: Caretakers

Getting what you don’t expect

Hi everyone:

A friend of mine is a fellow with a real heart for older folks. He took care of an elderly neighbor for many years because she had no family. It came as a real shock when, following her death, her lawyer informed him that the woman had left everything to him. This included a small bank account and her house, which was in dire need of repair.

He is a contractor by trade, so he immediately set to work to get it ready to sell. He was not prepared for the next shock: she had gotten a reverse mortgage several years prior to her death. She had been living on the money from the mortgage and had left him a house whose equity was almost totally eaten up by the mortgage.

By the time everything was over, he barely made enough money to pay for the expenses he had incurred while fixing up the house. It was only the search by the title company that revealed that there was a mortgage on the property; she had no paperwork in the house that indicated it was anything but paid for and he assumed that it was free and clear of encumbrances.

Make sure that you check things out before you sink money into a project. Otherwise, you may end up like my friend: seriously deluged with out-of-pocket expenses and now nothing to show for it.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Mice are not household pets

Hello everyone:

Do you have a problem with mice in your house? I live in the country and find that they do periodically show up, unannounced, except for the mouse turds they leave wherever they are.

How do you get rid of them? I have my tried and true “catch them in a mousetrap and then run over them with your car” method that I have explained in an earlier blog posting.

A good friend of mine has a cat that periodically demonstrates its love by depositing half-dead mice at her feet.  After she got somewhat used to this method of devotion, she said that her favorite means of removal was to pick the rodent up with a large pair of kitchen tongs and place the unfortunate animal in the toilet, for rapid flushing. She must have a really high-quality toilet, since there is no problem with the toilet accepting the mouse for disposal.

If you have a toilet that might not take such deposits, you might be better off using the tongs to toss the creature outside in order to rid your home of it. However, if the animal does not die, you could have a problem with a mad, injured mouse returning to torment your life via the courtesy of your cat, since the mouse would be considerably easier to catch in its current condition.

What do you do to rid yourself of these sometimes-cute but definitely not wanted pests?  I would love to hear your stories and read your tales of mouse woe!

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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When Young Adults become the Parent

Hello everyone:

Today when I was visiting my dentist, I became aware of a whole new group of people: young adults who had the responsibility of caring for their elderly grandparents. This is not a group normally associated with the care of aging relatives, yet it is a “new normal” for many young adults.

Perhaps their parents are deceased or ill themselves, and the young adult who might have expected to be out enjoying his or her life might find instead that he or she is responsible for the care of a dementia patient or terminally ill individual or …or…or  You name it.

Young friends, my hat is off to you. I hope that you will find information and help in the blogs I have posted previously and would appreciate your sharing with my readers any special needs that you have that we can talk about herein.

It is my goal to serve you as well as the folks who are middle-aged and helping out their elderly parents. Please feel free to comment on any special needs you as a young person have and I will research the situation and report back to you.

For now, just know that you are an incredible person and I have the upmost respect and admiration for you as you walk the delicate balance between being young and being in such a position of responsibility.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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The road ahead is unknown

Hello everyone:

Perhaps you are a suddenly-divorced person or a unexpectedly-widowed individual. Maybe your spouse announced that he or she no longer wanted to live in the same state as you do or perchance your spouse got hit by a bus and never came back home. Whatever the case, you did not plan on this new road. Your possibly carefully-planned life ahead has now taken a massive shift and you are stuck not knowing what to do or where to turn.

While this sounds horribly morbid (and possibly is), you can make a new way for yourself. Let’s chat for a few minutes here. What is something you have always wanted to do but your spouse was never on board with it? What have you always wanted to learn or experience or visit? What are your wildest dreams that somehow always got pushed aside for other concerns?

Guess what? Financial concerns aside, perhaps this is the opportunity you have waited for your whole life. Perhaps you always dreamed of learning to ballroom dance but you spouse hated it…there is probably an Arthur Murray studio somewhere nearby. Go for it! You don’t need a partner (they will supply one) and this is your chance to pretend you’re on Dancing with the Stars. (Have you checked out Drew Scott dancing to The Rainbow Connection- that’s worth a visit to the website).

