Five Helpful Tips for Moving Your Senior Parent

Five Helpful Tips for Moving Your Senior Parent

Moving a senior parent can be a major challenge. Not only can emotions often be highly charged, but the complicated logistics of deciding how and when to conduct a move to senior living can add even more pressure to already difficult experience.

Here are five tips to give you and your senior parent peace of mind before, during, and after your move:

  • Deal with one room at a time.

Trying to facilitate an entire move at once can feel overwhelming, especially when that move involves possessions acquired over a lifetime. To make things easier, organize and pack one room at a time, starting with the smallest or least-used room. Taking care of that first room will give you and your parent a sense of completion and help you maintain optimism throughout the rest of your packing.

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  • Find capable moving help.

While family and friends are often willing to help load and unload, it’s often worth hiring help on moving day. College students are often happy to work a few hours for a fraction of the cost of a full-service moving company and their energy and strength can make everyone feel better about what will almost certainly be an emotionally difficult day.

  • Focus on the positive.

Transitions almost always come with some sadness. That’s okay. Give yourself and your parent a moment to pay respects to the life they’ve lived but consistently think about the possibilities of life going forward. Help your parent remember that it’s never too late to meet new people, start a new hobby, or learn a new skill. With some gentle persistence and a little imagination, moving can be an amazing new beginning for your parents and your family.

  • Get a head start.

It’s easy to underestimate the time it will take to prepare for the move. Beyond the time to actually gather supplies and pack, you need time with your parent to consider what to keep and what to let go. We recommend starting to organize your move at least six weeks before your moving day. Having plenty of time to make decisions really helps manage everyone’s emotions.

  • Let go what you can.

Letting go of possessions can be difficult, but reducing the number of things you have to pack will make moving day go so much more smoothly. Take time to help your parent decide which things they own that are no longer useful or don’t bring them joy. Donating to charities can bring a sense of moral purpose that makes letting go of things easier to do.

When Aging Parents Won’t Listen

Our parents always asked that we listen to them. But what happens when they refuse to listen to us? Some adult children are finding that their parents don’t always know best when it comes to their diet, driving, housing, medication, and more.

Dad or Mom Won’t Take Your Advice: Now What?

Recent research has found that 77% of adult children believe their parents are stubborn about taking their advice or getting help with their daily problems.

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If you are experiencing this scenario, you may want to consider the following recommendations:

• Accept the situation. You may want your mantra to be “it is what it is.” Said another way, “you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” In other words, they are still adults with the right to make decisions — even if poor ones.

• Blame it on the kids (that would be you) or the grandkids. If mom isn’t willing to change her behavior for herself, would she do it for a loved one? One approach is to say to your parent, “you don’t want me to worry, right? This (fill in the blank) will give me enormous peace of mind. Please do it for me!”

• Decide how important the matter is. Is it a safety issue or something that is just inconsequential? As the saying goes, pick and choose your battles.

• Don’t beat yourself up. Try not to hit your head against the wall too hard. There isn’t a lot we can do sometimes but stand by, watch closely, and be able to jump in when needed.

• Find an outside outlet for your feelings. If you’re angry or resentful that dad’s not with the program, confide in, strategize with, or vent to, a friend, geriatric care manager, geriatrician, online support group, sibling, or therapist rather than your parents.

• Think ahead. Is there a milestone they want to be around for, such as an anniversary, graduation or wedding? Then bring it up!

• Treat them like the adults they are. Dealing with a stubborn parent is not the same as dealing with a stubborn child. Older people should be autonomous.

• Try to understand the motivation behind their behavior. Are they acting this way out of habit, to assert independence, or because they’re depressed or confused? What are they afraid of? 

Seven Tips for a Successful Move to Memory Care

Seven Tips for a Successful Move to Memory Care

With the increasing demands of dementia caregiving, a day may come when it is no longer possible to care for your loved one at home. Whether it is for safety, health, or financial reasons, you may feel that it is now finally time to move your loved one to a specialized dementia care community.

You have done everything right. Your hard work and discipline have paid off. You’ve contacted or visited several memory care communities. You were able to match the services that different care facilities had to offer with your loved one’s needs, and found the most appropriate fit. You interviewed the staff and administration, asked all the right questions and feel comfortable with their approach to dementia care and the quality of services provided. You have made financial arrangements and secured the means to pay for residential care for years to come. You had your trusted attorney read and approve the admission agreement and you are ready for the move.

