Your Place or Mine?

by John Stuck
When you begin to notice that your senior loved one is having difficulty maintaining independence in their Minneapolis home, families most often have some decisions to make. Could independence be maintained by hiring home care? Is Mom and/or Dad a candidate for a independent senior apartment? Maybe moving them to a Minnesota assisted living facility is the best option? More adult children are choosing to move their senior loved one into their home. That is why Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis created the Too Close for Comfort Campaign. Download this guide for boomers and the seniors who live with them.

The reasons different generations decide to live together are as varied as the families themselves, but three factors often come into play:

  • Shared Caregiving: Families are coming together to share caregiving duties — either an elderly loved one needs care or an older adult is providing care to his or her grandchildren.
  • Finances: The economy is affecting everyone, especially Minneapolis seniors living on fixed incomes. Moving in with family can sometimes save money on food, utilities, and other essentials.
  • Physical or Emotional Support: Seniors may feel the need for the physical or emotional support of extended family after losing a spouse, dealing with health issues, or having problems maintaining their property.

See how one family found the decision very easy to make and how they’re making cohabitation work for their entire family.

If you’re already living the intergenerational life, perhaps your family has encountered a few challenges. Regardless of the situation, you or your senior loved ones probably have many questions, such as:

  • Is it best financially to maintain separate residences or to move in together?
  • Do you have the resources to take care of your elderly loved one in your home or should you hire home care? Read our latest blog post on the cost of home care and how to pay for it..
  • What role will adult siblings play?
  • If you’re a senior, will you lose your independence?
  • Should you move Mom or Dad to your home, or should you move into theirs?
  • Is the home safe for a senior and, if not, what changes need to be made?
  • How do you handle separate bank and savings accounts, and joint expenses?
  • Are there young children at home? If so, what do they think about it?

senior_family_meetingCommunication is the key to making your combined family work, says Matthew Kaplan Ph.D., Penn State Intergenerational Programs extension specialist. “Families must address the issues at hand — from multiple perspectives — when they arise…Ask yourself, ‘What can we do to come together and figure things out?'”

Independent research conducted by the Boomer Project on behalf of Home Instead Senior Care sheds new light on the growing population of family caregivers who are choosing to live with and provide home care for a parent.  One of the factors driving this trend is the need for emotional support. For details, view and print the Executive Summary of this research.

The Ups and Downs of Living Together

So what do multigenerational families say about the experience? Living together has its ups and downs.

Positive feelings of care and accomplishment can mix with stress. “Each family member has needs that should be taken into consideration. Individual needs, though, need to be viewed in the context of the health of the overall family unit. People need independence, but interdependence and family unity are important as well, particularly in today’s hectic and demanding world,” Kaplan says.

Support, Inside and Out

If families are living together and seniors need care, adult children will need support inside the home, whether the support comes from other family members or in the form of professional respite assistance.

“The best time to discuss this issue is when you’re willing to give up your house,” Kaplan notes. “That’s when it’s time to get your spouse and children behind the idea and communicate with adult siblings. Talk to your brothers and/or sisters and let them know you may need respite help.”

“When a decision to combine families is made, expectations must be set right away,” he said. “Family members must listen and become engaged in the conversation. The more the family buys in at the beginning, the more likely they will be to come up with great ideas.”

Setting aside time for your nuclear family is important too. “Consistent daily scheduling allows for formal and informal interaction,” Kaplan recommends. “If you do things right, the result is a strong, more unified family.”

Home Instead Senior Care worked with Matthew Kaplan Ph.D. to develop these tips for the multigenerational family.

  1. Take a family partnership perspective. Everyone needs to be informed and to give input into the arrangements.
  2. Set expectations right away. People understand it’s not just what they get out of it, but how they fit into the family.
  3. Ask for help. Engage your children in responsibilities around the home and make it clear to adult siblings that you expect them to be involved. If extended family members will not help with respite care, arrange for a professional caregiver service.
  4. Distinguish between private space and shared space. Shared space should be stocked with material inviting for all ages and items that could stimulate discussion, such as a child’s project or “brag book” of photos. Make clear rules regarding the private spaces set aside for each member of the household.
  5. Make family unity key. Routines, rituals and traditions help draw the family unit together. Plan a family movie or game night or take a walk together.
  6. Keep lines of communication open. Recognize the importance of “my time” and “our time.” Try to take everyone’s needs into account. Visit for more information about bridging the communication gap between seniors and their boomer children.
  7. Find threads of common interest and build on those to develop deeper relationships. Focus on activities that provide simple ways to generate a common bond, such as ethnic cooking, family history, health or wellness.

“The main challenge of a multigenerational family is navigating individual needs and family needs,” Kaplan noted. With open communication and a well thought-out plan, the process of moving and experience living together with a senior loved one can be beneficial and rewarding.

Successful Family Gatherings With a Senior Who Has Alzheimer’s

By John Stuck
senior giftsIn November, we had a great chat with Dr. Amy D’Aprix and Confidence to Care author Molly Carpenter about dealing with Alzheimer’s and other dementias around the holidays. In case you missed the live chat, download the transcript here! This sparked a lot of conversation from those caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s which continued in December when we chatted with expert David Troxel about Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias: Handling Anger and Combativeness. View the transcript of that discussion as well! molly carpenterBetter yet, join Molly Carpenter on January 21st in a live webchat where you’ll learn tips from other caregivers who have been in similar situations, discuss the successes and challenges you face day to day and share your advice and offer solutions. Register Today!

Whether you’re anticipating a holiday get-together in Minnesota, an anniversary celebration or a family birthday party, including a loved one with Alzheimer’s often requires special considerations. Here are four pieces of advice about hosting a successful holiday family get-together with a family member who has Alzheimer’s:

1. Stick to a familiar environment. Even if Grandma isn’t able to cook the meal this year, consider gathering at her home in Minneapolis like always. Less change, less anxiety.

