Senior Hair — Color or not?


senior-hair-colorDear Francy; My mom is 82 and she insists on coloring her hair…I think with all the meds she takes and her age, the hair color should stop. How can I break it to her?

UM, well you don’t. My mom had Auburn hair when she passed at 100 years of age. It really is a thing for the senior to decide. That may make the trips to the salon a bit much for support family or friends, but the tradeoff of losing another piece of her life…her hair color, is not worth the “put your foot down”.

There are so many things you can do these days that are easy and even the bath lady can quickly put a color rinse, in senior hair, to give it some lift. You can find easy products for color and more moisture at the drug store. Or you can go into a beauty supply and ask them for help. There are also some small tubes of fun color that could really be a great thing to give your mom a couple weeks of a slice of orange for Halloween. Or blue to highlight a special outfit. Just try to be open.

Getting older does not mean that fun has to leave your life. Sometimes hair color or nail color really gives a senior a snap of fun and their friends a giggle. So even if they are at a retirement facility…their hair, nails and lipstick can be color filled and enjoyable. Or if they are home, on their own…with few visitors…that hair color and a monthly well-deserved mani/pedi – makes a big difference in their personal view of who they are.

When I talked to my mom about her color and asked if she thought it was time to let it go gray she said; “I watched all my girlfriends go gray and when they did…they only saw their older self. So I told my brain to think young and stay red. Now, I’ve outlasted them all.”

Everyone has their own inner voice. But to me, that voice that tells a gal she is still a woman with beauty and love to give – that voice needs to always be supported, not silenced, no matter what her age. I agree with mom, when you start to think of yourself as only “old” there is a downward spiral in your mental and physical health. I have a good friend that told me that wearing make-up and doing her hair was no longer what she wanted to worry about. Yet, she always talks about how she has outlived “her time” when she begins a conversation with me.

I think keeping your hair in a style that is comfortable and still attractive and putting on moisturizer and lipstick is what keeps you feeling like you matter. Not to mention, those around you see and react to how you “care” for yourself and mirror those emotions back to you.

I have taken note of the older men in grocery stores with angry faces. They are wearing clothes from twenty years ago, tummies hanging down low and baseball caps to hide their unruly hair and their beards are not trendy…just unkept. I feel for them and wonder who is caring for them at home? I never let my George get into that rut. I kept his hair and facial hair in good order. I always kept a simple face moisturizer with SPF ready for his morning wake-up routine. I also made sure if his teeth got yellow that he had a few of those whitener strips to perk the teeth up. I updated his clothes so he looked attractive, yet comfortable and he responded by feeling good about his own self. All through his Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s downslide; I kept his daily routine of meds and light exercise to include his “look”. Everyone always told me how great he looked even well into his eighties before he passed.

I know that caring for seniors is very overwhelming with the many things that have to be done to keep them well and functioning each day. But personal grooming is just as important as it ever was in their life. And maybe even more important. Because when you start to have very little in your life ~ when you are away from your old friends, your old spouse, your old home and car…the senior’s own life seems so empty and pointless. That’s when highlighting ones own personal self-care is even more important…so the senior always feels like they are worthwhile and their current life may be different but it’s still a quality life, each day.

I know it is more work for the care giver…but it’s just so important to remember pills and exercise are only a part of a person in care. The person’s smile and personal “look” needs to have a place in the daily routine. Finding that inner joy completes the package.

I appreciate all you are doing for your senior in care. I have a sweet neighbor that is starting to replace my light bulbs…I giggled to myself the other day when he had left. You see I always remember thinking that was the beginning of the care I gave to my mother. When she asked George to stop by and change her light bulbs. I guess I’m on the same path. Aging is scary when you are not of means and have no children, I can’t help but worry about my own future as I age. But I have mother’s example of not giving in to fear and walking forward through all the times of change to help me keep going. Blessings, francy




Sumertime with Your Senior


senior gardeningSummertime fun for seniors in care by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; Mother just told me… she was cold and the day is hotter than you can imagine. I just get frustrated when she is cold and refuses to go outside in the good weather. 


I know…I know…the “I’m Cold!” is almost universal, when you hit a certain age. It has to do with medications, brain changes, body weight and all around mental state. But have you gotten your mum out the door?

Just because a senior is living alone…or in your home, care facility etc. — does not mean you don’t keep them up to date with the time of year. I know there are lots of people that are fancy doctors that think simple habits are not as important as medication. But I disagree. We all have to have our time changes on the calendar and doing certain things each year…gets us into the change in your mind and our hearts. Even if your mum or dad were not gardeners…they had gardens and they enjoyed trips to parks and hiking and outings with their kids, in their day. You need to bring that faint memory of warm days and happy times back into their minds.

So, you need to plant something. I like a small planter by the patio, window, or front door of there room. Pick out a planter that is sweet and fits the size of the project. Then buy a few flowers. It can be for outside and filled with bloomers…or a small array of inside plants. (It can even be a silk flower arrangement to make the season)

Then spread out the large plastic garbage bag at the kitchen table and have the senior sit and work with you to fill and plant the container. Talk about their garden, if you have a picture of their old garden show it to them and remember old times as you plant. Then take the planter and have the senior decide where to place it.

Then its your job to remind the senior to water it. I would come over to Mom’s house and water for her…but she would sit on her porch and tell me how to do it. It was really a sweet way to be involved with the world, enjoy the small beauty of plants and the healing and calming effect they have on all of us.

tool bag My guy needed his tools. He was constantly going out in our garage and I worried over him out there. His dementia was raging, but his tools were calling. Makes me smile just to remember him standing by his tool bench doing nothing really. But in the last days the garage had to be out of range. He could not use the stairs and he could have wandered away without me right there. So, I packed up tools and put them into two small tool bags. I would bring him to the kitchen table, spread out a plastic table cloth and get the tool bags out. I had put in various glues as well as tools. I would put something down that needed to be glued or tightened or fixed and he would spend an hour or two just fussing around. Maybe it was fixed, maybe not. But he was having his own space and joy within…so it did not matter what the outcome was and he felt needed.

Every family has there thing….maybe baking cookies, maybe working on a quilt, maybe painting a wall, maybe flipping through picture albums and chatting about old times. There are always things that bring you and your senior back together. I know you will find them. Because when you do, it will open their minds to times that made them happy and they will relive that time all over again. You have your own ways…just take time to make them happen.

kirbee n yogurtI appreciate all you do for your senior. My favorite thing in the summer when George’s mind was really losing its abilities..was taking him out in the car to get an ice cream cone. Simple, old fashioned fun. It makes me happy just to have those memories of them all now…my little family of two dogs and Georgie. They have all passed now, but my memories are strong…because I took time to make memories. I know you will never regret doing the same, even on days when your tired and they are testy…memories and laughing is the trick. Georgie and our dogs would be in heaven with a frozen yogurt drive by…what’s your’s? francy



Easy Tips to Remember to Take Pills…


Ideas to remind seniors to take their pills! francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; I was just told that my dad could not be given dementia medications because he lives alone and might forget them. I guess they need to be given in a timely manner. Do you have ideas for helping him remember? He is in the early stages of dementia and still living on his own with my every other day visits. M. Catterin


Everyone, even mothers of young children, that take medications get confused over prescriptions. But if you get a few tips that work for you…it makes all the difference in the world. Let’s review some of the latest apps and helper tips for remembering to take pills.

My first rule is that a caregiver sorts the pills and gets them in order each week. This way, its a once a week chore…you know if the supplements have to be re-ordered or the prescriptions called in and that is done by the adult in the room. Honestly…this is the first hurdle to tackle. Now, many seniors like to open each bottle each day…that is NOT how you handle medications or supplements. You sort them into an extra large container and you set up the different ways to remind the senior to take them. I would suggest that if your mum or dad is over seventy, even if they have no real signs of memory loss, I would still tell them that you are taking over this chore for them. It is simply a way to know what has been taken, why they are taking the medication and when it has to be taken. Then you choose a reminder procedure and it’s in the bag. If your senior gets ticked off that you are pushy about this…too bad. This is the beginning of caregiving for your elders. Once you set up the procedure it works and the senior is happy to have you come over each week to do the sort and fill. You can always get two containers and set them up every other week. But remember, long life means taking medications properly. If you think caregiving is hard now, you wait till your senior forgets meds and starts a slippery slope to get out of their physical comfort zone. Doctors assume you take the Rx that they give you….do not think they can be a babysitter. You must make sure that supplements for things like joint pain and allergies are taken daily, then add in the medication your senior has been given and their health will stay in a safe zone for a long time. (Google “Images of pill containers” to find a fabulous variety that fits your senior’s needs)


Trying to remember to tell your senior to take their pills on time is simply awful. Its hard enough to remember your own daily supplements each morning…let alone to remind your mom or both of your parents. So the idea that services are there to do the reminders is FABOO as far as I am concerned.

Tip: If you have two people taking pills in a household. Find two different areas to keep the pill containers. Mark the container with their name and make them different colors. It’s really easy for an elder to grab the wrong container. So making the place each of them keep the container repeated daily; makes it easier. I actually took George’s pills (brain pills and all) one morning when I was so tired…I was in a panic and called the poison line to find out what to do. They told me to rest all day and I had to call my sister to come and help George while I kept down and quiet. It was just silly of me, so I separated my pills in a different room…so it would not happen again.

ECHO….Alexa comes to the rescue! I know that you may think an Echo for a senior that is not into using tech stuff is nuts. But I am telling you….it is important. All you have to do is buy it, install it and teach them how to use it. OK, I can see the look on your face from here. But we are talking about something important and your time to keep your parent informed and safe.

Echo/Alexa can play music from an era that your senior enjoys and remembers. This can be a great way to calm them down in the 4’oclock Sundowners time…and get them ready to rest in the evening. It can also automatically read books from the Kindle platform so your senior can enjoy books without worry of having to read them and hurt their eyes. It can hook up to the door and allow the senior to see who is at their door and allow delivery people to actually get in with an unlock code to place deliveries inside the senior’s home. Please take time to really think over what Echo can do…its a good thing for us all! Alexa also can remind a senior over and over again with timers, turn off times and general knowledge. It also has the ability to remind the senior to take their pills. Pill Time is a free app or “skill” just go ahead and read about it at the Amazon site….its great!!

MEDISAFE – pill reminder app for both types of cell phones. Easy to use and very reliable. This app just gets better and better as you use it…please go and visit their site to get the idea.  Click here. 

MED MINDER – is a pill reminder system. You can choose the different level of pills reminders – it can be a one-time pill container purchase or you can add a monthly fee to make it into an interactive service. Best Click here that you take a look and see how it would fit your needs. 


PILL PACK – Click here….you will love this idea – it has the pills all pre-packaged and they remind the senior and you do nothing. Perfect if you do not live close to your senior. It is how they order their medications. So go to the site and see it to believe it…I love it!

Now something that few people think about. You need to shop for your pharmacy for your pills. I like using Walgreens…but you will have different places near you. You want to make pills easy…so if they are sent to your house that is the best. But are they safe for a senior to go and get the pills? Could they be stolen from the mailbox…that makes things horrible! Because you only get insurance coverage for a month…missing pills have to be paid in full to replace. Now, the point is…take a list of your pills and call around to get the low price. You can do this through your insurance site or on the phone.

You can also use a simple app for your cell (Click Here) that will locate the lowest price outlet for each of your prescriptions. It’s called GoodRx.  But, this means you will be running around town to get the best price on each Rx. If you want to save money, this is a great choice.

Better and easier is to use a pharmacy that you can drive to each month and get your pills. Don’t forget to check COSTCO and WALMART they have good prices and usually require a 90-day prescription from your doctor for the best price. Ask questions…find out…don’t throw medication money away.

Here is the secret: You have to ASK them to explain their pill prices and about their monthly reminder software that will help you reorder the prescriptions. You have a variety of ways to use these different software systems. Some of them you scan the pill container and it sends in the re-order. Some of them have your prescriptions on their computers and they call you and say; “Your Rx orders are available today after 2PM.” They are all different and they each have good things to help you save money and make the actual re-fill system as easy as possible. Take time to do the homework. You can save hundreds of dollars and loads of time. It’s worth your research time.

REMINDER APPS AND SERVICES….Rx low prices and ways to quickly re-order and pick up the full list of Rx’s every month. It may be something you have not had to do in your own life. But, it will be something that you do each month with your senior caregiving roll….so it’s worth taking time to match your own needs to your senior’s needs. Take time to teach them the pill reminder system so they use it with confidence and be kind to re-teach over and over again until they understand how to use the app or system. Remember if the price is important…many times a small pharmacy in a smaller area can be really a good price. You can also ask around your town and find the pharmacy that sells pills to care centers, they usually have a small shop that simply does the large senior care facilities and they will sell to you for almost a wholesale price. Your time could save you so much money. Talk to friends…talk to locals and find a place that is easy on you. If you have to spend extra time driving to get a good price…maybe the price is not worth your time. Work this out with your senior ahead of time…so the system is really comfortable for you both.

This is how you and your senior keep medications and supplements in order and in an easy to use a system that you choose or create. Good luck…this was always one of my chores that I did not enjoy…now the systems have gotten so great…it makes it easier for both you and your senior to stay healthy and happy…no more “I forgot to take it”  😉

Blessings on the time you always give to your senior…this stuff adds up and up during your years of senior care. It may seem overwhelming…but if you just take each problem and give it some time and research…you will find easy ways for you to always give good care. francy


Keep Your Senior Safe at Home


Ideas to keep your senior safe at home by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; Mother seems to have weak legs and she has fallen a few times just getting out of her chair. I have tried to get her to exercise but she will not do anything without me doing it with her. Do you have ideas?

Keep Safe Senior tray, basket or caddy by their side.

Boy, do I get it! It seems that seniors get into a place that doing anything on their own, is a danger or confusion.Their way of coping is to stay put…in their chair. So, you will find that more and more you will have to insert yourself into their daily routine. Now, if they are in your home…we can work with it…but if they are in their home…you have to increase your visits to a minimum of three to four times a week. I would say…every other day is a must for seniors that are showing signs of worry or disorientation and the visits should last two hours. So plan to either do it yourself or have other family or paid help; set up a schedule to check on your senior.

The problem I had; I and my senior mother and later my husband were not well to do. We did not have funds to have others do the general “check-in” care. This is the real first stage of caregiving for your seniors. It can creep up on you and last for a couple of years before the problems increase so much that you need to bring the senior into your own home, move in with them, find a live-in boarder or find a place they can live, safely.

Don’t panic…not all seniors have the need for “over-see visits” so often. My dear friend, Kim has parents in their 90’s and they do well on their own. But their meals are getting dicey. It’s really hard for elders to cook and or cook well. Remember a banana and peanut butter is not a meal!!! So she took care of the problem with food delivery…I have asked her to do a blog for us. She will tell you her hints and tricks – in a later post 😉

So back to the falling problem. There are so many things you can do and I have talked about it often in my blogs. Please go up to the top of the page; in the search box — type in Falling….it will bring up other ideas from other posts.

Now, I learned a neat thing from a physical therapy person, years ago. The calf muscles are very important to prevent falls. And it does not take a fancy daily exercise routine to change them. But the every-other-day of movement (for the calf muscles) will keep them stronger. When you think about it…the calf muscles do work our legs….so let us talk exercise.

  1. CALF MUSCLES: With legs straight, up on the ottoman or lounger chair lifted-up position. (And Or) while they are laying in bed with legs straight, works too. Senior takes turn pointing feet and then pulling them up into a flex foot position. Really point and really flex, no pansy stuff, the calf muscle has to work on this one. Do this for a count of 20. Down, up, down, up and keep the legs straight as they do this exercise. Then switch to the feet making outside circles with the ankles. Count of 20. Then circle them in the opposite direction; turning them inside for 20 rounds. Just get them to do this as often as they can, once a day…great…a few times a day…like each time they go to the bathroom and return to their chair they repeat is fab!
    The second set; is to go in the kitchen. Morning is perfect for this calf stretch. Hold onto the counter with both hands. Perfect to do when you are waiting for your water to heat for coffee or tea to be ready. Face the sink and hold onto the counter and have your feet under your hips with legs straight, then just sink down about five inches and then straighten up …down and up. In Ballet its a demi-plie or small dip. Feet stay flat on the floor and your bottom is tucked under. You or the senior just dips down and straightens up. Continue this for 20 counts. This is a routine that you can do with them ….or call them on their cell and do it via face to face each day. You can do it every other day…or daily. It will be a remarkable change in those muscles for such a small time and energy output. Remember to make it your thing; “they” are helping YOU to remember to move. Seniors respond to helping you easier than thinking you are helping them. Participate with a smile and a cheerleader voice tone…not a nasty you are a pain in the bottom voice tone!
  2. OVERALL EXERCISES: There are many exercises that you can use for your senior so, make an appointment with a physical therapy person to give you about five or ten a day for your senior – it really helps. There is another thing that people forget. Ask your doctor to give you a prescription (Medicare, Medicaid and or insurance should help with this billing) for an Occupational Therapist to visit the senior’s home, or where they are living. You must be there when this happens. It will rock your caregiving boat! The OT will go around the house and make suggestions on how to help your senior. They will point out places to add handles on the wall to steady the senior with movement transitions. Like the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. They will change the path the senior uses to walk around the house. They may want their TV chair moved or things removed from the carpet or cupboards in the kitchen. This is a gift of experienced eyes to you and your senior. PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN!!

My tabletop drawer and box keeps my pens, lip gloss and such at my fingertips. No up and downs; I can be calm and just relax.

OK now that you have done the basics. Let’s chat about a change that even I do these days. It’s getting your senior; man or woman, a little basket, tray or caddy next to their favorite chair.  Here you can see that I have a box on top of a small table top drawer. I keep things inside that I need. My notebook, pens, scissors, lip gloss, Kindle, TV remote, etc. This means that once I sit down to watch TV or read, I am in my chair relaxed. I don’t have to jump up for Q-tips, or my tea, I have it at my fingertips. This means CALM..less stress, less up and down from my chair. This means less chance of falls. It also means a calming. The senior knows where the little personal creams, tissues or notes are kept. Their own spot for their own things. No losing things or hunting for them. Less stress, fewer worries, less opportunity to fall getting-up to find often used items. This was a key calm button for both my mother and my Georgie…and now me! I live alone now and need to be aware of my own safety.

Adding a new slim shelf w storage was helpful for me. It was less expensive than a fancy side table. I put it together myself…funny and yet it works!

Its often just little fixes that make a big difference to caregiving for your senior. Things that bring them calm are of high value. Getting them to make a thermos of coffee or tea to keep next to their chair so they can top off their hot drink without running to the kitchen. A special place for the remote that keeps it safe not lost on a daily basis. A place to put their cell phone and a place for their pills. I know that each home is designed for special appearance and this might totally change the “Look” of the living room or bedroom suite. But you have to “Think” what is going to work, not what is going to look pretty. You can do it….it may be another project when you are juggling a busy life, but its time well spent. Get your senior’s input for the chair caddy. You can use a basket or purse organizational caddy but get something that the senior will be able to see and lift to find their goodies inside.

I want to appreciate and thank you for your kindness to your senior. As I age and live alone, I would love to have someone to call for help. But I have lost my immediate family. So, its even more important for me to be prepared, not be afraid to ask for help and to know how to call for help if or when I might need it. Life changes; we all are marching ahead and have to face this in my own daily routine. Often seniors forget how lucky they are to have the blessings and thank you, for all you do…francy

Does Your Senior Know Fall is Coming?


How to note changing seasons for seniors in care by francy Dickinson

fall door decor

Dear Francy; Mom is hot, she is usually, always cold and now she is hot. She is wondering if I can take her to the old family cabin. We sold it years ago — So, she is just sitting in front of the TV and does not want to go outside at all. She fussed with her bath lady and she is a grump.. Ideas? 

Labor Day is change of season for me. I always make changes. Even though I live on my own now and no one will see my decor I do the change for myself to honor the season changing. I change the Garden Banner into one that has pumpkins on it so when you are sitting outside you see the fall decor. I bring out some of my fall things for the house and go around and just place things here and there that represent fall. I buy small pots of mums and put them out on the front porch. (A perfect thing for the senior to do!)

Sit your man, or woman senior at kitchen table and bring in some plastic bags to protect the table. Have your pots of small mums on the table and help them put the small pots into a larger basket or pot for decor by the front door or the small patio. The actual hands in dirt is very relaxing for the senior. The potting then tells them the season is changing. They need to take note of seasons so their every days don’t blur.

If they are not able to help you with potting, then bring out the throws and give them a good wash and have the senior help you fold them and decide to put them on the backs of chairs or couch. Talk about the weather changing and let them know the hot late summer will soon be gone.

late fall 09 017Make a pumpkin pie…most of us are very deeply connected with food. Pumpkin pies tells us we are close to fall and gives us a great treat on top of it.

Pick up Pumpkin Pie lattes at the coffee shop and make a big deal about them. The senior will enjoy the treat and get the picture of fall coming.

If your senior is in a care facility…go over and sort through their summer clothes and bring a big plastic bin with fall clothes. Make your change. Leave them a few cool tops, but slip in longer sleeve shirts and sweaters. Get their closet cleaned out and let them see and feel the change in what they are wearing. I love the vacuum bags you can buy for clothes. It makes storage of your senior’s wardrobe all compressed down and easy to wash and store in the garage or closet of your home without taking up much room. You do not have to take a closet from your own house to hold Grandma’s clothes…you can just put them into the bag and vacuum it down into a nice thin storage bag that you can see thru to locate anything you need. Its a winner and they are reusable. Click here for bags. 

Make a big deal about fall outings. Don’t just watch football, make the football game a celebration, with your senior. My dear friend Bob, gave me a Seahawks throw, I get a kick out of having it…even though it does not change the world…it changes my feeling of fall and involvement in the team. Drive to the park and sit and look at the leaves changing color, go to the local market and let the senior see the pile of pumpkins. Change your seniors purse, or tech bag that they use by their chair.

Seniors love candy…so change the candy dish to some fall looking candy….it all starts to combine the season in their minds. They may forget it the next day…but it goes into their mind and will calm them and show them that seasons are moving. Life is important everyday, it does not just become days rolling into days.

Don’t forget that fall is flu shot season. There are newer over 65 flu shots this season…make a trip to your local Walgreen’s for a flu shot. No appointment needed. You do not have to go all the way into the doctor’s office. Walgreen’s take insurance and the shot is of no cost with medicare and supplement combo. If you are a primary caregiver to little ones or seniors…get your flu shot too! We do not need to have a horrible ending to a sweet life over the flu going into complications and changing the abilities of any senior in care. I just got mine and it was easy as pie.

Why am I hungry for a pumpkin pie now? Blessings, francy



Tips for Seniors, living alone..from francy


Ideas to cope with living on your own as a senior or caring for a senior on their own. by francy dickinson


Mother, Toots,  with her Grandson Dan visiting and leaving her happy!

Dear Francy; I just left my mom’s place, we are on our way out of town for a long weekend. She seemed so lonely, but did not want to come with us. Should I push her to join us? 

I have been dealing with my own loneliness lately and I wanted to chat about it and share my thoughts. I personally have gone through lots of changes in the last few years, I lost my husband, I lost my home and I moved out of my home town area. I still live close, but its a highway- drive of about an hour to visit old friends and family and I am not really enjoying that drive. So, I have tried to make my new experience more comfortable for myself and keep myself busy with new things.

My mother always told me to live my life like I was going to have company that day. She was a woman that lost her husband at 62 and she kept working till she was 70. At 71 she moved out of her very large family home to live above my sister in a newly constructed upstairs apartment. She was there until she was 83 sharing life with her daughter, Charline. They had loads in common and were not just family but dear friends. They both lived alone and they shared their time working in a wonderful garden area they had created. They often shared dinners, they drove around to specialty nurseries on the weekend and mother had a life-long group of friends that she did things with…like play cards.

My sister shocked us all at the age of 55; when she found out she had cancer and in just a short few months passed away. At 83 my mother was crushed and totally alone. Not only did she lose a daughter but she lost her dearest friend. Not only did she lose her, but the house was in Charline’s name and went to her sons. So mother was left alone and without any investment money to make changes in her life. She was lucky to keep living in her upper apartment area free, because her grandson was kind and generous to her. But it was always a stress for her to know she had no where to go. She had a very small monthly income and her older age and health challenges really started to add up to problems for her. I was her care giver in those days and I really worried about her emotions when loneliness seemed to over take her. I would visit every other day and take her around to appointments and do things like shopping and eating out. But basically she was at home on her own.

It took her a couple of years of grief and then she started to work out of her sadness. What I noticed is how organized she stayed and how cheerful she then faced life. Lately, I find myself in her position. I have a small monthly income and my change of circumstances and having no children of my own has given me a lot of time on my own at home. But I have tried to remember mother’s tips for her lifestyle that continued until her death at 100 years.

  1. Keep your home cleaned as if you were expecting guests. Keep coffee and tea with treats ready to share with them and air out the house so it smells good to anyone stopping by. Just those little things make a difference in your day. I put things away at night to allow myself to wake up to a home clean and happy looking. No piles of magazines or pop cans, I put things away. It makes me feel free of stress when I do that daily.
  2. Keep a pet, it allows you to have someone to care about and talk to and it brings your spirits up. I have a little Bichon, named Missy and a cat, named Dottie. Mother always had a small dog…but you know a bird or fish are just as enjoyable. Adopting senior pets is a kind and loving thing to do…give it a try. It will pay back with love a million times.
  3. Keep your hair and your body as well kept as you can. My mother was not into grey hair, she had been a lovely auburn hair girl all her life. So when she aged she kept a light strawberry blonde on her graying hair. It kept her happy to see her hair look good in the mirror. She used to say her aging was really quite surprising to her. She would walk past a mirror and not know who that person was. So, I get my hair done and I get my toes and fingernails done, too. That way I feel in the swing of things and ready to hit the grocery store looking together and enjoy my appearance.
  4. Keep your clothes up to date. You don’t have to over do with buying new clothes, but the idea that you are alone at home and do not need anything new to wear is not a good one. You need clothes to make you feel happy–man or woman and they should fit well no matter what shape your body is in, so make a budget for at least one piece of clothing each month. Shop around to buy something with color and on sale. It gives you a challenge.
  5. Keep a calendar by your TV chair and write down your weekly “To Do’s”. Just because your days are your own, should not mean you are not planning for full days. Even if its a note for a TV show you don’t want to miss. Write it down. If its a family birthday, even a text message is a welcome, if not a card or a gift to shop for and deliver. If its a holiday, there can be a little baking to take to the family event. If you have to drive far, then get a family member to pick you up. Or decide to drive and then stay-over and come home the next day. Your family will make room for you and enjoy the visit.
  6. Don’t just think you need to eat a little and not worry about food. My mother lived to 100 years, she did that as a healthy woman. That was because she always made sure she ate well. She did not eat a lot, she just planned her meals. She would make stews or soups and freeze some for a dinner later and she ate salads with fish or meats on top. She had her favorite treats and she was in the kitchen because her dog, would not let her forget their dinner.
  7. Keep something green around you. Even if you only have a small apartment, you can have a few house plants or a pot of herbs, by your kitchen window. Watering plants and keeping them healthy is a good pass-time. If you are lucky enough to have a patio then summer pots and winter greens are a must. A nice chair to sit and good book to read…now that is what living alone allows you, time to spoil yourself.
  8. Move. Mother always exercised each morning. It does not matter what that means to you…make it easy but make it a daily requirement. I remember one of my great aunts had terrible arthritis and she told me one day, that if she did not stretch out her arms and legs every day, even if she was not feeling well, they would freeze and she would lose the ability to use them. Stretching is the most important of all…but walking around your house or down the street is a gift you give to yourself. Its a personal choice how well you are in your senior years, so it takes a strong commitment to loving yourself to be well for year after year. The alternative is losing your independence …so its worth your personal investment.
  9. Do things that make you happy. I have some British TV that I like, so I make sure I watch makes me happy. I also enjoy our local Seahawk football team. August is a joy to me….football comes back. I take note of the game times and I watch them with gusto. I like to go to concerts in the park and listen to jazz. I like to see movies when they strike me as fun, I love to walk around museums and have lunch with my friends.  What is your enjoyment? Is it time with your grand children, is it holidays with family, is it sitting in the sunshine? Make time for your own joy!
  10. There is a difference in having a sad day and having a very sad week after week. If you find that you are immersed in feeling alone; go to your doctor and talk to them about your emotions. You know your brain can get out of order and chemically be off? Medications can help you get back in the right mood and keep you feeling up and ready for action. So if you feel you don’t want to bother doing things…get into the doctors office and have a chat with them…let them help you. Its as important as having heart issues or sugar diabetes…its a chemical change in your brain and you need to get it attended to as soon as possible. Keeping well, taking your medications, drinking water and eating real food…is how your life will take a turn to enjoyment, not just days following days. Live like you are going to have a guest that day, clean up your home, and your own body and be ready. You deserve having things in order and a delight for your eyes.

Remember no one makes you happy. You make you happy. You have to work on finding things to make you feel joyful and loved. Don’t think you are too old to fuss…because in a few months you will be even older. It is not age, it is your life…live it one day at a time and enjoy the ride. Life does not have to be a non-stop fun fest, but it should be a lovely ride that brings you feelings of safety and joy. Blessings, francy



Summertime Tips for Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s Seniors


Ideas to help in advanced stage dementia for seniors; by Francy Dickinson

Summertime can be both uplifting and totally draining for seniors that are going through dementia. So to help you, as the caregiver, I have some ideas I have found work well.

  1. Heat is not a friend to a senior. Usually as we age we tend to be colder and when you add medications that can change the brain; seniors can be chilled all the time. Make sure the senior wears a light sweater or jacket. Do not turn up the heat in the summer, it is not good for them to sit in a room and get their bodies overheated and dehydrated. Check on them. You do not have to turn on the air conditioner, but using a fan is a must. Make sure the fan is safely put in a place the senior will not knock it down. If they go outside SPF is a must, their skin is very sensitive and needs protection. I like to make sure man or woman that they have a hat and a pair of sunglasses that fit over their regular glasses.
  2. Walking out the door with a walker or behind the senior’s wheel chair is a great idea. A daily walk is so good for the senior. Parkinson’s seniors especially need as much exercise as possible. So if you can get your senior out the door and sitting on the front porch or back yard, have them do some foot circles and point and flex. Ask them to bend their legs and then stretch them out while they sit and get them to  move their arms around a bit. That time in the sunshine, the fresh air and the movement will tire them out and help them have a good afternoon nap. It pays off.
  3. I would always buy flowers for pots and then have George sit at a table and help me plant them in the pots. It was a simple task, but then he had an attachment to the pots of flowers on the deck and I would be surprised how he remembered his potting experience.
  4. Walking the dog with the senior in their wheelchair is a very important outing. The senior tends to go farther with the dog in tow, then they do when you are just trying to get them out the door and down the street for a change of pace.
  5. Always talk to the dementia senior as if they are full of mind. Just talk to them about the summer holidays and let them know the day and time of year. Keeping them involved even when they seem to be so far away is very important. I always had a big calendar with birthdays, events, appointments and holidays on it in the kitchen. Each day we would start by looking at the day…he would often tell me a story about something he remembered from a childhood summer, I always let him talk…any memory is a treasure.
  6. Getting seniors new clothes may seem silly….but summertime, should mean brighter and lighter clothes. A new pair of pants and a couple of new tops, they are refreshing for us all…don’t let the senior get lost in old clothes. If they are in the care facility remember to put their name on the clothes so they get them back to wear, not lost in the may lay of washing in facilities. I would bring their warm clothes home and take summer clothes over to them. So there was no worry about them wearing only one thing over and over.
  7. Old fashioned root beer floats…going out for a dipped soft cone, or having strawberry shortcake are memories that we all have and food often deeply in-beds in the senior’s brain. So think of that when you go and visit next time….take a treat.
  8. Feet are often ignored for seniors…get a good soaking foot tub and have your senior do foot soaks when you visit. Take them out to a nail parlor or senior center once a month for toe nail cutting. The foot soak is very relaxing, add 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1/4 cup Epson salt, 1/4 cup of baking soda and a hit of bubble bath in the hot soaking water. Let them soak for 20 minutes and then dry the feet well and put on clean socks. Not only does this calm them, but their feet feel fresh, if you like…put on some nice skin moisturizer and let them feel good. Its a great treat. (always have them go to the toilet before the soak…or the hot water will cause them to want to go when you have gotten them settled in the soak)
  9. There is no reason not to take your senior to a family summer gathering…just know you will only stay an hour and then bring them home. Keep them in a quiet area out of the sun and let others come and visit them, not the senior roaming around. If you stay longer have a special quiet room they can go and rest in, after a hour. If you keep a dementia senior outside and around family confusion…you will bring home a senior that will be taking a huge leap back in their ability to recover. Don’t set your senior up for failure.
  10. A quiet drive to the local park, water front park, lake, or nice park in the summer is really perfect. Late afternoon or early evening, you drive till you can park and let the senior just absorb the beauty. They often like to go back to their old neighborhood…so you might want to visit their childhood home, or early marriage neighborhood. Let them see and feel things…ask them questions about the old days…just let them talk. A good rule is 45 minutes is the safe time to enjoy an event and then move on. A short, sweet time out of their day…to change their mind-set so they can go back home and sleep well.

Thank you, for all you are doing. All of us that share care giving understand the many  ups and downs of your life. I wish you strength and patience. Blessings, francy



End of Care Days thoughts…from francy


End of life thoughts by francy Dickinson


George was quiet with his Kirbee by his side – let your anipals be near

Dear Francy; Dad has been quiet and sleeping most of the time now. He is on oxygen, high pain meds and just moves through the care giving without much interaction. I know he is getting close to passing, what should I be doing now?

The care giving in the final days of your elder are always difficult. For some the fuss of the advanced pain and  more care givers to help you is overwhelming. Some days are so quiet you are worried how to know when someone has actually passed.

Here are some ideas for you:

  1. Just be sure to talk around the person, even if they seem asleep or in a coma. Use your voice to tell them what is happening to them. “Dad, I’m turning you over now.”
    “Mother, I am going to give you a face wash and put on your moisturizer.” Just be you, speak in a normal tone, speak slowly and loud enough for them to hear you. If nothing else; it will give them a sense of calm.
  2. If you are worried about something ASK. Call the care giver line for your care giver team, it has an RN in charge of it and ask for them to call you back. Write down some questions and they will kindly let you know how to handle them.
  3. Say, “I love you.” Often. Right to the end talk and say you love them. I always tell them how much they have done for me and I appreciate all they have done. I say it often and with honesty.
  4. If there is a “wake up day” enjoy it. Many times people will be quiet for a few days and then all of a sudden they rebound and become talkative. I always know that is towards the end. Many times they will be awake longer and talk about memories and things very easily. Just know this is normal and enjoy the moments and the quality of their conversation. Often they will pass just the next day or two.
  5. Ask when medications can be removed. This allows the pill taking to be easier. Palliative care is when only the “comfort medications are given.” You can ask your care team for guidance, but this is a good thing. Not a bad thing. The senior does not have to try to swallow a lot of pills.
  6. Give them easy to swallow and tasty foods. The end of life is no time for a diet, if they want cocoa…get them cocoa.
  7. Make sure family members know things are going down. Even if you have members of family that you personally do not enjoy…let them know. Everyone is to be given a goodbye time…you just remove yourself during their visit and they say what they say. It’s all part of the passing. No regrets, be kind.
  8. Remember to honor their faith or no faith…its not you…its your senior that you honor. If you are into a faith and the senior is not…be kind. Have the minister visit you, then say “HI” to them…not spend loads of time with them when they do not practice your faith. And visa versa, being kind is the key to end of life loving care.
  9. Don’t be afraid to leave them and get some sleep. Passing comes when the senior is ready…allow yourself to eat, bath and sleep. You are a caring person, you deserve to care for yourself.
  10. Try not to worry so…I know I was a mess. But try…this is part of life…yes, its sad and hard, but don’t spend hours crying in the senior’s room before they pass. It does go through to their mind and makes them uncomfortable. They will not rest as easy…energy is the key. Keep your energy calm like you would for a young child that was unwell. Just allow the time with them to ride, have some low music on, read a book out loud, take calls from friends next to their bed and chat on. That is what comes through…an everyday tide of ups and downs.
  11. Take pictures to remember. Write a journal to process your own feelings and drink and eat to keep yourself well.
  12. Allow them to go. Tell them its OK for them to leave. That everyone loves them and if they need to leave, you will be alright. This permission to pass is more important that you can imagine.

Remember your love and care has given your senior a safe and calm life down their path. You have allowed them to feel loved and kept them from feeling alone. You live on, in their honor and you are able to know you gave them your love.

I want to thank you, for your hours, days, months and years….of loving support. May you and your senior find peace in the end. Blessings, francy

Staying Alert Means NO Silver Alert / Protecting Elders


Protecting Elders by francy Dickinson


Mom kept me safe…then, I kept her safe – f.

Dear Francy: This is my own family story. In the 1970’s my Aunt was baby-sitting her two grandchildren. They stayed overnight and she made them lunches and drove them to their elementary school, the next morning. She was never seen alive again. One year later her car was found off an old logging road and her remains found deep in the woods. She had somehow gotten confused and lost. How could that happen? Did her children miss seeing that she was getting older and more stressful and having children over-night was just a step too far? Or did she have a sudden attack of dementia? Did no one notice any warning signs? We were all heart sick. She was a dear lady and did not deserve that life-ending no matter what had happened.


  1. Take note of sudden change in personality. Example; if a person was shy and they now just push their needs onto everyone. Or, if they were chatty and now are very quiet. Change in personal moods are important and you need to write a few notes of examples and give it to the doctor’s office check-in person and ask them to “attach your letter” to the chart. That way the doctor will read it and take note of its significance.
  2. Constant anger over small things. If you are losing power in your body or mind it is frightening. You want to be in charge of your mind…so you automatically push yourself to be right. You make your point, you debate, you push and push until others do what you feel is right. That is what “taking power back” is all about. But this is also a sign that there is something going on in that mind and needs to be checked. A memory test, a talk about early signs of dementia or other mental issues. Ask your health care team to schedule a memory test for the elder and make sure you are all on the same page.
  3. Your elder has slight memory problems but they speak well and still drive. They do chores around the house and they “seem” OK. Yes, they are slowing down and Yes, their projects take longer to finish than they used to…but you do not see any danger in them staying independent. Next thing you know; your dad is taking a left turn. His driving timing is off and he turns right into my car, while I was driving in the opposite direction. Head on crash.
    I was really hurt, when that happened to me. The lady that did that to me had Parkinson’s. She told me she was on medication…as I limped around and checked on a young man with children in the other car she had hit…she was shaking and very upset. Now, I was kind to her…but it upset me that her husband (that came to the scene to bring her home) just protected her. He was telling her not to worry, they had another car at home for her to drive!!! Hello, do not tell yourself lies. If someone is suffering from high pressure of life changes, taking medications that are strong or are mentally confused…they cannot drive. You can write a letter to the driver’s department and tell them to demand that she takes another test to keep her driver’s license. Or, you can make sure no car is available for them to use. Period, subject closed. It is not fair to others and I could have lost my life. My injuries were very upsetting, because I had my Georgie at home, to care for at that time.
  4. Post Alerts in the house. If you worry about dad out in the garage, or mom walking out the front door…take note of new helper tools. There are cameras that can be put on the door bell or inside of the house. There are alarms that ring loudly when a door opens so you can dash to the door and way-lay the elder back to the living room. There are so many things that are new and exciting that I ask you to simply talk to the techie in your family to help you find just what you need.
  5. Can someone help your elder if they are upset or confused? OK, so George would have a drop in mental ability when he was under pressure so I knew I had to get him an ID bracelet early on. Just in case he was to walk away from me in a store or while I was gardening. If someone stopped him…would he know my phone number or my name under pressure? So, I looked and the ID’s were so expensive. Now that has changed. You can get a locator on their own cell phone…or on their fit watch. Tech stuff has really done well for all of us seniors…look it up on the Internet.  I got a simple RoadIDTag that was very inexpensive and has room for their name, your name and phone number – plus I ordered a health tag and added dementia to a line. Go, take a look…get one for yourself, this stuff is important!
  6. When you send your elder to another member of the family…tell them the rules. This happened to me: George had his kids in California. They sent him a plane ticket to come and visit and although he had early dementia, he had showed no signs of getting lost. So, off he went. While there he borrowed a truck to drive while his son was off at work. He drove the truck into town and then got lost. He was clear enough to call his daughter and she came right away to get him and have him follow her home. But it was an eye opener for me, when I had lost my Aunt so long ago. And he was so upset he never drove again.
    I then made sure where ever George went with friends or family…I gave them the “keep him close” talk. Then off he went with two old friends to a Mariner’s game. They had a great time, then he went to the bathroom and never came back. They went into a panic and took most of the ballgame to search for him in the huge ballpark facility. So, that was the end of going away without me telling the person about the need to keep him close. Not to mention; it was really me deciding he could only go if I was with him…because I’m a ninny. But it never happened again. That was long before Silver Alert system…and tech locators. Be smart…be ready…plan ahead. There are so many choices available now…go do home work to be prepared.
  7. Stress can really take a toll on anyone, with or without dementia. So if your elder is under stress keep an extra strong eye on their behavior. Do they have to move? Have they lost a dear friend or loving anipal? Have they taken a fall? Have they started a new medication? Have they had a small procedure like cataract removal, or colon cleaning? If so, be sure you spend time with them. Call them a few times a day, bring them into your home for a short stay…allow them to calm down and get their normal daily routine back into place. If you ignore it all…if you think, its no big deal – YOU ARE WRONG. Stress will pull many elders into a semi-dementia state or a lightly confused state. They could take a fall, take medication incorrectly, get very depressed and send them into other health issues. You have to do some planning and take note of the changes. Share change with health care team and let them inform you of things to look for to give them protected caring.
    I went through a horrible time after I moved from my long time home. Dear friends took me into their home and kept me safe while I calmed down, got feeling stronger, recovered from my grief and was ready to go forward. I was blessed with their kindness. So age is not a barrier from high emotional stress. I needed to be cared for…does your senior need that extra care?
  8. A big fall, a bad burn, the flu, heavy cough, bad allergy season, over doing resulting in sore limbs or excitement over a positive or negative event or visit. All of this can actually take brain cells away from a person. You have a stress kill of brain cells and it takes time to build it all back. Now as a young person, you recover from stress or injury quite fast…but as we all age and then go into advanced age we take longer for those brain cells to reproduce. The doctor told me that George would have six months of extra confusion until his brain could grow the cell structure back and perform at a high level with his dementia. He had had pneumonia and was acting strange. The doctor was so right. George’s over-all brain abilities dipped strongly and I was so worried he would not come back…but he did. Just a few months later he was showing signs of recovery in his abilities. If you know something has happened to your elder…then take note. Maybe extra visits to check on them…or bring them into your house on the weekends, or phone checks more often. You might even want your teen to stay with Grandma for a couple of months and check on her. Think it over…be protective and share it with your health care team.