So why does it feel so bad?
The logistic and administrative aspects of moving a loved one to a dementia care community are important elements of a successful transition. But we mustn’t forget the immense emotional toll that is also involved in the move.

For starters, you are the one who has to make the final decision. The person with dementia is often unable to participate in this decision because of the lack of insight brought on by dementia itself. He/she may not understand the need for care or recognize the amount of care needed. That is your job as a caregiver and is often a solitary responsibility. You will have to make this decision based not on who your loved one once was, but rather who they are today, after the onset of dementia.

This whole process may leave you feeling uncertain that you’re doing the best move for your loved one. Add to this uncertainty, the feelings of guilt and grief that you may be going through at this very moment. Even after all the research, soul searching, hard work, and self-discipline, moving still seems painful.

The following tips are meant to help ease the move for people with dementia and to better accommodate their special needs during this vulnerable transition time. Please note: there is no one singular “best” approach and what may work for one family, may not be successful for another. Use your own discretion on how to use these suggestions and consider your loved one’s personality when doing so.

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1.  Do not announce the move in advance—Avoid anticipation anxiety by not telling your loved one that they will be moving on during the next month or so. Wait until it is close to the move-in date to inform them, or even tell them only at the very moment of the move. Moving anticipation anxiety can cause extreme negative feelings that may escalate into extreme behaviors. By not giving them too much of an advance notice, you will promote a calmer state of mind for the transition.

2.  Use fiblets—Your loved one does not need to know right away that this will be their new home for the long run. They may be happier in the idea that the stay is just for a short period of time (say, you’re having the carpets cleaned this week, or the family will be out-of-town and in the meantime you have made arrangements to have them stay at a really nice facility). You can repeat the same information when asked again until they are used to the new surroundings. Collaborate with other visitors and staff so everybody provides your loved one with the same message and works together as a team to ensure a successful move.

3.  Use medication wisely—Consult with your loved one’s doctor to adjust their medications for those vulnerable days around the move. A good doctor should be able to prescribe anti-anxiety medication to make the transition much easier for them, and for you. You may want to start the prescribed regimen about a week before the move and start weaning them off the medication a couple of weeks after the move, as they become more familiar and comfortable with the staff and new surroundings.

4.  Bring familiar items to the new home—Decorate the new surroundings with some of your loved one’s own furniture, mementos and items that bring comfort, such as photos and familiar books. Objects and belongings should be packed and moved outside of view to avoid generating anxiety. Consider eliciting the help of a family member or friend to do some activity elsewhere, so you have privacy to make the decisions on what to bring. This is also a tender moment for you as well, and when in doubt about the sentimental value of an item, keep in mind that you can always bring it at a later date.

5.  Avoid visiting during the first week—Yes…it’s always hard to let go! But those very first days can be crucial when it comes to developing new relationships with staff members and other residents. Your presence may remind them that this is not really their family and compel them to ask you to take them back home with you — setting backward the already sensitive process of adaptation. Keep open lines of communication with staff and work with them to build up their relationship with your loved one, until your visits can be safely made on a regular and supportive schedule.

6.  Take care of yourself—This is a very tender time for you too, so make sure your needs are being addressed as well. Get some extra rest and relaxation along with some exercise and fresh air. Visit friends and do something nice for yourself. You need to be cared for too, because the journey is not over yet. You are still your loved one’s voice and companion, only now you have a qualified team to do the hands-on care while you take a more consulting role.

7.  Remember that it too, will pass—As difficult as this transition is for your loved one with dementia, it is also very hard on you. In time, they will make new friends, bond with staff, enjoy the activities, move on and thrive. Later, they may still ask you to take them home once in a while and they may still feel lonely for a while. But ultimately, they will adjust, have much better care and enjoy their social life because you took the time to prepare and find the right care for them. And because of your efforts, they will have a better quality of life and be safe, comfortable, and content during their remaining years.

What Type of Physician is the Best for Helping Determine Cognitive Decline or Dementia?

What Type of Physician is the Best for Helping Determine Cognitive Decline or Dementia?

Have you ever worried that you or a loved one may be losing cognitive abilities with age? If so, you are not alone many adults over 65 have the type of cognitive decline or loss we regard as a “normal” consequence of age.

