Valentines for Seniors or Mid-Winter Smiles

by francy Dickinson                      Note my web site is updating will announce when all in place again 🙂

Dear Francy: Can I tell you how unhappy my uncle is right now? He’s in care center- bored, nothing going on. The Superbowl was fun for him but now…what? I brought him a magazine but he just put it on his side table- not interested. I want him to live with happiness in his life. How can I help him with that?

How kind you are to even care and go and visit. It just takes a half hour to visit and costs nothing to sit and chat, you are adding so much quality to his routine. It may seem like you’re doing very little, but it’s a huge thing to have a friendly face visit you during the day in a care center.

Valentine is a perfect time for all seniors men or women. Arrive with an arm full of valentine stuff from the dollar store. Put up the hearts around the door and have a big bowl of candy so the staff and visitors get a treat each time they come in the room. It will keep everyone perky and talking about happy things.

I first gave a battery operated Valentine Dancing Monkey to my Uncle many years ago. It played a funny Elvis tune and moved all around when you pressed the button. He listened to it and laughed and tucked it into his walker and took it with him to the dinning room. He showed it off and other seniors laughed and moved around to the music.

A few years later, when I had momma at my home, I found a delightful one with boy and girl bears dancing together to music. Mom would have everyone that entered the door push the button and she would laugh. It just brings down the stress and adds a little silly moment to a life that is lonely. I suggest this action to all who have elders in care, or at home with limited mobility…its just for fun. It may seem like its childish, but some times childish is just whats needed.

To laugh at silly things is important. To talk about love is the perfect timing around Valentines. Talk about family members that have passed and let the senior express their feelings. Ask them when they first met their spouse, if the spouse has passed this lets old memories flood forth and you enjoy the family history with them.

I love the way elders talk about the past. They do not try to hide any of the off color stories or the bad choices, they talk about them and laugh. Aunts and Uncles you always thought lived perfect lives,  suddenly sound like everyday people.  The stories become funny and the memories are alive and happy.

Most elders, even those with dementia problems, will remember things from their early days. You will enjoy the talks about being shy and finally asking someone to dance and then winding up marrying that young girl. Or my mother’s story of daddy paying a neighbor boy to keep him informed if mom had a date with another boy. Daddy would mysteriously appear on the door step as she returned home from her date.  Preventing  mother’s possible good nite kiss with a rivil suiter.  Mom did not learn of the plot till many years later.

Talking about fun things, sad things…they help the senior adjust to life and tuck in memories of their past. It’s very good for them and great interest for you. All started over a simple heart decoration and a piece of candy.

Don’t forget if your senior was always an animal person, bring your dog to visit with a big red bow and some valentines hanging off of their collar. Just give the dog a bath and take it for a good walk around the block so it can go potty and get its energy out. Then visit the senior for 15 minutes. Always inform the office or care giver before you arrive with the dog, but I have rarely had a NO in all the years of bringing in my Bichon for elders to hug. The dog adores the visit and the attention and the senior and their friends are thrilled to just pet a sweet dog.

If children are too young or too restless to bring for a visit, then do a video and place it on your laptop and show it while you’re there. You can have the kids making a valentine around the table at home and then give the senior the valentine so they feel a part of  the activity.

If you want to flip for something fun, there are great pajamas with hearts and inexpensive jewelry with hearts to adorn your senior lady’s neck. You can imagine the surprise of jewelry (even just for fun) for a lady that is unable to get out and about. Not to mention the laugh that an elder man will have with heart shaped sleeping bottoms. Its just for fun.

If you become the energy with the spirit of Valentine – the senior feels that spirit and reacts well with your surprise visit. It’s just one more way to share happiness and love with those that have given so much to all the rest of us through the years. Here’s an easy recipe to make candy truffles to take to the care center or senior’s home. give this a try it is not hard to do, I am doing it with my young niece this coming weekend.

Anyone can make these (even the guys) they are easy and super yummy…makes a nice gift and treat!


