Posted on

How Care Managers Impact the Caregiving Industry

retreat for caregivers
(Learn more about the retreat by clicking the above image!)

The following is from Caregiver Transformation Retreat co-creator, Amanda LaRose…

Do you have an elder in your life that you sometimes worry about? If you do, then you know how difficult it can be supporting them in accepting elder care, coordinating it, and overseeing the care. Do you know that Care Managers help with all of this? Aging Life Care Managers are trained professionals who are governed by an association called The Aging Life Care Association, serving the United States and Canada. Our staff at We Care Management, LLC are Advanced Professionals in this association because we have the highest credentials for our field, showing we are experts.

As people age, they often acquire difficulties with their health and daily functioning and therefore have more stress and more things to “manage”. It can become a full-time job taking care of one’s life as they navigate through the aging process, whether it is the individual themselves managing everything or a family member or friend. We often see these circumstances lead to increased frustration, worry, sadness, and a loss of the ability to have enough time to take part in enjoyable activities. Because there are multiple health issues to deal with and therefore many appointments, in addition to all of the other daily life tasks, people can become overwhelmed and sometimes forget appointments or plan for them on the wrong day.

If you or someone you know is experiencing something similar to this, we encourage you to ask for help in managing some of this, so you and your loved ones can still have time and energy for enjoyable activities in your day to day lives!  Some Aging Life Care Managers provide licensed counseling services and help individuals find ways of relieving your emotional distress and overall stress! For adult children who live far away from their parents, they can even provide Teletherapy counseling via a secure video chat.

If you have any questions about Care Management as a resource, reach out to We Care Management, LLC to allow us the honor of supporting you in helping the elder in your life!  If you don’t live in Northern Virginia we can point you in the right direction!

Posted on

Caregiving Kinetics Blog Named Among Top 50

Award badge

Caregiving Kinetics’ blog was recently named to Feedspot’s Top 50 Blogs in the Caregiving category. This blog was chosen by Feedspot’s editorial team out of countless other submissions based on metrics such as blog quality, posting consistency, social popularity, and Google search rankings.

Written by caregiving consultant, healthcare keynote speaker, and company founder Dr. Aaron Blight, the blog features posts drawn from personal experience, interactions with patients and families, academic research, industry trends, and deeply held beliefs, including the importance of giving and receiving care– not only for others but for caregivers themselves.

“It wasn’t until my wife Jessica and I began caring for her relatively young mother who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor that I truly began to understand the scope and significance of caregiving on a personal level,” says Aaron.

Although Aaron had previously been writing national healthcare policy for the elderly, his experience as a caregiver changed the direction of his career entirely. He opened a home care company to help seniors and their families who were facing similar aging-related challenges. Although he started his home care company with a desire to focus on senior care and their loved ones, interactions with employees led Aaron to care equally about his staff. Aaron’s research, developed in connection with his doctoral degree, offers insight into how caregivers experience and embrace their roles.

In his award-winning blog, Dr. Aaron Blight draws on a combination of personal experience and industry knowledge to create content that supports and resonates with all those caring for a loved one, and those working to create a culture of caregiving based on more than “fed, meds, and bed.”

Caregiving Kinetics delivers consulting and customized caregiving presentations to large and small groups in the Washington, DC area, throughout the United States, and abroad.

Posted on

Jennifer Gullison Receives the Caregiving Kinetics Hand & Heart Award

Congratulations to Jennifer Gullison RN, MSN, COS-C, Chronic Care-S of Cornerstone VNA for receiving the Caregiving Kinetics Hand and Heart Award today at the Northeast Home Health Leadership Summit!

In nominating Jennifer for the surprise recognition, CEO Julie Reynolds said, “Jen Gullison came to Cornerstone VNA right out of nursing school, has been with us for 18 years and has been a force of professional growth now holding the position of Chief Clinical Officer. She has a passion for the work we do and she brings it with her every day along with her positive attitude. She always remembers the importance of the patient, their family/caregivers, and the clinicians when making decisions. She is an amazing positive influence on staff, encouraging and coaching them to be their best and providing opportunities for them to be successful through support and education. Jen embraces all this change we have gone through and are now going through with excitement and creativity-always with the mission in mind.”

