About Nan McAdam

Nan McAdam has been a member since February 25th 2011, and has created 18 posts from scratch.

Nan McAdam's Bio

My name is Nan McAdam. I live in the Midwest in the United States. I have had many different life experiences. My life experiences have been very diverse. One thing which has always stayed consistent is that I have been blessed to be married to the same wonderful guy for over 30 years. We have 3 adult children. I have a lot in common with many of you. We have raised children or are presently raising children. Many of us have moved into the period of our lives where we are caring for our elderly aging loved ones. I have been taking care of 5 of my own elderly senior citizens for the past 15 years. I believe it is important for all of us who are in this stage of our lives and taking care of our loved ones, to have practical hands on advice. I have this kind of experience and would love to share it with you!

Nan McAdam's Websites

This Author's Website is http://www.caring4youragingseniorcitizen.com

Nan McAdam's Recent Articles

Elder Care: 20 IMPORTANT Things to Locate and Keep

Many years ago, I started down the path of elder care.  My parents were in need of someone to help them.  I’m that person.  I wish I knew then what I know now, especially about organizing their important information.  It would have made my elder care road easier.

My parents aren’t organized people.  This led to many frustrations for me.  I would find bills and legal documents in the most unusual places, such as their life policy in a stack of newspapers, their power bill under their place mat at the table, etc.  When they started having services cut off, I decided I needed to step in.

First of all, we bought them a safe to keep their important documents in.  I organized it with file folders labeled for their easy understanding.  I went through stacks and stacks of papers and pitched what wasn’t necessary and filed the important documents.

I came up with a list of 20 important items I, absolutely, needed to know where they were.  Here’s a list of 20 items to know the information or have safely locked away where it’s accessible to the P.O.A (power of attorney) or potential P.O.A.

1.  Know where their wills are located.
2.  Where their Social Security cards are (the actual cards). Make sure these aren’t being carried in their wallets like my parents carried theirs.  Keeping them in their wallet is a possible identity theft situation.
3.  Know what their health insurances covers, where the cards are and the important numbers. My parents carried their cards in their wallets, so I made copies for the safe, front and back, in case the cards were misplaced.
4.  All bills should be in both of their names, if possible, in case of death.  Credit cards could be something different as having their name on the account may signify the debt being passed to the other person upon death.  In this case, #16 might be a better option.
5.  Have signed P.O.A.s, wills, health directives completed and know where they are kept, even if they haven’t been enacted.
6.  Know their social security numbers (or where to find out this information) and birth dates including year of their birth.
7.  Know where they were born.  For instance, my father was born at home, but I know which county registered the birth.
8.  Know where their birth certificates are located.
9.  If they are veterans of military service, know where the discharge papers are located. This is very important if you are dealing with the Veterans Administration.
10.  Know where they keep (should be in a secure location, not on them) codes and pin #s for all accounts.
11.  Copy of their Union cards.
12.  Know the benefits from their Union or Associations (such as burial plots, pensions, life policies, etc.)
13.  Be familiar with their life insurance policies; where the actual policy is, death benefit amounts, companies, companies’ address and phone numbers, and that the beneficiaries are up to date. Have they changed the death benefit amount?  If their beneficiary to their life insurance policy has preceded them in death it can lead to a probate situation and hold up the paying out of the death benefit.  This can be a sticky situation if those funds are needed to pay for their burial.
14.  Know where the titles for their vehicles, boats, toys, deed to home, deed to vacation properties, and the abstract to their home(s).
15.  Location of long term care policies.
16.  Have them put you down as person to talk to for credit card bill, life policies, other bills, etc.  If this isn’t done, you will have to file P.O.A.s with the companies, before you will get any help.  Most of the time, it is as easy as calling the company in the presence of your elder, who’s name is on the account, and having them talk with the customer service representative to let them know it is fine to talk with you, the elder care person.
17.  Know where they keep their bills before and after they are paid.  What system do they use for paying their bills?
18.  Know who the family treasures go to.  Is it written down?  Hearsay doesn’t always work.  It can lead to hard feelings later.  It helps to have it written down so everyone can see where these items go after the elder is gone.  Dealing with grief is hard enough, writing it down, in advance, cuts down on the unpleasant feelings later.
19.  Know where their lock boxes are kept.  If the lock box is at another locations, such as a bank, they may be locked down upon the death of the owner of the lock box.
20.  Keep a key or the numbers to the combination to their safe or important papers box.  My parents have dementia and it was very common for them to lose the key.  My back up key came in very handy.

