NEW YEAR….NEW YOU, Thoughts for Caregivers

Whether you're a caregiver for a family member or an in home care provider, New Years is a perfect time to reassess. Here's some thoughts from one of our senior care providers.

Caregiver Resolutions

2016 silently tiptoed out for many people who were not into the blowing-horns-saluting-the-New Year-with-bubbly mode.  On tiny cat feet, 2016 quietly walked out the door, and gave a hug to 2017 while whispering in its ear, “treat every day with kindness and love”.  Those who greeted the New Year with reflections of the past year and a cup of hot cocoa or Earl Grey tea may be thinking of new ways to journey along the path of 2017.  Resolutions may include getting more exercise, cutting down on nibbling junk food while watching tv or get started on that endless honey-do list.

I’ve thought about “New Year Resolutions” and realize that despite my good intentions, my resolves to do this or that fall by the wayside a few weeks after the New Year begins. This realization triggered some thought about making an effort to “do better” in small but significant ways.  Making changes that would put smiles on the faces of those who are in your little corner of the world would be a good starting point. 


When waking up in the morning, focus on the power of positive thinking.  Instead of lamenting “Oh, great!  My plate is over-filled today. How can I get it all done?” Think, instead, “I should prioritize what I have to do today.  I know I’ll be able to do this because, first-off, I like to do these things and secondly, hey, I’m good at doing them!” That kind of thinking will get your creative juices flowing and also make you feel good about yourself. Giving yourself a pat on the back is a gentle push to get moving in a positive direction, not a negative one. This resolution will make your inner self ready to meet the day and give it your best efforts.


Brushing your teeth is part of your morning routine.  Why not add another must-do?  Make a conscious decision, each morning, to speak kindly to your family as they gear up for their day – whatever it may be. Too often the hustle-bustle of getting breakfast, grabbing important paperwork, feeding the pets, throwing on a load of laundry or figuring out what else needs to be done before you head out the door…result in unkind words being thrown at family members.  Criticism spews from a mouth like an angry volcano.  Those in the path of such words become defensive and then, in turn, ready to speak unkindly to others.  Remember, once spoken, words cannot ever be retrieved!  Sure, you can follow up with “what I meant was” or “sorry”, but the damage has been done.  The target of your ire just had a chunk taken out of their heart.  Now there is a dead spot on that heart where once was a smile. I speak from experience of being on the receiving end of words that went right to my heart and did damage – it hurts!  Yes, this will take big-time effort on your part but what a life-changer it will become when you make it routine.  Sending your family (and yourself) off to meet the day with smiles is awesome!  A great resolution!


Too often we know someone who is experiencing a huge bump in their road and their day is falling apart. We may tell them we are sorry or off-handedly say “let me know if I can help” and then hope they won’t really ask us to do this or that.  After all, aren’t we all busy with our own lives? Or so we tell ourselves. Reach out to friends, family or acquaintances when they need help.  Put aside some time in your day to check in on them and, again, remind them you really want to help.  Caring about others does not have a time limit – it is endless!  And rightly so.  Sincerity is caring with you going the extra mile. Think about it. After all, when someone reaches out to us and then follows up with a phone call or knock on the door, isn’t our load somewhat lightened knowing that someone really cares enough to want to help – that it just wasn’t an off-hand gesture?  Sincere caring is a resolution that will bless them and your own heart, too.


Caring for the Caregiver

This may sound weird but it’s not! Do you feel unworthy/unable to be loved?  Then you need to take a good look at yourself in the mirror and tell that person staring back that they are a good person -- talented, caring, and worthy of love and respect. Don’t be bashful. Don’t think you are being egotistic. You aren’t. Do you know that the hardest person to love is yourself?  You know everything about you – what you perceive to be your good and bad points. But - to be able to give love to others, to care about them and to give the best you can whatever the situation -- you need to be coming from a place of inner strength, self-approval and knowing that you are valued.  Resolve to take stock of the person who wears your shoes. By doing this frequently, you will be reminded to smile at that reflection in the mirror.


How many of us form an opinion about a person or situation only to find out our idea of so and so or some event was totally off track? Rather than being patient, or listening intently or getting the whole story, we jumped the gun, thus putting a negative slant on a certain situation. How often have we hurt a person through word or action because we had formed a wrong conclusion? Make a New Year’s resolution to get all the facts. If you need to ask questions, then do so. 


