Evacuation tips for aging seniors

Planning for Disaster: Evacuation Tips for Aging Adults

No matter how much planning one does before a natural disaster—be it a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, fire, or flood—its arrival can often feel like a complete surprise. And for aging seniors, evacuating often comes with its own set of difficulties. With hurricane season still in effect and early winter storms blanketing parts of the country in snow, Aging Life Care Professionals® are urging all aging adults to make sure they are prepared with a plan.

“Whether it’s a hurricane, snowstorm, fire, or earthquake, having a disaster plan can be the difference between a safe evacuation and a more dangerous situation,” says Liz Barlowe, an Aging Life Care Manager from Florida who has been through several hurricanes and evacuations. “It doesn’t matter if the senior lives at home independently or in a facility, each individual needs both a proactive plan and reactive plan.”

Proactive planning includes having important documents and insurance cards in order as well as an emergency kit of medications, money, first-aid items, batteries, water, and food. This plan should be in writing, updated every six months to a year, and be shared with all responsible care parties.

Reactive planning plans for the “what-ifs” after a disaster. “Knowing where you can stay if your home is uninhabitable after a storm; or knowing where you can go for medical care in another city brings an aging senior some peace of mind,” says Barlowe. “When I develop a plan for my clients, my goal is to get them back to their normal daily routine as soon as possible.”

Aging Life Care Professionals offer these evacuation tips for aging adults:

  • Prepare, plan, practice!
  • Gather all important documents (e.g. Banking information, Trusts/wills, POAs, Deeds, Insurance Information-property and health, an emergency only credit card, and a small amount of petty cash). Place these items in a fireproof and/or carry-friendly box.  Make sure to place the box in an easily accessible location.
  • Gather all medications (or pictures of labels), medication lists, and important health information. Place these items in a separate fireproof and/or carry-friendly box, if possible for ease in carrying. Make sure to place the box in the same easily accessible location.
  • If there are pets, research animal boarding ahead of time and create a plan for boarding.  Make sure all pets have vaccinations and papers required for boarding (place these documents in the medication information box along with your loved one’s information).
  • Research temporary housing options–hotels, respite care in assisted living, family or friends, in nearby communities.
  • Register for weather alerts with the local authorities.

Long-distance caregiving comes with a separate set of challenges. Barlowe recommends finding an Aging Life Care Professional in the local area to serve as an emergency contact and activate the disaster plan when you can’t be there. Someone local will also have a better knowledge of the resources and support systems available. A national directory of professionals is available at

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Observe, Recognize, Prevent: 7 Common Myths About Elder Abuse

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched in 2006 on June 15th by the World Health Organization. Elder abuse is one of the most overlooked public health problems in the United States. Victims of abuse are three times more likely than those who weren’t mistreated to die prematurely. Learn how to identify those at risk and what to do if you are concerned about a vulnerable adult.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

By Jullie Gray, MSW, LICSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy

Perceptions people have about elder abuse are usually wrong. That’s disheartening because the way we think about elder mistreatment affects our ability to recognize the signs of abuse and our sense of urgency and commitment about stopping it.

Let’s take a look at the most common myths and learn the facts.

Myth #1 – Elder abuse occurs mostly in nursing homes.

Even though elder abuse does occur in nursing homes, it most often happens at home, behind closed doors in every community, regardless of socioeconomic status.[1]

Myth #2 – Strangers and paid caregivers are the ones preying on older people.

It’s heartbreaking, but most vulnerable adults are abused by a known, trusted person – usually a family member.  Abuse is frequently cloaked in a shroud of family secrecy that sometimes makes detection very difficult.

Myth #3 – The bad guys always get caught.

Criminal prosecutions of abusers are actually the exception rather than the rule because most victims don’t tell. They’re afraid, embarrassed or simply unable to report any wrongdoing to authorities.

Myth #4 – If there are no bruises or physical signs of abuse, there is nothing to worry about.

When thinking about abuse, nearly everyone immediately pictures bruises, broken bones and other types of physical cruelty. However, neglect and self-neglect are the most common types of abuse. Emotional abuse and financial exploitation happen frequently too. None of the typical forms of abuse result in obvious outward signs such as black eyes, welts or broken limbs.  If you are only looking for the physical signs of abuse you will inadvertently overlook the vast majority of cases.

Myth #5 – Caregiver stress causes elder abuse.

