Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Attention Getters Got You?

This week my personal devotions have been about finding Him in that quiet place. It's so easy to be busy as a caregiver. It's often difficult to find time to be still and if you're anything like me, even if I get a minute to sit, then my mind is running full throttle with things I need to do as soon as I get up. Usually, if I do get a half of a chance to sit it's with pen and paper to make a new list of the most important things I've got to do today.

Just yesterday I found a phrase in Zechariah 1:11. The last bit of that verse said this: all the earth is resting quietly. That got me to thinking a lot about what that might look like. My thoughts tried to form a place, any place, that was totally resting quietly. I also looked deep in my own heart to see if I could find a spot in there that matched. Then, I thought about all the "things" we have going on constantly. There are so many things, often important things, vying for our attention 24/7. We have tv, radio, the internet, our "smart" phones, facebook and messenger dinging at us unceasingly. There really might not be a quiet second in our worlds from the time we get up in the morning until we hit the bed at night. Add to this culture the necessary actions that caregiving demands and you've got a day completely full of things that need to be done screaming for your attention.

I could not come up with an image in my very vivid imagination for all the earth is resting quietly. 

My thoughts then led me back to Psalm 46:10 - be still and know I am God. Can caregivers find a 10-second spot to just quiet our souls and be still before Him to acknowledge He is still our God? It can be very difficult to do, but when we do it is more than rewarding. It's in that quiet stillness that He meets us and reassures us that He has us in His hands. Even two or three seconds of total rest in Him can help us balance out our emotions and make the day.

Today, I'm going to purposefully work toward finding a stillness in myself where I can lean on Him. I'll meditate on the truth that He is still God and no situation or circumstance can ever change that. I'll acknowledge between me and Him that He's is still my God and I'm not looking for another. I'll quiet myself in the hectic culture of caregiving enough to find His peace and let it overtake me. Will you join me?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Between Me and Him

I had a whole lot on my heart this morning as I headed out the door for my early morning run. I told Siri to play "Bless the Lord Oh My Soul" by Matt Redman. As I ran, prayed and praised, I emptied my heavy heart out before Him. The roads I left my burdens on don't look any heavier for the wear, but my feet and heart became lighter as I abandoned my soul to Him in praise even in the midst of this storm.

As I prayed and cast off cares so He could carry them instead of me, I uncovered many pains that were hidden deep inside. Some were too difficult to express in words and I let my heart turn them loose as they fell into His. I thought, there are some things that will always just be between me and Him. Things I can't express...too deep for words. Some of the pain was so deep I couldn't even get my thoughts around it. I know I just let it go - suspended between my heart and His - forever.

Caregivers can tend to try to "fix" everything making it difficult to let go of them and trust them into another's hands. 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us to cast your anxieties, cares, worries, over onto Him - for He cares for you. In my mind, maybe just a broad, but practical application, I'd say we are to throw it all over into His hands - and let Him do the caring for us. 

Today, that is what I propose to do. Those deep feelings, inexpressable griefs, hidden sorrows - I'll turn loose of them and let them fall into His heart and hands so He can do it for me. I'll give Him those "just between me and Him" things to take care of for me. And I'll meditate on His goodness, his care for me, His compassion and greatness. Then, I will trust Him for just one more day - will you join me?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Caregiver's Guide to Home Modifications for Alzheimer's Patients


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A Caregiver's Guide to Home Modifications for Alzheimer's Patients

As a caregiver, you want to do everything possible to help a client or loved one with Alzheimer's. This includes modifying the patient's home with her medical needs in mind. In this post, we'll discuss the principles that should guide you when planning these alterations. Use this information when discussing the project with your remodeling contractor. Never attempt these modifications yourself unless you're sure of your skills and knowledge.

Three Ways Alzheimer's Disease Affects the Brain

Alzheimer's interferes with the mental processes involved with carrying out everyday tasks, according to the National Institute on Aging. Over time, these changes can produce the following symptoms in the sufferer:

  1. Forgetting how to perform basic tasks such as balancing a checkbook, driving a car, and taking care of personal hygiene needs.
  2. Feeling confused in formerly familiar environments, including the family home. Sufferers may forget which door leads to a particular room or where they keep common items such as a wallet or car keys.
  3. Becoming easily agitated, even towards people who have done nothing wrong. This is a symptom of a much deeper problem affecting the patient's sense of judgment and emotional balance.

