Scones Easy Recipe Treats for Seniors in Care

by francy Dickinson                       

Most care givers are busy, tired or very young and many do not know how to bake. Yet a Senior in Care loves the taste of homemade and that means they eat so much more when you take time to do a little baking. I try to think of things that are easy to make and seniors will be happy to eat…so give this one a try. Lots of seniors lose their taste for food as they add more and more health problems to their lives, if you can add a tasty treat instead of a boring microwave heated dinner–you will see a marked improvement. NO, you do not have to bake on a daily basis, but easy bake items once to twice a week give the senior a tickle to their taste buds. You can add a fun pick me up for your family and your senior in care…with this easy breezy recipe

For me scones are a part of my heritage. I live in Washington state and over 100 years ago our state fair began in Puyallup, Washington. A company called Fisher was trying to sell their flour and they wanted to advertise it by selling something good to eat, easy to bake at the fair and have folks talking. Scones were what they decided try and it was a winner with hundreds of thousands sold each year. All these years later we still all go to the fair craving a few of the delicious fair scones that we remember from childhood. You can buy the fancy package to make the scones at home…but the easier and quicker way to enjoy them is to use quick baking mix. You know like Bisquick…but now I use the quick baking mix from Walmart its cheaper and just as easy and yummy.I keep the mix in a large plastic bin so it stays fresh and I can use it for easy baking anytime. Even when I am using another kitchen while I am care giving…the baking mix is on the shelf ready for me when I need it.

This mix takes very little prep and very few ingredients so you will find even a person who never bakes a thing– can make this and enjoy the flavor. You will have to look around your own or the senior’s kitchen a day before to see what they have on the shelf, but it is usually easy to find stuff. Now I make them like they do at the fair, nice and fluffy, filled with butter, raspberry jam and a hit of whip cream  inside…it simply melts in your mouth. You do not want to make a big batch because it’s a “eat them while fresh” type of thing. If you have leftovers share them with other seniors in your neighborhood. I have wrapped them and left them on door knobs of neighbors to have them call back raving about the taste. It’s nice to have a thanks but it is so easy you will see that the praise gets embarrassing.

First you start by making sure the oven is empty. Unused ovens often hold pots and pans, so clear it out and set the rack in the middle and then dial the oven on button to set the temp at 400. Let that get hot as you prep your recipe and it will be just right when you’re ready to bake. You will use a regular bowl and need a cookie sheet, or something like it to bake it in. All stoves come with a baking dish with rack if you can not findanything like a cookie sheet, you might find it in the senior’s kitchen look under the stove in the drawer, it will be there. You just need a large baking dish or sheet and you can spray it with a Pam like spray —> make sure you spray it over the sink so the floor does not get slippery.

Now that you have all the support stuff ready it is time to put the recipe together. You’ll find this so easy to do. Find a bowl and open the quick baking mix and dip out 2 cups of the mix. You will add 1/4 cup of sugar to the mix and toss it with a couple shakes of nutmeg. Crack two eggs in a smaller bowl and use a fork to stir the eggs to mix them and then add them into the baking mix you have in the bigger bowl. Use your fork and mix until the mixture sticks together into a ball…it will be a little wet but dont worry.

Now, spread out a big piece of wax paper on the counter, or you can use a linen towel. Put the ball of dough in the center of the wax paper and push down on the dough so it is in a flat circle. Now start to fold over 1/2 of the circle onto the other and push down. Use the wax paper to push it down so you dont get your hands to0 sticky. Now you just repeat this action so you are building up the layers. When the scones bake they will rise and have yummy layers. Fold over 1/2 of dough onto itself and push down. Till you do this four times. Now press the dough down, push it into a circle again and then down to slightly flatten it out with the wax paper on the bottom and top until it is in a round that is about six inches across.

Cut the dough like a pizza into about 6 sections and pick them up with a spatula and place them onto the greased baking sheet. Keep them slightly apart because they will rise and expand as they bake. Put 2 tbsp of butter (covered) in the microwave for just a few seconds (10-15sec) to melt and then spread over tops of the sections. Sprinkle lightly with more sugar and sprinkle over the top with just a hint of nutmeg. Bake for about 6-10 minutes OR until light golden brown. Turn on the oven light and keep an eye on them so they dont over bake but they will be thick and they will need to get golden brown to be done all the way through. Take out of oven and place on a new piece of wax paper. Let it sit for a min and get the fillings ready to go. I love the taste of raspberry jam, but any jam, jelly or if nothing on shelf even syrup would do. Slice the scone open just enough to push in some butter that will melt on contact and then use a small spoon to slide in the jam and when that is done- stick the Reddi Whip nozzle in the opening and give it a short shot of whip cream.Oh my, now smell…it will knock your socks off so good

Serve with hot tea or coffee…it is so easy and yet so good. The smell just wafts up as they bake and the melting butter, jam and whip cream make it look so good. They’re served in small wax paper bags at the fair and everyone walks around eating them by hand. But I like them on a plate with a fork so I can enjoy every bite.

