Beating Caregiver Stress
Are you an informal or family caregiver for an elderly person? If you are, you are not alone.

Most Americans will be informal caregivers at some point during their lives. Each year more than 44 million Americans (21% of the adult population) provide unpaid care to an elderly or disabled person 18 years or older. This is significant! It represents 80 percent of all long-term care in the United States.

Most caregivers are middle-aged or older women who have jobs outside of caring for an elderly person. Most of these women have changed hours or working conditions in order to care for their elderly family member.

Sound stressful? It is.

Take our caregiver stress questionnaire to see if you are under too much stress, and see if our suggestions can help you!

Survey Questions:

• Do you feel frustrated and angry while you take care of someone?
• Do you feel guilty about the care you can provide because you have so many other things to do?
• Do you feel that care giving has hurt your social life?
• Are you exhausted when you go to bed at night?
• Do you feel overwhelmed?
• Have you recently gained or lost a lot of weight?
• Have you lost interest in activities you used to enjoy?
• Are you easily irritated or angered?
• Are you constantly worried?
• Are you often sad?
• Do you experience frequent headaches, bodily pain, or other physical problems?
• Do you abuse of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs?

Scores:
• 0-3 low stress level
• 4-7 medium stress level
• 8-12 high stress level

Ways to Reduce Caregiver Stress

Focus on the rewards of care giving, and giving back to a loved one. Being a caregiver strengthens your relationship with the person receiving care and makes you feel needed, boosting your self-confidence.

• Make sure you are at your best:
• Get your prescriptions filled
• Keep your own doctor and dentist appointments
• Eat healthy meals
• Get enough sleep
• Exercise vigorously at least 45 minutes each day
• Do something just for yourself at least once a week.

Talk to a counselor, psychologist, or other mental health professional right away if your stress leads you to physically or emotionally harm the person you are caring for.

Find out how to deal with your loved one’s disease. This will help you take a positive approach to the daily questions and issues you will be presented with. You may be able to find a hospital or local agency on aging that offers classes on caring for people with that disease. Do research with doctors, nurses, on websites, and at the library. The more information you have, the easier it will be to prepare for issues that arise.

If you do find that you are under stress from caring for your loved one, try these stress reducing tips:

• Get help from community care giving service providers for:
• transportation
• meal delivery
• home health care services
• non-medical home care services
• home modification for easier daily tasks
• legal and financial counseling

Accept help from friends and family – this includes financial help.
Say "no" to volunteer tasks, such as hosting holiday meals.
Do the best you can and don’t feel guilty about not being perfect.
Prioritize your tasks and establish a daily routine.
Stay in touch with family and friends.
Join a support group for caregivers facing the same condition or disease.
Try to keep your sense of humor.

Check with the human resource office at your job. Employees covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act may be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for relatives.

Perhaps you will feel better about your loved one’s safety if you purchase an emergency or surveillance device. These devices include emergency response systems (not for people with dementia), intercom systems, web cams and mobility monitors. These devices can help with your peace of mind.

When you need a break (and you will), give a professional home care service a call. They will come to your loved one’s home and perform any number of household chores, personal grooming chores, and provide companionship for your loved one for a very affordable fee.

Visiting Angels is a full service homecare organization. We always employ, supervise, and manage our caregivers. To find out more about how we can help you find peace of mind when finding respite care, please feel free to contact us:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585
8/5/2011 10:39:58 AM
Managing Remote Workers
Let’s face it, managing workers who are located off-site (in care recipient’s homes or office staff working from their own homes) is quite challenging. It is different from a factory where you can walk up and down the assembly line to see the quality of worker production. It is also different from the office setting where you can easily have a spontaneous face-to-face meeting with employees to resolve a problem. In short, remote employees require some basic operational and philosophical assumptions to make this trend work well.

To keep a remote workforce motivated and productive requires a unique approach to management. In this article, Managing Remote Employees – Offsite Management in 6 Principles, author Steven Nichols, of Ezine Articles (www.ezinearticles.com), lists 6 key techniques to make remote management successful:

1. Better Communication. As a result of feeling isolated, remote employees require more, not less, communication in order to assimilate into the company’s milieu. If this additional communication is not present, higher turn-over and poorer work performance can result. Email, texts, telephone calls, faxes, etc., all help to eliminate the negative effects of poor communication.

2. Establishing Respect. The incorrect assumption by managers that “remote employees aren’t on the job” creates an ineffective posture by management similar to some parental positions – the “Because I said so” approach. A better approach is to respect the remote employee by offering reasons and explanations why certain tasks must be completed.
3. Building a Team Culture. Clearly, it is a challenge to get remote employees to feel as though they are part of the company’s team. Intra-team communication, creating partnerships for specific projects or jobs, and offering ways these employees can regularly communicate are essential to team culture development.

4. Creating Accountability Through Self-Monitoring. To have remote employees be successful, they must be able to self-monitor their work (if they can’t, management can begin as a process of destructive micro-managing). In order to develop this accountability through self-monitoring process, managers must provide clear goals and hold their remote employees responsible for results. Successful independence is key in these situations.

5. Training. It is essential that remote employees be trained (oriented) in face-to-face situations. This will ensure, a solid beginning to developing respect, facilitating positive communication methods, and provide a strong footing towards building a team culture. Remember, training of ALL employees is an ongoing process, not just a one time effort.

6. Disciplining and Conflicts. As a result of the difficulty in developing relationships with remote employees, resolving conflicts can be challenging. Speed in addressing these conflicts is of prime importance in order to stop the conflict from escalating. Listening to what is “not said” in your conversations with remote employees can help with jump starting your resolution of potential and real conflicts out-in-the-field.