What is a Silver Alert?

A silver alert is a public notification system in the United States to broadcast information about missing persons – especially senior citizens with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other mental disabilities in order to aid in their being found. You can call your local police department and report your senior missing and they decide to issue the Alert. It will go out to cell phones, highway signs, radio and TV station alerts and your senior will able to be quickly located.

Be Honest with yourself and your family and long time neighbors. When George was diagnosed we had our private time to grieve and then we took action. He wrote a beautiful letter to his dear friends thanking them for their friendship and telling them he was slowly going to slide. He talked to his kids and tried to let them understand it might take years, but he would be different from that time forward. I went around our neighborhood and told them that if they saw George walking alone in front of their home to please go out and get him to come home. Face it…you have to be honest to be safe. George lasted a long time in his slide…we knew what was coming. But we celebrated life as much as we could and I kept him safe. Its pointless to be private with dementia…it is not to be ashamed of…its to be honored, as with the elder’s life’s accomplishments.

Thank you for all you do for your senior. You are a blessing in their life and even if no one else is saying “thank you” – hear it from me. You are walking the walk with an elder so they are not alone in their journey…that is a loving act. Blessings, francy

Give Cheer in the New Year to Elders


How to help your senior feel positive about their future- even in stress. by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; I went over to my Great Aunt’s and put away her Christmas decor. She was happy to see me, gave me Christmas cookies and tea. But she was quiet and showed signs of depression. The house was not clean as it usually was and she had not gone to the store, she was still working on all the leftovers people had dropped off over the holidays. I didn’t know what to do..I did not want to push on her privacy.

Bright colors to denote visits, dr visits, birthdays for senior to see!

Bright colors to denote visits, dr visits, birthdays for senior to see!

It was so kind of you to go over and give her a hand. Sounds like she needs a few more visits to keep her spirits up. I would suggest you push a visit calendar. I devised these for clients. I would sit down at the first of the month with a calendar on my desk and call the elder’s family members and schedule them for visits that month. Every week one or two people would show up for a 20 minute visit. They could bring a treat, a gift or just come and enjoy! I would actually guilt them into the visit. They would put the visit on their monthly calendar and then I would weekly call and remind those on the calendar for the upcoming week. I would remind them how much my client has been looking forward to their visit. At first, everyone felt my busy-body attitude. But after the second month, they knew the routine, they knew no one wanted them to buy a gift or spend time cleaning the house…it was just a friendly visit. It does take a cheerleader to head the routine…are you up for it?

One day, years ago, when I was caring for my own Georgie; he called me “his cheerleader”. My feelings were hurt over the comment. I said nothing about it, but I thought about it. I did not want to be a cheerleader, I wanted to just be me and to be his wife. The care giving was getting overwhelming and I was tired to the bone. But the cheerleader idea went through my mind all that day.

He needed a cheerleader. He was facing serious health issues and dementia, he was trying to keep his life glued together day by day and I was his only touch to the world around him. By that evening, I spent a little time in prayer and told myself…that if I was unable to be the “old wife and lover” that being “a cheerleader” was OK by me. I still loved him dearly and I wanted him to live each day in joy. A close friend had told me one day…”What ever George wants…just let him have it – life is too short for him to be in want.”

It may sound junior high but honestly; from that day forward I was his cheerleader. I tried to think of ways to make him laugh through the rough times. I brought him meals he enjoyed on trays that looked like a fancy restaurant prepared them. I kept him clean and smelling good, with new clothes that were comfy and not looking like old man clothes. I would make TV specials, like going to the movies…with popcorn. Color was important to our surroundings so I would keep bright pillows and napkins in use. The air was kept clean and clear from the medicine and food smells. I also exercised him on a daily basis with kidding and fun music and I made him treats on a weekly basis.

I know the world is not filled with happiness rainbows when you are old and fighting health issues. But, it can be filled with people that make you laugh, kid you about silly things and bring you small or large gifts or surprises that make you smile.

Anyone can call Grandma and tell her something special is on the TV and wait till she changes the channel and then call her back and chat about the show when its over. Anyone can stop by and bring a Starbucks to a Grandpa and sit and talk about the weather. Anyone can go over to Auntie’s twice a month, in the summer and mow a lawn…anyone, even teenage kids that want to be anywhere else in the world. Teaching sharing, caring and loving hearts is what the world is about. You can gift to your charity or faith group, but gifting should always start at home within your family or your neighborhood seniors or the close unit of friends you have gathered over the years.

Fun Bulbs on the Entry or patio

Fun Bulbs on the Entry or patio

Now my tip…for my own upbeat New Year’s beginning? I always go out the door in the beginning of January and go to the store and get a few bulbs that are just poking their heads out of the ground…I plant them by the front door. That way I am able to see the movement, growth and beauty of those plants as the winter swirls around me. I can connect the bulbs with the spring that is coming and the longer days and easier times ahead. Its a small gift to give an elder. But I suggest a bowl of Paperwhite bulbs sitting on the dinning room table will give your elder a feeling of HOPE…its magic!

Simple early bulbs called Paperwhites are in stores now...they herald in Spring!

Simple early bulbs called Paperwhites are in stores now…they herald in Spring!

Thank you for your gift of love to your Auntie…never be afraid of being pushy when you know it will bring a smile from your senior. Blessings, francy

10 Gift Ideas for Grandma or Elder Neighbors


Senior gift ideas by Francy Dickinson


Hard to believe, my nephews, Dan n Jeff have grown families of their own and have helped me so much this last year as I moved out of our family home

Dear Francy; OK so what I wanted to help you with is ideas for gifts for Elders at Xmas…So here it goes…F.


Neighbors need your attention. I am sure you have a few “live alone” neighbors your way. Please do not forget them, even if they are younger…they need to know that others care about them and Holiday time is so hard for those alone.

A small bag filled with a card and sweets is the easy thing…hang on the door knob and leave. You do not have to spend time with them if you do not want to. You can just gift your kindness. Tuck in a little candy, or a few cookies in a Ziplock, a bar of pretty soap, a $5 gift card to Starbucks or McDonald’s. Whatever you do for your gifting of thanks…do it for those that are on their own.

We just lost a gentleman in the neighborhood due to suicide. He had kept care of his wife with Alzheimer’s for years and when she died, he was exhausted and just retreated into his empty life. I did not know him…so I was not aware of any of this and it still hurts my heart. Sometimes, a small chat with a neighbor gives them comfort. So, a gift bag surprise could change a person’s personal outlook on the world…to one of “someone cares about me” or “I belong here”  or even more important “I feel safe here”. Gift your kindness. Even a gift card for some lawn cutting in the summer would be a fun one. Be creative and think about those around you. Gifting to others in formal charities is wonderful, this time of year…but those that are close and alone…they are the perfect place to begin.


Mother enjoyed giving & receiving gifts up to her passing at 100 years of age!

Mother enjoyed giving & receiving gifts up to her passing at 100 years of age!

Always saying; “I don’t need anything.” Is really the truth when you start to age. But getting a gift at holiday time, no matter how small, is a fun thing that everyone enjoys. Here are some senior ideas.

  1. Small bag with card and treats. Sweet tooth’s never die. Seniors love sweets. So a few candy treats, or homemade cookies are perfect. But, your own grocery store has wonderful bakeries that have individual cakes, pies and cheese cakes that come in plastic, easy to gift, containers. They are all decorated and look pretty and give the senior a feeling of being special.
  2. Fruits: Fruits that are special like grapes, berries, cut pineapple, small winter sweet oranges, apples dipped in caramel. These are things that seniors like to “piece on”. Easy for you and a lasting treat that many seniors do not spend money on for their own enjoyment. Obviously, cheeses, deli meats and crackers or specialty holiday breads are also a fun surprise. OH and an old fashion one ~ is dates…nice California dates that are sweet and other dried fruits.
  3. Things for personal: nice soaps that you find in the bath department, something that is handmade is so special for a senior, instead of the usual Dial soap. You could also add new shower mat and a nice big bath towel that’s a great one. Seniors tend to keep their towels and bed linen for years and new ones add a freshness to their lives.
  4. I love gifting hand cream that is special. Goat milk hand cream or healing hand creams. It just is something everyone enjoys using but seldom buy. On that; a new tube of toothpaste and a battery toothbrush. Lots of elders have never tried a battery toothbrush and you can get it all ready and talk about it a bit to take away any worry over its use. That will doll up their day!
  5. A large read-out Atomic clock. George loved his and he had an auto outside temperature read-out on it too. You get the clock and place it where it’s easy to see. You put in the battery and that is that. If you add the outside temp you get a small battery run remote to hang outside your back door. The senior does not have to change or set the clock, it is all done automatically for them each night via the Oregon lab and seniors love it. (No WiFi needed)
  6. Handy tools for the kitchen or the handyman. Now what I mean is this; many older people stop buying kitchen utensils or small tools for their quick repairs. All of these things, have been updated the last few years. A plug-in lite that goes on if the power goes off, it has LED lights and is really bright. A light weight screwdriver that is battery-electric with a few heads or a can opener that is easy for the older hand to use. A plug-in hot water pot, so there is never a forgotten pot left on the stove. These are the thoughtful things that will change the ability for a senior to stay alone in their home or apartment. Maybe a return-again visit and go through and clean out their junk drawer with dividers so they can open it up and find anything they need for quick use. (How many rubber bands can a guy have in a junk drawer? J
  7. New front and back welcome mats. This is a simple fix, but mats that take away the dirt, and keep the wet from coming into the house on the carpet…it’s a big deal. Bet your senior has not changed theirs’ in years.
  8. Plastic glides for under chairs or heavy furniture. If the senior has a favorite chair, can they even move it? Probably not; it’s now too heavy for them. These simple chair glides will help them move around the big table or chairs they use often. (Ace Hardware has them)
  9. A holder for their cell phone. Seniors tend to lose their cell phones even in small spaces. I little holder for the cell phone is perfect. Taking time to add new phone numbers or make sure their smart phones are organized and not confusing is also so helpful. Don’t forget Jitterbug makes phones for seniors that are easy to see as well as use.
  10. Led and long lasting light bulbs. This is a really, great thing. Seniors often have trouble with changing lights. How about you bring over a few of the newer long life lights and do a few replacements of lights that are needed and used the most. Front porch, kitchen lights, light by their TV chair, bathroom lights…this is a very thoughtful gift and will be appreciated for years to come. Even if it is a simple one, its important. Keeping seniors off step ladders is a must, so this is a life-savor too!

Seniors do not need fancy things, expensive things or another sweater. They need things that they use every day and that need updating. I once brought over a shower curtain liner and put it up for my mom with a new bath tub mat. She could have never done the shower curtain it was too much for her to stretch. She called me and thanked me for weeks after. She said that she did not realize how dingy her old ones had gotten and how she enjoyed the new ones so much. Simple shower curtain liner…hello, who knew that would make me her favorite daughter? (OK, it didn’t my sister Merrilee was her favorite, but it gave me points!

Gift Holiday cheer and love to your loved ones and neighbors…and thank you for care giving your time to others. It’s a very kind gift to give your love, time for a chat and tea together with a senior. Just picking up a Starbucks coffee and bringing to the senior and spending a half hour in chat is a gift that lasts.

Blessings on your holidays…f.

Grieving at Christmas


Handling grief at holiday time by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy: I am going through my second holiday without my husband and its tough. I have a few friends that are going through similar feelings and I thought I would share some feelings with you. f.

Memory Snap Shot

Memory Snap Shot

There is no time frame to grief. I have known and listened to stories of spouses remarrying within a few months of a loss and then those that never find another mate. My mother was without her husband for forty-eight years. There is simply no rule to the time of healing and adjusting to loss; a tough divorce, moving away, loss of a job or home and of course; death of a dear and close loved one or partner. The rules go out the window. So, each of us have to try to make it through the woods on our own. Creating our own healing time-frame and finding small and large ways to restructure our life patterns to form a new life for our own self. That is why I share with others that their loss and my loss are totally different. Therefore, no comparison is available. But the pain, the loneliness and the unsettling in each of our lives is certainly a bridge of understanding and its shared by all of us walking through those woods.

George's Memory Tree

George’s Memory Tree

This is my second Christmas without my Georgie. Last year, I was in our family home and did the decorating as usual. I used George as my theme…and printed up pictures of him at different times in his life and decorated the tree with a sense of love and joy. I had friends over for holiday dinner and used my china and made my special recipes. I love to bake; so I did my usual baking of Biscotti and gifting it to friends and family. I missed my guy with all of my heart but I went through the motion of festivities because it gave me a sense of security to stick to the plan.

This year; I am not in my home that I shared for so many years with Georgie. I am living with friends for a while and they are too busy to decorate for Christmas. They are not into baking or into any of the many traditions that George and I had taken on to express our love of the holiday season. So, its quiet here. I have time to think back on lots of holidays and reflect on what I want to do in the forward motion of my life. I have time to rest and not do the crazy run around for gifts, food and parties. Its something different for me, not bad, just different. But my heart aches for my guy and our old ways.

I have a dear friend that lost her husband around the time I lost Georgie. She too has moved out of her long time home. She is settling into an apartment lifestyle and is in the process of adjustment, as I am. We share our memories of years of fun and love with our mates and I think it helps both of us…to talk about things…work through things in our minds by sharing.

I would say that having a friend that shares a similar loss in their life to talk to, is very helpful. If that is not something you have in your life; try to find a support group that would fit your own needs. When you can talk about yourself and then help others through their hard time, it really does makes your own pain feel controllable. When you keep all your thoughts and feelings inside and only have an on-going personal discussion with yourself…the pain can and will overwhelm you. Why try to pretend you are not sad or lonely for the sake of friends or family…it hurts only you. I am not saying that you escape the pain, but support and comfort from others allows you to express the sadness and more or less flush it out. Instead of getting stuck in thoughts that circle around and around again.

Safety, is what I think I miss. Somehow I felt safe with my Georgie around. Even when he was extremely ill and could not have really saved me from anything or anyone…just his presence allowed me to feel, safe. Therefore, if you were asking me what is the hardest thing about his loss? It would be my feeling of safety is missing. I can not put the feeling into words. But on a daily basis I am faced with actions, decisions, and schedules that are presented to me and there is no one behind me to support my own decisions. I suppose they would be the same decisions with or without George there…but his energy and love always gave me a feeling of confidence, that I was free to make a good choice. Now, I fuss over things and worry over my choices.

When I talk to my friends that are going through the same situations of loss over their spouse. I find it comforting to know they too have similar feelings. So, in a strange way, it helps me. Not to change my choices or my life decisions…but to know that its a stage that we are all going through, not just me. Those stages of grief that are printed and talked about…just so you know. They are just a suggestion of a progression through pain of loss. You do not have to go through those stages in order, or timely. You may skip feelings and then hover on other feelings. Its OK, we are not all cupie dolls walking through the same experience. So, do not be worried over the death experts…just allow yourself to feel and be as you go. No rules, no guilt. Maybe you feel nothing, maybe your relationship is tucked in perfectly. Maybe your personal beliefs have you and your loved one on a very accepted path and you are able to let your sadness go. Each of us, have our our walk through the woods. There is no rule…so do not stress. If you have an after-life belief go with it. But if you don’t…there is plenty of time to build your own.

I used to wake in the morning with George beside me in our big bed. Just as the sun was coming in the window, the room was so quiet and George still asleep. The two dogs and two cats all curled up between us and sleeping. I would look over and see them all and will myself to take a mental snap-shot of the scene. I knew it would change…so I wanted to hold on to it as long as I could.

Now, when I wake I often close my eyes again and recreate that snap-shot. Listening to the breathing of George and our little ones and feeling them all close. George is gone, so is one of our dogs and one of our cats. The scene is no longer there…but in my mind’s eye I still hold that early morning feeling of love. I still remember how I wanted that scene never to end and I take comfort in reviewing it in my mind.

I have no answers to my own future. I wish comfort and love for me as the time moves on. But I try to live each day. I don’t stay in bed…I get up and move. I try to eat well, I try to sleep well. I give my little dog and cat my love and keep them on a daily routine. I write each day, I call family, friends and clients each day. I shop for good food and remembrance gifts and cards. I have a journal that I share my fears and joys in and it helps keep me on track. Even if I am down, I try to reach out and chat with friends and family. I guess I am trying to just keep in motion. So the positive life changes for my future can happen from any direction.

My walk in the woods has just begun. Maybe yours has not even started yet…but know that when you get to the woods, they do not have to be dark and scary. The woods are filled with tall quiet trees that reach out and support you. The woods has ferns and plants that give it a carpet and sounds of birds and small animals that send you energy along the way. It is not a bad or end of the world walk, its just a stroll. Each of us has to take it. If you reach out and talk to a friend that understands or join a group that supports you…the walk will be lighter. I wish that for both of us.

My Missy with our little Kirbee, that left us this year.

My Missy with our little Kirbee, that left us this year.

What ever you choose to do on your holiday, make time to do for others. That is how we heal; by turning around and giving a hand-up to another.

Thank you for your gift of care giving your loved one. Blessings, on your holiday. francy

Ten Tips to Make Your Senior’s Holiday Perfect!


My Georgie w guests at our table -Nice Times

My Georgie w guests at our table -Nice Times

Dear Francy; I have personally been under the weather lately with a nasty cold. I am usually on my own so when I visited a home with children I was exposed to a cold bug. It has taken me down and I have had to really fight to get well. So, take note and remember that seniors do not have the resistance to fight off “kid bugs”. Do not bring little ones to Grandma’s if you even think, they are getting a bug. I wanted to share how to handle holidays with your seniors…its easier than ever with the help of the Internet.  So here is a review of the things to keep in mind. Blessings on all of us who give care to our family members…its a big task to take on, but it represents the kindness and love you share with others…Thank YOU! f.


  1. If your senior is out of town. Call today and order a Thanksgiving dinner to be delivered. Then let the senior know it’s coming; so they can invite a friend to join them. The dinners come in 2-4-6 and more so just pick a portion size that would give them a dinner with left-overs for great turkey sandwiches.
    Go online and look up “Turkey Dinners Delivered, Home Town” and up will pop, a few grocery stores, cafes, senior centers and such and you can choose. If your senior wants to go “out” to dinner. Find a senior center that will be serving and then call a cab company and make arrangements for a home pick-up. If the area is too small. Call the local community church and ask the pastor to guide you. The pastor will know what is available and tell him if he would arrange it, you would kindly send a

    Pies Ready for holiday dinner

    Pies Ready for holiday dinner

    gift to the church as a thank you. There is always a way…be creative. A dear friend of mine sent me a Christmas dinner box; when I was in the middle of caring for George one year. It meant the world to me. All I had to do was warm it up and we enjoyed it. No muss – no fuss. DO IT!

  2. Don’t give seniors a long day. If you are bringing the seniors to your place for dinner, limit the visit time. Pick-up should be an hour before dinner, then figure, dinner and one to two hours after dinner. Then take them home. For a senior that is not used to interacting with lots of people, they can only take so much time and use so much of their energy before they go downhill. They will wilt on the vine, if you don’t make their time easy, fun and fast…so they are home with a turkey sandwich in their hand for later and an extra piece of pie. They will rest and recall the lovely day you have gifted them.
  3. If you are visiting and bringing the senior dinner. Take over the teens and make sure they are healthy and just stay about 45 minutes. Long enough to get their dinner in place, chat with them about family things and then leave. Seniors do not have the energy to handle long visits with multiple people. But they love them….so be kind, make it fast but enjoyable for them. (I always use a glass pie plate to put the dinner in. It’s deep and holds a lot of food and can either be heating in the oven or microwave.)
  4. Leaving town? Make the holiday dinner before or after your return. Even if it is a dinner out. Let the senior know you love them by making your own holiday. Just because you go away for fun… they do not. Don’t leave them without a holiday meal and family memories.
  5. Live out of town? Then be sure your senior knows how to use SKYPE. I have a neighbor and dear friend with an elderly sister in New Zealand…well at least that is what they tell me. Because every time I go over…the phone rings and the sister is calling on SKYPE. The two sisters just chat away and enjoy their time together and they feel close and happy. Its like they are living two blocks away from each other. Its very sweet to watch. Gift that closeness to your senior. Either you or someone you know, goes over to the senior’s and sets-up the older computer on a phone and you just keep it for SKYPE. It will be so appreciated and fun for the senior. Don’t let them say they are afraid of the computer, make it work and let them practice over and over so you and your senior can be close even if there are thousands of miles between you. PS Lots of retirement centers now have SKYPE set up for their guests too.
  6. Holidays are family and family is tradition. So, take dad with you to get your Christmas tree…call mom and ask her, for the 100th time, how she makes her stuffing. Include your senior in the actual planning of the holiday and it will mean more to you and to them.
  7. Record the stories. It’s the stories you miss when an elder passes away. Stories
    1960's holiday w Grandma Mary n her GGGrandkids!

    1960’s holiday w Grandma Mary n her GGGrandkids!

    of people long gone and stories of how the world was many years before. Stories that young family members need to hear and to know. That way we all keep our web of history and we have our own feeling of belonging to our family, town and country. Record the stories at the dinner table. Make it a habit to put a phone out on the table with the record button on. Set it close to the elder in the family and then push the conversation around the table about Thanksgivings long ago. When other grandparents were alive, when the children were tiny and when life was different is what you want to hear. Those recordings can be saved on and listened to for years and generations to come. It’s your own family treasure.

  8. Ask Grandpa to “help” you carve the turkey. Ask Grandma to “watch” you make the gravy. When you are older, people tend to do for you. You lose the feeling that you know something or can do something. Let your elder know; they have the ability to help you. My Grandma would come the day before the dinner and she would polish the silver and set the table. She really enjoyed it. She could sit and do it the silver. She could take her time doing the table, but when it was done, it was her’s. My mother was always grateful. They could talk while they worked and mom got out of polishing silver! What could your elder do?
  9. Food is a bridge to history in the family. Maybe your family is into a different diet than your elders, but still put something out that they remember. The good old fashioned green bean casserole with mushroom soup, or sweet potatoes with marshmallows topping may be off your list. But it could make your grandma’s dinner special. Remember traditions and honor the elders with a bit of extra work to present to them so the dinner is comforting.
  10. Keep the drinking, smoking, weed or whatever until the elders are taken home. No one will drop over if they wait until grandpa is taken home before they light up. It’s a kindness that families must adjust to when habits change. Interactions with family members can be heightened when people are using substances, so keep it calm and easy so the elder goes home happy…not upset and worried for the week to come. Be kind…it may be the last holiday you have with your senior. Take pictures, do hugs, sing songs, be silly…. life is too short not to do family things that bring everyone a smile.
Sister, Merrilee making her famous turkey gravy...Yumm!

Sister, Merrilee making her famous turkey gravy…Yumm!

Happy Holidays everyone…thank you for all the care giving you have gifted to your loved ones this year. We are all grateful you are there…francy


Tips for Moving Grandma into Smaller Digs


How to move a senior into smaller housing and keep them happy…francy

 Dear Francy; I moved my Grandma into an assisted living. She had been in her family home for forty-two years. The change was hard and she argued with us all through the move.She is now in her new studio apartment. She is unhappy, lonely and her health is going down hill. How can I help her with the transition? 

New Surroundings for a Senior are Hard to Handle

First, you can just allow her to be calm and adjust. It will not happen in a week or a month, it will take a while for her to get into the swing of not having her things around her and giving up her privacy. Make sure you,or someone you appoint, goes to visit her each week. Make a plan of action before you go and bring a little something to brighten the senior’s space and fits into the season. Let her feel your sincerity and forget the hurt feelings…they will happen. The point is; you go forward and you keep the dialog open — your Grandmother can not change her situation and you have to respect her upset and continue your support of her.

Make Plans before the Move

Almost all seniors eventually have to move from their family home. Yes, if they are well to do and have a good income they can stay there longer…but most senior men and woman face this change, at a hard time in their lives. So, have your “open ears” on as you visit and care for them. Listen to what they love and and ask about different things in the house. Is there a special family picture they feel closer to than others?. A picture of a time in life that they want to remember forever. Is there a special chair or table they have had for years and enjoy? What do they do each day that they enjoy? Does your Dad still go out to the garage where his tools are, maybe just to stand there in comfort? Does your Grandma still enjoy making cookies or fixing coffee for you when you arrive? Does your Grandpa read about the war years and have books around him? Does your Mom water her houseplants and talks about missing her big garden? Take notice–write your self a few notes for the future.

Ideas for the Change

If you don’t really know your senior well…talk to a friend or older family member and ask them. “What do you think that Grandma would really want to see on the wall or have around her everyday when she moves?” Get input. I have a case that the senior was a hoarder and her two sons took her out of her small home to rescue her and place her into a clean and safe assisted living. But they did not bring anything of hers…no pictures no chair, not even clothes. Now, I get the frustration of that special situation but you have to keep the comfort of the senior in your mind.They are making the last move of their lives…they need things to ease them into that situation. The opposite can happen if you try to crowd a studio apartment with too much stuff….so just take time to think it over.

  1. Take pictures of the old house. Inside and out. If the senior is home sick you can bring your laptop over and show her a nice slide show of her home and her rooms. Close up of pictures on the wall of all the family and inside closet shots of things the senior may miss. You do not have to rub their noses in their past life…but you can have it ready for them, if they need it.
  2. Just because they leave their old bedroom behind for a hospital bed in a small room…does not mean you can not take their bed spread, quilt or favorite pillow or throw. Comfort for an elder is sleeping, so having things on their bed that reminds them of safety and their old home is very helpful.
  3. Sort over clothes by season. Only take clothes that are clean and in good shape. Divide them into large air compression bags or nice see through storage boxes. Keep them in your garage and each season take their clothes over to them…take out the winter items from their closet and take them home to launder and put dryer sheets in the box to keep them smelling fresh. Add a few new pieces of clothing like fresh undies and shoes for the season. That way they have changing wardrobe in a small closet.
  4. Take a favorite family photo and one of just their spouse and have them blown up. You can do this on the net or at a local copy shop. Blowing up photos to good size posters keeps the room feeling clear but filled with memories…it will allow them to see the photo well and have something sweet to remember their children, grand children and spouse.
  5. Get nice new sheets and then towels for the bathroom and keep a hanging kit for their shaving things or their make-up. Yes, even elders want to feel fresh and look good when they go down to the group dinner table.
  6. Bring their favorite chair or side table from home. If they are having problems with standing; you can get them a mechanical recliner that raises and lowers with a push button, but you can keep their old tapestry pillow for their back and a throw from the house for their lap. Make sure a small chair for guests is there too.
  7. If ladies miss cooking a safe toaster for them to make toast or warm up pop-ups at least gives them a feeling of cooking. A nice mug or tea cup from home and thermos or tea pot…those things mean a lot to a senior.
  8. A tall table to put a plant on and bring in a long time loved orchard or houseplant in a special pot gives gardeners a feeling of green. Don’t forget a small measuring cup to water the plant.
  9. Nothing wrong with a small work bag filled with small tools for dad…there may be an emergency and he would need a wrench…or it might just make him feel safe to have it close by.
  10. Donate old books to the library at the senior facility so your senior can still visit and enjoy their books.
  11. magnifier“Ott lites” give high power light to those that love to do handiwork like knitting or crochet…and higher power readers or jeweler’s magnifier are great so they can still enjoy an long time hobby.  The new craze of adult coloring books are also a fun treat. Its easy to find a lap desk that goes over the chair arms so they have their things right in place for comfort.
  12. Bring a basket from home for all of their “little” things. Nail files, lip balm, pens and small notebooks, address book, small scissors and flashlight, etc. This goes on the table by their comfort chair. Remember the key is to keep the room looking clean and clear so the senior and cleaning staff have a calm vision. But inside the basket can be a collection of items that we all need to have on hand.
  13. drawersDon’t forget a small drawer unit for emergency storage of personal things. Like band-aids, itch cream, Vaseline, Bengay, and simple relief meds like gas pills, diarrhea pills etc. These are personal things…if you mark the drawer with vitamins, creams, first aid…the senior can store little tubes of this and that needed with privacy. These are found in box stores by Sterilites small 3-drawers.I use them for my own things and love their size and ease of use.
  14. Jewelry and expensive art can be stolen in public housing…so make sure there are ways to note that your Grandma has her wedding ring on and your Grandpa has his silver golf award on his table. Just ask the staff how to handle that sort of thing so the senior can be safe and still enjoy something they cherish.
  15. There are never any rules that you can not put your own web-cam in the room to check out your senior’s care when you are not there. Small nanny cams are available and allow you to see the seniors room from afar. This is a great way for family from out of town…can rest assured that their senior is safe and receiving good care.
  16. Teach your senior about their cell phone and how to use it. So they can have a camera and face to face talks with their kids and grand kids. They need to know how to charge it and how to take it with them. In a special lanyard holder around their neck so they can walk with their walker and not leave their phone behind…or in a cross body bag…or on a special holder that recharges and keeps the phone at hand by their comfort chair. Seniors can use gadgets…they just need reminders and patience in teaching them how to use them and find enjoyment…not fear over making mistakes with them.
  17. Get to know the staff and help the senior make friends and become involved in gentle ways with the social side of the assisted living. Maybe they will not attend all the events…but choosing a few things that will hit their interest button may mean you coming over and taking them to the meeting the first time. Easing them into a new life-style takes time and patience…reach down and find it within yourself so the senior can feel your strength and love.

I know you can do this…it’s just a hard time and hard decisions have to be made. But making those decisions so they are for the best of the senior is key. This helps keep it in perspective and makes it smoother for all of you. Giving love to a senior that has now lost friends, dear family members, possibly a spouse and or children…their end of life issues are raw…so your patience and understanding is a big deal. You always there smiling, always there even in quiet…is a gift. I thank you for your giving…as I have experienced my own losses lately…having friends and family to just talk and walk me through scary times…feels like you are surrounded by angels.

Thank you for your care giving…francy

Senior’s Medications are Sky-Rocketing – 10 Tips to Help!!


Grandma can not afford her medications…Help! by francy Dickinson

prescription-drugsDear Francy; I am taking care of my mother, her medications have gone up so high that I am paying $900+ to keep them on the shelf….I cannot afford this…what can I do?

OK, I am right here with you….I did the same thing for my mom. The problem was I thought I could afford it so I took money out of my own savings. The catch? I did not know she would live for so long with me and I did not know my husband would become ill and need my full-time care. You can not see the future. So I was unable to work outside of the home and it took a sad toll on my personal needs. PLEASE, do some home work and see if you can change this pattern right away!


  1. Step One is to “talk” to someone. You have choices depending on where you live.Some times there is a “Senior Care” phone line that is local or your local senior center will have a list of people that counsel on these type of matters. Next, your local hospital. I love this; they have a Social Services Expert on staff that you can go and get guidance from. They do not solve problems but they send you in a direction that is really helpful. Then the last is a medicare insurance person that sells supplemental insurance. These people sell different policies and they can review and suggest a change in medical and prescription changes that fit your needs with a supplement insurance that has pre listed the medications they cover and how much they assist you in each medication price.
  2. Talk to Medicare; some life-sustaining treatments and drugs are covered completely by Medicare and because that is a complicated thing…I can not advice you on your personal circumstance. But you can call them and they will assist you in what is and what is not covered. Make sure your senior has the drug extension on their medicare program. I have read a lot lately about those who say you do not need Part D or supplemental insurance for drug coverage…and I have asked my experts and talked about this point recently. It is not true. You need to have Part D and you need to know how to use it and keep it working for you.
  3. HOMEWORK Know that reviewing the coverage of a medicare supplemental insurance is not easy to do. But you have to do it. Because you have a time each year to make a change without any financial penalty and this is the time to know that you are getting the most for your coverage. You come into Social Security and Medicare a younger person with few medical problems so the supplemental insurance has little worries for you. You would just choose the one that was the least expensive or ignore it altogether. But…Its when you age and find yourself with medical problems that are more and more complicated that you need the proper medial supplemental insurance and it becomes a big deal! Know that you can change your program as you need to change it…you may want a health co-op or a simple supplement program. Your community senior center will have free-classes each year to go and learn. There are also classes on how to use Medicare itself. I go to the these classes and I learn so much. It does not have to be overwhelming.
  4. Letter to Doctor..alert the doctors that treat your mother and tell them she is unable to afford the medications without your help and you can no longer afford to help her. Ask them to please help you review her medications for things she really needs…not just preventative medications. Issue prescriptions for generic replacements and extend the prescriptions to 90 day units (they are usually less expensive over all.)
  5. FREE Meds If this is not enough, the doctor also has a form for you to fill-out from the manufacture of the drugs. You tell the manufacture that your mother is on a very limited income and can not afford the medication and if she hits the requirements she will go on a direct replacement program. That sends the drugs to her free after the doctor fills out her prescription and sends it to them. This is a great program for those on a low income but not low enough for state help.
  6. Go to your local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist to review the list of medications that your mother is taking. Ask him to see how he could reduce it and then suggest how to lower the costs. I always use a pharmacist in my care giving. I found my mother was on two different heart medications that were no longer needed because the doctor has given her a new medication that covered the problem. I got to cross those two drugs off her list by calling the doctor and explaining what the pharmacist said to me. Pharmacists are very knowledgeable and they will try very hard to help you and keep your business. Do you forget things when nervous? Use your cell-phone to record your conversations with experts so you can review the information again later. 
  7. 1953343_origBeware; not all doctors know the in’s and out’s of medications…there are those that are swayed by pharmacy reps and prescribe things that are not really needed or are way too expensive. This is a bigger problem when you have more than one doctor, because its hard to keep track of why and what medications your mom is taking. If all your doctors are on a computer system…this is easier, but the check still has to be done. And you do the med check each year…so just check with each doctor and tell them your problem…it is part of their responsibility that the patient gets the proper dose and medication that they prescribe…so do not be afraid to demand their time to help you figure out how to keep your mother’s medications slim and trim, financially.
  8. Use these Apps They are designed to reach out in your community and tell you which medication is being sold at the lowest price. Then you ask the doctor to make the Rx he writes for you…generic and 90 days and you are saving a nice chunk of money. and they are there to help with lowering costs…please use them!
  9. Do not worry about being loyal…make changes each year to keep money in your pocket. You will also note that in each regional area there are drug stores that fill prescriptions for the local care centers, those places are often very inexpensive because they buy in large bulk…check them out and compare. Even if you have to drive a ways…saving money every few months is well worth your time and gas.
  10. What if a doctor you use is not on the supplemental insurance listing? Well, honestly…specialists are all over your area…you only go a few times a year to a specialist so that is not a big deal for a huge monthly change with a savings on the medications part of the coverage – for a pill that is a huge expense each day. Now your “family doctor” should be on the listing. That would be a game changer…but not the end of the world..if you save hundreds of dollars each year on an insurance change because of expensive monthly drugs…changes of doctors may have to be made. That is why you do the yearly comparison on your own with a free class to help you review things or with a insurance expert. Be open to change in care…because in the end…the quality of life money issue, everyday, is what needs to be in the front of your decisions for your senior.

I had taken care of mother for two years; in my home and paying for everything. She was on a very small social security income. Then she went in the hospital and I got to talk to the Hospital Social Claim worker. She was appalled that I had not signed my mother up for state medical assistance. Medicaid; in our state, pays for medications and services. I kept mother’s supplement and social security and added in the Medicaid and I no longer was worried about the monthly costs. It was a great relief to me personally. I could care for her without being so upset over costs. And I was…I would actually cry in the car, when I went into the drug store and came out with an antibiotic that was $400. It was horrible to worry so about money when I just wanted my mother to get well. Please do not be afraid to fill out the paperwork for an income review for state medical coverage and see if help can come from other places than your own pocket.

Being a good son or daughter does not mean you have to pay for everything your parent or grandparent needs. Your personal income should not matter in getting good care for your parent. So, take time to talk to people that have good experience and advice. If you are a person with money and you want the best for your senior…GREAT…gift your love and money. But if you do not have extra money in your bank account you should not have to financially suffer for your loving, care giving.


Saunders Family 2013 096Always remember any Veteran or spouse of a Veteran has medical benefits for life if they meet the criteria that is set by the government. Any time spent in a war or conflict zone, even if the veteran did not retire from the military is considered a qualifier. So if you know that your dad or mom — grand father or grand mother were in the military…you need to check if they are covered by the Veterans Administration Health Program. Please do not brush this off you do not know what is covered until you call and ask…that medical program is extensive and can make the quality of life for your family — improve.
Call to inquire: Veterans Affairs …. Benefits: 1-800-827-1000; Health Care: 1-877-222-VETS 

I thank you for the love and the sacrifice you are gifting to your senior in care. But I want you to remember, that there are people in your community that make a living helping others. That is their job and their passion..they are lifted up each day when they are able to help a family out of a crisis. You need to respect those people too and go and ask for their help…they will guide you. Remember doctors are to diagnos and treat…they are not there to take care of your care giving needs. For that you have to reach out and talk to others and attend free classes and get into a support group. Then you will be able to ride the wave of care giving with confidence and without financial stress. Best wishes, francy

National Dog Day is Perfect Senior Adoption Day!


Should I get another dog or cat now that I am getting older? by francy Dickinson

Should Seniors Get Another Dog or Cat when they are Aging?


Francy w her mom, Toots and dear little Mac

Francy w her mom, Toots and dear little Mac

One of the things I hear so often is that seniors feel they are too old to get a dog or cat…so they suffer alone without anyone visiting them for days on end….NO WAY!

There are senior anipals at all shelters and shelter staff to help to match your senior to a senior dog or cat. This is just the best mix…an older dog is already potty trained and quieted down a bit. A smaller dog will keep the senior busy and sit on their lap on a full time basis. An older cat will bring hugs and loves on a non-stop basis.

A larger dog will be a good “Senior Setter” They will hover over, guide and care for the senior. The stories of dogs that have never been formally trained in care/service –helping–their senior owners as their own pack family keeping them safe…those stories are numerous.

The dogs also “alert”. For seniors that have hearing problems it is very reassuring to have their anipal bark out to the door if someone is coming close. Or their cat acts up and may turn around or run to hide. This behavior not only keeps the senior’s day busy with noise and activity but it helps with the feeling of safety for the senior.

Anipals get excited in the middle of night with unknown noise or fire. Many a dog and cat have fussed and fussed until the senior wakes and has the knowledge of something that is wrong within their home or apartment.They have saved their seniors from fire and intruders with their attentions. Not to mention how many anipals have alerted neighbors that something was wrong with the senior with their incessant nervous barking.

