Thursday, July 21, 2016

Medical Alert Systems: Keeping Mom as Independent as Possible

When you can encourage and assist your aging parents and loved ones to remain as independent as possible you keep their minds healthy and their bodies working; albeit slower than ever before. As we all age, tasks become more challenging and our agility is challenged everyday.

While it may seem much safer to place Mom where she can just sit, watch TV or read and be waited on all day, that may not be the best way to keep her strong and vibrant.

Keep them Safe
What is essential is to make the scene as safe as possible.
  • Remove clutter and obstacles such as throw rugs. 
  • Hang grab bars where needed throughout the house. 
  • Place everyday items for cooking, eating, bathing, dressing, etc. within a safe reach may mean some serious "redecorating" and reconsideration. 
  • Purchase reachers and a maybe a couple of walkers
  • The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house. Use a bedside commode at night can help avoid falls.  
These can all help to reduce fall risk and improve their ability to remain independent for as long as possible.

Medical Alert Systems
One of the most valuable tools for your own peace of mind is a medical alert system. has complied a great list of possibilities and provides the pros and cons as well as straight out reasons for eliminating some. It's a great resource to have and to share!
alert system.

Arranging for transportation and assistance with the heavier duties such as shopping and attending to medical or other appointments can help them ease into giving up the car without necessitating unnecessary hours of caregiving until they are needed. Laundry and house keeping chores can be piecemealed as well.

Things can and will eventually turn on a dime and you need to have a plan to implement immediately, but until then try to keep them vibrant and as independent as possible. It takes effort, thought and commitment, but after 80 time begins to run out quickly. Cherish those moments and give them your best shot. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Top Resources for Seniors

I recently received this great list of resources from Richard Wright at (Thank you Richard)! I hope you will all find some of these beneficial to your own situations to keep yourselves healthy as caregivers and to help keep your elderly love ones active, safe and healthy too. It's a great list to keep for future needs as well.

And here are a few more:

On 5/24/18 I'm adding these:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Caregivers: Save Time Wherever You Can

My time is much more limited these days. I need to make sure I make things as efficient and easy as I can so that I have some time for myself. Caregiver fatigue is REAL and if you don't fill your cup first, you'll never be able to fill the cup for others.

Elimination (poop and pee) is a private matter and dignity is jeopardized when our loved ones loose control, or are no longer able to make it to the bathroom. Using a bedpan or bedside commode can be disheartening. But alas it is also a necessity as time, illness and age takes its toll. So we have to do the best we can, and try to make as little of it all as we can to save face and dignity for our loved ones.

I recently found an item that helps to diminish the stress and reduce the time consumed in dealing with bedside commodes. It also helps somewhat with dignity issues because the disposal is quick and easy.

Bedside commode liners have become one of my best friends these days. The small plastic bag fits easily over the bucket and the gel insert helps to absorb liquids. The bag has a draw string to secure it shut and whole thing can then be placed in the trash. Clean up time is reduced significantly from having to empty and clean the bucket after each use. It's more sanitary and as I've said, it saves time which is a precious commodity.

The brand I purchased from (shown above) are Medline Industries MDS89664LINER Commode Liners with Absorbent Pads (Pack of 72)

 I have to admit I have some issues with this because I try hard to be a "green" person, but again, I have to look after me too and this makes life easier at this point. So please don't judge me unless you've walked in my shoes for awhile. All any of us can do is try our best to reduce our carbon footprint when and where we can, and I do practice that. Meanwhile I also have to take care of me!

Medical Supply Depot

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Having Your Loved One Move In Or Placing Them In A Nursing Home

By Donna Fitzgerald

In today’s fast life, people often regret that they are unable to take good care of their aging parents at home. Providing the best care for an aging loved one is often tough. One of the challenges that people face is whether to keep an aging and ill parent at home, or whether a nursing home for the elderly would be the place where they would get the best care and medical facilities. It is a tough decision and by no means, an easy or inexpensive one. That is the reason it is a wise decision to consult with them beforehand and know which option is comfortable for them. If that is no longer an option, here are some things to consider.

Things to consider:

If you are considering keeping an aging loved one at home, you need to make certain modifications to your house to make it safe and convenient for them to stay in. You need to make your home easy for them to navigate. Renovating a home can be expensive; this should factor into your considerations.

