Tag Archives: aging

Two Years Ago Today, Mom Went to Heaven!

Initial Remarks

Today marks two years since my dear mom passed away—August 27, 2020. I wrote the following letter four months after my mom died, recollecting the time my husband John and I spent living with her for four years in her home. I mailed this note to a few very close friends at the time, but today, I feel like posting this in her honor and sharing that I am still sad about a lot of things, but I know moving on would be what she would want for me.

Dear Friends

First, I want to thank all of you who have prayed for John and me over the past few years. We were in a unique season of life—a life we never expected to be in. It was challenging and rewarding at the same time.

Most of you know that in January 2016, I moved into my parent’s home when my dad was ill with leukemia and dementia. John was working overseas at the time. Dad died in February 2016.

Being concerned about mom, I stayed with her after Dad’s passing. The idea of her alone in the house made me want to stay with her. Unfortunately, 2016 brought a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer to mom on top of all her other ailments, so I continued to stay at mom’s house. John came home from his overseas assignment shortly after mom’s diagnosis and moved into mom’s house with me.

We locked up our house, and our life became different—more different than we ever expected. John retired after completing his overseas assignment but found a little part-time work, and life moved on. We settled into our life with mom in west Houston, trying to adjust to not being in our own home. I did fine for the first two years. But, the last two years were physically and emotionally tough on me. As mom progressively needed more care and attention, I became more nervous and anxious. I was not my usual self. I had a hard time coping, although I was able to conceal it from others for the most part.

John saw and experienced my constant exhaustion, my need for respite, and my emotional stress worsening daily. He was my rock. I cannot imagine any other person being so kind and generous as giving up his home and life to partner with me in caretaking my mother – his mother-in-law. John occupied my mom with mind-boggling conversations and debates. He made dinner most days, and towards the end, his help and love truly inspired me as he provided nursing duties way beyond his pay grade. Christ-like love was indeed in action!

God knew my fragile mental state. And I hate to say it, but COVID was the lifeline I needed to be able to move back home. It had become apparent that I was not doing well with our 24/7 living arrangement at mom’s house. When COVID hit: Mom’s housekeeper was able to move in with her even though we were back towards the end of mom’s life. John, me, and mom all sleeping in the same bedroom, available for whatever.

Even being home was highly stressful, with daily visits to mom’s house, more doctor’s appointments than ever, and issues relating to mom’s declining health.

If you have not guessed by now, two thousand twenty has been the roughest ride of my life!

I am omitting many “specifics” so I do not get bogged down and miss the point I am trying to share with you.

The fact is, a good friend said, “God has positioned people who can take our hands and help us find our way through the fog and storms.” You are those people!!! Your prayers helped me to pray and not lose my heart. Your prayers helped me to pursue seeking the Highest God, your prayers helped me to stay strong in the Word of God, and your prayers reminded me that challenges are for our spiritual growth. This journey was not anything I had ever imagined, but God knew I had to go through it. This season was sent to accomplish things in me that could not have been accomplished any other way.

Some of you have been where I was. Some of you have not. However, I want you to know that when we experience tears and disappointment, it does not have to dimmish our relationship with the Lord. He allows each new experience to make us aware that we need to trust Him so solidly that we can tell Him the down and dirty of all we think and encounter. When I had questions, God was there. When I cried, He was there. When I could not handle it anymore, God was still there. Even though there were times I could not feel His presence, you kept me hanging on to Him. That was possible due to your prayers. Thank you!

Mom died on August 27, 2020. John and I received a call at 1:50 a.m. from my older brother to come home. I had my cuddle time with mom; then, at 3:50 p.m. that afternoon, she took her final breath.

It has only been a few months since we left that season of our lives. Still, thankfully God is showing me why the experiences I encountered were essential. I do not understand many things that came about during that season. But God always pointed me back to Him—calling me to trust Him when I couldn’t see the whys of the past or the wonders of the future. During my caregiving time, I encountered burnout, compassion fatigue, taxing emotions, and the perps of spending time with my dear mom. I knew the challenges were in His hands. Thanks for your prayers!

Life is an adventure. I wailed many times during this period, “Lord, I can’t handle it anymore!” But He knew and knows when it is time to step in for relief. God moved when I reached the pinnacle of my despair in August. These years are now part of my life story. I recognize that “being out of our comfort zone” is usually the only way we can grow, and I thank God for it. I experienced many sweet times with mom that would not have been possible any other way, but it was still strenuous and tough on me. So, thanks again for your prayers!

Each day, I feel a little more rested and restored. I know that the Lord will use this experience for His glory. There are so many Biblical principles that I had read in Scripture but not experienced before. I encountered so many aspects during these 4+ years: love, forgiveness, gratitude, and boundaries—to mention the positive ones. Sometimes it is hard to see circumstances clearly when living under stress or in a bleak period. Still, when the light is slowly restored, we can feel God’s peace and presence in extraordinary ways—even supernaturally. We start understanding the why, the why not, the how much longer questions of life. In these times, we must depend on the prayers of our friends like you. And for that, thanks again for your prayers!

My takeaway is to encourage you to look at your circumstances through the eyes of our heavenly Father. Commit to renewing your mind daily with prayer and Bible study. Remember that darkness does not stay forever in whatever situation you face. Even through hard times, He is close by—guiding us, building our faith, and waiting to meet our needs. He has a purpose for everything we experience in life, to prepare us for His assignments here on earth or for our heavenly home.

Today—Two Years Later

Yes, John and I have moved on; that is a long story. Still, one thing we both know is that God directed and allowed us to spend time with mom. However, I encountered difficult times caregiving at points along the way. If you are caregiving, hang on! Memories are being formed that will be cherished more with time. The emotional journey has a purpose that God will use in your life ministries.

While living with my mom, I wrote a book titled Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending. I wrote it during the first two years of living with mom. If I had waited until later, the book would probably never have been written. I left out the hard part, the biography of my experiences as time passed, because I hadn’t experienced that. However, it is a good book for those starting on the journey of caregiving with lots of Scripture references. I am not posting this as a sales pitch for my book, but I wanted you to know good things come from caregiving. Our strength in Him and knowing that He always has His best for us in mind keeps us going.

Mom, I love you, and I always will. Thanks for loving me. I still miss you two years later.

God Bless.

Verses from Christian Caregiving:  Practical Advice for a Happy Ending [9780692115381-Available on Amazon.com. Only $7.44 today.

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).

Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3)

Books by Patti Greene

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

Christian Caregiving: Behind the Scenes

My newly released book, Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending, was published in May 2018. To me, this is exciting news! I am amazed at how God worked in putting this book together, so I want to share some background information about how this new release came about. So, humor me for a few moments!

Here Goes My Story

Once upon a time, not so long ago, my church* asked me to teach a class on caregiving. When I was first asked to teach this class my first thought was, “Why in the world would anybody ask someone to teach a caregiving class while they are in the midst of it?” However, after pondering and praying, I felt the Lord say, “Go Ahead!” I had no curriculum to follow. The class was put together by my own research, prayer, my living circumstance, the Holy Spirit and by my husband who was willing to stay with my mom (with whom we live), so I could go to the church to teach the class.