What if the senior has to go into a care center?

  1. More and more senior housing is accommodating small anipals. Small dogs or cats are welcomed as part of the regular running of the assisted living apartments. You only have to look and ask…it is now understood that our anipals are an extension of our families.
  2. After the terrible storm Katrina; when the local rescue workers would not allow anipals into the emergency shelters and it caused deaths and injuries to those who stayed in their homes-ideas changed. All those folks who decided that they would not go into a shelter because they could not leave their beloved dog or cat behind shouted out and FEMA actually heard them.  The rescue system learned a big lesson. They now have changed emergency shelters to allow anipals and the families can stay “safe” together.
  3. What if the family will not promise to take the anipal -in the event of the senior’s passing? That is not a problem. You simply call a local shelter and tell them ahead of time that you are a senior / or care giver of a senior and you have a beloved dog or cat that will not have a home if the senior gets very ill or passes. They take note of the information and you leave the connection information on the refrigerator so loved ones know who to call and how to transfer the anipal to a safe shelter that will find a new home for them. I personally; only adopt senior dogs and all of them are from seniors that have gotten too ill to care for them or have passed…because of those seniors caring – I have wonderful little bundles of joy in my home to love for the rest of their lives!

How do I find older anipals?

You call your local shelters first. Tell them what you are looking for and they will assist you in finding a anipal just for you or your senior. It may take a while, small dogs are not always available and you have to wait for them —but the wait is so worth while.

You also want to always ask…is there a discount for senior anipal adoption if I am a senior too? Usually there is a discount and many times there is a “free” adoption for senior to senior dog or cat adoption. Online information is available too, I always check out Petfinder a locator tool that will match my needs with a senior dog. Here is there information.

George napping with Kirbee and his new, warm throw

George napping with Kirbee and his new, warm throw

 Petfinder has come together with Maddie’s Fund to match senior to senior adoption, the information is here and you will find more when you call your local pet shelters in your area. Just click on Petfinder in blue type and you will go to their site and read about their work. Don’t put it off…call or visit your local shelter today and start the process of bringing a new senior anipal home with you. Those little ones need someone to love and your senior needs them. What makes a senior anipal? Usually, they are age eight or above, but some times they are younger with a small disability. That makes the senior adoption so special…you/or your senior saves their lives and give them a “forever” home and “forever love”.

The shelter will talk to you /or your senior about the anipal and how you can afford the food and medical attention that the anipal may need in the future. There is always a way for a senior to enjoy the love and kindness of little ones around them. I can not stress enough what a difference a dog or cat can make in the quality of your senior’s lifestyle. Its really a gift from the family and caregiver to bring an anipal into the senior’s home. It relaxes and brings the senior out of their own problems. Gives them something to do each day by putting their dog out to potty or cleaning the cat potty box or feeding them treats and meals. It gets the senior up in the morning and walking around in the afternoon.It will often remind them to eat as they feed the anipal. The senior anipal and senior will be on a program that brings enjoyment and happiness to the home.

When your senior is happy and busy….you are happy, as their care giver…please take a chance…get a senior sweetie in the home and enjoy the “change for good” that the anipal brings with it.

PLEASE GIVE ANIPALS A CHANCE….National Dog Day is a perfect day to begin to “think” about a new member of the household! Blessings, Francy

10 Tips and Gadgets for Senior Care Givers


Ideas and gadgets to help you with your senior care giving by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; So both mother and I are losing our marbles. She simply cannot find anything these days. Yes, I know I have taken her in for a memory check and it’s her immediate memory that is getting nutty. I just need to figure out how to help her with the finding keys, remote control, her wallet, her glasses…wow, driving me wild…can you help?

We all need gadgets to help us in life. Dementia, even younger senior memory burps drive everyone crazy…so how nice to have a few things that can help us out.

Tile for finding phones, keys and remote

Tile for finding phones, keys and remote

Two different products are in line for gold stars. These are designed to find things you tend to mis-place, like the remote, the cell phone, your keys, a cane, anything that you can put down and then forget. They are called the Tile and Magic Finders. They work the same but the price is different Magic Finders I found online and in-store at Bed Bath and Beyond is a little less expensive. I do not know if they are easier or better than Tiles? This is how they work. You stick them on things that walk away from you. They have little locators on them that work through apps on your smart phone. So make sure your senior has the smart phone, availability. Bluetooth means they have to have Wi-Fi in the home. But how sweet is that? For all of us!

TipsRULE// if you get a senior a smart phone…take time to teach them how to use it. Keep the apps down to just a few so they do not get confused. Have them do the step by step in front of you a couple of times…so they can use it…not be afraid of it. Then…call and text them often so they remember how to use it…keep it close to them so seniors are not afraid of it. If you empower them to the use of smart phones you will be able to free yourself to time consuming “constant return home visits”.  (PS??Jitterbug makes great senior smart phones w big screens)

Door Bell Alert

Door Bell Alert

When George walked outside and got stuck a block away…I got 3 open-doorbells that attached to the front, back and garage doors. I found my system at the hardware store, they are inexpensive and easy to install. Every time my outside entry doors open up, they have a loud ring. This may drive you crazy at first, but at least you know when a child or elder is walking out of the house and you can run and give it a check. My Georgie is now gone, but I left it on my door…it makes me feel safer to hear a bell if someone opens the door. This works on a AA battery and is easy to put up on the door. No Wi-Fi is required.


Bluetooth Guardian 650-80 Alert

Bluetooth Guardian 650-80 Alert

The next is a locator that works through your cell phone.But these are expensive. I looked all over for one for George, in my price range, they were just too much for me. Now I found a new one for under $30 dollars…so use it for Kids or Grandmas too! Remember these are 250 foot range locators that are connected to an app with Bluetooth locator features for your own cell phone. I would have loved this when I took George shopping, he would often walk away from me…then I would panic and spend my time trying to find him all over the store. It was scary stuff.

Amazon Echo Alexa Voice System

Amazon Echo Alexa Voice System

What’s up, Alexa? I got an Amazon Echo for Christmas from my dear friend. I was thrilled, I love the idea of “mini helpers” and Alexa has proven her worth over and over again. What it is…it’s a mini robot, in a small box, that sits on your counter. You need to have a Wi-Fi connection for this device too…but it’s so great and would help seniors living alone….so much!

You put the Echo or Tap on your counter and you can take them from room to room if you like. I keep mine in the bedroom. I use a plug-in Echo…but they have 3 week battery ones called Taps or Dots that are more portable if you like. Anyway, Amazon has designed them as a first step to robot help, in your home. You keep it plugged into the wall and projecting Wi-Fi. Then you talk to it in a normal voice tone.

Just say something like this:  Alexa, what time is it? Alexa play big band music.  Alexa how do you spell, hitch?  Alexa add dish washing soap to my shopping list. Alexa what is on my shopping list? Alexa what is the local forecast for next week? Alexa turn on my light.  Alexa turn off my TV. Alexa how many steps have I taken today? Alexa please read my Amazon Kindle book, out loud, to me. Alexa set alarm for my pills at 2PM today. Alexa who is at the front door? Alexa play the news today. Alexa turn down the heat. Alexa have a pizza delivered to the house. It will respond to all voices when addressed with Alexa…or the Tap, adds a tap to the box to turn it on. It has a wonderful speaker inside that sounds terrific. The surround sound works well for all of us, even if the elder has a hearing reduction you just turn it up and they are in business.

Can you see how helpful this would be for a senior that learns how to use this simple, little box that sits on the counter and tells all of us how our life is organized and connected? I love it and Alexa is growing and learning new tasks every day. The extra plug-ins that go on the wall outlets to connect the lights or TV, or whatever you need to turn on and off during your day. They are just a voice command away. No more trying to worry about turning things on and off as you move through your day. Really great for seniors that have movement problems.

Alexa connects to your Fitbit, your Ring doorbell and Wi-Fi home furnace heat monitor and your garage door and many other special product designs. Why not start to use robotic and remote services to help with your day? The Amazon Echo is a one-time purchase there are no monthly fees. You just plug it in and start to talk to it and it talks back. Just to listen to a book you want to read when your eyes are tired…listen to your favorite radio talk show or listen to your own style of music. Come on. This is fun and your senior will love it when you “teach them” how to use it. Do not buy it, if you think they will figure out how to use it…it will take a lesson and patience on your part… to set it up and get them using it.  (George Jetson, would love it! I sure do.)

No monthly fee 911 Pendant

No monthly fee 911 Pendant

OK so I have talked about this one before but I think it’s important! It’s a 911 auto-dial. I know that there are loads of medical alerts buttons that have great services. But some folks cannot afford the monthly billing. This is a one-time purchase and it simply needs a set-up once to get it plugged into your own local 911 systems. Once this is done, your senior can wear it around their neck or on their trousers all the time- anywhere. It works like a cell phone, FREE…because 911 calls are free! No monthly bills, just a feeling of safety where ever they go. I want one for my daily walks!

I found this with a good price online at HSN I am going to order one for me, too!

Try inserts at local pharmacy

Try inserts at local pharmacy

I understand that if you are young, it’s hard to imagine that your feet could be painful with every step. But as one ages, foot padding gets thinner and the feet can really hurt! Or they can swell –  or they can have very painful nerve problems. So start today. Get a good insert for your senior. You can find them in the pharmacy section. They are for the heel and instep and they keep the foot in alignment and that means they relieve the pain. Try a couple different ones in the senior’s shoes.I have them in all of my shoes…when I buy a new pair, I buy a new pair of inserts. I also update mine every six months so my feet are comfy!

TipsRemember that slippers that seniors wear around the house, should not be mule style. You want a senior to walk around the house in comfortable shoes that will not cause them to slip, trip or lose their balance and to be able to walk out to their garden or porch without changing shoes. Falls are the wicked “end to freedom” for seniors, living on their own. Keep them safe with safe “easy on” shoes and add insoles that will help them feel pain free when they walk. Get them a good shoe horn that has a long handle so they do not have to bend over to use it. That way your senior will keep walking and get more exercise.

exercise bar

Exercise Bar that is easy to use

NO, you never are too old to move and stretch. Never, my mother was doing her stretches at the age of 100 years.  You have to keep bodies moving in order for the heart and the body to be strong. So what do you do with a senior that does not want to exercise?

You DO NOT get them a bunch of fancy machines that they will never use. You get them the rubber banding that will stretch out for them and a trip to the Physical Therapy specialist will put your senior in the know. You can also find the same type of thing with a hand band system that comes with how to videos. This can be kept by their special TV chair for the senior and you can call them each day and get them to reach over and get their bands and start to stretch and move with them as you chat on the phone. You in your chair, using your own bands and they in their chair, using their bands. This is how you make sure they work on their body and in the meantime…you get a good stretch out with them, too! Here is the video connection.

MedCenter Talking Pill Alert

MedCenter Talking Pill Alert

MedCenter is a “talking” alarm system to remind your senior to take your pills up to four times a day. For seniors with memory problems this really adds a special layer of safety.
Did you know that doctors that feel a patient will not take a medication on time…will not even give the senior a prescription for that medication?
It is serious stuff to take medications on time and with or without food and do it without any help when their memory is not clear. Or if they are not feeling well and sleeping a great deal. Give your senior a chance at solid medication levels by using something like this for their daily pills. I would suggest you set it up and replenish the pills each week. That way you can keep an eye on how your senior is taking their pills and keep the re-order of medication on time each month. You can find this at your Walmart and other local pharmacy chains. Approx $30-$40


merrilee at johnnys

Lunch w my sister Merrilee at Johnny’s Dock in Tacoma, WA

Hope that was informational for you…I really enjoy using all of these products and I think they are so helpful. Trying to work around busy schedules and still keep our seniors in their own homes or safe with-in our home, is so important. Good luck…and thank you for caring for your elders. What your love and support means…it’s the world to your senior!
Blessings, francy

The Fear of Loss and Pain of Grief


Facing the loss of your loved one and living through the pain of grief when they are gone…by francy Dickinson

699-happy-new-yearDear Francy:
Most of you know I lost my dear Georgie last year, in November. My holidays were blurry that first month…and so this year is my first holiday without my Georgie and the sadness and feeling of loneliness has been hard for me.

I enjoy hearing from all of you and I have been returning emails and helping anyone in need of a good talk through…but I have not been posting. I am in hopes that I will be able to concentrate and get posting again on a good speed in the new year. Its one of my first of the year goals.

Its my birthday…and New Years Eve and New Years Day used to be a happy time for me. I felt the whole world celebrated my birthday…so I always looked forward to it. In good times…George would always take me out dancing. Parties in cities close and far away. We were in the travel business…so traveling to a wonderful city for New Years was part of the excitement of the holidays. I am so aware of those memories when life was good and times were special with my guy. But what I want to share with you…is the fear and pain that took over when George started suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

This idea that you give care until someone passes is really not true. The truth is, mental health issues mean that a person changes in personality and in their memory on a daily basis. So way before any end of life issues pop up…you are starting to lose the person you love. Each day their brain changes and in bits and pieces they leave and never return. So in essence you lose your loved one every day. It’s a very hard thing to live with and hard to understand. But you have to be aware its the truth. Doctors, nurses they do not tell you these things…they do not give care like you do. They treat and diagnose — you do the care giving so you feel and see the changes. It could be a forgotten name, or a forgotten word and you watch them try to find another word to use in the conversation. It could be an emotional outburst or a series of days when nothing is said at all…quiet! It could be a strange walking gait, or a repeated action over and over again.

The doctors don’t see it, your family doesn’t see it…YOU see it and FEEL it and it scares the beegeebies out of you! What can you do…how do you make it better? Can you exercise it out…can you calm them down…can you change how you have conversations with them. Can you take the car keys away, can you put alarms on the doors to hear when they just walk out…can you put up signs to help them remember things? Your mind starts to race and you feel. ALONE.

I can not take that feeling away from you. But I can tell you…that you must keep your mind on the goal. That goal is to give your loved one the best “end of life” that you can. It may be a year or ten years ahead…but just take a step at a time and try hard to get support. Write to me, join a support group…ask a few good friends to meet at your place each month so you can express your fears and upsets. YOU need to be strong…because the ride is not pretty and it’s not short.

You also need to have as much help as you can. Trying to be quiet about the struggle will only hurt you and your loved one. Telling family and friends and asking a few of them to be your mind and heart is what is needed. Do you have a friend that is good on the Internet…well ask them to look up the details of problems you are finding and working through. There are wonderful tips out there, but they have to be found so ask that friend to be your eyes on the world.

Do you have a friend that will drive you around? Ask them to take you to the hospital, doctor appointments and therapy treatments. That way you can control your loved one, keep them calm and the driving can be safely done by your friend. You have to ask, you have to say…I NEED HELP. If you don’t you are hurting yourself and your loved one.

The brain of a dementia patient is not going to magically heal…so you simply have to be verbal to people about the situation. I told everyone in the neighborhood. “If you see George walking in front of your house without me next to him. Go out and get him to come in for coffee and call me…please!” Who are you going to impress by being quiet? Let your village know that you have a situation that needs their help…and you will get it back. People want to help…they just don’t know what to do.

I know my loss of George, after his death, has been hard on me. I adored the guy and we were bestest friends and I feel empty. I have to heal and begin to bring new things into my life to feel whole again. I know that…but for me…its been a slow heal. What do I do?

I talk to family and friends about my sadness…I look at pictures of him, I have a little area in my bedroom that has an enlarged picture and candles that I burn each night. It calms me and I feel close to George when I do that…even though he is not there…I feel him there and it comforts me. You need to do the same thing….but in your own way. Find little routines that make you feel safe and start to fill up time in your life. Plan your days, have future events on the calendar and bit by bit…be a part of life around you.

I still pull away from big events. Sometimes in a big family gathering I feel more lonely than in a small one. So I say no…if I feel the event is too much for me. But I force myself to say YES…to events that are smaller with people I know well and love. I am trying to develop a new me and still give myself the honor of the old me that was a part of my duo relationship with George.

Just remember…do not do this alone. Do not think a nurse or doctor has emotional and physical answers to the day by day tasks of your care giving. Do not get upset of friends or family leave you all alone…and rejoice in the friends new and old that will stand by you when you ask for their help. Know that money is not going to grow on trees and you have to stick to a budget because it can be a long, long ride. Know that answers to help you are there…ask me or others that have gone through care giving to help…and be a trooper…ask again and again. Life is meant to live with others not on your own….ask!

I know you can do it…and I honor the fact you are standing there day after day giving someone who is unable to care for their own life…care. You are a good person. No one will give you a thanks…nor will you get a reward for your care. In the mind of your loved one they think they are still…just fine. Nothing has changed…you know better…you know life is now upside-down…yet they think their life is in control. Be brave…force yourself to be honest and talk about the dementia as if it was the flu…let out your voice and keep the honesty of the situation everyday. Hurting feelings is not the point, honesty is the point.

You saw the path to the end of their life was laid out…you stepped up and took their hand and walked next to them.Your loved one is not alone. That makes you a very special and loving person and I am proud to know you. I know you will be honest with them, your friends and yourself and not stand alone. I want you to remember the world does not know you have a problem or you need help…without your voice shouting it out. Be brave and shout and keep shouting till you have a group around you to help you in your journey. No one will say it…but you are loved. Your loved one does love you…even if they can not put that into words…so just hold the honestly of knowing they love you and you are doing the best job you can…each and every day.

Blessings on your New Year…Keep your own health and body strong…life is still there for you after care giving. francy

Honoring Passing of Seniors with Love


Ideas of how to honor elders when they pass. By francy Dickinson

George Saunders' memorial

George Saunders’ memorial the summer after his passing…when his kids were in town and the weather was bright and the day perfect for scattering his remains.

Dear Francy; My dear Great Aunt has just passed…mother wants a big funeral..I want a quiet family memorial. What can I do?

The times are changing and more and more families are having quiet and special memorial gatherings for their elders. When people have been unwell for a long time…and are of advanced age memorial gatherings seem to fit the bill in today’s world. Although funerals are still a wonderful way to honor those that pass…we have found that it works best when a person has passed in their prime with lots of friends,neighbors, children, siblings or even their parents alive to attend.

In contrast an elder that has lived long and has been unwell for quite some time…maybe aged out of their large group of friends and maybe have no friends left alive has different needs for their memorial. For those that have outlived most of their own family and those around them that would honor them…a smaller memorial has a new appeal. There is a larger and larger amount of seniors that are now choosing cremation and their remains have to be honored. Some of them want to be buried by their spouse or family members…some have no one left to be buried next to…so they choose to have their ashes spread in a place that has a meaning to them.

A perfect example of this was when my own father died and my mother had a very large formal funeral and burial for him. He was 62 in a time of his life that he was still working with loads of friends, business associates, family and a healthy wife. He was in the furniture business so mother paid for an expensive, carved wooden coffin and had the full services of minister, open casket, singing, and service. I remember it all well…it was a very hard thing for me to get through really…with the sting of his death so new and the pageantry of the formal funeral so close behind his passing.

No extra charge for a simple grave side memorial  for family members.

No extra charge for a simple grave side memorial for family members.

So, it was with great shock that 40 years later… when my mother was asked about her personal wishes for her own funeral she refused the idea. “I don’t want a funeral. If you want to say some prayers over me when they bury me…that will be plenty for me.” WHY? I was shocked…the memory of my dad’s burial so clear in my mind.

Mother told me, at the ripe old age of 100 years, she was without all of her dear friends. She only had one brother left, who was in a nursing home and her children were older with grand children of their own. She just wanted a quiet, inexpensive burial…nothing fancy. She would share the double size head stone with dad and she would be just fine. I was very pleased…so when she died we met together at her grave and said our goodbyes. Then the next summer….we all got together in the her favorite park on the Puget Sound and had a wonderful picnic in her name and threw flowers in the water with all her grand, great grand and children together. She would have been so happy to see us together having good times.

Passing is hard for those that are left behind…so I ask that you talk to your senior about their own idea of what they want for memorials. Some people plant trees or bushes, some buy bricks on a memory wall at their local charity, some have legacy money that goes on to honor them in an organization that they enjoyed. So, when my Georgie passed what to do?

I had given him non stop 24 hour care for months and I was seriously exhausted and close to illness myself. I knew George did not want a funeral and the day I picked up his ashes I went into tears and had to wait in that parking lot for 45 minutes till I could get myself under control to drive home. The darkness of November was overwhelming. George’s children were all busy people, three of them and grand children lived out-of-state.
So I made a decision to prolong his memorial to the next summer. Lately, many of my fellow caregiver spouses have done the same. Prolonging the memorials for their loved ones and holding the memorials in places and times that reflect the personality and family members’ needs – and the person that has passed.

A sweet gnome church was placed as a greeting for guests at the memorial.

A sweet gnome church was placed as a greeting for guests at the memorial.

My dear friend, lives on the water and had worked hours on getting her home ready for the memorial for her husband. Cleaning, painting, and working in the garden to brighten and clean it all up from the neglect the winter of sadness and illness had been left undone.Working through her own grief by keeping busy and putting her life in good order.  Now, she has the place all in order, clean, up dated and ready for her friends to be invited to an event that can be filled with love, warm friendship, honoring and enjoyment of her dear, passed spouse. During the clean up she even came across a sweet little church her hubby had made by hand. She re-painted it and placed it on a tree for the guests to enjoy when they entered the garden and lovely home. The sadness of the immediate passing had been worked through and the gathering a few months later allowed everyone to think over their memories and express their feelings with each other. Choosing a place and time for the memorial that fits the family and the person that has passed  makes the event very special. A Celebration of Life for the loved one that has passed.

Even younger members of the family can participate in the memorial. Maybe a guitar and song from a grandson…a small dance from a young grand-daughter, or a reading of a poem or story from daughters and sons. For us it was my Georgie’s children singing “Oklahoma” a song that the family all sang together on road trips. Or a collection of the elder’s hobbies or a board full of pictures that show the movement of young to the older pictures of the elder for all to view that special life journey.

IMG_20150727_191152Handing out something for each attendee to enjoy is always special. One gal had her husband’s picture put on YoYo’s and had a contest…that cracked me up. I like making book marks on your computer and topping them with a small ribbon…with a special Quote from the honoree on the back. Or asking your Grand daughter/son to do a small brochure fact sheet w pictures, birth and death places and dates to share with everyone.

The rules of these memorials are yours to make. Balloons to release, flowers to throw into the sea, cookies wrapped up with a note on each to take home. There are wonderful photo charms, craft projects with the name of the elder on a poured stepping stone for the garden. Small Christmas tree ornaments with a picture of remembrance for the tree at the holidays…or tee shirts with Grandpa and all the grandkids’ picture on the front 😉 Your creative side can find something sweet to share with all.

Making the memorial as complicated or simple is up to you…but doing it with the knowledge that even long after the death…the emotions are still strong and making the gathering a memory…not a chore. Being together with family and friends…each sharing their memories of the loved one is powerful stuff. Inviting a person to represent their faith or appointing a family member to be the spiritual point person is also important. Some times the simple moments of togetherness…is what is remembered and appreciated. The event does not have to be big or expensive…it can be small and sweet. Just know that there are choices to be made…and an immediate, expensive funeral, burial, and large event is one way to memorialize the elder…and a relaxed time frame that may be even months or a year after the death is another. A simple gathering of a few friends to wish the elder blessings on their way…is another. No rules…no right or wrong…just in love – you give your care giving and your bon voyage to a dear life partner or friend.

I thank you all for giving care to your loved seniors…this process of saying “Good bye”  can be a choice of your own. Remember…there are no rules…you do what makes you and your family feel is right for you! That is how your elder would want their leave…to be done with love and ease.

Luminaries to follow the path...each representing the love that is felt for the elder that is memorialized.

Luminaries to follow the path…each representing the love that is felt for the elder that is being memorialized.

Advanced Alzheimer’s/Dementia Help for Care Givers


Tips for families caring for advanced Alzheimer’s seniors. by francy Dickinson

When your senior is confused…Tips to help with care giving.

Dear Francy: Mother does not remember me any longer. I can hardly go into her room without crying. That makes her confused and she cries…I want her close to me, I want to care for her…but my heart is broken. 

Living life “in the now” is a very hard thing to do, so here are some tips to help you through this awful time in both of your lives. First, would you do me a favor and just trust me that your mother has not really forgotten you…she remembers in her inner mind and heart that you represent love and caring for her. So you just have to try hard to work with that thought.

Ideas for caring for Elders with Dementia:

  1. If you took a nap and woke up to a world around you that was not familiar to you, can you imagine the fear you would have? That is what is happening to your senior when they wake…or go a few minutes without input…they get caught in a world of no memory. They become frightened, angry, upset, totally overwhelmed with fear–their mind running 24/7 with nerves. You must keep your senior connected to your neurologist. Even if the appointments are only every few months…you want to check in with the memory clinic for help. They may take the senior off the heavy brain drugs because they are no longer working. Usually, the drugs are given in a combination to treat the patient for as long as they get a response. Once off those meds the mind of the senior regresses fast. But we are talking about treating the signs of the regression…the fear, the anger, the upset, the nerves. So you need to keep a running note of your care giving days so the doctor can see where they can prescribe different meds to calm and give the senior an underlining feeling of peace in their mind.
  2. You must accept the “living in the now” concept because this is how the senior is living their day. They wake up to confusion – to a life that is out-of-place and they try to cope. Your job is to help them. No longer address them as mom, dad or auntie…call them by their given name. Remember the farther they regress they may recall a family nickname that they were called as a child. “Sissy, Sonny, Toots, Cutie, Sweetie, Kittens” Families often give young children nicknames and the senior may find comfort in that name once again. Always smile when you talk to them…remember they will react as a child does to a face…if you are angry or upset…they will reflect your emotions…that is what a child or dementia patient does. So force yourself to stay “in the now” and “act” calm and happy…that way your elder will be calm and happy.
  3. Take breaks…overwhelmed with sorrow means you need a break. Ask your neighbor to come over a couple of times a week for two hours and sit with your senior…you can take a walk, go for a ride or do the grocery shopping. Ask a cousin or family member that is older and retired to come and give you a couple of hours a week. Ask your children and grand children to come and visit for a couple of hours each week. Yes, you have to arrange the time…no one looks forward to this task..but they will respond with love “if you ask”. So write down a few names of people who will help you just for a short visit. Then call two or three each week to fill your week with breaks here and there.
  4. Deep breath. You will find when you are upset you hold your breath.I do not know why this happens, but we tend to tense up and hold on to our breathing. So, begin a program of taking in a breath with your nose and holding it a moment and then very slowly let it go. Like a balloon deflating…It will release the tension and the stress on your body as you force yourself to breath. I do it in a series of three as many times as I can during the day…just this simple trick will allow your body to relax.
  5. Smile…remember the rule of smiling through tears. Smiles allow others to read your face as calm and in-charge. When you are in-charge the senior in care will feel relaxed and know you have their back. It may sound silly…but it is so true that I implore you to smile.
  6. Set a repeated pace to the day. It is a proven fact that when children are raised with a structured daily routine they are found to be more emotionally stable. So if your senior is constantly trying to remember who, what and where they are…this underlying feeling of a routine…keeps their inner mind relaxed. Plan the day around you, not your senior. Up at a certain time, eat, do exercise, then rest. Quiet time, TV or radio time and then a nap. Up again to cleaning up time, teeth, face, more walking or exercise in the chair. A puzzle on a table to work,a game of cards, a craft project and then a rest for the afternoon…usually a nap in their chair. At 4PM there is always tea and cookies to keep the blood sugar high for the evening and keep the senior from a “Sundowner crash”. Then TV news to keep their mind thinking and you talking about your day. Rest time…dinner time. Then talk time…right after dinner while you are cleaning up the kitchen you have the senior sit quietly and you talk to them about the day. Who called, whose birthday is coming up…what time of year it is and tell them of your own day. Just use a sing-song voice tone and matter of fact talk through things of the day. The senior may or may not respond. If they do respond – listen to them and go with their mind. If they talk of years past, or a fear, or hover on something fearful. Take note of that and do not go to that part of their brain with your conversation again. Maybe a kidnapping or violent event on the news got them thinking they would be hurt…you just change that around and take note not to mention that again.
  7. Find an in-home nurse practitioner to come and check-in on your senior. There is no reason to constantly worry the senior over the big trip to the doctor. Just keep medications that are palliative or for the seniors comfort. The rest of it can all just drift away and their body can adjust to the natural way of their journey.
  8. TV game shows are very good for dementia. They have excitement in the people –clapping, laughing and the senior will respond with pleasure. Radio shows are very good for seniors. Many elders were raised on radio…they like their own childhood music styles and NPR or local radio stations that feature music of their era are great to have playing in the background to “Ground” the senior’s very busy mind.
  9. Just because they no longer talk…does not mean they no longer think. They have just lost the part of the brain that allows them to speak. So you have to talk to them as though they are speaking. You have to look at them and learn their cues to tell you their needs. Or if you are in the black over their needs…you just say to yourself…”what would I want to be doing right now?” You do as much as you can and then release your own worry. You are doing what your heart is telling you to do…that is all that is needed.
  10. Remember, smile…speak in a strong tone…so the senior can hear your voice. Face the senior and talk so they can see and read your face and don’t be afraid of making mistakes…we all do that every day. Just do your best to care for your senior with love. Then tell yourself…what do I need today? Keeping yourself well fed, exercised and calm is the key to your own health and that will reflect onto your senior in positive ways.

Thank you so for giving your love to your family…you are doing a job that no one else will do. You are loving and caring for your loved one. I so appreciate your time, love and the years that you are gifting to that senior. Taking their hand and helping them down the path of their last days is a very hard thing to do…you are doing fine. I trust your judgement.
Blessings, francy

You Have Been Diagnosed Now What? Dementia Notes


How to handle the time when you first get a diagnosis of dementia or another life changing francy Dickinson

senior walkingDear Francy: My dad just got a diagnosis of dementia and my mom has just found out she has cancer. I know they are both depressed and upset…what should I do now?

First its the shock. No matter what your age or how long you have felt out of sorts…when a doctor looks at you and tells you, your body is not functioning — it is a big change to your life. There will be depression, sadness and worry…there is no getting over that…but how you deal with it all, is the key.

Mental processes have to follow through with it all and talking it out to a few friends, family or a faith adviser is really the best start. Then its time to roll up your sleeves and find out what all this means.

Here is your list:

  1. Actively talk about the diagnosis and let the senior feel the pain, worry and fear. They have to accept and process through it. After that time has passed and they can get out their feelings progress onward. Its always OK to be sad, its just as important to try to end the conversation with an up tone.
  2. To heal, or to live on with tough medical news the mind needs to know what that diagnosis means. No matter if the age is 6 or 86 the person needs to understand the name of the diagnosis and be able to visualize what it is. So, you need to go online and read about it…find out the main points and bring those points down to understandable language. The idea that you can “save” a person from the stress of knowing a serious life condition is long gone…now we face truth and work through it.
  3. Talk about the options that are now on the table. If the doctor has not done this…you can make another appointment for a consultation or go to the net and find the answers yourself. To know the different procedures, medications, surgeries, or other options is something that makes the problem into a “situation to solve” instead of a “dread to face”.
  4. Get a second diagnosis from a professional in the line of specialty- for the problem. A family doctor can tell you there are dementia problems…but a neurologist will tell you more specific details and explain the process of treatment. The family doctor can say you have cancer but a specialist in that type of cancer can give you ideas for treatment and prognosis. This way…you have a firm understanding of what is really wrong. When this is done the mind will be calmer…knowing is very important.
  5. Record doctor appointments on your cell or with a little recorder. Many times we are tired or nervous and we forget what the doctor has said. Tell the doctor you want to share the information with your family and get it down on tape. This way you do not forget or over emotionalize the consultations. Some times the mind will zero in on one word and the rest of the conversation is lost. This recording keeps you clear of mind.
  6. Always ask what this new condition will do to the other things that the senior already is dealing with in their life. If they have a heart problem and now dementia…does that mean medication changes, treatment changes etc. If they are a smoker, drinker, or even on heavy medications, does that mean a different type of treatment for the problems? If they now have cancer does that mean that their special “diabetes diet and drugs” can continue or is there a conflict with the chemical interactions? The specialist will know these things…and you will find support groups online that will share their journey with you so you can make changes. When you understand all these details…your own mind will be calmer.
  7. Understand that the body has to fight the invaders of what ever diagnosis that has been given. So a sincere re-think of diet and supplements has to be made right away. Keep in mind you have to boost the body’s ability to fight the new problem. So new supplements and new ways of eating and exercising will simply boost the ability to fight the invading problems. This step is not in place of medication…it is in addition to medication that will help the body absorb and heal faster. As everyone ages…we all need a boost of help with quicker healing. To ignore this step is many times to hasten the end of life issues.
  8. Talk and talk again. There are lots of things to talk about. There are business things…home, care, money, investments, insurance, and care giving. It will all be needed in the future. So talking about it right now…gets it out in the open and you can seek help from local services of needed. Do not delay in this important part. A person who is extremely ill or under mental/emotional stress does not make choices well. So do it now.
  9. Talking about end of life issues is always hard to do. To make sure a Health Care Directive is agreed on and understood by the family – will mean you can set that hard part aside and deal with the healing and everyday issues. Find out if the person, wants to extend their life, relax and let things take their course, be tube feed, resuscitated, or in the end – cremated. Once again…this is what you do as soon as you can so the ideas are set, papers signed and then it is put aside and you don’t dwell on it.
  10. Is there something an older person wanted to do before they are really unwell? A bucket list type of thing? Maybe they always wanted to visit a family member or see a special place, or return to their home town. Ask the elder what they had hoped to do and make sure you can try to make arrangements for this to happen or something like it. A brother can come to your town…instead of a big trip to his town…or a place can be seen via the web cams instead of a big car trip. But allowing the senior to dot the i’s and cross the t’s of their life, is very important.
  11. Make sure the family knows about the medical conditions. If a child has not spoken to the parent in years…this is the time to write them a letter to let them know the situation. This way they can make a decision to come and visit and let the hurt and years of upset – lay to rest before the senior is no longer with them. You may not care for the family member…but the senior loves each child and each family member and its not for us to judge.
  12. Take pictures of the senior and make video or audios of the senior and their childhood stories and family knowledge. It helps the senior sort through their life choices and leaves you with a remembrance that is very dear. This is a ritual that will really help the senior in their life journey.
  13. Put together what you will know as the dream team of health care. A good specialty doctor that you can talk to, a nurse practitioner that will help with the everyday things, your senior and you and any other person that will give care. Then make a pact that you will all work together to keep the energy and emotional levels up and support each other through the journey.
  14. If end of life issues are being spoken about…call Hospice…do not wait. Too many families wait and do not get all the benefits that Hospice gives. They will come to you and make an evaluation…if they feel it is not time for them…they will put you on hold and check in with you every month. If it is time, they will assist you in ways that really allow you to be with your family member, not only be the 24 hour care giver.
  15. Hurtful family history should be put aside. Thinking about how to make the senior as strong as possible in their mind, heart, and body is the key. Remove guilt and anger. Try very hard to just be in a settled and joy filled mind set each time you visit the senior. Things that happened years ago…are now gone…today has time for joy.
  16. Medic-alert systems are a must if the senior is starting on a downward journey and living alone. These systems will allow you and the senior to be assured that someone will come to their aid in an emergency.
  17. Since both of your parents may need health care…here is advice on how to deal with partners in care together. Click Here for information if your parents can not care for each other.

I hope this list will be of help…I know that all the things on it have happened to me over and over again…and when you tick them off the list…your mind and heart feel free. I thank you for caring for your senior and I wish you well on the journey…francy

In Home Care Giving Beginning Tips – #1


In Home Care Giving Tips starting from the beginning for spouse and family care givers  by Francy Dickinson

One day you are young and in a blink of the eye- you are a senior with health issues...Let's work to make the care giving path easier.

One day you are young and in a blink of the eye- you are a senior with health issues…Let’s work to make the care giving path easier.

Dear Francy: As I stand today…I can look back many years ago when I was first giving care to my elderly mother with many aging issues until she passed at 100. Then turned around and started caring for my husband, Georgie, who had Parkinson’s/ Alzheimer’s. After 15 years of in home care giving I learned a few things so I am going to share them. But I started this blog…because in the beginning…I was in a daze with no knowledge of the bumps in the road in home care. Now, I look back on it…I’m a CNA and have years of experience of daily living challenges and I know I can help you on your road. You will find a few years of index to review…I have done a lot of blogs to help you…always take a look and see if something I wrote a few years ago fits your needs. OK…so now I will begin at the beginning just for you !


Oh boy, this is a normal question and the answer is YES. You can take it a day at a time and if the path gets too hard you figure out how to get help or place your senior in a care facility. There are no rules…you have to work through the situation that matches, your own health and time limitations. There is no quilt over asking another family member to take over the care giving or finding a state Senior Care Worker that will find a good place for your mom in the months or years to come. Give it a try…and keep your spirits up..we all go through bad days…but the good days far out-weigh them.


If you are going to put your senior in your own home…or keep them in their home. You start with a clean and safe place to house your senior. So that means that the lazy days of cleaning when you feel like it are gone. Now, just like in hospitals and care facilities – you have to think “CLEAN and SAFE”.

In Home care for the senior means you have to start at the front door and make a safe pathway through to the TV chair, the kitchen, the bedroom and the bathroom. All the rest of the house can be left alone…but the path that you and your senior will be taking all day and night has to be cleared away. If your senior is a bit of a hoarder…you do not throw away things…you go in and put things in boxes and place them in the back room or garage. Just know perfection is not required, but clear walk ways that are safe and will keep the senior from a fall…or allow the senior’s walker or wheelchair to get through doorways and from room to room – is required.

George carefully stepping down into our living room

George carefully stepping down into our living room

Look around…maybe the senior has been in a home for years…but the location of the comfortable TV chair that will be a lounger (maybe even an electric lounger) will be placed in a spot that is easy to see the TV and get up and down without any tables, chairs or throw rugs in sight. Watch your senior get up and down from this chair and move around. You can order and get great hand rails that can go on walls where the senior needs an extra boost to keep them steady. But NEVER let the senior do the TABLE TOP walk! That behavior is over…it is dangerous and the small side tables that are unsteady should be removed so the senior does not do this. Seniors must use their cane or walker in the house…no exceptions!


  • Have a good table with drawers next to their TV/Comfort chair. Make it work with a good lamp and the remote. Get a remote that will work and if it is confusing…then cover the remote with painter’s tape over the buttons you do not want them to push. ON-Off-Volume-Up n Down Channels is it…make it easy!
  • I get a nice size basket for the side-table and put all sorts of things in it that will keep the senior in their chair, not running around for small things. You will have a small scissors, nail files, pens, mirror, hand cream, small pad to write, lip gloss, telephone – etc. All within a basket that the senior can keep with their favorite things.
  • Then down by their feet…within range, but not where they will trip on it..get a small chill chest. This is where they fill it up with chilled water, Boost, sandwich or treats…so they do not have to move to eat or drink. This makes their day a little easier. They will get up and go to the bathroom, but not worry about eating. If they are not well, or tired…they only have to reach down and get a Boost, crackers, yogurt or water.
  • Add a heated throw, that is electric and will keep the senior warm, even in the summer months. Seniors in care, taking meds…get cold all the time. Add a small neck pillow so they can take a snooze ~ plus an eye shade so the lights don’t bother their nap. Now they are nice and snug in a rug!


  • No money has to be spent here. Just streamline the kitchen so it’s easy to use from a walker (with a basket) or a cane. Remove things from the counter and keep only what they need. Clean the counters (senior eyes don’t see crumbs) and test that everything can be easily reached. Toaster, coffee maker, sweetener n mugs. Keep it easy!
  • Change the cupboards and put a set of things they need in the lowest and easiest cupboard to reach. Put a couple of glasses, mugs, plates, snack plates and bowls all together for them within an easy reach. Or use paper plates for snacks so they can clean up with no fuss.
  • Clean out the refrigerator and get rid of silly things that will never be used. Clean the shelves and only have things they really need. Yogurt, milk, mayo, and sandwich makings. Make their life easy…think about what they really use and eat now. Not what they cooked when they had family at home. Now there will be room for the pre made dinners that you bring to them…to heat in the microwave. Easy…remember its the key to care giving.
  • Put up a kitchen calendar so they know what is coming up and keep it active each time you visit. Have a place for notes or large phone numbers they may need. Move the table to a comfortable spot and remove un-needed chairs. Keep the kitchen easy and helpful…not cluttered. Yes, it will change the room…but life has now changed.

