Archive for the ‘Tips on Caregiving’ Category

Alzheimer’s and Managing Money are Challenging Eldercare Issues

Monday, November 1st, 2010

When someone shows signs of dementia, or Alzheimer’s, one of the initial concerns is about finances. How are Mom and Dad managing their money?  Are they paying their home and car insurance? Are they paying their utility bills? Are they easy targets of elder abuse?

Determining when a person with dementia needs someone else to manage their money, or when someone is no longer capable of entering into a legal contract is not always easy. There is no exact answer or solution. Often doctors, lawyers and financial advisers are working in a “gray area.”

If you have concern that a loved one may not be capable of managing their money on their own, you may want to talk to them directly about it. Many times they will deny there is any trouble, and will say they don’t need help. Chances are they know they need help, and they are afraid. They don’t want to lose their independence or dignity. Some people won’t know when they need help. Talking about it opens the door for accepting assistance.

A next step would be to accompany your loved one to their physician’s visit, notifying the doctor ahead of time of your concerns. It is often times easier for an older person to accept a directive from a doctor rather than an adult child.

If your loved one needs help, you can assist in many ways, ranging from: monitoring their accounts online for suspicious transactions; helping them write their checks and managing the checkbook, and taking over all of their bill paying and financial responsibilities. Watch for potential elder fiduciary abuse through junk mail schemes, such as letters telling them they won the lottery or notices asking them to send money to “save their social security.”

This article touches on some of the thoughts and questions involved in the topic of elders and their finances. http://tiny.cc/ledrf

A geriatric care manager can be an excellent ally when talking to a loved one about difficult topics, or assess the situation neutrally and professionally.

Trust your instincts and watch for signs that your loved one may need more assistance. Be sensitive and compassionate, keeping in mind it is probably a sensitive and powerful issue for everyone involved.

Where are all the Eldercare Services?

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

I just came back from an elder abuse prevention meeting. There was a guest there whose dad was a victim of elder abuse recently. She was very upset that when she and her sister were looking for elder abuse resources, she couldn’t find them anywhere. Her dad has since died. This abusive situation (by a hired caregiver) created so much stress in their relationship that they didn’t get along the last year of his life. She hasn’t had a full nights sleep since. She’s hurt, mad and sad.

This renewed my passion for bringing all the services for eldercare services to ONE PLACE – This is why I created www.AgingPro.com.  My aim is that no other family member would lose sleep over edler abuse or be so hurt that they couldn’t find the best care for their loved one.

AgingPro.com brings all the eldercare services to one place, online. There are good people out there doing good work – it’s just very hard to find them!

We need support, marketing, and funding to make AgingPro.com truly the Google of Eldercare.

Spread the word – everything you need for eldercare is in one place. Come check us out!

Thank you for your support.

5 Tips for Visiting the Doctor

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

5 Tips for Visiting the Doctor

Preparation can help the trip to the doctor go more smoothly.  Here are some tips for success:
1.    Schedule the appointment at the best time of day for your client.  For example, the client I work with functions better in the afternoon.  There were times when we had to reschedule morning appointments for the afternoon because she didn’t want to get up, and therefore she wouldn’t cooperate with me.

2.    Ask the doctors office staff when their office is generally the least crowded.  Some clients may be upset by a full waiting room, or they just might not like crowds.  Visiting the office when there are fewer people will cut down on the time you will have to wait too.

3.    Bring along something for your client to eat, drink or do while you are waiting.  Any activity he or she enjoys can really help to pass the time.

4.    Have a friend go with you to the doctor so one of you can be with the client while the other is talking to the doctor.

5.    Call the doctors office on the day of your appointment before you leave to see if the doctor is running late, and adjust your arrival time.

Planning ahead before the appointment with the doctor can really make the visit a more positive and relaxed experience.

Achieving Goals Empowers People With Dementia

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

(Source: Alzheimer’s Society – UK)

“Achieving personal goals can help people in the early stages of dementia manage their condition, Alzheimer’s Society research has found.

Researchers at Bangor University, Wales found that people who received cognitive rehabilitation felt their performance of daily activities improved. Carers of those receiving the treatment also noted an improvement in their own quality of life.

Cognitive rehabilitation is a treatment where people with dementia work with health professionals to identify personal goals and develop strategies for achieving them. Goals were tailored to the participants’ specific needs and included things such as remembering details of jobs to be done around the house, maintaining concentration when cooking, learning to use a mobile phone and remembering the names of people at an exercise class. The cognitive rehabilitation group said they saw an improvement in their ability to carry out all of the chosen activities.”

