Communication

Why is Decluttering so Beneficial? 

There are obvious reasons to declutter. Safety: Clutter can trip us up. Efficiency: With declining eyesight, it gets hard to find things we use every day. Focus: Messy environments can make it hard to process information.

Clutter is a growing problem today among all populations, and especially the elderly. To help your loved one downsize, create more room in their home and/or just make it safer to age in place, it is important to note the difference between hoarders and clutterers. Hoarders are obsessive and will often need a trained professional specializing in obsessive-compulsive disorder to let go. Clutterers, the more common type, are more apt to let go with a little encouragement and support. This article deals with the latter.

Why Is It So Hard to Do?

Whether you want to pare down the stuff in your home, garage, or a storage unit, one problem is knowing where to start. The more we have, the more overwhelming it is. And for some of us, the idea can be extremely anxiety-producing. A recent Yale study found that for some people, a part of our brain reacts the same way to the anticipated loss of valued possessions as it does to the idea of quitting an addiction. And there is the additional factor for  the elderly of not wanting to lose a connection with the past, whether that be old school papers or a favorite jar opener you’ve had in the family since 1969 (most of us have at least one of these things still hanging around the house!)

Some Tips for Success

  1. Get “buy in” from your loved one. Discuss the benefits of paring down, including potentially making some money from reselling your “stuff.” That can be through a yard sale, consignment shop, Craig’s List, or eBay. According to the New York Times, a well-planned garage sale typically nets between $500 and $1,000.
  2. Share the process. Come up with ways to make it an enjoyable activity you share, such as reviewing old photos or school papers together, or doing a “fashion show” to see what clothes to keep. Create incentives—such as an outing or meal after doing a certain amount of “work.”
  3. Don’t try to tackle too much at once. Help your loved one develop a strategy that addresses a room at a time, and then a single task at a time, so they are not overwhelmed. A good rule of thumb is to do no more than three hours of sorting a day, which is about how long we can sustain focus without a break.

    Photo by Pixabay (geralt)

    Photo by Pixabay (geralt)

  4. Get organized. Consider preparing three bags or boxes and labeling them Keep, Toss, and Sell/Donate. You might add a fourth box for things that need repairing, mending or dry cleaning, but don’t add more options than that. Put away what’s in your Keep pile at the end of each day and throw out or recycle what’s in your Toss pile.
  5. Be decisive. When in doubt, throw it out. Organizers often use the rule of thumb that if you haven’t used it/worn it/looked at it in a year, it’s time for it to go. When it comes to ornamental items or keepsakes, the other common standard is to only keep those things you really love and that give you pleasure. If that knick-knack your Aunt Marge gave you makes you cringe, it has no place in your home, regardless of the sentiment attached to it.
  6. Get professional help. If the job is just too big or you need direction, consider hiring a professional organizer. They can give you an overall strategy, or guide you through the process. Do a local search for “Certified Professional Organizers,” if you don’t have a referral for a professional.

Going through our possessions and ridding ourselves of things that no longer fit our lives is a process we can all benefit from. You may find that going through this process with your loved one will be a positive and rewarding experience for both of you. And you may just find you are motivated to do it for yourself as well!

In any relationship, it is important to foster trust, communication, and respect. This is especially true in a caregiving relationship. There are many ways to strengthen the caregiving relationship, and here are 3 essential keys to consider:

Respect-

Creating a relationship with the client and their family based off of mutual respect is one of the most important steps towards a strong caregiving team. Learning about the client and their needs builds a stronger understanding of what makes them feel safe, comfortable, and valued. Ren, an Aspen Senior Care client, mentions how this helps her grandfather. “The caregiver is sympathetic, accommodating, and has gotten to know my grandfather so they have a friendship. She brings newspaper clippings she finds funny and they sit and talk about life and the past.”

Respect in Caregiving Pixabay (Beesmurf)

Photo by Pixabay (Beesmurf)

Trust-

In caregiving, each person must know that they can count on one another and that they will be looking out for each other’s best interests. Kirsten, a caregiver with Aspen Senior Care says, “Trust is essential in caregiving because we want our clients and their families to be at ease knowing we will be dependable and honest in providing the best quality of care for them and their loved one.”

Communication-

It’s important for the caregiver and client to communicate well by listening to and understanding one another’s needs. Together you can determine what goals should be accomplished and ensure that each person is receiving the care they need. When both individuals know what to expect, misunderstandings and frustrations can be avoided.

Gary Staples, Owner of Aspen Senior Care recalls a situation where respect, trust, and communication turned a problematic situation with a client around for the better. 

“We had the opportunity of helping with a senior couple in their home. The husband was caring for his wife but was also dealing with his own dementia. At times he would become frustrated with the caregiver and accuse her of stealing his Irish Spring soap. Although she did not take the soap, he would insist she was stealing from him and he was quite upset.

