Observations to Note When Visiting Loved Ones

Holidays and home visits often go hand in hand. Visiting loved ones is a great opportunity to take a detailed look at their living situation. Changes in a family member’s lifestyle or habits can vary greatly and so catching something different may be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. These are some

An Alzheimer’s Fourth of July

Have you ever gone out with a group of friends or were at a party where you became overwhelmed unexpectedly? This occurs more frequently for some than others. Each individual reacts differently during this experience. Reactive outbursts become more prevalent during periods of extreme over-stimulation. Examples often resemble verbal aggression, physical aggression, socialization withdrawal, and

Let’s Be SMART – a Good Way to Stop Medicare Fraud

by Karen Fletcher,   Most of us either have Medicare or know and love someone who does. This means that Medicare fraud is something that affects us all. And we feel it not just through billions of lost tax payer dollars and money spent on unnecessary treatments and services, but also through identity theft,

Combatting dehydration

With summer’s warm weather, be on the lookout for dehydration in your loved one. The signs include confusion, fatigue, weakness, and sleepiness. Some people become dizzy and their balance is thrown off. Dry mouth, headaches, and muscle cramps are other symptoms of dehydration. It is estimated that 20%–40% of seniors are dehydrated. Getting them to

Dementia and finances

If the person you care for has dementia—memory or thinking problems from a condition such as Alzheimer’s, a stroke, or Parkinson’s—unpaid bills or a messy checkbook may have been your first sign that something was amiss. Certainly, in the later stages of dementia, your loved one won’t be able to manage their finances. But what

The “Sandwich Generation”

Elderly parents are living longer. Children are often dependent for more years than expected. Add to this the ongoing responsibilities to spouse/partner and jobs, and there is little wiggle room for the millions of family caregivers who find themselves squeezed in the middle as the “Sandwich Generation.” When you are pressed on both sides like

Swollen legs and feet

Many older adults experience swollen legs and feet. For some, it’s because of sitting a lot and leading a sedentary lifestyle. For others, it’s the water retention side effect of a medication. And for others, the swelling—called “edema”—is a symptom of a chronic or even serious illness such as heart failure or liver or kidney

Does brain training work?

The brain is another organ to keep fit, and regular workouts are a good thing! Our brains enable many types of thinking: Problem solving, planning, attention, and memory. They manage our emotions and help us understand the emotions of others. Our brains also control movement (balance, speed, and coordination). And it’s where we process our

Understanding the rhythm of a disease

Much of the strain of caring for a loved one lies in the loss of a predictable routine, a sense of “normalcy.” Understanding the course of your loved one’s condition—the rhythm of how it unfolds—can empower you to respond more flexibly to its challenges. Do any of these patterns ring true for your situation? Relapsing

Text message scamming: “Smishing”

Your loved one may be watching for phishing scams on email, but now there are scams carried out by short message service (aka, texting). “Smishing” scams rose 58% in 2021. Nationwide they cost victims over $10 billion. Seniors are a prime target, as three out of five now own smartphones. While convenient, smartphones present new

Caregiving with kids

Children generally like to feel included. But they may not know how to relate to an ill family member with limited abilities. Here are some ideas for home-based activities with elementary-age children. Finger foods are fun to prepare and eat together. Keep it simple: Chunks of cheese with crackers, peanut butter in celery, wash-and-eat fruits

Living with cancer as a chronic condition

Has your loved one been diagnosed with cancer? The vast majority (67%) of people with cancer live for another five years or more. A cancer is considered “stable” or “controlled” when tumors shrink or at least temporarily stop growing. This is not the same as being cured—no tumors—but it does make cancer more of a

When you envy others

Do you ever look at friends and find yourself mad or upset because they have free time? They don’t have a relative that needs help? You might even wish they had it harder, had some real challenge in their life. And then you feel guilty. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Envy is

Primary care providers

A primary care provider (PCP) is charged with monitoring and treating a person’s whole body. Specialists abound and indeed are important. But we are more than the sum of our organs. Your relative’s PCP helps ensure that specialists are not doing things that counteract each other. If you are looking for a new PCP, there

Cooking tips for the visually impaired

Is low vision making it harder for your loved one to cook? If food preparation has been one of their pleasures, they are probably grieving not only the change in their eyesight, but also the loss of creating and serving delicious meals. Even if cooking has not been a passion, the ability to safely prepare

Interrupt the stress cycle with deep breathing

We’re breathing all the time. But when it comes to stress relief, not all breathing is equal. The body’s stress cycle Our bodies are built to handle periodic crises. When we sense danger, our bodies release “stress hormones” that enable us to respond powerfully and fast. When the crisis is over, those hormones are no

Poetry and dementia

If the person you care for has dementia, you may have noticed their withdrawal from conversations, movies, even from reading books or the newspaper. Anything with an involved plot line is now too difficult for them to follow. Poetry, on the other hand, involves rhythm and images, which can stimulate memories of experiences, emotions, smells,

Organ donation

Those who donate organs, eyes, or tissue leave a tremendous legacy, often the gift of life itself: Allowing someone a steady heartbeat. Or the vision to see a grandchild. Or healthy skin to cover a burn or cancer site. National Healthcare Decisions Day (April 16) is when everyone is encouraged to create or update their

Should Dad move in?

