Dealing with a Life Crisis n Alzheimer’s Too! HELP!

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How to get through a life crisis and still give care to an Alzheimer’s senior…by francy Dickinson

My Georgie with his great grand daughter, Claire and little Missy

Dear Francy; My mother died 3 months ago and I have a very big problem. My dad has early stages of Alzheimer’s and his emotions and memory loss have blown-up since mother has passed. I am a single mom of three and have no place or money to keep dad and my brother’s wife does not want him in her home. He has his home, paid for and he makes a small income each month, but his life is going down fast and I don’t know how to help him?

Friends are doing a big Auction with lots of items to help us in our move…TY francy
Auction 2 help 

Yes, we have some work to do. First, let’s just have a quick review of the brain for Alzheimer’s from a lay-person. Any person, with any kind of a jolt to their lives is going to have a loss of brain power. If you have a bad fever, a fall, a big argument or a death within your close circle of loved ones – the brain takes a hit. A person that is younger and has full function of their brain, will grow back the brain functions over a short period of time…and although they may feel a little loopy or tired, or experience some feelings of being ‘out of focus’, the repair takes place and the brain will once again function. For a person that is older the brain repair is on ‘slow’, and it will take a few months time to recover all of the brain functions up to par and then move forward. For a person with dementia/Alzheimer’s it really sets them into a ‘swim of things’ and takes a great deal of time for the brain to even  ‘try’ to recover.

Auction 2 help bit.ly/QEY6j0 I experienced this early in the Alzheimer’s process with my husband, George. He had pneumonia and it was not diagnosed. So he went in and out of hospital within a one month time frame losing his body’s ability to fight the infection and finally just having a mental check-out. When they found out his problem and gave him medications he was able to  return home from hospital…it took another six months for his mind/brain to recover. Even after that time, he never came back like he was before the onset of pneumonia…it put a quicker movement into his Alzheimer’s decline and it was such a sad thing to have happen.

It took a long talk with George’s neurologist to get an understanding of what was happening to him. So, you need to know that even on a good day of your dad’s Alzheimer’s he is not functioning like he would…he is grieving both the loss of his wife, life partner and friend. He is in the midst of that and that pressure is going to cause him to express his own thoughts in a confused way.

As always; a trip to his neurologist that specializes in Alzheimer’s care should be done right away. The doctors that give this care specialty are very savvy and will be able to help you understand where your dad stands in his Alzheimer’s progression. He can adjust his medications and help him with diets, exercise and social interaction suggestions for you to follow.

I would suggest that you try to keep him in his own home. He can not be alone and be safe…so my suggestion is that you either hire someone to come in during the day to keep him eating and moving and establishing his own routine again. Or you get someone to come in and live, in the house. This is a very common thing to do in the senior care field. You could find an adult student that needs a place to live and is willing to provide simple services for your dad; in return for free rent and food.

Or you could go into the community and look for another senior that would like to be in the home. I would go to the nearest senior community center or faith facility and ask if they know of a senior that needs a place to live and would be open to giving your dad his meals and making sure he takes his medications and gets to his doctor appointments. To be there for him so he can have six months to a year to move through his grieving and re-establish his life. It is worth your time to find just the right person. That will give you and your dad time to adjust and then face a move into an Adult Family Home.

I like the Adult Family Home…they are usually a house that has a few bedrooms that have other folks with Alzheimer’s in each room. The owner is a trained health care professional and provides a more family type of atmosphere for the patients. This place may be their forever home, or a place to stay for a few years and then transition into a care center that will provide more advanced care.

What I like about the live-in help is way to give you and your brother  time to heal and adjust to the huge change in your family dynamics. You can both stay close to keep an eye on things and still afford his care by exchanging a place for the person to live and eat…in turn for their time giving attention and ‘light’ care to your dad. Usually the house work is left to you or an outside person to do once a month. Then, when your dad has the time to repair from his grief and adjust to his mental loss…it will be time to give him more care and protection with an Adult Family Care Facility.

You can hire daily in-home care that is done by professional services…or you can go the private live-in help, which will give you less trained people. If you do this, you will have to set the rules and outline the chores to be done each day to help your dad.

The professional in-home services have their routines all down on paper. The company comes in and does an assessment and then puts a plan of care together with you. It is a very well run organization, but it is pricey. You can often set your budget and then pick and choose the care services he needs the most. The care that is given from the service is bonded and done according to a pre-agreed on program of care.

The private hiring of an in-home resident can also be very pleasing for all around, if they are interviewed and required to provide a reference and any one younger would have a drug test. That way you can know your dad is safe. The point here is – your dad can no longer live safely on his own. He needs to be cared for and if you can not do it…you will have to get someone to step-in. Keeping your dad in a stable situation is what will allow him to extend his mental abilities as long as possible without a big drop in his functions. If you allow him to just be on his own, and he is unable to remember his medications, eat well or interact or exercise…he will be in a downward spiral that will not be able to be repaired. His mind is not going to heal it will only go downhill…so this is a must..you have to keep him as calm and comforted as you can — as soon as you can…or he will take a dip.

The sale of your father’s home will pay for care in an Adult Family home…so I would keep that in your mind. As you go forward this next year…be sure to make improvements to his home to get it ready to sell in the near future. You can lay out the landscaping so it can be taken care of with bark and a lawn mowing. If your brother goes over a couple times a month to mow the lawn it will look tidy. The inside of the house will need new paint and cleaning and maybe updates to small things to give the house a good sale position on the market. It is best to do a little of this prep work each month…so the expenses can be budgeted during the year. Then when the time comes that your dad is in need of more care, the sale of the house will go easier.

You do need to take over his doctor visits. You need to be in the office with your dad to hear the doctors and understand the medications, food and exercise needed to keep your dad’s brain functioning at its peak performance. That performance will be a slow dip but good care can keep your dad in a bubble of calm and love for a long time.

Once again, if you can not do any care for him…then an Adult Family Home from day one is your goal. But I think with the help of you and your brother, hiring a service or a live-in help would be the best answer. This could keep your dad in his home and allow him to adjust to a new type of life for a year or so…then as he changes his routine’s a move into an Adult Family Home would be easier for him to make and not cause him a total melt down.