I taught the class not just once but twice.

Just as I don’t know how to express my gratefulness for this teaching opportunity, I don’t know how to express my gratitude for how this book came into being.

I had no intention of putting the highlights of the class into a book until way after I finished teaching the second class, but then again God impressed me with His words, “Go Ahead.” Each of the chapters overviews one of the six class lessons taught at my church.

At the same time as God’s “Go Ahead” words impressed me, I was asked to teach a couple of classes at Houston’s First Baptist Church at the Inspirational Writers Alive Conference in August 2018. One of the classes I am teaching is titled Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing. This opportunity was another big catalyst for this book because if I were to teach on self-publishing I wanted to experiment with how publishing with Amazon was done so I could share it with the class. Thus, this book was created through Amazon. I published my other books differently.

As with all new ventures, there is a learning curve. I  learned how to purchase an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) on this publishing journey. In addition, I found out that companies can format books specifically for Amazon Print, Kindle, Smashwords and more.

I had an awesome editor. He’s the best. He tells me when what I write doesn’t make sense; he corrects my incomprehensible grammar, illogical expressions and unreasonable comparisons. Wow. I couldn’t do this without him. He lives in Michigan. (He’s probably reading this newsletter now, cringing and in tears!)

I was so excited to be able to use the photograph of a friend of mine on the front cover! The cover shows her with her mom in a facility while caregiving. [This is a good place to say that this wonderful person also designed the covers my other three books.]

But, with this cover, I just went with a pre-formatted cover using a photograph she sent me. I am so grateful to her. She lives in New York. And who else can put together someone from New York with someone from Texas! Can I mention that I have never met this lovely woman? That’s a God thing.

It is always scary to push the “SUBMIT” button on a book one has written, but I did. A week after this book was published, it was brought to my attention that I didn’t handle something correctly.  I was made aware of it and just in the nick of time, I was able to correct a serious problem. This issue cropped up because I totally ignored a major plagiarism rule that I knew and have taught to others for many years. It made for some tense days, but God worked it out perfectly by me being able to delete my book off Amazon and resubmit it with the needed adjustments.

On my first submission, I ordered 30 books which I assumed would come with the first submission’s printing, but miraculously when they arrived, they had the issues corrected. God even prepared me through my former career as a librarian. I didn’t realize I had to type up the publication page — the page after the title page — since I didn’t do it for my other books, but with Amazon, I had to. My librarian experience taught me how to prepare that page with ease. Now, that’s specific! And, God knew long ago that I was going to need to know how to figure out Library of Congress subject headings!

I say all that to say that what is available on Amazon is the “best copy” I could do!

And one more thing: discovering the identity of the front cover picture’s photographer came late, but it came just in time and I was able to get the release I felt comfortable with in using the lovely picture on the front cover.

My Final Remarks

God is good and when we obey Him, He makes things all work out. And, even when I faced those stressful days between copy 1 and copy 2, I felt very peaceful that He was working it out. I didn’t know how He would do it, but He did. I feel like it was like turning the water into wine. Just miraculous!

If you are in the caregiving phase of your life or you know someone who is, I recommend this book to you. My prayer is that it will be very beneficial to you, your loved ones, and your friends.

Here Are Some Fun Facts To Know About This Caregiving Book!

The hardest part of putting this book together was the Endnotes and Bibliography.

My husband wrote the paragraph describing the book on the back cover. I didn’t put his name on “his” paragraph. Sounded too nepotistic for me. Ha.

My picture on the back cover is five years old. I am now in the process of trying to become a blonde. Yes, you heard me correctly! But, it’s not turning out too well.

The book is now available on Amazon.com for purchase both in print and e-book format. If you have Amazon Unlimited, the book is a free download. The book retails for $8.95 and the e-book version is $4.99. I think if you purchase a print book, you can get the e-book for 99 cents.

Thanks so much for reading my story. My readers are my lifeline and guide to my writing.

With so many adult children facing caregiving questions, this book may be the answer to most of their questions. I am asking you to share, forward and repost this article to your friends and family members.

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

CHRISTIAN CAREGIVING: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending by Patti Greene

ISBN-13:                                978-0692115381—Christian Caregiving—Print/Softcover

ISBN-Kindle:                      0692115383—Christian Caregiving—Kindle

Quotes:

Patti Greene’s book, Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending, is an excellent resource. It addresses the key points in what you need to prepare for. Written from a Christian perspective, it gives prayers and Bible verses to provide comfort during this difficult time. If you have read any of the author’s other books, you know she has a heart for God through her many years of prayer and journaling that led to her books. This would be a great resource for churches, caregiving groups, and anyone that has aging parents.

—JT, St. Louis

Christian Caregiving is a clear and concise resource for those of us who want and desire to care for our elderly family with the love of Christ. I have found the basic suggestions and information to be invaluable. Many of us who find ourselves in this season of life sometimes are simply overwhelmed with the magnitude of life decisions that have to be made. Knowing that this book has simplified topics and clear directives on what caregivers should do, consider and execute, has made the process much less daunting. Reading this book and taking note of the suggestions that Ms. Greene has so carefully put together has helped ease my concerns during my family’s caregiving season.

—AR, Houston

Bible Verses:

Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever. (John 14:16)

Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. (Ephesians 6:2-3)

Prayer from Chapter 1 in Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Dear Lord,

Help me to be the best caregiver possible. Give me wisdom and a desire to honor You in how I serve. There are so many issues. You know my time and my schedule. Let me experience joy as I honor my loved ones. Let me seek knowledge. Let me be wise in my dealings with others. Let me be generous with my hugs and kisses. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Edited by E. Johnson

*Bear Creek Church, Katy, TX

Caregiving Part 5: Spirituality

Caregiving. My husband and I moved in with my mother when my father passed away a year and a half ago. Mom is a fragile 91-year-old. Her health is not good, but her mind is phenomenal. Today I drove Mom and her friend to their church for a special service. We stayed afterward for the end-of-the-year Women’s Club luncheon. The women chatted, laughed, and enjoyed fellowship with their friends. You might ask why I chauffer my mother around like this; I do it because I love my mother and I want her to continue to enjoy the church she has attended for the past 50 years. It is there she fellowships with her friends and shares a spiritual connection with others and the Lord.

As a caregiver, our concerns usually center around our parents’ emotional, physical and social life. One aspect often lacking in caregiving is an interest in the elderly’s spiritual life. Whether you are a part-time caregiver or a full-time caregiver, giving yourself to the spiritual needs concerning your parents is truly a privilege.

For those who take their spirituality seriously, a sense of purpose and fulfillment undergirds their lives. Despite this fact, some do not understand or take seriously this component of another’s life. Understanding spirituality is complicated because there are so many scenarios and so many definitions of spirituality at play. They involve answering questions such as:

  • Are you a part-time caregiver or a full-time caregiver?
  • Are your parents living in the same town or city as you are?
  • Are you a strong believer, a ‘sort of’ religious person, or an uninterested individual?
  • Have your parents lived a dedicated life for Christ and the church? Have they attended church sporadically? Or, have they rarely explored any ‘religious’ life?

