When Do You Know Loved Ones Need Care?

By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects*

Over the years I have talked to many family members who come home for the holidays and become concerned because they have noticed “changes” in their loved one or their circumstances.

They are not always sure if home care services are needed or if their concern is unfounded. The following indicators can be used as a guide to help determine if your loved one could benefit from home care services.

Medical Condition

  • New diagnosis
  • New medications or treatments ordered by a physician
  • Terminal illness
  • Recently discharged from a hospital or nursing facility
  • Physician has restricted activity during a period of recuperation—this could be a few days or several weeks
  • Frequent falls or fear of falling
  • Confusion, forgetfulness, depression or other changes in mental status
  • No longer able to/should not drive or driving is very limited
  • Frequent trips to the doctor, urgent care or ER
  • Uses an assistive device (cane, walker, wheelchair or stair climber) to help with balance or walking
  • Is required to take several daily medications

Caregiver Relief

  • The person being cared for should not be left alone and may require 24-hour supervision
  • Spouse/family members work
  • Caregiver appears to be stressed and overwhelmed
  • Spouse/family members in poor health
  • The person being cared for needs more assistance than the caregiver is able or willing to provide

Strong Desire to Remain at Home But is Unsure of How to Manage Because…

  • There is limited support from family or others
  • Spouse is in poor health
  • They worry about emergency situations
  • Family does not want loved one to be alone
  • They need assistance with housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation, shopping, bathing, hair care, medication reminders, transportation, or other essential daily tasks

If your loved one has one or more of the indicators listed above, call Oxford HealthCare and ask to speak with a Care Coordinator.

A qualified home care professional will:

  • Identify needs and available services
  • Evaluate funding sources and community services
  • Coordinate services upon request 

*Pam Gennings has a Bachelor’s of Arts and has worked in the field of Geriatric Social Work and Care Coordination for more than 30 years. She started working for Oxford HealthCare in 1993. During the course of her career she has helped thousands of people find resources to remain in their homes as well as provided guidance to families that were facing difficulties with their aging loved ones.

Tips to Manage Holiday Stress

Holiday Stress

By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects*

The holidays can be demanding, overwhelming and for some, down right depressing. Bombarded with expectations and so many things to do, it is easy to fall victim to holiday stress.

If you let the stress of the holidays get to you, it is hard to stop and regroup. The key is to take steps to prevent stress or depression from occurring in the first place. Here are a few tips that just might help you get through the holidays.

  1. Be realistic: The holidays don’t have to be perfect!
  2. Set aside differences: Try and accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. As my dear mother-in-law used to say, “People aren’t always going to do to suit you.” Even if for one day, steer clear of topics that tend to cause upset in the family.
  3. Reach out: If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out social events. Volunteering your time to help others can lift your spirits and perhaps broaden your friendships.
  4. Acknowledge your feelings: If you can’t be with loved ones, or if someone close to you recently died, it is normal to feel sadness and grief. It is OK to take time to cry and express your feelings.
  5. Stick to a budget: Merchants start offering holiday sales earlier and earlier and the urge to overspend can be very tempting. Before you go shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend and stick to that amount.
  6. Plan ahead: Pick days you are going to shop, bake, decorate, gift-wrap, etc. Plan your menus so you can make a shopping list. You don’t want to have to run to the store for those last minutes items you forgot.
  7. Learn to say no: Saying yes to every project or activity can make you feel very resentful, overwhelmed and even take the joy out of the holidays.
  8. Don’t abandon healthy habits: Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Eat healthy snacks, get plenty of sleep and try and incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  9. Take a breather: Make some time for yourself. Find something that can restore your inner calm.
  10. Seek professional help if needed: Sometimes your best efforts still leave you feeling persistently sad or anxious. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor.

It is important to recognize the holiday triggers that cause you stress or depression, and combat them before they lead you to a place where you lose the peace and joy of the holiday season.

Excerpts from Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle


*Pam Gennings has a Bachelor’s of Arts and has worked in the field of Geriatric Social Work and Care Coordination for more than 30 years. She started working for Oxford HealthCare in 1993. During the course of her career she has helped thousands of people find resources to remain in their homes as well as provided guidance to families that were facing difficulties with their aging loved ones.


Coping with Holidays and Loss

By Renee’ Jenkins, MSW – Oxford Bereavement Coordinator


The holiday season is here, and for many people, this is an exciting season. But, if you have lost a loved one or friend, this season can be painful. The ache intensifies and the loneliness can quickly overwhelm you. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of the holiday season, along with helping you move forward.

1. Be Good to Yourself

Sadness zaps your energy; so, don’t push yourself. You might be exhausted after a day of shopping or attempting to “make merry”. Try spending a quiet evening at home, doing something you enjoy. This may be a more nurturing use of your time, so you can stay healthy.

2. Blend New Traditions with the Old

Rituals from past holidays may magnify the sense of loss of your friend or family member. But, sometimes these traditions may feel comforting. Decide what traditions you want to repeat, and consider establishing new holiday traditions. You could take a trip to a country inn, go to church or synagogue, volunteer to help at a convalescent home or soup kitchen. It often helps to get together with a friend, who is also experiencing a loss in their life, for extra comfort and support.

3. Acknowledge your Loss

Attempting to bypass feelings requires enormous energy, and it is not a good way to heal grief. If this is the first holiday season since losing your loved one or friend, it’s important to talk with others about how you are feeling. Don’t be afraid to shed a tear to your family and friends. Acknowledging your true feelings can provide much-needed relief. One way to acknowledge your loss is to do something special. Put together a photo album of your loved one, visit the grave, light a candle for him or her, or write a poem.

4. Listen to your Inner Voice

Your instincts may tell you that today would be good day to have a friend over for coffee, or that you should skip the big New Year’s Eve bash. Pay attention to this inner voice—it’s one of the best friends you have! Intuition may lead you to the perfect person or activity for that moment, while keeping you from situations that are not helpful. This is a time to respond to your own needs, not to other’s expectations of you.

5. Make It Okay to be Alone

While isolating yourself from others is not always a good idea, there are times when solitude is vital to the healing process. During your alone times, explore new ideas on what you enjoy doing. Remember, loneliness is triggered by the idea that “everyone else” is having a good time, and you are alone. Don’t forget, you are in good company with family and friends to support you.

6. Get Help in Making the Holidays Festive for the Kids

Children, especially those younger than 13, grieve in a more intermittent way than adults. That’s why they are still excited to celebrate the holiday season. They will likely want to keep the traditions alive and enjoy the festivities. Ask your family members and friends to help provide that “holiday spirit” for the children in your family. It’s also okay to let children see your sadness. It might help them with their own grief when they see you experiencing the same feelings they are experiencing.

You are welcome to join us for our Grief Support Groups available in Southwest Missouri. You can also contact our Bereavement Department at (417) 883-7500 for more information. If you live outside of Southwest Missouri, and would like more information about a Grief Support Group near you, please visit www.griefshare.org.

Hope for the Holidays

Holidays are intended to be a time of family togetherness, thankfulness and great joy. However, if you are grieving the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be a time of sadness and loneliness. That’s why Oxford HealthCare is offering a free workshop called “Hope for the Holidays” to help bring comfort and support for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one or close friend. In this relaxing workshop, you will gain useful and practical suggestions that can help prepare you for the upcoming holiday season.

Hope for the Holidays” will be held on November 10th from 6 p.m.–8 p.m. at the Library Center at 4653 South Campbell Avenue. If you are interested, or know someone who might want to come, please contact Renee Jenkins at (417) 883-7500 ext. 3235 to reserve a spot.