Joy Loverde’s Caregiver Tip of the Moment: Refuse to be anyone’s “middleman”

  • Posted on Nov. 14th, 2014

canstockphoto16057650It’s so subtle you may not even realize that it’s happening.

A sister asks, “So how’s Mom doing?” A brother asks, “How is Aunt Betty feeling lately?” A son asks, “When is Dad’s hip surgery?” A mother asks, “Is your daughter enjoying her new job?”  And before you know it… you are put in the position of what I call, “middleman.”

Think about it. The more you allow others to make you the spokesperson   for your family member’s comings and goings, the less work they have to do to stay in touch with others. You have no idea of how much time and energy this is costing YOU. Besides, speaking in someone else’s behalf may not be in your best interest – especially when you get the facts wrong.

You are not anyone’s messenger. You are not a middleman. You have enough on your plate and adding the process of talking about things that are not directly related to you is mind and body draining.

Stop the madness. Start training parents and siblings to talk with each other directly. Here is an example of what you can say:

Sister: “How’s Dad feeling?”

You: “I really can’t answer for Dad. Why don’t you ask him yourself and give him a call?”

Mom: “I haven’t heard from Bonnie lately. Is she okay?

         You: “That’s a great question, Mom. Why don’t you give her a call?”


You are not in charge of family members’ relationships. That’s not a role you need to take on. The more that people speak directly with each other, the better it is for you.


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Putting Down Roots: Steps for Gracefully Aging in Your Own Home

  • Posted on Nov. 5th, 2014

By Arar Han
Aging in placeWe all want to spend our golden years in the warm embrace of our own home, where we have spread out our roots. But aging in place comes with its own set of challenges, and not all of them are apparent at first glance.

Mature trees have to adapt to their surroundings, growing around obstacles rather than being overcome by them. Similarly, as you age in place, you will need to adapt your home to suit your changing needs.

In this post, we will examine how to make your house perfect for aging in place so that you can continue to thrive in your home.

Making Your Home Accessible
Aging comes with physical challenges, and you won’t be able to do all the things you used to. Everyday tasks often become more difficult. But your home doesn’t have to work against you. A few simple modifications will make your home accessible:

• Install grab bars near your toilet and tub or shower. Modern grab bars can be an attractive addition to your bathroom, and they will help you balance when you need it.
• How long have you had that saggy couch? It’s easy to get stuck in a couch that wants to swallow you whole. Replace those old couches and chairs with updated furniture that has firmer cushions and sturdy arms. Your back will thank you!
• Make sure everything is within reach. Don’t forget about the extra supplies that you’ve hidden in lower cabinets and on upper shelves. You don’t want to find out you can’t reach the extra toilet paper when you need it most!
• It’s time to address those slippery floors – falling is one of the top causes of injury for seniors. You can cover those areas with non-slip mats, or consider adding carpeting throughout your home.
• As we age, our skin becomes less sensitive to temperature changes, and it becomes easier to be burned by hot water without noticing it. Turn down the temperature of your water heater or install automatic temperature controls to prevent burns.

Getting Help With Everyday Tasks
It can be difficult to keep up with the maintenance a home requires, but it is important that these tasks not be left for too long. If the carpet is coming up or the door won’t close, you are increasing your risk of dangerous falls.

You also don’t need to live with that annoying leaky faucet or non-working toilet. If you find yourself unable to do routine maintenance, you can ask a handy neighbor or family member, or hire someone to come take care of these tasks on a regular basis.

If needed, get help with regular chores such as meal preparation, grocery shopping, driving, and laundry. You can use a service like Uber or Lyft to get around, or have assistants come to your home. Take advantage of these services to make your life easier so you have time to enjoy the things you love.

Getting Reminders About Your Medication
Many seniors have to take a variety of medication, usually at specific times throughout the day. All of those different schedules are difficult to remember! A medication reminder is a simple and very effective solution to prevent the misuse of medication.

