Home For The Holidays Checklist

Many adult children live in different homes, towns or even states than their aging parent.  Visits may be routine or sporadic depending on distance.  Many adult children rely upon phone conversations to evaluate their aging parent’s welfare – this often does not tell the whole story.  While the holidays are often a hectic time, it’s the perfect time to start a new tradition.  Set aside some quiet time to make a “Checklist For Elderly”.  This will provide an opportunity to assess possible safety issues, health decline and behavior changes.  Your “Home for the Holidays Checklist” will shine a new light on what needs to be done and can be used to set up new patterns for the year to come.

A “Checklist For Elderly checklist can include, but is not limited to:

-A review of your parent’s medication list-

What has changed – additions (newly prescribed), subtractions (no longer prescribed but still in the cabinet), dosage changes (5 mg twice a day versus 5 mg three times a day), time changes (9AM and 9 PM or take with a meal).  Are there bottles of pills that are out of date or no longer needed?

Can this be done on a computer?  In a large font?  Printed out in calendar format or simply a list?  Pills arranged in pill boxes?  Can the adult child keep this list on a jump drive so that they can update as their parent goes to doctor visits?

-A review of your Parent’s physician list

What has changed – who do they go to?  How often?  For what?  Phone numbers?  Do they have upcoming appointments? Can you create a calendar specifically for doctor’s appointments and when meds need refilled?

-A review of your parent’s home

Do smoke detectors have new batteries?  Does your parent have a CO2 detector w/ new batteries?  Has the dryer vent been cleaned out?  Has the furnace filter been changed?  Have the gutters been cleaned out?  Has the hot water heater been flushed?  Are there chores to be done that might be dangerous for your aging parent to do on their own?  High dusting, wall washing, curtain washing, sweeping behind couches and beds?

-A review of your parents finances

Are the taxes paid?  Are the utilities paid?  Are their accounts up to date and accurate?  Are there investments or accounts that need regular maintenance or decision making?

-A review of your parent’s healthcare decision making choices

Do they have a living will?  Do they have a formal power of attorney?  Does it cover both medical and financial?  Have they named a surrogate decision maker?  What hospital do they prefer?

Is this a good time to discuss protecting your parent’s assets?  Do they have pre-paid burial arrangements or life insurance policies?

Do they have a will?  Do they have a safety deposit box?  Do they have a fire proof box for important documents or at least a specific place where records are kept?  How are their records organized?  Where are their ID cards and insurance cards?

-A review of your parent’s support structure

Who can your aging parent depend on for help?  Is there a close neighbor, relative or friend that they can call in case of an emergency?  Do they have an emergency response device (i.e. Lifeline)?  Do they have someone to clean snow off of sidewalks, cut grass, bring in groceries in inclement weather?  Do they receive meals on wheels?  Do they have a church group or senior center that they are active in and is there a contact person?  Do you have a list of these people so that you can contact them if needed?

Making a “Checklist For Elderly” will allow you to identify your aging parent’s needs, familiarize yourself with their situation and make suggestions to help them maintain their independence.  Making the checklist may reveal changes in mental status and their ability to organize and accurately remember.  Once you’ve started the list you can easily update it when you visit and in some cases over the phone.  Starting the “Checklist For Elderly” creates a baseline for the adult child and a way to measure changes from visit to visit.

Remember that when you’re making the list you should do so in a way that respects your aging parent’s dignity and need for autonomy.  It is important to discuss the current situation and make suggestions that involve collaboration rather than the child simply assuming control.  Keep in mind that it is often difficult to accept help and that it should be presented as a way to remain safe and independent.  When reviewing your aging parent’s situation remember that there are in home services that can assist with everyday chores, physician visits, etc.  A service like this is an extension of your aging parent’s family and involves caregivers who often become friends.

For more information please call us at  724 337-7581.

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10 Signs of Caregiver Stress

The demands on a person who is taking care of elderly parents result in a great deal of stress. If caregivers aren’t careful, they jeopardize their own health and well-being.

A study of family caregivers found that those who experience caregiving-related stress have a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers of the same age. There are several reasons why stress occurs, such as working too much, not sleeping enough, having to deal with family and work at the same time, and not having as many hours in the day as you need to take care of yourself. CLICK HERE FOR MORE


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“the mother of all grains”

Health for the Ages

By Editorial Staff

With all the processed, fatty, sugar-laden foods the modern food production process continues to deliver, perhaps it’s time to go back a few (thousand) years and embrace a tradition of healthier foods – starting with an ancient grain called quinoa.

An important crop for the Inca Empire in the 13th century (known as “the mother of all grains” and considered sacred), quinoa is actually a seed – at least that’s the part we eat; and is considered a “pseudocereal,” not a true grain. Regardless, the health benefits are undeniable. Here are a few to consider:

It’s loaded with nutrients: A mere 1 cup of cooked quinoa features 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and more than 10 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamins B1, B2 and B6, zinc, iron, copper, folate, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese.

It’s a complete protein: Everyone know’s about the benefits of protein, but few understand the differences in protein quality. Specifically, some protein sources are incomplete (lacking in one or more essential amino acids). Quinoa doesn’t have this shortcoming. As a complete protein, quinoa contains all the essential aminos – a rarity for plant-based foods.

It’s low GI: Quinoa’s glycemic index (GI) value is only 53, which means it’s a low-GI food. That’s important because the higher the GI value, the greater its impact on blood sugar. Eat quinoa and you’ll be eating a decent amount of carbohydrates, but you’ll get slow, sustained energy release that lasts much longer than higher-GI foods.

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God Bless The Caregivers

It’s been a trying week with Charlie. All weeks are trying, but this week seems to have been worse than usual.

He is obsessed with his teeth. He had a dentist appointment two weeks ago ($750.00 – thank God for dental insurance) and the other day he told me he needed a dentist appointment! When I explained that he was just there and the dentist completed all the work that needed to be done, he didn’t believe me.

Every day we go through the same discussion over and over.

Then there is the recurring question about which day the garbage has to be carried to the curb. I changed companies so we would have recyclable pickup every week instead of every two weeks, hoping that would resolve his confusion and make the job easier for him. Every day we have the garbage discussion.

If only I could put everything down the garbage disposal!  Click Here

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Ten Traveling Tips for The Elderly

Travel may be one of the greatest gifts you can give Mom or Dad.

The trip may be to visit other family and, particularly, grandkids and great grandchildren. It may be an adventure to a destination, aboard a cruise ship or even a return to a home of long ago.

You may accompany your parent; or, if he or she can maintain some independence, the trip may be solo. Either way, there are 10 important steps to take: Click Here

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