Saturday, May 28, 2011

Caregiver's Touch: A Tool To Help Keep Your Wits About You

I came across something today that I'd wished I had when taking care of my elderly mother. It would sure have helped keep all the things and dates organized that you need to have at your fingertips. Instead, it seemed I was always trying to locate things when time was so important.

This may be something that could help you and all caregivers...

Click Here For Caregiver's Touch!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day Should Be Celebrated

Thank your lucky stars if you still have your mother here with you. If not to visit at least to call and wish her, "Happy Mother's Day!" This is my fifth Mother's Day without my Mom and I can't believe so much time has passed when it only feels like yesterday.

But such is life. So if you are a Mom, I wish for you a joyous day. If you have a Mother to hold, give an extra tight hug to her. If she lives far from you, please call to hear her voice.

Let's celebrate the most wonderful Mothers in the world!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Elder Care: And Then We Have To Say Goodbye...

It doesn't matter the age of a loved one when they die. It always hurts. And, for me, I'm finding time doesn't make it much easier. If anything, I miss Mom more now than when she died. Everyone said I was in shock then. Even though it was certainly expected.

As the anniversary approaches of the day she died, I find myself depressed. When most people are getting a healthy dose of spring fever, I'm ready to go back to hibernation. I know it will pass. At work, at least, nobody would know how I feel. I deal with the public so I have to be "on" at all times. Which helps.

Death sucks. No matter what the age. I can't believe it will be 5 years. It seems like 2 years at most. For those of us who believe in the afterlife, it's much easier. I don't know what I believe. Sometimes, I believe our loved ones are having a great old time "over there" and waiting to be reunited with us. At other times, I lose sight of those good thoughts.

What I do know is this. I've been at the bedside of several people getting ready to die. And everyone of them in the days and hours leading up to death were reaching out. Everyone of them. What did they see? Who were they reaching for? Was someone beckoning them? Letting them know they had love and support when they passed? Gosh, I sure want to believe in that.

I guess the only thing we can do is treat our loved ones who are still with us with love. And know that we've done our best while we had the ones with who have passed. Still...I wish I could go back and do it better...

I miss you, Mom. And I will see you again, someday...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Helping Your Aging Parents Stay Healthy And Happy

We can't stop the natural aging process. Only have to look in the mirror and notice our own stiff limbs in the morning to realize that. If you have aging parents, you'll be wanting to watch for changes in their physical and mental well-being.

As your parents age, you'll become much more proactive. You'll want to talk with their doctors. A good relationship here is so beneficial for everyone. Go with them to their appointments. A good doctor will encourage this for many reasons. Often times, our parents become hard of hearing and don't want to mention it. They will miss important medical information.

Some times they may be confused by all that's going on and miss valuable instruction. If you are there, it's like a double check on the health of your parents. You'll know what they are supposed to be following up on and can make sure everything goes as planned.

I must add how important the pharmacist is as well. Nuture these relationships and the road will be smoother.

Remember too, as your parent's health declines, it is going to affect you emotionally. You are watching your once vibrant, young parent face the pitfall of aging. It's hard to watch the Dad who could throw a fast curve ball now be unsteady on his feet. To see the Mom who could multi-task with the best of them, have trouble dressing in the morning. Try to remember what it must feel like to be in their shoes.

Encourage them to stay socially active. Make sure they stay in touch with family and friends. If they no longer drive, please drive them yourself. This wards off depression. For both the parent and the caregiver.

When my Mom would get to spend the day with friends, the bliss carried over for a long time. And give them privacy. Don't hover. Go do something else. This is their time. Get out of their way. How else can they bitch about their kids? Just kidding...

Encourage them to exercise. Especially walking. I know in the winter it can become a nightmare. Find someplace that has an inside track and get them to the facility if you have to. It also helps with the winter doldrums. And speaking of which, consider one of those SAD lights. I have one for myself and believe me, it does work. Winter can be tough and everything we can do to literally make light of it, the better for everyone.

