Welcome ...

All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Make the choice to react differently to behaviors

by Jason Young, Aging with Grace, Ask the Expert

I am often asked to train nurses on how to deal with the aggressive behaviors of their patients. I always say, “There is nothing you can do.”. After I absorb the blank stare I am always sure to receive, I go on to explain that once a person has become aggressive, it is too late to apply techniques to keep aggression from occurring. Our effort should then be placed on learning how to better communicate with those having cognitive problems, and thus increase our ability to assess mild levels of agitation and minimize escalation of aggressive behavior after it has already begun.

The following are my, “Top 10 Ways To React Differently To Behaviors”. While the suggestions are often simple for caregivers to understand, the hard part is in getting the caregiver to make the choice to implement them into their routine. After reviewing my suggestions, please leave a comment with any way you are able to incorporate the skills into your own caregiving.

1. Patients cannot change their behavior. Change your reaction to the behavior.

2. Respect the patient while the patient is not respecting you.

3. Allow the patient adequate time to speak and respond.

4. Speak slowly and deliberately while aggression is occurring.

5. Speak in a non-threatening tone of voice and don’t threaten patient.

6. Expect disorientation and choose to orient patient during conversation.

7. Expect delusional thinking and choose to agree with patients beliefs.

8. Keep expectations realistic given the degree of impairment.

9. Repeat questions using the same wording when you are not being understood.

10. Convey love and affection through holding hands and providing praise.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From the Veteran Files: Finding More Help through the VA System

Home Improvement and Structural Alterations Program (HISA)

Under the Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) program, veterans with service-connected disabilities or veterans with nonservice-connected disabilities may receive assistance for any home improvement necessary in order to accommodate disability in the home. As a general rule these grants are typically provided to veterans who are receiving VA health care and who are service-connected disabled. Certain service-connected disabled veterans can receive a lifetime benefit of $4,200 for home improvement projects to aid with disability.

A clause in the eligibility statutes opens the door for veterans who are on Medicaid or receiving pension with aid and attendance or housebound ratings (commonly referred to as the VA Benefit for Aid & Attendance) to also receive these grants. Also very low income -- means tested veterans -- may also receive the grant.

Although they are reluctant to provide these grants to veterans who are not in the health-care system, the medical center HISA committee will do so if adequate documentation is provided to justify the grant.

Examples of what HISA WILL pay for:

* Allowing entrance or exit from veteran's home
* Improving access for use of essential lavatory and sanitary facilities
* Improving access to kitchen and bathroom counters
* Handrails
* Lowered Electrical outlets and switches
* Improving paths or driveways
*Improving plumbing/electrical work for dialysis patients

Examples of what HISA WILL NOT pay for:

* Walkways to exterior buildings
* Widening of driveways (in excess of a 7ft x 6ft area)
* Spa, hot tub or Jacuzzi
* Exterior decking (in excess of 8ft x 8ft)

The HISA program is available for both service-connected veterans and nonservice-connected veterans.

* Home improvement benefits up to $4,100 may be provided to service-connected veterans.
* Home improvement benefits up to $1,200 may be provided to nonservice-connected veterans.

To learn more, visit www.va.gov

Majority of Americans believe Alzheimer's Disease will be cured in their lifetime!

Fifty-four percent of Americans believe researchers will find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease in their lifetimes, according to a recent CBS News report, which also examines the latest clinical trials underway and Medicare costs associated with treating individuals with Alzheimer’s.

Caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease triples the average Medicare expenditure per person, reports CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook. Other highlights from his report, which also sources the Alzheimer’s Association:

■1 in 8 Americans over the age of 65 will eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease.
■Starting next year, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day.
■Over the next four decade, the number of individuals being treated for Alzheimer’s disease could triple; with 16 million being treated by 2050.
■Deaths from other causes such as heart disease and stroke have dropped in the last decade, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have risen by 47 percent.

Dr. LaPook also reports on the latest clinical trials. One drug being tested right now seeks to slow the brain’s production of amyloid, a “plaque” that slows synapse function in the brain and destroys brain tissue. Presently, about 50 drugs in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease are being tested in more than 100 clinical trials nationwide.

See the CBS News video, “Finding a Cure for Alzheimer’s.”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Words for Seniors Facing Loss

As the ranks of friends dwindle, many seniors grieve in private.

