My mother has been in and out of the hospital over the past 9 months for a variety of injuries and illnesses ranging from the flu to a badly broken wrist. She usually only spends one or two nights, but she is just worn out from it. Before this started, she was always on the move! She played in several card groups, enjoyed working in her yard during warmer months, and was a real social butterfly. Do you have any advice that can help us? We are trying to figure out a way to stop this cycle and get her back on her feet again.
Barb in Holland, Michigan
I’m so sorry to hear about all your mother has been through lately! But you are right in thinking of it as a cycle. Unfortunately, a serious illness or injury can take a toll on our senior loved ones. They are at greater risk for a variety of reasons ranging from mobility problems to impairments caused by a chronic illness.
To help your mother get back on her feet and avoid another trip to the emergency department, here are a few suggestions I can offer:
- Consider employing in-home care to help support her daily activities. Private duty aides can help her with grocery shopping, meal preparation, personal care and more. That may help her rest and regain her strength while giving you peace of mind that she is getting well-balanced meals and support around the house.
- Assisted living communities offer short-term stays for situations like your mothers. She could stay for just a week or two up to one month. She will receive all of the benefits a long-term resident does including meals, personal care, housekeeping, life enrichment activities to join, and more. An advantage in selecting this option is that it would help her test the waters and see if she might enjoy life in a senior living community!
- You could also talk with her physician to see if she would also qualify for skilled home health care during this time. That would allow physical therapists and skilled nurses to visit her at home or at an assisted living community to work with her on a recovery program. If she qualifies, these services would be covered by her Medicare benefit.
I hope these suggestions help you develop a plan that will keep your mother healthy and safe and out of the hospital! Please let us know if you have any more questions or would like to consider a short-term stay for your mother at a Heritage Senior Community near you.
My sister and I are going to have “the talk” with our mom this weekend about moving to assisted living. We will both be in town to celebrate her 85th birthday. We think one of her objections will be that she doesn’t want to leave her treasures behind. She was an antiques dealer who had stores in several small resort towns in Michigan. If she moves to an assisted living community, will she be allowed to bring her own furniture?
David in Saline, Michigan
Good news! In the majority of instances, your mother will be able to bring some of her treasured antiques with her to assisted living. In fact, being surrounded by some of her favorite things will probably make her new assisted living apartment feel more like home. That can help her make a smooth transition.
We typically recommend families obtain a copy of the floor plan for her style of apartment from the community’s administrator. If dimensions aren’t already labeled on the floor plan, measure them yourself or ask the community staff to do it before you start making plans. Knowing how much wall space you have in each area of the apartment will make it easier to determine which piece of furniture will fit there. A word of caution, however, is to not fill the apartment so full that it creates a fall risk for her. Be sure to leave uncluttered, open spaces and pathways in the areas she will most often use, such as from the bed to the bathroom or her favorite loveseat or chair to the kitchenette.
We hope this helps, David! If you have any questions about assisted living in Michigan, we invite you to call the Heritage Senior Community closest to your mother for help.
When many miles separate your family from an older parent or loved one, it may be difficult to make them feel connected. This can be especially true when grandchildren are involved. To help families bridge the miles to a Michigan senior they love, we’ve pulled together a few ideas:
- Handmade cards and letters. All of those little projects kids love to make might be stacking up on your kitchen counter. Once a week, go through them with your children and bundle up a few to send to your aging loved one. If you have time, include a note that explains the artwork the child created. That makes it easier for loved ones to understand those less obvious works of art so they can talk about it with the kids by phone.
- Video conference. Skype and other video conference services are easy to use and allow older adults and families the opportunity to talk “face-to-face.” It your senior loved one isn’t excited about using a computer, consider buying a tablet device like an iPad for them. Tablets are easy to use and will allow seniors to Skype with family from the comfort of their favorite chair or sofa.
- Send pictures and video. When a loved one lives far from you, what they may miss most is watching grandchildren’s activities like soccer or tee ball. Taking videos and photos you can email for them to look at on their iPad will help them feel more involved.
