Care In Kent's Blog

Our blog aims to empower and educate you.

  • 03/09/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Why Are Older People Choosing A Career In Care?

    When we think of choosing a career path our minds more often than not go to eager young school leavers, embarking on their journey into the world of work for the first time. But what about our growing population of older workers - those who already have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share? Could now be the time to be considering a career in care?


    People in the UK are retiring later than ever, and more are changing career paths later in life than ever before.


    So, why is a career in care so popular with older workers?


    Older members of the workforce - particularly those entering retirement - often  want to give something back to the local community, especially if it’s a role that offers a lot of social interaction. 


    Working in the care industry provides just that; a career that keeps you active, gives you the opportunity to meet new people, and brings a lot of job satisfaction. 


    The industry is always keen to bring young people into caring roles, of course - they’re bright-eyed, enthusiastic, eager to learn and full of energy. But research (both academic and workplace-based) shows that older workers also have a lot to bring to the table.


    Such as...

    Maturity And Life Experience

    There’s no denying that one of the huge plus-points of getting older is the amount of life experience it gives us. 


    Older workers have more than likely already filled a caring role in their lives - taking care of elderly parents perhaps, or raising their children - whereas younger people may not have yet.  It’s these relationships that teach us the valuable skills of empathy and patience - an absolute must for working with some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

    Can Require Less Supervision

    While not a hard and fast rule, older workers do tend to need less support in the workplace than someone younger. 


    The confidence in relating to others from all walks of life, that can only come with age, is a big asset for working in the care industry. It’s likely that someone older will come up against situations that they may have already dealt with in another capacity - either from caring for others throughout their lives, or from previous work experience. 


    Being able to ‘roll with the punches’ as it were, and to be confident in relating to other people is incredibly helpful if you’re choosing a career in care, as it is a caring role - and is generally a skill associated with someone who is older.

    Financial Security

    Older people are more likely to be financially secure and to have less financial burdens than a younger worker. 


    Caring is a calling, one that is born from a true passion for other people and their welfare. This desire can be shared by people of all ages; but for those who are younger and who are raising young children, or are paying a high rent or mortgage, the financial pressure that can  bring often leads them to move to jobs that perhaps provide better pay.


    It’s much more common for older people to no longer have a mortgage or be financially responsible for supporting their children - who are more than likely grown - and so money is less likely to be a factor for them when going into a new line of work.

    Greater Job Satisfaction


    Mature workers tend to place a higher value on the rewards of being a carer than a younger worker. 


    This is not to say that younger care workers don’t find the job rewarding! But research shows that it often doesn’t factor as high in their list of reasons that they love their career in care!


    An older worker, who has perhaps spent many years working a job they didn’t enjoy, or that they found soulless and in which they felt undervalued, is more likely to prioritise job satisfaction when they choose a new career path. And you don’t get more satisfying than making someone’s life a little bit brighter every day!

     

    If you’re interested in a rewarding career in care - whatever your age! - why not get in touch with our team at Care In Kent and find out more!

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  • 03/09/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    What Does It Take To Be A Carer?

    Whatever your thoughts on Brexit, I think we can all agree that the shortage of carers it has created is going to have a terrible impact on the most vulnerable members of our society. The UK is currently short of approximately 380,000 care workers, and it is our elderly - our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, and ultimately ourselves, that will suffer most. Now would be the perfect time to consider if you really want to be a carer.


    The caring profession has gallantly soldiered on in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but as the dust has settled and we begin to return to some degree of normality, one thing has become abundantly clear: our nation is in desperate need of dedicated, enthusiastic, compassionate people who have a calling to help others and who are looking for a rewarding and satisfying career. 


    Caring is a calling - and not a profession that everyone is cut out for. We have been called ‘unskilled’ by those in government, when nothing could be further from the truth. It takes a physical, emotional and mental toll to be a carer - sometimes at the expense of relationships with family and friends….but it’s not just what we do - it’s who we are: carers. 


    Carers suffer from extreme levels of stress - in fact, more so than in most other industries - and so it’s no wonder than turnover rates for the profession is high; nearly twice the average for other professions in fact, with 58% of carers leaving their jobs in less than a year, and a shocking 73.5% leaving within two. 


    Those who stay, who dedicate their lives to the care and wellbeing of others, are a special breed. They can’t imagine doing anything else and, for them, the pride and job-satisfaction that come with the territory more than make up for everything else. 


    If you’ve been thinking about a career as a carer, you might have asked yourself, ‘Do I have what it takes?’


    Let’s find out….


    Do You Have A Passion For Helping Others?

    The desire to help and care for other people really needs to be top of the list when it comes to your decision to be a carer - and a natural inclination to put the needs of others before your own doesn’t come naturally to everyone. 


    Carers need to be supportive, sensitive and understanding. You’ll be dealing with people when they are at their most vulnerable - needing help with personal care for example, such as going to the toilet or taking a bath. It’s the job of a carer to ensure that those in their care don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed, but that they feel safe and respected. 


    If you are a naturally compassionate person, caring is a very rewarding job - imagine knowing that you are making a difference to someone’s life; making them happier and their life easier.

    Do You Have A Willing And Flexible Nature?

    It’s so important that someone working within the caring profession is dependable and reliable. 


    Your hours might be unusual or your schedule might change in order to fit the needs of a client - this is not a predictable 9-5 role! This is particularly true for those who work as live-in carers.

     

    For those working in the field of at-home care there will still be a degree of unpredictability in your role - even if your hours are a little more ‘set’, so it’s important that before you consider becoming a carer that you decide whether this will fit in with your current lifestyle.

    Do You Have Good Communication Skills?

    Being a carer will require you to be able to engage with your clients and respond to their needs in order to provide them with the care they need - and for some clients that might mean adapting the way you communicate. 


    For example, if you are caring for someone who is hard of hearing you might need to elevate your voice and slow your speech. Or perhaps you’re caring for someone with dementia, who might need visual clues when you’re speaking to them - holding up a teacup when you are asking them if they want a brew for example!

    Are You A Good Listener?

    Older people often don’t feel that they are listened to, and that can leave them feeling neglected, isolated and frustrated.


    A good carer always pays attention to their clients - it’s not a case of getting in there, carrying out whatever task needs to be done, and then hurrying off. 


    As a carer, listening involves more than lending a friendly ear...a carer needs to be observant and look out for signs of depression, anxiety and illness. 


    There might not always be visible clues, but listening to what an older person says (or reading between the lines when it comes to what they don’t say!) could tell you a lot about their mental and emotional state.

    Are You Patient And Can You Keep A Cool Head?

    Being a carer can often be a thankless task and ageing can be a difficult, confusing, and sometimes painful process. Combine the two, and stressful situations can sometimes arise.


    You might be taking care of the needs of an older person who becomes easily frustrated because they’re struggling with mobility, their memory, or who are in pain. 

    Perhaps they are feeling lonely or frightened as they become more frail or as the world changes rapidly around them, and it’s only natural that they might take that anger or fear out on those around them - including those who are trying to care for them.


    If you’re someone who loses their patience quickly, or you don’t handle difficult or stressful situations in a calm manner, the caring profession might not be for you!


    Carers need to stay cool and collected, and to have empathy and compassion for their clients - whatever the circumstances! 

    Are You A Reliable Person?

    Reliability is key if you want to be a carer. You will be one of the most important people in your client’s life, providing stability and security, so being there when you are needed is imperative. 

    Are You A Sunny, Cheery Person - Come What May?

    We all have down days, but a huge part of being a carer is leaving your own bad mood at home and making your client’s day a little brighter. 


    Older people can suffer from depression and low moods - especially during the festive season, or if they have no family or friends around. 


    These moods can make older people uncooperative when it comes to eating and drinking, or lead to them not taking care of their personal hygiene. 


    Positivity creates a domino effect that can improve the physical and mental wellbeing of those around them - you could be that positive, sunny influence in the life of an older person!

     

    Caring is not a job - it is a vocation, fulfilling a need within you to help others. If this sounds like you, and you’ve just read a list of your own skills and characteristics, maybe you should consider if you'd like to be a carer! 

     

    Get in touch with us here at Care In Kent and find out more about one of the most fulfilling and life-changing things you can do!

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  • 03/09/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Paying For Care At Home

    The idea that our elderly loved ones can live out their twilight years in the home that they love, while having all of their needs taken care of, is a wonderful one. Care at home means no need to worry about them being in an unfamiliar environment, or spending days or even longer without having someone to talk to. Their personal care is looked after, their meals taken care of...and all by professionals who will become friends, and who have a passion for caring for others as they would take care of their own loved ones.


    When it comes to looking after our loved ones as they age, I think most people would agree that some variation of at home care would be the preferred option. 


    But what are your options when it comes to paying for these services?


    Care In Kent have put together this handy guide that will tell you all that you need to know about paying for at-home care - from local authority support, to self-funding.

    What Is At Home Care, And How Is It Paid For?


    At home care is everything I’ve already described and more. It is a way to support and help older people who may have difficulty with daily tasks (such as washing and dressing), to stay in their own homes and retain their independence for as long as possible.

    Care At Home, often known as domiciliary care, can be paid for in the following ways:

    • Local Authority Funding

    subject to a means test, the local council will fund either all or part of the care.

    • Self-Funding

    Either the person who needs care, or their family, pay for either all or part of the care.

    • NHS Funding

    In some circumstances the NHS will cover all or part of the care costs.

    Let’s take a more in-depth look at those options:

    Local Authority Funding


    In order to find out if you or your elderly loved one is eligible for support for care from the local authority, they will carry out a free needs assessment. If you’re seen to have ‘eligible needs’ there will then be a financial assessment which will determine how much you need to contribute towards the cost of at home care. 


    The financial assessment will take into account any savings or assets you have. If you have more than the threshold limit, you’ll have to pay for your own care.


    These limits as of 2021 and heading into 2022 are:

    • England

    £23,250

    • Wales

    £24,000

    • Scotland and Northern Ireland

    There is no means testing for personal care in Scotland in Northern Ireland. Personal care at home is free for those who have been assessed as eligible by their local authority. 

     

    If you qualify for funding for at home care, you’ll most likely be offered a personal budget, allocated by the council towards your care needs. It’s really important to find out which benefits you are entitled to, this will help you to make the best care arrangement choices for yourself or a loved one.

    Self-Funding

    There are several circumstances where you would be expected to fund your own care at home.

    • If your care needs aren’t found to be sufficient for local authority funding
    • If your income is high enough that you can cover your own care costs without taking you below the minimum income threshold
    • If your savings and assets are above the  threshold for care funding - this DOESN’T include the value of your home

    NHS Funding

    There are circumstances where the NHS will pay for your care at home costs - for example if an older person has complicated care needs due to a disability, injury or illness. This isn’t means tested, and is part of the NHS Continuing Healthcare scheme.

    If an elderly loved one has had a short stay in hospital they could be eligible for up to 6 weeks of free at home care. Click the link for NHS Intermediate Care to find out more.


    Why You Should Still Get An Assessment, Even If You Don’t Qualify For Financial Support

    Even if you know that combined savings, earnings and assets are going to mean that you or a loved one isn’t going to be eligible for local authority funding, it’s still very much worthwhile getting an assessment.

    • It will provide a formal recognition of your loved one’s needs
    • It’s important to have an assessment in case your needs change in the future
    • You’ll be able to more easily access information about the services available
    • Your local authority can still arrange care services for you - you’ll just have to pay for the full price of the care yourself).

    Self-Funding?

    If you do have to pay for at home care yourself, there are some ways that you can raise funds to help.

    • Using savings and investments
    • Using income from property, work, pensions
    • Have a proper look into what benefits you’re entitled to
    • If you own your own home you could release some equity and ‘unlock’ some of the cash from the value of your property
    • Selling your home and downsizing to smaller one could provide you with a lump sum to help pay for at home care
    • Financial help from family or friends
    • Raise extra money for your care by letting a room to a lodger

    Self-funding might not have to be a permanent solution. You’ll qualify for local authority funding once your assets drop below the specified threshold.

    Regardless of how you are able to pay for at home care, Care In Kent are always on hand to discuss a full range of services for caring for older adults, including respite care, help with personal care, running errands, or even just lending a friendly ear.

    If you think there is anything we can help you with then feel free to contact us, or check out our website.

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  • 03/09/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Dehydration And The Elderly

    Dehydration; when the body loses more fluids than it takes in, is an often overlooked health risk in older people. 


    We all know the importance of drinking enough water in order to help the body get rid of waste, to regulate our temperature, and to lubricate our joints. It also helps to keep us alert, prevents headaches, and helps to keep our skin and hair healthy. 


    The benefits are numerous. 


    Staying well-hydrated becomes even more important as we age. This is because older people are more at risk of complications if they don’t take in enough fluids.

    Complications such as:

    • Kidney problems
    • Loss of balance
    • Electrolyte imbalance
    • Constipation


    But why are older people more susceptible to becoming dehydrated? What are the symptoms? And how can we prevent our elderly loved ones from suffering the effects of dehydration?


    First let’s take a look at some of the risk factors. 


    The amount of fluid in our bodies naturally decreases as we age. Couple this with a weaker thirst response, meaning that older adults may not be aware when they need to rehydrate, and you have a recipe for disaster.


    More water is lost through urination as we get older, as our kidney function begins to decline. Underlying health conditions, along with certain medications can also lead to an increase in water loss through urination...but of course this isn’t the only cause for dehydration in the elderly.

    • Heat exposure - time spent in hot or humid conditions leads to increased sweating, which equals fluid loss. Something to think about with this spell of hot weather we’ve had!
    • Illness - Fever, vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration.
    • Medications - A side effect of some medications, such as diuretics and blood pressure medications, is increased urination.
    • Mobility Problems - Older people who have mobility problems might find it difficult to access water on their own.
    • Underlying Health Conditions - Medical conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease can mean you lose more fluid than normal.

    So, if you are caring for an elderly loved one, what are the symptoms to look out for when it comes to dehydration?

    Symptoms Of Dehydration

    Common symptoms to look out for in someone who is dehydrated include:

    • A dry mouth
    • A decrease in urination
    • Muscle cramps
    • Sunken eyes
    • Tiredness or fatigue
    • Feelings of dizziness or light-headedness

    More serious signs of dehydration that would require immediate medical attention include:

    • Trouble moving or walking
    • A rapid heart rate
    • Fainting 
    • Diarrhea or vomiting lasting more than 24 hours
    • Confusion or disorientation

    If an elderly loved one is experiencing one or more of these symptoms it’s of the utmost importance that you seek medical attention for them right away. Don’t wait. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

    Untreated dehydration can be very serious and can lead to potentially life-threatening complications such as:

    • Kidney problems such as kidney stones or even kidney failure
    • Urinary tract infections
    • Seizures caused by low levels of sodium and potassium
    • Heat exhaustion or heat stroke
    • Hypovolemic shock - a life-threatening complication that causes a drop in blood pressure and oxygen levels due to low blood volume

    Treatment For Someone With Dehydration


    If someone is dehydrated it’s important to replace those lost fluids by getting them to drink water or other fluids such as fruit juices. 


    If your elderly loved one is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, they could be losing electrolytes as well as water. In this case it can be helpful for them to drink something containing electrolytes - such as a sports drink, or Dioralyte, which is often given to younger children who are suffering dehydration and lost electrolytes due to illness. 


    Severe dehydration could result in hospitalisation where fluids and electrolytes can be given intravenously. 


    It can be hard at times to make sure that we’re drinking enough - let alone someone older who we are caring for! But with the health complications for older people being so much more serious, these tips could be invaluable in keeping someone you love hydrated and healthy:

    Tips To Prevent Dehydration

    • Drink plenty of fluids 

    it sounds obvious, but encourage your elderly loved ones to drink water throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be boring old tap water either; sparkling water, milk and fruit juices are all beverages that will help someone to stay hydrated. Advise older people to drink tea and coffee sparingly as both can have a diuretic effect, leading to more water loss.

    • Small Sips

    There’s no need to start knocking back huge glasses or water or taking huge gulps...if an elderly person finds it hard to drink too much liquid at once, just encourage small, regular sips.

    • Eat High Water-Content Foods

    Encourage your elderly loved one to include high water-content foods into their diet. Some examples are watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, celery and low-salt soups.

    • Add Flavour!

    Add slices or a squeeze of lemon or lime to water to make it more appealing.

    • Plan Ahead

    Make sure that older people have water on hand if they’re going to be exercising or spending a prolonged time in hot or humid weather.

    • Drink More If You’re Ill

    It’s important to drink more than normal if you have symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

    • Ask A GP

    If an elderly loved one has an underlying health condition, speak to a GP about any specific hydration needs.

    • Make Water Accessible

    Make sure that an older loved one can easily access water whether there is someone there to assist them or not.

    • Make Sure The Bathroom Is Easily Accessible

     An older person might be concerned about making it to the toilet in time if they are drinking more fluids. Make sure that the toilet is easy for them to get to and use.

    Making sure that an elderly person in your care has ready access to fluids and drinking regularly are key to preventing dehydration. Being aware of any health issues and medications is also a good idea. 


    If you’re caring for an older person and you feel you need some at-home help - perhaps someone to pop in and make them a drink during the day while you are working, help with taking medications, or even with the weekly shop - our dedicated and professional carers at Care In Kent could help. Give us a call and speak to a member of our team today.

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  • 03/09/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Activities For People Living With Dementia

    For people living with dementia, everyday activities can become daunting and challenging. However, it’s still important that they are able to engage in things that help them to feel fulfilled, stimulated, and successful - just like everybody else!


    Taking part in activities that they find satisfying can help dementia patients to feel less agitated and anxious and help alleviate feelings of anger or depression. There’s even research to suggest that it can help with symptoms like wandering, and can even reduce the need for certain medications. 


    For older people who are  living with dementia, failure-free activities can help them to feel productive as well give them a sense of achievement. In turn this can improve their mood, physical health, and general wellbeing.


    So, what exactly is a ‘failure-free’ activity?


    These are activities that have no right or wrong way to do them. Because everyone is different, it might be a case of experimenting with different ideas and getting creative in order to find an activity that appeals to the individual. 


    (IMPORTANT: Depending on the stage of dementia, it’s important that you avoid any activity that might involve sharp objects, or things that might break if bitten or that could be swallowed if the person in your care is likely to put them in their mouth.)


    Care In Kent have put together a short list of failure-free activity ideas that could give a loved-one with dementia a sense of achievement, and help them to feel successful and valued.

    Folding Laundry


    For an older person living with dementia, a simple activity like being asked to help fold towels or other laundry can be a fantastic way to occupy their time, and gives them a stress-free activity that helps them to feel that they are contributing to the household. 


    Hand towels are small and easy to fold, so would be a good start for someone who has dementia. The aim is not to have perfectly folded towels - the aim is that your loved-one feels good about themselves and that they have achieved something.

    Untying Knots


    So long as your loved one isn’t suffering from poor mobility or pain in their hands and fingers, tying some loose knots in a length of medium-thickness rope, and asking them to help you to untie them can be a good activity that makes them feel useful and valued. 


    It’s also something you could sit and do together while engaging in conversation, and can be a good way to keep stress and anxiety levels down.

    Personalised Puzzles

    Printing out and laminating a family photograph, or a picture of a scene that your loved one might recognise, and then cutting it into four or more pieces to create a personalised jigsaw can be a stimulating activity for someone who is living with dementia that offers a sense of achievement.

    Puzzle Cubes


    Another failure-free activity that an older person with dementia might enjoy is a puzzle cube. A simplified version of a Rubix cube, and easy to hold and turn, these brightly-coloured puzzles can be a good activity for older adults who like to fidget with objects. 


    Turning the cube to create different colour combinations can be enjoyable and soothing for an older person who is anxious or upset. Other ‘fidget’ toys on the market, such as sheets of latex ‘bubbles’ you can pop over and over again, or gadgets that spin or roll might also be  helpful.  

    Playing Cards

    Card games are ever popular, and someone who is in the earlier stages of dementia might enjoy games such as solitaire or blackjack. A loved one in the later stages of the illness might find it enjoyable to shuffle them or separate them by colour or suit.

    If a standard deck of playing cards is challenging for someone who has limited mobility in their hands, or who has poor eyesight, there are large-print playing cards available.

    At Care In Kent we specialise in caring for those who are living with dementia. If you need advice on caring for an elderly loved one, or you need some support, give a member of our dedicated team a call.

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  • 03/09/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    6 Reasons You Should Consider A Career In Social Care

    It’s no wonder that a lot of people have a negative opinion of a career in social care sector - has any other industry ever been so unfairly portrayed in the press!? Negative stories about poor care, long hours and bad pay seem to dominate every headline - even our own government has labelled those of us working in social care as ‘unskilled’. 


    The truth is, the homecare industry is chock-full of genuinely caring people who are dedicated to making a positive difference to the lives of our most vulnerable members of society. People who go above and beyond to make people feel safe, respected, well-cared for and happy - where are those stories! 


    Sure, the hours can be long, the work is hard, and there are moments that can take a physical and emotional toll - but the rewards are huge, and with an ever-ageing population, the care sector is one of the best industries in which to build a fulfilling and long-lasting career. 


    The positive reasons to have a career in social care are many and varied - but here are 6 of the best!

    1. You’ll Be Making A Difference To Someone’s Life

    One of the most special things about working in social care is the way that even the smallest thing can make the biggest difference to someone who struggles with day-to-day life because of poor health or old age. 


    Whether it’s helping with personal care, domestic duties, shopping and cooking, or simply having a friendly chat over a cuppa, the feeling of knowing that you are improving someone’s quality of life makes every day in your role as a carer worthwhile.

    2. Learning New Skills And Building Confidence

    A career in social care is an amazing educational opportunity. As well as having the opportunity to gain formal qualifications, there’s also huge scope to learn on the job with social care that you won’t experience with most other careers. 


    This is because no two days working in social care are the same! You’ll learn to deal with different situations every day - which is why carers are such an adaptable and resourceful bunch! 


    This wide range of experiences will provide you with transferable life skills that you can use to benefit your own family and even your wider community.

    3. The Hours Are Flexible

    A 9-5 job doesn’t fit into everyone’s lifestyle - and a career in social care is perfect if you need to work hours that fit in with your own personal schedule or to fit in around personal or family commitments. 


    People don’t just need care during standard office hours! This means that there are jobs in social care that are available around the clock; live-in care opportunities for those who want to work for days at a time, daily visits during the morning, afternoon or evening, or overnight care. 

    4. Every Day Is Different

    With most jobs, you pretty much know what to expect each day - and that can definitely become boring! That certainly isn’t the case with social care. You’ll be looking after different individuals all with different circumstances, medical conditions, and with a wide range of ever-changing needs.


    Everyone you care for and every encounter you face will be unique, which keeps the job fresh and exciting! If your philosophy is that ‘variety is the spice of life’, then a career in social care could be just what you’re looking for!


     5. You’ll Be A Valued Team Member

    Being a member of a care team means gaining a whole other family! No one works alone in social care - you’ll be a part of a team who all share your values and goals and will provide you with a valuable support network.  


    And it doesn’t end there… You’ll also be a part of a wider network that includes health professionals, doctors and social workers, as well as your client’s circle of family and friends - all of whom will work with you in the best interests of the person you are caring for.


    6. It’s Fun!

    The press and the media certainly doesn’t portray it that way but, trust me, a career in social care can be a lot of fun!


    What other job will involve you working with such a varied group of individuals - all with different personalities and with different life experiences?


    Exactly! 


    You’ll get to hear new life perspectives and stories from people with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom, and it’s inspiring to see the human capacity for finding the positive and the humour in every situation.


    You’ll be working alongside like-minded people who will become cherished friends - all as dedicated to the welfare of others as you are. You’ll be able to bounce ideas off each other, ask one another advice, share your experiences, support each other, hug, laugh, and cry together.


    You won’t find a career more life-affirming than one in social care, that’s for sure!

     

    If you want to find out more about a rewarding career in the care industry, give us a call at Care In Kent. We’d love to help.

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  • 03/09/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    “Nan’s Wandered Off Again!” Tips To Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones

    For those who are caring for an elderly loved one who is living with cognitive issues, the fear that they might wander can weigh heavy. What if they get lost, or involved in an accident? What if they become confused about their surroundings and become scared or upset? 


    Wandering is a risk that is associated with conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, and for those who have had a stroke, suffered a head injury, are living with Parkinson’s disease, or are on the autism spectrum.


    That’s not to say, of course, that all older adults living with such conditions will wander, or that those who aren’t, won’t. 


    But, either way, there are some signs you can look out for that can be indicative of someone who might be more at risk of wandering.

     

    Signs such as:

     

    Returning from regular walks or drives later than usual

    Talking about wanting to ‘go home’, even when they are home
     

    Talking about doing things or going places that they haven’t done for many years - such as going to work or to visit a parent, for example.

    Forgetting how to get to places they are used to visiting regularly

    Becoming restless or pacing

    Asking after past family members or friends

    Seeming to be lost in a new environment

    Becoming nervous or anxious in crowded places


    Of course, again, this is not an exhaustive list, and even if we know some of the signs to look out for, carers are only human. It’s impossible to watch another person every second of the day - particularly if we are also trying to work, look after children, or care for other family members as well. 


    In fact, even the most dedicated carer isn’t going to be able to stop an older person who has a tendency to wander from doing so every single time. 


    Luckily, there are some tips you can follow that will help you to keep your loved one safe, and make you a lot less anxious. 

    Tips To Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones

    Securing The Home


    You can increase safety at home and prevent your loved one from wandering by making sure that door and window locks are high up. This makes them less noticeable and more difficult to reach. You might also want to use motion detectors that can alert you if someone opens a door or window, or maybe even use a simple bell. 


    Other ways you can reduce the risk of an elderly loved one wandering from the safety of their home include:


    Covering door knobs in a material that is the same colour as the door so that they don’t stand out.

    Camouflage doors by making them the same colour as the walls

    Using black tape or paint in front of the door may act as a visual barrier

    Use hedges, fencing and locked gates to secure outside areas

    Make sure that there both indoor and outdoor areas that are secure and safe to be explored

    Put away items that might be a trigger to someone who wanders. This can include coats, hats, wallets and keys


    Make Sure Your Loved One Always Carries ID

     

    This isn’t something that’s going to prevent wandering, but is a way to ensure that an older person who has ended up away from their carer or safe place can be identified as quickly as possible. 


    Making sure they have their ID in their wallet isn’t enough. They could accidentally or purposely remove it, wander without their wallet, or lose it altogether. Medical ID jewellery, such as a bracelet or pendant can be a good idea...or possibly sewing their identification into an item of clothing - although of course this is only useful if they wander off wearing it!


    In this day and age of modern technology, there’s even the option to microchip your loved one and use GPS trackers! And, particularly in the US, temporary tattoo kits are sometimes used.   


    If all this talk of ID tags and sewing names into clothing is making you feel uncomfortable - I don’t blame you. These are our elders who raised us and looked after us, and now we’re treating them like a pet or a small child starting school! But the truth is that as we age, and especially when we become very frail or have cognitive health issues, we become just as vulnerable as the very young. 


    And so, in order to prevent someone we love who is older from becoming lost or hurt, it might be necessary to take such measures.


    There are some other things you can do to protect them too….

     

    Think About Their Clothing

     

    If it’s appropriate and your loved one doesn’t object, ask them to dress in brighter colours that can be easier to spot from a distance. This can be a good idea for an older person who might wander in a crowded place. 

     

    Know Your Neighbours


    It’s a good idea to introduce your elderly loved one to the neighbours if they are likely to wander. Make sure they get to know their face, let them know that they might wander, and give them your contact details. That way, if one of them sees your relative out alone they can let you know. 


    Some people aren’t inclined to get involved, so make it clear that you’re not expecting them to intervene or be accountable for anything, just to simply make a phone call and say, ‘I’ve just seen your dad/nan/mum walking up the road’. 


    This could be invaluable when it comes to finding your loved one and getting them home and safe as quickly as possible. 

     

    Get Some Exercise


    This tip isn’t proven, and might not work for everybody - (or even be possible, depending on your loved one’s level of mobility) - but there are some experts that believe that getting enough exercise during the day could prevent wandering at night. 


    I’m not talking about running marathons here; just a simple before or after dinner walk. It’s a healthy habit to get into regardless, so definitely worth a try!

     

    The Importance Of Good Quality Sleep


    The act of wandering has been linked to sleeplessness, so it’s important that you encourage your loved one to get as much good quality sleep as possible. 


    Try and have them nap less during the day and cut out caffeinated drinks. The more regular they are able to keep their sleeping and waking hours, the better. 

     

     

    Caring for someone who is living with a condition that might make them wander can be a frightening and daunting time. At Care In Kent we understand, and we want to offer our support. This is why we offer a range of at-home care services for the elderly and vulnerable, including respite care, help around the home, and help with personal care. 


    Please get in touch with a member of our dedicated team to find out more. 

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  • dementia
    17/08/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Communicating With Those Who Live With Dementia

    Where would be without the art of communication? It’s vital to our very existence - no matter who we are, how young or old we are, or how we live our daily lives. It’s how we express ourselves and how we relate to those around us - but it’s more than just talking and listening….it’s reading body language, communicating through touch and facial expressions...understanding and interpreting.

    We communicate with everyone around us in some form or another; from the tiniest baby who has a lifetime of experiences ahead, to the oldest and most wise members of our community who have seen and done it all.

    We often change how we communicate depending on someone’s age, and we’ve developed ways to communicate with those who can’t hear, or who have learning disabilities, or those who perhaps aren’t able to pick up on the more subtle signals of facial expressions and tone of voice… In other words, as a society we tailor the way we communicate with someone based on their specific needs.

    Clever stuff!

    But what about those who are living with dementia?

