How to move a senior into smaller housing and keep them happy…francy
Dear Francy; I moved my Grandma into an assisted living. She had been in her family home for forty-two years. The change was hard and she argued with us all through the move.She is now in her new studio apartment. She is unhappy, lonely and her health is going down hill. How can I help her with the transition?
New Surroundings for a Senior are Hard to Handle
First, you can just allow her to be calm and adjust. It will not happen in a week or a month, it will take a while for her to get into the swing of not having her things around her and giving up her privacy. Make sure you,or someone you appoint, goes to visit her each week. Make a plan of action before you go and bring a little something to brighten the senior’s space and fits into the season. Let her feel your sincerity and forget the hurt feelings…they will happen. The point is; you go forward and you keep the dialog open — your Grandmother can not change her situation and you have to respect her upset and continue your support of her.
Make Plans before the Move
Almost all seniors eventually have to move from their family home. Yes, if they are well to do and have a good income they can stay there longer…but most senior men and woman face this change, at a hard time in their lives. So, have your “open ears” on as you visit and care for them. Listen to what they love and and ask about different things in the house. Is there a special family picture they feel closer to than others?. A picture of a time in life that they want to remember forever. Is there a special chair or table they have had for years and enjoy? What do they do each day that they enjoy? Does your Dad still go out to the garage where his tools are, maybe just to stand there in comfort? Does your Grandma still enjoy making cookies or fixing coffee for you when you arrive? Does your Grandpa read about the war years and have books around him? Does your Mom water her houseplants and talks about missing her big garden? Take notice–write your self a few notes for the future.
Ideas for the Change
If you don’t really know your senior well…talk to a friend or older family member and ask them. “What do you think that Grandma would really want to see on the wall or have around her everyday when she moves?” Get input. I have a case that the senior was a hoarder and her two sons took her out of her small home to rescue her and place her into a clean and safe assisted living. But they did not bring anything of hers…no pictures no chair, not even clothes. Now, I get the frustration of that special situation but you have to keep the comfort of the senior in your mind.They are making the last move of their lives…they need things to ease them into that situation. The opposite can happen if you try to crowd a studio apartment with too much stuff….so just take time to think it over.
- Take pictures of the old house. Inside and out. If the senior is home sick you can bring your laptop over and show her a nice slide show of her home and her rooms. Close up of pictures on the wall of all the family and inside closet shots of things the senior may miss. You do not have to rub their noses in their past life…but you can have it ready for them, if they need it.
- Just because they leave their old bedroom behind for a hospital bed in a small room…does not mean you can not take their bed spread, quilt or favorite pillow or throw. Comfort for an elder is sleeping, so having things on their bed that reminds them of safety and their old home is very helpful.
- Sort over clothes by season. Only take clothes that are clean and in good shape. Divide them into large air compression bags or nice see through storage boxes. Keep them in your garage and each season take their clothes over to them…take out the winter items from their closet and take them home to launder and put dryer sheets in the box to keep them smelling fresh. Add a few new pieces of clothing like fresh undies and shoes for the season. That way they have changing wardrobe in a small closet.
- Take a favorite family photo and one of just their spouse and have them blown up. You can do this on the net or at a local copy shop. Blowing up photos to good size posters keeps the room feeling clear but filled with memories…it will allow them to see the photo well and have something sweet to remember their children, grand children and spouse.
- Get nice new sheets and then towels for the bathroom and keep a hanging kit for their shaving things or their make-up. Yes, even elders want to feel fresh and look good when they go down to the group dinner table.
- Bring their favorite chair or side table from home. If they are having problems with standing; you can get them a mechanical recliner that raises and lowers with a push button, but you can keep their old tapestry pillow for their back and a throw from the house for their lap. Make sure a small chair for guests is there too.
- If ladies miss cooking a safe toaster for them to make toast or warm up pop-ups at least gives them a feeling of cooking. A nice mug or tea cup from home and thermos or tea pot…those things mean a lot to a senior.
- A tall table to put a plant on and bring in a long time loved orchard or houseplant in a special pot gives gardeners a feeling of green. Don’t forget a small measuring cup to water the plant.
- Nothing wrong with a small work bag filled with small tools for dad…there may be an emergency and he would need a wrench…or it might just make him feel safe to have it close by.
- Donate old books to the library at the senior facility so your senior can still visit and enjoy their books.
- “Ott lites” give high power light to those that love to do handiwork like knitting or crochet…and higher power readers or jeweler’s magnifier are great so they can still enjoy an long time hobby. The new craze of adult coloring books are also a fun treat. Its easy to find a lap desk that goes over the chair arms so they have their things right in place for comfort.
- Bring a basket from home for all of their “little” things. Nail files, lip balm, pens and small notebooks, address book, small scissors and flashlight, etc. This goes on the table by their comfort chair. Remember the key is to keep the room looking clean and clear so the senior and cleaning staff have a calm vision. But inside the basket can be a collection of items that we all need to have on hand.
