Re-Charge Ideas for Family and Care Givers in 2014

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How to keep caregiver’s energy, emotions and health strong and re-charged in 2014 by Francy Dickinson

Care Givers have to be charged up and ready to go…
in order for their seniors to receive good care in the new year.

George and my niece Pam- at the table for Christmas dinner

George and my niece Pam- at the table for Christmas dinner

Dear Francy; I thought when the holidays were over I would be able to re-group and feel more involved and ready to give my mother another year of care. Its just the opposite, I thought this care giving would be a few months to a year at the most. Now, its three years and she is so filled with anger and upset…that I can hardly be nice…let alone excited about sharing my home with her for another year of my own life. I know that sounds horrible…I guess I am just getting to be bitter and I thought I was a nicer person. Do you have ideas to help me boost up my energy?¬†

ACCEPT WHAT CAN NOT BE CHANGED AND MAKE THIS YEAR ABOUT YOU!

I can not walk away from my husband even though his Parkinson’s/Alzheimer’s is going full force. Its not just ‘my duty’ as his wife…it’s my own choice to do the care giving…so as I arrange for George’s doctor appointments in the early part of the new year, I am also thinking how to help myself. I need to re-charge and get my mind and body in order so this year can be healthy for me and the days filled with happy activities for us both. Instead of living day by day in boredom or stress.

