Last summer we shared information on gardening for Michigan seniors. We know many older adults in the Great Lake state enjoy gardening as a hobby. It provides many benefits for older adults ranging from helping relieve the pain and symptoms associated with arthritis to improving core strength and balance. As we head in to spring and back to the garden, we wanted to share a few tools we have found that can help seniors stay safe while enjoying a favorite pastime.
Tools for the Older Michigan Gardener in the Family
- Garden Rocker Kneeler Bench: This tool makes kneeling to plant or prune in the garden easier on aging joints. You can rest your knees on the bench and use the hand rails on each side to assist you in getting safely back on your feet.
- Garden Kneeler and Tool Pouch: A combination of seat and kneeler, this tool also has a pouch you can add to store tools in. That eliminates having to get up and down to search for tools while you are gardening.
- Coiled Garden Hose: One challenge older adults face in gardening is dragging heavy hoses around the yard. Coiled hoses make watering the garden easier. They are lighter in weight and made to stretch further.
- Ergo-Friendly Garden Tools: Friskars has a line of ergonomic garden tools that are senior-friendly. From weeding tools to pruners, they are easier on older hands.
- Garden Scoot: This heavy-duty garden scoot lets you work in your yard from a seated position. It also comes with pneumatic tires and a swivel seat to make it even easier to navigate through the yard.
- No Bend Weed Puller: Weeding is another task that can be more difficult for older adults. This no bending required tool allows you to weed the yard from a standing position making it easier and safer for older gardeners.
- Easi-Grip Tools: Another line of senior-friendly tools, the easi-grips allow hands to remain in a more natural position while gardening. That makes it easier for arthritic hands to maintain their grip.
We hope these tools help you and your senior loved ones safely enjoy another spring and summer in your Michigan garden!
The Village of Appledorn West in Holland is now open! If you or a senior loved one would like to tour our independent living apartments or learn more about our assisted living community that will be opening this spring, please stop by or call us at (616) 846-4700
My father’s Alzheimer’s disease has progressed to the point where our family cannot keep him safe at home any longer. My mother, brother and I are just beginning to research dementia care programs available at the assisted living communities near his home in southeast Michigan. I am trying to develop a list of questions to ask when we call and visit each of these communities. Do you have any suggestions on what we should ask? We want to make sure we make the best decision possible for my Dad’s senior care.
It sounds like you are already on the right track by developing a list of questions that will help you get to know each memory care assisted living community a little better. Because Alzheimer’s disease presents unique challenges for caregivers, there are a few questions you definitely need to ask. Here are a few we recommend:
- What kind of training does the staff who works with Alzheimer’s residents receive?
- How often do they attend additional trainings to keep their skills updated?
- Is there a dedicated memory care section of the building? Is it secure?
- How does the community support each person’s physical limitations while still preserving their remaining abilities?
- Is the physical environment of the memory care program designed to support success for people with dementia? Is it clutter-free and calm? Are visual cues in place?
- Are meals adapted to meet the physical changes that are common with more advanced Alzheimer’s disease? (i.e. offering finger foods that don’t require the use of kitchen utensils.)
- Is a care plan developed for each resident? How often is it updated?
- Does the community offer physical activities that people with dementia care participate in?
- Does the Life Enrichment Director plan programs just for residents who have memory loss?
- Is there an emergency plan in place just in case a person with Alzheimer’s wanders away?
- How does the community safely manage medications?
I hope this list is helpful, Diane! If you would like to learn more about specialty dementia care and the features and benefits we offer at Heritage Senior Communities across Michigan, we invite you to call the community closest to your father to arrange a tour.
While the number of women living with Alzheimer’s disease continues to outnumber men, more men are moving to dementia care assisted living communities and at a faster rate. A study released in late 2014 examined the issues behind these statistics.
