Elder Abuse – Do You Know What to Look For?

Elder Abuse Awareness

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

This day was conceptualized in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse to promote awareness and understanding of the prevalence of elder abuse across the globe. In this blog, we explain some signs of abuse, and what you can do if you see or suspect it’s happening.

Each year, an estimated 5 million older adults suffer some kind of abuse.

Some signs of abuse can be obvious and easy to spot. When an aging adult is being physically abused, you might see things like broken bones, bruises or welts, or cuts and scrapes. But there are less obvious signs of abuse in a lot of cases. Financial abuse or exploitation is a perfect example of this. There may be signs such as large sums of money missing from bank accounts. Or the senior may be “gifting” monetary compensation in exchange for companionship. Perhaps the senior no longer has access to their financial records and accounts. This particular type of abuse is one of the most common.

On average, older Americans lose 2.6 billion dollars a year to financial abuse and exploitation.

Along with financial abuse, neglect is another of the most common types of elder abuse. Physical signs of neglect include bed sores or pressure wounds, or a lack of necessary medical equipment. You may also notice a case of neglect if the senior has poor hygiene, or weight loss due to a lack of proper nutrition. Dehydration and unsafe living conditions are also indicators of neglect in aging adults. Neglect isn’t always intentional. If the individual doesn’t have a support network, the neglect may be circumstantial, but it still needs to be addressed.

Another type of abuse that doesn’t present physically is emotional abuse.  If you notice your loved one’s caregiver speaks to them in a demeaning, dismissive, or aggressive way, if they don’t allow you to be alone with your loved one, or over explain concerns about injuries or social withdrawal, don’t brush it off. Be concerned. If you notice something, say something.

You might question what’s going on behind closed doors if your loved one seems hesitant to speak freely to you, if they seem withdrawn, or express new anxiety, depression, or fear.

If you find yourself questioning whether or not an aging adult is safe in their situation, there are things you can do to help. First, if the abuse or danger is immediate, call 911. If you’re not sure, but suspect abuse or neglect, call your local Adult Protection Services agency. You can make your report anonymously, and they will follow up with you once they’ve investigated the situation.

None of us ever want our loved ones to be in a situation where they are vulnerable to abuse. While it’s generally not possible to be with our parents or grandparents 24 hours a day, we do have the option of bringing in a caregiver to help. But you want to be sure that person is someone you can trust. At A Place At Home, all of our caregivers are fully vetted with background checks and drug testing, and are bonded and insured to ensure you can be confident in the safety and well-being of your loved one. To learn more, visit us here.

10 Tips for Navigating the Holidays and Alzheimer’s

A Place At Home Caregiver

Taking care of a loved one who has Alzheimer’s this holiday season? While being a caregiver is both challenging and rewarding, the holidays bring some special challenges and require a prepared, proactive approach.

Here are 10 tips to help you navigate the holidays while caring for someone with Alzheimer’s:

1. Find Ways Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s Can Be Involved

Just because your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease doesn’t necessarily mean he or she can’t be involved in the holiday celebrations. Even if it’s something simple like packing holiday tins with cookies, assisting in decorating or wrapping gifts, or signing and sending greeting cards – it can mean a lot to the person doing it.

2. Write A Holiday Wish List 

Some holiday gifts can be inappropriate or even dangerous for someone who has Alzheimer’s. So, take the time to create a wish list for your loved one this season. Get ideas from your loved one and others who know him/her, cross off anything that wouldn’t be a good idea given your loved one’s condition – and share the list online. Check out these gift ideas.

3. Let Others Know What To Expect This Holiday Season

Be sure to keep the whole family informed on all developments in your loved one’s Alzheimer’s condition. Let them know what he/she can handle and what he/she can’t. For example, patients with Alzheimer’s tend not to do well in conversations with multiple voices all going at once – one-on-one conversations are best.

4. Maintain Routine As Much As Possible

People with Alzheimer’s generally need to follow a pretty strict routine. It helps them avoid confusion, disruption, and needless stress. Thus, while there will be special events during the holidays, regular day-to-day activities should be maintained at all other times.

5. Consider A Holiday Lunch Or Brunch Instead Of Dinner

Alzheimer’s symptoms may be more prevalent during the evening hours, and it’s just harder on them to have guests over for a dinner party as opposed to earlier in the day. See if you can have people visit for a holiday lunch or brunch at Mom or Dad’s house instead of the (usually) more traditional dinner gathering. Or check with the Assisted Living community as sometimes Holiday meals may be offered.

6. Be Creative With Introducing New Holiday Traditions

Most of us tend to get stuck in a holiday rut, as it were, and the very thought of changing old holiday traditions may seem unsettling. But new traditions can be founded that accommodate the family member with Alzheimer’s and the fact you are spending a lot of time caring for him/her. Watching a favorite holiday movie together or meeting at a special restaurant are some examples.