My father is a relentlessly upbeat guy. “Up and around!” he reports when I call. “Keeping busy!” He tells me about his volunteer work, his card game winnings, the (seated) yoga class he enrolled in at the library. His favorite refrain is, “I can’t complain”, says NY Times writer,Paula Span. Read more...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Are they ready?

by Patricia Grace

Do you ever ask yourself “what would my parents do in case of an earthquake, fire, snowstorm or terrorist attack?” If you answer, “I don’t know,” then it is time to get you and them ready.

Why plan for emergencies?
Emergencies can happen at any time, with our without warning. Having a plan can help keep your older loved ones safe whether the emergency is a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Think about the kinds of emergencies that may happen in their area…earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and how they will be notified about them.

Getting started…
To prepare them for any emergency they need to have certain important information such as:
• Driver’s License or other Photo ID
• Insurance Cards
• Utility bills
• Phone numbers for doctor, veterinarian, pharmacy
• Police & Fire Department phone numbers
• List of medications
• Instructions for medical devices and equipment
Once you have helped them gather this information record it in a booklet or on-line with the Aging with Grace Personal Health Record. Share this plan with at least two other people, but more importantly review it and update it as needed.

Ask a local as well as an out-of-town relative or friend to serve as their emergency contacts. If a disaster occurs, encourage them to call the out-of town contact first as it is often easier to call out of the affected area. The out of town person should be within a few hours driving distance.
Make sure to keep current contact information including cell phone and Skype numbers. Now might be a good time to introduce social networking to elderly family members. As current events have highlighted, sites like Twitter, Facebook and Skype can be lifelines to the outside and may be the only way to communicate with family.

Make a Plan
Identify three family members or friends that live close to your family member. Discuss any special needs the older person might have. Are they wheelchair or oxygen dependent, cognitively impaired, or diabetic, do they speak English? If so, how will these special needs be met?

Make an Emergency Kit
Collect important items that will help the elderly person to stay indoors in the event of an emergency. If an evacuation is required, a smaller version of the kit should go with them. The following are essential items:
• One gallon of water per person for 3 days
• Non-perishable food such as canned or packaged foods
• One change of clothes & footwear per person
• List of medications
• Flashlight with extra batteries
• Battery powered, hand-crank radio
• Hygiene items such as soap, toilet paper and toothbrush
• First aid basics such as band aids and antiseptic spray
Make sure all of this information is up-dated on their personal health record.

Stay Informed
Stress the importance of monitoring emergency channels and following all instructions. If they need to evacuate, plan for a place to meet directly outside the home as well as another location. Draw a plan or route on paper and if possible enter and store information on a GPS device. Discuss what it means to shelter in place. Review safest room, number of doors, windows, etc.

With all of the media attention surrounding the recent earthquakes, snow storms and mudslides now might be the right time to discuss this important issue with older family members.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Aging with Grace Partner Earns VA Accreditation to Assist Veterans

Aging with Grace is pleased to announce that cofounder & COO Rita Files has achieved the status of a Department of Veteran Affairs accredited representative with the National Veterans Organization of America. With this professional achievement Ms. Files will be able to prepare and present VA claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs, thus providing more hands on guidance for Veterans and their families seeking to apply for the Non-Service Connected Pension (commonly referred to as Aid & Attendance". Please join all of us at Aging with Grace in congratulating Rita for her hard work and dedication in educating elderly veterans and their families about this little known underutilized benefit that provides additional monthly income to supplement low income veterans and those with high monthly medical expenses. To learn more about Aging with Grace Veteran Benefits and Long Term Care Planning visit www.agingwithgrace.net.

Proud to serve those who served

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Setting boundries with our parents

The Other Talk by Shelley Webb, RN & founder of The Eldercare Support Group

We often hear about “having the talk” with our parents and when we do, it usually has to do with our parents needing help and finding a way to help them without overstepping their boundaries. But I believe there is another “big talk” that happens after a parent moves into your home or you move into their home to help them. I think this one may be even MORE difficult…at least, it was for me. This talk has to do with establishing OUR boundaries. Read more...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Advice for Adult Orphans

by Frances Shani Parker
More and more of my friends are becoming adult orphans. Many have one or no parents alive. Others are caregivers who will possibly become orphans in the near future. These suggestions can help adult orphans coping with life’s new reality:

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Helpful Resources

Low Vision Therapy Services

Children of Aging Parents (CAPS)

Well Spouse Association

U.S. Administration on Aging


Nursing Home Compare

Senior Safety Online

Mature Market Institute

Connections for Women

50Plus Realtor

Alzheimer's Speaks

Official VA Website