Hire a Home CareGiver: What to Watch For

Chances are good that your loved one wants to remain at home as long as possible.   I know I do.  And let’s be honest about that – it’s not an easy promise to keep.  In fact, it isn’t always possible to do that.  But it can be more possible when you hire a caregiver to work in the home.

When that is possible, you want assurance that the person you hire to provide helping hands is going to be reliable and trustworthy.

Check out these AARP tips for hiring an in-home provider.

Then give us a call!

hire caregiver, peace of mind, home care, home health, maine

When Someone You Love is Dying

Every human life comes to a close.  Intellectually, we all know that.  At that level, it’s just a fact.  Death happens.

We’ll all end up as a little piece of history.  That doesn’t take on any real meaning until we’ve actually bumped up against it.  Even then, it can be pretty tough to open ourselves to the inevitable.

We can’t point to a place in history to exclaim, “See?  Here’s one.  No Death!”

It seems that some aspects of opening up to our mortality just naturally want to be placed on hold.  Recognizing that someone we love or care for is nearing death remains at serious odds with other complex emotions.  It’s awfully hard to imagine, “What if this is it?” We naturally want to hold hope that this isn’t “it.”

What isn’t hard to imagine is how you can be supported through that.

Whether a family caregiver, a friend, or someone supporting a family, knowing how to serve in that capacity goes a long way to reduce anxiety.  Recently, Lincoln Home offered community education on Sharing the Care.  It’s an amazing way to build a team of supporters in a short period of time.  Whether for a pending death or to help someone through a rough patch with their health and recovery, having proficient skills in basic care-giving can be a saving grace.

It’s inevitable. When you’re called upon to provide care for someone who means a lot to you, a care-provider class will give you valuable skills and confidence.

After-Death Care

Believe it or not, this is an important piece for connecting with your loved-one and healing loss.  Check out the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine for information on after-death care and making home funeral arrangements.

Veteran Style: Living with Fierce Independence

A Veteran in Maine can face many challenges with aging.  Wishing to remain independently at home is quite common for any senior.  The Veterans Administration at Togus offers a wide variety of services to meet the needs of senior and/or disabled veterans: mobile and satellite clinics, tele-medicine, traveling physicians/nurses, and many other services, including these important home care services.


If you are a veteran receiving your primary medical care through the Veterans Administration system, you may be eligible for services to support your ability to remain at home with as high a quality of life as possible.

How does that work?  Your primary care physician at Togus actually needs to hear if you are having challenges with independent living.  That’s a pretty tough thing for any service member to say out loud. You might feel that being a veteran is about being tough, self-sufficient, and able to take care of yourself and everyone around you.  In fact, you may even feel that being a military person is about duty, responsibility, and not asking for help.


Being a veteran is tough duty, for sure.  Many vets believe they are “not sick enough.” They think they should “save the benefits for someone who really needs them.”  The truth is, former service members often go without services they truly need.  If the services are available and you are eligible for them, you need to know that this kind of thinking is flawed.  There is enough to go around.  A veteran with the courage to ask for help is not, repeat NOT, taking services from anyone else.

A proud veteran recognizes that after serving his or her country, the country really wants to serve them back.  Unsure?  Make an appointment with your VA Primary Care Provider to discuss your needs and options.

The State of Maine values its veterans in many ways, some of which may surprise you!  Check the Maine.gov website for more information.

veteran, home care, independence, home care, newcastle, maine

Memory Loss: Age-related forgetfulness or something else?

Relax (a little). Not all memory loss is caused by dementia.

Okay, which is it? Memory loss or forgetfulness? Normal aging includes some forgetfulness for most people, so relax (a little). Our brains do get old, like every other part of our bodies.  Do you have those senior moments? You know the ones:

Looking for the reading glasses propped on your head

Going into a room and not remembering why you went there

Leaving your grocery list at home

Losing your car keys

While some brains are more affected by normal aging than others, you may be concerned about having too many senior moments. Others may be telling you another family member is losing his/her memory. Ignoring concerns like these may mean delaying needed help. People suffering memory loss can feel isolated, afraid, and unable to talk about their concerns.  Some develop ways to compensate so friends and family won’t worry about them, leaving the problem undetected.  This can leave them vulnerable and at risk.

Dementia is a term used to describe symptoms related to memory loss.

Memory loss associated with aging is not the same thing as disease-related memory loss.  People who suffer with dementia lose memory faster.  The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America website is one helpful resource to learn more about disease-related memory loss:

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia itself is not a disease, but a term used to describe symptoms such as loss of memory, loss of judgment and other intellectual functions. Alzheimer’s disease can cause dementia

Keep in mind that not all memory problems are a result of dementia. Other causes can be involved, including vitamin deficiency, thyroid problems, urinary tract infections, medication side effects, stress, and depression.

