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Caregiving Chronicles

News and analysis on caregiving topics in MetroWest and beyond.

Caregiving Chronicles

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Caregiving Chronicles will present news and analysis on caregiving topics in MetroWest and around the world, in-depth Q&As with experts in fields related to caregiving and updates and announcements about caregiving resources available in MetroWest from CaregivingMetroWest.org Program Director Douglas Flynn.


By DebraMcDonagh / February 11, 2021

Excellent news for caregivers!

Effective Thursday, February 11, a caregiver/companion who is accompanying a Massachusetts resident over the age of 75 to their appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine at any of the Massachusetts mass vaccination sites may also make an appointment to get vaccinated themselves on the same day.

Caregivers spend a lot of time with their care recipient, but they also go to grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. The new Caregiver/Companion policy regarding the #COVIDVaccine provides safety & comfort to many families

Thank you to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and to the Executive Office of Elder Affairs on behalf of Massachusetts family Caregivers!

How Is Caregiver/Companion defined?

"Caregiver/Companion" includes any trusted friend or family member, regardless of age, who assists someone aged 75 or older who needs support to get to or participate in the vaccination appointment. The caregiver/companion may or may not be a family member. 

"Support to get to or participate in the vaccination appointment" is if the person who is 75+ years old requires assistance due to:  

  • Transportation or accessibility challenges
  • Visual or hearing impairments 
  • Health issues including cognitive impairments such as dementia  

What are the requirements for an adult 75+ and their caregiver/companion to get vaccine appointments?

Both the caregiver/companion must book a separate appointment for the same day at one of the Massachusetts mass vaccine sites (see below for locations).

  • One vaccine appointment for the individual who is age 75+
  • One vaccine appointment for the caregiver/companion. 
  • Both appointments must be on the same day at either the same time or an adjacent time. 
  • Both individuals must be present at the same time.
  • Only one companion is permitted. 
  • The caregiver/companion must attest that they are accompanying the individual to the appointment. 

How do I make the appointments?

  • Go to mass.gov/covidvaccine and schedule two separate appointments on the same day at either the same time or an adjacent time. 
  • For the caregiver/companion making an online appointment, select the option 'Individual accompanying someone who is age 75+ to their vaccination appointment."
  • If both the caregiver and person 75+ are unable or have difficultly accessing the internet, they may call 2-1-1 for assistance booking both appointments. 

*Where are the Massachusetts mass vaccination sites?

  • Gillette Stadium in Foxboro
  • Fenway Park in Boston
  • Eastfield Mall in Springfield
  • Doubletree Hotel in Danvers
  • Natick Mall
  • The former Circut City in Dartmouth

NOTE: Availability is updated on Thursdays

Please CLICK HERE to download a 2-page flyer from Mass.gov with more details and questions & answers. 


By DebraMcDonagh / January 28, 2021

We came across this article in the Boston Globe that answers some common questions that many of us have about the Coronavirus vaccine. 

The below is a direct cut and paste of excepts from the article. 

For the full article, please click here.

CORONAVIRUS

Questions about getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

By Alexa Gagosz Globe Staff, Updated January 27, 2021, 5:35 p.m.

About 44.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to states and agencies throughout the country, marking a turning point in the deadly pandemic that has killed more than 425,000 Americans.

Dr. Christian Arbelaez receives the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Rhode Island Hospital on Dec. 14, 2020. SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF

Note: Answers from public health officials and other experts.

Q: My vaccine appointment is coming up, but I think I have COVID-19. Should I keep my appointment?

A: DON’T

Call your provider to notify them and get tested. If you test positive, reschedule your vaccine appointment.


Q: I’ve already had COVID-19. Do I need to get vaccinated?

A: DO

Even if you have recovered from COVID-19, you will still need to get the vaccine. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends waiting 90 days after infection before receiving the vaccine.


Q: How will I know when it’s my turn to get the vaccine? Should I check online or keep an eye on the media?

A: DO

In Massachusetts, residents 75 years and older are the first priority group in Phase II and will be eligible to begin receiving the vaccine as early as Monday. Appointments can be made online, though availability is limited, and it could take several weeks to lock down an appointment, according to Massachusetts health officials.


Q: I can’t afford health insurance. Can I still get the vaccine?

A: DO

According to the CDC, the COVID-19 vaccine will be free for everyone, at least for now. While those who administer the vaccine may charge health insurance companies, they cannot charge the person being vaccinated. There will be no cost or co-pay, either. And those without health insurance will be able to receive the vaccine at no cost.


Q: I missed my appointment for my second shot. Can I skip it?

