Bath Safety Product Guide

Many injuries for seniors occur in the bathroom, which is not surprising, given the mix of water with slippery surfaces. We have put together a list of helpful tips and products that will make the bathroom safer and help prevent falls and injuries before they happen.

The items below can all be used in your current bathroom and do not require any bathroom remodeling. These innovative product choices will allow you to design the bathroom that best fits your safety needs.



Raised Toilet Seats

Raised toilet seats help with allowing you to stand up and sit down more easily and comfortably. This is especially important if you have difficulty with mobility, such as arthritis in your knees or other leg impairments. These Elevated Toilet Seats install on your existing toilet bowl and add anywhere from 2” to 6” in height, making sitting and standing much easier. Since the standard height of a toilet is usually only about 15” high (with some ADA models now available at 17”), this extra height can be very helpful.

Choosing the Size

There are a couple of considerations before purchasing a raised toilet seat. You will first want to make sure of which size toilet you have. This is the #1 consideration, because if the toilet seat doesn’t fit, you can’t use it! Standard toilets in the United States are typically found in 2 sizes, Standard (Round) or Elongated (Oval). To determine your toilet size, measure from the center of the seat bolt holes in the back of the toilet to the outside front of the bowl. The measurement of a Standard size toilet is generally around 16-1/2” Long. An Elongated (oval) Toilet is approximately 18-1/2” Long.

Choosing the Height

Raised Toilet Seats are available in several height options from 2” to 6”. The height of the toilet seat riser will depend up on the height of the individual. An average height person should be good with a riser between 3”-4” on average. For a taller person, a 6” height might be more appropriate and for a shorter person a 2” height might be all that is needed. We are not aware of any toilet seats great than 6” in height mainly due to safety reasons; however, if you find that you do need 8”-9” of additional toilet seat height, you can combine a raised toilet seat with a toilet base riser to obtain the needed height.

Choosing Installation Features

Most raised toilet seats are constructed of a durable plastic material and are offered in a variety of different options for installation. Do you need to remove the raised toilet seat more quickly and easily on a regular basis in a shared bathroom or will the seat be used for travel? If either of these is true, you will most likely benefit from a raised toilet seat that does not require any tools for installation. There are several types that simply slide into the rim of the toilet seat bowl and do not provide any locking options. This is fine for those that are slightly more mobile and stable. There are also several models available that install in the same manner, but also include a frontal turn knob to lock the seat in place on the rim to help prevent movement of the toilet riser.

If you will not need to remove the toilet seat on a daily or regular basis, then it is recommended to purchase a raised toilet seat that installs with tools and bolts in the back of the toilet. These types of raised toilet seats will be the most secure and are recommended for those that require additional stability. They will almost always include the extra long bolts that install on your toilet in the exact same way as a regular toilet seat and lid. Most standard U.S. toilets include bolt holes that are 5-1/2” apart and most bolt down model raised toilet seats do adjust for a proper fit.

One of the biggest concerns with raised toilet seats that provide a more permanent bolted installation is “How easy are they to clean?” and “What if my husband will be using the same toilet?” There is actually a great solution that solves both of these issues! The 3” Hinged Elevated Toilet Seat would be your best choice! This unique design includes bolt-down installation providing a sturdy seating surface, almost 4” in height when installed with your existing toilet seat and lid, and it is “Hinged” so that it can raise up and lower, just like a regular toilet seat. This is great for households with men, so they do not soil the seat and makes cleaning the toilet much easier.

Considering Toilet Arms or Handles

You can elect to have a toilet seat with arms included (typically most are removable) or you can purchase a separate Toilet Safety Frame to provide a handle grip to help with sitting and standing. The Toilet Safety Frame or other toilet handles can be used alone or along with most model raised toilet seats. Whether or not handles are needed is a matter of individual safety concern. If you would benefit from being able to hold onto the handles when raising yourself or lowering yourself onto the toilet, then this should be a feature to look for in a raised toilet seat or you can add the Toilet Safety Frame to your bathroom safety checklist.



Grab Bars

Grab bars are considered the staple of the bathroom when providing for bathroom safety. It would typically be a good idea to have a horizontal grab bar in the bathtub or shower in a position suited for the user and a second grab bar vertically installed next to the bathtub or shower exit for gripping assistance while stepping over the bathtub wall. Grab bars can also be installed next to the toilet or anywhere a secure hand grip is needed.

Types of Grab Bars

The standard wall mounted grab bar will install permanently onto the wall surface. They are generally constructed of a stainless steel to help prevent rusting and include a non-slip gripping surface for the user. There are also composite plastic grab bars that will never rust. A newer item that was recently introduced in the last few years is the Suction Tub Grab Bar, which installs with suction cups and does not require any tools for permanent installation. These suction grab bars may be good for travel or someone who requires very mild balance assist. However, if more than a mild balance assist is needed, I would recommend installing permanent grab bars for more reliable safety.

Choosing a Grab Bar

Grab bars are available in many different lengths, sizes, and colors. The standard grab bar lengths are 12”, 16”, 24” or 36”. There are variations to this, but these are the most typical sizes found in the market. The ADA (American with Disabilities Act) does provide for federal guidelines for grab bars being installed in public areas or new property construction; however, if you own your home, you can purchase whichever grab bar fits your needs and décor the best.

Standard ADA approved wall-mounted grab bars will include a diameter of between 1-1/4″ to 1-1/2″ and will provide 1-1/2” of spacing from the wall. There are many other specialty grab bars that individuals find useful, but they may not adhere to these exact guidelines.

Over the years, many manufacturers have come out with new colors and designs to better match your bathroom décor. There are stainless steel, brushed nickel, bronze, and many more. Some of the nicer models may even have special gripping surfaces to make using the bar safer and easier. One such model can be viewed here.

Installing a Grab Bar

Grab bars can be placed anywhere assistance is needed. There is no specific set guideline regarding the location of the bar. I would recommend that you have the person who will be using the grab bars enter and exit the tub and see where they grab onto the wall to assist themselves. This may be a good indication that a grab bar would be helpful in that area. The bars can be installed horizontally or vertically, depending on which ever will suite your needs the best.

Grab bars can be installed on almost any bathroom wall surface, provided there is a stud to secure the bar or a wall mounting anchor is used. There are special made drills that will allow you to drill through the tile without cracking it to install the grab bars. If you are worried about permanent installation, simply choose a nice design to match your bathroom décor and everyone can appreciate having a nice-looking bar to hold on to or to put your washcloth or towel.

If you are unsure of how to install your newly acquired wall mounted grab bars, it may be best to contact your plumber or local handyman to provide the installation, as drilling and tools will be required. If you are handy around the house, there are several online articles and you tube videos that explain how to install the grab bars yourself. It is very important that the grab bars are installed securely to a wall stud or installed with a wall mount kit to prevent the grab bar from coming loose and causing a fall. Many grab bars have user weight capacity limits; however, no grab bar should be considered secure unless it is installed into a wall stud or used with a mounting kit.

To view the listing of grab bars, please visit us here.



Tub Rails

Tub rails are a great device to assist with getting in and out of the bathtub or for help with getting up from a bath chair. A tub rail can be installed on any area of the bathtub wall where assistance will be needed and that will not interfere with the individual getting into and out of the tub. A tub rail is a great option for individuals who would benefit from a secure hand grip to help pull themselves up from a seated position or who need assistance when entering or exiting the bathtub.

