Sunday, September 30, 2007

Other Things to Consider When Assessing an Elder

If your hiring a professional geriatric nurse to complete an assessment with the elder in your life or filling out forms with your parents, be prepared to spend from three hours to potentially a couple of days. Either can take considerable time. What factors should be considered doing taking a closer look the aging relative's life? A thorough assessment should include the following:

Health - Physical & Mental

Has the elder been diagnosed with any chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, congested heart failure? Or maybe illnesses such as bladder or bowel problems are evident or another form of heart disease, stroke, cancer? Does the elder have allergies? Make sure they, with your help track weight loss or gain. Do they have problems with incontinence? Unless you spend some time with them, that one may be difficult to detect. Do they have a balance problem? Notice their skin color or growths, see changes? Persistent fatigue or sleeplessness? Swollen feet or legs, or they limping? Vision problems sucfh as cataracts, or do they require vision aids to help them read or see? Can they hear you or do they ask you to repeat what was just said? Dental problems; gum disease, strongbreath, ill-fitting dentures? List their vital signs and health professionals currently being seen. Recent hospitalizations?

Mental assessment can include: Are they diagnosed with having psychiatric disorders, depression, anxiety disorder? Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other dementia? How alert are they? Have you or other family members noticed mood swings? Forgetfulness or wandering off? Are they confused or/disoriented? Do they seem sad or lonely? Decreased interest in reading, writing, and communicating? How well do they maintain friends? Or have an interest in life?

Using medications; all medicines taken, both prescription and/or over-the-counter, with times per day and doses. Are they taking the medications as directed and know how to avoid negative interactions. And do they understand the barriers to proper medicine use such as forgetfulness, expense, poor understanding of why they've been prescribed.

Daily living: Are they mobile or do they need walking aids? Special dietary needs, do they have favorite foods? Ability to dress, bathe, get up from a chair, use a toilet, use the phone, climb stairs, get help in an emergency, shop, prepare meals, do housework and yard work, drive safely.

Home and community safety: the neighborhood. Home safety - what are the hazards, adaptive aids needed, presence of alarms for burglary or fire. Ability to avoid telephone fraud and door-to-door fraud. Is the yard and house maintained?

These are a items that my family put together when we began to look closely at our parent's lives. You'll come up with your own too.

Check out Travis County's Caregiver's Resource Helpline - 1-888-797-7806. A good place to learn more infomation on assessing an elder's life and learn about care.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dreaming about the Future

Now may be a good time to dream about how you want your life to live out! Are you in the middle of helping your parent's plan their elder care? If so, consider looking at your own life while researching their's. You won't regret it!

What do you dream of when you think about living out your life? Do you think about it? I do! And it's going to be a lot more pleasant than my own parent's end of life.. one can only hope and dream, right? But what about your's? How different or how similar will it be to your parent's? Their life may be a lot different than my own mom and dad's. Hopefully, a bit better.

If we prepare, we can live out our lives according to plan. Now, that's the key. Consider testing the grounds with your parent's elder care planning. This will be your test or IQ on the future. As you and your aging parents prepare for their lives down the road, use it as a road map for your own. You may not have the opportunity to take things slowly in your aging relative's elder care plan but if you start now on your own, it's a blessing in disguise.

It's thrilling to hear stories of colleagues and friends telling me they want their adult children to have a different experience of aging parents. I know I want that for my adult children. Attending a caregiving conference this weekend, many folks I spoke with were seeking solutions for their relatives. And some added... "for myself too". They were getting prepared so that their adult children would not be forced in a position to "be" where they are with aging parents.

It's a tough spot to be in.. believe me. But you don't have to be there. The best solution out of that very unpleasant situation is to "PLAN NOW!!!" Was that loud enough? When you're out there looking at solutions for your own parent's... take it to heart for you're own life. Do for yourself what you're doing for them.

First step; have the conversation! Talk about the inevitable! Aging! I know we want to sweep it under the carpet but you CAN'T! It's the elephant that won't go away. It'll get bigger and meaner. But if you deal with it now that elephant will be cut down to manageable bits.

