4 Tips For Spotting the Early Signs of Dementia

Dementia is a collection of symptoms that can occur due to a variety of possible diseases like Alzheimer’s. It is not an easy disease for the patient nor the family of the one who is affected. Sometimes it is unclear of what to expect with such a disease which can be troubling for family members in caring for their loved one. A key question is therefore how to spot the early signs of dementia?

Early signs of dementia - old man holding a ball. Lady next to him comforting him.

How do you spot the early signs of dementia?

Take a look at this signs of dementia infographic because it gives you some insight as to how the disease will progress and will help you to determine what steps you need to take in caring for your family member.

In addition, this article will highlight some tips for spotting the early signs of dementia in your elderly family members.

Early signs of dementia

Trouble in Communicating

All of us sometimes find it hard to communicate our feelings and desires to people we like or express our views at a new place of work, but this is because we are not familiar with the environment or a little bit afraid. This is not the same with dementia.

People showing early signs of dementia find it hard to communicate even with their families. It becomes hard for them to find words to communicate their thoughts. They keep on repeat themselves without even noticing it. Having a conversation with them might take longer than usual since they are having trouble finding words to communicate and are struggling to have a coherent conversation with you.

Memory Loss

In the early stages of dementia, the sufferer experiences memory loss, mostly the short-term memory. They forget very small details and conversations they just had a few minutes earlier. They may also forget important events and occasions like weddings and birthdays.

Memory loss may also involve forgetting the faces and voices of familiar faces, for example, those of friends or neighbours.

The sufferer may find their loss of memory deeply embarrassing because it makes them look inefficient. For example, they may not be able to remember why they came to see you or why they entered a certain room at a particular time. They may also forget what they wanted to say or how to do a certain thing that they could before.

Difficulty With Tasks

This is where the sufferer finds simple tasks that require organization and planning very difficult and this might be tasks that they were able to do before. For example, they may find the game of chess very difficult since it has a lot of rules. They may have been good at it before but they, later on, find the game extremely difficult.

Not only do they find small tasks impossible but they also lose interest in their hobbies and talents they had. They find activities that comprise of going out and having fun not as interesting as they should be.

The ability to learn new things generally becomes slower than usual. They will need to use more time to learn a new concept and sometimes they might not understand it at all. This will also affect their association with the people around them.

They also find routines hard to follow and if they can’t adjust it will be hard to do some tasks.

Early signs of dementia. Dementia spelled out in scrabble tiles

Photo credit: Nick Youngson http://nyphotographic.com/

Behaviour and Mood Changes

When a person starts to show sign of dementia they start having rapid moods swings and personality changes. For example, an outgoing person becomes oddly shy. They may show signs of apathy, withdrawal or depression.

Dementia can be a troublesome disease and it will progress at a different rate for each person. If you can spot some of the symptoms early on, you can act accordingly and help your loved one as best you can through this troublesome time.

For further information contact Dementia UK.

How To Find Honest Reports On Care Homes In England

We all know how important it is for the quality of health and social care to be monitored at all times.

So today we’re going to look at what the Care Quality Commission (CQC) does in England, and how they’re an essential source of information for anyone deciding which care homes to approach. Note: in Wales the relevant body is the Care and Social Services Inspectorate.

In an earlier post, we looked at ‘How To Talk To Ageing Parents About Retirement Living & Care’, so here we’re going to look a little further in-depth regarding how to source information.

A good point here before we get started, is that it’s ideal if you can do this type of research together with the person who is considering moving. Although this may not always be possible, if it is, it’s a good way to help develop further trust with your family member.

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Helping you decide

The Care Quality Commission provide us with an independent service, that has easily accessible information on health and social care groups across England.

They provide an essential transparency when it comes to the standard of care being provided, and most importantly: their findings are always published.

From here you can view and download the entirety of their inspector’s report, and or just review how the service has rated across five main categories which are:

Safety
Effectiveness
Care
Responsiveness
Service leadership

These categories are then rated on four levels – “outstanding”, “good”, “requires improvement” and inadequate. There is also a fifth ‘no rating/under appeal/rating suspended’ level, if the inspection is under review.

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Informative and honest

The regulator covers a wide range of care homes, from those that have been running for many years, to those who are more recently established, like Porthaven, who have been providing care since 2010.

In cases like this, the care home group work together with the Care Quality Commission, even providing details on the accountable people from the inspections, so it’s easy to reference names and possible contacts.

In touch with NHS practices

Another important part of what the CQC does is link their inspections with current trends in NHS trusts.

Their 2016 report on these services, called: Learning, candour, and accountability, provides an excellent insight into how thorough their approach is when it comes to relaying objective, and unbiased reports.

Two elderly men shaking hands
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Face to face advice

If you’re considering any type of health care, there can often be many questions that you’d rather just ask in person. However, many of us are familiar with how this can be easier said than done.

