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  • How To Care For An Aging Parent
  • What are some challenges that caregivers face?
  • SPONSORS: Franciscan Village | Villa St. Benedict | Campbell Long, LLC Guardianship | Foot and Ankle Wellness Center | Lutheran Home | Lemont Center | Zapolis & Associates, P.C. | A Place for Alice
  • 6 Steps to Keeping the Brain In Shape
  • When an Ailing Grandparent Moves In
  • Holiday Gifts and Gestures for Seniors

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How To Care For An Aging Parent

Courtney, director at My Roofing Pal, age 34 was awoken by a loud thud on Christmas morning. She sprinted to the source of the sound only to find her mother, age 65, lying on the living room floor next to the couch. She began to panic when she saw the pool of blood beneath her.

Courtney’s mother had an 8-inch laceration in her shin from hitting it on the wheel of her walker due to swelling from lymphedema. Since she’s diabetic, wound care was critical. Courtney had to manage it daily. She also was anxious about the possibility of her falling again especially since she has Spinal Stenosis and requires care. These are some of the challenges she experiences being a caregiver to her mother.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics there is over 40 million people in the United States that provide unpaid eldercare. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that most adult caregivers provide help with errands, housework, or home repairs and over half also offer emotional support.

Caring for an adult parent can be challenging but others have also found this job to be rewarding. Experts and adult caregivers offer the following advice to people who are struggling with their role caring for their adult parents.

Start Discussions About Care Early
No one wants to think about needing care when they are older, but the best time to discuss this issue is when you don’t need it.

“It is important to develop a future care plan with family and/or friends so that you can express your future wishes in care,” says Dr. Lisa Hollis-Sawyer, Gerontology Program Coordinator and professor at Northeastern Illinois University.

You can also prevent conflict among family members by creating a care plan that everyone agrees with before the stress of needing one is added into the situation.

“By having difficult conversations with your parents before there is a crisis you can avoid most issues that cause problems,” says Dr. Gayle Byck, founder and principal advocate In Tune Health Advocates.

Create Advance Directives
Once you start discussing care options with your parents, you should also make sure that all legal paperwork is competed such as health care power of attorney (HCPOA), a living will, and financial power of attorney.

“It is a gift to yourself and to those you love to make your wishes known and designate someone to carry them out for you,” says Dr. Byck. Her website has links to end-of-life planning information.

Another reason to create these documents is to save money if care becomes necessary.

“If you don’t have the proper documents in place like a health care proxy or power of attorney, instead of caring for an aging parent, you will be in court paying costly fees to get permission to make decisions, probably fighting with your family and wasting valuable time,” says Renee Fry, CEO of Gentreo Family Vault.

Delegate Responsibilities Among Family Members
If you have siblings or another family member that can assist with caregiving, then assigning specific tasks will help ease the process for everyone involved.

“Consider holding a family meeting to discuss and identify the needs of the parent and how family members or close friends might be able to contribute their time and resources,” says Dr. Rebecca Cowan counselor and professor at Walden University.

Dr. Hollis-Sawyer explains that when you create clear expectations of care duties to other people involved with caring it will help you to feel less overwhelmed and burnout. The “rules of care” will also prevent caregivers from feeling burdened.

“Set weekly appointments to discuss what you are experiencing as a caregiver and your associated caregiver needs. The opportunity to share your feelings with others can help alleviate feelings of anxiety and potentially boost physical and mental health,” says Dr. Hollis-Sawyer.

Learn About Benefits
Your parents may be entitled to benefits that would help cover the cost of care. If your parent was in the military then they may qualify for VA Aid.

“Be sure your parent is receiving the benefits they are entitled to. One example is the VA Aid and Assistance program that is not widely known about. These programs provide financial support for seniors to enable them to pay for assistance with the care that their children are currently providing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there are tons of resources available to seniors but you have to ask,” says Angie Szumlinski, Director of Risk Management for Health Cap Risk Management and Insurance.

