~Welcome to Hardy Wilson Ink~ Organizing and Managing the Aging Process

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coverV01--KindleYou need this book IF:

 

  •  You are responsible for managing the care of an Aging Parent, Partner, or Friend
  • You need to know what resources and options are available to support the Aging Process
  • You need to know how to address age – related limitations
  • You need to simplify and organize the Aging Process
  • You want to have all information and options pertinent to you or your loved one in one place, i.e. this “Book”
  • You want to understand and plan ahead for your own aging process
  • You believe that exploring all options and making informed decisions BEFORE they become necessary is a smart course of action.

 

CURRENT PUBLICATIONS

In its first release, Aging Loved Ones: A Guide to Organizing and Managing the Aging Process, is now available in paperback and electronic versions.  The book may be purchased from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com in North America, and Amazon in the U.K. and Europe. It is also available from selected local bookstores across North America.

Aging Loved Ones is a guide.  Throughout the text, are a series of information sheets that enable the reader to personalize the material to his/her situation.  To facilitate the completion of specific (those relevant to your situation) information sheets,  we have made a set of them available from this site.  You may wish to read the entire book before filling out any personal information.  Or, you may wish to initially focus on those areas specific to your immediate needs. This is your guide; use it to prompt thoughts and ideas, record pertinent information and permanently store the journey you will share with your loved one(s).

Hardy Wilson Ink welcomes your feedback.  Please feel free to address any comments or suggestions to us under the contact section of this site.

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Grandparent Scam: Scammers Target The Elderly

Grandparent Scam

Unfortunately, this grandparent scam is currently popular with phone scam artists.

Scammers call to say that a grandchild has been involved in an accident, been arrested, or fallen ill while travelling in a foreign land. Doctors, the hospital, or lawyers are asking for money.  The grandparent must send a specific amount of money to ensure that the grandchild is able to come home safely.

Unwittingly, the victim may mention the grandchild’s name, usually trying to find out which grandchild is involved. The caller continues with the scam emphasizing the difficult situation and their willingness to help.  The grandparent becomes upset and, grateful for their help. They agree to forward the money.

In addition to the emotional trauma of believing someone dear to them is in danger, realizing that they have become a victim of fraud can be very upsetting.

To avoid becoming a victim of this grandparent scam, your loved ones need to know about this type of phone call and what to do if they are targeted.

Topics to Discuss to Avoid Becoming a Victim

  • Make them aware there are scammers who try to elicit money from older folks
  • Encourage them to hang up the phone
  • If they think the call may be legitimate, tell them to have the caller contact a family member
  • Tell them NEVER to give their bank account or credit card information to any caller
  • Tell them NEVER to forward money to any caller
  • Tell them NEVER to provide their social security number or other identifying information to any caller
  •  Encourage them to share this information with their friends.

If your loved ones are unable to understand the potential danger of this or other scams, then speak with your telephone provider to ensure that all calls go directly to voice mail. Very few scammers using ‘emotion-driven’ money schemes will leave a detailed message on a recording. 

A further precaution would be for you or another family member to access the recorded calls on a daily basis. Encourage your loved one to return only legitimate calls.

This may work for folks who live in a residential setting and are surrounded with other seniors and caregivers.  However, some elderly people who do not live with family or in a group setting, welcome a phone call and will go to great lengths to answer promptly.  It may be the only outside contact they have that day.

Make sure they know

  • Not all callers have their best interests at heart
  •  If they don’t recognize the caller, they MUST hang up immediately
  • If they share bad news, they MUST hang up immediately
  • If they ask for money they MUST hang up immediately

They can tell the caller to call another family member, or take a number so that a family member can return the call. If they have trouble understanding or resist, tell them you could arrange for their calls to go directly to a recording.

Unfortunately, your loved ones are vulnerable to this grandparent scam as well as other scams.

Awareness is the best defense against becoming a victim

Take the time to discuss the risk of being targeted and help them to understand how to avoid becoming a victim of the grandparent scam and other frauds.

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Seniors Are Targets of Robbery or Theft

Seniors are targets of robbery

Unfortunately, seniors are targets of robbery or theft. Some dishonest people prefer a more direct and personal approach to robbery. Not long ago, a thief was apprehended going through private residents’ rooms, in a Senior Citizen’s Home. Dressed as a Health Care worker, she proceeded to work her way through the apartments, stealing items of value. Her picture continues to be posted on bulletin boards through the building, as a caution to residents who might see a stranger entering rooms not their own.

