Senior Helpers Takes Caregiving to the Next Level With New Alzheimer's and Dementia Program

Senior In-Home Care Company Creates Revolutionary “Senior Gems” Program to Help Families Cope

November 07, 2011 // Franchising.com // Alzheimer’s disease is among the top ten leading causes of death in the United States, affecting more than five million people across the nation. And for each person with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, there can be as many as four individuals providing their daily care. That’s why Senior Helpers, one of the largest in-home care companies for seniors, has created a revolutionary program to help caregivers and families properly care for their elderly loved ones battling these devastating diseases.

The Senior Gems Program is the first of its kind in the in-home care industry. It’s a step-by-step guide that teaches caregivers and families how to care for their beloved seniors through each stage of dementia and Alzheimer’s. It aims to improve the lives of families touched by these debilitating diseases, both locally and nationally.

“Alzheimer’s and dementia are particularly difficult for family caregivers because it can be an emotional journey for everyone involved. Not only can the senior become frustrated with their memory loss, but family members who often play the role of caregiver can start feeling what’s called 'caregiver burnout,'" says Christina Chartrand, head of the Senior Gems Program at Senior Helpers. “That’s why the Senior Gems Program is so significant. It not only keeps our caregivers up to date on training techniques but it also teaches family members tips for caregiving success.”

The Senior Gems Program:

  • All Senior Helpers locations are being trained on the new caregiver curriculum.
  • A core group of Senior Helpers caregivers will become dementia and Alzheimer’s care certified through the training program.
  • Families will receive a one-of-a-kind DVD (produced by Senior Helpers) featuring a dementia care expert, where she addresses common questions regarding caring for a loved one with all forms of dementia.
  • The program breaks down the stages of dementia into six progressive stages – it helps professional caregivers and families better understand how to communicate with their elderly loved one.

“I thought dementia was a memory issue – when in fact, it’s really brain failure,” says Christina Chartrand, head of the Senior Gems Program at Senior Helpers.

“Senior Gems educates people about the difference between aging and dementia.”

A Real Life “Gems” Scenario:

A elderly baker with dementia gets up every morning at 5 a.m. to go downstairs – because a good caregiver realizes stairs are a safety issue, they block them off. This action upsets the elderly man and he becomes agitated with the caregiver. This agitation, which is very common in Alzheimer’s patients, build a wall in communication with the caregiver. The Senior Gems Program helped the caregiver understand that their patient simply wants to make donuts – that’s all he’s ever known at 5 a.m. That was the sole trigger of his agitation. So instead of blocking the stairs, the better solution would have been to simply give him flour and water.

Caring For Elderly Parents Creates A New Health Care Challenge:

  • The primary family caregiver (usually the middle aged eldest daughter who is also working) spends an average of at least 20 hours per week caring for an elderly parent.
  • 40% of caregivers who work full time report missing work on a regular basis due to the health needs of an elderly loved one.
  • 17% report their health has gotten worse as a result of family caregiving.
  • 23% of those providing care for family members for five or more years report health as fair or poor.

Senior Helpers and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) recently announced a strategic partnership to help raise more awareness about Alzheimer’s disease nationwide. “The AFA believes that empowering caregivers and families through education is the first step in properly taking care of a loved one battling the disease,” says Eric J. Hall, AFA’s Founding President and CEO. “AFA has reviewed the Senior Gems training created by Senior Helpers and we encourage all families who are dealing with this heartbreaking disease to utilize this program as a valuable resource in helping to provide compassionate care for loved ones.”

The Senior Gems Program makes for a nice tie-in piece to National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and National Memory Screening Day. I’m happy to set up interviews with Senior Helpers’ caregivers who are becoming dementia and Alzheimer’s care certified through the new program, and in some cases, interviews with families who will benefit from Senior Gems.

Sources: Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, National Institute on Aging, National Alliance for Caregiving, Harvard School of Public Health, Chicago Life Magazine

About Senior Helpers:

Senior Helpers connects professional caregivers with seniors who wish to live at home as opposed to a nursing or assisted living facility. The company has 300 franchises in 39 states and one in Canada offering a wide range of personal and companion care services to assist seniors living independently with a strong focus on quality of life for the client and peace of mind for their families. Senior Helpers strives to be the leading companion and personal care provider that offers dependable, consistent and affordable home care. For more information, please visit www.seniorhelpers.com.

Media Contacts:
Stacey Hilton, 919.459.8163, shilton@seniorhelpers.com
Sue Yannello, 919.459.8162, syannello@seniorhelpers.com

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