Summer Garden Squash Lasagna for Seniors

Featured

Seniors love their gardens.Here is how to use your early zucchini and summer squash
for a delightful Italian meal for your senior. by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; Mom is so sad that she no longer has her garden…she talks about it all the time. I just wish I could gift her a day in the dirt…any ideas for a gal stuck in a wheelchair?

George enjoying his tomatoes on the front porch

George enjoying his tomatoes on the front porch

Yes….get her out the door on your front or back porch and put some veggies in a container. Even if it’s just some herbs…she will feel a part of it again if you hand her the hose and let her water each morning or evening. Here is a fun recipe from our garden…George loves to sit on the porch and watch his garden grow and so when we cut our first squash today — we had to bring it in and make it into a meal!

What I love about cooking these days is I cook for four or six…then I freeze a couple of the left overs as meal size portions. When I have a day that is stress filled and I’m tired. I am able to go and get one of the home-made dinners and George can enjoy the moment all over again. I served this meal with a French roll. I find buying a couple of French rolls is so much easier than trying to finish off a big loaf of French bread. I know both you and your senior will enjoy this meal…its fun to use your own (or local) summer squash and this is a hit with George.

Summer Squash & Zucchini Lasagna

Our first summer squash and zucchini from our container garden

Our first summer squash and zucchini from our container garden

1 med summer squash and 1 med zucchini( chopped)
1/4 pound hamburger (room temp)
1/2 medium sweet onion (chopped)
1 tsp of house seasoning
1tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp fennel
1 can chopped Italian- stewed tomatoes
1  small can or 1 cup of tomato sauce

Turn the oven on to 350 and get a 9 x13 pan greased and sitting aside.

Layering the veggies with cheese

Layering the veggies with cheese

Start the hamburger browning on medium, on the stove. Break it apart so it is in small pieces as it cooks. Add the seasoning combo of salt, pepper and garlic..then when it’s brown…mix in the small chopped onion pieces and the fennel. Let it all brown together. (drain off the excess oil) Add in the squash pieces – that are cut in inch cube size – and the can of stewed tomatoes. Stir for two minutes to bring the flavor of the mix together than take off the burner and let set while you make the cheese layer.
Cheese Layer: 1 Small carton of small curd cottage cheese – 1 beaten egg – a few fresh  leaves of basil cut with scissors into small strips- a large sprig of parsley from your container, cut with scissors. 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Mix all of this together and add pepper and salt.
Layer 1/2 the veggie and meat mixture in the greased pan. Top that with the cheese layer dotted all over the first layer and then spread out. Layer the rest of the veggie and meat mixture and top it with the 1 cup of tomato sauce (or canned spaghetti sauce) and sprinkle that with the Italian Seasoning.
Top it with shredded mozzarella cheese and if you have some shredded fresh Parmesan you can mix that in with the other cheese. Sit the pan in a baking pan to prevent dripping (the squash really adds moisture to this dish, so you do not want to have it dripping in the oven as it bakes.) Bake for 45 minutes on 350 –watching the cheese so it browns but does not burn. Take it out and let it set for about 5-10 minutes so it will cool and set so it is easier to serve.
Italian casseroleI take the French roll – butter it and sprinkle with garlic, Parmesan cheese and Johnny’s Seasoning…and wrap in foil…put in the last 10 minutes so it can be warm and toasty…YUMM.

I usually serve George at his chair in the living room. I have a good tray that I use and I always line it with a towel or napkin and make it look as nice as I can. Eating when you are a senior..is a hard chore…many times seniors lose their ability to taste…so this is a great Italian seasoning meal that is tasty and fun for the senior to eat. Since it’s made of veggies I do not make a side salad..and because its quite rich…I let George eat…rest and then have his coffee with a couple of cookies later. I always put his pills, on the tray…so he can see them and remember to take them after the meal.

I like to give George a nice tray to encourage him to eat the meal

I like to give George a nice tray to encourage him to eat the meal

Italian is a fun way to mix up dinners for seniors that get so tired of everyday meals. Plus the use of the veggies that they helped raise…with their daily watering…and love…makes the dinner even better.

I understand that as the senior advances in his medical complications…eating spicy foods can be hard on the stomach. I did not use many spices in this and you could always leave out the garlic completely. Just work around it and then remember the dinner is fresh and the left overs are perfect frozen dinners for next week.

I always want to thank you for your loving gift of time and attention to your senior. Care giving is a very lonely way of life. So when you and your senior can share a little chore of watering a small container garden…and then enjoy the taste — it gives your daily life a boost…Blessings, francy

Advertisements

SENIORS And HEAT – IT’S DEADLY

Visist your seniors today and check for heat stroke signs

Ideas for keeping seniors cool in the warmer weather months…by francy Dickinson

When I began caring for my mother in her 90’s with heart problems, I was shocked at the extent of her feeling ‘of being cold’. She wore layers of clothing all year long…she had her space heater on in the summer and wanted me to give her heating pads. Why? I would be so confused and wanted her to be outside in the sunshine…but she was too cold there.

I talked to the doctor about this and he said, it was her medications. Many medications fool the body into believing that it is cold. Even though the seniors temperature is normal, they ‘feel cold’ . So, that made sense to me and I tried to help her with year round flannel sheets and a good electric blanket on her bed. I would serve her tea warm not cold in the summer and I would give her a hat and sweater when we sat outside in the middle of a heat wave. Lucky for us, we live in the Seattle area and our summers are very moderate. But, all along…I would push her drinking juice and water.

