Caring For Aging Parents

caring for aging parents“The Most Beautiful Home”

In a video that’s sure to require a Kleenex, The Housing and Development Board produced a tear jerking video about a son’s promise to his father.  The promise… “When I grow up, I’ll give you the most beautiful home.”  What we learn from the video is that the home is not just about the place, but the love in the family.  That’s what makes this video so touching, and something that many of you can probably relate to.

The home is not just about the place, but the love in the family.

There are millions of caregivers in the US and abroad.  Many of those caregivers are family members taking care of loved ones.  Make no mistake, it takes a great deal of work (and training) to bathe a loved one, to feed a loved one, and to provide medication management to a loved one.  That’s just 3 of hundreds of duties that caregivers routinely manage on a daily basis.  Caring for aging parents is a very difficult job.

This video is NOT meant to advocate for or against placing someone in a nursing home if your loved one cannot care for themselves.  In many cases, care facilities can provide a fabulous environment for aging adults, while offering safety and care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The key is educating yourself about care needs, and senior housing options BEFORE a crisis hits.

The video certainly is thought provoking, and very well done.  We hope you enjoy it.

Types Of Walk-In Bathtubs

Did you know that (more than) one in three seniors over age 65 fall each year?  The National Institute on Aging (NIA) reports that 80% of these falls are in the bathroom.  To prevent such occurrences, many families consider walk-in bathtubs to mitigate the risk of injuries.  Walk-in bathtubs are great considerations for the less mobile among us.  For aging adults, falls can lead to debilitating injuries.  Today’s post focuses on the different types of walk-in bathtubs available.

What are walk-in bathtubs?  Walk-in bathtubs are an alternative to a traditional bathtub.  Walk-in tubs have doors on them.  They open up so the user doesn’t have to step over a leading edge like you might find on a conventional bathtub. Walk-in bathtubs can be safer alternatives for elderly and/or disabled individuals, but there are many different types of walk-in bathtubs.  If you’re considering a new walk-in type tub, you need to know your options.

Types of Walk-In Bathtubs

Soaker Tub

types of walk-in bathtubsA soaker tub is a basic walk-in bathtub.  It has no hydrotherapy jets, and is generally less expensive than other models with additional features.  This is considered an entry-level walk-in tub.  A soaker tub comes with a leak-proof door, usually includes a grab bar and a hand-held shower accessory.

Hydrotherapy Tub

types of walk-in bathtubs

A hydrotherapy tub includes the leak-proof door, and some additional options that help with circulation in some folks.  These tubs come with water jets (and usually air jets as well) in order to circulate and/or agitate the water.  It feels good, and it  can help loosen up stiff joints and muscles.

Bariatric Tub


Walk-In Bariatric Tub

A bariatric tub is a walk-in bathtub made for larger individuals.  You can purchase a bariatric tub with minimal features, or all the bells and whistles like water jets, etc.

Wheel-Chair Accessible Tub

Wheelchair Accessible Walk-In Bathtub

The wheelchair accessible walk-in tub usually has an outward opening door frame, and allows for the easy transfer from the chair to the tub.

As you can see, there are many different types of walk-in bathtubs.  Wheelchair accessible showers are another area of interest, and a topic for a later discussion.  Be aware that these walk-in tubs can get expensive.  Another consideration is the installation, which can range from $500 to $5,000 depending on what is necessary for the job.  If you’re worried about the safety of your loved one at home and the bathroom is a concern, see a professional about adding industrial grade grab-bars, and other safety equipment in and around the bathtub or shower.  You’ll be glad you did.

Lessons In Caregiving

Lessons in CaregivingMany of us will be family caregivers in the coming years.  The baby boomer generation is experiencing this with their own parents right now… So one day the rest of us will be facing the same issue.  The video I’m sharing below is one of the best short videos I’ve seen depicting the realities of family caregiving.  It really touched me, and I hope it does you too.

Evelyn Corsini and her family allowed photographer Francine Orr to document the final months of her life, to observe caregiving. Orr’s interest was journalistic but also personal: As the caregiver for her father, she had been living the story herself for more than a decade. – Los Angeles Times

Caregiving for a family member isn’t easy, it’s tough work.  We do it because we LOVE our mothers and our fathers, our brothers and our sisters.  Caring for a family member requires modifications to the home, changes to our lifestyle, and a knowledge of ADL’s (activities of daily living) and how to manage them.  If you’re not familiar with the various ADL’s, here’s a list of the 6 basic ADL’s:

  1. Eating
  2. Bathing
  3. Dressing
  4. Toileting
  5. Transferring (walking)
  6. Continence

The video “Lessons In Caregiving” was posted by the Los Angeles Times in December of last year, and it gives us a glimpse at one family’s story during the final stages of life. Special thanks to Evelyn Corsini’s family members for allowing us to learn from their experience. It may help us prepare for our own journey down this road.

Are you a family caregiver?  We’d love to hear your story.  Tell us about your caregiving journey in the comments below.

Gently Showering Your Aging Parent

showering your aging parentWe love to pass along caregiving tips that might help our readers with aging parents.  One of the realities of caregiving that many new family caregivers don’t fully understand when faced with these responsibilities is showering and bathing a loved one.  This is a delicate subject for both the family caregiver as well as the aging parent.  This is a vulnerable (and scary) time for both, but it doesn’t have to be if you understand some of the basic techniques associated with this exercise.

Caregivers for Caregivers put this great educational video together on showering your aging parent.  They offer a wide variety of information that provides help to Caregivers of all types. One of Caregivers for Caregivers mantras reads; “We help you look at the world to see it as the new normal”.  Today we’d like to share a video that provides great tips on showering your aging parent.  We’ve included a clip below.

Tips: Showering Your Aging Parent

  • The caregiver should over communicate.  Letting your aging parent know exactly what’s going on at all times (and why) is important and will set everyone at ease.
  • The caregiver should plan the shower routine.  Notice that he has the proper equipment (chair, towel, shower temperature, etc.) all ready for his resident.
  • Keep your loved one covered so their not cold when out of the water.

Long Term Care Insurance Advice: Video

Last year Suze Orman reported that she was paying around $30,000 per month for 2 full time in-home care nurses.  She’s doing this for her (then 96 year old) mother because she loves her very much, AND because she can afford it.  In this brief video, Suze offers advice on Long Term Care Insurance, and recommends that you get involved with your older parents money before it’s too late.

 “If you have older parents, and they’re not talking to you about what they’re doing… I’m asking you to get involved with they’re money!” — Suze Orman

What is Long Term Care Insurance?

Wikipedia has a tight and concise definition that I like: “Long-term care insurance (LTC or LTCI), an insurance product sold in the United States and United Kingdom, helps provide for the cost of long-term care beyond a predetermined period. Long-term care insurance covers care generally not covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.”

“Long-term care insurance generally covers home care, assisted living, adult daycare, respite care, hospice care, nursing home and Alzheimer’s facilities. If home care coverage is purchased, long-term care insurance can pay for home care, often from the first day it is needed. It will pay for a visiting or live-in caregiver, companion, housekeeper, therapist or private duty nurse up to seven days a week, 24 hours a day (up to the policy benefit maximum).” — Wikipedia on the benefits of LTC Insurance

Long Term Care Statistics

According to the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance:

  • 8.1 Million Americans are protected with long-term care insurance.
  • 322,000 new Americans obtain LTC insurance coverage in 2012.
  • $6.6 Billion in LTC insurance claims paid (2012).
  • Over 264,000 individuals received LTC insurance benefits (2012).

Family Meetings With Caregivers

family meetings with caregiversChristine M. Valentin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who specializes in working with caregivers.  She has an excellent website at  One of her recent posts concerned how caregivers can manage successful family meetings.  Here are her top four tips for family meetings with caregivers.  Keep in mind, a successful family meeting won’t always end with unanimity, but it can allow every family member the opportunity to be respectfully heard.  Sometimes that’s more important than everyone being in complete agreement about what to do for mom or dad.  Here are her tips:

Caregiver Tips for Family Meetings:

  1. Everyone who attends the meeting should, at the very least, want to attend and respect the viewpoints of other family members/attendees. This is not to say they have to agree with everything that is said, but if they are solely attending the meeting to get others to side with their viewpoint, then it won’t work.
  2. The purpose for the meeting should be made very clear when inviting people to attend and should also be reviewed at the start of the meeting. Family members/attendees should not show up believing certain topics will be addressed because it could lead to a feeling of mistrust, skepticism and in some cases, complete disregard for what is being said.
  3. Don’t be afraid to bring in a mediator.  Whether this individual is a professional or the most level-headed person in the family, having someone who can make sure the discussion doesn’t get too personal can be of great assistance. During family meetings, it is not uncommon for past conflicts or accusations to get in the way of the objective for the meeting. Having a mediator can help refocus the group.
  4. Assuming that this meeting will solve everything, will only set you up for disappointment. Any family meeting, especially the first few, will most likely be filled with a lot of clarification, explanation and emotion. Set your goals low but aim high. Once you get a feel for how the meeting is flowing, then you can get a sense for how many topics can be addressed.

