Honoring Veterans With Access to Benefits They Have Earned

We are reminded on Veterans Day to honor those who served us by serving in the United States Armed Forces.

We honor those men and women who served with parades, events, monuments, and by simply saying “thank you” when we see them – – and meaning it.

Veterans Day Parade, Savannah GA

There are many other, more personal ways, we can honor our own loved ones who are Veterans.

We want to discuss one way of honoring them you may not have considered, one which in many cases will provide them something that helps them live better for years to come.

Ensuring our senior loved one who are Veterans are aware of the benefits available to them through the Veterans Administration (VA) and utilizing them, if appropriate, both honors their service and helps them in their everyday lives.

Majority of Veterans Not Using VA Benefits

According to a recent report from the VA, less than half (48%) of all Veterans are using even one of the VA benefits or services available to them as of 2016. That, though, is an increase from 38% in 2007.

Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC

Only 21% of Veterans utilized multiple VA benefits and services in 2016.

When you consider there were more than 20 million Veterans in 2016, that means a lot of men and women are not taking advantage of the benefits available to them.

These statistics don’t even consider the many millions of surviving spouses and children of Veterans, who have served their nation and us in their own way. They are also entitled to certain benefits due to the service of their Veteran.

In the mini-podcast below, we discuss helping senior loved ones who are Veterans or otherwise entitled to VA benefits to understand and, if appropriate, seek the benefits available to them.

Click on the ▷ below to play the podcast (note: you can continue reading while you listen if you want)

[powerpress]

Additional Information from the Mini-Podcast

In the mini-podcast, we discuss statistics from the 2010 National Survey of Veterans. This is the most recent survey performed by the VA and can be found here if you are interested in learning more.

Also, we made several mentions of our conversation with Victoria Collier, an Elder Law attorney who joined us for a previous podcast, Conversation with an Elder Law Attorney – Insights for Family Caregivers.

 

We hope you find this information helpful, as it can be particularly gratifying when we assist senior loved ones in learning about benefits they might not be aware are available to them especially our brave veterans.

 

 




 

Insights on Service Dogs for Seniors on The Senior Care Corner® Podcast

Dogs are beloved pets to millions of families throughout the US, each day earning their “best friend” title.

Growing numbers of those dogs are being given “jobs” in addition to their traditional role.

In many seniors’ homes, specially-trained dogs are being asked to perform a variety of tasks including such things as fetching needed items from the bedroom or kitchen, providing alerts, and helping ensure seniors are able to find their way home.

Those are, of course, in addition to being trusted companions.

These “service dogs” are being increasingly sought by family caregivers who want to address specific concerns with aging in place senior loved ones.

Senior Care Corner® has been receiving a lot of inquiries about service dogs from seniors and family caregivers so decided to reach out for some expert insights to share with you.

Click on the ▷ below to play the podcast (note: you can continue reading while you listen if you want)

[powerpress]

Expert Insights from the American Kennel Club

Based on our research, we knew the American Kennel Club (AKC) had the expertise needed to educate us on service dogs and arranged a conversation with Mary Burch, PhD., who is Director of the AKC’s Family Dog Division.

Mary Burch, PhD. with Wyn

In our conversation with Mary, which we recorded for this podcast, she answered the questions we have received from many of you about service dogs, including these.

  • What are the different types of service dogs?
  • What benefits service dogs provide to older adults, especially those living independently?
  • Can existing pets be trained as service dogs?
  • Are some breeds more suited to service?
  • How can seniors and family caregivers choose the right dog?
  • What questions should be answered when determining how (and if) to meet a senior’s needs with a service dog?
  • Are there certification standards for service dogs or trainers?

… and more.

Mary was very generous with her time and did a great job of answering everything we threw at her, for which we are appreciative!

Still, we realize we could only scratch the surface in a conversation like this. In addition, the answer to many questions are specific to the situation of each senior and family. Mary provided us the links below for additional research and guidance.

