Keep Your Senior Safe at Home


Ideas to keep your senior safe at home by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; Mother seems to have weak legs and she has fallen a few times just getting out of her chair. I have tried to get her to exercise but she will not do anything without me doing it with her. Do you have ideas?

Keep Safe Senior tray, basket or caddy by their side.

Boy, do I get it! It seems that seniors get into a place that doing anything on their own, is a danger or confusion.Their way of coping is to stay put…in their chair. So, you will find that more and more you will have to insert yourself into their daily routine. Now, if they are in your home…we can work with it…but if they are in their home…you have to increase your visits to a minimum of three to four times a week. I would say…every other day is a must for seniors that are showing signs of worry or disorientation and the visits should last two hours. So plan to either do it yourself or have other family or paid help; set up a schedule to check on your senior.

The problem I had; I and my senior mother and later my husband were not well to do. We did not have funds to have others do the general “check-in” care. This is the real first stage of caregiving for your seniors. It can creep up on you and last for a couple of years before the problems increase so much that you need to bring the senior into your own home, move in with them, find a live-in boarder or find a place they can live, safely.

Don’t panic…not all seniors have the need for “over-see visits” so often. My dear friend, Kim has parents in their 90’s and they do well on their own. But their meals are getting dicey. It’s really hard for elders to cook and or cook well. Remember a banana and peanut butter is not a meal!!! So she took care of the problem with food delivery…I have asked her to do a blog for us. She will tell you her hints and tricks – in a later post 😉

So back to the falling problem. There are so many things you can do and I have talked about it often in my blogs. Please go up to the top of the page; in the search box — type in Falling….it will bring up other ideas from other posts.

Now, I learned a neat thing from a physical therapy person, years ago. The calf muscles are very important to prevent falls. And it does not take a fancy daily exercise routine to change them. But the every-other-day of movement (for the calf muscles) will keep them stronger. When you think about it…the calf muscles do work our legs….so let us talk exercise.

  1. CALF MUSCLES: With legs straight, up on the ottoman or lounger chair lifted-up position. (And Or) while they are laying in bed with legs straight, works too. Senior takes turn pointing feet and then pulling them up into a flex foot position. Really point and really flex, no pansy stuff, the calf muscle has to work on this one. Do this for a count of 20. Down, up, down, up and keep the legs straight as they do this exercise. Then switch to the feet making outside circles with the ankles. Count of 20. Then circle them in the opposite direction; turning them inside for 20 rounds. Just get them to do this as often as they can, once a day…great…a few times a day…like each time they go to the bathroom and return to their chair they repeat is fab!
    The second set; is to go in the kitchen. Morning is perfect for this calf stretch. Hold onto the counter with both hands. Perfect to do when you are waiting for your water to heat for coffee or tea to be ready. Face the sink and hold onto the counter and have your feet under your hips with legs straight, then just sink down about five inches and then straighten up …down and up. In Ballet its a demi-plie or small dip. Feet stay flat on the floor and your bottom is tucked under. You or the senior just dips down and straightens up. Continue this for 20 counts. This is a routine that you can do with them ….or call them on their cell and do it via face to face each day. You can do it every other day…or daily. It will be a remarkable change in those muscles for such a small time and energy output. Remember to make it your thing; “they” are helping YOU to remember to move. Seniors respond to helping you easier than thinking you are helping them. Participate with a smile and a cheerleader voice tone…not a nasty you are a pain in the bottom voice tone!
  2. OVERALL EXERCISES: There are many exercises that you can use for your senior so, make an appointment with a physical therapy person to give you about five or ten a day for your senior – it really helps. There is another thing that people forget. Ask your doctor to give you a prescription (Medicare, Medicaid and or insurance should help with this billing) for an Occupational Therapist to visit the senior’s home, or where they are living. You must be there when this happens. It will rock your caregiving boat! The OT will go around the house and make suggestions on how to help your senior. They will point out places to add handles on the wall to steady the senior with movement transitions. Like the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. They will change the path the senior uses to walk around the house. They may want their TV chair moved or things removed from the carpet or cupboards in the kitchen. This is a gift of experienced eyes to you and your senior. PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN!!