Memory screening is not used to diagnose any particular illness, but to determine if memory impairment is a problem

So how can you tell if you or your loved one is experiencing memory problems that are cause for concern? A simple series of questions can help you know if there is cause for concern. The General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition (GPCOG) is one of several simple assessment tools designed to help identify potential disease-related memory loss, but please note:

Memory screening is not used to diagnose any particular illness and does not replace consultation with a qualified physician or other healthcare professional.

If you don ‘t have an assessment tool, then you can simply ask questions that do not allow a yes or no response.  Instead of asking, “Did you eat breakfast today?” you can ask something more like “Tell me what you ate this morning.” Rather than, “Did you talk to Aunt Mabel yesterday?” try asking “What did Aunt Mabel tell you?”  Ask “What’s the date today?” or “Who is the president?”

Here’s the memory loss bottom line: If you  worry about memory loss in yourself or someone you care about or if someone expresses concern for you or someone you know, then don’t wait.  Schedule an appointment with a provider who is qualified to do a thorough memory assessment.

Do it sooner rather than later.

Why Talk About Home Care? Well, Why Not?

Home care? I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it

Many seniors resist home care because they feel they should be able to manage things on their own.  Whether they should or not isn’t really the question.  There’s no rule stating that seniors should be able to manage on their own.  Using the word “should” under these circumstances sometimes helps people avoid facing the word “can’t.”

If you are the adult child of a senior who is needing a little extra help around the house, you might try posing some different kinds of questions with your loved one.  It could mean all the difference in being able to support their desire to remain independent.  Your desire to avoid exhausting yourself as a family caregiver will be well served, too!

How long do you want to remain independently in your home/apartment?

People who truly want to remain in their homes generally respond with words like forever or I’m not going anywhere.  I’m going to die here.  And that’s fine.  There could be some obstacles to making that possible, though.  Forethought and planning ahead can help.  Following up with more specific questions can pave the way to meaningful discussion.  And that can pave the way to putting a workable care plan in place for the long haul.

“Mom, dad, what steps are you taking right now to ensure that can happen for you?”

Home care why? Why not?

This is just about the time a deer-in-the-headlights look may flash across your folks’ faces.  You’ll know you’ve work to do if the response is a wave of the hand and “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”  It’s obviously important not to argue.  Getting into a tug-o-war when mom or dad dig in their heels won’t solve anything.  It could actually make the situation worse.

Are you willing to talk about putting some plans in place before things aren’t fine?

It takes a lot of patience and, in some cases, an iron will to set aside family dynamics and become the calm voice of reason.  Try acknowledging how important the wish to stay at home feels, and forge ahead:

There’ll be a lot of bridges to cross and I know you’re fine at the moment.  I’d like it to be possible that things remain fine for you.  Are you willing to talk about putting some plans in place before things aren’t fine?

It isn’t easy for anyone to say, “No, I’m not willing,” even when entrenched.  If you frame your questions so an affirmative response is easier to say, you can gain a lot of ground very quickly in your conversations.  Avoiding use of the word why helps remove potentially defensive reactions.  That allows the question to come through more clearly.   Structuring framework or boundaries around questions helps keep the focus.

Rather than using the word why, try using how or what

Using the word why can trigger defensiveness in some conversations.  Stating that your senior should get help around the house can set off an emotional response, making conversation more difficult.

What does it feel like when you think about someone who isn’t me taking you to get your groceries once a week? (Basically says, “This isn’t going to be easy for either of us” and sets the boundary that it won’t always be you helping to run errands.).

Home care running errands

When you are no longer driving,  what’s the best way for getting to your appointments while I’m working? (Implies the inevitable loss of driving without saying “when you can no longer” or “when you aren’t able.”  Sets boundary around when adult child will or will not be available.).

When you think about someone coming to do light housekeeping or cooking with you, what kind of reaction do you have? (Allows expression of concerns and sets boundaries. Notice use of “with you” rather than “for you.”).

home care kitchen help

Loads of errands, cleaning, cooking, appointments, fun excursions, and some wonderful companionship can happen with just a few hours a week.  Home care takes the pressure off family caregivers.  It helps seniors establish and maintain new relationships.  In-home care lends a sense of safety and confidence to seniors who really want to stay at home as long as possible.

Share these top five reasons to choose in-home care with your loved one.  Then contact One2One Home Care for more information.

Giving Excellent Care: From Our Home to Yours

excellent care

Giving Excellent Care: From Our Home to Yours is being offered again this fall!  Our first class in the Spring of 2017 was such a huge success, we are offering it again.

This free twenty hour course is for informal caregivers who have or want to have home care giving experience and who are not already certified as a PSS or a CNA in the state of Maine.

This course focuses on practical skills necessary to safely and skillfully provide personalized, high quality care by applying a solid base of practical knowledge on which to build confident care-giving.