10 Things to Begin the New Year of Care Giving:

  1. The care giver’s personal health. Review how you are feeling. Are you able to obtain insurance? I know you get so into caring for your senior…but how are you doing with your own health? The new health care plan will be good for you to research. The rush is off, the state or government’s online sight is up and running…go take a look. You may be in the low income range and get a great deal with a good health insurance program and you can relax and have any outstanding worries checked. You will have a life on your own after your senior passes…so you need to check out your blood pressure, your weight, your energy level, any ache or pain and your food intake…and get an idea of how to keep YOU healthy.
  2. Weight gain is a universal problem for care givers. So, its time to really make a plan of action. Get a journal and write down the true facts. How much do you weight? Has your weight gone up more than 10 pounds in the last year? It’s time to tell yourself that a 20 minute early morning walk…or afternoon walk (while your senior is napping) needs to be added. Maybe you don’t want to do that in the cold or rain…so if that is so…than walk or run around the house for 1,000 steps or about 10 minutes each day. This action will get your body in shape and you will be ready to take that 20 minute walk when the weather changes in the early spring. — Tell yourself that you will eat every two hours. That means you will chose something to eat..not nibble all day, as you prepare your senior’s food and pills. — Chose a range of small snacks and meals that will keep your energy level up and keep you feeling full. Remove the easy things like sugar, candy, donuts…and add loads of water and green tea. — Small changes are the most powerful. Journal your ideas and keep that journal active so you stay on your plan.
  3. Add something new to your day, just for you. Get more books from the library or add a Kindle to your life and read. Your senior has lots of little rest times and nap times…if you plan to get your work done early and then take an hour or two in the afternoon to enjoy a new book. — Read up on a new hobby…many people are starting needle arts, men and women. Nothing like learning knitting, crochet or needlepoint and have an easy project at your side. Something that you can pick up and put down without worry. — Are you a guy that loves to work with wood or do small repairs around the house, but find the garage or workshop out back is too far to venture when you have to be close to your senior in care? One idea is to get a baby monitor and you can hear the change or the senior calling for you…or bring your work into the kitchen. Many seniors no longer eat in the kitchen when they are unwell…they eat off trays…so taking out the kitchen table and putting up a bench to work on projects is a fun way to begin a new activity and feel close to your senior. There are no rules to your life, making changes so you can enjoy personal time…is a key to success in your re-charge.
  4. Mentally, you are getting down with the extended care giving? Its time to join a support group. Today it is so easy. In person support groups for care givers are found at senior centers, libraries and coffee shops. You can find them in the local paper or ask at the library. You can also join an online support group that will help you with care giving or (like I did) with my writing. I have a group of wonderful woman that are busy with life and still want to write, many of them have published their work and we encourage each other to stay active in our writing. Even if our lives are so busy we can hardy breath…the weekly meeting is online in a chat room and we have grown to be dear friends. This support each of the members has given me has developed into a friendship that now goes far beyond support on our writing. There are Skype meetings and websites that have support groups. Yes, you have to find a group that hits your own needs or interests…or maybe your faith group has a senior meet once a week. Find something that hits your own buttons and do this just for you. The meetings are an hour and if you get one close to home your travel time is small. Your emotional health is just as important as your senior’s. I know you do things to keep your senior busy and looking forward..so now turn it around and look at your own needs and find a group to enjoy. Support or shared interests…groups are there close to you and also can find find ‘MeetUp’ on the net, with a listing of group meetings in your area.
  5. Calm…the stress of care giving is so high that most care givers have no idea what kind of strain it is on our bodies. Everyday is a surprise at our house, George is quiet and then has a fall…or an onslaught of diarrhea..everything is then thrown up in the air. So how can you get yourself back to calm – in the middle of chaos? You learn to breath. Its a simple way to train your mind to calm. You take three deep breaths…in with your nose and out with your mouth. When you do this the oxygen goes to your brain and you feel instantly calmed. The more you do it, the better you get at it and the results of being calm, get stronger. — You turn on mellow music, and turn off the TV for a while. Maybe 15 minutes of calming music in the house will calm everyone down. You have a good green tea handy (not coffee to make you jumpy) and drink it when the stress is overwhelming, it helps you feel calmed and gives you a sense of caring for your own needs. — You go back to stretching or walking, even if you do it in the kitchen…that will also calm your mind and reduce your stress, hurt feelings, worry and anger.
  6. Privacy. As George is getting more and more in need of full care…I am getting more and more in need of privacy. So, I have put a comfortable chair in the kitchen and a table with my reading, computer and such, next to it. I use this as my own little area…to sit and be quiet…to make a phone call or do some chat online and I find it really helpful. I may be giving George most of my time…but when he is settled down watching TV…I can go into the kitchen and watch my own TV channel or keep busy with writing, reading or on the computer. It has really made a big difference in my personal feelings. I needed help removing the feel of being “trapped” in the house.
  7. Cleaning. It is really easy to be in a home for days on end and not really do any real clean-up. There is so much to do with care giving that the energy to clean seems overwhelming. But I assure you that cleaning the house and organizing things gives you a natural ‘high’. Just as you feel good when you step out of the shower –nice and clean…so you feel good when you work on one room a week and get your home clean and clear of clutter. Older people that live in homes for 10,20,or more years get used to their surroundings. That means that they just turn off their brain to the living areas of the house. You have to fight this.
    >>I am thinking this way…when George passes, I will be on my own…I will be upset and sad…so why not start the process of cleaning and clearing up years of “things” now?
    I first started with the garage. It had been a few years since George was able to be in the garage…it had always been ‘his space’. So I really did not know where things were, or what a lot of the tools and such – were even used for. I slowly, (I mean a couple hours each week when I was taking out the garbage) sort and put a couple of plastic bags full of things that we no longer needed or used into the garbage can. I gave things to the Goodwill, I threw out things. I asked neighbors what tools were for and marked them or sorted them for George’s son to take home. I am proud to say…the garage is now clean and clear. NO…not perfect…but I know what things are…and George’s old stuff is really now gone. He had saved 15 books on car repair for various cars we had over the years. I do not fix cars…so those where thrown away. The fishing and camping things were given away, the boxes were cut down and slowly added to the recycle each week. Now, I feel like the garage is mine and I know where things are when I need them. One step, one room at a time…but keep moving through the house. A small paint project, new throw pillows…life can feel fresh and clean with small changes.
  8. Retreat. I tend to just be quiet and stay close to home now. I used to be a very social person and my Georgie and I would go out to meetings, to visit our family and friend, to work, to dance, to eat, to do sports and to go to church. Now we are “at home”. So, I am making more of an effort to call and invite family or friends to come and visit. I bake cookies or a pie (or buy them ūüėČ and put on the coffee and we enjoy a good visit. George likes the visits and I keep them short and within reason so he does not get too tired. But I get the reward of friendship and family. Yes, it means I have to clean the house and get out of my sweats. Yes, it means I have to take time to invite and prepare a small treat for my guests. But the return for my efforts is laughing and connection with family and community.
  9. Personal appearance. How easy it is to just cave in and wear easy and older clothing around the house. So last year, I went out and bought a few new things to wear and I try to dress up a bit every day. I used to dress in suits in my working days…so its nice to put on a bit of jewelry and make sure my hair is done and nails are done. If you find that you have let your self just melt into the daily grind…its never too late to change. I have a good sonic tooth brush, I have a wonderful fancy face scrubber and I make sure I am cleaned and have my moisturizer and lipstick on each morning. I wear clothes that are comfortable, but colorful and I add vests to keep warm…but I also add a scarf to feel colorful. I don’t care if you are man or woman…you know what you can do to look better and feel clean and proud. If you keep yourself groomed…you will keep your senior groomed and that adds a great deal to your inner sense of self and emotional health.
  10. Spiritual time. I certainly do not care what your spiritual leanings are because there are thousands of folks reading my blog…so there are thousands of different thoughts and beliefs. But I want you to start to take a time each day…to just go to your Private area…and get quiet. Relax your mind and go to the space inside your mind…that will bring you peace. If you like to read a book or daily word…if you like to just write down positive statements or listen to music or step even farther and connect to a faith leader online. Go to youtube.com and listen to someone on a subject that allows you to feel closer to your inner you. If you have gotten far away from the practice of prayer or meditation…don’t worry…it will come back to you. When it becomes a daily habit for you…you will find your mind, body and emotions will start to be stronger and more relaxed. I reached out to a former pastor and he is now stopping by monthly or when he is in the area…it has made George feel good and look forward to the visit, too. Do good things for you…and you will be able to do good things for the senior that you care for each day.

I hope this gives you ideas of how without money or a lot of personal time…you can still make changes that uplift your mind and spirit. I thank you for giving another year of care to your senior and I honor the love and the part of your own life…you are gifting to another. francy

PS…would you please go to the right and sign up for my blog? Thank you..it will be sent to you when I write it and you can enjoy it automatically. I am not writing as much as I used to because George’s care is getting more time consuming…but I am still here if you need me. Just send me an email…francy

Here is to your health and happiness in 2014

e is for Escape

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Dear Francy is a surprise today:¬†Escape for seniors in care and their Care Givers…a guest post by a very wise lady. Rachelle Reese writes wonderful books and is an¬†extraordinary¬†woman. I know you will enjoy her post. ¬†I am in hopes you will try her books and fall in love with them too!¬†

How does a senior read ebooks  ow.ly/cetIt

Senior reading an ebook like ¬† “The Reunion” on a reader

I have always been an avid reader. I love the look of the words on a page, the feel of paper beneath my fingertips, but most of all, I love the way a book can carry me away from my own troubles into an alternate universe. While recovering from surgery several years ago, I devoured every book I could get my hands on. Books were my relief from the boredom of laying around, unable to do anything. And while I read, even my pain did not seem as bad. Unfortunately, this meant that my husband had to locate and bring me books. The smaller books, I went through too fast. The larger books were heavy and cumbersome to hold. Plus, books are expensive.