I understand the upset that a big change can make to an Alzheimer’s senior. We have to move out of our family home. We have lost it and will need to find a new place to live. I am really trying hard to absorb all the sadness and fuss myself…to keep my husband in a protected bubble. My husband’s Alzheimer’s is moving ahead and I do not want him to go into a severe decline over the move. So, this is a very hard time on me. I am asking friends to help and making plans to keep him calm and protected with a family member during the move. It takes a lot of planning to keep the pressures away from my husband, but in the end…we will be in a new place and he will have his things around him and he will feel safe.

I appreciate all you are doing for your dad…I know how hard it is to make these decisions for your parent. It’s an odd thing to be a child/daughter one day and a comforting care giving daughter the next. You have my appreciation for your love and time that you are giving to your dad. I understand that being a single parent on top of it all…is quite the undertaking…but you can do it! Blessings, francy

Care-Givers Giving Care on a Budget

Estimated 30 million families from all over are quietly caring for their seniors without funding from anyone. Finding ways to care within a budget of time and money. by francy Dickinson

Family helping family with loving care

Dear Francy; My parents are fighting my mother’s dementia. They are on a very small budget. Dad has Social Security and $250 in a small pension. Mother has only social security, which is half of dad’s. Dad is so afraid of the future. How can he keep giving her the care she needs, with no money for professionals to help him?

First he needs guidance. The best place to find it is through the Aging Department in their local social services. He needs to go with you and just visit the offices and get a case worker to talk to him. She will guide him to what the state can do and what the local agencies can do. You will be surprised at the many people who are trying to help elders with care. Doing this is never negative, it is real and you will have a good idea of the steps that will need to be taken as the time moves on.

Now, here are some ideas of how to help your parents:

  1. If they have a home that is paid in full they can go and get money from the government in a reverse loan. This will give them the house value cash and leave the home for your dad to live in until he is no longer able to do so without a monthly payment.  Yes, some don’t like these loans but they are legal and using a company that you find with good BBB reviews on it, is the ticket. Then your dad would have money for a care giver occasionally. Always ask a professional their advice before you sign the papers, but get someone to come and talk to you about the process. You need to inform yourself as much as you can.
  2. If their home has an extra bedroom, they rent it out. But instead of money, the person will give care-giving time.  This is perfect for a college or technical student. This means you need to set rules for the person using the room. They have to have reference letters or names to check and full list of duties has to be in print for them to sign. Kicking them out will happen if they over-step the agreed upon rules.
  3. This will give your dad a little free time, even a few hours a day. To get out of the house and let him calm down.
  4. He will hire a bath lady. That is a first step in any in-home care. These ladies are trained to be upbeat and caring and will do a bath in no time and have your mom powder fresh and back in her favorite chair with tea in her hand and a smile on her face. To me they are miracle workers.
  5. Next your dad will either get his own circle of friends or re-join one. He needs to go out once a week to have coffee with them, or play poker, or golf or whatever is his pleasure. He will either have a family member, his border, or a paid in home worker watch your mom. This will give your dad a mental release and time to vent to others.
  6. Keeping your dad well with trips to his doctor so his stress does not affect his heart. Keeping him well feed and involved in the family, not feeling alone.
  7. You read and you read about dementia…get your mom into a neurologist so she can get any meds that might help her. Then stop all other doctor visits, its pointless to keep her body healthy when her brain is dying. I know this is hard, but it is what has to be done. Get yourself on a dementia support group online. So you can vent and keep your mind as clear as you can.
  8. Ask your family to cover for your dad…make merry. Keep the visits and the home as upbeat as you can. Play calming music, use smiles and keep your mom in a bubble of safety.
  9. Feed your mother good food, with sugar treats throughout the day. Keeping the energy and sugar level high can help to keep her calm. Don’t be afraid to ask for sleeping pills for her so your dad can get a good sleep, too.
  10. Always ask for help; ask your doctors, your local faith center, your city services, your community center, your senior center, your welfare office. Do not be too proud to get help
Blessings on all that you are doing, I know how hard it is to be one of millions of family members that care for their elders. The amount of seniors tucked away trying to care for loved ones all alone without funding is unbelievable in our country. You simply have to be brave and ask others to guide and help you. You will honor both of your parents by being strong and giving as much as you can and still keeping yourself and your family healthy and safe.
Thank you, for all that you are doing…you are a caring person and if no one has told you lately…. You make a huge difference in this world…your parents are lucky to have you caring for them. Blessings francy
PS Take note that my Senior Care Book is in the editing phase and will be out the door soon…so please click on the right and sign-up and you will be notified of all updated blogs and my book release ….Yeah, I’m excited…it has loads of care giving tips!!

Elder Passing with Honor and Hospice

How Hospice gives such help and care, along with Firemen visiting a retiree– as he faces lung cancer’s last days. by francy Dickinson
Firestation 13s in Tacoma, WA

Firestation 13 visiting an old chum

It is hard to decide when to call for help when you are in the middle of care giving. My brother –in-law was moving downhill with his cancer and the veil of pain and fear were starting to blur. After years of fighting lung cancer, the fight seemed to kick into high gear fast. There was no day/date stamped on him anywhere to know when to call for that extra help that Hospice gives.

The idea of Hospice had taken over my sister and brother-in-law and they felt it was like saying; “the end”. It kept them from the call for help and they suffered alone as the daily tasks of living were beginning to close in around them. As his breathing got more and more difficult, his mind lowering in clarity from reduced oxygen – it was making days, night sleeping and common chores harder and harder to achieve.

Finally, the day came…when there was no ‘feeling better, tomorrow’.  The call was hard for them to make and the first visit of the home nurse was tentative. Did he want a special bed? ‘NO’ Did he need a walker? ‘NO’  Their conversation was rough, short and difficult for all concerned.  The Hospice nurse had been down this road before, she knew the signs and she just told them she was there…it was their choice and they would take baby steps together.

Within just a few days of that first visit; the situation had worsened and another call was made to Hospice. This time the services were really needed and they started to roll in the door. The cancer was making him feel so weak that he was unable to go into the bathroom alone. Walking was impossible and eating had long-lost its appeal. His oxygen levels were so low that he was unable to catch his breath.

The fear and worry that my sister felt, watching him suffer, was overwhelming. Hospice could hear it in her voice as she called them backed and asked how they could help her. This time the flood doors of care suddenly opened.  Out poured professional help that was organized and calming.