Do you suddenly find yourself facing family care-giving responsibilities?  This class is for you!

Do you want to gain solid skills for informal home care-giving? This class is definitely for you!

Do you want to prepare for working with an agency providing personal and homemaker services?  This class is truly for you!

A course completion certificate will be given to all participants who complete the full 20 hours of training. Completion of the class does not result in a formal, state-approved certification but completing this course will definitely boost your confidence and significantly enhance your care-giving skills.  This course is a great stepping stone should you want to continue your education elsewhere in pursuit of a PSS or CNA certification.

Call to register today, space is limited!

Giving Excellent Care runs on Tuesdays for five weeks, beginning Tuesday, September 26, 2017.

Dates: 9/26, 10/03, 10/10, 10/17, and 10/24.
Time: 9:00am – 1:00pm
Location: The Lincoln Home, 22 River Rd, Newcastle, ME 04553
FMI/Register: Valerie Lovelace, One2One Home Care, 563-3350, ext. 23, between 8:00am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

You may also contact us here.

Want to know more about Lincoln Home?  Click HERE!

Death Cafe Founder, Jon Underwood, Dies at 44

Walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death

I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Jon Underwood personally.  I interviewed him a few years ago to learn about  Death Cafe.  Being in the process of founding a similar kind of venture, I sought like-minded others.  I really wanted to hear their stories.  Jon was one of them.  I wanted to learn what it had been like for him to walk, quite literally, into the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  He strode boldly and publicly into such conversations, complete with tea and cake, in 2011.

Death Cafe discussions now take place from Australia to Nigeria and every place in between.  As of this writing, there have been 4836 Death Cafe discussions in 51 countries.  And these are just the ones registered on the Death Cafe website.

What was it that motivated him?  More importantly, why?

As I recall, he explained it something like this: the monsters in the closet are only scary until we shed light on them.  Jon felt (and I do, too) that talking about Death in a very real and personal way ultimately makes those conversations less uncomfortable.  More than that, something kind of amazing begins to take place: a deeper, more thoughtful appreciation for life in all its forms starts to develop.  And then to flourish.

Death, Dying

Dying Matters.  A lot.

People say it’s too hard to talk about dying.  Honestly, it’s easier than you think.  Particularly if you or a loved one aren’t actually in the throes of doing it while trying to start the conversation.

Seniors frequently say to me they want to talk about it with their kids, but the kids don’t want to.  Adult children often say to me they want to talk about it with their folks, but the folks don’t want to.  When I hear this, I have to wonder whether either has actually tackled the subject with the other and who is really doing the avoiding!

I’m pretty certain that Jon Underwood did not imagine in 2011 that he would die in 2017 at the age of 44, leaving behind his wife, his children, and a world full of people who understand what he was trying to accomplish.  And I’m also feeling certain that his having talked openly about dying hasn’t lessened the incredible shock his family currently experiences with this  kind of a loss.

Talking About Dying Matters a Lot, Too

Here’s what I do know.  He’s left behind a legacy of openness and authenticity that’s hard to argue with.  He’s given his family, friends, and thousands of others across the globe a creative way to address the elephant in the living room.  That means something.  And that’s what life and death are: the meaning we make of it.

Here’s the bonus: Damariscotta Death Cafe has been meeting monthly for four years and is as lively and strong as ever.  Join in the fun on the second Monday of each month at Savory Maine, 9:00am.  No agenda.  No taboos.

Here’s to you, Jon.  I hope wherever you are now, there’s tea, cake, and heartfelt conversation.


Love, Death

First Home Care Training Class Graduates!


Training came to a close today after twenty hours of training spread over a five week period. Class participants learned a range of handy skills for in-home care-giving. Lincoln Home’s Giving Excellent Care in the Home: From Our Home to Yours curriculum centers on simple but important skills that boost confidence and help home care givers gain insight.

Class topics cover a broad range of skills. Right from the start students jump in with both feet, taking on subjects like personal values, home safety, and how to help granny with her dentures. Learning different skills and techniques help students become more confident providers.


Student feedback helps us know what we’re doing well and what we can do better. It’s exciting to hear how the class was received, and even more exciting to know we’ve made a difference in our community with this class offering.

I gained so much through this class. I now have a different perspective and feel more confident caring for my stepfather.

I liked the way we reviewed chapters after reading them. It felt easier to take in the lessons that way.

I learned about all aspects of daily living. I gained a lot of new information and recognize that every care-giving situation is going to be different. This class is fantastic!

I liked the interaction with other students during activities.

We all got off to a good start that provided ease of sharing information and asking questions.

I learned a lot about care-giving. The biggest lesson I take away from this class is “someone else’s emergency is not my emergency.”

Please stay tuned. Lincoln Home will offer this course again in the fall of 2017.  Watch our Facebook page for the event posting!