Struggling to buy gifts can be stressful as time draws short and your imagination leaves you wondering what in the world to buy. This list will help you find something for everyone on your list, whether they were naughty or nice!
The recommended gifts below are all gifts I have personally used or have given to someone who has loved it! I have organized the gifts under headings to help you sort through easily and perhaps find just the perfect gift! Click on each gift name to be linked directly to the product page for purchase and more info. The slide show above shows all the gifts with links and can be shared with your friends easily.
If you travel or you need a gift for someone who does, this is a great gift and less than $100. We have never lost our luggage throughout our travels, however, my husband loves having a Trak Dot in his suitcase and tracking exactly where his suit case is located. Earlier this year I was driving from Lubbock, TX to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had a Trak Dot in my suitcase and my husband was able to track my car online and see exactly where I was throughout the drive – providing some security of being located if I had any car issues. You purchase the Trak Dot and the pay an annual fee to activate the Trak Dot.
There are a variety of trackers available that measure, keep track of exercise/steps, your heart beats per minute, you resting/standing pulse, your running/walking route, etc. I use an Apple iWatch, however Fitbit/Garmin has a variety of choices that start around $25, with a variety of bells and whistles. What I love is the accountability – it is totally what helps me keep moving. I do much better being reminded to do my exercise, I love tracking my achievements, and I can share my results with my family and friends if I want to. If you have someone in your life who may need that little push or motivation, this is the perfect gift.
I upgraded to an iPhone 6s this year, with the 5.5 inch screen. Wow, has that been a game changer for me – I can actually see everything so much better. I never thought I would be using my cell phone as much or more than my laptop but I am. The ease of use of a larger phone as my fingers become less nimble has helped considerably and enabled me to complete work, shopping, tasks, notes, on the go and anywhere I may be.
These are great for the active folks on your list. No need to strap you phone around your arm and no worries about cords getting mixed up and ripped out of your ear while you are on your weight machine. These headphones work wirelessly through blu-tooth to listen to your favorite music or podcast. There are a variety of price options available. I’m not convinced that the most expensive options last any longer than the cheaper options. I have gone with the cheaper option and when they break I can easily replace.
Alexa is my new best friend. I love coming home and asking Alexa to play whatever music I am in the mood to listen to. I have Alexa track my grocery list and constantly ask for reminders and ask to put items on my calendar. It takes a little bit of time to set up your phone with the Alexa, but once you take the time to do so, you will love the options available.
In-Home Entertainment and Memberships That Improve Your Life
This is a great gift that gives all year long. You can download Audible, it’s an App, to your phone, laptop, iPad, or tablet – whatever your preference. For only $14,95 per month you can download a book to listen to, often saving up to 50%. The inability to get out of the house, or hold a book or Kindle for a long period of time makes Audible a great option to listen to the books you love. I use my Bose noise-cancelling headphones to listen to Audible, which helps cut out all interference and I don’t miss a word.
Who can live without viewing “The Crown?” I have loved this series and look forward to the next episode. Grace and Frankie, House of Cards, movies, documentaries, travel show, foreign films, classic films, oh so many options! Basic membership is $7.99/month to Premium membership of $11.99. An internet and/or Wi-Fi connection is required.
This membership provide free shipping from Amazon, provides free storage for your photos, provides you access to Amazon Prime Music, Video and Reading. There is a $99/year membership fee. This has been well worth it for me as I learn to order more items through Amazon and have them directly delivered to my home. The savings and convenience are amazing.
This service allows you to submit your grocery list and have the groceries delivered right to your home. You need to download the Shipt app to your phone/iPad and you can make your grocery list. Your list is given to a local shopper who will go do your shopping and delivery it to your home and the time you have schedule. I love this app and service. It remembers my grocery list and helps me not forget items, it helps with my discipline to not buy impulse items, and I truly feel the shopper has done a better job picking produce than I have. This service is invaluable for you to use to deliver food and other items to your family members who have difficulty getting out or perhaps are asking their neighbors to pick up a few things. This allows you complete control over what is purchased and the amount spent. It is a monthly or annual membership (sometimes they offer a special). A six-month membership is $49 and the one year membership is $99.
