Tag Archive | Comfort Keepers

Choose Your Battles – Effects of Dementia on the Family

MP900442315 By Cindy Sproles
Entering the “golden years” of life should be a joyful and exciting time. For most, the years when retirement becomes a reality and life grows less stressful, is a wonderful time. If aging parents have planned well, their homes are paid for, expenses are overall less, and this season of life, by all due rights, should be a time to relax and enjoy. But what happens when the hopes and dreams of a well-planned retirement shifts?

According to the Institute for Dementia Research & Prevention, there over “5 million individuals with age-related dementias.” One in six women, and one in ten men over the age of 55 will be affected by some form of Alzheimer’s or dementia.  Thanks to cutting edge research, new methods of treatment, including medications, cognitive skills tasks, and physical activity are being developed to help manage dementia.

In an article from Helpguide.org, dementia includes a various assortment of symptoms from memory loss, personality changes, to impaired intellectual functions. Along with the decrease in memory, impaired judgment, faulty reasoning, inappropriate behaviors, loss of communication skills, and disorientation accompany the disease. All of these symptoms mean frustration for the affected parent and the family members.

It is still a mystery as to why our affected aging parents become obstinate to those they love the most, but the key to dealing with any form of dementia is learning to pick your battles. Frequently, well-meaning family members find themselves continually correcting facts with  their seniors who deal with memory loss. For example, a senior may say, “Isn’t that yellow couch pillow beautiful?” The pillow is actually blue.  There’s no need to correct the loved one, when the color of the pillow really doesn’t matter. The instinct to help the loved one remember the color blue comes with good intentions. However, correcting a senior over something this simple is frustrating and leads to agitation.

It’s important to understand, depending on the severity of the dementia, your aging parent is aware their memory is not serving them efficiently. They grow frustrated and irritable when they cannot control the thoughts they once managed successfully.  There comes a time when  therapeutic fiblets  are considered not only appropriate, but necessary. Therapeutic fiblets are those necessary lies that allow affected seniors to maintain a high quality of life over a life of anger, frustration, and feelings of disrespect. Our nature pushes us to tell only the truth to our aging seniors. Never lie to your elders. But when the world of reality for your aging parent is thirty years prior and not today, forcing current facts on them sends them into a state of chaos.  Should your parent think they are living with their spouse, who in reality passed away twenty years earlier, is forced into current reality, they are put at risk. One of two things can happen: 1) they will accept the news and begin the mourning process over  2) the parent will adamantly deny the truth. Therapeutic fiblets become a necessary fact in dealing with dementia.

Diagnosis for dementia and Alzheimer’s can be a slow process especially in the early, milder phases.  Memory slips are easily hidden or brushed to the side, but as the disease progresses and loved ones drift forward and back in time, what becomes most important is their quality of life. It is vital family members understand dementia is a progression. Though simple word games, and reading are good ways to help exercise and maintain the brain, they are not fixes. Dementia does not improve, rather it only leads to eventual decline. Learning to choose the important battles are important.  Providing a stress free environment becomes the primary goal so patients are relaxed and comfortable. Debating the day of the week or the color of a couch become less important and allowing a good quality of life takes the lead.

As loved ones slip deeper into themselves, recognition fades, names seem to go to the wayside, but the love that is felt by a caring family never leaves. Dementia is difficult at best, but holding tight to the joys of that wonderful parent are precious.

*Develop good habits and routines early on, i.e. putting the keys in the same bowl by the door every time, using post-it notes for reminders, securing a personal emergency response button.
*Simplify choices by paring down clothing in closets or lessening dishes and kitchen utensils. Rid the home of clutter. The fewer decisions that must be made for your loved one, the better.
*Have an on-the-road driving evaluation made to assure operating a vehicle is still a good choice.
*Chat with family and friends. This keeps the mind alert. Social interaction is vital to help maintain memory skills.
*Emphasize the joy in life.

