Judging from movies, TV commercials and the lyrics to popular carols, there’s no happier time than the holidays. The season is filled with nonstop cheer as people attend parties, create wonderful memories, and experience a generosity of spirit and goodwill that exists no other time of year.
However, some experts—and many caregivers—paint a different picture. While it’s definitely a joyful time of year, it is not unusual for caregivers to experience a bout of the holiday blues.
Family Caregivers are Especially Vulnerable to the Holiday Blues
Family caregivers are already some of America’s overworked people. For those who care for a spouse or a partner, an average of almost 45 hours per week is spent providing unpaid care. That’s the equivalent of a full-time job!
The work they perform is vital but it can cause caregivers to feel overwhelmed with their daily responsibilities. When the holiday season starts up and those responsibilities multiply, the added stress can cause anxiety or depression… otherwise known as ‘the holiday blues’.
Tips for Avoiding the Holiday Blues
If you’re a family caregiver, you’ll be glad to know that there are ways to reduce the chances of feeling down during the holiday season. Here are five steps you can take.
- Acknowledge Your Emotions
First, you can’t combat the holiday blues if you’re not mindful of your own emotions. Family caregivers may experience a range of feelings during the holidays, including sadness, fear and frustration. Be open and honest with yourself and admit the emotions you’re feeling.
- Know the Signs of Caregiver Burnout
As a family caregiver, you’re already giving much of yourself to your role. During the holidays, you’re apt to try and give even more—cooking, entertaining, and shopping. Don’t let the stress build to a point where you become vulnerable to burnout. The signs include low energy, emotional and physical exhaustion, or a feeling of mental ‘numbness.’
- Make Time for Yourself
No matter how hectic your schedule becomes, try and carve out some time for a bit of light to moderate physical exercise. Yoga, walking, dancing, or anything that gets your heart rate up just a bit will improve your mood and reduce stress levels. If you’re starting a new exercise routine, be sure and check with your doctor first.
- Stay in the Moment
One way to stay balanced is to keep your mind in the moment.
Concentrate on the task at hand and try not to let your mind wander. Stay positive and focus on all that you’re able to accomplish, letting go of what you can’t control or are unable to do.
- Find Your Stress Reliever
Each of us has our own way of relieving stress. Only you know what works for you, so find your stress busters and use them.
Heritage Senior Communities Supports Caregivers All Year ‘Round
Many people feel blue during the holidays, but family caregivers are especially in need of support this time of year. One final tip is to ask for help. From the online resources we provide to respite care services designed to give families a break, there are a number of ways we stand behind caregivers like you.
If you’d like to learn more about short-term stays or respite care, please call us today.
As strikingly beautiful as they are, winters in Michigan can also be very difficult for residents. This is especially true of the state’s senior population, for whom the snow, ice, and brutal cold of a Great Lakes winter can be dangerous. Preparing a senior’s home for winter is key.
Tips to Prepare a Senior’s Home Before Winter
If you have a parent, grandparent, or other senior loved one who lives in Michigan, you’ll want to take every precaution you can to protect them for the frigid winter months ahead.
These guidelines can help ensure your senior loved ones enjoy the beauty of a Michigan winter without incident.
- Driveway. Have a plan in place to keep the driveway and walkways clear of ice and snow throughout the winter months. Include plans for frequent layers of salt for extra traction.
- Furnace. Hire a professional to test the furnace and make any necessary repairs for optimum heat and efficiency. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one danger that can be deadly if not detected and corrected. Make sure the furnace filter is also replaced.
- Space Heaters. If your older loved one uses space heaters during the winter, make sure they’re functioning properly and don’t pose a fire risk. Also, investigate to be certain they’re placed at least a few feet away from any materials that might catch fire. Read the manufacturer’s instructions if you haven’t already.
- Supplies. Purchase backup supplies of food, clean water, and other necessities. Depending on your older loved one’s living situation, this might include flashlights, blankets, batteries, extra doses of any medications, and an emergency cell phone. Don’t forget extra food for Fido if the senior has a pet!
- Vehicle. Make sure your senior family member’s vehicle is prepared for winter. This means checking the tires, brakes, fluids, and heater. Fall is also an ideal time for new windshield wipers and fresh anti-freeze. And investing in an auto club membership might be a good idea.
