How to Transition From Part-Time Caregiver to Full-Time Caregiver

Article Courtesy of Kristen HellerThe Transitioning Caregiver

Taking care of a loved one is a job that is not to be taken lightly. For some, caring for their aging parents is an honor; while others may see the responsibility as a burden on their adult lives. This responsibility can come on quickly due to an accident or injury; but in many cases, caregiving can come on gradually as parents become less mobile and dependent on other people. If you find yourself spending more and more time caring for your aging parents and believe that full-time care is just around the corner, here are some ways to help you transition from part-time to full-time caregiver so that you can make the most of your time with your parents.

Review Your Routine

While your current caregiving situation might mean that you “pop in” to see mom or dad on the weekends, clean the house, and prepare some meals for the week, you might want to start adding additional time here and there. Rather than thrust yourself into a full-time caregiver, allow yourself some time to acclimatize to the changes that are coming and start slow. Start dropping in to see your parents a few times a week, spread out throughout the week. Change it up a bit with drop-ins at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, weekdays and weekends. This way, you’ll start creating space in your schedule for a new routine down the road.

Put Some Money Away

Taking care of a loved one is time consuming – it is time away from your job and perhaps even your own family. Because caring for a parent can quickly become a full-time job even before you intended it to be that way, it’s a good idea to start putting some money away now to help you cover your cost of living when you transition from part-time caregiver to a full-time caregiver. This is especially important if you parents don’t have savings or if they have no real means of paying for care to see them into their late years. However, if you do your homework before taking on the role of caregiver, you’ll find many programs, such as CDPAP, which are designed to help cover the cost of caregiving for seniors. You can get paid as a full-time caregiver with programs like this, so it’s best to research them early on in preparation for full-time care.

Keep Something for Yourself

If you find yourself having to give up your part-time or full-time job to start caring for your aging parents or family members, it is important to ensure that you continue to maintain some form of self-care so that you can stay healthy. After all, you cannot care for someone if you are sick. It’s important to remember to take time for your life. Make time to have coffee with friends, even if it’s just once a week. This way you’ll have a routine of your own and will be able to step outside the house to get breaks when you need them. Create a morning and bedtime routine for yourself that allows you some time to focus on your needs so that you can provide full-time care for your family when the time comes.
Plan for Backup

Despite your best intentions to provide full-time care for your aging parents, you will need some backup from time to time. For instance, you need to buy groceries, run errands, get a haircut, visit friends, go to your own doctor’s appointments, and so on. So it will be a good idea to speak to other family members, or maybe even neighbors to ensure that when you can’t be there, or you need a much-needed break. Speak with them about routines, schedules, and times when you might need a day off. You may need to offer payment to some people when they fill in for you so be sure to plan for that as well.

Start Slowly

When it comes time to make the move from part-time to full-time caregiver, gradually increase the number of days you spend a week looking after your loved one. Give yourself plenty of lead time to be able to take on the full-time responsibility. As for your existing job, you may be able to take leave in order to care for your parents, so be sure to discuss it with your employer and give plenty of notice to cover for your position while you are away.

Kristen Heller is a passionate writer, teacher, and mother to a wonderful son. When free time presents itself, you can find her tackling her lifelong goal of learning the piano.

Are Your Elderly Parents Keeping Any Secrets?

10 Common Secrets Kept by Aging Parents

Secrets That Elderly Parents Keep From Their Family

Most seniors pride themselves on being independent.  They spent most of their lives not only taking care of themselves, but also raising their own children.  Therefore, it’s no surprise that they may want to keep things private if they feel it will show their vulnerabilities.  Maybe they are not as organized, becoming forgetful, or even more serious things.

It can be difficult to ask for help, not to mention the lingering fear of being declared incapable of caring for yourself by your family.  No one wants to have their driving privileges  taken away, or even worse… be taken away from their home and forced into assisted living or a nursing facility.  As a result, seniors might think it harmless or in their best interest to downplay the severity of a situation or simply omit the situation all together.

Read the full article (10 Secrets that Aging Parents Keep) by AgingCare.com, which provides some of the most common “intentional omissions” that seniors might not disclose to their family members.

