Compose Your Life Song: Planning Your Final Years, Part II

ComposeLifeSongLogoThey say every moment in your life represents a note in your personal life song. If this is true, what does your life song sound like and are you happy with it so far? Are you ready to compose the final notes? In a recent survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., 85 percent of North American seniors who have made plans for their final years agree that planning is a way for them to control how their life song ends. It’s important for seniors in Minneapolis and the surrounding communities to not only plan their retirement years, but also for the time between the active retirement years and the last days on earth. It’s never too late to enhance your song and make it an even more beautiful work of art.

To encourage conversations about loved ones’ wishes for their final years of life Home Instead Inc. has launched their latest public education campaign, Compose Your Life Song℠: Planning Your Final Years. This program will reinforce the role Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis plays in helping seniors live their final years where they choose – in their own home. The Compose Your Life Song℠ public education program offers free resources that encourage seniors and their family members to have the difficult conversations about plans and wishes for their final years, while also exploring end-of-life options, including finances and getting their affairs in order. This program also provides insurance, care and funeral planning resources.

Watch as Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis’ co-owner, Kathleen Stuck, explains what the Compose Your Life Song℠ program is all about:

5 Misconceptions About End-of-Life Planning and Hospice Care

Not many topics of conversation bring on misconceptions as end-of-life planning and hospice care do. Clearing up the confusion and recognizing the myths that often surrounds a loved one’s final days and years actually helps the family members fully understand how the senior loved one want to live to the end. Here are 5 common misconceptions:

  • I’ll think about it tomorrow.
  • It’s best to avoid uncomfortable end-of-life conversations.
  • Developing and end-of-life plan is a one-time event.
  • Hospice services should not be discussed until death is imminent.
  • Hospice care is more expensive.

Understanding each of these misconceptions and working through the myths of one’s final years and the decisions that surround that time will empower the family caregivers to help their loved ones make necessary choices and tough decisions together. It may even spark the conversation for their own plans which will benefit their children in the end. To learn more detailed information on each misconception, click here.

Final Years Planning: Where to Find Assistance

If all of this seems overwhelming, you are not alone. Communication is key when developing a final years’ plan for your loved one and talking with professionals and family members will help ensure the important aspects of the plan are in place. Following are the key aspects of a plan and the professionals who can help:

  • Consult with an attorney
  • Find a financial planner
  • Locate a funeral director

Read more tips as well as detailed information for each one by clicking here. You can also read Financial Planning for Your Final Years: 7 Questions to Consider. This will challenge you to reassess your life situation and the priorities which are important. By asking and answering these questions on a regular basis it will help to understand how your loved one’s life song will play out.

This article expands on the Compose Your Life Song℠ campaign, click here to read our first blog post.

Learn more about Home Instead Senior Care’s public education program along with free resources and tips to help guide you through the important conversations and planning for your loved one’s final years by visiting Take action and own your destiny so your final years can be a song everyone will want to listen to. Start composing your meaningful life song today.

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis understands the stress that working family caregivers face and offers a wide range of in-home care services, including respite care, personal care, 24-hour and live-in care and Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The loving and experienced CAREGivers at Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis offer friendly, responsive care for seniors right in your Minneapolis, Minnesota community, as well as support for the family. To inquire about any of our senior services available or becoming a CAREGiver, call us at 763-544-5988 today.

Surviving Awkward Conversations and Determining a Loved One’s Needs During the Holidays

senior giftsThe holidays may be the only time some family members are able to come together. Situations such as long-distance travel or celebrating with in-laws may prevent having the entire family together some years. For many, the holidays mark a time of joy, nostalgia and celebration, but others are feeling maxed out. And some may be in for an unpleasant surprise if they haven’t seen parents or grandparents for a while and realize they are aging faster than expected and need help. Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis understands the added stress that is placed on families when visiting during the holidays and offers ways to manage awkward conversations as well as tips to pin-point your aging loved one’s needs.

Knowing how crushing it can be to a young boy when Grandpa’s dementia has progressed to a point where he no longer remembers the little boy’s name or the dread of having a conversation with a sibling you resent for not doing their part in caring for a parent adds to the stress of the family gatherings. Home Instead Senior Care offers some guidance to having that awkward conversation or helping you respond to these challenging situations and more.