The caregiver communicated with the daughter of the couple and the office staff to discuss the situation. The daughter understood that her father was confused and that the caregiver had not stolen anything. Unfortunately, her father would continue to accuse the caregiver each time she visited the home.  

The office staff thought long and hard about ways we could ease his worries and repair his trust in the caregiver. We came up with the idea of putting together a large tower of Irish Spring soap on a nice platter and tying it up with a large ribbon. We presented him with the gift and he was so delighted and grateful!

The tower remained on his coffee table where he could see it each day. From then on did not have any worries that the caregiver was stealing his soap!

Irish Spring Soap

By building a tower of Irish Spring soap, ‘a monument of trust’, we were able to show respect and sensitivity for our client and give him peace of mind in a way that he knew we cared.”

At Aspen Senior Care we value being professional in-home caregivers our clients can trust and rely on at all times. Going above and beyond to create a healthy relationship with our clients and their families is our number one priority.

To learn more about us or get caregiving support, call our office today at 801-224-5910.

There are many services available to help seniors who may need extra assistance. Unfortunately, this transition can be hard for those needing extra care. Some adults resist having strangers come into their home. Sometimes they do not want to attend an adult day program or move into a senior housing community. The senior who needs help may see these services as a loss of independence, an invasion of privacy, or are unwilling to pay for services.
 

Here are suggestions family caregivers have found helpful in making these transitions easier.

Listen and involve your loved oneHow can I get my family member to accept help?

Your loved one wants to have a say in what is happening with their care. Listen to their concerns and why they are fearful of accepting help.  Maybe they feel that their choice is being taken away from them. Perhaps they feel they have become a burden. Whatever it may be, express that you understand their concerns and that their feelings are valid Involve your loved one when choosing the in-home care company, adult day care program, or residential facility. Having a voice will help your family member feel more comfortable with the decision.

Take it Step-by-step

Next, take time to introduce the new assistance into your family member’s life. For example, begin by having an initial meeting with your loved one and an in-home care company. As your loved one builds a relationship with a caregiver, add hours and days throughout the week. A senior day center may be a better fit. Your family member can begin with two days per week to adjust to the new routine and structure.

Communicate your needs

Acknowledge your needs as a caregiver and express your thoughts to your loved one. Let them know that it helps ease your concerns when you know they are in good care. Confirm that you are still there to help and that you love them.

Be Respectful

In most cases, your loved one is in a place where they have the right to help make decisions for themselves. Their final decision may not fall in line with what you consider to be the best choice for everyone involved, especially if they have dementia. Encourage them to give the new change a try for two weeks and then evaluate after that. Be respectful and supportive. This may be a difficult time for them and they need your love and support.

Senior Financial Literacy

In 2004, the American Society on Aging sponsored a study to test the financial knowledge of Americans age 50+. This included a survey of three simple yes/no questions that assessed the knowledge of the respondents on concepts such as inflation, risk diversification, and interest rates. At that time only one-third of respondents could answer all three questions correctly.*

Since 2009, broader studies have been made within the wider population and the results were similarly dismal. However, there was a clear correlation between age and a failure to understand some basic financial concepts that make up financial literacy. This is especially worrisome given that money and debt management issues are most consequential to seniors.

This may seem an overwhelming topic to tackle for a senior or their family. While getting sound financial advice is one of the first things most money professionals recommend, that can be easier said than done. Many older adults rely on the advice of relatives, friends or neighbors. Yet, this is a strategy that as many as 70 percent of fraud victims report having used. Become more informed and consider learning more from an accredited Financial Advisor. These are the best first steps to improve one’s financial literacy. One online resource for understanding some of the basics is ConsumerCredit.com. This site offers useful tools designed for the 50+ population.

Here are several topics which seniors and their families may wish to consider when evaluating their financial health.

Know where your money is going Do you know where your money is going?

Based on a 2014 survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, over 60% of Americans don’t have a budget. This is the first place to start in developing financial literacy. You cant make informed choices about your money if you don’t know where it is going.

Address your debt 

Now that you know where your money is going, its time to develop a strategy to start eliminating it. This means identifying expenses that you can trim and develop strategies to change your spending habits.

Check your credit report 

Your credit report can impact not only your ability to get a loan but to rent an apartment or land a job. Therefore, it is critical that you check your credit report often and understand the factors that affect it. If your score is low, there are many agencies available to help you start improving it.

Understand your retirement portfolio 

Check your investment choices. For those seniors with retirement portfolios, it is important to understand your risk. While the safety of bonds has always been attractive, a perfect storm may be upon the bond market in the form of anticipated increases in interest rates, tax cuts and a ballooning national debt which will all impact the value of bonds. If your portfolio favors bonds, it may be time to consider a more diversified financial plan. Know whether your total living expenses could ride out a drop in value.

