Creating a Memorable Holiday for Someone with Alzheimer’s

The holiday season is something many of us look forward to all year. For many, it is a time to celebrate with family and friends.

If you have a loved one who lives with Alzheimer’s disease, the season’s festivities can present a few challenges. Explaining what is going on to them and to visitors who might not be aware of their situation is sometimes awkward. Here are a few tips that may help:

• Prepare visitors ahead of time. If friends and family who will be visiting aren’t aware your loved one has Alzheimer’s or don’t know what to expect, communicate with them ahead of time. Something as simple as an email that says “We know it has been a while since you’ve been to our home and we are looking forward to your visit. Since we’ve seen you last, Mom’s Alzheimer’s has progressed. She sometimes has difficulty remembering old friends and loved ones, so don’t be surprised if she doesn’t recognize you. Her behavior can also be a bit unpredictable at times. Please don’t be offended by any of this. We know Mom will be happy to spend time with you even if she can’t express it.”

• Prepare your loved one for visitors. If these are new friends they haven’t met or even old friends they might not remember, a memory board can help. Print out photos of planned visitors and glue them to a piece of cardboard or foam board. Use a bold marker and write each visitor’s name below their photo. Do this a week or two before your scheduled event. Start reviewing the board with them every day and talking about each guest.

• Consider the party environment. According to TheHomeDweller research, just having a house full of people can cause the noise level in your home to increase significantly. That alone can be tough on someone living with Alzheimer’s disease. Try choosing a few soft CDs for the evening. Also avoid flashing or twinkling holiday lights. They can be disorienting for someone with dementia.

• Take into account the time of day. Try to work around your loved one’s best times of the day when planning your party. If they’re at their best in the mornings,consider hosting a brunch instead of a cocktail party.

• Put together a quiet space for your loved one. Parties often create agitation for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease. Take time before the event to prepare a quiet place for them to retreat to if things get to be too much. Have soft music ready to play and a few repetitive tasks for them to do. Both may help decrease their agitation. Tasks to have on hand could include a basket of towels to fold, photos or a deck of playing cards to sort, or coupons to cut. Depending on who the visitors to the party will be, you may be able to ask guests to visit one on one with your loved one during this time. That will allow everyone to spend time with your loved one without overwhelming them.

5 Steps to Downsizing For Seniors

Growing old should be an enjoyable experience. Retiring, relaxing, and using your free time to be with family and friends is what your older years should be about, not worrying. When people buy their first house, they have things like raising a family and making a home in mind, not “is this going to be suitable for me when I’m older.” It’s not something you should worry about when you’re house hunting, but it is an issue that may arise when you start to reach your older years. Luckily, you don’t have to be stuck with a large, spacious house forever, and there are a lot of options for those who might want to downsize. Here are five steps to downsizing for seniors!

1) Talk to friends and family

Before you make the move to downsize, have a conversation with your family and close friends. Not only will they be able to provide you with advice, they’ll also be able to assist with any of the planning and moving. For instance, if you have family nearby, they may be able to help you find a new home within the vicinity. A simple conversation can go a long way.

2) Get rid of the clutter

A larger home likely has the space for various furniture, decorations, and more while a smaller home may not. Take the opportunity to rid yourself of all of the clutter in your home that you no longer use or need. Host an estate sale or donate to your local Goodwill. This may seem sad to do at first, but after you find yourself in a nice and comfortable but spacious home, you’ll be be thankful!

3) Choose what type of housing fits for your situation

When people think “downsizing,” they initially think of a smaller home or condo. However, if you’re a retired individual, you should consider moving into a senior living community. This type of housing provides a wide range of support suitable for those at any level of independence. Additionally, the everpresent community combats the problem of loneliness that many individuals suffer from. All in all, a senior living community might be a great option, especially for people who don’t have friends and family nearby. If you’re wondering which housing style is right for you, be sure to explore all of the options.

4) Ease yourself into the idea of change

We’re going to be completely honest and say that downsizing from a house you’ve been living in for years into a house into a completely knew space is going to be difficult. Bidding adieu to the home where you’ve made countless memories will come with heartbreak. Ease yourself into the change by noting all of the amazing times and making sure that the pieces that make your home “home,” like photos and valuable decorations.

5) Hire a Realtor

If the first hardest part of downsizing is moving from the home you’ve spent years in, the second hardest part is the actual sales process itself. Hire a Realtor in the area who will help you show your home, put up listings, and negotiate on your behalf. Again, the point of downsizing is to remove stress from your life. They’ll also help you sell your house despite roadblocks that come alongside having lived in a house for a while.



