Category Archives: Farmington Hills

The Danger of Denial

If you care for an aging parent or loved one you need to be careful that you yourself don’t fall into denial. Denial is actually a strong defense mechanism that you may be using unconsciously to help deal with what you know is coming down the road. Perhaps you come to your loved one’s home daily just to make sure everything is okay. Maybe Mom doesn’t like driving so you take her on all her errands. You’re sure to be there the night before the garbage has to be set out so Dad doesn’t have to do it. And you go back the next day to take the cans in. It snowed last night so you get there in the morning so the snow gets shoveled and Dad doesn’t have to risk falling when he goes out to get the paper. Your loved one has a doctor appointment so you go along as a second set of ears and to pick up the prescription. It’s a lot of extra work in your life and takes up much of your time but so far you’re holding up okay. Does any of this sound familiar? Because you are with your loved one so often, you’ve surely seen changes in how your senior moves, how they function, and what their limitations are as they age. If you are taking on more and more of their activities of daily life, you’re probably in denial that they need help. You may not want to believe that and may dread having a conversation about it with them. If you hold off for a bit longer, perhaps they themselves will realize its time to get help. It can be a difficult and uncomfortable topic so you keep waiting. It’s perfectly normal to deny something unpleasant or frightening but it can prevent us from facing the facts and can in reality be dangerous for our loved ones because denial will keep us from preparing for what’s ahead whether its an accident or the worsening of some chronic condition. Not addressing the issue won’t keep it from happening. Take a realistic look at your loved one’s situation and be careful not to fool yourself into complacency. Making plans and decisions about the future care of your loved one is much easier to do when you’re not in the midst of some medical crisis. How did you come to the realization that your loved one needs some extra care? Share below and visit us at


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The Flower Shop

I was at the florist last weekend to order flowers for a special occasion. While there I noticed an elderly lady looking over the pots of daffodils and tulips. We struck up a conversation and she confided in me that she needed some flowers to boost her spirits. It has been such a long and cold winter that she just needed a reminder that spring really is coming. As we talked, she told me she could count on one hand how many endless winters like this one she had seen in her ninety two years. After she made her purchase, she asked if I would help her to her car. She had one of those four-pronged canes in one hand and a pot of daffodils in the other. I took the flowers from her and offered her my arm for support as we walked through the door, chatting the whole time and marveling at the warmth of the sunshine. She pointed out her vehicle, a massive old model Grand Marquis. As we approached the car she suddenly exclaimed “Oh no honey, I drove!” I had automatically escorted her to the passenger side, assuming someone had driven her to the florist and was waiting for her in the car. After making our way to the driver’s side she fumbled in her purse for her keys and I helped her get in, loading her daffodils and the cane on the passenger seat. We said our good-byes and I stood in dumbstruck silence noticing a variety of scratches and dents as she drove away. I kept thinking “there’s an accident, just waiting to happen”.

Hopefully, that lovely lady made it home in one piece and without incident. It seems to me that somewhere along the line a family member or friend should talk with her about assessing her driving. As you reach your senior years, at some point you may need to limit your driving or stop altogether. There are so many issues that can limit the ability to drive. Reaction time slows with age and mobility problems can make it difficult to look over your shoulder to change lanes or move your leg back and forth from the gas pedal to the brake. In addition, vision declines leaving many seniors to deal with glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration. Hearing problems would make it harder to hear the warning sounds of honking horns or ambulance sirens. Combinations of medications can affect the senses and reflexes. Everyone ages differently and some can drive later in life than others but if you have a senior in your life, it may be time to assess their driving. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to start that conversation before they got to the flower shop! Visit us at"

