The Beginner’s Guide to Remaining in Your Home While Aging

That day is coming. The day when our Peter Pan philosophy can carry on no more. Others age but we don’t, right? It is time to face the reality that aging is something happening to us all and we must plan accordingly. Some people associate getting older with retirement communities and loss of independence.  But do we really need to leave our homes? The answer is no. Not if you take time to familiarize yourself with the tools and concepts available to you today.

“Universal design” is a concept quickly becoming embraced among homeowners of varying ages. The idea is to start making simple modifications now to your home, enabling you to remain in your home when your daily lifestyle needs and routines change. The article “Universal Design for Every Age and Stage of Life” states the best time to think about integrating universal design principles and features..is “before a life change or emergency happens.”

UD #2

Statements like this make it all the more important to start being proactive with your future home modifications. SimplyHome is taking steps by participating in the Livable Homes Project with AARP and the Universal Design Institute. Richard Duncan, Executive Director of UDI says the concept is more than adding custom features to a home. The changes need to be packed to look good and work well. He took the time to answer our questions about universal design and explain a few things we should know.

 UD #2

5 Things You Should Know about Universal Design

  1. Where do you start? Before making any changes to your home, the absolute first place to start is with an honest assessment of your home and your needs. Ask yourself, Is this the right home for me to age in? For example, should the need arise, would you be able to move your bedroom from the second floor to the first floor in this particular house?

  2. The Three Main Areas.  The three main areas to focus on in your home are the entrance, bathrooms and kitchen. Making entrance changes are the most simple and the best first move. You can start by adding handrails to the stair cases and improving lighting. A good question to ask yourself with the entrance is, Are the hallways and doorways wide enough to fit equipment through?  After the entrance, some basic bathroom changes could include having  curbless showers, adding a bench for a place to sit and having a handheld showerhead.

  3. Common Misconception. When you think of an added shower handrail to help accessibility, it’s easy to imagine it as an eyesore, a bulky feature completely out of place with the interior of your home. But universal design is more than custom features. It’s the entire package of adding an element that helps your daily needs, but also fits the style of your home. For example, a handrail can also double as a towel rack.

  4. Get the right advice. The first mistake many individuals make when implementing universal design is hiring someone with expertise in one room, rather than understanding the functionality of the house altogether. For example, advice should come from someone with an architectural or interior design background. Someone with home-design experience, who can understand your needs as they will change and envision how your home can grow with you.

  5. There’s Higher Functionality with Technology.  SimplyHome technology is, “A wonderful addition to keeping people safe and  independent in their homes,” says Richard. The higher functionality you have to begin with, the more effective the custom changes. Using SimplyHome technology helps you to avoid limitations with the changes you implement down the road. You want as many options as possible. SimplyHome environmental controls help you to adjust lighting in various locations of your home from a single location – a tablet. SimplyHome door, window and stove sensors, medication management, fall detection, and telehealth services, cover all your needs to remain in your home.

 

Want to learn specific ways customized solutions can help you? Get A Free Assessment From SimplyHome

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5 Senior Living Community Trends for 2017

5 senior living community trends

 

Can technology bridge the gap between all levels of care for people as they age? Recent trends in senior living communities are transforming care models, opening the door to more options.  

600 senior living organizations from 15 states were surveyed by Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging to identify the top senior living community trends for 2017.

Trend #1: Technology will be key to sustaining independent lifestyles among senior living residents.

  • SimplyHome technology encourages and empowers an independent lifestyle through wireless systems by utilizing sensors. As a family member, you and care staff can receive call, text or email alerts from anywhere when a problem is detected. Family visits and phone calls can focus on what matters most — quality time. Motion, door and window sensors help prevent wandering concerns; stove and cabinet sensors can promote cooking safety and healthy nutrition; chair/bed pressure pads can unobtrusively monitor sleep and behavior patterns. Medication management, fall detection and telehealth are also available for care management.

Trend #2: Senior living providers will expand services “beyond” their four walls to provide important social connection programs to older adults living in their own homes, including adult day care programs, services to the homebound and in-home care services.

