Thursday, August 29, 2013

Practical Tips from Caregivers.

I was looking for something on and came across some tips offered by caregivers for caregivers. They are wonderful ideas that are easy to put to use, practical, and will not make the elderly parent or family member feel awkward. They are...
(picture from

Parkinson' Nighttime Safety: "My mom has Parkinson's and lives with me, but I still worry about her getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. So I bought one of those push lights that stick to the wall for her room. Then I cleared out a space in her closet and put a potty chair in there. At night, I bring the chair out and set it by her bed. She likes that she doesn't have to walk far from bed, and I get a better night's sleep." -- Kate, from Alabama City, Alabama

Keeping Up With Dad: “Dad tends to wander off into parts of the house or yard without telling me, so I bought a carabiner clip and put some old keys that I don’t use any more on it. It’s like a cat’s bell that I can hear (but it isn’t insulting), and even though he no longer drives I think he likes having keys. He even wears them now when we go to the store. I can hear him three aisles over.”
-- Thomas, from Castle Rock, Colorado

Lullabies for Mom: "Mom needs to go to bed earlier than I do, but she doesn’t want to stay back in her room alone. I moved an old alarm clock that has a CD player in it into her bedroom and bought some music she likes -- Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney. Now I hear her singing herself to sleep." -- Janie, from Port Joe, Florida

A Collection of Scarves: "Mom’s hair is really thinning, and she’s quite self-conscious about it. She doesn’t want to wear a wig or a hat, but she has taken to scarves and has just a little bit of her hair fluffed out the front. We’ve started collecting them wherever we go: antique stores, nearby small towns. Now she’s known as the scarf lady, and people give her scarves as gifts."
-- Kathleen, from Augusta, Georgia

Read more here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Alzheimer's & Eating.

(picture from Sams Club site) In reading our copy of 'Healthy Living Made Simple' from Sams Club, the September/October 2013 edition, I found they offer some advice about meals.

While I have not found this magazine online yet to refer to, I thought I would share an article in it titled "Alzheimer's and eating: a unique burden", by Michele Mongillo, RN. All of us have heard how this disease changes people - their behavior, memory, thinking. It affects daily life. Nutrition can be an issue; we have all heard that certain foods MAY slow it down, there is no fix. But the article states, that it is best if the elderly person can eat a well-balanced diet - to stay strong and maintain a healthy weight. Of course, there is always the fact that your family member may not remember if they ate - been there!!

The article says that if you are the one planning the meal, try to offer a wide selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Cut the food into bite sized pieces -- makes it easy to pick up with a utensil or fingers. Plus it makes the food easy to chew and swallow. Allow foods with high water content (since they may not drink enough) like soups, fruit, & smoothies. If the person has visual issues, there may be problems distinguishing food on their plate -- limit the amount and types of food being served. Even if it is a favorite, they may not recognize it. Here too, it may be helpful to avoid dishes, tablecloths, napkins that have a busy design.

If you are going out, places with a lot of noise might be too distracting, so choose one with a quieter atmosphere. If at home, eat meals without the radio or TV.

Some of this may be trial and error. From personal experience now -- if there are any other medical issues, you may want to talk to your doctor or dietitian. Mom had to have low-sodium foods, she had a heart condition and high blood pressure. I had to watch her potassium intake (among other things) with her being on dialysis. We had to change from her favorite drink, Ensure, to Nepro (which she did not like as much but we found ways to doctor it up). Several talks with the dietitian at the dialysis center, and many handouts later, we were able to shop for foods and herbs to make things taste better.

I did find a similar post on the Alzheimer's Association website. Read here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thinking About the Future.

I received an email with a post from BrightStar about making sure that everyone, from senior citizens to those with disabilities be allowed to live with dignity and independence in a supportive community. For those in Texas, their agency offers services for senior citizens, those with disabilities, and family caregivers to help people stay in their own homes longer. Contact them directly. Please check with your local social service agencies for possible options for you and your family in your area.

