Help My Parents Can Not Take Care of Each Other

by francy Dickinson                

Dear Francy; My dad is 82 with mild dementia and osteoporosis and my mother is 80 with heart problems and weakness. They simply can no longer care for their own needs without my help. I have increased my time with them up to 2 hrs a day but I am at the end of my ability to care for them. We have no money for a retirement home and I do not know what to do? I have three siblings, all male and unable to give care and so I am on my own here.

OK, if there is simply no money (I understand they are in a smaller and older home) Here are some steps to help you out:

  1. Make sure you have your name on the Health Care Directive for both of them. This is a form that is filled out and it then goes to the notary so you can make decisions legally for your parents.
  2. Remove your attachment to your parent’s home and look at it with an eye if you were going to sell the home tomorrow. Walk through the house and mark down what has to be done to ready for sale. Heavy cleaning with older folks living there unable to see dirt or move furniture or refrigerators to get things cleaned. Walls need paint, wall paper needs to be removed, bathrooms need painting and new faucets, updating and kitchen needs declutter? Write it all down in a notebook. Edit down their things no longer used as much as you can and still keep your parents feeling safe and cozy in their home. Changes are hard for elders so make them with ease and in a quiet manner.
  3. Now, think about getting a reverse mortgage, that’s a way a lot of families are dealing with monthly income. Call a reverse mortgage place and have them come and look at the home and explain all the benefits and downfalls. That is what they will do. They will make a flat fee for doing the paperwork on the mortgage and it is done through the government, so you can feel free to take their time and ask questions. It means it is a way for your parents to get the money they have invested in their home out each month. Then when they pass the home is sold and if there is anything left it goes to their heirs on their will.
  4. Call a local real estate person and ask them to simply come and view the home and evaluate it for you. They will do this with the hope that you will use them as an agent when you choose to see the home. Also ask them if the home is rentable as an income instead of selling, they will know the area and give you guidance.
  5. Call the Veterans Association, if one of your parents has served in the military and see where they are on the health care coverage. You will find it’s a sliding scale according to the time and type of service they served. If the Vets will help with care you can enjoy their services and save some money on care.
  6. Call their Medicare supplement insurance company and tell them you need them to send you a booklet on the outline of what care their plans are providing. Then you know where you stand with money for services for your parents. Twice a year you can change Medicare supplement insurance companies, you may find that now that your parents are in a higher need of care, there is other insurance policies that will cover more of the costs. Make some calls and study the Internet on this issue, it can make a big difference in money spent.
  7. If they have attended a faith center call and ask what type of community care they provide. Often large faith centers have seniors that will give you an hour or two a week, a dinner program, or in home visiting program. It all helps.
  8. Ask about Meals on Wheels in your parent’s area, this program is delightful for seniors that no longer cook. You can supplement the extra pie or cookies, take them extras on the bigger meals you cook at home and still have the meals in the freezer for your parents to microwave. If they no longer can cook or reheat, then that option will not be there for you.
  9. Call the state welfare and ask for a booklet on what type of care they provide for seniors with small incomes and they will send you information on that form of help. This is really important, because once you know what money you have to work with you can then move on and hire help accordingly. Lets say the state will only give you food coupons, that means a couple hundred a month on their income that can be spent on care givers not food. It is a good thing to ask for help, it is there for elders and it has been paid for by your parents in their taxes for years. The state may also pay you to care for your parents so your own time with them could be increased with an income or other care services could be added.

Now that you know about their money income it is time to add to your in home care assistance or to a more traditional adult care home, or assisted living facility.

