Caregiver Blog, News Feeds, Video Feeds, Useful Links

Friday, June 27, 2008

Guest Post from Scott Couchenour - Balancing Bad News With Positive


I am amazed at how much media airtime real estate is consumed by bad things that have happened. Recently I was listening to the radio in my car. Within a 30-second spot, I learned a baby was left on a doorstep (umbilical cord still wrapped around its neck), a man was sentenced to death for killing someone, the body of a woman was found in a lake - apparently raped and strangled, and two retired policemen were killed by a man as they worked for an armored car company while servicing an ATM.

What kind of impact is that having on us as we care for others? What is the psychological impact of bad news?

An article in the Harvard Business Review (October 2007) entitled "Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time" points to the importance of the emotions and quality of energy. The authors point out,

"Most people realize that they tend to perform best when they're feeling positive energy. Confronted with relentless demands and unexpected challenges, people tend to slip into negative emotions - the fight-or-flight mode - often multiple times in a day."

Listening constantly to bad news can diminish the impact of people who care for others. It enhances a low emotional state. It robs us of the kind of optimism described in the Stockdale Paradox (what Jim Collins speaks of in his book, Good to Great):

"Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be AND at the same time, retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties."

News media is part of our existence. What are YOU doing to retain an appropriate emotional state as you care for others?

Try this: For every negative piece of news, come up with at least two positive things to keep balance. Try complimenting someone. List your blessings. Look for the good in someone. Think of a time when you accomplished something. Smile at a stranger.

I'm not talking about ignoring the woes of our fallen world. I'm talking about keeping perspective to be the best benefit to those who need us to be there for them.

By guest blogger: Scott Couchenour, Certified Life Coach
Scott A. Couchenour, Certified Life Coach
Coaching for Ministry Balance

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"30 Days in a Wheelchair" on - Experiencing Life From a Different Perspective

Caregivers can understand the perspective of those who spend life in a wheelchair by watching "30 Days in a Wheelchair" on NFL player Ray Crockett spends 30 days in a wheelchair, experiencing the adaptations needed for daily living. As he gets ready to start on the first day he is advised that he'll learn to have an appreciatiion for the frustration that is felt when someone spends so much time "looking at everyone's belt buckle" and he'll find that often people won't make eye contact because they are uncomfortable. The program focuses on spinal cord injuries but the insights about life using a wheelchair will apply for others as well.

Ray starts at the Baylor Rehabilitation Institute. He is advised that people will choose to make eye contact with his wife if she is standing nearby, often avoiding him, and they may act as if he is deaf and dumb. Our culture and society has to learn how to accept people who use a wheelchair.

When someone has to start using a wheelchair friends are lost as well as activities, because people feel uncomfortable or cannot adjust to being around the person who is now using a wheelchair.

One person said it is like waking up and thinking it was only a bad dream but finding it was real. However, as one of the counselors said, life does go on and one struggles to adapt because there is no other way.

Ray's car is fitted with hand and arm controls since he cannot use his legs while he is in the "30 days" project, and his house is adapted for disability. He find that there are a lot more stairs, steep slopes and narrow doorways than he thought.

He spends part of his time at the Rehabilitation Institute with spinal cord injury patients and groups for therapy. One of the volunteer counselor's shows him how to get around and speaks openly about what it is like. He participates in "wheelchair rugby" and this is like football in wheelchairs - it's a rough sport.

After 30 days when Ray returns to walking he has made some special friends and learned from them and from his experience what life is like for those who use a wheelchair.

Caregivers can understand the frustrations felt by wheelchair users better after they see this video. Better yet, try using a wheelchair for awhile in order to experience life from a different perspective, like NFL player Ray Crockett did.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Caregiver's Memories - Video in Memory of My Father - Father's Day at the Pismo Beach Pier, San Luis Obispo County, CA

My father, Jack H. Terry, Sr., passed away 13 years ago from a stroke, but on Father's Day I do something special in his memory and this year I made a video of scenes at the ocean. He always loved water and boats - lakes, rivers, oceans. He would have loved the sandcastles, kites and other scenes in this video made at the Pismo Beach Pier, San Luis Obispo County, California. When I am near the ocean I remember the wonderful times we spent together at lakes or beaches.

Friday, June 13, 2008

RE: Nursing Home Reform Amendments of OBRA, Residents "Know Your Rights, " Guest Post by Matt Raven

Know your rights” is important for residents of nursing homes. The Nursing Home Reform Amendments of OBRA were implemented in early 1987. According to the for the people website, the act mandated that nursing homes “promote and protect the rights of each resident.”