Corporations sometimes offer benefits for eldercare. You can ask about benefits at your place of work or research information on the website Families and Work Institute which is a nonprofit organization. AARP has a Medicare Resource Center that explains eligibility and provides a question and answer tool.

Be Organized
Providing care for your parent usually involves keeping track of doctor’s appointments, medications, and maintaining hygiene. Being organized will help everyone involved in caretaking be less stressed and accomplish their given job.

Suzanne Asaff Blankenship, author of the book, How To Take Care of Old People Without Losing Your Marbles  explains that organization is the best defense for the stress and frustration of eldercare. She says, “When the inevitable emergency occurs, being organized helps to keep you out of panic mode.”

Dr. Hollis-Sawyer discusses types of technology that help with organization. She says, “You can use phone apps, home voice technology (like Amazon Alexa), and other computer programs (an Excel spreadsheet) to help streamline care activities with others. You can also use self-care reminders like the Calm phone app,”

Be Patient
If your parent has memory issues or you need to repeat the same activities numerous times then your patience will be tested.

“It is important to have patience. If you feel yourself losing your patience, such as constantly repeating yourself or having to do a task over and over, you need to step back and regroup. Go outside, take a deep breath, and get some fresh air or take a little walk so you can settle down. Never push it to the limit where you lose your patience and start to yell, that can turn into a bad situation,” says James Colozzo, author of the book You Got To Do What You Got To Do: My Experience As A Caregiver Taking Care Of My Parents For Over Twenty Years.

Asaff Blankenship says, “You should realize that eldercare is a marathon, not a sprint. You will need various tools in your tool bag throughout the journey.”

Focus on the Rewards
Caring for your parent gives you the chance to develop a stronger relationship with them. Dr. Hollis-Sawyer explains that when you provide care for your parent it is an opportunity to show younger generations in the family how to engage in caregiving activities.

“Try to focus on the positive aspects of your daily care activities. Changing the schema of caregiving tasks from a negative to positive perspective can help reduce your feelings of anxiety, guilt, and stress that can overshadow the great accomplishments you are achieving in others’ lives through your care efforts,” says Dr. Hollis-Sawyer.

By Cheryl Maguire


What are some challenges that caregivers face?

When caring for an adult parent, people encounter many challenges such as:

  • Additional financial responsibilities
  • Emotional stress or burnout
  • Struggling with role reversal
  • Feeling guilty about not being able to help or provide all the necessary care
  • Navigating the healthcare system
  • Needing to act as an advocate for your parent
  • Time constraints
  • Disagreements about care among family members
  • Parents may feel like a burden to their child
  • Parents may feel embarrassed about their issues and not ask for help when needed
  • Maintaining their parents’ hygiene

Ways to Take Care of Yourself (Self-Care)

When people focus on caring for others, they often forget to take care of themselves. But you won’t be an effective caregiver without addressing your own needs first.

  • Ask Friends and Family for Help
  • Enlist Religious or Community Groups for Help
  • Hire Professional Help like a housekeeper or professional advocate
  • Make sleep a priority and sleep 7-8 hours at night
  • Eat Healthily
  • Exercise
  • Do less by saying no to unnecessary obligations
  • Mediation
  • Take Breaks
  • Lower your expectations for housework or other time-consuming tasks
  • Be organized
  • Participate in support groups
  • See a counselor
  • Seek emotional support from friends, family or support groups
  • Practice gratitude
  • Stretch or practice yoga
  • Go outside to get fresh air and sunshine
  • Have a spa day
  • Socialize with friends and family

Ways to be Organized in Eldercare

Suzanne Asaff Blankenship, author of the book, How To Take Care of Old People Without Losing Your Marbles  stresses the importance of being organized when caring for your adult parents. She offers the following tips:

  • Keep copies of the powers of attorney (financial and medical) and the advanced directive documents in a readily accessible place.
  • Create a list of all medical providers’ contact information.
  • Create a binder with medical history and visit summaries, medications, and copies of insurance cards
  • Share your contact information with your care recipients friends and doctors. Ask them to stay in touch with you should they sense your elder needs anything or is in danger.
  • Create a binder with your care recipients bank information, investment advisor, insurance agent, checkbook location, and passwords