Discuss Robbery and Theft

Share this story with your loved ones, asking what they would do if they witness someone (regardless of ‘uniform’) entering someone’s room. Guide the discussion to

  • Reporting it to someone in charge – security, a familiar nurse, the front desk – right away.
  • Remind your loved one that their role is NEVER to apprehend the person, engage them in any conversation, or even make eye contact. Their role is to report their suspicions to the appropriate person(s) and let them deal with the intrusions.

Your loved one may raise the question of what would happen if they interrupt a thief upon entering their own room. They should

  • Activate their medical alert button
  • Quietly leave their room and head directly to a room they know is occupied
  • Call security, the front desk or whomever is ‘on duty’ that day.

Discuss What Action To Take

It is important for your loved one to know

  • Who to call in such a situation.
    • If they live on their own, is it a neighbour, friend, or family member?
    • If they reside in a retirement or care home, the number(s) to call for immediate assistance.
    • Activate their medical alert system.

Aging Loved Ones: A Guide to Organizing and Managing the Aging Process, strongly recommends having your loved one wear a medical alert system to ensure their safety when they are alone. In many residential retirement/care homes, the medical alert system is activated internally – generally at the front desk or with security. This may be offered as a complimentary service to residents.

At the end of the section When Independence is Not Enough, (page 103) in Aging Loved Ones: A Guide to Organizing and Managing The Aging Process, there are some blank tables to help you select alternative accommodation for your aging loved one. These tables encourage you to determine what services you or your aging loved one require and whether there is a fee for such service. As noted at the beginning of the Book, all the Information Pages or Charts accompanying each chapter, may be downloaded from the Website: www.hardywilsonink.com .

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Beware of Scams Targeting Seniors

Discuss scams targeting seniors

There are many scams targeting seniors and others who remain at home most of the day. These can take the form of a warm, friendly call inviting participation in a variety of seemingly worthy causes. Others can be a serious warning or even a threat for what will happen if the person doesn’t respond by calling a particular number.

It is important for to talk with our loved ones to let them know about and better understand that these calls or letters are most likely fraud – just dishonest people (or organizations) wanting to take advantage of others. There have been reports of honest, unsuspecting folks ‘donating to’, paying for, or supporting various frauds in the amount of thousands of dollars.

To avoid frightening your loved ones, you may want to approach the possibility of people wanting to take advantage of others in a general sense. Ask your loved one for their thoughts and suggestions on how to avoid becoming a victim of scams and other fraudulent behavior.

Apart from cautioning and reminding your loved ones of these scams, you’ll want to protect your loved ones from trickery and fraud. Talk to your telephone provider about blocking suspicious phone numbers. Install an answering machine or voice mail, so any message left will be recorded, and can be checked if fraudulent. Often these callers will not leave a message. Some calls can be very frightening and even threaten legal action if the person doesn’t take the proper action. NEVER call this number back! Report the call or letter to the appropriate authority.

Talk with your loved ones about scams targeting seniors

Encourage your loved one to discuss any unusual letter they receive with you, no matter how familiar or legitimate it may look. Many of older people have a healthy respect for the companies they deal with.  It’s natural for them to respond politely when a letter from a familiar company arrives in the mail.

I will be posting specifics about a number of the more common scams targeting seniors. Talk with your loved ones about these to be sure they understand these aren’t legitimate requests. If there is any doubt that they either do not understand, are so glad to receive a phone call or letter that they do not want to understand, or simply will not remember your warning, you may need to take steps to make sure such scams don’t reach your loved ones.

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Life Experiences Make Us Who We Are

Our life experiences shape us and make us the person who we are.

When dealing with others it’s important to recognize and respect our differences.

Life Experiences

Life Experiences

It is important to realize that the joys and challenges we experience in life help to form the choices and the decisions we make in later life.  Your loved one may have experienced times of shortages or times of abundance.  Each of these will impact how they view money and/or financial responsibilities.  Occasionally we’ll post stories shared by readers of Aging Loved Ones: A Guide to Organizing and Managing the Aging Process.

I share these stories, with permission, to alert you to concerns that may arise in your situation.  I also invite you to share your stories that may help other readers who find themselves in similar situations.