My tabletop drawer and box keeps my pens, lip gloss and such at my fingertips. No up and downs; I can be calm and just relax.

OK now that you have done the basics. Let’s chat about a change that even I do these days. It’s getting your senior; man or woman, a little basket, tray or caddy next to their favorite chair.  Here you can see that I have a box on top of a small table top drawer. I keep things inside that I need. My notebook, pens, scissors, lip gloss, Kindle, TV remote, etc. This means that once I sit down to watch TV or read, I am in my chair relaxed. I don’t have to jump up for Q-tips, or my tea, I have it at my fingertips. This means CALM..less stress, less up and down from my chair. This means less chance of falls. It also means a calming. The senior knows where the little personal creams, tissues or notes are kept. Their own spot for their own things. No losing things or hunting for them. Less stress, fewer worries, less opportunity to fall getting-up to find often used items. This was a key calm button for both my mother and my Georgie…and now me! I live alone now and need to be aware of my own safety.

Adding a new slim shelf w storage was helpful for me. It was less expensive than a fancy side table. I put it together myself…funny and yet it works!

Its often just little fixes that make a big difference to caregiving for your senior. Things that bring them calm are of high value. Getting them to make a thermos of coffee or tea to keep next to their chair so they can top off their hot drink without running to the kitchen. A special place for the remote that keeps it safe not lost on a daily basis. A place to put their cell phone and a place for their pills. I know that each home is designed for special appearance and this might totally change the “Look” of the living room or bedroom suite. But you have to “Think” what is going to work, not what is going to look pretty. You can do it….it may be another project when you are juggling a busy life, but its time well spent. Get your senior’s input for the chair caddy. You can use a basket or purse organizational caddy but get something that the senior will be able to see and lift to find their goodies inside.

I want to appreciate and thank you for your kindness to your senior. As I age and live alone, I would love to have someone to call for help. But I have lost my immediate family. So, its even more important for me to be prepared, not be afraid to ask for help and to know how to call for help if or when I might need it. Life changes; we all are marching ahead and have to face this in my own daily routine. Often seniors forget how lucky they are to have the blessings and thank you, for all you do…francy


Does Your Senior Know Fall is Coming?


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



Tips for Seniors, living alone..from francy


Ideas to cope with living on your own as a senior or caring for a senior on their own. by francy dickinson


Mother, Toots,  with her Grandson Dan visiting and leaving her happy!

Dear Francy; I just left my mom’s place, we are on our way out of town for a long weekend. She seemed so lonely, but did not want to come with us. Should I push her to join us? 

I have been dealing with my own loneliness lately and I wanted to chat about it and share my thoughts. I personally have gone through lots of changes in the last few years, I lost my husband, I lost my home and I moved out of my home town area. I still live close, but its a highway- drive of about an hour to visit old friends and family and I am not really enjoying that drive. So, I have tried to make my new experience more comfortable for myself and keep myself busy with new things.

My mother always told me to live my life like I was going to have company that day. She was a woman that lost her husband at 62 and she kept working till she was 70. At 71 she moved out of her very large family home to live above my sister in a newly constructed upstairs apartment. She was there until she was 83 sharing life with her daughter, Charline. They had loads in common and were not just family but dear friends. They both lived alone and they shared their time working in a wonderful garden area they had created. They often shared dinners, they drove around to specialty nurseries on the weekend and mother had a life-long group of friends that she did things with…like play cards.

My sister shocked us all at the age of 55; when she found out she had cancer and in just a short few months passed away. At 83 my mother was crushed and totally alone. Not only did she lose a daughter but she lost her dearest friend. Not only did she lose her, but the house was in Charline’s name and went to her sons. So mother was left alone and without any investment money to make changes in her life. She was lucky to keep living in her upper apartment area free, because her grandson was kind and generous to her. But it was always a stress for her to know she had no where to go. She had a very small monthly income and her older age and health challenges really started to add up to problems for her. I was her care giver in those days and I really worried about her emotions when loneliness seemed to over take her. I would visit every other day and take her around to appointments and do things like shopping and eating out. But basically she was at home on her own.

