Butterfly Effects Offers Nation of Family Caregivers Alternatives to Outdated Elder Care

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Looking to help educate families on new approaches to elder care, Butterfly Effects is offering a free Family Caregiver Handbook. Containing more than 90 pages of information, references, resources, and forms, the book provides answers and encouragement for the more than 50 million Americans currently caring for an elderly family member. The book matches the agency’s effort to promote a paradigm shift in the way that elder care is provided. Citing high and rising incidences of improper medication use, elder abuse, behavior issues, depression, and suicide along with caregiver stress, the handbook explains why the medical model currently employed in elder care is outdated, ineffective, and even dangerous, It offers alternatives designed to keep elders connected and involved with their families and their communities, while making the work of family caregivers more effective and less stressful.

Challenging the current state of elder care, Butterfly Effects has launched a campaign to educate family and institutional caregivers on what can be done to improve the coordination and delivery of services for the elderly.

To this end, the nationwide agency has just released a new Family Caregiver Handbook that is free for download.
(to receive the PDF, visit http://butterflyeffects.com/company/family-caregiver-info)

Containing more than 90 pages of information, references, resources, and forms, the handbook, much like the agency’s progressive services, splits ranks with more common approaches to elder care by pushing for:

  • Behavior solutions for behavior problems
  • Mental health services to combat widespread elder depression and suicide
  • More cautious and better informed use of pharmaceutical interventions
  • Improved caregiver support to limit caregiver stress and eradicate the growing epidemic of elder abuse
  • Establishment and use of electronic records to facilitate quality care and eliminate medical error

Founded in 2004, Butterfly Effects has realized dramatic nationwide growth, and now includes a network of more than 350 professional providers representing a wide range of care, education, and rehabilitative services. The agency delivers comprehensive family-centric services to individuals of all ages challenged by pervasive mental and physical challenges, including autism, developmental and educational disabilities, and Alzheimer’s.

Especially known for helping change the landscape regarding services for individuals with autism, Butterfly Effects started with a small group of dedicated providers in Southern Florida. It employs what most government agencies, independent researchers, and insurers consider the only effective treatment for autism, behavior interventions based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) principles. Delivered one-on-one, this intensive therapy helps children develop needed skills while extinguishing problematic behaviors.

The agency website identifies research findings that demonstrate that ABA principles can be applied with equal effectiveness to manage problems with adult behavior such as aggressiveness, elopement, lack of socialization, and poor hygiene.

“Right now, our nation’s approach to elder care is about 30 years behind our approach to meeting the needs of children with disabilities,” says Butterfly Effects founder, Charlotte Fudge. “While the Department of Education mandates that we address behavior problems in children using behavioral solutions, that is not happening with elder care. Others continue to employ a medical model in adult care, even though most of the problems that lead to institutionalization are behavioral rather than medical. The only care-professionals that the elderly see are medical physicians who are far more apt to sedate a behavior than develop a behavior intervention treatment plan that extinguishes the behavior or converts it into a more productive one.”

Nation of Caregivers
Anywhere from 50 to 65 million Americans are now providing primary care and support for adult members of their families. Paraphrasing Rosalynn Carter's famous assessment, the Handbook notes that, “There are four kinds of people in America: those who have, will, or currently serve as caregivers . . . and those in need of care.”

The Handbook identifies medication concerns, elder abuse, difficult behavior, social isolation, and caregiver stress as primary problems needing redress.

“The first thing we have to do is open families to what’s possible,“ says Mrs. Fudge, a registered nurse as well as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. “They need to understand that behavior interventions can make a huge difference and that every problem cannot be written away with a prescription pad.”

According to the handbook, the alarmingly high rates of senior depression and suicide, and the growing incidence of elder abuse, coupled with the incredibly high rate of stress and stress-related illness suffered by family caregivers is indication of an approach that is totally outdated.

The handbook identifies a number of specific solutions that are not currently happening, including:

  • Addressing of self-neglect (more than two million cases yearly) with behavioral programs
  • Getting the right mental health help (More than 90 percent of elders with depression never see a mental health professional)
  • Improved selection and monitoring of medications (Physicians are still prescribing antidepressants considered unsafe for seniors)
  • Training both professional and family caregivers on how to understand and improve behavioral problems

“We know so much more than we did a generation ago,” says Mrs. Fudge, “yet we are not employing this information to make life for our growing senior population more connected and productive. The problems with elder care are only going to get worse as the baby boomer generation enters its golden years.

“We can and should provide better care and support for families living up to the responsibility of taking care of their own. We tend to think that seniors are taken care of through Medicare funding. The truth is that family caregivers provide more than 80 percent of all the physical and financial resources used to support seniors.”

Butterfly Effects offers a numbers services for family caregivers, including:

  • Companion care and respite care
  • Mental health counseling
  • In home or virtual consultation and supervision
  • Behavioral interventions
  • Caregiver training
  • Nursing home client status review

The agency also works with nursing homes and other care facilities to help them expand their approach and quality of care. This includes:

  • Behavior assessment and intervention training
  • Mental Health Screening and psychotherapy
  • Individual client behavioral consult
  • Staff supervision and program oversight

To sign up to receive the Family Caregiver Handbook, copy the following address to your browser: http://butterflyeffects.com/company/family-caregiver-info

According to the agency, this is just a first edition of the handbook. Updates and new materials will be added. Those who register to receive the PDF, will also be mailed updates as they occur.

Family caregivers or professional organizations interested in services, should call 888-880-9270 or visit our elder services menu at http://butterflyeffects.com/company/elder-and-adult-care-services

For accurate up-to-date information, research findings, and references on senior care and family caregiver issues, visit the Butterfly Effects website at http://butterflyeffects.com

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Alex Levin
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