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

The Best Advice for Professional Caregivers Providing Cancer Care

group of women beating breast cancer

Sometimes, the best advice for caregivers when caring for someone with cancer is simply to be present.

Being given a diagnosis of cancer is life-changing, and having a strong network of support is vitally important. When someone in your care is undergoing cancer treatment, you may feel uncertain about how to provide the best support without overstepping boundaries or making the person feel uncomfortable for any reason. Sometimes the best advice for caregivers in this situation is the following.

  1. Be there. Simply being present, to listen, talk, and even laugh together when appropriate, can be uplifting to someone who wants to maintain a sense of normalcy in spite of the diagnosis.
  2. Pay attention to meals. Cancer treatment, such as chemo and radiation, can cause exhaustion, so it often becomes difficult to prepare meals. It can also impact how food tastes. Ask the person in your care what foods he or she might find appetizing, and then plan and prepare meals accordingly. It may take some trial and error to find what is most appealing.
  3. Find out exactly what the person needs. Many times, someone with cancer or another chronic condition will hear from friends and family, “Let me know if you need anything!” It’s then up to the person with the condition to determine what’s needed, and to reach out to those who offered. As a professional caregiver, be sure to find out specifically what will help the person. One day, it may be household chores, laundry, and meals, but on another day, he or she may want more time for companionship and fun activities to provide a welcome distraction.
  4. Become educated. Learn as much as you can about the type of cancer the person has been diagnosed with to better understand what he or she is facing. Check with trusted online resources such as the Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
  5. Serve as an advocate. Help the person organize any questions and concerns before the next doctor’s appointment. If he or she wishes, attend the appointment and help make sure each one is addressed.

As the leading provider of home care services in Walnut Creek and nearby areas, Hillendale Home Care is here to help those with cancer live more comfortable lives at home. Contact us for more information and resources, or to learn about joining our team of care professionals through our CNA and HHA school.

The Benefits and Rewards of a Professional Caregiving Career

Cheerful home caregiver consoling senior woman

Jump-start your career in professional caregiving with these tips from the experts in Walnut Creek home care.

There’s an old saying: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  While professional caregivers will tell you that there are days their job feels like plenty of work, they will also tell you that more often than not, professional caregiving is fulfilling because of the difference it makes in peoples’ lives.

In working closely to aid others, caregivers utilize many different skills in order to ensure that the individuals in their care live full and engaged lives. In the event that you’ve helped a loved one informally as a family caregiver, you almost certainly know firsthand the important role of a caregiver – not only in helping with basic care needs, but also in helping to maintain dignity and independence.

If you’re curious what it will take to begin a professional caregiving career, and aren’t sure what skills are needed to be successful, continue reading to learn what home care agencies actively seek in a fantastic caregiver.

  • Compassion and Empathy. Having compassion and empathy means understanding what someone may be going through. As a caregiver, this implies showing support and kindness to individuals and their loved ones who can be dealing with a rapid change in health, recuperation from a hospitalization, or the reality of a recently available diagnosis.
  • Communication. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are vitally important in professional caregiving. From recording details about a client’s day into his or her care plan and interacting with clients to make certain their care needs are successfully met, to sharing updates about a client’s condition with family and medical experts, clear and concise communication is a foundation in every caregiver interaction.
  • Patience. Working with individuals who might be impacted by age, disability or medical issues typically means that you will have challenges from time to time. For caregivers, it’s important to take these challenges in stride, to bring calm to frustrating situations, and to concentrate on providing compassion and understanding when navigating through difficulties.
  • Flexibility. Life isn’t always predictable, and for caregivers to be truly successful, it’s important that they’re flexible, always showing a willingness to put the client’s needs first, and be ready to adjust to new routines so that you can deliver exceptional, consistent care.
  • Trust and Reliability. Clients and caregivers develop unique and deep bonds, often over a long period of time. Like most other relationships, the client/caregiver relationship is made on trust and reliability. This means that caregivers need to show up when expected, follow through on tasks and must constantly look out for a client’s best interests. To make sure clients and families feel at ease with the caregiver paired with their family member, caregivers must go through employment screenings and meet ongoing training requirements.

Now that you know more about some of the qualities that home care agencies try to find when hiring caregivers, perhaps you are wondering what the next steps are in order to become a professional caregiver. At Hillendale Home Care’s East Bay CNA Training School, we offer the finest in Walnut Creek home care training. If you’re searching for a career that gives flexibility, advancement opportunities and professional and personal growth, sign up for our CNA or HHA training program now or call us at 925-297-2676 to learn more.