Fortunately, today readers have more choices. eBook readers are light and hold a large number of books. For example, the 6″ Kindle weighs under 6 ounces. There is a huge selection of eBooks available, at various prices and even free. Best of all, you can browse through the titles, select the books you want to read, and have them delivered to your device immediately. This is an ideal solution for a homebound senior.

When choosing an e-Reader, it is best to visit a store where you can hold it. The e-Reader should feel as comfortable in your hand as a book. Use the controls to make sure you will be comfortable using it. Some e-Readers have a touch screen. Others have buttons.

If you don’t want to purchase, or can’t afford, an e-Reader, you can still read eBooks on your PC, tablet, or smartphone. Both Kindle and Nook have players that allow you to read eBooks on a variety of devices.

Another advantage of eBooks is price. Some authors offer their eBooks at a lower price than a paperback. If you have a Kindle, you can subscribe to Amazon Prime, which allows you to borrow books for free through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. And many authors promote their eBooks by offering free giveaways. For example, we are offering the Kindle edition latest book in our Dime Store Novel series, The Reunion, free through Monday July 16th.¬† If you’re not sure whether you’d like an eBook, download it for free and give it a whirl.

Rachelle Reese is the coauthor of the Dime Store Novel series and two short story collections: Bones of the Woods and Mind of a Mad Man. She lives deep in the woods with her husband, a bunch of dogs, three cats, a herd of cows, three donkeys, and a guinea hen.  Their Dime Store Novel characters blog at http://dimestorenovel.blogspot.com.

Note from francy: Amazon is featuring Rachelle Reese’s book ¬†‘TheReunion’ on their page and if you hurry you will get it FREE. She and her work are favorites of mine. Don’t be afraid to try new things…if your dimes¬†are low, ask your kids for a reader. I love the way you can adjust the vision of the fonts up and down…at the end of a busy day I make my fonts BIG and my tired eyes can see again! Embrace the good changes in life. eBooks are a wonderful way to carry your own personal library around with you in a small size. If you go to a doctor’s office and have to wait, out the reader comes and you can relax and enjoy a chapter of your book. I adore mysteries and I have dozens of them on my Kindle to read at moment’s notice. If you enjoy the bible…you will really adore the eBook readers…you can take notes and highlight places that you want to come back to again and again. Just click here to see Rachelle’s book CLICK

francy Dickinson with her Bichon, Missy

As usual, I bless you on your continued care of your loved one. I understand that thank you’s are few and far between…but giving to them when are unable to care for their own needs is such a kind and loving thing to do. Be sure to Click on Click to see Rachelle’s book…and click on Sign UP with me on the right side of the screen so you can be notified when I update you with a new blog…francy

Dementia – Alzheimer’s Spouses Care Tips

Ideas to keep the spouse of dementia and Alzheimer’s seniors strong throughout giving care…by francy Saunders

Alzheimer's spouse keeping calm

George enjoying the dogs n keeping calm

Dear Francy; My husband took the car out last night and ran it into the neighber’s rockery. I was making dinner. I left him sitting in front of the TV shouting at a baseball game. Then crash! I feel like my insides are gone…my head is empty, my heart is not even in my body anymore. What do I do?

You keep going on. You keep making dinner and knowing that you are doing what you can with dementia. You tell him it was OK and you bring him in the door and give him sugar to calm him down. You keep his name on the car insurance even though he has not driven in a few years. You get the car fixed or use “Hello Kitty” duck tape to fix it yourself. You are a strong, Pioneer Woman and you can do it!

This letter hit my heart, because I have experienced so many of her feelings. Let’s face it…this is our life. No one else understands but us…we do not come from our house and go somewhere else to rest at the end of the day. 24/7 is no joke for us…it is what we live 365 days a year. I am talking to you, not to the daughter or son or dear friends that help us give care. I am talking to the wife or husband that is the full time care giver, plus the lover of the one that has dementia. YOU and I are the ones on the front line…we understand each other.

Here are some tips to help you cope with your non-stop care giving:

  • Never believe that your spouse will stay. Think toddler; they would never be left in a danger spot, you know they will not stay. So use that thought pattern when you are trying to keep your senior safe.
  • Never believe that your spouse will take or eat anything you give them. They may even hide it. Keep a check on what you give to them, so you know where they are in protein and sugar. Give up ¬†healthy food ideas…feed them what they will eat and try to slide in a high mineral and vitamin each day with their other meds. Do healthy eating on the sly…if you can make veggies look fun…or serve them with a dip…do it. Just know, intake of food is the goal…adding a supplement drink is great…but will they drink it?
  • Hide those keys to the car. Just like you would do if you had a teen in the house that was always asking for the car. Tuck your keys away in a special place that only you know and do it¬†repeatedly. Take the second set of keys and put those in your office, far away from the main house.
  • Treat your mate like a toddler when it comes to going out the door. Tell them ice cream, donuts or coffee shop is there treat — if they just stay calm and follow you around while you are out of the house.
  • Get new clothes for the senior to wear around the house. The old complicated pants with belts, shoes that tie, tops that button…were yesterday clothes. Now, give them easy to slip on pants, shirts, sweat shirts, and pajamas. You can still buy style; just color and style that is easy on and off.
  • Shoes have to be strong. Get them comfort shoes to walk in and easy to take on and off. No shuffling scuffs…slippers have to have a good sole and support their feet. Falls will not only happen, but will be part of the senior’s life. Make their walking as safe as possible. Get the old shoes out the door, so their is no¬†argument¬†about what to wear. NO flip-flops, or sandels, the foot has to be supported.
  • Order a full TV schedule. Even if you and your spouse have not been TV people. Get the full cable range. You will never know what the senior will want to watch and something on the big TV channel list will hit them and they will ‘fall into’ the program. Old shows that used to have a plot or jump around in content will no longer interest your senior. They will want to watch history, or food channel, or military, or old movies. Don’t argue, just do it. TV is a way to keep their mind moving and occupied…you can not possibly be the full center of attention for an Alzheimer brain. Cable is an investment in the life of you both.
  • Make and keep a full range of doctor appointments. Even though the mind is effected in dementia…their body supports the brain. Keeping the senior well will eliminate the senior’s worry over things. They can get focused on skin sores…so have a skin doctor check each year. They will have problems with their bladder, so get a urologist to keep them on point with meds to help with function. They will have stress, so make sure your neurologist gives them a calming medication. Overall health may seem not important when the senior is going nutty day by day…but you having to care for their body¬†functions¬†or problems on top of mental health…is huge!
  • Make bath day twice a week. Water becomes difficult for dementia seniors. Get them a bath chair or bench, put on a hand held shower head and hire a bath lady as soon as you can. Even if they only come once and teach you how to bath a senior fast. This is a big deal with a senior. They have to keep clean, their skin needs attention and their hair needs to be tidy. Learning how to bath them is important. Do not put this off; even if they are in easy stage of dementia – add the bath chair or bench and hand held soon…so they move into the use of it while they are able.
  • Change your home; there needs to be a safe room…that means that your family room or living room…needs to tidy up. The dementia mind, needs less stress around it. So remove clutter, remove all the family pictures on the walls…keep it clean so the brain can see order. Take away the foot stool and get a Lazyboy so the spouse can easily get in and out of their favorite chair. Move the TV so watching it is easy and will also give them a view out the window. Many times the mind of a dementia senior will wander out to look at trees for hours.
  • Get your bedroom ready for change. Getting in and out of bed has to be easy. OR….OR, YOU will be getting up¬†every time¬†your spouse needs to go to the bathroom – all nite long! So you may have to raise up your bed so the senior can just sit up, turn and step out of bed…not stand up from the bed. Get new pillows that are strong and will wrap your spouse for the night. That will give a feeling of safety.
  • Give up the fight. Even thou rules will be broken over and over again. There is no fighting Alzheimer’s anger…you just have to let it flow and then stand your ground. YOU are the one that sets the rules of the house now. NO ONE can break the rules; so there is a lot of being the MEAN SPOUSE, but that is not going to change the fact that you set rules and enforce them for the safety of you and your spouse.
  • Eat on time, take drugs on time, take rest on time, take exercise on time….setting a routine. Routines are golden for toddlers and¬†platinum¬†for seniors with dementia. When they are on a daily pattern, they will be calmer inside their mind and that means you are able to relax more. It is not easy to have daily patterns…but you can and will set the routine and stay on it…I know you can do it.
  • Tell yourself to take a walk outside, around the house or block. A drive to the store on your own for a shopping trip…will give you a re-boot. You need it. If you have to get a sitter for your spouse…then ask a friend, a family member, a neighbor to come over twice a week for at least 90min and go out the door. Even if you just drive to a park and sit in the car in silence…and breathe.

That is it for this time….I will try to get back to a few more tips as we move along….I always thank you and bless you for all you are doing for your spouse. This is not a fun trip…how many times I want to ‘drive to Hawaii’–but I am here, day after day. I know you are there with your spouse too. Together we can make this journey with our loved one.

I know how strong you are….you are like a rock. Rocks cry….rocks crack, but rocks stay in place throughout time. You can do this, you are doing this…and I thank you for all you do that no one but you…knows you do. Its personal and private, but it also has to be shared. Share…stay well..francy

Second Spouse – Now Care Giver

by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; I am a lady that was widowed six years ago.¬†I then was lucky enough to find a wonderful man and have now¬†been remarried for four years. His first wife is still alive, they divorced. When we married, he had a pre-nup¬†so he could shelter his children’s inheritance and I still have my home that I rent out. Now, he has Alzheimer’s and I am the one to care for him. His family does nothing and I do all his care giving. His Alzheimer’s is fast-moving and he has really pulled back into his past. He talks about his first family as if he is still with his first wife and children are at home. It has bothered me so much. I do adore him, I do know he loved me when we took our vows, but now I feel lonely and sad. How can I keep my mind on our relationship and not feel that I have been lost in his health battle?

Well welcome to the sad world of family/spouse caregiving. It is a hard road and you have so lovingly taken that road with him and I want to thank you for that. I personally fall into the second spouse and now caring for my husband,too. Unlike you I have been with him for 30 years and so we have a long-established relationship. But that does not change the feeling you get when your spouse is talking about his former family on a full-time basis as if his memory was yesterday and you never existed. It is a hard thing to listen to and very hurtful.

