Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers Blog

Being Old is a State of Mind

For years the media and society have tried to make people think that they are old.  The use of television commercials, magazine ads, and even greeting cards make fun of older people.  The use of certain words can make baby boomers angry. Terms like “nursing home” or “facility” are no longer appropriate words to use with this older generation.  We now use “senior living” and “long term care centers.” 

The senior industry has started to recognize that they are now dealing with a different generation.  Baby boomers are steamrolling into old age and they are going to force a cultural revolution.  The 55 and older crowd are no longer “old,” and society will soon recognize that this generation is trying to hang onto its youth for as long as possible.

Even corporations forget that someone’s chronological age may have nothing to do with their competency. No one should apologize for having maturity and experience. It is important to be proud of your age and your experience.

There is nothing worse than worrying about your age.  There really isn’t much anyone can do about growing older.  Taking good care of your body and living a healthy lifestyle can give a person many more years of life.  There is an old saying that “you are only as old as you feel.”

To challenge the aging process, is to forget about what age you are, and not think about how you are supposed to act! Don’t act old and stodgy.  Seize every moment that life gives you. Ralph Waldo Emerson said:  “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Smiling and laughing are wonderfully contagious, and it gives others permission to express joy and share happiness with you.

Change your wardrobe and remember to think young!  Remember to laugh more every day, even if you are alone. Having fun is the most important part of life.  If you take life too seriously you will become depressed and no one will want to spend time with you.  It is the attitude that you project to the people around you that will keep you young. 

To be young at heart will affect your inner health.  Everyone needs a reason to get up every day and they have to find their passion for life. Feeling excited and full of thanks for all of the blessings in your life will make your day feel more complete. Take time to dream and imagine new ways to explore all that life has to offer.  It is important to remember what it felt like when you were young and fearless. Let it help motivate you to find peace and joy while you experience life in a new way! 



Birth Order

The birth order of each child in a family is outside of their control, but it will influence who they become.  Their personalities, the direction of their lives, and even the spouses that they choose, will all be set by their birth order.

A first born child will be confident and controlling.  The middle child is usually restless, and often referred to as “typical middle child.”  The “baby of the family” often remains the baby for his or her entire life.  

Does birth order really matter?  Yes, because it may determine how each child feels about his or her parents when they grow old. It also matters how well all of the children get along when they are making decisions for their aging parents.

Birth Order Does Matter

Siblings are never the same because parents are different with each of their children, and children never take the same role. One child often becomes the caretaker, and another child will choose another role maybe as the academic or the athlete.

We Are Different Parents with Each Child

The oldest child grows up under a parent’s microscope, with every new step they take, from birth until adulthood.  The second child has to learn how to survive under the dominating older brother or sister who has never learned to share. The child that is caught in the middle is often dominated by the firstborn, because he or she is wiser and more competent.  By the time the baby of the family arrives, parents are usually worn down or worn out, and less likely to micro-manage this new little person.

The parent has also figured out that the new baby is not going break, and they can be more flexible with their attention and discipline. As a result, the baby learns early on how to manipulate and entertain his parents.

While the eldest child is programmed for excellence and achievement, the middle child is raised to be understanding and conciliatory, and the baby seeks all of the attention. As a result, birth order is a powerful variable while any personality is unfolding.

The Firstborn Child: The Achiever

The eldest child will probably have more in common with other firstborns than their own brothers and sisters. Because they have had so much control and attention from their inexperienced parents, they become responsible, reliable, well-behaved, careful and similar versions of their parents.

The first born children are high achievers, dominating, and often perfectionists who drive every one crazy.  They often assume leadership roles in law careers or in medicine, and many even become CEO’s. Because the first born has learned parental skills, they try to dominate their younger brothers and sisters. They often have a sense of loss when the second baby is born, because their special place of authority is threatened.   All of the attention that was exclusively placed on them the first born child, is now shared with this new baby, and everything changes.

The Middle Child: The Peacemaker

The middle child, will probably be the most understanding, cooperative and flexible, yet also competitive. He or she will be concerned with fairness, and will be the opposite of the oldest and youngest child. The middle child, will most likely find a close group of friends to represent their extended family because they seek attention which they do not get from their family. The middle child is often slower to find his or her life’s work, but they often hold positions of power, because they have become masters at negotiating, which allows them the attention that they seek. The middle child will never excel in the same area as the older sibling, but their amazing social skills will help them negotiate and navigate through many family issues. Many middle children become entrepreneurs because they have mastered many of life’s skills while they were growing up.

The Youngest Child:  Life of the Party

When the baby arrives, the parents are now seasoned and confident with their parenting skills.  They are more lenient and not necessarily paying attention to their every move or accomplishment as they did with the older children.  The baby learns quickly how to manipulate and fascinate the parents because no one wants them to grow up. The youngest child always has been given more freedom than the other children in the family and they tend to be more independent. The youngest child often has a lot in common with the oldest child in the family because they both have been made to feel special. The baby is more outgoing and willing to try new things.  They are also more sentimental and forgiving than their older siblings. The youngest child often has influence over the entire family because everyone supports the “baby” both emotionally and physically.