Caregiving by its very nature can be stressful – but stress doesn’t cause elder abuse. Most stressed caregivers do not harm the person they care for. By focusing on caregiver stress as an explanation, we tacitly excuse inexcusable behavior. Using “stress” as a rationale also shifts the focus to the abuser and away from the victim by evoking a perception that if the older person was just easier to care for, not sick, and not so demanding, the abuse would never occur.[2]

Myth #6 – Elder abuse happens to men and women equally.

Elder abuse happens most often to women, but plenty of men fall victim too. Regardless of gender, those with some type of cognitive impairment are at greatest risk of being abused.

Myth #7 – It’s not that big of a deal.

Elder abuse is one of the most overlooked public health hazards in the United States. Victims of abuse are three times more likely than those who weren’t mistreated to die prematurely. The National Center on Elder Abuse[3] estimates that between two to five million elderly Americans experience some form of abuse each year. It is believed that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect reported to authorities, about five more go unreported.

Observing signs of abuse

Since a victim may not be able to report abuse, it’s up to others to observe the signs and intervene.types and definitions of abuse

Physical indicators can suggest abuse is occurring

  • Injuries that are inconsistent with the explanation for their cause
  • Bruises, welts, cuts, burns
  • Dehydration or malnutrition without illness-related cause

Behavioral signs shown by the victim indicating possible abuse

  • Fear, anxiety, agitation, anger, depression
  • Contradictory statements, implausible explanations for injuries
  • Hesitation to talk openly

Patterns seen in caretakers who abuse

  • History of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior or family violence
  • Anger, indifference, aggressive behavior toward the victim
  • Prevents victim from speaking to or seeing visitors
  • Flirtation or coyness as possible indicator of inappropriate sexual relationships
  • Conflicting accounts of incidents

Signs a vulnerable person is being financially exploited

  • Frequent expensive gifts from victim to a caretaker or “new best friend”
  • Drafting a new will or power of attorney when the victim seems incapable of drafting legal documents
  • Caretaker’s name (or the name of the victim’s “new best friend”) is added to the bank account
  • Frequent checks made out to “cash”
  • Unusual activity in bank account
  • Sudden changes in spending patterns

What to do if you identify someone at risk

We all need to vigilantly look for abuse around every corner of our neighborhood and in the care facilities we visit. One problem, though, is that our culture has taught us to avert our eyes, cover our ears, and mind our own business.

If you are concerned about a vulnerable adult, call 911 or your local adult protective services agency.

Many families also contact Aging Life Care Professionals™ who can provide an unbiased look at the situation, facilitate family meetings to discuss concerns and provide information about care options or ways to approach the situation.

These dedicated professionals understand the laws concerning elder abuse in the state where they practice and can help navigate complicated bureaucracies, act as an advocate for the older person and help develop a safe plan of care.  They work hand in hand with adult protective service caseworkers, police departments and elder law attorneys to ensure the safety of the older person and to coordinate appropriate services.

It is human nature to want to put our heads in the sand and change the subject to something more pleasant. But if we identify and report abuse when it occurs, we can stop the cycle and protect our most vulnerable elders.

About the author: A Fellow of the Leadership Academy, Jullie Gray has over 30 years of experience in healthcare and aging. She is a Principal at Aging Wisdom in Seattle, WA. Jullie is the President of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and the Past President of ALCA. Jullie Serves on the King County Elder Abuse Council in Washington State. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter @agingwisdom, or email her at Aging Wisdom has a presence on Facebook – we invite you to like our page.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.


[2] Brandl, B. & Raymond, JA. Generations. American Society on Aging. Fall 2012. Vol 36. No. 3.


Retirement Checklist

Ten Things Everyone Should Do At Retirement

When asked for their best piece of advice, Aging Life Care Professionals are quick to respond: “Be prepared,” “Make a plan for aging,” “Don’t wait for a crisis to strike,” “Build a team of trusted friends, family and professionals.” So when you head into retirement, be sure to take the necessary steps to plan for the next phase of life. Thanks to our guest Aging Life Care™ Month blogger for sharing this useful ten-step checklist to help you prepare and plan for aging.   To find a professional to help pull together or manage your Aging Life Care plan, visit the Aging Life Care Association’s “Find an Aging Life Care Expert” search at  


By Carolyn L. Rosenblatt, RN, Elder law attorney, – National Aging Life Care™ Month Guest Blogger


Let’s face it: no one likes to think of one’s self as “old”. We have an unfortunately negative culture about aging itself and this can cause a lot of problems. But some of these issues can be resolved by taking a few smart steps at age 65 or sooner. I see unnecessary heartache, grief and expense caused by forgetting to do these things or just never considering them.  Here is a ten-step checklist to follow for every smart retiree. If you are an Aging Life Care Manager®, you can remind your clients and help them to carry out these basic essentials we all need. And be sure to do it for yourself too!

