22 River Road, Newcastle, ME 04553


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Tough advice to not visit a cognitively impaired loved one

by Steve Raymond and Jill Wallace

 

We shared dinner with a friend whose cognitively impaired mother just went into a memory care unit. She is upset because every time she visits she thinks the visit was great, but after she gets home, the staff calls her because her mother is upset… really upset. So much so, that professional staff asked her not to visit for a whole month. “Not visit at all,” she said.”

“Not visiting” is advice that is very difficult for family members to understand. Not everyone needs this therapeutic intervention, but some do. This is because of the way that each person’s brain is uniquely damaged by the disease.

Human beings love to remember our past. It is natural for us to want to share our memories with our loved ones. If our loved one is cognitively impaired, it is easy to think that we are helping them by reminding them of the past and keeping them “reality oriented.”

Our friend thinks she is helping her mother by reminding her of the past memories that connected them. She thinks she is helping her confused mother, who is forgetting things, to hold on to her memories. She thinks she is building connection, and improving their relationship by sharing the good times.

The trouble is that her mother does not remember, and no amount of reminding will make her mother’s brain function again. Her brain is working differently than it used to, and differently from her daughter’s. We don’t really know how it is working differently, but we see the effects. We can see that Mom becomes agitated and anxious after her daughter leaves.

Her mother feels even more confused when her daughter talks about things she should remember, but doesn’t. The daughter was talking about fun summers at the cottage. Happy memories. But the mother is now walking around, agitated and anxious, looking for her children. She has remembered the summer cottage, but for her it is not in the past. In her mind, she is right back there; back in the memory of having small children she is responsible for and she cannot find them. She experiences those memories as if they are Now.

“Where’s my little boy? I have to put him to bed. Where’s the dog? I just let him out and he’s not back yet. Does he need to go out? Has he made a mess somewhere?” These feelings create stress and anxiety and send her thoughts spinning. Rather than an act of kindness in reminding a cognitively impaired person of the past, it can actually be an inadvertent act of cruelty. This can be a hard pill for family members to swallow.

People who work in assisted living homes and memory care units know that confused people do best when they can live in the present. We learn to help our residents be comfortable in their own skins by focusing upon the positive and redirecting conversations from the stressful and anxious. We want families to learn these therapeutic communication skills because it is the most loving way to connect with your spouse or parent who is cognitively impaired.

This is why memory care communities will ask for limited or no visits for some new residents in the first few weeks. It is to provide an adjustment period for the resident. It is loving empathy for the person whose thoughts become disordered and fearful. It is a way to create the feeling of safety without the overuse of medications. It is not just the cognitively impaired who must adjust to a new reality… it is also the family members, and the professionals are there to help.

Click here for more information on safe and secure memory care at The Lincoln Home’s Harborview Cottage

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Veterans Service Seals

Maine Veterans at Home, Veteran Style: Fiercely Independent

Veterans in Maine can face many challenges with aging.  Wishing to remain independently at home is quite common for any senior.  The Veterans Administration at Togus offers a wide variety of services to meet the needs of senior and/or disabled veterans: mobile and satellite clinics, telemedicine, traveling physicians/nurses, and many other services, including home care.

Spoiler Alert: Veterans who ask for help are not, repeat, NOT taking services from other veterans.

If you are a veteran receiving your primary medical care through the Veterans Administration system, you may be eligible for services to support your ability to remain at home with as high a quality of life as possible.

How does that work?  Your primary care physician at Togus actually needs to hear if you are having challenges with independent living.  That’s a pretty tough thing for any service member to say out loud. You might feel that being a veteran is about being tough, self-sufficient, and able to take care of yourself and everyone around you.  You may feel that being a military person is about duty, responsibility, and not asking for help.  

Veterans are about self-sacrifice and not asking for anything in return, right?  Wrong.

Being a veteran is tough duty, for sure.  Many vets believe they are “not sick enough.” They think they should “save the benefits for someone who really needs them.”  The truth is, former service members often go without services they truly need.  If the services are available and you are eligible for them, you need to know that this kind of thinking is flawed.  There is enough to go around.  A veteran with the courage to ask for help is not, repeat NOT, taking services from anyone else.

