3 Ways Good Design Can Help People Who Have Dementia

The design of the environment we live in has a profound impact on our mood and wellbeing, especially for people living with dementia. In this post, we’ll look at some ways that good design can make an impact, from the use of colors and lighting, to making it easy to perform daily tasks, helping you to plan a suitable environment for your loved one, or to identify a care home designed for the needs of people with dementia.

Good use of color

Color choices play an important part in ensuring people with dementia can navigate their surroundings, identify familiar places and affect their mood. Firstly, contrasting colors can be used on furniture, fittings and fixtures to help people navigate and interact with their surroundings. For example, using a light switch that contrasts in color to the wall it’s on can make it easier to identify, avoiding confusion. Similarly, utilizing handrails that contrast to the walls their mounted on makes them easier to find, encouraging people with dementia to explore their surroundings without fear of getting ‘stuck’. Ensuring furniture is a different color to the floor also makes it easier for people to negotiate the room without fear of tripping up, while also making it easier to identify where they are and find their way around.

Using different color doors is another good way to help people with dementia identify different rooms. For example, painting bathroom doors a different color to other doors can help people identify what’s inside them. Colored doors are also used in care homes for residents’ rooms, helping to make them more recognizable and making it less likely for residents with dementia to get lost and enter other people’s rooms accidentally.

Before painting any walls or changing fixtures and furniture, it’s important to remember that color can affect mood. Be aware of any preferences that your loved one may have, for example if they have eye conditions, yellow, orange and red can be easier to see. Others may prefer darker colors like black or dark blue against light backgrounds.

Using lighting correctly

If lighting is not used correctly, it can make it harder to identify objects, create shadows, and change perceptions of the passing of time, all of which can cause confusion and distress for people with dementia.

Natural light is the first important consideration. Not only does natural light provide higher levels of diffused light, which creates soft, unnoticeable shadows, it also helps to show the passing of time as the light source changes throughout the day, making it easier to stick to natural sleeping patterns.

Artificial lighting also plays a part as it can help compensate for poor eyesight, helping people find their way around their home. For example, additional artificial lighting can be used to make it clear that corridors and pathways around rooms are clear and unobstructed, avoiding confusing shadows. The position of lighting needs to be considered, for example to avoid bright light directly over beds, which can make it difficult for people to rest. The choice of lampshade is also important, as these can be used to create diffused light, reducing shadows and creating a uniform level of brightness around a room.

Make it easy to perform day to day tasks

Interior design also plays a part in making day to day tasks easier to perform for those with dementia. Lighting can again play a part here, for example by illuminating the insides of drawers and cupboards when they are open, making it easier to find things.

People with dementia can also struggle to remember where things are kept, for example in the kitchen. A solution is to use transparent cupboard doors allowing the contents to be seen, or use labels to mark what’s inside. Pictures or icons are a good idea, as it can be easier to remember the look of an item than its name.

Icons and signs are also a great way to direct people to certain rooms. For example, signs leading to the bathroom may include pictures or icons representing a shower, toilet and washbasin, to remind users what the bathroom contains. Meanwhile, the dining room door could feature an icon of a knife and fork to represent eating, providing a visual clue to what can be done in this room.

In conclusion

If you’re making changes to someone’s living space or finding a new home for them, it’s important to remember that everyone has different abilities and needs which can change over time. It’s important to take a person-centric approach as a result, ensuring your loved one continues to be able to make their own choices and uphold their dignity.

About the author

Seb Atkinson works for Hallmark Care Homes, a leading provider of dementia care.

Elder Spring Cleaning

Many people take the beginning of spring as a time to clean, organize, and reset. With longer days on the way and warm weather on the rise, people feel a general increase in productivity during the spring.  Unfortunately, there are elderly folks living in senior care facilities are not always equipped to take on this kind of a task. Whether they are limited in mobility or just have too much cleaning and organizing to tackle on their own, your assistance might be necessary to complete spring cleaning. Below are some of the best ways for you and your loved one in a care facility to tackle spring cleaning this year.

Prioritize:  Before you even start your spring cleaning, it is best to begin by making a list of everything your elderly family member or friend would like to accomplish during their spring cleaning process. Once you have made your list, number  those tasks in order of importance. Tackle the biggest, most important projects first, like organizing medications or paperwork. As you complete those large tasks,  complete smaller, simpler projects in between. This will allow you to accomplish more!

