Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Laughter and Emotional Wellbeing

Laughter is the universal language of joyful living. When laughing together,

we contribute to our good as individuals and as a collective whole.


According to Douglas Smith, American’s leading hospice expert, young children laugh 400 times a day while adults barely pour out 15 chuckles! What an unfortunate contrast. As adults, we need to take some lessons from children. Of course, we should not live our life in a fantasy world as children do when they play, rather we should be enjoy our lives.

In order to develop a sense of humor, we need to take ourselves less seriously. We were born with this tremendous gift. Somewhere along the way it is shelved for all the other responsibilities we face. Laughter is strong medicine for the mind and body, and our health. It helps us to relax our body, relieve tension and stress. When we laugh, we feel cheerful.

When we laugh with another person, a positive connection is established. Consider how we could improve our relationships if we concentrated on laughter with our loved one. If your spouse is having a rough day, bring home a light-hearted, humorous movie along a pizza or his favorite carry-out and enjoy time together. Not only will you have an enjoyable evening together, it will help emotional wellbeing. If your loved one likes to play board games, stop by with a game and homemade meal. While you’re playing the game, talk about enjoyable stories from her past. Then share dinner. What a great way to brighten your mother’s day, and you left feeling upbeat about your visit.

In 1995 Madan Kataria, M.D., started a Laughter Club in New Delhi after researching the benefits of a good “giggle”. He combined several yoga stretches while encouraging people to laugh for “no reason at all”. He has over 1800 individuals in India alone in his club along with 700 clubs throughout the world. He practiced general medicine prior to pursuing the Laughter Club. He explains people do not need doctors to tell them what is good for them because they already know. Laughter cannot solve your problems but it can dissolve them. Try it. You may feel uncomfortable at first because it is ‘so out of your comfort zone’ but it has worked for me. I do it at home or around friends. If my mother is down, I will laugh to cheer her up. It takes a while and normally works.  

As caregivers, we have a higher risk of health and emotional problems because we tend to take care of our loved ones and ignore ourselves. We may feel like our responsibility is first to our loved one, but if we do not take care of ourselves, we will not be able to care for our loved one. We need to learn to how arrange our tasks as a caregiver for our health. It will help us to be a better caregiver.

Ten Tips for Caregivers from the National Family Caregivers Association:     
1.       Choose to take charge of your life, and don’t let your loved one’s condition always take center stage.
2.       Remember to be good to yourself. Love, honor, and value yourself. You’re doing a very hard job and you deserve some quality time, for you.
3.       Watch for signs of depression, and don’t delay in getting professional help when you need it.
4.       When people offer to help, accept the offer and suggest specific things they can do.
5.       Educate yourself about your loved one’s conditions.
6.       There’s a difference between caring and doing. Be open to new technologies and ideas that promote your loved one’s independence and help you do your job easier.
7.       Trust your instincts. Most of the time they’ll lead you in the right direction.
8.       Grieve for your losses and then allow yourself to dream new dreams.
9.       Stand up for your rights as a caregiver and as a citizen.
10.   Seek support from other caregivers. There is great strength in know that you are not alone.

Whether you prefer to attend a local support group or online one, they can be very beneficial for caregivers. However if you are feeling uneasy or skeptical about going to a community one or participating with an online group, try it three times. Then you have given it a fair chance. Also, if you have more than one group in your community, try that one. You may have more in common with the second group. There are multiple online groups. If one doesn’t work, try another that suits your needs.

Benefits of Joining a Caregiver Support Group –

·         A safe haven for sharing feelings in a non-judgmental atmosphere
·         A social outlet where you can make friends

·         Information about products

·         A place to learn coping mechanisms

·         Advice from others

·         Support for emotional wellbeing – letting you know you are not alone with this journey of caregiving

·         Helping in dealing with family issues

·         Caring from others who understand what you are going through
To find groups on the Internet search - “Online Caregiver Support Groups”

The following are some online support groups:

·         Caregiver.com magazine

·         CareGiving.com

·         Family Giver Alliance – National Center on Caregiver
Exercise is a wonderful way to lift your spirits and increase energy. Start slowly and build up. If you have chronic medical conditions or have not worked out, meet with your doctor for a medical evaluation. Consider joining a fitness center and hiring a trainer for a few sessions to learn a plan tailored for you.

