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AGING WITH DIGNITY: A Playbook from Beth Bowlen and Mark Koebrich 

How to Help and Honor Your Parents through their Later Years 

 
 
Beth Bowlen​, daughter of Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, and ​Mark 
Koebrich​, former 9NEWS anchor who is currently assigned to the 9News Senior 
Source campaign, have teamed up on a “playbook” to help us navigate the 
aging process with our parents and loved ones. 
 
Beth draws from her experience in helping to care for her father Pat Bowlen, 
owner of the Denver Broncos and one of the most iconic NFL owners in the 
history of the league.  

Mark draws from his experience in helping to care for his father and 
mother-in-law, in addition to what he has learned from his extensive reporting 
about the aging process on Senior Source on 9NEWS and 9NEWS.com. 

The playbook also draws on the expertise of more than 20 local experts 
including doctors, caregivers, and providers like Seniors’ Resource Center the 
Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and many other professionals 
who practice and work in the Alzheimer’s and dementia space. 

“Without emotional preparation and a solid game plan,” says Mark, “the aging of 
a parent or loved one can be very difficult for all involved.” 

The “Aging with Dignity P​laybook’ covers lessons that Beth and Mark have 
learned and includes suggestions, advice and resources for planning and 
managing what may come.  

 
Introduction 

A Weak Game Plan, Decline and Role Reversals  

Through the many stages of our lives, we have informational resources to help 
and guide us along our way. Most of us also have family and friends to turn to, 
especially when it comes to having and raising children. Parents and 
grandparents are usually more than happy to offer advice about raising the next 
generation. 

But it’s a different story at the other end of life, particularly when we are 
confronted with the aging of our parents (and loved ones). Friends and family 
may be less able or less eager to help. The challenges are compounded when 
our parents experience dementia and other mental and physical and emotional 
health issues that are complex and difficult to understand. There are resources 
out there, but they are not always easy to find. Plus, everyone ages differently 
and every situation is unique.  

Turnovers 

Emotional preparation is key because roles are reversed. Many of us are not 
emotionally prepared to take care of those who have taken care of us. 
Long-buried emotional issues can surface.  

Family and friends can help, but they may have their own caregiving 
responsibilities or may not live close enough or have the resources to help. 
Unlike child-rearing, challenges tend to increase over time when caring for aging 
loved ones. It is not unusual for family caregivers to feel like they are on their 
own. And too often, the aging parent or loved one feels like a burden, dismissed 
and forgotten. Resentment and obstinance can result as the elderly individual 
experiences a loss of control over their own decision-making.  
 
At Stake: Dignity and Family Relationships 
 
Without emotional preparation and a solid game plan, the aging of a parent or 
loved one can be very difficult -- physically, socially and emotionally – for all 
involved. The worst thing that happens? The loss of dignity by the aging parent. 
Too often, that loved one becomes defined and remembered by the decline they 
experience in their later years. Family relationships are often strained during the 
aging process of a loved one. 
 
The Goal Line: Honor & Dignity 
 
Beth and Mark believe that our later years should be filled with honor, 
remembrance and celebration. Our parents and loved ones should be 

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remembered for who they are, the relationships they’ve built and all they have 
accomplished.  
 
For most, this will not happen by chance. It takes an intentional effort, planning 
and perseverance to make this happen. It will take a team and a game plan. 
 
Beth and Mark are offering this "Playbook" for family caregivers to help get us to 
that goal line of honor and dignity. The playbook offers advice, solid solutions 
and identifies resources for dealing with the problems that come in helping 
loved ones through the aging process. It also provides a game plan to make the 
end of life a celebration, so that we can reach the end with honor and dignity. 
 
This Playbook is offered by Beth Bowlen and Mark Koebrich with support 
from Seniors’ Resource Center, 9News Senior Source, the 
Alzheimer's Association of Colorado and many wonderful experts 
who work everyday to improve or enhance the aging experience of 
older Americans in Colorado. 

