Tag Archives: independent living for seniors

Alone at Home: Aging in Place

Aging in Place

The senior age comes with its own challenges and concerns. Being alone and aging in place at this stage is difficult especially when you have no one from the family there to offer you at least emotional if not physical support. However, we must always see the good side of every living experience and find the way in which to ensure a joyful road through life. Being self-aware of your current conditions and always keen on ensuring proper health for yourself is the best thing that you can do when you are alone at home and may not receive any help. Knowledge is power and the more you know about your challenges and assets, the more planning you can do and hope for safety and wellness in your golden years. Knowledge is power and hope is everything.

Also, turning to professionals to offer you advice and proper care in your own home is another solution that you can consider when the situation requires it. Older people should never be ashamed or scared to ask for professional support from those who can help them do what they cannot do anymore or simply help them keep their health and overall lifestyle in good conditions.

Living Alone at Home: Receiving Support from Specialists or Friends

Certain seniors decide on their own to live alone at home whereas others do not have the possibly to receive care in specialized centers. However, they also have the possibility to receive support in the comfort of their own home when the situation requires it. They may have someone visiting them every day to check their health status and offer support and advice for a healthy life.

Also, they can also have someone check on them less often when their conditions do not require daily support to ensure a proper life. It is all according to their needs and requirements. However, constant support is usually recommended for seniors living alone in their home. Sometimes, even a good word can mean a lot for them.

When specialized help is not possible, such support can also be offered by senior friends. They have the same age, a similar perspective on life and they can offer each other what they need in terms of emotional and physical support. It is always better to share life with someone else than to be always alone. Intimacy and privacy are also important in their life because they still want to be independent and feel free every day.

However, as much as we all need friends and support from time to time, seniors should also rely on their friends and spend time together as often as they can so that they might not feel the lack of human contact and emotions in their life.

Survival at the Senior Age: Relying on Yourself and Others

The elderly stage of life does not necessarily have to mean lack of independence or the inability of taking care of yourself. If you have adopted a healthy lifestyle up until now you are probably more than capable of taking care of yourself. However, certain health issues or concerns are inevitable at every age. It is then that you must go to specialists and make sure you follow their recommendations in terms of medical treatments and general activities that might keep you in shape.

Moreover, sharing your current living conditions and experiences with other people going through the same stage is essential. You may be able to help your friends with something they cannot do and they might offer you support in what you need as well. Sharing is caring at every age. Just because you are older now and may not have family members there for you should never mean that you must be alone. Reach to those who understand you as well as to professionals who work with passion in the senior care industry to get what you need in life at this stage.

The Joy of Living Decently when You Are Older

Joy should never be left out of the equation of life no matter what age we are. The same way we enjoy life when we are young when pure joy and happiness are all we know, we can also include this feeling in our senior stage of life. Our colleague Francis Edward from Forest Health Care, recommends: “…Make the best of what you have available now and make sure you live a decent life no matter what the numbers show in terms of age…”  and we add to that, do not hesitate to ask help from experts in your area as needed.

 

Health care tools and technology- Helping seniors continue to live at home

BrCX0s0CEAEDAyaAfter talking for years about the need of a new paradigm helping seniors to age in place and the important role of healthcare tools and technology to help them continue to live at home, i welcomed with contentment the recommendations of our friend Edward Francis at Foresthc.com.

We have often stressed aging in place as the natural way of aging. Living in your own home for as long as possible is important to many people, especially to seniors. It is full of memories and is comfortable and familiar. This makes it very difficult to leave and, providing your health is adequate there is no reason to move. There are a variety of new tools available which will help any older person keep living comfortably in their home:

Medical alarms

A personal alarm is not a new idea! They have been fitted to homes or carried on your person for many years. If something happens you simply need to press the button for assistance. However, if you are unable to reach the button for any reason then the alarm is useless. Modern technology has now devised fall detection and incorporated it into these alarms.  Should you fall then the alarm will automatically summon assistance. It even has a GOS tracker built in to help the emergency services locate you.