ELDERS DO NOT DRINK WATER….LIKE WE DO!

I don’t know when we all started to drink so much water. But older folks did not grow up with water bottles. They had drinking fountains and drank when they were thirsty…so it is very hard for them to drink water, on our demand. Mother and my husband George…would drink water with pills –but just enough to take the pills. So, I have learned to give  fruits like grapes and watermelon, fruit drinks watered down…and as much decaf tea and coffee as I can get in them during the day.

Water is not only important for reduction of heat stroke, but also for good bowel movements and kidney functions. It’s not just water for thirst, its water for a body to function well and stay healthy and working. Many seniors take water pills to help their hearts clear out the water in the body….that alone will drain the system of liquids. So the seniors have to keep intake of water up…and up…and they have to do it in the summer even more.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN IT IS HOT AND THE SENIOR THINKS THEY ARE COLD?

This is so important. You simply have to ‘remind’ them over and over again to drink…to keep the room cool with a fan or AC and if not — you have to take them to a ‘Cool Center’ in hot weather. Each summer we have waves of extra hot weather..and with it waves of seniors that lose their lives to heat stroke and dehydration. As neighbors, family, spouses and simply caring people…we have to be as observant of our elders as we are of our small babies.

If you know a senior that is alone during this heat wave…please check on them over and over again. Seniors do not want others to fuss over them…so they will say; “Oh, I’m fine here -everything is OK at my place.” Do not take that as an answer…go and check…see if they have the temperature in order and there are signs of drinking liquids.

IDEAS FOR KEEPING SENIORS COOL:

  1. Cooling Centers are set up all over your area. They can be at high schools, churches, senior centers. Just ask, call your local library and ask them to locate a senior cooling center for your own senior. Those librarians are always a wonderful source of information…please use them!
  2. Time for a movie…or a walk over at the mall. If you just want to get your senior out and about…find a movie they will enjoy and know they will have a couple of hours in a cool spot. If their apartment is extra hot, call the local fire department (on their business line, not the 911) and ask them if an air conditioner is available for a senior that is bed bound. If the senior is on Hospice, ask Hospice to check on the temperature in their home. There are many avenues of community help out there…get creative and find someone who will step forward and give you help.
  3. Not only can you give your senior liquids, but fruits such as watermelon, grapes, apples and always bananas for their potassium. Ice cream is a senior favorite, but Popsicle are golden. Sherbet and Popsicle are really easy for seniors to have two to three times a day. You can buy a big bunch of Popsicle at any box store for very little price. If you are going to check on a senior that you do not know well…arrive with a box of Popsicle and ask them to enjoy them a few times a day to stay cool and keep their body hydrated.
  4. Bed clothes are way to warm at night. Add flannel sheets to keep the senior feeling warm — but remove the electric blanket and layers of heavy blankets during the summer heat.
  5. Change the senior’s clothes. Layers are fine, but make it layers of underwear, tee-shirt type of material and then a sweater or shawl. They do not get to wear winter warm clothing in summer. I actually change the closet in the hot and cold weather to make the dressing choices easier for the senior. So flannel shirts go out the door to the storage closet and the polo shirts and short sleeve shirts hang in the closet. Adding a light jacket, sweater or sweat shirt is fine…but keep the selection of clothing tilting towards the cool side in the summer. Remember: Mumu’s were invented for one reason…comfort in the heat 😉
  6. Most seniors shower. As you age using a tub for a bath becomes harder and the risk of falls increases. Showers are the best way to cool down each day…a moderate temp shower on the cooler than normal side will reduce the body temp and ease the skin. ALWAYS HAVE A BENCH OR SEAT IN THE SHOWER AREA WITH A GOOD WALL MOUNT HANDLE FOR SAFETY!! You know; senior skin gets thinner and it makes it very sensitive. So you will have to keep moisturizer handy for the senior to use in the summer. A Spitzer bottle of water will also provide the skin and face with moisture in the heat.
  7. PERSONAL: (Cover your ears.) Body parts are body parts…so women that are older have hot spots under their breasts, on the high thigh or hips where the stomach skin slouches down and other personal spots. Men are the same with even their penis effected with the skin shrinking down and the area becoming moist. So, ask your doctor 4 help here…or just get some cream that you would use on baby bottoms to fight diaper rash. That cream will go on, in those sensitive areas and keep them from rash and infection in extreme heat. (OK, you can uncover your ears now)
  8. Cool clothes or small zip lock bags with ice inside held under the arm pits –on the neck, or lower back, will cool the body fast. NOTE TO SELF: Check to see that the senior has ice available.
  9. Fans should be kept on in the sleeping area…maybe the senior can sleep in a back bedroom instead of their usual bedroom…check the house for the coolest spots and keep the air flowing or the AC on in those areas. Check the internet for less expensive portable AC units. Do your home work and know the investment is always well worth it, when the heat hits.
  10. Be creative. I know seniors get stuck in their ways…but take a look at their home or apartment…you can work things out. Then if all else fails…I sit down and get serious. I told my mom– that I loved her and wanted her to be with me as long as possible. Her health was simply the most important thing to me, so how could we keep her body cool and healthy? I made it a joint venture…don’t lose your family, friend, neighbor or spouse in a heat wave…it can be prevented!!
  11. My tip for seniors alone…get them a small ice chest to have by their feet, at their favorite chair. Then you can fill it with Boost, water, fruits and sugar treats etc and they only have to reach down and open the lid to get refreshed!

