The 5 Easiest Ways You Can Help Your Loved One Stay Safe In The Bathroom

The 5 Easiest Ways You Can Help Your Loved One Stay Safe In The Bathroom

Family caregivers have to go through a lot – giving care to a loved one can be frustrating, difficult, and heartbreaking. And that’s just normal, day-to-day life – things can become harder when a catastrophe happens, like a sudden fall or other critical, life-threatening injury.

Because of this, even family caregivers who live with their loved ones should be taking steps to help the one they’re caring for stay safe and avoid injury – especially in the bathroom.

The bathroom is the #1 place where elderly people fall – clocking in at 35.6% of all nonfatal falls in the elderly. Because of this, it should be one of your first priorities when it comes to the safety and security of the loved one you’re caring for.

We’ve put together a list of 5 of the easiest ways you can help secure the bathroom for your loved one, and help mitigate the risk of a disastrous fall. Check them out below.

 

1. Install Grab Bars

Grab bars are one of the simplest and least invasive precautionary measures you can install in your bathroom – and they’re quite inexpensive. These bars allow your loved one to have a solid surface to hold and grab, whether they’re just looking to keep their balance, or attempting to prevent a nasty fall.

Typically made of stainless steel or another high quality, sturdy material with a grippable synthetic or rubberized surface, grab bars are absolutely essential – and not just in the shower.

A greater majority of falls in the bathroom occur on the toilet – not the shower. Because of this, grab bars should be installed both in the shower, and near the toilet, where they can offer aid to your loved one when they’re attempting to sit down on the toilet, or stabilize themselves when getting up.

2. Prevent Slips – And Remove Trippable Rugs

Slipping is another huge cause of falls in the bathroom – a tiled surface with water or a shower without some kind of rubberized mat can be a huge risk to an elderly person who lacks balance or strength. Any surface that’s a risk should have a rubberized mat installed, with proper steps taken to ensure that the mat will not slip itself, and can drain water and other fluids away easily while maintaining a grippable surface.

Making sure that all rugs, mats, and non-slip surfaces are secured is incredibly important, as unsecured rugs and mats are another huge cause of falls. Think about it – your loved one will never assume that these items are out of place, so even the slightest movement or upturned corner could be enough to trip them up.

Remove dangerous rugs and mats, then replace them with secured rubberized mats that are non-slip, and won’t move around or turn up at the corners.

3. Pay Attention To The Toilet

As mentioned above, toilets pose an even greater risk than showers when it comes to accidental falls – this is due to the fact that they are used more often, and usually not perceived as risky – whereas most elderly people know that showers are slippery and could pose problems, and thus are alert, the toilet is viewed as an everyday necessity that’s not as dangerous, which can put them off their guard and cause accidents.

Besides grab bars, consider other safety equipment for toilets – items like raised toilet seats can be very helpful, as they integrate side-grip bars with a high-profile design that minimizes the time that the elderly spend trying to balance and sit on the seat.

Toilet safety rails can also be considered if the design of a bathroom precludes grab bars – these devices consist of two large, sturdy safety rails anchored to the side of the toilet, and allow for increased stability when attempting to stand up from a seated position.

4. Take A Second Look At The Shower

Once you’ve put in grab bars and non-slip mats, you may think the shower is totally safe, but you’re not quite there yet.

Exertion can be a problem when it comes to showering – the elderly are more likely to tire out physically, which can be an issue when combined with hot temperatures that their bodies are less suited to mitigate. Because of this, it’s recommended that further safety precautions be taken, beyond mats and bars.

Reorganizing the shower can be important – everything that your loved one needs during a shower should be accessible without moving or reaching – this can lead to catastrophe, even with grab bars and mats.

A shower stool may also be a good investment – combined with grab bars, it is rather simple to sit down and get up on these non-slip stools as necessary, adding safety and autonomy to the shower experience.

Another problem can be getting in and out of the shower – the steps necessary and the awkward balance required to swing a leg out of a bathtub or high shower can be extremely dangerous. To help mitigate this risk, shower steps can be used – these non-slip devices allow a higher step profile, and allow the user to descend more gradually.

If even that is too much of a risk, you may consider a walk-in tub or shower – while expensive, these specialized designs are very friendly to the elderly, allowing easy entrance and exits.

5. Improve Visibility

This is often overlooked – but the elderly tend to use the bathroom more, and tend to wake up multiple times at night to urinate.

This can be extremely dangerous, depending on the lighting conditions in your specific home, but these risks can be mitigated somewhat by night lighting running from the bedroom to the bathroom, or even motion-sensitive lighting in the bathroom.

Even the most alert elderly person may trip or fall if they can’t see what they’re walking on, so it’s essential that this risk is mitigated, especially in the already-dangerous bathroom.

Mitigate Risks, Maximize Safety and Autonomy

It may be embarrassing to discuss the details of bathroom safety needs with your loved ones, or the ones who you’re giving care to, but it’s absolutely essential. Even just one fall can lead to poor health outcomes and long recovery times, so catching these problem areas before an accident is absolutely essential.

Don’t delay. Take a deep look at the bathroom, figure out what steps need to be taken, and ensure the safety of your loved one, and help them regain more control and autonomy.


Jessica Hegg

 

Let’s Stay Connected

Let’s Stay Connected

Our lives are so busy these days; we’re cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, planning parties, and working. Not to mention all the time we are spending at the gym. With our fast pace lives, this leaves little time for family.

How many times have we seen someone that we haven’t seen in awhile? We want to keep in touch with everyone, but work and life get in the way of quality time, especially if you’re busy taking care of others or being taken care of. I personally have a mother who I care for and though we see a lot of each other, it’s still hard for us to get out and see the rest of our family.

While this is a struggle for us, there are some ways we keep in touch that I wanted to share with you.

Technology

One of the biggest ways we stay connected is through technology. Between messaging, video chatting, email, social media, etc, we don’t miss a thing. With so many types of devices these days, we have a wide selection to choose from. Devices and apps such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime, and of course our Nucleus, a home intercom system that makes it easy for us to stay on the same page. A lot of my siblings have Nucleus units in their homes as well and we love to connect that way. All they have to do is tap on mom’s picture and they can check in on her even though she’s miles away. This means she can chat with them without asking me, “how do I work this thing?”

Phone time

Since video chatting can often be a lot for my mom, so she likes to stick to phone calls instead. To help her out, I’ve put all the numbers she needs on speed dial so she is able to call our family on her own whenever she wants. To help your family in care to have something to look forward to, I think setting up weekly phone dates with a loved one is a great idea! That way it gives them something to look forward to and it helps keep constant communication.

Bring Back Family Dinner

Don’t you miss the days where your family sat down every day at 6:30 to a homemade meal? Since it’s hard to get family in town all together, we’re able to get together with one another thanks to technology. Every month or so we like to video chat everyone in for dinnertime. We all actually have a Nucleus intercom system in our kitchens so we’ll video chat once in awhile. That way we can enjoy a meal and each other’s company just like the old days. Our family can be together no matter where we are, sharing successes, telling stories, and laughing. To make it feel like we’re all really together, sometimes we even make the same meals!

Planning Scheduled Visits

While I know finding time in our busy days can be tough, in person visits are always the best way to stay connected with a loved one in care. I know that when my family comes to visit in person is when my mom feels most connected. While we don’t get to do this often, in person visits are always uplifting.

These are just a few examples of how to stay connected to family. While it may take a little extra effort to stay connected, we all are so happy to resort to these small changes. What ways do you keep in touch?


nucleus logothe Nucleus Team

Nucleus is a wireless home intercom system is up and coming in the smart home community. With two or more devices you can see into any room or a family member’s home with just a click of a button. Alexa enabled, this private and secure device helps families stay connected. To learn more, check out nucleuslife.com.

Spousal caregiver scammed as she struggles to pay bills

Spousal caregiver scammed as she struggles to pay bills

Florida woman experiences the ultimate heartbreak after she tries to sell her wedding ring

When Megan Starich showed up to exchange her treasured wedding ring for several thousand dollars, she thought she had done everything right. The Florida woman decided to sell the $5,000 ring to help pay for her husband’s medical bills, which stemmed from a 15-foot fall at work. Watch the video “My husband fell 15 feet onto… (more…)

Repeal of health care law could spark ‘death spiral’ in some insurance markets

Repeal of health care law could spark ‘death spiral’ in some insurance markets

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan says the Affordable Care Act is in a “death spiral,” but his party’s repeal legislation could be the spark that causes insurance markets to unravel in certain areas of the country, according to a new analysis. In the insurance industry, a “death spiral” happens when people begin to drop individual… (more…)

Be careful what you ask for

Be careful what you ask for

John was a highly successful civil engineer and a loving husband. He was by nature a real go-getter. And so when his wife was told that she would need complicated heart surgery for a dysfunctional heart valve, he went into full throttle. They arranged to have her surgery at the best cardiac hospital in the country. They flew to the Midwest for what they thought would be a few weeks’ stay—a few days to settle in, a lengthy surgery, and then two weeks for recovery and rehab. The plan was for them to return home where Linda would undergo an intensive program for cardiac rehabilitation in order to get her right back to her active life. John did his homework, learning about the possible pitfalls of this surgery, and figuring out how they would overcome each one.

But things didn’t go as planned, and Linda’s post-operative course grew more dire by the day. At two weeks, she remained on the breathing machine, one complication after another plaguing her recovery. John was at the bedside day and night, pacing the halls, begging for more information, reading all that he could about the complications that were arising and possible treatment options. He asked to join the doctors’ rounds every day and stood with them as they pondered the various causes of her deterioration. As they scratched their heads, he scratched his. As they discussed medication side effects, he suggested new ones to try. John loved his wife and he would do anything to save her.

Yet Linda continued to steadily decline, and by the time a mutual friend pulled me in for advice, it was obvious to me that she was dying. But when I spoke with John, I realized that he had no idea. He had been so consumed by the drive to cure her, come what may, that even though he understood each problem as it arose, he couldn’t see forest for the trees. And the doctors, his only guides through this terrain, had not told him. Rather than honestly delivering difficult news, they had supported him in his grief-stricken efforts to keep up the fight. Even when they must have realized it was lost.

John had asked for everything that he thought could possibly help his wife, and he had gotten almost all of it.

