Walk, don’t Fall! How to Buy Medical Equipment

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How to buy medical equipment for seniors at home by francy Dickinson

Say NO to using surfaces as Table Top walking...

Say NO to using surfaces as Table Top walking…

Dear Francy: Mother will not use her cane…she falls…I know because she has bruises – but her pride is over the moon and she will not use them. She is also having night problems with her bladder…I have to change the bed each time I visit…but no mention of it from her. How can I get over this pride issue and keep her safe and clean and feeling good about herself?

TALK ! There comes a time when seniors have to sit down and listen to their children. It is a hard thing for both fathers and mothers to do- but the transition from being their ‘little girl’ to their care giver simply has to happen. I get it. I have talked about medical equipment and how to acquire it and when to use it before…but just when I think everyone knows…I get four emails in a row about problems with seniors and a need for help. So, I am going to review the different things you need to use as a senior progresses in their life’s journey.

Use a gel cushion in the car and on your favorite TV chair…save that bottom and your back…it feels great!

Start with a gel cushion: When you age, your bottom and your feet start to change and you need to use a little gel cushioning. I am in my early sixties and I have both gel in soles in my shoes and a get cushion on my bottom when I rest…I am a happy girl…get one and enjoy pain free life again!

Age and how a senior feels and their personal challenges are always different. That is why its good to know what is out there for you to help anyone that has ups and downs in their health. Heart problems can come and go and so can arthritis–so if you have some of these helpful tools on hand. You can use them when needed.

Toilet Support Rails r easy to install

Toilet Support Rails are easy to install

This unit simply screws on to any toilet under the seat..then you screw the seat on top of it…it gives you adjustable handles. This has helped George so much…but guess what? After my car accident I had great pain in my foot..and this helped me too! I will not be taking it off when George leaves the house…it is now something I count on myself ūüėČ

To carry this idea out…we need to talk about a commode. These are like portable toilets. When a man is up 2-3-4-5 times a night with prostate issues…or when Parkinson’s has you extremely unsteady…a portable toilet, called a commode, is the ticket to ease of use and relaxed worries of accidents and falls. This commode has a bucket you fill with a bit of water and I hit it with a small amount of Pinesol type product. Then you keep it by the bed…so it is just a few feet away. I put a plastic sheet (black bag) down under it and have toilet paper ready. It is used at night..then during the day you take out the bucket and dump it in the toilet and put the unit over the toilet in the bathroom so the senior can use it with it’s handles for sturdy up and downs. REMEMBER:You always have to ask your doctor for the different products to help you. The doctor will write a prescription for the item and the medical rental house will get your product ready and it will then be able to be all or partially covered by Medicare/Supplement. If you are lucky, like we are, and have Veteran’s…they will give you a review and provide the equipment. If you do not have coverage and need medical products…then it’s time to check out local charities and ask them for help. They often are giving things after someone passes. They clean it up and get it ready for you to use without a big investment. Be creative…do not be embarrassed to ask for help from friends and local charities…they are working hard to provide things for your use…use them.

–> NOTE:Women need to use pad or pants that are designed for urinary problems. Not pads for menstruation. This is very important because the wrong pad for the wrong situation can lead to nasty UrinaryTrackInfections. UTI’s are one the main health risks of both men and women when they begin to lose their strength. UTI’s can take a senior down and change their future living alone abilities… in no time. We can not stress enough to “talk” to your senior about their bathroom issues. Then talk to the doctor. Stool problems can lead to real problems; and the use of stool softeners and/or Imodium products to harden stools can reduce those terrible battles in the bathroom.Medications has nasty side effects for all of us…but especially seniors find them embarrassing and often to do not mention the problems. ¬†Men have to relax and let a pad or “Depend” ¬†under short type product reduce their need to hurry to the bathroom everywhere they go. Doctors can and will give you a prescription for urinary pills that will reduce the ‘urge’ feeling that requires so many bathroom visits. This ‘hurry up’ is the cause of many seniors falling in the middle of the night. A good mattress cover is required. Most seniors need to update their bedding after years of use anyway. So, get a new mattress cover that will protect the mattress and give a little cushion to the older bed. Add two new sets of easy to wash sheets and pillow cases so they can be easily washed and changed. Most seniors like the feel of flannel sheets almost all year round…so keep that in mind when you are buying the new bedding. Update the pillows so the senior has two new pillows for head. Use the older pillows and put one for between their legs to cushion the legs and one to tuck under their upper arm to put them into a womb-curling posture as they sleep. This wrapping them in comfort will allow them to sleep soundly. Adding a night-pad or Depends type of pant…will let them know they are OK, if they have an accident. Then adding in the commode or toilet handles will be a winning ticket for seniors with night time worries and accidents.

—-> Tip//how a lady wipes her bottom after a bowel movement — is going to stop a lot of UTI infections. I had mother re-learn this process…she also used a femine wipe..or child’s diaper cleaning wipe and put it into the special (with swinging lid) trash bin…not down the toilet. These products will clog your sewer system! So teach them to have a trash bin close to the toilet to use for the wipes and a place to put their Depends type products. Then you line the trash bin with a light plastic liner and empty it twice a week to keep the smell out of the bathroom. I use a disinfectant spray inside the trash bin and then re-line it with another tall plastic bin bag. (I get mine at the dollar store) This makes this whole process easy for the senior and the care giver to use and keep really clean. I also have a container of cleaner-wipes (w bleach) under the sink and I use them to wipe off the toilet area and the sink and other handles and light switches- each time I clean the bathroom. This keeps down the germs and the odor. Seniors often lose their sense of smell so you have to help them keeping clean.

