in Provo provides adult day care services (fun activities and personal care) for seniors with all types of dementia.

Contact Karen Rodgers, Family Caregiver Coach, for a free assessment to help you navigate the challenges of caregiving. You can reach her at 801-224-5910.

Visit aspenseniorcare.com or call our office at 801-224-5910 for more information.

With so many families caring for a loved one with dementia, we decided it was important to have a family caregiver coach on our Aspen Team to support and encourage caregivers.

What is a Caregiver Coach?

Often families are so caught up in the day-to-day challenges of caregiving they don’t know where to go to find help. A caregiver coach is someone who meets with families and helps them find support and resources specific to their needs.

Our caregiver coaches will help you by:

  • educating families about the type of dementia their loved one has
  • offering ideas about creating a safe home environment
  • being a listening ear for caregiver challenges and frustrations
  • helping problem solve challenging behaviors and situations
  • finding support groups the caregiver might feel comfortable attending
  • helping families access respite, in-home care, and adult day programs in the area.

Aspen Senior Care has a Caregiver Coach!

Karen Rodgers is Aspen’s Family Caregiver Coach

Karen Rogers is our Family Caregiver Coach. She has received special training and has worked with the local Area on Aging to help families navigate the challenges of dementia care. She is a CNA and has served as a professional caregiver for 10 years and also as a supervisor. Karen is also currently a family caregiver to her in-laws.

Karen is happy to help anyone with questions or concerns about caregiving. She can help find community resources, support groups, or help families understand what is happening with their loved one’s illness and offer ideas about coping with challenging behaviors.

Here is an example of how Karen has helped some of our clients:

Recently Karen met with two amazing ladies who are in their 80’s. Rachel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year and her friend, Barbara has been caring for her but having some difficulty keeping up with the changes Rachel was experiencing.  Food would disappear from the fridge and Barbara would find it several days later, spoiled in the garage or bedroom. Sometimes she’d never find it. Rachel couldn’t remember taking it or where she put it.  Barbara was also wearing herself out constantly caring for and supervising Rachel, who couldn’t be left alone for very long.

Clients love creating their own works of art at the Aspen Senior Day Center

Barbara and Karen brain-stormed about the food issue and Barbara ended up putting a safety lock on the fridge. She just uses it at night and it has helped with food disappearing.

Karen also suggested Rachel attend the Aspen Senior Day Center (an adult day care center) two times a week. Barbara was really hesitant about this at first, not thinking Rachel would like it. However, Rachel loves it! She has made some new friends and especially loves doing crafts. Barbara has decided she really likes it, too. She hadn’t realized how tired she was and now she uses this time to rest so she can enjoy time spent with Rachel when she comes home.

Aspen Senior Care takes a team approach to dementia care and wants to help you meet your caregiving goals!

Meeting with our Family Caregiver Coach is a complementary service we offer.

If you have questions please call us at 801-224-5910 or call Karen directly at 385-208-8709. We are here to be of service.

When a person is diagnosed with dementia, it affects the whole family.  Most families don’t know where to begin when it comes to finding help and resources.  Taking a team approach to dementia care is the best way to support families as they support their loved ones.

What is a team approach?

When we think about a team, we think about individuals working together towards the same goal. For families caring for a loved one with dementia, the goal is to provide good care as the disease progresses and also to support each other. Life doesn’t stand still for family members caring for their loved one. Families need to be able to continue with their hopes and dreams, even if some of those hopes and dreams have changed due to their loved one’s illness.We love working with our clients! It takes a team approach!

This is why a team approach to dementia care is so important.  There are agencies here in Utah County that share the same caregiving and quality-of-life goals for people with dementia that caregiving families have.  They offer dementia care education, respite care, and other kinds of support to these families.

Knowing where to find these resources can sometimes be a challenge, especially for families who have just received a diagnosis of dementia. This is where a caregiver coach can be of help.

A Caregiver Coach

Teams usually have a coach – someone who helps the team members by providing education, guidance, and support to help the team succeed. A Caregiver Coach helps families caring for loved ones with dementia. There are many resources available for such families –  the challenge is knowing where to find this information and what applies to their situation.

Each family caring for a loved one with dementia has unique challenges. A caregiver coach meets one on one with family caregivers and helps them find the right resources for them.

