Managing Through the COVID Lockdowns

The community where one of my clients has been living happily for over a year, sent me a note about new cases found and the process they were going to take to test everyone. This morning I learn that my client is one of 17 residents who tested positive today and my heart breaks. My colleague was going to visit because we have noticed she has been a little down lately.

No wonder. Many of us have seen the report that isolation is as harmful to us as smoking a pack of cigarettes’ a day. Forbes just shared the grim statistics of community residents across the county. “90 percent said they never left their campus, 60 percent said they never even went outside their building to take a walk, and more than half said they had no access to any activities within their facilities.”

In the beginning, we noticed that the forced lock-down actually benefited “Susan” because she was finally meeting and spending time with the other residents. However, when they went into full lockdown, where they have to stay in their rooms ALL DAY LONG, and eat their meals alone in their rooms, we can hear the sadness in her voice when we call.

This time I am going to start a silly postcard campaign so that she is at least getting a note and knowing that we miss her. We are all calling her too. Her family doesn’t live nearby so phone calls help. However, nothing is worse than being sick alone … AND too sick to even answer the phone.

My hope is that this former teacher will enjoy some silly postcards. Are there other ways to stay connected with someone who doesn’t use a computer, a smart phone, and for now, is too sick to talk on the phone.?

I sure hope that she ends up with a mild case. While she is in her 80s, she has very few other pre-existing conditions besides mild-cognitive impairment.

Please send me a note if you have any other ideas on how best to help those isolated during quarantine, and even worse, all alone as they fight COVID. Asked.

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

The Lancet produced a report in July 2020 on dementia prevention, intervention, and care. In the report they state that a growing body of evidence supporting modifiable risk factors for dementia that include:

  • less education
  • hypertension
  • hearing impairment
  • smoking
  • obesity
  • depression
  • physical inactivity
  • diabetes
  • low social contact

The bottom line: “It is never too early and never too late in the life course for dementia prevention.” They are citing many of the factors as things WE CAN DO SOMETHING about — whether it is getting more education which affects our cognitive reserve to health factors that can trigger neuropathological developments.

The single factor with the highest impact and in our control is hearing loss. If you or a loved one has some hearing loss and are concerned with some recall and memory, you need to have a discussion with your audiologist. Ultimately, you won’t recall what you didn’t hear, so could some of your issues be from hearing loss?

For many of us concerned about changes to our memory and recall, I found this report reassuring. We can be our own best health advocates, and I hope you will download this report and figure out if there is something that you can do for yourself or a loved one. Empowered.

Whatever it Takes to Keep Our Loved Ones Safe

COVID frustration and fatigue. I am most frustrated that we don’t have clear information, guidance, and an understanding of what is safe or uniform protocols for managing the risk of spread. I don’t go anywhere without a mask because that much seems clear to me. I can’t fathom being the reason someone else is exposed to COVID.

Zoom and phone calls have had to do to stay connected with family, friends, and clients. Given the uncertainty, I’m gonna fall on the side of caution.

I know … I look MARVELOUS in a hair net.

I was happy to finally get to visit my client in person in their new community. During the screening process at the front of the community, I was asked if I had left “Virginia” in the past 14 days, I shared that I had been in Washington, DC — which is less than one mile from my home. It’s also less than 7 miles from the Adult Community I was visiting. Because I had been “out of state” I was given a hair net and a plastic smock.

I had never heard of these “covid precautions” but was fine to do whatever I needed to do so I could visit.

I’m a rule follower but find it hard to understand the rules. If it means it will keep someone else safe, I’m gonna do what is asked of me.

I hope you and your family are finding ways to stay connected and support your loved ones. I’m seeing how the isolation is impacting several of my clients and hope we have a clear way forward soon. Prayed.

A Quick Way to Ensure You are Well-Represented

When my parents health started to fail, I was the adult child that was local and stepped up to help. While my parents had planned well, what I needed was information on their accounts, the locations of their personal documents, and access to their online accounts to help reset codes and update account information.

While I wrote a book that will walk you through this process, I am happy to give you a summary of what you need to collect and organize so you can do it yourself. Having a summary of this will help your spouse, partner, and loved ones that will step in to help should you need it.

Every adult should have a Durable Power of Attorney. It gives someone the ability to step in for you and pay bills, and manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do this — even temporarily. We did this for my son when he turned 18, and I used it to file his taxes one year when he was traveling.

For those of you caring for someone, you know how important, frustrating, and necessary it is to have this document in place. What many people don’t know is how difficult and time-consuming it can be to have a financial institution recognize the document. Many couples don’t realize until, it is a problem, that being married does not give you instant access to a spouse’s account if you are not named on it.

In hopes of giving you a simple guide to organize this information for yourself, I am releasing this free download.

Get a free copy of this guide at http://www.MemoryBanc.com/POA

Feel free to share it with everyone you love. Offered.

Adulting and Life Preparedness: Are YOU Ready?

While I am commonly asked to talk on topics of What to Save and What to Shred, the REAL question is what do we need to have organized and WHY.