It takes bravery to speak up about a situation that bothers you.  It is an injustice to a person if you don’t tell them if something they said or did is always on your mind.  I’ve always held to the premise that not saying anything when you need to means you really don’t care.  Having something eating at your heart and not talking about it is like an invisible rock hung on a chain around your heart – always heavy and wearing away at you.  I am not a person to make waves and I hate confrontation. But, there are times when I’ve had to take that very hard step to let someone know that something is wrong. I tell them that something they did or said is weighing heavy on my heart and we need to talk. When the air has been cleared, I can breathe easier and my heart steps lightly.  Resolve to clear the air and the sun will shine brighter for you!


You may be asking how can these resolutions:  Positive Thoughts, Kind Words, Sincere Caring, Loving Yourself, Not Jumping to Conclusions and Be Brave have a connection with being a Caregiver?  Well, think about it. A Caregiver who starts their day with negative thoughts, biting words, off-handed offers to help, not being able to look in the mirror, making assumptions, or being too timid to clear the air walks into a client’s home dragging any of this name-it, claim-it baggage. Poof! Today’s road starts out rocky, not smooth. Adopting even one of these resolutions into your everyday life will put a spring into your step and a sincere smile on your face.  Your head will be ready to think, your hands will be ready to offer assistance and your heart will be ready to truly care about the person who needs you.  A Caregiver who is walking their New Year’s Resolution journey will bring sunshine and not gray skies to someone who needs to know they, too, are valued. Unlike winter’s sniffles, spreading these life-changing resolutions around would be awesome!

Whether you're a family caregiver or a homecare provider, what resolutions have you made which might help in your role as a caregiver?



Snowflakes of Memories: A Caregiver's Tale


As I look out the windows of the sliders, the December wind escorts snowflakes that are falling onto autumn leaves. Layers of sparkling flakes hide Mother Nature's paintbrush strokes that turned greens into a kaleidoscope of brilliant hues. Another chapter in my Book of Life as a Caregiver has begun. 

This is the second December I am a Caregiver for a beloved elder in my position with Abundant Blessings. This is my 18th month of watching the sun rise over the lake at dawn, and enjoying the sunset's pink glow in the evening. I believe conversation is a healthy stimulant for not only her, but myself.  She enjoys when I reach into my childhood memories to share bits and pieces of my life. These tales may give her a better understanding of why I am the person I am today - or at least I like to think so. Lately, it's natural to focus on Christmas - "it's the most beautiful time of the year" - so the song sung by Andy Williams says.  I realize, however, that I am giving myself a gift, bringing what is hidden in my heart to the forefront.  While verbalizing about how Christmas was celebrated, I become the twelve year old who is now allowed to stay up "to help Santa trim the tree on Christmas Eve". That was the year my father whispered in my ear, "When the other kids are asleep, quietly come back downstairs". An hour after the eight of us had each opened the present that mysteriously had appeared under the undecorated tree, (a pair of new pjs to wear Christmas morning) and climbed the stairs to our bedrooms, I tiptoed down the stairs to see my father putting lights on the tree. Boxes of ornaments were on the couch and my stepmother was busy wrapping gifts on the dining room table. That was when I knew who Santa really was. Naïve? Maybe, but gloriously so! And oh how my heart is singing when I think about these times.

That magical night, my father placed the old foil Santa Claus face on top of the tree.  It had been the same Santa that graced his childhood tree. My main job was to put the tinsel on each branch -- one piece at a time. Now, this wasn't tinsel that was new and shiny, but hefty pieces of shimmering foil that had been wrapped around pieces of cardboard and used year after year. Dad was like the "tinsel police" - watching that I did the hanging just right and admonishing me if I didn't. After what seemed like hours, my tinsel job was finished. I then helped my stepmother wrap gifts, mostly in green or red tissue paper, with Christmas stickers holding the pieces together. In a family of ten, scotch tape was a rare commodity, only to be used very sparingly. Those little stickers of candy canes, elves or angels barely held up through the night to Christmas morning. 


