Dear Francy Recipe for Seniors: Yum Bran Muffins

by francy Dickinson       www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy: I am just giving up on food for my dad. He get stuck on one thing and that is that, now it’s canned chili and I do not think he even heats it up. That is it – all he will eat. He has been on his own for a few years and he has refused to develop any cooking skills. Now he won’t even eat the dinners I make for him and deliver. Ideas?

Yes, I had an Uncle just like your dad he was into baked beans for a few years with toast on the side, nothing else but milk. So know that this is really something that lots of seniors – that are on their own and tired of cooking – do. But how about giving him something that has more fibre and still has sweetness to it? I am talking about a Bran Muffin that you make in a very large batch and then freeze and you can take over a few at a time. Just take a few at a time, you do not want him eating more than a couple a day.

” I never bake!” You will now, this is very easy and does not require skills just a very large bowl and muffin pans. “Cream together”means that you start by mixing together the oil, molasses and the sugar until it is incorporated -you can do this in a food processor, with a hand beater or just with a large wooden spoon.

My mother had this recipe for so many years. She and I made it and shared it with so many people. My hubby and mom both loved the muffins. My husband would grab one in the morning and take off to work. It was an easy and yummy treat and I think you might enjoy the fact that you make it and then it’s in such a large amount that you’re not baking every week. I have seen good bran muffins for sale in bakery counters for $4 a piece, so you will really enjoy the saving, plus, I have never tasted a bran muffin as rich and good as this recipe.

You can substitute anything you like in this muffin, but it’s filled with fibre and good stuff and I think you will understand the sugar seems like a lot but the recipe makes a large batch. Raisins can be changed or added for other favorite dried fruit (my mother loved chopped dried apricots) so you can take this and get creative or stick to the basic batch. This is an easy recipe and I always use paper cupcake liners so you can get them out of the pan and freeze them with ease.

TOOT’S BRAN MUFFINS

Heat your oven to 375. Get a large bowl to mix the ingredients and use paper cupcake liners for your muffin tins. You will need at least two muffin tins and this will be repeated with additional batches or the mix will store in the refrigerator for 3 weeks. Your choice – take time to bake them up one evening and freeze or bake them as you need them for a fresh smell and warm treat. These heat in the microwave very fast and are just great for a quick out the door breakfast or snack. They will be a perfect meal substitute for a senior with a Boost type of drink.

4 cups All Bran cereal
2 cups Nabisco 100% Bran cereal
2 cups raisins
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup oil
1 cup dark molasses
1 quart buttermilk
4 eggs
5 cups flour
5 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla
3 tsp cinnamon

Pour boiling water over cereals and raisins- set aside to cool. Cream oil, molasses and sugar. Add the buttermilk and eggs. Add flour with baking soda and then add to oil – stir in the softened & cooled bran mixture.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, cool on rack, eat warm, reheat in microwave, freeze muffins or the batter can be stored for 3 weeks in refrigerator. Yield: 6-8 dozen depending on how much you put into the muffin cups. I use just over 1/2 batter in each cup. These are heavy and do not puff up high. Please note if you want nuts chop them small and add in to the batter before you bake.

There is always a way to get seniors off the dime and make changes, sometimes it takes more than a nice please and moves into creative interaction. But I know you can do it, don’t give up – he was a guy blessed with a long time marriage to a lady that cooked up a storm. He is still grieving that loss through his food. When you look at like that the behavior seems more understandable. Bet you’ll be just as stubborn when you get older and are on your own – like father, like daugher they say. How kind it is for you to take so much time to bring him great meals, that is a very loving act.

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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Let’s Get Some Sleep- How To’s for Snooze

by francy Dickinson             www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy: I take care of my dad and my husband works odd hours. I am not sleeping, I feel like I sleep walk all day. Dad struggles to sleep at night too. I don’t want to take drugs, when I have to be ready to give Dad care at any time.

I totally understand I slept with a door bell in my bedroom for five years. Mother would ring when she needed me and most nights I would jump up and run down those stairs a least twice. But sleep has to be gotten for your own body repair. That is what happens when we sleep; we heal and repair and our mind rebuilds and so a good deep sleep is a must.

Before you read my tips think about your sleeping for a little while. When you can not sleep, there are usually a few reasons that are effecting the sleep pattern. Do you have pain or muscle discomfort at night? Are you worried about money or work issues? Do you have care of your Dad or children in the front of your mind when you go to bed? Are you eating or drinking foods that might make a difference in your sleep? Is your bed comfortable? Allergies or breathing problems hitting you during the night time? How about late night eating that leaves your stomach all upset and acid filled? All of these things can be a part of your problem and you may not have given it any thought, so think about your living patterns that will really help you find a solution to your sleepless nights.