- Don’t forget a small drawer unit for emergency storage of personal things. Like band-aids, itch cream, Vaseline, Bengay, and simple relief meds like gas pills, diarrhea pills etc. These are personal things…if you mark the drawer with vitamins, creams, first aid…the senior can store little tubes of this and that needed with privacy. These are found in box stores by Sterilites small 3-drawers.I use them for my own things and love their size and ease of use.
- Jewelry and expensive art can be stolen in public housing…so make sure there are ways to note that your Grandma has her wedding ring on and your Grandpa has his silver golf award on his table. Just ask the staff how to handle that sort of thing so the senior can be safe and still enjoy something they cherish.
- There are never any rules that you can not put your own web-cam in the room to check out your senior’s care when you are not there. Small nanny cams are available and allow you to see the seniors room from afar. This is a great way for family from out of town…can rest assured that their senior is safe and receiving good care.
- Teach your senior about their cell phone and how to use it. So they can have a camera and face to face talks with their kids and grand kids. They need to know how to charge it and how to take it with them. In a special lanyard holder around their neck so they can walk with their walker and not leave their phone behind…or in a cross body bag…or on a special holder that recharges and keeps the phone at hand by their comfort chair. Seniors can use gadgets…they just need reminders and patience in teaching them how to use them and find enjoyment…not fear over making mistakes with them.
- Get to know the staff and help the senior make friends and become involved in gentle ways with the social side of the assisted living. Maybe they will not attend all the events…but choosing a few things that will hit their interest button may mean you coming over and taking them to the meeting the first time. Easing them into a new life-style takes time and patience…reach down and find it within yourself so the senior can feel your strength and love.
I know you can do this…it’s just a hard time and hard decisions have to be made. But making those decisions so they are for the best of the senior is key. This helps keep it in perspective and makes it smoother for all of you. Giving love to a senior that has now lost friends, dear family members, possibly a spouse and or children…their end of life issues are raw…so your patience and understanding is a big deal. You always there smiling, always there even in quiet…is a gift. I thank you for your giving…as I have experienced my own losses lately…having friends and family to just talk and walk me through scary times…feels like you are surrounded by angels.
Thank you for your care giving…francy
Grandma can not afford her medications…Help! by francy Dickinson
Dear Francy; I am taking care of my mother, her medications have gone up so high that I am paying $900+ to keep them on the shelf….I cannot afford this…what can I do?
OK, I am right here with you….I did the same thing for my mom. The problem was I thought I could afford it so I took money out of my own savings. The catch? I did not know she would live for so long with me and I did not know my husband would become ill and need my full-time care. You can not see the future. So I was unable to work outside of the home and it took a sad toll on my personal needs. PLEASE, do some home work and see if you can change this pattern right away!
TIPS TO SAVE Rx EXPENSES:
- Step One is to “talk” to someone. You have choices depending on where you live.Some times there is a “Senior Care” phone line that is local or your local senior center will have a list of people that counsel on these type of matters. Next, your local hospital. I love this; they have a Social Services Expert on staff that you can go and get guidance from. They do not solve problems but they send you in a direction that is really helpful. Then the last is a medicare insurance person that sells supplemental insurance. These people sell different policies and they can review and suggest a change in medical and prescription changes that fit your needs with a supplement insurance that has pre listed the medications they cover and how much they assist you in each medication price.
- Talk to Medicare; some life-sustaining treatments and drugs are covered completely by Medicare and because that is a complicated thing…I can not advice you on your personal circumstance. But you can call them and they will assist you in what is and what is not covered. Make sure your senior has the drug extension on their medicare program. I have read a lot lately about those who say you do not need Part D or supplemental insurance for drug coverage…and I have asked my experts and talked about this point recently. It is not true. You need to have Part D and you need to know how to use it and keep it working for you.
- HOMEWORK Know that reviewing the coverage of a medicare supplemental insurance is not easy to do. But you have to do it. Because you have a time each year to make a change without any financial penalty and this is the time to know that you are getting the most for your coverage. You come into Social Security and Medicare a younger person with few medical problems so the supplemental insurance has little worries for you. You would just choose the one that was the least expensive or ignore it altogether. But…Its when you age and find yourself with medical problems that are more and more complicated that you need the proper medial supplemental insurance and it becomes a big deal! Know that you can change your program as you need to change it…you may want a health co-op or a simple supplement program. Your community senior center will have free-classes each year to go and learn. There are also classes on how to use Medicare itself. I go to the these classes and I learn so much. It does not have to be overwhelming.
- Letter to Doctor..alert the doctors that treat your mother and tell them she is unable to afford the medications without your help and you can no longer afford to help her. Ask them to please help you review her medications for things she really needs…not just preventative medications. Issue prescriptions for generic replacements and extend the prescriptions to 90 day units (they are usually less expensive over all.)
