Your Mom Just Now Needs More Care at Home-Great Ideas-

by francy Dickinson                     www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear francy: After realizing that mom needed more care than a phone call each day things have changed. We just got through cleaning Mom’s home after years of her ignoring the mess. She had not hoarded she just did not clean. So rooms were filled with old things and now the family has cleaned it out and we are starting fresh. We had every room painted and the bath faucets updated and the kitchen got a new smaller stove and new microwave. We took your advice and got it ready for care givers. One of the bedrooms is now ready for an overnight guest or caregiver, the closets of old clothes in each room are clean too. Now it looks empty and mom is really feeling a cross between happy to have it clean and making it her own again. She is recovering from her stroke but I live two hours away and can only do so much with my weekly visits.

Well, lets start at the beginning, what a great job you and your three brothers did on the house. And how smart of you to clean and paint and ready the house for a sale if that has to happen in the near future. Since your mom is doing so much better and only needs her meals and a daily care visit of two hours, I think you have a great program going. The job now is to keep your mom busy and that might take some thinking.

Lets talk about depression its much more common than you can imagine. Strokes often effect the brain with sadness and so does the recovery from other health issues and of course the loss of a spouse. This whole house cleaning could also set off sadness in her daily routine. Even though your dad passed years ago, she is now just facing her own older and less able to do things lifestyles. I’m sure she thought that your dad would be there to help her at this time of life and the grieving can resurface. It can be treated with drugs that help so much, but so does therapy. Even though your mom is older it would not hurt to have her do a 4 session therapy round to give her a chance to express her personal feelings to someone other than family. She may smile when you are there but she may be very sad or teary on her own, so check this out. That way she can really close some personal issues and adjust to her new life of being less mobile and more home bound. It is not easy to make that change. So even though you are there for her and your love and support is strong…your mom needs some time talking things through and getting her new lifestyle started with healthy thoughts. What you dont want is for her to be upset or confused or just feeling lonely and no one really knowing about it because she is keeping quiet.

So, lets remake the home area that has been so well cleaned and updated.  Start with an area for her to write down things she needs on a listing by her chair. If she thinks of something she writes it down and when you come on Tuesdays she can give the list to you. You can review and try to handle what ever is on the list in a wise manner. That will keep her feeling that her inability to leave the house and drive is not stopping her from getting things and items in order in her life.

Put together a plan to decorate in a lovely way for each season so she can enjoy her home or any room she lives in as time passes.  Take older pictures of family and choose one or two and have them enlarged and put up on the wall like large art pieces. This removes the clutter of fifty small family frames, into a just a couple of stellar photos that reflect years ago and the current family picture. The older pictures can be scanned and put on a nice mp3 frame that will show a slide show when you touch the screen. Always put your father’s picture in a nice frame and have it where she can enjoy it..maybe one with them both as a couple but do not over do. Memories are to be cherished not overwhelming.

Add a little color with throw pillows and a good lap throw so she has color around her without changing wall color. If there is some money, recover  her better furniture It will be familiar but updated to a current nice color that reflects her personality. Add a grandchild corner with a big basket of toys for the visiting little ones. That way the kids enjoy the visit and she has a reminder of her lovely little ones around her. The house will remain clean, safe to walk around and yet feel updated with things that are currently special to her. Not things that have been there and forgotten for 30 years.   

Remember that when any person pulls their world back down into their own home or care center, their universe is smaller and therefore becomes more intense. So do not be alarmed if she gets upset with things that you feel are small and silly. The room temperature  may bother her to distraction, the way she feels sitting in her chair may be uncomfortable. What used to be a minor issue among many daily tasks is now the only issue. Deal with them as they come up and just allow her to vent until you arrive each week.

