Posts filed under In Home Personal Care

Summer...Summer...Summertime

Tips For Enjoying the Sights and Sounds of Summer 

written by Yolanda Webb

 Summer Tips

Summer Tips

I know it when I hear it!  “Summer summer summertime Time to sit back and unwind…”

The sounds of summer almost always begin with Will Smith, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air ushering in summer time with the song that has become the anthem of every backyard barbecue or family reunion.  

Summer Time.  Young or old you know the song.  And if you listen to the lyrics they take you back to your youth and inspire you to days gone by.

But let’s be honest...it’s hot as...well you know.  That song while it inspires us to get outside doesn’t prepare us on how to take in that summer heat.  And let’s face it for many of us that are now while past that prime of summer time, rules on how best to take care of ourselves and those we serve are what’s needed right now.

So how do you sneak in that much needed vitamin D and unwind by spending more time out in the sun?  Try a few of these health tips for summer living outdoors.

  1. Hydrate - Drink water before, during and after any outdoor activity.  Whether a party in the park or running those exercise laps, drink at least 4 ounces of water for every 20 minutes you are outside.

  2. Protect yourself - Everybody needs sunscreen.  And I mean everybody. It does not matter how much melanin you have in your skin you need sunscreen.  Apply a waterproof broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. If you are using a towel while standing at that grill to wipe your face...reapply every two hours or so.

  3. Eat Fresh Fruit - The biggest reason I love summer...the number of local farmers markets or fruit and vegetable vendors selling locally.  When I was a kid growing up we would visit my grandmother in Mobile and everyday, Bump...yep that was his name...Bump would come around in that fruit and vegetable truck and give each kid a plum or peach.  My grandmother would buy ears of corn, watermelon, strawberries, pecans, grapes and more.

  4. Check the time - Did you know the best time to be outside is before 10 a.m and after 4 p.m?  The sun’s rays are often their hottest between those times.

  5. Protect others -  If you have children or an elderly parent or client, protect their face, neck and shoulders with a large brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of summer and to help kick off your summer time enjoy this listen of Summertime by Will Smith (The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff) 

 
 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

written by Yolanda Webb and images provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness

 Mental Health Stigma

Mental Health Stigma

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but the truth is that every day, each and every one of us could do ourselves a favor and check in with our mental and emotional selves.

 Mental Health 

Mental Health 

What does that mean?  Well when my children were young and in school, I started a tradition that my daughter continues to this day.  Each quarter they were allowed to take a mental health day.  Or, as we say in the business world, a personal day.  If we need personal days in the world of work I often said...how much so do children need that refuge in their own lives. 

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So your mental health day is and should be a day that is totally dedicated to yourself, your wholeness, your human... being and becoming your true and authentic self.  

Each of my children would choose a different day (and this was important so that the day was truly theirs), and the day was planned around what they wanted to do that made them feel good (internally and externally).  Sometimes it was the movies, and for my daughter it was a spa day, or going to the amusement park.  For my son it was going to a ball game in the middle of the day, or just relaxing at home with his games.

 CureStigma.org

CureStigma.org

We all need to feel emotionally healthy? Have you ever asked yourself what you need to feel mentally and physically healthy? 

Do you take care of those aspects of yourself? Do you have friends who check in on you? Do you reach out when you need help?

Taking care of others in the field of human service means putting the service first into ourselves.  

Sometimes breaking bread with another person, to fill that space can help to put that service in being human front and center in your life. Social connection and feeling in community with others are critical to our emotional and mental health.

So today, why not connect or reconnect with yourself, become your own best friend, do the hard things for your own life and by this time next May, who knows you may have grown healthier in mind, body and spirit...here's to great mental health for all of us!

For more information about what you can do for Mental Health Awareness Month, please go to www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may or https://www.nami.org/mentalhealthmonth

Posted on May 14, 2018 and filed under Home Health, In Home Personal Care.

Black History Month - A Tribute to Caregiving in African-American Families

 by Yolanda Webb

 Photo taken by Yolanda Webb

Photo taken by Yolanda Webb

The Beauty of Black History is that we are still making it every single day.  As we celebrate Black History this month, it has been interesting for me to research and define a profile that summarizes caregiving and those who are entering the field of in-home care (either as family caregivers or paid supports) to help provide quality services and supports to those requiring such services.