We all think we are doing just fine managing all this information in our heads, on our computers, on our phones, and in file cabinets … but if you have EVER had to step in to help someone else, I am telling you that 90 percent of your frustration will come from the search and your inability to help.

While I got passionate about this topic as a caregiver, I am now admiring the millennial concept of “Adulting” and working to expand the topics beyond the “having kids” and “buying a home” milestones.

The reality is that retirement is not a finish line, it’s just a new stepping stone in life and we need to continue to learn and grow as we age — especially since many will be in retirement for nearly a third of their lives.

Check out this Ask the Expert session hosted by Ann McClure.

For an inexpensive workbook that will walk you through the process of getting all of your information organized, you can check out this product on Amazon. Full disclosure: it is my book and I will get a few nickles if you order one. It did win an award and several thousands of families have used this to help organize their household information.

Guilt: The Hidden Emotion carried by Adult Family Caregivers

For those of us caring for or having cared for a loved one (dementia or major health issues that require you as the family member to step up and advocate), we know that guilt is a constant companion and lingering emotion long past death. What could I have done better, different? Why didn’t I do X, even though Mom made me in clear she wanted Y?

Since I help with the day-to-day finances, home upkeep and am often named as the Power of Attorney and Trustee, I am finding I’m very sensitive to the language used by other professionals on the care team. While I am not involved in managing the home care or medical choices, I am usually copied on the discussions about the medical needs since they usually impact the finances.

I still have crazy dreams every once in a while where I have failed to visit my Mom in her memory care community. It’s almost been five years since she had her heavenly departure, but I guess these are similar to the dreams I used to have where I forgot to show up for my final college exams.

If you serve in a capacity as a:

  • Friendly visitor
  • Care Manager
  • Financial Advisor
  • Personal Care Assistant

Please recognize that the adult family caregiver is already grieving, probably feels the constant companion of guilt for NOT being involved enough, and focus on sending positive reports and using the care team in place to manage those things that need addressing that you can resolve without the family caregiver. Of course you should absolutely speak up if you feel the individual is in danger or could harm someone.

What I believe after living this journey with my parents is that “You don’t know what you don’t know” — which is perfectly OK. However, if you have not ever lived as an adult caregiver, recognize that the person that is living this journey, what you share with them matters and I hope you will just consider that filter when you send them updates on visits with their loved ones. Suggested.

Assistive Technologies in the Home

I’ve been on the hunt for simple options in the home that will enhance engagement. We have Google Home in our house and we struggle (and laugh) at our inability to get answers to what we think are simple questions.

As many of us are concerned about loved ones that are isolated during this pandemic, I’m digging in to see if there are things I can give to enhance the lives of my loved ones and clients.

Two things I learned about were Echo Show and Birdsong. To learn more about their origins, and how they have been enhancing the lives of older adults watch this video.

I offered a client that lives alone to buy and program the Echo Show that converses with you using the name “Alexa”. It has video as well as audio and displays his calendar, and can accept and make video calls to others using the Alexa app. We are in month two and have noticed that he is taking his medication more regularly when “she” is in the home.

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I have yet to have him really say anything glowing about it, but when I did remove it for a few days to update it, he asked about where it was … so I will take missing it being in the home as a positive response.

I have programmed it with prompts to:

  • take medication
  • get and drink a glass of water
  • remind him it is laundry day or trash day
  • load the dishwasher

He has to be in the kitchen to hear it, but I have embedded some of the reminders with updates on the weather, a run down of his day, good news, jokes, and even interesting stories.

He lives alone and covid has made us all feel isolated. My hope is that this will only enhance his day-to-day well being.

Please tell me if you have found success with any technologies. Curious. 

Here are two options for the Amazon Echo, the second one is more expensive. While I do not sell ads on my site or accept placed promotions, I may receive a small commission on products purchased through these links.

Scams are Thriving

In one month, I have had two clients click a pop-up on their computer, call the number posted and give their checking account and routing numbers / online passcode to their bank to the scammer on the other end of the call. Thankfully, neither of them resulted in any losses, but the amount of work created has been almost overwhelming.

I have told both my clients and their families that the computer does pose an increased risk to becoming a fraud victim. The science tells us that as we age, we become MORE trusting.

Both clients have some cognitive impairment. One immediately recognized her mistake and called the bank, but the other one we thankfully walked in to see the person controlling the computer and immediately turned it off.

We have a lot of people that are sitting along in their homes for longer periods of time and looking to find ways to entertain themselves. In addition to isolation being unhealthy, now it seems the accompanying boredom has made older adults ripe for engagement.

If you have a loved one you are worried about, is there a way to contact their bank to be alerted when a new bill payee is added to the account? Can you receive alerts if a transfer is requested?

Managing the purpose and meaning of handling your finances with the risk of having access to money is a fine line.

The one option that seems to help as someone is getting more forgetful and becoming a greater risk is to set up a sister account that includes a check book and only maintains a small balance. For many clients, we work with them to move money to the account when they write a larger check, but are also minimizing the risk of loss. Often, they don’t even know it is a different account and just share the spending with us when we call and visit.

