4 Comments

Finding a Roommate for Mom or Dad

pexels-photo-339620.jpegI have several clients living alone and would love to have a local option to match them with a roommate. We have many colleges in the area and know there must be some students who might want more economic options for room and board.

We did it several years ago when we hired a college student to help with our kids. She helped with rides and basic meal preparation. I would love to start a resource bank to do the same thing in our area for seniors who want to stay at home, but need a little help to make it comfortable. Students interested in degrees in Speech & Hearing, Medical, or Social Work would likely be good matches.

Most of my clients just need help getting groceries, with basic home maintenance, and food preparation. Having someone young in the home would offer socialization for the home owner, and be a positive connection for the college student.

While there are now some online matching services, most of my clients would never go online to look for a roommate. Several of my clients are also in early stages of cognitive impairment. In talking to my clients and their families, they want and need a personalized experience to match them with students. I also believe it’s important to have someone involved to provide monthly over-site and mediation should there be any concerns.

For the spouses, would having an extra pair of hands be a welcomed help in your home?

I’d love to get your feedback. What would be important? What is fair in terms of compensation? Do you have anything like it in your area?

Some current providers I’m aware of include:

  • SilverNest
  • Golden Girls

Do any of you have a loved one with dementia who has a roommate? I would love to talk to you to find out what worked and hope to make this work for others. Interested. 

To read about some others who have found success with this model (but don’t have an cognitive issues): Check out the recent article from The New York TimesGetting a Roommate in Your Golden Years

 

2 Comments

Is Mom or Dad Safe at Home?

safetymemeI had two parents that were living at home, but my siblings and I worried for their safety. We weren’t as worried about falls in the home, but were more concerned over fraud after a predatory home repair company got them to sign an agreement for a gutter repair to the tune of $5,200. We also didn’t think they were safe on the road anymore given the amount of dents and dings that were appearing on their cars.

What I recognize now is that kids think “safety” and our parents think more in terms of quality of life. As their health might be failing, the last thing they want to give up are those things they can control.

Some of the key indicators to be watchful for include:

  • Weight gain or weight loss because they forget to eat, or can’t make healthy meals and maybe eating out more.
  • A change in their hygiene or dressing habits. My parents started wearing the same clothes day after day which was a change in their usual habits.
  • Withdrawing from their regular activities and connections with friends and family.
  • Frequent falls.

  • Missed appointments.
  • Unpaid bills and services being cut-off.
  • Mess and clutter in a home that used to be spotless.

Several of the issues might come down to your parent having trouble managing their medications. Are they taking them properly, if at all? In our area, there is a pharmacy that packages medication in packets that come on a roll and include the date and time they should be taken. It’s easy to identify when a packet is skipped.

Will they accept help in the home? Some home care assistance companies have individuals that can help with cooking, light housekeeping, and even laundry. When my parents refused, I tried to step in and fill all these gaps. Looking back, while I did it out of love and respect, I also in some ways enabled them to live very unsafely longer.

Life Care Managers are also helpful when it comes to getting on top of a medical concern and finding good resources to address failing health issues.

Have they given up the car keys and don’t want to ask for help getting rides? Several home care agencies have driving employees that can help get mom or dad to the grocery, visit a museum, or even just get a ride to their bridge group if no one is able to give them a ride.

When it comes to concerns with managing money, Daily Money Managers can help protect against fraud and scams, and make sure bills are getting paid on time.

For many, there is a negative reaction to moving into a life care community. Have you scheduled appointments and gone to visit ones near their home so they can see that there are many independent and vibrant options? The first step can be to select an option of their choosing. For several clients, I let them know that if they should ever need rehabilitation or skilled nursing, these communities have better options than the open bed you will find after an emergency visit to the hospital. It’s better to get on the wait list at a community you like, but NEVER need to use. You can get your deposit back if you never permanently move in.

For those that are living alone, you can also find services for wearable devices that either call for help if the wearer falls (it can sense a fall and call the user from the pendant to ask how they are doing), or that has a “push-button” option to call for help.

There are MANY single older adults living at home well. I watch as my neighbor continues to shovel her snow, cut her grass, and leave for the gym every morning around 7 AM.

At the end of the day, I hope you will consider that meaning and purpose are very important to the livelihood of your loved ones. If they want to stay at home, how might they get the help they need to be able to enjoy it?