Source: 10 Secrets that Aging Parents Keep 

How a Primary Care Physician can Benefit Seniors

There are plenty of senior health articles to be found on the internet; however, rarely is the importance of coordinating senior healthcare ever brought up.

As seniors age, they will have many more doctors appointments with specialists, testing, and various other office visits related to vision, hearing, screenings, and more.  If there are underlying medical issues, the time spent at doctors offices will be even greater.

In order to help aging patients and their caregivers save time by not duplicating efforts, it is highly beneficial to have a “Primary Care Physician” as a central point of contact for all medical care.  This could be your local general physician or a geriatric doctor, many of which can make home visits.   The Primary Care Physician will coordinate all healthcare efforts for the aging patient.  By having this central point of contact, this primary care physician will know and understand all of the aging patient’s medical issues, testing that has been done, medications prescribed, and general well being, allowing them to better evaluate the appropriate medical care for the patient as a whole.  In addition, they can often help with prescribing appropriate medical equipment to assist the aging patient at home. Knowing the full details of the patient’s medical history will allow proper care and avoid unnecessary tests, treatments, medications, and office visits.

For example, if you went to a specialist for each condition separately, their staff will only know the medical details you provide to them.  By coordinating care through your primary care physician, you may still need to see specialists for various medical issues, but if tests are needed that may have already been done by a previous specialist, this will be known by your primary care physician and test results can be shared.

KYRSTEN MASSA PHOTO Shelter Island’s Dr. Nathanael Desire

KYRSTEN MASSA PHOTO Shelter Island’s Dr. Nathanael Desire

In general, it is a good idea to keep your Primary Care Physician not only in the loop, but as the main point of contact for all medical issues, so he/she can provide the most appropriate care based on the individual as a whole.

Read the source of inspiration for this article at “Doctors offer advice for the aging patient and their caregivers”

Source:  Julie Lane @ Shelter Island Reporter

How to Challenge a Nursing Home Eviction Notice

Nursing Home Residents - Eviction Rights          Do you know your rights when it comes to eviction from a nursing home?  “With better-paying Medicare coverage ending and being replaced by Medicaid“, evictions from nursing homes seem to be on the rise.  However, there are procedures that must be followed and rights that you have as a current resident.  This informative article posted by the New York Times includes an easy to read list of guidelines that must be followed by all registered nursing homes according to federal law.  Since most residents may be unaware of their rights, I am sharing this article in the hopes that it can help those who are or may be threatened with transfer or eviction.

Read the Article Here...How to Challenge a Nursing Home Eviction Notice, other Tips

Source: Tara Siegel Bernard and Robert PearThe New York Times

6 Insider Tips to Help You Plan for a Hospital Stay

Hospital stays for seniors and the elderly can bring upon feelings of anxiety and fear for the patient and the caregiver.  This does not have to be the case!  If you are informed and prepared, it will make the process much more bearable.  The best way to help alleviate your concerns is to have a good plan in place.

Home Care Assistance outlines six tips to help out with planning for your hospital stay.  The article covers important areas of what to expect before you go in for a procedure or surgery, how to make your stay a little more comfortable while you are there, and how to prepare for after care once discharged.

Read all 6 tips for Planning Your Hospital Stay…

Source:  Crsytal Jo / Home Care Assistance

10 Fun Activities for Moms with Alzheimer’s

Elder Depot's List of Activities for Mother's Day for those with AlzheimersMother’s Day is about honoring and celebrating mothers.  When you have an elderly mother or grandmother with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, Mother’s Day shouldn’t just be about purchasing and dropping off a gift; but rather creating lasting memories that you can remember and cherish with your mother.  Elder Depot wanted to share our list of simple, easy things that you can do to bring some happiness to your mother’s life on this special day and create a wonderful memory.  The good news is that most of these suggestions are free and only require sharing a little of your time!

Activities can vary depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s, so we tried to create a variety of common and simple things that you can both enjoy.  The most important thing to remember is that you will one day cherish and be thankful for all of the moments that you spent with your mother – taking the time to show you cared.

