Each week, Dr. Mauk shares thoughts relevant to Baby Boomers that are aimed to educate and amuse.
Moving from one home to another is seldom easy — in fact, it’s considered one of the most stressful life events people experience. However, the process can be especially tough for senior citizens. Whether you’re an older adult about to leave your long-term home or you’re the child of a senior getting ready to help a parent leave his/her home, here are some important tips to keep in mind:
- Acknowledge Emotions. Anytime you’re talking about leaving a long-term home, you’re talking about more than changing addresses. Saying goodbye is hard. Instead of ignoring the sadness that accompanies such a move, process it. Remember, it’s normal to feel some sadness, whether you’re moving into an assisted-living facility, in with relatives or simply to a smaller place.
- Pare Down Possessions. When it comes down to the physical moving process, the less you have to move, the easier the transition. Rather than packing every worldly possession and forcing yourself to organize later, take the time now to downsize. Go through all your furniture, knick-knacks, mementos, gadgets and so on, and determine whether you’ll truly need those items in the new place. Separate everything into “keep,” “give away” and “trash” piles. If you don’t want to hand down or donate certain items, plan a garage sale to get a little extra cash in the process.
- Hire Professional Movers. Don’t endure unnecessary stress by managing the moving process alone — hire movers. Find a company that specializes in assisting with smooth transitions, and enlist its help to transport furniture and boxes to their intended destinations. If some things are going to a new home and others are going to friends and family, communicate to your moving company which items go where.
- Pack an Overnight Bag. Set aside a few changes of clothes, important toiletries, towels and sheets to have with you for that first night or few nights in your new home. Instead of rifling through boxes and feeling overwhelmed with all there is to unpack, there will be a little normalcy — even when you’re still getting settled. Other good items to bring are a first-aid kit and flashlight.
Moving as a senior citizen isn’t easy, but it can be a smoother, more pleasant experience with a little planning. Use the tips above to aid your upcoming move.
Chris Crompton is a marketing manager for TSI, a leader in the shipping and freight industry since 1989. TSI offers low rates and professional service on long distance small moves and shipments.
Sometimes the holidays bring with them conundrums, and figuring out good gifts is usually one of them. Finding a present that expresses how much you value the caregiver in your life can be particularly challenging. We’ve pulled together a list of ideas that go the extra mile for that special someone who always serves above and beyond for you or your loved one.
Rest and relaxation
It’s no secret that caregivers bear a heavy burden. Selecting a gift that provides relaxation and comfort can bring meaningful restoration to those in the role of caregiver. Consider an aromatherapy diffuser with essential oils in soothing scents, such as lavender, sandalwood, or vanilla. Along those same lines, you could assemble a gift basket for an indulgent bath. Choose oils, lotions, and bath salts in a favorite scent, and add a luxurious towel and some herbal teas.
If you really want to wow your caregiver, consider splurging on a new mattress. Some of the bed-in-a-box options are particularly outstanding, and it can be delivered straight to the recipient’s door. Look for a top-rated mattress that can fit any sleep style. For example, the Leesa is one great option. It’s a highly-rated foam mattress that’s optimal for all sleeping styles and is perfectly poised between soft and firm.
Connection and caring
Sometimes a break is the best gift you can give someone who is in the role of caregiving. Consider a gift certificate to a local restaurant or movie theater, and include a handwritten note on pretty paper or a card saying you will cover care during the meal.
If your time is tight or the duties are too complex, offer to perform a task for the caregiver instead. Pick up groceries, take her car for an oil change, then get it washed and waxed, or do some yard work or housekeeping. If the caregiver can’t break away, consider reaching out with an offer to bring a meal over. You can prepare lunch and sit down together, which is a chance for companionship and conversation – a gift often beyond immeasurable value.
For an ongoing gift, a meal delivery service can be a boon to caregivers, making nutritious food easy and convenient, or consider a coffee club subscription. If you’re good friends, considering having a movie night together. Popcorn, a dvd, and a few hours of friendship can provide much needed respite, and choosing a comedy offers the bonus of allowing you both to laugh off stress.
Happiness and hobbies
Certain kinds of activities tend to fall by the wayside for caregivers. With that in mind, consider ways to help your caregiver pursue a hobby interest. You can assemble a gift tote of supplies, such as for crafting, baking, or woodworking. Add a note explaining that once a week you’ll cover care, or you could hire an aide to cover that time periodically.
If your special caregiver loves events, tickets to a tour, concert or play can be ideal. Another idea is to purchase participation in a class your caregiver would enjoy, such as in culinary arts, yoga, or music lessons.
For booklovers, a new e-reader could be just the ticket, along with a gift card to download some books. Journaling is a popular stress-reliever for caregivers, allowing them to sort through emotions and process events of the day. Consider purchasing a handmade journal and selecting an especially beautiful pen to go with it.
For caregivers who are primarily housebound, a bird feeder which mounts to the window or could hang from a nearby tree can provide hours of peaceful entertainment and stress relief. Add a pair of binoculars, seed, and a bird identification guide to make your gift complete.