Most doctors, particularly those in the ICU, are trained to “do everything,” medically speaking. That means that as bodies begin to fail, we automatically reach for the machines and catheters that sit idling in the wings, using them to prop up organs, resuscitate hearts, breathe for failing lungs. These tools are truly miracles of modern medicine—many thousands of lives are saved by them every year in ICUs around the world. Yet when used on bodies that are truly dying, there are serious drawbacks. The number of overly mechanized deaths is rising. The statistics are staggering– 30% of people in the US die either in or recently discharged from an ICU. Many of them are on machines until their last breath or heartbeat, encased by machinery, separated from their family, and far from home. And this is not the way that most of us, when asked on surveys, would want to pass from this world.

How can this be happening? Why aren’t we reserving these powerful machines and treatments for cases where they have a good chance of helping? Why are we routinely treating patients in ways that go against common sense and stated preferences?

The answer is more complicated than it might appear. The physician, who is the de facto guide for medical decision-making, was trained in a culture which highly values the tools of our trade. Doctors are imbued with a sense that caring is best demonstrated through concrete action. More important, this same training did not prepare us for the breaking of bad news or the ability to recommend switching goals of care to a focus on quality of life as opposed to life-prolongation. We are poorly equipped to handle emotions of sadness or anger from our patients or their families, and see those responses, and the prospect of death in itself, as a sign that we have failed. And so we are inclined to just keep treating, instead of processing and reflecting on next steps, even after the trajectory has become painfully clear. Many of our patients therefore end up riding on what I have come to call the “End of life conveyor belt,” where their dying bodies become progressively dependent on our technologies and treatments until they die, attached to machines in an ICU or ventilator facility.

Within this shaky environment, the attitude and behaviors of patients and their families can have a big impact, whether exacerbating or productive, on the problem. The truth is that the doctor will take a lot of her cues from your behavior. Maybe it shouldn’t be that way, but I believe it’s true. We all want to believe that there is one “right” treatment path, and that it will be followed and tweaked along the way by some scientific formula, but the reality is much more human than that.

In times of stress, many of us appreciate marching orders. And the doctor is no exception. A clear directive can be a comfort, even if it has become outdated. Parsing out a patient’s preferences, current and future within various “what if” scenarios, wrestling with medical uncertainties, or moving a hopeful family into a more realistic place can be difficult, and at times, overwhelming for a physician. Research shows that it takes time and continued effort to help patients and families absorb bad news. And there is much difficult emotion to be faced by the doctor along the way, including anger, disappointment, and blame, something we are not well-trained to manage. And with a competent and eager surrogate like John on the case, who was committed to “doing everything,” it is disturbing but not surprising that the course was set at full throttle without re-evaluation.

But the good news is that doctors are also responsive to a different kind of messaging from patients and their families. If given permission, they are much more likely to give their honest assessments. If you want realistic information from your doctor, go ahead and ask her. Some options might include: What would you do if this were your mother? Do you think she’ll ever be able to talk again? Eat again? Breathe on her own? Will she ever wake up? Be able to come home with us? If you don’t want to know the answers to these very important questions, you may get pulled further along a course of care that, given opportunity for further reflection, you wouldn’t actually want. So I’d advise you to take a deep breath and ask for the truth you might think you don’t want to know.

When it comes to this stage of life, every moment is precious, and the best way to get what you really want is to have a clear understanding of what is going on. Sometimes your doctor needs your permission to go there.


Jessica Nutik Zitter, MD, MPH practices critical and palliative care at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California. An expert on the medical experience of death and dying, she is the author of EXTREME MEASURES: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life (Avery Books, Feb. 21, 2017). A graduate of Stanford University and Case Western Reserve Medical School, Dr. Zitter completed her residency in internal medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She was a fellow in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of California San Francisco, and earned a Master’s in Public Health degree from University of California, Berkeley.

Jessica is at:

Twitter: @JessicaZitter

Facebook: /JessicaZitter

Carrying Out Caregiver Duties Without Burning Out

Carrying Out Caregiver Duties Without Burning Out

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, nearly 20% of the U.S. adult population has taken on some form of family caregiver duties. Not only does full-time care demand time and resources, but it is evidently harmful to the health of the caregiver.

In fact, one study shows that healthcare costs for caregivers rise as their loved ones continue to decline. Even after the caregiving ends, the immune system can take up to three years to fully recover from the stress and strain of caring for a loved one.

Anyone who’s flown recently knows these familiar words: “In the case of a sudden descent, oxygen masks will fall from the overhead compartment. Please secure your own mask before helping others…”

With a little modification, this pre-flight advice may just save you from burning out: Before you care for others, please take care of yourself. If we’re going to be at our highest level, it’s critical that we take care of ourselves even as we care for our loved ones.

In this article, we want to briefly overview three essential ways to do just that.

1. Engage Family & Social Networks

As a full-time caregiver for elderly or disabled loved ones, you’ll want to tend towards isolation. After all, in home care can demand virtually all of your time, energy, and money. At the end of the day, the last thing you’ll be concerned with is keeping up your social life.

To combat this tendency, make it a point to reach out to family and friends. Additional support from your community will be crucial at every stage of this journey. Communicating with the outside world on a regular basis will keep you from becoming lonely and disconnected from the world.

2. Mind Your Own Health

As we saw above, caring for another can paradoxically take its toll on your wellbeing. One of your primary caregiver duties must be to preserve your own health first.

A nutritious, well-balanced diet will be crucial for keeping you in top condition. Regular exercise will not only boost your health but will help manage the heightened stress levels that come along with full-time care.

Naturally, adequate sleep will be vital to reducing caregiver stress and managing the physical demands of care. Be sure to check in with your primary care physician regularly as well.

3. Take Advantage of Specialized Support

There are more resources available to full-time caregivers today than ever before. Online, you can find information on everything from healthcare planning to end of life support. You can even join online community support groups to learn from others’ experiences.

You also need to connect with living, human beings in the real world. Websites like the Alzheimer’s Association provide listings of local support groups. You’re carrying a heavy burden. These groups will help you to connect with and be encouraged by people who know what you’re going through.

Finally, don’t be ashamed to take advantage of various respite care options. Whether you hire a nurse to come into the home for a break or you can make use of an adult day care center, respite care will provide you the break you need to regroup and take care of life’s everyday concerns.

Your caregiver duties will demand more than you ever knew you had to offer. Look after yourself along the way and be amazed at just how far your body will be able to sustain you as you care for your loved one.


By Adinah East, VP Quality Improvement, Caring People Inc

Cancer in Children Adversely Affects Parents’ Income and Employment

Cancer in Children Adversely Affects Parents’ Income and Employment

Having a child with cancer led to income reductions for parents and job discontinuation among mothers in a recent study, even after adjusting for pre-diagnosis sociodemographic factors. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings indicate that childhood cancer affects parents’ income and employment for years after the child’s diagnosis, and that these effects are not equally distributed among mothers and fathers.

To investigate the short- and long-term effects of childhood cancer on mothers’ and fathers’ income and employment status, a team led by Emma Hovén, PhD, of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, studied 3626 parents of 1899 children diagnosed with cancer from 2004 to 2009 in Sweden. They were compared with a matched control group of 34,874 parents from the general population.

The researchers found that parents’ income from employment decreased significantly following a child’s cancer diagnosis, with an overall 21 percent reduction in mothers’ earnings and a 10 percent reduction in fathers’ earnings for the year of diagnosis when compared with control parents. The relative reduction in income of mothers was evident up to six years post-diagnosis, whereas fathers’ income was reduced for two years post-diagnosis. Also, mothers were less likely to remain employed following a child’s cancer when compared with control mothers, and this was evident at the year of diagnosis and up to five years later. Having a child with cancer did not affect fathers’ employment status.

“In addition to differences between mothers and fathers, we found that a younger age of parents; lower level education; and, among mothers, being born outside Sweden were associated with more adverse effects on income,” said Dr. Hovén. “Also, mothers with a higher income before the child’s cancer were found to have an equivalent income level to control mothers at four years after diagnosis, whereas more adverse effects were found for mothers with a lower baseline income.”

The findings indicate that healthcare providers and policy makers should take steps to facilitate successful merging of work and parenting responsibilities for parents of children diagnosed with cancer. “This could include providing extended support from social work teams at the hospitals to help parents navigate the practical and emotional challenges following a child’s cancer diagnosis,” said Dr. Hovén. “In particular, our findings show that more support and financial assistance should be advocated for young parents, mothers with a lower education, and mothers who were born in another country.”

Dr. Hovén also pointed out that in countries with less generous social security systems and less rigorous national regulations regarding work, parents of children with cancer may need to continue working to avoid financial hardship. In such societies, the reductions in income from employment may not be as pronounced if the parents are forced to continue working. On the other hand, in countries where parents do not have the legal right to reduce working hours, leaving work may be the only option for parents with an increased care burden.


Full Citation: “Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Childhood Cancer on Parents’ Income From Employment and Employment Status: A National Cohort Study in Sweden.” Annika Lindahl Norberg, Scott Montgomery, Matteo Bottai, Mats Heyman, and Emma Hovén.CANCER; Published Online: November 21, 2016 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.30436): http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/cncr.30436

 

CANCER is a peer-reviewed publication of the American Cancer Society integrating scientific information from worldwide sources for all oncologic specialties. The objective of CANCER is to provide an interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of information among oncologic disciplines concerned with the etiology, course, and treatment of human cancer. CANCER is published on behalf of the American Cancer Society by Wiley and can be accessed online at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/cancer.

Follow us on Twitter @JournalCancer and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ACSJournals

Wiley, a global company, helps people and organizations develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Our online scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, combined with our digital learning, assessment and certification solutions help universities, learned societies, businesses, governments and individuals increase the academic and professional impact of their work. For more than 200 years, we have delivered consistent performance to our stakeholders. The company’s website can be accessed at www.wiley.com.