  1. It is not easy to keep a couple together in assisted living if they have different types of care required. Dementia has a staff trained to handle emotional problems and health side problems. Health care for mom takes care givers that are trained for challenging medications- those are two different care giving situations and it may take time and extra looking to find a facility or home that will fulfill both care issues. So start to call today, if you think your parents will need a spot to go to in the next few months. There are waiting lists in many facilities and you want to be prepared not stunned when the time comes to take that step. Even if you think it will be another year, talk and get on waiting lists.( This is what I do for my income, I help families find those facilities and make their senior’s transition into them. I do not charge the family a fee.)
  2. If you are going to be staying on as their care giver you have to know it will be a more time consuming effort than what you are giving now. You will sit down with your brothers and have a talk. It is no joke, this has to be an adult conversation about your parents, without your parents in the room. So you can be free to speak of their health challenges and let them all know that things are heating up and growing out of control for you personally to care for them. Many family members respond to money rather than time. So explain it will take a min of $10 up to $25 dollars an hour for in home care. If they need only 4-5 hrs a day that is $100 a day…that can add up fast and then show them your parent’s income. This is how people look at problems. To sit down and say, I need help is not enough —  show them, the needs, the time,and the money needed — that is what will shake them into understanding the problem.
  3. Tell them your options, you have now done your home work so show them the different ways that care can be given and afforded. Then ask for their support, not their help. If they have not helped in the past, they will not help now. But ask them to support you with additional money each month, even if they give you $35 a month that could buy the Ensure that your parents drink everyday, or the Depends they use, or help with a bath lady each week. Every small amount is appreciated and the commitment has to be long term. The bath lady has to be paid each week if they give the money or not. Make decisions on reality not promises.
  4. If the house is going to be sold to pay for your parents care, then you ask the family to help you ready it for sale. You may not be able to remodel or update, but you can clean. Just take one room at a time, clean out closets, give things to family and good will, do not put yourself through big yard sales, they are to hard on you. Giving time and care is overwhelming, do it with thought about your own health.
  5. Paint as many rooms as you can to give it a low key color update. Use colors that are popular in your area. Update little things like lite fixtures in the bathroom and new faucets in the kitchen. Use the inexpensive vinyl tiles that you can easily put down over old vinyl floors, remove carpets if the house has wood floors and polish the floors. If you plan your actions over the next two months with help from your brothers on room by room, the house will look fresh and clean and update the yard to make it have nothing junky outside and just a clean lawn and some bark on the flower beds. Then you will be able to get the most for the house without remodel prices.
  6. You will need to keep your parents calm while you are doing this so if the project is big ask a brother to take one or both of your parents for a weekend so you can do the work without them worrying over it all.
  7. If you are not going to sell the home right away, still do as much of work as you can as you go along. The day of selling the home will be close in the future and work has to be done now or then.
  8. You will need to call an in home health care service. They have trained nurses, PT, OT, nutrition and bath ladies. They also handle the care giving with light housekeeping, cooking and tending care givers. All trained, bonded and ready to help you with chores for your parents. What you can not do, they fill in. This is easiest way to get help. You can add a few hours a week at first, a bath lady is my favorite pick and then increase as the need and finances are there for extra help. They are also ready to be your back up if you are unwell and unable to attend to your parents needs. They will come to your home and do a review and then you set up a plan of needs.
  9. If you choose to directly hire someone to cover for you each day, make sure you do a background check and call the references, you want a quality person to care for people you love. Horror stories can be avoided with doing a good check on the person’s prior job abilities and people skills. No smoking, drinking or drugs are allowed by any care giver so let them know that from the get go. Ask your Tax Person how to make the payment to the person you hire on your own. A service takes care of all taxes and pays your caregiver for you. I you hire a person on your own, payment for the person is up to you. Remember to ask if the care givers are a tax deduction for your parent’s taxes too. Remember if your parent or parents are in your home, they can be your own tax deduction for their care.

Now, I have a workbook that was designed for family members to read and use if they have never had any training in caring for a seniors. You will find my book under Products page of my website Its called Care Giving 101 Workbook and you can download it as an E-book or as a printed workbook sent to you via mail. That will detail the basic care giving needs and how to handle them for you as time goes on. I have both health and Alzheimer’s tips in the workbook. Its been a great help for many who are facing giving care to parents and or spouses.

Hope this all helped you – you can find me on Twitter @seniorcaretips and this wordpress site has many older blog entries that you will find helpful as you add giving care to an already busy life with your own family and job. I also have a talk radio site that is fun to give a listen – its an easy click from my website…thank you for your time and blessings on your giving care.