Everyone’s situation is different.  The P.O.A. or potential P.O.A. needs to know this information.  Elders with dementia can be very unorganized and this can lead to a nightmare situation upon their death.  As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure”.

For more helpful information like this click here

Leave me a comment and let me know if this helps you.


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5 Tips for Keeping Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s and Dementia from Wandering

Every year, in the news, we hear stories of an elderly person wandering away from home and dying from being lost outside.  It doesn’t take long for an old person to succumb to adverse weather.  There are other dangers out there such as water hazards, busy streets, industrial sites, etc.  For those of us who are caregivers to an elderly loved one who is dealing with Alzheimer’s or any form of dementia, this is a nightmare scenario.

How can we protect our loved one with dementia from having this happen to them?  First of all, we must recognize the ugly truth.  This is a potential risk.

My dad has always been a walker.  When he retired from his newspaper job, the hobby he adopted was taking walks.  His retirement goal was to walk 10,000 miles before he died.  He got a pedometer and proceed to go after his goal with gusto!  He would sometimes walk up to 6 miles a day.  In fact, he walk across Iowa on the bike paths, which we are fortunate to have.  He would park his car, walk 3 miles out and 3 miles back.  Being an old Iowa farm boy, he enjoyed walking in all kinds of weather.  He reached his goal by the time he was 72 years old.  Needless to say, he had a passion for his daily walks.

When he developed dementia, his passion for walking didn’t stop.  How could we keep him safe?  If you have a loved one with dementia, here’s a few ideas for reducing the risks.

1. Develop a a profile for them should they wander away.  In case of inclement weather when they wander, time will be working against us.  Being able to hand searchers a profile, immediately, can help them find them quicker.  This profile should include: their name, recent photo, date of birth, physical description, height, weight, other identifying characteristics such as moles, scares, tattoos, etc.  Knowing what clothes they were wearing when they left is very helpful.

2.  Keep a Alzheimer bracelet on them.  One with a G.P.S is very helpful.  The bracelet should have their name, address and your phone number.   The Alzheimer’s website has one they offer called Medic Alert and Safe Return.   In the case of my dad, he carried a cell phone.  Not because he could remember how to use it, but it was easy for him to fit it in his pocket and it came in handy for whoever found him.  The bonus of his phone was, it had G.P.S.  Once, on one of his “walks” he fell and hit his head.  A passerby stopped to help him and used Dad’s phone to call us to let us know where he was so we could pick him up.  Our number was listed as “emergency”.

3.  Inform the neighbors about your loved ones condition.  Keep a list of their names, addresses, and phone numbers.  Be sure they know your phone number and where you live.  I used to take walks with my dad.  Many of the neighbors knew my dad because of his friendly nature.  I would introduce myself to them, realizing they could be our first line of defense against losing him if he should ever wander away.  Many times, a neighbor will bring them home before they can get lost.

4.  Securing your home with deadbolts, slide bolts, or child safety knobs on all the exterior doors can help keep them inside.  These should be out of the line of sight if possible.  A electronic system such as an alarm system that reports “a door ajar” is helpful.  If there is a “dangerous for them” area in your home, keep it locked off from them, also.  This probably sound like a no brain-er, but never, ever lock a person with dementia in a home without supervision.

5.  Remember, people with dementia won’t just walk away from home, they could drive away.  Keep keys locked up away from them.  For our dementia patients who have enjoyed biking, this is another form of transportation which can take them away from their safe environment.

Alzheimer’s and dementia can progress very quickly.  Your loved one can seem very lucid one moment and an hour later they are in an alternate reality.  They can spend days in their alternate reality, not coherent, and then snap back for a time and be their old self.  This is why constant supervision is a must.

I know, first hand, how much of a relief it is to see my loved one sitting in the back of a police car as it pulls into the driveway!  Believe me, it only takes a minute of not watching them for them to wander away.  Preparation in advance can make all the difference in the world to their safety and your peace of mind.

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5 Tips to Make Your Elder’s Hospital Visit Less Traumatic

The last few days, I have been writing articles on hospital visits for the elderly.  What items to have available for an emergency room visit and what a care giver can do to be prepared for a hospital stay.  Today, I would like to tell you about how you can continue to help your loved one when they are in the hospital.

Aging senior citizens react completely different than other groups of adults to changing medications, new and unknown surroundings, and stressful events.  If your loved one is cognitively impaired or extremely ill, they can become very confused.  I have always tried to stay with my beloved old person for at least 24 hours when they first get to the hospital.  The hospital personnel understand how frightening and confusing it can be for an elderly person to be put in an unfamiliar place such as a hospital.  My staying with my elder has always been met with appreciation.

