Tag Archives: Caregiver Training

Careers in Aging – Proactive Approaches to the Looming Crisis

March 3 -7 is Careers in Aging Week and an appropriate time to talk about the importance of this topic.  No longer are the shortages of direct care staff and others in long term care a subject of the future.  The crisis is looming and it is serious.

The number of Americans 65 and older is projected to grow to 98 million by 2060, more than double the number we had in 2016.  According to the Population Reference Bureau, between 2020 – 2030, the number of older adults in America will grow by 18 million as the youngest baby boomers hit 65.

Like me, the baby boomers that are marching forward are asking ourselves, “Who will take care of me?”  While families have and will be forced to take on the caregiving tasks for their loved ones, it simply is not the answer or reality for many Americans.   Boomers and GenXers are working,  families are not geographically close enough to take on the role of primary caregivers, the numbers of widows and widowers are growing and many elderly are childless.

According to Government statisticians, home care is one of the nation’s fastest-growing occupations, with an additional million workers needed by 2026!  That is an increase of 50% from 2014.

Without pouring through any more statistics,  growing careers in aging is no longer an option – it must become a priority that starts with our government leaders and is embraced by stakeholders across the spectrum.  It is not a US-only challenge – it is a worldwide crisis that must be addressed sooner rather than later.

Work in long term care, especially direct care workforce has long been associated with low wages, often inconsistent work schedules, limited company benefits, and poor training.  The economic boom has pulled workers from long term care into retail, restaurants, hospitality and other similar businesses that are paying higher wages.  It’s been a catch-22 but the fact that the shortages are colliding with an unprecedented demand is especially frightening.

Without pouring through any more statistics,  growing careers in aging must be a priority that starts with our government leaders and is embraced by stakeholders across the spectrum.  It is not a US-only challenge – it is a worldwide crisis that must be addressed sooner rather than later.  Unfortunately, advocacy and lobbying take many years, of which we simply do not have time to wait.

What are the solutions?   There are not any easy ones, but perhaps looking at what we can do locally to turn the tide is going to result in positive outcomes.  We see our partner providers taking our Dementia Live® training to nursing schools, high school students and even out into communities who are embracing Age-Friendly and Dementia Friendly initiatives.  Raising awareness of the growing elderly population and their needs is huge.  Intergeneration programs among schools and churches and the elderly are setting an early example with children that respecting and taking care of our older adults is our duty.

Building awareness is a grass-roots effort and home-grown.  It means take creative efforts to work with others that include public entities, community-based organizations, political leaders and the private sector.  It means elevating the professional standards for those who choose careers in aging.   Careers in Aging is a field that is extremely rewarding.  We can do a better job of conveying this to our younger generation, and even an older generation who is looking to keep working and giving back.   What better way is there to give back than to serve others.

I’d like to hear what you are doing to bring awareness and educate others in your community!

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  You may reach out to Pam at pam@ageucate.com.

The Fear of Dementia and How We Must Redirect our Thinking

I had a few “Aha” moments this past weekend that made me realize just how prevalent the fear of dementia is in our society,  and how we must redirect our thinking in order to transform how we look at Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

There are two sides from which this fear is bubbling.  The first is the 10,000 boomers a day who are turning 65, often seeing their parents or other loved ones cognitive decline and living with a halo of terror that this might happen to them.  The other is fear of the unknown by caregivers, families, and society.  By this I mean the fear of how to communicate with some who has dementia, the fear of caring for them properly, fear of their behaviors.

One of my “Aha” moments this weekend was listening to a couple – care partners – both talking about their journey with dementia.  The husband who is living with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) talked about his lifestyle.  He exercised,  was physically active, maintained a healthy weight and diet, had a college degree, maintained strong social connections.  He checked off everything on the list that we are told may stave off dementia.  Yet he was diagnosed in his 60s with Alzheimer’s disease.  Living now 8 years with AD, he spoke to a crowd and with the help of notes and a few small prompts from his wife communicated his heartwarming story and message about still living life and being able to live it with joy.

I’m one of the baby boomers who witnessed two parents with dementia – one from Alzheimer’s Disease and another from Parkinson’s Disease.  My journey certainly did change my life from caregiver to activist.  I suppose there are times when I think about what my future could hold, but in the meantime – I do all I can to take care of myself.  I pay attention to my physical, emotional and spiritual health and all that encompasses those goals.  My mission is to help other caregivers through their journey from fear to transformation.  While it’s not easy, I am living proof that it can be done, and I’ve seen hundreds and thousands of others do the same.  Facing their fear by redirecting their thoughts and actions.

The other fear is one that is even broader, more serious to society’s acceptance of dementia, and requires urgent attention from stakeholders in this arena.  That is the fear of the unknown.  My other “Aha” moment this past weekend was in talking to the Senior Adult director at my church.  She told me how her well-meaning volunteers visit members of the church in care facilities and those who are home-centered.  They often become frustrated because they don’t know what to say or how to talk with someone who has cognitive decline.  Sadly, because they don’t have the tools to overcome their fear they chose to serve in another ministry.