Combining households has many benefits: Less hassle running back and forth between two residences, less worry about Dad eating well and remembering his meds, more family social time for him, cost savings on rent and utilities, etc. But if things do not work out, disentangling could cause hurt feelings and damage your relationship. Consider these

The journey of late life

Families spend three to five years caring for an aging relative. At first it may be light chores or small errands now and then. But over time, health challenges emerge and needs grow. In his book, My Mother, Your Mother, geriatrician Dennis McCullough outlines eight “stations” in the journey of late life. For each one,


People who go through chemotherapy for cancer often complain about “chemobrain.” If your loved one is under treatment and is having trouble with memory, thinking, and concentration, it is likely from the chemo drugs. The fuzzy thinking may not go away right when chemo stops. But it usually recedes over time. Encourage your loved one

Caregiving apps

Juggling multiple schedules, keeping other relatives informed, ensuring prescriptions are filled … these are but some of the many duties you may face as a family caregiver. In some instances, a simple spreadsheet can do the trick. But an app makes it easier to coordinate with others. Admittedly, every app has a learning curve and

Psychological first aid

Anxiety and stress commonly accompany family caregiving. The ongoing pandemic and its stream of variants are only adding to that. Perhaps you could use a little “psychological first aid.” These are skills or techniques first responders are trained to teach or apply to distressed persons after urgent physical issues have been addressed. The goal of

When your relative has money questions

Is Dad asking if he should sell the house now that Mom is gone? Or perhaps Aunt Mary is anxious about her stock investments. Even if you are good at managing your own money, helping a relative make financial decisions can bring a lot of pressure. Consider hiring a professional to advise you. A financial

Reducing the nausea of chemo

If a loved one in your life is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, very likely they are dealing with the common side effects of nausea and vomiting. Not fun. Encourage them to follow these tips. To reduce nausea/vomiting Avoid strong odors: Reduce exposure to cooking, perfume, and smoke. Keep the house well ventilated. Spend time outside.

Protecting the house from Medicaid

Care in a nursing home is expensive. For an extended stay, most people will need to pay quite a bit out of their own pocket. If there are no savings, Medicaid—the joint state-federal health insurance for low-income individuals—will step in. But it’s not a free ride. Medicaid allows recipients living in nursing homes to own

Signs of an online “sweetheart scam”

Romance crime is on the rise. Over 25,000 people reported a sweetheart scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2019, a threefold increase since 2016. Individuals age 65 and older were the hardest hit, with a median loss of $9465 (across all ages, the median loss was $2500 per individual). If your loved one

Subtle signs of a heart attack

It may surprise you to learn that the signs of a heart attack, especially in women, can be very different than those for men. Subtle signs of a heart attack We all know the classic heart attack portrayed over and over again in movies and on TV: Someone writhing in sudden, severe chest pain. But

When your relative is actively dying

In the last two weeks, as a loved one is nearing death, it is natural to want to be at their side. But then, what? Especially if you have never been in this situation before, you may feel uncertain—even awkward—about what to do. The ideal is to be a calm, reassuring, and loving presence focused

Need a new doctor?

The pandemic has brought on a wave of physician retirements. Perhaps one of your relative’s doctors has sent a letter announcing the close of their practice. Yikes! When choosing a new physician, it’s worth the time to do some research. The right fit is critical to your loved one’s health and well-being. Begin by asking

Friends? Who has time?

If you are like most family caregivers, your social life has dropped in priority as you juggle your loved one’s needs. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up all your friendships in addition to your family responsibilities. It may also be that friendships are now harder to keep. Many people don’t

A spouse’s grief in the face of dementia

Grief is the expected response to a loved one’s death. We expect to mourn, and we receive comfort from others. But in the context of a dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, the loss is not as clear cut. Your partner is “here but not here.” And you do not receive the same support or acknowledgment

Making the best use of your time off

Time off from caregiving is precious. But after a break, many family caregivers find they don’t feel as refreshed as they hoped they would. Current research provides insights about how to get the most from a respite break. Common respite mistakes Unplanned time. It may sound good to “have no plans.” But that can backfire

Writing the last chapter

If your loved one has health challenges, they may be feeling a loss of control. Add to that a terminal diagnosis and a sense of doom may prevail. But recognizing that life is coming to a close does not have to mean one waits glumly for the end. Following are some of the many ways