- Cover Drafts. Using plastic sealant on large windows and caulking drafty door frames can also help. You’ll simultaneously warm your senior loved one’s home and reduce their heating bill.
- Pipes. Last but certainly not least, make sure that the pipes are protected against freezing during the winter months. You can find detailed instructions on how to accomplish this right here.
With communities across the Great Lake state, Heritage is a leading provider of senior living in Michigan. Caregivers at our family-owned company have been welcoming Michigan seniors for four generations.
We hope you’ll contact us if you ever need more information or wish to arrange an in–person tour of one of our communities.
One of the best ways to help a loved one transition to assisted living may be by reflecting back on your own memories. What was it like to be ill or immobilized by an injury? What was it like to leave your kids when you dropped them off at kindergarten on the first day? How did you feel moving away from friends or family?
Your answers may help increase empathy for the transition that your Mom or Dad is about to make. Keeping your experiences in mind and following these suggestions can make the transition go a little more smoothly.
Supporting a Senior’s Transition to Assisted Living
Tour the senior living community
Visiting the new community may sound obvious, but it is vital to have sufficient opportunities to see what the community is really like, experience how the caregivers interact with residents and develop familiarity with the place. During the visits, encourage Mom or Dad to ask questions, voice concerns to you, and make some connections with staff and residents.
Once you’ve decided on a community, visit it a few more times with your senior loved one. Participate in activities and events. Stay for lunch or dinner. It can help make the new community feel more like home.
No matter how much we like the new place, moving may create a feeling of loss. Adjustment takes time, and most people feel sad, angry or depressed at various stages after they’ve made a big move. That happens to eight-year-olds as well as eighty-year-olds.
Love and listening, support and faith, humor and reminiscing can go a long way to providing comfort at those times. Exercising kindness and compassion may help to reduce the fear.
Consider reasoning and logic
Remember why the decision to move was made. Write it down and post it for yourself and your loved one. Refer to it when you need to remind yourself why you are doing this.
It might feel like the wrong decision when the emotions of moving day take over, but “this too shall pass.” Try to focus your mind on how senior living communities improve the quality of life for older adults.
Create a tiny escape clause
If possible, provide a minor “out”, so the older person doesn’t feel trapped. For example, “Mom, if this doesn’t work, maybe we can make some adjustments. But let’s really give this an A+ honest effort. This is our best choice.”
If possible, help the senior make the move before putting their house up for sale. It can take some of the stress and fear out of the equation if you do.
Get the family involved
Contact family and friends who may be willing visit your loved one at the new community. Consider setting up a schedule for the first few weeks. This helps ensure a steady stream of friendly faces during the toughest days of the transition.
Establish some routines
Activities that build familiarity can be helpful to reduce transition stress. Suggest to your loved one that they start a routine, such as eating in the dining area or taking a walk at the same time each day. That will make it easier for staff and residents to see them and develop relationships.
Make it personal
Who am I now? Who was I? Who do I want to be?
Finding those answers are important to our identity and self-confidence at any stage of life. So as much as possible, help your parent identify their unique qualities and potential contributions, even though they may have limitations now.
Also, provide your Mom or Dad with items that remind them of different stages of their life. Familiar personal possessions and furnishings may be more comforting than buying all new furniture for the move.
Advocate for your loved one
Sometimes it’s little rules or small problems that can seem like a very big deal to a senior who recently relocated. Although the staff may be busy, most people want new residents to feel comfortable and at home in their new surroundings. Don’t be concerned about speaking up and acting as your loved one’s advocate. Resolving those issues can help to make an aging loved one feel safe and secure.
Trust your intuition
Intuition is that gut feeling that tells you something is wrong. Listen to it. Ask questions of yourself and respond in writing to generate deeper answers. Talk about it with others. The problem could be an old fear rearing its head or it could be a something that requires immediate action. Most of our parents tried to heed those feelings when they raised us. Now it’s our turn.
Visit Heritage Senior Communities to Learn More
At Heritage Senior Communities, we welcome you and your loved one to visit us. Our team will help provide support to make the transition comfortable for your mom or dad. Call us and schedule a time!
