Senior Ideas to Keep Kool!

by francy Dickinson                          www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy: Dad is in hospital, dehydration. His apartment was like a steam bath when I arrived, how can I get him to use the air conditioning and drink water!

This is what happens every time the temp goes up, seniors go down. Even young seniors get over heated. So, I have a list of ideas to try:

  1. There are great neck scarves that keep you cool and they are easy to make. Go to this site and enjoy the info – Make a few extras for senior friends and those that garden http://tinyurl.com/mea7vq
  2. Water is not a friend for seniors. They have not carried around water bottles everyday like we do. So to them, you drink water to take pills and that is a negative. So, change the water into the different power waters with flavor that you can find. They will replace the electrolytes and such and are used by runners and sports people. Add them to the list for your senior and keep it cooled.
  3. I also like to use a crystal lite type of drink that has sugar substitute and comes in flavors of peach tea and pink lemonade.
  4. If you want your senior to drink a protein drink make sure it is chilled. They taste sooo much better chilled.
  5. A small chill chest like the ones you take to work for lunch is perfect to place by the senior’s chair. I just have them put a new ice pack(keep at least 3 ice packs to rotate) in it each day and put their yogurt, protein drink and juice drink inside so they stay cool and easy to reach and use.
  6. I find that seniors do well with glasses with handles. So I look for a plastic glass that has a thermal lining and handles. It will keep your cool drink cool much longer and is easy for the senior to drink and carry around to refill.
  7. The air around a senior’s home has to be within reach of normal. You can find out what makes them feel good. I would say in the low 70’s. Now mother took a med that made her cold all year round. So she wanted a heater on in the summer. I removed the heater from her room so she did not have that choice. I put her over all room heat in the low 70’s and had her wear a sweater ( not a shawl to trip over)
  8. Fans are great and the newer fans that have a stand and fill with water are even better. Do not have the fan blowing on the senior’s chair. Just have it moving the air around the room. Be sure to cover the cord with duck tape so there is no tripping over the electric plug in.
  9. New portable air conditioners are wonderful. They run around $200 or less at the big box stores or online. You will find that they have wheels and move from room to room. They only need to have a hose sticking out a window.This is a new product and works so well that I know you will enjoy it, too.
  10. Open doors and windows are security risk for seniors. Make sure you have someone help you with ways to get fresh air and still have security. Even sliding doors have open set locks, so take a look at the hardware store and see what they have for the senior’s home to make it safe but cool.
  11. I found a standing air filter that had a chill feature at a small hardware store last week. It was one of those tower type of things and as I stood in front of it I thought how great it would have been to have had for mother when she was alive. So just get out there and take a look. There are also mist sprayers for the back yard and very small refrigerators that would fit into a care center room keep looking till you find the right match.
  12. Ask family to help with the expense or ask the state case worker to use their concrete funds to supplement the new air conditioner or fan.

Some times seniors just need a push from a child. I often asked mother to change a habit so I could stop worrying about her and get more sleep. I just told her I was not able to stop worrying about her being over heated and I needed her to work with me. She always responded well. Most senior parents would do almost anything for their kids if they sincerely ask them.

Stay Kool – Start with yourself, keep yourself cool and talk about being cool when you talk to your senior each day. Ask them what they are planning to do to keep the house cool? Tell them the heat is going to be high today and ask them if they have the fan on and how about their cooler drinks? Talking about it, makes it come up to the top of the senior’s mind. Plus, a doctor telling a senior to do something like drink water or juice and keep cool will go a long way. Seniors think of their doctors with a great deal of respect so keep the doc on your team.

I hope this has helped you with ideas. Please do go to my website at www.seniorcarewithspirit.com for more ideas. I have a great e-book called Care Giving 101 Workbook that will help you with giving care in your own home or in the senior’s home. It has all the basic home nursing tips and gives you ideas to support yourself as well as your spouse or loved one. These books are very popular with care givers and I encourage you to buy one so you can feel more in power of your situation as the care giver. It can be very lonely out there all alone when you are giving care – I want to make the experience more comforting for you.

I write these blogs to share information that I have gathered in my many years of care giving. I am now tending to my husband with Alzheimer’s and my books and services are how I’m able to stay at home and care for him. Thanks for all you are doing for your own loved one, blessings. francy

PS I am on Twitter @seniorcaretips and I would love to have you listen to my talk radio show on senior care issues just click the radio button on my home page. The show is on demand so you can listen whenever you have time.

