In 2004, one remarkable woman decided to make a difference in the lives of seniors wishing to age at home in NH. Debra Desrosiers, with the full support of her husband and business partner, Ron Desrosiers, opened New Hampshire's first Visiting Angels. Since then, Visiting Angels of Auburn NH has helped thousands of families by providing non-medical homecare to seniors in the greater Manchester, Concord, and Salem areas.
Their business started on Debra and Ron's kitchen table and grew through tremendous dedication. Debra and Ron, along with their full time office staff, now work out of their custom built 3,500 square foot office in Auburn New Hampshire. Their caregivers consist of over 100 Angels who service clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
On June 12, 2014, Visiting Angels of Auburn NH celebrated their 10th Anniversary at the Puritan Backroom. Over 100 people gathered to celebrate the company's remarkable success over the past decade. The theme of the party was "The Power of 10." Debra led the attendees down memory lane with pictures and stories highlighting the most significant milestones, toughest hurdles, memorable clients, community service projects, key partnerships, triumphs, and funniest moments.
We Want to Know...What Makes our Clients Smile?
One of the joys of our agency is the person-centered care approach we take with our clients. Yes, we take our "typical" home care agency training seriously to ensure client safety, cleanliness, transportation to appointments, nutritional needs, and other important factors of activities of daily living. Additionally, the Alzheimer's Association Habilitation Therapy training (mandatory for all our employees) sets us apart from other home care agencies. But beyond these trainings is what we call "person-centered care" approach. Joyful companionship is a very important part of our services. Our approach may be a little different in that we encourage our staff to discover our clients' GREATNESS. What did they do (or are still doing) in some capacity as professionals, as heroes, as parents, as intellects, as ... people? What activities, hobbies, or passions make our clients SMILE? Is that "built into" your care plan? If not, here is an opportunity to do just that.
Getting an Accurate Diagnosis: Is it Alzheimer's or Not?
The changes came on suddenly. Heather and her 63-year-old husband, Bill, a professional all his life, got taken off guard one day when Bill simply couldn't remember their dog's name. "It was more than a senior moment," says Heather. In a short period of time, Bill's language and memory seem to take a sudden and devastating fall. Knowing something was terribly wrong, they set up an appointment with Bill's primary care physician. At the appointment, Bill was asked to perform some tests. A quick assessment using visuals, hand motions, and a seemingly easy task of drawing a clock face revealed Bill was in big trouble. He couldn't do it and struggled through the assessment. After it was over, they asked their PCP what he thought it was. The doctor's response? Alzheimer's disease.
Heather shared with us that at that moment, she and Bill looked at each other and felt sick to their stomach. The doctor ordered an MRI but Heather needed information and guidance immediately. Heather, taking a proactive approach, reached out to a close friend who let her know she could call on Debra Desrosiers, even though they weren't clients of Visiting Angels. Heather needed more information, seasoned advice, and the opportunity to ask questions. Debra has worked in the trenches for over a decade directing a busy homecare agency who specializes in dementia training for their staff. Additionally, Debra has coached families for years in the area of dementia and has become a Certified Alzheimer's/Dementia Coach and Consultant.
In homes all over the area, a relative is taking care of an older or disabled person today. They might be helping them to dress or shop for food, or remind them to take medicines or even just make sure they’re safe at home. They’re not alone - the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 44 million Americans provide unpaid care to an elderly or disabled person 18 or over every year. A large percentage of these people are family caregivers – spouses caring for husbands or wives, or adult children or grandchildren caring for elderly relatives.
The reality is that most Americans will act as a family caregiver at some point during their lives. Some will be juggling paying jobs in addition to their caregiver duties, and some will still be raising their own children while caring for their elderly relatives. And they may not realize that help is available.
Being a family caregiver for an elderly loved one can be incredibly rewarding. Caregivers usually report they enjoy feeling needed, knowing they are doing something good for someone they love and building a stronger, closer relationship. But caregiving can take its toll mentally and physically, and most family caregivers report feeling the effects of “caregiver stress” at some point.