Step One

First, identify a trusted person or persons you want to use as the receiver of all of your essential information and documents.  We’ll call this person the Information Keeper. This may be an adult child, a long time friend, or someone who can be counted on as absolutely trustworthy.  Ask the Information Keeper if they’d like to have this assignment. Set a date with this person and sit down with them to go over this checklist.

Step Two

Have a signed and notarized durable power of attorney.  Any competent estate planning attorney will include this in the estate plan documents. But it is surprising how many families don’t have one when they need it. If a generic form DPOA is all right it can be downloaded free from the internet in your state. You do not have to have a lawyer do it, but if you want a special form, you should have a lawyer do it for you.

Step Three

Have a signed advanced healthcare directive Competent estate planning attorneys should also include this document in the estate plan but not all attorneys do so. The document can be gotten from the doctor’s office or free from the internet.  Don’t leave your family in the lurch not knowing what you would want in the way of care or end of life wishes should you be unable to communicate at any time in the future. Yes, you have to think about end of life to fill it out but it’s only fair to make your own choices rather than push this off on anyone else.

Step Four

Make a list of all bank accounts, passwords, hard drive backup location, investment records and financial planning.  The professionals to contact should be on the list. And you should give permission in writing to each of them, such as accountant, estate planning lawyer, and financial advisor to communicate with your appointed trusted person.

Step Five

List every insurance policy you have and provide the location of where it is stored.  This includes life, disability, health, property, earthquake, and anything else you own that will protect your heirs.  Millions of dollars of life insurance proceeds go uncollected each year because the beneficiaries do not know that the policies exist or that they are the beneficiaries.

Step Six

Make a copy of the mortgage statement, any other loans, and debts, financial statements, and bank statement. These should be updated quarterly as these change as loans are paid or made and amounts available fluctuate. If you became suddenly incapacitated someone would need to step in and handle your affairs and pay bills. No one can do this unless they know some basic financial information.

Step Seven

Make a list of all physicians, care providers, and medications you take and give the list to the Information Keeper along with written permission for loved ones to speak with the doctors.  What if you got in an accident and got knocked out for awhile? If anyone wanted to know your medical status, and you have no Information Keeper, it could mean a great deal of danger for you.  This one is simple and won’t take much time.

Step Eight

This might be the hardest one to do but do it anyway. No one gets out of here alive. Create or have on hand information about your wishes for burial or disposition of your remains. The Information Keeper should have that too.

Step Nine

Update your will and/or trust with a local attorney. Laws vary state to state and these need to be current in the state where you live now in retirement. If you’ve never gotten around to doing this make a date and see a lawyer. It’s not that expensive. It can prevent a lot of fighting and heartache after you’re gone.

Step Ten

Call a family meeting to discuss the items on this checklist. Transparency is critical to avoid conflicts down the road.  Do you care about how your loved ones would manage if you couldn’t communicate or if you died unexpectedly? If you love them, sit down and talk it all over. Everyone should know who the Information Keeper is and what that person has on hand.

You can download a copy of this checklist by clicking here. Or you can hear a 5 minute verbal recap of the checklist there too.

Enjoy your retirement, but don’t get caught off-guard. An Aging Life Care Professional can assist with every step on this list. To find one near you, visit the Find an Aging Life Care Expert search at

About the author: Carolyn Rosenblatt has over 45 years of experience in her combined professions of nursing and legal practice. Together with her husband, geriatric psychologist Dr. Mikol Davis, she founded, a resource for families, and offering educational training and products, both live and online, about aging issues for financial professionals.  These focus on diminished capacity, elder abuse and financial decision-making.  She is the author of The Family Guide to Aging Parents: Answers to Your Legal, Financial and Healthcare Questions.   She also authored Working With Aging Clients: A Guide for Legal, Business and Financial Professionals published by the American Bar Association, and co-authored Succeed With Senior Clients: A Financial Advisor’s Guide to Best Practices.

alcohol and dementia

Alcohol and Dementia: Critical Lessons from USA and South Africa

As the experts in aging well, Aging Life Care Professionals® help families cope with and manage a variety of age-related challenges such as alcohol use and dementia.  To find a professional, visit the Aging Life Care Association’s “Find an Aging Life Care Expert” search at  As part of National Aging Life Care Month, the following is a featured post from a guest expert in aging. 


