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.

Dementia Wandering Prevention Tips

: Dementia wandering can be a troubling issue for families of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Of all of the outcomes of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, probably one of the most troubling is the person’s tendency for wandering, alongside the possible risks which may arise if the senior gets disoriented or lost. Wandering may occur if the elderly loved one is:

  • Overwhelmed, scared, or confused
  • Trying to find someone or something
  • Bored
  • Wanting to maintain a familiar past routine such as preparing to go to work or shopping
  • Tending to a simple need, like searching for a cup of water or visiting the bathroom

As a dementia caretaker, the purpose is twofold: to keep the senior safe, and to ensure that his or her needs are fulfilled so that you can help quell the need to wander to begin with. Try the following dementia wandering prevention techniques if a senior loved one in your care is likely to wander:

  • Utilize any locks that are in place which the senior is not able to master, like a sliding bolt lock above his or her range of vision, as well as alarms, even something as simple as placing a bell over doorknobs. Another option to assist in monitoring a wanderer is to use the Electronic Caregiver Premier (ELC Premier), which has a caregiver GPS tracking device that will pinpoint the person’s location!  Learn more here, or call 925-933-8181.
  • Disguise exits by covering doors with curtains, placing temporary folding barriers deliberately around doorways, or even using wallpaper or paint to match the doors to the surrounding walls. You may even try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which may sometimes dissuade people in the earlier stages of dementia from attempting to exit.
  • An additional hazard for those who wander is the elevated likelihood of falling. Inspect each room of the home and take care of any tripping concerns, such as removing throw rugs, power cords, and any obstacles that might be blocking walkways, making certain ample lighting is switched on, and installing gates at the very top and bottom of stairways. 

It is important to keep in mind that with direction and guidance, wandering is not necessarily a challenge. Go for a stroll outside with the individual anytime weather allows and he or she is in the mood to be on the go, providing the additional benefit of fresh air, physical activity, and quality time together. 

As a professional caregiver, the support you provide can help keep seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease stay safe and independent in their ultimate place of comfort – home. If you or someone you know is looking for a rewarding career opportunity where you can make a difference in the lives of older adults and their families, contact us online or call us at 925-297-2676 to find out more about our CNA and HHA training programs.

Reduce Professional Caregiver Burnout: Finding Resiliency in a Time of Crisis

Become a stronger, more resilient caregiver with these helpful tips.

A time of crisis can sometimes bring out both the best and the worst in us. All through the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve come across stories of individuals hoarding items and selling them to generate an excessive profit, coupled with stories of heroes who selflessly met the needs of others in spite of their own fears.

The key to weathering the storms that are sure to arise in our lives in an appropriate way is resiliency. Mia Bartoletti, clinical psychologist for the Navy SEAL Foundation, works closely with families of individuals serving in the military, and gives suggestions that can help build resilience through any time of crisis.

  1. Communicate your reactions. It’s normal to experience an array of responses to a crisis: flashbacks to other challenging situations, dreams and nightmares, withdrawal and avoidance, trouble with sleeping, irritability, difficulties with concentration and focus, and hypervigilance. What is crucial is to make sure these responses are short-term, and do not progress into long-term psychological problems. Admit your feelings, and share them with a dependable friend or write them in a journal. 
  2. Continue to keep social connections. While your reaction could be to pull away from friends and family during a crisis, keeping in touch on a frequent basis with those you care about is crucial. Locating a support group, whether in person or online, is another great way to make sure you are forming and preserving social ties, letting you speak with other people in a similar situation.
  3. Take time for self-care. This means something different to every person, but ought to include pleasant activities, engaging hobbies and interests, nourishing meals, lots of sleep, and physical exercise. It can often be hard to carve out time for yourself due to caregiving duties, but it is important to remember that looking after yourself allows you to take better care of others.
  4. Realize what you are able to control – and what you cannot. Letting go of what’s beyond your control and focusing instead on what you CAN control is one of the fundamentals of resilience. Psychologist Mary Alvord, who founded Resilience Across Borders, explains, “Depression is hopelessness and helplessness, and so resilience is the opposite. No, you’re not helpless; you do have control over many aspects of your life.”

It certainly is a smart idea to seek professional counseling if your responses to stressful situations are impeding your ability to maintain a feeling of calm and to tend to the necessary day-to-day activities of living. And, as part of your caregiving duties as a professional caregiver, watch out for signs that clients are feeling undue degrees of stress so that you can help them obtain the help that they need as well.

As a professional caregiver, resilience is an important aspect of your job, as you will be a much-needed source of comfort and relief for clients and their families. Always remember to prioritize your own mental, emotional, and physical health so that you can provide the best possible care to others. 

If you or someone you know is interested in a career as a provider of in-home care in Berkeley or the surrounding area that allows you to make a difference in the lives of seniors and their families each day, contact Hillendale Home Care today at 925-297-2676 to find out more about our CNA and HHA training programs.

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.

Seasonal Influenza Preventative Measures Keep Older Adults Safe

These tips can help seniors remain safe from seasonal influenza.

If there is one important lesson that we have learned during the pandemic, it’s how critical everyday preventative actions are in stopping the spread of a virus. Not only have measures like remaining home if feeling ill, frequent hand washing, and wearing a face covering helped to slow the spread of COVID-19, but these steps have also had a significant impact on reducing the spread of colds and seasonal influenza. This is especially welcomed news for older adults and others who are at greater risk for complications from these viruses.  [Read more…]

Learn to Recognize the Warning Signs of a Stroke

emergency department sign - stroke warning signs

If you’re a caregiver in Pleasanton or a nearby area, Hillendale Home Care can provide training on recognizing the warning signs of a stroke.

Stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is listed as one of the leading causes of death in America, with approximately 800,000 people experiencing a stroke on an annual basis. In other words, approximately every 40 seconds a person somewhere in the U.S. is having a stroke. And every four minutes an individual dies from stroke. If you are providing care for an elder or chronically ill client who is at an elevated risk for stroke, it’s necessary to be sure you are able to recognize the warning signs of a stroke.

The more quickly you find professional assistance, the more likely the senior you serve will pull through the stroke. Stroke warning signs typically include sudden onset of:

  • Feeling weak or numb in the arm, face, or leg – notably on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Blurry vision or difficulty with vision
  • Difficulty walking, lightheadedness, loss of coordination or balance
  • Severe headache without any known cause

If you observe these stroke symptoms in someone, remember to act F.A.S.T.

Face: Ask the individual to smile and notice if one side seems to droop.

Arms: Ask the individual to lift up both arms. Does one arm droop down?

Speech: Ask the individual to repeat an easy sentence. When he does, take note if speech sounds slurred or if the individual is unable to speak words the proper way.

Time: Time is critical! If you observe any of the above warning signs of a stroke, call 911 right away!

At Hillendale Home Care, we pride ourselves on providing high quality training that equips caregivers to help seniors live in the comfort and familiarity of home. We offer both a certified nursing assistant and home health aide program in order to best prepare you for the career of a lifetime. Contact us online or call us at 925-297-2676 to learn more about becoming a caregiver in Pleasanton and nearby areas.

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…]

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.