Living Long, Easy – Living Well, Takes Work

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

Uncle Bill & Mom 100+ Yrs of Living

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

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

I thank you for all you are doing..francy   Francy with Missy  Come and enjoy more info at www.SeniorCareWithSpirit.com  

  PS: 

 DONATE: I spend time-sharing with hundreds of families all over the US so they can cope with caring for their senior. I’m at home with my husband, George, on a full-time basis and I always appreciate a donation for my time-sharing with you on this site. I thank you for your kindness…and ask that you share my site information with those that you know that are caring for seniors — francy 
 
 Join my Newsletter Listing: I just got the November issue finished…I send out a newsletter and talk about the behind the scenes of daily care giving with George and clients. You’ll also hear about Missy and my crazy, busy life with joy – in the middle of chaos. It’s a more personal look at Alzheimer’s. When you click and go to my home page it will take you through the sign up with your name, city and email and I will send you a small thank you gift Free…for your time. I will hold all your information private. You will receive a monthly newsletter and can remove your name any time from my listing. And once again I would appreciate you spreading the news about my work, there are  a lot of care givers out there that could use someone to talk to and get ideas back. Thanks so much – francy

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My Spouse has Alzheimer’s – Why do I feel Nuts??

George in his work days behind the desk

by francy Saunders   www.SeniorCareWithSpirit 

Dear francy; I’m writing to myself…I have been driving my own self – nuts lately. You see my spouse has Alzheimer’s and all too often I get caught up into his memory holes and attitude mal-adjustments. I started to talk to others that give care to their family members or spouses on a full-time basis and they too…were suffering from the side effects of Alzheimer’s care. So I have been taking notes to give all of us ideas to live better and with less stress as care givers to dementia and Alzheimer’s or terminal care seniors. 

IDEAS TO KEEP THE CARE GIVER ON THE TOP OF THEIR GAME:

  1. Two explanations and move into “Just because I said so…” George will repeatedly ask the same question. He might be worried about a family matter and ask me the same question over and over again. The first time I answer with detail and explanation. The second time, I answer in a shorter manner trying to find a memory of our first conversation on the subject. Then by the third time he asks, I give up. I get short in my speech, I get exasperated and by the actual 8-9-10 times…I refuse to even talk about it. Now remember he has the same question, he has forgotten something important to him but I seem to fall into his basket over and over again. So how to change the way I respond? Because as a care giver you must understand that your Alzheimer’s senior is not going to change their point of view, their memory loss or their attitude. I have to be the one that adapts a way to respond by going back to how we handled the terrible two’s. Remember? When the two-year old asks questions all day long, in search of answers to a million questions? You finally are forced to simply state the obvious. “Because I said so, that’s why you will not go out to play in the middle of the night.”
    So, with George I have a two-time rule, I answer the question twice. Then I simply say “politely” I have answered that question in detail before so you will just have to take the “because I said so”. Now you will not get a fun response, but instead of me getting mad and angry…I am able to keep the conversation going, keep the project on track and keep moving ahead. Instead of getting myself upset and ruining the day because I remember the upset…he on the other hand; will forget the encounter and be renewed in no time. This has aided me with reduced frustration.
  2. If they take it apart, know that you can fix it on your own. This does not matter if you are the man or the woman care giver for a spouse, life changes and your old ways have to change. George has started to take things apart. If they do not work the way he wants them to work. Now maybe this is based in truth or maybe it is his perception of something not working. We have had remote controls, microwaves, washing machines, and water heaters all taken apart. Can he put them back together…NO.
    Maybe this does not fit your situation, but the point I am trying to make is that you can and will fix it. Or you will and can learn to do a new household task even cooking, if you simply put your mind to it. I purchased a new remote control and have hidden them so he does not use them. I put the parts back into the microwave/stove fan. Now it is used for a stove fan only and I purchased a new small microwave for the counter top. The washing machine was harder, I had to watch a lot of repair videos on youtube.com and a gal friend of mine helped me walk through the idea of how to put the machine back together. It took a few tries, but we have it working again. The hot water heater is an up in the air project at this time.
    You simply have to tell yourself that you can do things you have never done before. If it’s putting oil in your car, or scrubbing down a bathroom from top to bottom. If it’s fixing a broken blind or learning what are weeds to pull and what are plants to keep. Yes, there is a lot of change and Yes you are the one that will be doing the changing. So just breath deep and figure it out. I start by thinking of a friend or family member I can run the problem by. I then ask someone I know to help me or go to the Internet and read about the project. If I had money I would be paying a person to help me and since I don’t have money I usually wind up doing it myself. But I could also do a barter, I could make cookies for a neighbor guy that could check my car fluids. Or you could pay a local neighbor to cook dinners for you and in return give her money for your food and extra.
  3. Keep your mind clear. When George is in high gear and in the middle of an EVENT…I can not budge him. So I am now doing different things to release him from the stress and me…from the strain. I have a code word for my friend… “Mama Mia” When I say that word on the phone, in person or any time of day or night, it means I really need help and to be ready to come over. I have talked to a few friends and family – I just told them…there are times when George goes into his highest gear and I can not budge him. I need to calm him down before he does damage to himself or our home. So this Code Word that I have chosen and spoken to others about is my release valve. They know that I either need them to come for me or for him. If you think this will never happen to you…I honor your way of care giving. But I ask you to trust me, you will need to use this code and it is easier to set it up ahead of time, then spend an hour on the phone in the mid-crisis stage trying to make sure your family or friend believe the situation is important.
    People may say they will do anything you need…but when push comes to shove…they tend to disappoint. So this word is my friendship test and I let them know it ahead of time. If they do not help me, they will not be bothered by my call again for ANYTHING. It is that important to me. I have been left all alone in the middle of chaos and all I needed was someone to release my stress and calm down George. They not only did not come but gave me a lecture on how George did not really show any signs of Alzheimer’s. Those folks no longer exist in my life. I need the kind of friend and family that can understand I count – as much as George counts…and my need for support is only asked of them, if it is emergency EVENT.
  4. Keep life on paper. This has helped me a lot. I am constantly interrupted from my daily chores, tasks, business making duties and personal care. So now I am writing down a checklist to remind me of what and where I was when I was interrupted and a notebook so I can remember what ever was on the top of my mind when I had to run to George’s aid. I can not yell at him to wait a minute; that would mean that the remote control is then dismantled. So it is easier to jot down a note to myself, like a bookmark on my life tasks. This way I am not always trying to catch up, or feel like I have no control or feel like I can not remember anything myself. I am in charge of my life and when I can return to my task I know where I left off and where to begin.
    I even use paper for George to write down things that he feels are important that I am ignoring. Like he wants me to cut back his pills. When I give him his pill list I ask him to choose the ones he does not want to take. He sees the pills, the reason for taking them and then says well, OK….but then this is repeated in 3-4 days. So now I have him check the pills and if he says OK, I write it down: George OK’d his pills on friday the 13th– and he signs his name to it. So the next time he asks me, I can show him the paper and he is calmed down and goes about his way. Easier on him…easier on me.
  5. Medications in proper time make a life change for positive. If you think you can have your Alzheimer’s patient or YOU…forget or be late on their pills….you are living a dream. I find the medications have to be taken with food and on time so they work through the day. If they are late, taken without food or just forgotten all together…I am in big trouble. It means that George will act up for a couple of days, he will be more upset, more forgetful, more out of focus…he may even have a body reaction like a Parkinson’s shuffle or a diarrhea attack. So I try hard to double-check his pills and make sure he takes them when I give them to him. This is different for everyone, but even the supplements that I give George make a difference. Two days without Joint Compound and George will complain of aches in the knees. Six hours after a missed Zoloft he will start showing signs of upset. The day after a night pill has been forgotten he will have the runs. The day after a missed morning med with Zoloft and he will still be having upset. Even if he took his current pills the body is missing the medication from the day before and his personality is touchy.
    I personally take supplements and find that I get tired, have  joint pain and just do not click well- without my pills each day. So I have routines in place that mean we both have breakfast and pills…no matter what the day has before us. We do this if we stay in or go out. I repeat the process for his evening pills…I make sure they are taken after dinner and then give him a treat, dessert. This is a must keeping both of us on the top of our game, not fighting to stay afloat without our meds and supplements.

I hope these tips help. I’m in the process of working out a family problem at this time and I’m so down about it. Do you get down? Do you feel like life is simply overwhelming? We all do you know. So remember if depression is more than a week of low emergy and emotions…be sure to get your doctor’s advice on your own health and need for an emotional boost. Medications are a wonderful way to keep the quality of care giving high during times of difficult behavior. Some folks believe that asking for emotional drugs is wrong, they should just have a stiff upper lip and walk on. That is so yesterday. Drugs have been designed just for those experiencing extreme emotional pressure. It does not have to be a life long medication commitment, it’s just a way to help you through a rough time. Long-term stress reflects back on your heart and any ailment that is floating around in your system. So eat well, take your supplements and get a check-up yourself. YOU are the one holding the stick that keeps all the dishes spinning in the air…get help…those dishes can get heavy all alone! 

Read about my book that can help you with loads of other tips and tricks to keep care giving easier for spouses and family!

