Category Archives: private group home

The Power of a Hug

older-couple-in-loveJanuary 21st is National Hug Day, an unofficial event created by Rev. Kevin Zaborney in 1986.  Although it is not a public holiday, it is worthy of celebration.  The idea behind National Hug Day is to encourage people to reach out and hug a family member, friend, or maybe even a stranger more often.  No matter whom you decide to hug, the mental and physical health benefits are the same to all involved.

Rev. Zaborney realized that after the holidays, many people suffered from low spirits.  Therefore, he selected January 21st because it fell between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and Valentine’s Day.

Studies have shown that there are many health benefits related to human contact.  These studies have found that human contact improves both psychological and physical development.  Human contact, especially hugging can:

·      Help build a good immune system

·      Decrease the risk of heart disease

·      Decrease pain

·      Enhance alertness and performance

·      Decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol in women

In a study of couples, a couple that hugs for 20 seconds has a higher level of oxytocin, which acts as a bonding hormone, than those who don’t.  According to the American Psychosomatic Society, a hug with a romantic partner can reduce stress and its harmful physical effects. 

Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, has studied the benefits of touch for many years.  Dr. Field found that in a study where elderly volunteers who were trained to give massages to infants experienced improved mood with less anxiety or depression, decreased levels of stress hormones, more social contacts and fewer doctor visits after just three weeks of contact.

 In another study, it was found that adults who had no human contact had higher blood pressure and heart rates.

So how many hugs does a person need?  Researchers suggest:

·      Four hugs a day for survival

·      Eight hugs a day for maintenance

·      Twelve hugs a day for growth

So what about seniors, those who live alone or are housebound?  How about a pet?

Older Man Hugging a CatIn a three-year study at Baker Medical Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, of almost six thousand people, pet owners had lower blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-smokers.  Pets have a calming effect.  People with pets do a better job of recovering from serious illness or injury and managing chronic conditions.  Pets depend on us to take care of them and to love them.  All of this takes attentions away from ourselves.  We are not only a source of love and comfort to our pets, but all that love and comfort is returned unconditionally.

Especially for the elderly, disabled, terminally ill, long term care residents or caregivers, the gift of touch is the most powerful healing you can offer another and give to yourself.  So what’s stopping you?  Start hugging!  It’s free and so easy to give. 

 

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Baby Boomer Tsunami

I had the pleasure of being the guest on Hello, Dr. CJ’s radio program today and we had a very informative discussion on baby boomers and assisted living.  If you are struggling with a declining loved one or are in need of assisted living yourself, please click the link below and listen in.  You will hear some very insightful advice!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hellodrcj/2013/04/05/hello-dr-cj-whats-life-about#.UV9eES4lku0.facebook

Hello Dr. CJ

How Do I Know It’s Time For Assisted Living?

KissingCouple_000These are a few of the most important questions I ask families when we are conducting an evaluation on a client that may need assisted living.  If you are still unsure as to whether they need in-home care or an assisted living setting, please feel free to call me to discuss the situation.  With just one phone call, I can help inform you on your options and possibly help with any necessary resources.  (480) 419-4202   http://www.assistedlivingadvantage.com

If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, it is time to consider assisted living…

Can they respond appropriately in an emergency to help themselves or others?

Do you worry that they can no longer determine if they are in danger and would not know how to react appropriately?  For instance, if there were a fire in the home, would they alert everyone, call 911 and get out?  If you are a married couple and you are the caregiver, do you trust that your spouse would be able to assist you and get help if you had a heart attack or some other catastrophic incident?

Do they need 24/7 care?

If this is the case, it is obvious that they need assistance.  However, do you understand that the costs of bringing 24-hour care into a private home are often considerably more than moving them to an assisted living community?  It is in your best interests to understand the costs of all options available to you.

Are they able to manage their own medications?

If the answer is no, then this could be a life or death situation.  You don’t want to wait until they end up in the hospital because they overdosed or forgot to take a life-sustaining medication.  An option you would want to consider is a community that would manage their medications and make sure they are taking the proper dosages and at the scheduled times.

Are their cognitive skills such as the ability to reason or their judgment impaired?

Are they making decisions in their best interests?  Are they putting themselves in danger or vulnerable situations?

Is their short or long-term memory impaired?

This can greatly affect their quality of life, especially if they are living on their own.  It can also affect those around them when repeated phone calls are made for the same questions or emergency trips occur to check in with your loved one because they can’t remember if they’ve eaten, taken their meds, etc.

Are they frequently confused or afraid to be alone?

Do they swear that nobody has visited them in a long time when you know a family member was just there yesterday?  Are they oriented as to where they are and what day it is?  This could very well be memory loss.

Are they increasingly becoming isolated from social functions?

This is another question that could be related to memory loss.  Perhaps they can’t follow conversations at the dinner table any more so they refuse to go to family get-togethers.  Maybe they recognize the faces at their weekly Bridge game, but can’t remember the names, so they are embarrassed and quit going.  When a person becomes isolated, their physical and mental health declines much more rapidly.

