Saturday, March 3, 2018

Tips for a safer, more enjoyable bathtime for your Epic Elder

How many times should an elderly person bathe? Times vary from twice a day to once a week, all depending on the individual's situation. If your Epic Elder is incontinent, bathing becomes a priority for all concerned. Otherwise, full-body soaks might be less of a necessity. Sponge baths might suffice for most of the time. Above all, your loved one needs to feel safe in the shower. Strive to make the time a pleasant experience.

10 Tips to Help with Shower Time:

1. Avoid bathtubs if at all possible. Stepping into a bathtub is a huge, scary step for most elderly people.

2. Provide a sturdy shower chair. This could also be a pull-down seat, permanently attached to the wall.

3. Install a hand-held sprayer. Let the water come to the person, instead of vice versa.

4. Provide a bath brush for reaching the back and feet. Flexibility may be a lovely memory!

5. Make sure the shower or tub has adequate grab bars.

6. Non-slip mats, both inside and outside the shower or tub, will help ensure fewer falls.

7. Cut down on bath product choices. Using a shampoo/conditioner all-in-one product will mean less confusion as to which bottle to use, less time spent washing hair, and fewer bottles in the bathing area.

8. Try to make the experience as pleasant as possible. Crank the tunes! Maybe a little Sinatra or Patsy Cline would make bath time more fun?

9. Provide soft, fluffy towels. Who doesn't like those?! Senior skin is more sensitive to roughness. Dry gently.

10. Finish the time off with some lotion and gentle massage. Perhaps add a little singing or chatting about what a beautiful person just emerged fresh and clean to greet the day!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Could I have done more for Grandmama?

It has been more than 25 years since my grandmother died.  I still think of her often.  I remember visiting her when I was really little, helping her snap peas on the back porch while singing KKKKatie.   She kept an immaculate house.  Their realtor, when my grandparents sold their little house in Newnan, GA, said she'd never seen such a clean attic.  Who cleans their attic?!

My grandparents moved to Venice, FL, for their winter years, to be close to Grandaddy's brothers and their wives.  They moved into a lovely double-wide trailer in a retirement trailer park off of Nokomis Ave., close to the citrus packing store.  I think the street was Jacaranda.  They spent many leisurely years going to "hamburgers" at the club house and to dinner with the brothers and sisters-in-law at the Picadilly Cafeteria.  I visited often as a teenager, feeling a little funny as the only one at the pool under 80.

When Grandaddy died, my husband and I moved Grandmama to Orlando, where we lived.  She was "crippled up" with rheumatoid arthritis and couldn't really do her housework anymore.  We moved her into a 3-story ALF on Delaney Ave.  We had a little girl not quite 2 years old at the time and lived in a little house in Delaney Park 5 or 6 blocks away.

Grandmama lived in several ALFs and a nursing home during her time in Orlando.  She was never happy in any of them.  She wouldn't have been happy living with us either.  She should have stayed in her own home.  If I had it to do again, I would have hired help for her in her home.  She would have been difficult to please, but she would have been so much happier.

Sometimes, I ask her to forgive me for making the wrong choices about her life.  I was very young and trying my best to be a good granddaughter, daughter, sister, wife, and mother - lots of roles for a 27-year-old.  I would have made different choices now.  I would have done everything I could to allow her to stay at home, where she was comfortable and had wonderful memories.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Don't Leave Me Stuck in the Tub!

I used to belong to a group of mothers who got together weekly to study a book, pray for one another, and share life's challenges and triumphs.  My Manna for Mothers group carried me through many trials.  A newstory in the paper caught our attention one week, and prompted us to make a group pledge.  An elderly woman, taking a bath at home alone, managed to get her big toe stuck in the tub faucet.  At first, that makes you giggle.  Who does that?!  The story quickly turned tragic and frightening.  That old woman was stuck in her tub for a very long time.  She lived alone.  Eventually, people missed her and came, with the fire department, to see about her.  I'm sure her gratefulness overcame her embarrassment, and she lived to tell the tale of her misadventure in the tub.