Relieving these symptoms requires modifying the home in line with the following principles:

     Simplicity. The caregiver should minimize the steps the patient needs to complete an action. For example, in the past, the sufferer may have had to go upstairs and turn two corners to reach her bedroom. Going forward, it may be best to relocate the patient's sleeping quarters to the primary floor and to use a room directly across from the main living area.
     Usability. Visual cues such as signs and directional arrows can help compensate for failing memory. One suggestion is to use signs that feature graphics rather than text. If written messages are employed, then choose short words and plain language.
     Safety. Removing knobs from the stove, locking cabinets that contain household cleaners, and monitoring access to exits are all prudent measures.

Now let's look at modifications for specific rooms.

Bathrooms

Remodeling a bathroom can be a reasonable investment when compared to the benefits the changes may provide for the patient. Save yourself time and stress by hiring a professional to complete the job. Check online to find professionals in your area. Here are some of the steps typically taken for Alzheimer's sufferers:

     Installing slip-resistant floor tiling and grab bars.
     Changing the existing bathtub or shower stall to a walk-in design.
     Modifying the toilet to accommodate a wheelchair-bound person.

The Kitchen

We've already mentioned removing knobs from the stove. Other possible modifications include:

     Lowering the height of the sink and surrounding area for ease of access from a wheelchair.
     Replacing existing cabinet knobs with more ergonomic options.
     Installing a lock on the refrigerator to prevent unhealthy binge eating.

Bedrooms

Possible modifications include:

     Lowering mattress height for ease of access from a wheelchair.
     Adding an adjacent restroom.
     Installing added lighting fixtures to compensate for reduced visual acuity.

Steps to Take as the Condition Progresses:

Other changes that may become advisable over time include:

     Covering steam radiators to prevent accidental burns.
     Installing video cameras at key points throughout the home.
     Adding handrails to hallways.
     Removing area rugs and other potential trip hazards.
     Installing a hospital-style bed when the patient is no longer ambulatory.


Alzheimer's is a complicated disease. The measures needed to accommodate its symptoms are equally complex. The information in this post is a good starting point for addressing these issues. We recommend consulting with the patient's healthcare provider or caseworker before completing any of the modifications mentioned herein. We wish you and your client or loved one all the best as you face the future together.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Things to Do Now to Make Assisted Living More Affordable


The costs of assisted living or nursing home care can be extremely high. They often run around $3,000 per month, but some of the more expensive and inclusive options can cost over $6,000 per month. You might need assisted living, but you might not. Here are a few things you can do now to make assisted living more affordable.

Make Some Home Upgrades

There are many things you can do to increase the accessibility of your home. This includes putting grab bars in the bathroom, increasing the lighting around the home, or reducing the use of stairs by moving objects to the main floor. Remove loose carpeting or rugs. You can even install railings on both sides of the stairs. Some modifications can even be supplemented by government assistance programs, such as HUD Title 1 Property Improvement Loans.

Take Advantage of Technology

Research on the current state of assisted living shows that new technologies are making it easier for family and friends to check on loved ones and ensure that they’re doing well. There are devices such as mobile wearable sensors, which track location, read blood glucose, and blood pressure levels in a non-invasive way. Smart homes are also reducing the amount of unnecessary movement that seniors have to make. Utilizing these devices is one way to gain more independence if you or your loved one still live at home. If you’re already in assisted living facilities, it can help reduce maintenance.

Long-term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance is one important way to pay for care in the case of a chronic illness that requires extensive assisted care. Chronic illness often isn’t covered by other insurances or Medicaid. Try to compare evaluate which kinds of long-term insurance gives you the best coverage for your needs.

Talk with a Specialized Financial Adviser

Increasingly, there are financial advisors available to talk about financial planning issues that aren’t closely related to asset or investment management. This can help senior citizens get specialized advice relating to Medicaid or the tie between their health and financial future. A financial advisor should assist with your needs and help you plan best for your future. Find someone who helps you learn where you can save money.