A family caregiver coach can:

  • educate families about the type of dementia their loved one has
  • offer ideas for creating a safe home environment
  • be a listening ear for caregiver challenges and frustrations
  • help problem solve challenging behaviors and situations
  • find support groups the caregiver might feel comfortable attending
  • help families access respite, in-home care, and adult day programs in the area.

    Caregiving takes a team

Aspen is here to help

The caregiving journey doesn’t have to be made alone. There are people who want to help and who know from experience the challenges families face. Aspen Senior Care takes a team approach to dementia care and wants to help you meet your caregiving goals. This is why we have a Caregiver Coach to help families meet the challenges of caregiving.  Meeting with our caregiver coach is a complimentary service we offer. To find out more about this service please call 801-224-5910. We are here to help!

 

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Learn about different types of dementia in our other blog posts!

Understanding Dementia

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Vascular Dementia?

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

What is Frontotemporal Dementia?

 

  1. We specialize in helping seniors live at home longer.

Sometimes daily tasks become difficult for your loved one to accomplish and a loving and helping hand is all they need to maintain a good quality of life at home. Aspen Senior Care’s trusted professional caregivers offer non-medical services to help your loved one live comfortably in their own home for as long as they desire.

Here are the words of two of our clients:

  • My mother’s caregiver helps her with bathing, feeding her breakfast, getting her dressed, making her bed, and doing her laundry. The caregiver also takes out the garbage and makes sure the kitchen is cleaned up. She does everything.

Lynn B.

  • My caregiver cares about me and takes care of me, then takes care of things around the house.

Lois C.

Our specific services include:

Aspen Caregivers – We love what we do!

  • Caring companionship
  • Shower assistance
  • Hygiene care
  • Homemaking
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Errands and Transportation
  • Light housekeeping
  • Medication reminders
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia care
  • Respite and Hospice care
  • Delivering peace of mind
  • And much more

Our sister company offers adult day care services and activities for seniors needing memory care. Just visit their website at Aspen Senior Day Center.

  1. We give family caregivers the break they need!

Family caregivers work tirelessly each and every day to give the best care possible to their loved one. We at Aspen Senior Care know that while being a caregiver is one of the most rewarding callings, it can also be tiring and difficult at times.  This is where our professional caregivers step in and provide respite care. Every hard-working caregiver deserves a break to accomplish their daily tasks, run errands, visit family and friends, or take a nap! We’re not taking over, we’re giving family caregivers a chance to take a much-needed break while their loved one follows their daily routine with our trusted professional caregivers.

  • I can’t be there in the afternoon so the services allow someone to be with my mom when I can’t be. 

Tricia L.

  • Having the services helps so that someone is with my mom while I’m at work, and the caregivers show compassion by the way that they talk to my mother. It shows a lot.

Kevin B.

  1. We take great care of our clients and our caregivers.

Gary Staples, Owner and Administrator, founded Aspen Senior Care over 13 years ago because he believed that seniors need the finest care during their final years of life. Our team here at Aspen Senior Care values that belief and works every day to ensure that belief stays true by having a great love and respect for the seniors we care for.  We value our clients and our caregivers and want to ensure that not only are their needs met to their full expectation, but that they feel heard, loved, and appreciated each and every day. 

  • Aspen Senior Care is right on the mark. They check back and their people are professional and kind. I think they’re perfect.

Josephine C.

  • The services from Aspen Senior Care made me feel like my father was being cared for by people that truly care about him.

Ron S.

  1. We have a reputation for delivering on our promises. 

Aspen Senior Care values transparency and ensuring we are living up to our promises! We love what we do, and we hire only those we trust to care for those you love! We at Aspen Senior Care have a promise to each and every client that we work with to always:

  • Be caregivers you can trust in every situation   
  • Give you the type of service that will make you want more
  • Be professional in all that we do and treat you with love and respect
  • Follow the care plan on every shift and document what is accomplished

You are very important to us and we always consider you our highest priority. So, each of us has made the above promise, and we have signed a poster-size version of it and displayed it in our offices as a reminder of our commitment to you. If for any reason you believe that we are not keeping our promise, please let us know immediately. After all, a promise is a promise.

