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Getting Older Q&A With Dr. Aaron Blight, May 2019

Dr. Aaron Blight on Quora

In his spare time, caregiving consultant and healthcare speaker Dr. Aaron Blight is happy to answer questions on Quora about caregiving organizational development, healthcare, support for family caregivers, senior care, and many other topics. In this post, we will examine his recent answer to a very popular question. What is different about this answer, though, is that Dr. Blight tackles the question from a societal view.

What’s the hardest part about getting older?

Dr. Aaron Blight:

I have read several of the 100+ compelling responses to this question and originally thought I don’t have too much to add to what has been expressed by other writers. Then I considered the fact that the responses I read address this question on a micro-level, at the level of the individual. I’d like to address the question on a macro-level, at the level of society.

Our society is getting older. People are living longer than ever before, with chronic conditions, and there are fewer children. In 2019, for the first time in history, there will be more people over age 65 than under age 5.

The hardest part about getting older – as a society – is that we must culturally redefine what it means to grow older, as a society.

Instead of marginalizing older adults because of their age, we should revere them.

Instead of pushing older adults into retirement homes, we should integrate them into communities.

Instead of looking upon retirement as “checking out,” we should see retirement as an opportunity to contribute in new and meaningful ways.

Instead of accepting ageism as the socially acceptable form of discrimination, we should reject it.

Instead of rushing past that old person we see in the store, we should smile and say hello.

Instead of emphasizing youthful attractiveness, we should focus on learned experience.

Instead of highlighting the disease, we should acknowledge the whole person.

Instead of treating the age 65+ population as a single cohesive unit, we should recognize the broad diversity among them.

That’s all for this edition. So, what do you think the hardest part is about getting older? Feel free to chime in on Quora or email us here at info @ caregivingkinetics.com with your thoughts – and be sure to check back on our blog over the coming weeks and months for more Q&A with Dr. Aaron Blight!

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As Consumers Age, Gerontologists Are Becoming Valuable Hires

benefits of hiring gerontologists The consumer population in the United States is aging, and businesses who want to continue to grow are being forced to adapt to that reality. In order to make sure they are remaining relevant to those who are now in an older age bracket, the idea of hiring a gerontologist is quickly becoming an appealing concept. Simply by hiring someone who understands how to target an older segment of the market, brands may be able to avoid making mistakes that could cost them dearly in the end.

It’s Not That Simple

An easy mistake to make, and one that has certainly been made by businesses in the past, is to think that all senior citizens can be lumped into the same consumer category. That is just as incorrect as trying to consider all buyers in their 30s to be similar in their wants and needs. Just because seniors happen to be the same age as each other does not mean they suddenly all have the same expectations as consumers. These people remain individuals as they age, and a gerontologist can help a brand sort out exactly what kinds of expectations their target market is going to possess.

Adapt or Die

For a long time, it seemed to be the case that brands would simply build their products with younger buyers in mind – and basically force older consumers to just deal with it. Now, however, with seniors making up such a sizable part of the market, it is necessary for brands to adapt to the needs of those in their retirement years. Since the market is so big, with so much buying power, businesses can no longer afford to basically ignore this segment. After all, if one business decides not to cater properly to the needs of their senior customers, one of their competitors will be more than happy to do so.

The Right Markets

Clearly, not every business is going to be able to benefit from bringing a gerontologist onto the staff. This is a valuable field of study, but it needs to be applicable to a business’ regular operations in order to make sense. Some of the markets which have been finding gerontology to be a useful addition to their office include financial services companies like investment companies and banks. Of course, that is in addition to the companies that have long sought out people trained in this area, such as senior living facilities.

Business is Business

At the end of the day, the idea behind hiring a gerontologist is the same as anything else a business does as part of its operations – it’s an attempt to serve customers. As those customers age, some of their expectations and needs will change, while others will stay the same. Having a person or people on staff who can analyze how those changes will intersect with a company’s offering of products or services can be huge.
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Quora Q&A With Dr. Aaron Blight, March 2019

Dr. Aaron Blight on Quora

In his spare time, caregiving consultant and healthcare speaker Dr. Aaron Blight is happy to answer questions on Quora about caregiving organizational development, healthcare, senior care, and many other topics. In this post, we will examine some of his most recent answers dealing with the healthcare industry.