10 Things To Do on Mother’s Day

  1. Have lunch or dinner together.
    If mom is in a nursing or assisted living home and unable to leave, cook up a quick meal or pick up a pre-made meal and sit with her while eating so you can enjoy the moment together
  2. Celebrate as if it were her birthday.
    Put a single candle in a cupcake or piece of cake and sing her “Happy Mother’s Day”
  3. Take a walk or sit outside together.
    If the weather permits, bring your mom outside for a walk or just some fresh air and sunshine (Vitamin D) and bring up some old memories! If mom is in a facility and physically able, ask to borrow a wheelchair or transport chair to wheel her outside for a short time.
  4. Have an old fashioned beauty day.
    How about a nice pedicure! Paint mom’s nails or put some curls in her hair and show her how good she looks in the mirror!
  5. Look over some old photos.
    Conjure up some memories of familiar faces or times by showing an old photo album or memorable photos. Maybe even do a little Scrapbooking.
  6. Sing some old church hymns or familiar songs.
    If your singing skills are not up to the task, listen to some old familiar tunes together. Encourage mom to sing along and you might get a surprising response!
  7. Put together a simple puzzle.
    Puzzles with larger pieces are easier to see and handle and those with brighter colors may draw more interest.
  8. Bring the family dog for a visit.
    If your family dog is friendly and calm enough for mom to be comfortable around, bring the dog over for some one-on-one contact. If mom is in a facility that will not allow pets, see if you can take the dog to her in the lobby or bring your mom outside to spend some time with the dog – animals can be very therapeutic!
  9. Watch an old movie together.
    Pop in an old favorite movie, like the Sound of Music!
  10. Enjoy some gardening.
    If your mom used to enjoy gardening, let her sit outside with you and watch you do some of the gardening. If she is in a facility or this is not possible, bring in some flowers from your garden and cut the stems and organize the vase with your mom and she’ll have a beautiful home-made bouquet.

We hope this list provides you with some useful suggestions to make your Mother’s Day special. The most important thing to remember is to spend some quality time with your mother on Mother’s Day. Its not about the best gifts, but about the memories you will have for years to come.

From all of us at Elder Depot, we wish you and your family a very Happy Mother’s Day!

We welcome your Comments or Suggestions for future articles! Please email us by Clicking Here.

Independent Living vs. Assisted Living.
Which is right for my loved one?

As our parents or elderly loved ones age, they have numerous options when looking for the perfect place to spend their golden years. Of course, many remain in their homes. Some are looking for an easier way of life, free from the daily chores that homeownership requires, while others seek out the company of people their own age, with opportunities for socializing and daily activities. Still others require assistance with daily living, such as managing medications, dressing and bathing.

If your loved one can still do everything for themselves and would like to live among peers and enjoy scheduled activities, independent living communities – also called retirement living – are an excellent option. They offer a safe, secure and social environment for active, independent seniors.

Seniors in independent housing may live in an apartment, a small home, or a cottage. These communities usually have on-site staff members that provide a small amount of supervision and offer a “maintenance-free” living option, often providing housekeeping, laundry and dining services.

Independent living is perfect for people who:
• Want to maintain their independence.
• Want to rid themselves of the burden of cooking, cleaning and maintaining a home.
• Want more social interaction than living at home.
• Like the security of being around other people and getting some supervision from the staff.

If your loved one is still able to move about freely and is seeking a certain amount of independence, but needs help with some daily activities such as bathing, preparing meals, taking medication, or dressing themselves, an assisted living community may make sense. Residents of an assisted living community live in their own apartment and are able to come and go as they please, while receiving assistance as needed. They can dine with others in a dining room or make their own meals. Quality senior care living communities offer a variety of daily activities to choose from. At an assisted living community, your loved one will still have independence while getting the care and services they need to lead a fulfilling life.

An assisted living facility may also be able to help if your loved one still has certain cognitive abilities, but is beginning to show signs of dementia that could result in isolation, frustration, or forgetting critical tasks such as taking medication. Communities that have “memory care neighborhoods” have caregivers who receive specialized training in memory care along with added security measures to manage residents’ safety. Memory care programs can also include brain fitness exercises, memory-building practices, and specialized therapy for residents living with dementia. If a resident begins to show signs of greater physical needs, the staff will begin to talk to the family about making the transition to a skilled nursing community.

