Tag Archives: Professional Caregiver

Tough Choices from Tender Hearts: Caregiving During a Pandemic

About a month ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new guidelines that advocate family visitors to return to nursing homes. At this time only three states are not allowing visits. The guidelines provide specifics on how to visit a family member while remaining safe. Unfortunately, it still means making tough choices between a resident’s mental and physical health.

Reducing Social Isolation

These guidelines highlight the need for residents in long-term care to see family members and loved ones. With these guidelines in place, it helps to bring loved ones back together. What about caring for family members who remain at home? What are the recommendations for keeping everyone at home safe?

Guidelines for Home Visits

In May 2020, AARP published an article on steps to take in safely visiting older family members in their home. Those steps included keeping visits short and wearing protective masks and eyewear when possible. The article also suggested staying away if you feel sick, keeping younger family members away for the time being, and visiting while outside.

Making Tough Choices

Despite the good intentions of these guidelines, serious questions are raised. How are caregivers managing? They are making decisions based on what is best for their family members while balancing issues of safety, health, and protection. These kinds of decisions are not new in caregiving.

The combination of trying to provide care while maintaining social distance and health is even more difficult. And caregivers are also conflicted about bringing love ones into a nursing home and out of the home environment, even though it may be the best possible option.

Lessons Learned?

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the overwhelming need to address caregiving and those who provide it. We need to take the lessons learned from this ongoing experience and make better options for caregivers, both paid and unpaid. Caregivers continue to continue to give their best. It’s more than past the time to focus on their needs and provide better choices.

Kathy Dreyer, Ph.D., is an Advisor at AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, which develops and delivers innovative research-based aging and dementia training programs such as Dementia Live® and Compassionate Touch®, for professional and family caregivers; kathy.dreyer@ageucate.com

The World needs more AGE-u-caters! Are you one of them?

The rapid pace of our aging world is changing the face of every facet of our society from health and long term care, to faith communities and business establishments.  Across the spectrum, issues such as these are at the forefront of leadership discussions:

  • Dementia friendly hospitals – how do we transition as the average patient age increases and cognitive impairment becomes more prevalent
  • Person and Resident-centered long term care – how do we properly train the current workforce and prepare for the shortage that is already upon us and certain to become even more severe in the near future?
  • Families caring for older adults make up the largest percentage of caregivers in the US and the world.  How do we educate, support and provide resources to help them cope with the physical, financial, emotional and spiritual challenges of the caregiving journey?
  • Faith Communities are faced with ministering and caring for their skyrocketing numbers of aging adults, yet often lack the training, staff and volunteers to meet the complex needs of their members and families.  How do they receive guidance and training to help them further their ministry and mission in helping those in need?
  • Age friendly communities, businesses and organizations must have a plan and guidance to successfully meet changing demographics.  Who can help with better understanding the needs of older adults?

Aging educators and trainers work with long term care providers, hospitals, the business community, families, faith communities, and public agencies.  They are trained in a variety of aging and caregiver topics,  whether one is a professional or family care partner, business person who serves an older adult population, or serves either of these groups with public resources.  We call them AGE-u-caters and they are part of our team at the AGE-u-cate® Training Institute!

AGE-u-caters are  seasoned professionals in the aging field, coming from the senior care industry, clinicians, social work or education.  All have a passion to help others by using their skills to train, educators and coach others.  Often they are looking for a career change, recently retired from long term regular employment, or supplementing retirement income or other part time work.

AGE-u-caters are networkers, involved in their communities and continually learning about the aging field.  They are part of a fast growing worldwide network aging advocates in their local and regional communities.

The world needs more AGE-u-caters!  Could you be one of them?

www.AGEucate.com

Pam Brandon is President and Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  She is a passionate advocate for aging adults and those that care for them and is leading a fast growing network of worldwide AGE-u-caters who offer innovative and powerful training and education programs – creating transformative change for an aging world!  

 

Senior Care Professionals- Four Tips to Develop Cultural Sensitivity

Senior Care cultural sensitivity

As the world becomes increasingly ethnically blended senior care professionals are called upon to care for people from diverse cultures. This is true in hospitals, clinics, long term care, hospice and home care.  To create person centered senior care it’s important to develop multicultural sensitivity while respecting cultural differences of individuals, families and groups.

