Since holidays are for being with those we love most, how are we expected to cope during this memory-provoking season if a loved one has recently passed? Whether you are a senior who has lost a partner, or an adult child who has lost a parent, the holidays can now signify an emotional, depressing and often stressful experience. For many, the holidays magnify the loss, and become the time of year that’s the hardest for grieving. This is precisely why the need for support, and often help, is necessary during the holidays.
Grief Over the Holidays
Read below to learn how confronting grief can help heal the pain, no matter the situation.
Whether you have an aging parent who has lost a partner, or you are spending your first Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year without your parent, there are constructive ways to deal with grief during the holidays.
There are few things in life more likely to lead to depression than losing a spouse — especially for seniors in their twilight years, according to geriatric psychologist, Dr. Kernisan.
“As numerous research studies have demonstrated, spousal bereavement is a major source of life stress that often leaves people vulnerable to depression, chronic stress, even reduced life expectancy. And the holidays can be especially challenging. It’s important to consult a doctor, geriatrician, geriatric psychologist or geriatric psychiatrist for help in evaluating, diagnosing and treating the problem.”
Dr. Kernisan adds that disengagement and change in behavior are big warning signs that something is off with your loved one, and are often prevalent during the holidays after a spouse is lost. It’s being aware that there is a problem that is more than grief that is important.
“All three mentions of the serenity prayer are very difficult for seniors. ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Family members are key to helping their loved ones tackle these concepts of aging and healthy living.”
Here are things to watch out for if your aging parent has lost a spouse:
- Does your loved one have sudden or frequent sadness?
- Is there a loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy?
- Has there been a personality change?
- Does your love one have hopelessness?
- Is your loved one experiencing excessive or unusual worrying?
- Are there memory problems?
- Have you noticed a difficulty in their learning new things?
- Is organization a problem?
- Are there new difficulties with mental tasks?
- Have you noticed problems in driving?
- Have there been mistakes with finances?
- Is there unusual spending of money?
- Is there a lock of social or purposeful activities?
- Does your loved one suddenly seem or feel lonely?
Part 2 coming Wednesday December 23rd!
- I’ll Be Bored
With the amenities and activities offered by today’s senior living communities, there’s no time to be bored. Senior housing nowadays offers everything from field trips and outdoor excursions to fitness and personal enrichment classes. There are even unusual types of assisted living communities that cater to specific tastes—imagine living on or near a college campus and taking lifelong learning to its ultimate extreme!
- I’ll Drain All Of My Finances
Yes, senior living can seem financially daunting; no doubt about that. But if you’re already thinking about how to afford assisted living, you’re ahead of the game. With savvy financial planning—and maybe a little help from Social Security or VA benefits—senior living can sometimes come out to the same cost as living at home. If you factor in home health care, senior living communities just might cost less than staying at home.
- I’m Afraid that Strangers Won’t Take Good Care of Me / I’ll Be Neglected
There’s far, far more to senior living than the stereotype of adult children dropping off their elderly parents with random strangers. When it’s time for assisted living, the process of decision-making is one that should involve the entire family, and your older loved one should be just as comfortable with their new home as you are moving them there. Caregivers should remember to maintain regular contact with senior loved ones, particularly in the weeks after they first move.
Remember, too, that your loved one will be well cared for: good senior living homes are staffed by professionals who are experts on senior care, and can offer more advanced care if it’s called for. Neglect and elder abuse is a crime, and you can avoid it by finding a legitimate, licensed senior community.
- I Won’t Be Able to Control My Daily Life and Activities
Moving to a new residence, letting go of long-held habits of daily life—these are often realities of getting older, but they can be difficult and require major adjustment. Take your loved one’s concerns seriously and don’t minimize their feelings, says HelpGuide.org. The fact is, assisted living can be a necessary and freeing step for both seniors and their families. If it is already too difficult for a senior to care for herself independently, or for caregivers to provide the necessary help, then assisted living may be a good option. The emphasis is on safety and security, but also independence and privacy, enabling each resident to have the care they need without compromising individual dignity.
Your aging parent might find moving into senior living to be a scary prospect. Think again! We break down the 7 biggest fears of senior living and why there’s nothing to be worried about.
If pop culture is to be believed, senior living is for grey-beards and golden girls. It’s where you go when you have nobody else to take care of you, where you go to get old and decrepit. It’s your unavoidable fate when you can’t take care of yourself anymore. Forget that dismal picture! The truth is, the vast majority of our fears of senior living are inaccurate.
