In the Press for Industry-Leading Home Care Solutions
Read about how our living assistance services are making a difference in the lives of Reading seniors
Comfort Keepers in Reading, PA is a leader in home care solutions for seniors. We are proud of our services and humbled by the recognition that our office has received!
The Tough Talk: The First Step is Having a Family Meeting
March 2018 - One of the toughest conversations a family faces is confronting their aging loved ones when they feel their loved one can no longer remain safely at home alone without assistance. It is a dreaded conversation. Most families avoid it as long as possible, delaying the conversation much longer than they should. It doesn’t have to be that way. With a little pre-planning, the family can be prepared to have a productive family meeting.
For starters, it is important to talk as a family without the loved one being present. Some family members may feel uncomfortable doing this. They might feel like they are doing something secretive behind their loved one’s back, but honestly, the truth is rarely spoken in the presence of the loved one. Sons and daughters honor and respect their mothers and fathers. It often feels disrespectful to openly and honestly discuss their parent’s deficiencies right in front of them. That is why having a family meeting without the loved one present is necessary so that facts can be discussed openly.
Start by talking about the current situation.
Often family and friends work side by side to build a team of people to manage the lives of their aging loved one…one person does the grocery shopping, someone else does the lawn, there’s a person to clean, someone serves as the handyman, yet another person manages the medications, several people drop off meals throughout the week. Make a list of all the tasks that your loved one is not able to accomplish on their own or without assistance. This will provide a factual list of tasks others are providing if the loved one feels that they are doing fine on their own.
Face the issues.
Perhaps family members are noticing changes in the person’s health, increased forgetfulness, susceptibility to scams, deterioration of the home or a host of other obvious signs that their loved one is facing challenges. Make a list of these observations; consider the severity of these concerns and which are affecting the loved one’s safety.
Discuss the options.
While most seniors would like to continue on the path of maintaining “status quo”, it is simply not an option. Families need to speak up and admit that what they are doing now will not work forever or simply is not working at all. Often the opportunity for their loved one to live safely and independently on their own has passed and it is time to make a decision to either accept help in the home, move to a facility, or move in with another family member. Providing choices is important, but “status quo” is not a safe option.
Get everyone one the same page.
When the family does make a decision on the choices that will be offered to the loved one, everyone needs to be in agreement. Whether it is two family members or seven family members, everyone needs to be in agreement and deliver the same message. Your loved one will be able to sense when family members are conflicted about the options and that could undermine the whole conversation.
Approach your loved one.
It’s important to make your loved one feel comfortable. Put them at ease by letting them know they have not done anything wrong but that the family worries about them and wants to help. Be firm in your presentation that all family members are committed to making the right decision, but agree that the current situation is not working. Try to remain focused on facts, rather than emotions. Allow your loved one to interject as they wish while maintaining the stance that “status quo” is no longer an option.
The best time to have this conversation is before there is a major crisis. When there is less immediate urgency to the situation and emotions are at a normal level, your family and your loved one will have more choices.
Reading Eagle Article From Comfort Keepers' Territory Manager
By Wendy Kerschner - Comfort Keepers
February 11, 2018 - An admirable bond occurs between people and their pets, and it seems that seniors have an almost inseparable relationship.
Quite frankly, most times, a pet and its owner have matured together. With pet life spans averaging 10 to 15 years, the pet and the owner likely have grown to know one another and their quirks.
They have their own communication, sleeping arrangements and habits. They come to depend on one another. Especially for seniors living alone, their pet is their world.
So are pets beneficial to our senior loved ones? Absolutely!
According to Rebecca Johnson, University of Missouri professor of nursing and veterinary medicine, “levels of serotonin, a hormone in humans that helps fight depression, rise dramatically after interaction with live animals. This hormone is critical in the psychological well-being of an individual.”
Simply stated, just the act of petting a dog or cat is highly beneficial.
Can pets be detrimental to our senior loved ones? Absolutely!
In some homes, pets can cause serious safety concerns for older pet owners. Dogs and cats alike can pose a fall hazard, unseen as they lay in a doorway or walking path. Pets easily can get tangled underfoot or even excitedly jump up on the owner. With falling being the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in older Americans, according to the National Council on Aging, pet hazards are a valid concern for older pet owners.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 86,000 people per year fall specifically from incidents involving their dog or cat.
