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10 Creative Stay at Home Activities for Kids and Families

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to maintain a proper distance from others. Social distancing measures such as quarantining at home aren’t just ideal for recovering from illness, but staying in can actually reduce your risk of catching this highly contagious virus. Stay at home orders have been lifted in some areas, but it’s still recommended that you and your family reduce non-essential public exposure and travel for the foreseeable future.

This means spending plenty more time at home. It may seem tough to continue sheltering in place, but thankfully there are activities that you can enjoy right at home and share with the whole family. Read on to discover fun, educational, and enriching stay-at-home activities that won’t just pass the time, but keep you safe and healthy.

The Importance of Stimulation

The human mind and body crave stimulation. Entertainment and exercise are essential to mental health. While quarantining at home, you and your family members may experience stress, anxiety, or even unease with changes in your routine. Add to this limitation on social interactions, and you may start to feel intense boredom at home.

Stimulating activities involve many areas of the brain and can help improve mental health during uncertain times. Enjoying these activities with others can help reduce your risk of anxiety, depression, and boredom. The sense of productivity and accomplishment when you complete a fun activity can also help everyone in the family maintain a positive self-image.

Finally, stimulation through activities just keeps you from getting stir-crazy! There is plenty of temptation to return to former activities out in public. Your children may be eager to get back to a public playground, movie theater, etc.–as germy as these areas may be. But if you find ways to entertain the whole family at home, such as these 10 activities, you’ll relieve your temptation to go out in public for stimulation.

1. Gardening

A fun and satisfying outdoor activity, gardening is a famously calming task that children will love. While gardening offers slow results, the work of digging holes, pruning flowers, and even decorating a flower bed with stones and bricks allows the whole family to use their creativity. Let your kids be involved in the decision-making for the best results.

2. Upcycle Toys

Turn your sanitary recyclables into fun toys. Use a cardboard box and string to make a homemade guitar, or even turn old clothing into stuffed toys. Let every member of the family show off their creativity and swap the resulting toys secret-Santa style. It’s never a bad time for gifts!

3. Bake

Rare is the child that will turn down a sweet snack. Bake delicious but healthy snacks such as trail mix or fruit tarts. Show kids the benefits of making fresh food right at home. Put on music and get the whole family involved!

4. Make Stickers

Packing tape and some markers are all you need to make custom stickers in the comfort of your home. Trade stickers for help around the house or yard, or even let kids apply their stickers on their electronics and bedroom doors. Family crafts are great for bonding and praising kids for their finished products helps build confidence.

5. Watercolor Paint

Watercolor painting can be difficult. It certainly has a learning curve. However, you have plenty of time at home to roll out thick paper and paints and learn a new creative skill with your family. If you’re new to watercolor painting, you may not do well at first, but practice makes progress. Enjoy the process and have fun with it!

6. Redecorate

Rearrange furniture and decor in every room. Even your kids will love the fresh look and feel when their bedrooms are rearranged. This may be a great chance for them to hang up some artwork they made themselves! Plus, you can take this opportunity to convince everyone in the family to get rid of old or unused junk.

7. Make Accessories for Pets

Accessorize your pet’s collar or animal-safe clothing with a fun little accessory that matches their personality and coloring. Use a glue gun and pieces of felt to build each accessory. It’s a fun task, and your pets will love the extra attention.

8. Try Origami

An ancient Japanese art that’s popular to this day worldwide, origami papercrafts are accessible and fun. Start off small with simple shapes like origami jumping frogs, try the classic flapping crane, or even incorporate cut designs to make crafts like paper lanterns.

9. Invent a Board Game

If you stay at home with kids, activities such as games will be in high demand. So make your own board game! This is a great team effort for the whole family. Invent your very own fun and challenging board game. Develop a board, cards, play pieces, a spinner wheel, or other fun features. Not only will you love playing this unique board game together, but you can also share it with guests when it’s safe to have company again.

10. Make Wreaths for Every Month

Who says Christmas is the only season for wreaths? The whole family can get together and make wreaths for every month, like floral wreaths for May and summer decor for June. Use foam, a hot glue gun, and decorative pieces like dried leaves and felt to make custom wreaths. Search your backyard for twigs and other decorative objects, too. You can decorate your front door differently every month. Fun and rewarding experiences such as these are engaging during a difficult time and help kids stay occupied and even happy to be at home with the whole family.