My parents would NEVER accept outside help which unfortunately limited their options. However, that was the choice they made and we did our best to fulfill their wishes. You will find pages and pages in this blog of examples of how poorly that went for us. I wish your family a better fate. Reflected.

4 Comments

Something Is Not Right with Mom & Dad and I Can’t Do a Thing About It.

KaywParents2013I still feel a pain in my gut when I look back on the early days of my journey as a caregiver. It was incredibly difficult because I knew something was wrong and my parents were insistent that they were AOK.

The initial change and recognition is proving to be the most difficult phase for many families. As a daily money manager, I see the things that happened to my family repeat themselves with my clients. I see the concern, understand the frustration, and also recognize the need to maintain independence and freedom for the parent.

My dad was getting lost driving to my house, even through he had driven over nearly 2,000 times before over the previous decade. He was so sad at having to tell me he got lost. Not only was my very punctual dad late, he was also a master navigator.

When I was visiting with my mom a few days later she asks me about a great Aunt whose Christmas card was returned.  This Aunt had died a few years prior and was just another blaring warning that my mom’s memory fading. My kids were now used to being asked over and over about their ages, and my husband and I just responded to whichever name they came up for us when they visited.

My mom does start to complain that her “brain is bad today.” However, she really didn’t want to know more about it or change anything about her life because she felt that she was doing just fine.

Sadly, we had to wait until there was a critical event to ever really help them.

The challenges change, but I still found this the most difficult time because it was clear that my parents needed help, and there was nothing at all I could but be ready should they ever ask for it. Reflected. 

2 Comments

Be Careful on Your Next Visit to the Doctor

I hope that by now, you have made copies of what is in your wallet. Should it get lost or stolen, you have a quick and easy way to cancel or freeze your credit cards and know what needs to get replaced. Most of us have a home printer and it takes 2 minutes to copy everything in your wallet. I recommend you use color and consider enlarging the images so they are easier to read.

If you are caring for a loved one, it’s an easy way to keep track of their important information and access it at a moments notice.

Here are some tips from the police to avoid becoming victims to pickpocketers:

  • Keep all your personal items in your front pockets
  • Zip, fasten, and close your purse
  • Report any suspicious people or events
  • Make sure your elderly loved ones are accompanied by a trusted family member or friend

The job of are caregiver is already hard. Now we have to layer in some extra work to protect our loved ones in places we never expected to find criminals. Disgusted. 

Leave a comment

Caregiving Pulls Prime Age Women from the Workforce

BLSOn average, nearly one in four women aged 45 to 64 are unpaid caregivers according to the 2015-16 American Time Use Survey released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly one in seven women 35 to 44 are serving in this role. Apparently, since early 2000 the number of prime age women began to decline after rising for half a century. This shift coincides with a rise in the elderly population.

Thanks to my sister-in-law who shared the article in The New York Times. The topic has been debated for years and the prime motivator was believed to be caring for children, but now it’s becoming clear that many women are leaving to care for an elderly relative.

I recently wrote about The Impact of Caregiving on Employment — AARP projected that 49 percent of the workforce will be providing care in the coming years — and I am hoping that employers will start to consider how to help their workforce navigate the coming reality.

My caregiving duties lead me to leave the workforce temporarily. I had no idea how to manage work, raise kids, and help my parents. I wish I had access to information on how to be a good advocate for a loved one. Now that I’m on the other side of caring to two parents, I provide educational programs to caregivers in hopes of helping other families navigate these difficult waters. We shouldn’t all have to learn “on the job”.

Now that I work in the world of caregiving, the idea that there really is no way to easily, affordably get care is an issue I see everyday. I don’t know how we can solve that, but I am glad to see that the facts are helping bring light to this growing issue. Shared. 

 

2 Comments

How do if know if a community is a safe place for mom or dad?

MemoryBanc Daily Money Management Services

MemoryBanc offers practical assistance to age-in-place.

My parents tried to get ahead of having one of us choose a community to help with their care. The bought into a Life Care Community in 1998. However, they never really wanted to live there.

It got comical when they told us they didn’t want to really move in yet because that is where all the “old people” lived. My parents were in the mid-70s and treated the community as a vacation home and went on weekends.

I recently heard a statistic that the average age of those that move into retirement communities are now in their 80s. Most people want to stay in their homes as long as they can. However, I also see the isolation of those who lose a spouse or just withdraw from their network of friends. For those that give up the car keys, it gets harder to stay connected. Those are most of the clients I work with and I understand the tension between aging-in-place and moving to a community. The answer is different for everyone.