Here are some tips:

  1. Bedrooms need to be dark to get deep sleep that brings you the most rest. Even if you get up to go to the bathroom or care for another person, you need to rest as deep as you can in between. But as we age our eyes do not do well in the dark when we are moving around. We want to avoid falls at all cost so low light plug-in night lights need to be placed in a couple areas leading the way to the door or bathroom. That means you need to buy and use a night eye shade. You can find them on-line at Esty a site that crafters make wonderful home made items like eye shades. These eye shades will darken your sleep and you can use them for naps or deep sleep at night and never worry about falls when you wake and walk around the bed.
  2. What can you do about the actual bed? Can you get a new mattress or mattress topper? Those wonderful memory foam tops are down in price and really give older mattresses the feeling of cozy comfort. Get new sheets, they come in high thread count now and you get a more silky feel to a cotton sheet. Or if elders feel cold get flannel sheets. Make sure the cover is just right, not too heavy. To much weight on your feet or legs keeps you moving around more at night. You can find new electric blankets that heat according to the body zone that is cold. The blanket actually feels your body heat and adjusts itself to your needs. Nice stuff. Then there is the pillow. How long have you had yours? Well shocking as it seems, sleep specialists say to replace your pillows every two years. So get some new pillows in your house. Throw the old ones out.
  3. Sitting up slightly for allergies and stomach problems. Acid stomachs and dripping sinuses love the wedge pillow that you can get to put on the bed and then put your pillows on top.This is a must for those that suffer from breathing problems, boy does it help. I use one – it keeps you up on an incline with comfort all nite.
  4. Turn off the TV and click on the radio with light music on a timer. This way you can have something to soothe your mind while you wind down, but not keep you up for hours of concentration with a movie or TV show. Force yourself to do it for a week, it takes a while to make changes.
  5. Clean your bedroom and make sure it’s free of dust and add an air filter for good breathing. You might want to buy a defuser that will put a mist of oils in the air for a few minutes before you sleep. I use peppermint and it clears my sinus and really lets me relax. Give it a try, aroma therapy is like a spa at home!
  6. If your bedroom is a mess and you clear a path to the bed or clear off the bed to sleep. Grow up! The world has changed you are no longer in Jr. High and you have to do a good clean up and throw away your clothes that do not fit in drawers or closets. How can you sleep with a mess around you? Your mind will not release that mess, it will be processing it all night long;  keeping you in a light rest, not deep sleep. Just do it-get it done and release the mess!
  7. No sleeping on the floor or couch! I am always amazed at how many people actually have a bed on the floor or sleep on their couch. This is a no no. Seniors or care givers need bedrooms that have a bed that is easy to stand and get out and in to. Make this a must. You can find inexpensive bed stands at thrift stores and blow up mattresses at big box stores. Many charities will provide beds for elders and those that are unwell. So do home work and get a good bed that works for you and your senior in care.
  8. Do some reading about supplements that you can take in the evening to relax you and help you rest. Get help with a muscle relaxer if you have aches or pains at night and add joint control pills to help this disappear.  Are you taking your medications and supplements in proper order? Some keep you awake so you do not want to take those at night. I made a error in giving my husband his blood pressure pills at night. They are water pills that made him go to the bathroom, so the poor guy was up and down all night because of my mistake. Learn from me, ask the pharmacist or doctor to review meds and figure out which work best for restful sleep at night. Some medications actually make you sleepy so those are great to take at night.
  9. Tuck your senior away for the night and get them as comfortable as possible. Do not let them take naps that are longer than 20-45 minutes in the day so they can sleep at night. Make sure they do the ideas above and have them do a little walking or stretching before they go to bed, so their body is relaxed and ready to rest. Put a commode in their room so they have a easy up and back to bed at night. Use the commode in the bedroom at night and then clean it and put it over the toilet during the day so the senior has handles to help them using the toilet.
  10. Mental worries can be calmed with journal writing or to do lists. I have done this for years. I keep a spiral notebook by my bedside and I write 3 things that bothered me about the day and 3 things that were enjoyable. It just allows my mind to work out personal problems. Then I do a to do list for the next day. I write down no more than 10 tasks and that removes the ideas from my mind. I now have the information on paper to release my brain from remembering to do things. It has worked so well for me that I have spread this around to many – who have found it a secret to their clear minds for deep sleep.
  11. Eating and drinking later in the evening can make a BIG difference in your sleep pattern. Two hours before you go to bed stop your fluids and food intake. That will help. But as early as dinner think of what you are eating and how it will go through your body and force gas, acids or loose stool in the middle of the night. Take it easy, have light foods for dinner and easy treats during your TV time. Put away the greasy foods, the chips at night and sodas that have caffeine. Be wise, if you have trouble sleeping make high power foods and drink your afternoon meal, not your evening meal.
  12. If you can not sleep do not lay there wide awake. Get up and walk around the house and work out your body pains. Sit in a chair and read or listen to music and just rest. Don’t do chores, or start a movie, do things that will allow your body to re-adjust and rest again. If you drink, drink a caffeine free drink and eat something light, like yogurt, pudding, toast or cheese. Sugar foods just give you energy and keep you from sleep, so try to keep your food intake small and easy. Then when you calm down again, return to your bedroom and tell yourself you are ready for sleep and it will come easier for you.
  13. If you suffer from leg cramps, stomach pain, breathing problems that cause heavy snoring – talk to your doctor about your body and your sleep. They have ideas that can help you and medications that are light to heavy and you will be able to get your body ready to rest at night.