If you need help caring for your loved ones, call 24 Hour Home Care. We offer dedicated, attentive, and professional home care services. 24 Hour Home Care supports and provides care for individuals with developmental disabilities, working directly with various Regional Centers across California to provide respite care, specialized supervision, personal assistance and FMS programs. We’re working hard to ensure your family members and our providers stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Top 5 Reasons to Become a Caregiver

A caregiver is an individual that dedicates their time and energy to helping others during transitional or tough times in their lives. A caregiver could possibly care for individuals of all ages, but most caregivers are providing care for elderly individuals that may have illnesses, ailments or challenges that prevents them from being fully independent. A caregiver will come into the home of their client and provide several services that includes:

  • Personal Care, such as assistance with bathing, using the restroom, personal hygiene and getting dressed.
  • Light housekeeping services range anywhere from doing laundry and taking out the trash to organizing clutter or maintaining a clean home.
  • Meal preparation, which is very important for the client, as the caregiver will make sure the client is receiving the proper nutrition and meals that he or she needs in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Medication reminders is one of the most important aspects of a caregiving service, as it will ensure that the client is taking the appropriate dosage of medicine at the appropriate time.
  • Companionship is an aspect of caregiving that is often overlooked, but it is perhaps one of the most important service an in-home caregiver can provide. Being there for the individual to support them and to simply spend time with them can boost their self-confidence and their mood, which can improve their overall well-being.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Become a Caregiver

Becoming a caregiver is one of the most challenging yet rewarding parts of some people’s lives. As they devote their time to helping others, they are truly making a difference in the world and they impact lives in many ways. Although there are several reasons why becoming a caregiver is beneficial and a wise career choice, we have narrowed it down to five top reasons why you should become a caregiver.

  • Working in a home environment has many benefits, especially if the person thrives outside of a traditional workplace environment. Working in someone else’s home allows the person to continue to work hard and do what they love, but in a more casual setting that can give them the ability to thrive in a setting they truly enjoy.
  • When you become a caregiver, you take on the responsibility of interacting with several people during your tenure at the agency you work for. This is perhaps one of the best reasons to become a caregiver, as you get to meet tons of new people that you can connect with on a different level than regular socializing. For example, when you meet an individual because you are caring for them or their loved one, you are likely to bond much more than if you met them in line at the supermarket or on the street. There is a special bond between a caregiver and their clients, as well as the client’s support system, which would make any social-butterfly happy! Becoming a caregiver gives you an opportunity to meet new people each time you are assigned to a new client. Sometimes you may be with the same client for several months, whereas other times you may help several different people each week. Becoming a caregiver gives you the ability to socialize with others, while still doing your job!
  • Similar to meeting new people, one of the benefits of becoming a caregiver is simply enjoying the company of the client in which you serve. Unlike other jobs where you may never come face to face with your client or consumer, caregiving not only allows you to meet them but also spend time with them. If you are an individual that enjoys spending time with people and enjoys being around others during your workday, caregiving is the right job for you! As aforementioned, being a caregiver gives you the ability to bond on a different level with the client and family in which you serve. After you bond with the client or their loved ones, you have the pleasure of being around them for your whole workday. Being around others in a workplace setting can make outgoing or extroverted individuals very happy! Are you introverted and unsure if caregiving is right for you? Becoming a caregiver can actually help individuals come out of their shell and give them a comfortable and safe environment for them to socialize in!
  • When you become a caregiver, you likely will never have the same type of day twice. This means that you will continuously be learning new things, new techniques and new practices to the caregiving industry. You will continue to develop your skills over time, especially if your home care agency puts an emphasis on caregiver training. This job is perfect for someone who enjoys learning new things while on the job and enjoys a workplace environment that will keep them on their toes!
  • When you become a caregiver, you are likely providing a service that people need and you are truly making a huge impact in people’s lives. Becoming a caregiver is hard work and you have to dedicate your time and energy to ensuring that your client is happy and healthy. However, at the end of the day you are giving the client’s and their families a gift that is irreplaceable and priceless: peace of mind and happiness. Becoming a caregiver is the right occupation for individuals who look to make a difference in the lives of their client’s or consumers. Becoming a caregiver is more than just a job for most people, it is their way of giving back to the world and their way of being a genuine source of help for people that need it the most. Not only will that make a difference in their community, but it will boost the caregiver’s self-esteem knowing that he or she made a difference and that they are doing something that is beneficial for others.