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On The Way Home From Work

Last evening, on the way home from work, I narrowly escaped a fender bender—not once, but twice. I had come to a stop at a red light while in the inside lane of a four lane road. A moment later, I noticed a bright red sedan with it’s left turn signal on pull past me into the intersection in the lane to my right. My first thought was that the driver had simply forgotten to turn off their turn signal. Fortunately, I hesitated when the light turned green, and then the red sedan cut right across the front of my car and made a left turn in front of me. That momentary hesitation kept my car intact. As she sped off, I noticed the driver of the other car was a very elderly lady whose head was barely visible above her steering wheel. I then cautiously made my turn only to find myself once again traveling next to the same lady. A mile down the road she suddenly sped up and pulled right in front of me and then came to a complete stop with her left turn signal on, once again. She apparently thought she was in the left turn lane which was actually further to the left. I braced myself, expecting to be rear-ended by whoever was behind me. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and I took off, very relieved she had made her turn.

My first instinct was to find a place to turn around and follow her into the parking lot and give her a piece of my mind. That would have served no purpose –I’m sure this isn’t the first time she had pulled a move like that and I’m pretty sure she’s been yelled at before. And then I thought about Mom. She’s in her late 80’s, has had her right hip replaced, walks with a cane, and drives herself pretty much to most places. She only goes to her local grocery store or the mall. Occasionally, she has a doctor appointment or goes to the dentist. And on Sunday she drives to church just a couple blocks away. Once a month there’s a Red Hats Club meeting that she car pools to with a few friends. Since her cataract surgery, she doesn’t drive at night. There a numerous scrapes on her car’s bumpers — it’s amazing how careless other people can be in a parking lot.

Last evening, on the way home from work, I learned a lesson. It’s time to have a meeting with my siblings and find a way to talk to Mom about her driving. Maybe we can convince her to use the local Senior Citizens community bus. If we take turns, we can drive her to appointments without burdening any one family member. Maybe she’d agree to hire someone to take her to appointments. If we present a united front and give her some workable options, maybe she’ll agree to stop driving. Last evening, on the way home from work, I opted to see for the first time, what was right in front of me all along. If you believe someone you love or care for may have issues that affect their ability to safely drive, contact your local Secretary of State to request a driver assessment reevaluation. Have you had to deal with a loved one’s driving issue? Share below and visit us at

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The Long-Distance Caregiver


Being a primary caregiver for someone you love is a difficult and complicated job in the best of circumstances.  You probably have to juggle personal needs, a job, and family obligations with the needs of your loved one.  It gets so much more complicated and stressful if your loved one lives any distance from you.  Lets face it, in today’s world and with today’s economy our families are more than likely geographically spread out.

     The thing to remember first and foremost is that it does take a village.  Be realistic and don’t presume you can do everything by yourself.  If you have siblings or other close family members who can help, don’t fail to use their aid and personal input. Be honest and direct with them and have them share some of the responsibilities based on their geography, interests, and abilities. Arrange to communicate with them on a regular basis so everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done and who’s doing it.  If you have a professional caregiver coming into the home be sure you meet them face to face. Connecting a face to the caregiver’s name helps build a relationship with them.

     Communication is very important.  If you can’t be contacted, you won’t know what’s going on.  This means staying in touch not only with those doing the hands on care but also includes your loved one’s close friends and neighbors.  Check in with them now and then to get their view of how your loved one is getting along. A simple phone call or an e-mail will keep you in the loop.

     Familiarize yourself with what local resources are available. Do any of the local churches or neighborhood groups provide meal delivery? Is local transportation available?  Are there any volunteer groups that provide companionship?  Are there any home care services in the area who can be utilized to provide personal care and medication reminders?  Would getting a personal alarm system ease your fears about your loved one falling or having an accident?

     Be sure to gather important information, keep it handy and make sure it’s readily available to those who are dealing directly with your loved one. This includes having a list of physicians, pharmacies, medications, and important financial and legal documents.

This will help deal with emergencies when they arise. If your loved one is having difficulty handling finances, their mail, or medications, be sure to coordinate these tasks with another responsible adult and stay connected with them.