Mary’s Suggested Links for More Information

 

We hope you enjoy this episode of the Senior Care Corner Podcast and find it as informative as we did.

This episode was designed based on your requests. Please let us know of other topics you would like us to cover or questions for which an expert answer would be helpful.

 

 




Inspiring Family Caregivers to Make a Difference, One Senior at a Time

Family caregivers often find themselves in need of inspiration when challenges of providing care seem overwhelming.

On good days, the caregiving road is smoothly paved with no bumps and we can move quickly, enjoying the path that we travel.

Some days this very same road is riddled with potholes that sprout up without warning, stalling our progress.

On too many days, the road contains nothing but obstacles that stop us in our tracks.

It is on these troubling days that family caregivers require some inspiration to get them back on smooth footing.

A Story of Inspiration

Reminders that family caregivers are doing not just the best that they can but fulfilling a promise to another human being that they will care for them lovingly.

Every day things may not go just right and you may question your actions and decisions. But these moments of trepidation should be fleeting so that you can move on and continue to give care.

Because caregivers may need a little more inspiration to forge ahead, here is a story you may find inspiring.

It was written by Loren Eiseley in 1969 as part of a 16 page essay entitled the Star Thrower. The original story describes the narrator walking along the beach early one morning in the predawn twilight, when he sees a man picking up a starfish off the sand and throwing it into the sea. The narrator is observant and subtle, but skeptical; he has seen many “collectors” on the beach, killing countless sea creatures for their shells.

It has been adapted by many over the proceeding years to what we most often hear.

Despite it’s origins, it fits today’s caregiving!

The Starfish Story

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking up and gently throwing things into the ocean.

Approaching the boy, he asked: “Young man, what are you doing?

The boy replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.

The man laughed to himself and said, “do you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make any difference.

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the surf, then smiling at the man, he said: “I made a difference to that one.

We really like this story and have heard from many caregivers is has meaning to them. That’s why The Shop at Senior Care Corner® includes gifts for family caregivers that were inspired by the Starfish Story.

Importance of Family Caregiving

Family caregivers are making real differences in the lives of their senior loved ones — just as you are.

Without you there to coordinate their healthcare, provide for their personal needs, maintain their safety, or perform countless other tasks large and small, they may have no choice but to move from their beloved home to a facility.

You are not just meeting their care needs, but also brightening their day and relieving their boredom, sometimes even preventing depression.

According to Pew Research, there are 40.4 million unpaid family caregivers. The 2015 Report of Family Caregivers from AARP found the average caregiver provides about 24 hours of care each week. This amount of caregiving would cost an estimated $470 billion in 2013 if you weren’t there according to Family Caregiver Alliance. These statistics show the value in time and money that caregivers provide for older adults.

It is vital that family caregivers care for themselves so that they can continue to be there for their seniors. You may not think you have time for yourself or that it is selfish to put yourself on the list, but your senior needs you.

Care recipients might not thank you regularly (or even at all), but you are making a difference in their lives, just as the boy on the beach was making a difference in the life of each starfish.

On those days when it seems nothing is going right or all the decisions you must make seem more than you can handle, remember the boy and the starfish — what you are doing is important!

You are the difference to your senior loved one!

Lifestyle Medicine for Prevention and Wellness – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Lifestyle medicine — are you familiar with it?

Is this something new? Is it something helpful for older adults and therefore should family caregivers encourage this intervention?

According to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, “Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based approach to preventing, treating and even reversing diseases by replacing unhealthy behaviors with positive ones — such as eating healthfully, being physically active, managing stress, avoiding risky substance abuse, adequate sleep and having a strong support system.”

The goal of lifestyle medicine is to put the person in the driver’s seat to control their own health by addressing the cause of disease instead of just the symptoms.

Avoiding the side effects of chronic disease treatment by preventing the disease in the first place is what lifestyle medicine tries to achieve. Lifestyle medicine can begin healing the body toward health.

Prevention is key.

