12.02.10

When Grandma has to Spend Christmas Alone…

Posted in Assisted Living, Assisted Living Facilities, Depression, Elder Care, Elderly Care, Nursing home, Senior Citizen at 1:02 pm by admin

The Holidays are supposed to be the most joyful days of the year. Everywhere you look, people are singing songs, buying gifts, and celebrating life and relationships. But there is an ugly truth about the holidays: they are also the most depressing time of the year for millions of Americans. This is no more true then in nursing homes and assisted living housing communities. All too often, the seniors who live in these homes get left and forgotten over the holidays while the rest of their family is gathering together and celebrating. This usually happens when family lives in another region, of course, but it can even happen when people live close together.

At any rate, if you cannot be with your aging loved one this Christmas, and they are left to spend the holidays alone in their senior housing facility, there are still ways to bring a little bit of Christmas cheer to them. Here are a few ideas to make that happen:

1.) Let them “virtually” join you
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We have talked a lot about the terrific technological gadgets that allow video conferencing, but we need to mention it here again. Take it from someone who regularly has the grandkids connect with “grammy and pappa.” Being able to see and talk with the grandkids is special for seniors. Very special. So imagine how much better it would be if you could video chat while the kids are opening their presents, or going through some Christmas traditions. Then grandma or grandpa could “experience” it with them. Is it quite the same? Of course not. But it is a huge step in the right direction, and they will be very grateful for the chance.

(If you don’t know how to set up video conferencing, there are many options now. For seniors in an elderly care facility is a modern smart phone like the iPhone 4, which has video conferencing capabilities available. We wrote about that already. But if they have a computer with high speed internet access, you can get them connected with a camera and Skype account. Trust me, it will be worth it!)

2) Get the Kids to Make them Gifts
Nothing says love like a hand-made gift, especially when it comes from the grandkids or great-grandkids. And it does not have to be elaborate at all. We’re talking something simple: a home made card saying “we love you grandma.” A craft that they made at school. Something that they touched themselves, something they put thought into.

3) Send a Christmas Care Package
There will always be things a person does not like about their environment. Maybe the towels in the fitness center are scratchy. Maybe the toilet paper is rough, or the silverware is ugly. A giftbox can be a great way to address several of these small irritants at once. Of course, they can live with any and all of these things. It’s not a big deal. But the fact that you knew they bothered her, and cared enough to track down several different little things to cheer her heart can go miles to making her know that she is not forgotten.

4) Send a Christmas Telegram
What? A telegram? It’s the twenty-first century! Of course it is, but your loved one remembers when they were a normal part of life. Telegrams that are sent directly to your loved one’s room, hand-delivered at just the right time communicate one thing and one thing loudly: “We remember you!” You can easily find a telegram service on the internet that will deliver to the assisted living facility, just make sure you arrange it ahead of time, as the Christmas rush could be difficult.

5) Call them. Multiple times.
Give them a ring on Christmas eve just to say “we love you, and we wish you were here.” Let the kids say hi. And then in the morning, after the kids have opened their gifts, call again. Let the kids say “Thanks for the presents. Describe how the festivities went. Let them feel a part of the holidays. The sound of your voices is far more comforting than you probably realize.

So there it is. You can let your aging loved ones feel joyful during the holidays, even if their surroundings are something less than joyous and comfortable. All it takes is a little imagination, planning, and intentionality. With those, even the loneliest TX Assisted Living facility and nursing home can glisten with holiday cheer.

10.18.10

Church in the Nursing Home

Posted in Assisted Living, Assisted Living Facilities, Depression, Elderly Care, Nursing home at 1:51 pm by admin

Living in a Nursing Home can be a difficult, lonely way to live. We all know this. It can be extremely depressing for many seniors who just a few short years earlier lived vibrant, healthy lives to be stuck inside the four walls of a drab, dreary environment without being able to get out and do the things they used to care about.

One of those lost priorities, for thousand of seniors, is church. For seniors who are deeply religious, it can be depressing to be forced to stay home on a Sunday morning. They want to be able to connect with other people. They miss their worship services. And they want to be able to connect with God the way they used to.

For years now, many churches have tried to help alleviate this problem. It does not always have a great affect, but it can.
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Currently, my church “adopts” two elderly care facilities–one nursing home and one assisted living facility–every three months or so. We rotate with other churches in our town. When it is our turn, we send a team of parishoners to the senior home to hold a special service just for those patients who would like to be able to come on Sunday morning.

Because of the obvious scheduling conflict, we go in the afternoon. We generally take somebody who can lead us in a few songs of worship, and somebody to give a short sermon. Often, it is the head pastor, but sometimes it is somebody else: an elder, or someone who feels like they have a special message for them. The service is never long. Maybe a half hour at the most. And after it is done, we spend time talking with the patients. This is the most rewarding part of the afternoon by far.

