The Rapidly Growing “Sandwich” Generation

Are you part of the “Sandwich Generation”? No, we’re not talking about a generation of people that like to eat sandwiches, it’s a newer growing group of individuals that are facing sometimes insurmountable challenges. This group is tasked with not only raising their own children, but also providing care for their elderly parents at the same time.

According to Pew Center for Research in January 2013, nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older). And about one-in-seven middle-aged adults (15%) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child.

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Members of the sandwich generation are oftentimes pulled (or yanked) in many different directions. The result is a mental, emotional, and financial toll that can be extremely difficult to deal with. Oftentimes, these individuals are working full-time trying to juggle the roles of several people combined. With all the added responsibilities of caring for an elderly parent can come burn-out, exhaustion, insomnia, and many other stress-related illnesses.

Here are some helpful tips to help reduce manage the added responsibilities:

◾Carve out a block of time each week to participate in a hobby or interest that is relaxing and can help you rejuvenate

◾Plan meal and schedules ahead of time to help alleviate stress

◾Talk to siblings or other family members that might be able to help go shopping, run errands, or provide companionship to your parents

◾Find a home care company that can help provide short-term “respite” care to give you a little break each week.

Enriched Life Home Care Services is available to help provide short-term/long-term and part-time/full-time care for your aging parent. We understand the importance of having someone there when you cannot be and hope you will contact us should you need assistance in the future.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

The Value of a Caregiver Support Group

Are you caring for a loved one or friend that is ill or has a disability? If so, then you join the group of over 75 million unpaid caregivers to someone 18 or older who is ill or has a disability – according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Many caregivers are holding down full time jobs and caring for their own children and sacrificing time for much needed rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. They are “unsung heros” that are devoted to helping out without the benefit of a paycheck or oftentimes even a thank you. In addition, they may be left feeling that no one understands the responsibilities or pressures they are going through and have no place to turn.

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With a support group, caregivers can be part of a forum of others going through similar circumstances to help ease some of the stress that comes from helping out others. Some of the benefits of a Caregiver Support Group include:

  • Offering an outlet to discuss worries, concerns, and struggles as a caregiver
  • Learn more about professional organizations that can provide community support for free
  • Meet new friends that can empathize with your situation and offer helpful suggestions
  • Offer helpful suggestions on how to manage time and resources

It can be very comforting being part of a group on people that are going through what you are at the same time. They can truly understanding what you are feeling and become a friend in time of need.

Enriched Life Home Care Services is committed to bringing awareness to importance and role of caregivers – both paid and unpaid. We are hosting a series of Caregiver Support Groups in the South Eastern Michigan Area to do just that. Please feel free to give us a call at 734-744-6477 to learn more.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

With Dementia…Time is My Enemy

It’s been awhile since we’ve shared a guest blog from Rick Phelps. Rick was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in June of 2010 at the age of 57. Rick is passionate about bringing awareness to this disease and is the Founder of Memory People, an Alzheimer’s and dementia support and awareness group on Facebook. In the latest blog article, Rick tells us how time has become his enemy with his disease.

“Sometimes yesterday, can seem a million years away.” This is the beginning of “While I Still Can…” a song my dear friend Dan Mitchell penned for me.

He took some of my quotes and put them to music. The reason the first line of the song is about yesterday, is because when you have dementia you have no yesterdays.

I no longer have any concept of time. I can tell time, but there is no concept of it. Ten minutes can seem like an hour. If someone says “I will call you in a half hour” that half hour is long forgotten in just minutes.

Many patients suffer with the loss of time. When you are able to tell time you need a reference point. Take for example, if you know you have to be at an appointment on a certain day, at a certain time, the first thing that goes through you mind is a reference of that time.

If it’s Monday at 3:00pm. you might reference that too it’s your first day back at work, and you have to be there when the kids get of school, at 3:00pm.

This doesn’t work when you have dementia. I can’t keep track of the time of day it is, let alone the day of the week. I have no reference to go by.

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Telling your loved one you will be taking them to the doctor tomorrow, Monday at 1:00pm means absolutely nothing. Chances are they don’t know what today is, let alone tomorrow and if you tell them they will simply forget.

Again because they have lost the concept of time. Not many people talk about losing the ability to tell time or know what day it is, but it is a huge problem for the dementia patient.

Everything you do, everything you have planned from the time you wake up till the time you go to bed at night, dictates because of your reference to time.

Right now I know it’s Wednesday, only because I just looked. I had to fill some paper work already this morning, and did it before Phyllis June was up.

That was a mistake. I put the date as September 31rst. There is no September 31rst. I looked at the calendar and everything, but still wrote in September 31.

She checked it luckily and said its Oct.1, not September 31. She didn’t go into there is no September 31, knowing that it wouldn’t register any ways.