Decades ago I worked as an occupational therapist at an Iowa hospital.  One day my supervisor called a meeting about a new patient—not something that typically triggered a meeting.  But this was not a typical patient. He was the elder of a gypsy family. The hospital was making preparations to accommodate what tradition dictated in gypsy culture. The entire extended family would stay on the premises during the elder’s hospitalization.   I admire the way the hospital handled the situation. For days this family lived in campers in the parking lot in addition to several people staying in the hospital room night and day. I was fascinated by all this even though I didn’t understand it.  I’m glad the hospital set such a good example and honored the needs of this patient while demonstrating cultural sensitivity.

Cultural competence is the ability to relate to and provide services for people from cultures and traditions other than one’s own.  Lots of things make up a person’s culture and world view.  Ethnicity, family heritage, spiritual tradition, beliefs about illness and well being, views of death and dying, food beliefs, family structure, language and non-verbal communication are a few such influences.

Four Tips to Develop Cultural Sensitivity

  1. Experts in the field of transcultural nursing as well as professional chaplains suggest we first identify your personal cultural identity. Recognize your social roles, spiritual self-knowledge, cultural heritage, personal habits and attitudes. Your own influences determine how you think and behave socially and in the workplace.
  2. Identify the cultural mix in your own community. The cultural tapestry of Miami is different than in San Francisco or Des Moines or the Appalachian mountains. What shapes the tapestry where you live?
  3. Generalize, rather than stereotype. To stereotype is to apply a belief or attitude to everyone in a cultural group, for example “all Hispanics do this” or “all Chinese think that”. To generalize is to have a basic understanding about a culture and use that knowledge as a starting point to then learn more about a person, family or group. You don’t have to be an expert about cultures to become more sensitive and competent.  Accurate basic information is a good start.
  4. Practice authentic listening. Listen with your ears, eyes, heart and mind. Authentic listening is paying attention in the moment. Information gathered in the moment guides right action.

Person centered senior care fosters a holistic approach.  Factoring in the needs of people from a range of cultures seems logical. Do service providers encourage cultural competence and sensitivity? Share your experience!

Hospice Care: Can Compassion be Taught?

hospice-care compassionSome think compassion is an attribute reserved for people like Mother Teresa. But compassion isn’t just reserved for those who travel a moral high ground.  Hospice care professionals cultivate compassion for when they are called to the bedside.

Compassion is Good Medicine
Compassion has many qualities, most noteworthy loving-kindness and heart-centered. Therefore, compassion is a heartfelt concern for suffering coupled with wanting to ease the suffering. Scientists show interest in the impact of compassion. As a result they’re finding that it’s good medicine. The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education conducts scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior. Scientists look beyond Western “hard science” to learn about human behavior and emotions.  Neuroscientists conduct brain studies to discover how compassion affects us biologically.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that 40 seconds of compassionate communication from a physician reduced anxiety and increased confidence among breast cancer patients.  In hospice care compassionate communication may enhance the experience for the patient. But it may also help hospice care professionals find greater satisfaction in their work.

How to Cultivate Compassion
Compassion is a human quality. With intentional practice it arises spontaneously.  Many heart-centered practices exist. Anyone serving people in hospice care can integrate such practices. Especially  relevant is the following example.

Sit comfortably. Be in your body and focus your attention upon your breath. If you wish, place one or both hands over your heart.

First, direct loving kindness to yourself.

Picture two or three people who care about you. Imagine them looking lovingly at you. These might be people in your life now or in the past or even spiritual figures. What would they wish for you? Repeat these simple phrases imagining they were saying them to you.

May you be filled with kindness and compassion.

May you be safe in every way.

May you be well in body and mind.

May you be happy.

May you live with ease.

How do you feel? Notice what arises trying not to judge thoughts, but simply let them pass through your mind.

Next picture someone you would like to send compassion to. It could family or a friend; a co-worker; a stranger; or even  someone you find challenging. Repeat the same phrases except this time direct them to this person. Again, sit for a few minutes simply noticing anything that arises in your mind.

To end, take in a deep, cleansing breath and bring your awareness back into your body. In conclusion, offer thanks for the experience in whatever way you wish. Perhaps a simple “thank you” will do!