Prepare 

We’ve all heard the rule—you should have three to six months of expenses on hand for an emergency. Even if you don’t think you can get there, start somewhere. Have a set amount put away so if there’s an emergency you have something to fall back on.

* For more information on this study and a more in-depth discussion on the topic of financial literacy, go to asaging.org.

Adapted from The Seniors Choice ‘Improving Senior Financial Literacy’

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.

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?

 

Thank you to Marie VillezaElderImpact.org) for contributing this piece to our August blog!

Living far away from a senior loved one can be stressful, especially if they have health issues or limited mobility. It can be difficult to know how to help from afar, but often, finances and commitments keep us from being able to travel.

Fortunately, there are several apps, websites, and services that will allow you to help your loved one no matter how far apart you are. Whether there are health issues involved or you just want to give them assistance around the house, technology has ensured that it can be done. Think about the best ways to help your loved one thrive, then read on for the best tips on how to get started and where to find the best services.

Health-related

Making sure your loved one stays in good health is a priority, but it’s not always easy when you live in a different city or state. Now, they can download an app on their smartphone to help them keep track of their blood pressure; it even allows them to record notes about what they had to eat or drink that day, their weight, and their resting blood pressure. The app uses the phone’s camera to record the pulse in their finger for a readout.

You can also invest in a Fitbit, which is worn on the wrist like a watch and tracks several different bodily functions, including steps taken over the course of the day.

For brain health

Keeping the brain active is vital for seniors, especially those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or are at risk for it. Playing brain games on a tablet or smartphone can help boost memory and keep brain cells active and healthy.

For seniors who have trouble remembering the little things–like where they parked in a large parking lot–there’s an app that will help them out every time they leave the house. Park And Forget is specially made for people who can’t keep track of the area they left their car in when they go to big places like the mall.

For ease of everyday activities

For seniors who have trouble reading small print even with glasses, there’s an app called Eyereader that enlarges the text in a book or magazine and lights it up through the phone screen. Used like a magnifying glass, this app prevents eye strain and helps seniors have more independence.

Pillboxie is another great app for seniors; it’s a reminder tool that helps the user remember to take their medication. This is perfect for seniors who have a lot of medicine to keep up with, especially if there are some that have to be taken at different times of the day.

Apps aren’t the only way you can help your senior loved one; you can also take advantage of services online, such as Rover.com, which allows you to set up a dog walker to come and take care of their pet. Although many seniors enjoy getting out and exercising with their dogs, some have limited mobility and can’t always do it safely. Hiring a dog-walker ensures that your loved one won’t have to choose between endangering their health or keeping their pet from going on its daily walk.

With so many apps and services to choose from, it can get a little overwhelming. Try not to stress; simply help your loved one set up the ones they want to try and show them how to get started. Once they’ve gone through the steps a few times, it will become much easier, and you can rest assured that they are in good hands even if you can’t be with them all the time.

Author: Marie Villeza (Author: ElderImpact.org)

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**

 

 

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”
— Charles Swindoll

Did you know that our communication with others, especially those we care for, can impact how we feel and think?  While the words we speak can have a negative or a positive affect on those around us, they also affect us.

We are always creating “realities” around us when we communicate with others and others do the same with us.

Holly Whiteside at AgingCare.com gives the following example:

‘Imagine yourself visiting your loved one in the hospital. You are walking down the hallway when you overhear two people talking. One of them points at a nurse coming down the hall and tells her friend, “That one has a lousy attitude.”

Later, you meet that nurse in your loved one’s room. Do you feel good about her caring for your loved one?’

Subconsciously, you probably have already formed an opinion of her and will now notice how she does everything with a poor attitude.

We are constantly being “infected” by others’ words and actions, but do we notice how our own thoughts and words affect how we are feeling?  Words describe feelings but they can also CREATE feelings in ourselves and in others, which is why we should choose our words carefully.

Many types of communication in ordinary life are common, such as “venting” or “sharing.”   However,  caregiving is not ordinary life! As a caregiver, your energy and attitude need to be safeguarded at all costs.

Many of us know people who drain the emotional energy from us. It’s hard to be around people like that. But if we are saying negative things to ourselves about our situation it can be just as draining.

Saying to yourself that “Caregiving is hard” has a slightly negative tone about it, but if you change the phrase by saying  “Caregiving is a challenge” it makes the tone a little more hopeful.

Of course, we all need to vent at times, but Holly Whiteside recommends setting a limit to this. It’s helpful to talk about difficulties, but then move on to more constructive communication.

If we are always creating our realities, with practice we should be able to create something positive!

DSC00097

Here at Aspen Senior Care we value each and every one of our clients and their families!  Each client is unique and we design our services to match their needs.   If you are in need of assistance or have any questions about our services please give us a call at 801-224-5910 or visit our website at aspenseniorcare.com.