It should be noted that the face of caregiving is changing and varies from family caregiver models to hiring quality service providers like Meritan to provide in-home care.  What are the characteristics of those who are entering the caregiving field now or those caring for loved ones at home?  According to AARP, the typical caregiver is 44.2 years old (those entering the field as well), is in very good health, has an outgoing personality, can assist with up to 4.2 ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living) and can provide a comforting and quality of life environment for the care recipient.  

Since the in-home caregiving model has also expanded in recent years beyond senior care to include, individuals with Developmental Disabilities, those with HIV/AIDS, and other chronic conditions (mostly due to changes in Medicaid Managed Care guidelines), I thought I would share the names and experiences of some famous African-Americans who have served or are serving in caregiving roles and share their thoughts on working with those with disabilities, the elderly or those with other chronic conditions.  Their words of wisdom are shared to honor the role caregivers play in the lives of those they serve.  

Samuel L. Jackson - who lost his mother to Alzheimer's

“Laughter is good medicine for the caregiver and the person cared for.”  Jackson became the celebrity host for the Alzheimer's Association’s event called Hilarity for Charity recently and recounted his days as a sole caregiver for his mother who suffered from dementia and lost her fight in 2012.

Holly Robinson-Peete - “Caregivers must accept the hard decision”

Actress, and wife of NFL star Rodney Peete recounts the day it became clear that her father had to transition from in-home care to a 24-hour facility.  While the care was phenomenal, moving her father from independence to dependence was one of the hardest decisions she and her brother ever had to make.

Oprah Winfrey - “Let the Sunshine In”

Recently on Super Soul Sunday, Oprah Winfrey talked about the role of caregivers (both family and paid in-home supports) and getting through the process by getting help through understanding the emotions the person cared for must go through.  Winfrey asked if caregivers would consider learning more from the joyful times the person may have had rather than focus on the needs being cared for.  And to remember that the person has/had a full life of laughter, love, hope and joy.

Dan Gasby - (husband of famed model and restaurateur B. Smith who has Alzheimer's) - “It’s definitely the hardest job I’ve ever had in my life.”  The two wrote the bestselling book, “Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer's.

Queen Latifah - The actress cares for her ailing mom who lives with the chronic condition of heart failure.  

Blair Underwood - The star’s mom has physical disabilities and his 2013 television show Ironside he described as “kind of a tribute to her,” as he helps to provide her in-home care.

This Black History Month, I’m reminded of the wonderful stories of caregiving I hear on a daily basis from clients, their families and staff alike, and the tremendous progress we have made in human service to ensure that those with disabilities, who are elderly or have physical disabilities/chronic conditions continue to live lives of dignity and respect.

Laughter Is Still the Best Medicine

by Yolanda Webb

“Act as if what you do makes a difference...It does” - William James

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Getting older comes with its ups and downs. For some people, life after 65 represents the golden years, but for many, those years can be filled with loneliness, aches and pains, poverty,  unexplained illnesses, and a plethora of doctor visits that can make life itself really hard. While there are many options in caregivers, the best caregivers are those that understand that one of the best ways to help someone feel better is also the simplest.  Laughter.  Bringing laughter and light into the life of a senior can often alleviate many of the pains of growing old.  Here are a number of reasons why laughter and light heartedness may have been lost, and why laughter may be the best medicine:

As we age, we often lose touch with the people that enriched our lives the most when we were younger.  Friends may move away for retirement or have medical problems of their own that can make it harder to stay in touch. Just as friendships and community participation are important parts of growing up, they are also essential for us as we grow older.

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  • While there are many senior opportunities to connect, some seniors, like those who are bed fast / bed bound, may not always have the chance to reconnect with the community behind the walls of their own homes.  Getting involved can be hard at first.  Helping the senior or disabled person to focus on activities they’ve always enjoyed such as games, singing or card playing, can help them reconnect with that laughter and light heartedness they thought was long gone.

  • Helping the senior or disabled person to connect with church or community groups that may be amenable to doing home visits  can help the individual make new friends while enjoying an afternoon or evening of laughter.

  • The people we have around us can easily influence our own outlook and attitudes.  Working with a senior who may already be experiencing the pains of loneliness or depression can only be exacerbated if we bring our own problems or negative attitudes into their lives.  If you have negative friends, family members, or outlook on life, they could be harming those we serve. Look for ways to bring more laughter and light into your daily life as your share the joy of laughter with someone who needs our help..