 Francy with Missy  Come and enjoy more info at www.SeniorCareWithSpirit.com   

  PS: 

 DONATE: I spend time-sharing with hundreds of families all over the US so they can cope with caring for their senior. I’m at home with my husband, George, on a full-time basis and I always appreciate a donation for my time-sharing with you on this site. I thank you for your kindness…and ask that you share my site information with those that you know that are caring for seniors — francy 
 
 Join my Newsletter Listing: I just got the August issue finished…I send out a newsletter and talk about the behind the scenes of daily care giving with George and clients. You’ll also hear about Missy and my crazy, busy life with joy – in the middle of chaos. Its a more personal look at Alzheimer’s. When you click and go to my home page it will take you through the sign up with your name, city and email and I will send you a small thank you gift Free…for your time. I will hold all your information private. You will receive a monthly newsletter and can remove your name any time from my listing. And once again I would appreciate you spreading the news about my work, there are  a lot of care givers out there that could use someone to talk to and get ideas back. Thanks so much – francy

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

by francy Dickinson                     www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings, francy

Alzheimer’s Confused with Too Much Change

francy Dickinson                             www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy;My husband is starting to forget who I am, he seems to be able to do tasks and is comfortable, but occasionally he asks me if I come in every day? We are leaving for a week to our cabin and I am hoping some rest away from the house will calm him and help.

I can understand your hurt feelings with your husband’s confusion. There is nothing as frightening as the stage of Dementia/ Alzheimer’s that moves the mind into forgetting close loved ones. I do also understand that one day he may be confused to the max and the next day he may be clear and able to function quite well. You are on track with knowing that keeping him calm and rested can help – but the change of pace to the cabin is not the answer.

Here are some tips to keep Dementia/Alzheimer’s at their maximum clear and calm:

  1. Clear your home of clutter. Your mind can view a room and see the couch, the chair and the front door. But a mind that is confused with dementia sees all the little things on the same level or as just as important as the big things in the room.  Like the foot stool, the table, the papers on the floor, the coffee cup and dessert plate on the table are all on par with the favorite chair and the TV. It’s a different view of the same room. Your job- pare down your clutter around the house. So when a dementia senior is sitting in the room their mind can rest, not be constantly moving from item to item.
  2. Clean up kitchen cabinets, make the cabinet for glasses and cups just that – glasses and cups. It is easier for them to remember what is in the cupboard and then when they open the cupboard what they were looking for is right there. A bottle of aspirin or cup filled with toothpicks will take the dementia mind off of their need for a glass and they will often close the cupboard and forget their task.
  3. Remove anything that could harm the dementia senior. Extra medications- get them out of the easy to find area. If you have been storing your pills in the bathroom cabinet, remove them. You do not want your senior to take your pills in a moment of confusion. Just like you protect toddlers from medications or anything that could harm them, you need to protect the dementia senior, too.
  4. Remove things from the kitchen table, it’s a place to eat, not store bills and papers. Once again, the dementia mind can take one task or chore at a time. To keep their mind active and working well keep the table a place to rest the mind, eat and talk. Not a place filled with boxes, papers and confusion. Clean the area and the mind will rest and see the table as a relaxing place, not a place for them to be distracted with other tasks and not want to eat.
  5. 1-2 days out a week. It depends on how advanced the dementia is for your senior, but going out and about is fine for a day or two a week. It is not good on a daily basis. Take a few days at home, then a day out. Make the day out simple tasks and low people contact. Dementia mind can get tired very easily, what the senior could do last year, is not what they can do today. Keep them down to a short trip with familiar sights. Would you take a toddler out for four hours of running around and then to a big birthday party? NO, it would be way to much for them to handle, that is now the same way your dementia senior is thinking.
  6. Trips to the cabin, to visit family in another city, sightseeing, new places, new people they are all very confusing. Dementia does best with people, places and things that are repeated each day and feel safe. My husband has a sister in Oregon and children in California, he often says he wants to go and visit. On his last visit he got lost and he took about three weeks to calm down and be able to sleep and have good days on his return. Our days of travel are over; his daily routine and happiness are far more important to me than trips to say hi that pull him out of his security zone. I know that retirement means visiting and travel, but dementia means that the mind functions better with familiar and safe surroundings.
  7. Limit the people contact to friends, family and neighbors. George does so well in his daily life, then last month I took him to a family memorial for my cousin. He walked into a church he had never been, surrounded by people he rarely saw and he just blanked out. He was confused, upset, did not know immedite family members and was a fish out of water. We left as soon as possible and did not go to the family home event. I took him out to a quiet lunch, changed the subject to talk about something we do everyday and we went home. I got him calm and in his chair and listening to a new audio-book on his MP3 player. I made an error in judgement, I did not think about his comfort zone and he suffered for it. I should have gone to the memorial by myself and so I have learned a lesson. My life with my husband by my side has now changed and I have to understand and learn to accept that fact, not with joy, but with inner strength.
  8. Keep like with like. If the drawer is for knives, keep it knives, if the pot is for pens and pencils keep it that way. No mixing, no putting off items in with other items. They will be forever lost to you and your dementia senior. Repeat over and over again. Cell phones charges by the entry door. Keys go in the bowl on the counter. One day George will not remember any of those details, but for now while he is in mid stage Alzheimer’s he is comforted by repeated tasks and repeated placement of items he uses often like his cell phone and MP3 player. George lost his garage door opener and we have not found it, I know it is tucked away in an odd place somewhere, but where? I have become quite the cleaning girl now, but it has paid off for me to get rid of items that have not been used in ages and are of no meaning to George.
  9. Doctor told me his dementia patients do better longer when the senior keeps their weight in a healthy range. Alzheimer’s medications often have a side effect of reducing the appetite and the senior starts to not remember or want to eat. So, I have added a routine of 3 meals around the same time each day. I have added desserts back into our life, so there is homemade cookies, pies and cakes ready for his snacks. Yogurt, applesauce and puddings for taking pills. Ensure and Boost for adding protein when he has not eaten lunch. I keep him on schedule and he responds with better eating and better days. If I am busy, out of the house, not feeling well myself – then he goes off his schedule, he forgets to eat and his pills are left on the counter. That is a lot of pressure for me, but I try my best and move on if the day has not worked out well. Life is not perfect and I have to live too.
  10. George needs rest, some days he rests all day, some days he is up and ready for life early. A man made for schedules -is no longer on schedule, I just know I give him his meds and food no later than 9AM so they go to work to help him feel calm and comforted during his day. If he stays in bed after the meal, fine – I will then continue my day and the next day he is up and at um. I ride with life, but I try to stick to the schedule and routine so George feels the days in order and is able to adjust his mind easily to an important day. Because dementia means that each day is important, the next day may be of less abilities and less memory, so today is the day to tackle and enjoy.

