Senior Hair — Color or not?


senior-hair-colorDear Francy; My mom is 82 and she insists on coloring her hair…I think with all the meds she takes and her age, the hair color should stop. How can I break it to her?

UM, well you don’t. My mom had Auburn hair when she passed at 100 years of age. It really is a thing for the senior to decide. That may make the trips to the salon a bit much for support family or friends, but the tradeoff of losing another piece of her life…her hair color, is not worth the “put your foot down”.

There are so many things you can do these days that are easy and even the bath lady can quickly put a color rinse, in senior hair, to give it some lift. You can find easy products for color and more moisture at the drug store. Or you can go into a beauty supply and ask them for help. There are also some small tubes of fun color that could really be a great thing to give your mom a couple weeks of a slice of orange for Halloween. Or blue to highlight a special outfit. Just try to be open.

Getting older does not mean that fun has to leave your life. Sometimes hair color or nail color really gives a senior a snap of fun and their friends a giggle. So even if they are at a retirement facility…their hair, nails and lipstick can be color filled and enjoyable. Or if they are home, on their own…with few visitors…that hair color and a monthly well-deserved mani/pedi – makes a big difference in their personal view of who they are.

When I talked to my mom about her color and asked if she thought it was time to let it go gray she said; “I watched all my girlfriends go gray and when they did…they only saw their older self. So I told my brain to think young and stay red. Now, I’ve outlasted them all.”

Everyone has their own inner voice. But to me, that voice that tells a gal she is still a woman with beauty and love to give – that voice needs to always be supported, not silenced, no matter what her age. I agree with mom, when you start to think of yourself as only “old” there is a downward spiral in your mental and physical health. I have a good friend that told me that wearing make-up and doing her hair was no longer what she wanted to worry about. Yet, she always talks about how she has outlived “her time” when she begins a conversation with me.

I think keeping your hair in a style that is comfortable and still attractive and putting on moisturizer and lipstick is what keeps you feeling like you matter. Not to mention, those around you see and react to how you “care” for yourself and mirror those emotions back to you.

I have taken note of the older men in grocery stores with angry faces. They are wearing clothes from twenty years ago, tummies hanging down low and baseball caps to hide their unruly hair and their beards are not trendy…just unkept. I feel for them and wonder who is caring for them at home? I never let my George get into that rut. I kept his hair and facial hair in good order. I always kept a simple face moisturizer with SPF ready for his morning wake-up routine. I also made sure if his teeth got yellow that he had a few of those whitener strips to perk the teeth up. I updated his clothes so he looked attractive, yet comfortable and he responded by feeling good about his own self. All through his Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s downslide; I kept his daily routine of meds and light exercise to include his “look”. Everyone always told me how great he looked even well into his eighties before he passed.

I know that caring for seniors is very overwhelming with the many things that have to be done to keep them well and functioning each day. But personal grooming is just as important as it ever was in their life. And maybe even more important. Because when you start to have very little in your life ~ when you are away from your old friends, your old spouse, your old home and car…the senior’s own life seems so empty and pointless. That’s when highlighting ones own personal self-care is even more important…so the senior always feels like they are worthwhile and their current life may be different but it’s still a quality life, each day.

I know it is more work for the care giver…but it’s just so important to remember pills and exercise are only a part of a person in care. The person’s smile and personal “look” needs to have a place in the daily routine. Finding that inner joy completes the package.

I appreciate all you are doing for your senior in care. I have a sweet neighbor that is starting to replace my light bulbs…I giggled to myself the other day when he had left. You see I always remember thinking that was the beginning of the care I gave to my mother. When she asked George to stop by and change her light bulbs. I guess I’m on the same path. Aging is scary when you are not of means and have no children, I can’t help but worry about my own future as I age. But I have mother’s example of not giving in to fear and walking forward through all the times of change to help me keep going. Blessings, francy



Sumertime with Your Senior


senior gardeningSummertime fun for seniors in care by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; Mother just told me… she was cold and the day is hotter than you can imagine. I just get frustrated when she is cold and refuses to go outside in the good weather. 


I know…I know…the “I’m Cold!” is almost universal, when you hit a certain age. It has to do with medications, brain changes, body weight and all around mental state. But have you gotten your mum out the door?

Just because a senior is living alone…or in your home, care facility etc. — does not mean you don’t keep them up to date with the time of year. I know there are lots of people that are fancy doctors that think simple habits are not as important as medication. But I disagree. We all have to have our time changes on the calendar and doing certain things each year…gets us into the change in your mind and our hearts. Even if your mum or dad were not gardeners…they had gardens and they enjoyed trips to parks and hiking and outings with their kids, in their day. You need to bring that faint memory of warm days and happy times back into their minds.