Please do send me emails if you have a question on care, I am happy to help. francy


How to Bring Grandma Into Your Home

by francy Dickinson               

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

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

Moving Elders into Your Home Tips:

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

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

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

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

blessings. francy

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

Senior Care Givers Get Organized!

By francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; I have never been very organized and now I have college kids, husband, dogs, home, job schedules and just added caring for mom and her schedule. Where is “the me” in all of this?

I understand and although it may seem like your the me has faded into the background and rarely has a time or place to surface; I think these tips will help. The simple answer to parenting or care giving is that keeping track and reminding everyone of events and keeping the home and persons clean – is really the most important part of the job. It is also the most exhausting. When the kids are young and go a million directions each day and make a mess at each station – you are usually young too. You have had more energy and more brain function to handle the stress. Now, time moves on for all of us and you have even more tasks on your plate and more people pulling you in different directions. So as you once did daily life with little or no planned organization – NOW time has changed and you have to get a grip on your daily to do’s so you do have time for the me inside to take a good soak bath or just a quiet time with your spouse after dinner.

Roll up your sleeves – because if you’re caring for an elder or your own spouse you need to begin the organized path for all of your own and your family’s health and well being:

  1. Do it Your Way – Calendars are a must. You have a choice, you can do it online or with your cell and keep a calendar and the reminders buzzing helping you stay on the program. Or, you can write it down on a wall calendar or daily planner. Whatever fits your needs- use it. But remember, you need a calendar!
  2. Repeat a program and put everyone on a similar schedule. If you do laundry on Monday nite after work, your college kids, and husband need to know they have to have their stuff there and in place so you can do the laundry not collect sort and fold the laundry. Be practical, do the laundry for each person so you do not have to sort and then have them fold it. Call your senior and remind them of the laundry day and ask them how many loads and such, so you know they are also on the program for the day. This is how you keep it simple, do not adjust to five different schedules, make others adjust to yours and it will go so much smoother. (Remember; this way or the highway and the highway is them doing their own laundry wo/your help. Be strong – you do the work, you set the rules and schedules) Set the basic cleaning, house and personal stuff on the calendar and then repeat and repeat. That is how the process gets easier because they all get it drilled into their head that Monday is laundry, Tuesday is outside the house chore day, Wed is clean house day, Thursday is zip, Friday is family time, Sat is visit and help senior day, Sunday is quiet and recover day. Make up your days, but make them clear and repeat each week. Say No to things that do not fall on the right day so you do not wide up feeling exhausted. Or just float a day into the next Friday and move on. But try hard to stick to your days and your family will adjust and follow suit.
  3. Remind everyone of the different chores of the week. Then stick to them. After a few weeks it will all gel and get so much easier. I know that garbage is Tuesday at our house, but I still have it marked on my wall calendar each week. I would always have mother’s garbage day marked on my calendar too…so when we spoke the night before I could get her to remember, or stop by to put it out on the curb myself. I love using wall calendars, they make my days easier. I do use a daily calendar in my office on the desk, but that is reserved for most of my work related information. I keep Birthday and events, appointments on the web so I get reminders and anything that involves another person in the family is up on the wall calendar.
  4. Appointments are hard to manage in a busy life, so you will have to pick a day during the week and on Saturday for doctor appointments for your senior. You will find that if you pick the day and tell the doctor’s office this is your day for appointments they will find one for you. Your life will be much smoother. Remember seniors that need care do not do well before 10 AM or after 4 PM so work within those boundaries. Bring your Medical spiral notebook that’s just used for doctor appointments for your parent or spouse. This way you have all the information in your bag or car and you’re ready to take notes and ask questions. Time for appointments is usually 2-3 hours. You have to drive, transfer, do the appointment, wait, do the tests or drug store run, drive back and maybe do a quick stop for a treat for the senior. So do not think your lunch hour is enough, it will take longer than you think. (I have a great E book called Senior’s Doctor Visits Check List that gives you all sorts of ideas for better appointment and doctor interactions – you will find it on my site clicking on Products.)