The CQC understands this well, and provides an extensive list of local groups that you can get in touch with, as well as the further option to join their online community, depending on which ways you find it most convenient to communicate.

So the good news is that it’s now easy to source a range of information on a care home, from the service themselves, as well as the people who inspect their work.

This can help to create peace of mind when it comes to making important decisions with your loved ones, and getting the most balanced point of view.

New Scheme Aims To Protect People With Dementia From Financial Scams

A new initiative has been launched across three local authority areas in Scotland to protect residents living with dementia from predatory financial fraudsters.

And, if the project succeeds, we can only hope that it is rolled out across the UK to protect the elderly and people with Dementia from the ever growing blight of financial scamming.

£405,000 has been awarded to East Renfrewshire, Angus and South Ayrshire local authorities, to work together to develop a preventative approach to protect people with dementia from financial exploitation.

People living with dementia are at great risk of falling prey to scammers and carers are often very worried about how to prevent their relative becoming a victim of a scam, particularly in the early stages of dementia when a person still has capacity but may not always have sufficient understanding to exercise good judgement.

Figures issued by Citizen’s Advice in 2014 showed that the most common type of scam takes place via telephone (34%) whilst almost a quarter took place on the internet (24%). 16% came through letters and one in ten scams were via email. Other types of scam include face-to-face visits, i.e. doorstep crime.

The aim of the project is to offer people with dementia an individualised, person-centred package to safeguard them from financial exploitation, on the doorstep, by telephone, by mail or online.

Each of the local authority areas involved will bring together local and national organisations to develop and deliver a package of preventive measures, including practical solutions and various types of useful technology, for example, call blockers.

Call blockers screen incoming phone calls and either block any unknown or unauthorised numbers or transfer them to a nominated family member or guardian.

The scheme aims to help residents with dementia live safely and independently in their own homes without worrying about being bombarded with confusing and intimidating calls or unsolicited doorstep cold callers.

Hands of an old lady playing the piano

This new initiative will also reduce the rate of financial loss and personal harm experienced as a result of scams.

Peter, whose mother received a call blocker as a resident in East Renfrewshire said, “When my mother came home after a stay in hospital, she had severe anxiety levels. Unfortunately, during the day when we weren’t there, she received numerous calls on a daily basis, from a variety of traders, from PPI people, from insurance companies and from banks. She became confused and anxious. She didn’t know whether she had passed over money and we were terrified that she was going to pass on large amounts of money to potentially rogue traders.

“What transformed things for us was the introduction of the Call Blocker from the prevention team from East Renfrewshire Council. I cannot overstate the dramatic difference this made to my mother. She was calm and she was relaxed. This has resulted in my mother being able to live independently, on her own, for the last four years.

“It has also transformed myself and my sister’s lives. Rather than having to deal on a daily basis with a crisis, we now have no crisis to deal with. We can track who is calling my mother, and where there is legitimate people calling, they have the option of whether to call myself or my sister. Quite frankly, my mother’s happy, we’re delighted and we can support her in putting her energies into making her life as pleasant as possible.”

Something we would all want for our elderly relatives. Here’s hoping the scheme puts pay to the callous and heartless scammers who target them.

Expert advice for supporting people in their senior years

I’ve written a lot lately about how best to care for our loved ones in their later years. We all know that old age brings with it great wisdom and experience, but it can also encroach on people’s much valued independence.

I’ve come across these great tips from Betterlife from LloydsPharmacy Independent Living Expert, Michael Sandland, who has some great advice about how best to help your loved ones remain independent in their senior years.

Encourage older people to stay socially connected

As social beings, it’s important to stay socially engaged to help avoid isolation, and this rings especially true for those in their advanced years. Building and maintaining relationships is important for mental wellbeing and has also been shown to aid physical wellbeing.

There’s some easy ways to encourage older people to stay social. For example, introducing a hobby such as yoga is a sociable way to stay fit or keeping in touch via FaceTime is more interesting than a simple phone call. Attending classes means your loved one will quickly make friends and have a routine social engagement. Alternatively, volunteering in local charity shops can be a great way for relatives to socialise with people from all walks of life.