Are you all seeing this increase?

Have you had any success with other options?

The best offense if a good defense. Practiced.

Savoring Your Time as an Adult Child

I had a conversation today with a woman who is a Certified Caregiving Consultant named Bobbi Carducci. She and her husband Mike cared for Rodger Carducci (Mike’s father) for 7 years. Bobbi and Mike host thought leaders on their weekly podcast who share invaluable insights and helpful tips on the challenges caregivers face.

It’s easy to look back on your time as a caregiver and imagine all the places you could have managed differently. I let that baggage go in the middle of my own caregiving journey because I wanted to keep moving forward. The second-guessing of my choices started to paralyze me.

Today, I can freely admit the one thing I wish I had done, and considered, was how to better be the daughter. I spent countless hours of my time in my parent’s community chasing down medical team members, making calls about insurance, banking or tax matters.

I wish I would have used that time to just hang out with my parent’s.

Thankfully, my parent’s had planned well and had the resources for me to hire these individuals. Maybe the additional interaction with others would have also provided them with more engagement. I will never know, and can’t change the past for myself, but I can share with you now how I look back on my time as the primary family caregiver.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Trying to figure it out is exhausting. You can start by listening to a few episodes of Bobbi and Mike’s Podcast Rodger That.

I frequently and adamantly recommend you schedule a call* with a local Aging Life Care Manager. In minutes they can help you navigate the maze of medical options and choices for your loved ones. Lastly, if you need help figuring out how your loved ones finances are structured, or if you have concerns about fraud or abuse, contact* a Daily Money Manager. Encouraged.

* Please use the tools on the sites to find these professionals to INTERVIEW them and make sure they are a good fit for you and your loved one. Some people like high-energy while others find a calm demeanor a better fit. The best place to start is to ask your Estate Lawyer, Financial Advisor, and even your Accountant. They will most likely have other clients who have used these resources.

Dealing with Dementia in the Family

I was interviewed about how to deal with dementia in the family and how to prepare for the worst on Profit Boss® Radio with Hilary Hendershott. What I failed to mention was that helping your loved one maintain purpose and meaning maybe the most important consideration.

It was posted on the anniversary of my parent’s marriage. I was the primary adult family caregiver to my two parent’s who were nearly simultaneously diagnosed with vascular dementia (mom) and Alzheimer’s (dad).

There are many things to know and consider if you have a parent with dementia. Recent studies continue to promote that:

  1. Be physically active and enjoy regular physical activity. Cardio helps both mind and body.
  2. Consider following a mediterranean diet and eat healthily.
  3. Don’t smoke.
  4. Drink less alcohol.

I believe the MOST IMPORTANT element is to consider your brain a muscle you need to exercise. Meaning and purpose and working toward a task and goals is a great way to exercise your mind.

You can hear the interview and some simple tips on how to navigate this phase of life if you are facing this situation here. Shared.

High Blood Pressure and the Increased Dementia Risk

Untreated high blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of dementia. Taking medication to lower your high blood pressure can reduce the risk of dementia. If you have been diagnosed, it could slow the progression.

Someone in my life who I dearly love has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and has chosen not to take medication that will treat her incredibly high blood pressure. She is brilliant, curious, and didn’t like how it made her feel after a few days so she stopped taking it.

I understand pill aversion and I am guessing I might be on that side of the fence when it’s my turn to start taking medication.

If you are a logical person and you know that:

  1. Taking high blood pressure medication can reduce the risk of dementia;
  2. Once diagnosed, taking high blood pressure medication can slow the progression of dementia;

…. shouldn’t you work to find a high blood pressure medication that works for you?

Ask your doctor for a different option is the one you took made you feel different.

I can only imagine how a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment and dementia may feel. I do see how many things seem to be taken away and life changes for the dozens of clients I have worked with over the years. I understand the feeling of loss as well as witness the inability to understand the impact of dementia on an individual’s ability to manage (Anosogosnosia).

What I hope is that I will find a way to help the person I love reconsider their choice because it could lead to a devastating impact should she have a stroke. It will also put the health of her husband at risk since caregivers often predecease the person they are caring for. It is not my choice to make, but I do hope information can help. Doing nothing in this case actually seems to me to be the worst choice.

However, I was told “It is an act of love to offer the compassion & love for another’s journey without enforcing your own judgement & viewpoints.” And that I will do. Tried.

Research from the NIH National Institute on Aging published in December 2019 reported “Treating high blood pressure with medication not only improves older adults’ cardiovascular health, but also can reduce their risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a thorough examination of long-term data from four countries.”

If someone has already been diagnosed Johns Hopkins Medicine reports “… if you didn’t have Alzheimer’s and you were taking blood pressure medication, you were somewhat less likely to develop dementia. And if you had dementia from Alzheimer’s disease and you took certain antihypertensives, the disease was less likely to progress.”