A Mother’s Heart-Wrenching Story Of Loss That Offers Hope For Recovery And Healing

A Mother’s Heart-Wrenching Story Of Loss That Offers Hope For Recovery And Healing

A mother of five and grandmother to nine, married and divorced four times, and a clinical social worker in private practice for nearly forty years, Joan Childs thought she had experienced or seen it all. But nothing could have prepared her for the death of her beautiful daughter, Pam.  A brilliant psychotherapist, Pam battled constantly with Bipolar Disorder until one fateful summer day in 1998 when her demons overwhelmed her and she plunged to her death from a 15th floor balcony. Even with their combined credentials and medical knowledge, Pam still could not be saved. She became the driving force behind Joan Childs’ latest book, Why Did She Jump? (HCI Books), and brings hope to anyone struggling with grief from the loss of a child or loved one to mental illness, that there is hope for better tomorrows.

Fierce and tender, Joan’s compelling storytelling gives us an insightful yet sensitive look at her daughter’s life dealing with Bipolar Disorder. Peeling back the layers of pain and despair, Joan takes readers through the dark days of grief and guilt she felt both as a mother and as a frustrated professional who doesn’t understand why more hasn’t been done about this disease. With brutal honesty, Joan recalls how the lives of her entire family became entwined with her daughter’s illness as they watched her sink deeper into a place where no one could reach her. It is a powerful story of courage, hope, acceptance, and finally, forgiveness. Now, Joan reflects on her daughter’s many accomplishments, in spite of her illness, and sees them as Pam’s legacy to the world.

In an earlier book, The Myth of the Maiden: On Being a Woman, the author looks at the evolution of women from helpless maidens to dragon-slayers. Both books are excellent resources for personal growth and development after life changes and loss. In spite of many personal losses, Joan ‘walks the talk;’ she lives life to its fullest and maintains a level of energy and passion at age 76 that would put a 40-year-old to shame! A strikingly beautiful woman and energetic and inspiring speaker, Joan ignites the passion in others to find their own path to courage, healing and hope after the heartbreak and struggle of losing a loved one/child to suicide or any other cause of death.

Joan’s television series, Solutions, was dedicated to the memory of her daughter Pamela, and offered information and resources for anyone suffering from mental and mood disorders.  She provides lectures, workshops and seminars dedicated to her profession of mental health and women’s issues and is a spokesperson for bipolar disorder and suicide.


Joan E. Childs, LCSW, has been in private practice since 1978. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in couples therapy, known as Encounter-Centered Couples Therapy. An expert in Codependency, Inner Child Work, Original Pain Work, and Second Stage Recovery, she is certified in many modalities including a master practitioner in NLP, (neuro-linguistic programming), a master practitioner in EMDR, (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), Supervision, Hypnosis, PAIRS, (Practical Applications for Intimate Relationship Skills), and is a Certified Grief Counselor. She was the first affiliate of the John Bradshaw Center in the United States and has made appearances on national TV shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Mark Wahlberg Show, Maury Povich, The Montel Williams Show, and many more.

For more information on this remarkable woman and her work, please visit the website:  www.joanechilds.com.

My husband is dying and I don’t know myself

My husband is dying and I don’t know myself

I spend a lot of time thinking about hospice care these days.

As my husband’s health declined it was as if we could hear the clock ticking more loudly. All the plans we’d made for growing old, the life we’d imagined, was not going to happen.

If our lives were a movie, we’d be going bungie jumping right now. Unfortunately, not all of us will be healthy enough to travel the world and live it up until our last days. My husband’s decline was slow at first and has sped up more recently. He can barely muster up the energy for doctor’s visits. The places we have not yet visited and the things we have not yet done will not be done. That door has closed already, while we were too busy with work and kids and everything else. The opportunity slipped away without us even noticing it.

Now I meet with the hospice nurses. We talk about ways to keep him comfortable. But they’re exceptionally kind and want more than simply managing his pain. They ask me questions about him. They ask him, too, sometimes when we’re together, sometimes when we’re alone.

What is it that makes him ‘him’? What gives his life meaning?

And then they think of ways to keep those threads alive. He can’t do what he used to do, but they come up with creative solutions so he can still participate in his life as best he can. We take him on excursions, carefully planned and modified to allow him to enjoy these final days.

He does not have to lie there in this hospital bed set up in our dining room and wait for death. He’s spending that time doing the things he enjoys, be they meaningful talks, beloved activities, or just playing video games with our sons.

It’s made me question what I’ve been doing these past few years. Because while I can answer these questions for my husband — what makes him ‘him’, what gives his life meaning — I can’t answer them for myself anymore.

Who am I? I’m a wife and a mother. My whole life revolves around other people. It did long before he got sick. I’m not sure my life ever revolved around me, but once I got married and the boys followed soon after, I stopped even considering myself.

I knew it when they were little and they’d ask me silly questions. What’s my favorite color? What’s my favorite hobby? I have no idea. But those things stopped mattering when I left elementary school, so I didn’t think much of it. Kids are so obsessed with favorites.

My husband doesn’t have a favorite color, either, but he has hobbies he’s passionate about. He’s always had friends with ties beyond a shared property line, the proximity of their desks, or the age of their children. He’s had interests that I know only the faintest things about. My life has always just revolved around him and the boys. I know all of their wants and hopes and dreams, but I don’t know my own.

The thing is, my husband has been a great husband and a wonderful father. He doesn’t love the boys any less than I do. But he kept himself while raising them. I lost myself along the way.

Soon I’ll be a single mom. I want the boys to have a parent who’s a full person, not just a vessel for them. How will I go on after my husband’s death if I don’t even know who I am?

As my husband tries to enjoy his last days with us as a family, I’m trying to find myself.

Anonymous

Many Cancer Survivors Change Their Prescription Drug Use for Financial Reasons

Many Cancer Survivors Change Their Prescription Drug Use for Financial Reasons

A new analysis indicates that many cancer survivors change their prescription drug use (including skipping doses or requesting cheaper medications) for financial reasons. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study provides important information on the financial burden experienced by cancer survivors, suggesting non-elderly cancer survivors are particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon.

Although research has shown that cancer drugs can represent considerable costs for cancer patients and their families, there is limited information about changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons among cancer survivors. To further investigate this, researchers from the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health used 2011-2014 data from the National Health Interview Survey, an annual household interview survey conducted by the CDC. This nationally representative survey included 8931 cancer survivors and 126,287 individuals without a cancer history.

Among non-elderly adults, 31.6 percent of those who had been recently diagnosed and 27.9 percent of those who had been previously diagnosed (at least two years earlier) reported a change in prescription drug use for financial reasons, compared with 21.4 percent of adults without a history of cancer. “Specifically, non-elderly cancer survivors were more likely to skip medication, delay filling a prescription, ask their doctor for lower-cost medication, and use alternative therapies for financial reasons compared with non-elderly individuals without a cancer history,” said the American Cancer Society’s Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD, a senior author of the paper. The study also showed that among privately insured non-elderly cancer survivors, one-third of survivors enrolled in high-deductible plans asked their doctor for lower-cost medications compared with less than one-fifth of survivors enrolled in low-deductible plans.

Changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons were generally similar between elderly cancer survivors and elderly individuals without a cancer history. This is likely because of uniform healthcare coverage through Medicare.

The findings may have significant policy implications. “Healthcare reforms addressing the financial burden of cancer among survivors, including the escalating cost of prescription drugs, should consider multiple comorbid conditions and high-deductible health plans, and the working poor,” said Dr. Jemal. “Our findings also have implications for doctor and patient communication about the financial burden of cancer when making treatment decisions, especially on the use of certain drugs that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars but with very small benefit compared with alternative and more affordable drugs.”

In an accompanying editorial addressing the financial toxicity of cancer, Daniel Goldstein, MD, of the Rabin Medical Center in Israel and Emory University, stressed the need to avoid unnecessary testing and treatments. He added that “when two different treatments exist with equivalent efficacy and safety, the cheaper treatment should always be chosen.”


Full Citation: “Do cancer survivors change their prescription drug use for financial reasons? Findings from a nationally representative sample in the United States.” Zhiyuan Zheng, Xuesong Han, Gery P. Guy Jr., Amy J. Davidoff, Chunyu Li, Matthew P. Banegas, Donatus U. Ekwueme, K. Robin Yabroff, and Ahmedin Jemal. CANCER; Published Online: February 20, 2017 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.30560).

About the Journal
CANCER is a peer-reviewed publication of the American Cancer Society integrating scientific information from worldwide sources for all oncologic specialties. The objective of CANCER is to provide an interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of information among oncologic disciplines concerned with the etiology, course, and treatment of human cancer. CANCER is published on behalf of the American Cancer Society by Wiley and can be accessed online at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/cancer.

Follow us on Twitter @JournalCancer and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ACSJournals

About Wiley
Wiley, a global company, helps people and organizations develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Our online scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, combined with our digital learning, assessment and certification solutions help universities, learned societies, businesses, governments and individuals increase the academic and professional impact of their work. For more than 200 years, we have delivered consistent performance to our stakeholders. The company’s website can be accessed at www.wiley.com.

Retail Savings Guide for People with Disabilities

Retail Savings Guide for People with Disabilities

Maxwell Ivey

In this guide, let’s look at ways those with disabilities can stretch their dollars. The purpose here is not to portray anyone as “less than” or “needing special help.” For us, the bottom line is “If you can save money, why not do it?” We just want to make sure you know about the options.

There’s one thing we know for sure: people like Jon Morrow, Joni Eareckson Tada, Stephen Hawking, and so many others, prove that a disability doesn’t mean “incapable.” Not by a long shot.

Discounts, Services, and Special Offers Available to People with Disabilities

Here’s a two-word tip that can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars every year: Always ask.

Businesses typically instruct their employees to refrain from suggesting discounts. That’s not because they don’t want you to save money. It’s because they don’t want to risk offending someone

Many customers would be glad if a clerk pointed out a senior discount, or “15% off for women on Tuesday” special, but some shoppers would get angry at the suggestion. That’s why store workers seldom say anything. In most cases, you need to know in advance about available specials, or you need to ASK.

Asking, by the way, is a simple procedure. You need say nothing more than this: “Hey, do you offer any special discounts that I may be unaware of?”

Businesses love it when the word gets out about their specials. Discounts bring in customers and discounts encourage repeat visits. They WANT you to know. Our aim here is to help them out and alert you to special prices you may be missing out on now.