Normal Signs of Aging

According to the website, HelpGuide.org, the following types of memory lapses are normal among older adults and generally are not considered warning signs of dementia:

  • Becoming easily distracted or having trouble remembering what was just read, or the details of a conversation.
  • Forgetting names of acquaintances or blocking one memory with a similar one, such as calling a grandson by his father’s name.
  • Not quite being able to retrieve information that is “on tip of your tongue.”
  • Occasionally forgetting an appointment or walking into a room and forgetting why you went there.
  • Occasionally forgetting where things were placed that are used regularly, like eyeglasses or keys.

For many people, slight lapses in memory from time to time are a natural and normal part of the aging process; however you or a loved one are struggling with ability to perform everyday activities, or any behavior, memory or thinking skills, then there may be a bigger issue at hand.

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Symptoms of Cognitive Decline and Dementia

Cognitive decline and dementia are two common conditions that are not considered normal aspects of aging. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 50 million people worldwide have some form of dementia with nearly ten million cases added every year.

Cognitive decline and dementia differ from age-related memory loss in that they are degenerative diseases that will gradually worsen over time. For many people, symptoms of cognitive decline start out subtly and may only be noticeable to the person experiencing them.

Early-stage symptoms of dementia typically include:

  • Becoming lost in familiar places
  • Forgetfulness
  • Losing track of the time

When the disease progresses, the middle stage symptoms of dementia become “clearer and more restricting,” including:

  • Becoming forgetful of recent events and people’s names
  • Becoming lost at home
  • Experiencing behavioral changes, including wandering and repeated questioning
  • Having increasing difficulty with communication
  • Needing help with personal care

Symptoms eventually lead to “near total dependence and inactivity” during the late stage of dementia, including:

  • Becoming unaware of the time and place
  • Experiencing behavior changes that may include aggression
  • Having an increasing need for assisted self-care
  • Having difficulty recognizing relatives and friends
  • Having difficulty walking

Ways to Choose the Right Healthcare Professional

Choosing the right healthcare professional is critical if you’re concerned that you or a loved one may be experiencing dementia or another cognitive disease.

Make an appointment with one of the appropriate healthcare providers below to address your concerns:

  • Family Doctor or Primary Care Physician

According to an article published by U.S. News, making an appointment with your primary care physician (PCP) is the best first step to receiving comprehensive care. Primary care physicians should be able to get a complete medical history, family history, social history, current medication list and a review of any loss of abilities to perform day-to-day activities.

During an initial visit, your physician will most likely perform a full physical exam as well administer a cognitive assessment to gain a better understanding of your symptoms and rule out other possible conditions. Your physician may also order lab tests, including blood work, a CT scan or an MRI, as well as make a referral to a dementia-specific specialist for further testing.

  • Geriatrician or Geriatric Psychiatrist

According to the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, your best choice for a dementia-specific specialist is a geriatrician with a special interest in dementia, or a geriatric psychiatrist.

A geriatrician is a “primary care internist or family practitioner who specializes in complex conditions of older people and can provide care for all of an older adult’s medical needs whereas a geriatric psychiatrist specializes in the emotional and mental needs of older individuals. They conduct thorough memory, mood, sleep, and thinking evaluations. They are particularly good at assessing memory problems associated with life stress, anxiety, depression, excess drinking, or family conflicts.

If you are unable to obtain a referral to either one of these specialists (or your insurance will not cover the cost of these visits), your primary care doctor may refer you to a neurologist.

  • Neurologist

A neurologist has specialized training in diagnosing, treating, and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system. Some neurologists are specifically trained in diagnosing cognitive decline and dementia and so it is important for you and your family to ask your primary physician and conduct research for the appropriate neurologist to ensure you are being referred to the most appropriate specialist. During your initial consultation, the neurologist will perform more comprehensive tests to determine your mental fitness.

  • Psychiatrist, Psychologist, and Social Worker

Many people struggle following a diagnosis of cognitive decline or dementia. A psychologist or social worker can provide counseling and support and also help to address behavioral issues. They can also offer support to the family unit in order to best support the newly diagnosed individual. As mentioned above, the University of North Carolina School of Medicine suggests visiting a geriatric psychiatrist because they focus solely on the emotional and mental needs of older individuals.