Once again, I thank you for caring for your loved one. Because of you, their life is richer and you have to focus on that. I know that getting thanks from seniors in care is rare. So, take it from me…YOU ARE SPECIAL…francy

PS I have been going through hard times with my husband Georgie, so I have not kept the blog up to date. I am sorry for that…I will try harder. Georgie has Alzheimer’s and is forgetting how to walk. I have had to re teach him to walk on a weekly basis, lately. He also had so many accidents that he is now using Depends….it was a hard thing  for him to do, he was so sad over it. Life is never easy with care giving but, I do want to be here for you and I know you support me. It’s a lonely road when your spouse is failing in their health. Let’s work together to make the road as smooth as it can be for us all…f.

Answers for a Depressed Spouse Care-Giver

Ideas to help those feeling low and helpless with depression over giving care to their spouse 24/7. by francy Dickinson

Family friend, Kathy, giving me a break and caring for mom

Dear Francy; My wife is in late stages of Parkinson’s. She now sleeps a lot and her speech is very impaired. I can not really understand her or what she wants from me. Her ability to be mobile is gone and I have to stay by her side when she moves. She does not eat anything but cookies and drinks only soda pop. The house is a mess, I am tired and mad most days. I know you help others with ideas, but what can you do for me…I’m just angry.

Anger, yes…who would not be angry when the person you have given your heart to for so many years…suddenly needs you the most, but you are unable to really help?

You just have to trust me this frustration and anger is called depression. If you have never had anymore than a few blue days in your life…depression may seem a fussy word for you. But you described just the situation that brings a person down.

See if this fits?

  1. You try so hard to care for your spouse that you actually can ‘feel’ their needs. You know when they need to go to the toilet, eat, or what they say when they mumble. You try to think ahead to things that will keep them calm. This is very what mothers do with small infants; the ability to talk, does not mean there is no way to interact with another person.
    But/ if you go to the bathroom yourself, take a step out of a room or just fall asleep in your chair you miss the clue. You then feel like you have let them down. They’re in need, they have fallen, they have had an accident, they are crying from frustration…it feels like your fault.
  2. You find that you are sleeping at the top of your sleep…any small noise wakes you up and you feel you have to go and check your spouse. This light sleep makes you feel out of sorts all day.
    Result/ you get very little sleep at all and almost no deep rejuvenating sleep. Therefore, you are just running on fumes most days and your frustration turns to anger towards yourself.
  3. You try to  think of things to feed your spouse. As they lose their sense of taste they turn to sweet or sour foods. They eat less, so they are not hungry. They forget how to swallow well and you have to be right by them at all times to keep them from choking. They need water for flushing their pills and the toxins in their body, but they will not drink water. You try but they resist every road you go down.
    Result/ you don’t eat well yourself. You do not want to make a dinner for one, it feels like to much trouble so you grab easy choices to eat. Toast, sandwich, cookies, chips and other easy to eat food. They simply give you sugar highs and lows, upset stomach, weight gain or loss and you counter with more and more caffeine to keep you going.
  4. You need to be there to move your spouse from point A to point B. Too unsteady to walk on their own, that means you have to jump up each time your spouse needs to move.
    Result/you have no time to your own self. You get pulled away from doing the washing, making beds, cleaning the house. You can not take time to walk out the door even to retrieve something from the garage. You feel almost trapped in the room with your spouse and your world gets smaller and smaller.
  5. People tell you to get out and about. But preparing your spouse is so time-consuming. You have to clean them up, get them dressed, struggle with the upset they have on any change of pace to their day. Then you have to get yourself clean, dressed and ready to go.
    Result/ you forget your grocery store list, you lose your keys, you are late for doctor appointments or if you do go out to eat…the process is so upsetting, you simply find staying at home is safe and easier. Plus; one trip out the door, means 2-3 days of bed rest for your spouse and more work for yourself.
  6. TV becomes the focus of the household. It will calm your spouse and give you that ‘white-noise’ in the background to rest your mind.
    Result/ you nod off during the shows and that reduces your night-sleeping ability. You sit in a chair and do not get real exercise so when you jump up to help your spouse you find you have a sore back, or achy feet.
  7. When any moment of intimate talk with your spouse does take place, or even quiet time–you look at your spouse and remember old times, memories of places you have gone together, things you used to say to each other. You miss the little jokes you once shared, the songs you sang, the silly talk between you. You start to hate holidays, anniversaries, birthdays and you avoid the thoughts that bring out the pain.
    Result/ you get upset and emotional, then you get mad at yourself for being silly and you get angry. You walk around the house just thinking of what you can do to change things and yet, come up with no answers.
  8. You wake up with an idea for your day; maybe you have a household repair that has to be done or a chore that has to be attended too. You have it in your mind, how you will go about the repair, or what tool or part you have to buy to make the repair. Then you start to care for your spouse. The morning personal cleaning of them, their breakfast, their pills, adjusting their chair or couch area, the whole process and then you realize that the day is half over. You have had no time to do the chore or to leave the house to get the tool needed.
    Result/ you get upset with yourself that you are getting nothing done around the house. The place looks messy, dirty, and it is over-whelming.  You start to pull back and force yourself  not to look at the mess, not even think of the repair. You just protect yourself from disappointment by ignoring your surroundings.
  9. You have had a stomach upset for a few days, you know you do not feel right. You get so busy helping your spouse and dealing with anyone coming over to help with the house that your own health is coming second.
    Result/you slowly become weaker in your own body. You start to have more problems. You feel allergies, problems with your bathroom habits, your own cleanliness. Everything seems to go downhill. You would go and get yourself checked-up with a doctor but the ability to be free to leave the house is so limited you just put it all on the back burner.
  10. Your family or children come over and when they do your spouse rallies up and looks so much better. They see a person that is doing well, maybe in a good mood and wonder what all the fuss is about when you call them.
    Result / your relationship with the family and old friends starts to go down. You call them less, you rarely ask them to help you. You know they are busy and so you simply cope. You feel upset towards others that don’t understand

All of the above things equal a care giver that is burnt out, tired, feeling helpless, angry, upset and that all twirls together into high stress and depression. It does not mean you are a bad person, or that you are not strong, or that you are not doing your best. It means that you need help.