Prevention Leads to Wellness

Most would agree that prevention is the better option than diagnosis and treatment. Researchers have found that changing our lifestyle by smoking cessation, healthy eating, and becoming physically active could prevent 80% of chronic disease.

Lifestyle medicine, when properly used, is said to to improve purposefulness, increase energy, and give you a positive outlook on life, according to physician’s who prescribe these interventions.

Lifestyle medicine interventions can impact:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Cognitive function
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Pain
  • Weight management
  • Telomeres

Recommendations from major scientific bodies, including the American Cancer Society, the Diabetes Prevention Program, the American Heart Association, and the national Cholesterol Education Program, focus on lifestyle improvements as a means for prevention.

Foundation of Lifestyle Medicine – Tips for Change

There are six key areas for improvements in our lifestyles that will improve our health at any age.

These are the areas caregivers and their senior loved ones should implement change for their health.

  1. Nutrition – eat a balance at each meal including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products. Meet the bodies’ need for nutrients by including a variety of foods, especially those the nutrients of concern, because they are often eaten in inadequate amounts such as fiber, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A,D, E, and C
  2. Physical Activity – move it or lose it, 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, choose something you enjoy so you will keep doing it
  3. Sleep – repair and heal our bodies during sleep which needs adequate time and sleep quality
  4. Tobacco Cessation – large cause of death, time to stop
  5. Stress Management – managing and recovering from stress
  6. Healthy Relationships/Socialization – connections impact our health

Experts now agree that genetics are not as important as a healthy lifestyle when improving our health.

Lifestyle medicine is simply lifestyle as medicine. It should be the first line of treatment where you work with healthcare professionals who help you make changes.

Continuing an unhealthy lifestyle will rob you of the life in your (and your senior loved one’s) years!

 




Seniors and Technology — Are They Ready for Each Other?

Are seniors and technology ready for each other?

Yes . . . and no.

We often hear that older adults just won’t warm up to and adopt technology and that the technology companies are not developing products and solutions to meet the needs of seniors.

Both statements are overly broad generalizations that ignore reality, like many stereotypes. They are also becoming further from the truth every day.

The statements do a great disservice to seniors and their family caregivers (tech companies will do fine without us defending them).

The question of seniors and technology is important for both, so we will address it in more depth.

Seniors are Individuals, Not a Homogeneous Group

I don’t like it when I hear or read “seniors won’t do” this or “seniors don’t want” that because it implies seniors are of like mind, with similar interests and needs. I know most people don’t realize that is true, but too many people in positions to meet the needs and solve the problems of older adults feel that way, or at least act as if they do.

There are more than 50 million ‘seniors’ in the US, ranging in age from 65 to over 100 years old. Among them are, according to Census Bureau numbers, more than 6 million people who are least 85 and more than 80,000 who are 100 or older.

Not only do they have a broad range of ages, each senior has needs, interests, living situations, problems, and more factors makes her or him unique.

As with other age groups and the population in general, older adults can be grouped into segments with similar characteristics, many shared with individuals in other age groups in addition to seniors.

Calling someone a senior, older adult, or whatever label and categorizing them based on that label treats them as an age, even if age has no real impact on what an individual is seeking to accomplish. For example, saying “she is a senior so she won’t use a smartphone” does both the senior and the person doing the categorizing a disservice.

We have seen more eyes opening to this in the last few years but there are many more to go.

Importance of Technology to Seniors

Regular followers of Senior Care Corner® know we discuss what we see as the growing importance of technology to older adults, including providing specific examples.

These are just a sample of the articles that Senior Care Corner has created to show the benefits of technology for seniors, some of what you will find if you search for ‘technology’ on our website.

The wishes of older adults and two realities are together driving the tremendous potential benefit for seniors from the adoption of technology, both current technology and that to come.

