- Post-Hospital Syndrome: The Return to the Community After Hospitalization
December 18 2013 by Dave Young
Earlier this year, Harlan Krumholz, MD, a cardiologist at the Yale New-Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, published a provocative article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled "Post-Hospital Syndrome: An Acquired, Transient Condition of Generalized Risk". In the article, Dr. Krumholz reminds us that recently hospitalized patients are not only recovering from the illness or condition that prompted the hospitalization but are also experiencing a period of generalized risk for a range of adverse health events. He calls this an acquired "syndrome" that involves a temporary period of extreme vulnerability for other health problems.
Naturally, the post-hospital syndrome will vary from patient to patient based on a host of factors. However, care providers – notably those providing Home and Community-Based Services – should be on the lookout for changes in behavior that could include: heightened stress, sleep disturbance, medication changes, cognitive changes and deconditioning that can alter the ability to perform daily living activities. These changes often occur regardless of the original cause for hospitalization; it is a syndrome that can apply to all recent discharges in consumers– both young and old.
- Winter Safety Checklist
December 16 2013 by Michelle Spadafora
Winter can bring many challenges to families, especially when caring for or supporting an elder or individual with disabilities. There are emotional risks to consumers—like increased isolation from friends and community activities—and there are physical risks, like falls. Here are some things caregivers and care teams should consider this winter.
- The Benefits of Connecting Consumers with Home Improvement Resources
December 10 2013 by Fatima Andrade-Hanoian
One consumer I support in Massachusetts has Alzheimer's disease and uses a wheelchair. When I went on home visits with her nurse, I noticed the consumer needed two people to help her out of the house, supporting her down the entrance steps and into a car. I also noticed the bathroom was very small, making it difficult to use a wheelchair. An accident was inevitable, so I spoke to the family about my concerns. They knew the need for a ramp and a larger bathroom would only become more necessary as time progressed, but they could not afford the home improvements. As a member of a care team, it is valuable to observe potential risks in the home, familiarize yourself with the resources available, and connect caregivers and consumers with services that can make their home as safe and accessible as possible.
- Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder During the Holidays
December 09 2013 by Erika Smith
I have so many wonderful holiday memories of my mother. She loved to buy fresh Christmas trees for us to decorate together, although I still remember with a special fondness the artificial white tree with the kaleidoscope lights. My father and siblings knew she took great pleasure in finding just the right gift for each one of us. I will always love my Lite Brite and Ms. Piggy Muppet. My brothers loved their Hot Wheels and Rock Em Sock Em Robots. She passed on the joy of baking with an Easy Bake Oven. We look forward to each holiday season because one of her favorite activities was baking home-made holiday cookies, cakes, pies, fudge and the fluffiest yeast rolls that would melt in your mouth.
But now my holiday planning needs to include how my sister and I will coordinate our schedules to make sure that we continue to meet our mother's fall and winter needs. My mom, like many consumers, experiences Seasonal Effective Disorder (SAD), and we need to help her cope through this season and find new ways to participate in the holidays.
- Photographs of My Grandfather
December 06 2013 by Saran Craig
Life is a rolling reel. It has past, present and future. Life ebbs and flows in constant motion. Our memory is a series of photographs, moments frozen in time for us to remember, recall, relive. Some life photographs sneak up on us and resurface even when we don't want them to, and we put those back in the album--which is our memory--rather than holding them and reliving them. Some photographs from our life are beautiful, and we call on them when we want to remember. Our memory organizes our series of still shots of life into a nice, neat album with chronological order.
Life with dementia is a life full of moments, still photographs, no continuity or running reel. Life becomes one still shot at a time, jumbled in a box rather than an organized album. We wake in the morning not knowing what snapshot in time we will be looking at. The photographs can switch quickly from one moment to the next. Some are beautiful, some are scary, some we wish we could bury and never look at again. These are a couple of my photographs from my grandfather's battle with dementia.