Following these guidelines with remote employees (and your in-house staff) will set your company on the right path for higher productivity, reduced employee turn-over, and a positive company culture/environment.

Article written by Jeffrey Johnson.

Visiting Angels is a full service homecare organization. We always employ, supervise, and manage our caregivers. To find out more about how we can help you find peace of mind when hiring homecare, please feel free to contact us:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585

7/25/2011 4:09:56 PM
Combating the Stress of Elderly Care
It is stressful being a caregiver for an elderly parent or loved one, no matter how much you may love them. There is a significant amount of disruption to your life and schedule, as well as the worry and sorrow of watching one you love become more helpless. There are also feelings involved with elderly care including frustration, guilt, resentment, and hopelessness. Feeling unappreciated for all of the work you do also contributes to anxiety. There are some ways to combat the stress of elderly care including getting help and support, maintaining your health, and staying organized about the patient’s health and care.

Allowing yourself assistance and support is critical to managing stress when caring for someone. Hold a family meeting and include the patient to identify problems and solutions. Together you can plan the care of the patient and share responsibilities so that you do not try to do everything alone. Seek additional help from professionals, community resources, or support groups for any specific medical conditions like Alzheimer’s or cancer.

Maintaining your personal health is important in helping you deal with the stress of elderly care. Getting proper nutrition, rest, and exercise allows for your stable physical and mental health. Neglecting your health problems will allow stress to catch up with you easily. You will not continue to be a strong caretaker if you put your needs last. This can lead to emotional exhaustion, depression, and illness. Understanding and communicating your feelings is also part of maintaining your health. There are fewer negative effects of stress for people who admit their feelings and express them.

It is important to stay organized and have awareness about the details of the patient’s care. You should be educated about legal matters, finances, and support services, and have knowledge about the patient’s medical condition. This helps the day to day process move along more smoothly, so that you do not become overwhelmed with logistics. In case of an emergency, a list of the patient’s doctors, hospital, pharmacy, and medications should be on hand to make an urgent situation less stressful.

Visiting Angels Living Assistance Services is a home care agency offering compassionate and experienced caregivers to help your loved one remain in their home. Visitingangels allows you to maintain your schedule and provides a respite for family members providing services such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, hygiene assistance, and companionship.

For more information about how Visiting Angels can help you care for your loved one contact one of our three Bay Area offices:

Contra Costa, Alameda, and Solano Counties (925) 552-6500
Marin County (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin County (209) 952-3585



3/20/2011 3:57:36 PM
A Cautionary Tale
We are always heartbroken to learn about a senior who is abused by their caregiver. Unfortunately, it happens more frequently than anyone would like- just ask the overloaded office of Adult Protective Services in any county. Some stories are more shocking than others, as is the case of the recent murder of a Pleasant Hill woman by her live-in caregiver. You can read the story here.

As unfathomable as this situation is, there is a very important lesson to take away from Ms. Scanlon's tragic death: Never hire a caregiver without knowing their background. Whether you go through an agency that takes care of screening and background checking their caregivers or hire someone privately and conduct your own background check, never let anyone into your home or your loved one's home without first thoroughly checking them out.

While the majority of individuals who become caregivers do so with the best intentions and most caring of hearts, there are unfortunately those out there who are opportunists and are looking to take advantage of a vulnerable senior. Be smart, work with someone you trust, and whenever possible, hire caregivers through a full-service agency that thoroughly screens their employees- like Visiting Angels.

Pass this important lesson along to anyone and everyone you know to help avoid future tragedies like Ms. Scanlon's death.

For more information about hiring a fully screened and background checked caregiver, contact one of our three Bay Area offices:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585
5/3/2011 2:25:09 PM
Moving an Elder with Alzheimer's Disease
At Visiting Angels we care for many people living with Alzheimer's disease. Most of these individuals are in the early to moderate stages of the disease and do well staying at home with help from a caregiver.

However, because Alzheimer's is a degenerative disease, many of our clients reach a point where it is no longer safe or appropriate for them to stay home- even with 24 hour care in place.

In such situations, our caregivers communicate their concerns to our care team and we make a recommendation to the family. Typically this recommendation involves transitioning the elder into a community that specializes in working with memory impairment.

In the Bay Area we are fortunate to have many outstanding options for memory care. One local company, Emeritus Senior Living, recently published tips for easing an elder's transition from home into a memory care community. Here is what Emeritus suggests:

Before the move, make your loved one's new room or space look and feel as familiar as possible. Moving from one home to another can trigger anxiety for anyone. For a person with Azheimer's disease, however, a changed routine and an unfamiliar environment can be extremely stressful. If you're helping a loved one with Alzheimer's move to a new home or into a care facility, make the transition as comfortable as possible.

Decorate the area with meaningful possessions. Familiar belongings can trigger feelings of ownership and boost their sense of security.

Here are some recommended items for their new room:

  • Personal family photos - especially of parents and siblings.

  • A favorite blanket or throw for over the bed.

  • Favorite bedding can make the resident feel more at home instead of new bedding.

  • Familiar furniture can be better and more familiar than new.

  • A CD player and favorite music CD's are better than watching TV.

  • Bath towels that are familiar or similar to ones they had at home.


Also stock the space with pictures of family and friends, memory books or photo albums. Reminiscing about the past can help a person with Alzheimer's bring important memories into the present. Label the pictures to help employees and others identify with the people in their lives and encourage conversations about the past.

To see the article on the Emeritus page, click here.