Out of habit, you will tell your loved one about a certain date, or time. And that’s fine. It’s what you have been doing forever. Just try to remember, they have no reference of time, and will likely not remember it in just minutes.

So, if it’s important you have to be the one to make sure they are ready to go or do whatever it is at any given time.

The second verse of the song goes, “Time is my enemy, that’s why I’m living for right now.. Tomorrow just to far to think about, my heart only knows one task.”

Time indeed is my enemy. And it most likely is your loved ones as well…

We’d like to thank Rick for sharing his personal stories with us to bring awareness of this disease to others. To learn more about Rick and his story you can visit his website at http://whileistillcan.net

If you or someone you know has been touched by dementia or you’d like more information, please join other patients, caregivers, and advocates all walking this journey together at the Memory People Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180666768616259

Seniors and Storms Don’t Mix

The recent increase in storms in the Midwest has led to thousands of unexpected power outages. For most of us, not having power is more of a nuisance than a life-threatening occurrence. However, for seniors living on their own, a power outage can be disastrous.

Senior adults can be left without food or water, transportation, or a way to contact family. They could also be more susceptible to a slip and fall if they have no electricity. These can all be very stressful and frightening to a senior.

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Although we cannot predict when a power outage will happen, there are certain precautions that can be taken ahead of time to help minimize the risks of injury or starvation.

  • Keep items such as wheelchairs and walkers in a designated place so it can be found quickly
  • Put together a disaster kit that contains a supply of non-perishables, water, medications to last at least 3 days
  • Notify the local electric company if there is an emergency medical device in the home. They will make a note of it and your loved one will be on a list for immediate attention in the case of an emergency.
  • Make sure there are adequate flashlights and batteries located in a place that is easy to access. Do not use candles as they are a fire hazard.
  • Put together a small supply of medications and other necessary medical items
  • A list of medications or other medical information
  • Cell phone with an extra battery and charger
  • Keep some cash on hand in case local ATMs or banks are closed due to power outages
  • Turn off or unplug all major appliances, as they can be damaged when the power returns

Taking responsibility and planning in advance of any big storm is highly recommended to alleviate many potential hazards. You can get information on the radio, news, or internet to help you prepare. At Enriched Life Home Care Services, we care about the health and safety of your loved ones and hope you will take the time to help your loved ones prepare for the unexpected.

Enriched Life Home Care Services, LLC  |  www.ELHCS.com

 

Helping Aging Parents with Money Matters

It’s all too common these days that people in their 50s and early 60s notice their elderly parents having trouble with memory loss and with handling finances. In fact, one in eight Americans 65 and over and 43 percent of individuals 85 and over have Alzheimer’s disease.

Financial advisors and accountants say elderly parents and adult children alike are too slow to seek or provide help in the early stages of decline. Denial is part of it. Hoping to stay independent, parents may minimize their difficulties. Adult children hesitate to step in and help out and oftentimes ignore warning signs.

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Reporting in Smart Money, Kathleen Michon, an attorney and editor at Nolo, a provider of legal information and products, says the damage can be dire: closed accounts, damaged credit, money lost to scam artists, even foreclosure.

A mailbox stuffed with donation requests, checkbook mistakes, unpaid bills, and desks and drawers that were once neatly organized now scattered with paperwork, are all signs that help is needed.

Don’t try to suddenly step in and take over. To ease into their financial affairs, begin by offering help with such matters as filling out insurance claims, helping to adjust property tax bills or checking credit card statements.

Enriched Life Home Care Services is passionate about educating families and bringing awareness to issues facing aging loved ones. We are here to help answer questions that may arise as you are caring for your loved ones.

www.ELHCS.com  |  Enriched Life Home Care Services

Activities for Loves Ones with Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease

When someone you are caring for is bored or wants to help in some way, here are a few things that could keep those with mild to moderate dementia or Alzheimer’s disease occupied.

Raking and sweeping. If it’s not too cold, outdoor lovers will appreciate being helpful in the yard. Experts at caring.com say it’s also good exercise. An alternate activity, picking up sticks or yard debris, can be satisfying if the patient is physically capable.

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Feeding the birds. It’s an active activity when preparing food, and it’s a passive activity when watching birds out the window. Make strings of birdfeed by threading cereal or pretzels on a length of yarn. Tie the end so the cereal doesn’t fall off.

Make birdseed pinecones. Put peanut butter on a pinecone with a butter knife, then roll the cone in a bowl of birdseed. Tie a string around it for hanging.

Folding laundry. It allows your loved one to feel productive and the repetition can be soothing. Towels are the easiest to fold. Consider buying bundles of washcloths or dish towels.

Keeping tabs on the weather. You’ll need an easy-to-read outdoor thermometer, indoor barometer, weather vane, and a rain gauge. Many people have great interest in the weather. Encourage a loved one to check gauges and reporting what they see to you. You could keep a record book to discuss weather changes later.