I think the fact of the spouse or family of a dementia/Alzheimer’s senior has the ability to give the senior a full and rich life – is a big thing. On certain days it overwhelms me. I try to keep my mind focused on today, to deal with whatever today brings my way. I try to make little jokes about forgetting where George’s coffee cup is ( it has become a continual struggle to find it during the day.) I tell him how much I love him, all day long. If he forgets, I remind him- he is loved. I tell him how nice he looks, how well he did a task and how great it is he finished his meal and brought me the plate. I make a point to touch him and dance with him around the kitchen. I even squeeze his hand or kiss him in public – just to keep him connected. Lately, I stop on a dime and ask him to give me a hug or a kiss, he does it with love – but not without my request. I give him constant reassurance I am here for him and I am not leaving. Each month our life changes, his mind changes and we have to readjust to his new challenges. I get frightened of the changes ahead, so I try hard to deal with the daily change and stay on a pattern and routine that brings my own feeling of safety and comfort as well as George’s.

I know you are feeling very similar things, and I know that tears and heartache are close to the surface of your daily life. But we can do it, we can escort our loved ones on this journey and still be a functioning person at the end. We can find honor and love in our senior even on their worst days and we can find peace and calm in our own hearts in midst of total chaos around us. We are stronger than we ever knew and I am proud of myself and of you.

Please do go to my website at www.seniorcarewithspirit.com 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.

10 Tips to Keep Your Medications Working for You

By francy Dickinson www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; I have no idea what medications my Uncle is taking on a daily basis or if he’s taking them properly. I have the pill bottles, do not know what they’re for and I have the daily box that is always filled when I arrive. He is 82 and seems well, just needs me for shopping and cleaning his small home. Do I need to push him for more information?

Yep! Here is the deal with medications for everyone – if you do not take them on time during the day and in repetitive days, then you are not really taking the medication that the doctor has prescribed. It may seem like blood pressure or even allergy meds show few signs of change, but inside the body there is a war going on and it needs to be put into a neutral state with medications. You can say, “Well I am old, I will stop medications and just let nature take its course.” That to sounds like a good idea; but you do not know what path nature will take you down. Do you want to NOT be able to walk or talk with a stroke? Do you want to be bed ridden or stuck in a coma for the rest of your life? Do you want to leave your home and be in a care center full time? Do you want to be on constant machines cleaning your blood or a machine in your chest to keep your heart going? Worst of all –is the diabetes side effects of blindness and losing limbs, not a pretty picture. So you can think that skipping pills or going off of a special diet for a day or just taking the pills that are easy to swallow is no big deal, but it can come back and bite you – badly.