Monitoring your meds

It can sometimes be difficult to remember to take your medication and this can often be the only reason that someone needs to move to a nursing home or an assisted living home. However, there is now a pill dispenser which sounds several alarms and even calls your cell phone to remind you to take your medication. Alongside this you can have sensors fitted to your botles which confirm when the pills were taken and how many. If you miss a dose then a message is sent out to your caregiver for them to follow up.

GPS shoes

Many older people love to walk and enjoy the fresh air. Unfortunately, the city you live in could be rapidly changing and, combined with an impaired cognitive function, you may find yourse
lf lost. A GPS tracker in your shoes will help other to know where you are and locate you, if necessary. This system works best if you set geographical boundaries and even time limits.

Home monitoring systems

Sensors placed around your home will allow your caregiver to build up a picture of your normal movements and any routines you have. The system can then be programmed with this information and any deviation to your usual activity will flag an alert with your caregiver and encourage them to investigate and confirm your health and safety. These sensors can also be used to detect if you have a fall or potentially an unknown illness as your patterns will change. They will even show if someone is in your home that is not you.

Apps

There are now apps available which will allow you to communicate with your caregiver, friends or family with just a few clicks. This can be a pre-set message which simply tells people that you are fine, or you can use a panic button which alerts everyone in a predetermined list that you need assistance. Other apps will also remind you to take your medication or can even direct you back to your home if you have lost your way. Among some of the most efficient, we must mention:

  • BloodPressue iBP
  • Pill Reminder Pro
  • Geriatric Depression Scale
  • Dragon Dictation

Remote monitoring

It is possible to get a wrist band which can track your vitals and connect to a smart phone. The information concerning your vitals can then be relayed to a doctor or caregiver. This will ensure you receive prompt help if needed and that you do not waste the doctor’s time or raise your stress levels by needing to visit a doctor. There is a wide range of items which can be monitored including, heart rate, blood glucose, steps taken, diet, and even time spent sleeping!

Many people are already active on at least one social media site and this can be an excellent way for them to stay in touch with another senior relative. Messages can be kept simple but will provide valuable reassurance, especially if you live a distance away from your family. Seniors can easily live comfortably in their own homes. However, because accidents might happen, it’s certainly a good idea for caregivers to keep an eye on their behavior even from a distance. Apps and monitoring devices are excellent tools. Most of them are quite affordable (some are even free), so it’s definitely a good thing that technology is finally starting to care for the elderly as well but always the high touch is needed to supplement the high tech to effectively help seniors age in place.

Aging in Place: Safety Tips for Your Kitchen

Aging in Place: Safety TipsBecause 90% of us do not want to leave our homes but to age in place, we need to pay attention to places like the kitchen that can be unsafe for us as we grow older. The kitchen is the heart of your home—and it’s also one of the most important spaces to remodel when it comes to aging in place. You’ll need to be able to make regular use of your kitchen, and the harder it is to access important appliances, locate your cookware, or even walk across the floor, the more dangerous it can be. Your kitchen can remain inviting and stylish while being loaded with accessibility features and convenience that will make it ideal for your senior years.

The Floor 

When it comes to your kitchen floor, you have to start with the floor plan. Make sure that it’s wheelchair accessible, with plenty of room to maneuver. Place cabinets conveniently, so that they’re close to the counters and stoves where they’ll be needed, but keep them out of the pathway so that it’s easy to move around them. Next, look at your food preparation areas. You’ll want to be sure that countertops are at the right height for use from a wheelchair. Adjustable countertops can make it easier for you to keep using them as usual until you need a wheelchair and make it more comfortable for others who might share in food preparation responsibilities.

Next, look at your seating. While you don’t want to clutter up your kitchen or make it impossible to get around, you do need to have readily-accessible seating to make food preparation easier. Make sure that you have comfortable, sturdy seats: you don’t want to have to rely on a bar stool if your legs get shaky! Leave plenty of room around the table for a wheelchair, but don’t skimp on comfortable seating, either. You can always move a chair away to make it more easily accessible later.

Your kitchen flooring is almost as important as the floor plan. First, accept that the cute rugs that you enjoyed in your earlier years are a thing of the past: they can lead to trips, slips, and falls. Next, begin your search for a kitchen floor that will be durable and slip-resistant while still looking great. Cork, rubber, and linoleum are all excellent choices for seniors, as are smaller tile that have more grout lines—see here for some ideas.

