Some of the toughest days for families can be the initial stages of the realization that their aging loved one doesn’t need to be alone. Maybe it’s Dad’s reoccurring falls that are frightening or the scare of an ER trip because Mom accidentally took too much medication. Whatever the cause for concern, don’t beat yourself up. As human beings, the aging process is difficult. Watching our parents or other loved ones’ deal with this is altogether more trying. It becomes at times a battle of wills. It is what many refer to as role reversal. And while it may seem like you are being paid back for your hard-headed childhood days…you must be strong and use good judgment.
First, you must come to terms with the role reversal. It is hard for us to wrap our heads around the idea that we are now the decision maker. Now, with this in mind…tread lightly and respectfully. We still respect our elders. But we must respect them enough to CARE for them and make tough decisions. It’s a difficult conversation when they don’t seem to want our help or don’t want to be a bother. But stay strong. It can be so trying to see our parents or aging loved ones become so vulnerable. If you have siblings try not to allow this time to be one where you pull apart or old sibling rivalries rear their heads. Pull together rather than away from each other. Regardless if you are an only child or have siblings, find a way to talk things out with a trusted friend. This role reversal is tough!
STAY STRONG! This can be hard when a parent becomes angry over independence issues but you are concerned for their safety. Don’t cave in or just put a literal band-aid on a gaping wound. Address the tough issues. Avoid letting them shut you out or try and convince you that everything is fine when you know clearly it is not. Don’t wait until you are in crisis mode before you address the issues that are at hand.
Talk to them with their physician. Go to those appointments and help be an advocate. Many parents welcome time with their children. It may be that during these appointments there is information that family members are not getting the full story. It also could be that the physician may need some information as to what is “really” going on. Your loved ones may not always remember or understand everything their physicians tell them either. As a complete CARE TEAM…you and your parent in conjunction with their primary care physician can make good sound choices.
Role reversal is no walk in the park. But much like raising children can be so incredibly tough…tending to aging parents in role reversal can be gut-wrenching because we view them as well…the parent. Remind them how much you love them. Be nurturing and be kind. Let them know that you want to help take care of them just as they took care of you. Maybe it wasn’t perfect. But life just isn’t. Do the right thing and seek guidance from a physician and trusted friends along the way.
Across the state at our different properties we have communities that have gardens right on property. We even have some residents (at their choosing) that manage the porch plants at their properties. As a person that lacks a green thumb, I’m so grateful! Gardening is good for you, and research confirms that the health benefits are striking for those who have reached the age of AARP eligibility. Routine activity — such as a little bit of gardening every day —promotes a longer, healthier life. So, what are the benefits?
Some benefits of GARDENING include:
- Helps mobility and flexibility
- Encourages use of all motor skills
- Can improve endurance and strength
- Helps prevent diseases such as osteoporosis
- Reduces stress levels
- While there are many wonderful benefits of gardening, you still must be SAFE and use precautions!
There are a few cautions for senior gardeners. They should:
- Wear a hat and protective clothing to protect from damage to the sun
- Wear sunscreen on all exposed skin and reapply it every two hours
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
- Be careful not to be out in the hottest part of the day
Without fail, following a holiday season, assisted living communities will see an increase in calls and inquiries from concerned family members looking for help. What happens that makes this such a pivotal time? Well like most of us, we live in a fast-paced world. We don’t see each other as often as we would like. Getting together, taking time to travel and perhaps having your senior loved one out of the comfort of their own home to celebrate a holiday creates obstacles. During these visits, we might discover that simple tasks become difficult. Things that we thought were okay, truly are not. It may be time to consider the fact that Mom or Dad being at home alone just isn’t the best scenario anymore.
What are some of the BIG things to keep an eye on? Let’s call these the BIG 3 RED FLAGS.
Red Flag Number One
Physical Changes: The first things that come to mind here are weight and balance. Has your loved one had a significant change? Don’t miss the obvious signs. Watch for changes in sleeping patterns too. I also remind adult children to be sure and go with their parent to a doctor visit when they can. Be sure the physician is aware of your concerns. Role reversal is SO DIFFICULT! But remember you can help be an advocate for the physical well-being of your loved one.
