Appropriate Gifts for Your Senior this Holiday Season

This may be our most asked question during this time of year! Finding gifts for our senior loved ones in assisted living or long-term care can be a challenge.

Holiday Gift Guide for Seniors

If you are hoping to find a more meaningful gift, here are a few ideas you might want to consider:

  • Produce a family video: This sounds more intimidating than it really is, especially if you have teenagers in your family. You can use a program like iMovie to create a family video that combines old videos with new ones. It might be that you include photos of your parent’s wedding and your own. If your tech skills won’t stretch that far, a free app like Flip-a-Gram allows you to create a video out of photos. It’s easy enough to use that even a rookie can add text and music to their video.

    calendar gift for senior parent

  • Make a family calendar: Another personal holiday gift is to consider is a family calendar. Your parents will probably love having a gift that chronicles your family’s history. You can work with a local printer to create one or use an online calendar creator. Mark important family events, such as birthdays and anniversaries, for each month. Personalize it with family photos.

  • Create a coupon book: One more gift suggestion is to create a coupon book. Have each member of your family add a few coupons to the book. Your teens, for example, could create a coupon for technical support to help their grandparents with their computer lessons. Another coupon another could be for a family picnic at a local park. The idea is to include coupons that allow your family to spend quality time together.

  • senior using tabletSplurge on a tablet device: Depending upon your budget, a tablet can be a great gift for an older adult. They are easy to use and will allow your parent a chance to connect on Facebook, check and send email, and download eBooks from their local library. If they have loved ones far away, they can use a video chat platforms like FaceTime, Google Duo or Skype to stay in touch.

Finally, it’s probably just as important for us to include a reminder on gifts that aren’t such great ideas to buy for seniors. Those include candles, electric blankets or foods that they are supposed to avoid if they are on a restricted diet.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Holidays!

Holiday Warning Signs that a Senior Needs Assisted Living

Sometimes the warning signs that a senior is struggling are obvious ones, such as frequent falls or a chronic health condition. But many times, the signs are small ones. These are easy for families, especially those that live far away, to overlook until a crisis occurs.

Warning Signs a Senior Loved One Needs Help

Here are a few warning signs we suggest families look for to determine just how well an aging loved one is managing things on their own:

  • Change in Appearance: Has a parent’s personal appearance declined? Are they bathing as often as they should? A hug can reveal changes in hygiene. Body odor and a decline in grooming habits are signs an older adult needs help with personal care.

  • Victim of Fraud: Falling victim to a scam or financial fraud is another warning sign. Does your mom seem to be missing money or giving money to people you don’t know? Financial mismanagement is something that can be hard to detect unless you have access to her accounts.

  • Messy Home: A change in the way your mom maintains her home can also tell an important tale. Is the home messier than you’ve ever seen it? If the refrigerator full of outdated foods? Does her cookware have dark scorch marks that might indicate she is forgetting about food she’s cooking on the stove?

  • Unintended Weight Loss or Gain: Unintentional weight gain or loss can be indicative of a few different problems. Sometimes it is a health issue, while other times, it is because a senior isn’t able to drive to the grocery store or prepare meals. Pay attention to those details on your visit.

  • Balance Problems: Also keep an eye on how well your mom navigates her way around her home and yard. Does she seem more sedentary? Is she avoiding using the stairs or reluctant to leave home? These are all warning signs that may indicate she’s fearful of falling.

  • Change in Disposition: Has your always-social mom withdrawn from hobbies and friends? Does she seem moody or quick to anger? A change is disposition isn’t a typical part of aging.


How to Vote When Living at an Assisted Living Community

Election Day is Tuesday, November 2, 2021. Voting is a fundamental right of all Americans, therefore, federal laws are in place to ensure everyone has the right to vote regardless of where they live. This means there are accommodations in place to help those living — or temporarily recovering — in assisted living or skilled nursing gain the access they need to vote.

Voting Options for Older Adults Who Need Assistance

You can vote in person on Election Day or by absentee ballot prior to Election Day. Many senior living or long-term care facilities will provide transportation to the polls on Election Day.

If voting by absentee ballot, you need to fill out and return an application and then the absentee ballot will be mailed to you. Find the Ohio absentee application and more information here.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is three days before the election in which you want to vote; however, you can submit an application at any time so don’t wait if you plan to go this route.

When returning by mail, absentee ballots must be postmarked by the day before the election in order to be counted. Absentee ballots can also be returned in-person before the close of the polls on Election Day.

Requesting Assistance With Your Ballot

If you need assistance with your ballot because of a disability, you may bring someone with you to help you vote. You may ask anyone to help you vote unless they are on the ballot.