Hospital bed loaded down with memory foam mattress and adjustable controls moved into the front room. The home had a fabulous view of the Tacoma harbor and the sun filled every inch as they moved out furniture to make a place of honor for the bed. An ‘over the bed’ table was adjusted in place so it could be used to hold his basket of personal tools. Finally he could sleep in a bed instead of in his chair. His chair was honored with a gel cushion to give his thinning body comfort.

A commode was put into place by the bed during the night and over the toilet during the day to give arms – used to steady and help with standing back up. A wheelchair; small enough to go thru tight places and still hold his tall frame securely was delivered. A new oxygen machine that would dial-up to 10 PCI and add a little water to the mix to keep the nose moist while using the air was set up.

During the next week, a cleaner arrived to scrub down the shower and vacuum any dust away so my sister could concentrate on care of her husband, not the worry of keeping the house clean. The nurse arrived to take down the medications and adjust them for pain relief and put all the pills for the week into a larger daily pill container marked with four times a day. The pills that had once been on every table in the living area were now brought into order and ease of use. No more confusion or missed pain medications, it was all organized to remove the confusion. Very intricate information was written down in a simple and easy to read hand for my sister to administer the morphine at just the right time during the day. A list to write the timing and the result of the dose was established and put in a place that was easy to find and use. Common nursing tips and transfer training were also shared.

Food suggestions and how to’s were left so the small intake of food for my brother-in-law would be productive and comforting. Explanations of how to use ginger ale for stomach gas and calming was added into the mix.  Simple suggestions and easy to do things that made a huge step up in the care giving and comfort level were carefully explained and examples shown.  The change in comfort was immediate and the feeling of panic and worry began to be replaced with confidence.

The bath lady arrived…after first being rejected as a privacy issue…she was now welcomed and able to prove her skills in giving a bath to someone who could hardly move or breathe without great labor. The bath was finished in quick order and a light massage was given. My brother-in-law returned to his chair feeling clean, warm and relaxed.  A simple service that a trained professional gives can lift the spirit. Instead of the worry that their son had gone through when he had changed the shower head and added the support chair. Then he had added his dad and tried to help him with the shower, the discomfort was high and the experience was exhausting. Not now. Now the bath lady has the senior in and out of the shower with time to spare.

A Chaplain showed up on the doorstep; just to introduce herself. Not wanting to intrude on comfort or spiritual issues…she just shared time with my brother-in-law and took in the family dynamics around her.  As she met each family member, she chatted easily and yet expertly with them finding their point of pain and bringing it up into the light.

Each time another issue came to a head, my sister was now able to call and get an RN to return her call and assure her of steps to take to keep the care in a positive mode. As the care became more intense, the time of sleep began to dwindle and the help line to the support system grew.

When talking to my brother-in-law the Hospice team noticed that he was a long time retired fire fighter in the city and they asked what station he worked. One of the team stopped by the Firehouse 13 in the north end of the city. A couple of days later, the large fire truck pulled up in front of the house and out came the young men from his old firehouse. Entering the house and standing around my brother –in-law they gave him support and respect of service.  They chatting about old stories and thanked him again for all of his dedication to his duty ‘in his day’. The view of those young men surrounding my brother-in-law as he carefully worked for each breath of air was so over-powering. Honor; it is so important…emotions and love are so dramatic. My brother-in-law was empowered by the visit – his heart soared high that night.

His adult children that had all planned a weeklong camping trip before the Labor Day holiday now put it on hold. They all rallied to the side of my sister. One stayed over at night; (leaving her family of a husband and two young sons) then returning to her own home to care for family during the day. Then she drove over to her mother’s at night to fix dinner and sleep so she could help with nighttime care.  Their son came over every morning early to prepare a good breakfast, fix anything that needed attention and give his dad help with the daily challenges. The other daughter (with a young infant that was sent to the day care) spends time with her family during the day to keep her Dad’s spirit high as he struggled through the pain.

The journey to life’s end, when you’re fighting cancer,  is never a breeze no matter how brave and how the patient fights. But, it can be easier and calmer when you just reach out and ask for help. Hospice is not the ‘end’— it’s the beginning of care and attention that assists a family and patient through life. It is as important as the highly trained pediatric care team is for newborns. It is just a call away – please make that call. Don’t wait for fear and exhaustion to take over and make the journey even harder.

At this moment, we are all working through the end of life issues with my brother-in-law…but now we are all a part of team that belongs to him. Each of us bringing our skills and special love to his side to ease his days and fill his nights.

Honoring all that served…even if it was a long time ago…serving our country, community and family counts. We thank you for your service and embrace your life’s story.

Here is to Hospice…and here’s to a caring family that understands just giving their time and love makes a difference in the journey towards life’s end.

Thank you, francy

Alzheimer’s/Dementia Need to Keep Moving

Fighting dementia’s anger issues, Parkinson’s body muscle breakdown and Alzheimer’s emotional outbreaks with exercise and small chores by francy Dickinson
 

Friends Enjoying Assisted Care

Dear Francy; My in-laws have gone from the sweetest couple in the world to a home with shouting, anger, and total rejection of home cleaning and upkeep. My husband is beside his self and trying so hard to keep them safe and calm. His mom is in her late 70’s and his dad is 82. Once active they are simply now doing nothing, rarely even prepare food. It’s really tearing my husband up and exhausting him trying to keep the plates twirling in the air both here at home and for their home. What can we do?
 

Well the amount of dual diagnosis for couples is rising, I’m afraid. It’s really tough when you have both parents ill or suffering through side issues of emotions or depression. But lets take a few ideas and throw them around. As you know; the first and best idea is to re-locate them into a retirement situation that includes meals and activities. That would give you and your family so much time and energy saved with your parent’s care. On the down side; it would probably take the value of their home for their life care, so there will probably be no big inheritance in your future. Lots of children of elders think that the carrot at the end of their care-giving stick…is inheriting their parent’s home. (trust me, a lot of kids feel this way) If you can say goodbye to that future income; in exchange for the parents being in a place where their life can be relieved of so much stress and just think about their personal and health issues— it would make a huge change for all of you.

But the reason I write this blog is that ‘most’ families can not do that change. The parents may not want to move, their home may not have equity, their income may not allow them to have assisted or retirement care. So what do families do if this is the case? Lets list a few ideas and see if you can take a few of them to help your current situation.