I have never been so proud that I could not use a cane with my back. I have had a bad back long before I became a senior. The pain was too much to worry about pride. Even as a younger woman, I had a cane hanging in the closet. It helped me through the three days of pain until the back would relax and let me go back to my regular walking.

Cane and Handle helps George w balance

Cane and Handle helps George w balance.

Just as you prep your house for little children or dogs…its time to do it for seniors that will be aging into health challenges. The senior may only need a few of these items as they move downhill in their health. But actually, at the first signs of stability problems, its time to make changes. Stair lifts are such a lovely thing for those that can afford them. They allow the senior to stay in their two story home, so much longer. And electric chairs are great too. But they are for seniors that have all their thought processes working. Since my George suffers with his Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s he is unable to remember how to use the electric chair or cart.

This new small wheelchair is proving to be a hit with us

This new small wheelchair is proving to be a hit with us

George started using his walker quite a while ago. But it only worked as a walker. It did have a seat for him to use when he got tired…but now he has days that he is too weak to walk at all. So, what to do? We asked for a Physical Therapy appointment and the PT gave us a very small, light weight, wheel chair with small wheels. It now is used as a walker for George when he is feeling strong. The chair is light and easy for me to fold and put into my smaller car. (not everyone uses an SUV) and it works well when George walks. I am going to look around for a larger bag that can hang off the back of the chair so he can grab a few things to take from room to room. I also have to figure out how he can have his cane on the back of it too…so maybe a velcro connection there??

Walking w his legs instead of me pushing is Great!

Walking w his legs instead of me pushing is Great!

The new wheelchair also allows him to sit and walk with his own legs. The older walker was not designed for this move. Now, George is able to move around on his own with his own leg power, without me pushing him all the time. NICE – he is able to walk it out to the front porch where we have a container garden and he helps me water the tomatoes and catches some sun rays each morning.

Now what do you do when you wake up and your spouse is not able to even get out of bed to begin their day? You learn how to use a ‘gait belt’ – the Physical Therapist will show you how to use this. Its an easy tool…you put it around the mid section of the senior and then you can help guide him up and walk with him supporting his legs from the middle of his body.

Example of Bed Rail

Example of Bed Rail

Or you can add a support bar for the side of your bed and the senior can use it to get up on their own. It will depend on if the senior has strong arms and is able to use them.

That is why I keep George exercising three times a week. I have a routine I put him through to keep those legs strong enough for him to make transitions and get up and down from chairs and bed. As he goes up and down in his abilities…we stay with exercise. I use the elastic exercise bands to give him some pressure to stretch and keep his arms strong. Look for them at the sports department or ask the PT the next time you go.

Thank you for all you are doing for your senior…you have no idea how kind and dear it is for you to give your time and love to another and let them age with grace. I have been giving George more and more of my time each day as his Parkinson’s is taking over…poor guy is losing his abilities so fast. So, what I try to do is take each day as a new day. If a day is bad…we work through it. But the next day we start a new…so if his strength is better he does more. If you start to put the senior into a pattern of you doing more and more for them and never checking if they can do some of those things on their own…its just a downhill slide for both of you.

Enjoy the fall…no more hot hot days…things will cool down. George has already asked for Pumpkin pie or pumpkin cream in his coffee…so he gets what time of year it is. I also make sure I change the decor and the calendar in the house. Seniors have no daily change of pace…so pointing out the seasonal changes makes their days into days…not endless time with no change. Quality of care, depends on you as a care giver…so make fall a good time for you…and it will translate onto the senior you are caring for.

Blessings…francy
Oh, would you please sign up for my blog listing. With the care giving getting more and more I try to do the blog, but often miss my weekly update. When you sign up for the blog it will notify you of the new post and you can keep on top of the info. Also…please, please share this blog. You have no idea how lonely care giving can be…and if I can help a few people along my own path of caregiving it helps me feel my own life has meaning…Thank you!

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Seniors Love Reading WWII Books!

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World War II photo book and how it came from Kitty’s dad to you…by Kitty Kirwin

My Georgie opening his book at his ¬†81st birthday. He was so excited and had to leave the table and go and read it –right away ūüėČ

Dear Francy: I have been friends with Kitty for a few years and have heard about her father’s photos. I was there while she was going through them one by one and trying to get the best out of the film. Film, from the WWII era…finally coming to life. To many of you that adore the war and all that it represents…you need to order this book! I ordered a copy for my Georgie on his birthday and he flipped over the ‘up close and personal’ views of the war photographed by an airman that was there on the ground and in the air! He loved it…it has been re-read over and over again. Kitty Kirwin has written many other novels and is a very talented person. I am very pleased she took time to be my guest writer.¬†

I am so pleased to present a lovely lady who writes from her heart. I know you will enjoy her work. How important it is for us as care givers to remember that the old memories are still in place in many of our elders. George’s Alzhiemer’s has taken his immediate memory away…but he still has his old memories of being a young boy during the war and following the war detail after detail. He used to mark a map, that he kept on the wall above his bed, ¬†as Europe was taken back by the ‘Good Guys’. The book brought back a lot of memories for him…I know you will enjoy it too!

____________________________________________

I am K. F. Kirwin and was recently asked to write about my latest book ‚ÄėMy Dad‚Äôs Pictures From WWII‚Äô. Twelve years ago, Dad gave me twelve rolls of film strips. He had stored them poorly with rubber bands and paperclips, that had rusted! At the time, I was an art teacher and was teaching Photography so Dad thought I could do something with them.