Love and protect your loved ones while you have them. Trust me, you'll miss them when they are no longer with you...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Adaptive Clothing: Making Life Easier For Your Aging Parents

I hate to admit that when Mom was alive, I didn't even know about adaptive clothing. Now of course I feel so guilty. And you can all relate to those feelings of guilt, right? Not a day goes by when I don't find myself thinking of how I could have been a better caregiver to Mom. Intellectually I know it doesn't make sense to go over and over these thoughts in my head. But I do. It seems to be a caregiver's returning nightmare.

We can't go back in time, although we may wish we could. At least she lived with me and I could help her dress when she had difficulty but what of our loved ones who live alone and struggle with dressing? I guess my way of making it up to Mom is to let others know about adaptive clothing. At least, you'll know about them and have the choice if they're right for your loved ones.

Or you can tell your loved ones what's available out there that can make their life easier. And everything that can bring less stress to our days is a good day. So if you know of someone who has troubles with dressing due to limited mobility due to any number of afflictions to the body, tell them about Silvert's.

This company has been around forever and know how to treat their customers. They have a catalog chock full of adaptive clothing for all needs. Click on the Silvert's banner and the top of the page and have a look around.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Caring For The Caregiver: How To Avoid Burnout

Stress is a nasty beast. It can build up as we go along with our lives and we don't even know it's visiting us. Until it's too late. As a caregiver to an aging parent, we have to be on high alert. Even during the best of times, looking after elderly loved ones brings a certain amount of stress.

Ways To Avoid Burnout

*** Signs of stress are sleep disorders, anger issues, anxiety, headaches and depression. Keep tabs on yourself and identify these signs early on.

*** Have someone to confide in. Someone you trust like a good friend. If you have someone going through the same thing as you or has in the past, so much the better. It's so true that you can't really understand something unless you've experienced it yourself.

*** Manage your responsibilities. Be realistic. You can't get everything done at once. Be easy on yourself. Please don't get yourself into the GUILT trap.

*** Get respite care set up. If not from a service in your area, then get a friend or relative to step in so you can have some time for yourself.

*** Have time for yourself everyday. Turn off all thoughts of responsibilities and "perfection" and go to your "happy place"!

*** If you have severe burnout and depression, please, please seek professional help!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Elder Care: The Importance Of Home Care For Everybody Involved With Aging Parents

Having home care for my mother was a godsend. For both of us. It gives the caregiver a chance to get errands done. It offers a respite for you to get away from your loved one. Which is good for both parties.

Nobody can and should be in each other's face every minute of the day. It replenishes the caregiver emotionally and physically.

For the care receiver, it's a chance to socialize with someone besides family members. My mom perked up when she knew her home care worker would be visiting. Having someone else get Mom in her bath saved my back!

Only you can visualize what the benefits to having home care would be. I urge you to call around your local area to see what's available. It can be paid or un-paid. But please look into this service. It took me awhile to get it all sorted out because I thought I had to do everything myself. Being the martyr does not work for anyone!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day To All Caregivers And Their Aging Parents

The day of love is here. Valentine's Day is not just for romantic couples. It's for everyone who loves. Their parents, their spouses, their partners, their friends, siblings, pets, you name it!

Hopefully, we feel the love everyday. Not just on February 14. But as caregivers, I hope you look at this day as a respite. If you're feeling stressed from the demands of looking after your elderly parents, take a moment and count your blessings.

I know that sounds trite and cliche but it is true. My Mom and I exchanged cards all the time. My most treasured ones are the ones she handmade for me when she was unable to get out in the stores. I don't have to tell you how much those mean to me, do I? I wish she were here now for this Valentine's Day...

So take the day tomorrow and find the spot in your heart that holds the best memories and cherish them.

Happy Valentine's Day, my friends!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Caring For Aging Parents If You've Had A Dysfunctional Relationship

Alright, this is a biggie! There are no perfect relationships of any kind. But the degrees of dysfunction can vary.

Sometimes, the family evolves over time and looks back at their troubles and can now laugh. If this is your family, you're good to go. If you can be around each other and the past doesn't haunt you, you have been able to heal and move forward.