   

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AGING WITH DIGNITY: A Playbook from Beth Bowlen and Mark Koebrich 

How to Help and “Honor” Your Parents through their Later Years 

When it comes to aging, Beth Bowlen thinks we’ve got it wrong. 

“Our society honors and celebrates birth, youth and the promise and hope that 
they bring,” says Beth. “Which is wonderful, but I think we can do better at the 
other end of life.” 

Beth has invested considerable time on this subject in her role on the Board of 
the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado and in her support of Seniors’ Resource 
Center. Her interest in seniors, the aging process and its impact on family 
caregivers, was spurred by the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s for her father Pat, 
long-time owner of the Denver Broncos. 

In caring for an aging loved one, the challenges go beyond simply helping with 
everyday tasks such as giving rides or helping with medications, house-cleaning 
or meal preparation. What many families are not prepared for is the basket of 
emotions that come with caregiving for a parent. 
 
“It is common for family caregivers to feel overwhelmed,” says Mark Koebrich, 
who has personal experience with aging parents and who has followed many 
families on their journeys through the aging process. “Over time, it is easy for 
family caregivers to feel guilt, anger and resentment about the situation they find 
themselves in.”  
 
Underlying it all is denial. Denial from the parent about the help they need and 
about the level of decline they are experiencing. Denial from family members 
about the degree of help that is needed. It is not uncommon that family 
members disagree about the level of help that is needed, and who should 
provide it.  
 
As a result, family caregivers suffer and family relationships are strained. It is not 
unusual for families to splinter and become fragmented during the aging 
process of a loved one. While this can and should be a time to honor and 
celebrate, it can get lost in the logistical and emotional work of caregiving. 
 
“Too often, our aging loved ones lose their dignity through this process,” says 
Mark. “The last chapters of life should filled with honor, remembrance and 
celebration.” 
 
Beth and Mark encourage families to have discussions ahead of time, before 
problems occur and include elderly parents, aging spouses and those directly 

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affected with the aging process before a crisis arises... Learn about the 
resources that are available before you need them.  
 
 
Honor and Celebrate 
 
For many families, the physical and emotional demands placed on caregivers 
can be overwhelming. The danger is that the demands of the process can pull 
all attention and energy to the day-to-day issues and to reacting to any crisis 
that might arise. And sadly, it is natural for families and caregivers to frequently 
find themselves in “crisis mode.”  
 
When this happens, depending the severity of the problem, the dignity of the 
parent can be sacrificed. Which is why Beth and Mark recommend that you 
begin early with how you might honor and celebrate your parents. 
 
Experts also agree that you should think about how you might do that early on, 
rather than in later years when physical, mental and emotional decline begin to 
creep in and lessen your opportunities. 
 
“We are all unique individuals and we all have stories,” says Mark. “And aging 
family members are often able to pull up many small details about growing up, 
relationships with siblings or spouses, and wonderful times spent with close 
friends. Helping them to recall those moments, I have discovered,” Mark 
continues, “can produce feelings of being connected and generate 
conversations with loved ones who have largely withdrawn.”   
 
The following ideas offer possible avenues for reaching out. They are excerpted 
from ​Seven Ways to Honor an Elderly Parent​, by In Touch Ministries: 
 
1. Express appreciation​ through a gratitude list that specifically names the 
actions, activities, and virtues your parents fostered that were positive in 
your life. Present it as something that could be framed and kept.  
 
2. Give the gift of presence.​ Thanks to technology, we have so many ways to 
offer our time. When possible, in-person visits are best of course. But 
calls, cards, or even simple “thinking of you today” text messages can 
communicate care and pierce the isolation many elderly feel. Work as well 
at connecting your children to their grandparents’ lives.  
 
3. Seek to understand them.​  Show interest in their past, their stories, their 
photos. This is, after all, ​your​ family history as well. If possible, record the 
memorable family stories others will enjoy.  
 

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4. Involve them in decisions regarding their future and their care,​ whenever 
possible. Many elderly experience a sense of powerlessness over their 
own lives. Make time to hear their concerns, and respond to them. Help 
them to feel heard. 
 
