How can I help my senior loved one enjoy the holidays?

The holidays can be difficult for seniors, but they don’t have to be. Being attentive to the needs of your loved one can make a huge difference in their holidays.

christmas for seniors

Here’s some things which make the holidays hard for     seniors and how you can make a difference in their life.

· LONELINESS:  Find ways for them to spend time with other people. Maybe there is a holiday party or event they can attend. Alternatively, friends or family could come and spend time with them.

· FEELINGS OF BEING A BURDEN: If your loved one is able to you could take them to serve at a soup kitchen or elsewhere. If they are unable to, you could help them wrap a couple gifts for those less fortunate or pack a box of goodies for Samaritan’s Purse.

alzheimers and christmas

· FAILING HEALTH: With failing health comes changes in what your loved one is able to do. Consider their limitations and find holiday things they are able to do. Some ideas include trying a new recipe or creating an ornament.

· LIVING IN A NURSING HOME OR FACILITY: Consider taking your loved one home for the day or going to spend the day with them. If the facility or community where they live is offering any holiday events consider attending them together.

· DEPRESSION: Listen when they need to talk even if it seems to always be negative talk. Sometimes depression stems from painful memories and a change in scenery or a visit can help. Be sure they are included in holiday festivities.

 

Christmas Gift Ideas for Seniors

Christmas for seniors

Photo Album or Scrapbook:  There are many website where you can order a custom photo book. These make a beautiful keepsake gift.

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Bathrobe or Slippers: Whether your senior loved one lives at home or in a facility, a new      bathrobe or slippers will be appreciated.

Hobby Related Items: If your loved one enjoys a particular hobby, get them something related: yarn for the knitter,  garden stool for the gardener, etc.

books for elderly

Books or Magazines:  If you know what they enjoy reading you could get them some books or a magazine subscription.

DVD’s or Netflix: If you know their viewing preferences DVD’s would make a great gift and you could never go wrong with a Netflix subscription.

Notecards and Stamps: An assortment of notecards and some postage stamps is always appreciated.

Help Pay the Bills: Consider paying the phone, cable or other expense for a month or two.  

Getting a Project Done: From a house project to house cleaning, either hire someone to perform the task or do it yourself. Either way it will be appreciated.

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Recognizing Veterans in Dover, NH

Veteran's Day is right around the corner. Get our your calendar and mark the date because there's an event coming up to recognize and honor our Veterans and their families. The event will be held the week prior to Veteran's Day on Monday November 6th, 2017.

Thank you to Wentworth Homecare and Hospice and Wentworth Douglass Hospital for hosting such an important event. 

If you are a veteran or your family member is be sure to stop by the event. 

Wentworth Homecare and Hospice

Focus on: Senior Care in Dover, Somersworth, NH and surrounding areas

Providing care for seniors is sometimes a joint effort between a VNA or Hospice agency and a Homecare agency.

Each of these types of agencies specialize in a certain aspect of care. We often partner with other agencies in our area to provide care for seniors, one such agency is Wentworth Homecare and Hospice.

The professionals at Wentworth Homecare and Hospice provide compassionate Hospice care for seniors as well as home health care for those in Dover, NH and the surrounding area. We partner with them by providing homecare or hospice assistance services for families to have complete senior care for their loved one. 

If you are seeking Hospice care or hospice care assistance in the Dover, NH area consider a partnership between Abundant Blessings Homecare and Wentworth Homecare and Hospice to fullfill your senior care needs. 

Recently Wentworth Homecare and Hospice held a discussion on dementia with specifics on Alzheimer's. This discussion was conducted by Holly Cande, a transitional care social worker and was held at Mast Landing where Abundant Blessings Homecare has an office and provides homecare services. 

Recently Wentworth Homecare and Hospice held a discussion on dementia with specifics on Alzheimer's. This discussion was conducted by Holly Cande, a transitional care social worker and was held at Mast Landing where Abundant Blessings Homecare has an office and provides homecare services. 

Focus on: Senior Services in Conway New Hampshire

If you are looking for activities, meals, educational programs, and/or transportation for seniors in the North Conway, NH area...look no further than the folks who care for seniors at the Gibson Center for Senior Services

The Gibson Center serve seniors in the Mount Washington Valley. They serve meals Monday through Friday and have a full calendar of events and activities which can be seen here. Their calendar includes everything from meals, exercise classes, activities, special events, classes and more. There is something for everyone. 

Senior Care in Conway NH

Check out this video about the Gibson Center to learn why they do what they do and about all the services and programs they offer.

Thank you Gibson Center for all you do to show your care for the Conway area seniors.

We're Hiring--Help Us Spread the Word

We're Hiring....By helping us spread the word you can win the following box of awesomeness!

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To enter, simply leave a comment on this facebook post. If you'd like another entry, you can go to our blog and leave a comment on the blog post at the following link:

http://abundantblessingshomecare.com/blog/2017/9/17/how-to-care-for-your-aging-parents-from-a-distance

We'd also love if you would share this post or the one on our Facebook page to help us get the word out but it's not required.

homecare giveaway

Abundant Blessings Homecare employees are not eligible but their family members are so share away. Facebook is not affiliated with this giveaway in any way.