I know like myself, you understand that your husband is not thinking in a form of hurting you…nor is he thinking in a logical direction. His mind is moving into a web of thoughts that really have no direction, so what he believes or remembers and talks about is his own focus. How can both you and I stay on the path of care giving with love and spirit if we are constantly hurt by things that our spouses say to us?

I want you to know that I have thought about this very hard and I know that the George that is inside of my husband loved me from our first meeting, he spent years telling me how much he cared for me, supporting me in my endeavors, rejoicing in my up and helping me over my downs. He laid a foundation of love for me to stand on as I make my way – by his side- through Alzheimer’s. So I force myself to remember this basic fact…and as his health diminishes and he forgets our life together in bits and pieces and maybe even when he forgets my own name or face –¬†I will have to be even stronger in my personal belief of love.

I know you have had less time to place down a foundation, but as you said, there was a foundation of love. You came into his life with joy and love and he rejoiced in his new life choice to be with you. You brought him a sense of security and unconditional love and that is a gift that is so special. Now, he slips..and your relationship is tested with health challenges that¬†are so hard. It’s not something that gets better, its something that gets worse…and you are still there giving him love and support. What his family does for him is not your concern, life is like that, very few understand care giving till it’s right in their face. But you can do things to keep your own mind and heart strong.

IDEAS TO KEEP THE SPOUSE CARE GIVER STRONG DURING A JOURNEY WITH ALZHEIMER’S:

  1. Start your day with you…even if you are awakened, do not think of that as your start point. Attend to the situation and then regroup and start your day for you. Take a few minutes in or out of bed to breath deep and thank the universe for a day of peace and comfort. Go over a few things in your mind you have to do today for your spouse. Then make a plan of things for you to do for yourself today.
  2. Begin new morning rituals, give yourself time to take a shower and get dressed and always do something for your own self. A bit of lipstick, a shave with a razor instead of electric razor, a teeth whitener, a new hair do for both a man or woman.
  3. This idea of just coping each day is wrong. Wrong. You do not cope, you stay ahead of the curve with ideas, and creative problem solving. That is the way to make care giving fresh…solve problems. Dont take your spouses downfall that day to heart, think of how to change that downfall. Are they losing strength? Then a light walk in place with 2 cans of pumpkin(1# cans) one in each hand is how to give you and your spouse more muscle mass and usage. Are they stuck in 1964? Then turn on the TV to news and talk about the day’s news and today and what you have in mind for the day. You will bring them back into the present and give them something new to improve their pathways in their brain.
  4. Feel and act young. My husband is twenty years my senior and he is now fighting with his Alzheimer’s so I tend to fall into his life, his history, his mind set. But I am not him, I am me. I have my own memories and ideas and I live for today. That is how we age well….we live in the present. So, I am constantly bringing my Georgie into the now. We do a funny little thing and I say Milk was how much in 1975? and he will guess….milk is how much today? and he will guess…he is always amazed at the price changes. See I brought him out to me, there….that is what I do over and over again.
  5. I stay strong with my own aging. I have turned sixty. I am on a diet and losing weight, I have added a small exercise routine to recover from an auto accident and I force myself to spend money on my hair every other month. My hair is done with color and style…I don’t go out much…so I guess I am a great looking “at home” lady now. I am proud of how I look and I make sure George looks good too.
  6. I have cleared out my husbands closet to make his life today, not yesterday. He no longer wears his suits and ties each day, he has old jeans and old cords and they are out. I bought him newer clothes¬†to give him an updated look of clean and tidy. If his underwear or shirts are looking old…out…and new ones come in the door. Man or woman, your senior in care needs to stay current and that keeps them “feeling” younger. Buy new clothes, get dressed with flair each day. No living in pajamas or house coats. Get your body in clothes that fit well and show off your body, or show you to get back in shape! I also do Georgie’s hair, I do it every six weeks and it is a light color to cover the gray. It makes his skin look healthy and he feels younger….”feels” that is a key here. How does someone feel about their own self? Make sure you and your spouse are keeping current and keeping their personal appearance up. If it takes a go out and get a hair cut and a pedicure it has to go in the budget and on the “out and about” list.
  7. Projects. When we work our day is filled with duties of our jobs, then we retire or become unwell and days just begin to melt into each other. OH NO – DO NOT LET YOURSELF THINK RETIRED. Think “what is on the schedule for today?” Have your spouse carry the laundry basket for you or fold for you, or push the vacuum around or dust, or refill the salt and pepper shakers or help you clean out the car, or give YOU a back rub, or neck rub. Ask them to bring you a glass of water, or tea or a banana. Keep your day filled with interaction. Do not take on all things…make your spouse function by keeping them busy with the abilities they have to use.
  8. Divide days up in the week and repeat the tasks each week. Monday, is office day for me so George sits up in my office and listens to a new audiobook on his MP3 player. Tuesday, is PT for me and so George gets me my morning tea and toast and I shower and get ready to go. Then he gets ready and before we go I make him do the ck of the front door. Wednesday, is our go to Grocery store day and he helps me with the list and the food and off we go. We take time to have a coffee at a coffee shop and I get him a pedicure¬†for his toe nails or he walks around Radio Shack or Ace Hardware. It is our out and about day. If he is feeling good, we shop and then visit someone. Thursday, is our at home and rest day. He stays down and sleeps and I work around the house and in my office. Friday, is the finish all projects and keep the house clean day. George does the housework with me, he is in charge of vacuum and I do the rest. Saturday, is our wash clothes days and he carries the laundry and folds his own with my help. Sunday, is big breakfast and walk around the block day with a movie that evening and we start all over again. See? Each day has a plan that he is involved with and as he feels unwell we change it slightly but I try hard to stick with the plan…it makes each day special but feeling safe for the spouse in care.
  9. Former family day. I have a list of people on a piece of paper and he goes down the list each weekend so he can make calls without time limits on his cell phone. He calls his kids, his old friends, his old work mates and family. He calls 3 each weekend and then works down the list through the month. It gives him a sense of connection and his family a sense of his changing abilities. I do not make the calls, they are on his auto cell phone list and if he misses them, it is his decision. This has been a good program for him and I encourage it each weekend.
  10. Big chores, George is not thrilled to work outside or do the garbage, but they are still his chores. I ask him to help me with yard pick up and to empty the waste bins….he does it with a grudge, but he does it and I continue to include him. In between each of these chores is long times of rest for George and that is when I shine. I can get the dinner going, work in my office, make my own calls and stay connected with my own friends.
  11. I have friends that make me laugh. The ones that are down and droopy are gone. I only have time to spread my love and joy with a few friends on a quick touch base. So I have friends that listen to me and make me laugh about my life, then I listen to them and make them laugh about their life. I started a close relationship with a few new friends on Twitter. I adore them. Twitter is new to me, but I have friends that I touch base with in short amounts of time. Not half hour phone calls, but ten minute typing a few messages to a few folks and reading funny responses back. This connection is totally different from¬†my past relationships. I have had friends that I traveled with, lunched with, shopped with and partied with…but those days are gone. I am here with George full time…so now I refresh myself with talking to a friend¬†and feel the support. I have adapted my friendship to different terms and it has worked out brilliantly. See Creative Thinking….I just keep sharing it. It is the key to you feeling in powered and your spouse having a high quality of life.
  12. Who I am, is a direct reflection of how George is doing that day. If I am sick, he is down. If I am depressed or upset, he responds with anger or confusion. If I am desperate for quiet, he makes noise. But if I stay in charge of my own day and set about my own duties, he also follows my lead and gets involved. If I say, I am off to PT…he asks to go with me. If it is grocery day and I am up and asking him about food choices and where to have our coffee he is up and in the shower to leave with me. I am now the captain of our ship and instead of feeling overwhelmed…I make sure I steer our ship with my own daily plan of action – that way I stay feeling in control of my life…instead of being a care giver that is caught in a web of duties.