How Hospice Care at Home Makes Each Day the Best It Can Be

carer hand holding elder hand woman in hospice care

Hospice care can make a world of difference in quality of life.

When asked what people would most wish for in the last six months of their lives, responses included:

  • Having a choice about which services would be provided
  • Relief from pain
  • Emotional and spiritual support, both for themselves and for their loved ones
  • The ability to receive care at home (or at a loved one’s home)
  • The chance to put their lives in order

Hospice care at home provides all of these benefits and more, offering a way to meet physical, mental/emotional, spiritual, and practical needs, with a goal of relieving or preventing pain and suffering while respecting the care recipient’s final wishes. Here’s how.

Physical Needs

Near the end of a person’s life, he or she may experience pain, fatigue, problems with breathing, digestive issues, seizures, skin irritation, and more. As a caregiver, it’s important to pick up on a client’s nonverbal cues that may indicate physical discomfort, such as moaning, grimacing, pacing, or agitation.

In addition to medical interventions, the person may benefit from:

  • Relaxation techniques such as soft music, light massage, guided imagery, aromatherapy, etc.
  • Distractions, such as playing a game or cards, engaging in an art project, or reminiscing
  • Deep breathing
  • Cold or heat (ice pack, heating pad, etc.)

Additionally, pay close attention to the senior’s skin. Bedsores and dry skin can be remedied to relieve pain and discomfort. Use lip balm to soothe dry lips and ice chips or a damp cloth if the inside of the mouth is dry, and take steps to prevent bedsores by repositioning the person every few hours, placing foam pads underneath bony areas, and ensuring skin stays clean and moisturized.

Emotional/Spiritual Needs

Sometimes, simply sitting quietly with someone and being there to listen if he or she would like to share any feelings with you can be a tremendous comfort. Never correct or argue with the person, or try to change his or her feelings or thoughts in any way. And never talk about the person as though he or she was not in the room.

It’s also important to respect and honor the individual’s personal spiritual beliefs and needs, without judgment or interference.

Practical Needs

Caregivers are fundamental to helping families of those receiving hospice care to experience a sense of relief from the many everyday tasks that continue to need attention. Taking care of laundry, household chores, meals, and running errands allows families to spend quality time with their loved ones. Never underestimate the value you provide by tending to even the simplest of tasks.

As experts in home health care in Walnut Creek and nearby areas, Hillendale Home Care serves as an integral part of a client’s hospice care team, and the sooner services begin, the more comfortable the client will be. Contact us to learn about joining our team of care professionals through our CNA and HHA school.

When Dementia Confusion Leads to an Alternate Reality

caring grandson and his grandfather outside

Dementia confusion can cause seniors to believe they’re living in an alternate reality.

Dementia confusion, a prevalent occurrence in Alzheimer’s, can lead to recent memories being forgotten or altered, while those from the more remote past often continue to be unimpaired. This may cause a past period of time to make more sense to an older person with dementia than the present. A person’s alternative reality may be his/her way of making sense of the present through past experiences.

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease frequently have problems expressing themselves, and sometimes their alternate reality has more to do with a need or a particular feeling they are attempting to express than it has to do with the words they are saying.

For example:

  • “When is my wife going to be coming home?” This question might be more about the need for affection or acceptance or a home-cooked meal than about wanting to see his wife, who passed away many years ago. An effective reaction to discover more might be, “Why do you want to see her?”
  • “I need to bring all these casseroles to the neighbors before the end of the day.” Despite the fact that these casseroles do not exist, the words may represent a need for meaning and purpose in the senior’s life, or the desire to be engaged in an activity. An appropriate response to learn more could be, “Why did you make casseroles for the neighbors?”

Maintaining a log of these types of events may help you identify a pattern in the person’s dementia confusion. The more you listen in and pay close attention, the easier it will be to recognize the thinking behind the alternate reality and the ideal way to act in response.

Is It Appropriate to Play Along?

Providing the situation isn’t going to be dangerous or unacceptable in some way, it is perfectly fine to play along with the senior’s alternate reality. Doing so is not going to make the dementia worse. Keep in mind, the senior’s reality is genuine to him/her, and playing along can make the older adult feel more comfortable.

If the scenario is inappropriate or may possibly cause harm to the senior, try to react to the perceived need while redirecting him/her to something safer or more appropriate.