Tub Rails VS. Grab Bars

The difference between a standard grab bar and tub rail is that the grab bar installs permanently on the walls of the bathroom, whereas the tub rail installs directly onto the side of the tub and can be installed and removed without any damage to the tub. Grab bars are typically installed vertically or horizontally on the wall and can provide a higher gripping surface if needed. Tub rails will typically have a lower gripping surface, which may work well for those using bath chairs. When a tub rail is used together with a wall grab bar, the user can then have a hand grip on both sides while entering or exiting the tub.

Choosing a Tub Rail

Tub rails are available in many different designs and sizes to fit individual needs. The first thing to consider is the construction of your bathtub. Most tub rails are designed for ceramic or other hard surface bathtubs and will not work with fiberglass tubs as the wall is not strong enough to safely support the rail installation and user weight. There is a newer model tub rail that will work with fiberglass tubs. You can find the details about this item here. It is also important to note that tub rails should not be used with Claw Foot Tubs or with tubs that include sliding doors, as the metal rods will prevent proper installation. For users with these types of bathtubs, you can consider using wall mounted grab bars or Floor Support Rails that install on the floor of the bathroom.

You will also need to check the thickness of your bathtub wall before buying a tub rail. Most tub rails will fit standard size tub walls, typically adjustable from approximately 3”-7”. Almost all tub rails install without tools (hand tightening) and include pads so that they will not mar or scratch the tub surface during installation and tightening.

Considerations for a Tub Rail

There are many tub rail designs to choose from, which will depend mainly on the individual needs of the user. Most rails run horizontally with the tub wall; however, vertical installation tub rails are also available. Some users prefer the tub rail to run perpendicular to the tub wall as they don’t want the tub rail interfering with getting in and out of the tub. The most important thing to remember when choosing a tub rail is the location of the rail. It should be installed in a place that will aid the user with getting in and out of the tub, but not cause any obstacles or interference.

Many users who are using a bath chair find a tub rail installed on the bathtub wall and a wall mounted grab bar on the other side useful for helping to pull themselves up to a standing position. Although some bath chairs may include arms, these are typically meant for balance assist and can assist users with pushing themselves upward to a standing position. However, it is sometimes easier for users to have an option to pull themselves up.

Tub rails are available in various lengths, heights, adjustable height, and there are those with multi level gripping surfaces to provide for a hand grip at different levels. You can check out the full selection of tub rail options here .



Slip Safety

It’s very important to make sure that the bathroom tub or shower area includes a good non-slip surface to prevent slipping when wet. This could be through the use of a bath mat or installing self-stick tread strips to ensure there is always a good foot grip to prevent falls.

Bath Mats

Bath mats are available in many sizes, colors, and forms. The most standard form of bathtub or shower mat includes suction cups along the bottom that adhere to the tub surface. Shower mats with rubber suction on the bottom seem to stay in place a little better with ceramic tubs than fiberglass surfaces. Bath mats should be installed on clean and dry surfaces, free of any residue.

Self Adhesive Treads

If you find that your bath mat tends to slip when the tub floor gets wet, you might want to try using the alternative self-stick adhesive backed bathtub treads as an alternative. When installing the self-stick treads, you want to make sure that the tub surface is completely clean and rinsed thoroughly from any cleaner residue. The surface should also be completely dry before installing the tread strips. These treads are available in strips, fish & shells, stars, and many other decorative designs. You want to make sure that enough of the tread strips are installed to prevent any areas that may cause a fall.



Bath Chairs

Bath chairs are great for individuals who cannot stand for long periods of time or who are unsteady on their feet. The chair is placed inside the bathtub or shower and you can sit safely and comfortably while taking your shower.

Bath Chairs & Handheld Shower Sprays

Bath chairs go hand and hand with Handheld Shower Sprayers. You can replace your existing shower head with a long hose handheld shower spray so you can keep the shower spray next to you or clipped on your bath chair for easy access. If the bathroom is being used by others that do not require the bath chair, the shower spray will simply mount back on top of the shower bracket for a standard shower.

Considerations for your Bath Chair

The most important thing you should do before selecting your bath chair is to measure the inside of your bathtub or shower. The majority of returns on bath chairs are a result of the chair not fitting inside of the bathtub. You want to make sure that the bath chair will fit securely in the tub on a flat surface, and don’t forget to account for the curvature of the tub wall! In most cases the seat width is not an indication of the width at the base of the legs. If the leg span (width x depth of the legs) is too large, the chair will be unstable and unsafe. This is especially important in older construction or in bathtubs that are smaller than the standard bathtub width.

Choosing a Bath Chair

There are many different varieties of bath chairs. Many people prefer the all composite plastic bath chairs as they are easy to clean and will never rust; however, bath chairs that are made of aluminum and plastic will also have little issues with rust. The seat size is also important. You want a bath chair that will provide enough room for the user, but not too big and bulky so that it gets in the way. Most standard bath chair seat dimensions are approximately 16”-20” wide x 14” deep, but can vary depending on the models. Weight capacity is another important factor. There are bath chairs that include a 250 lb. weight capacity and those that support up to 500 lbs.

Bath chairs are available with either a backrest or without a backrest, depending on your needs. Backrests can make your bathing experience more comfortable; however, some people prefer the open back to have better access to cleaning their back area and to have more freedom to lean backwards. The open back would not be recommended for those who have greater mobility issues and require the backrest for greater support and safety.

Bath chair handles are another option that is based on user needs. The handles of most bath chairs provide some leverage for helping to sit, stand and maneuver on the bath chair if needed. Handles are generally removable so you can remove them at any time. The handles of the bath chairs are really meant to be used as a balance assist for help with sitting and standing. If you have grab bars or a tub rail installed, it may be easier for some individuals to pull their full weight up from a seated position rather than try to push up their weight. Of course, the bath chair handles, grab bars, and tub rail can all be used together if this will provide the safest option for the user.

Bath chairs are available in many different styles and colors to fit your specific needs. Some include rubber non-skid tips and others include actual suction cup feet. Some include padded seats, folding options for portability, as well as wheels for mobility. The options can be overwhelming, but when you decide on a style that fits your specific needs the best, make sure that you double check all of the chair dimensions to make sure that the unit will provide the best option for your needs and bathroom space. You can view a full list of available bath chair here .

Bath Chair Accessories

There are many accessories available for bath chairs to make the bathing experience more comfortable and convenient. There are under chair bags to store shampoos, conditioners and other toiletries. If the bath chair does not already include a shower spray holder built into the chair, there are shower spray clips that can be used universally with most shower chairs. Some models, such as the designer bath chair includes a full line of accessories available, such as bathing baskets that attach to the side of the chair.



Transfer Benches

Transfer benches are a perfect choice for those with very limited mobility. This is essentially a very wide bath chair that includes a permanent extension that sits on the outside of the bathtub so you can easily transfer from a wheelchair or simply sit down on the outside of the tub and maneuver yourself over the bathtub wall while sitting on the bench.

Considerations for your Transfer Bench

It is important to measure your bathtub width before selecting a transfer bench to ensure that the bench will be adequate for your space. The length of the bench is important because you don’t want the bench to be too short or too long for the space that you have. Almost all transfer benches are reversible, so they can be used universally for right side or left side entry tubs. Typically this is done by simply reversing the backrest and armrest of the bench.

Choosing a Transfer Bench

Transfer Benches do include solid surface benches, benches with built in commodes, and sliding transfer benches that actually controllably slide you into the tub and lock into place. Depending on your needs and space, there are many transfer bench styles and models to choose from.