There are several reasons why becoming a caregiver is perhaps one of the best choices that an individual can make for both their personal and their professional goals. Becoming a caregiver will not only enrich the life and livelihood of the individual who has become a caregiver, but it will give them purpose and meaning in their lives as they move forward in their careers. Apply to become a caregiver today and make a difference in someone’s life!

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24 Hour Home Care® Named One of the 2019 Best Workplaces for Aging Services by Great Place to Work® and FORTUNE

Los Angeles, CA – Great Place to Work and FORTUNE have honored 24 Hour Home Care as one of the 2019 Best Workplaces for Aging Services. The ranking considered feedback representing 223,183 employees working for Great Place to Work-Certified organizations in Senior Housing & Care and At-Home Care in the Aging Services industry. Great Place to Work, a global people analytics and consulting firm, evaluated more than 60 elements of team members’ experience on the job. These included the extent to which employees trust leaders, the respect with which people are treated, the fairness of workplace decisions, and how much camaraderie there is among the team. Rankings are based on employees’ feedback and reward companies who best include all employees, no matter who they are or what they do for the organization. 24 Hour Home Care took the number 4 spot on the list.

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Why is Self-Care Important for Caregivers?

Self-care is an important aspect of life that reduces anxiety, improves overall mood and enables an individual to take care of themselves spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. Self-care is often equated with doing something that soothes the soul and the mind, as it is more than likely something that will the individual feels lifts their spirits and put them in a happy mindset. For caregivers, self-care is even more important because they spend countless hours each day taking care of others and their overall well-being sometimes gets pushed to the side. Caregivers are hardworking, kind and genuine people that put all their time and energy into caring for others, that they often forget to care for themselves and others forget to check in on their wellbeing.

Caregivers also are more prone to increased anxiety and depression, as their job may require them to give all of their physical, mental and emotional energy to their patients. Caregiving is not an easy job; it requires the individual to not only be there physically for their client but emotionally as well. It can be very draining to have to always be ‘on’ while working with constant physical challenges and providing constant companionship to their clients. At the end of the day, caregivers likely feel exhausted and they may start to experience the feeling of caregiver burnout and fatigue. This may be due to long hours on the job, the passing of a client, increased anxiety when away from their client that they are invested in or simply because they are fatigued. This is an indication that the caregiver may feel overworked, tired and in need of self-care!

Self-care comes in many different forms, as it is entirely individualized and customizable from person to person. Self-care may look different to different people, as they may need alternative things in that moment to brighten their day and improve their overall mood. Although self-care activities and their customizations may vary from person to person, there are several core self-care actions a caregiver can take in order to have a happy mind, body and soul. These activities include:

  • Taking time to pick out and prepare a well-balanced meal that will help support an overall healthy and sustainable diet for caregivers. Taking the time to prepare meals that will serve as fuel for their mind will not only allow them to get through their day with energy, it will put them in a healthier mindset as they nourish their bodies with fuel that they need to maintain energy levels and optimal health.
  • Getting a massage has several benefits, as it has been proven that professional massages can help reduce anxiety and stress. Taking time to unwind and simply get a massage will give them space to have an hour or so to themselves, full of relaxing techniques to not only loosen the body, but the mind. Additionally, messages that includes aromatherapy can give caregivers an enhanced experience that can relieve stress, anxiety, tension and headaches. Caregivers often spend hours working on their feet, which can cause them to have back-problems and pain in their joints or muscles. Not only will a massage have positive impacts on the mind, but physically massages have been proven to loosen muscles and alleviate pain in the back, neck, shoulders, etc.
  • Taking time to meditate has several benefits, as it gives the caregiver time to connect their breath to their body, thus relaxing the mind and soul. Meditation takes time and practice and may not be a caregivers choice of self-care from the beginning, but when done properly, meditation can improve cognitive functions and relieve stress for caregivers.
  • Taking anywhere between 30 minutes and one hour to exercise can be one of the most successful forms of self-care for caregivers. Exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety, stress and depression, as well as boost people’s overall mood and spirits. Taking the time to simply connect with their own body and get in touch with their strength and resistance will not only give caregivers a chance to push themselves physically, especially when they enjoy the exercise they do, but also give their mind a break from thinking about caregiving related issues.
  • Getting fresh air, outside of exercise can help reduce depression and feelings of burn out, as well as reducing tiredness in often overworked individuals.
  • Find an activity that soothes the soul, the mind and the body. For some caregivers, this may be through practicing yoga for 30 minutes at the end of a long day. For others, it may be spending time baking in their kitchen, as they can feel that is therapeutic and allows them to relax. For others that may be painting, drawing or coloring, as arts projects may give them time to relax their mind and unwind at the end of the day. Self-care is incredibly individualized and will highly depend on what the caregiver enjoys and the type of self-care they feel will benefit them the most. These various activities include:
    • Taking a bath
    • Getting a pedicure and/or foot massage
    • Reading a book
    • Writing
    • Cooking
    • Reconnecting with old friends and family members
    • Spend time with pets

