Respite is Valuable

By Jane Rogers, RN
Respite, or relief from care duties, for even a short while can be valuable for improving the caregiver’s physical and mental well-being.
Caring for your loved one can be fulfilling and exhausting at the same time. Even respite for a few hours can give you the chance to run errands, work at your job, go to your own doctor appointments or visit with friends.

Do you feel a twinge of guilt dropping your loved one off at Adult Day Service? Well let’s look at this as a welcome change of pace for your loved one to attend our “Activity Center” to see their friends who may have similar cognitive or physical disabilities. Respite care helps avoid isolation for both of you. Without respite breaks, caregiving can be stressful and lead to resentment and depression. You are already dealing with stressful health care issues, financial challenges and over all changes to the life you once were used to and now the 24/7 caregiving adds to the stress. It’s exhausting!

At Helping Hands Respite Care, a nurse is scheduled Monday through Friday which helps the families we serve feel more at ease. We monitor participants blood pressure, pulse, weight and the PO2 which checks their level of oxygen. This is done using a painless clip on their finger. Everyone is monitored monthly and more if needed. The objective is to monitor their health, trying to avoid most health issues to make it easier for you at home. Two way communication is key to achieving this.

All in all, here at Helping Hands Respite Care, we recognize the value of respite and our ability to provide comfort to the program participants as well as the families who receive our services.

The Heart of the Matter

By Jeff Nunham, Adult In-Home Supervisor

Adult In Home Supervisor, Jeff Nunham talks about the things we learn along the way.
We often talk about the barriers and obstacles people face who suffer with a disability. Last month, I wrote about those care givers who are “on” 24/7, giving
care to a family member with a disability and who are silently suffering under the strain that goes with that level of loving care. The primary caregiver also face enormous barriers. One which we often see is the myth that says, “No one can care for my loved one like I can.” This is one huge barrier which keeps a caregiver from reaching out and asking for help.

If this is you, then this brief note is must read.

If you have been reading my newsletters lately, you will know that I think we have an exceptional staff of very competent and compassionate people. They often amaze me. Sometimes they really touch my heart.

The typical communication I exchange with our care providers is “housekeeping” kind of things. Things like filling vacant shifts, picking up medication sheets or scheduling a meeting. It is all very important, but not memorable. However, once in a while a care provider will send me a note that reminds me of the reasons I am so confident in the quality of care we give. See what you think.

Just to set this up; our client, M.K. had been acting out in ways that were quite challenging for the care provider. After a particularly difficult shift with MK, he had written an Incident Report to which I had responded, thanking him for the way he handled the situation. This is his response to me:

“Thank you, I’m just glad that the medication seemed to help his headache and combined with redirection he was able to get back to the normal happy M.K. we all know. By now M.K. is like a brother to me, and the goal is to predict what is ailing him before it gets to the point of outburst. I believe a headache or backache lead to his frustration which eventually manifested itself to this point. It hurts me to know he is in pain and has trouble communicating it, so all I can do is help him the best I can as soon as I become aware of his troubles. Sadly in this situation it was much more acute and happened rather quickly.”

Can you hear his heart…………? Who wouldn’t want the love of a brother to shape the care your loved one gets? He is one of the reasons why we say, “This is so much more than a job for our care providers”. Our care providers are all heart.

As a supervisor, I am always looking for care providers with heart. One vital source of great compassionate care is the volunteer who serves because they love to give. A few days ago, as I was walking by one of our volunteers who helps out in the Adult Day Services program, I stopped to thank them for the work they are doing. I thanked her for giving her time to be a part of the program. Her response struck me just like the email you just read. “I just love it here” was her immediate reply. Her eyes were bright and her smile revealed her warm and loving heart. Who wouldn’t want to spend the day with people like that? Like the employee who loves like a brother, this volunteer brings that same warmth and compassion to our members.

This is a message I wish every care giver could hear. If you fear allowing another person to care for your loved one, I simply say “the heart of the matter is a respite care provider who will care like a brother and serve with the love and compassion of a volunteer.”

Saying Goodbye to Mr. Thomas E. Beachnau

We are so sorry to have to say goodbye to Thomas E. Beachnau.

It was truly our honor to serve Thomas and his family with respite care. Thomas kept a quiet and attentive demeanor while he attended the Adult Day Services program of Helping Hands Respite Care. He was a big sports fan and followed the Tigers, Lions, and Redwings. We were thrilled to hear about the love of his life, Dawn, who he met while they both worked at the Nip n Sip Restaurant.

Thomas was a big fan of games, he had a great memory and could be counted on to participate in games like Charades and Scattergories. He so loved coming to the ADS program that on the days that he was scheduled to attend he would get up extra early. He will be missed.
Our sympathies go to the whole Beachnau family during this time. We are grateful to Thomas Jr. for being a great advocate for Helping Hands Respite Care and for designating Helping Hands as the recipient for memorial gifts.

“Everyone Deserves and Needs a Break Now and Then”

Cassidy enjoys spending time at the Respite House.

