Above and Beyond Care

For this week’s blog, I would like to share a quick story.  San Diego made national news as multiple wild fires swept across different parts of the County.  With the unseasonably warm and windy weather, the fires were able to breed and multiply quickly, making it very challenging for fire fighters to keep the flames at bay.  While the situation is starting to improve, these fires impacted thousands of acres; inflicted millions of dollars in damages as well as many homes have been lost. Communities were forced to evacuate their homes as the fires became too close to their neighborhood. Several people were displaced from their normal routines as these fires made life a little more complicated.

One such individual that was recently displaced due to these San Diego fires was one of our clients.  Our client was with a, Seacrest at Home Care Associate, for a medical appointment at the time evacuations became mandatory.  After the appointment, the Home Care Associate and client tried to drive back to the home.  Unfortunately, all roads were blocked off and they got redirected to a nearby evacuation center.  Not knowing how long the mandatory evacuation would last, our Home Care Associate contacted the client’s family as well as Seacrest at Home to inform them of the situation.  She assured us that she would stay for as long as needed.  She was aware all streets were blocked from many directions, making it very difficult for another Home Care Associate to relieve her.

The evacuation was finally lifted after nearly 24 hours.  This incredible Home Care Associate stayed with her client, awake, the entire time.  I am so amazed at your compassion and dedication for caring in such a selfless way.  I could write so many above and beyond stories I hear about our other Home care Associates on a weekly basis, but this week we want to thank you, Faduma, for being such a wonderful addition to Seacrest at Home.

 

Care Like It’s Your Mom

Last month, my mom was rushed to the hospital with a high fever and severe abdominal pain. After many days of being at the hospital and a multitude of tests, doctors confirmed that my mom had a malignant tumor blocking her bile duct. We were told that the tumor would have to be removed though a complex and extensive surgery. Luckily, we were able to find a brilliant surgeon who was able to successfully remove the cancerous mass. However, full recovery from this surgery will take many months.

This scary and terribly difficult experience for my entire family has helped me personally gain even greater perspective on the importance of care giving. While I have worked for many years in the field of providing care for seniors, I myself have never personally been a hands-on caregiver until this recent situation with my mom. Just like how I have leaned on my mom during the years from life’s pains, illness and sadness; I wanted to be there for her so she could lean on me. The transition for me from being “just” her son to now her son and one of her care takers has been an instinctual process. Many of her sentences now start out, “Can you help me with…?” Truly though, I want to help her with anything. She is my mom and it is more of a stress and burden on me when I can’t help her with a need. However, it is impossible for me to be there at all times. During my mom’s hospital stay, she had a team of nurses that were truly incredible. There was one nurse though that gave me a message that I will not forget.

The night this nurse was in, my mom had spiked a high fever and was in a considerable pain from her surgery. She was still in critical care and needed to be rotated often to prevent bed sores. This amazing nurse looked and my dad and I and knew that we both were in terrible need of sleep. She told us to relax, close our eyes, and lay on the cot the hospital had provided us. She comforted me by saying, “I know she is not my mom, but during my shift tonight, I will act as though she is.” I sat down on the cot, watched with one eye open, to see how attentive and gentle she was to my mom throughout the night. My dad and I were finally able to sleep and most importantly, my mom benefited from this nurse’s genuine compassion and touch that night. I am still so amazed at how healing this particular nurse was to our entire family.

No matter our age, it is inevitable that at some point we will need help. While I settle back into work at Seacrest at Home, I believe I am more aware of how special our Home Care Associates truly are. To have the compassion for a family member comes naturally. However, to have the ability to care for an individual as though they are a parent is truly something so special.

In honor of Mother’s day, I wanted thank all of the amazing mom’s out there that have passed down the morals and values of compassion to their child, because this compassion makes the world a better place.

Kudos!