Here are some changes that you will have when your Senior is home bound:

  1. The TV may not be right for her. It becomes a big part of her life, so a new set that she can see and use the remote. Adding Dish or Comcast will give her more channels and a constant reminder of how to use the channels and the remote will be required for quite a while tell she understands the process. You might also try moving an old set in a closer position or get her headphones that plug into the TV so she hears without a high volume. History, sports and Military channel for the guys and food, home, mystery channels for the ladies…it makes a huge difference. Set the TV with text to run on the bottom of the screen if your senior is hard of hearing so they really enjoy the viewing time.
  2. Get her into a senior center and drop her off once a week to involve her with other seniors for as long as she can do this with her health issues. This can be cards, bingo, special exercise classes, lectures, lunches, food gifting, crafts and outings. You will find that the first visit needs you by her side and then they get drawn in and really enjoy this time. It will fill their mind with things during their week and help their emotional stability. It is worth having a care giver or senior in neighborhood driving them to and from and that could be a $10-$20 investment well made for the transportation. There are vans for seniors and you can try that too.
  3. Plan events in their homes for your active family members. OK so Thanksgiving is coming up. Did you know that around the holiday many local grocery stores do full turkey dinners? You can order one for a week before Thanksgiving. They will cook the whole meal and it only needs to be picked up, warmed and served. Then invite some family and old friends over for and early Thanksgiving. This will be a full month of getting ready and making plans without the worry over the cooking and lots of left overs to give away. Then the actual holiday comes and your senior can attend the family dinner or stay home without sadness because they had their own nice celebration the week before. Works well for many.
  4. Each visit you need to open the refrigerator and make sure the senior is eating food that is being delivered and prepared. Just because food is in the house does not mean the senior is eating it. So look through the refrigerator. If the senior gets into a special diet of potatoes or just canned chili or other items dont worry, it will work itself out. Just make sure they are eating and add a Boost dietary drink so they get plenty of protein. Tell dr about the eating if it gets bad and he will prescribe meds that increase the hunger issue.
  5. On your visit ck the cleanliness of the kitchen that is a care giver job and you want to make sure the staff you hire for your senior is doing their job. Clean counters, floors, and appliances are a must…check. If it is not clean, report the caregiver to the service and ask for another care giver or more time each week for a good cleaning.
  6. Check on the bathroom for the senior, it should be very clean, the caregiver also is responsible for that area. The bathchair should be in the tub the handheld shower should work and be clean. The towels should be in order. If your senior has old towels remove them. You will need four good bath towels and a stack of hand clothes to make sure your senior is able to get good care. I am sure you know that the most important person you can hire to care for your senior is a bath lady. They are well trained to do a great job and will report injuries, sickness, dizziness and any other problem with your senior. You always find professional at a “In home care service” they provide a variety of care people to hit the needs you might have. They are licensed and bonded but once you use them…all expensive jewelry and family things should be given away or put into the bank box…you dont want great grandma’s brooch to be lost to the family because you did not follow through with this.
  7. How is the mail box at your senior’s home. Is it on the porch and easy for them to use, or across the street? Maybe you need to buy a new one that is larger and easier to use. Or have the mail all forwarded to the home of the person caring for your seniors finances. Getting mail each day, can be a dangerous task for those that do not walk well. If they still want their daily mail, put the pick up on the care givers to do list. Or ask a long time neighbor to drop it off and put a box on the front porch for them to do so. Then  make sure you thank the neighbor often with cookies or a box of candy so they know they are appreciated. This daily ck in by a neighbor can save a life one day.
  8. Watch the charge cards of seniors, they tend to build up if they sit and order items from TV or the phone. You can stop unwanted calls by removing their names on phone lists. You can get a special service added to the phone that will filter calls from anyone but approved family and friends. You can also get a good easy to hear phone with special features for hearing disabled. You can add a cell phone to your own family plan and have your senior wear it on a holder around their neck or in a belt. Teach them how to call for help and call you…you can also add a home protection service that is a button for the senior to push if they are hurt or need help.
  9. If the senior looks out into the yard from their family or living area…get the grass cut and the bushes trimmed and load up the beds with bark. You dont have to make gardening a hobby at your mother’s place, but keeping it looking in order will relax her and help the home to re-sell in the near future. If you have teens in the family ask them to make the garden and grass their task and pay them a small amount. Taking care of the home and keeping it safe will allow your senior to relax and enjoy their life. Instead of them worrying over uncut grass and the house slowing breaking down around them.
  10. Make rules for your time…if your siblings want to visit great…but remember your mother is a part of your family…just a part. Make her needs work into your life with your calendar days not her’s. She is at home each day you are working and keeping another home. So be kind, but be strong about saying I will come down on Tuesdays and get what ever I can done that afternoon and evening…the rest will have to wait till my next visit. She will soon learn the routine and she will be happier knowing you give time to her but still have time for you and your own life.
  11. Care starts small…a day here, an hour there and soon it becomes overwhelming. Remember when you make any decision have an idea of what will happen in time to come. That way each step your mother takes in her recovery and her advancement with her declining health issues- is a step that fulfills her life but is in line with her future care. What I mean is do not spend a lot of her money on things for a home that will not repay, her money is limited and will be needed for care giving in the future. If she wants fancy clothes but she can not go out the door, try to adjust her thinking to clothing that is fresh and easy for at home comfort. It takes a mind change for you both…and that is what you now must make a change and realization that your mom is older and is declining in health.But her today and tomorrow can be happy and fun and filled with hope.