What condition would be severe enough for a patient to require professional home healthcare 24 hours a day?

Dr. Aaron Blight:

Your question asks about not only the type of care but also the frequency of care for a loved one. This is a question that really requires a case-by-case assessment of conditions and circumstances.

The reason it’s a case-by-case answer is because caregiving tasks are always dictated by the dependencies of the care recipient. Those who provide care must address the care recipient’s unique conditions on an individual basis.

Care recipient needs have a long history of classification through the modern world of hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care. The established view of care recipient dependencies is based upon a distinction between activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), and other needs.

Caregiving tasks align across these differing spheres of dependency.

Activities of daily living (ADLs) are a standard list of personal activities that an individual is presumed to be able to do independently: toileting, transferring, dressing, bathing, managing continence, and feeding.

Over 50 years ago, these activities were indexed to create a uniform measurement tool of the needs of the aged population (Katz, Ford, Moskowitz, Jackson, & Jaffe, 1963). This Index of ADL was based upon an eight-year study of the dependencies of 1,001 elderly people, and it has been the foundation of much research on care dependencies and corresponding caregiving tasks since publication.

Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) were similarly classified in recognition of the fact that older persons commonly need help with activities in addition to ADLs. Instrumental activities of daily living include managing finances, doing housework, communicating with other people, taking medications, preparing meals, transportation, etc.

Typically within the long-term care system, when a person requires assistance with two or more ADLs, he or she is eligible for nursing home placement.

The same standard of eligibility for nursing home placement is often used by third party payers – such as long term care insurers – to also determine eligibility for reimbursable home care assistance.

Having said that, someone who needs help with 2 ADLs doesn’t necessarily need professional home healthcare 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

In addition to looking at ADLs and IADLs, here are a few discussion points to evaluate how much professional assistance you might secure for your loved one:

What does your loved one actually want in terms of help?

When at home, how safe is your loved one?

How do medical conditions and treatments factor into the situation?

What kind of informal support is currently offered from family and friends?

What kind of informal support could be available from family and friends?

Do your loved one’s needs follow a regular pattern? For example, is more help needed during night time?

Can modifications be made to the home environment to make it more suitable for your loved one’s changing conditions?

How receptive is your loved one to the idea of an outsider coming into their home to offer assistance?

As you evaluate needs – and include your loved one in the conversation – you will be able to develop a plan that balances not only safety and welfare but also dignity and independence.

How do you get a good job in Sr. Mgmt again (back in the larger market) after being out of the career for several years, caregiving for my aged parent in a small community?

Dr. Aaron Blight:

First, kudos to you for the sacrifice you have made on behalf of your parent. Your offering of self to your loved is a reflection of your character, values, and commitment to the people who matter most.

You’ve probably discovered that job hunting is dramatically different from what it used to be, thanks to the digital transformation of everything. For someone who has been out of the workforce for years, this can be overwhelming.

When you were in senior management several years ago, you knew that the best way to find a job was through networking. Remember that? Networking is when you actually talk to real human beings, and they tell you of job opportunities and maybe even help connect you with one.

It’s the same today.

The best way to find a job is still through networking, except today there are new ways to network.

The good news is that behind all of that digital stuff there are real human beings!

The internet makes it possible for you to expand your network online, using the many social media platforms that are available. As a person who has been in senior management, you may want to start an online networking effort through LinkedIn. Here are some reasons why:

Linkedin by the Numbers (2019): Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts

There are many human beings on LinkedIn who are in positions to help you return to the workforce.

Start by reaching out to people you know – friends and former colleagues – explain that you’re getting “back in the saddle” and would appreciate any help they can offer in finding a job. Connect with those people on LinkedIn. Ask them if they can refer you to someone they know in your field, and then you can also ask to connect with that newly referred contact via LinkedIn.