For older pet owners with mobility issues and physical limitations, cleaning the litter box or allowing their pet outdoors to “do their business” can pose a serious health concern.
Some older pet owners have compensated for their limited abilities by allowing pets to use “pee pads.” While this may seem like a solution, it often leads to unsightly messes and caustic air quality.
Proper feeding, grooming and veterinary care is also a concern. Often, older pet owners lack the ability to properly provide general care for their pet. I will never forget one woman I met who suffered from dementia. She was often confused about the time of day and whether she had eaten or not.
Unfortunately, it was evident that her two cats were affected by her disease as well. Both cats were emaciated. While she was forgetting to eat herself, she was also forgetting to feed her cats. Because this senior was no longer permitted to drive because of her health issues, the cats also were not seen by the veterinarian in quite some time. It was an unfortunate situation and sadly, one which is much more common than most of us are aware.
Families need to understand that there is a balance that must be maintained between “man’s best friend” and the ability to safely care and cohabitate with pets. There is a time when the risks may outweigh the benefits. Those conversations and resulting decisions are not easy.
There are options to this dilemma. If the person wishes to remain at home with their pet, perhaps help in the home by a friend, neighbor or hired caregiver would permit a safer living situation for both the pet and owner. If moving to a facility is an option, there are facilities that allow small pets to move in, too. A less desirable option, but still a consideration, would be allowing the pet to be adopted by another loving family that might permit visits or even bring the pet back to their original owner to visit.
Again, these conversations are not easy; however, they are necessary. Weigh the pros and cons of each option and allow your loved one to participate in making the best decision.
For more information on seniors and pets, visit www.aginginplace.org/seniorsand-pets/.
Recipient of the Shining Star Large Business of the Year Award from the Northeast Chamber of Commerce
Taylor Delehanty - Reading Eagle
November 14, 2017 — Comfort Keepers, an in home senior care provider, took the award for large business of the year.
The business employs 141 people who provide care to seniors and their families.
Dave Kendall, co-owner, said people do business with Comfort Keepers because they feel it is trustworthy and delivers what is promised.
"We enjoy 16 years of serving Berks County," Kendall said. "The vast majority of our new clients are referrals based on previously served clients.
Kendall said Comfort Keepers provides community education, including eldercare presentations, aging parent fairs and public speaking engagements.
"We are a resource to the community even when people are not currently using our services," he said."We regularly consult with families who are seeing a broad range of information about how they can best help their senior loved ones remain in their community, the place they call home."
Kendall said Comfort Keepers continues to focus on "smart" growth and retention of clients.
"While growth in volume is an important focus and measurement, we believe that the quality of our employees and the experience that we deliver is even more important," he said. Kendall noted that this year, the company added a training suite where trainees receive one-on-one instruction by a registered nurse.
Local Comfort Keepers Wins Award for Operational Excellence
West Lawn, PA, (November 14, 2017) — Local Comfort Keepers franchise owner, Dave Kendall & Jennifer Mish were recently awarded the Operational Excellence award by CK Franchising, Inc., franchisor of Comfort Keepers in-home senior care franchise network, for consistent delivery of exceptional service to clients, employees, and the community. They were recognized at the Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony during the Comfort Keepers Leadership Conference held in Orlando, FL, October 26 through October 28, 2017.
This recognition requires hard work by the franchise owner. Award recipients are selected based on overall client satisfaction for exemplary service and quality of care, which requires compliance with strict quality standards. Their level of local community involvement also comes into play.
This was the 5th year for this prestigious award which recognizes operational excellence in quality of home care solutions and living assistance service delivery. Kendall & Mish, co-owners of Comfort Keepers of Berks County received the award in 2012 & 2013, 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17 from the company's support office in Dayton, Ohio and were selected from over 650 Comfort Keepers franchises nationwide. Criteria for the award include overall client satisfaction for quality service, caregiver satisfaction, and community involvement.
“This is a real honor,” said Kendall. “It’s great to be recognized not only by our clients, but also by our caregivers who regularly provide the type of personal care that is the hallmark of Comfort Keepers, and by Berks County, the local community in which we serve. It just doesn’t get any better than this.”
