That Dreaded “D” Word – DIET

When I use to hear that word, I just shuddered.  You mean eat all that stuff that had no flavor, no sugar, no fun?

But, diet is now a way of life for a lot of people.  If you stop to think of it, our ancestors did not eat like we do and they had a much more active life than we do.  So, basically, we are going back to the way it was when life was simpler.

There are so many diets out there that I wouldn’t even think of saying what the right one was.  Some people do the no carb one, some do the vegan one, some do the one where nothing can come out of a box.  You have to research and pick the best one for you and your lifestyle.

I recently went through several of my fast food store’s websites so that I could pick the least harmful thing to eat.  It might really surprise you what sandwiches are actually less calories than that salad you were going to eat.  I made some notes in a little book I keep in my purse and then when I know I am going somewhere I can check it out and make a wiser decision.  I can’t wait until I am in line and then hold the line up while I am trying to read the calories on the order board.

Another thing that just stunned me was portion sizes.  I thought we had been eating somewhat healthy until my nutritionist showed me plastic models of what 1 serving was.  I think everyone would be shocked.  Just google it some time.  I think we were eating at least 2 – 3 times more pasta than what we should have been.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that we have made all the life changes we need and now are down to the correct weights.  That would be a BIG lie.  We are making small changes which include portion control.  I even bought one of those sets off Amazon where it gives you different size and colored containers so you know how much of each type of food you should eat.

But, bottom line, we probably all could stand to lose some weight.  We all have different reasons.  For me it is about the fear of someone having to take care of me at my current size.

Losing weight gets harder the older you are. So, for us, the time is now.

So, if you pass that overweight woman walking or riding a bike while you are driving your car, just remember, at least she is off her tush and trying to do something about it.

 

What diets of lifestyle changes have you made to become healthier?  Share with us your knowledge so we can all become healthier.

 

Just do it – Having the talk with your parents about their wishes during aging

Hopefully, many of you still have your parents living. One of the biggest gifts you can give them is to make sure you will be able to take care of them in the event they can’t take care of themselves. This can be a very hard thing to do.

Most people do not want to face the fact that we all do not live forever. Aging is something we all do but when it is our parents it is especially hard to face. They are supposed to live forever, right? Each family is different so you might be able to skip over a lot of this. Or you may have to add many steps. You just have to tailor this to your situation.

Let me share with you why I feel this is an important one, even though my parents are both gone. I have a friend who is going through a hard time as her parent has consistently refused to let her do anything that might help with this. She has tried over the years and now that her parent is having problems, she is powerless to help without getting the legal system involved. Although she does not want to have to do this, she has to for the safety of her parent.

Her parent will not tell her any financial information – “I have taken care of myself all these years and I do not need you to tell me what to do” but her taxes are not being paid on her home. She has no control over her parent’s medical care and needs it badly as her parent is obviously not taking her medication. Her parent will not let her even take her shopping for groceries.

Naturally, this is causing a lot of stress. What is actually concern on her part is being seen as a control issue by the parent. This could be dementia setting in but watching a love one go downhill with no way to step in and help is devastating when it could be avoided.

My mother was one of the people who wanted to make sure that things were taken care of. She also is the one who use to tell me to “get off your duff and do it”. Keep in mind that even though you try to do this, it may not work. But, you will feel better for having tried.

  1. Figure out why you are avoiding it.
    1. I can think of several reasons. First you may not want to accept that you need to do this. After all, we all want our parents to live forever.
    2. You do not want to hurt your parents. This is valid but it might hurt worse to see your parents in a situation where you cannot step in to help.
    3. Your siblings may think you are sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong.
    4. You don’t know where to start.
  2. Break it into small steps.
    1. Accept that this has to happen. I could tell you horror stories of families that do not do this and then their parent’s wishes were not followed.
    2. Think of the way to approach it. If you have a plan, it will be much easier and helpful than just blurting it out one day.
    3. Do some research for your state as to the legal steps needed. This can be as simple as going onto the internet to see what is required. Of course we all know that just because it is on the internet does not mean it is true. Another place to check is with your friends that may be going through the same process.
    4. Talk to your siblings. This is especially important if they do not live close and it will be your responsibility to physically take care of your parent.   Maybe you are the one they talk to about financial matters. Maybe someone else is more into the medical part of their lives.
    5. Work the subject in to the conversations slowly instead of just sitting them down one day and say “we are going to do this”. That approach usually won’t work and may make them just shut down the whole subject.
    6. Work up to the point of discussing each point. Things I would suggest are end of life decisions, power of attorney for both medical and financial transactions, funeral arrangements, will, etc.
    7. Make sure it is done through an attorney. Even though you may know what your parents want, it if it not written down in a legal manner, you may not be able to make it happen.
  3. Get the materials together.
    1. I covered this in step 2 but basically it is researching your state’s laws, discussing with family members, etc. You could also talk to an estate lawyer, read different books or articles on the subject and many other steps but do not let this be a stopping place or a place to get bogged down.
  4. Just do it.
    1. Get off your duff and do it!