Whether it is through connecting with loved ones, practicing yoga or tai chi or simply reading a book, self-care is so important for caregivers to unwind and relax at the end of their days. Being a caregiver is difficult and often chaotic work, leaving them susceptible to feeling empty, anxious, depressed or stressed at the end of the day. Self-care is one of the best ways to ensure that caregivers are healthy and will continue to flourish in their day to day routine. We encourage caregivers to actively seek out opportunities for self-care: don’t be afraid to take care of the most important person in your life – you!

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How Caregivers Make a Difference

A caregiver is an individual that dedicates their time and energy to helping their loved ones, or their clients, during a challenging time in their lives. Caregivers usually spend their days ensuring their loved ones are comfortable, safe and happy. Time spent with their clients may vary from 7 days a week to a few times a week, depending on the clients’ needs. There are several reasons why an individual may need a caregiver such as they may have cancer, they may be of old age or they simply may have an ailment that prevents them from taking care of themselves. A caregiver comes into their clients’ lives and seeks to improve their quality of life.

How do Caregivers Make a Difference?


Caregivers are perhaps some of the most selfless and charitable people in the world, as their sole mission is to help others. By having caregiver support come into their home through in-home care agencies, elderly individuals or those in need will be able to feel safe in their own home, while ensuring they are in good hands in terms of their health and well-being. Having a caregiver on hand allows the individual who is receiving care to have a quality of life that he or she would not be able to have without the help of a professional caregiver. There are several ways that caregivers make huge differences in the people that they care for, such as:

  • Medication reminders and management not only allows the caregiver to assist their patient with the medication that he or she needs to take, but they can be there to ensure that the individual does not have a negative reaction or side effect of the medicine. It is important that an in-home caregiver is aware of the medical history of the client and by the caregiver doing their research and being diligent, they could ensure the individual is feeling their best by keeping them on their proper medication schedule. Additionally, a caregiver could actually save their clients’ lives by ensuring their medications are not being mixed in a dangerous or lethal way.
  • Personal care allows the individual and their family members to feel as though personal hygiene is a top priority that will not be neglected due to inability to care for oneself. Unfortunately, as people both age and progress in their illnesses, they may be unable to care for themselves and keep up with their personal hygienic routine. This can cause a plethora of health issues and problems for the client, which the caregiver can actually help mitigate. Caregivers are able to be there to help with bathing, toileting, dressing and grooming, which will allow the client to maintain a clean and healthy personal hygienic routine. Not only will this help their client physically, but it may lift the individuals spirits as well! When someone looks good and is clean, they feel good, which can overall improve their quality of life and their mood!
  • Companionship services allow caregivers and their clients to bond with each other, which likely stems from spending so much time together over a prolonged period of time. As individuals get older, he or she may start to experience the loss of their friends or perhaps they are unable to get out of the house and socialize the way they used to. Eventually that loneliness will turn into depression and it may manifest into a health issue that is beyond the individual’s control.
  • Light housekeeping is an imperative way for a caregiver to make a difference in their clients’ lives. Similar to personal care services, light housekeeping allows the individual to remain healthy and happy, which will improve their quality of life. These tasks include maintaining a sanitary & functional environment, organization of clutter, taking out the trash, laundry and doing dishes. By maintain a healthy, functional and organized environment, a caregiver can not only make a difference in the lives of their clients, but in the lives of the client’s family and friends who may be worried about their loved ones in an unsafe environment.