Private pay services for care at home

Typically, it’s family members who fill in to perform the necessary tasks. But for many, perhaps including you, there are obstacles to helping on a regular basis. (Quitting your job to provide care is risky. Leaving work midcareer jeopardizes your retirement options and savings.) Of course, you can hire people to support a loved one

Hearing the TV better

Is your loved one having trouble hearing the television? Closed captioning isn’t helping enough? Check out these possible solutions. Better sound from the TV. Check the TV for special audio settings that enhance dialogue and reduce background noise. Or purchase a “soundbar” to plug in to the TV. These improve audio volume and crispness. Place

Engaging activities for persons with dementia

It is usually obvious what a person with dementia is no longer able to do. But finding things your loved one CAN do may feel like a challenge, especially if memory loss is severe. Here are some tips: Activities are important. They answer core human needs for identity and personal expression life purpose and meaning

Help at home: Community programs

For nonmedical support, check out community programs. Many are provided by nonprofit organizations. Others by faith communities. And still others by local government. Most offer discounts or a sliding-scale fee. Transportation. Check if there are volunteer driver programs sponsored by a senior center or faith community. If bus service is available, there is usually an

Holidays without your loved one

The holiday season is a festive time of year, but it may not feel much like a celebration for people grieving the loss of a loved one. Holidays are an especially tender time for missing those who are no longer with us. With so many COVID-related deaths in the US, loss has touched many of

The special needs of Vietnam-era vets

Almost 3.5 million members of the military served in Vietnam between 1964 and 1975. Was your relative one of them? This group of veterans continues to face physical and mental health problems. Agent Orange. This is an herbicide that was widely sprayed during the war. It can cause many illnesses (for instance, some cancers, Parkinson’s

Products for addressing incontinence

There are many undergarments designed to help with incontinence. They can’t prevent it, but they can help your loved one feel more comfortable with outings and retain their dignity despite the embarrassment of accidents. Not all products are the same. Choose what’s right for the situation and need. For outings, aim for a garment that

Is Medicare Advantage the best choice?

Once a year, Medicare offers the option to change plans. In 2021, the Open Enrollment period is October 15–December 7. Your loved one may be considering a switch to a “Medicare Advantage” plan. There are pros and cons. Medicare “Parts.” People on “original Medicare” typically receive hospital coverage (Part A) and doctor care (Part B). In

Depression after a scary diagnosis

If the person you care for has a life-threatening illness, you might think it’s only natural for them to feel down. Even hopeless from time to time. But weeks of sadness are not a side effect one simply has to tolerate. It is not uncommon for someone with cancer or a similarly scary diagnosis to

Too many pills: When less is more

More than half of older adults take five or more medications per day. That’s “polypharmacy,” and can be dangerous. Taking too many medicines can cause problems such as dizziness, mental confusion, and heart failure. It can create an increased risk of falls, which often lead to the end of independent living. An estimated 10% to

Managing emotional outbursts

If the person you care for has Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, you may find their sudden emotional swings more difficult than their forgetfulness. Among many things, the disease has taken away their inhibitions. They can become quite irrational. And they are more likely to make a scene in public than they ever

The “dignity of risk”

One of the most challenging dilemmas when caring for an aging parent is balancing their preference for independence with your concern for their safety. If you have noticed lapses in cleanliness, meals, bill payment, or other areas, you may be worried that your loved one is not able to safely live alone. They may refuse

Not all socks are created equal

What do a marathon runner and your aging parent have in common? Both could benefit from compression socks! By applying pressure to the legs, compression socks help the valves in the veins do their work—so blood is pushed back to the heart and doesn’t pool in the legs. The socks also help keep lymph fluid

Dealing with anxiety

It’s only natural for family caregivers to worry. Understandably, we spend a lot of time thinking about “what’s next.” But if you are in a pattern of persistent worry and are starting to feel the stress in your body too—perhaps headaches, loss of appetite, or trouble sleeping—you may be dealing with anxiety. You are not

Services at home: Medicare

Medicare is health insurance provided by the federal government. It covers adults 65 and older, as well as persons with disabilities. In terms of home care, Medicare pays for visits only by medically trained staff. In that light, there are two programs: Home health care involves periodic home visits for a month or two. The

Coping with another person’s pain

When your family member is in pain, you are suffering, too. The “mirror neurons” in our brains are programmed to recognize pain in others. That’s good news in that it arouses compassion and spurs us to action. But it can be bad news, too. When you are highly attuned to a loved one’s pain, you

What is a daily money manager?

