PTSD Awareness and Community Support

Grief over loss affects each of us in different ways. When it’s due to the death of a loved one, it may feel traumatic, disrupting our everyday life – from relationships to work and school.

When our response includes severe anxiety, that’s part of how post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined. While most often associated with veterans, PTSD affects others, too.

With National PTSD Awareness Day observed on June 27, it’s a good time to learn more about Capital Caring resources and how we help people of all ages in our community cope with loss, trauma and death.

As a community-based non-profit, we offer support to more than the individuals and families who receive our hospice care. If you live in one of Capital Caring’s neighborhoods and need grief support, we’re here to help. You don’t need to be one of our hospice patients and our services are free of charge.

Serving our community is part of our mission. Our commitment and how we share our expertise are illustrated by the programs Capital Caring has developed especially for children and teens. We help individuals, groups and even entire schools.

How We Help the Kids in our Community

Children experience the death of a close loved one in different ways than adults. It’s an emotional journey and feelings of loss and grief may be hard to communicate and share. Depression and anxiety, withdrawal, social difficulties, and a decline in academic performance are all common reactions. Young people may also have problems adjusting to school after a loss.

The sheer number of children affected by death underscores why help is needed:

  • Most children will experience the death of a family member or friend by the time they complete high school
  • 5% will lose a parent by the time they are 16
  • Nearly 40% will experience the death of a peer
  • 20% will witness a death

In the areas we serve, as many as 4,000 children will need significant grief support. For local school personnel, this means they are highly likely to encounter a grieving student almost every day.

Unfortunately, despite a well-documented need, there are few programs in our community offering bereavement support groups and active, creative outlets to help children and teens deal with their grief. The cost of individual and family counseling – even with insurance coverage – makes it an unaffordable option for many.

That’s why we’ve established a school-based-program – Caring Circles. The six-week grief support group is designed to help children process their grief. When trauma is part of their experience, we make a referral to outside counselors.

The school setting is effective – it’s familiar, children spend most of their time in school, and problems due to loss can be identified and helped by school counselors. A school-based program also allows a large number of students to receive supportive services and be monitored over time.

In our program, students struggling with the death of a close loved one learn to share their emotions. Music, art, storytelling and movement, encourage children in a positive, active environment. Here, they learn to process their grief along with peers who have also experienced loss, in the familiarity of their own school.

Caring Circles is led by our counselors working alongside school counselors, at no cost to families or the schools.

Our support for children and families doesn’t, however, end with our six-week program: we offer other grief support programs and in some cases, our bereavement counselor may meet with the student and family to provide additional needed support.

Educational information is also sent home to parents including how to identify symptoms of grief and tips on how parents can help their children through the process.

Direct to School Assistance

Capital Caring directly supports school administrators, teachers and crisis team members, too. We offer guidelines on how to respond to both student and staff needs when a personal loss affects one person, a few, or an entire school.

Our assistance to schools includes:

  • Basic information on children’s bereavement
  • How to talk to a child and family dealing with loss
  • How a school can play a role in healing
  • The protocol suggested for letters to a school community dealing with a death

We know we make a difference: many school counselors call, telling us they feel ill-equipped to handle the issues that arise from loss experienced by their students.

In 2018 alone, we served 220 children in 14 schools.

Capital Caring also offers Point of Hope Camp for kids who have experienced loss. Held annually in several of our Capital Caring neighborhoods, this half-day camp engages kids and their peers in fun activities. With expert staff -- social workers, counselors and chaplains -- they work through the grief process by building trust, self-esteem and skills to cope with their recent loss.

A Variety of Support to Help with Loss

We know well from our decades of experience that everyone grieves in their own unique way, so we’ve developed a variety of support programs to help those dealing with loss. All services are available to our community members at no charge.

Capital Caring resources, individual and family counseling, support groups and local workshops are designed for all ages and interests. There are group walks in nature, music and dance sessions, scrapbooking to preserve memories, a return-to-work workshop and a book group for widows.

Our hope is that among all the services and programs we’ve developed, there’s something that will help you and your loved ones on your emotional journey as you move from grief to positive memories.

 

To learn more about specific support groups and workshops, click here.

 

 


Caring for Alzheimer's Patients

CARING FOR ALZHEIMER’S PATIENTS What You Need to Know

Despite the high awareness of Alzheimer’s these days, there’s still a lot of confusion about the condition. Briefly, Alzheimer’s is the most common and recognized form of dementia, affecting approximately 5.8 million Americans today.  Alzheimer’s is not really a disease, but a range of symptoms caused by damage to the brain cells. As such, it may spring from other diseases of the brain such as Parkinson’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease. Or, it may arise in someone who has had multiple strokes or other advanced illnesses such as heart disease or COPD.

