Tag Archives: leadership

Boomers Optimistic about Their Future – Until They Need Care

A survey form the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today concluded that most Boomers are optimistic about their future.  That is until you ask them about needing help as they age.  When it comes to the issues surrounding who will provide caregiving when they no longer are able, optimism turns to fear.

The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a New York-based nonprofit that supports the home care industry, has created a new campaign to address and solve the chronic shortage of health care workers in the United States.
The “60 Caregiver Issues” campaign points out the country needs five million caregivers in the next seven years in order to keep pace with the growing demand from a rapidly aging society. The first issue briefing, The Future of Long-Term Care, lists eight signs the shortage in paid caregivers is getting worse. Those signs are:

  1. The population of older adults in the U.S. continues to rapidly age, igniting demand for long-term services and supports.
  2. A sizable growth in elders and people with disabilities means a growing demand for paid caregivers: home health aides, nursing assistants and personal care aides.
  3. The primary labor pool for direct care workers isn’t keeping pace with national trends, raising concerns about the broad appeal of this occupation.
  4. Direct care workers are leaving the occupation in droves.
  5. The workforce shortage in paid caregivers might be affecting areas of the country differently.
  6. Policymakers, long-term care providers and the general public are hampered by the lack of available data and research on the direct care workforce.
  7. Home care providers and other long-term care entities cite the workforce shortage as a top concern for delivering quality care.
  8. The shortage in workers extends beyond long-term care—and is garnering public attention.

Now let’s look at the state of family caregivers.  A report by the Public Policy Institute (2013) researched the statistics for family caregivers, who provide the majority of long-term services and supports (LTSS).

The Caregiver Support Ratio is defined as the number of potential family caregivers (mostly adult children) aged 45 – 64 for each person aged 80 and older – those most likely to need LTSS.  The caregiver support ratio is used to estimate the availability of family caregivers during the next few decades.

In 2010, the caregiver support ratio was more than 7 potential caregivers for every person in the high-risk years of 80-plus.

In 2030, the ratio is projected to decline sharply to 4 to 1;  and is expected to further fall to less than 3 to 1 in 2050.

Steep rising demand as the population rapidly ages, combined with professional caregiver shortages and shrinking families requires more than policy action.  Every stakeholder (and that takes in to account ALL of us) must take it upon themselves to be better educated on aging issues, plan for their future and make healthy aging a priority.   Just as healthcare has created the need for us to be our own advocates for our health,  we must certainly take this same position with decisions that we make as we age and may eventually need care.

http://www.nahc.org/NAHCReport/nr170213_1/

www.AGEucate.com

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and passionate advocate for older adults and those that care for them.  

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.  

“The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be” – Yogi Berra was Right!

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra was an American professional baseball catcher, manager, and coach who played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball.  One of his famous quotes “The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be” couldn’t be more appropriate as we look at the paradigm shifts taking place in our aging world.

Let’s ponder these facts:

  • By 2050, the number of people over 65 will more than double. Cities, communities, companies–and our entire culture–have some adjusting to do.
  • According the World Health Organization, the world will be short of 12.9 million health-care workers by 2035; today, that figure stands at 7.2 million. A 2013 WHO report  warns that the findings – if not addressed now – will have serious implications for the health of billions of people across all regions of the world.
  • Increases in the number of older Americans will have a profound impact on the age structure of the U.S. population. Back in 1970, children made up about one-third of the U.S. population, and only one-tenth were ages 65 and older. Today, the proportion who are children has dropped to about one-fourth, while the share who are elderly has risen to 13 percent.
No doubt we have enormous challenges,  but at the same time I believe an equal or even great number of opportunities.  So what is our call to action as change agents?
Lawmakers are hearing and responding from the vast organizations across the US and world who are committed to bettering policies across the aging spectrum.  These voices are changing policies and actions.   We are witnessing age friendly/dementia friendly movements sweeping the US and certainly across the globe.
Our young people have the greatest opportunity in history to move into healthcare jobs.  We’re seeing more programs implemented in high schools that direct students to careers in allied health and professional disciplines.

Collaboration among and between private and public sectors who serve aging adults and their caregivers is taking off.  We are all realizing that creating partnerships benefits all stake holders.

I think the legacy of this time period is not just about the paradigm shift, but that we have before us the greatest opportunity to instill in people the need to care for our elders and each other as we face these enormous societal challenges.   We can humanize the way we care for others across generations.  This is exciting and perhaps the greatest gift we can give to future generations.

The future certainly ain’t what it used to be…it can be better than ever!

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  A passionate advocate for our elders and those that care for them, her company’s mission is grounded in creating transformative change by providing innovative training and education.

How Five Minutes a Day Can Transform Care for Older Adults

Time is precious.  Staff is in short supply.  Family caregivers are stretched to the limit.  Just taking care of the basic needs  is hard enough, so five minutes a day seems – IMPOSSIBLE!

Humanizing care is the core of the person-centered philosophy initiative sweeping this country.  Dignity, respect and understanding the needs of any aging person is a culture change that I believe with enough stakeholders will transform care from the medical model that has driven our health care system for far too long.

If holistic care is the core of this belief, then education and tools for those who care for our older adults is paramount.  Tools that are feasible, effective, and will be sustained within the organization.  So, how can five minutes a day change someone’s dignity or sense of respect?

Engaging and communication are absolutely  essential elements that must be integrated into our staff training and family education plans.    These tools are incredibly simple to use, yet often overlooked because we are concentrating on the box checking (aka meeting regulations and requirements).  While charting is certainly important, let’s not overlook the essential elements of engagement and communication.

Here are 10 examples that can transform a person’s dignity, self-respect and value in five minutes a day:

  1. Remove words of endearment (honey, sweetie) and refer to them as they would like to be: Mrs., Mr. Sarah, Fred.  This takes one minute to ask another staff member, family or even the patient!
  2. When speaking, look at the individual in the eyes, talk clearly and slow down!  You don’t have to shout (no one likes being yelled at!).  This small gesture tells another person you are engaging with them because you want to engage.
  3. Use gentle touch on the hands, shoulders, arms or face to develop trust and show the person you genuinely care.  Touch will induce chemical changes in the brain that induce relaxation, reduce stress and many other benefits.
  4. Ask a person something about them.  It may be about their family, or what they did in their career, or a hobby.  Learn one new thing about them every day.
  5. Compliment and smile!  “You have a lovely blouse on today, Mrs. Smith.  I love the spring colors”.  “Mr. Jones, I appreciate your smile – it really lights up my day!”
  6. Practice mindfulness – being centered and in the moment when you are with your care partner.  When one is distracted or stressed, it shows!  Deep breathing or meditation can and should become a part of every caregiver’s daily de-stress routine.
  7. Pay attention to your body language and expression.  Clenched teeth, rolling eyes, closed arms all tell another person you don’t want to be where you are.
  8. Learn what music your care partner enjoys and throughout the day, play this music to set the tone for whatever the circumstances.
  9. Take a 5 minute walk outside and enjoy nature – it calms the soul, reduces anxiety for both care partners, not to mention the healthy shot of Vitamin D!
  10. Accept the moment and that no matter what positive things you do as a caregiver may not always be helpful that day.  Tomorrow, however is a NEW day!

Pam Brandon is  President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training® Institute and a passionate advocate for changing how we care for older adults.

www.AGEucate.com