Come on how easy was that…it will smell wonderful, taste good and bring back memories of tea time with your mother when you were a child. It is so yummy that I’m leaving this computer and going to the kitchen to make a batch myself. Enjoy your home-made warm and sweet treat! Boy is George going to be surprised! francy

You will find more ideas of how to care for the seniors, your spouse and your parents in my Senior Care Workbook 101. It was written for those of us who are not nurses and still have to give care with quality to our family members. You will find it on the products page


How to Bring Grandma Into Your Home

by francy Dickinson               

Dear Francy: I have decided that Mom just can not keep living on her own and in a state of worry each day. Her health is not ready for nursing care but I know she needs to be looked after more than a drop by each day. How do I tell my husband and kids and where will I put her? I live on a thin budget and I am worried.

Now this is a problem that I can help you with because I did the same thing and I have helped so many others do the transition smoothly. Here are my ideas and tips:

Moving Elders into Your Home Tips:

  1. After discussing it with your spouse and getting their approval, you call a family meeting. You will not be asking their approval, but informing them of the situation and letting them know a new arrival means there will be changes that might not be the most enjoyable. Depending on the age of your kids, let them live in the elders shoes, explain why the change, why the elder is no longer safe in their own home that way the family has a base of understanding that this decision is how we treat and care for family. You make room for children when they are born into the family, you make room for elders when they retire into advanced family care.
  2. Make it clear to your family and to YOU that this is a change that is not going to just go away or get old. This is a commitment on your part and your elders that life will be together through thick or thin. If money gets low, or someone gets unwell in the family, or a move has to be made- the elder is now a part of your family and will be with you for good or bad family times. That is life making room for an elder is a serious decision that once made is made, not changed because of an argument. You do not throw out babies or elders because they are extra work or a pain to live with…so think this step out very carefully and inform all; that this is a commitment of heart and honor on both sides.
  3. Set up some rules of the house so every one can work within a fair basis of comfort living. Kids do not invite friends for an overnight if Grandma is using the living area for her bedroom. Things will change, but the changes do not have to be huge, just considerate on all sides.
  4. Plan your elder’s living area. They need their own room, even if your children have to share a room, that is better than an elder sharing a child’s room. If no extra bedroom is there, then take an area that can be shared like the dining room. Put the big table in the kitchen, living area, or storage. Put up a day bed that can be used as a sitting area during the day. Always give privacy from public areas, you can hang a curtain or a bamboo shade to enclose the privacy for the senior.
  5. Try to bring the senior’s favorite things with them. A good sitting chair, a side table for bed and chair, a little desk or bookcase, favorite books, family memory photos, jewelry, special mementoes and art that can be incorporated into your home. This is the time for them to distribute family things to their children and grand children, not at their death. Do not rent a storage unit. If your elder is going to move in with you and it does not work, they will be in a care facility with little space, so there is no going back to an apartment living for the elder, this is a life change, not a try out.
  6. Paint the area to match the elder if you can. If your home is high energy color reflecting an action family….lower the tones for the elder so they can relax and rest in their space.
  7. Decide on the bathroom the elder will use. You might have them use a half bath and just take a weekly bath or shower in the kid’s bath. Always make room for their personal products.  A basket with their bathroom items tucked on a shelf makes their things private. Young kids do not understand false teeth or Depends. Make sure your family respects the privacy of the elder and no teasing takes place, bathroom humor is not appreciated by a person making a big change in their life.
  8. Keep elder drugs in a place in the kitchen or laundry area. That way it is away from the kids and in a place that can be sorted and the weekly pill try can be filled as well as meds reordered correctly.
  9. Use a closet in the hall or a rack in the laundry room for elder’s clothes, plastic drawers can be purchased for clothing. Sort over elders things and take clothes that fit the lifestyle they have now, not the clothes they wore ten years ago when they were active or working.
  10. Keep the elder with their friends as much as you can. If they go to a faith center away from you, take them back to the faith center once a month to connect. If they have a favorite Senior Center or exercise group try to keep them there or let them visit and replace those activities close to your home. Elders need to know their life has just moved, not changed or gotten lost. Emotional problems often stem from elders losing their friends, spouse, home and all connections…so work on keeping them as connected to their long established lifestyle.
  11. If your elder is into gardening and you are not, let them at it, get them started redoing your front yard and enjoy that the elder is giving back to the family. If the elder loves to cook, let them do a dinner during the week or make the lunches for everyone each day. Figure out how to use their talents with your needs and make room for change on your part as well as theirs.
  12. Hearing impaired does not mean shouting or loud TV. It means getting them a headphone remote for the TV so they can hear it, or putting on the text feature to run text on the bottom of the TV screen. It means turning down music to a normal range and take time to talk facing the elder not on the run.
  13. Careful walking with elders that may trip means removing scatter rugs and use double side carpet tape on larger rugs. It means making sure there are lights to see well in the public rooms and dogs that are trained to love not jump up on people. Think safety. If your kids are older you may have left those safety thoughts behind a long time ago, now get your mind going again on what your elder needs to be safe walking around the house.
  14. If the elder wants to make alot of calls, get them a cell phone and let them  learn how to use it. Then they can call on their own phone without worry about family phone time. Get them their own TV if they need it and a radio or MP3 player with a head phone for music and talk radio listening.
  15. Do not be afraid to ask the senior for money to add to the family income. They can give you a couple hundred dollars a month for food and utilities, even if they are on a small social security income. They can pay for their own personal needs and medication products, specialty foods and clothing, too. Just be fair, do not take all their money and think they will not reflect emotionally to it.
  16. If your senior is part of your family…then you can take them off as a tax deduction. Ask your tax person how to do this before you take that action, but it can help you financially to do this. You can also get help with their house sales investment of money, or reducing their bills. Get help so you do not have to worry about funds for their care, talk to senior care consultants and let them help you with the legal part of your relationship. Remember their home sales will have to pay for their care for a long time, so be wise with the money. It is hard when you are limited on funds to care for an elder, but it can be done with advise.
  17. If the senior is unable to pay for their own medications ask the DR for help with pharmacy company programs. If you need to put the senior on state medical do so, they will pay for the medications and pay you to care for your parent if they are in need of more than just light care. Get a review, be in the know, so the money you spend on your elder is wisely spent.
  18. Make sure your senior has someone to talk to about you and your family living. A faith center person, a neighbor or other family member, that is a third party, should make a monthly visit. Get the elder to talk about their life. They may be afraid to say what upsets them, or they may be filled with upset and anger and need to vent it to make their life easier with you. Emotional health is often not understood until you live with someone, a doctor can also medicate to calm an elder, if you explain your concerns in a letter to him before your elder’s next appointment.
  19. Everyone has odd behaviors even you…so learn to live and let live, small things you have always done may need to change, that is not the end of any one’s world, it is just a change to make life easier for all parties. That is what makes living as a family work, you all have to adjust and talk and love and make changes to make sure each of you can enjoy life together. But elders find change upseting and hard and younger folks can adjust to change much easier, so that should set the tone when making family decisions.