You will have to give a lot of thought to going back to living under the same roof as your parent if there was serious dysfunction.

In the event of a truly dysfunctional family, it will never get better. You couldn't live in harmony in the past. How would anyone expect you to do so now? The ill feelings are too great to overcome. Especially, for family members who have had to go into therapy for their own well-being. Your well-being has to come first. And don't let ANYBODY try to give you a guilt trip.

You didn't have anything to do with being born into your family. You've survived those years. Do not, I repeat, do not put yourself back into that environment. When we are around our parents, we do digress to our childhood memories. That's a fact.

All the dysfunction will rear up again. You will backslide. You are too important for this to happen. Find other ways to help your aging parents. Call services in their area to get assistance. Whether it be home care, assisted living or a nursing home if that's where they need to be.

Yes, it would be nice if all families were of the "Leave It To Beaver" fantasy. But that isn't what real life is like. For troubled families, life is fraught with bad feelings. They don't go away. Some will say they are over it and have forgiven.

So why do they still have nightmares about their childhoods? This happens. Unfortunately, some families need to stay away from one another. Do not blame yourself. Take care of your life. And find someone else to take care of your aging parents.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Elder Care: Keeping Our Loved Ones Warm In The Winter Season

I hate cold weather. I have 3 speeds. Slow, slower and stored for winter. All kidding aside, cold weather can be worse for the elderly.

They aren't moving around as much in the cold weather. And if they are trying to keep the thermostat down to save money, they'll get chilled. Just the fact of having older bodies is a reason to pay attention. Their circulation can cause problems. If they have arthritis, the cold will bother them more. Any health issue seems to flair up much worse when you feel cold.

My Mom always said she had a chill when she was sitting doing her crocheting or reading. So keep blankets handy. Shawls and bed jackets are cozy alternatives in the cold weather. A warm cup of tea while soaking feet in a foot bath is a real treat. Same for a warm bath. Filled with something for dry skin.

And there's nothing cozier than having warm feet. Microwavable slippers are a godsend. You can wear them to bed to help with insomnia. (there's a link at the top right on this page for heated slippers. Just click on CosySoles)

If your elderly parents live by themselves, make sure they are taking care of keeping warm. If they live with you, it's easier to gauge how they are feeling. And a nice big warm hug is the best thing for all of us!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Your Aging Parent Living With You: Are You Up To The Task?

Not everyone can have an aging parent live with them. There are many reasons for this. A few of them:

** You may not have the space

** They may require more care than you can give them

** Financially, it isn't an option

** Your personalities have always clashed

** You're not cut out to be a caregiver

First, the space issue. Your parent must have their own bedroom. Some people are fortunate enough to be able to build on an extension on their home. Some have an in-law suite. Which is incredible. Your parents have their own independence but do not feel left alone.

But if none of these fits the bill or you can't make it happen, it's not going to be possible to have anyone move in.

Second reason could be the amount of care they require. What are their medical issues? Are they mobile? Mobile with assistance? Do they have dementia or Alzheimer's disease? These are tough questions. You may want your parent with you but be honest. If they require more care than you can give them, it would be cruel to both parties.

Third...finances. If you are working outside of the home, are they able to be alone? Can you have someone check on them? If quitting your job just isn't an option, this arrangement won't work if they need constant monitoring.

Four...and this is a big one! If whenever you're together, you end up bickering, this will not work. Trust me on that. Family dynamics doesn't change just because you want them to. The stress will kill you.

When you and the family talk about it, it can seem completely do-able. But. If your parent has always driven you crazy, what's going to change now? If you cause your parent grief over anything in the past, it will still be there. You will have to work through it if you go ahead with the move. And I mean you should talk to professionals.

Fifth...You just can't become a caregiver to an aging parent. Of course, it depends on the amount of care they need. Also remember, the aging process won't stop. You'll have to be prepared for all kinds of things to come up in the future.

Then again, we never know what we are capable of until we're faced with a situation. I happened to surprise myself many times over. Don't sell yourself short.