Seacrest at Home has been serving our clients for over a year now.   To date, we have logged over 40,000 hours of care as well as over 120 different clients.  Clearly, we are pleased with these numbers and see continued growth for the future.   As the Community Liaison, I spend a majority of my time marketing and promoting to educate our community on WHAT we do at Seacrest at Home.   I go down a checklist of the activities of daily living that our Home Care Associates can assist with.   I talk about how our staff goes through an interview, training and screening process unlike any other home care agency out there.   I talk about our wonderful affiliation with the Jewish retirement home, Seacrest Village.  I brag about our non-profit status and our charitable care capabilities. While all of these messages are important, perhaps the best and most effective way of describing Seacrest at Home can be through the stories, relationships and special moments between Home Care Associate, client or family member.  These warm stories and relationships are WHY Seacrest at Home exists.   I will place greater emphasis on this point as to communicate our message throughout the community.

In order for us to capture and recognize more of these special moments, we have created a “Kudos” board.  This board will recognize individuals that we hear have done something above and beyond.  At the end of each month, a special drawing will take place for all those who made it on the “Kudos” board.  If you are a client, family member or Home Care Associate, please share we greatly appreciate hearing all about WHY Seacrest at Home exists.  Stay tuned for pictures of our decorated “Kudos” board.

10 Tips on How to Age with Independence

Dr. Bruce Chernof, President and CEO of SCAN Foundation, has released 10 helpful tips on aging with dignity and independence. At Seacrest at Home, our primary goal is to assist in providing care and resources to our community. Our aim is to take the 10 tips Dr. Chernof offers and implement them in our Seacrest at Home training. Below is the link of Dr. Chernof’s 10 short videos. If you don’t have time to watch all 10 videos, please refer to my outline.

1. What’s your plan for Aging?

With a plethora of senior care options out on the market, it is critical that people have open conversations with their family and friends about personal preferences.

2. Is your Doctor up to date?

Tracking medications is vital. Keep your doctor up to date with your medications. This will help prevent overdose, unnecessary treatment or a dangerous drug interaction.

3. Make your home comfortable and safe

Take a walk through each room as well as outside your home. Take a list of potential risks, including rugs, stairs and high reaching kitchen appliances. By modifying one’s home to make it more safe and more that individual is increasing their chance of remaining happy and healthy at home.

4. Where do you find help with everyday tasks?

Knowledge is power. This is a vast array of senior care options in San Diego County. Seacrest at Home has their own list of referrals that we have vetted and trust. Also, San Diego County has their own Aging and Independence Services department. Their number is: 800-510-2020.

5. Staying active makes a big difference.

No matter what one’s age is; it is critical to remain physically, socially and emotionally active. Often our Home Care Associates make it possible for one to remain active. Whether it is a ride to visit a friend or providing companionship, Seacrest at Home recognizes the importance of helping those remain active.

6. Who’s on your team?

Doctors, family, friends, caregivers, social workers, neighbors all constitute as a team. It is important to be sure you have their contact information readily available if there is a need.

7. Knowing when to ask for help is key.

It is never easy to ask for help, however people that age well often ask for help with transportation, bathing or meal preparation. This help can allow for seniors to age in place and remain independent for much longer.

8. 70% of people over 65 need an average of three years of long term care.

With the rise in people 65+ expected to increase dramatically over the coming years, we at Seacrest at Home hope to be able to help provide care to individuals that need long or short term care.

9. Find out what resources are available.

Life as we get older often becomes more expensive. The higher level of care that is needed, comes with a higher expense. Many organizations in San Diego County are not for profit and can help with your aging needs. Seacrest at Home, Seacrest Village, ElderHelp and Jewish Family Services of San Diego are just to name a few.

10. What can you do without spending a lot of money?

Spending money is not essential to have a good time. Local senior centers, the JCC and Jewish Family Services often have free events for seniors. There are so many ways to be involved and remain active, without spending a lot of money!

http://www.thescanfoundation.org/10-things-videos-dr-bruce?utm_source=2-12-14%3A+English-Spanish+10+Things&utm_campaign=Feb+2014+Eblast&utm_medium=email

Home Care – Could We All Benefit?