You also may ask for assistance from two precinct election officials from each of the major political parties. No one who helps you vote can tell you how you must vote or provide information to others about how you voted.

If you cannot make it to the polls, your county board of elections can deliver the ballot and provide assistance. Two election officials of different political parties must deliver the ballot and return it to the board of elections. Contact your local board of elections to receive details regarding this process.

Are the Polls Accessible for Those with Disabilities?

Voting locations must be free of barriers to enter and exit and must have ramps, wide doors and accessible parking for people with disabilities. If a location is exempt from accessibility requirements, curbside voting must be offered to those with disabilities. That means two election officials from each of the major political parties will bring a ballot to you.

Ohio also requires every polling location to have a voting machine that is accessible to individuals with disabilities. These machines include features like audio ballots, braille touch pads, large print, text-zoom features and height and tilt adjustments on the screens.

Make sure to tell poll workers if you require an accessible voting system.

Learn more on how to register or update your voter registration in Ohio right here.


Open Enrollment: Who, What, Why and How

Many find that working your way through the Medicare Open Enrollment process for the first time can be very daunting! Seniors are bombarded with information by mail and even on television commercials but what information is actually necessary for open enrollment?

Here’s a quick overview of what you should know to help make the most of Medicare:

  • Medicare Open Enrollment allows older adults enrolled in Medicare to make changes to their plan once each year. Open Enrollment takes place every year from October 15th through December 7th.
  • Any changes that you make during this time will go into effect January 1st of 2022.
  • During the Open Enrollment period, you can sign up for original Medicare (parts A and B), Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage), or a Medicare Advantage Plan (part C).
  • Seniors may be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan in lieu of traditional Medicare, these types of plans are offered by private insurance companies through an HMO or PPO.
  • Each year Medicare plans, providers and options change. This year, plan premiums are historically low so with some research, you might be able to find a more desirable plan with a wider range of providers to better meet your needs. Medicare plans for the upcoming year typically become available on in October. To review potential options, use the Plan Finder Tool on the Medicare website.
  • There are also Medicare specialists available to help you through this process. You can search to find one near you. It’s important to call for an appointment early, however. Don’t wait until the deadline is looming to try to book time.

Is this Alzheimer’s?

A concern we frequently hear from Columbus area family caregivers is that they don’t know how to tell if the changes they see in the person they care for are a normal part of aging or Alzheimer’s disease. Loved ones often rush to the conclusion that their family member has Alzheimer’s when they exhibit one of the behaviors commonly associated with disease.

Forgetfulness and confusion can be early warning signs of many of the types of dementia that we are at greater risk for developing as we age. Those symptoms can also be the result of less serious health conditions that can be reversed with medical intervention.

6 Health Conditions that Mimic Alzheimer’s Disease

When you take your senior loved one to visit their primary care physician to talk about these new symptoms and what might be wrong, a few conditions they will likely investigate before making a diagnosis include:

1.  Urinary Tract Infection. One of the first conditions a primary care physician will likely test for is a urinary tract infection or something similar. Weaker immune systems and chronic health conditions can put seniors at greater risk for developing one. The classic symptoms of an infection – such as disorientation and confusion – can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease.

2.  Vitamin B-12 Deficiency. Another condition your senior loved one’s family physician will test for is a Vitamin B-12 deficiency. The symptoms can present like dementia: memory loss, confusion, and problems with concentration. Aging adults who live alone and have problems cooking healthy meals on their own can be a risk for vitamin B-12 and other nutrient deficiencies.

3.  Depression.  This one is sometimes overlooked in exploring what might be causing memory loss and forgetfulness. But depression among the elderly is common. Pseudodementia is the term used to describe when a person’s depression causes symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

4.  Dehydration. While dehydration can occur amongst seniors any time of year, older adults are especially vulnerable during the dog days of summer. The symptoms of a heat-related illness like dehydration include confusion, irritability, and disorientation.

5.  Thyroid function. People often develop problems with thyroid function in later life. It might be a drop in thyroid function or that the thyroid becomes overactive. Both can lead to problems with concentration and memory.

6.  Diabetes and blood sugar. If blood sugar isn’t controlled or if a senior has undiagnosed diabetes, it can look like Alzheimer’s disease. Common symptoms include disorientation, agitation, and unusual behaviors.

These conditions can typically all be reversed with medical intervention and treatment. The key is to make sure you schedule an appointment with a geriatric care or family physician right away. Even if the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s, there are some medications available today that show promise in slowing the progression of the disease.

Do you know a loved one experiencing any of these health conditions? 