    How does the disease affect the way they communicate?

    And how can we communicate with them more effectively?


    The Effects Of Dementia On Communication

     

    Dementia is a progressive condition that over time will affect how someone expresses themselves and how they understand others.

    It can be hard for someone who lives with dementia to maintain relationships over time - even family members or friends they’ve known for many years - as it becomes harder to communicate effectively with them, especially if their speech becomes affected.

    Common changes that can occur in someone who has dementia include:

    Talking less than usual
    Having difficulty finding the right words
    Forgetting certain words
    Creating new words to replace forgotten words
    Swearing or using offensive language
    Repeating a word or phrase

    People who live with the condition will have ‘good’ days and ‘bad’ days where communication will be easier or more difficult for them.

    There are many factors that this depends on; the stage of dementia, stress levels, how well rested they are, and other medical conditions.

    So, if someone in your life has dementia how can you learn to understand each other better?

    Learn

    Learning as much as you can about the disease, how it progresses and how it affects individuals can be invaluable when it comes to maintaining a relationship and communicating with someone who has dementia.

    The key to keeping relationships positive is for communication to be ongoing, respectful and sensitive. As your loved one’s abilities change you’ll need to pay more attention to non-verbal clues such as body languages just as much as you do to verbal clues.

    Believe

    It’s important to believe that communication is possible at ALL stages of dementia.

    Every movement, word, sound, or behaviour has meaning, so never lose sight of the person - they are constantly communicating with you even if it’s without words.

    Focus

    Instead of getting frustrated at what your loved one can no longer do, focus more on their abilities and skills.

    This becomes all the more important if they are no longer able to communicate with you verbally. If their speech has become hard to understand you can use your knowledge of that person to help you interpret what they are trying to say.

    You could try communicating with them through the music that they love, activities they enjoy or through art.

    Stay Positive

    Staying upbeat is easier said than done if you are caring for someone with dementia; particularly in the later stages of the illness.

    It can be incredibly hard watching someone you love become someone else right before your very eyes, but positive things like laughter and humour can help get you both through the most difficult times.

    Create a sense of comfort and reassurance for your loved one by using things that are familiar to them - their belongings, familiar surroundings, pictures of people and places from their past etc. This might help you to open up a dialogue and encourage them to communicate more.

    Acceptance

    As hard as it will be, as your loved one’s perception of reality changes, you will have to accept that new reality and try not to react negatively. Avoid contradicting them or telling them that what they believe isn’t true.

    Tips For Communicating With Someone Who Lives With Dementia

    The main thing to remember here is - ‘Connect, don’t Correct’!

    There are going to be times when someone who is living with dementia becomes confused and may use the wrong words or not remember things correctly. It’s important to learn effective ways to communicate with your loved one rather than becoming frustrated and jumping in to correct what they’re saying or hurrying them along.


    It takes practice and patience to communicate with someone who has dementia - it’s not a skill you will learn overnight. 

    Care In Kent has put together a list of tips that can help you master communicating with someone who is living with any stage of dementia.

    Before speaking to someone with dementia

    It might help to introduce yourself and remind them who you are - especially if they are having difficulty recognising family and friends
    Make eye contact
    Use the person’s name when addressing them
    If the person uses a hearing aid, make sure it is working
    Reduce distractions (turn the TV/radio down)

    How to speak to someone with dementia

    Speak clearly and slowly
    Use short, simple sentences
    Be close enough so that they can see your facial expressions and hand gestures clearly
    Use closed-ended questions that require a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer
    Show respect and patience - don’t use childish or demeaning language
    Don’t talk about the person as if they’re not there
    Include them in conversations with others

    How to listen to someone with dementia

    Listen carefully to what they are saying
    Notice verbal and non-verbal communications
    Be patient and try not to interrupt - even if you think you know what they’re trying to say to you
    If they are struggling to find the right word, you can offer a guess IF they appear they want help
    Make the conversation a two-way process; engage the person and involve them
    Don’t make assumptions! If you don’t understand what is said, check with them to see if you have understood what they mean

    Ways to communicate with someone who is living with dementia

    Humor can be a great stress-reliever that can bring you closer together. Laughing over mistakes and misunderstandings together can be almost therapeutic and will relieve any tension that surrounds the situation.

    Encourage your loved one to express their feelings - especially if they seem down. Provide reassurance that you are there to listen and understand.

    Use actions as well as words! You can use objects to illustrate what you mean - for example holding up a coffee up while asking if they’d like a cuppa, or giving their jacket when it’s time to go out.

    Use body movements such as pointing or demonstrating an action to help someone with dementia to understand what you’re saying.


    At Care In Kent, we specialize in all aspects of caring for those who live with dementia. If you need extra support in caring for a loved one who is living with the condition, please give a member of our dedicated team a call.

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  • 13/07/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Sleeping As We Age: Top Tips For A Good Night's Sleep

    It’s normal to experience changes to our sleeping patterns as we age. Becoming tired earlier in the day, waking earlier, and sleeping less deeply, are all common phenomena when we get older. However, sleep is important to our physical and emotional health - whatever our age, and what isn’t normal are symptoms of insomnia and other sleep disorders, such as waking up tired every day and experiencing disturbed sleep.

     


    A good night’s sleep is important for repairing cell damage that occurs during the day, and for refreshing the immune system, preventing disease, and improving concentration and memory. Seniors who have trouble sleeping can suffer from depression and can suffer from the increased risk of falls, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and weight problems. It has also been linked to breast cancer in women.

     


    Care In Kent has put together some information and tips for older adults to identify age-related sleep problems and suggests some ways to overcome them.

     

     

     

    Understand How Our Sleep Patterns Change As We Age

     

     

     

    When we get older our bodies produce less growth hormone, resulting in shorter periods of deep sleep and a decrease in the body’s production of melatonin. This is why older people are more likely to be light sleepers and experience more fragmented sleep than younger people.

     


    Older people may also:

     


    - Nap during the day to make up for shorter periods of sleep at night

     

    - Fall asleep earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning

     

     


    None of this indicates a sleep problem. These changes are perfectly normal for older adults.

     


    Changes that aren’t normal, and may indicate a sleep disorder such as insomnia include:

     


    - Trouble falling asleep even when you’re tired
    - Trouble getting back to sleep after being woken up
    - Feelings of sleepiness or irritability during the day
    - A reliance on pills or alcohol to fall asleep
    - Trouble controlling your emotions
    - Difficulty staying awake when watching TV, sitting still, or driving
    - Not feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep

     

    If you or an elderly loved one are experiencing one or more of these symptoms on a regular basis, it’s important to speak to a GP in order to avoid longer-term health problems.

     

     

     

    Identify WHY You’re Not Getting Good Quality Sleep

     

     

     

    Most cases of insomnia and other sleep disorders are caused by very treatable causes, and it’s important to figure out exactly why you’re having trouble sleeping so that you can be given the right course of treatment.

     


    Ask yourself?

     


    - Are you under stress?
    - Have you recently experienced a traumatic event? (such as the death of a spouse or the diagnosis of a serious health condition)
    - Are you currently taking any medication that could be affecting your sleep pattern?
    - Are you suffering from depression or feelings of hopelessness?
    - Do you have a health problem that is affecting your sleep?

     

    If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you might have hit the nail on the head of why you’re not getting good quality sleep.

     

     

     

    Common Causes Of Sleep Problems In Older Adults

     

     

     

    Bad Habits! - Such as irregular bedtime hours, falling asleep with the TV on, or after alcohol.

     


    Poor Sleep Environment - Go to bed in a comfortable, quiet, dark room. This will be much more conducive to a good night’s sleep than somewhere bright with a lot of background noise such as a TV or radio.

     


    Medical Conditions - There are many conditions that some older people live with that can affect sleep patterns. These include the frequent need to urinate, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, or heartburn.

     


    Medications - It’s much more likely that an older person will be taking regular medications than a younger person, and some of those could interfere with your sleep. If you’re concerned that one of the side effects of prescribed medication is affecting the quality of sleep, speak to a GP to see if some changes can be made. Never stop taking prescribed medication or change the dosage without speaking to a doctor first.

     


    Stress - Big life changes such as retirement, moving home or the death of a loved one can be incredibly stressful, and can have a huge impact on your sleep pattern

     


    Not Enough Exercise - Not getting enough exercise can result in you either never feeling sleepy, or feeling sleepy all the time. Taking regular, light, aerobic exercise can improve mood and promote good sleep 

     


    Not Getting Enough Sunlight - Older people produce less melatonin, but bright sunlight will regulate the levels in your body which will help your sleep/wake cycle. Keep blinds and curtains open during the day, or use a light therapy box, and aim for at least 2 hours of sunlight a day.

     

     

     

     


    How To Encourage Better Sleep

     

     

     

    There are some things you can do to encourage a better night’s sleep, and more often than not these are just simple lifestyle changes.

     


    For example:

     


    Turn off the TV/laptop/iPhone at least an hour before bed
    If you like to read before sleep, stick to a book rather than a tablet or other electronic device
    Keep your bedroom quiet and cool. We become more sensitive to noise, light and temperature as we age, so keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, and use earplugs and an eye mask if necessary.
    If you have a clock in your bedroom, make sure it’s somewhere you can’t see it the instant you open your eyes. Apart from the fact that the light from it could disrupt your sleep, anxiously watching the minutes tick by isn’t going to be good for your insomnia.

     

     


    You can try reducing mental stress by keeping a journal to record your worries, or by chatting to a partner, friend, family member - or maybe even a professional - if you feel that your mental state is a contributing factor to your disturbed sleep. Listening to calming music, reading something relaxing, and having something warm to drink (nothing with caffeine or alcohol!) can also help.

     


    If you do wake up in the night, the worst thing you can do is focus on the fact that you’re awake - it will only encourage your body to stay awake! Focus instead on relaxation rather than sleep - make that the goal. Try a relaxation technique like breathing exercises or meditation while you lie in bed. Relaxation isn’t a replacement for sleep, of course, but it can help rejuvenate the body, and is a better option than heading downstairs for a coffee and to sit in front of the TV.

     


    If you really can’t relax and you MUST get out of bed - avoid screens if you can. Instead, sit somewhere quietly and perhaps read a book or listen to some soothing music.

     

     

     

     


    Napping Tips!

     


    It’s not uncommon for older people to wake early and then take a nap during the day, and if you’re not getting a lot of good quality sleep at night, and a nap provides you with the energy to get through the rest of the day then go for it!

     


    There are some tips for making the most of your nap:

     

     

     

    Do It Early - Nap early in the afternoon, rather than late afternoon/early evening, so as not to disrupt your regular bedtime routine.

     

    Do It Somewhere Comfortable - Ideally, for a good-quality nap, do it somewhere comfortable, with limited lights and noise.

     

    Keep It Short! - You’ll benefit most from a nap around 15-45 minutes long - any longer than that and you risk waking up feeling groggy and not able to concentrate. Shorter is always better. In fact, research shows that even 5 minutes shut-eye can improve alertness and memory.

     

     


    If stress is a big factor in the life of an elderly loved one, and it’s affecting their sleep, Care In Kent can help. We provide a wide range of at-home care services, from helping with personal care, to running errands, light housework and respite care. If you feel that we could take some of the worry away, please get in touch with our dedicated team.

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  • 02/07/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    5 Things To Consider Before Your ELderly Parents Move In

    As your parents get older, it’s only natural that you’re going to start thinking about where they might live if they become too frail, or perhaps ill, to look after themselves.

     


    Options include:

     


    Residential care - which can be a good option if your parents need round-the-clock care; if they are living with more advanced stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, for example - but it can be expensive.

     

    Staying in their own home with the support of yourself, other family members and at-home care services.

     

    Or moving into your home with you and your family.

     

     


    This last option is what normally first comes to mind for most people. After all, these are the people who have raised you, loved and cared for you - and now it’s time to give something back….

     

     

     

    “Mum/Dad will just come and live with us.”

     

     

     

    However, it’s not like bringing home a new baby - there are no celebrations, bucket-loads of advice from those who have already experienced it, or casseroles left on the doorstep when you bring home an elderly parent!

     


    Now is not the time to let your heart overrule your head. Having your elderly parents move into your home is only a practical option if they don’t need specialist care.

     


    There are also some other things to consider before you set up the spare room.

     


    Such as:

     

     

     

    1.Talk Things Through With Your Parents First

     

     

     

    Your elderly parents moving in with you is a decision that has to be made together - both with your parents, and with any one else who lives in the home. It’s important to consider not just the impact it will have on you and your elderly parents, but on your children and partner.

     


    You’ll need to talk through every ‘what if’ scenario - having a firm plan in place that everyone is aware of will lessen the trauma and stress should the worst happen in any given situation.

     


    Don’t forget, you probably haven’t lived with your parents for 20, 30 plus years, and now there’s potentially children, a spouse, a career, and a mortgage thrown into the mix. It’s not going to be all fun and games!

     


    It’s likely that your parents will be set in their ways with their routine - as will you be to an extent. How will that all marry together?

     


    How will it work if you and your family all eat together at the table for dinner at 7.30pm, but your parents are used to eating in front of their favourite TV show at 5pm?

     


    Your parents like to be in bed by 9pm, but your teenagers are quite used to coming and going until gone 11pm.

     


    Sunday mornings are for lay-ins in your house….but your elderly parents like to be up by 6am, possibly with the radio on or pottering about the garden.

     


    Even if these are all things that you feel could be compromised on, how long will it be before someone in the household becomes frustrated at the changes, and it starts to cause stress or arguments?

     


    We all want a harmonious household, but the truth is, the more people there are in one space, the more likely it is that discord will occur.

     

     

     

    2.Assess The Environment

     

     

     

    Assessing the safety of your home before your elderly parents move in isn’t dissimilar to the process you have to go through when you childproof your home.

     


    There are likely things in your home that you deal with every day without even thinking about, which could pose a potential hazard to someone who is older, frailer and less mobile than you.

     


    Some important things to consider are:

     

     

     

    Stairs - How are your parents going to be able to manage the stairs? Perhaps they’re perfectly capable of getting up and down the majority of the time, but what about at night? Is there a light switch easily accessible from the landing? Do you have a cat that’s prone to taking naps halfway up the steps? Do the stairs often become a dumping ground for the kid’s toys, books, shoes, piles of clean laundry..

     


    If the stairs are going to be an issue, is there room on the ground floor for them to have their own bedroom? Are there downstairs facilities for them to be able to wash or use the toilet?

     


    If the ground floor is a no-no, do you need to think about a stairlift, a properly secured handrail, or carpeting the stairs?

     

     

     

    Access To The Essentials - Your parents are going to need access to a bathroom and toilet, a kitchen area, an area to sit and relax, and a bedroom.

     

     

     

    Disability Issues - Do you need to think about wheelchair access? Are your parents hard of hearing or have problems with their eyesight? Do you need to think about safety rails and non-slip mats in the shower and bath? Do you need to have the toilet raised? 

     

     

     

    3. Think About Your Finances

     

     

     

    Any changes you have to make to your home could end up costing a pretty penny - especially if you need to make changes relating to safety because of your parents living with a disability.

     


    There’s also the extra costs of food, utilities (if your elderly parents are home all day while you’re out at work, it’s likely your electricity and water bills will increase), and then, of course, there’s the costs you’ll incur if you have to have in-home care for them. Perhaps you’ll need someone to come and prepare a meal for them when you have to work late, maybe they need help with medications that have to be taken when you’re not there, or it could be that they need assistance with bathing or dressing.

     


    If you decide to work less hours, or stop working altogether in order to take care of them, you’re still going to be out of pocket, and so you might have to consider other resources.

     

     

     

    Your parents pension or savings
    A payout from health insurance
    Life insurance payout from a deceased spouse
    Proceeds from the sale of their house
    Your own savings

     

     

     

     

    4.Having A Future Plan In Place

     

     

     

    If your parents are currently in good physical and cognitive health, they might need very little help. However, as they get older, they could end up needing more care.

     


    It’s best to plan for this in advance.

     


    Will you quit your job once they need more care?

     

    Will you have a qualified carer come in and take care of them while you continue to work?

     

    Will another family member step in?

     

    Will you consider residential care?

     

     


    Discussing these options with your parents before the time comes to make changes is wise. It will prevent any arguments or upset in the future if everyone is on the same page beforehand.

     

     

     

    5.Consider If It Really Is The Best Option

     

     

     

    It’s very easy to rush in with a decision in situations like this.

     


    “Of course Dad will come to live with us! It’s not even a question!”

     


    “I’m not sticking Mum in a home!”

     


    But, before you get caught up in emotion - take a step back and think about whether having your elderly parents move in with you is the best option for everyone - including them.

     


    It’s not a decision that should be made out of guilt or a feeling of obligation...that will only breed resentment and can ruin relationships in the long run.

     


    Care options for your elderly loved ones are varied, and not grey, cold and unwelcoming. Today, residential homes can be vibrant, warm places, where those who need round-the-clock care can feel safe and at home.

     


    For those who want to stay in their own home, at-home care providers, such as Care In Kent, provide a range of services from running errands to helping with personal care.

     


    If, after considering all of the options and discussing it with those you love, that having your elderly parents move in with you is the best cause of action, don’t forget that Care In Kent can be on hand to help - however much or little you need us.

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  • 29/06/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Heat Stress And The Elderly: Keeping Our Loved Ones Cool This Summer

    The recent hot spell has been a welcome change for most of us after weeks of rain and dull weather, and for the elderly, feeling the sun on their skin and being able to enjoy some time outside has surely been wonderful!

    However, it is important (for all of us), but for older people especially, to be prepared for the hotter weather, as high temperatures can be dangerous to their health.

     

    Those aged 65 and over are most at risk of heat-related illnesses, and so Care In Kent has put together this short guide explaining how heat stress can affect the health of our elderly loved ones, the symptoms to look out for, and the steps we can take towards keeping older people safe and healthy this summer.

     

    What Is Heat Stress?

     

    Heat stress, also known as hyperthermia, is a condition that occurs when the body is unable to maintain a healthy temperature, and instead overheats. Normally the body cools itself in high temperatures by sweating - but, when sweating isn’t enough to regulate body temperature, and it keeps rising - and this is known as heat stress.

    The symptoms of heat stress can range from mild, such as rashes and cramps, to more serious conditions such as heat stroke, which can be potentially life-threatening.

     

     

     

     


    What Are The Symptoms Of Heat Stress?

     

     

     

    The symptoms of heat stress can vary from person to person, but can include:

     


    Muscle cramps
    Rapid heartbeat
    Pale skin
    Fainting
    Confusion
    Disorientation
    Delirium
    Paleness
    nausea/vomiting

     

     


    The Risk Factors Of Heat Stress

     

     

     

    There are some factors that can increase the likelihood of an older person suffering from heat stress, such as:

     


    Living Alone - For elderly people who live alone, there is a greater risk that symptoms of heat stress will go unnoticed or ignored.

     

    Self-Care Issues - Those who are frail, or who have mobility issues or mental illness might find it more difficult to take care of themselves in hot weather.

     

    Chronic Medical Conditions - Conditions such as heart disease, circulation problems and obesity can make someone particularly vulnerable to heat stress.
     

    Physical Changes - An ageing body doesn’t cope as well or as quickly with sudden stress as a younger one. Older skin doesn’t produce sweat as efficiently as younger skin, meaning that it’s much easier for an older person to overheat.
     

    Medications - An elderly person is much more likely to take medications on a regular basis, and there are some medications that can affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature….

     

     

     

     

    How Medications Can Be Affected In Hot Weather

     

     

     

    It’s important to know how the medications that our elderly loved ones are taking might be affected by the warmer weather.

     


    If you or your relative are unsure of the side effects of certain medications, a call to the GP is in order, as a lot of common medications can increase the risk of heart stress.

     


    Just how these risks are increased depends on the medication, but some common examples are:

     


    Antidepressants, antihistamines, phenothiazines and anticholinergics can affect the area of the brain that controls the skin’s ability to produce sweat.

     

    Beta blockers can reduce the heart and lung’s ability to adapt to the stresses of hot weather

     

    Amphetamines raise the body’s temperature

     

    Diuretics encourage fluid loss and can cause dehydration
     

    Opioids and sedatives can reduce the awareness of physical discomfort, making it easy to ignore the symptoms of heat stress.

     

     

     

     

    How To Avoid Heat Stress

     

     

     

    There are some simple ways to avoid heat stress that no doubt you’re already aware of:

     

     

     

    Avoiding strenuous activity
    Staying indoors
    Drink water regularly
    Wear cool, lightweight clothing

     

     


    …...and if you are caring for an elderly loved one you’ll probably already know the importance of these. However there are some other measures that you can take that can prevent the risk of heat stress even further.

     

     

     

    Keep an eye on the weather report - We’re not often blessed with very high temperatures in this country, but the highest risk of heat stress is when the temperature approaches 30 degrees or more, so take special note of those rare days when the predictions are for 25 degrees plus. It’s also important to note the humidity levels as sweating isn’t as effective at keeping you cooler when it’s very humid.

     

    Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake - It’s an idea to make sure that your elderly loved one limits the amount of tea, coffee and alcohol they consume during hot weather as all of these beverages have a mild diuretic effect.
     

    Keep an eye on the colour of urine - very dark yellow urine is a classic sign of dehydration, and so if your elderly loved one notices that this is the case they should increase their fluid intake.

     

    Review medications - A doctor might recommend that certain medications are avoided or doses are reduced during very hot weather, so it’s worth checking with a GP if an older person in your care takes regular medication.

     

    Keep Cool - Keeping curtains or blinds pulled can keep rooms cooler, as can using electric fans or air conditioning units.

     

     


    What To Do If Someone Is Suffering From Heat Stress

     


    If someone is suffering from heat stress the important thing is to cool them down quickly, such as with a sponge/flannel and cool water, or a fan. Medical help should be sought immediately.

     

     

     

    Caring for an elderly loved one can be as hard as it can be rewarding, and if you have other family or work commitments it can be a difficult balancing act. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, Care In Kent can help. We offer a range of services from respite care, to running errands and helping with personal care. Please feel free to get in touch with a member of our dedicated team to find out more.

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  • 16/06/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Care In Kent Celebrates: Learning Disability Week

     

     

     

     

    Care In Kent are proud to support Learning Disability Week, taking place on the 14th-20th of June.

     


    This year’s theme is art and creativity - which have been great ways for those living with learning disabilities, and their carers, to stay positive and connected throughout the pressures and challenges of the last year.

     


    At Care In Kent we want to share with you all of the ways you can support those who live with learning difficulties - whether they’re young or old.

     

     

     

    What Is A Learning Disability?

     

     

     

    Learning disabilities are unique to each individual who has one, but as a general rule those who live with a learning disability have a reduced intellectual ability and may find everyday activities, such as household tasks, managing money or socialising more difficult.

     


    These difficulties will affect a person for their whole life.

     


    Someone who has a learning disability will take longer to learn, and therefore may need support when it comes to learning new skills, interacting with others, and understanding information.

     


    A person with a mild learning disability might only need support with things like getting a job, whereas someone with a more profound or severe disability might need full time support and care with every aspect of their life.

     

     

     

    Learning Difficulties

     

     

     

    Learning disabilities are not to be confused with learning difficulties, such as ADHD or Dyslexia, which do not affect intellect.

     

     

     

    What Causes Learning Disabilities?

     

     

     

    A learning disability occurs when the brain is still developing, either before, during or soon after birth.

     


    A baby might be born with a learning disability if the mother has an accident or illness while pregnant, or if the baby develops certain genes.

     


    Not getting enough oxygen during birth, a trauma to the head, or being born prematurely can also result in a learning disability.

     


    After birth, early childhood diseases, seizures or an accident could also cause a learning disability.

     


    Learning disabilities might be diagnosed at birth, or after a difference is noticed in a child’s development during early childhood.

     


    The diagnosis of a learning disability can be a very emotional and difficult experience, but it’s the first step towards accessing support and care.

     

     

     

     


    Whether someone in your life lives with a learning disability or not, I think we can all agree that resources of help and support for both them and their families is vital for living a full and enriching life. Learning Disability Week aims to raise awareness for those in our community who might be struggling to various degrees with the things we take for granted every day.

     


    So, how can we help?

     

     

     

    Show Our Support on Social Media

     

     

     

    It’s no secret that people with learning disabilities are underrepresented in the arts, and so this year Mencap is going to be showcasing art from the learning disability community across social media.

     


    To see what these talented artists have been creating, you can follow and show your support across these social media platforms:

     


    Twitter: @mencap_charity

    Facebook: @Mencap

    Instagram: @mencap

     

     

     

    Download Your Social Media Pack

     

     

     

    You can show your support in seconds by downloading your social media pack that includes frames for your own content, Zoom backgrounds, art graphics, and graphics for your own social media.

     


    You could raise money and support for learning disability charities by creating an online art competition or auction for those within your local community - or just by displaying posters and graphics across your own social media platforms.

     


    To download your pack, and for more ideas of how you can support Learning Disability Week, click on the link below:

     


    https://www.mencap.org.uk/get-involved/learning-disability-week-2021

     

     

     

    Make A Donation

     


    You can make a difference to those with learning disabilities by making a one-off or monthly donation to Mencap.

     


    £5 will go towards keeping their helpline open - a vital resource for supporting the families of those with learning disabilities with concerns about loneliness, isolation and social care.
    £20 will help Mencap develop virtual services, meaning that those who need it can access support and help wherever they and whenever they need it.
    £30 will find internet lessons to help a person with a learning disability to feel less isolated.

     

    You can make a donation via Visa, Debit card or Paypal through Mencap’s secure site:

     


    https://secure.mencap.org.uk/en-gb/learning-disability-week-2021?utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&gclid=CjwKCAjwwqaGBhBKEiwAMk-FtK-BsWbk9p_blm7mvv4fo9vbRvIdLfx7IuSvYLH2KT-0ljHLwDop7xoC0oIQAvD_BwE

     

     

     

    Care In Kent is passionate about supporting the most vulnerable members of our community, including those with learning disabilities - young or old.

     


    Thank you for your support.

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  • 11/06/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Care In Kent Celebrates Carer’s Week 2021

    What’s Carer’s Week?

     

    Carer’s Week, an annual awareness campaign that recognises the contribution carers make to families and to their communities, is an event that’s very close to our hearts here at Care In Kent.

     

    There are currently over 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK, all looking after a friend or relative who is living with a mental or physical illness, or who is elderly - and providing this care impacts on every aspect of life; their relationships, their jobs, their finances, and their own health. In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, carers have found themselves facing new challenges and their struggles have become even more apparent.

     

    In 2020 Carer’s Week aimed to raise the profile of these unsung heroes with the theme of ‘Making Caring Visible’, and this year’s 2021 campaign builds on that theme by not only recognising the amazing job they’re doing but also by valuing them for the contribution they make with ‘Making Caring Visible And Valued’.

     

    How Can I Get Involved?

     

    Thanks to the internet, spreading the word and showing your support has never been easier, so even with large group gatherings out of the question at the moment (particularly as carers are more likely to be in contact with someone who has a weaker immune system), there are still ways that you can reach out to carers, show them that there is help available, give them a boost to keep them going, and tell them how they can access support and information that they might not even be aware is available.

     

     

     

    Raising Awareness Across The UK

     

    Carer’s Week aims to raise the profile of caring in communities, helping carers to recognise themselves as such and making sure that they get all of the support and information that they need. It’s vital we show the world how important caring is! - especially after everything we’ve all been through in the past year or so!

     

    Here are some ways that you can help raise awareness:

     

    Get in touch with your local politicians and ask them to support Carer’s Week - this year, and the one after that…...and the one after that!

    Get on social media (as if you need an excuse!) - use the hashtag #CarersWeek and follow the cause on Twitter and Facebook/carers week - be sure to share the posts with your own followers!

     

    Pledge your support on the official website: www.carersweek.org/pledge

     

    If you provide services for carers, use Carer’s Week to promote them

     

    Run a virtual activity like an online quiz or karaoke for carers in your local area. Other ideas include poetry or short story competitions, or a book club

     

    Share information about Carer’s Week and caring in general with your friends and work colleagues - for all you know some of them might be unpaid carers themselves!

     

    Recognise The Impact of Caring

     

     

     

    There’s never been a more perfect time to focus on how important carers are to their local communities than during Carer’s Week.

     


    If you’ve ever had to look after anyone other than yourself for even five minutes you can probably appreciate how challenging carer’s find it to take care of their own wellbeing when they’re dedicating almost all of their time to putting someone else’s needs first!

     

     

     

    So, how can we give carers the recognition and celebration they deserve?

     

     

     

    You could signpost carers in your community to help and support services. There are organisations that you might be a part of that come into contact with carers every day - whether you realise it or not! Examples are schools, faith and community groups, and health services.

     

    Running an online awards ceremony is a great way to recognise and say thank you to services that support carers AND to carers themselves….plus, it’s a fantastic way to get the local community involved in Carer’s Week by asking them to nominate friends, family members, and local employers who are either caring for others or offering support to those that do.
      

    If you have a company website, personal blog, or even just a social media account that reaches a wide audience, why not use that platform to share information about Carer’s Week and raise awareness.

     

     


    Support Carers

     

    Carer’s Week is the perfect time to reach out to carer’s in your community and show that you care about them.

     

    Caring for someone else, particularly if they have a disability or are elderly requires someone to maintain a careful balancing and juggling act that over time can be incredibly stressful, and can lead to carers feeling isolated, stressed and overwhelmed.

     


    Ways to reach out and support carers within your community could include:

     

     

     

    - Inviting experts to share their knowledge online or through a virtual event that can be attended by carers and prove a useful tool for sharing stories and experiences, as well as learning new techniques to help with the practical side of caring for someone else, such as diet and nutrition.
     

