Jennifer Meagher RN is the owner of Senior Life LLC, Advocates and  Consultants. Meagher founded and oversees the Better Business Partners  Serving Seniors. She is on the Alzheimer’s Advocacy Committee and has specialized in geriatrics since 1998. She is called on by doctors, attorneys,  and financial advisors to care for their clients and their families. Contact Jennifer  at www.SeniorLifeGCM.com.




Caring for mom is breaking daughter’s back

Dear Jennifer,

I’m writing because my wife and I are worn right out – especially my wife. We have her mom living here with us in the back parlor room. We wouldn’t have her anywhere else. But caring for her is out and out labor. We lift her and change her and shower her. She’s about 180 pounds and my wife’s back is starting to give out and my knees complain to me every day. My wife’s doctor told her she’s got to rest her back. Is there any outfit that could come by and give us a break for a week or something like that? She’s on Medicare and she’s got a little nest egg tucked away but it isn’t much. We don’t want her anywhere but home, but I don’t want us wearing down faster than her. I’d be much obliged for any recommendations you have.

Yours Truly,

Dear Mel,

Good for you on both counts; taking care of your mother in law and recognizing you need a break. Your options are:

1. You might hire helpers to stay with mom around the clock and go on a retreat, get away. Relax.  These could be private hires or through a home care agency.

2. Or, just for a week or two, sign your mother in law up for what’s called a “respite” stay in assisted living. It would only be short term, but you could each relax with the peace of mind that she’s safe and receiving care.

3. After you take your break, you might want to consider hiring a helper to stay with mom overnight so you can rest, or during the day so you can get away.
Please, it is just as important to care for yourself as it is for you to care for your mother. I’m not so much telling you this (I think you understand it) as I am stressing this point to my readers. When the caregivers become ill or incapable of caring for their elder loved one there are two people in crisis. It is best care to elders to take care of yourself as well.



1. Walkers should be the correct height; if they are not, there is more possibility of body strain and falls. When the elder is standing next to the walker with his/her hands at their side, the level of the wrist should match the level of the hand grips. In the winter weather use walkers which allow for ice grips to be attached to the legs for outdoor walking.

2. Good shoes are a must. This means no open toes or heels. Good soles. Good fit. In other words: wear either Walking or Orthopedic shoes.  Do not allow an unsteady or frail elder to walk in socks or smooth slick bottomed footwear – a fall can start an uncontrolled decline.

3. Transfer Belts – These may be purchased from a medical supply store, or you may use a sturdy leather style belt fit snuggly around your elder’s waist. This is a great “handle” when there is steadiness problems. When you walk with the elder, you hang onto the belt to help maintain balance. Do not attempt to lift a person out of a complete fall. You may be able to steady imbalance, but “catching” someone who is already falling will result in injury to you, and may disrupt the fall, creating more injury to the elder.

4. Draw Sheets – this is merely a sheet, folded over in the middle, and put across the bed; untucked. It should cross the bed at shoulder height and knee height of the person who lies in the bed. If one person stands on one side of the bed and another stands on the other, grasp the draw sheet and lift it to move the elder higher in the bed. The same can be done in overstuffed or recliner chairs where the elder slides down in the chair. Use extreme caution not to tip the chair.

5. A lightly powdered bed makes for easier turning of your loved one when dampness is an issue.

6. Shampoo caps are available in medical supply stores and online.  They look like shower caps, but are impregnated with shampoo. Moistened the inside of the cap. Put it on the elder’s head, massage the cap. Remove the cap. Dry the hair. Done!

7. Easy on- Easy off clothes. This can vary from button or snap shirts or dresses to Velcro closures that allow the clothing to be applied in a wheelchair, bed, or standing.

8. Lift Chairs – who hasn’t heard of them? You might check advertisements for used chairs, purchase the floor model, or get a prescription from your doctor on the chance your insurance will cover a portion of the price. Also, beware; if the elder’s legs are too weak, it is possible they will buckle using the lift chair and result in injury. It is best to get a lift chair with a physical therapist recommendation.

9. Grab bars and more grab bars: at the toilet, shower, sinks and steps.

10. Bed rails to prevent a fall and assist in sitting up.
There are too many products to list them all here. I hope some of these are helpful.

NOTE WELL:  If you need # 3, 4, or 5; please do not leave your loved one alone at any time: your loved one needs someone there to not only help him or her move about, but as safety should there be any form of emergency. Leaving a loved one all alone who cannot manage alone, is negligence and reportable to authorities.



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Brain Workout Trivia

What is the common bond between these entertainment stars:  Elvis Presley, singer Marlon Jackson of the Jackson 5, TV celebrity Ed Sullivan, and Las Vegas pianist and entertainer Liberace?
a. all were left handed
b. all were afraid of swimming
c. none of them could drive a car
d. all had twin brothers who died either at birth or shortly thereafter

Brain Workout Trivia is the brainchild of John C Sproul
For more trivia visit www.funtrivia.com

The correct answer is "D". Elvis Presley's twin brother Jesse Garon Presley was delivered stillborn just before Elvis was born. Ed Sullivan's twin brother Daniel died just a few months after he was born. Ed eventually hosted the longest-running TV variety program in history, which featured acts like the Supremes, the Beatles, Jerry Lewis, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, The Jackson 5, Janis Joplin, The Rolling Stones, and The Mamas & the Papas. Singer Marlon Jackson of the Jackson 5 had a twin brother named Brandon who died within 24 hours of birth. Liberace was a child prodigy who was originally named Wladziu Valentino Liberace. His middle name was taken from one of his mother's favorite film stars--Rudolph Valentino. Just as in Elvis' case, Liberace had a twin brother who died at birth.