You’re doing what any good person would do, trying to keep tabs on a loved one who’s growing older. You’re afraid to broach the idea of getting involved in their affairs, because you don’t want to hurt their feelings–or worse, start a fight. Maybe you’ve even tried to offer your help, only to get rebuffed.
Heidi Sklenar Telschow, a personal advisor to clients of Fairview’s Caregiver Assurance service, knows it’s a predicament. She hears it on a daily basis.
When a senior repeatedly resists help, “it creates a lot of frustration for the son or daughter or spouse,” Heidi says. “People will make unsafe and uninformed decisions, and you just want to throw your hands in the air and say, ‘I’m done.’ ”
Getting past your frustration
The first step is understanding that your loved one isn’t necessarily just being stubborn.
“It’s more about them being in denial of their actual abilities,” Heidi says, from their eyesight to whether they’re strong enough to handle the stairs. “It may take Dad slipping on those last two steps and getting a big bruise on his behind for him to realize.”
Even if your loved one does grasp the situation, accepting your help can feel like surrender. “That final time they hand over those car keys and know they will never go to the store by themselves again, it’s handing over their independence,” Heidi says. “To lose that is like giving up who they’ve been their entire adult life.”
Having the talk
Heidi has some tips for that difficult conversation about taking on some things your loved one can’t or shouldn’t be doing anymore.
“Never present it as an ultimatum: ‘If you do that one more time, I won’t keep bringing the grandkids to visit.’ Like any transition in life, it has to be processed,” Heidi says. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of shaming or guilting your parent. You might be thinking, “Doing this for you is already hard enough; don’t make it any harder” or “I never signed up for this.” But saying it to them could increase whatever anxiety or depression they’re having about aging, making it even harder to accept your help and pushing the problem down the road. Bringing a neutral party into the conversation can often break a stalemate.
“Try to have the advice come from someone else–me, a doctor, a mental health assessor,” Heidi says. “It takes the weight off the caregiver as the bad guy. You don’t have to be the one to pull the plug, so to speak. If it’s you as the caregiver harping on it, they’ll drag their feet.”
That’s one reason why Fairview launched Caregiver Assurance, which gives you unlimited access to a personal advisor like Heidi and the option of visiting your senior’s home and hosting a family conference with you.
“People always take me up on that,” she says. “No one ever says, ‘Let me be the one to break Dad’s heart.’ ”
Accepting what you can't control
In the end, the senior is still in control. Just because you choose to watch out for them or it’s fallen to you, it doesn’t mean they’ll let you make all the decisions while they’re still living in their own home. So expect to draw on your deepest reservoir of patience.
“People aren’t going to hear a recommendation just once and accept it,” Heidi says. “People need time to weigh their options. Reassure them that you’re there for them and will do everything you can for their safety, and when they’re ready to make those brave steps for change, you’ll be there for them no matter how long it takes. Wrap them in support.”
If you help or support on navigating senior care options and resources or you're ready to have the talk with your loved one, contact us so that we can be a support to you in your journey.
Although we cannot be with every senior during this time or peoples with compromised health systems, we still want to be a resource. Our Corporate Registered Dietitian will be putting together some short video segments to provide nutrition tips and fun little recipes for people to try on their own. We are hopeful that with these precautions we will be able to move on to our “normal lives” soon.
Nutrients found in foods can help boost our immune systems and provide our bodies with extra protection. That being said, it is not guaranteed that any of the foods will actually prevent you from ever becoming sick. However, here are just a few foods that can give us a little help in staying healthy!
Of course, proper hand hygiene is one of the most effective way to help prevent the spread of germs. We would also like to remind everyone to properly clean utensils, glassware and other serving dishes. Refrain from sharing silverware, cups, bottles, etc… to avoid the spread of germs from on to another.
The recipe today is one that our Registered Dietitian Becca thinks we all deserve at this time because it features steak! Steak is a wonderful source of protein, zinc and iron. Pairing foods like steak with other foods containing vitamin C (strawberries) helps our bodies absorb iron more efficiently too!
As people get older and enter into assisted living communities in Minnesota, it is more important than ever that they find ways to keep busy and socialize with others. Otherwise, they risk not getting a proper amount of human interaction, which can have very unfortunate physical and mental consequences for someone in an independent living home.