    Use common sense in dealing with the responsibilities of caregiving and above all don’t give in to feelings of guilt when dealing with the challenges from a distance. Concentrate on staying connected to your loved one and continue to nourish your relationship with them.  After all, isn’t that what life is really about?  What has helped you care for a loved one from a distance? Share below and visit us at


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Eat For Brain Health

As we age, we gradually become accustomed to the idea of having “senior moments”, those times when we’ve misplaced our car keys or forgotten an important date or appointment. . Then there are those who may develop Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research has shown that what we eat directly affects our brain health by strengthening our brain cells and helping to protect our bodies from diabetes which increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Try to eat more of these foods:
Blueberries protect the brain from stress and may help improve learning capacity.
Nuts and Seeds are good sources of Vitamin E which reduces cognitive decline.
Fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as wild salmon, sardines, and herrings are anti-inflammatory and are beneficial to the synapses of the brain. The synapses are where many of our brain functions occur. Omega 3s also help to stabilize moods and help fight off depression. They enhance learning and memory.
Avocados have monounsaturated fat which encourages a healthy blood flow and help lower blood pressure.
Whole grains reduce the risk for heart disease by improving blood flow which is also good for the brain.
Spices and herbs such as garlic, ginger, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric and pepper) are strong anti-oxidants and protect our brains from wear and tear.

In addition to eating the above foods, it’s important to avoid processed carbohydrates which means just about anything that’s white: white bread, white rice, sugar, and processed cereal. They cause inflammation and slow down brain communication. Trans fats should also be avoided. They are found in deep fried foods and solid spreads like margarine. These fats block the brain’s use of healthy Omega 3s.

Have you made any dietary changes to help your brain? Share below and visit us at

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How Safe Is The Bathroom?

If our goal is to keep our parents or senior loved ones safely in their own home, one of the best places to start is the bathroom. For seniors, the bathroom is one of the most dangerous places in the home. A small space with water, slick floors, hard surfaces and wall mounted towel bars doesn’t mix well with someone who may be frail, has poor vision, or may have walking or balancing issues. A fall resulting from this combination can lead to serious injury and even hospitalization. There are things you can do to prevent accidents in the bathroom.

*Install grab bars in showers and bathtubs. You don’t want your loved one grabbing a towel rack for balance or support because racks can’t hold their weight. Another option is to purchase a rail that fits over the bathtub edge without damaging the tub.

*A shower/tub chair in the tub is a good option if your senior has balance problems or general weakness. They come in a variety of heights and be sure to get one with slip-resistant rubber feet.

*If you use a tub chair, invest in a hand held shower spray. They’re easy to handle and with their flexible hoses they’re more convenient to use in a seated position.

* Make sure the bottom of the tub has nonskid tape or a nonskid bathmat.

*A raised toilet is helpful to anyone who has problems getting up or down from a seated position or problems with bending. An alternative would be to add a raised toilet seat to an existing toilet. Toilet safety frames with armrests can be added to help with transferring to and from the toilet or grab bars can be installed near the toilet.

*Be sure the temperature on the water heater is set at 120 degrees F or less. Anything higher than that can scald skin.

*Make sure there’s a nightlight in the bathroom and in the hallway going to the bathroom.

*Install bathroom door locks that can be unlocked from both sides. You need to be able to get to your loved one if there’s an accident in the bathroom.

Over one third of falls and accidents in the home occur in the bathroom. Following these tips will go a long way in preventing the most common bathroom injuries. Please share any other tips you have and visit us at

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How Do I Choose A Home Care Agency

Now that you’ve made the decision to use a home care agency to help care for you loved one, the daunting task of selecting one begins. A good place to start is to ask for referrals from friends and neighbors. In addition, your local Better Business Bureau and the local Chamber of Commerce may have a list of agencies and any possible complaints against them. Other great sources include senior centers, churches and social workers.