If you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing cognitive decline or dementia then starting with your primary care physician is the best first step. You shouldn’t however feel restricted by their opinion. If you are not happy with the results of primary care physician’s assessment, or, if that doctor does not seem to feel an evaluation for diagnoses and treatment of the cognitive problem is that important, then it’s time to get a second opinion.

Moving to Assisted Living Care

A decision to move to assisted living care raises many questions. You or your loved one may ask, “Is help really needed?”; “Will it be easy to make friends?”; or “Can loved ones and friends still stay close to one another?” The answer to these common questions is the same: “Yes!”

Whether you are a new resident or a loved one seeking more information, there are many ways to help make the transition successful.

Change can be challenging for anyone. It may take a few days to feel settled in, or a bit longer. The transition experience is different for everyone. You or your loved one will get there. The keys to success are preparation, a positive attitude, patience and understanding, and strong support network.

Everyone copes with change differently. Patience, support, and understanding are key themes that will help residents, loved ones, and friends adjust. Rest assured that the assisted living staff is experienced, ready, and willing to help with the process. Don’t be shy about asking questions or seeking assistance. It should be every assisted living care residence’s goal to help make your move a positive experience.

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Privacy Concerns

One of the biggest changes in moving to assisted living care is sharing space with people you don’t know. While this may seem uncomfortable, you’ll soon find that neighbors won’t affect your privacy. You’ll always have your own space. Loved ones and family members can visit, but you decide when. If you have questions or concerns about privacy or security, talk with facility staff.

 

Moving To Your New Home

Begin planning your move soon after choosing an assisted living care facility. Decide what furniture, clothes, and personal items you’ll bring and what ones you’ll store off-site, donate, or sell. Start packing well in advance of moving day. If you have a hard time making decisions about what to bring and what to leave, you’re not alone. Many residents struggle with this process. Try to remain positive and have loved ones and friends help you. Small prized possessions will go far in making your new home feel like home. When moving day arrives, ask loved ones and friends to help arrange and organize your new home. Arranging items to suit your preferences will make the adjustment easier.

 

Making the Emotional Transition

Moving is hard. It can make anyone feel stressed or overwhelmed. These feelings are generally temporary and disappear after you get settled in and develop your own routine. Give yourself time to adjust. Ask other residents if they have suggestions for the transition. Many folks find comfort in talking with a neighbor, close friend, or spiritual advisor. At first, you may tend to keep to yourself. This is normal. Try to get out and introduce yourself to other residents. Staying busy and participating in activities can make you feel more comfortable about your surroundings. Everyone is different. Some people embrace the move with open arms; others find it’s not so easy. If you feel adjusting is taking longer than you expected, you might want to have a care conversation with the assisted living care director or administrator.

 

Advice for New Residents

  • Here are some tips to make your move easier:
  • Read all assisted living care residence materials before you move in.
  • Try to meet with sales and marketing director, facility director, and/or staff before moving day.
  • Review all paperwork carefully before your move, so you can address any questions.
  • Obtain a list from the residence of suggested items to bring.
  • Pack wisely. Don’t bring everything.
  • Read and familiarize yourself with residence policies.
  • If the residence is helping you with your laundry, label your clothing to avoid any mix-ups.
  • Read the activity schedule and choose two or three programs to attend early on to meet neighbors and other residents.

 

Tips for Loved Ones and Friends

As a loved one or friend transitions to an assisted living care community, try to be involved before, during, and after the move. Residents don’t want to be treated differently. While their address has changed, they haven’t. The experience may be just as difficult for you as it is for your loved one or friend. These emotions are natural and expected. Keep these dos and don’ts in mind:

 

Do…

  • Help with sorting, packing, and moving when asked
  • Listen as your loved one or friend talks about what was left behind
  • Stay positive even if you don’t agree with the move decision
  • Recognize that moving to a new home represents a major change
  • Call and visit often, especially during the first few weeks
  • Provide support, patience, and understanding

 

Don’t…

  • Make decisions for your loved one or friend
  • Take over sorting, packing, and moving without being asked
  • Focus on your needs and wishes. The move is about the resident!
  • Criticize the decision to move to assisted living care
  • Make light of the transition
  • Rush into talking about selling the resident’s house
  • Make promises that you cannot keep
  • Be negative

Communication Strategies for Families Dealing with a Loved One’s Dementia

It can be very painful to witness the deterioration of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, or any other type of dementia. As the disease progresses, we see minor forgetfulness gradually morph into severe impairment and eventually our loved one’s individuality itself is compromised.

