Category Archives: Caring for Parents

Preparing To Move An Aging Parent Into Your Home

At some point, it may become necessary to open the doors of your home and invite your aging parents to move in; whether they’ve suffered a stroke, trip or fall accident, other health issue or if old age has simply made it impossible for them to live alone, family members need to have a plan in place. Whether your aging relatives will move into an assisted living facility or in with a family member, discussions should begin before the need arises avoiding the stress that comes with making difficult decisions in a time of crisis.

If your aging parents have the resources to move into an assisted living or retirement community, that may be the least stressful option for all involved. If, however, they don’t have the resources to pay for that level of care, the decision must be made on whether they can continue to age in place or whether they will move into the home of one of their children. Moving in with a family member would potentially free up resources that could be used to pay for a part time caregiver.

No matter how much you love and get along with your elderly parents, moving them into your family home changes the dynamic. If their health is failing, you may need to make decisions on who the primary caregiver will be and will need to involve siblings in their daily care. Caregiver stress and isolation is amplified once you’ve moved your aging loved one into your home as it may seem as though there is no escape – depending on your age, you could be holding down a job, raising your own children, and now you’re the primary caregiver for your elderly parents; you may fall into what’s called the Sandwich Generation.

Consider too, that your aging parent may not want to be a burden on the family and they may balk at the idea of moving into your home. If you’re being thrust into the role of caregiver, and have no medical knowledge or background, you may feel apprehensive at the idea of caring for an aging, infirm parent.

Just as you had to baby proof your home when you had children, you will need to age proof the home if your aging parents move in. Here are some areas that will need to be addressed to make certain the home is safe for an aging individual:

  • Prevent falls in every room of the house beginning with the bathroom because this is the most dangerous room for the elderly. Install grip rails and non-skid strips in the bathtub and shower. Make certain the rugs are tacked down or are non-skid styles. If possible install an elevated toilet seat or install toilet seat arm rests to make it easier for them to get up and down.
  • Check the house for trip and fall hazards. Move obstacles out of the line of traffic by rearranging furniture. Make certain that long hallways are lighted either through the use of motion sensor nightlights or lights that turn on when the ambient light is low enough. Again, check that rugs are backed with non slip strips and that power cords are stowed out of the way.
  • If the home has steps, you may need to install a ramp to make it easier for your relative to navigate. Moving your elderly relative into a first floor room is the best idea, but if that’s not possible you may need to install a chair lift to get from the first floor to the bedroom. If they use a walker  your doorways will need to be wide enough to accommodate it.
  • Chair lifts for couches or recliners will make it easier for your relatives to get on and off the furniture.
  • Home medical alert equipment provides peace of mind for your relative and for you, as the caregiver. A medical alert device allows the caregiver to feel more comfortable and confident of leaving the home and leaving their parent alone because they can rest assured that in the event of a trip or fall or medical emergency their relative can summon medical assistance at the push of a button.
  • Make the bedroom that your parents will move into a welcoming spot. If the room is large enough move in a chair so they don’t feel they have to sit on the bed to watch television. Speaking of televisions, provide them with their own, this gives them the option of watching shows they enjoy and also gives you and your family privacy to watch your own shows. Install wall rails to help them walk around their room, if mobility is an issue. If they have a hard time getting in and out of bed, install an adjustable bed rail to make it easier. Make certain their room has motion sensor lights so when they get out of bed, they don’t have to fumble for a wall switch.
  • Make the kitchen more elderly-friendly by moving food items and kitchenware to shelves that your parents can easily reach without having to stretch, strain or climb onto a chair. Set aside a shelf in the refrigerator or a cupboard where they can store items they specifically enjoy having on hand.

Regardless of the relationship between child and aging parent, moving them into your home will bring challenges. With open lines of communication though, you can make your home a welcome refuge and provide your elderly parent with a place in which they can feel secure and loved.