There are several optional features, depending on the model transfer bench chosen. Some options include suction cup tips inside of the tub, curtain tucks to tuck the shower curtain into the bench a couple of inches, and many other others. You can view the full line of transfer benches here

Preventing Water Spillage with Transfer Benches

One of the most complained about things with the use of a transfer bench is that the shower curtain will not close around the bench to prevent water from getting outside of the tub. We have had people tell us that they simply cut slits in their existing shower curtain so that the unit would fit around the transfer bench. If you get an inexpensive shower curtain, this home-made solution might help.

What is the Best Internet Browser for Seniors?

You might remember that in Step 7 of my 10 Steps to Better Protect Elderly Loved Ones Online I explained some of the dangers posed by using Internet Explorer 6. If that post left you wondering which Internet Browser would be the ‘best’ for your elderly loved ones then today is your lucky day because you’re finally going to find out.

The answer is that the best Internet Browser for Seniors is the Opera Browser. That may surprise many of you who have never heard of Opera before.

What makes Opera so great for Seniors?

  • Opera can be easily used without a Mouse: This is important because it is friendly for users with physical limitations like severe arthritis, it lessens repetitive strain, and it provides easier navigation for the visually impaired. Other Internet Browsers ‘can’ be used without a Mouse but not with the ease or to the same degree as Opera.
  • Opera can easily re-size webpages via Page Zooming: This feature allows everything on a webpage, including movies, to be easily and dynamically resized (20% to 1,000%) in order to assist users with impaired vision.
  • Opera can be controlled without a Keyboard or Mouse: The Voice Control feature, developed in cooperation with IBM, allows the Opera Browser to be controlled entirely by Voice Commands. This grants users with limited or no ability to use tactile controls access to the Internet.
  • Opera can read the Internet aloud: This is important because it allows users with vision impairment easier access to the Internet.
  • Opera comes with built-in Security Features: Out of the box Opera features strong secure website encryption and protection from common phishing and malware techniques.
  • Opera is highly customizable: This is important because it means that Opera can be configured to meet the needs of the user. For example, a user with vision impairment could configure Opera to use larger buttons and text.

On top of those features Opera is one of the fastest and most compatible Internet Browsers on the market. In fact, the Opera Browser was named the Best Major Desktop Browser by About.com’s 2010 Reader’s Choice Awards. Given all of that, you might wonder why, as of July 2010, only a little more than 2% of Internet users use Opera? I don’t have an answer to that question.

The Opera Browser is free for personal use and is available on virtually every major system including Windows, Macintosh, and Linux as well as the Nintendo Wii and many mobile phones. Give it a try, you should be surprised.

http://www.opera.com/

Guarding against Elder Neglect.

In our last post on Elder Abuse we shared that, “Laws vary from state to state but, by definition, Elder Abuse is any act, intentional or negligent, that causes harm or serious risk of harm to a vulnerable elder.” Usually, in both ourselves and others, we can recognize the intentional immediately. The negligent is more insidious and often escapes notice until long after the harm has been done.

That may have been the case with Mary Madeleine Araujo, an eighty year old woman who according to police reports sat on a sofa recliner for over a month in her own urine and feces while developing infected bedsores. All of this in the home she shared with her daughter, son-in-law, and three adult grandchildren.

It is easy to write off Mary Madeleine Araujo’s family as monsters but there is an important lesson to be learned from them if we are willing to believe that they may have been ignorant of their crime. Being passive in caring for an elder can be a crime; it’s called neglect and even if the caregiver isn’t aware that they are causing the elder harm it is elder abuse.

How to guard against elder neglect as a family caregiver.

  • Don’t let the elder dictate terms of Caregiving: It is immensely difficult to take control of an elder’s life. Often it feels like stealing their competence, stripping them of their adulthood – that’s not true though, aging is stealing their competence, not the caregiver. It is the responsibility of caregivers to provide care to balance out lost competence. The daughter in the Araujo case claimed that her mother refused help bathing, that refusal should not have ended the discussion. Caregivers can’t accept the word of their elders alone, they need to judge for themselves if the elder needs them to step in. A good practice is to follow a threefold decision making policy; listen to the elder’s opinion, discuss the matter with the elder’s Doctor, and make the decision that is best for the elder.
  • Clearly define and share Caregiver Roles: In the Araujo case there were five adults living in the same home as the elder. Five adults but the grandmother ended up with festering bedsores, sitting in her own urine and feces. According to reports, the daughter admitted that her mother had trouble getting to the bathroom on her own for several weeks. The family should have established clearly defined caregiving roles and responsibilities; for example, the grandchildren could have been responsible for checking on her and getting her to the bathroom, the husband could have been responsible for feeding her, and the daughter could have been responsible for bathing her and monitoring her health. Without clearly defined roles, it’s possible that four of the adults in the house thought that someone else was responsible for caring for the elder and were too caught up in their own lives to realize what was happening.
  • Failing to provide healthcare is Elder Abuse: At the time of her admittance to the hospital, Mary Madeleine Araujo had not had medical care for four years. We don’t know why that was the case but whatever the reason it was criminal neglect. The result is the same regardless of whether the reason was that the family didn’t want to pay medical expenses, that the elder refused to go to the doctor, or that the family didn’t see anything that merited medical attention. The elder should have had regular medical checkups, especially after significant events such as when she stopped sleeping in bed, after she fell, and as her health declined. Not providing the elder with medical attention was abusive.
  • Empower the elder by equipping them: Technology can lighten the burden of caregiving and allow elders to retain a large measure of their competence. In the Araujo case, a few simple pieces of equipment might have made a world of difference; an alternating pressure mattress overlay to help prevent pressure sores, an assist rail to aid in getting in and out of bed, a cane or walker to increase mobility and help protect from falls, grab bars in the bathroom for added fall security, and a transfer bench or bath chair to enable the elder to bath herself.
  • Be proactive in assessing and addressing the Elder’s needs: Don’t wait for a unmet need to become a problem, regularly reevaluate the elder’s needs and how they are addressed. Monitor the elder’s condition in a journal and calendar, seek advice from experts, and join caregiver support groups. It is better to provide too much support rather than too little. If an elder begins to have trouble reaching the bathroom, immediately take action  – don’t wait to find your loved one sitting in their own urine and feces. Only respect an elder’s refusal to accept help up to the point where it risks causing harm – then, as a caregiver, you are responsible to step in and provide the care that is needed.

When it comes to neglect, ignorance of the crime is no excuse. It is essential for family to be proactive, if the burden is too great or the family is unwilling they should seek outside assistance through in-home care, assisted living, or a nursing facility. Leaving an elder to languish on a recliner in the living room is horrendous regardless of the motivations of the people involved.

Family Caregiving is often like a Second Full Time Job

Home Instead Senior Care® recently completed a five year study that concluded that 42% of caregivers spend more than 30 hours a week personally caring for a senior parent.  Most caregivers don’t need a study to tell them that caring for an elderly loved one is like a second job, but hopefully the results of this study offer some well deserved affirmation.

First and foremost, caregivers thank you for taking on what is too often a thankless job. Thank you for caring for one of our greatest treasures, our elders. Thank you for taking on what is often a difficult, costly, and exhausting second job.

Next, we want to share some practical actions you can take to help with the load of your unpaid second job.