  • The independence SimplyHome technology establishes increases the list of social activities individuals can partake in. The SimplyHome model of natural supports (alerts via text message, phone call and email) connects individuals to their family, friends and neighbors, as well as to staff at community living facilities.

Trend #3: Long-term care is being transformed to support person-directed care and meaningful relationships. Senior residences are beginning to adopt smaller, home-like environments.

  • Technology enables families and providers to focus on where people want to live. SimplyHome’s person-centered approach is about creating customized solutions that are based on the individual’s needs. What are your daily needs? What is your daily routine? How can we maximize your independence? These are all questions we ask when implementing technology to help an individual remain in their home. Getting the answers to these questions also builds a foundation for relationships in the community and with care staff.

Trend #4: Language, perceptions and attitudes of care providers must be updated to reflect changing older adults’ needs and expectations. This might include changing the model of an “activity director” to that of a “life coach,” which focuses on working with customers who have higher, more self-actualizing expectations.

  • When technology is implemented into a residence, SimplyHome assists care staff to further understand the specific needs of your loved one. We stress to providers the importance of knowing what options are available and allowing people to make the choice of how they want to live. The technology is a way to support their choice.

Trend #5: Above all, consumers want choice and value. Older adults are demanding more choices, control, a redefinition of what community means, and convenience within and outside of the community. This includes financing options, customized programs, and access to on-demand services and engaging activities.

  • Customers with SimplyHome choose how they want to live. The technology in place lets individuals choose life on their terms. 24/7 Customer Service support provides care staff and family with peace of mind, knowing they will be notified if a change in a behavioral pattern occurs.

Canva Quote
This video shows how one woman’s grandfather was able to maintain his choice for independence through technology.

You can view the full article’s findings here.

Start Your Free Assessment with SimplyHome

 

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Home for the Holidays: Top 8 Signs An Older Loved One Needs More Support

Home for the Holidays

 

An Ideal Time to Observe

Ah, the holidays. Does any time of year fill children with more excitement over gifts and goodies? Of fill adults with more concern over travel plans and family gatherings?

The holidays are a great time to simply observe the aging process of your loved ones and to anticipate the process of planning for the future. Depending on what you observe, you can lay the foundations for future conversations about life changes, whether that means making plans to age in place, move closer to loved ones, or find a more supported living setting.

The aging process can be disorienting both for the person who is aging and their family members. How do we know the difference between natural signs of healthy aging, and more significant changes?

 

Patterns to Look for

Here are some indicators that an older person might be in need of additional support to maintain their quality of life. This is not a comprehensive list.

  1. Personality changes or rapid mood swings

  1. Becoming confused, aggressive, agitated, suspicious, fearful, or paranoid

  1. A greater need for rest or a disruption of sleep patterns

  1. Difficulty walking, sitting, rising, answering the door

  1. Difficulties with remembering people’s names or to complete daily tasks

  1. Disinterest in previously enjoyed activities

  1. Neglect of residence or vehicle (Examples: accumulating mail, out-of-date food in the refrigerator, debris or fall hazards, scrapes or dents on vehicle, deterioration of landscape or home)

  1. Neglect of self-care (Examples: unkempt clothing, bruises, irregular or inadequate diet, disorganized medications, lack of hygiene, lack of social interaction)

We encourage families to discuss their concerns and plans for the future sooner rather than later. Being proactive offers the aging individual the opportunity to participate in the planning process, and to have plans in place in case a crisis occurs. Above all, it’s important to reassure aging parents or grandparents that you will be present in the next phases of their lives.

 

Possible Solutions for Aging in Place with Technology

Not all of the concerns on this list indicate that individuals need to move to assisted living or have full-time support. With the combination of technology and home care, an individual can remain independent in his or her own home for much longer.

Here are some of the technology solutions SimplyHome to empower adults who are facing the challenges of aging:

  • Medication Management: Medication dispensers can remind individuals when it is time to take their medications. A call center can notify family or staff if medication is missed or delayed.

