The dictionary describes a sphere a place or environment within which a person or thing exists; a particular social world or stratum of society. How does this relate to how we approach society’s challenges on caring for our seniors?
I’ve had the great privilege over the years of working with many organizations who serve older adults from community based organizations, churches, eldercare providers and more. As an advocate for education and training and the needs of society to embrace our aging population and their needs, I see opportunities at every corner. Building a sphere takes all of these organizations in a community to work together. Make no mistake – we have BIG challenges ahead.
Baby boomers don’t want to admit it, but the march toward old age is upon us (I’m one of them, so including myself here!). Collaboration and coordination at all levels within our local communities is a must for building a successful sphere of senior care. None of us can do it alone. To make this happen it takes:
Leadership and Visionaries – those people who see beyond today and know how to pull the champions together for a singular cause.
Education – we vastly overestimate public’s knowledge of age related issues from preparing for old age to chronic illness, understanding services and how we can reach out to our elders and those who care for them.
Teach compassion and understanding to our younger generation, allowing them the privilege of growing up to honor and care for older adults. Include them not as a bystander, but rather as an integral link in the aging of our world.
Healthy spheres don’t just happen. Now more than ever, we need to see the growth of rural, suburban and urban communities coming together to address the real issues of aging and how to build a sphere of senior care that ultimately will benefit all.
The holiday season is not always holly and jolly for the families that you serve. It is, in fact one of the most stressful times of the year, especially for family caregivers. Often feeling overwhelmed and under appreciated, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year is consistently rated as the most difficult, especially for primary caregivers.
In my work as a family caregiver educator, I would often spend the latter part of October and all of November and December speaking to families about keeping themselves emotionally, physically and spiritually well in preparation for the holiday season. Learning to deal with stress takes a conscience effort and rethinking how we approach holiday challenges. Some of these include:
Redefine family traditions if needed
Learn to say NO – in other words…you can’t do it all
Use patience, kindness and understanding when communicating with family members
Plan ahead for the health and well-being of your loved one
Ask for help!
Practice the art of simplicity
As professionals one of our most valuable role during the holidays is to be understanding and empathetic of their stress. At the same time, encourage them to enjoy the moments with their loved ones and practice some of the suggestions shared above. Above all, if you can be a calm in the storm, that may be the best gift that family members need.
It’s true that we can’t give something away that we don’t already have. We can’t pour from an empty cup… help your families keep their cups full this season. Sometimes just a warm hug, a shoulder to cry or a well stocked chocolate basket may be enough to show them that they are appreciated.
Honor your families, love on your caregivers and help to keep their cups full. Because to that one person, you may be the world.
Be honest. The last time you sat in traffic, were you thankful for the fact that you had a car to drive and money for the gasoline to run it? My guess is that wasn’t your first thought. If you are like me, you were wondering how late you will be for your appointment or asking yourself how you got in this mess to start with.. darn it!
Negative attitudes eat at you from the inside. Can we change that? Absolutely we can! Drs. Blaire and Rita Justice reported for the University of Texas Health Science Center, “a growing body of research shows that gratitude is truly amazing in its physical and psychosocial benefits.” Other studies have concluded that the expression of gratitude can have positive effect on our health and our moods. We CAN choose to be grateful!
We can change our attitude by upping our gratitude barometer. Choosing to smile, laugh and show appreciation to others are not complicated. And here’s the best part – when you do that, it actually makes YOU feel better. When you feel better you are happier and even healthier. Studies show that people who practice gratitude sleep better each night, report more satisfaction with their lives, feel more optimistic and more connected to others.
As we move into the season of harried chaos, we should all practice being grateful and see what happens. As caregivers, this season is can be especially stressful. Find a place to enjoy the simplicity of nature, practice deep breathing, slow down to enjoy your loved ones and be thankful for each moment you have with them.
The season of gratitude is upon us and what better time to change our attitude. Simple steps to a life of gratitude will change your life and those around you. Spend some time with an elder – they are some of the most grateful people I know.
The Message is clear. “We need more innovative, person-centered tools to help those who care for our elders, especially those with dementia.”
Our team returned from a whirlwind of fall conventions including the American Health Care Association, Leading Age, Harmony Healthcare International and many state conferences. Discussions among long term care leaders was a consistent theme of needed innovative tools.
While the industry is faced with many challenges, how we care for our elders remains a top priority. Thankfully, for many organizations the transformation to true person-centered care is taking hold. In order for successful integration and sustainable change, leaders must address these key areas:
Person-Centered Care embraces individuality, life experiences, human value and relationships. Does your model of care and training address these components?
Elder Care is Quickly becoming about Dementia Care. Is your organization realistic about how many residents or patients have some level of cognitive impairments?
Engaging care practices and integrating a program are two different models. Programs engage all staff, embraced by leadership and have a much higher sustainability factor than haphazard practices. Programs are articulated as part of the company mission. Do you have some great practices but weak programs?
Tracking competencies and performance is no longer an option. Programs that specifically address and provide innovation tools for improving communications and care processes must be measured. Is your organization prepared to track resident/patient experience, staff experience, family experience and business impact when innovative programs are put in place?
Programs can differentiate your organization from others. Niche messaging to your prospective customers and families can improve reputation as a respected leader, improve employee retention and census. Has your organization defined it’s niche with programs and education tools that set you apart from others?
Looking ahead to 2017 leaders across the spectrum are reassessing their program, practices, and how to best serve their customers, families and staff. Initiatives that incorporate innovation, creativity, provide strong outcomes and measurable tools are desperately needed in today’s fast changing senior care arena.