Tag Archives: Safe Anywhere Service

Brain engagement: The Mental Side of Falls Prevention

The first day of fall, September 22, 2016 is Falls Prevention Awareness Day. So, let’s talk falls prevention.

We are all aware of the physical harms and financial costs that can result from a fall: scrapes Fall Prevention in Seniorsand bruises; broken bones, especially hips, wrists, and ankles; concussions and other head injuries. All of which can lead to emergency room visits and hospitalization. Of course, the best way to prevent these harms is to prevent falling accidents in the first place.

When it comes to falls prevention, again, we tend to focus on physical solutions. We talk about building balance, strength, and flexibility through exercising the physical body; testing vision and hearing; keeping the home free of tripping hazards, increasing lighting, making stairs safe, and installing grab bars.

There’s no doubt that these physical considerations are important. But it is easy to overlook the mental side of falls prevention. Having an active brain is just one more easy way to prevent falls and help to keep our loved ones safe from spills that can lead to further health complications.

Did you know…?

This means that even if the elderly people in your life are relatively high functioning when it comes to their physical bodies, keeping the mind sharp can enhance fall prevention efforts and ensure that their bodies continue functioning well.

What are the best ways to enlist the mind to help prevent the body from falling?

Make sure your loved one is getting proper nutrition and taking the right medications in the appropriate dosages.

Vitamin deficiencies can cause weakness, difficulties with balance, and cognitive impairments. The brain is also responsible for reaction time and reflexive actions. So it makes sense that if the mind is impaired, reaction times could be slower and reflexes less responsive contributing to injury. So getting the proper nutrients is key to brain health. Following a diet that is rich in Iron, Vitamin D, fatty fish, and anti-oxidants supports strong mental health.

Along with proper nutrition, taking precautions when it comes to your loved one’s medications can help keep the mind sharp and prevent falls. Certain prescription drugs, such as diuretics, anti-depressants, and some medications for treating Parkinson’s disease, especially when given in inappropriate doses, may contribute to falls in the elderly because they decrease alertness, reduce motor functioning, or cause dizziness. Support the proper functioning of complex motor and sensory systems within the brain by reviewing the medications and dosages with your loved one’s physician. The right dose can make all the difference.

Exercise is doubly important for keeping both the body and mind healthy.

Not only is exercise important for keeping muscles strong so that your loved one can catch herself when she starts to stumble, but exercise also keeps the mind healthy. There have been several recent studies showing the benefits of exercise when it comes to Alzheimer’s prevention. Science continues to confirm the connection between the mind and exercise. Also, one of the best ways to learn how to control the movements of the body is by exercising on a regular basis and good coordination helps us stay on our feet even on uneven surfaces. So, exercise is doubly important when it comes to the physical and mental components of preventing falls.

Closely connected to exercise is proper hydration. When we exercise, our bodies naturally crave water. Taking in water helps our bodies flush harmful toxins from our kidneys and lymphatic system contributing to the health of our bodies. Hydration is also crucial to keeping the brain functioning well. Did you know the human brain is 75% water? It’s true!

Supporting the proper functioning of our senses.

The senses are important for preventing falls and sensory receptors are dependent on the brain’s functioning properly. Vision and hearing loss are often associated with tripping or a loss of balance. Many cognitive impairments can also impair the senses. For example, strokes can contribute to vision and hearing loss and because of this, having a stroke increases the risk of falls. Keeping the brain healthy is essential to making sure the body and mind are working together in the ways required to maintain proper balance lessening the risk of a fall.

Unfortunately, no matter what we do physically or mentally to prevent our loved ones from falling, sometimes falls happen. In the unfortunate event of a fall, you want your loved one to be as safe and independent as possible. This is where PBE Help comes in. We have products available to keep your loved one Safe At Home and Safe Anywhere she chooses to roam.

Contact us today to discuss how PBE Help is here to catch you and your loved ones when they fall.

Follow me on social media (LinkedIn and Google+) for more tips and information to support brain health and prevent falls.

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+.

Tip of the week: Do you have an Emergency Storm Safety Plan?

At PBE, keeping you and your loved ones safe is our first priority. In our new series, we’ll be Bad Weather Safetyrolling out weekly tips for quick and easy actions you can do TODAY to make your family safer.

Tip #1: Make sure your family knows what to do in case of a weather emergency.

Summer is extreme weather season. With the increase in heat and humidity, dangerous thunderstorms, floods, and tornados can pop up quickly. It’s important to make sure the whole family knows what to do in the event of a summer storm emergency.