- Understanding the Behavioral Effects of Alzheimer's Disease
November 11 2013 by Saran Craig
November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month. Alzheimer's Disease is not a "mental illness." It is a physical disease process that causes irreversible deterioration in the brain. All parts of the human brain, with the exception of the hearing center, can be affected throughout the disease process. For people caring for individuals with Alzheimer's Disease, it is important to know what changes will take place so you can understand them better...
- Nutritional Tips for Consumers and Caregivers During the Holidays
November 07 2013 by Kathy Swiderski
The holiday season is upon on us, and for many people that means celebrations with friends and family and a lot of delicious foods. Many consumers, and even caregivers, have diet restrictions, which can make the holidays a difficult time to stay on track. Around-the-clock caregivers and their care teams have the ability to collaborate with consumers on a realistic plan around healthy eating. As a nurse for 30 years, I've seen strategies that allow people to still enjoy the holidays while maintaining good nutrition.
- Educating Consumers About Their Medications
November 05 2013 by Tiffany Ward
Jeff knows about his medication. He can tell you what it is for and when he should take it. On a home visit, I noticed this consumer was engaged with his medication list and interested in learning. It prompted me and the rest of the care team to find ways to educate him even more about his health and medication management. Every consumer has a right to understand their medications, and there are great benefits from doing so.
- Elders and Substance Abuse
October 08 2013 by Diana Holmes and Robbin Volkart
As the population ages, there are increased concerns about substance abuse. People are living longer, and many rely on daily medication to maintain their health. These prescription medications can often be addictive and have significant interactions when mixed with even modest amounts of alcohol. It is important to know the warning signs of substance abuse in consumers; around-the-clock caregivers and supportive care teams often have the opportunity to recognize these signs early in the home...
- Consumers Have Spoken
October 08 2013 by Peter Bisbecos
People have been driving the evolution of social services for decades. Community-based services are the leading edge today because of successful decades-long demand by those who received services...
- Protecting Your Hearing Health
October 07 2013 by Elizabeth Azevedo-Flowers
In our busy lives, there are many things we try to do be proactive about our health and well-being: we take vitamins, try to eat healthy, and do our best to be active. But I've noticed that we often forget about our hearing health. I never gave it much thought until my dad started showing signs of poor hearing in his 60s. He kept the volume on his TV and favorite country radio station loud. As his hearing loss progressed, he began asking us to repeat things. He believed his hearing loss was the result of his days building boats in the Quincy shipyard. Because of his experience, I decided to look into preventative measures to protect my own hearing as I age...
- An Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder
October 03 2013 by Shannon Restaino
Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are basic terms for a range of complex disorders of neural development. Autism is characterized by difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication, impaired social interaction, and by repetitive or restricted behavior. Each person diagnosed with Autism is unique, with different strengths and challenges...
- Flu Risks and Prevention
September 30 2013 by Mary Davies
Most people can handle the effects of influenza (flu), but there are certain high-risk populations that might suffer complications: young children, elders, and anyone with health concerns that could worsen from the flu. Many consumers live in multigenerational homes, which can pose increased risks. On a few recent home visits, I've noticed that young children in the homes have started to catch colds now that they are back in school; they are exposed to other children, and they tend to bring those germs home. Caregivers in multigenerational homes now face the challenge of keeping both high-risk populations healthy and reducing the risk for infection, while also being mindful of their own health and well-being in the process....
- Emergency Preparedness for People with Mobility Challenges
September 09 2013 by Christine Kristanich
In our work with people with disabilities, we are committed to a philosophy of "People-First" – putting the person as the center of our supports without focusing on his or her disability. However, there is one situation where someone's disability needs to be a primary consideration: Emergency Preparedness...
- The Importance of Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities
September 03 2013 by Tracy Carroll
When we think about caregiving, we often first focus on the essentials: making sure that the consumer is healthy, eating well, getting enough sleep, and taking medications properly. But as we know, a full life is made up of more than just these basics. Recreation and socialization add meaning and richness to everyone's life. Effective, quality caregiving means going beyond this list and finding fun opportunities for your loved one to engage in. For individuals with physical and developmental disabilities (as well as people with brain injuries), it is especially important to find safe, comfortable and fun activities in the community...
