One of peoples’ greatest regrets is never having reconnected with estranged loved ones. Whether there was a conflict or they’ve simply drifted away, it’s not uncommon that parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, and other relationships find themselves out of contact. Truly, it is an epidemic that silently hurts the people involved, and the family around them.
In many cases, time can heal deep wounds, although it can take months or even years to get over a blowout with family. Perhaps it’s been long enough that the conflict seems petty compared to the potential of togetherness. Perhaps you don’t want to continue a cycle in which family members are not on speaking terms. If you’ve decided to try to reconnect with a long lost loved one, here are some suggestions to consider:
Understand what caused the estrangement
Maybe you’ve already done this work, but truly understanding what caused the estrangement from both ends is the first step in reconnecting with someone. Is it an issue that remains unresolved? Is there an apology or forgiveness needed? Did something big occur or was it many tiny events that led to separation? If you’re left in the dark, ask somebody who may know what went awry.
Heal Yourself First
Once again, time may have already healed some wounds. But, especially if there was a big disagreement, you may still be carrying some residual guilt or resentment towards your estranged loved one. It is important to work on healing yourself first, or the patterns that caused the conflict may arise again.
Reach out several times
Stubbornness tends to be a big reason family members never reconnect. One party may feel so wronged by the other that the former feels the latter should make all the effort. Regardless what end you’re on, it’s likely that one call or email will not cut it. Reach out to them a few times over a months, in order to show them you are willing to put in work for their love.
Forgive and Ask Forgiveness
Whatever is holding you back from closeness with loved ones needs to be let go in order to pave way for a future. Forgive them and yourself for your wrongs; give them a space to comfortably do the same if they’ve wronged you. Talk it out and show them that moving forward from past mistakes is something you are serious about.
Work on any lingering issues
If the estrangement was caused by conflict, be constructive in your discussions to fix it together. Broken relationships can cause a lot of pain; tackle them head on, together, remembering that the light of the end of the tunnel is your goal. Speak your mind and make it a point to hear them out; open and honest dialogue where everyone feels validated is key.
Respect their boundaries
Even if you don’t agree with their boundaries, accept your estranged loved ones for any pace they want to take. Just because you are ready for things to go a certain way, doesn’t mean they are.
If you’re really serious about making the relationship work, put in that work! Reuniting with family members is a tricky task to navigate, and requires care, patience, and communication. Make the effect required to show them you love them.
Did we miss something? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
It’s no secret that caregivers often deal with unusual behaviours when caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The diseases are characterized by a progressive deterioration of the brain therefore personality changes and tantrums are expected. They may behave in ways that are physically or verbally aggressive, but this doesn’t make the behaviours any less difficult or embarrassing to cope with. In some cases, improper or lack of management may even be dangerous.
Let’s take a look at some of the most challenging behaviours seniors may exhibit through dementia — and how to manage them.
Dementia’s Most Common “Bad” Behaviours
Rage, anger, yelling
Swearing, inappropriate comments
Paranoia and/or other strange obsessions
Mental, emotional, and/or physical abuse
Refusing to shower or self care
Improper handling of finances (overspending or extreme frugality)
What causes aggressive behaviour?
Oftentimes, an Alzheimer’s patient’s aggressive behaviour is not deliberate; the disease just manifests itself in these ways. Any action may simply be a reaction caused by a need that isn’t being met. These include physical needs (hunger, comfort, etc) and mental needs (stimulation, connectedness). People with dementia may be unable to recognize these needs, let alone communicate them or achieve them themselves.
Learning what these triggers are can help a caregiver prevent or subdue aggression by helping to meet the need. Here are some reasons behind unwanted dementia behaviours.
Comfort: Are they feeling any pain? Are they too hot or cold? Are they constipated?
Medication: Is their medicine causing side effects?
Environment: Is it overwhelming (too busy, noisy, or bright)? Is it underwhelming (boring, not stimulating enough)?
Hallucinations: Are they having hallucinations that cause them to react?