It took her a couple of years of grief and then she started to work out of her sadness. What I noticed is how organized she stayed and how cheerful she then faced life. Lately, I find myself in her position. I have a small monthly income and my change of circumstances and having no children of my own has given me a lot of time on my own at home. But I have tried to remember mother’s tips for her lifestyle that continued until her death at 100 years.

  1. Keep your home cleaned as if you were expecting guests. Keep coffee and tea with treats ready to share with them and air out the house so it smells good to anyone stopping by. Just those little things make a difference in your day. I put things away at night to allow myself to wake up to a home clean and happy looking. No piles of magazines or pop cans, I put things away. It makes me feel free of stress when I do that daily.
  2. Keep a pet, it allows you to have someone to care about and talk to and it brings your spirits up. I have a little Bichon, named Missy and a cat, named Dottie. Mother always had a small dog…but you know a bird or fish are just as enjoyable. Adopting senior pets is a kind and loving thing to do…give it a try. It will pay back with love a million times.
  3. Keep your hair and your body as well kept as you can. My mother was not into grey hair, she had been a lovely auburn hair girl all her life. So when she aged she kept a light strawberry blonde on her graying hair. It kept her happy to see her hair look good in the mirror. She used to say her aging was really quite surprising to her. She would walk past a mirror and not know who that person was. So, I get my hair done and I get my toes and fingernails done, too. That way I feel in the swing of things and ready to hit the grocery store looking together and enjoy my appearance.
  4. Keep your clothes up to date. You don’t have to over do with buying new clothes, but the idea that you are alone at home and do not need anything new to wear is not a good one. You need clothes to make you feel happy–man or woman and they should fit well no matter what shape your body is in, so make a budget for at least one piece of clothing each month. Shop around to buy something with color and on sale. It gives you a challenge.
  5. Keep a calendar by your TV chair and write down your weekly “To Do’s”. Just because your days are your own, should not mean you are not planning for full days. Even if its a note for a TV show you don’t want to miss. Write it down. If its a family birthday, even a text message is a welcome, if not a card or a gift to shop for and deliver. If its a holiday, there can be a little baking to take to the family event. If you have to drive far, then get a family member to pick you up. Or decide to drive and then stay-over and come home the next day. Your family will make room for you and enjoy the visit.
  6. Don’t just think you need to eat a little and not worry about food. My mother lived to 100 years, she did that as a healthy woman. That was because she always made sure she ate well. She did not eat a lot, she just planned her meals. She would make stews or soups and freeze some for a dinner later and she ate salads with fish or meats on top. She had her favorite treats and she was in the kitchen because her dog, would not let her forget their dinner.
  7. Keep something green around you. Even if you only have a small apartment, you can have a few house plants or a pot of herbs, by your kitchen window. Watering plants and keeping them healthy is a good pass-time. If you are lucky enough to have a patio then summer pots and winter greens are a must. A nice chair to sit and good book to read…now that is what living alone allows you, time to spoil yourself.
  8. Move. Mother always exercised each morning. It does not matter what that means to you…make it easy but make it a daily requirement. I remember one of my great aunts had terrible arthritis and she told me one day, that if she did not stretch out her arms and legs every day, even if she was not feeling well, they would freeze and she would lose the ability to use them. Stretching is the most important of all…but walking around your house or down the street is a gift you give to yourself. Its a personal choice how well you are in your senior years, so it takes a strong commitment to loving yourself to be well for year after year. The alternative is losing your independence …so its worth your personal investment.
  9. Do things that make you happy. I have some British TV that I like, so I make sure I watch makes me happy. I also enjoy our local Seahawk football team. August is a joy to me….football comes back. I take note of the game times and I watch them with gusto. I like to go to concerts in the park and listen to jazz. I like to see movies when they strike me as fun, I love to walk around museums and have lunch with my friends.  What is your enjoyment? Is it time with your grand children, is it holidays with family, is it sitting in the sunshine? Make time for your own joy!
  10. There is a difference in having a sad day and having a very sad week after week. If you find that you are immersed in feeling alone; go to your doctor and talk to them about your emotions. You know your brain can get out of order and chemically be off? Medications can help you get back in the right mood and keep you feeling up and ready for action. So if you feel you don’t want to bother doing things…get into the doctors office and have a chat with them…let them help you. Its as important as having heart issues or sugar diabetes…its a chemical change in your brain and you need to get it attended to as soon as possible. Keeping well, taking your medications, drinking water and eating real food…is how your life will take a turn to enjoyment, not just days following days. Live like you are going to have a guest that day, clean up your home, and your own body and be ready. You deserve having things in order and a delight for your eyes.