The Do’s and Don’ts of Dementia Care

If you are helping to look after a senior loved one who has dementia, nothing can be as frustrating or as overwhelming as trying to care for this person. You want to do your best to maintain the same relationship and dynamic that you once had, but you also do not want to do anything to overwhelm or offend them. Dementia can be challenging and confusing, and it can be so different for every person and can even change from day to day.

Every person will likely have a different journey and experience with dementia, but here are a few major do’s and don’ts of dementia care.

Do: Make Eye Contact

This is one thing that many people who are dealing with individuals with dementia often forget. It can be easy to feel uncomfortable when interacting with a loved one with cognitive impairment, but you should still make sure that you maintain eye contact. This is an important non-verbal cue that lets seniors know that you are there for them and listening.

Do: Listen

You should always try to be as good of a listener as possible when interacting with someone with dementia. Don’t rush your loved one to answer when they struggle for words. Just try to listen, and do your best to follow what they are saying. You can suggest a word to help them, but should never forget about trying to be a good listener and giving them time.

Do: Be Patient

In order to really have successful interactions with someone with dementia, you need to have patience. This is so key when dealing with someone with any type of dementia. Your loved one is going to forget names and places and struggle to recall certain words, or they may act in ways that are completely unrecognizable to you. It can be frustrating, but you need to have patience with them. Losing your patience will not benefit either of you.

Don’t: Try to Talk to Them in a Noisy Place

There is nothing as frustrating for someone with dementia then trying to have a conversation in a noisy place. Background noise is a frustrating distraction, and many seniors with dementia already have hearing loss. When your loved one is already struggling to recall words, background noise is even more frustrating and distracting.

Don’t: Say “Don’t You Remember”

Sometimes seniors with dementia can really struggle to remember things, even things you may think they should remember. However, you shouldn’t say “don’t you remember?” or “do you remember this?” as a way to get them to remember certain things you think they should. This can only make them feel pressured to answer questions, or it may cause them to make up certain things in order to cover up their struggle to remember. Instead, generally ask questions about their past as a way to ignite the conversation more naturally.

Keep these “do’s” and “don’ts” in mind for better, more successful interactions with someone with dementia.

8 Preventative Health Screenings Every Senior Should Consider

As many seniors begin to realize, as they grow older, is that as they continue to age, they also continue to run into a number of potential health issues. The aging process is different for everyone, based on their genetics, lifestyle and a myriad of other factors.

This is why it is so important for seniors, no matter what their age or their current health status may be, should be aware of different preventative health screenings. These health screenings can help detect health issues that tend to impact older adults, and determine whether or not a senior may be at risk for these conditions.

  1. Bone Density Scan- Bone density tends to decrease greatly as we age, particularly in women. A bone density can determine if you are at risk for osteoporosis or a fracture. All women age 65 and older should get this test.
  2. Blood Pressure Screenings- According to the CDC, about 1/3 of Americans have high blood pressure, and the older that you are, the more predisposed you are for high blood pressure. These blood pressure screenings are easy to come by and quick and painless. Seniors should have their blood pressure tested every year.
  3. Colonoscopy- This is one preventative health screening that isn’t as simple and pain-less as blood pressure screening, but it is one that is important. Most people know this is an uncomfortable, but important types of screening. At age 50, adults should start with colonoscopy.
  4. Cholesterol Tests- High cholesterol is a common side effect of aging and one that every senior should be on the lookout for. There are cholesterol and lipid blood tests that can measure your good and bad cholesterol tests—which can tell you if you are at risk for heart attack or stroke. Typically, seniors should get these screenings once every five years.
  5. Diabetes Screenings- Diabetes is common in overweight individuals who typically do not get much exercise. It is also more common in those with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Seniors should get this screening done every other year.
  6. Hearing Test- Unfortunately, as most seniors know, hearing tends to decrease with age. By the age of 60, around 25 percent of seniors will suffer hearing loss in both ears. Seniors should get a hearing test done annually.
  7. Prostate Cancer Screening- Prostate cancer is most common in men age 65 and older. It tends to develop slowly and is one of the most common cancers in adult men. Consult your doctor who can help you determine how often you should be getting a prostate cancer screening.
  8. Skin Checks- More people have skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Melanoma is the most dangerous and is common among adults who experience greater than normal sun exposure and is more likely the older you get. These skin checks should be done annually.

If you are a senior age 65 and older, make sure that you are incorporating these important health screenings into your regular routine.