HALLWAY: Walking path needs to be clear

  • Walk the pathway the senior will use and repair any place that needs help. No scatter rugs…no holes in rugs…no boxes or shoes on the floor, just a clear walk way around the house.
  • Keep it Clear…Get a good plastic bin that you can keep mail and important papers in each day. Then once a week you can quickly go through the pile and pull out the bills and the important papers to address with your senior.

BEDROOM: Easy bed, side table, small chair for dressing and a dresser

  • Life has changed…no longer is the senior going to wear suits and ties to work or dresses to church. Yes keep one set…but remove old clothes and replace with comfortable new clothes that work around the house. Comfort, nice colors and ease is what we want for our senior. New underwear that goes on and off easy. A place for Depends and a throw away bin for used Depends. Get this room…cleared and cleaned.
  • Make sure the senior can reach the phone from bed. That the bedding is warm and easy to use, not heavy and layered deep with covers. Easy in and out of the bed is what will keep the senior safe. If the bed is not working…get the family to flip for a new mattress or get a hospital bed Rx from the doctor that can help the senior in getting up and down easily. New flannel sheets and pillows to keep senior warm and comfortable.
  • If the senior has to walk more than 3 feet to the bathroom…get them a commode for the night-time. That way they can just get up and go to the toilet easy and close…then during the day…they can walk to the bathroom. Think ahead..signs of helpful raised toilet seats and grab bars in the bathroom…are needed…and should not be ignored.
  • No slip on slippers…those are very dangerous. Get a full fitted slipper that has a good rubber sole so the senior can slip it on and walk safely in them.
  • Put small bottles of water by the bed and have them take a few crackers or a yogurt to bed with them at night. If they wake feeling weak…they can reach over and have a small treat to give them a boost. Only allow medications that can be easily taken without thought by the bed. Seniors can wake and think they have forgotten their meds and over medicate in the middle of the night. Be careful and think ahead.


George in his wheelchair we got a cart that would fit through our doorways

George in his wheelchair we got a cart that would fit through our doorways

Things are going to change in the bathroom.

  • The tub needs to have a good bath-bench, a hand-held shower head has to be installed and the toilet needs grab bars and easy to use toilet seats.
  • No scatter bath rugs now needed. You can have one hanging on the tub for bath day use only.
  • A large container of Bleach Wipes to clean the surfaces and the floors when there is any problem.
  • Baby wipes to clean the bottom if there is a loose stool problem and a good garbage can to hold the trash…you do not want to flush baby wipes.
  • I cleared the counter and put a basket there that contained the needed things for George’s care. Depends, bottom cream, wipes box, etc. This kept the area looking clean and I just refilled the basket to keep it all convenient.
  • Time for new towels. Most seniors have towels that are years and years old. Get them a couple of nice bath towels and new hand towels and wash clothes.
  • I used a nice hanging shoe holder for the back of the door in the bath. I filled it with the different creams, lotions, soaps and moisturizer that I used everyday. That kept bottles away from the walk way and the counter to keep the area  feeling clean. This room is going to be the hub of the senior’s care. Bath people will be coming in and problems with going to the bathroom always come – in care giving.
  • KEEP IT clean as you can. You also want a box of gloves for you to wear while you give the senior personal care. I would also use the bleach wipes on the floor with my shoe to quickly clean up the floor on a daily…or weekly visit.

Basic arrangement of furniture, and ease of use items are easy to do once you get your mind thinking safety and clean. This first step can be a lot of sorting and cleaning, but it pays off with NO FALLS and NO BROKEN HIPS! You can care for a senior when they are able to be transferred and mobile. If the senior is not able to move around…you will be forced to have them in a care facility.

I would often sit down with my senior and remind them that the changes were for their safety. If they want to stay “at home” they have to change a few things to keep them there. You can not care for them, if they can not move … ask them to please work with me and together — we can make the house clean and easy as well as bright and cheerful. 

Not a bad start right? Nothing you can not do without a little help from a family member. Make the days that represent change easier by having someone come and sit with the senior as the cleaning takes place. Talking to the senior or playing cards and keeping their mind off of the CHANGE is the key to an easy transition to a clear and tidy surrounding. Vacuum,dusting and adding a small air filter makes the house smell fresh and clean. Airing out the room, changing lights to the new light bulbs and keeping it bright so the senior can see to move around…all these things will start your care giving on a good foundation. You can and you will do it. I trust in your own creativity and inner guidance to make it work.

I always want to remind you…that your time giving care to another…is a kind and loving thing to do. I thank you. francy

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Death, How To Cope When You Are The Caregiver


Death and Dying issues to help caregivers by Francy Dickinson

Geo n francy oilMy Georgie has been gone for three months and I am adjusting to life again. I wanted to continue to share things with you. As you know, I began this blog to help myself and other spouse/caregivers with the issues that come up in daily care giving. I still want to be a voice in the wilderness for those that are giving their love, time, effort and attention to a loved one. Helping someone on their life’s journey is a very special and loving job…I hope you will find my words help you along the way. 

If you have been reading my blog over the years ~ you will remember I have always asked everyone to use hospice services when your senior is nearing death. You never have to be worried about it. The Hospice Services comes into your home and does an assessment of the senior and they share their ideas of how to help you. Their services are paid by a Medicare type of services…it then becomes a special Hospice Service expense and the medications and services are then no longer billed to you. So, financially, mentally and physically Hospice is the way to face the end of life issues with your loved one. It will help you overcome the worry and they will help you step by step…question after question.

That said; Georgie and I did not know he was at the point to call on Hospice. The doctors did not know what was wrong with George. He had a lot of tests and the diagnosis was not known. We had made another appointment for the next Tuesday to see the main doctor and talk to him about placing George in a care facility to review his health issues. In the mean time…we were home alone together. I was trying to understand how to use the oxygen, medications, catheter and take care of his physical needs. I was going on five days without real sleep and the situation was not good and we both knew it.  He was weakening by the minute and it was becoming very hard for me to do transfers and be strong enough to help him. We were ready for his “in hospital” care. I told George that after his stay at the care center I would be asking Hospice to come and help us and he understood that…but his end came before we could move through our plans.

Early on Saturday morning…George was taking his Albuterol breathing session. At the end of the session I went to remove the breathing mask and found he had passed. His eyes closed and he had stopped breathing. It was quiet and fast and I was heartbroken.

What I am going to talk about today is the process that followed. But once again, IF I had had the services of Hospice..all the following steps would have been taken care of for me. I would have been able to sit and be calmed by loving professionals and they would have taken over the different steps that come with a death while in their care. This is why I want you to NOT follow my lead…to avoid the sadness I had to walk through have the Hospice professionals by your side…caring for you and your loved one.

What to do when your spouse, or senior, passes and you are all alone:

  1. When George passed I went into shock. Lucky for me, I had my family and friends on my cell phone and I kept the phone close to me. I knew I was very tired and I had been afraid of my falling and needing help. So I was able to pull out my phone and call family and selected friends and our dear minister – to come and help me.
  2. Everyone arrived within minutes and each of them comforted me in their own way. They were not totally in the know…of what to do…but they worked together to decide on the immediate steps to take. I was in such shock, shaking and crying and just out of it…so they were gentle, loving and moved me through the process.
  3. We all knew we did not have to report the death the minute it happened. I had looked at the clock and knew he passed at 7:10AM but that was not really needed. I was just so struck with sorrow, I had no real knowledge of what was happening around me. That is why Hospice would have been so helpful…but my own support group did their best.
  4. Our minister asked everyone to come and circle around George and say a prayer and when we did that…each of us were then able to feel we had settled the tension and brought the love into a protective circle.
  5. If you have a faith that requires immediate burial, I suggest that you start today to make plans for the end of life. You will need to know the process and have numbers to call. In my situation, I knew that George wanted to be cremated, but we had no time frame to worry about. So we just took our time and did not call 911 until all the family members that wanted to view him, did so and at that time we made our call.
  6. Our local paramedics arrived and asked if they could inspect the body alone.So we cleared out of the room and they looked over things taking note that everything looked like a “natural death”. They wrote down the death and they made calls to the medical examiner and logged it in to the official book as a death with time and place written down. Then they alerted the police.
  7. A while later, the police arrived and they questioned all of us and asked questions about George’s health care and asked me to review the last couple of days. It was very hard for me to do this interview. I was still in shock and my mind was not able to connect properly with their questions. If I had had Hospice…that step would not have happened. Hospice is a legal service and the medical examiner takes their word for it. The police were very kind, but they had a job to do and they did it. Once again, they needed us to clear out and let them be with the body. When they were done…we were released to remove the body.
  8. We did not hurry…once again, we gathered together to say another prayer and wish George a loving passing. Then we called the mortuary services and they arrived to remove the body. I did not have to do anything personally. They simply enclosed the body and took it away. They were very kind and my family was very loving.
  9. My sister felt I needed to be taken home with her. I was still in shock and she wanted me to try to sleep and process the death away from the house.
  10. When I left my home, my friend and daughter-in-law cleared out the bedroom. They disposed of the sheets, pillows and medical things in the bedroom and master bathroom. They tried their best to clean the area so I could return to the house and not be upset. They did a loving job, that I am sure was very difficult for them.
  11. I returned to the house in two days. At that time, we had to go to the mortuary to review the details and pay for the services. They applied for the social security and veteran’s death benefit for me. So the basic paperwork was done.
  12. Now, this is where I will caution you. From that day forward, everyone I knew tried to help me. They gave me advice on social security, insurance, returning medical supplies, my own health, my mental health and so on. It was a constant barrage of information and suggestions to follow their opinions. This was the hardest time for me. I did not want to be rude…I listened and tried to understand what they were saying. But really, it became total overload.
  13. I will ask you to simply, sit and be quiet. Write down things and numbers and make your notes very complete…this is no time for shorthand. Then just take it easy. There is no time frame of getting services and help, insurance, social security and such done. Just do it on your own time.
  14. As usual…others try to take over and care for you. But you have to do it all on your own. It is best of you ask someone to drive you here or there. When we are upset the world does not need us behind the wheel of a car. But just write down a list of to do’s and slowly work through them.
  15. George and I had already talked through end of life issues. I knew he wanted no memorial and wanted a cremation. So, that made it easy for me. What does your loved one want? This is the time to talk and get it out in the open.
  16. The doctor had us fill out the no resuscitate papers and post them up on the kitchen door so the EMS could see them.  We talked about the issues of care at the end of life. So we were in place when his death happened. But what about you?  Do you have your end of life issues down on paper? Please do it for you and for your loved ones. Don’t make more work and worry for the loved ones left behind.

Lessons learned. I am still working on paperwork and details of my husbands death. I am still trying to learn to sleep and eat properly again after so many months of 24/7 care giving. It’s a hard road and I am walking it slowly, alone, but not afraid. I have support of friends, family and my small dogs. I am still working on my feelings of loss and I am still raw with my emotions. But I am taking care of myself now.

I gave care to my mother and my husband until their deaths. Now, its time for me to care for myself. Its hard to do…but I am trying day by day to form ideas of what my future is going to be. I so miss my Georgie’s smile and I can not imagine how I will live my whole life forward without him. But day by day…I learn and do.

I hope this helps you to prepare and take the fear out of a passing in your home. I cleared the house with love and blessed George on his way. I am sleeping soundly in our bedroom. I got new bedding, I brightened up the bathroom and I cleaned and cleared away the sadness of care giving in my surroundings. I now find my bedroom a place of comfort for me and I enjoy spending time there.

I will say…having my family and friends as well as my community of loving friends on Facebook, Twitter and through the group that follows my blog was totally positive and loving for me. I also had a #WritersThatChat group that continues to support me through the long grief process. I am a lucky girl to have had such a dear, as George, with me for over 30+ years. As I walk down my own path of life…I do not do it alone…I am surrounded with love.

Blessings on all that you do for your own loved one. francy

PS/ I find a little reminder of George is so healing for me. I blew up a picture of him and have it in my bedroom with a candle to light. I can have a good chat with him each day…kiss his picture and feel his love any time I am in need. Grief takes its own path…some move through it fast and strong…others have more up and down days. There are no rules for missing someone that you loved…but being ready for the hard time of passing helps.

George Alton Saunders Passed November 1, 2014


George A Saunders Travel Industry Expert Passed November 1, 2014

George A Saunders
Travel Industry Expert
Passed November 1, 2014

I know a lot of you have followed me for years — I have been my husband’s care giver for over 12 years. It is in sadness I am announcing the passing of my Georgie. He was a terrific guy and I will continue on with my care giving hints and ideas…when I have gone through the quiet and reflective time over his passing. francy

End of Life Issues from francy


Young George

Young George

My Dear Georgie is going through his end of life journey…I ask that you send us healing light and love. Day by day, I am facing the challenges that all of us face when we say goodbye to our loved ones.

George not only has Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s he now has a mass in his lungs and they are talking about Mesothelioma. Its a tough way to pass. So, I will be quiet for a while. When I come back…I will repair myself with loads of helpful tips about our journey and the care giving involved. I will have you fluid me with your questions and your worries…but for now…its time for me to be with my Georgie.


But remember…NO FEAR….NO PAIN…that is my motto for passing.

So, I am making all the decisions on his care in that fashion. George has said many 1980 Geo n Francytimes he is not afraid of death…and I know that he will step through it with honor and sweetness as he did his life. Everyone knows him to be a “gentleman” and he will remain that through to his next life.

But I ask you to think of us and send us your kindness and light of love and prayers…we can use them. Once again…remember how important caregivers are…spouses that care…family that care, old friends that tap their hats in your directions, neighbors that bring you food and pals that make you laugh in the middle of crisis. We all need each other in this world…it is a universal village and to send love to each other is a good thing.

imageI am fluffing George’s pillows, taking him to the bathroom, giving him special treats to get him to calm down. I’m adjusting his oxygen, giving him treatments that help his breathing and using calming words, soothing massages, hands on healing…little jokes, sweet kisses, quiet hugs, bringing the dogs to his lap…tears, laughs, holding hands. Listening to his lungs as they struggle to take in oxygen…and worrying that each breath is his last. Its just what you do…its natural and if you let it just be..and let it just flow…the passage is smooth. But my heart is simply crushed.

I am so wishing that we could dance around the living room one more time…before he goes.  Blessings…francy


Dad Does Not Remember Me… Dementia Care


Dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s family care tips by francy Dickinson

George in wheelchair

George watching the Seahawks game in his wheelchair

Dear Francy: I visited my dad last week and he did not remember my name or who I was — I was heartbroken. I don’t think I can make myself go and visit him any more…its so hurtful that he could just forget me. S.

I totally understand the mixed feelings you have inside…it is so hard on everyone involved with the care and love of a senior with dementia or brain disorders.

I want to share something my mother told me when I was care giving for her. She was 100 years old and she had this talk with me after one of her small strokes. She had a series of these strokes and they were always scary but she would rest and perk back up. She wanted to tell me how she felt. “When someone has a newborn baby…the parents and the whole family look for the small changes and growth in the child. When the baby smiles, starts to follow your finger with their eyes, turns over, crawls and walks..the family rejoices in each small step. I am doing that backwards. Each time I have one of the strokes I take a step back. My hands may get weaker, my eyes weaker, I can concentrate shorter periods of time, I walk slower. It’s just small baby retractions…instead of improvements. I am getting worse day by day. Just like babies get better day by day. It is very frightening to me…but I can not change what is happening.” I will always remember her explanation of aging and decline.

Losing abilities and knowing they will not come back is not only frightening for the elder with dementia…but it’s heartbreaking for the close spouse and family members.

To me, its like a small part of the person has left. Leaving means grieving. So in a way, you are starting to grieve the loss of your family member. They may be alive and you maybe sitting next to them…but the part of them that was special and intimate to you has changed…never to return. I have spent many a day grieving and crying over losing parts of my husband, George. One day he is getting up to go and make a cup of tea and the next he is unable to get out of his chair alone, let alone make tea. At first you think, well he will be stronger tomorrow…but tomorrow never comes.

What I have done is allow myself to grieve…to be down and dirty with sadness. I remove myself from my senior and do my tears and anger in another room away from their presence. I often take a walk and clear my mind…and then I return.

When I do return…something has happened. Both of us have changed. I know that George has taken another step backwards and he sees me with a smile on my face and a “begin again” attitude. Because that is what I do. I reset my mind and we begin the day again, with me taking the senior’s small or large change into my care giving routine. I remove my feelings of sadness and I deal with what is in front of me. A person that I love, that is in need of care and I have to give them love in return. Maybe the care is now on a higher level, but the senior is in need of even more of my love and attention.

I know that everyone has a button…yours was your name and your relationship with your dad. I get that…and you should talk about this loss and interact with family and friends over it. You may want to go to your minister, or an older person that has always given you good advice and discuss the loss of your dad’s awareness of you. Call and pay for a professional therapy session, let a professional give you tips on how to work through the bit, by bit…loss of your dad. You may want to start a journal and write down how you feel…and how it has changed how you feel about your own life. Work it out. Because your dad is still here in the world. He is still in need of your love and if the table was turned…he would be sitting there next to you, as you traversed the lonely journey of dementia.

What you do not want to do…is to use your pain and your dad as an excuse to go back to patterns that are unhealthy for your own life. You do not need to use your dad to start to drink, take drugs or harm yourself in any other way. This is not about you…this is about your dad…and your feelings of grief. Its your job work those feeling now, so you can have a healthy emotional life as you go beyond the loss of your dad. Do not ignore the sadness, don’t just shrug your shoulders and think it will not effect your life. You need to be in good health and solid mind to support your mother or other close relatives…so be aware that grief is a personal experience. Everyone goes through the sadness, so sharing it with those that have experienced their own grief and worked through the loss is the way you can stay strong for yourself and your family.

When you have worked on the ideas of who you are without your father’s acknowledgement..then return to his side. Treat him as you would anyone. You start by introducing yourself…”Hi Dad, it’s Stacey– your first and best ever daughter!” And then you sit and slowly talk about your life. Yes, maybe its a wasted visit, because the information will come and go from his mind. But I don’t believe that it’s wasted…I believe and have seen that elders that are visited often, are more responsive and calm during their days. They process their daily life chores in a different way than those that are left on their own and forgotten in the facilities or in their own homes.

I am a deep believer that family and friends are there for life. That means even when someone is unwell…or taking a journey through an incurable cancer, brain or dementia condition…they are there and they are in need of support, love and prayers. You have to work through those inner feelings of rejection and loss…and come out on the other side with the basic love you have always felt for your dad. That love has to now take a new change and express itself with selfless gifting of love and time to your elder…so they can have someone by their side in their journey. No one should be alone at the end of their one…and you will see that you will find the strength to be there with him. You just need to step back and accept the pain, work through your feelings and return to your dad as his cheerleader of life. Together you will support each other in love and even if your visits are quiet…with you reading, sitting next to him….he will feel your love.

Bringing your life and your view of the outside world to your father is the gift you can give. Yes, you will be upset after the visit…but you will go through your own long life ahead with a knowing that you gifted your love to your dad…even on the hardest days of his life. You were there.

I honor your gift of love. Blessings, francy

Would you be kind enough to sign up for the blog on the right of your screen. I am giving George more and more of my time…so this way…you will get my blog sent to you when I have a few minutes to share. Please do send this along to a friend that is going through issues that are similar ~ I would be very grateful.

You Need To Know Tips: Parkinson’s n Alzheimer’s Care Tips


YOU NEED TO KNOW TIPS by francy Dickinson

Georgie w his daughter visiting from California

Georgie w his daughter visiting from California

Dear Francy; Dad just told me his bottom itched…now I am telling you no one could love the guy more than me…but I do not want to be caring for his itchy bottom…Bill, in Sacramento

I get you Bill…it’s like having kids. Someone, someone has to change that diaper…and if the room is empty all but you….YOU ARE THE GUY!

George’s care is getting more and more difficult and his doctor appointments are so frustrating using the Veteran’s. I spend most of my free time, ordering Rx and making appointments. But I have a whole boat load of YOU NEED TO KNOW TIPS— so take notes…you really do need to know this stuff:


  1. Elders have a strong and weak side. Not the side they write or eat with…but the side that is stronger or dominant. As the elder walks which foot is moving better? I have a way to tell…you have the elder hold their arms straight out in the front of them shoulder height. Then as they keep the arms straight they move the arms up and down about 10 inches…like a flutter. You will see when you watch them, one arm is working well and the other is out of balance or rhythm. Now you know which side is in control. What to do with that info? Start to address the weak side. Give the senior pills or their newspaper to the weak side. Sit and talk to them on the weak side. You are trying to get the brain to accept and use the weak side as much as you can. During the exercise time…make sure the weak side is first and does it slower but well. Keep that brain working on each side…so small strokes, or decline in brain functions is being dealt with on a daily basis. If the brain goes a day without talking to muscles…it will lose the ability…keep them moving. 
  2. Keep your senior eating well. If you senior is not eating meat…learn to cut it for them ahead of time. This way they will take the meat and chew it…but you have to look at the plate and think…how you can make it easy to eat and attractive to view. The senior’s mind needs that message…easy, pretty = good food.
  3. Always hungry? Or Senior forgetting they have eaten. I have gotten a lot of small things to eat. Like fish crackers, animal frosted cookies and baby carrots. This way when the senior forgets they just ate dinner or lunch…and they come back to you for more food…you just have a little something to give them in a very small bowl. I have small white bowls for sauces, that I use to fill with a few little bites for them to enjoy…just like you would a toddler.
  4. Even if the senior is using their cane, they need their walker. You need to quietly remind them over and over again…you do not want them to fall. A cane can help them inside the bathroom…but a walker gets them to and back from the bathroom. You can get a cane that stands up..but make sure the base legs are not going to trip the senior. The walker should be really steady, not pretty, steady!
  5. Long before I needed a wheelchair or commode, I got them. I took George into the PT and asked them to Rx the medical needs. With Veterans I got them without any deposit, with insurance you will pay a co pay. But you need them…because the need always comes at night or on a weekend and you are stuck. Do not be stuck…be ready. Be aware that the wheelchair has to fit into your car…and the commode is not light, its weighty. You can keep them in the garage but do it! I always ask my families to ask a member to help them with things like that. Call someone that said, “if there is something you need call me.” This is the time, for the brother, sister, aunt or uncle to pay for the wheelchair or other medical equipment.
  6. UTI’s are not funny…seniors get them often. They will take the senior down fast and quick. So I have to remind you. Ladies do not wipe their bottoms from the back to the front. That puts the feces into the urethra area and infection happens. Watch the dementia senior and remind them to properly wipe their bottom. Men need to clean their penis area. Often running-water issues arise with dementia…so get extra wash cloths and have the senior use one for their face, one for the under arms, and one for their private parts. Do this each morning and life will be easier.
  7. Bath every week, once or twice…and if you can afford it…please hire a bath person. They are so professional and they are in and out of the house in no time. The senior responds well to them and instead of fuss and muss…it is over and done.
  8. These are a life saver gummies ;)

    These are a life saver – gummies 😉

    Pills are hard for seniors to take. “Always” review Rx with main doctor and ask if they are all necessary. Then add the magic. Get a bottle of Fiber Choice “Fruity bites” They are little gummy candy and the seniors love them. I use three of them each morning in the pill container. So George sees the gummies and eats them first and then takes his pills. Instead of arguing over pills you have a happy senior. Plus! The fiber in the pills helps the senior process food easier.

  9. Know the difference from using a daily stool softener and adding a daily fiber addition to the senior’s menu. Have Imodium on hand, Parkinson’s really has a challenge with diarrhea and you want the senior to get the Imodium right away so they do not have a challenge all day or all night.Do not struggle with constipation w seniors, a little green tea before bed will clear it up and the stool softener will keep it all in good shape.
  10. George does not eat like he used to eat…I would say he eats ½ to 1/3 of what he used to eat. So I make sure I give him full plates…I just bought smaller plates to use instead of our everyday large plates. I give him a full dinner, just a smaller amount. I make sure it is well delivered…so it looks like a restaurant plate. That keeps their eye interested and they tend to eat more. If you plop a white bread sandwich on a plate…they often push it away. So give them half a sandwich, a ¼ sliced apple and five or six chips or crackers…that will get them into the food.
  11. Importance of fruit. The l’dopa in the brain bounces up and down like a sugar high or low. A person needs the l’dopa….so you have to keep food at an even level. A 4’o clock Sundowner’s low means you need to perk up the senior. You can do this with apple slices and peanut butter dip, or a small cup of melon with an animal cracker…small treats to rise the sugar and rise the l’dopa. Add a cuppa tea or decaf coffee and they will be happy till dinner.
  12. Kids are not fun for a senior with health or brain challenges. Yes, they love their grandkids…but remember the visiting 20 minute rule. Just tell your kids that they can come and see Grandpa…but only if they are well…and stay 20 minutes. Even that time frame will send a senior to nap for a day after. So be wise, speak feelings hurt…tell it as it is…no kids for longer than 20 minutes.
  13. Sleep is OK…do not get all out of shape over napping or a day in bed. Yes the elder in care needs to exercise…and they need to be challenged with good TV, walks, or sitting outside, calls made for them to talk to old friends and a calendar of events for them to check off each day. But, if they need to rest…their brain needs to rest. They have so little energy, that often the brain needs to be quiet and rest to restore it. If George has visitors, goes to the doctor, goes out to lunch with me…I know tomorrow is going to be a “rest day”. I plan for that in the bigger picture of our week.
  14. Dressing and hygiene…they are really, really important. NO George does not wear a suit any longer, or pants with belts. But George does wear comfy pull on pants that are soft and easy to get up and down. Yes, he has plenty of pants to change into since accidents do happen. Yes he is cold all the time. But I do make sure he has nice layered tops to keep him warm and still look good. No he does not wear sports shoes any longer. Yes he does wear an expensive pair of slippers from Land’s End so he is supported but they are easy on and off. No he has little hair, but yes, I have a nice collection of different hats for him to wear around the house and keep warm. No George does not go out but Yes, I put a moisturizer with SPF on his face every day (Oil of Olay). Facial skin looks horrid as you age…you need to keep up with a good facial moisturizer so the senior sees themselves in the mirror…not a scary old person. Yes, shaving, and deodorant is used every day by men and women, no matter what their age. Yes, older ladies are still ladies they need their hair done and men need a good face shave and haircut. This is what keeps the brain feeling good for the senior when they get up and brush their teeth. They see a person that is clean and looks good. Yes, it means running around for you , the care giver, but this is what is needed to keep the senior in quality-loving care.
  15. Teeth? Yes you need to check their teeth and get them attended too. George and I both use a sonic tooth brush and floss…and we whiten our teeth twice a year with a tooth whitener from Walgreens. It makes our teeth brighter and we look younger the minute the first day of treatment is over. Be smart – keep your senior looking sharp within the parameters of their health. It’s really important!
  16. Toes need to be done…so you have an array of choices. Medicare pays for toe clipping every 90 days at a podiatrist…a bit too long for me. Senior centers have nurses that come and check feet and do the toe clipping each month. A better solution. The best…a nice pedicure at a nail shop. They soak, message, clip and moisturize the feet…I get George a large latte and he sits there in heaven. So I suggest the $20 be used. It’s also a perfect thing to ask one of the adult children, of the senior, to do with the parent. Take them out for a pedicure and then lunch. A great way for the senior to check in with the kids and keep their feet healthy each month. Remember any issues with diabetes need to have their feet checked each month…they do not heal well and the circulation issues makes this a MUST DO.

OK that is it for now…if you work on those…I will get you more…

As George goes farther and farther into his Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s the challenges just seem to be daily. But, as I always say…you just have to suck it up and be creative. Talk about it with family and friends. Send me an email and I will help and over all…take time to breathe…

Thank you for caring for your senior…they need you…and you are giving love to them…how cool is that? Blessings francy

PS: Would you click the sign up button so when I do update my blog you are sent the info. I am doing less blogging because I have so much care giving duties…but I am always here for you. Please pass this on to a friend that is caring for a senior in their lives…thanks! F.

Attn: Tips for Parkinson’s Care


Parkinson’s Care Tips from francy Dickinson

George's 83rd Birthday 2014

George’s 83rd Birthday 2014

Dear Francy; My father-in-law took six years to get a diagnosis for Parkinson’s in the 1950’s…no one knew the signs. Let’s help each other learn the signs and prepare for a long life of health — with Parkinson’s. Not a sad ending to life by ignoring the important steps to take early on in your diagnosis.We can and do have control over how the condition works for us. Unlike his dad, my husband is able to continue a full life…filled with love and family. But we work hard to make his life have quality. from francy


  1. Work with the best. You have insurance and so use it…do not use your family doctor for Parkinson’s. The brain/body problems need an expert that treats loads of Parkinson’s patients. So, go to a Memory Clinic…or neurologist, if you feel your body is not responding well, you have a tremor, hard time walking well, you are losing your balance, 2 or more falls in 30 days, or your memory is worrying you.  They will get you into medications on the front of science and into a program to keep you stronger…longer.
  2. Blonde way to think of Parkinson’s…the brain and the muscles start to have problems interacting. The communication gets erratic or slow and then worsens. If you understand the process of Parkinson’s then the treatment and care become clear. Here is a great site to understand the Truth: Parkinson’s Explained. Better to know and understand what is happening to you or your loved one…instead of being surprised or worried.
  3. Keep Safe with Exercise! From the get go…you have to move. Everyday…you have to re-introduce your brain to your muscles. Like the movie “50 First Dates”. You can not let a day go by that you do not have your brain search and find every one of your muscles. You need to go and enroll in a senior exercise class as soon as possible. It will make a huge difference and tell the leader of the class of your condition so they know how to help you. On top of that…You need five movement exercises you can do each day from now on…all the way to the end of your life. Visit a Physical Therapy person and get a simple routine…you will do this routine forever..on a daily basis. Parkinson’s will change your movement, it will pull your body into a bent over and forward position that causes falls. Medications and your exercises can help you with those changes…so make sure you keep close to the doctor check-ins. But you need to just commit to a routine, that is very simple…every single day. If you have time to go and exercise more GREAT..but if not. These exercises need to be done at home, on your own. Do not think I am joking…you need to do this routine to keep walking, talking and living a full life and staying safe. Be active…I am doing a series of videos and will post…so you can see the easy exercises that help your brain keep a relationship with your muscles.
  4. Nutrition is showing as a very important part of changing the brain to the better to fight the side effects of Parkinson’s. Like any other idea…you need to read up on it. What you will find is that some food helps the medications and some work against it. You will also notice that adding supplements is a key to helping your body process the food. B-12 pills that melt in your mouth in the afternoon…and small snacks can really make an impact on how your body works. Click here for special Parkinson’s Food information:
  5. Talk…one of the side effects of Parkinson’s is being quieter. So as a family member…be sure to interact with your senior and get them to talk. To use that part of their brain…to keep them interested and into the world around them. Having them go out and about and see and do new things…that opens up new brain pathways and this is what we want to elongate the quality of life for anyone with Parkinson’s or any other brain disorder. Singing, dancing, being silly…talking about family history and doing easy chores – all keep the brain in motion.
  6. Forgetful? Yes, another side effect of Parkinson’s is losing brain function in the memory area. So, it means that its important to understand it’s not a worry…its just a natural progress of the condition…nothing to worry over. Just keep moving…keep talking, keep interaction going and do not hide. Hiding in bed, staying in your house…feeling safe in your bedroom or living room…will not change or help…the senior needs to keep their brain moving and interacting. If you see signs of memory loss…or safety issues worrying the senior take them into the neurologist and they will add medications that can help to change the brain functioning. You also need to rest…sleeping and hitting a deep sleep will help your brain to rebuild at night. Sleeping in small spurts does not allow the brain that healing time…talk to the doctor if you have issues with sleeping so it can be addressed.
    Do not give up…medications take a special geeky mind to mix into a cocktail that each senior formulates depending on their side effects. That is why you need to commit to your health care team at the Memory Clinic. So, instead of worry…write it down. Be prepared to report changes you feel in yourself or others notice about you…and share it with your doctor. You will find the doctor is thrilled to be working with someone that is active in their own care.
    NOTE: If you are forgetting, take note that phone apps and services to remind you to take your medications are available…use them! Taking your pills each day is how your brain works…not taking the pills…shocks the brain and it does not work…be smart on this!
  7. Get the worst over with right away. As early as you get the diagnosis, get the end of life issues handled so you can let them be and live on. Talking about all the bad stuff…getting it out and being sad over it…is a natural way of life…doing it right away…is a wise investment in your mental health. It will be years before your life is over….but don’t wait the journey is hard and long–one day you wake up and know that you are too unwell to make sound decisions. Deal with your Living Will situation and get a family/friend/spouse appointed and informed as a part of your medical team…so they can understand what your ideas of treatment are and will follow them as you move forward on your journey. Get it all out…talk about end of life issues and what you want and need for that to happen. Make changes to your finances, or place of living — soon. That way as you fade in abilities…those decisions you have made are signed, sealed and working. Change has been made not in the future and worrying you as your symptoms get harder to manage.
    –> I have often said that I have no idea how a senior, alone can get through the tasks of health care in today’s world. You need a buddy…find a kind and caring person that will not take advantage of you in your down times…and get them working on your behalf. Do not, try to do this on your own…involve someone to be your health team member and they will walk with you step by step and make the journey easier. 
    Download your own state’s Living Will Here
  8. Joy…there is nothing like laughing…nothing like being happy about silly, simple things. Spend time with your younger family members…laugh at puppy and kitten videos, watch old TV that used to make you laugh. Keep your mind in JOY…there will be plenty of time for sadness and worry…so “work” on keeping your own mind or your senior’s mind – in a place of calm…and joy. Sunshine, fresh air– its time to be calmed…learning to meditate (or deep prayer) can also help keep the senior calm when their body is changing and their mind is working slower.
    Ask the senior if they would like faith support. No matter what the care giver believes or the senior believes…if its time to call a faith person like a Rabbi or Minister to come and visit the senior…then make that call. I did, I contacted an old Minister that we had attended his church years before…he was kind enough to come by and talk with George. He puts us on his calendar and comes by with hugs and love every couple of months. George really appreciates the time to chat with a friend and make a spiritual connection. Give the senior the ability to have those experiences no matter what their personal choice of faith is…or even if they have no faith. I also try to leave George alone for a while when the minister is visiting, in case he wants to share something private with our friend…life needs talking out…so does end of life transition.
    Here is a great site if you have no faith connection, just friendly voices to chat with about your worries, no money is exchanged.  
  9. Join a support group in your area or on the Internet. Talk to others and get your mind around your condition and its gradual progression…and work to keep on top of it. I have kept my Georgie, who has both Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s going for many, many years now. I keep him involved with family, friends and the world around him. Even on his exhausted days, that he does very little, he eats well, he moves and does his exercises, he drinks his smoothies and takes his supplements. I make sure each week has something to give my senior so they can concentrate on life…not let days fade into months and emptiness.
  10. Keeping living forward. Read about new ideas on Parkinson’s. Get some of the newsletters to keep you involved with the latest ideas from caregivers and professionals that will enhance the life for your self or your senior. There is no …its too late! There is only try this…then try that. There are cocktail mixes of medications that can make positive changes. There are ideas that each family comes up with to help the senior cope and stay involved sharing and talking make this journey easier for everyone. The trip down the path of Parkinson’s is not short…its long and you can make it richer if you keep thinking forward.

I hope these ideas give you a place to begin and grow. Get on the net and read…talk to others that are dealing with the same situations and just feel it in your heart that your life is worth the extra care you need to give to yourself now. Remember…no matter what they write…YOU are special and your body and mind are different than anyone else’s…so your twists and turns down the journey of Parkinson’s is yours alone. I hope you will chose the path of calm and quality of life. There is so much to live for and your life with…all of us that know you – is too rich to throw away. So, keep working, keep moving, keep eating, keep thinking, keep loving…for your family/friends…but also for yourself.

Please sign up for my blog…click the JOIN button and you will receive my blogs when I have time to do them. My care for my own Georgie is getting long and more intense so I do not blog all the time…but I am still answering your questions and appreciating your input for my own care giving…Yes I am working on my Care Giving Book…I am trying hard to get it all done this summer…thank you for all the requests…Blessings, francy

Coming Fall 2014

Coming Fall 2014

Where to Go When You Need a Hospital for Dad?


How to choose hospitals that fit the needs of your senior in care. by francy Dickinson

HospitalDear Francy; We just got through with a horrible experience at our local hospital. We live in a bedroom community and my dad had been having trouble with pain in his stomach area. He had trouble going to the bathroom and his back hurt. So, we finally took him to the ER at our larger local hospital. We have two hospitals in the area; one is smaller and other is a big trauma hospital with a big ER. We went to the larger hospital thinking they would have a better ER to treat him. When we arrived the ER was packed and we had to wait and wait.  Then when he was in the ER room…there was no room for him! So he was on a gurney in the outer area while a police officer was patrolling the ER. There had been gang trouble and they were trying to keep two rival gang members separated while they treated them. Poor dad, was confused, in pain and totally unable to process why the police were there. It was a nightmare. Why do they let seniors take back seats to these horrible gang people?

I can understand your distress and I assure you they did not take the gang members over your dad. They do Triage and the gang members were in more high risk condition, than your dad so they went first. The problem was that the hospital itself is a haven for high stress when it is a trauma center. So, lets talk about hospitals and get the idea of how to choose them in your mind. Next time when an emergency comes up…you will be prepared and be able to guide the ambulance driver to the right place for your special care.

Triage Means:
noun(in medical use) the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or  casualties. verb to assign degrees of urgency to (wounded or ill patients)

I will assume your dad had prostate or blocked bowel, correct? Those are conditions that older men have and they are very painful. Elders often do not talk about their private bathroom problems with their care givers or family…until the situation gets painful. I understand that and I’m sorry you all had to go through that sad emergency experience. But lets roll back the clock and see how it could have gone differently.

Both elder men and women need to have a verbal check each day. Care giving is part immediate and part prevention. So everyday( I usually do it while I am picking up their breakfast tray) talk to them. “Dad how was breakfast, I see you did not eat very much of your cereal. How is your stomach feeling?” Dad says; “Oh, fine, I was just not very hungry.” You say; “Oh, well lets talk about it. Are you feeling OK..when did you last go to the bathroom?”

Then you go down the list; are you in pain…if so 1-10 how does the pain feel? When did you have your last bowel movement, or – you are going to the bathroom more often..why is that?” It may not be a hit parade topic for a father-daughter subject…but it pays off. You do this day after day and then he will get used to it. The conversation and your voice tone stay quiet and you sound calm…so your senior feels the conversation is normal. Pretty soon, you learn to take note of changes and you can make a quick doctor or nurse practitioner appointment. When you do that, remember to write down the symptoms your senior has been showing or talking about. As you arrive to the appointment, hand the paper over to the office person checking you in and ask them to attach it to the file for the doctor’s review. It will make the appointment go faster and easier for everyone.

As one older, very experienced in-home nurse said to me…”Francy, stay out of the ER as much as you can. It will usually mean more trouble than it is worth for an elder senior.” So, I try hard to catch problems before they get out of hand…but falls and extreme illness do happen and we all have to face them and learn to use the hospital system and keep as informed as we can.

Now, what I found after years of hospital visits is how to choose a hospital in advance to a problem. The smaller hospitals are perfect for ER visits when you have non heart related issues. So, if the senior falls, or has bowel or urinary problems, even stomach pains…that is something a small hospital does best. ERs are always busy…but less stressful in smaller hospitals because the “trauma'” issues are brought to bigger specially designed Trauma Centers…so car accidents, gun violence or heart problems that require loads of equipment and team efforts to solve a problem are their specialty. This huge effort for big care issues is much different then the smaller hospital ERs. Not that smaller hospitals do not carry heart issue equipment, but its nothing like the big Trauma Centers.

Heart issues are always brought to the larger hospital centers that have special heart teams on staff, at all times. So, you know if you have a senior with any heart, stroke or related issues with blood thinning medications…you have a clear path to that large Trauma Hospital. When you get all of this in your mind ahead of time…when the emergency hits…you are prepared.

Share your choices with anyone that will be caring for your senior …so this is all figured out and runs smooth. Every emergency is stressful…so to know the direction to go for help is really a step toward faster care.

Now if your senior is having small elective surgery…you want to once again take on that smaller hospital. But here is where that changes. If your senior is in a questionable situation…or diagnosed with something complicated…you want to find a “teaching or specialty hospital”. Yes, this could mean a drive to a larger city…but the specialty hospitals are simply a godsend when you have a complicated diagnosis from a doctor. When you face a long-term battle like cancer…having a full service cancer center to go to is a super smart way to treat the issue.

So the example would be this. Your senior goes to the smaller local hospital ER and is treated for a blocked prostate. They come back and say that the prostate is showing cancer, what to do?

