Tag Archive | nursing home

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.

What About Our Elders

By Cindy Sproles

“Place the elderly in prisons. They will get a hot shower a day, video surveillance to ensure immediate nursing assistance (i.e., in the case of a fall – many elderly victims will be stuck for hours without assistance,) three meals a day, access to a library, computer, TV, and a gym. Put criminals in nursing homes. They have cold meals, lights off at 7pm, one bath a week, live in a smaller room and pay rent at $4,000 a month! It’s pretty sad that we treat prisoners better than the elderly. (But not surprising.)”

In September 2011 this paragraph hit Facebook and thousands of blogs across the country. Though unsure of its origin, hundreds of thousands of people posted and reposted this paragraph to show their disgust in our country’s health care system and in protest of the twisted idea of elder care.

Though, as Christians, our plight is to love our neighbor as ourselves, it’s hard to find the justification in a system that seems this twisted.

Example: Marybeth had tried for days to contact her elderly neighbor, Stella. Stella had family but they lived out of town so Marybeth would check on her weekly to make sure she had food. Today, she called 911 and after hours of waiting for permission, firemen slammed in Stella’s door only to find her at the foot of her steps, walker upside down, legs twisted, and deceased.

Stella received a minimal check from Social Security, barely enough to pay her power bill. She had no one to help her apply for food stamps and no money to even pay for a medic alert button. Stella died as a result of neglect.

Thousands of our elderly, our national treasures – warriors of this country’s freedom and rights, are left to fend for themselves during a time in their lives when they are least able to manage.

Aging bodies take even the sharpest mind and deteriorate personal skill levels to a point of need. Some require massive assistance while others simply need help dressing. The point is simple. Do to others as you would have them do to you Luke 6:31.

Family is important and for so many who no longer have this luxury, it’s a need that should be met.

Whom ever wrote the phrase, “Place the elderly in prison,” may have had a point. At least in prison our national treasures would have care.

As the year begins, remember Luke 6:31. Remember our elderly and ponder on the fact someday you too will be in need. Cherish your aging parents, love your neighbor, treat others as you wish to be treated and lift a hand to assist our elderly. It may be you who is the difference in life and death.

And So It Begins…

Children depend on parents. It’s how it’s meant to be. Couples marry, have children and raise them. Their rewards usually come in the form of grandchildren, which at times, means grandparent-dom becomes parenting all over again. The fact is society has changed its view of the family unit. Parents are needed when their children are young, used when their children begin to raise their own families and then become abandoned as the elderly.

It’s a sad fact but true, in the United States our elderly are considered a problem, lower class citizens. Eastern countries honor their seniors placing their care above all other things. Even poorer third world countries refuse to push their aging parents out to fend for themselves. What has happened in America?

Perhaps in our effort to better ourselves we’ve lost sight of the importance of family and the circle of life which bonds us. As a nation, we’ve worked hard to make ourselves independent of others not realizing the end result falls to greed, stubbornness and ultimately, loneliness. 2011 marked the first year Baby Boomers “came of age,” hitting age 65 themselves and though they have raised their own children they are grossly unprepared to care for their own aging parents.

A critical first step to aging parental care is having that first conversation, laying it all on the table. Baby Boomers have to ask the question, “Mom, Dad…what about your care?” No one said this would be an easy conversation. Let’s face it. Talking about our aging brings our immortality into reality.

Still this is not a conversation that should be put on hold until the day mom or dad finally concede to assistance. Mother has a heart attack or Daddy is 90+ and getting feeble. They need help. You need help helping.

The roles of parent and child reverse. The loving parent, the caregiver for 65 years of your life is now the one who needs care and you are now the caregiver. I’m going to walk you through some important steps to help you pull together a good quality of care for your parents. Within these pages you’ll find simple how-to’s, good solid advice and even tough love.

Take a deep breath and prepare for the golden years. Perhaps along the way, you’ll see the importance of having these same conversations with your own children.

So it begins….caring for an aging parent. Our goal – to help ease the transition, to award you a new and appropriate title for your position and to allow you to enjoy the end years of the ones who have loved and cared for you so faithfully.

Water! Water!

By Cindy Sproles

Marybeth was the new charge nurse in a prominent nursing home facility. As she perused the hallways after resident meals were served, she noticed carton after carton of unopened milk, 8 oz. glasses of cellophane sealed tea and cups of coffee…all untouched. “My residents aren’t taking in fluids.” She commented to the board. “I want to begin a campaign to encourage our people to drink more water.”

