Care & Share

Welcome to our Care & Share blog! This blog features care advice for caregivers, family members, and friends of those with dementia. We also have information on caring for caregivers. If there’s a topic you would like to see addressed, please let us know! You can give us a call at 901.854.1200 or email our Program Director, Sheri Wammack at sheri@pagerobbins.org.

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  • April 26, 2018

    Planning Ahead

    One of the struggles we often hear from caregivers is that it is so hard to plan. It is hard to plan for what life will be like in a year, 6 months, or even next week. Dementia is unpredictable. Things can be fine and suddenly your loved one has a major decline and doesn’t bounce back like he/she always has. Or things are okay with your loved one, but you have a health scare and can’t assist with daily tasks.

    It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind, but it is necessary to plan now while you aren’t in crisis mode. Plan now, educate yourself now, make decisions now, so when something happens, you have a path to follow.

    No matter the stage of dementia your loved one is in, things will change. Notice we didn’t say things MIGHT change. Things WILL change. Your loved one’s abilities and needs will change. When? No one knows. It might be tomorrow, next week, 3 months down the road, or a year. But plan NOW for those things. Even if it seems hard, it will be much harder if you haven’t planned at all.

    Some things to consider and get you thinking:

    • If your loved one is currently staying at home with you and does not need much assistance, what will you do when he/she needs assistance? Look into a day program, memory care, or in-home care NOW.
    • If your loved one is currently attending a day program, what will you do when that program is no longer appropriate for him/her? Look at in-home care, memory care, or nursing home options NOW.
    • Do you want your loved one to be considered Do Not Resuscitate Status?
    • How long will money last at this current rate of spending?
    • How will we afford to pay for the next level of care?

    Planning ahead takes “the fear factor” out of making a decision. If you wait until a crisis to start planning, you won’t know how to react, and the situation will be much more stressful. It is not morbid to plan: it is smart. Make a list of in-home care agencies – rate, staff, schedules. Figure out what nursing home care is available – Where are they located? What will it cost? Do staff answer your calls? What is the facility like when you stop by for a visit?

    Talk to the experts. Do you have legal or financial questions? Find an elder law attorney. Geriatric Care managers are great resources for a wide array of questions related to placement, behavioral concerns, resources, etc. Also, be sure your loved one has a general practitioner who is well-versed in working with seniors and/or a good neurologist.

    By touring facilities, interviewing agencies, and gathering information NOW, you empower yourself with knowledge and choices. You allow yourself the opportunity to make the best decision possible for you and for your loved one. Your future self will thank you.

    If you have questions about care for your loved one, if you’re wondering what to expect, or if you are looking for resources, please come talk to us. We want to empower you with resources, information, and support: sheri@pagerobbins.org or 901.854.1200.

    April 4, 2018

    Caregiver Hacks

    Life is hard. The struggle is real… am I right?! It is difficult is to get everything done. Add in caring for someone with dementia, and life just gets more complicated and stressful. But thankfully, there are shortcuts that can lighten the load. You don’t have to do things the way you’ve always done them. Shortcuts are your friend! Here are some hacks to make everyday tasks easier for you and your loved one:

    Groceries

    You could get someone to stay with your loved one while you run to the store, but finding someone once a week may be difficult. You could also bring your loved one with you to the store, but your loved one may wander off, pocket items, or talk to everyone you pass, turning a 30-minute trip into a 2-hour extravaganza.

    Instead, try Kroger Click List, Walmart Pick Up, or any comparable service. These services may seem intimidating, but they’re simple once you get the hang of it. Here’s how you do it:

    1. Log on to the website, and create an account.
    2. Fill up your shopping basket.
    3. Pick a time and location for pick-up (usually the next day).
    4. When it’s time for pick-up, park in a designated spot, and employees will bring your groceries out and load them.

    You can be done in under 10 minutes – it’s a miracle! Put your order in at night in the comfort of your pajamas, so you can think through your purchases and check cabinets as you make your list. Then, on your way home from work or church, pick up your items. No more wandering aimlessly through the store trying to find what you need.

