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.


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.


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.


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.


  • 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



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.



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.

Is it Time to Consider Assisted Living?

Is it Time to Consider Assisted Living?

Am I ready for a move to a senior living community that offers assisted living? When is the right time?  How will I know? Listed below are several questions to think about that may help you decide.

Evaluating your lifestyle and housing needs:

Do you skip any of your meals?

Is it difficult for you to arrange for transportation, shopping & medical appointments?

Do you wonder if help will arrive quickly in an emergency?

Has bathing/showering become difficult for you?

Do you sometimes fear for your personal safety?

Have stairways made getting around more difficult?

Do you feel too dependent on family members to meet your personal needs?

Have routines such as grocery shopping and house cleaning become a tedious chore?

Do you sometimes feel lonely and isolated?

Do you miss social activities with people who share your hobbies and interests?

Do you have difficulty managing your medications?


If you answered “no” to most of the above questions, your present housing situation most likely fits your needs. On the other hand, a number of “yes” responses means that a move to a more secure, supportive, and social situation might be something you would consider. Once you have decided to consider a new housing situation, you will discover a multitude of choices, life care communities, apartments, cooperatives, and assisted living residences.

We are confident that you would benefit from the professional 24/7 assisted living care that is provided by The Classic at Hillcrest Greens. Let us help you consider your options.



Thanks to WQOW TV-18, the Chippewa Valley was able to get a glimpse of the fantastic restaurant and food operation our residents have access to on a daily basis. Our own Palmer’s Restaurant was highlighted during a news segment on TV-18 this week. (Click on the following link to view story). http://www.wqow.com/story/37988862/2018/04/18/assisted-living-facility-in-altoona-gives-residents-tastier-options.


Below is the script from the news piece.

Hospitals, gas stations, and sometimes, nursing homes and assisted living communities — they can all be known for sub-par food.

In the past, some nursing homes and assisted living facilities were sometimes known for their bad food. But one local assisted living facility is known for the opposite.

The Classic at Hillcrest Green in Altoona is a little different than your typical assisted living and memory care facility. They don’t have a cafeteria, but rather a restaurant.

Residents at the Hillcrest don’t get a schedule of what they’re eating every day of the week. They get a menu to choose from, and the food is cooked to order. Ralph Hudson a resident at the Classic said he loves all of the different options.

“When we come into the dining room, we have a diet which is what’s scheduled for that day, but then you don’t have to take that you can have a menu and so it’s very widespread and it’s extremely good,” said Hudson.

Residents also don’t have a set schedule as to when they can eat. They can come to Palmer’s Restaurant whenever they’re hungry.

The restaurant opens every day at 7:00 a.m. and the kitchen closes at 7:00 p.m.

“What I thought about when we started the Classic was what would I want and what would I want for my grandma. And I wouldn’t want to be told when to eat or what to eat. I knew that I wanted that flexibility and I would want that for someone that I loved, so to me it was a simple choice,” said Jennifer Rooney, owner of the Classic at Hillcrest Greens.

Rooney said right now the waiting list to live at the Classic is about two years. She said part of the reason it takes so long to get in is because of the fine dining.

The restaurant isn’t open to public, but family and friends of the residents are welcome.


Haaken Hill Farm Representative to Speak on Growing Clean, Fresh, Local Food

Our area is increasingly adopting sustainable food growing practices in order to create a healthier community. Suzy will explain how Haaken Hill Farm has embraced a culture that is having a positive impact on our environment and surrounding ecosystems. The staff at Haaken Hill practices the “farm to table” concept with regenerative agriculture based on the principles of natural systems.

As part of The Classic’s ongoing Savvy Seniors Series program, Suzy Sivertson from Eau Claire county’s Haaken Hill Farm will present “Farm to Table: Growing Clean, Growing Fresh, Growing Local Food” on Wednesday, May 2 from 3:45 to 5 p.m. Hear firsthand from Suzy how the Chippewa Valley is undergoing a culture change with regard to how food is produced and consumed.


“Savvy Seniors Series,” is a free monthly information session that is open to the general public and is held on the first Wednesday of the month from 3:45 to 5 p.m. at The Classic. Each session features a different speaker with a message focused on enhancing the quality of life for seniors. Light refreshments will be available along with door prize drawings.