Some fitness centers offer the services of a trainer included with the cost of the monthly fee. Look around your community for fitness centers that offer the best deals.

Guilt drains of us of energy and confidence. It can be an extremely heavy burden to carry. If you are a person who carries guilt, start writing them in a notebook. Then take a marker, and cross each one by one saying “Guilt no longer has power over me.” Continue the pattern until you have given yourself permission to rid yourself of guilt.

As caregivers, our wellbeing is important. When we take care of ourselves and enjoy a good laugh, we are better equipped to care for our loved ones both physically and emotionally.

Laughter is the universal language of joyful living. When laughing together,

we contribute to our good as individuals and as a collective whole.
Laughter is a great dose of medicine!






Taking Care of the Caregiver

Cecelia Salamone, M.A., LPC
Reach for a Rainbow Caregiving
A Prayer for the Caregiver
By Bruce McIntrye
Unknown and often unnoticed, you are a hero nonetheless,
For your love, sacrificial, is God at his best,
You walk by faith in the darkness of the great unknown,
And your courage, even in weakness, gives life to your beloved.
You are resilient, amazing, and beauty unexcelled,
You are the caregiver and you have done well!
Caregivers, you deserve recognition for your tremendous contribution to families and society. You are the silent heroes and heroines. In order to give the best care possible to your loved one, you must take care of your needs. So often, caregivers take a backseat to the wants of the care recipient - this may work for a short term but not for the long run.
Learn to be proactive. Caregiving is a delicate balancing act so you need to continuously be prepared. What are some practical methods?
- Use a 'Sphere of Influence' - You care for your parent, friend, or spouse, from a sphere of influence. The people who influence your loved one may be you, your sister and her husband. You have influence from - your husband, children, the family’s internist and minister. As you continue to care for your loved one, you obtain knowledge and the sphere carries on. Consider all the people who gain and share resources information with you and the individuals in this group. Consider using your 'sphere of influence' and then passing it along.
- Want to relieve tension? Sit in a rocking chair and rock away your troubles. Long standing tradition for people to rock babies in their arms to console them. My grandmother spent countless afternoons relaxing in her rocking chair.
- Exercise lifts your spirits and energy. Start off slow and increase gradually moving to an amount of time that is comfortable. However, consider meeting with your doctor for an evaluation prior to starting an exercise routine. Also if you are new to exercising, consider hiring an exercise coach to develop a plan. 
- Open up the blinds in the morning and switch on lights. Light helps us feel more alert than dark.
- Eat healthy breakfasts high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid fat-free because some people crave more food after eating fat-free rather than choosing low-fat. Stay away from fast food. If you do go, check calorie content prior to ordering.
- Comfort foods may taste good - they decrease stamina.
- Respite is not a gift. Learn to ask others for help. If you do not have anyone, develop a plan. Even if you find someone for two hours every other week, it’s a start.
- Stay connected by calling friends and family on a consistent basis.  
- Other caregivers understand. They have similar experiences. Join a support group - whether it is one in your community, online or both.
- If you start feeling depressed, seek out professional help. 
- Some places of worship have programs and also people you can talk with. With many, you do not need to be a member to participate.
- Maintain physical health with medical and dental appointments. Take medications and supplements as recommended by your health care provided.
- Contact Area Agency on Aging - learn about services in your community. Look for local resources for caregivers.
- Consider Adult Day Care Centers and In-Home Caregivers.  
- Take warm baths. Or go in a room, close the door and read or listen to music for 20-30 minutes each day or several times a week.
- Find something that brings you peace- mediation, spirituality, faith, yoga.
- Tears are cleansing. Give yourself permission.
- Appreciate your efforts and do not hold on to guilt.
- Maintain a sense of humor.  
My intentions are good but unfortunately I do not do all of these things. Some areas I prefer over others. Caregiving is becomes stressful and has challenges. It is a constant check and balance procedure. Normally, I understand why I am not working on an area and the underlying reason. Being aware and not giving up is essential when caring for you.  
Caregivers - Each day do something especially for you. "Reach for Your Special Rainbow" - whatever that gift may be and cherish it.  
Designated Caregiver – Resource Manual
For The Caregiver “On Call 24/7”
To order – call or send e-mail


Monday, February 3, 2014

Welcome to the Sandwich Generation in a Multigenerational Family!