Understanding how to connect and communicate with our loved ones through this time is of the utmost importance. Learn more from these communication strategies for dementia.

Many people use the phrase, “empty shell of a person” when describing a loved one ravaged by the later stages of the dementia. Sadly, dementia does indeed transform people into shadows of their former selves, but those living with dementia are far from “empty shells.” Yes, the shell may become more and more difficult to open. Some days it might not open at all. But never forget that there is a beautiful, unvarnished pearl inside.

Understanding how to “open the shell” gives us opportunities to meaningfully connect with our dementia-afflicted loved one even for only a fleeting moment. Just as the right tools and a lot of technique is required to shuck an oyster, there is technique and artistry involved with communicating or connecting emotionally with a loved one who has dementia.

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Here are 10 tips on how to effectively communicate with someone who has moderate to severe dementia.

  • Recognize what you’re up against. Dementia inevitably gets worse with time. People with dementia will gradually have a more difficult time understanding others, as well as communicating in general.
  • Avoid distractions. Try to find a place and time to talk when there aren’t a lot of distractions present. This allows your loved one to focus all their mental energy on the conversation.
  • Speak clearly and naturally in a warm and calm voice. Refrain from ‘babytalk’ or any other kind of condescension.
  • Refer to people by their names. Avoid pronouns like, “he,” “she,” and “they” during conversation. Names are also important when greeting a loved one with dementia. For example: “Hi, Grandma. It’s me, Jeff,” is preferred over, “Hi. It’s me.”
  • Talk about one thing at a time. Someone with dementia may not be able to engage in the mental juggling involved in maintaining a conversation with multiple threads.
  • Use non-verbal cues. For example, maintain eye contact and smile. This helps put your loved one at ease and will facilitate understanding. And when dementia is very advanced, non-verbal communication may be the only option available.
  • Listen actively. If you don’t understand something your loved one is telling you, politely let them know.
  • Don’t quibble. Your conversations are not likely to go very far if you try to correct every inaccurate statement your loved one makes. It’s okay to let delusions and misstatements go.
  • Have patience. Give your loved one extra time to process what you say. If you ask a question, give them a moment to respond. Don’t let frustration get the better of you.
  • Understand there will be good days and bad days. While the general trend of dementia sufferers is a downward decline, people with dementia will have ups and downs just like anyone else.

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

Six Tips to Build Resilience and Prevent Brain-Damaging Stress

These days, we all live under considerable stress — economic challenges, job demands, family tensions, always-on technology and the 24-hour news cycle all contribute to ceaseless worry. While many have learned to simply “live with it,” this ongoing stress can, unless properly managed, have a serious negative impact on our ability to think clearly and make good decisions, in the short-term, and even harm our brains in the long-term.

The Problem

Recent studies show that chronic stress can also lead to depression, and even to a higher risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. Why? Under stress, the brain’s limbic system responsible for emotions, memory and learning triggers an alarm that activates the fight-or-flight response, increasing the production of adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol, which work together to speed heart rate, increase metabolism and blood pressure, enhance attention, the immune system and anti-inflammatory response, and lower pain sensitivity all good things when your very survival is on the line. When the stressful situation is over, the body resets back to normal.

However, under constant stress, the body is unable to reset. High adrenaline and cortisol levels persist, potentially causing blood sugar imbalances and blood pressure problems, and whittling away at muscle tissue, bone density, immunity, and inflammatory responses. These events block the formation of new neural connections in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for encoding new memories. When these new connections are blocked, the hippocampus can actually shrink in size, hindering memory.

Too much stress can almost make us “forget” how to make changes that reduce that stress, limiting the mental flexibility needed to find alternative solutions and triggering general adaptation syndrome (GAS) better known as “burnout” which makes us feel unmotivated and mentally exhausted. This is why next time you forget someone’s name at a party, try not to obsess about remembering it. Instead, make fun of your DNA (we are all human, aren’t we?). The name in question is then more likely to appear in your mind when you less expect it.

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What Can You Do?

