I’m not sure how everyone surfs the internet but I can tell you when I am looking for a new auto mechanic, preschool, or hair dresser I not only look at location and proximity, I look at the testimonials.

Testimonials tell you the unscripted (and at times unedited) feelings of people who have been in your shoes and “lived to tell the tale”. Let’s be honest here–testimonials can and do make or break our decisions.

Let’s think about this–if you go to a local restaurant and have terrible food and service what do you do–you tell everyone you know or asks you about the restaurant to not go to that restaurant!! Now don’t get me wrong–everyone has bad days but when we are reading these testimonials that is not what we are thinking is it?

Now, if we reverse the situation and you have a wonderful dining experience you tell folks looking to try a new place to go to that restaurant. Do you post it? Maybe and maybe not.

I know Touching Hearts provides exceptional services to our clients, I know that we are the best non-medical care provider in the industry because of the compassion our caregivers have for the clients they have the opportunity to visit with. I know that Touching Hearts considers everyone family.   I know how hard it is to watch a loved one lose abilities but still want to remain in their own home. But it is always better to have someone else to recognize this too.

Why do I bring this up? Because we recently received a review from the family of a previous Touching Hearts client that just made me smile….

Florence… and her circle of loved ones and friends reach far and wide. We are thankful for the wonderful care she received through Touching Hearts, whose caregivers became part of her family….”

At Touching Hearts, we too are thankful that we had the opportunity to come into Florence’s life and assist her to live in her home as long as possible.

So, if your goal or the goal of your loved one, is to remain in the comfort of your/their home as long as possible we would love to make you an addition to our family.

Silver & Gray

For most of us, December is a time of holiday gatherings with friends and family. We celebrate traditions and reflect on the passing year while making plans for the new. Many experience this as a happy season, however, for some, especially older adults, the holidays can be difficult. Holidays signify the passing of time and memories of the past reveal the absence of those who have died, and those missing due to distance and moves. Traditions once observed may not be possible to share in ways accustomed to, therefore the holidays may seem empty of meaning. It is normal to feel sad, subdued, and reflective when the losses of time occur. But, when an older individual experiences what is termed “Silver and Blue” for a long time, what may have been thought to be simple sadness is often a serious case of depression.

Depression is not a natural part of aging.

In most cases a person experiencing sadness or loss continues to carry on with regular routines and activities in spite of feeling blue. However, a clinically depressed person suffers from symptoms that interfere with his or her ability to function in every day life. A press release from the John A Hartford Foundation – Thursday, December 13, 2012, included the following:

Depression is a common and serious medical condition second only to heart disease in causing disability as well as harm to people’s health and quality of life. Mental health problems affect nearly one in five older adults, according to the Institute of Medicine. Depression is not a natural part of the aging process, but almost one in three people surveyed (27%) believed it was.

Among all respondents, very few understood the health risks of depression: only one out of five (21%) had heard that depression is believed to double an individual’s risk of developing dementia and only one in three (34%) knew it can double the risk of heart disease.

The John A. Hartford Foundation calls for better mental health care for older adults through a support team-based collaborative approach. Those of us choosing to provide non-medical in-home care for older adults are part of this team-based collaborative approach of support services for seniors.

What can we do to address depression? It may sound simple but there’s a great deal we can do and it has to do with gratitude!

The New Science of Gratitude

Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, is one of the foremost authorities on the topic of gratitude in North America. He has discovered what gives life meaning: Gratitude. With eight years of intensive research on gratitude in his best selling book, “Thanks! How The Science of Gratitude Can Make you Happier” Emmons’ research indicates that gratitude is not merely a positive emotion; it also improves your health if cultivated.

In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high-energy, positive-moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality relative to a control group. People with a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be empathic and to take the perspective for others. They are rated as more generous and more helpful by people in their social networks (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002)

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. – Melody Beady

Touching Hearts at Home is part of the collaborative support team for our clients and their families. Because we are non-medical in-home care it is not our position to diagnose, but we can be aware and communicate concern to the client (in some cases) but most likely a designated family member when sad days linger into weeks.

What else can we do when those we care for and support are showing signs of depression? As non-medical support, we have the opportunity to give the gift of companionship. With companionship comes the art of conversation. What we talk about with our clients can influence attitudes. How do we develop an attitude for gratitude? We practice listening and become aware of how we talk…are we positive or negative. Gratitude becomes a practice…a habit! We ask the question, “What are you/me/we most grateful for today?” And then listen and watch the shift in energy from sad to glad.

