Tag Archives: home care agency

A Fond Farewell

To all the Trillium HomeCare staff, clients, fellow bloggers, and extended Trillium family, it’s time to say good-bye. After twelve incredible years, Trillium HomeCare will be closing operations. Making this decision has been extremely difficult but I will always be grateful for the many friends I have made along the way and for the wonderful memories I will take with me. To our clients, it has been an honor to serve you. We feel privileged to have been entrusted with your care. To our employees, your hard work and dedication to our clients have always made me proud to represent Trillium HomeCare. Providing our clients with the best care has been central to Trillium’s mission and couldn’t have been accomplished without your dedication to excellence. Take pride in your special calling as caregivers. I thank all of you and wish you the very best for the future.


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Daylight Saving Time and Seniors

This Sunday, March 8th, starts the beginning of Daylight Saving Time for this year. Be sure to set your clocks forward one hour before going to bed Saturday night. Most of us get accustomed to this yearly time change with a few extra cups of coffee or if possible, an afternoon nap. Within a couple of days our bodies have adjusted and we’re back to the usual schedule. This isn’t the case with many seniors who are already dealing with sleep issues as they age and may have chronic conditions that lead to insomnia. Additional sources of sleep problems include medications, psychological issues like depression, and neurological illnesses such as dementia. Compounding these problems is the fact that as seniors get older they often develop “advanced sleep phase syndrome”. Their internal clock makes them sleepy earlier in the evening and wakes them earlier in the morning. Moving the clock ahead affects the senior’s circadian rhythm or natural sleep cycle. Because of daylight saving time, your loved one may have difficulty falling asleep earlier in the evening and more wakefulness in the early part of the night. This kind of sleep disruption can lead to grogginess, disorientation, and decreased ability to concentrate.

There are several things that can be done to adjust to the new “spring forward” time. Most importantly, get as much exposure to light during the day as possible. Natural sunlight suppresses your body’s production of melatonin which induces sleep. Keep window blinds open to sunlight and get outdoors if possible. Dim lights in the evening and avoid the bright lights of the television or computer screen before bed and be sure to use a night light in the bathroom at night instead of turning on overhead lights. If you find that you must take a nap, be sure it’s short and that you take it earlier in the day rather than later. You’ll be feeling hungry later in the day but be careful to avoid a heavy meal at least two to three hours before your bedtime. Stay away from caffeine after noon because it can affect your sleep for ten to twelve hours after consumption. Avoid alcohol before bed. Although it may help you fall asleep by relaxing you, it will actually make it harder for you to stay asleep. Limit the amount of liquids you consume for a couple of hours before you go to bed. Getting up to go to the bathroom is the major cause of waking at night for seniors. Following these suggestions should help your senior adjust more quickly to the time change but if the sleep schedule doesn’t return to normal in a few weeks, it may be time to consult your doctor. How do you adjust to the time change? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Saying “No” to Caregiving

According to a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, there are over 44 million unpaid caregivers taking care of elders or someone with disabilities. Statistics show that the majority of care is provided by a family member with the primary caregiver being the youngest unmarried daughter or the oldest son. The closer the child lives to their parent, the more likely they are to become responsible for their parent’s welfare. If there are no local family members, friends often become caregivers. The path to becoming a caregiver can be slow with the caregiver gradually taking on more and more of the responsibility of caring for a parent as they age, or it can be sudden if a parent has a health crisis or suddenly becomes incapacitated. In both cases, neither the parent nor their child realizes there is a caregiver relationship going on. The ongoing care is basically born from a desire to keep a loved one safe and to provide the best care possible.

Very often, it’s not until the caregiver starts developing “symptoms” that they realize they are fully engulfed in their role as caregiver and are in fact dealing with the stress of that role. Some of the symptoms of caregiver stress include anger, fatigue, poor sleep or health, irritability, and depression. The caregiver may feel hopeless, thinking there’s no light at the end of the tunnel and may in fact want to avoid their loved one. If you are losing yourself to the job of caregiving, it may be time to say “no”. Even though you may be overwhelmed, that’s a pretty hard thing to do. After all, you’ve come to believe that only you can do the best for your parent. In fact, that’s not true. You need to realize and accept that you can’t fix everything that is wrong and there are limits to what you can do. Becoming a martyr helps no one. Your role as a primary caregiver is critical enough that your poor health will surely put your elder at risk also. It’s important to decide what’s reasonable for you to do and to assess other aspects of your personal life and see where your role as caregiver fits in. Set boundaries for your role and get help before you reach a breaking point. Getting help doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a caregiver or left a parent to fend for themselves. It just means that something has to change so that you can continue to be useful to the one you love. Have you had to say “no” as a caregiver? Please share your thoughts below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com.

