The Best Apps for Caregivers

Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store together have more than 5.5 million apps that you can download today. Let’s take a look at four apps we think are essentials for caregivers and their families. These apps will help get organized, communicate easily, and keep track of important reminders for appointments and medication.

Google or Outlook Calendar for Easy Planning with Family

Online calendars make it easy to track of doctor’s visits and other important appointments. Our smartphones, tablets, and computers come with calendar software pre-installed, but their true power lies in the ability to share and connect these calendars. Services like Microsoft’s Outlook Calendar and Google Calendar are free to join, and sharing is easy. Just add your family or friend’s email addresses, and you’ll be able to see each other’s calendar.

As a bonus, the calendars come with a suite of other productivity apps, including the powerful notetaking apps Google Keep and Microsoft’s OneNote. These note apps can be shared, just like their calendar counterparts, making it easy to stay up to date with your family and friends.

Symple – A Smart Symptom Tracker

Many seniors are juggling multiple health conditions at once. To help make sense of day-to-day health and wellbeing, seniors need an easy way to track their symptoms. That’s where Symple comes in. The app is available in the Apple App Store for iPads and iPhones. The intuitive user interface makes it easy to track things like joint pain, headaches, sleep patterns, nutrition, and other important markers of health. Journaling in this way can make it easier to get a deeper understanding of the health issues your loved one is facing. Plus, with detailed symptom tracking, you’ll be able to share important information with your doctor.

CaringBridge for Communication

CaringBridge offers a convenient way to share your health journey with the ones you care about. The goal is to reduce stress by connecting you the caregiver to resources in your social network. Users can set up personalized websites and mobile apps that serve as a one-stop spot for sharing news and updates, sending private messages, and coordinating help and support among friends and family.

Medisafe for Smart Medication Tracking

Medisafe is one of the leading apps designed to help you accurately keep track of medications. The app can send you individual reminders for each medication you or your loved one is taking. Medisafe also has your safety in mind—the app is connected to an extensive medication database and continuously checks for drug interaction warnings. You can also link your account to others, so you can get the same timely reminders your loved one sees.

EasyCall is proud to be your technology partner. With help at the push of a button, EasyCall is always there with round-the-clock protection for you and your loved ones.

Four Ways the California Department of Aging Supports Seniors

The California Department of Aging is dedicated to providing high-quality services for older adults, adults with disabilities, family caregivers, and residents in long-term care facilities.  You might know the CDA through its locally-based programs, such as the Area 1 Agency on Aging. Beyond area agencies, the CDA provides a number of home and community services, ombudsman services, Medicare counseling, legal services, nutrition and exercise programs, and support for family caregivers.

In Humboldt County, the Area 1 Agency on Aging is just one of the department’s agencies providing services for seniors. As a funding, planning, and administrative agency, they’re responsible for overseeing many of the programs available to seniors. Here’s an overview of just some of the services.

Ombudsman Services

Located in Eureka, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman helps residents of care facilities manage issues related to their care. These issues can include the quality of care, nutritional concerns, incidents of abuse or neglect, and more. Ombudsmen are volunteers, and seniors can access their services for free. To learn more about these services in Humboldt County, contact the LTC Ombudsman Program at 707-269-1330.

Legal Advice and More

Seniors with legal concerns should contact the Legal Services of Northern California – Redwood Region. The program is open to anyone over the age of 60, regardless of income. Seniors can get free legal advice for a wide range of issues, including housing, elder abuse, Medicare, social security, consumer fraud, and much more. Learn more at lsnc.net.

Home-Based Services

Seniors who live with health conditions can get help with a range of issues from California’s Community Based Adult Services. Locally, seniors can turn to the Adult Day Health and Alzheimer’s Services at the Humboldt Senior Resource Center or the Adult Day Health Care of Mad River located at 3800 Janes Rd. in Arcata.

Help With Rides, Nutrition, and More

Finally, the state’s Multipurpose Senior Services Programs deliver a host of services to seniors aged 65 and older. Participants must be eligible for Medi-Cal under a qualifying primary Medi-Cal aid code and be certified or certifiable for placement in a skilled nursing facility. Services include care management, transportation, meal programs, respite service, and more. Participants will work with a team of health and social service professionals to determine the best care plan. In Humboldt County, the Multipurpose Senior Services Program is administered by the Humboldt Senior Resource Center.

