Posted by: wrcseniorservices | July 24, 2014

Talking to Your Parents about Aging Services

It’s the conversation you never want to have. How do you approach your parents – the folks who raised you, changed your diapers, helped you through your first broken heart, supported and advised you – about planning for their future?

This is why too often families find themselves in a crisis and don’t know where Mom’s insurance cards are, who her doctors are, where she would want to recover from her stroke. Instead of being with Mom, they are looking through files at her house trying to find the info they need, checking on rehab options in the area, making phone calls, debating with siblings, worrying…This is the reason why you need to have the conversation.

It doesn’t have to be one, big conversation. It can be a series of casual conversations over the years or months, that hit on specific topics – insurance, care preferences, advance directives.

So how do you talk to your parents about aging services and planning for the future?

Searching for Long Term Care OptionsTip #1 – Do some research. Learn more about aging services yourself and what options are available. We’ve written a basic guide to long term care to get you started. You can also find a large amount of information online. Talk to friends, family or co-workers who may already be accessing these types of services. Ask them what they’ve learned, and if there is anything they wish they had done differently. The better educated you are on the options out there, the easier the conversation can go.

Tip #2 – Start early. Don’t wait for the crisis or the decree from the doctor of a chronic health condition. Start talking about aging services early, when your parents are healthy and independent. You could even use that as a conversation starter. “Dad, it’s really great to see you so active and healthy. I have other friends’ parents who aren’t. I want you to always be able to maintain the lifestyle you want. If you should have some health issues down the road, it’s important to me to know what you would want. Have you and Mom talked about that at all?”

Tip #3 – Don’t announce it’s time for The Conversation. When everybody’s sitting down at the family dinner table at Christmas, it’s probably not the best time to torpedo your parents with “Since everyone is here, I think we need to talk about what you guys have done to plan for your future.” This is a sensitive and often uncomfortable topic between parents and children. It’s probably best to bring it up in a Christmas with Elderly Parentsmore intimate setting and not with all the grandkids present. Or if you are going to bring it up, do so in a less direct way by using Tip #4.

Tip #4 – Ease into the discussion. The best way to engage your parents into discussing their future is using real life stories or news events as conversation starters. Maybe you have a co-worker, friend or relative going through a difficult time dealing with these kinds of issues. Sometimes these situations erupt into arguments between siblings or children and parents. You could start the conversation with “It’s terrible to see a family fighting in a situation like that. It could have all been avoided if they’d had a conversation with their mother about her wishes before this happened. That makes me think, Mom, we’ve never talked about situations like that in our family…”

You could also use a news event, a movie or TV show storyline to help start the conversation. “Wow..I can’t imagine if something like that happened to our family. What would we do?”

Another way to ease into the discussion is to make your own plans, and then share with your parents. “After seeing the news last week about that terrible car accident, it really made me think. Would my family know what to do if that were me? So I decided I should draw up an advanced health directive and will. Have you guys done that? Where do you keep your important documents? Is there anything else I should be planning to do?” This will let your parents share with you what they’ve done, give advicePreparing for the Future and open the discussion into other areas.

Tip #5 – Follow some basic communication tips. Remember these are still your parents. Broach the conversation with a respectful attitude. They’ve spent all your life being your parent. They don’t want to be talked to like a child, or someone who doesn’t know or understand what they are talking about. Don’t do all the talking. Really listen to what they are saying. What their concerns are, what their wishes might be, what they aren’t saying.

Here are some more great communication tips from AARP on the topic.

The important thing is starting the initial conversation. Even if the first time you bring it up it doesn’t go well, don’t give up. End the conversation expressing you are just bringing the topic up because you love them and want to make sure you do the right things for them just like they did for you. Then try again another day. If you are really having a difficult time talking to your parents about these issues, maybe another family member would have better luck or a neutral third party like their pastor or doctor.

For more great tips on starting the conversation, check out this guide from Caring.com.

Dawn Wells
dwells@wrc.org
Director of Marketing and Communications
WRC Senior Services

Posted by: wrcseniorservices | December 19, 2013

caregiverThis time of year, adult children from all over the country make their way “home” to spend the holidays with their family. Perhaps you have elderly parents you haven’t seen in awhile. Your sibling, who lives closer, tells you that Mom fell last month, or you have begun to notice they seem more forgetful during your weekly phone chat. This is the perfect opportunity to see how Mom and Dad are doing in their own environment. As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Better to observe issues now and do something about them before a major crisis arises.