Before you start calling the agencies to narrow your choices, make a list of exactly what kinds of services you need and how often you need them. A reputable agency will want to do an assessment of your needs and design a plan of care with you for your loved one. Knowing what you’re looking for will help a lot in that process. There are questions you can ask to help narrow down your choice.

*How long has the agency been in business in your area?
*Is there a written description of what services are available with the rates for these services?
*Is there a minimum number of hours required?
*How is billing handled?
*Who takes care of the workers’ Social Security, Medicare, and tax deductions?
*How are caregivers hired and screened? Do they have to go through a background check and a drug test? Are they bonded and insured?
*Does the agency train employees? How much experience do they have?
*How are caregivers supervised and by whom?
*Is the same caregiver assigned at each visit? What happens if the caregiver gets ill or goes on vacation? If I’m unhappy with the caregiver sent out by the agency, can I request a different one?
*Are there any restrictions on how often or during what hours services are available?
*How is my loved one’s privacy protected?
*How are complaints or problems handled? How quickly is a staff member available if there’s a question or an issue comes up?
*Will a written plan of care be developed? Who will do it? Will the family be involved in the process? Is there a fee involved?
*If other community services or medical equipment is needed, will the agency help find them?
*Are references from current clients available?

The answers to these questions will help you select the agency which can best fill your needs. Are there other questions you believe should be asked? Share below. Visit us at

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Why Should I Use A Home Care Agency?

Once you’ve made the decision your senior or loved one needs some help to keep them safely in their own home, you need to decide if you should make some private arrangements to directly hire a caregiver or if you should go through a home care agency. Your first instinct may be to directly hire a caregiver, thinking this is the less expensive option. In effect this would make you both a case manager and an employer. You would have to do all the things a home care agency will do but without the experience or the time to do it. There are definite advantages to using a home care agency.

*Are you prepared to search for a caregiver? Where should you look? How do you know if the candidate is both qualified and experienced? A home care agency already has a staff of qualified, trained caregivers who also receive ongoing additional training.
*A home care agency will have run an in-depth background check of the caregivers they place in your home. The caregivers have also passed extensive drug tests and are bonded and insured. This is not typically done for direct hire caregivers.
*If you hire someone privately, you will be responsible for collecting and remitting Federal and State taxes to the government. You will have to deal with unemployment, workers’ compensation and the employment eligibility paperwork.
*A home care agency takes care of all the staffing issues. If the caregiver becomes ill or is on vacation there are back-up caregivers on staff so that services won’t be interrupted.
*Through an agency, caregivers are supervised and they are matched to be a good fit with your loved one. This is especially important since you probably won’t be there while the caregiver is with your loved one. Keep in mind that if things don’t work out with the caregiver you’ve hired directly, you’ll have to start the search and hiring process all over.
*You can be more flexible with services through an agency. A direct hire caregiver may not be available if you want to change prescheduled times or days or if you need the type of service changed. With an agency, adjustments can be made when your needs change.

The ultimate goal of using a home care agency is to keep your loved ones in their own home for as long as possible. If you’ve gotten to the point where you can no longer do all the caregiving on your own then it just makes sense to have an experienced agency take some of the burden off your shoulders. For more information, visit us at

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Caregiver, companionship, Farmington Hills, Health care services, Home Care, House Keeping, Medication Reminder, Personal care, Senior Care, Transportation, Uncategorized, West Bloomfield

Is It Time For Home Care?

As our parents age, we gradually take on the responsibility of caring for them and helping them with their activities of daily life. It starts out slowly. Perhaps we make extra portions of dinner and bring it to them so they have a nice hot meal. Maybe we pick mom up and take her grocery shopping so she doesn’t have to drive. When we stop by we put the garbage out or do a couple loads of laundry. After all, our goal is to keep them safe and comfortable in their own home surrounded by their own familiar things. As our parents age, the number and frequency of these thoughtful actions slowly increase. Then one morning we wake up to find we are now the parents, making daily decisions for them and helping them with everything. It’s time for home care. Just the thought of getting professional home care for our loved one can stir up deep feelings of guilt. It’s important to remember that we owe our loved ones the honest, warm relationship that exists between loving parents and children. We need to keep that role as a loving child alive and not trade it in for a role as a caregiver. This is often compounded by the issue of juggling the demands of work and our own children.. The signals that our parents need help are often subtle and we may not come to this realization until we’ve become overwhelmed by caregiving. Remember, you can’t be much help to them if you are burned out yourself. Look for these clues that it may be time to get some help.