Consider these four common scenarios caregivers or their relatives might encounter during the holiday season:

You want to discuss with siblings your need for help in caring for Mom or Dad
While speaking up to ask for help is a good way to garner help from others, is the family dinner table really the right time to address a touchy subject? Read tips to help you navigate the conversation successfully.

You’ll be seeing a relative for the first time after they have received a serious medical diagnosis
With the dire diagnosis statistics for cancer, heart disease and other serious health conditions increasing with age, the likelihood of seeing a relative who was recently diagnosed goes up each year. Consider these tips for what to say.

You notice during a recent visit that your aging parents need more help than you thought
Typically, when you speak to mom and dad, they assure you everything is fine and they don’t need help, but when you arrive to stay over the holidays you discover that isn’t exactly the case. Concern creeps in when you realize the pile of mail is quite large and their home is beyond cluttered. Read ideas of how to handle this situation.

Preparing your children for Grandma or Grandpa’s different behavior due to Alzheimer’s disease
Young children may become frightened by the often-inappropriate behaviors or symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Keeping the details and conversation age-appropriate will help, as well as staying calm and patient. Learn tips to help prepare your children.

Be prepared to manage any changes you notice in your aging loved one.

Keep your eyes open for some common issues that can threaten a senior’s independence, such as:

• Pain
• Memory
• Depression
• Social Engagement
• Safety
• Housekeeping
• Medication

Learn details about each of the above common issues as well as how to address the issues uncovered, by reading 7 Ways to Investigate Your Loved One’s Needs During a Holiday Visit. If you’re unsure how to discuss concerns with your loved one, refer to Home Instead Senior Care’s conversation starter guide.

At Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis, our passion for serving seniors and their families runs deep. We are invested in the communities we serve and believe every family in the area deserves individualized in-home senior care with a compassionate touch to help seniors live independently at home. It’s our mission.

Caring for seniors is a job that requires a special personality with just the right touch. Could that be you? As a Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis CAREGiver, you have the opportunity to meet wonderful seniors, build fulfilling relationships, and make a difference in the lives of your aging clients. Contact Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis to learn more about the home care job opportunities and becoming a Home Instead Minneapolis CAREGiver.

If you or a loved one could use some assistance with senior care, contact us for a free care consultation to learn how we can help. Call us today at 763-634-8247.

Daughters in the Workplace, part II

DaughtersWorkplace2It seems our lives are busier than ever these days. Women are navigating a career while raising children and in many cases, also caring for aging parents. The term ‘sandwich’ generation is used when an age group is caring for their parents while caring for their own family simultaneously. This sandwich generation is fast emerging and seems to be wearing many hats.

Studies show two-thirds of all caregivers are female, and many feel they have to choose between their career and caring for their family. It’s a balancing act that often leaves employers and employees alike, frustrated. This should not be the case. To help working family caregivers feel empowered to talk to their employer about their needs and to help employers understand what their employees need as caregivers, Home Instead Inc. has launched their latest public education campaign, Daughters in the Workplace℠. This program offers free resources to working family caregivers while also identifying caregiving support that may be available from their employers, as well as support for the smaller percentage of male family caregivers. This article expands on the Daughters in the Workplace℠ campaign, click here to read our first blog post.

Caregiver Friendly Business Practices

In a recent survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., the percentage of working family caregivers who reported being “very satisfied” with their employer’s work-family policies was less than 50% in any category surveyed. In fact, the highest rating of those surveyed was given to the flexible schedule question at 44%. Knowing these numbers are not acceptable as well as the challenges that working family caregivers face, Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis wants you to know you are not alone. Home Instead Senior Care offers these Caregiver Friendly Business Practices to help guide employers in their support:

  • Empower employees to ask for what they need
  • Be flexible (and human) when needed
  • Have a back-up plan
  • Offer support
  • Respect caregiving needs

Identifying What Support You Need as a Working Family Caregiver

DaughtersWorkplace1Identifying your needs as a family caregiver is the first step in helping you manage your own health, your job, and maintaining a quality family life. Studies show having support in the following areas are important to working family caregivers:

  • Access to respite care
  • Time off from work
  • Flexibility

Read more on each of these support areas and more.

Once you’ve identified your needs, make sure your employer understands what you’re looking for and what options the company has to offer. It’s best to have an honest conversation with your employer and Home Instead Senior Care offers some examples to help get the discussion started.