Remember no one makes you happy. You make you happy. You have to work on finding things to make you feel joyful and loved. Don’t think you are too old to fuss…because in a few months you will be even older. It is not age, it is your life…live it one day at a time and enjoy the ride. Life does not have to be a non-stop fun fest, but it should be a lovely ride that brings you feelings of safety and joy. Blessings, francy



Summertime Tips for Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s Seniors


Ideas to help in advanced stage dementia for seniors; by Francy Dickinson

Summertime can be both uplifting and totally draining for seniors that are going through dementia. So to help you, as the caregiver, I have some ideas I have found work well.

  1. Heat is not a friend to a senior. Usually as we age we tend to be colder and when you add medications that can change the brain; seniors can be chilled all the time. Make sure the senior wears a light sweater or jacket. Do not turn up the heat in the summer, it is not good for them to sit in a room and get their bodies overheated and dehydrated. Check on them. You do not have to turn on the air conditioner, but using a fan is a must. Make sure the fan is safely put in a place the senior will not knock it down. If they go outside SPF is a must, their skin is very sensitive and needs protection. I like to make sure man or woman that they have a hat and a pair of sunglasses that fit over their regular glasses.
  2. Walking out the door with a walker or behind the senior’s wheel chair is a great idea. A daily walk is so good for the senior. Parkinson’s seniors especially need as much exercise as possible. So if you can get your senior out the door and sitting on the front porch or back yard, have them do some foot circles and point and flex. Ask them to bend their legs and then stretch them out while they sit and get them to  move their arms around a bit. That time in the sunshine, the fresh air and the movement will tire them out and help them have a good afternoon nap. It pays off.
  3. I would always buy flowers for pots and then have George sit at a table and help me plant them in the pots. It was a simple task, but then he had an attachment to the pots of flowers on the deck and I would be surprised how he remembered his potting experience.
  4. Walking the dog with the senior in their wheelchair is a very important outing. The senior tends to go farther with the dog in tow, then they do when you are just trying to get them out the door and down the street for a change of pace.
  5. Always talk to the dementia senior as if they are full of mind. Just talk to them about the summer holidays and let them know the day and time of year. Keeping them involved even when they seem to be so far away is very important. I always had a big calendar with birthdays, events, appointments and holidays on it in the kitchen. Each day we would start by looking at the day…he would often tell me a story about something he remembered from a childhood summer, I always let him talk…any memory is a treasure.
  6. Getting seniors new clothes may seem silly….but summertime, should mean brighter and lighter clothes. A new pair of pants and a couple of new tops, they are refreshing for us all…don’t let the senior get lost in old clothes. If they are in the care facility remember to put their name on the clothes so they get them back to wear, not lost in the may lay of washing in facilities. I would bring their warm clothes home and take summer clothes over to them. So there was no worry about them wearing only one thing over and over.
  7. Old fashioned root beer floats…going out for a dipped soft cone, or having strawberry shortcake are memories that we all have and food often deeply in-beds in the senior’s brain. So think of that when you go and visit next time….take a treat.
  8. Feet are often ignored for seniors…get a good soaking foot tub and have your senior do foot soaks when you visit. Take them out to a nail parlor or senior center once a month for toe nail cutting. The foot soak is very relaxing, add 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1/4 cup Epson salt, 1/4 cup of baking soda and a hit of bubble bath in the hot soaking water. Let them soak for 20 minutes and then dry the feet well and put on clean socks. Not only does this calm them, but their feet feel fresh, if you like…put on some nice skin moisturizer and let them feel good. Its a great treat. (always have them go to the toilet before the soak…or the hot water will cause them to want to go when you have gotten them settled in the soak)
  9. There is no reason not to take your senior to a family summer gathering…just know you will only stay an hour and then bring them home. Keep them in a quiet area out of the sun and let others come and visit them, not the senior roaming around. If you stay longer have a special quiet room they can go and rest in, after a hour. If you keep a dementia senior outside and around family confusion…you will bring home a senior that will be taking a huge leap back in their ability to recover. Don’t set your senior up for failure.
  10. A quiet drive to the local park, water front park, lake, or nice park in the summer is really perfect. Late afternoon or early evening, you drive till you can park and let the senior just absorb the beauty. They often like to go back to their old neighborhood…so you might want to visit their childhood home, or early marriage neighborhood. Let them see and feel things…ask them questions about the old days…just let them talk. A good rule is 45 minutes is the safe time to enjoy an event and then move on. A short, sweet time out of their day…to change their mind-set so they can go back home and sleep well.