There are many things I like about The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy. We have three in our local area and I love the fact that they provide free delivery of medications. They will meet you prior to hospital discharge to ensure your medications are at your home upon discharge, and they will bubble-wrap your medications for no additional cost. Using one pharmacy provides you protection from medication mismanagement and duplicate medications. Pharmacists who know their patients and have their medication profiles on file will be aware of possible harmful drug interactions or allergies to certain drugs. The pharmacist also will be able to discuss possible side effects; what foods, drinks, or activities that should be avoided while on a medication; what to do if you miss a dose; and a wide range of other helpful information. The Medicine Shoppe will also deliver non-pharmaceutical items you may need. Upon request The Medicine Shoppe is happy to bill you on a monthly basis, allowing you to maintain documentation of items purchased.
Personal Products: Pampering Gifts for Your Parents
I love how this lotion has brightened my complexion. Unfortunately, as we age our skin tone seems to dull a little and perhaps look a little gray and/or green color. It depended upon the day which color I was but overall I had a dull look, not looking as alert and as good as I would like. I was in Chicago for a Continuing Legal Education and had to run over to Nordstrom’s. While shopping I discovered the Charlotte Tilbury makeup line and sat down and got my makeup done. The difference the WonderGlow Face Primer has made to my appearance is amazing – I absolutely love it! It helps perk my look and brings some brightening and healthy shine to my face. Your wife or Mom will love this product.
This is a very fancy name for lip gloss and happens to be the best lip gloss I have ever used. I’m not a huge lipstick lover and have found this to be a great compromise for color with a little shine. No need for lip liner, which is harder to apply when your fingers can’t get it on straight. This solves the problem, keeps your lips moist and brings a shine to them immediately. I have purchased several colors and my outfit determines which is the best color of the day!
For the person worried about the Zika virus. This is an old but great product. I use the Avon Skin So Soft Bug Repellant with 30UV Sun Protection. It also acts as a great lotion and moisturizer for your skin.
Gift Card for a Pedicure (search your local area)
Taking care of your feet as you get older is essential. How does a pedicure help? It helps with early detection of signs of corns, bunions and fungal infections; helps keep your feet moist, avoiding blisters and prevents your skin from cracking; it encourages new skin growth, keeps your feet smoother; and the foot massage promotes circulation. You generally relax while getting a pedicure giving you the opportunity to reduce your stress levels.
This product was introduced to me while traveling this year and constantly running out of time to wash and blow dry my hair. This spray enables you to blow dry your hair without having to wash your hair. It restores volume and body, allowing you to look totally refreshed and ready for your next occasion.
These paper shades come in a variety of sizes and colors. Imagine setting your dining room table and having these paper shades on your wineglasses. They are beautiful and help create the mood you are looking for. Using a flameless tea light inside of the wine glass adds even more atmosphere to your occasion.
This is a repeat from last year – but I can’t help it. I use this gadget almost every day so I need a new one each year! I can’t remember when I first found the “Open It”, but I sure am glad I did. It seems like so many packages today are so hard to open. One of things I’ve noticed is that my hand strength is not what it used to be, or should I say the using the strength in my hands sometimes hurts. The Open It tool prevents any pain from happening. It includes a very stiff scissor function that cuts through fairly thick plastic, cardboard, all sorts of things. The Open It also includes a Utility Knife, which is great for opening packages and a screwdriver when you need it.
Internet/Wi-Fi connection is required. This device allows you to view real-time video of what is happening in your home. There are a variety of options available regarding alarms, communication to authorities, and storage of video. It even allows me to see what my dog is up to when I leave the house. You can also hear what anyone is saying within the range of your Canary.
Internet/Wi-Fi connection is required. This device differs from the Canary in that it allows you communicate from a location outside of your home via the Nest app with whoever is in the home. This is an invaluable tool when perhaps your loved one is physically limited and does not ambulate well. You not only can see them in case they fall you can also ask them if they are okay. You will need to have the App open on your phone/iPad for this communication to be accessible. Nest also sells thermostats and smoke and CO2 detectors.
This gift is going to put a dent in your wallet. If you want to improve your diet and drink fresh and healthy juice, this tool is amazing. I’m actually able to drink vegetables in my juice I typically would not like. The flavors I enjoy mask the flavors I do not like. This juicer is easy to maintain and clean.
Yum! These caramels are delicious and the folks in my life (except me) prefer milk chocolate. I order these through Amazon, the delivery fee is free and one pound is going to set you back about $40.00 so you may want to ration these, one by one.
