Help me, please; I’m a caregiver

Being a caregiver for an aging loved one can be tough. It can drain you physically, emotionally and mentally, but you do not have to do it alone. With the help of your community and assistive technology, it is a task that turns into something that does not have to be overwhelming, but will actually allow you to see your loved one without thinking about the bills that are piling up on the table or the fact that you are having to do this all alone because you are too stubborn to ask for the help of those around you.

Take a look at what one overwhelmed and, self admitting, stubborn caregiver has to say about community and asking for help

Help me, please; I’m a caregiver

By Nell Noonan
This story was originally published in Interpreter Magazine.

Why, oh, why do caregivers think they have to do everything by themselves? Is it our rugged American individualism or some kind of arrogant stoicism and pride that makes us believe our journey as caregivers must be a solo venture?

According to November 2012 statistics from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, I am one of 65.7 million unpaid caregivers for family or friends in the United States. I imagine that the majority, like me, have a hard time asking for help.

I was well into the seven and a half years of my caregiving odyssey with my husband before I stopped saying, “No, thanks; we’re doing just fine.” Truthfully, I was sleep deprived, depressed, sad, stressed and heartsick. Year after year after year, I watched a truly good human being suffer in excruciating pain. I also had a torn rotator cuff and bad back from physically assisting my 220-pound husband from bed to lift chair to wheelchair.

View the rest of the article here

Meet Pearlie

Pearlie1Pearlie has lived in congregate care for most of her adult life.  With the assistance of the CLOUD Project in SC, Georgetown County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs was able to offer her the opportunity to have her first home.  In July 2014, Pearlie moved in an apartment on her own and maintains her independence with supports from door and window sensors and a stove sensor.

Each day after Pearlie comes home from work, she likes to iron her clothes for the next day and cook her dinner.  Her direct care staff recognized that Pearlie is capable of preparing meals with minimal support, but they wanted to ensure that stove safety did not become an issue.  Currently,  a SimplyHome sensor alerts the staff if Pearlie has left the stove on too long or if she turns on the stove during night hours.  Their goal is to use the data from the sensor to support their care management with the hope of eventually using local announcements to cue Pearlie to monitor stove safety on her own.Pearlie2

Fend off Dementia and Make New Friends!

Check out what AARP has to say about fending off dementia and making new friends!

Friends Posing for Photograph

http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-07-2013/make-friends-boost-brain-health-photos.html?cmp=NLC-RSS-DSO-CTRL-061614-P1_H1-361836#slide1

Better Business Bureau warns about scams for seniors

With parents or loved ones aging, there is a lot to think about. How much longer will they be able to live on their own? Do we/they have the means to sustain themselves living where they are? Are they safe at home? These are just a few of the things caregivers worry about, among others. 

The Better Business Bureau recently published a piece about elders being scammed. The BBB continues to get calls about seniors receiving unsolicited calls requesting personal information including Medicare/Medicaid or Social Security information.

Seniors are likely to be receiving these calls because they are more vulnerable and  likely having memories that are not as sharp as they once were, making them perfect candidates for scammers.

Take a look at what Sharane Gott has to say about being aware of Medicare/Medicaid scams.

 

Better Business Bureau warns elderly to beware Medicare/Medicaid scams

By: SHARANE GOTT

Better Business Bureau is alerting elderly and disabled individuals to beware of unsolicited phone calls from unscrupulous people looking to obtain Medicare or Medicaid information.

In the last few weeks, BBB has received numerous phone calls from residents reporting they received phone calls, supposedly from federal agencies, medic alert businesses or medical supply companies working with the government.

These people are asking for personal information such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers in order to provide free services such as medic alert alarms, back braces, and other products that assist the elderly and infirm and are paid for by Medicare and Medicaid.

Elderly consumers may be given any number of excuses to provide this information. Reasons used to further the scam include:

  • The resident is part of a corporate or government survey
  • They are eligible to receive free products if they give the information
  • They must provide the information to sign up for a new prescription drug plan.
  • Residents are eligible for a free medic alert service if they provide the information.

Some scammers also claim that they are from the government and are calling to update information or confirming Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security numbers in order to issue a new card.

Read the rest of the article here

Could’ve Should’ve Would’ve: Aging in Place

Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. How many times a week do we say that? Most of the time it is something like “Could’ve packed my suitcase a little better” or maybe “I would’ve done that sooner if I had just known (insert mistake here).” 

Stephanie Borden is trying to use her could’ve, would’ve should’ve moment to help others.  She wished she would’ve known about aging in place before her mom passed. Borden is sure that her mom would have been happier and she would have felt more comfortable about how her mom was aging.

Like most children of aging parents, Stephanie wanted what was best for her mom; she simply did not know all of the options. Along with people similar to Stephanie, SimplyHome is committed to letting people know all of the options they have before they feel stuck into what has always been; nursing homes and skilled living facilities. Aging in place has proven beneficial for thousands of families and aging in place with technology continues to prove fruitful for our clients.