TAKE THE PRESSURE OF CARE AND REDUCE IT WITH THESE TIPS:

  • Make the rules. If you are going to care for someone on a long-term scale…you get to have a say in the life style and home rules. Get the legal stuff out-of-the-way from the get-go. Get the power of attorney done and signed by both of them. Get their property in joint names and make sure that the dots and dashes are taken care of from day one. I just insist people take care of this issue, even if there is argument and hurt feelings; it’s the way the world is and business is business. Plus, you would never be able to help them in a doctor’s office if you do not have a Power of Attorney for health care signed and notory stamped. Everyone wants this doctors, hospitals, insurance, banks, and the list goes on. Trust me; get this part done.
  • Take time with your own family and set up a calendar for the family and work. See the actual days and times that are free before you try to run over and solve your parent’s problems. If you see that Wednesday is a low family value day…than just make it into a mid-week parent check day. Your husband or you will go over and solve mid-week problems, fix a good meal and spend time with them. Then another in person check can be done on the weekend. Work your own schedule not theirs. If they have a TV show or card club that night…too bad. They will have to tape the show and reschedule the cards; YOUR schedule is current and your own family comes first. That is the rule. Then we move on to care time.
  • Buy a large calendar for the parents to put up on their kitchen wall. I have one with three months at a time. You are in charge of the calendar. You put in the month and dates and keep it updated at the end of each month. It’s a reminder calendar, birthdays, dr appt, at least one activity outside of the home each month, general things that you do around a house each month. This is the hub of what you will be doing and what they can do.
  • You do things that require a ladder and detail work, they do things that are easy to achieve and safe for them to do. You will have to begin to put down the chore list on a small white board…each time you come, you give them things to finish when you are gone. Laundry or folding and putting it away. Or you do the laundry and bring it to them to fold and put away while you are there. It is how well they are functioning that you judge the chores. If you need to do a reminder and call them during the week…then snap a pic of their chore list on your phone..so you can remember what they need to be doing. Keep repeating the chore listing and asking how it is coming, push, push, push…they need to be doing and the confusion of what to do, and who is to do it and how to do it…is giving them stress and thus the arguments. This clearly defined listing of chores is still done, over and over. Do not cave…keep it up, make the chores easier or more complicated depending on their joint abilities.
  • They need to move…so here are some tips. If you have close hands on, turn on the TV for the PBS ‘Sit and Be Fit’ or get DVR’s designed for seniors to move. If they need more supervision then take them to the senior center twice a week. If they can not go out and you are not there to help them…get a student to do it for you. Just like a dog walker; exercise students will come to home and do a 30 minute exercise with them. Seniors always respond to young adults. Visit a gym or college and find students that need to get some experience and hire them for a small amount to keep your parents moving and grooving.
  • Walking? If the two of them can still walk, a walking group is a great way to add both movement and socializing to their life. Make a few calls…get creative and find local resources to help you care for them. Senior resources are available in all communities; more things than you can imagine…but they are there for the taking so find them.
  • ‘Looking forward’ is a big issue with seniors. Get your kinds or your events up on their calendar to share. Let them look forward to grandson’s music concert this month.  Let them look forward to a family birthday, wedding, shower, swim party. Get them involved in the function. Grandma’s favorite salad should be made and Grandpa can help with putting up the decorations or setting up the tables. Use their skills and keep them busy. Just like the Cruise ship social director that keeps everyone busy on the 7 day cruise…you begin to get the feel for it and keep them involved in their family and community.
YES THIS ALL TAKES YOUR TIME; but the key is to keep them busy, active and thinking. It will reduce down the stress and any household that is organized is much richer. It does nothing to just arrive and try to solve an argument. The idea is to keep your parent’s interaction more positive and show them that aging with health and emotional issues is simply a bumpy ride, not the end of their life. Their life needs to be supervised and that should be your role.
You need to be organized too because for a few years, you will have three jobs. Work, your home, their home…that is a lot on your plate. Doing it with joy is very important so ask for help. If you have siblings…they get to step up to the plate. If they are out-of-town, or too busy to help…a financial help is required. Everyone has a limit; but even a monthly Safeway card with $25 or $50 makes a big difference for seniors and their food bill. Walgreen type of drug store gift cards are also perfect for the little things that all seniors in care need.
Family can help; teenagers can do the lawn work, small children can visit and just read or play in front of the grand parents to keep them happy and busy while you work around the house. Aunts can make a weekly slow-cooker dinner that will be eaten for a few meals. Friends can be scheduled to come and visit once a week.
YES…this takes your time, but it’s not impossible to do and once you get a support group going..your time investment goes down.
Communities are adding more and more services. There are free family movie nights, summer free concerts in the park, local food markets, visiting people of interest that do free lectures, heritage communities have celebrations with free events and faith groups have on going senior gatherings. From libraries to local theatres…there are things to do for seniors. It simply takes time to make the investment of knowledge.
I say it over an over again, if you do not have money…you make up for it with creativity. You talk to people you meet about your care for your parents and listen. I have found so many services from others that are involved with community services, charities and community outreach programs. It is amazing how much is available – even in small towns. I hope this information has helped you with your care.
It is a very long road caring for your parents. I want to thank you for giving them the love and care that they deserve. Care giving is a lonely gift, but taking the journey down the path of aging with your parents will be worthwhile in so many ways. I am happy to say that I have a new Alzheimer’s/Dementia guide coming out in just a couple of months…would you click on the sign up over on your right of the screen. It will put you on my email info lisitng and I will let you know so you can get even more ideas with your care giving. Thank you, and blessings on your family…francy

Mom’s House is a Mess- Help!

Mother, Toots, me on the left and my sis Merrilee on the right

by francy Dickinson   www.SeniorCareWithSpirit.com  

Dear Francy: My mother’s home is such a mess. I go over to care for her and it is just a nasty experience. I just do not even want to be there let alone be there often to care for her. She still is on her own, she hates anything I do for her and its her home. I mean what can I do?  

Make changes…you know the sad news about getting older is that if you need help from others the rules change. What did you do when you became an adult and you were still living in your parent’s home? You wanted to have your own things, you wanted more freedom and you wanted your own time frame. But your parents had home rules and you had to live within them so YOU moved out. That is how the world moves. But now its the opposite. Your mom wants to be in her home and yet she needs you or someone to care for her. She has to change, she can get mad and she can yell and say hurtful things all she wants. But the truth is, her home needs to change. Since you are the girl in charge…you have to make those changes.   