My Mom used to make the best homemade angel food cakes. Unfortunately, I did get her gift of baking so mine have never been quite as tasty. This past summer while visiting my husband’s parents in Ohio we visited Dorothy Lane Market and I purchased a Boone’s Bakery Angel Food Cake, and it is by far the best angel food cake I have ever had in my life. To purchase, you will need to call Dorothy Lane Market and ask them to ship them to you. Each cake is going to cost you over $10 + shipping, but is totally worth it! You may want to order one for yourself and one for a gift.
This is my favorite deep dish pizza. If you order in advance, you can order with free delivery. When you heat them up in your oven the pizza truly taste like it was just made for you. The flavors are amazing and the crust tastes just as fresh as ordering in person. Four pizzas are delivered for $94. One pizza will serve 3-4 people if you happen to have salad with your meal. Or if you are a pizza lover, you may be able to eat the entire pizza all by yourself.
French Candy Creams remind me of the old fashioned mints my aunts used to make for bridal showers and baby showers. I probably like these so much because of many fond memories of my mom and aunts making these for special events. They come in a variety of flavors, my favorite has always been the wintergreen.
You can buy either of these at most grocery stores and almost convince yourself that you are eating a healthy snack when you put the pimento cheese on top of the flat pretzel. I like the bacon pimento cheese the best and we usually devour a container very quickly – so don’t buy just one. If you need to take an appetizer, just dip this into your own bowl and say “Thank You” when you start getting all of the amazing comments.
A good friend gave me a travel RFID wallet that included enough space for my driver’s license, credit card and passport. I had not even thought of protecting my items from being scanned from someone in line by me or across the room. The RFID wallet I have can be wiped down with bleach, which I like since so many folks are touching my ID’s when traveling. Prices vary based on size, shape, and materials used.
This is an awesome gift for the young and old children in your life. It makes you smile just to watch and listen to it. This elephant sings and plays peek-a-boo and is fun for all ages. This is a fun gift to give the grandparents to have available for the grandchildren when they come over to visit.
I hope you find this list useful and your recipients enjoy these items as much as I have. Please check out last year’s list for more great gifts for your parents.
Over the years our Aging Wisely team has shared a lot of holiday wisdom. Today we’ll round up some of our best advice and resources for you! This is your “one stop shop” for holiday wisdom that will help you ensure you have less stress this holiday season, especially with aging loved ones.
Holiday Wisdom to Make You The Ultimate Gift-Giver
Do you wonder how some people always find the perfect gift? Are you struggling with what to get aging parents or family members who have downsized? What about that loved one who lives in a tiny ALF apartment or the caregiver who never feels she has time to enjoy anything? Don’t be like us and find your grandmother recycling your last few “perfect gifts” in a charity sale pile!
We’ve curated several gift lists to make it easy to find just the right thing (or experience). Now everyone will wonder how you always know just the right thing to give!
Are you planning to have a big talk with your aging parents this holiday? Want to sit down and tackle the “elephant in the room”? We advise you that now might not be the time for “the talk”. We are not advising against talking about what’s on your mind and expressing your concerns, but timing is important.
If you notice things that concern you during the holidays with aging parents, contact us for help and ideas (or call 727-447-5845). We’ve also been sharing activities to make the holidays festive for all ages and Tampa Bay holiday events. So make sure to join us on the EasyLiving Facebook page for great ideas!
Medicare open enrollment is October 15 – December 7 every year. This is your opportunity to review your current plan, coverages and costs. You need to determine whether to stay with your current plan or if you want to change to a new plan.
As much as you may want to rely on an insurance salesperson to direct you, many of the choices and decisions you need to make to determine the best policy are very personal choices – and most likely only decisions you can make. It is startling to me to be shopping at the Dollar Tree (one of my favorites) and walk out and see a card table set up with someone trying to sell me a health insurance policy. REALLY!!!!
Before you get started, below are the items you should have ready:
Name & DOB
Medicare Number and effective dates for Part A and Part B
List of prescriptions and pharmacy address(es)
If you need any help completing the steps below or have any questions, call your Aging Wisely expert.
8 steps to completing your Medicare Open Enrollment:
#2 Click on Review your health and prescription drug coverage options.
#3 Next step is completing the Personalized Search.