Just as there is no single cause for Alzheimer’s, there is also no single path for how its symptoms begin and progress—everyone is different. For some people, the journey to late stage dementia may take years, while others decline quickly. A person with dementia may also appear to get better at times, only to deteriorate again.

What is known, however, is that Alzheimer’s or dementia is a primary cause for admission to hospice, accounting for 18 percent of patients—nearly one in five, according to the latest data from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Common Signs of Alzheimer’s

Memory loss is the most common symptom of Alzheimer’s and initially, may simply look like aging—forgetting what you’re doing, misplacing the house keys, and more. But when problems with memory, thinking and behavior begin to disrupt life’s daily activities, it’s time to consult a doctor.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, if at least two of the following mental functions are significantly impaired, the issue can be considered dementia:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language
  • Ability to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception

However, Alzheimer’s can quickly progress to a point where all involved would likely benefit from extra help.  You know it’s time to consult with a hospice professional when your family member with Alzheimer’s:

  • Can say only a few words
  • Can no longer walk and may be bed-bound
  • Is totally dependent on others for eating, dressing and grooming
  • Shows signs of severe anxiety

Early detection is key to giving you and your loved one the utmost benefit from treatment and the time to define what “quality of life” looks like moving forward. It also provides the opportunity to be proactive. All too often, dementia care is reduced to frequent trips to the Emergency Room and hospitalization when a problem becomes acute.

Capital Caring can provide more condition specific information and may also perform an evaluation at the request of you or your doctor. We can help determine if hospice care for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia is the right care option and if so, the right time to enter hospice care.

Caring for the Alzheimer’s Patient

There’s no doubt caring for a loved one in their last stage of life is stressful; yet caring for someone with Alzheimer’s may add to the challenge. Your loved one may have changed into someone different from the person you have always known. He or she may experience severe agitation, stress, anxiety and emotional instability that is new to both of you and hard to deal with.

That’s where hospice can really make a difference. Research shows that Alzheimer’s patients with hospice care have better pain control, are less likely to die in a hospital, and their families have greater satisfaction with end-of-life care.

That’s because hospice provides comfort, warmth, kindness, and the peaceful environment dementia patients need. While certain aspects of one’s personality are lost to Alzheimer’s, emotions remain with the affected patient long afterwards. Expert hospice care responds to those emotions, and the dementia patient in turn, responds to the specialized care and attention.

In short, we help nurture what remains.

How Capital Caring Can Help You

The staff at Capital Caring are knowledgeable about common problems and symptoms that often occur in patients with advanced Alzheimer's and dementia. This expertise serves both the person affected and family/caregivers. We can help families understand how to best manage care, what to expect in the last stages of Alzheimer's, and also provide support through the last phase of life.

For example, Capital Caring clinicians and aides know how to “read” patients who often can no longer verbally express themselves. We can identify visible signs of pain and discomfort and teach family members and caregivers how to recognize these expressions in order to make the patient more comfortable.

Our goal is to create a supportive and comforting care plan that meets the comprehensive needs of you and your loved one as you deal with Alzheimer’s and dementia. We offer meaningful support for your unique situation, addressing medical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs including grief counseling.

Our team of hospice experts will work with you and the other medical providers you already have to provide daily assistance and care that emphasizes pain control and quality of life—as you and your loved one have defined it—in any setting your family member calls home.

Ultimately, hospice can help both you and your loved one as everyone deals with the changes that Alzheimer’s, dementia and the last phase of life bring about. Hospice is about life, and the team works to make each day as good as possible…for every patient and family in our care.


Capital Caring Joins the Discussion at the CTAC National Policy Forum

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Capital Caring Joins the Discussion at the CTAC National Policy Forum

Capital Caring was honored to sponsor C-TAC’s Inaugural National Policy Forum to Improve Advanced Illness Care. Experts shared their insight and discussed legislative and regulatory efforts to improve care and drive innovation.
Thanks to our very own Dr. Eric DeJonge, pictured below, for leading the discussion about home-based primary care.

Capital Caring President and CEO Tom Koutsoumpas is shown above delivering the opening address at the forum.

Read more about this event here.