I remember leading a service when I was in my early 20′s. I was not an ordained minister. Just a kid who loved to worship. I was filling in for my father in law who was an ordained minister. He loved these precious people, and they loved him. For him, these services were not in any way a burden. He recognized what I did not at the time: that these were devout souls, many of whom were still as sharp as a tack, and who wanted to worship just as much as I did. So even though I felt like my afternoon was lost in the beginning, I came to see how valuable it was to them. And it became valuable to me.

Today, my daughters–ages seven and eight–love those sunday afternoon services. That is partly because they love to worship, but it is also because they see just how much the seniors in these homes appreciate their special attention. They have learned to treasure and value their stories. They learned their names, and prayed for them. And they spent time with them.

Churches who get involved in nursing home services often feel like they are pulling teeth to get people to come. As a result, the patients who sit in those afternoon services fee like second class parishoners. But with a little attitude change, the people in these churches can become a powerful witness of God’s love to people who are often sad and feeling forgotten. It happens everywhere. To seniors in the middle of nowhere to those in the middle of lots of activity, like in an Orlando FL assisted living facility. They want to be a part of society. They want to be a part of a family. If a church can think of them as family and not a burden, they can be an incredible blessing.

09.23.10

Taking Elderly Sleep Disorders Seriously

Posted in Caregiver, dementia, Depression, Elder Care at 1:13 pm by admin

According to recent studies, seven out of ten elderly citizens have problems sleeping. Whether it is just natural stress or something else, some elderly sleep disorder, will vary on the person, of course. But whatever the cause, one thing is for sure: Sleep deprivation should not be ignored. Many seniors are apt to shrug and insist “it’s no big deal. I don’t need that much sleep anyway.” But this is simply not true.
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Sleep is one of the most essential elements to our lives no matter what our age. For seniors, sleep is a key ingredient to good health. When a senior lacks rest, he or she cannot concentrate well and will be physically worn down. In other words, sleep fuels mental and physical wellness. Take away the fuel, and you will see the negative results. Elderly citizens are already struggling with muscular decay and a dulling of mental faculties often leading memory problems like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. If you add a sleep disorders to the mix, the decline could happen even more rapidly.
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There are two separate issues at hand: having trouble falling asleep and having trouble staying asleep. The first problem is, perhaps, more easily solved than the second. Seniors often have trouble falling asleep for the same reasons the rest of us do: caffeine, ill-timed napping, and overstimulation. For many, the solution is simply a matter of a change in lifestyle. If your elderly loved one is a coffee drinker, encourage them to cut down, starting in the afternoon. It might not be enough to just eliminate coffee after 5 pm. Caffeine can stay in your system and keep you jittery for hours. For others, the problem might lie in their afternoon nap routines. Naps, for many seniors, are a treasured luxury that has finally come after years of working nine to five. But if that afternoon snooze is causing an evening of restlessness, it might be counter productive. They might end up playing catch up every day, and never feel really rested.

In addition to lifestyle adjustments, natural sleep aides can be a real help. Exercise might be the best aid of all, since it encourages a natural tiredness relaxing of muscles, which can quickly lead to sleep. But a melatonin pill can be just as effective. Melatonin might not help for a person who is up and around at midnight and not tired, but it will help those who are already relaxed, in bed, and tired, but can’t sleep, for whatever reason.

The insomnia problem (the problem of not being able to stay asleep through the night) is generally more complicated. All sorts of things can wake a person up. For seniors, bladder issues often come into play, and of course, this cannot be remedied by an adjustment of a nap or cup of coffee here or there. For seniors who suffer insomnia, there is a simple step they need to take: go and see the doctor. Yes, I know, many seniors hate going to the doctor, and they consider it completely unnecessary for something as simple as sleep deprivation, but they are wrong. Sleep deprivation is already affecting their moods, their energy level, and their general quality of life.
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In short, if you are an elder caregiver of are just worried about your senior, be sure to take elderly sleep disorders seriously. They might not think it is important, but now you know better.

05.29.08

Moving Matters

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Assisted Living, Assisted Living Facilities, Assisted Living Referral Service, Assisted Living Safety, care at home, Caregiver, dementia, Depression, Dimentia, Elder Care, Elderly Care, forgetting to take medication, Home Health Care, Nursing home, Nursing home alternative, Senior Citizen, Taking Care of a Loved One, Texas Elderly Care Services at 6:05 pm by admin



Do your mother and/or father need to be moved from home to an assisted living? Do they need to be moved from an assisted living to a nursing home? Or are they at a facility that you are not happy with? Moving your parents can be the best thing that you can do for them, but it can also be the worst thing.

Moving is a dramatic change for an elderly person, especially one with Alzheimer’s disease. A move from home to a nursing home may be the best option but look into getting care at home. Moving can confuse and depress an elderly person. If your mother or father is able to, let him or her be a part of the decision.