#4 Your home zip code, your Medicare number if you are already enrolled, your last name, and your effective dates for Medicare Part A and Part B.
#5 What plan you currently have? For example, Medicare, a Medicare Plan (aka as an Advantage Plan), you don’t have a plan yet, or if you don’t know you have the option of stating I don’t know what plan I have.
#6 The next question asks you to list all of your medications and dosages. The easiest place to find this information is directly from the container your medication comes in from the pharmacy. If you do not have the container(s) you will need to call the pharmacy and ask them for a list or better yet, stop by the pharmacy and ask them to print you a list.
Bonus Tip: If you use more than one pharmacy, one of your New Year’s resolutions needs to be to commit to one pharmacy. Managing your prescriptions appropriately as well as one pharmacist reviewing your medications is an invaluable resource. When you have a primary care physician as well as specialists prescribing your medications it is typically the pharmacist that can review the medications and look for concerns or issues you need to know and address with your healthcare providers.
#7 Once you have entered in each of your medications and dosages, the next question asks for the name and address of your pharmacy. You can find the name and address of the pharmacy on the medication container.
#8 Upon entering all of the above information the next screen allows you to apply a variety of filters, for example, limit plan premium, select star ratings, etc.… if you want to reduce the number of the choices. Otherwise, you may go directly to review the following:
A. Prescription Plans (Part D) with Regular Medicare
B. Medicare Health Plans (Medicare Advantage Plans) with Drug Coverage
C. Medicare Health Plans without Drug Coverage
The options are listed and you can make a decision from the list. My list came up with over 40 choices – so my work to make a decision is still not done.
If you are on regular Medicare Part A and Part B, you will want to review your supplemental policy (if you have one). While the monthly premium you have to pay for a Supplemental Health Plan is typically more expensive than you would pay for a Medicare Advantage Plan it often provides you more choices in healthcare providers and greater coverage towards payments, and covers co-pays, etc. You usually get to select your healthcare providers and change healthcare providers whenever you want. You can choose whether to use community physicians or the specialized university medical system. You can choose the rehabilitation center you want or the mental health treatment center you want. The gamble is whether you get sick or not. If you get sick your premium will feel reasonable when you see what your care would have cost if you did not have the insurance coverage. If you do not get sick, it feels like you wasted a year’s worth of premium payments that could have been used for something fun.
This is where the personal part comes in. We all have to decide what our priorities are and how we want to spend our money. The Medicare Advantage Plans often are less expensive on a monthly basis and include expanded coverage for items Medicare A and B do not cover. Many Medicare Advantage plans have contracts with healthcare providers, limiting their plan coverage to those providers. The contract may limit which hospital, rehabilitation center, mental health provider, physician, just about any type of healthcare provider you may use. It is up to you to decide if you are going to be content with the limitations. You will be “stuck” with the plan you have chosen until the next open enrollment period.
The Medicare Advantage plans may change their healthcare provider contracts at any time. It is your responsibility to review their website and keep up to date on any changes. Sometimes your healthcare provider will contact you and state “After next month I am no longer part of your insurance plan.” When this happens you have to decide whether to pay for out of network coverage or change to a healthcare provider covered by the plan.
Some people can live with the changes, go with the flow, and are able to change healthcare providers without being upset. They do not feel limited by only having certain healthcare providers to select from.
Most healthcare providers in Florida accept Medicare assignment. This means the healthcare provider agrees to accept the payment determined by Medicare. This does not eliminate your need to meet a deductible or pay a co-pay. We are fortunate in Florida. In many states there are plenty of private insurers and patients covered by insurance provided by employers. The reimbursement to healthcare providers is more significant than the reimbursement Medicare pays. So, many healthcare providers in other states choose to not accept Medicare.
If your healthcare provider only participates with certain insurance plans it is not an indicator that they are good or bad. You should not feel like you have poor choices if you are limited to certain healthcare providers by your Medicare Advantage Plan. Each insurance company is allowed to negotiate contracts with whatever healthcare provider they choose. It is often determined by costs and reimbursement rates, truly nothing to do with the patient. In recent years we have seen many small healthcare providers join together to become much larger offices. This allows for economies, with technology being one of the primary expenses. The more cost effective the healthcare provider is, the better contract they can negotiate with the insurance company.