HELP – HOW CAN I GET SOME OF THAT?

  • March your bottom into your doctor’s office and tell the doctor you need help. Let them know you are tired, upset, worried and simply have emptied out your energy pool. Let them look you over. Let them see if your weight, blood pressure, sugar levels, energy, strength and emotional issues are understood and treated. That way you can continue to care for your spouse with a renewal of energy and creative ideas to help them. You get strong, so you can be stronger for your spouse.
  • Call a ‘family and close friends’ meeting. Explain you need to have some time to breath away from the house. You need help with a few hours here and there to take your mind and body out the door and away from care giving to ‘just be you’. Let them come up with ideas; maybe they will offer to come and help, maybe they will offer to pay for in-home care. No one knows what you are going through until you share. I had to share and when I did I was shocked at how kind and loving my family and friends were to me.
  • Call a professional. There are companies that your doctor or friends can recommend to come into your home and help with different chores. If you are on a strict budget, do not worry…the companies that do this work, know all the ways to get paid. They will know how to bill you personally, through your insurance, through a local or state funding, or other means. Give them a call; it will cost nothing for them to come and give you an evaluation. They will tell you what you need and work within your budget. If nothing else get a bath lady to bathe your spouse so that chore can be done fast, professionally and allows you the rest while they do so.
  • Ask the doctor to advise you of an elder care social service. This is really nice. They are trained people who know how to find different services in your area that are free. They will help you get things done. They can advise you and you can alway say NO…but to know that there are people out there that will help you is so important. I have personally gone to the local hospital and worked with the social worker there. Hospitals are very community oriented and they want to advise you on services. There is no cost to go and talk to an Elder social worker.
  • Call your local Elder social services in your area. They will hook you into things that your state can provide for you. Often there is food, care, energy bill relief and medication money available from your state. It is a wonderful service and your tax money, all the years of your working life, have paid for these services. You are not talking anything from anyone – the state wants their residents to be safe and well cared.
  • Let neighbors and your faith community know that things have now gone into over load…do not be quiet. No one can help, if you don’t tell them your efforts and challenges. The help will be for you and your spouse…so speak up. Veteran’s, service organizations like Elks, local community services, fraternal and union orders, there are so many people who are waiting to give you a hand. Reach out…talk – tell them you have needs.
  • Hospice is a free service for those who are on a life ending journey. They will come to your home and make an evaluation and give you ideas of how to use their services. If it is not time yet, they will check-in with you every couple of months, if it is they will ease in the door and take over and give you so much more time to yourself. This service is so important and most people call them way to late. When you call they will come and offer food prep, cleaning services, medication, nurse services and the list goes on and on. Know that it is there…to allow you to return to the job you really have…the loving spouse. So you can have quality time during the journey’s end for your loved one.

The key to your situation is being brave enough to reach out for help. To talk, interact with others and to understand your personal strength is the key to good care for your spouse. You need to stay healthy and in a place of peace with your emotions. No one will take away the sadness of your situation, but they will honor it and help you find ways to work through the journey. I thank you for your loving care given to your wife. Blessings, francy

francy Dickinson with Missy

PS I am working on a care giving book for all of you…I’m excited to say it is scheduled for publishing in the next month. Yeah.

If you would be kind enough to click on the ‘Sign up’ button on the right of my web page —- you will be notified of new posts and of my book release.

OH, OH don’t forget I am on Twitter at @SeniorCareTips you can click the button and follow me for daily care giving tips

Never Too Old for New Year’s Start-Overs

Ideas to re-boot and review the care for your elder in the New Year. How to get a boost in the care giving routine. by francy Dickinson

Adding Mobility in the New Year

Dear Francy; My dad has had a hard holiday caring for my mother. He feels like his life is fading as fast as my mother’s life. He is worn out and simply feels frustrated with the doctors and medications that have been given to mother. I have asked him to get a new doctor, but he says it’s best not to rock the boat. How do you feel about changing doctors in mid-stream for a Parkinson’s patient?

I feel like you all deserve the best care you can get. If the family doctor is no longer making head way with your mother…then it’s time for a change. If you do not have a neurologist you need to do some research and get one. Get your mother in the door and ask for a review of her symtoms and a re-assestment of all her medications.

The world changes so fast and every year there are new medications. As a patient moves forward in their care they may need to change their general health medications or limit them down. Neurologists are like the geeks of the care world. They love to research the different meds and do an in-depth review of all the chemical compounds in the medications.

