Does Your Senior Know Fall is Coming?

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How to note changing seasons for seniors in care by francy Dickinson

fall door decor

Dear Francy; Mom is hot, she is usually, always cold and now she is hot. She is wondering if I can take her to the old family cabin. We sold it years ago — So, she is just sitting in front of the TV and does not want to go outside at all. She fussed with her bath lady and she is a grump.. Ideas? 

Labor Day is change of season for me. I always make changes. Even though I live on my own now and no one will see my decor I do the change for myself to honor the season changing. I change the Garden Banner into one that has pumpkins on it so when you are sitting outside you see the fall decor. I bring out some of my fall things for the house and go around and just place things here and there that represent fall. I buy small pots of mums and put them out on the front porch. (A perfect thing for the senior to do!)

Sit your man, or woman senior at kitchen table and bring in some plastic bags to protect the table. Have your pots of small mums on the table and help them put the small pots into a larger basket or pot for decor by the front door or the small patio. The actual hands in dirt is very relaxing for the senior. The potting then tells them the season is changing. They need to take note of seasons so their every days don’t blur.

If they are not able to help you with potting, then bring out the throws and give them a good wash and have the senior help you fold them and decide to put them on the backs of chairs or couch. Talk about the weather changing and let them know the hot late summer will soon be gone.

late fall 09 017Make a pumpkin pie…most of us are very deeply connected with food. Pumpkin pies tells us we are close to fall and gives us a great treat on top of it.

Pick up Pumpkin Pie lattes at the coffee shop and make a big deal about them. The senior will enjoy the treat and get the picture of fall coming.

If your senior is in a care facility…go over and sort through their summer clothes and bring a big plastic bin with fall clothes. Make your change. Leave them a few cool tops, but slip in longer sleeve shirts and sweaters. Get their closet cleaned out and let them see and feel the change in what they are wearing. I love the vacuum bags you can buy for clothes. It makes storage of your senior’s wardrobe all compressed down and easy to wash and store in the garage or closet of your home without taking up much room. You do not have to take a closet from your own house to hold Grandma’s clothes…you can just put them into the bag and vacuum it down into a nice thin storage bag that you can see thru to locate anything you need. Its a winner and they are reusable. Click here for bags. 

Make a big deal about fall outings. Don’t just watch football, make the football game a celebration, with your senior. My dear friend Bob, gave me a Seahawks throw, I get a kick out of having it…even though it does not change the world…it changes my feeling of fall and involvement in the team. Drive to the park and sit and look at the leaves changing color, go to the local market and let the senior see the pile of pumpkins. Change your seniors purse, or tech bag that they use by their chair.

Seniors love candy…so change the candy dish to some fall looking candy….it all starts to combine the season in their minds. They may forget it the next day…but it goes into their mind and will calm them and show them that seasons are moving. Life is important everyday, it does not just become days rolling into days.

Don’t forget that fall is flu shot season. There are newer over 65 flu shots this season…make a trip to your local Walgreen’s for a flu shot. No appointment needed. You do not have to go all the way into the doctor’s office. Walgreen’s take insurance and the shot is of no cost with medicare and supplement combo. If you are a primary caregiver to little ones or seniors…get your flu shot too! We do not need to have a horrible ending to a sweet life over the flu going into complications and changing the abilities of any senior in care. I just got mine and it was easy as pie.

Why am I hungry for a pumpkin pie now? Blessings, francy

 

 

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NO MORE HOLIDAY DÉCOR?

Seniors Need Holiday Decor

Keep Senior Happy at Holidays

Seniors Stay Healthy with Holiday Celebrations By francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; Mother lost Dad last April and this is her first holiday without him. She has decided that since it’s just her, in her small home she will not decorate for Christmas this year. She has always been heavy on the holiday decorating so I am surprised and worried it’s a sign of depression. Should I be pushing her into a therapy session?

Any therapy is always good for people to have when they have been through a loss of a close loved one. If you decide to go that route I think a senior support group with folks of similar experience would be wise instead of a heavy duty therapy session. Most seniors will go through all the stages of loss and it may take them longer than younger people…to process. Holidays without spouses are tough…so give her room to grow into the new person she has to now become.