Red Flag Number Two
Mental Health: This can be related to the sleep factor. Too much or too little will obviously affect mental health. But ask yourself and your loved one…how much interaction do they have with others? Have there been changes in hygiene? Is the home that was once spotless now in complete disarray? If there is an obvious change in things that were once important or if they seem like they are disinterested in social activity, don’t just chalk it up to the aging process. This may be a sign of a physical issue or they just may need more socialization. Again, talk with them and their primary care physician to decide what will be the best intervention.
Red Flag Number Three
Medications: Have you ever visited someone and they literally have medication all over the place? It is a scary thing for someone to think that their loved one is unsure or unsafe when it comes to medications. You want to be sure that the right medications are taken by the right person, the right route at the right time and the right dosage. If you question this even for a minute, you don’t need to turn a blind eye.
It is not going to be easy. As I said above ROLE REVERSAL is not for the faint of heart. The hardest part may be just starting the conversation. But it is a conversation that you don’t want to put off until “something happens”. Here is an extremely useful tool that you can download now or check out on our website that will help open the conversation. The “How Do I Know When It’s Time” checklist is a wonderful resource to help shed light on the option of Assisted Living. Check it out today at http://www.gardensofeufaula.com/docs/Resources/HowWillIKnowWhenIamReadyHandout.pdf
The holidays are a great time to visit our communities. For information on how to set up a tour at one of our Great Oaks Management properties call us today at 1-888-258-8082.
There are many reasons that family members become concerned that an elderly loved one is not doing well. One issue that is a cause for concern is bathing or rather the lack thereof. A parent not bathing is a topic that many families are reluctant to discuss as they may be uncomfortable bringing it up. But be assured that this is an issue that many people face. It is common…but there may be multiple root causes. It is important to understand why they are reluctant. Only when you understand that the underlying reasons can you better approach and address successfully. Let’s look at some of the more common reasons.
- Fear of Falling
The bathroom can be a very dangerous place. If you have every slipped in the shower, you can relate. Now you pair the environment with physical issues like foot problems, balance issues, arthritis and more…and you have a recipe for disaster and fear.
Often elderly have issues with depression that can zap their get up and go. When you lack motivation, bathing and concerns for your grooming often go by the wayside.
- Cognitive Issues
Another reason that is very common are memory issues. If your parent has dementia or other cognitive decline, keeping up with a bathing schedule can be extremely difficult. Realizing that you haven’t taken a bath is not something they may be able to keep up with easily.
While it may be a difficult subject to approach, you must develop a plan. For some simply adding grab bars or safety equipment may help. Some may be able to follow a chart. But if it is a depression or memory issue, it may be time to consider getting help. As always discuss your concerns with a doctor. A physician may want to consider medications to help with depression. It may be time to enlist the help of a caregiver or look into an assisted living community where your loved one can have daily assistance with their activities of daily life like bathing and grooming. But don’t avoid the topic because it is messy and uncomfortable. The health benefits of cleanliness are far too important to ignore.
June is National Safety Month. For seniors, safety takes on many different shapes. In Assisted Living, we find that some of these safety issues are the primary reasons families will reach out for help for their elderly loved ones. One of the primary safety concerns is that of medications.
Heads on Meds
If you are worried that your loved one is not taking their medications as prescribed…or too much…or not at all…then it may be time to consider assisted living. We all know that misuse of medications can cause all sorts of problems, or in some serious cases even death. Assisted Living communities can provide residents with assistance with their daily and as needed medications. Residents must meet the requirements for admission to a community, including being able to identify your name on your medications. Staff are trained to assist residents in taking their meds using the:
- The right route.
- The right time.
- The right resident.
- The right documentation.
Medication management also helps prevent against a loved one taking a medication that has expired.. Looking out for the safety of your elderly loved ones in regards to their meds is one way that residing in an assisted living can help families find peace of mind.
For more information on one of our assisted living communities visit our website:
For most centenarians, long life is a precious gift and not a burden. At 103 years old, Sue Clark remembers most everything from her life – names of old friends, growing up on a farm in Giles County, Tennessee, details of her husband’s transfer to Redstone Arsenal, receiving a teaching degree from Martin College, enjoying a good golf game, and memories of watching her students grow. The Limestone Manor resident and retired kindergarten teacher has remained happy and healthy by staying busy (and motivating others to join the fun). She recently celebrated her birthday on March 3 with neighbors, friends, family and the mayor!