5. Help them financially​, as you are able. You already know the obvious 
reasons: They gave you life, first. That’s enough right there. Now add 
food, a bed, music lessons, baseball games, science projects, and so on.  
 
6. Sincerely ask them to forgive you​ for the lapses, inadequacies, and 
rebellions of your past and your part in whatever difficulties have occurred 
between you. A humble heart heals both confessor and hearer. 
 
7. Forgive ​them​.​ If the six suggestions above feel impossible to you, reverse the 
list and start here. Release your parents from the debts they owe you. 
Understand that they cannot pay back what they owe us—often they are 
bankrupt themselves. So we pass on to them the gift of mercy.  
 
The Alzheimer’s Association also offers an exercise for caregivers to help their 
loved one rediscover their dignity and worth. Just go to: 
https://www.alz.org/i-have-alz/live-well.asp 

 
Prepare Yourself: Dementia Affects One-Third of Seniors 
 
After this initial focus on how to honor and celebrate your aging parent, prepare 
yourself and be aware of the potential challenges ahead. 

Seemingly everywhere you look these days, you can find people who are living 
well into their eighties, nineties, and hundreds. These are the "new elderly" with 
a longer life expectancy than the generations that preceded them. They are a 
group that has increased mobility, a broad range of interest, financial means and 
very often, they lead full and vital lives until their later years when they need 
help.  

But because of increased life expectancies, people may need help for a longer 
period of time than in the past. People may also live beyond their resources.​ On 
top of all this, most people want to live in their own homes or with family for as 
long as possible. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors dies with some 
form of dementia. And b​y the age of 85, one in every two people can expect to 
experience some form of and degree of dementia.  

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Mental infirmities such as dementia are in fact so prevalent, that they have 
caused the Denver Police Department to change practices. The Colorado 
chapter of the Alzheimer's Association says that when officers are sent on a 
domestic call for seniors, they anticipate the chance of discovering one person 
with dementia and one caregiver. And usually, that caregiver has found 
themselves overwhelmed by the task. 
 
Caregiving can be too much for one person or even a family alone. Caregivers 
need support. Organizations like Seniors’ Resource Center (SRC) exist to 
provide this support, whether it is through in home services or transportation or 
adult day care and caregiver respite. “We see it all the time. People get burned 
out, feel guilty, and are unsure of where to turn,” says SRC’s President and 
CEO, Monica Roers. “Caregiving does not come with any training. It’s crucial to 
know that there are resources out there, and to find experienced and caring 
people who can help.” 
 
Not being prepared again results in a loss of dignity for the aging family 
member, and new trauma for the family caregiver. 
 
At the heart of the challenges for families who are faced with helping or taking 
care of an aging parent or family member, is the difficulty that comes in 
identifying the current condition of the loved one and preparing for the changes 
that may or may not come. 
 
According to the World Health Organization:  
 
● Dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, 
thinking, behavior and the ability to perform everyday activities.
● Although dementia mainly affects older people, it is not a normal part of 
aging.
● Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and may 
contribute to 60–70% of cases.
● Dementia has a physical, psychological, social, and economical impact, 
not only on people with dementia, but also on their careers, families and 
society at large.
 
Although Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, the issues to be 
faced are similar from family to family, whether it is diagnosed dementia or 
simply a general decline resulting from the aging process.  
 
Many people dealing with dementia experience anxiety and depression, as can 
their caregivers. It is important to recognize the need and reach out for help. 
Senior Reach is one option. It’s a simple way to help older adults get assistance 
before a crisis develops. The service includes counseling, care management, 
screening and treatment and serves those 50 and older in Boulder, Broomfield, 

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Jefferson, Clear Creek and Gilpin counties. Senior Reach can be reached at 
1.866.217.5808 or www.SeniorReach.org. 
 
Understanding and anticipating the needs of the aging loved one, identifying 
and planning the help that is needed on a regular basis, and managing the 
emotions that come with family caregiving is truly a balancing act.  
 
