Senior is Ready for a Move, Yeah!

Dear Francy; Mother just told me she was ready to sell the house and move. She is on such a budget that she wants out. I live out of town and she wants me to do the house move. Now what?

OK, a couple of things to note. Do not say, no…just tell her you need to budget your time. You will give her every other weekend for the next two months and then the house will go up for sale. She has to get her name on a listing for a new home and tell them she will actually be ready to move in 90 days. Yes, the house may not be sold, but she will be tucked in her new place and on her way to her new life. Make the time frame larger if you like, but set a time frame.

Keep these ideas on your list:

*  There are companies, usually run by women – that actually take the things that you do not want to move and sort through them for sale and for donation. So that means that you can sort over your mother’s things and have a keep, give and dump pile and stick to it.
* Do not try to have a garage sale. If you find things that have real value, put them on eBay and enjoy the proceeds or gift them to family.
* Take a young person with you each weekend. If you have a teen great, if not – take a teen you know who wants to earn some money. $20 dollars a day is $40 a weekend and add $10 to make it fifty as a bonus- if they do a great job. You need to have a younger back and someone to diffuse the emotions that come with a big move out of the family home.
*  Your mother will want everything given to family. Family will not want hardly anything from her. So, prepare her. for If you need to just tell your niece to take the item and drop it off at the thrift store, do so. You don’t want your mom to think her life of things has no value.  
* Get in mind where your mother is moving and only take the things she needs. No way is she going to rent a storage locker. That is not in the plan. She takes what she needs and will fit into the next part of her life, the rest is given, sold or dumped.
* Do not allow her to take your Dad’s tools or your Dad’s lawn mower, even if he loved it. She has to keep on plan. If she is insisting, then put it in a pile, of Think if Overs after a few weeks of sorting she will gladly go back to the pile and give it all away. Things just have to be processed through.
*  No towels can go, no old sheets and blankets can go, no clothes from the ’80-’90’s are on the go pile. All of her clothes to take have to be re-washed or cleaned for the move. Buy new hangers for them. Go ahead and get the Huggable Hangers from HSN, the whole world loves those hangers and they allow for more clothes per foot of hanging space.
*  Downsize her bed to a Queen or Double size and be prepared for a good mattress. Then when she gets to her new place, new towels and bed linens can be purchased so she feels all new.
*  Take all of the family pictures and give the job of scanning them into digital format to a younger family member and pay them for the process. What you can then do is put her favorites in a couple of the new pictures frames that load up with digital pictures and have a rotating feature so she can view them all! All the rest get saved on drives that the family can enjoy, too!
* Do not take dishes that are old and pans that she got for her wedding. There are newer things that she can buy that will fit a smaller home or apartment. Just because it still works, does not mean she keeps it. She needs to have a fresh start.
* All the tools for the garden should be given to a garden club or local pea patch. All the workshop tools should go to a charity. All the old computers can be donated without the hard drives.
*  Have her pick out about six pieces of art work for the walls of her new place and the rest goes to he sorting piles. Have her pick out one box of books that she loves, the rest goes to the sorting pile. Have her decide if she really wants to do the hobby she always wanted, has she done anything on the hobby since she retired? If not…off it goes to the sorting pile.
*  The quicker you sort and go through the house the easier it is for her. Start with the rooms she does not use often, then come down to the last four, living, kitchen, bedroom and bath. Those stay to the end, they will be the hardest ones for her.
*  Keep telling her how well she is doing. With every thing she puts in the sorting pile, say – “Yeah, good job mom!” and mean it. This move is the hardest thing she will have done in ages. Do not push her over items. They just go into the “Wait and see”
* Get an air cleaner, sorting can cause lots of dust. Save the paperwork and office stuff till the end. She only needs tax info for a few years depending on her situation. Ask her CPA for a time frame for keeping her files.
*  When she gets a new place in her mind, the furniture and other things she wants to take will be so much easier. Get her a picture of where she is going. Start to look and get on the waiting list in the retirement center, apartments, village or center.
*  Take only a couple of coats. Raincoat, shopping coat, winter coat. Take only shoes that will fit her “now” lifestyle. Take only purses she uses and jewelry she wears. All the rest are gifted to the family members.
*  Bank boxes need to be sorted and closed if there is nothing important in them, or relocated closer to you or her new home.
*  Have her gift her old TVs and buy a new flat screen one to fit her new home. Records, Cd’s and anything else in that vein should be given away unless she really uses them. You can buy her a small MP3 player and put her favorite tunes on the player for her to have and enjoy and the actual original can be given away.
*  Get her a laptop and a small printer and have her get used to using the Internet and simple tasks online. So she can enjoy time on her own, looking up recipes and keeping in touch with family. Keep her in the NOW not in the past.
*  Her garden furniture can be placed in the driveway with FREE signs on it and the neighbors will enjoy using them. The plants she enjoys can be gifted to families for their yards with little notes of where to plant them and where she got them.
*  Have her write notes on family pieces like jewelry, art, object of art and so on, telling a story of where it came from and when so they can enjoy the history of the family as well as the object.
*  Keep a small recorder with you and while she goes through things, she can tell you about their history and you can just record the conversation. This is a good way for her to work out her pain of leaving years of living behind her.
*  Mentally moving is hard and you need to encourage her to keep going, keep her eye on the goal of a smaller home all clean with new things and her favorite older things all happy together. Encourage her to move closer to you so you can care for her in the years to come. Give her memories of the move by taking pics on your cell phone and sending them to your family. She will get a kick out of the whole adventure.
NO moving is not fun. NO she is not going to be a nice person to be around. YES, you can do this if you take it easy, stick to it like a job over a period of a couple of months or less and then be strong. Your upbeat personality will make the move so much easier for your mom. When in doubt just laugh. Laughing and teasing will get you farther than arguments. So smile and get this done. New changes are always for the best…old times were great but today is the important day. She gets to spend lots of days with her daughter in the process and that will be her best gift from the move.
Thank you for giving your mom your love and time. Even if you do not give it with the biggest open heart. You are still giving it. Tell your family, this too will past. Get in the car and go for it girl!
Please do stop by my website www.seniorcarewithspirit.com and review all the other tips I have there. Remember if your mother needs special care I have a FREE Senior Care Placement Service that will review the situation and find a place where she can be cared for with kindness. PS just finished my Care Givers Workbook 101…it is a great review to help you will the steps of care in the future with your mom!
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How To Take a Break from Senior Care