Many seniors feel they have little control over their circumstances, but simply changing your focus when we serve and support them can bring welcome relief.  As caregivers and those who serve we must always try reminding ourselves every day of the importance of laughter, and you may be able to affect change in those around you.

UNSUNG HEROES

November 13, 2017

“Doing ordinary things, EXTRAordinarily well!”

Yolanda Webb, MA

Associate Vice President Home and Community Based Services

 Unsung Hereos: Terry Smith, Barbara Washington, Lillie Preyer, Loretta Suggs, Deanne Thomas, Rosie Kennedy, Vernisha White, Beverly Miller, Betty Wallace, Jane Burnette, Cantai Moore, Delores Jones, Candice Washington, Casandra Newsom, Rachel Jackson, Sylvia Williams, Darquisha Killon, Barbara Singleton, Mary Cooper, Mozella Brown, Helen Carr, Sharon Jordan, Jacqueline Macklin, Patricia Turner.   Photo Credit: Y. Webb  
  
  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 

Unsung Hereos: Terry Smith, Barbara Washington, Lillie Preyer, Loretta Suggs, Deanne Thomas, Rosie Kennedy, Vernisha White, Beverly Miller, Betty Wallace, Jane Burnette, Cantai Moore, Delores Jones, Candice Washington, Casandra Newsom, Rachel Jackson, Sylvia Williams, Darquisha Killon, Barbara Singleton, Mary Cooper, Mozella Brown, Helen Carr, Sharon Jordan, Jacqueline Macklin, Patricia Turner.   Photo Credit: Y. Webb

As we approach this holiday season amid the hustle and bustle, and the aromas and pleasant smells of good food, and sacred and shared family memories, we often forget to stop and think a minute about those who may not have a shared family meal or the smell of grandma's Cornbread Dressing, Greens, Sweet Potato Pie and that Ham or Turkey with all the trimmings. 

Age, distance and time can creep up on you, and before you know it...you are one of the many lonely, older souls whose dearest family members, and old friends are all gone, or your own adaptive living skills, have deteriorated and left you lonely and with  the loss of control over your own life.  

Needing help with toileting, bathing, walking, and managing one's household is sometimes filled with shame and fear, from once proud people who now fear this type of help more often than death.

One ray of hope and light  in these difficult moments is the help and support our Home Care Specialist provide.  This often overlooked support system can pour more hope into the lives of people in one day, than many of us do in a lifetime. 

While we always talk about how much money we can save in our field by “keeping people out of nursing homes, and in their own homes,” I think a part of that conversation that is far too often overlooked is the “human” part in this human service. 

While we may help with ADL’s (Adaptive Living Skills), and provide a service that helps decrease the need for institutionalized care, such as nursing homes, Home Care Specialist also provide something more.

Relational connection to the larger community has proven itself to be one of the primary components of good health (don’t believe me check out Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s number three on the list).  This role of Home Care Specialist requires substantial skills and special personality traits.   These unsung heroes do intimate and difficult work, and I believe it is important to recognize and thank these unsung heroes, who may one day care for your parents, grandparents, or other family members. 

While the baby boomer generation is reaching its pinnacle, this field of human service will need more and more of these talented, caring individuals and it will be up to us here at Meritan to continue to provide the training, and the opportunities for these unsung heroes to help our clients be successful, remain at home and,  “improve well-being and promote independence throughout life's stages with quality and compassion.” 

So this holiday season, if you know a Home Care Specialist, Direct Service Provider or Personal Support Aide, give them a big holiday “Thank You” for a job well done!

 

 

“I Got My Joy Back!”

October 12, 2017

Yolanda Webb, MA                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Associate Vice President of Home and Community Based Services

 Photo Credit: iStockPhoto Monkey Business Images  In Home Services 

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto Monkey Business Images

In Home Services 

When I first spoke with the caregiver over the phone, a daughter who had uprooted her life to move back home after more than 30 years living halfway across the country, I could tell she was in despair.

On the verge of tears she told me that she had moved back to the area about a year ago. What could be so hard, she had said to her other siblings, after all this was their mother!

But, as their mother’s Dementia worsened, she found she was both physically and emotionally exhausted.  What she learned was that being a caregiver felt more like being a lone ranger than a dutiful daughter.  