Recently, I attended a panel discussion on the current and future state of aging in California. Unfortunately, the experts in this discussion painted a somewhat gloomy picture for the future. The major reason for their concern was the demographic shift that is already occurring today. By the year 2030, California will be home to over 4 million more residents 65+. This means that by 2030, 20% or 1 in every 5 people will be 65 and older. The implications of these statistics have many consequences: lack of affordable senior housing, fewer workers paying into Social Security/Medicare as well as more of our limited resources devoted toward aging and health care costs.

After these experts were finished telling us bad news, they offered a few solutions. One of their top solutions was in-home care-giving. They advocated for more and better quality in-home care options. In-home care is so critically important for many reasons. The type of care Seacrest at Home Care Associates are providing might prevent a fall, support healthy eating, inhibit loneliness and aid in the recovery of illness. All of the benefits that our Associates provide will very likely help the client avoid going to a nursing home and or hospital. Not only are the nursing home and hospital, less desired and comfortable for that person but they are also significantly more expensive for our State. By providing compassionate care to our clients, our Home Care Associates are doing far more than just helping make a meal, assisting with a shower or supplying companionship. They truly are helping secure more resources for us all, today and into the future.

The need for caring individuals like, Seacrest at Home Care Associates, will only continue to grow. I am so proud and fortunate to be a part of a wonderful group that is doing critically important work. Getting the chance to see and hear about the work our care staff is doing for our client’s and their family leaves me wanting to write those expert panelists and tell them, “not to fear, Seacrest at Home is here.”

Happiness – Key to Fountain of Youth

Billions of dollars coupled with our world’s most brilliant minds have worked tirelessly for hundreds maybe even thousands of years to find the fountain of youth. The concept of the fountain of youth is heavily sought after as it promises to eliminate common aging maladies (loss of friends and family, higher incidence of disease, a decline in physical/cognitive ability, loss of independence and of course vanity issues) that we all fear of. Over the past century, remarkable medical breakthroughs have been made to expand life expectancy as well as mask the above mentioned aging maladies. However, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal perhaps the most effective way to find the fountain of youth is to simply be happy.

The study indicates that the key to healthy aging is to enjoy life. People that enjoy life tend to be healthier and fitter than unhappy individuals. “The study shows that older people who are happier and enjoy life more show slower declines in physical function as they age,” states Dr. Andrew Steptoe of University College London. The study has particularly gained credibility as researchers were able to take into account one’s current health at the time of the study. “This is not because the happier people are in better health, or younger, or richer, or have more healthy lifestyles at the outset, since even when we take these factors into account, the relationship persists.” So, now that we know happiness is the key to slow aging, how can we improve our chances of being happy?

Going to a bookstore or searching on Amazon, you will no doubt find thousands of copies of books on happiness. While, I have not read them all, I was particularly moved by a documentary movie I watched recently called, Happy. The movie shows people from all over the world with varying socio-economic backgrounds. From this, I assumed that the wealthier and more educated people in the film would be happiest and those with the least resources and education would be the least happy. According to the movie, I was thinking in terms of extrinsic goals. The extrinsic goals of money, image and status are NOT what make us happy. Our intrinsic goals or values are what matter most in achieving happiness. For example the movie preaches us to focus on: personal growth, relationships and your ability/desire to help are what truly make us all happy.

Understanding that happiness is linked to healthier aging, it is critical that we build initiatives to help seniors achieve their intrinsic goals. Our society will benefit in unprecedented ways by helping those achieve the fountain of youth in a more organic way. Whether you are a client, spouse, child or friend Seacrest at Home hopes that our Home Care Associates can help you focus your time and energy on the things in life that make you happy.

For more information on the study, please click the link below.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10584657/Happiness-is-the-key-to-health-in-old-age.html

Add Life to Years

If there was a pill that one could take, in which this pill would enable an individual to live to be 200 years old, would you take it? I am fascinated by this question because I do believe that one day in the future, we as a society, will have to grapple with this question. I ask this question to my contemporaries ( 20’s and 30’s) as well as those younger and older than me. While my informal method of collecting this data is not even close to valid enough to be published in any credible journal, I do notice a trend. Typically, as one gets older, they are more likely to respond; no I would not opt to take this pill and would not want to live to be 200 years old.