As Christina and Edward sit in their family room drinking coffee and eating bagels enjoying the quiet of the early morning hour. This is their private time to talk and make plans for the day ahead. Even though they have weekly family meetings, they make sure to double check the schedule for the day with their morning time together.

As Christina took a bite from her bagel, she said, “We have about an hour of quiet time before the gang wakes up.”

“Okay. Francine and Jackson are taking the bus to school but Francine has basketball practice afterward until 4:30. Jackson is taking the bus home but he has hockey practice at 4:00. Got it covered with Terry’s Dad. I’m pickin’ up about 6:00.”

“I’m takin’ your Dad to Adult Day Care and will pick him up at 5:00. I have to get him there before time because I have an early morning meeting. I’ll run by the school and pick up Francine at 4:30 and be able to get Art by 5:00.”   

Taking a sip of coffee, Edward said, “I’ll get Jackson from hockey on my home. My mom’s set for today so she can make dinner.”

“I have the meat in the refrigerator and everything else on the counter for her.”

With a smile on his face, Edward said, “We’re done just in time because I hear the refrigerator door opening. Has to be Jackson!”

  In 1981 Dorothy Miller, a social worker, coined the term sandwich generation for people middle age who provide support to younger and older family members yet do not receive reciprocal support in exchange. They are sandwiched between two generations. The sandwich generation is a group of adults usually ranging in age from 40 – 59 that care for their aging parents along with dependent children. In some cases they are making plans for retirement, considering the cost for college or vocational school, and assisting with their parent’s needs.   

The U.S. Census Bureau defines a multigenerational household as a living arrangement in where three or more generations share a housing unit. They are usually grandparents, parents, and children living in the same home. Since the 1990’s there has actually been an increase in multigenerational living and the trend is expected to continue in that direction. In some countries it is customary. Some do it out of necessity; others make the decision out of choice. Whatever the reason, many families find benefits to this lifestyle. According to Pew Research, 22% Hispanics, 23% blacks, 25% Asians, and 13 % whites live in multigenerational households.

Laura and Paul Paltyl, both in their mid-40’s and members of the sandwich generation, live the life of a multigenerational household. With six children, their home becomes crowded at times. However in 2003, the couple invited Laura’s parents to live with them when her mother became ill with congestive heart failure and stroke. Then a few years later Paul’s father who developed Alzheimer’s disease, moved in with the family.

To accommodate Laura’s parents, the couple added a 1,500 square-foot suite. The addition included - kitchen, handicapped bathroom, bedroom, office, family room, screen porch, and workshop. They contributed to the cost for the home modification when they sold their home. This was an ideal situation. The parents had their independence and privacy but were still close by.

 Co-residency can actually enhance the lives of everyone in the family by keeping lines of communication open. It can promote a sense of well-being, provide a feeling of belonging, assist teenagers moving into adult years, and ease up household tasks.

-  Financial – The cost of living, especially housing, makes it cost effective for families to move in together. Child or elder care costs can be reduced or eliminated. A youth may need to pay off student loans, an elder might have used up most of his savings, and it will help the sandwich generation member because bills are under the same roof.  

-  Situational – Unemployment, divorce, or military deployment of a spouse may necessitate moving in with parents or children. Widows or widowers may seek companionship. Young parents could have demanding jobs that require long hours and travel.

-  Cultural – In certain cultures, multiple generational housing is a common and natural way of life. They feel it is a way to stay connected, share their heritage, and holidays. They also believe it is beneficial for youth to learn from their elders.   

 Suggestions for attaining success:

-  Keep lines of communication open - Discuss in advance the expectations from everyone involved prior to moving in. Let them know how important it is to have ongoing communications even when there are disagreements.

-  Set-up a written household agreement of expectations so that each person understands the complexity of the multigenerational lifestyle. Put as much on the table prior to each person moving in so that it is a smooth transition. Refer to - Coordinate expenditures- regarding someone not able to sign. 

