Thursday, May 22, 2008

On Vacation

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This is it...the night before we leave on vacation. A ten hour drive with two elderly people in the car requires a little finesse. Maybe a lot of finesse. We have hearing problems, temperature control issues and just plain different travel styles than the older generation.

I went to the local library and borrowed several books on CD. My mother-in-law especially, cannot enjoy the scenery as she is legally blind with macular degeneration. It has to be hard to just sit alone with your thoughts day after day. I hope she (and everyone else)will enjoy the humorous mysteries I picked up to help pass the time. If I'm not driving, I like to read. So I know I will enjoy being read to, so to speak!

I intend to be online unless the connection isn't good. I'll let you know how it's going.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Grant Search

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Funding for a non-profit can be quite an undertaking. During incorporation and obtaining the 501(3)c status, my time and money were the ONLY time and money. I've spent the last 6 months learning website building and internet marketing in the hopes of getting the support group website up and running. It simply isn't as easy as it sounds.

To supply the necessary ongoing funding, I've over extended my credit and really must look to outside sources, such as grant money. Now, that is another whole new animal! I've another sharp learning curve ahead of me, but, you know what? I'm up to the challenge! I am committed to the development of this support group that is much more than just a "support group". As a caregiver myself, I realize
how much I need the advice and support of other people in my situation. I realize how much other people just like me, need to vent as well as hear what others have to say. So, let's get to it! I'll let you know how it's going.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Privacy Please

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Mom has always been a stoic person. It seemed to me growing up that she never showed a lot of emotion. I've realized in later years she felt many things but didn't verbalize her feelings. Now, I'm not trying to be a shrink, but, it's only natural to try to figure out what makes your own mother tick. Especially when it helps to understand yourself!

I have definite privacy issues. By that, I mean that what I choose to share with others, I feel is my decision. Now I know where that comes from! My mother is a very private person. Traits that I mistook for lack of emotion or uncaring, weren't that at all. Where the older generation kept "unsavory" family happenings to themselves, succeeding generations discuss these failings more openly. I'm not saying that I agree with the changes in society or that acceptance of these ideals is better than those of our parents generation. I do think talking about the problems of the day, such as caring for aging parents, is a constructive way to ending suffering and guilt particularly, that goes along with caregiving.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Driving the Elderly

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In my quest for finding new services and ways to help caregivers and the aging, I came across a website that really has potential.

One of the biggest obstacles to independence for seniors is when to stop driving. It is a topic dreaded by family members and one avoided by senior drivers. No one wants to believe they are no longer capable of getting themselves to the market or doctor appointments. For so many, depending on others just isn't an option.

ITNAmerica has a different approach to transportation issues. The senior pays his own way through different avenues. One option is to donate a car for benefits. Go to for an eye opening approach to solving transportation for the elderly in America.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Family & Friends of the Wandering

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As more older adults develop dementia and alzheimers, wandering becomes a big issue for caregivers. But, families and friends of the aging can take heart as a program started to help locate missing children is now being used successfully for aging seniors prone to wandering or confusion.

According to the Journal Times, the SafeAssured ID kits are being issued to grown children for their aging parents as a resource to locate them as quickly as possible should they wander off. The kit includes fingerprints, a picture, contact information, and images of the person walking and talking for better identification.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Caregiver - Is This You?

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A forecast based on information from New York University, found that caregivers are twice as likely as non-caregivers to report physical and mental health complications. One in 3 caregivers uses medication for caregiving-related issues and depression in caregivers is 3 times greater than for non-caregivers in their age group.

Another report compared the healing process of caregivers and non-caregivers. Caregivers and non-caregivers were given identical wounds. Caregiver's wounds took up to 24% longer to heal than non-caregivers. Caregiver's immune systems were too stressed to function efficiently.

A lot of this stress is based on isolation and loneliness. Elder caregivers, whether they live in the same home as the cared for, or in separate homes, are often so engaged with the elder's needs – physical, mental and emotional – additonally their jobs, homes, marriages and possibly growing children, they clearly cannot find the time to take care of their own needs. Add that to the caregiver's drive to give the elder the best treatment possible for the time he or she has left – and you get tremendous burnout. But the caregiver seldom talks of burnout, for fear of sounding like a “bad” person. So he keeps it inside. Often, the short period of intense care extends into years, and by then the caregiver is so engulfed in the routine of 24/7 caregiving that she can't get out. This self-neglect leads to a feeling of isolation and loneliness, even when the caregiver is surrounded by people.

A caregiver often feels as if she has no more to give. She will give and give until she is empty. Anger, often turned inward and hidden, turns to resentment. Resentment eats at the emotions of the caregiver. And the downward spiral continues, often leading to physical and emotional illness.

The simplest things can help. A couple of hours to spend bicycling, with mom being watched by a trusted friend, can help "Dan" feel cared for, thus breaking the cycle, for a time. An evening out with friends can refresh "Sue" an adequate amount so she can provide loving care another day without feeling completely depleted at the start. Sound good? There is just one problem!

The problem, of course, is in the nuts and bolts. Where do we find this relief?? Friends may provide help in emergencies, but they don't look at your day-in-day-out caregiving as an emergency. They see it as your life.