    Household Supplies

    The supplies you can’t get from Walmart Pick Up, you can have shipped to your home through Amazon.com (extra points if you shop Amazon Smile, and choose Page Robbins as your charity!): disposable products, cleaning solutions, pet food, etc. They might even be cheaper than they would be in-store.

    Putting Dinner on the Table

    Homemade meals are time-consuming, but constantly going out to eat can be expensive and tiresome. For a nutritious homemade meal, check out a prepared meal provider. Some local examples are Curbside Casserole and Katie’s Kitchen.

    Clothing

    Hang outfits together to make choosing what to wear easier. Put a top, bottom, and sweater together on a hanger.

    Medical Information

    Keep a binder with dividers for important information for your loved one AND you. Use one section for a list of medications (reason, dose, timing, etc.), allergies, and doctor contact information. Use one section to list concerns – changes in behavior, etc. And use another section for important papers (like Power of Attorney) that you may need. Take this with you when you go to any appointment, so you’ll have that information on hand and can remember questions to ask. As things change, be sure to update the binder.

    Medication

    Use your smart phone to set alarms for times your loved one needs medication. Let you phone help you take the stress out of trying to remember.

    Nighttime

    If your loved one is having nighttime incontinence that is requiring you to remake the bed several times each night, layer fitted sheets and disposable pads. Put a waterproof pad then fitted sheet, and repeat the process a few times. During the night, you need only remove the top layer of sheet/pad instead of remaking the whole bed in the middle of the night.

    If your loved one is taking trips to the restroom in the middle of the night, navigating a dark house can be very dangerous. Motion activated night lights can help your loved one see and better navigate the space.

    We also found this Care Connection list of hacks super helpful.

    February 27, 2018

    The Importance of Touch

    Have you ever considered the importance of touch in your daily life?

    I love the feeling of my 8-year-old son jumping into my arms, his arms wrapped around my neck for a giant hug first thing in the morning. I love when my 11-year-old daughter, who is now as tall as I am, puts her phone down and leans in for a real hug. I enjoy when my husband puts his hand on my back as he passes me in the kitchen or how he kisses me before he leaves for work. Touch is important to all of us. We need physical contact.

    What about for you? What hugs and moments of affection do you treasure?

    Now, think about the loved one you care for. What type of touch does he or she receive each day?

    Mom is touched when you give her medication and assist with toileting. Your spouse is touched when you help him put on his shirt and when you redirect him to walk a certain way. These touches are different. They are task-oriented. They aren’t about affection. It’s about getting something done.

    The need for loving touch does not go away when someone has dementia. And just because someone can’t communicate his or her need for physical affection doesn’t mean it’s needed any less. Touch is important from our earliest development till the very end of our lives.

    Let us not get so caught up in our to-do lists that we forget to provide the physical affection our loved ones need. Touch can communicate when words can’t. It can convey love, support, encouragement, and understanding. Touch can calm nerves and comfort those who are distressed.

    My challenge to you: Take some time each day to put the to-do list aside. Let your busy bee fly. Give your loved one a real hug or a pat on the shoulder. Hold his or her hand as you tell stories. Embrace the moment, for these are the times you will treasure.

    Our activities director once told me: “You can’t give a hug without receiving a hug.” So true.

    A virtual hug from us to you. Now, pass it along!

    January 29, 2018

    Activities at Home


    It can be difficult to find activities to do with your loved one at home any time, but the cold winter months are especially difficult when the days are short and the nights long. We’ve compiled a list of activities for you to do with your loved one, and we hope this list will spark ideas of your own.

    Before we get to the list, let’s be honest – it’s about quality over quantity. Activities can be done just to fill time and get something done, OR they can make space for quality interaction with your loved one. For example, you and your dad could sort a pile of nuts and bolts in just a few minutes. OR you could sit down with him, and as you sort, you could reminisce about how your dad taught you to build furniture. You could whip up some cookies quickly with Mom. OR as you mix the cookies, you could talk about a favorite family cookie recipe or baking together on holidays. Both ways are activities, but the later of each example is so much more meaningful for you and your loved one.