-  Establish guidelines for finances – Prior to any member moving into the household, set up their household financial contribution. If you let people know this upfront along with other expectations and responsibilities, then they can decide if they want to move in.

-  Coordinate expenditures by creating individual and shared household budgets. Establish who will be responsible for each bill and how it will be paid. Will there be a family checking account where all bills are paid? Does one person pay the bills and everyone else is responsible for either giving that person the money or depositing the funds into the family checking account? Families can usually conquer most disagreements except money issues! Money often times destroys family relationships. Make sure everyone approves – it is in writing – and each party signs the agreement. If you have a loved one who will be contributing but cannot sign because of medical conditions or dementia, discuss how to handle this situation. If another member is Power of Attorney, have that person sign for them. If that is not the case, come to a family agreement.     

-  Establish boundaries in regards to privacy, personal needs, parenting roles, and the hours a member keeps. When a family member leaves, let someone know and approximate time they will be home. They could also have a cork or chalk board where members could write notes.   

-  Set up regular family meetings in order to ensure continual communication. If concerns arising, arrange for a mini-meeting between the scheduled ones so problems do not escalate.        

-  Create private space and time to insure your home is ready for sharing. Some families look for a home to suit their needs while others look into remodeling their existing home if it is necessary. Set up schedules especially if people are working and going to school. Trying to share one or two bathrooms with several people at the same time presents a challenge. 

-  Allow all family members individual and sharing time. Then respect their private time. If your daughter has the afternoon for some respite time, don’t call her when she is out with a friend because her son won’t to take his afternoon nap. Learn to handle the situation.

-  Take advantage of having your families living together. Think back to the time when families ate together on a regular basis. Perhaps that is not practical because of work schedules but families can figure out one day every week or two to gather for a meal together. If meals don’t work, pick a pizza or sandwich night.

-  Do not make assumptions Do not say to your father, “I thought you were going to ……” Or say to your son, “I thought for sure you would …….”  

-  Have the written agreement reviewed every three to six months depending on the needs and changes of your family.

-  Family member with pets – Any members with pets takes responsibility for their care. If someone wants a pet, it must be agreed upon with the family. However, if the member of the sandwich generation already has pets they are exempt because they own their home. It is for people moving into the member’s home.  

In order to encourage a healthy structure, you need a plan. Think of your home as a mini-company where you have weekly meetings. Set up a place each person can write down agenda items important to him or her. Then on your designated meeting date, discuss those topics. You may even decide to elect a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. However prior to setting up regular meetings, establish responsibilities for each person. However, you are working within the framework of a family, so also remember flexibility is also extremely important. People must be responsible but we also need to be understanding to their concerns and work with them.

Guidelines for weekly meetings

·         Make sure you can hear each other. Reduce or turn-off background noise such as televisions or stereos. 

  • If someone has a hearing loss, speak clearly and directly to him. You could also have someone sit next to him and take notes.     
  • Only allow emergency telephone calls and refrain from texting. 
  • Set time limits for each person – perhaps you can use a timer until everyone becomes accustomed to working within a structured meeting. If that does not happen, make the timer a part of your meeting. 
  • Let each person complete his comments before the next person speaks. Be respectful of the person talking. If you do not agree with the person speaking, call a time-out but do not allow walking out. 
  • Stay focused on your topics. Do not digress to other topics.
  • Respect each other’s opinion even when they do not agree with your own. 
  • If your loved one has difficulty because of his medical condition, the family should be patient. If he has early stages of dementia, he should be part of the group because it keeps him involved and his mind active. 
  • Share expectations with children who return home, children already living at home, and your parents. Everyone in the family should communicate their views.     
  • Have a rotating assignment sheet with tasks for the family to accomplish each day/week and keep it in a visible place such as on the refrigerator door.
  • Discuss money issues that involve everyone.

If it is necessary to miss a week, be ready for the next. Make this a consistent, ongoing part of your family’s life. Arrange the meetings around the time when everyone is home. However, if someone called into work, take special time to discuss the meeting with that family member and share the notes with that person. It will be impossible for every person to make it every week. Discuss the most effective method that will work for your family when someone must miss a meeting. Have a note taker recording the minutes and then include them along with the agenda at the next meeting. If your loved one has difficulty with his vision, use larger font when his copy is printed.