Especially in recent years, when baby boomers are reinventing what senior living really means, these common stereotypes are quickly falling by the wayside. Instead, what we have is a wide range of types of state-of-the-art senior housing, from independent living for active adults to assisted living for those who need a little day-to-day help. All of the options aim to provide older Americans with a lifestyle tailored to their individual needs and interests, while also offering the necessary care to remain physically, mentally, and socially healthy.
If you or your loved one is worried about moving into senior housing, read on for answers to some of the most common fears of senior living.
The Biggest Fears of Senior Living
- I Will Lose My Independence
While some seniors fear that assisted living is equal to a loss of independence, the truth is in fact much the opposite. Yes, you’ll have help with cleaning, cooking, and other chores that only become more onerous over time. What senior living offers is greater freedom with the precious time you do have. To make that time happy and rewarding, communities provide ample opportunity for social activities on-site as well as transportation around the area when you need it.
- People Will Forget About Me
It’s natural to worry about being alone, especially if you define yourself wholly or in part by those relationships you value. However, moving into senior living doesn’t mean you’ll lose those relationships. In fact, you just might value them even more. At the same time, a senior community provides new venues for social contact, not to mention on-site help when there’s an emergency.
- I Will Get Old and Sick Faster
Whether you’re old or young, it’s being alone or isolated that leads to anxiety and depression, while the social contact a senior community provides is key to better health and quality of life. If a senior loved one is already ill—with Alzheimer’s disease, for example—memory care offers daily stimulation, planned activities, and customized care, all of which can actually slow down the progress of an illness or even improve health and behavior.
Aging takes a toll on the brain. The brain literally shrinks as we age, losing up to 10% of its size. Research on aging shows that seniors experience declines in many key areas of cognitive function. Learn more about 10 ways to keep your mind sharp.
How to Keep Your Mind Sharp
Here are 10 activities you can incorporate into your life to help keep the mind sharp and brain nourished:
It has long been understood that the mind and body are interconnected. What benefits the body will benefit the brain. Regular exercise goes a long way to keeping the brain healthy.
- Read a Book
Reading is beneficial on many levels. When you read, not only do you absorb the information contained in the book, but the act of reading itself builds connections within the brain that make it more versatile.
- Eat Right
Many foods, including nuts, fish and red wine, have been linked to a healthy brain. But concentrating on an all-around healthy diet may be the best nutritional strategy for keeping the brain sharp.
- Maintain Good Posture
Maintaining an upright, un-slouched posture improves circulation and blood-flow to the brain.
- Sleep Well
A good night’s sleep is vitally important to a healthy mind, especially memory. Get enough sleep and, if necessary, take naps.
- Paint, Draw or Doodle
Whether it’s a masterpiece or a mere doodle, simply making a picture is an excellent workout for the brain.
- Listen to Music
Music affects the brain profoundly, and has been linked to improved cognition and memory functioning.
- Learn Something New
Many colleges and senior centers offer engaging, low-cost lectures and classes for older adults. Whether you’re learning a new language or beefing up your computer skills, ongoing education is a surefire way to keep sharp.
- Do Puzzles
When you challenge and stimulate yourself intellectually, you exercise your brain and increase your mental capacity. Crosswords are a popular choice, but puzzles of all kinds may be similarly helpful.
Writing improves working memory and your ability to communicate. It matters not whether it’s an email to family, a private journal or the “Great American Novel.”
It’s important to know that although there are no clinically proven ways to reverse the course of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, leading a healthy lifestyle that’s both socially and intellectually stimulating combats normal, age-related mental decline. This may decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia.
Find an outside outlet for your feelings. If you’re angry or resentful that Dad’s not with the program, vent to, confide in, or strategize with, a geriatric care manager, geriatrician, therapist, friend, sibling or online support group rather than your parents.
Treat them like the adults they are. Dr. Kane warns about infantilizing parents. “Dealing with a stubborn parent is not the same as dealing with a stubborn child. Older people should be autonomous.”
Accept the situation. You may want your mantra to be “It is what it is.” Said another way, “you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” As Modigliani points out, “they are adults with the right to make decision – even poor ones.”
Don’t beat yourself up. Roseann Vanella, 50, of Marlton, New Jersey, happens to be a family mediator. But even with her professional training, she has been unable to reason with her parents. Her father, 84, has dementia and her mother, 75, has a rare blood disorder. Still, her mother insisted on taking her husband to Sicily on vacation. Vanella told her, “I can’t stop you so at least get medical jet insurance.” She said she would. Soon after arriving in Italy, her mother’s disease kicked up, she needed a blood transfusion and to come home. She admitted she never purchased insurance. Vanella and her brother were on the next plane. “After that I said, ‘she’s never going to take him to Europe,’ but she did,” says Vanella. “I told her how bad it was for my dad since his dementia had progressed.” Again, Vanella had to go to Italy and bring them back. “The hardest part is knowing something could have been averted but wasn’t,” she notes. “My advice is not to hit your head against the wall too hard. There isn’t a lot we can do sometimes but stand by, watch closely and be able to jump in when needed.”