Make a plan:

  • Find the safe spots in your home. During a tornado, seek shelter in a lower level or internal room (like a bathroom) without windows.
  • Designate at least one meeting place outside of the home in case family members get separated.
  • Practice the plan with the family by running safety drills.
  • Make an emergency kit with items such as a first aid kit, a flashlight, bottled water, non-perishable and easily transportable foods, etc.

Stay tuned for our other weekly safety tips!

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!

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

There’s a good reason so many holiday-themed films and songs mention going home for the Home for the holidaysholidays: home is a symbol for all of the most pleasant experiences in life. If we are fortunate, we can’t even step foot inside our childhood homes without it conjuring up heartwarming memories of our favorite foods, traditions, and sentiments.

Of course, as the years go by, our homes naturally evolve. Children grow-up to be adults; they get married; and they start families of their own. Mom and dad become grandma and grandpa; they retire from their jobs; and they deservedly gain back some of their freedom. Foods, traditions, and sentiments change over time. Some changes are easier to accept than others, however.

If you will be seeing older parents, relatives, and friends for the first time in several months or longer, you are likely to notice certain behavioral variations. Realize that this experience can bring up feelings of distress and grief. Complex emotions can be difficult to deal with, especially during this busy time of year. Here are some suggestions:

  • Be prepared. Prepare yourself and your family as best you can. Discuss with your spouse and children ahead of time what to expect when visiting older relatives. Practice what to say and what not to say. You may need to prepare yourself to take on a new role, as more of a caretaker, with regard to your aging parents. Consider reading a book about dealing with the challenges of watching loved ones age. There are some good suggestions here.
  • Be empathetic. Gently help older adults feel comfortable with the adjustments that need to be made. As striking as these behavioral changes seem to you because you vividly remember how different mom or dad was acting last time you were in town, notice that he or she is experiencing these changes more gradually. Have you ever noticed how there is a huge difference between how old you feel and how old you are? Well, the same is true of older adults. Remember that mom and dad may not realize or may be in denial about the fact that their lifestyles need to change.
  • Be grateful. Acknowledge the help that other family members, friends, and neighbors have provided. If you have relatives who live closer to an aging relative than you do, recognize that they may have a different perspective than you do. Point out what they are doing right and consult with them when it comes to making necessary changes. If everyone can work together to make choices that are in the best interest of older adults, the results will be much better all around.
  • Be respectful. When in doubt, approach everyone involved with respect.

Dealing with the challenges our loved ones face as they age and the challenges we ourselves face as we hold their hands through the process, takes a great deal of courage. It can be tempting, especially during the holiday festivities, to simply ignore the issues we notice. But if we strategize when we are feeling our most calm, cool, and collected, then we can reserve the times at home for creating more happy memories.

For the holidays, you can’t beat home sweet home.

Stay Safe and Warm this Winter

Although the snow and ice hasn’t started sticking around in most parts of the US just yet, that Cold Weather and Elderlyfamiliar chill is in the air warning us that Old Man Winter will be camping out on our lawns soon enough. It’s time to think about how to protect our loved ones from the dangers of colder weather.

Extreme cold temperatures can pose serious risks to our health, especially as we get older. Our metabolism slows and our bodies produce less heat than when we were young and spry, according to the American Geriatrics Society’s Foundation for Health in Aging. As a result, older adults are more susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. Older people are also more likely to be injured in slip-and-fall accidents.

This winter, as the thermometer dips, let’s take the following steps to prevent cold weather health threats.

Stay warm and cozy

As we get older, our sense of touch deteriorates. In addition, health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, poor circulation, paralysis brought on by a suffering stroke, etc. can cause a lack of feeling, especially in the extremities. This puts seniors at high risk for hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature), symptoms of which include slurred speech, sluggishness, confusion, dizziness, shallow breathing, and slow, irregular heartbeat. Get emergency help if you see any of these warning signs.

To prevent hypothermia:

  • Keep your home’s thermostat set at 68° F or above and reduce heating costs by making your home more energy efficient.
  • Dress in layers of loose-fitting clothing for warmth.
  • Prepare for weather emergencies by stocking up on food and fresh water. Keep extra batteries, candles, flashlights, and extra blankets on hand at all times.
  • When going outside, make sure to keep your head covered and wear mittens or gloves.