*Is their personal hygiene good? Do they bathe regularly? Are teeth being brushed and hair combed?
*Are there any physical changes in your loved ones? Do they look thinner? Do they seem weak or do they fall frequently?
*Are meals being prepared? Is there any stale or expired food in the refrigerator or cupboards?
*Is the house being cleaned and maintained? Is there a lot of clutter or trash around?
*Does the car have any unexplained dents or scratches? Has your loved one gotten lost driving somewhere familiar?
*Are there any safety issues like coffee pots left on or doors left unlocked at night?
*Have you noticed any memory problems? Have appointments been missed or medications not taken?
*Are your loved ones isolating themselves and avoiding social functions or family gatherings?
*Have you noticed any mental changes? Are they often moody or seem distant and vague?

If you see some of these changes in your loved ones, it may be time to talk to the family about getting some help for them. As parents age, its often easier to accustom them to having someone come in to the home for shorter periods of time. As their needs change, the type and amount of help can be adjusted. The goal is to help your seniors stay in their own home for as long as possible. This is where they are the most comfortable. Have you noticed other signals that your parents need help? Share below. Don’t forget to visit us at

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Caregiver, companionship, Farmington Hills, Health care services, Home Care, House Keeping, Medication Reminder, Personal care, Senior Care, Transportation, Uncategorized, West Bloomfield

How Can A Senior Take Medications Safely?

If you care for a senior friend or relative, you’ve certainly had concerns about their medications. Over a third of all prescriptions written are accounted for by seniors over 65. Because of their age, their hearing, vision, and ability to remember things is often diminished. Seniors generally have multiple health problems and these problems are probably being controlled or treated by a variety of drugs. This can lead to a disaster just waiting to happen. How can you be sure they take their medications? How can they ensure their own safety? Are they taking the right amount? There are things you and your loved one can do to prevent problems and adverse drug reactions. Be proactive – don’t wait for something to go wrong!

*Keep a list of all medications including over the counter drugs and herbal supplements. Record their dosages along with any special instructions and who prescribed them.
*Take the medication list every time the senior goes to the doctor so it can be reviewed for any possible drug interactions or dosage adjustments.
*Get all prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. This will allow the pharmacist to also check for any possible interactions.
*Keep the old pill container until you get a refill. Compare the information on the bottles to see if there are any changes you aren’t aware of. Contact your pharmacy and/or the doctor’s office if something is unfamiliar.
*Be sure to read the literature that comes with the medication. Be aware of and look out for any possible negative reactions. Seniors are especially sensitive to new medications.
*Take medicine exactly as prescribed and don’t stop taking it without the doctor’s orders.
*Be sure any old medications are disposed of. They can degrade quickly and cause more harm than good.
*Store medicines in a cool, dark place (not the bathroom) and try to keep them all together.
*NEVER use medication prescribed for someone else.
*A pill box or compartmentalized medication reminder box is a great way to keep multiple doses of several medications organized in one spot. They are labeled for the different days of the week and for the different times of the day. You can check with one look whether a dose has been missed.

Following these tips can help manage a senior’s medication and prevent an adverse drug reaction. It can help prevent constipation, depression, falls, fractures or the confusion that can result from the mismanagement of medications. Do you have any other helpful tips? Share below and don’t forget to visit us at

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Caregiver, companionship, Farmington Hills, Health care services, Home Care, House Keeping, Medication Reminder, Personal care, Senior Care, Transportation, Uncategorized