Defining the ‘F” word

We are all guilty of using the ‘F’ word, but for some reason those who are taking care of loved ones have more hiding behind that word than the rest of us. It is so easy to revert back to the ‘F’ word, but it might be time to express how you actually feel. Whether you are caring for an aging parent, a child with developmental disability or another loved one, it is time to take care of yourself and understand your own emotions. Find out what the ‘F’ word is and how to avoid burn out as a caregiver below.

Defining the ‘F’ word

Karyna Matsyuk / Richmond News

I’m going to talk about a word I hear most often from family caregivers. It is the F word — “fine.”

But let’s start with defining the words “family caregiver.” I define family caregiver as a family member who has an elderly relative. The degree of involvement in care may range from providing personal care to making a few phone calls a week to check on the elderly, and everything in between. Wherever you are on this continuum, you are a family caregiver and you are carrying a heavy load whether you realize it or not.

However, when asked “How are you doing?” caregivers often use that “F” word. Many caregivers minimize what they do and are truly convinced that it is “nothing.” In fact, caregivers always think they could be doing more. Caregivers completely neglect themselves. They think they will be just … fine. And they carry on like this. Until they collapse.

Caregiver burnout is real and it is serious. Carrying a heavy load will always have its consequences. Those may show up in the form of health problems, work problems, or you may notice that your relationship with your elders is suffering.

The good news is your energy and patience are renewable.

See the rest of the article here

Siblings of special-needs children: They are their brother’s keeper

Often times the parents of children are mentioned. While parents probably play the biggest role in the life of a child with special needs, there is another big time player in their life: their siblings. Brothers and sisters of a child with special needs play a special role in that they are closer to their age and understand some of the struggles of growing up in a way that is different than the parent may view the child’s life. Siblings are typically the ones who go to school and experience life together. This being the case, having a sibling with special needs heightens a child’s sense of empathy and compassion in a way that other children may not understand.  Check out this article highlighting the siblings of special needs kids. 

Siblings of special-needs children: They are their brother’s keeper

It’s a funny dichotomy.
Parents of special-needs children are often recognized and lauded for their unflagging service to their children. Yet, the non-disabled siblings of the same families can go unnoticed.

It’s tempting to look at the challenges of such a family and conclude that having a sibling with a disability is a damaging burden — one which can marginalize and embitter the brothers or sisters of a child with special needs. We might feel it is a tragedy
not only for the child with special needs, but also for the siblings.

It isn’t the case, though.

In my family, which includes two boys who have multiple disabilities as well as two typical boys, I’ve seen the opposite. The same is true in the myriad families I know who had both disabled and non-disabled children.

Siblings of a special-needs kid are the lucky ones, because they grow into people who understand selflessness.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 4.01.05 PMThey learn at a tender age to serve and have endless opportunities to offer unending service at home.

My eldest son has never known anything different. At age 6, he started washing his own hair in the bath before instinctively reaching over to wash his 4-year-old brother’s hair as well. In the car, he buckled his little brother’s seatbelt automatically before buckling his own. Now as a middle-schooler, he picks up the toddler when the 10-year-old starts violently rampaging. He calmly talks to the 6-year-old, whose anxiety can spin out of control. He watches over his younger brothers with gentleness.

Read the rest of the article here.

Give Technology A Try

With 97% of seniors wanting to reside in their own home for as long as possible, it is crucial that proper steps are taken in order for that to happen. Though this is a desire for almost the entire aging population, less than half of them have done research in order to find ways to make this dream a reality. On account of the lack of research done, it often does not turn out favoring the aging. Often families turn to traditional ways of caring for the aging; that being assisted living or nursing home.

Though the traditional route is not a bad option, it is often not what the person it is affecting the most wanted. It does, however, make sense as to why people would want their aging parents to be in a facility that is assisted living or a nursing home. They take a sigh of relief because they are assured that their loved one is getting the care they need. However, not all people thrive in such an environment. Often, the person does not want to be in a place like that, but would rather prefer to be at home where they are comfortable.