So, you need to plant something. I like a small planter by the patio, window, or front door of there room. Pick out a planter that is sweet and fits the size of the project. Then buy a few flowers. It can be for outside and filled with bloomers…or a small array of inside plants. (It can even be a silk flower arrangement to make the season)

Then spread out the large plastic garbage bag at the kitchen table and have the senior sit and work with you to fill and plant the container. Talk about their garden, if you have a picture of their old garden show it to them and remember old times as you plant. Then take the planter and have the senior decide where to place it.

Then its your job to remind the senior to water it. I would come over to Mom’s house and water for her…but she would sit on her porch and tell me how to do it. It was really a sweet way to be involved with the world, enjoy the small beauty of plants and the healing and calming effect they have on all of us.

tool bag My guy needed his tools. He was constantly going out in our garage and I worried over him out there. His dementia was raging, but his tools were calling. Makes me smile just to remember him standing by his tool bench doing nothing really. But in the last days the garage had to be out of range. He could not use the stairs and he could have wandered away without me right there. So, I packed up tools and put them into two small tool bags. I would bring him to the kitchen table, spread out a plastic table cloth and get the tool bags out. I had put in various glues as well as tools. I would put something down that needed to be glued or tightened or fixed and he would spend an hour or two just fussing around. Maybe it was fixed, maybe not. But he was having his own space and joy within…so it did not matter what the outcome was and he felt needed.

Every family has there thing….maybe baking cookies, maybe working on a quilt, maybe painting a wall, maybe flipping through picture albums and chatting about old times. There are always things that bring you and your senior back together. I know you will find them. Because when you do, it will open their minds to times that made them happy and they will relive that time all over again. You have your own ways…just take time to make them happen.

kirbee n yogurtI appreciate all you do for your senior. My favorite thing in the summer when George’s mind was really losing its abilities..was taking him out in the car to get an ice cream cone. Simple, old fashioned fun. It makes me happy just to have those memories of them all now…my little family of two dogs and Georgie. They have all passed now, but my memories are strong…because I took time to make memories. I know you will never regret doing the same, even on days when your tired and they are testy…memories and laughing is the trick. Georgie and our dogs would be in heaven with a frozen yogurt drive by…what’s your’s? francy



Easy Tips to Remember to Take Pills…


Ideas to remind seniors to take their pills! francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; I was just told that my dad could not be given dementia medications because he lives alone and might forget them. I guess they need to be given in a timely manner. Do you have ideas for helping him remember? He is in the early stages of dementia and still living on his own with my every other day visits. M. Catterin


Everyone, even mothers of young children, that take medications get confused over prescriptions. But if you get a few tips that work for you…it makes all the difference in the world. Let’s review some of the latest apps and helper tips for remembering to take pills.

My first rule is that a caregiver sorts the pills and gets them in order each week. This way, its a once a week chore…you know if the supplements have to be re-ordered or the prescriptions called in and that is done by the adult in the room. Honestly…this is the first hurdle to tackle. Now, many seniors like to open each bottle each day…that is NOT how you handle medications or supplements. You sort them into an extra large container and you set up the different ways to remind the senior to take them. I would suggest that if your mum or dad is over seventy, even if they have no real signs of memory loss, I would still tell them that you are taking over this chore for them. It is simply a way to know what has been taken, why they are taking the medication and when it has to be taken. Then you choose a reminder procedure and it’s in the bag. If your senior gets ticked off that you are pushy about this…too bad. This is the beginning of caregiving for your elders. Once you set up the procedure it works and the senior is happy to have you come over each week to do the sort and fill. You can always get two containers and set them up every other week. But remember, long life means taking medications properly. If you think caregiving is hard now, you wait till your senior forgets meds and starts a slippery slope to get out of their physical comfort zone. Doctors assume you take the Rx that they give you….do not think they can be a babysitter. You must make sure that supplements for things like joint pain and allergies are taken daily, then add in the medication your senior has been given and their health will stay in a safe zone for a long time. (Google “Images of pill containers” to find a fabulous variety that fits your senior’s needs)


Trying to remember to tell your senior to take their pills on time is simply awful. Its hard enough to remember your own daily supplements each morning…let alone to remind your mom or both of your parents. So the idea that services are there to do the reminders is FABOO as far as I am concerned.