    - An online quiz night can be a fun way for carers within your community to socialise and take some time out for themselves while meeting people who are in the same situation as themselves.
     

    - Run an online exercise class, painting class, creative writing class…..whatever your passion is, sharing it with carers in your area who might not otherwise have an outlet for their creativity can be a rewarding and much-needed way to recognise and support unpaid carers.

     

    Carer’s Week could just be the springboard to inspire you, your business, your community group, or your family to show your support and recognition to carers in your area…..why stop at a week!? That online book club, coffee morning, or chat forum could prove so popular that you want to be involved all year round, providing support and some respite to those who really need it. Just think about what you could start!

    Care In Kent are always on hand to offer support to carers in the form of at-home care, including running errands, or a little respite care when you need to take some time out (or perhaps do that online quiz!) For more information get in touch with a member of our dedicated team.

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  • 04/06/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Eye Care For The Elderly

    Our eyes are not immune to the ageing process, and our eyesight can change dramatically over time. Eyes muscles begin to weaken from around the age of 45, and although glasses or contact lenses can help, many people aren’t aware of the ways that they can look after their eyes as they get older - and this can seriously affect their vision.

     


    Care In Kent has put together this simple guide on eye problems that can occur as we age, and how best to care for elderly eyes.

     

     

     

    Common Eye Problems In The Elderly

     

     

     

    The most common eye problems affecting the elderly are cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. If left untreated these conditions can potentially lead to vision loss.

     


    Signs of eye problems include:

     

     

     

    - Straight lines looking wobbly
    - Having trouble judging the depth of steps/kerbs
    - Difficulty driving - particularly at night
    - Colours looking washed out
    - Difficulty reading, even with your glasses or contact lenses

     

     


    If an elderly loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to book an appointment with an optician or GP, in order to rule out or confirm one of the most common causes of eye problems in older people.

     

     

     

    Cataracts

     

     

     

    Generally, as we age, the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque, and causes blurred vision. This is known as cataracts.

     


    Wearing glasses can help to correct the vision in some cases, but it’s not uncommon to need surgery to replace the lens with an artificial one. Cataracts can develop in both eyes, although it could affect each eye differently, and the condition develops over many years - meaning that the symptoms might not be noticeable at first.

     


    Luckily, cataracts aren’t painful and don’t irritate the eye, but signs of cataracts can be:

     

     

     

    - Blurred or ‘misty’ vision
    - Double vision
    - Colours looking faded
    - Bright lights being uncomfortable to look at
    - Seeing a halo around bright lights

     

     

     

     

    Glaucoma

     

     

     

    Glaucoma is another eye condition, common in the elderly, that can develop over many years.

     


    The disease causes a rise in pressure, resulting in damage to the optic nerve that can cause loss of vision and even blindness if not detected in the early stages.

     


    There are four different types of Glaucoma, the most common being Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma, with the first symptom normally being a loss of peripheral vision.

     


    Other symptoms include:

     

     

     

    - Headaches
    - Blurred vision
    - Sickness
    - Red eye
    - Tenderness around the eye 

     

     


      

    Macular Degeneration

     

     

     

    The macular is the part of the eye that is responsible for central vision, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition that causes that part of the eye to deteriorate.

     


    There are two different types of AMD

     


    Dry AMD is the most common and least serious type, with vision loss occurring over many years. This happens when the cells of the macular become damaged by a build-up of deposits called drusen - small, yellowish deposits of cellular debris that accumulate under the retina, which is the light-sensitive part at the back of your eye. This build-up happens to most people over the age of 60, and is more common in women than in men.

     


    Wet AMD is more serious, though blessedly not as common, and occurs when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the macular and damage the cells. Untreated, an elderly person’s vision can deteriorate within days.

     

     

     

    So, how can we prevent or slow down these types of eye conditions in the elderly?

     


    Often, by making some simple lifestyle changes.

     


    Such as:

     

     

     

    Going For Regular Eye Tests

     

     

     

    Over 60’s qualify for a free eye test every two years, and over 70’s can have one every year free of charge - so there’s no excuse for your elderly loved one to not receive regular checks!

     


    At-home eye appointments can be arranged for an older person who is house-bound.

     


    Opticians do more than just check that you’re wearing the right prescription glasses - an eye test will pick up any eye issues - including the ones we’ve just mentioned - as well as checking for health problems such as diabetes.

     

     

     

    Eat Well

     

     

     

    We all know the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet in general, but there are specific foods that can improve eyesight and eye health - and not necessarily carrots - although they certainly won’t hurt!

     


    Leafy greens such as kale and spinach can lower the risk of macular degeneration as they are chock-full of antioxidants, and eating oily fats, like those found in fish and nuts can reduce the risk of dry eye syndrome, a condition most common in elderly people.

     

     

     

    Quit Smoking

     

     

     

    There are very few health issues that can’t be prevented or improved by stopping smoking, and eye problems are no exception.

     


    Smoking can increase the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.

     


    It could be very difficult for someone who has smoked for a very long time to stop, but the NHS stop smoking website has some advice and tips that might be helpful.

     


    https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/nhs-stop-smoking-services-help-you-quit/

     


    Keep Things Well-Lit

     

     

     

    Research conducted by the NHS tells us that we need three times as much light to see well at 60 than we do at 20, so if you have an elderly loved one, make sure that they are spending their time in rooms that are adequately lit.

     


    Keeping the curtains drawn back during the day and reading close to a window are ways to maximise the use of natural light.

     


    In the evenings, keep areas well lit with lamps that are directed at where an older person is working/reading, and make sure that there is suitable overhead lighting in areas where trips or falls are most likely to occur - such as on the stairs, for example.

     

     

     

     


    If you want to know more about how you can continue to care for an elderly loved one in their own home, why not give our dedicated team at Care In Kent a call? We specialise in a variety of at-home care services, including respite care and caring for those with dementia.

     


       

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  • Alzheimer-aggressive-behaviour
    25/05/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Alzheimer’s And Dealing With Abusive Behaviour

    When someone we love is diagnosed with a form of dementia such as Alzheimer’s, it’s devastating for several reasons. Not least of course because we know that there’s no cure for this progressive disease and that we’ll have to deal with losing parts of the mind and personality of the person we love while they’re still alive.

    The damage that is caused to the brain of someone who has Alzheimer’s or dementia can affect the temperament and personality of someone who has spent their whole life being kind and gentle.

    People who are living with dementia might lash out when they feel frustrated at not being able to clearly communicate, or when they feel angry, afraid, or are in pain or discomfort. An aggressive outburst from an adult who is confused and frightened can be scary.

    They might lash out with their fists, swear, bite, kick out... and if you’re not a professional caregiver with experience of working with people who live with dementia - you are simply a relative caring for a loved one, for example - your instinct might be to argue or fight back, which will only make what is already a stressful and upsetting situation worse.

    We’d like to share with you some of our tips for dealing with aggressive behaviour from someone who has dementia, in the hope that our knowledge and experience can make things a little easier for your family.

     

     

     

    Be Prepared

     

     

     

    This tip starts with a change of mindset. If a loved one who has dementia is behaving abusively towards you, either physically or verbally, remind yourself that it’s not personal.

    It will be upsetting to experience that level of aggression from someone whom you love, and who loves you too, but remember, this is the behaviour of a sick person, not a nasty person. 

    Aggressive outbursts and challenging behaviour are normal signs of dementia. Reminding yourself of that will help you to respond to the situation in a calm and supportive manner.

    These types of episodes can be very shocking and upsetting when they happen, but it is the symptom of an illness; the behaviour of someone who is very ill - NOT a true reflection of how your loved one would act or speak to you if they were well.

     

     

     

    Try To Identify Triggers

     

     

     

    Aggressive outbursts from someone who is living with dementia are often triggered by fear, frustration, or pain.

    For example, maybe someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s is yelling and screaming at people to get out - even if there’s no one there.

    It could be that shadows in the room or dim light are making them think there is someone there, hiding. Imagine how frightening that must be!

    Once you’ve identified this trigger you’ll be able to do something about it - keep rooms well lit and make sure that lights are on before evening falls.

    Another example could be that you approach your elderly loved one from behind, without thinking, and startle them. Feeling threatened, they may lash out in what they feel is self-defence.

    Again, this isn’t indicative of them as a person, it’s merely a symptom of an illness, and so be mindful when approaching someone who has dementia so as not to surprise or frighten them.

     

     

     

    Rule Out If They Are In Pain

     

     

     

    Someone who has dementia - particularly in the more advanced stages - might not be able to communicate if they are experiencing discomfort. This could cause your loved one to behave aggressively due to being frustrated and in pain.

    If they live with a condition such as arthritis, check if they need pain medication. Check too that they are sitting in a comfortable seat, or if they need to use the toilet perhaps - we all appreciate how uncomfortable that can be!

     

     

     

    Be Gentle And Reassuring

     

     

     

    Of course, it goes without saying that elderly members of our society are grown adults who should be treated with the utmost dignity and respect, not treated like children. However, when someone is living with a condition such as Alzheimer’s and becomes aggressive, the gentle, reassuring tones that we use with the youngest members of our family can provide comfort and stop a situation from escalating.

    Becoming upset or arguing back can escalate tense emotions, so staying calm and positive is of paramount importance.

    Frustrating though the situation may be, becoming angry won’t do either of you any good, and in fact, will likely just make it worse.

     

     

     

    Keep The Environment Calm

     


    Too much noise and activity going on around a person who has dementia can sometimes trigger aggressive behaviour.

    Be mindful of what is going on around them if they start becoming angry or abusive. Make sure that the TV or radio is turned down, that people aren’t speaking too loudly or making sudden sounds - and ask them to leave the room if necessary.

    It could be that something as simple as calming and quieting the environment could stop the situation from escalating.

     

     

     

    Try Their Favourite Music To Shift Their Focus

     

     

     

    Research has shown time and time again that music can have an amazing effect on mood, particularly for those who have a condition such as Alzheimer’s.

    Playing an elderly loved one’s favourite music or songs from an era when they were younger might evoke happy memories and have a soothing effect.

    People with dementia are often still able to recall the tunes and lyrics to songs they used to love, and it could help shift focus from a situation that’s causing agitation or frustration to play something they can sing along to and enjoy.

     

     

     

    Validate Their Feelings

     

     

     

    Every human being wants to have their feelings validated, young or old, and for someone with dementia, this is just as important.

    It could be that the condition is making it very difficult to express feelings of loneliness, sadness or frustration, and so it’s all coming out as aggression.

    In this situation, look for clues as to how they may be feeling: Consider speaking to your loved one in a calm and comforting way. Let them know that it’s ok to feel the way that they do, and that you’re there to help in any way that you can.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Older people in our community, and our families, are to be cherished - they have done everything before us and have experienced some things we likely never will….they have been our carers, our teachers, our protectors, and when the times comes to give something back and care for them, it can be just as frustrating and frightening (and rewarding!), for us as it was for them when we needed taking care of.

    At Care In Kent we are highly skilled in the field of dementia care, and we offer a range of at home care services, from respite care to help with the weekly shop.

     

    If you want to know more about how we can help you to take care of someone that you love, please get in touch with a member of our dedicated team.

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  • 20/05/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Ten Top Tips For Caring For Our Elderly Loved Ones

    Growing old is a privilege denied to many, and caring for the older members of our society is a privilege too.

    These are the people who raised us, who worked hard to provide for us….voted for changes that benefit us, fought for our country and our rights. They have stories to tell and have experienced things we never will - thankfully, for the most part!

    If you are lucky enough to have parents or grandparents who have been in your life until they reach old age, you might now find yourself in a position of caring for them so that they can enjoy their older age as comfortably and independently as possible.

     

    Here at Care In Kent, we’ve put together our top ten tips for caring for your elderly loved ones.

     

    1.Care At Home

     

    There are few things more distressing to an elderly person than not being able to receive help and care in their own environment - normally the home they love and have lived in for many, many years. This is especially true for older people who might be living with a condition such as dementia.

    It could be that you’re doing a lot of the caring yourself; housework, shopping etc….but for respite care, or for the tasks you’re not able to do yourself because of having to work, not living close enough, or because of other restrictions - care-providers like Care In Kent can help.

    From running errands to cooking meals, helping with bathing, dressing, or after-care following an illness or stay in hospital, at-home care is a way that an elderly person can receive all the help and care they need in the comfort of their own homes.

     

    2.Help Them To Get Tech-Savvy!

    Whether it’s doorbell systems that use a camera, using a smartphone, setting up facetime appointments with a doctor, or using the internet to keep in touch with friends and family around the globe, modern technology certainly has its place in improving the lives of our elderly loved ones.

     

    Further reading: ‘How Smart Technology Can Help You Stay Independent For Longer’

    https://www.careinkent.co.uk/b/how-smart-technology-can-help-you-stay-independent-for-longer

    And, ‘How Technology Could Change The Lives Of The Elderly’

    https://www.careinkent.co.uk/b/how-technology-could-change-the-lives-of-the-elderly

     

    These articles up above will tell you everything you need to know about the latest technological advancements in at-home health care, security systems, and communication that could benefit the older members of our society.

     

     

     

    3.Create A Safe Environment

    As we age, trips and fall are more common. We might not be as steady on our feet as we once were, our reactions are slower, and bumps and bruises that might not have bothered us when we were younger can be a lot more serious now, as well as slower to recover from.

    We can minimise these risks for our elderly loved ones, and keep them independent for longer, by making sure that their environment is as safe as possible - particularly important if the person is living with dementia, mobility issues, or problems with their sight.

    Simple things, like making sure their home isn’t too cluttered, that anything they might need in order to prepare food or fix a drink is within easy reach, and that there are clear walkways around the home, can make all the difference.

     

    4.Check Medications

     

    The older we get, the more likely it is that we have to take daily medications. Conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis are common in elderly people, and not taking prescribed medications, or not taking the correct dosage at the right time can be dangerous.


    If you have an elderly loved one who has to take medication, make sure that prescriptions are filled when needed. A pill box with organiser compartments can be useful if they have to take several different types of medications a day.

    Make sure that out of date medications are returned to the pharmacy, and that there is a schedule in place so that doses aren’t missed. If your elderly family member is prescribed a new medication, make sure that you're both aware of any potential side effects or possible interactions with current medication.


    If your loved one is living with a condition such as memory loss or Alzheimer’s, they might need more help when it comes to medication. Ensure that medications are kept somewhere securely so that they don’t take them more often than necessary, and if possible make sure that you or someone else is able to be there when medications need to be taken.

     

     

    5.Home Modifications

     

    We’ve already talked about making sure the home of an elderly person is as safe as possible, but for someone who has mobility issues or is particularly frail, home modifications might have to be made.

    These could include:

    - Ramps for wheelchairs or walkers

    - Installing handrails in showers, baths, and near toilets

    - Installing a raised toilet

    • Making sure there are non-slip bath mats in place
      - Installing adequate lighting, and possibly ones with auto-sensors in the event that they have to get up at night
    • Installing smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors if they’re not already in the home

     

    6.Taking Care Of Important Paperwork

     

    Although it’s not an easy conversation to have, making sure that an elderly loved one has important paperwork up-to-date, such as a will or power or attorney will provide peace of mind, and can save a lot of stress and upset later on.

    Which also brings us to:

     


    7.Keeping On Top Of Finances

     

     

    An older person might not feel comfortable talking about their finances, but it is important to make sure that bills are dealt with and paid on time. This is especially vital if your loved one is on a fixed income and needs to stick to a budget.

    The elderly can be particularly vulnerable scams, so it’s important that your elderly loved ones are aware that they shouldn’t give out passwords or bank details - even if they receive a phone call, email or text that seems to legitimately be from their bank.


    Scammers no longer just knock on the front door - they use technology to prey on their victims, and your loved one might not realise they’ve been duped until it’s too late.


    We’ve detailed ways that older people can protect themselves from scammers in our article, ‘Protecting The Elderly From Scammers’

    Click the link below to find out more


    https://www.careinkent.co.uk/b/protecting-the-elderly-from-scammers

     

     

    8.Driving Issues

     

     

    For most people, regardless of age, driving is a great source of independence and, for older people in particular, losing the ability to drive themselves due to either illness or frailty can be devastating.


    Options such as delivery services for groceries, you helping to run errands, or even hiring a driver, can be ways to lessen the impact that no longer being able to drive can have.

    There’s no real evidence that an older driver is any more unsafe than a younger driver (the opposite in fact in a lot of cases), but slower reaction times, failing eyesight, declining cognitive abilities, and the higher risk of injury or death if involved in an accident, are all reasons to regularly assess the driving abilities of an elderly loved one.

     

    9.Helping Them Stay Active

     

     

    We all know the importance of exercise when it comes to staying fit and healthy in both body and mind, and for older people this is even more important.

     


    Regular exercise is good for keeping joints and muscles supple, and it can stave off depression by flooding the body with feel-good hormones.

    Even just a gentle walk is beneficial; it gets an older person out of the house and into the fresh air. Older people are more likely to feel lonely and isolated - especially if they have lost a spouse - but taking part in a walking group or senior swimming class can be an opportunity to meet like-minded people and socialise, as well as getting some much-needed exercise.

    Even an older person who has limited mobility or is confined to a bed or chair can take part in regular exercise. There are many online exercise classes specifically designed for those with low mobility, that can get the blood pumping and keep someone as active as possible!

     

    10.Don’t Forget To Care For Yourself!

     

     

    We’ve included this as one of our top ten tips because we know that caring for someone who is elderly can be as challenging as it is rewarding, and you’re likely to experience a range of emotions.

     


    You might have days, where you feel guilty that you’re neglecting your children or partner because you’re caring for an elderly, loved one; or days when you are frustrated, overwhelmed, drained…..maybe even resentful of your loved one, and it’s important to know that not only are these feelings common, they’re also quite normal - and they DON’T mean that you love the person any less!

     

    Remember to take some time for self-care - after all, we can only care for others if we are well-cared for ourselves.

     

    Care In Kent offers respite services for carers, where we can come and take care of all the day-to-day stuff for your loved one, or just run the odd errand, as little or often as you need.

    If you want to know more about how Care In Kent can help you to care for an older person in their own home, give us a call on 01233 619530, and speak to a member of our dedicated team.

     

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  • 18/05/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Putting Your Best Foot Forwards: Foot Care For The Elderly

    Our feet go through a lot -  In fact, by the age of 50, the average person has walked a total of 75,000 miles! Now imagine you’ve been on them for 70+ years, and it’s no wonder that recurring foot pain and discomfort is a common issue for seniors. Brittle nails, dry skin, skin and toenail discolouration, cramping, numbness, tingling and swelling can all be signs of conditions such as circulatory problems, arthritis and diabetes.

    It’s important for carers to be aware of changes in the feet of elderly patients, and to examine them on a regular basis.Aside from being painful, foot disorders can seriously affect an older person’s mobility, which is why tending to the feet of someone who is elderly is vital in keeping them comfortable, happy and independent for as long as possible.

     

    Diabetes And Feet

     

    An estimated 25% of those living with diabetes will develop foot problems at some point, and so if you’re caring for an elderly person who has the condition, it’s crucial that you keep a close eye on their feet.

    Cuts, blisters, cracks, calluses and pressure sores are not uncommon, but if there are no signs of such injuries healing within 24 hours, it’s important to contact the person’s GP.   

    If you are caring for an elderly loved one, whether they’re living with a condition such as diabetes or not,  we’ve put together a tootsie-checklist, so that you can help them to care for their feet and keep them in tip-top condition.

     

    Socks Appeal

     

    Check that an elderly person isn’t wearing socks that are too tight that they’re inhibiting blood flow to the feet. Ideally, socks should be seamless and NOT 100% cotton, which can hold onto moisture from sweat and cause a breeding ground for bacteria. Moisture-wicking socks, such as those that are an acrylic blend, when worn with slippers or shoes that have an enclosed toe can protect a person’s foot from injury.

     

    Keep Feet Squeaky Clean

     

    It sounds obvious, but good foot hygiene will help prevent fungal and bacterial infections. Of course, it depends on whether an older person is able to bathe themselves, or needs help, but it could be that their feet aren’t cleaned as regularly or as well as is recommended.

    A simple, twice-daily, foot wipedown with warm, soapy water and a soft washcloth can keep odour-causing bacteria at bay. It can also be a relaxing treatment to aid sleep if done before bed.

     

    Keep Skin Soft And Supple

    The skin on our feet is often neglected, but it is an area prone to dryness, cracking and flaking - especially as we age. Regularly applying moisturiser to feet after they have been washed and dried can prevent open foot sores, lock in moisture, and keep skin soft and supple.

     

    Keep Nails Trimmed

    Ingrown toenails are something everyone wants to avoid, but, for a senior with circulatory problems, an ingrown toenail could end up leading to amputation! Aside from this, overgrown toenails can cause pain and discomfort when walking or wearing shoes. Keeping older loved one’s nails trimmed and filed - either yourself or under the care of a podiatrist, is something that should be done regularly.

    If you’re caring for an older person who has dementia, it can be a good idea to create a relaxing, spa-like experience for the procedure. Their favourite music or TV show as a distraction, and maybe a foot soak and foot massage, could make this necessary event less stressful.

     

    If The Shoe Fits

    Over time our feet flatten and widen...the fatty ‘padding’ wears down, leaving bones and joints exposed to wear and tear. For the majority of older people, it will have been a long time (if ever!) that they have had their feet measured and sized before buying shoes.

    Shoes that are too big or too small can cause rubbing and blisters as well as impair mobility. It’s worth noting that older people should avoid wearing heels and that closed-toe shoes which support arch type, foot width and ankles are preferred.

     

    Improve Circulation

    Older people, particularly those who are living with conditions like diabetes, peripheral artery disease, or conditions that limit mobility, might experience reduced circulation in their feet, which can lead to blood clots.

    Massage, elevating the lower legs when resting, and compression hose can all help improve circulation in the feet.

     

    If In Doubt - Seek Medical Attention

    There are many common foot conditions, such as bunions, corns, calluses and discoloured toenails that can cause problems for an older person. If you notice that an elderly loved one is suffering from any of these - no matter how harmless it may appear - it is always worth making an appointment with a GP or podiatrist in order to prevent future problems such as infections.

     

     

    At Care In Kent we offer a range of at-home care services for older people. To find out more, call to speak to a member of our dedicated team.

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  • 18/05/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Elderly Drivers: When Is It Time To Stop Getting Behind The Wheel?

    As we age we know that certain things are going to start declining or slowing down; our eyesight, our strength, our reactions...and while in most situations these can be compensated for with prescription glasses, taking more time and care over things, or asking someone to help us, the one area that really does rely on you being able to think and react quickly, and to always have your wits about you, is driving.

     


    At the moment in the UK, drivers over the age of 70 must declare they are fit to drive every three years, but they don’t have to take a driving or medical exam.

     


    But should they?

     


    Well, an older driver isn’t necessarily a worse driver. In fact, research carried out by the RAC Foundation found that drivers over the age of 75 account for just 4.3% of deaths and serious injuries on the road, despite making up 6% of all licence holders.

     


    In contrast, drivers aged 16-20, who only make up 2.5% of all drivers on the road, cause 13% of traffic-related deaths and serious injuries.

     


    The RAC Foundation doesn’t support the idea of compulsory testing for older drivers, stating that every individual is different and that older drivers aren’t necessarily unsafe drivers, although it does acknowledge that those over 70 are more likely to have accidents in locations such as at high-speed junctions, slip-roads onto motorways and dual carriageways.

     


    It’s also maybe unsurprising to learn that those over the age of 80 are more likely to be seriously injured or killed in car accidents than other age groups.

     


    There are huge benefits to being able to drive for as long as possible; staying independent, and being able to visit family and friends for example, and there’s evidence to suggest that when older people suddenly stop driving, that lack of mobility can contribute to feelings of loneliness, depression and feeling cut off from society.

     


    It seems to be agreed all round - both by driving groups and associations, as well as by older drivers themselves, that when it comes to safety on the road, arbitrary age limits aren’t the answer.

     


    However….

     


    I’m sure we’ve all heard a story of someone’s nan mistaking the accelerator for the brake and ending up in someone’s garden….or know about an elderly man who drove the wrong way up the motorway...or perhaps the older lady who got confused at the roundabout and caused a 4 car pile up. It happens - and although not definitive - age could certainly be a contributing factor.

     


    And, while it’s true that younger drivers have the highest number of overall accidents, they also do a lot more miles, leading some to point out that older drivers have more incidents per mile.

     


    But, by 2025, drivers aged 65 and over will make up 25% of the driving population, compared to just 15% in 2001 - and we can’t just ban them all from the roads!

     


    If you fall into this age group yourself, or you have an older loved one who is still driving, the key is to be aware of any physical or mental health changes that could affect driving ability.

     

     

     

    Why Might An Older Person Want To Continue Driving

     

     

     

    The reasons are varied and many, with a lot of older people probably wondering why, as grown adults, there are concerns about them continuing to do something they’ve done for years with no issues - especially if it’s ‘young people’ causing all the accidents!

     


    Reasons include:

     


    Maintaining their independence
    A sense of freedom
    Not having to rely on other people
    Needing to get to the shops or to doctors appointments
    It’s something they’ve always done

     

    Unless there’s been a sudden change to someone’s health, it’s likely that any changes affecting driving ability have happened slowly and gradually over time, making them difficult to identify as a reason to stop driving.

     

     

     

    And What Are The Reasons They Should Probably Stop

     

     

     

    All drivers are different, and just because one person should probably stop driving at 75, doesn’t mean that there aren’t 89-year-olds on the road who are putting their younger contemporaries to shame!

     


    However, here are some indicators that you should consider when it comes to driving if you (or someone you love) happen to be older.

     

    -Sudden changes to health such as a heart attack or stroke
    -Having more difficulty parking than you used too
    -Failing eyesight or hearing
    -Become disorientated
    -Having near misses or accidents
    -Becoming confused in traffic
    -Drifting into other lanes while driving
    -Missing signs and signals
    -Increased levels of anxiety when driving
    -Getting lost or confused in areas you used to be comfortable and familiar with
    -Having a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, dementia, Parkinson’s or arthritis

     

    It’s important to remember that the safety of yourself and other road users is paramount when it comes to making the decision of how long to remain behind the wheel.

     


    If you’re concerned that either yourself as an older person or an elderly loved one, might lose independence once driving is no longer a possibility, please get in touch with Care In Kent to see how we can help.

     


    We offer a range of at-home care services, including running errands and helping with shopping, which can be difficult once you are no longer on the road.

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  • 26/04/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    ​Diabetes And The Elderly

    Every 2 minutes in the UK, someone is diagnosed with Diabetes - a condition that currently affects 4.8 million people; or one in every 14. Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your pancreas doesn’t produce enough of the hormone, insulin, causing your blood glucose levels to increase


    Type 1 Diabetes

    Type 1 diabetes is a much rarer form of the disease, and is a lifelong condition that affects 1 in 10 people with diabetes in the UK. The causes of type 1 diabetes aren’t fully known, although it’s thought that genetics and environmental factors probably play a role, and we know that this type of the disease isn’t linked to age, diet or lifestyle.

    Type 2 Diabetes

    Type 2 diabetes affects 9 in 10 of those with diabetes, and is also caused by glucose levels in the blood being too high.

    The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases as we get older, and is more likely if:

    There is a family history of type 2 diabetes
    You are overweight
    You have had high blood pressure
    You are of Black African, African-Carribean or South Asian descent

    The Signs Of Diabetes

    Type 1 diabetes is normally detected and diagnosed in childhood, but type 2 has symptoms that can develop slowly and over a long period of time. A simple urine and blood test will confirm whether or not you have type 2 diabetes, and the sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you can start to manage the condition.

    But what symptoms should we be looking out for?

    Urinating more frequently
    Extreme thirst
    Weight loss
    Feeling very tired
    Cuts or wounds that take a long time to heal
    Blurred vision

    Of course, some of these can be symptoms of many age-related conditions, so it could be easy to dismiss a symptom or two at first. But, if left untreated, high blood glucose can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, feet and eyes, so if you or an elderly loved one has any of these symptoms it’s important to see a GP - even if only to rule diabetes out.

    There’s no cure for diabetes (although type 2 can potentially be reversed if significant lifestyle changes were made and maintained over a long period of time), but many people with the condition live long, full lives thanks to treatments that are available.


    Diabetes Treatment

    Type 1 diabetes is treated by taking insulation - normally as an injection or pump. Those who live with the condition have to test their glucose levels regularly, particularly before and after meals, to make sure they’re not too high.

    If you are caring for an elderly loved one who has this type of diabetes it could be that you are responsible for ensuring that those glucose tests and insulin treatments happen regularly, especially if the person is suffering with dementia, or perhaps is unable to administer their own medication.

    Type 2 diabetes is treated by prescribed medication that lowers glucose in the blood to a safe level. Type 2 diabetes is affected by lifestyle, and so those who live with the condition are often advised to lose weight, be more active and to eat healthier.

    For an older person, this might not be so easy - particularly the first two. If your elderly loved one has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, speak to their GP about gentle ways you can help them to stay active, such as swimming for example. You also might want to seek advice on helping them to prevent weight gain - especially if your loved one is bed-bound or has mobility issues - in order to make the condition as manageable as possible.

    How To Reduce The Risk Of Diabetes

    Type 1 diabetes isn’t a condition that can be prevented, but there are things that you can do to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

    Such as:

    Losing weight

    80% of those diagnosed with diabetes are overweight, and for someone who is older and perhaps not able to get about so easily, it can be hard to shed the pounds. The older we get, the less calories we need to fuel us through the day, so make sure that those calories are coming from good, nutritious sources such as wholegrains, lean meats and fish, and fruits and vegetables, rather than cakes and biscuits!