The law aims at doing a number of things, but here are the general rights of residents:

1) Right to Self-Determination

Residents have the right to:
-select their own doctor.
-have access and involvement in all medical decisions.
-receive personalized services at the facility based on individual requirements.

2) Personal and Privacy Rights

Residents have the right to:
-partake in social, religious, and community events as they see fit.
-confidentiality of personal and medical documents.

3) Rights Regarding Abuse and Restraints

Residents have the right to:
- be liberated of any physical or psychological maltreatment, corporal punishment, solitary confinement, or use of restraints as punishment.
- be restrained under a doctor’s strict orders for the purpose of treating medical symptoms and guaranteeing the resident’s safety while protecting others.

4) Rights to Information

Nursing homes are obligated to:
-Provide, upon request, residents with up-to-date inspection results and any measures the facility plans to take to improve existing conditions.
-Advise residents ahead of time about any preparation to alter their rooms or swap roommates.
-Notify residents of their rights when they initially move in to the nursing home, providing them with a written version of the rights.
-Discuss how to take advantage of Medicaid benefits with residents.

5) Rights to Visits

Nursing homes are obligated to:
- To allow urgent visits by a resident’s primary care physician in addition to representatives from the licensing agency and ombudsman program.
- To allow urgent visits by a resident’s family providing the resident gives permission.

6) Rights of Transfer and Discharge

Nursing homes may not transfer or discharge residents unless:
- The transfer or discharge is essential for the well-being of the resident, and the current facility is incapable of providing that level of care.
- The health and security of fellow residents is compromised.
- The resident’s general health has reached a point that they no longer require the extent of care that a nursing home can offer.

7) Protection of Personal Funds

A nursing home must never force residents to let the facility hold their money.

8) Protection Against Medicaid Discrimination

A nursing home must:
- Implement and abide by policies identical to other nursing homes in terms of transfer, discharge, and how services covered by Medicaid will be provided.
- Not force residents to surrender their right to Medicaid coverage and must provide information relevant to the Medicaid application process.

These basic rights should be implemented in every nursing home nation wide. If you have an experience where you feel like your rights have been abridged in a nursing home situation, please contact a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in the field.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Caregivers and Seniors Dilemma - Medicine, Food or Gasoline?

Caregivers and care-receivers can face a multiple choice in the current economy - medicine, gasoline, or food? Solving the problem can be like trying to find one's way through a maze and running into a wall at every turn. Forget about trying to hang on to luxuries. Many are trying to decide whether they can afford their prescription, a trip across town to a medical provider, or enough food for a nutritious diet. Below are some places to look for help on the internet.

1. FOOD RESOURCES: At the website for FRAC, the Food Research and Action Center, "Fighting Hunger In America" there are resources to help. A portion of the website is dedicated to the elderly, and has information about programs you can turn to for assistance.

Seniors Centers across the United States often have a commodities program (groceries), a brown bag program, and a senior nutrition program (hot lunches served or delivered, donation optional).

2. GASOLINE PRICE RESOURCES: If you visit you can type in your location and find the cheapest gas.

3. MEDICAL AND MEDICINE RESOURCES: The Medicare website offers explanations about prescription plans, bridging the coverage gap, and a long term care planning tool. AARP offers many resources and articles. Senior-health-insurance is a website that provides a service of helping seniors compare health insurance plans. Seniors centers often have programs to provide health insurance counseling and advice, low cost health screening and free or low cost seminars. ReverseHelpline has a variety of information and warnings about reverse mortgages.

Need Help With Elderly Parents? For Expert Advice: Geriatric Care Managers - Credentials, Certifications, Services

Friends, acquaintances and caregiver agencies often offer well-meant advice but where can you find educated, certified, licensed expert help and advice for aging parents? At an article on Geriatric Care Managers explains credentials can include being a Registered Nurse, Licensed Counselor of Social Work, Counselor of Psychology or Attorney. Certifications for Geriatric Care Managers require "educational qualifications, supervision, work experience, written exams, and ongoing education to maintain a certificate."

I have seen that too often people are overwhelmed with advice from others who do not have the education, licenses, experience and credentials to be genuine experts. Friends, other caregivers, caregiver agencies, and others who are involved in the eldercare world but who are not qualified experts may mean well in offering advice.

It is my opinion that expert advice from a top consultant can be of more help to your loved ones, save a lot of worries, and result in wiser decisions. If you are using a caregiver agency then a Geriatric Care Manager could provide consultations.