Good luck with reviewing your options and determining what plan works for you. At the end of the day, remember you are in charge of your own health, responsible for how you take care of your body, and need to determine what works best for you.
Bonus Tip: Ask yourself these questions before choosing a plan.
Do I want to be on a Medicare Advantage Plan and/or pay for a supplemental policy?
Are my physicians, hospital, rehabilitation center, etc. contracted to take my Medicare Plan?
Will my physician, hospital stay, rehab visit, etc be 100% covered by my Medicare Plan?
Need help navigating this complex system? Please call 727-447-5845 to speak with one of our Aging Wisely experts. They can assist you with determining your Medicare options through the Medicare website, help you understand what you need to consider when making your selection, and helping you look ahead to plan for your future.
You might also want to check out our Medicare Fact Sheet 2017, which explains the parts of Medicare and their associated costs for 2017 as well as key dates and FAQs.
Medicare just announced the Medicare 2017 costs and we’ve provided a simple overview and comparison to what you paid in 2016. Be sure to check out our Medicare Fact Sheet 2017 for all of the Medicare 2017 costs and a concise overview of the various parts of Medicare. You’ll also find a more detailed breakdown of key Medicare information on page 2.
Medicare 2017 Costs
Medicare A Premium:
$0 if you or spouse has 40+ quarters of Medicare-covered employment
If you do not have enough eligible quarters of employment, you’ll pay up to $413 (was $411 in 2016).
Medicare B Premium:
Standard premium $134 (higher for individuals with incomes above $85,000 or $170,000 if filing jointly)
Average premium for those receiving Social Security benefits $109 (was $104.90 in 2016)
Medicare B Deductible:
$183/year (was $166 in 2016)
Medicare D premium:
Varies by plan (higher income individuals will pay additional adjustment)
Medicare A Hospital Coinsurance:
$1316 deductible for each benefit period ($1288 in 2016)
$0 coinsurance for days 1-60
$329/day for days 61-90 ($322 in 2016)
$658/day for up to 60 additional “lifetime reserve” days after 90 days ($644 in 2016)
All costs beyond lifetime reserve days
Medicare A Skilled Nursing Care:
Pays 100% up to 20 days
$164.50/day co-pay for days 21-100 ($161 for 2016)
Medicare A Mental Health Inpatient Care:
$1,316 deductible for each benefit period ($1,288 in 2016)
$0 coinsurance for days 1-60Days 61–90: $329 coinsurance per day of each benefit period ($322 in 2016)
$329 coinsurance per day of each benefit period ($322 in 2016) days 61-90$644 coinsurance per each “lifetime reserve day” after day 90 for each benefit period (up to 60 days over your lifetime) ($658 in 2017)
$658 coinsurance per “lifetime reserve day” after day 90 for each benefit period (up to 60 days over your lifetime) ($644 in 2016)Beyond lifetime reserve days: all costs.
Beyond lifetime reserve days: all costs20% of the Medicare-approved amount for mental health services you get from doctors and other providers while you’re a hospital inpatient.
20% of the Medicare-approved amount for mental health services you get from doctors/providers while you’re a hospital inpatient
Contact us today for a personalized Medicare analysis and help with all types of benefits. Save money and get the best options for your situation!
Each November, we celebrate National Family Caregivers Month along with Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. This is an important reminder of the invaluable contributions of family caregivers. There are some 34 million family caregivers in the U.S., providing $470 million worth of unpaid care (2013 data) for adults aged 50+. Over 15 million adult family caregivers care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease/dementia. (National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 2015)
National Family Caregivers Month Theme
This year’s National Family Caregivers Month theme is “take care to give care”. Only by taking care of themselves first can caregivers be strong enough for the duties of caregiving. As organizations and as a society, we must also focus on how we can take care of caregivers so they are able to provide care to the best of their abilities. Here are a few tips on this theme to help you “take care to give care”. Dedicate this National Family Caregivers Month to making one small change, doing one important thing for your health, seeking a new resource, or taking some respite time. Then, try to slowly incorporate more changes throughout the next several months.