by francy Dickinson         www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; I am simply too tired to face my dad this morning. I am sitting and doing computer stuff trying to ignore the morning things I have to do for him. I feel so down-

Ok, down is just what you need to feel. I remember starting to hate the sound of the door bell – that mother used to call me when she needed me downstairs. It’s a very, very normal way to feel. You give and give and one day, you feel like you have nothing left to give.

Think of ways to break the cycle. How about a week off? Did you know that you can take your elder care parent and put them in a care center for a week of care? Yes, this is just a great service and it needs your time to make a few calls and find a place close by. The money will come from him, some times the insurance or veteran’s plan pays – other times your dad will have to pay through his income. It is just a week and they have special rates.

They will take your dad and give him care all week, he will get out and around others and have a different view of the world. You will take a break and just sleep in, or go away to visit a friend or family member. You can even borrow a weekend beach cabin of a friend.

You can tell everyone you are away and just be quiet and sleep. Or you can go out with friends and reconnect. You can rent movies and do Yoga, or you can go out to eat and shop. A break is a break.

If you are working, you can just go home and be quiet at night instead of all the extra work. If you have children, you can make sure they are busy all that week with visits to friend’s houses or watching movies. If you have a spouse you can go out and spend some time together. What ever you want, you do so you can feel like you went on a cruise, not that you worked around the house or garden to get caught up. That is not on the plans for the week, you need change for your own good, not more work.

If you cannot do the care week with your dad, you can call a relative and ask them to come and visit and give you a break. If I get snowed under with things, I call my husband’s sister to come and visit and she has been very kind about coming up from Oregon and giving him some attention away from me. George has a few friends that come over to visit him and that removes me from the care for a few hours too.

Do not be afraid to ask for help! Everyone understands your tied down with the extra care of a parent that needs lots of attention. But do they need lots of attention? My husband will do what I call, take to his bed. He simply sleeps all day and then I have to make sure he has food and medications. I let him do this for a day, but then I push him to get up and do a chore for me (even though the chores are often not done, it is a reason to get up) and I have him sit in the living room. I ask him to make my tea or make me a peanut butter sandwich. He does and he stays busy and I can get my writing done. Some times you need to be creative with things for the senior to do. Even if they do not cook, making peanut butter sandwiches, or microwave leftovers or set the table or mow the lawn…can give them a feeling of being needed that will increase their Independence from you.

Men tend to push our buttons and need more care than women. So, do not fall for the I can not move, I need a treat moan. Tell them there are brownies on the top of the stove ready for him to cut and you would appreciate one with a glass of milk. Then you have to walk away. He will think it over and soon the lure of brownies will draw him into the kitchen and he will make an effort to care for you.

 After all, you’re still his little girl. Don’t forget to act like one every once in a while, so you can keep him active and moving and doing things that help the family as a whole.