Thank you, for all you are doing. All of us that share care giving understand the many  ups and downs of your life. I wish you strength and patience. Blessings, francy



End of Care Days thoughts…from francy


End of life thoughts by francy Dickinson


George was quiet with his Kirbee by his side – let your anipals be near

Dear Francy; Dad has been quiet and sleeping most of the time now. He is on oxygen, high pain meds and just moves through the care giving without much interaction. I know he is getting close to passing, what should I be doing now?

The care giving in the final days of your elder are always difficult. For some the fuss of the advanced pain and  more care givers to help you is overwhelming. Some days are so quiet you are worried how to know when someone has actually passed.

Here are some ideas for you:

  1. Just be sure to talk around the person, even if they seem asleep or in a coma. Use your voice to tell them what is happening to them. “Dad, I’m turning you over now.”
    “Mother, I am going to give you a face wash and put on your moisturizer.” Just be you, speak in a normal tone, speak slowly and loud enough for them to hear you. If nothing else; it will give them a sense of calm.
  2. If you are worried about something ASK. Call the care giver line for your care giver team, it has an RN in charge of it and ask for them to call you back. Write down some questions and they will kindly let you know how to handle them.
  3. Say, “I love you.” Often. Right to the end talk and say you love them. I always tell them how much they have done for me and I appreciate all they have done. I say it often and with honesty.
  4. If there is a “wake up day” enjoy it. Many times people will be quiet for a few days and then all of a sudden they rebound and become talkative. I always know that is towards the end. Many times they will be awake longer and talk about memories and things very easily. Just know this is normal and enjoy the moments and the quality of their conversation. Often they will pass just the next day or two.
  5. Ask when medications can be removed. This allows the pill taking to be easier. Palliative care is when only the “comfort medications are given.” You can ask your care team for guidance, but this is a good thing. Not a bad thing. The senior does not have to try to swallow a lot of pills.
  6. Give them easy to swallow and tasty foods. The end of life is no time for a diet, if they want cocoa…get them cocoa.
  7. Make sure family members know things are going down. Even if you have members of family that you personally do not enjoy…let them know. Everyone is to be given a goodbye time…you just remove yourself during their visit and they say what they say. It’s all part of the passing. No regrets, be kind.
  8. Remember to honor their faith or no faith…its not you…its your senior that you honor. If you are into a faith and the senior is not…be kind. Have the minister visit you, then say “HI” to them…not spend loads of time with them when they do not practice your faith. And visa versa, being kind is the key to end of life loving care.
  9. Don’t be afraid to leave them and get some sleep. Passing comes when the senior is ready…allow yourself to eat, bath and sleep. You are a caring person, you deserve to care for yourself.
  10. Try not to worry so…I know I was a mess. But try…this is part of life…yes, its sad and hard, but don’t spend hours crying in the senior’s room before they pass. It does go through to their mind and makes them uncomfortable. They will not rest as easy…energy is the key. Keep your energy calm like you would for a young child that was unwell. Just allow the time with them to ride, have some low music on, read a book out loud, take calls from friends next to their bed and chat on. That is what comes through…an everyday tide of ups and downs.
  11. Take pictures to remember. Write a journal to process your own feelings and drink and eat to keep yourself well.
  12. Allow them to go. Tell them its OK for them to leave. That everyone loves them and if they need to leave, you will be alright. This permission to pass is more important that you can imagine.