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SAD and the Elderly

During the winter season, you need to be on the lookout for signs of SAD in your elderly loved ones. SAD is the acronym for “seasonal affective disorder”. This is a form of depression usually seen in the late fall and especially in the winter. It is more common in women and those people who live in colder climates which generally get less sunlight and shorter days. SAD is not that typical let-down feeling you get after all the holiday rushing around is over. It lasts for many weeks and is characterized by a loss of energy, lethargy, sadness, increased sleepiness and an increased desire to eat carbohydrates. Doctors and mental health professionals believe that SAD is caused by the shorter days and longer nights of winter which disturb the body’s natural sleep cycle and result in less exposure to sunlight. In addition, the vitamin D that is produced by our bodies is greatly reduced due to the diminished amount of sunlight in the winter season. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to both depression and obesity. Decreased sunlight also increases the level of melatonin in our bodies which in turn increases a tendency to sleepiness and to some extent depression. Seniors are more likely to be affected by these factors since they often are housebound and generally less active outdoors during the cold winter weather. In addition, as they age, their bodies become less efficient in producing vitamin D. If your loved one has SAD, the doctor may prescribe antidepressants but there are non-pharmacological things that can be done to greatly improve your senior’s mood. Using a “light box” for 30 to 45 minutes a day decreases the amount of melatonin that circulates in the body. The light box mimics the light spectrum of natural sunlight and makes up for its shortage in the dark winter days. Be sure to keep blinds and curtains open as much as possible to let in what sunlight there is. Set the chairs and furniture your senior uses in a location closer to windows to take advantage of any sunny days. Be sure they eat foods rich in Vitamin D such as fortified milk, tuna, salmon, mushrooms, and eggs. Check with your doctor as to whether a vitamin D supplement is needed. Perhaps the most natural aid for SAD is simply getting more sunlight. If weather conditions permit and your loved one’s mobility can accommodate it, try to get them outside for a period during daylight hours, particularly on sunny days. Both the sunlight and the exercise can help relieve the symptoms of depression. What have you found to be helpful in dealing with SAD? Please share your thoughts below and visit at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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The Danger of Denial

If you care for an aging parent or loved one you need to be careful that you yourself don’t fall into denial. Denial is actually a strong defense mechanism that you may be using unconsciously to help deal with what you know is coming down the road. Perhaps you come to your loved one’s home daily just to make sure everything is okay. Maybe Mom doesn’t like driving so you take her on all her errands. You’re sure to be there the night before the garbage has to be set out so Dad doesn’t have to do it. And you go back the next day to take the cans in. It snowed last night so you get there in the morning so the snow gets shoveled and Dad doesn’t have to risk falling when he goes out to get the paper. Your loved one has a doctor appointment so you go along as a second set of ears and to pick up the prescription. It’s a lot of extra work in your life and takes up much of your time but so far you’re holding up okay. Does any of this sound familiar? Because you are with your loved one so often, you’ve surely seen changes in how your senior moves, how they function, and what their limitations are as they age. If you are taking on more and more of their activities of daily life, you’re probably in denial that they need help. You may not want to believe that and may dread having a conversation about it with them. If you hold off for a bit longer, perhaps they themselves will realize its time to get help. It can be a difficult and uncomfortable topic so you keep waiting. It’s perfectly normal to deny something unpleasant or frightening but it can prevent us from facing the facts and can in reality be dangerous for our loved ones because denial will keep us from preparing for what’s ahead whether its an accident or the worsening of some chronic condition. Not addressing the issue won’t keep it from happening. Take a realistic look at your loved one’s situation and be careful not to fool yourself into complacency. Making plans and decisions about the future care of your loved one is much easier to do when you’re not in the midst of some medical crisis. How did you come to the realization that your loved one needs some extra care? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Time To Hire A Professional Caregiver?

Hindsight is 20/20 but it’s important not to get to that point when it comes to making care decisions for an elderly parent or loved one. Very often, by the time you’ve made the decision to get some help from a professional caregiver, you’re already past the point of burnout. You’re more exhausted than you ever thought could be possible and you wonder why you didn’t get help sooner. Guilt very often plays a part in your delayed decision because you feel it’s something you should have been able to do for your loved one so they could remain comfortably in their homes as they aged. Your role as caregiver slowly and almost imperceptibly increases and perhaps on a deeper level you don’t want to see that your loved one needs more help than you can give. Be careful not to miss the signs that your parent or loved one can’t go it alone.