“To do all of this with a minimum of angst and as few surprises as possible,” 
says Mark, “treating your parent with honor and dignity requires a clear mission, 
a good team and a good plan.” 
 
1. "START THE CONVERSATION"  ​  

“I was so proud of my father for his willingness to make an impact on 


Alzheimer’s by telling the world that he was suffering,” says Beth.  

The day after Mr. Bowlen’s announcement in 2014, a family member called the 
Helpline at Alzheimer’s Association to say her dad had shared his diagnosis with 
the family because the owner of the Broncos had publicly shared his diagnosis. 
He told his family that if Mr. Bowlen could talk about it, he could too. 

Beth’s hope is that this Playbook will have a similar effect and stimulate overdue 
conversations among families about their aging parents.

That Helpline by the way is free and is available 24/7 with translation services for 
more than 200 languages and dialects. It’s a wonderful resource for people 
looking for information about memory loss or to connect with resources in the 
Association or in their community. The Helpline number is 1-800-272-3900.

“If there is one thing that people remember about this Playbook,” says Beth, I 
hope it is this: Start the conversation before a crisis hits and start it with your 
aging parent(s) while they can contribute in a meaningful way to the 
conversation.” 

According to ​Prepare to Care​ a helpful guide from AARP, A lot of uncertainty 


can be avoided if you talk with your loved one before something happens. It’s 
easy to put off these conversations because they can be difficult. According to 
the guide: 
 
Families often make the mistake of starting their caregiving plan in reaction to a 
fall, an accident or a diagnosis. ​At this point, parents may no longer be 
able to contribute to important decisions and may not be able to 
adequately express their basic needs. They may also be frustrated with 
unwanted interference from meddling relatives or close friends. 

For your family’s caregiving plan, the best way to ensure that your plan will be 
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honoring and respectful is by including your parent(s) in the development of the 
plan. ​If possible, start this process when your parent is of sound mind and able 
to convey their wishes. 

“At this time, when your parent(s) is of sound mind, it is also important to 
discuss and put in place Medical and Durable Powers of Attorney,” ​says Susan 
Stern, who serves on the Community Advisory Committee of Seniors’ Resource 
Center and is a long-time volunteer and supporter.  

“​This cannot be done in a crisis, when the individual may be unable to make 
such decisions,” says Susan, “which may result in obtaining Guardianship 
and/or Conservatorship.” (See pages 23-26 of the ​Colorado Senior Law 
Handbook​, which has links at the end of this Playbook.) 

Work with your aging loved one to make sure that you understand what they 
value most as they age. What are their “must-haves” as their capacities are 
diminished? What are their “non-negotiables”? 

Mark believes that involving our aging loved ones in this planning is respectful 
and makes it more likely that they will cooperate with the caregiving plan. 
Experts agree that family caregivers need to adopt a viewpoint of sensitivity and 
empathy, which engenders a respectful plan.  

Keys to the Game: Get started. Clarify the Goal. Recognize the challenges. 
Start the plan with your parents. Know their wishes. 

2. "DON’T GO IT ALONE: DRAFT YOUR TEAM" 

Caring for an aging parent or loved one is typically too big of a job for one 
person. It is necessary to identify potential resources to help in the caregiving 
plan. The size of each person’s role may differ, but it still takes a team. If 
possible, a family caregiver should never “go it alone.” 

The team may also need outside support. A good place to start is our local Area 
Agency on Aging (AAA), which serves eight counties around the Denver metro 
area. The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) manages this 
agency and offers a range of services and referrals for older adults and their 
caregivers. Their number is 303-480-6700, and they also offer a website 
directory of resources at 
http://denverregion.co.networkofcare.org/aging/index.aspx​. Seniors’ Resource 
Center is a provider agency for the AAA. For resources in other areas of 
Colorado, there are 15 additional Area Agencies on Aging to meet the diverse 
needs of older adults and their family caregivers. 

“Often, family caregivers begin their roles by helping family members with small 

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needs,” says Susan. “But as time goes on, they find themselves delivering more 
and more care as the disease progresses.”   
 
