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.

How to Help Someone Manage the Side Effects of Chemotherapy

The side effects of chemotherapy can be better managed with these tips.

If a senior in your care is battling cancer, he or she may be experiencing several troubling side effects of chemotherapy, and you will want to do what you can to help alleviate these symptoms. While simply being there to provide comfort and companionship is, in itself, extremely beneficial, there are additional ways you can help. 

Following are some of the more common side effects that often arise from chemo, and how you can help as a caregiver:

Skin Concerns: A person with cancer is at risk for a number of treatment- and disease-related skin problems. Caregivers can assist with these skin problems by encouraging the senior to use sunscreen, helping to protect the affected areas of skin from trauma, and making sure the skin stays clean and dry. 

Loss of Hair: Caregivers can encourage the senior to look into a wig prior to treatment (to best match natural hair color to the wig), if the person is concerned about hair loss. Hair loss can also be minimized by using baby shampoo, a soft hairbrush, and less frequent hair washing. 

Depression: If you suspect depression in the person in your care, report the concern immediately so that appropriate steps can be taken to help. An appointment with the doctor can also be encouraged so that all medications can be evaluated for depressive side effects. 

Nausea: Feeling nauseous and vomiting are common side effects of chemotherapy, but can be eased with anti-nausea medications, staying away from greasy or spicy foods, and eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Caregivers can help by preparing light, healthy meals that are more tolerable for the person.

One of the best ways to help as a caregiver is by simply listening. Let the person share feelings, fears, and concerns, and respond in a way that shows you are listening and that you care. Sometimes just giving a hug or holding hands is helpful. Be prepared for the senior to talk about the illness if desired, and always be ready to lend an open and nonjudgmental ear.

Find more cancer care tips from Hillendale Home Care’s experienced and compassionate Pleasant Hill caregivers in the Hillendale Home Care blog. Contact us to learn more about our CNA and HHA school and how to become part of our professional caregiving team. 

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. 

Alzheimer’s Communication Tips for Each Stage of the Disease

senior with Alzheimer's and caregiver using communication tips

These tips will help caregivers more effectively communicate with a senior with dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease can make communicating even the most basic needs a challenge. Caregivers can feel as though they’re trying to solve a puzzle in determining how to meet the needs of someone with dementia and ensure life is as fulfilling, comfortable, safe, and enriching as possible.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers these helpful, stage-by-stage Alzheimer’s communication tips to help:

Early Alzheimer’s

In the early stage of the disease, the person can usually still communicate clearly for the most part, but may begin repeating stories or struggling to think of a word from time to time. You can help by:

  • Never excluding the person with dementia from conversations, or talking about them as if they’re not in the room. Speak to the senior directly, taking as much time as needed to allow them to express what they wish to say.
  • Listen without interrupting, correcting, or filling in the blanks. If the senior can’t think of the word “toothbrush” and describes it as “that thing you put in your mouth,” accept that explanation respectfully.
  • Although you should never laugh at the senior or belittle them in any way, shared humor and laughter are perfectly fine and can ease communication challenges.

Mid-Stage Alzheimer’s

Communication becomes a bit more difficult as the disease progresses. Try:

  • Minimizing distractions. Turn off the TV or radio, and talk with the senior in a quiet location.
  • Speak clearly and slowly, looking the senior in the eye.
  • Continue to allow plenty of time for the senior to respond.
  • Ask yes or no questions that can more simply be answered; for instance, “Would you like oatmeal for breakfast today?” rather than, “What do you want for breakfast?”
  • Never argue.
  • Use visual cues or simple, step-by-step instructions for a task.

Late-Stage Alzheimer’s

Nonverbal communication becomes more important in the later stages of the disease:

  • Always approach the person face-to-face and identify yourself.
  • Encourage the person to communicate nonverbally through gestures and pointing.
  • Try to determine what the senior is feeling by the words or sounds being made along with facial expressions and other types of body language.
  • Simply being there as a comforting presence sometimes communicates better than any words.

For more dementia communication tips, or to learn more about becoming part of our caregiving team as a trained dementia caregiver, contact our CNA and HHA school at (925) 297-2676 any time.

Parkinson’s Caregiver Tips to Increase Safety and Quality of Life

caregiver assisting senior man with Parkinsons

Learn Parkinson’s caregiver tips that can help increase safety and wellbeing for a senior client

Many seniors with Parkinson’s disease receive the majority of their care at home from friends and family, particularly during the early parts of the disease. As the experts in home health care in Walnut Creek and the surrounding areas, it’s our job to understand the unique concerns experienced by family members who are care providers for a loved one with Parkinson’s, and to provide the support and educational resources they need. Our respite care services help provide family caregivers with time to rest and recharge and our home care services help ensure safety and a high quality of life during each stage of Parkinson’s.

These Parkinson’s caregiver tips are helpful for both clients and their families:

  • Nutrition: A balanced and healthy diet helps lessen cell loss in a person with Parkinson’s. Getting lots of antioxidants, like those found in green tea, spinach, blueberries, broccoli, beans, and certain kinds of nuts, can help fight against oxidative stress.
  • Chewing and Swallowing: Individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s frequently have some degree of difficulty with chewing and swallowing. Every person providing care for a senior with Parkinson’s must learn the Heimlich maneuver in order to be prepared in the event the person starts to choke.
  • Fall Prevention: Individuals with Parkinson’s sometimes have problems with walking and balance; therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the home surroundings and make modifications to reduce the possibility of falls. Installing customized toilet seats and grab bars where appropriate, and eliminating obstacles throughout the house, are great starting points.
  • Anxiety/Depression: Lowering the risk for anxiety and depression is an essential component in the battle against Parkinson’s. Closely monitor the senior for signs and symptoms of depression, and if noted, recommend that she or he see a doctor for an evaluation at the earliest opportunity.
  • Medications: Parkinson’s treatment options may have an array of unwanted side effects, and may impact the individual in a variety of different ways. Certain types of medications may cause nightmares or hallucinations, for example. The senior’s physician should provide information about any potential medication side effects in order to be prepared.

Your assistance and support as a Hillendale Home Care caregiver can result in an improved quality of life for both seniors and their family members. By helping with a number of the more routine components of caregiving, family members are able to spend more high-quality time together.

If you or someone you know is interested in a rewarding career opportunity where you can make a difference in the lives of seniors and their families each day, contact us at 925-297-2676 to find out more about our CNA and HHA training programs.

Low Vision and Dementia Care Tips: Engaging Activities

Find low vision and dementia care tips to enrich the lives of seniors.

Finding activities that are fun and engaging for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s tends to be a challenge. Add in vision impairment, and it could seem overwhelming. However, it is extremely important to ensure each day holds possibilities for joy, purpose, and meaning – minimizing the level of agitation, frustration, and other difficult behaviors and emotions in Alzheimer’s. These low vision and dementia care tips can help. [Read 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.

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.

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.

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…]