NO MORE DÉCOR? NO WAY

I feel very strongly about décor of any kind for the seasons. Not just Christmas or Halloween, but all the seasons. As we all go through life on a busy highway; days begin to slip away so fast. One day is two weeks, then its three months and then it’s our birthday round again. To keep our minds in the present and to celebrate life’s seasons we need to remind ourselves of the season and the best way to do that is to decorate with touches of spring, summer, fall and winter.

Being alone is no excuse to ignore the celebration of life that goes on around you. There is not a season on our calendar that we do not find a holiday or special birthday or event…to celebrate. This way we make a point of the celebration and have something to look forward to and a way to use our creative side.

This idea that we can change what we eat and stop cooking properly or change how we clean our homes and live among a pile of newspapers — grows with the idea that being alone, means no one cares. WRONG. We have to care; our homes and our lives have to be led as though we are having friends over that evening for cake and coffee. It’s a mindset that needs to be instilled in small children and seniors. Live your life like you are prepared for an upcoming event…and an upcoming event will happen!

My mother lived a very long life in good health and totally busy at all times. She passed at 100 and she had made the most of her full life cycle. She would talk to me about all her girlfriends starting to age more and more. “Francy, she lives in a tiny hole of apartment and has no room for us to play cards.” Or “Francy, she let her hair go gray and instantly started walking so slow she gave up our walks at the mall.”

Mother would share these things with me. She watched others go through their idea of what was accepted as “Getting Old” or being “a Widow” and she never liked what she saw. So, mother kept her home up on a daily basis. She would get up and pick up the small but ample apartment she lived in each morning. She would have her breakfast and then do a little clean-up with dusting and doing her dishes. Then she would settle in and do some reading or her knitting. If the weather was nice she was outside working in the yard for a few hours and if the weather was bad she was meeting a friend for a walk in a covered spot. She got out and about twice a week. She baked pies, cookies and froze them for family a couple of times a week and she had her home ready for the season at all times.

Everyone enjoyed stopping to visit mother. Her home was clean, it smelled delightful, her coffee pot was always brewing fresh coffee and those cookies could be popped in the microwave for heating up at any time. It was always enjoyable.  On her own, she would sit in her living room and enjoy the clean open room and her décor for the upcoming holiday.

YES…the décor was minimal compared to her days of a big home, larger family or when her husband was alive. But the seasonal décor was important to her and she was always finding ways to make small statements that spread the cheer. Her door would have a hanging craft piece that she would find at the local craft fair. Her coffee table would have an arrangement fitting the colors and theme of the season. She would have a small table top tree and a village scene on her dining room table. She found ways to make the joy shout out, even if it was holiday towels in her bathroom or a pretty holiday theme platter or cookie jar on her kitchen counter top. All year long, she found ways of stating the season changes and that made her home special for us to visit…and for her to enjoy her life on her own.

Being inside of life as it moves is so important. If you allow yourself or your senior to sit in the dark and retreat they will begin a downward slide in their mental and physical health. And remember; the argument that, “I really don’t care anymore now that dad is gone” – does not work. First, family and friends are still in place and need the senior. Second; letting ourselves go down does not mean a pretty dying in your sleep. It means you could have a serious heart problem and not be able to breath and have to use oxygen all the time, you could have a stroke and have to drag your legs around or be bed-ridden. Trust me; life is not perfect…so the alternative? Change the outlook in small ways to keep things comforting for the  senior, but in flux. Change is scary, but it’s also exciting.