 

Take a look at what Stephanie has to say in her article “Consider aging-in-plcae as one of many choices.”

Consider aging-in-place as one of many choices

Stephanie Borden

Now that I know better, I can help others do better. Still, I wish I had known about aging-in-place 15 years ago when my modest 75-year-old Minnesota mother fainted on her kitchen floor.

When she came to and called 911, she refused to get into the ambulance until she could put on her pantyhose. On the way to the hospital, her heart stopped twice. After she was stabilized in the emergency room 1 thousand miles away, my phone rang. It was her doctor, with this strict advice: “Your mother can never live alone again.”

My sister, brother, and I flew to her with only one option in mind: Find the best assisted-living facility she could afford. Because we didn’t know about aging-in-place, there was no exploration of how we could arrange for in-home health care services and make some minor home modifications that would have allowed her to stay in the cherished home and familiar neighborhood where we grew up.

Click here to view the rest of the article

SimplyHome signs The Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access Declaration

As a company that works to provide dignified solutions for independent living, SimplyHome has endorsed and stands by The Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access Declaration. This is a document that expresses commitment to the equal rights of people with cognitive disabilities to technology and information access.

Cognitive disabilities include intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, severe and persistent mental illness, brain injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. A majority of people with cognitive disabilities do not have much, if any, access to comprehensive information and technology used for communication.

The Declaration encourages “Ensuring access to technology and information for the 28 million people with cognitive disabilities in the United States will create new markets and employment opportunities; decrease dependency on public services; reduce healthcare costs; and improve the independence, productivity, and quality of life of people with cognitive disabilities.”

With our clients as our first priority, we stand by the declaration in an effort to provide the most innovative solutions for people to be able to communicate and access information in ways that they have not been able to before. Enabling our clients to stay at home for as long as possible and providing peace of mind for caretakers, we are committed to continue to create the most personalized ways for people to access information and communicate.

An example of how we continue to do this is Zachary Winstead. Zachary, 14, has access to technology through the North Carolina Innovations Waiver and has been able to experience life in a new, more advanced way with the help of SimplyHome’s environmental control system. Through his iPad, Zachary can open and close doors, control the lighting as well as the television with a simple slide of a finger. This has allowed a new independence for him as well as for his mother who is the primary caretaker of three children, two of which have special needs.

“We are committed to helping families like the Winsteads find new solutions and new outcomes for everyday tasks that are unique to each situation. That is important to us and is stated wonderfully through the Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access Declaration,” said Allen Ray, SimplyHome CEO.

A second example of SimplyHome’s commitment to providing technology to all people is the partnership with Eblen Charities in order to provide refurbished systems to those who need our technology but may not have the funds to purchase it. It is crucial that all people have the opportunity to access technology that will ease their living and create a new sense of freedom for not only the individual who needs it, but also for their caretakers.

By signing the Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access Declaration, SimplyHome has confirmed “the commitment to equal rights of people with cognitive disabilities to technology and information access and we call for implementations of these rights with deliberate speed. “

 

Click here to check out a video about why this Declaration is important

Click here to endorse this Declaration.

Drue Ray’s Asheville Chamber of Commerce Award

Take a look at this wonderful video about Drue, her hard work and how deserving she is of winning the 2014 Entrepreneurs Best in Business Award.  Congratulations Drue and thank you for all you do!
drue


Stay active and keep family close

The best advice John Haaga, senior official at the National Institute on Aging, has is “Take a lot of long walks and have a lot of daughters and daughters-in-law.”

It is no secret that family and staying active is valuable at any age, but these two things become particularly important as we age. This article lays out facts and figures as far as what it looks like to have a family member in a nursing home. We want to help you prevent those rising costs of nursing homes and assisted living facilities through having technology in your loved one’s home.

Check out what else Jim Landers of the Dallas News has to say about aging in place, living independently and what it looks like to have a loved one who is aging in this economy.

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WASHINGTON — John Haaga, a senior official at the National Institute on Aging, offers a disquieting thought for baby boomers heading into their later years.

“The best advice we can give people for old age is ‘Take a lot of long walks and have a lot of daughters and daughters-in-law.’”

Unless a retiring couple has hundreds of thousands of dollars saved for health care, exercise and family caregivers could be vitally important.

A new report from the Institute on Aging, “65+ in the United States: 2010” (census. gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p23-212.pdf), estimates a couple retiring in 2010 needed $190,000 for out-of-pocket care. If one of them needs nursing home care, it took $260,000 in savings. This is money required to pay bills that exceed the health coverage of Medicare.

Many Americans heading into old age don’t have that kind of money.

Read the full article here.