Imagine the simple exercise of focusing on a few “gratitudes” each visit with a client that makes the heart sing. Person-centered care can include sitting with a client once or twice a week and talking about, or maybe writing, the things for which gratitude is given. When we notice a person feeling blue, you might begin a conversation by starting with this acknowledgment: “(Name), I am so grateful to be with you today. Being with you to share a meal brings meaning to my day. Tell me about what you enjoy most about our time together…?” And so the conversation shifts to the present and the positive versus reflecting on the past and losses.

A French proverb reminds us “Gratitude is the heart’s memory.”

We practice gratitude because it does not come easily. When the “blues” are present, it’s the heart’s memory, focused on things for which we are grateful, that shift the downward spiral of depression to the upward movement toward well being. It’s an exercise Caregivers can lead in the same way going for a walk might be the right thing to do.

The science supporting this practice proves a shift in quality of life for the better.

What a boost in satisfaction for our clients, their families, and all of us who experience the profound effects of gratitude when making a difference in the lives of those we serve.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with gratitude!

Ramona Hunt
Director of Leadership & Development
Touching Hearts at Home


Alzheimer’s, A disease which continues to rear its’ ugly, impartial, unbiased head!


A week or so ago, we lost Pat Summitt (former University of Tennessee Head Women’s Basketball Coach) to complications from

Alzheimer’s.  Being a very active person both on & off the basketball court, Pat was diagnosed with “Early On Set” Dementia approximately 5 years ago.  Just as she has done all of her life, Pat met this challenge head on and continued to participate in activities as long as possible.

This blog entry in no way is intended to document the accomplishments of Pat Summitt.  They speak for themselves!  It is an attempt to raise awareness of brain related injuries/diseases, the fact it can afflict anyone, and what/how their family members can do to cope/aid their loved one throughout the heart breaking debilitating  process.


ALWAYS REMEMBER: Stress and confusion tend to make dementia patients seem more out of sorts.  Familiar surroundings in a peaceful environment will provide you with the best opportunity for some level of communication.  If you notice a big drop “off the cliff” type of difference from one day to the next in your loved ones level of confusion, you may want to have them checked for a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection).  Dementia is a gradual deterioration  of brain functionality and a noticeable decline from one day to the next is not normal.  Infection of any kind can result in very noticeable confusion level changes in those suffering from a dementia related disease.


. First and foremost, educate yourselves!  Learning what to expect may not lessen the emotional heart break, but it will help you understand better why things are changing and what you can do to make things as positive as possible.

. Always be aware of the fact those suffering from dementia, tend to become quite good actors/actresses.  They realize their mental abilities are eroding, but don’t want others to know!

. As tasks become more and more difficult for them, find a way to keep them involved as long as possible.  Many times we want to simply tell them to stop doing something completely!  If they are not able to finish a task, simply figure out what step or steps they can still perform and make it a team effort.  The feeling of accomplishment when the task is done will lift their spirits.

. As with any illness, performing the primary caregiver role becomes quite time consuming and stressful!  Especially with the progression of the disease.  Share the responsibilities as much as possible!  Everyone needs a break away to manage their own personal needs.  This time should also be used to relax and focus your thoughts on other things.  Your health and well being is very critical in making the time you spend with your loved one enjoyable and as stress free as possible.  It is quite common for those caring for a loved one to feel guilty when they just can’t be there at all times.  Be careful!  The last thing your Mom or Dad need now is for you to run down, catch something, and not be able to visit for any length of time.  Or, worse yet, show up ill and pass it along to them!

If everyone needs a break and there just doesn’t seem to be a family member or friend available, there are resources you can turn too.  Providers like Touching Hearts At Home Senior Care work regularly with families in situations just like yours.  Take the time to understand your options in advance.

You may want to have a service provider perform many of the household oriented tasks (meal preparation, grocery shopping, light housekeeping, etc.).  This will relieve some of the stress & free up you and yours to visit like a family again!

. Behavioral changes will occur!  Dementia sufferers generally go through personality changes as the disease progresses.  One who was the most kind and patient sole may become argumentative and quickly agitated.  They may become someone who wants to wander and always needing to go somewhere.  In many cases, there is still someone (son, daughter, could be an in-law, or even a close friend/neighbor) they’ll listen to more so than others.  You might have a good idea as to who this might be, but truthfully it is a trial and error process.  In fact, it is likely to change along the way.