“Caregiving is insidious,” says Susan, “like a slow boil.” It has a cumulative 
effect, especially with diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which become 
worse over time. Issues and needs start out requiring small caregiving tasks, but 
needs increase over time. By then, the caregiver role is established and 
caregivers feel it is their duty to care for the family member at home.  
 
Although overwhelmed, Susan says that family caregivers are reluctant to ask 
for help. According to Susan: 
 
• Family caregivers feel protective of their role and feel no one else can 
do it like they can, even though it has become overwhelming. 
• Family caregivers lack knowledge about available resources and how to 
obtain services, such as: Adult day care, home health agencies for 
companion care and home help, and VA (Veterans Administration) and 
Medicaid benefits, if eligible. 
• Cost of care is a factor. Many families feel they cannot pay for help in 
the home or daycare programs. This can be the reality of the situation 
or perceived because they feel funds will be needed down the road for 
care.   
• Often times there are unresolved family issues and the caregiver feels 
the need to care for an elderly family member out of guilt, hoping to 
resolve issues – which usually results in adverse situations. 
• Many families don’t want strangers in their homes. 
 

Family caregivers must watch out for caregiver “burnout.” Role fatigue, 
economic pressure and isolation are challenges for the caregiver. On top of that, 
caregivers may grieve their loved one’s loss of function and their inability to take 
care of themselves. 

There are options for respite. Adult day care, even for a few hours a week, can 
make a huge difference. There are also caregiver support groups and 
organizations through which caregivers can find help or just connect with others 
going through the same thing. “It’s amazing to see the difference before and 
after a caregiver joins a support group, or hear about what a little respite has 
meant,” attests Monica Roers of Seniors’ Resource Center. “Caregivers feel 
renewed after a break and can more easily support loved ones with patience 
and dignity.” 

“Don’t go it alone,” agrees Mark. “It’s too much to handle without some kind of 
support system that you’ve had a hand in designing and can reach out to.” 

As cases of dementia progress, family caregivers may find themselves caring for 
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a loved one who does not recognize them and thinks of them as a stranger, and 
not a family member. This can be emotionally trying at best, and even 
devastating.  

It is also important to understand the extent of help that is typically provided by 
family caregivers. ​According to ​NORC​ at the University of Chicago, caregivers
do more than provide rides and run errands. Nearly half perform some kind of
medical care, from changing bandages to inserting catheters and feeding tubes. 
 
It is imperative that family caregivers become aware of resources that can help 
immediately, in the near-term and down the road. The Alzheimer’s Association 
of Colorado has specific (and free, as are all of their services) classes for 
caregivers on topics ranging from effective communication techniques for loved 
ones less able to communicate to financial and legal planning and most all other 
topics covered in the Playbook. Their professionals also offer support groups 
around the state. Information on all of these resources are available through the 
Helpline. 

The Alzheimer’s Association also partners with a broad spectrum of cultural 


organizations throughout the metro area, to include The Denver Art Museum, 
The Denver Botanic Gardens, The Lone Tree Arts Center, and Wonderbound to 
name a few, to offer persons in the early stages of dementia many programs 
they can participate in and provide a measure of relief for the caregiver. 
Information on the ‘SPARK!” program can be found at: 
https://www.alz.org/co/in_my_community_103124.asp

Putting Together a Team 

It is a good idea to have a “point” person to oversee the process and ​to drive it 
forward. This doesn’t have to mean this point person is in charge, it means that 
person is making sure the process is moving forward -- From the development 
to the implementation of the plan. 

When figuring out how you're loved one will be cared for, consider each family 
member's preferences, resources and abilities. Consider non-family members to 
join your team, such as their close friends, neighbors of your loved one, and if 
possible, their church congregation.  

Also look into community resources that can help. Seniors’ Resource Center has 
been providing in home support for seniors and caregivers for 40 years, and 
their adult day program specializes in care for those dealing with dementia. Find 
out more at www.srcaging.org/services To the degree possible, responsibilities 
should be shared in order to avoid caregiver burnout. 