Gwenie, Kitty Kirwin’s beautiful corgi that helps her write all her works

The filmstrips were in very bad shape. There should of been over 300 pictures but because the film was gun film, which was used in WWII, it crumbled as it was unrolled. After a lot of patience, I managed to save close to 200 pictures. I printed them all up for him and I asked who all the people were in the shots. He did not remember and with his eyes losing their ability to focus well– he could not see them close enough to identify the people or places.

Dad was in the Army Air Corp and these pictures were from his time at the end of WWII. He was stationed at Orly, France. The pictures are of the airfield and Paris at the end of the war. After many hours of time sorting the pictures and picking the best ones I took them to the Pima Air Museum, in Tucson. They helped me identify many of the pictures. I decided to sort and gather the best and put them into a photo book of WWII.

My Dad would have loved this book. Hope you do too!

I wish I knew who the people were in the pictures maybe even know about their stories. My book ‚ÄėMy Dad‚Äôs Pictures From WWII‚Äô is in need of identification of many of the shots. Do you have an idea of who or where the photos were taken? I have an email address in the back for anyone who buys the book and knows someone. I will happily get them a copy of the picture so they can inspect it and enjoy.

This year after a few very bad health issues, my son said; ‚ÄúMum please put together that book of Grandpa‚Äôs photos.‚ÄĚ ¬†He felt many of those that lived through the war or now, dive into the study of the details of World War II, would really enjoy seeing them. I would appreciate your purchase.¬† I know there are many seniors out there that really get a kick out of mementoes from the war era. Francy has told me that George has a whole bookcase filled with WWII themed books‚Ķso I hope this one will hit the spot for you or your family members. Some of the profits on the book will go towards my son‚Äôs Grad school education‚Ķ for his support of my time creating the book.

Thank you, Francy. I so wish I had your blog to use the tips before my Dad passed away. I spoke to him in the last 20 hours before he passed. I am glad I could and this book is a tip of the hat to his life and his time of defending our country.

Cheers all! Kitty

Kitty F. Kirwin, author of “Haunted Bedtime Stories” and other books

Please come and visit my author site and enjoy all of my books.

The Amazon link. http://amzn.to/QkhLYN

Alzheimer’s Secret – Highs and Lows

How to help Dementia and Alzheimer’s energy stay moderate not high or low…by francy Dickinson

Ups and downs of Dementia Alzheimers

George up and happy with Mimi’s visit

We just had a great surprise…a long time Twitter friend came to visit! George was up and happy and involved with meeting her and talking to her…but today – he is in bed. Does that sound familiar?

I really wanted to share the Up’s n Down’s syndrome because so many of us have experienced it and it leaves us (as care givers) feeling like we see another person from others.

When George has his family come to visit, he perks up and gives them his attention,  love and laughter. They walk out the door and he takes a crash dive and I have to pick up the pieces. It has happened so many times that I have learned a few tips and I thought I would share them.

You are not going to be able to help others understand that the person they chat with…is the best they can be. The senior is on a high in energy and is performing for them. The visitor sees that person and believes that is how they are on a full time basis. I have often gotten a little lecture about my comments on George’s condition; that they must be exagerated. That is always so hurtful to me.

I want George to be well, to be happy and live a wonderful retirement. I want him to spend time out and about and enjoying his life with his friends and family. But no matter how much I want that for him, it will not happen. George, has Alzheimer’s that means that he has up’s and down’s and I am the one that has to try to keep him within¬†boundaries¬†so his life is as rich as it can be on a daily basis.

As a lay-person, it has been explained to me that each of us lose bits of our working brain each day. If we are healthy those bits are replaced by the body. When a senior has Dementia the replacement of those bits becomes labored and then slows down like¬†molasses. So, if George gets excited and uses up his energy and brain bits on a single event…it takes time for him to recover. He has to restore his body and brain energy and working parts. As the Alzheimer’s moves forward that replacement gets slower and slower and one day, will simply not happen.

That means I have a job…to decide what is worth George having a high and then a few days low. Some times I simply have to say NO, to an event in order to keep him on an even keel.

Here are some ideas to think about when you are making those decisions….should I take George to an event, or have so and so over to visit? Or, should I say NO, and be the bad guy. Thus, giving George a reprieve from a heavy low…that would take days to recover.

TIPS TO HELP YOU MAKE SOLID CARE DECISIONS:

  1. Make sure you remove your own feelings in this decision. This is a hard one; as the spouse of a senior with dementia…my life is involved in each decision too. So I try hard to step back and make my care decisions for the best of George…not the ‘best of francy’.
  2. Has George been having a solid and calm month? Not, the last few days…but the month. Alzheimer’s has a flow and monthly is the smallest amount of time I use. Maybe he has had a month of falls, or bladder accidents and emotional upsets that have been higher than normal. If that is so, then extra visits, events, or celebrations are put on a low burner.
  3. Plan ahead. I have a 4th of July celebration coming up. It is extra important this year because we have lost one family member and gained another. Many of my family is going to be at this celebration and I want George to go. So I am already planning ahead. I am going to make sure he is exercised each day of June. ¬†That he does not miss any of his meds, and has plenty of sleep. I have decided on the day of the celebration I will take things to make sure he can have a mid-afternoon nap and will eat well, with extra sugar to give him energy. ¬†I am planning that far ahead…so he will go through the day with the least amount of stress as possible. If he gets extra tired…I will be ready to leave the event and go home.
  4. Visiting at our home or going out? I find that George is getting more and more attached to the ‘safety’ of his own home. It is easier for us to have a visitor here…one or two at a time. I can remind him of the visit a couple of days ahead. I start to talk about it and then he is eased into the idea of excitement. I make sure he is up early that day and gets ready and then has time to be calm before they arrive. I remind him again of who they are and I always serve food to calm him and keep his energy up during the visit. I keep the visit down to no more than two hours. (as time goes on, this time limit will dip down to no more than 20 min.)
  5. Events out. I have been surprised lately that George does not do well going out to dinner. He does well out at lunch. But dinner upsets him, he is bothered by all the people, the noise and thinks the food is bad…so why take him out? Because I want to keep his mind feeling that going out is ‘safe’ and normal. I have decided that I will only take him out to lunch from no on. The stress of after ‘4PM out the door’ is too much for him. I try to think up ‘out of home’ visits weekly – but make them calm and easy on George.
  6. If George goes out to my sister’s home and visits, he is fine. He knows the home, the people and he just sits and enjoys his time. It really gives him very little stress. If he goes to his son’s home with family, he is fine. But he goes there less often so the stress is higher. Now if he goes anywhere that he does not know the place, or many of the people are new to him – that is no longer good for him. Even though his life has been very social, he traveled a great deal and loves people— George is not his old self. I have to remember that and work around his fears and upsets…and make his life ‘safe’ as much as I’m able to do.
  7. Surprise is not a good thing for George. That is what I try to keep to minimum. If someone is in town and calls to come and say; HI. I ask them to wait a while, so I can approach George with the news and let it sink in. Let him get up and get dressed and not be too rushed. Let him know they are coming and I talk about it with a calm voice and up energy. I ask the visitor to come around 3ish…and to stay for an hour. It can be embarrassing to do this to people…but I have learned that it is worth my discomfort if George can have a nice short visit and still feel well the next day.

