Tag: caring for aging parents

Selecting the Right Assisted Living Facility

Selecting the Right Assisted Living Facility

18916073_sChoosing to place your aging loved one in the care of someone other than yourself or another family member is a difficult decision. But, the bills are piling up; you have a busy job, and barely enough time to spend with friends and family. This is the realization that you can no longer care for your aging parent(s) or relative without risking their safety and your family’s financial and emotional well-being. You need help! But how do you choose the right assisted living facility?

Far too often have we heard and seen abuse and neglect at assisted living/nursing facilities.  Here are some helpful tips and things to look for that will put your mind at rest and guarantee the happiness and safety of your parent or relative.

The Facility

The quality of the facility itself is very important. This is where your loved one will live, eat, and sleep. Naturally, you want it to be a pleasant place that only encourages the comfort and happiness of your parent or relative. As a general rule, you should always look for reviews and inspection reports concerning the specific assisted living facility you are interested in. Here are three important factors that indicate a good facility:

1.   Cleanliness – The facility should feel fresh and clean. Check furniture, corners, windows, etc. to determine how thorough cleaning personnel are. Use your nose. Believe it or not you can generally get a feel for the cleanliness of a facility based on how it smells.   

2.   Outdoor Areas – Investigate the upkeep and use of the available outdoor areas around the facility. Make sure they are safe, spacious, and enjoyable. 

3.   Living Corridors – Check the living corridors. Question cleaning maintenance and the size of the room to ensure easy use, comfort, and safety.

The People Pay close attention to the staff. These are the people that will be caring for your aging loved ones daily. Are they friendly? Do they listen? Are they caring? Be sure to meet and talk with some of the staff while observing their interactions with current residents. There should also be an ample staff-to-patient ratio for your loved ones maximum care and comfort.

The Care To ensure your parent or relative is being properly cared for, here are some important questions you can ask and things you can do to determine a good assisted living facility:

  • Questions You Should Ask Yourself

Do you imagine you or your loved one being comfortable?

Are the staff and residents friendly, open, and inviting?

Are the current residents properly dressed and well-groomed?

Does the community feel fresh and clean?

Do the staff smile and treat residents with respect?

Does the area feel safe and secure?

  • Things You Can Do

Visit often and sometimes without warning

Be involved in care, medication, daily activities, etc.

Get to know the staff

Have other family members and friends stop by and visit

These tips can help you determine whether or not the facility you are considering is one in which your parent(s) or relative would be happy to live. Use your knowledge, trust your instincts, and guarantee your aging loved one’s comfort and safety by selecting the right assisted living facility.

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This article was brought to you by Country Club Retirement Campus. They provide independent and assisted living apartments, rehabilitation services, and long-term and short-term healthcare  services at four locations in the Ohio area. You might enjoy taking a moment to visit their website.

Caregivers Benefit from Internet Tools

Caregivers Benefit from Internet Tools

In honor of National Family Caregiver Month: The month is coming to an end, but the job of the caregiver does not. Take a moment to thank a caregiver whenever you have the opportunity and if you are a caregiver, don’t hesitate to reach out to a support network online or off. You don’t have to go it alone.

Sona Mehring, CEO of CaringBridge saw a need and set out to fill it using her knowledge of the internet and social networking.  In 1997, Sona was called upon by a friend in need for support during a health crisis. She was asked to contact her friend’s family and friends to let them know what was going on and to keep them up to speed.

Realizing the amount of time and emotional energy that would be required to fulfill her friends request, Sona  created a website that did everything for her via email.  Her website worked so well and was so efficient that it led to another birth: CaringBridge, a non-profit website that provides the tools needed to do what she did, create a web-based support network during a health crisis.

Sona understood the value of time and efficiency when she faced her own caregiving crisis. Like most she realized her energy was better spent with her friend or keeping up with the demands of her own already busy life than by spending hours on the phone and trying to contact and coordinate support in person.

Keeping everyone in the loop during a health crisis can take endless hours of telephone tag and comparing schedules.  The CaringBridge SupportPlaner enables friends and family members to post health updates, leave supportive messages, organize tasks such as taking care of pets, bringing a meal, running errands and even hospital visits at the individuals convenience. It gives the helper the time to look at what is already being done by others, to see what needs are waiting to be filled and to determine how best he/she can fill them.