We have a checklist that you can go through using your powers of observation to see how Mom or Dad are faring in their home. Perhaps you’ll discover they could use some supportive services to do a little better.

Look at their appearance while you’re home -

Are they wearing the same clothes?
Do their clothes have stains?
Is their hair clean and combed?
Was Dad always clean-shaven and now he isn’t?
Did Mom always wear make-up and now she doesn’t?
Have they lost weight?
Do they have an odor?

If you observe any of these signs, your loved one may be having difficulty taking care of their own personal care needs (bathing, dressing, grooming, laundry). They could benefit from a home care aide coming to assist with these things.

Look around their home while you’re there.

Is it more cluttered?
Do you detect any unpleasant odors?
Does the refrigerator and/or cupboards smell?
Is there an unusual amount of dust on furniture or dirt on the floor?
Are they emptying their garbage?
Do they have expired food?

If you observe some of these issues, your loved one may be having trouble with housekeeping and taking care of their living environment. They could benefit from a home care aide coming in and assisting with these types of things.

Pay attention to their mental status as you visit and catch up.

Do they call you by name?
Do they speak the same, or do you notice a change in vocabulary, speed or volume?
Are they keeping up with the news?
Are they still participating in outside activities or hobbies?
Do they talk about the future?
Do they seem more emotional, crying easily?
Does their personality seem different?
Do you notice they are confused a lot?
Do they ask you the same questions?
Are they taking medications as prescribed?Medications

If you notice concerns in these areas, your loved one may be having memory issues, an infection that is affecting their mental status, or depression. They could benefit from companion care or nursing care to treat an underlying health condition.

Finally, what do you know about their health condition?

Have they mentioned falling in the last three months?
Have they had a hospital stay or ER visit in the last three months?
Do they have diabetes, arthritis, congestive heart failure, COPD or cancer?
Have they ever had a stroke?
Have they been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/dementia?
Do they have any open wounds?
Do they take a lot of medication?

All of these items are health concerns that if not managed aggressively or appropriately could lead to worsening problems or even placement in long term care. If you note items on this list that concern you, your loved one may benefit from skilled home health services from a visiting nurse or therapist.

Home care is a great preventative measure to improve little issues now before they become a health crisis down the road. WRC’s home care agency In Home Solutions even offers “Living Well” memberships for that purpose. Clients purchase an annual or six month package and receive an array of home care services each month (like help with chores and housekeeping). Psstt….this is a great gift idea for elderly loved ones.

Now if you notice things that concern you, you are going to want to discuss them with your parents, but probably not over Christmas dinner. In the next blog I’ll help you with that by sharing tips for how to bring up the tough subject of planning for the future with your aging parents.

In the meantime, WRC wishes you and your loved ones a very happy and healthy holiday season!

Dawn Wells
Director of Marketing and Communications
dwise@wrc.org

Posted by: wrcseniorservices | November 26, 2013

The Scoop on Home Care

In Home Solutions nurse with a client.

In Home Solutions nurse with a client.

If you asked your elderly loved one today if they want to stay in their own home as long as possible, what do you think they would say? Of course! Since November is National Home Care Month, let’s look at some common questions people have about home care.

What is the difference between home care and home health care?

Home care describes the non-medical care provided by a home care aide to assist with activities of day-to-day living. Home care services include:

  • Help with personal hygiene  (such as bathing and showering, shaving, oral care, getting dressed and grooming)
  • Cooking
  • Reminders and assistance to take medication
  • Shopping and errands
  • Housekeeping (vacuuming, dusting, mopping, cleaning bathroom, etc)
  • Laundry
  • Socialization and companionship

Home care can vary from a couple hours a month to around-the-clock care, according to your needs.