Medication reminders feature individual containers for each of your different medications, and an alarm goes off when it is time to take them. They only let you open the correct container so you can’t take the wrong medication by mistake. Some medication reminders can even phone or text you to remind you when it’s time to take your medication. They will keep track of dosage times for you, so you don’t have to always be watching the clock

Continuing to Age in Place
Aging in place is a wonderful thing. Being by your friends, family, and neighbors in the comfort of your own home is invaluable. Preparation is very important, and you will be thankful you made your home accessible before you were forced to uproot your life.

As you age, your needs will change, but the mature tree is flexible and resilient. If you realize something is getting difficult for you, get help to fix the problem before it gets worse. Don’t let the weeds force out your roots!

Life is an adventure, and you never know what the future holds. It is important to have a good outlook on life and keep your leaves turned towards the sun. You don’t have to suffer with tasks that are too difficult: speak up and get help. Keep up your activities and spend time with your friends and family. They will support your aging in place plan so that you can spread out your branches and enjoy your golden years to the fullest..

Arar Han is co-CEO of Alert-One, a personal safety technology and consulting firm headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with offices nationwide. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Arar holds a dual degree in Philosophy and Human Development from Boston College, summa cum laude and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Originally from Seoul, she currently lives in Palo Alto with her family.

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Moving a Reluctant Parent – Part 17

  • Posted on Oct. 27th, 2014

Aunt Bby Joy Loverde

Two years. That’s the amount of time I waited for the ball to drop. Two years observing my Aunt from the sidelines as she slowly but surely did herself in. Two years anticipating that at any time she was an accident waiting to happen. Two years of being ready to take action. And sadly, two years waiting for the phone to ring that today was the day she was ready to move. That phone call never came.

Last week when all of my waiting came to an end Moving a Reluctant Parent – Part 16 and I got the call from my cousin that my Aunt had finally agreed to sell the house and actually signed the listing agreement, my emotions went numb. I could not speak. I could not feel happy. I simply went to bed and put my head under the covers and wept. I was mentally and physically more exhausted than I realized. All I needed in the moment was peace and quiet and time to adjust to the new plan; then a miracle of miracles took place.

My Aunt’s niece (who lives on the west coast) decided to come to Chicago to stay with her Aunt for three weeks. There were numerous reasons for this visit – one of which was to prove me and my cousins wrong for “forcing” Auntie out of her house. This niece was coming to Chicago because she is angry and thinks what is being done is cruel and unjust because “there is nothing wrong with Auntie and she does not have to move if she doesn’t want to.”

The phone rang several hours after the niece unpacked her bags at my Aunt’s house. I took a deep breath as I answered the phone. This is not going to be pretty I thought to myself. To my surprise the niece was pleasant and chatty, and never once verbally attacked me the way she did my cousins. Hmmmm. She has no clue how much of a role I played in this relocation situation and I don’t intend to let her know.

A few days went by. The niece and my Aunt are running errands, shopping for groceries, preparing meals and cooking together, watching TV and just hanging out. And every moment they are together the niece begins to see and experience what I have known all along – that Auntie is no longer safe to live alone. Plus, she is not eating, is extremely forgetful and quite unsteady on her feet.

Listen up long-distance family members…

The niece who is visiting has a lifetime relationship with her Aunt (as I do). The difference is they literally talk EVERY SINGLE DAY on the telephone. My Aunt has been physically and mentally declining for years and none of the clues were detected by the niece over the telephone. She was unaware of any of the real dangers in my Aunt’s life.

If you are a long-distance family member and you think everything is AOK in your elder’s life because they sound peachy over the phone, you can be sadly mistaken. The telephone is a sorry excuse for in-person meetings. If you do not visit your elders on a regular basis and see and experience for yourself how they are managing on a daily basis; then get ready for an emergency telephone call that something bad has or is about to happen.

More to come.

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