Remember your love and care has given your senior a safe and calm life down their path. You have allowed them to feel loved and kept them from feeling alone. You live on, in their honor and you are able to know you gave them your love.

I want to thank you, for your hours, days, months and years….of loving support. May you and your senior find peace in the end. Blessings, francy

Staying Alert Means NO Silver Alert / Protecting Elders


Protecting Elders by francy Dickinson


Mom kept me safe…then, I kept her safe – f.

Dear Francy: This is my own family story. In the 1970’s my Aunt was baby-sitting her two grandchildren. They stayed overnight and she made them lunches and drove them to their elementary school, the next morning. She was never seen alive again. One year later her car was found off an old logging road and her remains found deep in the woods. She had somehow gotten confused and lost. How could that happen? Did her children miss seeing that she was getting older and more stressful and having children over-night was just a step too far? Or did she have a sudden attack of dementia? Did no one notice any warning signs? We were all heart sick. She was a dear lady and did not deserve that life-ending no matter what had happened.


  1. Take note of sudden change in personality. Example; if a person was shy and they now just push their needs onto everyone. Or, if they were chatty and now are very quiet. Change in personal moods are important and you need to write a few notes of examples and give it to the doctor’s office check-in person and ask them to “attach your letter” to the chart. That way the doctor will read it and take note of its significance.
  2. Constant anger over small things. If you are losing power in your body or mind it is frightening. You want to be in charge of your mind…so you automatically push yourself to be right. You make your point, you debate, you push and push until others do what you feel is right. That is what “taking power back” is all about. But this is also a sign that there is something going on in that mind and needs to be checked. A memory test, a talk about early signs of dementia or other mental issues. Ask your health care team to schedule a memory test for the elder and make sure you are all on the same page.
  3. Your elder has slight memory problems but they speak well and still drive. They do chores around the house and they “seem” OK. Yes, they are slowing down and Yes, their projects take longer to finish than they used to…but you do not see any danger in them staying independent. Next thing you know; your dad is taking a left turn. His driving timing is off and he turns right into my car, while I was driving in the opposite direction. Head on crash.
    I was really hurt, when that happened to me. The lady that did that to me had Parkinson’s. She told me she was on medication…as I limped around and checked on a young man with children in the other car she had hit…she was shaking and very upset. Now, I was kind to her…but it upset me that her husband (that came to the scene to bring her home) just protected her. He was telling her not to worry, they had another car at home for her to drive!!! Hello, do not tell yourself lies. If someone is suffering from high pressure of life changes, taking medications that are strong or are mentally confused…they cannot drive. You can write a letter to the driver’s department and tell them to demand that she takes another test to keep her driver’s license. Or, you can make sure no car is available for them to use. Period, subject closed. It is not fair to others and I could have lost my life. My injuries were very upsetting, because I had my Georgie at home, to care for at that time.
  4. Post Alerts in the house. If you worry about dad out in the garage, or mom walking out the front door…take note of new helper tools. There are cameras that can be put on the door bell or inside of the house. There are alarms that ring loudly when a door opens so you can dash to the door and way-lay the elder back to the living room. There are so many things that are new and exciting that I ask you to simply talk to the techie in your family to help you find just what you need.
  5. Can someone help your elder if they are upset or confused? OK, so George would have a drop in mental ability when he was under pressure so I knew I had to get him an ID bracelet early on. Just in case he was to walk away from me in a store or while I was gardening. If someone stopped him…would he know my phone number or my name under pressure? So, I looked and the ID’s were so expensive. Now that has changed. You can get a locator on their own cell phone…or on their fit watch. Tech stuff has really done well for all of us seniors…look it up on the Internet.  I got a simple RoadIDTag that was very inexpensive and has room for their name, your name and phone number – plus I ordered a health tag and added dementia to a line. Go, take a look…get one for yourself, this stuff is important!