I think my unscientific observation does indeed make sense. With age and even more so advanced old age, comes about a higher probability of experiencing age related changes. For example: sensory decline, cognitive slowing, loss of friends and family and impaired physical mobility to name a few. I fully understand why one would not want to live 100+ years in this perpetual state of decline. However, as a greater percentage of our population reaches older age, it is essential that we invest time and thought into how can enhance life in older age.

In the article copied below, the author reiterates the need for greater social and psychological programs for the elderly, which will add life to years. The author highlights some interesting ways to help us all be more psychologically fit.

  • Find a small yet emotionally satisfying and comfortable group (Okinawa Japan calls these groups Moai’s) to express feelings, stories and experiences. These groups seem to enhance psychological well-being through social connections.
  • Try and find meaning in one’s older age. Long-lived individuals have experienced and amassed great wisdom, experiences, triumph, loss and change. With this, take the time to review and reflect on your life. Writing an autobiography, sharing stories of the past to others or just internalizing old memories has proven to be psychologically beneficial.

To quote the author of this article, Alex Bishop, “The prospect of living 80, 90 or 100 years is no longer science fiction but a reality for millions of Americans. But what does it take to remain psychologically fit? There seem to be two essential elements: quality social connections and contemplation. It helps to be surrounded by good people, especially community members, aging-service providers and practitioners who genuinely and compassionately care about the emotional security and well-being of the oldest-old.”

As an aging service provider, Seacrest at Home and the Seacrest Village family, recognize the importance to be psychologically fit and continue to strive to be catalysts and facilitators for care to enhance psychological fitness.

Please feel free to read article below for more information!

http://www.asaging.org/blog/truly-thriving-old-old-age-means-being-psychologically-fit

What is the best day in the history of the world?

Over the holiday’s I watched the movie, Jeff Who Lives at Home (released in 2012.) The movie was about a late 20’s/early 30’s man who still lives at home with his mother. While the movie had moments of humor and a sentimental message, a particular quote stuck out from it. Jeff had a recurring dream of his late father asking him the question, “Jeff, what is the greatest day in the history in the world?” Before Jeff had time to answer, his father would say, “Today, today is the greatest day in the history of the world.” While watching the movie, I found myself so anxious to hear the answer of what is/was the greatest day in the history of the world. After reflecting on the movie’s answer, I agree that today is the greatest day in the history of the world.

Today, we and the world know more about everything than we did yesterday. Today, we have more experience and confidence to make the world a better place. Today, we all have the ability to make life better for someone else.

How does this movie quote apply to aging issues? Please click the link below to see the graph which shows a shift in demographic trends from the year 1900 all the way through projected trends to the year 2060.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/13/this-amazing-animated-chart-shows-the-aging-of-america/

The graph above is fascinating. I have watched it cycle through over and over. We have heard for many years that America is getting older. As a visual learner, this graph clearly tells that story. As we are now in the year 2014, we can see our elderly population is starting to grow very quickly. Of course, this is exciting as it proves medical technology is continuing to advance, giving large groups of people the opportunity to live to an older age. In addition to improvements in medical technology, people in America are having fewer children. Therefore, by a percentage base, the elderly will continue to grow and have an increasing presence in our population for the foreseeable future. However, the explosion of seniors has many in our society worried. From a health care standpoint, many in society are worried that the elderly population will tap far too heavily into our resources, such as health care. In order to mitigate these concerns steps must be taken to provide the elderly population opportunities to avoid major health pain and expense.

At Seacrest at Home, we are preventing larger expenses in the form of monetary and pain. Our Home Care Associates work to help keep individuals in the comforts of their own home. Seacrest at Home has nearly 100 Home Care Associates and we are continuing to grow. We are preparing for the coming boom of seniors and are committed to growing our team with individuals that think, today is and will be the greatest day in the history of the world.

Happy New Year!