    It can be hard for an elderly person (especially one who lives alone) to eat a healthy, balanced diet. This could be because of a condition such as arthritis that makes it difficult to chop and peel, not feeling it’s ‘worth’ cooking just for one now that a partner has gone, or because of financial reasons.

    Exercising More

    Research has found that exercising regularly can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 64%, but there can be limits to the type of exercise we can do as we get older. Even a short, daily walk or gentle swim can make a difference...and there are even online ‘armchair aerobics’ classes for those who don’t have full use of their legs or are very overweight, causing a staring on their joints.

    Stop Smoking

    There are many reasons we shouldn’t smoke, and most people are aware of the links to diseases such as cancer and gum disease. What we aren’t so aware of is smoking’s link to diabetes: smoking increases your blood pressure, which is a major cause of diabetes.

    Drink Less Alcohol

    Alcohol is essentially empty calories and can massively increase your chance of putting on weight. Excessive or heavy drinking in particular can lead to conditions such as pancreatitis, which comes with a side effect of - you guessed it - type 2 diabetes.

    If you have an elderly loved one who is living with diabetes and you want to know more about how at-home care could help them to stay independent and healthy, please get in touch with a member of our dedicated team.

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  • 16/04/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    ​The Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia

    If you’re familiar with Care In Kent and the work that we do, you’ll know that caring for the elderly as we would members of our own family is at the heart of everything we stand for - and if you’re a regular reader of our articles, you’ll know that supporting those with dementia, and their families is one of our areas of expertise.

    But do you know what signs to look for in someone who may be suffering from dementia? When does ‘becoming forgetful with age’ become something that requires extra care?

    In this article we take a look at the different types of dementia; what the symptoms are, and how they might present themselves.

    Is Nan Just Getting A Bit Forgetful….?

    It’s understandable that as we enter the twilight years of a long and full life, our bodies and minds might begin to decline. Our joints, eyesight, hearing, and other senses might not be what they once were, and our cognitive health can suffer the same.

    Dementia isn’t a disease in itself, but is a blanket term for a collection of symptoms caused by damage to the brain from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and these symptoms vary depending on what part of the brain is damaged.

    Different types of dementia can affect people very differently, but some common symptoms that people can experience before a dementia diagnosis include:

    Memory loss
    Struggling to carry out familiar tasks
    Confusion about time or places
    Changes in mood
    Struggling to follow or carry on a conversation
    Difficulty in concentrating

    These symptoms, when mild or only progressing very gradually they are known as MCI (mild cognitive impairment) and aren’t severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia - although some with MCI could go on to develop it.

    Dementia shouldn’t be seen as just a natural part of aging, which is why it’s important to speak to a GP if you yourself, or an elderly loved one is displaying such symptoms.

    When It’s More Than MCI

    If you or a loved one have MCI you might not notice straight away, or even take it seriously if you do - but how do you know when mild forgetfulness and confusion is more than MCI?

    Alzheimer’s

    Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, and is probably a name you’re familiar with.

    Common symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:

    Asking questions repetitively
    Regularly forgetting names, faces, and events
    Confusion in unfamiliar environments
    Becoming withdrawn and anxious
    Increasing difficulty with everyday tasks
    Difficulty with activities that require organisation or planning
    Difficulty with numbers and with handling money

    Someone with Alzheimer’s might not display all of these symptoms all of the time, but it is a progressive disease so symptoms can gradually get worse over time.

    Vascular Dementia

    Less-well known, vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia. The symptoms are very similar to Alzheimer’s, although they might not be as obvious in the early stages of the disease. Vascular dementia can develop suddenly and progress quickly, or can develop gradually over the course of many months, or even years.

    It’s also possible for someone to have both Alzheimer’s AND vascular dementia - often called ‘mixed dementia’, but the specific symptoms of vascular dementia are:

    Problems with movement, such as difficulty walking or changes in the way a person walks
    Difficulty paying attention
    Difficulty with planning and reasoning
    Depression, and a tendency to be more emotional
    Stroke-like symptoms such as muscle weakness or temporary paralysis down one side of the body. These symptoms require urgent medical attention

    You may have heard of these types of dementia, or even have a loved one who already lives with the condition, but there are other, lesser-known (but still common) types of dementia such as:

    Dementia With Lewy Bodies

    Dementia with Lewy bodies is often first suspected to be Alzheimer’s due to the similarity in symptoms. However those with this condition also typically experience:

    Visual hallucinations
    Repeated falls or fainting
    Sleep disturbances
    Slower physical movements
    Fluctuating levels of confusion
    Periods of being alert and drowsy

    As with all types of dementia, there is no cure for Dementia with Lewy bodies, but there are medications that can help reduce hallucinations, movement problems and disturbed sleep.

    Frontotemporal Dementia

    Dementia is rare in those under the age of 65, and is known as early onset dementia. Aside from Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia in the under 65 year old age group is frontotemporal dementia, with most cases being diagnosed in 45-65 year olds.

    The symptoms for this type of dementia are a little more varied, and include:

    Reduced sensitivity to other people’s feelings
    Lack of social awareness
    A lack of tact, or becoming withdrawn and apathetic
    Problems find the right words or understanding some words altogether
    Becoming obsessive - for example overeating or drinking.

    As dementia progresses, the symptoms of memory loss and not being able to communicate can become very severe, and in the later stages of the illness someone with dementia will begin to neglect their own health and will require round the clock care and attention.

    In the most advanced stages symptoms are:

    Not recognising family and friends
    Not remembering where they live or recognising where they are
    Some may lose the ability to speak
    Inability to walk unaided, possibly confined to a bed or requiring a wheelchair
    Increased agitation, wandering, anxiety, aggression, hallucinations
    Bladder or bowel incontinence
    Trouble eating or swallowing

    Sadly, there is no cure for dementia, and the progression of symptoms can be slow or frighteningly quick. It can be devastating to watch the person you love become someone very different right before you eyes, but there is support out there such as your GP, and charities such as:

    Alzheimer’s Society https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/

    and

    Dementia UK https://www.dementiauk.org/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwyN-DBhCD...

    Care In kent are also on hand to help, with at-home and respite care available from members of our experienced and dedicated team. If you are concerned about someone you love who is living with dementia, please get in touch.

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  • 15/04/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    ​Following The Passing Of Prince Philip: Losing The One You’ve Loved The Longest

    Following The Passing Of Prince Philip:

    Losing The One You’ve Loved The Longest

    This week we learned of the sad passing of Prince Philip at the age of 99, and whatever your feelings are about the Royal Family, your thoughts are probably with The Queen, and how her life will change now that the man who stood by her side for over 70 years is gone.

    We have touched previously on how the death of a spouse affects those with Alzheimer’s, but what about those who, like The Queen, have full cognitive health, and now have to navigate the rest of their life without the person who has been the biggest part of it. Elderly people who are in good health might not be offered the same support or understanding after the death of a spouse as those who aren’t, and it can be a very lonely and worrying time.

    Of course, The Queen comes from a world of great privilege, where worries about housing and finances that a lot of elderly people will experience following the death of spouse aren’t an issue - but that doesn’t mean that the very raw feelings of loss and confusion aren’t just as real as would be experienced by you or I.

    Prince Philip lived a very long and full life, you might even say that he had a ‘good innings’, but just because someone’s life hasn’t been cut short early - or even that their death may have been expected - that the grief felt by those who loved them is diluted somehow. The death of a spouse is a life-shattering experience, and the psychological effects are obvious, but grief can also have physical effects, such as loss of appetite and sleeplessness - and for the elderly this can also mean that their immune system is affected and they can lose interest in taking care of themselves. This explains why the health of a lot of older people can decline following the death of a spouse, and why it’s not uncommon for some to pass away shortly after losing their partner. The stress caused by their loss can result in stress cardiomyopathy - often known as broken heart syndrome.

    The Queen, like many other elderly people who have lost their spouse will no doubt gradually adapt to life without her beloved Philip, but there are many challenges she and others may face along the way.

    A Loss Of Independence

    For The Queen this may not actually be one of them, but for an elderly couple who are frail or ill they may have been able to compensate for one another and maintain strength and dependence as a unit - each making up for the other’s shortcomings. For example, a husband with limited mobility might rely on his wife to help him get in and out of bed, or to carry shopping…..a wife with memory loss or dementia might rely on her husband to remind her to take medication, or to make sure that bills are paid on time.

    If one half of the couple dies, the surviving spouse might not be able to manage on their own.

    Taking On New Responsibilities

    Perhaps, like The Queen, the surviving spouse is in good health - but maybe, as a couple, they both had well-defined roles within their relationships. It’s not uncommon for older people to follow traditional, older-fashioned gender roles - for example they may be a lot of elderly men who have never had to cook a meal, or wash their own clothes, or a lot of older women who never managed the money or paid bills.

    If one half of the couple passes, the other may find themselves suddenly having to acquire new skills - which might be incredibly overwhelming during a period of grief.

    Feeling Isolated

    For older couples who are living independently rather than in assisted living, the loss of a spouse means being plunged into isolation. Older couples rarely have a wide social network outside of each other, and so unless they happen to be living within a community with other older people, it can suddenly feel very lonely. They have lost the person who was by their side through every meal, walk and event for perhaps 50, 60, 70 years…..they might find themselves going to sleep and waking up alone for the first time in decades. A usual routine might become neglected, which could lead to a downward spiral of depression.

    Even if the couple have children and grandchildren, they are unlikely to want to be a burden, and after the initial support and care it’s likely that life will return to normal once the initial shock and period of grief has passed - there are jobs and school to attend and relationships to maintain after all. Life goes on.

    But for someone who has lost the person that they’ve loved the longest, life won’t be the same again...they might be angry at the world, frightened. Lost. If there is an elderly person in your life who has lost a spouse, remember to always be compassionate; the person they chose to go through life with is suddenly gone, and for them nothing will ever be the same again.

    For an older person who is struggling following the loss of a partner, at-home care can help - with chores, running errands, helping with self-care, or even just offering a friendly ear and some company. If you know someone who is elderly and would benefit from some extra help after losing their life-long partner, please give Care In Kent a call.

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  • 06/04/2021 - kim stevens 0 Comments
    The Importance Oral Care For The Elderly

    It’s probably not a surprise to learn that your oral health affects your overall wellbeing and quality of life, whatever your age - but for the elderly, the risk of poor dental health is greatly increased. This isn’t just because of the general wear and tear on teeth over time, which of course is part of it; there are some chronic illnesses, more likely to affect an older person - such as diabetes or heart disease - that can exacerbate or even create dental problems.


    It’s important for elderly people to receive regular dental care in order to prevent common issues like toothaches, tooth loss, or gum disease, and to continue being able to eat and enjoy food - but things like a lack of transport, physical disabilities, or conditions such as dementia could mean that an older person ends up neglecting their dental health, which could lead to bigger issues down the line.

    Here are some of the top reasons that dental care for the elderly should be considered a priority:


    Tooth Decay

    One of the reasons older people are more at risk of tooth decay is dry mouth. Common in seniors, and also a side effect of some drugs taken for asthma, high blood pressure, and depression, dry mouth affects the body’s production of saliva.

    Saliva is important in protecting the teeth from bacteria, which harms tooth enamel and causes cavities and tooth decay.

    Gum Disease

    An unfortunate side effect of gum disease is that there are no symptoms at all until the disease is already in the advanced stages. Two out of three over 65’s have gum disease, which causes sore or bleeding gums, problems with chewing, and eventually tooth loss.

    Tooth Loss

    One in 5 adults aged 65 and over have lost all of their teeth, and a huge reason why a lot of seniors aren’t getting enough nutrition from their diets is problems with eating caused by tooth loss.

    Heart Disease

    A lot of people don’t realise that poor oral health is linked to heart disease, but it is! Inflammation of the gums caused by gum disease increases the risk of heart disease, and can also make some existing heart conditions worse, as well as putting you at higher risk of a stroke.

    Diabetes

    Having diabetes can cause dental problems because high levels of glucose in saliva helps bacteria to grow in the mouth, contributing to tooth decay and gum disease.

    Pneumonia

    If you are older and have poor dental hygiene, then you are at greater risk of developing bacterial pneumonia. This is particularly true for smokers. This is because when you breathe any bacteria that is in the mouth can get into the lungs.

    Oral Cancer

    The elderly are more at risk of oral cancers, but regular dental check ups can spot the signs of this early. Again, it’s especially important for someone who smokes or chews tobacco to keep on top of their dental hygiene.

    Knowing some of the reasons why it’s so important for seniors to take care of their oral health is one thing, but how can we ensure that our older loved ones are doing all they can to look after their dental hygiene themselves?

    Set reminders - If an elderly loved one is forgetful, you might have to set reminders so that they brush their teeth regularly every day.

    The right type of brush - A soft electric toothbrush could make dental hygiene easier for an older person, especially if they are suffering arthritis or other mobility issues with their hands or wrists

    Regular flossing - flossing helps to prevent plaque and gum disease, and there are lots of tools on the market now that can assist with this if regular dental floss is fiddly or awkward for an older person

    Keeping dentures clean - It’s important that if an elderly person wears full or partial dentures, that they are cleaned every day, and that they are removed at night. As with regular brushing, it might be an idea to set a reminder for a loved one to help them with this

    Schedule regular appointments - regular dental appointments are necessary to keep teeth healthy and to prevent problems before they occur. It’s recommended to see a dentist at least once a year for cleaning and a check up

    Encourage a healthy diet - a diet that isn’t too high in sugar will help to prevent tooth decay as well as other health problems
    If you want to know more about ways to encourage an elderly loved one to look after their health, or how Care In Kent can help with all aspects of at-home care, please get in touch with a member of our dedicated team.

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  • 25/03/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Living With Alzheimer’s And Coping With The Death Of A Spouse

    We’ve already spoken about how hard it is to deal with the death of an elderly parent, and the toll it can take on the surviving partner. But if that surviving spouse is living with Alzheimer’s, it can take the grieving process to a whole other level. When someone has Alzheimer’s every day is different and unpredictable, and there’s no telling how a person might react to or cope with the news at any given time.


    Alzheimer’s can affect both short and long-term memory, making the grieving process even more complicated - a person with dementia might ask after people who died a long time ago (their parents for example) as well as a recently departed loved one - so it could be that you have to repeat the news that someone has died daily, or even several times a day, watching them react to fresh grief over and over again. Heartbreaking.

    Of course in the early stages of dementia memory loss and confusion might be mild, and so the changes that come about following the death of a spouse might be easier to manage. However in the more advanced stages of a disease like Alzheimer’s, trying to support your parent through the death of their loved one and the transition period that follows could be a lot more painful.

    Here are some tips that might help if you have to break the news that a spouse has died:

    Be patient. Repeating the news is going to no doubt be stressful and upsetting - particularly when you are also dealing with your own grief - so make sure you share this unpleasant task with other family members

    Tell them the news as soon as you can. If you don’t they might sense that something is wrong and this confusion could be detrimental to their condition

    Talk to them when they are well rested

    There’s no need to share too many details. Be concise and clear so that you avoid confusing them - use terms such as ‘died’ rather than ‘passed away’

    Speak to them about funeral arrangements if possible, perhaps assigning them a simple task which will make the death of their loved one seem more real. Make sure there’s someone who can support them at the funeral, and can take them out if it becomes too much

    When you’ve broken the news be sure to keep talking about the person in the past tense

    Remember to stay calm and not to take things personally

    The situation could be made even more difficult if the spouse who has died was the carer for the person with Alzheimer’s, and having to now change caregivers can cause some confusion, and might even make the symptoms of the disease worse. Having to find another caregiver for your elderly parent at this juncture in their lives might even change your relationship with them; they might feel angry or frustrated and take it out on you who, in turn, are also trying to deal with the grief and stress associated with the death of someone you love.

    It’s really important to remember that things won’t get better overnight, and that there’s going to be good days and bad days, so don’t try and cope with things all on your own. Call on other family members to help, or speak to us at Care In Kent about options such as respite care or for advice on facilities that specialise in the care of Alzheimer’s patients.

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  • Haunted by covid
    18/03/2021 - kim stevens 0 Comments
    Haunted By Covid How The Pandemic Is Affecting The Mental Health Of Care Workers

    Care workers, our most undervalued and overworked resource are some of the brave women and men who have been working on the frontline from day one of the coronavirus pandemic. Unable to work from home, and constantly living with the fear of being infected or infecting their loved ones, the past year has taken its toll on the mental health of care workers in more ways than one.


    Being constantly exposed to the potentially deadly COVID-19, and with cases of the virus skyrocketing in some areas, care workers are feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, anxious and burned out. A massive 93% of care workers admitted to experiencing stress; with 86% saying they had anxiety, 77% frustration, and 76% exhaustion. More than three quarters were worried about exposing their loved ones - in particular their children - to COVID, and huge percentages reported trouble sleeping, work-related dread, emotional exhaustion, physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach aches, and a worrying 56% had started questioning their career path.

    These worrying statistics show just how desperately care workers need emotional and practical support when it comes to working under these unprecedented conditions we’ve found ourselves in.

    But these are just numbers.

    Let’s look at the human stories; the toll that COVID-19, an invisible deadly foe has taken on our Care In Kent family. We are not the only ones of course, care workers all over the country will all have similar tales to tell. But this is ours.

    Guilt

    Guilt is the overriding emotion for many in the care profession, whatever the circumstances - guilt that we’re not doing enough for our clients, guilt that we spend a lot of time away from our homes and families...but during the pandemic these feelings are compounded and magnified.

    An extra element of guilt comes from those of us who aren’t on the frontline, who are instead having to shield in our offices or are fulfilling an administrative role from home. We are a family, and the thought that some members of our Care In Kent family are putting themselves at a higher level of risk by caring for clients everyday fills those of us who aren’t with anguish and guilt.

    Exhaustion

    Again, this goes without saying for people who work as carers - it’s an incredibly mentally, physically and emotionally demanding job - but add a potentially deadly virus into the mix and that exhaustion is taken to a whole other level.

    Being resilient and responsible in the face of such adversity is tiring….making sure that there is enough PPE, wearing masks all day, keeping to government guidelines of social distancing as well as possible - or not being able to when we are dealing with incredibly frail, elderly and vulnerable clients means we are constantly on high alert.

    And Yet We Keep Going…

    Our team keeps going. Those of us that can come in every day….we try to stay positive and lift each other’s spirits, and those in charge lead us with skill, grace and dignity. Nobody complains; even though we are all exhausted.

    We ache - our bodies and our hearts. We are tired, we are drained. We cry; in private and with each other. We are scared for our clients, for our families, for each other, and for ourselves. We are haunted by COVID-19 and its effects, but we are not victims, we are soldiers. We band together in strength and stand united in the path of this virus; we continue to care for our clients with the utmost compassion and professionalism - because it’s what we do and who we are.

    We are Care In Kent, and we will not be beaten.

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  • 08/03/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Coping As A Carer



    If you’re caring for a loved one, it’s understandable that your own wellbeing can be forgotten; your mental health can start to suffer, and the words, ‘self-care’ are just that - words. You might start to notice that when you speak to friends or family members they ask how the person you’re caring for is, but don’t often ask how you are...and that can start to take its toll after a while. 


    If you’re currently fulfilling a caring role for a loved one, Care In Kent have put together a guide on how to look after yourself and where you can get support if you need it.

    There are several challenges you may face as a carer; it’s a demanding job after all, and it’s no surprise that you feel overwhelmed sometimes.

    If you are caring for a loved one you might feel:

    Stressed Or Worried

    It’ll come as no surprise to learn that constantly tending to the needs of someone you love who is ill or vulnerable can leave you feeling stressed and worried. As well as constantly thinking about the impact their illness is having on your life as well as theirs, there’s the never ending list of duties that your role entails consuming your thoughts.

    Because of the need to constantly be ‘on’, a lot of carers find that it’s hard to ever switch off. This can lead to mood swings, trouble sleeping, and changes in eating habits which, over a period of time can end up having a negative impact on your mental health.

    Socially Isolated

    It’s not uncommon for carers to feel guilty for taking even one second for themselves, and as a result hobbies, friends and interests can end up falling by the wayside. Feeling that your life as a carer is so different to other people’s can leave you thinking that people don’t understand you, which can lead to you feeling lonely or isolated.

    Angry Or Frustrated

    Anger and frustration aren’t pleasant emotions to feel at the best of times, but to feel them as a result of caring for someone that you love can make you feel horribly guilty - especially if you end up directing those feelings at the person you’re caring for. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if you feel like this. It’s only natural that there’s going to be an element of it though; you might feel like you had no choice in becoming a carer or that you’ve had to put your own life on hold.

    Low Self-Esteem

    A knock-on effect of all of these challenges is the feelings of low self-esteem that can come from feeling that you yourself are not worthy of care and attention. Because you spend all your time focused on the person you are caring for, you might start to feel like you’re missing out on having a ‘normal’ life, and start to find it hard to interact socially with others.

    Learning To Look After Yourself

    Being a carer involves focusing on someone else’s needs before your own - A LOT - and so it can feel unnatural, maybe even selfish, to think about yourself and your own needs and wants. However, to avoid physical and mental health problems, it’s important to look after yourself too. If you are well then you’ll be able to provide good care and support for longer without getting overwhelmed; so the person you are caring for will benefit from your self-care just as much as you will.

    Steps you can take to be the best possible carer you can be and to avoid burning out are:

    Staying Healthy

    Eating well, getting enough sleep, and regular exercise are things we should all be doing - but when you’re devoting so much time and physical and emotional energy to looking after another person, then it’s even more important. The benefits of regularly eating nutritious food are obvious and well-documented, and getting enough sleep will help you cope with the day-to-day challenges faced by someone in a caring role and stave off stress and depression. Regular physical activity - even if it’s just a short walk - will help you to clear your head and give you a boost of feel-good hormones.

    Share Your Feelings

    Having someone to talk to about your feelings, especially if you find yourself struggling to cope is important for your mental health. Turn to someone you trust - a friend or family member - for support when you need it. Just having someone to vent to if you are feeling frustrated or like you’re not doing a good job can help you to put things into perspective and help you to ‘reset’ and start afresh.


    Any further questions about coping as a carer please don't hesitate to contact us here at Care In Kent. 

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  • 03/03/2021 - kim stevens 0 Comments
    Coping With The Death Of An Elderly Parent

    When we hear that an elderly person has died, we perhaps don’t experience the same level of disbelief as we do when someone younger has lost their life - especially if there has been some period of ill health beforehand. We hear phrases such as ‘they had a good innings’, or that they lived to ‘a ripe old age’...we might consider the fact that they lived a long and full life to be a comfort to their loved ones. And even though that might be true, if that elderly person is your mum or dad, there is no amount of preparation or words of comfort that can make losing them any easier.

    As horrible as it may sound, we expect that our parents will die before us - it is nature’s way, and I think we can all agree that it’s unthinkable to outlive our children - but coping with the death of an elderly parent can be a long and difficult road. After the initial shock there is a whole slew of arrangements and details that need to be sorted out - financial issues such as insurance and the will, organising a funeral, and helping a surviving parent to come to terms with what has happened.

    It can be stressful having to tell other family members and friends the news, sorting out paperwork and arranging time off work in order to sort out all the logistical details. You’ll probably find yourself having to put on a brave face, and putting your grief on hold while you comfort others - such as your children, who might not know how to handle losing a beloved grandparent.

    When someone you love dies, age doesn’t come into it - your heart is broken and your life is forever changed.

    Losing an elderly parent is a painful reality for many people, which is why Care In Kent have put together some tips to help make this transition a little easier.

    Show Understanding

    No two people grieve the same way, so it’s important to remember that you, your surviving parent, younger children, teenage children, and other family members might not process the loss in the way that you expect.

    Some people like to keep themselves busy; immerse themselves in work, school or their friends, and grieve in private. Others take on the role of clown - trying to raise the spirits of others to mask their own grief.

    Try not to feel angry or bewildered if this is the case. We need to have a zero-judgement policy when it comes to grief. Just because someone isn’t visibly emotional it doesn’t mean they aren’t grieving in their own way.

    Take A Break


    You don’t have to dive straight into the task of sorting through a parent’s belongings as soon as they have passed. Give yourself permission to breathe - it might be too painful to deal with that right now. Wait until you feel emotionally ready to look through and organise those valuable keepsakes.

    If a parent has died and there is more of a time limit to packing up their belongings - for example there is no surviving parent and their home is perhaps a council-owned property - there are storage facilities that you could use until the time comes when you feel ready to dedicate time to properly sorting through your parents things.

    Be Organised


    No one wants to start thinking or talking about money during such a difficult time as losing a parent, but the reality is that there will be important financial documents and bills that will need to be addressed.

    You can make the process easier on yourself by creating a space dedicated to dealing with the financial and legal matters, rather than having paperwork strewn across the dinner table. It’s a good idea to buy a binder or organiser to keep everything in so that you’re not losing important documents and adding to the stress.

    Look After Yourself

    Grief is exhausting, and if you’re busy looking after other grieving family members, and dealing with funeral details etc it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. You’re going to be physically, emotionally and mentally worn out, so set aside some time to do something to help you rest and reset - taking a walk, listening to some favourite music, or meditating can all be ways to focus on yourself for a moment.

    Talk

    For some, part of self-care might include speaking to a professional such as a counsellor or therapist in order to help process a parent’s death. They can help to develop coping mechanisms and strategies to deal with grief.

    Perhaps you feel skeptical about speaking to a stranger or worry that there is a stigma attached to seeking the help of a mental health professional - but this is not the time to think about keeping a stiff upper lip. If you have children who have just lost a grandparent it’s important to set an example by showing them that it’s ok to ask for help and to talk about your feelings. It’s ok to cry in the open, and to ask questions about death and dying; if your children see you doing that then they will too, which will help them to deal with their grief too.

    Don’t Worry About Unexpected Emotions

    Maybe your parent had been ill for a long time, or had reached an age older than you ever could have hoped; and if this is the case it could be that you had been considering the idea that you might lose them for some time.

    Just because your brain has already understood that life might soon come to an end it doesn’t mean that your heart has kept up, and so the rush of emotions will still be overwhelming.

    Perhaps you nursed your parent through an illness, or have visited them in a hospice; it could be that you have seen them suffering, or becoming someone you don’t quite recognise - or who doesn’t recognise you.

    Maybe one of the emotions you felt when they passed was relief.

    It doesn’t mean you are a bad person. Grief is not limited to one feeling, so don’t feel guilty for the range of emotions that you feel after losing a parent.

    Helping A Surviving Parent

    Your instinct when you lose a parent will be to support the emotional needs of the surviving parent. But there’ll be some logistical things to consider as well:

    Was the parent who passed the one who did all the driving or who cooked all the meals? Did they take care of their partner on a daily basis - helping them to wash or dress perhaps? Remind them to take medication? Organise the finances?

    Older people are more likely to have clearly-defined roles within their partnership; can the surviving parent comfortably take on the tasks and responsibilities of their partner who has passed?

    Do you live too far away from your surviving parent to visit often? Do you have a demanding job or home life that means you can’t help out as much as you would like? Are you worried about how your mum or dad will spend their time now?

    Organisations like Care In Kent can provide at home care and support, providing company, helping around the house or running errands. Don’t be afraid to ask for help - you don’t have to be alone in helping your surviving parent.

    Ultimately, take one day at a time - and be kind to yourself. Eventually grief will allow you to celebrate the life of your parent; you’ll smile, and even laugh, at wonderful memories that you will cherish always. Just give yourself time.


    If you need any support get in touch today!

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  • 23/02/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    How Technology Could Change The Lives Of The Elderly


    We’ve spoken recently about how advances in technology can improve the lives of both ourselves as we age, and our elderly loved ones. Smart devices and apps have changed the way we communicate, shop, and even answer the door - all of which can be hugely beneficial to an older person who is not as mobile or is living with a condition such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.

    But changes in technology offer so much more than just controlling and operating everyday objects around the home, and keeping in touch with our families. How is technology changing the lives of older people when it comes to being mobile, bathing, and travelling? Being able to continue doing these most basic of things independently for as long as possible is hugely important to older people, and technology is constantly evolving and being adapted to aid the elderly - both now, and in the future.

    Stairlifts

    Getting up and down the stairs is something we take for granted - until we’re suddenly too frail or immobile to do it anymore! Of course, stairlifts are nothing new; in fact, King Henry VII had one in the 16th century based on a rope and pulleys system, with the modern version being invented in the 1920’s, implementing rollers.

    Today, the introduction of straight, curved, and even outdoor stairlifts, have changed the way that older people can get around their homes, and there are even lifts that come with features such as perched seats and wireless remotes to make things even easier.

    All of this means that getting up and down the stairs is no longer a daily time-consuming struggle, and older people no longer have to consider living downstairs or perhaps moving into a ground floor property or bungalow when the stairs start to become a bit of a challenge.

    Walk-In Baths

    Something else we take for granted: a nice hot bath, but for an elderly person, being able to bathe comfortably and safely isn’t so easy. The worry ofslipping or struggling to get in and out of an ordinary bath can make maintaining personal hygiene difficult, but the creation of walk-in baths and showers has alleviated many of those fears and given older people some of their independence back.

    Many models have built-in powered seats that move up and down to help you get in and out, and are designed to be roomy and comfortable.

    Smart Clothing

    I’m not talking about just looking dapper - I’m talking about intelligent clothing that can detect health problems and prevent injuries through the use of technology.

    Socks seem to be the clever clothing of choice, with recent developments giving us Edema Socks that detect and notify the wearer of swollen feet - often a sign of health ailments, and SmartSox, for people with diabetes. SmartSox uses fibre optics to detect excessive pressure, heat and misplaced joint angles that can cause foot ulcers. This is particularly useful as diabetics can often lose the sensation in their feet, and might not be able to feel such changes.