  6. When you send your elder to another member of the family…tell them the rules. This happened to me: George had his kids in California. They sent him a plane ticket to come and visit and although he had early dementia, he had showed no signs of getting lost. So, off he went. While there he borrowed a truck to drive while his son was off at work. He drove the truck into town and then got lost. He was clear enough to call his daughter and she came right away to get him and have him follow her home. But it was an eye opener for me, when I had lost my Aunt so long ago. And he was so upset he never drove again.
    I then made sure where ever George went with friends or family…I gave them the “keep him close” talk. Then off he went with two old friends to a Mariner’s game. They had a great time, then he went to the bathroom and never came back. They went into a panic and took most of the ballgame to search for him in the huge ballpark facility. So, that was the end of going away without me telling the person about the need to keep him close. Not to mention; it was really me deciding he could only go if I was with him…because I’m a ninny. But it never happened again. That was long before Silver Alert system…and tech locators. Be smart…be ready…plan ahead. There are so many choices available now…go do home work to be prepared.
  7. Stress can really take a toll on anyone, with or without dementia. So if your elder is under stress keep an extra strong eye on their behavior. Do they have to move? Have they lost a dear friend or loving anipal? Have they taken a fall? Have they started a new medication? Have they had a small procedure like cataract removal, or colon cleaning? If so, be sure you spend time with them. Call them a few times a day, bring them into your home for a short stay…allow them to calm down and get their normal daily routine back into place. If you ignore it all…if you think, its no big deal – YOU ARE WRONG. Stress will pull many elders into a semi-dementia state or a lightly confused state. They could take a fall, take medication incorrectly, get very depressed and send them into other health issues. You have to do some planning and take note of the changes. Share change with health care team and let them inform you of things to look for to give them protected caring.
    I went through a horrible time after I moved from my long time home. Dear friends took me into their home and kept me safe while I calmed down, got feeling stronger, recovered from my grief and was ready to go forward. I was blessed with their kindness. So age is not a barrier from high emotional stress. I needed to be cared for…does your senior need that extra care?
  8. A big fall, a bad burn, the flu, heavy cough, bad allergy season, over doing resulting in sore limbs or excitement over a positive or negative event or visit. All of this can actually take brain cells away from a person. You have a stress kill of brain cells and it takes time to build it all back. Now as a young person, you recover from stress or injury quite fast…but as we all age and then go into advanced age we take longer for those brain cells to reproduce. The doctor told me that George would have six months of extra confusion until his brain could grow the cell structure back and perform at a high level with his dementia. He had had pneumonia and was acting strange. The doctor was so right. George’s over-all brain abilities dipped strongly and I was so worried he would not come back…but he did. Just a few months later he was showing signs of recovery in his abilities. If you know something has happened to your elder…then take note. Maybe extra visits to check on them…or bring them into your house on the weekends, or phone checks more often. You might even want your teen to stay with Grandma for a couple of months and check on her. Think it over…be protective and share it with your health care team.

What is a Silver Alert?

A silver alert is a public notification system in the United States to broadcast information about missing persons – especially senior citizens with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other mental disabilities in order to aid in their being found. You can call your local police department and report your senior missing and they decide to issue the Alert. It will go out to cell phones, highway signs, radio and TV station alerts and your senior will able to be quickly located.

Be Honest with yourself and your family and long time neighbors. When George was diagnosed we had our private time to grieve and then we took action. He wrote a beautiful letter to his dear friends thanking them for their friendship and telling them he was slowly going to slide. He talked to his kids and tried to let them understand it might take years, but he would be different from that time forward. I went around our neighborhood and told them that if they saw George walking alone in front of their home to please go out and get him to come home. Face it…you have to be honest to be safe. George lasted a long time in his slide…we knew what was coming. But we celebrated life as much as we could and I kept him safe. Its pointless to be private with dementia…it is not to be ashamed of…its to be honored, as with the elder’s life’s accomplishments.