Home health care is skilled nursing or rehabilitation services provided within a person’s home by licensed professional nurses and therapists. Typically home health care is short-term while you recover from surgery, illness or injury or learn to maintain a chronic disease like diabetes. Here are some examples of home health care services:

  • Wound care
  • Medication management
  • Pain management
  • Injections, IV therapies and lab draws
  • Cather, ostomy or colostomy care
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy
  • Management of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and congestive heart failure
  • Nutritional guidance
  • Remote monitoring

Does Medicare pay for home care or home health care?
Medicare does not pay for home care. It may be paid for by long term care insurance, veteran’s benefits or through assistance from the Area Agency on Aging, but is often paid for out-of-pocket.

Medicare covers home health care if a doctor writes a prescription for it and the patient is considered “homebound.” This doesn’t mean the person can never leave their home. It means that it is physically demanding for them to do so, and their outings aren’t very frequent. Going to church, doctor’s appointments, the beauty shop or out to dinner once a week does not disqualify a person from receiving home health care covered by Medicare. Some other health insurances will also cover home health care.

What are the benefits of home care?
Privacy – you are in the comfort of your own home

Prevention – home care is a great preventative measure to avoid hospital stays and ER visits.

Quicker healing – studies have shown  an individual healing for an illness or surgery bounces back more quickly in their own home.

Reduced risk of infection

More affordable than in-patient care – if a patient doesn’t need 24 hour care, the cost of home care is much more economical than living in a long term care community. 4 hours/day of home care would cost roughly $70, compared to $230/day in a nursing home or $91/day in a personal care home.

How do I get home care or home health care for my loved one?If you are interested in home care or home health services, contact a local agency that provides care. In Jefferson and Clarion Counties and parts of Elk, Armstrong, Clearfield, Venango and Forest counties, WRC offers our agency In Home Solutions.

For outside the area, ask for recommendations, use your yellow pages or Google to find local agencies, or call the local Area Agency on Aging. All agencies are not alike, and remember you get what you pay for. Here are some great questions you can ask when interviewing agencies.

If your loved one is hospitalized, the doctor or nurse may suggest home health care to help them continue their recovery at home. In this case they will write a prescription for the care and then  you have a choice of who you want to provide the care. That’s why doing research beforehand is so important. Then you’ll know what agency you would like to use, rather than just being assigned to an agency randomly.

If you’d like more info about home care or home health care, call In Home Solutions toll-free at 1-800-972-9363, and they’d be happy to assist you.

Dawn Wells
Director of Marketing and Communications
dawn@wrc.org

Posted by: wrcseniorservices | September 1, 2013

Ask A Nurse About Cholesterol

Q. High cholesterol runs in my family. What is it, and what can I do about it?  

 

Meet our nurse Kelly

Meet our nurse Kelly

A. September is National Cholesterol Education Month and a perfect time to answer this question. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the body. Our bodies need some cholesterol to function. However some people have too much cholesterol in the body, perhaps because of genetics such as what you describe or an unhealthy diet. When there’s too much cholesterol, your arteries become clogged, raising your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Since you have a family history of high cholesterol, it’s definitely a good idea to ask your doctor to check your levels. What results do you want? Your total cholesterol should be less than 200. Your LDL level should be less than 100, and your HDL level should be 60 or higher. What are LDL and HDL? You’ve probably heard people talk about good and bad cholesterol. Good cholesterol is called HDL. It helps clean fat and the bad cholesterol from your blood vessels. Remember H stands for Healthy and the Higher your HDL cholesterol the better. LDL is the bad cholesterol responsible for clogging your arteries. Remember L stands for Lousy and the Lower it is the better.

If you discover your numbers are higher than ideal, your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes first, followed by medication if that doesn’t work. The biggest lifestyle changes you can make to improve your cholesterol are losing weight, exercising regularly and quitting smoking. Cut back on foods high in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol. Instead eat more fruit, veggies, whole grains, beans, fish, turkey, chicken and lean cuts of meat in your diet.

If your doctor does recommend medication, ask about the best time to take it. Many times, nighttime dosing is recommended because once you stop eating, your liver senses lower levels of cholesterol in the body and starts making more.