A: DON’T

The vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna require two shots in order for you to have maximum protection. Receiving only one shot means you’ll still have a 50 percent chance of contracting COVID-19.


Q: Should I get a COVID-19 test before getting the vaccine?

A: DON’T

You do not need to get tested for COVID-19 prior to receiving the vaccine.


Q: I’ve been isolating, working from home, and following all COVID protocols. Can I just wait for everyone else to get vaccinated?

A: DON’T

By not getting the vaccine, you risk catching COVID-19.


Q: I’ve been fully vaccinated. Can I stop wearing a mask?

A: DON’T

there have not been many studies on whether people who have been vaccinated can still get infected with COVID-19. That means it could be possible for a fully vaccinated person to not have symptoms but still infect other people. Wearing a mask minimizes the chances of you getting infected or infecting others, even after you’ve been vaccinated.


Q: Should I get this vaccine, even though there are new variants of the virus spreading from the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa, and California?

A: DO

Both Pfizer and Moderna have said their vaccines are effective against the new strains.

Q: I’ve been fully vaccinated, but I’m a close contact with someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19. Should I still quarantine?

A: DO

We still don’t know the degree of immunity people have after receiving a vaccine, so you should still follow quarantine requirements.

__________________________________________
Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz.


By DebraMcDonagh / January 27, 2021

As a family caregiver, you face challenges making healthy choices for yourself and the loved one under your care. If one or both of you have a special dietary requirement, your meal preparation becomes even more complicated. 

Since many family caregivers find themselves already stretched to capacity, improving your diet may feel like an impossibility. But read on for some easy to incorporate ideas.

Practical tips to maintain weight from a registered dietitian/nutritionist

We reached out to BayPath Elder Services registered dietitian/nutritionist Traci Robidoux, RD, LDN, who provided practical advice on simplifying the concept of dieting so that you can develop healthy habits and incorporate them into your everyday life.

Traci shared an interesting and proven approach to weight management. Forget about the scale! Take small steps toward adding healthy eating practices and activities into your life to improve your overall well-being. If you start small, you more likely to stick with it.

Traci suggests that we stop thinking of the word "diet" as an over-restrictive way of eating and instead think of diet as the food you eat daily. Start by focusing on your typical meals, then think about small adjustments you can make to increase your nutrients while decreasing your calories. Even if you only change one thing at a time. You are more likely to stick with it that way. 

So, to stay healthy as you age, try to eat nutrient-dense foods that give you a lot of nutrients and not many extra calories. Included in this category are fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Specific foods that meet these criteria and are not hard to incorporate into your everyday meals are:

  • Oatmeal instead of sugary cereal
  • Whole wheat bread instead of white bread 
  • Brown rice instead of white rice
  • Dairy products that are lower in fat
  • Eggs
  • Seafood, poultry, and lean beef
  • Beans 
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Unsweetened beverages, including plenty of water

A healthy lifestyle is finding what works for you and establishing a path that reflects your own goals and health needs. 

Remember to be happy, healthy, and good to yourself, and the rest will follow! ~Traci


By DebraMcDonagh / January 26, 2021

The Savvy Garegiver is a virtual FREE 6-week workshop + intro session that you can take from the confromt of your own home. 

Connect with other caregivers in a supportive environment and learn how to devise strategies for managing the care of your loved one as their cognitive abilities change.

Savvy Caregiver will help you:

  • Understand the impact of dementia on you and your loved one
  • Learn to manage daily life and strategies to help minimize stress
  • Take control and set goals
  • Communicate more effectively
  • Strengthen family resources
  • Achieve better balance between caregiving and your own self-care

DATES: 

Intro Session:  1:00 -1:30 p.m. | January 28

Class Sessions: 1:00 - 3:30 p.m. | February 4, 11, 18, 25; March 4, 11

CONTACT:

Renee D’Argento
She/Her/Hers
Healthy Living Program Coordinator, 
BayPath Elder Services, Inc.
508-573-7214 | rd’argento@baypath.org

The Savvy Caregiver program is made possible in part through a grant provided by the Administration on Community Living and Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs granted by BayPath Elder Services and HESSCO

 


By DebraMcDonagh / December 21, 2020

MassSupport Network provides free community outreach and support services across the state in response to the unprecedented public health crisis, COVID-19.

MassSupport is a Crisis Counseling Program (CCP), funded by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and managed in partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health and Riverside Trauma Center, a program of Riverside Community Care.

This series of Coping support for caregivers  offers emotional support, coping strategies, resources, and up-to-date information during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These groups are anonymous, confidential, and free.