 

While you are at it, think about this for yourself. No matter what your age, you should have these legal matters taken care of. I would like to live forever but I won’t. We have this taken care of and my children are well aware of what I want to happen. There will be no fighting about anything as it is all taken care of. This actually gave me peace of mind as I don’t want them to have to guess at what I wanted.

Emergency Preparedness for Natural Disasters

Emergency Preparedness for Natural Disaster

With recent events, I wanted to stress the importance of planning for a natural disaster.  I am in an area where we are having tornados.    Caregivers have the responsibility to be able to provide emergency care for their loved ones, even in a tornado.

The best way to do this is to figure out what you would do in the type of natural disaster for your area.  This is a broad guideline that you will have to tailor to your area.

1.  Find out about individual assistance that may be available in your community. It is possible that in your area there are agencies that you can register so that they know you have someone who needs special care.  I would talk to the Red Cross to begin with and they can tell you what agencies you might be able to register with.

2.  As you prepare, consider all everything you use for your loved one with a disability on a daily basis. You may need medications, certain medical equipment and supplies, service animal, etc.

3.  Talk to those around you so that they know your plan.  Involve them in the plan if you are planning on using them as backup to help.  Make sure they know how to use any equipment you use with your loved one.

Keep your caregiver manual up to date and make sure you take it with you. This will help anyone that has to provide emergency care know doctors, diagnosis, medications, emergency numbers,etc.

You might have to explain to emergency people why you need to evacuate first in order to protect your loved one.  Some shelters are hesitant to take service animals but legally they have to.

4.  Make a bag up that you can grab if you have to evacuate quickly.  Here is a list of a few thing but not all you may need.  Some of it should be in your caregiver binder already.

List of medications, doctors, emergency numbers, allergies, etc.

Chargers and batteries for any devices you use daily that you can take with you

If you have a service animal, food for it.  Documentation that it is a service animal.

If you have to use a device to communicate with your loved one, you need to be                    able to grab it and go!

Any medical supplies you use regularly like bandages, insulin, needles, catheters,             depends, portable oxygen tank etc.

5.  Try to think of what you would need if you ended up in a shelter to take care of your loved one.  There is no way you can pack everything but you should take what is essential to keep your loved one alive.

Make a list and stick it on the fridge so that you use it so that you don’t forget something in your haste to move to safety.

Of course, if it is necessary, just grab your loved one and go!  The Red Cross and other organizations can usually get supplies but if you can take it with you, you will feel better.

What a respite worker HAS to know!

After you have hired your worker, you have to give her/him all the tools necessary to do a great job.  They need to know as much as possible about the care of your loved one but of course, will not be able to read your mind.

With this in mind I will point you back to the post I made earlier about the binder with all the information in it.  It is great for anyone stepping in, whether respite workers, family, or neighbors.

It is important to keep it up to date.  I realize that you have a lot of your plate but keeping this binder up to date will insure that you can leave at anytime and the person replacing you will have access to the correct information about medications, doctors, appointments, etc.

Updating it might be a thing you can do when you are doing your test run with the respite worker.  That way you can have peace and quiet and be able to really look it over.

I know mom’s medication changed a lot due to her being on blood thinners.  It seemed like every blood test meant a different dosage and the prescription bottle didn’t change so I had to keep on top of it.

Also it is great to include any information about how your loved one acts.  Mom liked country music so I tried to keep it on.  She had favorite tv shows she liked to watch. Favorite food and drinks should be included. Anything quirky about your loved one should be discussed.  Basically anything that would make the transition easier on your loved one and the respite worker.

What other information do you think should be in the binder?  

Always have a back up person in case you can’t be there to be a caregiver

This just sounds like common sense but too many times, one person feels like they are the only one capable or willing to take care of the loved one.

Recently, I was sick for over 3 weeks.  Had my mother still been with us, who would have been able to take care of her?  I would not have been able to be with her as I could have given her my chest congestion,cough and other symptoms.  Symptoms that are bad for you would be possibly fatal for someone with a compromised immune system.

It does not always have to be an illness.  It could be a family emergency that takes you away like another family member ill, having a baby or a death.  Also, sometimes it is job related.   Sometimes you just need to have a break.

If your loved one has family and friends around that could step in or if you would have had to hire someone if you have an emergency, it is important that you have enough information available for the “replacement” to do what you do on a daily basis.

If family and friends are not available, make sure you have a medical team (CNAs, CMAs, bath aides, nurses, etc) up to date with the necessary information.  You can find employees like this through your local health department, senior center, Area on Aging or your health professional.

