Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hooray! My Eldercare Blog Has Hit 100--Posts, That Is!

My friends Hope and Pete just turned 100. Wow! I now have a tiny taste of their thrill in reaching this magic number. This is my 100th post since I began "A Boomer's Guide to Eldercare" in February, 2010.

Thank you, readers! Most of you are Boomers who seek how-to help and inspiration dealing with your aging parents. Others of you work with seniors and their families every day. A toast to you all!

In celebration, I'm reprising some of my most popular posts, and a few personal favorites.

Most Popular:

1. Affordable Senior Housing--Three Models

2. How to Sell Your Parent's Home in Seven Days

3. Before Using a Senior-Care Referral Agency, Ask These Questions...

My Favorites:
1. Your Aging Parent Has Two Developmental Tasks

2. Ready, Set, Go! Tips for Moving Your Parent Closer to You, Part Two

3. Seize the Day! Celebrate Your Elder

I'm always looking for new ideas. Do you have a particular challenge with your ading parent that you'd like help in problem solving? I'm game.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Eldercare Nurses: Seek Out the Good, Run from the Bad

As our parents age, we Boomers meet lots of nurses. Most are good--of the Florence Nightengale or Clara Barton ilk. But we also may encounter our own version of Nurse Ratchett, the infamous character in One Flew Under the Cuckoo's Nest.

I met my Nurse Ratchett in the final weeks of Daddy's life. I was visiting from out of state. Daddy's Parkinson's was taking its toll; the doctor gave us children the option of installing a feeding tube. We gave the ok for the procedure, knowing that he still could aspirate, even with the tube.

My gut told me Daddy might not live too long. I struggled with when to book flights for our kids to visit. They had to give notice at work, but time was not on our side. I needed advice--support--from someone in the medical field. So I approached Daddy's nurse at the nursing home.

"Do you have any idea how long my Dad has? My kids haven't seen him in a long time, and I'm wondering about booking flights?"

Her answer blew me away. "Your father could live two days, two weeks, two months or two years," she said. I felt as if an ice storm blew through the room.

I could have come up with that answer on my own, without an RN after my name.

I found Mother's nurse. I asked the same question, adding, "I wasn't exactly asking when Daddy would die. No one knows that. I was asking her advice on when I should book flights for the kids, given the situation."

"Did anyone mention 'comfort measures only'?" she asked. I shook my head.

"Comfort measures only refers to the treatment a person receives during the final hours or days before death."

"If you were me, you'd book the flights soon, though?"


She was my Clara Barton. Or Florence Nightengale. Take your pick. I wouldn't hold her responsible if things didn't turn out like she'd predicted. After all, she wasn't God.

Just a messenger from God. I learned to take my nursing advice with a grain of salt. To seek out the angels of the long-term battlefield, and to run from the others.

Have you encountered nurses who helped--or hindered--your decision-making in regard to your parent's care?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Eldercare Moving Tip: Corral Your Kin to Get the Job Done

Your to-do list stretches to the sky. Why? Your parent is moving to retirement or assisted living. But how will it to happen?

A few days ago two siblings and spouses sat at my table. Their 85-year-old mother was lonely and wasn't eating. Her income was low. Our affordable retirement community worked for her. But Mom hesitated. Subject to Mom's approval, the siblings set the date and "the team" sprung into action.

"Be sure to take Mom to Social Security within the next few days to get her benefit letter," one daughter said to a brother-in-law.

The group started assigning tasks including:

1. Financial paperwork--one daughter with expertise tackled the job

2. The "talk" with Mom and subsequent tour and lunch--a son and son-in-law decided Mom might feel "ganged up on" if the whole group met with her. Their approach worked and Mom got on board.

3. A main contact and a back-up for me during the process--two siblings gave me business cards. As the financial approval process moved forward, or if I needed additional information, I emailed them.

4. Move-day organization--one son-in-law took on the job, contacting grandchildren about availability of strong, healthy young adults.

5. Change-of-address forms, shut-off utility notices, and television and telephone installation--another sibling said "yes" to the job.

This doesn't include all the tasks, but you get the idea. The process of "Divide and Conquer" is working. My first and second contacts are keeping in touch, and I with them. Things are getting done, and people are talking.

Best of all, Mom is warming up to the idea. Her move date is set for November 19.

But what happens when you're all alone helping your parent or parents move? How do you tackle that huge job? Good question. If you have some answers, please share. I'll also treat that subject in a future post.
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