why families of seniors should choose a CSA advisor?

Let me tell you about the nationally accredited (NCCA)Certified Senior Advisor® credential and why families should choose a senior services provider who holds CSA certification.  A CSA has educated themselves about the complex health, social and financial issues seniors are facing today.  Over 6,000 professionals coming from the health, social and financial professions have chosen to show their competency by earning CSA certification.  You are important and deserve outstanding service and resources from a senior services provider, if and when you need them.

To earn and maintain CSA certification a professional passes a national background check and studies between forty – sixty hours in preparation of passing a rigorous three hour examination. CSA’s adhere to a strict code of ethics and keep their senior education current by earning 30 hours of continuing education every three years. A CSA hopes to be a calming presence and valuable resource during what is often a crisis situation. My desire is you will see a positive difference in the way a CSA conducts their business while serving you and your family.

You can use the CSA locator feature to find a certified service provider in your area: http://www.csa.us/CSAVerifier.aspx

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

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moving my aging mother-in-law: the crisis move

Kathryn Watson

Kathryn Watson

The phone call came in at 2 AM. Pat, my mother-in-law had fallen again. It was the fourth fall this year. She was on the way to the hospital in an ambulance. My husband jumped into the shower, while I quickly packed him a bag. We lived 250 miles away. I would need to stay behind to find care for our 3 pets and make some business calls before leaving. We had been trying to get Pat to move close to us for about 3 years. She had no family close by; in fact, we were the closest. Another son lived 800 miles away. Friends had mostly passed or were in as bad of shape as she was. Every time Pat considered a move to Houston to be closer her son in North Carolina would tell her he was looking for places there. She would shut down afraid a move to one city or the other would upset one of her sons. Quite frankly I think she enjoyed the attention she was getting from both of them.

We were glad that we were able to take the time off when needed but it sure would have been so much easier had she been living close. This time there was no choice. We were moving her as soon as she could travel. The next 20 days my husband and I took turns going back and forth to Louisiana to make sure she was taken care of in the hospital. At night we packed her 55 years of memories into what we thought may fit in her new place. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But there was no time to delay, we had to act fast. When it was time for a move to Skilled Nursing for re-habilitation therapy we moved her to Houston beginning the search for permanent placement.

She would not be happy when she realized we moved her permanently. We knew this. Knowing does not make it any easier. What I learned from this experience is that the move is going to be challenging no matter when you do it but if you wait until a crisis it will be twice as hard. If you wait until there is a crisis you may not have as many options available to you.

Pat has been here two years now and still talks about her home in Louisiana and asks me “When do I think she will be able to return home”. She will probably always ask. I tell her “Now Patty Jo, who would I go get my nails done with if you leave!” She smiles, “You’re right. I would miss you and Doug.” Tomorrow she will ask again.

Kathryn Watson is the author of Help! My Parent’s Are Aging. She is a Life Coach and  ElderCare Adviser helping families make tough decisions regarding the care of an aging loved one.  http://help-myparentsareaging.com Leave Kathryn a comment below or if you would like to share story of your own, do so here.

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senior driving madness, continued

Sarah RossWinter 2013 by Sarah Ross

Wow.  Thank you to those 11 who responded to my August 2013 post and offered great feedback and advice.  To update you on the “aging parents driving badly” situation, my parents are now safely back at their “primary” home in Fort Myers, FL.  They flew down from north Georgia about two months ago (my sister obviously having assisted with getting them from their rural home to the local airport) and then I believe they had a friend pick them up at the airport in Ft. Myers.

Last May I did write to the Florida State motor vehicle safety department (or whatever their exact name is) and asked them to re-test both of my parents for their vision/reaction/driving competence. Apparently they have contacted my parents because my father keeps asking me for copies of what I sent to the State of Florida, so he can “defend himself” at their review appointment (which he got postponed while they were up in north Georgia running STOP signs and driving into trees.)  (I’m not going to send my father copies of anything — he and Mom can just go in there and prove that they are both still safe to drive.)

What truly saddens me is the geographical distance between all of us, and our lack of desire to visit one another:  (1)  I’ve lived in Seattle for the past 22 years.  At this time, I am not earning enough money to be able to fly to visit them and I refuse to go into debt for the airfare (2) my older sister lives in Fletcher, North Carolina (3) my younger sister is in Austin, Texas; AND my 85-plus-year-old parents live in Ft. Myers, Florida (with their “summer home” being in north Georgia).

