7 out of 10 people will need long-term care support – Are you ready?

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:

  • Someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their remaining years
  • Women need care longer (3.7 years) than men (2.2 years)
  • One-third of today’s 65 year-olds may never need long-term care support, but 20 percent will need it for longer than 5 years

Having a will and medical directives or even long-term care insurance won’t guarantee that the individual(s) who would step in to advocate for you will know about your medical history, your bills, your home improvements, your tax preparer or even your pets care needs. You want someone to be your advocate should you be facing a medical crisis or long-term care needs.

To get started, download a free check list of the documents you need or order a copy of the MemoryBanc Register that will guide you through the process of organizing your documents, accounts, and assets so that you can easily find them, and share them with a loved one when needed. Organized. 

Helping someone with Dementia find Meaning and Purpose

helpinghandMy daughter and I visited my Mom yesterday and as we were leaving my 11-year old turned to me and said “She’s a lot worse.” I have noticed that instead of one or two odd-ball comments, she now has whole sentences that don’t make sense.

She is also doing things that don’t seem very nice, but I know under her actions there is good intent. My Mom is a life bridge master and created and directed games around Northern Virginia. Several of them were in the Retirement Community where she now lives. I was told that she has been very disruptive at the games and have visited and seen the resistance to find her a partner lately. About a year ago, she tried to willingly turn over the games to a woman who volunteered. My Mom was having a hard time getting the bridge boards together. I know the woman had a very hard time because my Mom would forget she turned over the game and try to take it back over. Apparently, she still forgets which causes trouble.

A few weeks ago, the woman who was running the games got ill and has been in the nursing unit. My Mom went to go take her “boards” back from the community room. When I asked her why, she couldn’t tell me.  She is having a hard time putting her ideas together and communicating her intent — the first week she told me the story, it just sounded like she felt like this was her opportunity to steal back the equipment she turned over to the new volunteer director. Yesterday, she finally told me she was getting them ready so they would have boards to use so they could still have their games.

What I do see when I visit my Mom is how many things she can still do. My daughter hurt her foot and is now using crutches. On our trip, I would stop by the front door to let out my daughter and my Mom. My Mom would hop out of the car and get the door open to help my daughter. She was attentive and tried to assist with small tasks during our entire visit.

That is the missing component now for my Mom. She has been a tinkerer her entire life and having small tasks or someone to help would do her a heap of good. The Assisted Living community can keep her safe, but they just aren’t staffed or designed to keep her mind engaged doing activities she is interested in joining. They do offer bingo and movies and Zumba — but those aren’t things my Mom is interested in. I bet she would be interested if they offered activities that would help others. My Mom was a caregiver for my Dad, but now that he is gone, I know with the right guidance, she could still help others. Wondered. 

Please let me know if you have suggestions or are familiar with programs or facilities that offer more purposeful activities. 

Love More and Expect Less.

I was a sandwich generation caregiver. I was raising two children and caring for two parents with undiagnosed cognitive issues. It was incredibly difficult. I turned to blogging to help keep my siblings in touch with what was going on and found it became my own public therapy. I was pleased to learn how many other adult family caregivers found hope, healing, camaraderie, and a few laughs in my posts. I originally wrote this in 2012 and am resharing one of the many life lessons I learned on my journey. 

It is hard to deal with any loved one when they change. Over the past two years, I’ve gone from passive to confrontational to detached. And repeated this cycle a few times.

When I started to view my parents through the filter of “head injury,” my visits with my parents changed, in a positive way. They have no control over the changes to their cognition and I have to be patient.

Today, their united front reporting that nothing is wrong is unraveling. The number of late bill payments, denial of products purchased with their credit card and lost calendars and checkbooks are increasing.

Meanwhile, my siblings and I collaborate and support each other as we all deal with my parents in different ways and on different timetables.

On one recent post, Kate Swaffer who is dealing with her own dementia sent me a note encouraging me to “Love More and Expect Less.”  I’m still refining my own coping mechanisms and this was timely and sage advice. Appeased. 

Prove it to me.

My brother shares his stories from his visit with my parents.

I visit my parents often to check in and help with what I can. This covers car maintenance, home repairs and health appointments. Recently, my mother is becoming more challenging and belligerent, while my father is less and less “there.” Any time I remind my mother of an event we have reviewed and agreed to, like a home repair, she immediately grows suspicious, and now constantly says, “Prove it to me!”

When I show her the proof, she then either says “I don’t believe you,” or she finds a way to defuse the situation by saying she will check HER records (which means her calendar or checkbook) to see if this is accurate. Usually it ends poorly after 15 to 20 minutes of going round and round.

There are times when my father will yell, “Listen to him!” only to be berated himself and he pipes down as he too is very tired of this ridiculous and vicious circle of illogical sparing and mistrust sprinkled with a mean spirit. Aggravated.

He just can’t help me anymore.

I’d made plans to play tennis with the neighbor of my parents at their home. There are tennis courts within one block. I invited my parents to come watch, but they said they were going to go out and stay at their retirement community apartment for the rest of the weekend.

When I park my car in the driveway , the warning bell in my head sounds. I need to put a note on the car in case my parents don’t do what they said they were doing.  For so long I would be surprised that my parents said one thing and did another.  I can laugh at myself about this now, since they don’t remember what they say, why was it constantly surprising me?

I leave a note on their door that it’s my car so they don’t show up and call a tow truck.

When I come back from tennis, sure enough, my parents are now at their home. My mom follows me out and says, “He just can’t help me anymore.”

Later that day she calls me again and tells me, “He just can’t help me anymore.”

I explain that the doctors confirmed he has no short-term memory, so any of the tasks she’s thinking he can manage, he just may not be able to do anymore.

She’s quiet.

Both times I tell my mom that I can assist when she needs it. Is there something I can help with today? She comments that she’s doing alright but is just angry that he can’t help her anymore.  Interpreted.