Good luck and thanks for helping us out. It does not matter where you live, we'll mail the package if you are a distance from us. Drawing will end October 4th at 12 noon.

If you'd like to apply for a job visit our employment page.

Wakefield NH homecare

How to Care for Your Aging Parents from a Distance

How to Care for Your Aging Parents from a Distance

Being a long-distance caregiver can seem impossible but it can be done. Long distance caregivers are just as important as caregivers that are in the home providing the physical care.  As our family member ages, the caregiving that a family member can offer from a distance is vital. 

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Managing Caregiver Stress

Today is National Stress Awareness Day, Caregiver Stress is a very real problem for those caring for loved ones. There are some things which can be done to manage the stress. 

It’s an understatement that being a caregiver for an elderly loved one is stressful.

Caregiver stress is a very real problem and in general, by the time you accept that you are in the role of “primary caregiver”, the need to help your elderly parent is already advanced. You may have some “catch up work” to do so you can establish some controls over your aging parent’s medical situation, finances and lifestyle.

To make the stress of the task more acute, in many cases neither the caregiver nor the one being cared for like the situation and often the caregiver didn’t volunteer for the job. The senior citizen receiving the help is often hostile, resistant or even downright disagreeable to the necessary changes that the caregiver must implement. Because it is often the caregiver’s mom or dad being taken care of, there is the added challenge of established relationship norms, such as what they say has always been what goes. But now the caregiver may need to make some decisions and that reversal of roles is hard for both parent and child to get used to.

Caregiver stress can come from a variety of sources including the elderly senior citizen, expectations of other siblings and even from an internal high set of standards.

If you are a caregiver, you may have the attitude that “nothing but the best is good enough for my mommy or daddy”.  And while that sounds good in theory, being a caregiver is all about compromise. They may deserve your attention 24/7 but realistically if you can drop by for an hour a day and then spend the rest of your day taking care of your job, your kids, your spouse, your housework and, oh yes, yourself, that is probably a reasonable expectation.

So right up front, it’s good to recognize that as you settle into the job of primary caregiver for an aging parent, there is going to be an increase in stress in your life. Stress has been identified as one of the big causes of physical and mental health problems for adults. Some stress in life is expected and is good for us. But when caregiver stress gets added to everyday stress, it can begin to overwhelm you, you can go through a decline of your own health that is not good for you, the one you are caring for or anyone in your family either.

The family of the caregiver, can assist the caregiver in many ways.

The caregiver is on the forward line of a struggle that really the whole family should be involved with. If you live a great distance from your parent and your brother or sister is doing the caregiving, be aware of the stress they are under and try to be supportive. You can do all you can to help out to take some of the stress off.  Perhaps you can coordinate with the other distant siblings and relatives to call your parent regularly and take some of the relationship pressure off the caregiver sibling. 

Above all, if you have suggestions for the caregiver, give them in love and without “nagging”. That sibling is painfully aware that she is carrying the load for the whole family so communicate your support and gratefulness and that your suggestions are meant only for mom or dads good, not to criticize the hard work your sibling is doing.

But the one person that can do the most to deal with the stress of being a caregiver is you, the caregiver.

It is important that you view taking care of yourself as much a part of your job as caregiver as any other duties you do. You are a huge resource to your mom or dad so take care of that resource for their sake as well as for yours. If you do, not only will you be a better caregiver, you will live happier and continue taking good care of your family and other responsibilities as well. And that’s a healthy approach to care giving and the only approach that will work if the job goes on for a long time.

For additional resources:

 

Managing Senior Medications

medication management for seniors

It's Medication Safety Week. That seems like a good time to discuss the importance of medication safety and things you can do for your loved one to ensure medication safety. 

“Old people need a lot of pills.” 

That was an observation my son observed about his Granddad. And while that may be a bit of a crude way of making that observation, it is certainly a correct observation.  The truth is that senior citizens sometimes find themselves taking a vast array of pills and medications.  Sometimes the diversity of medications can become hard to keep track of.  That is why so often your aging parent may have a pill dispenser kit which allows him to measure out the drugs for an entire week to try to keep it all straight.

The real concern with that much medication being used at the same time is medicine interaction.

If your retired mom or dad takes five, six, seven or more pills at a time, it’s easy to imagine that one of those medications might get into conflict with another. This is not an idle concern. Many drug related overdoes or interaction problems occur with senior citizens every year due to combining their many prescription medications with over the country drugs, or with alcohol and the chemical reaction in their bodies became explosive.

If you are the caregiver for your aging mom or dad, it’s up to you to come up with some strict rules that you have to insist become the law of the land for your mom or dad to assure that there is little or no possibility of a drug related reaction which could lead to hospitalization or death.

Knowledge is power when it comes to managing senior medications.