- FREE Meds If this is not enough, the doctor also has a form for you to fill-out from the manufacture of the drugs. You tell the manufacture that your mother is on a very limited income and can not afford the medication and if she hits the requirements she will go on a direct replacement program. That sends the drugs to her free after the doctor fills out her prescription and sends it to them. This is a great program for those on a low income but not low enough for state help.
- Go to your local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist to review the list of medications that your mother is taking. Ask him to see how he could reduce it and then suggest how to lower the costs. I always use a pharmacist in my care giving. I found my mother was on two different heart medications that were no longer needed because the doctor has given her a new medication that covered the problem. I got to cross those two drugs off her list by calling the doctor and explaining what the pharmacist said to me. Pharmacists are very knowledgeable and they will try very hard to help you and keep your business. Do you forget things when nervous? Use your cell-phone to record your conversations with experts so you can review the information again later.
- Beware; not all doctors know the in’s and out’s of medications…there are those that are swayed by pharmacy reps and prescribe things that are not really needed or are way too expensive. This is a bigger problem when you have more than one doctor, because its hard to keep track of why and what medications your mom is taking. If all your doctors are on a computer system…this is easier, but the check still has to be done. And you do the med check each year…so just check with each doctor and tell them your problem…it is part of their responsibility that the patient gets the proper dose and medication that they prescribe…so do not be afraid to demand their time to help you figure out how to keep your mother’s medications slim and trim, financially.
- Use these Apps They are designed to reach out in your community and tell you which medication is being sold at the lowest price. Then you ask the doctor to make the Rx he writes for you…generic and 90 days and you are saving a nice chunk of money. www.goodrx.com and www.lowestmed.com they are there to help with lowering costs…please use them!
- Do not worry about being loyal…make changes each year to keep money in your pocket. You will also note that in each regional area there are drug stores that fill prescriptions for the local care centers, those places are often very inexpensive because they buy in large bulk…check them out and compare. Even if you have to drive a ways…saving money every few months is well worth your time and gas.
- What if a doctor you use is not on the supplemental insurance listing? Well, honestly…specialists are all over your area…you only go a few times a year to a specialist so that is not a big deal for a huge monthly change with a savings on the medications part of the coverage – for a pill that is a huge expense each day. Now your “family doctor” should be on the listing. That would be a game changer…but not the end of the world..if you save hundreds of dollars each year on an insurance change because of expensive monthly drugs…changes of doctors may have to be made. That is why you do the yearly comparison on your own with a free class to help you review things or with a insurance expert. Be open to change in care…because in the end…the quality of life money issue, everyday, is what needs to be in the front of your decisions for your senior.
I had taken care of mother for two years; in my home and paying for everything. She was on a very small social security income. Then she went in the hospital and I got to talk to the Hospital Social Claim worker. She was appalled that I had not signed my mother up for state medical assistance. Medicaid; in our state, pays for medications and services. I kept mother’s supplement and social security and added in the Medicaid and I no longer was worried about the monthly costs. It was a great relief to me personally. I could care for her without being so upset over costs. And I was…I would actually cry in the car, when I went into the drug store and came out with an antibiotic that was $400. It was horrible to worry so about money when I just wanted my mother to get well. Please do not be afraid to fill out the paperwork for an income review for state medical coverage and see if help can come from other places than your own pocket.
Being a good son or daughter does not mean you have to pay for everything your parent or grandparent needs. Your personal income should not matter in getting good care for your parent. So, take time to talk to people that have good experience and advice. If you are a person with money and you want the best for your senior…GREAT…gift your love and money. But if you do not have extra money in your bank account you should not have to financially suffer for your loving, care giving.
ASK FOR HELP! AND KEEP ASKING UNTIL YOU GET HELP!
Always remember any Veteran or spouse of a Veteran has medical benefits for life if they meet the criteria that is set by the government. Any time spent in a war or conflict zone, even if the veteran did not retire from the military is considered a qualifier. So if you know that your dad or mom — grand father or grand mother were in the military…you need to check if they are covered by the Veterans Administration Health Program. Please do not brush this off you do not know what is covered until you call and ask…that medical program is extensive and can make the quality of life for your family — improve.
Call to inquire: Veterans Affairs …. Benefits: 1-800-827-1000; Health Care: 1-877-222-VETS
I thank you for the love and the sacrifice you are gifting to your senior in care. But I want you to remember, that there are people in your community that make a living helping others. That is their job and their passion..they are lifted up each day when they are able to help a family out of a crisis. You need to respect those people too and go and ask for their help…they will guide you. Remember doctors are to diagnos and treat…they are not there to take care of your care giving needs. For that you have to reach out and talk to others and attend free classes and get into a support group. Then you will be able to ride the wave of care giving with confidence and without financial stress. Best wishes, francy