Seniors — and future seniors — are increasingly expressing a desire to age in place independently in the home of their choice rather than in a senior living facility or with family. When you combine that desire with the facts (1) more Americans are living to older ages that ever before and (2) there will be fewer and fewer younger people to care for the growing number of seniors, we NEED technology to fill the gaps.

We see technology doing more than filling the gaps, though, as we foresee innovations playing a big role in the ability of seniors to not just live longer, but for the longer lives to be healthier, safer, and filled with more enjoyment than was possible for prior generations.

Importance of Seniors to the Tech World

Right now, 1 in 5 adults (18 or older) in the US is a senior. That is projected to be 1 in 4 before 2030.

If you are a technology company — or in most other industries — ruling 25% of the adult population out of your target market simply because of a number that may have no impact on their need or desire for a product really makes no sense.

We have seen many reasons to be comfortable that seniors of all ages are ready, willing, able — and anxious — to try out and use technology innovations that will help make their lives better.

To be fair, at CES® and elsewhere we have seen much evidence of late that many in the tech industry get it, but not nearly all yet.

The understanding of seniors would be aided if there was more research that looked at age segments within the 65+ population rather than grouping this wide-ranging group into one 40+ year bucket.

This goes to the Consumer Technology Association itself. Some of the best research we have seen comes from this trade association for the consumer technology industry, but even their annual study on tech ownership and purchase intentions lumps all seniors with a lot of future seniors into a 55+ bucket.

Yes, there is more work to be done for the tech world.

Seniors & Technology ARE Ready for Each Other

We have seen many signs older adults and the tech industry are ready for each other, even if they don’t realize it or even think about it.

Despite still hearing some say seniors won’t even adopt smartphones, the foundation upon which much of the technology from which they will benefit will be built, we see and hear of those in their 80’s and even 90’s using smartphones and tablets regularly. It has become routine from many to text, video chat, read, take pictures, watch video, listen to music, and play games on these devices, just like their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

That is just the beginning of “ready.” These are but a handful of the reasons we go beyond that in saying seniors are ready for tech:

  • While many of all ages are currently both anxious for and wary of autonomous cars, seniors are in the age group with the most to gain from this technology when it is ready. When the independence mobility provides no longer depends on being able to drive oneself, a gap that currently holds back many older adults will be bridged.
  • Healthcare may be the industry most in need of the revolution technology will (yes, will) provide and seniors are the biggest customers of that industry. The ability to get much of the routine care they need in the comfort of home — without having to travel to a provider’s office and sit patiently in waiting rooms for 5 minute visits — will be most welcome.
  • The security of knowing (and family caregivers knowing) help is available quickly when it is needed without feeling open to privacy invading questions like “why didn’t you go to the bathroom this morning” or even “who was that spending the night with you” is something for which many aging in place seniors are ready.
  • While thankful for the assistance they receive from family caregivers, many seniors feel guilty their loved ones have to spend so much of their lives providing care. Technology that enables family members to fill their caregiving roles without dedicating so much of their lives to those roles will be appreciated by seniors.

And the technology companies? Whether they have considered it or not, much of the technology in the above list is/was not developed for older adults, but for the population in general. Well, in reality, much we have seen, at least until fairly recently, was developed with the needs of younger people in mind. Seniors still get the benefits, though, and that is what’s important.

Bringing Seniors and Technology Together

There is no big secret involved in bringing seniors and technology together. What’s needed?

  1. Develop technology products that provide meaningful benefits to older adults.
  2. Let seniors see those benefits for themselves.

The key word in both of those points is “benefits.” So often, especially in technology, what we hear discussed are the features.

Don’t tell us a device has low latency, interoperability, or Bluetooth low energy. Rather, that our data will be transferred to our healthcare provider instantaneously, that we can control your device with the same home equipment and smartphone app we already use, and we can maintain connection as we move around the house.

How do tech companies determine what benefits seniors need? They ask!

We have noted a growing number of companies including seniors in their development processes. It can’t be just for show, though, and should include seniors with a range of tech interest and aptitude, as is typically done with other age groups.