- Aromatherapy as a Hospice Treatment
August 19 2013 by Andrea Cooperstein
Aromatherapy is often an overlooked treatment when caring for someone with a life-limiting illness, but it can be a powerful tool to bring peace and comfort to both the consumer and caregiver. In my experience, I have seen the emotional and physical benefits of integrating alternative therapies, like aromatherapy, with traditional medical treatments into the hospice care plan...
- Caring Like Family
August 06 2013 by Diana Holmes
Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparents' Day—I am struck by all the formal ways we recognize family throughout the year. For people who take on the full-time responsibility of caring for someone, every day becomes an opportunity to celebrate family—and an example of what it means to be a family and care like one, too....
- Creative Approaches to Sundowning
August 04 2013 by Michelle Spadafora
Every evening at 4 p.m., a consumer goes into her room, rummages through her belongings, and starts packing her bags. She gets ready to travel by bus with her husband. But her husband passed away over 20 years ago, and she now lives with her daughter—a caregiver who was confused and a little frightened by her mom's behavior...
- Double Jeopardy Families
July 29 2013 by Sue Gregg
Double Jeopardy is a term used to describe families that are comprised of elderly caregiver parents providing supports to their aging children with intellectual/developmental disabilities (ID/DD). What creates the "double jeopardy" besides the effects of aging and disability status of the parent and adult child?...
- The Power of Your Intuition
July 23 2013 by Elizabeth Azevedo-Flowers
As professionals in the Human Service field, we are equipped with tools to promote good health, well-being and positive decision-making in the caregivers and consumers we serve. We know how to review notes and recognize patterns, and how to be keen observers and listeners...
- Staying Healthy & Hydrated During the Summer
July 09 2013 by Linda Morreale-Steele
Staying healthy, hydrated and cool during the hot summer months can be especially important for elders and people with disabilities. Caregivers, too, should recognize if they are experiencing issues due to excessive sun exposure or lack of hydration......
- Connecting With Your Spirituality During Tough Times
June 24 2013 by Erika Smith
Recently, I read an article by a woman who had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in the mid-1980s. She was angry with God, and found herself asking, "Why me?" Why did she have to be inflicted with this disease? She decided to use this diagnosis as an opportunity to take control over an area of her life...
- Managing Fall Risks: Knowing the Signs & Tips for Prevention
June 18 2013 by Mary Davies
When evaluating the potential for falls on a home visit, professionals ask themselves a few important questions that shape the consumer's care plan. What are the biological and behavioral risks? What environmental factors might lead to falls? Has the individual fallen in the past? If this person were to fall, how severe might the injury be?...
- Elder Abuse Awareness
June 14 2013 by Mary Frugoli
How sad that the issue of elder abuse is so widespread that we now have a day and an entire year dedicated to prevention. While the majority of our elders live as part of a loving family, hundreds of thousands of elders are abused each year...
- 3 Traits of Non-family Caregivers Who Care Like Family
May 29 2013 by Christine Kristanich
Elders and individuals with disabilities who require daily assistance with personal care may need extra support to live and thrive in their communities. One of the biggest challenges in providing supports to elders and people with disabilities is identifying individuals...
- The Value Of Relationships
May 01 2013 by Peter Bisbecos
Longstanding relationships with family and friends enrich our lives. But, when thinking about services for people with disabilities and elders, we often look past this simple truth in search of more complex solutions...
- When The Roles Are Reversed: Caring For Your Parents
May 01 2013 by Brian McKaig
I was settling in for a lazy Saturday. The kids had slept in late. Breakfast had been a breeze. The snow was finally melted, and the kids were excited to go into the backyard to play. I had a new mug from Starbucks that I was eyeing ...
- The Process And Anticipated Release Of The DSM-5
April 30 2013 by Diana Holmes, LICSW
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has been used as a guide by professionals in the mental health profession in understanding disorders. The manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA)...
- Spring Cleaning: An Opportunity To Make Your Home Safer For You And Your Loved One
April 04 2013 by Julie Ely
Every year, we hear the expression, "It's time for spring cleaning!" This tradition is not only a chance to tidy up our homes, but also an opportunity for caregivers to create a safer environment for an elder or person with disabilities....