Human connection: Are they lonely? Do they feel excluded or unvalued?
Stimulation: Are they bored? Are their senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch) being stimulated regularly?
Independence: Do they feel like they have “a say” in some situations? Are their opinions being ignored? Are they frustrated that they are unable to complete certain tasks?
Mental health: Aside from dementia, do they suffer other mental disorders such as depression?
How to respond to aggressive behaviour
Being aware of an Alzheimer’s patients needs and acting accordingly may alleviate some of the struggles of aggressive behaviours. For example, if the need is medical, a visit to their family doctor may be in order. If a particular environment triggers hallucinations, avoid those types of situations. Otherwise, actually managing aggression in real time is a completely different beast! Here are some things a caregiver can do while their loved one acts out.
Take a deep breath to calm yourself before reacting
Remain calm throughout the experience; remember that this behaviour isn’t personal or purposeful
Give the person plenty of space (and time)
Keep eye contact and encourage communication
Divert their attention to something else, for example music, television, or something to touch
Walk away to a safe area and call for help if the situation becomes particularly violent
Do not blame or punish them
Talk through how they are feeling
Talk through how you’re feeling with your doctor, counsellor, or loved ones
How do you manage aggression in seniors? Let us know in the comments section below.
Older people are prone to falling due to limited mobility. As a caregiver, it’s important to take as many actions as possible to prevent falls in the first place. Of course, there are instances where such precautions are still not enough.
When a senior has fallen, the necessary steps to safely pick them up may be overlooked in the panic. As a result, caregivers can hurt themselves or worsen their loved one’s injuries. Take a look at these suggestions to safely help an elderly person up from a fall.
Keep in mind that these tips should only be used if your loved one has not sustained an injury! It can be even more dangerous to try to pick them up. If you are not sure if the fall caused damaged, it may be best to call 911 for assistance immediately.
Tips for helping a senior up from a fall
Do NOT pick them up right away. Take a few moments to calm them and yourself down.
Remain calm and keep your loved one calm by taking and talking them through deep, slow breaths.
Ask if they are experiencing any pain. If so, assess where and how severe.
If there is any indication of a serious injury such as broken bones, do NOT move them; call an ambulance and keep them as comfortable as possible while you wait for medical assistance.
If they are not badly hurt and wish to get up, proceed slowly and with caution. If at any point the process becomes too difficult or tiring, stop and/or take a break.
An elderly person who has fallen and wants to get up must be physically capable of doing so themselves. As a caregiver in this situation, you are meant to be a guide. It is dangerous to attempt to carry all their weight for them.
Surround your loved one with at least two sturdy chairs, so they can use them as support.
Have them roll onto their side before helping them onto their hands and knees. Use a cushion or a towel under their joints if it is painful for them.
Have them lean their weight onto the seat of one chair and use their stronger leg to put one foot on the floor.
Bring a second chair behind them, so they can use the strength of their arms and legs to sit into it. Remember to keep your back upright if you are lightly guiding them up.
Notify their doctor of the fall and take note of any emerging signs of pain or injury.
Living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gherig’s disease, or motor neuron disease) is undoubtedly challenging. With the nerve cells, brain and spinal cord slowly deteriorating, it becomes more and more difficult to control the body’s muscles as the disease progresses. Dressing and undressing is one every day task that can be quite difficult for people with limited mobility. Here are some ways to making getting dressed easier for those with ALS.
Clothing made specifically for people who use wheelchairs and have certain physical limitations has a huge impact on dressing ease. These items are designed with clever features like open backs, more room in the seated area and special fasteners in such a way that they look just like regular clothing. Adaptive clothing is not typically available in your local department store, but can be purchased over the phone or Internet.
Special devices or commonly used items with modifications make a huge difference in assisting a person with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Popular objects for ALS patients are those that help with dressing and undressing. They are designed to save somebody with motor neuron disease and/or their caregiver(s) time and energy performing the menial task. These devices can get very task-specific; there’s something for almost every need like putting on hosiery or doing up buttons. They may have specialized grips, supports, voice-activated controls, and more.