Here are a few suggestions for connecting on LinkedIn with someone you don’t know:

include a personalized message when you ask to connect – explain what prompted your request.

if the person accepts your request, say thank you and comment on something you learned about them from their profile.

ask if the person would have a few minutes for a phone call.

prepare for that phone call.

make sure to follow up, as appropriate, after the phone call. Your follow-up might lead to an eventual face-to-face meeting.

If you get to that face-to-face meeting with a real human being who happens to be a decision maker, then you have penetrated the digital veil and given yourself a huge advantage in being “top of mind” when that decision maker needs to hire someone. Alternatively, that decision maker could actually refer you to another human being who is hiring – now.

Your future employer should look upon the years you spent caregiving as an indication of your dependability, loyalty, and strength of character. If you meet a prospective employer who dismisses or scoffs at the portion of your life that you devoted to the one who gave you life, then you probably wouldn’t want to work for them anyway.

You still have the qualities that made you a senior manager before you assumed full-time caregiving responsibilities. Management skills are in huge demand today. You may not be up on the latest technology, but you can learn all of that stuff. As you focus on what you have to offer and authentically acknowledge your caregiving sacrifices, real human beings will be impressed and want to hire you.

What’s the hardest part about getting older that no one ever talks about at all?

Dr. Aaron Blight:

Your question made me think of this statement from Dr. Mary Pipher:

“When people are in their thirties, they worry about losing their looks. In their fifties, they worry about losing capacities. By their seventies, people worry about losing everything – control, relationships, and their very lives.” (Quote from Pipher’s book, Another Country, p. 159.)

Aging is a series of losses. Personally, I think the hardest parts of getting older are found in the losses that people don’t want to talk about.

Loss of looks, loss of physical senses, loss of bodily control, loss of functional independence, loss of friends and family, loss of memory, loss of financial security, loss of purpose, loss of hope, loss of self – all of these can potentially creep into the lifelong passage we call aging.

Some of these losses are easier to discuss than others. In addition, what one person may find easy to discuss can be an especially challenging topic for someone else.

Cultural narratives about getting older often focus on the losses and rarely examine the gains.

But a lot can be gained in getting older. If you really think about it, many of the gains stand opposite the losses mentioned above.

Gain of independence, gain of friends and family, gain of memories, gain of financial security, gain of purpose, gain of hope, gain of self. I’d add gain of wisdom, gain of perspective, gain of appreciation of the present.

We all benefit from open and honest discussions about getting older – the reality of aging reaches every one of us – and it’s helpful to acknowledge the bad as well as the good.

That’s all for this edition. Check back in over the coming weeks and months for more Q&A with Dr. Aaron Blight!

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Care for Others, Care for Yourself

Today I had the privilege of delivering the keynote address at Beloved Foundation’s REACH Oncology Symposium at the University of California Riverside. Attendees were from oncology-related organizations, including healthcare providers and advocacy groups, with professional backgrounds in nursing, social work, and patient advocacy.

Regardless of organization or official role, it was apparent that each person in attendance is passionate about helping cancer patients. Most (if not all) have a personal connection to cancer that prompted them to do this work. While the Symposium didn’t include patients, I could easily see the commitment these good people have to providing relief and assistance to patients and their families.

As a bit of an experiment, I asked attendees to turn to the “neighbor” sitting next to them and describe the work role that prompted them to attend today’s meeting. After a minute of discussion amongst themselves, I invited the entire group – by show of hands – to share if the “neighbor” talked about their role in terms of others or in terms of themselves. Every single attendee spoke of what they do in terms of other people.

I wasn’t surprised by the show of hands. People who enter caring professions usually have altruistic motivations and find intrinsic satisfaction in service to others.

Often these most admirable qualities are also what lead caregivers to prioritize the needs of others over their own personal needs. An unfortunate and unintended consequence can be compassion fatigue – a state of physical, emotional, and/or spiritual depletion associated with caring for others.