By Sophie Okolo, Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging – National Aging Life Care™ Month Guest Blogger


Studies have shown that excessive alcohol use can lead to many health problems such as dementia and cognitive decline, particularly among older people. While researchers are still learning about the link between drinking and dementia, it is important to act now to raise awareness of alcohol consumption as a risk factor. In recognition of National Aging Life Care Month, this post will explore the link between heavy drinking and dementia, as well compare and contrast alcohol consumption in the United States and South Africa, two countries that rank high among heavier-drinking nations. The goal is for aging professionals to explore how different cultures can prevent cognitive decline.

Alcohol-related dementia (ARD), a form of dementia caused by long-term, heavy drinking, leads to neurological damage and impaired cognitive function. Binge drinking typically occurs after four drinks for women and five drinks for men-in about two hours, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Despite steps to address dementia in South Africa, there is still no national plan that deals with the risks associated with alcohol use. The U.S. has several organizations, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, which provide interventions to reduce alcohol-related cognitive decline.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), South Africa has the highest level of alcohol consumption in Africa per capita. This is most alarming since South Africa has been highlighted as the worst country in the world for drunk driving, where about 58 percent of road deaths are related to alcohol consumption. WHO also places the U.S. and South Africa both among the top countries in terms of per capita alcohol consumption.

In 2015, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence released recommendations for preventing or delaying the onset of health problems, including dementia. High on the list was the recommendation that people between the ages of 40 and 64 to “reduce the amount they drink as much as possible.” As dementia rates continue to increase in the U.S. and South Africa, it is important that aging professionals raise awareness of the causal relationship between heavy drinking and dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia and may contribute to 60 percent to 70 percent of cases. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and an estimated 5.5 million Americans currently suffer from AD. If current population trends continue, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease will increase significantly, unless the disease can be effectively treated or prevented. Due to increases in longevity, dementia is one of the most common diseases among older people. It is also a leading cause of frailty, institutionalization and death; therefore it has a great impact on both the individual and society.

More than 2.2 million South Africans have Alzheimer’s, and many live with the stigma attached to the condition. The problem is especially acute in rural areas, where communities often think people with Alzheimer’s are ‘bewitched’ or are simply ‘acting out’. While there is no proven effective treatment nor much intervention, the consensus is that a lack of exercise, obesity and binge drinking all can increase the chance of getting Alzheimer’s.

Despite the incidence of dementia, physical activity and brain exercises have positive effects on the aging brain. Physical activity, such as brisk walking, increases the flow of oxygen to the brain. Brain exercises, such as learning a new sport or a foreign language, can set the brain cells into action and increase mental power. With studies now showing the link between heavy drinking and dementia, aging professionals in South Africa and the U.S. can discuss ways of raising awareness of aging and alcohol.

Increases in alcohol-related deaths and accidents have led to recent discussions to ban alcohol in countries and regions including Malawi and India.  Globally, about 3.3 million deaths were connected with alcohol consumption in 2012. Drinking accounted for 7.6 percent of deaths among males and 4.0 percent of deaths among females. Other statistics for South Africa and the U.S. only include:

  • South Africa’s average alcohol consumption is almost double the WHO African region average of six liters, and is expected to increase to 12.1 in 2025.
  • More than a quarter of the drinking population in South Africa are deemed binge drinkers, consuming at least 60 grams or more of pure alcohol in one sitting within a 30-day period.
  • Americans over age 60 are drinking more than they were 20 years ago.
  • Alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S., with 79,000 deaths per year traced to excessive drinking.

While there is plenty of evidence that chronic alcoholism can cause serious damage to the brain, it would be wise to also emphasize and encourage the benefits of other healthy habits. Many studies state that regular exercise, no smoking, healthy diets, and little or moderate alcohol intake can help reduce the risk of dementia and other cognitive decline. These lessons, including further exploration of the causal relationship between heavy drinking and dementia, call for both nations to invest more in health and wellness.