Caregiver agencies often offer quite a bit of advice, but it is rare that the care coordinators have related educational degrees or licenses and of course their work is nonmedical.

Do not confuse a Geriatric Care Manager with a care coordinator at a caregiver agency. The job of care coordinator does not require the same qualifications and is very different. .

For important decisions it would be better to consult with a qualified expert.

For expert advice from an outside professional with education, licenses, and certifications it makes sense to consult with a Geriatric Care Manager.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Guest Post: 's Scott Couchenour, Certified Life Coach, on Self-Care for Those Who Serve Others

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a young teenager. I was on my way home from my girlfriend's house. She lived about an hour away. I had seen the oil light come on at the dashboard days before. I just figured I would get more oil when I got the chance. Besides, the light would go out occasionally. So I thought I had more time.

But on my way home from my girlfriend's house that day, the light came on and stayed on. I was still 20 minutes from home. "I'll take care of it when I get home," I reasoned with myself (and unfortunately, self agreed.)

Then this terrible banging started. It was loud. It wouldn't stop. I drove home with the sound. It seemed to get worse as I accelerated. Long story short -- I blew the entire engine of my Honda Civic. The loud banging sound I heard was the engine tearing itself apart because there was no oil to absorb the friction between the moving parts within the engine casing. Hmmmm. Imagine that. (By the way, thanks to my Dad for bailing me out and helping me with the new engine.)
So what does this story have to do with taking care of ourselves as we serve others?

Oil = Self Care

Oil. It's the substance which absorbs friction of moving parts. It helps ensure long engine life. There are 2 things about oil that we need to remember: 1) It must be clean; 2) There must be enough of it. This requires periodically checking the quality and level - changing the oil when necessary.

Self Care. It's the activity which absorbs friction of serving others. It helps ensure a strong finish. There are 2 things about self care we need to remember:

1) It must be tailored to who you are;

2) There must be enough of it. This requires periodically checking the quality and frequency - making adjustments along the way when necessary.

So, how's your serving "engine"? Are you checking your "oil" frequently enough? What's the level? What's the quality? Or is your life too jam packed with activity that you're reasoning with yourself, saying, "I'll take care of myself when my schedule slows down." Be careful. You may tear yourself apart.

If we take care of self, self will Serve Strong!Scott Couchenour, Certified Life CoachPromoting Ministry

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bedsores, Bruises, Dehydration, Malnutrition, Medication Errors - Checking for Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

The website at personal injury attorneys For The People explains that " neglect and abuse of the elderly happens every day and can be physical, emotional or simple negligence." Recognizing whether something is defined as neglect can require expert assistance. Examples of conditions that might be abuse or neglect include "bedsores, open wounds, cuts, bruises, dehydration, malnutrition, weight loss, burns, falls, bowel impactions, medication errors, poor personal hygiene, verbal or physical abuse, over-sedation, etc."

The website has a list of nursing home cases and settlements. There is also a Nursing Home Checklist and a Quick Guide to Nursing Homes at personal injury attorneys For The People.

A guide on How to Report Nursing Home Abuse and Signs of Nursing Home Abuse are also available at the website. If you suspect abuse or neglect you can check with a personal injury attorney for advice.

It is also important to contact your local Adult Protection and ombudsman if you suspect abuse or neglect.

Guest Posts Welcomed at the Caregiver's Beacon

Would you like to write a guest post for the Caregiver's Beacon? Caregiver stories, Alzheimer's and Dementia, caregiving, eldercare, related legal and financial issues, disability, and other related topics are welcome. Send your post by email to Kristi Marie Gott If you have any questions please don't hesitate to send an email and I'll be glad to help. Best wishes to all and take care, Kristi

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Explained in Consumer Justice Group Video

Bruises and bedsores are some of the conditions that may lead to a lawsuit over nursing home abuse and neglect. The video below by the Consumer Justice Group explains causes of bedsores, checking your loved one for bruises, and how to watch for warning signs of neglect or abuse.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Health Insurance and Medical Insurance News Feeds Added to the Caregiver's Beacon

A live news feed from the website Medical News Today for Health Insurance and Medical Insurance has been added to the Caregiver's Beacon. Other live news feeds currently include Alzheimers and Dementia, Caregivers and Home Care, Stroke and Hypertension, and Arthritis. There are also live video feeds for Alzheimer's Caregivers and for Stroke. A live newsreel also covers eldercare, nursing homes, home care and caregivers.