My sister in North Carolina, I understand, has frequent contact and visits with our parents.   However, she does not share with me any news/updates of the mental and physical health of our parents.  The last honest “report” I got from her was 3 or 4 years ago, after Dad drove the car into a stand of trees. (“Oh, did you know that last summer Dad drove their car into some trees, out at the Farm?” )   Since then, both my sister’s and my mother’s mantra is:  “everything’s FINE.  We’re all just FINE.   No problems whatsoever.”

I have 2 daughters of my own — they’re in their 20′s now, of course.  And I have to tell you, I LOVE spending time with each/both of them — holidays, birthdays, shopping, anything.   My wish is to remain geographically close to them for the rest of my life — even if it means moving to a different city/state.  My parents apparently have a different family philosophy.

During the 20-some years I lived in Seattle, raising their grandchildren, my parents came here to visit us exactly ONCE.   When my Aunt Ginny died a few years ago (my father’s sister), my parents — my father — did not even fly up to New York State for her funeral.  Yet, every year they move heaven and earth to fly/drive/travel up to their summer home in McCaysville, Georgia — depending my my sister’s help, of course.

I guess I’m just looking for a little sympathy or something here . . . . . .  Is anyone out there going through a similar situation? PLEASE comment below …

If you are struggling with your parents & the driving dilemma write it here! 



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

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tips for traveling with my elderly mom

Virginia & MomWhether it’s a trip to the grocery store, picking up a few things at the nearby Walgreens or eating out at a favorite restaurant, I’ve learned many important lessons about going anywhere with my 91 year old mother.  At the top of the list is to remember that it has to be on her time, not mine. Be on time, if I said I would pick her up at 8:00 a.m. – she’ll be ready by 7:00 a.m. Walk slowly and carry a big smile!!  If I’m in a hurry or have the slightest bit of concern or worry on my face, she’ll sense it and she’ll feel the burden of taking my time. Since mom absolutely refuses to use a walker, her assisted device of choice is her trusty cane, which she promptly places in a grocery cart as soon as we walk into a store and uses the cart as her mode of getting around. Not a problem – right? Well only when she boldly walks off without it and so we’ve been known to backtrack on a number of occasions to retrieve it.

Ordering at a restaurant offers unique challenges as well with the onset of macular degeneration, hearing loss and her increased inability to make decisions quickly. To reduce the amount of anxiety while sitting at the restaurant trying to shout out menu items, I’ve gone to pulling up menus on the internet from her favorite restaurants and asking her ahead of time to decide what she’s in the mood to eat that day!  All of these are really of minor concern and can be easily handled with a little patience and a good sense of humor.

Traveling out of town to an unfamiliar place may be a bit more challenging.  A trip to Las Vegas a few months ago proved to be a two-person job in making sure mom was safe but still enjoying herself. My sister and I took on this trek since mom loves to play the slots and believe it or not, actually enjoys the ruckus of the casinos. Here are some things we learned NOT to do – don’t take escalators!  Even with one of us in front of her and the other backing her up, her unsteadiness almost caused her to tumble and had my heart in my throat with my blood pressure soaring. There are elevators in every casino and we found them all – even at the airport.  Climbing in and out of a shuttle bus gave us another opportunity to discover a better way of doing things. We learned NOT to try to be the first on or off the bus, we waited until everyone had gotten off and then helped her maneuver the steps without trying to rush and keeping all the other passengers waiting.  Fortunately, everyone was always very kind and accommodating.

If you’re a caregiver who travels with an aging parent, spouse or sibling, I hope these tidbits are helpful for you.

Virginia Valenzuela is the author of ”Chronicles of Caregiving”. Let her know  your thoughts below.

If you have tidbits of your own post them here.

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what is in-home care? is it a good fit for your aging parent?

By Derek Jones, VP of Marketing at Griswold Home Care.

What is In-Home Care? Think assisted living at your own home. In-home care can take many forms, but often is it non-medical, usually ranging between companionship, personal care and light housekeeping. Referred caregivers visit or stay in the client’s home to provide older adults assistance with daily tasks due to age or a medical condition. The types of care that these in-home caregivers provide can be broken down into several categories. What services are necessary will depend on what your parent might need. No two situations are the same, but families can work with the caregiver and the home care company to put together a plan that will work for you and your family member.

Ultimately the goal of in-home care is to keep a client in the setting in which they are most familiar, have the most interaction with friends and family, and enable families to focus on being a loving daughter, son, or spouse versus being the caretaker.