Ms. Valentin closes her list with an important thought, which is that while there are no guarantees that a family meeting will resolve your caregiving issues/conflicts, there is a great chance that people who attend a structured, goal-oriented meeting will come out experiencing a greater understanding of another person’s viewpoint and a sense of relief.  If a plan of action is devised and agreed upon by all, then the meeting was definitely a success!

Blessings, Joanne


Caregiving Today: Healthy Tips For Diabetes

healthy tips for diabetesDiabetes is a significant health problem for people over the age of 60.  According to the Diabetes Association, more than 23 percent of Americans in that age bracket suffer from diabetes.  If you’re a caregiver to an elderly parent who has been diagnosed with this disease, there are good reasons to pay attention to how your loved one is handling it.  That’s why we’re happy to provide you with some healthy tips for diabetes.  Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the U. S.  Its complications include high blood pressure, blindness, heart attack, kidney disease and stroke.

What’s that you say?  Your patient isn’t following the doctor’s orders?  I imagine this is the source of considerable tension as you struggle to get your patient to do the right things.  Here are some ideas to help your mom or dad, your spouse or child, stay focused on healthy diabetic behaviors:

  • Study up on diabetes.  There’s information at your library or through the Diabetes Association,  One medical study cited in the June, 2007 issue of AARP Magazine found that diabetics over the age of 65 show improved glucose control once their caregivers understood more about their disease.
  • Keep a positive attitude and avoid nagging (hard to do, I know) over missed tests, meds, dietary restrictions or exercise routines.  Nagging (you call it reminding, but it’s really nagging) builds stress and that has the potential to raise blood sugar levels.  It will also dim any enthusiasm the patient may have been feeling about their glucose control regimen.
  • Know what foods are banned from your loved one’s diet and then ban them from the house.  Don’t sit down to a big slab of chocolate cake and expect your parent to be happy while watching you eat it.  There are plenty of cookbooks available that focus on healthy meal plans for diabetics.
  • Find a way to make exercise fun for both of you.  It doesn’t have to be drudgery.  Gardening, walking on the golf course instead of riding in a cart, or dancing can all be fun.  Be creative and be willing to join your patient in whatever exercise is chosen.

Be sure to recognize your loved one’s improved behaviors and the resulting improvement in glucose control.  Everyone appreciates being acknowledged for their achievements.

Blessings, Joanne

*Photo: woodlywonderworks via flickr

What Is In Home Care?

What is In Home Care?  In Home Care is designed to support those who DON”T want (or need) to leave their homes, but DO require assistance with one or more of their daily activities. Care in the home can take on a variety of shapes and sizes and can incorporate family, friends, and professional assistance. I think most people, given a choice, would prefer to receive assistance from someone they know, family members, or friends.

There are certainly situations when family or friends providing care is not appropriate.  If professional support is to be hired, there are a few questions to ask the agencies you are interviewing.

Questions to ask the in home care agency:

  1. Most In-Home Care agencies have hourly minimums, usually 2-4 hrs. If a shift does not meet these minimums, the client may still have to pay for the full shift.
  2. Make sure the agency you are considering is licensed, and caregivers are bonded and insured.
  3. What kind of training and orientation do the staff participate in?
  4. Is there a nurse to oversee caregivers and provide training?
  5. What is the process if a caregiver is sick or does not show up for a shift?
  6. What are the fees? Do you pay less for longer shifts? Does the agency bill monthly or weekly? Do they provide transportation to doctor appointments, grocery store, etc…?
  7. Does the agency have access to other resources in the community should you need them?
  8. Check inspection results at
  9. Ask to see references and customer testimonials.

What is the advantage of hiring my own private caregiver?

  • It’s generally less expensive than working with an agency
  • A caregiver is your employee, they work for you.
  • You may be able to exchange care services for room and board, this works well for students

What is the advantage of hiring an agency?

  • An agency pays taxes, insurance, etc… No liability on your part, less risk
  • The shift will always be covered
  • Agencies are regulated and must pass inspections to operate

What type of Assistance can a caregiver provide?

  • Bathing/ Grooming
  • Light Cleaning
  • Shopping
  • Laundry
  • Meal Preparation
  • Toileting
  • Dressing
  • Mobility
  • Night care

How Much Does In-Home Care Cost?

I have seen quite a range for costs, anywhere from $12-$22 per hour, depending on geography and duties of the caregiver. If the caregiver is a CNA, the cost will typically increase due to training that the individual has received.  Who Pays for In-Home Care?

  • Private Pay (you)
  • Long Term Care Insurance- check your policy for restrictions and make sure agency is able to accept payment from Insurance provider
  • Some Health Insurances- check your policy
  • Medicaid- offers limited in-home care programs for those who qualify