 

 

 

The Benefits Of Adult Daycare

 

When faced with being the primary caregiver for your aging parents, there are times when you need to take a step back and admit to yourself that you need a break and maybe even some outside assistance. Those in the “sandwich generation” that are caring for their own growing family, pursuing careers and caring for elderly parents have to understand that it’s all right to ask for help.

Having strangers come into your parents’ home may be an idea that you balk at, and if this is the case, adult daycare may be an option that will work for all concerned. There are adult daycare centers that cater to adults at every level of function. These centers are staffed by individuals who work to promote well-being and provide activities suited to your parent’s particular needs. When you add in the fact that going to an adult daycare even one day a week provides your aging loved one with the opportunity to interact and socialize with someone who isn’t a relative, the benefits become even more clear.

If you’re wondering whether the senior in your life is a candidate for adult daycare, here are some items to take into consideration:

  • Are they seeking friendship and involvement in activities? Many centers offer games and even senior-friendly exercise programs
  • Are they physically or mentally challenged, but not in need of 24-hour care, but still would welcome the ability to get out and interact with others?
  • Are they alone for many hours of the day when the primary caregiver is involve with his or her family or career?

Even if you get push back from your relatives here are some benefits to those who attend adult daycare, for both them and you:

  • You can rest assured they are in a secure environment that is suited to their particular level of health
  • They can participate in educational and fun activities
  • The mental stimulation they receive could improve their mental and physical health
  • They may experience an enhanced feeling of independence
  • They will have access to healthy meals and if they live alone, the idea of socializing with others enhances mental health
  • There are arts and crafts sessions
  • Musical or other entertainment is offered on special occasions
  • They can participate in book clubs or film clubs and discussion groups. These activities and reading the book club book will keep them active and engaged even during visits
  • Local outings are typically arranged
  • They will be treated to holiday and birthday celebrations.

Many adult daycare facilities provide transportation to and from and if they don’t there may be an organization in your particular community that provides transportation for senior citizens. Involvement in an adult daycare program provides stimulation and involvement for your parents and a chance for them to interact and form friendships with their peers; it also offers the caregiver peace of mind and a much-needed break from caregiving.

If your aging relatives are concerned with being able to age-in-place their involvement in an adult daycare program may help them do just that. The benefits of their attendance are easy to see. Also, when your parents are aging in place, setting up them up with a home medical alarm system will help keep them safe during the hours when you can’t be there. At the push of a button on their medical alert pendant, they have immediate access to medical care through the Emergency Response Call Center at LifeFone.

 

Monitor Your Elderly Relatives Daily Living Activities

 

Everyday activities play a larger role in the lives or your elderly loved ones and relatives and even more so if they are afflicted with health issues. These daily activities can be one of the determining factors in whether they can continue to age in place or whether they may need to relocate to an assisted living facility. Paying attention to what your aging parents can do on a day-to-day basis will be something that becomes more crucial as they age if they’re determined to age in their own home.

Talk with them about household chores and grooming, as well as those they don’t feel they can handle any longer, such as driving or managing finances can help you decide whether they’re still able to live on their own or if you need to become more involved.

Here are some daily activities to monitor and consider when deciding on your loved one’s long or short term capabilities.

Telephone:

  • Can they make and receive calls and hear the caller?
  • Do they need a special phone with caller ID, large numbers or those with more powerful speakers?
  • Do they misplace their mobile phone or a portable land line handset

Mobility:

  • Are they able to drive?
  • If he or she can’t drive, does a relative nearby that can help?
  • Does the local grocery store of pharmacy deliver?
  • Have they had fender benders or more serious accidents in recent months?
  • Can they still navigate the grocery store? If not, does the store deliver?
  • Can they handle pushing a shopping cart and the checkout process?
  • If they are on medication, does it make them drowsy?

Hygiene:

  • Are they bathing or showering regularly?
  • Are they brushing their teeth and combing their hair every day?
  • Are they keeping up with their laundry?