  • Wellness Monitoring: Blood pressure cuffs, glucose monitors, and pulse oximeters can collect health data in a confidential online health file. These systems send notifications if an individual’s status exceed predetermined thresholds. This type of health monitoring can prevent

  • Customized Sensor Systems: Wireless systems can promote independence with activities of daily living by utilizing sensors. Motion, door and window sensors help prevent wandering or fall concerns; stove and cabinet sensors can promote cooking safety and healthy nutrition; chair/bed pressure pads can unobtrusively monitor sleep and behavior patterns. providing alerts only when a problem is detected.

  • Preserving Independence: Notifications are sent to caregivers only when a problem is detected – this allows for senior adults to get the assistance they needed, without feeling like their privacy or independence is lost.

It can be a great gift to your loved ones to initiate conversations about these concerns, so that they can take part in a positive planning process on their care and plans for the future.

Want to learn more about these solutions? SimplyHome offers a free assessment process to discuss your loved one’s goals related to safe and independent living.

Initiate Your Free Assessment With SimplyHome


Photo credits: Holiday candle, holiday cookies (Flickr)

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Guest columnist: New Year’s Resolution – goals for aging

This is a great article written by one of our partners. Amy Smialowicz Fowler is a care manager, certified and owner of WNC Geriatric Care Management. Visit her website at www.wncgcm.com.
Amy Smialowicz Fowler, GUEST COLUMNIST 12:35 p.m. EST December 31, 2015

headshot web versionIt is the time of year to start diets, dust off your sneakers and think about your goals for aging. That is a new one, right? Why not use this season of new beginnings to be proactive about planning for your future. We all age and thankfully we do have the option to make this a smooth process. It is only with thoughtfulness, however, that we can achieve our aging goals.

First, you must understand your current health needs and how this may change as you age. Your physician is the best person to talk to about disease prognosis and progression. Once equipped with this information, you can consider questions like: will I need help getting dressed, fixing a meal, taking my medications, walking and transferring? These answers will reveal what level of care you may need down the road.

AARP studies show that 90 percent of American older than 65 want to stay in their homes. This can be a reality by receiving care in your home through private caregiving agencies or caregivers. Remember that care in your home is not covered by Medicare and therefore will be an out-of-pocket expense. In addition, you must consider your home and if you can safely age in place. Fourteen stairs to your front door and you are already having trouble with walking? Staying in your current environment may not be feasible even with caregiver support.

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Will baby boomers save the world?

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 11.51.45 AMLinda and Richard Eyre write “We can save them directly when they are our children and grandchildren, and we can save them indirectly when we use the last third of our lives to positively impact some aspect of their world.”

Spending time with grandchildren has been shown to fight against Alzheimers (read here), but can it save the world? Linda and Richard Eyre say that it sure can and it might be the best way to use the years after retirement.

Will baby boomers save the world? 

By Linda and Richard Eyre- For the Deseret News

As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago in this column, the baby-boom generation numbers over 80 million Americans who are all now in their 50s and 60s. What responsibility does this generation have to the rest of the world? It’s a question all of us in that generation should ask ourselves.

Our parents and grandparents were called “the greatest generation” because they fought and won World War II and then built the industrialized world. They were the builders and the givers while we, their children, are often thought of as the inheritors and the takers.

And there is no question about it — we baby boomers were the recipients of the post-war prosperity and were raised with more privilege, possibility and potential than any previous generation.

The question is, after being the 50- and 60-year beneficiaries of the opportunities and options we inherited, what will we give back to the world? And what will we do with the 20 or 30 extra years that no previous generation has had?

Read more here about the potential baby boomers have to save the world.

Alzheimer’s Warning Signs

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All of us here at SimplyHome have been impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease one way or another. We know that Alzheimer’s is a nasty disease that changes the people we love in ways we never thought were possible. We walk to support Alzheimer’s Disease research each year.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of dementia. Causing problems with thinking, memory and behavior, Alzheimer’s typically develops slowly and worsens over time. As the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s is not a normal sign of aging.