Keep in mind the following 3 steps:

  1. Reassure the senior.
  2. React to his/her need.
  3. Redirect if required.

Hillendale Home Care, leaders in home care services in Walnut Creek and surrounding areas, helps seniors and their family members navigate through life with dementia. Contact us to learn more about our professional in-home care services, or to join our care team through our CNA and HHA school.

COPD Care Tips During COVID-19

Senior inhalation therapy in progress

Help seniors better manage lung disease and stay safe during the pandemic.

Those diagnosed with COPD or another lung disease have had to stay especially watchful since the COVID-19 pandemic started, because they are likely at both a greater risk for contracting the virus and for developing more severe complications due to this fact. A recent research study published by the European Respiratory Journal reported that patients with a lung disease such as COPD were more apt to be admitted into the ICU, require ventilator care, and succumb to the virus compared to those without the disease.

And while the CDC provides strategies for everyone to avoid getting the illness, such as frequent handwashing, social distancing, and staying home whenever you can, one advisory is especially a challenge for someone with breathing difficulties: wearing a face covering. The American Lung Association suggests that individuals diagnosed with lung disease try a number of different types of coverings to discover one that’s most comfortable, and wear the mask around the house for short periods of time in order to become more used to the feeling.

Further suggestions for COPD care include:

  • Make sure seniors continue to properly manage their lung disease as suggested by the physician, with modifications to curb contact with other people, such as telehealth appointments and mail-order prescriptions.
  • Help seniors boost their body’s defense system with a healthy and balanced diet and a lot of rest, while following the doctor’s recommended plan for treatment.
  • Ensure seniors take care of their emotional health to lower stress. Switch off the news and social media and help your senior clients participate in soothing and rewarding activities instead. Seniors should also speak with a mental health professional if needed for assistance with managing stress and preventing depression.

Of particular importance for everyone with lung disease is the significance of regular exercise. According to David Au, MD, professor at the University of Washington Medical School’s division of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine, since COPD causes shortness of breath, physical exercise is particularly challenging. He, together with the Respiratory Health Association, suggest that seniors should, with physician approval:

  • Strive for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day, at least 3 times every week.
  • Try leg lifts, marching in place, and arm circles, making use of canned goods or small weights.
  • Go up and down stairs.
  • Incorporate deep breathing exercises.

These resources provide more useful information specific to lung disease issues during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Hillendale Home Care caregivers are skilled in helping older adults more effectively manage life with COPD, and are here with the professional training and resources that professional caregivers need to provide specialized chronic disease care for their clients. Contact the leading provider of respite care in Walnut Creek and the surrounding area at Hillendale Home Care, and learn more about how to get the training needed to be considered for our professional, compassionate care team through our CNA and HHA school.

10 Easy Steps to Proper Skin Care for the Elderly

senior woman applying facial cream

Learn techniques for proper skin care for the elderly.

As we grow older, our skin becomes more dry and delicate. Medscape reports that nearly 75% of seniors experience dry, flaky skin, which not only is easily damaged (cut, scratched, or bruised), but also often leads to uncomfortable itching.

The most common areas for dry skin in seniors are the elbows, lower legs, and forearms. For older adults who are less mobile, dry skin may also play a role in the development of bed sores that result from being in one position too long, in either a bed or chair.

Dry skin can be caused by the loss of sweat and oil glands. Try these tips for proper skin care for the elderly:

  • Avoid hot baths and showers. Warm water causes less drying to the skin.
  • Encourage the senior to bathe less often if possible. Although hygiene is important, the utilization of “dry baths” (with a dampened bath towel) may be sufficient between baths and showers.
  • Use mild shampoo and soap on the senior’s skin. If his/her scalp or skin is extremely dry, there are certain products, such as Nizoral, that may be helpful.
  • Moisturize the senior’s skin well, especially after showering or bathing.
  • Use unscented products, as scented products may irritate the skin.
  • Be sure the older adult drinks an adequate amount of fluids.
  • Consider utilizing a humidifier in cold weather or dry environments.
  • If the senior smokes, encourage him or her to quit.
  • Incorporate stress-reducing activities into the senior’s everyday routine.
  • Ensure the senior uses sunscreen when outside, and minimize exposure to the sun.

It’s also important to examine the senior’s skin on a frequent basis to see if there are any signs of excessively dry skin, and to report any conditions that may require medical care.

If you are interested in learning more about senior care and becoming a HHA or CNA through our professional school, contact the leading provider of elder care in Pleasant Hill and the surrounding area at Hillendale Home Care.

