Choose Joy and Give Thanks!

November, 2017

Fall, cool weather, sweaters, coats, electric blankets, etc, etc, etc.

Oh the joy of changing seasons!

As your house gets cooler and the thermostat goes higher so will your power bills. One way to keep your loved one warm (without roasting everyone else), is to purchase a twin-size electric blanket and use it not only for the bed but also for them as they sit in their chair during the day. Heat their clothes in the dryer (not the microwave) before dressing for the day or for the night. Warm, fuzzy socks are always appreciated but this time of year, you can purchase them with rubber dots to prevent falls. Stock up on them to use all year!   

As you plan for Thanksgiving, remember to CHOOSE JOY!  Many stressors will come and go throughout the month with additional family, friends and food.  Don't let it get you down!  Choose to give thanks and rejoice in the position God has given you!

To insist or not to insist...?

I have recently been asked, on several different occasions, the following question:

“My “Mom or Dad” does not want to get out of the house.  How important is it to get them up and moving and out socializing or is it ok to let them sit at home all the time?”

The answer is either one!  It is important to help keep their mind active by getting out of the house and interacting with other people.  This can be done by going shopping, going to the hairdresser, going to a senior center for entertainment or attending a movie.  It is also important to take them to their church or attend an event in the community such as a play or a concert.    Old hymns and music will quickly soothe an agitated mind. Be sensitive to the stamina and health of your loved one if you do take them out of the house.

On the other hand, it is your loved ones’ choice to go out or stay home.  After 70+ years, they have earned the right to do nothing if that is their choice.  My sister is a retired librarian and she now loves to sit and read all the books she never had time to read while she was still working. 

Whether you go out of the house or stay at home, there are ways to stimulate the body and mind through walking, reading, and playing games with your loved ones.  Playing older music or hymns, providing the newspaper, puzzle books or even adult coloring books will also provide stimulation.  Time spent with your loved one is never time wasted!

Please comment on your tried and true method of stimulation for your loved ones.

August - How to get away!

Last month, I encouraged all caregivers to take some time off and get away for at least a day or two. I would like to follow-up on that and give some practical ‘how-to’ suggestions. If you have not already done so, create an emergency folder with the following:

  1. Legal documents: Power of Attorney...Health Care POA...Living Will
  2. Phone Numbers: Location where you will be staying...Your cell number...Your loved ones Medical Doctor/Dentist/Preferred Hospital...Power Company...Clergy...Funeral Home
  3. Prepare food/meals that are easy to heat up or arrange for someone to come and assist at meal times.
  4. Prepare medicine in individualized containers and mark clearly the day and time to be taken.
  5. Turn off alarm clocks you may have set – (this from a friend whose parents could not figure out how to silence them!)
  6. Have laundry done and clean clothes available.
  7. Depending on their level of self-care, you may want to ask someone to come and physically stay with your loved one or at least come and check on them once or twice a day. (Give them a key to the house!)
  8. CLEARLY explain to your loved one when and where you are going and when you will return.
  9. Set up a calendar with large numbers and mark your vacation.
  10. If you still are unsure, check with an assisted living facility as they frequently will provide Respite Care for a week or more.

Above all, pray and vacate!  You need the time away to re-charge and renew your desire to fulfill the responsibilities God has given you to honor and care for your loved one!



Caregiver Freedom

Our country is celebrating another Independence Day and our nation’s freedoms. We are free to worship when and where we want, free to bear arms, free to vote, free to pay taxes.  

As caregivers, do we have freedom? No and Yes!

No – We do not have the freedom to go on vacation anytime we want. We do not have the freedom to run to the store for the latest sales. We do not have freedom to take our children or grandchildren to see the beautiful fireworks displays after dark.  

Yes We do have the freedom to not worry if we go on vacation.  I remember leaving for a couple of hours and half-way to the neighboring town I suddenly began to stress…Why am I leaving? What if something happens to my dad while I am gone?  I should turn around and go home.  I pulled to the side of the road and immediately, I remembered the verse “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8.) I took a few deep breaths and realized what is true is that my father was in great care with my husband (a physician). It was a very lovely day and I was about to enjoy a shopping trip.