It probably won't surprise you that the youngest children often select careers in the entertainment industry as actors, comedians, authors, or directors. They also make good doctors and teachers. Because their parents were more laid back and lenient, the youngest child will expect more freedom to follow his or her own path in a more creative way. The “baby” in the family usually does not have the same expectations of responsibility that are placed on his or her older siblings.

The Only Child

Children who grow up as an only child were surrounded by adults, and they become more verbal and often more mature than other children their age.  They are often more intelligent and excel more than children who have grown up with siblings. The only child is often resourceful, creative, independent, and confident. The only child also actually has a lot in common with the first born children and the youngest in a family.

Research on Parenting

I have been fascinated over the years while assisting adult children with their aging parents, in how the children either come together or begin to argue with each other at every turn.  

For some time I have been researching birth order, because I wanted to understand why many adult children have strong feelings about how to care for their aging parents.  When the adult children are forced to work together it can either be cooperative or a complete disaster. 

It appears that the parents have a great deal of influence in the early years of child development in how their children will work together harmoniously. This is important information for parents, because they must create an environment that is positive, safe, healthy and stimulating when their children are born.

They also must understand each of their children’s personalities and temperaments as they grow into adulthood.  The parents should organize the child’s activities and educational opportunities to help them experience their fullest potential.  They also must take time to understand that a first-born child feels highly responsible and they must lighten their load.  They must also recognize that the baby of the family is experiencing a more lenient environment and they must be more diligent in their discipline. Please don’t forget the middle child, because they also have a need to find their own place in the family to excel and not be forgotten.

Well-adjusted children become well-adjusted adults. As children they were allowed to find their destiny, no matter what their birth order may have been, and their parents  supported them to be unique and special individuals on their journey of life.


Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Seniors

We all wish you a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!  As Care Managers we are often asked what to buy for older adults.  Here are some gift suggestions.

  • A gift of postcards or lined stationery with a return address labels and postage stamps.

  • A gift certificate for their favorite grocery store or restaurant.

  • An assortment of greeting cards for birthdays and anniversaries, as well as get-well and sympathy cards and add the postage stamp to each one.

  • A "certificate" for house cleaning, laundry, or anything that you could do to help the senior make some minor repairs. Even changing a light bulb can be a dangerous task!

  • A “certificate” to drive them to church, shopping, or a doctor’s appointment.

  • A gift to Seniors with limited income, put some cash in a card and suggest that they buy something that they would like.

  • A subscription for their favorite magazine or the daily newspaper.

  • A gift basket of healthy items; fresh fruit, cans of tuna or chicken, hearty soups, instant coffee or assortment of teas.

  • A large-print calendars with family birthdays, anniversaries marked and personalized with family photographs.

  • A large-print address books with all of the  information transferred from their old address book.

  • A special gift of restoring old treasured photos and placing them into a new album, with names and dates before they are forgotten.

  • You may hear "Please don't give me anything," that usually means, "I have more things than I need." The most precious gift you can give is of your time!



Thanksgiving & Alzheimer's

It may surprise you that someone living with mid to later stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia may not remember that it is Thanksgiving!  People with Alzheimer’s disease are living in the moment. Their days and weeks run together and they are not counting the minutes until you arrive. Yes, they may still have long term memories including details of forty years ago that may surprise you, but their short term memory is no longer processing new information.  Family members often feel guilty when they even think about excluding their loved one from any family celebration, but the older adult with memory loss may actually be happier not being involved. 

Many family gatherings are attended by large numbers of people and children.  The day is usually filled with confusing sounds and everyone is talking at once.   These occasions can sometimes bring about unpleasant memories and emotions associated with certain family members.  The dinner is often more formal and not at the regularly scheduled meal time.  For “ALL” of these reasons, I encourage you to think twice about inviting any older adult with memory loss to join your Thanksgiving dinner.

Alzheimer’s patients need a set routine, with peace and quiet.  Imagine how you would feel if you could not remember the faces of the people who were attending and you could not even find the bathroom.  Friends and relatives may ask multiple questions and continue to confuse the older adult even more.  Someone with memory loss may forget to use their napkin or even forget to wait for the blessing before they start eating. 

Before a big celebration you may want to try a smaller gathering.  It is important to observe any change in behavior on an outing.   Watch for signs of restlessness or for the person to appear to be afraid.  The older adult may ask the same question over and over which can be troublesome for your guest who does not understand Alzheimer’s or dementia.  These warning signs suggest that you should carefully consider how often they participate in any outing especially during the Holiday’s.

You can make a “Holiday” on any day of the week; you just have to add the fun stuff, like their favorite foods, flowers, and even decorations.  On each visit take a hand written note or card for the older adult to read over and over after you have gone.  It helps them to remember you and it can be very meaningful even days and weeks later. 

You would be surprised how special even a one hour visit can be for someone with Alzheimer’s when you visit them in their safe and quiet environment.  I promise that any parent would be especially proud of their children continuing family traditions that they may have established years ago.  May God’s blessings be with each of you this Thanksgiving.


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