Alzheimer’s Care: Strategies to Ease Anxiety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

enior wears a mask to protect against viruses and bacteria

Alzheimer’s care during a pandemic is easier with these tips.

Confusion. Isolation. Loneliness. These feelings are becoming common for a number of us during the COVID-19 pandemic, but once you factor in dementia, the challenges and frustrations are elevated to an entirely new level.

Consider, as an example, the short-term loss of memory inherent in Alzheimer’s disease. A caregiver searching for the best way to explain why the senior cannot head out for coffee, get a haircut, or visit with the neighbors might need to offer up that explanation numerous times – often in the same day.

Sue Spalding, Chief Executive Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota, North Dakota Chapter, stresses the need for helping those with dementia to minimize unnecessary stress, which could increase the progression of the disease. So how do you best help the seniors in your care with Alzheimer’s to calmly navigate life during a pandemic? Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Stay calm. Although you may feel anxious and overwhelmed because of the state of the world, it is better to try to avoid talking about alarming issues and even watching the news with a senior with dementia. Be sure to find an appropriate outlet for your feelings, however – your partner or other loved ones, a therapist, or trusted friend.
  • Stick with routines. Keep in mind, certain previously enjoyed routines that entail outings or visits with family members may need to be placed on hold, but keep a predictable schedule in the senior’s home that’s reassuring to the him or her, such as maintaining a certain time for meals, exercise, hobbies, and bedtime.
  • Ensure there’s a backup plan. Family caregivers need to understand that if they were to become ill, a plan needs to be in place for backup caregiving. Strategizing now, prior to when the need arises, is important, and they can partner with an experienced home care agency, like Hillendale Home Care.

And remember, it is very important for you to take care of yourself, too! Be sure to designate time every day for relaxing, enjoyable activities to help you to unwind and destress after work, to stay connected with friends, to follow a healthy diet and exercise routine, and also to get a healthy amount of sleep.

As we all continue to wait for a vaccine or effective treatment option for COVID-19, Hillendale Home Care caregivers are fully equipped and prepared to safely care for seniors, including those with dementia, following all recommended protective guidelines. For further tips to help someone with Alzheimer’s during these tumultuous times, contact the top-rated providers of home care in Walnut Creek and the surrounding area at Hillendale Home Care, and learn more about how to join our professional care team through our CNA and HHA school.

6 Cancer Care Tips to Try When Chemotherapy Affects Appetite

Grilled chicken with fresh vegetable salad

These cancer care tips can help with appetite problems from chemotherapy.

Maintaining a healthy diet is particularly crucial for those undergoing chemotherapy or another type of cancer treatment, but one of the leading side effects stopping patients from eating well is an alteration in how foods taste. It’s important to conquer this and other hurdles to healthy eating in order to preserve the strength needed for chemo treatments and safeguard against infections. Eating a well-balanced diet may perhaps even help cancer patients better cope with greater dosages of some types of medicines.

When suffering from challenges with taste changes that interfere with adhering to an advised dietary plan during cancer treatment, you can help the clients you’re caring for with these cancer nutrition tips:

  • Experiment with various food temperatures. For some people undergoing cancer treatment, cold foods are more palatable, providing less fragrances than hot foods, which could increase feelings of nausea.
  • Try different seasonings. Marinades, herbs, and spices can make food more appealing. Several choices to try include mint, garlic, rosemary, dill, lemon and basil.
  • Pay attention to oral health. Taste buds may become inflamed by chemotherapy, and bacteria amounts may become imbalanced. Brushing the teeth with a soft toothbrush and gentle toothpaste a few times during the course of each day, and encouraging a visit with the dentist for further suggestions, can help.
  • Consume smaller portions. Smaller, more frequent meals tend to be easier to digest. Be sure to incorporate plenty of fluids, both during and between meals, as well.
  • Try gum and mints. Sugar-free gum and mints, or other flavored hard candy, can help reduce the metallic or bitter tastes in the mouth that can occur from chemotherapy treatments. They can also trigger production of saliva to soothe a dry mouth.
  • Partner with a dietitian. A professional dietitian who has a specialty in cancer nutrition can help with suggesting food choices specific to the person’s particular difficulties. He or she can also recommend suitable vitamin supplements, high-nutrition liquid shakes, etc.

For more tips to combat changes in taste or other side effects of chemotherapy, contact Hillendale Home Care’s experts in CNA and home care aide training as well as home care in Concord, CA and the surrounding area. And contact us to learn more about joining our team of caregiving professionals through our CNA and HHA school, or share with someone you know who’s interested in a rewarding career as a senior care provider!

