Caregiving Tools

Sponsored by With a Little Help in Partnership with:Care Partners and the Alzheimer's Association CLICK HERE to Register Today for With a Little Help's 3rd Annual Conference As part of our commitment to provide excellent training for our caregivers and community, we have put together an exciting...

With a Little Help’s friend and colleague, Don Desonier is, among other wonderful things, an Elder Care Mediation expert who works locally here in Seattle. He recommended this article to us and we thought we'd share it with you. Elder and Family Mediation Services by Arline Kardasis...

care conf THANK YOU to everyone who attended and participated in this event. Your efforts made this a wonderful conference. With A Little Help is proud to present and participate in many events throughout the year. Want to stay informed? See our calendar  and/or "like" us on Facebook.   Are you a caregiver, care manager, or professional that works with older adults? Are you caring for a parent or partner? With A Little Help's 2nd annual Care Conference is packed with valuable resources and information. Workshops are affordable and led by many of Seattle's best authorities on topics ranging from End of Life Decisions to Geriatric Oral Health. Want basic tips on Dementia care or the nitty gritty on low vision aids? Looking for ways to stem those scam phone calls or tips for saving your back during transfers? This conference's workshops offer great speakers presenting pragmatic strategies for anyone engaged in caregiving or serving older adults. Join us Wednesday and Thursday March 9 and 10 at the North Seattle Community College campus for a few laughs and lots of great information.
If you're reading this blog chances are you're a professional or family caregiver. You know how difficult holidays can be. They impact both the caregiver and the one needing care differently but each usually feel added stress. Planning ways to ease the stress is as important as planning a holiday meal or gifts to exchange. This year, as 12% of Washington families prepare to celebrate with someone who has dementia or a serious illness, helping organizations are gearing up to guide families in ways to make the holidays easier and more inclusive for loved ones in their care.
Are you a family caregiver? I am. In fact, With A Little Help's average staff age is 51 so several of our professional caregivers and office staff members also have family caregiving experience. Understanding both situations strengthens empathy for the natural differences in perspective of client and client's family. I originally conceived of this blog, featuring the challenges and coping mechanisms of four family caregivers, because I was curious about the issues other people encounter in family caregiving and I hoped to gain understanding that would help all readers caring for a loved one. What I found was that these narratives helped me as much in my professional caregiving career as they have in the care of my own mother. I hope you enjoy these four honest and inspiring stories. andrewAndrew Cohen, of Coho Accounting, provides care for his mother. His biggest challenge was preparing emotionally for her journey into dementia. A bright, resourceful and independent spirit, his mother learned she had Parkinson's 12 1/2 years ago but kept it in abeyance for 9 years during which Andrew was able to prepare himself for Parkinson's inevitable physical progressions.  Not all Parkinson's patients develop dementia but when Andrew's mother started experiencing symptoms it put added stress on their ability to negotiate her care and, at times, strained their communication. Where does he turn for support? "I try to remember the good times," Andrew told me. He also receives important guidance from a dear friend who is a hospice nurse and talks to friends about their own family caregiving situations...his "ad hoc support group."  Most remarkably, he founded his business, Coho Accounting, as a result of his experience with his mother's need for fiduciary support. He works now with client families going through situations similar to his own. What has he learned? Three main things: Really listen. Don't disagree with your mother (or with anyone experiencing dementia). Be willing to have difficult and honest conversations.
More than 800,000 people in Washington  are family caregivers. Nationally that number is 65 million according to the Caregiver Action Network. Yet these big numbers don't tell the whole story. Caregiving has changed. Advanced medicine and better treatments for chronic illness means that loved ones are experiencing longer lives and richer programmatic opportunities which, in turn, requires sustained caregiving lasting 5 to 10 years or more. Caregivers are being asked to manage complex medical maintenance or navigate the long term care system while simultaneously trying to keep their own lives stable and balanced. It can be overwhelming. One of the strongest caregiver support programs available nationwide is called Powerful Tools for Caregivers. "I'm one of Powerful Tools' biggest fans," social worker and Powerful Tools facilitator Carin Mack confessed. "Powerful Tools is a 6 week free intensive program that offers family caregivers the opportunity to learn new strategies for self care within a caring community," she said. Classes, held once a week, enhance caregivers' self-care, emotional balance, coping skills, and confidence. In particular, Mack noted, "The group offers ways to handle some of the most difficult emotions experienced in caregiving such as guilt, depression, anger, frustration and grief. It offers new

I first encountered "Dotty's Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person Living With Dementia" when it was published within a blog at The Art of Alzheimer's in July of this year. Authored by Dorothy DeMarco and originally appearing at the Alzheimer's Reading room Dotty's Ten...

[caption id="attachment_2372" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Laughing at Ida Culver Laughing at Ida Culver[/caption] You may have noticed, on our calendar, that Ballard Senior Center features a free class in Laughter Yoga (LY) every Thursday. Maybe you've encountered Laughter Yoga in one of Seattle's assisted living settings,  in a corporate context, on the curriculum at Bastyr University, Bellevue college or the campus of University of Washington. Laughter Yoga is embraced and offered in many venues because it's fun and healing and you don't have to be in a good mood to reap its benefits! Find relaxation, improve your blood pressure, boost your immune system, and reduce stress while you laugh. LY exercises are suitable for all ages and require no equipment... just you, your stamina, and your willingness to try it. [caption id="attachment_2439" align="alignright" width="314"]laughter at the hub Verde and class at TheHub[/caption] Laughter Yoga is fun and playful yet, as Teresa Verde, a pioneer, of Laughter Yoga in Seattle and Certified Laughter teacher since 2001, explains, "This is a vigorous exercise. It is basically a "laughter workout." Is Laughter Yoga good for elders? I asked. Yes. Laughter increases energy by oxygenating the system and triggering the "happiness factor."  Keys to a positive experience? Being open to new things, having some level of stamina, and participating in a group that embraces the idea.  Caregivers? Laughter Yoga is also good for you. It relieves stress, can be practiced in the moment, and promotes wellness.
B. Bartja Wachtel spoke to a packed crowd of caregivers at DSHS's Giving Care, Taking Care conference. They were there to hear about what some call techniques, skills, or methods  for easing on-the-job stress, but Bartja calls them, "ways of being in the moments of suffering." Wachtel, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Mental Health Professional, and Child Mental Health Specialist, and Mindful Self-Compassion Trained Teacher led the group through sometimes moving and deeply effective meditations that can be practiced in moments of difficult feelings or in-the-moment caregiving stress. Mindfulness Self-Compassion (MSC) practices can be brief or more involved.  Do it in 3 minutes or devote your lunch break. To begin, simply settle into a comfortable position. You may have time to do a 2 minute body scan (a check in on you and where you are in the moment) or perhaps you can manage only a few deep slow breaths into the present moment. Put your hand over your heart to bring affection into your awareness if you like then continue. On a difficult day, maybe you can find 7 minutes for a  Self-Compassionate Break?  If not, Dr. Kristin Neff, researcher, co-developer of  MSC curriculum and narrator of the Self-Compassionate Break audio,  says, this can be used in the heat of the moment. It's a portable, powerful and flexible tool for managing the stress of difficult emotions.