3 Easy Pumpkin Crafts for Halloween and Thanksgiving

Here are three fun and easy craft projects to do by yourself, with friends, or while visiting with the grandkids.

CONFESSIONS OF A PLATE ADDICT No-Sew Shirt Pumpkins

Easy No-Sew Shirt Pumpkins

Just check the closet or some local thrift shops for shirts in fall colors and stripes or patterns. With a little stuffing, burlap, and twine, you can transform some old duds into new cute pumpkins decorations for Halloween or Thanksgiving. It’s a great alternative to carving pumpkins!

Check out this site for a list of items you’ll need and directions with detailed pictures: https://sewlicioushomedecor.com/free-easy-sew-and-no-sew-fabric-pumpkin-tutorials/


fallversionPumpkins from Toilet Paper Rolls

So easy, inexpensive, and fast! Perfect for younger children. Takes only 5 minutes, boasts the author of this craft.

Essentially, you wrap a couple of plastic bags around and then tuck into the center of the toilet paper roll to give the ‘pumpkin’ some shape.

Then you wrap, pleat, and tuck some fabric and secure with a stick. A great way to keep some extra tissue on supply in the bath for guests, too!

Full instructions here: https://tinyurl.com/y4gm2sxx


3D Paper Pumpkin

Lastly, here’s a fun video that will show you have to create a 3D paper pumpkin with just some paper strips, glue, and pipe cleaners. It’s a great project to learn and teach the younger generations.

Whatever you do, we hope you have a very Happy (and safe) Halloween!!

How to Talk to a Loved One about Moving to Assisted Living

Talking to a loved one about moving to a community is usually a dreaded and difficult conversation. Ignoring the subject or being afraid of your loved one’s reaction and response is normal. However, if you are noticing cognitive changes in your loved one, it’s important to raise the subject before a crisis occurs. Once a crisis develops, you will find yourself and your family frantically searching for the right community for your loved one within a very short time frame. Thinking and speaking about long-term care needs with your loved one sooner rather than later may lead to a more collaborative discussion and hopefully avoid anger, fear, and accusations.

  1. Notice and track the changes.  If you start to see cognitive changes in a loved one, it’s time to pay attention. Consider keeping a journal with specific dates, times, and what happened.  Ask neighbors, family members, and friends if they have noticed anything. Often it’s someone else who will notice a change first but will be hesitant to say anything.
  2. Consider other conditions that might be causing dementia symptoms. Many physical conditions mimic dementia but are treatable, including urinary tract infections, diabetes, low blood sugar, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid issues, medication changes, depression, anxiety, and more. Engage your loved one’s primary care physician. Even if they can’t speak with you because of HIPAA, you can always speak with them. A good doctor will listen.
  3. Do some research.  What kind of help do you think your loved one needs? Medications? Cooking? Bathing? Do some research into the different types of care possible – independent care, assisted living, memory care, and in-home care. It’s possible with a few hours of in-home care your loved one can function in their own home longer.
  4. Step into your loved one’s shoes. Empathy is vital to success. Think about how your loved one is going to feel when you bring this topic up. Sadness, anxiety, fear, and anger are common reactions of a loved one. Remember there may be a feeling of grief for them – they are thinking about giving up their “home”, independence, and way of life.  While they may be in denial, it could also be their dementia getting in the way of understanding what is happening to them. And above all, remember they are not children. They are not only your parent or spouse – they are adults who have lived a very rich life which needs to be honored.
  5. Reach out for support. If at all possible, get your family on board. Family tension often rises with a dementia diagnosis of a loved one. Ideally, you want to all be on the same team. At this point, you should think if there is an unbiased third party that your loved one respects and will listen to. Often another person such as a doctor, clergy or close friend can help with the conversation and in some cases may be the best one to have the conversation with your loved one instead of you.
  6. Practice your language.  Role-play what you will say – don’t use words such as “nursing home” or “facility”. Instead, say “assisted living” and “community”. Be honest and thoughtful. Pay attention to your tone and body language. Use a calm and pleasant voice, and try to maintain one even though your loved one may become angry.  One of the goals is to discuss the issues and solve them as a team. And remember – it’s critical to validate how they are feeling about this conversation and a potential move.
  7. Decide where and when to have the conversation. Think about the day, time, and place that will work best for your loved one. Make sure neither one of you is in a hurry. Have this conversation at a time of day when your loved one is most alert. This should be a one-to-one conversation, or you can include the person you identified in step 5 above.  Too many people may make your loved one even more confused and defensive.
  8. Begin the conversation.  Try not to show anxiety – take 10 seconds and breathe deep. Begin by asking how they’ve been feeling. Have they noticed any changes? Are they worried about anything? This is when your log from step one will be useful. While it’s ok to give specific instances, don’t be accusing.
  9. Offer to go to the doctor with the person. Tell your loved one:
    • There are physical issues that can cause these symptoms that be treated.
    • Knowing now can help your loved one and you plan.
    • Seeing the doctor would help both of you with peace of mind.
  10. Recognize that this will take multiple conversations. Don’t dismiss the cognitive changes because the conversation was difficult or didn’t appear effective. You are asking your loved one to commit to a large disruption in their lives. They will need time to digest it.  Take the time between conversations to think about what went well, what didn’t, and plan for different approaches.

