How to Cope When a Parent Starts Dating Again

How to Cope When a Parent Starts Dating Again

Dear Donna:

My father passed away unexpectedly two years ago. After over forty years of marriage, my mom has been lost without him. She recently joined a single seniors group at her church. They play cards, go out for lunch, and organize trips to museums, zoos, and other local destinations.

While we were forced to stay at home during the COVID-19 crisis, her new friends stayed in touch virtually. They used online platforms and apps like Zoom and Houseparty to stay connected. It’s been such a blessing to see her happy again.

However, I wasn’t expecting her to start dating again as a result of joining this group. While I haven’t mentioned it to her, I’m really struggling with the idea. My husband tells me I need to get over it, but I’m not sure how.

Do you have any advice?


Nina in Grand Haven, MI


What to Do When a Senior Parent Starts Dating


Dear Nina:

First, please accept my sympathy on the sudden loss of your father. It’s never easy to lose someone you love, especially without warning.

While you might feel alone in being concerned about your mother’s return to dating, you aren’t. Many adult children share this concern. I do have a few suggestions that might help you find peace:

  1. Be honest with yourself: Take some time to think honestly about what you find most upsetting. Does it feel like you mother is betraying your father? Does her age worry you? Are you fearful of her being taken advantage of? By figuring out your concerns, you may be able to come to terms with this change in both your lives.
  2. Communicate with your mom: While no one wants to hear the intimate details about a parent’s dating life, it is important that your mom can share her new adventures with you. It might also give you an opportunity to overcome some of your worries. For example, if you are concerned about her safety, talking through a few precautions might make you feel better.
  3. Discuss safety concerns: Speaking of safety precautions, the dating world has changed a lot since the last time your mom dated. From making sure she meets new friends in public places to not loaning money, it’s essential to discuss potential risks. If your mom is utilizing dating websites, “How to Keep Aging Parents Safe on Senior Dating Sites” offers good advice.

Best of luck to you and your mother, Nina!

Kind regards,



Heritage Senior Communities


A fourth-generation, family-owned senior housing company, Heritage Senior Communities proudly serves older adults and families in Michigan and Indiana. We offer independent and assisted living, as well as memory care and respite services. Call the Heritage community nearest you to learn more!

What Is a Sandwich Generation Caregiver?

What Is a Sandwich Generation Caregiver?

You may have heard the phrase sandwich generation and wondered what it meant. This term was coined to classify adults sandwiched between caring for aging parents and raising a family of their own. Many do this while working outside the home. These sandwich generation caregivers live hectic, often stressful lives.

Nearly half of all people in their 40s and 50s qualify as sandwich generation caregivers. They are the primary caregivers for—or beginning to care for—a parent while having their own children living at home. As baby boomers retire at a rate of 10,000 per day, the sandwich generation continues to grow.

July is Sandwich Generation Caregiver Month. In honor of this designation, we are offering advice to weary caregivers. From stress relief to senior care, here are five ways to survive these challenging years.


5 Survival Tips for Sandwich Generation Caregivers


  1. Ask for and accept help.

It’s unrealistic to manage so many roles without help, yet many sandwich generation caregivers do. Even when a friend or loved one offers assistance, a family caregiver may resist. Give yourself permission to ask for and accept help. It’s essential for preventing a serious case of caregiver burnout. Here are a couple reasons why it’s important to accept help:

  • Protect your health: Weary caregivers are stressed caregivers. Chronic stress weakens the immune system, which can put you at higher risk for a variety of illnesses. If you fall ill, who will be able to care for your family members?
  • Recover with rest: Accept that you will be a better caregiver when you get a good night’s sleep or even take a nap. You will be less likely to make mistakes when well rested.
  1. Have open and honest communication.

One challenge sandwich generation caregivers face is worrying about a parent’s financial situation. This can be especially difficult if you took on the role of caregiver as the result of your parent’s sudden illness or injury. The two of you might not have had an opportunity to discuss how to handle their monthly finances.

While it might not be easy, have an honest conversation with your parent. If they don’t use online bill payment options, setting them up may help. It can make things easier for both of you.

  1. Review or create legal documents.

Make sure you know which—if any—legal documents your parent has in place. In most cases, an older adult typically needs:

  • A will or trust
  • A living will
  • Advance directives
  • A durable power of attorney
  • A health care proxy/power of attorney

If some are missing, work with a trusted attorney to create them.

  1. Explore senior care resources.

Most cities and counties have a wide variety of senior care resources available. From home care to assisted living and memory care, they provide families with many options to choose from. If you aren’t familiar with those near you, call your local agency on aging office. Most have staff that can educate families on which types of care best meet their needs.

  1. Make time for self-care.

Pushing yourself to the point of mental and physical exhaustion is never a good idea. It puts you at high risk for a variety of mental and physical health concerns. Make time each day to unwind and de-stress. Maybe it’s a 10-minute meditation before bedtime or a morning stroll around the block. Many caregivers find journaling therapeutic. The goal should be to focus on your own wellness for a few minutes every day.