As Dr. Gawande simply states in the best-seller “Being Mortal” — many of us want safety for loved ones while those we are helping, want purpose and meaning. However, it’s hard to know if the community you are looking at is right for your loved ones.

A recent news story in our local paper shared that dozens of nursing homes in Virginia were fined for violations. It’s heartbreaking to know that many individuals who are at their weakest are not getting the kind of care their need. Unfortunately, it is a reality of the industry and one that means that family and loved ones need to be vigilant and be the voice for those that can’t advocate for themselves.

When I needed to find a different community for my mom who was a very active woman with moderate dementia, I hired a local aging life care manager from Caring Considerations. They helped narrow down my choices and my siblings and I had the opportunity to tour and select the one we thought was best for mom.

The reason to hire someone to help with this are many. First, online community locators are compensated by the communities they send you for the leads they produce. I wanted an impartial expert to help me find the right place for mom.

I have also referred some families to the senior community advisor that serves my local community. They are compensated by some of the communities they refer to, so I suggest you a schedule a call to learn more about how they can help you and how they are compensated.

You want to know about how the residents and their families have found the community. Most aging life care managers and senior advisors have clients living in the communities and have an inside view.

The final reason is that you will want to know if there are violations. You can search for the ratings on Nursing homes on the Medicare site here.  Unfortunately, this is only for the skilled nursing, so having someone who knows about an Assisted Living or Memory Care community can help offer some additional comfort to a difficult choice.

Even the top communities aren’t able to staff to meet all the needs of their residents. It’s a shame to know that we haven’t figured out how to compassionately meet the needs of our elders. Aging Ain’t for Sissies. Considered. 

3 Comments

The Impact of Caregiving on Employment

Will employers ever realize that the cost-cutting measures to remove many of the wellness programs they used to invest in could actually make a big difference to their bottom line?

The trend seems to be on encouraging better health for the employees through monetary incentives to do everything from drinking more water to getting in more steps daily. These incentives dismiss the reality that millions of employees are dealing with health issues that are not their own … and it will ultimately impact their ability to perform their jobs and sadly, ultimately their health. One study found that employers paid about 8 percent more for the health care of caregiver employees compared to noncaregivers, potentially costing U.S. businesses $13.4 billion per year.

According to AARP About half (49 percent) of the workforce expects to be providing  eldercare in the coming five years.

After living through the care of two parents, I hope more employers will consider offering something as simple as a brown bag lunch to help employees understand the choices, issues, and how to better navigate the caregiving journey.  Most of us that do these workshops as well as those that are serving in the senior community left careers after being a caregiver. We know it can be easier, better, and are doing our part to make a difference. I hope if you are still working you have gone to your employer to find out what they might have in place to help you.

The Costs of Caregiving Affect Both Individual Workers and Employers

According to a white paper on caregiving done by AARP, U.S. businesses lose up to $33.6 billion per year in lost productivity from full-time working caregivers. Costs associated with replacing employees, absenteeism, workday distractions, supervisory time, and reductions in hours from full-time to part-time all take a toll.

While it’s expected to impact nearly half of all employees in the coming years, the initial fear was the loss of the workers due to aging. Now it’s the impact of workers caring for loved ones that will take a toll on our workforce.

Add the costs from increased health expenses for caregivers to the costs of lost productivity and the total mushrooms to $47 Billion. Have you noticed corporate America?

The report shares that:

  • Some 20 percent of all female and 16 percent of all male workers in the United States are family caregivers. That’s nearly 1/5th of all employees.
  • Nearly seven in ten (68 percent) caregivers report making work accommodations because of caregiving. These adjustments include arriving late/leaving early or taking time off, cutting back on work hours, changing jobs, or stopping work entirely (see figure 1).

Workaccomodations

Family caregivers (age 50 and older) who leave the workforce to care for a parent lose, on average, nearly $304,000 in wages and benefits over their lifetime. These estimates range from $283,716 for men to $324,044 for women.

For now, the numbers prove that both sides are on the losing end.

What I do know is that I lived though these statistics and can vouch that my caregiving resulted in me leaving the workforce temporarily. The impact to my lifetime wages and benefits was greater than the average. However, I enjoy my new career and wake up every day with a fire in my belly to make a difference, if even only for one person each day. Testified.

If your company is ready to put some caregiving education programs into place, you can reach me at 703.436.2827.

%d bloggers like this: