Dan Easton

/Dan Easton

About Dan Easton

Director of Social Media - Senior Care Central, LLC

Guest Blog: How Do Seniors With Alzheimer’s Handle Change?

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When seniors develop diseases affecting cognition, like the various kinds of dementia, caregivers typically make an effort to make their living environment as safe and comfortable as possible.  Sometimes caregivers make lots of changes to a senior’s living space, with the best intentions of helping them.  However, this can have a two-sided effect, because seniors with mentally deteriorating illnesses can find change to be a confusing or frightening thing.  Caregivers might change the entire layout of a house, remove everything that could be a hazard, or add numerous locks to provide security.  Changes like these can actually prove to be disorienting for a senior, in addition to being helpful.  So the question becomes, how much change can seniors with Alzheimer’s handle?

 

It’s typical to find instances where seniors have lived in the same home for decades, and have a curious ability to navigate the living space with a sort of muscle memory after memory-harming diseases like Alzheimer’s set in.  Routine is very important to the delicate psyche of an elder with dementia, so finding the perfect balance of what to change for their own good can be tricky.  Making abrupt overwhelming makeovers to their home’s layout can make them flustered and end up actually making  it more difficult for them to get around, adding to their impaired cognition. So it is best to maintain an environment that is familiar as much as possible.  And make any alterations subtly and slowly over time.

 

The necessity to make changes will depend of the severity of a senior’s individual case.  If the Alzheimer’s is in the mid to late stages and a senior is wandering out of the home constantly, then immediate action to prevent hazard is surely appropriate.  Installing door alarms or adding locks can be great helps. If a senior with dementia typically kept a messy household, then the mess may add to their unease or make it easier to trip and fall.  De-cluttering their living space can be advantageous in these cases.

 

Thus, change will surely be necessary at times.  Though it is advisable to make changes as gradually and calmly as possible, to avoid overwhelming or distressing what was comfortable, normal, and assuring to the mind of a loved one with dementia.  Routine is key for security in these instances.  It may also be helpful to make sure you let them see when you move something, or set their things some place, to help then more easily adapt to the change.

 

By | 2017-07-31T13:10:24+00:00 August 9th, 2017|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: How Do Seniors With Alzheimer’s Handle Change?

Clinical Nurse Specialist Profile – Dr. Kristen Mauk

Clinical Nurse Specialist Profile

Kristen Mauk has never been one to stop learning. The clinical nurse specialist has nearly 30 years of experience in rehabilitation and gerontology, a handful of degrees, and has authored or edited seven books. She now helps train the future generation as a professor of nursing at Colorado Christian University in Colorado. She also recently launched her own business, Senior Care Central/International Rehabilitation Consultants, which provides nursing and rehabilitation education throughout the world.

Question: What drew you to nursing? What do you enjoy about it?

Mauk: “I grew up in a medical family. My father was a pediatric surgeon and my mom was a nurse, so I was always around the healthcare professions. However, nursing offered so many opportunities for growth and change while doing what I loved — helping others. There are many aspects of nursing that I enjoy, but feeling like I help make peoples’ lives better has to be the best perk of the job. Nursing is a versatile profession. I started off my career as an operating room nurse, worked for a decade in med-surg, geriatrics, and rehabilitation, then eventually went back to school for additional education so that I could make a greater impact on healthcare through teaching nursing students.”

Question: You have an impressive education. Why did you continue to pursue advanced degrees in the field? How has that benefited you?

Mauk: “First, I am a life-long learner, something that was instilled by my father who was always encouraging his children to explore the world and have an inquiring mind. Dinners at my house were filled with learning activities such as, ‘How does a flashlight work?,’ ‘What is a group of lions called?,’ or ‘For $20, who can spell hors d’oeuvres?’ (By the way, I got that $20!) So, continuing my education through studying for advanced degrees seemed a natural progression when you love to learn and love your work. I felt a need to know as much as possible about my areas of interest, gerontology and rehabilitation, so that I could provide better care to patients and be a better teacher for my students. My advanced education has?opened many doors in the professional nursing world, such as the opportunity to write books, conduct research to improve the quality of life for stroke survivors, or hold national positions in professional organizations.”

Question: What’s one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had, either as a student, educator or in your practice?