Losing weight, exercising during the day, getting fresh air and eating good foods all make sleeping easier for you. But really the best ideas are usually the simple ones. You know your own body and your senior’s body and if you just think of sleep loss as a problem to be solved, you will find the answer. There is always a way, even if you take a nap while your senior takes a nap. You can get a friend or family to come in once a week so you can get a good afternoon of sleep. Or you can go and visit a close friend or family and take a good nap at their home without the stress of your home around you. You will be able to stop the no sleep pattern, just make it an issue to solve not just live through. You are doing a great thing helping your Dad, you deserve to be healthy and rested in your life. Your husband deserves to have you strong and rested, too!

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.

Sandwiched Mom Caregiver Squeezed with Stress

by francy Dickinson              www.seniorcarewithspiritl.com

Dear Francy; I am a single mom of twin teen boys and have my 85 yro dad here too. I work under time deadlines and my life is falling apart. I’m shaky, my voice is nasty all day, I feel sick to my stomach most days and I do not know how to escape?

Well, bad news…no escape – it’s called life in stress. Your body and emotions are trying to tell you they are on max so we need to reduce your stress. Bodies show the side effects of high stress. You will find that stress makes a boiling pot of toxins in your body and when the pot boils over the toxins begin to effect your body chemistry and that is bad. That ais when you shake and when you have an upset stomach and so much more like high blood pressure. So, number one WATER you just have to force yourself  to drown in water so the stress effects can be flushed away as much as possible. I know that adds extra duty to the bathroom, but you really have no choice if you want to come out of these few years of stress a healthy lady with your future – drink water till you drop!

Here are some tiny “kill stress” points to try to incorporate:

  1. WATER > Remember drinking will flush your system and just the act of taking a moment to drink interrupts the pressure points. So drink as much as you can. Do not count caffeine drinks in the mix they dehydrate and add garbage to the mix. You are trying to rinse out your insides and you do that with water with maybe a squeeze of lemon or a splash of fruit juice in the bottom of the glass. Buy a nice glass water container and take it where ever you work.
  2. BREATHING > you have to take time every hour on the hour to stand up and walk away from your work area or your kitchen area and just take a few deep breaths and then return and go back to it. Not a big break just little breaks that can keep you in a calmer state all day.
  3. STRETCHING >When you hit the floor in the morning, do not move– stretch like a cat. Just stretch out your body. No time for formal exercise, fine, but stretch. If you are standing in the kitchen making dinner do a back leg stretch or a side stretch- it will once again release the pressure on your muscles releasing stress.
  4. MASSAGE > if you stand all day then get yourself a foot bath with massage setting and before you hit the bed at night, fill it up and do a five to ten minute soak. If you stand or sit all day then you need a massage neck or back wrap and you would sit and turn it on for about 10-15 minutes while you are in your TV chair. You are telling your body, “I am relaxing and ready for bed now”– You will be able to release the muscle tention and get a deeper sleep.
  5. EYE SHADES > help keep your sleep dark and deep. Get in a habit of using them, you can find cute ones on Esty made by loving hands. They will keep the melatonin levels right and you will feel like you are on vacation in your own bed.
  6. MANICURE/PEDICURE > some times a treat for yourself is just the ticket to make your mind feel loved and relaxed. Stop into a local shop and get your feet done each month and add your fingers when you have extra time. It will pay you back triple the money you pay for the pampering services. Its not a day spa or Maui but it is pampering girl stuff in a all guy household.
  7. PLAN AHEAD>Make days very easy to remember. Sit down with yourself and plan. Do not live day to day. Planning can be broken and re written but it will give you a sense of being in charge, not being a victim of life. So Make Monday your laundry day and let the family know that it is and the dinner is simple tacos. Make Tuesday boys vacuum and do the garbage and your dad folds laundry, you have a slow cooker meal so it is easy. Give yourself one mid week TV nite and at least one day of family on the weekend. Figure it out by drawing it on paper. This way, you will have your shopping list in order, your household tasks in order and your biz work in order. It will release you of constant worry over where you are and what you have to get done.
  8. RULES > make rules that are real for your 3 men. Tell them one is in charge of this, the other that and your Dad this…make it tasks that are easy for them to learn or do, but will release you of some of the everyday tasks. Tell them you are feeling stressed out and worried about your own health. Being honest with young children and seniors is so important. Life is not about them, it is about all of you. So tell them you need help and they can all do that if they would just make sure their main task is done each week for the family. Then do not do that task. If the garbage build up, there is a reaction of no $ or treats for that son…if your dad refuses to load the dishwasher he can eat his least favorite food for a couple of days without dishes. Life has to have rules and you have to set them with real meaning.
  9. TO DO LIST > Each night do a fast 10 item to do list. It will organize your thoughts, it will tuck your worry away for the night. Then remember to cross of your to do list tasks. It is very important that you see that you have gotten task done. Busy people tend to feel they have never gotten anything done in a days work. That is not true, it is just that one task fades into another and you feel like the chores are never ending. Your mind needs to be rewarded, cross through your task done so you can really see your success each day. Task not done can go into the next day…who cares, it all works out in the end. The point is you are on top of things to do for the three guys and yourself and work. That list will take out the stress of what to do next deadline you live on at this time.
  10. BREAK >You have to have a break and even if it is every two weeks or once a month, you need to have a glass of wine with a girlfriend, a movie with a cousin, a dinner with someone from work. It may seem like a silly waste of time and energy, but your time to laugh, giggle, think goofy thoughts, talk creative and adult conversations and complain about your life is totally important to your good health and will erase a lot of stress.
  11. LOVING YOURSELF when you are in the middle of care giving it is hard to think…I love me. But loving is not just giving it is keeping you as strong as you can be so you can be the center of the wheel in your home and the care giving that do for your sons and dad. You need to be strong first, so eat well, drink, stretch, rest, give yourself pesonal treat time and most of all – treat yourself as you would treat another family member or friend – love YOU