By Lisa Walts, MSW, LICSW – Social Worker at Cadbury Commons

Learn more about Cadbury Commons’ Community.

Ruminations For The Old-Old

Salmon struggle upstream, spawn, and die.
Mission accomplished.
We deliver pristine helpless infants
And life goes on.
Raising them to maturity
Working to retirement and beyond
As the miles accumulate on the odometer.

Parts persist beyond their warranty and need to be repaired
Or replaced if they are available.
Many mechanics and garages have fought
To contain the inexorable force of entropy.
We have become the “old-old”.
And come face to face with the end of life.
If wise, we have wills, medical proxies.
If not, we should.

But the key issue is not how to die. That’s easy.
The work of a moment. Everyone does it.
But how to live. How to justify our continued existence?
Nurture our family and friends
Share our strengths and comfort with them
Make new friends, don’t withdraw
Do things we never had time for or never thought of before.
Relish our days, even without our old mustard.

And consider, whatever happens, the earth will continue its orbit
Stars will still be created and die in infinite space.
Be proud of our attempts to understand and
Humbled by our insignificant role in the universe.
Be serene and accepting.

By Tom L.
Resident of Cadbury Commons

Seniors Staying Fit While Staying Safe with Virtual Exercise Classes

Boston area senior centers and local teachers have been offering online fitness classes for several months now, and it’s helping those most at risk during the pandemic. Seniors will find plenty of offerings, too: from meditation or yoga to Zumba strength training.

Even those some gyms and community centers may be opening back up, seniors who are still concerned about their vulnerability are opting to exercise from home. Here’s a list of live classes, videos, and resources from local teachers and groups.

NOTE: Schedules and availability subject to change. Be sure to check to verify offerings!

The Newton Senior Center

Virtual Class: Zumba with Ketty Rosenfeld
Time: Virtual Weekday at 11 a.m.
Cost: Donation Suggested
To Participate:
Download the Zoom application and email [email protected] to receive an access link.
Videos: Tai chi, muscle conditioning, and arthritis exercises at www.newtonseniors.org.

Milford Senior Center Weekly Fitness program

Virtual Classes: line dancing, strength and stretch, yoga, and more.
Instructors: Certified local fitness instructors
Time: 10:30 a.m. every weekday
To Participate:
Milford TV streams an exercise class on its channel and at milfordtv.net.

Chelsea Senior Center

Videos: warm-up, some cardiovascular drills, and strength training
Instructor: Karen Brannon
To Participate: Search Chelsea Senior Center on YouTube.

