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ElderCare Solutions of MI

Archive for 'Holiday Stress'

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone, Hanukkah is almost over, and Christmas and New Years are right around the corner!  The best part of any holiday celebration is visiting with family from out of town.  While it’s always fun for everyone to catch up with each other, all too often my phone rings the following week because  people get an unexpected surprise…their parents do not seem to be doing as well as they were last year, or as well as they seemed over the phone.  Changes can happen suddenly if someone has a fall or other serious illness, but most often changes happen very gradually, with cumulative effects that become more pronounced over time.  And while they may go unnoticed from week to week, if it’s been several months since your last visit, the difference can be very surprising.

But how do you know when your parents might need a little help?  Here are a few clues that you might see on your visit:

  1. Stacks of unopened mail
  2. Old, expired or moldy fruits, veggies, milk and yogurt in the fridge
  3. Unanswered messages on the answering machine
  4. Difficulty walking or precarious balance
  5. Fatigue and lethargy
  6. Confusion or forgetfulness
  7. Misplaced or lost items

The tricky part is knowing what to explain away and what to consider concerning.  Any one of these signs by itself  may not be worrisome, but if you’re seeing more than one, it may be time to talk with your parents and other family members about getting some support.  If you’re not sure,  meeting with a geriatric care manager can help you decide, and arm you with recommendations to put in place before you leave or have at the ready.  Although this may be a conversation you’re dreading, it’ll make getting on the plane to go home much easier.

Feeling thankful,

Lynn

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The holidays are a much anticipated time of year for most of us.  Whether you celebrate Passover or Easter, chances are you’ll be seeing family this time of year.  However, for some the holidays bring unexpected surprises if they live out of town and haven’t seen the older adults in their life for some time.

An older adult’s level of functioning can change significantly over the course of a few months, even more so if it’s been longer since you were last together.  Here are some potential red flags that might indicate more support is needed:

  • Stacks of unopened mail
  • A fridge full of old, expired or moldy fruits, veggies, milk and yogurt
  • Unanswered messages on the answering machine
  • An older adult seems to:
    • have more difficulty walking
    • have precarious balance
    • have less energy
    • tire easily
    • be confused or forgetful

It can feel overwhelming when you first realize that all is not well, but there’s no need to handle it on your own.  Their physician might be a resource, and a Geriatric Care Manager can help you identify and put in place local resources that will make it easier for you to board that plane for your return flight.

Happy Holidays,

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The holidays are a much anticipated time of year for most of us.  Seeing family and friends, exchanging presents etc. make it a very exciting time.  However, for some the holidays bring unexpected surprises if they live out of town and haven’t seen the older adults in their life for some time.

An older adult’s level of functioning can change significantly over the course of a few months, even more so if it’s been longer since you were last together.  Here are some potential red flags that might indicate more support is needed:

  • Stacks of unopened mail
  • A fridge full of old, expired or moldy fruits, veggies, milk and yogurt
  • Unanswered messages on the answering machine
  • An older adult seems to:
    • have more difficulty walking
    • have precarious balance
    • have less energy
    • tire easily
    • be confused or forgetful

It can feel overwhelming when you first realize that all is not well, but there’s no need to handle it on your own.  Their physician might be a resource, and a Geriatric Care Manager can help you identify and put in place local resources that will make it easier for you to board that plane for your return flight. 

Happy Holidays,

Lynn

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Mother’s Day is a time that brings families together. But sometimes those family gatherings can leave adult children with a heavy heart…especially if Mom or Dad isn’t doing as well as they once were.  Unfortunately we all decline as we age, some of us more drastically than others.  And it is sometimes difficult to know when it’s time to step in and offer some additional support. 

Signs that an older adult may need more assistance include:

  • Stacks of unopened mail
  • Very little fresh food in the fridge
  • Unanswered messages on the answering machine
  • An older adult’s  balance is precarious
  • They seem excessively tired
  • Signs of confusion or memory loss

Any of these signs by itself may not be concerning.  But if you’re seeing more than one it might be time to get a little help.  If you’re not sure, call us and let us help you find out.

Missing my own Mother,

Lynn

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A new year…a time for new beginnings and resolutions…anything seems possible!  It’s also a natural time to open conversations with the older adults in your life about planning for the future.  Are there any legal documents they need to put in place?  Do they need any additional assistance this year? 

As you make your New Year’s resolutions be sure to include ways to not only care for the older adults in your life, but to be sure you care for yourself as well.  In addition to all the old standbys like “Lose those extra 10 pounds”, you might also consider some of the following:

  • Be honest with yourself
  • Create resolutions that are realistic
  • Vow to make time for a little fun each week
  • Be sure you laugh, loudly and often
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • Be proactive whenever possible

None of us can escape the complexities of aging, whether we’re experiencing difficulties ourselves, or with someone that we love.  But the one thing we can control is how we react to those changes.  Are you being proactive or reactive?  Let’s all plan to age well and live well in 2012.    

 Ringing in the New Year,

 Lynn

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The holidays are a much anticipated time of year for most of us.  Seeing family and friends, exchanging presents etc. make it a very exciting time.  However, for some the holidays bring unexpected surprises if they live out of town and haven’t seen the older adults in their life for some time.

An older adult’s level of functioning can change significantly over the course of a few months, even more so if it’s been longer since you were last together.  Here are some potential red flags that might indicate more support is needed:

  • Stacks of unopened mail
  • A fridge full of old, expired or moldy fruits, veggies, milk and yogurt
  • Unanswered messages on the answering machine
  • An older adult seems to:
    • have more difficulty walking
    • have precarious balance
    • have less energy
    • tire easily
    • be confused or forgetful

It can feel overwhelming when you first realize that all is not well, but there’s no need to handle it on your own.  Their physician might be a resource, and a Geriatric Care Manager can help you identify and put in place local resources that will make it easier for you to board that plane for your return flight.