Learn more about Home Instead’s public education campaign along with ideas and tips to help you stay physically, emotionally, and mentally fit by visiting, including a list of resources for the Daughters in the Workplace℠ program. Also, take a quiz to see what you know about the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other benefits you may have access to when you are working and caring for an aging loved one.

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis understands the stress the working family caregivers face and offers a wide range of in-home care services, including respite care, personal care, 24-hour and live-in care and Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The loving and experienced CAREGivers at Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis offer friendly, responsive care for seniors right in your Minneapolis, Minnesota community, as well as support for the family. To inquire about any of our senior services or becoming a CAREGiver, call us at 763-544-5988 today.

Daughters in the Workplace

Between advances in medicine and living healthier lifestyles, many seniors are living longer and more productive lives, which is causing the ‘sandwich’ generation to emerge. The sandwich generation refers to the age group who are caring for their parents while caring for their own children simultaneously. Studies over the past few decades have shown increased support for women who are juggling their careers as they raise young children, but much less attention and dialogue focusing on the unique challenges that come with navigating a career while caring for aging adults.

DaughtersWorkplace2To help working family caregivers feel empowered to talk to their employer about their needs and to help employers understand what their employees need as caregivers, Home Instead Inc. has launched their latest public education campaign, Daughters in the Workplace℠. This program offers free resources to working family caregivers while also identifying caregiving support that may be available.

In a recent survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., a majority of the North American working family caregivers responded stating that caregiving has put a strain on multiple aspects of their lives including, but not limited to:

  • Finances (60%)
  • Physical health (74%)
  • Mental health (81%)
  • Career (81%)
  • Ability to manage a healthy work/life balance (83%)

You value your job and don’t want to jeopardize your position, but may need flexibility and understanding at times. It’s important to work with your employer and be honest with your boss when caregiving becomes difficult and you’re struggling to keep up with your workload. Home Instead’s Daughters in the Workplace℠ campaign offers support and resources for all parties involved during these unique challenges.

Conversation Starters: How to Talk to Your Employer About Your Caregiver Support Needs

What’s the best way to discuss family caregiving without the fear of jeopardizing your job? Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis believes that suggesting ideas that work for both your employer and you are best. Also, continue to work with your employer to make sure any changes to your work schedule or job are, in fact, working for all involved. To help you get the conversation started, Home Instead Senior Care offers some examples:

  • “Do you know I am taking care of my dad? I would love to tell you a little about him and what I am doing to care for him. I am looking for ways to ensure I am always doing the best I can at work and at home.”
  • “I hope you know how much I value my job. That’s why I would like to make sure that my work is covered in the event of a family emergency. I would love to learn about any services our company has that could help me. And then, it would be great to work with you to put together a plan.”

Read more examples. 


Consider 5 Ways Eldercare Could Impact Your Business

As the employer, you may believe you can’t afford to offer a family-friendly business setting, but in reality, the latest research shows that perhaps you can’t afford not to address these situations. Learn ways eldercare might be impacting your bottom line:

  1. Increased Absenteeism
  2. Decreased Productivity
  3. Loss of Talent
  4. Interruption of Sevices or Work flow
  5. Declining Morale

Five Signs That Caregiving Could be Putting Your Employee at Risk:

Being aware of signs that may be putting your employee at risk is important. Family caregiving is stressful business, especially when a person is also managing a full-time job and caring for their own family. This will eventually take its toll on your employee, which in turn may affect work productivity and even risk losing an otherwise excellent worker. Watching for these signs and using available resources will help reduce this risk.

  • Stress and depression: In a survey of working family caregivers, 42 percent report caregiving making them depressed.
  • Vulnerability to illness: In a Gallup study released in 2011 of working family caregivers, findings showed caregivers are 50 percent more likely to experience daily physical pain than non-caregivers. Working caregivers also reported a 25 percent higher incident of high blood pressure.
  • Fatigue: Although you cannot control your employees’ sleeping habits, recognize that fatigue is a common challenge facing many family caregivers.
  • Inability to focus: Fatigue and stress together make it difficult to focus.
  • Guilt: The guilt of constantly feeling spread too thin and not being able to give 100% to anyone leaves working family caregivers frustrated.

Learn more about each of these signs along with ideas and tips to help your employees stay physically, emotionally and mentally healthy by visiting Also, take a quiz to see what you know about the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other benefits you may have access to when you are working and caring for an aging loved one.

