Assisted Living Week: How We Can Show Appreciation – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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In celebration of Assisted Living Week, Jenerations Health Education, Inc. would like to formally thank all the very generous senior living communities who have sponsored our family caregiver and continuing education programs over the years. It’s been quite a privilege for our speakers to be welcomed into these buildings which house thousands of older residents all over the country.

How can we health, legal and financial professionals who participate in senior living-sponsored educational events show our appreciation this week? Here are 5 ideas:

1. Remember you are visiting a residents’ home. Attending an educational event in a senior living community is not the same as attending one in a conference center. The staff are always striving to make sure you have a comfortable experience but their priority always must be resident care. So if it takes a little time for the free coffee to be refilled, try to be patient!

2. Try to leave the restrooms and event space the way you found it. When a senior living community opens up its doors to professionals, an additional burden is placed on housekeeping and dining services staff. That said, if there is a major spill, be sure to alert staff immediately to reduce both visitor and resident fall risk.

3. Take a tour! Many of us need to run out the door after the event to get back to our busy patient and client schedules. But if you have some time try to join the staff for a quick tour. You never know if a client, patient or even your own family member would be a good candidate for their services someday.

4. Send a quick thank you e-mail to the staff member who invited you. You might mention that you appreciated the presentation topic or the delicious omelet station. But better yet mention something positive you observed or experienced that day. Did you watch a certified nursing assistant patiently assist a resident down the hall? Note the nursing assistant’s name and pass on the compliment! Everyone in healthcare hears so many complaints–make their day by sharing something you saw that was positive.

5. Leave a review on social media! Most senior living communities have a Facebook, Linkedin or Instagram page. Mention your positive experience and include a photo of you enjoying their special event (just be cautious about featuring residents in a photo unless you have explicit permission from the resident and/or his/her power of attorney).

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

Five Secrets Caregivers Wish Healthcare Professionals Knew – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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How much do you know about the caregivers of your patients?  Here are 5 secrets caregivers of your patients are desperate for you to know:

Secret #1: They’re stressed…probably more than you think.  Most caregivers are juggling multiple priorities and usually have little experience navigating the complexities of the healthcare system.  While  formal assessments like the Caregiver Strain Index and the Caregiver Reaction Scale can help you understand specific stressors they are facing, one simple question can quickly uncover their stress level.  Ask the patient’s caregiver to assign a number to his or her stress level (0-low through 100 (high).

Secret #2: They often feel stuck.  Most caregivers report feeling like they don’t have a choice—caregiving is an obligation.  They also often feel trapped with tunnel-vision about what a “good caregiver” is and feel like they have to live up to that image.

Secret #3:  They are constantly being hit with surprises.  There are often unrealistic expectations for how long the caregiving experience will last (usually longer than expected).  Sticker shock occurs over what insurance does not cover.

Secret #4: They feel their loved one’s situation is special.  Of course healthcare professionals recognize that each patient and caregiver’s situation is unique.  But caregivers appreciate when the healthcare professional acknowledges and validates the distinctive circumstances their family is facing.

Secret #5: They need us to be sensitive in the way we communicate with them.  While we must be candid about healthcare information, it will benefit the caregiver as well as the patient if we are culturally and generationally sensitive in conversation.  It’s also critical to breakdown technical healthcare terms and jargon into language the caregiver can grasp and apply to their loved one’s situation.

If you’ve been a caregiver, what else do you think healthcare professionals should know about your experience?  If you are a healthcare leader, how is your organization meeting the needs of your patients’ caregivers?

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

Does The Patient Have Quality of Life? How Do You Know? – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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Are you the healthcare provider for an older patient?  A family caregiver for an older loved one?  In less than two minutes this video will help you determine if this person has quality of life or not:

Click above video or go to:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9uRLETJKsw

If your patient or loved one’s daily life revolves around the television, it’s time for a change.  Consider that your patient or loved one may need:

  1. To be assessed for depression.
  2. To move to a senior living community where he or she will be prompted & encouraged to interact with others.
  3. A new home care aide who is committed to engage in meaningful activities with this person.

What else do you think might benefit a person whose daily life revolves around the couch or “that chair?”

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.

How to Involve Grandchildren in Caregiving – By Guest Blogger, Isabel Tom

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If you’re tired, burned out, and looking for more support, don’t underestimate the value of grandchildren.

Growing up, my family and my paternal grandparents lived under one roof. As my grandparents aged, my parents became caregivers and they wisely involved my sisters and I to assume that role as well.

If it takes a village to raise a child, a village is just as important when caring for an older adult. In my grandma’s last month, our “village” surrounded her. Adult children made her food, grandchildren googled options for better care, and great grandchildren provided entertainment, hugs, and good cheer. Teaming together, we were able to offer my grandma better care.

If there are grandchildren around, know that with prompting and teaching, they can brighten the life of an aging adult and help lighten the load of caregiving. Here are some thoughts on involving grandchildren young and old:

1. Encourage short visits – It may be hard to encourage a grandchild, especially those who are not close to their grandparent to make lengthy visits, but encourage short visits letting children know that even a short amount of time can mean a lot. If you have young children, a plethora of artwork flows in from school. Have your child save one “masterpiece” to bring to their grandparent each visit. When you visit, have the child explain the piece to their grandparent and have them tape it on the wall.

2. Remind them to make one minute calls – Just as you remind your children to do their homework or practice piano, remind them to call their grandparents. In doing so, children at any age learn that academics are just as important as caring for others. If a grandchild is in middle school to college, encourage them to call their grandparents just to say hello. This habit can grow compassion in grandchildren as their simple gestures can improve the emotional health of their grandparent. The acknowledgement from a grandchild can be magical.

3. 5 second hugs/love taps – If the attention span of a young grandchild is particularly short, don’t worry. At the beginning and end of every visit to their great grandma, I prompted my children (all 5 years old and under) to give their great grandma a “love tap,” just to let her know we were there. Affection given by all members of the family can spark the best of moods, especially when vision and hearing becomes an issue.

4. Just ask – If grandchildren are older and able to drive, get in the habit of asking them to help bring their grandparent to the store or even doctor’s appointment, if appropriate. While a child/parent relationship can often be filled with emotional baggage, there is often less baggage in the grandparent/grandchild relationship. Having responsible grandchildren help with certain tasks can lighten the load you carry as the primary caregiver.

Having grown up in an intergenerational household, Isabel Tom has 30+ years of experience with seniors, both personally and professionally. She has worked in senior living doing operations, senior fitness and community outreach & education. Currently she manages community education and outreach at a nonprofit hospice. Isabel holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Maryland. In addition to being a wife and mother of three little ones, she loves to blog at www.aboutbeingold.com.

What Party Planning Can Teach Us About Caregiving – By Jennifer L. FitzPatrick

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Most caregivers are reluctant to ask for help from others.  Many don’t want to burden family or friends.  Others just don’t like asking for help.  Some caregivers even believe that nobody else is qualified to help.  But building a team of caregivers is crucial, not just for avoiding burnout but also to give your loved one the best quality of life possible.  Who are you excluding from the caregiving experience?

Check out Jen’s story about what we can learn about caregiver support from planning a baby shower:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da-mFVZUB9g

Jennifer L. FitzPatrick – MSW, LCSW-C, CSP
The founder of Jenerations Health Education, Inc., Jennifer FitzPatrick has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and gerontology. The author of Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One, she is also a gerontology instructor at Johns Hopkins University and an Education Consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association. She helps you reduce stress and increase productivity, morale and revenue. Jennifer and Cruising Through Caregiving have been featured in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Univision and The Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on ABC and Sirius XM.