We were dismayed when we heard at one meeting that a tech company was including in their process a senior who seemed anti-technology. They didn’t say if other seniors were also included, but we hoped so, as we would hate to see products beneficial to many seniors left on the drawing board because they didn’t pass this one tech skeptic’s filter.

Don’t Overlook the Roles of Family Caregivers

As technology companies are considering their approach to seniors, they are shortchanging themselves — and seniors — if they don’t consider the roles of family caregivers in the process.

While the roles vary with different seniors and family caregivers, in many cases the family members are involved in the selection or even purchase of technology. For many seniors they may have a good feel, based on experience, what their senior loved one will adopt and what would simply go in a drawer, unused.

Family caregivers are often “tech support” for seniors, even if located a distance away, so they want to be comfortable with any technology they recommended or purchase for their loved one.

As family caregivers, we will do whatever we can to help our seniors enjoy lives that are more healthy, safe, and happy.

Bringing seniors and technology together will help us do that.

 

 




Decluttering Your Senior’s Past from Their Home for the Future

Is it time to declutter?

Is the stuff that has been stored over the years in the way? Has a move to a more manageable location or just a need to ease the future finally mean something that must be done?

Older adults used to pare down their belongings when they did the spring cleaning each year, but many have stopped the practice of cleaning out and removing excess possessions.

Of course those of all ages are holding onto belongings longer, which is a big driver of the boom in storage facilities.

Does your senior loved one’s house have many years of stuff stored in the closet, basement, and any other spaces — what might be called clutter?

What is Clutter?

Clutter is defined as an accumulation of items that interfere with your daily life and usually have no inherent value, at least not now.

Would you want to be put in the position of being the one that decides what to do with the accumulation — what will go, get donated, or save for someone in the family?

Having clutter can be emotionally stressful for both older adults and their family caregivers. The stress can result in physical and emotional impacts for all involved.

Reducing the stuff can give you all a feeling of accomplishment, clear some pathways to make the home safer, and may even earn some money.

Relieving a Family Burden

Have you heard of ‘Death Cleaning’? It originated in Scandinavia and is the practice of decluttering, the goal of which is to relieve the pressure on the family in the future.

It is a culture that shifts the burden from children to the person who owns the stuff.

Would your senior loved one want you to spend hours sorting through their things instead of spending time with your own family or away from your job?

Expert Margareta Magnusson, who wrote The Gentle Are of Swedish Death Cleaning, says we should begin by talking about all the belongings with the immediate family.

Who in the family is interested in certain items, what memories do family caregivers have about the items, or what might items be worth if sold?

Talking about their possessions may help make it easier to downsize. Realizing that their memories are not contained in their belongings but are in their heart and soul may give seniors the push they need to clear out the clutter.

Advice from Professional Organizers

Your older adult has decided to do start downsizing, now what?

Where do you begin?

Here are some steps that experts advise to get you going:

  1. Don’t try to do the entire home at one time. Attack each room separately. Don’t move on until that room is completed.
  2. Take baby steps. Begin with the easy stuff like tossing old mail, warranties on products you no longer own or old magazines you never got around to reading. Then move on to things you haven’t used in the past year. Eventually you will decide on things that you have forgotten you stilled owned.
  3. Motivate you and your senior by setting achievable goals such as removing a garbage bag a week or filling a donation box each week. That will help you both focus on moving forward.
  4. Gather the tools that will make the job easier. Get some clean boxes, heavy duty garbage bags, permanent markers and labels, file folders and organizer bins to put things that you will keep neatly in their place. Important things you both decide to keep should be easy to access in the future when they may be needed.
  5. Devote time to the task. The entire house won’t be decluttered in a few minutes here and there because it is too easy to undo the progress. It will take hours of work (not all at one time) to declutter many years of collected treasures. Schedule the time to do it together if need be so that real progress can be achieved.
  6. Don’t overlook the bathroom where old lotions, shampoos, cosmetics, ointments, first aid supplies and expired medications are lurking. It isn’t safe to keep these things on the shelf and in the closet so it is best to dispose of them now.

