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The Elderly and Voting


Voting is incredibly important, but can be difficult.  Don’t let the inconveniences associated with it prevent you and your loved ones for exercising your rights.  Plan early, take your time and have patience. ?


Regardless of who you vote for, voting is a privilege that we all share and everyone should be encouraged to vote. But, when you’re caring for seniors, helping them exercise those rights can be challenging.  From logistical nightmares to physical limitations, the elderly face many challenges that can be overcome with preparation and patience.


Early Voting or Absentee Ballots

If getting to the polls is too much for your loved one to handle, they can vote early or by absentee ballot.  Typically, voting early can avoid long lines and can give seniors the extra time they need to feel comfortable.  Information on early voting or absentee voting is available at Vote.org (https://www.vote.org/early-voting-calendar/).  Rules vary by state, so be sure to check the specific location where they are registered to vote.



If the person you’re caring for does want to vote at the polls the day of the election, be sure to plan well in advance to make it as easy as possible.  Call your election office before you go to find out where handicap parking is available.  Voting officials will be on hand if your loved one needs assistance at the poll.  Above all, be sure to ask for help.


Assistance at the Polls

Once you get to the polls, ask for help.  Many times, polls typically have multiple volunteer workers on hand who can help make voting easier.  Ask for a chair for dad to sit in while he is waiting in line.  Polls volunteers are on hand to help with casting their ballot as well.  Above all, ask what you need.  If mom needs a glass of water, ask.  Dad can’t take waiting in line? Find a volunteer and see if they can help. 



Give THANKS This Season


Caring for your parents doesn’t just happen on holidays. Use the holidays to not only give thanks for all your blessings, but to see how you can help make sure your parents’ needs are being met.?

As we gather together to give thanks this week, don’t miss the opportunity to check in on elderly loved ones. While phone calls throughout the year are important, seeing mom and dad in person can be the best way to assess physical and mental issues.


Give thanks this year by assessing how your mom and dad’s needs are being met:

  • T – Their health – Have there been any noticeable health changes since you last saw them? Are they making their prescriptions and are they up-to-date? Be sure to ask them about recent doctor visits and make sure they are routinely visiting health care professionals.
  • H – Home – Perform a basic home assessment to see if their home is still meeting their needs. Pay special attention to the bathroom, kitchen and entryways.
  • A – Appearance – Have there been any physical changes that you weren’t aware of that should be discussed with their doctor? Has their mobility changed or have there been any drastic weight changes?
  • N – Nutrition – Are they eating regularly? Is there food in the cabinets or refrigerator and is it fresh? 
  • K – Knowledgebase – Do you know where important papers (such as wills, medical directives, insurance papers) are kept? Do you know who to contact in an emergency if you can’t reach your parents? Do you know how bills are paid and if they are managing their finances?
  • – Skills – Assess your parents’ mental and physical skills to see if they need additional help or if you need to make changes. Are dad’s reaction times good enough to keep him safe on the road? Is it time to consider bringing in someone to help with cleaning or laundry?


Talk to your friends and family while you are all together and approach caregiving as a team effort. If you don’t have time to discuss changes between the big meal and game, schedule a meeting online or on the phone to discuss your parents’ care and what changes need to be made.


Making Care Easier – It’s More Than Just Our Name


Caring for elderly parents is one of the most stressful and thankless jobs anyone can undertake. Many caregivers have lots of well-wishers and offers to assist, but getting help isn't always easy.

You know you're overworked, overtired and overextended. But, do you know how to easily reach out for help? Every time you ask for help, there's a whole new set of questions that arise. Will your sister know what to do when she gets to mom's house? Does your friend who's driving mom know where her doctor's office is? How do I know things are getting done? When I was a caregiver, it felt like it took just as much effort to get people to help than to just do things myself. 

Thankfully, getting help doesn't have to be that hard. The first step is to get prepared. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. MCE's tools let caregivers set up information ahead of time so when you're sick and can't be there for mom, have another commitment or just need a break, your family and friends can step in and offer a helping hand. 

Start preparing for help by preparing yourself. Gather the information someone would need to take over your role as caregiver. Start with the basics: what medicines are they taking and when, who is their doctor, allergies, medical facts, etc. Then, be sure to add in a few bits of information to help other caregivers relate to your mom or dad: what's their favorite music or tv show? Do they like to read or need a special light or magnifier to do so? Do they play cards or like board games? Are there topics that would be better left not discussing? Keep a log of your routine and use that as a place to start.

Once you have the information, MCE has tools that let you store and share information so if you're not available, your parents still get the care they need. Best of all, you and your family can access that information when and where it's convenient to you-online, on your phone or email.


Remember that as needs change, so does the information that new caregivers need. Be sure to update what worked and add more information for what didn't. Don't be afraid to ask your family for input and remember that there is a learning curve for caring. Lastly, don't forget to thank your helpers - maybe they'll remember to thank you next time.


Getting Ready for the Summer with Elderly Parents


After the winter we have had in Boston, spring has never been so welcome.  From the birds chirping and flowers in bloom to the longer evenings, harbingers of summer mean it’s time to make sure your parents are ready for the hot weather soon to come their way.