  5. I made a deal with myself that on days that I take someone to the doctor, I only do two more chores along the way and one of them is passive, like eating. It really takes a lot of energy to collect a senior and keep totally concentrated on their wellbeing and their appointment information. So to add a shopping trip or a few more stop and pick up this or that… is way to much for me. My mom would get home and be happy about her day and I would get home and be exhausted and still facing the evening with making dinner and the usual night time tasks. So, keep yourself well and do not over book your senior drive day.
  6. If you’re cleaning your home than wait a couple of days before you go over to your senior’s home and clean theirs. I remember the depression I would have from trying to get my house work caught up and then driving over to my mother’s or other senior’s places and do the same thing all over again. I learned to separate my own cleaning on a day that I would not be doing cleaning for someone else. I had to preserve my energy and my mental attitude.
  7. Start each day with a review of what is happening on the calendar and then you are ready for your morning check-in call for your senior. You can remind them that this is a “get the garbage ready to go out day”. This is a “get the refrigerator clean so we can go to the store tomorrow day”. That way you give the senior chores they can do to ready their home for you to come and quickly get the rest of the chores finished. Then go ahead and ask your usual daily questions about all around health and reminders for pills, food and such. This way, you give them something to do for you…that’s always the key. When you work with parents always ask them to do you a favor. “Mother, I’m stopping by tonight on the way home- to put out the garbage can and give you a hug. Would you please get your waste baskets all empted and put into a trash bag and I will run in and chat and then take out the garbage. Hey, how about I bring you a hamburger and shake for dinner, sound good?” That is the way you get it done, ask for a favor, remind them of the task and reward them for their efforts.
  8. Saying NO. There are times when things you do for a senior are important and have to go on the top of your list. Then there are times when the senior is lonely and they think of things to get you over to visit them in-between your normal days. This has to be contained or you will lose your ability to multitask successfully. Sort out the pleas of I need help. Let the senior know you will be there in two days and you can add that to your task list. I got mother a nice white board and she would write down things that she needed me to do. Each time I visited, I would cross off a few and then delegate a few more and finish the rest at the next visit. Delegate is to call a sibling or your spouse and ask them to do a certain chore that you know they can do or afford to provide. This keeps you from feeling like you are holding the whole world together (even if you are!)
  9. Each season comes with extra tasks and the best thing to do is keep them connected. If you are going to have someone clean your gutters, then ask the same person do clean your senior’s home and share the cost. If you are going to change the batteries on your fire alarms or heating unit filters, do the same at your seniors. Spring time is always a good excuse to clean out closets. Hire a family member to help you and get your closets clean and clothes and linens to the charity store and do the same for your senior. The response to cleaning out things for seniors is always hard; they hate change and do not want to give away anything. But, if you show them you did your home first, they know the fork lift is coming through their closets, next. It makes it easier for them to adjust. If you do it year in and year out. It becomes an accepted norm. But remember the routine, ask them to help you, get the task done, then reward them. So the closet and old clothes are gone. But the shopping for a few new things goes on the calendar so they see they have a reward coming.
  10. Getting organized does not always mean cleaning up the office and linen closet. It means that from this day forward you will start with a clean slate and make new rules for your life style. Once the rules are in place, you will have the same day each week for that yoga class, or long nap after work, or favorite TV show that you taped. And still get things done and feel in charge. Organizing brings a sense of control over your normal crazy life. It means that you live in the now, with an eye on your future. That way you can emotionally enjoy your life, not just suffer through another day. Live strong within your mind, body and spirit and that will reflect off onto your family, spouse and senior or parent.

Blessings on all that you do, because YOU keeping strong / gives your family the ability to live their lives feeling calm and joyful.

I hope this has helped you with ideas. 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.

“Change” the Word sends a Chill!

by francy Dickinson                 

Dear Francy: My mother is not coping well with any little change. It’s getting so bad, that I simply do things now without telling her. Can I help her through this?