National Family Caregivers Month Action Tips
Caregiving is stressful. It is important tohave somerelease from that stress. Find out what works for you. Perhaps you need to plan time to chat with friends each week (or even a professional, who can help you work through your emotions). Or, take one afternoon/week for rest or an outing. Make sure you have easy activities you can do at home that help you reduce stress. Maybe it is short meditation (there are great apps for that!) or a hobby like knitting. How about listening to favorite music or watching some comedy on YouTube? For a quick laugh, we recommend this Seinfeld episode where he volunteers to help an older man…you just might relate!
It is vital to guard your own health. Caregiving can take a toll on your health. The stress and physical strain of caregiving can weaken your immune system. And, you may be exposed to germs if you are in and out of doctor’s offices, hospitals, etc. Take a moment this month to schedule any exams, immunizations or follow-up appointments you’ve been putting off (you don’t have to do them all immediately, but get them scheduled!).
One important thing you can do to boost your health is to improve your nutrition. This is a simple (but not always easy!) way to strengthen your body. Start with small changes. Add more variety to your diet with a couple extra servings of fruits and veggies. This is great for you and your care recipient! Try out a new healthy recipe this month. There are lots of quick, simple healthy recipes and meal ideas online. Or, hire a caregiver to come in and prepare some meals in advance or use a meal service like Peach Dish. We have reviewed some meal services such as Mom’s Meals in the past and hope to bring you more first-hand reviews in the future. Sign up for our newsletter for updates!
Another vital step is to get some exercise. Strengthening and balance exercises are particularly important to help you stay safe as you assist with physical needs or household tasks. If you can’t find much time, there are many programs you can do at home. Check out YouTube for videos like these or consider hiring our recommended in-home personal trainers (who can also work with your aging loved one!).
Our experts are often called upon to help families discuss difficult topics. We work with many adult children on how to approach these subjects, how to be prepared for the discussions, and what not to do. Many times our care managers even help to mediate such discussions.
Today, we’ll delve into talking to aging parents about assisted living, getting help at home, and your worries about their health or memory problems.
How to Talk to Aging Parents about Health or Care Concerns
Many families we talk to tell us that their loved one denies any concerns about their health or care needs. Adult children sometimes find it hard to get any information out of Mom or Dad about their health or doctor’s appointments. Others have long conversations filled with health complaints but may become frustrated when their solutions are repeatedly rebuffed.
The first step in talking to aging parents about such concerns is early involvement and regular communication. Be prepared with proper advance care/legal documents. Make sure your parent has completed paperwork with their medical providers permitting access to their health information (and/or has an updated Florida Healthcare Surrogate Designation permitting the designee to receive protected health information and help with decisions at any time). Discuss who will help and how this might work. If possible, start attending some doctor’s appointments with your loved one (or hire a care manager to attend and coordinate). This helps you to better understand their health picture and spot changes early.
As things change or specific concerns arise, don’t wait to have the conversations. Discussing options early and planning ahead gives you some peace of mind and provides your parent with more control. When it’s time to have these conversations, set aside plenty of time to talk. Allow your parent to share their feelings and have input. Come prepared with resources and ideas.
If you are having trouble with health conversations, try to schedule/attend a doctor’s appointment with your parent. If possible, fax or email a letter to the doctor explaining what you’ve observed and your questions. Regarding care needs, an objective care management assessment can help and a care manager can approach the client as an ally.
Talking to Aging Parents about Memory Problems
This is very similar to discussing other health problems or care needs, but with added sensitivity. It can also be more difficult if your loved one has cognitive problems which make it hard to remember or process the discussions.
It is best to approach this with sensitivity and simple, concrete examples. Suggest an evaluation as a way to make sure everything is okay. Don’t create unnecessary fear by pre-diagnosing the problem. A memory clinic or specialist is best for this type of evaluation, and should also be sensitive in dealing with the patient. The evaluation gives you the best starting point for discussions about what needs to be done next.
Talking to Aging Parents about Assisted Living or Home Care
Make note of these concerns and the areas where you think your aging parent could use some help. They may see things differently, so listen to them for clues as to what worries/bothers them. Maybe you worry about Dad’s safety, but he worries about shopping and cooking meals. Mom’s personal care may be in decline but perhaps she fears keeping up with the household tasks or wants help driving to her church group at night. When talking to aging parents about assisted living, focus on the positives that can make life better based on what matters to them.
Talking to aging parents about assisted living brings up a whole host of emotional and practical issues. The home itself has a lot of meaning and history. Your parents may feel overwhelmed with the process of moving…and rightly so. Tackle one aspect of the conversation at a time and come prepared to help with the logistics.