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1-year-old Graduates from Hospice Care

Summer is the season for high school and college commencement ceremonies, and Kenya and her son Bryson are celebrating a unique graduation. One-year-old Bryson has graduated from hospice care.

Bryson had been a patient in the Capital Caring pediatric hospice and palliative program in Washington, D.C., since he was born.  He experienced some trauma during birth that led to brain damage and he has spent much of his young life in the hospital.

“It was hard to explain to my friends that I have a baby but he’s was not with me; he was usually in the hospital,”  Kenya remembered as she bobbled Bryson from hip to hip.

“They told me he wouldn’t make it when we took him off the machines. I held him one last time and left the hospital. They called me a day later and told me he was still breathing on his own and to come back and hold him."

Surrounding Families with Care and Support
With specialized post-natal care, Capital Caring is helping families sort through the  choices of services and treatments and providing assistance to families as they cope with the complex issues resulting from a serious illness or condition.

Throughout Bryson's time in hospice care, our expert team was with him and his mother every step of the way - whether was giving him medication or helping Kenya talk through her situation.

“They let me talk it out and say what I needed to say. I knew that they were here for us day or night,” Kenya said.

During the holidays in 2018, Bryson’s condition started to improve. His hospitalizations decreased and his strength increased as he began developing into a strong baby boy. Right around his first birthday, Baby Bryson was discharged from Capital Caring hospice as his condition no longer met terms for him to receive hospice care.

While the Capital Caring team misses the frequent interactions with him, we are thrilled that he continues to thrive and defy all the medical predictions of his condition.

Kenya knows Capital Caring will still be here to support them both if things change, but our hope is that Baby Bryson continues to thrive and live a long, healthy life.

Baby Bryson is shown below with his mom on his first birthday.


Local Nonagenarian Sets an Example for Young and Old Alike

May is Older Americans Month, an observance that provides an opportunity for all of us to acknowledge the contributions of older individuals. 

Every Wednesday at 7 a.m., Bernice Dinion leaves her home in the southernmost region of Fairfax County and joins throngs of other drivers on I-95. Yet unlike most of her fellow travelers, Bernice’s 40-mile round trip is a labor of love, not a professional obligation.

Bernice, who just turned 90 in January, is a volunteer at Capital Caring, the region’s leading nonprofit provider of hospice and palliative care and grief counseling services. And ever since she retired in 1994, she’s been contributing her time and talents to help nurses and other staff provide compassionate care for patients with advanced illness and their family members.

Altogether, she has spent 24 years as an extra set of hands at the hospice, which relies upon a cadre of volunteers to help fulfill its mission. Capital Caring estimates Bernice has logged more than 5,300 hours doing everything from changing bed linens to sitting and talking with patients, from filling water pitchers to consoling loved ones.

The need for such care is great, as underscored by the following facts:

  • An estimated 43.5 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the prior 12 months.
  • One in eight full-time workers in the U.S. are caregivers.
  • The average age of the caregiver is 49 years old and the majority are female (60%).

Looking back on her years of experience in caring for others, Bernice sums it up best. “To me, the end of life is just as important as the beginning. You need someone to be around, to be with you. I just can’t imagine what life was like before hospice care.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Capital Caring, visit: https://www.capitalcaring.org/get-involved/become-a-volunteer/


A Memorial Day Reflection

From the heart

What Memorial Day Truly Means 

As we observe Military Appreciation Week and the upcoming Memorial Day Holiday, Lt. Col. David Benhoff, USMC (ret.) and Director, Capital Caring's Veterans Affairs Program shares his personal Memorial Day reflection.

As I sit here pondering (struggling, really) what exactly to write, it occurred to me to just speak from the heart.  I’m not a scholar, or an historian, and certainly do not want this to read in such a way. Rather, I want this to be truly heartfelt.  I think that is the best way to memorialize not only our fallen, but all veterans—including and especially those whom we have the honor to serve.

While Memorial Day began as far back as the Civil War, it has evolved over time to encompass much more.  Memorial Day honors the fallen, of course, and rightly so.  They paid the ultimate sacrifice, and remembrance is really all we can offer them now as well as looking out for their families. Many of the citations for bravery that accompany the Medal of Honor, Silver Star, and Bronze Star, make it clear they gave their lives, or came very close to doing so, looking after the men and women to their left and right.  Not for some national policy originating from thousands of miles away, and certainly not for personal glory.  They did it solely for their comrades. They were willing to give the full measure simply out of love for their fellow shipmates and soldiers. From the heart.