What to Expect:

  • A virtual group of 10-12 of your fellow caregivers
  • Guided discussion of your reactions to the pandemic
  • Strategies on coping skills and ways to manage stress
  • Participants highly encouraged to stay for the entire time (90 minutes)

There are two ways to sign up for a Coping Group:

  • Call the MassSupport toll free line at 888-215-4920. Leave a message with your name, contact information (phone number and email address, if you have one), and the date and time of the group you want to attend; or
  • Click the link below for the group you want to attend. 

Instructions to join the group will be shared at least 24 hour prior to the scheduled group.

Caregiver Coping Group Schedule and Sign-Up

12/23/2020 - Wednesday at 11 a.m by Zoom. -- REGISTER
12/23/2020 - Wednesday at 7 p.m.by Phone -- REGISTER
12/26/2020 - Saturday at 10 a.m. by Zoom --REGISTER


12/30/2020 - Wednesday at 11 a.m. by Zoom -- REGISTER
12/30/2020 -  Wednesday at 7 p.m.by Phone -- REGISTER
01/02/2021 - Saturday at 10 a.m. by Zoom -- REGISTER


01/06/2021 - Wednesday at 11 a.m. by Zoom -- REGISTER
01/06/2021 - Wednesday at 7 p.m. by Phone -- REGISTER
01/09/2021 - Saturday at 10 a.m. by Zoom-- REGISTER


01/13/2021 - Wednesday at 11 a.m. by Zoom -- REGISTER
01/13/2021 - Wednesday at 7 p.m. by Phone -- REGISTER
01/16/2021 - Saturday at 10 a.m. by Zoom -- REGISTER


01/20/2021 - Wednesday at 11 a.m. by Zoom -- REGISTER
01/20/2021 - Wednesday at 7 p.m. by Phone -- REGISTER
01/23/2021 - Saturday at 10 a.m. by Zoom -- REGISTER


01/27/2021 - Wednesday at 11 a.m. by Zoom -- REGISTER
01/27/2021 - Wednesday at 7 p.m. by Phone  -- REGISTER
01/30/2021 - Saturday at 10 a.m. by Zoom -- REGISTER

If the group you are trying to register for is full, you can register for another group or add your name to the waitlist at the bottom of the page.

Coping Group Waiting List REGISTER


By DebraMcDonagh / December 16, 2020

Alzheimer's Association Upcoming Support Groups


By DebraMcDonagh / December 9, 2020

Guidance on celebrating the holidays with minimum risk for families of those in long-term and congregate care facilities from Secretary Mary Lou Sudders.

The following is a summary of an open letter posted on www.mass.gov from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) released guidance in November for how to keep friends, families and our communities safe during the holiday season. There are important considerations when planning celebrations, especially with a loved one who lives in a congregate setting. 

Many people living in congregate settings are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19 and may have health conditions putting them at a higher risk of becoming sick, or even severely ill, with COVID-19. Because of this, the DPH strongly discourages bringing your loved one home for any in-person gatherings.

Examples of Safer Ways to Celebrate

Lowest Risk: The safest way to celebrate is at home, with the people you live with.

Low risk: Celebrate virtually with your loved one using methods such as Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Google Duo. 

Low-medium risk: Visit your loved one at their residence. Bring a favorite Thanksgiving food or a holiday treat (within the facility’s guidelines), following safety guidelines including mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing. The risk level of a visit to the facility or residence depends on the number of visitors and the potential exposure to COVID-19 that any of the visitors may have had. 

Very high risk- not recommended: Bring your loved one home to celebrate with your household and/or other households. We strongly discourage any gatherings with people outside your home. Your loved one may need to quarantine for 14 days upon return to their congregate care setting.

Guidelines on Visits and Travel

Check with the facility for current guidelines.
All in-person visits and off-sites must follow established guidance and protocols. Please check the latest visitation guidance for long-term care facilities, Assisted Living Residences, and congregate care settings and contact your loved one’s residence about setting up an in-person visit or making off-site arrangements.

Get tested prior to visiting or traveling
Prior to any in-person visit, all participants should screen themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and are encouraged to get a COVID-19 test.  Please check Mass.gov/GetTested for locations.

Comply with Massachusetts COVID-19 travel orders
Out-of-state family members visiting for the holidays must comply with all travel requirements outlined in the Massachusetts COVID-19 travel order. 

NOTE: You are exempt from these requirements if your travel is limited to a brief trip to visit a person in a long-term are or congregate care setting. For example: driving from Rhode Island (or another high-risk state) to Massachusetts to visit a parent in a nursing home for 45 minutes, and then immediately returning home.

Additional Resources

In addition to discussing with your loved one’s facility or residence, there are additonal resources available to discuss how to safely celebrate with your loved one.

