the dreaded diaper talk: how to preserve a seniors dignity!

The Dreaded Diaper Talk

There is no perfect way to take care of an elderly parent except with the most love and patience you are able to muster on that particular day.So how do you put a little fun into a world obsessed with bowel movements, pain management, hallucinations, and insomnia? Add to that the parent-child dynamic and we are talking crazy fun! Actually thinking fast and always looking for the answer that allows your parent to maintain their dignity is the way to go. And humor opened those doors for me.

How about “the talk” with your parents? Bringing up the subject of adult diapers. Or as I refer to them—Disposable Underwear. I NEVER used the word diaper. My mom had some leakage problems and she didn’t know it. Every time she sat on the couch I held my breath. You can only flip the cushions the one time, right? Anyway, my mom had terrible balance and used a walker. She was terrified of falling and dreaded getting up to use the toilet. She decided that she wouldn’t drink so much water and then she wouldn’t have to get up and pee so much. You know where I’m going—then she became dehydrated and developed bladder infections and it got uglier from there.

I learned that folks who wore disposable underwear had fewer falls because they weren’t in such a hurry to get to the toilet. Mom liked that idea. I framed the Depends as a way to minimize her worry about falling – I never brought up the issue of wetting the furniture. She felt better—I felt A LOT better and from that day forward she wore disposable underwear and we never had to discuss it again.

I addressed the problem in a dignified way designed to solve the problem she was worried about. Whenever I was successful in solving caregiving challenges it was when I approached things from her point of view and not mine.

But isn’t that true for everyone and everything? To comment Breeda’s post, please do so below. If you have a story of your own, please share it here.

- To read more from Breeda Miller click on her link: http://breedamiller.com/the-talk-every-family-caregiver-dreads/#sthash.8Hzd177A.dpuf

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aging parents & tough decisions!

wolfson-transp-newYour relationship with your parent evolves over the course of your whole life. The most dramatic change, however, likely comes near the end of life. You’re faced with a difficult question: What does it mean to respect and honor your parents as their physical and mental abilities decline?

I have witnessed countless individuals and families struggle with this question in my work as a licensed clinical psychologist with nearly two decades of experience helping individuals and families through issues around aging and decline.  In the attempt to make a parent’s final years as comfortable and loving as possible, adult children often do their best to fulfill their parents’ every request. It feels like a measure of respect to honor these wishes.

Yet, if your goal is to enhance the quality and well-being of an older person’s life, you can’t fulfill every wish. You can’t. To do so is, ultimately, a disrespectful choice, motivated in part by your need to protect yourself from the rough experiences of conflict, disapproval, criticism, disappointment, failure, or guilt. And these choices nearly always backfire, as you become resentful or bitter toward your parent, or physically injured in the process of caring for them, or burned out beyond recognition.

Your job as a loving, compassionate, steadfast caregiver is to determine what your aging parent needs, not to make him or her happy in the moment. If these two spheres overlap, wonderful! But if they don’t, you need to muster the clarity, strength, selflessness, and support to take the actions that truly bolster your parents’ well-being. That is a measure of true respect.

I offer my patients a two-step process to strike this balance of respect. First, practice listening to your parent with empathy, concern, and compassion. You aren’t walking all over her, and she needs to know that. Second, prioritize what is really needed in this situation to assure her safety and well-being.

For example, I regularly talk with adult children about not visiting their aging parent as much if he’s in a nursing home. Constant visiting seems like something the parent wants and needs, but in truth it may interfere with his ability to adjust to a new environment. It promotes dependency on you, the caregiver and, regrettably, often diminishes the appreciation your parent might have for you.

In every difficult situation, you need step back and look hard at what you want to achieve and what your choices are actually achieving. Is the daily visit improving your parent’s well-being? Is caring for her in your home ensuring her safety? There is always risk in caring for an aging parent. Your goal is to accept the risk, with love and respect, that best preserves your parent’s quality of life.

Dr. Ivan Wolfson is a radio show host and was a frequent contributor to WGN in Chicago. Dr Ivan’s radio show airs in 13 markets via the Lifestyle Talk Radio Network. An adjunct Professor at DePaul University, Dr. Ivan earned both his Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Clinical Psychology from Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, and specializes in treating depression, anxiety, adjustment, relationship/marital problems, ADHD and issues pertaining to self-esteem.

If you would like to share your own story, do so here.

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rant: personal hygiene and the elderly

2:14 elder womanMy mother resides in a local nursing home. Recently, she has started to balk about her personal hygiene. It began with showering. She refuses to let the aides cleanse her more than twice a week as she says that the water feels like little needles on her skin. Now it has become dental care. I just heard from the dentist that Mom has several chipped teeth and an overwhelming amount of tartar on her teeth. She needs four teeth cleaning sessions and then the repairs done. When I went over this with my Mom, she refused to proceed.  It is not a money issue; she said that sitting in the dental chair is too uncomfortable. Here is the problem. Since when does personal hygiene become optional? While I can empathize with her sensitivity to pain, I am at a loss on how to proceed. I have tried bargaining, crying and pleading. None of this seems to work. Please – send some ideas my way, as I am at my wits end! If you would like to share a common story, click here.

