When Siblings Disagree On Care For Parents

when siblings disagree on care for parents

One of the biggest challenges families face is when members can’t agree on care for an aging loved one. Sometimes, this occurs when a loved one’s wishes for their own life directly oppose our own – but it becomes far more complex when siblings disagree about care for their parents.

Priority #1: Avoid Contention That Agitates Your Parent

We cannot overstate how critical it is to avoid contention that agitates your parent. When a parent knows their children are squabbling or in full-blown family feuds over their care, it diminishes their quality of life. Seniors can begin to retreat, feel intimated to voice their own opinions, and may experience heightened anxiety and depression. This is the last thing you want to do to someone you love, especially in the last chapters of their life.

When siblings cannot agree on a parent’s care plan, it’s time to STOP and regroup. Fighting solves nothing, and we can confidently attest that it makes everything worse.

What To Do When Siblings Disagree On Care For Parents

Here are three things you can do to redirect the conversation, ensuring everything you do is in your parent’s best interest, immediate well-being, and future quality of life.

Have a family conversation with your parent 

If your parent can make decisions, their word should be honored regardless of whether it conflicts with their children’s opinions. In cases where their wishes aren’t affordable or are impossible, that can be addressed. Otherwise, it’s always best to honor an individual’s wishes for their life – and death. That is all you can ask for yourself, right?

Every sibling should be present so there is no ability to manipulate or coerce (or for someone to say you did). Keep a list of the areas where you disagree and then frame simple, black/white questions (no leading the witness…)

What about dementia or an unresponsive parent? 

First, people in the early stages of dementia can almost always make decisions about their care. So, don’t rule out their opinion in those first several months. In fact, that’s the exact time to enlist their support in creating a long-term care plan if they haven’t already – and documenting it for future reference. 

If the person is unresponsive, remember they can likely hear you and are more attentive to the room’s energy than you’d think. So keep negative talk or arguments out of their space and make clear, mature, and big-picture commitments to resolving the issues ASAP using neutral parties.

Refer to any potential long-term care plans, correspondence, or a will

Did your parent(s) create any type of long-term care plans? Or might they have documentation or paperwork referencing certain aspects of their wishes or hopes for aging or end-of-life scenarios?

There are a range of places your parent may have made their wishes known if you think about this from a big-picture perspective:

  • Estate plans (wills, trusts, etc.). Did they work with an estate attorney at any point? Review any paperwork of that type and look for specific instructions or clues about what your parent did or did not want.
  • Advanced medical directives. Did they ever create an advanced medical directive? If so, it may hold valuable information on the topics you’re holding in disagreement. Contact all healthcare providers and see if there is one on file. What about your parent’s close friends or neighbors? A parent may have provided copies to others – or shared wishes about end-of-life care/preferences. 
  • Emails or letters from the past. Is there a chance your parent expressed any wishes at all (I never want to live in assisted living? I don’t want to die in a hospital? I’d never want to be on life support? Do whatever it takes to keep me alive?) You may find that going through old emails or past letters offers some insights.
  • Financial plans/planners. Did your parent have a long-term relationship with a particular financial advisor or CPA over the years? You may find that individual knows details about your parent’s wishes that were never shared with you. 

Again, regardless of sibling disagreements, the goal should always be to honor your parent’s wishes to the best of your ability.

When siblings disagree schedule meetings, assessments, or consultations with neutral parties

If you can’t get a clear read on what your parent’s wishes were, and siblings can’t agree, it’s time to bring in neutral parties. First, start with your parent’s friends if any are still alive and willing to talk. Seniors often talk with their friends about their wishes, plans, and intentions even if they never formalize them. Their friends may have a very clear insight into some of the siblings’ hot topics.

After that, we recommend:

Scheduling in-home assessments with senior caregiving agencies

Local, licensed caregiving agencies provide free, in-home assessments with absolutely no obligation. During these meetings, you’ll get informed, professional insight into what would be best for your parent based on what we see. We recommend scheduling consultations with at least three different agencies.

You’ll glean invaluable information about what your parent needs and recommendations about care plans, progressive care requirements, and more. Even if you don’t decide to pursue in-home care for your aging parent, the information you receive will help unify your decisions.

If your parent has a terminal illness or is already bedbound or nonresponsive, schedule a consultation with local hospice care agencies. They provide a wealth of support – from physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual and grief counselors, and volunteers.

Visit assisted living communities

If one of the biggest arguments is about whether or not to keep a parent at home or transfer them to an assisted living facility, touring different communities is the next logical step. If you all live out of town, this may be the best move – even if you are in doubt – because your parent has access to professional care 24/7. 

In this scenario, you can have the best of both worlds by hiring a caregiver to visit them regularly. That way, they get the best of what assisted living or memory care centers offer while still having regular personal company (and safety checks) from someone they trust.

HomeAide Home Care Helps Families Make the Best Care Choices for Parents

Is your family struggling to agree on what’s best for your mom or dad? HomeAide Home Care is honored to provide a free assessment and share our thoughts with you. We are a nurse-owned home care agency with decades of experience providing high-quality care to seniors and their families.

Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We’re happy to hear where your disagreements lie, assess your parent’s current situation, and make professional recommendations for your parent’s immediate and future well-being. 

How To Support Seniors With Technology

how to support seniors with technology

Social isolation and lack of connection are especially challenging for seniors. And, the current pandemic is making it harder than ever for seniors to safely navigate the public arena. As a result, we’ve been doing all we can to support senior clients with technology, as they learn to use a gadget and the video and social platforms that keep them connected to loved ones, friends, and the world-at-large. 

For example, technology provides multiple ways to personally engage with loved ones – even when they live hundreds or thousands of miles away. And, if you are in The Sandwich Generation, taking care of both aging parents and a family at home – you’ll appreciate that tech-savvy seniors rely less on immediate caregivers when they are able to connect with other friends, family, book clubs, and other support groups. 

Tips To Support Senior Success With Tech 

That said, technological glitches are discouraging, so you need to provide ample support to seniors who haven’t had experience with computers or tablets in the past. For seniors with cognitive decline, or who experience high levels of stress due to sheltering-in-place mandates, are more susceptible to frustrated or angry outbursts that can make them quit before they’re fully launched. 

With the right support, a senior-friendly gadget, and ample, guided practice, your senior will be on his/her way. 

Purchase a senior-friendly gadget 

Less is definitely more is seniors are on the beginning side of the technology spectrum. To that end, tech manufacturers intentionally design senior-friendly tablets and gadgets that keep things as simple as possible. 

Examples include: 

In addition to ease of use, these tablets have built-in accessibility features like larger user interfaces, easy volume adjustment, and they have live support available enabling seniors to get the help they need when they need it. 

Provide a list of senior-friendly tech support resources 

There are several Bay Area, senior-friendly tech support resources available online, via the phone, and in-person. Print a list of them and tape it somewhere visible, so your loved one has help available when s/he needs it.  

Examples include: 

Encourage your loved one to take these organization’s online tech classes (another great way to keep those neurons firing!) and get familiar with their gadget. The more they learn to do for themselves, the less they’ll need to call you for real-time tech support. 

Encourage syncing connection time with companion time 

The ideal scenario is to have someone on hand to help when seniors need it. While that isn’t always possible, scheduling a companion to come by once or multiple times per week yields exponential benefits. In addition to providing human-to-human connection, your companion can provide general support with most tech issues, OR your companion/caregiver can help seniors make the calls or online connections they need to solve the problem. 

BONUS: Syncing your connection time to hours when a loved one’s companion or caregivers is present gives you a chance to get to know the caregivers better. Our caregivers have nothing but positive things to say about how client “video chats” with family and friends have supported their bonding process with the client, deepening their connection because it feels more like being part of a family. 

Foster a positive relationship with technology to support seniors 

If your senior is new to the tech world, texting and emailing may be more challenging. However, video chats are a wonderful way to positively bring our elders into the technological world.  

To begin, we recommend scheduling a weekly (or daily, if your schedule allows it) meal or snack time. Seeing your face and hearing your voice, while both of you enjoy a meal, a drink, or a snack together, can feel almost like the real thing. 

This strategy is a win-win because social isolation can result in loss of appetite or unhealthy eating patterns, along with depression and anxiety. The satisfaction and heartwarming anticipation of weekly meal dates can literally transform a senior’s landscape, giving him/her something to look forward to each week, while allowing you to see him/her “in person,” which is the best way to assess senior wellbeing. 

Help them set up apps that align with their interests 

It’s best to start simply to avoid overwhelm. So, we don’t advise going too app crazy. However, there are plenty of apps that support senior connection, fun, engagement, learning, creativity, and wellbeing. 

Depending on their interests and needs, there are all kinds of apps that open the world to homebound seniors: 

  • Audible and/or text-based reading apps 
  • Games (cards, dominoes, board games, etc.) and puzzles 
  • Art apps 
  • Senior Blogs 
  • Medication reminders 
  • Telehealth apps from their healthcare providers 
  • Health apps such as Blue Button from Medicare 
  • Crossword, number puzzle, and word game apps 

Playing games, reading, or being read to, working on puzzles, creating art – all are available with the download of an app.  

Spend “time” with tech savvy grandchildren  

There are so many benefits from seniors spending time with their grandchildren, and bonding through tech is right up the 21st-century grandchild’s alley. Visit our post, 8 Ways to Connect With Grandchildren Online, and see if your kids are inspired by any of the suggestions. 

If nothing else, we bet your tech-savvy children, teens, and young adults could be the go-to tech support for their grandparents or elder relatives when needed, providing a win-win for both sides. 

Is your senior loved one starved for company and something to do while sheltering in place? The Caregivers here at HomeAide Home Care are available to help as much or as little as you like. We observe stringent health protocols and while they aren’t designated tech experts, our caregivers are certainly happy to support seniors with technology in any way they can. 

We’re Here To Support Seniors Any Way We Can

Contact us to schedule a free in-home assessment or to learn more about home care services and how they enhance senior health, wellbeing, and quality of life. 