Change, some of us will climb a steep mountain instead of facing change – I do understand but what I have been doing for a long time is trying to divert the senior’s thought pattern to the outcome of change, not the actual change itself.


  • If you’re feeling that a doctor you are using is simply not working for you and you want to change. Then you put on your change hat and say; “Mom, I have found this great doctor that’s really close to us and has a wonderful referral list. I talked to a friend about him and he gives him five stars, I made an appointment and we can see how we like him.”  No mention of the other doctor, if she asks, you just say we need someone for a back up just in case. Keep it calm and keep it safe.
  • You know your mom has to stop driving and you are trying to ease her into the idea and she kicking her way out of it. You then put on the change hat, “Mom I was thinking that when you decide to stop driving it would be fun to give your car to one of your grand daughters. Like Shelley, she is taking that bus to work everyday and it will be ages before she can save for a car, think how special it would be for her to drive your car and keep it in the family?”
  • Your dad knows that he has to stick to his diabetic diet, but he is making the change a nightmare. Off comes the son/daughter hat and on goes the change hat, “Dad, I just bought a new cookbook on diabetic cooking and it features desserts. I’m going to make you a different dessert each week. I want to start with this great pie they have on the cover.” When you get to the house with pie in hand, make sure you leave with all the cookies, candy and goodies he has stashed away. Replace them with no sugar treats and remember carbs are like sugar, so the bread needs to be wheat instead of white. But make the change out well worth the fuss!
  • Your senior is really unhappy in their retirement place. A change of living is going to take place and that is a worst change of all. Change hat ready? ” Mom, I walked through a care center right by my place the other day. It is such a close drive and we could have lunch together if you were over there. I love the way they do the colors in the rooms and their food was so nice, the people are so kind and I loved it. I want you to be happy again so we can spend more time together. Let’s go over and walk through together.”

See what I mea? Always talk about a cheery outcome, not the change. Make the change, yes…but make it with a feeling of positive movement instead of leaving something good behind. Think forward and dangle a carrot. If you want a young child to eat veggies, you always dangle a carrot, like dessert in front of him/her. So do it now. When you move we will have to get you some new pillows or a couple new comfortable robes or slippers, or go over and have lunch with her each Friday and see if you can get your siblings to join you. Those are the payoffs and that is how change is done without so much fuss.

If there is a lot of fuss. The truth is, you are the caregiver and you make the decisions. Making sure they are kind and just – the decisions are on you and you have to be the “mom” here and there with no guilt attached. Just as you said no to your kids- this is a – we will do this change – to your senior. It’s the hard part of giving care. Sometimes loving care does not make you popular.

Please do go to my website and click on my new BlogTalk Radio Show icon  and have a listen to my radio shows. I cover, Senior Care Tips, Making the Most of Your Doctor Visits and Moving Mom out of the Family Home….it’s fun listening, I know you’ll enjoy it! The shows are on demand so you listen when ever you want to and you just click on the PLAY button…easy breezy-

Thanks for all you do for your mother…francy

Senior is Ready for a Move, Yeah!

Dear Francy; Mother just told me she was ready to sell the house and move. She is on such a budget that she wants out. I live out of town and she wants me to do the house move. Now what?

OK, a couple of things to note. Do not say, no…just tell her you need to budget your time. You will give her every other weekend for the next two months and then the house will go up for sale. She has to get her name on a listing for a new home and tell them she will actually be ready to move in 90 days. Yes, the house may not be sold, but she will be tucked in her new place and on her way to her new life. Make the time frame larger if you like, but set a time frame.