Thank you for all you do for your dad – I hope you can think up ideas for vacations of the mind as well as the body. For a day off here, a few hours there and a week of respite for you both.  Please visit my website and review more tips for care www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Remember if you need to place your father in a care center I have a free service that will help you find just the right place for him. You can find the information on the website.

Thank you, francy

Develop Your Psychic Abilities for Senior Caregiving

by francy Dickinson                   www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; My parent’s home is so quiet when I visit. They have the TV on mute and just watch the screen, they rarely talk and visiting them is really kind of creepy. I think there’s something wrong but I cannot put my finger on it. Any suggestions.

Yes, you are doing a great job with your assisted living care. This is the type of thing we all need to do. Be alert to changes and even if the changes are not alarming, they signal different things.

I called our neurologist this morning and left him a message on a change in my husband’s behavior with Alzheimer’s. I want the doctor to know, so he can up his meds or make a change. The change in my husband, is light, but it caught my attention so I am reporting it. My husband is replacing his words, that means he is not remembering some of his speaking vocabulary. He is also saying “I’m sorry” all the time. That means that he’s upset at his behavior and that could be a depression issue. I just report these things and the doctor then takes the steps to change medication if he feels it’s important enough.

So, you found the house too quiet. This is really a normal thing with those that are hard of hearing. They do not like to wear their hearing aids at home. ( I know it does not make sense but they all do this behavior) They say all the noise is just too distracting for them. It’s like not wearing their glasses and then they stop reading.

I understand the TV on mute with the words running across the bottom of the screen. But I would ask them to have it on low, having background noise is what keeps our brains working well. Not hearing words will change their speaking pattern so get them to go a head and have the noise in the background.

Make sure you call each day once or twice and talk to both of your parents. Many times the woman talks and man starts to get quiet. Then make sure they have at least a once a week outing to be around others. The senior center will have something that will catch their interest, or their faith center. They do not have to go to church on Sunday and be around all those people, but they can go to church during the week to a class of 20 or less, or a functions like a dinner and just enjoy the event. Take them out shopping or out to a dinner (even if its at a burger joint) get them out of the house and chatting with you.

Another good thing is to have a local young person come in to do chores. You could have kids to do the lawn or light weeding and have your dad be in charge of watching over him. You could have a young teen girl clean the kitchen or bathrooms only and your mom would supervise. Remember to choose those young workers with care, you do not want to have your parent’s things taken or a friend of theirs come to the house to rob them. Always talk to the parents first and find out if they have done chores before and if the parents will oversee their time with your parents.

If there is no one to interact with, you will find seniors pulling away from life and finding comfort in their own silence. Your job is to think of a few ways to shake the comfort up and return your parents to a more mentally and emotionally active life. Visits to the local library is great too, even if they just read the magazines, it will give them a nice outing to think and talk over

Ask them to take a walk together everyday. That may be hard for one or the other, but together they can walk around their neighborhood, over to the mail or around the block. You simply ask each of them privately and tell them the other spouse needs the outing and exercise. They may not do it for their own good, but they will do it for their loved ones good.

If they can do it, add a pet to the home, or have your children come over when you visit to add spice to the mix. Even if they complain the kids are too loud, don’t take notice. Life is too loud, they have to get back in it to remember how busy and loud the real world is for us all.

There are also charities that need help. If your mother does sewing or handiwork of any kind there are charities that need throws and quilts. If she likes to bake – your local Ronald McDonald House (family housing for hospital support) or Fisher House (military family quarters) would love home baked cookies. So would the firemen at the local firehouse. If your dad does chores, ask him to go over and get him hooked into a charity that needs their door’s oiled and the faucet drip fixed. Or if he likes to play chess, cards or pool, the local veterans’ home will enjoy his visiting energy for those that can not leave their rooms. Charity and community service is to be done all of our lives, not stop at retirement.

Just keeping your ear and eyes open. Listening to your heart and knowing when there’s a change. Then respond with a thought of what that change is and how you could use your creativity to make the change for the good not the bad. One step back can be turned around to two steps forward if you trust your inner voice and act on your “psychic” or “intuition” of how to give care to your parents.

Good job on your part and I hope you will visit my website and read about the many tips and ideas I have there.  www.seniorcarewithspirit.com  Remember if your parents need more assisted living needs and have to move out of their home, call me. I have a FREE Senior Placement Service that will help you find just the right match for your seniors needs.

Thank you , francy

Cats for Good Elder Health & Care!

by francy Dickinson    www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; Mother lost her dog over a year ago, she misses it so, but her health is keeping her from taking on a new dog. Should I push a new dog or not?

I am so into this – my mother had her dog with her until it passed (at 19) a few months before she did (at 100). So, I totally understand the connection for a senior and I think its vital to have relationships and responsibilities for seniors of all age and abilities.