The two key people you should turn to for that knowledge are your parent’s doctor and pharmacist.  Sometimes the problems which arise from conflicting medicines comes from numerous doctors prescribing drugs. Be sure there is one doctor who is primarily in charge of your parent’s health in general. Have him or her review the current crop of medications, their frequency and ingredients to assure there are no potentially dangerous interactions. 

Your pharmacist can perform the same function as he is trained in understanding the way drugs work. As with the doctor, it’s good to pick one pharmacist for all your parent’s drugs and schedule a time to go over the entire medication picture with the pharmacist to look for potential problems.

The next important area of focus to avoid potential medication mistakes is the home. 

There is a lot you can do to prevent your aging parent from accidentally taking the wrong medications or the wrong dosages, either of which can cause potential problems. If the medicine cabinet where the meds are kept is full of similar looking bottles and the only way to tell them apart is the fine print on the bottles, do your part to make them unique. 

You can buy multicolored bottles to transfer the drugs into. Then you can write out your parent’s medicine schedule in clear understandable terms like, “3 p.m. take 2 from the blue bottle, 1 from the pink bottle and 1 from the green bottle.”  You can even take the next step of using a label maker to mark each bottle in clear, large print type so there is no possibility that what is in that bottle could be misunderstood.

Alternatively, you could use an automated medication dispenser to control the various medications.

These keep medication locked and only dispense the medications needed and at the correct time. Automated medication dispensers come with various features such as lights, timers, and some even call the family if the medication is not taken. Click here to see the automatic medication dispensers which we recommend.

Take proper care to keep track of medicines and their expiration dates and stay ahead of reorder cycles. A great way to save money is to use online pharmacies or reorder services that can provide you with generic equivalent of prescription drugs. Make sure the medication provider is legitimate so you know you are getting exactly what you ordered.

Your retired mom or dad may no longer have the kind of attention to detail to stay up on their medications and prescriptions. In addition, poor eyesight and mental fatigue can cause him or her to fail at staying on top of a complex drug situation. As you fill in that gap for your parent, in doing so, you will have peace of mind knowing they are getting the medications they need and only the medications they need.

For additional resources see

 

How to Improve Quality of Life for Your Loved One

Quality of life for seniors

When you were growing up, your parents were your care givers. They made sure you were safe, well fed, clothed, had medical care and that finances were available for the things you needed. But being your caregiver was about more than just giving you the basics of survival and health. 

Now your turn has come to be the care giver for your parents. They need you now as they move into their older years and they are less able to attend to those basic needs of life. You’ll find you need to take steps to assure they are safe and that they have the right food to eat for their diet. You can make sure their clothes are clean and that their medications are there for them every day. You also can look after their finances so there is plenty available to take care of the necessities of life and none is wasted or taken from them by scam artists.

But just as growing up in your family, there is another element of being a care giver and that element can be boiled down to the phrase, “quality of life.”

That is a good phrase because if your childhood had times of joy and happiness because you were part of a loving family, that was because your mom and dad went beyond the physical basics and made your life fun, full of love and laughter and good times that you would remember forever.

Perhaps you reminisce about those times with your elderly parents even today. But as you remember those terrific vacations or all the wonderful, Christmases and the many funny things that happened in your family when you were growing up, two people made sure your life was rich and full that way. And those two people are these same two people you are now charged to care for – mom and dad.

So how can you do all you can to enhance the quality of life for your parents in their retirement years? 

If we can find ways to give them happy times, time of laughter and love, that will be a fitting pay back for the loving household they provided to you all those years. Here are just a few things you can make happen to make their lives happier and increase their quality of life…

  • Dinner every week. If you have a routine time when you either come to your parents home and bring dinner or have them to your place to enjoy some family time, that will become a favorite night of the week for your elderly loved one.
  • Lots of family time. The real value of being in the same town as your parents is they can have lots of time with your family. Let them be part of many of the family things you do such as church, school activities and fun outings during the spring and summer as well.
  • Make the holidays festive. What would the holidays be without Grandma? And if Grandpa makes a good Santa Clause, you will surely to make his day as well as that of the other family members around.  
  • Make their house a home. As a caregiver, sometimes the chore of cleaning and maintaining your parent’s apartment falls to you, but don’t just “settle” for a nice clean look. Dig out those great things mom used to have on the walls and shelves at home when she had her own place. Try to give her room at the senior retirement center, or wherever she is living, a feeling of home as much as possible. Then she will feel comfortable and happy among the things that make this is her place and hers alone and you will have improved her quality of life.

If you can create the same joy, the same fun and the same sense of “home” for your elderly parent that they created for you and your siblings growing up, then you will have taken one more step toward giving back a little of what was given to you. 

But there is a real value to giving your retired parents the same love and good times they gave to you. Laughter and love and happy times are therapeutic and can do a lot for the health and well being of your retired parent. Put that extra creativity you have into really giving to your parents the quality of life they gave to you and they will blossom where they are planted, just like that opportunity you and your siblings have had in life.