Hospital workers are very appreciative of having the main caregiver present because the main caregiver is the “go to person”.  We know our elderly loved one better than anyone.  A word of caution, I found out the hard way that turning over the first 24 hour period to someone who isn’t the main caregiver can be distressing for the elder, the stand in caregiver, and the hospital staff.  Why do I say such a strange thing?

My Mother-in-law was admitted to the hospital for a double mastectomy.  My sister-in-law who doesn’t usually participate in doctor visits with her insisted on staying with her in the hospital instead of me.  I am the “go to person” for my mother-in-law who I will refer to as Mom2.  I’m a laid back person and I don’t like to disagree with people.  I’m not Mom2’s daughter and I thought it would be fine for her to stay with her Mom.

The surgery went well.  The problems began afterwards.  My sister-in-law wasn’t familiar with Mom2’s medications.  She wasn’t prepared at all for after surgery delirium.  I have been with my parents through numerous hospital stays and I understood that delirium can happen even with those who aren’t cognitively challenged.

By the time I returned the next morning, my sister-in-law was in tears.  She hadn’t slept at all and she was worried sick about the delirium.  Mom2 was disoriented and combative.  She was saying things to her daughter that hurt her sensitive feelings.  The lack of sleep was making her even more sensitive to the remarks.  Knowing this wasn’t usual behavior for Mom2, we sat down and started to unravel the puzzle of the delirium.  The questions I asked were; What new medications were they giving her?  What pain medications was she on?  How much fluid were they dropping into her IV?

I, immediately, went to her nurse to get some questions answered.  In Mom2’s case, the delirium was being caused by the pain medication.  Talking with the doctor, we were able to substitute a different medication, and the delirium cleared up in a matter of a little over 24 hours.  Mom2 doesn’t remember any of this time in the hospital.
As an experienced caregiver, I put together five points which can help make your elder’s visit to the hospital a little less traumatic for them and you.

1.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  ANY TIME a medication is given ask what it is and WRITE IT DOWN!!  Remember the note pad and pen from the list of things to have on hand at the hospital….this is another reason why.  Even though you were very clear on allergies when your loved one was admitted to the hospital doesn’t mean accidents don’t happen.  Sometimes the doctor messes up and orders the wrong thing and the nurses don’t catch it.  You, the “go to person”, might be the one who catches it, only if you ask questions.  Even if you annoy the hospital staff, wouldn’t you rather annoy them then run the risk of having something preventable and bad happen to your elder?  Don’t think that could happen to you?  These statistics are mind boggling!

2.  ALWAYS read the bag on the IV bag.  Mom2 is very allergic to penicillin.  I want to make sure she isn’t receiving penicillin in her IV drip as that would be life threatening to her.  Make sure your elder’s name is written on the bag.  Wouldn’t it be a disaster if your loved one got John Q Public’s bag of Chemotherapy and your loved one was in the hospital for something completely different than cancer?  Yikes!  But, things like that do happen.

3.  When test are being done, ask questions!!!  What is the test for?  What are the side effects?  If surgery is going to be preformed, why is it being done?  When they take them away for a needed surgery, is the area marked on their body?  Are the records correct on their chart?  A surgery to remove a right big toe wouldn’t be a success if they removed a leg instead, especially if it’s the left leg!

4.  Pay very close attention to what the doctor and the nurses are telling you.  Again, WRITE IT DOWN!  I have a very good memory, but hospitals can be stressful places.  I don’t want to forget anything that has been told to me.  I don’t want my memory to have to sort out what’s important and what’s not.  I write it all down.  Be sure you understand before the doctor leaves the room what was said to you.  If you’re having difficulty understanding a doctor’s accent, ask someone to stay in the room with you and help you translate it.  Nurses are very good at this because they deal with the doctor every day.    If you don’t understand a term they are using, ask what it means. Don’t be afraid to ask them to explain more or repeat it.  It doesn’t matter what they think about you, it’s your loved one that is important.  It can all done civilly.  It’s important to be polite.

5.  It’s important to be patient and don’t lose your cool.  The wheels in a hospital move slowly.  Especially in a hospital’s ER.  Your elder may be sitting there longer waiting for help than someone who comes in from a bad car accident or is near death.  But, don’t confuse patience with accepting things that aren’t right.  If you believe you are getting bad service ask for a supervisor.  The squeaky wheel does get the grease.

