As a blogger, I get compensated for some of my posts when I discuss a product and someone purchases it. This is my job and how I get paid. I will not, however, recommend or discuss a product that I don’t feel is of benefit or value to my readers. My thoughts on these products are my own.

For any of my readers who has a family member with a disability or an aging parent, you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when your phone rings at an odd hour from your loved one.  The first thing that crosses your mind is “what happened?”  We’re always waiting for the phone call that someone fell, is in the ER or from the police that they were in a car crash.

Someone shared with me an Instagram post of the ultimate caregiver sandwich – where you’re in the middle sandwiched between your kids and your aging parents.  But add in disabilities or chronic illnesses and the daily stress is debilitating.  

 “Caregiving has all the features of a chronic stress experience: It creates physical and psychological strain over extended periods of time, is accompanied by high levels of unpredictability and uncontrollability, has the capacity to create secondary stress in multiple life domains such as work and family relationships.” The American Journal of Nursing

A great deal of this stress comes from the vigilance required to safeguard the person against injury. Falls are one of the leading causes of injury for older adults and getting help quickly is critical to preventing additional complications. There is nothing more frustrating for adult children than when their parents insist they don’t need help and, in fact, refuse devices and products that could make life easier.

I remember when my dad first showing signs of Alzheimer’s and would get a bit disoriented. He would go out for his walk every day and I asked my mom if she was worried that he’d get confused as to where he was and wander off. Her response to me was that it was fine, she knew his route. Of course, this only holds up if dad stays on the route. What she didn’t want to accept is that it only takes one minute for him to stray off his normal route and end up lost.

Caring for our aging parents can be exhausting in the best of circumstances but when they put up objections due to pride or embarrassment it takes it to another level.

What most people don’t realize is that there are now products that are functional as well as fashionable and don’t even look like medical devices.

One that I recommend to anyone who has an adult child or spouse with a disability or an aging parent is the Mobile Help Smart Watch.  While it looks like a traditional watch, this is a health tracker, smart device and medical alert system all-in-one.

Unlike the old-school plastic medical alert pendants that no one wants to wear, the Mobile Help Smart Watch has a built-in microphone and speaker, activity tracking, vital sign sensors and health-focused applications such as the ability to measure heart rate, target fitness and diet goals and even view the weather with a built-in weather app.

If there is a medical emergency the person just needs to push the Help button and connect with the Emergency Response Center. Most importantly the built-in GPS location tracking will allow Emergency Responders to find the person quickly even if he/she can’t identify where they are. 

The Mobile Help Smart Watch works with all carriers and the battery lasts for 2 days on one charge.

Having the peace of mind knowing my mom can get help immediately if something happens when she’s out in the community makes me a lot less stressed. 

Disclaimer –  I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

As a national family safety expert and the owner of Accessible Home Living which does home accessibility modifications for seniors and individuals with disabilities, the greatest issue I deal with is fall prevention.

For people over the age of 65, falls are the leading cause of hospital trauma admissions, traumatic brain injury and death.  The majority of seniors who fall will experience another fall within a year, compounding the threat of death or serious injury.  62% of these fall victims who don’t receive help within an hour won’t be able to live independently after recovery.

Every home should be modified with these fall prevention tips/items:

Create no-slip/no-trip flooring:

  • Secure all throw rugs with double-sided tape
  • Be sure to have non-skid mats near entry ways and in bathrooms
  • Check for tears, holes and loose threads in all carpets

Safeguard the stairs:

  • It’s important to have banisters on both sides of the stairs
  • Install return caps so that the top and bottom of the banister are not open – a potential risk for having a bag or other item get caught
  • If the person has difficulty maneuvering the steps, consider installing a stair lift
  • Be sure all stairs have tread covers to prevent slipping

All areas of the home should be well lit:

  • Use high-wattage light bulbs for all staircase areas
  • Install automatic driveway lights and walkway lights to prevent falls outside
  • Utilize motion sensors that will allow for lights to automatically turn on.  The WeMo Switch and Motion Sensor is easy to use and affordable and is now available at Office Depot.  The WeMo can be used in two ways.  You can either set commands for the light to go on or off at specific times or you can set rules that when the sensor detects motions the light will go off.  You can also set the motion sensor to various sensitivities and times so if an elderly person gets up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, the light will automatically turn on and can be set to also turn off after a certain time.

WeMo Switch n Sensor F7C028_1 August13

Finally, be prepared for an emergency. Be sure that a phone is low to the ground so it can be reached in case of a fall and consider purchasing an emergency pendant that will allow a person to call for help if they have fallen.

 

Sometimes the changes are subtle – forgetting what year it is or forgetting how to get to the local grocery store.  Other times it’s a dramatic event – a fall, a stroke or a heart attack.  At some point, our aging parents will need our help and, unfortunately, we are often unprepared for what that entails.  In many cases, our parents will even refuse our help and be defiant.