Getting out and about for everyday tasks

Whilst internet shopping can put your mind at ease when considering older relatives during the cold and icy winter months, wherever possible it’s best to encourage your loved ones to get out and about. Popping to the shops for a pint of milk, going on the hunt for a family birthday present or dropping into the bank, going to the shops is an important part of staying active. Completing such tasks can be a challenge for those who struggle with mobility so it can be a good idea to recommend a mobility scooter. These can be a good solution to reduce strain and ensure users get to their destination comfortably. Check out the full range here: http://www.betterlifehealthcare.com/browse/mobility-scooters/


Support your elders in adapting their home 

As people grow older their home needs to adapt to ensure it remains safe and accessible. Indeed, one thing you will often hear older people say is that they don’t want to move into a care home and independence can be prolonged with clever technology and living solutions. For example, specialised adjustable beds, jar openers and big button telephones can do wonders for keeping people independent in their own home. Try visiting the Betterlife website for at home living solutions: http://www.betterlifehealthcare.com/

Staying fit and keeping minds active

Physical and mental agility is crucial to staying independent and there’s lots of ways to keep the mind and body fit as older people age. Whether it’s a daily Sudoku or watching Countdown with your loved ones, all these mind gym activities help to keep the brain sharp. Exercise classes for older people can be found at most town halls or local gyms to stay active.

Be mindful when offering support 

Providing assistance for older people comes naturally to carers but it’s important to frame the offer in the right way. Whether it’s helping older people navigate the internet or offering support with physical tasks, there are lots of ways you can make a difference to someone’s life. However it can be tough for elderly people to accept help after years of independence. When offering assistance avoid dictating and frame the support in a positive way. For example, if you are concerned about an elderly relative driving a car, maybe suggest they invest in a mobility scooter which is road legal. This will ensure they keep their independence and remain safe.

Let’s Encourage Older People To Keep Learning And Get Them #BreakingBarriers

By 2050, 15.6% of the global population will be older than 65.

That’s a staggering statistic which has huge implications for how we treat our elderly people, for our healthcare services, our pensions and, arguably, the structure of society.

Age shouldn’t stop older people from pursuing new hobbies

We are all aware of the double edged sword that is saving for a pension at a time when, although we understand the reasoning behind providing for our old age, the performance of many pension funds is so woeful many of us are relying on the Government to fund our retirement.

And when we do retire, given that we are all living longer, what are we going to do with our time – assuming we are lucky enough to have reasonable health and mobility?

I am 52 and already I can sense that the tide has turned in terms of job opportunities for my age group.  And it’s ridiculous. All that knowledge, expertise, training and honest-to-goodness street smarts often put out to grass when a bit of creative management would allow younger and older workers to buddy up, share responsibilities and learn from each other.

As a society, we really need to change our attitude to older people and the elderly themselves (even that word seems inappropriate) need to be encouraged to keep learning, developing and growing without fear of censure from younger generations.

Just because an older person may have mobility issues or require some adaptation to their living quarters such as a walk-in bath or safety rails, it does not mean that their brain is not as quick and agile as it always was.

After all, we are making huge strides in our battle against diseases such as cancer and are learning more and more about how we may better treat and prevent diseases such as dementia, strokes and heart disease.

Our chances of living to a ripe old age are increasing daily and even if we do face mobility challenges, there is a whole industry which has sprung up with innovative products to help us cope.

Of particular importance is helping our older people to remain socially active and a part of their local community.

Bathing Solutions, who specialise in mobility bathrooms are running a brilliant campaign for elderly people called #BreakingBarriers.

The campaign aims to change the perception many of us have about older people by encouraging them to break the social barriers that often face them by learning new skills.

Bathroom Solutions are encouraging older people to learn the importance of #BreakingBarriers

It’s encouraging how many older people are getting online, Skyping and using Facebook.  There is a whole range of hobbies or skills they can take up and Bathing Solutions’ Breaking Barriers campaign page has links to great resources for some of these such as knitting, Pilates, learning a new language, learning to speed read and cooking like Mary Berry (I need that one!).

The campaign page also allows you to search for courses on your chosen interest in your local community, perhaps in DIY & Practical Skills, Photography or Horticulture & Floristry.

My parents are 77 and they both enjoy their weekly art class.  It’s not just the painting they love, but the social interaction and friendships they have made across a range of age groups.

We know that loneliness kills – literally – and it’s so important for our elderly to continue to be fully participating members of our society because they still have so much to give.

We really need to ensure that our senior citizens keep #BreakingBarriers.

Find out more at www.bathingsolutions.co.uk/breakingbarriers/

*This is a collaborative post.

Tips For Caring For Elderly Relatives At Home

Caring for elderly relatives isn’t always easy and I recently wrote about the challenges of caring for your elderly parents while they still live at home. Just recently this has become a little more important to us due to the fact that Mum has had rather a patchy year of it so far, health-wise.

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My parents are in their late 70s and still fully mobile and I have to say that I would far prefer to look after them at home for as long as possible before considering residential care.

But I am increasingly aware that, for them to live at home in comfort and safety, we will eventually have to make some changes to their house.

It’s amazing what you have to think of when it comes to avoiding accidents – for example, my parents have had to swop to a cool wall toaster in case Mum touches it when she is unwell.  (She suffers from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy).

Then there are things like installing a handrail alongside the steps which lead down to their house and another to help them to walk down their sloping drive which is treacherous in icy weather.

