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When considering the nursing home option for parents or other loved ones, here are a few of the main advantages to keep to mind:

Better resources and equipment: Private homes simply don’t have the types of medical equipment and supplies needed to help seniors stay healthy. Many nursing homes are almost as advanced as hospitals in their ability to provide sophisticated care for patients on a 24-hour basis.

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High-quality long-term care: Due to modern medicine, seniors now live longer than ever. While we’re thankful for this, longer life-spans often come with longer periods of late-life illness and disability. Caring for a senior relative at home is often a long-term commitment of many years, sometimes requiring intensive care.

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Communication is an important aspect of healthy and independent living. Communication not only involves talking and writing but we also need to listen, watch, sense and read language.

Some seniors experience decreased senses (vision, hearing). Communication aids can make communication easier.

Some communication aids and tips include:

Writing:

- pens and pencils that are thicker or wrapped in rubber so that it is easier to grasp
- heavier pens and pencils are easier to use for people who have shaky hands
- heavy lined paper and a thick pen tip for those with decreased vision
- a computer as you can increase the font and can print in large thick font
- computers can also have adapted keyboards, mouses, accessible programs (large font, etc) and even voice recognition programs that translate voice into text

Reading:

- ensure proper lighting
- use a magnifier
- consider a magnifier with a built in light
- page turners
- books and other media in audio format (audio books)

Talking:

- speech devices that display message on screen
- picture based computer or print based systems
- typewriters
- letter and symbol boards
- voice amplifiers

Hearing:

- hearing aids
- headset amplifiers
- door bell and telephone conversion (light and bell signals)

Telephone:

- amplified telephone
- large buttons and display on phone
- picture based speed dial buttons
- voice operated telephone
- loud ringer and/or light based signal
- teletypewriter (TTY) device for those who are hearing impaired

Radio/Television:

- large remote control
- large TV screen
- use captioning option on TV

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Moving through the caregiving world with grace and ease is no simple skill. However, having good manners will carry you a long way.As a caregiver we spend our day interacting with family members, friends, and everyone on the Care Team.

Common sense tells you that the people you are closest to warrant an extra measure of consideration. It takes good manners to sustain the love and respect between caregiver and care-receiver.

Dos

1. Encourage family members and friends to show respect and deference to the care-receiver. For example, the care-receiver's visitors should be treated politely as honored guests.

Noise from the TV, radio, etc., should be kept to a minimum. The care-receiver's rest hour should be respected. Telephone messages should be carefully taken, and mail given to him/her unopened.

2. Preserve the care-receiver's feelings of independence. It is important that the care-receiver have control of her/his own money-as long as she/he is capable of managing it.

3. Use your imagination and put yourself in the care-receiver' shoes. Be understanding and find a way to harness your frustrations.

4. Focus on the care-receiver's needs and not your own. Talk to your parent. Try to understand how he/she sees it.

5. Let go of unreasonable hopes. Recognize that your parent won't or can't change.

6. Express warmth and concern toward the care-receiver. This is especially important when the care-receiver has a poor self-image and many feelings of inferiority. A good caregiver must provide reassurance.

7. Be a good listener. Many times the care-receiver may simply want you to listen.

8. Smile a lot. Be a good friend and companion.

9. Keep confidences. Avoid repeating matters that will not be welcomed by others.

10. Maintain your self-composure and avoid stress. Practice your coping skills in order to maintain your composure and balance.

Don'ts

1. Don't treat your parent like a child. Even if your parent reverts to childlike behavior, he/she always needs to be treated with respect and dignity.

As the parent's dependence increases, it is natural for adult children to find themselves unable to communicate in familiar ways.

2. Don't criticize the care-receiver for occasional forgetfulness and other signs of growing older.

3. Don't take sides with other family members in disputes or arguments. It is better to be known as someone who is fair and noninterfering.

4. Don't let an angry situation become emotionally or physically abusive. Step out of the room for a cool down. Seek outside help.

5. Don't neglect the care-receiver. Make sure your parent gets to all appointments, takes medications as scheduled.

6. Don't discourage the help of others. There can never be too much help.

7. Don't assume that the care-receiver has nothing to contribute.

8. Don't compare what you are doing to what everyone else is doing. Every job in a caregiving situation is important.

9. Don't underestimate the power of touch. As people age or their illness progresses, there is less human contact. A hug, kiss or pat on the shoulder can enhance the situation.

10. Don't treat your parent/family member like an alien. When there are several persons in the room be sure to include the care-receiver in the conversation. Do not talk about him/her in the third person as if he/she wasn't in the room.

A good caregiver is genuine and cares about the dignity, welfare, and feelings of their care-receiver. Good manners are based on good character, which translates to kindness and compassion.

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