Three Tips for Senior Well-Being

As caretakers, it’s easy for us to become focused only on the physical well-being of our loved ones. Of course, making sure our loved ones are comfortable, well taken care of and all their needs are met is our primary responsibility. But it’s important not to lose sight of others parts of “well-being.”

Mental stimulation, social interaction, and feelings of self-reliance and a sense of purpose are all parts of well-being that go beyond physical well-being.

With that in mind, here are three areas of wellbeing that we as caregivers should focus on.

Spirituality

Whether it’s attending a beloved church or simply enjoying nature, certain activities will fill our hearts with and souls with joy. Be sure you include activities like this in your caregiving plan.

A Sense of Purpose

As our loved ones age, we tend to take on more and more responsibility on their behalf. However, a major part of feeling good about oneself is having a sense of purpose and knowing that we’re helping others. Look for ways to involve your loved ones in activities they can manage but can also be considered “chipping in.” From folding laundry at home to volunteering a few hours reading to children, there are many ways for seniors to contribute to their families and communities.

Social Interaction

Far too many seniors live their final years in isolation. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of activities and programs that help seniors connect with others. Your local senior center, library, and community centers are full of ways to help your elderly loved ones engage with their communities.

Safety Checklists for Senior Homes

If you have a senior family member or loved one who lives on their own, then you know how important it is to ensure their home is both safe and comfortable.

Reducing the risk of falls for seniors is the most important thing we as caregivers can do. According to the National Council on Aging, every 11 seconds adults over the age of 65 experience a fall that leads to hospitalization.

To ensure the wellbeing of our loved ones, it’s important to address potential safety issues in every room of the house. Here’s a checklist you can use to make sure the senior in your life is as safe and secure as possible.

Avoiding Falls

–    Remove objects like small tables, baskets, and other potential tripping hazards. Walkways should always be clear.
–    Tack down loose rugs or get rugs with anti-slip backing and make sure all area rugs are on pads.
–    Make sure all cords are removed from walkways and are routed along walls.
–    Clean up any spills as soon as they happen.

Installable Safety Measures

–    Install motion-activated lighting and railings at all entryways. Consider installing ramps at the front and back doors so seniors don’t have to climb steps.
–    Add a non-slip mat in all bathtubs or shower stalls.
–    Add grab bars to showers and near the toilet.
–    Consider an electric stair lift if your loved one can no longer climb stairs
–    Add interior motion lights to commons areas like bathrooms and hallways and other spaces frequented at night.
–    Add color striping to any steps or changes in floor heights
–    Install GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupters) electrical outlets around the kitchen and bathroom to lower the risk of electrical shock.
–    Install carbon monoxide detectors in addition to smoke detectors.
–    Add a personal emergency response system like EasyCall to your loved one’s bedroom or living room. Help is always there at the push of a button with EasyCall.

Complete Routine Repairs and Maintenance

–    Fix any uneven flooring or carpeting that could lead to falls.
–    Make sure windows, doors, and screens are all in good working order and are easy to open.
–    Ensure furniture is in good condition and complete any necessary repairs

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good start. By going through your loved one’s home, room by room, you can identify and address potential safety and make their home safer, more secure, and more comfortable than ever. Good luck!

10 Signs Your Senior Parents Need Assistance

As the children of aging parents, it’s often up to us to spot the signs that our elders might need help. Sometimes we can be caught off guard by a sudden decline in our parent’s abilities. One month mom and dad might seem fine and the next you might notice clear signs that something isn’t right.

It’s important to know how to spot subtle signs that something is wrong so you can proactively address a change in health.

Remember, a change in ability doesn’t necessarily mean your parents need assisted living or to move to a nursing home. Often, a few small changes can help your parents live safely and comfortably in their own homes.

Here are ten things to look for that might indicate your parents are ready for help.
–    Yard work and basic home maintenance hasn’t been done
–    Your parent’s hygiene has declined suddenly
–    Groceries are spoiled, and the kitchen is a mess
–    The house is disorganized and cluttered
–    Things like mail and newspapers are unopened and piling up
–    Sudden changes in weight, either gaining or losing
–    Financial troubles: late payments, second notices, bounced checks
–    Mysterious bruises that your parent doesn’t remember getting
–    New dents and scratches on the car can be signs that driving ability is failing
–    Anything that seems out of character–you know your parents best!

If you spot one or more of these signs in your parents, it could be an indication that they need help completing everyday daily tasks. Of course, most parents don’t want to place an extra burden on their children. It’s important that you’re prepared for a potentially difficult conversation about care.