I know that you can put away your mind-set¬†with the first family. It is simply a choice- you personally have to keep your mind in the present and know that his life is with you and you are in charge of the day. To refocus a dementia patient on to another thought pattern or action is the most important thing in your bag of care giving tricks. When he talks about the past, ask him questions…what color was that car? What time of year was it?…then take him into those places. Oh, it was Spring, hey what are we going to do for new bulbs this year, or should be think about Easter here for a dinner for the kids? You see you move the conversation around to your thinking and bring his mind with you. You can and You will do it.

I trust in your heart…blessings from a very dizzy blonde that is actually making a difference in her spouses life for the good…
Thank you, francy
Please find me on Twitter @seniorcaretips
Enjoy my recipes: http://joyfilledcooking.familyoven.com/

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‚Äôs 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 ‚Äď 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.

Escape Stress and Constant Pain

By francy Dickinson www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy: I have a 10 yr old daughter and 83 yr old mother living with me. I am disabled and under continual pain. The stress level in our home is so high, it’s not healthy. I know we all feel it and react badly to it and I am responsible for changing it. But how?

Let’s just start with change, you can find change for you and that will affect both your mom and daughter. So, you are on the right track. I know that no magic wand removes pain or stress but you can learn to live with it in a way that does not do damage to you and others. I have a few ideas that I have used both for myself and for those I care- for I hope you will find some of them helpful for you.

 

Calming Pain and Stress:

  1. Pain can be controlled if it stays within an area that is workable. Pain clinics will help anyone with medications that can be used, but learning the timing of them and the additional over the counter meds is really important. Sometimes it’s not the Rx but when you take the Rx. I have been off pain meds for my back for years, but I still take Ibuprofen before I go out and do any physical chores. The before makes the difference. Timing, it is in the timing. So take note of this and talk to a pain specialist, not just your doctors. They have ideas that are terrific. Pain can be constant and still allow you to live a life, but you have to get it to a range that you can work with on a daily basis.
  2. Stress is a building situation. It will start small and then just roll downhill like a snowball during the day. To STOP it in its tracks, you have to know your own stress key. If you feel a slight head ache, if you hear your voice tone going lower, if you see the senior or family reacting badly to you- Take note you are out of balance. Take a break, walk away and always breathe three deep breaths. That allows the oxygen to come back into your brain.
  3. Pain will take you out, if it’s constant, even finding times in the day that it can ebb is important. So make sure you keep notes on your pain or stress and rank it from 1-5 during the day. You may immediately find clues to the ups and downs.
  4. Evening Pain when it is time to make dinner is always hard on everyone with pain. So my tip is to make dinner prep in the morning when you are doing your breakfast and lunch. Use the slow cooker a lot and then dinner is just a pickup.
  5. Pain every other day. It is an old trick of those of us that live with continued pain that we do certain tasks every other day. That way we do not overload our life, yet we live our life. One day you plan to dust and vacuum, the next day you stretch, rest or go for a walk. One day you sit at the computer for a few hours the next day you stand and the clean the kitchen. Changing daily tasks keeps your body from grabbing hold to pain in any one particular point.
  6. Pain/15 minutes break. My sister had a very bad back like mine and she developed a 15 minute rule. Like many that take a 15 minute break, she would take a 15 minute physical work time and then sit down and rest for a few minutes and start again. She was able to paint the inside of her home, work in the garden and clean, by just going slow. It takes a lot of discipline in these fast times of ours. But you would be surprised at the work you get done with very low pain received from doing it!
  7. Stress over what? If you do keep your journal and write about your pain or stress, you will be able to see the launch points. Words, deeds, multi-tasking what is your weak point that sets you off? You are the one that has to do the work to find that out. So you can avoid it or change your mind towards the event. Down load a Journal program for your computer and get in the habit of writing a little bit about you each day. It is a good habit; it will help stress and stress or pain. I use Star Diary and love it, I downloaded it and paid around $10 for it and it has been a gift to myself. (you can have a password to keep it private)
  8. Get away. I know it is easy to say and hard to do. But you have to remove yourself from your home or work. Take time with one family member at a time, or just alone. That means that you go to the grocery store and do not go right home. Stop at a coffee shop and just sit with a coffee or tea and muse at the others in the shop. Let time bring your stress down and go home relaxed, instead of exhausted from shopping.
  9. BE verbal. I would find myself on the edge so often when I had mother in my home for 24/7 care. I would just tell my husband; “I am sorry if I am not pleasant today, I just feel totally stressed.” He would usually go and sit with mom and get her calmed down and give me time for a bath, nap or just sitting quietly alone. I did not have to ask for his help, but I would have asked if I needed it. Talking to family and not keeping it to yourself is really important. I would tell mother I was taking a down day. She would then know that I was going to give her food and respond to her bell when she needed me, but I would be taking a nap, reading or be out in the garden and she was fine on those days. We just had to work together.
  10. Taking a trip from anywhere without travel. This is the real gift that I hope I can give you. During days of bad chemo time, I learned how to do a self hypnosis/meditation that helped me so much. I have moved it into my normal life pattern and now it is part of who I am. A simple start; just take a break anywhere and be quiet, close your eyes and think of a place you would like to be. It may be on the beach or hiking in the woods, or shopping at the mall. It is your thoughts that bring you to a place that makes you comfortable and smile. Be at that place and just rest there, feel the breeze, smell the surroundings and feel the warmth or cold. Be there in your mind, so when you open your eyes you have a feeling of renew ‚Äď The more you do this simple exercise the better you get- the more places you go – the more relaxed and eased with your pain or stress.
  11. I have always got a book developing in my mind or a project that I am working on ‚Äď inside my head. When I have quiet time, I think about it and I am right there looking at it and making it work. This will take me out of deep pain and deep stress. My mind starts to become involved in this complex dreaming state. Like remodeling a home step by step, creating a garden step by step, cooking a meal step by step. My mind goes through the steps and before you know it, you’re pain is lowered and your stress is dropping away.
  12. Finally, no excuses. I try hard not to give myself excuses for my behavior. I do apologize to others if I find myself difficult. But I do not explain why I am difficult. My pain, worries or stress is not their life, it’s mine. I have to deal with it, change it and move on. I do sit down and share my problems with family and friends but I do not dwell on it nor do I talk about it without end. There is a difference between sharing and getting support and driving family and friends crazy. We all have to know those lines.

Looking for help and finding others that have similar problems is really a good thing. Keep the sharing positive with ideas of support and change. Twitter, chat rooms and local support groups with similar situations as your own make a huge difference. But they are not places to go dump! They are places to ask questions, share experiences and ideas and give your own support to others. In return you will learn so much about your own situation and how to better it.

I love the fact that you take on the idea of change for good- for YOU and not change for others. That is really the key, only you can change you and that change, no matter how slight, will ripple out to your friends, family and co workers. Your investment in solving your stress and pain will result in your everyday world really improving in quality.

Thank you for writing to me. I would like to invite you to my web site for other information www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Thanks, francy

I am on Twitter @seniorcaretips join me!

Dear Francy Help with Alzheimer’s Medications

by francy Dickinson     www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Just returned from training for a few days had a great crowd and did a nice class in senior emergency preparation. It’s always enjoyable to train a good group that are active in their minds and bodies even at advanced ages. The word is aging, but trust me – they’re doing it with grace. For all of you that are joining my blog today…thanks for the good time hope you enjoyed all the new information. By the way you will find my Care-Givers Workbook 101 on the products page of my website and it has loads of tips for caring for dementia and Alzheimer seniors.

Dear Francy: My husband does not want to take any medications for his Alzheimer’s. He has good health and he does not want to “feel funny” – I care for him in our home and I am so worried about it all.

Well, bad news for your husband, his Alzheimer’s has impaired his ability to make decisions for his own health and you get to choose if he needs different medications or care.¬† Your husband’s demeanor is only going to get worse. It will either go into highly frustrated and intense anxiety or it will slow into a non-responsive or retreating mode. Either way, they are not good for him or you.

Now, I know you have been a good kid and gotten a Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney to cover your husband. If not…this is the moment to do it. Go¬†on the net¬†and buy the Borderbund software called Family Law– it’s very inexpensive and it has a step by step program to take you through the legal part of the Health Care Directive. (Or buy a hard copy of the directive at Office Depot) Then go and get it notary stamped at the local bank and then make copies for his doctors so there is not question on who is making the decisions.