A financial advisor manages investments. A daily money manager (DMM) is someone who comes to the home once or twice a month to handle the mundane aspects of personal finances: Paying monthly bills (but your loved one signs the checks). Balancing the checkbook. Navigating health insurance claims. Resolving billing errors. Tracking donations. Organizing paperwork. Gathering

The decision to stop dialysis

Dialysis is life sustaining yet also quite taxing for the patient. About 25% of people who choose dialysis later decide to stop. Typically, this is because the burdens of this kidney disease treatment have severely reduced their quality of life. The tradeoff becomes no longer acceptable. Ending dialysis is essentially a decision to let nature

Learning to forgive yourself

According to psychologist Rick Hanson, PhD, we all have an inner critic and an inner protector. Together they help us maintain a balanced perspective. But too often as family caregivers, we have an overload of guilt, shame, and remorse, always feeling our performance is subpar, that we haven’t done enough. This is not healthy. The

The healing power of music

Can listening to calming music actually ease pain? Can singing silly songs make you happier? Researchers say this isn’t just a folktale—it represents some of the measurable effects of music on the mind and body. Although it’s not yet clear exactly how music works its magic, studies show that it is strong medicine, both in

Dealing with criticism

Receiving criticism is never a pleasant experience, especially from family members. Whether it is a sibling griping about how you care for a relative or complaints from the person you are caring for, you may feel suddenly flooded with difficult emotions. Perhaps anger, shame, or confusion. We can’t stop others from giving criticism. But we

What is a Medicaid spend down?

There are two forms of government health insurance: Basically, age-based insurance for older adults (age 65+), regardless of income and assets. (Assets include money and belongings, such as a house or car.) Income-based insurance funded with federal and state dollars. (The state where your relative lives may have a name different than “Medicaid.”) This insurance

Bladder issues

If making it to the bathroom in time is a frequent concern for your relative, they may have an overactive bladder. More than 33 million Americans contend with this condition, in which misfiring nerves cause the bladder muscles to contract involuntarily. Your loved one may be too embarrassed to bring it up with the doctor,

In Honor of Older Americans Month

Walt and Penny Reinhardt (My Parents) They met during WW2 – he, a handsome Yankee flyboy; she, a Morse Code operator for the Women’s Australian Air Force. He was fascinated by her flaming red hair and beauty; she was attracted to his bravado and good looks. They married and he moved her from the sunny

April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day – Start the conversation

Advance care planning puts you in control of your end-of-life decisions by documenting the types of care you do and do not want. This also gives those you love the guidance to make decisions for you when you are unable to decide for yourself. It can lead to better outcomes and to reduced costs for

Equality In Healthcare For African-American Older Adults

Racial equality is an important topic in the United States and around the world right now. As a society, we must work together to find solutions to ensure that People of Color have access to the freedoms and support they need in all aspects of life. Inequality in the health care system is another concern

COVID-19: Understanding Your Options

Many people are considering how they would like to be treated if they do contract Covid-19. This is a very personal matter, taking into consideration one’s current health status, underlying health conditions including diabetes, age, and how much risk one is willing to take. Please review the information in the “Understanding Your Options” section. Then

Caring for Aging Parents During a Pandemic? Professional Support is Available!

by: Linda Fodrini-Johnson Millions of families, and my own family, are under great pressure during this unprecedented time in our nation’s history. We had been worried or concerned about our aging parents before the pandemic, but now we are even more stressed worrying about them contracting this devastating disease. There is so much conflicting (and

Staying safe during Scam Season!”

According to an article in the San Bernardino Sun, holiday times are open season for online scammers and fraud. The three most successful scam types on ages 65+ are tech support, a family or friend in emergency, and investment opportunities. People ages 55-64 are most likely to fall for romance scams, investment opportunities, and employment

Good Neighbor Day

Social isolation affects nearly 1 in 5 older adults. According to AARP, studies have shown that isolation and loneliness are as bad for your health as smoking and obesity; especially for seniors. It is common for seniors to isolate themselves or withdraw from contacting their families for fear that they may be bothersome. As a

Vietnam Vets Can Collect Disability Benefits

You Could Be Eligible For Vietnam Veterans Disability Compensation The Veterans Administration has recognized certain cancers and other diseases as presumptive of exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Veterans AND THEIR SURVIVORS may be eligible for disability compensation.  ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s disease; ALL VETS with ALS (not just Vietnam vets)

The Comprehensive Care Plan

Parent Care Management Services is pleased to announce that we are adding a new service to our growing business. The Comprehensive Care Plan is an amazing opportunity for families to prepare for the rapid changes that are inevitably linked to those who are aging. The Comprehensive Care Plan provides a platform for older adults to be

Has your family developed a Family Plan?

What is a Family Plan? A family plan is a written document incorporating the wishes of a family unit in five fields – financial, legal, medical, living arrangements, and personal values.  A Plan should be developed while the persons(s) is mentally well enough to be able to relay his/her/their wishes to the rest of the

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