For more information about Visiting Angels and how we can help someone you know who is living with Alzheimer's disease, please contact one of our Bay Area offices:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585
6/1/2010 9:53:41 AM
Aging is NOT a Medical Event
Let me say it out loud: "Aging is not a medical event!" Normal aging does not require hospitalization. It is a natural process, a part of life. In fact, most people live their entire life at home.

But what happens when an older adult gets sick? Usually, they continue to stay at home. And they recuperate with much less risk of infection and a higher level of satisfaction than is possible in a hospital.

The limits to aging in place have more to do with safety, nutrition and security than medical events. Is the house or apartment a safe place that is designed to minimize the possibility of falling? Is there proper provision for nutrition so that regular healthy shopping and eating are a part of the aging lifestyle? Is there a risk for fire or for crime to occur? And is the older adult still driving when it is past the time when they can accomplish it safely?

Then there is the question of social life. Is the older adult alone too much of the time? Is this leading to despair and possibly even depression and thoughts of death?

The answer to these questions or limits doesn't have to do with buildings or building material. It doesn't have to do with a physician or a nurse. Rather, it has to do with human care and kindness.

For years family members have helped their elders as they got older. In some cultures elders have even been given a special place of honor so they are included as important components of the society. But that is not how it is in contemporary America. It is important that we come to terms with the difference.

In America we rely on caregivers to provide support for aging adults. They are either family members or paid caregivers who provide the safety, security, nutrition, transportation and socialization that seniors need to live a normal live.

These caregivers offer kindness and companionship, help in preventing falls, do driving, cleaning and cooking—and generally make it possible for seniors to continue to live alone in their own homes despite factors of age and frailty. With all this, it is safe and sensible for seniors to continue to age in their own home without thought or need for institutionalized medical care.

By Kathy Johnson, PhD
Article from www.eldr.com

To find out more about Visiting Angels and our homecare services, please contact one of our three Bay Area offices:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585
5/10/2010 5:08:31 PM
Take the Pressure Off
Many are expected to take care of elderly parents or family members as their parents age and become less independent. It is very difficult, especially considering that most caregivers have their own careers and families to take care of as well. Families are happy to take care of their loved ones; however, it is recommended that there is some type of additional senior care to give respite to families. This is helpful with daily tasks and overnight and out of town needs.

There are a multitude of basic needs, including household maintenance and chores to be tended to when aiding in senior care. Fundamentals such as bathing and grooming, preparing meals, household chores, and paying bills are some examples of what needs to be done for someone. Perhaps some of these can be done by family members, but many times it is too much to handle, and additional caregivers are needed. Services are available to provide help for these basic senior care needs and companionship.

In addition to chores and keeping up with household duties, maybe a challenge is overnight care, or even being responsible for someone who lives out of town. In this day and age, it is common for families to live great distances from each other. If the adult child who is responsible for a senior lives out of town, how will their parent get to a doctor’s appointment, have a companion to check in on them, or take their proper medication? Hired senior care is available, and they offer caring, secure, and trained caregivers. Perhaps a family has coverage during the day, but is unable to spend the night with a loved one, and would feel more secure if their parent had someone in their home overnight. These senior care services are available also.

Visiting Angels provides caring, at-home caregivers offering respite for families, alleviating the stress that they may have. Visitingangels.com has caregivers that can help with hygiene assistance, meal preparation, housekeeping, errands, and much more. They allow the maintenance of a family’s schedule while providing personalized care.

Bio: Grace Enderlein is a freelance writer and editor. “Take the Pressure off With Senior Care” notes that respite care from Visitingangels.com is helpful for a family caring for a loved one in need.

To learn more about Visiting Angels and how our experienced caregivers can help you take the pressure off, please call one of our Bay Area offices:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585
5/3/2010 4:27:50 PM
Know the Difference: Homecare Agencies and Private Caregivers
At Visiting Angels all of our caregivers are our employees. What does that mean for you, the consumer?

We run background and reference checks on all caregivers.
We handle all worker's compensation claims.
We carry liability insurance for all of our caregivers.
If something happens while a Visiting Angels caregiver is in your home you are not legally responsible- we are.
We handle all federal and state taxes for our caregivers so you don't have to.
We verify employment eligiblity.
We conduct ongoing supervision of all Visiting Angels caregivers.

Because we know we are not always the right option for every potential client we want to educate the public about the differences between employee-based companies like Visiting Angels and other companies who provide caregivers that are not employees. Be sure to ask every homecare company you research about how they handle the issues listed above. This will ensure you are not getting into a situation that you are not prepared to handle.

This article from the Wall Street Journal further outlines some of the differences between employee-based and referral agencies. It provides insight into why you should ask about caregivers' employment status when looking to hire an in-home care company.

What to Know If You Are The Boss of a Private Caregiver

To learn more about Visiting Angels and our experienced team of caregivers please call one of our Bay Area offices:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585
3/15/2010 10:52:21 AM
November
The month of November is designated to draw attention to a few causes that are near and dear to our hearts here at Visiting Angels. Follow the links below to learn more about these causes as well as ways you can recognize some very important people and organizations during the month of November.


National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month


National Family Caregivers' Month


National Hospice/Palliative Care Month


11/2/2009 3:53:26 PM
Caregivers and "Swine" Flu
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is predicting that 30-50% of Americans could contract the 2009 H1N1 Virus- commonly known as "Swine" Flu- during the 2009-2010 flu season. As flu season is officially upon us, there are many things the public can do to try and stay healthy during this period.

It is particularly important that anyone working closely with vulnerable populations is aware of what can be done to prevent the spread of the Swine Flu. Although seniors are not thought to be disproportionately impacted by the Swine Flu, it's still important for caregivers to avoid any behavior that may put their care recipient at risk- especially if the care recipient has a condition that makes them more suseptible to the virus, like a chronic respiratory condition or compromised immune system.

