Archive for December, 2010

Holiday Safety Check

Families gathered for the holidays are offered the perfect time to sit together and discuss preventative safety issues with their aging seniors. Routine safety checks for loose wires, frayed rugs, unused and expired medicine and well placed stabilizing bars are great places to start, but there is much more to discuss in preventive safety measures.

I sat with a son today at his mother’s hospital bedside as he relayed the story of how he found his mom in her home on the floor of her running shower. From the extent of water damage in her home she had obviously been compromised for more than a day. The period of time spent down and immobile affects outcomes. Muscle cell breakdown begins to occur 30-60 minutes after the fall. Discussions had been held periodically concerning the use of a medical alert system but she had refused to use one. What a difference it would have made in her recovery and long term status if someone had been alerted as soon as she had fallen.

We address safety issues through out our life span. Seat belts, car seats, helmets for bicycles and all terrain vehicles, plugs for wall sockets, designated drivers, eye protection etc. all are part of our personal protection gear. Why does safety stop and become unacceptable as we age?

I know longer climb on roofs to install my own wind turbines. I always hold on to the rail when using stairs. This is prevention and preventing accidents is just as important as we age as while we are younger. Society always refers to young adults as feeling invincible, defying danger, and their insurance rates reflect this. In my work with seniors, for the most part I see no difference. I hear the same thing from them as I hear from my 18year old: “I am always careful”.

Safety is important for everyone and the tools to assist this vary with need and age. Griswold Special Care can conduct a free home safety check and make recommendations for individual safety needs. Regardless of your age “an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure” still applies.

Caregiving Heros

Have you seen the new Genworth television ads?  They extol the virtues of those unsung family and friends who are caregivers.  They are young and old, male or female, and at times suffering from chronic illnesses or disability themselves.  Caregiving is not just a physical job, but a mental one too.  Caregivers are always on alert. They go through their day quietly, juggling constantly, asking for nothing.  They pray for patience, appreciation from those they are providing care for, guilt free days and a good nights sleep.  They need understanding from employers, friends and other family members.  They need an evening off, their lawn mowed, a meal cooked, their house cleaned, or just a kind word.   As my father neared the end of life what meant the most was the unsolicited phone calls asking how I was doing, a simple prayer card from my church with signatures of members in their own handwriting, a hot meal and a mowed lawn.  I have tried to return these favors to those that are caregiving.  These simple acts of kindness help support you through one more day of the most difficult and exhausting job; but at the same time the most precious, rewarding and selfless job you will ever have. During this holiday season give the gift of time to those you know that are giving all their time as a family caregiver.

Faces of Caregiving

The Faces of Caregiving are many.  They are of those that need assistance, and those providing the assistance.  The faces can be happy, sad, frustrated, content, compassionate or any of the many adjectives that embody the role of the family caregiver and their loved one.   I started the Faces of Caregiving photo album on the AcadianaGriswoldSpecialCare  – Facebook page because of the memories of being caregiver to my dad.  The emotions of caregiving run full spectrum from positive to negative, but in my case they were all connected by the common thread of the love I had for him.  There were too many moments of exhaustion, self-imposed quilt, and impatience.  There were more moments of laughter, journeys down memory lane, simple pleasures and new memory making moments.  Four years after the death of my dad, I look back and am flooded by the memories of those days and am surrounded with contentment and moments to smile about.  I remember the agony of  telling him the report from the doctor that he had 2 weeks to live and how he comforted me.  He lived for 90 more days bravely educating me with his actions and words on quality of life and dignity of death.  They were 90 days of love, 90 memory packed days.  My care for seniors and their families is guided by my memories of him and the lessons he taught me not just in those last 90 days but all of my life.  To me he is  the face of caregiving – the one that looks back at me each time I look into the face of someone new asking for some assistance.