I believe it is important for the main caregiver to stay with the elder for at least 24 hours, especially if a cognitive issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s is involved. It is, also, important for the caregiver to take care of themselves.  It’s easy to get worn out staying in a hospital for days on end.  Go home after the first 24 hours and rest.  If it’s important for someone to be with your senior at the hospital, let someone else be there.  After all, that’s another reason you have written everything down and have all your important documents in place.

When I first started taking an active role in my parents care it was the early 1990’s.  The Internet wasn’t as evolved as it is now.  I didn’t even have a personal computer at home.  I would have loved to have someone to point the way for me with helpful information. Thankfully, the Internet exists!  Now, we can get helpful hints from all over the globe.  Let’s help each other.  If you have more helpful hints about this subject, leave a comment.  We’ll all benefit from it.

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14 Stress Relieving Tips for a Care Giver to Survive an Elder Loved One’s Hospital Stay

Hospital visits can be very stressful for care givers.  When our loved one must spend time in the hospital, they are in need of all of our attention and there are many questions to be answered.  How can we keep our stress levels down?  I’ve found being prepared ahead of time helps me stay focused on them and their needs, not overwhelmed with the extra stress of being uncomfortable because every thing I need is at home.

My parents are both dealing with different forms of dementia.  Emergency visits were common place for them before they moved to the Veterans Home.  Keeping information ready for emergency room visits was a must.  The list can be found here.

Before they moved to the Veterans Home, they had many trips to the hospital for extended stays.  Because of the dementia they became confused and slipped into delirium easily.  It is important for someone who is close to them to stay for at least a night or two for them to orientate to their hospital stay.  Doctors always seem to make their rounds very early in the morning.  I felt like I always missed the doctor’s rounds if I wasn’t there all night.  With so many trips to the hospital for both of them, I needed to be like a fireman who is always ready to jump into action mode.  I found a back pack to be very handy.  Packed with things I would need to spend a few nights at the hospital with them.  Here’s a few suggestions for this handy item.

1.  Extra undies, socks, toothbrush with tooth paste, mouthwash, hair brush, nail file, and face cleaner and lotion.

2.  Lip balm.  Hospitals are kept with very low humidity to hinder the growth of germs and bacteria.  The low humidity dries lips and skin out quickly.  Not only did I use my lip balm often, but it was a comfort for my loved one to have lip balm put on their dry lips.

3.  Feminine items.  Sometimes, stress can upset even the most regular ladies.  It’s best to be prepared.

4.  Portable Kleenex.  Hospitals are usually very good about leaving Kleenex in family conference rooms and waiting rooms, but a small portable Kleenex carrier can be tucked in a pocket and pulled out for those impromptu emotional moments.

5.  Small notebook or steno pad and a pen.  This is important for documenting the information you get from the doctors.  It’s handy to write questions you want to ask next time you see the doctor, etc.  Notes about what you are observing about your loved one to relay to the nurses and doctors.

6.  Your medications, prescription and over the counter drugs.  I found the dryness in the hospital gave me sinus headaches and headache medication is a must.  Added stress can turn a stomach into a raging acid producing machine.  Antacids helped me with this.

7.  Distractions from the boredom of a hospital stay.  Books, magazines, crossword puzzles, needlepoint, hand held games, or anything you enjoy to keep you and your loved one entertained.

8.  Most of us always have our cell phone handy, but the charger seems to get left at home.  Chargers seem to be universal and cheap anymore.  It may be worth the extra money to buy one to keep in the bag.

9.  Hospitals are no smoking zones.  Where I live, there’s a no smoking policy on the entire campus.  I’m not a smoker, but my husband is.  Finding a place to partake is next to impossible without getting in the car and going out of the hospital campus.  Nicolette gum or the patch is an easier fix.

10.  Comfortable shoes.  I can’t put enough emphasis on this.  Stress is bad enough, but suffering stress in a bad pair of shoes is horrible.  There can be a lot of walking, I suggest a comfy pair of tennis shoes.  In the evening, slippers can be a life saver for the tired feet.

11.  Dollar bills and quarters are wonderful for use in the vending machines.  Is always easier to have your own stash of dollars and not have to worry about getting larger bills broken in the middle of the night.

12.  A warm comfortable sweat suit or sweat pants and sweat shirt.  Hospitals are kept cooler because it inhibits the growth of germs and bacteria.  Even in the summer months it can get chilly.