This started me thinking, again (my kids would say 'so that's what that smell is'), what will happen when we get too old to take care of Will?? We have thought of guardianship, the type that will authorize someone to take him in and provide the help he needs. We just haven't thought of anyone we would like to ask yet. Our other 2 boys, we can only hope, will step in but you never know where they will be, if they will have a career that will keep them travelling or moving, if they will have a spouse, who may not be comfortable taking in a special needs person (especially a male who may need personal hygiene help). Some groups homes are very good, others have not been the best for people so you hear through the news or grapevine of families. Kidding we ask our boys about taking care of us in our old age. The response?? We'll find a nice nursing home for you. So again, kidding, I mention to people -- how about an assisted living type of place that will take elderly parents with a special needs son or daughter?? There could be a suite type of 'apartment', in another wing of the community, which would allow parents to continue to live with their son or daughter AND get the help everyone may need!! Respite care is right on the premises, so the parents could get some time off. There could be activities just for the special needs group so they will not disrupt the elderly folks who may not be understanding of the noises or gestures or activities of the son/daughter. Also this way, should one of them need a nursing home placement, hopefully they can stay right in the community, so everyone can visit - constant family contact can be good for all. The displacement that the special needs person finds or feels when a parent 'moves out', will be minimal - they will just be in another room in another building.

I don't know if something like that would work, but it does seem to settle some problems. How this may work financially, not sure. Private pay or will Medicare or Medicaid be able to help. It seems to me, one bill for one placement, for similar services by people already there, would be a great deal. This way too, the family would know that the son or daughter would be taken care of when the parents pass away. Anyone out there think the same?? Anyone familiar with this system want to discuss this further with me??

Monday, August 26, 2013

Always Looking for Advice for Caregivers.

Pictures of Will's confirmation. Mimi & Papa and Vovo (grandmother in Portuguese). Taken Spring 2012.
Talking to people who are taking care of a loved one, whether it is an elderly parent or special needs child, stress always comes into the conversation. We don't want to admit it, it feels like you are a weak person, like you can't do what those who have not done it, might consider like a job. "Just schedule it, just better your use of time management, just let one other thing go -your kids can wait." Raise your hand - how many have heard something like this. BrightStar Care of Southwest Houston, from Caregiver Junction had a post regarding 'what do family caregivers really need?'. Besides the outward tired look, caregiving can also lead to other health issues: infectious diseases, depression, sleep deprivation, premature aging, and higher mortality rate.

What does BrightStar say about it? Cognitive incapacity does have an important indirect effect through its influence on disruptive behavior and social functioning. It is important to find ways to deal with the disruptive behavior and declining social function. There are many ways to approach both of these, including day care centers for dementia patients and behavioral analysis of the disruptive behavior. Asking for help isn’t easy but these issues are difficult to handle alone.

Get help from the community resources available to you, seek out and accept respite care, learn new skills and acquire the tools you need to succeed.

Don’t see yourself as an island. A different study that showed that caregivers need more than just social support. It is critical to your health that you receive education, counseling, and/or direct services. It is important that you experience peer support and share the stressful but also rewarding experience of caregiving. However, we also need to acquire new tools to help us deal with new situations, we also need to invest in stress relief.

*** As you consider your journey as a caregiver don’t make your loved one your total focus. This is easier said than done but if you are going to finish your journey as a whole, healthy person it is important you keep part of your attention on your own needs.

Can't say it enough - use local resources: friends, senior centers, social service agencies, religious leaders. Ask for someone to take over for a time, look for respite care, day care centers. Don't feel like you have to do it all yourself.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Some Benefits of Adult Daycare for the Caregiver.

(picture from ElderCarelink)
ElderCarelink sent a post reminding us of how important it is for the caregiver to take a break. According to their post, a journal called The Gerontologist, found that people taking care of elders with dementia had less stress when the elders took advantage of adult day care services. The research was done by Stephen Zarit from Pennsylvania State University, who found many benefits for those taking advantage of these services.

Caregivers found: lower care-related stresses, better experiences during the day, lower anger levels, reduces non-care stressors that could lead to depression.

There were advantages for the elderly parent / family member as well. Read On .......

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Early Intervention: Good for the Young and the Old

Early Intervention in the school system is a wonderful program for the very young.

With school starting and the new screening schedule sent to us screeners (I have been a certified pre-school and kindergarten screener for about 5 years), I thought it a good idea to remind families with young children about this great service. Thinking about it more, early intervention is good for families taking care of elderly parents as well.