The following information taken from the San Francisco Examiner offers steps that caregivers can take to help their care recipients avoid falling victim to the Swine Flu:

Swine flu is a highly contagious disease, easily spread person-to-person by virus particles contained in coughs, sneezes, or personal contact (such as kissing or on hands). Caring for the elderly is a huge responsibility and the last thing anyone wants to do is spread the flu or swine flu by not practicing hygienic practices.

If you are a home care worker or health care worker, your job becomes more strenuous during the flu season. Below are some tips to ensure the continued health of your charges:

1. Schedule and get your own flu shots - for both the flu and the swine flu. The flu shot does NOT protect against Swine flu so make sure to get immunized against both. Swine flu shots are proposed to be available in October sometime and come in a series of 2 shots, 3 weeks apart.

2. Ensure your elderly friends are immunized against flu and pneumonia. The CDC recognizes that most elderly subjects have some natural immunity to swine flu so are more concerned with immunizing the primary targeted groups before the elderly.

3. Monitor visitors coming in. Everyone wants their darling child to visit grandma or grandpa but little ones are breeding grounds for illnesses due to having a new immune system. The elderly are especially susceptible to illness so keep anyone with a running nose, cough or sneeze away from the people for whom you care. Swine flu contagion period is 7 days after symptoms start but children may remain contagious for much longer.

4. Ask visitors to keep kissing and touching to a minimum. It's a good time to practice 'air kisses' or 'blowing kisses' from young children to the elderly.

5. Keep antibiotic solutions (such as Pyrex) handy throughout the house. Controversy exists about whether antibiotic solutions really help reduce the spread of flu or Swine flu as they're viruses but it can't hurt! Ask visitors to use the solution before touching the elderly.

6. Monitor the CDC Fluview spread maps to see where confirmed cases are, on a week by week basis. Increase prevention maneuvers accordingly - if flu cases have been confirmed in your immediate area, you might want to consider instituting a 'no visit' policy. Phone calls are always allowed....

For more information about the non-medical caregiving services we provide at Visiting Angels please feel free to contact one of our Bay Area offices:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585
9/8/2009 1:03:12 PM
Mom Took Care Of You...
...Now the Tables are Turned

There’s nothing like a mother’s love. Whether she was making your school lunch, giving you a pep talk after a disappointment, acting as your biggest cheerleader, or spoiling your kids, Mom was always there for you.

Perhaps that’s why it is so difficult for grown children to accept the fact that they are not always able to take care of an aging mother themselves. In a perfect world, you would be able to take care of your aging parent in your home or theirs, relying only on family to help you. But the reality is that caring for an aging or ill parent is a full-time job that can take a toll on the caregiver; add to that the demands of raising a family, working, and other responsibilities, and chances are you’ll need a little assistance along the way.

That’s where Visiting Angels come in. A national network of franchised non-medical senior homecare agencies, the company provides senior homecare to help elderly and older adults continue to live in their homes. These caring, experienced home caregivers provide up to 24-hour care in the comfort of the client’s own home.

Unlike most service agencies that assign staff and schedule appointments with little input from their clients, Visiting Angels representatives begin by meeting with potential clients in order to get to know them. They also talk with involved family members, and when necessary, a person's physician or social worker in order to develop an individualized program to manage the particular daily needs of each care recipient. Clients participate in selecting their own caregivers, and the client and her family have the final say in the selection process, ensuring that the match will be a good one.

You can be confident that your caregiver is qualified and has excellent references. “Character counts,” says Richard Bitner, of Visiting Angels. “We build relationships with families and hire only experienced caregivers who pass a rigorous screening process.”

“The families schedule is our schedule”. The company also emphasizes the intangible traits of the caregiver, such as a caring personality. Many of the company’s caregivers are former hospital staff who have grown tired of the money mentality taking over healthcare and who appreciate the opportunity to do one-on-one personal care.

“We want our clients to look forward to a visit by their caregiver,” says Bitner. “That’s why the client is in complete control from start to finish.” After the caregiver has been placed in your home, the company continues its personalized contact through telephone check-in and home visits to make sure you and your caregiver are a good match.

Although Visiting Angels are non-medical caregivers, they can provide a vital link in patient care. In cases where seniors are coming home from the hospital or a nursing home, the agency will consult with doctors, nursing home staff, social workers, physical therapists, and of course, the family, to establish each client’s personalized needs. In addition, although Visiting Angels do not dispense drugs, they can help monitor whether the patient is taking their medication.


Because caregivers have access to a great deal of health information about their clients, Visiting Angels is one of very few national non-medical senior homecare providers to be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). “Such information is very sensitive, and all of our clients deserve the protection that HIPAA compliancy can provide,” says Bitner. Many families request we take their Mother’s to their Doctor for scheduled appointments, so we can keep the family in the loop.

In addition to offering joyful companionship, Visiting Angels will also do light housekeeping, run errands, prepare meals or do shopping -- other ways they can provide a respite for families dealing with the care of a loved one. A client from Florida says, “Thank you again for all of your help and kindness. My mother and I cou
6/22/2009 9:40:34 AM
Hot Weather Help for Older Adults
When the heat is on it’s time for everyone to take extra precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses and deaths. Each year approximately 200 people die of heat-related issues. The summer is an especially critical time for preventing heat-related health issues in older adults. Numerous studies have proven that hot weather is more likely to affect older adults, 50 and above, than younger ones.