Visit https://www.alz.org/ (Alzheimer’s Association) for additional information on caring for family members with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Making the Move – Home to Assisted Living

by Cindy Sproles

It goes without saying, the decision to move a parent into an assisted living or nursing home facility is both heart wrenching and guilt filled. There is no doubt parents are happier in their own environment. Ninety-nine percent of the time, they thrive much better from their homes due to this one simple thing: A sense of independence. But what happens when it is obvious a move must be made?
Many time aging parents are reluctant – even determined, they will not move into a facility and the one card they have to play, is the guilt card. “I’ve taken care of you all your life and you just want to put me away now?” Understandably, this is a normal response to the possibilities of losing your independence.

Even the most loving parent can dig into the depths and find something to make the decision harder. Despite our best efforts, the decision to make this move can tear a family apart. Your job, and the jobs of your siblings is to prepare in advance. Sometimes the best a child can hope for is cooperation, even if it’s begrudging.

There are ways to make the transition easier and they begin well before a parent needs the assistance:

*Have the discussion – Talk with aging parents early on and hash out scenarios that can be written down and placed into important papers. Address the what ifs. What if you fall and become unable to care for yourself? What if your memory becomes clouded and you cannot remember to eat, or bathe? What if your children are living in other states? There are lots of what ifs that your family can discuss. Address these things when parents are in good health and a bit more reasonable, then, many times the guilt of making this decision vanishes.

*Do the paperwork – Take time to make preparations for aging parents. Secure necessary power of attorney for health and durable power of attorney for daily living care. Check into setting up a revocable trust that parents can divert funds or their home into which remain untouched for their care. Seek the assistance of the bank to place one executer as an owner on all bank accounts, IRA and insurance policies (simply having your name on the signature card does not allow you access to necessary funds in the event of death or an emergency). Put a living will, as well as an after-life will, into play and have copies handy in the event of an emergency. Place insurance, doctor’s names and phone numbers, pharmacies, and even copies of prescriptions and medication lists into a 3-ring binder for easy access. Add copies of drivers licenses, social security card, insurance cards – any cards that you feel might be necessary as times progresses. Having these things in place saves chaos and confusion when they are needed.

*Visit facilities – Take time to visit facilities. See what each one offers. Check out costs, insurance coverages, and out-of-pocket expenses. Check with the families of other residents and see how the care stacks up with their loved one.

When the time arrives you feel a move is necessary for the health and safety of your parent, make a doctor’s appointment, first without the parent and then later with the parent affected. Ask your questions, express your concerns. Give the doctor a heads up on your loved one. Then schedule an appointment with the parent. Allow the doctor to do a fair assessment and testing, and if the medical professional deems it necessary, allow them to be the one to recommend a move. Many times, aging parents will listen to the doctor before they will listen to their children. Again, it’s the fear of losing independence. Have and exhibit a show of compassion for this blow to your aging parent. It hurts and honestly, it’s frightening, so try to roll with the punches.

Once the doctor has delivered the news, allow your parent some time to absorb the news. Don’t rush out of the office and into a facility. Offer your loved one some space to gather their thoughts and take in the reality of first – aging to this point; and secondly, releasing their independence. It is, after all, a life altering decision.

Making the Move

*Take time to sort through possessions as a family – A few weeks prior to moving your parent, take time to sift through belongings with them. Allow them to pick and choose what they need to take. Remember they, they have to mentally adjust to having their possessions dispersed. Help them choose the sentimental items they can take with them that will keep their family and sense of familiarity close. Allow aging parents to give certain items to particular family members.

elderly-handsA family recently moved their mother into an assisted living. Her great granddaughter had married a few months prior and grandmother was able to completely provide her granddaughter with all the necessities of homemaking – a new washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, dishes, etc. It was a joy for this grandmother to give these items to her great grandchild knowing they would provide her with the same warmth and joy of housekeeping as they’d provided herself. The key to sorting through possessions with an aging parent is taking the time to reminisce as items are packed away. Once again, be compassionate.

*Purchase a new mattress – Though this can be costly, it’s worth the effort. It’s difficult enough to sleep in a strange surrounding, but making the most of rest is vital. It sounds silly, but a new mattress that is comfortable helps lull your loved one into a more restful sleep. And a good night’s sleep is worth the effort. Loved ones will rest better, eat better, and have a healthier attitude if they are well rested.

