Wednesday, October 26, 2016

More Companies Offer Benefits to Caregivers

by Emily Anderson

Photo by Dan Chmill
The national consulting firm Deloitte just became the latest company to recognize the needs of the modern workforce by offering its employees sixteen weeks of paid family caregiving leave. Their flexible leave policy covers caregiving for infants, adult children, aging parents, and other family members.

This is a breakthrough because it recognizes that caregiving is an important role that affects most workers at several different points in their lives. Though we haven't found a perfect solution, the issues parents face in balancing work with raising children are at least well known. However, people are still less likely to discuss their experiences with other types of caregiving, such as caring for an adult child with disabilities or an aging parent. Yet about a quarter of us are working this "second shift" now, and by 2030, about a third of us will be. Many caregivers have to cut back their hours or stop working altogether to help their loved ones, while those that continue working suffer from increased stress and decreased productivity.

Deloitte is not alone in recognizing the needs of caregivers. In addition to time off, other major companies have begun to offer employees benefits like flexible works schedules, access to geriatric care counseling, and respite care. When you look at the numbers, it's easy to see why these companies are offering such benefits. A report by the AARP and ReACT found that for every $1 an employer invests in caregiver supports, they get a return of $1.70-$4.45 through higher employee retention and better productivity.

Your company may offer benefits that you aren't taking advantage of yet. If your organization has an employee assistance program (EAP), check if they offer any resources your loved one could use, like counseling, referrals to respite care, or legal advice. Many companies offer time off to take care of an older loved one, though you may have to negotiate to get it or take the time unpaid. Consider talking to your human resources representative or manager to see what options you have.

Often a company is not sensitive to the needs of caregivers until someone in upper management experiences it themselves. Each person who shares their experience and asks for more flexibility or support helps make the way easier for the next person who becomes a caregiver.

Whether you are an employer or an employee, learn more by visiting the ReACT website or the Family Caregiver Alliance to learn more about work and caregiving.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Assisting with Moving a Person in a Wheelchair

by Kristen West

Many older adults reach a point where they need a wheelchair to navigate around the house or out in the community. At the same time, they may need more assistance sitting up, standing, or moving from place to place. If you are trying to help a loved one who uses a wheelchair, tasks like using the bathroom or getting into a car can feel awkward and intimidating. Like most new skills, transferring someone for the first time can be frightening, but with a little practice you can become confident in your ability help your loved one move to and from a wheelchair.

A few household objects and additions can make moving around the home much simpler for people who need assistance. First, talk to a doctor or physical therapist and consider purchasing a transfer belt, a soft wide strap that goes around your loved one's back and gives you a place to hold onto them without injuring tender skin or joints. Second, make sure there are plenty of sturdy grab bars in commonly used areas such as near the bed, in the bathroom, and in the dining area. Depending on your loved one's needs, other assistance devices like a tall toilet seat or a shower chair might be helpful.

Describing a movement is difficult, so consider watching some videos or asking a health professional to show you how to do these moves before you try them. Read these instructions slowly and picture yourself doing each step, or even try acting it out as you read. Always remember to protect yourself by using good body mechanics--it will not help your loved one if you injure your back or knees trying to move them around!

When moving an older adult from a bed to a wheelchair:

  1. First, explain to the person you are moving what is about to happen.
  2. Move the wheelchair to the bedside, lock the wheels, and move the footrests or any other  obstructions that may interfere with the transfer.
  3. Pull the bed sheet back to the foot of the bed.
  4. If the person is able to sit up, ask them to scoot to the foot of the bed.
  5. If the person is unable to sit up, move the person to the side of the bed closest to the wheel chair. Place one hand behind the knees of the individual and your other hand on their opposite shoulder. Swing the patient's feet to the floor using the hand behind their knees while supporting their torso into an upright position with your hand behind their shoulder.
  6. Ask them to plant both feet on the floor.  
  7. Bend your knees and put one of your legs between their knees. Reach around the person to hold them by the waist or back and straighten your legs to lift them to a standing position. 
  8. Slowly stand up and, if the person is able, ask them to place their hands at their sides and push off the bed.
  9. Pivot towards the wheelchair while moving your feet so your back and hips stay aligned.
  10. As their legs begin to touch the wheelchair, slowly lower the person into the chair and ask them to reach for the armrests. 
For a more detailed guide on moving an adult from a bed to a wheelchair, check here.