8 Ways To Connect With Grandchildren Online

8 ways to connect with grandchildren online

Snail mail and telephone calls used to be the only way long-distance grandparents could connect with their children in other towns, states, or countries. Fortunately, digital technology has made it easier than ever for seniors to connect with their grandchildren regardless of how many miles lay between them. 

Here Are 8 Ways To Connect With Grandchildren

From apps that allow you to read stories together, to video hangouts and social media platforms, we’ve put together a list of eight of our clients’ favorite ways to connect with their grandchildren online. 

Get the right gadget for you 

If you are not much of a techie, half the battle can be deciding which gadget or computer is the right choice for you. While smartphones work well, most seniors prefer to use gadgets with a larger screen, such as a tablet or a small laptop computer. 

In our recent post on Ending Social Isolation for Seniors, we mentioned Samsung’s Birdsong tablet, which is an affordable, touchscreen tablet designed for seniors. Acer and Chromebooks are other affordable options that keep things as simple and glitch-free as possible.  

Read together on Caribu

Storytime is so valuable. It supports emergent readers, familiarizes grandchildren with their grandparent’s voice, and can soothe and calm an anxious child at the end of a long day. Plus, reading and listening to stories is just plain fun. 

Caribu is a popular app that allows you to video chat with your grandchild(ren) while reading the same books. Once you’ve selected the book, it will load on your respective screens, so you’re looking at the same page at the same time. You can take turns turning pages and reading to one another (or one of you can be the sole reader as the other follows along).  

BONUS TIP: Does your senior loved one enjoy reading stories? Look into community volunteer opportunities that pair retired seniors with schools and after school programs to support beginning or struggling readers.  

Create a slideshow for some reminiscence therapy 

If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, you can put together a photo slideshow of pictures from the past. Then, use Zoom’s screen share feature and have a video chat where your grandchild gets to see the same pictures your parent or grandparent is looking at and listen to the stories that go along with it. 

In addition to learning more about your family’s roots, your children are participating in a process called reminiscence therapy (RT), which has positive benefits for seniors experiencing cognitive decline. 


WhatsApp is one of the most popular social platforms around the world, even though it has less acclaim here in North America. Unlike FaceTime, which is only available if both people use Apple devices, WhatsApp is available to all. Plus, it is a great option for parents who don’t want their children to use social media just yet. In addition to allowing free video or phone calling anywhere you have internet access, WhatsApp also makes it easy to share videos and pictures. 


Originally designed to help minimalist parents save important artwork, photos, and precious mementos without having to actually store the physical items, Keepy has evolved into something more.  

You can share your Keepy posts with grandparents, so they get to see and view artwork and accolades. Seniors can share their artwork with their grandchildren as well. Plus, those you’ve shared with can record their comments or feedback, which means you and your grandchildren will have precious vocal recordings of senior loved ones even after they’ve passed on. 

Speaking of art…connect with grandchildren while creating art together

The Draw Something app is like a digital version of Pictionary, minus the competition (although you can easily make it a family game…). You simply select a word and then “draw it” on your screen for the other players to guess. And, as the app’s developers reassure us, “No Drawing Skills Required! Stick figures and a sense of humor are welcome! Just wiggle your finger to create a doodle masterpiece!” 

Safety Tip: Make sure to download this one onto your own gadget, rather than your child’s, to prevent strangers from inviting themselves into the fun.  

Watch your favorite Netflix streams together 

Wish you could watch a favorite movie or show together? Now you can. The Netflix Party Chrome extension allows up to four different people to link up and watch movies together at the same time. Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to your favorite Netflix shows. Now your family can enjoy coast-to-coast family movie nights on a regular basis. 

Play a good ol’ fashioned game of checkers 

Checkers is good for the mind and the soul, helping those neurons to actively fire, a proven way to slow down cognitive decline. Multiplayer Checkers is another online app that allows people to play together for free. If your children can stand it, you can bring other players in on the fun, but we’ve found that it works best (i.e. minimizes sibling spats and fights) if the game is played one-on-one with grandma or grandpa. 

Do you and your family have a favorite way to connect with grandparents online? We’d love to hear about it. Share your ideas in the comment box below. 

When Your Loved One Needs Help At Home

Are you worried that a long-distance senior loved one needs more support to remain safely at home? Contact HomeAide Home Care to schedule a free in-home assessment. Our licensed in-home caregivers are happy to help your loved ones get online and connect with you and their extended family members.

Inclusive Care For LGBT Elders

inclusive care for lgbt elders

As 21st century Bay Area residents, it is difficult to understand the reality most of our LGBT elders experienced as a result of sexual orientation and/or non-binary identification. Discrimination affects LGBT seniors at every level – and health care is no exception. That is why you must take such thoughtful care when selecting inclusive home care for LGBT elders and loved ones. 

Compassionate, Non-Discriminatory Care Is Essential For LGBT Elders 

Finding compassionate, non-discriminatory care is essential for LBGT seniors to age independently and as healthy as possible. According to LGBThealth.org: 

LGBT people are more likely to experience certain health issues compared to people who are not LGBT. These health issues are mostly related to the stigma and discrimination experienced by LGBT people in their daily lives—including at school or work, in public places, or in health care settings.  

