Thursday, November 20, 2008

Financial Insecurity ... and Security

There was a very interesting article: AARP exposes shady retirement seminars
When it comes to these workshops, there is no such thing as a 'free lunch'
on the MSNBC website this morning.
Everyone should definitely read this!
My siblings and I are just as worried about my Dad's investments and my parents' financial security as I'm sure most people are these days; however, as the article points out ... be careful before putting all the money in an annuity or a trust. I had actually thought about this route, until I really started thinking about all the unexpected (and expected) expenses that arise every month ... how would we be able to pay those bills if we were only receiving a fixed amount? Who cares that it would pay out for 5-10 years! If you need it today, you need it today! To think that my parents' would have had the money to cover expenses, but we wouldn't be able to access it, would have been catastrophic!
Every month hospital bills, clothing expenses, sundry shopping trips, meals out, pharmacy bills, etc., come in ... not to mention the upkeep and possible future expenses to be incurred with their house before it sells ... what a disaster this all could have been!
I'm still optimistic that the stock market will turn around, so I even hate the thought of liquidating any of it at this point, though I know we have to do something to cover expenses. Assisted Living is costly, but still is much more feasible than the cost of 24-hour, 7-day a week care at home.
As I discover any helpful information on this topic, I'll share it here. If anyone reads this has some thoughts, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Try Music Therapy!

I have been doing a lot of research on the internet regarding non-drug therapies for improving memory and exercising the brain. There's been some intriguing studies performed using Music Therapy.
I'd like to share some of the fascinating websites I've found:
Education update: Music Therapy for People with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease

The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function

A caregiver article referencing Music Therapy success

These are just a few. I went to another website, called Eldersong, and found a wealth of great music, along with song books with all the lyrics. To test one out, I purchased the Volume 2 and brought it over to my parents. My Dad started singing immediately! This is a major event! My Dad, who used to sing all the time, hasn't sung in years! He and my Mom both were sitting there singing all the old songs they used to sing to me when I was a child ... like "I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time" and "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," and so many more. They were having a great time!
Now, we just need to find a senior-friendly cd player! My quest continues ... more later!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Think BIG! Senior-Friendly Calendar and Clock!

The calendar highlights activities, with the times they are offered. The purple arrows flag appointments.
This clock is just wonderful! The day and date flip at midnight.

Finally, I have something worth writing about! I know it's been a long time, but when I started this blog, my intention was to focus on products and services that were beneficial to helping your elderly parents (or siblings or friends!) ... not to ramble on about the everyday toils and troubles and anxieties we all feel. We all feel them, let's face it! So, on a positive note, I finally have some products (and projects!) that are, in my opinion, well worth mentioning.

Without going into a lot of details, let me just say that my parents, due to injury, finally moved into an assisted-living residence about two months ago. This has been quite an adjustment ... more of an ongoing adjustment, I'd say. I've been trying everything I can think of to make the transition easier and to try to make sure they are able to take advantage of all the activities and services provided there.

The residence provides a monthly calendar with all the activities listed for every day; however, my parents never seemed to attend anything ... partly because they didn't really even know where to look to figure out what they might want to do and where/when it was offered.

When I met with a senior advocate a couple of weeks ago, she encouraged me to take the monthly calendar and make it REALLY BIG. Highlight the activities that might be important (like appointments) and also all the activities that might be of interest to my parents. She also encouraged me to hang this in a prominent place in the room, visible from the doorway, so that when members of the staff came in, they, too, could glance up at the calendar and remind my parents that the "Bridge Club" was meeting soon or that "Bingo" was just about to start, etc. With that idea, I went to a teacher's store and bought a big, cardboard write on/wipe off calendar. I decided against using the write on/wipe off calendar as THE calendar, though, because after I had filled in the activities for the month, I brushed against it and "poof," half of it disappeared with a mere swipe of my arm! Forget it! If the activites could be that easily erased, it was never going to last a month.

I definitely wanted something more permanent. So I headed over to Office Depot and found those big pieces of paper that come in a tablet on a cardboard easel. The paper, with a little trimming, would work perfectly. SO, I took the teacher's-store calendar and used it as a template to make my own calendar. I don't have a light table big enough for tracing such a huge item, so I used some masking tape and taped the teacher's-store calendar to the window, then I taped my big piece of paper over it. Using the light that came from behind, I was able to see the calendar perfectly and with permanent markers and a ruler, I traced the grid for the calendar.

After I finished the grid, I put my piece on the floor and finished drawing in all the days of the week. Using the monthly calendar from the residence, I wrote in all the things that might interest my parents and the scheduled times. I used different colored markers for each activity and tried to keep that the same throughout: Pale blue for exercises, bright green for bingo, purple for appointments, red for Mass, etc.

I took the calendar and posted it on a bulletin board, along with a list of all the phone numbers that my parents might need (or want!) so they don't have to plow through their old address books every day. (I tacked up a couple of photos, too, just because I had the space on the bulletin board, but you wouldn't have to do that!)

I hung the whole thing in the center of the living-room wall. THEN, I found a fantastic clock that features the day/time. You can find this clock at the Alzheimer's Store. They also have a wall clock that has the same features. The wall clock costs more and I didn't think it would be quite as useful as the desk clock for our purpose. Both clocks are pretty expensive, in my opinion, but I really do think it's been a great help.