Moving My Spouse to Memory Care

We fully understand that making the decision to move your husband/wife to a memory care community is not an easy one. As a caregiver, you may feel you are doing everything possible to provide for your loved one at home. However, there often comes a time when both of you would benefit from a move to dementia care.

Signs It May Be Time for Memory Care

Your loved one with dementia isn’t safe at home. The main reason to consider a move to memory care is when there are simply not enough resources to safely care for your spouse at home.

You’re getting burned out. “Burned out” is an umbrella term that encompasses a lot of difficult situations for care partners. You may become physically exhausted because of your loved one’s needs and your own health may be suffering. Or…you may just be emotionally worn out, socially isolated, and basically feel “out-of-touch.” Guilt also contributes to burnout. If you’re locked in a cycle of feeling stressed out, angry, or poorly equipped to care for your loved one, and then feeling guilty for having those thoughts, it’s definitely time to consider dementia care.

Your loved one with dementia is bored. When your loved one is constantly following you around, asking what you are going to do, they need more stimulation. At The Classic, we have numerous activities specifically planned for people with dementia and your loved one can be with others who are in a similar situation. Ultimately, it’s about your loved one having meaning and purpose in his/her day. You shouldn’t feel badly if you aren’t meeting their needs any longer. Caregivers can be so burdened that the person with dementia at home is getting very little or no stimulation and their decline may be even faster.


Tips to Make Your Spouse’s Move to Memory Care Easier

1. People with dementia who do not want to move permanently can sometimes make the transition more easily if you tell the individual the move is temporary and for a practical purpose. For example, you might say he/she needs to be out of the house while it is being painted, or…that they have go somewhere where some aspect of their health can be properly taken care of for a while.

2. Typically, families will make arrangements, select and decorate the new room or apartment in our memory care community. You can work with our staff so that everyone is on the same page of the script. Once your loved one is engaged in our community, they often accept things as a permanent situation.

3. Keep your tone joyful. As hard as that sounds, try to bury whatever guilt feelings you may have. It may be difficult to use “loving lies,” but keep in mind that telling your loved one the truth can be unnecessarily hurtful.

4. Once your spouse has moved in, make your first visit short and sweet. Keep the conversation really positive. He/she will likely ask you repeatedly when they are going home. Avoid telling them that they are living here now, rather divert them by talking about the potential of new friends, fun activities, or food.

5. Stay in touch with our staff. If our staff indicates that your loved one is agitated after your visit, you may want to give him/her more time to adjust before resuming regular visits.   At The Classic, we are here to help your loved one’s transition to Memory Care. Ultimately, the decision about moving to dementia care should be a team decision by involving the person with dementia, your family, and your doctors.

Five Steps to Consider When Convincing a Parent to Move to Memory Care

Making the decision to enter memory care is difficult for seniors, and it’s a process to get them to accept that this is the right choice. They of course want to remain on their own as long as possible. A big decision like this can’t be forced. Your best chances of success lie in helping your parent own the decision, so that they have the feeling that this is something they’re choosing for themselves. While every family is different and there is no real “cookie-cutter” approach, the following steps may help you gain some insight as how to get your parent to accept a move to memory care.


1. Help mom or dad begin to get used to the idea. Identify problems that would be solved by a move to memory care and how that move would improve quality of life. For example: “You know, mom, you wouldn’t have to worry about hiring someone to take care of the lawn if you were in memory care.” Or, “Dad, wouldn’t it be nice if you lived somewhere with people your own age around?”

2. Help them see the signs that it’s the right time for this sort of care by connecting this need to things that happen. For example, when mom leaves the stove on, gently but tactfully use the opportunity to point out that both of you would be less worried about these incidents if she were in memory care. Be careful not to be too pushy here, unless there really is a crisis brewing that would necessitate moving quickly.

3. Make sure all siblings are on the same page. When it comes to approaching a parent about making a move, it is vital that all siblings and family members are on the same page and that all the adult siblings are giving their parent the same general message. It often only takes one disgruntled child who urges the parent to stay in his/her home to make placement nearly impossible.

4. Offer to help them tour a Memory Care community like The Classic on a no-strings-attached basis. Try to seek out activity times when they can notice the residents having fun. However, it may still be too soon for them. Be prepared to just drop it if they show resistance to the idea.