  1. We provide award-winning home care with loving, professional caregivers you can trust!

Aspen Senior Care is an award-winning option for those searching for caregivers devoted to providing the highest level of care, respect, love, and professionalism. Every year for the past eight years, Aspen Senior Care has received Best of Home Care – Provider of Choice from Home Care PulseⓇ, an independent third party company which interviews our clients and their family members regarding their experience with our company. This award means that we have received the highest customer satisfaction scores from our clients compared to other in-home care providers.  

Aspen Senior Care was also voted #1 in the ‘Best of Homecare’ category for Daily Herald‘s – The Best of Utah Valley 2017 Readers Choice Awards. This will make 5 years in a row!

 

 

For more information, call our office at 801-224-5910

What is it?

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia and makes up about 60% to 80% of dementia cases.  However, many researchers believe this number is too high and that other forms of dementia may be under diagnosed. On average, a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will live with the disease for 4-8 years depending on the person’s health and age.  The majority of cases are people aged 65 and older.

In some cases, individuals with this disease aren’t diagnosed until they have had the disease for a few years because the symptoms come on gradually and can be confused with normal aging.

A healthy brain versus a brain affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.

What causes Alzheimer’s Disease?

Although there are ongoing studies, Alzheimer’s Disease is believed to be caused by protein build-up in the brain. These abnormal protein particles are called tangles and plaques and as these tangles and plaques start to attach to nerve cells in the brain, they block communication between the cells and also keep the cells from getting nutrients and oxygen to survive. When a nerve cell dies, that part of the brain shrinks causing the disease to gradually worsen over time. Subsequently, this begins to affect memory, thinking, and behavior as the brain’s “file system” is progressively removed.

Symptoms include:

  • Forgetting how to use common, everyday items
  • Forgetting how to do common activities, such as cooking and driving
  • Misplacing things and not being able to problem solve to find them
  • Becoming fearful or jealous of people
  • Unable to find the right words to speak or write
  • Repeating the same question over and over
  • Poor judgment about appropriate behavior
  • Confusion about time and place
  • Mood and personality changes
We Are People Who Have Alzheimer’s. We Are Not Alzheimer’s.

We Are People Who Have Alzheimer’s. We Are Not Alzheimer’s.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are different stages of the disease which will progressively worsen over time, although the disease will affect each individual differently. Initially, early-stage Alzheimer’s Disease will result in mild memory loss but as it progresses towards late-stage, the disease removes functionality and the ability to make conversation or respond to what is happening around one’s environment.  

Unfortunately, medication does not slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.  However, there are both drug and non-drug treatments which can help neurons in the brain to fire, aiding in cognitive and behavioral symptoms. 

 

To learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementia related topics, visit our blog or the following websites:

Alzheimer’s Association  (24/7 Helpline: 1-800-272-3900 and Find Your Local Chapter)

NIH –  National Institute on Aging

Mayo Clinic

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Learn about different types of dementia in our other blog posts!

Understanding Dementia

What is Vascular Dementia?

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

What is Frontotemporal Dementia?

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

At Aspen Senior Day Center in Provo, we provide adult day care services (fun activities and personal care) for seniors with all types of dementia.

Aspen Senior Care provides in-home care for seniors with all types of health challenges, including all forms of dementia.

Contact Karen Rodgers, Family Caregiver Coach, for a free assessment to help you navigate the challenges of caregiving. You can reach her at 801-224-5910.

Visit aspenseniorcare.com or call our office at 801-224-5910 for more information.

 

 

Aspen Senior Care is excited to share some great on-line dementia care help for family caregivers!

With all of the information about dementia care out there, it can be an overwhelming task to sort through and figure out just what information is best and how it applies to your situation.

At Aspen, we understand the difficulties family members face while caring for loved ones with dementia and our goal is to be a source of support, education, and information to which family members may turn as they cope with the daily challenges of caregiving.

Learning from the best and looking for the positive

Because there is so much material on dementia care out there, we have looked long and hard to find up-to-date, quality information that is both useful and practical for families to implement, and we believe we have found this resource in Teepa Snow, a dementia care education specialist with over 30 years of experience in this field.