You are the fibre of our life in the US. Busy people, running around caring for our children, working hard, caring for our parents and family…how great is that? So give yourself a pat on the back, you are not out there doing nothing you are at home and in the community- working hard and I appreciate what you are doing. I just want to make sure that there’s a you in there that comes out the other side in a few years, when your sons are out of college and your dad has passed —- you need to still be here strong and healthy with us. You need to know you will have the rest of your life. Take care now to life strong and long.

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.

Alzheimer’s Confused with Too Much Change

francy Dickinson                             www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy;My husband is starting to forget who I am, he seems to be able to do tasks and is comfortable, but occasionally he asks me if I come in every day? We are leaving for a week to our cabin and I am hoping some rest away from the house will calm him and help.

I can understand your hurt feelings with your husband’s confusion. There is nothing as frightening as the stage of Dementia/ Alzheimer’s that moves the mind into forgetting close loved ones. I do also understand that one day he may be confused to the max and the next day he may be clear and able to function quite well. You are on track with knowing that keeping him calm and rested can help – but the change of pace to the cabin is not the answer.

Here are some tips to keep Dementia/Alzheimer’s at their maximum clear and calm:

  1. Clear your home of clutter. Your mind can view a room and see the couch, the chair and the front door. But a mind that is confused with dementia sees all the little things on the same level or as just as important as the big things in the room.  Like the foot stool, the table, the papers on the floor, the coffee cup and dessert plate on the table are all on par with the favorite chair and the TV. It’s a different view of the same room. Your job- pare down your clutter around the house. So when a dementia senior is sitting in the room their mind can rest, not be constantly moving from item to item.
  2. Clean up kitchen cabinets, make the cabinet for glasses and cups just that – glasses and cups. It is easier for them to remember what is in the cupboard and then when they open the cupboard what they were looking for is right there. A bottle of aspirin or cup filled with toothpicks will take the dementia mind off of their need for a glass and they will often close the cupboard and forget their task.
  3. Remove anything that could harm the dementia senior. Extra medications- get them out of the easy to find area. If you have been storing your pills in the bathroom cabinet, remove them. You do not want your senior to take your pills in a moment of confusion. Just like you protect toddlers from medications or anything that could harm them, you need to protect the dementia senior, too.
  4. Remove things from the kitchen table, it’s a place to eat, not store bills and papers. Once again, the dementia mind can take one task or chore at a time. To keep their mind active and working well keep the table a place to rest the mind, eat and talk. Not a place filled with boxes, papers and confusion. Clean the area and the mind will rest and see the table as a relaxing place, not a place for them to be distracted with other tasks and not want to eat.
  5. 1-2 days out a week. It depends on how advanced the dementia is for your senior, but going out and about is fine for a day or two a week. It is not good on a daily basis. Take a few days at home, then a day out. Make the day out simple tasks and low people contact. Dementia mind can get tired very easily, what the senior could do last year, is not what they can do today. Keep them down to a short trip with familiar sights. Would you take a toddler out for four hours of running around and then to a big birthday party? NO, it would be way to much for them to handle, that is now the same way your dementia senior is thinking.
  6. Trips to the cabin, to visit family in another city, sightseeing, new places, new people they are all very confusing. Dementia does best with people, places and things that are repeated each day and feel safe. My husband has a sister in Oregon and children in California, he often says he wants to go and visit. On his last visit he got lost and he took about three weeks to calm down and be able to sleep and have good days on his return. Our days of travel are over; his daily routine and happiness are far more important to me than trips to say hi that pull him out of his security zone. I know that retirement means visiting and travel, but dementia means that the mind functions better with familiar and safe surroundings.
  7. Limit the people contact to friends, family and neighbors. George does so well in his daily life, then last month I took him to a family memorial for my cousin. He walked into a church he had never been, surrounded by people he rarely saw and he just blanked out. He was confused, upset, did not know immedite family members and was a fish out of water. We left as soon as possible and did not go to the family home event. I took him out to a quiet lunch, changed the subject to talk about something we do everyday and we went home. I got him calm and in his chair and listening to a new audio-book on his MP3 player. I made an error in judgement, I did not think about his comfort zone and he suffered for it. I should have gone to the memorial by myself and so I have learned a lesson. My life with my husband by my side has now changed and I have to understand and learn to accept that fact, not with joy, but with inner strength.
  8. Keep like with like. If the drawer is for knives, keep it knives, if the pot is for pens and pencils keep it that way. No mixing, no putting off items in with other items. They will be forever lost to you and your dementia senior. Repeat over and over again. Cell phones charges by the entry door. Keys go in the bowl on the counter. One day George will not remember any of those details, but for now while he is in mid stage Alzheimer’s he is comforted by repeated tasks and repeated placement of items he uses often like his cell phone and MP3 player. George lost his garage door opener and we have not found it, I know it is tucked away in an odd place somewhere, but where? I have become quite the cleaning girl now, but it has paid off for me to get rid of items that have not been used in ages and are of no meaning to George.
  9. Doctor told me his dementia patients do better longer when the senior keeps their weight in a healthy range. Alzheimer’s medications often have a side effect of reducing the appetite and the senior starts to not remember or want to eat. So, I have added a routine of 3 meals around the same time each day. I have added desserts back into our life, so there is homemade cookies, pies and cakes ready for his snacks. Yogurt, applesauce and puddings for taking pills. Ensure and Boost for adding protein when he has not eaten lunch. I keep him on schedule and he responds with better eating and better days. If I am busy, out of the house, not feeling well myself – then he goes off his schedule, he forgets to eat and his pills are left on the counter. That is a lot of pressure for me, but I try my best and move on if the day has not worked out well. Life is not perfect and I have to live too.
  10. George needs rest, some days he rests all day, some days he is up and ready for life early. A man made for schedules -is no longer on schedule, I just know I give him his meds and food no later than 9AM so they go to work to help him feel calm and comforted during his day. If he stays in bed after the meal, fine – I will then continue my day and the next day he is up and at um. I ride with life, but I try to stick to the schedule and routine so George feels the days in order and is able to adjust his mind easily to an important day. Because dementia means that each day is important, the next day may be of less abilities and less memory, so today is the day to tackle and enjoy.