*Don’t forget to take the hobbies – If your mother is an active seamstress, take her sewing. If dad is an avid reader, make sure he has access to his reading. Try to make room for their favorite chair. It’s the little things that mean the most.

*Keep their routine – If you visit weekly prior to the move, continue to do so. Routine is important. If mom has her hair done weekly, keep the routine. Not only do these routines help maintain “normal,” they also allow a sense of independence to care for one’s self. Take parents shopping, to church, and on outings. Being pro-active is vital. Your job as a caregiver at home may have lessened but it has not ended. Remain in close contact with your aging parents. It will make all the difference in the world.

The decision to move into an assisted living or nursing home facility is hard but as a family, you can make the transition a joy and an adventure.

Adding a caregiver into the mix will help make the transition easier, especially in the evenings when family has gone home. Will there still be bumps in the road? More than likely. Will all transitions be an easy fix? Probably not. But if you make the effort to make the move as easy and natural as possible, the weight and guilt of the decision is easier.

The Terrible F-word…Fear

As baby boomers assume more and more responsibility for their aging parents a number of issues move to the forefront—questions that need to be answered, fears that need to be soothed.

Providing appropriate care for our aging parents places a huge and unexpected burden on young families. Adult children are torn as to how to offer the most appropriate care for their parents.

Here are a few suggestions which will help ease the fear that accompanies the decisions for our aging parents.

Private caregivers verses company hired caregivers. The first choice of family members for the care of their elder parents is immediate family members. However, extended family quickly dissipates as the weeks of care progress. Immediate family members have the responsibility to care for their own families as well as their parents. One cannot interrupt the regular schedule of a home for an extended time without dire consequences.

A second choice is to hire private duty caregivers. These usually come from friends or  media sources such as classified ads. Though there are many wonderful caregivers found through this method, families are placing themselves in a high risk situation.

If a private duty caregiver is ill or out of town, families are left without care for their senior. For every one caregiver hired outside a company that is wonderful there are five who will not be reliable.

Most insurance companies will not cover any injury to a private duty caregiver under the homeowners policy. Why? This is a workman’s compensation claim and most general homeowner polices do not provide coverage for “employees” of the homeowner. You are at serious risk to be sued to cover major medical expenses.

Backgrounds checks are costly and difficult to attain for the average individual. Most families will only attain a county background check and assume their search is complete. Full background searches through a national data base are necessary to protect your family and your senior from serious consequence.

The benefits of a caregiver company.  There is no question that it is more costly to attain the services of a company who provides caregivers. However, the benefits far outweigh the cost.

By hiring a licensed and bonded company you are hiring quality and responsibility. Many companies are not licensed, bonded, and insuranced even though the State of Tennessee requires these items. Companies who are licensed adhere to the strict standards set by the State and Federal guidelines and are accountable for their actions. Families who hire companies have a mediator in the event there should be any questionable actions of the company providing care.

Companies provide their own liability insurance as well as their own workman’s compensation to cover their employees. And quality companies bill the client, taking any financial responsibilities away from the caregiver and providing records for insurance and accounting.

You will not be left without care. Companies provide quality caregivers and should one become ill or be unable to work, they are able to replace that caregiver quickly and keep your family on track.

By hiring a quality company such as Comfort Keepers, the needs of your loved one will be met with pride, love and compassion taking the fear away from the family and allowing exceptional care that is necessary to keep the aging parent comfortable and happy.

Loving Care for Aging Parents – Part Two

MP900444005In part one of Loving Care for Aging Parents we listed questions necessary to help family members begin to make a plan of care for aging parents. From the physical needs of the parent to personal affairs and financing. Now it’s time to put together a plan.

Finding a Caregiver

There are important issues to consider when a family decides to find a caregiver and generally two options for locating a caregiver. Here you will find the pros and cons of both.

Hiring a Private Duty Caregiver

There are many wonderful people willing to be paid as a caregiver however when hiring a private duty caregiver there are some things that should be considered.