- Kelly Snell
Director of Professional Services
In Home Solutions PLUS

Posted by: wrcseniorservices | July 29, 2013

A Splash of Color

Last week, a coworker shared with me a lesson from her morning devotional, and it’s stuck with me. On the days when things aren’t going as planned, don’t look at it as a bad day. Think of it as a little color added to your life. What a great change in perspective, and a thought that can be helpful to those caring for elderly loved ones.

babyIt reminded me of those black and white photos with an element in color. Beautiful images, much more striking and interesting than the original. I’d like to live my life that way. Instead of sinking into negativity when things aren’t going like I want, enjoy the splash of color and the spark it’s bringing to life. Many valuable life lessons I’ve gained are from the colorful days. I thought I’d share a few in today’s blog.

Sometimes the only thing you have control over is your reactions. For those of us who are control freaks, when your day careens off track and takes the control out of your hands, alas all it not lost. There is always one thing you can still have control over – how you react. Whether you scream, cry or laugh, it’s your choice, and no one else’s.

Scars tell our story. You may have a scar you hate from a fall, a surgery, a burn. Whatever changed your skin happened on a colorful day. Don’t hate it. It’s just one part of your story. Figure out what that part of your story taught you – endurance, patience, caution. Then next time you see that scar, use it as a reminder of that. I am tough. I am brave. I fought a battle, and I’m still here.

Someday your pain might change someone else’s life for the better. Caregiving is not an easy job. You will have lots of colorful days. Sometime you may cross paths with someone going through the same struggles you once did. Sharing your experiences, tips or just offering words of encouragement may make all the difference in their lives.

Think of some of the influential people in history who used their pain to change lives. Oprah Winfrey was raised in poverty and was sexually abused for years. She has used her pain to help millions of others through her talk show, movies, radio, motivational books, magazines and philanthropy. Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing at the age of 1 1/2.  Because of her pain, she went on to become a famous author and inspirational speaker. She stood up for the rights of people with disabilities and was influential in the founding of the American Civil Liberties Union.

colorsplashflowersAs I prepared to write this blog, I learned how to manipulate these two color photos from Laurelbrooke Landing in Photoshop. They didn’t come about naturally. I read some tutorials and experimented. This is what we have to do with our perspective too. Some of you may be born optimists, but for those who struggle, it will take some learning and some effort to see a bad day as a splash of color in our lives. But what a difference it will make when you do!

Please feel free to comment below, and share insights you may have gained from some splash of color in your life.

- Dawn Wise
Director of Marketing and Communications
WRC Senior Services
dwise@wrc.org

Posted by: wrcseniorservices | May 15, 2013

When Forgetfulness is Something More

caregiverWe see it everyday. When it first appears, but never when it goes away. We see it in anxiety and restlessness, tears and laughter. We see it in words and silence. We see it in all shapes, all sizes, all symptoms, all stages. We see the lost. Every day.

Nearly 5 million people in the U.S. have dementia. Over half of individuals over the age of 85. Dementia is a vague term that describes several diseases or conditions that develop when nerve cells in the brain die or no longer function as they should. The most well-known type of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease.

It is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling to care for the elderly, but it’s also heartbreaking as we watch the residents and clients who have become part of our family struggle with health issues like dementia.

We know you are dealing with it at home too as caregivers of elderly loved ones. That is why we try to share with you tips and resources to help. This time I’m going to talk about warning signs. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease and most forms of dementia today, there are treatments that may slow or halt progression or help alleviate symptoms, particularly when started early. In addition, memory loss can also be caused by issues that can be easily remedied such as vitamin deficiencies or medication side effects.

When does memory loss become a cause for concern and not just a normal part of aging?

When it disrupts daily life – it is normal to sometimes forget names or appointments and then remember them later. But if your loved one is forgetting recently learned information or important dates or events, or keeps asking you for the same info over and over, there may be reason for concern

When they struggle to follow a plan or process  – when your elderly mother who loves to cook starts struggling with following a familiar recipe or can’t seem to balance her checkbook like she used to, this may be a sign that something isn’t right.