Tip: If you have two people taking pills in a household. Find two different areas to keep the pill containers. Mark the container with their name and make them different colors. It’s really easy for an elder to grab the wrong container. So making the place each of them keep the container repeated daily; makes it easier. I actually took George’s pills (brain pills and all) one morning when I was so tired…I was in a panic and called the poison line to find out what to do. They told me to rest all day and I had to call my sister to come and help George while I kept down and quiet. It was just silly of me, so I separated my pills in a different room…so it would not happen again.

ECHO….Alexa comes to the rescue! I know that you may think an Echo for a senior that is not into using tech stuff is nuts. But I am telling you….it is important. All you have to do is buy it, install it and teach them how to use it. OK, I can see the look on your face from here. But we are talking about something important and your time to keep your parent informed and safe.

Echo/Alexa can play music from an era that your senior enjoys and remembers. This can be a great way to calm them down in the 4’oclock Sundowners time…and get them ready to rest in the evening. It can also automatically read books from the Kindle platform so your senior can enjoy books without worry of having to read them and hurt their eyes. It can hook up to the door and allow the senior to see who is at their door and allow delivery people to actually get in with an unlock code to place deliveries inside the senior’s home. Please take time to really think over what Echo can do…its a good thing for us all! Alexa also can remind a senior over and over again with timers, turn off times and general knowledge. It also has the ability to remind the senior to take their pills. Pill Time is a free app or “skill” just go ahead and read about it at the Amazon site….its great!!

MEDISAFE – pill reminder app for both types of cell phones. Easy to use and very reliable. This app just gets better and better as you use it…please go and visit their site to get the idea.  Click here. 

MED MINDER – is a pill reminder system. You can choose the different level of pills reminders – it can be a one-time pill container purchase or you can add a monthly fee to make it into an interactive service. Best Click here that you take a look and see how it would fit your needs. 


PILL PACK – Click here….you will love this idea – it has the pills all pre-packaged and they remind the senior and you do nothing. Perfect if you do not live close to your senior. It is how they order their medications. So go to the site and see it to believe it…I love it!

Now something that few people think about. You need to shop for your pharmacy for your pills. I like using Walgreens…but you will have different places near you. You want to make pills easy…so if they are sent to your house that is the best. But are they safe for a senior to go and get the pills? Could they be stolen from the mailbox…that makes things horrible! Because you only get insurance coverage for a month…missing pills have to be paid in full to replace. Now, the point is…take a list of your pills and call around to get the low price. You can do this through your insurance site or on the phone.

You can also use a simple app for your cell (Click Here) that will locate the lowest price outlet for each of your prescriptions. It’s called GoodRx.  But, this means you will be running around town to get the best price on each Rx. If you want to save money, this is a great choice.

Better and easier is to use a pharmacy that you can drive to each month and get your pills. Don’t forget to check COSTCO and WALMART they have good prices and usually require a 90-day prescription from your doctor for the best price. Ask questions…find out…don’t throw medication money away.

Here is the secret: You have to ASK them to explain their pill prices and about their monthly reminder software that will help you reorder the prescriptions. You have a variety of ways to use these different software systems. Some of them you scan the pill container and it sends in the re-order. Some of them have your prescriptions on their computers and they call you and say; “Your Rx orders are available today after 2PM.” They are all different and they each have good things to help you save money and make the actual re-fill system as easy as possible. Take time to do the homework. You can save hundreds of dollars and loads of time. It’s worth your research time.

REMINDER APPS AND SERVICES….Rx low prices and ways to quickly re-order and pick up the full list of Rx’s every month. It may be something you have not had to do in your own life. But, it will be something that you do each month with your senior caregiving roll….so it’s worth taking time to match your own needs to your senior’s needs. Take time to teach them the pill reminder system so they use it with confidence and be kind to re-teach over and over again until they understand how to use the app or system. Remember if the price is important…many times a small pharmacy in a smaller area can be really a good price. You can also ask around your town and find the pharmacy that sells pills to care centers, they usually have a small shop that simply does the large senior care facilities and they will sell to you for almost a wholesale price. Your time could save you so much money. Talk to friends…talk to locals and find a place that is easy on you. If you have to spend extra time driving to get a good price…maybe the price is not worth your time. Work this out with your senior ahead of time…so the system is really comfortable for you both.

This is how you and your senior keep medications and supplements in order and in an easy to use a system that you choose or create. Good luck…this was always one of my chores that I did not enjoy…now the systems have gotten so great…it makes it easier for both you and your senior to stay healthy and happy…no more “I forgot to take it”  😉

Blessings on the time you always give to your senior…this stuff adds up and up during your years of senior care. It may seem overwhelming…but if you just take each problem and give it some time and research…you will find easy ways for you to always give good care. francy


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