Resource: Solutions For Senior Living

Franciscan Village
At Franciscan Village, residents enjoy personalized care and a variety of engaging activities that help them live joyfully. Our mission is to help you or your loved one celebrate more moments in life with peace of mind – thanks to our wide range of care options. At our senior living community, we offer independent living, assisted living, memory support, senior rehabilitation, respite care and home healthcare services.  Our community provides numerous options to expand your mind, improve your physical health, socialize with friends and experience a worry-free lifestyle with chef-prepared meals and bi-monthly housekeeping.

Franciscan Village strongly believes in enhancing the spiritual health and wellbeing of our residents, associates, and families through our mission and our faith. While Franciscan Village has roots in the Catholic faith, we welcome those of all beliefs and are dedicated to helping residents live with purpose at our community. For more information, call 630-243-3479 or go to www.franciscanvillage.org.  Franciscan Village is located at 1270 Village Drive, Lemont, IL 60439
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Villa St. Benedict
Being active creates a fulfilling life

At Villa St. Benedict we’ve been staying active and lively with fall events, fitness classes, group trips, and volunteer opportunities. Our residents are always up to something!

A daily routine of exercise, movement, and relaxation is part of the Living Fully, Living Well Lifestyle. Our PEC, Physical Enhancement Center, instructors are highly skilled, and our state-of-the-art fitness center allows residents to work on their routine of flexibility and cardio fitness. Paired with our outdoor mile long walking paths, residents get to enjoy 47 acres of park like grounds and fresh air.

“We can be busy… or not!”. A common phrase here for those that like to relax with others or enjoy alone time, we provide the option of activities for all. The abundance of clubs & groups really is what keeps our residents thriving here at Villa St. Benedict. Keeping our residents engaged daily in Mind, Body, and Spirit. Hospitality is also at the forefront at Villa St. Benedict. Residents and staff gather and celebrate all kinds of special occasions.

With a community like this, it’s easy to create a place that you can call home. We provide housing for Independent, Assisted and Memory Care residents. We are pet Friendly. Call 630-852-0345 to book a tour or visit villastben.org.
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Campbell Long, LLC
Guardianship – a Powerful Tool for Helping Disabled Adults
Guardianship is a powerful tool that allows someone to legally care for someone else who is unable to care for themselves. It requires being appointed by the court as a guardian. There are two types of guardianship: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate.

Guardianship of the Person – Being appointed guardian of the person allows the guardian to make healthcare decisions and living arrangements for the disabled adult.

Guardianship of the Estate – Being appointed as guardian of the estate allows the guardian to step in to handle the disabled adult’s financial affairs.

If you are thinking of obtaining guardianship, you should consult with an attorney who practices in that area. You’ll want to come prepared with the following:

  • Your loved one’s address, telephone number, and date of birth
  • Your loved one’s family’s names and addresses (spouse, adult children, siblings)
  • An estimate of your loved one’s assets (home, car, bank accounts, investments, etc.)
  • An estimate of your loved one’s income (pensions, social security, disability, etc.)

A recent doctor’s report that states your loved one requires a guardian because they cannot make personal or financial decisions on their own.

Joanna B. Long is an Illinois licensed attorney and founding partner of Campbell Long, LLC. You can learn more about her law firm at www.CLCounsel.com.

This article is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you or your family member are facing any of these issues, you should consult with an attorney.
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Foot and Ankle Wellness Center
Located in the Seven Bridges Complex of Woodridge, the Foot and Ankle Wellness Center established by Dr. Vekkos has been caring for foot and ankle problems since 1984. While he has a keen interest in reconstructive foot and ankle surgery, his practice has evolved into a general podiatric practice, caring for all ages.