Perfection is not the goal with a senior living with their family. But kindness on both sides is a must. Do not be afraid to have someone come in and talk to the family about problems, questions, ideas or concerns. Talking things out helps everyone. There is your way or the highway is not the way with a multi-generation family. Every one has to make way for privacy and for kindness for each other. Often the experience of grand parents living with children changes the child into a more understanding and caring adult in years to come. That means when it is your turn to need help, your own children will be more open to giving you loving care in your own older age.

Please do go to my website at for more ideas. I have a great e-book called Care Giving 101 Workbook that will help you with giving care in your own home or in the senior’s home. It has all the basic home nursing tips and gives you ideas to support yourself as well as your spouse or loved one. These books are very popular with care givers and I encourage you to buy one so you can feel more in power of your situation as the care giver. It can be very lonely out there all alone when you are giving care – I want to make the experience more comforting for you.

I write these blogs to share information that I have gathered in my many years of care giving. I am now tending to my husband with Alzheimer’s and my books and services are how I’m able to stay at home and care for him. Thanks for all you are doing for your own loved one,

blessings. francy

PS I am on Twitter @seniorcaretips and I would love to have you listen to my talk radio show on senior care issues just click the radio button on my home page. The show is on demand so you can listen whenever you have time.

Sandwiched Mom Caregiver Squeezed with Stress

by francy Dickinson    

Dear Francy; I am a single mom of twin teen boys and have my 85 yro dad here too. I work under time deadlines and my life is falling apart. I’m shaky, my voice is nasty all day, I feel sick to my stomach most days and I do not know how to escape?

Well, bad news…no escape – it’s called life in stress. Your body and emotions are trying to tell you they are on max so we need to reduce your stress. Bodies show the side effects of high stress. You will find that stress makes a boiling pot of toxins in your body and when the pot boils over the toxins begin to effect your body chemistry and that is bad. That ais when you shake and when you have an upset stomach and so much more like high blood pressure. So, number one WATER you just have to force yourself  to drown in water so the stress effects can be flushed away as much as possible. I know that adds extra duty to the bathroom, but you really have no choice if you want to come out of these few years of stress a healthy lady with your future – drink water till you drop!

