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.

Caregiver Tip: How To Talk To Someone With A Chronic Illness

The Hillendale CNA School provides tips regarding how to talk to someone with a chronic illness.

Have you ever walked into the office or a get-together with friends or family and had an individual say to you with great concern, “You really look tired today!” Even though you may have been feeling pretty perky before that moment, unexpectedly you really DO feel exhausted and rundown. The words we use with each other together with the ways in which we interpret them are very meaningful. When it comes to how to talk to someone with a chronic illness, it is vital that you thoughtfully think about what to express, and perhaps most importantly, what NOT to say, that can help the person feel his or her best.

While we are most certainly well meaning, a number of comments are better left unsaid. Making a less-than-sensitive comment, according to Mindy Beth Lipson, a Phoenix psychologist, happens because, “I think people are just scared and nervous and don’t know how to respond. There might be several reasons, the first being it brings up their own mortality. Some people also just lack empathy.”

If you’re wondering how to talk to someone with a chronic illness, it’s sometimes most helpful to focus on what not to do. To follow are several comments to eliminate from your vernacular when communicating with those faced with a medical crisis:

1. “My friend had the same prognosis and was ill for several months.” Sharing unfavorable accounts about a person with a similar diagnosis is a guaranteed way to bring the person’s spirits down. As an alternative, remember that each individual experiences health issues differently, and focus on the positives the person you’re talking with has achieved.

2. “If you’d only stopped smoking (or exercised; or followed a healthy eating plan; etc.) this wouldn’t have happened.” It is impossible to know whether the outcome could have been different if healthier options happen to be made, and there is no benefit to saying “what if.” Focus instead on giving the support and compassion the individual needs right now, and leave any feelings of judgment at the door.

3. “Do you remember…?” Particular to those with dementia or other cognitive impairment, memory prompts similar to this can also add towards the frustration and agitation already experienced. Sharing news from days gone by as if they’re brand-new is an effective strategy to engage the individual instead.

Your absolute best bet is to let the individual have the chance to talk about (or not to share) his or her experiences and emotions, hold the person’s hand if it is welcome, give a pretty bouquet of flowers or any other small present or treat, and extend your affectionate, loving presence and support. 

To get more detailed care tips, or for hands-on caregiver training, reach out to the Hillendale CNA school. We provide quality training to those interested in enriching the lives of the elderly by becoming CNAs or HHAs. Contact us online or give us a call at (925)297-2676 to learn more about becoming a trained CNA in Walnut Creek and the nearby areas. 

Help Senior Clients Maintain Joy Despite a Chronic Disorder

Man and his best friend

A chronic disorder doesn’t have to dampen a senior client’s spirits.

Have you ever started your day and figured, “It’s going to be one of those days!” Perhaps your alarm didn’t go off, the hot water heater decided to stop working, and the dog chewed up one of your favorite shoes overnight. Then envision if each day were “one of those days!” Hillendale’s Walnut Creek home care professionals know that for somebody coping with a chronic disorder (and that’s much of the older adult population), day-to-day struggles and challenges can be a given. [Read more…]

What Brain Injury Survivors Want You to Know

Male carer with beautiful senior female patient

Those recovering from traumatic brain injury may experience these feelings.

Caring for a patient who is recovering from a traumatic brain injury can be challenging, especially as the patient’s needs can fluctuate dramatically from one day to the next. While each person’s circumstances are unique, there are some common effects that are important to understand. Keep these ten tips in mind:

  1. Rest is crucial. Fatigue can be compounded from both the physical and mental strain required in recovery. Ensure plenty of opportunities for downtime and rest.
  2. Outward appearance can be deceiving. While the person may look perfectly normal on the outside, there are often underlying cognitive limitations. Never push the individual to complete tasks if he/she seems resistant.
  3. Recovery takes time. Expect a slow recovery process – often years.
  4. Socialization can be hard. Understand that loud noises, multiple conversations, and crowds of people can overwhelm those recovering from brain injury.
  5. Look beyond behaviors. Try to determine the trigger behind a challenging behavior and address that, rather than the behavior itself. The person may be hungry, tired, or uncomfortable.
  6. Use patience. Patience is key, both for empowering the person to complete tasks independently to the best of his/her ability, and in conversations, to allow the person to rebuild language skills.
  7. Never condescend. The brain injury survivor should always be treated as an adult, with respect and dignity, and never spoken to as a child.
  8. Repetitions help with memory. If the person is engaging in repetitive behavior, it can actually be helping with memory restoration. If the behavior becomes agitating for the person, however, suggest a period of rest.
  9. Emotions may run high. Frustration is understandable with the struggles inherent with brain injury recovery. High emotions may also result from the particular part of the brain that was injured. Maintaining a calm, patient demeanor can be helpful.
  10. Remain encouraging. It’s important to focus on the positives as much as possible, cheering on each new achievement, regardless of how small. Refrain from negativity or criticism.