About the author: Sophie Okolo is an associate with the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging, where she focuses on enhancing the center’s healthy aging portfolio through producing research, writing editorials, convening experts, and partnering with national organizations. She works to increase awareness and support for scientific and social advancements in prevention and wellness and to spread innovative health solutions to diverse communities. Her professional interests include improving the quality of life for older people around the world and increasing awareness of preventive health care. Okolo holds a B.S. in bioinformatics from Ramapo College and an M.P.H. with a focus in community health and gerontology from Armstrong Atlantic State University.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Aging Life Care Month

May is National Aging Life Care Month

Aging Life Care Professionals Kick-Off Aging Life Care Month During 33rd Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas

The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) – the nonprofit association representing nearly 2,000 leaders in Aging Life Care™ management – will celebrate the profession during the month of May. Aging Life Care Month kicks off with the 33rd Annual Aging Life Care Association Conference in San Antonio, TX May 3 – 6, 2017 where leaders in aging will tackle the toughest issues related to aging today.

The three-day conference features leading research scholar Nancy Berlinger of The Hastings Center discussing how we look at our aging society, how we handle end-of-life discussions, and the role Aging Life Care Professionals play in improving care and strengthening communities. Other topics to be addressed are providing engaging dementia care, cultural sensitivity, incorporating technology thoughtfully into care, as well as the delicate issues of love and sexuality in aging.

“With a spotlight shining on the caregiving challenges faced by families, more attention is being paid to the impact our aging population has on our communities and resources,” says ALCA President Amy O’Rourke, MPH, NHA, CMC. “Aging Life Care Professionals are responding to the needs of families and helping adults plan for and face age-related challenges.”

Aging Life Care is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing health challenges. The Aging Life Care Professional is a health and human services specialist who is a guide, advocate, and resource for families caring for an older relative or disabled adult. Working with families, the expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals provides answers during a time of uncertainty. Their guidance leads families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, thus reducing worry, stress, and time off work for family caregivers. housing, crisis, advocacy, legal, communication, financial, health and disability

They have extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability of resources in their communities. Aging Life Care Professionals are members of the Aging Life Care Association® (ALCA) who have met stringent education, experience, and certification requirements of the organization, and all members are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and standards of practice.

Aging Life Care Professionals throughout the country will celebrate National Aging Life Care Month by providing seminars, webinars, special events, open houses, and other educational activities for the public. For more information, and locations of Aging Life Care Professionals, visit ALCA’s website

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Retirement Checklist

Aging Life Care Association’s Amy O’Rourke Featured in #ElderCareChat Discussion on How Families Can Prepare for Aging as Guest Expe

amy-cameron-orourke-ALCA #ElderCareChat 4/12/17Don’t Wait for a Crisis to Strike – Top Tips to Prepare for Aging

Aging Life Care Association® was honored to join last week’s #ElderCareChat, with our current president Amy Cameron O’Rourke serving as an expert panelist. O’Rourke engaged 40 participants in a lively Twitter conversation about how families can prepare for aging versus reacting to a crisis.

The one-hour #ElderCareChat illuminated the Aging Life Care Association’s vision of a world where adults and their families live well as they face the challenges of aging proactively rather than reactively.

The Twitter session, which generated more than 3 million impressions, underscored the fact that many seniors and their families fail to consider the realities of aging until there’s a ElderCareChat analytics 4/12/17crisis. As O’Rourke shared, death can be an uncomfortable topic, and families would rather not talk about losing someone they love. Plus, adult children want to honor their parents’ independence and avoid stepping on toes.

But, as O’Rourke and other participants pointed out, the consequences of waiting for an emergency to make plans for aging can be dire—fewer choices, higher costs, less input from the senior loved one, increased family tension, and even unintended or aggressive medical treatments.

Instead, O’Rourke recommended families proactively prepare for aging by building a team of professionals, including a financial planner, elder law attorney, and an Aging Life Care Professional. Such professionals can explain options for senior housing and care, and help families determine what suits their particular needs and resources.

Though it may cost money upfront, O’Rourke noted that preparation can save money in the long run. What’s more, preparing for aging saves families from having to make difficult decisions without the input of their senior loved one. Here are some highlights of the thoughtful discussion that took place over the #ElderCareChat hour (scroll through to view all):

#ElderCareChat is presented by and sister sites and as a forum to share resources, experiences, and expertise in eldercare. #ElderCareChat meets mid-month; the next chat will be Wednesday, May 17, 2017, at 1pm ET.

