Feeling sad?

“ . . . we start grieving long before a person breathes their last breath. The more care that is given to the caregivers and the more prepared they are to discuss and talk about their grief and take steps while the person is still with them, often the better the experience will be . . . “ Emma Payne, Grief Coach

Three Ways to Pay for Long-term Care

Secret Cost-Saving  Strategies

Long-term care is expensive, right?!
We have three little-known tips to share.

mom with dementia, daughter helping with paperwork

211.org This free service is the most comprehensive source of locally curated social services information. Available 24/7–call, text or chat.
State Health Insurance Program (SHIP)
This nonprofit gives free advice about Medicare programs that could provide financial assistance. Call to schedule an appointment with someone from your state.
Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
This is a Medicare and state-specific “shared care” program for those who qualify. (You don’t necessarily need to spend down assets like you would to qualify for Medicaid.) It is not available in every state.

One support group participant was so excited that they qualified and will receive help through this program!

May you find joy in discovering new strategies to pay for long-term care!

Grieving the person they used to be

Has dementia changed your relationship?

Are you grieving? Or are you slowly losing someone to dementia? Interviewer Elizabeth Dameron-Drew of Ways & Wane talks to Emma Payne of Grief Coach, a texting service to support people who are grieving, and the friends and family who want to support them, but often just don’t know how.

You may also be interested in this article on forgotten birthdays.

May you find joy in loving one another well, even in the midst of your tears.

Dementia-Friendly Mother’s Day

Seven Sweet Ideas to Celebrate

mom with dementia and daughter celebrating at lunchMother’s Day is frequently a day filled with emotion, especially if your mother is suffering from dementia. Acknowledging the emotion—the joy, the grief, the regret, the love—and creating a plan for the day, transforms it. I gathered some sweet ideas for you, whether your own mom is still with you or not.

If your mom is with you (but not entirely), try these ideas.
  1. Share happy memories about her from the past, reminding everyone who she is.
  2. Celebrate all her senses with her favorite music and yummy scents. 
  3. Get a manicure together. (Maybe the grandchildren can do nails for you & grandma!)
  4. Look at a picture album together.
  5. Tell stories from her life where she was funny/bright/successful, etc.
  6. Take an easy trip to a park or a beautiful drive. Just get out of the house.
  7. Simply cherish that she’s still with you, even if the dementia has caused her not to know you.
  8. Buy a gift that keeps her hands busy.
If your mom has passed away, remember her in one of these ways.
  1. Try out a hobby she loved. Maybe doing so will provide new insight into her.
  2. Repurpose a piece of her jewelry. 
  3. Make a donation in her honor.
  4. Frame her handwriting (maybe it’s a recipe card or a note).
  5. Spend time with others who loved her too and enjoy reminiscing. 
  6. Celebrate another mother in your life.
  7. Take a break from social media so you aren’t bombarded with Mother’s Day pictures that could make the day even harder for you.

If you anticipate that other family members will be grieving that day too, consider including them in the planning of something. 

Whatever the day looks like for you, may you feel love and express love!

Elizabeth Dameron-Drew is the Co-founder and President of Ways & Wane. She walked closely with her own father through his years of waning. She lives near Seattle with her two teenage sons, husband and two rescue dogs. When she’s not working on this platform she’s probably creating books, doing research work or planning a dinner party while listening to the rain and thinking about her next creative endeavor.

Senior Tax Help for Free

3 Free Senior Tax Tips That Will Make You Feel Really Smart

All of a sudden, I was responsible for my dad’s taxes in addition to my own. I didn’t even know how he usually did them or where to find his detailed paperwork.

He was living with trauma-induced dementia in a small family care home, and couldn’t help answer questions. I sleuthed out the name of his tax preparer, but felt sure it had to be simple enough to file on my own. After completing his taxes for $100 with online filing software, I realized that I could have done it for free with expert help.

With the tax deadline looming, jump on these free tools that are currently available for elder tax assistance.

1. The IRS offers Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). Just enter your zip code to find someone near you to help.

2. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide also provides free tax preparation in different ways – in-person, low-contact, or contact-free – depending on what service is available in your area. Some sites can provide service in one or two visits, or you may not need to visit a site at all, with all interactions taking place online. Brief descriptions of each service type offered at Tax-Aide sites are available by selecting the “Service Types” tab on this AARP page.

3. You can also choose to prepare your tax return yourself, with the use of the free OnLine Taxes software. Its availability can vary by year.

Senior Tax Credit

Check in to the Senior Tax Credit for the Elderly and Disabled. If your senior qualifies, you could take up to $7,500 directly off their tax bill. To qualify, a person must be 65 years of age by the end of the tax year. The IRS also establishes income guidelines for each tax year. Check with a tax professional.