Family and professional caregivers, employers, those who serve in retail, banking, airports, financial and insurance services, customer service industries need dementia awareness training and even more so, need to be empowered with tools to better understand, communicate and compassionately guide and care for the explosive growth of persons living with dementia.

Fear comes from not knowing what to expect and not feeling you have any control over what’s about to happen.  Awareness, education, and training can overcome fear.

I’m thankful for being a part of this movement to help others transform thoughts, feelings, and actions about and for those living with dementia.  By doing so, my concerns about my future with or without dementia are thwarted by the fact that I am confident that the future will continue to improve for those living dementia, their care partners,  families, and most importantly society’s stigma about dementia will be transformed.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  Pam is the creator of the internationally acclaimed Dementia Live® Simulation Education and Training Program.  

www.AGEucate.com

Gearing Up to Help How Caregivers Think, Feel, Act

What’s it really like to live with dementia?  To cope with the anxiety, embarrassment, feelings of loss and hopeless that can so often accompany the progression of dementia.  There are far too many caregivers today who are struggling with truly understanding the depths of living with cognitive decline and sensory changes.  Instead caregivers try to cope with what’s on the surface.  Transformation takes place when caregivers change how they think, feel and act!

What impactful changes could be made if caregivers were able to move into their world… for just a short time and really experience the feelings that they do – the frustrations of doing simple every tasks.  How might that change our level of empathy?  How might that  empower us to do a better job of communicating?  What if we were transformed to be able to care for someone in a whole new way?

I don’t often use our blog platform to share all the exciting things that we have going on at AGE-u-cate Training Institute, but I have to share that we are gearing up to help  thousands more caregivers in 2018.  Our transformational Dementia Live® experience changes how caregivers feel about dementia, because they experience it for themselves.  It changes how caregivers think about the person they are caring for, because they are much more empathetic and understanding of their day to day challenges.  And finally, it changes caregivers actions,  because they they leave this experience being empowered with tools to make changes immediately in how they communicate and care for others.

Dementia Live’s explosive worldwide growth bears witness to the urgent need to equip professional and family caregivers with tools to improve care.   Because this is such a hands-on approach to education and training,  participants retain the knowledge they’ve gained.   For care providers, and organizations who serve older adults and caregivers Dementia Live is hands-down one of the most effective, feasible and affordable training programs available today and a powerful foundational training program for other person-centered care programs and practices.

We’re gearing up to help more caregivers in 2018 with transformational education and training… and hope you will join us in our mission!

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and the creator of the Dementia Live® simulation experience and training program.  

 

www.AGEucate.com

The Art of Being an Effective Dementia Care Detective

Responding to challenging behavior for people living with dementia is often the greatest triggers of stress,  helplessness and frustration for professional and family caregivers.  Learning to be an effective dementia care detective incorporates knowledge of behavioral expression and having effective tools to respond, reassure and comfort.

Understanding and empathy are invaluable learning components for any caregiver or person working with people living with dementia.  When we step into their world, even for a brief time and experience what they might go through 24/7,  we gain a unique but powerful inside-out perspective of their world.

When we experience their frustration, helplessness, loss of control, feelings of inadequacy and lack of self confidence, our perspective of their world changes dramatically.  This “Wow, I had not idea” moment is powerful and unforgettable.

Taking this to new heights of learning requires more than the “Wow” moment.  Applying what we learn to understanding root causes of behavioral expression is critical.  All behavioral expression is a form of communication that expresses an unmet need.  If a person living with dementia has been robbed of language and logic, for instance, the caregiver must fine tune his or her dementia detective skills to determine what the needs are of their care partner.

Because a person living with dementia has slower brain processing speed, feeling rushed or overwhelmed by overstimulation or a caregiver’s lack of patience can often cause outbursts.  Simple communication tools might be too slow down our speech, use reassuring touch and communicate just one thought at a time can have an enormous effect on that person’s sense of coping and confidence.

Dementia care detective work requires patience and persistence to unlock the underlying cause of behaviors.   Aggression can be caused by disrupted sleep patterns often experienced by those living with dementia.  If this is the case, then care partners might try skilled touch, music or other therapies to help that person fall asleep and stay asleep.  Although change is difficult for persons with dementia, making small alterations in the environment (change lighting or away from distractions) can be effective.

Detective work requires trial and error.  Making notes of when behaviors occur and detecting patterns can be very effective.  At the same time, caregivers who practice patience,  stress reduction techniques for themselves will help their care partners, especially in times of challenging behavioral expression.

Gaining a foundation of experiencing their world is one of the most powerful and effective tools in building person centered care practices.  The transformative Dementia Live™Training and Education program is just that.  Effective, feasible and incredibly flexible, this program is available for elder care providers, hospitals, agencies and others to use with staff, families and as community outreach.  The AGE-u-cate® team has taken sensitivity awareness training to a new level with the Dementia Live program.  We encourage you to visit us at www.AGEucate.com for more information on how to bring Dementia Live™ or Compassionate Touch® to your organization.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those that care for them.   She and her team are the creators of the Dementia Live™ and Compassionate Touch ®training programs, empowering caregivers worldwide.