Early intervention applies to children of school age or younger who are discovered to have or be at risk of developing a handicapping condition or other special need that may affect their development. Early intervention consists in the provision of services such children and their families for the purpose of lessening the effects of the condition. Early intervention can be remedial or preventive in nature--remediating existing developmental problems or preventing their occurrence.
Early intervention may focus on the child alone or on the child and the family together. Early intervention programs may be center-based, home-based, hospital-based, or a combination. Services range from identification--that is, hospital or school screening and referral services--to diagnostic and direct intervention programs. Early intervention may begin at any time between birth and school age; however, there are many reasons for it to begin as early as possible.
(from 'Kids Source Online)

Both our oldest and middle boys started in a local program pretty much as soon as they moved in with us since they were starting to be enrolled while in foster care. If you have any concerns about your child, you should start with your pediatrician. In MY opinion, it is best to make sure your pediatrician feels that there may be a developmental concern and he/she can refer you to an agency or school program. Our 2 boys went to a program in a facility that is basically for developmentally delayed children and adults. But after a year maybe a year and a half, they moved onto pre-schools. Our oldest (who still wants to be anonymous) continued on through the regular school curriculum. Willie continued on through Special Ed with an IEP. Either way, the Early Intervention program was great. I was able to stay during their sessions and watch and they loved it as the teachers 'played with them' and worked with their plan.

The same concept of early intervention is good for the elderly. My mother was concerned as she got older and started developing slight tremors since Parkinsons runs in the family and was forgetting things occasionally. We also have dementia, Alzheimer's, cancer, heart conditions, diabetes -- my future should be an interesting roll of the dice -- maybe whatever I get, my mind may be at a point that I won't care!! Close to the end of her time, she did have mental issues that we were not sure if it was dementia or delirium (see said post "Delirium or Something Else").

Anyway, what I was getting to WAS mom decided that she wanted to get checked out and was referred to a local Memory and Aging Clinic dealing with the mental status in the elderly. We went several times over a couple of years to get tested, reviewed, have a check-up. The doctors were wonderful, very easy to talk to, work with, patient, pleasant. They made the experience very comfortable. While mom was being tested, I was filling out a questionnaire dealing with how I see her going through her daily life skills. The testing did not take long and it was some visual and some memory testing. Also there was an exam for the Parkinson's.

According to them, there was no worry about the Parkinson's and the level of forgetfulness was normal for someone in her a 80's. This put mom's mind at ease. It was great because they were always available for talking on the phone if we had any concerns or questions. The doctors said that if at any of her future visits they found that there was evidence of dementia or Alzheimer's, there are very good new medicines that have slowed its progression. The doctors were very confident in trying these meds. They said there has been good results with these meds when given at the first signs of Alzheimer's.

We have tried talking to my in-laws since they have issues but they will not budge on going. I suggested to a friend whose mom is having memory issues to try and take her. I don't know if they don't want to find out there may be a problem or they don't want to go to a clinic based in a hospital known for being a place for people with mental issues and addictions. Either way, it is better to go to get checked out no matter where the program is than to worry your family about your condition. If there are meds out there that help, take them and you can spend more quality time with your family.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Shingles: You Hear About It All the Time


My husband's parents had a visit from relatives who live in another state. They had not seen each other for awhile and decided to continue catching up on news, health news over dinner. What a lovely conversation 'shingles' is ... over dinner... My father-in-law had a case which covered his left arm and part of his side. I don't know how many people have had someone they know get shingles but it is NOT something you get over fast nor is it something easily dealt with. My mom had it and lived in her nightgown, not leaving her house, for about 6 weeks. My father-in-law had it when he went to the hospital and then to rehab; it even affect his left arm where he could not raise it up. It took him about 2 months and had to continue with physical therapy.
(picture from Bing). The Mayo Clinic says: Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who's had chickenpox may develop shingles. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus can enter your nervous system and lie dormant for years. Eventually, it may reactivate and travel along nerve pathways to your skin — producing shingles. Symptoms can start early before you even see it: pain, burning, numbness or tingling; a red rash that begins a few days after the pain; fluid filled blisters that ooze then crust over; itching; some people get fever and chills, general achiness, headache and fatigue.
The one good thing that my father-in-law had was that he was already in the hospital when the rash manifested itself and was able to get the medicine intravenously right away. I took my mother to her doctor a couple of days after -- we were thinking it had to do with a new soap!! The doctor gave her medicine but it took a lot longer to have an effect on it. All in all -- it is very painful. Like I was told, even wearing clothes can hurt, putting a sheet over you can hurt. gives possible reasons why the chicken pox virus can rear its ugly head again: an aging immune system (most common in those over 50 -- YEA ME!!), stress ( OK - #2 for me), medications that weaken immunity like chemo or meds given after transplants, infections that weaken immunity - like HIV.
Although you cannot catch shingles like you can chicken pox, it is best if you are wary, to stay away or use gloves while the patient has blisters that have not healed.
The Mayo Clinic also lists possible complications. Postherpetic neuralgia. For some people, shingles pain continues long after the blisters have cleared. This condition is known as postherpetic neuralgia, and it occurs when damaged nerve fibers send confused and exaggerated messages of pain from your skin to your brain.
Vision loss. Shingles in or around an eye (ophthalmic shingles) can cause painful eye infections that may result in vision loss.
Neurological problems. Depending on which nerves are affected, shingles can cause an inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), facial paralysis, or hearing or balance problems.
Skin infections. If shingles blisters aren't properly treated, bacterial skin infections may develop.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Taking Dad or Mom to a National Park??