Mauk: “There are many memorable experiences I’ve had both as an educator and in practice. One of the most memorable from practice was early in my career working on a skilled/rehab unit in a little country hospital in Iowa. There was an older man who couldn’t find a radio station that played his favorite hymns and one of my co-workers knew that I had a musical background and asked me to sing to him at the bedside. I timidly held his hand as he lay in his hospital bed, and with the door closed because it was late at night, I softly sang all the old hymns I could remember. He closed his eyes and smiled, clasping my hand for nearly an hour of singing. The next evening, I heard him excitedly tell his family members that ‘an angel visited me last night. She had the sweetest voice I’ve ever heard. She held my hand and sang all of my favorite hymns!’ Hearing that outside the door, I smiled, but was later surprised when I stopped in to see him that he truly didn’t seem to remember me. One day later, he died unexpectedly. I often look back and wonder on that experience. In the many years of nursing experience that followed, I have learned that there are sometimes angels where we least expect them.”

Question: What advice do you have for people just starting their education or their professional career?

Mauk: “Nursing is a great profession! Learn all that you can while you are in school and continue to be a lifelong learner. The need for nurses who specialize in care of older adults and rehabilitation is only going to continue to grow because of the booming aging population. There is currently, and will continue to be, a shortage of skilled professionals to meet the demand that is looming with the graying of America. Gain skills that will make you a specialist and afford you additional opportunities. Always give the best care to those you serve. Set yourself apart by building a professional reputation for excellence through advanced education, publication, scholarship, clinical practice, and community service. Then, go and change the world!”

CLINICAL NURSE SPECIALIST PROFILE FOR KRISTEN MAUK

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By | 2017-06-01T08:57:14+00:00 June 1st, 2017|News Posts|Comments Off on Clinical Nurse Specialist Profile – Dr. Kristen Mauk

Guest Blog: Spending Tips for Your Grand Kids

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Introduction: Being a grandparent is special in many ways. It sometimes means overspending and spoiling our grandkids. We tend to cut down on other expenses rather than buying gifts for our cute little ones.

What’s so special about being a grandparent? Grand parenting brings along with it opportunities for loving a new person, the magic of childhood, play and fun and the joy of parenthood minus the heartache that often goes along with it. It is also an opportunity to share your hobbies with a young, curious mind, watch as the kids grow and develop, provide encouragement and make an impact, draw upon your breadth of experience to guide the child through life’s challenges. Many grandparents, in today’s graying America, provide care for their grandkids while mom goes off to work. This can be a very enriching experience for both.

Why do we overspend on our grandkids? A 2012 study by AARP shows that 89% of grandparents spoil their grandkids. USA Today says that 40% of Americans spend $500 or more per year on their grandchildren. Some grandparents even pay for their grandchildren college education and afterschool activities, such as piano lessons and dance classes. Grandparents often find themselves in a dilemma where they would like to be there for their adult kids financially but don’t want to jeopardize their retirement savings.

Where can I cut on spending?

  • Give the gift of time. It doesn’t always have to be a gift. Going on a hike together or doing a baking project can be a very memorable one for the two of you, much more so then a gift. Share stories. Your grandchildren will be delighted to hear stories about when their parents were children. Get with the times and learn to text and build a relationship that will last.
  • Make a budget. “Making a budget is the most important thing you can do because then you will be able to understand where your money is going and where you can afford to make cuts,” says Meg Favreau, senior editor of Wisebread.com. Grandparents should not fall into the trap of overspending on their grandkids. “If it’s affecting your ability to meet your obligations or is dipping into retirement savings, that’s a sign that it’s excessive spending,” says Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial. For full article, click here.

Save your retirement for the fun things in life. Very often, without proper planning, our retirement funds get totally wiped out down the road if a loved one requires long-term care. Medicaid will usually cover for many types of care, including in-home, assisted living and nursing home care. They will however “look back” for a period of five years prior to application to uncover monetary gifts granted- “spent down” during that period, in which case they will impose a penalty corresponding with the gifted funds. Plan ahead and gift the monies to your loved ones now, so it doesn’t hurt you in the years to come. A Medicaid planning company like Senior Planning Services can guide you through the application process if you’re eligible and help shoulder the burden in these stressful times.

Conclusion: Being a grandparent is one of life’s most meaningful pleasures, but it can also be a juggling act. Knowing when to educate, when to spoil, when to stop spending, when to “spend down” and when to save your retirement funds; are all part of this blessing called grandparenthood.

 

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By | 2017-05-08T09:59:16+00:00 May 8th, 2017|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Spending Tips for Your Grand Kids
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