There are a lot of decisions to be made in case of a complicated diagnosis. Prostate has many different treatment options. My young niece was just diagnosed with leukemia. That was a two-week ride of trying to figure out what kind of leukemia she had, so they could treat it well. If she was in a small town, with a small hospital – I would have asked them to transfer her to a children’s hospital in a larger city. That specialty hospital is trained in children issues, has specialists that deal with leukemia on a daily basis..not every once in a while. She was lucky because she had a children’s hospital close. She is safe and getting a complicated treatment schedule that the “Hospitalists” are well-trained for and she is getting stronger.

Something to know: Hospitality are now the treating physicians in the hospitals. You   will be using a general Hospital, not your own regular doctor  when your senior goes into the hospital. This is what I found for meaning: A Hospitality is a doctor who basically does nothing except take care of in-hospital patients. They do not have private    practices, they strictly do hospital work.

A senior with the prostate blockage and possible cancer would be best at a large hospital with a specialty of cancer or a teaching hospital. That way all the newer treatments are available for the senior and they can give you a full understanding of your choices in treatments. What I have found is that town doctors may be specialists, but in emergencies they stick to what they have done for years. They stay close to treatments and drugs that are comfortable within their experience. I do not want a complicated situation to be handled in an out of date or common way. I want a complicated issue to be handled with a group of specialists that are on the cutting edge and will use different services to make you and the senior informed of the options of care. I also like the idea that a “group” of doctors will be reviewing the situation and debating treatment for your senior patient.

If you are reading this and say…WOW, my dad is older and does not want to have fancy extended care. He wants to pass naturally and easily.

 That is called Palliative Care. Here is what I found on the meaning: With palliative  care, there is a focus on relieving pain and other troubling  symptoms and meeting your emotional, spiritual, and practical needs. In short, this new medical specialty aims  to improve your senior's quality of life -- however you define that for yourself.

What I feel is that the word Palliative Care is an important word for you and your elder/senior in care need to talk about. That is why everyone needs a Living Will/Medical Care Directive. As you make out this form, you will go through the different options of care giving with the senior. You will then know how to make a decision in the middle of a medical emergency. Do they want to be on long-term care? Do they want to have CPR…there are many different questions on the form and the senior will be able to design their own life care. If those decisions mean that they do not want to extend their lives you need to talk to a doctor and get a special paper that says “NO MEDICAL LIFE SAVING SERVICES”. This paper will be signed by the doctor and the senior. So when you call for help and the EMT team arrives they know the rule and the paper is posted and they then do not have to do “any or all to save a life”. This is important to have when your senior is in the last journey of their life. Lots of families do not understand this rule and do not take that extra step. When the EMT or ER people respond to the senior’s needs they can not…just let the senior go…they are legally bound to treat the senior. But if you have the paper that the doctor and senior have signed (its different – in different states) you can show it and the medical team can relax and make the passing comfortable.

Inform yourself on the forms to keep your senior from extreme life saving treatments. Its a form here is what I have found on it: What are “Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment” (MOLST)?
The MOLST form is a standardized document containing valid medical orders about life-sustaining treatment. It stays with the patient and is honored by health professionals across all health care settings.

My mother had the MOLST paper posted…but when she started to bleed from her mouth..I still took her into the hospital and they found she had an ulcer from her medications. They did a small procedure to stop the bleeding and changed her meds. I did not think we should have let her life go, under the situation. It was a small mend and she lived on another two years. You see I knew how to make that decision because we had talked about her care when we did her care directive and I got my name on the paper as her Power of Attorney for Medical issues. I know it sounds complicated…but I assure you…during the care process for a senior these issues will come up. Life is not always “passing away in your sleep”. It can get very complicated. So with my mother…she did not want any fancy testing or complicated or major procedures to extend her life. I knew that and my choices for her care were easier for me because of our talking over her wishes.

To download your state’s health care directive forms FREE click here. 

I have put the hospital phone numbers of my city on my cell phone. I have also thought about when I drive or when I call 911 for help. When my husband George had pneumonia I called a friend to come and help me drive him to the hospital. When he had symptoms of a heart attack I called 911 for immediate help. If you take a few minutes to think over the idea of when to call for help or when to do take action on your own…you will find that you are prepared in your mind…when and if an emergency pops up.

I also have just done a review of how to make sure that you are prepared for the ER hospital trip and possible stay. Here is a link to that blog so you can pack and have your Emergency Kit all ready to go.

George on a rare out and about with me ;)

George on a rare out and about with me 😉

I want to take time to thank you for the care giving you are doing for your senior. I know what a struggle it is to be a care giver and I appreciate all you are doing. Would you do me a favor and click on the “sign up” button on the right side of your screen. I am so busy with care giving for my Georgie (with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) that my blogs are random…this way you will get an email with my new blog info. Blessings, francy

PS Thank you to all of you that are constantly supporting me during my care giving for George. He is getting much weaker with his Parkinson’s issues. So the care giving is more complicated and extended. But we did get out for dinner on Good Friday…to celebrate Easter. We met George’s son and his wife at a local restaurant and had a nice dinner. I picked a place that I could park and walk in on one level. George just wheeled up to the table and I did the running around the buffet to fill his plate. He had such a good time, but it took about three days for him to recover from the extended activity from the out and about. I think of our journey as “creative problem solving’ on a daily basis. I want George’s life to be as joy filled as possible. So, we make most quiet days into little celebrations of current events. He is happy and the care giving needed, is still within my range. Thanks again, francy

What Do You Do When Your Mom Stops Loving You?


How to handle the anger and pain of emotional discourse between parents and caregivers. by francy Dickinson

Francy w her mom, Toots and dear little Mac

Francy w her mom, Toots and dear little Mac

Dear Francy; This is a review of many folks that write to me…that have had very painful experiences with their parents. It could be their mom or dad…or grandmother. Someone that raised the caregiver and had a solid relationship and then it was broken. The pain is not a small issue…it is felt long and deep.

I suppose it starts with me. My mother and I were very close. I was the ‘late in life’ baby that arrived after mother had raised three other daughters. She was older and going into mid-life issues and I really gave her a run for her money. But over the years, I was her escort, I took her to doctor visits, cared for her and her home…included her in vacations with my husband and really felt I was her friend. When she started having small strokes and could no longer live alone, she moved in with us and lived on the lower floor of our home. Her care was long and hard for me. She was with us for five years…and it was in the last few months of her life she began to talk through her personal history…and the more she talked…day by day…the more she decided I had been the pivot point of her life. She told me she could have gone back to work and made a better life for herself if I had not been born. One day, she spent the whole day telling me how she just never really liked me and it was so hard for her to be in my house. I understood that a woman of almost 100 years was working through things. But when your own parent tells you…they really just never cared for you, as a person…it hurts. I am a fully grown woman and I understand the pain of someone facing death with health issues. I understand the dementia that slowly changes the way an older person sees the world….but it still hurt. I also know that mother loved me…she was a caring person. But loving and liking a person are two different things. I am still working with those words she spoke. In little ways I think…that I did all I could to make her life rich and happy in the end. But I know that inside of me, I was just not the right type of person for her. I was outgoing…she was shy. I was independent and she was a person that needed her family around her. I was not afraid of life…she was cautious. But we never had an argument, or bad words, we would laugh and enjoy our friendship all through my adult life. So, those words…those feelings…they are still with me. Mother died at 100 years after living with us for her last five. She has now been gone since 2006 and yet…I am still mulling over her words.

What do you do…when someone that has been a life-long parent or parent figure decides that you are not the person they need or want in their life? Well its very hard. So I am going to use three examples of family caregivers that have sent me emails about their situations that brought them to a place of feeling deep sadness.

Mary was in her late forties with a great job. She had been divorced for three years and her son had just graduated from college when her father died. She had always been close to her parents and so she really stepped up and traveled to her mother’s side. Those trips to help her mother increased and within a year…Mary sold her small home, left her job, friends and son and moved two states away to be close to her mother. Mary found a small apartment, she got a lesser job and she began the three-year care giving of her mother. Her mother was suffering with kidney problems and they became very serious. Mary tried to keep her mom busy with things that brought her joy. They would shop, go to activities, do a bit of travel and gardening together. Mary would constantly think of how to help her mom over the pain of her health issues. Mary quit her job and moved in with her mother in the last year of her life. Mary was her mother’s sole caregiver. She tried to make each day include something happy to talk about and give her mom food she enjoyed and was constantly arranging friends and family to come and visit. As an only child, Mary was really shocked that on the death of her mother…everything that her mother owned, family pieces, property, money and personal items…were all left to the Humane Society. (Who promptly arrived on the door step two days after the funeral to ask Mary to be out of the house within 48 hours.) Mary has moved back to be by her friends and son, who is now married. She started her own business and is busy, busy, busy. But, she still harbors the pain of her mother rejecting her after her death. Never telling her that she was not going to receive things that belonged to her dad and her family history items. She has no idea why her mother made those decisions…but the pain of them haunt Mary. Mary and I have talked about it many times…she has gone on with her life, she is happy and comfortable…but she is wounded.

Roger lost his mother when he was 10 and his dad did his best raising he and his brother. His dad was a professional man and spent very little time around the boys…but hired care givers. As Roger went through life, graduating from college, marriage and success with wonderful children of his own and a great business career…his dad often told him how proud of him he was so Roger always felt loved. It was when his dad had aged and lived alone a long time.. that things started to crack. His dad told Roger that his brother had been helping him more than Roger and he was disappointed in him. He would call and tell him that the brother was there when he fell or went into the hospital. Roger was really upset. He called his dad every other day. He lived about an hour’s drive away and would come if his dad needed him. But his dad never told Roger of his health issues or of any need…even when Roger asked and came over to check on him. Suddenly…it was like his dad was using Roger and his brother as bouncing balls. His brother always coming out ahead. This tension went on for five years…constant worry over his dad and his dad’s care…upsets between he and his brother…upset with what his dad wanted and needed. Then when his dad had his final heart attack and Roger raced to the hospital…his dad had put his name down as “blocked from visits”. When his dad died…he was even asked not to come to the memorial. Roger, a man with a family, grand children, money and friendly disposition…is suddenly out of favor. His own father rejecting him from his life and death. Roger has talked to me about this for many years…those actions of his dad…have caused Roger so much heart ache and feelings of failure.

Anne was the 8th child and the beloved baby of her family. They were all close and caring people and often gathered together in their parents large home for holidays. Family gatherings were filled with jokes, laughs and love. Stories of the family history, grandchildren running around and simple joy of being together. So when her mother died…it was not only hard to be without her…but the family gatherings stopped. No one really stepped up to take them over…the family slipped apart. Soon her dad was alone in a large house and none of the other siblings, but Anne, were coming to visit or give him care. No matter how often Anne would talk to the family members…they were busy and had their own lives. So she and her dad just forged ahead. At first Anne tried to keep the house and garden up like her mother did. But Anne had her own family and she simply could not do two homes. As the house became overwhelming…her dad started to get quiet and sad. Finally, his health was not good enough for him to be alone…so Anne and her husband had him come and live with them. Her dad sold his house and remodeled a garage at Anne’s place so he could have a place of his own, but be close. Then Anne began the high pressure care giving of someone with health issues and the running back and forth to deliver food and care from her house to the back garden cottage. Anne had three boys who had spent their life adoring their grandfather but now he wanted quiet and was always complaining about them. Her husband would go over and watch TV with her dad and then the complaining began that he did not have privacy. A lifetime of a quiet, loving dad had started to turn into a man who was mad and his own anger was directed at Anne. The rest of his kids rarely came to visit…no matter how much Anne tried to get them to come…so the dad felt it was Anne keeping them away. The situation was not just hard, but hurtful and three days before her dad passed…he had called a retirement center and told him he was being abused and needed to move in with them. Anne was too busy to think about the sadness when her dad passed…but now that her own kids are grown and out of the house she has more time. Anne cut ties to her siblings…she just could not deal with the thoughts that people she loved were not there for her when she needed them. She has worked through the anger over what her dad had done…at the end of his life…but the reporting abuse has left her feeling such pain. She still does not understand why her dad would say things so hurtful about her.

So, that is the review of issues between parents and their children…who have grown into adults and gave their love back to their parents. What to do? How to heal? I have talked this over with so many family members that I know that just saying it meant nothing…the hurtful words, actions or times…are just forgotten. But the hurt does not go away. You can tell yourself that an older person has fear of dying issues…but hurtful words and deeds take their toll.

What most of us have decided is that talking about our pain helps…even if we have to repeat the story a few times with a few different people…it helps hearing it in your mind and through your ears. Making a personal pledge that we will not do anything like this to our own family caregivers when the time has come is also helpful. But the most we can do…is to simply put the experience down as a sad life story…and try to move on through our lives.

Care giving is a gift…and just like any other gift…it can be accepted with grace and a thank you…or it can be taken and put aside and not appreciated. When you take a step back you see the bigger picture..but you can not step back far enough not to wonder why…the one person you loved and tried to help…took advantage of you. Just know you are not alone…and your own moral compass gave you the ability to help and love your family member at a time in their life when they needed to have someone to help them. That knowledge means you tried your best…and nothing more needs to be said. Even thou your mind and heart will never forget the slight from someone so loved by you.

I want to once again, thank you for all you have done and or are doing for your senior in care. They need you, even if the journey is not pleasant…they need your love. Blessings, francy

Seniors Can Have Their Steak and Eat It, TOO!


How to keep seniors eating the food they enjoy even if they have eating, swallowing, chewing or strength issues with recipes for shut-ins.  by francy Dickinson

My Georgie at the Cafe

My Georgie at the Cafe

Dear Francy; My George had cabin fever and kept asking to go out with me. That is not possible when I am running around…so I planned a simple meal at a local cafe for Sunday Brunch. It takes 2 hrs. to prepare George for leaving the house. Then the wheelchair, car, drive and unload the wheelchair and get him safely inside to a table. Then he often does not know how to make a choice with a multi-dish menu. So, I suggested the PrimeRib and did not even give him the menu. He agreed. When it arrived…he began to dig in…and I was shocked to see he was unable to cut his meat. Wow, his abilites with the combo of Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s are really going away. I cut his meat…and then he was happy and made his way through the meal with horseradish, au jus and stuffed baked potato…YUMM. But a little bit of me was sad that he had made such a big change in his eating abilities.  


When mother was living with us (from 95 yrs -100 yrs old) she came with really bad teeth. I don’t know why she had let her teeth go so badly. But they were just a mess…so we had them pulled and got her dentures. During the process of healing and before the dentures…she would tell me how she was so looking forward to having a “real steak or pork chops”. I understood…she was raised and then later cooked through the meat and potato time of home cooking…so she longed for her old flavors. The day that she got her dentures…I had a pork chop with Rice a Roni and asparagus for her dinner and she was a very happy camper. Life changes are hard for all of us…going up a size in your clothes or going down in your abilities to eat food you have always enjoyed.

I understand that many folks are eating more chicken, turkey and fish along with a vegetarian diet…but most seniors still enjoy their beef. So here are a few tips to help you through the process of feeding your senior beef. Even if you are not eating it along with them…make sure that they get a good beef dinner every other week. That will keep them happy and give them the protein they need.

If you are lucky and can afford fancy cuts of meat…I bless you. I am not. I have to shop for beef and find it within my budget. I do have a couple of tips. One is to buy lesser cuts and then prepare them so they have tenderness and flavor. I also look for un-advertised “manager or in-store” specials. Those specials will have a sign on them for a fast sell..the meat is getting to the end of it’s “sell by” date and so even good cuts can be cut in price. Sometimes it will be less then half the original price. I find these cuts usually are on the shelf in the morning hours before noon…and so I try to hit the stores early so I can take advantage of being first in line. Then there are steaks that are large and the cuts may even be thin…but if it is a good price…I buy them. Usually a good price means a good family size package, but I never worry about that…I am a freezer girl.

Deny Tenderizer

Deny Tenderizer

I just bought a kitchen tool that is simply the bee’s knees of tenderizing. It has many steel needles that you use to prick the steak and it cuts through the meat and leaves it tender. Then you sprinkle your favorite steak spice mix over the top and it sinks down into the meat. You let the meat sit in the fridge for a couple of hours and then put it out to come to room temperature and it will grill up so easy. It makes the meat easy to cut, easy to chew and easy to cook in an even pattern. I often cook more than we will eat…then I slice the left overs to put on top of a salad the next day…YUMM

Mother was the Queen of Budgets and she had a trick with less than stellar meat. She would marinate it for 3 to 5 days in a freezer ziplock bag. The meat would come out so tender and tasty you would never know it was not a top/prime cut. So here is the recipe…I know you will enjoy it. Please give it a try.


Heavy ZipLock type bag for 3-5 day Marinade

Heavy ZipLock type bag for 3-5 day Marinade

1/3 cup olive oil poured right into the gallon size Ziplock bag.
1/8 cup soy sauce (low sodium is what I use)   *  1/8 cup wine (left over red or white…or wine vinegar–or rice wine vinegar)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley  *  1 Tbsp minced garlic (I buy a jar of it pre-minced in the veggie department to have handy)  *  1 Tbsp dry minced onion  * cracked pepper -Do not add salt, use that when the marinade is finished and you are ready to cook the meat.
Mix it all in the bag and place the meat in and take out the air and zip close the bag carefully so your meat tray does not get wet. I always mark the day that I want to use it..usually on the third day…so I don’t get busy and forget the process. Then I put it in the bottom of the fridge in the meat drawer and every day, I turn it over to really keep all the meat covered with the sauce. (Yes, I do use the Deny tenderizer blades but that is a new step, mother never had one…and the marinade always turned out fabulous!)

Now if the senior has trouble cutting their food. You can put the meat in the freezer for about 15 minutes before you put it in the marinade. Then take it out and easily cut the meat into strips…marinate it like that. When you are ready to prepare the meat you can then cut it further or it will be soft enough for the senior to cut on their own.

RECIPE for preparing the meat once it is marinaded.

Fast Stir Fry Recipe

Stir Fry the meat strips (or cut into smaller bite size)  with a great mix of veggies from your own veggie drawer or buy a frozen Stir Fry Veggie Mix…they even have a fresh Stir Fry Mix all made up for you in the fresh veggie isle. You will use a bit of sesame seeds in olive oil and heat it..then quickly fry the meat strips on both sides keeping the mixture moving in the pan and then add in the veggies. Toss the veggies around so they mingle with the meat. When the veggies are getting a little soft…you use a couple of Tbsp of the marinade as the juice for the stir fry and cover the pan…lower the heat for a couple of minutes and you will have a great dinner in under 8 minutes. Serve over rice.

Old Fashioned Meat and Potatoes Fry Recipe

Once again you can use strips or smaller bite size cuts of the 3-5 day marinade meat. First heat up the pan with veg/corn oil and get it hot. Slice a medium sweet onion and separate the rings and put into the hot oil…keep on top of this…you want your onion to slowly caramelize and it will smell so good while you stir it around the pan. Then when the onion has taken on that wonderful caramel color add in your meat and stir it all till the meat is browned. Do not over cook it…because the marinade meat cooks fast. Then add in sliced fresh mushrooms and cook till they are tender. You will want to add a small pat of butter and 1 tsp of the minced garlic while you are stirring the mushrooms.

Swanson's Beef Flavor Boost Packets

Swanson’s Beef Flavor Boost Packets

In another small pan or in the microwave…make up a pre-packaged brown gravy mix…or mushroom gravy mix. I like to use my favorite Swanson’s Beef Boost Seasoning Packets with a little water in a pan and stir in Wonder Flour and it will thicken up in no time. YUMM…love a quick nice gravy.
Now pour the gravy into the meat and mushroom pan and stir it around and serve over noodles, mashed potatoes, or rice. Old fashioned meal, with a quick and easy twist. Hello…tell me when you make this, I really do want to be there for dinner 😉

Blessings on all you do for your senior. Because of you, your senior has the love and care that will keep them safe and comforted on their journey. Please click on the “sign-up” button so you get my updated blogs. Because Georgie is getting more advanced in his need for care…I have less time to spend on blogs. But I am always here for you if you have issues or questions on care giving….Thank you for sharing the site with your friends and family…I really appreciate it. francy

Are You Ready to Take Your Senior to ER?


How to be ready for emergencies so you and your senior can get to the hospital and be comfortable while you deal with the Emergency Room or extended stay. by francy Dickinson

GrabnGo ER Kit 4 You!

Grab n Go Ready ER Kit – Just 4 You!

Dear Francy; I live in a small community and my dad lives with us. He had issues last week, his heart was in a race and he was fainting…on the floor…I was in a panic. I called the doctor, because dad was on a lot of heart meds and they said take him to hospital. A neighbor helped me get him in the car and off we went for a 28 minute drive to the hospital. Once there…they took over…but I just lost my head. I had none of his information with me, we start in ER and then were there for two more days while his drugs were adjusted and watched.  I was exhausted, worried and still dressed for work. It was an all around horrible situation. I remembered you talking about being prepared…I failed on that end…would you review the ideas for stress and emergency room trips. Thanks..Cindy, New Mexico

Thank you Cindy…don’t feel bad…I’ve been there too. You sit in that hospital and are uncomfortable…and can not just race home to change or get your things….so what I suggest is that if you are caring for a senior….YOU NEED A BAG FOR THE ER!

I have heard the stories for years…a spouse, family member or dear friend goes into a serious backward spiral and you know that you have to call 911 or take them to the hospital yourself. You are caught up in the moment of panic, worry and actual action of caring for the senior. Out the door you fly…to drive behind the ambulance or drive to the emergency care place yourself. The last thing on your mind is comfort..your mind is racing and your heart is in a high state of worry. But once at the hospital…everyone starts to ask you questions…social security numbers, health card information, does the senior have allergies, what are the medications that they are taking…you stand there in stunned silence…just wanting to be in the ER with your spouse or parent…and there you are – stuck with answering questions that you are not prepared to answer. After that nasty 15-20 minutes…you try to find your senior and they have started treatments. They are telling you things and you wish you could write them down…new ideas for treatment, interactions of medications and you are just trying to breath and tell your senior that they are OK…just hang in there. Then the ER puts the senior in a side area and they have to wait…wait for tests, wait for doctors to arrive, wait for ER or CAT scans…and the minutes stretch into hours and hours…then they say they will put the senior in a room for a couple of days…they want to keep them on close watch. Close watch? That means you don’t leave your senior’s side.

You are tired…your phone is on the last few minutes of energy…you have no phone numbers with you to use the hospital room line. You need to drink some water, have a snack but its the middle of the night and the cafeteria is not open yet and no change for the snack machines. You have now been at the hospital for 4-6 hours and you are looking at an over-night stay…sitting in a chair in the room. Nasty….and all of us…have gone through all of this and there is no reason to do that to ourselves….we do enough just loving and caring for our seniors. We need to be prepared for these fast, unscheduled emergencies….so we all need to put a kit together for our own use.

“ER Grab n Go Bag” 

If you have not experienced this yet, please believe me…it happens…your senior can fall or become unwell in an instant…and you will be faced with all this drama…and wind up feeling like a fool that you did not plan ahead to make the trip so much easier for your self. REMEMBER: the hospital is going to give full care to the senior in the emergency…YOU are the one that is not going to be cared for…you are simply in their way…so you stay quiet and try to stay close to your senior so you can give them calm and love. BE PREPARED!

ER Info Kit for your Senior

ER Info Kit for your Senior


I keep an ER info Kit for George in my handbag…and one in the kitchen. I have given one to my sister and his kids know where I keep another copy. I have all the info that the ER entry office person is going to ask me. There is a good copy of all his cards, front and back. There is a review of what he is allergic to and his personal needs for check-in. There is a very detailed medical prescription and doctor listing and there is Power Of Attorney or a letter signed…that allows you to give and get medical information. I also tuck in the driving instructions so if I get too nervous or stressed…I can still get to the hospital. This is a must…and you have to take time to type it up and make copies…and then you are set to go. I update my medication listing…and you will find a whole blog on the details on April 21, 2010 called “If your senior goes to ER, are you ready” Please put that in the search bar on the top of the page and read over that blog…it has all the details for the paperwork to get you in the out of the check-in process of hospital or doctor visits. I can not tell you how many health care professionals tell me how they love my kit…you will too.

Just remember this information is all of the personal ID on the senior and it has to be kept private and safe…so keep it protected...I use a plastic envelope and I also have a whole booklet that I use for his medical information. If you do put together the “Grab n Go Ready Kit” you will also have a spiral notebook n pen to take notes. Trust me…I have given care to my mum and my husband for over 10 years now…you need these items when you go to the doctor and the hospital. I know you may think they have all the patient’s information in their computer system…but you are wrong…info is rarely updated and they often lose the patient in the computer files. Be ready to give them any thing they need to help the senior get well in the middle of a crisis. Do not count on your mind…even ss# can be forgotten or mis-stated when you see someone you love in peril! (NOTE: What I remember is wasting time at the check-in window when I wanted so badly to be with my frightened 95 yr old mother in the ER room…to keep her calm. I did all of this so I would never have to repeat that.) The next time we were at the ER…the check in lady…just took my paperwork and told me she would enter it all and bring it to me in the ER…it was perfect. I have been thanked by nurses, doctors and admin-people for having the information so well-organized and it only took the time for me to enter it into the computer the first time. I update the info every six months or on medication changes. Easy -peasy for no stress check-in’s.


hospital sleeping chair

Well this is the chair you get to live in for a couple of days. As you can see it is not pretty, but it does recline and you can stay in the senior’s room…by their side and be part of their healing team. Even a First lady, does not get anything better than a sleeping chair in most hospitals. But trust me…its a lonely place if you don’t have anything with you.

So, out comes your ER GRAB n GO READY BAG…and you have a few things to make yourself feel comforted and rest as you help your senior do the same.

  1. Comfort and Warmth; I put an old pair of sweats and a warm top in the bag…with cozy warm slipper socks…that way my clothes are presentable to the public…but totally comfortable for me to sit and sleep. I also have a throw…or you could put in a hoodie so at night you can be extra warm…the hospital rooms are always cold to me. They often give you a blanket…but its never enough for me. As you see the chair it does have a lift so your feet will be up and the back will tilt. I have a pillow collar that I can tuck under my head or put on my lower back to ease the comfort level. You can get blow up neck pillows in the travel department. They are honestly the best gift to yourself in this situation. (I would rather use my things instead of hospital things…its a germ thing with me…my things make me feel safe, not worried about catching something)
  2. A small water bottle is in my bag…you can refill it in the hall with the drinking fountains. This is just a must…I don’t want to be buying soda all day…and swell up…the hospital can have dry air…so stay hydrated. I also have a couple of snack bars…to get me through. Usually the emergency is through the night and when I am able to take a few minutes to eat…the cafeteria is not open and you are faced with only snack machines. So, I have my snack bars and I tuck a few dollars in an envelope and keep in my bag. Often times, I am out of cash in my purse so this makes it easy to get anything I want out of the machines…and then I can also go to the cafeteria for a sandwich or soup during the day. I also tuck in a few tea bags and sweeteners…you can always get hot water from the nurse’s station…and it tastes so good to relax and calm yourself with tea. You can also ask them if there is a snack fridge for family….the VA has a nice area for us to go and get hot coffee, yogurt, or pudding etc – any time, when we are with our loved ones. Don’t be afraid to ask…it maybe there for you, just steps away from the room.
  3.  Keep clean…wash your hands until you drop when you are in the hospital…and I have a small hand cleaner in my bag with Kleenex if I get snuffy. Plus…you will never find me wo/ my Advil. I have a bad back and I tend to get pressure headaches…so my little package of Advil that I got at the Dollar Store is heaven-sent when I’m in need. If I was taking medications…I would have a couple of ziplock baggies with a couple of days of those in my Ready Bag too. Nothing worse than going without your bladder or blood pressure med for a day or two…add in the stress and your body will really complain.
  4. Bored? Remember…people that are unwell…sleep. The hospital will give them drugs to keep them calm…but what about you? I bring a book to read. I use a Kindle but you don’t want to depend on remembering that….as you run out the door. A good old fashion paperback book and a pair of readers can be tucked in and ready for you to dive into and remove your stress in a good story. An older Mp3 player is also a great tuck in…yes, TV’s are in the rooms…but often they are on a channel that you don’t like or you can not hear them…so I make sure I have my own things to keep me calm. If you are a knitter…just tuck in an old project you have never finished…in a zip lock bag and its there for you. Think what it is that you enjoy…and make that happen in your Ready Kit.
  5. Calling the family? You need to have a re-charger in your bag…buy one that will recharge all your devises and if you tuck in your reader or tablet as you run out the door…you will be able to keep them going with your charger. Your mobile phone is your lifeline to the family…but many times the hospitals…block the cell phone signals. What then? You have to walk all the way to the front of the building and make your calls…not an easy thing to do. I had that happen to me and it was exhausting. So, write down a few of the key family phone numbers to keep posted. You can always ask them to send the information out to others. This way you can use the in-room telephone for local calling. I have my number in the front of my spiral notebook and I’m ready to go.
  6. Pets left behind…what about the mail? After a long stay in the ER and then you find out you maybe in the hospital for a day or two longer….have a neighbor or friend that has a key to your home and will take care of your pets. They can also pick up the mail and put it in the kitchen for you and just keep the lights out and everything in order while you are gone. I always put a key ring with my name on it…so the neighbor can keep it and knows who it belongs to — it could be a couple of years before the call could come for them to help….once you have this info in place…you can relax and know that all is well without you leaving your loved one to run home.
  7. A Ziplock baggie with little things that mean something to you…to keep you calm. Maybe you need cough drops…or lip balm. A new toothbrush and small toothpaste. Hand cream and face cream…Glasses and a glass cleaning cloth. Maybe you are a person that needs a few peanuts to keep you going or hand wipes to feel clean. If you are in need…you can tuck in a few Poise/Depend pads. Think comfort. NO the bag does not have to be a huge case…its just a big tote…but keep it full of things that bring you comfort…so when you are stressed and worried…you can keep yourself calm.
  8. If you forget your tote…then you call a friend to retrieve it from your hall closet and everything is in the tote..instead of the friend wandering around your home for a “few things”.

I suppose you read this and think…Oh, I will get on this pretty soon….please do not do that. Go right now and just put a few things in a bag and tuck it in the hall closet. You can make it fancy or expanded later..but get the ER senior’s information kit, in order and a few things in your own Ready Kit–RIGHT NOW. Its like giving yourself a gift…and you will rejoice in it if and when the day comes that an emergency hits your home…and you can just open a door grab your Ready Kit and walk out the door caring for your senior in need.

I always want to thank you for caring for your senior. Would you do me a favor and “sign up” up for the blog. That way it will come to you via the email and you will not miss any of the tips…and if you know someone that is a care giver…please share my blog with them…thank you.

As a spouse of a Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s senior…I find the care giving can be so overwhelming and it represents such love. The gift of care is the dearest thing you can give to a person that has become unwell, unsteady or confused.

My Georgie has been declining a great deal lately. Falls and safety issues are a daily challenge for me to handle now. I am not blogging as much as I would like…but know I’m here for you to send me a message if you have a question or need help.

I am pleased to say I have a dear friend that helps me with my care giving….and I want to thank you for just “being there” for me in this journey I am taking with George….Friends are the best. I hope you feel I am on your friend list and you will feel free to ask questions that you may have at any time….Blessings…francy

Me with my friend Cheryl who is always helping me with George and supporting me as a loving friend...Thank you Cheryl!

Me with my friend Cheryl who is always helping me with George and supporting me as a loving friend…Thank you Cheryl!

10 Tips for Seniors “in-Care” to Kick-start 2014


Ideas to keep a senior looking forward to the new year…to throw off the current depression over the holidays by francy Dickinson
George napping with Kirbee and his new, warm throw

George napping with Kirbee and his new, warm throw

Dear Francy; Uncle Chuck is really lagging behind since the holidays. He is tired, quiet, and his eating has fallen off. How can I get him revved up? The winter is long and cold…very little around to excite him and I don’t want him to jump down into a depression?

This is a big deal for a lot of seniors…even if they are not shut in’s…they start to dread the winter months and have very little to look forward to, in their daily life. Here is how I am helping George through the down feelings he was displaying from the holidays, into an up attitude for the winter.


  1. Update your wall calendar...let them see January, Feb and March. I know you have a calendar on your cell phone. But a senior needs to see the calendar in the hall or kitchen so they can feel the day and month changes. That way they keep an eye on the forward movement of time. Mark the football playoff’s and the Super Bowl, then the start of the Olympics. Talk these events up. If there are family birthdays…put those down on the calendar and add a picture of the family member so the senior can be reminded of which grand child is celebrating their birthday. Make the week busy on the calendar with appointments and really keeps them looking ahead. Talk about it..everything in life needs a bit of PR:
    “We have lots to do this week, doctor appointments, a birthday, the football playoffs and I see that Sherlock Holmes is returning with new episodes this month.” (Add in the senior’s personal interests and take just a few moments of time on the web to look up something that is current and relates to the senior’s hobby or interests.)
  2. Weekly outings. Before George’s Parkinson’s took his legs and muscles away that caused me to add more time with him to help him walk….we would schedule things to do each week or at least twice a month. What is up in your area? You can find local events that are free or almost free…on your own town’s website. We have a playhouse that has a Thursday night once a month, that is on “love offering” to view the play. We have older movies in a local movie house that are reasonable and make a fun out and about. We have George’s friends from high school that come to visit and I get out the old photo albums, we have family that will come and enjoy the football game with George. Special dinners on Friday nights that are served in the dinning room instead of on a tray and early morning hot chocolate while you watch the sun rise. You can make the outings short or long…but make them fit the senior’s health, energy and interests. It takes time to be involved with the senior on this level…but the return of mini-excitements is well worth your efforts.
  3. Just add a few changes to the routine. So, George started to show signs of skin problems (with all his sitting in a chair routine) I had to change his routine and get him to move his weight from one cheek to another – every 40 minutes. So, instead of just getting him to stand and moving the pillow. I have added a little jig. When he stands he walks fast in place with me holding him and walking too. We do all of this together. He does this little jig for just a couple of minutes. Then we stand and take a deep breath and do an arm stretch that takes the arm and his upper body around as far as it can go and back. I hold on to his other hand to steady him. Then I let go and get him to balance and we laugh and do (we must, we must, we must develop our bust –you remember those) then in the end (still holding his hands) we bend our knees together and stuck out our bottoms and then stand up and pull those bottom muscles in as tight as we can hold them. This simple, few minutes throughout the day…has gotten him to have a steadier walk and better transfer muscles. Who knew? I did…I figured it out, because I got quiet and thought about what would help him. YES…it means I stop what I am doing every 40 minutes and spend a few moments with him…but the connection is good for both of us 😉 Don’t wait for doctors to tell you what to do..just get creative and see the changes for the good
  4. Is your senior cold? I was lucky enough to buy an electric blanket (throw size) for George this year. I bought it for Christmas gift, but gave it to him when we had our nasty cold weather here in the northwest, in early December. Boy, has the heat around his lap been a hit. I don’t have to turn up the house heat and I don’t have to dress him in 12 layers of clothes. He also got a nice travel pillow set with a small soft cushion and neck cushion and those came just in time to help George with the change of weight throughout the day. He is able to cozy into his electric Lazyboy chair and really get warm and rested. If your senior is using an older chair…or multiple throws to give them warmth…add a new layer of electric warmth…its been a big hit!
  5. Does your senior spend their day staring at a TV set? Well its time to change the chair…give them another view…put the TV in front of the window…so they do see the TV…but they can also enjoy the view out the window. Or move the chair to the largest window in the room and adjust the rest of the furniture. This keeps the senior involved with a fresh view. I also talk to George about what I will be doing in the spring…add a bird house to watch or a bird feeding station right outside his window. Add a fountain or a privacy fence so the senior can really enjoy the view of the trees, plants and right now “snow” right outside his window…instead of just having a darkened room with a TV blaring. Make their daily view new and interesting.
  6. OH, TV blaring...there are two things to let you know. First…we added something called a TVEars to the television a long time ago. It is a headphone system that allows the senior to hear the TV in both ears and gives you a break from the loud speakers. Then there is a new TV, that is easier to see and enjoy. Its time…for a flat screen for Grandpa. That is a fun way to have the kids and extended family put money together so the TV expense can be shared. It will be enjoyed…for hours everyday!
    Then the shock when a good friend got us a surround sound system. Instead of having the TV sound blaring so loud that the whole house is shaking…it moves the sound into higher and lower ranges and George can have one of the speakers right by his chair and I can turn the volume way down. He can still hear the voices and understand the story lines. I also have the “caption” turned on the TV…but the surround sound has really made a huge difference in the quality of TV for both George and I. (Thank you ‘Uncle Bob’)
  7. Time to change the daily menu...or just change the look of the everyday food? How about going to a small snack every 2 hours instead of the heavy meals three times a day. When George started to eat less…I started to think of ways to change the food. You can do this three days a week and then use the rest of the week for the usual Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. I think you will find it’s easier for you to prepare small snacks and the seniors love it. I also have added a thermos of hot tea or ice water…so I do not have to run into the living room every five minutes. George is forced to think about refilling his own cup and giving him a task is a good thing.
  8. Problem solver. Both men and women want to feel needed. So sharing a problem with them and asking them to just listen or share their input is a good thing. Some times the senior shares information that is worth its weight in gold. Sitting, talking and listening for a few minutes each day…means the senior feels worthwhile and needed. You do not have to share heavy-duty stress issues…just the perplexing life situations that have to have attention.
  9. Keep the senior clean and wearing clothes that are new — not from their 1990’s closet. Often seniors feel they don’t need to update, they rarely go out and see anyone so who cares? They care!! Its time to get the senior some new daily shoes with gel in-soles and support. Shoes or sturdy slippers that look fashion forward and clothes that are made of cozy materials and are easy to wear…but newer and have color and fashion. This idea of getting both men and women to have their hair done, enjoying a treat of a pedi-cure at a local nail shop and/or wearing clothes that make them feel fresh and new…can raise the emotional outlook of 2014 up a few notches.
  10. Thinking. George does not need a daily paper…so my friend Cheryl has gotten him a subscription to TIME. That way he can read about the news in a full story form and understand it much better…than TV 24/7 day-to-day reporting of a current events. I often get him a Sunday paper and then bring him the small local papers when I go out shopping. George does not remember the information that he reads, his Alzheimer’s has taken his immediate memory…but he feels calm and safe with old routines. The TIME and Sunday paper are there for him to read and ‘think’ over and talk about, when ever he needs them…so he is not just watching TV. You and I may get our news from the net…but seniors feel safe with reading the headlines.

I hope these ideas get your creative juices flowing and you can add a few new things for your senior this month. 2014…it has a good sound to it and even though many seniors (in care) feel like their life is almost over….its really is just another new year…they may have many, many more…so its best to keep their chins-up and push them into the new year with a smile instead of quiet silence….
Thank you for taking time to care for your senior…keeping them at home, happy in a care facility or safe at home with you…all of those things means you have to give them your time and love…added to your normal life routine, it can make for a crazy/busy life…but you care enough to push through and still have a smile. That shows what a great person you are…thank you. Blessings, francy

Tea Cup Candle made by my niece, Shelley way to remember Grandma's china ;)

Tea Cup Candle made by my niece, Shelley way to remember Grandma’s china and easy to do with candle wax, scent, and wick…EASY  😉

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Re-Charge Ideas for Family and Care Givers in 2014


How to keep caregiver’s energy, emotions and health strong and re-charged in 2014 by Francy Dickinson

Care Givers have to be charged up and ready to go…
in order for their seniors to receive good care in the new year.

George and my niece Pam- at the table for Christmas dinner

George and my niece Pam- at the table for Christmas dinner

Dear Francy; I thought when the holidays were over I would be able to re-group and feel more involved and ready to give my mother another year of care. Its just the opposite, I thought this care giving would be a few months to a year at the most. Now, its three years and she is so filled with anger and upset…that I can hardly be nice…let alone excited about sharing my home with her for another year of my own life. I know that sounds horrible…I guess I am just getting to be bitter and I thought I was a nicer person. Do you have ideas to help me boost up my energy? 


I can not walk away from my husband even though his Parkinson’s/Alzheimer’s is going full force. Its not just ‘my duty’ as his wife…it’s my own choice to do the care giving…so as I arrange for George’s doctor appointments in the early part of the new year, I am also thinking how to help myself. I need to re-charge and get my mind and body in order so this year can be healthy for me and the days filled with happy activities for us both. Instead of living day by day in boredom or stress.