Home Adaptations & Furniture
Modifications both big and small to an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis sufferer’s home is absolutely necessary, especially when the disease has progressed quite a bit. This is because it can be highly strenuous to move from room to room or change positions when one’s muscle control has declined. It even poses a threat to the safety of both the patient and the caregiver! There are tons of specialty home adaptions and furniture in the market. You can even adjust existing homewares to be more efficient yourself.
Caregiver Dressing Tips
Having a caregiver to dress and undress a person with Lou Gehrig’s is common, if not universal. Here are some suggestions for making it as smooth of a process, aside from the above tools, as possible:
Allow him or her to maintain as much independence as possible, for as long as possible. Perhaps your loved one only needs help with bottoms, or really values their privacy. Look into independent dressing solutions and aids for specific functions.
Assuming dressing happens during the day and undressing in the evening, aim to dress your loved one or change them into their nightwear as early as possible. When the person is less tired or their medications haven’t kicked in yet, it can be less stressful to perform the tasks.
Don’t just go up in size assuming larger clothing with larger openings is easier to put on a person. It’s dangerous to have so much excess fabric on the body, and it can make them look and feel frumpy.
Frequently purge the closet of anything that no longer works for them, whether that’s due to style or functionality. It can become quite frustrating to sift through so many options.
Did we miss anything? How do you manage getting dressed with ALS? Let us know in the comments section below.
There are many unique ways to spend Mother’s Day. Though every family is different, everyone knows that quality time is the best way to honour your mom this Sunday. However, especially when you’re an adult child, you’re no stranger to quality time with mom and may be searching for a new activity to do together! Whether she lives in a nursing home or is receiving home care, here are some special ways to celebrate Mother’s Day with a senior mom.
Share a meal
Eating together is truly a bonding experience. Take your mother to her favourite restaurant whether it’s just the two of you or an entire family affair. If she prefers or must stay at home, bring along the groceries and cook them together — teamwork makes the dream work!
Explore her passions
In the hustle and bustle of every day life, your mother may rarely get a chance to explore her passions, let alone enjoy them with loved ones. Perhaps she’s into painting, pottery, or sports. Why not use the day to take a class, visit a museum, or attend a show? She’ll surely appreciate both the activity and the support! If your senior mom has physical limitations, bring her passion to her by gathering the tools needed, or enjoy them in the form of a book or walk down memory lane.
Take a walk in the park
Being in nature is a grounding experience for people of all ages. Give the gift of inner balance to your mother by taking her on a stroll in the woods, a park, or a botanical garden.
Have a Spa Day
Every lady loves a little R & R! Book yourself and your mother for a massage, hair appointment, manicure and/or pedicure. Or you can do them for her at home!
Throw a house party
Invite family and friends over for a casual get-together at her place or yours. If all the mothers are attending, it’ll be quality time to celebrate for everyone. Throwing a potluck means everyone’s contributing. Enjoy the afternoon relaxing, socializing, and eating!
Have a Quiet Stay in
There are tons of simple things to do at home with your senior mother. Once again, the key to Mother’s Day is quality time with the amazing woman that raised you. Stay in and read her a book, do a puzzle, play board games, or watch movies together. Be present to show her you care.
Did we miss something? Tell us how you plan to spend Mother’s Day in the comments section below!
Mental health issues are a very real concern for seniors. According to World Health Organization, approximately 15% of adults over the age of 60 suffer from a mental disorder — and this number doesn’t even include those who are undiagnosed. Aside from diseases that physically deteriorate the brain, like Alzheimer’s, older adults are prone to an array of mental illnesses. Depression and PTSD included, these disorders are often overlooked despite their potential for grave impact. Nevertheless, mental health is just as important as physical health to understand and address.
Why are seniors still not getting the mental health treatments they need?