Organizations that Help People with Disabilities Get Discounts and Special Pricing

Let’s begin by reviewing a few of the organizations that advocate for people with disabilities. These groups can provide all kinds of assistance. They can also be an excellent platform for finding opportunities to network with others.

Discounts for People with Disabilities

This site was founded by a couple who totally “understand the financial burden of disabilities.” After Mara was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, their lives changed dramatically. Her income-producing ability decreased, but expenses shot up.

They first discovered a tax discount Mara’s disability made them eligible for. That encouraged them to look for other potential savings. They needed every penny they could save.

And once they started looking, they began finding opportunity after opportunity. So they started a website to help others with a disability get help.

Features of Discounts for People with Disabilities: You can search by U.S. state and county to find special offers close to you. Categories included are extensive.

Here are just a few of the types of discounts listed:

  • Assistive technology discounts
  • Banking services special offers
  • Education discounts
  • Health care supplies at reduced rates
  • Prescription plans for discounted medicine
  • Tax breaks for people with disabilities
  • Transportation help and rides for those with disabilities

Be advised that not all (or even most) of the offers you will find on this website are free. Many, however, are low-cost or tied to another program that will help with a purchase. Use the search feature there as a way to open your eyes to the potential.

Disability.gov

This site is a clearinghouse for information on programs and services available via the U.S. federal government to those with disabilities.

Here are the categories covered:

  • Benefits for people with disabilities
  • Civil Rights and those with disabilities
  • Community Life – includes information about financial help, independent living, personal assistants for people with a disability, community-based help, and more.
  • Educational Assistance for students with disabilities
  • Employment Opportunities for those who have disabilities
  • Health, Housing, and Transportation assistance for those with disabilities
  • Emergency Preparedness, Technology, and Accessibility

Check the Quick Links section for easy access to programs and phone numbers that can open the door to a whole array of services aimed at providing help for those with disabilities. This site alone has the potential to save you thousands of dollars annually.

Invisible Disabilities Association

Not all disabilities are obvious. Some suffer from mental disorders, learning disabilities, and other maladies that are often “hidden.”

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), anyone who “has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment” qualifies for benefits under the act.

Accordingly, the Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA) seeks to reach and educate those who may not realize their rights and the potential benefits available to them. While the IDA doesn’t list specific discounts or special purchasing offers for individuals with a disability, it is an excellent clearinghouse for information.

Here are the categories covered:

  • The definition of “invisible disability”
  • Living with invisible disabilities – encouragement and online resources
  • Programs for those with disabilities, including the Brain Ideas Symposium
  • Disability awareness – including a blog and a newsletter
  • Disability awareness events – seminars, awards ceremonies, other events
  • Networking and involvement – social media and a support community

If there’s one message we want to get delivered with this guide is that discounts, services, and special offers for people with disabilities are widely available. In most cases, though, you need to know about them and/or ask about them.

Few people will approach someone with a disability and say, “Hey, did you know you’re eligible for a special program?” The risk of offending someone is just too big to risk saying something.

Microsoft, for example, goes above and beyond in their desire to employ workers with disabilities. Microsoft success stories abound, yet you generally need to hear about the opportunity in order to take advantage of it.

SeaWorld and other entertainment providers often provide programs to help guests with disabilities avoid long queues for rides and offer discounted admission for these individuals and their assistants – but you have to ask. Call guest services in advance to find out what you’re eligible for. They want you to have fun, and they’ll often go the extra mile to make sure you do.

Managing a disability can be tough, but you don’t have to handle it all by yourself. Plenty of people, programs, and organizations want to help. Your end is let your needs be known. Never feel bad about asking for help. None of us can function well without the love and assistance of others.

This article first appeared on CouponChief.com: https://www.couponchief.com/guides/savings_guide_for_those_with_disability


Maxwell Ivey (The Blind Blogger) is an inspirational and motivational personal coach who also runs a business brokering carnival rides and amusement equipment. A native Texan, Max loves to sing and spend time with his unique and crazy dog, a “Greymation” named Penny.

31 tips for future-proofing your home

31 tips for future-proofing your home

Taking preventive steps to help reduce the risks of injuries sustained from falls and slips can improve a senior’s quality of life. Aging adults can make accommodations to their home by age proofing their home to minimize future in-home accidents.  Age-proofing a home isn’t about remodeling the entire house. Safety updates can be as simple as eliminating clutter or installing new light bulbs. Although purchasing a fire extinguisher, buying a new bed, or paying contractors to install handrails or an in-home elevator may all require spending some money however, these costs are helpful investments to ensure a senior’s safety and quality of life.  This infographic published by Easy Climber, provides a home improvement checklist to the aging population to help make aging in place safer.

31 tips making your home safe for aging


Easy Climber is part of one of the country’s largest home remodeling companies, an organization dedicated to providing products and services that enable seniors to successfully age in place.

Happy and Mobile in Old Age

Happy and Mobile in Old Age

As we grow old, our bodies and immune system becomes weak and we get prone to developing various health issues. In addition to the possibility of developing various diseases commonly associated with old age, such as dementia, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, increasing age also limits our mobility.

Joint pain and arthritis are common problems among the elderly. Even if people take good care of themselves and keep the diseases at bay, they do get affected by mobility issues as they age which affect the quality of their lives.

Here comes the role of assistive technology. Commonly known as mobility aids, the sole purpose for the development of these tools is to enable the elderly to continue with their activities and regular lifestyle. With the help of assistive technology, seniors can avoid becoming dependent on their family members or nurses, and can perform their tasks on their own.

What Comes Under Assistive Technology?

Dr. Helen Hoenig, an Associate Professor at Duke University and Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Durham VAMC, assistive technology can be defined as “all those devices that are used to compensate for physical limitations”. According to her, the term can be narrowed down to refer to those devices, tools, orthotics, and prosthetics that are used to help someone carry out an activity.

How Assistive Technology Helps in Improving the Quality of Life for Elderly

Seniors, when faced with limited mobility, become dependent on others for carrying out even the simplest of tasks of their daily lives, such as walking, eating, self-cleaning, and changing clothes. Many people fail to accept this new reality of life or do not like to ask for help in the simplest acts. In the absence of any solution, seniors become unhappy and even go into depression.

On the other hand, dealing with older people with limited mobility is also a difficult and challenging task for their families. When family members are unable to take good care of such old people, they transfer them to nursing facilities or assisted living centers. Moving away from their loved ones is even more disturbing for a majority of seniors and makes them more unhappy and depressed.

Mobility Aids can be of extreme help in such situations, both for the elderly and their families. They improve the mobility of the elderly and thus, enable them to perform their own tasks. Also, when seniors have such helpful devices, they do not give up on life and continue pursuing their interests. In this way, the increasing age does not affect the quality of their lives.

Common Mobility Aids and Their Link to Happiness

Mobility aids that are most commonly needed and used by elderly include:

  • Walking Aids
  • Wheelchairs
  • Electric Scooters
  • Portable lifters and Ramps
  • Recline and Lift Chairs
  • Stair Lifts
  • Knee Scooters
  • Leg Lifters
  • Car Transfer Aids

With the use of any one or multiple of the above mentioned devices, the quality of life improves in old age. This may not be important to young and healthy people but for seniors, even the ability to continue living a normal life despite suffering from limited mobility is of great pleasure. If an old person with arthritis is able to visit his/her friends, to go to his/her favorite restaurant, or the nearest park, the pleasure he/she will get is beyond comparison.

Andy Canton

10 Financial Questions All Parents Must Discuss With Their Children Before It’s Too Late

10 Financial Questions All Parents Must Discuss With Their Children Before It’s Too Late

No one can predict the future. As mom and dad start to age and life gets a little more challenging, we do our best to tend to their medical needs to keep them as healthy for as long as possible. But one area that is often overlooked by many parents and their kids is having the money talk. Who inherits any assets that mom and dad have? Who oversees the estate? Is there enough money to pay for a home healthcare worker if needed?

When illness or death strikes, it’s a stressful time. To make things easier on everyone, it’s best for parents to talk about finances with their children years ahead of time, when everyone can think clearly and is more relaxed.

While there is indeed a lot of ground to cover, here are 10 must-ask questions that need to be answered.

 

  1. Have they named a durable power of attorney to manage their finances?

The first step is to find out if they have named a Durable Power of Attorney (POA). Without a POA in place, you’ll have to go to court to get guardianship of your parents in order to access accounts on their behalf.

 

  1. Where do they keep their financial records?

Whether they keep their money and documents in a bank, a safe or under the mattress, you need to know where to find records when you need them. Also, find out the location of keys or codes to lock boxes or safes.

 

  1. What are their bank account numbers and names of their financial institutions?

In addition to knowing where they keep their money, you need specifics on all account numbers. What banks and mortgage company do they use? Do they have an investment firm? How many credit card accounts do they have and where do they keep their statements?

 

  1. What are your parents’ monthly expenses?

Gather information on their mortgage, car payment, credit card debt, electric bills and other expenses.

 

  1. How do they pay their bills?

If there are automatic deductions being taken out of a checking account, you need to know about them. Do they use online banking/bill pay or only paper checks?

 

  1. How much is their annual income and where does it come from?

Do your parents receive monthly pension checks? Do they have dividends coming in from investments? Do they get money for a disability or alimony?

 

  1. Do they receive Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security?

If your parents have become incapacitated, you may have to investigate the status and eligibility of government assistance.

 

  1. What kind of medical health insurance do they have in addition to Medicare?

Do they have health insurance provided by an employer? If they are retired, are health benefits included as part of a pension?

 

  1. Do they have long-term care insurance?

A “regular” health insurance plan does not cover the cost of assisted living or a nursing home. Did they purchase a long-term care insurance policy to cover the cost of those residences? If not, and they can no longer live on their own, what can they afford in terms of housing?

 

  1. Do they have an accountant or financial planner?

Who is it and how do you contact them? Have they done any estate planning? Ask if you can meet with their financial professional with them to discuss their situations.

 

It’s best for parents and children to figure things out about money and plan for the future as soon as they can. All too often it’s too late, and trying to discuss money in a stressful time leads to more stress, arguments, saying things you regret, hurt feelings and broken relationships. Have the money talk now, before it’s too late.

 

Kurt Kazanowski, MS, RN, CHE, is author of A Son’s Journey: Taking Care of Mom and Dad, and has more than three decades specializing in hospice, home care and senior care.