  • 1 (8 ounce) package Cream Cheese
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp coffee (fresh from the coffee maker)
  • 12 (1 ounce) squares Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted
  • 1  teaspoons vanilla
  • Suggested coatings, unsweetened cocoa, powdered sugar and/or Coconut I always use cocoa for the coatings it makes it so yummy (looks just like a truffle from the ground)


  1. Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add sugar, mixing until well blended.
  2. Add melted chocolate, coffee and vanilla; mix well. Refrigerate 1 hour or until chilled.
  3. Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll in cocoa, powdered sugar or coconut. Store in refrigerator.
  4. I always buy a storage box at the $store, for Valentine they would have a plastic red heart box that is perfect storage for these little gems. They are rich and good and you can give just a few and spread them around to friends, family and your special senior in care! YUMMY

Talk again soon, I am working on my website this week and will have it going again and looking fresher and filled with fun stuff…please do follow me on twitter @seniorcaretips – francy


One Dish Thanksgiving Dinners for Seniors

by francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; Hard to get Mom and Dad to join us now they are both more comfortable at home. They both have limited eating, dont chew well and don’t do sugar well. So the full turkey dinner doesnt work any more, but I want them to enjoy the day and a special dinner. Last year my leftovers were left in the refrigerator for days and it was just a waste of my time to have gone over with them in the first place…suggestions?

Yes…here you are this works great for me. These ideas come from your kitchen after you have cooked your dinner, you use your own left overs and then take the dishes to the elder/senior family member’s home to reheat. It tastes great and I have done it many times and the senior is left with a good dinner and no mess or fuss.

  1. One Dish Thanksgiving Dinner for Elder As you are picking up your holiday dinner grease a glass square baking dish and put some stuffing in it, then add in some cranberries, a small dollop of mashed potatoes, a big scoop of green bean casserole,  some cut up turkey both white and dark, and stir in some of your gravy. Stir and spread out. Now top it with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. This is their dinner, its a casserole with all the goodies in it already. It can be heated in the oven or microwave and give them a great dinner….add in a separate container of gravy to put on top of it and U have an easy pick up and two nites of yum.
  2. Toasted Turkey Sandwich & More: Slice left over turkey and put into zip lock and make a good loaf of bread in your bread maker or buy a nice loaf at the bakery. This bread is like an oatmeal type that is dark and crusty. Slice bread and put mayo on each side. Break up the turkey with your fingers so it is easy to chew and cover one side of the bread with turkey…on the other side of the bread put a tbsp of gravy and spread over the bread like U did the mayo. Keep it open face and put into broiler or toaster oven and heat through…I like to toast it so both sides of bread are heated and toasted. Remove and before you close it up to serve spread some cranberry sauce (the jelly type) thinly over the hot turkey. Cut and serve this marvelous hot turkey sandwich
  3. Pasta Dish for Picky Eaters: Take over some gravy and turkey left overs, small amount of green bean casserole and stuffing. Prep a small amount of pasta in boiling water. In another pan stir fry the cut up turkey and small amount of green bean casserole and a couple of tbsp of stuffing. When it’s heated, add in some gravy like you would any sauce. Drain the pasta and put the stir fry and sauce over the top and you have a nice pasta dish with the great taste of Thanksgiving that is easy to eat and nice as left overs.
  4.   No Crust Pumpkin Pie: This is nothing fancy…it is the pumpkin can recipe that makes such a nice pumpkin pie – dont forget using Splenda instead of sugar is just as good and you can not taste the difference. The different twist is that you do not use a crust. You butter the pie plate and then put in 1/4 cup of corn meal…over the sink you roll the pie plate till it is dusted with the corn meal and shake out the rest in sink. Then you pour in your regular filling and cook it as you would any pumpkin pie. This is all you need, it is easier to eat, faster to make and can be cut and served warm or cold…with whip cream…Total yum here so know I have made this for years and it works every time…I am just a Libby pumpkin pie girl and proud of it.

I take over the dinner ingred and make it right there. I start with the pie and it is cooking as I do the dinner. Buy the time they are done eating the meal the pie is hot out of oven and I cut a tiny piece and top with whip cream…they get to have a little smell of Thanksgiving in their house too. If they have no kitchen then you take it over all pre-done and ready to hit in microwave or stove top. Seniors do not have smell or taste as they get older so a little more salt is a must so they can taste the food. Obviously you can do this the day after the holiday or in the evening of the holiday. I have found my sisters and I like to take a break and make the trip to moms to visit and enjoy some time with her. Plus, it gave us another excuse for a second piece of pie!