Flu Shot and Seniors

Dear Dr. Dineen:

My 87-year old mother moved in with us this past summer. She is still fairly active and independent but just wasn’t safe on her own any longer. I’m trying to convince her to get a flu shot. Since she had it last year, she doesn’t want to get it again. Mom thinks if she gets it every few years she will be fine.

My concern this year is that now that she is living with us, she will be around many more people than she is used to coming in contact with during flu season. We have three teenagers and their friends are here all the time. I think it will increase the likelihood of her getting sick if she won’t get the flu vaccine.

Should I keep trying to convince her or is it really only necessary to get the shot every few years?


Dear Kirsten:

The best way to prevent being bitten by the flu bug is to have a flu shot every fall. October or early November are the best times to receive the vaccine.

For older adults, like your mother, the flu shot is a must.

Seniors sometimes hesitate to get the vaccine because they mistakenly think it will give them a mild case of the flu. Others think the vaccine really doesn’t change much from year to year so they don’t need it as often. Both myths can result in a senior getting a life-threatening case of the flu that requires hospitalization.

Flu Shots Can Help

These statistics might help you convince your mother to be vaccinated:

A flu shot is an easy, preventative measure that can help a senior from becoming a statistic this flu season.

A resource I like to share with patients who want to know more about flu season and how to stay protected is from the Department of Health & Human Services. Visit the Seniors page on to learn more.

Kirsten, I hope this information helps you convince your mom! If you have any other questions about the flu shot, please give us a call at 614.345.9500.

Dr. Patrick Dineen


7 Important Stimulating Memory Care Activities

If you’re caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it may be hard to know how to help them. Of course, you want to make their life as easy as possible but it may be difficult to know exactly what they need. Are the questions you’re asking them and the activities you’re doing with them right for their needs?

In short, it’s not always easy to know exactly what your parent is going through. However, the more time you spend with them and the more activities you complete together, the more comfortable you’ll become knowing that what you’re doing really is helping them.

You may be wondering if activities really are crucial to helping your parent. We’ve compiled a list to help you know that yes, they are — and what activities can help your parent.

Related: How to Communicate with Your Parent’s Healthcare Providers

Why Are Memory Care Activities So Important?

1. Connect with others

Spending time with your loved one will mean more to them than you know, especially when you are making an effort to help them strengthen their cognitive abilities.

2. Keep enjoying activities they always have

Everyone wants to maintain a sense of independence, no matter what age they are. Continue to show your loved one how much they mean to you by doing activities with them that they’ve always enjoyed, such as knitting or gardening.

3. Continue a weekly routine

It’s important that your loved one continues what they’re used to doing, and incorporating activities into their weekly routine can be a great way to consistently be there for them. Consider visiting once a week and doing the same thing with them when you visit, such as a game of checkers or reading their favorite book together.

4. Help maintain cognitive abilities

It’s no secret that participating in these activities with your parent will help keep them sharp, and you’ll benefit by spending time with them. Check out this list below of activities that you can try at home, or when you visit them in a memory care community.

Related: Your First 48 Hours in Post-Hospital Rehabilitation

Memory Stimulating Activities to Try with Your Parent

So, now that you know that memory care activities are crucial for your loved one’s health, here are 7 activities to try with your parent:

1. Clean the house

Continuing everyday routines are important to someone with dementia, and a great activity to do together is to clean the house or place they’re staying in. This will establish a feeling of security and familiarity for your parent.

2. Listen to music

Listening to music together will help calm your parent and help them remember songs they love to listen to. Music can also help bring back memories.

3. Bake/Cook Together

Another activity your loved one might love to do is bake or cook. This is an easy way to continue to spend time with them, and baking or cooking simple recipes together can remind them how much they love doing this activity.

4. Play Games

You can help your parent maintain their motor skills by playing simple games with them — like checkers or card games. These games can help with memory and offer a sense of accomplishment.

5. Knitting/Painting

If your loved one used to love doing arts and crafts, consider encouraging them to paint or knit. This activity can help them remember how much they enjoy doing this, and help them use their hands and cognitive functions as well.

6. Get out in the garden

You may want to consider spending time with them in the garden. Your parent can help you with things such as raking, pulling weeds, or watering the flowers. They may not be able to do every activity they once did, but giving them small but meaningful tasks can help them feel a sense of accomplishment.

Related: 5 Amazing Health Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

7. Read together – or read to them

Your loved one may not be able to read like they used to, but inspire them to read a little bit each time you visit. If that’s not an option, consider reading their favorite book to them.

Related: Visual or Audible: Great Books For Seniors in Long-Term Care

Experience the Difference at MacIntosh

Memory loss is serious and it’s sometimes difficult for caregivers to provide all the necessary care on their own. Many family caregivers will choose to move those with memory issues to a memory care community where the staff is highly trained to deal with specific memory issues.

