By training and profession, I am a counselor/social worker. As I've become a Mom, I have struggled with the transition especially when I see circumstances that could be different. At times I come across as more of the sterile counselor than a woman who cares about others. It is a weakness in me. I love what I did and have difficulty separating work from family because I did it for almost 10 years, and there is the base of my experiences. Someone said once, "We function best by talking 'shop' to deal with personal anxiety." So to any I have offended, I apologize.
I keep my licenses current as a life insurance policy. If anything were to happen to my husband, I would need to have some form of employment. So I just attended a conference which excited my brain for a day. I want to share some of the things I learned. It might not be interesting to anyone but me.
So below the pictures of showing that I really did graduate and get to wear a cardboard hat and a robe is some information. As I sat in the conference, I thought there are things that apply to me now as a Mom of little ones and other information that I tucked away for later. Because the conference was an entire day, I'll give my highlights.
Dr. Robert Bogenberger was the presenter. He works in a facility in Colorado. These are some things that he shared. I put out a disclaimer that these are not hard and fast methods nor am I doing any sort of counseling. Just sharing ideas. They aren't meant to cause harm.
Control & Power
Lost control and power are the hardest change in older individuals. Bogenberger shared a story of a man whose children had decided that he needed to be placed in a care facility for additional help. He became very aggressive and angry toward everyone and would often say that he wasn't a sissy. This a man was a WWII veteran who had flown a B-29 bomber over Japan. He was a tough man who had lived and fought in tough times. Because of his move, he now saw himself as a sissy instead of strong man. Once someone talked with him and helped him understand that he was still seen as a strong man his aggression was minimized.
A quality care facility trademark is how long the staff has been there. If there is high staff turn over, one might consider a different location. Staff can some times make all the difference.
Small to Great
Small errors can cause big problems. Older individuals have multiple stressors such as physical, financial, family, and moves. For instances, the skin becomes very fragile the older we get. For me, a bump on the corner of a table might smart a little and might leave a littler bruise. For an older individual who lives alone bumps on the corner of the table may tear the skin. The tear if not attended to could become infected and have this person end up in the hospital for a few days. So little things can make a big difference.
Patience with an adult should be the same as with a little child. The two groups of people that are some times given the least amount of patience are little children for not knowing and older adults who supposedly know but struggle.
The best storytellers are those that have lived the reality. The emotional response is part of the story and the details are precious. Through the stories the individual's strengths and skills are shown through which can give them the power they have lost. Even reminding them of their power from the stories told gives them power.
A study was done with patients who were placed in a assisted living home with plants. All the patients were given a plant when they arrived at the center. Half were told that the plant would be taken care of by the staff, and the other half were told they were to water and feed the plant. Guess which group thrived? The half that was told to care for the plant. The plant gave the person some thing to be responsible for and give them a sense of power and independence. The other half of the group had a higher death rate and depression medications given. The best recipe for depression is to take away someone's control.
Depression is a common attribute among the elderly because they deal with a lot loss. They have family and friends die. Their bodies don't work the same as they did before. Asking someone if they are depressed is not a good question. Ask questions like
* What do you do fun, relaxation?
* Who do you talk to?
* What is the best part of the day?
* What is your biggest worry?
* Ask questions about photos on the wall or letters received
* Who is your favorite......?
Everyone has the right to make bad decisions. When is the appropriate time to step in? Only when it is dangerous to that person or other around them. Decision making can be impaired for a variety of reasons like dehydration, improper diet, and dementia. Dementia has a variety of branches like Alzheimer's, Vascular (multi-infarct a.k.a. a stroke), and Lewy-body. Dementia will effect different parts of the brain and the functions of the brain. Dementia can be an embarrassment for someone who has always do it well. Ask questions to see if help can be given.
Remember everyone regardless of age wants to met on their personal level. With a little child we are patient as they learn a new skill. An older adult who has done for themselves all their lives can't do it the same anymore like opening a letter. Help them by giving them the opportunity to open the mail until they ask for help. Most important get on their level - eye level that is. Look them in the eye. Smile. It is universal and can mellow out the worst in all of us.