Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Help Your Senior Enjoy Gardening Safely This Spring

Gardening is a terrific way for your senior to relax and get some exercise. If your elderly parent has a green thumb, they’re one of more than 78 million people who enjoy the pastime, according to the National Gardening Association. According to those who work in senior care, activities such as gardening are soothing, yet they also help an elderly individual to feel productive and inspired. But before you get out and get planting with your loved one, make sure to use these tips to protect their physical well-being as they go:

  • Invest in the right tools: If the gardening tools are too short, your senior will have to hunch over and may suffer a back injury as a result. Make sure all items used in the garden are the proper length. Long-handled or curved-handled tools are also easier for senior hands to use. 
  • Drink plenty of water: Since gardening is a pastime enjoyed during the warmer months, it’s important to be aware of dehydration risks. Encourage your elderly parent to drink plenty of water as they get to work. Also advise them to avoid being out between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., as these are the hottest parts of the day. 
  • Wear lightweight clothing: Shade the body from direct sunlight by wearing a light long-sleeved shirt, linen pants, a big hat, eye protection, and gardening gloves. Remind your elderly loved one to regularly apply sunscreen, particularly if they are sweating. 
  • Bring out a stool or chair: Gardening requires a lot of hunching over and stooping, which can take a toll on an older person’s back after a few hours. To prevent injury, bring out a stool, chair, or bench. This allows your loved one to get to work, without suffering the consequences the next day.
  • Paint tools a bright color: To make it easy to quickly spot gardening tools, paint handles a bright color. This prevents frustration about lost tools and allows your senior to avoid tripping on them, as the brown handles blend in with the dirt. 

Elder care professionals encourage seniors and their families to spend time developing a garden. Regardless of how big or small, the experience is a positive and exciting way to spend time together while enjoying fresh air and sunshine. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Caregiver Communication Tips for Seniors with Dementia

Communicating with and caring for a loved one with dementia can prove difficult; the disease erodes a person’s rational thinking abilities. They may have severe mood swings and trouble interacting with others, not to mention debilitating memory problems. As a result, the lengthy conversations you once enjoyed will need to change and evolve. In order to communicate successfully with an elderly parent who has dementia, consider the following tips:

State your message clearly

Elder care professionals explain that those with Alzheimer’s can quickly become confused by wordy or convoluted messages. As a result, they may become overwhelmed and start to get upset. To prevent this from happening, make sure to get to the point quickly. Use simple words and sentences, and speak slowly and distinctly. Always use a reassuring tone, and never raise your voice. 

If a question is posed and the senior doesn’t understand, use the same wording to repeat the question. Avoid speaking in a louder or higher voice. If there is still confusion, wait a brief moment and repeat the question, rephrasing it as you go. Instead of using pronouns like “he” or “she,” make sure to use names of people to prevent confusion. Say, “That’s what Sue told me” instead of “That’s what she told me,” even if “she” feels more natural in the sentence.

Make it a positive interaction

Tone of voice and body language can quickly convey emotion whether you realize it or not. Make sure that you are turning your interactions into positive ones by speaking in a pleasant manner and conveying this kind of body language too. Use a soft tone of voice and a happy facial expression to further signify that you are showing affection toward the individual. Take care not to use too much physical touch too suddenly, as this can startle the senior or cause them to get agitated. 

Break tasks down into smaller chunks

Presenting your elderly loved one with three or four different steps can quickly overwhelm them, causing them to get upset. Instead, break these tasks into more manageable chunks. Start with step one, and then move onto step two. You may need to remind them what they’re supposed to be doing along the way.

While it can be sad and frustrating to see an elderly loved one struggle with dementia, knowing how to communicate with this person can keep your relationship strong, even as their mind changes. Instead of focusing on the challenges, turn your attention toward the positive, happy moments that occur during the day. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Online Alzheimer’s Resources You Should Know About

Caring for an elderly loved one with Alzheimer’s is no easy feat, particularly when a person is trying to juggle work responsibilities, young children, and other aspects of their life. For this reason, dementia care professionals encourage families dealing with Alzheimer’s to utilize the multitude of online resources available today for support and education. Some of these tools include:


According to those who work in elder care, Chapel Hill families can use this online resource to help them find a variety of different kinds of assistance for their seniors. Narrow the search down by location, as well as by the kind of care that is needed. Additionally, the site helps put families in touch with other necessary professionals, like those who specialize in elder abuse prevention and home repair and modifications.