Eventually, we may have to consider adapting their bathroom to include a walk-in bath or shower when Dad is no longer able to lift Mum or creating a wet room.

I’m sure many of you will identify with the difficult line we have to tread between offering advice and help and being seen to ‘take over’ or dent our elderly relatives’ pride.

It has taken Dad a while to be able to openly admit that having help sometimes is nice and he is much better at asking for help and sharing his worries with my sister Sarah and I.

But I find I often sound like I am nagging these days if I ask if they’ve had the heating on (the house is often like an igloo) or whether they are eating enough.

Caring for elderly relatives at home – what you can do to help

One of the things I am able to do is to invite them around to ours (we live literally a 10-minute walk away) for lunch to feed them up.

I think it is really important to maintain regular contact with your elderly relatives.  I find it heartbreaking when I read of old people who are in residential care yet receive no visitors. Their loneliness must be terrible.

My lovely mum

There are things we can do to help out – as long as we offer this help as tactfully as possible and gauge whether we are hurting feelings.  It’s all about open and honest communication.

Here are some suggestions you could do if, like me, you’re in that delicate position of recognising that a bit more help is needed, whilst not wanting to tread on toes.

I am, however, in the lucky position of living close by and with both parents currently able to look after one another.

For example:-

– invite them for meals

– batch cook at home (soups, stews, pasta dishes) and pop a few portions round in airtight containers to put in their freezer

– buy larger amounts of fruit and veg and let them have the surplus (very easy if you are a member of a cash and carry, such as Costco)

– offer to drive them to town once a week or to their supermarket to do the weekly shop

– carry out simple gardening tasks (hedge trimming, weeding, planting some perennials or herbs in pots).

– arrange for the laundering of big items such as blankets or duvets or take items to the dry cleaners

– wash the windows

– clean the house, even if it’s just whizzing around with a vacuum.

– do their ironing

This is all basic stuff and I’m sure you will have many ideas of your own. The tricky part might be getting your elderly relatives to agree to let you help out with some of these!

If you live far away from your parents or elderly relatives, you may be relying on a paid carer or assistance from Social Services and your hands may well be tied in terms of what you can do to help – in which case an honest conversation with your elderly relatives might be the best way to see whether they are coping.

There is always something that can be done to help with the added bonus that knowing our elderly relatives are being looked after and their stress minimised makes both their and our lives, just that little bit less stressful.

After all, I don’t know about you but caring for elderly relatives at home if you can seems to be far preferable to residential care.

Caring For Elderly Parents When They Still Live At Home

Caring for elderly parents at home can be a challenge and a difficult balancing act between ensuring they are comfortable and well cared for while helping them to maintain their independence. It’s only natural that they want to stay in the home they love, surrounded by all the things that have become so familiar to them over the years.

Sometimes though, there comes a point where more frequent medical care is needed and, if your parents are to stay at home, adaptations inside the building will be needed as well as a change to everybody’s daily routine. The only thing you can do is respect their decision to stay put and try and care for them as effectively as possible.

caring for elderly parents at home - old person's hands
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Doing that while you live in a separate house is never easy. In fact, it is a difficult process full of stress and jangled nerves. It can really test the relationship between siblings too, particularly if you are the nearest one and the one who is usually left to sort out medical emergencies and home care.

How to make caring for elderly parents at home easier

Modify Their House

One thing you should strongly suggest is that their house is modified to meet their physical needs. This may be a compromise your parents may resist at first because it means admitting that they are no longer coping as well as they used to.

Tact and diplomacy are key but hopefully, they will see that a stairlift or an adapted bathroom will improve their quality of life and reduce the risk of injury. When you visit sites like www.terrylifts.co.uk, you can get an idea of the options open to you depending on the type of home your parents live in. There are all sorts of lifts and platforms for adapted homes, some of which may well be in your budget.

caring for elderly parents at home - stairlift
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Regular Visits 

Even with these home adaptations, there is still the risk of a trip or a fall – particularly in bad weather and icy conditions. Checking up on your parents more frequently will be needed to ensure that everything is fine.  If your parents are anything like mine (both of whom are almost 80), they may well ‘forget’ to tell you about any minor accidents because they don’t want to worry you.  Unfortunately, that really doesn’t help you or them!

If you visit them on a regular basis, you will be there for them when they need you the most. Plus, you can take the strain off their shoulders and make their everyday life easier. For example, you can bring them their groceries so that they don’t have to leave the house. Little things like that reduce the need for them to take risks which lead to injury.

Split Duties 

Still, you can’t do everything on your own because you are only one person. And, you have a family and a life to live too. If you have siblings who live nearby, you need to make sure that they pull their weight when it comes to caring for your parents. It’s more difficult if they live miles away and, as I mentioned, open and honest communication will be needed so that everyone is included in any decision making and everyone can share the responsibility of caring for your parents.