Hopkinton Senior Center

Virtual Classes: Tap, barre, bootcamp, and Zumba, chair yoga (Mon & Thurs)
Instructors: Rebecca Tredeau and Crystal Lee
Time: 2 PM weekdays
To Participate:
Contact assistant director Ashley Shaheen at [email protected] for more details, or connect with Tredeau directly through her Facebook group, Zoom-Fitness Classes LIVE with Rebecca!

Fenway Community Center

Virtual Classes: biweekly meditation, movement, and yoga
To Participate:
Requires a Gmail account. Access links are published on the updated calendar online. Visit fenwaycommunitycenter.org/calendar.

YMCA 360

Videos: series of taped classes on low-impact exercises for active older adults. Each of the six 20-30 minute programs focuses on weights, chair yoga, core strength, and more.
To Participate: visit ymca360.org.

The Malden Senior Center

Videos:  The center uploads a fitness video from local instructor Aimee Borda on its Facebook page each week.
To Participate: visit www.facebook.com/MaldenSeniorCommunityCenter.

Cambridge Council on Aging

Virtual Classes:  Yoga and Zumba, for Cambridge senior residents.
To Participate: call the COA at 617-349-6220 for information on how to sign up.

Autumn 2020 Expressive Arts

Compassion Fatigue – What is it?

Compassion fatigue is a well known occupational hazard for those in the caring profession. Read more

10 Wearable GPS Trackers for Seniors

GPS trackers help seniors and caregivers alike to help monitor and ensure safety for those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Wearable GPS trackers are designed for comfort, convenience, and emergency accessibility.

For seniors that may be prone to wandering, a GPS tracker can be a lifeline. Caregivers and loved ones can have peace of mind in knowing that a loved one can be quickly located independent of the police or Silver Alert Program.  Some of the latest wearable GPS trackers are discrete or appear to be a normal fashion accessory.

GPS Tracker Considerations

  • Monthly fees
    Because GPS devices use cellular technology, there are usually costs associated beyond the unit itself. There are some no-fee trackers but are not as sophisticated in their tracking abilities.
  • Bundles Features
    GPS watches, in particular, can double as fitness devices that provide health measurements. Safety features to consider include two-way calling, audio monitoring, and crucial SOS emergency buttons.
  • GPS Range
    Need a GPS tracker can track nationwide? Then a wearable device may not be for you. Investigate more conventional GPS trackers with longer range tracking.

 

1. Dynotag Web/GPS Enabled Pendant

  • Weatherproof stainless steel
  • GPS enabled
  • Lifetime subscription and storage included
  • Stores your information
  • Allows medical personnel to locate your home, even if you’re incapacitated

Price: $25.00


2. ERAY GPS Tracker Watch

  • Affordable
  • Durable aluminum alloy
  • Accompanying app
  • Make calls, live track individuals using the app, and send voice messages
  • Requires SIM card
  • Sleek design, complements clothing

Price: $26.99


3. Garmin vivofit Fitness Band

  • Stylish design, different colors available, customizable
  • Water-resistant
  • Long battery life
  • Doubles as a sleep monitor
  • Track fitness levels, including steps, calories

Price: $56.78


4. GPS SmartSole

  • Discreet, slips into your shoe
  • Come in three different sizes
  • Water-resistant design

Price: $299.99


5. JUNEO GPS Smart Watch Tracker

  • Affordable
  • Send messages without a complicated smartphone
  • Made with environmentally friendly materials
  • SOS button built-in
  • Uses a GSM SIM card
  • Accompanying app
  • Alarm activated if the watch falls off

Price: $26.12


6. Medical Guardian Freedom Smartwatch

  • GPS keeps you in range of emergency contacts (stored in the watch)
  • Designed specifically for seniors
  • Schedule medications, doctors appointments
  • Simple text messaging
  • Emergency SOS button
  • Water-resistant design
  • Touchscreen display