Lighten the burden by…

  • Getting Paid for your Second Job: In participating states Medicaid’s “Cash and Counseling” Program will pay a family caregiver a small salary for caring for their loved one. This assistance is usually not comparable to a normal wages but it can lighten the financial load of caregiving and might be just enough to allow a family caregiver to make caregiving their only job.
  • Senior Day Programs: Getting involved with a Senior Day Program can free up a lot of your time and get your loved one involved with healthy, social, and engaging activities while still living at home. There are many professional Senior Day Programs but also keep in mind that local groups, like libraries and churches, are also starting their own programs.
  • It takes a Village: Don’t wait until caregiving becomes too much for you to handle to ask for help, reach out to your friends, family, and local community for help. Ask your church to plan more Senior-oriented activities, join a caregiver support group, and  get more people involved in the caregiving process. Sometimes help isn’t there when it should be, but more often the help is there, you just might have to be the one to organize it!
  • Make use of Nonprofits: Don’t be shy about going to a charity for help that you need as a caregiver; it isn’t a matter of pride but one of necessity. Just remember to support and promote these nonprofits when you can.
  • In-Home Care: Sometimes a family caregiver has to acknowledge that they can’t do it alone anymore and that hiring a home care professional to help with caregiving is the best option for both the caregiver and their loved one.
  • Eldercare Products: From wander alarms to amplified telephones to the Ez-Chair table, innovative eldercare technology can lighten the load of caregiving, easing concerns and making difficult tasks less of a challenge. Caregiver robots are still at least a decade away, but don’t overlook the technology that’s available now to help you!

Great Big List of Caregiver Blogs

One of the best ways for a caregiver to find answers, reassurance, and understanding is to connect with other caregivers. To help with that, here is a list of blogs run by caregivers. If you know of any blogs that should be added to this list, let us know!

