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Seeing the signs: What to say when it’s time to take away the car keys

It’s an experience that Americans dread. As recent surveys by Caring.com and the National Safety Council indicate, most people would rather discuss funeral arrangements with their loved ones than taking away their driving privileges. But while this conversation is difficult, it is necessary for the safety of both your loved one and other drivers. I had the opportunity to interview Andy Cohen, CEO of Caring.com, to learn how to best have this conversation.

Build a case.

“A new survey on Caring.com reported that roughly 14 million Americans have been in a road incident caused by an elderly person,” Cohen stated. “It’s a difficult but necessary conversation that we need to have.”

Prepare for this conversation by keeping detailed records of traffic violations, minor accidents, and anything that causes you to worry. Watch for an increase in traffic tickets, getting lost on familiar routes in familiar areas, and getting into more fender benders.

You should also calculate the monetary savings that will benefit your loved one when he or she gives up driving, such the cost of gasoline, maintenance, car insurance, repairs and registration fees. Your approach should be caring, but it also needs to be thorough and specific.

Get support from other sources.

While it’s important to have the conversation directly with your loved one, it can be helpful to ask for support from other sources. Driving assessments can be used to confirm to your loved one that he or she should not be driving. Your religious adviser can help you handle this conversation in a compassionate, loving manner. In some cases, your loved one may listen to recommendations more easily when they come from an outside authority whom your loved one trusts rather than from a family member. As a last resort, you may ask your loved one’s physician to write a prescription stating, “No driving.”

Research and arrange alternative transportation.

Your loved one will undoubtedly find it difficult to give up independence, so the more you can do in advance to have alternative means of transportation available, the easier the transition will be.

A good transportation system will not only take a passenger from point A to point B but will also put your loved one in control of routes and final destinations. Also, the transportation system should maintain a senior’s sense of dignity and security.

“No one wants to be the one to take away Mom or Dad’s keys, but sometimes it can be crucial for their safety,” said Cohen. “Plus, many seniors would actually prefer to hear it from a family member than from a police officer on the road.”

Taking away the car keys is not a conversation anyone wants to have, but remembering to express your concerns firmly and honestly, inviting support from other sources that will provide additional love and support, and arranging alternative forms of transportation to best fit your loved one’s needs is a healthy approach to this transition.

This article was originally published on OCRegister.com. It has been republished here with permission.

5 Fun activities to share with your loved one in a nursing home

It’s Sunday afternoon and you’re getting ready to visit your grandma at her nursing facility, but you are at a loss of how the two of you can spend fun, quality time together. What are some things you can do that both of you will enjoy? This time is precious and it’s important to make the most of it. Below is a list of different creative activities you and your loved one can do while they are in a nursing facility.

Crafts

Whether or not you’re a creative person, simple crafts can be a fun way to add some color to your time together. Crafts you and your loved one can do range from making holiday decorations to scrapbooking and even painting.

Mark Walker, director of therapy at Orem Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing, says their staff enjoys providing seasonal and holiday-oriented craft projects for their residents.

“We just finished doing a Valentine’s project where we cut out hearts and placed them all over the facility.” Not only are these activities fun, but they can also help your loved one’s cognitive and motor skills.

Hand massages

Some nursing facilities, such as Provo Rehabilitation & Nursing, offer hand massages as one of their regular activities. You can give your own loved one a hand massage or manicure as a way to rejuvenate and relax them. Regular touch also communications multiple positive emotions that can create a deeper connection. Try using essential oils or hand lotion in their favorite scent.

Make connections (phone call, storytelling)

Use your time together to share and collect memories and stories. Chances are your loved one has some great stories from growing up that you haven’t heard yet. Once they are gone, those stories may be lost forever. Take the time to ask them about their life and favorite memories. Consider journaling or recording these conversations so you can keep them for years to come.

Entertainment

Another way to bond with your loved one is to find a mutual love of some sort of entertainment and enjoy it together. Whether it’s reading a book, playing a board game, listening to music, or watching a favorite movie, entertainment is the perfect way to spend an afternoon with each other. Many facilities, such as Orem Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing, provide different types of media that you can enjoy together. Consider inviting your loved one’s friends at the nursing facility to enjoy with you.

“Usually our biggest focus is on hobbies that our residents do at home,” said Walker. “We often start up a bowling session, which is great for balance and upper body strength, and the Wii gaming system is an excellent tool. We like the Wii Fit Program because it encourages standing balance and weight shifting activities.”

Outings

While you may have to take a few precautions, going out or exercising can be a fun way to spend time with your loved one. You can garden, go out to lunch, see a play, walk to the park, or even stretch outside. The fresh air and quality time is sure to make for a wonderful day together.

If you’re not sure what to do with your loved one who’s staying in a nursing facility, try one of these activities. Remember, the important thing is that you make the most of your time together.

This article was originally published on The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.

Seniors and dental care: it’s something worth smiling about

Typically, we make sure our family has regular checkups but is your older loved one following the same schedule? Experts are guessing the answer is probably not.

According to the Center for Disease Control, a little over half (60 percent) of today’s senior adults visited a dentist in 2013 despite the fact that one in four of seniors aged 65 and older have gum disease. This segment of the population is in need of proper dental care since many of today’s serious diseases can be linked to tooth decay or gum disease.

“It is thought that poor dental hygiene allows a proinflammatory state that is associated with CAD,” wrote Youngsoo Cho, MD., “I must emphasize that this is not a proven cause, but studies have shown an association with tooth decay and Coronary Artery Disease.”

Other studies have found correlations between poor oral hygiene and diabetes and pneumonia.

Yes, Aunt Cora needs to visit the dentist, but there are a number of challenges seniors face when it comes to dental care. Three of those reasons include financial, transportation and lack of prevention.

Put your money where your mouth is

“Unfortunately, only about 2 percent of older Americans have dental insurance,” wrote contributor Chris Hawkins for SeniorLiving.com. “This means that many end up going without. And the older the person, the more likely they are to need dental care for a variety of reasons.”

At present, neither Obamacare nor Medicare provides dental coverage. However, there are programs at a state level that can offset the cost of dental care.

Running your mouth off

Oftentimes, it is the responsibility of a loved one to transport a senior to various medical appointments. If that kind of support doesn’t exist, the condition of his or her mouth will decline.

The good news is that many senior facilities are proactively taking the matter of dental care into their hands.

“It’s really hard to find good dental benefits for seniors. Medicaid does cover some but it’s limited in most states. However in a long-term care facility like Provo Rehab and Nursing, there is an internal dentist that makes sure residents have routine cleanings and checkups,” said Loralee Hatch, business director at Provo Rehab and Nursing.

Here’s something to chew on

As with most health conditions, prevention is the best defense against serious disease, and dental care is no exception. It is common for many of your loved ones’ medications to create dry mouth, which encourages tooth decay and disease. Also, treatments requiring chemotherapy or radiation to the head or neck can damage or destroy oral tissue.

Seniors can counteract the potential damage of medications or treatments by drinking lots of fluids, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and adopting a routine of regular brushing and flossing. In some cases, it is difficult for your loved one to brush their own teeth. In situations of dementia or other medical limitations, seniors may not cooperate. The best strategy is to talk with your loved one’s doctor and discuss your dental concerns with the skilled nursing or assisted living facility. You will find that everyone involved wants the best for your senior and will work together to be sure your senior’s dental needs are addressed.

“Keeping your mouth healthy keeps your overall system in shape, especially in your senior years,” said Hatch, and that’s worth smiling about.

This article was originally published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.