Nutrition:

  • Are they able to safely operate the stove and microwave?
  • Are they eating healthy meals?
  • Are they having trouble remembering to turn off the stove once they’re done

Finances:

  • Can they write checks and balance their checkbooks?
  • Are they able to afford their bills?
  • Are they paying their bills on time?
  • Do they have a budget they follow?

Medications:

  • Are they regularly taking their medications?
  • Are they getting their refills on time? You might want to see if the local pharmacy sends out reminders or can deliver.

Safety:

  • Are there any obstructions or obstacles in their way as they move through their home creating a possibility of falling?
  • Does the home or apartment have good locks?
  • Do they know not to open the door to strangers? They should not allow any door-to-door individuals sell them any goods or services.
  • Make sure they realize they should not give out any personal information over the phone unless they are absolutely certain who the caller is.
  • Do they have a burglar alarm installed?
  • Do they have a home medical alert system in the event of a medical emergency or fall?

Every family situation is unique and you find there are other activities you need to monitor. No matter what the situation is, be sure to identify ways to help them retain their independence as much as possible. Keeping them involved in the process of deciding what is manageable and what they need to relinquish to others is key to ensuring they feel in control of their own life!

 

Where to Find Outside Homecare Services For Aging Adults

If you and your siblings find your elderly parents can no longer live safely at home, it usually falls to one of the siblings to provide the home care that the elderly relative needs. This might be a very workable solution for the short term, but when the needs of the aging relative become too demanding, especially if the caregiver needs to attend to his or her own family and work, the burden of the care-giving will need to be distributed.

Issues usually arise when the aging parent needs more than just cursory care or a driver for grocery store and doctor’s visits. It’s been shown that an individual that is charged with intensive care-giving duties in addition to their own home and family obligations experience burnout and physical and emotional health issues. One of the primary reasons many elderly are placed into an assisted living situation stems from the fact that the caregiver’s health is suffering and is limiting the care they can provide the elderly relative.

Family members can help unburden the caregiver by providing opportunities to step away from the situation. This can be done by setting up a family schedule, hiring a home health aide, and equipping the aging parent’s home with a medical alert system to take away worry and fear when the parent is home alone. A home medical alert system and medical emergency pendant offer round-the-clock peace of mind for the elderly and the rest of the family.

There is no clear cut answer when it comes to easing the burden of senior care. Sharing the load with other family members can certainly offer the main caregiver an opportunity to take a day or two off to rest and recharge. If there are no other siblings or relatives available to provide respite, see if the family finances will allow for an in-home healthcare provider. In some cases, insurance policies may cover the cost of in-home healthcare. Consider too the idea of hiring someone to come in once or twice a week to do light housekeeping and even cook a few meals that your relatives can simply heat and eat. There are services that can provide relief to help ease the stress and potential burnout on the primary caregiver.

Family members need to begin building a support system to help with senior care prior to when it is actually needed. Being prepared means that once a health issue occurs you won’t have to operate in panic mode to find ways to balance caring for your own work, family and home obligations as well as caring for your aging relative. Also, as a caregiver, you also need to give yourself permission to take a day off, and having a home medical device in your aging relative’s home offers peace of mind to be able to do just that.

Gifts Your Aging Parents Will Appreciate

Holidays and birthdays are sometimes difficult times when trying to decide what to buy for your aging parents. It seems as though they either have everything they need or want and usually simply buy what they want when they want it. There are some items you can purchase for them that will bring a lifetime of memories or are certain to make their lives easier.