Tips for Caring for Someone with Dementia to Prevent Senior Illnesses Like COVID-19

These tips can help prevent senior illnesses like COVID-19.

Providing caregiving assistance for a senior with Alzheimer’s can be challenging under the best of circumstances; mix in a worldwide pandemic, one that calls for social distancing, masks and gloves, and meticulous sterilization of both ourselves and our environment, and the challenge might appear impossible.

The following guidelines can help reduce anxiety and frustration for those diagnosed with dementia, while keeping them safe from contagious senior illnesses like COVID-19.

  • Make self-care a top priority. Now more than ever, it is imperative that you evaluate your own level of stress, and take steps to ensure you’re healthy – both emotionally and physically. You can only offer the best caregiving help for a senior if your own needs are met. This might mean limiting time spent monitoring the news as well as on social media, maintaining connections with friends and family, and taking time for comforting, enjoyable activities.
  • Take care of personal hygiene. Proper handwashing techniques are critical for all of us, but could be tricky for individuals with Alzheimer’s to keep up. Depending on the person’s stage of the disease, it might help to wash your hands together, demonstrating for the senior; or, place signs beside the sink in the bathroom and kitchen with a reminder to wash for 20 seconds. And keep in mind that repetition, a typical behavior in Alzheimer’s, could work to your advantage in this instance.
  • Consider your words very carefully. When speaking with a senior with dementia about changes related to COVID-19, it is critical to keep it very simple, utilizing a calm and reassuring tone. Beth Kallmyer, Vice President of Care and Support at the Alzheimer’s Association, suggests statements such as, “We have to stay inside because that’s most safe for us, but we’ll do it together. I’ll be with you and we’ll be okay.”
  • Make certain family caregivers have a backup plan. Let family caregivers know that in the event that they are diagnosed with COVID-19, or another medical problem that could prevent them from safely providing help for a loved one with dementia,  Hillendale Home Care is the perfect choice, with expertise in specialized Alzheimer’s care.

For more information on preventing senior illnesses like COVID-19 while ensuring your own health as a professional caregiver, contact the experts in eldercare in Walnut Creek, CA and the surrounding area at Hillendale Home Care. We also invite you to learn more about home care through our CNA and HHA school.

Respite Care: How You Can Create A Win/Win for Family Caregivers and Their Loved Ones

Meeting the ongoing care needs 24/7 of an elderly or disabled loved one is a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding job for a family caregiver. As such, it’s important to allow them time to rest and relax on occasion in order to continue to be effective in their role. Respite care from a professional caregiver provides relief from the daily tasks of caregiving, enabling the family caregiver to also care for himself or herself.

Principles of Respite Care:

  • Relief from ongoing care responsibilities allows seniors to still get the attention they deserve.
  • Respite care provides family caregivers with care that is planned, temporary, intermittent and substitute.
  • Time required for respite can vary, from just a couple hours per day to ongoing, scheduled, routine relief.

How to Help A Family Caregiver:

  • Ask how the family caregiver is doing. Having someone specifically ask about a family caregiver’s wellbeing not only shows compassion, but may also help you discover other ways to help the family.
  • Assist with the family caregiver’s own personal chores. Family caregivers have their own lives too, and finding time to take care of their own laundry, shopping, or housecleaning can be difficult.
  • Professional caregivers can help family caregivers have regular breaks and bring peace of mind by providing high-quality, compassionate care.

Benefits of Respite Care:

  • Allows family caregivers to take time away when needed for such things as medical appointments, a haircut, or a social outing with friends. 
  • Provides the senior with companionship from someone other than a family member, helping to keep him or her socially engaged.

Overcoming Objections to Respite Care:

  • A changed routine and new caregiver can be a bit stressful for a senior. You can help ease any anxieties with the following steps:
    • Meet the client ahead of a shift so that he or she can become comfortable and get to know you a bit.
    • Reassure the senior and engage him or her in activities that will aid in improving health and wellbeing. 
  • If the family caregiver is having second thoughts about leaving their loved one for a short period of time, encourage him or her and emphasize the importance of self-care. 

Helping family caregivers is an important component of what we do each day at Hillendale Home Care, providers of top-rated home and Alzheimer’s care in Walnut Creek, CA. Learn more about our CNA program and HHA program and find out if a career as a professional caregiver is right for you. For more information, reach out to us today via our online contact form or by phone at 925-933-8181.