While this post serves as a very general introduction to a complex topic, we highly recommend downloading the National LGBT Health Center’s Guide, Providing Inclusive Services and Care For LGBT People, to learn more about this important topic. 

In order for seniors to age-in-place, while retaining dignity and independence, they must have caregivers who understand the specific needs of the LGBT senior population. 

Topics To Consider For Creating And Inclusive And Welcoming Space 

The simple act of including a small rainbow flag symbol on employees’ name tags, a symbol of LGBT inclusion, is a big one. However, it must be backed by employees or staff who are truly inclusive and welcoming.  

Inclusivity begins with understanding the damaging impact that can occur as the result of subtle or obvious language/word choices or insensitive questions/comments – as well as how to recover if an error is made. It blossoms when our LGBT clients and patients feel free to be themselves without judgment or criticism.  

While the hope is that care for LGBT clients and patients will become second-nature, there is much work to be done until then. As the National LGBT Health Education Center confirms, “luckily with some training and small changes in protocol, it is possible to provide safe, affirming, and inclusive environments for transgender people.” 

To give you an overview of what being inclusive means, here is a list of some of the topics, considerations, and lessons put forth in the National LGBTQs Guide for Healthcare Staff: 

Understanding the common health issues affecting LGBT elders

LGBT people are at higher risk for depression, suicidal thoughts, STDs and STD-related health conditions, addiction, smoking habits, and social and family isolation. Similarly, they are less likely to observe routine health appointments if they’ve experienced discrimination in the past, and less likely to have preventative cancer screenings. 

Other barriers LGBT seniors have faced include: 

  • Limited access to basic health care 
  • Negative experiences (discrimination or even abuse) with healthcare providers or those in authority 
  • Experiencing health care providers who were not qualified or knowledgeable enough to provide high-quality care to their LGBT patients. 

LGBT clients’ expectations and triggers around honest mistakes from healthcare providers  

As you can imagine, LGBT seniors have experienced a lifetime of discrimination from society, and many have been the victims of hateful or violent verbal abuses from others. Even in the best of cases, an LGBT individual may have experienced uncomfortable or insensitive comments from those they trusted, including health care providers. 

As such, caregivers should know how to respond if they do, unwittingly, illicit a triggered response from an honest mistake, continuing to build trust with clients. 

Communication basics, including pronouns and preferred names/terms 

Caregivers should pay close attention and only use the name/pronoun(s) clients use for themselves. This also includes the terms clients use for themselves, partners, or spouses. For example, if a man refers to himself as gay, you also refer to him as gay rather than “homosexual,” regardless of your intentions to be politically correct. Acceptable vs. derogatory terms for the LGBT population have morphed through the decades and what is appropriate for him and his generation may not seem appropriate to you; our job is to honor the client’s wishes. 

Similarly, a client’s records provided by the family may state s/he is a “him,” when, in fact, she identifies as a “her.” Don’t make assumptions that information from family is correct. It’s always better to check the records provided with the patient to verify his/her preferences. 

How to handle when name/gender records don’t match 

If a client is transgender, you may experience medical, insurance, or other “official” records that do not match your client. Besides the risk of discrimination or a desire to comply with social norms, LGBT seniors may not have wanted to spend the time, energy, and emotional investment required to move through the complicated process of a legal name change. 

By checking in, “Hello there. I see you are listed as Jean, is that your preferred name or do you go by another name,” gives the client a chance to open the door so s/he and the caregivers can establish an honest, honoring, and safe baseline. 

Avoid asking unnecessary questions 

It is understandable to want to get to know your client and to be curious about his/her past. However, caregivers should let clients lead the conversation around personal or sensitive topics, particularly one as potentially heated or triggering as a person’s gender and/or sexual identity. 

Before embarking on a potential emotional land mine, consider: 

  • What do I know?  
  • What do I need to know?  
  • How can I ask for the information I need to know in a sensitive way? 

Remember that gender and/or sexuality can be fluid 

Back in the 70s and 80s, you were more apt to hear about someone being gay, straight, or lesbian – with clear boundaries. In the 90s, the term “bisexual” was used more often to help those who didn’t feel exclusively any one thing. Today, the various terms available to sexual/gender orientation or expression (or even the lack thereof) abound.  

Sexual orientation 

Sexual orientation is not the same as gender expression. A person’s sexual orientation describes their sexual/emotional attraction to others. The following terms apply to sexual orientation: 

  • Heterosexual (straight)  
  • Lesbian 
  • Gay 
  • Bisexual 
  • Asexual 

Gender identity 

A person’s gender identity is his/her own identity of being male or female. Terms defining gender orientation include: 

  • Transgender woman: A man who identifies as a woman 
  • Transgender man: A woman who identifies as a man 
  • Gender fluid: A person who does not identify, or chooses not to identify, as a single-gender.  
  • Many others as accurate vocabulary continues to emerge over time 

Ultimately, LGBT clients deserve to be respected first and foremost as individuals. From there, caregivers can work to create clear, comfortable communication channels that include the correct terms or identifications that are most important or meaningful to the client. 