Ask family members or lifelong friends to ease your work by talking to her or becoming a team member and helping you with logical changes to keep your mother safe and well inside her home. Keep her own tastes and habits in mind, but work around them, so she will be safe and able to stay in her home as long as possible. Without change; she will have to go into a care facility and leave her beloved home. There is not a lot of wiggle room for her anymore…so a combined front of family, friends and you…will make the change more productive. Start small but keep pecking away till the job is done.  If your mom has problems with the changes, get her help. There are people that specialize in senior issues and doctors that will medicate so she can relax and not be so upset over change. So here are some ideas of how to begin.  

Check off the ideas you can use and DO IT:

  1. Make a list: get a notebook and walk around the house and take notes on what would have to be done to sell your mother’s home. Remember your mother will have to sell that home to go into a retirement, care facility or when she passes. So this is your way to get the project in your mind and begin the process. Go from room to room and treat them like they do on the TV…decide how to update them for a small investment and faster sale. This is your “private list” to work off of as you go along. I just think that the changes have to be made, so why not make them so your mom can enjoy the fresh paint and clean area while she is living in her home. Why wait till she moves to make changes that she could have enjoyed while she lived there?
  2. Start with the rooms that your mother uses each day. Her bedroom, her sitting room, her kitchen and her bath. Only think of the rooms that make up her day, not the full home. It will be a small start, but will make a big impact. Start in the bedroom. Take note of this as the main focus for a week or two. Start with sorting the closet. Tell your mom, that you are going to sort through her clothes with her and put the summer and winter ones in two different places so she has more room. Then start the project slowly…do it in a room where she is not involved and take out all clothes that are really unusable. The ones that need care or cleaning and put them into black plastic lawn bags and remove them to the garage or your car. Get rid of them. Then ask her to help you go through each drawer and the closet and slowly tell her the off-season goes into big plastic bins to be brought out when the time is right. Then remove the bins to storage and sort them for old clothes and get rid of those to the charity of your choice. This can be done slowly so each of your visits you do a drawer or two, or you can schedule a weekend to stay with her and just get it done. Now that you have the closet clean and the clothes in order. You do the chest of drawers. Step by step until you have pared down her wardrobe and removed things that simply will never to be used again. That done…go out and buy some new sheets and bedding, possible new pillows and drapes. Then have a family member or another person come in and paint the room. It has to be done in one day…so you need to start as soon as she rises for the day. Think of the future sale and make the room look updated with a neutral paint color and new “bed in a bag” for the bedroom. You will now have one room cleaned and ready to show for a future sale. Your mother will have clean and painted walls, fresh linen and feel good, even if she complains.
  3. Go on and do the bathroom…make that an ongoing project over a week of your visits. Go through the drawers and clean them and put fresh Rubermaid drawer liners in them. Buy a few small plastic trays that will fit in the drawers and shelves to keep her make up and personal things handy. This is so important. It will clean the area and make the ease of use for your mother so much easier. Older people forget where they put this or that. When you have cleaned down the many years of bathroom stuff and old pill bottles and tubes of unknown creams and tackled bits and pieces– you will have a room that is now easy to use and ready for the update. Once again, paint the room…change out the vanity light to give it an update look and if you can afford it match new faucets with the light fixture. Get a new shower curtain and put on a hand-held shower spray with a bath chair for your mothers’ use. Go out and buy two large bath towels, four hand towels and a package of white face-clothes (12). Put the face-clothes in a small basket easy for her to reach. Get her a new hand cream and hand soap and allow her to feel and use the two new rooms. Dont forget to place a plastic bin for dirty clothes in the bedroom or bath…clothes are not to be put on the floor for cleanliness with elder care giving.
  4. Now that you have hit the two rooms that have the least emotional problems…you are ready to go on to the living room area. She will have seen your work, felt the fun of the result with the paint and update and she will be easier to handle. I think it should take about two days to do the living room. But first look at it closely. Figure out who can help you remove the newspapers and magazines and ask them to come with boxes and be ready to remove them completely. Figure out if you need to add a new sitting chair that is easier for her to use. Get the chore and its steps in your mind and then ask a family or friend to take her out for a day or over the weekend. Clear the room in one day and then paint the room in the next day. Remember, think of how the house will be for sale. Remove all the trivial build-up that has taken place over 20-40 years. Then make what she needs even better. Choose a paint color that will go along with the rest of the house. Replace the many grand children’s pictures with a new family shot that you have blown up big and put in a nice frame. Get new lamp shades to update the lamps and have the floors or carpet cleaned. Add new throw pillows, drapes or blinds. Change out the knickknacks for a few nice collectables. Now the front room should be re-arranged so your mother can easily see the TV and the view out a window as well as get in and out of her chair and walk to the kitchen and bath with ease. The room is ready for her and is ready for the future sale.
  5. Now you go on to the kitchen. This is what you do from room to room…so in your mind, it makes the home special for your mother. In the back of your mind you have the future sale all ready to go. You will see that this will mean that your mom is in a cleaner atmosphere and she feels happy about the new paint and cushions and towels and bedding. Its like you trade her anger and possessive behavior for a feeling that she has a new surroundings that are pretty, fresh and still filled with her special things that mean a great deal to her.
  6. Just do it: This job is not easy I know. But if you do it right, it will pay off over and over again as you go down the line with your mother’s care. As she gets less able to do things, it will be easier for you to keep it clean and for her to use it without a trip or fall. She will feel refreshed and you will have a home that will easily show well for a future sale.
  7. Dont forget to keep up the outside. The street view of the house is the sales point. So ask family to help you cut down the overgrown plants and keep the lawn trimmed and watered. If the house is in need of a cleaning outside or a painting in order to sell it, is best done while your mother is able to write the check for the work. A new coat of exterior paint, even just in the front of the home or the porch area cleaned can make a huge difference in the amount brought in with a sale.
  8. Always ask a third-party to be on your side. A friend of your mother’s, another family member, a neighbor. Ask them to back up your actions for your mother and allow her to complain to them. Facing the loss of independence or the end of life…can be huge reasons for anger and the inability to make changes. By showing her you want to change small things to freshen it up for her use – it will calm her down. She does not have to hear you are doing it for the future sale. Reality is important for the care giver, but protecting the senior from unwarranted worry is the kindest way to deal with the situation.
  9. The child inside? I find that elders usually respond just like your young children used to do. No they did not want to give away any of their own toys. But when the toys were sorted and cleaned and put aside in a bin and placed in the garage. The end of the month the toys were forgotten and the joy of the new paint, bedding, towels and the place of honor to the new toys – always won out. Your mother will be the same.
  10. This simply has to be done. It is much easier when you have a Power of Attorney or Health Care Directive in place. That way you can write a letter to her doctor and ask for help with her emotional issues. This will then be considered and the doctor can add in an Rx that will keep her calm and not so worried over the little things in her life. As always, if you are doing something for your mother’s best care, you are doing it right. But if you over use her funds, or throw out valuables because you don’t like them…that is not care giving, that is acting in your own self-interest and is not acceptable. If you don’t have time to do all of this, then it is time for your mother to go into a retirement care facility where her needs can be met by professionals. The choice is on the table and it will take both of you to make the decision.