In general, assisted living communities:
• Can provide direct assistance with everyday tasks, like bathing, dressing and meals.
• Have trained staff available and monitoring 24 hours a day.
• Help residents maintain their dignity while aging.
• May have specialized units for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
• Can help with transportation to doctor appointments.
• Often have busy activity calendars to keep residents engaged with other residents.

If you want to ensure your loved one can stay in the same community as their needs change, look into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). CCRCs allow people to remain in the same familiar and comforting environment even if their care needs change. If you’re looking for one community that you can call home even as your health changes, consider a CCRC.

About the Author:
David has over 20 years’ experience as a writer and editor. Senior issues have long been his passion, and in addition to past experience writing about maintaining a healthy outlook throughout every phase of life, he has volunteered his time and skills to such organizations as Senior Services of King County in Seattle. He is one of the many expert authors who is currently writing on behalf of Emeritus assisted living communities.

The Super Little Grandmom ~ Fighting Senior Boredom

This morning as I was driving to work I heard an interesting interview on the radio about ‘Super Mamika’. No, Super Mamika isn’t a copycat of Super Mario, it’s a series of themed photographs by Sacha Goldberger featuring his Hungarian grandmother in the role of a superhero. Mamika means ‘Little Grandmother’ in Hungarian, so the literal translation is Super Little Grandmom.

The story behind ‘Super Mamika’ is that Goldberger noticed that his grandmother, after a long active life, was becoming bored and depressed in her later years. Like many concerned family members he brainstormed ways to engage her, though the solution he came up with does stand out as being more than a little unique.

The ‘Super Mamika’ series of photographs were only the beginning for Frederika Goldberger. She has continued modeling for photographs as can be seen on her MySpace page.

www.myspace.com/frederikagoldberger

Fortunately you don’t have to be a professional photographer or even an artist to engage your elderly loved ones. It’s not only good for Seniors socially and emotionally but some studies have shown that mental stimulation “may” help slow the spread and lessen the symptoms of cognitive decline, as we’ve mentioned before. Of course, the more personal the better…apparently Frederika loves the humor of her Superhero counterpart…but here are a few general suggestions to get you going. Nothing quite as unique as Super Mamika.

  • Pictures: Looking at old family pictures together is one of the classic ways to engage Seniors. However, an often overlooked activity is showing Seniors unfamiliar pictures as well as familiar ones. Books of amazing photography  and picture heavy magazines like National Geographic can be very stimulating.
  • Card Games: Games like Bridge, Pokeno, and Pinochle are old favorites of many Seniors. Large print playing cards, card holders, and automatic card shufflers can enable individuals with dexterity or vision impairment to continue to play their favorite games.
  • Puzzles: Puzzles can captivate Seniors for hours, keeping their mental juices flowing and focusing their attention on putting together a stimulating image. For Seniors with dexterity or vision difficulties, it’s recommended to look for puzzles with Large Pieces. Large Print Crossword Puzzles can also be a great help. There are also puzzles designed specifically for those with Alzherimers, which you can See Here.
  • Book Clubs: Getting a Senior involved in a slower paced book club can do wonders for them both mentally and socially. If the book club is inter-generational, all the better…as long as they’re reading books that have large print editions available.

What activities have you used to fight Senior Boredom and Depression? Share them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

Crossword Puzzles still a good mental workout.

On December 21st, 1913 the New York World published Arthur Wynne’s “word-cross”, the first Crossword puzzle. 97 years later, the Crossword has become an established part of many people’s mental workout and is one of the most popular kinds of puzzle in the world.

More and more research is showing what many Seniors have known for years, that challenging mental activities like the daily Crossword can help slow cognitive decline due to the aging and “may” even improve the brain function of dementia sufferers.

“Crossword puzzles are a perfect way to stay mentally fit. They come in every ability level and are fun, engaging and intellectually stimulating.” ~Stanley Newman

Free Monthly Large Print Crossword for Download or Printing

Keeping Seniors Safe and Warm this Winter

Well, the calendar on my wall claims that winter won’t start until next week but you could have fooled me. It’s freezing out there. Back in July we shared 10 Ways for Seniors to Keep Cool, given the frigid weather outside now seems like a good time to follow up with some advice on keeping Seniors warm and safe this winter.

Winter is one of the most dangerous seasons for Seniors. The weather makes it difficult for them to get around, further isolating them from friends and help. They are more vulnerable to the extreme cold. It is the season of influenza, which each year kills tens of thousands of Seniors and hospitalizes hundreds of thousands more. The freezing weather drastically increases Senior’s risk of falls, putting them at additional risk of injury.

Keeping Seniors Safe in the Winter

  • Winter Footwear: When heading outside wear footwear with non-slip soles and thermal socks. This will help prevent falls and will keep feet nice and warm.
  • Slip Prevention: It’s important to keep steps, driveways, and walkways as free of ice as possible; sprinkle them with a mixture of salt and sand. Don’t hesitate to ask for or hire help. A well positioned Grab Bar or Rail on a flight of slick steps can literally be a lifesaver and an Ice Attachment for Canes can give Seniors some added traction when they’re out and about in icy terrain.

Keeping Seniors Healthy in the Winter

  • Eat Well: Seniors should eat hot nutritious meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Dale Carter has pointed out that special care should be taken to avoid dehydration, which can be hard to identify during the colder months.
  • Seasonal Vaccinations: Seniors should be annually vaccinated against the pneumonia and flu. The Center for Disease Control recommends getting the vaccine as soon as it becomes available because it takes the body about two weeks to build up an immunity. For more information visit Flu.gov.
  • Stockpile Medicines: Stock up on common medicines for sore throats, colds, and coughs. Order prescription drug refills in advance so that there’s no reason to go out in bad weather.
  • Keep Active: Moving around produces body heat and is good for general well-being. During the winter don’t sit still for more than an hour, get up, walk around, and make a warm drink. Spread activities throughout the day. Seniors who have difficulty walking can do chair-based exercises. Another major benefit of moving around is improved circulation, which helps prevent Perniosis and spread heat throughout the body.
  • Perniosis: When a person gets cold and warms their skin too quickly they can develop perniosis, also known as chilblains. These itchy, red swellings often occur on the feet, finders, nose, and ears. People with poor circulation are especially vulnerable. Perniosis is a common condition that can be easily treated by applying calamine or witch hazel to the swelling to reduce itching, it’s important not to scratch the swellings as this could break skin and result in an infection. To prevent Perniosis avoid rapid changes in temperature, wear warm footwear, gloves and socks,  avoid tight fitting clothing that impedes circulation, and do not drink alcohol before going out into the cold.

Keeping Warm in the Winter

  • Wear Layers: It is warmer to wear several thin layers of clothing than one thick layer. Wool and cotton fibers help to hold warmth in. Thermal underwear or tights make for a good under-layer.
  • Cover Head, Feet, and Hands: The U.S. army field manual for survival states that 40% to 45% of body heat is lost through the head, to prevent this heat loss in cold weather it is important to wear a warm hat. Warm gloves and footwear are equally important to keep hands and feet warm.
  • Dress for the Cold…even indoors: Wear warm clothing indoors, even overnight in bed. This can be more effective than cranking up the heat and will certainly be more efficient.

Our fellow Pennsylvanian Peter Leer shared the following Winter Caregiving Tips on Wheelchair Outings along with many more on his blog at CaregivinglyYours.com.

  • Body Heat: Don’t forget that a person riding in a wheelchair does not produce the same amount of body heat as a person walking.
  • Scarfs: In Peter’s own words, “While a hat and scarf are often recommended I have concerns about mixing scarves and wheelchairs, seems an accident waiting to happen.”
  • Outerwear: Again, in Peter’s own words, “For outerwear we usually rely upon a hooded wool zippered cape. Capes are easier for getting on and off when assisting someone in a wheelchair and a zippered cape simply increases options. Hoods are easy to flip up or down, cover everything except the face and are always attached. While wool is ‘old school’ it still has the unique ability to provide warmth even when it is wet.”
  • Don’t forget the lower body: A warm blanket or leg warmers help to keep in body heat and reduce wind chill.

Did we miss anything? Share your Winter Caregiving Tips in the comments.