New Approach to Spring Cleaning Season for Family Caregivers of Seniors

Spring cleaning has a special meaning to many. Some are exhilarated by the mere thought while for many others it means work that can’t be marked done soon enough.

Who really wants to tackle cleaning — the windows, screens, garage and all those chores — that our seniors have done their entire lives?

Let’s look at “spring cleaning” a lot differently this year, with new goals to achieve and new actions to undertake.

Yes, Springtime is here for family caregivers and senior loved ones! Spring often brings a renewal to the plants, flowers and trees! It is a living thing that surges forth!

Let’s bring some renewal to us as well and spring clean some non-traditional areas in our lives!

Tasks to Tackle This Spring

There are many tasks in our lives that we tend to procrastinate about because, let’s face it, they are just not fun!

Spring is a good time to get to work on some of these important responsibilities and discover how mentally refreshing they can be.

  • Have the talk! Make today the day that you talk with your parents or other senior loved ones about how they want to spend the end of their days. There are some great tools that you can use to help you put down their thoughts for the future so all will be in the know when the time comes. You might want to check out our post Five Wishes: Seniors Letting Family Know What They Want to help you with this important, life affirming task.
  • Execute the documents! Are your senior loved one’s advance directives completed? Do you know if they have a living will or a do not resuscitate guide? Where is it if they have completed these documents? Can you get a copy for safe keeping and access in an emergency? And what about your own documents! Did you make advance directives and instructions on who will care for your senior loved ones in the event that you will not be available? Time to do it!
  • Uncover the money! Do you know how much money your senior loved ones have or where the bank accounts are located? Do they have a retirement plan, CD’s, stocks or other assets of which you are not aware? To help them make plans for aging in place and to be able to access in an emergency, it would be a good idea to review all their assets, how you can find them (are there passwords needed) and where to contact when the time comes. It is going to be a hard discussion because we don’t like to talk about money but an important one to have. Will they have enough money to age in place as they wish? If you can create a financial plan now that will help them in the future, it could make a big difference in their quality of life in the future. Have they created a health care power of attorney for finances? Who is it and if not, it may be time to do it. As part of the financial discussion, it would be good to discuss insurance too. Do they have long term care insurance, life insurance, home insurance and what about medical insurance or supplemental coverage? Knowledge is power and will make things easier in the future if you know the answers.
  • Clean out the medicine cabinet! Let’s throw away old, expired and unused prescription and over-the-counter medications and elixirs that are stuffing the shelves. It can be dangerous if our seniors are relying on medications that are expired. We have a video you are sure to enjoy with great tips in our article Drug Safety in Seniors’ Medicine Cabinets. Don’t forget to dispose of them safely. We got some great tips on that in an expert interview in an episode of the Senior Care Corner Show.
  • Do a home safety inspection! Check the area for slip and fall hazards and remove them to keep your senior loved ones safe. Fix up any other places that can pose a threat such as loose hand rails or stair treads. Replace the batteries in the smoke alarms. Be sure they are still functional. You may also want to install a carbon monoxide and radon detector too. Be sure all the lights are working especially in stairways, halls and basements where dark places can lead to accidents. Install grab bars, easy to use faucet handles and safety locks where needed. Do some yard work cutting back overgrown plants and shrubs that might pose a threat to your senior’s safety. Check the car that your senior may still be using for adequate fluid levels, safe tire tread, and any maintenance to allow them to drive safely. You can find more tips in our Home Seniorization Checklist.
  • Get a health checkup! Family caregivers often neglect their own health. Call your healthcare provider and schedule a wellness checkup. Get any immunizations and preventive screening tests done that you need now to be sure you will stay healthy all year long to care for your loved one.

These things will clear your mind of worry and help you down the road as your responsibilities as a family caregiver increase.

Oh yeah, you can clean the windows and garage when these things are finished if you want! Enjoy your spring projects!

Traveling with Seniors: Packing to Make the Trip Healthy, Safe & Enjoyable

Who doesn’t look forward to taking a vacation or visiting family members?

Just planning the trip is a big part of the fun for many of us and something that can involve everyone.

Whether the trip is not too far or across the country, maybe even across the globe, it is important when traveling with seniors that you bring everything they need.