Happy Holidays,

Lynn

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Caregiver stress is a popular topic these days, and for many caregivers burnout is a very real factor this time of year.  I spoke with several people this week who are feeling that they can’t live up to what’s expected of them…that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to take care of their children, their jobs, their ailing parents, their holiday plans etc. 

In order to juggle caregiving responsibilities with all the other demands of daily life, time management strategies can be a life saver.  Try these techniques next time you’re feeling overwhelmed:

  •  Unplug from technology: Laptops and cell phone with Wi-Fi are great, but they make us available to any and all who need us 24/7.  Unless that’s part of your job responsibilities, it may be interfering with your ability to relax and enjoy whatever down time you have.
  • Make a list: It’s hard to relax when you’re carrying around a mental “To Do” list.  Before you go to bed each night, write down all the things you need to take care of the next day.  That way you can put them on paper, and let the weight of responsibility go for the night.
  • Mono-task instead of multi-task: Our brains can only focus well on one thing at a time.  Trying to do too much at one time can cause silly mistakes that take time to correct.
  • Start with the most dreaded task on your list: Avoiding an unpleasant task uses up a lot of emotional energy.  Attack them first thing instead of worrying about them all day.
  • Schedule time to recharge your batteries: Whether its 30 minutes with a cup of coffee and a good book, or 30 minutes at the gym, be sure you give yourself a little “me time” each day.
  • Delegate what you can: No one can go it alone.  Let your family, friends, and  co-workers help when possible.

 Starting a “To Do” list as we speak,

 Lynn

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 I can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving time again…I can almost taste the turkey and stuffing!  The best part of the holiday is visiting with family from out of town.  While it’s always fun for everyone to catch up with each other, all too often my phone rings the following week because  people get an unexpected surprise…their parents are not be doing as well as they seemed over the phone.  Changes happen over time.  And while they may go unnoticed from week to week, if it’s been several months since your last visit, the difference can be striking. 

How do you know when your parents might need a little help?  Here are a few clues that you might see on your visit:

  1. Stacks of unopened mail
  2. Old, expired or moldy fruits, veggies, milk and yogurt in the fridge
  3. Unanswered messages on the answering machine
  4. Difficulty walking or precarious balance 
  5. Fatigue and lethargy
  6. Confusion or forgetfulness
  7. Misplaced or lost items

 The tricky part is knowing what to explain away and what to consider concerning.  Any one of these signs by itself  may not be worrisome, but if you see a few, it may be time to talk with your parents and other family members about getting some support.  Although this may be a conversation you’re dreading, it’ll make getting on the plane to go home much easier.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Lynn

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It’s the 4th of July!  For many of us that means picnics, fireworks and family gatherings.  If you are traveling home for the holiday and it’s been a long time since you’ve seen mom or dad, you may notice some changes that haven’t been noticeable over the phone. 

That’s one of the reasons why holidays with our extended families can be so bittersweet.  Each year the children are taller and the older adults are a little frailer than the year before. 

 If you’re concerned that your parents might need a little help, here are a few things to look for:

  • Stacks of unopened mail
  • A fridge full of old, expired or moldy fruits, veggies, milk and yogurt.
  • Unanswered messages on the answering machine
  • More difficulty walking or precarious balance.
  • Parents seem to have less energy & tire easily, seem confused or forgetful

If you see a few of these signs, it may be time to talk to your parents about getting a little support.  If they are hesitant to do it for themselves, then have them do it for you, so you can leave town and go back home with peace of mind.

 Wishing you a happy 4th of July,

 Lynn

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I remember celebrating Mother’s Day when my children were young…all the hand print cards and lovely art projects! But as a member of the Sandwich Generation, this Mother’s Day involves not only enjoying whatever my husband and kids have planned for me, but also planning celebrations for my own mother. 

I am lucky that she lives nearby and is doing well.  But I was asked several times this week how to plan Mother’s Day celebrations for moms who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose the time of day carefully: Many people with Alzheimer’s experience Sundowner’s syndrome which means that they become less lucid later in the day and into the evening hours.  If this is true for your mom, brunch would be a better choice than dinner.
  • Plan activities for everyone: Singing songs from long ago is a favorite past time for many adults with dementia.  Pop in a cd and your mom might sing along!  Or, if you’ve got little ones who like to paint, have everyone participate.  People with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia often enjoy painting.  It’s like riding a bike…people never forget how.   It also allows them to tap into and use the creative side of their brain.
  • Join in her reality: Often times people with dementia can become agitated if they’re challenged, and that doesn’t create a warm, fuzzy, holiday feeling.  So if your mom thinks she just got back from Europe, instead of trying to tell her that was a long time ago, ask what she liked best about her trip. 
  • Use bright colors for decorations: Brighter colors are easier for older adults to see, so if you’re picking up flowers or balloons, choose bright, vibrant colors.

Most of all, remember the times she dried your tears, cooked your favorite dinner, and let your best friend sleep over.   Happy Mother’s Day!

Lynn

 

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  • Does an older adult's family live out of town?
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  • Is a senior living in an environment that needs aging-in-place modifications?

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ElderCare Solutions of Michigan is a division of Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit, a non-sectarian not-for-profit organization that has served the metro Detroit area for more than 80 years.