The point of the above tips, is to show you how I am now just easing the way for George. I try to keep him in the loop of our daily lives. But I no longer share the heavy stuff. I don’t talk about bills, emergencies like my car needing repair, the chores around the house that need to be done, or the choice of what food to eat for dinner. Those ideas and thoughts would take George into a worry and maybe a depression.

This is where the hard part starts. Because as a spouse, the sharing of daily life is what you do with your spouse. George and I will be married 30 years this September…we have been bestest friends and he had been a business professional. To leave him out of the loop of life’s pressure is totally foreign to me. But I have to ‘man’ up and know that life is now mine to oversee.

What I also have to know inside my mind? That George’s health is important to me. So is my health. That means I have to make decisions that are good for George and are still healthy for me, as the care giver. I often have to say; “I have to come first, in order to have the energy to care for him wisely.”

It’s hard to explain to others, when they just want to stop by and take George out for coffee. Some times its a good thing, some times it’s simply is a NO. Don’t be afraid to be wrong, we all make decsions that turn out to be not the wisest in the book. But do get in the habit of thinking small daily issues through. Take your time; one day of not caring, could mean two weeks of you helping your spouse through a tough recovery. Days of no energy, confusion, anger, depression…that is a hard way to learn that thinking through your daily activity choices is important everyday.

Blessings on all that you do. I wish you well with your decisions. George just had breakfast in bed and I will get him up later to sit in the sunshine for a while. Other than that, he will be resting today…healing after our fun visit with our wandering Twitter friend. ¬†ūüėČ ¬† francy

Keep Seniors Eating with Healthy, Easy Snacks!

The importance of healthy snacks or small meals for seniors and elders in care. by francy Dickinson

healthy fast snacks for seniors in care

Apple Pie Always a Senior Favorite

Dear Francy; My mother is not eating…I am not kidding. She has always been thin, but now, she has no appetite. I have tried every dinner I can think of but nothing works. What can I do to spark her taste buds? Anne

When you get older, and many times when you are on certain medications, you lose your taste buds. The taste of food no longer pulls you in…nor does the smell. So, the best thing to start is to really spice up the meal with low-salt herbal spice mixes like Mrs. Dash. My secret is to simply tell the senior they do not have to eat a meal…just snack. That might sound easy but it means you have to make sure that snacks are easy to grab and easy to chew and swallow. So, this is a little extra work on the family member that over-sees your mom’s care.

Every 2-3 hours the senior needs to have a snack…a protein drink, a piece of cheese ( I love cheese sticks), a slice of good deli meat, veggies with dip, fruit with dip, a piece of chicken, a slice of steak, a baked potato. Keeping that energy level and blood sugar on an even keel is the true key to strength in mind and body. How can you help them with smaller eating all day long? Here are some tips to help them on their way.

It means you have to prepare food ahead and have it ready to go…so I will list ideas that will keep you involved and keep her eating:

Senior Snacks:

  1. Chicken is so good….so you have all sorts of ways to serve it in small pieces. Bake or buy a roasted chicken and have it sitting in the fridge for snacks, or pre cut it into small¬†pieces¬†and have it in a zip lock…even easier. OR — buy the large family size chicken thighs and legs and put them into the oven – spice well, put BBQ sauce on a few and bake them all. After they bake and cool…divide them into small¬†zip locks¬†– freeze a few bags and keep a couple in the fridge for easy snacks.
  2. Apples are so easy to use…you can peel, cut and slice and put some lemon on them and tuck it into a ziplock for easy grab snack. Serve it with a sweet dip, caramel..or some sour cream mixed with honey and cinnamon. Adding protein, calories is the point. If they dip, its more calories and that is a good thing
  3. Another soft dip sauce that is easy is peanut butter with honey and nutmeg…it makes a great dip for fruits and celery –always adding in calories and protein to everything that the senior eats
  4. Buy full seed and bran breads and crackers so when they choose to eat, it’s filled with good grains
  5. OK-Mok crackers are high in fiber, so are wheat thins – they’re best if you put them into a glass container on the counter – so the senior is tempted to grab a few when they walk by.
  6. Visual is so important…so make sure their cupboard is filled with containers not boxes. Buy see- through containers that will keep snacks fresh but let the senior see and grab easily. Do not pile on loads of food, best to do small amounts. If they live alone; buy a box of crackers, put 1/2 box in the container and take the rest home to your own family to enjoy. That way the crackers and snacks stay fresh for grandma and they change types often.
  7. Get soft cream cheese that is flavored with something they enjoy…the strawberry cream cheese is delish. I enjoy the salmon one myself. Good things are available in the dairy isle…take a look. They are pre making all sorts of things, including puddings. Remember buy small containers so they do not spoil so fast.
  8. Yogurt is great, but many elders do not like it. So introduce them to the Greek style yogurt that is richer and the new trend is putting loads of goodies into the yogurt. You will find it easy for the senior to have a small treat that tastes so rich.
  9. Every week, take over another fruit that is fresh. Strawberries; hull them and have them ready to reach in and take a bite. Do not put them into the salad drawer…keep them right out on the shelf so when the fridge door opens they “look” good and ready to eat. Always prep the fruit so the senior will eat it. Pineapple is so good, but only if the senior can take a bite size piece…otherwise it looks like too much for them and they pass over it. Bananas are great…and show grandma she can cut it in half and eat it…then eat the other half the next day. Often seniors say; I can not eat a whole banana…so let them know it’s OK to only eat half
  10. Veggies; many elders do not eat raw veggies. It was not popular when they were cooking or growing up. So,¬†entice¬†them with cutting veggies into small pieces and buy the tiny carrots and tomatoes. I buy a larger Rubbermaid container that has a green top. It’s a “fresh” container. If you get the larger one, you can fill it with a mix of little veggies that the senior can grab. It will stay fresh for a couple of weeks and then you can add a few different veggies to the mix. You gotta have “Ranch dip” for the veggies…and a secret? You can add in 2 scoops of vanilla protein mix folded into the ranch dressing. Each time they reach for it…they have more protein with each scoop. Watch the due dates on things and be prepared ‘throw away’ things. Try not to fuss over the waste…its better to have good food available for the senior than force them to eat left overs for days.
  11. Soup- I make my soups, cool and put a serving into a small ziplock. I then take it over to the senior. That way they get homemade split pea soup, German potato soup, chicken and broccoli soupРwithout buying a can and its the family recipe they probably cooked on their own for years. I freeze the soups and always write what it is on the ziplock in permanent ink. They can grab and go with soups in the freezer to the microwave or bag into the boiling water for heating.
  12.  Steak is often not eaten by elders with problem teeth. So, I buy small steaks, I slice them into small long slices. I then marinate them for 3 days and put the juice and the steaks in smaller ziplock. This way they can fry the steak in just a few minutes and have thin small size to eat as a snack or dinner. (Easy Marinate:. 1 bottle of Italian dressing into a large ziplock and put in the steak pieces. Place it in the bottom of the cool meat drawer, in fridge and turn it over every day. ) Once again, transfer the meat once it has soaked for three days and put small amounts into ziplocks so Grandma can grab them easy and fry up with an egg for breakfast or a baked potato for dinner.
  13. Pies are a perfect meal if you make them with fresh¬†ingredients. A good apple pie can be breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack or dinner.Seniors do not have to think of fresh fruit pies as dessert…they can be just everyday eating. So when you bake or buy a good fresh fruit pie…cut it up and put it into Ziplocks.( I know I use a lot of them and I do buy the off brand of zip bags in bulk.) This way a couple of pieces are in the fridge and a couple more in the freezer. The senior needs smaller pieces and almost everyone loves the taste of fruit pies. They need to place them on the plate and hit them in the microwave for 1 min to warm and that brings out the flavor again
  14. Apple sauce and apple butter…both great stuff to have handy. The apple sauce comes in flavors and is in single serve containers…how easy is that one? Apple butter makes a good yummy toast treat on top of a rich grain and nut bread.
  15. Old fashioned but yummy: Quick coffee cakes and small one egg cakes work great for seniors. Once again; you leave out a small about; 2 small pieces and then they can add ice cream and have a filling treat. You can buy them at the store and cut it…or make easy cakes on your own.
    Here is my recipe for the one egg cake   http://joyfilledcooking.familyoven.com/
  16. Soft cheeses make for good dips and cracker toppings – I like the cheese with herbs and garlic…OH boy YUMM
  17. Popcorn may seem like a good snack but seniors can not eat it well, so go to Trader Joe’s and look over their selection of chips and snacks. They even have sweet potato chips, pretzels with peanut butter inside – be creative, it will pay off…the senior will love the new tastes
  18. Heritage…this is my trick. I think of the senior and what they ate when they grew up. What recipes were popular in the 1920’s or 30’s? What country is their heritage or are they Jewish or Latino? That means they have flavors that are in-grained in their mind about food. Once you get a feeling for the spices and treats that they enjoyed when they were younger and raising their own children…cooking, entertaining — those are the tastes and smells you want to bring back to them
  19. Many seniors love candy…sugar can really boost their brains as well as energy. Old fashioned hard candy like lemon drops, licorice that’s in small pieces and fresh so they can chew it. Do not bother with peanut brittle or taffy…their teeth will not do well with it. Keep a candy dish by them with spice drops, MnMs — It looks festive and tastes so good
  20. Add drinks with protein. You have to get your senior into protein drinks. If you have to buy a few and get the taste going…do it. I always chill the drinks, they taste better…there are many chocolate ones and the taste is¬†vastly¬†different between the companies. You can always do a vanilla flavor and ask them to drop in two strawberries and do a quick blend each morning. Work on it, your time will pay off with added intake of calories and protein. Most seniors have one each day and often two or three if they are not eating well

I hope the ideas have helped you thinking in a different direction. For us eating is so easy, we can even do a drive through to get a quick burger. Seniors living alone and elders in care are limited to what is in the house and how easy is it to prepared and eat. That is the key…easy.