10 Things to Begin the New Year of Care Giving:

  1. The care giver’s personal health. Review how you are feeling. Are you able to obtain insurance? I know you get so into caring for your senior…but how are you doing with your own health? The new health care plan will be good for you to research. The rush is off, the state or government’s online sight is up and running…go take a look. You may be in the low income range and get a great deal with a good health insurance program and you can relax and have any outstanding worries checked. You will have a life on your own after your senior passes…so you need to check out your blood pressure, your weight, your energy level, any ache or pain and your food intake…and get an idea of how to keep YOU healthy.
  2. Weight gain is a universal problem for care givers. So, its time to really make a plan of action. Get a journal and write down the true facts. How much do you weight? Has your weight gone up more than 10 pounds in the last year? It’s time to tell yourself that a 20 minute early morning walk…or afternoon walk (while your senior is napping) needs to be added. Maybe you don’t want to do that in the cold or rain…so if that is so…than walk or run around the house for 1,000 steps or about 10 minutes each day. This action will get your body in shape and you will be ready to take that 20 minute walk when the weather changes in the early spring. — Tell yourself that you will eat every two hours. That means you will chose something to eat..not nibble all day, as you prepare your senior’s food and pills. — Chose a range of small snacks and meals that will keep your energy level up and keep you feeling full. Remove the easy things like sugar, candy, donuts…and add loads of water and green tea. — Small changes are the most powerful. Journal your ideas and keep that journal active so you stay on your plan.
  3. Add something new to your day, just for you. Get more books from the library or add a Kindle to your life and read. Your senior has lots of little rest times and nap times…if you plan to get your work done early and then take an hour or two in the afternoon to enjoy a new book. — Read up on a new hobby…many people are starting needle arts, men and women. Nothing like learning knitting, crochet or needlepoint and have an easy project at your side. Something that you can pick up and put down without worry. — Are you a guy that loves to work with wood or do small repairs around the house, but find the garage or workshop out back is too far to venture when you have to be close to your senior in care? One idea is to get a baby monitor and you can hear the change or the senior calling for you…or bring your work into the kitchen. Many seniors no longer eat in the kitchen when they are unwell…they eat off trays…so taking out the kitchen table and putting up a bench to work on projects is a fun way to begin a new activity and feel close to your senior. There are no rules to your life, making changes so you can enjoy personal time…is a key to success in your re-charge.
  4. Mentally, you are getting down with the extended care giving? Its time to join a support group. Today it is so easy. In person support groups for care givers are found at senior centers, libraries and coffee shops. You can find them in the local paper or ask at the library. You can also join an online support group that will help you with care giving or (like I did) with my writing. I have a group of wonderful woman that are busy with life and still want to write, many of them have published their work and we encourage each other to stay active in our writing. Even if our lives are so busy we can hardy breath…the weekly meeting is online in a chat room and we have grown to be dear friends. This support each of the members has given me has developed into a friendship that now goes far beyond support on our writing. There are Skype meetings and websites that have support groups. Yes, you have to find a group that hits your own needs or interests…or maybe your faith group has a senior meet once a week. Find something that hits your own buttons and do this just for you. The meetings are an hour and if you get one close to home your travel time is small. Your emotional health is just as important as your senior’s. I know you do things to keep your senior busy and looking now turn it around and look at your own needs and find a group to enjoy. Support or shared interests…groups are there close to you and also can find find ‘MeetUp’ on the net, with a listing of group meetings in your area.
  5. Calm…the stress of care giving is so high that most care givers have no idea what kind of strain it is on our bodies. Everyday is a surprise at our house, George is quiet and then has a fall…or an onslaught of diarrhea..everything is then thrown up in the air. So how can you get yourself back to calm – in the middle of chaos? You learn to breath. Its a simple way to train your mind to calm. You take three deep breaths…in with your nose and out with your mouth. When you do this the oxygen goes to your brain and you feel instantly calmed. The more you do it, the better you get at it and the results of being calm, get stronger. — You turn on mellow music, and turn off the TV for a while. Maybe 15 minutes of calming music in the house will calm everyone down. You have a good green tea handy (not coffee to make you jumpy) and drink it when the stress is overwhelming, it helps you feel calmed and gives you a sense of caring for your own needs. — You go back to stretching or walking, even if you do it in the kitchen…that will also calm your mind and reduce your stress, hurt feelings, worry and anger.
  6. Privacy. As George is getting more and more in need of full care…I am getting more and more in need of privacy. So, I have put a comfortable chair in the kitchen and a table with my reading, computer and such, next to it. I use this as my own little area…to sit and be quiet…to make a phone call or do some chat online and I find it really helpful. I may be giving George most of my time…but when he is settled down watching TV…I can go into the kitchen and watch my own TV channel or keep busy with writing, reading or on the computer. It has really made a big difference in my personal feelings. I needed help removing the feel of being “trapped” in the house.
  7. Cleaning. It is really easy to be in a home for days on end and not really do any real clean-up. There is so much to do with care giving that the energy to clean seems overwhelming. But I assure you that cleaning the house and organizing things gives you a natural ‘high’. Just as you feel good when you step out of the shower –nice and clean…so you feel good when you work on one room a week and get your home clean and clear of clutter. Older people that live in homes for 10,20,or more years get used to their surroundings. That means that they just turn off their brain to the living areas of the house. You have to fight this.
    >>I am thinking this way…when George passes, I will be on my own…I will be upset and sad…so why not start the process of cleaning and clearing up years of “things” now?
    I first started with the garage. It had been a few years since George was able to be in the garage…it had always been ‘his space’. So I really did not know where things were, or what a lot of the tools and such – were even used for. I slowly, (I mean a couple hours each week when I was taking out the garbage) sort and put a couple of plastic bags full of things that we no longer needed or used into the garbage can. I gave things to the Goodwill, I threw out things. I asked neighbors what tools were for and marked them or sorted them for George’s son to take home. I am proud to say…the garage is now clean and clear. NO…not perfect…but I know what things are…and George’s old stuff is really now gone. He had saved 15 books on car repair for various cars we had over the years. I do not fix cars…so those where thrown away. The fishing and camping things were given away, the boxes were cut down and slowly added to the recycle each week. Now, I feel like the garage is mine and I know where things are when I need them. One step, one room at a time…but keep moving through the house. A small paint project, new throw pillows…life can feel fresh and clean with small changes.
  8. Retreat. I tend to just be quiet and stay close to home now. I used to be a very social person and my Georgie and I would go out to meetings, to visit our family and friend, to work, to dance, to eat, to do sports and to go to church. Now we are “at home”. So, I am making more of an effort to call and invite family or friends to come and visit. I bake cookies or a pie (or buy them 😉 and put on the coffee and we enjoy a good visit. George likes the visits and I keep them short and within reason so he does not get too tired. But I get the reward of friendship and family. Yes, it means I have to clean the house and get out of my sweats. Yes, it means I have to take time to invite and prepare a small treat for my guests. But the return for my efforts is laughing and connection with family and community.
  9. Personal appearance. How easy it is to just cave in and wear easy and older clothing around the house. So last year, I went out and bought a few new things to wear and I try to dress up a bit every day. I used to dress in suits in my working days…so its nice to put on a bit of jewelry and make sure my hair is done and nails are done. If you find that you have let your self just melt into the daily grind…its never too late to change. I have a good sonic tooth brush, I have a wonderful fancy face scrubber and I make sure I am cleaned and have my moisturizer and lipstick on each morning. I wear clothes that are comfortable, but colorful and I add vests to keep warm…but I also add a scarf to feel colorful. I don’t care if you are man or woman…you know what you can do to look better and feel clean and proud. If you keep yourself groomed…you will keep your senior groomed and that adds a great deal to your inner sense of self and emotional health.
  10. Spiritual time. I certainly do not care what your spiritual leanings are because there are thousands of folks reading my blog…so there are thousands of different thoughts and beliefs. But I want you to start to take a time each day…to just go to your Private area…and get quiet. Relax your mind and go to the space inside your mind…that will bring you peace. If you like to read a book or daily word…if you like to just write down positive statements or listen to music or step even farther and connect to a faith leader online. Go to and listen to someone on a subject that allows you to feel closer to your inner you. If you have gotten far away from the practice of prayer or meditation…don’t worry…it will come back to you. When it becomes a daily habit for you…you will find your mind, body and emotions will start to be stronger and more relaxed. I reached out to a former pastor and he is now stopping by monthly or when he is in the area…it has made George feel good and look forward to the visit, too. Do good things for you…and you will be able to do good things for the senior that you care for each day.

I hope this gives you ideas of how without money or a lot of personal time…you can still make changes that uplift your mind and spirit. I thank you for giving another year of care to your senior and I honor the love and the part of your own life…you are gifting to another. francy

PS…would you please go to the right and sign up for my blog? Thank will be sent to you when I write it and you can enjoy it automatically. I am not writing as much as I used to because George’s care is getting more time consuming…but I am still here if you need me. Just send me an email…francy

Here is to your health and happiness in 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas for Elders in Care


Ideas to help families with gifts for seniors in care by francy Dickinson

Missy Kirbee n Dad

Our Missy and Kirbee with Georgie
Ready for Santa 😉

HO HO HO…Here are some ideas to help you with the seniors in your life:

  1. No matter what their doctor says…every senior is ready for sweets. If you want to bring them special candy or cookies…go for it. Just make the candy easy to eat…teeth often are not sturdy in elders…but they adore the sugar rush!
  2. Books…Men love those wonderful WWII books and women like desk calendars with daily words of love…a subscription to a magazine that reflects their hobby or interests is always enjoyed.
  3. Music…a simple MP3 Player loaded with audio books, and music from the era that they relate to…like the 1940’s big band music…or early 1960’s rock…gift it to them and then show them how to use it and recharge it — totally fun.
  4. Picture video screens…that have family photos loaded…things that the elder can enjoy and remember from their own youth…and pictures of family members that are current too. If there is a problem with memory…do a little editing on the photos before you load them and put a caption on the bottom of the photos
  5. A tablet and the time from you to teach them how to use it…even elders love to play games and send messages over the Internet…you need to remember that easy, means being there to take them step by step. Then have them repeat it all from the boot up on their own. This would be a terrific addition to any one’s Christmas.
  6. Clothes are easy really….all seniors get cold….so adding in a fun sweat shirt from a team, or local band…a warm vest that is colorful…or if you get slippers…make them easy to walk in…no slip and sliding for seniors.
  7. Both men and women like moisturizers that smell good on dry skin…or flameless candles for their side table –Oh, and many fragrances come in cream forms that are easy to use, too.
  8. Something fun; motorized cars or helicopters to fly…men never stop enjoying new toys
  9. New game to play or new deck of cards…maybe a really lovely jigsaw puzzle
  10. Bring a movie over to watch with the seniors…or a video of the family at Thanksgiving so they can see how quick the kids grow
  11. Remember to spend time…just 20 minutes of visiting is not long…so get to it, if you want to share something special. How about looking up an old home address on Google earth …memories are the best
  12. Mailing a special something is always fun for the senior…Shari’s Berries, David’s Cookies, the Internet is filled with specialty foods that might reflect the senior’s culture or heritage food of their childhood
  13. Use your smart phone to Skype a family member that is far away so the senior really sees and hears the family member and can enjoy the experience
  14. Dinner brought in, their favorite hamburger…or take them out…a quiet drive around town to enjoy the holiday lights, or go and get a hot dog or ice cream…something that will be a treat for the senior.
  15. If the senior is in a care facility…its smart to bring a big basket of cookies or treats for the staff that cares for your senior everyday…as a thank you.

Its amazing how easy it is to please those that have had their holidays pulled down to being in their own home …or in a care facility. Its a lonely time of year, when a senior is stuck with no family around them. So taking the time to go and visit them is so important. I always make sure I take a special treat for the elder’s room mate too…and a thank you for the staff…or the neighbor that gets the senior’s mail. Everyone appreciates a remembrance at holiday time…and a small box of candy or a bag of cookies is a treat for everyone. Thank you for all you do to give love to your seniors…Blessings on your holiday…francy

10 Tips to Help Senior Bladder Problems


Ideas to help you with caring for a senior with bladder problems… by francy Dickinson

poise padDear Francy; I wanted to share my own challenges today. Ten years ago, my mother was in her late 90’s and got a UTI or Urinary Track Infection, that was so bad she was in hospital for 10 days and 20 days in a recovery center. She was too weak to go back to her own home so, she moved in with me and I began my “hands-on care giving”. The day she was to move in…I went to the big box store for bladder control products. It was a nervous day and I was stressed…when I finally found the right isle…I was shocked to see the whole isle was filled with bladder products and I did not know which one was required. My stress level was so high that I stood there crying in the bladder control isle! I want to save you from that kind of worry and stress…here are some tips you want to know when you, or one of your family members needs to use bladder support products.


  1.  Bladder control products are not the same as menstruation products. You must be careful with this…using a pad for your period because you ‘leak’…can produce a nasty infection called UTI…do not do it. Go and get small bladder control pads. They are made so the urine is wicked away from your skin and you will be able to have protection wo the worry.
  2. swing trashYou never put bladder products in the toilet. It will back up your system and cost way too much money to fix the pipes. So go and get a tall kitchen trash can with a lid that swings. Then you buy tall kitchen plastic bags and get a Lysol type of spray to use inside the trash can (I get the spray at the dollar store 😉 Take out the used bag, spray Lysol inside the can, then line the can with plastic trash bag, put on the lid and its ready for more odor free service. I clean mine twice a week and its easy to do. This is how you get rid of your used bladder products and you keep the can within reach of the toilet. It keeps the smell down and is easy to take the trash out (much like you would do with diaper waste)
    I also have a can of disposable wipes to clean the surfaces of the toilet, the handles, the switches, the trash can…any place the senior is going to touch…I run over it to keep it clean. I keep this can under the sink…seniors can get confused and you do not want them to use these cleaning wipes with bleach on their own skin. This constant cleaning movement in the bathroom is  how we keep infections down and out of the house…clean to the max. If the senior has an emergency and leave urine or feces on the floor …then clean the bathroom again…to make sure its really germ free…and take out the stinky garbage bag and start again clean and ready to go.
  3. Wiping your bottom when you have had urinary/bowel problems is important…use 1 ply toilet paper…so it does not clog the system. The senior will forget and use way too much toilet paper–this will help. Put a baby-wipe container by the toilet and if the senior has bowel problems – they can wipe up and clean up with those and put them directly into the trash can that is there for them. The baby wipes are easy to use…BUT DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE TOILET. Put them into the trash can we have already placed by the toilet.
  4. Depends is the type of bladder control we know well. But there are other companies that make them. Buy the ones that will fit and will not be too expensive. This monthly cost is a perfect thing to give to a sibling that always says (what can I do?) they can pay for the expense of the monthly bladder control problems…Yeah.
  5. DependsNow there are different styles of the products, pull ups or closing pant like products. But what is not understood is that you also need to get the guards. The guards are the smaller pads…that go inside the Depend type underpants. That way you do not have to take off clothes to change the wet pants…you just put the guard/pad in and out and throw it away. It makes it easier to change during the day with two layers of protection!
  6. Medicare and insurance often support urinary support products. But to do this you need a doctor’s prescription. Keep this in mind. In that case you will set up an account with a medical vendor and they will send you the bladder control products in the mail. My Georgie has Veteran’s medical and I just call in the prescriptions number and it is delivered to my door. So easy to do and so much less money than personally purchasing it. As senior age and go through their health journey…they need more and more of these products. So plan ahead to use a medical service that delivers or mails.
  7. BiotinFamily doctors are great…but when you have bladder issues. No matter what your age, you need to go and see a specialist called, a Urologist. They have fancy equipment that will check your bladder and they will be able to help you with medication. Many times a simple medication that helps with the ‘urge’ to go to the bathroom…makes a huge change in someone’s life. (by the way…if you do use these medications..the side effect is dry mouth…Biotene has a great line of products to spray in your mouth, use as mouthwash or chews to take the dry mouth away.
  8. Both men with prostate problems and many woman who have had bladder issues since they gave birth many years before…they find answers with procedures that urologist suggest. Just remember when you do a procedure…you want to ask the doctor, what their stats for the procedure is? In other words you would say to the doctor: “Out of the last 10 people who you personally have done this procedure on…how many had little to no recovery problems? If they did have problems what were they? ” Never be afraid to be informed when you, or your senior, are going to do something with the body. Maybe the procedure is too much for an elder that has other difficult problems…or maybe it’s so simple that everyone should do them to improve the quality of their life.
  9. desitinRemember when you changed a baby’s diapers…do you remember you used baby powder and a rash cream? Well those are still on the shelf even today. To powder the seniors bottom to allow the ease of pulling up the Depends….or to use Desitin or other zinc products to protect delicate ‘private parts’ area skin from being burned with urine. You can buy these products at the dollar store too 🙂
  10. Talking about bladder and bowel issues with a senior…is hard to do. But, it’s like dealing with a child’s diaper issues…you have to deal with it and talk about it. Make your senior’s bathroom easy to use. If they are going to have these issues, they will be changing their bladder products…running in to make it to the toilet – etc. So put up handles on the wall by the toilet. Put the tall trash can close at hand. Keep a basket for the new Depends and the guards/pads close with scissors so the senior can use them with ease.
    Never forget to praise the elder for using the products well…their personal issues will be easier when you let them know you appreciate their ‘trying’ to keep clean and healthy. Keep your energy calm if they are in the middle of an “accident” and after it is over and the senior is back in their chair…you clean up the bathroom and then clean up yourself. The senior should be re-assured that they did not do anything wrong…and I always give them a sweet treat and some hot tea…to keep the senior calm and let them settle down. ( Imodium…should always be giving with a heavy hit of the runs…so keep it at hand.)

Hope these tips help you in your process of care giving. I know as mother’s journey got harder I added a commode by her bed for use at night. Now, I have just done the same thing for my George. He is using it at night when he is tired, a little dizzy from his evening medications and unsteady with his Parkinson’s. I keep trying to figure out how to help him over those very personal problems…that we all have everyday. Blessings on all you do for your senior. francy

–> Would you do me a favor and sign in to receive my blog via email? George needs so much care that I do not do the blog as often as I used to…so please sign in ….you will see it asks for your email and my blog will arrive in your inbox…right after I have finished the writing. Hope this finds all of you well….I will be doing a Holiday Gift Listing soon…so keep an eye open for it.

Get Elders Ready for Holidays


How to keep elders, that are not able to get around…happy and calm during holidays. by francy Dickinson

My sister Merrilee in her Kitchen at Thanksgiving

My sister Merrilee in her Kitchen at Thanksgiving

Dear Francy; My dad and his brother are both in their early 80’s and not able to be out and about. They help each other, but live alone…I am worried about this coming holiday. They are really going downhill. I don’t think they will be able to join us for dinner. Ideas on what to do to bring them cheer?

Thanks for the note…I totally understand. My Georgie is having too many problems to leave the house and join our family for our usual holiday dinner. So, I have developed ideas to help family members to spread the cheer in little ways.


  1. First, get a calendar on the wall so the senior can see the different holidays. Veterans Day…Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or your own faith/or family holidays – all need to be put down so they can see what is coming.
  2. Call the senior and ask them what their favorite dish for Thanksgiving is…so you can make it for them. They may not be at the table…but they can feel a part of the day.
  3. Make a simple phone call from the family just before dinner…kids, grandkids, great grandkids…get them all on the phone…Telling the senior who they are and wishing them love.
  4. Prep a place for the seniors in your life…after dinner appoint a younger family member that drives to deliver the plate with pie! Tell them to arrive…get the food on a tray…stay 15 minutes and then return. Let the senior know they are coming…and it will be a fun break for the teens to get out of the house and do a good dead for Gramps or Grandma – Uncle or Auntie 😉
  5. Take a few pictures so when you go and visit the senior in the next few days after thanksgiving…they can see the family and hear about the dinner.
  6. Bake an extra pie. I always like to take a plate of dinner…but then leave a small pie for the senior to enjoy in the next few days. A good piece of pumpkin pie is like a lunch for most seniors…so why not give them a yummy treat.
  7. I always have a list of good ‘seniors in care’ gifts. So keep an eye open and I will be posting that before Christmas.
  8. If your senior is in a care facility…still go over with a piece of pie…or a left over of the senior’s…favorite dish from the dinner. All facilities try hard to entertain their guests at holiday…but certain family traditions can make their holiday. Seniors tend to remember the past, better than the present…so candy, cookies or holiday breads that your family always eats…are a real treat. Maybe search out a picture of a Thanksgiving dinner photo from long ago…what fun to remember!
  9. Out of town? You can do a little online food shopping. You can pay for fully cooked turkey dinner via local grocery chains like Safeway…but the in home caregiver would have to go and pick it up at the store…ready to heat. There are also so many goodies…like Sherries berries…my favorite…chocolate dipped strawberries that a dear friend of ours often sends to us. We are always so happy to get them and share them with those that stop by to visit 😉
  10. Taking the little grandkids over to visit…and have them practice a holiday song…to sing when they get there….or have them do child craft and drawings…to decorate Grandpa’s living area…so fun.
  11. Holidays are a time of year, not just a day. So, if you have Thanksgiving at your place…great…then the next day — take over the left overs and your immediate family. Eat the left overs at Grandma’s house so she gets the feeling of the family.
  12. Arriving on a day that is cold and rainy…with Thanksgiving decorations in your hand to put on the senior’s door…and in their living room area…that makes the whole month a special thought of love.
  13. Renting an old movie and going over to Auntie’s and sitting with them with popcorn and a movie that you have watched many times before…gives the feeling of family and history of love.
  14. Sending cards…is great…but include pictures of kids, pumpkins, dogs, what your car looks like, what your kitchen looks like in the middle of cookie baking…let the senior see into your life…so they can become a part of your holiday cheer.
  15. Take over a pumpkin pie early…and just sit for a half hour and talk with the senior…click on your record button on the phone and talk about old times. You will have recorded memories and the sound of the senior’s voice for all time. You can send the voice file and save it on your computer forever 😉
  16. If the senior is into using a laptop for games…pay for and get them started…they can keep on working on their family history and stories…and then when they are gone…you have the family knowledge forever.
  17. A family holiday gift of a newer TV…is really a wonderful way to give your love. TV becomes a senior’s only touch to the outside world. To give them a newer TV that is easy to use and smaller than one that you would buy for your living room…is just right. It would be a family gift of $20-$50 dollars each and it would get 24 hr enjoyment…bring it over early so the senior can enjoy the many holiday shows on a clear – hi def…TV..
  18. Calling the senior during the month and telling them what you are doing. You can use it as a tool to keep your calendar in tact and they can enjoy just hearing your whirlwind life style and understand why you are not visiting them everyday 😉
  19. Don’t forget to take their ‘anipal’ a treat or new toy…or bring your dog over to visit. As with children, seniors often find holding a dog or cat will calm them and give them a feeling of place. Be sure to bath the dog before you visit and if you bring a cat…use a baby wipe to wipe them down to limit the dander.

I want to bless you for caring about your seniors. As George advances in his Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s this holiday is going to be quieter than ever. It makes it hard on me to give up my time with my own family. But having a small celebration with Georgie will be special too. I don’t know how many holidays we have left together…at least ones that he will understand. So, in my mind…I am making it as special as I can. francy

Walk, don’t Fall! How to Buy Medical Equipment


How to buy medical equipment for seniors at home by francy Dickinson

Say NO to using surfaces as Table Top walking...

Say NO to using surfaces as Table Top walking…

Dear Francy: Mother will not use her cane…she falls…I know because she has bruises – but her pride is over the moon and she will not use them. She is also having night problems with her bladder…I have to change the bed each time I visit…but no mention of it from her. How can I get over this pride issue and keep her safe and clean and feeling good about herself?

TALK ! There comes a time when seniors have to sit down and listen to their children. It is a hard thing for both fathers and mothers to do- but the transition from being their ‘little girl’ to their care giver simply has to happen. I get it. I have talked about medical equipment and how to acquire it and when to use it before…but just when I think everyone knows…I get four emails in a row about problems with seniors and a need for help. So, I am going to review the different things you need to use as a senior progresses in their life’s journey.

Use a gel cushion in the car and on your favorite TV chair…save that bottom and your back…it feels great!

Start with a gel cushion: When you age, your bottom and your feet start to change and you need to use a little gel cushioning. I am in my early sixties and I have both gel in soles in my shoes and a get cushion on my bottom when I rest…I am a happy girl…get one and enjoy pain free life again!

Age and how a senior feels and their personal challenges are always different. That is why its good to know what is out there for you to help anyone that has ups and downs in their health. Heart problems can come and go and so can arthritis–so if you have some of these helpful tools on hand. You can use them when needed.

Toilet Support Rails r easy to install

Toilet Support Rails are easy to install

This unit simply screws on to any toilet under the seat..then you screw the seat on top of it…it gives you adjustable handles. This has helped George so much…but guess what? After my car accident I had great pain in my foot..and this helped me too! I will not be taking it off when George leaves the house…it is now something I count on myself 😉

To carry this idea out…we need to talk about a commode. These are like portable toilets. When a man is up 2-3-4-5 times a night with prostate issues…or when Parkinson’s has you extremely unsteady…a portable toilet, called a commode, is the ticket to ease of use and relaxed worries of accidents and falls. This commode has a bucket you fill with a bit of water and I hit it with a small amount of Pinesol type product. Then you keep it by the bed…so it is just a few feet away. I put a plastic sheet (black bag) down under it and have toilet paper ready. It is used at night..then during the day you take out the bucket and dump it in the toilet and put the unit over the toilet in the bathroom so the senior can use it with it’s handles for sturdy up and downs. REMEMBER:You always have to ask your doctor for the different products to help you. The doctor will write a prescription for the item and the medical rental house will get your product ready and it will then be able to be all or partially covered by Medicare/Supplement. If you are lucky, like we are, and have Veteran’s…they will give you a review and provide the equipment. If you do not have coverage and need medical products…then it’s time to check out local charities and ask them for help. They often are giving things after someone passes. They clean it up and get it ready for you to use without a big investment. Be creative…do not be embarrassed to ask for help from friends and local charities…they are working hard to provide things for your use…use them.

–> NOTE:Women need to use pad or pants that are designed for urinary problems. Not pads for menstruation. This is very important because the wrong pad for the wrong situation can lead to nasty UrinaryTrackInfections. UTI’s are one the main health risks of both men and women when they begin to lose their strength. UTI’s can take a senior down and change their future living alone abilities… in no time. We can not stress enough to “talk” to your senior about their bathroom issues. Then talk to the doctor. Stool problems can lead to real problems; and the use of stool softeners and/or Imodium products to harden stools can reduce those terrible battles in the bathroom.Medications has nasty side effects for all of us…but especially seniors find them embarrassing and often to do not mention the problems.  Men have to relax and let a pad or “Depend”  under short type product reduce their need to hurry to the bathroom everywhere they go. Doctors can and will give you a prescription for urinary pills that will reduce the ‘urge’ feeling that requires so many bathroom visits. This ‘hurry up’ is the cause of many seniors falling in the middle of the night. A good mattress cover is required. Most seniors need to update their bedding after years of use anyway. So, get a new mattress cover that will protect the mattress and give a little cushion to the older bed. Add two new sets of easy to wash sheets and pillow cases so they can be easily washed and changed. Most seniors like the feel of flannel sheets almost all year round…so keep that in mind when you are buying the new bedding. Update the pillows so the senior has two new pillows for head. Use the older pillows and put one for between their legs to cushion the legs and one to tuck under their upper arm to put them into a womb-curling posture as they sleep. This wrapping them in comfort will allow them to sleep soundly. Adding a night-pad or Depends type of pant…will let them know they are OK, if they have an accident. Then adding in the commode or toilet handles will be a winning ticket for seniors with night time worries and accidents.

—-> Tip//how a lady wipes her bottom after a bowel movement — is going to stop a lot of UTI infections. I had mother re-learn this process…she also used a femine wipe..or child’s diaper cleaning wipe and put it into the special (with swinging lid) trash bin…not down the toilet. These products will clog your sewer system! So teach them to have a trash bin close to the toilet to use for the wipes and a place to put their Depends type products. Then you line the trash bin with a light plastic liner and empty it twice a week to keep the smell out of the bathroom. I use a disinfectant spray inside the trash bin and then re-line it with another tall plastic bin bag. (I get mine at the dollar store) This makes this whole process easy for the senior and the care giver to use and keep really clean. I also have a container of cleaner-wipes (w bleach) under the sink and I use them to wipe off the toilet area and the sink and other handles and light switches- each time I clean the bathroom. This keeps down the germs and the odor. Seniors often lose their sense of smell so you have to help them keeping clean.

I have never been so proud that I could not use a cane with my back. I have had a bad back long before I became a senior. The pain was too much to worry about pride. Even as a younger woman, I had a cane hanging in the closet. It helped me through the three days of pain until the back would relax and let me go back to my regular walking.

Cane and Handle helps George w balance

Cane and Handle helps George w balance.

Just as you prep your house for little children or dogs…its time to do it for seniors that will be aging into health challenges. The senior may only need a few of these items as they move downhill in their health. But actually, at the first signs of stability problems, its time to make changes. Stair lifts are such a lovely thing for those that can afford them. They allow the senior to stay in their two story home, so much longer. And electric chairs are great too. But they are for seniors that have all their thought processes working. Since my George suffers with his Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s he is unable to remember how to use the electric chair or cart.

This new small wheelchair is proving to be a hit with us

This new small wheelchair is proving to be a hit with us

George started using his walker quite a while ago. But it only worked as a walker. It did have a seat for him to use when he got tired…but now he has days that he is too weak to walk at all. So, what to do? We asked for a Physical Therapy appointment and the PT gave us a very small, light weight, wheel chair with small wheels. It now is used as a walker for George when he is feeling strong. The chair is light and easy for me to fold and put into my smaller car. (not everyone uses an SUV) and it works well when George walks. I am going to look around for a larger bag that can hang off the back of the chair so he can grab a few things to take from room to room. I also have to figure out how he can have his cane on the back of it too…so maybe a velcro connection there??

Walking w his legs instead of me pushing is Great!

Walking w his legs instead of me pushing is Great!

The new wheelchair also allows him to sit and walk with his own legs. The older walker was not designed for this move. Now, George is able to move around on his own with his own leg power, without me pushing him all the time. NICE – he is able to walk it out to the front porch where we have a container garden and he helps me water the tomatoes and catches some sun rays each morning.

Now what do you do when you wake up and your spouse is not able to even get out of bed to begin their day? You learn how to use a ‘gait belt’ – the Physical Therapist will show you how to use this. Its an easy tool…you put it around the mid section of the senior and then you can help guide him up and walk with him supporting his legs from the middle of his body.

Example of Bed Rail

Example of Bed Rail

Or you can add a support bar for the side of your bed and the senior can use it to get up on their own. It will depend on if the senior has strong arms and is able to use them.

That is why I keep George exercising three times a week. I have a routine I put him through to keep those legs strong enough for him to make transitions and get up and down from chairs and bed. As he goes up and down in his abilities…we stay with exercise. I use the elastic exercise bands to give him some pressure to stretch and keep his arms strong. Look for them at the sports department or ask the PT the next time you go.

Thank you for all you are doing for your senior…you have no idea how kind and dear it is for you to give your time and love to another and let them age with grace. I have been giving George more and more of my time each day as his Parkinson’s is taking over…poor guy is losing his abilities so fast. So, what I try to do is take each day as a new day. If a day is bad…we work through it. But the next day we start a new…so if his strength is better he does more. If you start to put the senior into a pattern of you doing more and more for them and never checking if they can do some of those things on their own…its just a downhill slide for both of you.

Enjoy the fall…no more hot hot days…things will cool down. George has already asked for Pumpkin pie or pumpkin cream in his coffee…so he gets what time of year it is. I also make sure I change the decor and the calendar in the house. Seniors have no daily change of pace…so pointing out the seasonal changes makes their days into days…not endless time with no change. Quality of care, depends on you as a care giver…so make fall a good time for you…and it will translate onto the senior you are caring for.

Oh, would you please sign up for my blog listing. With the care giving getting more and more I try to do the blog, but often miss my weekly update. When you sign up for the blog it will notify you of the new post and you can keep on top of the info. Also…please, please share this blog. You have no idea how lonely care giving can be…and if I can help a few people along my own path of caregiving it helps me feel my own life has meaning…Thank you!

Alzheimer’s Spouse/Care Giver Depression…how can you change it?


How to cope with the change of relationships in the midst of dementia/Alzheimer’s and keep the spouse / care giver going.  I also added a recipe for Zucchini Turkey Soup that will help you take those steps on your own.  by francy Dickinson

concert in the parkDear Francy: I am doing my own thoughts today. I had a change of routine…that I knew was coming but it upset me all the same. How are you coping with losing your spouse, bit by bit…even though they are still in front of you? The old relationship is fading away and as the care giver…I have to learn to adjust, not go into a depression. I hope this helps you look at change…and not be afraid of the next chapter in your life. Don’t hold on and go down with the ship…raise up and try to embrace the change and make it healthy for both of you. 

I actually went out last night. We have a free concert in the park series that we have attended for many years. There are two jazz artists that are really good and so I try to at least hit those nights. The featured artist this year was Michael Powers. Last year George got so he could not sit long and had to go to the bathroom. But the toilets are located a block away from the concert. We could hardly get there in time and he then could not walk all the way back!

So, I knew that it would be our last time to the concert together. We have been going to these concerts for 20 years…its a summertime tradition that represented joy and togetherness and happy times…how could it end? I have hovered over it on and off all through this last year. Each time I thought about it, it seemed to represent the loss I was feeling almost on a daily basis. No more sharing things together. George here in the house, but a million miles away from our old life of best friends sharing everything together. The transition is so hard to make. I want to hold on so badly to the old…but everyday a new assault of change would arrive at my door. 

pioneer parkThat one event of a weekly outing at the concert in the summer months…it  had bothered so much. The concert is in a fabulous park on a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound…looking out to the water, the islands, the Olympic mountains and Narrows Bridge. There’s a very long train that rumbles through each night too…and the musicians just make fun of the noise. The bandstand is built like an old fashioned bandstand and as you look at it- it almost disappears and you only see the view behind it. Oh boy,  you feel like you are caught up in a time warp. You just get so into the moment, the music, the view.  

As the sun sets the view just gets better…the boats start to pull up close to hear the music and the night is always so magical. The little town of Steilacoom has a farmers/art market on the nights of the concert.  You go early to set up your chairs on the deep green lawn. Grabbing a place in front of the bandstand but back far enough that the sound is soothing, not too loud. Then you walk through the market –munching on fruits, baked goodies and buying flowers from backyard gardens and soap made from bee farmers or goat farmers. You nod at familiar faces and remark at all the wonderful dogs that are all dressed for a nite out, too.  You walk, talk and eat…like a mini fair. OH, it is so enchanting. George and I always loved it…plus, he always got his frozen, chocolate dipped banana 😉
I gave up the thought of taking him this year. But Cheryl circled one date with our favorite jazz guy (Michel Powers). I thought about it alot. As the time came closer I finally asked a neighbor and long time friend of he would ‘sit’ with George. He was all in…and so I invited his wife to come with Cheryl and I… it was a date.
The day was hot, and I spent it making soup for dinner for the guys. I just could not think of anything exciting to make for them…so I tried a soup idea I had read about a couple of years ago. I am knee deep in zucchini from my little container garden. Thus a Zucchini Turkey soup. It was totally a wonderful soup and the guys loved it. I had a frozen pie that I baked …the dinner was ready so I could escape. 
I thought about all the work I had to do to get out the door for three hours…but it was worth it. George enjoyed the guy talk and I enjoyed the market, concert and girls night out. Sometimes you just have to give up on the old…and know that the new can be enjoyable too. 
No there was no George to hold my hand during the concert. Nor was he there to make me dance with him when they played a tune he liked. But being surrounded by my friends at the concert, I was able to take a step out alone. My future is going to have a lot of steps out alone…so I have to remind myself not to be afraid of life. To live it as an expression of what I enjoy…not what “we enjoyed” — this is the hard part of Alzheimer’s. Its the day after day of losing bits and pieces of someone you love so dearly. I know, I live it. But I have a long life to live…and this has to be my journey next to George…not my end.
I send all of you that are caring for loved ones that are on their own journey…a blessing…francy
Here is the soup… was delightful. I had a bowl when I got home. 
Chop your medium Zucchini in bite size pieces and fry them in olive oil. You want them cooked and light brown and it will take about five minutes. Then drain them on a paper towel and hold them to add at the end of the soup.
Get your rice cooker going with a good brown or wild rice–you need about 2 cups when it is cooked — you can add a cube of chicken broth to the rice water and then let it cook through – Hold this, it will be added at the end of the soup. 
Now here is the soup itself, that I used a French pot to cook it on top of the stove so it did not stick. 
Use two cups of turkey or chicken leftovers cut in bite sizes. I used smoked turkey leftovers I had frozen for future sandwich meat. This is a perfect way to use up your left over roasted chicken meat (from the store). Chop into bit sizes and hold to add to the soup. 
1TBSP olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
4 celery stalks (w greens) chopped small
4 cups of the vegetable broth (you can use chicken too)
1 can of cream of celery (or chicken)
4 drops of pepper sauce
1/2 tsp of sage…thyme and rosemary
1/2 tsp House Seasoning (with salt, pepper and garlic powder mixed)
OK, cook the onion till it’s starting to turn color then add in the green pepper and celery — once they have gotten soft then add in the herbs, spices and pour in the broth n can of creamed soup + the 4 drops of pepper sauce. Bring it to boil, then add in the meat, rice and zucchini — reduce the heat down and let it cook through, the rice will absorb a lot of the stock. Just before you serve you can sprinkle it with 1/4 cup of chopped green onions and add a dollop of sour cream on top and then serve with roll. 
Hope you enjoy it…francy

Summer Garden Squash Lasagna for Seniors


Seniors love their gardens.Here is how to use your early zucchini and summer squash
for a delightful Italian meal for your senior. by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; Mom is so sad that she no longer has her garden…she talks about it all the time. I just wish I could gift her a day in the dirt…any ideas for a gal stuck in a wheelchair?

George enjoying his tomatoes on the front porch

George enjoying his tomatoes on the front porch

Yes….get her out the door on your front or back porch and put some veggies in a container. Even if it’s just some herbs…she will feel a part of it again if you hand her the hose and let her water each morning or evening. Here is a fun recipe from our garden…George loves to sit on the porch and watch his garden grow and so when we cut our first squash today — we had to bring it in and make it into a meal!

What I love about cooking these days is I cook for four or six…then I freeze a couple of the left overs as meal size portions. When I have a day that is stress filled and I’m tired. I am able to go and get one of the home-made dinners and George can enjoy the moment all over again. I served this meal with a French roll. I find buying a couple of French rolls is so much easier than trying to finish off a big loaf of French bread. I know both you and your senior will enjoy this meal…its fun to use your own (or local) summer squash and this is a hit with George.

Summer Squash & Zucchini Lasagna

Our first summer squash and zucchini from our container garden

Our first summer squash and zucchini from our container garden

1 med summer squash and 1 med zucchini( chopped)
1/4 pound hamburger (room temp)
1/2 medium sweet onion (chopped)
1 tsp of house seasoning
1tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp fennel
1 can chopped Italian- stewed tomatoes
1  small can or 1 cup of tomato sauce

Turn the oven on to 350 and get a 9 x13 pan greased and sitting aside.

Layering the veggies with cheese

Layering the veggies with cheese

Start the hamburger browning on medium, on the stove. Break it apart so it is in small pieces as it cooks. Add the seasoning combo of salt, pepper and garlic..then when it’s brown…mix in the small chopped onion pieces and the fennel. Let it all brown together. (drain off the excess oil) Add in the squash pieces – that are cut in inch cube size – and the can of stewed tomatoes. Stir for two minutes to bring the flavor of the mix together than take off the burner and let set while you make the cheese layer.
Cheese Layer: 1 Small carton of small curd cottage cheese – 1 beaten egg – a few fresh  leaves of basil cut with scissors into small strips- a large sprig of parsley from your container, cut with scissors. 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Mix all of this together and add pepper and salt.
Layer 1/2 the veggie and meat mixture in the greased pan. Top that with the cheese layer dotted all over the first layer and then spread out. Layer the rest of the veggie and meat mixture and top it with the 1 cup of tomato sauce (or canned spaghetti sauce) and sprinkle that with the Italian Seasoning.
Top it with shredded mozzarella cheese and if you have some shredded fresh Parmesan you can mix that in with the other cheese. Sit the pan in a baking pan to prevent dripping (the squash really adds moisture to this dish, so you do not want to have it dripping in the oven as it bakes.) Bake for 45 minutes on 350 –watching the cheese so it browns but does not burn. Take it out and let it set for about 5-10 minutes so it will cool and set so it is easier to serve.
Italian casseroleI take the French roll – butter it and sprinkle with garlic, Parmesan cheese and Johnny’s Seasoning…and wrap in foil…put in the last 10 minutes so it can be warm and toasty…YUMM.