We Care

Are you looking for home care providers who know how to provide inclusive care for LGBT elders? Consult with multiple local agencies, and ask them directly whether or not they have experience with the LGBT client community as well as what they do to educate and train their caregivers accordingly. These in-home assessments are free and are essential to ensure you hire the right agency for the job.  

Contact HomeAide Home Care to work with a Bay Area home care agency who has years of experience serving our LGBT elders.

Connecting with and Caring for Those with Dementia

connecting with and caring for those with dementia

Sometimes, great advice or information comes from the most unlikely of places. In this case, we’re talking about a parenting podcast that offered transformative information about how to connect with and caring for those with dementia or who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

In December of last year, Zen Parenting Radio (a podcast dedicated to mindful living and parenting) hosted an interview with Deborah Shouse and her brother, Dan. Their mother was diagnosed with – and eventually passed away from – dementia, and that diagnosis and the resulting journey led her adult children on a quest to find ways they could connect with their mother, even when dementia changed so much about who she was and how she interacted with the world.

Creativity is the key to connecting and caring for those with dementia

Not only was that quest fruitful in many ways, the insights gleaned from the journey led Deborah to write and publish the book, Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together. She has since authored a second book, Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey. Both books offer a rich tapestry of compassionate understanding, paired with practical ideas, for those who live with, love and/or care for adults with dementia in any form.

The siblings eventually realized they were most successful in connecting with their mother when they interacted with her in creative ways and when they were able to release attachments to who their mother had been. They found it most helpful to remain open to who she was in any given day, hour or moment.

We highly recommend listening to the podcast (Click Here to do so) to learn more about their experience and insights. In the meantime, here are some of the most important takeaways from the interview.

Let go of who your parent or loved one was and embrace who they are Now.

For the first little while, your loved one will seem just like they’ve always seemed, with the occasional changes associated with dementia – forgetfulness, confusion, increased inability to find the right words, and so on. Over time, however, they may not recognize you or others, they might not remember what they did the day before, the may say they don’t like the things they used to like, or that they like or want to do things they never cared about before. Rather than resist these changes, Deborah and Dan learned to accept them and did their best to meet their mother right where she was at at any given time. This helped them to have more present connections.

Let creativity be your guide.

Countless studies have shown that Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are stimulated, engaged and more lively when participating in creative outlets, ranging from art classes and flower arranging to gardening, singing, baking, sculpting and so on. If they can’t remember the words to a tune, you can hum together. You can be the head chef or baker preparing some of your parent’s favorites (or new requests) and the parent can help you prep or keep you company. If they were amazing artists in the past, you might find their art is no longer up to that original standard but you accept the process for what it is and celebrate engagement and connection wherever you can find it. If they never participated in artistic outlets, keep trying different mediums and you may be surprised your loved one now enjoys watercolors, sculpting, collaging, coloring or drawing.

Never stop visiting or bringing in friends or family.

It’s not emotionally easy to continue regular visits with someone who doesn’t remember you or can’t connect who you are with who they are in their newest incarnation. However, Deborah and Dan noticed that visits from family, particularly Dan (who lives in Japan and could only visit a handful of times per year) were extremely stimulating for their mother. Her energy would be higher and brighter for days after a visit.This helped them to realize that while it may be difficult – and downright painful – for loved ones to connect with someone who they hope will remember them, or show some signs of recognition, visits from loved ones did a world of good for their mother’s well-being. Perhaps the easiest way to handle this is to pretend you’re visiting a friend’s relative or caring for those with dementia – you can be compassionate, kind, loving and tender – without as much of the tension or frustration that can arise when you want your loved one to be someone they are incapable of being.

This helped them to realize that while it may be difficult – and downright painful – for loved ones to connect with someone who they hope will remember them, or show some signs of recognition, visits from loved ones did a world of good for their mother’s well-being. Perhaps the easiest way to handle this is to pretend you’re visiting a friend’s relative or caring for those with dementia – you can be compassionate, kind, loving and tender – without as much of the tension or frustration that can arise when you want your loved one to be someone they are incapable of being.

What we learn over and over again is that connection – in any form – can help to ease the burdens associated with the land of dementia, and can provide an inspiring way to facilitate a loved one’s well-being.

Are you looking to support or augment memory care for yourself, a spouse or a loved one? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care and we’ll be happy to discuss the best means of getting the care you need and caring for those with dementia.

Difficult Topics with Elderly Family Members

difficult topics with elderly family members

Transitions are never easy, and that is certainly true for elderly family members making the transition from independent to dependent. While a battle of wills about driving boundaries, mobility aids, hearing aids or moving to a more accessible living space inspires resistance, that resistance is further compounded by dementia behaviors and/or physical ailments that cause discomfort.

That resistance, anger, resentment and frustration is vented on those who are closest to the individual – typically spouses, family members, and immediate caregivers. First, we recommend reviewing this article on Coping with Everyday Challenges, which provide a good overview of typical jumping in points.

Compassionate communication with elderly family members

Here are some of the ways you can facilitate more effective communication with elderly family members, while still remaining a calm, compassionate demeanor.