The April 18  deadline is coming up, so don’t wait to reach out to counselors at the IRS and AARP Foundation for questions about your senior’s taxes. If you are caring for a senior in your home, talk to a tax counselor about deductions for related costs and about claiming them as a dependent. The time is now to utilize these free resources for your senior’s taxes.

You know all about your senior’s habits,
but you don’t have to know
all about how to do their taxes.

Debbie McDonald is the Founder of Ways & Wane, an online platform that helps you help your aging parent. She lives in Northern California with her husband.

Paying for Long-term Care

How do you pay for assisted living
(or in-home care)?

Author Cameron Huddleston discusses surprising ways to pay for assisted living, in-home care or a nursing home. She includes topics like hidden resources and converting life insurance.

Interviewer Elizabeth Dameron-Drew highlights the Digital Social Worker that walks you through various pay options.

How to Cure Dementia’s Fidgety Hands: Fun Gifts for the Holidays

fidget ball helps people with dementiaMaybe it was for me, but I thought about him as well. I didn’t want to hand him child’s toys, even when in this stage of dementia.

At 79, when his body and mind were compromised by dementia, I’d visit with him and we played all sorts of activities and games. When it was time for me to go home, I hated leaving him with nothing to keep his hands busy. Handing him something that looked like a child’s toy felt like an insult to him and well, it just made me feel sad. So, I present five (not childlike) tactile fidget gift ideas for your senior with dementia. The benefit? To help them stay busy and feel calm. 

Five gratifying and useful dementia-friendly gift ideas
  1. These sculpture-like metallic tangles twist around in endless combinations and are light and easy to manage. 
  2. For animal lovers, these realistic looking, battery-powered cats and dogs move, respond to touch and even purr, but without the care required by a real pet. They aren’t inexpensive, but are a lot less than a real pet would cost.
  3. This slide fidget widget shows up as a handsome and smooth wooden form that fits easily in one’s hand and has beads that slide back and forth on a secure band. 
  4. Introducing a sensory activity combined with an “I Spy” game. There are 20+ small items mixed in with poly pellets in this napkin-size cloth bag.  These sensory bags come in all sorts of fabric choices. 
  5. Like the tangle mentioned above, this wooden art ball fidget toy can be twisted and formed. Its larger size makes it easier to manage. It comes in two sizes and either a natural wood finish or in black/white. 

Note: We recommend these products because we think they’re good and we wanted to save you time. Some of them may earn us a bit when you click on the link. 

May you find joy in loving one another well, despite dementia! 

Elizabeth Dameron-Drew is co-founder and president of Ways & Wane. She walked closely with her own father through his years of waning. She lives near Seattle, Washington with her two teenage sons, husband and two rescue dogs. When she’s not working on this platform, she’s probably creating books, sewing, or vacuuming, or cooking while listening to the rain and thinking about her next creative endeavor. 

Impatient with Repeated Questions? 7 Strategies to Respond with Patience

“What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do now?”

Being repeatedly asked the same question by anyone, whether they are 2 or 70, is frustrating. When it means they are fading cognitively, feelings of grief get mixed into the dynamic. 

How can you respond and save your own sanity? Here are 7 practical tips:

  1. Give yourself permission to be sad about your senior’s mental decline and mourn the fact that they are no longer who they once were. It’s okay to be sad about that. It’s normal and actually loving. 
  2. Remember that your senior is asking repeated questions because of damage to their brain cells, whether it’s because of a stroke, a form of dementia, a traumatic brain injury or something else they are now cognitively disabled. They wouldn’t choose to be confused and aren’t trying to annoy you. 
  3. Look for a reason behind the questions. Are they trying to communicate something else altogether? Does the behavior happen at a particular time of the day or around particular people?
  4. Think about how they are feeling, not what they are doing or saying and respond to their emotion, not their behavior.
  5. Refocus their energy on a new activity, even if it’s just a fidget type gadget that keeps their hands busy. 
  6. When responding to them, do your best to keep your voice calm and don’t try to argue or use logic. The latter response will likely escalate their confusion by adding anxiety.
  7. Restate what they are saying and answer their question as best you can with simple explanations. Consider using visual tools like calendars, clocks or photographs to help them remember. 

This video from UCLA Health offers insights and practical tips for managing repetitive questions.

May you find joy in loving one another well.

Elizabeth Dameron-Drew is the co-founder of Ways & Wane. She walkedclosely with her own father through his years of waning. She lives near Seattle, Washington with her two teenage sons, husband and two rescue dogs. When she’s not working on this platform she’s probably creating books, sewing, or vacuuming, or cooking while listening to the rain and thinking about her next creative endeavor.