A proud veteran recognizes that after serving his or her country, the country really wants to serve them back.  Unsure?  Make an appointment with your VA Primary Care Provider to discuss your needs and options. 

The State of Maine values its veterans in many ways, some of which may surprise you!  Check the Maine.gov website for more information.

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Preventing Lyme Disease – Spotlight on Seniors

Paula Jackson-Jones and Angele Rice are our Midcoast Master Experts on all things related to Lyme Disease. As the co-founders of Midcoast Lyme Disease Support and Education, they are tireless advocates and articulate speakers on Lyme Disease prevention. They speak to the issue of this disease that is endemic to Maine from deep personal experience and knowledge gathered through their many support groups and personal research.

Ixodes Scapularis – aka, Deer Ticks

They also work with the Maine Center for Disease Control Vector-Borne division. Prevention is crucial because the incidence of the tick-borne infections has been rapidly rising in Maine. Knox and Lincoln Counties have the highest rate of infection in the state. It affects all ages, and if not treated early can become a much more difficult chronic disorder.

Attend the 3rd Annual Midcoast Lyme Disease Support and Education Conference

The conference will be on Saturday, April 29 at the Wiscasset Community Center. Doors open at 7:30am for registration, and the conference starts at 8:00am. Last year they had 475 attendees. There is an excellent roster of speakers and exhibitors, including physicians who specialize in tick borne infections, alternative therapies, authors, and the producer of the documentary film “Under Our Skin.” You can see their website at mldse.org.

The video is Paula and Angeles giving a presentation on Preventing Lyme Disease they did at The Lincoln Home filmed for Spotlight on Seniors. They offer great advice and demonstrate a number of products you should have for your home and camp. I have put together several gift baskets of their recommended products for my family and friends. Tick-borne infections can be prevented even as we enjoy the beautiful Maine outdoors. Paula and Angele tell you exactly how… just click the video below.

Spotlight on Seniors Empowered Aging Series – Lyme Disease from LCTV on Vimeo.

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Excellent Kick-off for “Giving Excellent Care”

Giving Excellent Care in the Home: From Our Home to Yours

Our Giving Excellent Care class started April 11, 2017 at 9:00am.  As facilitator, I experienced excitement, anticipation, and just a little bit of anxiety in the weeks leading up to the start of class.  I truly want people to have a good experience at Lincoln Home.  I want our guests to enjoy what they are learning.  Truthfully, I personally want to make and maintain good first impressions that will eventually lead to long-standing relationships with the people in our community.  

I am super excited to have gotten everyone through the first day in one piece, and I’m looking forward to what unfolds over the next 4 weeks in our class.

Building Excellent Relationships in Care-Giving

Seven eager faces reflected a variety of emotions as we started.  

“What will this class be like?

“Will I know anyone else here?”

“What have I gotten myself in to?”

As an educator, I’m excited that people want to learn.  As a human being, I’m thrilled when people want to learn and gain skills that later will enhance their future with other human beings.  How we are in relation to others is far more important than what we know or what we do, to my way of thinking.  It’s really cool when people are ready to jump into that idea, being willing to explore the many ways they approach life and living in relationship to caring for others.

Day one topics included:

Care-Giving Values

Healthy Care-Giving Boundaries

Stress and Burn-Out

Rights, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

We learned about care-giver ethics.  We discovered that excellent means different things to different people.  We explored what it means to be a guest in someone else’s home, helping them when they may be feeling vulnerable or at risk.  Students inquired into all the reasons they have for not providing self-care, which is a required skill and essential practice for the care-giver’s own long-term health and well-being.  The best part is it seems the students are looking forward to how the rest of the class goes. 

And so am I.

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care giving, death

Death: When Someone You Love is Dying

Every human life comes to a close.  Intellectually, we all know that.  At that level, it’s just a fact.  Death happens.

We’ll all end up as a little piece of history.  That doesn’t take on any real meaning until we’ve actually bumped up against it.  Even then, it can be pretty tough to open ourselves to the inevitable.

We can’t point to a place in history to exclaim, “See?  Here’s one.  No Death!”

It seems that some aspects of opening up to our mortality just naturally want to be placed on hold.  Recognizing that someone we love or care for is nearing death remains at serious odds with other complex emotions.  It’s awfully hard to imagine, “What if this is it?” We naturally want to hold hope that this isn’t “it.”