EasyCall Can Help Maintain Independence
There’s no question that most seniors want to remain in their homes. Surveys show that up to 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their homes as they age. EasyCall, the personal medical alert system from Advanced Security Systems, can be your partner in helping your parents keep their independence. With EasyCall, help is available 24/7 at the push of a button. Our customized response plan lets you decide who gets notified in the event of an emergency. EasyCall can dispatch fire, ambulance or police in an instant, or call a neighbor, family member or anyone who can help.

What You Need to Know About Respite Care

A “respite” is a short period of rest from something difficult. For caregivers, respite care is temporary care for your loved ones that gives you much needed time away from the duties of caring for another.

You can use the time to run errands, spend time with family, practice self-care, or anything else that helps you find a sense of relief. The important thing is you get time for yourself without worrying that your loved one is being cared for.

Respite workers help seniors with everything from daily activities around the house to traveling to medical appointments. This care can take place in a senior facility, an adult day care center, or the senior’s home.

Here are a few reasons caregivers might need respite care

–    To give your mind and body a break
–    To go to the doctor or other important appointments
–    To spend time with your friends and family
–    To take over care of your senior if you have a personal emergency.

And check out these facts about caregivers that show why respite care is so essential.

Caregivers can get depressed. Forty to 70 percent of caregivers have clinical symptoms of depression.

The average family caregiver spends 20 hours a week caring for others, and fully 13 percent of caregivers provide more than 40 hours of care. Despite this time commitment, 60 percent of family caregivers keep their jobs.

Caregivers sacrifice a lot to care for their loved ones, and respite care is one way to get a little relief from this most important of duties. To learn more about respite care and find resources near you, visit https://eldercare.acl.gov.

Get Help from EasyCall

Another way to ensure your loved ones are taken care of is with EasyCallEasyCall is a personal medical response system that ensures help is never further than the press of a button. EasyCall is waterproof and can even automatically detect falls in case of an emergency.

 

5 Unexpected Ways Seniors Can Stay Healthy This Winter

There’s no denying that winter is here. Besides colds and the flu, winter brings other health challenges. Changes in the weather can lead to dry and cracking skin, increase the chance of slips, and force us indoors for months as we avoid the cold.

Don’t get caught off guard this year. With these five unexpected tips, you can help the senior in your life stay healthy and safe this winter.

Find Out if Winter Chills Have a Medical Cause

Many seniors report feeling cold even while the rest of us are in short sleeves. Always feeling cold is likely due to a lack of circulation that affects many of us as we age. Thyroid conditions can lead to a loss of temperature regulation. Before you buy another electric blanket, check with your loved one’s doctor to make sure there’s not a medical reason behind the chills. We’ve spoken with folks who have received treatment for malfunctioning thyroids, and they all report not feeling as cold. If you’ve already eliminated medical reasons for being cold, it may be time to invest in programmable thermostats, space heaters, and microwaveable heat packs.

Check In On Seniors to Prevent Isolation

When the temperatures drop, we head inside. For some seniors that means spending days and weeks without social contact. It’s vital that we, as caregivers, check in on our loved ones as often as possible. Another option is to arrange for our loved ones to spend their days at senior facilities.

Maintain a Healthy and Varied Diet

Isolation can lead to another unexpected complication for seniors: nutritional deficiencies. Being stuck indoors for days on end can result in unhealthy habits, including eating the same things over and over. Variety in our diets is essential for getting all the vitamins and minerals we need. Vitamin D is especially crucial in the winter. Ideally, we absorb our vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun, but that exposure is diminished in winter. Nutritionists recommend consuming foods that are fortified with vitamin D, like milk and seafood like salmon and tuna.

Swap Canes for Walkers to Avoid Slips & Falls

The chance of falling skyrockets in winter. Frosty conditions can spell disaster for seniors, who aren’t as agile or mobile as they once were. Caregivers recommend walkers instead of canes for seniors who need help getting around. Others suggest keeping two walkers, one for indoors, and another that can get dirty when heading outside.

Use Unscented Lotions to Soothe Winter’s Dry Skin

Avoid baby oil, which contains mineral oil and fragrances that often irritate skin. Instead, doctors and caregivers recommend skin-friendly, fragrance-free lotions and creams. Store shelves are stocked with effective, unscented products that can reduce dry skin. For some, dry skin can get so bad that it cracks in a condition known as “winter itch.” Thankfully, “winter itch” is a form of seasonal eczema that can be treated with antibiotic ointment. Ask your doctor if you or a loved one is experiencing this uncomfortable but treatable skin condition.