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Seniors Losing Long Time Friends

by francy Dickinson                            www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; Dad just lost a long time friend. Today a few well known stars have passed. Dad is reacting saying he needs to stop his meds and just let the world go by without him. I am upset, his health is not extreme just managed with medications.

I understand, I went through a daily reminder of my mother’s loss of all of her old friends as she lived with us in her last five years of life. She would tell me how she missed them and how she could not share her memories with anyone. So, I have been there the only idea I had for her moods of sadness was to re-direct her to thinking in the now.

Here are a few tips:

    1. If there is a big dedication for well known personalities that have passed keep it down to a dull roar. Yes, watch an hour or so and get the information, then the channel gets changed.
    2. Get the senior out of the house, the world has sights that bring all of us back to calm. Going for a walk or drive will bring the neighborhood back into the mind of the senior, the coffee shop they love back to the forefront of their brain.
    3. Make sure you talk about passings of others but do it with humor. Remember old stories that bring smiles. Those that past should represent good memories, not sadness.
    4. Honor passings. Even if the friend that passes has not been around for a while, find a picture of them to put out and talk about the person and ask when the senior first met them and the most enjoyable time they had together? Let the senior remember and talk about the person to work through their grief.
    5. Ask if the senior wants to go to the memorial. Some times they do, some times not. When one of mother’s old card pals passed, she was to unwell to go to the memorial. So I went for her. I did not know the lady well, but I reported back to mother about the day. Signed her name, and mine, in the guest book and took a picture of the flowers and receptions table for her to view.
    6.  When she was sad I would ask her to tell me a story I had heard in the past about her family or friends and some funny thing that happened or family event. I did this often to keep the memory of those that passed around mother in a positive way. Not tucked away in the dark and sadness.
    7. When mother lost her small dog, I bought a balloon for both of us and we went outside and let them go. We talked about when the dog first came to mother and the thought of loss was honored.
    8. When mother’s brother was very ill and we thought he would pass, we make sure she visited him. She was weak and it was a hard thing to do, but she needed to see him and tell him she loved him. He got well but she would pass a month later. It was a good- good bye that she needed.
    9. When a singer passed that she used to listen to when she was young, I got a CD of his music at the library and played it for her and we talked about her and dad dancing the night away – one night long ago. We got silly and I pushed her wheelchair around the room with the dog in her lap!
    10. When her neice died I got a picture of her out of the memory book, had it enlarged at the copy shop and framed it. I put out the frame and a small voltive candle and had it burning each evening for a couple of weeks. She needed a way to work through her grief.
    11. Each time she complained about her old age and passing, I reminded her how much both my husband and I enjoyed having her with us. I would tell her about how much she helped me with this or that. I feel a senior just needs to feel wanted and needed. Like all of us, they need a purpose to keep life on the top of their plate, not start to think that that their death would not effect anyone. Once they get that reassurance, they perk up again.
    To Review: to honor a passing, but not dwell on it. To remember a friend’s passing by honoring the happy memories. To have a ritual that that helps to set the grieving process in motion. To remind the senior that they are still loved and needed, no matter who else is passing along the way.

I hope this has helped you with ideas. Please do go to my website at www.seniorcarewithspirit.com for more ideas. I have a great e-book called Care Giving 101 Workbook that will help you with giving care in your own home or in the senior’s home. It has all the basic home nursing tips and gives you ideas to support yourself as well as your spouse or loved one. These books are very popular with care givers and I encourage you to buy one so you can feel more in power of your situation as the care giver. It can be very lonely out there all alone when you are giving care – I want to make the experience more comforting for you.

I write these blogs to share information that I have gathered in my many years of care giving. I am now tending to my husband with Alzheimer’s and my books and services are how I’m able to stay at home and care for him. Thanks for all you are doing for your own loved one, blessings. francy

PS I am on Twitter @seniorcaretips and I would love to have you listen to my talk radio show on senior care issues just click the radio button on my home page. The show is on demand so you can listen whenever you have time.

Senior Care Givers Get Organized!

By francy Dickinson www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; I have never been very organized and now I have college kids, husband, dogs, home, job schedules and just added caring for mom and her schedule. Where is “the me” in all of this?