Electronic Footprint

The same techniques can be used for their electronic life in the desktop computer, tablet or smartphone.

Are they holding on to emails for years?

Is your senior’s inbox filled with junk mail or old jokes mixed with important things like family photos?

This is also a good time to be sure all the passwords are up to date and discoverable by the people who need them such as executors or power of attorney designee. This can also help you determine if the proper security measures are in place so that no one can access important personal information when it may be too late to recover it.

Safe Disposal of Unwanted Belongings

Recycling as much as we possibly can to reduce the landfill and protect our planet is important to most of us.

Recycling is fairly easy to do in most municipalities. Unwanted items such as newspapers; print such as old telephone books, magazines and catalogs; plastic products, and metals such as aluminum and tin can all be recycled safely and reused in new ways.

You can donate belongings that can be re-purposed and used in unconventional ways by others who will see beauty in your trash. Thrift stores that benefit community agencies doing good work in your area are great places to donate your treasures.

When disposing of old electronics such as computers and mobile devices, be sure to wipe them clean internally. This is vital to removing old passwords and personal information. There are methods to erase the hard drive, but the most secure practice is to remove the hard drive altogether and destroy it.

Electronics like TVs need to be taken to a special recycling site due to the components which could be hazardous to the land and need to be disposed of carefully. Most cities will not allow TVs to be placed with the regular trash.

Batteries, liquid solvents and oil can also impact the environment so need to be disposed of carefully. Expired and unwanted medications are another thing that need special handling when you dispose of them. You can return in most large pharmacies in the take back boxes.

There are some items that should be donated to others in need such as old eyeglasses and hearing aids. There are many service organizations who will help get these items to people in need. Libraries and schools may be thrilled to get gently used books or try to sell them at a local used bookstore.

Don’t forget that there are many organizations that can use your donations including Habitat for Humanity. Many groups also take used vehicles.

The hardest part of decluttering is getting started. Once you get into it and begin to lessen the load, you and your senior will be invigorated to complete the task.

You might be surprised at what you will uncover!

 




Playing Games Together for Fun and Mental Exercise

Who doesn’t love to play a game?

It has been shown that people who experience memory loss can stimulate and engage their brain by playing games.

The games can be many, varied, and either high tech or low tech. As long as the senior enjoys playing them and is fully engaged, game playing will stimulate their brains health through participation.

Playing different types of games that require different skills will mean that the game should change with each stage of dementia. As the disease progresses, the game should as well so that they are able to participate without frustration. Becoming frustrated or angry about following rules or remembering strategy isn’t healthy, helpful, or fun.

Games that you play with your senior with dementia should be failure free. You don’t have to play by the rules or play a full game at one time. No one has to win or lose. It should just be fun. Perhaps they can choose from a few games you have on hand.

Benefits of Game Playing

Seniors and their family caregivers can all find benefits in a simple (or even more complex) game.

Playing games shouldn’t just be for kids. In fact, 25% of video gamers are over 50 years old.

There are physical, cognitive and emotional benefits that can be elicited through game playing.

  • Game playing stimulates cognition in people with memory loss, helps to stimulate memories, and builds processing skills. Recognizing numbers, shapes, or colors is stimulating for our brains.
  • Being physical, even when sitting in a chair to play games such as Wii bowling, ball games, or throwing darts, is good for aging bodies.
  • Playing together with people in the family, friends, peers, or kids increases socialization. This can limit loneliness and push depression away.
  • Connecting with others can give a senior purpose, especially if it is scheduled regularly.
  • Laughing, a really good belly laugh, makes the brain, body, and soul feel good.
  • Remembering playing specific games when they were younger or feeling like a winner when a game challenge is overcome is joyous. It can increase the mood and prevent depression and isolation.
  • One research study found that playing brain stimulating games may reduce the number of amyloid plaques in the brain.
  • Hand-eye coordination is improved when rolling dice and moving playing pieces across a game board
  • Video exergames like Wii Fit were shown to improve balance

Types of Games for Memory and Enjoyment

Whatever game you and, especially, your senior loved one enjoy playing and are capable of doing without frustration is the one you should play. Perhaps there are several that you can rotate through to use different memory skills.

