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.

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.

How Dementia Impacts Vision

Learn how dementia impacts vision and how to help older adults feel safe.

The intricate steps needed to enable us to see are mind-boggling. In the blink of an eye, our brains have the ability to take transmitted details on the environment all around us, translate that information based on input from other senses, experiences, and thoughts, and then build an understanding of that information to make us aware of what we are seeing.

It’s not surprising to learn that dementia impacts vision, and that individuals with dementia can encounter visual deficits and misperceptions, particularly in the aspects of:

  • Depth and/or color perception
  • Contrast
  • Motion recognition
  • Peripheral vision

Moreover, people who have Alzheimer’s disease can frequently experience a distorted sense of reality in the form of illusions. As an example, someone with Alzheimer’s disease could see a shadow on the floor, and confuse it for something innocent, such as the family pet, or a hazard, such as an intruder. Some other types of visual misperceptions in dementia can consist of:

  • Misjudging reflections in glass or mirrors for another person. This could lead to distress in believing someone else is present, or believing that a restroom mirror reflection means the washroom is currently occupied by another person.
  • Believing that images on television are real and taking place in the room.
  • Difficulty with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, being afraid of a fall.
  • Stress in overstimulating environments that causes confusion.
  • Reaching for objects that are not there, or missing the mark in trying to grab an item.
  • Troubles with self-feeding and drinking.

Below are some approaches to help clients:

  • Keep sufficient lighting through the entire home, and remove any particular items that cause stress or visual confusion when possible.
  • Incorporate contrasting colors anytime you can; for example, serve dark-colored soup in a light-colored bowl, or a fried egg on a brown plate.
  • Close blinds or curtains both at night and whenever the sun causes a glare.
  • Take advantage of adaptive tools such as remote controls and telephones with large buttons to help facilitate opportunities for independence.

At Hillendale Home Care, the top-rated providers of home health care in Walnut Creek and the surrounding areas, we are committed to offering thorough and specialized training to ensure seniors are safe and thriving in the comfort of home. If you or someone you know is interested in a fulfilling career opportunity where you can truly make a difference, contact us today at 925-933-8181 to learn more about our CNA and HHA training programs.

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.

Tips for Managing Dementia and Incontinence

senior woman drinking orange juice in a seat at home

Learn effective ways to manage dementia and incontinence in older adults.

Dementia care calls for both compassion and creativity to deal with an assortment of challenging behaviors and effects, and that is particularly true with regards to incontinence, something that is exceedingly common in Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. These tried-and-true approaches are generally helpful in lessening the effect of incontinence and protecting against an escalation of emotions in someone you adore with Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Pick your words very carefully. Instead of talking about incontinence products as “diapers,” for example, call them “briefs” or “pull-up underwear.” However, take the cue from your senior loved one; if she or he decides to utilize the word “diapers” and appears at ease with that, then follow along.
  2. Clear away regular underwear from the senior’s dresser. To avoid frustration or opposition to wearing incontinence products, make certain those are the only choice in his or her closet.
  3. Experiment with various products. With different brands, sizes, and absorbency levels on the market, it may take some experimenting to come across one that’s most comfortable and effective.
  4. Use backup products overnight. To help prevent the older adult from waking throughout the night from incontinence-related issues, try inserting booster pads within the absorbent underwear, and use products marked for heaviest coverage. Waterproof mattress protectors and disposable bed pads can also be extremely helpful.
  5. Ensure easy access into the bathroom. Complete a walk-through of the areas the older adult spends time in to estimate how easy it is for her or him to make it to the bathroom. Most notably, take away any clutter, cords, or throw rugs in the senior’s walking path to prevent falls.
  6. If an accident does occur… Maintain a relaxed demeanor in order not to offend (or further upset) the older adult, and say something like, “It looks like something might have spilled on your pants; let’s get you some clean clothes,” or “It appears as if your pants are wet; that happens occasionally.”
  7. Address reluctance to keep products on. For older adults who frequently make an effort to remove incontinence products, first see if you can identify why. The senior may be trying to change, due to a feeling of wetness. If uncomfortableness is an issue, try different types of products to find one that is more comfortable. In all instances, monitor the senior’s skin for signs and symptoms of rash or irritation, and contact his / her medical doctor if noted.

For more tips for managing dementia and incontinence, and to discover more about Hillendale Home Care’s dependable, professional home care services, reach out to us at 925-933-8181 and speak to one of our compassionate team members today. We can provide Danville area caregivers as well as caregivers to several other California communities. See our service area.

Caregivers: Learn the Signs of a CHF Flare

hands holding heart

Watch for these 5 signs of a CHF flare-up.

Congestive heart failure, or CHF, is a condition that occurs when the heart isn’t able to pump blood as efficiently as it should. CHF can be brought on by several other conditions, such as high blood pressure or coronary artery disease. Those with CHF may experience flare-ups, or sudden worsening of symptoms. As a professional Hillendale Home Care caregiver, you can help the clients we serve with CHF by watching for signs of a flare-up and taking steps to help them manage the condition.

Following are five changes to watch for:

  • Sudden weight gain. If a client gains three or more pounds within a period of one or two days, it could mean that his or her body is retaining fluid. Excessive fluid can exacerbate CHF symptoms. Those with CHF should weigh themselves each day and keep a record of daily weight. That way, they will recognize changes the doctor should know about.
  • Swelling of abdomen, feet or legs. Swelling is a result of fluid buildup in the body. It can be painful, or cause nausea or constipation. Report to your supervisor right away if you notice that a client’s legs, feet or abdomen are swollen, as this is a condition that will require medical attention.
  • Coughing/shortness of breath. Coughing and/or shortness of breath are often the result of too much fluid in the lungs, which will make it hard to breathe comfortably. Things to watch for include shortness of breath when performing simple, everyday tasks, such as getting dressed; shortness of breath while resting or lying down; or waking up in the night and feeling as though it’s hard to breathe. If your client is experiencing these symptoms, let your supervisor know immediately so that medical attention can be obtained. If the symptoms are severe or worsen, call 911 for help right away.
  • Rapid heartbeat. If someone with CHF experiences a racing heart or a heartbeat that feels irregular, contact your supervisor for immediate medical assistance.
  • Fatigue. Some degree of tiredness is normal with CHF, but if your client suddenly becomes unusually fatigued and is experiencing any other warning signs, contact your supervisor for immediate medical assistance.

If your client has CHF and begins to feel faint, is having chest pain that won’t subside with rest, feels dizzy or confused or can’t breathe, call 911 immediately.

For more tips to help someone with CHF to prevent or work through a flare-up, contact Hillendale Home Care, the top providers of professional home care services in Walnut Creek and the surrounding area. You can also explore opportunities to join Hillendale Home Care’s team of care experts through our CNA and HHA school.