Tag Archives: AGE-u-cate Training Institute

What is our Score on Practicing Family-Centered Care?

269483We’re all in this together… the tsunami is here and every one of us serving older adults in some capacity should be getting on the band wagon and FAST.   Person and patient centered care must be focused on supporting and educating families.  When family-centered care is embraced it becomes an approach to health care decision making that involves health care professionals and family members.

Dignity and respect are the core value of family-centered care.  Listening to and honoring a patient’s and families values, perspectives and choices bridges communications between healthcare professionals and understanding the wishes of families.  The delivery of quality care under a family-centered model means understanding and honoring the family’s beliefs, knowledge and cultural backgrounds.

The challenge of providing family-centered, patient-centered care in today’s health care system is complex,  especially for older adults  who are living with dementia or chronic illness.   The time constraints to practice family-centered care when health professionals are stretched for time is a very real problem.

Understanding a family’s knowledge of a loved one’s physical and emotional needs are complex, especially if they do not live with them.  At the same time, far too many older adults are entering hospital systems with no family members to advocate for their care.  If their is cognitive impairment it becomes an even greater challenge to treat that patient.

Family-centered care must start with reaching out to families with education and awareness.  Collaboration with private and public sectors, forming community partnerships, community organizations and faith communities – must be a priority as we face the aging tsunami.

The far majority of caregivers are family members, and that is going to increase drastically as more families cannot afford to pay for private care and staff shortages increase.  New and innovative ways to reach families, educate them early and provide support avenues is absolutely essential to improving care for older adults.

Pam Brandon is President and Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  She is a passionate advocate for educating families and those that provide care for older adults.

For more information visit the Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care www.ipfcc.org

www.AGEucate.com

 

The “Helper’s High”… Why Volunteering is Good for Your Health

512073Research has shown that volunteering leads to better health and that older volunteers are the most likely to receive physical and mental health benefits from their volunteer activities.  Volunteering often leads to what is referred to as a “helper’s high”.

This high leads to increased trust in others as well as increased social participation. Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.

Aging changes social networks, so older volunteers especially benefit from the physical and social activity and gaining a sense of purpose.  Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health and that older volunteers are the most likely to receive physical and mental health bene ts from their volunteer activities.

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ―Winston S. Churchill

Having just returned from the N4A conference (National Association of Area Agencies on Aging),  I learned that AAA’s rely on more than 90,000 volunteers to meet community needs.  Their “Doing Good is Good for You: Volunteer!” program helps recruit new volunteers and educate older adults about the health benefits of volunteering.

The AAA Stepping Up program offers webinars and assignments for volunteers to serve in their mission of helping older adults and people with disabilities live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible.

The boomers have many opportunities to volunteer, and this is one of many organizations that will benefit, especially as the needs for serving this population and their caregivers rises drastically in the future.  Numerous studies show that volunteering just two hours per week improves cognitive, emotional and physical health.

The future of aging services in this country will rely heavily on the knowledge, talent and care hearts that Boomers and future generations have to offer.  Beyond the health and wellness benefits, volunteering will benefit our communities at all levels from social services, faith based communities and non-profit providers across the spectrum who are partnering together to meet the challenges of our aging world.

For more information on volunteering with an Area Agency on Aging, visit www.areagencyonaging.org/…/volunteer-opportunities

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, whose mission is to provide transformative change through innovative aging and dementia education  and training.

www.AGEucate.com

What’s all the Talk about Mindfulness for Caregivers?

Call it awareness, attention, focus, presence, or vigilance. It’s proving to be a powerful and effective practice in coping with stress.  Caregiving can easily top the charts on stress, especially for caregivers of elders with chronic illness and dementia.  Mindfulness for caregivers means learning to live in the moment, accept the reality of a situation, and filter out distractions.

Mindfulness is not necessarily about a constant state of meditation, or practicing yoga, although these are both proven tools in helping one to better cope with life’s challenges.

We can practice mindfulness by sharpening our focus.  In our Compassionate Touch® training, we call this centering.  For a caregiver it might be deep breathing or focused meditation before entering the room when an older adult is agitated, confused or combative.  Learning to leave your other worries at the door will help to focus on how you can help the person you are caring for.  You have, for that moment, stepped into their world.  By being engrossed in that person and the present situation, there is a higher probability you will have a heightened sense of empathy and understanding, thus be able to tap into tools that will improve care.

By practicing mindfulness in caregiving, the benefits go far beyond improving care.  The stress reduction benefits the caregiver as much or more than the care receiver.  When this happens, everyone wins! Like anything else, mindfulness must be practiced.  Nothing becomes second nature until it is put into regular use.  If deep breathing exercises  works, then practice this throughout the day.  Journal the difference in how you are able to handle situations.  If brief moments of meditation work, try these… but do it every day and many times a day.

Centering ourselves through mindfulness allows us to accept that we are most often not in control, which is often a huge challenge for care partners.  We want so much to make our loved ones happy and healthy again, but this is sometimes not possible – certainly not all the time.  In a world that is always on full speed, with soaring expectations, sometimes the most valuable gift we can give our loved one is this:

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  Passionate about creating transformative change for older adults and those that care for them,  Pam is honored to work in the field of caregiver education and training and lead the AGE-u-cate team who are changing lives with innovative programs for family and professional caregivers. 

www.AGEucate.com

Caregiver Martyr Syndrome – What to Look For and How to Help

Caregivers of older adults are some of the most selfless, committed people on the planet.   Simply put, not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver.  The problem lies in the fact that some caregivers believe they are the only ones who can care properly for their family member.  This is often referred to as Caregiver Martyr Syndrome.

martyr, 3D rendering, traffic signI’ve talked about this martyr syndrome many times over the years when speaking to family caregivers.  Often I get an inquisitive look – like “Wow” she just called me a Martyr.  When I follow-up my question with assuring them that I got an A+ in the school of caregiver martyrdom,  I would hear and feel  sighs of relief, as if I had just given them permission to be honest with themselves.

Caregiver martyrs are certain that they are the ONLY ones who can properly care for their loved one.  Because they are such caring and selfless souls, they become intertwined in the needs and desires of their loved one, so much so that it could easily be confused with co-dependence.  So, if a caregiver believes “I am the only one that can properly care for mom”, then guess what happens?

  • Other family members and friends become “inadequate” to care for your loved one.  This spells resentment and stirs up anger among the caring circle.
  • Caregiver martyrs take on more and more responsibility, often to the detriment of their own needs or those of their family.
  • As this snowball continues, caregivers isolate themselves (and their loved one ) from many people who are willing (and able) to help in the care of their loved one.

Martyrs need to step back and reflect – then get out a paper and pen, listing all of the things they do for their loved one AND all of their other life responsibilities.  When I ask caregivers to do this, they are often shocked to see all they have taken on.  Then the big question:

Is it really possible for anyone to take on this much responsibility and do it well?  The answer is clearly NO.   So the next step is to allow others to help by taking on some of these tasks, whether they are things that must be done every day, every week or every month.  Go back to your caring circle and allow each of them the blessing of choosing something that will lighten your load.

Being open to accept help, and realizing that you are not the only person on the planet who can provide good care for your loved one may be the greatest gift you can give to yourself, your family members, friends, and most of all your care receiver.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  Caring for her own parents transformed her life purpose to help others who are caring for older adults.  Creator of the Dementia Live™️ Experience, this program is helping thousands of caregivers in the US and abroad to better understand people living with dementia.  

www.AGEucate.com