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Health Care Services

Caregivers in Isolation: Finding the Support You Need

If you are one of the 34 million Americans providing unpaid care for an elderly loved one, you may feel alone and exhausted by the overwhelming responsibilities you face. Add in the complications that COVID-19 has brought us, which makes even going to the grocery a risk to our health, and you may be feeling very isolated.

A caregiver support group can help you feel less alone by connecting you with others in the same boat. They can provide you with advice, useful resources, and a place to be heard. Many caregiver support groups previously held in person have moved online, making attending the meeting as simple as dialing a phone number or logging into a website.

Caregiver support groups available in the Dallas area 

Home Health Companions 

Our monthly Family Caregiver Support Group, normally hosted in our Dallas office, has moved online to continue the important work of supporting caregivers in a safe environment. The group meets on the second Friday of each month from 1:00-2:30 pm.

Our facilitator is Lisa Shardon, an Aging Life Care™ professional and president of Home Health Companions. Shardon is an Advisory Council member for the Center for Vital Longevity at the University of Texas in Dallas and an executive board member for the Aging Mind Foundation. Lisa also serves the Alzheimer Association of Greater Dallas as a Trailblazers facilitator for those who have been diagnosed with early-stage dementia and their care partners.

Other Dallas-area support groups 

Facebook support groups

There are many private Facebook groups dedicated to caregivers, both local and national. Here, you’ll find the opportunity to vent and ask questions 24-hours a day using your smartphone or computer, no matter where you are located.  

Note: most of these groups are not facilitated by geriatric care specialists. They are run by fellow caregivers with varying levels of expertise. These groups are best for sharing resources, sharing stories, and feeling heard. They are not a good source for medical advice or decision-making. 

Daily Caring has compiled a list of support groups that may fit your needs. You may also search Facebook directly.

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Meeting Home Health Needs During the COVID-19 Crisis

We’re so very proud of our team members and their continued dedication to safely caring for our clients. During unprecedented times, our staff continues to observe stringent hygiene and health protocols while providing caregiving and nursing services. They are a vital human connection for our clients, especially right now.

New: Virtual Services
Families who face a need for in-home health services for a loved one during the COVID-19 crisis also struggle with protecting their health. That is why we are now offering virtual assessments to determine which services are needed and assist families in selecting the most appropriate choices. We are also able to provide virtual nurse visits.

In some cases, families are delaying engagement of home health services during the crisis and choosing to provide care themselves in the interim, while they themselves are at home. Other families are moving loved ones out of facilities temporarily to avoid the virus. We understand!

If you or someone you know is providing caregiving for a family member until the COVID-19 crisis subsides, ensure you have a care plan in place.

Create a Care Plan
A care plan is a list of all the tasks the caregiver does for and with your loved one. If you’re a Home Health Companions client, you have a care plan in place. If you are not a current client or if your loved one’s health has changed significantly, our Aging Life Care certified professionals can create one for you. Contact us at 214-295-8213. Our phone is answered 24 hours a day.

Additional Resources
If you are now in the position of providing care yourself, this new guide can be a useful resource: “Helpful Family Resources for Dealing with COVID-19.”

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Should you bring your loved one home?

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins asks families to consider bringing loved ones home from assisted living and skilled nursing facilities and caring for them at home. The Dallas Morning News reports that this suggestion is in response to confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents of a North Dallas senior-living facility.

Every situation is unique. Home Health Companions is here to help concerned families evaluate options and make informed decisions.

If you are thinking about moving a loved one home and providing in-home care – even temporarily – here are questions to address:

  • Can a nurse or caregiver help my loved-one at home daily?
  • What, if any, equipment would be needed, i.e. a hospital bed?
  • Do I have the resources available to help my loved one?

Please call us to discuss your concerns at 214-295-8213. Our phone is answered 24/7.

An Aging Life Professional® can help

If you are considering moving your parent home from a facility due to COVID-19, one of our certified Aging Life Care Professionals will work with you to create a plan of action, including logistics such as scheduling care and provision of any needed equipment.

An Aging Life Care™ certified professional, also known as a geriatric care manager, helps families with needs-assessment, plans of care, and arranging for services to meet their needs. They are experienced in several areas related to aging care, including counseling, gerontology, mental health, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc.

To schedule an assessment, please contact us today at 214-295-8213.

Why Home Health Companions?

Home Health Companions has earned the Best of Home Care Employer of Choice Award two years in a row from Home Care Pulse, who collects unbiased feedback direct from employees. Our client satisfaction for March 2020 is an impressive 93.7%.

But don’t take our word for it.

“Home Health Companions prevent crises from occurring. They anticipate the needs of the client and meet those needs. They are always available and are quick to get on any issues,” Home Health Companions client.

 

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Health Care Services

Tips for Communicating with Seniors

Seniors crave social connection as much as the rest of us. Unfortunately, sometimes they are less able to verbalize their feelings as well as they used to or are self-conscious about slower speech or reduced memory. Some extra effort may be needed to strike up a conversation with them. 

It’s important to try not to treat seniors differently. Realize that they have had rich experiences, which you can tap into and learn from during your time with them. Your honest and loving curiosity about their lives will both help to trigger memories for them as well as provide a natural path for conversation. 

Planning for a Visit 

If you know ahead of time that you’ll be visiting a senior, consider bringing something to do or talk about that might help trigger memories for them. A few ideas include:

  • A family photo album 
  • Music from when the person was young 
  • A simple craft project or puzzle 
  • A homemade goodie 

If they have access to a kitchen and used to enjoy cooking, bring ingredients for a meal or snack you can enjoy making and eating together. This might spark conversations about favorite foods, cooking techniques, or recipes 

Speak Normally

Avoid talking down to elderly people. Do not use baby talk, a singsong voice, or inappropriately familiar terms of endearment. Talk to them as you would any other adult. Many seniors feel insulted when people talk to them as if they are children, even if those people don’t mean any harm.

Questions to Spark a Conversation 

If conversations don’t seem to flow naturally, here are some questions that might help: 

  1. Who influenced your life the most? 
  2. What is the happiest moment of your life? 
  3. What is your proudest accomplishment? 
  4. What is your earliest memory? Note that many people’s long-term memory stays intact much longer than their short-term memory. 
  5. Who were your friends when you were growing up? 
  6. Did you have a pet? 
  7. Did you travel when you were younger? Where was your favorite vacation? 
  8. What was your favorite hobby? 
  9. What was school like for you as a child? What were your favorite and least favorite subjects? 
  10. What do you wish you’d done that you didn’t? 

It might be tempting to finish sentences, fill in blanks, or correct inconsistencies, but it is more respectful to give your full attention. Be patient if they aren’t able to speak or think things through at their previous pace. 

Try to stick to one topic at a time. Limit distractions to allow time to collect their thoughts. Turn off televisions or phones and move to a quiet corner, if possible. 

This is a time of their lives that may be characterized by loss: loss of health, finances, friends, mobility, and control, to name just a few. If we let them talk about these losses, it often gives us opportunities to talk about alternatives that help them retain the control they have left. 

When planning time together, rather than asking open-ended questions, give a couple of options. For instance, instead of “What would you like to eat?,” try “Would you rather have tacos or spaghetti for dinner?” 

Be aware of non-verbal communication. As people lose the ability to talk clearly, they may rely on other ways to communicate. Facial expressions may show sadness, anger, frustration, or other emotions. Allow them to express themselves verbally and non-verbally in every way they can. 

The bottom line is that all humans crave connection. They want to feel valued, respected, and loved. The efforts you make to communicate with your loved ones and seniors that you spend time with may be valued far more than you even realize and maybe even far more than they can express to you.

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