Here is my over view of how to handle medications for yourself and seniors in your care:

  1. Know the medications. Either go into the doctor’s office and have them reviewed for you, or look them up on the Internet, or go to the drug store and ask for a print out of the pills and their reason and side effects. If your senior says something makes them dizzy, then you need to find out which pill does that and if that pill can be replaced with another Rx. (Note, when you find new medication ideas on the Internet, print them out and take them into the doctor on your next visit to review-they should always be open to this kind of discussion.)
  2. Always ask the doctor and the pharmacy if they could please use generics where ever possible. Even if the senior has a good drug insurance coverage. You save them the deductable. Plus the more money that is saved over all helps all of us when it comes to drug costs.
  3. Each doctor’s appointment- you are required to “bring in your medication bottles”. Since most seniors have more than one doctor this is how the medical offices keep track of the medications that can change since the patient was last in office. I found this way too overwhelming when my mother began to have over six meds and then went up to 27 a day before her passing. So I kept a list of the medications. I sat down in front of my computer and lined up the pill bottles with the information about each of them and put together a listing.
    Name of Drug/Reason/Strength/Times per day/with or without food/Dr that prescribed/
    I repeated this for each medication and I would add and remove as the prescriptions changed. Be sure to put the date on the paper so you know the last update. Now you have power. You can take this list into each doctor’s office, keep it in your kit for emergency trips to the hospital, check up on the pills and their purpose and most of all, you can fill the weekly pill container with morning and night pills properly divided.
  4. The medications all have reasons for time of day delivery. Some make you tired, some make you go to the bathroom, some make you dizzy, hungry or up energy. If you take them as the doctor advises then your body will respond in the proper manner at the right time. And if you have side effects with a new drug, it can be address from the get go.
  5. Side effects are nothing to ignore. They can really get a rolling start and change your life. People coming out of heart attacks can have big problems with their bladder control that means that their drugs need regulation and it is a hard thing to do. But it can be done. Some medications can make you feel more emotional than normal, dizzy or actually give you a rash or make you sick to your stomach. All of the side effects are listed on each new drug. But if you wonder about them, call into your pharmacist and they will review the problem with you and advise you on another drug to suggest to your doctor, or to assure you that the side effects usually go away in a couple of days or so. This information will keep your return visits to the doctor down to when you need to have the drug Rx changed or updated. Ask your doctor if all medications can be geared to twice a day, so memory is not challenged with seniors living on their own.
  6. Emotional drugs can be hard on those who take them. They can have very difficult side effects and the patient does not want to wade through the time to make changes. We all understand that feeling odd inside of our body or our heads is a terrible challenge, but taking drugs for high end emotional problems is paramount to wellness. So as a family care giver you need to keep on top of this and keep returning to the prescribing doctor with your list of the senior’s complaints until he can find a mixture of medications that fit their needs.
  7. Journal the drugs and the senior’s behavior and daily feelings. There should be a spiral notebook in the care area where you can check off the daily drugs, food, mood and physical ability of the senior on a daily basis. If you only do it every three days, that is better than nothing. This way the doctor will see that when pills were forgotten the breathing went down, the walk was staggered, or the emotions were more on edge. This is the stuff that is needed to keep anyone taking more than a couple of medications informed. This is how a doctor will treat and be thrilled at the information. They will thank you and give medication changes in a more effective way with this type of information.
  8. Cannot afford medications? There are ways around this with help. All drug companies have special services for those that are on a budget too tight for medication spending. Ask your doctor about this and they will hook you up with the different services available. You can turn to your own state human and senior services offices and get the senior on their program for financial or medical assistance. This is provided in each state, they have different rules for each state. But basically it can span a lot of things, it can give the senior food stamps only, or medical and drug coverage, or pay for care givers. It goes on and on and it is decided on the income of the senior and the spouse. Do not think you have to give up your home for this service that is not true. Veteran’s services are also there for those that have served. I am talking about served, not about retired only. My husband was in only three years and he is now receiving help from the Veteran’s for his dementia. Always check out the available services for all seniors it makes good care sense. Last is Medicare that has “D” coverage that will help with medication coverage. This is also inserted into your insurance coverage and you need to know that twice a year you can make Medicare supplemental insurance changes in the spring and fall. There is no problem changing during those times, but the rest of the year, you need to stay in the insurance that you currently have or pay a fee.
  9. The actual pill bottle can be coded to a color for couples that live together and have lots of meds. Hard to keep track so this is an easy solution. You can ask and sign for Easy Open bottles. Know that those bottles have to be kept away from your young grand children. I keep all of George’s medication bottles in a basket on a high shelf. Once a week I refill the medications into his weekly dispenser and then order whatever I need to keep the pills properly stocked. It is always less expensive to order three months of an Rx. So ask your doctor to write one month to try the medication and then ask him for a 90 days refill Rx if the medication is to be used over a long period of time.
  10. Do not be afraid to change your medications to another drug store. They have services now that ship pills out to you instead of having family pick them up at the store. They have computer services that automatically refill the drugs and call you when they are available. They have lots of nationwide services that will fill the order in any state if the senior visits family or travels. They also have services that provide breathing, diabetes and other ongoing conditions with all of their medications and services needed, by mail. You can also get many items ordered by your physician in prescription form that are not just pills. That would be bladder control products, special dietary supplements, breathing machines, oxygen, walking and bathing assistance products. This all depends on what Medicare, supplement or regular insurance companies will cover. So ASK – when the doctor says you need something to care for your health, ask him if you can get an Rx for that so it is covered by your insurance. They are there to help you, but they cannot guess at each patients needs.