I can’t be ON all the time

I can’t be ON all the time

Being a 24/7 caregiver means there’s someone who needs you 24/7. But I’m learning to accept that it’s just not possible.

Believe me, I tried. For the first few months I was unstoppable! Any time Joe needed me, I was there in an instant. It didn’t matter what I was doing, how tired I was, or how many other things needed to get done.

And then I couldn’t do it any more.

I started to slow down. I started to get sick all the time. I started to get angry. There used to be two of us in this marriage and it felt like now I was all alone, responsible for both of us. I felt bitter and trapped. That’s not the person I wanted to be. I don’t blame Joe for getting sick, but I also couldn’t cope with how much our lives had changed. I wasn’t angry at him, but I was angry and I was taking it out on him.

Something needed to change.

I can’t make him not sick. The doctors can’t, either. I needed to stop hoping for a miraculous recovery and accept that this is the situation I’m in and it’s not going to change. I can be wonder woman for a little while, but I can’t keep it up forever.

I was going to have to learn how to take care of both of us without burning the candle at both ends.

Joe is a grown man, the type of guy who never stopped to ask for directions or get help from anyone. He was a real independent, take charge kind of guy. I loved that about him. He took care of me all the time. I really leaned on him for a lot of things. At first, when he accepted that he needed to let me help him, I felt empowered. I finally got to return the love and care he gave to me all of those years. I could show how strong I really am. After a while, it got harder. I started to resent how much I was doing for him. While he leaned on me for a lot, I know he didn’t like it.

Step one for learning to do this long-term was pushing him to do more for himself. I can wait on him hand and foot when he’s having a particularly bad day, but not every day. There are certain things he can’t do for himself and that’s fine. But I realized I was babying him. There’s more that he can do than he’s doing. While he’s learned to let me do things for him and expects me to do things, he doesn’t like it any more than I do.

I started asking him to see if he can do things on his own. And he could. It was hard at first, but it was a fun challenge for us to do together. For a few months we discovered that he could do a little more for himself each day. Then we hit a plateau and it was frustrating, but that’s okay. His condition isn’t getting better, so now we know the maximum he can do on a good day and on a bad day and everything in-between.

As I pushed him to do more for himself, he also started to interrupt me less. Some things need to be done right then, it’s not optional. Other things can wait. He’d been interrupting me to ask for help for things that weren’t urgent and I was letting him.

Now we have a system that I check on him at regular intervals. He knows the longest amount of time he’ll have to wait before I’ll be there with him again and he can decide if he should call me in before that.

I can’t express how much this has improved our lives. He feels more independent. I feel more independent. And I can finally get things done. I had no idea how much trying to juggle a dozen tasks at once with constant interruptions was scrambling my brain!

Now some days I can do the stuff that needs to get done, from start to finish. When I hear him call for me I know it’s because it’s important.

I feel like I have my life back.

At first I felt like I was really letting Joe down by saying no to him. I didn’t even actually say ‘no’ and I still felt so guilty! But then I saw how happy it made him to get back to being the sort of guy who didn’t need someone else’s help all the time. We’re both so much happier now.

There are still bad days. It’s still exhausting. But now I know I can keep doing this. I could never stop being Joe’s caregiver — now I know we can keep this up, til death do us part.

Sara Waltrip

Beginning or End: There is No Substitute for Love

Beginning or End: There is No Substitute for Love

I once tried to make a list of the things we respond to from the day we are born, and one of the first ways we bond with a parental figure is by communicating our feelings through tears or laughter. Mother and father then have to listen carefully to how we make ourselves understood so they can react accordingly. A loving parent usually ends up able to interpret each nuance in their child’s sounds and demeanor.
Later, when we learn to express ourselves with words, we have a deep need to share each new experience with someone who cares. It may be a parent, a schoolteacher, a grandparent, a friend, or all of the above. But one person’s close attention to our joys, our sorrows and our endless questions are a vital part of our growth—especially while every little happening in our lives is still the most exciting thing in the world to us.

As we reach adolescence, it becomes even more confusing if there is no one there for us to relate our concerns to about the emotional and physical changes taking place. How many troubled teenagers say that all they really miss is a parent or mentor to spend time with—someone who will take the time to listen.

Loneliness and fear take root early on in our lives when we feel we have no one to talk to. And in the twenty-first century, when both parents often have fulltime careers, it becomes increasingly difficult for a  mother and father to find the time to listen to what is happening in their children’s lives. Emotional issues are usually the first to be put on the back burner and are considered “normal” for that age.

In my grandparents’ day, before the world was filled with high technology, families lived in a home where the children were usually born and where there was always a place for the older generation to live out their lives. The cycle of birth and death was not a mystery to young people who were active participants in all aspects of family life.

Now the aging process of a beloved grandparent is often, at best, kept at a distance while a staff of strangers takes care of them in what is now called “assisted living.” In these facilities all responsibility is taken off the family’s shoulders as the necessary level of care is upgraded with time.

This situation enables the next generation to ignore the final stages of life that the older person goes through and does not give the younger ones the benefit of the wisdom, love, or connection to those responsible for their heritage. And so the charade continues, while we permit ourselves to hide our heads in the sand and pretend that the impersonal care and feeding of those who raised us are adequate substitutes for our love.

The tragedy of abandonment of the ones who have nurtured us, who desperately need our love at the end of their lives, was overwhelmingly shown to me when I went to an assisted living home in New York City called Atria, where my old nurse Lucy, who had cared for my brother and me when we were born, was living.

When I arrived, I was told that Lucy was at a doctor’s appointment with her aide, so I went into a comfortable little sitting room to wait for them to come home. When I sat down, I noticed an elderly lady in a wheelchair talking on the phone with her son, pleading with him to come visit her. I could tell she was speaking in the most diplomatic way possible, so as not to anger him.

At the end of their conversation, I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard her say, in the sweetest possible way, “But, darling, you only live a block away.”

I have found that even when human beings have been forced to spend their whole lives in a state of lonely desperation, at the end, the door to their emotions is always ready to be opened. Although it may be only days or even hours before death that they find that loving ear, the deafening quiet of a lifetime can be erased forever in those last moments. It is never too late to make the connection, especially when it is a connection born of love.

Are You Helping Your Elderly Parent, Or Just Yourself?

Are You Helping Your Elderly Parent, Or Just Yourself?

I still remember the days when my parents chose my wardrobe. They paid for my clothes and therefore I had to wear what they wanted. Needless to say, their selections were less than fashionable, resulting in me getting a healthy dose teasing on the playground. This helped me learn a valuable lesson: when others get to make decisions on your behalf, it’s really hard for them to set aside their own tastes and motives. I call this the Decision Maker Bias.

Many decades later, I now find myself heavily involved in my parents’ care and often have to decide what’s best for them. Should they move into a facility or live on their own? Do they need a caregiver, or perhaps even a geriatric care manager? Should they downsize or keep living in their house with a stairway? I constantly catch myself forming strong opinions on each of these topics, but after some introspection I realize that there is a trace of my own interest in them. I genuinely want my parents to be happy, so I created a framework that helps me spot decisions where I might be affected by the Decision Maker Bias.

Kevin Trotman via Flickr

Kevin Trotman via Flickr

Proximity

We often try to get our parents to move closer to ourselves, thinking that they will benefit from us being able to spend more time with them. However, we also have to consider the cultural impact on our parents’ lives. Would a culturally conservative 90 year old from the Midwest feel at home near Berkeley, CA? Will they be able to connect with their neighbors, and will they find a local church that fits their needs? While it’s true that we might be seeing them on weekends, they may experience isolation and depression on all other days of the week. Also, their old friends and neighbors they leave behind are often restricted in their mobility, making it very hard to see each other again. When relocating an elder, we have to remember that this is more traumatic to them than we can imagine.

Safety

Safety is the cornerstone argument in almost all elder care discussions; we use it to downgrade houses, move our parents to assisted living facilities, veto long trips and outdoor activities, etc. But what we often forget is that money can buy safety – you can hire caregivers, install home safety equipment, use smart monitors, etc. In other words, the question should not be: “Is it safe?” but instead: “Can we afford to make it safe?” You won’t always be able to say yes, but be aware that being an overprotective adult child is not always in the best interest of your parents – sometimes the extra effort and cost it will take to keep them safe might be worth the happiness they’ll get out of their wishes for autonomy and independence coming true.

Relationships

I don’t believe that this is happening between me and my parents, but I’ve certainly encountered it as part of my work at Kindly Care – as caregivers and elders spend a lot of time together, inevitably they start forming strong bonds which can make the adult children jealous. Particularly, the topic of oversharing sensitive family stories seems to come up a lot. Caregivers are in a difficult spot – as a companion, a part of their job is to be a great listener, but not all topics are good for their job security. Adult children can get suspicious that the caregivers are being noisy, and it’s hard to determine who initiates such conversations. What’s clear in those situations is that the adult children face the Decision Maker Bias: their hurt feelings can hinder their parents’ ability to bond with their caregiver.

kindlycare professional caregiver and client

Hobbies

When encouraging my Mom to be more active, I usually suggest that we go for a walk. I just love the outdoors, and it’s one of my favorite ways to bond with her. However, I recently read in the New England Journal of Medicine that dancing trumps all other recreational activities when it comes to mental acuity in aging. Well, dancing is my least favorite activity, and now I face the same dilemma that parents face when helping their kids decide which sports to pursue – should I encourage something that we’ll both enjoy? This just reminds me once again that our personal taste has a real impact on the people we care for.

via GIPHY

Are there any other areas where you can spot the Decision Maker Bias? Leave them in the comments so that we can all be more aware, and get better at realizing our bias when we make decisions on behalf of the ones we love.


Igor Lebovic is the CEO of Kindly Care, a self-serve care management platform that makes it incredibly simple to privately hire caregivers without having to worry about sourcing, safety or compliance.

Follow Igor Lebovic on Twitter.

Featured image: Roman Nerud / Shutterstock.com

The 6 issues family caregivers face

The 6 issues family caregivers face

eldercare confidentialWhen it comes to eldercare, America is facing a disconnect between fantasy and fact. That’s the theme for the new book Eldercare Confidential: Cautionary Tales for Adult Caregivers and Caretakers of Parents and Spouses.

“We all have this idea of an eldercare Shangri-La, where our parents can live and have their every need taken care of,” said the book’s author, Chris Cooper. “We all think that this care home will be funded by the government and that we will be relieved of heart-wrenching caregiver decisions.”

Unfortunately, that place doesn’t exist, Cooper said.

“It’s the Shady Acres myth, and even if it did exist, most Americans couldn’t afford it since the government doesn’t generally cover expenses for long-term care.”

That leaves caretakers and caregivers with the decision-making for their loved ones. Eldercare Confidential was written for those caregivers and caretakers—the adult children and spouses thrust into the role of fiduciary—or steward—for loved ones. The decisions they have to make can be stressful—even debilitating, said Cooper.

“That’s why I wrote Eldercare Confidential. There’s no other book like it on the market. It outlines the six major issues confronting these caregivers and caretakers—what I call the Six-Headed Eldercare Beast.”

Those potential pitfalls range from money, medical and psychological mistakes, to social, environmental and legal mistakes.

Cooper knows how vital this information is from experience. As a professional fiduciary licensed with California, he works with seniors, disabled individuals and others who can’t manage their affairs on their own. He has seen the sometimes disastrous mistakes that people have made because they weren’t prepared for their new role of taking care of Mom and Dad.

“Forewarned is forearmed,” Cooper said. “I’ve given straight talk and practical guidance to navigate those challenges.”

Cooper said his entire career has been about advocating for those who can’t help themselves. In addition to being a professional fiduciary, he founded Eldercare Advocates, which provides geriatric care management and long-term-care consulting, as well as Chris Cooper & Company, an independent, fee-only Registered Advisory firm based in San Diego and Toledo. He is enrolled to represent clients before the IRS and in fair hearing processes before the Department of Health and Human Services at the state level.

“In short, I help people who really need someone to stand by them and support them. That has been my responsibility—and pleasure—my entire career,” he said. “I’m proud that I get to continue this mission with my new book.”


Chris Cooper is a professional fiduciary licensed with California and a national certified guardian with the Center for Guardianship Certification. As a professional fiduciary, Chris works with seniors, disabled individuals and others who can’t manage their affairs on their own. He is the founder of Eldercare Advocates, which provides geriatric care management and long-term-care consulting. Chris has established the fee-only financial planning firm Chris Cooper & Company in Toledo, Ohio, and San Diego. He regularly appears on both local and national news shows and is quoted in newspapers and magazines nationwide. For additional information, please visit his website at chriscooper.com.

Learn more about Eldercare Confidential at chriscooper.com.

Yelling

Yelling

The other day I stopped by my dad’s place and caught the home health aide yelling at him.

At first I was livid. How could she treat him that way? She’s here to keep him safe and take care of him and she was clearly failing at that. Yelling at someone with dementia is only going to agitate them and make the situation worse. Don’t they train home health aides?

And then I stepped back. Because, well, I’m not proud of it, but I’ve yelled at my dad, too.

I realized I was about to yell at her for yelling at my dad.

I know it’s not right. I know he isn’t responsible for his behavior. I’ve read all the advice, watched all the videos, and know what I’m supposed to do. But following the advice is so much easier said than done.

I know what I’m supposed to do, but I don’t always do it.

My first instinct was to fire her immediately and call up her company to complain. But that’s not what I did.

Instead, I asked her to finish what she was doing so I could talk to her. We talked about what I saw and I told her I understood how frustrating taking care of my dad can be, but that obviously what I heard wasn’t acceptable. She was so embarrassed and apologized. We talked about what had happened to get her worked up and swapped ways to keep our cool.

It felt like a bonding moment. I hope I’m right and that this won’t happen again. Hopefully this will mean my dad will get better care from someone who knows I want to work with her, not against her. Someone who sees her as a real person, working just as hard as I am.

Anonymous

Music Can Be A Major Key To Therapeutic Healing

Music Can Be A Major Key To Therapeutic Healing

Music plays a significant role in nearly everyone’s life, but for some people it represents much more than an invitation to dance or a soundtrack for the morning commute.

Researchers have found that music therapy provides a diversion from negative feelings and helps manage the pain of not only adults, but of children with developmental, physical, behavioral, and neurological disabilities.

It also increases range of motion and motor skills, and in some cases is a replacement for medication. In short, its therapeutic uses are many.

“Music is invaluable to people with special needs, allowing them to express themselves non-verbally,” says Travis Perry, a music teacher for more than 35 years and inventor of ChordBuddy, a device that makes guitar-learning easier for anyone – including those with disabilities.

“Veterans can use music to help cope with PTSD as well as other physical injuries. Senior citizens can learn to play the guitar, which helps build hand strength.”

One recent study showed that music therapy can even help children cope with routine immunizations, making them less stressed – and their parents less stressed as well.

While music therapy is known to be fruitful for the person needing therapy, the results also can be a gratifying for the teacher. Perry says he’s found it especially satisfying to teach the guitar to autistic children, who can be challenging but ultimately rewarding pupils.

In fact, a small number of people with autism are musical savants, according to the American Music Therapy Association, but all benefit from music therapy interventions to enhance their social, communicative and motor skills, among other needs.

Generally, children with autism aren’t able to make what would be considered a pleasing sound on the guitar without some assistance. Perry uses his invention to help them. Instead of positioning their hand into the correct chord positions – often tricky for even able-bodied learners – they can just press a tab that results in a clear, strong chord sound.

Perry, who has appeared on the popular TV show Shark Tank, didn’t actually have music therapy or people with special needs in mind when he invented ChordBuddy. He was trying to help his daughter learn to play and her frustration became his inspiration.

“When learning an instrument, it’s important to have success right away, and that can be difficult to do with the guitar,” Perry says. “Most people give up within the first couple of months and the guitar ends up in a closet. That’s why I’m so excited when I know I’ve been able to help a special-needs child, a veteran with PTSD or a senior citizen with arthritis make music.

“You realize the odds they’ve had to overcome, both with the usual hurdles to learning and their personal difficulties, and that’s very fulfilling to me.”


Travis Perry has been a music teacher for more than 35 years and is the inventor of ChordBuddy. His invention was showcased on ABC’s Shark Tank. He regularly makes appearances and speaking engagements at schools, and donated his invention to various charities including The Wounded Warriors Project.

3 Ways To Talk With Aging Parents  About Finances

3 Ways To Talk With Aging Parents About Finances

One benefit of the increasing life expectancies for Americans is that more people have bonus years for enjoying the company of their aging parents.

But all is not rosy. Those extended years also boost the odds that parents could go broke or suffer from dementia and be unable to make financial decisions for themselves.

That can leave adult children perplexed about when and whether they should step in and find out what’s happening with their parents’ money, says Carolyn Rosenblatt, a registered nurse and elder law attorney.

“Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to have those conversations,” says Rosenblatt, co-author with her husband, Dr. Mikol Davis, of The Family Guide to Aging Parents and Succeed With Senior Clients: A Financial Advisors Guide To Best Practices.

“Some stubborn parents just refuse to talk about their money. No matter what their adult children say to them, they put it off, change the subject or tell their children it’s none of their business.”

Of course, many adult children aren’t in any particular hurry to broach the subject either, says Davis, a clinical psychologist and gerontologist.

“They have their own discomfort about it and procrastinate,” he says. “Then a crisis comes up and no one has any idea what the parents have or where to find important documents.”

But Rosenblatt and Davis say it’s critical that these conversations take place so that the offspring can gather information about such subjects as the parent’s income and expenses, where legal documents are kept, and what kind of medical or long-term-care insurance the parent might have.

The success of these conversations often comes down to how you approach the subject, Rosenblatt and Davis say. They offer a few tips:

End the procrastination by picking a date for the talk.

Make an appointment with yourself to bring up the subject at a specific time. An opportune time to schedule this is after a birthday, a family event or a holiday where other family members are together who may share in the responsibility for the aging parents in the future.

Show respect.

Tell your parents you understand and respect their reluctance to discuss their finances. You can even make the conversation about yourself rather than about them. Say that you’re concerned that if something went wrong, you would be completely lost as to how to help them.

Address their fears head-on.

Let them know you understand they are worried that if they talk about their finances their independence might be taken away. You might add that you want them to maintain their independence as long as possible and you’re willing to help accomplish that, but you can’t do it without the correct information.

“Getting past an aging parent’s fear about talking about finances can be daunting,” Rosenblatt says. “But a well-planned strategy for approaching the subject will give you your best chance.”


Carolyn Rosenblatt and Dr. Mikol Davis are co-authors of The Family Guide to Aging Parents (www.agingparents.com) and Succeed With Senior Clients: A Financial Advisors Guide To Best Practices. Rosenblatt, a registered nurse and elder law attorney, has more than 45 years combined experience in her professions. She has been quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Money magazine and many other publications. Davis, a clinical psychologist and gerontologist, has more than 44 years experience as a mental health provider. In addition to serving his patients, Davis creates online courses and products to assist professionals and the public with understanding aging issues. Rosenblatt and Davis have been married for 34 years.

Dark thoughts

Dark thoughts

I don’t want to stop being a caregiver, but I think I’ve reached that point where I need respite.

I dreamt I murdered my mother last night.

It’s true that I’ve been feeling really exhausted lately. More than just physically tired, really exhausted in the depths of my soul. But I had no idea how in need of a rest I really was.

That’s how caregiving is. Not taking care of her isn’t an option, so I just keep going, no matter how exhausted I am. I have so many things I need to do for me, for us, but what can I do? She needs me more. She can’t be alone at all, so if there’s no one else to watch her I’m on duty.

I would never harm my mother. I love her dearly, beyond words.

But lately I’ve started thinking those things. One day, after her passing. I’ll do this. I’ll do that. One day, when I have free time again. One day, after this list of chores is finished. One day, after my mother is gone from this world.

And I guess I need to take care of myself before that day.

I don’t really want her to die. I want her to not be sick. I want her to be well again. I want us to get lunch, take her dogs for a walk in the park, giggle over what we might buy at the mall this weekend. I want her to not be dying.

Every day it feels like part of me is dying. Or already dead. One foot in front of the other, the next task on the list. What does she need? What will she need? I’ve forgotten myself.