Once again, the elderly often goes under-treated or untreated for mental health concerns. Here’s why:
Mental health as a whole is understudied thus undervalued: Unfortunately, research on mental health as a whole is a huge challenge. Unlike X-rays, blood tests, and other means of testing physical health, there is not yet a concrete way to monitor or even diagnose somebody with mental health problems. Because of this, it may be taken less seriously and access to care is simply limited in comparison to physical ailments.
Symptoms can easily be mistaken for other conditions: Many seniors suffer multiple health problems at one time. Plus, old age adds another factor. It’s not uncommon for it to be difficult to diagnose a mental disorder when its symptoms overlap with other illnesses. The mental illness may therefore go unnoticed.
Stigma: Because of the aforementioned lack of concrete study done on mental health, there is a social stigma attached to having an illness of this variety. These attitudes towards mental illness fuel discrimination, making it hard for older adults to reach out for help. Seniors may be unwilling to seek help due to embarrassment or fear of being judged. Their caregivers or family members may even be in denial.
The belief that it is already too late: In older age, people tend to think there is no point in making changes in terms of mental wellbeing. This can apply to the older people themselves or the loved ones that look out for them.
Physical and financial challenges: For some seniors, inaccessibility to health care in general may be the reason their mental health is also untreated. People with mobility issues and lack of funds have a much harder time getting the care they need.
Service Availability: A big one, especially with mental healthcare, is that treatments are so vast and individual needs are so different that services might not be available in all communities. In addition, certain treatments may not be publicly funded or covered by insurance.
What can be done to help seniors with their mental health?
If you are concerned about your own mental health or a loved one’s, consider speaking to your family doctor, friends, and family about your options. With mental illnesses, there is such a variety of treatment options; every individual’s needs are different.
Here are some of our other resources on senior mental health:
In-home care has multiple benefits to offer to both seniors and their family members. Apart from receiving quality care at affordable costs, seniors get to stay within the comfort of their own home and in the midst of their loved ones. And familial bonding can be therapeutic in that it gives the senior comfort and confidence to recover.
That being said, in-home care does come with its share of challenges. Understanding the health condition of the senior and catering to their unique needs can certainly make this easy for caregivers and family members.
If your senior family member has Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia, here’s a simple guide that will come in handy.
Create a Safe Environment
Declining mental health affects judgment and decision-making abilities, eventually increasing the risk of injury to individuals. Needless to say, when providing in-home care to seniors, assessing potential hazards and preparing the home environment is essential to preventing accidents.
Remove furniture like foot stools, coffee tables, racks, etc. that the senior might trip over. Simply do away with unsteady furniture instead of rearranging everything as doing so might cause confusion.
Do away with area rugs and clutter to prevent falls. Also make sure there are no loose wires and cables around the house.
Install safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases. Ensure the top and bottom steps are of a contrasting color to the flooring- use paint or color strips.
Install handrails and grab bars in areas like the staircase and bathroom. Use anti-slip mats and strips in the shower and bathtub.
Keep medications, chemicals, sharp utensils, and other potential hazards out of their reach. Install safety locks on cabinets and drawers that house these hazards.
Help with Organization
Clutter creates visual noise and can give rise to undue stress. Keeping things that are absolutely necessary and organizing them well can minimize confusion for the senior, and make it easier for them to find things (such as clothes) and take decisions.
Label cupboards, drawers, cabinets, and baskets in big, bold font to help the senior tell what’s kept where easily. You can use pictures as labels too.
Print important and emergency phone numbers and addresses in a large font size and put them up by the phone. Keep a pad and a pen handy for the senior to jot down things.
Designate obvious places for objects- for example, place keys in a bowl near the main door.
Reduce visual clutter by opting for solid colored sheets and tablecloths instead of printed ones. Color code objects or appliances for ease of use.
Stick to Routine
Lack of structure can give rise to anxiety, which can further trigger behavior issues in seniors with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Getting seniors to follow a strict daily routine can eliminate irregularities and promote peaceful living.