Families of loved ones in long-term care settings, including ALRs:
Nursing Home Family Resource at 617-660-5399 (Call Monday-Friday 9am-5pm). 

Families of loved ones in other congregate settings:
Reach out to their loved one’s case manager, social worker, or service coordinator for additional support. For a BayPath consumer in MetroWest, call us at: 508-573-7200

For a list of all 26 Aging Services Access Points in Massachusetts:
Visit Mass Home Care: http://masshomecare.info/wp/our-members-3/

See the full article on mass.gov

Read the full letter here

 

COVIDMA Text Alerts

Get the latest info about the Coronavirus in Massachusetts sent right to your phone

  • To get up-to-date alerts, text COVIDMA to 888-777
  • Para recibir alertas de texto en español, texto COVIDMAESP al 888-777

If you need support: Contact Massachusetts 2-1-1

  • Multi-lingual Informational and Referral Hotline 
  • 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
  • All calls are free and confidential. Interpreter services are available in multiple languages.
  • Phone: Dial 2-1-1 
  • Online: Live chat available on the Massachusetts 2-1-1 website 

By DebraMcDonagh / November 6, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

The month of November is National Caregivers month. It is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. The 2020 theme, #CaregivingInCrisis, highlights the new realities that family caregivers and their loved ones face during these uncertain times.

The national observance is spearheaded by Caregiver Action Network, a nonprofit that provides free education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers.

BayPath Elder Services Mission:

A vital part of the BayPath mission is to enable older adults to live with dignity and independence in the setting of their choice, and commonly, today's seniors would like to remain in their own homes.  

However, living alone does present extra challenges for both the older adult and those who care for them, especially during a global pandemic.

A BayPath Home Care Case Manager shared the following story:

"On the phone, I spoke with a caregiver today, who let me know how appreciative she is of the great volunteers in BayPath's Home Delivered Meals program. A husband/wife duo brought meals to a consumer in Hudson, and the consumer did not answer the door. The delivery team could hear consumer calling from inside the house. The consumer fell and could not get up. The HDM volunteers called 911 and waited for the EMT to get to the home and assist the consumer." 

Even a dedicated family caregiver cannot be with their loved one 24/7, so the instance above shows the importance of community support and programs offered by agencies like BayPath, which play a vital role in supporting the caregiver in this unprecedented pandemic we are facing. 

The facts on older adults living alone:

In the U.S., 27% of adults ages 60 and older live alone, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the 2010-2018 U.S. Census survey data. That is close to 13.8 million seniors aging alone. 

In an article authored by Claire Samuels, a content writer for 'A Place for Mom,' an assisted senior living residence, the point is made that senior isolation is both familiar and dangerous. While living alone doesn't inevitably lead to elder isolation, the two often go hand-in-hand.

Samuels also states, "Social distancing from the coronavirus has made senior isolation more prevalent, but it's also demonstrated how well we can communicate from afar. If you have aging relatives, call them, and encourage your family to do the same. If you run out of conversation topics, try asking these 20 questions seniors never get tired of hearing."

Caregiving MetroWest, a BayPath program, offers support for the Caregiver:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that "informal or unpaid caregivers (family members or friends) are the backbone of long-term care provided in people's homes." We agree and salute all family caregivers who are facing increased challenges due to the pandemic.

The responsibilities of being a family caregiver can take its toll even during normal circumstances. BayPath's Caregiving Specialist can help navigate today's uncertainty. The Family Caregiver Support Program is a support service for you, the family caregiver. 

You can reach a caregiving specialist by contacting BayPath's main number: 508-573-7200.


By DebraMcDonagh / November 4, 2020

A BayPath's employee friend, who we will call John, is the primary caregiver for his 96-year-old Dad, who we will call Tim. Tim is in his third assisted living placement for various reasons and has lived in his current home for about two years. 

Tim, who was usually not very social with people outside his family, became more outgoing for the first time, becoming involved in activities with other residents, such as participating in indoor activities and taking weekly bus excursions with other residents. His whole outlook and personality became happier. It is the first place he called home, and he frequently expressed how grateful he felt to be living in such a wonderful place. 

As you can imagine, the Coronavirus pandemic has changed his entire lifestyle. After months of being shuttered in his apartment without family visits and discontinuation all social activities, Tim became incredibly lonely. John initiated phone calls and weekly Zoom meetings and had other family join in. Initially, this helped, but as the weeks went on, Tim wasn't happy communicating in this way anymore. 

As the weather became warmer and restrictions on visitation eased, one visitor was allowed for one hour, by advanced appointment, socially distanced and outdoors. Some social activities resumed outdoors as well, on a limited basis. Tim started to look forward to these activities again. 