I’ve forgotten myself for too long.

This is a wake up call.

Anonymous

How diabetes affects wound healing

How diabetes affects wound healing

Caring for a loved one living with diabetes is quite a responsibility and when it comes to the approximately 29.1 million people living with diabetes in the U.S., it’s important to know the types of complications your loved one may face as a result of the disease.

What many people may not know is that diabetes can result in diabetic foot ulcers. Healogics, Inc. encourages those living with diabetes and their caregivers to know how to take good care of their feet.

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Healogics is a wound care services management company, putting patient care at the forefront of everything we do. With nearly 800 Wound Care Centers® across the nation that are part of the connected network of outpatient centers, academic medical centers and other post-acute sites, we offer an evidence-based systematic approach to advanced wound care treating an underserved and growing patient population.

Twenty-five percent of people living with diabetes will eventually develop a foot ulcer due to diabetic complications and foot ulcers precede 85 percent of lower extremity amputations in patients with diabetes. This disease can also cause heart disease, stroke, lack of circulation and feeling in the lower limbs and other complications which can result in hard-to-heal wounds.

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The fear of losing a limb is very real for people living with diabetic foot ulcers. Healogics offers hope to these individuals with longstanding (chronic) wounds through data, advanced wound care therapies like hyperbaric oxygen treatment, and access to wound care specialists who are passionate about finding a solution that will work for each individual patient.

Healogics mission is to share our wound care expertise with every patient who could benefit, wherever they are, and by the best means available. With nearly half of our patients living with diabetes, it’s important to talk about how the disease affects wound healing and the preventive steps patients and their caregivers can take to avoid complications. Healogics offers the following tips for proper foot care:

  • Get comprehensive foot exams each time you visit your healthcare provider (at least four times a year)
  • Perform daily self-inspections of the feet or have a family member assist
  • Clean toenails and take care of corns and calluses on a regular basis
  • Choose supportive, proper footwear (shoes and socks)
  • Improve circulation by eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis
  • Stop smoking immediately

It’s important to seek help from wound care experts. Healogics has a network of more than 4,000 providers across the country who receive ongoing advanced wound care training, and in 2015 alone saw approximately 285,000 new patients.

The team at Healogics has a true passion and enthusiasm for wound care that can be felt from the first moment you walk into one of nearly 800 Wound Care Centers. Our teams work day in and day out to ensure patients return to a great quality of life, and have the opportunity to enjoy the people and hobbies they love most.

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Dr. Scott Covington, MD, FACS, CHWS, Chief Medical Officer for Healogics

Dr. Scott Covington is the Chief Medical Officer for Healogics. Certified by the American Board of Surgery and a fellow in the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Covington was founder of the first multidisciplinary wound center in North Carolina’s Wake County. In addition to an extensive clinical experience in wound care, Dr. Covington is a Certified Hyperbaric and Wound Specialist (CHWS) with the American College of Hyperbaric Medicine, representing a dedication to the highest standards and achievement in wound care with an advanced level of specialization in hyperbaric chamber operations.

Dr. Covington lectures frequently throughout the United States on wound care, and serves as an industry advisor on wound-related issues. He is a member of the Wound Healing Society, the American College of Hyperbaric Medicine and the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society.

Dr. Covington completed his undergraduate and medical school education at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and was trained in General Surgery at University of Texas, Houston.

Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., Healogics is the nation’s largest provider of advanced wound care services. Healogics and its affiliated companies manage nearly 800 Wound Care Centers® in the nation and saw approximately 285,000 new patients in 2015 through a connected network of partner hospitals and Wound Care Centers, academic medical centers, and other post‐acute sites. Healogics utilizes an evidence‐based systematic approach to chronic wound healing to treat an underserved and growing patient population. A fund managed by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, a private investment firm, is the majority shareholder of Healogics. For more information, please visit www.healogics.com.

Dear President Trump

Dear President Trump

Plenty of us are happy to see Obamacare go. It was too expensive, too confusing, and forced us to find new doctors.

You have a new chance to build something great. To save lives and help Americans secure their futures. Far too many people go bankrupt for their health.

Here’s what I’d like Trumpcare to include:

Insurance covered in-home care

How many of us have put careers on hold — or ended them early — because we can’t afford to pay out of pocket for home health aides? How many of us are forced to put loved ones in nursing homes because we can’t get the support we need to keep them at home?

Let’s change that. Help us keep caregivers at work and keep our loved ones at home.

Lower monthly premiums

The Affordable Care Act was not affordable for most of us! We need realistic health insurance costs — ones that actually reduce the amount we’re paying.

Lower copays and medication costs

American medication costs are higher than most of the world — are we subsidizing people in other countries? We need you to defend and protect Americans by making sure we pay for quality medications — not lining the pockets of conglomerates.

More tax credits for caregivers

We get refundable tax credits for childcare, why not eldercare?

Family caregivers should be able to deduct expenses like a business. Why aren’t more medical expenses deductible?

Respite care

Employees get two weeks of paid vacation a year. Family caregivers don’t. Family caregivers are “on call” 24/7 — that’s a recipe for disaster. Everyone wins when we support family caregivers. Family caregivers are saving insurance companies and the government billions of dollars on nursing home care — we deserve two weeks off a year.

Social Security credits

I’m working hard every day as a caregiver. It’s insulting to think I’ll be denied Social Security benefits later. I’m working for the insurance companies — saving them from having to pay professionals for the care I’m providing. Shouldn’t they be paying to support my future?

Make programs nation wide

The help I get access to in one state is completely different from another state — or county, or town! Trying to make sense of it all is maddening. We need a single, nationwide system of caregiver support. Let me spend time taking care of my loved one, not wasting time with paperwork.

Samantha K. Thompson

When the clock won’t stop

When the clock won’t stop

My mother won’t die.

I know, it’s awful to say. I don’t particularly want her to die, but it’s inevitable. She’s dying. She’s been dying. I can’t change that.

The problem is that she won’t let go of the dying part and move into the next phase.

Dying is an awful, awful process.

If you’ve ever seen someone who’s dying, you know what I mean.

There’s nothing I can do to really make her comfortable. Her body is worn out.

It’s bone against bone. Paper-thin skin. Everything aches.

She’s too weak to do anything.

But still she persists.

Anonymous

I don’t want to be my husband’s caregiver

I don’t want to be my husband’s caregiver

Yes, we both said our vows. But how many of us break them? Most of us, at one point or another.

Would he do this if our roles were reversed? Absolutely not. He’d be out of here in a minute.

He was cheating on me when his spine was crushed in a car accident. I have no idea where he was going that afternoon. He was supposed to be at work. It could have been a work meeting, a lunch time errand, whatever. But obviously I’m going to believe it was to meet her.

I had just found out, but hadn’t let him know I knew yet. I was deciding what to do; deciding if I should leave him or not.

And then I got the phone call.

It’s just assumed that I’ll take care of him. No one asked. I’m not sure how I would do it, though. I’m told it’ll take months for his disability to through. It’ll be years before we see any money from the lawsuit, if we ever get anything. I’m out on FMLA for now, but we can’t survive without an income. We were just barely getting by before.

I try not to think about the medical bills that are accumulating at this moment.

They keep talking about how they’ll be sending him home with me once he’s stable. As if I should be excited. I wasn’t sure if I wanted my husband home with me, but this isn’t really my husband. He’s like an ornery child. The personality changes could be temporary or permanent. He could regain the ability to do certain tasks on his own, depending on the severity of his TBI and how much his body heals.

This is not what I want for my life.

Before the accident my friends were telling me he didn’t deserve me. That I should pack up my bags and go. Or kick him out and fight him for the house in the divorce. Now those same friends are acting as if I should end my career and spend the rest of my days wiping his ass and fetching things for him. As if that was God’s plan for me.

Is it even an option to say no? How will I support us if I have to be here with him around the clock? Where will we live once we declare bankruptcy? What will happen to him if I leave.

It’s funny how once someone gets themselves smashed up they are made a saint. No one can say a bad thing about him now. But I will. He was a terrible husband.

And I don’t want to give up my life for his.

Anonymous

A guide to end-of-life Medicaid planning

A guide to end-of-life Medicaid planning

Just as we all made plans about whether we wanted to go to college, what college we wanted to go to, and how we would pay for it, so too, as we age, we need to plan for retirement and beyond, when that time comes to pass. Long-term care and, ultimately passing on, is an inevitable part of life, and coming up with a game plan can make a world of a difference.

Senior Planning Services, a NJ-based company dedicated to assisting seniors and their families through the difficult Medicaid eligibility process, shares some important long-term care and end-of-life planning know-how.

What are Medicaid ‘Countable Assets’?

There are many assets that are included in Medicaid ‘countable assets’, meaning, assets that Medicaid will count towards the individual’s eligibility. Eligibility is determined state by state, and it would be beyond the scope of this article to cover each individual state, but here are the general guidelines of what assets may be counted:

  • Checking accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • CD accounts
  • Money market Accounts
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • IRAs
  • 401(k)’s
  • Vacation homes
  • Life insurance policies with a face value of $1500 or more

 

What are Medicaid ‘Excludable Assets’?

There are many assets that are Medicaid exempt and do not count towards Medicaid eligibility. Here’s a list of some common ones:

  • The primary residence (in some cases)
  • Furniture
  • Clothing
  • One vehicle
  • Personal possessions
  • Irrevocable Prepaid funeral
  • Burial plot fund
  • Special needs trust
  • Holocaust reparations payments
  • Life insurance policy with no cash value or a face value of less than $1500

 

Irrevocable trusts that can help you

As mentioned, an irrevocable trust fund is considered ‘excludable assets’ for Medicaid eligibility. An irrevocable trust fund is one that cannot be revoked even by the creator of the fund, the “Grantor”, and the funds are considered inaccessible and are therefor not ‘countable assets’.

This type of fund is as opposed to a revocable fund, where, as the name suggests, can be rescinded or changed by the grantor, and as such, the assets are considered ‘countable assets’ for Medicaid eligibility. It is important to note that after the death of the Medicaid recipient, any funds remaining in the fund will need to be relinquished to fund any Medicaid payouts.