    Not yet being manufactured, but heavily researched, is the idea that vibrating shoe insoles could prevent falls. Studies have determined that the insoles could improve the wearer’s balance and stability and make af all 70% less likely. Another technology that’s not in production yet, but is certainly in the pipeline is a shirt that can administer CPR. The shirt, that will be able to sense a heart attack and provide potentially life-saving treatment is a while off yet - but with shirts bearing sensors already on the market (used primarily by athletes), the basic technological know-how is already there, and it’s only a matter of time!



    Self-Driving Cars


    The stuff of science fiction, right? Well, as it turns out, you could be whizzing around in a self-driving car before you’re wearing a CPR-giving shirt!Older people dread the idea of having to give up driving - and for many, staying behind that wheel is the key to maintaining their independence. Self-driving cars are already in the testing stage and use sensors to evaluate the surroundings and software to do the actual driving.

    Predictions are that self-driving cars will be widely available within the next decade, and that they could be one of the best advances in technology to benefit older people.

    For the elderly, the world changing so rapidly around them can be frightening, but with those changes come new technologies and inventions that can make life easier and more enjoyable - both for our elderly loved ones now, and forfuture generations.

    If you want to know more about ways in which an elderly loved one can retain their independence in their own home right now, give our team a call and see how Care In Kent can help.

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  • 11/02/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    How Smart Technology Can Help You Stay Independent For Longer


    No one can deny that technology is a wonderful thing, but it seems to move so fast that it’s very easy to get left behind. However, it would be a mistake to think that smart technology is just the domain of the young; recent advances in the industry can be used to not only make your home more secure, but to help you (or an elderly loved one) to stay independent for longer.

    What Exactly Is Smart Technology For The Home?

    Smart gadgets, including phones, hubs and voice-controlled systems aren’t just for the lazy! - they can benefit everyone, especially the elderly or those with mobility issues.

    Using smart technology at home allows you to connect everyday devices to a WiFi network that can then be controlled using a central smart device such as a phone app, smart hub, or smart speaker.

    This means that you’ll be able to use that device as a sort of remote control for things such as light bulbs, thermostats, plugs, and some household appliances.

    How Can Smart Technology Help The Elderly?

    Smart technology is a great way to make your home more secure, as you can control the devices in your home even when you’re not there. For example, you could set lights or the radio to come on at a certain time so that it looks like someone is home...or you could even turn the heating on while you are out to ensure you come home to a toasty warm house!

    And that’s not all:

    Switching on lights, lamps, or reaching plug sockets can be a challenge for older people - particularly those who have mobility issues - but smart technology can take care of all of that for you.

    You can switch lights off once you’re already settled in bed, so no need to stumble about in the dark and risk tripping or falling.

    There are blinds that you can control from your home or smart speaker, and even kits available that you can add to the blinds you already have to make them smart!

    There’s also smart technology available that means a carer or family member can monitor the activity in your home. This can be particularly useful if an elderly loved one is perhaps living Alzheimer’s or dementia, and allows a relative to raise an alarm if there’s a problem.

    What Is A Smart Hub?


    A smart hub is used to control all of the smart devices in your home; some of the best ones allow you to set routines for your devices via an app on your smartphone so that you can just set everything for certain times and let it get on with it!

    For example, you could set your lights and radio to come on at 7am, and your blinds to open at 8. In the evening you could set the heating to go up a few degrees and the bulbs to dim a little - all without having to leave the comfort of your armchair - how’s that for convenience!

    Voice-Controlled Smart Hubs And Speakers

    Some older people might find using an app on a smartphone a bit daunting, or perhaps arthritis or other conditions mean that you no longer have the dexterity to use a touchscreen. If this is the case then a voice-controlled smart hub or smart speaker might be a better option.

    These literally do what they say on the tin and allow you to speak your command rather than tap it into a screen.

    You may already be familiar with some of the smart speakers available, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, or Apple’s Siri. All of these systems can be used to activate many of the most popular smart home devices. And they’re intuitive too, understanding the different ways of saying a range of commands - for example, the Amazon Echo knows you want your lights switched off whether you say, ‘turn the lights off’, ‘switch off’, ‘turn off’, or just ‘off’.

    These types of speakers are able to recognise different dialects and words, so if you or an elderly loved one has speech that perhaps isn’t completely clear, you or they should still be understood by the smart speaker.

    These ingenious devices also double as handy personal assistants; answering questions, giving you the latest news or weather forecast, playing music, or starting a phone call - perfect for those who have difficulty using a smartphone or computer, or simply don’t want to.

    So, whether via app or voice-command, smart devices for the home can be an absolute godsend for an older person who sometimes struggles with day to day tasks - but what smart gadgets do we recommend to get you started?

    The Best Smart Devices

    Smart Light Bulbs - There’s no need to worry about having new fixtures or fittings - smart light bulbs slot into your regular lamp and ceiling lights. You can turn them on, off, and dim them - even if your light doesn’t have a dimmer function!

    Smart Plugs - Sockets are almost always tucked away somewhere low down and awkward and require bending and reaching if you want to switch them off at the wall. Smart plugs can be switched off from an app, making switching the TV or radio off at the wall before bed a breeze.

    Smart Thermostats - These are slightly more complicated in that you have to have a compatible boiler and, if you don’t, having one installed that is compatible will be more expensive and not as simple to fit as say a bulb or a socket. Having said that, they do make adjusting the temperature in your home really quick and easy, using either an app or voice control (if you have the right smart hub).

    And What About Home Security

    Smart home security is so much more than setting timers for your smart bulbs - although of course this is an excellent deterrent to would-be thieves. Smart technology is constantly developing new ways to help you stay safe and independent in your own home for as long as possible.

    Such as:

    Smart Security Cameras

    It’s now possible for a wireless security camera to be connected to your home’s broadband and be accessed from anywhere in the world from your smartphone, tablet or PC.

    This is an ideal system for those who have elderlyloved ones that they perhaps can’t visit for whatever reason, to check that they’re ok when they’re by themselves or when they have carers or visitors coming in.

    Most of these types of camera are motion-sensing, and some have face-detection so that you can set ‘safe’ faces that won’t set off an alert.

    If you’re considering installing smart security cameras at the home of an elderly loved one, you might want to think about a system that has a built-in microphone and speaker so that you can hold conversations. There are even functions such as zoom lens and pan-and-tilt available, although these features rarely come as standard.

    Smart Doorbells

    These are the same as regular doorbells, except they come with a built-in camera and motion tracking sensors. You’ll be alerted by a loud ring or text when someone comes to your door (handy for the hard of hearing), and as most smart doorbells on the market allow for two-way communication, you’ll be able totalk to whoever’s there without having to go to the front door.

    For someone who is older and beginning to struggle with day-to-day tasks, installing smart gadgets is a good start to reclaiming some independence. If you want to know more about staying independent in your own home for as long as possible,get in touch with a member of our friendly and dedicated team.

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  • 05/02/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Helping An Elderly Loved One Manage Their Finances



    As those we love get older, there will most likely come a time when they need to rely on a trusted family member to manage their finances. More often than not this is a situation that occurs between children and their elderly parents, and It can be a tricky subject to bring up - you might feel uncomfortable talking about their finances, and they might not like the idea that you’re suggesting they need some help! 


    But, the truth is, that getting older brings with it many challenges - dealing with finances being one of them - and having support measures put in place, particularly for if there is ever a time that your loved ones won’t be able to make decisions on their own, will be beneficial to everyone.

    There are a few reasons that you might feel that your elderly relatives need help managing their finances, for example:

    -They are currently ill or in hospital and therefore temporarily unable to deal with their own finances

    -They’re starting to find all the details pertaining to finances overwhelming or confusing

    -They live with a condition such as dementia that affects their understanding and their capacity to make decisions

    -They suffer from a disability that makes things difficult; for example a mobility issue that means they can’t visit a bank or post office, or a problem with their sight or dexterity which makes reading or signing paperwork difficult.

    It’s important to remember that for a lot of people, getting older can feel like losing control of your life little by little, and your elderly parents or loved ones will want to stay in charge of their own finances and hard-earned money for as long as possible, so it could just be a case of doing a mini checklist regarding their wishes - just in case - rather than taking over.

    For example:

    -Where do they keep important paperwork?

    -Who do they bank with?

    -Do they have future plans for savings or investments?

    -Where do they keep their savings?

    There’s no need to ask an elderly loved one for their account passwords or PIN number - especially as accessing someone else’s account is actually a criminal offence - but it is a good idea, if you involved in managing their money, to know how much they have in their current account, and to perhaps discuss with them transferring some into savings. That way, if they were to fall victim to a scam, for example, or even lose their debit card while out shopping, the stress and upset is minimised.

    But what if just being in the know isn't enough? What if they need more hands-on help?

    what other things can you do to ensure that your elderly loved one’s finances are well-looked after?

    Suggest Setting Up A Power of Attorney

    A power attorney is a written authorisation that gives someone the power to act on another person’s behalf in business or private affairs. If your parents or relative appoint you power of attorney you’ll be able to manage their day to day finances if they are unable to do it themselves.

    The power of attorney doesn’t have to come into force right away, but setting it up while your loved one has a mental capacity is very important in order to avoid a much more lengthy and complicated legal process in the future.

    Of course, until a power of attorney needs to be actioned there are other ways you can help an elderly loved one to manage their finances. With their permission you could:

    Set Up A Third-Party Mandate

    A third-party mandate tells a bank that they can accept instruction from a named person who isn’t the account holder, but is acting on their behalf.

    If your loved one appoints you as the ‘third party’, you’ll be able to operate the account on your relative’s behalf; make calls and query statements, but you won’t be able to arrange an overdraft or open or close an account.

    Set Up A Joint Account

    Another idea is to set up a new joint account with your loved one so that you both have access when it comes to managing the account or sorting out any problems. Be aware though that you'll be jointly liable for any debts, as well as both liable to pay any income tax or inheritance tax.

    Managing bank or building society accounts are only one aspect of finances that you might, in time, have to take care of for an elderly relative. Another is helping with the payment of household bills.

    Helping To Pay Bills

    For older people, keeping up with the payment of utility bills and council tax etc can be an additional worry - especially if they rely on paying in person at the post office or by cheque. If they live with a condition such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, some bills might get forgotten which can lead to debts and extra stress and confusion.

    You can help simplify the process by helping to set up direct debits for bill payments or volunteering to go and make those payments for them.

    Setting Up Direct Debits

    Some companies offer discounts if bills are paid by direct debit, so if an older relative isn’t keen on the idea at first you might be able to persuade them by pointing out that they can save money - it’s also a great way to spread the cost which can help with budgeting, particularly if they are on a limited income.

    Your loved one can set up a direct debit by contacting their service providers and requesting a direct debit mandate form to complete and sign. It will be much easier to keep track of bills and to ensure that they are all paid on time - not to mention they won’t have to worry about getting themselves to a post office if they are unwell, the weather is bad, or if they have mobility issues.

    You Could Act As A Third Party

    Utility companies will normally only speak to the person named on the account, but if your relative contacts their provider and explains that they give permission for a third party to deal with the account on their behalf, you’ll be able to take care of the bills and speak to them about any problems without becoming liable for any money that is owed.



    With a little help, an older person can retain control over their finances even if they are sometimes confused about payment processes or struggle to remember key details about payments such as amounts and dates.

    If you want to know more about caring for an elderly loved one in their own home, and what things you can do to make things easier, please get in touch with us at Care In Kent and find out what we can do to help.

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  • 01/02/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Creating A Dementia-Friendly Environment: A Guide


    For those living with dementia, everyday tasks - such as those around the home - can be challenging and, at times, frustrating. As the condition progresses it can become even more difficult to remember, understand, and process the information required to navigate the day-to-day, and this confusion can be compounded and heightened if an older person with dementia has to move out of the home they know and love.


    If someone you love is living with dementia, how can you help shape their environment so that they are able to remain in the home they know and love for as long as possible?

    Care In Kent have put together these tips for creating a dementia-friendly environment to ensure that your loved one can continue to enjoy their home safely for a long time to come.

    Remove Clutter

    It might sound obvious, but if there’s a lot of clutter it can be difficult for someone who is living with dementia to focus on finding the items that they want or need to use. It doesn’t take long for confusion or frustration to set in, or for someone to become distracted from the task at hand.

    You can help make life easier for an older person by clearing away any unnecessary items - either by simply helping to tidy up, or by helping to find new storage solutions that will make finding what they want, when they want it, much easier.

    Consider Colours And Patterns

    Highly patterned decor can be very visually confusing for an older person with dementia, making things harder to see. Clashing patterns can provide too much visual stimulation and can make someone who is already easily confused agitated.

    On the other hand, contrasting colours can be helpful for someone with dementia; helping them to easily pick out useful objects. Something as simple as buying crockery in a contrasting colour to the placemats (white on red for example), or painting the toilet door in a contrasting colour to the frame or wall can make a huge difference to the day-to-day life of someone with dementia.

    Think About Signs

    On ‘bad’ days, or as the symptoms of dementia worsen, an older person might find it difficult to even remember where things are kept in their own home.

    Simple one-word signs; ‘FOOD’ on the fridge, or maybe even pictures - a toilet on the bathroom door for example - could be really useful in helping someone with dementia find everything they need within their own home.

    Make Sure There Are Photos

    Anything that encourages reminiscing and positive memories, such as photos or mementos from the past, will help create a calming and pleasant environment for an elderly loved one.

    If they don't already have family photos out, perhaps you can get some put into frames as a gift - pictures of themselves when they were younger, or maybe even pictures of their parents and siblings can evoke particularly pleasant memories and can be comforting to someone who is living with dementia.

    Make The Bathroom Dementia-Friendly

    The bathroom can be a challenge to navigate for an older person with Alzheimer’s or dementia as there are lots of (often) white shiny surfaces in a relatively small space. But you can help make things easier by adding a colour-contrasting toilet seat or toilet seat cover to make the toilet stand out - possibly a seat that is raised and has arms if an older loved one has mobility issues.

    A visible target inside the toilet bowl might be useful for an older man to ensure an easier clean up for carers, and it’s also an idea to clearly label the taps as ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ to minimise accidents and injuries.

    Make The Kitchen Dementia-Friendly

    Making sure the kitchen is clutter-free, and keeping items that an older person uses regularly visible and within easy reach on the kitchen work surfaces, will prevent someone with dementia from having to constantly open and close cupboard doors and drawers to look for things.

    Removing cupboard doors or replacing them with glass ones can make it easier when it comes to locating smaller items like crockery and utensils.

    Hiding Some Items

    Often, for someone with dementia, out of sight is out of mind, and if your loved one has become fixated on something like feeding or walking a pet for example, just telling them they only need to be fed and walked twice a day might not be enough.

    You might have to lock away pet food and leashes when not needed in order to prevent an overfed (or exhausted!) dog, until the time that those things are really needed.

    There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia - the illnesses progress at different rates and the symptoms present themselves differently for everyone - but the evidence is clear that when it comes to managing the conditions, older people do better when they are able to remain in an environment in which they feel safe and comfortable.

    If you want to know more about caring for an elderly loved one at home, whether they have dementia or not, please get in touch and speak to a member of our dedicated and professional care team about how we can help.

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  • 18/01/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Checking On The Elderly This Winter: How You Could Save A Life


    With recent news reports suggesting that potential snowfall across the UK during the coming
    months could affect supermarket food deliveries, the list of potential dangers the elderly are
    facing this winter keeps on growing. Add the continuing threat of COVID-19 into the mix and
    it’s more important to keep an eye on the older members of our community than ever.



    We’ve already provided some top tips for caring for the most vulnerable members of our
    community during the winter period in a previous article:
    https://www.careinkent.co.uk/b/keeping-an-eye-on-elderly-neighbours-during-the-winter-months

    but what else can we do to ease the suffering that many seniors face as the
    temperature drops?



    Research carried out by Independent Age shows that 57% of people over 65 don’t feel
    comfortable shopping in a supermarket - and that was carried out before the pandemic! With
    over 65’s more at risk from the virus, this percentage has no doubt increased, and although
    some supermarkets initially offered free priority slots for those more at risk, the easing of
    restrictions in August saw the reintroduction of delivery charges and minimum spends for
    most supermarkets. Older people reported high levels of concern about social distancing,
    crowding, and safety measures in supermarkets, meaning many over 65’s ended up paying
    more to access food safely by shopping online.



    And let’s not forget those who are unable to shop online; who perhaps haven’t been eating
    proper meals - or indeed any meals! - in order to stretch out what they have in the cupboards
    and avoid the stresses and expense of doing a shop.

    Shop For A Neighbour



    Queues, crowds and panic-buying are now all-to-common elements during our weekly shop,
    but imagine how much more frightening and stressful that must be if you are an elderly
    person who perhaps cannot move as quickly, or is confused as to why they can’t find what
    they need on the supermarket shelves.



    They might not have the mobility or the capacity to get to the next nearest supermarket if
    their local one is out of loo rolls. Perhaps they don’t have family living nearby who can drop
    in a spare pint of milk or loaf of bread when supplies are scarce.



    Some members of older generations don’t feel comfortable asking for help, so offering to
    shop for an elderly neighbour would probably be very gratefully accepted. You don’t have to
    make a special trip if it’s not convenient, you can incorporate it into your own weekly shop,
    and you probably won’t find that it adds a lot of time onto your trip….. It’s likely that you’ll
    only be shopping for a household of one or two people, and as older people tend to buy less
    food in a week than a younger person, couple, or family, it’s doubtful that you’ll find yourself
    trailing around the supermarket for an extra hour on a Saturday morning!



    Delivering the groceries is possible by following the correct guidelines; wearing masks,
    gloves, social distancing, and sanitising your hands; or your neighbour might be more
    comfortable with you leaving it on the doorstep for them to take in themselves. Either way,
    this relatively small gesture could ensure that someone doesn’t go hungry this winter, and
    could do a lot to help alleviate an older person’s feelings of anxiety or stress.



    Help Them Online



    It could be that you get your shopping delivered yourself. Are you able to do the same for an
    elderly neighbour? Despite recent rises in the number of over 65’s who use the internet over
    the last couple of years, there is still a high percentage of those over the age of 75 who don’t
    - for a variety of reasons including cost and ill health. Offering to do an online shop for a
    neighbour could relieve them from a lot of worry; and you don’t even have to leave your
    home to do it!

    How To Save A Life In 10 Minutes



    Of course it’s not just the shopping that could be an issue this winter. When we’re younger
    and in good health we take it for granted that even during the coldest of weather we’ll be ok;
    running upstairs to stick another jumper on is no big deal, nor is getting up and putting the
    heating on or going to get a hot cuppa. But if you’re older and suffering with mobility issues
    that leave you unable to go up and down the stairs or easily prepare food and hot drinks it’s
    much more of a challenge.



    If you have an elderly friend or neighbour, why not pop by and check if they need anything this winter

     - whilst following government guidelines for social distancing of course!



    ● Are they staying warm enough - especially at night?
    ● Do they have enough food and medications in the house?
    ● Is their smoke alarm working ok?
    ● Do they have an open fire or use a portable heater? - ask if they have a grate and
    remind them not to sit too close
    ● Advise them to shut the curtains at night to keep the heat in and to wear several thin
    layers instead of one thick one.



    Just taking 10 minutes out of your day to check that an older person is ok really could save
    someone’s life, and your kindness will most likely be gratefully received.


    If you’re concerned about an elderly neighbour or relative, especially if they’re not taking you
    up on any offers of help, or you’re concerned for their safety, charities such as Age UK can
    help www.ageuk.org.uk


    If you want to know more about how to look out for the elderly this winter, or you feel that an
    elderly loved one might need some at home care during the winter months, please get in

    touch and a member of our dedicated team would be happy to help.

    Read More
  • 12/01/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Protecting The Elderly From Scammers


    Anyone can become a victim of fraud - whatever their age - and in this brave new world of
    technology they can come into our homes without even crossing the threshold - thanks to
    the phone, emails and text messages. Most of us have encouraged our elderly loved ones to
    embrace these new methods of communication; they can be essential tools in staving off
    loneliness and staying in touch with friends and family….but how can we protect them from
    scammers who use this technology to prey on the vulnerable?
    Reports tell us that in the UK, 43% of those over 65 believe they have been targeted by
    scammers - that’s almost 5 million people! And worse, it’s estimated that only around 5% of
    these crimes are ever reported, due to older people feeling ashamed or embarrassed that
    they were scammed.
    Whether your elderly loved ones are independent enough to manage their own finances, or
    whether you or someone else is managing it for them, it’s important to know the risks that
    are out there - and how to protect against them!



    What Types Of Scams Are Out There?



    Scammers are adept at getting hold of personal and financial information, and there are a
    number of ways in which they do this, including:

    Phone Scams - A scammer will call a potential victim and pretend to be calling from a
    reputable company such as a bank or credit card company. Sometimes they’ll add insult to
    injury by pretending to be a scam protection call and will act as if they are calling in your best
    interest.
    Tell an elderly relative that if they receive such a call, and believe it could be genuine, to ask
    the person on the phone if they can call them back. An employee from a legitimate company
    won’t mind at all! Then, find the company’s official number rather than calling them back on
    the same number they called you from. If a company has legitimately called you, you’ll be
    able to continue the call from there.
    But be warned - some sneaky scammers won’t hang up when you do, and instead play a
    dial tone, essentially tricking you into thinking it’s a new call. But guess who answers!?
    To safeguard yourself from this I recommend you either don’t call back straightaway, or,
    better yet, call from another phone. If you have to use the same phone then call someone
    else first (friend/relative), that way if your ‘credit card company’ answers, your suspicions
    will be confirmed!



    EMail Or SMS Scams - The same as a phone scam but via an email or text - and trust me
    when I say that the email scams in particular can look VERY convincing! Common ones
    include SKY TV, banks and building societies, and the HMRC - who will NEVER contact you
    via email or text - only by letter.
    Make sure elderly relatives don’t click on links sent via email or texts, and instead find the
    company’s official contact details via Google or from any official postal correspondence, and
    give them a call to check the email or text’s authenticity.
    Also look out for poor grammar and spelling in emails - or any that start with ‘Dear Sir or
    Madam’ - that’s a huge red flag!



    Romance Scams - These are particularly cruel scams that deliberately prey on someone’s
    loneliness, and more often than not an older person. Does an elderly loved one use social
    media such as Facebook? Are they members of online forums for their hobbies and
    interests? Or do they use sites with the intention of meeting people for friendship or
    romance? If so, they need to be aware that scammers lurk in all these places too!
    It could start out innocently enough - a few online chats, maybe an exchange of phone
    numbers...but soon requests for money start - just a few quid here and there at first to ‘help
    out’, then before you know it your elderly father is paying for someone’s plane ticket with the
    intention of meeting them and living happily ever after. Except they never show.
    Heartbreaking - and often - bankbreaking!
    Of course we don’t want our loved-ones to stop going online - it can be a lifeline for many
    people - but remind them that if something (or someone!) seems too good to be true, it
    normally is, and even if you really feel that you’ve made a friend, never send money or give
    out your bank details. There are literally dozens of cases of older people being scammed
    out of hundreds of thousands of pounds, when they thought they had found friendship or
    love.



    What Are Some Of The Signs To Look For?



    Scammers and their tactics vary, but some key things to tell your elderly loved-ones to look
    out for include:
    ● Someone who can’t provide proof that they are who they say they are.
    ● Someone asking for personal information such as passwords or bank details
    ● Someone who calls regularly and becomes aggressive when told you’re not
    interested in what they’re selling/offering - and particularly if they become angry when
    you ask if you can call them back or speak to someone in charge.



    What Should You Do If Your Loved-One Gets Scammed?



    ● First of all reassure them that there is no need to be embarrassed - anyone can fall
    victim to scammers, age is irrelevant. And that second of all - the scam needs to be
    reported.
    ● Get together a log of all the phone calls that have been received, as well as all the
    emails and text messages as evidence. Contact the bank and any credit card
    providers - their fraud teams will be able to help you stop any outgoing payments,
    and, depending on the type of scam, possibly even get some of your money back.
    ● Get them to check their credit score to make sure there aren’t any changes due to
    suspicious activity they might not be aware of.
    ● Report the scam to the police - you can do this anonymously through their ActionFraud website 

    or by calling the Action Fraud hotline.



    Staying vigilant is our best defence against fraud, and if we have elderly loved-ones then we
    need to stay vigilant for them too to stop scammers from taking advantage.


    If you have any concerns or questions, dont hesitate to contact us.

    Read More
  • 12/01/2021 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    End Of Life Care: Making An Advance Decision



    An advance decision, sometimes known as a living will or ADRT (Advance Decision to
    Refuse Treatment), allows you to let those around you, such as your family and your carers,
    know your wishes if you become too ill while receiving end of life care to communicate with
    your health team.
    At a time when it feels like everything is out of your control, making an advance decision
    about your end of life care - perhaps to refuse any more treatment - means that you can
    continue to make decisions about thecare you receive, and retain some independence.
    Any treatment you wish to refuse must be named in your advance decision, and you also
    need to be clear under which circumstances you want to refuse treatment. This is because
    you might want to forgo treatment in some situations, but not others.
    It’s important to know that making an advance decision is not the same thing as asking
    someone to end your life, or to help end your life - euthanasia and assisted suicide are both
    illegal in England.



    Who Makes An Advance Decision?



    So long as you have the mental capacity to make such decisions, making an advance
    decision is yours, and yours alone, to make, but you can talk to your healthcare team about
    the kinds of treatments you might be offered and what it would mean if you refused them.
    If you do want to refuse life-sustaining treatments your advance decision needs to be written
    down and signed by both you and a witness.
    You’ll also need to include a statement that your advance decision applies even if it puts
    your life at risk.



    What Is Life-Sustaining Treatment?



    A life-sustaining treatment is one that will potentially keep you alive by replacing or
    supporting bodily functions.
    This includes:
    ● Antibiotics that help your body to fight infections
    ● Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which is used if your heart stops

    ● Ventilation, used if you can’t breathe by yourself

    Before you make up your mind to refuse any of these life-sustaining treatments, you might
    want to discuss it with a doctor or nurse who knows your medical history.



    Is An Advance Decision Legally Binding?



    As long as your advance decision complies with the Mental Capacity Act in that it can’t be
    proved that you are unable to make the decision for yourself, and it applies to the situation at
    hand, it is legally binding.
    This means that your advance decision takes precedence over any decisions made in your
    best interest by other people - in other words, it can’t be overridden by a well-meaning loved
    one or healthcare professional.
    The advance decision also has to be considered ‘valid’, meaning that:
    ● You are aged 18 or over and you were able to understand and communicate your
    decision to those around you when you made it.
    ● You have clearly specified the types of treatment you want to refuse.
    ● You have explained the circumstances in which you want to refuse treatment
    ● It has been signed by you - and a witness - vital if you want to refuse life-sustaining
    treatment such as CPR
    ● You haven’t been harassed into making the decision - it has to have been made of
    your own accord
    ● You haven’t said anything that contradicts the advance decision since you made it,
    for example saying that you have changed your mind.



    What Happens Next?



    Once you have fulfilled all the criteria to make your advance decision a legal binding
    document, it gives your healthcare team medical and legal instructions about your treatment.
    The advance decision will then be used if in the future you aren’t able to make decisions
    about your treatment.



    Who Should I Show My Advance Decision To?



    Once you have made an advance decision it is up to you who knows about it - but to ensure
    it’s carried out you’ll have to make sure that your carers and other members of your
    healthcare team know that you have made ones - and tell them where to find it. It’s a good
    idea to keep a copy with your medical records.
    It’s also a good idea to let your family know. Loved ones might find that fact that you have
    made such a decision difficult to process at first, so discussing your wishes with them means
    that they won’t be upset to discover that you’re refusing treatment if and when the time
    comes.



    Is Refusing CPR The Same Thing As ‘Do Not Resuscitate’?



    In a word, yes. CPR is treatment that attempts to start someone breathing again after they
    have gone into respiratory arrest, or to start the blood flowing to the heart again after a
    cardiac arrest. This type of treatment involves chest compressions or electrical shocks to
    stimulate the heart, or artificial ventilation.
    For some people CPR will be of no benefit, it will depend largely on a patient’s overall health,
    and why their heart or breathing has stopped. 2 out of 10 people survive CPR carried out in
    hospital, but the success rate is lower for those who receive CPR in other settings.
    Even if CPR is successful, it can lead to serious complications such as brain damage,
    fractured ribs, or damage to the liver or spleen. This is often part of the reason someone who
    is receiving end of life care makes an advance decision to refuse the treatment.



    Someone receiving end of life care will feel that the choices they have left to make are very
    precious, and someone you love who wants to make an advance decision about refusing
    treatment isn’t doing it for any reason other than they want to be in control of how their life
    ends. It can be upsetting for family members who will be left behind, but for a person who is
    nearing the end of their life it can be a comfort to know that they are valued and loved
    enough that their wishes will be honoured in the end.


    Any queeries or concerns, we can help - dont hesitate to contact us.

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  • 07/12/2020 - kim stevens 0 Comments
    Keeping Warm and Well This Winter

    We all know how important it is for older people to stay warm in the winter; as we age we are less able to fight off viruses as our immune systems become weaker. The cold can affect an older person’s circulation and heart, and make other health conditions harder to manage.

    This year, of course, we also have the coronavirus to consider, which we know can have more impact on the health of the elderly than on other social groups.

    So what can we do to ensure that our elderly loved ones, and the older members of our community stay well this winter?

    Read More
  • 30/11/2020 - kim stevens 0 Comments
    Caring For The Elderly: Care For Couples

    An older couple who have been together for 30, 40, 50+ years have been through everything together. They’ve been each other's support systems and best friends, they’ve shared experiences and memories, and no doubt plan to see out their days as they have always been: together. 