As aforementioned, one of the biggest ways that a caregiver can make a difference in the lives of those they serve is by providing a service that will give the family members and friends of the patient peace of mind that their loved one is in good hands. By taking the time to care for this individual, not only are they giving them the ability to live a happy, fulfilled and healthy life, but they are giving their support system a chance to take a break from worrying about their family member or friend. Respite care is one of the most impactful services that a caregiver provides, which will improve the overall family and friend unit and their attitudes towards the situation. A caregiver may be hired to help the patient initially, but their impact spans across several different people in the familial unit, as they touch many lives by providing caregiving services to their clients. Not only is it important for the seniors to get care, in order to live a longer and happier life in the comfort of their own home, but it is important for the family to feel supported during this otherwise chaotic and stressful time in their lives.

Caregivers can make an extremely large impact on the lives of the clients they serve, the community that they support and the families that they come in contact with. Caregivers are gentle, compassionate, kind and generous human beings that devote their time to ensuring other people are happy, healthy and living a life that they deserve.

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How to Recognize Substance Abuse in Seniors

More than 2.5 million elderly adults suffer from a drug (or alcohol) problem in the United States.  This statistic is staggering and shocking across the board, as we likely have a health crisis on our hands with elderly individuals abusing prescription and recreational drugs unlike ever before. This is an ongoing problem that many people may not be aware is happening, as most people assume drug addiction and abuse happens in teens and younger adults.

Why are Seniors Prone to Substance Abuse?

 
A common misconception of drug abuse is that all people who are misusing drugs are likely in the ‘partying’ phase of their life or using drugs to enhance those experiences in their life. People often think that drug addiction is exclusive to young adults abusing street grade drugs to have a good time or to escape reality. What people seem to forget is that there is a whole generation and group of people that are more vulnerable to becoming addicted to drugs and their addiction is likely started by perfectly legal prescriptions that are given to them by medical professionals. Of course, we are talking about seniors, who are over the age of 50.

As our bodies get older, they may become more susceptible to diseases, illnesses and sickness that may require prescription drugs to treat. These drugs can range from blood pressure medicine to pain killers to anti-nausea medication; the options are endless for those who may be suffering from life altering ailments due to their older age. An unfortunate fact is that addiction in the elderly population is incredibly common and it likely stems from the miscommunication between doctors, the elderly patient of the doctor and the patient’s family or support system. Mismanagement of medications can also contribute to the growing addiction problem, as seniors may mix medications they shouldn’t and eventually become dependent on the mixture of medicine that they have concocted in their bodies.

Additionally, it is important to remember that this is a very fragile time in their lives, as seniors are more than likely facing changes in their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual life daily. As we become older, it is natural to face more challenges and changes that leave us feeling lost, scared or anxious. Seniors may be the most susceptible to this, as they may have recently experienced an increased level of changes through out their life. Such changes and deviations from their norm include:

  • Retirement from a career that they feel gave them purpose and drive for several years.
  • Loss of a pet that they feel was a large part of their family.
  • Loss of a loved one that is around their age or may have the same illness that they have. This is especially true in seniors that are experiencing death amongst their group of friends or peers, as this seems to hit hard emotionally in most elderly individuals.
  • Feeling that he or she is losing their independence and, thus, may end up losing their home and the life that they have built for themselves.

These life altering events could be triggers for individuals to start feeling depressed, sad, anxious or lost. This could trigger their substance abuse, as they turn towards the medication that they have, or illicit drugs that they find elsewhere, to cope with the pain of change and the idea of life shifting from what they once knew to a new norm.

If an elderly individual does not have a support system around them that will help them keep track of their medications, he or she is left prone to abusing their medications, as they may be unable to keep track of their medication schedule and maintaining a healthy balance between medications. Hiring a professional caregiving to specialize in medication management and reminders ensures that an elderly individual has the proper attention that he or she needs in order to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle, while a caregiver oversees the medication that they are taking on a daily or weekly basis. Although a caregiver through a non-medical home care company cannot physically give their clients the medications that he or she is prescribed, some of the services that a caregiver can provide in regard to medication management includes:

  • Ensuring that the medication is taken at the appropriate time, in the right dosage.
  • Ensuring that the medication is in a locked and safe place when the elderly individual does not need to have access to it.
  • Managing any pill boxes that sort out the medication to clearly lay out the daily intake.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse in Seniors?