Whether you need legal services or a ride to a doctor’s appointment, the services provided by the California Department of Aging are there to support you and the seniors in your life. You can learn more at https://www.aging.ca.gov/.

Don’t Ignore the ‘Beep’ – It May Be Time for a New CO Detector

If you installed a carbon monoxide detector when California made it state law, it might be time to get a new one.

The California Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act requires most new homes be built with a carbon monoxide detection. The legislation is designed to save lives, but it only works when carbon monoxide detectors are working correctly.

Since the law passed in 2011, many of the standard carbon monoxide detectors have reached their end-of-life. All carbon monoxide detectors are required to alert you with an end-of-life signal; in most cases, you’ll hear a beep at regular intervals.

When you hear this beep, it’s time to replace your carbon monoxide alarm. Changing the battery isn’t enough—it’s time for a new device.

The good news is that if your carbon monoxide detector was installed by a fire alarm provider like Advanced Security Systems, you don’t have to waste time hunting down the “beep.”

“What’s great about the carbon monoxide detectors we install is that our customers will get a call from our dispatch center alerting them that their detector has reached its end-of-life,” says Ian Schatz, Operations Manager for Advanced Security Systems. “It takes the guesswork out of it.”

Customers also benefit from the longer lifespans of professionally installed carbon monoxide detectors. The CO detectors from Advanced Security Systems are rated to last ten years—considerably longer than store-bought detectors, which are rated for 3- and 7-year life spans.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, produced any time fossil fuels are burned. Carbon monoxide poisoning contributes to more than 400 deaths and 50,000 emergency room visits each year according to the Centers for Disease Control.

To learn more about preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Four Ways to Prevent Falls

Falls are the leading cause of hospitalization for seniors. Not only that falls are the leading cause of accidental death in the elderly according to researchers.

As caregivers, the important thing we can do to help our loved ones is preventing falls. These simple tips can make a big difference and help your loved one live a safe and secure life.

De-clutter Your Home and Make Repairs

Your home is full of tripping hazards, and neglected repairs can often lead to unnecessary risks. Cracked driveways and sidewalks, loose rugs, and slippery front steps can all be causes of falls. When you’re visiting with your loved ones, be sure to take a mental inventory of potential fall risks and make a plan to address each issue.

Check Your Sight and Hearing Often

Being aware of our surroundings helps keep us safe and out of danger. As we age, however, we’re faced with the fact that our senses just don’t work like they used to. That’s why it’s critical to stay current on doctor’s visits for your loved ones. Current glasses prescriptions and assistive hearing devices can make a big difference when it comes to avoiding falls.

Watch for Side Effects from Some Medications

Some prescription medications and even over-the-counter drugs can cause dizziness and loss of balance. It’s also possible that drugs that would normally be fine on their own will interact with other drugs, leading to a loss of balance.

Since many seniors are working with teams of doctors, it’s important that to share information about any medications or supplements they may be on with all the health professionals they work with.

Get Fit to Stay On Your Feet

Boosting the strength in gluteal, leg, and core muscles can help maintain balance in seniors. Simple weight lifting exercises or activities like yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong are all effective ways to strengthen key muscle groups.

With these tips, you’ll be able to help the senior in your life to stay safe and avoid falls.

The Most Important Questions to Ask Your Parent’s Doctor

As family caregivers, it often falls on us to make critical decisions about our parents’ care. Being prepared with your most pressing questions will help reduce stress during your doctor’s visit. It also helps you make efficient use of the few minutes we get to speak with our physicians.

There’s a good chance your parents are among the 70 percent of seniors who suffer from two or more chronic diseases. Managing complex medical situations means lots of doctors visits, with lots of prescriptions and follow up instructions. It can be overwhelming.

Author Sharona Hoffman has put together an outstanding list of questions to take with you as the caregiver to an elderly parent.

Hoffman is the author of “Aging with a Plan: How A Little Thought Today Can Vastly Improve Your Tomorrow.” She’s an expert at helping people manage the care of their elderly loved ones. She offers this list of important questions to take with you on your next doctor’s visit.

  1. Does My Parent Really Need This Many Drugs?
  2. What Are the Side Effects of The Drug You Are Recommending?
  3. Are there other, less aggressive alternatives we should consider first?
  4. How can we reduce her or his discomfort?
  5. What would you do if this were your parent?