So she did. It took time, but Marybeth and her CNA’s poured cups of ice water, inserted straws and even gently placed the straws to the lips of weaker residents. Small cups of crushed ice were given to residents throughout the day. Two months passed and Marybeth and her staffed noticed a number of unique things. First, more of the residents were sitting in the lounge area. They were alert, chatting and social. Better yet, many who would normally refuse to walk, were tooling around the halls on their walkers.

Life at the residence had greatly improved and Marybeth gave the credit to her staff for their continued efforts in encouraging their patients to drink more water. “Things changed after we begin to hydrate our patients.” Water is a vital and healing source for the body and since our bodies are largely made up of fluids, it can’t help but improve the quality of life.

More and more Americans are switching their sights from sugar-filled drinks to water. Good old fashioned water. Nothing seems to truly quench a thirst over H2O. However, for our seniors drinking enough water is tough.

According to the American Medical Association as our bodies age our scale that balances the need for fluids and the desire for them, shifts. Thirst decreases. And the less we drink the less we want. This especially dangerous for our seniors.

Seniors need water and the hurdles happen when this desire plummets. Water hydrates not only thirst but the entire body. Well hydrated bodies sport brains that function better leading to stronger memory and thought process. Water acts as a lubricant to joints and muscles helping keep the body well-oiled and moving.

Aging adults will sometimes suffer with constipation thus adding fiber to their diets. Fiber increases stools and as a result draws more water from their systems. Drinking plenty of fluids aids in digestion and increases bowel functions. Being well hydrated helps aid in more elasticity in the skin, helping ward off dry skin, dry eyes and scratchy throats.

Kidney issues are common in seniors as well. Without proper hydration, the body cannot function to flush out impurities and toxins that build in the system. In a nutshell, water not only washes your dishes at home but it cleanses your body.

Encourage aging family members to keep water freely throughout their house. Adding a glass by the bed, one by the recliner, another in the laundry room and even water in the garage makes for a readily available reminder to reach for a sip.

Watch for symptoms of dehydration in your loved ones by checking for sunken and darkened eyes, drowsiness, confusion, labored or slurred speech, dizziness, chronic muscle aches, labored breathing and weakness. Few realize how important water is to the lungs. By keeping them moist and soft rather than dry and hardened, breathing (especially for those seniors with COPD and other pulmonary issues), is much easier.

Water increases the body’s ability to function properly and learning to avoid high-sugar drinks is one small step in helping improve your aging parent’s quality of life. Whether it’s cold tea, filtered water or flavored no-sugar or calorie water…drink. Water, water…who has the water? Keep a glass handy.

The Power Behind the Paw

Who COULDN’T love that face?

The power behind the paw is a growing trend for aging seniors. More and more nursing homes and assisted living facilities welcome pet therapy into their complexes.

Psychological research has proven pet therapy significantly lowers blood pressure, eases anxiety and increases finger tip temperatures in seniors – a clear sign of stress relief.

 There is something to be said about the gentle unconditional love of a pet. Simply touching the soft fur of a cat or scrubbing the ears of docile dog draws a deep emotional response. Nursing home staffs find the presence of a dog in family gathering rooms stimulates a smile and opens responses to those who have been withdrawn or depressed.

 Humans need interaction and for many of our elderly, the feelings of brokenness and lack of attention lessen their quality of life. Pets revive that inner desire to love and be loved.

 Despite the obvious benefits of pets there are also issues to be considered before bringing a pet into an aging parent’s home. Every year thousands of pets are sent to shelters, turned out onto the street or euthanized because well-meaning friends and family have felt the need to place them in the home of their elderly.

 Before a pet is introduced into a senior’s home, ask yourself these questions:

 *Is my parent physically able to care for a pet?

*Does my parent enjoy pets?

*Are there allergies or fears of pets?

*Is my parent’s home/apartment or room a suitable place for a pet?

 If these issues can be addressed appropriately then perhaps introducing a pet into an aging parent’s life is advisable. Many seniors will grasp hold of a pet’s comfort and companionship in their presence.

 Pets have been known to sense disease, heart attacks and seizures in their owners long before they occur and many are recognized as service animals, helping their owners with daily living skills such as opening doors, moving or retrieving objects and assisting in guidance.

 If a pet is something your family sees as a benefit to your aging parent, discuss the matter first. Never surprise a senior with a pet they may not want. Decide the type of animal and the ability of your senior to manage the care. Perhaps a cat is best or a bird – maybe a young, docile dog.

 Most veterinarians recommend a young dog who has been trained over a rambunctious puppy and a cat that is mild mannered and loveable over a playful kitten. Use wisdom and common sense in making a decision in pet choices.

 Weigh the pros and cons of adding a pet into the life of a senior and should it fit, you will find a wonderful change in your senior.

 For more information on Pet Therapy visit your local veterinarian, humane society or http://www.powerofpaws.com.