  • Spring cleaning – out with sweaters, in with the lighter clothes.  Schedule a day that your family can get together to help organize mom’s house, put away dad’s snow galoshes or plants flowers. 
  • Fans or air conditioners – Make sure that fans are easily accessible and are in good working order.  Have the air conditioner serviced and test it out before the hot weather hits.
  • Summer camp – If it gets too hot in their home, consider sending mom and dad to adult day care.  Check with your local agency on aging to see if they have programs in your area where your parents can go during heat spells.  If so, reserve your space early and make arrangements so that if they do spend time outside the home your family knows who will take them and has a copy of their care plan for the facility.
  • Vacation planning – Be sure that all your parent’s routines are recorded in their medicine plan, care plan or emergency plan so that if you’re away, someone can step and help care for them in your absence.  Free forms are available in the ‘Our Documents’ section of the MCE website which can be securely stored and share with your care team.
  • Know the signs – Seniors are less likely to know when they are dehydrated or overheated, so know the signs.  Keep an eye out for weakness, headaches, muscle cramps, dizziness, confusion, fainting, or profuse or no sweating.  If your loved one is experiencing a heat episode, move them to a cool place, encourage drinking fluids if they can and immediately call your parent’s physician or 911 in the event of an emergency. 

So, from heat to happiness to hydration, we hope you are ready for summer!  And, if you need help, remember to use MCE to let your family members know how to help you and the person for whom you care.

6 Tips On How To Cope When Caring For A Loved One


By Benjamin Lamm

Being a full time family caregiver has its ups and downs, but the goal is to have more up days than down ones. Minding your own health and emotional well-being ensures you can cope with caring for a loved one, while maintaining a good quality of life for both of you.

#1: Don't Take Everything On Alone

It's all too easy to try and shoulder a caregiving duties entirely alone. You don't want to put unnecessary stress on friends and family, and you don't want your loved one to see themselves as a burden, either. The truth is, others want to help and you need to let them. 

You can make it easier to both accept help and make sure you get the most from the help by always keeping a list of activities in mind that others can help with. These could be as simple as accepting an offer to pick up some items for you at the grocery store, to as involved as taking over your care duties for a short period of time. 

Remember, guilt feelings notwithstanding, there is a time when our mom or dad deserves and requires being transferred to a skilled nursing facility. One of the signs that that time has come upon us, is when, despite our best efforts, our health or family life is suffering due to our caregiving.

Covering the long-term care cost for nursing home care can be prohibitive and many middle income Americans may need to fall back on Medicaid coverage. The eligibility process is anything but simples and often the family may need to get info from a Medicaid planning professional.


#2: Get Out and Move

In all but the most severe of cases, you should be able to grab at least a few minutes for yourself. Use this as an opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise, it will help recharge you. You may need to do this early in the morning, before they wake up. If you can't leave them alone, arrange for some brief respite care from a friend, neighbor, family member or other volunteer. Thirty to 60 minutes of daily walking will do wonders for both your health and your frame of mind.


#3: Find a Reason to Laugh

Negativity will just lead to feelings of resentment, which will neither accomplish or change anything. Instead, find a reason to laugh every day. Don't be afraid to be a bit silly – it helps relieve stress and keeps you positive. 

You can't control your loved one's condition, but you can control how you view the entire situation. Share jokes with your loved one, look for things that make you laugh on TV or online, and find the humor in the everyday little things that you do. Some of our of troubles would actually be quite funny had they not been happening to us, but rather to an unidentified person
. Try the laughter cure; it’s the best medicine.


#4: Foster a Support Network

The truth is, unless someone has been a full time caregiver, they can never truly understand the difficulties you often face. Support groups have a lot to offer. You have a chance to meet with peers in similar situations, so they can commiserate or provide helpful advice. 

Support groups can also keep you informed of resources that are available to you as a caregiver, such organizations and community resources that can help you and your loved one.


#5: Don't Become Disconnected

It's all too easy to allow your world to become small. Losing contact with friends and not making time for other family members often happens so gradually you don't realize it until it's too late. Chances are, your friends will slowly step back out of kindness – they know you are busy and don't want to cause you more stress. 

It's up to you to initially keep the door open on these relationships. Invite others over for coffee, or get help a few times a month, so you can go out and meet with friends. Keep family in the loop and encourage regular visits and get-togethers. 


#6: Look for Professional Help

Don't dismiss the idea of professional help – hiring someone to help with the care duties doesn't mean you are failing. Whether it's overnight help, or someone that comes in for just a few hours each week, this can be the single best way to cope as a family caregiver. Don't try to handle everything on your own. Professional respite services are well worth it, and the break will help you be a better caregiver in the long run.


About the author:  Benjamin Lamm is a communication specialist and blogger. Ben enjoys playing the guitar, spending time with family and social networking.

Safety Tips for Elderly Travelers

Traveling with elderly parents can seem difficult, but a litter preparation goes a long way.  These basic travel tips can help make travel safer and more fun for everyone:
1.  When looking for places to travel and trips, set your top three priorities -- for example:

     - if easy accessibility is important make that a travel criteria

     - if you know that you will be comfortable being active about three hours a day, make that a priority so as not to choose travel that will result in more harm than fun

     - or if you have special dietary restrictions, make sure to choose travel that can accommodate those needs

2.  If you are traveling with others, first set criteria for what you want out of the trip.  When do you plan to eat, what places do you want to go to, does all of this fit into your budget and your health concerns?   All too many times, travelers push themselves too hard in order to get to do "everything".  Be sure everyone know ahead of time that it's OK to ask to stop or slow down if they need a rest.

3.  Before you go away, use a site like Making Care Easier to make sure all medical information, contact information, and an emergency plan are on up to date and on-line so as easily accessible by family members just in case something goes wrong.  Keep a list with you of your medicine information and your doctor's contact information.
4.  Share an itinerary with your children or friends so they know where and how to find you.
5.  Check in regularly and set a time for when you will check in with your family.
6.  Last, when you travel don't be afraid to ask for help.  Ask your hotel, friends, or more for help.  The travel industry knows that our aging population is an important customer, so use that to your advantage!