5. When you go on a tour, point out all the positive aspects of the community. Be as excited as you would be about renting a new apartment or buying a new home: focus on the possibilities. Would mom’s favorite antique chair look good in the room/apartment? Does the activity room have a piano so that dad could still play? Once you’ve gone through this process, wait for all that you have seen and discussed to sink in. Don’t expect that they’ll have that “Aha!” moment right away: unfortunately, it often takes some sort of accident or crisis for a move to seem necessary. They are making a huge life decision, and that needs to be respected.

If you are feeling the need to move your parent along in this process, however, the most effective argument would be to say that you and other family members would have much greater peace of mind if they were in a memory care community. Remind them how much their safety means to you. This will hopefully help them to see the importance of making the move.

Dementia Care Do’s & Don’ts: Dealing with Dementia Behavior Problems

Dementia Care Do’s & Don’ts:  Dealing with Dementia Behavior Problems

Mid-to-Late stage dementia often presents challenging behavior problems. The anger, confusion, fear, paranoia, and sadness that people with the disease are experiencing can be very frustrating for other family members who are trying to cope as best they can.

While frustration can at times seem insurmountable, there are definite strategies that family members can implement when interacting with their loved ones involved with dementia.

Dealing with Dementia Behavior

Communication difficulties can be one of the most upsetting aspects of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia — and it’s frustrating for those with the disease and for loved ones.

Although it can be hard to understand why people with dementia act the way they do, the explanation is attributable to their disease and the changes it causes in the brain.

Familiarize yourself with some of the common situations that arise when someone has dementia, so that if your loved one says something shocking, you’ll know how to respond calmly and effectively.


Common Situation #1: Aggressive Actions or Speech

Examples: Statements such as “I don’t want to take a shower!,” “I want to go home!,” or “I don’t want to eat that!” may escalate into aggressive behavior.

Explanation: The most important thing to remember about verbal or physical aggression, says the Alzheimer’s Association, is that your loved one is not doing it on purpose. Aggression is usually triggered by something — often physical discomfort, environmental factors such as being in an unfamiliar situation, or even poor communication.

DO: The key to responding to aggression caused by dementia is to try to identify the cause — what is the person feeling to make them behave aggressively? Once you’ve made sure they aren’t putting themselves (or anyone else) in danger, you can try to shift the focus to something else, speaking in a calm, reassuring manner.

DON’T: The worst thing you can do is engage in an argument or force the issue that’s creating the aggression. Don’t try to forcibly restrain the person unless there is absolutely no choice. The biggest way to stop aggressive behavior is to remove the word “no” from your vocabulary.

Common Situation #2: Confusion about Place or Time

Examples: Statements such as “I want to go home!”, “This isn’t my house.”, “When are we leaving?”, “Why are we here?”

Explanation: Wanting to go home is one of the most common reactions for an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient living in a memory care community. Remember that Alzheimer’s causes progressive damage to cognitive functioning, and this is what creates the confusion and memory loss.

DO: There are a few possible ways to respond to questions that indicate your loved one is confused about where he or she is. Simple explanations along with photos and other tangible reminders can help. Sometimes, however, it can be better to redirect the person, particularly in cases where you’re in the process of moving your loved one to a facility or other location.

One solution is to say as little as possible about the fact that your loved one has all of their belongings packed. Instead, try to redirect them by finding another activity like going for a walk, getting a snack, etc. If your loved one asks specific questions such as “When are we leaving?”, you might respond with, “We can’t leave until later because…the traffic is terrible / the forecast is calling for bad weather / it’s too late to leave tonight.” Every situation is different and you have to figure out what’s going to make the person feel safest, even if that ends up being a “therapeutic lie.”

DON’T: Lengthy explanations or reasons are not the way to go. In most cases, trying to reason with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is almost impossible and you may actually be triggering a negative response because of the questions we’re asking.

Common Situation #3: Poor Judgement

Examples: Unfounded accusations: “You stole my vacuum cleaner!” Trouble with math or finances: “I’m having trouble with the tip on this restaurant bill.” Other examples include unexplained hoarding or stockpiling and repetition of statements or tasks.

Explanation: The deterioration of brain cells caused by Alzheimer’s is a particular culprit in behaviors showing poor judgement or errors in thinking. These can contribute to delusions, or untrue beliefs. Some of these problems are obvious, such as when someone is hoarding household items, or accuses a family member of stealing something. Some are more subtle, however, and the person may not realize that he/she is having trouble with things that they never used to think twice about.

