A Closer Connection in 2019

The relationship between mothers and daughters is complex and filled with nuances. And while some may enjoy a picture-perfect bond of warmth, security, and mutual understanding, most of us have had times when we just wish we knew how to connect without conflict.

Mother-daughter relationships naturally undergo major change when the daughter transitions to adulthood, and the changes can seem even more jarring as Mom ages. Sometimes, there’s a long history of conflict or disagreement that becomes enlarged as Mom needs her daughter’s help and care.

At times, when the roles of nurturing and care giving seem to reverse, both mother and daughter can be left at a loss with how to relate to one another. Here are a few tips on how to reset your relationship with Mom, and get started on building a closer, healthier connection this year:

Realistic expectations

“My mother tries to control my choices and my life.”

“My daughter has no respect for my wishes!”

Many daughters imagine that a mother should be a constant, unending source of support and unconditional love. Many moms tend to view their daughters as extensions of their own hopes and dreams. Remembering that both you and your mom are individuals in your own rights can help in maintaining realistic expectations of what each of you can and cannot do.

Sometimes communicating means having that tough conversation. “Mom, I feel criticized when you disapprove of my choice of career.” “Mom, I know you feel that I haven’t spent enough time with you lately. I’d like to apologize and explain…” Remember to discuss problems calmly and with sensitivity. If you’ve had an argument, try to resolve the issue quickly before it has a chance to fester and grow into a more serious rift.

Be quick to forgive.

When Mom seems to always be criticizing your lifestyle, your choices, or even your taste in clothing, keep in mind she’s doing it with your best interests at heart. A mother cares so deeply for her child that she will go to any lengths to give her the best of everything – even when what she thinks is best for you is eons away from what you actually choose as best for yourself!

Be a good listener.

As Mom ages, it can be difficult for her to come to terms with new limitations or dependencies. She may feel that you’re too busy for her, or that you’re moving on without her. She may be fearful of the future, sad over the past, or depressed that she can no longer care for herself.

Be sensitive to her feelings, and devote time to listening and validating her place in your life.

The only behavior you can change is your own.

As in every relationship, you can’t control what Mom says or doesn’t say to you – you can only control what your own reaction will be. When Mom makes an angry or insensitive comment, you can choose to reciprocate with hurtful words of your own, or you can make the decision to react with compassion and empathy.

Remember that it’s not easy to be a care recipient. Whether you are the direct caregiver or your mom is at a nursing home, she feels vulnerable and maybe even humiliated. This can cause her to react more strongly than she means to, and the ball is in your court to prevent it from escalating.

Balance individuality and closeness.

The basis of every rewarding relationship is healthy boundaries. Don’t be afraid of pulling back a bit if you feel Mom has overstepped hers – and at the same time, remind her that you will always remain her loving and devoted daughter.

Malnutrition in Seniors—Know the Signs

A growing concern in the senior population is the problem of malnutrition. Malnutrition occurs when an individual’s diet fails to provide proper nutrition for the human body to maintain good health. This doesn’t always mean that there is a lack of food; many times malnutrition can result from consistently poor food choices.

Signs and Dangers of Malnutrition

Malnutrition in seniors can result in many health problems. Take notice this holiday season and look out for these common symptoms and results of malnutrition:

  • Weight loss
  • Unusual bruising or injuries that don’t seem to heal on their own
  • Muscle weakness, making the senior more susceptible to dangerous falls
  • Memory loss or cognitive decline
  • A weakened immune system, which can lead to getting sick more often, and cause minor illnesses to develop into more serious problems.

Malnutrition in seniors can stem from a number of causes. These include:

  • Oral, digestive, or general health problems. Many seniors may suffer from health issues that require restricted diets, and the foods they are allowed may be unappetizing or bland. They may have oral or dental problems that make chewing and swallowing difficult.
  • Decreased mobility. A senior with decreased mobility or declining fine motor skills may find it difficult to navigate the kitchen to prepare meals, and may resort to low-nutrition packaged snacks. Additionally, an individual suffering from dementia may forget to prepare meals, or may even lack the ability to venture out to a grocery to buy healthful foods.
  • Loss of appetite due to social isolation, depression, or medication. If an individual fails to take an interest in food, he or she will tend to choose easily accessible foods that don’t need to be prepared, which are often over-processed and lacking in proper nutrition. For example, he or she may choose to eat cookies or packaged snacks rather than taking the time to cook a proper chicken dinner, because it requires less effort. A senior living on his own may feel that preparing meals to eat alone requires too much effort. Additionally, some medications can lead to decreased appetite.
  • Financial constraints. Many seniors who are no longer working may no longer have the funds to purchase healthy foods, and may opt instead for cheaper, less nutritious choices.