5 Tips for Seniors Preparing to Sell Their Home

There are many seniors who will have to make the difficult decision to sell their home—many times after living in the same place for many years. This can be a very difficult and very overwhelming prospect for many seniors, whether the reason they needed to sell their home was because of financial concerns, struggling to handle too much space or healthcare reasons.

No matter what the reason behind the move, seniors in this situation will want to be able to sell their home quickly and for as much money as possible. Here are a few tips for seniors should keep in mind when trying to sell their home:

  • Replace or remove old, worn flooring. This is one way to instantly update the look of a home. Many times, if seniors have been living in the same place for many years, the flooring can completely age the place. Old carpeting can date a home and even give it a certain odor. Scuffed linoleum can also make a home look worn or dated.
  • Paint is a simple, affordable and easy way to instantly update the look of a home. Old paint colors and scuffed walls can distract buyers, while bold, outdated colors can also be off-putting. The good news is, paint is a simple fix.
  • Clutter happens, even among the cleanest of people, especially people who have lived in the same place for a long time. Decluttering is a great way to make a place look bigger, more open and cleaner. AKA, it can make it look more appealing to buyers.
  • Clean out the Closets. Closet space sells homes. So, go through the closets and start cleaning them out. Most seniors likely haven’t cleaned out this space in quite a long time and this can be a great way to bring some value to a home.
  • Start Packing Early. Packing now is a great way for seniors to not only clear out their home and make it look more spacious and less cluttered, but it also helps seniors avoid a potentially stressful situation later on when it is time to start packing. So, taking it slow and starting to pack now is a great way to get ahead of the curve and make it less overwhelming for seniors later on.
  • Add Some Curb Appeal- Everyone who has ever bought a home knows just how important first-impressions are. Your home’s exterior is a great way to make a strong first-impression, so seniors should go in and add some curb appeal. Pruning or trimming down plants, adding bright, colorful flowers and removing debris and clutter are all great ways to bring some curb appeal to any home.

If seniors want to sell their home so they can move to a more appropriate home, a senior-friendly condo or even an assisted living community—these tips can help seniors sell their home more quickly.

3 Things Every Senior Should Know About Medicare

If you are a senior who has reached a point in their life when they need to start considering Medicare—then you may have some questions. When seniors enter this phase in their life, their health insurance is about to change drastically, but the more seniors know about Medicare and their Medicare options—the better off they will be.

  1. There Are Three Different Enrollment Periods

When it is time to sign up for Medicare, seniors will notice there are three different enrollment periods. Here is the breakdown of what these enrollment periods mean.

  • Initial Enrollment- This is the first-time seniors can sign up for Medicare. There is a seven month window for initial enrollment. It begins three months before your 65th It ends 3 months after your birthday. If you sign up during this initial enrollment period, you can sign up for your plan without answering any medical questions.
  • General Enrollment- If seniors do not sign up before they turn 65, then they will need to sign up during the General Enrollment Period. This sign up period is between January 1st and March 31st every year.
  • Special Enrollment Period- There is also a special enrollment period that is only available to individuals who meet certain requirements. Seniors will need to check their enrollment options
  1. There Is Part A and Part B Medicare

Seniors will also notice there is both Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.

  • Medicare Part A will help cover your inpatient care in hospitals. This is a type of hospital insurance that covers your medical costs when you are already sick. It also includes coverage in skilled nursing care facilities, home health care providers and hospice. However, it does not include long-term care.
  • Medicare Part B will help cover medical insurance and preventative care. This is the part of coverage that covers your expenses before you get sick.
  1. Supplemental Medicare Insurance

If there is one thing that tends to surprise seniors about Medicare, it’s that there are quite a few things that Medicare does not cover. It only covers around 80 percent of the cost for Medicare-covered services. This means seniors who have a $10,000 hospital bill will still have a $2,000 expense out of pocket. This doesn’t include any drug coverage.

This is why some people consider additional Medicare coverage. There are a few options.

  • Part C- It is a plan that combines Part A and Part B and acts as your primary insurance. It typically includes prescription drug coverage. This is also known as Medicare Advantage. Private insurance companies will provide Medicare Part C coverage.
  • Medigap- Also known as Medicare Supplement, it covers 20 percent of the costs that Medicare does not cover. There are different options available, that have different costs and offer different levels of coverage.
  • Part D- Also known as Medicare Prescription Drug, this plan helps offset the cost of your medications. There are also different plans available with this program.

These three tips are very important for any senior who is about to have Medicare coverage as it can make all of the difference in their health and insurance coverage.

Tips to Help Seniors Avoid the Stomach Flu

There are a number of different common viruses and illnesses that seniors are more prone to than others. One of these very common viruses is the stomach flu. It is a very contagious illness and one that seniors are very susceptible to as seniors often have a more compromised immune system and are more susceptible to issues such as this.