 

10 Ways to Care for the Caregiver

10 Ways to Care for the Caregiver

In order to perform the difficult and demanding job of a primary caregiver, it is important to take the time to care for yourself as well. It’s natural for you to feel the anxiety your parent feels and the fears they face as the months and years ahead hold uncertain dangers and a certain outcome. There is an instinct in caregivers to give 100% of your time, your energy and your resources to caring for your elderly loved one. To reduce the stress it's important to take time to take care of yourself. 

 

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When Seniors Don't Want Assistance at Home

senior lady in wheelchair

Do you have a loved one who needs senior assistance at home but they are in denial? This is a common problem. Aging loved ones may slowly need more help with things that were once a normal part of life. Oftentimes home care services are needed for a loved one after an injury or illness. The unfortunate traumatic event often helps them accept the needed care but this is not always the case. No one wants to give up their independence. Many seniors feel like they would burden their family, they feel they are the “parent” and should be taking care of their children, not the other way around. They do not want to be a burden on anyone, especially their own grown children.

Family is often the first to notice signs of a loved one needing assistance. There might be signs such as, the house becoming more cluttered and dirty, instant foods replacing home cooking, and personal care and hygiene declining. When these changes happen slowly, they may go unnoticed by family. An intentional checklist to determine if help is needed should be done regularly, as aging loved ones may be in denial.

Denying, even covering up and hiding any signs of needing help, is common amongst seniors. Who wants to be dependent upon others for help? We have been to Senior Centers presenting our services where one senior looks at another suggesting that it may be a good idea for “them”, but never for themselves. It is somewhat comical to see the argument ensue regarding who needs care and who doesn’t. We have provided homecare services in homes with elderly couples. In order to get them to accept the care in the beginning the family would say to their mom, “this is to help Dad”, and they would say to Dad, “this is to help Mom”. This may sound humorous, but it can be dangerous. If your elderly loved ones need help yet will not accept it, it could result in a fall, injury, or unnoticed illness. After an injury or illness seniors may never have full independence again. Even family may think that help is only needed temporarily. Some may believe they will walk again, when being wheelchair bound is a permanent reality.

Accepting long term care as the new normal takes time, patience, love, and care. As a family member, you can offer offer these types of support. Other things you can do include:

  • Speaking gently to them, It's often 'how' things are said can that make a difference.
  • Take time to listen and understand their reason.
  • Treat them as adults. Many people treat seniors as they treat children. This can be demeaning.

Denial is not only an issue with our aging loved ones; family members need to accept when assistance is needed as well, sometimes this too takes time. If you think your aging relatives need assistance at home, and they are reluctant, give us a call to discuss this with one of our Care Managers. We have dealt with reluctant seniors on numerous occasions and there is often a simple solution. 

Our number is (603) 473-2510

Reading - An Awesome Tool for Caregivers

It’s rare for me to find someone who does not like to read. To be considered an avid reader, one does not necessarily read just novels. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what written words will attract one’s attention. Who hasn’t read the cereal box while noshing that important meal of the day? Ingredients, nutritional value, even where the manufacturer is located seems pretty interesting as we spoon those tiny oat circles into our mouth. Perhaps it’s the daily newspaper that partners with breakfast. Maybe it’s your favorite monthly DIY magazine that you can’t wait to read. As a Caregiver, I’ve seen seniors who read the paper with their morning coffee, browse a magazine with lunch and peruse a novel during the afternoon. I’ve also been a caregiver for seniors who don’t read at all due to lack of interest, poor eyesight or their mind no longer can focus to keep on task.

Reading to Seniors

I would be a lost soul if I could not read. 

To me, reading soothes my troubled spirit when my world is crazy.  I thank God I was never a smoker but I confess I am a bookworm; I am addicted to reading.  I often said to Rich, my late husband, “reading is my cigarette”.  Sometimes I am reading three books at once.  There’s a paperback I keep in the car (waiting in my car for a family member who has run into a store is not boring when I can read – it’s like a stolen moment in time!).  Umm…maybe my pocketbook is on the heavy side because of the novel I carry.  My bedside table always holds at least two to three books – I tend to read according to my mood of the night.  The written word takes my hand and leads me into a land where my stress, troubles and fatigue magically disappear. 

I learned to read in first grade when I sounded out the words in DICK, JANE AND SALLY.  Mrs. Reed, my teacher, let us read if we didn’t ­want to play in the sandbox or with the make-believe kitchen.  She always read to us at naptime – what an awesome way to fall asleep!  Ms. Farrell captured the minds of my peers in fifth grade as she read CHARLOTTE’S WEB on snowy school days.  Christie, my best friend since second grade, shares my love of the written word.  We were both so intrigued with MERRY LIPS by Jean Dixon that we read it many times. That novel was about a little girl who dressed as a boy to get into the colonial Army to find her brother.  I always wanted to own a copy.  About ten years ago, I finally tracked it down online and bought it. Out of print and no longer available in libraries, I felt like I had found a lost treasure.  I wanted my grandchildren to be as intrigued with little Miss Merry Lips as I was. 