You’d be amazed how often a small logistical issue or practicality is the biggest sticking point in moving. So, be sure to listen carefully and don’t dismiss anything your parent says. Don’t try to handle selecting and moving to assisted living by yourselves. Bring in some help for the myriad tasks, from selling the home and belongings to picking the right place and reviewing the contract, to the specific tasks of moving day and ensuring a smooth transition.
Contact us for help with talking to your aging parents about assisted living and other concerns. Our care managers can also guide you through transitions, offer resources, and coordinate the process of moving to assisted living or hiring home care.
Many seniors see driving as a source of independence. Giving up driving means giving up freedom and symbolizes loss and decline. All of these things can be very true without proper planning.
It is vital to have resources and plans for what will happen “post driving” before you even approach this subject. Be realistic about options and think of the person’s perspective. Don’t make your Mom or Dad solely dependent on you or neighbors/friends for rides. Remember the freedom aspect of driving. Depending on where you live, there are many transportation options. These include public transit (often with elder/disabled programs and discounts), Uber and similar “on demand” services, private drivers and home care companions.
The first step in the driving conversation is observing your parent driving (perhaps with the help of others who drive with them). Note the specific concerns and explain objectively. You may want to engage a trusted professional. Your parent’s doctor may be helpful (or not). You can hire a care manager to arrange an assessment. The care manager can help with post-driving resources and guide the discussion.
Taking Away The Car Keys: what to do when your loved one may not be able to drive anymore (discussion tips and pointers, and how to report an elderly driver if conversations are not working)
Keeping Us Safe offers a Beyond Driving with Dignity Workbook and self-assessment tools
How to Talk to Aging Parents about Finances
Money might be a taboo subject in your family, but it’s a central reality to aging and care needs. If you need to step in to help your aging parents, would you even know where to begin? Many families feel it’s not appropriate to discuss what they have. Some parents fear relatives taking advantage of the situation. Obviously, these conversations need to start with a relationship of trust. Otherwise, it may be necessary to put other plans into place.
At a minimum, the person(s) who will be designated to help needs to know how to access information. Your parents need to execute the necessary legal documents, particularly a durable power of attorney. Ideally, you should have an idea of the financial picture. Money has a big effect on any other care conversations. It determines what options are available and what benefits you need to seek.
Broach this subject with sensitivity and don’t rush things. Perhaps you can start by offering to help your parent get organized, explain you need to know who to contact and what’s been set up. Ask if your parent would consider setting up online access to accounts. It may be easiest to discuss specific issues (executing or reviewing the durable power of attorney, estate planning, long-term care insurance, VA benefits, etc.).
Take an approach based on your parent’s style. If your parent tends to be very practical about money, simply explaining the need may work. Some parents have great respect for experts, so their financial advisor or attorney could be an ally. Your parent might listen to a particular sibling about money matters. An article from a respected publication or bringing up your own planning can spur the discussion.
Stay tuned for more tips next week! We’ll offer advice on discussing care needs, memory problems, and health issues. Join us on Facebook for our latest articles, plus bonus tips and aging wisely advice.
We previously shared our advice on timing for talking to elderly parents about difficult topics. But, no matter when you talk about things, some elderly parents just don’t want to hear what you have to say. What do you do when talking to elderly parents leads nowhere? What can you do if Dad simply says, “I’m fine. Leave me alone.”?
Talking to Elderly Parents Who Say There’s Nothing to Talk About
You may not get anywhere today, but don’t give up. Sometimes it is best to leave the subject alone if it’s not a crisis and return to it later. We always advise that talking to elderly parents is a process, not a one-time chat. This is especially true for parents who don’t think anything is wrong.
Come prepared. Speak about what you’ve observed and be honest about your worries. Do some homework so you know some options.
Explain that the idea is to prevent consequences your parent does not want. Doing nothing is a choice, with repercussions. A person who gets a little help at home may avoid an early move to the nursing home. A regular checkup could catch something before it becomes debilitating.
Gather allies. Talk to siblings ahead of time, and try to get on the same page. If the concerns primarily revolve around one parent, does your other parent/the spouse agree? Don’t go into the conversation ignoring key influencers. They can quickly undermine the situation (or be your ally). A third party can be useful especially if you aren’t getting anywhere. A pastor, your parent’s trusted doctor, or a geriatric care manager can help lead or mediate the conversations.