- Caring For A Loved One With Social Skills Challenges
April 02 2013 by Melissa Menard, LCSW & Shannon Bettencourt, BSW/M.ED/BCBA (eligible)
Individuals with developmental disabilities often lack appropriate social skills, making it difficult to form friendships. They also may get anxious when they have to go to the doctor's office or transition to a new environment. ...
- Caregiving - A Chance To Celebrate Life
March 28 2013 by Alexis Silver
For those of us working with elders and persons with disabilities who reside at home with loved ones, there is a tremendous opportunity to work together and celebrate the lives of consumers. More importantly, caregivers have an opportunity ...
- The Importance of Taking Care of Oneself as a Caregiver
March 10 2013 by Mary Frugoli
Caregiving can be described in a multitude of fashions: rewarding, gratifying, loving; as well as exhausting, overwhelming and lonely. It is important for caregivers to remember that no matter how much they love and are devoted to that person they ...
- Structured Family Caregiving In The Midwest
March 07 2013 by Sue Gregg
Community based services like Structured Family Caregiving become available to consumers when the state in which they reside opts to include those services in a Medicaid waiver. A waiver is a mechanism that enables a state ...
- Supporting Families In End Of Life Conversations
March 01 2013 by Brian McKaig
I've had the conversation more times than I can count, and many more times than I have cared to. It's the conversation that is more taboo than religion, more divisive than politics: it's the discussion with an individual and their family...
- Seasonal Affective Disorder: Sign And Solutions
February 20 2013 by Mary Frugoli
During the winter do you sleep later? Do you lose interest in things your usually enjoy? Feel a little sluggish? If you are a caregiver, have you noticed these things in someone you are caring for? If either of you feel a touch of the 'winter blues'...
- A Caregiver Success Story - Lisa & Her Father
February 13 2013 by Nitza Diaz
I am a human service professional. I believe most of my peers in this field would agree that from time to time we encounter individuals who turn out to be an ongoing source of energy encouragement. When the challenges of the human services and nursing...
- Understanding Advance Directives
February 04 2013 by Shannon Bettencourt, BSW/M.ED/BCBA (eligible) & Diana Holmes, LICSW
In the field of long-term services and supports, we have opportunities to interact with and learn from other professionals. Recently we had an opportunity to learn about health care proxies, living wills and powers of attorney. We thought the information...
- Health Benefits of Being Grateful
February 04 2013 by Rene Snook, RN
Despite challenging and difficult situations surrounding caregivers and consumers participating in Structured Family Caregiving, some of them seem to always appear joyful. On the surface it would appear that they would not have many reasons for this joy. Individuals needing ...
- Make The Most of a Doctor’s Appointment as a Caregiver
January 23 2013 by Rita McDonough
A full time caregiver will most likely accompany the person for whom they care on all doctors’ visits. These tips are the same ones that apply when someone sees their own physician, and they’re extremely helpful when there are number ...
- Caregivers Need Support, Too – Tips for Friends and Family of Caregivers
January 17 2013 by Brian McKaig
My Aunt Rita cared for her son who had multiple health needs. She kept him home instead of having him live in a group home. I remember heading down West Shore Road for the cursory visit – I surely didn’t ...
- How Adult Day Health Centers & Family Caregivers Work Together
January 15 2013 by Diana Holmes, LICSW & Shannon Bettencourt, BSW/M.ED/BCBA (eligible)
Adult Day Health (ADH) Centers provide a wide range of day services for disabled individuals and the elderly. There are many titles that describe Adult Day Health including: Adult Day Care Center, Adult Day Services, Adult Day Residential ...
- The Importance of Disease Management Expertise in Supporting Caregivers for HIV Survivors
January 08 2013 by Thomas O’Shaughnessey
Caregiver Homes provides a unique form of long term care that we call Structured Family Caregiving (SFC). Caregiver Homes created SFC as an alternative not only to nursing facility placement but also as an additional option alongside other forms of ...