Dr. Vekkos has been in practice long enough to understand the demands of the very young and needs of the elderly. His practice offers treatment options for many conditions affecting all age groups. Heel pain, painful and deformed nails, bunions and hammertoes, and flat feet are examples seen in the young and old. Dr. Vekkos offers a myriad of treatment options to address many conditions including geriatric care, custom orthotics, and advanced technologies including digital x-rays, laser therapy for pain and the recently developed Lapiplasty procedure for bunion correction.

Dr. Vekkos currently maintains staff privileges at Amita Bolingbrook Hospital. He also performs surgery at several local ambulatory surgical facilities throughout the area.

Foot & Ankle Wellness Center is located at 3540 Seven Bridges Dr., Suite 290. Woodridge, IL 60517. Phone 630-852-8522.  www.Drvekkos.com
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Lutheran Home
Talking With Your Parents About Assisted Living
Talking about future housing and care needs can be a challenge. But Hearthstone at Lutheran Home offers many health and social benefits—and learning about them can help inform a productive discussion. With the quick tips below, families can work together to plan for successful aging.

When Should You Talk About Assisted Living?
Be proactive. Talk with your parents about the benefits of life at Hearthstone early. Consider having the discussion in person and inviting family members into the conversation.

Be patient. They will likely have many questions, and you may want to enlist the advice of a physician or financial planner for assistance.

Do your homework
Know what your parents need help with. As you look around their current home, observe carefully and make notes when you leave. Your observations may help you understand which of Hearthstone’s many services will be necessary.

Explore Together
Once you have a list of communities, ask your parents which ones they’d like to visit and offer to arrange tours. Make it a team effort!

Making a Decision for Successful Aging
As you and your parents reach the decision-making point, show your continued respect for their wishes. Remind them that they’ll have the freedom to focus on hobbies or social activities rather than household chores.

Let them know how important their health and safety are to you, and that assisted living can ensure they will have access to the support they may need now and in the future. And above all, reassure them that they are the decision makers, and that you want to help them choose an assisted living community where they will be happy.

If you are interested in discussing assisted living or other care options for you or your loved one, please call Michelle Franzak at (224) 259-0060.
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Lemont Center
Recognized as a leader of rehabilitation and nursing services, Lemont Nursing & Rehabilitation Center offers highly individualized skilled care in a caring and comfortable environment. At Lemont, we are committed to providing the highest quality care to every person that comes through our door. Our experienced team of clinicians and therapists work together to help maximize independence to provide comfort and peace of mind.

Lemont’s highly specialized team of physicians include: Cardiologist, Infectious Disease, Internist, Orthopedist, Physiatrist, Pulmonologist, and Wound Care. They all work together with the resident’s personal physician to ensure continuity of care, while residing at Lemont Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. Call Lemont Center today at (630)243-0400 or visit our website at www.lemontcenter.com
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Zapolis & Associates, P.C.
Living Trusts avoid the pitfalls of wills and jointly held property:

  • Living trusts leave instructions that avoid the court system upon mental disability and upon death. With a living trust, your instructions control your estate. Without a living trust, your estate is controlled by guardianship court or probate court.
  • Living trust allow you to maximize your federal estate tax exemptions and pay the least possible federal estate tax.
  • Living trusts are easy to create and can be changed or modified at any time during your life.
  • With a living trust you do not have to pay any annual or maintenance fees.
  • A living trust allows you to leave detailed instructions for your beneficiaries to protect them.
  • With a living trust estate plan, you are always in control of your assets and property even if you are disabled and even upon your death.

For more information and legal advice call 708-478-5050 or visit www.zapolislaw.com
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A Place for Alice
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Say Goodbye to COLD and SNOW
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6 Steps to Keeping the Brain In Shape

As a professional care manager for more than 40 years, it is my passion to help people & their loved ones find peace and joy as they age.

Our older years can provide a beautiful opportunity for connection, meaning, and joy.  But staying healthy takes some work, and that work begins with the brain.  From my extensive interactions with older adults, I have found 6 steps to be the most effective in keeping the brain in shape during the Fragile Years.

The first step: express yourself and be in touch with your emotions.

While this has not yet been studied, I’ve noticed that people who do not confront their emotions develop memory loss and decreased alertness much more often than those who are emotionally aware.