Here are a few examples of items you could purchase for your elderly relatives:

  1. Send them on a vacation. If your parents have always dreamed of traveling, gather the funds and send them on a vacation. Arrange their travel and hotel rooms and offer them spending money to take with them so they don’t have to worry about cash.
  2. Home entertainment gift. If your parents aren’t healthy enough and don’t enjoy travel, purchase a home entertainment system for them. If they spend most of their time at home and enjoy watching television purchase new one or a radio or CD player if they enjoy music more than television. Offer to upgrade their television station package and pick up the costs so they have more channels from which to choose.
  3. Upgrade their furniture. Let them watch their new entertainment system in comfort by purchasing comfortable recliner for them or even consider buying a massage or heated chair. If you live in cooler climates, a heated chair will help them keep the chill from their bones and a massaging chair will help work out the kinks and relieve body aches and pains.
  4. Home healthcare upgrades. If your aging parents are having health issues, sign them up for, and pay for a home medical alert system and a medical alert pendant for each of them. These devices are worn by your aging relatives 24-hours a day and in the event of a trip or fall accident or other medical emergency, they can call for help at the push of a button. Paying for a home healthcare aide to make occasional visits to the home to monitor their health can also offer you peace of mind knowing that they’re eating healthy and taking their medications.
  5. The gift of time. More than any item you could purchase for your elderly relatives, the gift of time will be the one that is the most welcomed. Plan to stop by several times a week. Take them on shopping trips. Spend some time together preparing and cooking meals for the week so you can not only spend time together but make certain they are eating well.

As your parents age, you should do what you can to make them comfortable and feel cherished. Remember all that they did and sacrificed to raise you, and cherish the time you have with them now. Solitude and loneliness are two of the worst hardships your loved ones face, relieve those feelings by being there for them.

Caring For Elderly Relatives Means Treating Them With Respect

As Baby Boomers watch their parents age and become dependent on them for care, it is a difficult time for all family members. Many seniors may not be fully aware they are losing their faculties and it may be hard for them to be cared for when they’ve spent their lives as the caregivers.
Caring for the elderly, especially when it’s your own parents is a stress inducer. When the roles are reversed and the children are now in the role of caregiver rather than the ones being cared for, it’s awkward for all parties involved. Parents or other aging loved ones may not be receptive to the new interference in their lives and help in managing their day-to-day activities. To make a smooth transition from care provider to care recipient, show your loved one love and treat them with respect, even though they may be tough to deal with or due to health or mental status they may act like children.

In some instances, friction arises when you’re trying to convince your parents that they either need you to come in and help with housekeeping, paying bills, cooking, or even going so far as to hire in home healthcare aides. The conversations need to be approached with care and need to focus on your desire to help relieve some of the burdens and anxieties. Tell your aging relatives, in a non confrontational way, that you’ve noticed some issues with their health; chances are, they’re aware of it but simply don’t want to admit it.

If your aging relatives have suffered health issues, you need to work with them on age-proofing their home to address potential any slip or fall issues. Whether your parents are aware of it, individuals over the age of 65 are more likely than any other segment of the population to suffer a slip or fall accident which can lead to a permanent disability or even death. If they are determined to age in place, they will need to make modifications to their home and its design to make it more senior-friendly. You will want to do a thorough inspection of the home and check for any potential slip or fall hazards such as:

  • Loose or slippery carpets
  • Electrical cords in walkways
  • Items in cupboards that are too high to reach without having to climb on a step stool

Added safety measures include:

  • Equipping the bathroom with non slip carpets, hand grips and even a seat for ease in showering
  • Installing a home medical emergency monitoring system. These are great for aging individuals as they are equipped with a waterproof medical alert pendant and if they slip or fall or suffer another health emergency, at the push of a button help will be alerted and emergency medical personnel dispatched if needed. The use of home medical emergency monitoring systems allows many elderly to stay home for much longer and offers all parties peace of mind

Make your relatives a part of the solution when helping them age in their own home. Don’t simply come in, take over and make wholesale changes to their home and their lifestyle. Bear in mind, they are accustomed to being the caregiver and if treated with respect, they will be receptive to the changes you’re implementing and will be more likely to ask for help in the future.

Host A Family Meeting To Make Elder Care Decisions

Making tough decisions on the health and welfare of your aging parents is difficult. You may want to gather all family members who will be impacted by the decision and have a family meeting. While it’s true that geography may make the logistics of this difficult, consider gathering family that lives local and hosting a web cam chat with those that are not geographically local.