The moral of this story for me was very clear, and it had nothing to do with not sticking my toe in the faucet.  I looked at all the faces around the circle of mothers, and I told them, "Do not let me be that woman!"  If I'm ever a no-show at some event, I suddenly go missing, or I neglect an obligation, don't assume that I've got other plans or have become rude and forgetful in my old age.  COME SEE ABOUT ME!  I also promised them that I would do the same.

Whatever circle of friends you have, be willing to be there for them, and let them be there for you.

Here's the article that made me remember that promise from many, many years ago.

No Spouse, No Kids, No Caregiver: How to Prepare to Age Alone

Friday, August 4, 2017

Thank you for allowing us to help!

In the last 2 weeks, I spent some time with a family as a caregiver.  They needed some help organizing and cleaning.  For a couple of days, I worked along side them, and one day, I was there just in case the gentleman needed help.  What a privilege it was getting to know these wonderful people!

Sometimes, your time is best spent just being with people.  I thank them for inviting me into their home to make their world just a bit easier.  I also thank their cats!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Keeping Nana in Touch

Keegan spends many hours with his Nana.  (Our children call her G'Ma.)  Their time together is so important.  Nana has imprinted herself on Keegan's childhood.  She has shared so many  memories with him over the years.  Nana will have a life-long influence on Keegan's character, even through these years when she has slipped into a shadow of her once-vibrant self.  Keegan is learning gentle, loving care and patience as he helps Nana navigate her life these days.  He has been her mentor in learning how to communicate with the rest of the family on-line and on her cell phone.  She may be getting an I-Pad soon!  The sky is the limit with Keegan and his moms at her side - her caregivers too.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mama - A Polio Survivor!

This is one of my favorite pictures!  From left to right we are: my daughter, Miranda; me; my mother, Kathryn; and my daughter, Stephanie.  Mama was a loving and ever-present figure in my children's lives.  My son, Cary, is not in this picture, but Memama was a huge presence in his life too.  In this picture, "the girls" are touring the Wesley Child Development Center at our church, First United Methodist of Orlando.  Mama attended the church with us every Sunday.

Mama contracted polio at the age of 18 months and spent many months unable to walk due to the disease.  She remembered stories of her brothers and sisters carrying her around and caring for her.  She was an incredible fighter though!  At the age of 24, she underwent a cutting-edge surgery to transplant a ligament from her toe to her heel, which was quickly shortening.  The heel ligament was keeping her from putting her foot flat on the floor, as the heel cord tightened and pulled it shorter and shorter.  (This might not be medically correct language, but this was Mama's story and her understanding of the event.)  She was a working girl, drawing maps for a chart company, and couldn't afford the surgery.  The doctor agreed to perform the operation for $500, if she would let other surgeons examine her ligament transplant at an upcoming convention.  She agreed and gladly modeled her post-surgery scars and normal gait.  It is my understanding that she appeared in a medical textbook in the 1940s.

As many polio survivors experience, Mama began to have symptons of post-polio syndrome.  (For a fact sheet on this syndrome, follow this link.

She felt weakening of her muscles and pain throughout her body.  After years of using a cane, she finally took that cool scooter for a spin.  It had sat in her tiny duplex, fully charged, for such a long time.  The kids would ride it around the living room, but Mama's pride would not let her take it outside.  When she embraced the scooter, she broadened her horizons.  Life got way more fun, and she became a self-proclaimed "expert" on navigating small spaces and parallel parking up to tables for dinner!

I'm going to use this forum to tell you Mama's story, and I'll let her tell it herself through her poetry and essays.  She was a prolific author and went by the moniker, "Golden Writer."  I'll also tell you about my mother-in-law, Betsy.  Mama has joined her heavenly Father, but Betsy is fighting the good fight in Minneapolis, just blocks from her daughter and her family.  Mama stayed in her own apartment on her own terms until her last days.  Betsy (Mom, Nana) chooses to stay at home, with help from caregivers and her family.  (Many thanks to Kathryn, April, and Keegan!!)

Here is Mama's obituary, if you'd like to see it:

Please send me tales of your senior who stayed at home, and I'll be happy to include it on our blog.

Melanie: VP Flourish in Place