Confronting and staying in touch with emotions can take a variety of forms, from sharing them aloud in conversations with family, friends, or support groups to meditating, journaling or creating music or art.  Each individual has their comfort zone.  The important thing is to pick one or two of these activities, and practice regularly.

The second step: stay socially engaged.

When you’re older, there is a higher risk of isolation and less social interaction than in your younger years. And isolation is a predictor of memory loss. With that fact, staying socially engaged keeps the brain working while also helping to give a sense of purpose.

To stay engaged socially, try making friends of different ages who do things you enjoy or volunteering at an organization whose cause you believe in such as animal shelters, Girls/Boys Clubs, your church or synagogue, music groups, science centers or museums.

Try something new as well, like art classes, singing, or even a part-time job. Many universities also offer lifelong learning programs for older adults, where they can take weekly classes on a huge variety of topics.

A client of mine is a recovering alcoholic who works at a 24-hour hotline. Another answers questions by phone about gardening for a local gardening center.

Two friends of mine in their 70’s help friends with their yards, as they are both avid gardeners. They call themselves the Garden Desperadoes.

There are endless ideas for social engagement – and age should never be a limitation.

The third step: maintain a healthy diet.

There is a high correlation between diabetes and dementia, as well as between obesity and dementia. Eating a more plant-based diet can help to prevent not only obesity and diabetes, but also dementia. Having a healthy diet all of the time is never easy, so do what you can to ensure you’ll make healthier eating decisions. Explore farmer’s markets. Try healthier food substitutes. For example, cauliflower rice instead of regular rice, honey instead of sugar, yogurt instead of ice cream, or bean burgers instead of beef burgers. If it’ll help you eat healthier and transportation is a challenge, buy your groceries from health-based food delivery services.

The fourth step: taking care of hearing loss.

Hearing loss is also correlated to early memory loss. Addressing hearing loss by seeking hearing aids where needed helps to prevent this. Often, though, hearing loss can be hard to identify so it’s important to pay attention to the signs. One indicator that a hearing aid might be needed: when you start to ask, “What did you say?” or “What?!” a lot, suggesting that your hearing is in decline. Also, when more than one family member or friend tells you they ARE speaking loudly, believe them.

The fifth step: avoiding anesthesia whenever possible in your Fragile Years.

Anesthesia is known to cause memory loss. The National Institute of Health is currently conducting in-depth research about this correlation.

When considering surgery for yourself or an older loved one, weigh the pros and cons carefully. Think about your values. If you value your cognitive health, it might be better to avoid surgery. If you already have memory loss and receive anesthesia, your memory will very likely get worse. In fact, the benefits of surgery decrease considerably after 80; it might be wise to favor memory and cognitive health over the uncertain outcome of surgery.

The sixth step: multitask both physically and mentally.

There are countless activities that can easily stimulate the mind and body at the same time. By doing these types of activities multiple times on a daily basis, your memory will thank you later. Activities such as walking, talking with family and friends, watering the plants or dusting while singing or listening.

By Amy Cameron O’Rourke, author of The Fragile Years


When an Ailing Grandparent Moves In

A growing number of families with young children are caring for an aging relative.  Whether it’s temporary care following surgery, or longer-term care due to a debilitating condition, more and more families find the best option for caring for aging parents is to invite them into their home. How can families ease the transition and help young children adapt to the changes in their household?

Your kids probably fall into one of two categories. Children who have developed a relationship with their grandparent and may be upset by the changes they see in the person they love, and those who, due to today’s mobile society, may consider their grandparents near-strangers.

Either way, don’t push the bonding. Avoid pressuring grandpa to join you on your walk or to play video games; ask but don’t cajole. Likewise, don’t force your child to interact with a grandparent. Require respectful and polite behavior, but they don’t have to sit through reruns of Lawrence Welk with them.

“Families need to let go of preconceived ideas of what the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren will be,” says Shelly Edwards, Outreach and Program Director for the Alzheimer’s Association of Oregon. She describes how roles can change, such as entrusting a teenager with “babysitting” grandma, rather than grandma babysitting the grandkids.

