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.

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.

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.