Hope you find this helpful. It is so hard to be the care-giver to parents that have had control over their lives and still see you- as a child. But this is a job that has to be done. So putting it off is simply pointless. You will spend more time on this project than you think…but once it’s done…you can relax and know that the future is handled. You and your mother can enjoy a kitchen with a working stove and a new faucet and see the TV without the clutter. It pays off…and your mother will appreciate your time, even if she does not say so. Being a care giver is a very special gift, I thank you for all you are doing.  

Francy with Missy  Come and enjoy more info at www.SeniorCareWithSpirit.com  

  PS: 

 DONATE: I spend time-sharing with hundreds of families all over the US so they can cope with caring for their senior. I’m at home with my husband, George, on a full-time basis and I always appreciate a donation for my time-sharing with you on this site. I thank you for your kindness…and ask that you share my site information with those that you know that are caring for seniors — francy 
 
 Join my Newsletter Listing: I just got the August issue finished…I send out a newsletter and talk about the behind the scenes of daily care giving with George and clients. You’ll also hear about Missy and my crazy, busy life with joy – in the middle of chaos. Its a more personal look at Alzheimer’s. When you click and go to my home page it will take you through the sign up with your name, city and email and I will send you a small thank you gift Free…for your time. I will hold all your information private. You will receive a monthly newsletter and can remove your name any time from my listing. And once again I would appreciate you spreading the news about my work, there are  alot of care givers out there that could use someone to talk to and get ideas back. Thanks so much – francy

Help My Parents Can Not Take Care of Each Other

by francy Dickinson                          www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; My dad is 82 with mild dementia and osteoporosis and my mother is 80 with heart problems and weakness. They simply can no longer care for their own needs without my help. I have increased my time with them up to 2 hrs a day but I am at the end of my ability to care for them. We have no money for a retirement home and I do not know what to do? I have three siblings, all male and unable to give care and so I am on my own here.

OK, if there is simply no money (I understand they are in a smaller and older home) Here are some steps to help you out:

  1. Make sure you have your name on the Health Care Directive for both of them. This is a form that is filled out and it then goes to the notary so you can make decisions legally for your parents.
  2. Remove your attachment to your parent’s home and look at it with an eye if you were going to sell the home tomorrow. Walk through the house and mark down what has to be done to ready for sale. Heavy cleaning with older folks living there unable to see dirt or move furniture or refrigerators to get things cleaned. Walls need paint, wall paper needs to be removed, bathrooms need painting and new faucets, updating and kitchen needs declutter? Write it all down in a notebook. Edit down their things no longer used as much as you can and still keep your parents feeling safe and cozy in their home. Changes are hard for elders so make them with ease and in a quiet manner.
  3. Now, think about getting a reverse mortgage, that’s a way a lot of families are dealing with monthly income. Call a reverse mortgage place and have them come and look at the home and explain all the benefits and downfalls. That is what they will do. They will make a flat fee for doing the paperwork on the mortgage and it is done through the government, so you can feel free to take their time and ask questions. It means it is a way for your parents to get the money they have invested in their home out each month. Then when they pass the home is sold and if there is anything left it goes to their heirs on their will.
  4. Call a local real estate person and ask them to simply come and view the home and evaluate it for you. They will do this with the hope that you will use them as an agent when you choose to see the home. Also ask them if the home is rentable as an income instead of selling, they will know the area and give you guidance.
  5. Call the Veterans Association, if one of your parents has served in the military and see where they are on the health care coverage. You will find it’s a sliding scale according to the time and type of service they served. If the Vets will help with care you can enjoy their services and save some money on care.
  6. Call their Medicare supplement insurance company and tell them you need them to send you a booklet on the outline of what care their plans are providing. Then you know where you stand with money for services for your parents. Twice a year you can change Medicare supplement insurance companies, you may find that now that your parents are in a higher need of care, there is other insurance policies that will cover more of the costs. Make some calls and study the Internet on this issue, it can make a big difference in money spent.
  7. If they have attended a faith center call and ask what type of community care they provide. Often large faith centers have seniors that will give you an hour or two a week, a dinner program, or in home visiting program. It all helps.
  8. Ask about Meals on Wheels in your parent’s area, this program is delightful for seniors that no longer cook. You can supplement the extra pie or cookies, take them extras on the bigger meals you cook at home and still have the meals in the freezer for your parents to microwave. If they no longer can cook or reheat, then that option will not be there for you.
  9. Call the state welfare and ask for a booklet on what type of care they provide for seniors with small incomes and they will send you information on that form of help. This is really important, because once you know what money you have to work with you can then move on and hire help accordingly. Lets say the state will only give you food coupons, that means a couple hundred a month on their income that can be spent on care givers not food. It is a good thing to ask for help, it is there for elders and it has been paid for by your parents in their taxes for years. The state may also pay you to care for your parents so your own time with them could be increased with an income or other care services could be added.

Now that you know about their money income it is time to add to your in home care assistance or to a more traditional adult care home, or assisted living facility.