    The goal of activities is to stimulate and give your loved one purpose NOT just to fill time. Also, the goal is NOT to get a correct outcome (folding the clothes correctly, having uniformly sized cookies, etc.). The process, not the product, is most important.

    Be sure to present activities in an appealing way. Instead of: “Here, do this.” Say: “Would you help me…?” People with dementia have shortened attention spans and can be easily distracted by noise/sounds/clutter. Your loved one may lose interest in an activity quickly, especially if left alone. Those with dementia can lack initiative to start activities on their own and may be sensitive to the fact that they are not able to do things like they once did. Be gentle. Be encouraging. Enjoy your time together.

    • Make your own sing-along. Turn on closed captioning and put on an old musical. TV made new!
    • Create your own food awards – try different recipes for one kind of food (pizza, cookies, chicken salad, etc.), taste them all, rate which is best, and crown the winner
    • Listen to and sing along with favorite music
    • Look through coffee table books and talk about pictures
    • Go for a walk
    • Plant a small herb garden to grow inside
    • Ask for help with the laundry – matching socks, folding towels
    • Polish the silver
    • Hand wash or dry the dishes
    • Have a dance party – push back any tripping hazards and turn up the music
    • Sort buttons, change, nuts and bolts, or poker chips
    • Ask for help with meal prep – mixing ingredients, kneading dough, decorating cookies, shredding lettuce
    • Read a story aloud – articles from a magazine or chapters from a favorite book
    • Do a puzzle – age-appropriate and size-appropriate (pieces don’t need to be too small)
    • Play cards – Go Fish, sort the deck, build a card house
    • Look at old photos and reminisce – resist the urge to quiz, instead remind
    • Cut coupons
    • Dust
    • String Cheerios and put them outside for the birds
    • Look through a catalog – clothing, fishing, etc.
    • Search Pinterest for art and craft ideas – making something beautiful… or laugh over your Pinstrosity
    • Search YouTube for videos of favorite music artists and comedians

    December 27, 2017

    New Year’s Resolutions

    Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution that just didn’t stick? Maybe it was to exercise every morning or to floss every night or to read one book a week or to go some place new each weekend. You started these goals out with great gusto – new year, new you! But eventually… things got in the way. Cold mornings and a warm bed. An empty floss container that you couldn’t seem to replace. A favorite TV show that you opted to watch instead of reading. The routine of the same familiar restaurants.

    And eventually… bigger circumstances arose, and those resolutions didn’t seem so important. A spouse or parent or loved one with dementia. Taking on the role of caregiver and all the responsibility that comes with it. New year, new you – just not in the way you had hoped.

    For caregivers, it’s hard to think about yourself. Your energy is directed towards caring for someone else, and most days it may feel like you don’t have enough left to care for YOU. But here’s some truth: You NEED to care for yourself in order to be the best caregiver you can be. It’s almost a new year, so it’s a great time to do a self-evaluation. Have you let self-care fall by the wayside?

    Caregivers, we know you’re busy. You have a million things on your mind. Your own needs are last on the to-do list, but this year, try to take some time to care for YOU. You need it and deserve it. Here’s 7 realistic New Year’s Resolutions just for you. If you need someone to walk alongside you as you try to live these out, we’ve got your back! Join us for a support group. Give us a call at 901.854.1200. We would be happy to help!

    7 Resolutions for Caregivers

    • I will do the best that I can each day and know that is enough.
    • I will take some time for myself whenever I can and as often as I can.
    • I will make myself a priority even when it doesn’t seem possible.
    • I will ask for help even when I think I can do it all by myself.
    • I will make plans for the future even though it may be difficult to consider.
    • I will try to enjoy the moment.
    • I will try to laugh more and worry less.

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