2. Adjust expectations. If your loved one with Alzheimer’s can’t handle cooking the meal, go the easy route! Purchase the entire cooked meal from a grocery store and use disposalable or dishwasher-safe dishes. Same great family time, less hassle and stress.

3. Prep the kids. Talk to younger family members ahead of time about being patient with Mom or Dad and offer conversation tips. For example, instead of saying, “You already asked me that, Grandma,” just politely answer her question and change the subject to something new.

4. Create opportunities to reminisce. Keep traditions alive such as decorating cookies or doing a craft. Great activities keep the kids busy, and your loved one may not struggle as much with their memory when they’re recalling happy stories from long ago.
Hopefully these tips are helpful to you and your other family members who are adapting to the reality of your loved one’s memory loss.

Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Daily Advice App

In addition to trying this advice, I invite you to download the free Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Daily Companion iPhone app, you can search for helpful tips there, too.

Gaining the Confidence to Care Book

This book focuses on both memory and behavior symptoms that family caregivers often need help with, including their senior loved one’s resistance to common personal care activities. Each of these chapters offer plenty of care approaches and prevention tips, and begin with a relevant and moving real-life family caregiver story.


Get 3 Free Chapters now Or, Get the Entire Book for Free!

To request a free copy of the book, go to our Contact Us page, enter your information and, in the Comments section, provide your address and note that you’d like the Confidence to Care book. We’ll ship it to you for free! If you’d like to share about your experience with Alzheimer’s and the holidays or managing your loved one’s repetitive behaviors, join our book discussion.

One of the chapters in the book focuses on Anger and Aggression. Here’s a snapshot of what some of you have shared about your experience with anger and aggression in a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementias:

“My husband was such a gentle man, but now he has fits of angry outbursts.”

“Mom is quick to raise her voice and become angry with me. I am her daughter and live-in caregiver for the past 2+ years.”

“My mom-in-law has dementia, & it’s really getting bad. She slaps me, curses me, but I just walk it off. It’s really hard, but that’s what I do. It’s really, really hard. Believe me.”

My hope in sharing these experiences is that if you’re dealing with similar behaviors, you’ll find some amount of comfort and hope in the realization that you are not alone.

(Before I go on, I should also mention that not all people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias eventually become violent or aggressive. While these situations happen in some cases, not everyone experiences these behaviors.)

If you are at a loss for how to deal with a loved one’s aggression or anger, I want to assure you that there are ways to help minimize those behaviors.

Here are a few couple tips from the Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Daily Companion app that the caregivers in our Minneapolis community found most helpful:

  1. Arguing with someone with dementia isn’t helpful. It often adds to their frustration and anger. Try redirection instead.
  2. Look for triggers. Was your loved one scared, tired or frustrated? Did you push them too hard to take that shower?

For additional tips, you can download the app for free or access aggression and anger tips via the Home Instead Senior Care Dementia Support Network online.

(By the way, many of you have asked about an Android version of the app. Currently it is only available for iPhone, but an Android version is in the works! Stay tuned.)

Finally, I invite you to learn more about our Alzheimer’s and dementia CARE services where you can request a CAREGiver who can assist and monitor your loved one so that you can enjoy your holiday gathering as well.

Free Book, App and Kit for Dealing with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

alz_walkOn September 21, 2013 the Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis team headed to Minnesota’s prized Target Field to walk, raise money and support the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®. As the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research, their vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. As one of the most feared diseases, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis presents many challenges for families who have a senior loved one with this disease, especially since an estimated 70% of people with Alzheimer’s live at home. Plus, it may be impossible to predict behaviors exhibited by a person struggling with Alzheimer’s. “Many family caregivers wake up every day with anxiety and fear because they don’t know how a loved one with Alzheimer’s will act or react,” said John Stuck, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Minneapolis and the western suburbs. One of Home Instead Senior Care network’s first reported experiences with Alzheimer’s disease involved a senior who refused to change clothes. She insisted on wearing the same gray pantsuit every day, all day. Maybe you face similar frustrating situations as you care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Without understanding what triggers the behaviors associated with the disease, or knowing practical techniques to help counter them, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But discovering simple tips, like buying a duplicate pantsuit to encourage the senior into a fresh set of clothes, can mean the difference between endless frustration and a positive care experience. In recognition of World Alzheimer’s Month (September 2013), Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is offering a number of free resources to help Minnesota families who are living with Alzheimer’s.

cta-book-largeGaining the Confidence to Care Book

Confidence to Care: A Resource for Family Caregivers Providing Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias Care at Home is your essential handbook to becoming more confident in your ability to understand, manage and even help alleviate dementia-related behavioral symptoms that your loved one may be prone to exhibit.

Why We Wrote the Book

We wrote this book to help you. This book combines personal stories with practical techniques drawn from decades of caregiving experience from family caregivers, professional CAREGivers℠ within the Home Instead Senior Care® network, and internationally recognized experts.

All profits from this book will be donated to the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation and designated for dementia-related organizations and causes.

What You’ll Learn from This Book

This book focuses on both memory and behavior symptoms that family caregivers often need help with, including their senior loved one’s resistance to common personal care activities. Each of these chapters offer plenty of care approaches and prevention tips, and begin with a relevant and moving real-life family caregiver story. The chapter topics include:

  • Aggression and Anger
  • Agitation and Anxiety
  • Bedtime Struggles and Sleep Problems
  • Confusion and Memory Loss
  • Delusions
  • False Accusations and Paranoia
  • Hiding/Misplacing Things/Rummaging
  • Hostility
  • Judgment (problems with decision-making and problem-solving)
  • Medication Mismanagement
  • Mood Changes
  • Repetition
  • Sexually Inappropriate Behavior
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Wandering

Get 3 Free Chapters now Or, Get the Entire Book for Free!

