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Memory Issues – Causes and Helpful Tips

Memory problems are common as people age. In fact, we’ve all been there. We walk into a room and forget why we wanted to go into that room. We forget where we put our keys or our glasses. However, there are varying degrees of forgetfulness. Mild forgetfulness is considered a normal part of the aging process. As we age, it can take longer to learn new things, it can be more difficult to remember information and it is common to misplace possessions like keys and glasses. Other types of memory issues can indicate a more serious problem, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This month, we’re going to look at less serious memory issues – why they can occur and tips for dealing with and avoiding them. Next month, we’ll look at the more serious problems. Let’s start by looking at the two main causes of mild forgetfulness – emotional and health issues. Forgetfulness that is caused by emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety and depression, can often be mistaken for dementia because it can be accompanied by confusion. It can be triggered by losing a spouse, relative or good friend; or even retiring from a long career. Think about someone you know who has lost a spouse. Coping with the loss often leaves them feeling a bit confused, sad, lonely, worried and bored. This confusion and forgetfulness is usually temporary and will go away over time. The love and support from friends and family will help ease these emotions. However, if these feelings continue for more than a year or so, it might be wise to see a doctor...

So Long to Romeo, Country Home Assisted Living’s Beloved Friend

It is with a heavy heart that I mention today that my beloved Romeo, a Bichon Frison who joined us at Country Home Assisted Living in January 2004, left us in June 2017. Fortunately, he passed away in his sleep and was never in distress. Romeo will never be forgotten by me or Country Home Assisted Living’s residents and families who enjoyed his ever-uplifting spirit and spunk. He made us all smile in so many different ways. When Romeo first joined us, he was just an itty bitty guy. But he learned the ropes of living in the countryside of Elbert County and at County Home in no time. He was a greeter to anyone who came to our door. He would sit fondly next to us on the couch as we watched TV. And he was always there for the many parties and celebrations held at our assisted living facility in Parker, Colorado. His departure has been difficult. I truly miss my beloved friend. But I know he is on to a new adventure, so to him I say: “This is where we part my friend, and you will run on around the bend. Gone from sight, but not from mind, new pleasures there you will find. I will go on; I will find the strength. Life measures quality, not its length.” There are others who feel the same. Romeo added so much joy to our lives. In fact, I know many feel blessed to have known this special dog with a joyous spirit, who will never ever be forgotten. So long, dear...

Caregivers Need to Think About Themselves Too

Caregivers can become extremely important in the lives of elderly individuals. In fact, they can make all the difference in the quality of life that is enjoyed by seniors as they age and face health issues. At the same time, the job of a caregiver can be quite taxing and stressful. The stress and emotional rollercoaster ride that comes with care giving are just two reasons why it is so important that caregivers take care of themselves – not just the people they are caring for. As the owner of Country Home Assisted Living in Elbert County, I make sure my caregivers are given the appropriate amount of time off work. During that time, I encourage them to get out of the care-giving mode and do some activities that they really love or enjoy. If you are a caregiver for a loved one, make sure you take time for yourself. You can’t be effective if you spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week caring for someone – even if it’s your favorite parent or grandparent. Make sure you do things that make you smile, whether it’s reading a book, taking a long bath, watching a funny movie, listening to your favorite music or participating in your favorite sport or hobby. (I’ve got even more ideas on how to reduce your stress in my blog: “5 Tips for Reducing Stress While Caring for Aging Parents.”) During the workday, however, it is much harder to get a break while you are tending to individuals who rely on you. So, I have several suggestions for caregivers who find themselves in...

Finding Quality Caregivers for the Home

When looking for caregivers for your parents or elderly loved ones living at home, there is a lot at stake. Will the caregiver be dependable? Will the caregiver be trustworthy? Will the caregiver be attentive to your loved one’s needs? You can trust that caregivers at assisted living facilities, such as Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, have been properly screened and vetted. But when the job of hiring a person is up to you, it can present a challenge. And it’s crucial to the success of your elderly loved one being able to stay in their home for as long as possible. Last month, I outlined 6 of the characteristics that I look for in the quality caregivers at Country Home. Today, I want to add a couple more comments in hopes that it will help you if you are hiring someone for a stay-at-home situation. First, make sure the caregiver gets along with your elderly family member or friend. Second, make sure that the caregiver gets along with the senior individual’s family. This is crucial. If people are unable to build a friendship and quality relationship, it could develop into many future problems. Here are several other thoughts for finding quality caregivers: Hire someone who can complement the care provided by the family. You want your caregiver to be able to quickly and simply address any issues that come up without adding stress to the family. You also want your caregiver to step up and do the right thing while also being able to diplomatically deal with any family disagreements. You want the caregiver to make sure...