A very good friend of mine loves helping people whose lives have been changed by disasters. Her hubby wouldn’t have liked her to be gone at the drop of a hat, but she’s a widow now and so off she goes. She helps change the lives of others for the better at a time when they may be grieving or facing a some natural disaster. She’s right there to support and guide them.

Yes, your life is different now. Would you have chosen this new road? Probably not. But you’re here now, so go for it and live your dreams.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Making Tough Decisions

Hello everyone:

When do you decide that Mom or Dad needs more help than you can give them? How do you know what’s best for their time of life?

These can be hard questions to answer. The gal in this picture looks happy and vital but she may have physical needs that go beyond her family’s ability to cope. I have a dear friend whose mother has been a happy, pleasant, kind person her whole life. She was a super wife and wonderful mother. But now she needs help.

I have some other friends who are making decisions about their father’s care. He has been there for them their entire lives. He has been a superb father and a loving husband. A recent fall has accelerated his need for assistance.

Another friend from church has an ailing wife. She has had cancer for several years and neither of them can attend church anymore because she can’t be left alone and can’t take the chance that someone at church will make her sick. With her cancer, a simple cold could kill her. What is her family to do?

We, as family members, are faced with a dilemma: how do we do the best for our loved one who is in need while not ignoring the responsibilities of our immediate family? Therein lies the problem. If we spend too much time away from our own family, that can cause relationship problems. If we don’t spend enough time with our loved one who needs us, that person could fail more quickly than he or she would otherwise.

I believe that the best way to handle this is through prayer and through understanding the needs of the people involved. If you finances will allow for a private duty nurse or CNA, that might be the best solution for your family. If there is a good adult daycare in your area, that might help others. Perhaps assisted living is the best route for now; there are some excellent homes out there where your loved one can have some degree of independence while he or she is in this “new normal” life.

It would be a blessing to hear how your family has handled the delicate situation you have faced. Do post your comments and thoughts, so that we can all reach out to help others at this difficult time.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Recalcitrant wiper woes

Hello everyone:

Have you ever gotten stuck, really stuck in a rain storm and not known how to use your car’s windshield wipers? Maybe you’ve borrowed a friend or family member’s car. Perhaps you have rented a car to take you to that first big job interview.

And then it begins to rain. Folks, that’s not the time to search for the location of the wipers. It’s also not the best time to figure out how to turn them on (every car is different, or so it seems).

I was on a trip to Florida, which is known for torrential rainstorms, when suddenly it began to pour. I was about an hour and a half from my condo when the storm struck and it was as if someone was standing by the side of the road, pouring water on my car.

It was dark, which didn’t help matters one iota. The streetlights were few and far between which made things worse. And then I couldn’t figure out which way to flick the wiper switch. (It was not intuitively obvious!)

Here’s my personal recommendation: figure this out before you get on the road, especially if rain is forecast. Have you ever had this challenge? It’s not fun, trust me. Next time, perhaps I’ll talk about trying to open the gas door on an unfamiliar car, and wanting to refill your tank before you run out. Another issue: the location of the gas gauge isn’t always where you expect- you could be looking at the engine temperature light instead. (And you thought you were just getting great gas mileage!)

Have a great day and feel free to share your tales of woe.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Dealing with Dementia

Hello everyone:

One of the most difficult things to witness is to watch a loved one, probably a parent, descend into the world of dementia. You see someone who you have loved and respected your whole life turn an invisible corner and disappear, even though the person is still in your presence.

Does this individual have trouble walking and talking at the same time? Perhaps he or she tries to cope by stopping dead still and asking “what?” so that you will repeat what you just said. This allows the person additional time to process what you said without seeming to do so. He or she will then answer your question before moving on. It has become too difficult to do more than one thing at a time, so the individual will use a coping mechanism to imperceptibly adjust to his or her new normal. You need to be aware of this change because it can signal what is coming next.

Does the person suddenly have trouble walking? This is also a sign that dementia is taking over the person’s life. It is now overtaking yours as well, if you are the caregiver. Your pace will have to slow down or you may contribute to the tripping hazard of an elderly person (though dementia patients are not always elderly) trying to keep up with you.