Heat-related health problems in seniors can result when the outside temperature is in the 80-90 degree range. Therefore, those caring for older adults should always check the temperature and monitor it and their loved one closely. Caregivers should be also aware of the many additional risk factors that place seniors in danger of suffering complications from the heat.

As we age physical changes take place and older adults lose the ability to cool down. These and other physical changes in older adults sometimes do not allow them to feel the heat when temperatures rise to dangerous levels. Seniors are also less likely to hydrate themselves as they often do not recognize feelings of thirst as quickly as younger adults.

To add to the elevated risk posed to older adults in hot weather, major diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and others common with seniors increase the likelihood that they will have problems when the temperature rises. Some medications, along with excessive heat, can make a volatile combination that shouldn’t be ignored.

Here are some basic guidelines caregivers can follow to prevent heat-related illnesses in older adults:

  • Move the individual to an air conditioned room and make sure that the thermostat is set cool enough. Also make sure the unit is in good reliable working order. Fans are not enough as all they do is re-circulate hot air.

  • If there is no air conditioning available, perhaps frequent trips to your local shopping mall or grocery store are in order.
    No senior should ever attempt to walk even short distances during severe temperatures.

  • Older adults should always drink plenty of water or other clear liquid nutritional supplements.

  • Tip: If an older adult's urine is light in color, the person is properly hydrated. If it is a darker yellow, more hydration is required.

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will dehydrate the body.

  • Frequent cool showers, baths or sponge baths can help keep an older adult's temperature down

  • Wearing light colored clothing, loose fitting, and made of a breathable fabric like cotton are helpful in managing heat.

  • If going outdoors is a must, be sure a hat is always worn with a brim to cover the face and ears.


  • For more information about how Visiting Angels can help keep your loved ones safe from heat-related illness, please feel free to call one of our Bay Area offices:

    Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
    Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
    San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585
5/27/2009 3:31:35 PM
Hospital Hints
Consider this situation:

You fell and broke your hip. You are sent to the hospital where you are quickly admitted and told that you will need surgery. Over the course of the next few hours you meet nurses, doctors and specialists. You are asked questions about your medical history, allergies and pain level. You are sharing a room with a stranger on a noisy, bustling floor. On top of all of this, you are in pain and you are alone.

Situations similar to this fictional scenario are very common among the senior population. Navigating the hospital system is intimidating to begin with, and adding pain, confusion or fear to that makes the experience practically impossible to handle.

Educating our seniors about what to expect in the hospital is one way to reduce the stress of hospitalization. Identifying people who are willing to act as your advocate in the hospital, whether it's a family member or friend, is also helpful. Anyone who will be charged with navigating a hospitalization should become familiar with basic processes and procedures, terminology, technology and personnal in order to reduce the chances of confusion and eliminate as much stress as possible.

The National Institute of Health has put together an article titled "Hospital Hints" that provides useful information regarding the hospital system that everyone should know. It is a great introduction to effectively navigating a hospital stay.

Hiring a homecare agency is another way to reduce the stress of a hospital stay. At Visiting Angels, we are experts in working with hospital staff and are familiar with the processes and procedures that you will likely encounter. We can work with you social worker or discharge planner to ensure that you have everything you need to recover at home and avoid future trips to the hospital. These and other care management services can help make your hospital experience and transition home more manageable and less stressful.

For more information about how Visiting Angels can help you or a loved one who has been hospitalized, please feel free to call one of our Bay Area offices:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585
4/14/2009 12:54:52 PM
Employing a Caregiver
One of the most important questions someone can ask when finding a company to provide homecare is, "Are your caregivers employees or independent contractors?"

This may seem like a very minor distinction. However, as this article from the New York Times explains, it is essential that care recipients understand what responsibilities they have if a caregiver is not employed by a full service agency. These responsibilities often include purchasing liability and worker's compensation insurance, tax witholdings, and verification of employment elligibility.

At Visiting Angels, we know that we may not be the right choice for every family. For instance, some people may prefer to hire a private caregiver because it provides them with more direct control over the caregiver. However, we also know that working with a full-service agency like Visiting Angels relieves the burden on a care recipient and their loved ones by taking care of taxes, worker's compensation, liability insurance and a host of other precautions.

For more information about our full-service homecare model and how we can help you or your loved one, please feel free to contact one of our Bay Area offices:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585

3/26/2009 4:24:34 PM
Long Distance Caregiving
What to Do When Your Loved One Needs Long Distance Care

You took that fantastic job offer in another state. Mom and dad were healthy and fine. As time passed, you were promoted and became successful. Dad passed away and mom is not doing well on her own. She’s reached an age where daily assistance may be necessary and you’re a 1,000 miles away. How do you manage this situation without picking up and moving your family or your mother? If this scenario sounds familiar, remote care giving might be the answer.

“This scenario plays out each and every day in thousands of American’s lives,” says Richard Bitner of Visiting Angels Living Assistance Services. “I had relocated to Florida in 1985 and my mother followed shortly after. In 2000 I relocated back to Pennsylvania to start a life with a new wife and family. My mother stayed and many questions arose. What do I do if she cannot live day-to-day being able to care for herself? How can anyone take care of a loved one so far away?”

That’s when Visiting Angels began to focus on remote care giving and taking the burden off families and loved ones of those that need care. “Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not the only options available,” says Bitner. Non medical home care allows your loved one’s to live where they want to be … their own home.

Visiting Angels has over 300 offices around the country to help educate families and provide care to loved ones. Here are some questions to consider when determining if your loved one needs professional care:

  • Does your loved one need assistance with walking?

  • Has their physical and/or emotional health been declining?

  • Are they able to prepare nutritious daily meals?

