Tag Archives: Retirement Living

Tip of the Week: Give the Gift of Technology.

This month our tip blogs help you complete your holiday shopping list for the special loved ones on your list. Think outside the gift box this year with gifts that carry special meaning.

Technology can be a real blessing for families that are spread near and far. Brighten the lives of loved ones during the holidays and all year round with these helpful technology gifts:

  • Voice-activated home technology – Voice-activated, hands-free technology in the home allows you to do everything from turn on lights, to adjust the thermostat with just the sound of your voice. These devices make great gifts, especially for someone with mobility issues.
  • Electronic grocery and errand list organizer – Sometimes we all forget things, like what we want to buy from the store. This interesting gift option can help. A voice-activated organizer allows you to record items, categorize them, and print out your list when you’re ready to go. Hang it on the wall or keep it handy in your purse or bag.
  • Email printing service – An awesome gift idea for elderly parents who live away from their children, don’t use computers, and have no desire to deal with computers is an email printing service. This reasonably priced subscription service comes with a printer, which works without a computer. All you need to do is set up an account, plug the printer into a phone outlet, and it prints emails and photos from pre-approved senders, without the receiver being online.

Do you have any favorite technology gift suggestions?

Let us know on social media at LinkedIn and Google+).

Tip of the week: Stay hydrated.

This months tips will focus on safety to keep seniors from overheating in the late summer sun.

As we age, our bodies become less able to conserve water and slower to respond to changes in Staying Hydrated for Senior Citizenstemperature putting older adults at higher risk for dehydration. Also, chronic diseases and some types of medication make it harder for our bodies to absorb water. All of this means it is important for older adults and their caretakers to be mindful about staying hydrated, especially during the hottest months of the year.

To avoid dehydration, follow these tips:

  • Keep a water bottle or glass of water close at hand all day long.
  • Offer foods that are high in water content, like fruits and vegetables.
  • Reduce intake of coffee, alcohol, and high protein drinks, which have diuretic effects on the body and can cause dehydration.
  • Encourage elderly loved ones to drink small amounts of fluid throughout the day, rather than drinking large amounts all at once.

For more tips on protecting seniors from heat-related risks, stay tuned. And be sure to follow me on LinkedIn and Google+ for more news about keeping your loved ones safe.

5 essential tools for caring for yourself as the caregiver

The job of caring for an elderly adult is one of the most important and unfortunately, often one Caregivers for Elderly of the most thankless jobs a person can perform. Whether you are taking on the role of caregiver yourself or observing one of your older adult parents caring for the other, it’s crucial to keep in mind that if a caregiver is exhausted, everyone suffers. Self-care is as important for caregivers as providing care for another.

It is easy for caregivers to lose themselves in the daily work of providing for the health of their patients. Home healthcare often involves difficult physical labor, such as lifting another person into bed or into the bathtub, and stressful medical procedures, such as administering daily injections or time-sensitive medications. Especially in the beginning, having to complete these tasks each day can feel overwhelming. However, working yourself to the point of exhaustion or stress-induced illness is not a sustainable solution.

If you (or a caregiver you love) tend to neglect your own health or are experiencing signs of being overly tired, a gentle reminder about the airplane rule might be in order. Before takeoff, flight attendants always make the following announcement, while going over emergency procedures: put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others around you. It’s not selfish to make your own health a priority.

What are some tools you can use to ensure that you take care of yourself when you are the caregiver?

1. Make time for yourself: It’s easy to believe that when you are primarily responsible for the care of another, you can’t afford to take any time out for yourself. But everyone needs breaks. If you hold yourself responsible 24/7, you will quickly burn out. This is especially true when you are dealing with a stressful situation like caring for an elderly parent who has a serious medical condition. To make sure you are able to provide the best possible care, you need to take personal time off. So, take breaks even when it feels like you can’t. Taking even a few minutes for yourself can make a huge difference. Go for a brisk walk with a friend, read a few chapters of a good book, or simply relax in your favorite chair.

2. Take time to exercise: Staying physically active reduces stress. If the older adult relying on your care is able to get out of the house, make taking a stroll part of your daily routine. Getting out in nature is also a great stress reliever. So even a short walk or ride in the wheelchair around the neighborhood can do wonders to lift everyone’s mood.