Then sit down and write your doctor ( a neurologist) a letter. On the top it will say. Please have doctor read this before our appointment on Thursday and then put into my husband’s file – his name here– Then you begin. You tell the doctor how your husband is acting at home. Is he upset and worrisome, or super quiet and not interacting with you? Just slowly go through a few things that bother you about it and ask the doctor to begin your husband on an emotional drug to keep him calm or keep him engaged in the world and a Alzheimer’s mediation that works for mild Alzheimer conditions. Always remember to ask for generic if he can so you can afford the medication. Then you will fax the letter (go to a Copy Shop for faxing if you need to) and make sure it is sent off and they receive it before your appointment. If you do not have an appointment make one and send the letter to arrive a couple of days head of your appointment.

This means the doctor has time to review your letter and make a review of your husband and his condition and when you arrive you will find him informed and ready to help you. Because this is really about you. You are the care giver, you are your husband’s only life line! Without you, he is not able to do anything. So, you are the important party here. If you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to give him good care, there is a problem. If the overwhelmed is from no medications, that is just not fair to you.

I have to help my husband with his meds twice a day. He would never, and I mean never remember, on his own. I had a day when I was training and then came home tired and he went all day without his meds. Morning and night. I had put them out, but I was not there to remind him. So, by the next day he was acting strange and I checked and was so disappointed in myself for not remembering to check on him. It’s hard for us as care givers. After all – I was tired and stressed with the training class and all that went around it and was gone, then home to be exhausted and losing my voice after training for five hours a day for three days…so, I was in need of a little TLC too!¬† No one can be perfect, but we can try to do as good a job as possible. The next morning we started again, I gave him his meds and he went forward on his plan. But his body did not, he had a very bad reaction to the meds with diarrhea after the body had gone a day without them. So, this is why meds are so important to take on time and for us, as care givers, to have a plan in place if we get tired or sick.

My husband had a cell phone, so if I am not going to be handy…I set the alarm for his pill time. He is still well enough to remember what the alarm is when it rings. But if he moves out of that stage – and into a deeper problem with memory –¬†I will just call my friend or sister and ask them to call him and remind him and ask him to take the pills while he is on the phone.

George’s Zoloft is so important to his emotional health that it reflects right back on me if he does not take it. So, I always say if George misses the morning pills, that “I have missed my Zoloft” – Even if I personally do not take the meds, they effect my life so negatively if he forgets to take them- it feels like we are one with this medication. Medications for emotional and mental conditions are simply to be prescribed and taken. There is no excuse other than selfish behavior- the reason for so many homeless people is that they have problems taking their meds and it reflects so badly on their abilities they can not function properly without them. Dementia and Alzheimer’s is a combo of emotional and mental conditions that have to be cared for and treated with medications to ease the symptoms.

Often my husband will ask me,” Don’t you¬†think I take too many pills?” He can do this over and over again. So, I have a list of his meds and what they do for him and I just show him the list and ask him which pills he wants to stop taking? – The answer is always, “Well I suppose they’re all OK, you should have shown that to me before.”¬† (Trust me, I have shown this list to him on numerous occasions, but his memory for things like this is simply non-existent. This having a list handy is really a life saver for me- on the daily repeats that he now endures)

So, to review:

  • Get your legal papers in order so you’re really accepted as the person in charge of decisions for anyone with dementia/Alzheimer’s
  • Explain the changes in your spouses behavior to the doctor in a¬†letter – sent before his appointment.¬†Then you¬†will not have to¬†have an embarrassing confrontation in front of the doctor. This will allow the specialist (neurologist) to make¬†a better choice of medications. Sign the letter with your name and Power of Attorney on the bottom…so he knows you have the ability to make these decisions.
  • Make sure medications are taken on time, everyday…no matter what is happening in your life.¬†Most of these drugs are taken with food, so after breakfast and dinner is better.¬†Ask for generic for your budget and if they are too expensive- tell the doctor to give you a slip that you can fill out and send into the drug¬†company and they will gift you the drug –¬†if you’re on a¬†tight income range.
  • Remember the care giver is just as important as the patient. You are the reason for his health and well being. You are the strength that is going to carry him on for a long time in your own home. If he¬†wants to be in his own home, you get to set the rules and taking meds and keeping him safe is your job. You make the decisions now. That can be hard for people that have had long time marriages and the husband has been the power point of the relationship. But life changes, you now have to stop being the nice girl¬†that listens and follows and become the assertive lady that sets the pace and keeps the care level high.
  • Think of yourself as part of a care team.¬†Your husband, then you, as the care giver, and then the doctor…that’s the triad that is going¬†to make this¬†tough situation of giving care for¬†the long term, to Alzheimer’s¬†spouse –¬†successful in your¬†home. ¬†

I applaud you for your kindness and patience in your care giving. Alzheimer’s takes more than a Seniors mind, it takes the once sweet relationship of husband and wife and turns it on it’s head. It leaves the care giver lonely and feeling alone before the spouse has even died. But you are not alone, you have so many others that are right behind you and you need only ask questions and we will all try to help.

Please go and enjoy the rest of the Alzheimer blogs on my¬†Dear Francy¬†blogs¬†and visit my website www.seniorcarewithspirit.comto get more information. Don’t forget, when you get to the stage that you need¬† care facility help for your loved one, please contact me and let me help you through that process with our Loving MemoriesSenior Care Facility Placement Service that is FREE for you to use.

Thank you, francy