Organize:  For the elderly, it’s especially important to keep items maintained and organized. Start by clearing out drawers and cabinets of their contents. Organize items by category. Everyday items should be kept in places where they are easily accessible, so keep that in mind when organizing closets, cabinets, and refrigerators. Also be sure to organize any relevant medical paper work, insurance information, or bills, and stow them away in a safe but easily accessible place. Organizing belongings makes it easier to find what you’re looking for, and will make it that much easier to find what they need when they need it.

Sanitize:  A clean living environment is vital to anyone at any age. If your loved one’s living space is looking lackluster, used sanitizing cleansers to clean flooring, countertops, and bathroom surfaces. This will spruce up the space instantly, and give your loved one a fresh reset to start the spring season in a healthy manner. Throughout the rest of the season, explain the small chores they’ll need to do to maintain the cleanliness, but a deep spring cleaning is a good jumping off point.

Involve:  While your elderly family member will surely appreciate your help, they don’t want to be completely left out of the process. Depending on their physical ability, you can have your loved one help out with certain spring cleaning tasks. Have them organize paper work while you organize a hard-to-reach cabinet, or assign another task that allows them to remain stationary. Helping out even in the slightest will allow them to feel involved and accomplished when the day of cleaning is done.

Facilitate:  Proper health care is a top priority for the elderly. Checking expiration dates of food and pills should also be part of your spring cleaning process. Make sure the senior care facility your loved one is in is a safe home for them to inhabit, clearing the floor of any trip-and-fall hazards. If your family member uses any type of medical devices, ensure they are functioning properly and ready for use. A list of phone numbers should be programmed into their phone or placed next to a phone in case of emergencies.

If you feel like this is a lot to take on yourself, make a day of it with the family. Helping out your loved one living in a senior care facility with their spring cleaning is a great way to spend time with them. Plus, doing so will allow them more time to participate in activities and socialize.

About The Author

Ruth Folger Weiss loves writing for The Waterford On The Bay, a senior living community in Brooklyn, New York.


15 Tips on Providing In-Home Health Care

Providing in-home health care to someone, especially a loved one can be a stressful and challenging experience.  Preparing ahead and considering these fifteen tips can help to make the transition into in home care less stressful and easier on you and the individual requiring care.

  1. Impact on Person Needing Care – the individual needing care will need some time to adjust to the new arrangement.  They may have recently lost a loved one or they may have had an injury or major medical event that has prompted the change.  Any of these changes can cause stress, anxiety or even depression so it’s best to give that person some time to adjust.
  2. Impact on You – As you will be the one giving care, a significant amount of your time will be required.  You will need to consider if this is something you are willing to do and how it will affect your job and family life.
  3. Impact on Your Family – It will be important for you to discuss your decision to provide in home care with your family.  The decision will directly impact them and your way of life.  Carefully consider everyone’s opinions and concerns prior to making a full commitment.
  4. Staying on Top of Appointments – Once you start providing in home care, you will need to stay on top of appointments that will need to be kept such as going to the doctor, physical therapy, etc.
  5. Questions to Ask the Doctor – The more care you provide, the more involved you will be with monitoring the daily activities of the individual.  You will want to ask specific questions of the doctor if you notice any concerning behavior or changes to the health or mental state of the patient.
  6. Medicines – Along with providing in home care, you will need to keep track of any medications, when they need to be administered and any dangerous side effects or interactions with other drugs or specific foods.
  7. Meals – Providing regular and nutritious meals will be a major part of your responsibilities and it will have a major impact on the health of the person requiring care.
  8. Exercise/Physical Therapy – Depending on the mobility of the patient, you may need to ensure that they participate in some type of physical activity to keep them mobile.  This may also involve bringing them to the gym or to physical therapy appointments.
  9. Keeping Minds Active – If the patient is limited in activity or confined in any way, it may be helpful to make sure they keep their mind active in addition to their body.  This can be done by providing them with reading materials, thought-provoking games or puzzles.
  10. Eliminating Dangers in the Home – Keeping pathways clear and removing clutter in the home can help to prevent any accidents or injuries to the patient.
  11. Making Adjustments to the Home – Consider if your home may require adjustments such as ramps, railings, stair lifts or larger access points into and out of the home.  You may also need to make changes to furniture and fixtures such as chairs, beds, or bathtubs.
  12. Additional Cost for Caring – The cost of providing in home care can be significant.  You will want to consider if you need to reduce hours at work or stop working altogether in addition to the cost of additional food, transportation and potential renovations to your home.
  13. Liability Insurance – While most people provide in home care to a loved one, you may want to consider adjusting any liability insurance on your home.  Any additions you make to your home may require additional coverage.
  14. Taking Care of Yourself – One thing that most caregivers neglect while they are providing care is themselves.  Make sure you are eating right, getting enough sleep, and getting a break from time to time as care giving can be a demanding task even if you are helping a family member or loved one.
  15. Know When to Admit You Need Help – At some point, providing in home care may become so overwhelming or even impossible that you may need to consider getting additional help or stopping in home care altogether.  Having an idea of what your options are under these circumstances will help to ease the transition especially if something changes with the patient unexpectedly.