Let’s take another step; let’s get your dad thinking positive about his health and his own future. As a care-giver; the emotions of the spouse do make a difference in the quality of care. Depression is very real for those facing the onslaught of a constant down swing in the health of their life-long partners. Here are a few tips I use:

  1. Get his own health check-up. Many times women are the ones that keep their husband’s health on track. If she is no longer able to do that sort of thing…it is up to him to make an appointment and get a full check-up in the New Year. Knowing his body is strong, or if a problem is beginning for him….he can add medication or a proceedure to deal with it and give him a feeling of well-being.
  2. Depression is not a light issue. I talk about it so often because so many care-givers suffer with depression in silence. The family is concentrating on the care of the sick spouse and the other spouse just seems to slip under the radar. Pay attention to him and make sure he is taking his own medications, that he is eating well and he gets breaks from the 24/7 of care.
  3. Freshen up the surroundings. If a home becomes a care place, it often gets very disorganized. That clutter of pills containers, bills, pillows, and care giving things can really get over whelming. Try to help him calm the place down. Many elders use their dining table as a place to put bills…get them into a spot that is sorted and easy to review. Get a spiral notebook so your mother’s care and notes can be kept in one place, not on little pieces of paper. Get the dining table free to be clean and tidy, get the living areas calmed down so the care giving and the patient can feel comforted not distracted.
  4. Do phone checks. If you have other siblings have them call in the morning and you call at night. That constant check-in for just a couple of minutes will keep your dad feeling he is not alone and you can judge if he is in a good place day by day.
  5.  Get your dad into watching a TV show, or radio program each day. Many times if one has a focus on something simple but distracting it can really lift spirits. It might take you to do a search to find a sports show, and interview show or a game show that your dad would get a kick out of viewing or listening to on a continued basis. This repetitive action gives the days a basis. When you are care giving around the clock…you tend to lose your daily clock. If you can replace that with something enjoyed by your dad…he will look forward to it each day.
  6. Exercise for them both. No matter what stage your mother is in her journey, she needs to move. If she can still walk…she needs to do so, if she can only do transfers she can do hand and feet circles and lift small weights. Your dad can take a walk in the back yard for 10 minutes while your mother is napping. That way he is close, but still feels the fresh air and moves his body back and forth. I do this on a daily basis. It may not be a fancy walk in the woods, but it gets me moving, breathing and rests my mind with the quiet of the outdoors in my own backyard.
  7. Have your dad change his daily drinking of coffee to one cup a day and then switch to tea. Most older men have problems with prostate issues. They do not understand the way that coffee pulls on their body and if they make this change it will help them. Running back and forth to the bathroom is very exhausting when you are busy giving care. Keeping an eye on this issue is important there are medications that can help and it should be talked about.
  8. Watching skin care. Lots of elders tend to stop bathing as much as they used to. It means that the skin can break down and so they need to set a ritual. I have an every other day shower rule for my Georgie. He gets his shower and his legs and arms get a good moisturizer so the skin stays healthy. Then he has the next day off.  Take note of the bathing in the home. If your dad has trouble with bathing your mom…get a ‘Bath-lady’. This in home service is worth its weight in gold, they will come once or twice a week and bath your mother. They are trained to bath and check for any sore spots on the skin. They interact with the elder and do their hair and moisture treatments. They are a great choice of added ‘in-home’ care.
  9. Ask family to give your dad an afternoon or evening off each week. Make sure he has plans. No staying home; kick him out the door to go to the store, have coffee, visit a friend or do a hobby. This simple rest from the care giving can save the mental, emotional and physical health of a spouse giving care.
  10. Make sure your dad is wearing comfortable, clean and new clothes. Lots of elders tend to stop shopping for new things. All of our minds need to have new things in our lives to keep us feeling good about our self. We need to get our hair done, our face and teeth clean and our clothes looking good. Just because they are in their home most of the time, does not mean they get to ignore their personal appearance. Men often do this and it will affect their emotions.

I think that the beginning of the year is a perfect time for anyone to review what has been working in the past and what has not been working. To share it with family and the health care team they work with and make changes. Your mother deserves quality care; new medications, new supplements, new food intake, more water and other fluids and movement…could change the stage of her health.

Your dad deserves some space to be his own person. Encouraging him to do a hobby or see friends is just as important as his giving care to your mom. He needs to keep his own life pattern so when your mother passes…he will have a reason to live on in peace.

It’s never too late and no one is ever too old to make decisions to empower and improve their lives. Encourage your dad to make some changes this month. Often, the thought of change itself; is hard for someone in the middle of giving care. Help him with your spirit and love…it will make a difference for both of your parents.

Blessings on all you do for your mom and dad…thank you for your care, francy

Francy with her Bichon, Missy

PS My new book on senior care is coming out this winter…I’m excited to start sharing it with you and help with more care giving tips.

Oh, please do me a favor and click on the “Sign-up” button on the right hand side of the webpage…you will be notified when I post a new blog. And please do share my work with anyone that is giving care to their family or loved one.

I am on twitter @SeniorCareTips

Merry, Merry Ideas for In-home Seniors

Here are some tips for helping elders through the holidays when they are stuck in the house or in-bed…from francy Dickinson

Our Holiday Home in Washington State

Dear Francy: Mother is nearing her end, she is in bed full-time and can only see out to the back yard. This holiday is pretty sad for us. Do you have some ideas for those stuck in their bedrooms?

The end of life journey is never easy…but making it a joy in bits and pieces is something we can all achieve if we give it our creative thoughts. So here are ideas that I have used and the elders have found enjoyable.

IDEAS TO CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY SEASON WITH YOUR ELDERS IN CARE:

  1. If a bedroom is by the bathroom, it’s a great place to put the special hospital bed. But if the home has more  activity or a view from the front of the house…move over that sofa and put the hospital bed in that front room.
  2. Once a hospital bed is ordered from hospice, it is usually understood that there is a three-month care range for the elder to experience. So, this move of putting the bed into a special room with a view, or a large TV or just where the action is —-is a great choice. You can also move the bed around in the bedroom to face a window so they have a view…when they are bed-bound.
  3. Often commodes have to be used anyway…walking to the bathroom is a trip that becomes too long- even if it is within 20 steps. So, don’t worry…just pick a place the elder would feel good to be in during the day and nite.  (If you have to move furniture…do it!  Take it out to the garage or basement area so there is room for the senior to get up and move around to a chair or commode with their walker or wheelchair.)