13.  Simple snacks such as granola bars, apples, bananas.  Anything easily transportable that can help keep your blood sugar up when the cafeteria is closed.  Obviously, fruit will spoil if it’s kept in a bag pack for days, but granola bars last for weeks.  I always keep a bowl of fruit handy and it’s easy to slip a few in the bag on the way out the door.  I try to stay away from high sugar snacks as they spike my blood sugar and I can get into a cycle of up and down blood sugar which adds to emotional stress.

14.  I’m a freak about my pillow.  I’ve had neck issues in the past and my pillow is a must.  I always travel with my pillow when ever I know I’ll be staying over night.  I put it in a flowered pillow case that won’t get mistaken for one from the hospital.  It doesn’t fit in the back pack, but I grab it on my way out.

Hospitals are very stressful for care givers.  Having things in one spot or at least a list of things to take is very helpful. It’s easy to be stressed and feel overwhelmed.  When this happens our brains struggle to juggle everything.  That increases the stress.

When my father had a stroke, I was so stressed out I didn’t feel like I should be behind the wheel of a car.  Thankfully, I had my husband to take me.  If you are with your loved one when an emergency arises if you can’t hitch a ride with the ambulance, and there isn’t anyone to drive you, call a cab!  It’s cheaper to take a cab then having an auto accident.

There isn’t any way to completely alleviate the stress of being with your loved one in the hospital.  We’re concerned for them.  Obviously, they are quite ill for them to be there.  Hospitals can be a life or death situation.  It’s natural to feel stressed out when they are there.  Being prepared ahead of time won’t cure the stress, but it won’t add more to it.  It might even give a feeling of having something in control in an out of our control situation.

Do you having any more tips on what to have in our readiness pack?  Please feel free to leave a comment for all of us to learn from.

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Care Givers for Elders – What Do I Need to Have for An Emergency Room Visit?

I have been a care giver for several aging seniors over the years.  One of the things I had to “grow into” was the knowledge about what to do when emergency visits happen.  As my elders aged, hospital visits seem to increase.  The first few times, my husband and I only had the presence of mind to fly into action and make sure our elder got to the hospital in time.  As we became more seasoned in our roles, we learned a few things about advanced preparation.

I found out when I was more prepared for the unexpected hospital emergency room visit, the stress wasn’t quite as bad as when I was flying by the seat of my pants.  Here are a few things I found to be very necessary, kept altogether, in a special spot so it won’t be forgotten for these visits.  All these things should be prepared ahead of time.

1.  A file folder with copies of:
a. the DPOA (durable power of attorney),
b. copies of their living will if they have one.
c. copies of the front and back of all their insurance cards (including supplemental insurance), medicare card, veterans identification card (if they have one), copy of their drivers license or picture ID of some kind.

2.  Keep up to date and in their file folder all medications (including medications for skin such as cortisone, etc.), prescription and over the counter medications (including vitamin and supplements), that your elder is taking, with the dosages and frequency they take them.  Be sure to know when they took the last dose of each medication and when they are due to take the next.

3.  Also, in their folder, keep a list of all their hospitalizations and surgeries they have gone through.  It is important to keep track of the dates and what each hospitalization was for.  A brief medical history is important also.  Questions like age of parents when they passed, what they passed from, and the same for their siblings.

4.  If they are on oxygen, note this and how many liters per hour they are on and how long they have been using it.  If the are taking an ambulance ride, let the paramedic or ems know this information and leave your elder’s equipment at home.  The paramedics will use their own oxygen equipment for the transport and the hospital will use theirs once your loved one has arrived.  This is, also, true for wheel chairs, walkers, etc.  This equipment is expensive and can get lost or misplaced in a hospital setting.

5.  A list of their special dietary needs, allergies, and sensitivities.

6.  Are you keeping a journal about your elder’s health?  It’s a good idea to take your journal with you when you go.

7.  A list of important phone numbers; doctors, loved ones, relatives, neighbors, home health care providers, pharmacy they use, pet sitter, etc.  The phone number of those who need to be notified about the trip to the ER or notified if there will be a hospital stay.  I keep the numbers in my phone, but if you aren’t a cell phone user, make sure there is an up to date list in your folder with all the other information.

I found my stress level decreased substantially when I had this information readily available.  It helps the hospital professionals do their job which equates to our senior getting better care.

Do you have an emergency room visit story you’d like to share?  Is there anything else you’ve found which should go with us on our ER trip? Would you like more information like this? Click here!

Feel free to leave your comments and share with us.

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