When they can’t complete familiar tasks – such as driving to their favorite store, operating the microwave, playing their favorite game of dominoes

When they are confused about time or place - when a loved one can’t recall what day of the week it is, after really thinking about it, or gets confused about where they are, this is another warning sign

When language skills decline – a person with dementia will struggle with finding and using the right words in a conversation or when writing a letter or email

When they begin to misplace things with increasing frequency – Did you just think “Uh-oh! I do that all the time!” I do too. I’m looking for either my cell phone or car keys on a daily basis.  The difference between normal absentmindedness and memory loss from dementia is the ability to retrace your steps to find the lost item. For example – I can’t find my cellphone. When did I last have it?  Right before I let the dog out, because I had just talked to my brother. I go to the back door and find the phone laying on the dehumidifier where I absentmindedly placed it while I let the dog out.  The person with dementia cannot retrace their steps.

What should you do if you are worried about any of these warning signs in an elderly loved one? It’s time to talk to the doctor. Here’s a nice blog from the Alzheimer’s Association with tips about how to bring up the subject with your loved one and a checklist to prepare for the doctor’s appointment.

WRC Senior Services will be offering free memory screenings at our upcoming WRC Healthy Aging Fair on June 4 at Laurelbrooke Landing in Brookville. This does not replace a doctor visit but can help reveal an issue or provide a baseline for future memory testing.

If you are already caring for an individual with dementia, you may be interested in the new enhanced dementia services we started offering at Edgewood Heights personal care home in New Bethlehem this month. Join us for an Open House this Sunday, May 19 from 1 – 3 p.m. to learn more.

- Dawn Wise
Director of Marketing and Communications
WRC Senior Services
dwise@wrc.org

Posted by: wrcseniorservices | February 1, 2013

Tax Help for Seniors

Well it’s that time of the year again. Tax season. Everyone collectively sigh in disgust. But good news! This blog is going to share some tips for seniors to help you save on your taxes. Everyone collectively cheer and imagine balloons and confetti. :)

Pennsylvania’s Property Tax and Rent Rebate.  Whether you are a homeowner or renter, you can get up to a $650 standard rebate.  To be eligible, you must be age 65 or older; a widower or widow age 50 or older; or a person with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 annually for homeowners and $15,000 for renters. Note, when calculating your income, you can exclude half of your Social Security income, Supplemental Security Income and Tier 1 Railroad Retirement benefits. The deadline to apply for your rebate for 2012 property tax or rent is June 30, 2013. Rebates are mailed out starting July 1. To file, download the form or call 1-800-362-2050 to order a form. If you have filed for the rebate before, you should automatically receive the form in the mail.

Standard Deduction – if you were born before January 2, 1948, you will qualify for an additional standard deduction for 2012 of $1,150 or $1,450 if single or head of household. If you are blind or partially blind, the deduction is even higher. You’ll have to file with IRS Form 1040 or 1040A to claim.

Medical and Dental Expenses – for many seniors on a fixed income, medical expenses can easily exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income. In that case, completing an itemized deduction makes more sense. Nursing home care, home care, assisted living or personal care, insurance premiums, transportation expenses for medical care, co-pays, medications, long term care insurance, wheelchairs, dentures, hearing aids and eyeglasses are all deductible. Click here for a complete list and directions for filing.

CalculatorCredit for the Elderly or Disabled - to qualify for this tax credit, you and/or your spouse have to be 65 or older and have an adjusted gross income limit of approximately $17,500 if single or $25,000 if married.  The maximum amount for this credit in 2012 is $1,125. Use Schedule R to calculate how much your credit will be.

Sold your house in 2012? If you  lived in your house two of the last five years, the profit you make for the sale (up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for married) is not taxable. Here’s more about capital gains.

Free tax preparation - Need help filing your taxes? Call your local Area Agency on Aging. Most have volunteers who will prepare and e-file your taxes for free. Some restrictions may apply. Here are our local AAA numbers:
Jefferson County   814-849-3096
Clarion County  814-226-4640
Elk County  814-776-2191
Clearfield County 814-765-2696.

If you are the caregiver of an elderly loved one, there are also ways you can save! Did you know you can list an elderly loved one as a dependent on your tax return and then deduct costs you pay for their medical or long term care? For more information, check out this blog from TurboTax or even more detailed info from the IRS.

Know of a tax tip, we didn’t mention here? Please comment and share!

- Dawn Wise
WRC Senior Services
dwise@wrc.org

Posted by: wrcseniorservices | January 3, 2013

The Breaking Point

Everyone has a breaking point, when stress overwhelms. Some of us cry, some lash out in anger, some retreat into isolation and some suffer health issues. At WRC Senior Services, we know how stressful caring for an elderly loved one can be. Here are some tips to help you avoid that breaking point.