Local family members could create plans so that they have every day covered. For example, you can see them on Mondays and Wednesdays, and your siblings split the rest of the week.

caring for elderly parents at home - old gentleman in wheelchair
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Hire A Carer

Sometimes, caring for your parents is too much even with the help of the whole family. After all, your family doesn’t slow down just because your mum and dad are getting on a bit.

Chat with your doctor and your local social services department for advice.  Age UK is also a fantastic source of advice, particularly when it comes to things like the carer’s allowance.  If you are caring for your parents yourself, you may be entitled to this government benefit if you are looking after them for more than 35 hours per week.

You may also want to consider hiring a carer, a trained professional who will visit your parents’ home on a regular basis. This link will provide you with more information www.agingcare.com. A good caregiver will make everyone’s life much easier. If you are worried about the money, you can get a grant or a government loan to subsidise the cost.

caring for elderly parents at home - nurse and old gentleman
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Move In With Them 

If things get worse and your parents are struggling to live independently and you still don’t want to consider a care home, then you may either need to move in with them or have them move in with you. Of course, this is only a viable option if your, or your parents’ house is big enough.

The kids might not like it, and your partner might feel the same, but they will understand. I know that if need be, I would prefer to have my parents living in our family home rather than relocate to a care home and I would be happy to do the same for the husband’s parents.

This does all, of course, depend on the medical needs of your parents. Some medical conditions will need a level of medical care you may just not be qualified to give – whether professionally, physically or, to be honest, emotionally.

It’s a sensitive topic and the feelings and needs of everyone involved will need to be taken into account.

Create An Emergency Plan 

It’s sod’s law that accidents tend to happen when you aren’t around – and you just can’t be there for them all of the time. When accidents do happen, you need a plan of action.

Everyone needs to know their job and what they should do if possible. For example, you should tell your parents they need to ring an ambulance and then ring you straight away. Or, tell them to press the emergency button (see modify home) to alert the emergency services. A plan is vital because it can be the difference between life and death.

caring for elderly parents at home - ambulance
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Suggest They Consider Moving 

There may come a point where medical professionals or social services will have to get involved because your parents’ physical condition has deteriorated to the point where neither they nor you, can cope.

It isn’t an easy conversation to have but it may fall to you to gently suggest that a permanent relocation is needed. No one wants to force their parents into a decision, but you may need to be assertive. They need to know that caring for them while they are at home alone isn’t feasible anymore.

They need to understand that they need permanent help so that you can get them the care they deserve. This may not necessarily mean a care home. Sometimes, assisted living quarters are available which offer a mix of independence and around the clock care.

caring for elderly parents at home - old people in a care home
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Caring for elderly parents is never easy, but you have to do what is best for their health and, at the end of the day, for yours.




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Choosing A Care Home – Top Considerations

Moving your relative into a care home is never an easy decision to make. But sometimes there is no other option – particularly where ill-health is concerned. Here are the considerations that should be in the forefront of your mind if you are going through the process of choosing a care home.

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Things to think about when choosing a care home for your loved one

Staff

The staff members that work in a care home are the people who your relative will come into contact with each day. You will get a chance to meet them and see them in action when you visit a care home, and this will probably influence your decision massively.

No one wants to move their relative into a place that is staffed by people who are unhelpful or cruel. You should do research and read reports that often judge staffing performances on them. You want to make sure that you are not going to have any problems with the staff and their behaviour later on down the line.

Facilities

The facilities that are offered in the home are also very important. This is what most people focus on when they are looking for a place for their relative. It needs to have the right care and medical facilities that meet your relative’s specific health needs and requirements. And you should also ask to see the private living quarters where your relative will be living.

It’s not all about what’s on the inside though. Care home providers like H C Care Homes also focus on the outdoors. Elderly people like to be able to get out and spend time outside of the care home. So, it’s good to move them into somewhere with large green spaces.

Cost

Unfortunately, very few of us are able to simply move our relatives into the very best care homes. And that’s because the very best care homes come with a pretty large price tag attached to them. The costs are never cheap, and it’s up to you to weigh up the pros that the care home offers with the costs.

Of course, there are many cheaper options out there that still offer a high-quality service. It’s not always the case that the most expensive places have the happiest residents. You should make a shortlist of places and then compare the prices of them all. You probably won’t be able to afford them all, so compromise will be necessary.

Your Relative’s Preference

Obviously, all cases are different. But if your relative is in need of specialist care but is still able to take part in the decision-making process, they should have a say. It’s them that will be affected by the decision that is made, so it’s only fair that they have a say in the place where they will end up.

They should be with you every step of the way when you are weighing up all the options. They should meet staff members, view the facilities and do everything else mentioned above.

