Words from a 92 year old

I found this on the internet and had seen it many times but it makes a lot of sense.

The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait.”

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.”

She went on to explain, “Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.”

And with a smile, she said: “Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less

Elderly in large family gatherings

Of course we all want to include our elderly whenever there is a family event.  They are the reason we are here?  But, sometimes large gatherings can be very stressful for elderly or people with disabilities.  Consider the following:

1.  Hearing – What to us may be normal noise can be very loud and confusing.  Mom preferred that we visit her one family at a time.  She said that all the noise and commotion made her nervous.  She loved us coming but handled it much better when there were only two or three of us.

2.  Children – Children like to play with things.  They can be loud and playful.  We accept this as kids being kids.  When the grandkids were jumping around near mom, she was afraid they would either fall on her or knock something into her.  Because she was fragile (without really looking it), this could have caused a major problem.  She was on a blood thinner and any cut or hard bump could have been serious.  She also was nervous when small kids came to her house because of her medication.  In order for it to be handy for her, we left it on the table as a reminder to take it but when grandkids came around, she was afraid they would get into it.

3.  Medication – Anyone who takes medication has to have it on a fairly regular schedule.  Make sure if you are having someone to your home to make sure they have their medication with them and that they remember to take it.  It is easy for them to forget with all the excitement.

4.  Bathrooms – Some elderly have problems with either incontinence or bowel problems.  Make sure that they are close to a bathroom and have supplies in case they are needed such as pullups.  We never traveled without some.  Of course you have to be discreet but that is easily done as long as you think it out ahead of time.

6.  Diet – Keep in mind that texture and taste has to be taken into consideration.  Chewing and swallowing is affected with alot of medical conditions.  Make sure plenty of fluids are available.  Spices should be kept to a minimum on some dishes so they can eat without having problems later.

7.  Transportation – Make sure that someone is going to pick them up and take them home.

8.  Length of stay – It is easy for elderly to tire out.  They may have a rest schedule at home.  Try to limit the time they are away from home or provide an area where they can lie down for awhile.

Although you have to take all these things into consideration, it is also important for our family members not to be forgotten.  If they don’t want to attend for whatever reason, maybe take a plate of food to them or drop in later just to say hi.  Loneliness can be very depressing and many seniors suffer from it.

Pneumonia Shot – Do you need it?

Pneumonia Shot

Pneumonia is a potential killer to anyone that contacts it.  It is harder on the elderly or youth so shots are advised.  This is not an annual shot though so make sure your doctor knows your immunization record before getting one.

Once again this is copied from the CDC webpage:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/pneumo/default.htm#concerns

Which children and adults need the PPSV23 vaccine?

  • All adults 65 years of age and older.
  • Anyone 2 through 64 years of age who has a long-term health problem such as: heart disease, lung disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, alcoholism, cirrhosis, leaks of cerebrospinal fluid or cochlear implant.
  • Anyone 2 through 64 years of age who has a disease or condition that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as: Hodgkin’s disease; lymphoma or leukemia; kidney failure; multiple myeloma; nephrotic syndrome; HIV infection or AIDS; damaged spleen, or no spleen; organ transplant.
  • Anyone 2 through 64 years of age who is taking a drug or treatment that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as: long-term steroids, certain cancer drugs, radiation therapy.
  • Any adult 19 through 64 years of age who is a smoker or has asthma.
  • Residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

Shots are definitely a personal choice but I opted for this one for Mom.  I am not advising anyone to get one but to talk to your medical doctor for advise.

Are there any shots you wouldn’t advise for your elderly family members?

 

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FLU Shots – Important for both the elderly AND their caregivers.

FLU Shots – A Necessary Evil for Elderly AND Their Caregivers.

I am not a fan of shots, never have been, never will be….BUT shots can prevent a lot of serious problems.  As I am sure you all know, it is flu shot time again.  But there are really three shots you should consider:  Flu, Pneumonia and Shingles. I will cover these in three separate posts.

Remember though it is critical to talk to your medical staff before getting any shot as your situation is unique and they would know best.

THE FLU:

It is impossible to determine what the flu will be like from year to year.  The only thing we do know is that flu kills people every year.  Getting a shot gives you the best protection.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) webpage is full of great information.  Here is a link to what I found helpful about the flu:

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2013-2014.htm

The information below is copied from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) webpage.  I think it does an excellent job of explaining the different types of flu and vaccines available.  Make sure you read it carefully and then decided which one is right for you and your loved ones.

Flu Symptoms & Severity

Influenza Symptoms

Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Flu Complications

Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.

Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

People at Higher Risk from Flu

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

Flu Severity

Flu is unpredictable and how severe it is can vary widely from one season to the next depending on many things, including:

  • what flu viruses are spreading,
  • how much flu vaccine is available,
  • when vaccine is available,
  • how many people get vaccinated, and
  • how well the flu vaccine is matched to flu viruses that are causing illness.

Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older.

Types of Vaccines

What kind of vaccines will be available in the United States for 2013-2014?

There are several flu vaccine options for the 2013-2014 flu season.

Traditional flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called “trivalent” vaccines) are available. In addition, this season flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines) also are available.

The trivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and an influenza B virus. The following trivalent flu vaccines are available:

The quadrivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. The following quadrivalent flu vaccines are available:

(*”Healthy” indicates persons who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.)

CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over the other. The important thing is to get a flu vaccine every year.

Getting shots are a personal decision but speak to your physician to see if one would be helpful to you.

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.

Great site to check for benefits – FREE – really free

You see it all the time.  Someone tells you they can help you get the benefits you deserve.  You go there, fill in some forms and then they say for $*** we will get you your information.  Well, this site is free and run by the government.  I tried it about four weeks ago and have not had a call or a spam email about it.  I did check into some of the places they told me to check and they are legitimate.

The site is www.benefitscheckup.org.  It asks you questions to personalize your report.  It also asks your zip code so that it makes sure the benefits are available in your area.  It took me less than 10 minutes to answer all the questions and did not ask for any identifying information (Social Security number, name, address, etc)

When I was done, it gave me a report that I could either print out or save.  I saved mine onto my computer so I could look at it several times as I do not have a printer.  Also, with the computer file, I can click on the sites to fill in information if I feel I would qualify.

In my case, some of the suggestions were things I personally don’t want but it was interesting to find out what all is available.

This would be good for anyone that might need help regardless of age.  I realize a lot of seniors are suspicious of putting personal information on a computer (and they should be if it asks for social security numbers) but since this doesn’t, I felt confident doing it.

 

Having the talk – What to do when your parents should no longer stay home alone.

nursign hoFor the sake of these posts, I am going to post as if the person(s) we are talking about are your parents.  Naturally they don’t have to be.  It could be a family friend, other relative, etc.  More specifically, I will be referring to ‘she’ as this is mostly coming through my experience with my mother.

Additionally, I am not a lawyer or doctor so make sure you double check all I talk about here with your legal or medical team.  The laws in my state may be different than in your state.  This is all meant to be a guideline, not a rule.

Talk……sounds simple right.  But, how do you talk to your parents about what is going on in their private lives without sounding like you are interfering?

My mother was always a private person.  We could discuss kids, work, home life, etc. but we really did not talk about what she wanted for the future.  When she started to get older, it became necessary to discuss some very sensitive subjects.  For me, the easiest way was just to ask.  Depending on your family situation, this could be done at a family meeting or just one-on-one.  I would definitely let them know if you are going to discuss this with all family members as your parent might want to be ready.

What did she want done when her health got so she couldn’t stay at home?  Of course, she said this would never happen.  I told her that I would like it if I could move her in with me as long as our health allowed it.  She didn’t say yes or no, just ignored it.  She did say she didn’t ever want to go to an ‘old folk’s home’.  In her mind that was a place that people went to die.  The very word made her think of the sights and smells that use to be in some facilities.  I told her that nursing homes and/or assisted living facilities were much improved from what they were.  She still insisted that she did not ever want to go to one.  I promised her that if it was in my power, she never would go to one.

Where she wanted to be buried at?  This was easy as my father was buried in a double plot that already had a headstone on but I live in a different state so I wanted to make sure she wanted to be brought “home”.  It just made sense that she did but she flatly refused to make any funeral arrangements or discuss it at all.  This is understandable as it means thinking about dying.  I think the older you get, the harder that is.

Who did she want making decision for her if she could not make them herself?  Since Mom had gone through a very serious illness previously, I suspected she would want me to do this as I knew her medical conditions but I did not want to assume something so important.  Also, due to a health condition I had, I wanted to make sure who would be second in line.

Would she want to be kept alive if there was no hope?  This one was very difficult.  No one wants to think of this possibility.  This took a lot of thought as to what no hope meant.  To some it might mean if they were hooked up to a breathing machine, dialysis, feeding tube, etc.  After much talking, we decided that if there no way she could live without all that machinery and no hope that she would ever be off it, that she would rather not be here.  She had seen her own mother being kept alive during a fight with cancer when there was no hope and she didn’t want the family to go through that.

Who should make her financial decisions?  Due to her earlier illness, I was already on her checking account and safety deposit box but I wanted this to be clear.  I was not on her savings account, my oldest brother was.

Where all her financial papers are?  Does she have multiple checking and savings accounts?  Where are they?  Does she have life insurance?  Where is her health insurance through?  Does she have both Medicare and secondary insurance or Medicaid?  Does she have CDs, IRAs, etc?  Are there any other assets that you need to know about?  Where is the deed to the house, title to car, etc?  What all automatic deposits or withdrawals come out of her account.

Of course, just talking about all this did not make it legal.  We would have to go see a lawyer and get both financial and medical powers of attorneys,  a living will and a regular will.  More about that later.

The most important this is to start talking about this BEFORE it is too late.

Starting with the facts.

People age.  That is a fact.  How you take care of yourself and others during that time can make a world of difference.  You can hide your head in the sand and think other’s will do all the work or you can do everything you can to make this a good transition.

My mother was under the assumption that Medicare would pay for her nursing home expenses so she did not worry about it.  That was not correct.  Medicare does not pay for nursing home expenses unless you are there for rehabilitation following a hospital stay. Then, they will pay for the first 21 days at full cost and from there it goes to a co-pay.  IF at any time during that first 100 days that Medicare is paying a portion of it and the nursing home decides that you are not progressing, you go to 100% payment on your own.

There are many ways you can avoid a nursing home as much as possible.  During the coming months, we will look into many of these ways.