My husband is a dementia/Alzheimer’s condition patient. He shows such a difference when he has his medication on time for four or more days in a row. It is like night and day. But with dementia it is hard for us both to keep on top of the pills. Sometimes we skip an intake for morning or night. We have learned to just ignore it and not take the night before pills with the morning of – pills. But this error means that my husband may get diarrhea, feel extra dizzy or have real memory or emotional challenges for a couple of days. That means that his brain cells are dropping and he is going backwards not forwards in his fight against Alzheimer’s continued attack on his brain. We try hard, but things happen. When they do we regroup and try harder – we feel lucky that there is medications that make his condition better and we are dedicated to keeping him alert and active as long as possible. It is the quality of life, not the length of life that we feel is important. That is why taking medications on time every day is paramount in elder care.

Thank you for your email please do send your questions to me. You will find the email button on my website at www.seniorcarewithspirit.com and you will also find my on demand radio shows talking about senior care issues. If you found these tips helpful, I have a workbook for those of you that are giving care to a senior called Senior Care Givers Workbook 101 – It is a step by step of how to give good care to seniors.

Blessings on your day, francy

7 Easy Meal Recipes for Shut-in Seniors

by Francy Dickinson                              www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; My Dad simply will not eat any of the food that they deliver to him. I have tried to buy him good frozen dinners -he hates them. How can I help him eat well at home?

I have a few ideas from my days going through the same thing with my mother. She loved to cook, but her last few of months living on her own left her to weak to cook. But some times it’s good just to know that a home cooked meal will arrive once or twice a week. If you’re alone or cook for a family a good dinner that’s made in the slow cooker or on Sunday when you have time – will go a long way. The key will be you making a week’s menu andputting it on the refrigerator. That way the senior knows what to eat each day. I used a piece of masking tape on the different microwave reheat containers with numbers and then put the numbers next to the menu days. If  they have to add something like fresh salad to his reheat dish, then just add it to the menu list. Be sure to put the re-heat microwave time next to the meal so he does not over cook. He will be involved but it will be easy and taste good to him.

If you are able to give him one day a week of a few hours you can pre-fix 7 easy meals. It will take time to shop and time to pre-cook. But the meals are designed to be fast prep and healthy. You’ll need a few good re-heat Rubbermaid type of containers so its easier for him to grab, nuke, add the salad sides and eat! I would do it at his place so he sees you cooking and appreciates your time and he can enjoy the smells from his kitchen. I have the shopping list at the end.

  • 1st dinner/ Buy a pre cooked roasted chicken – this is good for 2-3 meals. You prep them like this. Slice one breast and dark meat piece and heat with mashed potatoes and gravy from the deli section of the store (buy small container) If there are left overs store for lunch next day. Mark the menu for your dad to add in some carrot salad (or Jello salad) from the deli section (small container) after he has microwaved the dinner. Left overs can be a possible lunch
  • 2nd Dinner/Take the other chicken breast and slice it up and toss with Ranch Dressing. (This is for the inside of 2 torteas.) Add one chopped Roma tomato to the shredded chicken breast, sprinkle with shredded cheese – roll tight and store in wax paper. This makes a good dinner it goes into the microwave for 3 min to heat. He can add a side of his carrot or Jello salad.
  • 3rd Dinner/Dinner from your place/ One good weekly meal that you served your family and set aside a portion for the senior. It could be a nice soup, chile, stew or roast. This is the best dinner he will get so make sure it has gravy and plenty of spice to make it tickle his palette. You can find ideas on Slow Cooker Meals added to your IGoogle page/its an application for your home page. 1-2 servings
  • 4th Dinner/Fish – a small one meal piece of whte fish that’s easy to cook fast. Put in a covered micro container to steam. Be sure to add Ranch dressing, chopped green onion and squirt with lemon juice before you steam the fish. It will cook in about 3-4 minutes. Take out and cool then place on the reheat plate and add a side of Rice a Roni type of rice mix. Pick a fresh green veggie that you will steam for two dinners. You can use broccoli or asparagus. Steam it up in the microwave with plastic on top and a little water in the casserole dish. Add a sprinkle of flavored herb mix like Mrs. Dash on top and a dollop of butter or marg. This will be used for the fish and another dinner
  • 5th Dinner/Left over chicken pieces a leg, thigh and wing. Put on a micro dish and cover top with BBQ sauce to give the chicken a different flavor. Add a side of baked beans and another helping of green salad that you buy pre-mixed.
  • 6th Dinner/This meal is a fried meal. You can choose for him/1 hamburger steak or 2 pork chops. Either one is cooked the same; open the meat and let set while you’re doing the rest of the meals. Heat the oil and rub or dip meat into flour and then fry in oil. You will put salt, pepper, and always use paprika and a steak spice mix on them as they cook and you turn them over after they brown. Sprinkle spice/herbs on top of them as you turn them. If it’s pork chops; brown them and put some jam on the top or a squirt of maple syrup and add 1/2 cup of water – cover for 20 minutes on a low bubble. If it’s the hamburger steak than you want to dab a little BBQ sauce on the top and cover for an additional10 minutes on low. This meal is served with the rest of the Rice a Roni type of mix and the rest of the green veggies that you have pre-cooked.
  • 7th Dinner/Buy the fresh pasta(ravioli) and the Tomato Sauce in the deli section. They come in pre-pared containers. You can add the ravioli to the place and put the tomato sauce on top and add a sprinkle of Parmesanon top. You will put a side of Italian spice bread on the side. You can find the bread all pre-herbed with garlic and such in the frozen section.
  • Add in a good selection of fruits, yogurts, nutritional drinks and sweets for the in betweenfood. Make sure his morning is started with a good cereal served withVanilla Silk (soy-milk).  Have some pretzels, and some gummy bears for him to enjoy and snack. If you choose the better snacks he will have a better choice of good foods for his day.  