By Dawn Todd, Respite House Supervisor

We love our young people who visit the Respite House! Just as important are the families who utilize our services in order to take a much needed break (respite) over an occasional weekend.

We know it is not easy for caregivers to entrust their loved one to our care without worrying or having some anxiety. Sometimes the stress and tension can be seen in the caregiver’s face and body language as they come through the door and proceed with the weekend “check-In.” The amazing part of this journey however, is seeing the caregiver’s “smile and restful look” as they return for “checkout.” The caregivers see all is well with their loved one and how much they have enjoyed their stay away from home. Those same care giving parents/guardians gladly notice the art projects, baked cakes and talks about the singing and dancing, as well as the many other happenings such as playing outside in the park and taking walks along the trails that surround our welcoming “Respite House.” There is a sigh of relief that only proper “respite” could bring month after month of visiting.

Apparently, our true mission becomes clear to our care giving families when they start to realize everyone deserves and needs a break now and then. From the countless cumbersome responsibilities along with the daily draining environment of providing for loved ones with special needs and timely requirements, respite care naturally becomes a win/win. The children/young adults benefit from the mini reprieve while socializing with others who also are creating new and building lasting friendships with each other, and at the same time, their care providers are able to have that well deserved break.

For more information or questions about the Helping Hands Respite Care’s Respite House, please contact our office at 517-372-6671 and ask for Supervisor, Dawn Todd (Ext. #106)

10 Things a Person Living with Dementia Would Tell You If They Could

Two ladies exploring volunteer opportunities

Dotty’s Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person Living with Dementia

Here are ten tips you can use to improve your life and the life of an individual living with dementia.

1. You know what makes me feel safe, secure, and happy? A smile.
2. Did you ever consider this? When you get tense and uptight it makes me feel tense and uptight.
3. Instead of getting all bent out of shape when I do something that seems perfectly normal to me, and perfectly nutty to you, why not just smile at me? It will take the edge off the situation all the way around.
4. Please try to understand and remember it is my short term memory, my right now memory, that is gone. Don’t talk so fast, or use so many words.
5. You know what I am going to say if you go off into long winded explanations on why we should do something? I am going to say No, because I can never be certain if you are asking me to do something I like, or drink a bottle of Castor oil. So I’ll just say No to be safe.
6. Slow down. And don’t sneak up on me and start talking. Did I tell you I like smiles?
7. Make sure you have my attention before you start blabbering away. What is going to happen if you start blabbering away and you don’t have my attention, or confuse me? I am going to say No – count on it.
8. My attention span and ability to pay attention are not as good as they once were, please make eye contact with me before you start talking. A nice smile always gets my attention. Did I mention that before?
9. Sometimes you talk to me like I am a child or an idiot. How would you like it if I did that to you? Go to your room and think about this. Don’t come back and tell me you are sorry, I won’t know what you are talking about. Just stop doing it and we will get along very well, and probably better than you think.
10. You talk too much, instead try taking my hand and leading the way. I need a guide not a person to nag me all the time.

Source: Alzheimer’s Reading Room

For more information on caring for an individual who is living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, please contact our Adult Day Services Program Director, Alison, alison@helpinghandsrespite.care.

Breaking Barriers Today (BBT) – Achieving Milestones

BBT participant Jimmy enjoying a book.

What a wonderful start we have had for 2016! Over the past few months we have been working on more goals for our clients and watching as they are achieving milestones. Now we are looking into creating job task schedules based on ability level to help your loved one continue to work on independent living skills; and getting ready for more community inclusion time as spring arrives. Our goal is to help them engage in activities for learning, socialization, and work on stimulation so they can grow as individuals.

Everyday each of your loved ones surprise us with their ability to learn and grow. Though there were many, there are a few specific achievements that were reached this month that we’d love to share with you:

Jimmy has been reading a lot of books this month. He enjoys looking at the pictures and flipping through the pages, and, when he’s done he puts the book right back where he got it.

Lucy has been starting to do hand over hand feeding. She has been guiding the care providers hand to her mouth to eat, which is awesome.

Bethany and care provider Ally did some beautiful hand over hand drawing this past week. Bethany loved it and smiled the whole time.

These are just some of the milestones we have witnessed this month and as we move forward day by day, month by month, we expect to continue to see more.

All of us at BBT want to give a shout out to Sarah who is having a birthday this month and has been a long term participant of the After School Program and BBT. Thank you Sarah for being part of the group and we hope you have a wonderful birthday! Our care providers deserve a shout out for the awesome work and the flexibility they’ve had as we continue to improve our BBT Program.

A huge thank you goes to the parents who have filled out the survey regarding BBT, your voice is important. Thank you for trusting us with your loved one and being willing to share your thoughts with us.

Welcome to Michael and Mariah as they join the BBT family next week! Here we grow.

For more information about The Breaking Barriers Today Program, please contact the program supervisor, Elizabeth Krumm, aspsupervisor@helpinghandsrespite.care