This is where parish nurse programs, block nurse programs, social services, churches, synagogues and non-profits fit in. As our country has fought (and still is struggling) to provide adequate child care, we need to find respite care for the millions of caregivers who are themselves getting sick from stress, loneliness and isolation. Give them a chance to attend group meetings where others are going through the same things. They understand and everyone can blow off steam.

A church group would be a good place to start to find those who have a couple of hours to give, and match them with a caregiver who doesn't seem to have a second alone. Block nurse programs train volunteers to do just that. Yet, caregivers are often too stressed to even search or ask for help. Check your phone directory for the local area on aging, as well as the listings in your local newspapers. Most news sources will have a section on support groups and other resources that just may save your life.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Tradition.

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We had a nice day this Mother's Day. My husband and father-in-law are very appreciative of my mother-in-law, my mother and me. After church, we were treated to lunch and a generally relaxing day. It's becoming a tradition I like!

My children live hundreds of miles from me and we keep in touch regularly. But knowing how much I miss the grandbabies, I received a minicam for my computer. Now we can view live video and I won't feel that great grandma and papa and I are missing everything!

I'm so very grateful I can still celebrate this special day with my own mother. I pray the tradition continues.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dreaming Again

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I believe the insurance companies in our country and financial services industry (planners, bankers, etc.) are missing the boat when it comes to seniors. Sure, they have retirement products to sell them, or investments they will advise on, but how about the real issue that is missing for a lot of these clients?

Planning, to me, means more than how much money is in your IRA. For some clients, say those who have carried home and auto insurance through the same agent for years, I can visualize a "senior services" representative of that company who works with clients over 65 to insure they have a will and power of attorney in place. Partnering with local attorneys, assisted living facilities, the local medicare office and other professionals, makes the system easier to negotiate and the senior is already your client. They trust you. Starting the conversation on living arrangements and last wishes, and involving the families, is much easier done by someone trusted and known to the senior.

In my dream world, a senior services representative would know when to refer service organizations, such as meals on wheels or home care services, to the client much as a geriatric case worker would. Only it wouldn't cost what it would to pay a case manager. And there's the rub...the reason why banks and insurance agencies and stock brokers don't have a "senior services" type person to guide the clients into making plans for old age. They can't make money from this service. What would they get out of it? In reality, possible continued business and referrals to friends and family. And goodwill...lots of goodwill.

Any business with a large client base of older people could provide a service such as the one I've described. But social workers need not apply! This is not involvement in the client's care. Several larger companies such as duPont Corporation and Fanny Mae have had eldercare advisors in house for years. As the Baby Boomers begin to retire and the percentage of those over 65 increases, it seems to me that proof of social responsibility by our employers must step up to meet the need. Both for the community and their employees! Maybe I'll live long enough to see my "dream" come true.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Wishes Granted

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I live in an area with many seniors, both in and out of nursing homes. Many of these aging adults live alone. Perhaps they have no loved ones living or just have no love from those who are.

Whatever the case may be, there is an organization trying to make life better for the deserving elderly by "celebrating seniors and making wishes come true". The Twilight Wish Foundation has chapters across the country and is growing. The foundation grants wishes to seniors through sponsors generous donations of time, money or products. Recent wishes include a piano and sheet music for a nursing home resident, a letter and photo from favorite TV soap stars, and one last visit back home.

846 wishes have been granted in the four years since its organization. That's a pretty good track record, I think. Click on to see more about it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom

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Today is a special day in our family. We are celebrating my mother's 85th birthday!

My sister and I never lived close enough for most of our adult years to celebrate together. And following close on the heels of her birthday comes Mother's Day. I'm sure Mother received many combination gifts over the years and phone calls and cards galore.Now, at least, Mom is close to me and we will have a special dinner with my in-laws here also.

Mom already knows that she is receiving another "combo" gift from me. I'm taking her on a road trip next month back to our hometown. We'll visit family and friends along the way (1300 miles one way) and the cemeteries where my father and her parents were laid to rest. Mom's family reunion is at the end of the month and we will start home after that. So much to look forward to! So, Happy Birthday, Mom. I hope your 85th year will be everything you want it to be.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Weekend Plans

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Holidays have become a little more difficult around our house in recent years. Like everyone else, we look forward to an extra day or so off from work and maybe even a chance to sneak out of town for an extended weekend.

With three elderly parents needing our attention more and more, long weekends are almost a thing of the past. Almost. Call us crazy, but we're trying to plan some time away over the Memorial Day holiday...and we may be taking two of the three with us.

When the subject of getting away first came up, I was ready! My husband has time coming from his job and we haven't spent much time away, just the two of us. Going to the mountains is the perfect getaway for us. A little bit of a drive, but when you live by the ocean, going to the mountains is having the best of both worlds.

At 88 and 89, my husband's parents no longer have much desire to travel. We thought this might possibly be a "last" trip of this nature, where we could combine an outing for them and invite the other siblings to see their folks at the same time. The details aren't planned yet, and I may be getting ahead of myself because we're not certain it will work out. I'll keep you posted!