Before you even start to view the options, you should talk to them about what they want to get out of a care home. Then you can take it from there.

Sites like Paying For Care offer more information on care home costs.

How To Talk To Ageing Parents About Retirement Living & Care

Talking to your parents about how they wish to live and be cared for during their retirement is vital.  Taking care of our parents is something for which many, but not all of us, are happy to take responsibility.

You understandably want to respect their wishes and make the later years in their lives as comfortable as possible. But that doesn’t mean that this is an easy conversation to have.

taking care of our parents - elderly couple sat together by a lake at sunset

Some parents may not like the role reversal and some children may find it upsetting to talk about.

While it may be difficult, it’s essential that you take the time to do it now rather than later. To give you some much-needed advice, use the suggestions in this guide to help you.

Be patient and understanding 

The best way of starting a conversation as important as this is by being honest.

Let your parents know that you are concerned about their health and well-being and want to help them get organised.

You may find they have made some initial plans or know how they want to be cared for or where they want to live. But you may also find that they are not currently willing to discuss it.

Be patient and don’t be too forceful. Remember that this is a sensitive issue for them too.

But now that you have set the ball rolling, it may make them realise they need to make necessary preparations. So don’t give up, but be gentle and understanding in your approach.

Know where their important documents are kept

Another way of starting the conversation is by asking where their documentation is kept. This should include wills, insurance details and their doctor’s contact number.

Explain that it’s important for you to know where they are kept, just in case they are in an accident or become ill.

This can give you the perfect opportunity to determine what has been arranged and what hasn’t.

For instance, you may find that your parents’ wills are no longer relevant and need to be updated. You can then suggest helping them get everything up to date and prepared.

This should then naturally start the discussion of how they want to spend their later years.

Grandmother and Granddaughter - Retirement Living - motherdistracted.co.uk

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Talk through their options

Some elderly parents may not want to talk about retirement living and care because they don’t know what options are available to them. So visit informative sites like Churchill Retirement and show them the facilities and homes that are available.

Or you could call care providers who could visit them at home each day or organise a consultation face to face.

Gather plenty of information and talk through all of the options with them. They will appreciate the trouble you have gone to and the research will help them make a more informed decision.

Ask them what they would like and listen carefully to their answers. Even if it’s not the answer you want to here, again remember to be patient.

Whether it’s health issues, financial concerns or living needs, it’s always better to talk while your parents are still able.

That way you can help them make the necessary arrangements that will make their lives easier and more enjoyable as they get older.

Taking care of our parents can be done with love, tact and consideration if approached the right way.

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Elderly Parents – How To Show Them You Care

Busy lives and older parents are not always a match made in heaven and caring for elderly parents can certainly be a challenge, even if you are all still leading separate lives.

We all love our mums and dads but finding the time to share in their lives and support and help can be a challenge. However, our parents deserve to retire and grow old happily and peacefully.

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Ways to care for your elderly parents

With this in mind, here are some ways you can help with this, and show them how much you care.

Phone them for a chat

Finding time to sit and listen, even a regular phone call can brighten a day. It doesn’t have to be for long, just so they can hear your voice and share their day to day routine.

My mum used to call grandad every Sunday without fail and even though there was seldom any great news to impart, both she and grandad used to get great comfort from these calls.

Do their shopping 

Getting out and about can be a chore as you get older. Why not ask for a shopping list and do this alongside your weekly shop? Even better find time to take them out on a trip to the shops. You are going anyway so share your time!

If your parents have got to grips with a PC or laptop, help them to do their shopping online. Personally, I feel getting out of the house is far more beneficial though, from the point of view of health and social contact.

Our local older people’s charity has a minibus which takes the elderly to the local supermarket once a week so they can do their shopping and also connect with others over a coffee.  Studies show that loneliness is a major threat to health – at all ages.

Hire live in care 

There will come a time when your parents may be ready for live-in care. Live in care is a fantastic way of offering help to your parents in their older years. Be prepared. Do your homework. Word of mouth is invaluable. Visit different places both with your parents and on your own. Compile a list of questions.

Talk to charities such as Age UK. They will have a wealth of information and plenty of support for both you and your parents, including financial support.

Take them for a treat 

We all love to be pampered, why not organise for a regular chiropodist to visit them at home. Even a reflexology session can have huge benefits. A mobile hairdresser could be also be organised, and they could do fortnightly or monthly visits. What better way to give your mum a treat and a boost to her confidence and wellbeing? Dad too!

Find them new friends

Help in the hunt for new people to spend quality time with. This might be finding local community services or centres so they can meet friends. Together they can enjoy a meal or play some bingo. Once they’ve met, you could arrange for them to enjoy a classy afternoon tea together!