Once you mix and match all these different dynamics together, it’s time to discern and pray about your part in your parents’ spiritual life. Regardless of your parents’ spiritual background, caring for them is one of the most compassionate undertakings you or your siblings can pursue. Included in regular caregiving responsibilities, being a part of allowing your parents to pursue or continue their interests in God, church, and spiritual growth is an important part of caregiving.

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

Your Parents

Many seniors who have attended church all their lives develop a deeper desire for the things of God when they get older; but many do not. Some glide into old age making their spirituality more of an inward feat and not a community feat. In Spirituality and Aging, Sociology Professor Emeritus at Marquette University David O. Moberg says, “Many scientists who study spirituality and aging have concluded that spirituality increases with age. However, it is also important to acknowledge that other prominent researchers disagree with this premise.” ¹ Gerontologists are starting to see how the spiritual life regarding their patients yields an unexplainable peace and calmness as they face the future. As a result, their physical well-being is often affected in a positive way. They see their patients with faith as possessing strength and tranquility regarding their future.

Driving Forces Why Seniors Depend on God

  • Many seniors are concerned about their death and the afterlife.
  • Their faith provides strength as they face illnesses, loss of friends, and loneliness.
  • They have more time to pray and read their Bible.
  • Concern over a reduced income and the ability to meet their needs.
  • A renewed or deepening dependence and guidance by the Holy Spirit.

At a time when seniors tackle new challenges, many undergo losing their support systems. This should be a huge consideration in churches as “baby boomers” are starting to fit into the senior adult category.

Driving Forces Why Seniors Abandon their Faith and Church

  • Lack of activities for seniors—Feeling of alienation may occur when more emphasis is given to youth ministries, young adult ministries, or any ministries besides senior adult ministries.
  • Miss traditions—They feel left out, unwanted, unneeded in the congregation. Seniors enjoy the familiarity of things past, i.e. hymns, Sunday dinners, fellowship luncheons.
  • Difficulty adjusting to change—The new programs and facilities are too much for them. Adjusting to change is especially hard for the aging population.
  • Hearing loss—They can’t hear the preacher or Sunday school teacher.
  • Stimulating services (music, yelling, confusion)—The British Alzheimer’s Society discusses noise triggers by saying, “[People with Alzheimer’s] feel bewildered or anxious because there is too much noise, too many people around, or a change in a familiar routine.”
  • Other disabilities—There may not be handicapped parking or wheelchair accommodations at the church. They may be unable to get to church due to disability or inability to drive themselves. Or maybe, there is too much walking to get to their classes or sanctuary easily.

Caregiving and You

As a family caregiver member, it is imperative for you to be cognizant of your parents’ needs. This includes their spiritual needs.

Practical Ways You Can Help

  • If you live in the same town or city as your parents, bring them to church and church functions.
  • If you live out-of-town, contact their church organization, friends, or other family members to set up transportation.
  • If your parents are in a facility, investigate what kind of spiritual activities that are available.
  • Make their living environment familiar and comfortable, i.e. put their favorite cross in their room, be sure their Bible is easily accessible.
  • Provide notecards, stamps, and addresses so they can write and minister to their friends.
  • Get their hearing checked by an audiologist.
  • Get their eyesight checked by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.
  • Purchase a large-print Bible for them if needed.
  • And, if you or family members live in the same city or town, be sure to visit them!

Whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

Questions Caregivers Must Ask

  • What hindrances are my parents facing?
  • My parents used to attend church. Why don’t they go now?
  • How do I approach my unbelieving parents about Jesus Christ?

These are just a few of the many questions caregivers might have. You may want to spend some time thinking, meditating, and praying for what questions need to be asked and how you can be a part of the solution.

How to Pray: Ten Tips for a Better Prayer Life

Keep Yourself in Top Spiritual Shape

Being connected to God’s divine source can help you manage better as your caregiving duties progress. Continuing or starting to seek God’s presence and strength in your life will assist you as you care for and minister to your loved ones. Understanding you are not perfect alleviates a mindset of inadequacy. Remind yourself of all your parents have done for you. If they haven’t done much, it is time to ask God how He wants you to treat them and care for them regardless of the past. God is available to help you as you support your parents. By being their caregiver, you can be assured, God has given you a divine assignment—one that you won’t regret.

Salvation and Eternal Life

On our most recent visit to my mother’s oncologist, we were discussing mom’s diagnosis and future prognosis. In his matter-of-fact intonation, he said, “Mrs. —————, life is a terminal illness!” While we don’t want to think about life like this, it is true. We all will die and face an eternal future.

As we live our earthly life, let us be ever mindful about our eternal destination. Gaining an understanding of our future existence is significant in understanding life-and-death anxieties and angsts.

Both caregivers and parents and all humanity will die. CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) discusses four laws in the booklet “Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?” ²

Four Spiritual Laws

Law 1: God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.

John 3:16

Law 2: Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life.

Romans 3:23

Law 3: Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him, you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.

John 14:6

Law 4: We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.

Revelation 3:20

A Heart-to-Heart Prayer

If you or your parents have not accepted Jesus Christ, now is the time to have a frank conversation with God. If you are unsure how to pray for God’s salvation, a simple well-meaning prayer can be the best decision for both of your lives.

Dear God, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that you raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.” ³

If you have accepted Jesus Christ but your parents haven’t, now is the time to have a candid heart-to-heart with them.

Eight days before my father passed away, I had a candid heart-to-heart with him. He prayed a prayer akin to the prayer written above. As we sat on his couch at 5 am we quietly talked together and talked to God. Some may call this a deathbed conversion. No matter what it is called, my father accepted Jesus Christ and God used me to help him make the best decision of his life.

Caretaking means being responsible for various aspects of your parents’ life. As we face our parents’ sundown years, let’s do what we can to help them hold on to, delight in, and agree to take part in their spiritual life while at the same time progressing and preserving our own spiritual life.

Do You Fear Death?

Bible Verses: See above.

Prayer:

Dear heavenly Father, as I consider all the needs of my parents, let me be mindful of their whole being. I pray for their emotional, physical, social, and spiritual life. Make me aware of their needs. Let me offer my help. Give us both peace. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God Bless,

Member Inspirational Writers Alive; Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member

Edited by E. Johnson; Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.

Works Cited/Bibliography

¹ Spirituality and Aging. http://www.nap411.com. Accessed 10 May 2017.

² Greene, Patti. Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer. Bloomington: WestBow, 2016. [Permission given from CRU for Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws summary.]

³ Begin Your Journey to Peace. www.peacewithgod.net. Accessed 10 May 2017.

Coming Soon: Caregiving Part 6: How to Prepare, Embrace, and Survive the Final Moments


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Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Caregiving Part 4: Housing Options for Elderly Parents

Senior citizens are living longer. They have access to medical treatments which can prolong their lives. Many “baby boomers” encounter difficult decisions about caregiving and living arrangements for their parents. While boomers are concerned about their parents’ well-being, they are often clueless about what housing options are available.

Evaluating the Level of Care Your Parents’ Needs

Safety Issues – Are your parents safe in their home? Is their driving safe for themselves and others? Are they able to take care of themselves?