Keep in mind that seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s can say hurtful things they don’t mean. If your relative is diagnosed with a condition that causes or is related to dementia, try to keep a healthy emotional distance if they are in an agitated state of mind, always remembering their words reflect their condition and not their actual feelings or thoughts. We recommend reading New Approaches for Difficult Behaviors for more specific information on communicating with difficult elderly family members diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Schedule an appointment to visit the doctor

Would you want your child or grandchild telling you that you shouldn’t drive anymore? That you should leave the home you’ve known and loved? That you need to bring a stranger into your home to help you out around the house or keep you company? None of these are easy or comfortable conversations, especially if you’re worried about the same things but don’t want to admit it.

Hearing it from a third-party, however, especially if that third-party is an authority of some kind, can ease the transition.

When it comes to a senior’s well-being – or the well-being of others – bringing it up in conversation with the doctor is a wise move. Email your loved one’s doctor ahead of time, addressing each of your concerns so that he or she is prepared at the next appointment. Then, ask your loved one if you can accompany him/her to their next appointment to discuss some of your concerns.

Sometimes, a simple eye test will be enough for a doctor to recommend revising driving privileges with the DMV. The doctor can also mention accessibility and safety issues, and so on. Often, elders feel less affronted when instructions are given by a medical professional.

Consider creating an accessible home

If your senior is resistant to moving out of the home they love, perhaps you can make the home they love more accessible. Studies show that seniors who are able to safely age-in-place remain independent longer. The family can make an agreement that if the senior allows you to make their home more senior-friendly, the topic of moving elsewhere will be tabled for a while, with an understanding that help will be brought in as needed.

Make it all about you

Rather than making the conversations about all of the things the senior can’t do anymore, or that aren’t safe anymore, make the conversation about your personal concerns. For example, you can state, “I notice the refrigerator seems emptier than usual, and that you aren’t getting out as much as you used to. I love you and I can’t help but worry a little bit. It would make me feel so much better if you would let us arrange someone to stop by once a week to take you out, so your grocery shopping, make a few meals, clean the house, etc.”

By making it about you, it gives the senior permission to relax into the idea. They are now doing you a favor, while – in reality – they know they need a little assistance and this is a good way to get it. That once-a-week helper can then be a tremendous resource – eventually, transition to increased care as needed. Read, “What’s Right For You, Home Care or Assisted Living,”to see which is best for your senior loved one.Unless there is serious cognitive impairment, it’s critical that you understand your senior family member has the right to choose what’s best for them, even when that isn’t what you feel is best. If necessary, you might want to enlist the help of a therapist in order to discuss your frustrations and concerns and to practice the art of letting your parent, grandparent or loved one make decisions with the knowledge that you bear zero responsibility if there is a negative outcome.

Unless there is serious cognitive impairment, it’s critical that you understand your elderly family member has the right to choose what’s best for them, even when that isn’t what you feel is best. If necessary, you might want to enlist the help of a therapist in order to discuss your frustrations and concerns and to practice the art of letting your parent, grandparent or loved one make decisions with the knowledge that you bear zero responsibility if there is a negative outcome.

Hopefully, over time, and with some heart-to-heart conversations, your loved one will come around and make choices that support their safety, good health and well-being.

Aging And Aphasia


aging and aphasia

You may have never heard of aphasia but, you know the feeling when you’re in the middle of a sentence and you just can’t think of the right word? Aging and aphasia often go hand-in-hand. It’s there somewhere; in fact, you may even make the comment that “it’s right at the tip of your tongue…”Aging and aphasia often go hand-in-hand. This is a very mild form of what some seniors experience on a regular basis.

When the loss of words, or the inability to retrieve words, begins to hinder a person’s conversations and daily routines on a regular basis, it is called aphasia.

Aphasia is Often a Symptom of Aging and Age-Related Conditions

Aphasia is a common symptom, and often a “primary” symptom of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other age-related conditions. In addition to word loss, your aging relative or friend may notice they are more prone to getting lost, feeling confused, forgetting to pay bills or neglecting to recognize birthdays and special days that were once priorities on their calendar. These may indicate something more serious is at work.

There are several situations or conditions that can cause aphasia. These include:

  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Medications or changes in medication doses
  • Dehydration
  • Strokes
  • Hearing loss
  • Lou Gehrig’s Disease (medically referred to as “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” (ALS))
  • Parkinson’s disease

In many cases, the ability to speak disappears long before the ability to understand. As a result, the onset of aphasia can be extremely frustrating and frightening for seniors. This is especially true if they are treated like they have dementia or Alzheimer’s when in fact they still have many of their mental faculties intact.

For this reason, it’s important to schedule an appointment with the senior’s primary healthcare provider as soon as you notice aphasia has become an issue.

Schedule a Doctor’s Appointment ASAP if Seniors Have Difficulty Communicating.

Note: if the onset of aphasia seems extremely sudden, it could be that your loved one or client is having a stroke. In this case, it’s always better to call 9-1-1 or take the individual immediately to an ER. Often, a stroke caught early can be stopped in its tracks, before it causes more debilitating side effects. Please read, Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke, for more information about that topic.