Your Shopping list:  You may have to shop for spices or condiments that you like to use when you cook- to put in his cupboard.

1 fully cooked chicken (the kind they roast at the grocery store)
1 hamburger steak or two pork chops
1 piece of white fish that is large enough to serve the senior
1 package of Rice A Roni (Chicken flavor type of rice mix)use for 2 dinners
1 small mashed potato container from deli section
1 small chicken gravy container from deli section
1 small carrot salad from deli section (2 dinners)
1 large pre-mixed green salad from the salad section so this will be a side for two dinners
1 BBQ Sauce – I like to use the honey BBQ
1 Ranch dressing
1 can of Baked Beans for one dinner – use rest for a lunch
1 bunch of broccoli or other green veggie to steam for 2 dinners
2 Roma tomatoes
1 bunch of green onion
1 RealLemon – lemon juice to have in the senior’s refrigerator
1 serving of deli prepared ravioli
1 serving of tomato sauce from right next to the pastas in the deli section
1 container of Parmesan cheese
1 frozen package of pre-herbed and garlic bread that has individual pieces

These are meals that are easy to pre-pare, take very little cooking and just need you to be solid on getting it all done in one full swoop. Think fast and think easy. Buy most of the things pre-cooked or packaged and then the prep time is less. It’s never fun cooking in a strange kitchen, but take note of what he needs and just add it to the shopping list. As you’re in the kitchen go through the refrigerator and cupboards and throw the old spices and mixes, condiments and baking things that are no longer going to be used. You do not want out of date items on the senior’s shelves.

Please do come and visit my website www.seniorcareforseniors and get more information and tips for senior care. I have a great Care Giver 101 Workbookthat will really help to guide you in the care giving of your senior or spouse.

Thanks francy

Join me on Twitter @Seniorcaretips

How to Clean when Flu Hits Town

by francy Dickinson                          www.seniorcaretips.com

Dear Francy; Dad is so fragile right now, just out of hospital – just getting his appetite back. He has cleaning girls and bath ladies and such in the house and I worry about the flu going around?

You should worry, anytime other people come into the home to clean or give care it is exposing the senior to germs. The recent flu outbreak can work around the country and usually it’s elderly and small children that are effected the most. So cleaning is what we do and we do it on an ongoing basis. I know it sounds boring but I am going to go over the different rules of keeping your home even cleaner than hospitals!

Keep it Clean- tips for you or your cleaning care or office staff:

  • You will find solutions at your medical supply, beauty supply, pharmacy that are concentrated and used for cleaning surfaces. You buy these and then thin them down with water and put them into spray bottles- large or small- and they are there for you to use in your cleaning all the time. A small bottle should be by your desk to go over all the surfaces of the office like the keyboard, phone, printer and anywhere you rest your hands. Do not think you are the only one using the area, others may come by and expose it and you may pick up something from place A and move it yourself back to your place B.
  • Washing solution that you can make at home is one tsp bleach with one gallon of water. This solution lasts only 24 hours. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners such as glass cleaner, it makes a nasty gas that will sicken you.
  • Bleach is what kills most germs, but some surfaces will be harmed by bleach so you can look for solutions that have other solutions and use those. I have a product called Amazing that I buy at the dollar store – it has bleach in it and I use it all over the house, all the time.
  • You can also buy pop up – pre moistened- towels with bleach mixture on them. They’re easy to use and you can get them in large quantities at Walmart, Costco and other box stores. Use the towel for one area or room at a time and then throw it away. They are very easy to teach children to use in their own bathrooms and bedroom areas. I think kids need to know how not to spread germs at an early age.
  • Get in a habit of using the pre moistened towels as you enter a shopping area and use a cart. Most stores have them for your use now, so go over the handle and area around the cart and throw them away. Have the small bottles of liquid cleaner in your purse, car and office desk, as well as by the side of your senior in their favorite chair. You can buy the bottles very cheap at the dollar store. Use them when you are out with kids and never eat or touch yourself without using this liquid antibacterial bottles of soap.
  • Sneeze into your elbow area of your arm and do not touch your nose or eyes when you are out and about. Use a Kleenx if you need to stratch or rub those exposed areas. Many people use something like neosporin in their nose when they go out in the midst of a nasty outbreak of a bug. I have done this myself, but I have no information on the success of this action.
  • Remember you want to use paper towels to do the cleaning and throw them away as you move from room to room or when they get damp. You need to dry the surface, it’s the moisture that things grow in. Regular towels can harbor the germs and move them around the house, so use paper towels to keep clean.
  • Bath towels should be used and washed after someone sick has taken a shower. All towels in the bathroom are up for washing machine clean if the family is unwell and the surface of the bathroom needs to be cleaned.
  • If you’re using the bleach mixture, then you need to wear rubber gloves as you clean to protect your hands. Buy rubber gloves in most grocery and large box stores. But buy just one box of  both the latex and non latex and try them out and see if you show any signs of allergies. Once you know the type of rubber gloves you use best, then you can buy a large amount of them at the medical supply center or Costco. You can have the doctor actually write a prescription for them to help with the cost and if nothing else, they can come off the taxes in the medical care section for the patient/or you, if you are claiming them as a dependant.
  • If you have not cleaned heavily lately, do it now. I make it a task to do the surface of the care home/nursery in the evening when every one is going down to bed. That way the day’s germs are taken care of and in the morning we start fresh all over again.
  • Wash hands before and after you put on gloves. The gloves protect you from germs but touching them will bring them back onto your hands. Do not think gloves mean that you are safe from germs, you are touching the germs with the gloves and taking off the gloves is something that is taught to you in nursing aid classes. If you have not taken one, ask a nurse at the doctor’s office to show you and she will walk you through it and you will have it down in no time.
  • Washing hands is done all the time and you need to get used to it if you are a mom, care giver or just live alone. The world is full of more people, more people make more germs and you are in the middle of it.
  • Check out soap contents before you buy. I’m allergic to aloe and they are putting that in lots of hand soaps, so I have to be careful not to buy those. They ask you to use antibacterial soaps out of the home and regular soaps in the home. But using any soap is better than none. So buy some soft soaps at the box store and just wash your hands on a regular basis or when ever you do a task with another person or when you move from a care giving room to another.

Proper Hand Washing Guide:

  1. Make sure you have everything you need at the sink before you wash your hands. That would be your liquid soap, your paper towels and a trash can that is ready for you to drop the towel in to- without touching another surface. >> Use one of the paper towels to open the public bathroom door after your hands are washed clean.
  2. Turn on warm water and keep the water running while washing your hands, this is not a time to worry about water consumption.
  3. Rub palms together to make a lather. Scrub between your fingers and the entire surfaces of the hands and wrists remember under your nails. Scrub for 10-15 seconds.
  4. Rinse hands thoroughly by pointing fingers down so the water does not run up your wrists
  5. Dry hands well with paper towels that are clean and make sure they are dry, not moist. You can use hand lotion if available to prevent chapping.
  6. If chapping occurs then talk to the pharmacist and ask them if they think it is the soap, the gloves or just the washing? He can recommend a good moisture cream that will help your skin.

I hope this information helps you through out the full year. Winter is not the only time for germs, they lay in wait all year long. Faucets, toilet handles, light switches, door bells, all kitchen surfaces, pens and scizzors in your kitchen office area, crayons and dog toys. The list is long. But if you and your family get used to cleaning up after dinner in the kitchen and call the clean up, surface clean up as well as dish clean up, it can really help to lower the sniffles.

If you give care and you’re sick, do not go into the senior area – get help to take over your place until you’re well. You can find face masks at the pharmacy and ask the pharmacist how to use them for full effectiveness.

Please go to my website and read more information on basic care giving. I also have fun radio shows that will give you good info at http://bit.ly/F9bwQ  and the informaiton on how to really give care well is in my workbook called Senior Care 101 Workbook, that you can find on the products page of the www.seniorcarewithspirit.comsite. Thanks, francy