What isn’t hard to imagine is how you can be supported through that.

Whether a family caregiver, a friend, or someone supporting a family, knowing how to serve in that capacity goes a long way to reduce anxiety.  Recently, Lincoln Home offered community education on Sharing the Care.  It’s an amazing way to build a team of supporters in a short period of time.  Whether for a pending death or to help someone through a rough patch with their health and recovery, having proficient skills in basic care-giving can be a saving grace.

Join us in April for Giving Excellent Care in the Home, a free, five-part series for giving care in the home.  Covering topics like values, ethics, bed-bathing, and so much more, you’ll be adding a number of important tools to your toolbox.

Whether preparing for a job for the inevitable when you’re called upon to provide care for someone who means a lot to you, this class will give you valuable skills and confidence.

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Giving Excellent Care in the Home

From Our Home to Yours

The Lincoln Home is pleased to offer a free twenty hour course, Giving Excellent Care in the Home.  Course content focuses on informal providers who have experience in the home, but who are not certified as a PSS or a CNA in the state of Maine. 

Care Giving with Practical Knowledge and Confidence

Participants will gain practical skills necessary to safely provide personalized, high quality care.  By applying a solid base of knowledge, you can build the confidence and competence you need to deliver personalized in-home caregiving.

While completion of the class will not result in a state-approved certification, this course will definitely prepare you for working with a non-medical provider of in-home personal services.

Details:

Class runs on Tuesdays for five weeks, beginning Tuesday, April 4, 2017. 

Dates: 4/4, 4/11, 4/25, 5/2, and 5/9.

Time: 9:00am – 1:00pm

Location: The Lincoln Home, 22 River Rd, Newcastle, ME 04553

FMI/Register: Valerie Lovelace, One2One, 563-3350, ext. 23

care giving

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Vocalist Julie Thompson – Music for Senior Retirement Communities

Star Quality Vocalist Shares her Music for Senior Retirement Communities

Julie Thompson

Julie Anne Lovely Thompson is a wonderful vocalist who performs her music for senior retirement communities. She enjoys a successful career in concerts, night clubs and dance venues with different bands and musicians. However, personal life experiences led Julie to share her voice performing in senior retirement communities. Julie is a Maine native currently living in Milwaukee. She expresses her love for seniors by performing in many retirement communities in both Maine and Wisconsin.

I was impressed that Julie brought a depth of understanding to the therapeutic role of music for people with dementia. She has attended several national and state level Alzheimer’s conferences. She integrates that knowledge into her performances and how she relates to her audience. In the Lincoln Home Independent and Assisted Living community, the residents loved her engagement and mellifluous voice, singing along with their old favorite tunes.

In another performance, Julie was very sensitive and in tune with our cognitively impaired residents at Haborview Cottage. She sparked many smiles and delighted eyes with her voice and her Presence. We take great pride in our very active “Alive Inside” music program for residents, however, you just can’t beat a live performance as given by Julie. I invited her onto Spotlight on Seniors to discuss her music along with the excellent Maine guitarist Neil Lamb. Julie and Neil gave a great interview and performed three lovely songs.

You’ll see Julie and Neil perform three classic songs in this Spotlight on Seniors interview. I encourage my senior care professional colleagues to let your Activity Director know about Julie Thompson, and invite her to perform in your community. Your residents and staff will love her!

See Julie’s website at https://www.julievoice.com/.

Spotlight on Seniors – Julie Thompson from LCTV on Vimeo.

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Healthy Aging Beliefs – Spotlight on Seniors with Dr Marilyn Gugliucci

Dr. Marilyn Gugliucci

Healthy Aging Beliefs

Do you hold Healthy Aging Beliefs? The beliefs you hold will influence the way you age, and influence the way we as a society treat those who are aging. Dr. Marilyn Gugliucci is a Professor and Director of Geriatric Education and Research at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. She believes our society holds dysfunctional views on aging, and that consequently our culture is limited by these beliefs. She says she is out to “change the world one person at a time.”

Marilyn is accomplishing this goal through her internationally praised approaches to the education of medical students because each of those students will influence thousands of people in their lives. In this way, Marilyn is changing cultural belief systems about aging to a more expansive and healthful approach.