Common Types of Services  

Personal Care: Depending on the physical ability of your parent, they may need help with their daily hygiene needs. Examples of personal care services include:

  • Bathing
  • Combing/ brushing hair
  • Oral/ mouth care
  • Dressing
  • Grooming

Homemaking Care: While your parent may be able to take care of their personal hygiene needs, they may not have the strength to keep their house clean or cook. Weight loss and malnutrition can become a concern. This is where homemaking care services come into play, including:

  • Meal planning
  • Cooking
  • Light housekeeping
  • Grocery shopping
  • Laundry

Companion Care: One issue older adults face is isolation. In today’s world, people have busy schedules and can’t spend as much time as they would like with their older loved ones. In addition, mobility issues can keep the elderly house bound. When this happens, companion care can make a real difference. These services include:

  • Conversation
  • Reading
  • Celebrating birthdays
  • Recording memoirs

Is In-Home Care a Good Fit for Your Aging Parent? Deciding whether or not your aging parent is in need of in-home care is a tricky question. It is not uncommon for the parent to resist such help, but there are signs it might be time.

If your loved one has had an accident, series of accidents, or close calls, it might be a sign they need someone there to help. If they have a health condition that seems to be worsening, in-home care might be a step in the right direction. Adult children often elect to use in-home care services when the burden of taking care of mom or dad begins to severely impede their ability to work or maintain their own home life.

Other signs include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Changes in appearance
  • Changes in social activities

By utilizing in-home care, your aging parent can stay in their home longer and be safer in doing so. Also, you may find that both you and your parent gain a sense of comfort by having a little help.

Does any of this ring true for you? Share a comment with Derek!

Have a story of your own? Share it here.

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caregiving for my elderly mom is making me a better person

Gulfu via photopin cc(Photo Credit)

Gulfu via photopin cc(Photo Credit)

There are occasionally days where I feel like the worst daughter in the world.  I’ll have a short fuse and sharp tongue, and despite my best efforts I will snap a little. Mom doesn’t deserve it, and I know she’s not trying to be difficult—but some days our bond hangs by a thread.

I attribute these days to growing pains—we are still feeling out the boundaries of our evolving relationship. I’m currently providing care for my mother—thanks to the Alzheimer’s that is slowly wrapping its debilitating tentacles around her brain. Despite the misgivings that we both occasionally have, at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, through caregiving, I’ve learned to better myself.


One of my favorite movies of all time (possibly the best movie ever) is Pulp Fiction. At one point, Mia (Uma Thurman) asks Vincent (John Travolta) “In a conversation, do you listen or wait to talk?”  Vincent earnestly responds with “I wait to talk—but I’m trying to listen.”

I used to think that I listened well (really well, actually). However, one morning after I had set mom’s breakfast plate in front of her, she looked right at me and said, “You’re not listening. I said I didn’t want a grapefruit today—my stomach hurts.”

Although I’m sure there were countless times where I failed to listen prior to this moment, that breakfast episode was the first time that I realized the gravity of not paying attention to mom. Not only did I ignore her request (and inadvertently her independence) but I failed to acknowledge that she wasn’t feeling well. Thanks (in large part) to mom, I now make a concentrated effort to devote my full focus to the speaker and conversation at hand.

What Do You Think?

We all like to feel valued.  We take pride in our opinions and knowledge, and these attributes help us ascertain our sense of self. As mom gets older and her disease progresses, I have promised myself to continue to ask for her input as often (and as long) as I can (and then listen to her response). Rather than picking her clothes or doing her hair, I ask her what she prefers and what she likes. It’s not always convenient (or quick) but it’s a necessary courtesy. Mom is still, after all, a person—not a doll.

Nursing Home Guilt

Although mom lives with me now, there may come a time where I can’t care for her properly.  Struggling with potentially putting her in a home created huge guilt for me.  Now, I know by doing my homework and finding places with outstanding assisted living reviews, I could potentially find a home for mom that would provide her a quality of life that I couldn’t.

Madison Hill is a freelance writer with a cross-country skiing obsession.  When she’s not on the hill, you can find her writing about home care. If you would like to share your own story, do so here.

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elder abuse: a personal story

Written by: Ann Napoletan who is a passionate Alzheimer’s and dementia advocate, freelance writer and former caregiver to her mother who she lost in 2012. She is also a moderator for the USAgainstAlzheimer’s Community on Facebook. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is believed that over 500,000 older adults are neglected or abused annually. That number is astounding and simply unacceptable but many abusers are pros at covering their tracks.