1. Make the most of community resources – there are resources out there to help with financial management, insurance questions, transportation, housekeeping, meals, socialization opportunities, placement in a facility and much more. The improvement to your stress level and health is well worth the investment. Depending on your loved one’s finances, there could even be little to no cost for these services!

Start out by calling your local Area Agency on Aging and ask what resources area available. You can also contact any of our WRC communities to point you in the right direction. Disease-specific organizations can help as well, such as the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. Stay organized with the info you learn by placing it in files for easy reference in the future.

Seniors2. Ask for help.  Even if you are the primary caregiver, other family members and friends should be helping. Have a hard time asking for help or don’t know what to ask for? Here’s a great guide.

3. Take a break.  Here’s a few ways to do it. WRC offers DayBreak at Laurelbrooke Landing in Brookville. Clients can come to DayBreak a few days a month, a few days a week, five days a week – whatever works for you. If you don’t live near Brookville, do an internet search to find adult day service providers in your area.

If you need a longer break or want to take a vacation, all of WRC’s personal care homes offer respite or temporary stays for your loved one. If you would prefer they stay in their own home, a home care agency such as our In Home Solutions PLUS is a great option. Other ways to take a break – ask a family member, friend or neighbor to visit with your loved one while you’re away. Even getting out and doing something you enjoy for a few hours will help lower your stress.

4. Let it out.  You might be holding in a lot of feelings – frustration, guilt, fear, anger. It will eventually manifest itself in other ways like health problems of your own. Find a local caregiver support group to attend. In Clarion, there is a group that meets the 2nd Sunday of the month at 3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Clarion. This is open to anyone and is not a church group. For more info, call 814-226-8237.  Brookville has a dementia/Alzheimer’s caregiver support group that meets the 2nd Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the hospital. For more info, call 814-849-2312.

If you are more comfortable talking to someone on the phone, here’s some places you can call:

AARP Caregiving Support: 1-877-333-5885
Alzheimer’s Association:
1-800-272-3900
American Cancer Society: 1-800-227-2345
National Center on Caregiving: 1-800-445-8106

There is also groups you can get involved in online:

AARP Online Caregiver Support Group
Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver Forums
American Cancer Society Online Communities
Family Caregiver Alliance Online Support Group

Thank you for what you do every day to care for your elderly loved one. Please on’t hesitate to reach out for help. Feel free to share any tips you may have by posting a comment.

Wishing you all the best in 2013!

- Dawn Wise, Director of Marketing and Communications
WRC Senior Services
dwise@wrc.org

Posted by: wrcseniorservices | November 21, 2012

No Blue Christmas for Me

Thought I would share our Ask A Nurse column that will be printing in the Brookville Mirror in December. A very fitting topic for this time of the year.

Q. My elderly mom always gets down around the holidays. Is there anything I can do to help?

A. The holiday season is supposed to be a time for good cheer, celebration and family – or so the movies tell us. But the truth is, as we age, the holidays are a sharp reminder of how much life has changed and the loved ones we have lost. It’s perfectly normally your mom is feeling sad.

There are things you can do to help her. First, can you identify something specific that is causing her sadness?

Is she missing someone who has passed away? If so, be sure to acknowledge that loved one at family gatherings. Make a toast in their honor and spend time sharing favorite stories. Maybe she would like to make a trip to the cemetery to place a wreath or poinsettia on their grave.

Is she lonely? During this busy time of the year, elderly loved ones may feel isolated or even forgotten. You’ll have to make time to contact her more during the holidays. If you live far away, it’s making extra phone calls, perhaps while you’re on the way to shop, and encouraging other family members to call too. If you live close, it’s visiting more often, even for just fifteen minutes. This will help remind her she is cared for and loved.

Does she feel left out? Perhaps she always hosted holiday gatherings and now is unable to do so. Help her still feel a part of the planning and organizing by asking her questions, getting her input and keeping her informed of plans, menu choices and family news.

Make new traditions. Laurelbrooke Landing holds a Light the Night event, including carriage rides, Santa, a bell choir, carolers, and other activities for all ages to enjoy together.