In the ensuing discussion, we talked about the importance of not only caring for others but also caring for yourself. It’s not selfish to acknowledge you have needs. Caregivers are always more effective if they nurture body, mind, and spirit, recharging their personal batteries and developing the resilience to carry on for those who depend on them.
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How to Start an Eldercare Business

elder care worker As a society, it is extremely important that we take good care of those in the older generations. Senior citizens decline in their ability to care for themselves as they age, and it is the responsibility of those in younger generations to make sure the seniors have everything they need for a comfortable and fulfilling lifestyle. If you’d like to make a career out of caring for those in their retirement years, you may find the ideas in this article to be helpful.

It Starts with Services

In order to be successful in this market – or any market, for that matter – the first thing you need to think about is what services you will offer. What do seniors need, and how can you provide it to them for a reasonable cost? The exact list of services you select will be up to you, but some basic ideas include doing household chores, spending time talking with the individual for companionship, taking pets for a walk, running errands, and more. If you take a few minutes to make a list of the things seniors are likely to need help accomplishing, you should wind up with plenty of ideas to get things started.

Some Characteristics

Your success with an eldercare business will be based on a variety of factors. You need to pick the right services to offer, as mentioned above, and you need to price those services correctly. You’ll also need to find the right market and advertise in a way that is going to win you clients. In addition to those points, it’s also important that you demonstrate the right characteristics to build a business that thrives for years to come. Some key characteristics include the following – • Highly organized to avoid missing appointments • Compassionate, valuing the feelings and satisfaction of your clients • Understanding of the challenges that come along with caring for seniors • Personable enough to develop relationships and earn referrals While you can certainly learn some of the skills and traits you need to demonstrate to run this kind of business, it probably won’t work if the list above is a huge departure from your normal personality. Think carefully about your personal traits and whether they would be a good match for this type of operation.

Trust, Trust, Trust

To be invited in to care for someone, that individual needs to trust you. Whether it is the senior choosing to hire you, or one of their loved ones, you need to find a way to establish trust right from the start. The best way to do that is through referrals. Find a way to earn one or two initial clients – perhaps family friends or some other connection – and do a great job. From there, ask for referrals frequently and you should be able to pick up clients on the strength of being recommended by those you have already served. With any luck, the cycle of referrals will continue into the future and you can build a thriving business as a result. At Caregiving Kinetics, we are pleased to offer a variety of services to help those in the senior care industry. If you would like to find out more about our eldercare business coaching, contact us today!
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Caregiving Kinetics: What’s in a Name?



When Dr. Aaron Blight founded Caregiving Kinetics, he knew that the name of the business had to not only be special, but also be relatable to clients.

You may notice that our company’s name – Caregiving Kinetics – rolls right off your tongue.  It sounds really cool.  It’s fun to say. Despite the euphony of our name, there’s actually a deeper reason we chose to be called Caregiving Kinetics.

Kinetics is a phenomenon of natural science.  In physics, kinetics is the study of forces on bodies in motion.  In chemistry, kinetics is the study of chemical reaction rates. In both chemistry and physics, the term kinetics touches upon motion or the transfer of energy.

The name Caregiving Kinetics references a concept of physical science to symbolically explain a social phenomenon.  Caregiving can be viewed as a kinetic process between a caregiver and a care receiver. Caregiving is not static.  In both the physical and relational aspects of caregiving, dynamics between a caregiver and care receiver change over time as a caregiver reacts to the evolving needs of a care receiver.

Lessons from kinetics offer profound insights into the phenomenon of caregiving. Hence, we call our company Caregiving Kinetics.  We hope you remember our name.  But more importantly, we hope you think about caregiving a little differently because you’ve heard these words together.

If you feel that you or your organization could benefit from our expertise, contact us today. Having been in your position before, we are determined to help you navigate through change and accomplish your objectives through our extensive list of services.