Use stories or examples with positive outcomes. Take the chance to talk about your own planning or what’s been happening with a neighbor or friend.
Try to figure out what your parent fears or what motivates them.
Don’t let “windows of opportunity” pass by. Temporary help after a hospitalization or illness can give your parent a chance to get used to the situation. Denial can be a useful defense mechanism as we face loss, so the way we word or approach things can help ease the pain of loss.
But, what happens when I’ve tried everything and they just won’t listen?
You can gently, but firmly set your own boundaries. If your parent refuses to do anything, it can be you facing the consequences and dealing with the crisis. Explain what you can and cannot (and will not) do. Offer them options, but try to avoid swooping in to save the day if they refuse help.
We know this is VERY difficult advice to practice. It can be very useful in such situations to talk to a geriatric care manager or counselor. We’ve worked with caregivers who later told us this was the biggest lifesaver for them. You may need emotional support in order to do this and deal with all your feelings about it. Siblings and other parties involved may also make you feel extremely guilty.
You may need to have your parent evaluated if memory or cognitive issues are at play. Adults do have the right to make poor decisions, but there may be a question of competency, undue influence or self-neglect. If the person is endangered, the situation may result in a call to DCF and/or guardianship proceedings.
We truly understand how tough it can be talking to elderly parents. Especially when they don’t want to hear it! Fortunately, we’ve had experience working with thousands of families dealing with many issues and personalities. Contact us anytime to discuss your concerns and find out how we can help.
Talking to aging parents about sensitive subjects puts fear in the hearts of many adult children. You may realize it’s time to discuss your concerns for their wellbeing, the need for care, money issues, or worries about Dad’s driving or Mom’s failing memory. But, how do you begin the conversation? When should you bring up these issues (and when shouldn’t you)? Talking to aging parents can be a bit easier with these tips from our experts about the timing, approach, and resources to assist.
Best (and Worst) Timing for Talking to Aging Parents
First, let’s get the worst timing for talking to aging parents out of the way so you can avoid the mistakes. The holidays are one of the worst possible times to start difficult conversations. However, many adult children choose holidays for talking to aging parents because it is when they happen to be together or have some time away from work. Holidays are sensitive times and people tend to be stressed. You can use this time with your elderly parents/relatives wisely…here’s what our experts suggest instead of using this time for talking to aging parents about your concerns.
And, don’t wait for a crisis to begin talking to aging parents about these issues! In a crisis, there’s no time to allow for a natural conversation and airing of thoughts and feelings. There’s also no time to plan so options become limited.
The best time is now…sooner, than later and on an ongoing basis. Don’t try to cram the whole conversation into one half-hour visit. Take your time, and allow conversations to unfold naturally and in relation to situations they may see their friends or others facing. If you have come to a crisis point or have a pressing issue, don’t try to suddenly tackle every possible concern. Prioritize what needs to be dealt with today.
How to Approach Talking with Aging Parents About Sensitive Subjects
Think about your parent’s personality, priorities, and style. What things matter to him/her? Think about past conversations (or lack thereof). How did your parent approach you when they needed to give you advice or talk about something sensitive with you? Does Dad have a practical outlook and prefer to know the points (and costs) of all options? Or, does Dad like to use analogies or anecdotes?
Plan sufficient time to talk so you can listen patiently to your loved one’s feelings and concerns. Consider this an ongoing conversation.
Share your feelings and concerns. Don’t dredge up the past or try to approach a wide variety of subjects. Stick to specific concerns and things you’ve observed. Don’t try to tell your parents what they “need to do”. As shared in a great NPR story on this topic, “Mothers can never resist their children when their children simply bare their hearts…tell her you need her help, in order for you to help her.”
Offer possible solutions. Do your homework, come prepared with information. Offer choices so that your parents have the opportunity to exercise control over the situation.
Have an aging parent who simply says “there’s no problem” or “everything’s fine”? We’ll share more about how to talk with an aging parent who is in denial in our next post. We’ll also share more about talking to aging parents about specific topics (and resources for each).
Consider a consultation with an Aging Life Care Manager. You can discuss your concerns to get advice on how to approach the situation and what options are available. Contact us to make an appointment or find out more.