HOLIDAY DISPLAYS:

Outside Light Show for Elders

  • Set up an outside light display for the Elder’s window…so during the day they have a small tree in their room —but at night the lights become a fairyland outside their windows. Seniors often have trouble sleeping nights– with pain and worry–so a lovely outside display really makes it special.
  • If you don’t have a holiday light display; ask around, get a friend or a neighbor to share their display of tree, deers, etc with you for this holiday season
  • After the holiday add a peanut feeder for the squirrels or a birdfeeder for the birds in a cold winter weather -that way the activity of the window and view gives the senior a way to meditate and rest
  • You can leave little fairy lights on after the holiday to go through the cold and snow of the winter. Just a little twinkle lights on a bush or tree by the window adds wonder

TURN OFF THE TV…
AND TURN ON THE HOLIDAY MUSIC

  • When you feed the Elder their dinner, or do their night-time procedures—turn on the holiday music. This is a great way of celebrating old memories and holiday traditions, to surround the senior in music. Find a Traditional Holiday Music channel on your Dish or Cable, or find a local radio station that features holiday music through the week before Christmas.
  • Ask a friend, or a neighbor to include your senior in their cookie list. So the senior gets the flavor of homemade cookies and each evening has a nice treat to enjoy before bed. Add cocoa in a nice fun Santa mug and peppermint candy cane sticking out the top of their morning coffee.
  • Take note of the different holiday traditional programs on the TV. Just like you would with the kids, think of your seniors and make sure they are able to enjoy the specials. The favorite movies would be; Miracle on 32nd Street, White Christmas and many more. Each year different singers have specials and there are cartoon specials like; “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” that add a happy note to the day.
  • Note that ordering a new TV Dish or cable so the senior has a variety of channels to enjoy when they are bed-bound is a caring thing.
  • Think about the senior’s heritage. Our family has a Danish Christmas Bread flavored with cardamom and my mother always looked forward to it. There are other traditions of cookies and different dishes that are special for the holidays. Taking time to ask; what is a good memory for the senior???  is a perfect way to add love to the difficult time of illness over holiday time.
  • Do not forget those gifts; a pair of slippers, a new robe, a fun hat or throw to keep the senior warm…all of those are usable and kind to give as a healing joy.  Never forget that all seniors love chocolates…and chocolate dipped fruit, or small seedless mandarin oranges or sweet apples.
  • Watch things that are hard to chew because most people in pain do not have good teeth

SPECIAL THINGS FOR SPECIAL ELDERS:

  • Asking a local church if they would visit with a caroling group, or young people dropping off some soup- or holiday treats…would all be appreciated.
  • Family members that are very small could dress up and bring over a nice arrangement of greens so the house smells great and the kids can play in front of Grandma.
  • A telephone listing can be made special if someone shares their SKYPE with Grandma and she can ‘SEE’ grandchildren or great grandchildren from a far.
  • A scanner can be used in the elder’s living room and pictures placed on a thumb drive so the family has copies of old pictures. Then place the thumb drive in a slide show frame so the elder can see old pictures run through their show —each evening.
  • Teens can bring over their laptops or tablets and let grandpa see his old house on Google Earth, or view the lights on Broadway, or pic out a cam-pic from their old village in their parent’s home in Europe or Asia. Even more ideas from those that love their Internet…yeah…fun stuff.

Home bound, bed bound, does not mean…that you cannot open the world of love and memories for the senior in care…give it your creative ideas. You may just make their holiday the best they ever had…blessings, francy

Hey stay tuned for my two new care giving books…they are due out in January…

?? Would you do me a favor and click on the ‘Sign up’ button on the right so you can be notified of my new posts…

Thank you…and Happy Holidays…francy

Shut-In: Senior Energy Fruit Shake…YUMM

Energy shake recipe for seniors – easy to make and tastes like a milkshake treat. by Francy Dickinson

Friday Special Treat Day

Shut-In Energy Shake

Totally Yummy Easy Energy Shake

I am going to try to update you with a Friday Recipe treat each week. I like to do easy recipes for those living alone, shut-ins, and those that are on real tight budgets. So, you will have a lot to choose from as the weeks go by.

George is getting more and more into shakes instead of solid foods for all his meals. He likes his in the mid-day. Alzheimer’s and it various medications can take away the feeling of hunger. That means its extra important to keep him filled with good food at the right times of the day. He has lost his taste and smell…they have gone down to almost nothing…so to give him a treat that tastes good is not easy. This shake has worked so well for him.

A good energy shake has protein. Now I like to keep protein drinks around so he can have something to give him a Boost during the day…but you can have a can of protein powder on your shelf too. The powder is less expensive and you want to buy a small box not one of the giant sizes. (we leave those big boxes of protein powder for the body builders) I suggest you get the Vanilla flavor so you can add fruit or chocolate, or even some coffee to flavor it in your shakes.

The good news about this shake is that it is easy to do with the new frozen fruits. I don’t know what they are doing, but this new flash frozen fruit is really adding high quality to the shakes. I get a medley of berries and use a couple for nite time treats…and add a cup of them to this shake and I have plenty for a few shakes. I find them at Walmart or Winco very inexpensive and it means I can serve the shakes all through the year. The frozen fruit adds to the taste and the feeling of an ice milk shake that George adores. This is a winner.