How to Prevent Malnutrition

Help combat malnutrition in your senior by taking these steps:

  • Make mealtimes an enjoyable time. For a senior who has lost interest in preparing meals due to social isolation, try to arrange for friends or relatives to visit at mealtimes, or to have their meals at senior centers. If your loved one is restricted to unappealing foods, experiment with new spices, colors, and variety, and choose snacks that are nutrient-rich, such as nuts and cheeses.
  • Exercise and the outdoors can help increase appetite. Encourage your senior to engage in light activities such as walking. This can help with feelings of social isolation as well.
  • Ask your loved one about his/her eating habits, and try to ensure that there are always nutritious options at hand.
  • Always discuss medications with a doctor or pharmacist, and be aware if they may lead to loss of appetite or digestive problems.
  • Many communities have resources and programs for seniors, such as Meals on Wheels, which can help your senior with providing proper meals.

If you think you see symptoms of malnutrition in your loved one, always discuss your concerns with a healthcare provider.  Malnutrition can be difficult to detect, but can lead to a myriad of health problems over time. A doctor can identify underlying causes and can provide you with individual guidance and strategies to care for your loved one in the best way possible.

Manage the Holidays While Caring for Your Loved One with Dementia

We’re well into holiday season, and your to-do list probably feels like a mile long. You have gifts to buy (don’t forget your loved one’s incredible nurses and aides at Regency!), family dinners to plan, cards to send, and so much more.

The holiday season can sometimes feel frantic, but it’s also lots of fun. Is it as enjoyable for your loved one with dementia?

Whether or not your loved one lives with you, the hustle and bustle of this jolly season can be stressful. People with dementia need stability and routine, and any slight change can be very disorienting to them.

Here’s how you can help them weather the holiday season calmly—while keeping yourself sane:

Keep to routine

Staying on schedule is the best possible gift you can give your loved one with dementia during the holidays. If your loved one is an LTC resident, visit them at the same time you always do. This may be hard with all the extra errands you have to do, but try to keep to it as much as possible.

Include them in your preparations

Ask your loved one to help you decorate the table, bake cookies, taste test a recipe, or anything else they can do on their own. They’ll feel included and needed and part of the holiday cheer.

Reminisce with them

Many people feel nostalgic around the holidays, and people with dementia feel it even more. Listen to their stories of holidays past, and talk about some of your own favorite Christmas memories. Keep an eye out though, for blurring of past and present. If your loved one starts looking around for family members who have passed, or become anxious, change the subject to the current holiday.

Say “no” to nonessential tasks

The holidays are a time for giving, and if you can step outside your comfort zone to give a little more that is certainly great. However, you must remember that you’re a caregiver—and you can only give care when your own tank is filled up.

The holidays are for enjoying family time together, so remember to stop, enjoy the time, and take shortcuts in order to stay as present as possible.

National Family Caregivers Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month, and today we’d like to raise awareness about family caregiving.

Check out these astounding family caregiving statistics from caregiver.org:

  • About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months.
  • The majority of caregivers (82%) care for one other adult, while 15% care for 2 adults, and 3% for 3 or more adults.
  • About 15.7 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
  • The value of services provided by informal caregivers has steadily increased over the last decade, with an estimated economic value of $470 billion in 2013, up from $450 billion in 2009 and $375 billion in 2007.
  • The economic value of the care provided by unpaid caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias was $217.7 billion in 2014.
  • 65% of care recipients are female, with an average age of 69.4.
  • Upwards of 75% of all caregivers are female, and may spend as much as 50% more time providing care than males.

Here at Regency Nursing, we are so proud of our incredible family members who make sure to stay involved in their loved one’s care. While they’ve entrusted their loved one to our care, they stay hands on and involved every day.

We’ve written about caregivers in the past, and we invite you to take a look at our archives for tips and advice for the unpaid family caregiver.

Here are some articles to get you started:

Male Caregivers: An Overlooked Population

Why You Should Join a Caregiver Support Group

Prevent Caregiver Burnout

Who Will Care For The Caregiver?

What is Respite Care?

Take a Break From Stress

Let us know in the comments what else you want to see on our blog for and about caregivers.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Caregiving Children: Don’t Neglect Your Own Long-Term Care

Dear Adult Children of Regency Nursing Residents,

First of all, we want to tell you we think you’re incredible. You come to visit as often as you can, you make sure your parent receives the care and compassion he or she deserves, and you handle any issue that comes up with composure and devotion.