I think the fact of the spouse or family of a dementia/Alzheimer’s senior has the ability to give the senior a full and rich life – is a big thing. On certain days it overwhelms me. I try to keep my mind focused on today, to deal with whatever today brings my way. I try to make little jokes about forgetting where George’s coffee cup is ( it has become a continual struggle to find it during the day.) I tell him how much I love him, all day long. If he forgets, I remind him- he is loved. I tell him how nice he looks, how well he did a task and how great it is he finished his meal and brought me the plate. I make a point to touch him and dance with him around the kitchen. I even squeeze his hand or kiss him in public – just to keep him connected. Lately, I stop on a dime and ask him to give me a hug or a kiss, he does it with love – but not without my request. I give him constant reassurance I am here for him and I am not leaving. Each month our life changes, his mind changes and we have to readjust to his new challenges. I get frightened of the changes ahead, so I try hard to deal with the daily change and stay on a pattern and routine that brings my own feeling of safety and comfort as well as George’s.

I know you are feeling very similar things, and I know that tears and heartache are close to the surface of your daily life. But we can do it, we can escort our loved ones on this journey and still be a functioning person at the end. We can find honor and love in our senior even on their worst days and we can find peace and calm in our own hearts in midst of total chaos around us. We are stronger than we ever knew and I am proud of myself and of you.

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 Home from Hospital, I Need Help!

by francy Dickinson                 www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear francy: Mother is home from a 8 day hospital stay – then she was in the care facility for 20 days. She was still too weak to go to her home so I have her here in our guest bedroom. I am not a nurse, I’m a crossing guard at our local school and I have no idea what to do now?

Well you have just joined the club of many children and spouses that are suddenly faced with care giving and no prior experience to guide them. First, try to stay calm and just know that a lot of things will hit you at once so you need to really stay organized and write things down as you go to make it easier. Keep a spiral notebook for your mom’s care and that will be your bible in the days ahead. I have written a how to book that will help you with the care giving but here is a list of things to do just to get started:

AFTER HOSPITAL CARE TIPS:

  1. Ask questions, the care facility will help you. Ask them if medicare will send in a home care nurse? This in home help is so wonderful. It will be someone to ask questions and to follow their lead with care ideas. Most cities have a few care companies that you can call and ask them if their services are covered with medicare and your mom’s insurance. Ask them what services they have for you and then pick what ever you can afford. Min. have a bath lady once a week, that gives you a break and keeps your mom clean. Your mom will be weak and hard to bath at first- so you will appreciate this service more than you know.
  2. Call the doctor’s office and “make” them talk to you. Ask them what state your mother is in? Ask them to review her needs and how long it will take to get her back to independence, or if she ever will be able to live on her own again? You need to know this. If you are going to take care of her for a month or for years, you need to know. You do not want to have your mother’s things in an apartment for months with rent being paid, if she will never return to the apartment. That money could be used with you to care for her.
  3. Get your mom’s health care directive and power of attorney in place so you can help her make decisions on her health. Plus you can pay her bills and care for her money in her time of confusion. You can get her home ready for sale or her apartment contract adjusted if she has to leave her residence permanently. You can then make a decision for her to be in a long term care facility, retirement community, etc. This is the legal part that has to be done so do not put it off. It may seem like caring for her is just nursing stuff, but it is not…it is all the business of her life that will need help. I have all of the business info in my workbook for you.
  4. Ask for help, if your mom does not have any money and you have very little yourself, get the state to come in and give you advice on how they could help her. She may be able to go on state care or Veterans care and get home help. That way she could return home sooner, or you could take a class and become the legal caregiver and the state would pay you to care for her. You will not know until you call Human Services for Elders and find out what is what in your local area.
  5. Make things easy for yourself; keep her room easy to walk around, remove small rugs and extra furniture. That way you’re able to move around with wheelchairs and walkers. You can set up a commode and a table for her medications and other care items.
  6. Get your mother tucked in when you leave the house. Get her a cell phone added onto your account and have her practice pressing a button that will call you. Make sure she goes to the toilet, is fed and has her meds before you leave the house. Leave her with a small lunch cooler with a protein drink, yogurt and water inside for her to have by her chair. Move her commode into the sitting room she will be using so her movements are limited.
  7. Ask family or neighbors to come and check on her when you are gone. Think in your mind about what could happen while you are gone and then cover all the basis. If you take time off from work, then know for how long. Maybe your mom will only need a good two weeks of care before she is up and moving around on her own. But if it is longer, then what will you do? No matter how hard it is, you have to have a couple of plans of actions so you are not losing your job and income just to help your mother. Make calls, get a couple of plans in place and find people to help you.
  8. Home nursing may not be your experience but it is a lot like caring for a young child. Keep things easy, very clean, and be solid on giving her medications and good food on time. She will have to move to be independent, so she needs to be walking with your help. Exercise, eating, medications on time…that is what will start to build her up again.
  9. Keep kids and long visits out of your mother’s life while she is trying to heal. You do not want her to get a cold or be so tired she gets weaker. Be strong with visits; no kids – 20 minutes- no smoking -only lite conversation-no one sick.  Keep it light and happy or no visits at all!
  10. Keep yourself eating and sleep even if it’s naps in the afternoon. Running to care for someone and adding that to your already busy life is very hard. So, say NO to everything else but the basics in your life and stick to it. Take one of those protein drinks and have it at lunch time for yourself, as well as your mother. Keep yourself strong – you will be living for two people for a while.
  11. Baby monitor, intercom, or remote door bell system, they will all serve you well so you know when your mother needs immediate care.
  12. Your mother may have a special diet to follow, but if not think easy. Think easy to chew, swallow, and digest with her food. Make soups in your crockpot & scrambled eggs before you leave for work. Give her jello, yogurt, puddings and fruit with cottage cheese. Soft foods and easy to digest foods. Her bowels will be off with all the medications and odd foods she has been having. If she has a strange food craving say NO if you feel it will be unwise, or give her a very small amount. No raw veggies or salads those are hard for her to process. Good fruit juices and smoothies are the ticket at first. Watch the dairy products do not over do those and if she is a coffee girl, get her some decaf and keep it an afternoon treat – once a day. She has to have water, so put a little fruit juice in her water so she will drink more than a few sips.
  13. Know and understand her drugs. What is this for, is it for long term or just for her recovery? Ask how to add stool softeners or yogurt for help with the side effects of antibiotics. Go over to the drug store with her medications and they will review them for you and you can write it down and get a weekly pill container that has morning and nite pills. This will make pill time easier.
  14. Remember that open wounds mean extra care, it could turn into a disaster MRSA probem. So, learn how to stay so clean you are squeaky. Wash your hands each time you enter and leave your mother’s care area. Use bleach wipes to go over all surfaces in care area. Keep the care products on a very clean surface so everything stays sterile. Keep the bathroom she is going to use clean to the point of exhaustion. Use a good cleaning solution like a bleach mixture and wipe off counters, toilets, bath, floor and keep it clean, clean, clean.
  15. Wash her clothing separately and in hot water with oxygen cleaner as well as soap. Do not throw her clothing on the floor, put the soiled clothes in a hamper or plastic bag to ready for wash. Do her wash at least twice a week – even if it’s a small wash. Make sure your things and her’s do not touch. You are now Miss Klean
  16. If she is not walking get her up. She can hold on to her walker and you can follow with the wheelchair behind her. Or you can get a waist band that helps the senior stand and walk by you putting it around their waste and then holding on to it, to give them extra steady help. Have her do the PBS- Sit and Stretch. It’s an easy exercise program that will help anyone recover muscles. You can get the program’s DVD’s at your local library.
  17. Swallowing, talking, transition, walking problems? Those need a physical therapy person trained in that area. Ask the doctor and he will write an Rx and those folks can come in to the home or you go to them. It will make a huge difference. They will show you how to help your mom. Good stuff, therapy sessions!
  18. If your mom is really weak and unable to stand without help. You need to learn how to transfer her from sitting to standing, to walking position. Ask for help, a nurse or therapist will instruct you how to do that without hurting your back. It is amazing how easy it can be if you know how. If your mother takes a fall, do not try to pick her up. Call 911 and tell them you need assistance with a fall and the fire department will send EMS services to transfer her and check to make sure she does not need hospital services.
  19. Are you ready if your mother is at the end of her life? Have you talked about her wishes and her health care wishes, and her funeral wishes? Can you sit down and have that talk? If not, ask a chaplain to come and ask her for you. Get it done, if she recovers you can file the information away for a future time.
  20. If you understand what is happening with your mother, what is wrong with her, what part of her mind or body is effected by her condition – you will be able to do research on the Internet and ask the doctor questions to get help with good care. Be strong with your voice and your questions. Understanding what your mother needs is number one, from there you, your family, your friends, your care giving professional can all work together to help put humpty dumpty back together again. If you do not ask, or demand answers you will suffer as much if not more than your mother during the recovery. Giving care is not hard, if you know what to expect – it is the unknown that bothers all of us, so ask questions and learn as much as you can when you are around any professional.