Vacations for a caregiver take even more planning than the normal family planning. We have two options, hire someone/someplace or ask a family member to stay with our loved one. We need the mental break to enable us to continue our job of Caregiving.  Do not be too proud to ask for help.

Think about it, pray about it and allow the Lord to work in your heart and the hearts of others. Celebrate HIS freedom for you!

"Scammers or Friends"

There are more than 80 million elderly parents without a spouse in this country alone. What a goldmine!  I recently talked to a friend whose parent was lonely and met a ‘friend’ who was introduced as their ‘caregiver’.  This caregiver went on a spending spree ‘caring’ for this family member.  They would go to the bank together and cash a check. 

How can you protect your loved one from being swindled out of their hard earned money without offending or alienating them? Long before the need arises, sit down and have an open discussion with your parents.  One way to introduce the subject without making them feel inadequate is to discuss the laws in your state regarding inheritance taxes and probate court.  If they want to avoid probate court, all their assets need to be listed in his OR her name.  After the death of a spouse, go over all the assets and change the name of the deceased spouse to your name if you are the designated POA.  This will accomplish two things: you will avoid prolonged probate after their death and you will have the right as their second name on the account to make decisions for their assets. 

If you feel a loved one is being taken advantage of at the bank, go to the bank manager and talk to them regarding their account.  Move most of their money out of their checking account into a CD (you can show your parent the money is still at the bank if they ask).  Ask the bank manager to flag their account and not allow anyone to withdraw over a certain amount ($250) without calling you first.  While you are at the bank, ask that all ATM cards be flagged to also not allow over your limit to be withdrawn.  Request notification for any unusual request such as: refinancing the house, or securing a loan for a large purchase.

As the second name on the bank account, regularly check online for unusual expenditures.  Be very careful if you feel the need to ask your parent about the expenditure, as this may cause division regarding ‘invasion of privacy’. When you are initially talking with your parent, ask them to get a folder with all their “Important Documents” together and give them a fireproof box to keep them all together. This is a great Father’s Day or Mother’s Day gift and provides an open door to offer help.  Help them make a copy, both front and back of their credit cards.  As soon as possible, make the multiple credit cards go away and give them only their bank card.  This will make security of their funds much easier to track.

Anyone who is a regular visitor to your loved one, should have an In-depth Criminal Background Check completed.  Do not take the word of their agency but rather do this yourself online.  Regular visitors include any new friend, caregiver, or worker who is coming to their aid more than seems necessary.  Ask the neighbors to keep an eye out for this type of individual and get their names.

Two additional ideas: Cancel their home phone and encourage them to use a cell phone (avoids most scammers) and regularly check their credit report for unauthorized new accounts opening in their name.

These are just a few ideas for protecting your loved one from unscrupulous individuals who prey on the elderly.  I would love for you to share your ideas and stories that may help others facing a similar situation.

Good resource for additional help: blog.docx

Spring, 2017

Spring, 2017

Spring with all the new life outside my window has always been my favorite time of the year.  With that in mind, I would like to share my favorite signs of new life in pictures.  I would love to see your signs of new life as well. (Click on the picture below to see more).

By focusing on God’s re-clothing of the earth, we can for a moment find renewed strength and hope for our daily journey as a caregiver. 

Psalm 29:11 "The Lord will give strength unto his people, He will bless his people with peace."

February, 2017 Delay or Love?

Delay…Someday…maybe tomorrow…not now…How many times do we put off until tomorrow what we knew we needed to do today? (As in this month’s blog, which should have been posted yesterday.) This month is a reminder to tell those we are caring for how much we love and appreciate them. Time is fleeting and the opportunities to say, “I love you” may be few and far between.  Instead of sending flowers, a card, or some useless gift, take a moment and put your arms around your loved one and tell them how much they mean to you.  Your loved one may or may not understand your gesture but you will know you have not missed this opportunity.  In light of eternity…it matters!

1 John 4:11

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.