For adult children who are trying to shoulder the burden of caregiving, this site can be a welcome place to visit online. It offers a range of resources and tools that a person who cares for an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s can use, including links to support groups, tips for caregivers, and agencies and organizations that may be of use. 


This group provides resources, important research information, and other materials that caregivers can draw upon. It even hosts a conference each year. This year’s conference is called “Aging in America: 2014 Annual Conference of the American Society on Aging.” Through information and understanding, the group helps to lighten an adult child’s burden.


The Ethnic Elders Care Network is specifically targeted at caregivers to ethnic elderly individuals. The organization focuses on promoting research findings, prevention, and treatment methods of Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders. They also want to offer educational materials, support and assistance to ethnic minority elderly patients, as well as their families and caregivers.

Tackling caregiving duties can become overwhelming, making support an essential part of daily life. Whether this is in the form of an in-person support group or valuable educational tools available online, these materials can make a major difference in the life of a caregiver. 


Monday, April 7, 2014

How to Approach Legal and Financial Planning For Your Senior

As your senior ages, it’s important to get their financial and legal affairs in order, allowing you to execute their wishes exactly as they’d like when they’re not around anymore. While it’s not always easy to bring up conversations about things like wills and living trusts, these talks are important to have so that all family members are on the same page. A few major issues to touch on include:

Living will or a health care directive

This is a written statement that specifies your senior’s health wishes in the event that they become incapacitated or terminally ill. When planning for the future, it’s necessary to file this sort of document, as well as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPOAHC), which names one person as that senior’s health care agent. This tasks this family member or friend with making health-related decisions for the elderly individual if they can’t do so on their own. 

Wills and living trusts

A will is a legally recognized document that specifies how a person’s property should be divided up when they die. It also states the will’s executor, who makes sure that division of property happens according to the specifications in the will. Wills can cover anything from family heirlooms to property, jewelry, or even pets. Senior care professionals advise families to have their elderly loved one update their will regularly, to ensure that everything in the document is done to their liking. 

In order to create a living trust, some or all of that elderly individual’s assets are moved to the trust, and the person then specifies a family member or friend to take over the trust when they die or become incapacitated. The trust can operate even after that elderly individual has passed away.

Guardianships

Elder care professionals explain that a guardianship becomes necessary if your senior has diminished capabilities and can no longer manage their own affairs. A guardian helps to take care of medical and financial needs, ensuring that the elderly individual receives proper care. To begin a guardianship, a concerned family member or friend should consult with an attorney, who may suggest having the senior undergo an exam done by a doctor.

Even if your elderly parent is healthy and strong now, it’s important to take care of this kind of planning for the future. Doing so allows you to execute your loved one’s wishes exactly as they’d like, and verifies that all family members are on the same page. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How to Know When It’s Time to Intervene in Aging Parents’ Lives

It’s important to respect your senior’s desire for privacy and independence, but sometimes it simply becomes necessary to step in and help out. Adult children often feel conflicted about how much space they should grant their elderly parent, and struggle to know when it’s appropriate to intervene. While there’s no cut and dry answer, use these guidelines to help decide when your assistance is necessary:

Are they going to hurt themselves or others?

You don’t need to step in when it comes to picking out curtains for their home or choosing what they eat for dinner, but if the situation becomes more dire and they could harm themselves or others, it’s time to get involved. If, for instance, your senior is still driving and it’s clear that their vision is very poor, it’s time to say something. If your elderly loved one is unable to take their medication properly, it’s necessary to intervene and talk about elder care services. Pick your battles, but know that if the issue could seriously impact senior health, it’s time to get involved.

How to step in

Once you’ve recognized that it’s time to intervene, broaching the subject can feel like a challenge. You want to assist, but don’t want your senior to get indignant or upset. There are a number of different ways to offer your opinion without causing offense, for instance:

  • Bring up a friend’s example: If you believe your elderly loved one could benefit from elder care services, talk about a friend or neighbor who has enjoyed this kind of help in the past. When they realize that they’re not alone and that senior care is normal, they may become less resistant to the idea.
  • Listen: If your elderly parent feels as if you’ve quickly discredited their opinions, they may get defensive and angry. During a conversation, it’s important to listen closely to what they have to say, and to take these points seriously. From there, you can address each point and explain your point of view. Quickly telling them why they’re wrong will cause the discussion to go poorly.

When having a serious conversation with your senior, understand that they value their independence and decision-making abilities. Respect this need and desire, and be careful to enter into a discussion between two adults instead of a lecture.