 

When a senior abuses drugs (or uses alcohol with prescription medication) he or she may start to present symptoms that their family unit simply cannot ignore. Although some of these symptoms may be chalked up to old age or a direct result of their health problems, it should be taken very seriously if these signs and symptoms are ever present in elderly individuals. Symptoms of substance abuse can be hidden very well or for a long period of time, especially in seniors that may not see their friends or family very often. Signs and symptoms of drug abuse in seniors includes:

  • Memory loss, confusion and disorientation are clear signs of substance abuse that may be overlooked, as they are also a sign of an individual getting older. These symptoms indicate cognitive impairment, which is a red-flag warning sign that the individual is experience cognitive decline due to substance abuse.
  • Loss of money, especially if it is in a savings account, with no explanation.
  • Social isolation outside of their normal personality that has recently picked up or has recently become noticeable to others. For example, if an elderly individual would only socialize with others once or twice a week, but then completely cut off social interaction with others all together, that could be a red flag.
  • Asking doctors for their prescriptions to be filled early.
  • Poor hygiene, including looking disheveled or appearing messy. This could stem from dirty hair, wearing the same clothing multiple days in a row or simply not bathing.
  • Dizziness or feeling uneasy when they stand.
  • Increased tolerance to medications that they once responded well to.
  • Increased anger, mood swings, depression or anxiety.
  • Increased complaints about chronic pains and aches, especially if they are new ones that have never been addressed previously.
  • Defensiveness towards anyone who questions their habits using the substances, especially if people question if he or she has a drug problem or a problem with dependency.
  • Keeping medications by their side at all times or moving their medication stash frequently so no one can access it.

If these signs and symptoms are present in an elderly individual, it is advised that a medical professional is contacted right away, as there are serious side effects of substance abuse for seniors. Since their health is not as sharp as it once was, seniors are unable to process a high volume of prescription drugs as they once could. They could experience rapid deterioration of their organs and could lead to heart attack, stroke or even death. Senior citizens are more prone to experiencing fatal side effects from substance abuse issues than any other age group due to their already declining health. It is imperative that any sign of substance abuse is brought to the attention of their medical professionals so that they can receive the treatment and help he or she needs.

Substance abuse can cause mental, emotional and physical problems for elderly individuals. Misuse and mishandling of medications can bring serious and irreparable damage to a senior’s body, mind and soul. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, please seek help immediately by bringing this up to a medical professional. You do not have to fight this alone.

 

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24 Hour Home Care® Voted “Best In-Home Care” by the Los Angeles Daily News for the Fifth Consecutive Time

Los Angeles, CA – 24 Hour Home Care is thrilled to announce that it has been named Best In-Home Care by the Los Angeles Daily News for the fifth consecutive year! This award is given to the company that brings value to the community by providing services that make a difference in people’s lives every day. 24 Hour Home Care has been serving Los Angeles and the surrounding communities since its inception in 2008, with the opening of its first office in Torrance, California.

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24 Hour Home Care® Ranks on the Inc. 5000 List for the Seventh Year in a Row

NEW YORK, August 14, 2019Inc. magazine today revealed that 24 Hour Home Care is on its annual Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. This marks the seventh consecutive year that 24 Hour Home Care has been named on this prestigious list. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent small businesses. Microsoft, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees on the Inc. 5000.

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How Does Transitioning To A New Location Affect Children with Developmental Disabilities

A transition is best defined as a time of change, where the changes impact an individual’s routine and their day to day functions.

For an individual that has developmental disabilities, a transition may be more challenging for them to adjust to, as their disability likely heightens their resistance to change. Transitions can mean any sort of change in their daily routine, whether that is when they are going from school to home or simply from play time to bedtime. Transitions actually happen multiple times a day for children with or without developmental disabilities, but the concept of change is harder to grasp for those with those challenges. Change is inevitable and it happens often, but that does not mean that it is easy for all parties involved.

What is a Transition and How Does it Impact Your Child?