6 Characteristics of Quality Caregivers

When elderly adults need periodic help at home or have moved to an assisted living facility, one thing that should not be overlooked is the quality of the caregivers who will be watching out for them. As the long-time owner of Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, I know the difference a quality caregiver can make in a senior’s life. Caregivers are crucial to the well-being and mental health of those they care for. So, today I’m starting a 3-part series on caregivers. In part 1, I’ll talk about the most important traits you should look for in these people who will be caring for your elderly loved ones or friends.   Here are 6 of the characteristics that I look for in the caregivers at Country Home:   1. Dependability. If your parent or elderly loved one needs help, you want the caregivers to be readily available when that help is needed. They need to arrive on time, not bring their own personal issues with them and be ready to jump into action when necessary. They should also be able use sound judgment when providing the type of care that is required in any given situation. 2. Attentiveness and ability to look at the big picture. Families rely on caregivers to be attentive to their loved one’s needs. By paying attention, caregivers will notice when the person they are caring for is undergoing physical or emotional changes. And that’s why they also need to be able to look at the big picture. There are many factors that can be involved as seniors age – from medications and their...

Ability to Perform Activities of Daily Living Could Decide Housing Accommodations

When elderly individuals consider moving into an assisted living facility, such as Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, Colo., a number of variables come into play. Among them is the individual’s ability to perform activities of daily living. You’ve probably heard the phrase before, but maybe you aren’t sure what it means. Often referred to as ADLs, activities of daily living are basically self-care tasks – or the tasks people complete when getting up each day, such as showering, eating and going to the bathroom, or before going to bed each night. They include, but are not limited to: • Bathing or showering; • Dressing; • Performing personal hygiene and grooming, such as brushing teeth or combing hair; • Eating; • Transferring, such as getting in and out of a bed or a chair; • Ambulating or walking; • Toileting. The ability to perform ADLs without assistance is linked directly to a person’s ability to live independently. When an elderly person’s ability to complete these tasks starts to diminish, it may be time to consider looking at assisted living or an arrangement other than living independently. For some, it can mean staying at home with some in-home assistance. For others, it may mean a move to an assisted living community, such as Country Home in Parker. If an assisted living facility is chosen, your elderly loved one will be given an assessment on the level of care that they need when they move to their new home. What this means is, they are evaluated on their ability to perform ADLs. The evaluation can include everything from the person’s ability...

Medical Alert Devices Save Lives

I’m a strong believer in medical alert devices, especially for people living alone. In last month’s blog, I provided basic information and questions to ask if you or a loved one is in need of these life-saving devices. This month, I’m going to make it more personal. I’m also going to urge children to pay for these medical alert devices if their aging parents or elderly loved ones don’t see a need for the expense. Working in the senior care industry as the owner of Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, Colo., I often hear stories of elderly individuals who have fallen, including some who have died because they could not summon help. One woman fell outside after taking out her garbage on a winter day in Colorado. She died alone in the cold. Another story involves my own mother. (I said I was going to make this more personal.) My mom lived alone in Michigan. Despite repeated pleas from my brother and me, she refused to invest in a medical alert device. What happened next is sad. And it’s a situation that could have been prevented. She fell in her garage. Since she lived alone and didn’t have a medical alert device, no one could come to her rescue. It was hours before police arrived. She died trying to reach the door to her home. If she’d made it inside, she might have been able to reach a phone and call for help. But she never got that far. Please don’t let this happen to you or a loved one. Take it from me. It’s hard enough to lose a...

Tips for Finding the Best Medical Alert Device When 24/7 Care Isn’t Available

Many people are familiar with medical alert devices because of the advertisements featuring an elderly person on the floor, saying: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” While some people think these ads are funny, a fall for an elderly person is serious business. Being rescued can be a life-saving experience for many elderly folks, especially those who live alone or have health conditions, such as uncontrolled diabetes, Alzheimer’s or epilepsy. At Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, we offer this assistance with the constant quality care we provide our residents 24/7. But for those elderly individuals who still live in their homes, here is some information about these devices. They’ve come a long way since they were first introduced in the 1970s. For example, they now offer GPS to locate the individual outside the home, automate fall detection and provide two-way communication with call centers. And there are a lot of options on the market, so I highly recommend you do thorough research before deciding which device would work best for your situation or loved one. To help, here are a few questions to ask: Does your alert device work outside of the home? Do you provide a choice of wristband and neck pendant? Do you have help buttons that can be wall-mounted near the floor in multiple rooms in case a customer falls and isn’t wearing the pendant? Are you willing to contact multiple people in case the user needs help? This can include emergency services, a friend that lives nearby or a family member. Does your device work for our specific needs? For example, a stroke survivor may need a device...

