Ask the Nurse and Preserving Dignity | Alcohol Awareness Month

They're losing enough; don't take their dignity too.

by Christine Hammerlund, President of Assured Healthcare and "Mother"

Part three of a four part series about Christine Hammerlund and her Mom.

When a person becomes less capable of caring for themselves - or even functioning as a thoughtful adult - your first reaction as a loving adult child is to take away every choice they have. Don't.

Don't treat Mom as if she was a child, even though her behavior is childlike. It is very important to maintain their dignity.

My Mom is a very dignified person. She's has earned the right to have that dignity respected and supported.

Especially with dementia it is hard to tell what a parent is absorbing, and what they are not.

I've found with Mom that she remembers more clearly when it is important to her. So, if you talk down to her, she'll react negatively. Again, I try to give Mom some household responsibilities that she can handle to help her feel she's a vital part of the family.

It is very important to me that Mom continues to do what she can for herself for as long as possible. I think it strengthens her independence and preserves her dignity.

Next month, part four and the final piece in our series: It's your Mom. You didn't expect her to surrender her sovereignty did you?

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Be aware of how much alcohol is being consumed.

Be aware of how much alcohol is being consumed.

Drinking too much alcohol increases people’s risk of injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease, and some types of cancer.

If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting. Here are some strategies to help you cut back or stop drinking:
• Limit your drinking to no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men.
• Keep track of how much you drink.
• Choose a day each week when you will not drink.
• Don’t drink when you are upset.
• Avoid places where people drink a lot.
• Make a list of reasons not to drink.

If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking, offer to help.

For more information visit National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence website:

April 2016 Employee of the Month

Jazmine S., CNA

Jazmine S., CNA

Congratulations to Jazmine S., Certified Nursing Assistant! Assured Healthcare Staffing’s employee of the month.

“Jazmine is always willing to help with everything. She is always reliable to make sure I have everything I need when I go to bed. She has an outstanding personality and is so easy to talk to especially if I have had a bad day. Thanks Jazmine for all you have done for me.” - Assured Healthcare client

Praise from our staff:
Jazmine is such an exceptional caregiver. She always responds appropriately when emergency strikes as it had recently. She keeps her calm and does what is right for the patient regardless of how inconvenient it might be for her. She truly enjoys her clients and does an amazing job.  She is flexible and really works well with other members of the healthcare team. I love seeing her on the schedule because I know she will be there, do a great job, and always check in if she feels something might need further clarification. She is a pleasure to work with. Jazmine is the real deal!!!

March 2016 Employees of the Month

We are very excited to announce Jody S., RN and Darlene B., RN for the RN team employees of the month!

Darlene B., RN

Darlene B., RN

Jody S., RN

Jody S., RN

Joanne S. and Darlene B. are two very special nurses we are happy to count them as part of our team at Abbvie Clinical Pharmacology Unit (ACPRU). They both bring a can do attitude and smile with them every day they come to work.  Our volunteers have commented on how they enjoy their professionalism and welcoming attitude.
As their manager I appreciate their level of professionalism, willingness to pitch in with any task or change that happens.  Being able to adapt with changes is key in this research nursing position and both Darlene and Jody have met the demands and all change that comes along head on and with a smile.  Both have become an integral part of our team. We are so proud of both Darlene and Jody and agree they indeed are exceptional contract nurses.

Ask the Nurse | Caring for a Parent

When it's your Mom, everything changes

by Christine Hammerlund, President of Assured Healthcare and "Mother"

You can become accustomed to the professional detachment of nursing. I've spent most of my adult life in that role and finding just the right balance among intellect, knowledge and emotion is one of the toughest hidden “jobs” of health care.

Good people care. You cannot hide from being human. But nursing means being smart in choices. Being smart and attentive for your patient is a never- ceasing quest. Medicine might be a science, but healing is an art.  

Meet Virginia ,  one of our patients and mother of Assured Healthcare Staffing owner Chris Hammerlund.

Meet Virginia, one of our patients and mother of Assured Healthcare Staffing owner Chris Hammerlund.

A good nurse must listen to many voices inside her head, each asking for attention and validation. But I thought I had mastered the art of that heart/smart balance until I confronted the future for my Mom.

When it's Mom, everything changes, and even a nurse cannot shield herself from deep fears and concerns. Even a good nurse can be fooled by signs she does not see.