With the increase of young adults 18-31, the millennial generation, moving back home or never leaving their parent’s home, this trend is more likely to increase. Most elderly cannot afford the cost for nursing and assisted living facilities. And some are no longer able to live on their own.  Also with the cost of medical expenses, often times their social security and medicare does not cover costs and their children pay the bills.  Many young adults are in debt from the cost of student loans; they cannot afford to live on their own.


When your 30 year old college graduate son moves back because he was laid-off from his engineering position and his new job pays substantially less and your parents moved in six months ago because your father, with his arthritis, was getting too weak to handle all the maintenance at their home. You still have a 25 year old daughter at home with her five year old son. You think about all the wonderful times you and your husband have with your family living with you. But then there are plenty of challenges to consider. It may take months to adjust to multigenerational living. Some members may not adjust very easily to living in a multigenerational home. That is why communication and the weekly meeting are so important. Emphasize to the family the importance why each person moved back to the family home. As long as members respect boundaries and cooperatively help each other, the multigenerational households will be successful.


Families have discovered the rewards of living together. Sharon Niederhaus and John Graham point out parents of young children may receive help with child care from grandparents. Grandchildren obtain the gift of time, love, and attention from their grandparents. Grandparents benefit because they receive emotional gratification through frequent interaction with their grandchildren and from the responsibilities of assisting them. Studies have shown positive outcomes for older adults who interrelate with children including less depression, taking better care of themselves physically, and reporting a sense of purpose. In addition, children are less likely to be apprehensive around older adults or stereotype them.

Taking Care of the Sandwich Generation Member

-  As a member of the Sandwich Generation, you may not be taking care of yourself. You may feel like you do not have enough time in your schedule for household needs, in addition to caring for the generation above and below you.

- Put yourself first. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else. Schedule time for exercise, social time with friends, eat balance healthy meals. Get enough sleep and drink plenty of water. Making yourself a priority, will give you the strength needed to handle all your responsibilities.

-  Seek help from others. Communicate with siblings and other family to let them know what is going on. Make a list of the things you would like help with and be specific.

-  You may need to take time off from work to take your parent to a medical appointment. Your husband can’t pick up your father from Adult Day Care next week. Talk to your employer about your situation. Let him know about your caregiving responsibilities. An employer cannot help unless they know what is going on. With 43 million caregivers in the U. S., you probably are not the only person in the company caring for a loved one.

Laura Paltyl sees her children kindhearted toward their grandparents and other older people. Also, her parents have been able to share in their grandchildren’s happiness, sorrows and life activities. She feels she will see the benefits throughout the kid’s lifetimes. Families in multigenerational homes have built-in, sounder, mutually favorable intergenerational relationships. Grandparents and older family members can be central in a young person’s life rather than someone they see occasionally for afternoon visits and holidays.  


Tips for Multigenerational Living AARP http://blog.aarp.org/2012/12/12/amy-goyer-how-can-live-together                                                      

Generations United – Multigenerational Households

Three Generations Under One Roof www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-04-2013

Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends – A Rising Share of Young Adults Live in Their Parents’ Home http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/08/01/a-rising-share-of-young-adults-live-in-their-parents-home/


Friday, November 1, 2013

Are Your Affairs In Order?

Do you feel like you are living each moment of your life to the fullest? Do you appreciate your loved ones and the blessings that surround you? Do you have all of your affairs in order? 