You will see that I add a few little things like 1/2 container of yogurt (flavor of your choice) for its rich taste and good probiotic. Then I top that off with a hit of Metamucil…it will add a little bulk to your drink and you will never know it was there!

My brother-n-law is loosing his teeth and they are very sore. He is fighting cancer and it’s not the time to dedicate to dental work. So his food needs to be soft and easy. This is a perfect shake to give him the feeling of a treat with nothing but good stuff in it.

Yes, you can use sugar…but I think we can all use a little less of that and a sugar substitute is so easy to use and no worry over diabetes. You can just do what you like and make it your own treat. You can make it and divide it into two for two people or give yourself one in the fridge to grab at night when you are tired.

This shake is perfect for your day time cooler that I like you to have by your TV chair, too. You will see that changing eating habits is not as hard as you think. If you cooked for 6 and now there are only 2 of you…or if you have lost your spouse and have to prepare food for just yourself. This type of thing is just the ticket.

As a caregiver…take a look at the protein in this drink. Different protein powders give you different measurements. Your senior really does need that protein to keep alert and muscle strong. So try to work a shake in at least twice a week, if not once a day. Adding a banana and other fruits is great too…but the frozen fruits to make this like a milk shake.

Here is the connection for the recipe and you can print it off easily from my recipe page. You will find a lot of family recipes and Shut-In recipes on my page too.

Click Here to Visit and Print Recipe

Shut-In:/ Easy Senior Energy Shake Recipe

  • You have a choice here choose one:
  •    1 Energy drink like Boost (vanilla flavor) OR
  •    1 cup low-fat milk, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  •    Then add to it, in blender:
  •    1/4 cup citrus fruit juice of choice (I use lemon)
  •    1 small pack of Splenda sweetener
  •    1/4 tsp vanilla
  •    1 cup frozen mixed berries (this needs frozen ones)
  •    1/2 container of vanilla yogurt
  •    1 tsp Metamucil (optional but good for you)

Instructions

  1. The beauty of this is in the frozen berries. They are flash freezing fruits so they are sooo good now. I get the packages in the frozen foods at Walmart and I use them in shakes so they give it the feeling of a frosted milk shake instead of just a protein drink. Oh boy, these are yumm.
  2. You can use your own protein drink that is chilled in frig or you can just get some protein powder and a cup of low-fat milk. Put either one of those (your choice) into your blender, or food processor. Add in the 1/4 cup citrus juice that you like and the sweetener with the vanilla. Then the berries or other frozen fruits (always use 1 cup) use 1/2 of a container of yogurt that matches flavors with your drink, I use berry or vanilla. I like to add the Metamucil to make it even better for George. Then hit the button and swirl until it is thick and rich.
  3. Pour it into one of the new large juice cups with lids. I show one in the picture above. These are at all the stores now and have a built-in straw. What I like about them is that you can close the lid and tuck in the straw to sit them on a table or put it in your walker and not worry about it spilling…Its so handy that way. Look for them at the grocery store and get a fun color…I have a red and pink one…George has blue…it makes it easy to spot around the house.
  4. Perfect shake to start your morning, for an afternoon snack or a dinner replacement. Some times you just don’t feel like cooking, but you need your protein and a great tasting treat!
Hope this helps with ideas for senior care givers. Feeding “Elders in Care” is a very hard thing to do. You will find more ideas on my recipe page…OH, this shake has no age limit….we can all enjoy it!
Thanks again for all you do for your senior family
PS//Excited about my new book coming out in September called “Guiding Family Care” I will let you know when it hits Amazon…would you click on the right side of the page and sign up for my site updates and leave me a comment…I love comments…OH and if you liked the read…please hit the LIKE button..thanks!  francy

Alzheimer’s/Dementia Need to Keep Moving

Fighting dementia’s anger issues, Parkinson’s body muscle breakdown and Alzheimer’s emotional outbreaks with exercise and small chores by francy Dickinson
 

Friends Enjoying Assisted Care

Dear Francy; My in-laws have gone from the sweetest couple in the world to a home with shouting, anger, and total rejection of home cleaning and upkeep. My husband is beside his self and trying so hard to keep them safe and calm. His mom is in her late 70’s and his dad is 82. Once active they are simply now doing nothing, rarely even prepare food. It’s really tearing my husband up and exhausting him trying to keep the plates twirling in the air both here at home and for their home. What can we do?
 

Well the amount of dual diagnosis for couples is rising, I’m afraid. It’s really tough when you have both parents ill or suffering through side issues of emotions or depression. But lets take a few ideas and throw them around. As you know; the first and best idea is to re-locate them into a retirement situation that includes meals and activities. That would give you and your family so much time and energy saved with your parent’s care. On the down side; it would probably take the value of their home for their life care, so there will probably be no big inheritance in your future. Lots of children of elders think that the carrot at the end of their care-giving stick…is inheriting their parent’s home. (trust me, a lot of kids feel this way) If you can say goodbye to that future income; in exchange for the parents being in a place where their life can be relieved of so much stress and just think about their personal and health issues— it would make a huge change for all of you.

But the reason I write this blog is that ‘most’ families can not do that change. The parents may not want to move, their home may not have equity, their income may not allow them to have assisted or retirement care. So what do families do if this is the case? Lets list a few ideas and see if you can take a few of them to help your current situation.