To find an Aging Life Care Professional®, visit to search for an expert by zip code, city or state.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

sibling rivalry, aging parents

Sibling Rivalry and Aging Parents: 5 Tips to Keep the Peace

Often when adult siblings receive a crisis alert that elderly Mom or Dad is sick, it is common for old roles and competitiveness to flare. How quickly an adult child can revert into acting like a kid when siblings get together. There is just something about being with brothers and sisters that can send you into time travel, from age 45 to age 5 in a snap, and subsequently, from mature to immature.  

Sibling Rivalry, Aging Parents, and Running the Emotional Gauntlet

by Vivian McLaurin, BA – Aging Life Care Association® Member


Sibling rivalry, also known as competition between sisters and brothers for a parent’s attention, may change over time. Unique relationships can strengthen or weaken on the road from childhood to adulthood. Physical and emotional distances offer adult siblings new opportunities to develop respectful, loving, caring relationships. Sometimes though, a few embers of competitiveness or jealousy burn low.

Birth order can create lifelong labels that defy age, education, and experience. With that status often come a pre-defined set of roles. As Jane Mersky Leder wrote: “our siblings push buttons that cast us in roles we felt sure we had let go of long ago — the baby, the peacekeeper, the caretaker, the avoider. It doesn’t seem to matter how much time has elapsed or how far we’ve traveled.”  

Family dynamics are a powerful force, and when combined with the stress and fear of losing a parent, can launch (or re-ignite) sibling feuds and hurt. How adult children navigate the stormy times with older or younger sibling depends on many factors including his or her own support system, self-awareness, dedication to a greater good, and emotional maturity — easy to say, hard to implement, and perhaps challenging to stay the course.

Aging parents play a leading role in sibling dynamics. However, it is neither wise nor fair to count on Mom or Dad to mediate their grown-up children’s feuds. Adult children need to acknowledge that they may not have had the perfect childhood or the perfect parents. Be aware of the possibility of pitting one child against another, manipulation, and the age-old comparison game.

How can siblings work together during their parent’s aging journey?

1. Hope for the best and expect less – less in terms of personal recognition, equity, fame, glory, money, family heirlooms, etc. Aim for selflessness; it is a good look on everyone.

2. Respect legal and fiduciary assignments that parents have executed via power of attorney documents, wills, trusts, HIPAA release authorizations, etc. whether you personally agree or not. Decision-making authority and money are two topics that can stir conflict in the best of families. If your parent has not made his wishes clear by executing written advance directives, consult an attorney so your parent can put these essential documents in place.

3. Jobs for everyone! Help your siblings and yourself by looking at the tasks that must be accomplished. Match those tasks with individual strengths. Instead of forcing your brother to stay at the hospital with Mom when everyone knows that he is squeamish, ask him to mow the grass or hire a housekeeper.

If you and your siblings cannot reach consensus quickly, phone a friend or a pastor or a family elder or an Aging Life Care Professional® – someone that can help you make assignments without starting a family squabble.

4. Practice self-care. It is hard to drink from an empty glass. Stress, anxiety, fear are ingredients for a perfect sibling storm. If you are a long-distance adult child or if parental love is not the common denominator in your family, send a proxy. Professional care managers are trained to facilitate during a crisis. Aging Life Care Professionals often serve as a “surrogate” sibling and can become the glue that holds the family together through the crisis.

5. Now is not the time. An aging parent emergency is not necessarily the time to give in to family dysfunction. Even if a parent or sibling is on your last nerve, walk (or run) away from that scene.

The common ground may be love for your parent. Meet there. Even if it’s true that your brother always received more attention, gifts, love, etc., it is bad form to expect your parent to balance the scales during a health crisis.

“The principle needs to be this: Whatever the reasons for your feelings you will have to find civilized solutions.” – Selma Fraiburg

About the author: Vivian McLaurin is a care manager with Preferred Living Solutions in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area. Quality care for older adults, support for family caregivers and aging in America are personal passions for Vivian. She has worked with the aging population since 2013 and as a family caregiver most of her adult life. Vivian serves as a facilitator for an Alzheimer’s and other dementia caregivers support group in Cary, NC. She can be reached at or on Facebook.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Living with Traumatic Brain Injury

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and according to the Brain Injury Association of American, at least 5.3 million Americans live with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) related disabilities. #NotAloneinBrainInjury

Find Help Adjusting to Life with a TBI

As part of Brain Injury Awareness Month, ALCA is sharing the results of a survey that takes a closer look at cases of TBI being managed by Aging Life Care Professionals. The survey of aging experts  illustrates the prevalence and causes of TBI among the aging population and identifies the challenges associated with their care.