. Honesty is always the best policy, however there may come a time when being a little sneaky becomes necessary.  The number one priority is to keep them and everyone around them safe!  You may need to remove their vehicle from their place of residence.  They’ll probably ask for it back.  You can always take them to their Dr. and ask if they feel your parent is still capable of driving.  If they decide NO, they’ll provide a written note request the revocation of their license.  You can contact your state’s DMV and request them to test your loved one.  Keep in mind, this could back fire!  I chose the DMV option for my father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.  They sent him a letter for which he and I sat down to discuss how I could do such a thing.  I simply told him, it was strictly for his and everyone else’s safety.  If he was competent enough to pass the test, then he was fully capable of keeping his driver’s license.  To my dismay, HE PASSED!!  He continued to drive until a few months later when his Dr. (who was testing his memory & cognitive skills on a regular basis, determined it best he quit driving.  You can always say someone needed to borrow the vehicle, or it was in the shop for repairs.  The may eventually forget about it, but in the end you’ll likely have to come clean and explain.

.  In the later stages of the disease, if you’re wanting to keep them out of a particular room or from opening a door, there are a couple of things you can try.  Simply put up a sign stating “KEEP OUT”.  Some will not ask why and abide by the sign.  Another potential solution is to put a lock high on the door.  Many dementia sufferers do not look up.  A lock above eye level will not be in their sight line.  These are potential solutions and do not work for everyone.  This is why educating yourselves will provide you with the best opportunity to enjoy them as long as possible and keep them from getting into trouble you may have otherwise prevented.

. Speech, Cognitive skills & Personal appearance modifications! As the brain becomes more and more damaged, it will not be able to “connect the dots” so to speak.  They may be very aware of what it is they are attempting to say, but simply can’t say it!  This is quite frustrating for them!  Keep in mind, since they are having troubles finding the words to express their thoughts to you in speech, the same holds true when you are talking to them.  They  probably  do not understand what you are trying to tell them.  “Connecting the dots” not only occurs when they attempt to speak, but as they are trying to understand what it is you are saying.

Be observant, it may become necessary for someone to physically show them how to do some of the simplest tasks we all take for granted.  Some of these are sitting, chewing, swallowing, and walking.  Personal hygiene can see a huge regression.  Matching clothes or even dressing themselves may become more and more difficult.



God bless the family of Pat Summitt!  As well as all current/future families who have the misfortune of dealing with Alzheimer’s!

The seemingly overwhelming task of finding in home care for yourself or a loved one.

We often hear from family members or a friend, looking desperately for in home, senior / disability oriented services.  Touching Hearts Senior Care specializes in doing just that!  Every situation is unique in its’ own way.  In order to be Omaha’s best quality senior care provider, our staff listens to your specific circumstances.  By understanding your situation, we’re able to make suggestions as to what ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living) are needing to be addressed.

It’s very common for a senior to feel somewhat depressed as their circle of friends and family gradually reduce in size and their own physical abilities erode.  It is our belief, give someone something to look forward too and watch their attitude towards life change for the better!  Next you’ll often see positive changes in their physical wellbeing.  It is Touching Hearts objective to set the Goal Standard for non-medical, in home senior care.  However, it is possible the senior care services required in certain circumstances are beyond our scope.  This doesn’t mean we simply say sorry, we can’t help!  It is our intent to assist each and every person who reaches out to us.  This may be to provide names and numbers for other resources better served to fit certain needs.

For the most part, we find helping with grocery shopping, meal preparation, laundry, transportation, or maybe a little housekeeping can ease a lot of the Burdon.  How about those repeated Dr. Appointments?  With the appropriate authorization, our caregiver can transport your loved one to the DR.’s office, take notes reviewed/approved by the medical staff and return them to their place of residence.  These notes are then made available to family members.  This allows all involved to know exactly what transpired during the appointments without the continuous need to miss work, taking vacation, or the frustration of your family member not being able to clearly communicate the discussion.

Finding care for a loved one can be quite stressful!  Please give our office a call (402-934-3303) and let us help you relieve your anxiety!

: Omaha job openings Caring for our Communities, Seniors & Disabled

Touching Hearts is always looking for compassionate individuals interested in caring for seniors or the disabled in their homes.  Rewarding job openings are available all year round for responsible self-starters.  If you’re looking for a position in the senior care field, employment opportunities exist today.  Please fill out our online application and we’ll reach out to you.  If you have questions, please feel free to contact our office (402-934-3303).