3. Eat nutritious foods: One big factor in staying healthy and strong during mentally taxing situations like caring for someone with a chronic health condition is eating well. Avoid foods full of simple sugars, trans fats, and carbohydrates. Although these “comfort foods” might taste delicious and make you feel better for a moment, they can cause a quick spike in energy followed by a crash that can leave you feeling tired and irritable. Eating heart-healthy foods like leafy greens, fruit, and whole grains, gives you more energy, staves off depression, and prevents illness. Because eating well is challenging when you are busy caring for someone, a good healthy eating blog full of quick and easy recipes that work for you can literally be a lifesaver (here is helpful list of healthy eating blogs).

4. Accept help from others: Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to accept offers of help that come your way. There is no reason for you to bear the entire burden of caring for your loved one alone. Often family and friends hesitate to ask whether you need help, especially when you put on a brave face and seem to have everything under control. But it’s always good to have extra help and sometimes all it takes is for you to ask. If you are anxious about letting others help with providing personal or health care, think of other ways in which friends, neighbors, and family members could ease your burden. Here are some examples: providing a healthy meal once a week, doing some light housecleaning, or building an accessibility ramp.

5. Make connections: Finally, as a caregiver, you might need support to help you cope with the emotional, physical, and psychological toll that caregiving can take. There are many online support groups for caregivers. These groups provide a safe space to vent your frustrations as well as being a valuable resource where others can answer your questions and offer advice based on their own experiences. Keep in mind, though, that while online connections are great, they can’t replace real-life interactions. Make it a point to get out of the house at least once a week: go to lunch with a friend; join a book club; or find an exercise class you enjoy. Mark these events on your calendar and treat them like real appointments.

Besides making use of the above tools, caregivers can take care of themselves by taking advantage of technology that is available to keep older adults safe while they age comfortably at home. Wouldn’t you rest easier knowing that if mom gets up out of bed and has a fall in the middle of the night, while the whole family is sleeping, emergency services will be notified immediately? With PBE Help’s Safe at Home service, mom wears a fall detector pendant that is automatically triggered by a fall. This safety device helps you take better care of mom and consequently, yourself.

As caregivers, it’s important to remember that self-care is not selfish. It’s not selfish to make sure you have enough oxygen before assisting others. In fact, caring for yourself is essential to taking the best care of your loved ones who rely on you.

Is self-care a priority in your life?

And for more information on aging with independence, follow me on LinkedIn and Google+.

Tip of the week: Celebrate independence with compassionate caring.

The psychological impact of becoming less independent is often worse than the physical Senior Living Facilities separation of having to make the move to an assisted living facility. To make the transition easier, practice compassionate caring and celebrate the independence your loved one will gain even though it is time to move out of a beloved home.

Assisted living facilities provide the following benefits:

  • Independence from having to worry about indoor and outdoor maintenance of a home.
  • Independence from isolation. There are plenty of opportunities for socialization and entertainment in assisted living communities. Whether it’s a field trip to the city, cocktail hour in the dining hall, or a film screening in the theatre room, soon your loved one will feel like she’s enjoying the good life again.
  • Independence from worrying about getting needed medical assistance during an emergency. Assisted living facilities are staffed with trained professionals ready to help out in an emergency of any kind.

For more information about how to talk to your loved ones about transitioning to an assisted living community, follow me on LinkedIn or Google+.

Tip of the week: Use technology to help your elderly loved ones gain independence.

Before emergency medical monitoring and automatic fall sensors, independent living meant Elderly Independence having close family members who could invite us into their homes. But with the latest technology, living independently, while staying at home has never been more possible. Today’s seniors are living in the golden age of independent living.

Help your loved ones gain independence using the following technology:

  • Home alert systems can help with everything from medication reminders to automatically contacting medical services in the event of an incapacitating accident.
  • Webcams with motion sensors to help you monitor your loved ones from the next room as they recover from heart surgery, for example.
  • Cell phones and Skype allow seniors to connect with family and friends across the miles.

For more on how technology helps seniors become more independent, read this previous post and follow me on LinkedIn.

Tip of the week: Safety and Independence go hand-in-hand.