If you or someone you know is dealing with care giving issues for an aging parent, please join us for a very important Twitter party to talk about how this has impacted you and your family and some practical advice on how you can help them, even when they might not want it.

When – Wednesday, March 13th 9:00 – 10:00 PM ET

Our Sponsor VTech CareLine™

Hashtag – #VTechCares

Prizes – Three lucky winners will receive a  VTech CareLine™ home telephone and personal communication system.

RSVP – Be sure to follow @VTech411 & @AccessHomeLiving, leave us a comment below and follow #VTechCares during the party.

I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by BOOMboxNetwork.com on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.

 

Prepare for your aging parent release from a nursing facility or hospital discharge

Photo Courtesy of www.wecarehomeassistants.com

At some point, many women (daughters) will be put in the difficult position of caring for their aging parent.  Sometimes the evolution is gradual but it can literally be overnight when a senior experiences a fall or suffers a stroke.

This issue of “what now?” when dealing with an aging parent returning home after rehab or a hospital stay is going to be the subject of several blog postings as it really could fill an entire book.  But, for this one, let’s just talk about some quick, practical matters to deal with the first few days once you bring your parent home.

Make the home  accessible – Depending upon the mobility issues for your aging parent, it might not  be possible to go up and down stairs.  A  bedroom might need to be set up on the first floor.  If a bathroom is not accessible, you’ll need  to bring in a commode.  Grab bars should  be installed and a wheel chair ramp might be required.

Check insurance  coverage  – Medicare  will only cover 100 days in a nursing home.  It will then only cover rehab or in-home nursing services that are  deemed medically necessary.  Additionally, if you will be hiring an in-home caregiver for your aging parent understand that  hiring a service that works with Medicare will limit your selection of the  provider.  It’s important to check with  your parent’s private insurance to understand what they will cover and find out  whether they had long term care insurance.

Enlist support  from community resources, friends and family – There will be  well-meaning friends who will offer to help in any way they can with your aging parent – take them up  on it!  If you’re juggling work and kids as well as caring for your parent, you’ll make yourself sick and that won’t do anyone any good.  Ask people to help out  taking your parent to their follow-up doctor appointments, grocery shopping,  washing clothes – anything that can help ease your burden.  There are many senior service agencies in the  local community who can help with transportation, meals on wheels and other  needs.  Also look into respite care,  adult day care.

Set up lines of communications for emergencies – Even if you’re able to leave your  parent alone for lengths of time, you want to have the ability to check in on  them.  Look into monitoring systems such  as BeClose which will alert care givers if  there is an emergency or even changes in daily activity such as not getting out  of bed, not leaving the bathroom, etc.  You also want to be sure that they have a way of communicating in an  emergency.  The VTech Careline phone system comes with a pendant they can wear around their neck  or on their waist with two buttons pre-programmed phone numbers they can press  in an emergency.

Have “the talk.”   People don’t like to talk about death but now that there’s been one life threatening situation, make sure that you know their
wishes in regards to end of life decisions.  Be sure they’ve established power of attorney for both financial/legal and health matters.  Keep these letters  with you in case of another emergency.  Here’s a great site to understand the issues you need to address.

I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by BOOMboxNetwork.com on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.

 

Isolation can be Deadly

As Nemo roared up the East Coast, I’m thought a great deal about the number of elderly people who are living independently, or aging in place.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy it became apparent that there were many seniors living alone that local senior service agencies were completely unaware of.

Many of these people have mobility and cognitive issues that make living alone dangerous in the best of circumstances, let alone when we are facing a major storm such as this.  According to the U.S. Census, more than half of women, age 85 and older, live alone. Even more disturbing, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that one out of every seven Americans with Alzheimer’s lives alone.

My mom and dad (who suffers from Alzheimer’s) live about 30 minutes away from me.   I made sure they had informed the police department that my father had Alzheimer’s and, in the event of an emergency, they should be at the top of the list to receive help.  I also made sure they had contacted someone to plow their driveway (otherwise my mother would have most certainly tried to snow blow it herself!)  I reminded them to fill their car with gas, get extra food in the house and make sure they had extra batteries.  They are good friends with their neighbor who always takes the time to check in after a major storm.

What is amazing to me is how many elderly people don’t have family willing to look in on them.  They are the ones I truly worry about.

If you have an elderly neighbor or you want to be sure your parents are safe, here are a few other things to point out:

– Remind them to be careful of where they position a space heater

– Keep a File of Life posted on the refrigerator so emergency responders are aware of any medications or physical issues the person might have

– Make sure they have a phone that can be pre-programmed with emergency numbers.