No one wants to over-pack and especially not have to drag around an overfilled suitcase – or an extra bag – from destination to destination, but we do want to have with us important items to keep our seniors safe, comfortable and healthy.

Whether traveling by train, automobile, boat or plane, having what your senior needs when they need it will make the journey a lot more pleasant and help avoid health issues.

Seniors’ Travel Essentials

There are several items that will come in handy when traveling that might not be easily replaced once you are on the road. Here are some suggestions for things to put on the packing list so you don’t leave home without them.

  • Medications in the original pill bottle (with the prescription label)
  • Important documents, including medication list, doctor’s name and contact number, advance directives, allergy list, identification, copies in another place of passport and id in case of loss
  • Money belt, depending on your destination
  • Extra set of glasses in case of breakage or loss
  • Hearing aid battery spares
  • Denture container
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Hat and sunscreen
  • Sweater or light jacket
  • Snacks, including mint or gum to keep mouth from becoming too dry
  • Travel size toiletries
  • Rain gear, including small umbrella or poncho
  • Book, tablet, puzzle book, crossword or music to keep them from being bored
  • Camera to record all the memories and adventures

If you plan on checking your senior’s luggage, bring along a small carry-on bag with essentials your senior will want to keep close such as medications, travel documents, id, change of clothes, toiletries (3 oz. containers in one quart sealed bag) and valuables. In case your senior’s luggage is lost they will have the most important items safe.

Choose Luggage for Travel Ease

Your senior’s best friend will be a suitcase that has wheels that work well, move freely and allow them to push the bag in any direction so that when getting on and off an elevator or other tight place they can go back or forth with ease.

They might find it useful to have a clip or strap on the suitcase that will hold a jacket or purse to keep from dropping the jacket and never seeing it again after navigating the maddening crowd of the airport or shuttle bus.

(PS: Don’t keep any important items in the pocket of your jacket in case it does go missing)

Traveling is a time for fun, new adventures and making memories — but can also involve tension, chaos and confusion. Having a well-stocked carry-on and suitcase will help lessen the stress of the trip and enable our senior loved ones to feel “at home” away from home.

Water Water Everywhere – But Many Seniors Don’t Drink Enough for Health

Water is essential to our lives. Our bodies need to not only be refueled but also need to be hydrated. Getting older does not change the need we have for fluids to remain healthy.

Unfortunately, getting older for many means drinking less fluid than our bodies need. Elders tend not to want to drink much because it might mean more trips to the bathroom than they may want to make due to decreased mobility or the fear of falling on the way.

Aging can also lead to a reduced sensation of thirst so that our senior loved ones do not feel the need to drink enough fluids.

Many seniors also prefer warm beverages and tend to drink caffeinated fluids more often, which can actually work against them in the short run due to the diuretic properties of caffeine, especially if they’re not replacing fluid losses.

Older generations did not grow up with a bottle of water in their hands like many of our children, and even many of us, currently do. Drinking six to eight or more glasses of water is not intriguing to them.

Water – Why Do We Need It?

Our bodies are made up of water at all levels, beginning from our cells. Our tissues and organs need water to function properly. Actually, 60% of an adult’s body is composed of water!

  • Water carries nutrients to the cells throughout our bodies.
  • Water carries the waste from our blood out of our body through the kidneys.
  • Water regulates our body temperature though sweating and absorbing excess heat generated when our cells work.
  • Water lubricates our joints.
  • Water helps our intestines process the food we eat and keep our bowels regular.

Yes, we need water! When we don’t drink and eat enough water our bodies do not function properly. Dehydration is the result. Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration due to age and chronic disease.

Dehydration Consequences

Our bodies naturally try to strike a balance between the amount of water we consume and the water we lose through urine, waste, sweat, and the air we breathe. We usually drink about 80% of the water we need and eat the other 20% from certain foods.

At times certain conditions can increase our need for fluids such as heat and humidity, illness including fever and diarrhea, burns, physical activity and trauma. We should be replacing the fluid we lose during our normal daily functioning or when our needs are increased. When we don’t, we become dehydrated.