Otherwise, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with the senior’s caregiver to identify the cause of the issue. In some cases, something as simple as drinking more water or taking an antibiotic for a urinary tract infection (UTI) may be the solution. Seniors are extremely vulnerable to dehydration as well as asymptomatic UTIs, both of which can cause dementia-like symptoms.

Other times, a new medication, combination of medications or a change in dosage can be enough to trigger mild or more moderate aphasia. Once the right prescription balance is restored, the aphasia may begin to resolve and normal language function will be restored.

If a more serious medication condition, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease is the cause, early detection is important in prolonging the progression of the disease. We are learning a great deal about how diet, lifestyle and activity levels help or harm a person’s long-term prognosis. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, certain medications work best at the disease’s onset rather than later on.

In the case of Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s, there are non-verbal therapies – like art or music therapy – that can help the individual find their community as well as involve other parts of the brain to help them become more functional when areas in charge of language or cognition become more faulty. Learning about adult day care options, community gardening opportunities, and other outlets can help to keep the senior more involved in the community so they don’t feel so isolated.

The senior’s healthcare provider will be able to provide a full physical assessment, and may also schedule more tests to determine the aphasia’s cause and to provide options and suggestions regarding treatment, therapy and/or lifestyle changes.

If it turns out that the aphasia is, indeed, caused by a progressive condition, this is the time to begin discussing long-term care options and what those options look like. Please feel free to contact us here at HomeAide Home Care to learn more about in-home and independent living options, or to schedule a free in-home consultation. There is never any obligation.

Helping Seniors Feel Wanted, Needed And Loved



helping seniors feel wanted needed and loved

While a senior citizen’s body may seem to change – silver hair, wrinkled skin and changes in mobility, for example – their hearts and desires are the same as anyone else’s: the need for and how to help seniors feel wanted, loved and needed.

The problem is that some of those aforementioned physical changes can leave them feeling depressed, isolated and alone. As spouses and peers pass away or move to various retirement homes, seniors lose their social networks. When elderly adults relinquish their car keys, they surrender their independence and their ability to get out and about in the community. If they succumb to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, it becomes harder for family and friends to enjoy their company, which often translates to reduced visits and outings.

How To Help Seniors Feel Wanted

Get them volunteering. There is great benefit in being of service to others, and this is a benefit that many seniors lack once they lose their independence. In fact, when a senior requires in-home care or lives in an assisted living community, it can feel like they’re always “taking” rather than “giving,” and that is crushing to the ego and an individual’s sense of self-worth.

Look for opportunities for you and your senior family members to work together in acts of service. Is there a soup kitchen looking for volunteers? Does a local homeless shelter need someone to make and serve coffee in the mornings? Perhaps a local orphanage or children’s home could use someone to hold the babies or read to the older children. If you have the time, volunteer with your senior loved one. If not, see if different members of your family can take turns volunteering once a week or once a month. It’s a two-for-one benefit – more time with your loved one as well as a chance to give back to your community.

To start, visit HandsOn Bay Area or The Volunteer Center of the East Bay to explore possibilities in and around the Bay Area. You can also contact local churches and non-profits to see if they need extra hands or hearts in order to help seniors feel wanted.

Inspire Involvement in Local Clubs. Working adults have all kinds of plans for when they retire. However, the retirement years aren’t always as free as one may have imagined them to be. Then, as the social calendar clears and children/grandchildren get older – each day can feel like a void without any way to fill up the empty hours. This is where local clubs can be of assistance.

Ask senior loved ones about any prior or current hobbies and then find a local club or chapter that matches. Perhaps your grandmother used to love ballet, now she can enjoy a local ballroom dance group. Maybe your parents used to play bridge with neighbors; odds are there is a local bridge club looking for members and on-call extras. Seniors who love music may enjoy singing in a community choir or volunteering for the local orchestra or choir for their concerts and performances, while avid gardeners may enjoy volunteering in a community garden project. Joining a club helps to provide a sense of purpose and provide seniors with a sense of responsibility, “I can’t miss bridge on Tuesday, I’d let my partner (or the foursome) down…”.

Make Use of Their Skill Sets. Most seniors were taught skills that are “dying out” in our more disposable culture. Things like darning socks, mending clothes, knitting, refinishing, cooking homemade meals from scratch, basic woodworking and repairing – all of these are going by the wayside. However, as much as our culture has a reputation for purchasing disposable goods – it is becoming increasingly focused on reusing, recycling and repurposing.

This makes for a perfect opportunity for children and grandchildren to learn from their elders. In addition to acquiring important, basic life skills – a mix of generations makes for a synergistic experience – talking, sharing stories, hearing different perspectives and providing mutual love and support to one another.

Have you noticed a senior loved one is feeling a bit down, depressed or lonely lately? Is a parent or grandparent looking fragile than usual? Contact HomeAide Home Care and we’ll be happy to provide an in-home assessment. It might be that a little extra companionship or weekly transportation to social events and groups will help to renew their inner spark and help seniors feel wanted.

