December is such a busy time of the year that we often forget about the little things that can make a person’s holiday season brighter.  We focus on decorating the house, buying gifts, travel, being with family, and we forget about those who are not so fortunate. Small gestures of kindness go a long way during the holiday season. We all know an elder who is now a widow or widower, or  a neighbor who has an illness or disability, people who are socially isolated due to death of a partner, loss of a child, or ‘old age’ that now prevents them from getting out.  Loneliness is difficult to endure at any time of year, but during the winter holiday season, loneliness can be the cause of the onset of a serious depression and decline. I met Mr. Hill when I was delivering books for our libraries  homebound reader’s services. At 79 he lived alone in a senior housing apartment building and he told me that his only pleasure remaining was reading.  His apartment was dark, littered with clothing and books, trash and cigarette cartons and ashtrays (Yes – there is a no-smoking policy at this complex!).  The smell ofRead More

For many elders the option of care in an assisted living is a welcome escape from the need to move to a skilled care facility. The old phrase, “I never want to go to a nursing home” is still heard often. It’s hard to make that decision to leave your home when you can no longer get dressed without some help and you need reminders to take medications and help to go to your medical appointments.  The many assisted living facilities in Northwest Arkansas are appealing when skilled nursing care is not needed daily. But – beware!  This is a very true account of an experience in 2013 with an assisted living facility: Mr. Jim, a WWII veteran widowed years ago, lived in a nursing home for several months, then made a decision to move to an Assisted Living Level II facility for more privacy and independence.  Partially paralyzed from stroke and complications of diabetes, Mr. J needed help getting dressed, getting to the toilet, and getting in and out of his recliner and wheelchair.  Multiple medications required reminders throughout the day.  His trust officer called me after his client had been in the assisted living for 60 days, reportingRead More

Caregiver Support is Necessary and Ongoing The family caregiver and the professional caregiver experience emotional and physical stressors that cannot be understood by any person who has never been a personal caregiver.   Assuming the responsibility of providing assistance with the daily living necessities for any adult, whether age 40 or 100, places a great demand on the caregiver.  Family caregivers are often totally unprepared for what they experience.  Many have no training, many suffer physical injury, pain, sleepless nights, and burnout within a very little time of assuming the role of the family caregiver.  (Locally family caregivers can call the Schmieding Education Center at 479-751-3043 to learn about family caregiver training and support.)   Many who pursue a career as a professional caregiver are unaware of the emotional stress and the physical stressors that can result.  A personal caregiver becomes attached to those they care for, yet they are often overwhelmed with the demands placed on them to care for multiple elders in a facility.  Private caregivers experience more personal time with their clients, and with this they form very close personal relationships and can also experience great stress from the care environment, from the client family members, fromRead More

Think about the details of pet care Most of us have companion animals and enjoy the comfort, love and affection of a cat or a dog, perhaps a bird or a fish…and we naturally want those we love to have that same experience of comfort and companionsip. Are you thinking of giving a gift of a companion animal to an elder?  If so, let’s think about some details of pet care before taking that final step to purchase the dog, cat, bird, fish, or other living being. Pets are wonderful gifts of joy to our lives – if we can take care of them properly.  A dog or a cat require daily care of feeding, grooming, exercise, and most important, elimination.  Indoor pets require attention for cleanliness (a cat box requires attention!) and most dogs need to make a trip outdoors a few times a day, or train to pads indoors. Pets need food every day and fresh water.  Just think about this – every day without fail, a dog or cat must eat, must drink, and must have all their basic needs cared for. Now place that dog or cat in the home of an elderly person who hasRead More

It is Volunteer Appreciation Week, 2013. The word VOLUNTEER instantly brings to mind Carl Kittrell and his beautiful wife Phil. Well into the years of life when most elders are receiving the services of volunteers to help them remain independent, Carl and Phil continued to help others in their church and community services.  From packing food for deliveries to driving the aging and disabled to weekly Wal-Mart shopping, Carl answered every request with a ‘if you can’t find someone to help, call me and I’ll do it’. Through the many years of community service provided by Faith In Action (originally called Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers), created in 1997 through the Washington Regional Medical Center Foundation, many volunteers have been members of Central United Methodist Church of Fayetteville.  Why was this church group represented more than any other church in Northwest Arkansas?  Because early in the programs development, Carl Kittrell asked his pastor if he could talk a few minutes about the services of IVC during the Sunday service.  As an elder of the church, Carl drew others who were inspired by his talk that day. Carl was influential throughout his years as a volunteer for Faith in Action in securing volunteers,Read More

Choosing a care facility for someone who has dementia is a difficult and often emotional experience. But making the right choice for care is important. Follow these guidelines when looking for a secure dementia care unit. Read More