She had done all the things she thought she should do.  She had created a schedule for her mom, had scheduled activities and appointments, took care of the house, ran errands and so much more.  

When her mother could help out it wasn’t so bad.  However, as the Dementia rapidly worsened she found that she needed help.  She also realized that she was becoming angry.

She was riding an emotional roller coaster, she knew her mother wouldn’t get better, she knew that taking turns with her younger siblings was out of the question.  They both lived out of town and had families of their own.  

She was tired and she knew that even though she had promised her mother she would always be there, she was failing.  

She could no longer fulfill that promise.

She called Meritan and we worked through a plan to get her mother the help she needed, and connected her to resources she needed as a caregiver as well.

Recently she called me and we talked.  This is what she said, “Thank you to Meritan, the two wonderful staff you sent me, and to you for helping me find care for me as the primary caregiver.  

   “You don’t know how good it is, she said, to have my joy back!”

   She said that over and over, “I got my joy back!”

Here at Meritan our caregiving philosophy includes both client and caregiver to support the whole person through a person-centered approach.  Thanks to all the wonderful staff we have who help support our clients and their families through their own unique journeys…to get their joy back!        


 

In Case of Emergency

September 15, 2017

Yolanda Webb, MA                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Associate Vice President of Home and Community Based Services

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Welcome to our monthly blog where we hope you will find useful information on our in-home personal support services for seniors and or disabled individuals, and information that will help you, if you are a caregiver, to navigate the next steps in the journey of life that presents the “what if’s,” for families.   

My first blog just so happens to coincide with the conclusion of two major hurricanes.  Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.  My mother, who is nearly eighty years old, lives alone in Alabama.  This is a woman who is fiercely independent, and as a former social worker knows all about emergency preparedness.

Early one morning when Hurricane Irma was fast approaching off the coast of Florida, I received a frantic phone call from my sister who lives in Michigan.  It went something like this;

Sister:  “Hey, what are we gonna do about mom!?”

Me:  “What, who’s mom?” I’m kinda groggy because it’s 2:45 am.

Sister:  “Our mom, wake up!  That hurricane is about to hit Florida and we need to get mom out of there!”

Me:  “Oh, hi sis!  I talked to her and she does not want to leave.  She said she’s fine!”

Sis:  “She’s not fine, she’s old!”

My sister and I went back and forth for the next hour (I was clearly up by then), but my mother had made herself perfectly clear the day before.  She did not want to leave.  

So what do you do for those who may be elderly or disabled, whether they live far away or near by, and you want to ensure they are safe and in good hands.  

In talking with my mother the next day we struck a compromise.  In-home personal care or rather companionship.  She was not willing to give up her independence, but would compromise to allow an agency like Meritan, who had quality ratings, come in and check on her and follow up with our family as her line of support.  

Seniors or disabled individuals who can become stranded at home during natural disasters or emergency situations can often become fearful and disoriented, or in my mother's case afraid to lose their independence if they are forced to move from their homes.  So what can you do in situations like this to help seniors prepare in emergency situations?  Here are a few tips I hope you find as useful as we did.  

In-Home Caregivers: Caregivers with our in-home personal support services can check on their senior/disabled clients during emergency situations using smartphones or email (if available).

Near by Family/Friends/Neighbors: As in my mom’s case we contacted all of our family who lived near by.  But, we went a few steps further. Because my mom doesn’t live in assisted living facility, but wanted her own ‘retirement’ apartment, she lives in a wonderful complex that has both seniors and young families.  We met several of the neighbors when we moved her in and gave two of them all of her contact information and all of our contact information.

The lady who lives upstairs from her in the complex kept us informed on the status of the hurricane and its potential impact on Alabama.  She also checked in with us when she checked on my mom (which was twice a day) and she would call me personally out of my mom’s presence to let me know if she thought I needed to come to Alabama.

Get to Know Your Community's Emergency Personnel: My sister and I went one last step further when we moved my mother to Alabama.  We visited the local fire department and medical center where my mother would receive care during an emergency.  Relationships help build up trust and in an emergency my mom could put a face and maybe name to the first responders who would come to assist her in a time of need.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma won’t be our last storms or natural disasters.  Being prepared is our first line of defense to help our loved ones get through...in case of emergency.