Here are a few examples of games that seniors will love:

Card games – more difficult skill level such as Bridge, Gin Rummy, Cribbage, or Hearts all the way to less complicated games like Uno, Old Maid, Solitaire, Go Fish, or Crazy Eights can be fun and stimulating depending on the skill level of all the involved participants; you may find that large print cards work better for your senior loved one

Board games – more difficult games of strategy for those in the early stages of dementia include Chess, Clue, Backgammon, Scrabble, Risk, Mah Jong, Yahtzee, or Trivial Pursuit; less difficult games for later stages and skill include Checkers, Candy Land, Trouble, Connect Four, Don’t Wake Daddy, or Kerplunk

Memory games – games where you must match pairs of like cards in any form or style, shape buddies, or word games such as Name 5, crosswords, Suduko, word search, jumble, PicLink, I Spy

Video or Computer Games – Smart Brain, Brain Age, Words with Friends, Sea Quest, Candy Crush, Tetris, Wordscapes, WordSearch, Magic Puzzle

Building games – Lincoln Logs, Jenga, Blocks, Block Buddies, Legos, Qwirkle, Jigsaw Puzzles, simple nuts/bolts or folding laundry, playdough, manipulatives like Tangram and Tangle games

Fun games – Bingo, Dominoes, Charades, Pictionary

Creative activities – arts and crafts, painting with acrylics or watercolors, finger painting, coloring with pencils or markers, free drawing, knitting, crocheting, ceramics

Sensory stimulation – touching objects, odor recognition, listening to and identifying sounds, Name that Tune

Movement games – exergames using video platform like dance party or Wii sports, darts, badminton, bowling, skee ball, ring toss, horseshoes, parachute, volleyball, bean bag toss, blowing bubbles, musical chairs, Bocce

Exercise – Tai Chi, yoga, calisthenics, jogging, walking, swimming, hiking, golfing, tennis, gardening, table tennis

Technology and Games

Low tech game activities will give all the benefits as described, but so will games that use available technology.

Family caregivers can set their senior loved one up with a tablet or smartphone to play some of these games. There are numerous apps that are free to play games such as puzzle building, crosswords, sequencing, cards, etc. Playing games on apps is a great way to entertain while you stimulate memory as well as pass the time.

Video game systems can be set up to play against others of your choice, such grandchildren who live in another location, state or even country! Playing against someone known to them from the comfort of their own living room could be the motivator needed to stay engaged.

Connecting on a tablet or smartphone to play games such as Words with Friends with family members is another way to encourage and motivate participation. Challenge them!

You can also play games with a senior on Facetime or Skype. Connecting on the tablet or computer with a grandchild and playing their favorite board game is entertaining for all. Either the child or the senior can have the actual game and move the pieces.

Remember, the purpose of the game is engagement and brain stimulation, not who wins or if the rules are being followed to the letter.

Improving quality of life for the person with dementia is the WIN — one that comes with bonuses for all who play!

 

If you want some game and activity ideas, you might want to check out that section of The Shop at Senior Care Corner.

Words of Comfort for Family Caregivers of Loved Ones with Dementia

For many family caregivers of seniors with dementia, progressing with the disease through the years can bring change and sadness.

It is also common for caregivers to subject themselves to a lot of self-questioning, of which these are a few:

Where is the person you once knew?

Are you doing all that you can, all that they desire you to do?

Where do they go in their mind during their silence?

Are they remembering the good times in their life?

Is their life filled with contentment?

No one can really answer these questions for family caregivers especially as the disease of dementia progresses to its final stages.