Talk about the weather and ask your loved one if they ever experienced a storm, flood, or blizzard.

Coupon cutting. Give them scissors, envelopes and an organizer folder to place the coupons in. It’s a good activity and makes them feel they are contributing. Encourage them to clip coupons for their favorite products.

Inspirational reading. Individuals who have difficulty reading or communicating may enjoy being read to and may be comforted by religious text. Try making a daily reading time so it becomes part of your routine. Talk about what you read and ask questions like whether they would have liked to live in Biblical times.

If you are looking for more activities ideas, Enriched Life Home Care Services can assist. We are very interested in enriching the lives of seniors, especially those that have been affected by Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease – A Day in the Life of Rick Phelps

We have a special guest blog from Rick Phelps. Rick was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in June of 2010 at the age of 57. Rick is passionate about bringing awareness to this disease and is the Founder of Memory People, an Alzheimer’s and dementia support and awareness group on Facebook. We hope that you will take a few moments to read Rick’s story to learn more about this disease and how devastating the effects can be on anyone that suffers from it.

When you have this disease there are times when you know things just aren’t right. It’s very difficult to explain, but I remember when I woke up one day and could no longer understand the concept of time.

To say it was scary is an understatement. That day changed everything. Everything we do in our daily lives revolves around time. You know when to be somewhere, because your brain has this internal clock that is in the back of your mind telling you, I have to get the kids after school.

Or to lay something out in the morning for dinner that night. The list goes on and on how your brain tells you, “Hey, it’s time to check the roast.” or “I have an eye appointment tomorrow @ 9:00am.”

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When I lost the concept of time I was sure there would be nothing worse that could happen. I was wrong.

For weeks now, slowly but surely I have noticed I can no longer recognize things. I look for whatever it may be that I can’t find, and found I can be looking right at it and not see it.

My brain no longer allows me to understand or recognize what I am looking for. I searched for the tv remote, looked everywhere. Took the cushions off our recliner, moved it thinking it may have fallen under it.

Looked all over the front room, and even some other rooms, thinking I may have had it in my hand and laid it down somewhere. Then hours later, for whatever reason, I seen it.

Right beside the chair I sit in, on the magazine rack right where it is always kept. It had been there all along and I did not see it. Or rather I seen it, but did not recognize it.

We are putting in our old counter tops from the kitchen in our garage, with the guidance of my Uncle who has been doing this type of work his entire life.

I can’t tell you the problems this has created for me. We wanted the sink, counter tops, and we are putting in a couple other shelves for storage. Will be very nice when we are done.

Problem is, I can’t find anything. If I am using my drill, and need to change from a drill bit to a Phillips head, I can be looking right at the case that holds the drill bits and never see it.

Every time I need something, a ruler, a screw driver, hammer, nail, pencil…things you would normally just look at and know it’s what you need, doesn’t work anymore.

This has been an issue for some time. Couple months. But like this disease always does it is progressing, getting worse. I finally broke down last night and told my wife, Phyllis June.

We don’t keep things from each other, but I had this because I knew it would just upset and worry her. I know there’s nothing that can be done. Deal with it, it is my “new normal”.

It’s just something I never really even entertained happening. Or if I did, I had forgotten. Not being able to recognize things is devastating. Not knowing where I put something last.

I can open the refrigerator to get the milk, but once I open it I cannot find the milk that is right there in front of me all along. My next doctor appointment isn’t till Oct., but with this revelation I am thinking of having Phyllis June call and see if I can get in earlier.

But then I think, why? There isn’t a thing he or anyone else can do. It’s just normal that when something like this happens you want to get it fixed. Find a pill or some procedure that will make it possible so I again can recognize what I am looking for.

Wanting things to be normal. That’s what we all want. Instead we have to deal with our “new normal” which is forever changing. I worry, I wonder, what could possibly next?

But deep down I know, that is the one thing I also dread. It is a form of denial. Knowing what is coming, yet saying I wonder. You simply must deal with what you have, or I should say what you used to have.

The worst thing about this disease for me is losing my mind, and knowing it is happening right in front of me. And not one person on earth can slow the progression or stop it all together…

Is it any wonder patients lose their composure? Become agitated over almost anything? Even become abusive, or recluse? I could imagine, except now I am living it.

Daily, hourly, every minute. It’s the disease, it’s always the disease…and some days I can’t take another second of it. Today is one of those days. With many more to follow.

We’d like to thank Rick for sharing his personal story to bring awareness of this disease to others. To learn more about Rick and his story you can visit his website at http://whileistillcan.net

If you or someone you know has been touched by dementia or you’d like more information, please join other patients, caregivers, and advocates all walking this journey together at the Memory People Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180666768616259