Most importantly, trying to view life through the eyes of the person recovering from brain injury can go a long way towards providing effective care that balances the need for helping the person with empowering him/her to regain independence.

Looking to learn more about caregiving or Hillendale’s CNA and HHA training school? Find information about our CNA program here and our HHA program here. Or contact us for more information online or at 925-933-8181.

Is a Senior Refuting a Dementia Diagnosis? It Might Be Anosognosia.

Senior man sitting on sofa

A senior may be unaware of his or her dementia diagnosis.

“How could you possibly say that I have a dementia diagnosis? There’s nothing at all wrong with me!”

If a senior in your care with a dementia diagnosis is unaccepting of the reality of the disease, you may be prone to think that he or she is simply in denial. However, there is sometimes a legitimate reason for this denial: anosognosia, or a person’s unawareness that he or she is impaired by dementia. [Read more…]

How to Help Someone with Kidney Disease Live the Fullest Life Possible

urologist

There are several key ways to help someone better manage kidney disease.

Hiccuping. Itching. Changes in appetite and sleep. These are just several of the seemingly innocuous red flags that may possibly point to kidney disease. And with as many as 20 million people in the United States alone managing the disease, plus many more who are as yet undiagnosed, it’s important that those experiencing these symptoms bring them to the attention of the doctor. [Read more…]

Improve Nutrition For Home Care Clients During Cancer Treatments

3 apples on white background

Help someone better manage cancer treatments with these dietary tips.

A proper diet is crucial for everyone, but even more so for persons going through cancer treatments. Proper nutrition can help home care clients with cancer gain the strength needed for chemotherapy treatments, protect against infections, keep body tissue from breaking down, and assist in the rebuilding of body tissue. Proper nutrition also can help clients handle the side effects of chemotherapy and may even be able to assist them in being able to handle higher doses of certain drugs. [Read more…]

On the Front Line of COPD Management

Elderly woman on wheelchairChronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, refers to two lung diseases: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In essence, patients’ breathing is severely compromised by an obstruction to airflow. Common symptoms include an excessively wet cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. [Read more…]

Improving Life for Parkinson’s Disease Clients Through Exercise

Healthy Senior Man in GYM

Discover how quality of life can be enhanced for those with Parkinson’s through exercise.

The particular results of exercising throughout aging are incredible; however, for individuals with Parkinson’s, it could truly be a game-changer regarding the progression of the disease. Several studies are revealing direct links between physical activity and Parkinson’s, like the largest clinical study to date, in which patients who exercised a minimum of 2½ hours each week realized a higher total wellbeing than those who refrained from physical activity. And that is only the start.

The onset of Parkinson’s symptoms happens following the loss of the brain cells that create dopamine. Researchers think that exercise allows the mind to restore lost connections, form new ones, and continue maintaining those that are in place. Additional studies also show:

  • Gains were realized in stride length, gait speed and balance after treadmill exercise – after as little as only one session, and lasting for many weeks afterwards.
  • Motor function and coordination were enhanced in people who pedaled at a quicker rate on a stationary bike – again, with results lasting for weeks after the study finished.
  • Recognizable improvements regarding the normalcy of movement were discovered in persons with Parkinson’s who engaged in a routine exercise regime compared to people who did not.

It’s important to note that the outcomes achieved were reliant upon consistent, ongoing exercise. The scientific tests revealed that any protective benefits realized were discontinued if the amount and intensity of physical activity was reduced or was implemented for only a short span of time. The necessary criteria for sustainable results seem to be exactly like those needed to help those who’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury or stroke: intensity, specificity, difficulty and complexity.

Additional research is underway to hone in further on the benefits of exercising in those with Parkinson’s disease, and the precise reasoning behind it. For the time being, if the person you are caring for has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, it’s certainly beneficial to recommend that family members talk with their loved one’s primary care physician for a recommended exercise regimen, and then assist in implementing the approved activities.