At MacIntosh,  we offer memory care programs at two of our communities, Monterey and West Park. Our communities include an outside courtyard, courteous and consistent staff members, many activities and a monthly support group. Learn more about the one-of-a-kind care we provide here.

Learn More About Long Term Care


How Diabetes Can Affect Rehabilitation

If you’re a person with Type 2 diabetes, you’re probably already aware that you will always experience medical complications. That risk is heightened if you’re older, overweight or in poor health.

What can you expect from post-surgical rehab?

Even if your blood sugar was under control when you went in for surgery, it may well not be afterward. The stresses—physical and mental—of surgery may cause changes in hormone levels, such as increased insulin resistance, lower insulin secretion and less glucose uptake into cells. This may result in hyperglycemia.


Should your family visit you in rehab?


Post-Surgical Complications for Diabetics

Hyperglycemia and other post-surgical problems may cause dehydration or other symptoms that include:

  • Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome which causes high glucose levels, dehydration and decreased consciousness.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis makes insulin less effective in burning glucose. Instead, the body burns fat, causing a build-up of ketones. Dehydration may be a cause.
  • Impaired wound healing because of poor circulation, nerve damage, weakened immune systems, and skin problems.
  • Infection caused by poor circulation, nerve damage, weakened immune systems, and skin problems.
  • Sepsis is a severe type of infection caused by bacteria in the blood stream.
  • Endothelial dysfunction resulting from high glucose levels that increase risk of inflammation or injury to the lining of blood vessels.
  • Ischemia is a lack of blood supply to a part of the body leading to tissue death in the affected area. In addition to diabetes, gastrointestinal upset and dehydration increase risk.
  • Electrolyte imbalance may be caused by stress, medications and anesthesia, resulting in nausea, vomiting and dehydration.
  • Renal failure is always a risk for diabetics. That risk increases when electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, medication reactions, abnormal blood pressure, sepsis and trauma occur.
  • Heart arrhythmias may result from a variety of factors, including hyperglycemia, heart disease, certain medications, hypertension, obesity, and electrolyte imbalance.
    Once you’re stabilized after surgery, you may stay in the hospital for a few days before being moved by ambulance to a rehab center.

Your Treatment Depends on Various Factors

Your schedule, nutrition, pain medication and wound care will be determined by your doctor based on your unique needs. When treating diabetics, doctors must consider:

  • Stability/control of glucose levels
  • Age
  • Diabetes treatment regimen
  • Existing complications
  • Existing illness
  • Malnutrition
  • Length of time with diabetes
  • Physical fitness

Even before surgery, if you have diabetes, you must stabilize your glucose levels and maintain a healthy diet and weight for the best results.

There Is No Average Rehab Stay

No matter what type of surgery you have, there is no average rehab stay. Your stay depends on your health and your level of function. And, being a diabetic, it’s more likely you may experience slower wound healing and stay longer.

Try to maintain realistic expectations for your rehab stay.

How to Get Home Faster

Your health depends on following your doctor’s orders. Whether you are in rehab or not, following International Diabetes Federation guidelines will reduce your risk of developing complications from diabetes.

  • Eat healthy
  • Get physical exercise
  • Lose weight
  • Follow medical advice
  • Reduce stress
  • Stop smoking

Your stay in the rehab center is sure to put you on the right path.

Looking for a Rehab Center?

Many doctors recommend you select a rehab center before surgery. When selecting a rehab center, make sure you consider important factors, such as Medicare ratings.

Have further questions on what to ask when choosing a skilled rehab center? Feel free to contact us for more information!


Holiday Decorating with Dementia

When a central Ohio loved one who lives with you has Alzheimer’s disease, the holiday season can present more than a few unique challenges. One of those challenges is decorating. Decking the halls for Christmas or Hanukkah is a tradition many families enjoy doing together every year. The tinsel and twinkle add to the festive nature of the season. But for someone who has dementia, holiday décor can be disorienting and oftentimes even frightening. Added to that is the risk of injury.

Before you pull your holiday boxes from the attic this year, here are a few safety precautions to consider.

Home Decorating Safety When a Loved One has Alzheimer’s Disease

1. Clear the Path. Many seniors who live with dementia experience problems with balance. That change in gait can put them at greater risk for a debilitating fall. As your decorations go up, be sure to keep pathways clear, especially if your senior loved one is prone to agitation and pacing.

