A Woman of Passion & Purpose

By Wiley Sloan

My Choice Home Care is predicated upon compassionate assistance to aging adults. 

My Choice Home Care. operated by Tricia Wheeler, provides home care for aging adults.

After receiving news of her grandmoth­er’s Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, Tricia became interested in ways to help her grandmother, an independent woman that had spent her life helping people as a Reg­istered Nurse, and those like her to cope with their new diagnosis. Tricia decided to pursue a career in Health Administration to safeguard that aging adults received the care they deserved and to provide their families with the peace of mind.

Tricia operates My Choice Home Care with passion and purpose. She endeavors to provide the best lifestyle possible for her clients – just as she hoped to provide for her own grandmother. My Choice Home Care and Its team of companion caregiv­ers help its clients to maintain the freedom they yearn for while receiving the care that they require.

Tricia holds a Bachelor of Science In Busi­ness Administration and a Masters of Health Administration from the University of South Carolina. She also received a Certificate of Graduate Studies in Gerontology from the University of South Carolina. In the past, she served as the director of an as­sisted living and dementia unit and as the executive director of two continuing care retirement communities. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, the Highlands Mountaintop Rotary Club, and the Better Business Bureau.

Learn more about My Choice Home Care go to the website at mychoicehome.care or call (828) 200-9000 to discuss how My Choice Home Care can help your family.

The Peggy Crosby Center is a non-profit organization established to provide of­fice space for other non-profits or start up organizations. Rental Rates to the ten­ants are held as low as possible to allow the tenants to use more of their funds to serve the community.

 

What if your aging loved one chooses to live at home?

Aging in place is the dream of many senior citizens as they reach retirement. Living at home rather than at a health care environment can provide a great deal of comfort as they experience life changes that come with aging.

A companion caregiver can be beneficial to your aging loved ones if they choose to live at home. To make living at home a viable option, however, choose a home or remodel the home with universal design in mind. Universe design is the concept that a wide variety of people can use the features of a home. Some of the tenets of universal design include equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive use, tolerance for error, size & space is approachable and low chance of physical error. An interior designer or architect that specializes in elder-friendly design can give you some ideas on how to achieve this.

Some of the things that would be ideal for aging at home include a no step entry, a single floor living plan, wide doorways and halls, reachable controls and switches, and easy to use handles and switches. Also front loading appliances, a side by side refrigerator, a shower stall with built in benches, easy to open windows, a covered entryway, appropriate task lighting, and easy to grasp cabinet pulls can provide a safe home and easy to use home for all people no matter their age or capabilities.

Designing a house that can be lived in forever decreases the stress of aging for families because your aging loved one knows that they can be in their home, where they have lived and loved for so many years. It decreases the expense of having to pay for a care center, eliminates the stress of moving, and provides a safe haven in the face of uncertainty for senior citizens. If at-home-care is what your family is striving for, then remodeling or buying a house with universal design concepts in mind can make it a possibility.

Hearing Loss and Quality of Life

In addition to vision loss, your aging loved one may be experiencing a decrease in their hearing. Hearing loss may cause cognitive decline and a decrease in your aging loved one’s quality of life.

There are different types of hearing loss and each individual person may experience varying degrees of it. Those types include auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder, mixed hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and conductive hearing loss.

There are a variety of devices that may help your loved one. Their doctor may prescribe a hearing aid, implanted devices, or personal amplifiers depending on the degree of loss and type of hearing loss.

Losing hearing can be discouraging but just as with vision loss; learning to use other senses can make a difference. Some people may benefit from having their friends and family look at them while they talk so that their senior can read lips.

It’s important for family and friends to be patient with their aging loved one as they cope with life with decreased ability to hear. Often loved ones may feel frustrated at having to repeat themselves or at having to speak with a higher volume, but it’s key to realize that outwardly showing frustration may hurt their aging loved one’s feelings and self-esteem.

A companion caregiver can also help your family think of ways to cope with hearing loss. From experience they may have some tips or suggestions on how to maintain a good quality of life for your aging loved one despite loss of hearing.

Dance in the Rain: Uncertainty in the Face of Aging

Accepting that life has changed for your family may prove difficult in the face of chronic illness or the changing quality of life of your aging loved one. Aging takes a toll not only on the ones growing older but also on the family of the aging loved one. Seeing that mom or dad can’t travel like they used to or accepting that your loved one is having a hard time adjusting to new limitations can be challenging and sometimes it’s really sad.

A sense of hope and optimism is crucial to quality of life for you and your aging loved one. No one is ever too old to ‘dance in the rain’. Life is full of broken wings and shadowy sad moments, but there is sunlight and the smell of rain, tears and laughter; there is nothing more beautiful than hope in the face of bleakness. Happiness can lift you higher than anything that weighs you down.