Medical Issues – Are your parents able to administer and track their own medicine? What medical conditions do your parents have? Are they showing signs of memory problems?

Social Issues – Are your parents lonely? Do your parents have friends they like to socialize with?

Location – Are your parents happy where they live now? How will changing their current living situation affect them?

Cost – Are your parents financially able to sustain a decent standard of living? Are they able to afford their current housing arrangement?

Many parents are making cross-country migrations, leaving home to live with their children. The Chicago Tribune tells the story of Elizabeth Larson.

Elizabeth Larson, 93, moved from Champaign [Illinois] to be near her son, who lives in Hinsdale [Illinois].

My son said that if anything happened, if I needed him, he was too far away,” she said. She thought he was right. And she knew the solution, and that it would involve her leaving Champaign. Larson was sorry to leave neighbors she liked. But she didn’t have to leave her two closest friends. They had already moved to out-of-state retirement complexes near their own adult children. “So it was easier for me to move,” she said. And “in a way, it was kind of exciting. I thought it would be nice to be near my son. ¹

While it was a nice amicable move for Elizabeth, it can be a gut-wrenching decision for others searching for senior housing options. Moving is a complex and confusing decision. The earlier you assess your parents’ desires and needs the better it will be. By becoming aware of the different housing options available, you may be the biggest asset helping your parents come to terms with their living arrangement. Communicate with them, give them time to consider the options and be kind and gentle as they face one of the most difficult decisions of their lives.

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Most Common Housing Options for the Elderly

Independent Care—Consists of single family homes or townhomes for self-sufficient seniors. They offer security and social activities in their community living setting. Services such as laundry, meals, transportation and social activities are usually provided. They are not regulated by the government. Independent Care facilities have a country club environment. The average cost to rent or buy a home, including community fees, can be up to $2,000 per month or more. They are also called retirement communities, retirement homes, or senior apartments.

Assisted Living—A community which provides 24-hour assistance. The personnel assists with eating, bathing and bathroom use. However, 24-hour medical service is not provided. Their care usually includes laundry, meals, transportation, social activities, toilet care, housekeeping and medication aid. Assisted living communities are regulated by the state. Other names for assisted living facilities are personal care homes, eldercare facilities, residential care facilities, group homes, and community residences. The cost ranges from approximately $2,300-$5,500 per month.

Nursing Home—A community which provides 24-hour assistance with daily living and medical care by nurses and therapists. Nursing homes include doctors on call, hospice and end-of-life services, medication aid, housekeeping, toilet care, bathing, dressing, transportation, and laundry. Nursing homes adhere to both state and federal regulations. They are also called rest homes, convalescent homes, and skilled nursing facilities. The cost averages between $4,000-$12,000 per month.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)—Campus-like communities which provide care from private residences to assisted living and skilled nursing care. They are designed for individuals with declining conditions. Many times the residents move from one community to another as their conditions change. The services are the same as nursing homes. CCRCs have some state regulations. These facilities are also called Continuing Care-Retirement facilities and life care facilities. Services and costs vary depending on what level facility one is in.

Aging in Place—Many seniors decide to age in place. This is a living arrangement where the elderly and their children have made the choice to live in the children’s home, their parents’ home or the home of their choice for as long as they are capable. When assistance is needed, nurses, private aides, physical therapists and other needed personnel will come to the home. Many seniors need to remodel their houses to make them suitable to meet their needs as they age. Financial planning is a must to handle living and home and providing for any outside help.  ²

Defining Types of Care for the Elderly

Skilled Care—a type of intermediate care where the patient or resident needs more assistance than usual, generally from licensed nursing personnel and certified nursing assistants. This care is not the same as long-term care, in which a resident may not need the services of a licensed nurse on a daily basis.

Custodial Care—care when seniors need caregivers to help take care of them. Unfortunately, many older adults reach a time in their life when they can no longer care for themselves. They cannot get around the house without assistance. They cannot do the things they once did, as their physical and mental skills are not quite as sharp as they used to be. A caregiver may make all the difference between an older adult struggling with life’s demands and an adult who has a helping hand.

Palliative Care/Hospice Care—a special type of care offered to patients who are at the end of their lives. Both hospice and palliative care centers are about providing the best care possible to their patients.

Hospice care most often occurs in a home environment. Hospice is not a place—It is a concept. A hospice team consists of doctors, nurses, social workers, spiritual personnel, therapists, aides, and volunteers. Hospice does not focus on treating medical problems; rather, it centers on keeping the elderly pain-free, comfortable and happy during their last days. In the Hospice Handbook, Larry Beresford says, “While hospice is care for the dying, it places special emphasis on life and living each day as fully as possible.” ⁴ Eligibility in most hospice programs require an estimated death within the next six months due to the terminality of the patient’s illness.

Palliative care centers around the concept of care also. A nurse is there to lend support to the patient and family and to manage the pain and other symptoms which are affecting the patient. Palliative care usually occurs in a facility such as a hospital, assisted care facility, or nursing home that is associated with a palliative care team.

Due to different policies, It is important to consult with your physicians about what type of care is best for your parents.

Home Care—a type of medical and assisted living in which the care provider works with the patient within their own home. Typically, the process involves an initial meeting between the care provider and patient to determine the personal needs and the level of care required. The care provider and patient will then come up with a personal and customized program to make sure the patient’s needs are being met. The health care provider may be either a licensed professional or a part of a company which specializes in assisted living. Typically, assisted living organizations are comprised of nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals and are assigned to each patient based on their own specific needs.

Residential Care Homes—In some areas, residential care homes are the last resort in terms of finding placement for residents who don’t quite meet the criteria for nursing home care, but may not have the funds for assisted living. Residential care homes also tend to be a good choice for seniors who have mild mental health issues that hinder their ability to live independently or to be accepted into assisted living facilities.

Adult Day Care—places senior citizens into the hands of licensed professionals who are fully capable of taking care of them. For many people, this is a way for the elderly to get out of the house and socialize with other people. Socialization is extremely important; some people could easily slip into depression if they don’t have someone they can talk to.

Companion Care—Companions for the elderly. Companion care personnel are usually trained by their company in safety and CPR. They are also called comfort caregivers. No certification is required to be a companion. ³

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. (Exodus 20:12)

How to Pay

Often finding housing for our parents boils down to financial ability to pay for services. Without going in depth, some ways to finance parental care are to use private savings from the parents or children, money from the sale of a home, long-term insurance, reverse mortgages, Medicare or Medicaid, VA benefits, stocks/bonds, or any other financial means family or parents possess.

As children face the prospect of caring for their aging parents, complex decisions about housing are imperative. Each housing options listed above comes with benefits and complexities. It is up to the family to educate themselves on what is available by communicating with them and providing time to formulate a plan that works for all parties involved.

When my father passed away, my husband and I decided to move into my mother’s home to care for her. It was a mutual decision on our parts with the understanding that we would talk if the situation was not working well for any of us. As retired baby boomers, our situation allowed this arrangement. While it isn’t for everybody, it was a mutual decision made in the best interest of both my mother and ourselves.

As you face any upcoming living arrangements for your parents, be open-minded, respectful, realistic and informed.