A daughter shared the following:

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‘While searching for a kitchen towel in Mother’s home, I discovered a small drinking glass that held 16 Coumadin pills (I counted them) that my Mom had saved from her blister pack of medications.’

(A blister pack is a covered package detailing the time of day each pill is to be taken.  It is packaged by the pharmacist (at the request of a doctor) when a prescription is filled or refilled.  If a prescription changes, a new blister pack is created when the doctor calls in or writes an amended/new prescription).

‘I asked my Mom about the pills.  She was not happy that I’d found them and reluctantly explained that if she skipped a pill every other day, she would have enough to give the pharmacist so he could use them in the next blister pack thereby saving money.  I explained that Coumadin was a blood thinner the doctor had prescribed to keep her blood flowing freely.

The lab came in regularly to ensure her blood reflected the correct dosage.  Therefore, if she skipped pills, the lab results would be inaccurate and her dosage could be increased. I could tell that she wasn’t interested in this explanation until I threw the 16 pills in the garbage.  She was very angry even though I assured her that she had no reason to worry about money.  She agreed that she wouldn’t do it again, however, I visited her pharmacist, explained the situation, and requested that he tell her he couldn’t use the pills to supplement the next blister pack – if she did it again.

I tried to remain calm during this but the implications were frightening.  I alerted the rest of my family members who visited Mom to check her blister pack to ensure pills were being taken at the appropriate time AND to check around in case a little glass was being used to store the unused pills.’

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Above All Else – Communicate

 

It’s important that we talk with our loved ones and try to understand their reasoning. That gives us a better chance to explain things in a way that they may understand and comply with, even if they don’t agree.

It’s important to keep the communication channels open and respect our differences and differing life experiences.

 

 

 

 

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Couple Relationship: Independence, Dependence, or Compensation?

couple relationship

The couple relationship brings a whole new dimension to independence. Each one can be more or less independence than the other. They probably depend on each other in several areas.

While promoting our Book at a local show, a middle-aged woman shared an experience she had while reading it.

‘My husband and I were working our way through Aging Loved Ones: A Guide to Organizing and Managing the Aging Process’ when we came to a ‘Caution’  included in the section, ‘This Thing Called Independence’ that neither of us had considered.’  (p.29)

Be aware that some couples will cover for one another’s limitations.  It is only when one becomes seriously ill or dies that family members discover how much the well-being of the survivor has deteriorated.

‘We paused at this point for a frank discussion of how each of us was compensating for the other and, perhaps, setting the stage for one of us (or both) to be unable to perform tasks we had allowed the other to assume.  It was an ‘aha’ for both of us as we continued to plan for our aging process.’

Driving is one of the first ‘adult’ things most of us learn. However, in many cases, especially after we have been married for awhile, we develop the habit of hopping into the passenger seat, leaving the joys, challenges and often the maintenance of operating a vehicle to another.  Times change as do the drivers with whom we share the road.  Sheer volume has necessitated that two-lane roads be converted to multi-lane highways, complete with over passes, multiple lane changes, and a plethora of directional signs.  Getting from A to B, a straightforward task several years ago, has now become an exercise in strategic planning, an ability to make decisions quickly, and the alertness to constantly be aware of what the other drivers are doing.  This is definitely not the place for someone who has not been ‘behind the wheel’ for several years.

Driving is not the only activity we consciously or unconsciously ‘delegate’ to our partners.  Financial responsibilities such as bill payment, annual taxes, and investment decisions are often assumed by the one most computer savvy.  The partner may not even be aware of the basics s/he will need to know should s/he suddenly have to assume full responsibility for all transactions.

These are just two areas where it is quite common for one to take the lead while the other understands that either their partner is more comfortable with this activity or it has simply evolved that way.   Unless there is a physical, mental or emotional reason why this is so, it may be time for the other partner to return to driving some of the time to regain that skill or to rekindle their lost confidence.  Similarly, if one performs all financial transactions, it is definitely time for the other to be at least an observer of why, how and when these occur.  In time, s/he should experience performing the activities him/herself.