Good luck, and thank you for all you do for the seniors in your family. Care giving can be a time-consuming and lonely time, thank you for your gift of love.

Blessings, francy

Would you do me a favor and click the LIKE button and write a comment so I know how to give you some tips to help your life be a little easier…OH, and click the JOIN button and they will send you a notice when I have a new blog for you.

*For all that want to know about George…he is due for this summer memory appointment. I will report back with how it went and what the doctor says about his medications. He is now on a cocktail of Alzheimer’s drugs…to boost his brain…Thank you for your prayers, I always feel them. f.

Loving through Pressure and Stress

How to cope with care giving in the middle of high stress…by francy Dickinson

OK so some days the stress and anger simply hit the screen of life and I have had one of those lately!

  1. Pressure building was my husband fighting Alzheimer’s and having more problems with personal accidents and the clean-up that involves
  2. Then I added on a nasty fight with spring allergies. My eyes have been swollen shut most of the last two weeks. The itch and worry over my eyes has not made me a happy camper.
  3. Worry over money has been a big problem for me and all seniors living on small budgets. Its a daily worry and now that George has lost his ability to understand that problem, it is getting worse. He forgets we can not spend money and often asks for things that are not in our budget and its hard on me to tell him, NO
  4. Then the car stopped working in the middle of the road while my friend, Cheryl was driving. She was suck in the middle of traffic and called all worried
  5. I was feeling¬†panic¬†over-coming me…I sat down and tried to take the issues into mind and be calm
  6. I called AAA car club and renewed our membership so the tow would be covered
  7. I called Cheryl and told her help was on the way.
  8. I called the car repair place and told them my car was on the way and I would have to OK repairs because of money restrictions
  9. I called my sister and asked if she would help me with the repair cost and I would pay her back
  10. I called Cheryl again and made sure she was OK…she said that the tow truck was there
  11. I called a dear friend and asked her to go and pickup Cheryl and bring her home

All during this problem, my eyes are swollen and I can barely see the screen of the phone to make the calls. George is in the living room yelling at me and telling me how stupid I am and how I should listen to him and let him make the decisions. Bad language is flying in the living room and the people on the phone could certainly hear it. What to do? The stress building and building?

  • I took a deep breath and went in to George and told him to calm down and he was not going to speak to me in that way
  • I was angry and I expressed my anger…I told him to be quiet while I tried to figure out how to handle all the problems- I kept my voice in a calm tone so I would not push him into any more anger
  • I removed myself from the living room…closed the doors to the kitchen to block the noise and I fixed George tea and a sugar treat
  • This sugar treat would serve to raise his level of energy and give his brain a boost and usually cools down the anger
  • His¬†inability¬†to “fix the problem” was giving him a power problem – he wanted to be the answer man, but could only be angry
  • Returning to him with a time out and telling him Cheryl was fine and on her way home and car would be fixed
  • George was too angry to accept it as the end of the situation he kept up the ranting for over two hours
  • George was then too tired to even walk to the bathroom and had to call for my help
  • I put him into bed after the bathroom and turned on the TV with a military channel to take his mind in another direction
  • I closed the door and called my sister again to talk about the money and the repair shop to get the news that the fuel pump had died and would need to order the part
  • I fixed myself a cup of tea…I went out the front door and walked around my house…even thou I was avoiding pollen, I needed the air
  • I came back in to another call from the repair shop that there may be more repairs to come
  • I fixed myself some lunch and drank water with an Emergen-cee package of 1,000 vit C
  • I took the dogs out to the back yard and swept the walk
  • I came back in and cleaned up the kitchen and checked on George, who was now asleep
  • High Event was over and George would forget the entire¬†argument¬†when he woke up- but I wouldn’t

No I was not OK….

Yes, it was a nasty ‘Event’

Yes, I kept my mind working on life instead of focused on not having money, or  car problems and care giving problems

I can not change my income at this point in my life…but I can still change my overall thinking process. George is to unwell with Alzheimer’s to correct his outbursts….but I can keep myself from jumping into his anger pool.

I know that the job of a spouse to care for their loved one is a hard job. But I think the anger issue and the lack of the one being cared-for to appreciate the care that is given– is the hardest issue I have at this time. Yes, I often feel badly that I am angry at the way George reacts and his lack of appreciation…but NO, I can not change his frame of mind. I can only do things to give myself – my own feeling of appreciation.

  • I made a few calls to friends to hear them say I was OK…and I was a good person, I needed that
  • I took a long shower and tried to tend to my face and eyes to relieve the discomfort
  • I put on spring clothing so I had brighter colors around me
  • I did not go off my diet, I am on a low carb diet and I simply had a special chocolate drink that was low in carbs
  • I moved around the house…getting myself filled with movement and listening to music helping my stress dissolve
  • I played with my dogs…giving them care and their kisses brought me happiness
  • I stayed away from George so my mind was kept calm
  • I sat down before I went to bed and wrote out my worries and upset in a journal so my feelings would be honored, but not haunt me all night
  • I allowed myself to cry out the upset and I was able to sleep

We may not be able to make life less stressful..but we can face the stress and work through it. I did not fix myself a drink, or take a sleeping pill. I knew that would be an unwise way to escape the pain. I wanted to face the pain and change it…not run from it. Because I am a strong woman that can calm myself down, think through my problems and ask friends to help me come up with answers.