Happy Holidays….francy

It’s Not a Food Bargain if it Moves!

by francy Dickinson                      

Dear francy; Dad and I got back from the $ store with lots of bargains. I fixed his dried soup for lunch and before I got it in front of him, I noticed it was moving! Yuck!

Yes, that is a nasty thought and here we are all so proud of our ideas to save money for our seniors. So, I have a few tips on how to save and still be safe for seniors and care givers, too!

  1. Get a small magnifier. I have one that I wear around my neck when I shop. Those food packages have very small print and you need to see what you are buying. Check for out of date and out of country labels.
  2. I do not buy dollar toothpaste if it comes from China. It has been reviewed very badly in the news. The toothpaste has normal well known labeling, but has ingrediants that might be strange. So, keep eyes and ears open for those “shopping bewares” in the news.
  3. $ store is such a great place to shop, but you need to remember that a $ for a can of fruit is not a deal. You can find it cheaper on sale at the grocery store. So, know your prices. A $ for a sealed bag of cookies, is a good deal. A $ for spices that can be $5+ is a good deal. Really shop and learn the different $ stores in your area. I love them, but I read, read, read when I shop. I just got a bag of coffee filters that saved me $4 – too fun!
  4. Shopping can really tire anyone out. So I have a once a month $ store run, not every week. I get my greeting cards there and put them away for the month’s birthdays. I buy a few food items that I have checked out and make my regular. I buy personal items like soap and deodorant. I get small gifts for grand kids and party items if I need them. Then I am out of there for the rest of the month.
  5. I love using box stores. But once again, I get tired- walking with my bad back- so I go to them on a limited basis. Our Wal Mart does not have a grocery store, but it has a few basic food items that I love to buy and save big. Like cereal, eggs, milk and some canned items on special. I get my Rx list there with the low generic prices and then I always buy my paper products and house cleaning items. Once a month means I need to shop with a list.
  6. A list, if you do not list your needs, you are much smarter than I am. I can not keep my personal needs and the needs of my senior in my mind. I make a list at home. I have a big $ next to items to buy at the $ store, a W for my box store items, a star next to coupon items and then I write down my needs for the month.
  7. I have a basic 14 day plan for meals for my family and my senior’s family. If I work in two places, I need to be organized and it saves me money. At least 2 times a week my own dinners are used as the senior’s dinner. I just make a good quanity of soup, stews, slow cooker meals, etc and then share them with my senior. That cuts their budget and the saving on the double cooking  time makes me happy.
  8. Coupons are a great way to save. Some folks love them – some don’t. Even if you do not dedicate yourself  to coupons, be sure you look at the store flier before you shop. They post them on the wall of the store. It will point out items you will want to buy on sale.
  9. I have long made coupons a senior project. I get the newspapers and fliers in the mail and my seniors do the viewing and cutting out and then we file them together and talk about the meal planning. Some times you get a double saving and lots of times you can buy foods that you rarely buy because it is on such a good bargain. Look for new food items, they often give those away to get you to try them. Online coupon sites can really help you learn more about coupon use.
  10. I always take my senior to a coffee shop or lunch when we do the food shopping. It means we get time together, they are out of the house and we both rest after the walk around those huge grocery stores. I have a couple chain restaurants that I get online coupons from to help us in our lunch budget. Shari’s is a favorite for us, they have a special Honor Card that gives you a free meal after you gather enough points. They also have online coupons for free pie, or 2 for 1 lunch and dinners. Makes eating out more fun when you save!
  11. Ask and look for senior discounts, just know it only makes sense to offer all of us a savings. Seniors have a good income to spend, even if we are on budgets we are a big part of sales income for the business world. We are loyal buyers and they know that, so they offer us coupons or senior specials to keep our loyality. That will help us save at least $10-$30 dollars a month. Hardware stores, lower gas rates and free coffee with your meals – all of those are just for the asking if they have a “senior discount”
  12. Senior Center meals. Each area has a senior center and often they offer free or discount meals. When you arrive they often have something free to hand out to you. From bread products to coffee samples, it makes it fun to have a free treat basket, so check it out in your area.
  13. Bakery outlets, do you have one close to you? Or maybe a canned goods store. Some of the larger areas have outlets to sell their items that have been cleared from the grocery store shelves or are what is called “end items” These are great places for deals, but not for the senior to visit without a friend to be with them. They are often hard to move around the store and they can really confuse and tire you. So, this is a once a month or every few months trip. The savings is not worth it if you have to rest for two days after your shopping.
  14. Odd places have surprise savings. Our small local hardware store has flowers and garden items for a great price. So, I always do a planted pot for my seniors. It is not a big garden, but a welcome note at their door step or off their patio door.
  15. Local fruit markets. If you are able to wander around your local farmers market is a great outdoor escape in the summer. They have fresh from garden produce and good prices, plus they support local growers. Good stuff to go there and think of it as a trip out, not just shopping.
  16. Nothing is a bargain if you over buy. Large containers of food, or dozens of something is great for a big, growing family…not a senior on a buget. Buy what you need for a couple of weeks, not for a year.
  17. Rule: before you go shopping clean out your cupboards and refrigerator. Get rid of that old and unused food. Does your senior still bake? No? Clear out the baking goods that are old. Does your senior eat ice cream not that they are on a low sugar diet? Throw away those old frozen items- If your senior is not good with left overs, throw them out. Food that is not eaten on time is dangerous. You have to have a void to fill it- so clean and clear before you shop.