Thank you for all you do for your senior. You are a blessing in their life and even if no one else is saying “thank you” – hear it from me. You are walking the walk with an elder so they are not alone in their journey…that is a loving act. Blessings, francy

Give Cheer in the New Year to Elders


How to help your senior feel positive about their future- even in stress. by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; I went over to my Great Aunt’s and put away her Christmas decor. She was happy to see me, gave me Christmas cookies and tea. But she was quiet and showed signs of depression. The house was not clean as it usually was and she had not gone to the store, she was still working on all the leftovers people had dropped off over the holidays. I didn’t know what to do..I did not want to push on her privacy.

Bright colors to denote visits, dr visits, birthdays for senior to see!

Bright colors to denote visits, dr visits, birthdays for senior to see!

It was so kind of you to go over and give her a hand. Sounds like she needs a few more visits to keep her spirits up. I would suggest you push a visit calendar. I devised these for clients. I would sit down at the first of the month with a calendar on my desk and call the elder’s family members and schedule them for visits that month. Every week one or two people would show up for a 20 minute visit. They could bring a treat, a gift or just come and enjoy! I would actually guilt them into the visit. They would put the visit on their monthly calendar and then I would weekly call and remind those on the calendar for the upcoming week. I would remind them how much my client has been looking forward to their visit. At first, everyone felt my busy-body attitude. But after the second month, they knew the routine, they knew no one wanted them to buy a gift or spend time cleaning the house…it was just a friendly visit. It does take a cheerleader to head the routine…are you up for it?

One day, years ago, when I was caring for my own Georgie; he called me “his cheerleader”. My feelings were hurt over the comment. I said nothing about it, but I thought about it. I did not want to be a cheerleader, I wanted to just be me and to be his wife. The care giving was getting overwhelming and I was tired to the bone. But the cheerleader idea went through my mind all that day.

He needed a cheerleader. He was facing serious health issues and dementia, he was trying to keep his life glued together day by day and I was his only touch to the world around him. By that evening, I spent a little time in prayer and told myself…that if I was unable to be the “old wife and lover” that being “a cheerleader” was OK by me. I still loved him dearly and I wanted him to live each day in joy. A close friend had told me one day…”What ever George wants…just let him have it – life is too short for him to be in want.”

It may sound junior high but honestly; from that day forward I was his cheerleader. I tried to think of ways to make him laugh through the rough times. I brought him meals he enjoyed on trays that looked like a fancy restaurant prepared them. I kept him clean and smelling good, with new clothes that were comfy and not looking like old man clothes. I would make TV specials, like going to the movies…with popcorn. Color was important to our surroundings so I would keep bright pillows and napkins in use. The air was kept clean and clear from the medicine and food smells. I also exercised him on a daily basis with kidding and fun music and I made him treats on a weekly basis.

I know the world is not filled with happiness rainbows when you are old and fighting health issues. But, it can be filled with people that make you laugh, kid you about silly things and bring you small or large gifts or surprises that make you smile.

Anyone can call Grandma and tell her something special is on the TV and wait till she changes the channel and then call her back and chat about the show when its over. Anyone can stop by and bring a Starbucks to a Grandpa and sit and talk about the weather. Anyone can go over to Auntie’s twice a month, in the summer and mow a lawn…anyone, even teenage kids that want to be anywhere else in the world. Teaching sharing, caring and loving hearts is what the world is about. You can gift to your charity or faith group, but gifting should always start at home within your family or your neighborhood seniors or the close unit of friends you have gathered over the years.

Fun Bulbs on the Entry or patio

Fun Bulbs on the Entry or patio

Now my tip…for my own upbeat New Year’s beginning? I always go out the door in the beginning of January and go to the store and get a few bulbs that are just poking their heads out of the ground…I plant them by the front door. That way I am able to see the movement, growth and beauty of those plants as the winter swirls around me. I can connect the bulbs with the spring that is coming and the longer days and easier times ahead. Its a small gift to give an elder. But I suggest a bowl of Paperwhite bulbs sitting on the dinning room table will give your elder a feeling of HOPE…its magic!

Simple early bulbs called Paperwhites are in stores now...they herald in Spring!

Simple early bulbs called Paperwhites are in stores now…they herald in Spring!

Thank you for your gift of love to your Auntie…never be afraid of being pushy when you know it will bring a smile from your senior. Blessings, francy