A dog needs attention and a daily routine. That means that the senior can give them loads of loving and it keeps both the senior and the dog on schedule to feed, pet, groom and exercise.

So, if there is an enclosed yard -right off your seniors living area that they can release the dog for them to go potty and get some run-around time, yeah. If the senior is still able to walk to the mailbox and can take the dog with them, yeah. If the senior can reach down and fill the water bowl and feed the dog, yeah. Then go ahead and encourage them to get another dog.

There is never a replacement for a pet that we have had for years, that’s a loss that will be carried for a very long time. But giving an older dog, that’s on the small side, a new life with a senior – is such a blessing for them both.

Good news, there are lots of senior programs that give money towards or waive the adoption fee at local shelters. Check them out with the larger dog food companies and call your shelter and ask them if they have a program for seniors. Our shelter has a person that will handle the adoption. She takes down the seniors needs and abilities and then she starts to look for a dog. When she finds one she calls and you can then go and visit. You will find this service really helpful. She will get a dog that may not be able to adopt into a younger family, it maybe older itself and has come from a senior that could no longer keep it. So the matching is important and all you have to do is some homework and get the ball going, there are so many people in the adopt a pet world that want to place animals to good homes. Allow those professional to suggest what’s best for the senior. Even though a life time of larger dogs has been enjoyed, it might be time for a small dog that takes up less room, less food and spends more quality time on the lap or sitting next to the senior.

You can also go online and actually look at the pet. Most shelters have pictures of all their pets and it’s really enjoyable to take a look. My mother wanted a very small dog and she loved schnauzers so it took us about six months to find one. We had to drive to a nearby town to adopt it, but it was a perfect match. She enjoyed that dog for over 10 years and the dog was older when we adopted it. About one year before mother moved in with us, she shared with me that I would have to take the dog to my home. She was having problems getting it outside on time and it was doing it’s business in the house. Her little dog stayed with me and visited her often and then was re-united when mother came to live with us. It was a nice trade off.

Do not worry about the animal when your mother is unable to care for it any longer.The shelter will simply help to re-adopt it out and/or you or one of your family may take it in for the few years it will have to live. Dogs and cats really do re-adjust to a new owner, just like us it takes them a while, but living in a loving home is what they need.

Now, what happens if the senior is unable to do all the running around that is required for a dog. Well, this is when an older cat walks in the door and takes over your seniors heart! Even if your senior has not been a cat person, this is the time to get a cat in the house and find out how enjoyable they can be for seniors. First, you do the same thing as you did with the dog adoption. You call or visit your local shelter and tell them what is needed, tell them about your family member and what their restrictions are and they can find a cat that will adapt to those restrictions.

Make up your mind that the cat will be an indoor cat, that’s older – those are the ones that have trouble with adoption. So the match is so much sweeter when the senior knows they have saved a pet, not just gained a pal. Hopefully the shelter has a senior program for reduced or free placement of cats and you can go online and look up cats just as easy as you can dogs. I like the Short haired American cats that do not have that long hair, so the house does not need to be cleaned so often. The shelter will tell you if a male or female is best for the senior and then take them home.

Make sure you have a good cat box. You can get cat boxes that clean on thier own, or you can buy “scoop” cat litter that has ordor reducers in the mix. Since the senior may not be able to clean the litter, you will have to have it set up to be cleaned every two or three days when you or another family member comes to visit. Put up a reminder in the kitchen to all visitors, asking them to please clean the litter box if they are visiting. Most folks find this just a task to do, so do not worry about handing it over to a visitor. Or, a younger person in the neighborhood would gladly do the cleaning for $5 a week. It is up to you how to handle it. But this is really the only issue that has to be discussed because unlike dogs – cat take care of their own needs.

The food is easy. You buy dry food designed for the indoor cat. You will find that it is wise to buy a container for the food at the get-go. In the pet stores you will find a tall plastic container on wheels with a good lid and you can pour the food into the container and the lid snaps down. This way if the container has to be on a porch you are not alerting rodents or others to eat the cat food out of the bag and the senior does not have to lift the big bag to fill the dish. They just scoop the food out of the rolling container into a container that is large enough to hold a few days of dry food and will fit into the cupboard. The feeding time is easy to do.

I like to buy the smaller cat food cans and give my cats 1/2 a can of food with some warm water every other day. This will keep the cat drinking plenty of water and that’s what they are to do if they are in doors all the time. Water does need to be fresh each day, but the senior can keep the water and the dry food dish up on a counter that is not used by food preparation. That way it’s easy for the senior to keep the water and food filled.

No other food can be given to a cat, no people food is allowed and the cat will adjust their own eating pattern to what their body needs.