By taking these tips into account, you can avoid any potential problems or conflicts as you transition into providing in home care.

 About The Author

Catherine Reeson is certified medical assistant, and has worked in various caregiver roles for several years. She aims to write about topics that will help beginner caregivers avoid some of the hurdles she’s faced in her tenure.

Easing the Process for Disabled Seniors

It was something so surreal that we could never imagine it when we were younger, but our parents, grandparents, and loved ones grow old. None of us remain strong forever and the day will come that you need help making it from point A to point B, but we’ll leave that alone for another day. When giving seniors care it is a touchy issue when it comes to aiding them. Like everyone, seniors want to remain thriving members of society but it is physically impossible for them to do so. Here are some ways that you can ease the transition from ability to disability with seniors.

Encouraging Independence

One of the essentials of elderly care is to remember each member of society wants to be healthy and functioning. When an elder realizes he or she is unable to continue caring for oneself like they were able to in the past it is devastating to their self-image. Upholding as many independent activities an elder can accomplish is crucial. Feeling helpless and unable to complete basic life activities without help is something no person wants to experience.  Encourage an elder’s independence. Challenge them to complete tasks which require independence. Go for a 3 15-minute walks per week (gentleman with a walker shown above), come down the stairs at least once per day, play a game of chess (online or offline), or any of these other activities.

Never Call Attention to Deficiencies

Humiliating a senior for a mistake or miscue should never happen. When a senior forgets where something was placed, bumps into a table, knocks something over, or has a restroom accident, do not call it to attention. Assure them that the problem will be taken care of. Then you can help to clean up the mess, reorganize, and assist in restoring the situation. Drawing attention to the senior for making a mistake only worsens the situation.

Home Care or a New Home?

When it comes to the point in which a decision must be made in regards to a senior living at home and receiving care or moving into a retirement center, the most favorable choice for the senior will be to stay in their own home. You’ll find that many major changes to a senior’s lifestyle are met with resistance and this shouldn’t be a surprise. When there are no feasible options besides moving into a senior care center or retirement community, you’re essentially telling the senior they need to evacuate their home and completely turn their life upside down. The “right” answer will depend on the needs of the aging senior and the level of care necessary for the senior to function in a healthy manner. Be sure to remind the senior that there are plenty of great things when it comes to retirement communities, including a community full of other great people and fun activities via life enrichment. If the senior makes the decision to move into a retirement community, be sure you do the research and help them decide which assisted living facility is the best.

The process of losing independence and the ability to care for oneself is never easy so do not expect it to be a seamless transition. It will be difficult, there will be miscommunication at times, and mistakes will be made. Just remember to encourage seniors when mistakes are made, don’t call them out, and challenge them to do things on their own. Put yourself in their shoes and treat them as if you’d like to be treated when you come to their age.

About the Author

Cheryl Swanson worked as the life enrichment coordinator of a retirement community for 17 years. Now she finds herself taking care of her mother, Lena, making sure she gets the most out of life in old age. A writer by heart Cheryl writes for www.justwalkers.com, providing walkers for movement assistance.