Here are some tiny “kill stress” points to try to incorporate:

  1. WATER > Remember drinking will flush your system and just the act of taking a moment to drink interrupts the pressure points. So drink as much as you can. Do not count caffeine drinks in the mix they dehydrate and add garbage to the mix. You are trying to rinse out your insides and you do that with water with maybe a squeeze of lemon or a splash of fruit juice in the bottom of the glass. Buy a nice glass water container and take it where ever you work.
  2. BREATHING > you have to take time every hour on the hour to stand up and walk away from your work area or your kitchen area and just take a few deep breaths and then return and go back to it. Not a big break just little breaks that can keep you in a calmer state all day.
  3. STRETCHING >When you hit the floor in the morning, do not move– stretch like a cat. Just stretch out your body. No time for formal exercise, fine, but stretch. If you are standing in the kitchen making dinner do a back leg stretch or a side stretch- it will once again release the pressure on your muscles releasing stress.
  4. MASSAGE > if you stand all day then get yourself a foot bath with massage setting and before you hit the bed at night, fill it up and do a five to ten minute soak. If you stand or sit all day then you need a massage neck or back wrap and you would sit and turn it on for about 10-15 minutes while you are in your TV chair. You are telling your body, “I am relaxing and ready for bed now”– You will be able to release the muscle tention and get a deeper sleep.
  5. EYE SHADES > help keep your sleep dark and deep. Get in a habit of using them, you can find cute ones on Esty made by loving hands. They will keep the melatonin levels right and you will feel like you are on vacation in your own bed.
  6. MANICURE/PEDICURE > some times a treat for yourself is just the ticket to make your mind feel loved and relaxed. Stop into a local shop and get your feet done each month and add your fingers when you have extra time. It will pay you back triple the money you pay for the pampering services. Its not a day spa or Maui but it is pampering girl stuff in a all guy household.
  7. PLAN AHEAD>Make days very easy to remember. Sit down with yourself and plan. Do not live day to day. Planning can be broken and re written but it will give you a sense of being in charge, not being a victim of life. So Make Monday your laundry day and let the family know that it is and the dinner is simple tacos. Make Tuesday boys vacuum and do the garbage and your dad folds laundry, you have a slow cooker meal so it is easy. Give yourself one mid week TV nite and at least one day of family on the weekend. Figure it out by drawing it on paper. This way, you will have your shopping list in order, your household tasks in order and your biz work in order. It will release you of constant worry over where you are and what you have to get done.
  8. RULES > make rules that are real for your 3 men. Tell them one is in charge of this, the other that and your Dad this…make it tasks that are easy for them to learn or do, but will release you of some of the everyday tasks. Tell them you are feeling stressed out and worried about your own health. Being honest with young children and seniors is so important. Life is not about them, it is about all of you. So tell them you need help and they can all do that if they would just make sure their main task is done each week for the family. Then do not do that task. If the garbage build up, there is a reaction of no $ or treats for that son…if your dad refuses to load the dishwasher he can eat his least favorite food for a couple of days without dishes. Life has to have rules and you have to set them with real meaning.
  9. TO DO LIST > Each night do a fast 10 item to do list. It will organize your thoughts, it will tuck your worry away for the night. Then remember to cross of your to do list tasks. It is very important that you see that you have gotten task done. Busy people tend to feel they have never gotten anything done in a days work. That is not true, it is just that one task fades into another and you feel like the chores are never ending. Your mind needs to be rewarded, cross through your task done so you can really see your success each day. Task not done can go into the next day…who cares, it all works out in the end. The point is you are on top of things to do for the three guys and yourself and work. That list will take out the stress of what to do next deadline you live on at this time.
  10. BREAK >You have to have a break and even if it is every two weeks or once a month, you need to have a glass of wine with a girlfriend, a movie with a cousin, a dinner with someone from work. It may seem like a silly waste of time and energy, but your time to laugh, giggle, think goofy thoughts, talk creative and adult conversations and complain about your life is totally important to your good health and will erase a lot of stress.
  11. LOVING YOURSELF when you are in the middle of care giving it is hard to think…I love me. But loving is not just giving it is keeping you as strong as you can be so you can be the center of the wheel in your home and the care giving that do for your sons and dad. You need to be strong first, so eat well, drink, stretch, rest, give yourself pesonal treat time and most of all – treat yourself as you would treat another family member or friend – love YOU

You are the fibre of our life in the US. Busy people, running around caring for our children, working hard, caring for our parents and family…how great is that? So give yourself a pat on the back, you are not out there doing nothing you are at home and in the community- working hard and I appreciate what you are doing. I just want to make sure that there’s a you in there that comes out the other side in a few years, when your sons are out of college and your dad has passed —- you need to still be here strong and healthy with us. You need to know you will have the rest of your life. Take care now to life strong and long.

Please do go to my website at for more ideas. I have a great e-book called Care Giving 101 Workbook that will help you with giving care in your own home or in the senior’s home. It has all the basic home nursing tips and gives you ideas to support yourself as well as your spouse or loved one. These books are very popular with care givers and I encourage you to buy one so you can feel more in power of your situation as the care giver. It can be very lonely out there all alone when you are giving care – I want to make the experience more comforting for you.

I write these blogs to share information that I have gathered in my many years of care giving. I am now tending to my husband with Alzheimer’s and my books and services are how I’m able to stay at home and care for him. Thanks for all you are doing for your own loved one, blessings. francy

PS I am on Twitter @seniorcaretips and I would love to have you listen to my talk radio show on senior care issues just click the radio button on my home page. The show is on demand so you can listen whenever you have time.

Keep Seniors Thinking and Talking!

By francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; My uncle is really getting boring and out of it. I go and visit and he just sits there, no nothing out of his mouth. I know he wants me to visit, but I just cannot have a conversation with him. Do you have some thoughts on this sort of thing?

Yes, you have to keep him talking. If you sat in a room all alone, you would find it hard to come up with conversational topics so it’s up to you to bring them to him. When you visit think, what can we do or talk about this time and then go visit. Being prepared makes the visit so much more fun for you and for him.

Ideas to Keep Seniors Thinking & Talking:

  • There are so many sites on “what happened this day in history” type of information. It makes it very fun to use as a tool. You go to the sites and they can range from local, state, US or worldwide and they quote things that happened years ago in history. This sort of thing often has pictures too. You choose one that you think your senior will be pulled toward and print it out. This will bring out the conversation from the get go.
  • Even seniors with dementia often have very solid memories of their past history. If you bring up a question that happened in their lifetime they will respond. This is especially fun for young people doing history projects. Adding in the family memories is worth extra marks and will give them the family memory to carry forward in their own life. Like; “Grandpa, where were you when Pearl Harbor hit the radio news?” They will always have a great answer. My mother was going to the bathroom! She could hear the report on the radio and she was literally sitting on the toilet. Not fancy, but a very real experience. She immediately called Dad at work and he came home to be with her. It was a very traumatic event for everyone that was living at the time. Her memories of that moment stayed with her all her life.
  • How about questions about family? A big family box of old pictures could be a real send off for many older folks. They can go through the pictures and you can write down the names. This way, the box is not filled with strangers with no meaning. It comes alive with family names and memories.
  • Magazines that are on special topics. If the senior was a retired nurse, you might find a mag that has the latest medical updates for her to look through. Maybe not exciting to you, but a fun read for her. If your uncle always loved baseball, there are loads of baseball books and mags that could set off his memories and start the conversation.
  • Local event and construction updates. This may seem silly to you, but those people that have lived in a town all their life and now are stuck at home or in a care facility love knowing about the changes. You can talk or take a quick cell phone pic of a local project being built. This is something my mother loved to hear. We had a wonderful second Narrows Bridge being built, toward the end of her life. We would drive her by to watch it as we took her to doctor visits and then later we took pictures to show her when she was in her bed full time.
  • I took down our Christmas cards and the list- sat next to her. I wrote a name on the card and I would ask mother what she wanted to say to them. She enjoyed sending them a quick message or memory about their parents in years gone by. It was really a fun time for both of us. I got my cards done, she got connection with family. I took a picture of her holding the card and smiling and I printed a bunch of small photos to tuck into the card. Everyone wrote back. If you only do emails…then do a pic of your senior and ask them about a favorite holiday memory and put them both onto your holiday email out to the family and friends.
  • I kept a calendar and each week we would go over what was happening. Did she have a family birthday that needed a card? I got a load of cards at the Dollar store and kept them in a folder for her. I would pull one out and we would address it. If it was a young grandchild she would tuck in a dollar. It made her feel in the know and happy. Being involved…it makes life so much richer.
  • Upcoming family dinner or holiday dinner? I would ask her what she always made for the event, or what her favorite dish was and then I would make it for her. She loved that. She felt like she made it and if she could not attend the event, I took a snapshot of the dish so she could see how well it was received.
  • The House needs a repair? Talking over the problem and taking a cell pic of it and then reviewing it with a guy that has spent his life doing home repairs is a great thing to do. I remember we had a problem with a broken outside hose pipe. I went and talked about it to my uncle who did loads of plumbing and he came up with a quick and easy fix. He was happy to help, I was thrilled!
  • Find a great video online that you could share. Take your lap top and let your senior see the different things it can do. You can visit an old home on Google earth and see it from street view. You can play a YouTube video from the old Johnny Carson – Tonight Show days, you can click on a NFL game from 1962 and watch the past. It’s all there for you to share.
  • Take over a new gadget to get working. Show the senior your new cell phone, video camera, or iPod and let them know what it does and why you use it. They will enjoy the new toy and you will get the manual read!

Ideas never end, each family, each senior comes with their own set of interests and regional special events and news. I know you will have a better time with your visiting if you just give it a pre-visit think over. But I want to thank you for visiting. Your Uncle has very few visitors and you mean a lot to him. Even if he does not express it (or if he hardly remembers your name) it’s the “in the now” experience that you gift to him. Thank you for that.

Please do go and enjoy my website information at and look under Products for my workbook called Care Giving 101 Workbook, it has so many tips to help you with giving care to your senior. While you’re on my web site – click in and listen to my on-demand radio shows, I love doing them! Thanks, francy

Senior Refuses to Eat Real Food – Getting Weak

by francy Dickinson              

Dear Francy; My dad is just not eating. He will make an occasional piece of toast and he will eat if I am in front of him and the meal is fresh. He refuses frozen food, left overs, and canned food and I am watching him get thin and weak in the body and emotionally. What can I do?