Abusive situations can go on for months and years unbeknownst to loved ones. The most diligent family care partners can miss red flags, so education and awareness are critical. Remember that even when dealing with high-cost private pay facilities, staying tuned in for signs of neglect and abuse is imperative. Despite their cost and outward appearance, these places aren’t immune to problems.

Ann NapoletanWhen my mom was in the early stages of dementia, I learned how common financial exploitation is among the elderly. Shortly after I began helping Mom with her checkbook, I noticed some suspicious activity. A little digging revealed she had been giving “donations” in the form of both cash and checks to a bogus charitable organization for months – or longer. Her donations totaled at least several thousand dollars but of course we had no idea how much cash may have been exchanged.

At the time, I was so naïve; I couldn’t imagine someone exploiting an elderly person. However, a call to the Attorney General’s office quickly enlightened me. These abusers play on the emotions of their victims, as I learned when I approached my mom about my concerns.

To my surprise, Mom adamantly defended her “friend,” saying that I was crazy to be suspicious. She was angry with me and was not shy about letting me know it; the ensuing weeks were unpleasant to say the very least.

From what I could gather, the woman “visited” frequently, talking about the good work her homeless shelter was doing. My mom trusted her and didn’t think twice when she sometimes asked to have checks made out to her personally rather than the organization – or worse yet, to give her cash claiming it would be easier.

Our story is mild compared to the experiences of others, some of whom give away their entire retirement savings before loved ones discover what’s happening. Finances can be an extremely sensitive topic, and it’s tempting to overlook concerns in the interest of keeping the peace. However, that tactic can be very costly.

Here are a few things to watch for:

  • Excessive or frequent gifts to an unfamiliar charity.
  • Checks written to individuals you don’t know.
  • Unusual or suspicious credit card transactions.
  • An inordinate number of cash withdrawals.

First and foremost, if something doesn’t feel right, follow your intuition. Whether it’s financial in nature or another form of suspected neglect or abuse, taking action early could save your loved one and many other future victims.

To learn more about elder abuse, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse, or if you suspect abuse, contact your state Attorney General, Adult Protective Services, or nearest long-term care Ombudsman. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Eldercare Locator is also a wonderful resource.You can read more from Ann at The Long and Winding Road: An Alzheimer’s Journey and Beyond

What are your thoughts about elder abuse? f you would like to share your own story, do so here.


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parent with dementia: when is home care no longer the best option?

parent with dementiaSubmitted by: Kristen L. Mauk, PhD, DNP, RN, CRRN, GCNS-BC, GNP-BC, FAAN, President of Senior Care Central.

As a gerontological nurse practitioner, senior care business owner, and Baby Boomer with aging parents, I have had the opportunity to see from many perspectives the struggles that are going on in the area of senior care. One of the most devastating problems I am currently seeing is caring for a parent with dementia. As most readers know, dementia (of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type) is a disease of progressive forgetfulness that often occurs slowly over years. Nancy Reagan called it “the long goodbye”. Many adult children want to care for their parent in the home but as dementia progresses, it becomes more difficult to provide a safe environment and still keep the rest of the family functioning in a healthy way.

Care is usually more manageable in the early stage of dementia but in the middle and late stages, behavior issues such as wandering, angry outbursts or poor safety awareness may emerge and make care at home more challenging or nearly impossible. There is often a negative event, such as a fall with injury, that may prompt family members to make a decision to transition their parent to a facility.

So, if you are caring for a parent with dementia in your own home or theirs, how do you know when it’s time to make a change in care setting? Here are two simple questions that you can ask yourself.

1) Is the current situation keeping my parent safe? If you feel yourself hesitating to answer yes to this, then maybe it is time to think about a safer environment that might be provided by a memory care unit with nursing staff available 24 hours per day. If your parent has wandered outside or become lost while you were taking a shower and you can’t leave them alone for even a minute without fearing something bad will happen, then think about other options for safe care.
2) Has my parent had an increase in the number of falls in the past 6 months or a year? If the answer is yes, then you should begin the conversation with the family about the need for a change in living arrangement. A common scenario that I see as a practitioner is family members trying to keep their parent at home without adequate caregivers present until the parent has a serious fall or accident that requires hospitalization and treatment. Often this negative event will cause health care professionals to encourage discharge from the hospital directly to a facility. To spare your loved one this traumatic situation and the stress that accompanies recovery from physical injuries as well as being displaced twice to unfamiliar environments for care, plan in advance as you see the signs of physical and mental decline.

If you have a comment for Dr. Kristen Mauk about your senior, write it in the box below.

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

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