To request a free copy of the book, go to our Contact Us page, enter your information and, in the Comments section, provide your address and note that you’d like the Confidence to Care book. We’ll ship it to you for free!

alz_appAlzheimer’s and Other Dementias Daily Advice App

Families can use this free smartphone app to search behaviors and help find solutions when they have to react quickly to a situation. It’s designed to help families manage issues as they arise, whether at their Minneapolis home or in public. Issues such as: “How do I deal with a mother who is always accusing me of stealing from her?” That’s a common question asked by many sons and daughters caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. The accusation scenario could just as easily be replaced with: who won’t eat her food, who refuses to shower, who hides her underwear in my purse, who curses at me, who urinates in the bedroom floor vent, or who doesn’t recognize me. While the situation at hand may differ from day to day and from person to person, the core question remains: How do I deal?

alzheimers mn app preview

An App Designed to Help You Deal

We created the Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Daily Companion App as a pocket guide to help get you through all the dementia care situations you likely never dreamed you’d have to face. You can download this free app now so when you have a question about the best way to handle a home care situation, you’ll have quick, helpful tips from experts and other caregivers instantly at your fingertips.

App Overview & Features

The Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Daily Companion is an iOS mobile app available in the app store for download at no cost. It offers immediate advice with close to 500 searchable tips and practical solutions to help deal with behaviors and situations related to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Features include:

  • 25 topic categories containing close to 500 searchable pieces of advice from experts and other caregivers regarding:
    • Behaviors and situations
    • Emotional support
    • Helpful resources
  • “Ask a Question” submission form if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for
  • 24-hour caregiving assistance available via a toll-free phone number or email submission
  • Functionality to share advice from your own experience for the benefit of other caregivers
  • A built-in rating system for users to provide feedback on each tip so caregivers benefit from others’ insight and evaluation of the advice
  • Access to free Alzheimer’s and other dementias caregiver resources and training materials
  • Ability to access all of the solutions and tips without Internet connectivity

Confidence to Care At Home Kit

alzheimers_kitConfidence to Care also highlights the importance of caring for yourself while caring for others. This at home kit contains, an at-a-glance collection of information, tips and resources to help handle difficult situations, avoid household accidents, encourage engagement and prevent caregiver stress, that is designed for any member of the household to reference, anytime they need it.

Download the Complete Guide

“According to experts, Alzheimer’s either is or may someday be a reality for about one-third of the families in our community,” said Stuck. “We want to replace their fears with a sense of confidence that they are equipped to handle any situation.”

Care for the Caregiver to Prevent Distress

cargiver - overwhelmedThe responsibilities and challenges of caring for a loved one in their Minnesota home can place significant stress on the family caregiver. In fact, this stress can build up to actually cause caregiver distress—a situation where the caregiver may become more susceptible to other health risks such as such as ulcers and weight loss/gain or even more chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease. home care mn As we noted in our June blog, there are many risk factors including being a woman and caring for senior with Alzheimer’s Disease. To prevent caregiver distress take the Family Caregiver Distress Assessment, adapted for Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis to learn how to deal with the stress of caregiving and balance the varied emotions that so many family caregivers struggle to understand. The reason this “self reflection” method is so important is that repressing emotions takes a terrible toll on family caregivers.

Research conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care® network reveals that caregivers who hide their emotions are 2.3 times more likely than other caregivers to have experienced depression since becoming a caregiver. Why is it so common for caregivers to hide their emotions (and don’t say it’s a Minnesota Norwegian thing)? As we noted in last month’s blog post, some don’t recognize that they are a caregiver. Others have difficulty processing their emotions and many don’t have an outlet for expressing or sharing their emotions. “It’s difficult to admit feeling angry or frustrated when it comes to caring for your parents,” said Dr. Amy D’Aprix, a caregiving expert. “The uninformed often give disapproving stares if you’re a family caregiver and say you’re feeling frustrated…It’s great to free up caregivers to express their emotions as just that – their true feelings about what they’re going through on their caregiving journey.”

Hear more from Dr. D’Aprix in this video.

Dr. D’Aprix recommends the following process to help caregivers come to grips with the rigors of caregiving.

  1. Acknowledge feelings. It’s OK to feel conflicting emotions as a family caregiver. Perhaps 30% of your emotions are anger-related and 20% are guilt but 50% is love. Try to hang onto that 50% of your heart that knows you’re doing the right thing.
  2. Manage the situation. Oftentimes there’s no other way around it: Caregivers need help. If you can’t find support with family, go to trusted friends, faith community or consider speaking to a home care provider.
  3. Release the feelings in a safe way. Journaling is one effective way that family caregivers can get their feelings out. Talking to other caregivers at a support group or talking to a therapist might also help.
  4. Find solutions. Relaxation is one option. “Make a list of things you enjoy doing to reduce stress,” Dr. D’Aprix advises. Reading, watching a favorite television show, attending a faith service, exercising, visiting a museum, meeting friends and listening to music are all activities that many caregivers enjoy…”

Once you re-discover activities you enjoy, Just 15-20 minutes here and there each day when you can focus on yourself will make a world of difference in managing your caregiver stress.  According to a new Home Instead Senior Care survey, 55% of family caregivers that employed professional caregiving services appeared to have above average or significant levels of stress as they came on board.

home_care_mnThese tips are recommended while taking care of an aging loved one:

  • Work out: Exercise and enjoy something you like to do (walking, dancing, biking, running, swimming, etc.) for a minimum of 20 minutes at least three times per week. Consider learning a stress-management exercise such as yoga or tai-chi, which teach inner balance and relaxation Minneapolis was recently named one of the top healthiest states because of the vast opportunity for exercise.
  • Keep your medical appointments: Make sure you get your annual check-up. Being a caregiver provides many excuses for skipping your necessary check-ups, but don’t do it. A healthy you is worth more to your aging loved one than a sick, weak you.
  • Meditate: Sit still and breathe deeply with your mind as “quiet” as possible whenever things feel like they are moving too quickly or you are feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities as a caregiver. Many times you will feel like you don’t even have a minute to yourself, but it’s important to walk away and to take that minute.
  • Take a break: Consider respite which is full time-short term care that others can provide (family, friends, volunteers or professional caregivers) while you get a break. Take single days or even a week’s vacation. And when you’re away, stay away. Talk about different things, read that book you haven’t been able to get to, take naps, whatever relaxes you and makes you happy.
  • Indulge: Treat yourself to a foot massage, manicure, nice dinner out or a concert to take yourself away from the situation and to reward yourself for the wonderful care you are providing to your senior relative. You shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting to feel good.

And, laugh! Mary Maxwell has some advice for a senior whose daughter is not making the above mentioned life choices.

Everyone needs some pampering occasionally, for both physical and mental health. If you’re caring for a senior in their home, don’t feel guilty if you treat yourself once in a while…you deserve it and you need it.

Processing the Mixed Emotions of Caregiving

homecaremnCaring for a senior loved one in Minneapolis can come with a contradiction of emotions. For example, research conducted by Home Instead Senior Care® Minneapolis points out that nearly three-fourths (74%) of family caregivers who hide their feelings are overwhelmed, but that same percent of people caring for their Mom or Dad also feel loved. In addition, 64% feel anxious while these same caregivers feel satisfied. A key finding of the research: hiding one’s feelings increases the risk for caregiver distress. As we noted in last month’s blog post, caregiver distress is a situation where the stress of caring for a senior in their home makes one more susceptible to health risks such as high blood pressure, diabetes and  stroke. Watch the video below to learn what Home Instead Minneapolis is doing to uncover this issue and provide home care assistance.

emotions_caregivingHome Instead Senior Care® Minneapolis’ Family Caregiver Stress Relief program is designed to assist caregivers in better identifying their potential for distress in an effort to help avoid its adverse impact. Resources featured here can help family caregivers learn how to deal with the stress of caregiving and balance the varied emotions that so many family caregivers struggle to understand. One U.S. study of 38 years of research revealed that surveyed caregivers had a 23% higher level of stress hormones and a 15% lower level of antibody responses than did non-caregivers. That’s why it is important for a person to first recognize that they’re a caregiver by taking our quiz.

Next, one should take an honest look at their emotions.  Caregiving expert Dr. Amy D’Aprix says caregivers should try to avoid classifying emotions as good and bad. “Just recognizing it’s normal to feel many emotions when you’re a family caregiver helps take the power away from the emotion.” She offers that other major life events also bring conflicting feelings. Who wasn’t scared to walk down the aisle and what Mom didn’t grab a tissue when they proudly dropped their child off at the University of Minnesota? Two attributes set caregiving apart: the intensity of caregiving situations and the lack of planning that generally precipitates the need for care. Dr. D’Aprix offers these tips to help caregivers overcome the anxiety of the unexpected need for caregiving.

  1. Look at your situational concern. What can you control? If your Dad is diabetic, you can control the food you serve. What you cannot control is what he eats. Other common worries such as passing away before your senior loved one are things you can’t control, so try not to worry.
  2. Have an outlet. Find someone you can talk to without judgement. This could be a friend, support group or home care provider. Caregivers who repress their feelings are most likely to feel frustration over increasing demands on their time (56%), experiencing the physical demands of caregiving (41%) and lacking control over their emotions (34%).
  3. Recognize your limitations. Be realistic about what you can do. While you might be the perfect person to make a meal for a senior, you probably shouldn’t be providing medical care services. Set priorities and get help from a home health care provider when needed.

home care mn If you’re showing signs of caregiver distress, consider talking with a healthcare professional that can help you to evaluate your situation. Remember, it is not selfish to focus on your own needs and desires when you are a family caregiver. In fact, it is important that you take initiative with your own physical and emotional care so that you can best assist the person you are caring. Approximately 74% of caregivers who hide their feelings report fatigue, 53% report difficulty sleeping, 37% report depression, and 30% experience weight gain or loss. Take the Family Caregiver Distress Assessment, adapted for the Home Instead Senior Care network  to learn how to deal with the stress of caregiving and balance the varied emotions that so many family caregivers struggle to understand.

Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias Family Education Workshop

We’ve all heard at least some of the statistics. Maybe you already knew that one in eight seniors aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. But did you know that by 2030, the number of adults living with dementia will almost double (according to the World Alzheimer’s Report, Alzheimer’s Disease International)? Maybe you don’t need to hear these statistics to realize the impact of Alzheimer’s on people’s lives because you’re living it. Are you caring for an aging parent or relative in Minneapolis with Alzheimer’s disease? Do you want to find out more about what causes dementia, and the signs to watch for? Are you familiar with the behaviors – such as wandering and aggression – that can be caused by Alzheimer’s and other dementias? You need to know that there is support for you and your loved one. Home Instead Senior Care developed a unique training program called CARE so that our CAREGiversSM  can provide the highest quality of home care service, changing the way people live with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. CARE stands for Changing Aging through Research and EducationSM and we’re excited to bring this program to family members of those with Alzheimer’s through our Family Education Workshops.