Caregiving is a challenging burden, and those who take on the responsibility are worthy of special gifts. Consider options which show how much you appreciate their self-less, loving assistance. The holidays are the perfect season for demonstrating how grateful you are to the caregiver in your life.
This time of year, many people pause to give thanks for the good things in their life, but did you know that giving thanks is good for your health?
Having an optimistic outlook on life and using positive coping skills to manage stress has been linked in numerous studies to a longer and happier life. One of the common themes among people over age 85 who report very good to excellent health (in spite of dealing with chronic illnesses) is just that – thinking positive. Norman Vincent Peale, in his famous book, “The Power of Positive Thinking” said:
The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.
But what if you are not naturally a positive thinker, but more of a “the glass is half empty” kind of person? The good news is that you can begin to change your thinking to improve your health. If you are not sure where to start, consider some of these suggestions as a place to begin:
Count your blessings. There is an old hymn that was sung when I was girl. When I felt down and discouraged, I would sing this song. It went like this:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed. When you are discouraged thinking all is lost. Count your many blessings every doubt will fly. Then you will be singing as the days go by. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings. See what God has done.
Sometimes it helps to list what you are grateful for on paper. If you need a place to start, an excellent resource is the book “One Thousand Gifts: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces” by Ann VosKamp. Through a series of 60 short devotionals, the author walks you through a journey to greater appreciation and thankfulness for all that you have.
Learn to be content with what you have. At the holidays, especially, it is easy to get caught up in thinking about what we wish we had and those things we don’t have. Try looking at it the other way- even in relationship to your health. For example, several years ago I had a catastrophic skiing accident, breaking my leg and tearing all of my knee ligaments. A subsequent blood clot complication meant that I couldn’t have surgery to repair the knee right away. After being in a wheelchair, on crutches, and in awful pain for months, with the help of countless hours of painful therapy and surgery a year later, I was finally able to walk almost normally again. Every day since then, when I am tempted to complain that I will never ski again, cannot kneel or squat, or do not have complete range of motion in that knee, I remind myself of those months when I couldn’t walk at all without help and how it felt to be completely dependent on others for everything. Each step I take, each walk in the sunshine, each little jaunt to the car, and the ability to ride a bicycle is a blessing. Every movement without pain is a bonus I never thought I would have again. Take time to recall when your situation was worse, and express joy that things are better than they were then.
Help others. One of the best ways to stop feeling sorry for yourself and cultivate an attitude of gratitude is to serve others, especially those who are less fortunate than you. Volunteer to help serve food at the community Thanksgiving dinner or participate in Operation Christmas Child by making a shoebox for a boy or girl in a developing country who would otherwise have no gifts. Take food to your local food pantry. Mow the lawn or shovel snow for your widowed neighbor. Invite the single and lonely person to share Thanksgiving dinner with your family. Buy gifts through the Angel Tree Ministry for children of those in prison. Adopt a needy family. Even if you are homebound, you can encourage others by simple but meaningful tasks such as sending birthday or holiday cards to the people in your church or community group. A simple encouraging phone call can change a person’s day. By giving to others, you focus on positive parts of life and meaningful activities that in turn promote your positive mental health.
So, this Thanksgiving, push the pause button for a little while and take a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for. You may just find that Thanksgiving is good for your health.
As a devoted caregiver for an aging parent, you have to be ready to face a wealth of new responsibilities. Some of them will be intimidating, whereas others will be unfamiliar and unforeseen. Every now and then, you may feel alone and overwhelmed. However, in spite of all these challenges, caring for an aging parent comes with plenty of rewards too. There are many guidelines you should consider to make the process run smoother. Here are some steps to consider.
Bring the whole family together decide on a caregiving plan
Before making any decisions, you should set up a family meeting and decide with your siblings what’s best for your parent. Should you hire a home care assistant for your parent, or would it be better to put them in respite care home? If your parents are mentally stable but are having difficulties remembering things, or heading out to shop for groceries, you and your siblings may be able to be their caregivers. Split tasks equally by making a weekly plan. This way, your parents get the chance to see their kids, and you won’t have to get angry that nobody else but you in the family is looking after the parents.
Split responsibilities equally
Proper elder care takes a lot of time and effort. Careful planning is fundamental for your parents to live happy and not feel like a burden. Always remember that providing care for a loved one is an act of love, loyalty, and kindness. Thanks to advanced technology, it is now easier than ever to keep in touch with aging parents. Medical treatments are improving, life expectancy’s are increasing, and seniors are living well into their 70s. If you know little about caregiving, follow the tips below to provide the best care for your elder parent:
- Learn everything there is to know about their disability or illness. This will help you be prepared in case something unexpectedly happens.
- Look for professional help from certified caregivers.
- Go with your gut, and listen carefully to a doctor’s advice. If they tell you that an assisted living facility is better for your loved one, then they’re probably right.
Elder parents will do anything to preserve their independence, even if it means living on their own with a chronic illness or disability. Don’t allow them to struggle and try to make their lives more comfortable by caring for their well being.