By Heather Arsenault, Aging Life Care Manager

Since I began working at Windward Life Care® as an Aging Life Care® Manager, I’ve gained a deep appreciation for the great work our team of care managers and home care aides performs every day to ease our clients through the joys and challenges of their later years. Of the many services we offer, one of the most valuable is accompanying our clients during their hospital and emergency room stays. I was reminded how essential a care manager’s role as a patient advocate can be during a client’s recent emergency room visit.

Our client “Mary” had fallen in the courtyard of her memory care facility. The staff found her on the pavement and called her primary Windward Aging Life Care Manager, Terry, and then had her taken to the closest hospital’s ER. Mary was complaining of knee and shoulder pain. Luckily, Mary was ushered into a “real room” at the hospital quickly, having been transported by ambulance.

At Windward, we have a system where every client has a back-up care manager in addition to their primary care manager. Since Mary’s care manager Terry was occupied with another client situation, and because I was her back-up and thus familiar with Mary’s situation, I rushed to the hospital to meet Mary at the ER—and I’m so glad I did. As good as the care at this hospital is, there are some things that a knowledgeable advocate can do for a client/patient in these situations that few others can. This is particularly true when the older person has dementia.

I first introduced myself to the nurse and told her I would be assisting Mary per her and her family’s request. I was able to provide important background information about Mary particularly regarding her memory issues and medications. The hospital then kept me informed regarding all testing: a CT scan (due to Mary being on a blood thinner) to check for bleeding, and X-rays of her shoulder and knee.

Mary asked questions that I was able to address when hospital staff was unavailable. She was very cold, and more than once, I had to ask the nurse for another blanket to keep Mary warm. Mary also repeatedly asked why her arm was constricted. I explained that it was the automatic blood pressure cuff doing this. When she needed her knee and foot rubbed, I was able to take care of that. And when she had to urinate (more than once), I was able to get the nurse, and they assisted her with the bedpan.

If Mary had been alone, she couldn’t have reached out to them herself; she wouldn’t have known what to do. Even though she had been a nurse herself, her memory was too impaired to allow her to advocate for herself. Several times she asked me where we were, and she had no recollection of the fall. While she was resting, I continued to ask the nurse when the doctor would be in to give us the results. I was also able to reach Mary’s daughter and update her on Mary’s condition, which she appreciated, and she was able to talk to Mary herself.

The emergency room can be a chaotic place, and this can be upsetting to older adults. At one point, a woman in her 30s, being held in the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, was screaming obscenities and crying for over 45 minutes. Her room was near Mary’s, so Mary kept questioning what was wrong with the woman. She asked me, “Can you go help her?” I reassured her that the staff was helping her, though the situation was still upsetting to Mary.

The doctor finally arrived at 8:00pm (three hours after Mary had entered the ER). He said all tests, including the CT scan, came back negative. Mary tested positive for a urinary tract infection and dehydration, so they started her on antibiotics and fluids. Once she was stable, they were going to make sure she could stand up, and then they would transport her back to the memory care community.

Mary returned back home that evening. My final text to Mary’s daughter to update her on everything was at about 9:45pm. She thanked me for going to the hospital to help her mother on such short notice and especially appreciated someone being with her. We agreed that Windward would provide a caregiver to furnish one-on-one care for Mary the next day, to give her some additional support and attention.

When I left the hospital ER that night, there were at least 50 people waiting to be seen, including several older people by themselves. I am grateful that Windward staff can accompany our clients during these stressful hospital visits, providing advocacy, comfort to the client, and peace of mind to their families. It is an invaluable service we provide.

 

Windward Life Care’s interdisciplinary team of Aging Life Care® Managers has certification and professional training in a number of areas related to healthy aging, including nursing, geriatric care management, and social work. If you would like us to create a personalized plan for yourself or someone you care about, please contact us at (619) 450-4300 or [email protected].

*Out of respect of our clients’ privacy, some names have been altered.

Windward’s Aging Life Care Managers help clients to make positive life changes that result in better health and quality of life. Here is one example of a client, “Bill,” whom Care Manager Heather Arsenault has had the honor to work with for the past year and a half.

Bill was referred to Windward Life Care® by his estate planning attorney. Bill has required help most of his life due to the effects of a brain aneurysm he suffered as a teenager. After a lengthy recovery, Bill was able to go back to school and graduated in the mid-1960’s. He worked on and off, including several years as a cashier at a local convenience store. Bill is now 73. He has a heart of gold and loves a good conversation.

One of the challenges Bill has faced in his life is social isolation. To help with companionship and incorporating meaningful activity into Bill’s life, Heather introduced a home care aide, Zahrina. With the dependable structure that a daily home care aide provides, Bill now fills his days with activities that further his physical and mental health and bring joy to his life.