Next Workshop!
Date:  Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 6-8:30pm
Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapolis in Maple Grove, Minnesota
If you are interested in attending, please call us at  763-544-5988 or RSVP on our Facebook page.

We will briefly discuss the causes of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, the symptoms and how they are diagnosed. The focus will be on understanding the behaviors and learning to engage your loved one. Our workshops are audience guided and interactive so you’re sure to have your questions answered.

Topics include:
• Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias
• Capturing Life’s Journey
• Techniques to Handle Challenging Behaviors
• Activities to Encourage Engagement

Capturing Life’s Journey

This workshop will help you:
1. Discover how capturing your loved one’s life’s journey can help you and others provide the best care for your loved one.
2. Learn techniques to encourage your senior loved one to share their stories and memories.
3. Become familiar with the format of the Life Journal and how to record information about your loved one’s past.
4. Find out how to use the Life Journal in partnership with professional caregivers.

Techniques to Handle Challenging Behaviors

This workshop will help you:
1. Learn more about the challenging behaviors that may be displayed by those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
2. Discover techniques to help handle these behaviors.
3. Determine what techniques work best to manage different types of behaviors.

Activities to Encourage Engagement

This workshop will help you:
1. Learn about the benefits of staying active for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
2. Learn about three types of activities – for mind, body, and soul.
3. Discover various techniques to encourage your loved one to engage in an activity.
4. Become familiar with activities that are suitable for late stage Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, to stimulate your loved one’s five senses.

Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias

This workshop will help you:
1. Learn about the causes of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
2. Recognize the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
3. Discover how Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are diagnosed.
4. Understand more about the behaviors that can be caused by the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapolis is committed to making coping with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related issues, such as memory loss as easy as possible. That is why we’re a proud sponsor of the Caring for a Person with Memory Loss Conference in Minneapolis, MN.  According to Joseph Gaugler, Ph.D., Associate Professor, McKnight Presidential Fellow, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Applied Gerontology, School of Nursing, Center on Aging at the University of Minnesota and coordinator of the conference, “The Caring for a Person with Memory Loss conference is designed to share tools, skills, resources, information, and wisdom with families and care professionals about the most effective ways to care for persons with memory concerns. With more than 5 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia and 15.4 million people provided care for these individuals, the need to share relevant, effective care approaches and ideas to improve the quality of life of persons with memory loss is more critical than ever. To this end, our June 1st, 2013 Caring for a Person with Memory Loss conference will touch on several key topics including different types of dementia, family dynamics, art therapy, and abuse issue in person with memory loss. As this conference is a community education event and free for families, the kindness of sponsors such as Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapols is critical to help us provide speaker honoraria, offer copies of presentation materials to attendees, provide refreshments to attendees, and live stream and record the conference for future viewing by attendees and others.”
The conference is free and will be held Saturday, June 1st at the at the Mayo Memorial Auditorium in Minneapolis, MN. To learn more or to register, click here!

Returning Home

If your mom or dad is about to be discharged from a Minneapolis hospital, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns. Will he or she be able to stay home in Minnesota alone? If not, how much home care will be needed and for how long? Will insurance cover their care? A great place to start is our FREE Returning Home Guide developed by Home Instead Minneapolis to help make the transition from hospital to home a smooth one.


Next, talk to your loved one’s doctor or discharge coordinator to create a plan of care. Key issues to discuss with the discharge planner include:

  • Expected date of discharge
  • Type of aftercare required including the level of skilled care
  • Staff recommendations for discharge options

Options for Services and Rehabilitation After a Hospital Stay

There are three primary transitional care or rehabilitation options available and each has its own rules, regulations, and entrance requirements.

  1. Inpatient—Nursing facility/rehabilitation hospital – This option is typically necessary if your family member will benefit from specialist treatment following the hospital stay, such as intense physical therapy and requires a doctor’s order.
    Time spent in a Minneapolis skilled nursing facility or rehab center typically lasts for weeks not months, and if continued rehab is required beyond the inpatient stay it usually takes place at home or an outpatient center.
  2. Home—Certified home health care agency or in-home health care services—If your family member only needs part-time rehab or skilled health care services such as wound care or monitoring of medications and equipment, then home health care may be the right option for them. Depending upon need, care can be provided by nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants or certified home health aides.
    If your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia care, there are a wealth of resources for you to consider. Often, a non-medical but trained home companion will be able to assist with mobility, medication reminders and special dietary issues.
  3. Outpatient—Rehabilitation center or adult day health center—In order for your senior loved to utilize this care option, they must be able to travel to the center in order for his or her after care needs to be met. Typically outpatient rehabilitation centers provide physical, occupational and speech and language therapy.
    Often, a combination of in-home care services and outpatient rehabilitation services works well in this scenario. For example, caregivers provided by an in-home senior care agency like your local Home Instead Senior Care® office could assist with transportation to rehabilitation. Also it is common for top rehabilitation facilities to have waiting lists so start early to find a center that will accept your loved one when he or she is ready to be discharged.

Guidelines: Determining Service Options After Discharge

  • What level of skilled nursing care or specialist rehabilitation services are required and for how long?
  • Are these after care services covered by Medicare or other insurers and if so, for how long?
  • Does your loved one need full-time/around the clock, daily or intermittent care?
  • Will transportation be a factor for both inpatient and outpatient options?
  • Does the Minnesota facility (outpatient or inpatient) have extended hours of operation, convenient visiting hours and are meals/snacks provided?

As the primary family caregiver there are also many personal factors for you to consider as well:

  • How much time do you have to help out?
  • Will you need to take time off from work?
  • Do you have a back-up caregiver in the event of an emergency?
  • Are you physically able to lift or move your family member?
  • Can you handle additional tasks such as picking up medicine and taking care of your loved one’s home?