Agitation, Wandering and Aggression in Men with Alzheimer’s Disease
The research conducted by a national senior care placement company looked at memory care admissions from July of 2011 through June of 2014. It found that men are 27% more likely to require a dedicated dementia care program than their female counterparts. Men also moved to these communities at a 14% faster rate than women.
Two primary reasons seemed to lead families to search for a memory care program. Wandering and aggression were both behaviors adult children and caregiving spouses found too difficult to safely manage in their homes. The study reinforced what many Alzheimer’s experts already knew. Men have higher rates of both these challenging behaviors. They are 8% more likely to wander and 30% more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors than women with Alzheimer’s disease.
Potential Causes Wandering and Aggression in People with Alzheimer’s
While the cause of wandering and aggression still isn’t completely understood, experts believe there are some factors that may contribute to both:
- Too Much Stimulation: A noisy, overly busy environment can negatively impact someone with Alzheimer’s. Because the disease causes damage to the brain, people with Alzheimer’s have difficulty processing too much information at one time. The frustration it causes can trigger angry, aggressive outbursts.
- Exhaustion and Chronic Fatigue: Alzheimer’s disrupts a person’s sleep-wake cycle. It isn’t uncommon for someone living with the disease to have problems sleeping and to go several days without sleep. Even though they are physically exhausted, they are unable to sleep. It can result in stress, anxiety and aggression.
- Unmet Needs: The loss of verbal communication skills makes it difficult to know what a senior loved one living with Alzheimer’s needs. They may be hungry, thirsty or have to use the bathroom and be unable to communicate it. These unmet needs can produce episodes of wandering and aggressive behavior with their caregiver. Undiagnosed pain can also cause a similar reaction.
- Communication Problems: Having problems following a caregiver’s directions can increase anxiety and agitation. Because a person with Alzheimer’s disease likely has an impaired abstract thought process, they may not be able to perform tasks that require the use of some types of memory. Trying to do so can result in anger and frustration.
- Medication Side Effects: Older adults process medicine differently than younger people. They sometimes require smaller dosages or a different medication entirely. The same is true for a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Difficult behaviors may be the result of being overmedicated or an interaction between their medications.
To learn more about Aggression and Anger visit the Alzheimer’s Association resource center online. They share information and suggestions to help families manage challenges ranging from how to get someone with Alzheimer’s to eat to how to use visual cues to communicate.
As you are collecting the information you need to file your taxes or have your taxes prepared for you, one deduction you don’t want to overlook is the cost of senior care. If you help pay for an aging parent’s care, you may be entitled to a tax deduction for senior care or at least a portion of those expenses.
IRS Tax Rules for Caregivers
For a caregiver to receive a tax deduction, the person you are providing care for must be a spouse, dependent, or qualifying relative. A qualifying relative is a parent or stepparent, father-in-law or mother-in-law, or another person who was a member of your household all year long.
There are several additional qualifications that must be met:
- The person receiving care must be a S. citizen or resident of the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.
- You must meet what is known as the 7.5% rule. It means you may only deduct medical expenses if they exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Note: this is the combined total of your medical expenses and those of your senior loved one.
- The relative must meet the gross income and the joint return test to be considered your dependent. It means they cannot have a gross income in excess of $3,700 nor can they file a joint return for next year. If your relative doesn’t qualify as a dependent because of these tests, you cannot claim a dependency deduction. You may still be able to claim their medical expenses though. Check with your tax advisor to be sure.
Caregiver Tax Resources
To help you better understand how the IRS views the costs associated with elder care, we’ve pulled together a few additional resources:
Because of the complexities associated with claiming an aging family member as a dependent or writing off the costs associated with their health care, we always recommend caregivers seek the advice of a professional tax advisor. One who is familiar with and experienced at working with family caregivers is best.
Our newest community, The Village of Appledorn West in Holland, is open! If you or an older loved one would like to tour our independent living apartments or learn more about our assisted living community that will open in the spring of 2015, please stop by or call us at (616) 846-4700