Do Your Beliefs on Aging Serve You Well?

Many cultural beliefs about aging in our society do not serve us well. There is a kind of tragedy narrative of loss and diminished capacity that does not match reality in terms of aging. Because our society seems trapped in these dysfunctional cultural beliefs, we can be limited in the choices we make about our own health as we age. Another consequence is that limiting societal beliefs misinform our political leaders as they navigate the changing social fabric in Maine of the senior population becoming a greater percentage of the whole.

Marilyn is a loved and respected speaker and teacher on geriatrics throughout our country and internationally. She expresses deep commitment to encouraging societal beliefs more in line with an uplifted view of aging. I loved meeting her in this fun and fast-moving interview.

Dr. Gugliucci’s University of New England bio

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How to Organize a Group to Care for a Friend Who is Seriously Ill

How to Organize a Group to Care for a Friend Who is Seriously Ill
Monday, Feb 20, 3:00 to 4:00PM, at the Lincoln Home
A class by Lincoln Home managers Steve Raymond and Valerie Lovelace

Steve and Val will provide tools, tips and tales on forming a beneficial care giving group. A well organized group benefits the recipients and givers of care in ways simple and profound.

Read more in the story below by Steve Raymond

I am in an advanced stage of cancer,” Betty said, “and I have to start chemotherapy and radiation next week.” She said it very simply and clearly, but her words hit with a heavy thud. We had become professional friends over the past couple of years. Betty is young, and her news came as a real surprise.

We talked about her cancer and her life and “how are you going to handle all this?” We wanted to help her form a plan because that’s what we do, and we don’t want her to travel this journey alone. Two conversations later, she agreed to allow me to organize a group of her personal friends in a “Share the Care” network. These friends will assist in various ways, such as transportation to appointments, picking up groceries, helping in the house … and possibly more challenging forms of assistance depending upon the course of her treatment.

Truthfully, because we have no crystal balls, we really don’t know how difficult it will be for Betty over the next months. That is why it is best to have a small network of people who are each willing to share their time and personal gifts and skills in a way that suits them best. That way, no one person becomes overwhelmed with the responsibility.

Friendship, mutual support and even love can evolve in share‐the‐care groups, with the potential to create something very special and beneficial for the supported friend and for the caregivers.

Today was our first organizational meeting. It was a very practical discussion, and at times it was an emotional discussion. That is the nature of things when you choose to step into a helping role with a person with a serious illness.

Our group has people from many backgrounds … a carpenter, writer, mom, photographer, artist, waitress, scientist… and though they don’t know each other, they are joined by the common interest to help Betty, and that is exactly what we will do. They are “all in.” So am I.

If you want to form a care‐giving group for a friend with an illness, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. “Share the Care” is the trademarked name of an educational nonprofit with the mission of teaching people and providing tools so that friends and family members can self‐organize into a care giving group. It is an excellent small organization with a wide reach.

The book, “Share the Care: How to Organize a Group to Care for Someone Who is Seriously Ill,” by Cappy Capossela and Sheila Warnock is an excellent resource. You will find “Share the Care” at www.sharethecare.org.

If home care costs or assisted living costs are beyond your budget, a Share the Care group is a very effective way to help a friend. However, care groups are not just about money… creating a caring community benefits everyone. This is where our aging Maine society is headed, not trying to tough it out alone, but joining in creative collaboration with each other, and perhaps at a later time, receiving such help ourselves.

I have personally seen the power and benefit of this type of care giving group. It is beautiful and amazing what you can accomplish. I first met STC founder Sheila Warnock in Monterey several years ago. I have spoken with her recently, and we are seeking to have her speak to a conference of Maine senior care professionals in 2017.

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House Speaker Mark Eves Discusses Maine Senior Challenges and Opportunities

In a matter of a few short years, 25% of Maine will be aged 65 or older. Maine Speaker of the House Mark Eves has made senior issues a priority during his tenure in the House of Representatives since 2008, while also serving two terms as the House Speaker, and also on the Health and Human Services Committee. In this interview, Speaker Eves discusses affordable housing and how we move into the future as the state with the highest per capita senior population in the country in the face of a workforce shortage of younger workers.

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