Monthly Archives: January 2011

There is help!

“Hi Mom, I’m gonna throw a load in the washer and get the dishwasher started. Have you eaten yet? If not I brought over a plate with some left-overs from our dinner last night. I know I am late… sorry. I only have a couple of minutes until I have to pick up the kids from school. I’ll try to stop by later to switch over the laundry otherwise I’ll stop by tomorrow. Did you take your pills? Mom…how come your still in your PJ’s? Is everything OK…are you feeling alright? Are you sure? OK… Gotta run, see you tomorrow or the next day! Luv ya!”

If you can relate to the above…you are not alone. More than 1 in 5 people who live in the same town as their parents are current caregivers for at least one aging parent. Another 1 in 5 has been a senior caregiver in the past.

Recent surveys show that over 97% of people over the age of 50 say they would prefer to remain at home receiving homecare services, rather than move into an institutional setting.

However, self-care is not always possible and parents then turn to their children (most times daughters) for assistance. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to be there consistently. Trying to run two households can be demanding and downright impossible.

When your parents self-care (with your help) has become difficult or your time is limited or over-burdened to do the volume of work that your parent(s) may need you may want to look for some assistance. Doing so can relieve family members of continuous ‘caregiving’ and makes it possible for them to spend quality time with their aging parents, rather than the just being with their parents for ‘caregiving’ functions.

Click here for more information

Teach Your Parents Well

Caring for a senior can sometimes be a difficult and trying job. That is why when I find an enlightening story on another blog or website I like to post it here. Sharing your trials and tribulations with others can be helpful and healing…I saw this story earlier today and thought it might be relevant to our readers.

I was taking my 94-year-old Mom out one day and feeling stressed. My job and the caregiving were getting the best of me. When we arrived at our destination, I got out of the car, went around to get her and as always, reached over to unbuckle her seatbelt. In a moment of sheer frustration, I said “Gee Mom, you’d think a college graduate could learn to unbuckle her seatbelt!” We laughed a bit, but she knew my fuse was shortening by the second. For the FULL Story…

Take Action: Be Pro-Active to Signs of Aging

Once you’ve taken the time to review your parents’ situation be proactive and take action.

Share your concerns with your parents. Talk to your parents openly and honestly. Knowing that you’re concerned about their health may give your parents the motivation they need to see a doctor or make other changes. Consider including other people who care about your parents in the conversation, such as other loved ones, close friends or clergy.

Encourage regular medical checkups. If you’re worried about a parent’s weight loss, depressed mood or other signs and symptoms, encourage your parent to schedule a doctor’s visit. You might offer to schedule the visit yourself or to accompany your parent to the doctor or to find someone else to attend the visit. Ask about follow-up visits as well.

Address safety issues. Point out any potential safety issues to your parents then make a plan to address the problems. For example, perhaps your parents could use ‘assistive’ devices to help them reach items on high shelves or to help them stay steady on their feet. A higher toilet seat or handlebars in the bathroom may help prevent falls.

Contact the doctor for guidance. If your parents dismiss your concerns, you might call the doctor directly. Your insights may help the doctor understand what to look for during upcoming visits. Keep in mind that the doctor may need to verify that he or she has permission to speak with you about your parents’ care. Likewise, you may need to sign a form verifying that you have your parents’ permission to discuss their medical information with the doctor and his or her staff.

Seek help from local agencies. The local Council on Aging can connect you with services. For example, the county in which your parents live may have social workers who can evaluate your parents’ needs and put them in touch with pertinent services, such as home care workers and help with meals and transportation.

Consider home care services. If your senior parents are having trouble taking care of themselves, perhaps you could hire someone to clean the house and run errands. A home health care aide could help your parents with daily activities such as bathing and dressing. You might also consider Meals On Wheels and other community services. If remaining at home is too challenging, you might suggest moving to an assisted living facility.

So, basically…be aware and take steps to make sure your parents are comfortable and well during seasons that can be trying for even those that may feel ‘young-at-heart’!

Aging Signs To Watch For #5

#5:  Is your parents home safe?

Take a look around your parents’ home, keeping an eye out for any red flags. Are the stairways narrow or steep…are stair-rails attached? Are walkways and stairs clear of ‘trip-over-articles…loose rugs? Is there adequate lighting both inside and outside the home? Can your parents SEE the directions on medication containers? Do they need glasses…do they know where their glasses are? Another sign to look for…scorched pots in the kitchen…could indicate your parents are forgetting about food cooking on the stove.