You chose Regency Nursing because you love your parent and wanted the best for them. We’re deeply honored that your loved one is here with us.

But today, let’s talk about you and your future.

You know only too well how expensive aging can be. Your income is fixed, your health is declining, and the medical costs keep piling up. There are co-payments for drugs, hospital stays, doctor’s visits, and procedures. Not everyone can get on Medicaid, and if you need skilled nursing care, well, let’s hope you have a 3-day qualifying hospital stay so Medicare will cover it.

And of course, you know that custodial care—that is, non-skilled long-term nursing care—isn’t covered by Medicare at all. Nursing home stays in New Jersey average $100,000 a year. Will you be able to shoulder these costs in your retirement?

Dear friend, you may be perfectly healthy and feel a world away from facing these financial challenges. But the time to plan is now. Experts say it’s never too early to start planning for long-term care, and starting in your 50s, or even 60s, isn’t too late.

Here are two ways to fund your own long-term care that you might want to explore:

Long-Term Care Insurance

Traditional Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance  is a separate insurance policy that covers home, hospice, nursing home, and assisted living care. You may also be able to add an LTC rider to a new or existing life insurance plan.

Self-Fund Your Long-Term Care

You can prepare for your LTC needs using a reverse mortgage, annuity, or trust. If you’re young enough, you can also start saving now using a high-interest account or stock portfolio.

We urge you to sit down with your financial planner to explore your options as soon as possible. You know the costs—both financial and emotional—of long-term health problems. You know these challenges are almost always an inevitable part of aging. Why wait?

For more information, check out this page from the Administration on Aging: LongTermCare.gov Costs & How to Pay

Thank you for partnering with us in caring for your loved one, and we wish you a wonderful weekend!

Regency Nursing


Why You Should Join a Caregiver Support Group

Over 34 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult aged 50 or over in the last year. (Source) Nearly three-quarters of them are women, and they tend to spend at least 50% of their time caring for their loved one.

It can be tough and isolating as you devote your time and energy to caring for your elderly loved one. But if you’re a caregiving child, spouse, or other relative, you’re in good company. Seeking out other caregivers can help you feel less alone.

Caregiver support groups are a great way to meet other caregivers, share ideas and resources, and commiserate with people who actually know what you’re going through.

Benefits of Support Groups for Caregivers

We’ve talked before about preventing caregiver burnout, and joining a support group can help with that. The other members of your support group can provide invaluable resources and information, as well as an objective look at how you’re doing and how close to burning out you are.

Here are the top benefits of joining a caregiver support group:

  • Meeting with others in your situation will help you feel less lonely or isolated.
  • Support groups are non-judgmental environments where members don’t question your devotion to your care recipient.
  • Members of your support group can help you deal with the feelings of guilt, helplessness, anger, frustration, or other emotions that develop while caregiving.
  • Participating in a support group will provide valuable resources to help you feel more empowered and in control.
  • Your stress levels will go down when you have a supportive group of people rooting for you and providing information.
  • You’ll develop a clearer understanding of your loved one’s condition and prognosis, from people who have “been there, done that.”
  • Support groups are gold mines of practical advice, information about treatment options, reviews of hospitals, doctors, and long-term care facilities, and insurance problems.
  • You’ll improve your quality of life and your ability to care for your loved one.
  • With the help of your support group, you may be able to keep your loved one at home longer. And when it becomes time to move the patient to a skilled nursing facility, your group can help you deal with your conflicting emotions of guilt and relief.
  • Your experience with caregiving can help others just starting out in the caregiving journey.

Where to Find Local Support Groups

First check with your local hospital or community center; they should have a complete list of all local groups. Many nursing facilities or adult day care centers will host support groups, so that’s also a good place to look. For instance, our own Regency Gardens in Wayne hosts a monthly support group for people who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

If you’re looking for a group that focused on your loved one’s specific conditions, check the websites associated with that condition. For example, the American Cancer Society has a searchable listing of local resources, including caregiver support groups, on their website.

Other common websites include:

While in-person meetings are the most beneficial, there are also countless facebook groups and online support groups for caregivers. If you find you really can’t get out to a weekly or monthly meeting, this might be a good substitute. Check here for a list of online support groups: https://www.seniorly.com/resources/articles/online-caregiver-support-groups

However you choose to get your support, joining a group will help you navigate the challenges of caregiving.