On Christmas morning, my father would turn the tree lights on and have "the kids" come down the stairs in age order - youngest to oldest (me). I still see the joy on the faces of my sisters and brothers as they saw the now decorated Christmas tree and the orderly stacks of presents underneath. My Dad was there taking pictures with the old video camera. We'd sit on the floor and my stepmom would hand us each a present to open.  I remember all of this to be orderly and not the harried ripping of paper that one generally sees nowadays. We didn't have many gifts, but what we were given made us smile.  Money was always tight in our household. Both parents worked on the B&M Railroad in the neighboring town, and my father also held other jobs at the same time - Police Chief, Fire Chief, snowplower in the town trucks. I well remember the trees he would cut "way up north" and haul back for us to sell at my uncle's hardware store or in our side yard. My siblings and I gathered Princess Pine from the woods and made wreaths to sell. We shoveled walks and driveways till our feet and fingers seemed frozen. That was how we earned our Christmas money. 

As I share my childhood memories with this wonderful lady I am Caregiver for, she, in turn, talks about her childhood Christmases.  Her eyes light up, she laughs, and long forgotten names and places come out of that hiding deep in her mind. I listen with my ears, but it is my heart that is catching each memory she is reliving. There is no sadness, no tears of days long lost. There is only the gifts of sharing and caring. Laughter fills the air. Unlocking wonderful memories is like opening up the door of the past with the key of love. And so the night ends, and we watch the falling snow blanketing the lake. We both smile, lost in the peace of our yesterdays.

As we celebrate this wonderful time of year be sure to share your own Christmas memories and reminisce with those you love. What are some of your favorite Christmas memories?



Activities for Alzheimers/Dementia Patients

  • Place a bird feeder just outside a window so you can watch the birds. With spring being the nest building time of year, you could also hang a bag with some nest building materials and watch the birds take things from it for their nests.

  • Cut pictures from magazines or greeting cards to make a spring themed collage.

  • Set a pretty spring table and serve some spring type foods and tea.

  • Make ice cream sundaes or floats.

  • Paint, or sort, seashells

  • Using a basic watercolor set, paint spring pictures.

  • Plant some seeds in cups for the window sill, later you can plant them in the yard together.

  • Blow bubbles.

  • Make fruit salad

  • Make Lemonade

  • String cheerios or popcorn for the birds.


Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Homecare Agency

To obtain a license, a homecare agency must meet certain requirements for the state.

These requirements include:

  • Criminal Background Checks

  • BEAS registry check

  • TB Testing

  • Physical

  • Training

  • Liability Insurance

In addition to the above, we recommend asking your potential agency questions pertaining to things the state does not require of an agency, yet are important when considering care for a loved one.

These include:

  • · How long has the agency been in business?

  • · Are all caregivers employees or are they subcontracted?

  • · What are their hiring standards?

  • · What are the qualifications

  • · What is the company dress code?

  • · How much experience do the employees have?

  • · What is the training and continuing education program for the employees?

  • · Does the agency provide drug abuse testing for employees?

  • · What is the range of pay provided to employees?

  • · Does the agency conduct motor vehicle background checks? (this is especially important if the caregiver will be providing transportation)

  • · Are your caregivers insured and bonded?

  • ·Is there enough staff if at any time my loved one needs more hours of care (ie: 24 hour a day), or if a caregiver should call in sick do you have the staff for coverage?

  • ·What are your hours of operation, how are phone calls handled during odd hours?

  • ·What types of pre-hire screening do you conduct on your employees.

 Click Here for a PDF of Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Homecare Agency.

When Hiring In-Home Care - Be Informed

We often have people tell us they are considering hiring an independent caregiver for their homecare needs. Sometimes the person they are considering is a neighbor or a friend who has worked with the elderly or disabled at some point. All situations are unique and every need for homecare will have a slightly different solution, whether it be hours of need or type of services. We believe each family seeking homecare solutions should have the best care for their situation whether it be an agency or an individual, but we also believe each family in order to protect themselves and their loved one should be thoroughly informed when they hire. 

Here are a few things you should be aware of when weighing your homecare options. 