Communicating With Your Elderly Parents Doctor

communicating with your elderly parents doctor

Many children of aging parents find that the roles of “parent and child” can seem to flip-flop overnight. One day your parents seem perfectly capable of handling routine business on their own, the next slip-and-fall accident, sudden illness or the beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s can toss life as you know it upside down.

One of the first and most noticeable changes may be in one or both of your parent’s need for assistance when visiting the doctor – or in translating the medical jargon as diagnoses and/or prescriptions for medications become more complex.

Tips For Communication With Your Elderly Parents Doctor

The following tips can ease the transition as you begin to take a more active role in your elderly parents doctor visits and medical appointments.

  1. Complete Medical Directives. Do your parents have a completed medical directive? Also called Advance Directives, medical directives provide specific information and instructions about what an adult does and doesn’t want when it comes to resuscitation, the types of life support that can be used, organ/tissue donation, and other important medical decisions. People often put these off until it’s too late, which makes things very stressful – and potentially confrontational – when families struggle to make these decisions for a loved one. Read our blog, What You Need to Know About Advance Directives to learn more.
  2. Get a Power of Attorney. If you are even beginning to think of communicating with your elderly parents doctor, it is a sign a Power of Attorney should be set in place. Medical records are confidential and there is a fine line about what doctors can tell you without the permission of your parent, which can be especially tricky if dementia or Alzheimer’s is at work. Getting a Power of Attorney while your parents are still fully competent is the simplest way to prepare for the paperwork, decisions, and signatures that may be required in the future when it comes to requesting medical information and records.
  3. Choose one medical liaison. To keep things streamlined, efficient and easy for doctors, it’s recommended that your family choose one medical liaison who will communicate directly with the doctor and then transmit the information to the family at large. If nobody lives in the area, hire a companion, caregiver or professional medical advocate to fill this role instead.
  4. Visit the doctors with your parents. It’s no surprise that establishing relationships with your elderly parents doctors and healthcare professionals facilitates communication down the road. Schedule appointments with each of their general practitioners and regular specialists for a meet-and-greet and to learn more about where your parents are at today, as well as what the doctor recommends to keep them well and healthy into the future.
  5. Get a list of current medications. Assemble a list of all the medications and supplements your parents are currently prescribed and/or taking. Keep it updated regularly. This will come in handy if a doctor changes or your parent begins displaying the symptoms of a potential medication side effect.
  6. Learn to be an advocate. Many laypeople assume that doctors communicate with one another about their patients. This is rarely the case. It requires an advocate and a good communicator to keep each of the doctors abreast of what is said, experienced, diagnosed or prescribed by other doctors, especially if they aren’t in the same office. It’s also a good idea to keep your own copies of important medical records.
  7. Consider changing doctors if necessary. If you don’t feel your parent is getting adequate care, or a particular doctor is difficult to communicate with, take action and switch to one that better meets your parents’ needs.

Need Help

If you find that you are unable to accompany your parent(s) to all of their medical appointments then give us a call here at HomeAide Home Care we have plenty of experience with doctor visits. Call today for your free assessment.

How to Talk to Your Aging Loved Ones About Safe Driving

elderly drivingDriving a car is more than getting from one place to another; a car represents independence and freedom for most people, especially older Americans. As your loved ones age and safe driving becomes a concern, it can be difficult to know how to talk to them about handing over the keys.

When it comes time to talk to your aging loved one about driving, sometimes it can be helpful to start by listening. Ask them some very specific, carefully worded questions to get them talking about their safe driving experiences.

Questions Regarding Safe Driving for Seniors

  • Do you feel your reflexes are slower than they were ten years ago?
  • Have you had any accidents?
  • When was your last written driving test?
  • When was your last behind the wheel driver’s test?
  • Do you still have insurance?
  • When were your eyes last tested?
  • Do you see pedestrians or do they surprise you?
  • Do you drive at night? How is that?
  • How often do you miss your exit off of the freeway?
  • Can you read all the signs in time to appropriately react?
  • Have you ever been lost in a familiar part of town?
  • Have far are you driving at a time?
  • Do you ever worry about your driving?
  • What will you do when you can’t drive anymore?

Often, when people begin to hear their own replies to these questions, they may realize that driving has become a bigger concern than they realized. By opening the door to communication, you’re giving your senior citizen the chance to see for themselves, instead of becoming defensive when you express your concerns.

With time and reflection, you may find that it’s time for your loved one to limit his or her driving, or to stop driving all together. This can be a difficult step. Driving is a form of independence, and most people will do everything they can to keep from giving it up. Have a plan in place to help ensure that your loved one will still have the freedom to go out and do things, and not find themselves stuck at home alone.

  • If you’re able, hire a driver a few days a week.
  • Consider opening a charge account with a local taxi service
  • Ask younger friends or relatives to provide safe driving services, and set up a schedule.
  • Find out if there is public transportation available.

Reassure them that you will help them through this transition, and listen to their concerns. Realize that the loss of freedom is a difficult feeling, and try to put yourself in their shoes. Giving up driving privileges can be a tough but important decision, but in the end it’s the their safety and that of others on the road that must come first. By taking time to both listen and discuss, you can ease the pain of this transition.