In seventh grade, I read GONE WITH WIND, probably twice, and then once a year until I graduated high school (and a few times since).  I smile as I remember the Librarian at Stillwater Central School telling me that book would be too challenging for a 12-year-old because it had so many pages and was for adults. Not daunted, I read every chance I had and would lose myself among the hanging moss trees in the Old South, sashay down the winding staircase of Tara and yearn for a chance to be Scarlet O’Hara – if only for a day.  My love of history was born with the reading of that novel – thank you, Margaret Mitchell.

I also journeyed with Auguste Rodin in NAKED CAME I by David Weiss.  This fascinating novel opened my eyes about a rebellious sculptor from the late 1800’s whose passion was to create true-to-nature sculptures.  Now that was a hefty book that took me more than a few days to read.  I must say that the subject matter was not my “usual read” but it touched the rebel part of my heart and allowed me to identify feelings I hadn’t ever put a name to. That book is on my “must read again” list. 

Caregiving gives me the opportunity to engage seniors in conversations about favorite novels – the ones I enjoy and the books they have read or are currently reading.  It is interesting to hear their comments when I ask questions, such as “what’s the book about?”  I smile at their answers -- “Oh, so and so wants to solve a mystery but I can’t figure out why” or “Not sure, there are too many people running all over the pages who confuse me”.  The important part about seniors reading is that their minds are teased into remembering what’s going on in the book.  They are able to lose themselves, as I do, in the world of others’ imaginations.  They are stepping out of the humdrum of their now less active life and journey with the main character who perhaps has the adventures and lifestyle they once had, or wished they had lived.  I smile when I think about Paul, a senior I cared for a few years ago.  He had the most remarkable collection of literature about Abraham Lincoln, his favorite inspirational man.  Paul often confused what day it was, or what we had done yesterday.  However, his recollection of what the books that lined his den’s bookshelves were about – what era, what deeds were part of Lincoln’s life and what was his favorite part of the book -- was absolutely phenomenal.  Paul would often spend his afternoons lost in the life of Lincoln.  His eyes would shine and his body language reflected his joy when talking about that historical figure.  I believe his collection outshone any local village library’s books about that revered man.

If you are a caregiver for a parent, you have an awesome opportunity to give them a special gift.  Take some time from your caregiving and read to them – as they did to you at bedtime, so many years ago.  Wasn’t it awesome to hear about Peter Pan and his home in Never-Never Land, or laugh at Huck Finn’s trick when he was told to whitewash a fence?  Newspaper print may be too small for your Dad to read about his favorite sports team.  Why not read him the article about the game and then engage in some banter about the sport?  Not only are you engaging in conversation, but you are spending some time with your beloved parent – time that is so precious as their sun begins to set in the land of their life.

I’m about to begin reading THE SHACK to a senior I am presently caring for.  I had been told that novel has been made into a movie that will soon be in theaters.  That book was very, very special to my husband and me.  I had first read it in 2008, and then my husband, at my urging, read it.  It touched our hearts with awesome emotions.  When my husband and I took a road trip from our retirement home in Florida in June 2009, he asked me to read him the book during our drive.  He drove, I read.  He became teary many times as though the words in THE SHACK were touching his very soul – they were.  Unknown to us, this was our last road trip together.  We reached our family in upstate New York and the next day my husband met with his former doctor of many years – Rich was not feeling well.  He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer stage IV and given perhaps a year to live.  I lost the man who was the love of my life, for 43 years, six short weeks later.  When we had driven back to Florida after the diagnosis, my husband shared that he felt God had put THE SHACK in his life to prepare him for his journey to Heaven. 

When I told the senior I care for that THE SHACK was a great book and explained the subject matter, she became very interested.  I asked if she would like me to read it to her (as it is in small print and she can only read large print), she said she would look forward to that.  Voila!  And so, we’ll soon be walking the path in the woods, smelling the flowers and enjoying the warm weather, as we look for the mysterious shack and discover what role that rustic abode plays in the lives of a grieving family.  I will read and she will listen.  Our minds won’t be focusing on the cold, snowy wind as it blows across the lake.  We’ll be listening to the birds singing as we join a man searching for that old shack hidden in the woods.  Perhaps Spring just might come early this year!

 

NEW YEAR….NEW YOU, Thoughts for Caregivers

Whether you're a caregiver for a family member or an in home care provider, New Years is a perfect time to reassess. Here's some thoughts from one of our senior care providers.

Caregiver Resolutions

2016 silently tiptoed out for many people who were not into the blowing-horns-saluting-the-New Year-with-bubbly mode.  On tiny cat feet, 2016 quietly walked out the door, and gave a hug to 2017 while whispering in its ear, “treat every day with kindness and love”.  Those who greeted the New Year with reflections of the past year and a cup of hot cocoa or Earl Grey tea may be thinking of new ways to journey along the path of 2017.  Resolutions may include getting more exercise, cutting down on nibbling junk food while watching tv or get started on that endless honey-do list.