1.  Many families are not aware there are certain things which are required by law of any individual or any agency who performs home care / personal care services. For example: the state of New Hampshire requires all homecare agencies to be licensed but many are not aware that any individual performing personal care / homecare services must also be licensed. This state licensing was established to protect the individual. An agency must go through a thorough licensing process in order to obtain a state license, an independent caregiver must go through a similar process. This license is different than having an LNA certificate. An individual can have their LNA certificate and still not be state licensed. 

2.  Many families are not aware that when they hire a caregiver independently, the IRS then considers them an employer. We have had families call us who have hired caregivers independently and when the family no longer needs as many hours of coverage they let a caregiver go. The caregiver then goes to the unemployement office and the family receives a bill for back employee taxes. Taxes which must be paid by an employer include Federal, Social Security, Meidcare, and state taxes if you are outside of NH.

3. There is a state registry called the BEAS registry, we find there are many people who are not even aware this exists. This registry of the Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services is maintained to keep a registry of those who have abused, exploited or neglected elderly or disabled adults. Running a check of this registry is not the same as running a criminal background check. We have seen situations where someone is on this registry yet has a clean criminal background check. 

4.  Many families are not aware that a negative TB test is required of all home care employees employed by an agency or working independently. TB can be carried by an individual for years without signs or symptoms. Any caregiver you are considering hiring independently should also be tested for TB.

5.  Drug Testingfor illegal drug abuse or prescription drug abuse. Many of the homes in which homecare services are performed have prescription medications in them. In fact, medication reminders is often one of the primary needs of homecare clients. Yet when seeking homecare services, many families often are not aware of this potential problem. All homecare providers should be drug tested. 

6. Any homecare agency must provide, as required by law, Workers Compensation Insurance. In addition an agency provides Liability Insurance and Bonding. If you are considering hiring independently, your homeowners policy may not cover such things. Talk with your insurance agent and make sure your homeowners policy is going to cover any incidents which may occur. This is not the time to think "oh, nothing will happen", we live in a society which loves lawsuits and you put at risk your home and anything else you have worked hard for if there is an accident.

7. Other considerations.

  • Sick Days: If homecare is something which you can not be without day in and day out, make certain you will have replacement if the caregiver should call out sick.

  • Qualifications and Training. Be certain the individual you hire has experience and training in the skills you are asking them to perform. For example; just because someone has worked in a nursing home does not necessarily mean they have done transfer assistance. Transfering an individual to their bed or in and out of the shower requires specific skills and techniques and must be done correctly to avoid injury to both the caregiver and the client/patient.

  • Transportation: If your caregiver will be providing transportation it is important that a motor vehicle background check be conducted prior to hire. Also, make certain your motor vehicle insurance will cover this situation or the caregiver is carrying their own motor vehicle liability policy. Our agency has a policy which will cover transportation of a client whether in the employees vehicle or the clients vehicle.

  • Physical: All state licensed agencies and individuals must have a physical from their doctor stating they are medically cleared to do such work. You should make certain you obtain the same if you are hiring independently.

These above considerations are just a few of the things we believe every family hiring homecare services should consider. For more considerations you can download the following PDF document. 

When Hiring In Home Care - Be Informed

Our Caring Homecare Staff

This post is dedicated to our amazing staff who we think are the finest team for home health care in the Conway, Wolfeboro, Wakefield, NH, and Sanford, ME areas. This post serves two purposes.

1 . It gives us opportunity to boast about this truly amazing team of caregivers, and 2. We'd also like to let them know how much they are appreciated. We do our best to make them feel appreciated and to let them know they are valued, but putting it here sort of carves it in stone for all the world to see. 

First: Their care for their clients is of the highest standard


  • Give their clients family peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are cared for.

  • Work long tiresome hours

  • Sleep away from home (and their family) at times to care for clients through the night

  • Are willingly woken up on those nights by clients needing their assistance (some nights numerous times)

  • Work holidays so their clients are not unattended

  • Perform tasks many people would not be willing to perform

  • Treat their clients with a high level of dignity and respect

  • Perform little "extras" in the clients home to let the clients know they are appreciated and to put a wow in their clients day

  • and so much more

Second: They care for each other.