DO: First you’ll want to assess the extent of the problem. As an example, if you’re curious and don’t want to ask, take a look at a heating bill. Sometimes payments are delinquent or bills aren’t being paid at all. You may also want to flip through their checkbook and look at the math or have them figure out the tip at the restaurant.

Try to be encouraging and reassuring if you’re seeing these changes happen. Also, you can often minimize frustration and embarrassment by offering to help in small ways with staying organized.

DON’T: What you shouldn’t do in these circumstances is blatantly question the person’s ability to handle the situation at hand, or try to argue with them. Any response that can be interpreted as accusatory or doubting the person’s ability to handle their own affairs only serves to anger and put them on the defensive.

An Introvert’s Guide to Senior Living Communities

An Introvert’s Guide to Senior Living Communities

Introverts Just Want to Have Fun: Alone

Are you or a senior loved one an introvert? If so, you’re probably misunderstood on a regular basis. That’s because people often misjudge an introvert as being aloof or even rude when really…all that person wants is some much-needed time to recharge.

Unlike extroverts, who gain energy from socializing, an introvert actually loses energy with too much special time. You know your drained cell phone starts making that beeping sound when the battery has no bars left? That’s what an introvert feels like after three lunch dates and a movie in one week.

So, to someone not big on socializing, all the activities and people in a senior living community may seem overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be that way though.


Some time ago, a daughter that was touring The Classic at Hillcrest Greens indicated she was worried that her mother, a lifelong introvert, might be unhappy if her parents moved into an independent living apartment in a senior living community. Several months later, following a move to The Classic, mom is happier and healthier. She still has plenty of time to herself while also choosing to participate in low-key activities like sit-down yoga and Chef Steve’s “From the Kitchen” presentations. “People need to be open-minded,” says Dean Mathwig, Community Relations Director at The Classic. “You need to be open to the possibility that there could be some positive things that will add to your overall quality of life.” For an introvert, there’s no more fearsome image than a peppy activities director rapping on your door at 6 a.m. Fortunately, that’s not the way senior living communities work. “This is your home and communities like The Classic are very limited in what they can share when it comes to your privacy,” says Mathwig. “People have this idea of everything being scheduled as though you’re going to camp, but that’s not reality.”

Are You Searching for a Senior Living Community?

“Each community is different,” says Mathwig. “It’s really up to the person(s) looking to move into a senior living community to ask plenty of questions up front before making a selection. While this strategy is true for anyone, for an introvert, asking the right questions is especially important.” Senior living staff work with all types of personalities, so if you tend to be introverted, you’re most likely not the first they’ve come across. Most communities will typically have some type of policy in place to meet the needs of residents who prefer their time alone. However, it’s always a good idea to make sure of a few things before you sign up to live in a senior living community. “An individual who wants their care to be conducted in a certain way should voice their needs,” says Mathwig. “They can’t assume that the staff will not be able to accommodate their unique needs.” Mathwig recommends asking questions about potential problem areas for someone who’s not a fan of frequent socializing.

Questions to Ask:

  • How flexible is the dining schedule? If you don’t feel like getting dressed for dinner, can you ever have meals delivered to your apartment? If so, is there an extra charge? If your apartment has a kitchen, there may be times you’ll want to prepare your own meals.
  • How can staff ensure my privacy? Find out the system for staff communication about your personal needs. Will staff call or just stop by your apartment? Will staff members ever knock on your door without notice? If any particular method makes you uncomfortable, find out if staff can tweak how they communicate with you to better suit your needs.
  • Is there assigned seating in the restaurant/dining area? Or, can residents sit wherever they wish?
  • What is the policy if I choose not to participate in activities? No introvert wants to be hounded to take part in activities. Senior living communities offer many types of sessions and social, physical, and spiritual opportunities, but nobody should be forcing you to participate in anything you do not want to be part of.

Settling Into a Ready-Made Community

Some people may not be lifelong introverts but actually became more introverted as a result of isolating themselves after losing many of their friends. When a person is used to only a few social interactions within a social circle they’ve created, it can be challenging to adjust to a ready-made community. The key to making senior living work for an introvert is establishing boundaries without coming across as discourteous. Try to appreciate how things such as not having to prepare your own meals may allow you more downtime. Keep in mind that you may actually find an activity you enjoy.


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