You need to speak candidly with your parents about their choice and wish to settle down with you. They may not be comfortable with this decision. Asking for their consent and input on the situation is very important. If you have parents who are used to being very independent, moving in with you may not be the best option for them.

If you have friends who also have elderly members in their homes, or in assisted living facilities, you should consult with them and discuss the issue. Asking for advice can provide insight on how to handle the situation.

Often, the amount of care the elderly parents need will increase with time, and may even prove to be too much to handle on your own. If you have very young kids, this can prove to be increasingly challenging for the entire family.

If you are planning to put your parents in an assisted living facility, you need to consider whether your parents are financially stable. Talk to your parents about their insurance coverage. Find out whether they have any long-term care insurance in their name. And check yo see exactly what it covers. Check their Medicaid and Medicare coverage and consider how your parents' medical care costs will be met.

How to pick the right nursing home:
If you think that keeping your aging parents in a nursing home is the best option, you need to research well and pick the right one. There are horrible stories of nursing home abuse, and it is crucial that you do your research carefully. Before choosing, check the ratings, reviews and visit it personally. Find out the cost of different facilities in your area so that you are able to compare them. 

It is also important to compare the cost of an assisted living facility versus keeping and caring for them at home. The final decision, should be made factoring in what would be best for your loved ones, and where they would get the care and lifestyle that they need at that stage in their life.

Donna Fitzgerald is a North Carolina native who encourages healthy behaviors, and believes in the importance of caring for our elders. She has two daughters and enjoys spending time with her family.

Thanks Donna!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Resource for Placement Options

I happened upon a great new resource for information about placement for your aging parents in nursing facilities. offers great resources and advise on issues such as elder abuse and neglect and how to avoid nursing homes with high risk. It's a very user-friendly site which as we all know is very important when dealing with a crisis and having limited time to research and make decisions. Check it out and see what is available in your area.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How To Decide On Your Loved Ones' End-of-Life Care

By Felicity Dryer

Deciding on end-of-life care is one of the most important decisions you can make, and there are many factors that go into it, like:
      How much care is needed?
      How much care can you afford?
      How involved do you want to be?
      Where is the care going to happen?
      Are there any pre-existing directives for care?

All of these are outstanding questions, but they can also be a little intimidating to answer. Today, I’m going to walk you through the process of answering these questions and ultimately making a decision you’ll be happy with.

How Much Care Is Needed?

There’s no point in worrying about the care itself until you know how much of it you need - a senior who only needs a few pills each week probably doesn’t need a live-in assistant! Unfortunately, this question is difficult to answer because none of us know how much care we’re actually going to need in the last decade or two of our life.

As such, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor each time there’s a major change in your loved one’s condition and ask about the kind of help and care they’ll need. Once you know how much care is needed, you can start focusing on the other questions.

How Much Care Can You Afford?

Not every household can afford the very best in medical treatments - but families often find themselves on the hook for payments if their normal claims are denied. Cost is a real factor in end-of-life care decisions, but it doesn’t have to be as frightening as you think, especially when you know how to keep things on a budget.

Once you know what you need, you can start looking to see how much it costs - and check to see if there are alternative payments or more affordable alternatives. For example, a permanent live-in caregiver could be quite costly, but someone who only visits for an hour or two every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday could be far easier to fit into your budget.

The most important thing is getting the care your loved ones actually need - and with a little bit of training, chances are you can give most of that care yourself if necessary.

How Involved Do You Want To Be?

The advice I’ve just given assumes that you want to be involved in caring for your loved ones as they continue to age - but that’s not true for every family. Some people honestly don’t want to see the ravages of problems like disease and dementia, preferring to only create happy memories.

This is a personal decision, and there are no right or wrong answers. However, you should keep in mind that the more you’re willing to do yourself, the less the care is likely to cost you. You can also split the care between several members of your family - if each of you visits on a different day of the week, you could provide steady and regular care without the stress of doing it yourself every single day.

Where Is The Care Going To Happen?

The answer to this question is dictated mainly by the answers to the three above it. Some types of health care require being in a hospital or other long-term care facility, while others can easily be administered at home with little or no trouble. It’s worth noting that as seniors continue to age, they’re more likely to need permanent supervision of some kind - even if you’re willing to live with them for now, you may want to have a plan for transferring them to a nursing home or other facility at some point.