Care for Every Need


At Heritage Senior Communities, we have a type of senior care to meet every need. From independent living for the active older adult to assisted living and memory care for those who need a helping hand, we invite you to learn more. Find the community nearest you and call today!

Do Seniors Need Colonoscopies?

Do Seniors Need Colonoscopies?

Dear Donna:

My father is 81 years old. He last had a colonoscopy at 70. It’s always been tough getting him to comply with doctor’s orders, especially when it comes to this screening.

We have an appointment with his primary care doctor in two weeks. I suspect the topic will come up. At his age, how necessary is it to have this procedure again? While he’s fairly healthy, his age alone has me worried.

Do you know if older adults still need colonoscopies? Any information would be appreciated.


Stefanie in Saginaw, MI


Age and Colonoscopy: What to Consider


Dear Stefanie:

What a great question! It’s one residents at Heritage Senior Communities likely have too.

Colonoscopies are a preventive screening typically recommended for adults over the age of 50. Research shows colonoscopies save lives. Colon cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in this country. While most people know they should get one, not everyone follows through.

The unpleasantness of the prep combined with the perceived loss of dignity of the procedure are the leading reasons people put it off. For older adults, there are other concerns. The side effects of sedation and the risk of a bowel perforation are two.

Adults over the age of 65 are at 30% higher risk for perforation. For seniors, this can be life-threatening. If you are a senior or the adult child of one, here’s what to consider before scheduling a colonoscopy.


Colonoscopies and the Older Adult


  1. Age: In 2008, the United States Preventive Services Task Force published updated guidelines on colorectal cancer screening to include recommendations based on age. They recommend colorectal cancer screening using fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy from age 50 through 75. After age 76, they recommend against a colonoscopy unless there are special circumstances.
  2. Last screening: Physicians also consider the date of last colonoscopy, especially for those between the age of 65 and 75. Because colon cancer typically grows slowly, seniors who have had clear colonoscopies might not be required to have another. The decision should be made on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Alternative screenings: Another suggestion is to talk with your father’s physician about alternatives to colonoscopy. There are several, such as a sigmoidoscopy or a fecal occult blood test. Cologuard, a newer, non-invasive colon cancer test, is covered by Medicare. Research shows it to be effective at detecting colon cancer, even in early stages.


While colonoscopy is likely to be considered the gold standard in colon cancer screenings for the foreseeable future, it’s essential to weigh the benefits against the risks with your father’s physician.

Hope this helps, Stefanie!

Kind regards,


Independence Day Safety for Adults with Alzheimer’s

Independence Day Safety for Adults with Alzheimer’s

Independence Day celebrates the birth of our nation. It’s typically filled with parades, picnics, and barbeques. For many, attending a community fireworks event or launching a few small firecrackers in the yard are a favorite part of their annual July 4th tradition.

While most people greatly enjoy these loud and lively festivities, they can cause fear and agitation for others. This is especially true for seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

If you are planning an Independence Day celebration that includes an older adult with dementia, we have a few tips to help the day go more smoothly.


Dementia and Independence Day: 5 Tips for a Safe Celebration


  1. Let the senior help with preparations.

In the days before your party, find tasks your family member can do. It will make them feel like they are part of the celebration. Depending upon the stage of their Alzheimer’s, they might be able to help plant and water flowers in the yard, cover and set tables, or prepare food. Find safe ways to include the older adult.

  1. Consider the party time carefully.

Think about the times of day when your senior loved one is at their best. Is it possible to plan your July 4th festivities around tough hours of the day and night? For example, if your family member has Sundowner’s Syndrome, can you host your party earlier or later in the day?

  1. Create a peaceful place.

Make sure to have a safe place for your family member to rest if the celebration gets too loud or chaotic. If they don’t live with you, set up a space for them in a bedroom or den furthest from the party. Have soft music ready to play or noise-cancelling headphones they can wear.

  1. Plan alternative activities for the senior.

It might also be a good idea to have alternate activities for them to do if the party gets to be too much. A craft project, a basket of laundry to fold, or a family photo album can be good. You may want to ask people familiar to the senior to spend one-on-one time with them during this respite. It can be a positive experience for both.

  1. Alert guests ahead of time.

If some of your guests aren’t familiar with your senior loved one’s illness, send a quick text or email to explain the situation. While many adults have a vague understanding of Alzheimer’s and dementia, they might not be familiar with the challenges it creates.

We hope the tips above help your family enjoy a happy, healthy July 4th celebration!


Specialized Dementia Care in Michigan and Indiana


Adults with memory impairment benefit from specialized dementia care. At Heritage, we call it The Terrace. Using a person-centered approach, each resident gets the individual support needed to live their best quality of life. We invite you to call the community nearest you to learn more today!