In the last decade,  social network tools and websites have had an enormous impact on the world of the caregiver. We no longer need to be alone in our own world of overwhelm and stress. Help and support is just a click away.

When used properly these tools “amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier”. This is CaringBridge’s mission statement and the testimonies supplied by many users tell me they are living up to their mission. Here are a few of the stories they have posted on their website.

One of the most difficult aspects of any caregiving situation is the emotional and physical fatigue that often accompanies any health crisis.  Easy access to a support network can make all the difference. I know I plan to use one next time I find myself in such a situation. Thanks Sona Mehring and CaringBridge for all you do!

 

 

Improving Home Safety and Ease of Mobility – Aging In Place

Improving Home Safety and Ease of Mobility – Aging In Place

Tips For The Accessible Home

By Patricia Moore 

aging in place
A ramp improves mobility and safety.

Accessibility to a home–both indoors and out — is important to help people of all ages maintain independence while ensuring safety and security.  Simple changes and upgrades to a home can help loved ones stay in their homes and familiar environments longer.

The best indoor flooring options for more secure mobility

  • Flooring can help mobility. Wood and ceramic tile floors are much easier to walk on than thickly padded carpet.
  • Safe flooring features, including low or no thresholds (use a beveled strip for heights of 1/4 inch or more), nonslip and non-glare surfaces such as cork flooring, and low-pile carpets or rugs should be considered.
  • The first floor needs an accessible bedroom, bath, kitchen, living area, and laundry room with 42-inch-wide hallways and a minimum of 32-inch-wide doorways. Swing-clear hinges can be installed to widen openings.

How to “illuminate” the interior of the home to provide maximum-layered lighting with minimal effort

  • Task lighting is important for brightening workspaces. Exterior walkways, porches, halls, and stairs also should be well lighted.
  • Lighting features should include dimmers located 18 to 48 inches from the floor.
  • Lamps, recessed ceiling lights and wall sconces can also direct more light.

Increasing the safety features in bathrooms, one of the leading areas of the home for falls or accidents.

  • Thoughtful changes go a long way toward making bathrooms safer and accessible.
  • Many bath products today are functional and stylish. For example, grab bars now have multiple uses – they may double as a towel rack and provide the security of a grab bar.
  • A zero-threshold shower with a built-in transfer seat aids those with mobility concerns.
  • Add non-slip bathmats to help avoid falls and scald-control faucets to protect against burns.
  • A handheld, adjustable showerhead with a side bar makes the configuration more flexible.
  • An ADA-compliant toilet (chair height) with side transfer space is easily used by those with mobility concerns.
  • Wall-mount sink that works with a chair or wheelchair
  • A vanity with open cabinetry underneath can be used by anyone.
  • Textured floor tile with a 5 PEI rating is more durable and slip resistant.

Innovative, do-it-yourself access ramps that make home access “more accessible”

  • The most important aspect of home accessibility is being able to safely enter and exit your home.
  • The designers at Lowe’s created a truly innovative, do-it-yourself ramp system that is simple AND attractive, which can be tailored to fit the exact needs and style of your family and home – right down to the type of lumber used, the railings and accessories. You can even create your ramp to fit a right-hand turn if you need it. Go to www.lowes.com/ramps for more info.

Ideas for landscaping and gardening, one of the most enjoyable and therapeutic activities for all ages

  • Once your ramp is in place and accessibility needs are secured, add personality and customization to the space by tackling a few home gardening projects.
  • Landscaping around the ramp will not only make the ramp a stylish accessory to your home’s exterior, but is also an enjoyable hobby for everyone.
  • Know your body’s weak points and focus on getting the best tools to save that body part first.  Gardening tools sold as “ergonomic” are only good if they fit YOU.
  • Tools such as hoes and rakes should have long enough handles so you can stand upright to use them.
  • Tools should be well-balanced and as lightweight as possible.
  • They should be easy to use, have wide handles, and a padded or thick grip.
  • Keep tools sharp and in good shape. Sharp spades and trowels reduce the amount of effort needed to dig.  Use a metal file or whetstone to sharpen the.