    But what happens if one of them needs specialised care? And what if we add the extra complication of a condition such as dementia into the mix? It might seem that the only option is for one of them to go into a care home.

    Imagine that this elderly couple are your parents or grandparents? How would they cope with this separation? Would the parent who remains at home be able to cook, clean and keep the house in order by themselves? Would the condition of the parent who has gone into a home deteriorate because of separation anxiety? Would they suffer from depression and stress?

    Luckily, care homes are no longer the only option for an older person who needs extra care and support; there are alternatives that will allow an elderly couple to continue to live together.

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  • 23/11/2020 - kim stevens 0 Comments
    Caring For Those With Dementia At Christmas: A Guide

    With the coronavirus pandemic still raging on with no end in sight, the Christmas period is already shaping up to be very different this year for most of us. With some people shielding, and large gatherings out of the question due to social distancing issues, the likelihood is that Christmas will bring a new set of stress and worries with it this year.

    But for those who will be celebrating the holidays with someone who lives with dementia, there’s a whole host of things to take into consideration besides COVID-19. Someone with dementia will feel comfortable in their familiar surroundings, even if their memory is failing - but a sudden increase in people at the dinner table, a christmas tree, presents, and decorations suddenly appearing could cause confusion and upset.

    We’ve put together some of our top tips to ensure that your loved one who is living with dementia can enjoy the festive period with the rest of their family.

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  • 02/11/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Managing Diabetes In The Elderly: A Guide

    If you are carer, the chances that at some point you’ll be looking after someone who is living with diabetes is high. In fact, the condition affects 1 in 4 over 65’s, and so making lifestyle choices that keep blood sugar levels healthy is essential.

    Diabetes is often referred to as a ‘silent disease’ as, worryingly, symptoms often don’t present until something goes very wrong, and long-term complications from uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart attacks and strokes, kidney failure, blindness and more.

    If you are caring for someone who is living with diabetes - maybe a loved-one - then it’s likely that you are helping them to manage their condition, which can be a daunting prospect even for a professional.

    Care In Kent have compiled this guide to managing the disease and helping you to support those in your care to ensure they have the best quality of life possible.

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  • 28/10/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    A Guide To Respite Care

    You’ve no doubt heard of the term ‘respite care’, but do you know exactly what it entails, or how it can benefit you if you are caring for an elderly loved one? Short-term respite care is in high demand, and we know how important these breaks are for both the carer AND the person being cared for.

    We’ve put together a guide on respite care; explaining the different types available, and looking at how it can help you better fulfil your role as a carer for someone you love.

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  • 27/10/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    What Are The Signs That An Aging Loved One Needs Support?

    When the time comes that an elderly relative - maybe your parents or grandparents - feel that they need some support due to age-related problems, it’s very unlikely that you’ll hear it from them! For people who have always been strong and healthy, have worked hard and played harder, as well as looked after their own families, it’s not easy to admit that you need help, and so the responsibility falls to their family to recognise the signs.

    Older people want to be able to remain independent for as long as possible, and to feel that they are in control of their own lives. It’s important that options such as introducing care at home, moving into a residential home, or even the simple step of hiring a cleaner, are all discussed well in advance of the support actually being needed. That way your loved-one won’t feel that all the decisions are being taken out of their hands and made for them.

    Whether you’ve openly discussed future care options or not, it’s important to know what the signs are when it comes to whether or not it’s time for help at home or an increased level of care….

    Mobility Levels Change

    Simply observing how well your elderly loved one can move around and perform everyday tasks will give you a good indication of whether or not they need any extra help. Have you noticed that they seem to have more difficulty walking recently? Is going shopping becoming more and more of a struggle? Maybe a mobility aid would help them to continue getting out and about and maintain their independence for a little longer; but it could be that some at home care would be beneficial. 


    Further reading: Fall prevention guide

    Is driving becoming more of a challenge for your loved one? Is it hard work to run the vacuum round? Having someone run simple errands or even come in and do some light housework could be a god send - but still allows your relative to have independence and control over their lives.

    Any New Injuries?

    It’s no surprise that as we age we are more susceptible to injuries, and even the smallest knock or bump could cause us more problems as we become older and more frail. Have you noticed bruises, marks or burns on an older loved one?

    If it seems to be a common occurrence rather than a one off it could indicate that they are struggling with balance, failing eyesight, or even memory loss. Burns could mean that cooking safely is becoming a problem, which of course adds a whole other layer of precautions that need to be taken. Perhaps a meal delivery service a few times a week would be helpful, or some support at home while they continue to cook for themselves.

    Sometimes an increase in falls and injuries can be a sign of dementia, and so it’s always a good idea to seek the advice of a healthcare professional if you know or suspect that an elderly person is becoming injured on a regular basis.

    Problems With Food

    We’ve already mentioned the difficulties that the elderly might face when it comes to preparing their own meals, but maybe they are missing meals altogether! This could be down to forgetting to eat or maybe even financial problems.

    It could be that their partner used to do all the cooking, but now they’ve passed….or maybe your elderly relative has always cooked for everyone else and now that they’re on their own they simply can’t be bothered.

    Home care can provide support in the kitchen if your loved one needs assistance, or even someone to prepare and cook the meals for them. If you think that financial problems might be the issue you could encourage your relative to speak to an organisation such as Age Concern, or perhaps you could contact them on their behalf.

    Signs such as extreme weight loss should be checked out by a doctor in order to rule out any illnesses or age-related dietary issues.

    Changes In Personal Hygiene

    As we get older issues such as forgetfulness, injury, or conditions like arthritis can make washing and ironing clothes, doing our hair, and even washing ourselves a struggle. Have you noticed that an elderly relative isn’t taking care of their personal appearance in the same way they used to? Are clothes dirty and creased? Are nails and beards going untrimmed?

    If this is that case it’s probably embarrassing to admit that keeping themselves clean and tidy is becoming a challenge, so approach the subject gently. Again, homecare can be a big help here - not only with helping with the laundry, but also with helping with personal hygiene.

    It might take some persuading for an elderly relative to admit they need help with bathing etc, but those who work in home care always assist their clients with the utmost respect and compassion.

    Behaving Unusually

    Changes in behaviour such as confusion or paranoia can be a sign of declining mental health. If someone you love is exhibiting these tendencies, or is having difficulty in communicating, speak to a GP as soon as possible for a full health assessment. It could be that extra care and support is required even if your relative is physically very well and independent.

    Not Managing Their Medication

    It can be difficult to remember to take medications at the best of times, but for an elderly person it can be even more so! This can be particularly worrying if they are taking medications for a chronic illness or condition such as diabetes or epilepsy.

    Setting alarms or you telephoning to remind them could work for some; for others it might be that extra support is needed in the form of home care coming to ensure that medication is taken correctly and on time.

    Neglecting Their Finances

    If you’re noticing that unpaid bills are starting to mount or that an elderly relative is suddenly spending money in ways they wouldn’t normally, it could be a sign that some extra support is needed. Maybe they’re forgetting when certain payments have to be made...or they don’t recall making certain purchases and don’t remember spending money. Any signs that indicate memory loss and the onset of dementia should be reported to a GP.

    A doctor can explore care options with you and your loved one and help you to identify what type of care is needed - and that doesn’t necessarily mean being carted off to a home! Support at home could be something as simple as someone popping for a cuppa and a chat, helping to tidy up, or helping with a weekly shop, so that your relative can maintain and enjoy their independence for a long time to come.

    If you want more information on at home care, or if you want to know more about the signs that might mean a loved one needs more care and support, please contact us at Care In Kent and a member of our team will be happy to help you.

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  • 25/10/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Caring For Someone With Dementia: Coping With Guilt

    Caring - in any capacity - can really take its toll on your emotions, and It goes without saying that when it comes to caring for someone with dementia, coping with those emotions can be even more challenging.

    One of the most common (and completely normal!) emotions to feel is guilt. Guilt that you’re not doing a good enough job of caring for your loved one. Guilt that you’re not accepting the help that’s been offered. Guilt that you sometimes feel overwhelmed, frustrated...angry even..

    If you are caring for someone who is living with dementia, it’s important that you recognise any feelings of guilt you may have so that you can find ways to work through those emotions. Hiding your feelings will make things ten times worse for everyone!

    Our article takes a look at some of the most common sources of guilt in carers for dementia patients, and suggests some measures for managing these feelings.

    ‘I’m Not Good At This’

    It’s perfectly normal to feel that other people might be coping with the role of carer better than you are. Often, if you speak to other carers or read about their experiences, it can seem that everyone is coping a lot better than you. What’s their secret?

    The truth is, there isn’t one. There’s no such thing as being a ‘perfect carer’, so don’t be too hard on yourself! Other carers will, like you, have days where they cope well, and days where it all seems too overwhelming.

    If you are caring for a loved one who has dementia, be realistic about what you can achieve. It might be a case of having to accept more help; or ask for it - let your family and friends know that you’re struggling and give them the opportunity to help you out.

    ‘I Didn’t Know They Had Dementia!’

    Sometimes, feelings of guilt come from the memory of how you treated a person before they were diagnosed with dementia. Maybe you were critical, or got irritated with them, and now that you know why their behaviour was so frustrating you feel terrible!

    Again, don’t be too hard on yourself; we all get annoyed with people we love sometimes, and you weren’t to know that they had dementia. It can be very difficult to understand the changes that are brought about by the condition, but they can have a profound effect on someone’s behaviour and demeanour. The more you learn about the condition, the more you’ll understand it, which will help alleviate those guilty feelings.

    ‘I Still Get Irritated Now’

    Caring for another person can be very stressful, and if you add a condition such as dementia into the mix that can increase ten fold! Maybe you’ve had angry outbursts towards your loved one and you find it hard to forgive yourself afterwards.

    Feelings of frustration are normal in this situation, and it can help to learn some meditation or breathing techniques to help you cope. Another tip is to take some time for yourself to do something you enjoy; ask a relative to take over for a couple of hours, or employ some respite care, and be ‘just you’ for a while. Take a long hot bath, read a book, meet a friend for coffee...this time away will help you to feel happier and less stressed.

    There could be times when it’s not possible to take a few hours for yourself, so if you feel yourself getting angry or frustrated, try to just leave the room briefly - take a few deep breaths and reset before you return.

    ‘I Feel Guilty For Wanting Time Away’

    You shouldn’t! Everybody needs time to relax and recharge - and for carers it’s so important to spend some time away from the caring role. You’ll find that having some time away from your loved one will make you feel much more positive when you return, and therefore better able to care for them.

    ‘I Don’t Like Accepting Help’

    Caring for someone who has dementia is exhausting, even if it’s someone you love very much. You might feel that you should be able to care for your parent/grandparent/spouse etc without any outside help - after all, you know them best and are quite capable, thank you very much!

    Remember that it’s not about being capable - it’s about looking after yourself too, so that you can fulfil your role as carer to the best of your ability. Accepting and asking for help is an important step in that. If you don’t have other family members who can help, either because they live too far away or have work and childcare commitments, there are home care services you can call upon to give you that support.

    Your loved one might initially be hesitant to be cared for by others, especially if they are easily confused or find it difficult to understand and adapt to any changes. But over time, the slight change will become normal and they will adjust to the new routine. It’s normal to feel guilty when you first experience that separation from the loved one you have been caring for - but your renewed energy and increased positivity are just a couple of the benefits that can be brought about by accepting some outside help.

    ‘My Loved One Needs Residential Care, But I Feel Too Guilty’

    It’s no wonder that making the decision to move a loved one into a residential home can feel like a huge betrayal - especially if it’s a parent or grandparent who has spent their lives caring for you! You might feel like you’re letting them down...maybe you promised them that you’d always look after them and now you’re going to have to break that promise and the guilt is overwhelming.

    It’s really important that you remember you are not abandoning them or your caring role - it’s simply a different way of caring for them. Sometimes round-the-clock professional care is what is best for your loved one, and that’s ok. Any promises that you may have made about always caring for them yourself were made before their condition became more severe - it’s not a case of no longer loving them or making them a priority.

    In fact, some carers find that once their loved one is receiving residential care that their relationship with them improves because the time you spend together is less stressful and more special, without the constant worry about the practicalities, or the guilt that you’re not doing a good job.

    It seems that guilt and caring go hand-in-hand for a lot of carers, but remember, we all have bad days, and just because the person you are caring for is someone you love it doesn’t mean you are exempt from feeling frustration or anger at times. Accepting help and support, and taking some time for yourself is key.

    If you want to speak to find out more about caring for a loved one with dementia and how at home care can help, please get in touch at Care In Kent.

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  • 08/10/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    It’s Not Just What I Do.. It’s Who I AM

    Do you have a big dream? To run your own business, maybe? To go back to school?...to fulfil that ambition that you’ve always had? Do you have a burning desire to follow your calling?

    I do, and I’m finally following that dream; returning to nursing practice to become a Palliative Care nurse.

    Caring for others has always been a passion of mine - as a mother of course, as well as it being the driving force behind Care In Kent - putting the welfare and needs of others first is in my blood and now I want to shout from the rooftops that I have been given a wonderful opportunity to return to the career I love, alongside continuing to provide care and support to the elderly through my business.

    This compelling drive to follow my heart’s desire and extend my capacity and passion for caring for others in the field of nursing has really gained momentum during lockdown. In recent times we’ve all been made more aware of the significant difference that those in the caring profession make to others, and nursing goes hand in hand with that. It feels wonderful that I am continuing my caring career by doing something so significant and worthwhile as nursing; I feel excited, passionate, and filled with a healthy apprehension - after all, these are very different times for nurses, and returning to practice doesn’t come without its dangers, trials and tribulations.

    So, what are the benefits of returning to nursing during this current climate, besides following a long held ambition? Well, we all know that the NHS is underfunded and understaffed, and as it’s such a treasured and much-needed resource it feels wonderful to have the opportunity to offer my support and help carry the burden. Nursing, in fact caring in any capacity, is very much a vocation, a passion - NOT a ‘job’, and certainly not a get-rich scheme! The women and men who choose this path do so simply because there isn’t anything else that can fulfil them or stimulate their ambition in quite the same way, and I include myself wholeheartedly in that.

    There’s no time limit on fulfilling a dream - it’s not what you DO that counts, it’s what you ARE.

    And this is me.

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  • 23/09/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Caring For Dementia Patients During The Covid-19 Pandemic

    Routines: boring and mundane to some; useful for keeping anxiety and stress levels at bay for others, but for those living with dementia, a routine is so much more. For a start it is an incredibly important component of keeping healthy - routine and repetition can be critical in order to function as learning new things can be difficult and take a lot longer than for those who don’t live with dementia. 


    The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the routines of many of us, and for those who live with dementia, and those who care for them, the effects can be far reaching. A good routine for a dementia patient includes consistent sleep patterns, meal times, and participating in activities - and disrupting those routines can be very stressful for someone who can’t track new information as this can lead to confusion and maybe even further memory problems.

    There is often a worry that if a person who lives with dementia is exposed to a long period of stress it will speed the progression of the disease. Luckily, the evidence suggests that that isn’t the case, and that any changes to a dementia patient’s condition is normally only temporary.What Can I Do To Help Someone Who Lives With Dementia?

    If you are currently caring for a loved one who is living with dementia, there are some important things you can do to help them during this time:

    Stick To A Routine - Sticking to a routine as much as possible is one of the key ways you can ensure that an elderly person living with dementia stays as stress-free as possible. Structure to the day means that the patient has a clear idea of what is expected and creates a comforting environment. Of course at the moment some of the routine, particularly if loved ones normally visit at a particular time, is going to be disrupted. This might cause some confusion for a while; the good news is that once a new routine has been established it won’t take long for someone who lives with dementia to get used to the changes.

    Have A Plan For The Day - There are some activities that dementia patients might have enjoyed pre-pandemic that aren’t suitable right now, so it might take a bit of creative flair to think of some new things! A good idea is to use a calendar or white board for example, and have these activities written down where a patient can see them. It will help them get used to a new routine if they can see the plan for the day written out.

    Help Them To Communicate - Technology is a fantastic way to fight social isolation, and helping someone who lives with dementia to speak to family members through video links or social media could give them a real boost! Maybe a new baby has been born into the family, or the grandchildren want to tell Grandma what they’ve been getting on back at school - helping an older person with dementia to communicate with family members that can’t visit is rewarding for everyone.

    Don’t Share Too Much Information - People who live with dementia might not remember the details of the things they see or hear on the news, but holding on to the emotional information can lead to increased feelings of stress, anxiety or fear - without them knowing why they feel that way. Don’t expose a patient to a lot of negative information, instead engage them in activities they enjoy such as listening to music.

    Reminisce - Taking in new information can be hard for dementia patients, so when you talk to someone living with the condition it’s a good idea to talk about past events; trips they might have been on or activities they’ve participated in. It’s important to help older people with dementia to experience positive emotions, and so talking about happy times in the past could prevent them from remembering that they feel worry or stress.

    Keeping someone who is living with dementia as stress-free as possible during this pandemic can be quite difficult when the pandemic is top of everyone’s conversation lists at the moment - look at any newspaper or turn on any TV or radio station and there it is - and so it’s going to be near impossible to shelter someone from what’s going on completely.

    How much information a patient can process will depend on the severity of their condition, but how do you know if someone who is living with dementia is experiencing too much stress?

    What Are The Signs?

    During stressful times, such as the one we find ourselves in now, someone who has dementia might become more confused or agitated than normal during certain situations. This is to be expected and these changes are more often than not, temporary. However, some behaviours can be more of a cause for concern.

    Such as:

    Acting out of character by putting themselves in harm’s way or wandering off.
    Becoming physically aggressive.
    New types of behaviours that continue for several days; unexplained incontinence, for example, or obsessing over something in a way they haven’t before.

    If you notice any of these changes and you are concerned then it is always advisable to speak to a healthcare professional.

    We’re living in difficult times and for those living with any type of memory disorder it can be even more scary; and even more trying for those who are caring for them. If you want to know more about how to care for someone who is elderly during the Covid-19 pandemic, then please do get in touch with us at Care In Kent.

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  • 04/09/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    10 Benefits of Home Care

    When it comes to care options for an elderly loved one, moving into a residential home requires a big lifestyle change - both for the person who needs care, and for their relatives - which is why, for many families, home care is often the preferred solution. We’ve taken a look at some of the advantages of providing care for your loved one in the comfort of their own home, and why it might be the best option for them, and you!

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  • 28/08/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Why Home Care Benefits Those Living With Dementia

    Because everyone’s experience of dementia is different, and the symptoms vary from person to person, there simply isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan of action when it comes to care. If your only knowledge of the condition is what you’ve seen in movies and on TV then you could be forgiven for thinking that a patient’s deterioration is always rapid and all-encompassing; but that’s not always the case. In fact, with the right support system in place, many people living with dementia are able to live independently for several years


    In the very early stages of dementia most people can continue to live in their own homes and enjoy life pretty much the same as they could before their diagnosis. In fact, it is encouraged that for as long as you can do so, continue to keep doing the things that are important to you. When things start to become a little more difficult you may benefit from some in-home care to assist you with things such as housework or preparing meals.

    Chances are there will come a time when someone living with dementia going into a care home becomes unavoidable, but until that time, the benefits of living in their own home are undeniable.


    Further reading: Caring for someone with dementia

    A Familiar Environment


    This is the big one isn’t it; it goes without saying that moving to a new place surrounded by new people isn’t going to be of huge benefit to someone in the earlier stages of dementia - particularly if they’re still maintaining a lot of independence. Being cared for in your own home is going to be a lot less disorienting for someone living with dementia than moving into a care home.

    And it isn’t just about being in familiar walls. Those living with the early stages of dementia will want to keep their independence for as long as possible, and this will include getting out and about in the local area that they know well; walking in parks they are familiar with, popping to the shops they frequent, and going to their regular place of worship.


    Further reading: Explaining dementia to children

    Routine

    A daily routine can be just as soothing as familiar surroundings. It’s important for someone who is living with dementia to keep to their regular pre-diagnosis schedule as much as possible in order to reduce stress and confusion. In-home care uses personalised care plans for all clients (whether they have dementia or not), but for those who are living with the condition these care plans are even more essential as patients thrive on familiarity and repetition. Chores and personal care will be performed at set times to provide clients with an ingrained routine which will help them to retain a sense of understanding of what is going on around them, even as their condition worsens.

    Carers Are Trained In Dementia Care

    All in-home carers are highly trained so that they are able to assist with day-to-day care and provide companionship and compassion, and when it comes to caring for those with dementia, training will also involve learning methods by which to stay engaged, manage unpredictable behaviour and communicate effectively.

    Carers whose clients live with dementia will also be trained in breaking activities down into smaller steps to make it more manageable, as well as having extra safety training to reduce the risk of falls or injuries.

    These skills allow an older person who has dementia to live longer in their own home, providing peace of mind to family members who might not be able to visit due to work commitments or not living near. This one-on-one individual care is a huge benefit to someone living with dementia because over time their carer will become a familiar face, which is just as important as familiar surroundings and a regular routine. 


    See what home care services are available

    Continuing With Hobbies And Activities

    Another benefit of an older person continuing to live at home after they have been diagnosed with dementia is that they can continue to enjoy past activities for as long as possible.

    Even though care homes today are a far cry from the past, with residents engaged in all sorts of group activities, being cared for at home means that the individual can take part in the things that they specifically enjoy. Playing a round of golf for example, an afternoon fishing, or maybe even watching others play a sport if they are no longer physically able, can boost mental and physical health.

    Sensory stimulation is important when it comes to dementia care, and an older person who is still able to live in their own home will be able to listen to music, or indulge in arts that they enjoy as often as they please. In-home care can be very beneficial in that respect as the carer can engage their client in different activities as their interests or abilities change due to dementia.

    Care Can Evolve

    One of the biggest advantages of in-home care, particularly for someone living with dementia, is that it is easier to customise the care to provide as much or as little as the client and their family require. This flexibility is a huge advantage when caring for those who live with dementia, because as their condition declines in-home care can adapt as necessary in order to keep providing the best possible care.


    Get in touch today to see how we can help Click here


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  • 17/08/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    “But I Only Need A Little Help With The Housework…”

    I’m sure we all agree that growing old is a privilege denied to many, and that wisdom and experience gained is certainly cause for celebration; however, one of the most frustrating things about getting older is when we begin to struggle with the simple tasks that need to be performed in our everyday lives. Illness, decreased mobility and failing sight are just some of the age-related problems that could mean that even the simplest of activities such as running a vacuum round or washing the dishes can become a struggle.

    For many older people who live alone - particularly those who have lost a partner or who don’t regularly see friends or family members - the inability to easily get on with their everyday routine comes a close second to loneliness as one of the top reasons they might be feeling stressed, anxious or depressed. So, what can you do if the mind and body is willing, but the strength or mobility is lacking?

    Often the answer will be making use of a service such as in-home care. Many people might not realise that this type of care is tailored to the individual, it’s not just for those who need extensive or daily care. And of course there are other options open to you such as meal-delivery services, shopping delivery, as well as gardeners and cleaners…

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  • 12/08/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Home Care Support: What Is Available?

    When it comes to home care for the elderly, the general consensus is that it is preferable to being cared for in a residential home or hospital. Aside from the fact that an older person is going to be much more comfortable in their own familiar surroundings, where friends and family can visit whenever they like, studies have shown that recovery times from illness or injury is greatly reduced, as well as there being a lower risk of depression or feelings of isolation.

    Perhaps either yourself or a loved one need some support at home, but aren’t sure what help is available; which is why Care In Kent have put together this guide to help you decide if home care support could benefit you…

    So, first thing’s first - what exactly is home care?

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  • 03/08/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Becoming A Carer: What You Should Know | Jobs in Ashford

    The profession of ‘carer’ spans many industries, and working with the elderly is one such role that requires not only training and a certain level of knowledge, but also a set of personal characteristics and attributes. If patience, compassion and an interest in the welfare of others are at the heart of what you want from your career then you may well have found yourself considering a job as a carer for the elderly.

    On the surface being a carer can sound like easy work; do a bit of housework, maybe cook a meal or two, pop in for a cuppa and a chat...but the truth is that care work encompasses a wide range of duties that can be both physically and emotionally demanding. Of course it can also be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding career paths you could take.

    So, what exactly can you expect from a career as a carer - whether that be out in the community or within a residential care home?

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  • Choosing A Career In Care
    28/07/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Choosing A Career In Care

    Maybe you are starting to think about what career you would like to pursue when you leave school, or maybe you fancy a career change - either way, a career in care can be a rewarding and satisfying one. There are many reasons to choose a career within the care industry, not least of all having a genuine interest in the welfare of others - particularly those more vulnerable members of society. A lot of carers started out as volunteers, or even as carers for a sick or elderly relative or friend, and so to turn that knowledge and experience gained into a career is a natural progression. But those aren’t the only reasons... 


    So, why become a carer?

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  • 23/07/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    All In A Day’s Work

    When it comes to a career within the care industry, there are many types of roles to fill; caring for the disabled, caring for children, caring for the elderly - and within different environments; at a care home, in a hospice or hospital, or at the client’s home. But there’s one thing that all professional carers share, and that’s the enormous amount of dedication and passion needed to carry out such demanding, yet rewarding work.

    For care workers who look after elderly clients within their own homes, the work is incredibly varied and tailored to each individual client. Some care workers provide round-the-clock care, while other clients just need someone to pop in to prepare dinner. Those who work in the care industry will often say that one of the things they love about their profession is that every day is different, however, here is what a ‘typical’ day might look like for one of our highly skilled care workers.

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  • Loneliness As We Get Older
    14/07/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    How To Deal With Loneliness As We Get Older

    As you age it’s understandable that feelings of loneliness and isolation might increase. Your children grow and fly the nest - possibly further afield than you’d like - to start their own lives and families, and it could be weeks, or even months, between visits. Your friends and acquaintances might start new jobs in new towns, and, as much as everyone always says they’ll stay in touch, that can be easier said than done at times. And, worst of all, as you age so do those around you - and maybe some of those you were close to have now passed away.


    But you don’t have to let these feelings of isolation get the better of you! It is possible to get yourself into a positive mindset and deal with loneliness simply by changing your day to day habits and engaging in some new activities.


    For the vast majority of people, loneliness ranks higher than financial or health worries when it comes to their fears about getting older, so what can you do to combat loneliness and keep living life to the fullest?


    Further reading Explaining dementia to children a guide


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  • 08/06/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Carers Week 8-14th June

    Carers Week, which runs every year from the 8th to the 14th of June, is a campaign designed to raise awareness and highlight the issues faced by those unpaid carers out there who are tending to families and communities throughout the UK. This annual event, celebrated by thousands of individuals and organisations, provides support to carers and runs activities designed to draw attention to the importance of the caring role within our society.


    This year Carers Week is unique in that, due to the coronavirus outbreak, those who are caring for others across the UK are facing new challenges , and many have taken on more caring responsibilities than ever before - whether that be caring for elderly or disabled relatives or friends, or supporting vulnerable neighbours. In response to this, Carers Week is urging people to come together to help ‘Making Caring Visible’, providing information, support and understanding to those who find themselves working in a carers’ capacity - maybe for the first time.

    There are 6.5 million people caring for others in the UK, and that can have an impact on all aspects of their life from finances and work, to relationships and health The challenges faced should not be underestimated, and it is vitally important that we recognise the contribution carers make to society, and ensure they get the support and recognition they deserve. 


    Want to make a difference? Join our team

    So, Why Should You Get Involved?

    Caring will affect all of us at some point in our lives - either because we will take on that role for an elderly or sick relative or friend, or because we will be reliant on others to care for us. Most of those who are currently caring for someone in their lives don’t give themselves the title of ‘carer’. Instead they call themselves husbands and wives, daughters, sons, friends….meaning that more often than not they are not connected to the support and information networks that are vital to carers. Of course caring for someone can be highly rewarding, but it certainly comes with difficulties and frustrations too. Carers Week aims to alleviate some of this, by providing those much needed resources.

    And How?

    You can raise awareness of caring and the importance it plays in our lives and the lives of those we love, by organising an activity within your community or place of work. You can register your activity on the Carers Week website and download all the information in order to promote your activity and raise awareness.

    Or why not make a pledge instead, or spread the word about Carers Week on social media, using the hashtag #carersweek and show your support and appreciation for all those unpaid carers out there, and ensure they get the information and help they need.


    Find a job with us as a carer

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  • 04/06/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    National Hug Your Cat Day - Yes, It’s A Thing!

    Revered and worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, and seen throughout the world as symbols of poise and elegance, not much has changed for the modern cat! There isn’t a cat owner alive that needs to be reminded to hug their cat - we’re all at it! (when the cat decides it’s ok obviously!), but on National Hug Your Cat Day, June 4th, make a special effort to scoop up your furry BFF and celebrate this special day with us!


    For many elderly and vulnerable people, their cats symbolise even more than a cute and cuddly pet. Often they can be their only companion, their confidante, and maybe even for some, their reason for getting up in the morning. There is even evidence to suggest that owning a cat can have various physical health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure.

    So, how can we show our appreciation to our wonderful feline friends on this special day?

    Revered and worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, and seen throughout the world as symbols of poise and elegance, not much has changed for the modern cat! There isn’t a cat owner alive that needs to be reminded to hug their cat - we’re all at it! (when the cat decides it’s ok obviously!), but on National Hug Your Cat Day, June 4th, make a special effort to scoop up your furry BFF and celebrate this special day with us!


    For many elderly and vulnerable people, their cats symbolise even more than a cute and cuddly pet. Often they can be their only companion, their confidante, and maybe even for some, their reason for getting up in the morning. There is even evidence to suggest that owning a cat can have various physical health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure.