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Take them to meet distant friends or family

Our mobility decreases as we get old. Just as getting out for shopping can be hard work, so can be visiting people. Make it so your parents can still see their loved ones by taking them yourself. Make a weekend of it and stay the night. This will help break up the journey. Your parents are sure to really appreciate the effort you’ve put in. They’ll make some special memories too.

Give them your kids for the afternoon 

Your parents looked after little kids once with you! Chances are, they’ll want to try it again. Hand over your kids for the afternoon and let them play. Be sure, though, that they are up to coping with the demands of children these days – and that they don’t feel they are just being roped in for some free babysitting.

You could try to organise a big family holiday but if your parents are anything like mine, you may struggle to get the idea accepted.  People rarely want to feel as if they’re a burden or a charity case – even if you and your family would love to take them along.  Some delicate negotiation might be called for.

If you do manage to persuade them, though, the whole family will enjoy spending time together and making some lasting memories away from the stresses and strains of daily life and the challenges of healthcare and mobility problems.

Those of us who are caring for children and elderly parents know only too well what a fine line must be walked to avoid hurt feelings whilst ensuring proper care is available.

It isn’t always easy but having open and frank conversations can only benefit not only you but your parents too.

On Waiting For An Ambulance

Yesterday.  Early morning and Dad is on the phone.

I think your Mum has had a stroke he says.

I throw on my clothes and race round to their house, a few lucky minutes away.

It is 9:30 am. An ambulance has been called for.

My mum Kay - caring for elderly parents - motherdistracted.co.uk
My lovely mum, Kay

Mum suffers from a condition called Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and, occasionally she has a major fit which ends up with her being hospitalised so that she can get the right medication.

This time she looks much worse than usual.  She is lying in bed, eyes wide open, just staring at the ceiling.

I caress her hair and say “Hi Mum” but she doesn’t respond.

“Dad,” I say, “If this is a stroke, perhaps you should give them a call again?”

When our parents are elderly and we are not spring chickens ourselves, it is especially difficult to remain tactful whilst ensuring that the best outcome is reached for everyone.

Every word is monitored.  Each expression goes through a kind of internal quality control whilst we ourselves are fighting to quell our own panic.

The minutiae of life seem suddenly massive.  That cup of tea, clearing away the breakfast things, packing the bag for hospital.

Nothing can be found.  Nothing is in its right place.  Dad can’t remember where he’s put his glasses, his watch, the phone.

And despite this rushing around to find stuff, time seems to slow right down.

The waiting.  The interminable waiting.

We circle around each other, checking Mum every few minutes or so.  Her eyes won’t close.  Her breathing is laboured.

We phone again and are given a set of questions and tasks to complete to check Mum’s responses. She does not seem to be able to see but she can clearly hear and grip our hands.

At the end of the call we are asked to listen to a recorded set of instructions which seems to be never-ending.  Don’t move the patient if they have fallen.  Watch the patient to make sure their condition does not deteriorate.  And on and on.

I don’t want to listen to the recording.  I want Mum to be with someone who can actually DO something to help her.

There is nothing we can do to make her more comfortable.

I make more tea.

The ambulance service says an ambulance is ‘on the way’ but no they cannot give us a time frame – despite the fact that I thought they still have set response time targets to meet.  It is, they tell us, a very busy morning for the ambulance service in the Cardiff area.

Dad takes his tablets.  I phone the Husband to update him.

The front door is open so that the crew can come straight in.

I ponder that I wish I had some sort of medical training.  You feel so useless, don’t you?

And I watch Dad, who has been married to Mum for 53 years fighting his fear of a separation which will be truly crushing.

Then there’s the ‘debate’ about telling my sister.

Dad is torn about whether to tell her and worry her.  Worried that she will get in her car and race down from the North too fast.

I tell him that he must tell her or she would never forgive him.

“I’ll tell her when we’re in hospital” he says.

The thing about being a long-term carer as Dad is, is that it is such hard work only total control of each and every detail of daily life makes it bearable.

Carers must walk the knife edge of copable-with and all-out-emergency and pray that today everything will be OK and that the next brush with trouble is weeks away.

Mum has had her condition since 1984 and Dad has spent the last 32 years learning about her condition, coping with it and caring for her.

There is no let up.  It’s a 24/7 job.  There are no obvious triggers, apart from stressful situations but, in a world which reduces daily to enable them both to cope, the smallest things can be deemed a stressful situation – going out to lunch,  family problems, even a tiny disagreement.

After two and a half hours the ambulance turns up.  Mum is taken to hospital.  Dad goes with her.

She is in safe hands.

We cannot be cross at the ambulance crew who are doing the best they can.

We do wonder about the pressure the NHS in Wales is under.

Mum spent the next 7 hours in a bed in A&E.  They had no pillows.  A pillow in A&E is “like gold-dust” Dad was told.

