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Learn and Grow

September 2, 2016

Interacting with Grandchildren – The Gift of Time Together

Attention: Grandchildren: Grandparents Day is 9/11/16.

Hey, even though I’m not a grandmother, I sure look forward to the day I am!

From what I hear, being a grandparent is a lot easier and better than being the parent. I’ll take that, thank you.

It’s not just the spoiling aspect that makes grandparenting special, but the freedom to love the family member without the same set of expectations we had with our own kids. We can listen and not pass the same judgment on their plans.  We are not knitted up thinking they should be something specific when they grow up, just because it reflects well on us.

Also, I think of grandparents as the quintessential people to show children low-tech, high touch, interaction, which our society definitely needs.

It was my own grandma that led to my career with people over 65.   I loved being one of four kids and going to see her by myself as I was growing up.  She doted on me all weekend.  ME!  Thank you, Grandma!  She’d ask, “What do you want for lunch, Dearie?”  “Do you want to go shop for a new shirt?”  I remember she had these gingerbread windmill cookies in her jar that was never empty.  By contrast, my own mom hid chocolate in her sock drawer, to stop us kids from finding it.  Anyway, I put two and two together and decided “old people” were the best!

If you’re uncertain how to interact with grandchildren, especially nowadays with technology being their favorite thing, here are a few, unique ideas:

Go outside together. 

This simple activity is gold because nature is the antidote to technology and we want young people to be outside more.  So go for a walk, explore, and connect. You might capitalize on the fact that your pace is a bit slower than the rush that others of us seem to be in.  How lovely not to rush, to not push for the next thing on the itinerary?  Kids need this.  We all do.

Odyssey Scooter from Drive Medical

 

Talk to your grandkids about items you used and saw in your lifetime that have disappeared now.

My mom shared this idea with me years ago.  She got to thinking about all the things she grew up with that were no longer a part of modern day, and made of list to share with my daughter.  I thought my then 13-year-old would balk or roll her eyes.  Instead, they sat on the couch together and laughed and chatted for over an hour.  My mom talked about paper drapes and carbon paper and bus tokens and my daughter listened with complete attention.  I kept an ear out and learned about things I didn’t know, also, and got to wondering what would be gone in my lifetime.  Maybe a corded telephone and a vinyl record will be completely gone when my grandchild comes along.

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August 30, 2016

To Drive or not to Drive? Practical and important fundamentals

To drive or not to drive

Remember being 16 years old, just learning to drive and getting your driver’s license?

The feeling of freedom that came with that little card was immeasurable.  But as we enter our golden years, to drive or not to drive, is indeed the question.  I’m not certain Shakespeare would have phrased it that way, but when is it time to stop or limit driving time?  We all have a responsibility to others and ourselves not to endanger anyone by age-impaired driving and knowing when it’s time to hang up those keys.

Sadly, as we age, our bodies start to betray us.  What we could once do with relative ease and confidence slowly starts to fade, most of the time without our knowledge.  Several years ago I could see like a hawk and now all of a sudden, I need glasses and didn’t even realize my vision was slipping.  The same thing happens to the skills we need that are necessary for responsible, safe driving.

 “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”  But how do you check yourself?

Look for signs of worsening driving habits such as driving at inappropriate speeds, either too fast or too slow.  Do you misinterpret road signs or traffic signals?  Do you get lost repeatedly even in familiar areas?  Do you fail to judge distances between vehicles correctly?  What about becoming angry or frustrated very easily?  If you answered yes to these questions, it may be time at the very least, to limit your driving time.

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August 26, 2016

The Power of Powered Mobility

The power of power mobility

Power Mobility Empowers.

When it comes to mobility, every day without it is a day lost. Mobility empowers and liberates us. Mobility allows us to pursue education, family, career, and community – the aspects of life that we all want, need, and deserve.

Interestingly, everyone’s individual mobility needs differ for countless reasons, from specific condition to age. However, what’s wonderful is that there is a vast array of mobility products to help maximize one’s independence. In this wide realm of liberating products are motorized mobility products – or power mobility, as it’s often called – and its diverse applications are truly life-inspiring.

Power Assist Base

Power Assist Base

Power mobility can be as common as a scooter, as mid-range as a power chair, as complex as a custom rehab power chair, or as innovative as an add-on drive system for a manual wheelchair. All, however, result in the same outcome: personal liberation.

 

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August 18, 2016

Baby Boomers revisited: The truth about Zoomers

Senior couple having a coffee in a bar. taking selfie with smart phone

 

If you are one of the baby boomers – or have a loved one who is – you are not alone, that’s for sure.

