With A Little Help Tag

-Painting by Joan Dolan The Artist Within exhibit, featuring 51 artworks created by 43 different artists ages 60-101 opened at the Harborview Medical Center Cafeteria March 10, 2016 after garnering rave reviews at the Anne Focke Gallery during January and February. The thought provoking and profoundly...

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
Falls are the leadiCaution signsng cause of injury-related hospitalization for older adults. If you're 65 years of age or over you have a 1 in 3 chance of falling. More than 12,000 people in Washington are hospitalized for a fall each year causing skilled nursing stays,  loss of independence and fatalities at disturbing rates. So, starting now, September 23rd, National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, please take a minute to consider the information offered to help you and your loved ones  stay safe from falls. Falls aren't a normal part of aging. For the most part they're preventable which means that your awareness and proactive decisions make a difference. The risk factors that cause falls are known and can be addressed in three steps:
blooming-front4Home Care agency professionals and service providers gathered at the 9th Annual Washington Home Care Association's "Blooming With The Boomers" Conference Tuesday at the Lynnwood Convention Center. Record numbers of home care professionals and service providers attended. During the two day event, September 15 and 16, participants exchanged information about best practices and strategies for managing business while also learning how policies and laws are shaping home care. With A Little Help's Director of Business Development, Shawn D'Amelio, who chaired the Conference Committee for last year's successful event, leads the Committee again this year.
"Today, grandparents continue serving as quiet heroes in every corner of our country. From reading bedtime stories to their grandchildren to volunteering in their communities to acting as primary caregivers, they work hard each and every day while showing love and kindness to their families and those around them. Let us continue to show them the same, and let us forever honor their tremendous efforts to nurture, guide, and drive us in all we do."   obamaThose are the words of President Barack Obama in his 2015 proclamation of Grandparents Day, September 13th. Obama speaks from experience. He, President Clinton, and several other famous and successful people grew up
marathon-runners-1024x681Do you run? Walk? Bicycle? If you do, you're part of the reason that Seattle consistently ranks in the top ten fittest cities. If you need some motivation to join the crowd the National Institute on Aging has launched an annual program called Go 4 Life. Go 4 Life promotes physical activity to improve quality of life for older adults. This isn't just about urging couch potatoes to move this is a drive to bring exercise to everyone whether you have arthritis, live with dementia, suffer depression, experience low vision, or just feel too busy. Tap into the movement and improve your health--- it's Go 4 Life month!
This guest post is authored by McKenna Grimsby, Marketing Chair for the Alzheimer's Association Washington Chapter Seattle Walk. alz banner The Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's is the world's largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's care, support and research. Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide and 16 locations in our region, this inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to reclaim the future for millions.
Breath Deep Seattle and Obliteride events have success in raising funds for cancer research. 100% of Obliteride's profits go to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center while Breath Deep Seattle raises money for the LUNGevity Foundation, a grant making entity supporting lung cancer research and education. "Look, everyone has been affected by cancer in some way shape or form," concludes the narrator of a video advertising Obliteride. Teams hopped on bicycles or took a stand with their own two feet  joining others the weekend of August 8 and 9 to raise money and awareness for needed cancer research. It's too late to participate but it's not to late to donate.
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.