Hillendale Home Care is licensed by the State of California to provide Certified Nursing training courses for Contra Costa and Alameda Counties.

How to Tell if a Senior Is Suffering from Loss of Vision

loss of visionDiscussing health issues can be tough for seniors. They may feel that their health is private, or they might be fearful that admitting that they have a problem will lead to loss of independence. This is often the case when it comes to vision loss.

A senior who is suffering from loss of vision may do her best to hide the issue from family and friends. For family and friends, it is helpful to know how to identify changes in behavior and appearance that might indicate a senior should visit her doctor or eye care professional. Keep an eye out for these red flags that could be symptoms of vision loss:

  • Bumping into objects, tripping, moving very carefully or touching the wall while walking
  • Visual confusion (i.e. not recognizing buildings, landmarks, houses, etc.) in a familiar place
  • Under-reaching or over-reaching for objects
  • Ceasing enjoyable activities such as reading, watching TV, driving, walking, or participating in hobbies
  • Tilting the head or squinting to see, or holding reading material close to the face
  • Struggling to identify faces, objects or colors
  • Stained clothing or outfit color combinations that do not match
  • Seeking out more or different kinds of lighting for reading or other activities
  • Having trouble cutting or serving food, or knocking over objects in the kitchen or on the table

Additionally, if the senior complains about the following, it could be a sign of vision loss:

  • Halos or rings around lights, or seeing spots
  • Eye pain
  • Reduced night vision, double or distorted vision

Loss of vision doesn’t have to mean loss of independence. As a Hillendale Home Care provider, you can help seniors with vision loss live safer and more independent lives. If you would like to learn more about becoming a Hillendale Home Care CNA, click here for more information.

Understanding and Caregiving for Adults With Disabilities

Adults with DisabilitiesAdults with disabilities not only face physical challenges, but social ones as well. As a result, they may often feel as though people are “talking down” to them or making incorrect assumptions about their abilities.

The tips below can help professional caregivers communicate better and more respectfully with adults with disabilities:

  • Avoid judgment about a person’s disability. Just because someone is in a wheelchair, that doesn’t mean he or she is paralyzed, and just because a person has a speech impediment doesn’t mean he or she has a cognitive impairment.
  • Instead of speaking to the person’s family member or caretaker, speak directly to the disabled person and make eye contact with him or her while speaking.
  • If it is difficult to understand what the person is saying, ask him or her for clarification. Don’t just pretend that you understood.
  • Always respect the person’s personal space. Avoid leaning on assistive devices or touching a service animal unless you receive permission to do so.
  • Don’t patronize or talk down to the person.
  • Exercise patience.
  • Offer assistance, but also respect the person’s ability to perform tasks on his or her own.
  • Do not assume the person cannot participate in an activity. Always give him or her the benefit of the doubt. You may be surprised!

Additionally, Hillendale’s caregivers know that remaining safe and happy in the home is important to clients with disabilities. Here are just a few ways our CNAs can improve the quality of life for seniors and those with disabilities.


Exercise and activity are important for maintaining the best health. Work with the physicians and other care providers to devise and implement an exercise plan that will best benefit the disabled person.


A healthy diet is extremely important for everyone, regardless of ability, but often, disabled individuals need to adhere to special diets. With guidance from the physician, caregivers can create a meal plan that will best meet the client’s needs.


One of the biggest benefits for people who cannot drive themselves is to have a caregiver who can help them stay active in the community by driving them to and from appointments, accompany them on public transportation, run errands, provide transportation to social events and enjoy fun day outings.

At Hillendale Home Care, we take great care to treat each of our Walnut Creek area home care clients with the utmost respect and dignity. If you would like to learn more about becoming a Hillendale Home Care CNA, click here for more information.


Take These Steps for Better Diabetes Foot Care

diabetes foot careOne of the most crucial aspects of diabetes care, aside from managing the disease itself, is ensuring feet remain free of the problems that can lead to serious health risks. Since improper foot care can lead to the potential for nerve damage, restricted blood flow, and even a weakened immune system, wounds, especially those that occur on the feet, can require extra care to heal.