Post WWII, 77.3 million Baby boomers, as coined by the New York Post back in the day, were born between 1946 and 1964. In 2016, that places the baby boomer generation between the ages of 52 and 70. Historically, in previous generations, this meant slowing down and retiring. However, for this generation, retiring may not mean slowing down, but simply changing directions! Yes, Boomers are the new Zoomers.

As sociologists have researched, the trait that makes Baby Boomers different than previous generations is that they’ve maintained an indomitable spirit of growth. This traces back to their coming of age in the 1960s, where personal growth became a cultural norm. That same spirit remains with them today, regardless of their age.

From civil rights to physical fitness, Baby Boomers continue to push the envelope, embracing change and growth.

In 2016, when we look at the demographics of which age groups are traveling the most, adopting technology at lightning-fast rates, and are pursuing late-in-life courtships in growing numbers, Boomers and Zoomers top the charts. You might say, you’re more likely to find Boomers texting on their smart phone than having a conversation on a porch swing.

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August 16, 2016

Diagnosis Dementia: Simple Survival Secrets for Caregivers

The dementia epidemic is worldwide

They refer to it as the Dementia Epidemic. As many as 5.2 million people in America are living with this disease.

Dementia is an umbrella term describing a variety conditions that develop when nerve cells in the brain die or no longer function normally. The damages to these nerve cells cause changes in one’s memory, behavior and ability to think clearly.

When your loved one has a diagnosis of dementia, it brings with it a whole different dimension in caregiving. It brings the dementia epidemic home. Today I’d like to share a few practical strategies to help cope with a multi-faceted issue I experienced first hand.  Emotional, social and psychological implications we’ll discuss in future installments.

My vibrant, independent Mother was slipping. It started subtly enough, with forgotten appointments, missing keys, expired milk in the fridge.

These things happen, right? Then, past-due notices on the bills. What bills? She didn’t remember any bills. Unexplained scratches and dents on her car and finally, friends calling to report she was seen driving down a one-way street…the wrong way. What next!?

A referral to a wonderful, kind neurologist confirmed her diagnosis: Dementia. Mom’s neurologist and I would become close partners in her care over the years. There were a few medications available at the time, and we tried them all without much success. Coping with- not curing- the disease was the only path available. Coping with as much grace as possible was our shared goal.

Diagnosis dementia

In the early stages, dealing with memory loss requires making adjustments to the patient’s environment. It’s not enough to encourage the patient to remember, you must help them remember. Do your best to set them up for success. Here are a few suggestions I found helpful:

A bold calendar in a prominent place, marking appointments and important dates on the calendar. I would call Mother every morning and have her look at the calendar, review what was on for that day to help keep her on track.

Purchase a pill container with days and times, and you or another responsible caregiver will need to fill it, then monitor that the patient is being compliant. Special programmable pill containers are available to prevent overdosing.

A basket placed by the front door gave her a place to put her mail each day (until I could go through it) and kept the bills from being discarded.

Along with the memory loss, Mothers’ balance and coordination were affected. We noticed that in order to steady herself she had to hold on to the furniture and walls as she moved about the house. After several falls resulted in trips to the ER, we purchased a rolling walker which she kept constantly by her side. That rollator gave her self-confidence a real boost, and allowed her to continue to be mobile for years to come.

rolling walkers help with balance and coordination

Mom wanted to stay in her own home at all costs. Fortunately, it was an accessible rancher that she had built for my Dad when he became wheelchair bound, so the accessibility assets were already in place. If that’s not the case for you, a safety audit will help you identify potentially dangerous hazards that may need to be addressed.

Bathroom safety is a big issue. Read our blog post Four easy steps to a safer bathroom for some great suggestions.

 

Even though I lived nearby, was my Mother safe alone? Sometimes she couldn’t remember basic things- like using the television remote, or dialing the phone. Sometimes she would invite complete strangers inside her home- just because they came to her door. This scared me to death! What would she do in an emergency? emergency dialing telephone system with emergency pendant

We had to insist, but eventually we added an emergency dialing phone system. It came with a pendant Mom could wear even in bed or while showering, just in case. It was set up to dial several personal numbers (the gal next door and me, of course) as well as 911 for fire and police. Knowing she had that phone and pendant gave us real peace of mind.

 

Dementia is a progressive disease, and learning to manage your loved one’s care will be a work in progress…stay tuned for further articles on coping with dementia, and God Bless!