Now let us discuss the details of some of the trust funds that we mentioned:

Prepaid funeral trust: It is important to set up an irrevocable fund for funeral expenses, for several reasons;

  • So the funds will be available when the time comes and the funeral expenses will not fall on one’s loved ones to shoulder. (In certain instances, in some states, government assistance is available to cover a very basic funeral.)
  • One gets to choose the type of funeral and burial arrangements they desire.
  • The funds that are designated for this specific purpose will not hinder one’s Medicaid eligibility for long-term care.

Special needs trust: If the Medicaid recipient has a special needs child, they can set up a special needs irrevocable trust fund, which, like the funeral fund, is not rescindable and supplements for the expenses of this child that are not covered by government assistance programs. Again, this fund needs to be set up as an irrevocable trust in order for the funds not to hurt one’s Medicaid eligibility.

Conclusion

As one can see, there are many details to educate oneself on when considering Medicaid-sponsored long-term care. Being armed with the right information, is the difference between achieving successful long-term care and achieving almost-successful long-term, which is just not good enough for yourself or your loved one.

Caregiver Burnout and Respite Services

Caregiver Burnout and Respite Services

Caregiving is a difficult role. It’s filled with unexpected challenges, as well as physical and emotional turmoil that can lead to poor health. When you’re the primary caregiver to an aging loved one, their wellbeing is at the top of your priority list. However, taking some time for respite care can help you stay healthy too, so you can continue to provide quality care for a loved one at home.

Here are a few respite care services that can support you in your role:

In-Home Respite Care

In-home respite care is one options that families utilize to support aging loved ones who have decided to age in place. There are many in-home care agencies that offer trained caregivers to families for a few hours or a few days a week, depending on the elder’s needs. Most agencies have a base rate between $25 and $45 per hour.

These caregivers can provide companionship, physical therapy supervision, meal preparation, transportation, and help with activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing. Everyone needs a break from time to time, and hiring in-home care is a great way to get the support your loved one needs so you can take some time to focus on other responsibilities.

Community-Based Respite Care

Many senior housing communities also offer short-term respite stays ranging from a few days to a few weeks long. These short-term stays are great for families who need a break from their caregiving duties, are going away on vacation, or are otherwise unable to provide the needed care. Respite stays generally range from $150 to $300 per day.

During these short-term stays, communities provide assistance with activities of daily living, support with medication management, and provide nutritious meals to residents at no extra cost. To aging loved ones, a respite stay will feel like a luxury vacation in a welcoming community of peers. To family caregivers, a respite stay can provide peace of mind so that they can take time off to focus on their own health and wellbeing.

Respite Grants

A variety of organizations also provide respite grants for families of aging loved ones to utilize when they need some help in their caregiving role. The Alzheimer’s Association, the National Family Caregiver Support Program, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America all offer funding to families in need of in-home or community-based respite care. Grants often range from $500-$1000, and can usually cover up to a week of respite care. Many senior housing communities will work with families and organizations in order to schedule respite stays that fit within the grant budget.

Online Support Groups

If you decide that you’d like to keep caring for an aging loved one, but just need some support from others going through the same experience, online support groups can be extremely beneficial. Whether you join a Facebook group for caregivers or a forum on The Caregiver Space, being part of a community can help you feel supported in both good times and bad.

These are just a few examples of respite services that can serve your family as you work tirelessly to provide care for aging loved ones at home. Even a few days of respite can make a world of difference when it comes to taking on a caregiving role. So if you start noticing the signs of caregiver burnout such as fatigue, stress or anxiety, consider respite care to help you get back on track.


Jacqueline Hatch is the Content Manager at Seniorly, a company that provides free resources for families in need of senior care services. Her goal is to produce educational articles for Seniorly’s Resource Center to help families navigate the complicated world of aging options.

10 questions to ask your parents today

10 questions to ask your parents today

As the years go by and mom and dad age, life can become complicated.  Certain things are practically impossible to prepare for, while others, like finances, can and should be organized and taken care of early on. What do you need to know about your parents’ finances?

Kurt Kazanowski, a hospice, homecare and senior care expert, who is author of A Son’s Journey: Taking Care of Mom and Dad, says children should know the answers to these 10 questions when it comes to their parents’ finances.

  1. Have they named a durable power of attorney to manage their finances? The first step is to find out if they have named a Durable Power of Attorney (POA). Without a POA in place, you’ll have to go to court to get guardianship of your parents in order to access accounts on their behalf.
  1. Where do they keep their financial records? Whether they keep their money and documents in a bank, a safe or under the mattress, you need to know where to find records when you need them.  Also find out the location of keys or codes to lock boxes or safes.
  1. What are their bank account numbers and names of their financial institutions? In addition to knowing where they keep their money, you need specifics on all account numbers.  What banks and mortgage company do they use? Do they have an investment firm? How many credit card accounts do they have and where do they keep their statements?
  1. What are your parents’ monthly expenses? Gather information on their mortgage, car payment, credit card debt, electric bills and other expenses.
  1. How do they pay their bills? If there are automatic deductions being taken out of a checking account, you need to know about them. Do they use online banking/bill pay or only paper checks?
  1. How much is their annual income and where does it come from? Do your parents receive monthly pension checks? Do they have dividends coming in from investments? Do they get money for a disability or alimony?
  1. Do they receive Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security? If your parents have become incapacitated, you may have to investigate the status and eligibility of government assistance.
  1. What kind of medical health insurance do they have in addition to Medicare? Do they have health insurance provided by an employer? If they are retired, are health benefits included as part of a pension?
  1. Do they have long-term care insurance? A “regular” health insurance plan does not cover the cost of assisted living or a nursing home. Did they purchase a long-term care insurance policy to cover the cost of those residences? If not, and they can no longer live on their own, what can they afford in terms of housing?
  1. Do they have an accountant or financial planner? Who is it and how do you contact them? Have they done any estate planning? Ask if you can meet with their financial professional with them to discuss their situations.
New Years resolutions for unglamorous lives

New Years resolutions for unglamorous lives

Right after the accident, my life was sort of glamorous in a weird, morbid way. Everyone stopped what they were doing to rally around and pitch in. We’re young, none of our friends had experienced this before, and we were lucky enough to have friends who went all out. It was so tragic — the last time some people had seen us was at our wedding, cue the tears. It felt like our life was a movie, only in the end he didn’t make a miraculous recovery.

After that, things stopped being a tragic love story and started to be a grind. People stopped dropping off meals and checking in all the time. Everyone else went back to their normal lives. I spent 2016 feeling like I was slipping further and further away from myself. From the life I’d planned for us. From the husband I’d just married.

But my husband is still here. I’m still here. And this is our lives. I can’t just float along from one day to another forever. So I’m making a New Years Resolution — or three — to take my life back.

Choose to do this every day

If you asked me if I would ever choose to be a caregiver, I’d tell you no. It doesn’t feel like I made a choice. It feels like something that happened to me.

I know that’s not really true. The accident happened to my husband, which happened to me. But that doesn’t mean rearranging the rest of my entire life to take care of him was the only option. Yes, all of the options were terrible, but they were still options. Leaving him didn’t occur to me as a choice because I would never do that to someone I love so much, but I could have and I still could. Every moment of every day is me continually choosing to stay with him, ’til death do us part.

In a weird way, thinking about all of the things I could do instead of caring for him makes each day easier. Because for me any of those options would be harder.

My life felt like it was spiraling out of control. Remembering that I am choosing to do this — every moment, good or bad — makes me feel like it’s my life. My life isn’t on hold or being sacrificed or taken away from me, this is the life I’m choosing for myself.

I’m going to remember that this is what I want to do. 

Do one thing for myself every day

It doesn’t take long to lose yourself as a caregiver. Everything is about my husband. Or, really, not about him but his needs. He’s not a spoiled child; he’s not getting any of the things he wants, either. I spend more time doing things for the hospital than doing things that are actually for my husband, like the cute, thoughtful things we used to do for each other.

At this point, I don’t even know what I want anymore. The things I used to enjoy seem completely irrelevant to me now. Or plain out impossible. I’ve changed so much and I want to get to know this new version of myself.

Maybe I’m going to get back to doing 5-minute sketches in the mornings. Or occasionally putting on makeup, just because. We can’t really go out, so maybe it’d be fun to make a nice dinner at home. Maybe it’s just giving myself permission to daydream, even though there’s always a chore to be done.

I’m going to get creative and think of things that aren’t expensive. Self-care doesn’t require a life coach or a credit card. It’s just listening to my own needs.

The one thing I might spend money on myself for is my own health. I used to think getting sick wasn’t an option with work. Ha! Now I want to be healthy for myself and my husband more than ever before. I’m going to make sure I get a checkup, go to the ob-gyn for an annual, do all the recommended screenings for my age group, and eat a little healthier. Hopefully coordinating to be able to do those things will mean more time for us together in the future.

I’m going to get to know this new version of myself.

Embrace Snapchat

First, let’s admit that I don’t really understand Snapchat. Luckily for me, it seems like no one over the age of 17 does and all of my friends are over 17, so we’re good. None of us know what the heck we’re doing or how those filters get added or what it means. This is why I had it installed on my phone for a really long time (in smartphone years) before I started using it.

But then one of my friends called me out for never viewing his snaps. When I told him I didn’t have anything exciting to send him, he told me I was missing the point. The point is hey, I’m thinking of you and I want you to be in my life. And he started sending me a barrage of the most boring snaps you can imagine. Waiting for his car to warm up in the morning. The silent elevator ride. The coffee cup on his desk in his cubicle. You get the idea. It was actually pretty fun and I had a whole new perspective on what it’s like to be him. And I started sending back boring snaps. He loved them.

Once I was checking Snapchat every day, friends I hadn’t heard from in ages started sending me snaps and I started sending them back.

When I was getting nonstop snaps from holiday parties I couldn’t go to, it was pretty hard. But let’s be honest that I was going to feel lonely and awful to be missing out no matter what. Instead of feeling forgotten, like all of my friends’ lives had moved on without me, here they were lighting up my phone every 20 minutes with silly little packets of hey, we love you and we miss you and we wish you were here.

I’m not going to make the holiday party next year, either. Being a social butterfly isn’t an option. But there are still ways to stay connected to my friends.

My goal for 2017 is to keep space for my friends in my life.

Carmen Taylor

new years goals