Comfort Keepers, a growing franchise offering in-home care and services for seniors and other adults needing assistance, allows clients to live comfortably in their own homes and maintain their independence. Their care packages can include companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, grocery shopping, incidental transportation, laundry, recreational activities, and more. All Comfort Keepers caregivers are employees who undergo criminal, driving, and credit background checks that ensure dependability and reliability. Kendall & Mish have operated the Berks County Comfort Keepers franchise for 16 years.
We Won For The 4th Year In A Row - As Voted By Berks County Consumers!
West Lawn, PA September 17, 2017 - Comfort Keepers is committed to providing exceptional in-home care for Berks County Seniors. We focus on hiring, training and retaining compassionate caregivers who provide Personal Care and Homemaker services to seniors who prefer to live in the comfort of their own home. Our caregivers, called Comfort Keepers, become an integral part of our client's lives, make a significant improvement in their quality of life, and follow detailed, individualized care plans designed to effectively support them.
Our mission is to provide our clients with the highest level of quality of life that is achievable. "We shall treat each of our clients with the dignity and respect that they deserve, as though we were caring for a member of our own family."
Comfort Keepers was started after realizing a need for in-home senior care that truly went beyond the basics. Understanding that seniors deserve love, dignity and respect while receiving care has fueled our mission to deliver quality throughout every aspect of the care we deliver.
The key to our success has been to continually seek feedback from both clients and caregivers, and then incorporate their ideas into our daily operations. The ownership and leadership team believe in volunteerism with Berks Count's senior related organizations; and we deliver education throughout Berks County to help families understand and access appropriate senior care for their loved ones.
We have proudly served Berks County seniors since 2001. "We change the lives of our senior clients and their families, by exceeding their expectations for in-home senior care.
When you discover that you or a loved one needs assistance to live safely, happily and independently at home, Comfort Keepers is ready to help. Just call us anytime, and our compassionate staff will quickly come to your assistance with a plan to support your senior loved-one.
Planning for Long-Term Senior Care Article in the Reading Eagle
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
By Andy Andrews - Reading Eagle
Morgantown, PA - Planning for long-term senior care is not a question of if, but when, said Wendy Kerschner, territory manager for West Lawn-based Comfort Keepers.
It's a question of how to assist aging parents and looking at important issues, such as long-term health care, housing and planning for the eventualities of aging.
Kerschner spoke recently about "making hard conversations with aging loved ones easier," at a meeting of the Morgantown Area Business Association at the Windmill Restaurant, Caernarvon Township.
Kerschner said that many of those in their 90s did not have parents who lived to that age. In your parents' mindset, "you will always be the child," she said. So it is important to allow the conversation about long-term care to "naturally happen," Kerschner said.
"You have to plant the seed," she said. "They want choices, but they don't want to lose control."
Dr. Gordon Donaldson of the Morgantown Family Practice, Caernarvon Township, said that so many times, the conversation does not occur between the child and the parent.
"They are not going to be the ones to come to you to ask you to join them on the doctor appointment," he said. "So you need to focus on them and their health."
Most doctors, he said, do not have the time or resources to revisit, with a phone call, those eight to 10 minutes spent at the doctor's office.
Choosing a facility means involving parents in choices, including physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually, said Tammy Jacobs, Tel Hai Retirement Community director of adult day services. To visit a facility, choose a time between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and spend an hour talking with admissions staff and personnel.
Michele Mayfield, attorney with Hartman, Valeriano, Magovern & Lutz, Wyomissing, said that before creating a will, take the "baby steps" necessary and start with a conversation. It could be difficult.
"My in-laws were open to it; my parents were not," she said.
John W. Lauer, Thrivent Financial associate, Caernarvon Township, said having a serious conversation as soon as possible with parents is the best thing.
"Don't wait until it is too late to ask questions," he said.
Lynne Bickta, director of independent living, Zerbe Retirement Community, Caernarvon Township, said always be respectful of your parents.
"They give up so much when they leave their home," she said.
Celebrating Women In Business After 15 Proud Years Of Services
West Lawn, PA June 20, 2017 - Comfort Keepers of West Lawn, PA founders Beverly and Russ Hinnershitz have been helping seniors in and around the community of West Lawn for over 15 years. Each year that they've been in business, they have done their best to improve upon the services provided. Whether it be collaborating with other health care agencies, or getting input from the community, Comfort Keeper's mission to help clients achieve the highest quality of life possible at home is one that will never be finished, but only perfected.