She is later moved to an Assessment Unit which is pleasant and clean.  The staff are kind and smiling.

I go back home to see the Husband and the kids, who I hug a little bit tighter.

They want to know what has happened to Nain and whether Taid is OK.

“I don’t understand it”, Ieuan says, “Nain was fine when we were there on Monday”.

And that’s the thing for those of us caring for elderly parents.  All our lives can change out of the blue.

That’s why I like to make the most of Christmas and any special family occasion.

Mum is now safely back at home, having been discharged just over 24 hours later.

We are thanking our lucky stars and so relieved to have her home.

But, with that long wait for the ambulance, it’s just as well that it wasn’t a stroke because the outcome could well have been one I really don’t want to think about.

Creating A Welcoming Care Home – 3 Crucial Decorating Points To Consider

Many of us ‘baby boomers’ find ourselves sandwiched neatly between caring for our children and caring for our elderly parents.  And, looming on the horizon is the possibility that we may one day have to make some emotionally difficult decisions about our parents’ long-term care.

An elderly couple walking - care home decoration - motherdistracted.co.uk

Nobody would want to live in a sterile, unwelcoming environment. Much can be done with clever decorating to create a place which fosters a feeling of security and comfort – and these are the type of places we would prefer our loved ones to inhabit when home care is no longer an option.

If you own a care home or any other type of residential home, the following tips are worth considering for the benefit of your residents and staff.

Creating a welcoming environment in your care home isn’t just about employing friendly, warm and dedicated staff; you also need to set the scene with well-considered decoration. Safety and hygiene need to play a part in the decision-making process when it comes to interior choices but that needn’t be at the expense of the aesthetic appeal of your care home. It’s important to get things right for the residents and staff who will spend a lot of time in the same areas every day and impress visitors to the premises to help your business stand out.

Here are a few crucial decorating points to consider…

Colour and light

You don’t need to be familiar with the seven chakras to engage in colour therapy to recognise that different colours can impact our moods. When you are choosing the colours of your walls, furniture and soft furnishings, this can help you make calculated choices to improve the daily experience of your residents. Yellow is a warm colour that is said to have positive connotations and research has found that it works to wake up the brain. Red, another warm colour can be associated with aggression and feelings of anger whereas pink is actually used within some prisons because it has been shown to lower confrontational behaviour.

The cooler colours of blue and green are said to have a calming impact upon our moods, but did you know that diners have been shown to eat fewer calories when eating in rooms where blue dominates? This is thought to be in part because of the low occurrence of blue foods in nature. This means the shade may not be an ideal choice for your dining room!

Colour charts - care home decoration - motherdistracted.co.uk
Choosing the right colour can make such a different to the atmosphere

It’s not just colour that can improve our mood, having a good presence of natural light is crucial in a care home where guests may not be able to go outdoors as much. Choose window dressings that allow light in while maintaining privacy and consider using bi-fold doors both externally and internally to allow light to flow throughout the building. There’s no need to stick with modern PVC if it doesn’t fit in with other elements of your design scheme, Creative Doors Direct have some nice oak options.

Choosing furniture

Ease of cleaning, comfort for guests and ability to withstand wear and tear; care home furniture needs to meet higher criterion than items used domestically. When selecting items such as armchairs you’ll need to consider breathability of the fabric, how easy it will be to remove spills and other stains for infection control purposes and whether the fabric will withstand constant cleaning too. Lookout for stain-resistant fabrics and designs that incorporate spaces for easy cleaning as well as mechanisms for helping individuals rise and lower themselves where needed.

Surfaces such as chests of drawers and tables should be sturdy and easy to wipe clean. Where possible, choose designs that are free from sharp corners too. For dementia sufferers, furniture items that allow visibility of items stored inside can be particularly helpful. Drawers with gaps that allow easy access and visibility of the contents and wardrobes without doors or with partial doors are good examples.

Finishing touches

It’s often not practical to allow residents to personalise lots of areas of the home, though many homes allow to residents bring their own duvet set or hang their own curtains along with displaying personal photographs and art. This can help residents to feel more at home and also plays an important part in retaining happy memories. Retro decorating takes this element to the next level. The term describes the practice of decorating areas in furniture, soft furnishings and wallpaper or paint styles that residents are familiar with from the past.

Bunch of flowers - care home decoration
Finishing touches can make all the difference

This type of environment is kept free from modern gadgets and might feature items such as old-style dial Bakelite telephone. Similarly, toilets may use the monochrome style design with black seats that have long been used in public spaces. Decorating in this way can help some dementia sufferers to feel more confident and comfortable in their surroundings, though it’s obviously tricky to strike a balance for residents born in different decades or in some instances, different countries.

Have you recently decorated a care home or another type of new business premises? What were your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them? I’d love to hear about your projects, so please share your tips!