Price: $149.99


7. Mobvoi Ticwatch E Smartwatch

  • Polycarbonate case with silicone band
  • Fast charging
  • Battery lasts up to 1.5 days
  • Polycarbonate case
  • Built-in 300 mAh battery
  • Dustproof and water-resistant
  • GPS monitors route, and can help seniors get around and find their way home if lost

Price: $129.99


8. MX-LOCare Personal GPS Safety Watch

  • Installed SIM card works worldwide
  • Service plans start at $24.99 a month
  • Free iOS and Android smartphone app
  • Geofence functionality
  • Built-in listen-in mode allows you to hear audio around the watch – perfect for check ins

Price: $129.99


9. Padcod V16 Seniors Smart Watch

  • T-Mobile micro SIM card
  • Easy to read 1.22” OLED touchscreen large font display
  • Front-facing camera with speaker
  • Accurate GPS
  • Monitors sleep
  • Also serves as an altimeter, barometer, and thermometer

Price: $39.99


10. Invisawear Smart Jewelry

  • Double press back side of charm to send a text message with GPS location to five people.
  • Bluetooth Low Energy and free smartphone app
  • Optional 9-1-1 feature to share location with 9-1-1 dispatchers during an emergency.
  • Battery life is guaranteed to last up to one year but can last close to two years depending on the usage. 
  • No monthly fees or subscriptions, but when the battery dies, you need to purchase a replacement charm discounted at $65.
  • A 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
  • Other styles available on the Invisawear site

Price: $149.00

There are many other types of GPS trackers. In a future post, we’ll find some recommendations for more conventional and keychain devices.

In the meantime, please visit our Memory Care page to learn more about this living option at Cadbury Commons.

UPDATE: In our previous post, we featured the Samber GPS necklace, an item that was recently taken off Amazon in the US. A similar item under the name JINSERTA can be found at Dewpro.com.

 

Dementia and Dignity

Dementia and Dignity

Let’s be honest, people are terrified of dementia.  We work hard to hide a dementia diagnosis behind a wall of silence built with bricks of fear, shame and stigma, much like we spoke about cancer 40 years ago (you know, the Big “C”, in hushed voices), But with cancer, something changed along the way. We learned to talk openly and acknowledge the human experience of living with and possibly dying from cancer, and eventually having cancer became a “courageous battle” instead of a shameful illness.

As with cancer, society needs to find a new way to talk about dementia. We tend to focus on the end-stage of the disease,  conjuring up the image of a dying person who is now an “empty shell”.  But dementia has a beginning and a middle, and it’s vital to remember that people are LIVING with dementia.  Those with dementia struggle to be present in their lives, to work through the “fog”, to find humor in the scary and ugly moments, and to continue to live life and love to the fullest. It is a brave and serious fight. It is a DIGNIFIED fight.

So like with cancer, we need to change the image. And as we did with cancer, we have to look dementia in the eye in order to understand empathically how a person lives and loves in the presence of this disease.  It’s a challenge. It’s scary. And it’s what makes us human.

Learn more about Cadbury Commons’ Memory Care Neighborhood.

By Lisa Walts, MSW, LICSW – Social Worker at Cadbury Commons

Great Gadgets for Assisted or Independent Living Seniors

Independent living products for seniors on the market today are as innovative as they are helpful. Some also serve to bridge the digital generation gap so that seniors can retain a certain level of independence and confidence. Great gift ideas too!

Here is a list of our top 10 picks!

1. Automatic jar opener

The Hamilton Beach Open Ease Automatic Jar Opener makes quick work of those pesky jars, which can be extremely difficult for even young people. Helps seniors with arthritis or strength issues open all kinds of stubborn jars and bottles – even child-proof prescription bottles!


2.Electronic calendar for seniors


3. Temperature-activated flow reducer

Attach this anti-scald device, to a faucet or showerhead to ensure the water stays at a safe temperature. Easy to install – no plumber needed! Can be used in private & public housing, child care centers, hotels & nursing homes. Automatically shuts-off water to a trickle before scalding occurs!