The expression “there’s no place like home” is true. But, when the time comes when parents need to consider whether to move or not, let’s make sure that whatever plan is crafted creates a secure, comfortable and pleasing environment for all involved.

Bible Verses:

Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

Cease striving and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10a)

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

Prayer:

Dear Lord, As I face caring for my parents, please help me honor and respect them in all decisions that must be made regarding living arrangements. I trust that You will guide me and give me wisdom as plans and decisions are made. Thank you, Lord, for helping me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God Bless,

Member Inspirational Writers Alive; Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member

Coming Soon: Caregiving Part 5: Spirituality

Edited by E. Johnson; Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.

Works Cited/Bibliography

¹ Older Parents Divulge What It’s Like to Leave Home to Live Near Adult Kids. Chicago Tribune. 5 June 2015. http://www.chicagotribune.com.

² Paying for Senior Care. https://www.payingforseniorcare.com. 5 May 2017.

³ Assisted Living Today.  http://assistedlivingtoday.com. Accessed 5 May 2017.

⁴ McGovern, Sue. What Everyone Should Know About Hospice. St. Meinrad: Abbey Press. 2004. Print.


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Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Caregiving Part 3: Being Your Parents’ Advocate

The “rich and famous” can hire a personal health advocate to help them with the issues they or their parents face as they age. These advocates help with access to medication, transportation, and other individual challenges.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an advocate as “one who pleads the cause of others.” ¹ They speak up for their client when they can’t speak up for themselves. While it would be nice for every elderly person to have their own personal health advocate, it is usually left up to family members to advocate on behalf of their parents and relatives rather than employing a paid staff member to help them navigate through the health and medical system.

Your parents need you and family members to:

  • Become familiar with their rights
  • Work on their behalf
  • Understand the intricacies of the services available
  • Be there to sign permissions, and
  • Resolve and discuss issues related to their healthcare.

Advocacy is essential when your parents reach a certain stage in life where they are unable to keep up with the complexity of the healthcare system. The elderly’s main health advocacy topics revolve around their doctor visits, medication, illnesses and disorders, dementia/Alzheimer disease, and Medicare/Medicaid.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

Make Hay While the Sun Shines: Doctor Visits

If possible, you or a family member should accompany the aged to their doctor appointments. This is especially important if your parents have any cognitive disabilities surfacing. Establishing a relationship with your parents’ doctors and an office is the beginning of establishing an agreed-upon working plan for their healthcare.

Writing down questions for the doctor before the visit is always a good idea. You will want to bring a list of your parent’s symptoms with you to discuss with the physician. No matter how trivial a question might seem to you or your parents, it is important to bring it up so the doctor can piece together the entire picture so the best care is given. However, keep in mind doctors only have so much time allotted for your visit, so prioritize your questions and comments to each physician.

Always bring a list of your parent’s medications to all doctor’s appointments. Medication or dosage may change from week to week, so it is critical to inform every physician visited of any changes to vitamins, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter-medicines. In addition, depending on your parent’s insurance policies, you may want to ask your doctor to prescribe the generic medicine if it works as well as the non-generic.

After your visit, record what the doctor said, fill any new prescriptions, talk about the visit with your parents, and write down the next appointment date in your calendar along with a reminder to call for the results of any blood work.

Here Goes! Medication

Many seniors take an agglomeration of medication. It is a daunting task for them and their caregivers to make sure they are labeled correctly and administered properly.

My mother has a medicine that comes in two dosages. The problem is that the pills are the same exact shape and size. One day she wasn’t feeling well and she noticed an irregular heartbeat. After a little detective work, we discovered that she was taking a double dose of medicine because the two pills looked so similar except for the small inscription on the pill. It was quite evident that this double dose was causing a significant problem for her—one that was easily remedied but not always easy to detect.

Polypharmacy is the term used when four or more medications are prescribed to a patient. Most adults over 65 years of age are taking four or more meds and monitoring all their medicines becomes more difficult. Using the same pharmacy for all prescriptions is advantageous and advisable. The pharmacist will have records of all the medicines taken and whether there are possible side effects and interactions with other medicines. Once prescriptions are received, note the ailment that the prescription is for on the bottle or tube.

If your parents aren’t competent, it will be left up to you—the advocate and caregiver—to manage their medications. If they aren’t able, you or a family member will be responsible for doling out, organizing, and storing their medicine.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

To help with medicine, it is wise to write what ailment all prescriptions are used for on the bottle or tube. Doing so will not only help you, but it will be useful for anyone who might need to take over distributing medicine to your parents.

Prevention is Better Than a Cure: Illnesses and Disorders

The aged are living longer now than previous generations. It follows, then, that as they live into their 80s, 90s, or even their 100s they will encounter a multitude of diseases and disorders. The most common issues affecting seniors are listed below

Accidents, Health Issues, and Disorders

  • Blood
  • Bone, joint, and muscle
  • Brain, spinal cord, and nerve
  • Cancer
  • Digestive
  • Ears, nose, and throat
  • Eye
  • Health issues and disorders of the elderly
  • Hearing
  • Heart and blood vessel
  • Hormonal
  • Immune
  • Infections
  • Injuries
  • Kidney and urinary tract
  • Liver and gallbladder
  • Lung and airway
  • Men’s health issues
  • Mental health
  • Mouth and dental
  • Nutrition and metabolic
  • Skin
  • Women’s health issues

As an advocate for your parents, you must be aware and discerning about their condition. It is not uncommon for the elderly to fear to tell you of new symptoms that present themselves. They may be concerned about bothering you or they may be justly concerned that you might move them from their home to a facility if it appears they have too many problems. By telling them you are concerned and asking them to be honest with you, they are more apt to mention any symptoms they notice.

If your parents are having memory problems, their ability to tell you about new symptoms may be diminished.

In This World, Nothing is Certain: Dementia and Alzheimer Disease

As we age, nothing is certain. No one knows what illnesses, if any, may be bestowed on them. But, one of the most devastating diagnoses imaginable is when you and your parents hear the words “dementia” or “Alzheimer’s.”

The terms dementia and Alzheimer’s are often used synonymously to represent any kind of changes in the brain which negatively affect cognitive function. However, they are defined differently.

The Alzheimer Foundation of America defines Alzheimer’s disease as “a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.” The foundation also defines dementia as “a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.”

The signs were already there with my father. My mother and I noticed them gradually over the years. His confusion, inability to calculate a tip, slower reaction time and forgetfulness became more pronounced. By the time we took him to a neurologist, we knew. But when my father heard the word “dementia,” he was affected. It was his reaction that concerned us the most. He became worried about living and being an encumbrance on us, but at the same time was happy to have a name to put with his symptoms. Everyone reacts differently to the news. And, with Alzheimer’s or dementia, your parents may react differently from day to day!