Schedule meals, baths, and grooming activities around the same time each day. Difficult tasks should be scheduled around times when the senior is most calm and agreeable.
Get the senior to do tasks like dressing or light chores like dusting by themselves. Keep them engaged in activities– this will not only give them something to do, but also help maintain self-esteem and boost motor and cognitive skills.
Be consistent with getting the senior to maintain social connections, perform light exercises like walking, going out for shopping, etc.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia manifest differently in different individuals. Since the rate of progression of these diseases also differs from person to person, expect to see changes in the senior’s attitude, behavior, and abilities from time to time.
Realize that the senior might need extra time to get chores done. Avoid rushing them through getting dressed or finishing meals. Help them focus on the task at hand by minimizing distractions- for example, turn off the TV.
Don’t do things for the senior just to get the job done; encourage independence by letting them get dressed or perform chores by themselves.
Limit choices and break tasks into smaller ones to help the senior to focus. Watch out for signs of over-stimulation, and allow frequent breaks as needed.
Remember that individuals who have dementia struggle with memory, logic, and judgment. When you hear the senior say something that isn’t true or see them do something that’s not quite right, control your instincts and refrain from correcting them.
Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can have a substantial impact on the lives of individuals with these diseases. Since these progressive brain diseases affect thought processes, reasoning, personality, and behavior, family members and caregivers can find it difficult to care for such senior individuals.
Taking steps in the right direction can make caring for seniors manageable in the long-term. With the information provided here, you now know how to go about caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Written by Evan Thompson
About Evan Thompson, Guest Contributor, CEO and Founder of Senior.One
Evan Thompson, CEO, and Founder of Senior.One has a long-standing interest in finding solutions for seniors. He helps connect senior citizens and their family members with elder care service providers and find the resources they need in one place. He offers information on nursing homes, hospice, financial planning, adult care, lifestyle and assisted living albuquerque. He provides information on housing, medical professionals, financial planning services, and lifestyle options.
Assisted living facilities are a senior living alternative for those with few assistance needs with their daily living and care. Typically, they don’t require the intensive medical and nursing care provided in a nursing home. Despite the great advantages of moving into an assisted living facility, making the decision is difficult for many seniors and their families. Listed below are some common misconceptions about assisted living facilities that may help you understand the benefits of this option.
Myths about Assisted Living
1. Assisted Living means you are no longer independent
Sometimes, due to illness or disabilities that advance with age, it becomes more and more difficult to perform tasks that were once so simple. While it is true that becoming fully dependent on others doesn’t sound ideal, it’s unfair to say that assisted living facilities take independence away completely. When the residence and the system work correctly, assisted living facilities can encourage the physical and mental strength of its residents. Independence and privacy should be provided when choosing to live in an assisted living facility. Plus, most assisted living facilities have different, spacious floor plans to choose from, which allows you to furnish it yourself — giving the residence a real sense of “home.”
2. Big Name facilities provide the best care
Trusting the big name or better-known companies without doing your due diligence can be a bit naïve! You might put your loved one into a situation where they’re less comfortable than if you had done the proper research. Take your time checking newspapers, the Better Business Bureau, the state agency responsible for regulating assisted living facilities, and – nowadays – the internet! Look for Google, Facebook, or Yelp reviews and sort through the most recent. This way, you can get a clear picture of what kind of facility it really is. Also, check for their license, and history of state inspections.
Lately, we have seen a shift in demand for the smaller, more home-like facilities. They provide a more intimate-feeling facility for their residents. Smaller facilities have more flexibility to be creative with their daily activities, furnishing of the facility, food menus, and level of care. At the end of the day, it is a personal choice based on the needs and health of the potential resident. The best advice we can give is to do all your proper research on the facilities that you have in mind. If possible, tour as many as you can before making the final decision.