As we honor the fallen, we are also looking out for their comrades-in-arms who have landed, not on a beach, but in our care. Capital Caring is proud to serve the many veterans and their families within our community covering Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia.

So, let us resolve to remember the fallen by honoring their brothers and sisters who came back—and are now facing their Last Deployment.  All veterans, even those who never deployed to combat, risked it all.  By swearing the oath, pulling on their boots, and slinging that rifle over their shoulder they put their life on the line for their country with their willingness to run toward the sound of the guns, not away.

And, let us resolve to do this each and every day—not just this one day a year.  The fallen have no more days to give.  Let us stand in the gap left when they departed us, and look out for their brothers and sisters as best we can.  Until the bugler plays the sweet and heart-wrenching notes of taps, and the flag is folded.

Thanks for your service!

Learn more about Capital Caring’s Veteran’s Impact Program here.


Expansion Prompts Relocation of Headquarters

May 1, 2019 - Falls Church, VA:  Capital Caring, one of the largest non-profit providers of advanced illness care in the nation, will relocate its headquarters to 3180 Fairview Park Drive, known as 80 at Fairview, later this year in the wake of major expansion and the addition of new services.

“I’m excited to share that we will be bringing all of our headquarters operations under one roof in a state-of-the-art facility,” said interim President and CEO Tom Koutsoumpas at the signing of a 15-year lease. “Increasing efficiency is a goal of all healthcare organizations and consolidating our operations is an advantage.”

80 at Fairview recently underwent a transformational capital improvement campaign led by its new owners, an affiliate of Marcus Partners.  The property features a new eatery with outdoor seating, high-quality fitness club and yoga studio, modern renovated lobby, stadium-style auditorium, and a dynamic outdoor environment with communal gathering spaces.

“We are pleased to begin our long-term partnership with Capital Caring,” said Andrew Dolinsky, Principal and Regional Director of Marcus Partners’ Metro Washington D.C. office.  “80 at Fairview is a unique work environment that both fosters employee well-being and simultaneously offers the cutting-edge technology and amenities you would find in an urban office tower. We are thrilled to be part of the next stage of growth for this tremendous organization.”

The new headquarters will contain over 50,000 square feet of space, a significant expansion from Capital Caring’s current 31,000 square foot headquarters, located at 2900 Telestar Court. Adjacent to the Mosaic District, 2900 Telestar Court will be sold in the future.

“Capital Caring is dedicated to supporting the needs of our region’s growing population of seniors and those with advanced illness. We have already experienced significant growth this year and with the launch of several new initiatives this Fall, we needed more space,” said Koutsoumpas.

Additional satellite offices providing care and support to patients and families are located throughout the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County in Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Capital Caring’s mission is to provide the highest quality advanced illness care with dignity, respect and compassion. Since our founding in 1977, we have grown into one of the largest and most experienced nonprofit providers of hospice care, palliative care and bereavement counseling services in the nation. In 2018 alone, we served over 7,000 hospice patients and provided more than $3 million in charity care to those who had nowhere else to turn.

Capital Caring serves families and patients throughout Northern Virginia, as far south as Fredericksburg and Richmond, as well as Prince George’s County, Maryland, and DC.
www.capitalcaring.org

About Marcus Partners

Marcus Partners is a real estate investment firm based in Boston, Massachusetts with additional offices in Metro New York and Metro Washington D.C. The firm is primarily engaged in the acquisition, repositioning, and development of office, medical office, biomedical lab, industrial, residential, and mixed-use properties. Marcus Partners has built its reputation as a real estate investment firm grounded by a deep belief in value investing and is experienced in the complexities of real estate and capital markets. It currently owns and / or manages a diversified portfolio that includes over 7 million square feet along the East Coast. For more information please visit www.marcuspartners.com

Media Contact:   Nancy Cook, VP, Marketing & Communications

(703) 531-6241


Families and Friends Put the "Care" in Caregiving

Celebrating Caregivers during Older Americans Month

Since 1963—more than 50 years ago!—Americans have recognized May as Older Americans Month. The observance provides an opportunity for all of us to acknowledge the contributions of older individuals – past and present. In fact, there are events, ceremonies and fairs in honor of our older citizens all across the country. (Closer to home, Capital Caring is doing our part with an expo designed to celebrate older Americans and their caretakers, as you’ll see below.)