- Don’t forget the telephone. In our text and email centric world it is easy to overlook how important a phone call can be to an older loved one. Technology has made telephone assistive devices easier and less expensive. If your loved one has problems with their hearing, you can find phones that have everything from an amplified ear piece to super loud ringers.
- Email and social media. Seniors are the fastest growing demographic on many different social media platforms. You can use social channels to post photos and video to share with your senior loved ones. Email is another avenue for communicating. According to Pew Internet Research, 36% of adults over the age of 50 regularly use email. While your teen might not be excited about being friends with their older loved ones on Facebook, they probably would be interested in trading emails on a routine basis.
It can be frustrating for seniors not to be as involved as they would like with faraway loved ones, but with a little extra effort they can stay in touch and feel connected.
Have you found creative ways to stay close with a faraway senior loved one? We’d love to hear how in the comments below!
When you hear someone is being treated for depression, what likely comes to mind is counseling and medication. Most of us think these two treatments are the keys to overcoming the disorder. One overlooked avenue of helping to heal the mind, body and spirit just might be by making friends with a furry, four-legged creature. Adopting a pet has proven to be a successful way to treat depression among older adults.
How Pets Help Combat Depression in Seniors
Having a four-legged friend to kick around with can help a senior loved one boost their mood in a few different ways:
1. Unconditional love. Animals can be there for us in ways people can’t. They listen to our sorrows, share our joys and keep our secrets. If an older loved one has experienced loss, a pet can be an ideal solution for helping them to heal. They have someone to love and care for who will love them back unconditionally.
2. They get us moving. A senior who may be reluctant to take a walk around the block on their own may be willing to put in a lap or two with their furry friend. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise for older adults and is often recommended to help overcome and prevent depression.
3. Pets are social. Pets attract attention. If an older loved one has a pet they routinely take for a walk, it won’t be long before the two of them have made new friends. Children will especially be drawn to your senior family member if they have a furry companion. These new friendships can help your loved one feel more connected to the world around them. That can help them fight off depression.
Added benefits of having a pet are that they help to decrease both stress and blood pressure. Researchers agree that the simple act of stroking a pet’s fur can help calm people down.
The American Humane Association has more information on Adoption & Pet Care that you might find helpful if you are considering finding a furry friend for a senior loved one.
If you have children you have likely struggled to find kid-friendly restaurants. For those who are caregivers for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease, dining out may present a similar challenge. The disease often requires families to make special accommodations at mealtimes and to be more flexible when it comes to table manners and behaviors. When you are eating out, however, these changes might look a little unusual to other diners.
Meal Time Challenges with Alzheimer’s Disease
A night without the burden of cooking might be exactly what a caregiver needs. For many busy families, dining out is a part of their regular routine. But when a loved one lives with Alzheimer’s, restaurants can be intimidating places. The person living with the disease may face challenges that include:
- Difficulty using utensils
- Accessibility issues for restrooms and with booth or bench-style tables
- Increased impatience waiting for a table and waiting for food to arrive
- Wait staff unaccustomed communicating with someone who has dementia
- Noisy environments and distractions that increase agitation
Before you give up the idea of a night out, here are a few suggestions to consider that can make the experience easier on everyone:
- Think about visiting local restaurants that are more casual in nature. Those used to serving families with small children might be best. They aren’t usually as concerned when guests are a little messier.
- Menu items that allow diners to eat with their fingers can make it easier for your loved one to blend in. Chicken wings, sandwiches, fries and burgers might be good choices.
- Try to go during off times. If you don’t know what those are, call the restaurant. They can usually tell you what times you are less likely to face a long wait.
- Discretely explain your situation to the hostess or wait staff. They might be able to find a quiet corner for your family that is a little less distracting for someone with dementia.
- Consider taking a deck of cards or other busy work for your loved one to do while you wait for your food.
We hope these tips help you find ways to enjoy a night out with the entire family! If you have suggestions that might help other families, please share them in the comments below.