world’s greatest mom

Mom and I at Beach #3 3 25 2007I had the world’s greatest mom. She lived just 5 days past her 92nd birthday. She was determined to make it to 92. My mom raised 4 kids on her own – all successful adults – two Ph.D.s and two masters’ degrees. She remained vibrant and healthy until 91, when a series of health-related incidents started a difficult decline. It was so painful to watch a strong, self-sufficient woman lose her ability to drive a car, then to walk, and finally to communicate. I found the most important thing I could do was to simply be with her, and show as much patience and love as possible. My advice to anyone with aging parents is to try and enjoy every minute with them, reach out to others in the same situation and remember the wonderful influence they have had on your life!

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making your nursing home visits really count

IMG_1462Putting your parents into a nursing home can be a difficult time for everyone. Not only will you miss out on your mother or father’s company in a normal setting but they will be placed into an unfamiliar environment. In this situation, it’s important to show them you really care for them and you’re not just abandoning them and placing them there to spend their last years alone. It’s not difficult to resolve these initial circumstances by following these simple visitation tips. Be smart, plan ahead and be conscientious of your actions. Doing this will allow you to spend time with your elderly parents in a pleasant, sociable manner.

Give Some Thought to Those You’re Visiting: Even if your mother and father have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or some other mental ailment, it’s important to pay respect to them and be considerate of their needs. Remember you are visiting a person and not a used up lump of humanity. To show your parents you’re really keeping their needs in mind when visiting the nursing home, follow this advice:

Respect privacy. Always knock before you enter their room and step outside for a moment if they have to be changed or go to the bathroom.

Leave noisy children and pets at home and don’t visit the nursing home in large numbers. Smaller groups can make the occasion less stressful.

If your parents are sleeping, don’t wake them up. They may need to rest plus they won’t enjoy your company if they are groggy.

By catering to your parents’ needs, they will appreciate your visits a whole lot more and will look forward to seeing you next time.

Get the Necessary Details from the Staff: The nursing home will also have particular rules that you should abide by during your visits. As soon as you can, ask the staff about what you need to do to make their jobs easier and the lives of your parents more comfortable. This includes enquiring about the following matters:

What the visiting hours are during weekdays and on weekends

Whether your parents have been prescribed certain dietary conditions

What the facilities’ regulations are with regards to bringing pets

Whether there are any policies on gifts or tips for staff members

When mealtimes are and if it is allowed for you to visit then

By finding out everything you can about the aged centre your parents are in, you can visit them without any fuss or hassle. The nursing home staff should be happy to discuss their policies and regulations too so that everyone is on the right page when it comes to coexisting together in the one setting. Finally, if you do have any serious complaints, politely take them straight to the administrator.

Let Your Elderly Relatives Steer the Conversation: When spending time with your mom and dad, let them choose the topics you talk about. Often, the elderly like to discuss their youth, what they used to do, past romances, etc.

By letting them choose the conversation, you’ll then avoid bringing up the wrong topics accidentally. There’s no need to traumatize your parents by talking about lost loved ones, broken relationships, etc. Remember to generally keep the discussion positive and to avoid arguments. Since you probably won’t get to spend a long time with your parents maintaining a positive atmosphere will make you look forward to the next visit rather than dreading it!

If you want to add to the topics being discussed, you can always share stories about friends and families that you know they will enjoy. If you have any old photographs, news clippings or letters that are related to these occasions, use them too!

Bring Some Small Gifts with You: Lastly, it can be a good idea to pack some small presents when visiting your parents at the nursing home. Here are some great ideas about what you can give:

Old photo albums, CDs or albumsClassic, Their favorite books, Makeup or perfume

Sweets or snacks, Potted flowers, Comfortable clothing

Just remember to ask the staff whether a particular snack fits in with your parents’ dietary plan or whether the facility allows live plants. By bringing something special every time you visit, you’ll then show your mum and dad you truly appreciate them and can make the experience a lot more positive. The presents you give to your parents don’t have to be highly extravagant or expensive either – the fact that you’ve made the effort will be more than enough to keep them happy and ensure they still feel appreciated.

With a little tender care and forward planning, you can make any nursing home visit one that will bring joy to your aging parents. In this way, you’ll make them feel happy and comfortable despite being in an elderly care facility and not in their own home.


Author Bio: Lauren Downey is writing in a freelance basis for Ashton Grange. Ashton Grange is an established, purpose-built care home offering elderly residential and dementia care.

If you have a comment for Lauren, write it below. If you would like to share your own story, do so here.

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girlfriends: we need each other!

girlfriendswritten by Judith Rawlings: Come Sit At My Table

There comes a time in your life when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.

Quote: “Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”

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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:

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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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