2. Avoid Animations. Families with small children often enjoy decorating with animated holiday characters ranging from life-sized Santas to elves and reindeer. In addition to flashing lights, some even talk, move, and sing. For a person with Alzheimer’s, these types of decorations can be frightening. It is probably best to avoid them or to limit them to rooms your senior loved one doesn’t go in.

3. Watch the Lights. Holiday decorations with blinking or twinkling lights can be disorienting for a person with dementia. Lights that stay on are less distracting and a better option for someone living with dementia.

4. Avoid Faux Food Decorations. Ornaments that look like gingerbread men or sugared faux fruit found in centerpieces can be confusing for someone with Alzheimer’s. A rule of thumb when decorating for the holidays is if an object looks good enough to eat, it just might be. That can increase your senior loved one’s risk for choking or poisoning.

Our final tip is to remember that too much noise and over-stimulation can increase agitation, pacing, and wandering in those living with Alzheimer’s disease. If your decorating party is likely to be a boisterous one, remember to set up a quiet room for your loved one to retreat to until the house is calm again.


What Are Activities of Daily Living?

Activities of daily living are the things people do every day, like eating, bathing or dressing.

That’s the short answer. The long one includes answers to questions like why activities of daily living (ADLs) matter and how they can help you tell what level of care your parent needs.

Here’s what you need to know about activities of daily living, without the confusing medical jargon.

List of Activities of Daily Living

Basic Activities of Daily Living

Activities of daily living have been around for as long as humans have, obviously. But they were first defined by Dr. Sidney Katz and his team at Benjamin Rose Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1950s.

Katz and his team defined the activities in order to evaluate patients’ ability to function independently. The activities they monitored were:

  • bathing
  • dressing
  • toileting and continence
  • transferring
  • feeding/eating

These are what are known as basic activities of daily living. However, the list doesn’t stop there.


Related: What is Long-Term Care?


Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Since the 1950s, researchers in the medical field have expanded on Katz’s groundbreaking work.

In the late 1960s, M. Powell Lawton, PhD, and Elaine M. Brody, ACSW, developed a scale for Instrumental Activities of Daily Living. Essentially, they made the point that while Katz’s ADLs were helpful in determining a person’s ability to function independently, they were missing important aspects of everyday life.

“[The IADL scale] taps a level of functioning heretofore inadequately represented in attempts to assess everyday functional competence,” they wrote.

They wanted to find a way to asses not just “life maintenance” tasks like eating and bathing, but “functional health” tasks like socializing or handling finances.

The IADL scale they came up with included these tasks:

  • ability to use telephone
  • shopping
  • food preparation
  • housekeeping
  • laundry
  • mode of transportation
  • responsibility for own medications
  • ability to handle finances

An interesting historical side note: at the time, the paper published by Lawton and Brody did not measure male participants’ ability to prepare food, clean the house or do laundry. Only the women were assessed in those areas.

Of course, the lists of ADLs and IADLs given above are still a topic of discussion in the medical community. They continue to evolve and grow, and can vary depending on the individual or condition. For example, cultural differences or environmental factors could affect how you would measure someone’s ability.

Case in point, as we mentioned above, 50 years ago Lawton and Brody didn’t measure men’s ability to prepare food. Because of the societal norms in place at the time, it’s likely men would have appeared less independent than they really were due to relying on a spouse or relative for cooking.

Instrumental activities of daily living have since been updated from the original ones outlined by Lawton and Brody to:

  • cooking
  • medication management
  • shopping
  • communicating via telephone
  • managing money and finances
  • performing housework
  • driving or using public transportation
  • laundering clothing

You’ll notice that most of those aren’t limited to the individual completing the tasks themselves. For example, if your mom prefers not to drive but is perfectly capable of using public transportation or calling a taxi, she wouldn’t be considered impaired in that area.

Why Are Activities of Daily Living Important?

Activities of daily living help determine what level of care is right for your parent, should you begin to notice a decline in their overall health.

For example, many people have difficulty determining which is right for their parent, assisted living or long-term care (also known as skilled nursing). It really depends on your parent, but in general, those who need help with one or two ADLs tend to be better suited for assisted living while those who need help with multiple ADLs would likely be better served in long-term care.

Of course, it also depends on how much help your parent needs in each area. Assisted living is for seniors who need a little help with activities of daily living. Long-term care is for seniors who need more extensive care due to more severe physical or cognitive impairments.

How To Assess Your Parents ADL Ability

This is something you can consult your doctor on, or discuss with an assisted living or long-term care community. However, if you’re wondering where to start, you can review the lists above and form an honest assessment of your parent’s ability in each area.

Questions About ADLs?

If you have any questions about activities of daily living or what services may be best for your parent, we’re happy to help. Contact us today and we’ll connect you with one of our experts to get the answers you need.