Each morning Bill and Zahrina play Windward Life Care’s “Memory Match Game” with cards that have personal photos of people, pets, and places in his life. Other activities they enjoy are: going to Padres games, walking at Seaport Village, walking at Spanish Landing, and eating out. Bill has a personal trainer and a therapist who both come to the house weekly. Heather also worked with Bill’s Power of Attorney to get him started in swim therapy classes this summer. As a teenager, Bill was an avid swimmer so he was excited to return to this favorite pastime.

Aging Life Care® Manager Heather Arsenault visits Bill monthly at his home, or out at one of Bill’s favorite restaurants.  Heather has weekly contact with Zahrina to share information and ideas for helping Bill. Heather determined that Bill would benefit from safety upgrades at his home. She arranged for a company to initiate bathroom improvements, upgrade flooring, and remove floor rugs to make his environment safer.

Heather has also facilitated Bill’s visits with his health care providers to ensure that his chronic conditions are well-managed and that crises are averted.

Bill’s consistent routine including in-home caregivers, engaging activities, and taking steps toward a healthy lifestyle have led to an “aging well” story.

 

Windward Life Care’s interdisciplinary team of Aging Life Care® Managers has certification and professional training in a number of areas related to healthy aging, including nursing, geriatric care management, and social work. If you would like us to create a personalized plan for yourself or someone you care about, please contact us at (619) 450-4300 or [email protected] lifecare.com.

*Out of respect of our clients’ privacy, some names have been altered. 

As we age, it can become harder to navigate unforeseen, life-altering events on our own. At Windward Life Care®, our Aging Life Care™ Managers are trained to help clients maintain their independence despite adversities. The following story demonstrates one of the many ways our Care Managers create personalized plans of care that emphasize the client’s goals and maximize freedom and quality of life — even in times of crisis. 

Aging Life Care Manager Story: Camille and Heather

Camille is a 63-year-old-woman with special needs who had been living in a partially flooded home for over a year without alerting anyone to her situation. The flood had destroyed the interior of her house and nearly all of her personal belongings. She needed extensive assistance moving into a safe space and getting back on her feet after this disaster had left her vulnerable and without direction.

After learning of the state in which Camille had been living, her trustee contacted Windward for help. Heather Arsenault, an Associate Care Manager at Windward, instantly relocated Camille into an extended-stay hotel with kitchen amenities and laundry service. Over the next several months, Heather worked diligently with Camille to put together a long-term plan.

Heather found a new apartment that would meet Camille’s needs while granting her the autonomy she longed for. “I was given a limited budget to furnish the one-bedroom apartment including the bedroom and living room furniture, kitchen appliances, and television,” said Heather. Heather shaped the apartment into a comfortable home.

Heather coordinated the lease, gas/electric and cable and transferred Camille’s mail to the new apartment. After it was discovered that Camille did not have health insurance, Heather researched her eligibility for government benefits and soon Camille was granted Medi-Cal coverage that allowed for personalized at-home assistance.

Heather’s compassion and dedication gave Camille the ability to maintain her sense of independence in a safe and supportive living environment. “Now she is living on her own in the apartment with a caregiver visiting twice a month and assisting her with laundry, grocery shopping, and errands,” said Heather. “Camille is so excited to be on her own again and is thankful for all that we did for her.”
We are dedicated to supporting our clients and willing to go above and beyond to bring together the right resources. The reward is bringing peace of mind to clients like Camille; this inspires each of us to do even more every day.

Windward Life Care’s interdisciplinary team of Aging Life Care™ Managers has certification and professional training in a number of areas related to healthy aging, including nursing, geriatric care management, and social work. If you would like us to create a personalized plan for yourself or someone you care about, please visit: https://windwardlifecare.com/what-we-do/aging-life-care-management/

*Due to respect of our clients’ privacy, some names have been altered.  

 

Today’s healthcare system is gradually moving away from the “standard care” delivery model in which healthcare professionals often operate independently of other health professionals when caring for patients. The result has been a shift toward a more team-based collaborative approach. As this new model evolves, health professionals establish new lines of collaboration, communication, and cooperation in efforts to better meet patient needs. Different care professionals will assume primary responsibility for specific elements of a patient’s care, while the team as a whole must ensure that all elements of care are coordinated for the patient’s benefit.

Because of our ongoing collaboration with other clients, Windward Life Care introduced us to Sheryl in April 2013. At the time, Sheryl was slightly overweight and her blood work showed elevated levels of blood-glucose and above normal cholesterol numbers. Weight gain had also impacted her ability to perform daily tasks; climbing stairs hurt her knees, and she dealt with back issues off and on. Recognizing the importance of incorporating physical activity into Sherry’s care plan, Windward Life Care contacted us at Reneu Health for our expertise and to help in implementing a progressive exercise program. As a team, we took Sheryl’s plan a step further and brought a Registered Dietitian on board to help ensure that Sheryl followed dietary guidelines which would be conducive to losing weight and improving her blood work.