Once you have answered these questions your loved one’s medical providers and you can decide which post-discharge care option is best for your loved one. Knowing what options are available and weighing each against your loved one’s desires and needs can help you make a well-informed decision that will help to ensure a successful recovery.

power-of-attorney-480x450What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

A health care power of attorney, also called a health care proxy or a durable power of attorney for health care, helps protect your loved one’s end-of-life wishes. It is a document that appoints a trusted individual to make decisions regarding your loved one’s medical care, and it becomes effective when he or she can no longer communicate effectively or coherently with others.

The person designated as your loved one’s health care power of attorney, also known as an “agent,” should be a trusted individual who knows your senior loved one’s religious beliefs and has the ability and time to act on his or her behalf.

Your loved one can give a health care agent as much or as little power to oversee his or her health care wishes and make medical decisions as feels comfortable. However, many people give their health care agent comprehensive power to supervise their care.

Each state has unique health care power of attorney laws and due to potential conflicts of interest, most do not allow medical providers or their employees to be named as agents. Many states also have free health care power of attorney forms that you can download from their websites.

What Medical Wishes Does a Health Care Power of Attorney Cover?

Seniors and their health care power of attorney discuss the following items:

  • Does your loved one want aggressive health care measures or life-prolonging treatments in the event of a chronic and debilitating illness?
  • Does he or she want to be resuscitated in the event of heart failure or stopped breathing?
  • Are there any medical treatments to which he or she has a religious objection?

How to Help Your Loved One Appoint a Health Care Power of Attorney

Most of us do not like to consider the possibility that we may become incapacitated and unable to make our own decisions anymore. When discussing the need for a health care power of attorney with your loved one it is important to be considerate, patient and not demanding.

Below are some issues to consider when helping your loved one legally appoint a health care power of attorney:

  • Make sure your loved one understands that the health care power of attorney document is intended to ensure that his or her wishes will be respected.
  • Be careful about adding restrictive language to a health care power of attorney document as it is important that the agent is able to respond to changing medical needs as they develop, even ones that cannot be foreseen.

How to Assess the Amount of Care Needed

Below is a checklist below to help family caregivers determine how much care they might need to provide.

  1. Patient Restrictions and Activities: Will your family member be able take a bath or shower, lift heavy items or walk up stairs? Can they be left alone? Are you prepared to help your loved one with exercise instructions?
  2. Equipment and Supplies: Make a list of items you will have to shop. They might include a hospital bed, shower chair, oxygen supply, disposable gloves or special skin care items.
  3. Home Safety: Do you need to move out items that might cause a fall such as area rugs or electrical cords? Do you need to make room for a hospital bed and other large equipment? Download the Returning Home Guide which includes a Home Safety Assessment.
  4. Health Care Tasks: What tasks will you have to perform and will you need any special training to accomplish them? Plan on receiving the training, such as wound care or taking and recording vital signs, while your family member is still in the hospital.
  5. Special Diets: Will you need to purchase and prepare any special foods? For example, your loved one may be on a liquid diet for some period of time.
  6. Medication Management: Will you be able to monitor your family member to ensure he or she takes the correct medication at the right time in the right amount? Will medications cause side effects?
  7. Follow-Up Care: Will you or another family member arrange for follow-up care and appointments? How often and where will they need to take place?
  8. Medical Expenses: As the primary caregiver you may have to manage your family member’s medical expenses including correspondence with the hospital, Medicare and insurance companies.
  9. Other Financial Issues: Are you prepared to manage your loved one’s finances, deposit retirement payments, balance his or her checking account and pay bills? There may be additional financial issues including taxes and home maintenance and repairs as well.

In addition to managing your loved one’s care, be sure to factor in time for yourself. It is important for family caregivers to take care of themselves while taking care of others. Remember that you don’t have to do everything on your own; hiring professional in-home caregiver services for even just a few hours per week can give you the time you need to focus on your own needs.

understanding-what-insurance-provides-480x450Understanding What Health Insurance Covers

One of the most common ways to finance medical care and health services for seniors in the United States is through Medicare which covers almost all Americans over the age of 65 for a large share of their medical expenses including hospitalizations, doctors’ bills, x-rays and therapies. The following steps will help family caregivers obtain the information they need to better understand their senior loved one’s insurance policies and programs before they return home from the hospital.

Contact Insurance Representatives Before Bringing Your Loved One Home

Make sure the insurance provider understands all the services and equipment that your loved one needs and ask them to provide information on what they will approve, why and for how long.

Conduct Research and Build a Support Network

  • Discuss your loved one’s insurance needs with a bank trust officer, financial planner or other investment adviser. While these individuals do not provide legal advice they can often help with insurance, retirement plans and many other issues on behalf of their clients.
  • Get to know your local pharmacist, who may be an excellent and readily available resource for information about insurance as it relates to prescription coverage.
  • Discuss insurance options and information with friends and acquaintances who have experienced similar health care situations.
  • Have family members help with sorting bills, reviewing current and potential supplemental insurance policies and conducting research.

These tips and resources will provide you a positive start in your loved one’s journey home from the hospital but it only touches the surface. Download the Returning Home Guide, then check back in the coming months as we provide more advice on bringing a senior home from the hospital.

Be a Santa to a Senior 2012 a Huge Success!

Thanks Park Nicollet Orthopedic Group for adopting Texas Terrace residents
elderly care minneapolis
Arlene and her new purse and umbrella. Thank you for sharing your story with FOX9’s Dawn Stevens.