Find Free Social Services to Help You Take Care of Your Loved One

In our more honest moments, we can admit: it is incredibly difficult—both financially and emotionally—to provide long-term care for an elderly family member.

Even those who have saved for the challenges of a family member’s old age find themselves facing rising medical costs, hidden fees, and dwindling savings.

And, worst of all, many people who find themselves responsible for an older family member experience “caregiver burnout,” and their motivation and patience wane as time goes on. And while such feelings are totally normal—expected, even—that feeling of burnout can lead to resentment and guilt.

Those who care for family members often believe that they are utilizing every opportunity to provide consistent and thoughtful care. Luckily, there are often extensive—and free!—untapped resources available.

Let’s take a look at some of the social services available in your area, and how to access them.

Step One: Log On and Find Your State’s Homepage

Here’s the good news: there a numerous social programs available to seniors, and to the people who provide care for seniors. Here’s the bad news: most of these programs are hidden in the dark corners of your state’s very old, very difficult to navigate homepage!

Texas is a perfect example. The state provides a wide range of programs for senior citizens and caregivers, but the Texas state homepage is… mystifying, to say the least.

But the search can be worth it. Texas’s Department of Aging and Disability Services has a list of services by county, and offers free or low-cost programs related to respite care, support groups, education on navigating the health care system, counseling for individual family members, and disability benefits. There may be waiting lists to utilize such programs, but many services are in fact under-utilized, and you may face no wait time whatsoever.

The assistance provided by each state is different, and some states provide more care than others. But the quest can be fruitful, as citizens of New York can attest.

To find your state’s website, go to a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing, and enter your state’s name followed by the word “homepage” (don’t include the quotes). The site you’re looking for should be in the first two or three results. Click on it and remember—the frustration of the search may be worth it!

Step Two: Find a Support Group—But Not Only for Emotional Help

Numerous studies have shown that caregivers who look to their communities for support are less likely to get sick themselves, and are more likely to experience “emotional resilience.” There is no question that the emotional backing that a support group offers can alleviate some of the more difficult aspects of caregiving.

So if you haven’t found a support group, you should. Weekly or bi-weekly attendance helps members explore (and hopefully dissolve) some of the more difficult emotions related to caregiving.

But while that alone is reason to attend meetings, it paints an incomplete picture of the value of support groups. We often forget that support groups are full of people who have an incredible amount of knowledge—and who have already navigated the difficulties of determining care for loved ones.

Wherever you live, the people who populate your local caregiver support group will have an understanding of the health care system, local services programs, and which local agencies can provide assistance.

So—get out there and make some new friends! Share your knowledge, and find out what others in the same situation are doing.

Step Three: Explore Services That Might Not Perfectly Fit Your Situation

It may sound odd, but services that are only somewhat related to your needs may furnish exactly the help you’re looking for.

Here’s an example: in many states, there are community mental health clinics that offer free therapy sessions to families who have a family member with a mental health disorder. For the most part, these counseling sessions are used to discuss schizophrenia, depression and anxiety, or bipolar disorder. However, in some cases, the counseling sessions can be used by families who have a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Even though the service is listed as a mental health resource, it can be utilized by families who are struggling with various aspects of elder care.

So how you do find such programs? Visit your county’s website and look for a tab that says “Programs and Services” (or something like it). Counties often offer services that are not available at the state level, and you need to investigate each.

A quick tip: a “spoonful of sugar” goes a long with the therapists who work at mental health clinics. Because the counselors and clinicians at these agencies are used to dealing with unhappy or difficult clients, an earnest and polite request from someone who is motivated to seek help can put you at the top of the list for services. For the most part, counselors want to work with motivated clients, and if you can show that you are a good candidate for help, they will be happy to work with you.

Another quick tip: Explore services in the counties surrounding the one you live in. While most counties are strict about division of services, the programs in some counties may be under-utilized, and they may accept out-of-county applicants. We know of one person who was seeking legal advice with an elderly father’s finances, and was able to attain the help of an out-of-county program.

Step Four: Hang in There!

Persistence in key. It can be difficult to arrange free services—but it can difficult to arrange paid services, as well! In every state and every county, there are programs that can help you help your loved ones. Keep at it, and see what you can find!