Take this number with you - save it to your cell - you never know when you might need an answer to aging: 1-888-787-7806! That's the Caregiver's Resource Helpline and visit!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Elder Checklist - Things to Watch Out For

If you have an elder in your life and are concerned whether they can care for themselves or live alone without someone overseeing their care, you might want to take a closer look at the elder's life and use the following as a guide when assessing "where" the elder is in caring for him/herself.

Can he/she dress or undress without help?
Can he/she cook for themselves?
Are they eating well?
Are they maintaining a good, healthy weight?
Are they managing their medications?
Does he/she care about maintaining cleanliness?
Do they care about their health?
Can he/she move around their house easily?
Are they active? And do they have a hobby or friends?
What's their attitude like?
How well are they managing household duties?
Are they able to manage their yards?
Can they be left alone?
Are they managing finances and able to pay bills on time?
Can they able to shop for food?
Are they able to make doctor appointments?

If you find yourself concerned about one or two of these issues, you may need to address these with your elder family member or friend. Get him/her involved in problem solving this concern.

Another great resource is the Caregiver's Helpline: 1-888-797-7806.. Call now for resolving common concerns of aging.

Thank you for visiting. Carol

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Considering a Will?

We rarely consider putting a will in place until an emergency occurs or a close encounter with one. But some things to think about before you do.

There is no specific age when people decide they need to prepare a will, lawyers say they're often visited by new parents and the elderly. Parents prepare wills because they need to designate guardians for their children in the event they die.

Maybe you're taking a vacation without your children, and may be confronted with thoughts of what would happen if you perished on the trip.

You can purchase a kit at Office Retail store and complete the paperwork yourself. But you may want to have a will prepared by an attorney who can draft the will for you.

I believe one of the most difficult decisions is choosing guardians. This seems to be the most important aspect of a will - to designate who you want to be taking care of your kids. in the event you can no longer care for them. If you don't designate someone to care for your children and both parents die, custody could be awarded to someone who you might not want.
And of course, it's important to discuss the subject with those you've selected as guardians.

End-of-life issues and life-saving measures are also challenging subjects to discuss. If you face terminal illnesses in the future, heroic measures will not be taken. Measures will be taken, though, to save your life if you're in a car crash.

You will find a great sense of relief once you've signed the will.

Food for thought - advice from my attorney - try not using using Internet sites or software programs to draft a will. Preparing a will using those tools is subject to greater challenges when the will is submitted to probate. Some of those work but many of them can create havoc or horror shows. And besides an attorney raises issues and questions that you've never considered.

For additional help call 1-888-797-7806 for the most common concerns of Financial & Legal Assistance.

Thank you for visiting. Carol at

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Resources for Finding a Caregiver - Austin and Surrounding Area

Listed here are suggestions for finding a caregiver for your aging loved one. At the locations below you may be able to post an ad or the staff can provide more assistance. To locate any of the following, try checking the phone book, Internet yellow pages, chamber of commerce, states department of labor website, agencies for the aging, or local parks and recreation departments.

Local library - Check your local libraries in Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, San Marcos, Buda, Kyle etc. They make information resources publicly available by allowing citizens to check out books, DVDs and to review and research all kinds of information in a variety of formats. They even have computers that are connected to the Internet. Most libraries have bulletin boards or information available to learn about community resources too.

Check with the University of Texas, St. Edward's University, Texas State, and all others in our area for they generally have a career center that provides job listings in the area for students. So, you may be able to hire a grad student who is studying nursing, for example. I personally hire students with specialized expertise to help me with

Community centers or senior centers are located through-put our area and they provide educational and recreational classes and activities for all different age groups. I've attended several in Austin for Senior Services Networking meetings and find senior day activities in full bloom.

Religious organizations - one of my favorites: Churches, synagogues, mosques and other gathering places of worship often provide community or special services such as volunteer home health aides, delivering meals, visiting and being a companion for a few hours, or job bulletin boards.

Our State of Texas and local Austin area employment agencies help people find employment. They generally offer all kinds of career education and activities as well as job posting and career placement services.

Young Mens Christian Association or Young Womens Christian Association (YMCA/YWCA) in the Austin area offer recreational and educational resources and programs to the community. Their staff can help with locating professional home care services.

Check out the Caregiver's Resource Helpline - Austin area at 1-888-797-7806. It's a free resource too!

Thank you for visiting. My best, Carol @ Take good care.