Every year I’m always so interested in what the new word of the year is. In 2013 Oxford Dictionaries has deemed “selfie” as word of the year. For those not familiar, a “selfie” refers to a self-portrait taken from a handheld gadget. As we are just a few mere hours away from welcoming in the year 2014, I find it important to reflect on the Seacrest at Home “selfie” and what has been accomplished and what could be improved upon in 2013. In January of 2013, Seacrest at Home began to service our first client. We were so excited to begin servicing this first client; however we remained cautiously optimistic that they would be satisfied and others would follow suit. Today, we are proud to announce that as we wrap up our first year in business, we have eclipsed one hundred clients and 30,000 hours of service! We are so pleased with these numbers! These numbers have far exceeded our initial expectations and prove we are providing reliable and quality care. These numbers also prove that non-medical home care companies can be successful when hiring top quality caregivers and paying them an honest living wage. We are delighted with our growth. Seacrest at Home started off with just a handful of employees. As of today we have now have employed over eighty Home Care Associates to our Seacrest at Home team.

Our goal is to be the very best non-medical home care company in the San Diego County. We rely on your feedback to continue to make our care more comfortable. We strive to take a subjective look at our own “selfie.” In 2014, we look to continue to provide and improve upon our quality of service, outreach to community and matching you or your loved one with the most qualified individual in order to meet your needs and exceed expectations.

We wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year and wanted thank all of our incredible Home Care Associates as well as our clients and their families for putting your trust with us.

Blue Zones

One of the greatest aspects of my job is that I get the opportunity to meet individuals that are living well beyond average life expectancy. In fact, many of these folks are physically, cognitively and emotionally dong exceptionally well. When I meet these people in their 80’s, 90’s and even 100’s, I am always extremely curious as to the “secret” to their healthy long life. Luck, desserts, exercise, vegetables, laughter, love, friends, reading and good genes are just a few of the common answers I hear. However, the casual way in which I have been collecting data will never lead to any firm conclusions on what we can attribute to long life.

Therefore, my search to find the answer to longevity, led me to the book, The Blue Zones, written by explorer/author Dan Buettner. In his book, Buettner travels the world to find what he calls hot spots or “Blue Zones,”-communities of people that live an exceedingly longer life than the rest of the world. Once he discovered these “Blue Zones,” he would then study the people in these communities and their lifestyle to see what was attributing to their impressive longevity. Mr. Buettner found 5 distinct “Blue Zones” or places throughout the world that had populations of people that had substantially longer lives than other through the world. The 5 locations of extreme longevity are:

· Ikaria, Greece

· Loma Linda, California

· Nicoya, Costa Rica

· Okinawa, Japan

· Sardinia, Italy

While each location had their own story and reason for longevity, Dan Buettner was able to compile 9 overlapping common tendencies. Below is a list of the 9 themes he suggests we all live by. I was particularly impressed/excited about #8 as we, Seacrest at Home, strives to help keep people in their own home!

  1. Move Naturally 
 The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.
  2. Purpose  The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy
  3. Down Shift
  Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease.  What the world’s longest-lived people have that we don’t are routines to shed that stress. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour.
  4. 80% Rule 
 “Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawan, 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it.  People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.
  5. Plant Slant
 Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets.  Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month. Serving sizes are 3-4 oz., about the size of deck or cards.
  6. Wine @ 5 
 People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all weekend and have 14 drinks on Saturday.
  7. Belong
  All but five of the 263 centenarians we interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy.
  8. Loved Ones First 
 Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (It lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home too.). They commit to a life partner (which can add up to 3 years of life expectancy) and invest in their children with time and love (They’ll be more likely to care for you when the time comes).
  9. Right Tribe 
 The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created ”moais”–groups of five friends that committed to each other for life. Research from the Framingham Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So the social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.

I find these 9 principles of life to be very simple and possible for all of us to employ. Clearly, one’s adherence to this template will not guarantee that one lives a long and healthy life. However, it is hard to ignore that living by these principles has been proven successful for many all over the world.

If you are interested in learning more about the author or his book please see additional references below:

http://www.bluezones.com/about/

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_buettner_how_to_live_to_be_100.html

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