Dehydration can lead to weakness, poor mental functioning, trouble maintaining appropriate body temperature, change in blood pressure and fluctuations in heart rate. Your senior may feel dizzy or weak, easily fatigue, have a headache, dry mouth or lips, dry or sunken eyes, dry and flaky skin, difficulty making urine, or their urine could be dark instead of light colored. If your senior complains of thirst, it may be too late and they are already dehydrated since seniors don’t always sense thirst.

Ask your senior’s doctor or pharmacist if there are medications they are taking than can increase their fluid losses such as diuretics or cause dry mouth. If so, you will want to encourage your senior to take more fluids throughout the day.

Strategies to Increase Water Intake

We need to encourage our seniors to increase their overall consumption of fluids using some of these suggestions. You may also want to discourage an excess intake of caffeinated beverages.

  • Drink water flavored with citrus either lime, lemon or orange wedges. You can also purchase packets of dehydrated citrus that are very flavorful, easy to store, and calorie free.
  • Use decaffeinated iced tea, hot tea and coffee. Try hot water with honey. Drink other beverages such as lemonade or Crystal Light flavored beverages to mix it up.
  • Encourage fruit juice, milk and vegetable juices at meals instead of regular coffee. These choices also provide increased nutrition.
  • Eat fresh fruits at meals or snacks especially those containing higher water content such as watermelons and grapes.
  • Give gelatin, popsicles, sorbet and ices as treats.
  • Include soup with meals, preferably lower sodium versions.
  • Every time your senior uses the bathroom, get them to drink some water to replace the loss.
  • Keep a pitcher in the refrigerator with the day’s allotment of water. You will know how much more is needed to get enough and see if your senior is drinking enough.
  • Be sure your senior drinks an 8 ounce glass of water with medications.

Your senior will feel better if they are getting enough water each day and with some practice it will become a habit!

Seniors Returning to the Workforce As Paid Caregivers to Other Seniors

It is an amazing number to think about! It is estimated that, by 2018, 29% of the direct health care workers in the United States will be over 55.

Older adults who are aging successfully and who may have already retired from one career are finding themselves reentering the workforce as paid caregivers! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of working seniors is on the rise. In fact, it has more than doubled since 1990.

Many home care agencies are turning to older adults to fill the gap resulting from high turnover and increased demand for in-home care. Seniors are looking to supplement their waning retirement incomes. It becomes a win-win situation for all involved, especially the seniors needing care.

Caregivers Like Those for Whom They Care

Many older adults who need help with routine tasks such as dressing and bathing, including those who may be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, stroke or recovering from fractures, find themselves on the receiving end of senior care from someone who looks much like them. A few wrinkles, gray hair or even balding, four-eyed and born in the same generation!

Caregivers, including home health aides, nurses and hospice personnel, are no longer just young people but often those in their 70’s.

Many older paid caregivers are returning to the work force after caring for their own loved ones. Now they find themselves inspired to continue to care for other people who need them. Many feel that this new calling is more fulfilling and rewarding than their lifelong careers.

These older care providers can interact on a level that younger people simply can’t. They can relate to life stories and experiences, share common interests, enjoy the same music and play the same games. There is a kinship in this the “greatest generation.”

Family caregivers often need help as they themselves are aging and facing chronic diseases which make it difficult to perform all the necessary senior care duties for their loved one. They may also need respite from the duties in order to preserve their physical and emotional strength. For many family caregivers, especially those dealing with dementia, caregiving can be a role that is measured in many years not months resulting in burnout.

Caregivers Able to Identify with Those Under Care

Seniors and caregiving seems to be a good match when one considers that seniors have years of wisdom gathered over a lifetime of experiences. They also have compassion resulting from personal knowledge and can relate to aging issues and functional decline requiring assistance. They feel the aches and pains of aging and can share this with the person for whom they care. Seniors who provide care for their peers are not there to baby them and are not condescending, as can happen with younger helpers who mean well but don’t understand aging fully — because they haven’t yet experienced it.

Many agencies providing in-home senior care report that their workforce is comprised by about 30% seniors and one agency, Seniors Helping Seniors, is created solely for older adults to help their peers.

Because the older workers can themselves suffer from issues of aging, they may not work full time and may not plan to work many years, but while they are providing care to the nation’s seniors they are making a big difference!