In January 2013 Valerie Harper was told she had terminal metastatic lung cancer. She remembers being terrified thinking she would not be here to see her daughter get married. But then she was able to focus on the practical matters - getting her affairs in order with her husband, Tony Cacciotti of 26 years. Her husband shied away from discussing the topic. His parents were born in Italy and he saw far too many people die, including his own brother, displayed in caskets in their living room. Because of those experiences, he doesn't go to funerals.
After some coaxing, Cacciotti agreed to see a lawyer to draft wills and health care directives. At that time, Valerie told her husband she wanted to be cremated - something he was not prepared to hear because he always thought they would be buried next to each other. According to Valerie, "The body is just a rooming house."  He never considered cremation for his wife.  Cacciotti explained his reluctance, "I wanted to be buried next to her." Over their marriage they did not discuss "what will we do when this happens?"   
Thankfully they had the opportunity to make plans, but Valerie and Tony waited until Valerie was diagnosed with cancer to make their plans. They didn't know what the other wanted because throughout their 26 year marriage, they didn't discuss the topic. Valerie didn't tell Tony she wanted to be cremated - pretty serious to be left until a person has such a serious medical condition. But she thought like many of us, she had a lifetime ahead of her. Her husband needed time to adjust to a plan that was so different than he had envisioned. He always thought Valerie would be buried next to him.

In regards to Valerie's attitude toward life, she feels people should 'live moment to moment to moment.' 'You should live in the joy of life, not worrying about the future.' She doesn't think about dying. 'I think about being here now.' Valerie has defied the odds. Doctors gave her three to six months and it is already November. Valerie looks at it this way - every day she is optimistic that she can have one more holiday, maybe two or three! "Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Valerie!"

Have you considered long term care insurance? You may want to discuss it with your customer service rep at your bank or financial advisor. With this protection, most alternative housing and care is partially covered. Since costs and reputation vary significantly, investigate completely before deciding on a company. Research the companies you are interested in doing business. Some will not accept a person with a pre-existing condition such as heart disease or a combination of another medical condition like - seizure disorder, lupus, or obesity. If they do accept you, they may charge a very steep premium. Not all companies and policies are created equally.      

Have you examined your life? If the doctor told you tomorrow you had two months to live, would you have everything taken care of for yourself and your family? Would you wait for a crisis situation? Decisions should be made when you can make them with a clear mind and rationally. If you are married or have a partner, and both intend to set up a plan, discuss and write down all the things you want to discuss prior to the meeting so there are no misunderstandings later or in the lawyer's office. 

Consider searching out an Elder Law Attorney within your area to set up your plan -

The following should be included with your Estate Planning -
General Durable Power of Attorney
Durable Power for Health 
Living Will
Last Will and Testament

To find an Elder Law Attorney check out:- Find a Elder Law Lawyer - National Elder Law Attorneys - www.naela.org. Before you make your appointment, make sure you find out the general cost for his services. Consider calling a couple to compare services and costs. Once you meet with your lawyer, make sure you are comfortable with him. After he completes your Estate Planning, be satisfied with the plan. In general, review your Estate Planning every couple years in case there are any changes or revisions. A follow-up appointment with your lawyer is advisable so he can review your planning for any possible changes and/or updates. 

Estate Planning is something some may not want to face because we think it means the end of life. Look at it as protecting our loved ones and making life easier for them when we pass on. Often times, we do Estate Planning for the people in our lives who we care about. For example Tom may have a cottage he purchased prior to his marriage and he never put his wife, Kelly Ann's name on the Deed. If Tom doesn't have a will, or quit claim deed, Kelly Ann may not inherit the cottage if he has a sudden heart attack and dies. Even though the two were married for 19 years, the cottage could end up going to Tom's estranged, son Barry who he has not seen in 8 years. This situation could be avoided if Tom set up Estate Planning. 

If you do not have the funds to cover the cost for an Elder Law Attorney and decide you want to do your own planning, you can purchase  forms on the Internet - Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney for Health, Living Willing, Last Will and Testament.

Embrace life with passion. But while you are doing it, think about your planning. What do you have in place when the time comes if you become ill and when you pass away?

Valerie Harper

Valerie Harper Tony Cacciotti

October/November 2013 AARP Magazine 
A Fearless, Funny Finale - Valerie Harper by Meg Grant

March 6, 2013 - Michael Rothman
Valerie Harper Diagnosed With Terminal Brain Cancer - ABC News

Monday, October 28, 2013

Watching Over Our Loved Ones

Consider how you would feel if you entrusted a long term facility to care for your loved one. Over the past four years, your loved one lived with you. But her medical condition declined and she fell several times resulting in calls to 911 for assistance. Despite your mixed feelings, her doctor told you your mother needed 24 hour care. After spending several weeks searching for a new home, you are quite sure Rolling River is the right match. 