*Private Duty may be less dollars per hour – Pro
*Someone has to pay the employment taxes – Con
*Homeowners insurance does not cover private duty caregivers under the medical portion of a policy. –
Con
*Someone must provide workman’s compensation in the event of caregiver injury – Con
*Background checks should be done by the family, not accepted from the caregiver applying- Con
*Dependability issues – Con

Though hiring a private duty caregiver may cost less per hour it does not always pan out in the long run. Unemployment taxes still must be paid, if a family is to be honest. Many people are paid, “under the table” but this is not legal nor ethical. If your family chooses to hire private duty, then check with local state agencies to handle the taxes, social security and Medicare costs that should be paid.

A huge misconception for many is a homeowners policy’s medical payments will pay if a caregiver is injured in the home. Not so. Medical payments cover “guests” in the home, not paid individuals who work for the homeowner. It’s not out of the question for homeowners to be sued. Workman’s Compensation can be pricey but certainly not like being sued.

Finally, background checks should be done by the hiring family. It’s important that families invest the $25-$30 to do local and national background checks. Never accept a background check from the caregiver. These can easily be manipulated so for the best care possible for aging parents, do background checks yourself.

Finally, when hiring private duty, personal illness and issues must be taken into account. Should your caregiver be unable to work then your parent is left without care.

Though there are many private duty caregivers who are wonderful, the financial aspect is not as cheap as it seems.

Hiring a Caregiver Company

Below are pros and cons to hiring a company to provide caregiver services.

*Price – higher than private caregiver – Con
*Care is sometimes bundled in price packaging – Con
*Payment is made to the company rather than directly to caregiver – Pro
*Workman’s Compensation is provided – Pro
*Background checks are done yearly – Pro
*Shifts will always be filled – Pro
*All local and state unemployment taxes are paid by the company – Pro
*Long term care insurance can be filed – Pro
*Caregivers can be switched from time to time to add variety or replace a caregiver who is not up to par
Pro
*Home and financial assets are not tied up – Pro

Yes, the price of hiring a caregiver company is a bit higher, but when the individual costs hire and maintain a private duty caregiver revert to the consumer it doesn’t take long to see the value in hiring a company. When families hire a company, use good common sense. Ask if total price is all inclusive or if services are charged according to the task. Some companies will say their cost is $10 per hour but if a bath is given to a client, the price goes up an additional $10. Suddenly the costs are now $20 per hour. Check that charges are all inclusive with the exception of holidays.

The hassle of paying unemployment taxes, Social Security and Medicare are the responsibility of the company as well as providing workman’s compensation . Companies also bond their employees and carry employee theft and liability insurances. Background checks are required by law and companies must meet Federal and State mandates for elder care.

Hiring a company means families will never be without a caregiver should the primary caregiver be ill or on vacation and long term health insurance will pay if a company is working in the home where many make exclusions for private caregivers. Should you find a caregiver whose personality doesn’t quite mesh a company can provide a change.

Finally hiring a company does not tie up home and personal assets. When a parent enters a facility, their assets are part of the financial care obligation.

Every family must choose for themselves what they think the best method of care is for an aging parent. With these tools the decision process should be a bit easier.

The Joys of Parenthood

Senior woman contemplatingThere is no greater gift than parenthood.  Just to hold our newborn infants close brings a whole new meaning to life.  In our youth we long to have a family and once that gift arrives the future years are spent nurturing, growing and developing these children.  Children depend on their parents for moral support, guidance and even financial aid at times.  There is a certain comfort and peace in knowing our parents are always a phone call away.  For parents – the gift of a strong bond with their children is everlasting.

Then the tide turns. The waters that once rushed forward into the lives of children now recede, and the ability of the parent lessens; not from desire but from physical ailments. Aging. Dementia. Frailness. The realization of aging attacks and children suddenly understand parents are unable to do the things they used to do. It’s a hard realization, but if it’s hard for the children, imagine how difficult it is for the aging parent.

Children will see definite changes in the attitude and disposition of their parents and it is important they understand the steps of acceptance for their parents.