Aging Signs To Watch For #4

#4 . Are your parents losing weight?  Losing weight without trying could be a sign that something’s wrong. For ‘senior’ parents, weight loss could be related to many factors, including: 

Difficulty cooking. Your parents could be having difficulty finding the energy to cook, grasping the tools necessary to cook, or reading labels or directions on food products.

Loss of taste or smell. Some loss of taste and smell is natural with aging, especially after age 60. In other cases, illness or medication contributes to loss of taste or smell. Your parents might not be interested in eating if food doesn’t taste or smell as good as it used to.

Aging Signs To Watch For #3

#3:  Pay attention to your parents’ appearance. Are they taking care of themselves? Are their clothes clean?

Also pay attention to your parents’ home. Are the lights working? Is the heat on? Are the bathrooms clean? Is the yard overgrown? Any big changes in the way your parents do things around the house could provide clues to their health. For example, scorched pots could mean your parents are forgetting about food cooking on the stove.

Neglected housework and/or failure to keep up with daily routines such as bathing, tooth brushing and other basic grooming can be a sign of depression, dementia or other problems.

Aging Signs To Watch For #2

#2:  Pay attention to how your parents are walking. Are they having difficulty getting around? Are they reluctant or unable to walk normal distances (out to the mailbox, down stairs, to the garage or car)? Is knee or hip arthritis making it difficult to get around the house (in and out of a bathtub)? Would either parent benefit from a cane or walker?

Age related changes may cause muscle weakness and joint problems making it difficult to move around as well. If your parents are unsteady on their feet, they may be at risk of falling…a major cause of disability among older adults.  Be on the look-out for mobility issues.

Aging Signs to Watch For #1

Our lives have become increasingly hectic and in many cases fraught with stress so we can easily lose site of our parents and what might be called their ‘aging needs.’ This week I’ll focus on the ‘signs’ you may want to look for … indications that your parents may be in need of some additional support.  As our parents age, we need to make sure they’re taking care of themselves.  

#1: Observe your parents’ moods…Have you noticed a change in their personality?  When was the last time you asked them (and actually HEARD the answer) how they were feeling?

Talk WITH your parents about their activities. Are they connecting with friends? Have they maintained an interest in hobbies or other daily activities? Are they involved in social organizations, church related activities or clubs?  Take the time to talk WITH your parents and LISTEN to what they are saying.  It may be that your parents are just looking for a little company and you being there to LISTEN will be just what the doctor ordered!

If you notice drastic  mood swings or that your parents outlook on life has become grim this could be a sign of depression.  Stay on top of it and speak to their Doctor or a trusted advisor.  Don’t ignore what could be warning signs.

Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s

More than four million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s and as many as twenty million have close relatives or friends with the disease. Revolutionizing the way we perceive and live with Alzheimer’s, Joanne Koenig Coste offers a practical approach to the emotional well-being of both patient and caregivers that emphasizes relating to patients in their own reality. Her accessible and comprehensive method, which she calls habilitation, works to enhance communication between care partners and patients and has proven successful with thousands of people living with dementia. For more on this book…Learning To Speak Alzheimer’s

Caregiver Survival Tips

Did you know that caregivers are at the same risk for burnout as nurses, teachers, and air-traffic controllers?

Did you know that the caregiver can get so stressed out that their own health declines?

Does this sound like something you are experiencing?

PLEASE know it doesn’t have to be this way.

Below are a few Home Instead Senior Care survival tips:

Have ‘the talk’ with your siblings before the crisis with Mom and Dad. Make it clear that you cannot do this alone. If the crisis has already happened…hold a family meeting…bring in a neutral professional…your parent’s primary doctor or a social-worker…to act as mediator. This way everyone will be informed of the diagnosis and care plan at the same time…all family members will feel that their opinion has mattered.

Join a support group. Learn from other caregivers, get regular exercise which is vital to better sleep.

Take at least one hour a day to do something that gives you pleasure…a manicure, meet a friend for coffee, take a yoga class. Let your nervous system reset.

Call your local Area Council on Aging and ask where you can take your family member for a respite stay. Rehab facilities often have some beds for the purpose. Under Medicaid, the caregiver is entitled to three or four days away every 90 days.

And most of all…remember you cannot control disease or aging.