Rather than simply living with stress, learning how to effectively master our stress levels and build emotional resilience can not only help you feel and perform better on a daily basis, but also protect your brain from the long-term damaging effects of stress. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get some exercise – Studies show that aerobic exercise helps build new neurons and connections in the brain to counteract the effects of stress. In fact, a recent study found that people who exercised very little showed greater stress-related atrophy of the hippocampus (the part of the brain that stores memories) compared to those who exercised more. Regular exercise also promotes good sleep, reduces depression and boosts self-confidence through the production of endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones.
  2. Relax – Easier than it sounds, right? But relaxation through meditation, tai chi, yoga, a walk on the beach, or whatever helps to quiet your mind and make you feel more at ease can decrease blood pressure, respiration rate, metabolism, and muscle tension. Meditation, in particular, is tremendously beneficial for managing stress and building mental resilience. Studies also show that getting out into nature can have a positive, restorative effect on reducing stress and improving cognitive function. So move your yoga mat out into the yard, or turn off that treadmill and take a walk in the park. Your brain will thank you for it.
  3. Socialize – When your plate is running over and stress takes over, it’s easy to let personal connections and social opportunities fall off the plate first. But ample evidence shows that maintaining stimulating social relationships is critical for both mental and physical health. Create a healthy environment by inviting friends, family and even pets to combat stress and exercise all your brains.
  4. Take control – Studies show a direct correlation between feelings of psychological empowerment and stress resiliency. Empowering yourself with a feeling of control over your own situation can help reduce chronic stress and give you the confidence to take control over your brain health. Some video games and apps built around heart rate variability sensors can be a great way to be proactive and take control of our stress levels.
  5. Have a laugh – We all know from personal experience that a good laugh can make us feel better, and this is increasingly backed by studies showing that laughter can reduce stress and lower the accompanying cortisol and adrenaline levels that result. Having fun with friends is one way to practice two good brain habits at once. Even just thinking about something funny can have a positive effect on reducing stress and the damage it causes to your brain.
  6. Think positive – How you think about what stresses you can actually make a difference. In one study at Harvard University, students were coached into believing that the stress they feel before a test could actually improve performance on graduate school entrance exams. Compared with students who weren’t coached, those students earned higher scores on both the practice test and the actual exam. Simply changing the way you look at certain situations, taking stock of the positive things in your life and learning to live with gratitude can improve your ability to manage stress and build brain resilience.

Living with high levels of sustained stress can have a profound negative impact on your psychological and brain health. While often there is little we can do to change the stressful situation itself, there are many things we can do to alter or manage our reactions to it. Managing stress and mastering our own emotions through simple lifestyle changes and the use of basic techniques that anyone can do can help reduce stress-related damage to the brain, improve emotional resilience and thwart cognitive decline as we age.

When Families Can’t Agree About Care for Elderly Parents

As elderly parents begin to rely on family for more support, the amount of conflict between adult children can increase. Dealing with a parent’s care can rekindle rivalries that have laid dormant for years and the discord can tear families apart.

Causes of Family Conflicts

Family dynamics are infinitely complex, but two underlying themes run through most sibling disputes about their parents: injustice and inheritance.

Injustice

When on sibling shoulders a disproportionate burden of dad or mom’s care, that sense of unfairness can foster resentment. Often, by virtue of distance, the siblings who live further away are “off the hook” when it comes to caring for an aging parent, while the nearest siblings are obliged to take on a caregiving role. When the caregiving sibling asks for help from other siblings, the other siblings often don’t fully appreciate, or choose to ignore, how much help their parent needs, and how much work one sibling is doing.

Inheritance

Many siblings clash over a parent’s finances. With the average American household’s net worth declining since 2007, siblings may have to divide a decided decrease in inheritance, naturally increasing the likelihood of conflict. In a perfect world, each of us is selfless and not motivated by money, but we live in a far from perfect world where money is indispensable, so it remains a problem for families.

Caregiving is stressful on its own, but when injustice and inheritance are added to a situation, they can create animosity between siblings. When family dynamics are already tense because one sibling feels unjustly overburdened with a parent’s care, money can compound the conflict.

A sibling who provides most of a parent’s care may feel entitled to a greater share of an inheritance. Or, siblings who are more distant or not involved, may believe that the caregiving sibling is spending too much money on a parent’s care. Sometimes, the children of aging parents will even resist plans for professional care in order to “protect” an inheritance.