Have you or your family had an experience before where your parents didn’t listen? What did you do to resolve the matter? Share your story with us in the comments below.
Our parents always told us to listen to them, but what happens when they refuse to listen to us? Adult children are finding that Father doesn’t always know best when it comes to his driving, diet, housing, caregiving, health, medication or other important issues. Learn more about what to do when your parents aren’t listening to you.
Mom Won’t Take Your Advice: Now What?
Recent research out of Penn State University, the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging and the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, found that 77% of grown children think their parents are stubborn about taking their advice or getting help with daily problems.
Mary Heitger-Marek, a 46-year-old program analyst from Annapolis, Maryland, could write the book on parental stubbornness. In 2004, her parents were living in a condo in Florida with steep stairs and ongoing health problems. She begged them to move near her to a housing community with support. Instead, they bought a home in Florida with a yard and a pool. They also acquired a dog. Several falls (some from walking the dog) and multiple surgeries ensued. They refused to hire help for either themselves or their house.
Two years ago, they moved to independent living near Heitger-Marek, again refusing a professional caregiver. Last October, her dad died; since then, her mother has been hospitalized four times. Now she’s in rehab but plans to move in with Heitger-Marek. She’s still vowing not to have outside help.
“My parents’ life decisions have greatly impacted me and I am very resentful,” says Heitger-Marek. “I love my mother, but I am at my wit’s end. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times my husband and I have suggested options to improve my parents’ quality of life and they have turned us down. I feel like we could open a senior care business because of all the programs, aid and other things we have looked into for them.
What to Do When Your Parents Don’t Listen
We asked experts for their advice on what to do in situations like this – and unlike some parents, we did, in fact, listen! (Though, some of this advice may not apply to a loved one with dementia.)
Trying to understand the motivation behind their behavior. Suzanne Modigliani, a Boston-based geriatric care manager with a social work background, says to ask yourself: Are they acting this way out of habit, to assert independence, or because they’re depressed or confused? What are they afraid of?
Decide how important the matter is. Is it a safety issue or something that is just irritating but inconsequential? As the saying goes, pick your battles.
Blame it on the kids (that would be you) or the grandkids. If Mom isn’t willing to change her behavior for herself, would she do it for a loved one? Robert Kane, M.D., author of “The Good Caregiver,” Director of the Center on Aging at the University of Minnesota and a professor in its School of Public Health, says his mother quit smoking after his sister argued the second hand smoke was a risk to the grandchildren. Another approach is to say to your parent, “You don’t want me to worry, right? This (fill in the blank) will give me enormous peace of mind. Please do it for me!”
Think ahead. Is there a milestone they want to be around for, such as a wedding, graduation or anniversary? Then bring it up!
Stop by on Friday for Part 2 for this blog.
We will have our Annual Garage Sale this Thursday October 8th from 7am-4pm and Friday October 9th from 7am-12pm.
Strokes, heart attacks, falls — these are the conditions we usually think of as landing older adults in the emergency room. But, seniors visit the ER for a lot of other reasons that may be just as critical, such as adverse drug effects, infections and COPD.
- Injuries and Accidents: Injuries,falls, traffic accidents, even exhaustion — these are the types of acute issues that most often land seniors in the emergency room, according to the CDC.
- Heart Disease: Some of the most common symptoms reported by seniors in emergency room visits are chest pain and shortness of breath, both potential indicators of heart disease, which is still the leading cause of death in the U.S., as reported by the CDCand Discovery Health.
- Chest Pain: As mentioned above, chest pain can be a symptom of heart disease; it can also be caused by other problems such as heart attacks, injuries, blood clots, respiratory infections, or even gastrointestinal issues, according to the CDCand WebMD.
- Adverse Effects and Complications of Medical Treatment: Adverse drug reactions are a shockingly common cause of emergency room visits in the elderly, including unexpected side effects, interactions with other drugs, or inappropriate self-medication, as reported by the CDCand NIH.
- Abdominal Pain: Digestive disease, food poisoning and infection can all cause abdominal pain or nausea; so can kidney stones, which may result frommalnutrition,dehydration or other medical conditions, according to the CDC and Discovery Health.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: According to the CDC,COPDcovers a number of conditions including bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic airway obstruction. Fatigue, coughing, and shortness of breath are some possible symptoms, as reported by the CDC and WebMD.
- Pneumonia: Pneumonia is one of the most common upper respiratory infections to land seniors in the ER. Signs may be milder in older adults, and can include shortness of breath, coughing, and confusion or delirium, according to the CDC and WebMD.