Are There Any Pre-Existing Directives For Care?

In a way, this is the most important question to ask - because some people don’t want extra care. They may not want to be kept on life support, or continue to stick around if they’re completely bedridden and rapidly going downhill anyway. This is especially true if they’re in a great deal of pain.

It’s best to follow these advance decisions as much as possible. This allows your loved ones to stay in control of their medical decisions - and allows you to know that even if their minds are fading now, they’d be happy that you did what they asked. However, remember that they may change their minds as they continue to age, and that they’re allowed to do so as long as they remain legally competent to make their own decisions. Consider revisiting their advance decisions annually to see if there are any changes they’d like to see made - and stay informed about the rules and regulations for advance directives.

Originally born in Flagstaff, Arizona, Felicity Dryer was raised by her parents (more or less modern-day hippies) to always make her health a top priority. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career as a freelance health writer, and continues to help those seeking encouragement to keep moving forward to achieve their goals.

Thanks Felicity!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

National Healthcare Decisions Day

It's only fitting yesterday was Tax Day and today we need to talk about Dying. The only two guarantees in life: Death and Taxes. National Healthcare Decisions Day is hugely important to each of us not only for our own decisions but for our friends and family as well.

I recently participated in a Blog Carnival on my nursing blog about End-Of-Life Decisions. It's a wonderful conglomeration of experiences from a variety of nurses and from many different points of view. You might be well served to check these out as it's obvious even nurses struggle with discussing death and dying. My blog post talks to the point that these decisions empower us. 

As nurses, we've seen it from many points of view as the loved ones, the friends, and from the healthcare professional vantage point. We've seen our own families and friends struggle to make heart wrenching decisions when their loved ones did not tell them their wishes, and had to support others deal with the decisions their loved ones did make that don't always make sense in the moment.

As nurses we've also seen families fight amongst themselves over which way to proceed once it becomes clear the person isn't going to recover from the event or illness. One thing comes through loud and clear is that when the patient has not made decisions and has not discussed wishes even on a very hypothetical basis, it's even harder to have to make decisions for them. And when no one person or persons is made the DPOAHC (durable power of attorney for health care), families can completely destruct over who's making the decision and why? All this at a time when they need the love and support of each other.

Caution: Graphic Explanation Follows
A common conversation among nurses is often, "where shall I tattoo NO CPR? On my forehead or my chest?" Let's get some facts straight. Resuscitation is painful both physically and emotionally!! And the pain can last for a very long time and hinder any possible recovery. Ribs can easily be broken and organs punctured which complicate the process. Even without that possibility, it's painful to have a 200+ pound paramedic pouncing on your chest for any length of time! Using paddles to shock the body sends a painful electrical shock wave through your whole body.

And there are risks depending on how long the patient has been "down" prior to the CPR as well as the effectiveness of the CPR to circulate blood and oxygen to the brain and vital organs. What will the outcome be if the patient is brought back? Will there be tubes needed? A ventilator to support breathing? What extent of brain damage has been done? Has the heart suffered major damage? How will all of this affect the quality of life? Will there be anger or regrets?

What if I Want Everything Done?
YES, you and your loved ones have every right to demand that everything possible be done under any circumstances. And those decisions have to be honored as much as any other end-of-life decision. They can be faith based, fear based, ignorance based as well as based on your own desire to live forever. But they need to be made known to your loved ones and healthcare team as much as any other take on the subject to ensure they are followed.

On the other hand, if you do NOT wish to have heroic measures taken, you have the right to have those wishes followed as well. Advance Directives can be made as specific and complex as you desire. Or they can be vague and give your proxy to your an agent of your choosing to make the best decision based on the situation at hand.

These decisions need to be made and discussed with your loved ones LONG BEFORE there is a need to implement them. This is not just for those who are old or are in poor health. If you got hit by a bus crossing the street and complications set in, what path do you want your health care team to take?  And is your family prepared to comply with your wishes? Have that discussion with your loved ones Today. Make informed choices. There are NO right or wrong answers, but the questions and options need to be discussed.

Further Reading:
Today's the Day to Talk About How You Want to Die
Advanced Care Planning Resources
End of Life: Helping with Comfort and Care