The key to making it possible for the seniors in your life to continue living at home is simple— Safety Firstthink safety first. Did you know that 40% of nursing home admissions are the result of injuries due to accidental falls?

Avoid a fall suddenly taking away Mom’s independence by taking the proper precautions:

  • Correct uneven floors or steps.
  • Remove obstructions from hallways and floors.
  • Make sure lighting is adequate, especially in hallways and on stairways.
  • Install handrails where needed, for example, in showers and around toilets.
  • Inspect the home for tripping hazards, such as loose carpeting and unsecured rugs.

And for more information on aging with independence, follow me on LinkedIn and Google+.

Celebrate Mom’s Independence Day

This Fourth of July marked the 240th anniversary of America’s Independence Day. Independence Elderly Independencemeans a lot to Americans. But now that we’ve had our last slice of apple pie and watched the flame extinguish on our last firecracker, it’s a good time to reflect on what independence means for the elderly adults in our lives.

We all value independence and our desire for independence doesn’t diminish with age. If anything, independence becomes more important to us as we age. So the gift of independence is one of the most precious gifts we can give to our older adult loved ones.

Living independently provides several crucial benefits:

  • Higher quality of life: It can be scary to face all of the changes that come with aging. But the security and familiarity that comes with living independently acts as a shield against much of the anxiety.
  • Increased sense of self-worth: Maintaining independence provides a sense of achievement, which in turn promotes a greater sense of self-worth.
  • Increased sense of control: As we age, many aspects of our lives can change rapidly making it seem like we aren’t in control anymore. It can be a welcome relief for seniors to feel in control of their living situations.

Of course, independent living means different things for different people. Staying at home is not always the safest option. Still, as long as you take a compassionate approach, you can celebrate the level of independence that is appropriate for your loved one. 

What level of independence is right for your loved one?

Here are some considerations to get you started:

If you notice:

  • Recent accidents or close calls. Did your loved one take a minor fall or have a medical scare? Who responded and how long did it take? Accidents do happen, but as we age, the odds increase that they will happen again.
  • Minor episodes of forgetfulness. Are you finding stale or expired foods in the pantry or multiples of the exact same variety of TV dinners? This might indicate that your loved one’s memory is not quite as sharp as it once was.

It is time to consider small adjustments that will help your loved one continue her fully independent lifestyle. The good news here is that, with just a little help, it is quite possible for your loved one’s life to go on virtually as usual. Installing an emergency monitoring system, like PBE’s Safe at Home system, makes it possible for your loved one to continue living at home while you rest assured knowing she has emergency services available at the touch of a button should anything go wrong.

If you notice:

  • Your loved one has cut back on social activities. Has your loved one given up a favorite hobby, stopped going to the local library, or started skipping senior exercise class?
  • Signs of lax housekeeping. More than the usual amount of clutter, spills that haven’t been cleaned up, cobwebs in a usually dust-free house, mold growing in the bathroom are all signs to look for.

It is time to consider at least a part-time home health care aide. These signs may indicate physical limitations that make driving more difficult or housekeeping more than just an annoying chore. It might be a good idea to find a family member or other professional, who can visit the home for several hours each day and take your loved one on little outings. Still, moderately independent living is very much within your loved one’s reach.

If you notice:

  • Increasing difficulty managing daily activities. There are certain skills needed to continue living independently at home. If your loved one is having difficulty, dressing, shopping, cooking, managing medications, or taking care of personal hygiene, these are signs that living at home may not be what’s best.
  • More than moderate weight loss. Does dad feel thinner when you hug him? Are his clothes fitting more loosely? Many conditions from depression to tooth decay can cause a lack of appetite and weight loss. A person who is having trouble getting to the grocery store or forgetting to eat can lose weight too.

It is time to consider moving your loved one to an assisted living facility. These more severe signs indicate that it may be time to contact your loved one’s doctor, a social worker, or other geriatric expert to perform a functional assessment. If your loved one is showing signs that living alone is a strain, it may be time to broach the subject of moving to an assisted living facility.

Above all, truly celebrate your loved one’s independence by asking for mom or dad’s input as you are making these decisions. Even if keeping mom at home is not an option in the end, she will feel better about the move having had the chance to voice her feelings.