Sixty-three percent of surveyed Aging Life Care Professionals™ said their caseloads include individuals with TBI. Although Aging Life Care™ experts typically care for aging adults, the survey revealed that at least one provides services for a nine-year-old child. The majority of cases (96%) included adults in the 41-80 age range. The overwhelming cause of these injuries was falls (52%) and auto accidents (51%). Other causes included other accidental blunt trauma (28%), sports-related injury (8%), and violence (7%).

The strategies for treatment most in demand from clients, according to those participating in the survey included:

  • Advocacy
  • stress relief for family
  • therapy/support

Ranked closely behind:

  • assistance with placement (i.e. nursing home, assisted living, memory care)
  • communications
  • stress relief for families
  • financial planning
  • managing the relationship role changes

Aging Life Care Professionals also collaborate with other professionals in caring for TBI clients, primarily physicians and physical, occupational, or speech therapists. Also consulted were neuropsychologists, attorneys, caregiver agencies, and mental health providers.

The biggest challenge for families whose loved one has suffered a TBI was overwhelmingly identified as issues relating to behavior changes and accepting the “new person,” a “new personality, a “new normal.” One respondent identified it as, “The loss of role of the person who used to be more capable … and the strain of the ongoing demise of the person.” This type of loss has been called an “ambiguous loss” (a term coined by family therapist and author Pauline Boss). It means “having the person’s physical presence but psychological absence. The person is there, but emotionally or cognitively missing.”

“Aging Life Care Professionals know the local resources and specialists that can help TBI patients find a ‘new normal’,” says Dianne McGraw, Aging Life Care Manager. “From coordinating services to offering caregiving coaching, we give families the tools they need to live an optimal life.”

If you need help navigating care options or need strategies to manage the adjustments to daily life, find an Aging Life Care™ expert near you at

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

My parent is dying

Managing the Death of a Parent – A Guide from the Experts in Aging Well

When we we talk about coping with the loss of a parent, most often it is in the context of dealing with life after a parent dies. But what about managing the death of a parent and how to help them during the process? Start with this help from the experts in aging well. 

My Parent is Dying, How Can I Get Through This?

by Lisa Laney, MSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association® Member


Our lives today seem to be getting so very complicated. Confusion and anxiety bubble up as we try to manage what had been, in history of humankind, normal and understandable life transitions.

The death of a parent is a tremendous loss and shifts us into a new life chapter — that of being more senior ourselves, regardless of our age. We feel the responsibility of making good decisions, including decisions around the care of our parent as they are dying.

Most likely you already juggle many responsibilities – your home, work, perhaps children still in the home, your own finances, and on and on. How do you take on the added responsibility of ramping up your knowledge about the foreign subject of care of the dying, while participating and guiding the most appropriate support for your parent in their last chapter?

Following are some “to-do’s” and questions to consider – a toolkit of sorts.
  • Consider professional assistance. Know, first, that employing an adjunct who is an experienced professional will provide you with reassurance as the journey continues. The care of a loved one involves many turns in the river and there is no prescribed one-size-fits all process. An Aging Life Care Professional (sometimes called a geriatric care manager) can assist with unforeseen issues as they arise while also providing as a boots-on-the-ground “first responder” of sorts, or just as a consultant for you by phone should you need. Through a thorough assessment an Aging Life Care Manager can help with:
    • Securing and managing in-home care providers
    • Obtaining necessary durable medical equipment
    • Determining if any home modifications are needed
  • Learn the difference between Palliative Care and Hospice Care. Don’t hesitate obtaining the appropriate service for your parent. Some areas have multiple providers, so do your homework.
  • Research the diagnosis of your parent. For example, if it is Congestive Heart Failure, ask the physician what to expect and read materials about the course of this disease. How We Die by Sherwin B. Nuland is a good read in this realm. Don’t be afraid. To learn the expected process of the disease allows you to prepare yourself (and your parent) for the upcoming needs.
  • Have detailed conversations with your parent about what they do or do not want at the end of their life. Questions to ask:
    • To die at home?
    • To die in a hospice facility?
    • To be alert or if pain medicines are required to be medicated even if it means they are less alert?
    • Are there people they do or do not want present as they decline?
  • Ask your parent if they would agree to have your contact information on their physician’s HIPAA document so that you can have direct conversations with their doctor.
  • Consider setting up an online tool (such as to organize well-wishers who wish to provide tangible support.
  • Get a grasp of your parent’s finances. If they have an estate planner, make contact as this person will be of great support. Other questions to ask that help determine resources for covering costs of care and funeral expenses:
    • Does your parent have a long-term care insurance plan?
    • Was your parent a veteran?
    • Have they purchased a prepaid burial plan?
  • Consider securing a schedule of counseling visits to help you manage this upcoming loss while at the same time managing life – your own and the others who depend upon you. In this journey, taking care of your own self is just as important as caring for your parent.