3. Staying at home is more affordable
One of the most common concerns about assisted living is the impression that staying at home is more affordable. While this may be true in some cases, the actual cost-savings benefit might not be as big as you would imagine. The main reason? A large percentage of those who decide to remain at their homes end up relying on unpaid family caregivers. These caregivers may be under-equipped to handle an older adult’s deteriorating health or disabilities, which can lead to an excessive amount of strain on the family. Furthermore, the financial burden incurred by the family (due to having to take significant time away from their own careers to help with activities like feeding, bathing, dressing, transporting, running errands, or helping around the house) can become quite expensive in the long run.
4. Moving to assisted living facility means giving up all your hobbies
Actually, it is quite the opposite! Living within a similar age group and like-minded community has shown that seniors are more active than they were when living by themselves. Most facilities have a wide array of hobbies such as – gardening, fitness and yoga, bingo, cards, book clubs, cooking classes, and more. Studies have shown that seniors who are active and engaged within their community tend to be healthier and happier overall.
Allowing yourself permission to have a good cry can act like pressing the reset button. Caregiving is emotionally taxing and asks that you hold space for another human being. Sometimes this means putting another’s needs ahead of your own. But it’s imperative you care just as much for yourself for your own mental health, and for the quality of care you can give. Human beings are the only animals that cry as an emotional response, and there’s a reason we’ve evolved to do that. It’s because crying is incredibly beneficial to us, and here’s why.
Crying Removes Toxins
William H. Frey II, Ph.D conducted the first, and still most prominent research on tears in the 1980’s. His study revealed that crying relieves stress because it “rids the body of potentially harmful chemicals.” The protein level is much higher in emotionally induced tears in comparison to the ones you might shed hitting your funny bone. Crying in an exocrine process like urination, sweating and exhaling. Our bodies, and thereby our minds feel better after being rid of chemicals it doesn’t need.
Crying Alleviates Stress
Charles Darwin, the father of evolution thought that crying alleviated suffering. However, he thought that emotional crying might be purposeless. Dr. Frey does not agree with this notion, stating that Darwin himself showed that evolution “doesn’t favour purposeless processes.” A study conducted at the University of South Florida found that crying is an effective self-soother. Actually, it can elevate your mood as effectively as any anti-depressant. The study found that 90% of criers felt better after an average of a six-minute cry.
Tears Help Communication
Crying can often express what words cannot, making them a key tool for better understanding one another. When we cry in the presence of someone else, we become very vulnerable, but also very emotionally connected. In an article for Science Digest, writer Ashley Montagu explains that crying has the power to foster community. They can often include very happy and emotionally stable people who are prepared to hold space and provide support. It doesn’t have to be a community exclusive to people suffering.
Deciding to hire an in-home caregiver can be both relieving and stressful. Wanting the absolute best for your aging parent or grandparent doesn’t mean you have to take on all of the responsibilities yourself. Thankfully, there are a variety of options for getting you some extra support in caring for your loved one. Making the decision to share the varied duties of care and companionship gives you the time to also care for yourself.
In-Home Placement Agencies
Taking an advice from people you know you have used a care agency is a good starting point. You can also use a website like Care to find the best agency near you to best suit your loved one’s needs. References from whatever agency you find can be provided to you by request. Testimonials can also often be found online. These agencies screen applicants, provide training and handle all necessary paperwork. The risk of allowing someone to provide care that lacks experience using this route is low. Most agencies have a very strict set of standards and qualifications all their caregivers must meet. They can also provide you with care back up’s if your requested caregiver is for any reason unavailable. However, you should consider that the cost for these services is higher than opting for a private-hire.
In-Home Private Care
If you have more time available to you in your search for a caregiver, you can manage the hiring yourself. Hiring directly with a private caregiver allows you to make a personal connection with possible candidates to make an informed decision. It’s imperative that you review the qualifications and qualities of all candidates during a personal interview. This research will need to done yourself. You’ll want to run background checks, ask for references and explore devising a clear contract. When choosing to hire privately, you should always have a list of potential backups screened and ready to replace your primary caregiver.