*How’s their personal hygiene? Do they bathe regularly or is there an odor about them? Is hair combed and are teeth brushed? Are they wearing the same clothes for days on end?
*Is the house clean and being maintained? Is there a lot of clutter or unopened mail? Is the garbage taken out on a regular schedule? Is there an odor of urine when you step inside?
*Are nutritional needs being taken care of? Is there any spoiled food in the refrigerator? Is there food in the cupboard? Have they lost any weight and are they remembering to eat?
*Is your loved one able to drive safely? Are there any unexplained dings or dents in the car? Do they get to where they’re going without incident? Do they get lost in familiar location or when traveling a route they’ve taken many times before?
*Do they miss any doctor or dentist appointments? Are they able to follow the doctor’s directions? Do they take their medications as prescribed? Do they remember to get prescriptions filled?
*Is your loved one maintaining a social life? Do they stay in contact with friends and relatives or have you become their sole source of human interaction? Have old hobbies or interests gone by the wayside?

If you see some of these changes, it may be time to get some help. There is nothing to be gained from ignoring the signs. Getting some help to keep your loved one safely in the home they want to be in, is truly an act of love. Please share your thoughts and experiences below. http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Hiring a Caregiver Privately?

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, more than 65.7 million Americans provide informal care for a family member or loved one. Most of us come by the role of caregiver gradually. We start by “helping out” when we notice a parent or loved one is having some difficulty taking care of some routine tasks they once managed well. In time our list of responsibilities gets longer and our loved one needs much more help. And then it happens….we see there is so much more to do than we have hours in the day for. Perhaps there’s been a medical crisis or an accident. We realize some outside help is needed.

Once you’ve made the decision to get help, it’s easy to believe all you have to do is hire someone. If you choose to hire someone directly to care for your loved one be sure you know what goes with your new role as employer. This means that now you have switched jobs from “caregiver” to “accountant” because you will now have to take care of payroll and tax requirements since the IRS views you as the caregiver’s employer. According to foxbusiness.com, if the caregiver you hire earns more than $1000 a quarter or over $1900 a year, you’ll have to file payroll taxes including Social Security and Medicare taxes, Federal Unemployment Tax, state unemployment and disability insurance taxes levied on the employer, and advance payments of the earned income credit if your employee is eligible. These thresholds and figures may change yearly so you will need to verify them every year. You also have to know what taxes your employee has to pay and will have to provide a Form W2 to your employee by January 31st of every year. In addition, you’ll need to pay for worker’s compensation and disability insurance in case your caregiver gets hurt while caring for your loved one.

If the caregiver you hire claims to be working as an “independent contractor” and no money should be withheld for any taxes, they are wrong. According to the IRS an independent contractor has total control over their work hours, their responsibilities, and schedules. This does not apply to your employee because the caregiver will be providing the services you want on the schedule and terms you set. Failure on your part to fulfill your accounting duties as the employer of a caregiver will alert the IRS, set you up for an audit, and can even result in compromising your own personal taxes. You’ll have to pay back the unpaid taxes along with interest and possible penalties. Be certain you make the correct decision when hiring a caregiver. Are you prepared to be an accountant in addition to dealing with all the work and responsibility of caring for a loved one? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Mobility Matters!

As we get increasingly older, mobility is really important. And I’m not talking about cell phones. If you think about it, everything you do and every experience you have is very much related to how well you can move about. Movement translates into independence and that in turn reflects on quality of life. As we and our loved ones age it becomes increasingly clear what a devastating effect a simple fall can have on our lives. According to the National Institute of Health there are over 300,000 people admitted to hospitals every year for broken hips which are often caused by falling. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control one out of every three Americans over the age of 65 falls each year. In seniors between the ages of sixty five and eighty four, these falls are responsible for eighty nine percent of fractures they receive. Those are alarming statistics. If you do nothing to stay active and don’t take measures to remain mobile it’s possible to lose up to forty percent of your muscle mass by the time you are eighty years old.

Fortunately, there are things you can do on a daily basis to keep from becoming a statistic. Small changes in your every day life can make a difference. Try to incorporate some of these practices in your routine and you’ll be rewarded with improved mobility and increased strength.