When moving an older adult from a wheelchair to a couch or chair:

  1. First, explain to the person you are moving what is about to happen.
  2. Position the wheelchair directly next to the surface, lock the wheels, and move the foot rests and any other obstructions that may interfere with the transfer.
  3. Move the person to the front of the wheelchair and ask them to plant both feet on the floor.  
  4. Position yourself in front of the individual - keeping your knees bent and your back straight-  have the individual lean in toward you.
  5. Grasp them by the waist or back and slowly stand up. If the person is able, ask them to place their hands at their side and push off the arms of the wheelchair.
  6. Pivot towards the chair or couch while moving your feet so your back and hips stay aligned.
  7. As their legs begin to touch the new surface, slowly lower the person and ask them to reach for support.
Check out an illustrated tutorial here on how to move older adults from a wheelchair to couch.

When moving an older adult from a wheelchair to a toilet seat:

  1. First, explain to the person you are moving what is about to happen.
  2. Position the wheelchair directly next to the toilet or as close as possible, lock the wheels, and move the foot rests and any other obstructions that may interfere with the transfer.
  3. Move the person to the front of the wheelchair and ask them to plant both feet on the floor.  
  4. If you have a transfer belt, assist the person in making sure it is secure. 
  5. Position yourself in front of the individual - keeping your knees bent and your back straight - have the individual lean in toward you.
  6. Slowly stand up, and if the person is able, ask them to place their hands at their side and push off the arms of the wheelchair.
  7. Pivot towards the toilet seat while moving your feet so your back and hips stay aligned.
  8. As their legs begin to touch the new surface, slowly lower the person and ask them to reach for support. It will help immensely if you have a raised toilet seat and grab bars. 
  9. Help the person stand again while holding on to a steady support to remove clothing or perform hygiene routines after using the toilet.
For an illustrated tutorial on how to move older adults around the bathroom, click here. 

When moving an older adult from a wheelchair to the car:

  1. First, explain to the person you are moving what is about to happen.
  2. Park the car far enough from curbs or other obstructions that you and your loved one have plenty of room to navigate.
  3. Move the wheelchair beside the car, lock the wheels, and move the foot rests and any other  obstructions that may interfere with the transfer.
  4. Slide the car seat as far back as possible.
  5. Assist the individual in moving to the edge of the wheelchair seat.
  6. Position yourself in front of the individual - keeping your knees bent and your back straight-  have the individual lean in toward you.
  7. Grasp them around the back and slowly stand up. If the person is able, ask them to place their hands at their side and push off the arms of the wheelchair.
  8. Pivot towards the car while moving your feet so your back and hips stay aligned.
  9. As their legs touch the car seat, slowly lower the person into the car and let them know they can use handles in the car for stability. Do not let them hold the car door for stability, as it can swing shut and cause injury. Watch that the person does not hit their head as they sit back.
  10. After the person is stable on the seat, help them swing their legs into the car and fasten the seat belt if necessary.
For a video tutorial on how to move older adults from a wheel chair to a car, click here.

You may notice that the process for each of these is quite similar, with some variations. Once you master the skill of safely moving your loved one, you will be able to figure out the best way to apply it in each situation. With some assistance from you, your loved one will be able to enjoy more varied scenery in and out of the house.

Don't feel confident yet? It's much easier if you see it in action a few times first. For step by step video tutorials, create a free account with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and select "Choose a Course" for a complete list of video resources for caregivers.




Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Easy Steps for Caregivers to Simplify Grooming at Home

by Kristen West

How do I shave my husband's face? How can I help my mother bathe while still maintaining her dignity? What if my father can't hold his tooth brush?
These questions and many more are not uncommon for first-time and veteran caregivers.
Assisting with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and meal preparation is called personal care or custodial care. The transition from independent personal care to supported personal care can be challenging and every individual has a different support structure.
When reviewing your options, it is important to look at your own family structure, culture and what expectations you and your family members may have. Perhaps you have decided to keep your family's involvement as minimal as possible, or perhaps you have developed a system of caregiving by which family is your primary support for personal care.
Caregiving can be intimidating at first but there are small steps you can take to make everyday life more manageable. Below are some common topics of personal care which caregivers experience every day and some suggestions on how to ease assistance with personal care.

If your loved one has difficulty bathing:

  • Most people do not need to bathe everyday. When it is time to bathe, have all the supplies ready and allow the person to bathe as much of themselves as possible. Maybe they can only wash their legs and feet or hold a washcloth, but involving them in the process as much as possible can reduce their anxiety.
  • Respect their privacy and keep them covered as much as possible.
  • Keep the room and water temperature comfortably warm.
  • Install handle bars, non-slip mats, and a hand-held shower attachment if possible.
  • If your older adult requires a bed bath, ask your doctor about having a home health aide or trained caregiver instruct you on proper techniques for giving a bed bath.

If your loved one has difficulty dressing:

  • Allow enough time for them to dress as much of themselves as possible.
    For example, maybe your mother can put on her shirt but needs some assistance with the smaller buttons on her blouse. Allow time for her to dress in her shirt independently and then offer assistance when buttoning her blouse.
  • Let them have a choice in their outfit options for the day. If an entire closet of options is overwhelming, lay out two options at the beginning of the day to limit the selection.
  • If the older adult experiences pain when dressing, you can reduce pain by clothing the weak arm or leg first before pulling the shirt or pant over the strong arm or leg first then reverse the process when removing clothing.


If your loved one needs assistance with hair care or facial grooming:

  • Try washing their hair in the kitchen sink if the tub or shower it too difficult.
  • Consider using dry shampoo products found at most drug stores if hair washing is impossible.
  • Use an electric shaver when shaving another person for ease and safety.
  • When shaving a man's facial hair, have him sit in an upright position if possible and put dentures in his mouth before shaving.
  • More information on hair care and facial grooming

If your loved one has difficultly holding a tooth brush:

  • Slide a bicycle grip, foam tube, or tennis ball over the handle of the toothbrush.
  • Buy a toothbrush with a larger handle.
  • Attach the toothbrush handle to their hand with a wide elastic band.
  • More information on dental care
For step by step video tutorials, create a free account with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and select "Choose a Course" for a complete list of video resources for caregivers.



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Get Smart: October Events and Classes

by Emily Anderson

As it gets chilly outside, head inside to learn about resources and events that can help you and your family care for your older loved ones.

New Developments in Medicare

October 6th, 11:30am-3:00pm
1 Smithfield St, Downtown Pittsburgh
Hosted by the non-profit APPRISE, this "lunch and learn" session will discuss what to expect from health care coverage in the next year. Call Bill at 412-661-1670 Ext 645 to register.

Multiple Sclerosis Presentation

October 13th, 10:00am
Panera Bread, 400 Penn Center Blvd
Meet and listen to Brian Sibenac, Senior Services Specialist from the PA Keystone Chapter of the National MS Society. No RSVP needed.

Councilman Ed Kress Senior Fairs

October 14th, 10:00am-1:00pm, St, Juan Diego Parish Hall, Sharpsburgh
October 19th, 10:00am-1:00pm, Reserve Twp VFD, Reserve Twp
Visit one of these free events to explore resources and supports that are available in your area. No RSVP needed.

Walk to End Alzheimer's

October 15th, 10:00am
Heinz Field
Register for this two-mile walk to raise awareness and funds to support the care, research, and assistance the Alzheimer's Association offers to the millions of families dealing with dementia each year. For more information on the walk and how to register, check their website here.

Table Talk for Seniors and Their Families

October 20th, 10:00am
Jodi B's Restaurant, 2600 Ardmore Blvd, Forest Hills
Join Melissa Allenbaugh from Eastern Area Adult Services to learn how to navigate the different services in home health care, including medical vs non-medical, personal care, nursing care, palliative, and hospice care. Call (412) 829-9250 or email eaas@eeas.org for more information.

Power of Support Caregiver Conference

November 4th, 8:30am-4:00pm
Ace Hotel, 120 S. Whitfield St, Pittsburgh PA
This free conference hosted by the Alzheimer's Association will focus on family dynamics, care choices, and dealing with grief. Family caregivers are encouraged to come learn, rejuvenate, and feel empowered. Contact Suzanne at (412) 261-5040 or sweessies@alz.org to register.