If you suspect a family member or friend is developing Alzheimer’s, take a look at these 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, put together by the Alzheimer’s Association:

1.Memory changes that disrupt daily life

2.Challenges in planning or solving problems

3.Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure

4.Confusion with time or place

5.Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

6.New problems with words in speaking or writing

7.Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

8.Decreased or poor judgment

9.Withdrawal from work or social activities

10.Changes in mood and personality

If you detect any of these signs or symptoms in a loved one, it is important that you talk to your doctor. Though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s at this point, there are ways to treat symptoms and create an environment so that your loved one can be comfortable and slow the impact of dementia. Improving quality of life can only be done if your loved one is diagnosed properly. Be on the look out for these signs and symptoms.

 

Unconditional Love: Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Unconditional Love.

This is when you love something without expecting anything in return, no matter how you are treated in the relationship. It involves empathy, respect, and a genuine appreciation for who it is that you are loving unconditionally. This is not always easy, but it is infinitely more challenging when dealing with someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of Dementia. It’s frustrating to not be able to communicate with someone you love so much. It’s tiresome to do everything for them without a thank you ever mentioned by the person, especially when they refuse the necessary bath, meal, or whatever it is they are fighting you over today. It’s heartbreaking when they don’t recognize who you are.

But caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is rewarding. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice patience, compassion, and problem-solving. There’s nothing better than to be able to make someone constantly laugh, even if it’s a joke you’ve told them a dozen times that day. You get to be an explorer of a previously unknown world, the new reality of your loved one. It is different than the reality you live in and not worth arguing over. Each day brings fresh challenges that we triumph over, and all successes should be celebrated!

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This is why we do what we do here at SimplyHome. We’ve all known, loved, and/or cared for someone with Alzheimer’s. We’ve been in the trenches, we’ve offered the respite, we’ve advocated for better research. Professionally, we assess situations regularly that involve elopement/wandering issues, cooking safety, and sleep routines. Family members want to be notified if mom gets up in the middle of the night, thinking it’s time to get the kids up for school and starts cooking breakfast. Maybe breakfast is soon forgotten and before you know it, it’s 3:00am and the kitchen is full of smoke because a pot’s been left on the burner way too long. Maybe mom walked out of the house at 3:00am to walk the kids to the bus stop and she is found 5 blocks away in her nightgown. We know because we’ve been there.

For the third year in a row, SimplyHome will have a team in our local Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraiser. We’re passionate about this cause and want to share that passion with our community. Funds raised go to support services and research to hopefully find a cure some day. Join us! Be a virtual walker with us or start a team in your community today. If you’d rather support the cause in other ways, check with your local chapter about volunteering, advocating, or make a donation. Any and all efforts make a difference in the lives of those affected by the disease. Can we count on you to join us?

This piece was written by Gabrielle Corey, our team leader and SimplyHome’s Customer Service Manager.

10 Ways Technology Could Change Aging

The Huffington Post has put out a list of ways technology is changing how we age and we could not agree more. From online medical records to LED lights showing up everywhere, we agree that technology is making it easier for people to age. Along with Skyping your doctor and having online medical records, SimplyHome believes that technology can give you a renewed sense of freedom as you age in place. Take a look at the 10 Ways Technology Could Change Aging and keep in mind that the SimplyHome System might should be number 11!

TECHNOLOGY AGING

10 Ways Technology Could Change Aging In The Next 10 Years

Technology is changing everything, including how we will age and the quality of our senior years. Mobile devices, wearable gadgets, and Internet-based technologies will help older adults age in place while monitoring their health and safety. As The Huffington Post celebrates its tenth anniversary, we’ve decided to take a look at the 10 things we expect to see in our technological futures.

1. Talking street signs.
Night driving is a real bugaboo for seniors. Our vision weakens as we age and eventually we reach the point where we don’t trust our ability to find places once the sun sets. GPS systems have given us a little more confidence that we won’t get lost, but what would really be terrific would be talking street signs that announce themselves via our Bluetooth as we approach.