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Four Benefits of Hiring Healthcare Consultants

healthcare consulting Anytime you choose to add an expense to your budget – such as hiring a healthcare consultant – you need to make sure there are plenty of benefits to justify that cost. Fortunately, as far as retaining the use of a consultant is concerned, you are likely to see a long list of benefits that result directly from your decision. With this article, we would like to highlight four of the many benefits that may come your way once you team up with the right consultant for your needs.

Find Necessary Skills

Even a talented staff is not going to have every single skill needed to run a healthcare business. There is simply too much that goes into the healthcare field to expect your team to be able to cover everything that comes up. Hiring a caregiving workforce consultant is a great way to add a certain skill to your team on a temporary basis. You get to avoid the expense of hiring another full-time employee, yet you can add important skills which will help you finish a project and move your business forward. Rather than wasting time trying to have your existing staff learn a skill with which they are not familiar, simply turn to a consultant and keep everything on track.

Add Experience

There is only one way in which experience can be earned – one day at a time. If your team does not have as much experience as you would like in one particular area, consider using a consultant to immediately have access to years of experience that can help you make smart choices. It’s impossible to fake the wisdom and knowledge that comes with experience, so you shouldn’t expect your teams to try. Instead, you can obtain true experience by hiring a proven consultant to help you with any number of different tasks.

Make an Adjustment

There is a certain amount of momentum that exists within the day to day operation of any business. Once your employees know how the business operates and how things are done each day, it can be hard to encourage them to make changes. This is another way a consultant can be helpful. By having a consultant come in and work toward making alterations to the business, you may be able to enact change where it would have been difficult to spark otherwise.

A Fresh Look

Speaking of change, another roadblock to change when you don’t have a consultant is the fact that everyone in your practice has been seeing things the same way, over and over again, for years. It’s hard to imagine things working any other way, so you wind up just continuing to do what you do. One of the biggest benefits of a consultant is the outsider perspective they can bring to the office. Without the preconceived notions that you and your team can’t escape, the consultant will be able to take a neutral look at everything in order to make valuable recommendations.
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The Best Time to Hire a Healthcare Consultant

health care consulting Without a doubt, healthcare is one of the most difficult fields in which to do business. It can be incredibly rewarding, of course, when you are able to provide care that improves – or even saves – someone’s life. However, healthcare is incredibly complex from top to bottom, so there is plenty of work to be done in order to keep any kind of healthcare business on track. In many cases, one of the best ways to keep a healthcare business moving forward is through the use of a consultant. There are healthcare consultants available in many different areas, allowing your business to gain access to experience and expertise that you may not necessarily have available in-house. So, when should you make the decision to turn to a healthcare consultant? Let’s take a closer look.

Avoid Falling Behind

If you can feel your practice falling behind in a certain area of the business, bringing in a consultant can help you to catch back up and stay on track. With so much to do and most of your staff being spread so thin, it shouldn’t be surprising when you fall behind a bit. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, but you do need to take care of the situation before it gets out of control. For example, if you have started a specific project – like maybe a software upgrade – but haven’t had the time to finish it, problems may arise while you are waiting. Retaining the services of a consultant who can help to get the job done and checked off the list will be a big relief.

Looking to the Future

Your practice doesn’t have to be in a state of flux in order to consider hiring a consultant. In fact, one of the best times to bring in help is when things are going well at the moment. If your current business is rolling along nicely, think about bringing in a consultant to help you look toward the future. What can you do moving forward to keep your business on the right track? Do you have ambitions to make big gains down the line, or are you simply hoping to maintain your current status for years to come? An experienced consultant can help you chart an ambitious, yet realistic, path to follow as time moves along.

Your Team Needs Help

Even if you hire the best available people in your segment of the healthcare field, those individuals are still going to have areas where they need assistance. Properly training your staff is critical, but you might not have the time or knowledge to do the training yourself. This is again where a consultant can pay big dividends. Bring in a talented consultant who is knowledgeable in the relevant area and can help bring your staff up to speed. This is an investment which is likely to keep paying off for years to come, as even a one-time training event can make a powerful impact on your team’s ability to get the job done.
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Aaron’s Transformative Learning Experiences

Conference Speaker

This week I had the opportunity to speak at the International Transformative Learning Conference at Columbia University in New York City. The event prompted me to think about transformative learning experiences that have occurred at various stages of my life.