Personal Caregiver Blogs

  • 3 Years and 13 Dumpsters: Cleaning House After Alzheimer’s – “A personal, moving, yet often funny exploration of the impact of Alzheimer’s on sufferer and family alike; from denial to diagnosis, from care-giving to cleaning out the house.”
  • A Blog inspired by Mom’s Brain – “An online journal about Alzheimer’s caregiving”
  • A Caregiver’s Life – “Award-winning journalist Susan Thomas is the full-time caregiver for her mother. Join her as she chronicles the joy and despair of caregiving.”
  • A Day in my Life – “I am a retired teacher living in a very small town in Oklahoma. I spend a lot of time caring for the discarded, abandoned, and strayed cats of this community. I have had 2 cats ‘fixed’ and they have indoor/outdoor privileges. These cats keep my blood pressure low and a lot of conversation with my husband about their antics. My husband is in a nursing facility now and he misses their funny ways.”
  • A Forgotten Daughter – “Welcome to my crazy world of being a mother of two young ones and helping with my mother who was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s two years ago. “
  • A Miggy Moment – “I am a mother of six, a grandmother of eleven and a great grandmother of fourteen.  I have authored five books, am a would-be poet but, between you and me I am just one more pilgrim on the journey of life following hard after her God. God has been with me every step of my life, including: the never-ending battle with  my husband’s Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the challenge of raising our mentally handicapped daughter, Melissa, the slow decline of my body while my mind seems to stay front and center, the new life lessons I am learning as I approach my nineties, and the summa cum laude I received when I finally handed over the car keys”
  • A Place to Scream – “This about enjoying life to the full with my lovely partner- I scream my head off here so I can pretend to be coping when I have to. MS has robbed my darling of the use of much of her body but has increased our determination to share our love to the full and get as much fun out this world as we can glean. Sometimes it all gets to much so I need to scream about it.”
  • Are U My Mother – “Walk with me and Susan as we journey through Alzheimer’s together, her as the victim and myself, the care giver. Together we will experience the good the bad and the wonderful.”
  • Aromick’s Blog – “My husband of more than 50 years is a victim of Alzheimer’s disease, and we have just completed six years since diagnosis.  The journey has been heart wrenching as AD has changed Ken from a bright, articulate and friendly man who had remained physically strong, capable and remarkably independent into a shuffling old man who is now dependent upon my care and  the kindness of others.”
  • Arthur & Bernie – “Hi, I’m Laura. Arthur is my friend. He’s a retired English professor who lives in Manhattan. Bernie is my grandfather. I call him Pop Pop. He’s a former business owner who lives in small-town Pennsylvania. Me, I’m a writer, and I live in Brooklyn.”
  • By My Side At Dusk – “A Daughter’s Eldercare Journal.”
  • Caregiving – “Caregiving for my Dad, living the dementia roller-coaster, reflecting on disability and the Christian faith.”
  • Caregivingly Yours – “Sharing the trial and error learned lessons of a spouse caregiver about family, home care, and transition to the care facility era from 20 years of living with Multiple Sclerosis as a family.”
  • Caring for Lauren – “Hi, I am Mom to Lauren, who is a 24 year-old young woman with severe, multiple disabilities. Lauren requires care in every aspect of her life. This blog will be a journal of the struggles and joys of providing care for Lauren.”
  • Caring for Person with Parkison’s – “I have decided to blog about my experiences, good, bad or whatever they turn out to be, as a full-time carer for my spouse with PD further complicated by the addition of dementia. I am doing this for an outlet for me, and for others to read if they find the blog!”
  • Chrissy’s Moments – “Chrissy is my mother who has some form of dementia. Most times I call her Chrissy instead of mother; it provides a little distance from daughter to caregiver. She has a gentle and sweet presence; along with, a sense of humor that I get to enjoy most days. Mother has seven children, three of whom live out-of-state. This blog was created so that her precious moments and updates could be shared. Please feel free to comment.”
  • Cura Personalis – “Caregiving for my Dad, living the dementia roller-coaster, reflecting on disability and the Christian faith.”
  • Dad’s Dementia Decline – “An honest and candid blog about being thrown into the world of Dementia after my Dad’s recent diagnosis which left my whole family reeling from shock. While Dementia does not define my Dad, there are ugly and raw feelings that have no where to go when one is watching your loved ones struggle with this nasty brain disease and its effects on everyone.”
  • Dementia ain’t for Sissies – “Caring for a Mom with Dementia.”
  • Days in Dementiaville – “I’m a caregiver by accident but I chose to do the best job of it that I can. I hope by sharing some of the day to day with you, we can all benefit from the knowledge acquired along the journey with Alzheimer’s.”
  • Dementia Nights – “I’m a writer, photographer, consultant. Age 50. My father was a reporter and editor. Then he became something other than that. He died February 8, 2010 at 87. He was widowed in 2003. His decline started a little earlier. His sister died of Alzheimer’s.”
  • Dying to Help – “Caring for a loved one with cancer or other terminal illnesses”
  • Doonan diddly-squat – “In this blog ‘Chartreuse’ takes time out to reflect about living with, caring for and being cared for by a home, a garden and a partner with primary progressive aphasia. Recollections about family, travel and other matters will occasionally intrude.”
  • Elder Mentor – “I’m a free-lance writer and social worker in long term care.  I’ve been working with the elderly population for nearly 15 years.  My areas of specialty and interest include Alzheimer’s and dementia care, palliative care and social policy.  On a personal note, I help care for my father who has dementia, Alzheimer’s type.  He is truly an inspiration to me and reminds me not to take life too seriously.”
  • Fibroworld – “We’re a mother-daughter team.  Dot is in her late twenties and has had fibromyalgia, chronic pain and migraines for nearly 4 years. Fibro Mom is a 60-ish, sometimes crabby caregiver who works part-time.”
  • From the Planet Aphasia – “Do you ever feel like you are living in a parallel universe? Can you see and hear the ‘normal’ people but you’re not sure if they see or hear you? Welcome to my world! Caregiving for a stroke survivor.”
  • From the Coastland – “The eldest of the second family, I look after our mother who is in a long term care facility.  This BLOG was to be a way for  family and those who live further a field, to stay in touch.  Mom is 94, confined to a wheelchair and almost blind from glaucoma, she loves the family visits.   Unfortunately,  as families go, most are too busy to visit, even my own, hence the BLOG.  What is a person to do?”
  • Getting A Foothold – “Like life, TBI has its pitfalls, and caring for a person with TBI is no different. The challenges are there and we meet them together as best we can. Sometimes it is harder to get a foothold than others and sometimes we slip. We help each other back up, and sometimes others help us instead.”
  • Grateful Discoveries – “The 2010 posts were centered on Caregiving and sharing how I cared for my Mother in 24/7 mode until her death on 10/11/10. Topics for 2011 will include actively working through bereavement, reconnecting with volunteer efforts and adding an ‘Aging In Place’ consulting and construction arm to my business.”
  • Go Ask Alice…when she’s 94. – “I’m a woman in my 60s who, like many others, finds that one of my main tasks in life these days is taking care of my mother. Alice is 94.”
  • “had a dad” alzheimer’s blog – “My father’s 3 year journey, now ended, through Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and my feelings about it.”
  • Help! Aging Parents! – “I was a far-away-living adult child whose parents died during this decade. I continue to be a far-away-living daughter-in-law of my husband’s inspirational mother, who still lives independently in her home at age 97.”
  • I am an Alzheimer’s Caregiver – “My name is Bob DeMarco, I am an Alzheimer’s Caregiver. My mother Dorothy, now 93 years old, suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. We live one day at a time.”
  • In All These things – “Our Journal with Alzheimer’s
  • Inside Aging Parent Care – “Caring for the Desperate Caregivers of Aging Parents.”
  • Life with Shaky – “Chronicles of my sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always enlightening journey of a woman whose husband is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.”
  • Life without Memories – “This site was created to provide support for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia and is based on the experiences of my family and friends as well as site visitors who cared for their loved ones who suffered from these terrible illnesses.”
  • Memories from my Life – “An Alzheimer’s blog: Caregiver tips, News articles, Science findings, and Diary of Life with My Mom (who has Alzheimer’s)”
  • Mom, Me and Alzheimer’s blog – “It’s been 20 years since my dad was taken away suddenly and mom cared for herself fairly well until Alzheimer’s slowly started taking her life away.”
  • Mom Moves In – “An 87-year-old mom copes with moving in with her daughter (and vice versa)”
  • Moving In With Dementia – “I am a Unitarian Universalist minister, wife and mother to a six year old son. In August of 2009, my husband, son and I moved in with my parents because my 73 year old mother has dementia with Parkinson’s-like symptoms. This blog is a reflection on how this disease affects our whole family.”
  • Multiple Sclerosis Carer – “My husband Don Dufty, an MS sufferer, is a retired Minister of the Uniting Church in Australia. He was diagnosed in 2005 and the MS progressed so rapidly he was admitted to a nursing home in 2008.”
  • Musings of a Cranky Caregiver – “Family caregiver to a wonderful woman, Skip, who’s had MS for more than 20 of our 28 years together. ‘Mother’ to Ruby and Addy, two great mini-dachshunds.”
  • My Awesome Maltese – “I’m a middle aged Mom who loves reading blogs. I enjoy tennis, mah jongg, spending time with my family and my awesome Maltese. I have spent a great deal of time this past year traveling back to my hometown to care and spend time with my ninety year old Mom.”
  • My Demented Mom – “5 million Americans suffer from Dementia. My mom is one of them. A site for young adult caregivers struggling and coping with ‘the long goodbye.'”
  • My Mama’s Keeper – “A work at home caregiver’s journey.”
  • My Wife has MS – “A raw look at the struggles of Multiple Sclerosis through the eyes of a spouse.”
  • Notes from a Caregiver – “When my husband had a stroke early on the morning of July 4, 2005, I felt all alone and unprepared to deal with the situation. He was only 42, I was six months pregnant, and even after scouring the Internet, I was unable to find a support group or someone to talk to. This blog is created for people like me, who just need to know someone is out there. I encourage you to post comments and ask questions – I will answer you as often as I can, just as I will be asking questions of my readers.”
  • Orphan at 60 – “I write and speak about feeling like an ‘orphan’ at sixty years of age. Five months after my mother died, my father passed away. Sharing my experiences as a daughter, caregiver, wife and mother hopefully will help others who are grieving over the loss of their parent.”
  • Ricky’s Legacy Blog – “I’m a single mom watching my father lose the battle against Alzheimer’s. Being in my thirties, I sometimes feel some self pity for what the disease is taking away from me, my kids, and my parents. As a nurse I know that my dad is riding the beginning of the baby boomer wave that will make Alzheimer’s a national tragedy. I’m hoping by letting others into my world while we ‘wrestle the beast’ so that some people won’t be knocked to their knees like we were.”
  • Risa’s Pieces – “Any stories told in this blog about unnamed persons reflect my actual experience as a palliative care provider. Details have been changed in order to protect their privacy.”
  • Sandwiched In – “This is my account of my actual experiences living sandwiched between generations in the suburbs of the northeastern United States begun in January 2008.”
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil – “A blog about life with a blind husband, a hard-of-hearing daughter and a blind son… and how God delivers us from every evil and grants us peace in our day.”
  • Slow and Easy: The caregiver’s journey with people who have Parkinson’s Disease – “Michael J. Fox has brought attention to the needs of those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, but caregivers are also trapped by the disease and don’t know how to cope. This is my journey with my husband as the disease has taken more of him away from me. The grief never stops for either of us, but, through faith, we have learned to make the best of every moment.”
  • Taking Care of Mom and Dad – “The Fifth Commandment. Deuteronomy 5:16 (New International Version) 16 ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.’ My attempt at honoring my mother and father as they age and are unable to care completely for themselves.”
  • The Amazing Aging Mind – “This site is my personal journey toward discovering the causes and meaning of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. My sister and I are stay-at-home daughters caring for a mother with end-stages Alzheimer’s and a father with (as far as the docs can tell) Parkinson’s disease.”
  • The Bear Hug Waltz – “I have been a caregiver for my mom for over 4 years. She is 96 and in the late stages of dementia. I have 4 grown sons,8 grandchildren, and one on the way!”
  • The Caregiver Blog – “Welcome to our community. We invite you to share your thoughts or questions related to caregiving for the disabled and chronically ill. We offer resources, education, and support to our community. We advocate that all individuals have true worth and should live with dignity and independence. Feel free to send your blogs and share or find the information to help your community.”
  • The CareGivers Blog – “Life changes and so do we. This is a blog about my journey as my 90-year-old mom’s caregiver. I figure if I can make this enjoyable reading then maybe my life (and my mom’s life) will be more enjoyable too.”
  • The Caregiver Resource – “Ideas, Answers, Observations & Travels from a Creative Caregiver.”
  • The Chuck Hileman Blog – “On Sunday morning, February 8, 2009, my father, Chuck Hileman, suffered a severe stroke. In this blog, my sisters, my brother, and I will be following our father’s recovery and rehabilitation”
  • The Dahn Report – “Daily Journal, Caring for Elderly Parents, Life’s Moments, Movies, TV, Comedy.”
  • The Dopamine Diaries – “My goal is to provide a down-to-earth, spunky, and humorous glimpse at the heartache and joys of witnessing life with dementia and Parkinson’s disease through my mother, and to provide a forum for related discussion and support. “
  • The Life of a Caregiving Daughter – “I guess I should just name this blog The Life of a Caregiver and move on from there that seems to be the only thing I am these days.”
  • The Younger We Get – “An occasional, sometimes humerous look at my life, while I take care of my elderly parents, and try to write.”
  • The Zen of Caregiving – “Finding transformation in the process of caregiving. Updates on my adventure of caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s.”
  • Walking into the Fog – “My mother and I are dealing with Alzheimer’s.  My mother has the disease, or some other deteriorating dementia that the doctors can’t diagnose until after she’s gone.  It’s just easier to use the term Alzheimer’s, because then, people understand instantly.  I’m her caregiver.”
  • When Caregiving Calls – “I am a small business owner in Florida. My husband and I have been together for going on 11 years, and married for going on 7 years. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with AD…a year or so ago.”

