ltc ombudsman

Requiem for the status quo

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Allow me to reintroduce myself:

My name is Irene.  I am the author of the upcoming novel Requiem for the status quo.

Some of you know me as a family member, friend, or casual acquaintance.  Others are familiar with me as the author of this blog, a writer who has posted hundreds of articles over the past several years.  Still others know me because of my professional connections as a volunteer advocate for vulnerable adults living in long-term care (LTC) facilities, or because of my years as an Alzheimer’s Association support group facilitator.

Typist caricatureI’m here to announce that in addition to being the family member/friend/acquaintance/volunteer/co-employee of the past and present, I am also the novelist who has something to say.

“Oh my gosh Irene, I didn’t realize your book was already published!”

It’s not, but I’m actively pursuing agent representation by contacting several agents per day until I no longer need to.

“Why should people be interested in your book?”

Because I have an engaging way of writing about Alzheimer’s disease – a disease that will affect each and every one of you because until a cure or vaccine is developed to eradicate it, this disease is here to stay.  Whether a person’s diagnosis falls into the actual Alzheimer’s category, or into one of several other dementia such as: vascular, lewy body, frontal temporal, Parkinson’s, or dementia resultant from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), there’s no escaping its effect on the unpaid caregiver (that’s you and me) and the person being cared for (spouse, partner, mother, father, brother or sister).

And here’s a fact of which some of you may not be aware: Alzheimer’s is not just an older person’s disease; an increasing number of people are being diagnosed well-before the age of 60.

“Say it isn’t so, Irene.”

I can’t do that.  What I can do, however, is tell you a wee bit about my book: Read the rest of this entry »

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award

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Very Inspiring Blogger AwardHumbled, grateful, overjoyed!  Not just because I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, but also because I’ve inspired someone, hopefully many someones.  Talking to a wall is not a very gratifying experience; if my blog is merely an electronic version of that, I will have not reached my objective: to help, encourage, and lighten your load while on this aging journey.  Thank you Kay for the nomination!

Kay Bransford of Dealing with Dementia nominated me for this award.  If any of you readers have yet to follow Kay’s blog you need to get to it.  I will nominate several bloggers for the same award, following the Rules provided below:

  • Thank the amazing person who nominated you and provide a link to their website;
  • List the rules and display the award;
  • Share seven facts about yourself;
  • Nominate 15 other blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they’ve been nominated.  I failed at listing 15, not because the blogs I follow aren’t worthy, but because my blog-following count is a limited one;
  • Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Seven facts about myself:

1.  I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a Baby Boomer and have been for awhile.  Turning sixty was easy, however it got a wee bit more difficult at sixty-one …

2.  I was born in Pasadena, California and have lived a great length of time in Los Angeles, California; Honolulu, Hawaii; Anchorage, Alaska, and the greater Seattle area of Washington State – my current and final home.

3.  My favorite people – other than my loved ones – are anyone older than me – preferably senior citizens who’ve claimed that title for quite some time.  This third fact about me directed most of my worthwhile adult career and volunteer pursuits: senior housing industry manager, Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support group facilitator, and Certified Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman for the State of Washington.

4.  I have posted over 480 articles on my blog since starting it in 2011.

5.  I am currently writing a novel that focuses on the caregiving challenges faced by those who are the primary caregiver for a loved one.  Through real-life stories, the reader will learn more about the disease and its effect on everyone it touches.  My hope is that by putting a face on this disease – showing what it looks like in everyday life – more interest will be generated to prevent, treat, and cure Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that is always fatal, and for which all of us are at risk.

6.  I have three daughters (one of my own and two of my husband’s) and two sons-in-law (one who married my own daughter and one who married my husband’s youngest.)

7.  My family tree: I have two siblings, an older brother and sister.  My father died from Alzheimer’s complications in October 2007 at the age of 89; my sister-in-law died of the disease in the summer of 2012 a few months before her 70th birthday9.

And that’s why I do what I do.