The flu virus includes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and severe dehydration. Many seniors also suffer from a fever. This stomach flu, also known as Norovirus, is very contagious and often spreads not only among the elderly, but in places like senior living and healthcare facilities where there are lots of seniors living in one area.

The Norovirus is very contagious, but there are a few ways that seniors can avoid the stomach flu and help put up better defenses against this illness.

  • Norovirus is typically spread by eating contaminated food or touching contaminated surfaces and then putting their hands in their mouth. With this in mind, washing your hands and avoiding putting your hands near your mouth is your best line of defense. This means washing with warm soap and water.
  • Seniors can easily get the Norovirus by having direct contact with an infected person or their vomit or diarrhea. This is why seniors should not only avoid others who are sick, but caregivers should be very careful about those with the stomach flu.
  • Use hand sanitizer. Washing your hands with soap and water is important, especially before and after handling food. Hand sanitizer is also a great option, particularly when you are on-the-go and unable to get to soap and water.
  • Clean the home. Seniors, or their caregivers should take extra care when cleaning their home. They should do their best to disinfect all contaminated surfaces in the home. Pay close attention to light switches, phones and remote controls (all things that tend to be touched quite often).
  • Seniors should not share hand towels with an infected person or visit those who are sick. Individuals who have the Norovirus should stay isolated for as long as possible.
  • Seniors should hydrate all season long, whether they are showing signs of the Norovirus or not. Hydrated seniors are less likely to get seriously ill or so dehydrated that they need to go to the hospital.

Should seniors catch the Norovirus, and they have issues with dehydration and recovering for three days or more—they need to contact their physician. Typically, the Norovirus will start to resolve by then, but if it doesn’t, additional medical intervention may be needed. Spring 2019 Senior Caregiver Scholarship Winner

The Caregiver Scholarship winner for Spring 2019 has been chosen. Janai Cherry, who is a sophomore at Morgan State University, will receive a $2,000 scholarship for her caregiver experience.

Janai has taken care of both of her elderly grandparents for 7 years.  Her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her grandfather, who has passed, was diagnosed with dementia.  Janai helped with attending doctor’s appointments, making them meals, giving them medicine, taking their blood pressure, and going on many walks with her grandmother.  As her grandmother’s disease progressed, Janai would also help bathe her and carry her around the house.

Janai has learned from her caregiving experience to be compassionate and patient, and she also became extremely close to her grandparents throughout this experience.  Her grandmother is her best friend!  Janai’s grandmother has given her a lot of advice, including “don’t marry anyone lazy!”  And when her grandparents would argue, Janai would remind her grandmother to never let anyone take her out of her character.

Janai’s strong spirit, sense of humor and perseverance shows through in her submission video.  Janai will be studying Screenwriting and Animation, and she wants to become a screenwriter for film and TV shows.  Her grandparents influenced her career decision because every day they would tell her a new story about their lives and really made her appreciate the art of storytelling.  Janai has an outstanding GPA and works two part-time jobs while being a full time student.  Since Janai’s family has medical bills from her grandparent’s illnesses, this scholarship will help Janai and her family by taking a financial burden off of their shoulders.  Congratulations, Janai!

See Janai’s full scholarship submission video below.

Caring for the Sick Elderly When They No Longer Can Do It on Their Own

Although in recent years, the American population has become more aware of the health dangers of asbestos, as more and more medical records have been able to point to the exposure to the mineral as the definite cause of various cancerous illnesses, the fact that asbestos-related diseases presently have no cure and take a long time to show any signs of development brings the focus to the part of society that had very much interacted with the substance when its use on American grounds was at its peak, roughly from the 1930s until the early 1970s, i.e. the seniors.

The inevitability of the encounter has a rather simple explanation, in the mentioned time period, asbestos was in high demand, and as a result, it took over mining, textiles and construction, which constituted the top employment opportunities of those days. Thus, generation after generation faced exposure to a toxic environment while trying to earn a living, and since diagnosis for a disease caused by asbestos exposure generally comes decades after the exposure had occurred, it is usually the case that the verdict will be heard by the elderly and their loved ones.

For one to find out that they are suffering from an incurable disease is quite life-changing news but in order to manage the circumstances in the best possible ways, it is important to make speedy decisions about the most convenient manner of handling the current reality. New medical advances have allowed for patients affected by asbestos illnesses to exceed the initial predictions made by their physicians in regard to their life expectancy. However, the fact remains that dealing with such diseases can heavily burden the individual’s way of living and that of their families. An incurable disease, in addition to drawbacks brought about by old age, has the potential of negatively impacting not only the patient but all those that care about them.