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Tips for Improving Communication with Your Siblings During a Family Disagreement

There are no easy answers to settle disputes between siblings who are butting heads over a parent’s care, but maintaining communication is crucial. Consider using the following tips for improving communication with your siblings during a family disagreement:

A Family Meeting

Ideally, siblings can correct issues before they become irreconcilable. The key is good communication, and true strategy to facilitate the exchange of ideas is the family meeting. At a family meeting, there should be frank and open discussion about a parent’s care needs. Each sibling’s role and obligations should be established, and future plans should be made. But if the question of where to hold the family meeting leads to a bitter argument in and of itself, the friction may have gotten past the point when a family meeting can help.

Advisors, Counsels, and Mediators

Sometimes a neutral third-party can calm feuding siblings. Family counselors can also help to bridge the difference between siblings, assuming they still talk to one another. If things have become really heated, a family mediator specializing in senior care issues may be able to break through the ill will and help build consensus and find a middle-ground.

The High Road

Ultimately, the only person we can change is ourselves. No matter how much we try to reason with a disagreeable sibling, we may not succeed. While advocating for what’s best for our parent, its’ wise to let go of anger or resentment towards a sibling who has been unhelpful or hurtful, and to strive for the undeniable peace that comes from acceptance and forgiveness; neither stifling our impulse to call out an uncooperative brother or sister, nor allowing ourselves to be consumed with anger.

May is Older Americans Month

Be Well!

Although Americans are living longer these days, more are also developing chronic illnesses. Do illness and aging always go hand-in-hand? The answer is a surprising, but resounding, NO!

It is never too late to get more active or revamp your diet. It is not a matter of training for a marathon or giving up entire food groups, either. Small things can lead to huge differences in the way you feel and the way your body works. Although you should always consult with your doctor before making changes, there are easy steps you can take toward overall wellness—regardless of your age.

About 80% of older Americans have at least one chronic health condition.

HEALTHY LIVING

  • Helps to control weight and strengthen muscles
  • Improves balance, making falls, and other injuries less likely to occur
  • Decreases risk of depression
  • Reduces risks related to brain health
  • Offers opportunities to be social and have fun

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BE WISE, BE WELL

Start slowly. If you have not been exercising, choose something low-impact that you can do a little at a time. Walk for ten minutes in the morning and the afternoon. Sign up for a Tai Chi class, or…learn some gentle stretches.

Exercising is less of a chore when you do it with people you enjoy. Involving others will also hold you accountable. Gather a group of friends or join a class that offers what you are looking for. At The Classic, we actually offer residents a fitness class, seated Pilates, and seated yoga on a weekly basis.

Activity is important, but nutrition is equally vital. Keep an honest record of what you eat to see how you are doing. If you have a condition like diabetes, always consult your doctor before changing your diet. Nutritionists are another excellent resource, whether you have special dietary needs or not.

Wellness is a matter of body and mind. Eating healthy foods and staying active may reduce risks to your brain’s health. Do even more by learning new things and exercising your mind. Try reading, playing games, taking a class, or simply being social.

For more information, visit: oam.acl.gov/resources.html.

Is it time for residential dementia care?

Is it time for residential dementia care?

There may come a time when the person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia will need more care than can be provided at home. During the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, it becomes necessary to provide 24-hour supervision to keep the person with dementia safe. As the disease progresses into the late-stages, round-the-clock care requirements become more intensive.

Making the decision to move into a residential care facility may be very difficult, but it is not always possible to continue providing the level of care needed at home. Below is a checklist you may want to consider reviewing that may help in your decision whether or not to pursue placement in a residential dementia care community.

 

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Does your loved one:

Fall frequently (more than twice in the past year)?

Have frequent urinary tract infections (more than once or lasting more than a month in the past year)?

Have a significant weight change (lost or gained more than 10 lbs. in the past year)?

Require assistance with bathing, brushing teeth, personal hygiene and getting into his/her clothes?

Require assistance with toileting and have frequent episodes of urinary and fecal incontinence?

Show little awareness of recent experiences and events as well as his/her surroundings?

Have difficulty distinguishing familiar and unfamiliar faces?

Have major changes in sleep patterns (like sleeping during the day and restless at night)?

Have the tendency to wander and get lost and disoriented — even in their own home?

Behave in a compulsive and repetitive way, like hand wringing and tissue shredding?

If you checked at least five of the above questions, there is strong evidence that your loved one would benefit from the kind of professional 24/7 care that is provided by the Memory Care community at The Classic at Hillcrest Greens. Let us help you consider your options.

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