Seniors Seeking Return to Work

Many retirees who have so long looked forward to free time find they are now bored and need something with which to fill their time. They can’t knit 24/7, read every book ever written or play golf for the next 20 years with no other hobbies to enjoy. This is when helping others becomes crucial. Not only is it fulfilling their need to stay engaged but is helping others too!

The village concept is also another way where seniors are helping seniors. The village is an aging in place concept where a community of neighbors form a membership where they help each other as needed. Help can include transportation, grocery shopping, home maintenance, technology support, social engagement and other non-medical support that will help seniors stay at home longer. They are self-supporting and self-governed organizations.

Giving care, filling a need, earning much needed income and staying involved in the local community while being in service to others is certainly beneficial to healthy, active seniors.

We believe this trend will continue and encourage family caregivers to get their older loved ones involved if they are looking to spend some time off the golf course or away yet another book. We know they will get back as much as they give (or more)!

Kidneys Are Essential to Life – Are Your Senior Loved Ones Protecting Theirs?

Health consciousness grows in importance as we age so that we can enjoy the activities in our life to the fullest.

Family caregivers are realizing that keeping our seniors healthy will enable them to age in place more safely and with less assistance than if they are medically compromised.

We have begun to be more physically active, we are working on eating better, and we are staying emotionally engaged through socialization activities. One key area of increased engagement for aging seniors is technology, learning something new as a mean to connect with others and access important resources such as medical information.

Besides keeping our minds sharp and bodies active, our seniors have another essential area to consider — their kidneys.

Recently the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) teamed up to remind us that our kidneys need protection as we age. March 13 was designated World Kidney Day with an aim of raising awareness.

Kidney Function & Its Significance

Did you know that our two kidneys are the clearing house of the body’s waste? They take water and waste from our blood and filter out harmful compounds. They also help control our blood pressure, as well as making hormones our bodies need. Our kidneys filter out excess medicines in our blood, too.

Unfortunately, as our bodies age our kidney function naturally declines, making them work harder to achieve their mission. The condition of this decreased kidney function is called Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Has your senior loved one received this diagnosis? The kidneys may show this damage with more protein in their urine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 20 million people in the US are suffering with Chronic Kidney Disease, about 10% of the adult population. Those who have diabetes and high blood pressure are at even greater risk of having kidney damage.

Any reduced blood flow to our kidneys can further impede their function and is affected not only by age but also smoking. Family history can also play a role in kidney disease. Obesity, that is having a BMI (body mass index) over 30, was shown to double your risk for kidney disease.

Because many seniors take multiple medications that require clearing through the kidneys, they are at even greater risk for problems developing with their kidneys as they age.

Importance of Knowing Kidney Function

Being aware of how well your seniors’ kidneys are functioning or if there is kidney damage occurring will help you and them take action to prevent or delay further decline.

We have a good reserve in our kidney function so a small age-related impairment will not result in symptoms. Your senior will likely feel fine even if they have Chronic Kidney Disease. However, if the decline is accelerating more rapidly than expected it needs to be addressed.

There are many reasons why kidney damage could be occurring more quickly and the cause can be corrected to maintain the kidneys’ function. Our goal is preserve as much kidney function as possible.

Kidney Protection and Prevention

There are some things that we can do as caregivers to help protect the health of our senior’s kidneys. Here are some suggestions for you:

  • Discuss with your senior’s doctors how well your senior’s kidneys are functioning. Be sure to have them tested and know the results so you can track any changes. Blood tests can help determine if there is any current impairment and if so, what the level of function is. Urine tests can also help determine how well your senior’s kidneys are working or if there could be a problem.
  • Review with your senior’s doctor or pharmacist the medications that your senior is taking to determine whether they may be impairing kidney function. There are numerous medications that can become elevated in the blood and contribute to kidney damage. Perhaps a newer medication or a change in dosage can be sought to protect the kidneys. Your senior’s kidneys may also be more sensitive to certain medications and these should be adjusted.
  • Inform your senior’s doctors of all over-the-counter (OTC) medications they take, especially any for arthritis, as these may be damaging to the kidneys.
  • Be aware of your family history and let the doctor know if renal disease should be a concern based on that history.
  • Encourage your seniors to manage their blood pressure and take all medication as prescribed.
  • Help your seniors reduce their intake of salt (sodium) to no more than 2300 mg per day. If they have high blood pressure, it is recommended to further reduce intake to no more than 1500 mg of sodium a day. They can do this by eliminating the salt shaker and reading labels to select foods with the lowest sodium content available.
  • Quitting smoking is an important act for kidney health, help your senior with tobacco cessation if they smoke.
  • Get your senior’s blood sugar checked. Do they have diabetes or pre-diabetes? If so, help them manage blood sugar to prevent kidney damage.
  • Take steps to help them reduce their weight and achieve a healthy BMI. You can do this by helping them limit sugar sweetened drinks, limit portion sizes, eat a plate with half vegetables and get – and stay – physically active.

Naturally we want to prevent Chronic Kidney Disease if possible. We can take steps toward adopting a healthier lifestyle to stay healthy. Our goal will be to preserve the greatest amount of kidney function as possible as we all age.

However, since so many adults already have CKD, we need to recognize it and find ways to improve our senior’s kidney function so that they can be as healthy as possible and keep more life in their years!

Emotions Common to Family Caregivers – You Are Not Alone in Feeling Them

Caregivers provide nurturing to their loved ones at a time when they are needed. No one asks us to stop everything and care for them. Caring for others comes from the kindness deep within us and we evolve into the role.

Unless a catastrophic event occurs thrusting us into becoming a family caregiver, we often ease into things naturally. We would eventually be a caregiver given time even to those whose needs become emergent.

What is true pretty much across the board for all family caregivers is experiencing and often repressing emotions. We don’t have time to deal with our feelings when we are so busy doing the tasks that help our loved ones.

When you are caring for your senior loved ones in addition to your own children, the time available to examine your inner self is non-existent.

Emotions and Their Impacts

The emotions with which we all struggle need to be recognized and then, in some way, we need to find an outlet for expressing these emotions. We will quickly burn out of caregiving, whether for our seniors or our families, if we don’t cope with our emotions. Feelings are generally sensed in your body, for example a knot in your stomach, sweating, insomnia or a headache.

The consequences of unexpressed emotions can be damaging to those you love and to yourself. You may strike out in rage verbally or physically or both at the one you love; you may cry at the drop of a hat; you may stop feeling and become numb; you may begin to curse; wear an angry expression on your face, or always have an angry tone in your voice no matter what you are saying or to whom you speak.

Repressing your feelings can cause physical illness over time. Expressing emotions benefits your physical and mental health. Some people have spent their entire lives denying their emotions, hiding them from others or choosing not to upset others by showing their emotions or by becoming non-confrontational. It may take you some time to learn how best to release your emotions in a way that is positive and healthy and will resolve these feelings. Practice and patience will be needed, as well as time to deal openly with your emotions.

The key to expressing your emotions is communication. Caregivers experience a gamut of emotions including: resentfulness, sadness, frustration, pride, anger, happiness, hope, hopelessness, denial, guilt, fear, joy, anxiety and excitement. We can feel more than one at a time. When we repress our emotions we stop communicating with others. By the way, we all tend to squash our feelings, not just men, so remember you are not alone.

Shared Feelings

A beginning step, before you start to recognize the emotions you feel, is to accept that it is okay to feel. It is okay to have certain emotions about a particular situation.

You are not a bad person because you feel something.

We don’t have to be happy all the time. Life is not always easy and the situations we encounter especially as caregivers elicit an emotional response.

Once you begin to accept emotions, identify them and begin to express them, you will begin the process of resolution.

You will feel better, more capable of handling situations that invariably come your way and know how to communicate your feelings. This will only strengthen you as a caregiver.