Read the full story here

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with dementia, you might consider setting some short term goals – that can be measured and realistically completed.  Small steps works best!

21 Activities For People with Dementia

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Encouraging people with dementia to stay engaged and active can sometimes be a challenge if you haven’t done it before.  Below are 21 ideas to help you succeed. Be sensitive to the person’s abilities and desires.  Remember to keep the instructions simple and clear, pick the best time of day to engage the person, offer choices, be patient, flexible and creative and have fun!

1.  Physical activity – exercise (group or individual, walking, yoga)

2. Games, puzzles, crossword puzzles

3. Meal preparation (stirring, washing, mixing, tasting)

4. Housekeeping (folding, dusting, make the bed)

5. Music (listening to favorites, singing, live shows)

6. Work-type activities (safe items from the person’s professional work: a desk, papers to sort, tools)

7. Personal grooming (fix hair, do nails)

8. Gardening (watering, planting)

9. Massage (hand or foot, be sensitive to personal space issues)

10. Attending religious services

11. Magazines or books (pictures, familiar people or places)

12. Outings (art museums, coffee shop, beach)

13. TV (approprite and in small amounts, classic movies, Animal Planet, comedies like “I Love Lucy”)

14. Arts and crafts (meaningful and purposeful, not just to fill time)

15. Attend senior center or day care programs (when appropriate and the group’s ability levels match your needs)

16. Pet care (feeding, combing, petting)

17. Sorting (poker chips, coins, cards, silverware)

18. Engage with children (intergenerational activities)

19. Meditation and quiet time (soft music, low sensory input, holding soft animals and blankets)

20. Reminisce (structured discussions about old memories)

21. Eating (going for a favorite meal, ice cream shake)

Do you have other activities that have worked well?  Please let me know so I can post and share them with others!

How Can I Make My Aging Parents Do What I Want?

Friday, June 5th, 2009

I had two calls just today on a similar topic — How can I make my aging parents to “do what I want.” This question comes up a lot. The adult child sees mom or dad living in, what they consider, less than the best situation and the child thinks that things would be so much better if only they would do “X” (such as move closer to her, move to an assisted living or get caregiving in the home). The only problem is, Mom or Dad doesn’t want to do “X.”

The main thing to remember is this: People (everyone, including your parents) have the right to make their own decisions (even if they look like really bad decisions to you) for as long as they have “capacity.” Basically, “capacity” means that they understand the consequences of their decisions – the ability to receive, evaluate and communicate a decision to others. If they have advanced dementia or are in a coma, they probably don’t have capacity. Physical frailty is not sufficient in determining capacity.

If they have capacity, you can talk to your older loved one to see if they want to cooperate with what you have in mind, but if they don’t want to, nobody can make them. If you feel they aren’t safe and they refuse to get help, you could report them to Adult Protective Services (APS, available nation wide).They will do an assessment and determine if the person is safe or if they need a guardian. Powers of Attorney are documents a person signs, designating someone else to make decisions for them if they are no longer able to (such as for health care or financial decisions).

Ideally, everyone involved would talk and come up with a plan to support the older loved one in getting what they want while remaining safe and happy. If your mom or dad doesn’t want to change, the best you can do it make a “Plan B” – an alternative plan to implement when the “crisis” happens. Usually, an incident like mom falling and breaking a hip forces change. If you have a Plan B, you can sleep easier knowing you won’t be caught by surprise, because you know what your options are.

Answers to all your eldercare questions, and options for “Plan B” can be found in AgingPro’s Eldercare Basics E-Book. http://www.agingpro.com//store/Eldercare_Basics.htm

You can have peace of mind when you know you’ve looked at all your options, and made the best decision you could in the moment.

Watch the “Alzheimer’s Project”

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Beginning Sunday, May 10, 2009, tune into HBO’s “THE ALZHEIMER’S PROJECT,” a groundbreaking documentary series that will change the way America thinks about Alzheimer’s disease. This four-part film, airing over three nights exclusively on HBO, gives the public a rare inside look at the faces behind the disease and the forces leading us to find a cure. With Maria Shriver.