Nominees for Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

Mary Riesche Studios, Vacaville, California.  This artist has drawn and painted since she could hold a pencil.  She has tirelessly pursued her craft through every chapter of her life.  She raised four children while her husband was in the military – living numerous places in Europe and the U.S. as a result – and that never stopped her from painting.  When her four children were out of the house, she and her husband adopted a teenager from Russia, bringing the number of children to five.  She’s a trooper, to say the least.  It took her a while to have an empty nest.  I hope you’ll visit her site to see a representation of the type of work she produces.

Catching Up to the Disease, by blogger, Don Desonier.  The subtitle for this blog is Transitions in Dementia Caregiving.  Don’s wife died of early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 69 on July 4th, 2012.  This blogger knows something about being a dedicated, committed caregiver, and on top of that, he excelled at being the very present advocate for his wife of 25 years.

Dementia Poetry is an in your face journal of a daughter-in-law’s disease journey with her mother-in-law, in the form of extremely well-written poems.  The subtitle for her blog is: The Politically Incorrect Alzheimer’s Poetry Blog.

Theresa Hupp’s blog, Story and History, is a moving journal of a family’s life covering past, present, and future.  But that’s not all: Theresa is a fabulous, published author.  I’d say I’m jealous, but friends, and that’s what I consider Theresa, don’t turn green with envy – at least they shouldn’t.  Theresa, you nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award in February of 2014, but I already received that award a couple years ago so I’m not going to claim it again, but I thank you profusely for nominating me.

Not My Original Plan, a blog written by a woman in her thirties who is the caregiver for her mother who has dementia.  This is a very inspirational blog – how fitting for this award! – and I strongly suggest you check it out and follow it ASAP.

Not Quite Old, by blogger and author, Nancy Roman.  The subtitle for her blog is Gracefully Aging with Resistance.  The way Nancy writes – filled with extraordinary humor, will keep you engaged and wanting more.

Let’s Talk About Family.  Lori’s blog family history starts with her mother’s failing health and death, and continues with her father’s life as a widower who eventually moves into an assisted living facility (ALF).  Her blog is one that I never miss.  You know how you can manage the notifications you receive so that you get a notification e-mail immediately, daily, or once weekly?  Her blog is one of those that I receive immediate notifications – I can’t wait any longer! is the way I treat her blog.  If you are not yet following Lori’s blog, get to it!

Jill Weatherholt, Pursuing a Passion for Writing, is a site that inspires me because while working full-time, she’s still committed to writing and what she writes is well-worth reading.  Thank you, Jill, for being an online inspiration to this aspiring author.  Jill started the blog to create a community for other new writers and shares her publication journey – something all wet-behind-the-ears writers need to read and be encouraged by.

10 Legs in the Kitchen is a fabulous cooking blog but a whole lot more. Stacy’s anecdotes add “meat” to every posting and provide humor and insight, not just darn good recipes.  I met Stacy at a writer’s workshop in Seattle.

Yellow Mum Blog, by Wendy in the United Kingdom, documents the loss of her mother to cancer, ten weeks after diagnosis.  What she writes is a journal, but in many respects, it is a guidebook for the rest of us in our grief.

A Swift Current, Letting our Parents Go, Hallie Swift’s blog is one to which  many will relate.  Whether your parent’s departure is a gradual one – such as is the case with Hallie’s mother due to dementia – or a sudden departure by way of a fatal accident, letting go is hard to do – oftentimes more painful that we believe we can handle.

 

Advocacy for long-term care residents

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Alternate Title:  Give me a damn beer!

Lately I’ve read various blog posts mentioning that employees of long-term care (LTC) facilities are routinely disregarding the rights of their residents.  What’s that you say?  You didn’t know that when these older folks walked through the doors of a facility, thus giving up their cherished long-term independence, they actually gained rights that they never had before?  Here’s some information that will benefit you and your loved ones.  I’ll explain by way of providing a few examples:

  • Charlie moves his mother into a facility and the head of Health and Wellness strongly suggests that he not visit her for awhile so she can adjust to living in a different environment.