Here are five guiding principles to assist you and your aging loved one in your dance with the uncertainty of aging and illness:

  1. Practice integrity, intention, and purpose.

This requires that you pay close attention to your beliefs, thoughts, words, choices, and actions. What lends purpose and meaning to your life? What will lend purpose and meaning to your aging loved one’s life?  Be honest in all aspects of your and their life. Seek to know who you are and who you ultimately want to be. Ask them who they are and how they came to be that. This is a moment that you can truly learn from the wisdom your aging loved one has developed over their lifetime.  Be clear about what you most desire and take steps in the direction of your dreams .Know why you want this new reality. Does it add meaning to your life? What do you hope for your aging loved one’s life? What do they hope for their own lives?

  1. Be flexible.

See every challenging step as an occasion to stretch and develop new skills. Breathe deeply and rise to the occasion when presented with a challenge. This will help you and your aging loved one reduce stress and be hopeful. While there are necessary steps to be taken in each task and it’s important to remain true to what is essential, leave room for spontaneity.

  1. Trust and practice serenity.

No matter how you practice or view a higher power, trust life to lead the way. Don’t be so committed to being in control of everything. It is impossible to control everything. Release your best work and then allow life to go as it will. Whatever is meant to happen, always will. Whatever is meant to be, will be no matter what we do. Do what is within your power and surrender the rest. Accept that you can control are your actions and thoughts, but little else.

  1. Laugh.

Life is meant to be fun. Make time to laugh with your aging loved one and have fun with their companion caregiver too. Lighten up and release the need to be perfect. There is not anyone giving out trophies for most self-sacrificing and serious caregiver. Remember to laugh.  Plans may not always work out. Don’t be rigid.

Today no matter what, make time to enjoy your time with you aging loved one.

Role Reversal

It can be hard for adult children to notice the hands that once made their favorite meal no longer able to open a can or the hands that held them stable as they learned to ride their bike, now shaking. Asking for help, asking for their children to hold onto them because they are a little unsteady walking down stairs can be hard for aging parents too.

There are hurdles to overcome when caring for aging parents but this role reversal has the capacity to unite families rather than divide.

It’s important for caregivers to know when to ask for help. It’s key to explore all available options for help. It’s not just family members that can help, but friends and professional companion caregivers as well. Peace of mind home care can help families deal with the role reversal that they are experiencing by reducing the care giving tasks that an adult child has to take on.

Besides having a break from care giving tasks, it’s important to seek support and encouragement by linking up with others that are caring for their aging loved ones. Churches are often a good source of help because they offer support groups and have volunteers that might be willing to assist with care giving. Some churches also provide activities that enrich seniors.

Having a sense of humor and having fun together reminds caregivers and their aging parents that their relationship isn’t just about satisfying responsibilities. Savoring simple moments like taking a walk in the park together can really make a difference. Delighting in the time they have together can help caregivers and their aging loved ones face the changes between how life used to be and how it is now, strengthen their bond, and grow their love for one another.

Things Not to Say to Your Aging Loved One

A slip of the tongue or sharply delivered comment can deliver unnecessary pain for aging loved ones. It is easy to be irritated when Mom asks daily how to use the remote control or falls asleep in the middle of their grandson’s violin recital. It can hurt when Dad can’t remember their granddaughter’s name or can’t remember birthdays anymore. However, it is important not to blame the aging loved one for their diminished capacity. Often they are aware of how they aren’t like they used to be. It can be defeating and a bitter pill to swallow for the aging loved one and for their adult children.

The delivery of the message can make a world of difference. Seniors often lose short term memory before long term and forget all kinds of things that might seem hard to forget, like appointments or where they put their glasses. Place notes around their home to remind them and be mindful of tone.

Changing a light bulb or tying their shoes – seemingly simple tasks- can become extraordinarily difficult with arthritis. Instead of shaming, come up with solutions like having a nephew change light bulbs or take out the trash. Buy slip on shoes or Velcro shoes rather than lace ups.

Gadgets can be hard to adjust to with all capacities in place, imagine trying to learn how to use the remote with 5,000 buttons with shaky hands and poor eyesight. Instead of saying, “I just showed you this yesterday”, explain again with a kind voice. Or write clear instructions to leave near the device. Best of all: Buy senior-friendly gadgets.

Sometimes aging adults can be in the middle of a conversation talking and then shift topics without warning. If it was an important subject, stir the conversation back to the topic or bring up another time. Do your best to not point fingers.

When  the story of how Aunt Midge’s dog ate the brownies off the counter gets boring after the 6th time hearing it, ask yourself, do you never repeat yourself? It’s important not to lose patience and try your best not to hurt their feelings.

All in all, getting frustrated is human, but so are the problems associated with aging like memory loss or diminished strength. Practice grace and be gentle. Caregiving isn’t just caring for the health of your aging loved one, it’s caring for their heart too.