I wanted to share this Event with you…because I know if I’m having a hard time….so are you. Giving care to others is not an easy or fun thing to do. Pretending that spouses giving care is no big deal is a lie. Life hits and family members need to be cared for no matter what is going on in your daily life. I understand the pain you feel, the fear that takes over your heart and the uncertainty of your own future.

Try hard to remember there are thousands of us going through this experience and there is a tomorrow, there will be a happier time ahead and you can catch moments of joy even on days filled with ‘Events’.

Being honest and open with our friends, family and our own self…is the most important action we can take. Just hold on, because I am sending you all prayers of strength…we can do this,we really can and we will rise again to a life that is filled with memories of good times, not bad. Memories of giving our loved ones our love and our all….and knowing their lives were filled with our loving care all through their end of life journey.

Blessings…francy

Waffles for Family Brunch w Seniors

Family time with seniors and how to keep the senior in their own home. by francy Dickinson

Sourdough Waffles for Brunch!

Spring time is a perfect time to visit your seniors and take the makings for a meal. I always think that food breaks down the gap in a diverse family. My favorite meal on Sunday is waffles. I do it the  easy way, with Bisquick, and then I like to add in my sourdough from the crock. The waffles smell so good and are so rich. I always get a special syrup Рin our house- its boysenberries. Then I do a quick egg for those that love them and keep it simple for those that just want the yumm of the waffle. If I think ahead I get a basket of strawberries and use those on top of the waffles too! YUMM.

It is usually easier to just take food over to Grandma’s house. The TV can go on and the NASCAR races, basketball or football can be entertaining the family. That leaves you to spend time with Grandma and get her kitchen cleaned as you prepare the waffles. The interaction with your elders on a fun basis, allows you to check out the condition of their kitchen and food pantry. When elders are living on their own- they need to be checked by the family to make sure they are eating well and keeping the house clean.

I always had the breakfast planned the day before, then we would go over to mom’s around 11:30AM so we could sleep in on Sunday. The family would say NO…but when we were all in the car the mood changed and the day was reprogrammed for helping Grandma.

As I cooked, the youngsters would be in the living room with the TV on. They would dust the area and run the vacuum. I would have my husband set the table in the dinning room, so mother could use her sweet china. It made a simple breakfast into a special meal.

I would be clearing out the fridge making sure the dates on the products were current or I would throw them and make a shopping list. I would go over the counters. Older eyes have problems seeing details in the kitchen….so a good¬†counter top¬†clean is easy and helpful. I would use a hot cloth to clean the shelves of the refrigerator and wipe off the stove top.

Making sure her dry pantry was not loaded with products that were ages old. When elders stop cooking or just cut it down to cooking for one…the pantry tends to age. You do not need old flour, cake mixes or canned food. It really takes a very short period of time to review it and clear it out. Once again writing down what should be replaced on the shopping list.

Keeping the conversation uplifted and involving the senior with your projects you will find the few hours you visit go fast and loads gets done.

While the table is being cleared and dishes done. My husband or the younger kids…would go around the house to do Grandma’s “to fix list” . The back yard might need mowing or the lightbulbs changing…what ever it is…you make a quick run through the house to make sure its safe and secure.

Don’t forget to change batteries on the fire alarms, change the filter on her furnace and clear the back porch so she can escape in an emergency.

Once a month, brunch at Grandma’s brings you all a good meal and a feeling of family. This is how we can keep our seniors in their homes. By helping them with the little things that get out of kilter…the things that need to be fixed, replaced and added to the mix to make their aging home stay clean, efficient and safe. Start your monthly visit for the whole family…your youngsters will learn how to gift their time and enjoy the love that their grandparents have for them, too!

HEY…would you click on your right and sign up button. You will then be notified when I share a new blog. And yes my senior care books are coming out…I am very excited about them.

UPDATE: on my Georgie..he has had a very tough month with his Alzheimer’s he is in a very emotional place. He had his meds upated and that helped. It has taken a lot out of me too. As you know the care giver is so involved with the spouse that a bad day for George is a bad day for me. But sharing what I do and how I have learned to cope, helps me get over the humps. Wishing you all a wonderful Spring…Here in Seattle we have had rainy weather day after day…so I am looking forward to the warmth and time in the yard again.

Blessings on you all…francy

Living Long, Easy – Living Well, Takes Work

Dear Francy; My parents are in their early nineties and still live in their family home. The house is small and easy for them to keep up with hired help for fix-ups and me for assistance. But, they are now doing less and less…their days are spent watching TV and sleeping. I know that they will face their end times but I want them to stay in their home as long as possible. What can I do to keep them safe and yet home, at such an advanced age?

Uncle Bill & Mom 100+ Yrs of Living

It’s all about quality of their days now…so keeping them moving and thinking —¬†it’s the key