Listening to Sue Clark share fun memories was fascinating. After moving to Athens, Mrs. Clark started a home kindergarten in 1963 that helped mold and shape many a student. She created the foundation for students to use their imaginations and grow their intellect. With a twinkle in her eye, she talked about her 20 year career in teaching and the various activities she did to make learning fun. Her stories included everything from building a playhouse in the backyard to train-rides, to “Hobo Hikes” and eating a sack lunch in an open field. It was obvious that she loved children and motivating them was her biggest reward. You could tell that Mrs. Clark was having fun too!
Another thing that she enjoyed was music and being involved in church. Mrs. Clark was part of a singing group, The Merry Makers. After closing her kindergarten, she told a friend…”I have all of these band instruments left over from teaching, what can we do with them?” They organized a group that performed around town. The Merry Makers and their entertainment is what originally brought her to Limestone Manor Assisted Living, where Mrs. Clark now resides.
Sue Clark first visited the senior community singing and spreading cheer to everyone. As a resident, she now enjoys the varied activities and especially the music that Limestone Manor has to offer. But truth be told she still loves to tell stories. These she now shares with the other residents, staff, family, friends and many visitors at the Manor. Her walls beautifully display a lifetime of memories. But the true beauty of the trip down memory lane…comes straight from the source.
I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life that someone offered me chocolate that I refused. That may be why I typically keep a pair of Spanx close by. But I must say that one of all-time favorite chocolate treats is a slice of chocolate layer cake. We have a precious lady at the Gardens that makes the absolute best chocolate cake that I have ever put in my mouth! So… when she agreed to put the recipe out to share on the blog, I jumped at the chance.
But before we get to that…here is a little background on the lady we affectionately refer to as ‘Aunt Dimp”
Dimple Zorn grew up just outside of Clayton, Alabama. She is a former Gardens of Eufaula queen and I tease her that she keeps the roads hot staying on the go… She has a love for life and is the mother of 3 wonderful children as well as the grandmother to 5 grandsons and 2 great grandsons and 2 great granddaughters. She was married to her late husband, Willie Ray for 66 years. Aunt Dimp told me that she started learning from her Mother how to cook at the age of 9 or 10. She says that she has always loved baking. She has agreed to help us learn to bake her special chocolate cake during an activity this week at the Gardens of Eufaula. This recipe has always been a requested favorite in her family. I hope you will take this recipe and share it with someone you love.
Aunt Dimp’s Chocolate Layer Cake
2 cups sugar
3 cups self-rising flour
1 cup oil
1 cup milk
Mix above ingredients together. Spray pans well with Bakers Choice (with flour). For 9 inch pans use ¾ cup of batter and for 8 inch pans use ½ cup of batter. Bake at 350 degrees until done. Cake layers will not brown much.
3 cups sugar
½ cup cocoa
19 oz. can evaporated milk
2 ½ sticks margarine or butter
Mix above ingredients together. Let them come to a boil for 3 ½ minutes. Stack each layer and cover with filling. Then stack again until all layers have been stacked together with filling in between each layer.
Years of baking this cake taught me to add 3 extra tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon Karo light syrup to the remaining filling. Boil until thick, approximately 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Cover the entire cake with this mixture. Doing this makes a pretty cake.
Depending on the size cake pan you use, this cake will be 11 to 13 layers.
I think that the hardest part of being a caregiver is dealing with the guilt. There is never enough time in the day. You bought the wrong kind of soap, stamps or razors or whatever it is…you just can’t catch a break. I think that life in general can sometimes be structured to wear us down. We think we are so smart being so connected and so able to communicate and work and multi-task. Sometimes we just need to stop, push back and say…no. I am the world’s WORST at this. I don’t want to let anyone down. In my mind…my goal is to help everyone. But if I (or you) don’t take time to rest then how can we be good for anyone? So here are some tips to de-program and reduce caregiver stress.
- Ask for help. You know the help you have been providing. But write down what that help entails. No one person can do it alone. It may even be time to consider the move to an assisted living. Asking for help doesn’t mean you don’t care or that you are not going to be part of the team. It just means you care enough to reach out.
- Realize your limitations. It’s impossible to be all things to all people. Sometimes our mindset that “only we can provide the help” is actually damaging for our loved ones. You may be thinking that you are helping someone by enabling them to stay alone…when in actuality they may do better in a community setting and your “help” may be depriving them of a better situation. Meanwhile it may also be running you ragged!