Does the loved one have trouble eating? Difficulty swallowing will come next, with the possibility of aspirating the  food he or she has just chewed. Try to keep an eye on this or disaster could result.

These are hard things to watch, but I imagine they are even harder to live through. I have heard it likened to trying to draw a picture of something while observing the subject of the picture in a mirror. It is not for the faint of heart.

What tips do you have for dealing with the  demne

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Suddenly Single for the Never-Married

Hi Everyone:

I am in the process of beginning research for folks who have never been married. If you are over 18 and single, would you please tell me what concerns you most about your future? What would be the most helpful information for you in your present situation. Are you are caregiver? What is your age range? Are you 18-25? 26-35? 36-47? 48-65? over 65? Do you have children? Do you have financial concerns?

I am gathering information for the purpose of talking to professionals who handle the type of questions you have. I will not reveal your name or location, but it would be great to chat with you about these topics.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Getting rid of rodents or other vermin

Hello everyone:

You know those weird sounds that you have been hearing, the ones that sound like scratching? Do you sometimes find strange brown turds on your counter tops?  Have you ever found Christmas ornament boxes full of destroyed, formerly stringed ornaments? Have you ever reached into a cardboard box that you had in the shed and saw something move out of the corner of your eye?

My dear, you have mice (or, at the very least, mouse). Keep in mind that these critters are very fertile and letting one live with you can lead to your having a whole colony of mice. You need to get rid of them ASAP.

There are various ways of doing this; we have effectively used baited traps in our garage and basement. The upside is that the traps can be baited with peanut butter; the bad news is that you have to get rid of the mouse after you catch it and it may still be alive, just stuck.

When a mouse threatened the sanity of my time working in our garage a few years back, we put out a snare, only to find that the mouse survived the entrapment. When the little critter showed up for the peanut butter feast, my hubby was out of town, so I managed to get the mouse and trap into the middle of the garage, covered it with a layer of cardboard (to protect my tires), and drove back and forth over the covered mouse until there were no more signs of life underneath.

I then swept the entire contraption outside and moved the car back into the now-mouse-free space. The deceased rodent thoughtfully remained under the cardboard until my husband returned home, though it might have looked a bit odd to the neighbors.

A good friend of mine has a cat that periodically demonstrates its love by depositing half-dead mice at her feet. After she got somewhat used to this method of devotion, she said that her favorite means of removal was to pick the rodent up with a large pair of kitchen tongs and place the unfortunate animal in the toilet, for rapid flushing.

She must have a really high-quality toilet, since there is no problem with the toilet accepting the mouse for disposal. If you have a toilet that might not take such deposits, you might be better off using the tongs to toss the creature outside in order to rid your home of it.

However, if the animal does not die, you could have a problem with a mad, injured mouse returning to torment your life via the courtesy of your cat, since the mouse would be considerably easier to catch in its current condition.

How do you eliminate the little guys that you don’t want hanging around? I would love to hear your ideas!

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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For those who never married

Hello everyone:

Today begins a new adventure: my start of research on planning ahead for those who have never married but want to share their stories on how they have planned ahead for a future where they may need care.

Let me tell you a story: A friend of mine shared with me last week that he met a man via craigslist who was selling everything he owned in order to move into an assisted living home. He had never married, had no children, and had watched as his family and friends died over a period of time. He now needed some help with the basic necessities of life and had no one to turn to. What was he to do?

My friend contacted him about an item he wanted to buy and, when my friend got to the man’s house, the fellow shared his story. My friend told me ” I just bought 4 lamps I don’t need, in an attempt to help this guy out. Please write a book that can offer advice to people who are heading towards situations like this one, so that they can avoid it.”

To do this, I need your help. If you know someone with a story to tell or advice to offer, please ask him or her to post a comment on my blog at www.suddenlysingletips.com I will not identify the contributor in the book, though I will thank him or her in my acknowledgements section. Thanks so much for passing this blog posting along to your friends. I am working on making my social media presence stronger, and appreciate all of your help!

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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