  1. ¬†Do they move around during the day? Keeping their legs working and their balance in place is really a hot point.Make sure they move around to go to the bathroom…make them walk around the house or up and down the hall twice each time they go to the bathroom. Their commode goes over the toilet during the day to help them up and down on the toilet seat. Then at night¬†move the¬†commode into their bedroom for ease of use when they are trying not to fall at night. NO Should I ?….this is a must and do not let the senior make decisions that effect their balance and possible fall at nite!
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  3. Do they eat on trays by the TV all day long? That will keep them from knowing what they are eating and allow them to snack without thought. Have them eat at the kitchen or dining room table not in front of the TV on trays. This is really important to keep their food intake under control. Intake of food in advanced age is very hard. The palate does not taste food and the stomach is not hungry for food. So making food spiced well and served attractively is important. They will concentrate on their eating, chewing and swallowing safely. They will eat a full meal, not piece. They will be able to see each other and be forced to talk to each other to encourage their interaction. If there is a care giver there, ask them to sit and visit with them while they eat. To be there in case of swallowing problems.
  4. Do they remember what day it is and talk about things happening in the present? Their minds have to keep working not go on vacation. Keep a wall calendar and put all their appointments on it and add in family events. Grand children’s birthdays that need cards sent or calls to be¬†made – holidays coming up in large print – reminders of voting days and library return days. Keep them in the present as much as you can so they do not simply stop thinking. Order books from the library, they have special “homebound” programs that will send out a few books for them to read and return in a pouch via the mail. FREE… Talk about TV programs that are coming up that have interest for them. PBS has history series that are so well done, they have Masterpiece Mystery and Theater and art programs. These are quality shows that can be easily understood and enjoyed.
  5. Are the newspapers piling up around the house and look like they are not being read? You need to keep them thinking and reading. Change the paper to just the weekends. It means less paper to throw away and still is a weekly review of local events. Add a Newsweek or Time subscription so they get the news in detail. If they have trouble listening to news each night, this will do a full in-depth report of major events so they keep up on life around them. Remember those magazines need to be dropped off at the library. Most libraries have a magazine exchange for those that can not afford them. It’s a kind way to stay gifting all through¬†the¬†Sr’s¬†life.
  6. Is their surroundings looking dull and like grandma’s house? Everyone enjoys a clean and pretty home especially when they spend all their time in their home. Make a few changes…Add some new throw pillows for color, change the grand children photos and update their selection. Get the family photos on an electronic photo frame that will be changing throughout the day. Ask the family to help you do a weekend of painting and get the kitchen, and living area updated with new paint, clean windows and curtains. It will lift spirits and have to be done when they choose to leave the home and the house goes up for sale. So best done so they can enjoy it.
  7. Do they still have friends alive that they can connect with once a month? This is really hard- as you age- you lose your friend base.
    If friends are few and far between now, have them go to a local senior center at least once a month for a card day, or craft day or an exercise class. Let them met some new folks to get their minds going on interaction again. A senior DayCare is around $14 a hour and you can find them in care facilities. Keeping their social skills alive means they will interact with their care givers and family much better, too!
  8. Do they have something to take care of or do you do everything for them? Everyone needs to have chores and responsibilities.
    Add a pet to the house. Your local shelter will find an older dog or cat that are small and easier to care. This is an addition that will give them a worry. They will even complain at first…”Oh,NO we don’t want to worry about a pet” Well too bad; older pets need good homes and love..and so do they. This new pet will add a feeling of movement to the home, noise and something to worry over and do for all day long. It will give them a reason to get up and put them out to potty or feed them. It will allow them to pet and stroke the animal and get that tactual interaction that all people need to keep healthy. It could be a bird, it could be fish…but pets are important to older folks and not to be ignored as something to hard to handle.
  9. Do they keep clean? Is the home smelling clean?  Many older people simply do less cleaning of their home and their own person. So schedule a bath lady once a week so they have a good supervised bath. Then make sure that the house gets aired out and have a good air cleaner. You can find ozone air filters that will push the air through the house and clean it out for you. Keeping clean is a foundation for a happier disposition. You will find almost all people who are depressed dress poorly and have less personal hygiene. So if you see this in your seniors disposition, take note and remember that depression can hit elders hard and it can be addressed and treated by their family doctor.
  10. Are they missing out by not hearing or seeing well? Do not think that someone older does not need to hear or see well.
    The idea that older people do not need to hear or see well is nuts. If you are in your eighties and will live another 4-25 years you need to keep your ears and eyes working. So get them help. Ck ears for wax, get at least one hearing aid. Add TVEars (a great headset) that gives them personal hearing for the TV. This also allows the TV audio to be turned down so you do not hear the TV in every room. Check their eyes, get glasses and updated frames or add magnify sheets so they can see to read and to understand their medications and the TV schedule. Get them to remove their cataracts that will open the world to their eyes again. Keep them thinking that time is moving forward but they deserve to move with it, not get stuck.
  11. What if you live to 120? My mother never thought she would live to 100 years. She was shocked as the years moved forward and she kept living on after many physical challenges. So she would say; if I knew I would live this long I would have done more when I was eighty. You see no one thinks about this…they just think they will drop over any time after 80+ so they wait for it to happen. Doctors have answers to many problems that caused early death – now, even something simple like colds can be handled so they don’t turn into pneumonia. Heart attacks can be medicated and life extended. So stop the thinking that your elders will drop over any time now. Start thinking…” If I am going to live another five to ten years what do I need to do?” It does make a difference. Movement will be more important, eating will become something to be involved with and dressing and interactions with others will be fun again. Life can be very long and a quality life is a treasure. Keep thinking ahead as you care for elders. Mother would often say; “All these pills can’t I stop taking some?” I would then go over her pills and ask which one do you want to stop. The pill to help you not get a stroke?- the pills to make your stomach feel better, the pill to help you go to the bathroom eaiser…on and on. She then would say..well I suppose I better just keep taking them. She was right, medications, exercise, food, personal care, friendship, family and social interaction make life worth living. So keep it up, keep them moving and grooving, no excuses…before you know it will be five years down the road and they will still be in their home and happy!

I thank you for all you are doing..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‚Äôm 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‚Ķand ask that you share my site information with those that you know that are caring for seniors ‚ÄĒ francy¬†
 
¬†Join my Newsletter Listing: I just got the November¬†issue finished‚ĶI send out a newsletter and talk about the behind the scenes of daily care giving with George and clients. You‚Äôll also hear about Missy and my crazy, busy life with joy ‚Äď in the middle of chaos. It’s a more personal look at Alzheimer‚Äôs. 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‚Ķfor 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 ‚Äď francy