    So, how can we show our appreciation to our wonderful feline friends on this special day?

    Lots Of Hugs!

    We know it says it right there in the title, but pick up your purring pal and give them a hug! (Until they wriggle out of your grasp and give you that look of contempt all cats are so good at!) Stroking and hugging pets has been proven to release feel-good endorphins, and some studies have shown that the sound of a cat purring can reduce stress levels and elevate levels of calmness, so hug away and soak up all those happy hormones!

    Volunteering

    Maybe you don’t have a cat of your own but you still want to get in on the hugging action. Volunteering at an animal shelter means you can get in on all that hugging action AND help out homeless and abandoned kitties - it’s a win-win situation. Or, why not turn ‘Hug Your Cat Day’ into ‘Hug Someone Else’s Cat Day’, and share the cuddles with a cat-owning friend!

    Selfie Time!

    If you are one of those cat owners that can’t stop showing pictures of your cute and cuddly fur-baby to friends, family, and work colleagues - to the point where they turn and run in the opposite direction when they see you approaching with your iphone and a crazy look in your eye - today is your day my friend! It’s practically mandatory to start snapping away pics of your cute companions and to share them with the world - we for one would love to see them!Lots Of Hugs!


    We know it says it right there in the title, but pick up your purring pal and give them a hug! (Until they wriggle out of your grasp and give you that look of contempt all cats are so good at!) Stroking and hugging pets has been proven to release feel-good endorphins, and some studies have shown that the sound of a cat purring can reduce stress levels and elevate levels of calmness, so hug away and soak up all those happy hormones!

    Volunteering

    Maybe you don’t have a cat of your own but you still want to get in on the hugging action. Volunteering at an animal shelter means you can get in on all that hugging action AND help out homeless and abandoned kitties - it’s a win-win situation. Or, why not turn ‘Hug Your Cat Day’ into ‘Hug Someone Else’s Cat Day’, and share the cuddles with a cat-owning friend!

    Selfie Time!

    If you are one of those cat owners that can’t stop showing pictures of your cute and cuddly fur-baby to friends, family, and work colleagues - to the point where they turn and run in the opposite direction when they see you approaching with your iphone and a crazy look in your eye - today is your day my friend! It’s practically mandatory to start snapping away pics of your cute companions and to share them with the world - we for one would love to see them!

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  • 02/06/2020 - Kim Stevenes 0 Comments
    Preventing Loneliness In The Elderly: A Guide

    For elderly people, particularly those who live alone or who don’t have families living nearby, loneliness is something they battle with everyday. But during the coronavirus crisis, even those who are used to visits from children and grandchildren have started to feel the effects of spending more time alone. How can we as family members, friends and neighbours of older people help those who are particularly vulnerable during these long periods of isolation we are all experiencing? 


    The lockdown guidelines that have been put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic mean that in the UK we shouldn’t leave our homes unless absolutely necessary - and while this is important in stopping the spread of the virus, it has left many feeling lonely and isolated. Research shows that over 2 million people in the UK over the age of 75 live alone, and a million of those regularly go more than a month without interacting with another human being.

    Feeling lonely is distressing enough, with studies showing that it can be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day! Add to that the extra stress caused by the pandemic, and it’s no wonder that the elderly are reporting experiencing higher levels of anxiety than normal.

    In celebration of Carer’s Week, June 8th-14th, we have put together a useful guide of tips for older adults, and for those who are struggling with ideas to help their elderly loved ones to not feel so alone…

    The Importance Of Routine

    Not being able to go about our daily lives as we normally would has been the biggest change for most, but that doesn’t mean that we should abandon all semblance of a routine and sit around in our pyjamas doing nothing all day! Keeping to a routine - albeit a slightly different one to normal is incredibly important, especially for those of us who are older.

    Getting up at the same time each day, and planning tasks - even if it’s just household chores and planning meals - will keep your mind active and provide structure to your day. Don’t forget to include hobbies such as reading, gardening, or enjoying a favourite TV or radio show. Having a sense of purpose to your day is good for cognitive health, and will prevent you from sitting around focusing on your anxieties.

    Stay In Contact With Family And Friends

    One of the things families are really struggling with at the moment is not being able to physically go and see their loved ones, but with the elderly population being among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, it’s incredibly important that we all do our best to ensure they stay as healthy as possible. Thanks to modern technology it’s never been easier to stay in touch with those we love, and there have never been more ways to communicate with each other.

    A simple phone call, text, or even email can make all the difference to the day of someone who is feeling lonely. Video-calling platforms are another option. They are huge at the moment, and have never been easier to navigate, or, why not take the time to write a simple letter if technology isn’t your thing? If you have elderly relatives who don’t use a lot of technology encourage the kids to draw or paint pictures to send, or maybe send photos. Any of these forms of communication with family members will be a treasured lifeline to someone living alone.

    Staying Active - Even Indoors!

    Staying at home is our biggest line of defence in beating this virus at the moment, but that doesn’t have to mean sitting around and doing nothing. Exercise has been proven time and time again to lift your mood and release feel-good chemicals into your body. There are plenty of exercises that focus on strength, balance and flexibility - a lot of which can be done from a sitting position if you are not able-bodied.

    If you are an elderly person with access to the internet there are loads of free online exercise classes catering to all ages and abilities, or, if not, just a simple stroll around the garden in the sunshine will release endorphins and help to keep you active. 


    Here is a list of activities for the elderly around Ashford and Kent

    Get To Know The Neighbours

    It could be argued that these days community spirit isn’t what it was, but if nothing else, this pandemic has reignited and reinforced that sense of togetherness like nothing else! Maybe you already know your neighbours well and have been looking out for and supporting each other in recent weeks, but if you haven’t, now might be a good time to start! Getting to know the neighbours has never been more important - particularly for the elderly or vulnerable, and it can be reassuring to know that there is someone close by to lend a hand if you are in need of support. Likewise for the relatives of those who are older and might not live close by.

    It’s always worth having the contact details of your closest neighbours, and probably an idea to let them have yours too. Why not put a note through their door letting them know that you are available if they need any help - this could be an invaluable lifeline to some.

    Make New Friends

    Admittedly not all older people (or younger for that matter!) are technologically savvy - but for those who do use the internet, social media can be a fabulous way to stay in touch with family and friends, join groups with shared interests, track down friends we might have lost touch with over the years, or even make new ones.

    Being a part of these types of networks can open up a whole new world of communication, as well as allowing you to meet like-minded people through online communities and forums. 


    Further reading: Dementia and how music can help

    Ask For Help

    Maybe you are someone who is older and feeling lonely and isolated, but don’t live within a community you can reach out too. Maybe you don’t have any relatives or friends to call upon, what can you do?

    Charities such as Age UK and Silver Line offer befriending services that can match you up with like-minded people for a friendly chat, as well as offer practical advice and information. It may be worth you signing up for these, particularly if the telephone is your only source of communication with the outside world at the moment.

    With much focus on everyone’s physical health during these trying times we have to remember to do what we can to keep ourselves, and those around us, as mentally healthy as possible too - especially those who are elderly and/or living alone. Share these tips with your elderly neighbours, friends and relatives...or use them yourself to help you combat the boredom and loneliness, and keep your mind active and healthy.


    Find out how we can help Click here

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  • Music And Dementia
    06/05/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Music And Dementia

    Science tells us that the auditory system of the brain is the first to function - at around 16 weeks gestation - and so human beings are receptive to music long before they are receptive to anything else. We know that babies in the womb respond to music, and sensory-wise it really is a case of ‘first in, last out’; meaning that even someone who is living with advanced Alzheimers, and who’s verbal abilities might be lost, will still respond to music and singing. In fact, studies show that music can reach parts of the damaged brain that other forms of communication can’t, and can soothe, stimulate, and even bring to mind long-forgotten memories. 


    Playing music to dementia patients will often inspire a strong emotional reaction, particularly if it is a song from their youth - from their wedding perhaps, or a song they used to sing with their children.


    Some Of The Benefits Of Using Music As Therapy For Dementia Patients



    • It encourages social interaction - both with other dementia patients, or with family members and friends. Singing in a group is often encouraged in care home environments as a way to relieve stress and lift the mood, and the benefits of this can be even more significant in the cognitively impaired.


    • Soothing music can lessen distress if a dementia patient is becoming confused or upset during situations such as a carer helping them to get dressed or in being encouraged to take medication. Music can work as a great distraction technique, allowing the patient to focus their mind on something other than the task at hand.


    • It can facilitate physical movement. Even the smallest of movements - clapping or swaying while sitting in a chair can have great benefits. More mobile patients might like to dance - which carries its own benefits of social interaction and physical contact. Either way, any form of exercise is great for the mind as well as the body.


    Music And Memories



    Research has shown that dementia patients respond most positively to music they listened to as youngsters and through their teenage years, and so songs from that era, or perhaps music from their cultural background tend to evoke the most positive responses. Music is known to trigger autobiographical memories, which in turn reinforce a sense of identity, and, crucially, it’s been proven that memories of songs activate the very parts of the brain that seem to be particularly resistant to the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s.


    Communication



    Sound is essential in communication - without pitch, tone, and speed, it would be unexpressive - and it is these qualities that allow music to connect with those who are living with dementia. Rhythm is a great way to help focus an older person who is cognitively impaired, and can stimulate the parts of the brain that control coordination and timing. Patients have even been known to form memory links by pairing daily tasks with music - even helping carers and family members to connect with those who may be experiencing the more advanced stages of the illness.


    Singing


    For those dementia patients who are able to, singing along to much-loved songs can be incredibly therapeutic as a way of relieving stress and anxiety, as well as helping maintain speech and language, and enhancing quality of life. Many care homes and dementia charities promote singing and music as therapy - with some forming dementia choirs, such as the Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Singing for the Brain.’ These groups involve participation from dementia patients themselves, as well as their carers and a musician, and normally begin with warm-up exercises for both voice and body, before singing along to familiar songs. Much the same as just listening to music, the benefits of singing are numerous and include the release of endorphins, which improves mood, as well as exercising the body and mind. Popular choices of songs to sing along to are often show tunes or songs from movies that would have been popular in the patients’ youth.

    Music really does transverse age, race, and gender, and when used as a therapy to unlock parts of the mind that otherwise cannot be reached, it becomes even more powerful. For a person living with dementia, music and singing can be a way for them to express themselves and to remember who they are, at a time when illness prevents it otherwise.


    Further reading: Preventing Accidents in the home when you have dementia

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  • 19/04/2020 - Will O’Sullivan 0 Comments
    My experience of End of Life Care

    Where should I begin on what is such a taboo subject amongst the british population, I guess I will start at the beginning where I will lead you through a few of my experiences when nursing patients through their last few days of life. I have worked in nursing/care for the last sixteen years and as you can imagine I have seen, heard and smelt just about every function a human body can make this has been both very funny and very sad but I have always walked away feeling that I have done a great job and that the person is now more comfortable. My first experience with death came when I was about nine. I hadn't been well and was off school as my mum got herself ready for work there was a knock at the door, it was my neighbour he looked rather flustered and panicked my mum asked him what the matter was and he said that his brother was not making any sense and had fallen in the lounge as you can imagine my mum raced across the drive and I raced out of the back door to peek through their lounge window at the back of the house. This was when the nursing flame ignited itself within me for what I saw was a elderly gentleman laying face down as straight as a board on the seat of his armchair. I remember thinking I need to get in there and do something but for the life of me I did not know what that was or how I would do it. My mum as you can imagine came out confused and with a matter of urgency called an ambulance. When I look back on this now it had not just happened and I think the poor man had been there for sometime. Following this for the next seven years I went on with growing up and deciding what I wanted to do with my life always knowing in my mind that this would probably be caring for people and at the age of sixteen I enrolled myself on a care qualification and was placed in a elderly day centre in Ashford where I was exposed to my experiences of personal care and caring for people as a profession. 


    On completion of my course I secured myself a job at the William Harvey Hospital where I was a healthcare assistant on a busy geniatric ward this is where my second experience of death came. I was on a night shift and like every other shift I attended the ward handover where you hear about the patients on the ward and the work that needed doing throughout the night. On this occasion I was asked If i would care for an elderly lady in one of the side rooms. She had fallen at home and was now unable to stand, along with her current conditions she had declined in health and was now entering her end of life. This at the time was very scary for me as I had never looked after someone like this and I really did not know what I was meant to be doing at all. I asked the staff nurse on duty for some advice and she told me she could still hear me and to make her last hours comfortable, with this I returned to the elderly lady and just sat with her, held her hand and spoke about whatever came to mind. I made sure she was comfortable, that her mouth was not too dry and that she was clean. At around 2 am her breathing began to change and she was taking less breaths but they were deeper, I asked the nurse whether this was normal to which she told me it was and that she was close to the end of her life now. I returned to the lady and assumed the position I had kept all night of holding her hand and letting her know she was not alone, at around 4am sadly the lady passed away, this made me feel sad but privileged at the same time, I had never met this lady before but I was the last voice she heard and the last hand she touched. The next part of this story gave me the fright of my life and made me think I could conduct miracles, as part of the process when dealing with the death of a patient you give them a wash and put them into a garment called a shroud to be taken to the morgue. As this was my first experience of this duty and as I was noticeably nervous I asked whether one of the nurses would be able to support me in this to which the night sister came. As we began to wash the lady the nurse working with me asked me the roll the lady onto her side so that she could wash her back, with this I began to roll her when the loudest deepest breath escaped the ladies chest and I jumped ten foot into the air thinking for a brief second I had conducted a miracle and that now the lady was alive. As you can imagine the nurse who had come to assist me could not stop laughing for I had been the victim of a very unkind trick. We finished cleansing the lady, putting her into her shroud and calling the porters making sure they knew this patient was for “Rose Cottage”.


    My most recent experience of death was working as a Student Nurse with my local community nursing team. Me and my mentor had gone to visit a lady with chronic COPD in her home and when we arrived she was really struggling for breath and did not look well at all to top it off she had fallen off her bed and onto the floor. This posed many a problem as there was no hoist, extra staff and the lady was on the larger side. As she had already pressed her lifeline some 4 hours previous and the ambulance was on its way the first thing to do was get the lady into a more comfortable position so that she could at least sit up and regain her breath, with no slide sheets around this was a case of finding something to improvise with so I found a bin liner and a tea towel, by putting the tea towel into the bin liner and moving the lady from side to side I was able with my mentor to get the makeshift slide sheet under the lady enabling me to sit her up. Once she was comfortable we carried out some general observation and found that her oxygen saturations were at 89 which Is not unusual in a patient with COPD but still it was making the act of breathing very difficult for the lady. Once the ambulance arrived and had checked the lady over she decided that she wanted to stay at home as she felt if anything was going to happen to her she would rather be at home than in an unfamiliar environment such as a hospital. I visited her many times that week with my mentor and on every visit the lady had become progressively worse until the friday when we visited and found the lady approaching the end of her life. She was having great difficulty breathing and was using all of the muscles in her abdomen to draw breath. This alarmed my mentor and she asked whether the lady had a DNAR as in her opinion the lady was not going to make it through the day, the lady replied that she did not and but she would not want resuscitating when she passed away. My mentor advised the lady that unless she had a DNAR in place she would have to attempt CPR if the lady passed away, again the lady stated she did not want resuscitating. My mentor then called the ladies doctor who unfortunately was some 20 miles away, with her clinical experience she felt that a DNAR needed to be put into place immediately so that the lady's wishes could be followed. This would mean that my mentor would need to leave me alone with the lady whilst she drove to the GP to get the correct form. Whilst she was gone I spent two hours talking to the lady about her family and how her life had been. I found this to be very fulfilling as I had built a strong but fast relationship with this lady over the last week. My mentor returned a few hours later with the DNAR form and for the next three hours we all sat and chatted making sure that the lady was comfortable and had all she wanted. Sadly that afternoon she passed away with me and my mentor by her side. I reflected a lot on this in the following days and found myself thinking around how strange life is. One minute I knew nothing about this lady and had never met her in my life and the next I had been a constant visitor for the last week and one of the last faces she’d seen. 


    In my opinion aside from all of the great qualities that every nurse and carer has when caring for their patients, you need to be a certain sort of person when dealing with the end of life. You need to remain human but also be able to put your feelings aside for the good of the patient and their loved ones, I guess this comes with time and experience. You would be no use to anyone if you broke down every time a patient died, you need to be able to be kind, compassionate, logical and be able to give strength to all involved in a very sad moment. You also need to remember you are human and that the passing of a client affects people in different ways, you should always seek support from your colleagues and management. I always remember to talk as talk will help you lighten your mental load

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  • 19/04/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Hearing Loss in Elderly Adults: A Home Care Guide


    Age-related hearing loss, known as Presbycusis, is the most common type of adult hearing loss, affecting 75% of those over the age of 75. Older people may not want to admit they are suffering with hearing loss due to embarrassment or feelings of frustration, and this often leads to them being mistakenly thought of as confused or uncooperative. Older adults who experience problems with hearing are at a greater risk of developing dementia, as memory and concentration can decline faster; so treating hearing problems is incredibly important for cognitive health.

    Older people often don’t like to make a ‘fuss’, or admit that parts of their bodies may be failing with age, so if you are caring for an elderly relative, or live with an older person, how can you spot the signs they might be struggling with hearing loss? You might notice that they find it hard to follow conversations where two or more people are talking, or have trouble hearing someone over the phone. Background noise might be a problem for them, or they might accuse you of mumbling. Maybe when you visit the TV volume is through the roof, or they simply often ask you to repeat what you have just said.

    Because age-related hearing loss usually happens gradually over time, and in both ears, often an older person might not even be aware that they have lost some of their hearing ability. So, what can you do to help an older person with hearing loss to lead a more normal life?

    Convincing them to get a proper medical diagnosis is a good start. Sometimes problems with hearing can be down to Tinnitus, a condition that presents as ringing, clicking, or buzzing in the ears, and is often the first sign of hearing loss in older adults. It can also be a symptom of high blood pressure, or a side effect of certain medications, it can even be caused by something as simple as earwax blocking the ear canal - so well worth getting it checked out, not just hoping it will go away. A doctor will be able to check that the hearing loss isn’t down to a burst eardrum, an infection or virus, or a condition such as diabetes or heart condition.

    Maybe the problem is something as simple as a blocked ear canal and can be treated, and maybe it isn’t, or maybe it is something that can be improved by a hearing aid. The simple fact of the matter is that all too often hearing loss is just a fact of life when it comes to getting older, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that you as a relative, friend, or carer of an elderly person can do to make things a little easier for them. Such as:

    Speak a little louder and slower than normal. There’s no need to shout, just be aware that you need to up the volume a little, and at a speed that remains natural, but still allows the person time to catch each word you say

    Repeat yourself if necessary, maybe using different words each time, as some sounds might be easier to distinguish than others

    Always make sure you are facing the person when you are speaking and maintain eye contact. This will make all the difference when it comes to someone with hearing loss being able to understand what you are saying - especially if they find lip reading helpful

    It can be useful to use hand gestures or facial expressions when you are talking to an older person with hearing issues to give some visual clues to what you are saying

    If you are at a social gathering, or anywhere with a lot of background noise, ie: a restaurant, try to find a quieter area to talk, rather than just speaking at a higher volume

    Above all, it is important to be patient; as frustrating as it may be to converse with an older person who is suffering from hearing loss, it is even more frustrating and stressful for them, so always be positive and kind in your responses so that they can continue to navigate the world around them with your help.

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  • Palliative Care
    14/04/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    What Is The Role Of Palliative Care?

    Palliative care is a term often used in conjunction with‘end of life care’, and is generally thought of as the care received by a patient who isn’t going to recover from a terminal illness. While this is true to a certain extent, the role that palliative care in particular plays in a patient’s life is so much more than simply making sure someone is as comfortable and pain-free as possible. 


    It is a common worry that once a patient is told that they are receiving palliative care that medical professionals have ‘given up’ on them, but this is not the case. Palliative care provides treatment for patients as well as mental and emotional care and support for both them and their family and friends, often in addition to continued treatment for the illness in question. The aim of this type of care is to ensure that the patient has a good quality of life, and can remain as well and as active as possible in the time that they have left; whether that be years or days. This can involve:


    • Managing pain and other physical symptoms
    • Providing psychological, emotional, and even spiritual support
    • Helping with basic needs such as washing or dressing
    • Providing understanding and support for family and friends

    Often referred to as a ‘life-limiting’ illness, terminal illness is one that cannot be cured and includes dementia and motor neurone disease as well as some types of cancer. Palliative care can be administered at any stage of a progressive illness - it doesn’t necessarily mean that a patient is nearing the end - some of those with a life-limiting illness might receive this type of care for years, as it can be used alongside other treatments and therapies such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. However, palliative care of course continues when a patient is nearing the end of their lives, and is then termed ‘end of life care’.

    So, What’s The Difference?

    End of life care is an important part of palliative care and aims to help someone suffering with a terminal illness to live as comfortably as possible. Of course the time frame of how long someone may have left is not easy to predict, and some patients may only end up receiving end of life care for a few weeks or even days. Medications and treatments for the illness may have stopped at this stage, but end of life care is not just about managing pain, it also involves talking to the patient and their loved ones about what to expect towards the end of their life, to discuss their needs and wishes to ensure they receive the kind of care they want, and can even help with the practicalities of things like making a will or getting financial support.

    Is Palliative Care Always Administered In A Hospice?

    Palliative care can be provided in the patient’s own home, in a care or nursing home, or in a hospice - depending on the type of life-limiting illness and what stage it is at. The professionals involved in the patient’s care, such as their GP, care workers and community nurses, will all have a hand in providing palliative care, but will refer the patient to a specialist care professional if needed.

    Specialist palliative care professionals will have plenty of training and experience in this area and will manage more complex care problems. These specialists are provided either by the NHS or voluntary organisations, and are probably the ones you think of when you hear the term ‘palliative care’. Their caring role continues after the death of the terminally ill patient, offering emotional support, understanding and care to loved ones - and are often thought of as invaluable in terms of comfort to those who are recently bereaved.

    To hear that a loved one is receiving ‘palliative’ or ‘end of life’ care can be scary, and all too often it is easy to assume that this is the end; but the families of those receiving such care can take comfort in knowing that the role is primarily about support and, above all, care, which is something we want for everyone we love.


    Find our more about some of the end of life services we provide in kent Click Here

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  • 12/04/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Caring For Someone With Dementia

    When it comes to caring for someone with dementia, whether that is a parent or spouse that you are caring for at home, or as a care professional, approaching the role armed with all the knowledge you possibly can is key - and not just for the patient’s sake. Caring for someone with a form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, is emotionally and mentally exhausting, and the thought of it is incredibly daunting. So knowing exactly what it is that you are letting yourself in for, and going in fully prepared, will ease a lot of the stresses and strains that are associated with such a role. We’ve put together some fundamental tips about caring for someone with dementia which we hope will help those who find themselves undertaking this challenging task maintain a positive yet realistic attitude, while also allowing you to keep an element of control and improve upon the care you provide.


    Never Be Afraid To Ask For Help

    This goes for any element of caring for the elderly - or caring in general for that matter! If you start to feel overwhelmed there is no shame in reaching out for help; whether that be to a professional body, or a friend or family member who is going through the same thing. A lot of people who are caring for a family member find support groups helpful, either one you can attend in person or online. These allow you to vent and voice your problems - and even frustrations - with people who understand what you are going through. It’s also a great place to share tips and resources regarding dementia or Alzheimers, and drawing from the experiences of others can be invaluable. Maybe you are a professional carer? This doesn’t mean that you are immune to these feelings or needs either, and there will definitely be times when speaking to a colleague or support group will be hugely beneficial to you too.

    Empathising With The Patient

    Understanding dementia or Alzheimer’s is one thing, but to really care effectively for those who are suffering from these conditions, empathy is one of your biggest tools. Care in general starts with compassion and empathy, and this rings even more true for those caring for someone who has dementia. Imagine how you would feel and how you would want to be treated if you were suddenly unsure of your own identity, the time period you were living in, and were disoriented and confused about your whereabouts….Tapping in to these feelings of fear, confusion and loneliness will really help when it comes to understanding the behaviour and reactions of those you are caring for.

    Be Realistic

    Anyone who has experience of caring for someone with dementia will tell you that patients will have good days and bad days, and you need to be realistic about what counts as ‘successful’ when it comes to the progression of this disease. Success is when the person you are caring for is happy, comfortable and safe. It’s important to remember that most types of dementia are progressive and irreversible, so it’s important to focus on the good days - and even the good moments - as a job well done.

    Plan Ahead

    When you are caring for someone with dementia, change is inevitable. The condition will progress and worsen, and eventually, if you are caring for someone at home, you will need to turn to the professionals. It’s important to plan for this - both financially and practically; when it comes to finding care options in your area. And planning isn’t just important for those who are caring for a loved one at home, professional carers also need to constantly reassess the care needs and health status of their clients with dementia as their care needs inevitably increase.

    Understanding That It Means More Than Just Memory Loss

    Although memory loss is the sign of dementia we all recognise and expect, there are some types of dementia that manifest as personality changes instead as the symptoms will depend on which area of the brain is affected; patients can suddenly develop difficult moods or strange behaviours, and as the disease progresses sufferers can become uncommunicative and unable to recognise loved ones, they might need help with the basic activities of dressing or using the toilet, or even become unable to move about.

    Watching these changes, particularly in someone you love, is heartbreaking, but the more we understand about the illness, and the longer we are able to make the life of someone with dementia rich and fulfilled, that better carers we can all be.

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  • 05/04/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    How To Choose The Right Care Home For A Loved One

    In an ideal world we would always keep our loved ones close; our elderly parents would be able to see out their days in the home they cherish, and our spouse would always be beside us - in sickness and in health - whatever the circumstances. But unfortunately our world isn’t always ideal. What are we to do if our parents are no longer as safe in their own home due to age and ill health? What if someone we love is displaying increasing signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s and they need more regular or round the clock care? The time will inevitably come for some of us that we have to have a conversation or make a decision about the professional care options that are open to us. It could be that your elderly loved one is in a position to have plenty of input and opinions to give, or it could be that you have to do the bulk of the decision-making yourself. Either way, if the decision has been made that it is time to consider a care home for your loved one, how do you choose the right one?


    The clue is largely in the title ‘Care Home’; and the ‘caring’ and ‘homely’ aspect of anywhere you look at is going to be of paramount importance. Of course there is a lot more to think about than just that: Would you have to travel far to visit? Does it have a good reputation? What about the costs involved?....How do you choose the right care home?

    Talk It Through - With any luck your family member is able to be a part of the decision making, and if that’s the case you will want to make sure that the care home is going to meet all of their personal requirements. Location, facilities and activities might be incredibly important to them. Maybe they have a place in mind already after hearing recommendations from friends, or perhaps they need a home that will allow them to bring their pet. If your elderly relative is less able to make these decisions then there will be things to consider as a family; such as visiting times, how close it is to your own home, can specialist care be provided for a specific health problem. It will all come down to deciding what features are ‘essential’ and what are ‘desirable’ and finding somewhere that has a healthy balance.

    Make Lists - Once you’ve all discussed your specific requirements you can make a shortlist of those homes that meet them. There will be care services directories you can access and you’ll be able to filter through and pick out those that are worth investigating further. If the care home has a website it is always worth browsing through so you can get more of a feel for how they operate before adding them to your list of ‘possibles’. You’ll also want to make a list of questions to ask once you have narrowed down your list of options. Questions such as?


    • What are the specific costs involved - what is included in the fees, and what are ‘extras’?
    • What activities are on offer?
    • Do residents have access to TV and internet? Are these facilities shared or in their rooms?
    • What is the food like - is there a fixed menu every week or does it vary? Are meals delivered pre-prepared, or cooked on-site using fresh ingredients?
    • What is the staff to patient ratio?
    • When can we visit our loved one?
    • Is there palliative care available if your loved one has an incurable health condition?

    This is by no means an exhaustive list, but they are some important questions you might want to consider.

    Read The Inspection Reports - The UK has four watchdogs whose job it is to inspect care homes and compile reports on facilities and care providers. These reports are public property and can give great insight into how a care home is managed and what level of care is on offer. You will be able to use those reports to see if:


    • Inspections have been frequent - this could indicate problems that need to be checked on again and again
    • Staff turnover is high - this could indicate unhappy staff who aren’t motivated of feeling valued enough within their role to stick around for very long
    • Points that inspectors have raised have been addressed, or whether they appear again on subsequent reports

    Again, this is not an exhaustive list of what you may be able to find out from inspection reports, but much as you would do when choosing a school for your child, reading up on the findings of those bodies in the know can be a big help when making a final decision. Of course, it’s not just about what the experts think….

    Personal Recommendations - A personal recommendation from a happy customer is invaluable when it comes to choosing any product or service - and care homes are no different. It’s all very well and good reading glowing inspection reports and hearing how Jackie down the road’s mum loves it there - but hearing those words from ‘mum’ herself make them all the more relevant. If you know someone who already has a relative in a care home, see if it’s possible to get in touch and talk to them about their experience.

    Getting In Touch - You probably have a few places on your list now that you want to take a closer look at, so it’s worth giving those homes a call and talking to the manager to enquire about the availability of places, and the costs; this will help you to cross any off your list that don’t have spaces or are out of your price range. You may want to ask them to send you a brochure and a breakdown of pricing etc before you make an appointment to visit. Ideally visit the care homes with the family member who will be potentially residing there, but if that’s not possible keep them well informed and take notes during your visit if necessary - are they any questions they specifically want to know the answer to? Can you show them the website or brochure before you go? It’s important that elderly relatives who are cognitively capable don’t feel that the decisions have been completely taken out of their hands.