Looking Back at 2016 as We Begin 2017 at Country Home Assisted Living

As we settle into a new year at Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, we feel blessed for the wonderful residents with whom we’ve spent so many good times. Those good times include a variety of Christmas celebrations in December, such as a visit from Steven St. James, who sang at our Christmas party on Dec. 4, and a visit from Santa Claus on Dec. 19. But these types of activities aren’t limited to the holiday season. At Country Home Assisted Living, we provide year-round activities, some of which are specifically designed to match the interests of our residents. Regularly scheduled events include weekly music therapy with Amy Wilson, a board-certified music therapist; our weekly library program; and a weekly piano program with Seth Drake and Andrew Schindler. We also have some surprises, such as watching the wild turkeys that hang around our assisted living facility located in the peaceful countryside and the training of owner Linda Melbardis’ new horse. But we do much more, including group outings and other scheduled activities. We regularly attend productions and other events at Parker’s PACE Center, as well as scheduled lunches out on the town. At Halloween, for example, we went to P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. We also celebrate milestones together at our country home in rural Elbert County. Individual’s birthdays are always a highlight for all of our residents, who enjoy the festivities and yummy birthday cakes. Let’s not forget the art projects. In 2016, our residents decorated rocks to brighten the walkway into Country Home. For 2017, we have plans to do more crafty projects, such as bringing new life...

Some Tips to Enjoy the Busy Holiday Season

As we enter the final stretch of the 2016 holiday season, I’d like to take a moment to encourage families to cherish the moments they have together. Instead of stressing over the elaborate food, decorations and gifts, try to keep it simple. Typically, people try to do too many things during the holidays. Because of that, they become tired and stressed out. In the end, they don’t enjoy the season or being with loved ones as much as they could. Instead of trying to do it all, select a few of your family’s favorite ways of celebrating and focus on those. For example, if your family members and friends enjoy singing Christmas carols, make sure you allot time to do that. If you like to reminisce about holidays in the past, be sure to provide a setting where everyone has a chance to share their favorite memories. Maybe you have some family members and friends who enjoy baking holiday treats. Think how much they’ll enjoy doing that together. Not only will there be goodies that they can share, but they’ll also have fond memories that will last into the future. At Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, I like to come up with ways to create memories for all of our residents and our families. I know everyone appreciates it. Another great tip that I heard recently is to extend your holiday season. There are many advantages to making a week or two in January part of your holiday celebration. I know families that actually look forward to getting together after the traditional holiday season. That gives them time...

National Family Caregivers Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time when all Americans are encouraged to acknowledge and pay tribute to those individuals who look after their elderly family members, friends and neighbors.

Dehydration can Take a Toll on the Elderly

Dehydration can create health issues for people of all ages, but it can be especially serious for the elderly. And it can often be hard to detect, despite the fact that dehydration can have such a big impact on someone’s health. Proper hydration allows people to regulate their temperature through sweating, eliminate bodily waste and maintain blood pressure. When people are dehydrated – or losing more water than they take in – they can become confused, weak and even develop tract infections or pneumonia. In fact, dehydration and the delayed diagnosis of it has made it one of the 10 most frequent diagnoses for admitting people for Medicare hospitalizations, according to the Health Care Financing Administration. The Causes of Dehydration So let’s look at several of the causes for elderly dehydration: Medications – Some medications taken by seniors are diuretics, while other cause patients to sweat. Both of these can be dehydrating. Decreased kidney function – As people age, their bodies lose kidney function, which means they are less likely to conserve fluid. Decreased thirst – The sense of thirst decreases as people age. Elderly individuals don’t think about drinking water or other fluids. Also, it’s harder for them to get up and get a drink when they are thirsty. Or, they don’t want to have to get up to go to the bathroom. Key Indicators of Dehydration Now that we’ve discussed some of the top causes, let’s look at some of the key indicators of dehydration. These are signs that we monitor daily at Country Home Assisted Living in Parker. They include confusion, dizziness or headaches, difficulty walking, dry...

Maintaining Your Finances While Care for Your Aging Parents

Children who find themselves caring for their aging parents often can lose track of their own situation. They may be meticulously watching their parent(s)’s finances while neglecting their own. They also may consider quitting or cutting back on hours worked in order to find time to be a good caregiver. In this continuation of my series on caring for aging parents and as the owner of an assisted living facility in Parker, Colorado, let me offer the following tips… 1. Look at your finances and your budget in several ways. First, make a care-giving budget. By this I mean, put together a comprehensive look at your options and what you could be spending on care-giving. That could be anything from giving up your job to take over this time-consuming task, to finding an assisted living facility that provides health care and other support. If you quit your job or cut back on hours worked, you’ll also need to take into account the benefits offered by your job, such as health insurance and retirement plans, which could be costly to replace. You also should look at your future and whether quitting a job could damage your prospects of finding work in later years. In this review, don’t forget to include your parent(s)’s resources and how they might come into play. Second, maintain your own budget. Track your income and expenses, and pay off your debt and bills. If time is becoming an issue, consider auto-pay for some of your bills. That way, they won’t be overlooked and go unpaid, resulting in needless late payment or interest charges. 2. Save for...