To make sure those with diabetes stay a step ahead of foot problems, try these strategies from the American Diabetes Association:

  1. Keep diabetes in check: Stay on top of overall diabetes care with health care professionals, such as by making sure blood glucose levels are in the appropriate range.
  2. Check feet each day: It should be part of the daily routine to inspect the bottoms of the feet for any red spots, cuts, swelling, blisters, etc.
  3. Remain active: With the advice and approval of the physician, implement – and stick to – an effective exercise regimen.
  4. Seek out specialized footwear: There are shoes made specifically for diabetic feet, and Medicare will sometimes even cover the expense.
  5. Make sure feet stay clean: Carefully wash and dry the feet every day, paying particular attention to the areas between the toes.
  6. Take care of the skin: Apply a light layer of skin lotion on both the tops and bottoms of the feet (but never between the toes).
  7. Clip toenails: Keep toenails clipped straight across, and file the edges carefully with an emery board.
  8. Avoid going barefoot: Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes at all times.
  9. Keep it warm: Treat your feet the same way you would a baby, by checking water temperatures before stepping into the tub or shower, and avoiding the use of heating pads, hot water bottles, and electric blankets.
  10. Increase blood flow: Avoid crossing the legs for extended periods of time, elevate the feet when sitting, and take time throughout the course of the day to wiggle the toes and flex the ankles.

For additional tips on proper foot care for those with diabetes, call on the Walnut Creek home care experts at Hillendale Home Care. Learn more about how our caregivers assist those with diabetes and other chronic conditions with in-home care services such as bathing/showering, dressing/grooming, mobility, homemaker/companion services to offer emotional support, recreational activities, light housekeeping and laundry, and much more, customized to each person’s unique needs. Interested in becoming a Hillendale caregiver? Contact us at 925-933-8181 to learn more.


Is It Dementia or Depression? Here’s How to Find Out.

dementiaA dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, can manifest with symptoms that are very close to some of those experienced in depression, such as cognitive decline – making it difficult to know how to best provide care. At Hillendale Home Care, we understand the challenges caregivers face when trying to determine the right course of action. The first step to take when cognitive issues are noticed is to discern, with the help of the senior’s family and physician, whether depression or dementia is at play, and then to begin the appropriate treatment.

Regardless of whether the cognitive decline is a result of dementia or depression, proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial. If the cause for the decline is depression, treating the depression effectively will result in restored memory, concentration and energy levels. Proper treatment for dementia can also improve quality of life, and in some forms of dementia, symptoms can even be reversed or at least slowed.

A good tool to is a memory screening. Memory screenings make sense for those who:

  • Are noticing the warning signs of dementia;
  • Have had family and friends notice changes in his or her behavior;
  • Believes he or she may be at risk due to a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other type of dementia; or
  • May not have an immediate concern presently, but wants to establish a baseline score for future comparison.

Additionally, anyone answering “yes” to any of the questions below may benefit from a memory screening as well:

  • Do I seem to be more forgetful lately?
  • Am I having trouble concentrating?
  • Am I experiencing difficulty with performing familiar tasks?
  • Do I sometimes struggle to recall words or names in conversation?
  • Have I ever forgotten where I am?
  • Have friends or family members told me that I am repeating myself?
  • Am I losing or misplacing items more frequently?
  • Have I gotten lost while walking or driving in a familiar area?
  • Are my family or friends noticing changes in my mood, personality, behavior or interest in engaging in activities?

Note that a memory screening cannot diagnose a certain illness and is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified physician or other healthcare professional. For more resources on caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s, or to receive more information about our employment opportunities for caregivers, visit www.hillendale.net or give us a call at 925-933-8181.

Caring for Seniors Throughout All Stages of Alzheimer’s

Stages of Alzheimer'sProviding care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can feel like trying to solve a constantly changing puzzle. Once you find the solution to one piece, you discover that the image has suddenly changed, and you have to rethink things all over again.

Trying to figure out the puzzle of Alzheimer’s care requires continuous education in the many facets of Alzheimer’s disease support. The following tips, courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association, can help caregivers establish care strategies throughout the stages of Alzheimer’s:

  • Early Stages: Caregivers can best help clients with Alzheimer’s through assisting with family planning, offering a patient, calm, listening ear and memory prompts when needed. Strategies may include:
    • Being a care advocate for the senior and his or her family, offering emotional assistance and encouragement.
    • Helping the family plan for the long-term.
    • Offering memory prompts, establishing a daily schedule, and helping the person stay healthy and participate in enjoyed activities.
  • Middle Stages: During this phase, care techniques will be focused on the person’s adaptabilities, patience and day-to-day structure. Strategies may include:
    • Maintaining daily routines and structure.
    • Improving quality of life with shared activities.
    • Promoting as much self-reliance as possible, but being prepared to help as needed.
  • Later Stages: During the later stages of Alzheimer’s, care should be focused on preserving dignity and quality of life while maintaining a safe and healthy environment. Strategies may include:
    • Remaining connected and expressing care through touch, sound, sight, taste and smell.
    • Providing increased support with activities of daily living, and with alleviating body pressure if the individual is bedridden.
    • Being aware of unspoken cues such as paleness, swelling, agitation or facial expressions that can identify discomfort.

Caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease requires compassion, patience, and knowledge of ever-evolving care tactics. If you are interested in assistance with providing care to seniors throughout all stages of Alzheimer’s disease, contact Hillendale Home Care of Walnut Creek, California. We fully support our caregiving team through ongoing training and CEU offerings to help you keep your CNA or HHA license current.


Stroke Recovery Tips: How to Modify the Home Post-Stroke

Stroke Care Recovering from a stroke can be both physically and emotionally overwhelming, and the only thing a stroke survivor wants to do is return home to his or her everyday life. However, since more than two-thirds of stroke survivors have some form of disability (per the National Stroke Association), modifications to the home may be necessary to make life easier and safer for a client who is recovering from a stroke.

There are some simple steps that we can take to make the home safer and more accessible for a stroke survivor. Below is a checklist of items to use when assessing the home that can be used to make suggestions to the client:

Fall Prevention:

As many as 40% of stroke survivors experience serious falls within the year following their strokes. Check the following to prevent trips and falls in the home:

  • Hallways and pathways to the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen should all be clear so the person can move to and from these high traffic areas easily
  • Stair glides or platform lifts are recommended to help the client move safely up and down stairs
  • Loose rugs and throw rugs should be removed, or firmly secured to the floor
  • Grab bars should be installed in the shower or bathtub and beside the toilet
  • A tub bench or shower chair makes bathing easier and safer
  • Non-slip mats should be placed both inside and outside of the tub

Laundry Safety:

Laundry tasks require a great deal of lifting, reaching, ducking and pulling that can be challenging for those who have suffered a stroke. These changes can help:

  • Washer and dryer should be moved to an easily accessible location in the person’s home
  • Stackable, front-loading washing machines and dryers may be easier to utilize
  • Detergents and other laundry supplies should be stored in an easy-to-reach spot
  • An ironing board that folds down from the wall is a safer option than a free-standing one

Bedroom Safety:

The stroke survivor’s bedroom should be a place that he or she feels safe, relaxed and comfortable in. Consider these tips:

  • A light switch near the bed can help prevent falls from stumbling in the dark
  • Clothing and personal items should be reorganized to make them easier to access; for example, placing the most commonly used items in drawers that are easiest to reach
  • A commode chair near the bed makes bathroom needs easier to manage at nighttime

Clients who have survived a stroke can be offered a free in-home assessment to improve the safety of their home as they recover, and to reduce the risk of re-hospitalization. Check with your supervisor if you believe this would be beneficial for your client.


Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Appropriate Responses to Inappropriate Behavior

Alzheimer's CaregiverAlzheimer’s is a complex disease that often presents complex issues for Alzheimer’s caregivers. As the disease progresses, people with Alzheimer’s increasingly tend to communicate through behavior instead of speech, and oftentimes these behaviors can be of an inappropriate nature. For example, people with more advanced Alzheimer’s disease may exhibit the following:

  • Aggression and agitation
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior such as:
    • Undressing or touching themselves in public
    • Using vulgar or obscene language
    • Jealous accusations that a spouse is having an affair
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression

These behaviors can be embarrassing or troubling for Alzheimer’s caregivers, but they can also be very confusing and frustrating for the person with Alzheimer’s, as he or she most likely doesn’t understand why the behavior is considered inappropriate or why it is upsetting to others.