Winter is full of hazards for young and old alike. Caregivers should pay extra attention to the health and wellbeing of seniors this season. With a bit of planning, seniors can have a healthy and safe winter and get ready for warmer months ahead.

Avoiding Family Conflicts When Caring for Elderly Parents

As parents age, many will turn to their children for support. Taking on this responsibility can be a recipe for sibling conflict, as age-old resentments return to the fore. This conflict not only harms our relationships with our brothers and sisters, but it can also impact the quality of care our parents receive.

Learn more about the common sources of family conflicts when children squabble over care duties and strategies to help avoid them.

Finances

Every family is unique, so not every family will deal with these issues, but senior care experts tell us conflicts often come down to money and burden of care.

Family inheritance is a major source of wealth for many families, so it’s natural that tensions can flair when it comes time to think about dividing mom and dad’s savings. To make matters worse, American’s household wealth has been declining for more than a decade, leaving children to divide up increasingly smaller amounts—a sure recipe for arguments.

Sharing the Responsibility

When it comes to caring for an aging parent, not every task can be divided up evenly among siblings. Often, one child lives closer than others, and he or she bears the brunt of the burden. This commonly leads to resentment when one sibling feels like others aren’t sharing the load.

When it comes time to divide up any inheritance, this can lead many children who provided the bulk of care to expect a greater share of the money. A fight over money is sure to fuel the flames of family conflict.

How to Avoid Sibling Conflicts

Talk it Out—Ahead of Time

In a perfect world, conflicts are avoided because reasonable adults can communicate their concerns before they boil over into fights. In reality, we know things work differently. When it becomes obvious that a parent will need care as they enter their final years, setting up a family meeting can go a long way to avoiding conflict. In such a meeting, each sibling should be comfortable discussing what kind of care they think is appropriate, how much they can contribute, and what they see as their responsibility. End of life care should also be discussed, so major decisions don’t have to be made under the stress of a hospital emergency room visit.

Seek Professional Help

If you’re at a loss for how to proceed with quarreling family members, it might be time to seek professional help. Senior living advisors, family counselors, and mediators can offer ways to work out disagreements. Because these professionals don’t have a stake in the outcome, they can help siblings discuss critical issues, especially if family members have ceased speaking with one another.

Whatever strategy you pursue, remember who you’re working for: an elderly parent who needs the love and support of his or her family at a critical time. Whenever possible, now is the time to set aside our differences and come together as families to care for our loved ones.

3 Tips to Fight Senior Isolation This Christmas

The holiday season is here, and for many, it’s a time to gather with friends and families. But far too many seniors live alone and have no one to spend their Christmas with. Here are 3 tips to fight senior isolation this Christmas.

Being socially isolated has serious health implications. Scientists say it’s as bad as smoking for your health. As the U.S. population ages, the numbers of people suffering from social isolation will only increase.

Staying connected to others gives our lives meaning, and unfortunately many seniors today are living alone in their final years.

In fact, the current statistics are startling. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 11 million, or 34% of people aged 65 and older, lived alone in 2014.

As a care provider, it’s important to learn to spot the signs of isolation. Here are a few tips to help ensure your loved ones aren’t spending the holidays alone.

Try to Find Out Why Seniors are Isolating Themselves

If the elder in your life is naturally shy, that’s one thing. But if their isolation is a change in behavior, then something may be wrong. They could be experiencing seasonal affective disorder or even depression. Or perhaps they’re embarrassed about a medical condition and don’t want to leave the security of their homes. Look for ways to tactfully discuss why they’re choosing isolation over socializing and together you can find ways that will help them enjoy the holidays.

Make Your Senior Loved Ones A Priority

If your elder loved ones are unable to leave their care facility or their home, then try to arrange your holiday schedule to include them. By carving out time in your busy schedule, you’ll show your loved ones you care about them and help brighten the season.

Plan Family Activities that Include Seniors

Many activities can include both the youngest and oldest members of your family. Board games, scrapbooking, and movie nights are all great ways to bring the family together in a way that’s not overwhelming for seniors.

Whether your family likes to go big for Christmas or enjoys a mellow holiday, including your elder loved ones will surely brighten their season.

Everyone at EasyCall wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tips for Staying Healthy this Flu Season

Influenza is often quite serious for people 65 and older. Besides getting a flu shot, what are some other steps you can take to stay healthy this winter?