Have an Honest and Open Conversation

When one begins to question whether a loved one is capable of taking care of themselves on their own any longer, any kind of emotional responses need to be acknowledged and kept in check, and the priority should be that of thinking of long-term solutions that will bring resolution to all the parties involved. If your loved one has trouble with feeding themselves, with managing medications, or with using the bathroom, the option of offering them the safety of a senior home should be taken into consideration.

There are professionals that have the experience and resources to deal with the concerns brought by old age and diseases and it would be beneficial to have an open conversation about the various possibilities of facilitating care for the senior in question. The most vital part, perhaps, would be for everyone to have a thorough understanding of the consequences for each of the scenarios considered while keeping in mind that the goal is to make sure the safety and comfort of all are being arranged.

Spotting Behaviors that Reveal an Inability to Care for Oneself

There would be a few behaviors that would point toward the inability of a person to care for themselves on their own, but it would be essential to have the individual admit that they indeed have a problem in order for them to be open to receiving help. Arguably, it is more often the case that those suffering from demanding diseases accept that they are in need of assistance, as opposed to seniors who would only have to handle the inconveniences of old age, as the management of their lifestyle becomes vital for their staying alive.

Among the most common signs revealing that a sick elderly person has to be helped during their day-to-day activities are the following:

  • personal hygiene neglect
  • living spaces neglect
  • difficulty in moving around the house
  • inability to follow a diet plan
  • inability to budget
  • tendency to isolate

The causes for these behaviors vary from a situation to another, but more often than not they represent the hardships of old age. Forgetfulness might be fairly inconsequential when skipping a meal, but when someone suffering from some form of cancerous tumor, as most asbestos patients do, forgets to follow medical plans, their health status can rapidly deteriorate and lead to death. Additionally, even if they would manage to strictly follow the nutrition regimes and prescriptions, diseases might, seemingly out of the blue, worsen at any given time and with no one around them, the elder individual might be totally helpless in a possibly life and death situation.

It is of utmost importance for elderly people that battle a burdensome sickness to be offered the reassurance they need in order to make the most out of their personal struggles. In this sense, their immediate environment needs to be accommodating to their needs for their form to do well. Being given the chance of socializing with others that have relatable issues is a gratifying bonus.

About the author

Gregory A. Cade is an attorney specialized in environmental and asbestos law. Throughout his career, him and his team processed more than 200,000 claims and recovered more than $1,4 billion for asbestos victims.

New Year, New Home Design—Tips to Help Seniors Make Their Home Safer

Now that a new year is upon us, there is no better time for seniors to start fresh with their home and make some positive changes to their house. Taking the time to redesign the home can not only help seniors start fresh in the New Year, but it can also help seniors make their home safer as well. If you are looking for redesign tips that can help make the home safer, here are a few tips to help seniors get started.

  • Secure or Remove All Rugs- Throw rugs can be a great decorative piece to the home, however, rugs can sometimes be a major safety issue. Rugs can easily cause seniors to trip and fall in their home, which is why it is so important that they are properly secured to the ground with a non-slip backing underneath the rug. Seniors who are prone to falls or who tend to shuffle their feet, may still have trip and fall issues with rugs, and in these cases, it may be best to remove the rugs all together.
  • Reorganize the Kitchen- Most people haven’t reorganized their kitchens in years, and while it may not seem like the most fun project, it is one that can really help improve the safety of your home. Reorganize the kitchen by putting everyday items down low and prioritizing where the most commonly used items go. Reaching up high and attempting to reach everyday items can cause seniors to lose their balance and fall. It is an often over-looked cause of falls and something that should be accounted for.
  • Add More Lighting- The more lighting you can add to the home the better, as it is a great way to make the home safer for seniors—especially if they tend to get up a lot in the middle of the night. While lamps are a great spot to start, you can also add motion-sensor lighting throughout the home to help highlight common areas where falls may occur.
  • Add Non-Slip Rugs to the Bathroom- Did you know that the bathroom is the number one place in the home where falls occur? And that falls are the most common reason that seniors end up in the emergency room. As you redecorate, consider adding some non-slip rugs both inside and outside the shower as a way to prevent falls from happening.

Every senior should feel safe in their homes, and make sure that their house is not only comfortable, but doesn’t have any potential safety issues. This is one of the best ways for seniors to be able to age in place comfortably in their own home—and to not have to worry about potential accidents. If you are looking for a fresh start in this new year, then consider these easy redecorating tips that can help improve your home for the better.