More info: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCTGv9dtuvs

 

Gerontologist and Designer Patricia Moore

 

Patricia Moore, world renowned Gerontologist and Designer, is well known and respected for her work traveling throughout the United States disguised as an elderly woman. Pattie’s mission and experiment was to determine how elders were, and are, viewed in society and provide them with solutions to help them manage common obstacles many of us don’t understand. She was named by ID Magazine as one of The 40 Most Socially Conscious Designers in the world.

 

Create a Support Network in Your Hour of Need

Create a Support Network in Your Hour of Need

Online SupportPlanner from Caring Bridge
Interactive online calendar allows easy scheduling

Are you , or someone you know, facing or dealing with a health crisis? Are you desperate for a little extra help and support but don’t know where to turn?  Now, you don’t have to go it alone.

Ten years ago my husband had a heart attack. We had two high school age children who were knee deep in extracurricular activities, part time jobs, and college searches. My husband and I supported our family with our home based business, that on the best days required 24/7 attention from both of us. There was not time or energy in our days for what we were already doing let alone to deal with the extra demands of a sudden health crisis.  I didn’t know where to turn.

We called on a few family members to help out, who graciously availed themselves to us, but it was not an orderly, easy coordination of efforts and at times seemed more effort than help. Who can think, plan and organize at a time like that? I couldn’t.  CaringBridge.com did not exist at that time, at least in my world. It would have made all the difference.

CaringBridge.com is a non-profit organization that understands the difficulties inherent in coping with a life crisis. Its mission is to “amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier”.  The evidence is clear that it is fulfilling its mission.

The SupportPlanner is CaringBridge’s primary tool to assist people facing a health crisis such as the one my husband and I faced.  It is an online tool that makes coordination of support efforts thorough, easy  and efficient. It provides a centralized, virtual location to organize helpful tasks, such as the delivering of a meal, transportation, taking care of pets, etc. Only people who are invited by the user to view the planner can access the calendar and sign up for a task, ensuring privacy for the parties involved.

Several months ago, my friend Sandy was facing major surgery. She lived alone and was uneasy about the six week recovery period she was facing, when she would be unable to drive. Her sister had heard about CaringBridge.com and before Sandy even entered the hospital she had signed coordinated a full spectrum of support volunteers using The SupportPlanner and she did it all through email.  She coordinated meals, visits, errands, and drivers and Sandy received the support of a dozen well wishers throughout recovery. The support was a tremendous gift to Sandy and, I believe, resulted in a quicker, less painful recovery.

In honor of National Cargiver’s Month, I encourage you to visit CaringBridge.com and learn a little about what they have to offer.  You never know when you, or someone you care about might need support.

 

Accepting the Role of Caregiver to Your Aging Parents

Accepting the Role of Caregiver to Your Aging Parents

"Hydrangea" Photo by D Sander All rights reserved

Moving into the role of caregiver for an elderly parent can be a rugged journey along a treacherous path of frustration and indecision. As children of aging parents, we are often right in the middle of the busiest part of our own lives. We are not only juggling the demands of our growing children, we may be at the pinnacle of our careers, facing financial concerns as college expenses loom on the horizon and a whole array of other concerns that are likely to keep us awake at night, along with night sweats!

Becoming the responsible person for Mom and/or Dad is not something we are necessarily prepared to do. We still remember how hard we worked to move out of their lives and establish our own. It’s not uncommon to feel the tug of unfinished childhood business when the time arrives to hand back a piece of our lives to people who used to take care of us. It is uncomfortable and awkward to become the parent to a parent and it is likely to be as equally uncomfortable for the parent to give up their sense of control in the relationship, just when they are losing so much control of their day-to-day life.

It takes two people who are well grounded and comfortable with who they are to enjoy this journey. Most of us are not in that place! However, love allows for, and simultaneously demands, fluidity throughout life and caring for our elderly parent(s) is a practice field upon which we will hone a number of essential life skills.

Here are just a few:

Practice patience, not only with your loved one, but with yourself. Accept that we never have all of the answers, but we do the best we can with what we have.  We are always in a state of “becoming” and all will be as it should be.