You are doing a service of love, thank you. Most of us will be there at one time or another. It is lonely and I would like to be here for you as you move through the care of your senior. Sharing your fears, frustrations, and hurt feelings will allow you to recover and give your mother good care and positive energy with your love.

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.

Seniors Need Goals to Live Strong

by francy Dickinson                  www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; Mom was holding on to make it to the holiday, now she’s heading downhill. What can I do to keep her spirits up?

No matter where the senior is in their health challenges – positive thought patterns are the key to a life of quality. No one wants to just exist through life, we all want to live and live strong. Keeping those that are limited to a home, care facility or just limited in their out and about movements means their mental health is going to add to the physical health care problems.

Here are some ideas to keep the senior’s mind up and ready for their day:

  1. A Daily Goal is set each morning by the care giver for the senior. This is a small thing that is very personal per client, but really important. It takes creativity on the care givers part, but you will be repaid with the senior looking forward to a day instead of dreading it. Short term daily goals?
    A walk outside, a special food treat, a special show on TV, a call made to an old friend or family member in the afternoon, a hair cut, nail care, foot rub, neck message, flowers from the yard, etc. I alwasy state the goal in the morning and make the goal for afternoon or evening.
  2. Longer goal is the weekly goal. I always set this goal to make sure each week has a flavor and does not get lost in boredom.
    Pick decor for the week in the room, a special event that is coming up like a golf, tennis or music event on TV. A rental movie that reflects the seniors tastes, or a SKYPEsession with a long distance relative, or a grand child’s birthday card to send.
    What ever the goal. I have it written in large letters on the door so the senior sees it as they go out to the bathroom during the day. This is so successful for me, that I found a difference in the seniors emotional state almost immediately.
  3. Once a month outing. Now once a senior gets quiet, weak or unwell, going out is hard to do. But making a monthly get out day is important if at all possible. I try not to make this day on a doctor day, but if you have to, make sure you take it easy, doctor days are very tiring. Ideas?
    Drive through or around a local park, drive through and get a burger or ice cream, park and watch children play at park while eating a sandwich, eat out at local restaurant that is quiet so the senior can hear, visit the senior center, wheel them through the mall or walmart or dollar store, stop at food specialty shop for treats like German sausage or local grown cherries, update their cell phone, buy new around house clothing, buy new slippers, buy small hand held game withblackjack just for their fun time, get their toes done at a nail salon, get them a milkshake. Wheel them through a street fair, local fair or garage sale. Walk the senior with the dog and enjoy the moment around the lake or neighborhood.
  4. Seasons, so many folks that care for seniors get so involved in that care that they forget the seasons. Seasons are made for us to adjust and to take note of the year’s movement. Getting out to see the fall leaves, summer sun, winter snow or spring bulbs blooming is a must. If not bring those things into the world of the senior, have a seasonal theme some where in their room or sitting area. Let the senior become part of the season so they stay connected to the world.
  5. Big Event & Holidays. Seniors love holidays, so make them as special as you can and plan ahead so they become something to look forward to. Maybe the 4th of July is only watching the fireworks on TV and a slick of watermelon, but it is different then the day before. So make the best of it. If you plan on gong out make it easy. We have a small community with a short parade on the 4th. I used to take mother over there and sit her on the walkway and we would watch the kids past and the horses and old cars go by. She loved it, I would always get her ice cream and drive home. No staying long, no big crowd, no big event that she would get lost in, just easy breezy stuff. We have family events, birthdays and holidays to keep us busy on a monthly basis. Something to goal toward and be involved in. Maybe the senior will not attend the birthday or Christmas Eve dinner, but they can plan for it. I always made mother’s special shrimp salad for events and showed her the salad and then the family member would stop by for it and she would give it to them. She felt she was part of the event even when she did not make the salad or leave her sitting room. I get small gifts at the dollar store and use those for grand children or neighbor gifts, I find some young child that is close (maybe a child of the bath lady that visits) and the gift is given to them. Giving, even on a budget, makes everyone feel good. Holiday events can be exhausting for seniors, but visiting a home to see the Christmas decor and tree ahead of the holiday is low key and fun. Having the Halloween kids come and show the senior their costumes is great, and putting out an Easter basket with easy to chew treats for the senior is still a fun thing to do.

Keeping the patient involved and looking forward to life around them. That is the key…allowing them to just concentrate on thier pain, problems and sadness of their life is pointless. It all starts with the family and care givers, so perk yourself up. Raise up your voice tones when you enter your senior’s room. Search out funny stories, do not share your stories about a lost dog or boy friend just out of jail, that is toooo much information. Keep your conversation lite and enjoyable because you are the only contact for the senior to the outside world on most days. You are the key to making care, up or down. If the senior is bitter and nasty no matter what you do? Than get them into the doctor and let the doctor know they are displaying a high level of depression and anger. Life is to be lived, not survived. and you as a family member and care giver are the key – all it takes is your kindness and creativity. Not perfection, just persistence – with a smile.

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 blogsto 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.

It’s Not a Food Bargain if it Moves!

by francy Dickinson                                www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear francy; Dad and I got back from the $ store with lots of bargains. I fixed his dried soup for lunch and before I got it in front of him, I noticed it was moving! Yuck!

Yes, that is a nasty thought and here we are all so proud of our ideas to save money for our seniors. So, I have a few tips on how to save and still be safe for seniors and care givers, too!