Rolling River was clean and the staff helpful when you took your tour. They had a good ratio resident to staff and lunch was good. When you walked down the hall, the admission director knew the residents names. The costs was within the same range as other places you visited but this facility had a 5 star rating by the state and the rooms were larger. After review of all information, you believed Rolling River was the best choice.    

For several weeks, your parent had difficulty adjusting to her new "home". You received calls at midnight a couple times a week because she was crying and wanted you to visit her. Finally by the fourth week, Sandy, the rec director, convinced her to play Bingo, attend movies, and eat meals in the dining room. Your parent was more content. She was meeting people and enjoying herself.

You are finally taking deeper breathes and relaxing - hasn't happened in a long time. Then you get a phone call from Pauline, Social Worker, and you have a feeling it isn't good news.  
"Joanna, this is Pauline Scott, from Rolling River calling for your mother, Hilda Mayfield. Not an emergency. Your mother is upset but otherwise okay."
"What happened?"
"We recently hired a CENA's and she was caught stealing from several residents. A nurse found the CENA in your mother's room. Caught in her purse taking out money and a charge card, then stuffing them in her pocket. When the nurse checked both pockets, the nurse found your mother's watch, two bracelets, and two necklaces. The police are here now investigating."
Joanna told Pauline, "I'll be right over."

Joanna rushed to the care facility to help see her mother. For four years, she kept her mother in a safe environment. Within a couple months of having Joanna's mother in a care facility, her mother was a victim of a robbery. Pauline apologized to both Joanna and her mother numerous times. She  explained in the 20 years she worked at Rolling River, this is the first incident of stealing by an employee.

"That was a very brave nurse who caught her. She even called 911 while she was in the room with the woman and Hilda. The CENA cooperated and no one was hurt. Think she was embarrassed. Do you how much money your mother had?"
"Look inside the zippered lining. I kept her money in a envelope with the dollar amount. Whenever she spent money, I deducted that amount. I asked her not to spend money unless I was present. She had $57. I didn't want her having the checkbook, charge and money but she insisted. Told me it helped her feel independent. Now look what happened." 

"Remember when the Admission Director, Elizabeth, told you and your mother about leaving valuables in the rooms? We prided ourselves on never having a robbery, but  we are also realistic. If a resident doesn't have things of value, it cuts down the chances he will be a victim of this type of elder abuse. We care about our residents and do not want anything  happening to them. Perhaps now you will be able to convince your mother to let you take the checkbook and charge home and leave a small amount of money. Bring her a change of jewelry once or twice a week."

"I do remember Elizabeth telling Mother and me about valuables. But then she put up such a fuss when she moved in it was my way of calming the waters. I thought once she settled in, I could convince her to give them to me. But she wouldn't give them up. I should have had Elizabeth come in for a talk. Was getting frustrated, gave in. Should have been stronger. Then it wouldn't happened."

"Don't blame yourself for the actions of this employee. She stole from your mother and other people. Our other social worker, Ken, may be able to help your mother work through this incident. We do not want her to feel like a victim. She trusted her CENA."
"Thanks. I'll come by your office in a couple days for a status update. I'm going to see my mother. Want the nurse to help Mom into bed. She could use rest."
"Sounds like a good idea. She's been through an ordeal today."

Hopefully, you or your loved one will never have  to endure an experience of robbery. Be proactive. If your loved one resides in a care facility, make sure there is nothing of value in his room. If he insists on keeping his checkbook and charge cards, then set up a meeting with the admission director. 

Stealing is a form of abuse to seniors that sometimes does not get reported because the elderly person, trusts the person who steals from them. Sometimes it is a friend, caregiver, or their child. They might trust them with their charge card, check book, or cash. Then these people victimize trusting elderly seniors. As caregivers we cannot always protect our parents but we can have talks with them about elderly financial abuse. Whether your loved one insists on keeping her checkbook, and charge card, or passes them on to you, have an online account so you can monitor them every few days. You cannot stop abuse from happening but preventative measures is a step in the right direction.                     

Hilda and Joanna