Focus on the now. Today is all we have. Focus on the most valuable and meaningful thing in each moment. Consider that sitting with Mom and watching the birds might be just more important than spending an hour on the phone making doctor’s appointments.

Read. Reading articles, books and anything you can get your hands on that deals with the issues you are facing.  It is a very helpful way not only to gain a fresh perspective, but also to feel less alone in your difficulties.  When I was caring for my parents there was very little information or support available for the children of aging parents. Luckily, you can now find a plethora of information at your finger tips online. A few of the people I know personally are listed here in the Caregiving Section of my website  and any of them will gladly offer a hand.

Create space for you. This skill might just be the difficult one you will need to practice, but it is also the most important. Your soul must breathe, your inner spirit must live, if you are to continue to give to others as life requires of you. Caregiver burnout is not a pleasant experience, having been there myself, and it’s not good for you physically, mentally or emotionally to give until you can give no more. Keep your well filled and you will have what you need before, during and after the period of time you are caring for your parents.  Create space in your day, every day, for quiet, do-nothing time, even if it’s only ten minutes.

Exercise. Physical exercise is an excellent way to burn off the excess adrenaline that bombards one’s body during stressful times. Just be alert to any tendency you might have to over exercise and honor your body’s need for rest and relaxation.

Fill your backpack with a few of these essential life skills and climbing the mountain ahead will be easier than you may imagine.

SUPPORT FOR CAREGIVERS

SUPPORT FOR CAREGIVERS

There are many caregiving blogs offering support, advice and information for the caregiver. Each has something unique to offer and worth a visit if you are caring for a loved one. It’s a great place to talk about issues that concern you and see how others are handling their particular set of circumstances. Many websites have come online and new opportunities arise every day. A few are listed below and more will be added from time to time.

If you are a caregiver, take advantage of the information and support that is available. It’s really tough to go it alone.

 

INDIVIDUAL SUPPORT

TRANSITIONING AGING PARENTS – Dale Carter offers personal support for the caregiver. READ MORE

RELATIVE MATTERS – Chris Moon offers caregiving consultancy services in England. READ MORE

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ONLINE AND GROUP SUPPORT

HELPING AGING PARENTS – A counselor,educator and writer, the author of this blog shares her insights and experiences as a long distance caregiver for her elderly parents until their death, and now her husband’s mother.

MINDING OUR ELDERS – It is the mission of Minding Our Elders  and its author Carol Bradley Bursack to shine a light on the isolation often felt by caregivers and seniors and to give them a voice.

THEY’RE YOUR PARENTS TOO – “How siblings can survive their aging parents without driving each other crazy.”

THE INTENTIONAL CAREGIVER  –  I love this website! Shelley Webb is a registered nurse, geriatric care manager and health coach. Having cared for her father who suffered from dementia and congestive heart failure (along with neuropathy of the legs), she developed a keen interest in helping caregivers navigate their way through their own difficult but rewarding journey.

CAREGIVER.COM – Caregiver Media Group is a leading provider of information, support and guidance for family and professional caregivers. Founded in 1995, we produce Today’s Caregiver magazine, the first national magazine dedicated to caregivers, the “Fearless Caregiver Conferences”, and our web site, caregiver.com which includes topic specific newsletters, online discussion lists, back issue articles of Today’s Caregiver magazine, chat rooms and an online store. Caregiver Media Group and all of it’s products are developed for caregivers, about caregivers and by caregivers.

NATIONAL FAMILY CAREGIVER’S ASSOCIATION 

The National Family Caregivers Association educates, supports, empowers and speaks up for the more than 65 million Americans who care for loved ones with a chronic illness or disability or the frailties of old age. NFCA reaches across the boundaries of diagnoses, relationships and life stages to help transform family caregivers’ lives by removing barriers to health and well being.

CAREGIVING.COM – A Community website for caregivers.

AARP – Caregiving Resources – Everything you need to know and more!

 

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CAREGIVING ARTICLES

HUFFINGTON POST on CAREGIVING

NEW YORK TIMES BLOGGER PAULA SPAN – You will find an excellent selection of topical articles on caring and coping with aging parents. Here are a few:

AGING ABUNDANTLY ARTICLES ON CAREGIVING