 

Teepa Snow,
Dementia Care Specialist

She has developed The Positive Approach to Care training series to help professional and family caregivers better understand the physical changes that happen with dementia, and develop skills to understand and care for people with dementia

Our professional caregivers use Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care training series to better understand memory loss and how using this approach improves the quality of life for both the caregiver and the person receiving care.

The positive approach focuses on what individuals with dementia CAN do at each stage of the disease instead of focusing on the skills they have lost.

 

Online Caregiving Tips

With this in mind, we have put together a list of short video clips taken from Teepa Snow’s training DVDs. More can be found at Teepa’s YouTube channel and The Pines of Sarasota YouTube channel.

These are just a few of the on-line dementia care help available for family caregivers.  Aspen Senior Care has some of the full-length DVDs from which the above clips are taken. Family caregivers are welcome to come and watch the entire DVD if they would like. Just give us a call at 801-224-5910 to check on availability and schedule a time to come in.

Aspen Senior Care is here to help families meet the caregiving challenges they face. We want families to feel they aren’t alone, that there is hope and help available. Please visit our website at aspenseniorcare.com and call us at 801-224-5910 for more information. We’re here to help.

Preventing Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse

This month we had the opportunity to learn about Adult Protective Services and the prevention of abuse for vulnerable and elderly adults.  Debbie Booth from Adult Protective Services taught how we as professional caregivers can prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the seniors in our care.   

Who is considered a Vulnerable Adult?

  • An elder adult, defined as anyone 65 years of age or older.
  • An adult 18 years of age or older who has a mental or physical impairment which substantially affects that person’s ability to:
    • Provide personal protection
    • Provide necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, or mental or other health care
    • Obtain services necessary for health, safety, or welfare
    • Carry out activities of daily living
    • Manage the adult’s resources
    • Comprehend the nature and consequences of remaining in a situation of abuse

What can Adult Protective Services do? 

  • Investigate reports of abuse, neglect, or exploitation
  • Perform needs assessments
  • Coordinate with and refer to community resources for services

What can Adult Protective Services not do?

  • Take custody of an adult.
    • Adults have the right of self-determination unless there is imminent danger of injury or death
  • Under APS authority, place an adult in a nursing home or other facility.
  • Provide any service without the voluntary consent of the alleged victim or their guardian/conservator unless court ordered to do so.

“…Caretakers are our eyes and ears in terms of protecting this very vulnerable population.”

– Debbie Booth

Debbie also taught our team how to spot and report abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults by being aware and watchful of the following signs:

ABUSE

  • Unexplained bruises or welts
  • Multiple bruises in various stages of healing
  • Unexplained fractures, abrasions, and lacerations
  • Multiple injuries
  • Low self-esteem or loss of self-determination
  • Withdrawn, passive, fearful
  • Reports or suspicions of sexual abuse

NEGLECT

  • Dehydration
  • Lack of glasses, dentures, or other aides if usually worn
  • Malnourishment
  • Inappropriate or soiled clothes
  • Over or under medicated
  • Deserted or abandoned
  • Unattended

SELF-NEGLECT

  • Over or under medicated
  • Social isolation
  • Malnourishment or dehydration
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Lack of glasses, dentures, or hearing aides, if needed
  • Failure to keep medical appointments

EXPLOITATION

  • Possessions disappear
  • Forced to sell house or change one’s will
  • Overcharged for home repairs
  • Inadequate living environment
  • Unable to afford social activities
  • Forced to sign over control of finances
  • No money for food or clothes

In the state of Utah, it is the law that any person who has reason to believe that a vulnerable adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited must immediately notify Adult Protective Services intake or the nearest law enforcement office.

 

To Report Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse, Please call:

Salt Lake: 801-538-3567

Statewide: 800-371-7897

Click here to learn more about APS
Visit our website at aspenseniorcare.com for more information regarding in-home senior care.

**All information was provided by Debbie Booth from the Division of Aging and Adult Services for the State of Utah Department of Human Services**

 

 

Communication and Dementia

Communication is a key part of every person’s day, but seniors with various types of dementia may have a difficult time communicating their needs and feeling comfortable around people who may be unfamiliar to them.