Thank you, Jennifer, for serving not only with your hands but also with your heart as you lead clinical services at Cornerstone VNA.

caregiving professionals

Posted on

The Challenges & Benefits of Explaining Yourself & Your Care Situation(s) to Family, Friends, & Health Professionals

retreat for caregiving professionals
(Learn more about the retreat by clicking the above image!)

The following is from Caregiver Transformation Retreat co-creator and award-winning professor, Zachary White…

When care meets love, everything changes. Once you become a caregiver, your existing relationship with your loved one is both the same and different. Your relationship with your friends and family is both the same and different. And nearly everything you once took for granted—the parts of your life that made so much sense—may suddenly feel strange and unfamiliar, overwhelming and disorienting.

My own life experiences as a caregiver, my role as a professor of communication, and my academic research on caregiving across the life spectrum tell me that caregiving is not only about what you do with your loved one, but also how you begin making sense of what is happening to you and your loved one, and how you seek to share your care experiences with others.

Too often, we feel compelled to put on caregiver masks to “protect” our loved ones and save our precious emotional energy from others’ well intentioned but often disappointing responses.  Over time, we may find ourselves simply giving people what we think they want to hear, creating feelings of aloneness and resentment.

Unless we give ourselves permission to meaningfully examine how our caregiver role and relationship impacts our beliefs, values, and ways of connecting with others, we will remain voiceless, adrift in other people’s clichés and assumptions.  Too often, caregivers miss out on the opportunity to collaboratively engage others in the midst of their care experiences.

I am proud to be a part of the Caregiver Transformation Retreat because caregiving requires that we reorient ourselves to what is happening so we can begin reclaiming the meaning(s) of our care experiences in ways that work for us.

Together, at the Retreat, we will learn communication skills and strategies designed to help you communicate more effectively and authentically with audiences that matter to you.

Together, we will discuss new ways of of thinking about and sharing your experiences that more closely align with your lived experiences, care constraints, and emerging values and insights.

Together, we will practice how to explain difficult truths to family, friends, work colleagues, and providers.

Together, we will explore the value of sharing “good” news so that the full range of your everyday care experiences are identified, remembered, and valued, increasing the likelihood of ongoing caregiver self-compassion and resilience.

Together, we will enhance your connection literacy to help you better identify and receive the kinds of in-person and online support that are most useful and valuable to you throughout your care journey.

Whomever we are and wherever we are in our care journeys, we can only find ourselves when we hear ourselves, out loud, begin to integrate and communicate the parts of our care experiences that make us—us.  It’s never too early or too late to begin this process . . .

Dr. Zachary White earned his Ph.D. in communication from Purdue University. He is an Associate Professor in the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte. His research and teaching explore a range of care experiences, including birth (parental NICU experiences), chronic caregiver experiences (spousal caregiving), and end-of-life caregiving. As an award-winning university professor, Zachary teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses addressing topics such as provider-patient communication, caregiver communication, the patient experience, health and illness narratives, digital health literacy, online social support, and sense making amidst life transitions. He is the co-author (with Donna Thomson) of The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation from Loved One to Caregiver (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). He blogs at The Unprepared Caregiver (www.unpreparedcaregiver.com).

Posted on

Caregiving Kinetics Announces The First Caregiver Transformation Retreat

retreat for caregivers
(Learn more about the retreat by clicking the above image!)

The following is from Caregiver Transformation Retreat co-creator, Donna Thomson…

All of us have been transformed by caregiving. Now we have an opportunity to go deeper, to share our hard-earned wisdom and to map out a new way of practical caring without desperation or burnout. And the best way to achieve this new perspective is face to face, together with others who understand – in The Caregiver Transformation Retreat.

My life of caregiving began in 1988 when our son Nicholas was born with severe cerebral palsy. During the first years of his life, Nick was often ill and in pain. They were sleepless years, infused with desperate worry. Of course, all this happened before the internet became a lifeline for caregiver support. What we did have though, were parent retreats, sponsored by our local Easter Seal Society.

Those parent retreats were my annual opportunity to learn about new therapies, strategize about the sibling experience and compare notes about ways and means of keeping my marriage intact. But perhaps the best thing about the retreats was the bonding with other parents. Here suddenly, were others who understood. And there were older, wiser parents who took on a natural mentoring role. There was a palpable sense of safety and soothing in those retreats. We all felt it.

holding mom's handFast forward to 2016. My sister Karen and I found ourselves in the thick of caring for our mom, a loving but willful 94 year old with dementia. Mom was in denial about her needs and living independently with insufficient support. “Muddling through” was a good descriptor for how we were doing. When we could, my sister and I retreated to our family cabin by the lake. On forest walks, we wondered what might happen if Mom broke one more rule. We laughed at the outrageous imaginings of telling Mom what we really thought about her bad behavior. At the end of the weekend, we went back to being good daughters, diffusing crises and brokering deals to ensure Mom’s stability for another week or month.

Looking back on the caregiving retreats in my life, I feel deeply grateful. I appreciate the cyber friendships of other caregivers, but the face-to-face retreats have been something very special to me. They were energizing, hopeful, knowledge-filled and inspiring. In short, they were transformational.

Now, together with Aaron Blight, Zachary White and Amanda LaRose, I am honored and excited to be a co-creator of the new Caregiver Transformation Retreat. Our team has come together with a clear vision of what is helpful to caregivers, wherever they are in their journey of caring. Our retreat is tailored to every group we serve, whether participants are medical professionals or family caregivers. Resilience, personal transformation and a changed perspective on the well of human kindness are the by-products of our retreats. Participants will leave energized, with a new sense of purpose and fulfillment in their caring roles – outcomes only achievable in the magical moments of face to face retreats.

Posted on

“When the wood-insect gathers sticks on its own head, it carries them.”

Have you ever attended a conference that was unlike any other?

A conference that broadened your understanding in ways you never imagined?

A conference that so deeply affected you that you’re going to be a better person because you were there?

AEMRN conferenceThe recent Afro-European Medical Research Network (AEMRN) Conference was such an event for me.

I traveled to the United Nations Palace in Geneva, Switzerland, to deliver a speech about caregiving at AEMRN’s annual meeting. Whatever I may have contributed to the agenda, it was returned tenfold to me.

I met incredible professionals who are working diligently to promote health-related causes in Africa. I wrote a close-up about one of them here. Everyone I met at AEMRN is devoting their time and their resources to benefit those who struggle under conditions of poverty in Africa.

I learned so much from the other conference participants about the African continent, culture, and challenges. I also learned about what it means to care.

I was uplifted by my many personal conversations with people of wisdom, resilience, and authenticity. I honestly felt as if I had joined a tribe. Dr. Christian Sesay told me that the warmth extended to me was not unusual. “When you go to Africa, they roll out the red carpet for you,” he said.

Dr. Sesay proceeded to share a couple of African proverbs, which I’m still contemplating, days later. One of those proverbs is the title of this post. He offered the proverbs to me as a gift, not a material gift but a spiritual gift, a proverbial application of insight into my own life circumstances. I believe I will carry his gift with me forever.

When humans genuinely care for one another, connections are made that can penetrate perceived social barriers such as race, nationality, and even language. Caring is quite possibly the most universal of all languages.aaron on AEMRN panel

 

Posted on

When is the Last Time You Really Felt Connected to Your Job?

 

Caregiving consultant and healthcare speaker Dr. Aaron Blight often takes the time to answer questions on Quora about caregiving organizational development, senior care, healthcare consulting, and many other topics. In this latest post, he answers the question:

When is the Last Time You Really Felt Connected to Your Job?

Dr. Blight: I’d have to say it was last week, when I had the privilege of going to the United Nations Palace in Geneva, Switzerland, to speak on and advocate for caregivers across the globe.

dr. blight at un building

I feel connected to my job because in reality, it’s no longer a job. It’s a calling.

In the past, I’ve certainly worked in positions that were nothing more than jobs, but the trajectory of my life led me here.

You see, it was about 20 years ago when my mother-in-law got a brain tumor at a relatively young age…

…and we became her family caregivers. Despite holding one of those “jobs” in national healthcare policy, I didn’t know much about cancer, aging, or caregiving. That completely changed with my mother-in-law’s diagnosis.

I later started a home care company to help families like mine who were caring for aging and sick loved ones…

…and I got a doctoral degree that enabled me to study caregiving as a phenomenon of social science.

I came to discover how challenging, vitally important, and ubiquitous caregiving is. Paradoxically, the understanding of caregiving is limited, and the needs of caregivers are often overlooked.

So I’ve adopted the cause of caregiving, or perhaps the cause of caregiving has adopted me.

caregiving speaker

I feel connected to my job because I know that caregivers all over the world can use a little help.

Posted on

A Nurse Making a Difference

doctor blight with nurse bieri

I’d like to introduce you to Doreen Bieri, a nurse who was born in Cameroon and lives in Switzerland. I met her this week at the Afro-European Medical Research Network’s annual conference, and I wanted to tell you about her inspiring work.

Doreen combines her medical knowledge with her understanding of Cameroonian society to make a unique contribution. She makes washable sanitary pads for young Cameroonian girls who begin menstruation.

If you’re in my network, then you may have heard me talk about aging and you know that I support openly acknowledging the realities of the human body. There are realities of our physiology, realities of life, which people don’t always want to talk about. Menstruation is one of those things.

Doreen plainly speaks of growing up as a young girl without education or hygiene assistance, and she sees the same situation faced by girls in Cameroon today.

So she decided to do something about it. She enlisted the help of a few volunteers, and they started making washable sanitary pads for young women. Funded entirely by herself, Doreen and her team have produced hundreds of washable pads for Cameroonian girls, and she trains the girls (and their mothers, if necessary) on how to use them.

At one point in Doreen’s presentation, she asked the audience to look under the table where we were sitting. I discovered a washable sanitary pad under my table. Yeah, that happened.

Doreen is making a difference, and she welcomes partners in her work. She can be contacted via her website at https://chongaforfoundation.com/.

 

caregiving speaker

Posted on

Dr. Aaron Blight Answers: Is Gerontology a Growing Career Field?

Caregiving consultant and healthcare keynote speaker Dr. Aaron Blight often takes time to post topics and answer questions on Quora about senior care, caregiving organizational development, healthcare consulting, and many other topics. For December’s entry, we highlight his recent answer to a question regarding gerontology.

“Is gerontology a growing career field?”

Not to be confused with geriatrics, the medical specialty, gerontology involves the study of the physical, mental, and social aspects of human aging. In response to your question, I would highlight some of the trends in our society:

  • people are living longer lives than ever before in the history of the world;
  • people are living with chronic conditions longer than ever before in the history of the world;
  • the fastest growing segment of the population is the 85+ age group;
  • this year, for the first time ever in human history, there are more people over age 65 than under age 5;
  • the number of people over age 65 will dramatically increase over the rest of the century, while the number of children under age 5 will remain fairly constant;
  • there’s a shortage of professionals who are prepared to deal with the social, behavioral, physical, and economic implications of our aging population.

Here’s a chart showing the forecasted future of the global population of 65+ year old people compared to the global population of children under age 5:

world population graph

In light of the above conditions, is gerontology a growing career field? You better believe it is. Moreover, as you might anticipate by looking at the chart derived from United Nations forecasting, the need for gerontologists is only going to increase in the foreseeable future.

The growing demand for gerontologists alone is a compelling reason to choose this career path. But here are three additional reasons why the field is super interesting:

First is the universality of gerontology.

Aging happens to every single one of us, so you study stuff that everybody can relate to. Stuff that really matters. By examining the wide-ranging dimensions of aging, gerontology encompasses the very essence of human life.

Second is the interdisciplinary nature of gerontology.