- Urinary Tract Infection: This is yet another reason why seniors should make sure they’re getting enough fluids-31% of seniors are chronically dehydrated, and one of the best ways to prevent UTIs is to drink plenty of water, as reported by the CDC.
- Stroke: Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It has distinct pattern of symptoms, which means a vigilant caregiver can often prevent long-term damage if the patient is treated quickly enough, according to the CDC.
- Spinal Disorders: Back pain is another symptom that commonly brings seniors to the ER, whether the pain is due to an injury to the back or neck, a vertebral disorder, or an inflammatory condition such as arthritis, as reported by the CDC.
If you’re a family member or caregiver of an older adult, be sure to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of these common emergency medical issues, and you’ll be better prepared to deal with them if they should arise.
Source: Click Here
Continue reading part 2 of ‘Helping a Senior Adjust After Moving to Independent Living’.
How to help an elder adjust
Family members can help ease the transition to independent living for an elderly loved one, especially during the first few days after their move-in. Here are a few tips for family caregivers to keep in mind:
- Acknowledge your loved one’s loss:Realize what your loved one has lost by moving out of a home they’ve lived in for decades. Anticipate their grief—which will likely occur, regardless of whether or not the move was their idea—and help them cope in any way you can.
- Prepare for the move:Avoid unnecessary stress by packing well in advance of the move. Take the time necessary to help your loved one carefully go through their possessions and decide which items to take, which to give away and which to discard. Make sure that any questions you or your loved one have regarding the move-in process and what a new resident can expect over the first few days are answered by the community ahead of time.
- Help them get settled:Encourage relatives to assist with the unpacking and decorating of an elderly loved one’s new home. “There’s a certain level of excitement and anticipation that accompany setting up a new place,” Having family members involved in this process often makes new residents more comfortable and at-ease. Also suggest sharing a meal together in the community dining area.
- Let them go:Knowing when to step back and let a loved one get on with their new life in independent living can be tricky—there’s no one sign that will tell you it’s time to let them go. This is why selecting the right community is essential. After the initial move-in period, it will fall on the men and women in your loved one’s new neighborhood to step up and help. While it’s certainly important for pre-existing friends and family to make an effort to visit an elder in independent living, a resident’s day-to-day socialization opportunities should stem from their peers in the community. Connecting early on with other elders in the community is critical for newcomer, you’re never too old to make a new friend.
Moving can be a notorious source of stress, regardless of an individual’s age or life situation. Disrupted routines, the challenge of finding a new home, and the hassle of packing and unpacking all of one’s personal belongings are just a few of the factors that contribute to the stress-inducing power of a major move.
For aging adults who are vacating the home they’ve lived in for decades to take up residence in an independent living community, these stressors can be extreme, and are often compounded by feelings of anger and sadness due to a perceived loss of freedom and vitality. “They feel as though they are giving up their independence.”
Promoting elder independence
But a move to independent living is not the doom-filled ordeal that many older adults believe it to be. These communities are often places of enhanced independence for residents, prolonging an elder’s ability to remain self-sufficient by providing assistance with housing maintenance, transportation and socialization opportunities.”The senior is gaining more choices for activities and outings that they may not otherwise have access to.” For instance, during the summer months at Hickory Glen we take our residents to music outings around the city. We provide the transportation; all they need to do is have fun! If bad weather keeps residents cooped up, a community can plan extra indoor activities to keep them active and occupied. Independent living communities in areas where this kind of weather is common provide shoveling and plowing services to ensure residents’ safety and enable them to venture beyond their apartment, despite the ice and snow. There is a distinct difference between independent living and assisted living communities, especially when it comes to how self-sufficient the residents are. Unlike assisted living facilities and nursing homes, independent living communities don’t cater to elders who need significant medical care or round-the-clock supervision, so the men and women living there are still capable of maintaining a relatively active lifestyle.
Woes eased by a warm welcome
Despite the benefits of independent living, there’s no denying that the transition from a family home to a senior housing community can be challenging for an aging adult.
Outgoing adults adapt more easily to the transition. Elders who are naturally shy, on the other hand, can easily become overwhelmed by the prospect of interacting with an entirely new group of people. These individuals are often reluctant to leave the sanctuary of their new dwelling, fearing the interpersonal interactions that research has shown to be vital to maintaining mental and emotional well-being in seniors. Here at Hickory Glen each floor has a designated Greeter. This greeter helps new residents adjust to Independent Living by showing them the ropes. They help answer questions, remind of dining hours and activities, and are always a friend to lean on.
Check back on Thursday for Part 2 to find out how family members can help with the adjustment.