The VTech CareLine Home Safety Telephone System has large buttons and four buttons that can be pre-programmed and hold photos for easier dialing

– Get a refill on their prescriptions if they’re running low in case they can’t get out for several days

– Make sure they have a well stocked emergency kit with a lantern, batteries, non-perishable food and a battery operated radio.

I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by BOOMboxNetwork.com on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.

 

VTech Survey Finds Communication and Isolation Top Concerns for Seniors and Caregivers

The ability to remain connected and the safety concerns of being alone are the top issues on senior’s minds according to a recent surveyconducted by VTech Communications.

The VTech Caregiver/Senior Communications Survey found that caregivers worried most about the time seniors were alone, while seniors missed an active social life.  In fact 41% of seniors surveyed said their top challenge was not being as active or social as they would like.  While many seniors would prefer to age-in-place, it’s clear that the ability to stay active within the community and maintain relationships is important for both their emotional and physical well-being.  Isolation and loneliness leads to depression in over 15% of people over the age of 65 and
subsequently increases their healthcare costs by 50%.  This lack of connection is also of concern as it relates to safety.

Many seniors experience long hours alone at home – 91.6 percent of seniors surveyed said they spend time alone during the week.  Their top worries,along with their caregivers’ concerns, included:

  • Fall or injury (76.1 percent of caregivers and 33 percent or seniors)
  • Medical event or injury requiring immediate assistance (60.8 percent of caregivers and 25.2 percent of seniors)
  • Other general problems that seniors wouldn’t feel equipped to deal with alone (45.9 percent of caregivers and 14 percent of seniors)

In the survey, seniors and caregivers identified products they felt would keep them connected and safe while allowing them to maintain independent lifestyles:

  • Communication tools such as email, phones, cellphones and Skype – 41.7 percent total
  • Healthcare technology such as blood pressure monitors and medication dispensers – 36.7 percent total
  • Personal safety products such as wearable pendants to call someone in case of an emergency and home alarm system – 29.4 percent

VTech’s CareLine Personal Communications System Helps Fill Gaps

Addressing caregiver needs to reach their loved ones, and seniors’ desire to remain connected and social, VTech’s new CareLine™ home safety telephone system supports independent living. Designed with experts in aging and technology, the CareLine system (MSRP: $119.95), includes a full-featured corded phone, a cordless handset and a wearable pendant. Blending the comfort and ease of a home phone with the security and flexibility of personal safety products, CareLine puts the ability to connect with trusted contacts at seniors’ fingertips.

Designed to meet the daily communication needs of seniors, the wearable pendant allows them to conveniently make and receive calls, listen to voicemail messages, review missed calls or receive programmed reminders for medication, appointments or other events.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by BOOMboxNetwork.com on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.”

I’ve become an emotional wreck worrying about my parent’s safety.  There needs to be a support group for adult children scared to death that their aging parent is going to fall, or incur an injury in some other manner.    I know I’m not alone in my concern.  With 10,000 people turning 65 years of age every day, our society is aging and becoming more vulnerable.  In fact 1 out of every 3 people over the age of 65 will experience a fall this year and falls are the leading cause of injury and death for seniors.

While aging-in-place is the goal for most seniors, how do you, as the adult child, insure sure they’re safe?  The primary issue is to be sure they have a connection to the outside world in case there’s an emergency.  One senior safety product that just hit the market is the Careline™ Home Safety Telephone System” from VTech.  I had the opportunity to check it out this week and there are several aspects that I like:

 

      • Portability – Most of our parents have their phones attached to their wall or sitting on a table.  In reality, it’s important that a cordless
        phone be situated on the floor so if the person falls they can reach the phone.  The Careline System allows for 12 devices to be connected which means there can be a cordless phone in every room.  Be sure there’s one in the bathroom, bedroom and at the bottom of staircases, the most likely places a senior will experience a fall.
      • Ease of use – As people age, their fine motor skills as well as their vision diminish.  The Careline System not only has oversized buttons but allows you to have four pre-programmed numbers with photos of the person on them.  No more trying to remember a number, just press the button for a caregiver, neighbor and even emergency responders.
      • Emergency pendant – The VTech Careline System comes with an oversized pendant with the buttons to reach the four pre-programmed emergency contacts.  What I particularly like about this pendant is that, unlike similar products, this can also be snapped onto a belt, pants or jackets and doesn’t necessarily need to be worn around the person’s neck.

The VTech Careline Home Safety Telephone System is not a monitoring system so there’s no monthly fee.  It retails for $119.95 and can be purchased online or at Radio Shack.  The system comes with a base unit, one cordless phone and the pendant but up to 12 other phones or pendants can be added so both mom and dad could have a pendant if necessary.  For the price, it’s a great phone system that also gives you a little peace of mind. You can get more information at their site, http://www.vtechphones.com/vtechphones/index.cfm/careline/careline-home-safety-telephone-system/

I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by BOOMboxNetwork.com on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.