NO DO NOT MOVE WITHIN A FEW MONTHS OF LOSING YOUR SPOUSE. But make changes. Take their favorite chair out of the living area. Paint the walls, buy new throw pillows. Do things to slightly start to remove them from the home but not leave the spouse with a feeling of loss every day. So, change the décor for Christmas this year; but do not put up the big tree with all the family ornaments. Leave that stuff in a box till next year and then the senior can sort the ornaments and give them to family members for special childhood memory gifts. But this year; buy a new small tree; one that spins or has those lovely laser lights inside that change color. Buy a poinsettia for the cocktail table and a nice fresh wreath for “inside” the front door so the pine scent spreads around the house or apartment. Put up some new holiday towels in the bathroom and ready a spot in the kitchen for the holiday cards. Have your mom take a picture of her and all her grandkids dressed in hats, scarves and gloves and use that as her holiday greeting card. Get her tickets to the local holiday performance of “the Singing Christmas Tree” “Nutcracker” or church play. Allow her to have her calendar filled with weekly things she will do with family and friends or the senior center. Keep her busy. So she can start to restructure what she feels is a happy holiday.

Happiness comes in all sizes and within funny events. It may be helpful to take your senior shopping for small grandkids gifts. It may be best for you to have a teen grandchild come over and do all the wrapping for grandma. It may be best to bring the senior over to your home on the Christmas cookie baking day and have her do the dishes while you whirl around your kitchen. Holidays can be remade and invented for all of us-as we age. But holidays and seasons, make our lives special. To give that up is a step towards being a sad and lonely person.

To change our lives just enough to move us into a new and rewarding future is the key for us all. Making new traditions is not hard, it just takes loving hearts and hands to help the senior see the new sights from a different window.

Blessings on all you do for your mom, francy

   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 new newsletter 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. It’s 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  a lot of care givers out there that could use someone to talk to and get ideas back. Thanks so much – francy

Elders Need Cheer Sessions

by francy Dickinson                      www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; My mother seems to be going into a deeper depression. She seems to be recovering physically well from her last small stroke, but she is just not herself. She feels down and not involved with everyday life. I am having a problem with her paying attention to what the day is or what food she wants to eat. How can I bring her around?

I am sure you have spoken with the doctor about her depression, that is a part of the brain that is also effected by the stroke and special medications can be prescribed to help her with her mental state. As the brain repairs it has to be exercised just like you are doing with her body. So you will have to make sure you participate in her emotional wellness as well as how well she walks or talks as she recovers. Even if you are talking to her over the phone each day, or in person, you will be doing a few things that will involve her mind and emotions so she gets back into life with her body and mind.

Here are some tips:

  1. Your interaction with a recovering stroke victim is in the morning or in the afternoon after food and a nap. So you get them fresh, it will be up to you to arrange your own schedule around that time frame.
  2. When speaking to the senior, use an up tone in your voice so they can see a difference in an everyday conversation, and an animated conversation. As you would a very young child of two or three, use words and facial expressions that include smiles, laugh, questions, and surprise.
  3. Prepare yourself with a list of things to talk about and always start with the day of the week. Endless days mean losing interest. “Hi Mom how is your Tuesday morning going?” That is a good way to begin, not to challenge her with a question that she can fail at the answer like “What day is today?” – Start with a positive statement that will inform her. Then go over what you know to be her usual Tuesday tasks. “I know you will be doing your wash this morning do you have it in the washer already? NO, well you can do that when we hang up and today is your day to see your friends for cards. What are you going to wear? –who is going to pick you up? OK, good well you’re going to have a busy day. I will let you go so you can finish your washing and getting dressed for the girls. I will call you this afternoon, when do you think you will be back home again?”
  4. Taking information you have and making sure it is restated and then adding questions that are easy for her to answer is how you begin. When you call back in the afternoon, you will ask about her food for that evening and suggest a TV show that is coming on that you want to watch and you will call her just before it begins to remind her so she doesn’t miss it. Ask if her wash is in the dryer and how the card party was with the girls, stretch her mind with asking about what she ate and who won at cards. Ask over anything new with the girls. Get her to talk about things that are up front in her brain. Bring out more than yes or no answers, with an upbeat voice again, ask about what the girls were wearing or where they went for lunch. Push her brain, push it in the direction that she has always had interest in, but know when to be calm and listen.
  5. When she does something more the normal daily tasks, make a big deal out of it. Let her know you are proud of her. “Wow, mom you did the wash this morning, had lunch out with the girls and then you came home and went over the floor in the kitchen? You are really on a roll, good job” – “You have gotten so much done and I have just been here at work all day, I’m impressed.”
  6. When you go over to visit and you see the house in a mess…remember her mind has to learn how to organize again. So roll up your sleeves and get one room done at a time. Find small clear plastic boxes that are easy to carry and fill them up with like items and then use a large print label maker to mark them. Just like you did for your toddlers when they had so many small toys, cars, crayons remember? Now it is your mother’s time to organize, vacuum bags, filters or parts in one box. Candles and matches in another. So when she is missing something and in a huff looking for it, she can open a cupboard and read the box. It helps her mind relearn how to stay organized and find things instead of being stuck inside a swirl of a mess.
  7. When the mind is healing from a stroke or other trauma, or in the middle of dementia the home needs to be clear and clean around the senior. If the front room or kitchen was covered with small items art or otherwise, pack them away for a while. Tell the senior you are clearing it to prepare for the room to be painted and we will go through the box and get things back in place after the painting. Then remove the box to a place  in the garage or storage area. Look around the room and see it with an eye that could get distracted. Look again, what needs to be in the room and what is just extra clutter for the brain?
  8. Example; lots of seniors have a full wall of photos of grandchildren and family members right by their TV chair so they can see it. If you look again at that wall, it becomes a maze of endless photos that have been added to over the years. So, how about picking out three or four pictures that the senior loves. Take down the older pictures, fill the holes in the wall and repaint and then put up the four larger photos in a row…so it is easy on the mind’s eye to focus on the pictures not to just see a jumble of frames. It will calm the senior’s eye and make it easier for them to rest while they are in their favorite chair.
  9. Asking your mom to help you, is a great way to help her recover her old self. What did you two always do together, maybe you cooked together, or sorted clothes in the kids room, played golf, walked, or painted walls, pictures, or worked in the yard together. Plan in your mind a task that is no longer than two hours and ask your senior to help you. Have the task all planned out so the beginning and end can happen in a short time. Together you work and together you get it done. You can stand back and admire the great result together, you can talk to others about how your mother helped you finish the task when you are so short on time. You become her cheer leader over a simple task, but it gives her such a feeling of accomplishment.
  10. Let go anything that no longer brings her pleasure. The brain in trauma, stroke recovery or dementia is simply changing, so if at one time your mother loved to bake cookies and now it is a chore. Let that part of your mother drop away. She will fill the void with a new enjoyment she has changed and changing is what we all do. This change was just more sudden than others.
  11. Anger is an emotion that will come to you and to your mother on her recovery. My husband has his dementia moments and out of those comes so much personal doubt that anger is his way to express the confusion of his brain not responding as he wants. Often stroke patients Even those with TIA’s or baby strokes- can find words are lost to them, actions are lost, rituals are no longer there, lifetimes of interest on certain subjects have faded…it will take your own personal patience to deal with this. You can see if you can easily move them back to the once loved interest or change it into a smaller and less stressful experience. My husband used to love WWII books and would read them endlessly, now he is unable to remember enough to read, so I have gotten him into the Military Channel on the TV. It’s the same information it just comes to him in a way he can absorb and enjoy it easier than reading.
  12. Even in days or times of anger…you have to stay calm. You have to back away and give them time to defuse and then re-enter and change the mood or the thought pattern so the day can go forward with joy, not stuck in anger. It takes a lot of creative thought on your part, but being there to cheer them on, will allow them to heal in a positive way instead of simply retreat on a daily basis.

I know you have had to do a lot to care for your mother. Stokes can happen in clusters, just as your mother gets well, she could be hit again. So make sure her meds, supplements and her food keeps her as protected and even in body chemistry as possible. You are the person that will give her life a guidance to calm and joy…you are giving her a gift of more than care, you are gifting her with true love. Thank you.

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

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

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

Sandwiched Mom Caregiver Squeezed with Stress

by francy Dickinson              www.seniorcarewithspiritl.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alzheimer’s Confused with Too Much Change

francy Dickinson                             www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seniors Need Goals to Live Strong

by francy Dickinson                  www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Not a Food Bargain if it Moves!

by francy Dickinson                                www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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