Consider Sharing Your Living Space

A recent article on Forbes discussed the financial benefits of older adults sharing a home, as well as the security benefits. Home-sharing programs can help you find some extra roommates. This is nice because people in these programs have to go through rigorous criminal and background checks. You can find compatible housemates and get the social connections that are hard to find as you age. The best part: you don’t have to move out of your home to do this.

Check If It’s Tax-Deductible

The costs of assisted living can be tax-deductible. This is only if the primary reason an individual lives in the facility is because of a medical condition, and living there gives them access to medical care. Checking on these options can help you save a lot of money in advance.


Making some home upgrades and taking advantage of technology can help you age in place. Sharing your home can also be a suitable option for saving money, as well as giving you social interactions. Consult a financial adviser and get legal advice as well where you can. There are many ways to save on assisted living. It takes a bit of time and effort to find those options, but that effort will make all the difference.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hold Me!

elderly lady with a walker
Yesterday, I had to take my aunt to the doctor.  There are good days and bad days it seems and yesterday was more difficult. That just means she needs more assistance doing simple things like walking and getting into and out of chairs and such. As I was helping her get up from a chair at the doctor's office, she faltered just a bit. At the same time, she thought for a second she was falling. She instinctually reached back for me and loudly said, "Hold me!"

My heart melted in that second as I wanted to hold her, comfort her, and let her know she wasn't falling at all. I assured her that I was right there and she wasn't falling. As we proceeded to move down the hall I started thinking about that short instant.

We find ourselves in situations, especially as caregivers, where we feel like we are going to fall. Maybe we are unsure of our steps or of our own selves. In that moment we cry out to the ultimate Caregiver - God. We say, "Hold me!" We may be frightened, worried, concerned, or just unsure - but He hears that cry of our heart whether we vocalize it, or it remains silent. As we reach for Him something amazing happens. Our cry for help comes beyond His ears and into His heart. He stands close - and says, "I've got you." His ears are tuned in to our cries and He instantly responds.

In Psalm 3, David said, I cried to the Lord with a loud voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. I don't know what words David used to "cry out" to the Lord - but they may have been as simple as "Hold me!" or "Help me!" God doesn't need a full discourse to understand our heart - just a simple cry is all that is needed to touch His heart and He acts on our behalf.

Today, I will turn my thoughts to how I need Him to hold me. I'll meditate on how quickly He responds to my cry for help. As I go through this day - I'll let Him hold me.  I won't crawl out of His lap to be in the lap of worry or concern. I'll just rest in Him and trust Him for one more day - will you join me?

Monday, September 10, 2018

When It's all Said and Done

Over the last few weeks, I've been tied up moving two special needs adults. My daughter and SIL bought a large 5 bed, 3 bath house so we could combine households. The goal is to just be here for each other. While we are waiting for my aunt's assisted living apartment to come available, we have four generations under one roof.

The last few days have been kind of hectic as we all adjust to some new normals. Even though moving is unsettling and disorganized at best - I know when it's all said and done it'll be better for us. I look at the chaos in my room and in Chris' room and still wonder if I'll ever get us settled in or not. The obvious answer is I will.. eventually.

Sometimes our emotions can feel all unsettled and disorganized too. Okay, maybe that's most days for caregivers. I know I can be all over the place at any given moment on any given day. Yesterday was one of those days. My emotions were stretched and I felt as tight as a rubber band stretched to its limits. Then for no apparent reason, there was just this peace. It was unexplainable but undeniable. I was okay.

At one point, I was listening to my heart sing, what a wonderful name it is while my head was trying to figure out my own name. When it's all said and done - it's His name that matters. It's the heart that matters, not the head. I know ultimately- He is my peace. He is my strength. He is my comfort. He is my companion. He is my all. And when it's all said and done- no matter how crazy the day is or how behind I feel - He's got this. He's got me. And that is what matters most.

It may look chaotic, but today, I will remind myself that I am tucked safely away in His heart where nothing can get to me. My meditations will be on his constant concern for me - that's right - for ME! (and you!) I'll think about how He truly cares and takes care of me from start to finish. I'll turn my thoughts to the truth that when it's all said and done - He's already done it all. I'll rest in Him as I trust Him for one more day - will you join me?