A good bed is required and I always have a couple of those. Every room needs a place for a cat to sleep. You can find sheepskin type fabric at the pet store. It comes in a large roll. You just cut it in half and put the fabric on the back of the couch by a window or on a foot stool and the cat will find their way to curl up and enjoy it.

I like to get cats that live alone toys. Little balls and small mice like toys filled with catnip will keep them busy and the senior will enjoy their chasing the toys around the room. There are long feathered toys that he senior keeps by their chair and flips at the cat for the all important chase time.

The scratching post is a must. I would suggest the larger posts if you can afford it. If not, you’ll find a corrugated paper one that can be placed on the floor and sprinkled with catnip. I use catnip on my scratching post, all the time, to entice the cat to use the post, not my furniture and to play.

Furniture does not have to be ruined. Cats can be trained. I roll up a newspaper and when a cat starts to claw the furniture I hiss out loud and hit the newspaper roll on my chair arm. The noise will ward off the cat and the behavior is soon out of their routine. But you do need a place to scratch so do not forget those posts. Deterring sprays can be purchased too. But in all my years of cats and dogs, my furniture has never been a target, I simply stay on the cat until they understand that is not a good idea. A spray bottle of water can be used if the senior can not move around easily.

Cats will take about two weeks to settle into a pattern. You will never have to worry, if you just talk to them in a calm tone, and look at them when you are talking they will soon understand the kindness and respond. They will be on your lap or close to you…or they will just come and visit you when they want petting. Either way, it will adjust to the senior and the cats needs, I have never seen it fail.

A presence in a home of a pet is so important. A senior has had a life full of children, spouse, family, friends, work friends and neighbors. As they age the house becomes quieter and people pass in and out of their lives. Loneliness is a huge reason for unwanted illness and depression. Just to have a companion makes such a difference.

I have my cat sitting in front of my computer screen bathing herself as I write, so I know the quiet sweetness they give to people.

Remember, even though the senior may feel like they are too old to have another pet. No one is too old for love, too old for a cat to curl up on their lap or a dog to give them a hug. This is how a senior stays attached to life, they need interaction. Pets will help with that and finding one that is just right for your senior is a task I would hand over to the professionals at the pet adoption center. Maybe it will be a bird or a tank of fish – the senior can find things to care for and interact with that will add to their quality of life.

Thank you for lifting the care of your mother to a place that has more than three meals and a safe home, but a home filled with love. Please visit my web site www.seniorcarewithspirit.comand get more information on topics and remember that if you need to find a special home that will provide a more assisted living contact me. I have a FREE service that places seniors in care facilities of all kinds depending on the seniors needs. I take the worry and work out of a difficult decision.

Thank you, francy

Red Carpet Treatment for Seniors in Care

by francy Dickinson        www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; My parents downsized to a small home, they’re both health challenged and they have no money to go anywhere! How can I bring more smiles to their lives?

Perfect day for smiles when we are talking about Awards time on TV, the top Dog Shows are in the spring, Derby Day will come in May and then Tiger Woods is back on the links, again. There are always special movies, special events and something fun to watch or be involved in – you just have to make it special.

Bring you or your family over to their place with pizza and popcorn and watch the TV event with them. That way it’s a special night that you all enjoy together. No worry if you know nothing about horse racing or opening day of baseball, it’s the event that counts.

If you have time, give your mom a facial while you watch the red carpet interviews. Talk about the dresses and the pretty girls. It does not mean you have to see all the movies or know the award winners, it’s just the event that makes the night fun. How about all of the girls from grandma to grand daughters get their nails done while you watch TV. A girls night –

Your dad can have his time in the sun, there are pay for view games, fights and sports events you and your husband or friend can make it a guys night out.  Make or buy an apple pie and serve it warm with vanilla ice cream and you will have all generations of the guys in your family – happy as can be.

Summer means there’s lots of summertime fun events. Free fun at that. I love concerts in the park, we have a small community near us that has a terrific 4th of July parade that is so small and reminds you of the old days with the kids following on their bikes or walking their dogs. I love it!

There are community events, small market days or flee markets set up in each community and even great ice cream shops to get that old fashioned ice cream cone.

Life does not have to be pricey. Dinner out can be fried chicken from your kitchen, or from the grocery store deli section. Potato salad and pickles are all you need…with some old fashioned bottles of cream sodas or root beer. Drive down to the lake or sea shore and have a nice picnic. If your parents are no longer able to get out and walk…then just stop by and get hamburgers off the dollar menu and drive to a place with a great view and eat in the car.

There are still drive-in movie places here and there…they still allow folks to have a good time. It might not be easy for those that have to use the bathroom a lot, if that’s the case rental movies are the best.