Keep these ideas on your list:

*  There are companies, usually run by women – that actually take the things that you do not want to move and sort through them for sale and for donation. So that means that you can sort over your mother’s things and have a keep, give and dump pile and stick to it.
* Do not try to have a garage sale. If you find things that have real value, put them on eBay and enjoy the proceeds or gift them to family.
* Take a young person with you each weekend. If you have a teen great, if not – take a teen you know who wants to earn some money. $20 dollars a day is $40 a weekend and add $10 to make it fifty as a bonus- if they do a great job. You need to have a younger back and someone to diffuse the emotions that come with a big move out of the family home.
*  Your mother will want everything given to family. Family will not want hardly anything from her. So, prepare her. for If you need to just tell your niece to take the item and drop it off at the thrift store, do so. You don’t want your mom to think her life of things has no value.  
* Get in mind where your mother is moving and only take the things she needs. No way is she going to rent a storage locker. That is not in the plan. She takes what she needs and will fit into the next part of her life, the rest is given, sold or dumped.
* Do not allow her to take your Dad’s tools or your Dad’s lawn mower, even if he loved it. She has to keep on plan. If she is insisting, then put it in a pile, of Think if Overs after a few weeks of sorting she will gladly go back to the pile and give it all away. Things just have to be processed through.
*  No towels can go, no old sheets and blankets can go, no clothes from the ’80-’90’s are on the go pile. All of her clothes to take have to be re-washed or cleaned for the move. Buy new hangers for them. Go ahead and get the Huggable Hangers from HSN, the whole world loves those hangers and they allow for more clothes per foot of hanging space.
*  Downsize her bed to a Queen or Double size and be prepared for a good mattress. Then when she gets to her new place, new towels and bed linens can be purchased so she feels all new.
*  Take all of the family pictures and give the job of scanning them into digital format to a younger family member and pay them for the process. What you can then do is put her favorites in a couple of the new pictures frames that load up with digital pictures and have a rotating feature so she can view them all! All the rest get saved on drives that the family can enjoy, too!
* Do not take dishes that are old and pans that she got for her wedding. There are newer things that she can buy that will fit a smaller home or apartment. Just because it still works, does not mean she keeps it. She needs to have a fresh start.
* All the tools for the garden should be given to a garden club or local pea patch. All the workshop tools should go to a charity. All the old computers can be donated without the hard drives.
*  Have her pick out about six pieces of art work for the walls of her new place and the rest goes to he sorting piles. Have her pick out one box of books that she loves, the rest goes to the sorting pile. Have her decide if she really wants to do the hobby she always wanted, has she done anything on the hobby since she retired? If not…off it goes to the sorting pile.
*  The quicker you sort and go through the house the easier it is for her. Start with the rooms she does not use often, then come down to the last four, living, kitchen, bedroom and bath. Those stay to the end, they will be the hardest ones for her.
*  Keep telling her how well she is doing. With every thing she puts in the sorting pile, say – “Yeah, good job mom!” and mean it. This move is the hardest thing she will have done in ages. Do not push her over items. They just go into the “Wait and see”
* Get an air cleaner, sorting can cause lots of dust. Save the paperwork and office stuff till the end. She only needs tax info for a few years depending on her situation. Ask her CPA for a time frame for keeping her files.
*  When she gets a new place in her mind, the furniture and other things she wants to take will be so much easier. Get her a picture of where she is going. Start to look and get on the waiting list in the retirement center, apartments, village or center.
*  Take only a couple of coats. Raincoat, shopping coat, winter coat. Take only shoes that will fit her “now” lifestyle. Take only purses she uses and jewelry she wears. All the rest are gifted to the family members.
*  Bank boxes need to be sorted and closed if there is nothing important in them, or relocated closer to you or her new home.
*  Have her gift her old TVs and buy a new flat screen one to fit her new home. Records, Cd’s and anything else in that vein should be given away unless she really uses them. You can buy her a small MP3 player and put her favorite tunes on the player for her to have and enjoy and the actual original can be given away.
*  Get her a laptop and a small printer and have her get used to using the Internet and simple tasks online. So she can enjoy time on her own, looking up recipes and keeping in touch with family. Keep her in the NOW not in the past.
*  Her garden furniture can be placed in the driveway with FREE signs on it and the neighbors will enjoy using them. The plants she enjoys can be gifted to families for their yards with little notes of where to plant them and where she got them.
*  Have her write notes on family pieces like jewelry, art, object of art and so on, telling a story of where it came from and when so they can enjoy the history of the family as well as the object.
*  Keep a small recorder with you and while she goes through things, she can tell you about their history and you can just record the conversation. This is a good way for her to work out her pain of leaving years of living behind her.
*  Mentally moving is hard and you need to encourage her to keep going, keep her eye on the goal of a smaller home all clean with new things and her favorite older things all happy together. Encourage her to move closer to you so you can care for her in the years to come. Give her memories of the move by taking pics on your cell phone and sending them to your family. She will get a kick out of the whole adventure.
NO moving is not fun. NO she is not going to be a nice person to be around. YES, you can do this if you take it easy, stick to it like a job over a period of a couple of months or less and then be strong. Your upbeat personality will make the move so much easier for your mom. When in doubt just laugh. Laughing and teasing will get you farther than arguments. So smile and get this done. New changes are always for the best…old times were great but today is the important day. She gets to spend lots of days with her daughter in the process and that will be her best gift from the move.
Thank you for giving your mom your love and time. Even if you do not give it with the biggest open heart. You are still giving it. Tell your family, this too will past. Get in the car and go for it girl!
Please do stop by my website and review all the other tips I have there. Remember if your mother needs special care I have a FREE Senior Care Placement Service that will review the situation and find a place where she can be cared for with kindness. PS just finished my Care Givers Workbook 101…it is a great review to help you will the steps of care in the future with your mom!

