Down Days for Seniors in Care

by francy Dickinson       www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear francy; I have my down days but my mother is having horrible down days and I just can not seem to bring her up and out of the hole. Can you give me a few tips?

Yes, first I will state that down days are simply real and human. We all have them, so a day here and there is nothing to fuss over. But if a senior that has had medical problems, is on a few prescriptions, or is confined to a smaller space – has anger issues, is upset and snaps easily, has quiet days that go on and on and is rarely happy over their daily routine, it’s time to talk to a doctor. There are so many medications that can simply lift the spirit up. I know lots of folks do not like this sort of thing, but you know what? When you stand there at 70+, -80+,- 90+ and above and have your own problems, then start to throw rocks at the medications that can help relieve stress and depression.

But before you take her into the doctor’s office, you have home work to do. You need to write a one page letter that will be faxed to the doctor’s office with a heading saying “Please Put this In my mother’s file and ask doctor to read before our appointment on Thursday, thank you ”
This letter is going to be a good review of your mother’s situation. Where she lives, how she is feeling her meds and her feelings of depression and upset. Then you have to be honest, no making up stories. You then tell the doctor that you are her care giver and you are now starting to find yourself feeling down and upset because her emotions are so strong and uncomfortable for you on a continued basis. Be sure to tell him,  “I doubt mother, will be happy about a depression pill” but I’m really over my head here and I need help on this issue. Thank you –

Now, this is the deal. He will then have time to read and understand the appointment. He will understand your mom and your feelings without a big discussion in front of your mother. This is what I have been doing for years. I did it with my mother, other people I gave care to and now my husband. Boy has it made a difference. I can sit and think about the circumstances for the visit, the problems I have seen, an example of the situation and then – the asking the doctor to please help. They do. They respond very well – they will give her a look over and check her current drug list and then they will ask a couple of questions and the Rx will be written.

Now, here is your next step. There is never one drug that fits all. You have to have your mother take the medication for a couple of weeks (some times three weeks for emotional meds) and then take note. If she does not get better, or if she has side effects, or is extra tired or whatever. Then you need to call the doctor’s office and let them know. Ask them if the doctor could please re-access the medication and make a change. He will then call you back and tell you, NO – give it more time. Or YES, I have another med that will do just the same without that side effect – that sort of thing. But to just put the pills aside and think that they will never work for you, or have her take them and not help the problem is silly. So, keep an eye on this and see how she does. Remember to call the pharmacy with actual questions on reactions too – they’re the specialists in medications and I have had pharmacists suggest another medication to talk to the doctor about. Very helpful.

OK, if you feel it’s not emotional, just being difficult or teary over special situations than it’s a problem that you personally can handle. You have to bring your energy level up each time you see your mother. Even if your day is busy and your life is up side down side – you walk in the door with a smile and a bounce. Before you enter the door, take a couple of deep breaths to clear your mind and pull your energy up and then just go for it. Every day have another thing for your mother to concentrate on.

  1. American Idol, Dancing with the Stars are perfect for catching the mind and having them look forward to something on TV
  2. The next holiday…here we are at Easter Time. Talk to her about your Easters as a child and how you loved them and you were thinking you and your mom could go over to a family members for Easter Dinner together…or what ever holiday you celebrate in your family.
  3. The next family event, usually older people have loads of younger children in their family, so who’s birthday is coming up? Maybe buy or make a cake and invite the grand or great grand child over for a fun tea party with their parents. Anything that sounds like minimum work and maximum fun.
  4. The next outing. You have a doctor’s appointment next week, I was thinking we could drive by the park and take a look at the trees and see how they made it through the winter, or the spring bloom or the flowering plants. Or a stop for lunch, if they cannot get out of the car well, get KFC and then drive to a view park and eat in the car. Something different, something fun.
  5. Keep up beat. If she is in a mood, just do not allow yourself to jump in her swimming pool. Avert the discussion to another subject, something in the news, or about your friends or family. Just ignore nasty behavior, she may be doing it to watch your button response. That is a nasty habit to get into to and you need to make it stop by not responding with anything but a smile.

I know you have loads of creative ideas too. But what I know is that when you are tired and you are stressed – creativity tends to step back and you just feel the raw nerves of the situation. I hope you will visit my website www.seniorcarewithspirit.comand get more information there and read over some of my older blog posts for ideas that will fit your care. I have done a very solid Care-Givers Workbook 101 that you can find on my website under products. I think you will find it very helpful for your continued good care of your mother. Thanks for all you’re doing for your mom.

Best wishes, francy

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