I’ve thought about “New Year Resolutions” and realize that despite my good intentions, my resolves to do this or that fall by the wayside a few weeks after the New Year begins. This realization triggered some thought about making an effort to “do better” in small but significant ways.  Making changes that would put smiles on the faces of those who are in your little corner of the world would be a good starting point. 

POSITIVE THOUGHTS

When waking up in the morning, focus on the power of positive thinking.  Instead of lamenting “Oh, great!  My plate is over-filled today. How can I get it all done?” Think, instead, “I should prioritize what I have to do today.  I know I’ll be able to do this because, first-off, I like to do these things and secondly, hey, I’m good at doing them!” That kind of thinking will get your creative juices flowing and also make you feel good about yourself. Giving yourself a pat on the back is a gentle push to get moving in a positive direction, not a negative one. This resolution will make your inner self ready to meet the day and give it your best efforts.

KIND WORDS

Brushing your teeth is part of your morning routine.  Why not add another must-do?  Make a conscious decision, each morning, to speak kindly to your family as they gear up for their day – whatever it may be. Too often the hustle-bustle of getting breakfast, grabbing important paperwork, feeding the pets, throwing on a load of laundry or figuring out what else needs to be done before you head out the door…result in unkind words being thrown at family members.  Criticism spews from a mouth like an angry volcano.  Those in the path of such words become defensive and then, in turn, ready to speak unkindly to others.  Remember, once spoken, words cannot ever be retrieved!  Sure, you can follow up with “what I meant was” or “sorry”, but the damage has been done.  The target of your ire just had a chunk taken out of their heart.  Now there is a dead spot on that heart where once was a smile. I speak from experience of being on the receiving end of words that went right to my heart and did damage – it hurts!  Yes, this will take big-time effort on your part but what a life-changer it will become when you make it routine.  Sending your family (and yourself) off to meet the day with smiles is awesome!  A great resolution!

SINCERE CARING

Too often we know someone who is experiencing a huge bump in their road and their day is falling apart. We may tell them we are sorry or off-handedly say “let me know if I can help” and then hope they won’t really ask us to do this or that.  After all, aren’t we all busy with our own lives? Or so we tell ourselves. Reach out to friends, family or acquaintances when they need help.  Put aside some time in your day to check in on them and, again, remind them you really want to help.  Caring about others does not have a time limit – it is endless!  And rightly so.  Sincerity is caring with you going the extra mile. Think about it. After all, when someone reaches out to us and then follows up with a phone call or knock on the door, isn’t our load somewhat lightened knowing that someone really cares enough to want to help – that it just wasn’t an off-hand gesture?  Sincere caring is a resolution that will bless them and your own heart, too.

LOVE YOURSELF

Caring for the Caregiver

This may sound weird but it’s not! Do you feel unworthy/unable to be loved?  Then you need to take a good look at yourself in the mirror and tell that person staring back that they are a good person -- talented, caring, and worthy of love and respect. Don’t be bashful. Don’t think you are being egotistic. You aren’t. Do you know that the hardest person to love is yourself?  You know everything about you – what you perceive to be your good and bad points. But - to be able to give love to others, to care about them and to give the best you can whatever the situation -- you need to be coming from a place of inner strength, self-approval and knowing that you are valued.  Resolve to take stock of the person who wears your shoes. By doing this frequently, you will be reminded to smile at that reflection in the mirror.

DON’T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS

How many of us form an opinion about a person or situation only to find out our idea of so and so or some event was totally off track? Rather than being patient, or listening intently or getting the whole story, we jumped the gun, thus putting a negative slant on a certain situation. How often have we hurt a person through word or action because we had formed a wrong conclusion? Make a New Year’s resolution to get all the facts. If you need to ask questions, then do so. 

BE BRAVE

It takes bravery to speak up about a situation that bothers you.  It is an injustice to a person if you don’t tell them if something they said or did is always on your mind.  I’ve always held to the premise that not saying anything when you need to means you really don’t care.  Having something eating at your heart and not talking about it is like an invisible rock hung on a chain around your heart – always heavy and wearing away at you.  I am not a person to make waves and I hate confrontation. But, there are times when I’ve had to take that very hard step to let someone know that something is wrong. I tell them that something they did or said is weighing heavy on my heart and we need to talk. When the air has been cleared, I can breathe easier and my heart steps lightly.  Resolve to clear the air and the sun will shine brighter for you!

WHAT DO THESE QUALITIES MAKE?