Luckily, every senior living in Lake Elmo is going to offer a wide variety of activities that its residents can participate in. These activities are designed to get a lot of residents together in one area and have them socialize with one another. But in most cases, many of the residents can easily participate in a wide variety of other activities that are not directly offered by the senior living home in Lake Elmo. To help someone who is in memory care in Lake Elmo avoid feeling lonely, here are some of the best social activities for seniors to participate in.
When someone thinks of yoga, they often picture a group of people in their 20s or 30s who are doing incredibly flexible poses with one another. While a lot of the people who regularly participate in yoga do look like this, there is also a fairly significant number of elderly individuals who also do yoga. This is because yoga is a fantastic social activity that not only helps older individuals in a mental way but in a physical way as well.
The benefit of having increased flexibility is something that can’t be overstated in elderly individuals and is what makes them less likely to suffer a fall. It also improves their cardiovascular system, which greatly improves a senior’s quality of life.
In addition to these great physical benefits, yoga is an opportunity to gather with other like-minded people for about 30 to 60 minutes each time. While there is not a ton of conversation during the actual yoga exercises, people tend to talk with others in their group before and after the yoga class. Plus, the calming effect of yoga enables people to get into a positive state of mind, which encourages better and friendlier interactions with one another.
Walking is by far one of the most popular forms of elderly exercise since it does not require a lot of physical strength or endurance and yet is still a very good way to stay active and help manage a person's weight. It turns out that walking is also a great way for seniors to get out and socialize with one another.
When someone goes for a walk on their own, they often just admire the views or listen to music. However, if they grab a buddy to go on a walk with, then it is usually a non-stop conversation until the walk is over. This effect is amplified even further when someone is part of a regular walking group, which is a fairly popular thing to find in most senior housing communities.
So if someone is interested in getting out every day or a few times a week to go on a nice long walk with a few other people, then they can get the opportunity to catch up with their friends and talk about everything from current news to the latest gossip. They also get the benefit of spending time outdoors, which can help to boost their mood and encourage them to socialize even further.
Any chance that a person has to improve their skills in any area that interests them, they should definitely take it. One of the many classes that are often available to seniors is dancing classes. The type of dancing will vary from place to place, with some of the most common options including ballroom dancing, line dancing, and jazzercise. No matter what form of dancing it is, it will be a great opportunity for an elderly person to not only get quite a bit of exercise but also be in a very sociable environment.
When people are with each other dancing, they are usually there to have a good time and share a bunch of laughs with each other. Therefore, striking up a conversation with someone else should be incredibly easy. This is especially true when it comes to things like ballroom dancing since this often involves having a partner, which gives the seniors plenty of time to interact with someone over the course of the hour-long class.
A lot of independent living homes will have a regular game night that they host for the residents. This is the opportunity for the seniors to go into the common rooms and begin playing some board games or card games with the other residents.
One of the best ways to form a connection with someone is to do something with them where teamwork is required. This forces them to have a lot of conversations with one another, which makes it easier than ever to form new friendships.
While there might occasionally be a sore loser who takes the game seriously, the vast majority of people who show up to these game nights are just there to have fun. Therefore, even if someone is not very good at a particular game, most people will not mind and will still be more than happy to play with and converse with someone who is not on the same skill level as they are.
If there is a particular game that someone loves to play, then they may be able to find other people who love that game just as much and join a group that regularly gathers to play it. This is seen quite a bit with games like bridge, crib, or dominos. Therefore, if an elderly person is looking for an opportunity to socialize, then they should check and see if their building has any upcoming game nights they could go to.
For Information on How the Residents of Arbor Glen in Lake Elmo Stay Active, Visit Our Events and Activities Page or Join us for an Upcoming Event
Keywords: assisted living community lake Elmo, independent living home lake Elmo, memory care lake Elmo, nursing home lake Elmo, senior living home lake Elmo
A guide to the challenges (and rewards) ahead
These tips come to you from Cindy Swanson, a personal advisor for clients of Fairview’s Caregiver Assurance program, which is part of the Ebenezer family.