I appreciate your email and that my ideas have already helped you make solid decisions on your mom’s care. You are doing a great job and thank you for your care. Please do visit my web site and remember I have written a book on Senior Care Workbook 101 that really helps with all the decisions and care that will be happening as time goes on. You will find the workbook on my website www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Blessings, francy

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Smart Tips for Just Retired Seniors

By francy Dickinson www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy: I just retired and my kids want me to babysit my granddaughters, my husband wants to by an RV and I just want to rest for a while. What do your seniors say?

They say, “None of the above!”

After talking to so many seniors about their early retirement; lots have told me that’s where they made some errors in judgment, just because of the reasons you stated. Everyone else has ideas for you and you have to be the one to make the decisions about your own life path. All these years you have done things for a work, home, family, children, spouse – now it’s YOU time.

So here are some tips to follow and see where they lead you:

  • Do not make a big move in your first 6mos -1yr of retirement. Just let the dust settle. If you really have a move in mind, spend that time sorting your old life and selling things from the house and getting your mind in a place that you can walk away without regret.
  • If you do move keep one foot on your home base. Lots of seniors run down to sunny climates and begin their play time. Nothing wrong with that, but if you become unwell, lose a spouse or just age to the point you need assistance (we all do you know) then what? Will your children or family be able to care for you miles and miles away? So, the idea is maybe keep a small home, condo or even some things you do not want to move in a storage unit. That way you can rent them out to make the payments and then have a place (or things) that are easy to return to if you need to make that change in the future.
  • If you do go on an RV trip, keep your home. I have talked to dozens of RV’rs that love their life. But they have been so upset making a complete cut from their things back home. It sounds great to just hit the road, but in time, you will want to settle in somewhere. If you keep your things in storage you can retrieve them at will. If you need to settle into an RV park most find a trailer is easier for long term living than a motor home. If you have plenty of money, no worries, but those that I talked to were on a very strict budget and it was hard for them to change their mind in mid-stream.
  • Think things through for a 5-10-20 year plan. You may think that a good ten years of retirement is what you will get in life. But the world is changing more and more folks live into their 100’s. You need to sit down with family and have a plan:
    Example: 5yr/stay in family home and travel in RV – 10 yr/Purchase a home that is long term retiree – 20yr/know that you may need assistance to stay in your home, or move to a retirement center, small apartment or live with your children. Think about your choices and what you want will be able to afford.
  • Prepare your future first: Get your will, your health care directive and insurance papers all in order, copied and give to your children for reference. Get a good inventory program (this one is free http://www.iii.org ) and take pictures of your things from room to room. Use this for insurance and your will gifting or remembrance. Take time to mark your things for family and friends add that listing into your will papers. Talk about your wishes for funerals and get the expenses figured out or prepaid. All of this can be done in the first few months of your retirement and then the nasty subjects of old age are behind you and you can run with the wind at your back.
  • Decide what you like to do and do it. Start to make a list for you and with your spouse of things you love to do but really never had time to do. Some call it a “bucket list” – I call it a fun guide of your retirement. Then when you start to hit the road to travel you have your favorite hobbies or interests right by your side to guide you. This should be done in a spiral notebook kept on the counter in the kitchen. Each partner should jot down things they enjoy as they think of them and then in a couple of months sit down and really look at it and see what each of you desires today and in the next few years.
  • Talk to your children and set rules about Grand Parents. What are you really willing to do? Maybe a once a week babysit or on sick days you go over and take care of the grand or great grand kids. Maybe one full weekend a month you take the grand children to give your kids a rest. But make the deal your deal. Make it a way to enhance your children’s lives, not make their life easy breezy at your expense. So many seniors work as day care for their kids, but then they get stuck. If you do take on the care giving, add the time frame. I will do this for three months, or every six months we will re-visit this and see how I feel about it.
  • Life is short, live it. My mother and dad spent their whole life talking about what they would do when they retired. They had little money and no time, so the future wishes were safe for them to make. The bump? Dad died at 62 and never got to retire. Mother told me she thought she would live just a few years more, but she lived 38 years after he passed. That is a lot of alone time. So, take advantage of retirement while you and your spouse or both well and together. Yes, grandchildren and family are important, but so is your time together.
  • Haven’t done anything with each other for a while? Take a class. I find this is the first thing that will bring an older couple together. Dance class, stained glass window class, how to fly fish class, boating safety class- whatever hits your buttons. Maybe each one of you choose and both of you attend both classes. Senior Universities are cropping up all over the country. They’re free classes given in retirement communities by retired professionals with a wide verity of backgrounds. They are fun, they are usually free or nominal and you can really enjoy the information and get a new outlook on life.