The experts at Push Button Emergency Help are here to help you determine what works best for your family. If your loved one has opportunities to live a full life with close neighborhood and community connections, and seems to be thriving in most areas of life, it’s best to explore as many in-home care options as possible before pressing for a move from a beloved home. PBE can help by extending your loved one’s independent living options. Take a look at our many products designed to support you in whatever decision you make.

This month, we at PBE hope you will consider giving the gift of independence to an elderly loved one in your life. Contact us TODAY.  Before you know it, you’ll be celebrating Mom’s independence day.

And for more information on aging with independence, follow me on LinkedIn and Google+.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month!

Most of us are familiar with the effects of Alzheimer’s disease: memory loss, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, decreased or poor judgment, etc. But one serious effect often gets overlooked: how Alzheimer’s impacts caregivers.

Caring for an older adult with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is a beautiful, selfless Caregivers and the Elderlyexpression of love. But it can also be a thankless job frustrating on the best day and completely overwhelming on the worst. Yet, studies show that caregivers take on their role with little to no training or additional support. All of this means that caregivers, who are often spouses in susceptible years themselves, are at serious risk for emotional, mental, and physical health problems.

In honor of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month, let’s consider the risks to and preventative measures we can take to protect and support those who care for others.

What are the risks to caregivers?

Stress

Being solely responsible for the health and wellbeing of another 24/7 is stressful. Period. But on top of the pressures of being responsible for the care of another person, caregivers can feel frustrated, angry, drained, guilty, or helpless, especially as the health of their loved one declines. Many caregivers report feeling that they cannot handle their caregiving responsibilities. And, somewhat ironically, chronic stress puts caregivers themselves at increased risk of cognitive decline.

Depression

Caregivers also have higher levels of depression than their non-caregiving peers. Estimates show that between 40 and 70% of caregivers experience clinically significant symptoms of depression (according to pp. 12-37 of a National Consensus Development Conference report). And those feelings of depression can actually increase when families decide to move a loved one with Alzheimer’s to a fulltime assisted living facility. So the negative effects of caregiving may continue even after the burden has been lifted.

Injury

Another serious concern about caregivers is the increased risk of physical injury. Because many caregivers take on their new roles without much or any training, they may unwittingly attempt tasks that are beyond their physical ability. For example, attempting to lift, bathe, or turn one’s spouse could cause a hernia or other serious injury. Additionally, living alone with an Alzheimer’s patient means that in the event the caregiver becomes incapacitated in some way, he or she may not receive emergency assistance in a timely fashion. PBE’s Safe at Home emergency system reduces this risk. Caregivers can wear a fall detection pendant that automatically triggers a call to emergency services in the event of a fall.

Neglecting their own health

Finally, caregivers are often so busy that they neglect their own health. Caregivers are less likely to keep up with annual preventative check-ups and more likely to miss doctors appointments. They often lack the time and energy to prepare proper meals for themselves or exercise. Sleep can be interrupted as well. Also, chronic stress has been associated with an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.

If you are a caregiver, make sure that you are aware of the risks and that you take time out for self-care. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Keep in mind that if you’re not healthy, you can’t care for your loved one either.

What can we do to support the caregivers in our lives?

Give them a break

If you know someone caring for a person with Alzheimer’s, you can help by offering to give the caregiver a breather. Why not stop by to cook a healthy meal? Or offer to sit with the Alzheimer’s patient while the caregiver goes for a walk or to see a movie? Even a short break can do a lot to lift everyone’s spirits.

Encourage relaxation techniques

Your loved one ‘in the trenches’ might not realize how important it is to recharge from time to time. Caregivers take up the mantle of “soldiering on” and sometimes need a gentle reminder that relaxation is as important as keeping up with daily tasks. Encourage mom to set aside some time each day (multiple times a day, if possible) to do something just for her. Reading a good book, sitting to pray or meditate, or engaging in her favorite hobby are all great options.

Encourage them to get moving

Physical movement is one of the best ways to improve your mood and reduce stress. Movement increases blood flow and jumpstarts the metabolism. This is an activity that a caregiver can do together with his patient too. There are many exercises that can be done safely while sitting in a chair. That mobility is difficult is no excuse to become completely sedentary.