2. Cars that drive themselves.

We know this is just around the corner, so to speak. We’d be happy just to have cars that parallel park themselves.. Automotive technology is working towards making us all safer drivers, but for seniors, there’s an even keener interest: It could easily help keep them safe on the road longer. The ability to drive, many believe, is at the core of independence. Cars of the future will be able to recognize unsafe driving conditions or when the driver isn’t paying attention and make automatic adjustments to steer the vehicle away from a potential accident.

3. The doctor will see you now — on Skype.
Video-call doctors’ visits have already been a boon to those who live in rural areas. Expect that the trend towards more telemedicine will continue. One day we’ll be saying “Remember when we used to have to go into an office to see the doctor?” just like we now say “Remember when doctors used to make house calls?”

4. Remote patient monitoring.
Patients can already check their glucose levels and download the results to their doctors. Watch for the expansion of point-of-care monitoring devices, such as weight scales, heart and blood pressure monitors that send your readings directly to the doctor. In many cases, these devices obviate the need to visit the doctor’s office. Many of the routine services that doctors traditionally have provided in their office are changing. Pharmacies already offer a lower cost way of getting your blood pressure checked and your annual flu shot. Not going to see the doctor also means no co-pays.

Take a look at the last 6 ways technology is changing the way we age here.

For Today’s Retirees, There’s No Place Like Home

Aging in place is an ever growing idea throughout the baby boomer generation. As Dorothy said, “there is not place like home.” This rings true for people of all ages, but baby boomers are clinging tight to this thought.

See what people are saying about aging in place in this article by USA Today and Newsmax.

For Today’s Retirees, There’s No Place Like Home

(photo: Thinkstock)

(photo: Thinkstock)

American retirees these days are gravitating toward the notion of staying put and “aging in place” rather than moving to sunnier climes, new data show.

USA Today reported an AARP study found the overwhelming majority of people 50 years of age and over want to remain in their home and community “for as long as possible.”

Separately, a Merrill Lynch/Age Wave survey concluded 65 percent of retirees say they are living in the best homes of their lives right where they are.

“There is something deeply nourishing about our homes, and people become increasingly appreciative of that emotional connection as they get older,” says gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave. “It’s a rich emotional nest.”

Many retirees want to remain in their home “because they are most comfortable with what is most familiar,” psychologist Mary Languirand, co-author of How to Age in Place, told USA Today. “People are going to do whatever they can to maintain that sense of comfort. That is the ideal place in a lot of people’s minds.”

The Merrill Lynch/Age Wave survey concluded a majority – 58 percent – are interested in new technologies such as cleaning robots, 80 percent are interested in tech-enabled efficiencies such as smart thermostats and 76 percent are interested in technologies to maintain their health, such as sensors, alerts and air purification devices.

Dychtwald says 52 percent of people over the age of 75 live alone.

“Technology can help people keep an eye on mom or dad,” he said. “The good news is that all of these breakthroughs are on the drawing board or already available, but they are waiting for the market to take more full advantage of them.”

USA Today noted AARP offers a guide aimed at helping consumers stay in their homes as long as possible.

The guide offers tips and suggesting ranging from simple do-it-yourself fixes to more expensive improvements, and also includes worksheets.

See the original article about what people are saying about aging in place here.

Early Detection Screen for Dementia

The National Task Group (NTG), involving SimplyHome’s Cameron Kempson, has unveiled a screening for people with intellectual developmental disabilities who are at risk for dementia. Summer 2012, the NTG piloted the test with seven sites completing an evaluations of the instrument.

The Early Detection Screen for Dementia is now available as an interactive PDF form. The answers can be recorded on the electronic version of the PDF and then saved electronically. The NTG wanted to promote an easy-to-use method of reliably screening and detecting dementia. They wanted the screening to be usable by paid professionals as well as caretakers. Minimal orientation or training is needed in order to conduct the test and it is easy to track changes over time.

The NTG-EDSD is also being used to identify dementia-like symptoms in people whose function and behavior may be caused by other health issues including medication interactions, depression, etc. Using the NTG-EDSD, caregivers are able to record and track changes over time in areas such as cognitive functioning and ability to adapt to new environments and experiences. While this is not something that is used to diagnose dementia, it is helpful to use as a conversation starter with other family members, caregivers and medical professionals.