Some team members might provide hands-on care, either in their own homes or 
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in your loved one's home. Others might be more comfortable with respite care, 
household chores or errands. You and your family might also choose someone 
to handle financial or legal issues. People who do not live close may be able to 
help with some of the financial needs instead. 

To stay on top of your loved one's care, plan regular family meetings. Include 
everyone who is a part of the caregiving team, including family friends and other 
close contacts. You might also share email updates with the entire family, or 
send updates through social media resources. 

During family meetings, discuss each person's caregiving responsibilities and 


challenges — and make changes as needed. Be open to compromise and 
possibilities you hadn't considered on your own. The Alzheimer’s Association of 
Colorado offers a “care team calendar” on which you can identify your needs, 
and give family and friends an opportunity to fill in where they can. Many 
families have labeled he calendar a very helpful solution. You can find by going 
to: h​ ttps://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-care-calendar.asp 

If that falls short, and your family meetings tend to turn into arguments, consider 
asking a counselor, social worker, mediator or other professional to moderate. 

Keys to the Game: Build your team with clear roles and responsibilities. 
Know their strengths and weaknesses. Make sure everyone knows the 
wishes of the loved one and understands the game plan. Build a deep and 
supportive bench. 

3.  START YOUR GAME PLAN 

Before starting your game plan, it is important to recognize that ​within every 
plan there must be flexibility to adapt to change​. Know that you will not be able 
to anticipate everything. Changes can come slowly through the normal aging 
process or it can come in fits and starts when dementia, especially Alzheimer’s, 
is involved. Or it can come instantly due to an accident, hospitalization or a new 
medical diagnosis. 

Your game plan should best suit the needs of your loved one and your unique 
family situation. It should help guide you through various stages of care, and can 
include a daily to-do-lists for medications, activities and social engagement. It 
may also include a timeline for alternate living situations. 
 
Even if your loved one does not currently need a care plan, beginning to put 
these pieces of the puzzle into place early on can save valuable time and help 
you avoid a great deal of stress later on. If you’re drafting the plan in advance, 
your parents do not necessarily have to share detailed financial or medical 
records with you just yet. But simply having them keep an updated file with this 
information can be incredibly helpful in the event of an emergency. This goes for 

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medications, health information, and legal documents as well. There should be 
multiple copies of crucial information in case of emergency. Should something 
happen, you will have the fundamental materials needed to make any decisions 
quickly and confidently. 
 
A very helpful guide can be found at www.agingcare.com, entitled ​Personal Care 
Plans: The Secret to Confidant Caregiving​. According to this article, a good plan 
would include the following: 
 
Assess the Situation​ -- The first step toward devising a care plan is to address 
any problem(s) at hand. Some loved ones may be resistant to such an 
“intrusion” into their personal affairs, but getting a complete snapshot of 
their situation is vital for developing an appropriate plan of action. On the 
other hand, this first step is also useful in identifying the areas in which a 
loved one is still self-sufficient and able to retain their independence. 
 
Identify Needs and Set Goals​ -- ​Make an ordered list of all shortcomings or 
concerns with the highest priorities at the top. Your loved one’s 
immediate health and well-being are of utmost importance, so if they are 
losing weight or not complying with their medication regimen, these 
problems must be dealt with first. 
Even if you do not identify any flaws in their day-to-day schedule, setting goals 
for their well-being is a useful way to convey your interest in and 
willingness to help them thrive. Longer-term objectives like financial, 
advance care, estate and funeral planning should also be addressed. 
 
Identify Gaps and Investigate Other Resources​ -- Any gaps or holes that remain 
in your care plan after you assign responsibilities to your team members 
should be filled by additional professional services, federal, state, or local 
programs. Your ​local Area Agency on Aging​ or a geriatric social worker 
can assist you in finding appropriate resources for your situation. While 
most families would prefer to keep their care team to family and close 
friends, this is not always realistic. Professional in-home care, adult day 
care, and respite services are often necessary to fill in any remaining 
holes. It can take a great deal of research to find the right programs or 
services to complete your care plan, but this effort is well worth it.  