Technology for aging is often overlooked on account of lack of knowledge and the fear of being watched over all the time. Trying something new can be intimidating, but in the case of assistive technology, it almost always proves fruitful.  No matter if the technology is needed for medication monitoring cooking safety such as a stove or oven monitor or if it is a bit more extensive like a system that monitors daily living sequences, there are options that are totally user friendly and provide personalized outcomes.

Knowing that is only step one. Step two is doing some research on what you or your loved one actually needs. Are you afraid of falling and not having the ability to call someone? Are you worried about taking medicine on time? Is wandering of concern? With the help of family and professionals, it is crucial to decide what your priorities look like.

Step three is giving it a try. Technology can be for everyone just so long as everyone is on board with it. Often is it a challenge if not everyone is committed to the technology because then it either goes unused or is misused in which case it is not assistive technology because it loses its assistive aspect.

Be encouraged that this technology is not in an effort to be “Big Brother,” but rather to be an attentive caretaker, even from a distance.

Former First Lady Discusses Aging



Listen to what Former First Lady Laura Bush has to say about aging gracefully, her worries of aging and what she is doing to keep her mind sharp.

HomeWatch Caregivers and SimplyHome: Partnering to provide best care

Assistive technology is available in order to enhance the home care experience, not to replace it. SimplyHome collaborates with HomeWatch Caregivers to ensure that people are receiving the best possible care. Our technology is allowing the caregiver to focus on what is important, the individual, while relying on the technology to tell them when someone has missed a dosage of medicine or if someone has fallen in the bathroom. Our technology allows agencies to cut costs for families during those “just in case” hours. HomeWatch Caregivers’ passion to create an innovative, all inclusive way of caring for someone excites us!

The Technology & Home Care Connection;A Collaborative Approach to Aging in Place between SimplyHome and HomeWatch CareGivers WNC

The vision of HomeWatch CareGivers WNC is to become recognized as a community leader in integrative and innovative in-home personal care and client wellness services. We are committed to community collaboration and partnerships as the most practical and affordable way to solve the complex issues facing our rapidly growing population of seniors.

We are proud to announce our newest collaboration with a wonderfully creative company, SimplyHome, located here in Asheville. SimplyHome provides affordable and dignified options for independent living and aging in place by developing assistive technology that is adaptable as individual needs change over time. Some of their products include the SimplyHome System, which proactively alerts caregivers and loved ones of changes in activities of daily living, personal emergency response systems (PERS), medication dispensers, and a GPS Watch. SimplyHome designs, builds and utilizes enabling technologies to create customized independent living solutions while lowering costs for families and funders.

When one studies the demographics of our area, it is clear that new approaches are needed to help our seniors age in place at home. Also elders who are living at home longer often present with a more complex array of medical and mental health conditions. This presents a multitude of challenges, including offering affordable models of care.

According to a recent Time Magazine article, ‘By 2032, Americans over age 65 will outnumber those under age 15, which means that elders will be short on caregivers. Nearly 90% of those over age 65 say they want to remain at home as long as possible.’

‘Research firm ABI forecasts 42 million wearable fitness and health devices will be shipped in 2014, up from 32 million in 2013. Doctors and researchers see…a revolution that could change everything from how they care for recovering surgery patients to the way they administer certain medications. Tracking devices may … ultimately change the way we relate to our own health.’ Time Magazine Nov 24 2014.

Professional in-home caregivers can prevent injurious falls, infections and hospitalizations and can contribute to faster recoveries from surgery and medical procedures. Additionally, a compassionate and skilled caregiver can provide companionship, personal care and community connection, which helps elders stay fit physically, emotionally and spiritually, alleviating feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression while also protecting them from potential victimization.

Where in home safety monitoring is needed and connected with a 24 hour call center, it is possible to have part time home care and full time peace of mind. In a unique service delivery approach, especially for those individuals who do not have family or loved ones nearby, HomeWatch CareGivers can be designated as the first response point person for those situations where immediate help is needed.

The founders of SimplyHome, Drue and Allen Ray and their staff have been creating supportive technology solutions for elders as well as individuals with disabilities since 1989. Their compassion, dedication, professionalism and level of expertise is evident as soon as one meets them.