How to Survive a Hospital Stay

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

HOW TO SURVIVE A HOSPITAL STAY

THINGS TO BRING WITH YOU, or not TO THE HOSPITAL

1.  POWER OF ATTORNEY  – Make sure the hospital has copies of the patient’s healthcare durable power of attorney that states who will make decisions if the patient can no longer do so for themselves.
2. CONTACT INFORMATION – of family or involved loved ones
3. MEDICATION LIST – Make sure the hospital has the patient’s current list of all the medications your loved one takes.
4. MEDICAL HISTORY
If possible, bring a list of surgeries, doctors, previous tests run (and results) and diagnoses.
5. REMOVE ALL VALUABLES – Do not leave valuables with your loved one at the hospital
6. PERSONAL ITEMS – Things that are good to have are glasses, hearing aids and dentures, but be careful with them!  If you leave items such as glasses, a cane, a walker, or dentures, make sure they are labeled and also listed in the patient’s chart on the “personal belongings” sheet.

BEING AN ADVOCATE

1- PEOPLE TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH — Make friends with the discharge planner
– Get to know the nurses
2. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF – Make sure the caregivers / advocates are taking good care of themselves during the hospital stay.
3. HIRE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE – An advocate such as a geriatric care manager knows how to navigate the medical system. They are invaluable. You can search for the closest Professional Geriatric Care Manager on www.AgingPro.com’s Eldercare Directory.
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9 THINGS YOU NEED WHEN YOU LEAVE THE HOSPITAL:

Before your loved one leaves the hospital, make sure you have:

1. An understanding of your loved one’s condition and diagnosis, results of any tests, and any changes that have happened as a result of treatment during the hospital stay
2. A written medication list  (including dosage and potential side effects)
3. A written list of any needed follow-up physicians visits
4. An understanding of any problems or symptoms that may occur when the patient gets home – what to look for and when to call for help.
5. A written care plan with next steps
6. Any special equipment to prepare the home for your loved one’s return (hospital bed, home modification, rental equipment)
7. Arrangements for home health care or home care aid services- find out what services insurance will and will not cover
8. Education on any special needs your loved one may have when she arrives home
9. Transportation home, or wherever your loved one will be going.  Find out if insurance will pay for an ambulance, if necessary.

10 Tips to Successful Caregiving

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

10 Tips to Successful Caregiving

1)  Learn About the Resources Available to You. Consult books, websites, workshops and eldercare professionals. (Hint: You can find leads to many of these, including the latest caregiving information, at our website, www.agingpro.com.)
2)  Educate Yourself About Any Disease Involved. Education can relax your fears and give you clarity and strength.
3)  Take Care of Yourself First. Maintain your own physical and emotional health.  Avoid caregiver burnout – your family needs the caregivers to be healthy!
4) Learn Caregiving Techniques. Learn about topics such as: communication and organizational skills, managing the physical needs of your loved one, safety and emergency preparedness.
5)  Exercise Your Sense of Humor. Smile. You can go through difficult situations laughing or crying. If it’s going to be funny later, it can be funny now.
6)  Communicate with Doctors. Get to know your loved one’s physicians.  Ask questions, express concerns and discuss treatment options.
7)  Keep a Positive Focus. We can’t think positive all the time, but holding a positive focus about the strengths of your loved one and the blessings in the situation will help your attitude and emotions to stay “up.”
8)  Discuss the Situation With your Loved Ones.  Support and honesty are essential in navigating long term care.
9)  Look for the Blessings.  You might be surprised at the hidden gifts that caregiving brings – keep your eyes open. You find what you focus upon.
10) Ask for Help. You don’t have to be alone. www.AgingPro.com offers many free resources for caregiver support nationwide, to assist you.

6 Questions Caregivers Can Ask Themselves to Make This a Truly Happy Holiday Season

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Have you recently found yourself thinking about the upcoming holidays with a sense of dread? Perhaps you see yourself sitting at the table surrounded by your family, the smells of turkey and pumpkin pie wafting in from the kitchen, but you are overcome with a sense of sadness or disappointment. Now that things may be different with your parents, it’s a good time to ask yourself, what do I really want my holidays to look and feel like? Traditions are funny things. They can be comforting and depressing all at the same time. But you have the power to create the experience you truly want.

You might ask yourself these questions about what you really want this holiday season:

1. Do I like my family traditions just as they are, or am I participating to make someone else happy or comfortable?

2. Where do I want to be?

3. Who do I want to be with?

4. What experience am I looking for?

5. Is there a new tradition I want to start this year?

6. How can I get the experience I most desire?

Once you are clear about your ideal vision for your holidays, find a way to communicate that to the people closest to you. Families do not always embrace change right away, so be prepared for some resistance. If you are patient and allow your family to process the idea of making changes in a gradual way, you may be surprised by how many will eventually welcome the new traditions and thank you for leading the way to happier holidays for everyone!