5 Things You Need To Age in Place

The phrase “aging in place” has taken the baby boomers by storm. This phrase is so popular right now because people want live independently, where they are. People want to grow older in their own place; in their own home. For some, this is no problem. For others, it may take more preparation and thought. It is our hope that these tools will provide a better understanding as to what aging in place means and how it is possible in most situations.

 

Family_blog1. Having a sense of community is important regardless of age.

As people age, a sense of community becomes more and more important. It may be true that “it takes a village to raise a child,” but, it also takes a community to age in place. Community can mean a slew of different things.

Whether it is community with family that lives close, community through church, community through long time friends, community through a card group or community through home care providers, community is crucial. Social interaction among people and friends is one of the main factors for being able to age in place.

Community could include Meals on Wheels, church groups, and other community groups.

 

granny_lifts_weights

 2. Time and time again it is proven that staying mentally and physically active are two of the top ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases often developed by aging individuals.

“Use it or lose it” has never been more true. Doing puzzles, basic stretching, reading or walking are just a few examples of ways to get the blood pumping, keep the brain active. Active aging is a surefire way to keep chronic diseases at bay and stay independent for longer.

Here is a great article on how and why you should start exercising.

The AARP Website has dozens of games to keep your brain active and healthy.

 

Fruits-and-veggies3. Mom was right; “eat your fruits and veggies!”

This tidbit of advice does not become outdated as people age. Actually, it is crucial advice to follow. Keeping your plate full of colorful, whole foods will help you get the necessary vitamins and minerals that assists in keeping the memory active that encourages healthy blood flow and that regulates the level of sugar and cholesterol in the blood. Watching and enjoying what you eat will improve your overall health and make aging in place more feasible.

The intake of Vitamin C and beta-carotene is especially important. These two antioxidants help fend off blindness, keep skin healthy, protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. These antioxidants can be found in carrots, broccoli, citrus fruits, kale, onions, peppers and other fruits and vegetables.

Examples of healthy meals can be found here.

This is another great resource with basic steps to eating healthfully.

 

telehealth24.New technology coming out all the time. Some of these technologies can help keep you at home and create peace of mind for caretakers.

Though technology can be new, different and appear intimidating, especially for the aging population.  Technology is often less expensive than assisted living and allows families to stay at home longer.

Technology can include medication dispensers, a personal emergency response system, and telehealth equipment as well as bed pads and stove sensors.  These technologies can be viewed here.

 

mother_daughter5. Discussing some end of life topics is often uncomfortable, but is very necessary.

Having a living will and a power of attorney is hard to think about when an individual is well, but it becomes a scramble if the individual’s health begins to decline.  This conversation may be awkward and uncomfortable for all parties, but will prove fruitful when and if the time comes.

A serious talk between the individual and the caretaker(s) about accounts, lifestyle, and potential transitions is imperative. It is important that both parties know the desires of the other and though all wishes may not be able to be accommodated, everything will be on the table and out in the open.  There are community and online resources available to facilitate these conversations.  Some of those resources include Council on Aging and Elder Care.

Four Tips on Medication Safety

The American Society on Aging recently published an article about medication safety tips for older adults. These tips are great to keep in mind when taking medication.

The ASA’s first tip is “Take Medicine as PrescribeMedReadyd.” This can be done with the traditional seven day pill organizer, setting an alarm on an alarm clock or cell phone or it can be done by the medication dispenser that SimplyHome offers. With the medication dispenser, there are 28 slots for medicine. If the individual needs to take medicine multiple times per day, that is possible by setting up to four alarms per day. If the individual needs to take a certain medication only once a day, the person who fills the medication dispenser would only put that pill in the slot for the desired time. This would eliminate confusion as to whether the pill had been taken yet and would guarantee that the medication would be taken at the same time each day. By not having a medication dispenser, individuals run the risk of forgetting to take medication or taking medication more than prescribed on account of forgetting whether or not medication has been taken.

“Keep a Medication List” is the second tip by ASA. This is helpful even when having a medication dispenser. This will ensure that the person filling the slots has an accurate read and count on what needs to go in each slot when it is time to refill the dispenser.

The third tip on the list is “Be Aware of Potential Interactions.” This is something to discuss with a doctor. This could result in a dangerous situation but can easily be prevented by having a conversation with any and all of the individual’s doctors.

“Review Medications with Health Care Provider” is the fourth piece of advice given. In the same conversation with the doctors about interactions of different drugs it is also imperative that budget and needs are discussed. Being open and honest about what the individual’s priorities are is crucial.

The use of SimplyHome’s medication dispenser also combats the possibility of overdosing on medicines or taking medicines at unconventional times. The dispenser ensures that the individual is taking the proper medication at the proper time. Medication dispensers have the capability of a local announcement which can be a buzzer and/or a flashing light, an automated text and e-mail alert or access to a call center that would act as a reminder to take the medication.

http://asaging.org/blog/four-medication-safety-tips-older-adults

Take a look at our medication dispenser here!