About the Author

Matthew Morris is a hospital social worker in Brooklyn, NY, and has helped many clients attain social services on a state and local level. He also runs The CNA Career Agency to help individuals start a nursing career in the healthcare industry.

Caring for an Elder: The Healing Process after a Stroke

My mom had a stroke two years ago. The healing process is still ongoing, and I remember even just a year ago she would suddenly burst into tears if she was having a particularly rough go of it that day. She would be so disappointed with herself for not being able to do things as she did before – from flying her own plane over the countryside to adventurously riding her horses by herself. There is still healing to be done, but she has made huge strides. As a first time caregiver, it can get a bit overwhelming to deal with, but understanding the healing process really helps.

Healing from a stroke is a slow process.

I remember my sister brought over her children to visit us not long after the stroke, and my mother got so overwhelmed with the kids and having her mind flooded with happy memories from her past, “healthy” self.

If you are caring for an elder recovering from a stroke, I am sure you have experienced some of what I have discussed. The main goals of a caretaker should be to maintain a positive attitude in the stroke victim with emotional support and an environment of mental and physical healing in addition to ensuring that a second stroke does not occur.

Emotional support

This part can be quite trying, but also very rewarding. I’ve never been closer to my mother, and I am so glad I’ve been able to care for her at my home even though it has been stressful. Remember to care for yourself too! It’s important to deal with the stress inherent in caregiving – ask for help from other family members and get plenty of alone time!

Mental healing

Stimulating and teaching the areas of the brain to function in ways they never have before isn’t as hard as it seems. There is a free app we love called Mind Games that helps with many things including memory and critical thinking. There are many brain fitness programs to help mentally sharpen any mind, whether the elder wants to lower his or her risk of dementia or heal after a stroke.

In addition to the app my mother uses, we play board games and card games. This is not just for fun, but also to exercise her mind. The more she uses it, the more quickly and efficiently she can think. The goal is to get to the same level as where she was mentally before the stroke, and I fully believe in her ability to get there.

Physical healing

Physically strengthening the body with exercise including aerobic and muscle training is very important in the healing process. My mother’s left side of her body was still very weak a year and a half ago, but now it is stronger and nearly completely healthy.

We go on 30 minutes worth of brisk walks daily in addition to the occasional yoga or Tai Chi classes we take. At first my mother was too weak for 30 minutes of walking, so we split into small chunks throughout the day. We also heard about how it is that exercising the right side of her body (that wasn’t weakened by the stroke) can actually help strengthen the weaker left side as well and have started giving that a try.

This seemed counterintuitive to us too, but a new study in Experimental Brain Research has found that strengthening one side of the body actually cross-educates to the other side too. The muscles on the side that isn’t getting exercised receives new connections to the brain, and participants found equivalent strength gains in both legs after 25 minute sessions three times a week.


Healing can mean taking medication to prevent blood clots from forming. My mother has a heart condition called Atrial Fibrillation, which causes the blood to pool in the heart as the heart beats irregularly. Anticoagulants work really well for her, but they can be dangerous depending on which drug you get. Always be aware of the dangers of drug side effects. It’s better to know what the risks are than to pay with your health for any ignorance later. A good example is the Pradaxa lawsuits due to irreversible internal bleeding.

With emotional support and mental and physical healing, there is life after a stroke. With patience, positivity, and taking a day at a time, you and your loved one will get through the healing process.

About the Author

Madeline Ferdinand is a writer for DrugNews.net. Her main goal is to keep the old youthful and the youthful wise. She likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain (in moderation of course).

Caring for Seniors This Winter

The winter months bring all sorts of exciting prospects for family fun. Whether it’s baking cookies, decorating the house or just relaxing by the fire, colder days can bring us closer together and remind us of what’s most important.

On the flip side, winter also carries a new set of hazards that can pose problems for families if they’re not ready. Things like snow-ins and power failures can be a household burden if you haven’t taken some steps to deal with them ahead of time.

That means now, more than ever, it’s up to you to give your elderly relatives some added attention. As a caregiver, you’re responsible for more than just your own safety.

To help you get started, here’s a list of guidelines and ideas for making a smooth seasonal transition.

