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

Small Adjustments Make a Big Difference in Senior Vision

Concord home care

Learn how to improve senior vision with these tips.

Vision is important to us; it allows us to see the beautiful faces of our loved ones, witness a sparkling sunset, and to take care of our day-to-day needs without a second thought. In essence, vision plays a big role in helping us stay independent and self-sufficient, and the idea of losing our sight can be frightening.

Senior vision naturally declines with age, and in order to help older adults stay independent, it is important to make some small adjustments around the home that can make a senior’s life much easier and safer. A good rule of thumb when making home modifications to accommodate senior vision is to pay special attention to the basic concepts of lighting, color and contrast. Try making a few of these minor modifications:

General Lighting

  • Ensure that there is adequate lighting throughout the home. If possible, install extra lighting in entryways, hallways, and at the top and bottom of each staircase to eliminate shadows or excessively bright areas.
  • Install fluorescent ceiling fixtures for general room lighting, supplemented with LED, or halogen lighting in desk lamps, table lamps, and floor fixtures.
  • Use a bedside lamp that can be easily turned on by either clapping or touching the base.
  • Use light colored lampshades to allow the maximum transmission of light without glare.
  • Install flexible-arm lamps wherever needed for reading or identifying clothing and medication.

Kitchen

  • Use white plates on a dark tablecloth, or place dark dishes on a white or light-colored cloth. If possible, avoid using clear glass cups and dishes.
  • Use brightly colored, raised marking dots on the stove, oven, and microwave controls to allow for easier adjustments.
  • Use a reversible black and white cutting board to provide contrast. For example, lightly colored vegetables like onions and potatoes will show up more clearly on the black side, while the white side will provide greater contrast with dark green veggies like kale and green peppers.

Bathroom

  • When towels, washcloths, and bath mats need replacing, purchase solid colors that contrast with the tub, floor, and wall tile.
  • Transfer soap, shampoo, and other bath products to brightly colored plastic bottles or wall-mounted containers that contrast with the tub and wall tile.
  • Replace a white toilet seat with a brightly colored one that contrasts with the walls and fixtures.

Helping seniors live safely and independently at home is the mission or our Concord home care experts. To learn more about how we can help improve senior vision at home through simple home modifications or to learn how to become an in home caregiver through our CNA and HHA program, contact us today.

Top Tips for Providing Better In-Home Care for ALS Patients

In-Home Care for ALS

In-home care tips to help caregivers better care for ALS.

As a neurodegenerative disease, ALS (sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s Disease) can result in a number of physical challenges that can lead to depression. For caregivers providing in-home care for ALS patients, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and feel unsure how to best help the person live life to the fullest and remain optimistic.

When it comes to providing in-home care for ALS, it is important for caregivers to understand the struggles that the disease presents so they can provide better care. Hillendale Home Care’s CNA School has put together the following strategies to help caregivers provide the best care for people with ALS:

  • People with muscle diseases like ALS are capable thinkers even if they can’t communicate clearly. Discuss choices openly and make joint decisions regarding the person’s care.
  • Ask if the person wants help before helping. Try not to take over tasks that still can be performed if the person is given adaptive devices and time.
    Patience is key. While it may often seem faster and easier for you to take over certain tasks, be patient and let the person complete the tasks that he or she can.
  • Set up a computer and Internet access. Computers and other assistive technologies provide entertainment and social interaction and enable the person with muscle disease to help with tasks such as paying bills, tracking down information, hiring services, and grocery shopping.
  • Use adaptive devices. The use of assistive equipment like wheelchairs is a move toward independence, not away from it. Adaptive devices are available for many everyday tasks such as eating, opening jars and doors, buttoning or zipping up clothing, writing and taking a bath.

For people with ALS, independence and exceptional care are vital. The in home care experts at Hillendale Home Care of Walnut Creek, CA are fully trained to help provide the care and assistance needed to ensure people with ALS live their best lives, and their family members receive the respite they need. If you would like to train to become a CNA and provide care for people with ALS, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic conditions, contact us today to learn more.

Providing Top Tier Care Throughout the 5 Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson's DiseaseAccording to the Parkinson’s Foundation, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, and more than 10 million people worldwide are living with the disease. Although each individual’s experience with Parkinson’s disease is unique, there are typically five stages of progression that most people go through. As a home health aide or CNA caring for individuals with Parkinson’s, understanding these five stages can help you provide more informed and better overall care.

Stage 1: Also known as early-stage Parkinson’s, a person in stage 1 typically exhibits only mild signs or symptoms that may present as follows:

  • Tremor and other movement symptomsoccur on one side of the body only
  • Symptoms are concerning, but not disabling
  • Changes in posture, walking and facial expressions occur

Stage 2: In stage 2 of Parkinson’s, it may become more apparent that the individual is struggling to complete everyday tasks:

  • Symptoms now may be apparent on both sides of the body
  • The person is slightly disabled, and may be experiencing ambulatory or balance problems
  • Posture is impacted and daily tasks are more difficult

Stage 3: The third stage is known as moderate Parkinson’s disease, and a greater level of disability is often noted, including:

  • A marked slowing of body movements
  • Falls become more common as balance and mobility are further impacted
  • Activities such as dressing and eating may become more significantly impaired

Stage 4: Parkinson’s disease is more advanced in stage 4, and is accompanied by more severe symptoms, such as:

  • Bradykinesia and rigidity, or lethargic movements
  • Loss of ability to complete daily tasks
  • Inability to walk without the use of a walker

Stage 5: This final stage of Parkinson’s is the most advanced and debilitating:

  • The person will experience an overall decrease in vitality and strength of both mind and body
  • He or she may require a wheelchair or be bedridden
  • Hallucinations or delusions may be experienced
  • One-on-one care is required

While symptoms and disease progression are unique to each person, knowing the typical stages of Parkinson’s allows home health aides to provide better care. Caring for a person who has Parkinson’s disease requires empathy, patience, and well-rounded care training. For additional tips on caring for a client with Parkinson’s disease, or for information on CNA training or HHA classes, contact Hillendale Home Care.

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

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.

Meals

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.

Transportation

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.