Ten Mentally Stimulating Activities for People With Alzheimer's

How can caregivers find activities day after day for people who have Alzheimer's? These ten tips provide activities that offer mental stimulation.

1. PREVIOUS INTERESTS. Research the historical eras of the person's life on the internet to find items that trigger memories and interests. For instance, new hobbies may result from researching vintage items from the 1930's or 40's. At the website you can research people, events, arts, history, culture and more.

2. PERSONAL HISTORY - Relate personal history items to major historical events. Draw a timeline for the personal history. As memories become difficult to remember seeing events on a timeline makes it less confusing.

3. COMPUTER ACTIVITIES. If a person with Alzheimer's is not familiar with computer skills he or she may still enjoy sitting next to you while you visit travel websites, live web cams of interesting locations around the world or other interesting sites.

4. CONTAINER GARDENING PROJECT. Growing flowers, vegetables or herbs in container gardens, indoors or outside, provides the opportunity to check each day for blooms, growth, and change. Shopping at nurseries for seeds, bulbs, or small plants, and caring for them daily as they grow can add interest to the usual schedule.

5. SOCIAL INTERACTION. Alzheimer's Daycare provides a chance to get out of the house and away from the recliner and T.V. It also gives the caregiver some time to spend separately for relief. For early or mid-stage Alzheimer's a senior center may also have groups, crafts, a mid-day senior lunch program, and other chances to participate.

6. FREE MULTIMEDIA FROM THE LIBRARY. Videos, classic films, photos, books on tape, photo history or travel books, and other multimedia are available at the library for free. Someone who has Alzheimer's may still enjoy having an outing to visit the library, look at historical collections, and choose multimedia. A weekly library trip can be one of the week's highlights.

7. LOCAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUMS AND COMMUNITY EVENTS. The local museums that feature local history and nature are always mentally stimulating and can trigger memories. Art museums and galleries offer visuals that people with Alzheimer's can enjoy. Community events such as pancake breakfasts, fundraiser barbecues, art walks, and festivals can be excuses to get out of the house and participate.

8. GENEALOGY AND LIFE STORY TELLING. Local clubs and classes provide historical triggers for memories, genealogy research advice, group interaction, and advice on recording or writing life stories and preserving personal items.

9. DAILY SPECIAL INTEREST WALK. It may be a challenge to persuade someone who is hypnotized by the T.V. to go outside for walking exercise. A drive in the car to visit the local gardens, arboretum, nurseries, stores, malls, or parks can make it a special interest activity.

10. BE ACTIVE INSTEAD OF PASSIVE. Small tasks such as folding the laundry can help someone feel useful and keep busy. Card games or board games can be mostly games of chance that use dice if memory is not good enough for more difficult activity. Crossword puzzles, jig saw puzzles and word or number games are more active than watching T.V. Writing the grocery list and other household tasks can help keep someone actively involved.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Five Ways Alzheimer's Caregiving Trends for the Future Include High Tech and Computers

Alzheimer's caregivers in the future will be spending more time using computers and high tech for everything from Alzheimer's research to finding internet support groups. Five ways caregivers and seniors will make more use of high tech in the future include the following.

1. ALZHEIMER'S RESEARCH. First, surfing the internet for Alzheimer's research and self-education will provide caregivers with the latest news and advice.

2. INTERNET SUPPORT GROUPS. As the internet becomes yet more interactive Alzheimer's caregivers will continue to find support from online groups, forums, podcasts, and events.

3. CAREGIVER BLOGS. Writing blogs provides a way to communicate news with family and friends, offer resources and information to others, and be part of an online caregiver community.

Writing and self-expression have always been good ways to reduce stress and reduce isolation.

4. HIGH TECH FOR SENIORS WITH ALZHEIMER'S. Today's seniors who have Alzheimer's or Dementia have had a taste of high tech, and their interests and activities reflect this. Traditional activities included handcrafts such as knitting or woodcarving, but that will change to include computers.

Now seniors activities often include digital photography, blogging, surfing the internet, and other high tech activities. Sports can include high tech such as the Wii bowling.

5. DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY, MAKING VIDEOS, AND MUSIC DOWNLOADS are becoming a part of the activities that seniors who have early or midstage Alzheimer's and their caregivers may share. Scrapbooking is a popular way that seniors with Alzheimer's preserve their memories. Now a type of high tech scrapbook might include digital collections of photos, slideshows, personal videos and memoirs.