7. Simplify The Holidays To Reduce Stress

As a caregiver, you will have less time to deal with the holidays than you may have had in the past. You don’t have to “skip” the holidays, but you probably do need to scale things back a bit. Little things like doing your Christmas shopping online or using gift bags instead of wrapping paper will save time and reduce stress.

8. Know Your Limitations & Ask For Help

Nothing can be more stressful than trying to do what you don’t feel qualified to do or what you simply can’t find the time to do. Ask other family members to help as needed and go to professionals for timely assistance and for help with anything outside your field of expertise.

9. Consider Holiday In-Home Care

You may not want to have your loved one move into a senior living community, or at least not yet while their condition is not too far along. De-stress the holidays by hiring in-home care and giving your loved one some special attention while you run errands. Contact A Place At Home – Omaha to learn how we can help your loved one during the holiday season and beyond where needed.

10. Join An Online Support Community

Finally, 10 tips are never enough – you need more! So be quick to join an online Alzheimer’s caregiver support community or talk with other caregivers to “pick their brains” for ideas and find resources, support, and encouragement!

In the end, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming for you and your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Remember that regardless of any memory issues your loved one lives with, it’s still important to include them in holiday events.

Caregiving Starts With Listening: Lorrie Van Roekel

November Caregiver of the Month

Lorrie Van Roekel was named Caregiver of the Month for November.

Born and raised in Albion, Nebraska, Lorrie became a caregiver when she was 16 years old. She worked in the local nursing home with both her sisters. “One’s an RN and one’s an LPN now,” said Lorrie.

Lorrie has been a CNA for 40 years and people always inquired why she never became a nurse. They knew she’d make a great nurse. Lorrie explained that she really enjoys the one-on-one opportunity she has with seniors by being a caregiver. “I like it when I can stick with one client. I get to know them, and they get to know me. Margie is my main girl,” shared Lorrie as she smiled over at her client Margie.

She has been Margie’s caregiver for a few months now and it was her independent testimonial that won Lorrie Caregiver of the Month. “Lorrie is always on time, she’s very caring, we have great conversations, and you don’t have to explain to her how to boil an egg,” Margie shared with a chuckle.

Working with people of all ages in her career, Lorrie found herself drawn to the older generation, commenting on how she loves the stories they tell. She was very close to her grandparents and had the opportunity to take care of her grandparents and her mom because of her experience and training.

Working for A Place At Home

With a long career as a CNA, Lorrie said she was very happy to find A Place At Home. “The office staff has been so helpful and kind. I worked with another in-home company before and we never had staff meetings, we never had any training. This is so much better. I just love the interaction everyone has,” said Lorrie.

She also offered up some advice to younger CNA’s just starting out. She found in her 40-year career that it’s best to listen to what your client wants, don’t just hear them. You may think another way is better or easier but it’s important to listen and consider it may just be the way they like things done.

APAH Recruiting and Retention Specialist, Stephenie Garrison, shared that Lorrie is a very kind and caring individual. She added, “Lorrie is very attentive to her clients and goes above and beyond to make sure they are taken care of. We are very happy that she is an employee with us and look forward to seeing her grow as a caregiver in our company.”

Are you CARE?

A Place At Home’s “We are CARE” philosophy is a commitment to our core values: Compassionate, Accountable, Respectful, and Ethical. If you are interested in becoming a caregiver and hold those values true in your own life, reach out to join our team today.

Resources Available For Family Caregivers

National Family Caregivers Month is a time to recognize the sacrifices made by 90 million Americans providing voluntary care to their loved ones.

The economic value of unpaid caregiving services provided to an adult with limitations was estimated at $470 billion in 2013, according to the AARP. This amount exceeded what was spent on home care and nursing services combined. With nearly one in five United States citizens projected to be 65 years of age or older by the year 2030, the number of family caregivers is only expected to rise.

For the last two decades, Presidents have recognized November as National Family Caregivers Month to honor the millions of selfless Americans who dedicate their time and resources to be a caregiver to a loved one who wishes to remain at home.

The Caregiver Action Network (CAN) is a non-profit organization providing free education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers across the country. Their theme this year is #becarecurious to encourage family caregivers across the country to ask questions, explore options and share in the care decisions that affect the health and well‐being of their loved ones.

There are innumerable sacrifices made by caregivers as they tend to daily tasks such as shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and giving medication. These tasks can expand into dressing, grooming, bathing, researching information on diseases and tending to financial matters.

Caregiving can sometimes get extremely overwhelming and the person providing care can become overworked. They can find it difficult to enjoy their loved one because it all begins to feel like work. Print these 10 helpful tips from CAN for yourself or a caregiver in your life to ensure they continue to mindful of their own health as well. You can also read these self-care tips for caregivers.