You may be asking how can these resolutions:  Positive Thoughts, Kind Words, Sincere Caring, Loving Yourself, Not Jumping to Conclusions and Be Brave have a connection with being a Caregiver?  Well, think about it. A Caregiver who starts their day with negative thoughts, biting words, off-handed offers to help, not being able to look in the mirror, making assumptions, or being too timid to clear the air walks into a client’s home dragging any of this name-it, claim-it baggage. Poof! Today’s road starts out rocky, not smooth. Adopting even one of these resolutions into your everyday life will put a spring into your step and a sincere smile on your face.  Your head will be ready to think, your hands will be ready to offer assistance and your heart will be ready to truly care about the person who needs you.  A Caregiver who is walking their New Year’s Resolution journey will bring sunshine and not gray skies to someone who needs to know they, too, are valued. Unlike winter’s sniffles, spreading these life-changing resolutions around would be awesome!

Whether you're a family caregiver or a homecare provider, what resolutions have you made which might help in your role as a caregiver?

 

  

Snowflakes of Memories: A Caregiver's Tale

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As I look out the windows of the sliders, the December wind escorts snowflakes that are falling onto autumn leaves. Layers of sparkling flakes hide Mother Nature's paintbrush strokes that turned greens into a kaleidoscope of brilliant hues. Another chapter in my Book of Life as a Caregiver has begun. 

This is the second December I am a Caregiver for a beloved elder in my position with Abundant Blessings. This is my 18th month of watching the sun rise over the lake at dawn, and enjoying the sunset's pink glow in the evening. I believe conversation is a healthy stimulant for not only her, but myself.  She enjoys when I reach into my childhood memories to share bits and pieces of my life. These tales may give her a better understanding of why I am the person I am today - or at least I like to think so. Lately, it's natural to focus on Christmas - "it's the most beautiful time of the year" - so the song sung by Andy Williams says.  I realize, however, that I am giving myself a gift, bringing what is hidden in my heart to the forefront.  While verbalizing about how Christmas was celebrated, I become the twelve year old who is now allowed to stay up "to help Santa trim the tree on Christmas Eve". That was the year my father whispered in my ear, "When the other kids are asleep, quietly come back downstairs". An hour after the eight of us had each opened the present that mysteriously had appeared under the undecorated tree, (a pair of new pjs to wear Christmas morning) and climbed the stairs to our bedrooms, I tiptoed down the stairs to see my father putting lights on the tree. Boxes of ornaments were on the couch and my stepmother was busy wrapping gifts on the dining room table. That was when I knew who Santa really was. Naïve? Maybe, but gloriously so! And oh how my heart is singing when I think about these times.

That magical night, my father placed the old foil Santa Claus face on top of the tree.  It had been the same Santa that graced his childhood tree. My main job was to put the tinsel on each branch -- one piece at a time. Now, this wasn't tinsel that was new and shiny, but hefty pieces of shimmering foil that had been wrapped around pieces of cardboard and used year after year. Dad was like the "tinsel police" - watching that I did the hanging just right and admonishing me if I didn't. After what seemed like hours, my tinsel job was finished. I then helped my stepmother wrap gifts, mostly in green or red tissue paper, with Christmas stickers holding the pieces together. In a family of ten, scotch tape was a rare commodity, only to be used very sparingly. Those little stickers of candy canes, elves or angels barely held up through the night to Christmas morning. 

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On Christmas morning, my father would turn the tree lights on and have "the kids" come down the stairs in age order - youngest to oldest (me). I still see the joy on the faces of my sisters and brothers as they saw the now decorated Christmas tree and the orderly stacks of presents underneath. My Dad was there taking pictures with the old video camera. We'd sit on the floor and my stepmom would hand us each a present to open.  I remember all of this to be orderly and not the harried ripping of paper that one generally sees nowadays. We didn't have many gifts, but what we were given made us smile.  Money was always tight in our household. Both parents worked on the B&M Railroad in the neighboring town, and my father also held other jobs at the same time - Police Chief, Fire Chief, snowplower in the town trucks. I well remember the trees he would cut "way up north" and haul back for us to sell at my uncle's hardware store or in our side yard. My siblings and I gathered Princess Pine from the woods and made wreaths to sell. We shoveled walks and driveways till our feet and fingers seemed frozen. That was how we earned our Christmas money. 

As I share my childhood memories with this wonderful lady I am Caregiver for, she, in turn, talks about her childhood Christmases.  Her eyes light up, she laughs, and long forgotten names and places come out of that hiding deep in her mind. I listen with my ears, but it is my heart that is catching each memory she is reliving. There is no sadness, no tears of days long lost. There is only the gifts of sharing and caring. Laughter fills the air. Unlocking wonderful memories is like opening up the door of the past with the key of love. And so the night ends, and we watch the falling snow blanketing the lake. We both smile, lost in the peace of our yesterdays.

As we celebrate this wonderful time of year be sure to share your own Christmas memories and reminisce with those you love. What are some of your favorite Christmas memories?

 

 

Senior Driving

Seniors and Driving

From time to time a family member may become concerned about a loved ones driving abilities. Although driving ability is not necessarily determined by age and many seniors drive safely and successfully, there are changes which can affect driving ability over time. Many of these changes happen as we age and these can contribute to unsafe driving practices. Some changes can affect the ability to turn the head to check for traffic, or to brake quickly. Other changes affect the ability to respond appropriately to situations as they occur. All drivers must have the ability to react quickly to other cars and people on the road.