I recently had my sister and her husband over and we watched a movie that reflected the time when they were growing up. We all laughed and had a good time together over a simple movie. I served a good dessert and the evening was really very nice.

I have friends that have movie night with about three couples, once a month. They bring a potluck dinner and take turns ordering movies. Simple, low budget enjoyment with friendship kicked in to make it even better.

Outside BBQ’s in the summer make it fun for the grand kids. Older people just love to watch young people so buying that blow up wading pool for Grandpa’s back yard will keep the kids busy all evening. Just do what you like to do, but do it with them.

Yes, it does take more of your time to carry around things from house to house. Yes, the kids may throw fits to go away from their computer games for an evening, but a twice a month visit that’s filled with enjoyable things for everyone is not a bad way to encourage family nights.

For many years, my mother had Sunday dinners. All of my sisters and their young families would come and we all enjoyed the full family together for good food and great visits. There is nothing wrong with a once a month gathering of family at your parents home, with you doing the cooking. Your parents can look forward to the event and the family can still have those memories and family ties that make for healthy realtionships as kids grow up. Even if it’s a tight squeeze, its the food and family that count.

Once a year, on Queen Victoria’s birthday in May, my girlfriends and I used to go to our larger city (Seattle) and have high tea.We would dress up, wear hats, gloves and even tiaras and have a grand time. It was so much fun. You can re-create that sort of thing in the back yard with your sisters, daughters, nieces and your mother. Life can be fun with little things, it may seem crazy and take time & energy on your part – but fun is fun. Money does not have to be a stumbling block to enjoyement!

Thanks for taking time to care about your mom and dad. How lucky they are that they have you to keep them smiling. Please go to my website www.seniorcarewithspirit.comand take a look at the other senior care tips that I have for you. Remember, if you’re thinking about placing your parents in a care facility of any kind – I have a FREE service that will help you make those decsions and find just the right assistance that they need its all on the web site please do visit.

Thank you, francy

Boomers Are Stressed Over Senior’s Medications

by francy Dickinson      www.seniorcarewithspirit.com 

Dear Francy;

I am going nuts over asking my wife if she has taken her pills. I get them ready before I go to work and she is unable to take them on time, even when I call to remind her. I need more ideas!

This is the way that dementia starts to tug at the mind of caregivers. It’s the little things that are so important and so hard to handle when you repeat and repeat and get no reaction. So let’s go through some of the guidelines of medication and see if we can give you some peace.

First, you’re only required to “try”. That means a good college try. Try everyday to keep the medications in her life as stable as you can. There is still a world out there and you have to live in it, go to your work and care for the rest of your family. So just take a deep breath and try. The consistent attention that you give your wife is much like what you had to do when your children were growing up. Frustration is high, disappointment is high, and worry is high for anyone caring for a patient with emotional or brain dysfunctions. It’s just what we have to do. As you know, I care for my husband with Alzheimer’s, too….so this pill is a big deal for YOU and for ME.

The importance of medication for dementia/Alzheimer’s seniors is really critical because the emotional pills keep them stable; the brain medication is designed to keep as many brain functions as possible – working. Taking two sets of pills in the morning will only confuse and upset the senior and omitting even one set of pills will change their personality and may do damage to the brain. If you remember from your doctor’s talking to you about the brain – it actually loses power when someone over-doses, gets upset, gets ill with a high temperature, infection or high confusion-stress event. It can take weeks to months to build brain functions back from those various events.

Since the brain on dementia/Alzheimer is now slowing down in growing new pathways – they may not recover. They will just go downhill faster. Brain trauma is one of the biggest recovery problems for the young solders coming home, wounded in the war. They have young healthy bodies and they’re able to slowly build up their brains again. They can make up for the brain functions that were lost and build new ones at the same time. Now it may take them months or years, but the function of their brain is always in a forward motion healing itself. The older senior – does not have the building brain power at that level anymore and has an actual block with the workings of dementia/Alzheimer’s condition – those seniors are in trouble. A step back is really two steps back and never forward again.

That means it’s up to us to help them remove the stress events, keep them from getting unwell, and keep their medication intake as close to schedule as possible. So, let’s review the steps to take to make the medication preparation easier:

Medication Preparation:

  • All medications, their strength, their name, the reason for taking them, the time to dispense, amount of pills and if they are taken with food – should be written down. Go to your computer and take time for a complete listing. Keep it right on your screen as an icon (save to the desktop) and update as you get new Rx’s. Add the supplements you are using, too. So you have a clear pattern of what pills to give and when that anyone can read and understand. Write it for someone else to read and it will be clear to all care givers and professionals that will need the information in the future.
  • Most patients start with morning and night routines, but this may go up to four times a day. You need to have a good sized pill sorting/container. Go to the bigger drug stores and find a container that is right for your use. I now have to keep this container in my own bathroom, in a drawer, away from my husband’s sight. He will see it and think he has to take his pills at any time of day or night. So, I now have them tucked away.
  • I keep the pill bottles in a basket and sort through the pills once a week and make sure I have them all in order. I re-order new meds if they are getting low and I buy new supplements. I use Turmeric and high B vitamins, a joint supplement and Omega Oils (salmon oil) if you want to know about those – do a Google and find out the different supplements that people are using to help with dementia. Remember all of the supplements are in addition to their medications. I fill up the 7 day supply of pills for morning and night and then I can relax over that part for the rest of the week. The big basket of pills containers goes up on a high shelf in my laundry room. (my husband does not enter that room)
  • I take the pills from the weekly container – twice a day and put them in a small dish and hand them to my husband. If I am not there I have him take them before I leave, or I now have someone else give him the pills. If I was going to be gone for a day or two- I would have a friend in the neighborhood or a family member come and give him the pills. My husband is just not able to do it any longer without help.
  • I have been asking him – “Did you take your pills?” for a year now! But, that is a silly thing to ask someone that cannot remember if they have taken their pills…they may remember they took them the day before or last night so the memory for them is not reliable. At first we would leave the lid of the morning open to check on during the day. That got too complicated and he doubled up his meds too many times. This new way of just dispensing the medications works best for me. I did the same thing for my mother’s care. I treat the pills as if I have a toddler in the house; they are put up on a shelf or in a room that they do not go into – for safety.
  • Caution; in many states putting pills in someone’s mouth or putting mediated cream on their skin is not legal. So you have to know the rules for your area of care. If you are a family member the rules do not apply, you can administer the medications. I still, put them in a small bowl and he takes them with fruit juice & water. I now watch him do it twice a day. His Alzheimer’s pills have to be taken with food – I have bagels, yogurt and applesauce ready at all times. He has taken them on his own without the food and that results in heart burn or sick stomach – when that happens I know he has done something off the grid and I check the process out right away.

Trust your own mind. If your wife says something and you hear it but think she is misinterpreting things – check it. Go and look – see if the pills are gone or two day’s pills are missing. See if she can find the car keys and then change them to another spot. Take a note from what she says, she may be saying something important but in a form that your ear does not hear. So, retrain your ear to hear her meaning not her words.

I get upset over meds. I try so hard to get them right and it hurts me so when something goes wrong. My upset is Ok -I need to be a person with feelings, but to overdue the upset is wrong. That’s when you pull the senior in the pool with you and that can be harmful. Just like you used to do with the toddler, be firm and clear about the mistake and then leave it.

Have your wife take her morning meds before you leave the house. Ask the doctor to change any afternoon medications to something that can be given on a time release or morning only basis. (Because she will not take the meds on her own) Then you give her meds after dinner and that is that. Life has to have solutions and that is as close as you can get. If the meds require four times a day, getting a helper to come in and do it for you is a must. You can trade a retired person in the neighborhood for doing their lawn or having them over for dinner once a week. Think of ways to make it work, without a big expense.

Medications can make such a big difference in dementia/Alzheimer’s seniors that it’s worth the worry and the work over the process and I applaud you for your “good try”. Just keep plugging along, the path may be long and lonely, but the reward is your wife’s peace and quality of life. Thanks for all you do and please visit my website and get more information www.seniorcarewithspirit.com. Sign up for our newsletter while you are there!

Thanks, francy

Traveling with an Alzheimer’s Senior

by francy Dickinson        www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; I am going to take my older sister on a garden tour trip to Canada, this spring. Any suggestions?

As long as you are with her – there should be no problem. I would always get travel insurance. You never know how fast her condition can change. She may be in a comfortable spot with her dementia at this time but life can change.  Just be sure you’re covered financially if you have to cancel.

Get a good ID Bracelet with her name and your cell phone number. If she gets lost,  a good person can easily call your cell phone. Give her a cell phone to wear around her neck. My husband has one with him all the time, but he often forgets how to use it. Write on the back “push 1 to call Sarah” so she can remember how to call you, if she is confused. Make sure others around you know she has memory challenges. That way they will take note if they see her alone and walking away. They have GPS units that you can put on her wrist and then have the receiver in your purse. If she goes a missing, you click it on and find her blinking on the screen. It does have a range, so put on your own antenna and remember to keep her by your side or with a few minutes range at all times.

Most doctors that treat dementia of all forms; ask the care family not to make any changes around the patient. The familiar keeps dementia seniors comfortable, calm and functioning well. But if you are traveling with her and she uses you as her safe key for comfort there should be no problems.