Discuss the grandparent’s condition in terms your child can understand. Will aspects of the grandparent’s condition upset your children? How can you explain in advance what to expect? Keep talking and responding to children’s questions as they arise.

Educate yourself and continually reassess and adjust as needed. Edwards recommends that families learn all they can about a loved one’s condition and care needs to determine whether they can provide adequate care without harming themselves physically or emotionally.

Work together to establish rules for use of communal space and needs for privacy. Depending on the grandparent’s level of mobility, now might be the time to teach kids about knocking before entering.

Come up with a system for addressing conflicts or misunderstandings. Keep a notebook in which older children can write concerns, perhaps anonymously, to be reviewed later and to allow parents time to find solutions or answers to questions.

Create a family check-in time when kids can talk freely. This may mean out of ear-shot of the grandparent. Ask kids what is bothering them and be prepared to listen without judgment. Pose questions: Is anything bugging you? Are you worried about anything? What is working especially well? What do you think we could do differently? Life isn’t fair, but is there anything going on that strikes you as particularly unfair right now, for yourself or for someone else?

Kids need to learn to be flexible and accommodating, but if grandma’s presence brings all regular pursuits to a halt, kids will become resentful. If it becomes necessary to reduce the number of activities your kids are involved in, avoid using the grandparent as the primary excuse.

Compassion grows in children who feel loved, secure and nurtured by others. As caregiver to your own parent, you’re setting an admirable example for your children, but don’t forget to take time to laugh and have fun with them. Take care of yourself and be sure your kids know they are safe and loved during this transition, however long it lasts.

By Heather Lee Leap


Holiday Gifts and Gestures for Seniors

Need a last-minute gift for a senior in your life and struggling financially due to the pandemic? Not to worry,,SeniorCare.com released a report of a new survey of 10,000 seniors finds their No. 1 wish is not a material gift!

As bad as the past year and a half has been for everyone, it is exponentially worse for our beloved seniors. This year it’s still uncertain if seniors will be able to spend the holidays with their families because of COVID-19 and tjhe Delta variant.

Top Holiday Gifts and Gestures for Seniors

  • Homecooked Meal: 90% of seniors like this idea
  • Invite to Restaurant for Dinner: 81%
  • Help with Technology (tablet, phone, kindle): 80% of seniors like this idea
  • Phone Calls: 80%
  • Help Around Home: 78%
  • Declutter Garage or Basement: 78%
  • Handwritten Cards: 78%
  • Go Grocery Shopping: 77%
  • Revive Family Traditions: 75% of
  • Go for a Walk: 74%

Honorable Mentions: Clean the Car (66%), Watch a Movie (61%), Review Finances (58%).

Top 10 Holiday Gift Ideas Most Liked By Seniors:

  • House Cleaning Service: 88% of seniors like this gift idea
  • Chocolate: 87%
  • Fruit Basket: 83%
  • Cash: 79%
  • Everyday Items (stamps, shampoo, etc.): 79%
  • Meal Delivery Service (Uber Eats, GrubHub): 78%
  • Snacks: 78%
  • Cheese and Crackers: 77%
  • Gift Cards: 76%
  • Automotive Service: 76%

Honorable Mentions: Flowers (72%), Streaming Subscription (60%), Spa Day (56%).

For Seniors Who Lost a Spouse: Consider gifts and gestures that were previously fulfilled by the spouse. Men favored food baskets, grocery shopping, and home cooked meals. Women favored landscaping, automotive, and home maintenance help; as well as spa/salon visits, and flowers.

Gestures vs. Gifts: The top gestures are just as popular as the top gifts. If anything, gestures are slightly preferred if you consider that the top gifts include house cleaning, meal delivery, automotive, and yard services – all things that you could give as a gift by paying for the service or as a gesture by doing them yourself.

Given these challenging times, hopefully these recommendations can help brighten the moods of the older loved ones in your life. Here is to a great holiday season and many more.

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