Transitions will impact children differently and their reactions to changes will prompt different behavioral responses based on the child’s disability and their coping mechanisms. As aforementioned, transitions happen every day inside and outside the home. However, when a child with developmental disabilities or intellectual disabilities is old enough to attend school, transitions become more common and their responses to changes can intensify. A school environment for some children can soothe their responses to transitions, especially if they are in a special education class that eases them into the changes when they move from one activity to another. However, if the child is not in a special education class and they are not being guided through the transition, they can react with sudden outbursts of inappropriate behavior, physical aggression or emotional distress.

When a child with developmental disabilities starts to feel anxious or angry around the time of their transitions, he or she may start to act out and redirect their feelings into unhealthy behaviors. The Center on Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning defines this type of behavior as “challenging behavior” because the child with the disability is often difficult to handle during this time, and it can be very challenging to calm them down. Such behaviors include:

  • Tantrums that include screaming, crying and overall defiance against authority.
  • Self-harm including scratching themselves, throwing themselves against the wall and/or floor, etc.
  • Shutting down emotionally and/or physically, which often means the child will simply sit or lay on the ground and refuse to move, as they feel the anxiety of the transition is too great to carry on with their daily activities.
  • Aggressive physical behavior including hitting others, destroying anything in their path and screaming at others with the sole intent to hurt their feelings.

As previously mentioned, the responses to transitions may vary from child to child, as each person will have a different physical, emotional or verbal reaction to the changes that they are experiencing. The important thing to know is how your child reacts to certain situations that they may find themselves in. Although you will not be there during the school day to help them with their behavior, you can predict behavior and try to mitigate any issues by teaching them about transitions and giving them appropriate coping mechanisms during this time.

How Can You Help Your Child with Transitions in School?

As a parent, you likely are always looking for ways to protect your child and to ensure that they have the tools and skills necessary to succeed. As you know, when you have a child with developmental disabilities, those tools and skills may look different than those for children without disabilities. One of the easiest ways to help your child with transitions in school is to discuss what transitions are, what they can expect during this time of change and even practice transitioning between activities! There are several ways to assist your child with their transitions such as:

  • Talk with your child about what transitions are, how they may feel regarding the situation and what they should do in that situation.
  • Take it one step further than talking and act it out! By simply reenacting a transition, such as moving from lunchtime to a classroom or from classroom to naptime, you can set your child up for success by allowing them to practice how they will feel during the real life situation.
  • Practice transitions that may not be a part of the school day, but rather a part of their everyday life. As we mentioned, during the school day, your child may experience changes from going from one activity to another. Emulating transitions in their everyday life can get them used to the process of going through changes and give them an opportunity to react positively and practice positive behaviors. If your child has a chore that they carry out daily or weekly, try transitioning them to their chore from another activity that they are doing for them to experience change. Another great way to practice transitions in the home is to go from playtime to bedtime, giving them a chance to unwind and find a way to control their emotions appropriately.
  • Give them the tools they need to succeed when they are feeling overwhelmed. Working with an Occupational Therapist will allow you to familiarize yourself with coping mechanisms for your child and what works for them to redirect their aggressive energy. Does your child hit others when they are anxious or frustrated? Do they often throw tantrums? Have the OT work with your child on breathing techniques and how they can calm themselves down when they start to feel the triggers that they may associate with transition periods in a school day.
  • Speaking with the teacher is a must when setting your child with disabilities up for success in their school day transitions. Simply taking the time to call your child’s teacher, or better yet meet with them in person, gives you the opportunity to discuss your child’s needs with them and how to handle certain situations. No one knows your child better than you do – so who is better to advocate for them to the outside world?

As you work with your child to become more familiarized with transitions, we encourage you to utilize the tips we have listed above. Your child will be challenged daily in their school environments and during their time in school. Although it can be tough to work with them on perfecting their responses to transitions, with the right approach it can be done!

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How Does Bullying Affect Children with Developmental Disabilities?

Bullying is commonly defined as aggressive behavior and/or words between two or more people, often unprovoked or unwanted in its nature.
 
When an individual is picking on another child or children, they are considered the bully in the situation. When a child is the victim of bullying, he or she has become the target for other children to pick on them or make fun of them. Bullying can range from physical, verbal or social. The different types of bullying are as follows:

  • Verbal bullying is when the bully says mean, hurtful or degrading things to their victims. This can range from name calling to threats being made against their well-being.
  • Physical bullying is when the bully physically injures their victim and hurts them, often causing bodily harm. This type of bullying ranges from hitting, scratching and punching to breaking someone’s possessions such as their eyeglasses.
  • Social bullying happens when the bully’s sole intention is to harm their victim’s social life and cause them embarrassment in a public or social setting, excluding them or making rude comments in front of a larger group of people with the sole intent to cause harm.