Speaking specifically to Alzheimer’s, there are changes to the brain that have signs and symptoms. While the symptoms vary from one person to the next, some of the most common first symptoms of Alzheimer’s are: ³

  • Difficulty with word-finding
  • Vision/spatial issues, and
  • Impaired reasoning or judgment
  • Getting lost
  • Changes in personality

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. If you notice memory and cognitive changes with your parents, make an appointment with a neurologist. They will be able to discuss your parent’s symptoms with both of you. The physician will ask about the overall health of your parents, give memory tests, look at blood work, and possibly perform a CT, MRI, or PET scan to obtain a probable diagnosis. It is important to realize there are other medical conditions that can cause the same symptoms as dementia or Alzheimer’s and the physician will want to rule those out.

Owen Darnell has written a beautiful Alzheimer’s poem titled Do Not Ask Me to Remember. ⁴

Do Not Ask Me to Remember

Do not ask me to remember,

Don’t try to make me understand.

Let me rest and know you’re with me,

Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.

I’m confused beyond your concept.

I am sad and sick and lost.

All I know is that I need you

To be with me at all cost.

Do not lose your patience with me.

Do not scold or curse or cry.

I can’t help the way I’m acting.

Can’t be different though I try.

Just remember that I need you.

That the best of me is gone,

Please don’t fail to stand beside me,

Love me ‘til my life is done.

All Systems Go: Medicare

Lastly, as your parent’s caregiver, overseeing their Medicare or Medicaid is vital.

Medicare is health insurance for people 65 or older, people under 65 with certain disabilities, and people of any age with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.

A quick overview of Medicare from Understanding Medicare [medicare.gov] states,

  • Medicare Part A helps covers hospital insurance.
  • Medicare Part B helps cover medical insurance.
  • Medicare Part C is a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes all benefits and services under Part A and B and more.
  • Medicare Part D helps cover the cost of prescription drugs.

Medicaid is a federal system providing health insurance to those requiring financial assistance.

Keeping up with the benefits and changes in Medicare or Medicaid is important because it can affect your loved one’s premiums, deductibles, hospital care, drug coverage and more. It is important not to miss deadlines for signing up and/or making changes that will affect your parent’s coverage.

There may be major changes for both Medicare and Medicaid under the new Trump administration. Reform is always in the works. Being vigilant and knowledgeable of these government programs can affect the health and care of your parents.

For more information on Medicare, click on Medicare.gov.

For more information on Medicaid, click on Medicaid.gov.

One Day at a Time: Wrap Up

Advocating for your loved ones can be exhausting and overwhelming. Your spiritual life can be a real comfort during this season. Acting in Christian love will enhance your character and provide a renewed hope for your parents. Some days will be more trying than others. Praying to be the sons and daughters your parents need will give you strength and help you to set a loving tone each day as you handle the infinite issues involved in your parent’s care.

Your parents need you to help them manage and advocate for them through their doctor visits, medication challenges, illnesses, and insurance programs. Concentrate on short-term goals. And proceed “one day at a time.”

Bible Verses:

So, do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor. (Romans 12:10)

Prayer:

My heavenly Father, I can get so overwhelmed with all the jobs involved in caregiving. You know I love my parents. You know I care, but I get tired. There is so much to do each day. Give me Your strength and wisdom as I face the challenges ahead. Let me wake each day with a renewed love for You and my loved ones. Let me live day by day in Your presence. These things I ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God Bless,

Member Inspirational Writers Alive; Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member

Coming Soon: Caregiving Part 4: Housing Options for Elderly Parents

Edited by E. Johnson; Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.

Works Cited/Bibliography

¹ Merriam-Webster Dictionary. merriam-webster.com. Accessed 26 Apr 2017.

² “About Alzheimer’s Disease.” Alzheimer Foundation of America. alzfdn.org/AboutAlzheimers/definition.html. Accessed 12 Dec 2016.

³ “Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet National Institute on Aging Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet.” NationalInstitute on Aging. nia.nih.gov/…/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet. Accessed 4 Apr 2017.

⁴ Owen, Darnell. “Alzheimer’s Poem: Do Not Ask Me to Remember.” alzheimers.net/2013-08-05/do-not ask-me-to-remember-poem. Accessed Apr 26 2017.


If you found this post helpful, please like/share it so others can get the benefit. Thanks. If you would like to receive email notifications of new posts or to receive monthly newsletters, please click here and scroll down on www.GreenePastures.org to subscribe.

Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Caregiving Part 2: Getting Your Parents’ Affairs in Order

As a caregiver, one the most important things you can do for yourself and for your aging parents is to have a conversation with them about their legal, medical, and financial affairs. It is often left up to the children to address these issues and get the ball rolling before a crisis is upon the family.

A story was told about three daughters who tried to have that talk with their mother, but she would always avoid the topic by steering the conversation in a different direction. Their mother then passed away unexpectedly after at the age of 74 after falling down a flight of stairs. Since the conversation never took place, they were left learning that their mother had a mortgage on her house and the bank which held it could not divulge any information to the daughters without a death certificate. The girls found some items where they expected to find them, but then they found their mother’s insurance policy in a knitting bag.¹ Situations like these create frustration and stress as children try to handle the affairs of others before and after their parent’s death.

Often relatives are capable of setting their loved one’s affairs in order. Other times legal, medical, and financial help is needed to obtain the correct advice and documents.

A legal specialty called “elder law” helps families find specific help and advice to ensure their health and wealth is protected from upcoming legal issues, medical decisions, and money questions. An elder care attorney can usually help you see through your parent’s information. The result is an efficient approach to get you going in the right direction. Some families utilize their doctors, their financial advisers, and their own personal attorneys to reach the same goal. Different states have different laws and procedures for end-of-life planning, so it is always best to check what the laws are in your state as some may require a witness, a notary signature, or an attorney signature.

No matter which route you choose, be proactive. With so many terms related to elder care planning, I have chosen to give you a list compiled from various sources that will help you know what might be needed in your own situation. Sometimes the three areas of legal, medical, and financial overlap and other times an issue will fall directly under one category.

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)

Legal Terms

Will/Trust – It is essential to have an up-to-date will and/or trust that designates financial, estate, and legal control and distribution. You and/or the elder may have few assets, but even with simple estates, it is generally advisable to have an attorney create a document that will protect the elder’s wishes about his or her estate.

Many people confuse a will with a trust. They both create designations for one’s assets.

Elder Law Answers, a long-term care and planning resource website, distinguishes the two by stating that the main difference is that a will and a trust is that a will goes into effect only after you die, while a trust takes effect as soon as you create it. A will is a document that directs who will receive your property at your death and it appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes. By contrast, a trust can be used to begin distributing property before death, at death or afterward.

Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) – A document that grants a person or persons (“Attorney-in-fact”) the legal powers to perform on behalf of the elder (“Grantor”) certain acts and functions specifically outlined in the document. This power is effective immediately and continues even if the grantor becomes disabled or incompetent. The powers usually granted include real estate, banking and financial transactions, personal and family maintenance, government benefits, estate trust and beneficiary transactions.

Advance Directive – Written instructions regarding an individual’s medical care preferences. The forms vary from state to state, but in general, advance directives can include a Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy, and a Do Not Resuscitate or Do Not Intubate Order (DNR or DNI). You do not necessarily need a lawyer to create these. ²

“An advance directive goes into effect only if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself.” ³

Medical Terms

Advance directives are for people of all ages who might face any medical emergency or crisis. By maintaining up-to-date advance directives, you can be sure the medical treatment you want is carried out. It also relieves family members from making the gut-wrenching decisions that might occur in emergency situations. Be sure your family knows where these documents are and keep them in a handy, accessible location.

CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) – [Resuscitation that] might restore your heartbeat if your heart stops or is a life-threatening abnormal rhythm.”

Ventilator Use – Ventilators are machines that help you to breathe. A tube connected to the ventilator is put through the throat into the trachea (windpipe) so the machine can force air into the lungs. Putting the tube down the throat is called intubation.

Comfort Care – Comfort care is anything that can be done to soothe you and relieve suffering while staying in line with your wishes.

Hospice Care – [Provides] comfort to you and your family during a life-threatening illness, rather than provide treatments to cure the illness.

Palliative Care – [This is] similar to comfort care in hospice, but it is offered along with any medical treatments you might be receiving for a life-threatening illness.

Living Will – A written document that helps you tell doctors how you want to be treated if you are dying or permanently unconscious and cannot make decisions about emergency treatment. [It is important to note that a living will is different from the legal will mentioned above.]

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care – A legal document naming a healthcare proxy, someone to make medical decisions for you at times when you might not be able to do so.

DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) – Tells medical staff in a hospital or nursing facility that you do not want them to try to return your heart to a normal rhythm if it stops or is beating unevenly. [Take this to the hospital and be sure your doctor has a copy of this document.]

DNI (Do Not Intubate) – Will alert emergency medical staff in a hospital or nursing facility that you do not want to be put on a breathing machine. [Take this to the hospital and be sure your doctor as a copy of this document.]

Organ and Tissue Donation – Allows organs or body parts from a generally healthy person who has died to be transplanted into people who need them. ³

HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) – MedicineNet.com defines HIPPA as “a U.S. law designed to provide privacy standards to protect patients’ medical records and other health information provided to health plans, doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.”

To have access to your loved one’s medical records, written permission must be given. Doctors, hospitals, other providers of healthcare have HIPPA release forms for their patients to sign. These release forms authorize all or some medical information to be disclosed to other individuals or organizations. Checking to be sure you have access to your loved one’s medical records is important.

Financial Terms

The time may come when the elderly parent is not able to handle their own finances. This could be due to mental or physical impairment, visual difficulties, falling prey to scams, or the death of a spouse who handled the finances. Don’t be afraid to step in to be sure financial losses do not occur. With the advent of the computers, the elderly may easily transfer money, buy or sell stocks, or give money away without a family member even knowing. You may need to assess the situation and find out what tools will help prevent unfortunate situations from occurring.

Joint Accounts – The elder can add you or another relative to a checking account as a joint account holder. This makes you a joint owner of the funds — both you and your loved one can withdraw and deposit money and write checks. It allows the elder to maintain some independence and control and allows you to keep an eye on things, pay bills, and handle some (but not all) financial affairs.

Single-Owner Accounts with an Authorized Signer – Your older relative can add you as an authorized signer on a checking or savings account, without making you a joint owner. This means you can write checks and withdraw and deposit funds. However, because you are not an owner of the account, all transactions must be made on behalf of the elder.

Automatic Payments – You can ease the bill paying burden by helping your older relative set up electronic automatic payments or withdrawals for monthly bills.

Representative Payee for Social Security Benefits – The elder can designate you as their representative payee for Social Security benefits. A representative payee receives the Social Security benefit checks and is responsible for using the funds on behalf of the elder.

Financial Power of Attorney – With a financial power of attorney, the elder gives another person legal authority to act on their behalf. ⁴

In addition, if your loved one has an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), stocks, mutual funds, or other accounts with financial institutions, a call to those businesses might be in order. They will be able to direct you as to handling the daunting situation you may be facing with your parent’s financial matters.

Just Do It

Let’s face it: you may not feel equipped to initiate a conversation about the legal, medical, and financial decisions that you may encounter. But, when we approach our elders with kindness, listen to their opinions, and let them know that we are on their side to help them to make these decisions, we can proceed with confidence that we are carrying out their desires.

And by doing so, we are honoring our parents. The apostle Paul summed it up accurately when he writes, “Honor your father and mother. This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing.” (Ephesians 6:23 LB.)

Bible Verses:

The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged. (2 Timothy 2:24)

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Prayer:

Lord, thank You for the many resources where I can find information to help me with my parent’s legal, medical, and financial needs. Make me aware of information that is pertinent to the care of my parents. I truly want to be the best caregiver I can be. I need Your guidance and help. Let me love like You loved. Let me serve like You served. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God Bless,

Member Inspirational Writers Alive; Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member

Coming Soon: Caregiving Part 3: Being Your Parents’ Advocate

Edited by E. Johnson; Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.

Works Cited/Bibliography

¹ Siegel Bernard, Tara. The Talk You Didn’t Have with Your Parents Could Cost. New York Times, 24 May. www.nytimes.com. Accessed 22 April 2017.

² Caring for Your Parents: Legal Issues, PBS, pbs.org. Accessed 22 April 2017.

³ Advance CARE Planning: Tips from the National Institute on Aging. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. WEB. Accessed 22 April 2017.

⁴ Michon, Kathleen. First Steps to Managing an Elder’s Finances. nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/helping-seniors-manage-money-finances-32268-2.html. Accessed 22 April 2017.


If you found this post helpful, please like/share it so others can get the benefit. Thanks. If you would like to receive email notifications of new posts or to receive monthly newsletters, please click here and scroll down on www.GreenePastures.org to subscribe.

Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Caregiving Part 1: Keeping Aging Parents Safe

There are many issues and facets involved in caring for ones’ parents. The style and attitude of care provided to a parent by a child can vary considerably among the parent’s children. One child embraces caregiving with a total outflowing of love and energy while another could experience a total depletion of energy and frustration. Understanding your aging parents involves many aspects of care, especially caring for their safety.

The Utah Caregiver Coalition defines caregiving as “the provision of assistance to another person who is ill, disabled, or needs help with daily activities. It often requires attention to the physical, mental, social, and psychological needs and well-being of both the caregivers and the elderly person requiring care.” ¹

In a Christian sense, caregiving is a call to serve and give your life to another person. Serving others is a Biblical theme discussed multiple times within the context of the Bible as a virtue for us to strive for and act upon.

A call to serve others comes directly from Matthew 20:28 when Matthew, the most likely author of the book, wrote:

“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

I was privileged to live with my mother and father during my father’s final days of acute myeloid leukemia and dementia. Currently, my husband and I are living with my mother in her home as she faces her own critical health issues. In June Hunt’s book Caregiving: A Privilege, Not a Prison, she shares that caregiving provides emotional and physical support to someone unable to live independently and makes a choice with the heart and mind to give needed support to a dependent person. She also mentions that “Christian caregiving is offered in the spirit of love, compassion, and relationship.” ²

This same spirit is what I am striving for as I face many diverse issues relating to caring for my own mom as she embraces her final days.