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celeb focuses attention on Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s Disease: a unique insight from both sides 

William BlackerThis post references two individuals who are very close to Alzheimer’s Disease. One of these is Sandy Halperin, DDS, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, who has recently published a book on his real life experiences with the disease. The other is actor, Seth Rogen, who recently addressed the US Senate on the subject. Mr. Rogen’s  mother-in-law suffers with the disease. The idea of having a well known celebrity discuss such an important topic certainly brings needed attention to the subject. Also, when a book on an important issue is published, this too can muster needed attention. However, what about the other 5 million sufferers in the USA? For the most part, these folks only have their families, caregivers and physicians advocating for them. We can only hope that the important messages of Dr. Halperin and Mr. Rogen reach many with the intention of informing, fund raising, and research. Once our elected officials classify this insidious disease with the same priority of other major illnesses, Alzheimer’s may receive the necessary attention and funding it so deserves.

VIDEO: Seth Rogen Brings Attention to Alzheimer’s

Please share a comment with William below. If you have your own story, click here.

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the grief of Alzeheimers

Lisa & her Mother

Lisa & her Mother

IS THIS THE LONG GOODBYE ? My best friend’s mother recently passed away, after suffering from Alzheimer’s for several years. As she sat by her mom’s bed, watching her fade away, I could not stop wondering what it will be like for my mom when her time arrives. As I received the news, uncontrollable tears ran down my face. I knew a great deal of the sorrow that I was feeling in that moment was connected to my own personal grief.

At the Alzheimer support group, which I have been attending for almost three years, our leader has been telling me that I was in a grieving process. The first time she said this to me, I responded that I was not, because my mom was not dying. Now I understand!

It’s odd because just the other day one of mom’s nurses reassured me, with delight in her voice, that my mom was doing great. She shared with me how blessed my mom was and that she’ll be around for quite a while. After hanging up the phone my emotions, thoughts and feelings ran rampant.

Yes, I understand that I am lucky to still have my mom, yet I also know how much more Alzheimer’s can rob from her. Just thinking of how much worse she could become, as this disease progresses, leaves me feeling nauseous and sick to my stomach.

I must confess, that at moments throughout the years, knowing that there is no cure, I have wished that my mom could just close her eyes and go to sleep. I know that if she understood or could see what was happening to her, she would also wish for the same.

Today, I am in mourning for my best friend’s mom and maybe also grieving for mine. For now I know that I must express what I am feeling to free myself from these haunting thoughts.

Maybe for my mother and our family this will be a long goodbye. Whatever it is I need to get back into the space of feeling grateful. In less than two weeks I will be going with my son to visit her. As long as I can see her smile and hear her say she loves me, I will push myself to come from a place of being thankful. Yet for now, I can only feel saddened.

Lisa Hirsch is the author of the book: MY MOM MY HERO: Alzheimer’s-A Mother & Daughter’s Bittersweet Journey. If you have a comment for Lisa, please share it below.

If you have a story about Alzheimer’s you would like to share, do so here.

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is your senior being scammed?

Curtis-Bailey-Portrait LR BW-2Scammers are at it again: Betty is a 76 year old widow living in a small Illinois town. She was married to her high school sweetheart, Arthur, for 50 years. Arthur died last fall after a courageous battle against cancer. Betty’s oldest son lives in the same town and checks on her frequently. Betty stays active in her church and has lunch weekly with a group of friends. Two days ago, Betty received a call from a man who informed her that he was calling from the FBI. She was immediately concerned as no one from any law enforcement agency, let alone the FBI, had ever called her. The caller went on to say there was an outstanding warrant for her arrest because of an unpaid debt. The caller offered to take care of this matter for her to make sure she was not arrested. All she had to do was wire $250 and he would handle the whole affair. Betty was very alarmed and a bit ashamed even though she could not remember having any unpaid debts. She did not want to tell her oldest son because she was afraid he would try to take over all of her finances so she agreed to wire the money to the caller.

Alert:  how can we protect our loved ones from this kind of scam?

First and foremost, knowledge is key. Staying abreast of the current scams and being watchful will go a long way to being able to prevent a senior from being scammed. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” is definitely applicable here when dealing with scams and fraud.

Second, always, always, always be suspicious of receiving unsolicited telephone calls. As Art Maines, says in his book, Scammed: 3 Steps to Help Your Elder Parent and Yourself, “Do not let yourself be chosen; Always do the choosing.” In other words, if the senior wants to donate money or buy something, the senior should initiate the contact. If the senior is receiving unsolicited telephone calls, then the warning signal should be flashing.