Gardening Over for Senior in Care

by francy Dickinson             

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, francy

Clear it Out and Make it New for Senior Care

Dear Francy; I am helping my mother in her own home and she has it filled with stuff that I am not suppose to “touch” How can I get rid of this stuff?

Not easy, is it? I always make projects like this as upbeat as I can and that starts with you. You have to have a good attitude and “think” update not sort and throw. Lightly talk to her about going through the memories and making notes on things so her grandchildren will understand what things meant to her. Let her think about the project. It will seem so overwhelming that she will not want to even start it. When you’re unwell, old piles of magazines and rooms full of storage are just one more horrible reminder of old age.

Next you set yourself up for one visit a week to tackle a room or part of a room. You might start with something safe, go through the cupboards in the kitchen. You can get rid of old food stuffs and sort through pans and dishes that she no longer needs. Take a few boxes and mark them with the grand children’s names (or whom ever she is close to) and begin to give a little bit of this and that to each box, plus one for Charity. Do not mark it “throw away” Let her feel it is all going to a good home.  Old kitchen items may seem used, but they can be special to some folks. Just go through the cupboards and move the dishes she will use on a daily basis down to where she can reach them. Maybe it is time for her to use her “good” dishes for everyday…and get rid of the collection of plates she might be using now. Change the shelf paper to fresh and new. Clear and clean up the drawers and let her feel it’s done for her convenience. Not to mention how helpful it will be for the grand kids to have kitchen things to use. Always praise her step by step, it is a hard thing to say goodbye to little memories and she needs to feel that its worth it. Best to have a little treat to eat during breaks and talk about all the nice old memories, that will make her feel this is worth the stress.

Then you begin again in the bathroom. Go over the old towels and throw them out and bring her a couple of sets of pretty new towels. Clean up the place as you move around and make sure the drawers are fresh and clean and then make sure her tooth products are easy to use. You might want to get her an electric toothbrush to make her tooth brushing easier and better. Throw all old medications and over the counter stuff away and make labels for things so she knows what is where. As your memory is stressed, things are so confusing, make it easier by getting it all sorted and ready to go. If you have someone that would come in and give the bathroom a new paint job, do it. If you have some loose caulking around the old tub or shower, freshen it up, that is easy to do. Getting a new faucet will make the drips go away and little things like the newer light bulbs that are power savers lets her feel, “green”. So the point is, you clean but you update slightly and make her “feel” its special. A few new towels and a shower curtain…can make it feel so good to her. Remember remove all scatter rugs and bathroom rugs, those are waiting to trip her. I like to put a phone in the bathroom, that’s where loads of folks fall or get sick and to have a phone by the toilet makes it so much safer. Oh, and don’t forget to put in handrails after you paint, one by the toilet and one on the bath tub, or shower area.