There are lots of things to review and many of them will take professionals to help you. Doctor, counselor, additional help with in-home care…let’s see what we have for you:

  • Questions: Is he depressed and missing his wife and just not eating because of those memories? If you know this, a primary care physician can help with meds to bring his emotional level up and help him handle the grieving. If you do not know, then a trip to a family counselor to have him talk over his problems about his grief and his eating might be even more helpful – before he sees his doctor.
  • Does he just have nothing in his life and his days are melding into weeks and months? That can really effect a person that has always had someone to keep him company and keep him busy. If so then you can take steps and get him into a senior center once a week. Have him volunteer once a week to use his talents. If he tinkers- then a Boys & Girls club with all the equipment and repairs that are needed all the time is good. Just use your creative thoughts on this and find a place that can fill his needs. Even if he does not like it, make him do it. If he will not go out to others have him come in to you. A day or two at your place on the weekend when he is surrounded by family and have him working on your yard, porch, paint, or fix the leaks in the faucets. You can think of things to do for him, he needs to be busy in his mind and helping you at the same time is “a feel good for him”. If he can not do it alone, you will just have to give him a gentle, but consistent push.
  • Make sure your dad is included in a monthly family outing. That’s a trip to a movie, a museum, a community event like a street fair, a car trip to a larger city, or family birthday celebration. These are the things that give a life structure- when there’s an event on the calendar other than a doctor’s appointment!
  • He likes your food, how about finding someone in the neighborhood that is older and will share dinners with him. You can pay them $20-$50 a week for food and they can send over a dinner to him each night. Perfect for a retired lady in the neighborhood, gives her food to cook and an extra income. Plus, he gets a visit, or a walk each evening. If nothing in the neighborhood, ask around to friends – you will find so many single ladies all alone that would love to be busy. This is not looking for love for your dad…we are talking good food here. He helps her she helps him, healthy business.
  • Can he afford an assisted living?  This is where he has a place that is an apartment type of residence and they go out to the main hall for dining three times a day. They have other people there for companionship and many different events to keep them all busy. If he misses people and is retreating, this might be his answer. He could sell the house and leave those memories in place and then move into a new life. I know it means money, but that is why he has invested in a home all of these years, to give him security and care now that he is older.
  • Could he afford an in-home care person? You just call a care service and ask them for an assessment and they will tell you what is needed and then you tell them what your budget is and together you come up with a care plan. A care giver will be in his home each day for a few hours that can make the meals and keep him up to date on meds and his exercise. You come and visit on the weekend or in between what you can afford to pay for care givers. You work less, your dad gets more care…it’s a nice fit. Plus, everyone is nicer to an outside of the family care giver. It is just the way of life. So, if he does not eat for you, he will eat for the care giver.
  • Can you make a deal with a family member to come over once or twice a week and then you come over the same and he is covered most days? I know this is hard, but you know, your sibling, his sister, or a niece might do it, or a close family friend and they will just come and give him a couple of hours. Now, they will not be cleaning or doing chores, they will visit and do his food. But if money is really low, you need help, you need to ask the family to give time. Most of the family can commit to a day of a couple of hours. Do the math, two family members and you makes a good care plan.
  • Can he come and spend weekends with you? Even if you both do not want to live together, you might find that the weekends of living together will give him good food, interaction and raise up his emotional level to help him through the week. You send home meals for the rest of the week. Buy good plastic covered dinner containers and as you cook just make one more portion, that way he has food that is not frozen and tastes like family cooked it!
  • This all sounds great but your dad is a stubborn and does not respond to anything? Well, here is the truth, life is never perfect and he has to know that is the case. So if he feels this way and will not respond, then you get together with your husband or other siblings and go and sit down and have a talk with him. Circle around him and tell him, this is the way life is going to be. You can not sit here and do harm to yourself. You are not dying you are well and you are doing very bad job of taking care of yourself. We as a family are going to have to make some decisions on your care. If you want to help us, then here are three choices you can make, otherwise, we will have to make the decisions for you. If you need to have a third party with you then you  hire a Senior Care Consultant, that is what I do. I help them with family meetings and get the ball rolling. There is no anger or childish behavior during the meeting, this is all for your dad. You decide.

I hope that you have already gotten his power of attorney for health reasons. If you do, then the decisions that you need to make for your dad are all in your hands. If not, get that done. I have the information in earlier blogs and in my Senior Care 101 Workbook –  

I always try to put my mind into the senior that I am caring for at the time. Have they suffered a loss of a wife, child, job, health, strength, or are in dementia? Those things make their lives so much more complicated. Try to remember that when you are treating the body, that the mind and heart are all in the mix together. So proper medication, clean surroundings, good companionship, a few laughs, busy days, events on their calendar, and good food all go together to make a senior have a life that feels worth living.

You have been so good to your dad, like my mother, he does not even see you standing there. I know it’s frustrating when you’re trying to help him and he does not respond, but you just have to force yourself not to take it personally, he does love you. As a matter of fact; he is probably mad at the fact that you have to bother over him. My mother told the care givers that she just wanted to go and let me live my life – That made me feel so sad that she was that upset about having to “need care”. There is no way out as we go into advanced age and need help, we need help. And there you are – standing next to your dad giving him love, that is a very good thing.