You may want to initiate with, and/or encourage discussions between, your loved ones (even if age-related limitations are not obvious) to identify any areas where one has assumed responsibility for a task, such as driving, financial management, home maintenance, etc., with the unspoken agreement of his/her partner.  It may very well be doing a disservice to both.  As well as supporting such discussions, you may want to encourage ways to increase inclusion of both parties in significant activities.  A working knowledge of key responsibilities may help to offset or at least minimize the trauma and fear of suddenly finding oneself in total control of his/her own life and, in some circumstances, the management and well-being of a loved one’s life as well.

When evaluating your loved ones, don’t forget to look beyond the couple relationship to the evaluate each individual on their own as well.

 

 

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Resources for an Independent Lifestyle

independent lifestyleYou and your loved ones would like to live life as normally as possible. There are resources to help you and your loved one have an independent lifestyle as long as possible.

Life is filled with gaps – the space between where we are and where we need to be.  For instance, when we plan a trip we explore many options before choosing to fly or drive, opt for a cruise or experience a local train.  There are many decisions you need to make before your plan begins to take shape.  Generally you explore all options before you make a choice – giving you time to consider not only which option would be best for you but, as well, when you would need it.

If you are responsible for the care of an aging loved one who wishes to live independently for as long as possible, it is wise to identify and explore the various resources available to support an independent lifestyle as early as possible – hopefully before such support is required.

It is also important (whenever possible) to include your loved one(s) in this planning process – after all, it is their future you are considering.  This way, when age-related limitations begin to show, your loved one(s) (and you) are less afraid of unknown consequences.  They understand the options available to them and how to access them.  Most important, they know that they do not take this journey alone.

Change, especially one that is not their choice, is often accompanied with fear

  • fear of losing their ability to choose for themselves
  • fear of what will happen if they cannot do those things they’ve always done
  • fear of losing control of their own lives

Discussing the various resources that are available to them will help your aging loved one understand that there are ways to compensate for many age-related limitations while maintaining independence.  Gradually, these discussions may include the various options available should independent living not be a viable option anymore.  These discussions, may help to alleviate a lot of the fear and uncertainty of the future when changes become necessary.

You know your loved one well and understand how receptive they will be to such discussions.  Use natural opportunities to initiate an informal chat about future ‘concerns’.  Draw on their experiences with friends, neighbors, etc., to ask questions about how your loved one feels about choices made.

In the ‘This Thing Called Independence’ section of Aging Loved Ones: A Guide to Organizing and Managing the Aging Process, you may find the Closing the Gap Action Sheet© (p 39-41), helpful to identify areas that may need support or action.  These Action Sheets are available on the website as well.

 

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Track Age-Related Limitations

Motorized wheelchair user

Our bodies are constantly changing and we start to notice age-related limitations. As we age some activities become more difficult than they used to be.  Aches and pains develop in places that used to be free moving.

Often these changes are very subtle – at first.  We adapt and compensate.

  • Use a railing when walking downstairs
  • Step carefully when leaving a sidewalk
  • Hesitate to climb on a stool to reach thigh shelves. 
  • Strides shorten
  • Routine tasks take more time
  • Others are abandoned all together

Unless there is a sudden or remarkable change in behaviors, adjustments are made without us realizing that one or more age-related limitations has become the ‘new normal’.  Gradually, bodies slow down.

One of the goals of Aging Loved Ones: A Guide to Organizing and Managing the Aging Process, was to identify various options of maintaining independence as long as possible.  To begin such a challenge, it is necessary to understand what’s true right now.  We need a base line.  We need to know what  ‘normal’ is today.

It’s important to track age-related changes.

The Record of Change© was created to provide a simple system to monitor changes in mental, physical, or emotional health.  The multi-page chart found on pg. 36-38 (which can also be downloaded from this website) lists several categories where specific activities can be monitored and any change noted under  ‘Normal’, ‘Subtle Changes’, or ‘Warning Signs’.

For example, should you notice that your loved one isn’t eating as well or as often as ‘usual’, or begins to forget important appointments, or decides that bathing is just too much of a bother, you will have a record of what is normal for them and monitor changes accordingly.

It is very important that you and your loved one discuss the Record of Change© together, adding activities or other categories important to either or both of you.  Presenting the discussion of the form as a joint activity may help to eliminate or at least minimize the fear associated with facing the possibility of age-related limitations and the potential loss of independence.

Once you notice subtle changes in behavior(s), you and your loved one can discuss a variety of options to compensate for identified age-related limitations before they become a ‘new normal’ or lead to confusion or injury.

 

 

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