The Centers for Disease Control offer these tips to stay healthy this flu season:
Practice good health habits including covering for coughs, washing hands, and avoiding people who are sick.
Seek medical advice quickly if you develop flu symptoms
Get pneumococcal vaccines People who are 65 years of age and older should also be up to date with pneumococcal vaccination.
Read the full article here.

Having the flu can increase the risk of falls or the need for emergency medical services. With EasyCall you and your loved ones can stay within reach of help. Learn more today.

5 Great Gifts for Seniors

The Holidays are just around the corner, and many of us will be buying gifts for seniors in our lives. Show them you care with these five great gift ideas that are sure to be big hits with your elders.

EasyCall Medical Alert System

Peace of mind could be the greatest gift you can give a loved one. With EasyCall, more seniors are living independently because they know help is never far. One push of the EasyCall pendant and you’re connected to professional dispatchers who will send help any time of day. EasyCall is waterproof and is guaranteed for life, and can even detect falls automatically. Learn more about EasyCall.

Large Type Puzzles & Crosswords

As we age, our eyesight diminishes, and we have to adjust to limited vision. One way to combat this is with large type puzzles and crossword books. Not only are puzzles and crosswords fun, but they can also help keep our brains healthy too. Staying engaged mentally has been shown to help with symptoms from dementia and Alzheimer’s, so encourage your loved ones to pick up a pencil and solve a few puzzles. Penny Publications has some great options.

Home Accessibility Upgrade

Besides EasyCall, a home accessibility upgrade is another great way to help seniors maintain their independence. Installing a ramp to the front door, sturdy handles in all showers and bathrooms, and adding some smart home features like automated lights, can make life much more comfortable for your older loved ones. This Old House has a great video on retrofitting a home for accessibility.

Robotic Vacuum

Who likes vacuuming? No one we’ve ever met. Give the gift of clean floors, while also relieving your loved one of hauling a heavy vacuum cleaner around the house. Smart vacuums range from $300 to $800, and all are capable of vacuuming your floors autonomously. Higher prices get buyers bigger batteries, and better software potentially improving how they clean. Tom’s Guide has a great buyers guide to help you get started.

Memoir Writing Kit

What better way to create memories than to help an elder in your life write their memoir? Everyone has a story to tell and kits like this are designed to get the creative juices flowing. Memoir writing kits range in complexity and depth, but each one is designed to help you tell the story of a loved one. Learn more at Empire Book Publishing.

Four Tips for Family Caregivers

As a caregiver for a family member or loved one, our roles are rewarding but stressful. After all, we’re responsible for the well-being both our family member and ourselves. If our health isn’t optimized, it becomes difficult to give the quality of care we’re capable of giving. With that in mind, here are four tips for family caregivers to help manage their role:

In California, You Can Get Paid as a Family Caregiver

Did you know several programs in California will pay you to be a caregiver to a family member? While there are qualifications you’ll have to meet, this can be a great way to defer costs and make your caregiver role more manageable.
Check out programs like:

 

Reach Out For Help

The National Alliance for Caregiving, the Eldercare Locator, and the AARP are just a small sample of the hundreds of organizations committed to helping you be a better care provider. There’s no reason to go it alone or feel isolated. Reach out for help when it’s needed and you and your loved ones will benefit. Here’s a great list of resources from the AARP.

Give Yourself Credit for Doing a Great Job

We know that being a caregiver can get difficult sometimes. It’s important to give yourself credit for taking on one of the hardest jobs imaginable. Still, caring for another can be frustrating at times. Remember these quick tips to help keep your peace of mind.

  • Focus on what’s going well, not what’s going wrong.
  • Take time to reward yourself for a job well done.
  • Write down your thoughts so you can process things that are on your mind. The duties of daily life can make it possible to reflect on the important service you’re providing.

Technology Like EasyCall is On Your Side

We’re living through an unprecedented technological boom. We see it everywhere from our smartphones to self-driving cars. The great part is that these advances in tech are making it easier than ever to be a caregiver. Smart medicine dispensers can keep track of whether seniors are taking their meds, and wireless cameras let family members check in on seniors any time of day.

Technology like EasyCall gives your loved ones a 24/7 connection to help. With one push of a button, EasyCall can send help. EasyCall can even detect fall automatically, so there’s no need to push a button in the case of an emergency. Connected smart technologies like these mean your loved ones never have to be alone.