In the homecare field it would be very easy to establish the "I'm an island" mentality as more often than not, the caregiver is working alone in the clients home with the client. They are not with other caregivers or staff. Yet I hear comments on a regular basis which reveal the level of care these caregivers have for one another, for their team. When one of them is offered a shift and she says "I can do that shift but why don't you offer it to so and so, I know she could use the work", that is team spirit, it is a type of caring which is of the heart and can not be faked. It is a care which is reflected in their care for their clients. It also shows when one of our caregivers goes out of her way to drive a lunch to a fellow caregiver whom she knows took on a spur of the moment shift. I want you all to know those things are noticed, not only by us in management but by our clients and their families, and those things all add up to the awesome team you are. 

To read what our home health care clients and their families think about our caregivers please see our page of testimonials.

Thanks For All You Do!




Things to Consider When Hiring a Home Healthcare Agency

We understand that providing care for a loved one can be stressful. Shouldn’t hiring home healthcare services help relieve stress, not add to it? The following list was compiled to help you when hiring. First there are a few things you should consider, following that is a list of question to ask a potential agency.

Things to consider:

1. Reputation:  Ask around. Ask your hospital discharge planners about any agency you are considering. Ask doctors, nurses, etc. Many of these places will even provide you a list of agencies to consider. It also wouldn’t hurt to stop by a senior center to ask around, or inquire at government services such as NH’s ServiceLink. Ask specifically about more than one agency for comparison purposes.

2. Check out their website: The agency’s website should be thorough, informative and professional.

3. Ask to have information sent to you. Any reputable agency should have brochures and other materials available for you to look at. These materials which will give you insight into the company, should answer some of your questions and should appear professional and well thought out.

Questions to ask a home healthcare agency:

1.Is your agency licensed by the state? The states of New Hampshire and Maine require homecare agencies and NH requires independent caregivers to be state licensed.

2.  Will you take care of all required payroll paperwork for my parent's caregiver and are your caregivers all employed by the agency?

The states of New Hampshire and Maine both consider you an employer if you independently hire someone to work in your home. There is a large amount of paperwork involved in being an employer which covers such matters as taxes, Social Security, workers comp. and disability. One benefit of hiring an agency is that an agency normally does this for you. Still, it never hurts to double-check, agencies do exist who use independent contractors as caregivers.

3. Do you conduct drug testing on your caregivers?

The states of New Hampshire and Maine do not require drug testing for home healthcare workers. Many homes in which home healthcare services are provided contain controlled substances, therefore we believe drug testing should be a vital part of the hiring process for any home care agency.

4. What kind of background check do you conduct on your caregivers?

Having peace of mind that your loved ones are in good hands is vital when hiring home healthcare services. The state of NH requires criminal background checks but not motor vehicle background checks. We believe motor vehicle background checks to be important because often home healthcare workers provide transportation for their clients.

5. Are your employees insured and bonded? 

The state of NH requires insurance of homecare agencies, but not bonding. However, insurance does not cover theft, bonding does. Also, not all liability insurance is the same, you could even ask the agency for a copy of their policy or ask what their liability insurance covers.  

6. What types of pre-hire screening do you conduct on your employees.

You should find out as much as possible about an agency’s hiring process before hiring them. All Abundant Blessings Homecare employees are required to complete an online screening prior to hire.This screening was put together by a third party and it tells us a lot of information about a potential employee. Through this screening and our other hiring procedures we are able to maintain our standard of excellence and only hire the best.

7.If at any time my loved one needs more hours of care (ie: 24 hour a day), or if a caregiver should call in sick do you have the staff for coverage?Any agency you hire should have enough staff to cover these situations should they arise.

8. What is your policy regarding sending a caregiver to my parents home whom my parents have never met?It is not safe for an elderly person to be answering the door to total strangers. An agency should have a policy in place regarding the meeting of new caregivers.

9. What kind of supervision do you provide?Once a caregiver is placed in your loved ones home, ongoing supervision of the caregiver needs to be provided.

10.What kind of service agreement is required? What are your minimum number of hours?

11. What is your method for tracking a caregivers arrival and departure from a clients home?The agency should have a system in place for this.

12. What are your hours of operation, how are phone calls handled during odd hours?

13. Do you provide a written plan of care which clearly describes any rates and fees?The state of New Hampshire has requirements which must be on the plan of care. The plan of care should be thorough and well explained to your family.

14. How soon can you start services?

For a printable version of "Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Homecare Agency" click here.

As Featured on