I know you can be creative with all of this – you have already done so much for your dad. Keep it up- the times you spend with him right now, in the middle of all this care giving, will enrich the rest of your life. Thank you, francy

Gardening Over for Senior in Care

by francy Dickinson             

Dear Francy; My sister is a life long gardener who has severe arthritis and is now unable to dig in her yard. She is heart sick, she looks outside on a daily basis to complain about what should be done. How can I help her adjust?

Gardens are such private things to folks. Some are barely kept, some are loved to lengths that are hard for most of us to understand. My sister was just such a gardener, she passed in her mid-50’s, leaving my mother, living above her, to look out in the garden and lament about it’s disarray. Mom was in her late 80’s and simply could not keep up with the complex gardening that was needed to keep everything in order. So, I have witnessed this sad event and a garden “going to sleep”  that was how my mother described it. It was like losing my sister all over again because that yard had been transformed by her spirit and hands.

First, making an “easy care garden” in close to the house – maybe a quick step to get your sister back to the earth. I’m sure you have seen the small raised beds. You take a bit of land and build a raised bed that is maybe 4ft square and have a seating bench all around it. So she could sit and reach out to plant and tend a small amount of area at a time. She could scoot around the bench or take a daily spot to dig. Remember the many special garden tools designed for challenges can be of great help to hands that no longer are pliable. Small veggies and bloomers could at least make her feel that she was still connected. The raised bed could be close to the house and really block the view of the rest of the garden that will be “going to sleep” with no care. So it would settle her mind on what is in the now, not what is being lost.

Too much? Add some containers and have her pot them up and just do a daily watering. Once again bringing color closer to her reach than watching the large garden.

Too much? Have her plan a way to break the garden down to a minimal area that can be kept with a garden service or someone in her family. That would mean taking out plants and clearing it down to just the larger perennials and spreading thick mulch to keep down the weeds. Think of this as clearing out a house when a senior has gone to a care facility. Have someone come and dig up plants and have your sister “gift” them with little tags telling about their history to friends & family. You could even put up a sign in the front of the house and say, “garden plants FREE for the digging” and have others that love to garden come and dig them up. She would know they had gone to a good home and be calmer about the change. Then her view would be just a landscape that was easy to tame and care for by others.

If gardening has been her life…she may have to make a move at this time, to a place that would benefit her health challenges and leave it behind. Some times – you can not hide the hurt and the constant reminder of something dying or changing in your life. Everyone is different. Some widows/widowers find that staying in their long time home that they shared with their passed spouse is more comforting. Some find that the memories are just to strong and they have to start a new. If that is the case with your sister, remember, moving to a new spot in life is easier the younger you are at the time of the move.

Retirement apartments and communities always have small spots to garden on a limited basis. A small balcony or patio can hold lots of potted containers and keep anyone busy watering. It may seem silly to think of a younger person “retiring” to a community but health challenges are only going to increase, best to get the big move done and sit back and enjoy life. Using all of who you are for the new beginning of your life. Doing different things than you did before. She might find that friends around her for card games and shared outings will soon replace her many hours of gardening to her own drummer. Better than sitting in front of the TV all alone and adding depression to the constant pain of arthritis.

Making changes is never easy. That is not the point, nor is the idea of not affording  it or where to go. Those things can be ironed out. Learning to “think” – I am going to be living for many years and I have to figure out the best place for me to do so, with my obvious challenges. That is the hardest part to tackle. Once the brain changes gears to thinking a new life pattern, that pattern falls into place. Its just getting your mind around change that is always the hardest part.

Even the strongest personalities resist change. Even the greatest dare-devils of their age, feel fear to the unknown future. Your job is to try to think of creative ways to present things to your sister, in a loving manner, that she can think over and choose to take action on – or leave on the table.

Getting older is never easy, but being a gardener does not go away. There are wonderful conservatories, public and private gardens and garden shows to attend. Wheelchairs and scooters are always welcomed at those places and keeping her involved in what she loves, but in a different form, is just as lovely.

If she is able to speak well, you will find that the Internet has “voice blog” sites that are free. What that means is that she could do a twice weekly mini- talk show on the net. She could talk about the time of year and ideas of how to tend to the listeners’ gardens. She would be handing down a lifetime of experience instead of mourning it’s lost. Creative ideas keep us going – that’s your only duty – to keep the ideas coming and let her choose something that fits her love and her abilities.

Blessings on you for caring for your sister, please visit my website www.seniorcarewithsprit.comand get more tips for senior caregiving.

Thanks, francy

Boomers Running Out of Care Giving Money

Dear Francy; How can I keep caring for my mother when my budget is not covering my family costs, let alone what I need to care for her?

You need help. If you have a parent or other family member that needs care and does not have the funds for the care…you will have to reach out to your community for services. It could be as easy as adding food stamps or as complicated as going on state assistance.