4. Motion-activated toilet night light

Just when you thought you’ve seen everything! This motion-activated toilet night light illuminates the entire bathroom so you don’t have to waste energy with a night light or keep sleep-disrupted overhead lights turned on. The built in motion sensor detects body heat to automatically illuminate the room when you enter and shut off when you leave at night. And you can choose your color, too!


5. Rocking garden seat

Being outdoors and gardening is a wonderful pastime but can be physically demanding as we age. It’s especially hard on the knees and back. With the height-adjustable, patented Garden Rocker Seat, the contoured rocking base works with you while you are weeding, planting, or just performing routine chores around the home.


6. TV listening speaker

My mother swears by this speaker! With two hearing aids, she used to blast the volume, which can be annoying to other people in the home, neighbors, or even pets. The Serene Innovations Listening Speaker enables her to hear words clearly right next to her with adjustable audio levels. It’s also portable for when you’re thirsty but don’t want to miss the dialogue when getting a glass of water.


7. Simple big button remote control

Designed for seniors in mind, this remote uses big button text for easy-to-see use, even in the dark. It also includes a strong but comfortable wrist strap to prevent it from getting lost. The remote controls both the TV and cable box and programming is simple. Especially helpful to people with low or impaired vision.


8. Doorbell-telephone flashing-light signaler

Easy to install and operate, this wireless doorbell plugs into any standard wall outlet. Use it for front, side, or back doors to gain security and peace of mind. There is a variety of melodies to choose from, but the flashing light will always work even if you set the doorbell to silent-mode.


9. Portable walking cane / chair combo

Having the ability to sit and rest comfortably can make life much more enjoyable, and allows you to stroll longer and further. This lightweight portable walking chair gives you much-needed support when you need it the most. It’s easy to fold up using the attached Velcro strap when you want to use it as a cane.


10. Smart Light Outlet

If you are concerned about your loved one getting up at night and falling, or – if they have memory issues – wandering, the Smart Light Outlet will turn on a light when triggered by a cordless floor or bed mat. The cordless monitor alerts you even if you’re in another room while providing illumination when someone gets out of bed.

These and other products can be a great help for seniors to extend their independence to improve their safety and comfort while providing caregivers with peace of mind!

COVID Survival Plan: Six Steps to Staying Steady

Surviving COVID, on top of ALZ caregiving, is like surviving the free fall of skydiving. It takes a plan—and practice—to stay steady enough to open our parachutes in these stormy times. Here are half-a-dozen steps, grounded in science and personal experience, that make up my daily action plan.

1. Spotlight self-care

Because it lays the foundation for mentally managing a perilous world
So, I stress physical activity, sleep, exercise, healthy eats, and social contacts

2. Schedule uplifting activities

Because we all need to get out of our heads and into our lives
So, I engage in prized projects, healthy distractions, and enjoyable ventures

3. Take a tranquilizer

Because in-the-moment soothing can calm jittery nerves
So, I turn to the 4-7-8 breathing technique: inhale-hold-exhale—4 times

4. Adopt a broad perspective

Because it lets us be with stress, not be our stress, thus easing its hold on us
So, I mentally step back, observe, and make room for stress

5. Allow my upsets

Because common practice—pushing away upsets—just adds to our misery
So, I open myself to feelings, even when I dislike them, and just let them be

6. Give myself a hug

Because self-compassion takes the edge off feeling crummy
So, I offer kindness to myself just as I would hug a fragile friend

So, how about you? Might you consider a COVID survival plan? Given your unique values, circumstances, needs, and leanings, what daily steps might you take to maintain your steadiness, open your parachute, and survive in these scary times?

By Jerry Murphy

Jerry Murphy is a member of the Alzheimer’s Association Caregivers Support Group at Cadbury Commons run by our social worker Lisa Walts.