Group Caregiver Blogs

  • Alzheimer’s Reading Room – “The Alzheimer’s Reading Room has clear, concise, usable news, research, insight and advice for the entire Alzheimer’s community. 100 Million Americans have been touched by Alzheimer’s Disease, 35 million are worried about Alzheimer’s Disease.”
  • Hospice Care of South Carolina – “Hospice is a philosophy of care focused on improving the quality of life for people with an advanced illness.”
  • SarahCare: Senior Caregiver Support – “Honest advice for the realities of elderly caregiving.”
  • SarahCare: Senior Chronic Care – “Reconsidering chronic care management for Seniors.”
  • Support For Home – “At Support For Home, we know a lot about senior care and home care for folks who need assistance with Activities of Daily Living.  But, we will never know everything, and that means we will never know enough, and that drives us crazy!  So, this blog is all about us sharing what we know and inviting others — families, seniors, organizations, colleagues, competitors — to share in our discussions, our ideas, our challenges, our passion.”

Last time we checked these blogs hadn’t been updated in quite some time, but they still contain compelling stories and useful insights. Check them out and if one is up and running again let us know so we can update this list.

  • 950 Miles Away – “I created this blog so that I would have a place to write about my experiences as the long-distance caregiver for my mother who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. So that I can write freely and honestly, without bringing embarrassment on my mother or my extended family, I decided to blog anonymously.”
  • Alzheimers – The Carer’s View – “And Last But Not Least – The Caregiver…”
  • AlzHub – “I came face to face with Alzheimer’s when one of my parents was diagnosed with it. I have been both a full time and a part time caregiver. This site grew out of my desire to learn as much as I could about Alzheimer’s. It allows me to keep the info I find readily accessible to me and share it at the same time.”
  • A Note from One Mom – “Mom to five grown children, Grandma to eight, full-time caregiver to my stroke survivor husband, designer of eco-friendly children’s party supplies, early morning walking maniac, Food Network groupie, tech challenged, believer in God’s Word and seeker of joy in each and every day.”
  • A Stroke of Love – “On February 10, 2006, an aneurysm in Jan’s brain ruptured. This blog is a place for us to tell you how she is doing and how we are providing care for her.”
  • Caring and Sharing – “Mort, 57, in ill health with arthritis, MS, back problems. Just recovering from recent heart attack. Full time, 24/7 carer for my 89 yr old mother, who is crippled with severe arthritis. Getting very forgetful now bless her.”
  • Caring for Cathy – “Our Families Journey Caring for a Mom with FTLD-MND. It is important to know as you read this journal that this was Cathy’s life post diagnosis… To know Cathy Truly you must know that she was: a Wife, Mother of 3 boys, Grandmother of 9, Sister, Niece, Aunt, Daughter, and Friend.”
  • Dementia Blues – “Funny/sad ruminations by a baby boomer on having two parents with dementia.”
  • Dethmama Chronicles – “The True Adventures of a Hospice Nurse.”
  • Fading from Memory – “What happens to a family when both parents are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease? This weblog chronicles the experiences of one such family in Sydney, Australia.”
  • Feedin’ MamaFeedin’ Mama began when I started a blog as a way to share my experiences and the things I have learned while caring for my own mother and my elderly aunt in their final years.
  • Loving Grand – “A Granddaughter’s Alzheimer’s Caring Journal; My journey with Gram and how I contributed to her walk into the sunset, sometimes funny, sometimes we shed a tear or three, and always dear to our hearts and embedded into our soul. I love you Gram.”
  • Marina’s Abundance – “Marina Gonzalez had an abundance of love to give and this blog is to honor her memory.”
  • Mondays with Mother – “In 2002 my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It is a hard road, and we live it one day at a time. This is a chronicle of her disease and my Monday visits with her.”
  • Living with Alzheimer’s – or, What day is it again? – “A continuing story of what it is like to live with a mother with Alzheimer’s disease. Stressful, tiring, often funny – each day brings new challenges. Read about coping ideas, family involvement, laughter and tears. Does someone you know suffer from alzheimers? Maybe this blog will sound familiar.”
  • My Dad’s Stroke – “My dad had a stroke. It happened. This is his tale of recovery told from his daughter’s point of view. Some of it isn’t pretty.”
  • Never Goodbye – “Navigating the journey through dementia.”
  • The Journey – “This began as a journal of my mother’s progression through Alzheimer’s, but I began it too late. Her journey is over, but mine is still on-going. I hope to chronicle here the journey that I take – the one through grief, acceptance and, ultimately, surviving Alzheimer’s.”
  • The Reality of Dementia – “I’m sharing with you what is the emotional progression of a family dealing with Dementia. My father was diagnosed with FrontalTemporoDementia in late March of 2004 at the age of 60. This is from my point of view as his only son, who loves the man who raised him, as the condition, and Life, moves ahead.”
  • The Reluctant Carer – “I care for my husband who has Huntington’s Disease. I’m new to this caring or ‘uncaring’ and I’m struggling. In being honest about this, maybe other carers will feel less guilty and less alone.”
  • The Yellow Wallpaper – “Caregiving, Alzheimer’s, Mothers, Daughters, Dying”
  • Tracey’s Life – “This is my story of raising two children 14 and 16 who are not mine, but they are mine in my heart. My friend Sharon, their mother, is in a nursing home with Multiple Sclerosis. This is the story of our adventures in life!”
  • Within Crepusculum– “I provide total care for my aging Mother, question why she must endure such an unacceptable darkness, anxiously wait for that day, hour or next minute when she will leave my humankind, anxiously wait for my destiny, experience frustration to its fullest and believe life is more dubious than it ever has been.”

The Long List of Dementia Prevention “Mays”

It seems like I’m always reading an article about a new study proclaiming that something “may” help prevent dementia. It’s hard to know how to take this news? Is this the slow march of science finally nearing useful results? Do the studies offer only false hope, placebos at best? I don’t have an answer but I thought I’d compile a list of all the dementia preventing “mays” that I’ve come across.