Embedded within each of these questions is a deep sense of caring and wanting what’s best for our loved ones. Asking a doctor to step into your shoes can be particularly eye-opening for both you and your doctor.

What’s most important is that you are comfortable communicating with your doctor or team of medical professionals. As always, EasyCall is there to support you as you care for the ones you love most.

Portions of this article have been republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Three Ways Security Systems Are Helping Seniors ‘Age in Place’

It’s no secret that older Americans want to stay in their homes. The National Institutes of Health call this “aging in place,” and more than 80 percent of seniors say they’re planning on staying in their homes for the rest of their lives.

EasyCall, the medical alert system from Advanced Security Systems, is the perfect way to help you keep your independence by providing a 24/7 connection to help.

But did you know your security system can play a significant role in helping you stay safe and secure in your home as you age? Today’s security systems are smarter and sleeker than the systems of 10 or 20 years ago. Modern security systems are capable of connecting to and controlling many features of a modern home. Here are three ways your security system can help you age in place.

Keep Your Home Comfortable With Connected Thermostats

Seniors are often sensitive to changes in temperature. A smart thermostat can help maintain even heating and cooling throughout the day without needing to be adjusted by the homeowner. Modern thermostats also learn your habits throughout the day and can turn off your thermostat automatically when you leave the house. Today’s alarm systems are easily programmed to control thermostats conveniently from your smartphone or tablet.

Smart Doorbells Keep an Eye on Your Front Door

Smart doorbells make it possible to know who’s at your door without needing to get up. When a visitor rings the bell, you get an alert on your phone or tablet that allows you to see and speak with whoever’s there. Seniors with mobility challenges can find it challenging to make it to the door in time to greet visitors. Adding a smart doorbell to your alarm system is another excellent way to boost the security and safety of your home.

Boost Safety with Smart Lighting Inside and Outside Your Home

Integrating smart lights with your security system is one of the easiest and most effective ways to enhance the safety and security of your home. For a relatively low cost, you can install lights that will automatically turn on when you enter a dark hallway or illuminate a dark spot outside. You’ll reduce the risk of falls while also discouraging would-be thieves from attempting a breaking—all thanks to smart lighting. You can easily add smart lights to your alarm system as part of your overall security package. To learn more, contact us, and we’ll create a custom security package that fits your needs.

Advanced Security Systems Taps Syd Lemmon for Field Services Manager

Advanced Security Systems proudly announces the promotion of Sydney Lemmon of Eureka, Calif., to the position of Field Services Manager. This position oversees all technicians and fieldwork and is tasked with ensuring all customer needs are met within Advanced Security Systems’ Northern California service region.

 

In his three years with the company, Lemmon has served as both a service and installation technician. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Calif. Before joining Advanced Security Systems, Lemmon served as a Youth Pastor at the Eureka First Church of the Nazarene.

 

“Syd brings a unique leadership ability that truly supports our ability to deliver peace of mind. With Syd overseeing field services, our customers are sure to get an outstanding quality of service,” says Chuck Petrusha, President and CEO of Advanced Security Systems.

 

Advanced Security Systems sells, services, and installs burglar and fire alarms, access control systems, and video surveillance packages. With offices in Eureka, Crescent City, and Santa Rosa, Advanced Security Systems has been Northern California’s leading security provider for over 45 years. To learn more, visit www.advancedsecurity.us.

How to Get Paid as a Caregiver

Caring for an older loved one can be one of the most important acts of service we ever undertake. It can also be an overwhelming task that can dominate our lives. It’s not uncommon for caregivers to quit their jobs or move out of their homes to take care of an elderly parent or relative in their dotage. When we’re engaged in acts of service, our hearts and minds should be with our loved ones, not dwelling on money issues.

The financial impacts of becoming a care provider can be considerable.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways for caregivers to get some financial relief. Whether it’s getting paid for providing care, or finding resources to supplement the care you provide, there are a number of ways to offset the burden of being a care provider. The methods outlined here are designed to provide a financial supplement to the caregiver, not to replace a full-time income.

Tax Exemptions for Dependents

Caregivers can claim a number of costs as exemptions while caring for dependents, including travel and medical expenses. Be sure to keep excellent records and receipts and work with a qualified tax preparation professional to be sure you’re claiming your maximum deductions and exemptions.