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis understands the stress the working family caregivers face and offers a wide range of in-home care services, including respite care, personal care, 24-hour and live-in care and Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Our experienced CAREGivers at Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis offer friendly, responsive care for seniors right in your Minneapolis, Minnesota community, as well as support for the family. To inquire about any of our senior services or becoming a CAREGiver, call us at 763-544-5988 today.

GIVE65: 2017 Crowd-Fundraiser

GIVE65LogoJoin the crowd! The Home Instead Senior Care Foundation has created the GIVE65 crowd-fundraiser exclusively devoted to help non-profit organizations raise money geared toward caring for seniors. GIVE65 is the first of its kind for Home Instead Senior Care with a goal to raise money online for programs and services related directly to helping seniors and creating hope for them. Home Instead is expecting it will be a catalyst for social change and we will continue to see fundraisers like this for seniors in the future.

The GIVE65 event is a 65-hour online charitable fundraising event aimed at inspiring greater giving to non-profit organizations serving seniors. In its second year, GIVE65 2017 will take place from July 11 – 13, 2017. During this time, a limited number of approved, participating organizations compete for up to $100,000 in matching grants and are also eligible for one of two $10,000 financial rewards which recognize outstanding small, medium and large-size non-profit participants. Wondering how you can join the crowd and help make a difference for seniors? Beginning July 1st, you can schedule your 100% tax deductible donation to be given to an approved non-profit of your choice during the fundraising event July 11 – 13, 2017. By scheduling the donation in advance, you ensure the organization of your choice will receive your donation during the event time period and it also may be eligible for matching grants and additional financial reward prizes.

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is proud to exclusively support Senior Community Services and specifically their Household and Outside Maintenance for Elderly (HOME) program, which applied and was carefully selected to be a recipient of a $5,000 matching grant during the GIVE65 crowd-fundraiser. The goal of the HOME program is to provide reasonably priced services to help seniors continue to live independently in their own homes. Their network of reliable workers and volunteers provide indoor and outdoor chore services to residents age 60 and older in a wide service area of communities in Hennepin County, Minnesota.

A majority of the HOME program clients are low-income. Assisting residents with home and yard chores such as home repairs, safety checks, raking, snow shoveling, and yard projects, will allow the seniors to stay in their own home and community longer. The money raised through the GIVE65 crowd-fundraiser will help the Senior Community Services HOME program keep their services affordable, with a focus on staying safe in the winter months. Donated funds will be specifically used towards winter fall prevention and the incurred expenses during the Minnesota snow season.

Each year, one-third of Americans aged 65 or older fall. In fact, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. In 2000, the direct medical cost of fatal and non-fatal injuries totaled over $19 billion and $28.2 billion in 2010. This financial toll for older adult falls is only expected to increase as the population ages and is expected to reach as high as $54.9 billion by the year 2020. The HOME program will use the GIVE65 donated funds to help keep the driveways and sidewalks of over 300 seniors clear during the upcoming winter season. Ensuring fall prevention by removing the snow and ice will not only maintain safe access to and from the home, but will provide a great relief to the seniors in our Minnesota communities by providing the gift of security and independence this winter.

Jon Burkhow, HOME Program Director, says “Our snow removal program is a vital part of keeping older adults safe in their home and community. Please help us continue to prevent falls with your donation!” If you are interested in getting involved and being a GIVE65 donor or would like to learn more about Senior Community Services HOME program, you can find more details here:

The Minneapolis area senior population needs our help and your donation to the Senior Community Services HOME program through the GIVE65 crowd-fundraiser will help. Lori Hogan, Home Instead Senior Care Foundation Vice President says “The need is great. I think GIVE65 is a rallying cry for all of us – the public and private sectors – to come together and create hope for our seniors in need.” Home Instead Senior Care understands the challenges faced when raising money for social service programs that focus on seniors in need and believe they can lead the charge in charitable giving and inspire others to work together towards a common goal.

Programs like GIVE65 are important to our local communities as the senior population grows, non-profits need financial support to maintain the programs and services they provide that give hope for seniors. Every gift will make a difference, from the minimum donation of $10 to the larger donations. Those who want to help our local seniors, including businesses, corporations and other foundations, can visit to invest in the growing Minnesota senior population. And don’t forget to save the date! Beginning July 1, 2017, you can schedule your GIVE65 event donation to ensure your donation will be given to the non-profit of your choice during the fundraising time period and be eligible for matching. Together we can make a difference in the lives of the seniors in our local communities!

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.