- Take time for you. If you think that only taking your loved ones to their doctor visits and cancelling your checkups is going to serve you well…think again. You need time to recharge your batteries and make sure that you are healthy both mentally and physically. Many caregivers suffer serious health issues while taking care of others. Be sure to take care of you!
- Talk it out. Phone a friend.. Have dinner with your spouse or seek the counsel of a peer going through the same situation. You can even find support groups for caregivers. Your stress is not in your head! Not to mention that it is not good to keep it all inside. Having a friendly chat can prove therapeutic and can also be a way to give and get advice for those sharing similar experiences.
While strumming his guitar my Dad once told me that when it came to singing or playing an instrument that you must use it or lose it. That’s crazy I thought. I mean if you have an ability, you have an ability… right? WRONG! Try singing after not having done it in a few years and you might be shocked at the quality or tone that you produce. It’s not pretty, trust me. Just in the way that you must utilize a talent to keep it going, you also must work your brain to keep it healthy.
According to John E. Morley, MD, director of St. Louis University’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and author of The Science of Staying Young, “simple games like Sudoku and word games are good, as well as comic strips where you find things that are different from one picture to the next,”In addition to word games, there are other brain stimulating activities.
- Socialization to improve the brain situation! According to the Alzheimer’s Association, studies show that seniors who regularly participate in social interactions can retain their brain health. So keep connected with others. For those friends and family that live far away, correspondence by e-mail or social media or even writing letters can keep you connected. Don’t stay holed up in your house alone. This is not healthy for you on multiple levels including your brain.
- Keep Moving! A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that, among seniors, “moderate physical activity is associated with a reduced incidence of cognitive impairment after 2 years.” Simply taking a walk or doing chair exercise is a great way to get that heart pumping and keep the blood flowing to the brain.
- Lay Your Cards on the Table Playing games with others is another way to maintain and increase brain health. Regularly playing board or card games, or engaging in other intellectually stimulating games with others helps keep your mind active.
The vitality of your brain is the superhighway to your overall health. There are also many brain healthy foods that physicians recommend. Check out the following list from healthable.org for a list of Foods to Keep Your Brain Fit!
For information on one of our properties visit http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com
I can still see her face and hear her laugh. She was the first social director I knew at an assisted living. Was she on the staff? Oh no! She was a sharp dressed lady named Geraldine with an even sharper wit. Affectionately known to her family as “Gigi” she was one of the first ladies who taught me that residents in an assisted living have lots of living left to do. Ms. Geraldine would keep me apprised as to the latest “goings on” with the royals. Gigi loved Will and Kate and a good game of Skip Bo. She and the other ladies that made up her Skip Bo group were the first group I affectionately referred to as my sorority rush committee. Ms. Geraldine would be the first to tell you…life in assisted living is not about bingo and bedtime. It is much more and can be so fulfilling. She spent her golden years of life loving her family and her friends and living each day to its fullest. So, if you are looking at assisted living for yourself or a loved one…what are the benefits of the social aspects?
Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found evidence that “elderly people in the U.S. who have an active social life may have a slower rate of memory decline. In fact, memory decline among the most sociable was less than half the rate among the least sociable. Senior author Lisa Berkman, chair of the Department of Society, Human Development and Health, went on to say, “We know from previous studies that people with many social ties have lower mortality rates. We now have mounting evidence that strong social networks can help to prevent declines in memory. As our society ages and has more and more older people, it will be important to promote their engagement in social and community life to maintain their well-being.”
Studies show that lack of socialization is linked to negative impacts on health and well-being, especially for older people. Having a variety of social opportunities and activities vastly improve the psychological and physical health of seniors. The benefits include reducing stress, increasing physical health, and defeating psychological problems such as depression and anxiety.
Assisted living promotes socialization with everything from a robust activities calendar to dining together in a community setting. Engaging in activities and other community events allows seniors to bond with new friends while promoting physical and mental health. This can prolong their quality of life and overall life expectancy. Does this sounds like something that would benefit your elderly loved one and you want to know more? Check out our latest Activities Calendar to see what is going on at one of our communities near you at www.greatoaksmanagement.com or call us today at 1-888-258-8082.
*In memory of former resident Geraldine Reilly.
Thank you to her family for allowing us to share this in her memory.