  • Are they able to shop for themselves?

  • Are they able to manage their bills and financial responsibilities?

  • Are they taking their medications on time?

  • Are they still able to drive safely?

  • Are they in need of companionship?

  • Are they able to dress and groom themselves?


If you answered yes to any of these questions, professional home care might be an option for you. When considering agencies, choose one that can offer more than basic homemaker services, including dressing, bathing and other hygienic activities. Because not all states require licensing, be sure to check that the agency is bonded, insured and licensed.

For piece of mind for you and your loved one, understand the caregiver’s background and experience. Agencies should be able to provide you this along with conducting a criminal background check on its employees. You also should be able to meet with the caregiver before you agree to services to make sure that personalities match and you are comfortable with the service they provide.

“And you should be entirely comfortable with the person helping your loved one,” adds Bitner. “For example, at Visiting Angles, we try to match the personalities of our clients with the personalities of our caregivers. If something doesn’t fit, we find someone who does. This makes everyone happy and allows us to give the best care possible.”

Since home care services are non-medical, they currently are not covered by Medicare. But you do have options. Home care services can be paid individually or by long term care insurance. Often, funds from associations are available as well. For example, contact the organization that is involved with the illness that your loved one is afflicted with. Funds are sometimes available for their members.

Veterans and their spouses might qualify for the Disability Pension for Aid and Attendance. Others decide to take out a reverse mortgage. Whatever your situation, the proper research can determine the best route for financing care.

Most importantly, stay in contact with your loved one and the people involved in their care. Establish periodic phone calls and visit when you are able. Conversation shows you care whether you are in th
3/18/2009 11:31:07 AM
Why Choose the Right Caregiver is So Important
As the number of seniors in the U.S. continues to grow—indeed, the first “Baby Boomers” will turn 65 in 2011—so does the market for non-medical senior homecare. Chances are, you will at some point be looking for a caregiver for an elderly family member.Visiting Angels is one of the nation’s leading providers of non-medical senior homecare, with over 170 locations nationwide.

According to Frank Miller of Visiting Angels in San Ramon, “ At Visiting Angels, we are dedicated to working with clients and their families to ensure the best possible non-medical homecare. Nothing is better than providing the quality care that allows an elderly client to stay in their own home.”

“Today’s seniors wish to maintain their independence and quality of life as long as possible,” states Miller. “At the same time, their adult children are often sandwiched between taking care of their own offspring and helping their elderly parent, who may live hours away. That’s why the Visiting Angels non-medical homecare has become popular in the Bay Area.”

“Many seniors do not require a nurse, but simply need the assistance Visiting Angels provides helping with the tasks of daily living,” continues Miller.

Visiting Angels’ services include, meal preparation, basic household chores, personal hygiene, shopping, companionship and, in some case, simply providing a respite for family caregivers.

Due to the increased need for such assistance, many non-medical homecare agencies are sprouting up across the landscape. However, not all agencies are alike, and it’s important to understand the differences.

For more information about how Visiting Angels and our outstanding caregiving staff, please feel free to contact us at one of our Bay Area offices:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585


1/12/2009 1:17:33 PM
Alzheimer's Disease and the Holidays
The holidays provide a great opportunity for families and friends to spend time with each other and reconnect. Occasionally, family members notice subtle changes in loved ones that lead to health concerns and questions.

The Alzheimer's Association helpline experts (800-272-3900) assist callers who often, especially this time of year, have questions about warning signs and resources available to help family members possibly confronted with Alzheimer's disease.

There are 588,208 California residents age 55 and older living with this disease. It is critical for people with dementia and their families to receive the information, care and support they need as early as possible. Being aware of the different warning signs of Alzheimer's disease can equip families to look out for behavior and actions that may warrant concern and require follow up from a health professional.

The Alzheimer's Association has developed a checklist to help you recognize the difference between normal age-related memory changes and possible warning signs of Alzheimer's disease.

Additionally, if your family is struggling with the disease, the Alzheimer's Association website provides some suggestions to make your holiday celebrations enjoyable for all.

* Article provided by the Alzheimer's Association

For more information about how Visiting Angels can help individuals living with memory impairment, please feel free to contact one of our Bay Area offices:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585
11/24/2008 4:17:59 PM
Long Distance Caregiving
You took that fantastic job offer in another state. Mom and dad were healthy and fine. As time passed, you were promoted and became successful. Dad passed away and mom is not doing well on her own. She’s reached an age where daily assistance may be necessary and you’re a 1,000 miles away. How do you manage this situation without picking up and moving your family or your mother? If this scenario sounds familiar, remote care giving might be the answer.

“This scenario plays out each and every day in thousands of American’s lives,” says Richard Bitner of Visiting Angels Living Assistance Services. “I had relocated to Florida in 1985 and my mother followed shortly after. In 2000 I relocated back to Pennsylvania to start a life with a new wife and family. My mother stayed and many questions arose. What do I do if she cannot live day-to-day being able to care for herself? How can anyone take care of a loved one so far away?”

That’s when Visiting Angels began to focus on remote care giving and taking the burden off families and loved ones of those that need care. “Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not the only options available,” says Bitner. Non medical home care allows your loved one’s to live where they want to be … their own home.

Visiting Angels has over 300 offices around the country to help educate families and provide care to loved ones. Here are some questions to consider when determining if your loved one needs professional care:

* Does your loved one need assistance with walking?
* Has their physical and/or emotional health been declining?
* Are they able to prepare nutritious daily meals?
* Are they able to shop for themselves?
* Are they able to manage their bills and financial responsibilities?
* Are they taking their medications on time?
* Are they still able to drive safely?
* Are they in need of companionship?
* Are they able to dress and groom themselves?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, professional home care might be an option for you. When considering agencies, choose one that can offer more than basic homemaker services, including dressing, bathing and other hygienic activities. Because not all states require licensing, be sure to check that the agency is bonded, insured and licensed.