So, this is the first of four part series about me and my Mom. This will be a shared experience for us - you and I.  You see, the time had come to make some decisions about Mom's day-to-day health, and we all experience this, ready or not.

I can tell you right at the beginning that sharing the burdens of life can be a difficult task. But maybe you will see your life - your Mom or Dad - in this picture.  Maybe it will help to know you are not alone. It did for me.

First, Mom is a wonderful person. I won't tell you her age because it would be embarrassing to her, but let's just say she's old enough to remember runningboards on cars and phonographs that sped around the record turntable at 78 revolutions per minute. She is a proud person and independent. And smart.

But these are difficult times for her and for me.

I will have to care for her now. That much is certain. I don't know how much I had focused on that likelihood in other years, but when the time comes, there is no escape from that fact if you care.

My Mother has a few issues that make her care very challenging. She has macular degeneration (reduced eyesight), hearing loss, very unsteady gait and moderate dementia.

The changes that age can bring don't happen in one day. It's often a slow, steady progression. I did not see that slide at first.

When Mom was still at her home living alone, she was able to hold it together through a phone conversation, covering up her dementia and leading me to believe she was just forgetful.  

She then had a very serious fall, which landed her in the hospital for a week and drove my decision to have her move into my home. What I have found since she began living with me is how limited her ability is to function without help.  

I would suggest to others that have the responsibility of taking care of elderly and infirm parents or loved ones, first trust your gut.

And second, bring in a health care professional.  

By “trust your gut,” I mean that when you think something is wrong, it probably is worse than you think.  Second, either get in touch with the Doctor or have a nursing assessment done. Nothing is as useful as an independent evaluation of how well the senior performs activities of daily living and exercises their cognitive awareness. A doctor or independent nursecan see what you cannot.

The first job is to realistically determine whether it's safe for them to continue living alone. You have to become smarter about Mom. I did. It was the first lesson I had to learn.

As part of my business, I hire and manage home health care nurses all the time. I'm doing that now. If anything, the experiences with Mom have helped me see what those nurses need to know.

Next month, part 2 next: How did we wind up here?

Celebrate American Heart Month

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.

The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions.

Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices.

Make a difference in your community: Spread the word about strategies for preventing heart disease and encourage people to live heart healthy lives.

How can American Heart Month make a difference?

We can use this month to raise awareness about heart disease and how people can prevent it — both at home and in the community.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Encourage families to make small changes, like using spices to season their food instead of salt.
  • Motivate teachers and administrators to make physical activity a part of the school day. This can help students start good habits early.
  •  Ask doctors and nurses to be leaders in their communities by speaking out about ways to prevent heart disease.

Daisy A., CNA • February Employee of the Month

We are very excited to announce our employee of the month for Feb. 2016.

Daisy started taking PRN shifts with us last May.  Daisy is extremely responsible and dependable.  She has been known to go from answering the phone while in the shower to being at a client’s residence in less than 20 minutes when we’ve needed her on a Saturday!  She picks up last minute emergencies, takes days, nights and weekend calls and rarely calls off.  She always answers our calls and responds time and again.  When unclear about an assignment, she shows up and asks questions later.  We have been able to place Daisy in a wide variety of roles with great success.  She is such a pleasure to work with and we love that she represents our company! - Nancy Campbell
Daisy is a delightful person and a wonderful caregiver. She is very resourceful and not afraid to take on new task! - Mr. G
Daisy is an amazing caregiver. She is always on time and ready to work. I love her being around because we always have the best conversations and love watching some shows together. No matter what it is she is always there to help me. I have been through some rough times lately, but she always seems to make me feel better and like my voice is actually being heard. If someone is looking for a new caregiver Daisy would be a great choice for them. - Shannon

Post-holiday concerns about an aging loved one? Senior Care Reality Checklist can help.

Holidays bring families together to celebrate the season and enjoy sharing time together.  They also offer opportunities for us to spend lengthier periods of time with aging parents and loved ones — sometimes long enough to observe changes in habits or lifestyle that give rise to concerns about their health or well-being, especially when they live on their own. The changes can seem slight or innocuous:  a forgotten face, a mismatched outfit, a wrong turn on the way to the grocery store.  Or, they can be more alarming: 

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