Well I hope some of these ideas help on your trip to getting more on your already smaller budget. Buy wise, make lists, remember senior discounts and coupons, buy what you really eat and use. Happy Shopping!

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.

Dear Francy Recipes – Easy Biscuits “Step by Step” to Temp Senior’s Taste Buds

This is what I know; older people were raised & lived with homemade food and the taste of that food. Buying biscuits or refrigerated biscuit dough in the store – does not give them the flavor that they have always enjoyed.

So, in this day and age when we all cook fast and easy for our families; we have to remember that the senior’s taste buds do not relate to that cooking. How can you make a decent meal for a senior and still have a fast and easy meal? You just add in a few things here and there that will make their taste buds happy. Good old fashioned biscuits are sure winner. Cheap, easy and so yummy. Now most cooks do not bake much anymore, but I’ve tried to bring you an easy recipe that anyone can make. If you are a wiz-bang baker, you just whip out “from scratch”. But let’s be real, this may be your first time at baking and I still say…you can do it!

I love Bisquick (get a coupon & more fast recipes on the Betty Crocker website) It’s a terrific product and very inexpensive to have on the shelf. It has already combined the flour with the baking soda and such to make the use of it easy and fast. You do not have to buy all those ingredients and have them sitting around going bad. You just use your Bisquick (or any other Quick Baking Mix) So, give this a try… just a try. Your first time round may be a little flat, but the second time will be a winner. Your senior, you and your family will be very pleased that you gave it a try. This is just a few minutes of your time and you will see how yummy it is when the biscuits are hot and served with sweet jams or homemade gravy….wow – I think I’m going to make some tonight for us!

Bisquick Biscuits

(Easy even for non-bakers this is a simple step by step recipe, just give it a try. Do this once a week and you will be a baker and your senior will be full and happy!)
2 1/4 cups Original Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
dough onto very clean & dry counter surface that is generously sprinkled with Bisquick. Knead about 10 times (Knead means you fold the dough ball over on top of itself and then push it down and out and repeat – so it has layers that rise when it bakes) Then use a rolling pin (or soup can without its label) to roll the dough to about 1/2-inch thick & 10-inch wide circle on the counter top. Cut the dough into small (2 1/2 inch) circles with a circle cutter or use a tuna can (opened on each end
and cleaned) for the cutter. Place the round dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Turn on the oven light and watch them – you do not want them to over bake, they will rise up and get a yummy light brown on top.
Take them out of the oven and off the cookie sheet and open them up right away and put a pat of margarine or butter inside of them to melt. Serve two to your senior with a little dish of apple butter, or jam on the side with a spoon so they can have them hot, rich and sweet! Great topped with gravy too…and for a morning treat serve them with sausage gravy – or on their own next to an egg.

Stir ingredients until soft dough forms. Turn


.>>> You see it does not take a lot to have a senior feel like they are back home again. This reminder of old times, good food – can change a never want to eat senior, into a “Can we have biscuits again, tonight?” senior. Please go to my website and read about other ways to give good practical care to your senior

Thanks for all you do and don’t forget…even guys can bake and girls that wear high heels can do anything! Francy

→PS: Seniors taste buds dull down and they need more flavor. Use a spicy blend of seasoning on top of the cooked food – like Mrs Dash