1. The situation could be more demanding than you thought.
Your aging relative or friend’s need for help has probably been coming on gradually, as they’ve become less capable of managing the demands of daily life–like keeping up the house.
“You’ve been to see your parents and they worked hard to get it ready for a visit,” Cindy says, “but you may not notice that newspaper stack is getting higher and higher, and the recycling isn’t going out. When we’re going to our parents’ home, that’s just the status quo. We’re sometimes not realizing it’s getting less clean and less organized."
It may be hard for them to admit to you they can’t mow the yard anymore or lift the ladder to clean out the gutters. So be prepared, once you’ve committed to start helping a senior, to discover that they may have let things go more than you knew.
2. You may need to set some realistic boundaries.
“A common thing that happens is that someone’s in the hospital–maybe it’s mom’s first fall–and she’ll tell the social worker: ‘My daughter can stop by every night after work and bring me meals.’ It’s not uncommon for someone in the hospital to say they have family that can do all this without talking to the family,” Cindy says. “The daughter will say: ‘I live 30 miles away on the other side of the cities. It’ll take me an hour to get there after work. I can’t do that.’ What a parent sees as realistic may not be the same as reality.’ "
Especially if you’re juggling a career and your own family on top of helping a parent stay in their own home, you may find yourself spread a little thin.
“There’s a point where you become resentful of having to do that,” Cindy says. “You need to figure out how much you can do without creating negativity in your life."
3. Your senior’s new situation may reignite old family tensions.
What’s happening with your parents in their later years is emotional enough, but coming to a consensus about what to do can be rough on even the tightest of siblings.
Cindy describes a typical scenario: “We all know how our family operates. There’s nothing really happening, but there may be underlying tensions that naturally exist. Maybe the oldest son sees the younger son as always getting away with things he can’t. What happens under stress or in crisis is those things blossom.”
Even if you agree to be the main caregiver at the start, you may end up feeling like your siblings aren’t pitching in enough. They may feel like they aren’t getting enough of a say. It’s easy in these situations to revert to old childhood patterns and bring up old hurts.
Cindy or one of our other Caregiver Assurance advisors can help you manage a family conference to work through some of those issues.
4. Caregiving can take a toll on your work life
Cindy knows a thing or two about that. Not only has she helped coach people through this, but she has firsthand experience. She helped take care of her parents and her husband’s parents.
“What happens is, you spend your whole lunch hour calling people, then you go back to work and you’re waiting for those callbacks. If you’re trying to do a report and making calls for your parent, your 8 to 5 schedule might become 8 to 7. Or you say, ‘I’ll do it at home,’ and you’re sitting there doing that report at 11 at night. How much sleep do you get?”
“There I was, caregiving for my in-laws and my parents, all four of them, trying to keep track of doctor appointments, who was needing services, who needed home care,” Cindy says. “And I was holding a mid-management position in a hospital. It wasn’t realistic that I could juggle it all.”
5. You’ll need to learn things you never needed to know before.
At your age, you may not know how often an older person should get a colonoscopy. Adult day care may be a complete mystery to you. And you certainly haven’t spent a lot of time investigating how to buy a Medicare plan. “You’re going to run into a whole lot of things you’ve never dealt with before,” Cindy says. “Things that even a college-educated person is going to have difficulty with: Looking at your parent’s financial situation and how to deal with that. Finding financial planners or attorneys, somebody who understands elder law. That’s why you’d connect with a program like us. I know some things myself, and I know several reputable firms in the Twin Cities.”
6. You’re a giver, so beware of neglecting yourself.
People who take on the role of caring for an elderly relative may naturally be the type of person who thinks of everyone else’s needs before their own. But that can last only so long.
Cindy paints a picture of life as four glasses of water and a pitcher: “Your glasses might be your husband, your son, your 14-year-old-daughter and your parents. You keep everybody’s glass full, but where’s the pitcher for you? People keep pouring, and pretty soon the pitcher’s empty.”
Keeping your own glass full is something the personal advisors at Caregiver Assurance can help with.
“There was a time when it wasn’t accepted that you would put yourself first,” Cindy says. “It’s not about putting yourself first, but doing your caregiving AND knowing how to take care of yourself.”