  • Coffee – In a 21 year long study, Swedish and Danish researchers found that subjects who drank three to five cups of coffee daily were 65 percent less likely to develop dementia, compared with those who drank two cups or less.
  • Tea – According to a study by the University of Singapore, individuals who drink two to three cups of black tea daily are half as likely to show early signs of dementia as those who rarely drink it.
  • Vitamin D – Researchers in the United Kingdom found that the risk of cognitive impairment was 42 percent higher in individuals who were deficient in vitamin D, and 394 percent higher in those with severe vitamin D deficiency.
  • Curry – Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles believe that turmeric may play a role in slowing down the progression of the neurodegenerative disease.
  • Newspapers – The Mayo Clinic has conducted research indicating that reading magazines and newspapers can help protect against failing memory in old age.
  • Significant Other – Swedish research found that marriage or having a partner halved the risk of developing dementia.
  • Sleeping Habits – Prolonged sleep duration may be associated with an increased risk of dementia.
  • Discipline – Researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago may have discovered a connection between leading a conscientious life and reduced risks of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Juice – US researchers found the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was 76% lower for those who drank juice more than three times a week, compared with those who drank it less than once a week.
  • Marijuana – Researchers at Madrid’s Complutense University and the Cajal Institute showed that a synthetic version of the active ingredient in Marijuana may reduce inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s and thus help to prevent mental decline.
  • Statins – Scientists have found further evidence that taking commonly used cholesterol-lowering statins may protect against dementia and memory loss.
  • Slimming Down – A US study of more than 700 adults showed that being overweight is associated with smaller brain volume, a factor linked with dementia.
  • Hormone Replacement Treatment – A study by the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London found that Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may protect post-menopausal women against memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Low Blood Pressure – Finnish Scientists have found that individuals with high blood pressure and raised cholesterol levels have a significantly higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as they age.
  • Avoiding Soy – A Loughborough University study has found that consuming high levels of some soy products, including tofu, may increase the risk of memory loss.
  • Vitamin E – Japanese Scientists found that a daily vitamin E supplement protects the brain of mice preventing the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Nicotine – Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in California, US believe that Nicotine may reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms.
  • Big Head – An American Scientist has claimed that individuals with small heads have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – UCLA researchers believe that Omega-3 Fatty Acids, such as those found in fish oils, may delay or prevent Alzheimer’s.
  • Alcohol – According to a study by the University of Bari in Italy, individuals who drink alcohol moderately develop dementia at a slower rate than those who drink little. The study also indicated that individuals who drink excessively develop dementia more quickly than moderate drinkers or teetotalers.
  • Video Games – Studies of patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia or attention deficit disorder have found that those who play games have better speech and brain function.
  • Exercise – A Massachusetts-based study found that people who performed moderate to heavy levels of physical activity had a 40 per cent lower risk of developing dementia.
  • Walnuts – A study by the New York State Institute has found that mice who eat walnuts regularly were less likely to develop dementia.
  • Sense of Fulfillment – In a study conducted by the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers found that participants with high scores on the life purpose test were 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared with those who had the lowest scores. (Added July 13th)

All of that shared, keep in mind that there is no conclusive evidence that lifestyle changes will prevent dementia. If I missed a “may” please post it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.

What do you think of all these “mays”? Are they all part of a larger tread? Do only a few of them have merit? Are all of them a waste of time and effort? Let us know what you think, you might help another reader make up their own mind.

10 Things to do on Father’s Day

With strength fading and independence slipping away, many elderly Fathers feel lost and out of place. Father’s Day offers us a great chance to celebrate and honor them but many of us have trouble with the how… There is no one answer as every father is unique but here are a few suggestions.

  1. Take Him out to the Ball Game – Father’s Day is the third weekend in June, a great time to catch a game. Order tickets early, get great seats, and consider a special surprise – like an autographed ball, a picture with the mascot, or a message on the score board.
  2. Hang with the Grandkids – Few things can make a Grandfather feel like part of the family like Grandkids who want to be with him. If you need to bridge the generational gap, try the Wii – let Granddad get some ‘street cred’ by trouncing the kids at bowling.
  3. Skype Reunion – You might remember me recommending Skype as a great free software gift for Dad. Here’s a chance to take it a step further, coordinate with your Dad’s old buddies to arrange for a great big Skype reunion. Hopefully this will open the door for regular video chats.
  4. Quickest Way to a Man’s Heart – Get Dad his favorite meal, take him out if you can or take it to him if you can’t. If he drinks, remember to double check his medication before buying him a beer. He might want to contribute, if he does a good compromise is to remind him that dinner is your treat but ask him to get the tip.
  5. Favorite Shared Pastime – Chances are that your Dad gave you a love of one of his pastimes. Consider taking your Dad out for a few hours of your favorite shared pastime; fishing, golfing, crafting, gardening, etc. Tell him how meaningful sharing this pastime has been to you over the years.
  6. Movie Marathon – Is your Dad a huge fan of John Wayne, Bob Hope, Katharine Hepburn, Groucho Marx, or other vintage film stars? Consider a three movie marathon of his favorites with lots of snacks. Get the whole family involved if you can without drama, this is about enjoying his favorites together as a family not giving him lonely reign over the entertainment system for a few hours.
  7. Daddy’s Little Girl – You may be a influential professional or a successful parent yourself, but in many Dad’s eyes their daughter is always first and foremost their Little Girl. It can be hard to step back into that role but its a surefire way to make many Fathers feel like they still belong in the family. Let Dad feel like a provider; listen to his advice or let him treat you to a coffee, basically let him do something for you even though you don’t need him to.
  8. Classic Game Night – Break out the classic card and board games for a good time with Dad and the whole family. Play games he already knows the rules for; games like Monopoly, Hearts, Canasta, or Pokeno. Remember to play with Large Print Playing Cards if Dad is visually impaired.
  9. His Greatest Adventure – Did Dad live overseas, serve in the military, meet someone famous, or do something else that might qualify as an adventure? Remind him of it and get him to tell the story one more time, even if you’ve heard it hundreds of times already. Get the kids to hear it too if you can without too much drama.
  10. Cherished Memory Book – Get in touch with everyone whose life your Dad has touched; ask them each to send you a letter to him along with some photographs. Put them together into a scrapbook commemorating him and letting him know that he’s not forgotten. Not only will it make him feel special now, years from now it stands to become a treasured family heirloom holding memories that would otherwise be forgotten.

After a lifetime in the role, many Fathers feel insecure after they step out of the provider role for their families. Because of this it is important to avoid anything that might make Dad feel unwelcome. Chances are that you don’t see eye to eye with Dad on everything but, at least for Father’s Day, try to let remarks and points of contention slide. Be gracious and patient, focus on the good and avoid drama. Remember, your goal is to celebrate and honor Dad, not get drawn into old arguments.

Five Classic Male Singers

Few things get my Grandmom hopping like listening to Bing crooning away so a few years ago I got her a CD collection of his.  I feel fortunate that I had early exposure to ‘Classics’; many in my generation and even the generations before me have only a vague idea of what sort of music our elders listened to in their youth.

If you’re looking to buy some nostalgic music for an elderly loved one, here’s a list of ‘Greats’ that its hard to go wrong with!

Nat King Cole

Frank Sinatra

Bing Crosby

Jimmy Durante

Louis Armstrong

Reprint of a Reprint of our Mother’s Day Article

Looking around the Internet to see what folks are saying about us, we discovered a wonderful blog that had ‘reprinted’ our Living with Alzheimer’s – Celebrating your Mother Article. The author included some great additions on long distance caregiver that bear ‘re-reprinting’.

(Reprint of Article From Elder Depot Below) My Comments First

As our family deals with the decline of my husband’s mother, I thought this was good article to share and wanted to add a few thoughts.