But now that the colder weather is here and COVID cases are back on the rise, the in-person visits are back on hold. John feels helpless to support their father. 

"John" you are a hero for caring so deeply about your Dad's happiness! There is no easy solution, but as you are doing, we all need to keep trying to find ways to cheer up our older loved ones during the pandemic.

Support someone you know who is a FAMILY CAREGIVER!

The month of November is National Caregivers month. It is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. The 2020 theme, #CaregivingInCrisis, highlighting the new realities that family caregivers and their loved ones face during these uncertain times.

The national observance is spearheaded by Caregiver Action Network, a nonprofit that provides free education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers.

As a  friend of a family caregiver, you can show your support in a variety of ways. The goal is to help them remain energized to do their best to provide happiness for their loved one. It could be:

  • Delivering their favorite takeout meal
  • Sending a inexpensive gift
  • Playing a game on video chat
  • Do yoga together on Zoom
  • A gift card for a drive-through coffee
  • Listening when they need to release and gently remind them YOU GOT THIS!


By DebraMcDonagh / November 3, 2020

During National Caregiving Month, we are excited to share this post from guest blogger, Kara Harvey. Ms. Harvey is CEO and co-founder of Elder-Well Franchise System. She has spent more than 20 years helping make the lives of seniors better. She has owned and operated private duty home care agencies and has been a franchisee of a major home care franchise system. 

In 2013, she transitioned into creating a social supportive adult day program, which is now expanding as a first-to-market franchise opportunity for people looking to help seniors in a fast-growing, necessary market. 

How adult day care can support the family caregiver

By Kara Harvey

We know that caregiving takes a toll on caregivers. It's stressful; it's challenging; it's a full-time job. So what's a caregiver to do when she's working full-time and managing a home, her children, and older parents who need - and deserve - attention and care?

Adult day care is a growing industry that provides benefits for caregivers and participants alike. In fact, today in the United States, more than 260,000 families utilize adult day care for a loved one. According to Aging in Place, an online resource for seniors and their families, "there were 5,685 adult day care programs operating in the United States, up from 4,601 in 2010. Of older adults attending adult day services, 74% live at home." Since 2002, there has been a 35% increase in adult day centers.

An alternative to long-term care, adult day care offers socialization, cognitive engagement for participants, and much-needed respite and peace of mind for caregivers. Participants in adult day care programs enjoy meals with their fellow participants, wellness monitoring by trained professionals, and a variety of educational and recreational programs, for example. Additionally, support for activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are provided, as are specialized Alzheimer's and dementia support services for clients and their family caregivers. 

Socialization is imperative for all of us, but social isolation can actually be life-threatening for older adults. The CDC reports that social isolation can increase an individual's risk of death; may increase the chance of developing dementia by 50 percent; and increase heart disease and stroke risk, among other concerning and life-threatening conditions. 

Adult day programs counter that isolation by fostering a sense of community, purpose, and productivity. Spending time with peers improves self-confidence, helps prevent poor nutrition and dehydration, and enhances an individual's mood. Group activities like exercise, crafting, or playing games can also improve one's self-confidence while engaging both body and mind.

Cognitive engagement is imperative for all of us as we age, but it is critical to older adults' well-being. Lack of cognitive engagement can lead to an early Alzheimer's or dementia diagnosis, which in itself can be extremely isolating and difficult; poor hygiene; skipped meals; or forgetting to take life-saving medications. Adult day programs offer multi-sensory, cognitively-engaging programming that may involve art, music, or animals, all of which can improve cognition and awareness.  

Caregiving can cause stress and other mental issues like depression or anxiety and cause caregivers to overlook their personal needs. In fact, Caregiver.org reports that "Caregivers have higher levels of stress than non-caregivers. They also describe feeling frustrated, angry, drained, guilty, or helpless due to providing care." Adult day programs provide respite from caregiving so that they may focus on their own well-being, responsibilities, and lives.

But, caregivers' worry and stress can be alleviated knowing that their loved ones are enjoying daily activities, meals, and fostering their own sense of community in a safe environment.

Learn more about the Elder-Well Adult® Day Program from a previous blog post, New Social Model Adult Day Program to Open in Natick - Elder-Well® - providing a safe space for older adults. »


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BayPath Elder Services, Inc

Caregiving MetroWest is a no-cost program of BayPath Elder Services, Inc. and was made possible in part by grants from the MetroWest Health Foundation.

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BayPath Elder Services, Inc.'s Family Caregiver Support Program and Caregiving MetroWest are grateful for the generous support of our community partner, Avidia Bank, which helps us continue to give area family caregivers the information, resources and support they need.