Elder Care

Elder Care FAQs

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Transitioning a Relative into Your Home

My aunt took in my grandmother for several years. My mother said it was "really hard on Sis." I am sure that is an understatement.

Still, what about Grandma, wasn't it hard on her too? She was leaving her home of many years, the home she had been in when Grandpa was alive. She lost contact with familiar faces, places and scenes.

If you're about to transition an elderly relative into your home, you're both facing big changes. What can you do to help the person you're caring for transition, and how can you help yourself? Remember The Golden Years Rule: It will be me someday, how will I want to be treated?

Interestingly, as I did my research I found that most sources concerned with the elderly and where they will live do not mention often, if at all, moving in with children or other relatives.

Elderly people who need to move into another's home experience many emotions. Depression, grief, insult, shame, anger and guilt are some of the possible feelings they may have. They have experienced a loss.

Imagine you are suddenly told you are going to steadily decline in ability and will need to rely on a family member to help you. You will not be able to live as you do now or where you are now. The thought alone makes one feel a bit sad.

You can help the transition in many ways.

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To Tell a Story

He'd been telling the stories for years. When I was younger, it seemed as if I had far more important things to do then listen, but oftentimes they would catch me unawares and I would be swept up in the events and lives of people that I only vaguely knew or didn't know at all.

Some were delightful and some were dramatic, all were compelling. Maybe because they are my history too. Maybe because as my father related his stories of the depression or the war years I saw in them the stories of our country.

A few years ago he became aware of an urge to write down his stories. Perhaps the mid-eighties made him aware of his own mortality. Maybe he just didn't want the people he loved forgotten. At any rate, he struggled to get his thoughts on paper.

The best he could come up with was a very dry account of dates, places and names. Not what he had in mind at all. The project was shelved, but never really left his mind.

It wasn't until he, almost offhandedly, suggested that I write his history down that I gave it any thought. The idea fired my imagination. But how would I do it? Could I get him to open up to me any better then he did for a piece of paper? Perhaps getting it on tape instead of paper--at least initially--was the answer.

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Talking About the Future

Talking with your aging loved one about difficult issues like finances, housing, or the impending future is never easy. Generally, both parties are in denial--your elder and yourself. Even when you can foresee what is going to happen, it's often human nature to look the other way with the hope "it" will resolve "itself." Unfortunately, a crisis situation can be created which possibly could have been avoided.

I like to compare denial to a den of comfort. In our den, we are not scared. We do not risk rejection. We do not risk being hurt. When we step out of our den and into the open, we are no longer protected. It's frightening and uncomfortable. But to be able to live a life relatively free of self-made crises, one must step out and take the risk. In the end, it's less frightening when you are prepared, rather than caught off guard.

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Parenting Your Parent


One of these people is your parent, one is your child. Don't mix them up.

If your parents are unable to care for themselves, it is often an unavoidable feeling. While you tie their shoelaces, change their diaper and help them walk, it does feel like you are now their parent.

Regardless of the circumstances, you are not, and never will be, their parent. Although many of the same techniques work when dealing with them (such as distraction while performing a task), viewing the relationship between parent and child as reversed is potentially dangerous to both of you.

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Managing Your Elder's Medical Care

Managing the medical care of your elder is one of the most important aspects of caregiving. The elderly are commonly plagued with several chronic illnesses, and finding good medical care for common problems, and specialty care for the rare conditions may seem like a job unto itself.

Dr. Juergen Bludau, Medical Director of the Joseph L. Morse Geriatric Center in West Palm Beach, Florida says that because the elderly usually have multiple chronic conditions, and because the diseases present themselves differently in the senior population, it is very important to find a primary caregiver with experience treating geriatric patients.

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Making Arrangements

Making Arrangements

Planning a will may be harder on you than on your elder
by Sonia Michaels

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Living with Parkinson's Disease

Four years ago, on Valentine's Day 1995, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Back then, we didn't know what to expect--how fast would the disease progress? How would we know when it was time for him to begin heavier medication? How would we know when the disease was entering a new stage?
The uncertainty was the worst part of those early months, as we learned the hard facts about the disease, the treatments, and the symptoms we should expect him to develop as the disease progressed. In the time since then, we have all become "experts" to some degree--not experts in Parkinson's itself, since there seem to be as many variations in treatment as there are neurologists--but experts in dealing with the stresses, difficulties, and complications that my father faces every day of his life.

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Housing Options: Elder Care Strategies, Part One


Sometimes keeping an older person out of a care facility requires simple home modifications, sometimes it means moving to a place with no steps.

Burden, worry, concern, distress, trouble, stress, anxiety, problems: If these are part of your vocabulary when the subject of caring for the elderly comes up, you are not alone. These are very real and need to be addressed no matter how much you love Mama or Papa. There is much involved in caring for the older person in your life. It involves medical, financial (money really does matter even in matters of the heart), legal, emotional, and physical needs.

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Hospice

Hospice (from the linguistic root of "hospitality") originally meant a shelter or place of rest for weary or sick travelers on long journeys. Hospice supports patients by helping them manage symptoms and live their final days with dignity at home, or in a home-like setting. Approximately 90 percent of patient time is spent in personal residences, while some patients are cared for in nursing homes or hospice centers.

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Financial and Medical Services: Elder Care Strategies, Part Two

Let's talk about Medicare and Social Security, the most common assistance programs for the elderly. Many people with these benefits and their caregivers do not understand what is covered or how to use them, nor do they realize their rights. Many people are being denied the help they are entitled to and need simply from lack of information.

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Enabled Gardening

As our parents age, bit by bit the activities that bring them joy are lost as physical limitations set in. Gardening does not have to be one of those lost hobbies. With a little planning and adjustments, gardens can be made accessible for everyone.

Why gardening?
Both children and the elderly can enjoy and participate in gardening. It is an ideal vehicle to cultivate a shared interest and encourage family connections. Gardening can be adjusted to the participant's ability without being demeaning or insulting. And activity and absorption in a task can distract a person from pain and relieve stress.

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Easing Stroke Recovery on Your Own

My family and I live with my father. Looking at him now you might not know he's recovered from a stroke; he is an active man, walking every day and still driving. His speech and fine motor skills are good, and he can write almost as if nothing ever happened.
But it took lots of work on his part and on our part; Medicare refused to pay for professional rehabilitation help after his hospitalization. Here's how we did it together.

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Coming Full Circle


Slide, thunk, slide, thunk--my grandmother's wheeled walker provides counterpoint to her shuffling steps. Once a tall, strapping woman, now at 92, she's frail physically. Her once-sharp mind drifts out of focus. She hears better when she wears her hearing aids, but they provide amplified, distorted sound. We just don't sound to her as we used to. Macular degeneration has stolen the consolation of reading. She often can't distinguish people by sight. Increasingly, she appears to be resident in a world less and less recognizable to her.

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Caretaker Burnout

[grandmother graphic]You are one of the fine sons, daughters, or grandchildren of the world, willing to take on that task of helping an older relative through the golden years. You are responsible and kind, devoting love and care for your mom, dad or a dear someone.

You are also troubled by it. That is hard to admit, but true. Who has not had a bad day while raising a child? It is not that you do not love and adore the child when a bad day or "year" hits. The same goes for caring for an older adult in your life.

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Assisted Living

Assisted Living

An alternative to nursing home care
by Kellie Stevens, P.T.

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