As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, it’s important to remember that any troubling behaviors the senior shows are the result of the disease — or possibly other health issues or medications — not a reflection of the person’s character. Also, often what seems like sexually inappropriate behavior is really an expression of a non-sexual need, such as a need to use the restroom or a need for closeness.

If you cannot figure out a reason for the senior’s behavior, try these responses:

  • Redirect the person to a favorite hobby or activity such as listening to music or looking through a family photo album.
  • Calmly, but promptly, find a private area like a restroom or changing area if the senior feels the need to undress in public.
  • Respond to feelings of loneliness or a need for closeness with a caring pat or a hug and soothing conversation.
  • Try increasing the amount of exercise or activity the person gets.
  • Consider practical solutions; for inappropriate disrobing, buy special clothes designed with fasteners in the back for this specific reason, or try putting trousers or dresses on backwards.

When responding to challenging behavior:

  • Respond calmly and matter-of-factly. Arguing with or embarrassing the person can exacerbate the situation; try to be gentle and patient.
  • Don’t overreact in either direction. Providing too much affection may encourage unwanted sexual behavior, while yelling or shaming may frighten or confuse the person further.
  • Find a solution, whether it is a new setting that does not allow for the behavior to be a cause of concern, or a new activity that distracts from the behavior altogether.

Becoming an Alzheimer’s caregiver is a challenging, yet extremely rewarding career. If you are interested in helping seniors with Alzheimer’s disease live their best lives at home, contact Hillendale Home Care of Walnut Creek, California. We fully support our caregiving team through ongoing training and CEU offerings to help you keep your CNA or HHA license current. Contact us any time to learn more by calling 925-933-8181.

Getting Creative with Colors to Help Clients with Low Vision

low visionPerhaps of all our senses, vision is the one we appreciate the most. So much of what we experience in the world around us comes through what we see. Our vision also serves to help enhance our safety. Compromised vision can make it more difficult to see dangers and obstacles as we navigate the world around us, both inside and outside of the home.

If you are caregiving for a client who struggles with reduced vision – also known as low vision – strategic use of colors and contrasts can enhance his or her safety and independence. It’s not as difficult as it might seem. Basically:

  • Bright, solid colors like orange, red, and yellow reflect the most light and thus are easiest to see.
  • Light-colored objects placed against darker backgrounds provide better contrast. For example, placing a white sheet of paper on a brown desktop stands out more than on a tan surface.
  • Likewise, dark objects are easier to see against light backgrounds. A dark colored chair will stand out best against light colored walls.
  • When arranging furniture and other objects in a room, bear in mind that some colors are so similar that distinguishing between them can be difficult. The most common problem color groups are:
    • Navy blue, black and brown
    • Blue, purple and green
    • Pink, pale green and yellow
  • Placing light-reflecting tape or bright paint on the leading edge of the first and last steps helps them stand out.
  • Hallway runners in solid, bright colors help to clearly define walking spaces.

Naturally, prior to making any changes in the home of an older adult with low vision, it’s essential to keep that person’s feelings and wishes in mind. Someone dealing with vision loss is likely to be struggling through a variety of fears, including a lowered sense of control over his or her life, fear of losing independence and privacy, and concern that others may view him or her differently. He or she may also be experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed or anxious about the future and reluctant to share thoughts. Being sensitive to these feelings instead of simply dismissing them can make a tremendous impact.

If you are interested in helping seniors with low vision to enjoy a higher quality of life, contact Hillendale Home Care of Walnut Creek, California. We fully support our caregiving team through ongoing training and CEU offerings to help you keep your CNA or HHA license current. Contact us any time to learn more by calling 925-933-8181.


Learn the Stages and Symptoms of ALS from Hillendale Home Care

symptoms of ALSReceiving a diagnosis of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) can bring up a lot of questions and concerns, for both the individual diagnosed and his or her family members. What causes ALS? What are the symptoms of ALS now, and how will they change in the years to come? Where can I go to find needed support?