For more tips on providing care for someone with Parkinson’s disease, or to learn more about joining Hillendale Homecare’s professional care team, contact our CNA and HHA School through our online contact form.

Hillendale Senior Care Tips: Better Lighting to Assist Vision

Walnut Creek Home Care

Learn how the proper lighting can assist seniors with vision impairment.

Dim lights and shadows can make it problematic for people with reduced vision to make out distinct objects. They may bump into objects that didn’t seem to be as close as they truly were, or fall over something they didn’t notice at all.

This can lead to accidents in the home, which can result in a decline in a senior’s overall health. Dim lighting can take away enjoyment too – if the light isn’t bright enough to read, for example, the simple pleasure of reading may be lost. But there are things you can do as a CNA or Home Health Aid to help reduce these risks, one of which is ensuring that the lighting in your senior loved one’s home is adequate, reducing the shadows and making objects stand out more visibly.

For example, did you know that cutting the distance between a light source and the task in half by bringing the light closer to the work will make the brightness of the light approximately four times greater? Here are some other lighting tips to help a senior with low vision:

  • A “task lamp” with a flexible arm or gooseneck can focus light closely and directly on a working area, ensuring better light for reading, cooking, using the telephone, or doing crafts.
  • If one eye has better vision, position the lamp on that side of the body, slightly to the side. Take caution in placement however, so that the light is not reflecting from the page into the eyes of the reader.
  • To reduce glare, which can make it harder to see, make sure all light bulbs are covered with some sort of shade.
  • To reduce the heat of a higher-wattage bulb, use a lamp with an internal reflector (a double shade). This significantly reduces the heat, and allows the lamp to be closer to the face than with a single shade, especially one made of metal.
  • Install extra lighting in places where it may be difficult to move around, such as hallways and stairs.
  • Install dimmer switches for controlling the amount of light in the room.
  • Install under-cabinet lighting for tasks in the kitchen or work areas.

These lighting changes can help a senior in your care more easily adapt to low vision. If you are interested in joining our CNA and HHA training school or joining the experienced caregiving team at Hillendale, contact us today at 925-933-8181.

What Differently-Abled Adults Wish You Knew

Walnut Creek senior caregiving

Learn how to better serve adults with disabilities in this article from the senior care experts at Hillendale Home Care.

Although the mental and/or physical challenges encountered by individuals with a disability may be apparent, many of us fail to fully comprehend the social struggles that often go hand in hand. As a result, we may tend to “talk down” to or make incorrect assumptions about the person.

Below are some suggestions to help you better and more respectfully communicate with disabled individuals in your life:

  • Never judge or assume anything about an individual’s disability. Just because a person is in a wheelchair doesn’t mean the person is paralyzed, and just because someone has a speech impediment doesn’t mean that person is intellectually impaired.
  • Talk directly to the individual and look him or her in the eyes when speaking.
  • If you can’t understand what the person is saying, never pretend that you do. It’s perfectly fine to ask again for clarification.
  • Respect personal boundaries and avoid leaning on the person’s wheelchair or walker, or touching a service animal unless you have been given permission to do so.
  • Never patronize.
  • Maintain patience.
  • It’s acceptable to offer assistance, but never insist or be offended if your offer is not welcomed.
  • Never assume the individual is unable to participate in an activity. Always give the person the benefit of the doubt. You may be surprised!

One great way to boost the independence of differently-abled adults is through technology. If the person is willing, suggest trying one or more of the following:

  • Digital Voice Recorder: These devices come in handy for those with cognitive impairments to provide reminders for things like phone numbers and medication instructions, or daily routine details such as when a favorite show comes on.
  • Motorized Chair Lifts: For people in wheelchairs as well as those with other mobility disorders, a motorized chair lift is a wonderful way to allow for getting up and down stairs safely.
  • Vibrating Alarm Clocks/Strobing Smoke Alarms: For someone who is deaf or struggles with hearing issues, alarm clocks and smoke alarms that only make noise are of little help. A vibrating alarm clock uses a sensor that can be placed under the bedsheets which vibrates when the alarm goes off, allowing the person to feel the alarm instead. In the same way, a smoke alarm equipped with a strobe light allows the hearing impaired person to see the alarm and get to safety.

If you’d like to learn more about joining the Hillendale team as a CNA and improve quality of life for a senior or differently-abled adult in our California community, contact our CNA and HHA School by completing this simple form!