For piece of mind for you and your loved one, understand the caregiver’s background and experience. Agencies should be able to provide you this along with conducting a criminal background check on its employees. You also should be able to meet with the caregiver before you agree to services to make sure that personalities match and you are comfortable with the service they provide.

“And you should be entirely comfortable with the person helping your loved one,” adds Bitner. “For example, at Visiting Angles, we try to match the personalities of our clients with the personalities of our caregivers. If something doesn’t fit, we find someone who does. This makes everyone happy and allows us to give the best care possible.”

Since home care services are non-medical, they currently are not covered by Medicare. But you do have options. Home care services can be paid individually or by long term care insurance. Often, funds from associations are available as well. For example, contact the organization that is involved with the illness that your loved one is afflicted with. Funds are sometimes available for their members.

Veterans and their spouses might qualify for the Disability Pension for Aid and Attendance. Others decide to take out a reverse mortgage. Whatever your situation, the proper research can determine the best route for financing care.

Most importantly, stay in contact with your loved one and the people involved in their care. Establish periodic phone calls and visit when you are able. Conversation shows you care whether you are in the same room or across the country.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

For more information about how Visiting Angels can help you care f
11/5/2008 3:17:13 PM
The Sandwich Generation
You’re rushing out of the office on a weeknight, hoping to get your daughter to soccer practice on time, cook dinner and help your other child with their homework. Just as you hit the road, your cell phone rings. It’s the pharmacy telling you that the two prescriptions your father needs immediately are ready for pick up. Or you’re off to your son’s school play just as your mom’s neighbor calls to inform you that she has fallen again and needs you right away.

If these scenarios sound familiar, you’re stuck in the middle and have joined the “sandwich generation.” The term refers to adults with families of their own who find themselves caring for their parents as well. According to numbers from the National Family Caregiver Survey, 44 percent of Americans between the ages of 45 and 55 have aging parents or in-laws as well as children under 21.

This means that lots of families are dealing as best they can with the stress of running two households. Whether your parent lives with you, lives nearby or lives in another state, trying to juggle all these responsibilities is stressful, no matter how much support you have from family and friends.

And don’t forget the guilt. There’s plenty of that, too. Guilt over not spending enough time helping your kids with their homework because you’re cooking and freezing meals for your dad. Guilt over making your mom postpones her doctor appointment because your meeting at work ran overtime. Guilt at not having enough time to spend with your spouse. Guilt over asking your next-door neighbor to drive the kids to football practice – again – because you have to make long distance arrangements to attend to your loved one’s needs in another state.

“Caring for an aging or ill parent is a full-time job that can take a toll on the caregiver. Add to that the demands of your job, lost time at the job plus your immediate family’s needs chances are you’re going to need assistance along the way,” says Richard Bitner of Visiting Angels, a national network of franchised non-medical senior homecare agencies.

“Not everyone needs to be placed into an institutional facility and can remain in the comfort and familiarity of their own home,” says Bitner. “Visiting Angels provides something these families have been missing -- stability in everyone’s lives and peace of mind.”

The company provides senior homecare to help elderly and older adults continue to live in their homes. These caring, experienced home caregivers provide up to 24-hour care in the comfort of the client’s own home.

In addition to offering joyful companionship, Visiting Angels can provide a vital link in patient care. Although Visiting Angels are non-medical caregivers, they are an important link between the patient, their family and their doctor.

Caregivers will also do light housekeeping, run errands, prepare meals or do shopping -- other ways they can provide a respite for families dealing with the care of a loved one.

Courtesy of ARA Content

For more information about how Visiting Angels can help relieve the burden on "sandwich generation" caregivers, please feel free to contact one of our Bay Area offices:

Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585
10/27/2008 10:39:45 AM
Caregiver Stress Test
With caregiver fatigue and burnout being more prevalent than ever, it is vitally important that caregivers maintain a sense of well-being so that they can provide those important services required by the care recipients. We are always concerned about making sure the care recipient is well cared for, yet we rarely discuss the needs of the caregiver. Caregivers must take care of themselves if they are to remain effective in their duties for the care recipient.

There is no doubt that caregiving is stressful, even in the best of circumstances. With that in mind, below you will find a Caregiver Stress Test (from www.seniormag.com) which will help to identify particular areas of concern for caregivers.

Which of the following are "seldom true," "sometimes true," "often true," or "usually true"?

  • I find I can't get enough sleep.

  • I don't have enough time for myself.

  • I don't have time to be with other family members besides the person I care for.

  • I feel guilty about my situation.

  • I don't get out much anymore.

  • I have conflict with the person I care for.

  • I have conflicts with other family members.

  • I worry about having enough money to make ends meet.

  • I don't feel I have enough knowledge or experience to give care as well as I'd like.

  • My own health is not good.


  • If the response to one or more of these areas is "usually true" or "often true" it may be time to begin looking for help with caring for the care recipient and help in taking care of yourself.

    To learn more about Visiting Angels, our caregivers and how we can help lighten your load by providing respite care, please feel free to call us:

    Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
    Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
    San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585
    9/29/2008 3:14:08 PM
    Stress-Reduction Tips for Caregivers
    It is so easy to get wrapped up in the quickening pace of life. This time of the year is especially busy with kids heading back to school and holidays to prepare for, not to mention the demands of caring for a loved one! Many of us become stressed, which leads to high hormone levels and health problems down the road. It’s extremely important to remember to take care of yourself amid all of the hustle and bustle.