The news these days is full of stories about boomerang kids who leave the nest but then return home to live with parents. Just as headline-worthy is the opposite of that trend: parents moving in with their adult children.
When an older parent moves in with their adult child, a whole new family dynamic is created. It’s a wonderful opportunity for grandkids to get to know their grandparents and for everyone to build closer bonds. It can also save the caregiver a lot of time and energy not having to drive so much to check in on parents.
Considerations to Ponder Before Making the Change
There’s a flipside to everything, of course. And there are definitely some things to consider before moving a parent in with you.
Here are some of the most common issues experienced by people who’ve already traveled down this road.
Your home may work for you now but if your mother or father moves in, your space needs will change dramatically. There are a variety of solutions to this problem, including adding a master suite.
The average cost of a mid-range master suite addition in Michigan was $115,810 in 2016. Obviously, this expense must be carefully considered by you and your spouse. A parent may –or may not— be able to help with the cost of remodeling, so it’s a solution the whole family should discuss together.
Some homes are simply too small to accommodate one more adult. A family might end up moving to a larger home.
Even if you have space for your aging parent in your home, you may need to make a few modifications. Bathrooms are a prime area of focus when a parent moves in. At the very least, safety features like grab bars and a non-step shower should be installed. Some older adults will need modified toilets. You’ll want to complete a safety audit of your home in order to determine exactly what upgrades you’ll need to make.
You should also consider privacy when making a decision.
Here’s where the master suite comes in again. Sometimes called ‘in-law suites’, these usually include a bedroom, bathroom, sitting area, and sometimes an efficiency or full kitchen. This allows your senior loved one to maintain privacy and independence and to feel that they aren’t placing too much of a burden on you and your family.
Finally, think about how your days will go with a parent now living with you.
- Will you divide chores?
- Will you eat together?
- Who controls the TV?
- What about pets?
- Will you socialize together?
- Will you take vacations together?
- How will you manage bills?
- What if you need to go away?
- What will your parent(s) do all day?
- How will you handle special dietary needs?
- Will they hire a home care aide while you’re at work?
- What happens if they start telling your kids what to do?
Short-Term Respite at Heritage Senior Living Communities
Respite care can help when your family wants some private time or if you will be taking a vacation. Your senior loved one can stay at an assisted living community on a short-term basis.
Call or stop by one of our Michigan and Indiana communities for a tour and to have all of your questions about respite care and assisted living answered!
If there’s one thing in life that never seems to change, it’s the prevalence of scammers out to trick us out of money. While it’s true that anyone can become the victim of fraud, summer scam season is often aimed directly at seniors.
For caregivers, a little knowledge can go a long way toward protecting senior loved ones from criminals.
Now is a good time to brief yourself on scams that heat up with the weather. And then share what you find with your loved one.
Summer Scam Season Revolves around Senior Homeowners
Scammers seem to come out of the woodwork when the weather gets warmer. One reason is because that’s when homeowners typically need services. Whether it’s fixing a leak in the attic, trimming trees and shrubs, or mowing the lawn, seniors often need help around the yard and house in the summer and early fall.
Although many seniors continue maintaining their yards well into their 70s and 80s, there does come a time when certain tasks are too much for them. There may even be safety risks at home.
The Unnecessary Repairs
Scammers prey on the idea that some seniors no longer feel comfortable climbing a ladder. The scam here is that a roofer or ‘fixit’ guy will show up and offer services. He’ll go up on the roof and declare a disaster site that needs to be repaired immediately. That may not be true.
There’s the first level of fraud, but the ‘scam’ doesn’t stop there.
The Magically Increasing Price Quote
Next, he may agree upon a repair price with the senior homeowner. When the job is complete, somehow that price has inflated to much more than the original agreement. Then, he uses intimidation to coerce the senior homeowner into paying the inflated price.
The Retainer Service that Melts Away
Another direction the roofing (or other contractor) scam can take is the retainer fraud. The contractor will show up, offering all kinds of home repair and maintenance services for a very reasonable retainer fee.
The catch is that the retainer fee must be paid up front for the entire length of the contract.