A Place at Home: Trust Us for Compassionate Senior Care

At A Place At Home senior care, we know that sometimes you need a break from your caregiving duties. When you find it difficult to juggle work, family, household, and caregiving for a loved one, that’s when we step in. Whether you just need a few hours or 24/7 care—we are here to provide compassionate care solutions, where and when you need us. We offer a continuum of care for seniors ranging from in-home care services and care coordination to senior living alternatives. Contact us today for more information.

Connecting With Veterans: Amber Dean

Caregiver of the Month

Amber Dean was named Caregiver of the Month for October.

Amber became a caregiver by following in the footsteps of her mom, Aunts, and cousins. “I come from a long line of CNA’s in my family. We have a passion to help others,” Amber said.

She has been a caregiver since 1999, spending the last five years with A Place At Home – Omaha. With ten children and seven grandchildren, Amber was relieved to find an employer “that understands when things come up.” She finds APAH – Omaha to be a very family-oriented company.

About being selected Caregiver of the Month, Dani Sloan, HR Director of  APAH – Omaha, said “Amber is consistent, reliable, dependable, and epitomizes our “We are CARE” philosophy.”

Amber recalled her first clients when she started working here, “They were a couple and one had dementia and the other did not. They were fun to be with and kept saying they’d adopt me if they could.”

Amber also finds that many of the clients she cares for usually request her to come back. She said, “I connect with a lot of my clients. It seems like I’m with a lot of veterans and my husband is a veteran. It gives me a foot in the door to connect with them. They love to hear how my husband’s service animal is doing.”

She currently provides care for a veteran in Bennington who, like her step-son, was also in the Navy. She prepares his meals, runs to the grocery store and helps clean his home.

Ultimately, Amber shared, her goal is to be a nurse. “I’m in the mentoring program. A Place At Home helped me get a mentor to further my education as an RN,” said Amber.

Find an RN Mentor

A Place At Home has been collaborating with the Nebraska Action Coalition – Future of Nursing to provide a foundation to connect emerging nurse leaders with experts across the nursing profession. Five caregivers from A Place At Home have been matched with mentors since the program started this year.

This free program is available to all A Place At Home caregivers. Once matched with a mentor they will provide helpful resources and general guidance for navigating nursing school and other roadblocks along the path through nursing school. If you are an A Place At Home caregiver, contact Kris Kircher, Executive Director of APAH – Omaha, at 402-932-4646 for more information and to join the program.

If you are interested in becoming a caregiver, apply online today.

Bringing Confidence Back to Seniors: Keva Nero

Caregiver of the Month

Keva has been a caregiver for 22 years and landed in Nebraska after she and 19 of her family members were displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

In August of 2005, nearly 80% of New Orleans flooded after the levees failed during Hurricane Katrina. Keva Nero and her family found themselves displaced along with more than a million other people in the Gulf Coast region. Keva’s brother took in 20 family members, including Keva, while they found new housing and jobs in the area.

Keva originally wanted to be an RN, but after having her second child she decided to try out being a CNA first so she could learn more in the field before taking that next big step. What she found was a job she loved that has now lasted 22 years.

“I love it. I love working to help people. You get to meet new people and learn about their different needs. You learn more and more about different things and get more experience,” said Keva. While she attended Hamilton College to become a Medical Assistant, she found great interest in researching illnesses suffered by her family members so she could better serve them. This education has really advanced her knowledge and skills ultimately making her a better CNA today.

Keva’s approach to caregiving is to bring confidence back into the client’s life. Keva feels that if we keep feeding someone the message that they can’t do something anymore, then they’ll really believe they can’t. “A lot of them say they can’t and it just brings them down after being so independent for so long. It makes them feel good to get them involved where they can. Even if it’s just opening up the bread, let them do something,” Keva shared.

Keva was selected as Caregiver of the Month after APAH office staff received compliments raving about how well she was caring for one of the clients. They commended her for being intuitive to his needs, consistent and knowledgable. Keva said, “I’m warm-hearted and I love people whether you’re my family or not. I treat them as if they are my family. It’s about caring. When you’re in this field, you have to have a passion for other people’s feelings. I’m not here for a check, I’m here to help.”

Keva is a true inspiration for perseverance and a genuine caregiver’s heart. Congratulations on being Caregiver of the Month for A Place At Home!

A Place at Home: Trust Us for Compassionate Senior Care

At A Place at Home senior care, we know that our in-home caregivers make us great. Our careful hiring practices and high standards ensure that seniors receive compassionate, reliable assistance with the activities of daily life. Our senior support services are planned around the senior’s individual needs – and designed to maintain their dignity and independence. A Place at Home caregivers genuinely enjoy caring for others. Together, we work to provide each senior the opportunity to live their best life. Apply now or contact us to inquire about becoming a caregiver with us.