You have been caring for them and their degenerative disease of memory loss for many years and wonder why them?

A Poem for Dementia Caregivers

We found this poem and felt it might help caregivers of seniors with dementia remember that their loved one is still with them.

They are still in need of your love, caring, and devotion even — or maybe especially — when they can’t ask for it or thank you.

We hope you find inspiration and peace in these words…

 

10 Requests from an Alzheimer’s Patient

Please be patient with me.
I am the helpless victim of a brain disease.

Talk to me.
Even though I cannot always answer.

Be kind to me.
Each day of my life is a desperate struggle.

Consider my feelings.
They are still very much alive within me.

Treat me with dignity and respect.
As I would have gladly treated you.

Remember my past.
For I was once a healthy vibrant person.

Remember my present.
For I am still living.

Remember my future.
Though it may seem bleak to you.

Pray for me.
For I am a person who lingers in the mists of time and eternity.

Love me.
And the gifts of love you give will be a blessing forever…..

~Anonymous

Importance of Dementia Caregivers

Everyday you are special to the person with dementia for and about whom you care.

You are making a difference in their life, even if they can’t express it.

Remember always that you are where you need to be at a time most necessary to them.

You will never regret what you do today for your senior loved one with dementia.

Thank you for your perseverance and dedication!

 

Invitation to — The Shop at Senior Care Corner®

Time is the currency in shortest supply for many family caregivers of older adults.

Finding the answer to “what do I do when…” is often a challenge as well.

Helping solve both of those challenges for family caregivers is a big part of what drove us to create Senior Care Corner® — and what motivates us to put in all the work to keep it going.

Being an even bigger part of the solution has driven us to develop The Shop at Senior Care Corner®, to help caregivers and other family members of seniors answer even more questions, including:

  • What can I read to get more in depth information about caring for my senior loved one?
  • How do I help modify their home to enable them to achieve their goal of aging in place successfully?
  • What can I do to better care for my own needs while I am caring for my senior loved one and the rest of my family?
  • How do I show appreciation for the family members and professional helpers caring for my senior loved ones and what I can give them to make their work a little easier?

The Shop at Senior Care Corner

Knowing how tough family caregivers can find it to shop, we are intentionally keeping the selection at The Shop at Senior Care Corner to a manageable level, helping you avoid the time and confusion associated with going through the thousands (or millions) of items found at many retailers.

We also know security and privacy are huge concerns and designed the Store so you actually make your purchases, arrange for shipping, and have the protection of return policies at major retailers — Amazon.com in most cases. We never see your personal info, payment method, or what you bought.

The Shop at Senior Care Corner is initially “stocked” based on our own experiences and what we hear from other family caregivers.

Our departments include:

  • Books for Caregivers — Selection of books to help inform caregivers, providing information regarding what senior loved ones are experiencing and guidance in meeting their needs
  • Technology — Devices and solutions covering a variety of areas and needs for seniors and their family caregivers
  • Home Safety — Solutions caregivers can use to help make the homes of senior loved ones safer for successful aging in place
  • Healthcare Devices — Home health devices to help make aging in place healthier for senior loved ones
  • Home Adaptive Aids — Equipment and solutions to help make a house not quite designed for older adults a home for aging in place
  • Smart Home Tech — Digital devices to help make aging in place more convenient (and maybe more fun) for senior loved ones
  • Activities — Things seniors and family caregivers can do together
  • Computing — Home computing equipment and accessories such as printers, keyboards, monitors, and more

A Work in Progress

The Shop at Senior Care Corner currently features items we have chosen, but we realize family caregivers – and the seniors for whom they care – have a wide variety of needs, beyond what we have in the Store now.

Please let us know how we can improve the Store to better meet your needs.

Should we add departments? We have some additions in mind but would like to hear what you have to say.

Are there products you would like to see us add to the current departments?

We look forward to your comments. In the meantime . . .

Happy Shopping!