Kinship care provides safe, familiar environment

We are now a family with five children between the ages of 18 months and 14 years. There is always something going on and we could not be happier!

But how did this occur, particularly since three of those children are my nieces and a nephew?

Kinship care.

Life changed for the better for these three children when kinship care came into play.

Kinship care involves finding relatives to care for a child or children removed from their home for varying reasons. The goal often is to return the child to the home if safe to do so.

Quality care that feels like vacation

It’s just like a vacation.

That’s what the 101-year-old calls her occasional stays in personal care at a Diakon Senior Living Community.

“My family—I am so fortunate to live with them—travels a lot during the year. They work hard and certainly deserve that time away,” says the woman.

“And I certainly never want to be a burden!”

Bridging the gap

Bridges are often a welcome sight.

They lead us to a new vista or, in many instances, home from a trip away.

Diakon Senior Living Services’ Bridge to Home program is one more instance of that important connection—a critical link to comforting surroundings, to what is familiar.

Diakon’s Bridge to Home service is a concept we offer to help rehab patients and others nearing the end of hospitalization or short-term care take the important steps to return home.

Preventing deaths that are preventable

In the early days of my career, I remember hearing stories that made me question whether behavioral health was really for me. As mental health and substance abuse professionals, we see and hear a lot.

Ultimately, though, I realized that helping people in their darkest moments comes with a heavy weight but not an unbearable one. Soon, I was getting used to hearing stories that, before, I wouldn’t have fathomed could be true.

“Used to” seems an odd way to put it, but I do not know how else to say it. As therapists, we get used to hearing stories of trauma, used to late-night calls from an individual in crisis, used to advocating for change and then hearing why change didn’t occur. We gladly take on these challenges.

What we don’t get used to is people dying.

Even in 2020, there were things to be thankful for …

The dates may have varied in each senior living community, but the outcome was the same. For us, it was March 12 of last year. The day everything changed.

That was the day the Diakon senior living community of which I am chaplain closed its doors to visitors and most family members to protect our residents from the virus that can cause COVID-19 disease. In an instant, most of my tasks as chaplain fell away.

Supporting colleagues during a stressful time

Workplace stress can be a serious issue—even without a pandemic.

Now, COVID-19 presents additional and unique mental health stressors, particularly for health-care and frontline workers.

But it’s also likely to affect you, either personally or indirectly, no matter your occupation. Disregarding your or a coworker’s stress is an option, but it’s probably not a good one.

So what can you do?

Counseling staff members with Diakon Family Life Services offer suggestions in response to typical questions:

What are warning signs that a coworker may be overly stressed?

1. A notable change in appearance, mood or personality

2. Negativity

3. Being overly sarcastic

4. Missing sessions or meetings

5. Not responding to emails, calls or texts after multiple attempts

6. Irritability

7. Being excessively fatigued

8. Becoming withdrawn and isolated

How can you be helpful and address your concern with a coworker without seeming critical?

Ideally, you may have a relationship with your co-workers or team member that allows a conversation to happen along these lines …

Five tips for talking to an aging parent about long-term care

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, not every older adult is able to shelter at home indefinitely.

There are some older people who need long-term care to continue to thrive. Sometimes, that situation may be apparent when family members who live at a distance visit for the holidays. Today, those visits may occur via Zoom or other online means, but the need for long-term care may be apparent nevertheless.

So how do you talk with an aging parent about the need for long-term care?

Certainly, we recognize that we want to care for our parent as well as they cared for us. After all, it’s the least we can do for all the sacrifices they’ve made for us. However, for a variety of reasons, it may be impossible for us to care for an older adult ourselves. That realization is often what brings many adult children and aging parents to consider long-term care as an option. But, again, how best to do that?

Preparing to talk about long-term care …

This may be a difficult conversation, so be sure to keep an open mind, do your research and talk somewhere private. It’s also important to remember this will be a conversation you may likely have more than once, so be patient as well.

Try following these tips to help ease your parent into talking about long-term care while having a successful conversation.

1. Choose the right time and place. It’s often best to bring up the subject of long-term care naturally as opposed to springing it on a loved one. Choose a time of day that your loved one is often in a good mood and ensure there are few distractions present. Then, make sure to talk in private.

To read more tips, please click here.

Defeat? No way! Adoption and foster care proceed despite pandemic

It’s been a tough year for everyone. But imagine, during this pandemic, trying to find families for thousands of children and youths across the nation without a safe, permanent place to live.

That task seems unsurmountable; I can tell you it’s not.

As a family support specialist with Diakon Adoption & Foster Care, I know it’s possible to bring permanence to the lives of waiting children despite the added challenges of COVID-19—because I see it happening.

Through foster care, foster-to-adopt (often called legal-risk placements) and special needs and domestic adoption, we continue to find forever families for children and youths.

10 questions to ask when choosing a personal care community

The pandemic has upended so many aspects of life and, for some families, it has underscored the need for personal care and the individualized lifestyle and services it offers.

Nevertheless, determining that you or a loved one needs personal-care support is never an easy decision. Unfortunately, the process doesn’t end there. In fact, some people say the hardest part comes after the decision: Choosing the right personal care community.

This decision can take a while, but that’s okay. It’s not a decision to be made in a rush, but sometimes situations require a decision sooner than we might want. Research upfront can be especially helpful because what might be important to you or another family member may not be to your loved one.

Because personal care communities differ in size, configuration and offer, here are 10 questions you can ask that may ease your decision-process:

1. How are care plans created? The term “personal care” can encompass many things. Some older adults require only a little extra assistance, such as help with cleaning, cooking or transportation. Others may require more extensive assistance for medication management, dressing and bathing and even mobility assistance. When choosing a personal care community, be sure you are selecting one that carefully considers the needs of each resident rather than having a one-size-fits-all approach.

2. What floor plans are available? Different communities may have different approaches to personal care. If your loved one needs light care, he or she may be able to live in a private-style suite; other suites may have a shared bathroom or other adaptations based on need. Review various options so that you find accommodations that fulfill both physical and personal needs.

3. Does the community have a wait list? Many personal care communities have full residency and maintain a wait list for prospective residents. If you find several communities you like and they’re full, it’s a good idea to put your name on a waiting list so that if accommodations become available, you can be ready to move. This is another reason it’s important to start looking for a community before it’s medically necessary; that way, you don’t have to settle for “good enough”; you can settle for “exactly what I want.”

Click here to read more questions to ask in the decision-making process!