Offer a hand

Because caregivers are responsible for the care of another, psychologically, it is difficult to ask for help, even if help is desperately needed. Caregivers may be afraid to impose on others or worried that the request will be rejected or resented. So one of the best ways to offer support is simply by showing a willingness to pitch in. Ask the caregiver if they’d like help and in what way you can be most helpful.

Despite the fact that the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on people with Alzheimer’s are so familiar, the effects on family members and especially, caregivers often go unnoticed. This month, let’s make ourselves aware of ALL the risks and take steps to help the caregivers in our lives.

PBE is ready to do our part. Our affordable services make independent living safe for both those being cared for and those providing care. Contact us today.

And for more information on aging with independence, follow me on LinkedIn and Google+.

This Summer Travel Smart, Travel Safe

Ahhh, May! It’s the start of the busy travel season. Nieces and nephews are graduating. Sons Elderly Traveland daughters are getting married. There are anniversaries to celebrate and picnics to consume. There are family reunions to attend and grandchildren’s T-ball tournaments to supervise. What fun!

If only we could bring all of these events to our own backyards. But until someone invents a real teleportation machine, we’ll have to take to the roads or the skies. And when preparing to travel with mom, dad, or other elderly loved ones, we face some unique challenges. What can we do to make sure traveling this season is as safe and relaxing as possible for everyone?

Know before you go:

  1. Consult mom’s doctor

First things first, it’s important to make sure mom is healthy enough to take the trip. So make sure to have her cleared for travel by her primary care physician, especially if you will be dealing with any complex medical conditions, such as a heart issue or Alzheimer’s disease. Get specific travel tips from mom’s doctor and discuss any potential health complications. Also, make sure to get any necessary vaccinations or extra medication as needed.

  1. Research available medical services at your destination

In case of emergencies, make sure to check the location of the nearest pharmacies, hospitals, and other health care facilities, especially if you will be in an unfamiliar place. Also, take with you contact information for your loved one’s primary doctor as well as any important Medicare, insurance, and prescription information.

  1. Provide a way for dad to contact you easily

Make sure your cell number and the number of each place you will be staying is programed into dad’s cellphone. Or, if dad doesn’t have his own cellphone, providing him with a prepaid phone is a great way to ensure that he can get in touch with you at all times.

Cellphones are wonderful travel companions, but for additional peace of mind, nothing beats PBE’s Safe Anywhere service. With this service, mom or dad wears the eResponder on a pendant, which provides immediate, push-button connection and two-way voice communication with emergency services anywhere in the US.

  1. Plan a schedule that accommodates everyone

Whenever possible, maintain a predictable daily routine. This reduces stress and anxiety, especially for those with cognitive impairments. Keeping mealtimes, medication schedules, rest times, and sleeping schedules as consistent as possible minimizes the risk of agitation. Also, nothing makes a vacation feel less relaxing than rushing from place to place. So, build in extra time where needed, plan to take plenty of rest breaks, and make some quiet time a priority each day.

Traveling by car?

  • Pack a bag of essentials (with necessary medications, important travel documents, favorite snacks and drinks, a light sweater, a hat, sunscreen) that is easily accessible at all times.
  • On long road trips, make sure to take plenty of breaks for meals, stretching legs, and using the restroom.
  • Plan to leave early in the morning. Many seniors and people with Alzheimer’s disease do not travel well in the late evening or at night because of what scientists call sundowning. Doctors believe that fading light can trigger in some elderly adults symptoms such as irritation, restlessness, confusion, and mood swings.

Traveling by air?

  • Arrange for special services when booking flights (e.g., a wheelchair at the airport, special seating, advanced boarding).
  • All US airports offer expedited TSA security screening for passengers 75 and older. Ask about these when checking in with the airline.
  • Pack all medications in carry-on luggage. Liquid medications will need to be separated from other belongings for separate screening.
  • Plan to arrive at the airport extra early, so mom and dad have time to get settled before boarding.
  • For more air travel tips, look here.

Traveling with older adults is can be a truly rewarding experience. All it takes is a little extra preparation and a little extra help from your friends at PBE. So this summer, whether you’re headed to a graduation, wedding, family reunion, or other celebration, make sure you travel smart.

Let’s go!