Get Prepared

If you haven’t put together a cold-weather emergency kit, now’s a good time to gather some supplies. To accommodate for seniors, pack in some extra blankets, some softer non-perishable foods and any medications they may need. On the off-chance your family is stranded for a few days, you’ll need to take special care of your seniors’ health and happiness.

Move Quickly

Winter storms can happen in a flash, so you can’t afford to respond slowly. Ask your elderly family members if they’re interested in a motorized scooter or chair. Just like giving up the car keys, it can be a touchy subject for seniors; try not to push. Help them recognize that our bodies all start to slow down at some point, and there’s no shame in getting some help.

See a Doctor

The immune system weakens as we age. And after years of fighting off infection and disease, it’s only fair that seniors get some extra assistance. Once flu season ramps up and the colder weather blows in, it’s that much more important to take your senior family members to the doctor’s office. A layman’s diagnosis might not be enough in certain cases.

Stay Limber

Once we get on in years, we should all adopt a newfound responsibility for our bodies. As the joints start to stiffen and the pulse begins to slow, stretching and exercise become key pieces of a senior’s day-to-day. See if you can get your hands on some weighted dumbbells or elastic bands, and encourage your senior family members to work out at least a few times a week.

Shop Right

Once the temperature drops, we want to stay inside as much as possible. So when you make the rarer trek to the mall or grocery store, make smart purchases for the seniors in your family. Stock up on warm clothing, blankets and high-fiber groceries that won’t go bad. Look for cereals and nuts you can keep in your cabinet for months at a time.

Practice fire safety

Every home needs a fire safety plan, regardless of how young or old the occupants may be. Being prepared to evacuate your home as quickly and safely as possible takes on added importance when you consider that seniors may be less mobile than other members of the household. Draw up an appropriate emergency evacuation plan, practice it regularly and be sure everyone follows basic fire safety guidelines.

Be Realistic

It’s a sad thought, but there comes a time when you may have to look at assisted living communities for your loved ones. Are you fully equipped to care for a senior this winter? If you can’t commit the time or resources, start looking around the area for well-regarded elder care facilities. It’s tough to let go, but it’s often for the best.

About the Author

By Elle Aldridge, a safety & security expert and editor for Home Security System.  Follow her on twitter @ElleEAldridge

Now What? Tips for First-Time Caregivers

Tips for First Time Caregivers

When my mother-in-law moved in with my husband and me after her stroke, I watched my stress levels skyrocket. I wanted to provide the best care possible, but I didn’t know where to begin. After doing a lot of research and talking to friends who had been in similar situations, I discovered that there are some really wonderful resources out there for first-time caregivers like me.

By taking advantage of the following tips, those of us who are new to caregiving can relax and focus on caring for our loved ones knowing that we are well-prepared.

The Basics

Accepting your new role as a caregiver can be tough, and there is no reason to pretend that it’s not. One of the best things you can do, for you and your loved one, is remember to take care of yourself, too. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and setting aside time to enjoy your favorite hobbies and the company of your friends can all help you manage stress. And when your stress levels are kept in check, you will be more clearheaded, calm, and energetic, all of which translate to a better, more sustainable ability to provide great care. It is sometimes difficult to not feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Try to remember that by taking care of your needs, you are indirectly taking care of your loved one’s needs, too.


Caregiving can lead to all sorts of emotions, questions, and concerns. Having a robust community that can offer support, camaraderie, and advice is crucial, especially for new caregivers who are most likely to need a little reassurance.

You may find that your closest friends do not understand what you are going through. This can be frustrating and lead you to feel alienated or alone. Fortunately, there are a variety of online support groups for caregivers that provide a place to share your worries and aggravations. At the end of a long day, I find comfort in connecting with others on discussion forums who can relate to my experiences. Sharing stories remains one of my favorite ways to make new friends and learn new information.


It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by everything you need to keep track of when you are caring for a loved one. Medications, medical visits, and daily regimens can quickly add up to a pile of lists that are all too easy to lose. With the help of apps for smartphones, tablets, and other devices, you can ditch the pen and paper. Microsoft Health Vault allows caretakers to keep medical records all in one place, which makes it easy to track down contact information for a loved one’s physicians, or to forward relevant medical history to new doctors. Other programs help keep track of medications, dosing schedules, and allow you to check whether or not medications—including over-the-counter drugs—interact with each other.