I understand and although it may seem like your the me has faded into the background and rarely has a time or place to surface; I think these tips will help. The simple answer to parenting or care giving is that keeping track and reminding everyone of events and keeping the home and persons clean – is really the most important part of the job. It is also the most exhausting. When the kids are young and go a million directions each day and make a mess at each station – you are usually young too. You have had more energy and more brain function to handle the stress. Now, time moves on for all of us and you have even more tasks on your plate and more people pulling you in different directions. So as you once did daily life with little or no planned organization – NOW time has changed and you have to get a grip on your daily to do’s so you do have time for the me inside to take a good soak bath or just a quiet time with your spouse after dinner.

Roll up your sleeves – because if you’re caring for an elder or your own spouse you need to begin the organized path for all of your own and your family’s health and well being:

  1. Do it Your Way – Calendars are a must. You have a choice, you can do it online or with your cell and keep a calendar and the reminders buzzing helping you stay on the program. Or, you can write it down on a wall calendar or daily planner. Whatever fits your needs- use it. But remember, you need a calendar!
  2. Repeat a program and put everyone on a similar schedule. If you do laundry on Monday nite after work, your college kids, and husband need to know they have to have their stuff there and in place so you can do the laundry not collect sort and fold the laundry. Be practical, do the laundry for each person so you do not have to sort and then have them fold it. Call your senior and remind them of the laundry day and ask them how many loads and such, so you know they are also on the program for the day. This is how you keep it simple, do not adjust to five different schedules, make others adjust to yours and it will go so much smoother. (Remember; this way or the highway and the highway is them doing their own laundry wo/your help. Be strong – you do the work, you set the rules and schedules) Set the basic cleaning, house and personal stuff on the calendar and then repeat and repeat. That is how the process gets easier because they all get it drilled into their head that Monday is laundry, Tuesday is outside the house chore day, Wed is clean house day, Thursday is zip, Friday is family time, Sat is visit and help senior day, Sunday is quiet and recover day. Make up your days, but make them clear and repeat each week. Say No to things that do not fall on the right day so you do not wide up feeling exhausted. Or just float a day into the next Friday and move on. But try hard to stick to your days and your family will adjust and follow suit.
  3. Remind everyone of the different chores of the week. Then stick to them. After a few weeks it will all gel and get so much easier. I know that garbage is Tuesday at our house, but I still have it marked on my wall calendar each week. I would always have mother’s garbage day marked on my calendar too…so when we spoke the night before I could get her to remember, or stop by to put it out on the curb myself. I love using wall calendars, they make my days easier. I do use a daily calendar in my office on the desk, but that is reserved for most of my work related information. I keep Birthday and events, appointments on the web so I get reminders and anything that involves another person in the family is up on the wall calendar.
  4. Appointments are hard to manage in a busy life, so you will have to pick a day during the week and on Saturday for doctor appointments for your senior. You will find that if you pick the day and tell the doctor’s office this is your day for appointments they will find one for you. Your life will be much smoother. Remember seniors that need care do not do well before 10 AM or after 4 PM so work within those boundaries. Bring your Medical spiral notebook that’s just used for doctor appointments for your parent or spouse. This way you have all the information in your bag or car and you’re ready to take notes and ask questions. Time for appointments is usually 2-3 hours. You have to drive, transfer, do the appointment, wait, do the tests or drug store run, drive back and maybe do a quick stop for a treat for the senior. So do not think your lunch hour is enough, it will take longer than you think. (I have a great E book called Senior’s Doctor Visits Check List that gives you all sorts of ideas for better appointment and doctor interactions – you will find it on my site clicking on Products.)
  5. I made a deal with myself that on days that I take someone to the doctor, I only do two more chores along the way and one of them is passive, like eating. It really takes a lot of energy to collect a senior and keep totally concentrated on their wellbeing and their appointment information. So to add a shopping trip or a few more stop and pick up this or that… is way to much for me. My mom would get home and be happy about her day and I would get home and be exhausted and still facing the evening with making dinner and the usual night time tasks. So, keep yourself well and do not over book your senior drive day.
  6. If you’re cleaning your home than wait a couple of days before you go over to your senior’s home and clean theirs. I remember the depression I would have from trying to get my house work caught up and then driving over to my mother’s or other senior’s places and do the same thing all over again. I learned to separate my own cleaning on a day that I would not be doing cleaning for someone else. I had to preserve my energy and my mental attitude.
  7. Start each day with a review of what is happening on the calendar and then you are ready for your morning check-in call for your senior. You can remind them that this is a “get the garbage ready to go out day”. This is a “get the refrigerator clean so we can go to the store tomorrow day”. That way you give the senior chores they can do to ready their home for you to come and quickly get the rest of the chores finished. Then go ahead and ask your usual daily questions about all around health and reminders for pills, food and such. This way, you give them something to do for you…that’s always the key. When you work with parents always ask them to do you a favor. “Mother, I’m stopping by tonight on the way home- to put out the garbage can and give you a hug. Would you please get your waste baskets all empted and put into a trash bag and I will run in and chat and then take out the garbage. Hey, how about I bring you a hamburger and shake for dinner, sound good?” That is the way you get it done, ask for a favor, remind them of the task and reward them for their efforts.
  8. Saying NO. There are times when things you do for a senior are important and have to go on the top of your list. Then there are times when the senior is lonely and they think of things to get you over to visit them in-between your normal days. This has to be contained or you will lose your ability to multitask successfully. Sort out the pleas of I need help. Let the senior know you will be there in two days and you can add that to your task list. I got mother a nice white board and she would write down things that she needed me to do. Each time I visited, I would cross off a few and then delegate a few more and finish the rest at the next visit. Delegate is to call a sibling or your spouse and ask them to do a certain chore that you know they can do or afford to provide. This keeps you from feeling like you are holding the whole world together (even if you are!)
  9. Each season comes with extra tasks and the best thing to do is keep them connected. If you are going to have someone clean your gutters, then ask the same person do clean your senior’s home and share the cost. If you are going to change the batteries on your fire alarms or heating unit filters, do the same at your seniors. Spring time is always a good excuse to clean out closets. Hire a family member to help you and get your closets clean and clothes and linens to the charity store and do the same for your senior. The response to cleaning out things for seniors is always hard; they hate change and do not want to give away anything. But, if you show them you did your home first, they know the fork lift is coming through their closets, next. It makes it easier for them to adjust. If you do it year in and year out. It becomes an accepted norm. But remember the routine, ask them to help you, get the task done, then reward them. So the closet and old clothes are gone. But the shopping for a few new things goes on the calendar so they see they have a reward coming.
  10. Getting organized does not always mean cleaning up the office and linen closet. It means that from this day forward you will start with a clean slate and make new rules for your life style. Once the rules are in place, you will have the same day each week for that yoga class, or long nap after work, or favorite TV show that you taped. And still get things done and feel in charge. Organizing brings a sense of control over your normal crazy life. It means that you live in the now, with an eye on your future. That way you can emotionally enjoy your life, not just suffer through another day. Live strong within your mind, body and spirit and that will reflect off onto your family, spouse and senior or parent.

Blessings on all that you do, because YOU keeping strong / gives your family the ability to live their lives feeling calm and joyful.

I hope this has helped you with ideas. Please do go to my website at www.seniorcarewithspirit.com for more ideas. I have a great e-book called Care Giving 101 Workbook that will help you with giving care in your own home or in the senior’s home. It has all the basic home nursing tips and gives you ideas to support yourself as well as your spouse or loved one. These books are very popular with care givers and I encourage you to buy one so you can feel more in power of your situation as the care giver. It can be very lonely out there all alone when you are giving care – I want to make the experience more comforting for you.

I write these blogs to share information that I have gathered in my many years of care giving. I am now tending to my husband with Alzheimer’s and my books and services are how I’m able to stay at home and care for him. Thanks for all you are doing for your own loved one, blessings. francy

PS I am on Twitter @seniorcaretips and I would love to have you listen to my talk radio show on senior care issues just click the radio button on my home page. The show is on demand so you can listen whenever you have time.

Do You Need a New Doctor?

by francy Dickinson                             www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy: I have tried and tried to get through to my doctor and he is always too busy to take a call. He rushes us through appointments and he’s rude when I ask a question about my husband. What can I do?

Then move on to another doctor. You know we are all stuck in a mental state of instant respect for every physician we meet. But they are just people, some can connect with one person and not another. Some are specialists in their field and know nothing out of their field and then there are the gems. A gem doctor is one that simply listens, expresses interest and tries to find information to diagnose a problem properly. They have a ego that allows them to share the information with you, the patient, or with another specialist in the correct field. Those Gems are to be kept in your back pocket and appreciated. The rest can be sorted through and only used on a limited basis.

If you find that you are now in a new place with your health and you need to have more input from your doctor and you are not getting it – try this before you make a move.

  1. Tell the doctor directly or in a letter that you really need to understand his instructions for you, or his ideas about the diagnose and treatment of your condition. Tell him you are going to come in (date of your appointment) and you will be asking him about — then list the questions you have about your (or your senior’s) health.  I love this idea of a letter to express things to the doctor in a short one page that he would not have time to find out during your appointment. This pre-appointment letter could be the answer to a doctor working well for you, or you moving to a new doctor.
  2. Take notes when you are at the doctors. Do not think you will remember things, you will not. If you live alone, ask a family member or friend to come with you and take notes. This way your questions and the doctor’s answers are written down for you to review. Makes life so much easier to really hear and understand what is being said during an appointment.
  3. Write down all the questions you have about your reaction to things in the last two weeks before the appointment. Write down I have been dizzy since I started taking this new drug, I have had too many runs to the bathroom to live comfortably, I have had to really hold on to a friend when I walk out of the house. This way he can review your list and deal with it.
  4. Finally, remember that each doctor has a personality and it may not match yours. There is nothing wrong with dealing with a doctor with airs that seems above you, if he/she is the only specialist in your town. But if you live where there are other choices, go for it and move on to another doctor.

How to find a new doctor in your area?

  1. I always start witha  friend and any professional in health, like a nurse that I might personally know. They know the good doctors and know who to call.
  2. Call your insurance company. Many insurance companies have a nurse help line that is FREE and it is a great service for easy questions. You might have to use the insurance company’s directory of doctors, if so, have that with you as you call. Ask the nurse if there is any actual way to know if one doctor is used by more of their insurance clients than another. They will help guide you.
  3. The Internet is so great for this sort of thing these days. I love to look up pharmacy questions and questions about health and get good answers and my favorite site for this is WebMD.
  4. Here is the site listing for the page that you can search for doctors in your area http://bit.ly/7VU0M   You will have to sign in for this information, do not be afraid to do that and keep the sign in information written in a spiral notebook for your health questions.They have their home work and the doctors are listed with their specialities and experience.
  5. Call your main or primary care physician and ask the nurse for a recommendation for a specialist, if she gives you the one you are trying to leave, ask for another name on her list.
  6. When you call the new doctor’s office, have a list of questions ready. Do not be afraid to ask them.
    “May I ask a few questions? Where did the doctor get his speciality degree? Does he treat patients with (your problem) often? What has his success with those treatments/surgery been?”
    I am sure that you think those questions are rude, but they are questions you have to ask. Maybe the doctor specializes in just what you have, or maybe he doesn’t. If you have done some work on the Internet and found out that the new treatment for prostate cancer is audio waves/ask if he uses that procedure. After all, you want a doctor that is open and up to date.

Get as much information as you can on your own. If a doctor tells you what you or your loved one is diagnosed with (?) then it’s your turn to study. Go to the Internet and hit Google and enter in the name of your condition. Find out what others are doing to control the condition, the different medications people are using and the procedures that are being used to treat it. Get a full understanding of what is wrong and what part of your body is not working. Find out if a good diet would help you get strong, find out if taking vitamin C in higher doses is good before your surgery to boost your body or other supplements are working for others with the same condition as yours. Learn as much as you can. Then when you go to the doctor you have your questions all written in your notebook and you are ready to really tackle each health challenge as a team- You, your loved one, your doctor, medications, supplements, proper diet, and medical procedures. It all has to work in harmony and that is up to you to make it happen.

Do not wait for a doctor to be perfect, try a nurse practioner for your everyday care. They are great to work with and easier to get into to see. They will send you to specialists for challanges out of their range. They will give you medications for your everyday issues and you will find they give you that care giving side that they have gathered in their many years of nursing.

I hope this has helped you with ideas. Please do go to my website at www.seniorcarewithspirit.com for more ideas. I have a great e-book called Care Giving 101 Workbook that will help you with giving care in your own home or in the senior’s home. It has all the basic home nursing tips and gives you ideas to support yourself as well as your spouse or loved one. These books are very popular with care givers and I encourage you to buy one so you can feel more in power of your situation as the care giver. It can be very lonely out there all alone when you are giving care, I want to make the experience more comforting for you.

I write these blogs to share information that I have gathered in my many years of care giving. I am now tending to my husband with Alzheimer’s and my books and services are how I’m able to stay at home and care for him. Thanks for all you are doing for your own loved one, blessings. francy

PS I am on Twitter @seniorcaretips and I would love to have you listen to my talk radio show on senior care issues just click the radio button on my home page. The show is on demand so you can listen when ever you have time.