Sandwich Generation Month

It’s a situation not many adults thought they’d find themselves in – taking care of both their parents and their children. In fact, most people never expect to have a parent living with them, especially while their children are still at home. But it is happening more and more with an estimated 9 million+ Americans finding themselves a part of what is being called the Sandwich Generation. Since July is National Sandwich Generation Month, I thought I’d take this opportunity to look at these amazing people. First, let’s define them in general terms. Social worker Dorothy Miller originally coined the term in 1981, referring to women in their 30s and 40s who were taking care of both their children and parents. That has changed over the years to include male caregivers and people who are in their 50s. The situation has developed for three reasons: Delayed parenting. Many couples are waiting to start their families in their mid to late 30s and even early 40s. Increased life spans. With the better health care that is now available, people are living much longer. Finances. The recession, lack of retirement planning or lack of employment opportunities can bring both parents and children to the home of the middle-aged adults. While being part of the Sandwich Generation can be stressful, time-consuming and a financial burden, there are some benefits. One, in particular, is the wonderful family bonding that can occur. Younger children can really get to know their grandparents and vice versa. Elderly parents and their children can also get to know each other on a much different, deeper level that is...

Sharing the Responsibility of Caring for Aging Parents

No matter how close and tight-knit a family is in its earlier years, tension and controversies can arise when taking care of aging parents. If brothers and/or sisters are available and actively involved, the care-giving burden can be shared among all the siblings, which is great. But it also complicates matters because emotions and differences of opinion can come into play as everyone tries to reach an agreement on emotional, medical and financial decisions. In this second part of my series on caring for elderly parents, let’s look at some techniques that siblings can use to help them share the care-giving responsibilities. To make it easier for all family members, be sure to focus first on good communication and then on planning. I recommend holding a family meeting – or at the very least a family phone conference -to clarify the situation, including the medical, emotional and financial factors that may be involved. In this session, family members should be able to talk openly about their concerns and desires. For example, parents should be allowed to tell their children what type of advanced health care they would prefer and whether they want to live at home or somewhere else. Children should be able to explain how they can help, whether it’s their time, financial assistance or even offering their home as a living option. Accept Each Other’s Differences Since dealing with aging parents can create different reactions among the children, a family meeting can be a good opportunity to share feelings and ideas. Be sure to listen to each family member so that you understand where they are coming...

Parent-Child Role Reversal and its Challenges

It can be a difficult process when children become the responsible parties for their aging parents. Both sides have to adjust when the younger generation comes in to take care of and make decisions for their mother and/or father who raised them and made all of their early-life decisions. Watching parents lose their independence, due to physical and/or mental reasons, can be extremely challenging to deal with. For some, it can come as quite a shock, which is compounded by the added responsibility. As a caregiver for the elderly, I am starting a series this month about the various issues that people face as their parents age. I’ll talk about everything from today’s topic – role reversal – to finances and sharing responsibilities with siblings. For children in a new role as the “adult” or “parental figure” in the relationship, one of the best suggestions I can make is to make sure you communicate with your parents, so that you can learn and respect their desires. That means having candid conversations with them about upcoming choices and decisions that will have to be made, such as living arrangements, finances and medical care, including advanced directives or living wills. You also need to make sure you don’t go overboard. As children, it won’t do you any good to spend every waking hour visiting them and making sure they are taken care of. If they move to an assisted living facility, such as Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, you will know they are well taken care of – even if you are not there. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit....

Introducing Health First Colorado …

Colorado’s Medicaid program is changing its name. Beginning May 1, 2016, the program will be known as Health First Colorado.  Why should you care and why is the owner of an assisted living facility in Elbert County writing about this topic? The answer is simple. If you are looking at assisted living options for you or a loved one, Medicaid may be available to offer some financial assistance. As you peruse and research your options, you should now “Google” Health First Colorado.  Medicaid is funded in part by the federal government and in part by the states. Because states are given some flexibility, the available Medicaid assistance for assisted living changes with each state. Colorado offers assistance through the Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver. As a side note, it also refers to assisted living as “alternative care facilities.”   Not all facilities that offer alternative care accept Medicaid – or Health First Colorado. At Country Home Assisted Living, we are one of the few in the Parker area that does. In states, like Colorado, where the assisted is offered through waivers instead of general Medicaid dollars, you’ll learn that there are enrollment caps. Since only a limited number of individuals can receive assistance at any given time and since there are a limited number of facilities that accept Medicaid, waiting lists are common. That’s why I want you to plan ahead and be informed about all of your options.  By the way, the rebranding of Colorado Medicaid’s program to Health First Colorado is part of a state effort to give public health care a better image. “Over the past few...