Generous Minneapolis volunteers went “over the river and through the woods” to provide gifts and companionship to seniors who otherwise might not receive either this holiday season. Together with our partners and donors, Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis exceeded last year’s number by delivering over 2,500 gifts to Minneapolis seniors! We’d like to extend a huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone who put up trees, selected tags from our partner locations, purchased gifts and delivered them to thankful seniors. We know that this is a busy time of year and we hope that seeing the smiling faces on the seniors in this post makes it all worth it. And, motivates you to help us again next year! To stay in touch and make sure that you’re informed about our Be a Santa program next year, Like us on Facebook and you’ll see our timely updates!

Thanks Byerly’s St Louis Park

The official kick-off to the Be a Santa to a Senior program is the installation of trees at the following locations. Thank you partners!

  • Lund’s or Byerly’s stores with pharmacies in Minnetonka, St. Louis Park, Wayzata, Plymouth or downtown Minneapolis, MN
  • Starbucks 2661 Campus Drive, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 16725 C.R. 24, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 4175 Vinewood Lane North, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 7802 Olson Memorial Highway, Golden Valley, MN
  • TwinWest Chamber of Commerce – 10700 Old County Road 15, Suite 170 Plymouth, MN 55441

From there, generous donors select a tag from the trees with the name of a senior and what they’d like.

Santa loves Starbucks and Starbucks loves seniors!

They deliver the item(s) back to the location in a gift bag and Home Instead Minneapolis “elves” pick up the gifts and deliver them to to seniors in nursing homes, low income senior housing, adult day centers and personally nominated individuals. Just a few of the senior residences include Augustana, Golden Living Center of Hopkins and Texas Terrace.

Thank you MN School of Business and faculty.

This huge success would not have been possible without our partners which include Byerly’s & Lund’s Pharmacy locations, Starbucks, TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, Mulitband, Minneapolis Women’s Club, Park Nicollet Orthopedic Group, Sharepoint Credit Union, MN School of Business, Woodland Elementary

Byerly’s St Louis Park taking it to the finish line with these 5 carts of gifts!

Here’s how the program works. The Home Instead Senior Care network partners with local non-profit and community organizations. Together they identify seniors who perhaps live alone, do not have family members nearby, or are experiencing financial difficulties. The program targets many seniors who otherwise might not receive gifts or visits from family during the holidays.

Thanks to Woodland Elementary school staff and students

Home Instead Minneapolis then works with local businesses and retail stores that are willing to help by placing trees and ornaments within their various locations. The involvement from busy stores gives the program visibility and provides a convenient way for shoppers to volunteer their assistance during the busy holiday season.

Thank you Tara and Sharepoint Credit Union in St Louis Park

Since its inception, the Be a Santa to a Senior has attracted nearly 60,000 volunteers throughout North America, and has provided 1.2 million gifts to over 700,000 seniors who are in need of assistance or companionship. Now you can join the movement and help a senior in your Minnesota community.

Thank you to MULTIBAND for adopting Golden Living Center of Hopkins for our BE A SANTA TO A SENIOR program.

Need Further Information?

Go to the Be a Santa to a Senior website, for more information.

If you shop at Byerly’s in St Louis Park then you must recognize John from customer service helping me with a load of gifts!

Holiday Visit Checklist and Top 10 Gifts for Seniors

home careHeading home to Minneapolis to visit a senior for the holidays? Often times, it isn’t until we see for ourselves how Mom or Dad is living that we get involved in their care at home and begin to inquire about services. Even if you’ve recently visited Mom or Dad, now is the time complete a checklist to make sure the conditions of aging aren’t jeopardizing your senior’s health and safety. Complete this checklist provided by Home Instead Senior Care® Minneapolis. If you see any of these situations, your senior may need extra help.

  1. Look in the medicine cabinet. Review the number of pills prescribed, refill date and number of pills in the bottle to help determine if your loved one is taking the accurate amount of medication. According to Arcadia Healthcare, at least 1.5 million Americans are sickened, injured or killed each year by errors in prescribing, dispensing and taking medications and it’s the number two cause of hospital re-admittance.
  2. Look in the refrigerator, freezer and drawers. Spoiled food or an empty refrigerator can mean your elderly loved one can’t get to the grocery store. Declining health may be prompting more convenience and junk foods, and a neglect of proper nutrition. According to Mayo Clinic here in Minnesota, older adults often have health issues that can lead to decreased appetite or trouble eating. These can include chronic illness, difficulty chewing or swallowing and diminished taste and smell.
  3. Look on top of furniture and countertops. Dust and dirt in high and low places of their home may be signs that household tasks are becoming more difficult for your parents. Caution your senior not to climb or reach where they’re no longer able. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), falls are the leading cause of injury and deaths among older adults. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
  4. Look at your senior’s appearance. Unkempt clothing may signal that your loved one is neglecting personal hygiene because of failing vision. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota cites macular degeneration as the leading cause of severe vision loss in people age 60 and older. Gray or blank spots may mask the center of your senior’s visual field. The condition usually develops gradually, but sometimes progresses rapidly, leading to severe vision loss in one or both eyes.
  5. Look under beds and sofas. Old newspapers, books and magazines stowed there may show a decreased ability for your parent to organize things which creates a fire hazard. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, older adults are 2.5 times more likely to die in fires than the overall population. It may also be a sign of hoarding which is caused by a mental condition.
  6. Look to your parents’ Minneapolis area neighbors to find out about their daily routine. If your seniors are at home more, watching television and avoiding stimulating conversation and companionship or not getting their mail daily, it may be a sign they need help at home.
  7. Look through the mail. A parent’s dementia may cause him or her to forget to pay bills and answer correspondence. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that as many as 5.2 million people in the United States are living with the disease, which is characterized by forgetfulness.