An Aging Life Care Manager can provide you with direction on any or all of the above. Their knowledge of local resources and providers can greatly reduce the amount of time (and stress) you spend searching around to secure the best supports for you and your parent. This professional can also provide white glove communication between Hospice, in-home care providers, physicians, and family.

In fact, it is prudent to consider holding a Care Conference between these parties early on – and continue as needed – to assure all involved understand the vital nuances of the specific needs of your parent. The Aging Life Care Manager can serve as the facilitator for such meetings and send summary emails to the interested/involved family members as allowed by your parent.

With care and support, you can navigate and live through this difficult chapter in your life.

About the author: Lisa Laney, MSW, CMC is the owner of Mountain Premier Care Navigation in Asheville, North Carolina, and has worked with the aging population in the healthcare system since 1988. She serves as the facilitator for the Asheville Parkinson’s Support Group and is on the Board of Directors for the Aging Life Care Association.  She can be reached at or on Facebook

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Parents Aging at Home

Five Tips to Maintain an Aging Parent’s Independence at Home

Have you found yourself worried that something isn’t wrong with your aging parent, worried that you are overlooking a problem? Rather than wait for a crisis to strike, take time to plan for how you can maintain your loved one’s  safety and quality of life. Here are five strategies to keep status quo. 

When An Aging Parent is Fine…Strategies to Maintain Status Quo

by Miriam Zucker, LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM – Member of the Aging Life Care Association®


As an Aging Life Care Specialist™, I’m often contacted by family members asking for reassurance that they are not overlooking a need of an aging loved one. Because these are not emergency or crisis calls, these meetings give me an opportunity to discuss current care and future planning.

During a thorough assessment, I evaluate a broad array of areas including medical history, cognitive function, financial status, familial and community supports, as well as status of critical health and legal documents. When these questions don’t raise any red flags, I find myself having to reassure the family that they fortunate. But, at the same time, like a good scout – be prepared and practice prevention.

So just what is it I am telling families? It’s something like car maintenance. No squeaking brakes, or dashboard lights on, but you still bring your car in for maintenance. Some older adults, if you excuse the analogy, are just like that. Blessed with good health – realistic and accepting of their needs – they can remain safely in their homes.

To maintain status quo, Aging Life Care Specialists suggest five strategies:

1. A medic alert pendant or bracelet. Look for a system that has a fall alert built into its sensor. Unlike the commercials, there is no need to dial the phone, the sensor picks up on the fall and calls the designated numbers immediately.

2. Maintain a current list of all medications (and know where to find the list).

3. A notation of any food, medication, or latex allergies .

4. Prominently display a Community DNR (this is different than a hospital DNR).

5. A daily check-in call. Such calls allow for an adult child (or designated caller) to pick up on the slightest of changes in a parent’s cognitive status. Infections in older adults travel at lightning speed with altered mental status as one of the hallmarks that something is wrong. Urinary tract infections are notorious for causing this altered status.

One particular service that facilitates much of the above is Vial of Life . The Vial of Life program helps individuals compile their complete medical information and have it ready in their home for emergency personnel to reference.

These small but essential steps go a long way in helping an aging adult maintain his/her independence while at the same time living safely in their beloved home. Don’t wait for an emergency to seek the help of an Aging Life Care Specialist. Connect with one now to start the assessment process and build a maintenance plan that maximizes quality of life for everyone. Search for an expert at

About the author: Miriam Zucker, LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM, is an Aging Life Care Specialist practicing in Westchester County, New York. A social worker by training, she also serves on the faculty of The Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity where she helped found the Certificate Program in Geriatric Care Management.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.