The designation and recognition is especially important as America continues to age. No matter where we are on the age spectrum, our role with our families – whether we are related or connected through years of friendship – may eventually involve more responsibilities and different relationships. If a loved one faces a serious chronic condition or advanced illness, the title of “caregiver” may be added to that of family member or friend.

A caregiver may be a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor--anyone who assists another, usually at home. Functions are often broad, ranging from being a companion to a decision-maker or health care advocate to financial manager, and much more.

The nature of the caregiver’s role is captured by this year’s theme for Older Americans Month: Connect, Create, Contribute -- establishing or deepening connection, creating a supportive, caring environment and contributing to the quality of life, no matter at what stage.

A few key facts reveal how critical all caregivers are to individuals, families and the community:

  • An estimated 44 million people serve as unpaid caregivers in the United States each year.
  • Sixty-six percent of caregivers are female: the average caregiver is a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and provides 20 hours per week of unpaid care to her mother.
  • Sixty-five percent of seniors with advanced care needs rely exclusively on family and friends for assistance. Another 30% supplement family care with paid assistance.
  • The estimated annual value of total unpaid assistance is estimated to be at least $306 billion. That’s nearly double the combined cost of home healthcare and nursing home care.

At Capital Caring, we know well the value of every caregiver. In fact, sometimes that person is the spouse or partner who is also a senior. That’s why our daily support of patients extends to families and caregivers as part of our mission to offer comfort and enhance quality of life.

Our support services are comprehensive and include practical help such as bringing everything needed to the home — a hospital bed, oxygen, medications and more.

We also understand that dealing with the advanced illness of a loved one and serving as a caregiver can be physically and emotionally challenging and stressful. We offer coaching to make sure every caregiver is comfortable in their role. Capital Caring also offers counseling, pastoral counseling and temporary respite care when the caregiver needs a break..

Once our care for advanced illness begins, a significant part of the care burden can be lifted or shared. Our care team of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, counselors and volunteers provide physical, emotional and spiritual support allowing you to focus on your loved one.

No matter who the Older American is in your life – including you! – the month of May is a time to celebrate and appreciate their contributions. And, if you’re a caregiver, please make sure to acknowledge your own role for what a difference you make.

Celebrating Local Caregivers

On May 11, Capital Caring will celebrate local family caregivers with a free day filled with appreciation, information and advice. Free respite care is available upon request.

Hosted in partnership with AARP and Virginia Hospital Center, the Expo will feature speakers on such topics as Alzheimer’s and dementia, caring for someone with chronic pain, navigating the health care system, and advance care planning.

Expo participants include more than 35 local experts in home care, elder law, financial planning, and other caregiver services. Free massages, health screenings and refreshments will also be available. To learn more and/or register, click here.

Among the attendees we expect to see at our Caregiving Expo are volunteers who help us deliver the best care and support possible. Included in the group of those who volunteer with Capital Caring -- making a commitment to connect, create and contribute -- are individuals who are also “Older Americans.”


Dr. Eric De Jonge to lead new Geriatrics Service and Home-Based Primary Care Program

We are excited to share that Eric De Jonge, M.D., one of the nation’s most renowned physicians specializing in geriatrics, will lead our new Geriatrics service.  As our Chief of Geriatrics, he will help us build an array of health services for elders with advanced illness, including Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC), Social Services, and other needed senior health services.  Dr. De Jonge will begin his new role with Capital Caring on July 1, 2019.

Capital Caring Geriatrics will help fill a vast unmet need for thousands of people in the Mid-Atlantic region by providing primary care and social services to seniors and families dealing with advanced illness. This will include elders who are not yet eligible for hospice care; however,  need intensive primary care and social services for serious chronic illness to help them age in place.

Dr. De Jonge currently serves as Executive Director of the MedStar House Call Program and Director of Geriatrics at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.  He also serves as President of the American Academy of Home Care Medicine (AAHCM) and is Co-Chair of the AAHCM Public Policy Committee.

In 2003, he was named National House Call Physician of the Year by the AAHCM.  In 2007, Dr. De Jonge helped develop and advocate for a Medicare reform law called Independence at Home (IAH), to advance the field of home care medicine and reduce Medicare costs. The IAH demonstration began in 2012 and Dr. De Jonge has directed a successful IAH site at MedStar Health for seven years.

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Dr. De Jonge graduated with honors from Stanford University and from the Yale School of Medicine.  He trained in primary care internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Bayview and completed fellowships in health policy at Georgetown and Geriatrics at Johns Hopkins.  He is on the teaching faculty at Georgetown School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Medicine.