  • Computer working well for you? Got a Blackberry, know how to text? You might want to find a senior center in your area and join a FREE Computer Club. I worked with a PC Club for years giving free – how-to classes. It was fun for me and fun for my seniors to learn all about the Internet and the new gadgets and just enjoy life online, instead of barely using your computer – Worse yet, think you can live without one? If the world is over taken with computers and gadgets today – what will happen in 10-20 years? You will be older and more of life with revolve around new tech. Get on the band wagon, do not feel dumb, feel empowered with new information and enjoy the connections like Twitter. I am @seniorcaretips on Twitter and its filled with terrific people giving me powerful information about my life and business on a daily basis. Don’t be shy, join us!
  • Don’t be embarrassed about “senior” as your new title. So what? Life moves on and you are moving and grooving with it, right? Ask for those senior discounts they make a huge difference in your spendable income. We are using Shari’s web site and George gets his free pie coupons and I get a two for one dinner coupon and their Honor Points. You can find the info on their website https://www.sharis.com/ Just one among many companies that know that senior power means money and they are willing to give discounts and free incentives. Coupons may have seemed below you when you worked and were so busyà now a little clipping for an extra $20-$40 dollar savings on your groceries means you can go out to dinner and still be on budget. Remember, always ask for the senior discount, when buying food, services or products – get in the habit and I will assure you 10-20% will be your min. savings overall. Kool!
  • Buying big ticket items turned out to be a no-no for seniors. They thought that a top of the line, new car, all paid for would be perfect for them for the rest of their retirement with less driving. But 10 years down the road they needed a new car. They bought a new RV vehicle instead of a good used one and it deprecated fast. You have to force yourself to think “long term” and live “long term”
  • Another problem, new retirees bought a smaller home that was modest for retirement, but did not plan for long term. 10-15-20 years later the roof, the carpet and other major repairs are needed and they do not have the money to make that happen. If you plan a retirement home, make it long term. One story, good flooring that will hold though the years, a safe and easy to use bathroom and shower, a yard that is not too big and a roof and siding that will last. Don’t forget enough bedrooms and baths so you can have a roommate or care giver in the future. Think down the line, when you are older and unable to pack up and make another move. Get your retirement home in place with the idea you may be there till you are in your mid 90’s. You may not have a spouse and be living there on your own. That gives you a different eye on things when you look for your new home.
  • Join AARP, they are the largest senior organization and they represent millions of older Americans. They offer lower fees on insurance, medical supplies, and traveling discounts. They have millions using their service so you get discounts that can really keep you aligned for future drops in your income.
  • Take a safe driver’s class. I have taught safe driving classes for the last four years. I love them, the seniors that take them get a discount on their insurance and it bubbles up the defensive driving techniques that we all know, but are stored way in the back of our brains. Good for everyone over 50! Don’t forget to add Road Side Service to your insurance listing. You do not want to be stuck on the side of the road and pay for a tow or tire change!
  • Seniors living with roommates. If you are in a larger home and do not want to move, maybe the idea of a roommate to help with the costs will be just right for you. George and I invited my dear friend into our home. We have a full downstairs with bedrooms and bath. She was on her own and could not afford a lot of rent and with G’s Alzheimer’s we could use the extra income. We now are living as a family and it has been very rewarding for us all. Think on this, it might make a big difference if you are single and want to keep that family home for a few more years!
  • Think medical care, do you have long term insurance, do you have your doctors in order and your list of Rx all ready to take with you on the road? Think of things that may not affect you today, but might mean your whole quality of life in a few years. Example: using a nationwide drug store chain for your Rx means you can fill it in any city you visit, instead of trying to have the pills mailed.
  • Change your habits over to email and text with a cell phone that will inform you of incoming messages. That way you will stay in touch with people where ever you are located. You could be on a trip to Reno or in your backyard and you will know how to call for help and receive family updates. Buy a GPS Garmin type of gadget that shows you the way home from anywhere in the world. That way you never have to use a map or hear, “Where are we?” again.
  • Watch your food intake. Staying at home, by the kitchen, can mean your weight goes up with the amount of easy snacks or boredom. Take up a new walking routine, join the senior center or Y and have fun with a senior exercise program 2-3 times a week. Those things are so good for you and your spouse plus they add new friends to your new way of life.
  • Dedicate yourself to having good check-ups. You have been too busy for doctor visits in the past, now that is behind you. Do not be afraid to face your body and what it holds. Living long and living well are two things that need to go together. Get your breast, your heart, your prostate, your colon, your blood pressure checks and figure out how to eat, exercise, and add supplements and medication to keep you as well as you can be. Have a calendar with doctor appointments firmly made ahead of time. So if you travel you can still stay well. Find out if your health insurance covers you in other states and how to use it if you are out of your home area. You may be able to visit other clinics or doctors in cities that will keep you from shortening your travel plans. Get extra travel insurance for health, if you’re going out of country.