Having a network of concerned family members might make the decision-making process easier. If you find that your aging parents are facing specific health issues it is best to share information and share thoughts in a group setting. In some cases, there may be a family member or two that is bearing the burden of caring for the aging relative and they may simply need help in the care-giving tasks. Caring for an aging relative is never an easy task and you’ll find that holding a caregiver/family meeting can improve the situation.

Invite family members that will be directly impacted by decisions made on behalf of your aging relatives – whether monetarily or through increased care-giving roles. While you may think it’s easier and likely more comfortable to exclude the aging relative from the conversation, you should gather their input and make them feel part of the solution. You may be surprised to find out that what you think is important and of concern is vastly different from their perspective!

The professional caregiver or another individual who interacts with the aging relatives on a daily basis should also be present for the meeting.  If your relatives are heavily involved in their church or other organization there may be a friend or two that know your loved one well and should be included in the meeting.  Ensuring you have all the appropriate people at the meeting can help make the decision-making process more effective.

 What’s the meeting about?

Now that you’ve planned a meeting, what will you talk about? You should first appoint one family member as the meeting organizer and another to take notes. Start by asking your parents what issues they feel they are facing. For example:

  • Are they scared to live alone?
  • Are they afraid of falling or worried about failing health issues and what that might mean to them?
  • Are they worried that their home is no longer suited to their needs?
  • Are they worried about tripping or falling in their home or yard?
  • Are they worried about their medical conditions?

These are just a few of the concerns your loved one might have.

Once you’ve listened to your aging relative’s concerns you can address them one by one. For example:

  • Consider outside agencies to provide assistance such as a Meals-on-Wheels, a housekeeper or an in-home medical professional.
  • Gather the family to make the home safer by removing trip and fall obstacles?
  • Evaluate the cost and benefits of renovating the bathroom, shower and kitchen to make it more senior-friendly?
  • Install motion sensors or lights that operate dusk to dawn to light the exterior of the home.
  • Add nightlights the home to illuminate the interior of the home.
  • Research a security system to be installed in the home to make them feel safer?
  • Equip your love one with a home medical alert system so they have 24/7 access to emergency care.

Following the meeting make certain that the action steps that were discussed are actually implemented. Keep in touch with your loved ones via telephone or face to face visits to check on their health and well-being. Preparation and prevention are two of the most vital steps in alleviating fears and providing safety for your loved ones.

Find Assisted Living

Making decisions for your aging parents’ care

Your parents spent so many years caring for you and maybe even your children, but now the time has come for you to make decisions on their care. How do you make the decision on what is best for them? There are many items to take into consideration and many of the decisions you need to make are based on how well your parents are currently taking care of themselves. When evaluating your parents’ situation, consider their personal hygiene, on-going medical care, any safety issues inside the home and day-to-day living which includes eating, cooking, and running errands.

Here are five tips from LifeFone, a provider of home medical alarm systems:

1. If both of your parents are still in the home, are they both at roughly the same level of health? Does one need more care and is the other parent able to provide that care?

2. Is your aging parent able to walk, move, eat, cook, and look after him or herself on a daily basis?

3. Can your parents stay in their own home or do they need assisted living care? With the installation of a home medical alarm system, will your parents be able to stay in the home for a longer period of time?

4. Do your parents need round-the-clock care or are they able to get by on a daily basis with minimal supervision.

5. Is the home safety-proofed in a way that makes it easier for them to live independently and age at home?

Once you’ve answered the questions above, you – and your aging parents – will be in a better position to make a decision on care. If your parents are healthy enough to take care of themselves and stay in the home, either on their own or with the help of a visiting nurse or with another family member dropping by, then allowing them to age at home is likely an option. If your parents are able to cook, clean and monitor their own medications then chances are they can age at their own home – which you will likely find is what they would prefer. Adding a medical alarm system will enhance the peace of mind for the family.