I usually serve George at his chair in the living room. I have a good tray that I use and I always line it with a towel or napkin and make it look as nice as I can. Eating when you are a a hard chore…many times seniors lose their ability to taste…so this is a great Italian seasoning meal that is tasty and fun for the senior to eat. Since it’s made of veggies I do not make a side salad..and because its quite rich…I let George eat…rest and then have his coffee with a couple of cookies later. I always put his pills, on the tray…so he can see them and remember to take them after the meal.

I like to give George a nice tray to encourage him to eat the meal

I like to give George a nice tray to encourage him to eat the meal

Italian is a fun way to mix up dinners for seniors that get so tired of everyday meals. Plus the use of the veggies that they helped raise…with their daily watering…and love…makes the dinner even better.

I understand that as the senior advances in his medical complications…eating spicy foods can be hard on the stomach. I did not use many spices in this and you could always leave out the garlic completely. Just work around it and then remember the dinner is fresh and the left overs are perfect frozen dinners for next week.

I always want to thank you for your loving gift of time and attention to your senior. Care giving is a very lonely way of life. So when you and your senior can share a little chore of watering a small container garden…and then enjoy the taste — it gives your daily life a boost…Blessings, francy

Help, Dad Fell Twice this Week


Tips to help elders/seniors from falling – by francy Dickinson

George was an avid golfer, skier, ran and played tennis. Is there memory in those muscles still?

My dear Georgie was an avid golfer and skier. He ran, cycled and played tennis. Is there memory in those muscles still? Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is robbing him of his mobility, how I am fighting to keep him moving.

 Dear Francy: Dad fell twice this week alone. He has a bruise on his upper thigh and his ribs are sore. I took him in to the doctor to check it out after the second fall, but this is so frightening. His Parkinson’s is just turning his legs into jelly. What can we do to keep him safe? 

I am right there with you. My Georgie is falling all the time and I worry so about a broken hip. How do you keep someone that is aging and losing their strength from taking tumbles? Well there are things you can do to lessen the problem. So, lets go through the list together and see what pertains to us and if we can use the ideas to keep our guys standing and walking safely.

  1. Start with clearing space. No matter where you live…look over the pattern that the senior is using to go to the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedroom and back to their favorite chair. Is there obstructions? Remove throw rugs, extra furniture and any clutter. Keep the area clean and clear…so the cane, walker or wheelchair is easy to use. If you have to re-arrange furniture so the senior is safer…do it. Life does not have to be pretty…it just has to work for the senior.
  2. Take note of the time of day that the senior takes their falls. If it’s at night they may need a better path to the bathroom or a portable commode. These commodes are easy to use and you tell the senior it’s just for night-time. Set it up right by the bed so there is only a couple of steps and then put in a good night light so the commode can be seen and used. When I had mom, I would use the commode by the bed at night and then take out the bucket, clean it and move the commode part over the toilet during the day. This provided handles for the senior to use when getting up and down off the toilet.
  3. “Table top walking” is a favorite with women. They do not want to break down and use that cane. So they move through their home by grabbing onto a chair back, a table top and counter. This is so dangerous and you simply have to draw a line and refuse to allow the senior to keep this habit. Get them a cane or a walker. The rule is a cane is for pain. Used for recovery from an operation, a break, or a arthritis type of continual pain. The walker is for steady and support-always get a walker with a seat, so the senior can rest if they feel weak. The wheelchair comes when the falls are simply so often that you can not depend on the senior to be safe alone. Physical Therapy should be ordered and they will review your senior and help them make the choice of what is right for them. If it is a walker or wheelchair, you will have to go through the living area and prepare space for the senior to move. Doors may have to be taken off hinges, kitchen areas cleared and a basket to carry food and drinks has to be added to the walker or wheelchair for convenience.
  4. Exercise. Physical Therapy can be the key to success to getting any senior walking stronger again. After stroke care, Parkinson’s, severe arthritis – it all has a lot of recovery to keep the body in movement and the PT will give special exercises to help the senior regain strength. I found it surprising that doing the exercises even three times a week made a big change for George.
  5. Recovery. Mom was a girl that had a series of tiny strokes. She was in her nineties
    Mother on the go in her wheelchair at 98 with our dear Kathy who helped me with care giving

    Mother on the go in her wheelchair at 98 with our dear Kathy who helped me with care giving

    and each TIA took away her muscle abilities. I told her in order for her to remain with me, in my home…she simply had to be mobile. I could not lift or transfer her all day with my bad back. So she was such a trooper. Each time she lost her balance and could not walk…she would pull her self up and use her walker inch by inch. With me following her with the wheelchair in case her legs gave out. She recovered over and over again. I know; first hand…that muscles do have memory and you can recover it with patience and continued practice. But there is always a line in the sand when wheelchairs have to be used and transfer help from a care giver is the only way a weak body is able to keep safe.

  6. Eating to stay fit. Protein is really important to re-build your muscles. Add a protein drink to the senior’s morning exercise routine. It will help give them a boost. Go over their food and make sure they have plenty of small ziplocks filled with treats. Carrots, celery, peanut butter on crackers, a cookie, fruit slices etc. Keep them handy so the senior can munch and crunch every few hours. If they are living alone, you will call them for a short reminder for pills and snacks – four times a day…this will keep their energy up. Often seniors forget to eat and drink..they lose their energy and that reflects in their ability to safely walk. My trick is that they keep a cooler by their TV chair and it is filled each morning with drinks, food, treats and the senior then does not have to go anywhere for their daily food. This is perfect when a senior is checked in the morning and evening by a care giver or family member.
  7. Rules: setting rules is no joke. You set rules for children when they are growing…so you need to set rules for seniors. They may break them…but they need to know they are there. George is not allowed to walk without his cane or walker. I spend my day finding a cane in one room and bringing it back to him and keeping the walker close. But his dementia does not help him remember. So, its my job to keep his tools of support around him close, so he uses them. George can not overload his hands…I now transport anything he needs in a basket so he walks with hands free and balance in check.
  8. Medications can be a big problem with falls. Talk to the doctor about his falls and tell him they are worrying you. Ask if he can review the prescription list and see if any of the medications could make the senior dizzy, tired or forgetful. So when you are giving the senior their morning pills – you can adjust their routine to allow them to rest for a while after they take their meds. Make sure the senior is sleeping in their bed at night and resting their brain and body. Many elders sleep in their chairs and nap all day. This confuses the body and does not help the senior stay strong.
  9. Talk to your senior. Just sit down and tell them your concerns. “Dad, I want you to live with us. But if you fall and break your hip – you will have to have more care in a facility. This is why we are all trying to keep you safe. I know that the walker is not fun, I know you don’t like to be bothered with me hovering. But I am doing this to keep you safe and at home (or with us).” When seniors hear your concern, when they understand your fuss is in love – they take note of their own care. Life gets easier. I often ask George; “What do you think we can do to fix this?” And through his dementia he usually has a come back. Some times its funny…sometimes its way to hopeful…but he feels involved in the conversation. A senior’s personal honor has to be kept in place for them to work with you on solving problems.
  10. NO SHAME _ NO BLAME I work very hard to deal with emergencies, not yell about them. Even though I get mad and exasperated when my Georgie does something silly and causes a big issue of a fall. I take the moment new. I use a calming voice. i tell him to relax and just stay still till he can catch his breath. I inspect his body and make sure he is in one piece. I ask him about pain level. (1-10) I keep him still untill he can recover his mind and review his own body. When I feel it is safe I assist him in getting up again, using a straight chair. I bring the chair to the site of the fall. I get George turned around and on his hands and knees. Then he puts his hands on the straight chair’s seat and I assist him to slowly stand. If he is dead weight and not thinking straight – I do not try to move him alone. I call for help. I have a neighbor that comes over and if he did not respond to my call – I would call 911 and ask for assistance with a fall. The EMS (fire fighters) come and get him up and into a chair or bed. They check him out and would then help me transfer him to ER in my car or by ambulance if it was needed. I force myself to stay calm and thinking.
  11. After a fall: I have George drink water while he sits calmly in his chair. I turn off the TV and put on music to help him relax. I bring him something that has sugar, like a cookie and make him tea. I sit with him and we talk about something totally unrelated. That allows his mind to rest back into place. The shock of a fall is hard for anyone. Letting the senior absorb the shock and relax again…then rest for a while before they go to the bathroom (or back to their day activity) is best. I always cover George with a light throw when he is in his chair…keeping him warm, rested, fed and calmed with music and talk…brings life back to him. I save my fears and upset for another room…away from him. Often the fall worries me – more than George. So I try to calm myself down with a little tea and maybe a walk around the yard or a chat with a friend on the phone. It’s OK to cry out frustrations, but its not OK to do it in front of the senior. They will feel nothing but guilt over your upset.
  12. Pain. If the fall causes bruising or pain. Its best to make a call to the doctor’s office and ask to talk to the nurse. Tell her what you have done and what the senior complaints have been. They will tell you what to look for that would require the senior to come into the office. The rule I live by…is the ER and doctor’s office are there for real emergencies and I take that seriously. Just like a new mother…it takes experience to tell when a baby is in need of rest and love or a trip to the doctor. So it goes for seniors in care.

Just the fact that you care about your dad and his falls..tells me that you are a kind person there to help your dad through his elder challenges.

George is now waiting for his PT appointment to get a wheelchair. I am concerned what that will mean to our household routine. Will he not want to even try to walk or exercise when he gets in that chair? Will his dementia and Parkinson’s really start to take a dive when he is no longer moving on his own? I worry about change…

I know what it takes to give care on a full time basis. Its lonely. I thank you for your love and kindness to your father. I hope these ideas have helped. Blessings, francy

What if someone said you were going to die soon…then what?


How to handle the journey to the end of life by francy Dickinson

My little Annie and her never ending love.

My little Annie and her never ending love.

Dear Francy; I am 47, I live alone and work in a doctor’s office. I have an adult son that is now in France with his own family and his dad. I am alone, no one in my family is left but me and a distant cousin. I have not been well for quite some time so I have very few friends and no one that checks on me or is a close confidant. When the doctor told me – my time was close…I just came home and sat down on my patio and wanted it to end right there and then. I was given your name by a friend, she said you ‘knew about things’. I wish I knew about things…I was wondering what you think I should be doing? I just don’t have the energy to think lately…and yet, I want the end of my life to be joyful. Do you have any ideas for me?

Yes! First, a Friend told me one day…that you should think of death as the beginning of a new life. Think how happy everyone is here…when a new baby is born into our family or community…we all give showers and gifts and stand in line to hold the child with great hope. What if your death here…is like a new child’s birth on the other side? What if when you enter that realm or dimension…you are the star…you are the one everyone is waiting for? Your family that has passed on, dear old friends…anipals that have passed – all standing in line for hugs. What if you are the center of attention? Just a thought to throw around in your mind.

I sent you a personal note and asked if I could share some information on the blog and you granted me that right. So, I will talk about the idea of death that bursts forth when anyone is faced with it. The recent tragic news about people dying in terrible fires and storms, children being shot in their schools and cars dropping off of bridges without any notice. You can be faced with end of life situations at any age…but for you and many, its health issues that take over the body and cause an end to life. You are still young, but a person’s age does not matter, death is death.

I was faced with 4th stage cancer in my twenties. So I know the pain and trials of thinking about death. I know the feeling that just making it through a day to day situation seems overwhelming. But the truth, as I know it…is that life enfolds and I lived on. I lived through the procedures, the pain, the confusion, the trauma and thirty years later — I am still here. So timing of our death can be very tricky and I would not get caught up in dates, times or places of your own demise…it may be tomorrow…or it may be a very long way, away.

Since you are alone, you have the privacy to be emotional when you need to be. You don’t have to be brave or polite for your family or older parents…you can just be who you are and that is a gift. That means that you have the ability to sit on your patio and enjoy the air, the noise of life and the sunshine….its a good place to be. I happen to be a great believer in trees. My family has a history of staring at the beauty of trees, as they made the last part of their life’s journey. It gave them all a feeling of calm, peace and they often talked about things they saw in the trees after hours of staring at the limbs swaying and leaves shimmering. Being with nature when you are tense and worried…is always a great calming effect. You get into the feelings of the day…the noise of the morning, afternoon and evening…and the quiet of the night. Some times…you just need to connect to that and I think its a good thing.

I know your son seems like a lifetime away. But one day he, his children or grandchildren will want to know about you. Its time to prepare for that. When you are fresh in the morning…start to pack a box for your son. Put everything in protective sleeves or ziplock bags and add notes to them. Example: Your wedding ring…tuck in a note about when you got it and how much you loved to wear it. I did this with my sister when she was passing with cancer…those little gifts and notes to family and a few friends…were held like gold when they received them.

Go to and do a simple search and get your immediate family members in place. Then scan in a few pictures and when someone does research on your family…they will find your smiling face and a small outline of your life. They will read a few things about your own father and mother and maybe you knew your grand parents. That is like a gift to your great, great grandchildren…please give it to them.

Call Hospice. They will come and talk to you and talk you through what has to be done to keep you safe and well and at home, if you choose to be at home… through your end days. They are trained for all sorts of situations…so you will be surprised at how much they will do for you. They will clean your home, help you with a pet, find a home for your gold fish…they do what you need to make a life transition without worry. Its a wonderful group and is free to all of us.

Ask someone you know, to be your health care directorship. Maybe it will be a friend at work, or the doctor you work with or anyone that you enjoy talking to and understands your true voice. When you fill out the paperwork, you will see it will ask you what you want to do about your decisions…like would you want to be on prolonged life support? Think on it and then answer. Do you want to be buried or cremated? These questions are not there to upset you…they are there for you to make the decisions before you get so ill that someone else makes those decisions for you.

Let people know you are on a limited time frame. My husband has long talked about an incident that happened in his life. He was married with children and his father was suffering with Parkinson’s. His dad went into the hospital and his mother called and gave him an upbeat talk about it and told him not to worry to come and visit the next day. My husband was going to do just that and he had in mind what he was going to bring to his dad and some special treats he was going to include in his gift.  Then early that morning a call came that his dad had passed. My husband was so upset that he never forgot about the missed chance to see his dad…and he has always been stuck on why his mother did that to him?
Give your son a call and let him know the situation. If he wants to come and see you…let him. If he is fine with it and just wants to chat and send you love over the phone…then you can deal with that too. But do not take away the choice of your son to express his feelings for you before you are no longer there. Gift him, the choice. Being brave and not wanting to rock a boat, is really being selfish and taking the power away from your loved ones – to give to you.

Ask what or how the end will come. A lot of people do not want to know this..but Hospice will explain to you what is ahead. When I have worked with them…I have found that this information takes the worry and fright out of what is happening to you when your body is weak and you are no longer able to understand or do for yourself.

Do what pleases you. If you like hamburgers eat them…if you like chocolate eat it, if you like to drink martinis ~ this is your moment. No diet is going to change your health when you are in the final stages of health decline. Be good to yourself…do as you please…if you want to take off your bra…or wear your hair on top of your head. Do it!

Do not spend energy on things that have no meaning. I try to explain to anyone in your place…that your body only has so much energy…so how you use it each day is very important. Think of your body as a laptop on a plane trip. You have an hour or two of battery time, before it has to be recharged…so what are you going to do with that laptop?

Say NO…if you are asked to do something that you do not want to do…you now say, NO.

Do not push away people. You know I have gone through a strange life of care giving. Not because I wanted to…I am not a nurse type person, but because I was in the right spot at the right time to help a few of my family members, friends and others. I could have said NO. I could have gotten someone else to do the care giving..but somehow I was put there to learn and to do. Its just how life unfolds. But from caring for my dad in his last days…he shared some stories and ideas with me, that I would never have known. Being with my sister in her last days gave me a clear appreciation for her helping my mother to raise me. When I took mom into our home, in her last days…showed me that I was strong and could keep my mind working even in crisis. All of those actions and care giving…now allowed me to be here for my dear Georgie, as I am now caring for him during his Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s journey. It has not been a bad thing, or a sad thing, but a journey and a gift that they gave to me. I always was a very self-centered person that only worried about my own life…I have now been shown how important it is to do for others and to give them your love when they really need it. I have learned that my sense of humor has as much power as my care giving…because nasty health issues are not fun…and if you can not laugh in the midst of chaos…there is a big problem in your world. The care giving was not a burden, but an awakening for me as a person. The care giving turned out to be how I was meant to give back and I am pleased that my family members gave me the chance to learn that…I am not mad about being ‘put out’ over the work. I am honored. So do not think that you are asking to much when you ask care givers to help you…they are there to be next to you during this time. Maybe something you say or do, will enrich their lives in a way that never would have happened without you.

If it is true that giving is blessed…then you have to remember than someone has to be the receiver in that process. So you have given all through your life…now, its time to be the receiver and let others be blessed on their kindness and giving to you.

Last…there is nothing to be afraid of — if the end of life has nothing. I mean if those that believe in an after life of some kind…are wrong…so what? Nothing is nothing, you don’t have to worry over nothing. But if we are right about the end of life being a beginning of another experience…then being prepared and thinking of what you would want in that new experience is worth your energy. Pushing through the fear…and knowing that you will be swept up into love…is so important.

There is no being with someone when you die. We are all going to be alone. Even if we have a big family around us…the experience is ours alone. All you have done will stand for its own value. Today, think and do what feels right. You said you like to do watercolor…so paint! Do not care what it looks like, if it’s shaky or the colors are not perfect…just open up and paint. Feel the inner you coming out and allow it to talk to you. Maybe it will be sad and dark…or maybe it will be beautiful and light colors, or maybe it will be joyous and just shine. .Allow that inside of you…to spill out. There are no more rules…you are on your own ride.

Know that you and your life had meaning as all lives do. I think of my sweet little wire haired fox terrier, Annie. She passed years ago. She gave me so much joy and love and I still think of her as being by my side. She is dead, she is gone…and yet I feel her close. I remember how she expressed her love to me and it still makes me feel special. She was with me only nine years, such a short time on earth and yet…she gave me a lasting feeling of love and being a good dog mom. Since I have not had any children of my own…those feelings of motherhood were expressed with her and she – in return, left her love behind.

You are loved…and I am honored to have met you and that you have shared your feelings with me. Blessings, francy

When You Say ‘Enough’ To Giving In Home Care


How to make the decision to end the ‘in your home care’ of an elder. by francy Dickinson

Toots w Kathy, Merrilee n Francy at mother's downstairs area

Toots w Kathy, Merrilee n Francy at mother’s downstairs area in our home

Dear Francy: I don’t know what to do…I am in trouble and too tired to make a decision. My husband has MS and he is still functioning on his own. He is in a wheelchair but he has a good life at home, as a writer. We have three children ages 10-15 years and they are in the swirl of life. I have been a part-time cook at the local cafe. My husband’s aunt is all alone in the world and very dear to us. We have a mother-in-law outbuilding in our backyard and we have fixed it up and moved the Auntie in, to be close to us. She is a quiet and kind person that was doing for herself but she needed a lot of our help. It all seemed great for the first three months she was here. Then she got the flu and complications and she became more frail. Now, I have to care for her…running back and forth over the path to what the kids call “the cottage”. I am getting so tired and the house is beginning to feel the pressures. I don’t know what to do. Our Aunt has done nothing to upset us…she is just getting older and needs more care. Do you think this is just a bump? Or is this going to spiral down and take more of my time?

I can not tell you that, I am not a professional medical person. I am just a person that has years of giving in home care to my family and elders. So, what I will do is write down a list of things to help care givers with ‘in home care’ situations and you can pick and choose what might help you. Just remember there is no guilt when you try to give help and love to another…life changes and things often have to change. You are really in a situation that many others are…you are sandwiched in between job and family vs the care of a senior. Just the kindness of your heart, to make room for your beloved Aunt, is very dear to me. Thank you.


  1. YOU  have to save yourself first! My dear friend Cheryl, was a flight attendant for 25 years and they were taught to be the first to grab the oxygen when it dropped down! So they could stay clear headed and help others. Its a lesson for all of us to remember when we face situations that require so much of us as care givers.
  2. START SMALL. If you just take time to sit with your spouse and go over the needs list for your aunt and decide who will do what. Do not forget your children, they are all old enough to do little things and be in charge of this or that. Maybe they will take over more of the “in your house or yard chores” so you can go and take care of your Auntie. Be honest…this time can be an amazing learning lesson for your children and you. Giving up some of your own wants and doing for others…is what characters are built on. But this organization meeting will show you how much time you are spending. I don’t want to be out of place saying this…but a business meeting is like a “Come to Jesus”. You finally see what is in front of you.
  3. ASKING FOR HELP: If your Auntie has money then you have to be honest with her and get her to allow you to hire help. It could be a cleaning lady for both places that allows you to forget the little things a bit. The one help I insist on is a bath lady. I have said this a million times. They are worth their weight in gold and they should be the first on a sparse budget. They will take that pressure away and get the bath and hair all clean in a ‘faster than light’ action. Plus, they are another friendly face for the senior.  NO MONEY? Then you simply have to go down to the social services and get your Aunt signed up. They will do a review of her income and your care giving and they will provide help to make it easier for you. They will pay for her medications, they will provide food stamps for her food, they will pay – you – for care you are giving. (they do not pay for a spouse but they will pay for a family member or friend) Yes, in return they will make demands. You have to keep a clean area for the senior and do a few hours of nursing classes to teach you how to give healthy and wise care. But it was a life saver for me when mother’s care went into overdrive and I was not able to work any longer.
  4. BE HONEST: If you pretend life is fine, you are signing your own health decline order. This is not easy stuff…you simply have to say…I NEED REST. You can ask other family members to come one day a week, so you can ease your strain or simply sleep. You can ask your employer if you could just work two days instead of four days. Your income from the state should cover this change. You will find an increase in your expenses. Seniors require expensive food, protein drinks, Depends, extra electric bills with the increased clothes washing and heat bills. (seniors need heat all year round) Talk, the more you talk and ask for help…the more your family and community services will hear you and add you to their listing.
  5. COMMUNITY SERVICES AND FAITH BASED HELP: Even if you do not belong to a faith group, your local church, temple, etc is there for you. You are a part of their extended community and they will reach out to you. You may find that they have a list of retirees that are willing to come and just visit or sit with your senior so you can leave the house and shop. Or the senior can get a good laugh with a person of their own generation. You may find they have a food bank to help with extra items, they also have visiting lay-ministry people that will come and just talk with the senior. Do not get uppity about community help. Those services are made up of others that have gone through what you are going through and decided to put a group together to help others. Take advantage of their ideas and service time available.
  6. RELEASE ANGER: I have a list of families that are angry with their relatives because they did not help with giving care to their elder. If you can ask family to help you…to come and visit when you need to be at school for the kids…or to buy your elder a pair of slippers or new housecoat…then do it. But if they don’t…let it go. Just do not spend your already low energy on anyone that is not willing to reach out and give you a hug and help in your time of high stress. Those folks are not worth it. Let it be…
  7. GET A POWER OF ATTORNEY AND HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE: I am afraid I often say this, so if you read my blog…its a repeat. But there is nothing, and I mean nothing more frustrating — than to give care to an elder on a daily basis and then have some punk realitive walk in the door and tell you that another anxiety medication is not really needed for your elder. Like they know! No one knows more than the “in home care giver” so you need to insist that you can make the decisions on the behalf of the elder. Then it will be your moral duty to make them in the best way you can, for the elder. Trust me, each time I talk about this…people think…OH my sister is better with forms and she will do it. NOT 
  8. GATHER A HEALTH TEAM: Add your senior’s family doctor, get a specialist to at least see the elder once and review things. Get a nurse to talk to or just get a nurse practitioner to be your main care giver reference. Now lets talk real. Doctors diagnose they do not treat you. A nurse or care giver treats. So you need to learn how to ask the doctor questions and understand the chemistry of the elder’s health problems. The better your questions are, the easier the care giving will be. Then you need to know what will happen at home…and what that means you will be doing about the care. If you go through a bump, ask the doctor for in home nurse care, he can order that and the nurse will show you how to treat the elder. Bring in a nurse contact or help line to help you decide how to care for the elder at home and a pharmacist to explain the medications needed. The doctor will give you drugs and what is called an Rx for things like physical therapy, wheelchairs, in home help of an occupational therapist, message, therapy sessions, supplements etc. This is important; anything your senior needs should be written as a prescription so the insurance and medicare will accept it and help pay for it. Always ask the doctor to prescribe something and to give you generic medications so you are not going down a big hole when free services and medications are available to you.
    YES> THIS MEANS YOU NEED TO BE ORGANIZED. So don’t be a baby…the more you write down, the more questions you ask, the more you get clarified…the easier the care giving will be.
    Remember; talk to a nurse about home care tips…read my blog and learn home care tips. Use the Internet for extra advise and read it all…then make your own decisions. Talk about supplements that will help the elder and special ways to use food and exercise to increase the abilities of any senior in any stage of decline. Understand bowel movement difficulty, side effects of medications, dizziness, avoiding falls, eating difficulties, hydration challenges. All these things will come up so you need to write them down and have doctor or nurse show you how to treat the problems at home. It is not scary if you understand and are prepared.
  9. NO< NO< NO: I just do not want to clean a bottom, or smell blood, give a shot, or lift the elder up out of a chair. OK…see, that is being honest with who you are. It does not make you a bad person. You need to draw a line in the sand and when you come to that line the elder is going to be placed in a care facility. Everyone has a line, yours maybe closer than mine…but that does not make me a better person. I have a disposition to give care. I never knew I did…I was never a girl that said I wanted to be Nurse Francy. Now I know, that I can turn off my mind and just give the care without getting sick or too involved in the immediate yucky situation. Some can, some cannot. Know yourself and draw your line. I have a line. I drew it with my mother and now it is firmly in place with my husband and his decline with Alzheimer’s. They have to walk or at least be transferable. I have a very bad back and I simply can not lift a huge person and walk around without a great deal of pain. What is your line in the sand? 
  10. HAVE A PLAN: Is there respite services you can use or senior day care services? Ask and find out how the local community is prepared to help you with rest. There needs to be a plan, where would you take your elder if they need to leave you? Some where close so you can visit and keep an eye on their care.  Have the place in your mind. Go and visit, tell them what you are doing and ask if they take medicare patients, if they have a long waiting list, if you could be on a secondary list of placement in case of emergency, etc. Once this is done, you will then be able to relax and know a quick transfer to a facility will not end up in you moving the senior again because the facility was not up to your standards of care. Call Hospice and ask them when you are to use their services…ask them how to judge the situation and they will walk you through a review of how to use them. So, if the senior is sinking down and wants to die at home…you can get help. Hospice also has facilities for end of life care…so find out the best way to use their services, now. Lastly, know what would happen if your elder passed in their sleep. Who do you call, is there money for a funeral, do they want a funeral. Do they want to be buried or cremated? Get it done early in the time you take the elder into your house. So as care accelerates you do not have to add another layer of upset to your own life. Get all this over and done. Then you can turn your attention to today…and making it a day of joy for you and your senior.

You may think no one cares about you being tired, upset and stressed over senior care. You may think that no one has ever been where you are today…but you are wrong. Generations have faced the same problems and found solutions that worked for them. One step at a time…give it time. A senior may have a big dip…and then in a week or two they will regroup, re energize and come back up in strength and life will go on again. Give it  all time. You take time to get over the flu…a senior takes more time. But encourage them to get well….keep them moving, drinking, eating and laughing. Let them know you want them to live…to the end of their life. Not just make it through to end. Keep your heart in the race and it will work out. Care giving is just a short part of your life time. The gift of your giving your heart…will come back to you in so many rich ways…year after year.

Blessings on all that you do for your family and your dear elder. francy

NOTE: Will you sign up to receive notice of my blogs please? You will find the button on the right side of the screen towards the top. I do not write as often now that my Georgie is in need of more and more of my own time. But I am here to do all I can to help. So send me an email if you need help. f.

10 Tips for Great Doctor Appointments 4 Your Senior


Info on how to prepare for doctor appointments for you or your senior. by francy Dickinson

George on his weekly out and about.

George on his weekly out and about.

Dear Francy: Mother was complaining for two weeks on how she was having bowel problems and a soreness in her rib cage…I made the doctor appointment. We go…then she says nothing! He asks her how she is and she says; “FINE”  I am so frustrated and mad that I wasted a day off work for an empty doctor appointment. HELP!

Hello!  Are you sure you are not living my life? I have been there and done that so many times that I sat down and went over all the steps that would give me quality time with busy doctors. We all can get scattered and forget, or not really ‘think’ about our body and what to ask the doctor. So here is a listing to help you never again feel cheated at a doctor’s office.

George is going to his memory clinic on Friday. We have had three appointments that have had to be cancelled, due to all sorts of things, so this time…we need to really go and hit the nail on the head. I am taking time to do all of these steps this week with George. I know this will help you. It has made my time at doctor’s offices go smooth and easy.I have even had doctors “thank me” for being so informative.


  1. Quiet yourself and think about you/or your senior’s body. What has changed since the last time you were at the doctor’s office? Even if the doctor you are seeing is a foot specialist…write down your whole body changes. Doctors diagnose with detailed information. They are best when they know the most. Give them a list: slightly dizzy when I get up to go to the bathroom at night – gained 10 pounds and feel like candy is my best friend – allergy headaches that really bother me – my mouth is dry all the time, lately – my nails are breaking a lot – my hair is getting thinner. Go ahead. Sit and think about this, talk it over with your senior or spouse and write it down. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to share the information…this list could save a life.
  2. Write a letter to the doctor about your care giving elder. Just let the doctor know. I have written my letter for my husband’s friday memory clinic appointment. I have taken time to be quiet with myself and just write down his changes with his Alzheimer’s. I have had to insist on him getting out of bed, he only feels safe there. I have forced him to walk 10 min. in the hall – twice a day. His shuffling is so bad that I am very worried over him not walking at all and I would lose the ability to care for him. I even did a short video to show him on our tablet. I am not sleeping (see I talk about me too) I find my temper is getting short over the silly things he does. Now you go ahead do your letter and let it all flow out. Let the doctor know the things your senior has told you during the last couple of months. Write it down and give it to the check-in desk and ask the doctor to read it before he comes into the appointment. The doctor will be so grateful.
  3. Keep a list of things you hear on the radio, from friends or read online about the special medical problems you or your senior may have at this time. Maybe you heard a tip on supplements to help diabetes, or a special test on a new drug, or a place to go and join an experimental test. Write it down, so you can remember to ask the opinion of your own doctor before you proceed. Use his opinion to help you make your “own informed decision”  about treatment.
  4. Walk in the doctor’s office with an updated list of your medications. Keep this list on the computer or ask the doctor to print if off for you. You need to know each name of the medication, the amount, the time to take it, if it is taken with or without food, and what the medication is doing in your body. If you don’t know those things take a trip to the pharmacy and talk to them. You need to take pills that make sense to you and understand the reason you take them. That way you will be taking them on time, in a a daily manner. Many medications simply stop working if you take them 2 -5 times a week. So you may “pay” for a medication and then not take them properly or not understand that one medication may assist another. This is serious stuff. If you do not take your medications…then open your mouth and tell your doctor. He is assuming that you are taking it. So each time you walk in the door, he is trying to diagnosis you and if you do not have his prescriptions in your body chemistry…he is unknowingly making a mistake.
    This is important. KNOW YOUR MEDICATIONS AND TAKE THEM PROPERLY. If you forget to take them…find a way to remind yourself. There are cell phone apps that will do just that, or ask your care giver or family to call you…but take your medications!
  5. Be informed. I often go to the doctor with my sister because she tends to blank out when she is faced with the doctor’s answers to her questions or diagnosis.  I go and take notes. But now, we all have cell phones with recording buttons. When the doctor is starting to tell you what is wrong with you or how to treat it…have your record button ready…let the doctor know you are taping and push the button. Then you can play the information back for yourself or your family to review.
  6. Dress for success. OK you are going to the doctor, wear something that is easy to remove and put back on. Wear shoes that are not the heaviest you own because you will be weighted-in. Take off your coat before you get weighed and take note of your weight at the doctor’s office so you can go home and adjust your own scale. Also write down your blood pressure, if it is high you can then take it a few times at home to make sure that it does not stay in a high range. Blood pressure is best taken at lunch time…relaxed and repeated so the doctor can see the time frame of the numbers. Same with weight…weigh in the morning, twice a week and write it down in a notebook. When you go to the doctor you can show him your progress up or down over a time period so he can look for glues.
  7. Seasonal issues. Keep a green marker for your calendar journal to mark seasonal problems. Maybe you gain weight around the holidays…write it down. Maybe you have spring or fall allergies, write it down. So the next year…you can look at it and know that it is repeated and needs to be talked about with your doctor. Allergy medications have changed a lot in the last few years. Ask for help, runny noses may not be life threats, but they do keep you from going on walks for your health. Medications change and update…always ‘ask’ the doctor about new medications and if you can drop some that you are taking. All medications are changed just one at a time…so the doctor and you actually know what the reactions are for that one drug. Then you can make another change…so be patient. Maybe your weight has gone down and your diabetes pills or water pills are no longer needed. Do not marry your medications…think of them as fluid and up-datable. There is always a doctor that will give out medications just to keep you quiet…so make sure you “ask” why you are getting a medication and then do a little homework online to make sure it is something that you need and you are prepared for the side effects if they show.
  8. Can you relate to your doctor? If you are going to a doctor that does not talk to you, or you do not understand. Tell him, or change doctors. Your own, or your senior’s health is what life is about. You need to understand..that exercise is needed to help your knee or maybe you need to stay off of it…or cold not hot must be used. If you do not understand then you are not healing and it could effect the way you walk for the rest of your life. Its a big deal! Do not be afraid to make a change of a doctor, or to speak up!
  9. Use a calendar on the wall to remind you of all medical appointments. I like to cluster them. I have George do his appointments in the spring and the fall. So, in one month we see all his specialist doctors. Then the rest of the time…we only go to the doctor if he is unwell and needs extra help. This way I am not trying to take him around to appointments every month…or twice a week. My mother got too weak for doctor appointments…so I found a local doctor that would come and visit her at home. Working with a nurse practitioner is also a wonderful way to check-in quick with questions and not have to wait for appointments with a busy doctor.
    REMEMBER: ER visits are to be avoided. You can catch germs, get overly tired and they are expensive.  Make appointments and keep them. That way the flow of your life will be calmer.
  10. If you have come to a point in your life, or your senior’s life — that fighting a physical or extreme dementia condition- is simply too overwhelming. Then you need to tell your doctor that too. The doctor will discuss palliative care. That is where you are treated to keep you pain free and comfortable. You will be assigned a Hospice Care Team that will come to you and allow you to relax and adjust to the end of life journey. There is no reason to drag elders around to doctor appointments if they have issues that are beyond a medical cure. No matter what your income..Hospice is there for you. You or your senior deserves to have a wonderful team of caring nurses and helpers come to you…to keep your needs met and the pain or worry level down. It is always hard to make that decision, but once made the Hospice team really knows how to take over and keep the elder in-care…comforted and given good palliative care.
    NOTE: Medicare and insurance bill either your regular doctor or Hospice. So you do have to make an appointment and have a good truthful decision with your doctor for this change of care situation. You need to also remember to ask for a disability sticker for your car and understand the doctor needs to sign a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ agreement. I always try to remind you to get a Health Care Directive Form, signed and agreed on right away while the senior understands the issues.

I hope this will all be of help to you. Since I have kept my medication listing and added in the allergies that George has and his needs if he is put into the hospital on that same page….the doctor visits have been great. I express myself before the appointment and then the information is turned into the nurse at the check-in desk to attach to the file. The doctor then walks in the door, knowing what is going on and directs his attention and knowledge to help me and George make changes for the good in our daily lives. Some times there is no change, some times there is a medication change — other times there is just advice in how to make changes in our daily life to keep George as strong as he can be. Maybe we go to the Physical Therapist to help him get strong, maybe we have a respite to give me a break. All of the information that I share with the doctor, helps him make sound decisions that are based on our reality of life. I once told the doctor that a medication he prescribed was to hard for me to give four times a day. George has no memory and I can do morning and evening meds…but to add a few more during the day…means I have to remember things for me and for him. It was too much. The doctor said that was fine, he would change the medication to one that had a time release. You see how being honest helps everyone?

*  Take time to review the body functions of yourself or your senior
*  Write down the information or changes
*  Be prepared with a list of medications that is complied from all the different doctors that prescribe to you
*  Be honest with yourself and the doctor

Thank you again for giving your time and love to your senior. Its a lonely world out there for care-givers. I appreciate you taking your time to share with me. I am here for you. Send me your questions and I will do my best to help. OH, I would really appreciate you signing up for this blog post…it will email it to you. I am doing less blogging because George’s Alzheimer’s is getting in advance stages and he needs more care. So the ups and down of my writing is easier for you if you just recieve the update in your email. Please add your email to the side bar and you will hear from me each time I write a posting….Thank you…and Blessings, francy

The Secret; Care Givers are the ‘Silent’ Boss


How care givers can handle the frustrations that dementia and other senior health problems can manifest! Staying sane, while you give them care. by Francy Dickinson

Anger and upset from seniors in care…how to help calm this and give their days peace and enjoyment

Dear Francy; It’s the nasty looks, the angry words and the refusal to even move when I ask him to! This has driven me to the edge. How do I keep going; when I have only been caring for dad a month and I’m out of my mind? 

Well, my idea is to remember; who is the senior in care? And who is the care giver? The care giver is the boss…but the hard part? You have to do it silently.

I want you to think of your senior as a young child. Now this is not to demean a senior adult. They are full-grown and with or without dementia they have lived a life that is to be honored. NO, do not demean them. You simply think of them as emotionally equal to a young person of 3-6 years. When there is a problem to handle…you ask yourself what would I do if I was caring for a younger person?


Your dad is still trying to wear cargo pants during the day and his favorite shirt all week-long. He has trouble getting to the bathroom on time and then dealing with taking down his pants is adding to the constant accidents. Even if he does a morning clean up…his clothing is starting to smell.  (Does that sound familiar  Have you ever seen a 5-year-old that will not get out of his Spiderman pajamas and cape?) So, what you do is lay out two outfits for the next day and take his clothes and clean them. In the morning he has two tops and two pants (hopefully comfortable around the house sweats) to choose from. The other clothes are in the wash. He may be upset…but you have given him two choices and he has the feeling of freedom. Now that means that you have to sort through his clothes and get rid of a lot of things he no longer can safely or sanely wear. But once you get the routine down, the senior feels the honor of choice — even when the choices have been designed for the senior’s better good.


Your senior, is a sugar girl. But she has (diabetes, bad teeth, over-weight, or sugar highs at night) so you have to control the intake of sugar. Find a glass candy dish with a lid. Then find a few things that will hit her sweet tooth. Maybe a couple of cookies, a couple of sugar-free gummys, a mint, raisins, etc. Put two or three each in the dish each day. I would place it on her TV side table around 3PM. Let her chose and she gets to eat it fast or slow through the evening. You let her know…”This is your sweet dish for the day, remember this has to last”

Make sure you remove all signs of the sweets in her kitchen area…or your kitchen area. Keep them put away in a large plastic storage bin. So you have to hand out, but just like a young child…you only give them out in small quantities  (Do you remember small baggies of goldfish or Cheerios for your toddler? This is the same idea…a treat, but not over-doing it)

PS/ Diabetic sweet products use sweeteners that can give the senior ‘the runs’ – it is very important that they only eat a small amount of the “candy style– sugar substitute” in those snacks. Keep an eye on this so you can learn to judge the amount your senior can handle.

What I am talking about is to think ahead to the day. What time does the senior have to eat or sleep to have a day that is calm? Have you been in the grocery store around 11’ish and heard a few children crying and carrying on? Why?…they are getting tired…they are getting hungry. The mother’s has miscalculated the time issue…they think a quick trip to the store and then take them to lunch. Wrong…the kids are on the edge of no return at that time. Children and seniors need to stay on a daily routine to give them a sense of security and well-being.

If you want to take a senior out. Make sure you have a cheese stick in your purse and water bottle ready for them to take a pill or just drink. Make sure you stop for food and insist they get home in time to nap. DO NOT MAKE MULTI-STOPS. Go to a doctor appointment and to lunch–then home. Another day, you go out and go for a walk around a store and then get ice cream. Another day you take them to a movie and make sure you feed them lunch and they go to the bathroom before they go into the theatre. “Thinking ahead” that is the job of the care-giver.

Your senior needs just the basics. They need a good bed that is comfortable and easy to get in and out of for night time bathroom runs. They need a good day comfort chair by the TV with a side-table. The side-table needs one or two drawers to keep their things in to keep them from a lot of ups and downs. Example: tuck in a nail file  small scissor, pens, notebook, hand cream…those are just ideas to keep the need to constantly be asking you “to bring” them reduced.