Elderly Man Looking Out of Window

When an elderly person is familiar with a facility or the staff at one assisted living or nursing home it’s usually best to keep him there. An elderly person is more likely to willingly receive care and feel comfortable with care attendants and nurses that he or she knows as opposed to a stranger. Also when elderly people are familiar with a facility, such as knowing where the dining room, medicine, activities, and their apartment is, they are usually emotionally stable longer than if they are moved from facility to facility and getting disoriented and confused.

However, when you see your loved one needing more care than what the facility gives, you need to act quickly. There are nurses that come to where your parent is and give care to him. Some facilities have care packages that start at minimal care (such as reminders to come to meals and take medicine) and maximum care packages (such as bathing, transferring from bed to wheelchair and feeding). If the facility that your loved one is does not offer more care and getting a nurse to come and care for him or her is not an option you should not leave him or her there, moving would be a must in that situation.


If your parents are at a facility and you are not happy with the care that they are receiving, talk to the management about your complaints. They may not be aware that your parent is being neglected. Also talk with the care staff and let them know that you care about your parents and want the best care for them. Politely tell the care staff your complaints (i.e. moms hair needs to be brushed, I noticed dad lost his dentures). Visit your parents often. Keep the care staff accountable by making visits at different times of the day or maybe spend a night there if possible. If the quality of care still does not improve make a complaint to DADS (Department of Aging and Disabilities Services) and move your parents to a more quality facility.

Most importantly make sure your parent is taken good care of and is happy.

02.28.08

Sunshine for the Elderly

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, arthritis, Assisted Living, Caregiver, dementia, Depression, Elder Care, Elderly Care, Home Health Care, Nursing home, Senior Citizen, Taking Care of a Loved One, Texas Elderly Care Services at 10:45 am by admin


This morning the sunrise looked like sunshine was gently stroked with a paintbrush onto the pale blue and pink sky. There’s something therapeutic about sunshine. I believe that it helps calm and uplift a person to a degree. When a baby is born the doctor tells the mother to sun bathe the baby by bringing the infant in direct sunlight for a few minutes to half an hour. Everyone, not just babies, could use some sunlight. The elderly however aren’t able to get out much and maybe don’t have a good view out the window. Not getting sunlight may be a factor of depression. Statistics have shown that there are more suicides in places that don’t get much sunlight such as Alaska’s winters. So if your loved one is battling depressing from alzheimer’s or has been cooped up for too long take them out for a walk and a picnic. Your loved one will enjoy your company as well as the fresh air and sunshine.

02.23.08

Working Together

Posted in Assisted Living, Assisted Living Facilities, Assisted Living Safety, Caregiver, Depression, Elder Care, Elderly Care, Home Health Care, medication, Nursing home, Nursing home alternative, Taking Care of a Loved One, Texas Elderly Care Services, Uncategorized at 4:05 pm by admin


Staff members, even when there is a good ratio of staff and residents, can get overwhelmed with their jobs. If you are a care worker communicate with your coworkers and employer any concerns you might have with your job. Also encourage other care workers that work along side of you. It’s not a one man show. Communication doesn’t just mean complaints or demands. Comunicate with your coworkers when there is a shift change. When you come in to work ask if there are any new duties (i.e. Mr. Williams doctor prescribed him some new medication that he needs to be reminded of before he goes to bed, or Ms. Johnson had a fall and needs her dinner brought to her room). When leaving your shift make sure you don’t leave a job half done and make the next shift aware of any changes. Always look into someone’s eyes when he/she is speaking and repeat back what has been communicated so that it is understood. If we would communicate, work together and everyone do their part there would be a lower turn over in care staff.

 If a fellow care worker calls in sick do not become angry and wonder if he/she is faking but at the same time voice to your employer that you can’t always “pick up the slack”. There should be a call-in care worker for such cases. There is no reason that you should have to continue to work double shifts. There may be emergency cases that you will have to work a double shift. On the other hand if you are sick you should give as much notice as possible to your employer. Do not come to work as a care attendant/CNA sick. You cannot be caring for the elderly that have low immune systems when you are contageous.

Be honest and encouraging to your co-workers.

“his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” 

 -I Corinthians 3:13


10.17.07

Depression Among Elder Care Workers

Posted in Depression at 11:25 am by admin


Care workers who work at assisted living facilities and elder care and memory care facilities have the highest rate of depression in comparison to all other jobs in a recent study. Among a care workers duties is to change diapers, serve the elderly food, get them in and out of bed, give them showers, and perform hazardous medical duties with limited support and information. Women were considered more likely to have a major bout of depression then men, and younger workers were more likely to have a higher rate of depression then their older coworkers.

Elder Care Worker

Just about 11 percent of personal care workers had reported depression lasting two weeks or longer.


During these depression episodes there is loss of pleasure and interest in general. Quite often there is also problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration and self-image.

This is a reliable government survey that tracked elder care workers from 2004 – 2006. The agency that performed the study was the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which registers lifetime and past-year depression bouts.

Depression leads to $30 billion to $44 billion in lost productivity annually and should be a major consideration when deciding how to treat and compensate elder care workers. The study was recently released at http://oas.samhsa.gov.