Again, it all depends on the care they need. They may need nursing home care. We all hate to think of that when it happens but we need to do what's best for all concerned. So many variables, so little time. Talk to your doctor. Find any services in your area that can help you reach a decision that is best for all.

Even with the squabbles Mom and I endured over the years, I'd give anything to have her beside me again...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Aids For Independent Living: How To Help Our Seniors' Quality Of Life

With age and mobility problems comes a variety of issues that can cause daily life to become stressful for our aging parents. Thankfully, there are products we can purchase that can make all the difference in their lives.

Whether they are living in their own home, with you or an assisted living facility, daily activities can become so much more tolerable. If not downright happy!

MedExSupply has everything under the sun possible for aids for independent living. Just click on the banner at the right to view their catalog. Click on Personal Care and then General Living Aids. If you're like me, you'll see some items that will make your own life easier!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Looking After Your Elderly Parents: Become Senior Friendly

Last month my workplace offered a course on becoming "Senior Friendly". My co-workers knew I'd appreciate us being given the designation as I love my seniors. Having taken care of my Mom until she passed on at 95, I was eager to see what we'd learn.

We were given walkers and with our legs tied together tried to open a heavy door and get outside. We tried to do the same in a wheelchair. None of this was easy at all!

The most heart-touching exercise was wearing glasses to simulate different forms of vision impairment. Mom suffered with macular degeneration. I tried to be empathetic but I know I failed miserably. When I wore those glasses and really understood for the first time how it was for Mom, tears came to my eyes. Now I finally understood and my heart went out to her all over again.

It's hard for younger people not to lose patience. We live in such a hectic, fast-moving time. When we are behind someone in a wheelchair or using a cane or walker, we might begin sighing and fidgeting. Try to be patient!

Nobody asks for any age-related issues to affect their lives. Everyone wants to be vibrant and mobile. And these same things may be affecting us before we know it. Do we want loved ones or strangers becoming angry with us?

I would give anything to have Mom back with me and do things over. With a lot more understanding. But I can't. The best I can do is "pay it forward". So please be patient. And if a "Senior Friendly" course has seminars in your area, think about attending. Have younger people you know consider attending as well.

Life is better for all of us if we could just slow down a little and feel the love toward all people, no matter what their age.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Caring For Aging Parents: What Will The New Year Bring?

We are starting a new year. None of us have a crystal ball. We start each year with a sense of wonderment and hope. Unfortunately, real life takes hold and memories of warm feelings brought on by the holidays are forgotten.

Worries over aging parents never leave us. As we go about our daily lives, doing our jobs, the thought is always in the back of our minds..."Are Mom and Dad okay?" Whether you live close by or a long way apart, the anxiety can consume us.

For me, my Dad passed away while he was living with Mom in the same house they started their marriage in. Although I constantly checked up on them, Mom was able to take care of most of the load. After he passed, my mother never got over her grief. She depended on me more than ever.

To shorten the story, Mom lived with me for many years until she passed at 95. I don't regret it. Even though there were times I thought I'd lose my mind! (smile)

Which is best? I really don't know. Each of us has to deal with the cards given us. Your aging parents may be still in their own home. Maybe an assisted living facility or nursing home. Close by or miles away. Or living right with you in your own home.

Some of you are part of the sandwich generation. You're taking care of teenagers AND aging parents. That has to be the most difficult!

What will the New Year bring? There will be ups and downs. Perhaps their health will deteriorate. Sadly, this may be their last year on earth. We don't know. But, please look for emotional support wherever it's available. For whatever stage in the process you find yourself.

Take time for yourself. Look after yourself with proper rest and nutrition. These must be your priorities. Losing yourself to look after others will benefit nobody.

Live in the moment. Relish the little things. Take comfort in the smiles, hugs and laughter. When the bad stuff happens, know you are strong and you will conquer whatever is thrown your way.

Life's like that. I wish for you a Happy New Year. Filled with health, love, support, understanding and patience. Bless you all!