Effectively Communicating and Releasing Your Emotions

You can choose a variety of different ways to help you express your emotions and deal with them in a more productive way. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Write them down, either in a note form or journal. You may want to reflect on the source of the emotion. Was there a specific event or interaction that triggered your feelings? Also include your physical symptoms when the particular emotion occurred. For example, “today I got very angry when the supplies weren’t delivered on time, it made me so angry that my face felt flushed and my blood pressure skyrocketed so that by the afternoon I had a splitting headache; by the time the poor delivery guy showed up I screamed at the man and he was just dropping it off.”
  • Once you identify your primary sources of emotions, especially negative ones, you should be able to create an action plan for recognizing the trigger and avoiding the physical reaction that can impact your health and well-being.
  • You can also strategize how you will handle the triggers, such as contacting the supply company and tracking the supplies, so that the situation doesn’t escalate into screaming at the delivery boy. You might also have a backup plan in case the supplies don’t come as scheduled so it won’t create a problem.
  • Try meditation and relaxation when you feel emotions are getting the better of your physical health. Deep breathing and calming exercises can help you recover.
  • Releasing your emotions is in your hands. How you resolve your feelings can only happen when you pursue it. Talk to the person who is triggering your feelings and let them know how you feel. Do this in a calm manner at a time when the situation is appropriate. In our above example, calling the supply dealer and saying that when you don’t receive the supplies you are concerned that your parent will not be able to control their diabetes because they will not have the supplies they require. This is not acceptable to you, as your parent’s health is potentially in danger. The tone of voice, the words you choose and the agreement you feel comfortable making is in your control. Use specific words when expressing your emotions such as “I feel” this way when this happens or another person says or does something. Don’t blame others or put them on the defensive as this will not help you resolve your emotions. Don’t forget, coming to resolution will also mean that you will need to actively listen to the other person as you expect them to listen to you.
  • Use your body to help process your emotions in activities such as stress balls, punching bags, exercising or exerting yourself. This is especially helpful with anger resolution which we all feel at times.

Expressing your emotions instead of burying your head in the sand and hoping they will go away can improve your personal relationships, especially within your family unit.

Caregiving is a road that has many challenges. Getting sick because of our feelings should not be another challenge to face. Everyone is entitled to their feelings but we need to deal appropriately with them so that we  can continue to give our best in the care of our loved ones.

Financial Abuse of Seniors – Victimized by Those They Know & Even Love

Scams that are perpetrated on our vulnerable seniors have been the subject of past reports here at Senior Care Corner.

People who call and pretend to be representing a corporation or charity, phishing in emails, and door to door “sales” people who ask for money are the usual types of scams.

Did you know that there are many other ways that older adults are victims of financial abuse?

Unfortunately, it isn’t just strangers who are out to separate seniors from their savings.

Elder Abuse Defined

There are several types of abuse that can occur to our seniors, whether they live at home alone, home with family, home with paid caregivers or in a residential facility. It has been reported that 1 in 20 adults feel that they have been victims of financial abuse in the past — and may be higher due to underreporting. It is a growing problem that all too often goes undetected.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) there are many forms of abuse and this is how they define the types.

  • Physical abuse – the use of physical force causing pain or impairment.
  • Sexual abuse – non-consensual sexual contact of any kind; if the senior is unable to give consent it is considered abuse.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse – infliction of anguish or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts.
  • Neglect – refusal or failure to provide personal obligation to a senior, including life’s necessities.
  • Abandonment – desertion of an elder by someone who has assumed responsibility or physical custody of them.
  • Self-neglect – behavior of an elder that threatens their own health or safety.
  • Financial or material exploitation – illegal or improper use of a senior’s funds, property or assets.

Today we’re focusing on the last item, financial abuse.

Financial Abuse Examples

Our senior loved ones can be threatened by someone misusing or misdirecting their assets. This person could be a family friend, neighbor, family member, paid home caregiver or staff member in their residential facility.

It is be a good idea to be familiar with the many ways that someone near your senior could be abusing them. This often involves checking out their accounts and assets, including their possessions, so you can be aware of the areas of vulnerability and changes that occur.

  • Cashing your senior’s checks without permission
  • Forging your senior’s signature on any type of paperwork, check or power of attorney
  • Stealing your senior’s money, household possessions or valuables; this could be something as simple as taking their newspaper without permission or stealing the china or jewelry from their home
  • Taking money from the ATM, falsifying checks, using credit cards for personal use, or withdrawing money from accounts
  • Tricking or coercing your senior to sign over a deed, change their will, or authorize a power of attorney or other legal documents involving assets.
  • Taking your senior’s social security number and using it to steal their identity
  • Getting romantically involved, even marrying your senior, and then exploiting their finances

Financial Abuse Prevention Strategies

Families can become aware of the warning signs of this type of abuse and, if not prevent it, stop someone from taking your senior’s financial future.