These tips below are excellent, but for those of us who live at some distance from our elderly relatives, it is often not so simple to think of things to do.  This year we sent off a box of goodies well in advance and of course, we call often, though at times the conversations are frustrating and sometimes make us quite sad.  I have found that as memory and cognitive functions decline, it is a good idea to make changes in the types of gifts we give or send.  Some people still enjoy the same things they always liked, such as books or candy and flowers.  Often though, elders stop reading due to vision problems, inability to remember things or disinterest.  You may worry they will choke on some goodies you buy if they have swallowing issues, and when they admire your flowers for a minute, set them aside and don’t look at them again, you feel frustrated or perhaps that your expensive flowers are wasted.

One nice idea is to make a CD of old beloved songs, either that you sing or that you download from the Internet. If your parents have caregivers,  you can find out if there is a CD player and if the caregivers will play the music, or you can send a CD player with instructions for the caregivers.

If you are not able to be present to go through old family photos together, how about making a few copies of old prints or sorting through some you have and sending them with labels or cute captions? You might choose group photos .  My mother-in-law keeps asking for an enlargement of a photo of my husband, even though she has many pictures that just sit in boxes and drawers. She wants a big portrait.

If phone calls become stressful for you and there is a lot of agitation, crying and repetition, keep the calls short and make them more frequently.  Keep a small “idea-catcher” box or pad by your phone on which you write down some brief memories or simple events that have happened to you or to other family members in the last few days, so you will have something to talk about . This can help  minimize your stress and your elder’s, as they sometimes get caught up in cycles of complaining and they get stuck and don’t know how to stop.  My mother-in-law, for example, asks repeatedly for our phone number while speaking to us, though we have made large lists of important numbers,  have put them up in obvious places on the wall and mirror, and have taped them to her telephone stand by her favorite chair and to her walker seat. That is not to say you should not listen to their concerns, validate their feelings and offer to help with things when you are able, but when you find them obsessing, then it is helpful to have a small advance list of more pleasant things to discuss and to aid you in diverting them a bit.

Be as reassuring as you can. Sometimes you will need to remind and to reorient. This is probably hard on you emotionally but it is often helpful.  Don’t give a lot of choices, just as you would not give a small child too many, as this can be overwhelming, but at the same time, try not to treat your parent like a child.  Even someone with moderate dementia can sense his or her own decline and your disrespect, or what they interpret as disrespect.

If you can’t personally make a cake or cupcake or sing a song, is there someone near your parent whom you can enlist to do it?  It does take extra effort to do such things but the pleasure it brings to you and to your parent will make it worthwhile.  How about calling and singing a favorite song, even if it is quite off-key?  Just be sure to identify yourself clearly before you begin

Living with Alzheimer’s – Celebrating your Mother

Many times, we get so caught up in purchasing the perfect gift, as with most holidays, we forget that Mother’s Day should be about celebrating and honoring your mother. As a result, we at Elder Depot decided to focus some time on creating a small list to help you bring some happiness to your mother’s life and create a memory together. And the best part is that the items in this list will not cost you any money!

Activities can vary depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s, so we tried to create a variety of common and simple things that you can both enjoy. The most important thing to remember is that you will one day cherish and be thankful for all of the moments that you spent with your mother – taking the time out to show that you cared.

10 Things To Do on Mother’s Day
  1. Have lunch or dinner together. I hope this list provides you with some useful suggestions to make your Mother’s Day special. The most important thing to remember is to spend some quality time with your mother on Mother’s Day. Its not about the best gifts, but about the memories you will have for years to come. If mom is in a nursing or assisted living home and unable to leave, cook up a quick meal or pick up a pre-made meal and sit with her while eating so you can enjoy the moment together.
  2. Celebrate as if it were her birthday.
    Put a single candle in a cupcake or piece of cake and sing her “Happy Mother’s Day”
  3. Take a walk or sit outside together.
    If the weather permits, bring your mom outside for a walk or just some fresh air and sunshine (Vitamin D) and bring up some old memories! If mom is in a facility and physically able, ask to borrow a wheelchair or transport chair to wheel her outside for a short time.
  4. Have an old fashioned beauty day.
    How about a nice pedicure! Paint mom’s nails or put some curls in her hair and show her how good she looks in the mirror!
  5. Look over some old photos.
    Conjure up some memories of familiar faces or times by showing an old photo album or memorable photos. Maybe even do a little Scrapbooking.
  6. Sing some old church hymns or familiar songs.
    If your singing skills are not up to the task, listen to some old familiar tunes together. Encourage mom to sing along and you might get a surprising response!
  7. Put together a simple puzzle.
    Puzzles with larger pieces are easier to see and handle and those with brighter colors may draw more interest.
  8. Bring the family dog for a visit.
    If your family dog is friendly and calm enough for mom to be comfortable around, bring the dog over for some one-on-one contact. If mom is in a facility that will not allow pets, see if you can take the dog to her in the lobby or bring your mom outside to spend some time with the dog – animals can be very therapeutic!
  9. Watch an old movie together.
    Pop in an old favorite movie, like the Sound of Music!
  10. Enjoy some gardening.
    If your mom used to enjoy gardening, let her sit outside with you and watch you do some of the gardening. If she is in a facility or this is not possible, bring in some flowers from your garden and cut the stems and organize the vase with your mom and she’ll have a beautiful home-made bouquet.

Free Computer Software for Father’s Day

5 “Gifts” that will help keep the computer accessible, safe, and fun.

Each Dad is unique in their own way but if there is one trait that most of them share, its that they are often the hardest people to shop for in a family. Especially in their elder years after they’ve left their workshops, hunting trips, and grills behind them. By this point, most of them already have enough socks and ties to outfit a boy scout troop so don’t even think of going there. Well, how about some free software that will help Dad with that computer sitting in the corner of the room?

Skype

Skype is a free computer program that will allow your Dad to do something that was once considered the stuff of science fiction. Like the Jetsons, he can keep in touch with his loved ones through video conference technology that will allow him to see their faces as he hears their words. It is a powerful tool to help fight against feelings of isolation and abandonment.

Skype Screenshot

Skype works by transmitting voice and video signals over the Internet. Skype to Skype calls are provided as a free service. Skype is also capable of making calls to normal phone lines though this service has a small fee.

Keepass

You may remember me recommending this software in my 10 Steps to Better Protect Elderly Loved Ones Online post a couple of weeks ago; it is one of the most important tools that the Elderly can use to help prevent identity theft while making computer use more convenient.

KeePass is a free open source password manager, which will help your Dad manage his passwords in a secure way. Best of all, he’ll only need to remember a single master password or select a key file to unlock the encrypted database holding the other passwords.

Google Earth

Google Earth is a visual globe, map, and geographical simulation program that will allow your Dad to see the world and beyond. It features a variety of modes including the default 2-D flat view, a 3-D augmented view, a flight simulator, a street view featuring real photographs, and more! It’s possible to view famous locations, study the ocean floor, and even take tours of cities all with this free software.

Los Angeles from Google Earth

Miro

Miro is a ‘Internet Television’ and Media Player that will allow your Dad to watch all of his favorite shows from Hulu, YouTube, and other sites without all the fuss or frustrating loading times. It’s quick, simple, and easy. Not only that, it can play almost any sort of media file allowing him to watch the ‘avi’ file his brother sent him and without being told to download a new codec.

Thunder

If your Dad has poor eyesight, Thunder will make his computer accessible to him again. Designed for the blind, this program suite is a bit rough around the edges but stands as the best free ‘screen reader’ that I’ve come across. A computerized voice will read text and guide your Dad through Menus and Programs, making it a good aid for those with poor eyesight and an essential tool for the blind.

That’s 5

I almost included Google Calendar, Google Reader, iTunes, VLC Media Player, and Geni. Think of anything I missed? Please let me know in a comment.