If you’re going to go through an older bedroom that is now a mess of storage boxes — tell her you need to have the room clean and clear in case you or a friend has to stay over night with her. Go through the closets and give away the older clothes to charity, make sure you express the need for clothing in times of trouble for other people to use. Do not talk about garage sales…you are stressed enough and so is she, just gift things to the Universe and you will both feel better. Change the bedding and once again, buy some new sheets at a discount house so its all fresh. If you can do it- paint the room when you’re done and always keep in mind, that neutral colores are best. They will ready the place for sale if that has to happen down the line.

Her bedroom should be last, it’s always hard to go through personal things in someones bedroom. Better to start in the kitchen, dining and living room. Giving away or marking paintings and collectibles with names of who will get what in times ahead. Then go to the bathroom and hall closets, on to the spare rooms and other storage then back to her immediate sitting room and her bedroom for last.

Remember as she ages, her clothing habits will change. All the old long gowns and cocktail dresses can be given to some cute young neighbor that will love the retro style. Her night gowns and such will be used more and her casual and comfort clothes will be her daily favorites Leave a nice dress or two for family functions, all else can go out and if you get a lot of pressure, tell her she has a gift card coming to get her something new. You will find that changing the hangers in the closet so they all match and cleaning out old shoes and purses will free up space and allow her to feel fresh again. You might have to bring in an air filter for a while, lots of dust can bother folks with lung problems.

I suggest you do all of this with an attitude that it may take a few months to go from project to project, so be brave and dig in. But and this is a big “but” if you think you do not have time to finish an area, then wait till you do. The finished projects, clean, clear and fresh paint will give her confidence that this is a project that will free her of worry.

 I put all the pictures and things in a big plastic storage bin. As I went over for visits we would go through the bin and mark the pictures to scan in the scanner so the family can enjoy them. I put post a notes on the back with little notes of who and what was happening in the picture. Then I put as many as I could in photo albums around the living room, so visitors could look up their childhood pictures and have something fun to talk about with Grandma!

Now, that this is done, you can rest assured that when time comes for her to make a move out of her long time home, most of the work is already done. I have a TIP for making sure the family feels they all got remembered equally. Take your digital camera with you and as you gather together little remembrances for family and friends bring the box to the dining room table or floor and lay out all of the contents and flash a picture. That way, when you are finished and any one says…they got more, or who got that? You can print up a page of pictures with the names of the received collections and everyone can see that you were fair.

Newspapers and magazines…have to go. You will have rodents if you keep such things around the house. So make sure you call ahead and have a family member with a truck ready to take a load of stuff to the dump. That way it is out of sight and away – no dropping things in the garage. Once the house is clear, its time to steam clean the floor and finish the painting. Get it ready to sell in your mind…and allow your mom to enjoy the fresh clean surroundings while she lives there, instead of after she leaves. New throw pillows in the living room, new covers for the dining room chairs, re-potting old plants in new updated pots and you have a new start.

Good luck, since I have done this job over and over again for senior friends and family…I can tell you that its nasty but really rewarding. Pain of change leaves when the senior sees the fresh new rooms clean and clear. When they open closets with just a few coats leaving room for guests to use the closets. See through plastic containers with labels to reminds what is where makes life more organized and easy. The seniors daily life takes on a new kick for them…so don’t give up or give in. It has to be done.

Just remember, keep your energy up and your voice tone up. Make hard decisions something you joke about not argue about. You can always have a box marked “wait and see” and they can place things in it and think over them. You will see that once the project takes on a forward motion that “wait and see” box will be emptied and on its way to a new home.

Please visit my website for other tips that will help you through the care giving of your loved ones. It can be lonely out there all by yourself. Let me help you with ideas to keep you going and your senior happier and well adjusted

Thanks francy Dickinson