Allen Ray, CEO and President, is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. He is an advisory board member to the college of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Alabama and an advisor to several states on the use and funding of enabling technology through Medicaid waivers. Drue Ray, Vice President, was the 2014 recipient of the Asheville area Chamber of Commerce 2014 Women Entrepreneurs Best in Business Award. Drue’s commitment and vision have inspired others and contributed to legislation that has set the standard for the use of assistive technology in community integrated residential services.

“Understanding that complex problems call for innovative solutions, we recognized that by combining SimplyHome technology with HomeWatch CareGivers visits, we can provide the greatest level of care at the most affordable total cost. It became a natural fit to enter into a collaborative relationship with SimplyHome. We are proud to work with Drue and Allen Ray and their SimplyHome team to offer creative options to keep our most vulnerable citizens safe at home”, stated Ernie Konkoli, President, HomeWatch CareGivers. HomeWatch CareGivers and SimplyHome are always available to conduct a free needs assessment and develop an integrated and client customized plan that will provide optimal support in the most cost effective manner.

Innovation Has Nothing To Do With Age

Drue Ray, VP of SimplyHome, is passionate about independent living.

She says, “I have shared with you all my belief that disabilities shouldn’t preclude independence. But, in reading this article, it helped me understand why, even though I believed this since the rip ole age of 13, it took an additional 30 years to begin to understand how this could be accomplished. Makes the work we do together all the more exciting when I look at our collective potential!!”

Take a look at the article that helped her understand how independence can be accomplished and why innovation really does not have anything to do with age.

Innovation Has Nothing to Do With Age
Mar 9, 2015

A lot of people assume that establishing a culture of innovation would require bringing in young people. They are wrong. Innovation has nothing to do with age.I was delighted to read this statement of John Levis, global chief Innovation officer of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, in the Wall Street Journal last week, which really supports my own view and experience in practice.

Lewis states: “We get out-of-the box ideas from all generations. What was important was convincing others that it’s OK to risk failure, that trying out new ideas that fail is even a positive. As I said earlier, for an organization to have a culture of innovation, the talent and performance model should not only tolerate experimentation and failure, but also reward those who advance innovative thinking, regardless of the outcome”.

The view that innovation has nothing to do with age is supported by research of Benjamin Jones of Northwestern University. He states that a 55-year-old and even a 65-year-old have significantly more innovation potential than a 25-year-old. He based his conclusions on data on Nobel Prize winners and great inventors.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I am 55 and have been working for around 30 years now. When I reflect on my personal skills of being innovative and leading innovation, I think I even became a better innovator when growing older, for three reasons:

1. I had to learn the patterns before breaking them. As junior manager in the food industry I was very eager to learn at the companies I worked for. I learned what made them successful in the past. And to be effective, I adapted myself to “how things are done around here”. Only as I got older I dared to challenge and break these patterns at the companies I worked for.

2. I learned from my failures. Breaking patterns wasn’t always successful of course. I learned continously from my mistakes though. This created a far better business compass of what will work and what will not. Of course I am still wrong, but less than I used to be :-).

3. Grey hair helps convincing. In organizations you can invent alone but you can’t innovate alone. You need a lot of others in an organization to get from an idea to the market. And it takes an awful lot of time too. Getting older and growing grey hair helped me in getting the confidence of others to follow me and my innovative method.
So what about you? Are you getting also a better innovator with age?

See original article here.

An Oasis of Care for People With Intellectual Disabilities

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A mother needs to get her son out the door. Thick white socks cover his contorted feet, a coat drapes his twisted shoulders, a water bottle with a straw nestles in the concave of his chest, and black straps on his wheelchair secure his wrists. He is 33 years old, and she has to get him to an appointment.

“I always forget something,” the mother, Mimi Kramer, says, looking about her small, immaculate house. “Oh. A change of pants, just in case.”