This can be as simple as having a representative of their agency come out, visit with you and your loved one.

For example, you need to have the medication schedule written out with where and how the medications are bought.  What is a typical daily schedule?  Are there any food allergies?  Does food need to be prepared in a special way?  Where is any non medical equipment (special eating tools, bath aids, etc) that you use? Is there anything that brings out bad behaviors in your loved one?  What calms them?

What to you is automatic may not even occur to someone else.

This is why I think it is critical to have the binder that was discussed in a previous post.  It has the doctors involved with your loved one, medications, other treatments such as physical therapy or any other therapy, etc.  It also has a copy of all legal paperwork such as living will, DNR, etc.

A calender is also necessary for medical appointments that are coming up.

So bottom line, make sure everything in the binder is kept up to date.  It will give you peace of mind in case of emergency.

 

 

Binder with information about loved one!

The organization of life documents is very important.

There are many different items you need to keep handy.  For this reason, I kept a 3 ring binder for mom’s information. This should include any information that any medical personnel might ask for.

You should always have a copy of her latest medications.  If there is ever an ambulance called, that is one of the first things the EMT’s will ask for.  I made up a document that had her doctor’s names and phone numbers (including eye doctor), all her medical conditions, surgeries, allergies, etc on it that I kept updated. If you are ever away from home visiting someone, this will let the medical staff treat the patient much faster which could be life saving.

Update:  It is also a good idea to include phone numbers for other family members in it.  What if you have a medical problem and no one knew who to get in touch with?

By doing this, in a stressful situation, all I had to do was grab the binder and go.  I also kept copies of the power of attorneys and living will in it.

Needed information should be handy.  Do not count on your memory as when medical events happen, your mind is on your loved one and your might forget a vital part of information.

Legal Talk – Living Wills

Make sure you check the laws in your state!

A living will is where you designate what you want to happen in case you are in certain situations that could mean living beyond what you would want to.  For example, you could state that if you were in a permanent vegetative state you would not want to live.  There are many options for this so you will need to make the choices that are right for you.  Thought should be given to the person you are selecting as some people due to religious reasons might not be able to follow through with your choices.  Whomever you choose should be consulted prior to this decision and have a complete understanding of what your wishes would be in any situation.  The person that you designate would not actually physically do anything to end life but would be able to give the document to the medical personnel.

Both medical power of attorney and the living will should be given to your medical team.  We gave a copy to mom’s doctors and the hospital.  When we moved her here, we than gave copies to her new medical team including the local hospital.  If there becomes a nursing home involved, they will want one too.

Living wills are a very serious decision and should be given a great deal of thought.  Do not rush into a decision and do not assume just because you are younger that you do not need one.

Legal/Medical – Do not resuscitate order – DNR

 

Make sure you check with your medical team to make sure this is true in your state!

DNR (do not resuscitate) is another option you need to think of.  This is when you are having a heart attack or other medical emergency and dictates whether you want heart compressions done.  Mom did want to be revived and we went along with her wishes until she was hospitalized when she was in her 80s.  The doctor told us his opinion was that if Mom ‘coded’ it would kill her to have the compressions done.  He stated that her bones would break and if she did live she would be in excruciating pain or have her lungs punctured.  I fought it for quite a while but finally made the tough decision to follow through with his advice.

 

Think it through and do what is right for your family.  This decision is hard either way.

Legal – Wills – We all need them.

Once again – I am not a lawyer.  This is my understanding.  Consult your attorney for clarification in your area.

We all should have these in place but if you are like me, you probably don’t.  Everyone should have a will especially when kids are involved. Then as life changes, we should always keep them updated.

My mother did not have a will.  She just assumed that everything would be divided between the four kids. So, we made an appointment and went to the lawyer.  For a reasonable amount of money she wrote out a basic will.  I thought we had it all covered with a few specific items going to my brothers that had meaning for them and the balance divided between all us kids equally.

The lawyer advised to change the beneficiaries on the life insurances to the estate of MOM.  But, mom didn’t tell me there were multiple life insurance policies.  I changed them on the two I knew about.  Now, we have found others so I may have messed up the funds without meaning to.  Also, her checking account and savings account were not set up right so they might revert to the person on the account with mom.  The lawyer has to talk to the bank and see exactly how they were set up.

It is very important to understand the differences between and, and/or, payable upon death, with rights of survivorship, etc so that you make sure everything is written they way the person wants. What did she actually mean to happen we will never know.

Bottom line, make sure you understand exactly how everything is titled (like vehicles and houses), know about all the life insurance policies and accounts (IRA, CDs, 401K, etc.) and how they are set up.  Have your lawyer go over exactly what will happen when your loved one passes so they understand it.  By doing this, you can make sure that their final wishes are carried out.