  1. Get a small magnifier. I have one that I wear around my neck when I shop. Those food packages have very small print and you need to see what you are buying. Check for out of date and out of country labels.
  2. I do not buy dollar toothpaste if it comes from China. It has been reviewed very badly in the news. The toothpaste has normal well known labeling, but has ingrediants that might be strange. So, keep eyes and ears open for those “shopping bewares” in the news.
  3. $ store is such a great place to shop, but you need to remember that a $ for a can of fruit is not a deal. You can find it cheaper on sale at the grocery store. So, know your prices. A $ for a sealed bag of cookies, is a good deal. A $ for spices that can be $5+ is a good deal. Really shop and learn the different $ stores in your area. I love them, but I read, read, read when I shop. I just got a bag of coffee filters that saved me $4 – too fun!
  4. Shopping can really tire anyone out. So I have a once a month $ store run, not every week. I get my greeting cards there and put them away for the month’s birthdays. I buy a few food items that I have checked out and make my regular. I buy personal items like soap and deodorant. I get small gifts for grand kids and party items if I need them. Then I am out of there for the rest of the month.
  5. I love using box stores. But once again, I get tired- walking with my bad back- so I go to them on a limited basis. Our Wal Mart does not have a grocery store, but it has a few basic food items that I love to buy and save big. Like cereal, eggs, milk and some canned items on special. I get my Rx list there with the low generic prices and then I always buy my paper products and house cleaning items. Once a month means I need to shop with a list.
  6. A list, if you do not list your needs, you are much smarter than I am. I can not keep my personal needs and the needs of my senior in my mind. I make a list at home. I have a big $ next to items to buy at the $ store, a W for my box store items, a star next to coupon items and then I write down my needs for the month.
  7. I have a basic 14 day plan for meals for my family and my senior’s family. If I work in two places, I need to be organized and it saves me money. At least 2 times a week my own dinners are used as the senior’s dinner. I just make a good quanity of soup, stews, slow cooker meals, etc and then share them with my senior. That cuts their budget and the saving on the double cooking  time makes me happy.
  8. Coupons are a great way to save. Some folks love them – some don’t. Even if you do not dedicate yourself  to coupons, be sure you look at the store flier before you shop. They post them on the wall of the store. It will point out items you will want to buy on sale.
  9. I have long made coupons a senior project. I get the newspapers and fliers in the mail and my seniors do the viewing and cutting out and then we file them together and talk about the meal planning. Some times you get a double saving and lots of times you can buy foods that you rarely buy because it is on such a good bargain. Look for new food items, they often give those away to get you to try them. Online coupon sites can really help you learn more about coupon use.
  10. I always take my senior to a coffee shop or lunch when we do the food shopping. It means we get time together, they are out of the house and we both rest after the walk around those huge grocery stores. I have a couple chain restaurants that I get online coupons from to help us in our lunch budget. Shari’s is a favorite for us, they have a special Honor Card that gives you a free meal after you gather enough points. They also have online coupons for free pie, or 2 for 1 lunch and dinners. Makes eating out more fun when you save!
  11. Ask and look for senior discounts, just know it only makes sense to offer all of us a savings. Seniors have a good income to spend, even if we are on budgets we are a big part of sales income for the business world. We are loyal buyers and they know that, so they offer us coupons or senior specials to keep our loyality. That will help us save at least $10-$30 dollars a month. Hardware stores, lower gas rates and free coffee with your meals – all of those are just for the asking if they have a “senior discount”
  12. Senior Center meals. Each area has a senior center and often they offer free or discount meals. When you arrive they often have something free to hand out to you. From bread products to coffee samples, it makes it fun to have a free treat basket, so check it out in your area.
  13. Bakery outlets, do you have one close to you? Or maybe a canned goods store. Some of the larger areas have outlets to sell their items that have been cleared from the grocery store shelves or are what is called “end items” These are great places for deals, but not for the senior to visit without a friend to be with them. They are often hard to move around the store and they can really confuse and tire you. So, this is a once a month or every few months trip. The savings is not worth it if you have to rest for two days after your shopping.
  14. Odd places have surprise savings. Our small local hardware store has flowers and garden items for a great price. So, I always do a planted pot for my seniors. It is not a big garden, but a welcome note at their door step or off their patio door.
  15. Local fruit markets. If you are able to wander around your local farmers market is a great outdoor escape in the summer. They have fresh from garden produce and good prices, plus they support local growers. Good stuff to go there and think of it as a trip out, not just shopping.
  16. Nothing is a bargain if you over buy. Large containers of food, or dozens of something is great for a big, growing family…not a senior on a buget. Buy what you need for a couple of weeks, not for a year.
  17. Rule: before you go shopping clean out your cupboards and refrigerator. Get rid of that old and unused food. Does your senior still bake? No? Clear out the baking goods that are old. Does your senior eat ice cream not that they are on a low sugar diet? Throw away those old frozen items- If your senior is not good with left overs, throw them out. Food that is not eaten on time is dangerous. You have to have a void to fill it- so clean and clear before you shop.

Well I hope some of these ideas help on your trip to getting more on your already smaller budget. Buy wise, make lists, remember senior discounts and coupons, buy what you really eat and use. Happy Shopping!

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.