7. Caring for a senior may be the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.
That reward could be as simple as spending more time with your loved one and finally hearing the story behind that one photo in the dining room. It can be the peace of mind knowing that they’re safer when you check on them every day. It can be giving back to somebody who has given so much to you.
“My dad never wanted to go into a nursing home,” Cindy says. “Feeling that I was honoring his wishes, I look back at it and I feel lucky.”
No matter how frustrating or rewarding it is to help an aging loved one, you don’t have to do it alone.
“There isn’t a classroom you can go to and learn all of this,” Cindy says. “Whatever the journey is, there’s help. If you have to make a right turn, there are people who are able to help you along. That’s what we’re trying to do here at Caregiver Assurance.”
Fairview Caregiver Assurance
For more information visit:
fairview.org/Caregiver-Assurance or call 612-672-CARE (2273) to speak with one of our Caregiver Advisors.
As we approach the holidays, we realize how much we have to be thankful for in our lives.
Thanksgiving in my house growing up usually involved us traveling to see family. My grandpa was a great cook and would always make the turkey just right! For me, Thanksgiving is all about the turkey. Nowadays, my husband does not like turkey, so he ends up getting some steak (more turkey for me!). Turkey is a good source of lean protein, vitamin B-6 and niacin which are essential for protein, fat & carbohydrate metabolism to produce energy in the body.
Another Thanksgiving staple, pumpkin pie, also yields some health benefits, Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin C, calcium, potassium and fiber. Pumpkin also contains carotenoids which include beta carotene and lutein which is important for eye health. You can control the amount of sugar and fats in pumpkin pie by using plain pumpkin puree and evaporated milk instead of heavy cream.
While our main focus on the Thanksgiving meal is to enjoy it with friends and family, we should pay attention to the safety of foods during preparation and storage. Stuffing (or dressing) is unfortunately a cause for food poisoning if not cooked correctly. When stuffing the Thanksgiving bird, a general guideline is to plan for about 1 cup of prepared stuffing per pound of uncooked turkey. Use a food thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees. Store leftover stuffing in a separate container than turkey when finished.
And now, a recipe:
Pumpkin Pie Dip (adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
This dip would be great to have available as guests arrive and start mingling, watching football and waiting for the main event!
Happy Thanksgiving to All!
Rebecca Kapsen, RDN, LDN
Ebenezer Corporate Registered Dietitian
Studio apartments are most often linked to young adults without children. But there is another generation that is now choosing studio apartments. With the senior population on the rise, it’s time to take a look at how to downsize and live well in a studio apartment.
Many seniors are not able to maintain, and afford larger units for an extended period of time. Studio senior apartments are much more affordable and can help you extend your private pay finances should you need financial assistance down the road.
The main benefit of studio apartments for seniors is reducing the amount care of belongings and the costs associated with it. In communities like ours, there is no yard to maintain and we do all the maintenance. Additional benefits include more opportunities for socializing, relationship building, engaging activities and lower overall housing costs.
Decreasing Space, Increasing Life
Our community’s amenities and maintenance free lifestyle provide many residents a high quality of life. We’ve had new residents express that they love they can have great meals (they get served and don’t have to cook) and have great outdoor spaces, many activities to do if they choose and the peace of mind to have care if, and when, they need it. It’s a great place to live, no matter how much space you have.
What is important to you?
That is one of the first questions that you’ll hear from us. Usually the answers are: safety, quality care, that my loved one can live here forever, your staff care for them like family. Then, after we have the conversation of what’s important and they see the studio apartment, they have a moment of shock. Yes, it’s small. But think back to the conversation of why your loved one needs a senior community (falls, isolation, not eating right, needed care), none of those reasons involved having a large 1 or 2 bedroom apartment. Plus, they have the whole community as their home. With less stuff and home to deal with, more focus can be put toward living a better quality of life and a wonderful lifestyle.
We understand that making the decision to move yourself or a loved one into a senior living community, as well as smaller space, is hard; that’s why we’re here. To help support you, guide you and let you know that it’s okay. It’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to let go of the guilt. So we urge you to try a studio first, and if it doesn’t work, you can always go bigger.
Ways to Live Well in a Smaller Space