Gerontology draws from all disciplines that have something to teach us about aging humans, including biology, medicine, sociology, psychology, public health, anthropology, etc. Gerontologists are not limited to the “tools” or the ”lens” of one particular discipline, which produces a rich and multi-faceted view of the subject.

Third is the array of career paths chosen by those who study gerontology.

Trained gerontologists are found across a diverse spectrum of work settings, including government, academia, business, non-profit, healthcare, and long-term care organizations. If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in gerontology, you may find that your knowledge is translatable, relevant, and valuable to many different groups who need help serving an aging population.

Useful links:

Link to the Career Center of the Gerontological Society of America.

Link to an article on how Gerontologists Are Becoming a Hotter Hire as Consumers Age.

Link to a dated but informative article from a social work publication asking “Is a gerontology career in your future?

Posted on

How Can Employers Assist & Support Employees Who Are Caregivers?

caregiving employer

Caregiving consultant and healthcare keynote speaker Dr. Aaron Blight takes time to post topics and answer questions on Quora about caregiving organizational development, senior care, healthcare consulting, and many other topics. In this month’s post, we highlight his recent question regarding how employers can support employees who are caregivers.

Employees who are family caregivers find themselves asking this question: which comes first, my job or my family?

The Dilemma

“Checklist care” is faster and easier to provide because it focuses on the physical needs of the care receiver.

Caregiving has the potential to tip the scales of balance that conscientious people strive to achieve in doing good, both at work and at home. Family caregivers go about their daily lives knowing that at any particular moment, they may have to drop what they are doing to attend to the needs of their loved one.

Your family is important. Your job is important. Family and work should not be mutually exclusive, but sometimes, for caregivers, they are. Or at least it seems like they are.

The Family Caregiving Alliance (FCA) has gathered some statistics about caregivers who work. Here are a few of the highlights from the linked page:

  • 70% of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual roles.
  • Many caregivers feel they have no choice about taking on caregiving responsibilities (49%). This sense of obligation is even higher in caregivers that provide 21 or more hours of care per week (59%) and live-in caregivers (64%).
  • 60% of caregivers in 2015 were employed at one point while also caregiving.
  • Only 56% of caregivers report that their work supervisor is aware of their caregiving responsibilities.

Employees bring their “whole selves” to work. As much as an employer might want to tell an employee to keep personal problems at home, it’s never quite that easy, especially for family caregivers. While at work, family caregivers may become distracted or preoccupied with their loved one’s needs; they may show signs of depression or moodiness; or their actual work performance may be affected. In turn, employers are confronted with lost productivity and potential performance management issues.

The Path Ahead

Employers need to understand these caregiving challenges. It has become a business necessity. Our aging population signals that there will be an ever-increasing number of employed family caregivers for the foreseeable future.

Employers need to do better helping employees who are serving as family caregivers. According to the FCA, approximately one-quarter or less of the caregivers surveyed stated that they have access to employer-sponsored support (e.g. support group discussions, ask-a-nurse type services, financial or legal consultation, and assisted living counselors).

What can employers do? They can take steps to ensure that work and family caregiving are not mutually exclusive ideals. Here are some suggestions:

  • create policies that permit accommodations for employees who are family caregivers, such as flextime and flexplace.
  • make counseling services available to employees who juggle family caregiving responsibilities.
  • start a caregiver support group for employees.
  • establish pathways to professional services that meet the needs of employed caregivers, including home care, assisted living, legal and financial help, and/or geriatric medicine.
  • facilitate training opportunities for employees to develop their capacity to care for aging and disabled loved ones.
  • educate managers on caregiver discrimination (strong word, I know) so that employees are not presumed to be less committed to work simply because they care for a loved one in need at home.
  • We hear lots of discussion about equal employment opportunity and fostering supportive workplace environments for people of all races, genders, and ethnic backgrounds. Family caregivers come from all backgrounds, but in the dialogue about supportive workplaces, the needs of this growing segment of the workforce are often overlooked. It’s time for bosses, employers, and governments to take a hard look at the plight of the employed family caregiver.