Shield your skin from the elements

Aging skin becomes drier and thinner making it more likely to tear and chap. It is also more prone to frostbite. Symptoms of frostbite include gray, white, or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, and a waxy feeling to the skin. If you suspect frostbite has occurred, get immediate medical attention and facilitate warming up the body without rubbing delicate skin.

To protect your skin:

  • When going outside, make sure to wear proper gear to protect skin from wind and cold.
  • While inside, keep air warm and moist. Use a humidifier or put a pan of water near a heat source, such as a radiator. Change the water on a daily basis.
  • Moisturize your skin with lotion and use petroleum jelly on chapped lips or especially dry patches of skin.

Look out for ice

Removing snow and ice from all walkways is essential for preventing falls. If you cannot shovel the areas around your home yourself, consider hiring someone to help. Older adults should consult with their doctors before attempting to shovel or do any hard labor outside in cold weather.

To avoid falls:

  • Carefully shovel all steps, driveways, and walkways to your home.
  • Sprinkle ice-melting salt, which can be purchased at local home improvement stores, on especially slippery spots.
  • Avoid walking on icy or snowing sidewalks whenever possible.
  • Whenever walking outside, wear boots with non-skid soles.
  • If you use a cane, replace the tip before it gets worn smooth or replace the rubber tip with a sharp icepick-like attachment, which can be purchased at medical supply stores

As always, if you have elderly neighbors and loved ones, check on them regularly. Don’t let an emergency situation be the motivation you need to develop a solid communication plan. For additional peace of mind this season, contact Push Button Emergency Help to provide the right device for quickly and easily connecting your loved ones to emergency personnel.

Don’t let anyone be left out in the cold this winter.

Keep your loved ones from being spooked this Halloween

Halloween can be a really fun holiday. It is such a joy to see the kids dressed up in their cute costumes trick-or-treating around the neighborhood and on their way to school parties or trunk-or-treat events. But Halloween can also be a confusing or even scary time for people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Dementia. With the festivities also comes unfamiliar noises, constant doorbell ringing, loud knocks at the door, strangers wearing masks, teenagers pulling pranks, etc. all of which can be unsettling for anyone, but especially for Alzheimer’s patihalloween Dementia Patientsents.

Fear not! None of this means you can’t celebrate. A few simple adjustments will help to ensure the whole family enjoys All Hallows’ Eve:

  1. Discuss your Halloween plans with the older adults in your life: Describe ahead of time how the day or evening will go. Talk about trick-or-treating and engage with older adults as they recount fond memories of past holidays. Involve children in the discussion by encouraging them to show off their costumes before getting dressed for school or parties. Show your loved ones any decorations before putting them out and ask, “Do you like this?” If he or she says, “That scares me,” then respect this perspective. If you are feeling extra creative, make some decorations together.
  2. Avoid leaving Alzheimer sufferers alone on Halloween: If you are heading out to a party or to take the kids around the neighborhood, make sure to ask someone you trust to stay with your loved ones. Having someone there to answer the door and reassure an Alzheimer’s patient when he or she hears strange noises will put everyone’s minds at ease.
  3. Have the grandkids take off the masks when visiting grandma: Kids love to strut their stuff on Halloween, but make sure they understand that some parts of their costumes might not be appropriate for all audiences. Even a simple, cute mask can appear frightening or confusing through the eyes of someone with Dementia (and many masks are downright ghoulish). Elaborate make-up can also be confusing; if it belongs on the set of a movie, have the kids wait to put it on until after visiting grandma. Plastic swords and guns should also stay in the car. No one wants to risk a silly toy causing a serious incident.
  4. Be aware of your loved ones’ dietary restrictions: If you keep loose candy in a bowl, it can be so easy to mindlessly eat too much (and really, who can resist candy corn?). Those with Diabetes must be particularly careful to monitor their sugar intake. So make sure to pay close attention to how many times hands are dipping into the bowl. Or even better, replace sugary treats with healthier options such as apple slices with cinnamon, celery sticks with peanut butter, or yogurt with berries.

Besides confusing and scary rituals, there is another serious concern facing Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients. Amidst the Halloween hubbub, they are more prone to wander out of the house. If this should happen to your loved ones, wouldn’t you feel better knowing they have an easy way to get back home quickly and safely? PBE’s Safe Anywhere service uses the same geo-location technology 911 uses. With this service, emergency help is available 24 hours a day at the touch of a button from any location.

PBE wants you to remember that Halloween is not just for kids! Let’s keep everyone safe during the spookiest season.