WRONG!  If mom wants her son to visit her, Charlie should ignore the “advice” of the H&W employee and visit mom as often, and as long, as he and his mom wishes.  Logic: What do you think benefits mom most?  The calming presence of her son who has been the only constant in her life, or the absence of any person or thing that would lessen the feeling of abandonment in a strange environment?

  • June, who is confined to a wheelchair, is forced to go to an activity by facility staff.  Apparently June’s family has asked staff members to make sure that June gets out of her room and socializes with other residents.  On this particular day June would rather stay in her apartment and watch game shows on television.

Who wins this argument?  June should because it’s her life, and neither staff, nor family, can force her to do anything.  Logic: Doesn’t someone who’s lived at least 7 or 8 decades have the right to make decisions that are important to her?  Yes – and that right is protected by law.  Legal implications: June is reliant on others to transport her to and from places, therefore when she’s taken to the activity room against her wishes, the law considers that action as physical restraint because she is “stuck” in the activity room and in her chair, and not able to physically move herself elsewhere on her own steam.  Additionally, the facility is guilty of coercion – forcing June to do something she doesn’t want to do.

  • George joins his buddies in the dining room for lunch and orders a chili dog and a Bud Lite.  When the meals for him and his buddies are served, George’s chili dog has been pureed and his beer has been substituted with a glass of iced tea.

Scc dining room & Don setting up ADilemma: The server tells George that his doctor ordered a pureed diet because George almost choked on a roll at a nearby restaurant and he risks aspirating on his food.  The server then tells George, and anyone within hearing distance, that his doctor also said George should not drink alcohol because of his diabetes.

Rights infractions: The server talked about a medical condition in front of his buddies by mentioning two medical conditions: George’s choking hazard and his diabetes.  That’s a violation of his privacy rights.  George is aware of the choking incident – and he is also aware that alcohol may not be such a good idea because of his diabetes – but he is making an informed decision to eat and drink what he wants, knowing all the risks involved.  Solution: Oftentimes facilities are worried about liability in these types of situations – very understandable.  To resolve such a concern, all that is needed is to conduct a “care conference” in which the health & wellness director, George, and perhaps his doctor by phone, discuss the risks inherent with George’s decisions.  They can easily discern that George has weighed the pros and cons and that although he acknowledges that doctor’s orders have been issued, George decides to disregard said orders.  Care conference notes should indicate the gist of the discussion; perhaps everyone in attendance signs their name agreeing that what is written in the notes accurately reflects the points covered in the discussion, and then everyone should be happy and no lawyers need to be involved.

I strongly suggest that you contact the long-term care ombudsman in your state should you have any inkling that your loved one’s rights are being neglected.  Visit the National Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC) and join with them to advocate for your loved one.  Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, and certainly all of you would agree that all people should have a satisfying quality of life regardless of ones’ age and residential environment.

Final thought: put yourself in your loved one’s position … what would you want done on your behalf?

Submitted by Boomer98053, a retired Certified Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

Important Article on Hiring a Caregiver Privately

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Important Article on Hiring a Caregiver Privately.

The senior care industry is a dangerous maze wherein even the well-educated and well-intentioned providers of care fail to put any “care” in their caregiving.  Whether at an assisted living facility or at home with private care, the path of least resistance is oftentimes the one taken and the accompanying attitudes reflect such feelings:  “Man, I just gotta get over this shift!  These people are driving me crazy!”  “I know, I’ll just stick her in front of the TV while I catch up on my Facebook posts/soap operas.”

Don’t worry everyone – I’m not saying that there are NO ethical, compassionate caregivers, there definitely are – but attention must always be focused on those who don’t provide stellar care because the vulnerable amongst us are at the mercy of their care people.  Those hidden in a private home are the most susceptible.  Why?  Because there are very few sets of eyes observing the day-to-day happenings.  At a facility, the existence of ongoing traffic – family members, visiting ministries, long-term care ombudsmen/advocates – provides some sort of monitoring that a private home does not and can not provide.

The attached article – link above – is quite thorough.  Please take the time to review it.