Caregivers: Making An Impact Isn’t Always Easy

Courtney-Lynn Styba

A Place At Home (APAH) welcomes compassionate Caregivers who believe that caring for others is one of the most important roles they can possess. APAH believes in the “We are CARE” philosophy which is a commitment to the core values of being Compassionate, Accountable, Respectful, and Ethical. The values are incorporated into every dealing A Place at Home has with the families it serves, our employees and caregivers, and the entire metropolitan Omaha community as a whole.

At times it’s difficult for others to understand the commitment that goes into serving with sensitivity and understanding, advocating for mutual trust and consideration while maintaining the highest standards and morals. Making a difference in someone’s life isn’t always easy or pretty. It takes a special person to understand the impact they are making even when the waters aren’t always smooth. Below is an insightful look into one caregiver’s life. Her name is Courtney-Lynn Styba and this is her story:

I used to be offended when I said I was a health care assistant and people would reply, “oh, so a glorified a** wiper”. I’d struggle to explain to them that it really didn’t matter how much poop I’d see in a day, you forget all about it. And what most people don’t understand is, it really IS glorified. It’s the most humbling, tenderhearted experience to be apart of. And call it what you want, but nothing will do it justice. Sure, there’s a lot of feces and bedpans, a lot of blood and tubes, a lot of catheters and supps. There’s a lot of hitting and grabbing, punching and yelling. But there is also a lot of love, hugs, dancing and hand-holding. It’s not all pads, bed baths and poop. It goes a lot deeper than cleaning up after some “senile” Senior.

What it really is, is breaking the news 15 times in an hour to a devastated wife, that her husband died 30 years ago, each time breaking her heart more and more. It’s holding someone’s hand while they scream in pain that they are experiencing mentally, leaving them crippled in bed for days, weeks, months. It’s continuously redressing a patient who is confused whether it’s daytime or nighttime and maintaining a happy joyful heart as you explain to them that it’s morning time. It’s noticing your patient likes music, but can’t express it- so you sing to them when you get them ready just to see their smile. It’s maintaining a loving heart when you’ve been hit by your patient because you’ve been trying to clean them, and they’re scared of being hurt. It’s wandering around the halls holding your patient’s hand as they cry out in loneliness and brokenheartedness because their family never comes to visit them, even though their family left 30 minutes prior. It’s remembering their favorite food, snack, drink, it’s knowing their life inside and out and making sure that each person is treated as if they are a person. It’s talking about death and helping them prepare, reminiscing on experiences, it’s learning about their life and listening to their sweetheart’s stories. It’s crying together, laughing together, it’s everything tragic and beautiful at the same time. It’s explaining that they might not remember you tomorrow, but assuring them you are coming back to regain your trust and respect every day. It’s working 14 days in a row just to build the relationship to make the patient’s life more comfortable. It’s crying on your drive home because you lost a patient that day. It’s caring about them so much you lay awake at 3am wondering how they’re doing. It’s holding back someone’s hair and scratching their back as they vomit into their bed because their medications make them sick to their stomach. It’s reminding them that they are loved, no matter what nasty parts of them you’re experiencing. It’s reminding them that they are heard, valued, noticed and loved regardless of their status, race, origin, or religion.

There is something so special about being the person that holds someone as they take their last breath. Or knowing that you are possibly the last person they will see before they die. It makes you want to be a better person, it makes you want to give as much of yourself as you can just to make someone’s like a little bit better. Yes, this includes pad changes to prevent skin breakdown, yes, it means giving them a bath as they’ve been covered in their own feces, yes, it means that I will sit for 45 minutes just to help someone drink a small cup of water. Yes, it means that I will patiently listen to a story from somebody who is incapable of forming sentences. No, I will not strike back when I get called nasty names, or get hit across the arm, or kicked in the leg. I will love this person in a way they can understand, in a way they can feel safe. I will not give up on these people just because their brains are throwing them into defense mode and they are incapable of using words to describe what they need.

With a happy heart, I will go to great lengths, not because it’s my job or my title, but because I love my patients as they are my family and want to make a difference in the lives of those I love. Being a health care assistant is more work than I ever thought, but I have been immensely blessed with patience and love for the people I am honored to care for. It is pretty damn hard, but worth EVERY single moment.

THIS is what it looks like to love so deeply every single day.

APAH currently has the pleasure of scheduling nearly 70 similar caregivers to Omaha community seniors. When it comes to senior care, and in particular, in-home senior care, we consider our employees the best in the business because of our commitment to our core values. If you feel inspired by the impact you can make in someone’s life, want to be apart of a team that cares as well as a company that leads with its values, develop your skills through training and career advancement opportunities, be recognized and rewarded for your passionate adherence to our core values, you’ll find yourself right at home with us.

Apply online today. We look forward to having you as part of the Omaha-based A Place at Home family.


Credit and consent courtesy of Courtney-Lynn Styba