Now, roughly 4 years later, Sheryl has lost just short of 30lbs and rarely experiences the knee and back issues she once did. Furthermore, she has seen improvement in both her blood-glucose and cholesterol numbers. If you were to ask Sheryl, she would probably tell you that she’s most happy to be playing so much tennis, a game she’s had a love for since childhood. As a health and fitness professional, I’m beyond proud of Sheryl and her husband for their commitment to this cause. It’s also been a pleasure working with health professionals of other disciplines as a means of providing Sheryl the most well-rounded and effective care possible.

-Chris Corpuz, CSCS

Reneu Health, Inc. provides at home, one-on-one activity based programs for seniors and special populations. We specialize in both preventive and rehabilitative care. Each program is specifically designed to meet your needs, and is appropriate for all levels of ability. We also work with companies like Windward Life Care to provide individual and group safety training in the comfort of your home or office.www.reneu-health.com

 

Windward Life Care’s Aging Life Care™ Managers are a resourceful bunch when it comes to finding new ways to enhance the quality of life of those in their care.

Recently Associate Care Manager Heather Arsenault created a “Memory Match Game” for her client “Gayle” using Gayle’s own photos. Heather is Windward Life Care’s “photo guru.” Previously, she had made several treasured keepsakes for clients by using their family photos to create personalized scrapbooks, mugs, and calendars.

The Memory Match Game features pairs different family photos printed on small, cardboard squares – like a card game. The cards are arranged face down in a grid, and the client is asked to search for a match by turning over two cards at a time until the match is found. The game can be played with just four cards, all 24 cards, or any number in between, depending on the capabilities of the client.

We showed the game to our consulting geriatric psychiatrist, Hossein Samadi, MD, who was enthusiastic about its value for brain stimulation. Dr. Samadi explained, matching task stimulates the frontal lobe’s problem-solving, sequencing, and processing functions. The parietal lobe’s visual recognition and three-dimensional construction functions are also engaged. Finally, the temporal lobe gets activated by the memory, logic, and reasoning aspects of the game.”

In addition to being mentally stimulating for clients, the game is quite fun! It encourages interaction between the client and professional caregiver, or a family member, providing opportunities for socialization and reminiscence, and prompting new conversation topics. Gayle’s family has voiced their appreciation for this creative and personalized “brain game.”

The Memory Match Game is just one example of how Windward’s Aging Life Care Managers take a holistic approach to caring for each client. Activities like this engage the heart and mind to stimulate and enrich the client’s overall well-being.

 

One of the most common complaints among family members and caregivers is the frequency of injuries, and the chronic aches and pains they experience. Caring for someone with aging issues, chronic conditions, and other special needs is incredibly demanding. It takes a toll both physically and emotionally.

Reneu Health, Inc. recently had the pleasure of working with Windward Life Care to provide one client’s caregiver team with a personalized, hands-on training in proper body mechanics and transfer safety. This client requires significant assistance with transfers and uses specialized lift equipment; ensuring the proper use of this equipment, as well as the safety of the client and caregivers were the goals. Over the course of 2 sessions, we practiced techniques that Home Care Aides apply daily.

Using proper technique is critical for caregivers to avoid injuring themselves and the person they are helping. Following very simple techniques, you will significantly reduce the stress you put on your body while caring for a client or loved one.

Basic body mechanics:

  • Practice proper “squat” technique by keeping your back straight while bending at the knees and hips. Look straight ahead to protect your neck and keep proper spinal alignment.
  • Always keep your body as close as possible to the person or object you are trying to move. Don’t reach out or over to try to lift weight. This puts too much stress on the joints.
  • Remember that your “core” or midsection is your center of gravity. This is the strongest point during a transfer or lift. The more you move away from your center of gravity, the more risk increases for injury.

Transfers:

  • Explain what you are going to do before you do it. Give step by step instructions to the person you intend to transfer. Sometimes a simple miscommunication leads to injury for one or both of you. When working with dementia, consider using the same cues every single time you give instructions. This helps to clarify instructions for individuals who are easily confused.
  • Set up everything you need before proceeding. Make sure the area around you is safe and free of clutter that you may trip on. If transferring from a wheelchair, for example, make sure the chair is locked and positioned optimally. The surface you are transferring to should be stable and angled for a successful transfer.

– article written by guest blogger: Chris Corpuz, CSCS

Reneu Health, Inc. provides at home, one-on-one activity based programs for seniors and special populations. We specialize in both preventive and rehabilitative care. Each program is specifically designed to meet your needs, and is appropriate for all levels of ability. We also work with companies like Windward Life Care to provide individual and group safety training in the comfort of your home or office.www.reneu-health.com