What is Independence?

Independence is like pornography – hard to define but you know it when you see it. Or do you?


Probably my best lesson in “independence” came from watching Rudolph the ReRUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEERd Nose Reindeer. (Stay with me here)…Remember the scene where Hermie meets up with Rudolph? They start singing about “in-de-pen-dence” and how great it feels? Rudolph agrees that independence is the greatest thing and these two mis-fits go off, being independent TOGETHER. Yeah, remember? They stick together.
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ABC’s of ADL’s

“She needs more help!”  “He is going downhill.”

It is not enough to describe someone in those phrases that you might use among family or friends.  If you find yourself talking to senior care professionals, they will want to know more specifically what is meant by that.

One measure of independence is called ADL’s or Activities of Daily Living. It is a way to look at the things we do in the course of a day and measure where a person may need help.

Another way of thinking about this measure is; if you were to hire someone to assist your loved one, what would they be expected to do?

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You are loved and you are safe.

Caring for someone with dementia is hard in part because of the symptoms of emotional stress; Anxiety, fear, anger.  Rationalizing with the elder doesn’t work because the focus of the emotions are usually unfounded. Are they afraid they are late for an appointment they don’t really have. ….How do you alleviate these emotional side-effects? Play along? Pills? Distractions? Restraints? Sensory-deprivation-rooms? Continue reading

“Where is the very best Assisted Living for my Parent?”

It can be very overwhelming with so many choices and so much at stake. What these families are trying to ask is, How do I measure what is “best”? Is it based on looks? Smells? An activity calendar? History of incidents? Management company?

I don’t put much stock into any of those measures. Every building is trying to look nice. Staff ratios are determined by formulas. The people that work in care settings are often the most loving people but they certainly are not paid much.

I steer the conversation to geography. Continue reading

Thank you Emily, where ever you are

I was 19. My job was to live with Emily for 10 straight days. No breaks, no time off. She was 60 years my elder. It would be the education of a life time. 
She opened her door and let me into her life. She had to, really, she knew she wasn’t safe alone.

Recovering from a fall that left her unstable walking, she needed an escort while she exercised several times a day, a routine that basically involved walking down the corridor and back. Continue reading