Before addressing the safety of your parents, you must first:

  • Understand the aging process
  • Become knowledgeable about the issues facing the aging population
  • Become proactive regarding the safety issues facing the elderly

Understand Aging

Understanding how seniors age is a difficult feat. They struggle with: forfeiting their freedom and independence, becoming forgetful, losing their eyesight and hearing; experiencing mobility problems, encountering depression, and more. College degrees in aging address topics such as age-related diseases, the biology of aging, nutrition, laws and ethics of aging, and even caregiving.

Your parents may develop attitudes or thoughts they may never have had in their younger years. Feelings of loneliness, friendlessness, uselessness, and unwantedness may unfold. These attitudes may appear as them being unsocial, depressed, anxious, irate or sad. Issues such as living arrangements, financial matters, medical treatments and legal issues may become household topics.

Too often caregivers have trouble adjusting to their parent’s newfound attitudes and opinions. As children, knowing your parents will help to understand why and how they act. Facing these issues with a sound and patient mind will help your parents trust and adjust more to the uncertain future they are entering.

On the other hand, some seniors are even-keeled, sweet, sociable, and concerned with the welfare of others all the while dealing with these important decisions.

Let’s look at the case of an older woman who seemingly was very competent in coping with what life held for her taken from an article titled “When God Sends Help, Don’t Ask Questions” in Senior News. ³

She hurried to the pharmacy to pick up the medication. When she got back to the car, she found her keys locked inside.

The woman found an old rusty coat hanger on the ground. She looked at it and said, “I don’t know how to use this.”

She bowed her head and asked God to send her some help.

Within five minutes an old motorcycle pulled up, driven by a bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag. He got off his cycle and asked if he could help.

She said, “Yes, my husband is sick. I’ve locked my keys in my car. I must get home. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?”

He said, Sure.” He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute the car was open.

She hugged the man and through tears said, “Thank you, God, for sending me such a very nice man.”

The man heard her little prayer and replied, “Lady I am not a nice man. I just got out of prison yesterday; I was in prison for car theft.”

The woman hugged the man again, sobbing, “Oh, thank you, God! You even sent me a professional.”

Become Knowledgeable

In perusing the Internet, I found multiple tips on caregiving. They came under the titles: Tips for Caregivers, Being a Healthy Caregiver, Caregiver Stress: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself, Tips for Caregivers: Coping with Stress and Anxiety, Helping Seniors Manage Money and Finances, and Caring for Your Parents: Legal Issues, and Medical Tips for Seniors. After immersing myself in these articles, I have compiled some brief tips to help you get started with your caregiving tour de force:

  • Get your parent’s medical and legal information in order. Keep these items in a location easy for quick retrieval. The items and information you want to locate and secure include advance directives, wills, medication lists, birth certificates, insurance policies, estate planning documents, usernames, passwords, and safety deposit keys.
  • Communicate with your parent’s doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, and financial advisors.
  • Have candid conversations with your siblings. Delegate and plan a schedule for shared care even if one person is the primary caregiver.
  • Watch for medical issues that may surface regarding your parents and yourself.
  • Find out what your loved one’s preferences are regarding future living arrangements, long-term care, medical decisions, and legal issues before they are not able to participate in these discussions.
  • Understand you are not alone: You may need to seek out support from others. Realize, however, that unless your friends or relatives have experienced it themselves, they may not be capable of truly understanding your position.
  • Understand that being your parent’s caregiver is not an easy job. It is exhausting and possibly expensive, but it can be the most rewarding experience of your life.

Be Proactive in Creating a Safe Environment for Your Parents

According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, “Many older Americans are injured in and around their homes every year. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that on average 1.4 million people aged 65 and older are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for injuries associated with consumer products. Within this age group, the rate of injury is the highest for people 75 years of age and older.” ⁴

Too often caregivers are so overwhelmed they overlook basic safety issues within the home. Some issues of concern here are:

  • Do you need to purchase a medical alert fall-protection system?
  • Do you need to discuss opening their doors to strangers?
  • Do you need to discuss fraud and scams— Internet fraud and telephone scams?
  • Are the shelves in their living quarters secure?
  • Will phone and electrical cords cause a tripping incident?
  • Do you need to discuss what to do in an emergency?
  • Does the doorbell work?
  • Are the rugs on the floor secure?
  • Are there flammable liquids around the house?
  • Are hallways free of clutter for walkers and wheelchairs?

To see a more exhaustive home safety list, click here: https://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/122038/701.pdf

Many elderly men and women still drive. Some are capable; others are not. One of the hardest things any person has to give up is their driver’s license because it represents their independence and self-sufficiency.

Caregivers must be actively involved in the driving safety of their loved ones. Sometimes adult children can tell their parents that it is time to relinquish their keys; other times it is best left up to a physician or other entity. Either way, securing the safety of your loved one and those around them is important.

Some discussions to have with the elderly are:

  • Do you know which routes are the safest to take?
  • Have you had your hearing and vision checked recently?
  • Which is the best way to get to the doctor, church, friends, grocery store, and other places?
  • Using a taxi, bus or shuttle if needed.
  • Not driving when an emergency occurs.

To see a more exhaustive driving assessment checklist, click here: http://www.caregiverslibrary.org/Portals/0/ChecklistsandForms_DrivingAssessmentChecklist.pdf

Conclusion:

One of the most important things about caregiving is being informed. I was recently asked to teach a six-week class on Caregiving at my church. At first, I couldn’t believe someone would ask me while caretaking myself, but I did anyway, and it was great!

In preparing for the class I consulted many resources. I read books, websites, and articles on the topic. It was through learning more and listening to others that I felt better able to face the challenge with love and appreciation.

I was tasked with finding an appropriate book for the class. I bought seven books and read through about ten more. I finally decided on the best reference book currently available on the topic and I would like to recommend it in hopes this book might help you.

Morris, Virginia. How to Care for Aging Parents, 3rd Edition: A One-Stop Resource for All Your Medical, Financial, Housing, and Emotional Issues.  New York: Workman, 2014. This book can be ordered HERE from Amazon.

Remember, caregiving is different for each of us. As caregivers, we must learn more to understand the aging process, use various resources to become knowledgeable about the elderly and be proactive in providing a safe environment for our loved ones.

Bible Verses:

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. (Ephesians 6:2-3)

Prayer:

Dear Lord, help me to be the best caregiver possible. Give me wisdom and a desire to honor you in how I serve. There are so many issues to face. You know my time and my schedule. Let me experience joy as I honor my loved ones. Let me seek knowledge. Let me be wise in my dealings with others. Let me be generous with my hugs and kisses. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God Bless,

Member Inspirational Writers Alive; Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member

Coming Soon: Caregiving Part 2: Getting My Parent’s Affairs in Order on www.GreenePastures.org.

Edited by E. Johnson; Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.

Works Cited/Bibliography

¹ What is Caregiving? Utah Caregiving Coalition. utahcares.org/caregiving-2. Accessed 19 Apr 2017.

² Hunt, June. Caregiving: A Privilege: Not a Prison. Dallas: Hope for the Heart, 2015.

³ When God Sends Help, Don’t Ask Questions. Seniorific News. 13 Jan 2017.

Home Safety Checklist. Consumer Product Safety Commission Safety for Older Consumers.  https://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/122038/701.pdf. Accessed 19 Apr 2017.


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Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here