*Use the stairs whenever possible.
*Park you car in a spot further from the store.
*Exercise during TV commercials. You can practice getting up and sitting down or do calf stretches.
*Squeezing a small rubber ball repeatedly with one hand can help improve grip strength.
*Practice standing on one leg while holding on to a chair or standing at the kitchen counter.
*Switch up the way you do your daily activities. Try washing dishes or shaving with the hand you don’t normally use.
*To help improve balance, walk heel to toe down a hallway.
*Practice getting up and down on your tippy toes when reaching for something in the cupboard.

You don’t have to have a lot of free time for exercise sessions. Look around your home to see how you can force yourself to move more. It takes time to build your strength and increase your fitness level so be patient and don’t give up. As you become more mobile you’ll naturally want to do more and will be more inclined to go places and do things. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Do you have any tips for being more active at home? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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The Successful Caregiver

We all come to the role of caregiver in a variety of ways. Some of us are thrust into this role when someone we love has a medical crisis and needs us to care for them until they are better and can return to their former healthy status. Some of us start out by gradually taking on more responsibilities for an aging parent as they become less able to handle daily activities. And then there are those of us who have a family member or loved one who is dealing with a chronic condition or illness and who will always need some extra support. Regardless of how we come by our caregiver role, the goal is always the same. We’re trying to help our loved ones live as independently as possible and with the best quality of life as possible.

Being a caregiver is a very demanding and often stressful job. It takes a lot of physical, emotional, and mental energy and can lead to incredible fatigue, anxiety, illness, and ultimately depression and burnout. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are things you can do to become a more effective and successful caregiver without compromising your own health and well being.

Educate yourself. Take a crash course in your loved one’s illness or condition. Remember the old adage “Knowledge is Power”. This is one of the most important things a caregiver can do. The more you know and understand about what your loved one is dealing with, the more you can successfully handle any challenges or changes in their health. This includes keeping an open line of communication with their doctor or health care team.

Take care of yourself. If you are worn out and/or physically ill, you certainly can’t be much help to anyone else. Being a caregiver is demanding work so you need to eat a nutritious diet, get enough sleep, and get some exercise. Don’t give up a social life. The last thing you need is to become isolated. Know your limits and don’t try to do more than you can in any given day. Be realistic about what you’re trying to get done. Try to schedule some “me-time” to help you relax.

Ask for and accept help. Tap family and friends for any help they can give you no matter how incidental it may seem. If they can run some errands for you or cook a meal, it’ll be less on your plate for a change. Don’t try to do everything by yourself. The goal is to keep from being overwhelmed and feeling trapped. Consider using the services of an experienced home care agency, even if on an occasional basis. This would give you a well needed and deserved break and an opportunity to recharge your battery. Just remember to ask for help before you are overwhelmed. Do you have any tips on being a successful caregiver? What has helped you? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com


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Making the Choice

Once you’ve made the decision to hire an in-home agency to care for your senior or loved one, you’ll realize that it’s easier said than done. How do you begin? Where do you look? What do you need to know? If you know someone who is using an agency, a referral from them is a good place to start. Of course you can check with the Better Business Bureau and local Chamber of Commerce for a list of local agencies. They should also be able to tell you if there are any formal complaints against specific agencies. Simply doing an on-line search will also result in a list of agencies. In addition, your local hospital social worker can make some recommendations too.

So you’ve made all your calls, got your list together, and talked to several agencies. How do you choose between them? On the surface, they seem pretty much alike….they provide similar services at comparable rates. The important issue is “how are they different?” There are some important questions you should ask when you talk with them. Does the agency provide an initial consultation and safety check? If they do, is there a fee involved? What if you decide to go with another agency after their initial assessment? This consultation should be with a Registered Nurse who has years of experience in this type of work.

Double check as to what types of services are actually available. Is the staff comfortable with the more complex levels of care such as dressing changes, catheter tubes and the use of hoyer lifts? Are the caregivers monitored by a Registered Nurse who performs quality assurance checks for the clients and oversees ongoing staff training? How experienced are the caregivers?

An important issue to consider is how accessible is someone if you need an answer to a question or have a problem. Can you actually speak with someone in person or do you have to play phone tag with an answering machine? Along that same vein you need to know how flexible is the agency when it comes to scheduling. If something comes up and you need to cancel an appointment, do you pay a penalty?

Gathering this information from each of the agencies under consideration will help you make your decision. For a handy printable check off list addressing these same questions and more just visit our website at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com and go to the client education tab and click the link to Questions To Ask When Selecting A Home Care Agency.

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