  1. It is not easy to keep a couple together in assisted living if they have different types of care required. Dementia has a staff trained to handle emotional problems and health side problems. Health care for mom takes care givers that are trained for challenging medications- those are two different care giving situations and it may take time and extra looking to find a facility or home that will fulfill both care issues. So start to call today, if you think your parents will need a spot to go to in the next few months. There are waiting lists in many facilities and you want to be prepared not stunned when the time comes to take that step. Even if you think it will be another year, talk and get on waiting lists.( This is what I do for my income, I help families find those facilities and make their senior’s transition into them. I do not charge the family a fee.)
  2. If you are going to be staying on as their care giver you have to know it will be a more time consuming effort than what you are giving now. You will sit down with your brothers and have a talk. It is no joke, this has to be an adult conversation about your parents, without your parents in the room. So you can be free to speak of their health challenges and let them all know that things are heating up and growing out of control for you personally to care for them. Many family members respond to money rather than time. So explain it will take a min of $10 up to $25 dollars an hour for in home care. If they need only 4-5 hrs a day that is $100 a day…that can add up fast and then show them your parent’s income. This is how people look at problems. To sit down and say, I need help is not enough —  show them, the needs, the time,and the money needed — that is what will shake them into understanding the problem.
  3. Tell them your options, you have now done your home work so show them the different ways that care can be given and afforded. Then ask for their support, not their help. If they have not helped in the past, they will not help now. But ask them to support you with additional money each month, even if they give you $35 a month that could buy the Ensure that your parents drink everyday, or the Depends they use, or help with a bath lady each week. Every small amount is appreciated and the commitment has to be long term. The bath lady has to be paid each week if they give the money or not. Make decisions on reality not promises.
  4. If the house is going to be sold to pay for your parents care, then you ask the family to help you ready it for sale. You may not be able to remodel or update, but you can clean. Just take one room at a time, clean out closets, give things to family and good will, do not put yourself through big yard sales, they are to hard on you. Giving time and care is overwhelming, do it with thought about your own health.
  5. Paint as many rooms as you can to give it a low key color update. Use colors that are popular in your area. Update little things like lite fixtures in the bathroom and new faucets in the kitchen. Use the inexpensive vinyl tiles that you can easily put down over old vinyl floors, remove carpets if the house has wood floors and polish the floors. If you plan your actions over the next two months with help from your brothers on room by room, the house will look fresh and clean and update the yard to make it have nothing junky outside and just a clean lawn and some bark on the flower beds. Then you will be able to get the most for the house without remodel prices.
  6. You will need to keep your parents calm while you are doing this so if the project is big ask a brother to take one or both of your parents for a weekend so you can do the work without them worrying over it all.
  7. If you are not going to sell the home right away, still do as much of work as you can as you go along. The day of selling the home will be close in the future and work has to be done now or then.
  8. You will need to call an in home health care service. They have trained nurses, PT, OT, nutrition and bath ladies. They also handle the care giving with light housekeeping, cooking and tending care givers. All trained, bonded and ready to help you with chores for your parents. What you can not do, they fill in. This is easiest way to get help. You can add a few hours a week at first, a bath lady is my favorite pick and then increase as the need and finances are there for extra help. They are also ready to be your back up if you are unwell and unable to attend to your parents needs. They will come to your home and do a review and then you set up a plan of needs.
  9. If you choose to directly hire someone to cover for you each day, make sure you do a background check and call the references, you want a quality person to care for people you love. Horror stories can be avoided with doing a good check on the person’s prior job abilities and people skills. No smoking, drinking or drugs are allowed by any care giver so let them know that from the get go. Ask your Tax Person how to make the payment to the person you hire on your own. A service takes care of all taxes and pays your caregiver for you. I you hire a person on your own, payment for the person is up to you. Remember to ask if the care givers are a tax deduction for your parent’s taxes too. Remember if your parent or parents are in your home, they can be your own tax deduction for their care.

Now, I have a workbook that was designed for family members to read and use if they have never had any training in caring for a seniors. You will find my book under Products page of my website www.caregivingwithspirit.com. Its called Care Giving 101 Workbook and you can download it as an E-book or as a printed workbook sent to you via mail. That will detail the basic care giving needs and how to handle them for you as time goes on. I have both health and Alzheimer’s tips in the workbook. Its been a great help for many who are facing giving care to parents and or spouses.

Hope this all helped you – you can find me on Twitter @seniorcaretips and this wordpress site has many older blog entries that you will find helpful as you add giving care to an already busy life with your own family and job. I also have a talk radio site that is fun to give a listen – its an easy click from my website…thank you for your time and blessings on your giving care.

Please do send me emails if you have a question on care, I am happy to help. francy

Spouse Giving Care 24/7

by francy Dickinson                           www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

A Talk with Francy; I have this picture in my mind of spouse care. I remember it from almost thirty years ago when my elder uncle cared for his wife with Parkinson’s. He had been a cared for man of leisure all his life because she had worked hard with her own interior design company in Seattle. She had worked long days all week, staying in a small apartment in the city. She would come home to Lakewood on the weekends to care for her husband who never worked a day of their 48 year marriage. She would take him to dinner, entertain with friends, leave him with a clean home, food for the week and bills paid. She worked into her mid- eighties when the Parkinson’s took her abilities away…she sold her business and came home. My uncle started to care for her in his own way. That way was not good. He was a man spoiled with his own life style and she was left alone most of the time.  When you would visit, their home got messy, dirty and then horrid. Her care got lax and her food was awful.  As she laid on the couch unable to move on her own, the room she was in was filled with trash. I worried about that the most; a woman who had filled her life with tranquil beauty was dying with trash everywhere she could see. I would bring dinner once a week and mother, in her mid eighties, would visit every month only to worry the rest of the month. We were unable to make changes, or move her to a care facility or do anything really. There were not the laws that we have now for seniors in care. So we just watched her care go down hill and wondered how my uncle could live his life in this manner. It wounded me and I have carried that frustration with me for all these years.

After my mother passed and I was then free from giving her care – I turned around and found my own husband suffering from dementia. It is a story that millions of people face but when it happens to someone you love so much, it just sends chills down your spine.

I am twenty years his junior and so at first I had a hard time telling the difference from him getting older and the dementia. But what I knew was the man that had given me a life of love and care, was not able to do most of things he had done in the past. So along with dealing with him, I had to change my own life and adjust to his needs. I remembered my uncle and vowed to give my husband solid good care.

Being a care giving spouse is a very odd roll. Part of you is still in the mind set of husband or wife loving your spouse…the other part goes into a roll of care giving mom that has to learn new talents to keep your spouse as well and strong as you can. It is not easy and it gets extremely lonely.