Caregiver training resources can be found in your community at:


https://www.alz.org/co/in_my_community_104604.asp
or online at:
https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-care-training-certification.asp

In-home support services and respite care can be found at ​www.srcaging.org/services


and help with care management at ​www.srcaging.org/care-managment
 
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Keys to the Game: Start early, keep the goal in focus. Develop a 
customized plan that can be adapted to sudden changes in the game. 
Know the free agents (professional caregivers) who can help. 

 
  4. EXECUTING YOUR GAME PLAN 

Having a care plan and a care team in place will help you stay focused on 
honoring your parent, even as the situation evolves and changes. As in the NFL, 
the game will not likely develop as drawn up by the coaches on the sidelines. 
 
“Falls and new diagnoses are game-changers,” says Mark. “Changes come fast, 
are often dramatic and come when you least expect it.”   
 
As the game progresses there will be difficult situations to address, many of 
them emotional in nature. It is here where it is most challenging to support the 
honor and dignity of the loved one that you are attempting to help.  
 
“This is where families fall into “crisis-mode,” says Mark. “And where your loved 
one feels like a burden. They can be angry, resistant and uncooperative. 
Emotionally, this is a very challenging time for the family.” 
 
The Caregivers’ Survival Guide, which is available at AgingCare.com, identifies 
the following issues: 

● Resistance​. For many aging adults, the progressing years represent a 


series of increasingly hard-to-handle losses: loss of energy, loss of 
mobility, loss of hearing, loss of financial independence. These losses 
gradually chip away at their sense of freedom and can deal a significant 
blow to their self-esteem. This is the main reason why older people refuse 
help.
As a caregiver, your challenge will be to make sure your loved one is safe, 
healthy and getting the help they need. You need to be able to do this 
without overstepping your boundaries, which could cause them to 
become resentful and resistant to your assistance. 

Ask what they need help with. Show respect. Let them contribute. But 
remember, safety should always be your ultimate aim. If you have to 
assume total control of a task to make sure your loved one doesn’t get 
hurt, you should do so without hesitation. 

● Conflict Strategies​. As you begin taking on more and more responsibility 


as a caregiver, there will come a time when you will have to discuss 
sensitive issues with your aging family member. Here are 8 suggestions 
for doing that:
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1. Don’t give advice unless it’s asked for 
2. Pick your battles  
3. Listen to what they’re saying  
4. Accept differing viewpoints 
5. Speak calmly and clearly  
6. Don’t patronize 
7. Choose your setting carefully 
8. Put yourself in their shoes 
 

● Keeping Peace in the Family​. When a loved one starts to show signs of 
needing additional care, there are many issues for family members to 
discuss, and a host of important decisions that need to be made. The 
gravity and potential implications of these decisions can make for some 
contentious conversations—even among the most congenial clans. Here 
are a few techniques for keeping the peace when discussing an elderly 
loved one’s care needs with the rest of the family:
o Accept that not everyone wants to be involved: You don’t have to 
agree with it, but allowing resentment to build over unhelpful family 
members will only serve as an energy drain for those who do wish 
to provide assistance. 
o Pick a location: Family meetings should be conducted in a space 
where every member feels welcome and comfortable. If the family 
doesn’t have the time or resources to physically gather together in 
one space, remote conferencing tools, such as Skype and 
FaceTime, can be used to ensure that everyone who wishes to 
participate in the discussion is able to do so. 
o Plan ahead: Pick a set of talking points to cover during the 
conversation and make sure each point is addressed. 
o Consider outside help: If you know that your family has a tendency 
to be combative, you may want to think about asking an objective 
third-party, such as a family friend, a social worker or a clergyman, 
to sit in on the meeting and help facilitate the conversation. 
o Give everyone a say: All family members should be allowed to 
voice their opinions and emotions without fear of criticism or 
ridicule.
 