Resting – for Caregiver Health

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Today, I’d like you all to stretch out of your comfort zones for 5 minutes for Me!   Today, I want you to just rest.  Yes, rest.  This could mean sleeping, or just sitting down and doing nothing.  Rest has a lot of value, including being restorative.

So, after you’re done reading this blog, please, go be somewhere just with you, turn off the lights and the phone and the pagers – put up a sign that says “unavailable for 5 minutes” and just rest.

Notice how you feel before and after your 5 minutes of rest. After resting for 5 minutes, celebrate and congratulate yourself for taking care of yourself and taking time for you! Leave the guilt behind.

If you’re like me, or other caregivers, taking time for yourself just to rest is an underutilized skill.  I remind myself regularly that rest is good and that it is productive – it just looks different than other types of productivity and the results are not always seen on the exterior.

Rest is important – it calms the nerves, decreases stress, and brings peace.

I want to hear from you – what do you do that brings you peace and calm?

Enjoy!

11 Warning signs that an older adult needs help

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Almost every one of us wants to remain living independently in our home for our entire life.  At some point, most older adults will need help to allow them to feel safe and happy in their home.  Caregivers often ask what are some warning signs that it is time for your loved on to get help.

There are many warning signs that will let you know it may be time to offer assistance to your aging loved one:

1. Unopened mail or unpaid bills piling up
2. Plants not watered
3. Trash not taken out
4. Clutter around the house more than usual
5. Clothes are dirty
6. Personal hygiene has declined
7. Lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities
8. Declining memory
9. Difficulty walking or increasing incidence of falling
10. Decreased judgment
11. Isolation

If your older loved one has one or more of these signs, you may want to talk to a professional about assessing the situation and discussing what type of care is needed.  Geriatric care managers do just that.  The eldercare directory on www.AgingPro.com offers a national searchable database of professional geriatric care managers. Just type in the zip code of your loved one and find the nearest resources.  The Caregiving 101 article also gives practical information for all stages of caregiving.

Patiently and lovingly talking with your loved one is a good approach.  Most older adults deny that they need help, “I’ve been doing this by myself for 85 years, why do I need help now!”  It is true that they have been doing fine for 85 years, but as we age, we frequently need help to continue to have the best quality of life, and to be safe.

What warning signs have you seen in your loved ones that made you know/wonder if it was time they needed help?  Share your experience here with other agingpro readers.

Thanks!

Caregiver health a priority

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

If you’re a caregiver, studies show that there are many health problems that you are vulnerable to.  It is very important that you “take care of yourself so you can help take care of others.”  This is our www.AgingPro.com motto.

4 Tips for today:

1)  Exercise. Move! It relieves stress and usually makes you feel better!

2)  Pray / Meditate. Prayer has been shown to decrease agitation in people with Alzheimer’s – so it would be good for caregivers and the person being cared for.  Relax, focus on your breathing, smile, connect.

3)  Eat right. I mean eat and drink what works for your body. You are the only one who knows what that is.  Be good to yourself, and cooperate with what works for you so you can enjoy increased energy and vitality!

4)  Find the information and resources you need. Part of the stress of caregiving is the stress involved  to navigate the fragmented senior services.  www.AgingPro.com includes articles, support and a national eldercare directory for all your eldercare needs – it brings everything eldercare to one place – so you can relax.

Remember, take good care of yourself today.  Enjoy.

What have you found works best to keep you in balance and in good health while managing caregiving?

All the best,

Cheryl

Welcome to my blog

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Hi, I’m Cheryl Mathieu, Ph.D., M.S.W.  I’m a Certified Geriatric Care Manager in So. California, and founder of www.AgingPro.com.

I’ve created this blog to post interesting, informative and inspirational tips, tools and news for those involved in every aspect of eldercare – from family caregivers to professionals in aging. It is dedicated to helping you find what you need to provide excellent care to our older loved ones, and to making your life easier (and keep you healthy). I’m writing this blog because I believe that older adults need advocates, and that caregivers (paid and unpaid) need help accessing information and resources to do what they do – better and easier.

If you’ve had an aging loved one in need of help, you know well the challenges of navigating the healthcare system and caregiving.  I’m here to help you manage all the challenges of aging – so it can be a time filled with grace, joy and peace.  Imagine!  It is possible.

Welcome.  Feel free to read, explore and comment.

All the best,

Cheryl