I suppose it’s the confusion that hits you with dementia. It not only consumes my husband’ mind, but it reflects off onto me. After a day of him asking my opinion over and over again, telling me he is going to do a task but never gets to the task- I often forget what he was suppose to do myself. Total confusion, spreads just like the flu. He will head out to the garage for a tool and stay there for half an hour. My worry buzzer will go off in my mind and I will go out to find him cleaning out the garbage can or sorting through the garden tools. He is off in his own world and nothing will bring him back. He is determined to accomplish some unknown task. So, I have to change his mind, I have to interject a new thought in his brain. “George would you come and help me I think the faucet is leaking and the water is going off everywhere?” Back he comes from the garage now re focused on a must do task. When he gets into the kitchen the faucet looks good and I say how good it is he fixed it. He will stand and look at it and wonder about it and I make him a cup of coffee or a sandwich and he moves on to that task. It’s a constant movement to keep him safe, calm and in a zone of happy thoughts.

At the same time, I have to make money. I can not leave the house and just leave him alone for any long period of time. But George is not in any way ready for a full time care facility. I do not make enough money to gift him a care giver each day or pay for a day center to leave him. So, I have to think of ways to make money from home with quick, less then two hour meetings with senior clients helping them find placement in care facilities. I do the research and find the facilities that fit their needs. They meet me at two facilities that I have chosen as the best and walk through them with the family and help them make the decisions. When I do not have a client I write and sell senior care help books and other how to ebooks and do my blog and tips on twitter @seniorcaretips

Once, I arrived back home to find my above stove microwave pulled apart and in a million pieces and my husband trying to fix it. I then had to step in and get him re settled with a new movie on TV…put the parts back as well as I can and then went to the store and bought a new microwave. The worry over him getting harmed or walking away while I’m gone is very strong. But as a working spouse care giver I have to try as hard as I can to keep him safe and still make a living.

I often bring George along with me to keep him busy and even then I worry he will get too stressed to make it through a long meeting with a client. I had a session with a lawyer last week and George just melted in the office, we had to get him outside to walk around and sit him in the car for me to continue and sign papers that were needed. I drove him over to a restaurant and after eating and talking he returned to his calm self and I was able to drive the 25 minutes home without worry.

Each day has its surprises. Some days are calm some are horrid. Some calm days can change in a second with anger and some awful days drive me to the edge. Where I have to take a deep breath and become creative to find a way to solve the current care giving problem. Problems can be solved, they just need the spouse to stay calm within and be creative about how to re focus or find where to ask for help.

My nights are filled with worries and sleep often eludes me. But I try hard to take naps, take breaks with time to meditate and do a lot of deep breathing through out my days. I eat good food and I take supplements that I am more than convinced keep me stronger than not.

I cook healthy food, not heat up frozen and I clean my home, but not with dedication. I talk to a select few that understand I need to vent and I need to laugh. I use my twitter group to release my tension and give to others to sooth my mind. I try to interact with George in a loving way even if I am on edge from an arguing session. I get him to waltz me around the living room, pour me a glass of wine, make my tea or rub my back so he remembers the pleasure of giving and caring for others. I have a good list of things for both of us to do each day…so we stay on a daily routine and I always tell myself that I’m a good and loving person even when I’m mad, as hell, at life.

The part that bothers me is the 24/7. There are no days off…only hours away. There are no – lets take a break weekends away when George gets so confused in his own home, let alone a new place. There are no go and visit your kids or sister when he has to be watched and one slip might mean him getting lost or getting so upset he gets sick. I have no escape, no way out. So, I have to remove that from my mind. I have to give myself a feeling of escape. By reading or watching TV in another room. By working in the garden while he takes a nap. By going out to the grocery store and giving myself time at a coffee shop or the library to read magazines. I have to make sure that he has a friend visit so I can just take a nap or go for a walk. Maybe take him to an exercise place so I can just listen to music or a book on my MP3 player, in the car.

His dementia/Alzheimer’s gets worse everyday…but in very slow and tiny ways. The doctor says he is progressing very slowly and that is good for George. But it is not good for me. I have to pay attention to his food and pills. I have to know when his episodes of anger and gait change are over the limit and we need to go to the doctor to get his meds changed. I have to make decisions for his regular health on a daily basis and it is a continual hardship to care that closely for another person. But I keep in my mind that I am giving a gift, not doing chores. I try to make his forgeting to take pills that I leave by his side at his TV chair- a joke and if they are not taken I remind him, tease him about it and watch him take them.

There are loney times. When I want to just talk to him, as my best friend and tell him about my day or my thoughts for the future. I want to have help with the taxes and the financal problems we have, I want him to surround me with his arms and just hug the world away. I want our close friendship of over 30 years to be there for me when I am doing the hardest job I have ever done, but it isn’t – my friend is already gone. I now stand alone, I stand next to him – but I am alone. Others that come and visit us see us together still – but we are not, he is gone in little ways and the gap grows each day.

I wish I could say, this story has a happy ending, but it does not. I am sitting in the living room typing while he is upset in the bedroom. Mad that he has to get up and dressed at almost three in the afternoon. I can be a difficult mom to him and he hates that part of our life. But what I know is that when they said through thick and thin when we married…I said those words and I meant those words and I am living those words with as much joy and love as I can each day. When the time comes that George is in a care facility I will continue to care for his daily needs in my own way…but just having him near is soothing to me. Someday, he will be gone and I will have all the time in world to do my nails and take lunch with my girl friends. Today, I choose to be next to him and I choose it day by day knowing that I make the choice to love and support him in my own way.

I don’t believe in caring for another until you drop over yourself. That is pointless, every spouse has to make the decision as to what degree they can give and help their loved one. We are all so different, some can care a long time, others can not give hands on care for any time at all…no one is better than the next, it is just who we are. But what I know is that we have to talk and reach out to others for help. We have to not allow ourselves to be all alone and scared, we have to tend to our own needs. If we do not stay strong, our spouse will fall faster and harder.

My tips from the heart? Eat, drink plenty of water, take good deep breaths, talk to your family and friends, kiss your spouse, argue with your mind not your mouth and laugh as much as you can. Joy is being a part of something and I suggest you join me on twitter, or any other support group in person or online. You get so many great ideas to help you through the care giving steps. I have a workbook on my site that gives all the basics in home care giving, take a visit and look, I think it will help you.

But most of all laugh as much as you can at the crazy things around you. Because when you stand back and look at your life it is a bit funny don’t you think?

Blessings, francy