Plan, to give the senior their space…but you MUST check on them every 12-20 minutes. All mothers have this time frame in their minds; when they’re raising young children. You know that quiet can be good…or can mean the child is getting into trouble. So a check-in every few minutes means you are staying in contact with your senior’s needs, changing moods, and bathroom trips.

This means that you need to learn to plan your actions around the house to that time frame. It may seem overwhelming, but it works. You will get used to it. Then once you are on the same program as your senior…you know to take in their afternoon coffee or tea–or, to ask them to fold the clothes in the morning when they have energy. To keep the house quiet after lunch so they can nap. Not to mention; you can invite them to walk to the mailbox with you — to get their exercise in before 4PM when their energy naturally dips.

Most arguments and bad behavior is a sign of the senior wanting to be the BOSS. The senior is feeling that they are loosing personal power and they want to get it back. You are the person around for them to push buttons and try to be the boss. So when you change your thought pattern around…it allows them to ‘think’ they are making the decisions. The resistance goes down and the upsets depart. YOU, are the boss…and you have to keep the movement of the day and choices of the senior ‘pre-planned’. You do not find grade school teachers just walking into their classroom with 30 children – without a daily lesson plan. So think of your care-giving as a time to be prepared. The daily rituals will fall into place and you can then repeat the weekly plans with small changes. Both you and your senior will feel calmer.

After lunch each day…when the house is quiet and your senior is napping. Sit down and make a plan of action for your day and week. Then you can construct it to give the senior time to rest, play, eat and be calm. You can make time for yourself with visits to relatives  senior centers and invite others to your place to give you a ‘time-out’. You can do it…it does take energy…it takes pre-planning–but you can do it. Once you have the rhythm down…it truly can be quieter in the life of both you and your senior.

If your senior continues to be really difficult — remember to write down examples and take them into the doctor the next trip. Let the health care team know you are on the edge and you need help…and they can advise a medication that can help lessen the stress for the senior. *** When I told the doctor and he gave George his medications for emotional stress…it made such a huge difference that I can not believe it took me so long to share the personal upset I had been fighting. Now, George feels calmer and every small issue is not a debate. 

You are very kind to be sharing your patience, love and attention with your senior. Give yourself breaks. While the senior is watching their favorite TV shows…you walk out the door and go around the block…or just sit on the porch and breath a little. If your senior refuses baths–hire a bath person. If your senior has been in a snit all week, call a friend, cousin or sibling and ask them to come and give you a break. When they do…go out. Get in the car and drive to the store and just walk around. Or drive to the park and just relax…or drive to the coffee shop and give yourself a quiet treat. These little re-news…will make a huge difference in your ability to cope with rising stress levels.

Do not forget that music is your friend. Learn how to use a light tone in the morning….to get the day going…a quiet tone in the afternoon and early evening…and then a quicker tone when you want the senior to have dinner and be up in energy. Then tone the music down again in the later evening to prepare the senior for the quiet of the night. Music will lift you up and will calm you down…so keep it close and use it often.

Blessings on all that you do…francy
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Alzheimer’s “Taking a Break” for Care Giving Spouse


How to go about taking a break from care giving for spouses and family…giving the Alzheimer’s senior a safe resting spot and a break from building stress at home. by francy Dickinson

It takes a family to give care to a senior and keep their spouse/care giver a break!

It takes a family to give care to a senior and keep their spouse/care giver rested !

Dear Francy; My dad called and he is giving up on care giving for mom. He has had a cold for two months, is tired, frustrated and just feels she needs more care than he can give. I don’t think its time, yet. Even though her dementia is nutty; she is still able to carry on a conversation, do personal chores when guided and even cooks once a day. How can I get this situation ironed out? I just need to have direction. Thank you, Katy

Katy I get it! I gave myself a mini break today. So I understand the worry and the stress and the need to just throw up your hands and make it go away. Your Dad is the best…how caring he is to give her care in the first place. Here are some ideas to guide you:


  1. Mini breaks; are days that the care giver does very little for the senior. It can be done with a day of giving the senior a chance to see how their skill level really is holding out. Or, it can be that you just do the minimum to keep things going. It’s good to do this once a week, so if the care giver is not feeling well…or is extra tired…there is still a slight break for them.
    It is a one day routine, not done more than one day in a week. You will go back to full-time care giving the next day after the break. This is a good routine to understand, because there are days the spouse care giver is unwell, tired or injured and they need to only do a minimum of care. You will still bring the senior food and medications and do the basics needed. Then you just spend the day in another room or outside on the porch. You check in on the senior every 20 minutes — but you do not fuss over them. 
  2. Today, I gave a day back to George to check on his Alzheimer’s progress. He said he would get up and get his own breakfast of a bagel. He does this about twice a week…all other meals and snacks are given to him by me — on a tray or at the table. 
    What did George do today? He failed his day….he did not get out of bed for food or water. He did not walk or exercise, he only went from the bed to the bathroom and watched TV. I checked on him during the day, asking him to get up and do a walk and get his food…he responded that he would, but never did. I took a break from a day of being pushy and raising my voice and controlling the time frame for his care. At 5:30PM – I came into the bedroom and we chatted about his in-ability to do the tasks for the day. He did not clean up, no tooth brushing, no hair, no nothing. I think it puts the point into my mind, just where he is in his care. He is in need of an attendant at all times. He can not do for his own self any longer. Some times you need to do this test to really see what the senior can do without care. And take note on how much care you actually give to your senior each and every day 24/7. 
    How did I take care of it ? At my 5:30 check-in…I took control back and had him get up, brush his teeth…walk up and down the hall four times and then he came into the kitchen for a light supper and his evening pills. (He had not taken his morning pills, because he did not have his breakfast) We talked about this progress and he was surprised that I was unhappy. He said he could do it if he wanted, he was just tired. I know that is not true…it is just what he is now telling his own mind. But, it showed me that my husband needs me full-time. It is hard to understand that when you give care everyday; all day and all night the care giving starts to creep-up…and you don’t realize the extent of the care needed and the amount of care you give, each and every day…until you step back and take a look. 
  3. Mini-out and about breaks. I have breaks from my Georgie, when I go out to grocery shop and then take a coffee-house break before I come home. I take time to quietly garden in the back yard for 1-2 hour breaks. I take an early morning walk with my dogs, break. I leave George in the front room with the big TV and settle-in, I go into  our bedroom with a smaller old fashion TV and my computer or Kindle Fire. I take time to read, to listen to Pandora and to write notes to my friends on Twitter and FaceBook. I stay connected to my friends via Internet so I am not isolated.
  4. Taking sleep breaks. When you give care…it’s important to set a daily schedule that is yours not your senior’s time. I set the day and then I can set my own time around it. One of the things I do – is to give George a good lunch, then walk him up and down the hall…give him a bathroom break and then he settles into his chair and naps. I then force myself to lay-down.  I may just cuddle with the dogs or listen to music. But I rest, and if I sleep and take a real nap — I applaud myself. I deserve rest and getting it where ever I can, is important for me to do.
  5. I eat differently than George. I am overweight. After many years of care giving and eating poorly, I have now trained myself to eat on my own food program. When I do this I get more energy and I have a plan to my day. I eat protein and low carb. George does not. He eats a full meal with proper nutrition but not low carbs. So that means that I cook two different meals? NO, actually that is not true. I cook a meal with meat and veggies and for George I add a starch and dessert. It is a one meal deal, with two different ways to serve it. If I did not have a weekly meal plan, I would be really overweight. I make a meal plan, I have food prepared for both of us and treats for George. I stick to it and we both stay healthy and within our weight range. Eating well keeps my personal energy up and I do not get drained down.
  6. Supplement are a must! If you think you can do a job like care giving and not take extra vitamins and mineral with supplements –YOU ARE NUTS. I take so many different supplements, but they keep me strong and help me with extra energy. They keep me healthier and they help me get over any bugs that come along the way. How do you start. Make it simple…just add a good quality of multi vitamin and 2,000 units of vitamin C to keep you up and going everyday. Then do some self-study online and find supplements that will fit your personal needs. If you do this your health will stay strong. All to many spouse allow their own health to fail as they give all the love and care to their spouse…foolish. Care givers need to be the pillar of strength that the family revolves around…not fall apart and need to be given care or lose their own health and life after they lose their spouse. I am determined to live through my love for George after he makes the full journey through the end of his life.
  7. Staying on a time plan, means that I can have my own time plan. Once again; giving care to someone is not a throw the senior in front of a TV day plan. You have to decide what each day brings. If you want to be in the yard working…then you take the senior and get them situated int he shade with music and a newspaper. If you want to be on your computer you find movies to tape so they can be on demand for your senior’s viewing. If you want to bake all day…then your senior needs to be a the kitchen table with a newspaper, a project to do or a TV to watch. You bring the senior along with your daily schedule and then you both feel that life moves and changes and you get things done.
  8. Neighbors n friends that come and sit w the senior are gems. I found a couple of senior neighbors that have told me they are fine with coming over for an hour or two and watching TV or playing cards with George. That means I can take a nap, go to the store, meet my sister for a quick-lunch out. If someone says…call me I will help. CALL THEM! It takes a village is not a joke…it does take a lot people do small things to make the care givers life ‘do-able’
  9. Senior Day Care centers, senior centers, faith centers…there are various places that will take seniors for a fee, or for free for a few hours. This is a gem of a service. They understand that spouse care givers need a break…so they make different activities available for the senior. Many of the activities that George likes are usually seasonal. It helps him feel the change the season and enjoy…an egg painting class. A turkey walk or a New Years bird watch….line dancing, chair yoga…the list goes on and on. If you do not search out and find these services you will never know how the change can give your senior a boost and you an escape from the pressure of care.
  10. Rest-time-out. We use the Veterans’ system and they have a yearly service of 30 days of an ‘in-care facility’ available for each veteran with dementia. I can use it one week at a time, all at once, or on a day by day basis at a Alzheimer’s day care center. These rest-pit care services are covered by many of the insurance companies….call them and ask. Ask your primary doctor for any knowledge he has of services in your area. This is a way for me to take a full week off and maybe get out-of-town, or stay with my sister, or simply sleep well without George waking me all night. What a great gift to care givers to have this service available.
  11. IN-HOME CARE…there are so many ways to use in-home care. You can have a family member come each week to visit, you can run an ad in Craigslist or the paper and hire someone (who is trained and has a background check) to come into the home for a few hours each day, you can hire a professional bath lady, or my favorite– is a wonderful in-home care company that will come out and give you a review of what is needed and price quote. If you can not afford the whole package they suggest for you– then pick and choose what services would help you out. These service companies are bonded and licensed so you do not have to worry about their care givers coming into your home. Safety; is never to be under rated for you and your senior.
  12. When the choice to move a senior in to a facility is made…you want to really review the different choices you have in your area. Do not make any facility (no matter how great) a long drive. The family will have a hard time to visit. Now with Alzheimer’s you think a senior will forget and adjust. Trust me; memory is a strange thing…everyone needs to feel loved and attended to…even when they seem to be lost inside their head. A person needs spouse and family love….for a reason to move through their day, live for tomorrow. If you were trapped inside your own mind…would you not want your loved ones to be there and hug you and bring you treats? YES…everyone wants to be loved. So the facility needs to be close to home.
  13. Check it out. Each facility has to be checked by the state department of health. Ask the facility to show you their book. The inspector goes over things and writes it down in a book that is available to the public. You can see if they are clean and have nothing to hide. Then go to the facility in the day and the evening to just walk around and see how the seniors are being treated, fed and if the air smells clean. Ask friends and family for ideas about facilities in the area. Go online and read about the facility and see if you can find reviews. Join the family support group that the facility should provide. This way you get ideas of how to keep giving support and love to your own senior as they go through the down stages of their health.
  14. Get into your mind how the end of the life with your senior will be. Then make it so. What I mean is; If there are things that your spouse has said they want to do…make sure they do them, soon. Don’t put it off. Georgie wanted to visit his parent’s grave site…so I drove up to Seattle to make sure he had that experience and I took a picture of him by the grave stones. He looks a that picture often. I have talked to him about care and what he wants me to do as he needs more care and procedures and how he envisions his memorial.
    This is never a fun thing to do for anyone…but once it is said and done…the family can comply and keep the senior happy when the senior gets to a point that they can not express their wants or needs. You, as the spouse, have a lot of decisions to make. So when you have had this chat, you will feel your decisions are not made alone…but are made with the spirit of the senior and their desires on your mind.
  15. Dementia and other extended health fights…mean an elongated journey through grief. It may seem odd to think I am grieving and George is still sitting in the living room.  But little bits and pieces of my George die every day. Some times, I just really feel the loss. I will ask your family to understand that grief can be a long ride and to support the care giver if they are going through a hard time. I fight depression and exhaustion on a daily basis…that is what care givers do…they work through the pressures and sadness.
    One day I think I am ready to face life without George and then a week later, when I ask him to help me with some small chore and he can no longer give me that help…I will fall apart in sorrow over what seems like a small thing.  Spouse or full-time care-givers need to understand this grief. Family, friends or other health care providers…need to take note of the emotional ride that is taken when a person is in a journey to the end of their life.

Your dad is the boss of him… if he feels he has nothing left to give to your mom –take that as a sign that he is stressed and totally void of energy. Don’t try to change his mind…take a turn at full-time care and give him a week break to be with other family members and recharge. When he returns; if he still feels the same way, then it is time to add in-home care staff or move your mother to a care facility that is appropriate. I hope the ideas will help you and your dad.

I give you both a hug…for being there for your mother. Care giving is a very hard time of life. I honor anyone who does it for love of family…or as a profession. Blessings on your senior in care…may they open up and see the love that is being given to them. Francy

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Christmas Gift Ideas for Seniors


Pictures of family make a hit on Xmas Tree

Family Pictures make a hit on Xmas Trees

Ideas for Senior n Elder Christmas gifts that will be enjoyed all year-long. by Francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; What do I get mom and dad…they have everything…their house is loaded to the ceiling…and I still have to figure out something they will enjoy???? HELP!

You got it…I have ideas that will help your seniors and give them joy all year-long ;O


  1. Health…its always a shock to hear that a senior dies because they got the flu or a cold. It means their immune system was just too low to help them heal. So what if you make a difference? Gift them an Auto Ship of a quality full spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement. I like the ones that HSN features by Andrew Lessman. His ‘Complete’ vitamins would be a great start. You just ask them for the auto-ship and your gift is in the bag…and your seniors are in business with quality daily vitamins that they do not have to budget for or worry about. NICE
  2. Merry Maids…is the name of our local house cleaning service. What is your’s?  Seniors that stay in their homes need to keep the house clean…but scrubbing bathrooms and kitchens are often just not in the picture when they age. So, gifting your senior a house-clean, bi-monthly or monthly – is a dream come true for them. You tell your local maid company (that is bonded and safe to be in the home) to clean up the kitchen and baths…so you can all feel fresh, clean and safe
  3. Roof and Gutter Clean This is a great gift for seniors in their homes…a good roof clean off…gutter clean…maybe even a chimney sweep. If you want your seniors to stay in their homes…this is the one chore that will help. You and your teens could gift this to your seniors…and make a day of it. Easy, cheap and loving gift that keeps your senior without worry.
  4. New space heater They make great space heaters that are safe and work well..they can make a difference in the monthly heating bill. If seniors spend their time in one room, they can keep the main heat on low, close off the spare bedroom vents and just add extra heat in their living area. It’s a gift that will give them less stress over high winter utilities.
  5. Whirlwind decor So you plan ahead. Get a wreath, a table arrangement and a tree. I would suggest using artificial so there is no worry over needles. Get a theme going and then hit the house the weekend after Thanksgiving. Take the kids and everyone hits the floor running. Clean-up the front walk and door area and hang the wreath. Dust and vacuum the house and put up the tree, making sure there is an easy way to turn the tree-lights on and off. Clean out the dining area and put up the center table display. When you leave…the house is clean, decorated and ready for your senior to enjoy until the 2nd weekend in January when you come back and repeat the process and remove, pack in plastic bins and store the decor for next year!
  6. Senior in care center? Arrive at the care center with a yard display to put outside your senior’s window so they can see the deer or lighted tree at night. The whole center is able to enjoy your gift…then retrieve it and store it at your place for next year.(Ask first, use LED so the light bill does not go up because of your display)
  7. Monthly Fruit Delivery. NO kidding- seniors love fruit and because the price is now high…they would really enjoy a nice box of fruit each month. Do your research many on the online companies do a nice monthly fruit delivery. I personally adore the chocolate dipped strawberries…Oh My…they are so good 😉
  8. Easy stuff? Re-new the house…new throw pillows can really perk up the living room. New sleeping pillows can bring clean and fluffy dreams. New kitchen towels or easy non-stick pans or a new microwave…those can give the senior a great boost
  9. Hearing Loss? TV Ears can save the household from wearing cotton in their ears when a senior is trying to hear TV. Change the TV to ‘caption’ and buy the TV Ears. OR do as our dear friend Bob did for us…get them a good surround sound. The levels of sound allow most seniors to hear clear and able the TV to keep on a lower volume…NICE
  10. Add a senior onto your own Cell Phone family plans. A smart phone for a senior means you can have them a part of your Internet options. They can text, get pictures of family on their own FaceBook page. Add the safety of connection to 911 and you…and its a winner. Any time you give a gift that is technical in any way…take time to explain and have the senior use the features in front of you…they absorb the info in a different way then your kids…take time…make the gift easy to use.

Thank you for all you do for your seniors…know that giving time, as well as your money…is an investment that means the most. George is going to get a couple of technical gifts this year…but I will show him how to use them over and over again, because his Alzheimer’s takes the immediate memory away. His excitement and hours of enjoyment will be worth my time …..Blessings, and Happy Holidays, francy

My Georgie in 1996 w our dear Standard Schnauzer Ralph...Memories

My Georgie in 1996 w our dear Standard Schnauzer Ralph…Memories

Routine gives Alzheimer’s n Elders Good Home Care


George’s Routine -Daily exercise with me ;O

Ideas to give Elders and Dementia/Alzheimer’s seniors good care with francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; Dad moved in two months ago and stays in bed all day. What can I do to get him up and out? 

Good Care Secret? ROUTINE

Many people lose their routines when they retire or suffer a loss of a spouse or a health change. It is a normal for them to react…they just cope. So, if you are unable to get them professional care…then YOU have to be the care giver with the mostest….and that means YOU return the senior to ‘a routine’. You might remember back to when you were raising or helping others raise their children…children respond to life so much stronger with a routine in place….well…this is just like that…the more you pre-program the day with activities that are repeated…the more secure the senior feels and the more they respond in kind.

I say this with love…because it means that YOUR own life is changed…you, have to live for another and it is very challenging…trust me — I live it. But here are the rules:


  1. You will do the routine for two days and then take a break. So we have two days on and one day off. That off day means you can sleep in or do your own morning routine. 
  2. You will have an up attitude, even when you are down, sick or tired. That is what it means when you ‘give care’ You are giving not taking.
  3. You will think through a routine and write it down and then make it your own.


George hates to get up in the morning. So I do not pressure that…I allow him to rest. He has Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s so there are loads of issues for him. But what to remember is that everyday…is a new day in his mind…so it has to be a new day in my mind too.

I bring him breakfast and tell him that he has to get up in 1/2 hour and then I take note of the time. I either rest, or go and get things done in the house while he is eating and then return at the set time for him to get up. I make sure he has taken his meds then I get him up and bring him into the bathroom. Usually, he has already gone to the toilet…so I begin with him sitting on his bath bench facing out into the bathroom – or facing me standing right next to him. It is a good height and easy for him to get up and down from this sitting position.

I start him by asking him to remove his upper clothes and as he does that I go and get his clean clothes for the day. I always put out an under shirt and a thermo-shirt and then a flannel shirt or nice sweat shirt (sometimes with an added vest.) <Why so much? Seniors often have a problem with feeling cold and to keep the house temp in order…I layer his clothing>

Once he is undressed on top: I then get warm water and give him a wash cloth and he does his personal wash up, then deodorant  Twice a week we do a bath; the other days it is this procedure instead. <Many elders become worried about water and a bath is hard to get them to do…so this is a short clean, if the problem with the bath continues, then hire a bath person to come once a week and you do the clean up ea day in-between>

Then I help him dress with his undershirt, his thermo-shirt and have him stay seated.(I do not add the rest of the tops until he is done with all of his clean up and ready to exit the bathroom) Still in his sitting position: I then have him do his leg exercises that keep his calves strong. <This exercise keeps the falling down to a min. The calves are the point that helps us stay up and balanced> He will sit and lift one leg out straight and then do flex and point of his foot for a 20 count. Keeping the leg out and straight the whole time. Then we change to the other leg. I do the flex and point with a slow (one-and two- and three…so the point is on the number and the flex is on the and count– up to 20) You can do this a round of one or two…depending on how strong the legs are and if they have fallen within the last month. If so, repeat the 20 count routine on both sides.

He stays in a sitting position and we take off his socks. I let him do it and he bends down and then takes off his pajamas and his Depends…he then cleans up with a fresh wash cloth, just like we did with his torso and then sits back down. I make sure his feet are done and I help him with this so he can be steady. I then apply a moisturizer for his legs and feet and he has to rub it in. It will require him to bend over; so I stay close and hold his shoulders so he does not fall while he rubs in the moisturizer all over his lower leg & feet. If there is fungus on his toes we do the drops at this time. The skin there gets very flaky and we want it healthy, clean and moist. <This is when you notice if there are any sore spots or red spots. If so you talk to the doctor right away by phone and get guidance  Any sores on legs or feet are serious and hard to heal…get help —fast>

I then (while in a sitting position) have him put on his new Depends to the knees and add his sweatpants to his knees and then he stands and we pull them up. He sits down and we add his socks and slippers. He then gets up and goes to the sink and I have him do his shaving on his own. Then I remind him of his mouthwash, his floss and then he sits back down to do his Sonicare. Now you may or may not have a Sonicare…but I feel they have saved our teeth. They are an investment, but they do such a good job when you are unable to move your arms well to do your teeth. <Obviously if using false teeth you would have them soaking while you did the body clean and rinse and put the teeth in fresh and ready to go. You never brush false teeth they are made of material that is to be cleaned with a Polident-type of soaking once a day to keep the mouth fresh and you would  have your senior rinse their mouth with mouthwash before the teeth are put in again.>

Now he is back standing at the sink:  I have him use a wash cloth and get it very warm water and let George go over his face. Then I use a sugar scrub…it is designed for the face. Or you can use a cleanser for the face with beads in it to remove the dead skin on the face and leave it looking fresh and healthy. George moves and scrubs the scub all over his face up into his brow and hairline and his eye brows. Then he takes the hot wet wash cloth and cleans it off the scrub…rinsing and cleaning until the scrub is gone. Then he puts on Oil of Olay. <Any moisturizer is good, this one is easy for a guy to use and It is designed as a nice face moisturizer and it goes all over the skin of the face and ears and chin. it has SPF in it so the sun will be kept away from delicate facial skin and ears.  Now he is clean and ready to leave the bathroom.

I remove all his clothing that has to be washed and put it in the closet in a large clothes hamper and do a load twice a week of his clothes alone. < It is “SO-OOO” important to keep the bathroom and clothes clean, the bed linens and towels clean too! The ability to have bed sores and infections in small cuts and scraps are very high – when a person is older and their body is not as healthy as it used to be. Clean everything…be a freak…or hire it done. Its your choice.>

George then goes out to the living room. Where I have a straight back chair. I put a small pillow on the chair for his comfort and he sits down. From here he does his exercises. He will first do a stand – squat – stand and slowly sit. This is an exercise that allows his thighs and bum to learn how to sit and stand from a chair, again. I use the term stand as (solider with his straight arms down to his side – I say squat and he does and I move my arms to the front so he remembers that he has to balance his body with his arms. Then I say solider again and he goes into the straight standing position with his arms straight down to his side and then I use my voice “Slowly down” for him to sit in a slow motion….then it is repeated for at least 10 times. If we do this 4 times a week…his body responds well…if we do it less…he forgets the routine and his muscles get weak again. That is when he begins to fall and it goes down from there…

I have learned that his routine is really ‘my routine’ and the more we are able to stick to it..the better his body and muscles respond.  

From there I do arm exercises and I will do a little video for you to use if you like. I will add it in to this blog when I get it done.

After we are through I help him back into his chair and have him do 3 really deep breaths to load up his brain with oxygen. Breathing-in with the nose and out with the mouth. The is the beginning of his day…from here he rests and we do what ever our day holds. But I do this as often as I can. YES…it is a pain — NO he is not always nice to me while we do it — YES I have to push him each time — NO he does not remember the exercises or the toilet routine —YES it does make a difference in the quality of his day forward.

It’s a routine that takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes because he is slow. But it sets the tone for a full day of healthy, happier emotions and the attention makes him feel wanted and I always give him a full cheer-leading routine as he is going through is paces.

I know you can do it. It would be done like this at a professional care facility…so I think doing it at home makes the ability of the senior to stay in good health and strong all the longer. I feel that Alzheimer’s is going to take over George…but we can hold it off by keeping him fit and clean and happy in his day

Blessings on all that you do each day for your senior. Francy

How to enjoy being a Senior and still think YOUNG!


Enjoy being a senior and still feeling and thinking YOUNG! by francy Dickinson

George and I taking a coffee break at our local Black Bear Yogurt n Coffee shop..reading newspapers to keep current

Dear Francy; My husband is requiring more and more of my time to care for him…I feel like I am aging by the minute…can you help with some tips…to keep me at least “feeling” a bit younger at heart?


OH boy, do I relate to you and your feelings that you would like to keep in shape and keep feeling young–even when your lifestyle is pulling down and getting closer to home…here are some ideas to give you a kick-start on youth ;O

Body Shape: For all too many reasons all of us tend to spread as we age. When I started to care for my mother in my early fifties, I started making really bad eating choices. I had little time and I would eat standing up, on the run. I gained a lot of weight and now I am trying hard to slim down to a healthy weight again. Either the Weight Watcher’s plan or the low carb (Atkins style) will be your best bet. The key is that you have a plan that can work with what your husband is eating. I do Atkins and I simply add potato or rice to his meals and then we eat the meat and veggie. He gets the desserts and I get the de-caf tea. It is not that hard. I am now addicted to the Atkins’s Shakes each morning when I take my supplements- it gets me up and going with a kick. Then I move…I started just walking around the house making sure I take 1,000 steps ( I used a pedometer) and keep on going. If you find that difficult, you can do exercise sitting in a chair with the PBS ‘Sit and Be Fit’ program. Remember any taped exercise program can be found at your local library and enjoyed in the privacy of your own home.

All seniors should enjoy a pedicure instead of a trip to a foot doctor for nail cutting

Feet! When you hit mid-fifties many of us start having feet problems. The padding on your feet starts to change and the actual muscle and bone starts to ache. We have a wonderful solution…you do not have to go and get expensive shoes from a doctor…you can buy gel insoles and enjoy your favorite shoes with cushion from the pain. I love my insoles and wear them, even inside my house slippers. You will find many different ones at the drug store, give a couple of types a try. I use the ones that support the arch and heal, they have made such a difference. No more ache or pain. Here is the perfect cream to keep your feet feeling soft Jergens Crème in Deep-Conditioning Oatmeal, $6 (in Drugstores)

Nails  Always hard to believe when you are young that you will get so sore that your toe nails will be hard to cut and keep short. Instead of going to a podiatrist every few months. Go and get a good pedicure from a Nail Shop. This process is so relaxing, they soak your feet…cut your nails with precision, then they massage your feet, ankles and calves…OH, it is heaven. You can add a color polish or just have them natural. They will remove the callous and they will check for any problems with your skin. This is just what you need every 5-8 weeks you go to a local Nail Shop and get pampered, male or female…you will enjoy it. Price is from $15-$20 with a $5 tip. Well worth the investment in your feet. Do not worry if you have fungus, they will have clean ways to deal with it and will offer ideas for you to find help with the condition…don’t be embarrassed about your feet. Just let them take over, its their job and they raise their families on their income…so spread your money around to a local nail shop and give them a nice tip. I always take in a big coffee or tea drink for myself and I have my earphones on and listen to my favorite music as I soak, massage and relax!!

FACE: Even if you rarely go out the door…or if you are out and about every day…your face needs help to stay looking and feeling good. Try a daily cleanser that will defoliate your skin and leave you looking younger with just a good daily wash cloth. Aveeno Cleanser daily with beads – Called: Positively Ageless Beauty Cleanser $8.99 (in Drugstores)  Then you want to moisturize your skin…now you can go for expensive products but an easy one to begin to wear every day…with or without makeup that has SPF15 for sun protection & a little wrinkle fighting too: L’Oreal Paris Youth Code BB Cream, $17 (in Drugstores) lasts a very long time and this is perfect with or without makeup.

A different style is easy to do and will make a huge change in how young you can look, no matter what your age

HAIR: Lots of people tend to lose hair as they age. It can be upsetting. So what to do? First you can use products that help you voluminize what you have like Aussie Aussome Volume shampoos and conditioners. These products plump up your hair and they smell great. $3.25 ea (in Drugstores)
Then you can change your hair style. Men may want to cut their hair shorter and woman may want to do a different hair cut that will fluff the hair. Remember getting your hair reversed color…so the gray is toned down a bit will help you look and feel younger. Beauty schools have great prices and your hair color is done every two months. You can go one month for a cut and the next month for a cut and color…it makes you feel so good to look fresh and up to date with your hair.

Quacker Factory featured on

Fashion: Something new with fashion is in your future 😉  If you are not going out much and you have changed your pattern in life. Its time to update what you wear. You want to make sure you get new clothes each year. A few pieces in the Spring and few pieces in the fall will let you feel “in fashion’. Comfort can be the new ‘Yoga Pants’ that are so comfy and yet, updated. Nice casual tee tops with fun designs like you find in Jean Brice’s – ‘Quacker Factory’ found on Comfort and fun…now that is fashion that we all love. And the prices are great too. The men need to think about how often they go to the bathroom. After years of shirts, ties, jackets and slacks; my Georgie is now happily wearing easy pull up sweat pants and nice warm tops from Walmart. I keep them fresh and get new ones each year. When we go out of the house he wears chinos pants and warm jackets…but in the house, its comfort, but with a nice palette of colors and warmth. Every season there is something that you can buy to express the current fashions…I love the very long scarves…I have a couple of new ones to wear over my coat or sweaters and it makes me feel ‘Updated’ without a big investment or change in the rest of my clothing.

Music n TV  You know it helps to really take notice of daily talk shows or night-time talk shows. Even if you only watch them once a week, they usually have the latest stars, bands, and fashion as well as current talking points. You may not agree with the guests, but you will keep updated with current thoughts and styles and we all need to keep in the here and now…no matter what our age.

Stay updated and tuned into new ideas and people!

Computers and Cell phones: I have talked to all too many seniors that simply refuse to be a part of the computer changes in the world. They all have fancy words to tell me how silly technical life is and they are perfectly fine without it. Well that is ‘old biddy’ talk of old people. We all need to keep current. I remember when the microwaves came out how many people said they would never get one. My mother was the first out the door, she thought anything that made cooking faster…was GREAT!  Please; the world changes and anyone alive needs to figure out how to be a part of that change. NO you do not have to buy every gadget, but YES you do need to be online and learn how to shop and pay bills.

I remember when my mother would go to the bank get cash and then walk to the drug store and pay her utility bills in the 1950′ and 60’s and then she would walk all the way home. Hello! Now, we all go online and pay our bills, buy products and get lower prices — do not tell me it is not worth your time to save money! The Internet also has a wonderful service to all product sites, REVIEWS. You can go and look up an item and there will be 10 to 100’s of reviews about that product. Before your money is spent; you can read what other people have experienced after they purchased the product. Wow, this alone has changed the way I shop…I no longer get a product and get disappointed…I know ahead what it will do. If I don’t like something that I buy online or if it does not fit–I can easily return it.  Like the slippers I ordered for George from Land’s End. I just call them and they are sent back (free shipping) and the new size is sent out to me…1-2-3! If you are afraid to learn new things…then buckle yourself up and do it anyway. All senior centers have computer classes and classes in how to use the new tablets and smart cell phones. You can learn and you can join the world of fun.

Age does not stop us from learning or growing…stay in the now. Even if you are in your home more than out and about, these days. Learn new things, talk about the daily news…do not worry about reading newspapers, you can get your world-wide news from the Internet and cable networks…you can SKYPE your grand kids and be a part of their weekly activities. You can exchange pictures of your friends and family via the Internet and you can chat up long-lost friends through Facebook or Twitter. Things that may be overwhelming today, will be fun and bring you joy…tomorrow.

Kindle Fire for reading books n Internet Connection

CHANGE  Keep up your love and caring for your hubbie…but don’t you dare stop searching for new ideas, new products and new ways of enjoying your own life and feel young and in the know. My new thing is a KINDLE/Fire. It is a small touch pad that has books loaded on it for me to read. As I sit with Georgie, spend hours waiting in doctor offices and hospital rooms or long nights without sleep…I can click on my Kindle and check my messages from friends and family…and then just sit and enjoy my book (hundreds of them) right in my hand.Not to mention I can adjust the font size, if I am tired…I up the font so I can see it easier – LOVE THAT.  Kindle has free books to download every day and I have enjoyed that feature so much. I’m a mystery cozy nut…so the more the better. I did not think I needed anything like this Kindle. I am a long time book lover and reader and I always used the library. But then a friend gave me the Kindle/Fire as a gift and now….I am hooked! Its fun, easy and I just had to take a little time to get to know how to use it. Now, I don’t leave the house without it.

Finding fun…is a senior’s job in life. We all have daily challenges  but we have so many more things at our fingertips to keep us involved and interested for a very small amount of money. Life is good…and for all of us that give care to our seniors…life can and will have joy if you just keep moving forward with your own life.

Thank you for all you do for your senior…Blessings, francy

Dealing with a Life Crisis n Alzheimer’s Too! HELP!


How to get through a life crisis and still give care to an Alzheimer’s senior…by francy Dickinson

My Georgie with his great grand daughter, Claire and little Missy

Dear Francy; My mother died 3 months ago and I have a very big problem. My dad has early stages of Alzheimer’s and his emotions and memory loss have blown-up since mother has passed. I am a single mom of three and have no place or money to keep dad and my brother’s wife does not want him in her home. He has his home, paid for and he makes a small income each month, but his life is going down fast and I don’t know how to help him?

Friends are doing a big Auction with lots of items to help us in our move…TY francy
Auction 2 help 

Yes, we have some work to do. First, let’s just have a quick review of the brain for Alzheimer’s from a lay-person. Any person, with any kind of a jolt to their lives is going to have a loss of brain power. If you have a bad fever, a fall, a big argument or a death within your close circle of loved ones – the brain takes a hit. A person that is younger and has full function of their brain, will grow back the brain functions over a short period of time…and although they may feel a little loopy or tired, or experience some feelings of being ‘out of focus’, the repair takes place and the brain will once again function. For a person that is older the brain repair is on ‘slow’, and it will take a few months time to recover all of the brain functions up to par and then move forward. For a person with dementia/Alzheimer’s it really sets them into a ‘swim of things’ and takes a great deal of time for the brain to even  ‘try’ to recover.

Auction 2 help I experienced this early in the Alzheimer’s process with my husband, George. He had pneumonia and it was not diagnosed. So he went in and out of hospital within a one month time frame losing his body’s ability to fight the infection and finally just having a mental check-out. When they found out his problem and gave him medications he was able to  return home from hospital…it took another six months for his mind/brain to recover. Even after that time, he never came back like he was before the onset of pneumonia…it put a quicker movement into his Alzheimer’s decline and it was such a sad thing to have happen.

It took a long talk with George’s neurologist to get an understanding of what was happening to him. So, you need to know that even on a good day of your dad’s Alzheimer’s he is not functioning like he would…he is grieving both the loss of his wife, life partner and friend. He is in the midst of that and that pressure is going to cause him to express his own thoughts in a confused way.

As always; a trip to his neurologist that specializes in Alzheimer’s care should be done right away. The doctors that give this care specialty are very savvy and will be able to help you understand where your dad stands in his Alzheimer’s progression. He can adjust his medications and help him with diets, exercise and social interaction suggestions for you to follow.

I would suggest that you try to keep him in his own home. He can not be alone and be safe…so my suggestion is that you either hire someone to come in during the day to keep him eating and moving and establishing his own routine again. Or you get someone to come in and live, in the house. This is a very common thing to do in the senior care field. You could find an adult student that needs a place to live and is willing to provide simple services for your dad; in return for free rent and food.

Or you could go into the community and look for another senior that would like to be in the home. I would go to the nearest senior community center or faith facility and ask if they know of a senior that needs a place to live and would be open to giving your dad his meals and making sure he takes his medications and gets to his doctor appointments. To be there for him so he can have six months to a year to move through his grieving and re-establish his life. It is worth your time to find just the right person. That will give you and your dad time to adjust and then face a move into an Adult Family Home.

I like the Adult Family Home…they are usually a house that has a few bedrooms that have other folks with Alzheimer’s in each room. The owner is a trained health care professional and provides a more family type of atmosphere for the patients. This place may be their forever home, or a place to stay for a few years and then transition into a care center that will provide more advanced care.

What I like about the live-in help is way to give you and your brother  time to heal and adjust to the huge change in your family dynamics. You can both stay close to keep an eye on things and still afford his care by exchanging a place for the person to live and eat…in turn for their time giving attention and ‘light’ care to your dad. Usually the house work is left to you or an outside person to do once a month. Then, when your dad has the time to repair from his grief and adjust to his mental loss…it will be time to give him more care and protection with an Adult Family Care Facility.

You can hire daily in-home care that is done by professional services…or you can go the private live-in help, which will give you less trained people. If you do this, you will have to set the rules and outline the chores to be done each day to help your dad.

The professional in-home services have their routines all down on paper. The company comes in and does an assessment and then puts a plan of care together with you. It is a very well run organization, but it is pricey. You can often set your budget and then pick and choose the care services he needs the most. The care that is given from the service is bonded and done according to a pre-agreed on program of care.

The private hiring of an in-home resident can also be very pleasing for all around, if they are interviewed and required to provide a reference and any one younger would have a drug test. That way you can know your dad is safe. The point here is – your dad can no longer live safely on his own. He needs to be cared for and if you can not do it…you will have to get someone to step-in. Keeping your dad in a stable situation is what will allow him to extend his mental abilities as long as possible without a big drop in his functions. If you allow him to just be on his own, and he is unable to remember his medications, eat well or interact or exercise…he will be in a downward spiral that will not be able to be repaired. His mind is not going to heal it will only go downhill…so this is a have to keep him as calm and comforted as you can — as soon as you can…or he will take a dip.

The sale of your father’s home will pay for care in an Adult Family home…so I would keep that in your mind. As you go forward this next year…be sure to make improvements to his home to get it ready to sell in the near future. You can lay out the landscaping so it can be taken care of with bark and a lawn mowing. If your brother goes over a couple times a month to mow the lawn it will look tidy. The inside of the house will need new paint and cleaning and maybe updates to small things to give the house a good sale position on the market. It is best to do a little of this prep work each month…so the expenses can be budgeted during the year. Then when the time comes that your dad is in need of more care, the sale of the house will go easier.

You do need to take over his doctor visits. You need to be in the office with your dad to hear the doctors and understand the medications, food and exercise needed to keep your dad’s brain functioning at its peak performance. That performance will be a slow dip but good care can keep your dad in a bubble of calm and love for a long time.

Once again, if you can not do any care for him…then an Adult Family Home from day one is your goal. But I think with the help of you and your brother, hiring a service or a live-in help would be the best answer. This could keep your dad in his home and allow him to adjust to a new type of life for a year or so…then as he changes his routine’s a move into an Adult Family Home would be easier for him to make and not cause him a total melt down.

I understand the upset that a big change can make to an Alzheimer’s senior. We have to move out of our family home. We have lost it and will need to find a new place to live. I am really trying hard to absorb all the sadness and fuss myself…to keep my husband in a protected bubble. My husband’s Alzheimer’s is moving ahead and I do not want him to go into a severe decline over the move. So, this is a very hard time on me. I am asking friends to help and making plans to keep him calm and protected with a family member during the move. It takes a lot of planning to keep the pressures away from my husband, but in the end…we will be in a new place and he will have his things around him and he will feel safe.

I appreciate all you are doing for your dad…I know how hard it is to make these decisions for your parent. It’s an odd thing to be a child/daughter one day and a comforting care giving daughter the next. You have my appreciation for your love and time that you are giving to your dad. I understand that being a single parent on top of it all…is quite the undertaking…but you can do it! Blessings, francy