Senior Care – Searching for Simplicity

seniorIt’s no wonder that we have an ever growing quest for simplicity.  Not just in our personal lives, but this phrase surrounds many conversations within the business community – especially with those of us in senior care.  There is a  recurring plea from senior care professionals today with regards to education.. keep it simple.  Teach us by showing, because we know that when we learn by doing, we’re going to retain that knowledge.

Why is that teaching those who care for those with dementia often is everything but simple?  Dementia (and other cognitive impairment) in older adults is anything but simple.  A complex web of identifying and managing symptoms is no easy task from any level within the care spectrum.  Yet much of what we teach direct care staff has little to do with these 2 basic needs: Understanding and Empowerment.

“We need tools.  We need solutions to behaviors.  We need simplicity”.  These are words that I hear almost daily as I speak to administrators, memory care directors, marketing staff and clinical professionals.

AGEucate provides such training programs.  We provide the tools to understand the plight of dementia, sensory loss, cognitive impairment.   Once you understand what an aging person’s life is really like, then here is a tool to empower you to provide better care.  To help ease agitation, engage that person with a caregiver or family member.  These programs are not complicated, but extremely powerful.  Evidenced based programs with the clinical research to back up the methodology and outcomes.

Bring back simple to your communities and see what extraordinary changes will take place in the lives of your residents, patients, staff, caregivers and families. We must all consider the far-reaching consequences of complex medicine in our society today.

Pam Brandon, founder AGEucate LLC, providers of the Virtual Dementia Tour and Compassionate Touch programs.

 

Honoring the Frontline Caregiver

frontline caregiverOur team was priviledged to have recently been asked to present at the North Dakota Long Term Care Association.  Included in this event was a special one day Frontline Caregiver Conference.  In an industry faced with severe staff shortages, particularly in North Dakota, we certainly applaud the leaders that chose to honor frontline staff with a day to network with other professionals, enjoy some pampering from vendors (massages and mani’s to name a few!) and develop new skills to enhance their very demanding jobs.

After a busy week, it was nice to reflect on the events that took place during the flight back to Texas.  I have deep respect for those who choose the path of caring for elders.  While it can be a rewarding profession, it’s also one of the hardest jobs on the planet.  My heart and soul for the senior care sphere is embedded in years of personal caregiving for my own parents.  I learned quickly how heartwrenching it is to witness a parent’s declining health; to rely on someone else to love and nurture them when you can no longer do it all yourself; and to put one’s own needs aside to give wholly to someone, especially when they are struggling.

Through this, I witnessed multitudes of caregivers who were professionals in their field, having the unexplainable gift of serving, communicating and giving unconditionally.  This takes a special human being.  As a family member, these caregivers were our angels.

To the associations and providers who are stepping up to honor frontline staff, I applaud you and encourge others to add this to your agendas for your next conference, convention or symposium.  For elder care communities, this should be engrained in your culture.  One client we have the honor to work with actually flips the org chart every morning.  Those they serve come first, and guess whose next?  The frontline staff.  THAT is culture change.

The life blood of our industry lies in empowering, training and supporting our frontline staff.  We are privileged to help in this efforts.  We need to all move in the same direction with these core values and committment to changing our culture together.

Honoring our seniors means honoring those who care for them.

 

 

Culture Change – It Runs Deep

Culture ChangeI use the term inside-out a LOT. It just seems to fit many descriptives for me. I also like transformative change. When you look at these together, I believe that so much of what we are doing as educators in the elder care field should be focused on helping organizations bring about inside-out changes that lead to transformation or deep culture change. I love the work being done through such organizations at Pioneer Network, Leading Age, Eden Alternative and so many others that have stepped up to create out of the box initiatives and thinking. It’s not an easy task, but I’m privileged to be a part of this movement and work alongside organizations across the country who are taking bold steps in person-centered care. It’s exciting, challenging, sometimes daunting – but the efforts of just one person can have exponential effects across an organization. Hats off to all of those who are blazing new trails!

Why Touch Works in Dementia Care

Why Touch Works in Dementia CareWhat is it about skilled touch that decreases distress for those living with dementia that can lead to behavioral symptoms?  Common responses include decreased aches and pains; sensory stimulation resulting in increased body awareness; relaxation; aids sleep; decreased feelings of loneliness; uplifted mood.

The following is an excerpt from The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Slow-stroke Back Massage and Hand Massage on Relaxation in Older People (2010) Melodee Harris and Kathy C Richards, Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19, 917–926

“In recent years, the nursing profession used technology and pharmacology to relieve conditions such as pain, anxiety and insomnia that were once treated with massage. However, interest in massage has grown with the move to more holistic nursing. This review examines the physiological and psychological effects of slow-stroke back massage and hand massage on relaxation in older people and identifies effective protocols for massage in older people.

Outcomes on psychological indicators are consistent with strong physiological indicators for slow-stroke back massage on relaxation in older people. Statistically significant results and improvements for physiological and psychological indicators are associated with decreasing agitation and promoting relaxation using hand massage in older people. Stronger correlations were found between slow-stroke back massage and psychological responses in older people. The effects of massage for reducing anxiety and increasing relaxation were recurring themes suggesting that slow stroke back massage reduces psychological stress. The studies on hand massage reported a consistent reduction in verbal aggression and non-aggressive behaviour in persons with dementia.”

Hand massage and slow-stroke back massage are a part of the Compassionate Touch® program. Care-partners of all kinds can learn to use touch in a focused way to increase quality of life for those living with dementia.

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