In his spare time, caregiving consultant and healthcare speaker Dr. Aaron Blight is happy to 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 answer dealing with caregivers’ understanding of participants’ needs.
Why don’t all caregivers understand, or at least try to understand, exactly what their participants need, not just the surface stuff, but the deeper things beyond “fed, meds, bed?”
“Checklist care” is faster and easier to provide because it focuses on the physical needs of the care receiver.
This “surface stuff” that is described in the question is easy to observe and relatively simple to do, albeit after a bit of training. A bonus is that after you finish the checklist for the day, you can say you’re done!
“Whole person care” is slower and harder because it adds the emotional, social, and even spiritual needs of the care receiver. It gets messy. There’s not a daily “completion box” that you can check off.
Most caregivers know that humans actually need more than the satisfaction of basic physical requirements in order to thrive. But when someone is dependent upon you for things as simple as eating or toileting, your caregiving starts there.
There are many reasons why caregiving may also end there. The scarcity of time, the requirements of those paying for care, emotional exhaustion, or a lack of knowledge on how to “fix” the deeper needs of the care receiver are some of those reasons. The most tragic reason of all, however, would be indifference to the needs of the care receiver, which I’ve seldom observed.
When a caregiver consciously focuses on “whole person care,” the results may not be immediately visible, but the long-term effects can be life-changing for both the care receiver and the caregiver. It is where the greatest rewards of caregiving are discovered.
Somewhere in the middle is the best you can really hope for, the best you can expect. If you are an aging parent and your adult child genuinely listens, offers help when you want it and when you really need it, and respects the decisions you have made about your life, then you’ve got a pretty good foundation of “understanding and support” that will make the waning years of your life a little easier to bear.
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!
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!
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.
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!