Finally, encourage the senior to reach out anytime they receive an unsolicited call. You as the caregiver cannot help if you do not know there is a problem. Make sure you remain calm and supportive so that the senior feels comfortable to bring problems to you. Encourage the senior to talk to family, friends, even legitimate law enforcement, so that word can be spread about this scam. Remember, scammers like to operate in the dark and in secret. The more we all communicate to alert others, the less likely the scammers will be successful in stealing our loved one’s money.

Curtis Bailey is an elder law attorney with Huffman Law Offices, PC in Southern Illinois.  He is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Missouri. Curtis is the co-founder of the Senior Scam Response Team that is dedicated to teaching seniors, their families and professionals how to recognize, prevent and recover from fraud and scams.  For more information, he can be reached at cbailey@huffmanlawoffices.com

If you have a comment for Curtis or the Senior Scam Response Team about scamming seniors, please post below. Also, if you would like to share your own story, do so here.

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a caregiver’s changing relationship with elderly parents

Joanne-I UnderstandMy mom and I were close when I was a kid…then again when I was a teen…and yet another time when I was a young mother. She made all the difference to me. She was the buffer and the lighthouse. “Look this way!” “Don’t worry about that.” She was busy with her own life and her energy was boundless. Sometimes, I felt overworked and would escape with my dad to the fields or to the barn and loved his simple methodical way of living life. She was not simple. Mom had high expectations…of herself, of me, of her students. I got tired of hearing about the next place she was pushing them in achievement. I got tired of hearing her judgements about how they spent their time, their values. Sometimes, I felt judged because over the years, I had failed and seen the brink of failure so many times. I couldn’t tolerate her philosophy of being a “human doing.” It felt foreign and aggressive to me. Her presence the last 15 years, as I began my aging process has not felt like support but it felt like a challenge … like pressure. I would escape with my dad into conversations about humanness and coping with life and challenges.  We became very close and I led the team of people who lovingly walked with him in his last days. My mom was the primary caregiver. Seemed like she was always angry and impatient with my dad. Seemed like she didn’t understand the emotional and spiritual pain that he was in. I was steadfast in supporting him … even if she didn’t understand. I told myself that I wouldn’t even miss her when she was gone. That finally the pressure would be over. My dad died a month ago … my mother got very real in the last 4 days of his life.  Got in touch with his gifts and what she loved about him and depended on him for. Then she made a poor decision and hurt herself a month after he died. She was insane with pain … needed care. Needed to let go of control. She changed before my eyes & became someone who was not a director. Someone who trusted and valued me. Someone who regretted every stress mark on my face. I found myself becoming tender towards her, compassionate. She is on the fence. Will she get better? Maybe. Maybe not. I find myself in another journey, not sure where it will end. How long? Will I be able to withstand this? I will spend the next 48 hrs with her as I have completed my work week. I will finish grading papers, run home to post final grades, run back to make sure she is OK, send in my student loan deferment papers & run back. But somewhere in there, I need to be present to just listen. To share. To ask questions. And I will. But will it ever be enough? I think not.  Enough maybe to keep guilt at bay but never enough to give honor to our love and our relationship. The best I can do is drag myself down there, support her as she is, support myself and trust that God’s hand is on all of us. And my dad is there supporting me as I try to find ways to be present and to “help” the woman who wanted “no help.” He understands. And I am starting to know that I can love without understanding.

If you would like to share your thoughts with Joanne, do so below. If you have your own story to share, do so here.

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caring for seniors

Jacqueline Chiodo

Jacqueline Chiodo

What a deceptively simple title for this brief written piece. I left a long career in banking to start my own company to protect seniors personally and to restore their dignity. I wanted every day to be a hands-on, watchful, action taking experience with one overriding goal: my client’s happiness. There are too many issues to address in this story, so let me say what is most important:

America’s seniors are our national depository of experience and wisdom.

They are entitled to the best care-giving.
They deserve to be independent, as long as possible.
They deserve and need to be financially safeguarded.
And here is what we can do together to make sure this is a reality:
Be watchful. Anyone can be a self- assigned protector: a neighbor, friend or doorman.
Are they isolated? Is their weight fluctuating? Do they leave their apartment?
Do they have home health care? Are caregivers seen outside an elder’s  front door, talking on cell phones and chatting? Is the Senior proud? Too proud to tell his/ her adult children their needs are not being met? Observe their home. ASK if their bills are being paid. Is there any reason–the slightest reason— to believe they are being exploited? ( $700 million dollars in Florida alone was sent this year by the elderly to phone scammers).Is their paperwork organized? Bills left unopened? Valuables locked?
Home health care is more than changing sheets, walks and doctor visits. It is a holistic approach to the elderly that maintains or restores their dignity and ensures their happiness.
written by: Jacqueline Chiodo, Founder, Elder Services of Florida
Leave a comment for Jacquie below. Or if you have a caregiving story of your own to write, click here.
 
Jacque  561 379- 2773
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