  • Look at bank records for unusual activity and charges from unknown credit cards. Contact the bank manager and let them know that you are suspicious and enlist help from the bank to secure your senior’s accounts.
  • Check your senior’s credit history for activity in which your senior did not participate — or been a willing participant.
  • Be wary of any new ‘best friends’ or frequent visitors who become overly involved in the personal business of your senior.
  • If your senior seems to be isolating him or herself from their usual routine, especially when that isolation is driven by a paid caregiver. This could be a red flag. Someone may be trying to keep improper activities secret.
  • Be observant of your senior’s belongings. Are there things in the home that appear to be missing?
  • You may want to lock up valuables that are not in use, such as family jewels, legal documents such as titles or property deeds and any large amounts of cash.
  • Have your senior’s pension and benefits checks direct deposited so that there are no paper checks to get in the wrong hands. Also have all their bank statements or bills sent electronically so that vital information cannot be stolen from their possession or even the mailbox.
  • You may also want to lock up in a safety deposit box their social security and Medicare cards, which show their social security number and therefore can be used to steal their identity.

Keeping your senior’s finances safe will help them achieve their aging goals of staying in their home as long as possible or being able to afford a residential care facility of their choice when the time comes.

Have you experienced any financial abuse or suspect it in your senior’s home situation? If you feel comfortable sharing, we would love to hear from you what happened and what actions you took!

AHA! The Moment You Realize You’re a Family Caregiver to an Aging Loved One

Life’s journey is paved with passages.

We go from childhood to adolescence, graduate from high school and then college, get married, have children, and then retire. Maybe we don’t all do these in the same order, but each stage in life brings challenges, opportunities, experiences, adventures and growth.

We usually can see one step in front of the other and know when the next life passage is coming toward us whether it is slow moving or rapid in its ascent!

Becoming a caregiver of a senior loved one is not always something that we see coming or can predict the exact time when it will be necessary. It can be a real AHA! moment when we realize that we are in fact a family caregiver.

When I was raising my children I knew that I was responsible for all things and charged with their safety and well-being. As a child myself, I have not yet been responsible for the well-being and safety of my parents.

My AHA! Moment

Recently I had a slight epiphany involving my place in my own family and how I had gradually taken on the responsibility and privilege of being a resource to my parents. We had been in this position years before with our grandparents to whom we felt a tremendous closeness despite the distance. We visited them often, communicated regularly, shared our children’s lives with them (their great-grandchildren) from a distance and actually moved closer to them to help and be there for them when the time came.

We cherished and never regretted the time we spent with them or the life changes we undertook to be available for them as they aged. We became family caregivers to them at the same time our children needed us and managed to get it all done somehow.

It is different now, these are my parents.

The other day I got a call early in the morning from my parents’ phone number which was very unusual and a bit disturbing as they continue to follow the old school way of thinking that early or late phone calls are not acceptable. This was my first clue that something was up!

My mother stated that she felt that she had a medical emergency and needed me to accompany her to the doctor since my father was busy with workmen in the house who were scheduled to arrive shortly. Naturally I got over to get her as quickly as possible and together we went to the urgent care center (everything turned out well). My mother is highly functional thank heavens with very few limitations so when she looked in my eyes and said will you come in with me, my brain went AHA! And so it begins.

I am so thrilled to be nearby and in a place where I can be there for them whenever they call as I was on this day. My entire purpose in being insistent that they make the permanent move towards me was so that I could be a nearby caregiver. I am the child who has a medical background, after all.

Your AHA! Moment

Many of us begin being a caregiver much earlier than we identify ourselves as such. It doesn’t take much activity to actually be a caregiver. It is not required that the family member live with you – or even anywhere near you – for you to be a caregiver.

Helping with the groceries, the cooking, the yard work, the bills, the housework or any decisions qualifies you as a family caregiver.

We need to recognize the part we all play in the lives of our family members. As our population ages, we will probably all be called upon to become caregivers to our seniors.