As many as 30,000 Americans are currently diagnosed with ALS, and nearly 5,600 new patients are diagnosed with the disease every year. And although the ultimate cause is unclear, some studies point to puzzling risk factors, such as a doubled risk of ALS in veterans who served during the Gulf War

Although each person can experience ALS differently from others, the progression of the disease does seem to follow certain stages. Understanding these stages can help those with ALS and those who care for them implement the most appropriate plan of care.

Early Stages

  • Symptoms of ALS may be noticed only in a one particular area of the body
  • However, milder symptoms may affect more than that one region
  • For some individuals, the first affected muscles are those used for speaking, swallowing or breathing

Possible Symptoms:

  • Poor balance
  • Fatigue
  • Slurring of speech
  • Weakened grip
  • Stumbling when walking

Middle Stages

  • Some particular muscles may be paralyzed, while others are weakened or completely unaffected
  • Symptoms of ALS are now more widespread
  • Twitching may be evident

Possible Symptoms:

  • Challenges in standing up unassisted
  • Trouble with eating and swallowing, which can result in choking
  • Difficulty breathing, especially when lying down
  • Possible uncontrolled and inappropriate laughing or crying, known as the pseudobulbar affect (PBA)

Late Stages

  • The individual with ALS needs full assistance to care for his/her needs
  • Speaking may no longer be possible
  • The person can no longer eat or drink by mouth

Possible Symptoms:

  • Paralysis in most voluntary muscles
  • Breathing is severely compromised, resulting in fatigue, unclear thinking, headaches and susceptibility to pneumonia
  • Mobility is severely impacted

Receiving care from a professional in-home caregiver, such as Hillendale Home Care of Walnut Creek, California provides, can improve quality of life for individuals during any stage of ALS. Our professional caregivers work with families to create an individualized plan of care, allowing those experiencing symptoms of ALS to maintain dignity and the highest possible level of independence at all times. Interested in becoming a caregiver for Hillendale? Contact us at 925-933-8181 to learn more.

What a Certified Nurse’s Aide Does in Walnut Creek CA

A certified nurse’s aide has a vast array of duties to keep their patients comfortable and healthy. The tasks may change on a day-to-day basis depending on the care and needs of the patient. Some of the duties, which a Certified Nurse’s Aide may perform, are:Certified Nurse’s Aide in Walnut Creek CA

  1. Measuring the patient’s vital signs, which would include his or her temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate and respiration. A Certified Nurses Aide may also assist with a patient’s daily living activities. This would include dressing, bathing, eating, brushing of teeth and using the bathroom.
  2. Collecting urine or stool samples, which would be needed for certain, tests by physicians and laboratory technicians. He or she would also record any of the patient’s health concerns and provide information in reports for the nurses to review.
  3. If the patient were in a wheelchair, walker or other equipment that would limit mobility, he or she would reposition and transfer the patient as needed.
  4. Doing tasks, which would include making the patient’s bed, changing any necessary bedpans, replacing bed linens and towels and collecting dirty laundry.
  5. Educating patients on range of motion exercises. Also showing him or her stretches to relieve pain and to improve functioning.
  6. Performing CPR and other safety techniques if needed in emergency situations.

Certified Nursing Aides are not just here for helping patients and providing assessments, but for their emotional support as well. And because the CNA works with the patient daily, the CNA comes to know the patient and can have friendly conversations and interactions, which are good for the patient’s mental wellbeing.

All in all the CNA makes sure that the care needed is provided within the bounds of the job. He or she monitors the response to the care received, records any observations and listens to any concerns that the patient may have about his or her health or on other issues. The aide also makes sure that the patient’s room is clean, sanitary and disinfected for optimal patient care and comfort. If the patient is bedridden, the aide can turn and reposition him or her on a schedule, to prevent bedsores and for comfort.

Certified Nursing Aides provide the link between the hospital and full patient recovery at home. It’s winning situation for all involved.

If you would like to start a rewarding career in the home care services field, contact Hillendale Home Care today and inquire about their CNA classes and CEU offerings.

Hillendale CNA and HHA School. Hillendale Home Care is licensed by the State of California to provide Certified Nursing training courses for Contra Costa and Alameda Counties.