Do they have an unsteady gait or frequent falls?

You don’t want to wait until there is a fall and they seriously injure themselves.  I’ve had clients that were fall risks but insisted on staying home because they hadn’t fallen yet.  Then they fall one day, end up in the hospital, only to be told that the injuries are severe enough they cannot go back home.  This is devastating!

Do they have an increasing need for help with bathing, dressing, or other personal activities?

Are they no longer able to cook, clean or shop without assistance?

Do they wear the same clothes over and over again?  Are their clothes dirty?

With assisted living, these will all be taken care of for them.  They will be able to have help with their personal hygiene, laundry and housekeeping.  Meals will be provided for them and they won’t have to worry about cooking or grocery shopping.

It’s always difficult to suggest to a person that they are no longer able to care for themselves and that they need to move to an assisted living community.  But trust me, their safety and well-being must come first.  With these questions, you can rest assured that you are evaluating critical issues and warning signs and should be able to discuss them with you loved one, their doctor or anyone else involved in their care and reach the right decision!

How To Find Quality Care For An Elderly Parent

“Recently, I was interviewed by Dana Anspach, a Phoenix financial advisor, and author of the column Money Over 55.  She wanted to know what I search for and my process for finding quality care for my clients seeking assisted living.  Here is the link for that article…    ~ Becky

http://moneyover55.about.com/od/postretirementplanning/a/How-To-Find-Quality-Care-For-An-Elderly-Parent.htm

Pet Enrich The Lives Of Our Elderly

I am a committed animal lover.  I cannot imagine a life without my furry loved ones any more than a life without my human loved ones.   During my years working with the elderly and helping them find assisted living, I have often seen families dealing with the trauma of moving a loved one to assisted living and knowing that they will have to separate that person from their beloved pet.

Thankfully, I have seen a very positive trend in assisted living communities during the past few years.  Communities are recognizing this important, life enhancing relationship and, more and more, are becoming pet friendly.  Allowing a person to keep their pet, which they almost always identify as their child, gives them a sense of hope and purpose.

If you are considering moving a loved one to assisted living and they own a pet, please do your research and try to locate an appropriate community that will allow them to keep the pet.  It will do wonders for their qualify of life!    ~ Becky

EVEN IN THE ELDER YEARS, LIFE REQUIRES US TO MAKE BIG MOVES

Are you one of the many who are faced with the fear that moving your parents to a care community will disrupt their lives and make them unhappy?  Do you worry that you are altering their lives in a way that reduce the quality of life?  I helped a woman who is a life coach with finding a care community and moving her parents from New York to Arizona.  As always, there was a great deal of concern whether she was doing the right thing and whether her parents would adapt and embrace the change.  Recently, she has been writing a series of articles about this process and the most current shares the big move.  If you are struggling with the decision to provide more care for your loved one and that means moving them, please read this positive true story and know that it can be the best thing in the world for your loved one.    ~ Becky

http://home.ezezine.com/25_3/25_3-2011.04.05.05.30.archive.html

TAKE A BEST FRIENDS APPROACH

I just read an article from care ADvantage magazine published by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America regarding interacting with those who have a dementia or Alzheimer’s.  I believe this applies whether you have a loved one living alone, with family or in a care community and it is well worth sharing…  ~ Becky

The “Best Friends Approach” seeks to make life better for individuals with dementia and caregivers by adapting a comprehensive philosophy that is easy to understand and founded in a familiar concept:  friendship.  Adopting this approach helps diminish pain and loss, and allows the relationship to take on a new definition.

“Everyone wants to be treated as a real person and being treated as a best friend is what they need most of all.” said Virginia Bell, MSW, co-founder of the Best Friends Approach.

Her bottom line:  “We all feel better when we are with our best friends.”

Here are key points to apply when taking on the role of a best friend for someone with memory loss:

1.  Friends know each other’s personality and history.

A best friend becomes the person’s memory, is sensitive to traditions, and respects the person’s personality, moods and problem-solving style.

2.  Friends do things together.

A best friend enjoys activities with the person with dementia, involves the person in activities and chores, initiates activities, encourages the simple things in life and celebrates special occasions.

3.  Friends communicate.

A best friend listens skillfully, fills in the blanks, asks easy questions and encourages participation in conversations.

4.  Friendship builds self-esteem.

A best friend gives compliments often, carefully asks for advice or opinions, and always offers encouragement and congratulations.

5.  Friends laugh together often.

A Best friend tells jokes and funny stories, is spontaneously fun and uses humor often that makes fun of his or her own weaknesses.

6.  Friends are equals.

A best friend doesn’t talk down to people, works to help the person “save face,” doesn’t assume a supervisory role and knows that learning is a two-way street.

7.  Friends work at the relationship.

A best friend is not overly sensitive, does more than half the work, builds a trusting relationship and shows affections often.

Based on “A Dignified Life: The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care,” written by Virginia Bell, MSW, and David Troxel, MPH (Health Communications, Inc., 2002).