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Monday, December 22, 2014

Caregivers - Never Minimize Your Impact On Peoples Lives

Little Things Mean A Lot

Because we work with seniors or others who may be nearing the end of their life, we will experience loss. I have written about this before, but felt the need to travel this road again because of events in recent days.

Monday as I was leaving the senior community, three of the kitchen employees passed me and mentioned that a resident we all felt very dear to us was in hospice care and not expected to make it through the night. I was on my way to my other client but knew I needed to stop in and see her before I left as tomorrow would be to late. As I entered her apartment I was greeted by her family, all there to be with her at the end.

They did not know me, but all expressed their gratitude that I stopped in to see mom. Although she could not talk, she smiled as I entered the room. I took her hand and told her how much I cared for her and would never forget the moments we shared. I knew she would be gone by morning, but held back the tears. I let her know although she would be missed greatly, it was OK to go. She smiled and nodded.

When I came in Tuesday sure enough she had passed. I was so happy that I took the time, however brief, to say goodbye yesterday for as I feared today would have been to late.

When a loved one is dying the family goes through a wide range of emotions. We as caregivers and friends can do much to relieve some of the stress even for a moment by stopping by to share a hug, a story or just a smile. Don't be afraid of the dying or their families, we all have or will be there ourselves one day.

Take Care,
Ruth Anne

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Independent Caregivers: Beef Up Your Resume'

If you have been working as an independent caregiver for a while you no doubt have a lot of experience behind you.

However you may want to think about getting some certifications to help you compete in this ever growing market. You may not have the time to take classes at a university because of your need to continue working. If this is the case there are other resources for you to work with to get the education you need and the certifications that will not only help you in your profession but also make your resume more appealing to prospective employers.

If you are working with the ever growing population of Alzheimer's and dementia patients please check out the Alzheimer's Association website. Not only is there a wealth of information for you to draw from, but you can also take a course on their website dealing with Alzheimer's care and you will then be tested on your knowledge. Once you pass the course you will be able to print a certificate that you can add to your resume'. The course includes excellent material complied by experts in the field and since the course is online you can take and complete it in your own time. 

 I will add more resources in the days to come.

Please share your resources with the rest if us. We all learn from each other. As I always say we are on this care giving road together, let's all help each other. Not only will we benefit but more importantly our clients benefit and that makes it worth all the effort.

Take care....

Ruth Anne

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Simply Must Share This Tip

"...when it worked. It was like I had just won a million dollars."

I want to pass along a tip to all of you who are caring for dementia / Alz clients. If you are a professional caregiver or caring for a loved one who has dementia I can almost guarantee that you have or will run into the problem of teeth brushing. Getting a dementia patient to brush their teeth can ( pardon my pun) be harder than pulling teeth.

I have struggled with this for sometime and have searched the Internet for any advice. Well last week I finally found a tip that works ( most of the time), and believe me most of the time is better then almost never, you know.

I must credit this tip with the source Teepa Snow. If you have not see her, take the time to Google her name and watch some of her presentations you will gain some real insite.

Here is the procedure that I tried from her suggestions:

Stand behind your client/loved one, place your hand on their dominate shoulder ( that is to say If they are right handed put your hand in their right shoulder, left handed put your hand on left shoulder) this gets their brain to focus on your hand. Then hold the tooth brush in your hand with their hand on top off yours. Gently guide your hand to their mouth while telling them we need to brush your teeth or we need to clean your teeth. Don't force the brush in ,be kind and gentle talking to them quietly while you run the brush over their teeth. Sounds easy right! Well it's not, but I can tell you this it does work, like I said most of the time.

I can't tell you how I felt when it worked. It was like I had just won a million dollars. I felt so good that I was able to help my client accomplish this task. If you are a caregiver you know! Things that in normal life are trivial become such a challenge and when we face that challenge and have a victory, well it feels really good.

I hope this tip helps you. And please feel free to share your tips here. I will post them for others to benefit from. We all learn from each other. Remember you are not in this care giving challenge alone, there are many of us here with you and we care.

Take care and please share.....ha that rhymes.

Ruth Anne

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Like Ground Hog Day

As I reflect on the past few days I can't help but feel like Bill Murray in the film Ground Hog Day. Remember that silly movie where he keeps reliving the same day over and over again? Well seems to me that the life of a caregiver is a bit like that. You gain a new client, get close to them and before you know it you are saying goodbye. Then with a new client the process can start again.

I know it is the nature of our business, however when you lose 3 great guys in less than 2 years it hurts. It hurts every time. I mistakenly thought each time I met my new client, 'oh we'll be together for several years'. There was nothing to indicate that they would die so quickly. But then that just goes to show you we are not in control. We can do our best but in the end everyone dies, and it hurts.

Does this mean I think we should keep our emotional distance?

No never, at least not for me. Being human
and really caring about the lives of our clients is what sets a good PAL apart from the rest. Share your thoughts with us on loss and how you handle it. We all learn from each other.

Take good care.
Ruth Anne