I was faced with those issues when I had my mother come and live with me. We had our house payment, and budget on our income and then she had her special medical needs, food needs and medications all resting on her small social security check…we needed help. So, I asked for it. I found a gal at the nursing home that my mother had gone to for recovery after the hospital and she pointed me in the direction of the state assistance in my area. I was very nervous about applying for help. I felt embarrassed, but you have to work through that because life has to be addressed and you’re the only one that will make that forward motion happen. So just force yourself to make that call.

First they send out a case worker that just puts the information together and decides if the senior qualifies for care. I had to have mother’s Power of Attorney to do the work for her. So we got a very inexpensive software program with family law and did a Power of Attorney agreement that printed right off my own printer. We went to a bank to have the notary stamp done. Then it was off to the bank to collect anything that would be of help from her lock box. I got all of that and proceeded to fill out the paperwork.

Yes, there was a lot of paperwork but you know it was not as bad as you think. I just went through it step by step. They needed proof of income and that was a couple of month’s bank statement. They needed to know her doctors listing and her medication listing. They wanted to know if she owned anything and my mother did not own property. But, even if they do own property they can still get assistance so do not worry about that. Fill out the paperwork and follow their advice.

Once the paperwork was done, they toured my home and made sure she had a comfortable area to live and that it had a way to escape in case of fire and a bathroom and such things. It has to be clean and easy for her to use. I had taken two bedrooms and made one for her sleeping and one for her sitting room. I had filled them with her personal furniture and things and then she had the bathroom all to herself. There was a door to the outside right by her room and a good alarm for fire.

They looked over my kitchen and made sure that I could keep it clean. They interviewed both myself and my husband to make sure we did not have problems with drugs or drinking and that our lifestyle would provide room for mother’s care. That done.

Now, they went down to Mother and gave her an interview. They sat there with a laptop and asked her all sorts of questions. Was she happy here, was she in need of any thing. What was wrong with her health, how well did she walk and they would watch her as she answered the questions. They rated her on a curve over each question. Did she respond, could she understand, could she hear, could she eat, could she bath herself, could she dress herself. All of these questions were to determine what kind of care she needed. They would asses that and put hours of service on it so they knew how to give her care.

Next came me and they interviewed me. Did I want to care for her? If yes, was I willing to take some basic nursing classes to get certified by the state to give her care. I said; Yes.

The first case worker left and a week later we received the second case worker this one was to welcome us to the program and teach us how to use it. They got her on a medicaid card for medications and showed us how to order them. They got her on a special doctor listing and how to use her medicare along with the medicaid. They helped us over one hump after another. It was worrisom, yes, it was a lot of work, yes. But, it was so worth it. A nurse and physical therapist came to evaluate her and they were both helpful and understanding.

Mother’s care case worker came over to evauatie us and introduce herself. She came over about once a month and I could call her any time. So, when I had a problem, I called her. Example: mother was found to be low on her protein intake. She was having problems with her teeth and they would have to come out and she was going to get false teeth. Until that process came to an end, mother was unable to eat well. I had tried to fed her things with high protein but it was not enough. I tried to give her protein drinks but they were not enough. So, I called her case worker and she got a special protein drink for her and it was then delivered once a month and I did not have to pay the out of pocket for that product. Those were the things that made the difference between mother living with us or not.

It is the little expenses that add up and if you can not find help with the state…then talk to your extened family. You may find each person could help you with one or two small items each month that will relieve the strain of the expense.

If you have to go out and work and leave your senior at home. Make arrangements with other family members and neighbors in case of emergancy. Have a calling system in place and have the home all ready for emergancies. Leave food and water in a safe place. Make sure the commode is handy if they have problems with walking to the bathroom. Just think it out and you will be surprised how much you can do to ready the day for care. If she is on state assistance they can provide the check-in care for her and that really makes things easier for you.

If you have to have someone come and check on her once during your work day. Ask a young neighbor who is at home with her children. She will enjoy trading time with you for baby sitting on the weekends or the evenings. Or she will be thrilled with a home cooked meal each week that you can deliver in exchange for her services.

Be open to ideas and ways to share with others. Maybe a senior neighbor would come over for a check-in each afternoon. You could exchange rides to the store and food for dinners or special supplies that they might not be able to afford. There are always ways to get it all done.

Have a sit down with your family and explain your concerns and worries. Let them be a part of your time and money challenge. Do not keep it to yourself…ask others to help you. Keeping quiet will do one thing. It will make you “sick”. Many caregivers get sick over the many stresses that family and care giving parents – bring into their lives. So do not allow that to happen to you. Talk about it to your family, friends, church, boss, etc. Let people know you are doing your best and you are open to suggestions and any support or support services they may know about. 

There are people right in your area that are senior service trained…reach out and ask them for help! Remember you are loved and appreciated. I know that often times those words get lost among the chaos, but they’re true.

Thank you for all you do and please come and visit my website for more information and support.

Best wishes, francy Dickinson