How dangerous is it?

Some elderly drivers are a danger to themselves and others on the road. Driving is an activity which requires many thought processes, actions and movements all happening simultaneously. It requires quick thinking and quick reactions, which for many people, diminish with age. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), statistics do show that older drivers are more likely than younger ones to be involved in crashes. Risk of injury or being killed in a motor vehicle accident does increases as people age. In addition, a senior who is involved in a motor vehicle crash is at greater risk of injury or death than someone younger. If you are hesitant about having the discussion about driving with your loved one, considering the possible outcome could help you overcome your hesitation.

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How do you know when the time has come?

There are warning signs to look for if you are concerned about a family members driving or even your own. We have put together a "Senior Driving Checklist" for you to print and fill out. When you notice some of these warning signs it is time to assess the situation. Don't wait for an accident to happen. You can also take a look at the other resources we have listed.

How to talk with your loved one about driving

First of all, do not assume that one discussion will be all that is needed. This is a delicate situation which may require many conversations. You must be respectful of their right to make choices.

Secondly, don’t come on too strong or as a “know it all”, be considerate of their thoughts and feelings, and let them have a say. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia they may be unaware of the changes in their abilities and capabilities. When someone is unaware of the changes, this can result in great reluctance on their part of giving up the ability to drive. They may see this as a great loss of their independence and can be quite traumatic for some people. It is important to consider the person’s feelings.

Ask them questions.  Lead the conversation with questions to get them talking. This may help them to see the need to give up driving. Ask them “How have you felt recently when driving or after driving?”, “Have you gotten confused at all recently when driving?”, “Can you tell me about the new dents on your vehicle?” It may even be possible for you both to fill out the “Senior Driving Checklist” together.

What if they are reluctant to give up driving?

Many seniors are reluctant to give up driving because they fear the loss of their independence. In this situation, rather than just taking their keys, a road test would be a good consideration. In some states, the local Department of Motor Vehicles offers testing to determine a person’s abilities when driving and responding to situations when on the road and in traffic. They can also test for vision and distance perception. If your state does not offer this service, there are companies which offer this service. The Alzheimer’s Association or other similar agency may be able to provide a list of resources. Some places offer a Mature Drivers course, if your loved one is reluctant to take the course, remind them that their insurance and their roadside assistance may offer a discount for taking it.

What if they refuse to give up driving?

  • If at all possible it is always best to get your loved one to agree to give up driving voluntarily.  The loss of the independence can be traumatic and can lead to depression, having that right taken from them can be even more traumatic. Be prepared for this ahead of time. Sometimes however, they simply refuse to do so voluntarily. Then comes to the difficult decision, for their safety and the safety of others, to take drastic measures.
  • Involve their physician: Schedule an appointment with your loved one and their physician so you can discuss the situation together, seniors often will listen to and respect the opinion of their physician. If you do go to talk to the doctor, bring alone a copy of the “Senior Driving Checklist” filled out. Sometimes the loss of driving ability is a process and the doctor may recommend some first steps such as the agreement to not drive after dark. Discuss these options together.
  • Involve their optometrist/ophthalmologist: as stated above, seniors will often respect their opinion.
  • Involve the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): In some states, it might be best to alert the department of motor vehicles. The caregiver can often meet with a representative and request a driving test and vision examination, some states do not honor this request.  In some states you can write a letter directly to the DMV and express your concerns, or request that the person’s license be revoked. The letter should state that “(the person’s full name) is a hazard on the road,” and offer the reason (Alzheimer’s disease). The state may require a statement from your physician that certifies the person is no longer able to drive. Research your state or talk to a physician who may be able to guide you. Contact your local DMV to find out their recommendation on how to proceed.
  • Control access to the keys: designate one person to do all the driving and give them exclusive access to the car keys.
  • Disable the car in some way:  Discuss this with a mechanic.
  • Give the person a set of keys that looks like his or her old set, but that don’t work to start the car.
  • Consider selling the car: Discuss with your loved one the potential financial savings which comes with selling the car. There could potentially be enough savings to pay for any public transportation or even taxi rides. There would be savings on insurance, vehicle payments, gas, maintenance, etc.

If you have increasing concern about your loved one’s driving, the above information should give you some ideas for how to begin the conversation. If you are in our area and need transportation services, feel free to call us to discuss some options for your family.

Additional Resources:

 

Senior Health and Wellness Expo

Please join us at the Senior Health and Wellness Expo on April 6th from 10am-2pm at the Langdon Place of Dover. There will be many great vendors offering freebees, refreshments, offers, and great information on goods and services available to Seniors. Stop by and see our booth, meet some of our staff, take a moment to do our free Alzheimer's and Dementia Screening Test, and enter for a chance to win our beautiful gift bag! See you there!