If there is a family member that is able to take care of your aging parents by making frequent drop-in visits to monitor their health and help out with household chores and running errands, the likelihood that your loved one can live independently at home increases. Another way to make it possible for your parents to age at home is by making certain the house is equipped for safety. You will want to make certain there are no trip or fall hazards such as loose items on the floor, throw rugs that could cause a potential trip hazard. Additionally, move as many items as possible to lower shelves for ease in reaching them without having to use a step stool or ladder.

Even if your parents are in good health, a trip or fall or any other health emergency could arise that could render them helpless and unable to call for help. Equipping their home with a medical alert system or a medical alert bracelet makes it easy for them to simply push a button to call for medical assistance. LifeFone, with its home medical alert systems, offers seniors a way to age at home while providing their family members with peace of mind.

How to Put Together a Family Caregiver Agreement

When a loved one is no longer able to completely care for themselves it’s important they have people around them helping out to make their lives easier. More than 65 million caregivers provide more than $375 billion in uncompensated care to friends and family members.  This number is staggering but reflects the love and commitment families for one another!

When your loved one is having a difficult time you may feel that it’s time to step in but you don’t have to do it all alone.  Preparing a family caregiver agreement is a great first step to take so that no one has to take on the burden of caregiving all by themselves. Each family member should play a part  in achieving a great caregiver experience .

The first thing you need to do is define your needs and the needs of the one you’re caring for. What kind of difficulties are they having? What kinds of medication are they taking? When do they need to go to see a physician? These are a few questions you should ask when preparing a caregiver agreement. You must also take into consideration the needs of those participating in the caregiving. What kind of hours does everyone work? What family obligations do they have? Do they themselves have any medical problems that need to be taken into consideration? Write down all these needs and sort them according to each individual. Continue reading

More Than Tough Love

It is no secret that people tend to be the hardest on the ones they love. Family members often shoulder the burden of their loved ones’ emotional rage, which is only amplified when that family member is also serving as the primary caregiver to their elderly parents. It is hard to discern why elderly parents turn on the child that is trying to take care of them, but often their anger is rooted in their circumstances, not the actual family member.

Our loved ones may realize they are not as mobile or active as they used to be, they may be experiencing a painful illness, they may be embarrassed  of their incontinence, or they may feel their memory waning. Whatever the cause, they often take their frustrations out on the ones they feel most safe and comfortable around. They are not consciously abusing their son or daughter, they are frustrated and take it out on family because they believe no matter how poorly they behave family won’t leave them.

When handling emotional abuse from elders, it is important to understand that your parent is frustrated, they feel as though their independence is slipping away and that death is fast approaching. As we age, we often feel betrayed by our bodies and feel humiliated for the help we require to simply survive each day. While our loved ones are undergoing a difficult time period in their life, it does not justify their negative and hurtful behavior toward their caregivers.

Detach Yourself from Insults

Although their insults may cut deep, it is important that you don’t take every insult personally. It is also important to be able to detach from the situation with love. If you are experiencing a particularly difficult period in your relationship, the best solution may simply be to take a break. If your parent is in a nursing home where you know they are receiving proper care, or you have a sibling that can take over the duties for a day or a week, allow yourself to get some distance. By spending a little time apart both you and your loved one will have time to recharge. As a caregiver, it is important to show your loved one that you will not tolerate being treated in an abusive manner, standing your ground often leads to better behavior on your loved one’s part. Being a caregiver is stressful enough without your care recipient bringing you to tears based on their poor behavior.

If your loved one lives at home with you, it may be a good idea to consider in-home care, finding a little respite will work wonders on your psyche. By detaching yourself from their care for even a short while, you may find that your parents gain a new appreciation for you. When you stand up for yourself, and remain kind, calm and loving, it is easier to get your point across. Your feelings are important, regardless of your loved one’s disposition. Taking a stand and letting them know their behavior is intolerable early on may save you a world of hurt throughout your caregiving journey.