If it appears that Mom or Dad need home care services or you’d simply feel better if someone checked in on them, consider contacting Home Instead Senior Care. Our CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured, and equipped to help seniors with their home care and companionship needs such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errands and shopping.

Top 10 Holiday Requests Seniors Likely Want But Won’t Ask For

minneapolis seniorminneapolis senior

What do you get Grandma this year? A new blanket . . . again? How about a pair of slippers? While those gifts could satisfy the needs or desires of a senior loved one, why not choose a present that is even more meaningful: a gift from the heart. Once you choose something, download this Holiday Elf Certificate, write down your intended activity and give it to the senior in your life as the best holiday gift they could get.

  1. Wrap and send packages. Arthritis can make wrapping those holiday presents a challenge. Schedule a gift-wrapping afternoon, complete with hot chocolate, cookies and plenty of family stories.
  2. Take your loved one shopping. Whether you plan a trip to the Minnesota Mall of America or an online shopping spree, make it a special day.
  3. Send holiday greetings. Offer to spend an afternoon helping your loved one address and send holiday cards, either by mail or as online photo greetings. This helps friends & family to know that your Mom or Dad is doing well and makes it more likely that they’ll receive holiday cards from others.
  4. Lend a hand.  Carry on the holiday cooking traditions, asking your senior loved one to help where he or she can. Or, ask everyone to bring a favorite dish.
  5. Focus on others. Get your senior loved one and the entire family involved in gathering supplies for a homeless shelter or serving a holiday meal at Mom or Dad’s church.
  6. Deck the halls. Bending, lifting and reaching to get those holiday decorations in place isn’t always possible for an older adult. Enlist the help of the grandkids and make decorating their home a fun multi-generational activity.
  7. Stay connected. Help an older adult connect with loved ones far away, whether over the phone or through a video-calling service like Skype. Show them how to use it so that you can stay connected all year!
  8. Plan a fun event. Get a group of your senior loved one’s friends together to serenade other older adults in an assisted living facility or Minneapolis nursing home.
  9. Celebrate the reason for the season. Attend a religious program with your senior loved one. Be flexible with service times if necessary.
  10. Give the gift of time. Sometimes all an older adult wants is companionship. Download this holiday activity calendar for festive activity suggestions, then make room in your schedule to spend time together.

While you may not be able to add the following 10 gift ideas to a shopping list, you can bet they’re on your loved one’s wish list.

The Trees are Up! Be a Santa to a Senior

senior trees
John Stuck giving a pre-season “pep talk” to the trees about successful representation of Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapolis!

There’s a whistling sound coming through the trees and it’s not old man winter. It’s the buzzing sound of excitement as the Be a Santa to a Senior® program gets underway, brought to you by Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis. Trees are set up all over Minneapolis that contain tags showing names of appreciate seniors that can’t wait to receive a gift. But hurry! You must choose your senior gift recipient by December 8th, 2012. If we are going to meet and possibly exceed last year’s amazing accomplishment of delivering over 2,000 gifts, we need your help!

Join the Be a Santa to a Senior Campaign

The Be a Santa to a Senior® campaign is all about helping seniors who are alone or in need. The campaign, which first launched in 2006 by our parent organization, helps seniors to get a little TLC during the holidays. The Minneapolis office of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, the world’s largest provider of non-medical in-home care and companionship services for older adults, has partnered with local non-profits groups like Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Meals on Wheels and several Lunds/Byerlys, several nursing homes and low income housing to provide gifts and companionship to seniors who otherwise might not receive either this holiday season. It began with just one nursing home, and has since grown into a movement.

Here’s a little story that illustrates the impact this program can have on seniors’ lives. The year after its fledgling effort, Home Instead Senior Care volunteers returned to the first nursing home they had visited the year before and discovered their card to one of the residents still pinned to the bulletin board. They learned that the card and gift from Home Instead were the only ones she received that previous year, so the card continued to be very special to her.

Now you can help brighten a senior’s life too.

How to Participate in Be a Santa to a Senior

Senior Santa
Creative Be a Santa to a Senior display at Starbucks

Here’s how it works:
1. Head to any of the following locations:

  • Lund’s or Byerly’s stores with pharmacies in Minnetonka, St. Louis Park, Wayzata, Plymouth or downtown Minneapolis, MN
  • Starbucks 2661 Campus Drive, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 16725 C.R. 24, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 4175 Vinewood Lane North, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 7802 Olson Memorial Highway, Golden Valley, MN
  • TwinWest Chamber of Commerce – 10700 Old County Road 15, Suite 170 Plymouth, MN 55441

2. Locate the Christmas trees, and choose any ornament with a senior’s name on it. You will find gift suggestions for that senior printed on the ornament.
3. Purchase the item(s) listed, put the item in a gift bag, return to the store with the ornament and deliver them to a store employee.
Your participation can make a difference!

About the Be a Santa to a Senior Campaign

Here’s how the program works. The Home Instead Senior Care network partners with local non-profit and community organizations. Together they identify seniors who perhaps live alone, do not have family members nearby, or are experiencing financial difficulties. The program targets many seniors who otherwise might not receive gifts or visits from family during the holidays.

Home Instead Minneapolis then works with local businesses and retail stores that are willing to help by placing trees and ornaments within their various locations. The involvement from busy stores gives the program visibility and provides a convenient way for shoppers to volunteer their assistance during the busy holiday season.

Since its inception, the Be a Santa to a Senior has attracted nearly 60,000 volunteers throughout North America, and has provided 1.2 million gifts to over 700,000 seniors who are in need of assistance or companionship. Now you can join the movement and help a senior in your Minnesota community.

Need Further Information?

The Be a Santa to a Senior website, provides a locator tool that enables you to find a store by zip code.