Her son, Trey, has intellectual disability, autism and cerebral palsy. He was a joy as a child, she says, but with puberty came violent acts of frustration: biting himself until he bleeds, raging against sounds as faint as a fork scrape on a plate, lashing out with his muscular right arm. He nearly bit her finger off one Kentucky Derby Day when she tried to swipe away foam that he had gnawed from his wheelchair’s armrest.

Trey Kramer during a physical therapy session at the Lee Specialty Clinic in Louisville, Ky., which provides treatments to people with intellectual disability. Credit Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

“But he’ll also definitely make you smile when he’s happy,” says Ms. Kramer, 52, a slight, divorced woman who has raised her son mostly alone. “His smile will light up the room.”

Continue reading the main story

The Power of Music

This Device Triggers Memories In Alzheimer’s Patients By Playing Music They Remember

Playing a song from the past won’t make it easier for patients to remember individuals, but it will cut down on stress.

In patients with Alzheimer’s disease, songs from the past can have an almost magical ability to trigger memories—even when someone previously couldn’t recognize family members or even have a conversation.

Inspired by research that proves the effects of music therapy on memory, a group of design students created a concept for a new mp3 player that can help patients remember who they are and reconnect with the world.

When someone walks into the room, the player, called Remind, can play what the designers call a “recognition” song. “If someone does not recognize a family member nor remember their relationship to them, the idea is to try using a song or a familiar sound when a face is not enough,” says Emily Keller, one of a group of four designers from Sweden’s Umea Institute of Design who worked on the project.

Read more about this device or watch this short clip to see how it works.

This Device Triggers Memories In Alzheimer's Patients By Playing Music They Remember5.38 PM


Respecting The Traditions of the Elderly

With the holidays quickly approaching, family plans are likely being finalized. Considering the needs of those who are aging is important when determining where, when and with whom to spend the holidays. Thinking about things such as driving in the dark, the lighting inside and outside of a home, and background noise, among other factors are important in weighing where to hold celebrations this year. Often times older family members will  not want people to go to the trouble of accommodating them, but are extraordinarily grateful when the environment is comfortable and compliant to an individual’s needs.

Take a look at recommendations by Madison Park Times for holding celebrations for your aging family members this holiday season. 

SimplyHome Christmas Tradition


Aging in Place During the Holidays and Beyond

As the baby boomers age and their children become more aware of mobility and independence hindrances, it is vital for them to remember that aging in place is an option. Though traditions may shift, the ability for still celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas at Grandma’s is still there. Stephanie Borden talks more about aging in place and celebrating with loved ones during the holidays. Borden also discusses what happens after the holidays are over and how to continue to live at home.

Through minor home alterations and the addition of assistive technology, aging in place is feasible and affordable. Learning and understanding what is necessary in order to age at home is important, and resources such as the article below, SimplyHome’s toolbox to Age in Place, as well as, other articles and materials on our blog and other websites is a great place to start.

You can stay home for the holidays and beyond

Written by: Stephanie Borden

Innovators and educators in the aging-in-place field have saved countless retirees from having to sell their homes.

Our most treasured family holidays are only a page or two away on the calendar. For most of us, that means the whole family comes together in our homes to share memorable traditions.

Sadly, the stress has already begun for many aging seniors who wonder if this will be the last holidays in their cherished homes when illness, injuries, or disabilities threaten their ability to continue living safely and independently at home.

I hear a 77-year-old wife telling her husband, “Let our son carve the turkey this year, so he doesn’t notice how you tremble.” Another couple plans to have all the family gifts wrapped at retail stores, because it’s just too painful now with their arthritis. A woman who tripped over her terrier, breaking her hip, says she will board the dog while her adult children visit, so they don’t pressure her to “get rid of it and move to assisted living.”

The common thread weaving all three of these stories together is our strong emotional connection to our homes and neighborhoods.

I am happy to report that help is available for most retirees to keep living in the homes they love, thanks to the national Aging-in-Place movement. This is the movement providing support for retirees to continue living safely for as long as possible in their private homes, despite challenges in mobility, dexterity, balance, hearing, vision, or cognition.

Read More on Aging in Place During the Holidays and Beyond