    Here are some tips to help you slow down:

  • Take at least 20 minutes for yourself everyday. Go for a walk or run, close your eyes and breathe deeply, take a bath- do anything that gives your body and mind time to de-stress.

  • Organize your time. Divide your day into three lists: “Must do,” “should do,” and “could do.” Try limiting your could-dos or bundle them together. Don’t forget to put “relax” on your list of must-dos!

  • Leave space in your schedule: Try leaving at least one evening a week open. Set some time aside on the weekend for slowing down.

  • Stay away from the screen: Try limiting the time you spent surfing the internet or checking your email. These activities are useful but take up a lot of your spare time.

  • Call Visiting Angels and let our caregivers give you a break!: Visiting Angels can send a caregiver to provide respite anywhere from 1 to 7 days a week, 4 to 24 hours a day. There's no set schedule involved- call us when YOU need us. Just a few hours off duty once in a while can help give you the time you need to take care of yourself so you can better take care of someone else.


  • To learn more about Visiting Angels, our caregivers and how we may be of assistance to you or a loved one, please feel free to call us:

    Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
    Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
    San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585



    Parts of this post taken from “Top Health,” a publication of Care West Insurance Company.
    9/22/2008 11:58:22 AM
    Choosing the Right Caregiver
    As the number of seniors in the U.S. continues to grow—the first “Baby Boomers” will turn 65 in 2011—so does the market for senior homecare. Chances are you will at some point be looking for a caregiver for a family member or for yourself. Due to the increased need for such assistance, many non-medical homecare agencies are sprouting up across the landscape. However, not all agencies are alike, and it’s important to understand the differences.

    When interviewing a homecare company, be sure to ask the following questions about their caregivers:

  • Are your caregivers employees or independent contractors?

  • Do you interview your caregivers in person?

  • Are your caregivers screened, bonded and insured?

  • What screening processes do you employ?

  • Do you require that your caregivers attend an orientation?

  • Do your caregivers need to have experience?


  • A homecare company is only as good as its caregivers, and at Visiting Angels we work hard to attract and hire the very best caregivers in the Bay Area. All of our caregivers are our employees, which means that they are bonded and we handle their taxes and worker’s compensation insurance. It also means that we have an opportunity to meet and get to know each caregiver on many different occasions and maintain oversight while they are working with our clients.

    In addition, all of our “angels” have to pass a rigorous screening process. This process includes an in-person interview, skills assessment, DMV and Social Security background checks, drug testing and an orientation. We require that all Visiting Angels caregivers have at least one year of experience before they work with our clients.

    To learn more about Visiting Angels, our caregivers and how we may be of assistance to you or a loved one, please feel free to call us:

    Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties: (925) 552-6500
    Marin and San Francisco Counties: (415) 499-1200
    San Joaquin Valley: (209) 952-3585


    9/22/2008 11:59:40 AM
    Taking care of Elderly Parents
    Mom Took Care of You -- Now the Tables are Turned

    There’s nothing like a mother’s love. Whether she was making your school lunch, giving you a pep talk after a disappointment, acting as your biggest cheerleader, or spoiling your kids, Mom was always there for you.

    Perhaps that’s why it is so difficult for grown children to accept the fact that they are not always able to take care of an aging mother themselves. In a perfect world, you would be able to take care of your aging parent in your home or theirs, relying only on family to help you. But the reality is that caring for an aging or ill parent is a full-time job that can take a toll on the caregiver; add to that the demands of raising a family, working, and other responsibilities, and chances are you’ll need a little assistance along the way.

    That’s where Visiting Angels come in. Visiting Angels is a premier provider of in-home care helping all those with short or long term needs. In addition to helping elderly and infirmed adults they care for those with extended illnesses, disabilities and other short or long term personal needs. These caring, experienced caregivers provide up to 24-hour care in the comfort of the client’s own home.

    Unlike most service agencies that assign staff and schedule appointments with little input from their clients, Visiting Angels representatives begin by meeting with potential clients to thoroughly review the specific needs. They talk with involved family members, and when necessary, a person's physician, social workers, hospitals or nursing home staff. Working in conjunction with the family they develop an individualized program to manage the particular needs of each care recipient. They match the client needs to the best possible caregiver and then bring them to the home so that the client can participate in the selection process. Clients who participate in selecting their own caregivers always ensure that the match will be a good one.

    You can be confident that your caregiver is qualified and has excellent references. “Character counts,” says Eric Jensen, one of the owners of the Bay Area Visiting Angels offices. “We build relationships with families and hire only experienced caregivers who pass a rigorous screening process.

    “We want our clients to look forward to a visit by their caregiver,” says Jensen. “That’s why the client is in complete control from start to finish.” After the caregiver has been placed in the home, the company continues its unique system of personalized contacts through telephone check-in and home visits.

    Although Visiting Angels are non-medical caregivers, they provide a vital link in patient care. In cases where seniors are coming home from the hospital or a nursing home, the agency will consult with doctors, nursing home staff, social workers, physical therapists, and of course, the family, to establish each client’s personalized needs. In addition, although Visiting Angels do not dispense drugs, they can help monitor whether the patient is taking their medication.

    In addition to offering companionship, Visiting Angels provides light housekeeping, does errands and shopping, prepares meals, provides transportation, and does anything they can to provide a respite for families dealing with the care of a loved one.

    Visiting Angels has three offices in the greater bay area. For more information on services visit their website www.jmhomecare.com or call (415) 499-1200.
    9/19/2008 1:53:24 PM
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