I know many people that take short trips with dementia patients and they have had nothing but fun times. It’s always good to remember you are not going to leave her for a moment. Not even in the room to take a nap. You can never plan on her movements on her own. She could wake in a strange room walk out the door and you would be looking for her all over the place. Think of what you would do with a toddler and how you would not leave them, well that is the idea for the dementia/Alzheimer senior.

I know from a friend that was a flight attendant – the amount of people that literally dump grandma at the airport with a ticket in her hand. The senior is guided to the gate and then just pushed along with others through to the flight, but on the other end, who is there? Usually the family has had enough and is sending grandma on to another sibling. That is NOT how you treat a person that can go into confusion at any moment.

My friend said the flight crew is nervous all through the flight with worry over the senor’s safety in an emergency and they often have to escort off the plane and sit and wait with the senior for the family to show up. Sad stuff.

I am guilty. When my husband was in early stages of dementia/Alzheimer’s he went on a trip to visit his kids in California. We had NOT gotten a diagnosis of his dementia at that time. He had been forgetting things, showing odd behavior and expressing anger but it was early days, yet. So, he got a ticket from his son and he was ready to go.

Now, as a life-long traveler (my husband owned and ran travel agencies for over 35 years) he was ready to hit the road on the drop of a hat. But, I did notice he was confused and upset about packing. Boy that really threw me, because my husband had always been the packing genius. I would take forever to pack and he would pack in 10 minutes for 3 weeks in Europe! His behavior was strange enough that I packed for him, that time. I dropped him off, with time to spare, at the airport with cookies to eat before the flight, kisses, goodbyes and drove off. He made it through to the plane and the flight was on time. He then got off in Reno and he called me right away, “francy, I just can not remember why I am here?” he said.

I was a mess of worry over the call. He son did pick him up on time and no other words were spoken about the trip but positive stuff. So, I calmed down until two days later. The phone rang again, “francy, I have just called Kittens and asked her to come and get me. I have no idea how to get back to Jo’s place”. He had taken the car to drive into town and look around while his son went to work and he got lost, lucky for us, his daughter drove to met him and get him back to the house right away. Her immediate response saved the us all from a lot of pain.

That was that for me. I made a pledge that he would not travel without me, again! I was so happy to see his smiling face when he got off the plane and walked out of the gate area. He was filled with happy stories and yet, he knew his life had changed. He even asked me to make an appointment with the doctor, he accepted the fact that he needed help. It was the beginning of a big change in our lives and I am just glad I got him home safe. He could have gotten so lost driving around the mountain area of Tahoe City.

The problem with dementia/Alzheimer’s is that you never know what confuses someone. Some place or thing they have done over and over through the years, suddenly slips out of their mind and they lose their place. They can use the remote control for the TV on a daily basis and suddenly start to push buttons in frustration. They drive to the local store and then forget why they’re in the parking lot, they start to put oil in the car and then walk away and leave the car there with the oil bottle still tipped upside-down in the engine area. It is so strange to watch their minds change and so you can not count on any normal or usual action to take place.

The confusion of getting off a plane and not knowing what direction to walk to the baggage area. That could set them off and they would wander down and around the airport for hours. The confusion of sitting at a different table having lunch and you go for the salad bar and they just get up and start to wander off. 

Then they have a few days of total calm and awareness of their surroundings and you think  “Oh, things are OK now.”  But you have to accept that things are never going to be better now – ever. Their minds will slowly get worse and you just have to change your life to fit into their new life. So, treat them as you did your younger toddlers, keep them in eye’s view.

Keep your sister right with you and then the trip to the store or the beautiful Canadian gardens will be fun and enjoyable for you both. Thank you for such quality care of your sister, she is a lucky girl to have you. Please go to my website and get other tips on all senior care issues. I also have a great FREE Senior Care Placement Service that will help you make a decision on future advanced care for your loved one. www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

By the way, I have a dear friend that specializes in trips & cruises for seniors and those with challenges. To visit her website go to my web page and click on the links. Linda is a dear gal and will give you excellent care. She was a terrific care giver to her mother, with Alzheimer’s for many years so she has been there. She has traveled the world and is an expert in group and personal tours.  Plus, she is a very nice lady and you will enjoy having her help you with all your travel needs.  Her web site www.travelingcougars.com has her phone contact information. Just give her a call and see if she can really add some zing to your life with a little safe travel!

Please go and enjoy the rest of the Alzheimer blogs on my Dear Francy blogs and visit my website www.seniorcarewithspirit.comto get more information. Don’t forget, when you get to the stage that you need  care facility help for your loved one, please contact me and let me help you through that process with our Loving MemoriesSenior Care Facility Placement Service that is FREE for you to use.

Thank you, francy