TAKE THE PRESSURE OF CARE AND REDUCE IT WITH THESE TIPS:

  • Make the rules. If you are going to care for someone on a long-term scale…you get to have a say in the life style and home rules. Get the legal stuff out-of-the-way from the get-go. Get the power of attorney done and signed by both of them. Get their property in joint names and make sure that the dots and dashes are taken care of from day one. I just insist people take care of this issue, even if there is argument and hurt feelings; it’s the way the world is and business is business. Plus, you would never be able to help them in a doctor’s office if you do not have a Power of Attorney for health care signed and notory stamped. Everyone wants this doctors, hospitals, insurance, banks, and the list goes on. Trust me; get this part done.
  • Take time with your own family and set up a calendar for the family and work. See the actual days and times that are free before you try to run over and solve your parent’s problems. If you see that Wednesday is a low family value day…than just make it into a mid-week parent check day. Your husband or you will go over and solve mid-week problems, fix a good meal and spend time with them. Then another in person check can be done on the weekend. Work your own schedule not theirs. If they have a TV show or card club that night…too bad. They will have to tape the show and reschedule the cards; YOUR schedule is current and your own family comes first. That is the rule. Then we move on to care time.
  • Buy a large calendar for the parents to put up on their kitchen wall. I have one with three months at a time. You are in charge of the calendar. You put in the month and dates and keep it updated at the end of each month. It’s a reminder calendar, birthdays, dr appt, at least one activity outside of the home each month, general things that you do around a house each month. This is the hub of what you will be doing and what they can do.
  • You do things that require a ladder and detail work, they do things that are easy to achieve and safe for them to do. You will have to begin to put down the chore list on a small white board…each time you come, you give them things to finish when you are gone. Laundry or folding and putting it away. Or you do the laundry and bring it to them to fold and put away while you are there. It is how well they are functioning that you judge the chores. If you need to do a reminder and call them during the week…then snap a pic of their chore list on your phone..so you can remember what they need to be doing. Keep repeating the chore listing and asking how it is coming, push, push, push…they need to be doing and the confusion of what to do, and who is to do it and how to do it…is giving them stress and thus the arguments. This clearly defined listing of chores is still done, over and over. Do not cave…keep it up, make the chores easier or more complicated depending on their joint abilities.
  • They need to move…so here are some tips. If you have close hands on, turn on the TV for the PBS ‘Sit and Be Fit’ or get DVR’s designed for seniors to move. If they need more supervision then take them to the senior center twice a week. If they can not go out and you are not there to help them…get a student to do it for you. Just like a dog walker; exercise students will come to home and do a 30 minute exercise with them. Seniors always respond to young adults. Visit a gym or college and find students that need to get some experience and hire them for a small amount to keep your parents moving and grooving.
  • Walking? If the two of them can still walk, a walking group is a great way to add both movement and socializing to their life. Make a few calls…get creative and find local resources to help you care for them. Senior resources are available in all communities; more things than you can imagine…but they are there for the taking so find them.
  • ‘Looking forward’ is a big issue with seniors. Get your kinds or your events up on their calendar to share. Let them look forward to grandson’s music concert this month.  Let them look forward to a family birthday, wedding, shower, swim party. Get them involved in the function. Grandma’s favorite salad should be made and Grandpa can help with putting up the decorations or setting up the tables. Use their skills and keep them busy. Just like the Cruise ship social director that keeps everyone busy on the 7 day cruise…you begin to get the feel for it and keep them involved in their family and community.
YES THIS ALL TAKES YOUR TIME; but the key is to keep them busy, active and thinking. It will reduce down the stress and any household that is organized is much richer. It does nothing to just arrive and try to solve an argument. The idea is to keep your parent’s interaction more positive and show them that aging with health and emotional issues is simply a bumpy ride, not the end of their life. Their life needs to be supervised and that should be your role.
You need to be organized too because for a few years, you will have three jobs. Work, your home, their home…that is a lot on your plate. Doing it with joy is very important so ask for help. If you have siblings…they get to step up to the plate. If they are out-of-town, or too busy to help…a financial help is required. Everyone has a limit; but even a monthly Safeway card with $25 or $50 makes a big difference for seniors and their food bill. Walgreen type of drug store gift cards are also perfect for the little things that all seniors in care need.
Family can help; teenagers can do the lawn work, small children can visit and just read or play in front of the grand parents to keep them happy and busy while you work around the house. Aunts can make a weekly slow-cooker dinner that will be eaten for a few meals. Friends can be scheduled to come and visit once a week.
YES…this takes your time, but it’s not impossible to do and once you get a support group going..your time investment goes down.
Communities are adding more and more services. There are free family movie nights, summer free concerts in the park, local food markets, visiting people of interest that do free lectures, heritage communities have celebrations with free events and faith groups have on going senior gatherings. From libraries to local theatres…there are things to do for seniors. It simply takes time to make the investment of knowledge.
I say it over an over again, if you do not have money…you make up for it with creativity. You talk to people you meet about your care for your parents and listen. I have found so many services from others that are involved with community services, charities and community outreach programs. It is amazing how much is available – even in small towns. I hope this information has helped you with your care.
It is a very long road caring for your parents. I want to thank you for giving them the love and care that they deserve. Care giving is a lonely gift, but taking the journey down the path of aging with your parents will be worthwhile in so many ways. I am happy to say that I have a new Alzheimer’s/Dementia guide coming out in just a couple of months…would you click on the sign up over on your right of the screen. It will put you on my email info lisitng and I will let you know so you can get even more ideas with your care giving. Thank you, and blessings on your family…francy