Caregiving for my mother-in-law at a relatively young age presented a disorienting dilemma to our family that was totally unanticipated. Nobody imagines getting a brain tumor, so when one appears, it’s an existential shock to you and those who love you. Our family rallied around Mom, giving her as much support as possible as she invited a surgeon, skilled as he may be, to cut open her skull, remove the unwelcome mass, and staple her cranium back together. We did not know if she would survive the surgery, or if she survived, how long she would live afterwards. We didn’t know how our lives would be affected in the future. All we knew is that Mom needed help; she needed it now; and we had to be there for her. So she moved into our home.

As I reflect upon the ensuing five years of care that our family provided to my mother-in-law, I see this as the transformational pivot of my professional life. My career is punctuated by a defining transition of work “before” and “after” caregiving, even though the care for Mom was a personal family matter. Before Mom got sick, I had been working as a human resources professional and a healthcare policy wonk. After taking care of Mom, I became the owner of a home care company and a caregiving scholar.

When we were enveloped in the day-to-day care of Mom, we had no sense of perspective on what was happening to our family. We faced one day at a time. Only through subsequent experiences working with families in similar caregiving situations, employing professional caregivers who know how to transition through end-of-life stages, and exposing myself to rich insights born from research have I come to truly understand the quiet strain and heroic service that caregiving exacts from individuals, families, and society.

Now through Caregiving Kinetics, I have the privilege of helping organizations to raise awareness of the caregiving process and develop ways to effectively support those who care. When I was younger, I never envisioned myself involved in such work, but today I cannot see myself doing anything else.

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The Benefits of Business Coaching

caregiving business advisement

 

Generally speaking, confidence is a good thing in business. You need to be confident in your ideas, and you need to believe in your abilities. However, as is the case with most things, too much confidence can be a problem. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is ask for help, or at least invite in another opinion to point you in the right direction. For many business professionals, especially in the caregiving and healthcare industries, that means turning to business coaching. Some professionals turn away from business coaching because they think they already know the answers, they are afraid to hear the truth, or they simply don’t want to spend the money. Unfortunately, that means they miss out on the many benefits that are associated with quality business coaching, such as those listed below.

 

Hear the Honest Truth

It’s hard to get honest opinions in the business world, when only talking to those who work for or with you. That’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth. In the workplace, many people are hesitant to say what they really think, as that means going out on a limb with their ideas and perspective. More frequently, employees will just toe the line, agreeing with what those above them have said. When you decide to bring in some business coaching, you can put these worries to the side. A business coach is paid specifically to provide honest feedback and perspective, so that is exactly what he or she will do. Without having to think about long-term career implications like someone who works within the organization, a business coach is free from limitations and will be able to give it to you straight.

 

Open Up a New Perspective

It can be hard to see your business in new and creative ways when you work inside it day after day. The rhythm that comes along with a business is self-sustaining in many ways, and it’s easy to just ‘go with the flow’ and keep things as they are. But what if sticking with the status quo means missing out on big opportunities? That would be a shame. A business coach can open your mind to new perspectives and perhaps spot opportunities that you and your team have overlooked to this point.

 

Open Up to Risk

This point goes along with the previous one, but it takes it a step further. Once you see things from a new perspective, you may be encouraged by your business coach to take a risk that you would have otherwise shied away from pursuing. Again, this comes back to the idea of sticking with the status quo. If business is going okay, you might feel like playing it safe and avoiding the risks that need to be taken in order to reach a new level. Unfortunately, most businesses are not able to succeed without taking on some degree of risk. If a business coach can help you to accept and manage the risks that come along with a big opportunity, it’s possible that major growth will lie ahead.