Keys to the Game: Stay Focused on the Goal. Let the Playbook guide you, 
but adjust to game changes. Effective communication with teammates.  

5. TOUCHDOWN: ADD MEANING TO THEIR LAST CHAPTERS 

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Although Beth and Mark encourage us to plan for aging, this idea is not a natural 
one in our youth-oriented, achievement-driven, technology-obsessed American 
society. In fact, we are bombarded daily with advertising for products and 
services that promise to keep us from looking and growing old.  

“I don’t know many people who are interested in planning for getting older,” 
admits Mark, whether it’s the aging of a parent or themselves. “But the fact is, it 
happens to each and every one of us,” he adds, “if we’re lucky.” 

Stephan Rechtschaffen, M.D., a holistic physician who directs the Omega 


Institute in ​Rhinebeck, NY, ​believes that Americans deny aging because we fear 
and deny death. 

"In our denial of death and the aging of the body, we have rejected the wisdom 
of the aged, and in doing so,” says Rechtschaffen, “have robbed old age of its 
meaning and youth of its direction."  

“There really is much to learn from other cultures about how to view and treat 
life in our later years,” says Beth. “Many cultures around the world truly respect 
and revere their elders for their wisdom and life experiences,” she says. 

“Our parents, our loved ones, have much to share with us about the things that 
really matter. Things such as love, compassion, loss, betrayal and faith.”  

Beth adds, “We should listen to them.” 

### 

Helpful Resources 

● Area Agency on Aging (DRCOG): drcog.org 


● AARP: ​aarp.org 
● Alzheimer’s Association:​ alz.org
● Caregivers: ​caregivers.com
● Caring Bridge: ​caringbridge.org
● Colorado Respite Coalition: ​coloradorespitecoalition.org
● Seniors BlueBook: ​seniorsbluebook.com
● Seniors’ Resource Center: ​srcaging.org
● Share the Care: ​sharethecare.org
● 9News Senior Source: ​9news.com/senior-source
 

### 

The link below is to the ​Colorado Senior Law Handbook. This helpful guide 
provides immediate access to the answers most caregivers are seeking in 

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setting-up care for their family members. There is guidance both for those who 
are just beginning the process with Mom or Dad, or to those who are deep into 
the caregiving conundrum and are finding they have questions. 

The Colorado Senior Law Handbook can be downloaded at 


SeniorSource@9news.com​. Helpful individual links can be found below. 

1- Social Security Benefits

2 - Medicare

3 - Health Insurance Beyond Medicare

4 - Medicaid

5 - Government Programs and Financial Assistance

6 - Veterans’ Benefits

7 - Long-Term Care Insurance

8 - Financial Difficulty for Seniors

9 - Employment Discrimination

10 - Workers’ Compensation and Seniors

11 - Arm Yourself with Consumer Protection Information

12 - Protecting Yourself from Crime

13 - Family Relationships

14 - Grandparent Custody and Visitation Issues

15 - Estate Planning: Wills, Trusts, and Your Property

16 - Estate and Succession Planning for

Farmers and Ranchers

17 - Annuities

18 - Philanthropy and Planned Giving

19 - Estate Planning For Non-Traditional Families

20 - Reverse Mortgages

21 - Assisted Living and Nursing Home Issues

22 - Hospital Discharge Planning:

Advocating for Seniors’ Medicare Rehabilitation Benefits

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23 - Powers of Attorney

24 - Medical Advance Directives

25 - Conservatorship of Adults

26 - Guardianship of Adults

27 - Hospice and Palliative Care: Options

for Care at the End of Life

28 - What to Do When Someone Dies:

Responsibilities of the Personal Representative and Trustee Under Probate

29 - Family Discussions, Decisions, and

Dispute Resolution

30 - Programs, Services, and Resources

for Older Adults

31 - Aging in Place: Maintaining Your

Independence at Home

32 - Lifelong Learning and the Aging Brain

33 - Mandatory Reporting of Elder Abuse

34 - Simplify Your Life: How to Manage

Your Estate and Life — and Benefit

You and Your Heirs

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