Anger – Anger is one of the first stages of acceptance seniors experience. A tough skin is important. Learning to understand when aging parents lash out, it’s not personal, even when harsh words are hurtful. Nothing can describe the frustration of being unable to do the simplest tasks. Walking, buttoning a shirt, brushing teeth. The simple tasks of daily living begin to slip through their fingers. It’s enough to grasp being over 70 but when fingers won’t bend, legs won’t lift, climbing stairs becomes slow and painful, frustration and anger set in.  Aging parents lash out as they fight for the one thing held most precious to us all – independence.

Depression – Depression is not uncommon for seniors. It’s an adjustment – slowing down, learning to let others help. Watch for signs of depression and attend to them immediately.  A severe decrease in appetite, less conversation, excessive sleeping… are all signs of depression. Depression is not always an easy fix but seeking the help of the primary care physician as well as additional check-up calls and visits from friends and family help. Most importantly, encourage your parent to do what they are able.  It may take longer to walk around the block, but walking is good.  Always check with their physician as to what can be done or not.

Helplessness – There is a sense of helplessness attached to releasing physical care to a child. The ability to be johnny-on-the-spot when a child is in need fades due to illness or frailty. Work with aging parents to maintain their usefulness. Make them a viable and important part of the family. Seek outside caregivers through reputable companies such as Comfort Keepers, to help seniors maintain a good quality of activity and a sense of being needed.

The steps into aging acceptance can be rocky at best, but with patience and love aging parents will come into compliance with reality. Above all else, continue to be an active part of your parent’s lives – develop wonderful lasting memories for the future.

 

 

Planning for Eldercare

Our golden years are supposed to one of the most wonderful times of our lives. Retirement and rest, grandchildren, travel, and the freedom to enjoy the things one has worked toward should be a joyous time. But for many the golden years are hard. The economy alone has taken a bite from hard earned savings that our elderly had planned on for extended care. Medical expenses continue to sore and Federal benefits that have been paid into for years trickle instead of pour into the hands of those who’ve worked and waited to be recipients.

For some even the early part of the golden years are plagued with health issues. This is the time roles reverse and the children who were once cared for by parents become the caregivers. Medical advancements, medications and facility care have increased the longevity of our seniors. Statistics show that approximately 44% of America’s baby boomers are now caregivers, turning the numbers into 2 out of every 7 families facing the in-home extended care of their parents.

Assisted living facilities are springing up across the country for those who have the means to invest in that specific care and nursing homes are at capacity with those who cannot. We have to wonder what will happen in years to come with a system that can barely manage the care of these valuable individuals.

Today’s world no longer offers an easy way to help manage the lives of those who helped build this country. The busyness and lack of priorities cause many families to call the care of their loved ones, “a problem” not a blessing.

An independent study done through students at the University of California at Berkley found the growing number of seniors requiring even minor assistance in their golden years is on the rise and quickly developing into full-time needs. In-home caregivers now provide for 25% of those who are receiving care. Of these “informal” caregivers less that 5% have adequate training.

Seeking the help of licensed caregiving agencies is becoming more and more important in protecting and providing exceptional care for our aging loved ones. Unfortunately, extended care is not free. Many individuals live with the misconception that Medicare provides coverage for this need when in fact, it doesn’t. When families hire a licensed company to aid in the assistance of their loved ones, certain guarantees fall into place. Licensed agencies, such as Comfort Keepers, perform full background, driving and credit checks on all employees. They carry workman’s compensation and business liability insurance that not only protects them, but their clients as well. A licensed company offers continued training to their employees and adheres to the state and federal standards set for the industry. When you hire a licensed company such as Comfort Keepers, you are hiring dependability and reliability.

Aging is difficult and coming to that realization is hard for our parents. Their dignity and self-esteem fall when they feel as though they are a problem.

Famed children’s author Shel Silverstein once wrote,

“Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the old man.”
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the old man.””

Allow Comfort Keepers to provide that much needed love, assistance and encouragement for your loved one. Place their care in the hands of capable caregivers