A cousin of my husband was telling us this weekend about a pass to the National Parks. I found on the pass he was talking about. Military service personel, their families and dependents, most members of the US Reserve and National Guard (talk to someone first to check on availability) can get FREE passes to all the national parks. A free annual entrance pass to National Parks Service parks, Fish and Wildlife Service parks, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation sites. The pass admits the pass owners and any accompanying passengers in a private vehicle at sites that charge per vehicle, or the pass owner and up to additional 3 adults at sites that charge per person. There are no entry fees for children 15 and under. The pass does not cover or provide a discount on extra amenity fees such as camping, boat launch or interpretive fees. You need forms of ID -- CAC card, DoD Form 1173. You can get passes at federal recreation sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees. Here is a list. Check it out for your parents and family.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Words of Wisdom.

Of all things granted us by wisdom, none is better or greater than friendship."

If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is That a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom.. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself...

In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up! That's the answer, the escape route and the solution to any problem!Just look up.
Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, But faith looks up!

Live simply,
love generously,
care deeply,
speak kindly and
trust in our Creator who loves us.

Popular Posts

4 Signs of Caregiving Stress Overload

ElderCarelink email posts 4 signs that should not be overlooked by you, the caregiver, or a close family member or friend. They report that even though the immediate caregiver may not be helping in direct care, the mind is never far from the needs of the older person, thinking about meals, falling, medications. Take the opinion of a family member or friend if they are telling you that you are stressed. Four signs: you skip your own physicals; you isolate yourself from others; you eat and/or drink too much for good health; you are short tempered with the elder, your spouse or your children. If any or all of these sound familiar, take a break no matter how short in order to recharge. For more information on caregiver stress see ElderCarelink


You can check out my ranting and stream of consciousness writing about looking at adult service providers with Will.

A Caregiver's Poem

I was looking through a 'Caregiver's Blog: Senior Care Support' and came across a poem that was shared by a writer, Dana, from the blog. The poem was written by Becky Netherland and Dana's grandmother shared it with her. I thought it was great and there is not much to say about it - just read!!! Enjoy!!

Grandma’s Pearls of Wisdom:
(picture from Caregivers Blog)

I’ve traveled paths you’ve yet to walk
Learned lessons old and new
And now this wisdom of my life
I’m blessed to share with you
Let kindness spread like sunshine
Embrace those who are sad
Respect their dignity, give them joy
And leave them feeling glad
Forgive those who might hurt you
And though you have your pride
Listen closely to their viewpoint
Try to see the other side
Walk softly when you’re angry
Try not to take offense
Invoke your sense of humor
Laughter’s power is immense!
Express what you are feeling
Your beliefs you should uphold
Don’t shy away from what is right
Be courageous and be bold
Keep hope right in your pocket
It will guide you day by day
Take it out when it is needed
When it’s near, you’ll find a way
Remember friends and family
Of which you are a precious part
Love deeply and love truly
Give freely from your heart
The world is far from perfect
There’s conflict and there’s strife
But you still can make a difference
By how you live your life
And so I’m very blessed to know
The wonders you will do
Because you are my granddaughter
And I believe in you.

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All pictures, unless otherwise identified, are from 'Clipart'.

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