Bullying can take on several different forms, but often happens in the school yard or in a school environment, as that is the time where the bully is around their victim the longest. It has been stated that a bully will find their victim in the schoolyard, but the bullying may start to happen outside of school such as on the Internet or during after school activities.

Why are Children with Disabilities Targeted?

 
When children with disabilities are put into a school environment, they are more likely to be picked on and victims of bullying due to the differences they have from the other children. For children with disabilities, they may not have been fully aware of the extent of their differences until they were exposed to different types of children in the school yard, leaving them vulnerable and shocked that they stand out from among the rest. For example, for a child with a mild form of Autism, he or she may enjoy sitting and reading books rather than playing at recess. For them, this may have never caused an issue in the past, but in their new environment of a school yard, they suddenly stand out like a sore thumb.

Children with disabilities are put at a higher risk for bullying because they are different from their peers. When children are faced with people of a different race, origin or even different personalities, they may not know how to respond. In the eyes of the bully, an individual with disabilities is ‘weird’ and is not fitting in with the other children in the classroom. This causes them to pick on the child with disabilities because he or she is different from the others.

How to Detect Bullying in Children

 
Unfortunately, bullying is incredibly common in the modern day school environments, as reports have stated roughly 20% of students from ages 12-18 has experienced bullying and roughly 19% of students in high school has experienced bullying on school property in the past calendar year (12 months). Although that is a staggering and sobering statistic, that does not mean that it has to be a widely accepted part of school yard culture. Children and their parents alike should never turn a blind eye from the problem, as it is best faced head on and early in the issue. Knowing the signs of a bullied child can allow a child’s support system to offer them care and support when dealing with bullies.

There are several different signs that can point to a child being bullied, most of which are easily detected by their loved ones and especially their parents. Depending on the type of bullying the individual is facing, they may be exerting different signs that they are falling victim to a bully at school or in their neighborhood. These warning signs of bullying not only can trigger their loved ones to take action, but it is important to recognize that they impact the child’s daily life as they are dealing with the issue of bullying. Common warning signs of a child being bullied includes:

  • Trouble sleeping or bad dreams through out the nighttime.
  • Grades slipping or bad reports coming home from the teachers in their school.
  • Unexplained or mysterious injuries such as cuts, bruises, scratches and tender parts of their body that hurt to the touch.
  • Anxious behavior, especially right before they are supposed to go to school.
  • Afraid of socialization with their peers or meeting new people.
  • Shift in their mood, including increased anger or depression or moodiness.

Each of these warnings’ signs of bullying impact their daily life and can fester into long term effects of being bullied. The more a child with developmental disabilities is bullied throughout their time in school, especially in their pivotal years as a growing child, the more it will impact them in negative ways in the long run. There are several long term side effects and issues that victims of bullying may experience. These long-term effects include:

  • Higher risk of suicidal tendencies
  • Higher risk of depression
  • Higher risk of anxiety
  • Higher risk of social disorders
  • Struggles in an academic environment
  • Trouble dealing with intimate and personal relationships/friendships
  • Low self-esteem
  • Low confidence and self-worth

Unfortunately, bullying can bring about several psychological issues that can stay with a child in the long run. For those with developmental disabilities, bullying may haunt them and scar them more, as they may not fully understand why they are being bullied and why they are such easy targets for the bully. Not only will the child with developmental disabilities face the long-term side effects but they may also suffer from short term setbacks as well, especially when it comes to their education. These hindrances include:

  • Decrease in their grades
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in their social activities
  • Dropping out of school all together.

It is important to note that children with developmental disabilities are more susceptible to being bullied and to be a target for children their age, as they often stand out amongst the crowd. In order to prevent these children from feeling the psychological long-term effects from bullying, it is important for parents and educators to keep their eyes and ears open so that they can catch any signs of bullying in it’s earliest forms. Bullying does not have to be the norm for children with disabilities and they can break free of the cycle and grow into successful young adults, branching away from their past experiences in the school yard.

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