Your senior loved one pays six months’ worth of retainer fees up front and then guess what happens?
They never see the guy again.
The Vacation Rental Deposit Scam
Another favorite technique of scammers is the deposit scam. This type of fraud is aimed at vacation rental property owners of any age, but seniors who rent out properties are often more vulnerable. This is often because they are more likely to be trusting of people in general.
Here’s how it works: someone answers your senior loved one’s ad for a vacation rental. The scammer mails a check for the deposit and it’s cashed. The catch here is that the deposit is $1000 too much (or more).
‘No problem’, says the renter. ‘You can just return the difference to me’.
If your senior loved one complies, he’s just mailed a $1000 check to a complete stranger. The original deposit check, of course, turns out to be a bad check.
Every year, between 18 and 19 million dollars are lost to fake deposit check rental scams.
Always Be On the Lookout for Scams, no Matter What the Season
It’s certainly important to be aware of the tricks used during summer scam season. However, seniors and caregivers should stay on alert for scams and fraud all year long.
At Heritage Senior Living, we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to keep seniors aware and safe. It’s part of our commitment to providing excellent care and services. If you’d like to learn more about a Heritage community near you, call us! We’ll be happy to show you around.
It used to be great. They listened when something was wrong, and respected the opinions your senior loved one shared with them. They used to take time to talk about your concerns, and sometimes even share a laugh. But something’s changed. Lately, they seem hurried, no longer interested in the details. Or worse, they just aren’t available when your loved one needs them.
You know the signs. You’ve seen them before in other failing relationships, and now you’re noticing it all over again. But this time it’s in the life of a senior loved one, and in the place where you least expected it to happen – the doctor’s office.
Not Every Physician Relationship was Made to Last a Lifetime
What has always been a great doctor-patient relationship can change for the worse over time. Interactions might become rushed, perfunctory and impersonal. You are starting to wonder if it may be time to move on.
Talk to any relationship therapist and they’ll tell you there are classic signs to watch for. Signs that it’s time to call it quits. A relationship with a doctor is no different, though the red flags aren’t exactly the same.
So what signs might indicate it’s time for a new physician?
- Long wait times
- Bad communication
- Poor listening skills
- Disregard for the patient’s concerns or opinions
- Limited or delayed access to care
Ending Certain Physician Relationships May be Lifesaving
People often fall into the trap of thinking that because they need their doctor, they aren’t free to leave. This simply isn’t true.
A doctor-patient relationship is a two way street. There needs to be mutual respect and a willingness to listen. When these needs aren’t met, it’s okay to end the relationship.
In an article written by Eugene Spiritus for Forbes.com, Spiritus explains that there’s no such thing as the “best doctor.” But there is such a thing as the wrong doctor for you. Spiritus, a pulmonary critical care specialist, says that while competence is important, it’s even more important that a doctor be a good listener.
It sounds a bit melodramatic, we know, but it’s true. In the same way that a relationship with an abusive partner can have tragic results, so can a bad relationship with your doctor. According to AARP, multiple sclerosis, lupus and Lyme disease are only a few of the medical conditions that are regularly misdiagnosed by doctors.
Clearly, a doctor who listens to their patient’s concerns can make all the difference. So if a senior loved one in your life is feeling ignored or dismissed by their doctor, it might be time to discuss moving on.
Here are a few factors to consider.
Mutual respect and collaboration are key.
A paper published by the American Journal of Managed Care shows that communication and decision-making are what secure the relationship between a doctor and their patient. In other words, how included a patient feels in decisions about their health, and how the doctor communicates with them are foundational to their relationship.
Making the right choice for your loved ones.
Helping an aging loved one to make the critical decision to part ways with their doctor and move on can be hard. Ending any lasting relationship is difficult. But when you think about what’s best for their overall health and wellbeing, a disinterested and unavailable doctor shouldn’t be anywhere in that picture.
An Environment to Support Older Adults
The support of an interested physician is one important aspect of thriving in retirement years. Another one is where a senior lives. And where you live matters greatly as you grow older.
From independent living to assisted living and memory care, Heritage Senior Communities, we have a housing solution for seniors across the state of Michigan. Call the community nearest you to schedule a private tour today!