When it comes to caregiving, knowledge is power. And power provides peace of mind. While you’re sure to learn about your loved one’s medical conditions, medications, and other treatments, there are additional issues that you’re almost guaranteed to run across. You may find yourself being asked to make decisions about your loved one’s finances and end-of-life wishes, among other things. Investing time early on in learning as much as you can will prevent a situation in which you’re faced with the panic of navigating circumstances you know nothing about. At the least, try to familiarize yourself with first aid and CPR, other assisted living options and their associated costs in the event your loved one eventually requires a different level of care, and the current state of your loved ones financial and legal affairs.

Be Realistic

As you settle into your role as caregiver, try to keep your expectations realistic. You can provide excellent, compassionate care, but you cannot plan to meet each and every one of your loved one’s needs one-hundred percent of the time. Remember that there will be good days and bad days, and more importantly, that that’s okay. Ellen Besso’s book, The Caregiver in Midlife, gives advice from a balanced perspective that is supportive without any sugarcoating.

About the Author

Shanon Raynard believes prevention and preparedness are one of the most important elements of health and wellness. She partners with ACLS.net to raise awareness about life support certification resources that follow the latest guidelines from the American Heart Association.

Adjusting to Your New Family Dynamic

Your mom and dad are showing signs that they are not acting as sharply as they once were, and you are slowly noticing the change. Dishes are starting to pile up, hygiene is beginning to decline and your parent or elder is starting to forget normal routines, monthly bill payments or their usual doctor appointments. Because you do not live with them, you are concerned the little signs are indications of larger issues. As we age our state of mind and physical condition changes and making adjustments guarantees a safer, more comfortable and happier living condition.

Starting the Conversation

Regardless of the state your senior is in, discussing caregiving options early on and jointly is vital. Your conversation approach should come from a calm, understanding place where you highlight the advantages and specific reasons to why you think additional help is necessary. Outlining and examining what they want compared to the needs you anticipate should bring all pieces to a level playing field. Shift to a more emotional method if your mom or dad becomes hostile. Really explain your worries and if you already act as the family caregiver, tell him or her how the stress is starting to affect your own life. After coming to some form of agreement, it is time to decide on the best caregiving service.

Discussing Options 

The aging population is growing rapidly, and the senior care industry is creating numerous solutions for families in need. Assisted living, nursing homes, in-home care, adult day care and respite care are all options to consider. It can sometimes be difficult to make the smartest choice, but that is why the whole family’s opinion needs to be considered. AARP asked baby boomers about their most desired location as they aged, and 80% of participants stated they wanted to stay in their own home instead of an assisted care facility. Staying at home is usually the most appealing due to the desired need for independence, and your family may prefer this solution. In-home care is the option that most greatly affects the entire family, and having a plan will make the transition go smoothly.

How In-Home Care Affects You

In-home care can come in three forms. The first circumstance is where the senior moves into your home. The second is where you check in on your mom and dad at their home. Finally, the third option includes the first or second option with additional respite care from a third party provider.

Accommodating an additional person in your home affects your family. Rooms can be reassigned or your home may need remodeling for handicap accessibility, an extra room or a new user-friendly bathroom. Safety elements also need to be reviewed in your home’s current state. Emergency response systems, fall sensors and 24-hour monitoring structures are some of the common safety precautions installed in the home.

Financial changes also need to be considered in all three types of in-home care. Home remodels, food, respite care, transportation and many other expenses could be subtracted from your household’s income. However, time is often the most overlooked element to in-home care services. Juggling your own personal life and household against added doctor appointments, mealtimes and errands can be difficult. Two schedules can be stressful on a family caregiver, so making sure the entire family is on board will also reduce the stress by finding the gaps between schedules.

Why Open Communication?

Taking on the responsibility and role of family caregiver is life changing. Resentment, hostility and stress-induced arguments can arise. Keeping the lines of communication open can reduce the negative tension between family members and help manage your new family dynamic. Working efficiently as a family allows things to run smoother and make for a happier home.

For any additional questions, please contact us in the comments below.

About the Author:

Kym Clark, RN, BSN, CLNC, CSA is the Director of Home Care Services and Quality Administration for Comfort Keepers®, a franchise network in the in-home care market for seniors and other adults needing care.