Home Instead Senior Care: Helping families cope with Alzheimer's, dementia


By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer

Owner Laurie Bender, left, and Felicia Cardone, training coordinator, right. (Photo/Nancy Brumback)
Owner Laurie Bender, left, and Felicia Cardone, training coordinator, right. (Photo/Nancy Brumback)

Northborough??”Support groups, training and experienced care are all available to families dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia through Home Instead Senior Care, an agency providing long-term and short-term in-home care.

Home Instead's caregivers work with clients with both physical and cognitive needs. Laurie S. Bender, who owns the Northborough and Natick offices of this franchise agency, noted that at least a quarter of the clients have significant memory impairment. About two-thirds of the agency's personnel have already completed the 18-hour training program to deal effectively with these clients.

“In the past, Alzheimer's training has focused on the disease and its progress. Our training focuses on finding the person within the disease and working with that person,” she said.

Home Instead's training coordinator, Felicia Cardone, personally conducts the Alzheimer's and dementia training sessions for caregivers and a scaled-down version offered free to family members. Cardone can relate to her classes; she spent over 20 years caring for her mother with the disease.

The Home Instead approach starts with having the client's family, and the client if possible, fill out a detailed profile in a three-ring binder kept in the home for caregivers to consult. In addition to the usual medical history, the pages detail the client's life from childhood on, including the early years, teen years and life as a young adult, significant events and people, and such favorites as foods, colors, music and television programs. The level of detail, Bender said, gives caregivers reference points to better reach the client.

“The information allows us to personalize the techniques we use. For example, if a client won's get out of bed, but we notice that a favorite childhood memory was of her father making Sunday breakfast with bacon, we might suggest the client get up and we'sl make bacon together. If she's reluctant to get dressed but we know her favorite color is red, we can go to her closet and pick out a red outfit for her.

“We create a happy moment. The client will not remember the event, but the happy mood is likely to remain,” she said. “It's why home care is so special. It can be highly personalized.

“When adult children or a spouse see caregivers working with their loved one, they notice that the goal is the positive moments that are strung together. It helps them begin to realize that living in the moment is what this person now has,” Bender said.

Home Instead offers its course for families outlining some of these techniques every six months and provides support groups for families and caregivers dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer's. Both of these services are free and open to client and non-client families. Information on sessions is on the company's website, www.hearthside-homeinstead.com. A resource library is also online.

Home Instead's caregivers are available for respite care or for extended care, up to around-the-clock coverage. Services can be tailored to meet a client's current needs and changed or expanded as a situation changes. Long-term care insurance may cover part of the cost.

Home Instead works with area Alzheimer's organizations sponsoring information sessions and support groups. Coming up April 27 is a program at Heritage Assisted Living in Framingham featuring Dr. Robert Stern, a professor of neurology at Boston University. Details and registration information is available at www.alzmass.org, the Massachusetts chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

In addition to Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, Home Instead works with clients with physical disabilities and chronic diseases and with those who need short-term care after an accident or surgery. The agency offers two levels of care??”companion/homemakers who help with housekeeping and errands, and personal care service providers who assist with bathing, bathroom use, grooming and eating.

The company, not the client, is the employer and handles all training and employment issues. The agency is accredited by the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts.

The Northborough Home Instead is part of a franchise organization based in Omaha. More information on that company is available at www.homeinstead.com, while detailed information on Bender's company can be found at www.hearthside-homeinstead.com. The main office is located at 386 West Main St. in Northborough; the phone number is 508-393-8338.