Whatever you decide to do, do not sit down and watch TV all day. Get up, keep a daily planner just like you always did and have your days filled with events. Walking, talking, driving – keep that mind working. Volunteer, I mean the kind of volunteer work that really uses your talents, do it with your friend or spouse and do it often. Do it if you travel, every town has needs for a few hours of volunteer work. Retirement is simply leaving your place of employment, not retiring from life. Keep busy, join, help, love, dance, play and write. You are just starting the rest of your life. Mother used to say that you will have time to do anything you want when you retire. She lived forty years of retirement and she traveled, took classes, learned to paint, learned to make dolls, gardened, knitted, baked hundreds of dozens of cookies, played cards with gal pals and still had time to spend with me. At 100 years she passed with a library book half read on her bed side table. Life goes on longer and better than you ever imagined!

Happiness on your new adventure, please do go to my website and enjoy the information for seniors www.seniorcarewithspirit.com. I have my Dear Francy blog information that goes back a long way with loads of tips. I have written a “How to Give Seniors Care- Care giving 101 Workbook” that is designed to help spouses and family care givers with basic home nursing and care information. And I have added a new venture called Loving Memories that is a FREE service that finds just the right senior care facility for your family member.

Thanks for reading and join me with my on demand talk show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/SeniorCareWithSpirit – I have a new one scheduled on this topic and you can read about it and join me live, call in or listen at your leisure on demand. Thanks francy