    Most of us, at some point in our lives will have some experience of choosing a care facility for a loved one, and a difficult decision though it may be, it will be an even harder transition for the relative who will be giving up the home they have probably spent many happy years in. If you can make that change as smooth and stress-free as possible by doing plenty of research and finding somewhere to suit your loved one’s needs, there’s no reason why they won’t feel just as happy and secure in their new home for many years to come.
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  • 26/03/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    ​Care In Kent Needs YOU!

    Care In Kent Needs YOU!


    I’m sure by now you will have seen the government’s campaign calling for volunteers to help ease the pressure on the already strained NHS. In less than 24 hours more than 250,000 healthy volunteers have responded, ready to support the NHS through the coronavirus crisis by acting as community response volunteers, NHS transport volunteers, or check-an-chat volunteers.

    Care at home around the country are also feeling the strain. In just one day 103 care packages were referred in the south east of Kent - patients who are waiting to be discharged home now that their hospital beds have to be freed up for the expected influx of coronavirus patients.

    And so now we are appealing to you, former carers, to re-join us in this time of unprecedented demand for help, understanding and compassion. Your experience in this field is much needed and valued, and we urgently need your help.

    We are also appealing for volunteers to help us with community support. Maybe you don’t have a professional care background, but are able to give up your time in helping us to pick up prescriptions for those in need, or walking dogs for elderly people who are unable to because they are too vulnerable, and yet need to continue to care for what may be their only companion. There are many, many non-care duties that we desperately need your help in fulfilling.

    If you are able to help us in any capacity, either by lending us your professional care-giving skills, or by offering us community support please get in touch via this online form.

    In the meantime, please, stay safe and well, and remember, this too shall pass.


    Call us today or email us info@careinkent.co.uk


    Thank you,

    Your Care In Kent Team

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  • 24/03/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    “Mummy, What’s Wrong With Grandad?” Explaining Dementia To Children: A Guide

    Children, especially those who are very young, thrive on routine and very quickly develop a sense of what is ‘normal’ for them and their family. Anything out of the ordinary can be confusing, unwelcome, and even frightening; and so when a beloved grandparent or other elderly family member is suddenly not ‘normal’, it can be distressing. Nanny doesn’t seem to have the patience for you anymore and she’s struggling to remember the story she has told you a thousand times when you’re snuggled into her lap. Grandad is saying some strange things and he asked your Daddy who he was...yesterday he called you by a name that wasn’t yours… All distressing situations for adults, let alone for a child who is still making sense of the world. 


    So how do we explain to our children what is happening to their beloved family member when we are struggling to come to terms with the reality of it ourselves? In this guide we have put together some suggestions and tips that might help when it comes to telling children about Alzheimer’s and Dementia that, depending on the age of the child, might reassure them and allay some of their fears.

    When Is It The Best Time To Explain Alzheimer’s To A Child?

    When it comes to very grown-up subjects such as Alzheimers or dementia it can be tempting to want to put that discussion off for as long as possible - particularly if you are a little in denial or struggling with the diagnosis yourself, but kids are not stupid, and they will soon pick up on the changes in everyone’s behaviour - not just the beahviour of their ill grandparent. If your child is old enough to understand the concept of people becoming ill, then it is best to discuss the subject with them as soon as possible.

    But How Do You Avoid Frightening Them?

    Of course it is important to explain things in an age-appropriate way and in language that they will understand, but however old they are it is best not to beat around the bush with the facts.

    Incredibly young children have very limited understanding of illness or disease, if any at all, but they are still highly attuned to the atmosphere around them and easily pick up the stress in your voice, or changes in your demeanour. Your best course of action in this case is just to be as comforting and reassuring as possible with your voice and body language.

    From the ages of around 2-6 children are starting to ask lots of questions about the world around them, including why Grandad is suddenly acting differently. It is best to answer their questions as honestly as possible, and if you don’t know the answer; just say so. It is ok to express that you feel sad that Grandad is poorly, and it’s a good idea to encourage them to talk about what they have noticed and how it makes them feel.

    Slightly older children, up to pre-teens, might be ready to learn a bit more about how and why their loved one has developed dementia, and it’s important to share with them what you know. This age group might be less likely to talk about how it makes them feel to see that the grandparent they have known all their lives is changing, and they might have feelings such as anger that they’re having trouble processing and expressing. Encourage them instead to write it down in a diary or journal, or maybe they would feel more comfortable speaking to strangers going through the same thing and would like to join a support group, either in person or online.

    By their teenage years, children might have already seen a family member live with a life-changing illness, or even pass away, and so seeing someone else that they love suffer could have a huge impact on their adolescent life. They might feel that life is unfair and be incredibly angry; or maybe they are in mourning for the grandparent who used to take them out and was so involved in their life, and now doesn’t always know who they are. Let them know it’s ok to be angry, to shout even, or to be scared, and that it is always better to express that than to keep it bottled up. Teenagers are still trying to figure out who they are and what their place is in the world, and grandparents are a huge part of that identity, so it is understandable that they may well swing between acting incredibly grown up about the situation and throwing a childlike tantrum. So brace yourself...but then if you have teenagers you’re probably used to rolling with the punches when it comes to their moods!

    Honesty Is The Best Policy

    Keeping it simple when it comes to telling children the facts about dementia is always the best approach…

    • Answer their questions honestly
    • Let them know that currently there is no cure for dementia
    • Tell them that it is a condition that gets worse over time
    • Talk about ways they can still spend time and connect with their loved one, even if it’s not the same things they used to do
    • Be honest, even if it’s upsetting - building trust with them so that they will come to you and be open with their thoughts and fears is much more important than hiding the ugly truth

    We are always being told that children are resilient creatures who ‘bounce back’ in the face of adversity, but that is only true if we make them that way. When it comes to a subject like dementia and how it is affecting someone they have loved all their lives, all we can do is be honest with our children and encourage them to be honest with us so that we can get through what life throws at us together, as a family
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  • 18/03/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Elderly Fall Prevention: A complete Action Plan


    Once we get older, recovering from a fall isn’t as easy as simply getting up and dusting ourselves off before checking our knees for bruises, and recent statistics tell us that 250,000 people over the age of 65 are treated in hospital as the result of a fall every year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in that age group, and 30% of those who fall will suffer from broken bones or head injuries. Those are some frightening numbers, and a cause for concern if you have an elderly relative - especially if they live alone.


    There are several different types of fall that could be experienced by an older person, and they can be categorised into three separate types.

    1. Environmental - the most common types of fall, and usually the result of a cluttered living space.
    2. Health-based falls - caused by a chronic condition or medication side effects.
    3. Trigger falls - caused by a sudden event, ie: someone pushing past in the street, or a dog pulling on a lead.
    4. The risk of an older person falling is high due to a number of factors such as:
    5. Eyesight - changes in our vision as we age can play a huge part in causing a person to fall. It could prevent an elderly person from seeing trip hazards.
    6. Balance - Getting older can make you unsteady on your feet, and this can cause particular problems when navigating stairs or tying shoes.
    7. Medications - Dizziness is a common side effect with some medications and can make people susceptible to falls, however it is often overlooked.
    8. Chronic Health Conditions - Conditions such as Parkinson’s can cause an elderly person to fall.
    9. Cognitive Impairment - Dementia or Alzheimers can cause instability and balance issues, and head trauma caused by a fall can accelerate cognitive impairment.
    10. Lack of Safety Measures - Excessive clutter can cause a trip hazard, as can loose wiring, rugs and non-slip bath mats.

    If you are the relative, friend, partner, or carer of an elderly person there are measures you can help them take that will minimise the likelihood of experiencing a fall, and help create some piece of mind for you both.

    • Help to declutter their environment so it’s easy for them to move throughout their living space. Check for slippery surfaces, loose floorboards etc.
    • Suggest a stability device such as a walking frame or stick if it’s an idea they are open to.
    • Be aware of the side effects of medications your loved one is taking and make sure they are aware of them too.
    • Discuss safety features and help them to implement some in their home, such as anti-slip mats under rugs, non-slip bath mats, safety rails and frames in the bathroom.

    The older we become the more frail our body, and therefore the easier it is to sustain an injury. Traumatic brain injuries are a huge risk when an elderly person falls and often the symptoms don’t present until a week or two later, so it is essential to stay vigilant. Some signs to look out for if someone recently had a fall include:

    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Memory loss
    • Confusion
    • Bladder incontinence
    • Balance issues

    Even with all the possible precautions taken, a fall could still occur so it helps to be prepared for the worst and know what to do if it happens.

    • Call for medical attention immediately, even if there are no obvious signs of injury.
    • Do not try to help them straight up - your instinct will probably be to try and lift their weight, instead get pillows or towels to support their joints and make them comfortable. If the fall occurs outside you could use your coat or jumper.
    • Make sure the persons stays warm by covering them with a blanket or item of warm clothing. People who fall can be at risk of hypothermia.

    If being warm isn’t a concern and the person who has fallen feels that they can move a little, support them in continuing to make gentle movements. Staying still on one spot can cause stiffness, soreness and skin damage.

    Older people long to keep their independence for as long as possible, and with a few simple measures in place they will be able to go about their daily lives with as little risk as possible. Having a plan of action in place, that you devise together, will ensure peace of mind all round.
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  • 17/03/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Coronavirus Customer Update⚠️

    Dear friends,


    We would like to thank you for your continued loyalty and support at a time which is proving fairly confusing for us all. We want to assure you that we remain very much open as usual, but are closely monitoring the advice given from the UK Government regarding the COVID-19/Coronavirus outbreak.

    Whilst the Coronavirus #COVID19 continues to spread further across the UK, we are maintaining a calm and practical approach to this issue and taking our responsibility of our team and our clients very seriously.

    As a team, we are adhering to best practice guidelines provided by the
    Government and Public Health England. Click here to learn more https://bit.ly/33mwj2t

    So we hope you will feel the steps we are taking so far are reasonable:

    ▶️We are operating a “no shaking hands” policy to reduce the risk of
    contamination through direct contact.
    ▶️ We are encouraging our carers/clients to contact us by phone, email, video
    call and Social Media where possible and avoid unnecessary visits to our
    office.
    ▶️ Please use the hand sanitisers, wipes and or hand wash provided in the
    office if your visit is essential.
    ▶️ If you have recently (within the last 14 days) returned from any destination outside of the UK, we would respectively ask you to contact us by phone or email rather than visiting our offices.
    ▶️ If you are a carer or client and are self-isolating upon official medical advice, please make us aware before planning for an office or a home appointment.
    ▶️ If a care worker /client is concerned they have COVID-19 they should follow NHS advice.
    ▶️If you are advised to self-isolate at home you should follow the stay at home guidance.
    ▶️If advised to self-isolate at home, you should not visit and care for individuals until safe to do so.
    ▶️ AVOID TOUCHING surfaces and your face.

    This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious

    We are well prepared as a business to have all staff working from home as and if
    required and aim to carry on “business as usual”.

    Please do contact us if you have any questions and we will do our very best to
    help you.

    Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.

    Kimberley Stevens
    CEO

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  • 16/03/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Caring For Elderly Parents While Raising A Young Family: A Guide

    There are fewer things more stressful, guilt-inducing or emotional than caring for an elderly parent, or raising children. Now imagine trying to juggle both, and throw in a job and a personal life for good measure. In today’s society where people are starting families later in life, and people are living longer, many are now simultaneously becoming parents and carers, and finding themselves part of the so-called ‘sandwich’ generation. This parent/carer role is largely falling to women, with 10% of the women in the UK between the ages of 45 and 56 raising children whilst also being the sole or joint carer for their parents, or a spouse’s parents. Hearing these numbers it’s not surprising to learn that many of these women are finding themselves feeling overwhelmed and alone. 


    Every situation is different, and depending on factors such as how close you live to your ailing parents, the ages of your children, and whether or not you are also in paid employment, will all make a difference to how you balance everything. Caring for both children and the elderly requires patience, compassion and tolerance - and it’s understandable that there will be times when you will wonder where you can draw extra stores of those attributes from!

    Below we have compiled a list of coping strategies that can be applied to most situations, and hopefully will address some of the more ‘challenging’ aspects of simultaneously caring for the very old and the very young.

    Outsource - If you are trying to do everything at once and be all things to everyone, it won’t be long before you are too exhausted to care for anyone at all. Getting help is not failing - in fact sometimes it is the most sensible thing to do. Outsourcing some of the care of either your elderly parents or the kids doesn’t have to mean handing over complete responsibility; but you’ll find that just making some small changes will be hugely beneficial in helping you cope. Let’s say for example your elderly mother needs help taking her medications in the morning and getting dressed, but this clashes with the school run; does your kid’s school run a breakfast club? Being able to drop the kids at school an hour early, so they can eat with their friends and socialise before class in a safe and secure environment can offer peace of mind, and free up some time. Or maybe watching your child’s football practice after school on a wednesday clashes with the time you usually cook for your parents; could a relative or partner prepare the meal on that day? Or maybe you could employ a meals delivery service for wednesday evening instead?

    Time Management - Running around like a headless chicken because you have 95,000 things to organise at once isn’t going to help anyone, so it’s very important that you manage your time and prioritise. It can help to label tasks, such as, ‘urgent’, ‘could wait until later’ etc. For example: taking an elderly parent to a hospital or GP appointment is a top priority, but mowing their lawn can wait. A school parents’ evening or dropping the kids to a friend’s birthday party on time is a top priority, but going into town to pick them up the latest video game is not. Of course it helps if you can explain to everyone concerned that you all need to work together to distinguish the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ - easier said than done if your elderly parent is suffering from some sort of dementia, or if your kids are very little. It may be a case of having to gently explain to your mum that reorganising her kitchen for her is less important than attending your daughter’s ballet recital, or telling your son that dropping him to meet his mates right now this second isn’t as pressing as picking up his nan’s prescription.

    Have A Future Plan In Place - No one wants to expect the worst, but when it comes to caring for the elderly the situation has the potential to change very quickly; a fall, catching a sudden illness, or starting to develop signs of dementia are all examples of things that could happen and pile on extra stress. Even fit, young, and healthy people are not immune - what would you do if a child suddenly became ill, or you yourself? Having a plan in place will make it much easier to cope should something like this happen. Is there someone within the family, or an organisation, you can call upon to provide some respite care to your elderly parents should you suddenly be unable to? Is there someone you can call upon to watch the kids if your parent is suddenly admitted to hospital - or worse? Not pleasant things to think about, but these are the practical realities of being a member of the ‘sandwich generation’. And while we are at it….

    Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help - There are many reasons you might not want to reach out to others when it comes to helping with the kids and your elderly parents. Pride, embarrassment, not wanting to be a burden….maybe even feelings of guilt, but if you yourself buckle under the strain then everyone suffers. It is much better to reach out when you can feel it’s becoming too much, and you’ll find that more often than not people are happy to lend a helping hand. Is there a friend who would be happy to grab a few extra bits for your parents while they are shopping so that you don’t have to pop back to the supermarket when you’ve already been; or pick the kids up from their after school clubs when they get their own kids. You’ll find that these sorts of requests are usually met with a ‘yes’ - particularly as they don’t involve anyone going out of their way, but would be hugely beneficial to you in terms of time-saving and scheduling.

    Talk To Your Employer - It could be that on top of everything else you have going on that you are also trying to balance a paid job as well! Most employers will make allowances for working parents, but what about if you need time off because it is your mother who is sick, rather than your child? Speak to your HR department and do some research so that you know your rights. It could be that your employer can offer you flexi-time or a day working from home, or, at the very least, be able to show more compassion and understanding if you are sometimes late or seem stressed or overwhelmed.

    Try And Schedule In Some ‘Me’ Time - Easier said than done I’m sure, but it is incredibly important that you put aside some time where you only have to think about yourself - even if it’s just for an hour a week. Choose a day when there aren’t any after school commitments or doctors appointments scheduled and plan for it in advance. Arrange for the kids’ dad to take them out for something to eat so that you don’t have to cook and can have the house to yourself and enjoy a long bath; or hire a babysitter and enjoy a date night. You can make sure you have your phone to hand for emergencies, but it is important for your own mental health to be able to take even a small amount of time to step back and put your own needs first.

    It’s Ok To Moan About It - On occasion we all need to vent, and it’s perfectly normal and healthy to have days where you feel you need to complain; afterall, the kids have been a nightmare this week and the washing machine’s broken, and now your dad wants you to come round and explain online shopping for the 96,000th time….Sharing your frustration with a partner or friend can be a cathartic way of letting it all out, thinking together of ways to solve the problem, and maybe even laughing about the situation, before taking a deep breath and starting again.

    Accept The Guilt - No one ever really feels that they are a good enough parent 100% of the time, and those feelings are magnified if you are also splitting your time and attention with your elderly parents. But guilt is a draining and counterproductive emotion and so it is important to recognise that and talk about it with someone impartial to help your gain perspective. Always remember that if the time comes that you have to seek the help of a professional care facility or organisation in order to make sure that everyone’s needs are met, it doesn’t mean that you have failed your parents - accepting help when it comes to caring for the elderly is a sign of strength, not weakness, and if conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer's start to present themselves it can be a necessity.

    Be sure to remind yourself often of all the good that you do and what you achieve on a day-to-day basis. You may have to adjust your expectations of yourself to be more realistic - you are only human after all, but above all, be kind to yourself too and remember you are not alone.

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  • 07/03/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    What Are The Signs That Your Elderly Parents Need Help? And What Do You Do If They Refuse It?

    There are fewer things scarier than getting older, but watching your parents get older is definitely one of them. Afterall, we have always known them as strong and independent; as our caregivers. They are the people we turn to when we are feeling scared, or worried, or in need of help. So what happens when the tables are turned, as they inevitably are, and it is our turn to care for them? How are they going to react to you suggesting they visit a doctor, or telling them to take things easy, or asking if they need help with anything? Will you even be able to recognise the signs that they need help in the first place? And what will you do if they refuse to accept that help?


    Obviously the effects of getting older don’t happen overnight, and so it will probably be an accumulation of the changes you notice in your parents’ habits and behaviours that will alert you that maybe the time has come to suggest some help. Signs such as:

    A Lack Of Interest - Has your dad always been a keen gardener? Does your mum always meet her friends in town for a coffee on a Wednesday? Do they both always attend church and participate keenly in social events? If there are certain hobbies and interests that your parents have always enjoyed, and this suddenly changes, it could point to an underlying problem. Obviously we all have ‘off’ days, regardless of age, and there may well be times when they simply aren’t in the mood to do something they normally enjoy. But if they are regularly lacking the energy and enthusiasm for the things they have previously always looked forward to, it might be time to offer some help. Perhaps these changes are down to your parents starting to feel concerns about driving or taking public transport, and you could offer a lift or accompany them on occasion; or perhaps there is an unaddressed medical issue and you can gently suggest a trip to their GP.

    Changes In Personal Hygiene - If you notice that one or both of your parents is no longer taking care of themselves in the same way they used to, it could be down to a number of reasons. Maybe your dad’s worn that same shirt the last three times you’ve seen him because he’s struggling after losing your mum; or perhaps your mum hasn’t had her hair done recently because there are financial issues. Either way, make having a conversation about what you have noticed your first step. This can then lead to a visit to a doctor if needed, or looking at the household budget. Sometimes a change in personal hygiene habits can be an early sign of depression or Alzheimers, so it’s important that these changes are recognised and discussed.

    Forgetfulness - It’s natural for everyone to be forgetful at times, but if you are noticing that your parents are increasingly forgetting to pay bills or keep appointments, or are repeating themselves often and putting things in unusual places, it might be time to seek some help. Speaking to your parents’ doctor about a medical and cognitive evaluation would be helpful in determining whether it could be the onset of dementia, or other medical issues. As with most things, it is better to diagnose conditions like this early so it is worth bringing this up with a medical professional as soon as you start to notice any symptoms.

    Trouble Getting About - It is to be expected that as we age we are going to be less steady on our feet, and maybe you have noticed recently that your parent is having trouble walking or getting up from their chair, or that the stairs are becoming increasingly difficult. Age-related issues such as muscle or joint pain make these problems fairly common, so talk to your parents about seeing their GP in case there are medication options that could help. It might be a case of discussing with your parents the possibility of making modifications to the home, or implementing the use of a walker or cane.

    Lack Of Appetite - Have you noticed that your parents are losing weight, or aren’t cooking proper meals? Is the fridge full of food that has gone out of date before it can be consumed? This can often be the case if you have sadly lost one of your parents, and the other doesn’t feel that there is much point in preparing food for one. Maybe they weren’t the one who normally did the cooking, or they are struggling with reading recipes, using appliances or getting to the shops. It is worth persuading your parents to see a GP; maybe there is an issue with taste and smell that needs to be checked out. You can also help by checking that the cupboards and fridge are stocked with quick and healthy options, and that they are staying hydrated - particularly in hot weather. Employing a meal delivery service, or even preparing meals yourself might also be an option if that is something they are open to.

    The Appearance Of Injuries - If you are suddenly noticing minor injuries such as bruises and scratches when you visit your parents, it could be a sign that your loved one is having trouble taking care of themselves. It could be that the house needs a bit of a revamp in order to make it easier for them to get around without hurting themselves. If it’s a case of them tripping or falling often then a visit to the doctor should be encouraged to check that there isn’t an underlying medical issue.

    A Change In Personality - Seeing personality changes in someone you love as they grow older could be an early warning sign of conditions such as Alzheimers or dementia. Are your parents displaying odd behaviours such as accusing others of saying and doing things, especially in the evenings? Late-day confusion or, ‘sundowning’, as it is known can be one explanation and it is thought that not enough exposure to natural sunlight could be a contributing factor. As with any changes in an older person’s physical or cognitive health, a visit to the GP is recommended.

    Of course it’s all very well and good recognising some of these signs and talking to your parents about your concerns for them, but what can you do if they refuse help? Maybe they think you are worrying unnecessarily, or don’t want to burden you with their health issues. It could be that they are worried themselves about their own health, especially if they are aware that they’re becoming more forgetful or unsteady on their feet and are avoiding the situation - and the doctor, under the misguided idea that ‘ignorance is bliss’.

    Discuss Options Early - In an ideal world subjects such as care homes or in-home help etc would be discussed within families far in advance of the services actually being needed. A huge factor in people refusing help as they get older can be the fear of losing independence, whereas if they have already made decisions about what measures they want put in place when they become older they can retain those feelings of being in control of their own lives.

    Speak To A Professional - If your parents won’t speak to you about their health concerns then try to convince them to speak to a professional - either an agency that specifically deals with the concerns of more senior citizens, or even their GP. If they refuse and you are really concerned about their well-being, you could speak to these organisations yourself and see what advice they offer.

    Don’t Give Up - Although it can be frustrating when someone is refusing the help you think they so badly need, don’t forget that it’s not half as frustrating as needing help and feeling too proud or stubborn to ask for it! Most parents will be touched by your concern and all too happy to put your mind at rest by accepting your suggestions, but for those who don’t, all is not lost. Unless you feel that there is a serious and immediate danger to their health, your best bet is to be patient and kind, make gentle suggestions, and help out where you can.

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  • 29/02/2020 0 Comments
    Carers: Unskilled Labour, Or Our Most Undervalued Resource?

    The job title, ‘carer’ is a simple one, and one that doesn’t even begin to encompass the complexity of what the role entails. To be a carer is not simply just to help with the daily needs and activities of the elderly or infirm - such as feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting. It is so much more; it is also lifting and moving. It is helping with cooking and cleaning, vacuuming, changing beds. Being a carer is administering medications or helping to change dressings. It is helping with tasks such as shopping, banking, transportation. It is observing, monitoring and recording the client's physical and mental well-being. It is listening and encouraging. It is kindness and patience. 


    It is also misunderstood, undervalued, and poorly paid - and has recently been labelled by the government as ‘unskilled’, which is ignorant at best and insulting and dangerous at worst. Caring for the most frail and vulnerable members of our society requires a great deal of skill. It requires high empathy, understanding and incredible levels of patience. Caring is a highly intimate profession that demands high levels of tolerance, humour even, and in some cases maybe a strong stomach, determination and strength. Carers leave their own lives at the door when they enter work; they don’t allow their welfare of their clients to be compromised by their personal lives, by their bad moods or other emotions. Carers put the emotional and physical needs of others before their own - Every. Single. Day.

    This is not a skill set that is innate to every human being. Could you do it? Sure, we all do our best to be kind, patient and unselfish, but I think very few us could truly admit that we could continue to showcase those skills while someone with severe dementia is yelling at us or being cruel, or while we spend two hours helping a frail person around a busy supermarket, or are cleaning someone who hasn’t made it to the toilet in time for the third time that day...and all while being respectful and maintaining dignity for that person. In fact, this very specific skill set is so rare that it greatly contributes to the shortage of carers in this country, and so the industry relies greatly on immigrant carers, as well as those who are British born.

    This makes the government’s recent comments about introducing an immigration points system particularly worrying for the care industry. Foreign nationals currently make up a sixth of the 840,000 care workers in the UK, but under the government’s new plans anyone wanting to apply to work in the UK care sector from abroad would fall short of the points required to enter the country; both due to it being labelled ‘unskilled’ work, and the fact that it is a low-paid occupation (under £20,000 on average).

    On top of that, care work still isn’t classed as a shortage occupation, despite the fact that 1 in 11 posts is currently unfilled, and it is this lack of awareness of the industry by the government, coupled with their, quite frankly, offensive comments about the work being unskilled, are an incredibly dangerous combination - throw in added problem of incredibly low pay, and we have a ticking time bomb. At some point in our lives it is likely we will all need the assistance of a carer (even you, Mr Primeminister), whether that be because we develop dementia or a disability, or simply because we will age. And when that time comes I’m sure we all want to be cared for by someone who feels appreciated enough within that role to offer us their skills of compassion, understanding, patience, kindness and warmth.

    Who will care for us, if we don’t care for our carers?

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  • 13/02/2020 - Kim Stevens 0 Comments
    Keeping An Eye On Elderly Neighbours During The Winter Months

    The cold winter weather is unpleasant for everyone, but for your elderly neighbours it can mean more than just having to defrost the car and turning the heating up a bit. Older people can struggle in a variety of ways during the winter months; they are more susceptible to illnesses and might find it difficult to go about their daily routine if there is ice or snow on the ground. Maybe they aren’t capable of preparing themselves a hot meal or staying warm due to high heating bills or immobility. Looking after those vulnerable members of our community is easier if we know a bit about the dangers they might face, and how we can help. The first step is getting to know your elderly neighbours and take note of their routines and lifestyle. Do they live alone? Have a lot of visitors? Have a carer who comes in? Do they have issues with mobility, or are they still quite active? All of these things will contribute to their quality of life, and it is those who live alone and have no visitors that aren’t able to get out and about who might need your support most during the winter months. Let’s take a look at some of the problems the elderly might face.


    ● Illnesses - As we get older our immune system becomes weaker, making it much harder to fight off germs and infections. Colds, flu, norovirus, and pneumonia are all common winter ailments, and over 60% of cases of those illnesses that need hospital treatment are in people over 65.


    ● Staying Warm - Muscle mass keeps us warm, and over the age of 55 we begin to lose 1% of our muscle mass every year; combine that with the fact that older bodies have to work harder to keep warm and you can see how the cold can put more pressure on our circulatory systems and hearts. Being exposed to cold temperatures can cause blood pressure to rise, and the blood to thicken, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.


    ● Disabilities - An older person could suffer many disabilities to varying degrees, whether that means being immobile and housebound, or just struggling with getting about due to arthritis or frailty. Colder weather, especially prolonged periods or extreme conditions such as snow, could mean that older people feel even more isolated and lonely - particularly if the weather is too bad for them to go about their daily routine, or for relatives or friends to visit. If there is an older person in your community that could be affected by any of these factors,
    there are some things you could do to help out during the cold weather that would make their lives a little easier. Such as:


    ● Helping With Medications - Everyone over the age of 65 is entitled to a free flu jab,even those who are fit and healthy. Do your elderly neighbours need help getting to a doctor or a pharmacy to have the jab? Maybe they don’t drive, or do, but are wary of driving to the doctors or walking to a bus stop in icy weather. Could you offer a lift? Let your neighbour know that there is a vaccine for pneumonia too, they can ask when they go for their flu jab if they are eligible. Find out if your neighbour needs to stock up on any cold or sore throat remedies, or needs any prescriptions picking up. Sometimes older people don’t like to ask others for favours for fear of putting them out, but not nipping symptoms in the bud if they are feeling under the weather could be a recipe for disaster that leads to nastier illnesses.


    ● Are They warm Enough? - It is a sad fact that a lot of elderly people, particularly those living alone on a state pension struggle to afford to heat their homes. If you have an elderly neighbour whom you suspect may be experiencing this situation advise them to get in touch with Age UK, or call them for some advice yourself. They might be able to support with heating costs or give energy-saving tips, such as government funded schemes for cavity wall insulation etc. Practical ways you can help is checking that they have enough blankets and warm clothing, such as thick socks to keep feet warm, gloves, and scarves.


    ● Encourage Them To Move - Possibly not the easiest subject for a neighbour to broach, but it is important that older people don’t stay inactive for long periods, especially during cold weather. Even if someone has a condition that makes movements difficult, any small amount of activity is better than none. If you are on really good terms with your neighbour, maybe just ask them if they are staying relatively active and mention some of the health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and keeping joints supple.


    ● Are They Eating Well? - At least one hot meal a day, as well as hot drinks, are important during the winter. If the weather has been particularly bad, could you offer to pick a few things up from the shop so they don’t have to go out? Are you cooking a large family meal and have made a bit extra that you could take round for them to heat up? This will all depend on how independent your neighbour is - perhaps they get shopping delivered, and are perfectly capable of cooking themselves a hot meal. It pays to be vigilant and offer a helping hand if you feel it’s needed.

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