Jennifer Mish, co-owner and CEO, is a team member that has proven her commitment to the community and the seniors residing in it. Through her efforts to better home care services, Jennifer brought together a team of compassionate experts with local knowledge in order to help manage and care for the seniors of West Lawn, PA. Ensuring that her team is providing the highest quality of care has led Comfort Keepers to be recognized as the Best Home Care Provider for over 4 years in a row!
For her dedication to seniors and their family members, Comfort Keepers of West Lawn, PA is proud to recognized Jennifer Mish as a Woman of Business. Her accomplishments have furthered the success of not only herself, but the team members and clients she cares for dearly. Jennifer is a true role model for other women looking to join the business world.
Home Care Solutions Article in the Reading Eagle
Sunday, August 10, 2014
By Lisa Scheid — Reading Eagle
Do you feel as if caregiving is just too much, too overwhelming? It's so overwhelming that you don't go out anymore and dread what should be fun events like weddings or family gatherings.
As more caregivers find themselves in this situation, more people are turning to respite care. Often respite care is relegated to a brief nursing home stay but there are other options such as home respite care.
Some people think of respite care as a relief valve in times of crisis or an extra pair of hands to help with an impaired loved one at the wedding or event you are hosting.
But experts say don't wait until you are at a breaking point or for just an important event.
"Oftentimes caregivers hit a wall before they realize they need to do something," said Wendy Kerschner, territory manager of Comfort Keepers in Spring Township. "We need to have some of these conversations prior to a crisis."
For Kay Emmerson, of Exeter Township, the relationship with an aide from Comfort Keepers has made a difference. They developed a relationship with Heather Yerger, a certified nursing assistant who came to help her mother.
"She's wonderful," Emmerson said.
Emmerson said they first considered respite care to give her mother a break when her father was dying from cancer but he passed away before it was set up. When her mother, Kathryn Mast, moved in with her, Emmerson turned to Comfort Keepers to provide support when she's not home.
"Scheduling regular breaks from caregiving are important", said Dave Kendall, CEO of Comfort Keepers. You need to recharge, Kendall said. Remember how on an airplane they will tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before putting one on your child? Kerschner said the same idea applies to caregivers: If you aren't taking care of yourself, how can you care well for your loved one?
What do caregivers do for their breaks? It could be anything from going grocery shopping alone to doing something for themselves such as taking an exercise class or just taking a walk or meeting friends.
When you care for someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, your personal routines and even your needs get low priority, Kendall said. So, anything that restores some of what you've given up is a good choice for respite time.
"People literally get excited at the thought of it," Kerschner said. "It is often more affordable than people allow themselves to assume it is."
And in Berks County we save for a rainy day, Kerschner pointed out. Needing a respite may be your rainy day.
Caregivers worry about having an unfamiliar person come in. Having regular visits can help develop a level of trust and comfort with an aide, Kendall said. That relationship starts before the first respite visit.
"We do a very comprehensive assessment," Kerschner said.
Comfort Keepers and similar home care solutions agencies look at routines and personal preferences as well as a loved one's needs. That assessment also can uncover unmet needs, Kerschner said. You may learn new ways to care for your loved one or hear about resources as well.
A break can be as little as three hours once a week to three hours a day or an overnight so a caregiver can get a good night's sleep.
"We can do anything that's personal care," Kerschner said.
Among those things are: help with bathing, light housekeeping, be a companion and keep your loved one safe or prepare meals.
Kendall said Comfort Keepers coined the phrase interactive caregiving to describe their approach to in home care and living assistance.
"We include our clients in all the things we do with them rather than for them," Kendall said. "They still want to participate in their environment. It gives them a sense of purpose, a reason to get up in the morning."
Comfort Keepers proudly provides in home care services to seniors in communities throughout Berks County, Pennsylvania:
Bechtelsville, Bernville, Birdsboro, Blandon, Bowers, Boyertown, Douglasville, Exeter, Fleetwood, Geigertown, Hamburg, Kutztown, Laureldale, Leesport, Limekiln, Lyon Station, Maxatawny, Mertztown, Mohnton, Mohrsville, Morgantown, New Berlinville, Oley, Pine Forge, Reading, Reifton, Robesonia, Shillington, Sinking Spring, St. Peters, Temple, Topton, Virginville, Wernersville, West Lawn, West Reading, Womelsdorf, Wyomissing