Long-Term Care Insurance for Family Members

Many long-term care insurance policies cover expenses related to in-home care. Contact your insurance provider to see if family members can qualify as care providers and receive this insurance benefit. The AARP has a good overview of the benefits and risks of long-term care insurance.

Take Advantage of State Resources

The State of California offers a range or resources for caregivers. You can receive training or find resources to supplement the care you provide. You can also register as a provider of In-Home Supportive Services and get paid by the state. However, important restrictions do apply. The state’s Department of Social Services has more information.

Family Contracts

Some families choose to formalize the caregiver relationship and establish a regularly scheduled payment. This option depends on your family’s dynamics, but a good way to ensure a fair arrangement is made is by working with an elder law attorney. An attorney will be able to ensure the contract is legally sound and is acceptable to all interested parties, including any siblings or close relatives.

How to Stay Safe & Healthy this Summer

EasyCall is your partner in staying safe this summer. With so many fun-filled days, it’s essential to keep on top of our health as the weather heats up.

Get Active with Outdoor Activities

Studies show seniors who remain active lead more enjoyable lives and experience less depression and loneliness.

Look for water activities at local pools and private gyms; community events like fairs and festivals; or volunteer your time with local charities or other organizations.

Avoid Dehydration by Keeping Cool

As we age, our bodies have to work harder to stay cool. Avoid heat-related stress and illness (hyperthermia), which can affect our brains and vital organs.

When it gets hot, turn on the AC. If you’re trying to save on your PG&E bill, visit air-conditioned public places, like the mall or library or public cooling centers. The sun is most extreme between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so schedule your outdoor activities to avoid the hottest part of the days.

Overheating can lead to rapid water loss, leaving us dehydrated. Learn to recognize the symptoms of dehydration so you can feel your best.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of fluids and fill up on fruits and veggies to stay well hydrated. When it’s hot, avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which can rob the body of precious fluids.

Cover Up & Wear Sunscreen

Sunburns can be painful, and prolonged unprotected exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. Cover up with long sleeved but lightweight clothes and broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Whether you’re heading to the pool or relaxing in the garden, EasyCall is your always-on, always-ready assistant. With a durable water-proof enclosure you can wear your EasyCall medical alert system in all conditions. And with a customizable response plan, you can be sure help is never further than the push of a button.

4 Tips for Talking About Money with Your Parents

It can be awkward, but sooner or later, it’s time for children to talk to their aging parents about money. But having an honest conversation about the financial health of your parents is essential, especially considering the high likelihood of expensive medical costs as our parents age. It costs more than $170,000 for the lifetime care of an Alzheimer’s patient, and children who support their parents’ long-term care often do so to the tune of $10,000 per year on average. Not being prepared can have big financial consequences.

Avoiding difficult conversations about money can lead to making a snap decision in the middle of a medical crisis—in fact, 85 percent of long-term care decisions are made during a medical emergency. You can avoid this situation by talking early on with your parents about their financial plans for their final years. To help,

According to a great article by the PBS News Hour, there are 7 key steps to having a conversation with your parents about money.

1) Come to Terms with How You Feel About Money

Money talks are charged with emotion, so it’s vital for you to be able to identify and process your feelings about money. Our parents shape our earliest money memories, and lingering feelings, good or bad, are common.

2) Ask During a Quiet Time

Asking to have a serious conversation about finances during a busy holiday meal only adds to the stress of the event. Finding a quiet time to have a mindful conversation will help you and your parents think clearly about this difficult subject.

3) Be Specific

If there’s something that’s bothering you, focus your conversation on that specific topic. Maybe you noticed some bills weren’t paid on time, or you think your parents are victims of a phone scam. By having a specific concern, you can avoid your parents feeling as though you are condemning their financial habits. Instead, you’re concerned with something specific and are offering to help.

4) Let Your Parents Stay in Control Whenever Possible

As we age and the roles of caregiver and care receiver are reversed, it’s important to let your parents remain in control as long as possible. Instead of wresting control of finances away from your parents, tell them that you’ll be there to support them however possible as they age. Let them guide the conversation and the decision making—odds are they’ve been thinking about their retirement finances much longer than you have.

With these tips, you’ll be equipped to have honest and important conversations about money with your parents. Do it now, before it’s too late.