It is an honor and at times challenging especially when we are still caring for our own children or fulfilling the duties of employment. Balancing everything is not always easy.

We have many articles of information that you might like to review after you have an AHA! moment too that we hope will help in your journey. Here are a few, but we hope you’ll check out the topics at the top of the page or search our site for what you need.

Being a caregiver for a special senior in your life will be one of the greatest gifts you can give and bring you joy.

Have you had your AHA! moment yet?

Happy Birthday World Wide Web! Are Your Senior Loved Ones at the Party?

The World Wide Web is said to have been “born” in 1989, when Tim Berners-Lee worked to bring to life his concept of an information management system with a structure more like a spider’s web than was in use for the then-internet.

Thank you, Tim Berners-Lee!

While there is more than a generation of Americans who don’t know a time without the web, there are many of us who learned a way of doing things (or not) in a web-less time. I, for one, have many times thought about how different school and work would have been had the web been there earlier. I’m not just referring to that annoying modem connection sound that sometimes kept going and going.

Many older adults have yet to join the party, though that number is steadily declining.

Internet Changed – & Still Changing – Our Lives

An overwhelming majority of Americans’ lives have been changed by the internet (while the web and internet are not the same thing, we realize most people say “internet” when referring to the web) and most would say for the better. Just think about some of ways we do things differently now because we have the internet.

  • The way we communicate with one another has changed dramatically, with email having replaced postal (now called “snail”) mail for many communications. Some argue we have lost something by replacing some phone calls with email, but the internet has also made it possible to make phone calls, whether across town or around the world, without using the phone company. The internet has also allowed us to improve on the call itself, as Facetime, Skype and other applications bring us closer together with video calls.
  • Our work life has been changed forever, with more information available more quickly to perform our jobs; communications and information sharing tools bringing together distant coworkers in real time; and, more ways to share information and interact with current and potential customers. Of course, the internet has made it harder for many to leave work behind at the end of the workday because communications – and problems – can follow us readily around the clock.
  • Entertainment delivery has been revolutionized by the web. In the past we could watch what the broadcasters offered on our TV when they offered it, though we could record it for viewing later. Now we have the ability, via the web, not just to watch WHAT we want, WHEN we want it but to watch it WHERE and HOW we want, with the ability to stream to our computers and mobile devices. Who would have thought that the race to ever-bigger TV screens would be accompanied by huge growth in people watching on screens we hold in our hands?
  • Getting news and information about our community and the world around us is dramatically different as a result of the internet. No longer do we have to wait for a daily newspaper or scheduled broadcasts to learn what is happening, nor we have to limit ourselves to what those sources have to say about the news. On the other hand, sometimes we are overwhelmed with the information that’s available and struggle to decide which is fact, which is painted by opinion, and which is flat-out incorrect — sometimes intentionally so.
  • Managing our health and that of our loved ones is another aspect of our lives that has been revolutionized by the web — and we have only scratched the surface on the health benefits the internet can help us achieve. Sure there is a lot more information available to help understand (or misunderstand if we look to the wrong sources) our heath, but that’s just the beginning. The web, including social media sites, is also enabling us to share our experiences with others for support and education. While still in the early phases now, the internet will totally revolutionize the way we interact, share data and receive care from our healthcare providers and other caregivers.

These are just some of the many ways the web has already changed our lives forever — and innovators are continuing to find new ones.

Many Seniors Still Not on the Web

Seniors are increasingly connecting to and becoming active on the web, with 57% of seniors online in 2014 according to the latest survey from Pew Research Center. While improving, that is still far behind other age groups.

There are the same benefits for seniors of being on the internet as for other age groups, with seniors in some cases finding the internet enhances their lives even more. Older adults, as greater consumers of healthcare, have the greatest opportunity to see that care enhanced as innovation continues — but only if they are on the web.

At Senior Care Corner we see the internet and all it offers and will offer being a real asset to seniors who wish to live independently at home, as it will allow more to do so comfortably and safely longer than many seniors can do so today. We hope everyone will invite their senior loved ones to the party if they’re not there already — and help them get there, too!

Happy Birthday, World Wide Web – – and may you have many, many more!