Is she unable to celebrate the holidays like she used to? Was she always a cookie baker or loved to decorate? Help bring those traditions alive again. She would love it if you or your children asked for her help to bake a family tradition or decorate her home. Even if she is living in a long term care community, you could bring her a plate of her favorite Christmas cookies and help decorate her room.

If her sadness lasts longer than the holiday season, and she is having trouble with sleep, loss of appetite, or loss of interest in things she used to enjoy, she may be experiencing clinical depression, which can lead to serious illness if untreated. If you suspect clinical depression, it’s time to talk to her doctor. She may even benefit from home health care. Our nurses assess and monitor depression symptoms and provide education and referrals for other services and treatments. For more information, call In Home Solutions PLUS at 814-849-5913. Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and joyful holiday season!

The Ask a Nurse column is brought to you by Brookville resident Kelly Snell, RN, who has been the Director of Professional Services for In Home Solutions PLUS since 2007. 

Posted by: wrcseniorservices | October 22, 2012

Cherish the Moments

I steeled myself as I walked up the hallway at McKinley Health Center at Laurelbrooke Landing toward my grandma’s room. She had been living there for about a year and was in the advanced stages of vascular dementia. She didn’t know me as her granddaughter anymore, but still recognized me as someone she cared about as her eyes lit up with a smile. She would still hug me, hold my hand and listen while I talked to her even though she was rarely able to respond. When I would leave, even if she had said nothing else during our visit, she would still manage to say, “I love you too” as she patted my cheeks with both hands. It was the little things like that I held onto.

Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia are heartbreaking. It’s awful to watch your loved one  slip away. You have to find joy in those little moments, cling to your own memories of them, laugh and mourn. At WRC Senior Services, we daily care for many individuals with memory loss. We know too well how hard it is on the caregiver. That is why we try to regularly offer resources to help. Since November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month, I thought this would be a good time to share some of those in a blog.

This Thursday, October 25, we will be holding a free educational program at Edgewood Heights personal care home in New Bethlehem from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. called “Tips for the Caregiver: Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia.” We still have room for some more folks to join us.

November 13 is National Memory Screening Day, and we will again be offering free memory screenings at our four personal care homes. You may wonder why get a memory screening when there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia? Well, there are some causes of memory loss that are easily treatable, such as medication side effects, vitamin deficiencies, underactive or overactive thyroid, depression or anxiety, infections and poor sleep.

If the diagnosis is indeed Alzheimer’s Disease, starting treatment early can improve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. It also gives you more time to plan for the future, develop support networks and get involved in clinical trials. For vascular dementia like my grandma had, the disease can be slowed or even halted if the underlying factors contributing to brain damage are treated, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or blood vessel blockages. So we hope you will take this opportunity for a free, confidential screening.

A great resource for caregivers and their loved ones is the Alzheimer’s Association. They have an entire section of their website devoted to information about the disease, stages and behaviors, practical tips for providing care and coping, information about care options, guides for financial and legal planning, an online community for support, blogs and links to local resources. Another great link to local programs and services is your Area Agency on Aging.

As a caregiver, you need a support line or many! There is a dementia support group that meets the second Monday of the month at 6:3o p.m. at the Brookville Hospital Education Center. There is a caregiver support group that meets the second Sunday of each month at 3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 600 Wood Street in Clarion.

You may find DayBreak at Laurelbrooke Landing very beneficial. Caregivers can bring their loved ones there while they are at work or for a break in caregiving. Attendees benefit from the safe environment, daily activities, wellness screenings, socialization opportunities  and nutritional meals.

For additional resources, visit our website or contact any WRC location. My grandma lived well with her disease for a number of years. In the beginning her memory loss was  hardly noticeable. For years, she continued to drive, cook her wonderful memorized recipes, serve her church, travel and spend time with her family and friends.  I cherish all that time. In the end, I cherished the little moments of clarity and the comfort I could bring her just by holding her hand. When we said goodbye, although I cried and mourned, I was happy for her. Because she was herself again and whole. So cherish the moments and don’t walk this tough path alone.

- Dawn Wise
Director of Marketing and Communications
WRC Senior Services
dwise@wrc.org

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