It is important to be aware that the way we communicate with seniors needs to be handled with care and awareness.  By learning the best way to approach, we can help them to feel understood and contented in many different situations.  

Below are many different ways of communicating which you can practice with a senior or loved one dealing with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.   

Connect – Always use this sequence for CUES:

  1. Visually- show
  2. Verbally- tell
  3. Physically- touch

Basic skills to develop when working with people with dementia

Positive Physical Approach –  to greet a person with dementia consistently use this approach:

  1. Pause at edge of public space
  2. Offer your hand and make eye contact
  3. Approach slowly within visual range
  4. Shake hands and maintain hand-under-hand  
  5. Move to the side
  6. Get to eye level and respect personal space
  7. Wait for acknowledgment

Supportive Communication

Make a connection by offering:

  • Your name –  “I’m (name) and you are…?”
  • A shared background –  “I’m from (place) and you’re from…?”
  • A positive personal comment –  “You look great in that sweater,” or “I love that color on you.”

Support to help them accomplish the task you would like them to do

  1. Give simple and short information
  2. Offer concrete choices
  3. Ask for their help
  4. Ask the person to TRY
  5. Break the task down to a single step at a time

Give simple information

  1. Use visual and verbal cues (gesture and point) – “It’s about time for…,” or “Let’s go this way…,” “Here are your socks…”
  2. Acknowledge the response/reaction to your info
  3. Limit your words – keep it simple
  4. Wait! Be patient

*Remember – Be a Detective, NOT a Judge. Look, Listen, Offer, Think!*

For more information and topics about in-home care, visit aspenseniorcare.com

Adapted from Teepa Snow – “It’s All in Your Approach”-training DVD  

The topic of death and losing a loved one, for many, is a difficult topic to address and understand. Every individual will go through a different process and each caregiver will experience different emotions. There is no right or wrong way to feel when the one you love is reaching the final act of living.

“I truly believe it’s all about the living. We are born and we die and everything in between is living, clear until our last breath.” – Diana Cazier

For our in-service for the month of February, Aspen Senior Care had the wonderful opportunity to have Diana Cazier from Elevation Home Health and Hospice teach our team about the sensitive topic of recognizing the signs to look for when your loved one is in the final act of living. She referred to the booklet by Barbara Karnes, RN, titled, “The Final Act of Living: Reflections of a Long-Time Hospice Nurse”.  

The final act of living is a challenge.  This is a flexible guideline for what caregivers can watch for because no one knows the exact date that someone will pass.

Signs to look for in the Final Act of Living

One to three months before death:

  • Withdrawal from world and people
  • Decreased food intake
  • Increase in sleep
  • Going inside self
  • Less communication

One to two weeks before death:

Mental Changes

  • Disorientation
  • Agitation
  • Talking with the unseen
  • Confusion
  • Picking at clothes

Physical Changes

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Pulse increase or decrease
  • Skin color changes; pale, bluish
  • Increased perspiration
  • Respiration irregularities
  • Congestion
  • Sleeping but responding
  • Complaints of body tired and heavy
  • Not eating, taking little fluids
  • Body temperature: hot, cold

 

 

Days or hours before death:

  • Intensification of one to two week’s signs
  • Surge of energy
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Eyes glassy, tearing, half open
  • Irregular breathing: stop, start
  • Restlessness or no activity
  • Purplish, blotchy knees, feet, hands
  • Pulse weak and hard to find
  • Decreased urine outlet
  • May wet or stool the bed
  • Acetone breath

Minutes before death:

  • “Fish out of water” breathing
  • Cannot be awakened

Through this presentation, we were taught how to be more aware and understanding of the different signs we may observe as one approaches death from disease or old age. We are so grateful to Diana for her presentation as it will continue to help us be more supportive and observant as professional in-home caregivers.

“At Aspen Senior Care, we like to align ourselves with the finest Home Health and Hospice agencies in Utah. We appreciate their willingness to present at our in-service training and reach us about important topics.  We are better because of it.”

Gary Staples, Owner and Administrator

 

If you have any questions, or if you need further support, contact us today at 801-224-5910. You can also refer to “The Final Act of Living: Reflections of a Long-Time Hospice Nurse” by Barbara Karnes, RN.

For more information and topics about in-home care, visit aspenseniorcare.com