Lighting

 While aging eyes can be exceptionally sensitive to bright lights, you still want to be sure that you can see clearly enough to accomplish all the necessary tasks in your kitchen. Make the most of natural light: big windows that are free of curtains and blinds are ideal for the brightest possible room. Next, install ambient lighting that will illuminate the room at a comfortable level. A dimmer switch can help make it easier to reduce lighting if your eyes are feeling sensitive. You should, however, make sure there’s plenty of task lighting over the stove and in food preparation areas so that it will be easier to focus on your current task.

It’s also important to ensure that you’ll have the light you need when you’re navigating the room at night. Make sure that light switches are available at every entrance to the room. Consider installing motion sensors on the lights so that it will kick on automatically if you walk into the room in the middle of the night. If this is impractical, you can also put in nightlights to help provide some light if you’re just taking a quick trip to the kitchen.

Appliances 

The appliances you choose for your kitchen should reflect your changing needs as you get older. Your microwave, for example, should be simple to operate, with big, visible buttons that are easy to press. An electric stove with large dials and simple operating instructions is best, but if you do have a gas range, make sure that it has a pilot light and auto-shutoff feature. Your dishwasher should be positioned conveniently next to the sink. Consider installing one that’s higher off the ground to make it easier to load and unload as your mobility decreases. Senior-friendly sinks are shallow and easy to reach from a wheelchair. Choose a refrigerator that reflects your needs: large enough to hold several days of pre-prepped meals if necessary. Think about the layout of your refrigerator and where the doors will open as well as the shelves that will be accessible from a wheelchair.

Cabinets

 Organize your cabinets carefully so that they will remain fully accessible. Place items that you use most frequently in cabinets that are easiest to reach. Consider drawer pull-outs in cabinets that may be difficult to access from a wheelchair or as your mobility decreases. You should also make sure that your cabinets are shallow enough that you can easily reach to the back.

Accessories

 Knobs, switches, and faucets can be some of the most frustrating items in your kitchen when your fingers aren’t as nimble as they once were. Look for knobs that are large and easy to hold, switches that can be operated simply, and faucets that use one lever to switch between hot and cold to make it easier to adjust the water to the right temperature. Make sure that any labels on levers and switches are in clear, large fonts that you’ll be able to read even after your eyesight begins to decrease.

Your kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your home. You need to be able to prepare food, eat, and host guests with ease. Luckily, there are plenty of products on the market that are designed with an aging population’s needs in mind. Take the time to think through your future needs now to ensure that when the day comes, you have a kitchen that will allow you to maintain your independence and age in place, at home where you want to be.

Aging in Place: Assistive Technology and Human Touch to Solve the Caregiving Issue

Aging in PlaceWe all know those smart and dynamic elders, who used to be professionals, hard workers, homemakers, very engaged in their communities, who slowly but surely, are aging with aches and pains and diminishing faculties, with some times chronic and debilitating diseases rising in the horizon. We all try to help them to little (or no) avail, since the response is: “I do not need help …I am not moving from my home…I am not going to one of those places full of old people”… Does it sound familiar? If you have an elderly parent or loved one in need of care and help, I am sure you have.

Many studies since 2007 have focused on Aging in Place and what seniors and baby boomers want. Besides being in denial of needing help, elders fear moving into a nursing home and losing their independence more than they fear death, according to a study, “Aging in Place in America,” commissioned by Clarity and The EAR Foundation, which also found that the Baby Boomer children of seniors also fear for their parents. Boomers express particular concern about their parents’ emotional and physical well being should they have to enter a nursing home, finds the study, which examines the attitudes and anxieties of the nation’s elderly population. Although since 1997 AARP survey, we know (89%) of the interviewees answer they wanted to stay at home, and age in place – or live independently, but more than half of those surveyed (53%) are concerned with their ability to do so.

Some of the issues that force older adults out of their homes is not only illness and frailty but houses that do not accommodate their needs, isolation, and lack of support –we know our communities, sad to say, are not equipped with volunteerism enough to help some of these seniors or systems that protect not only the low income ones but the middle class, as well.

Projects like Capable in Baltimore, where volunteers come helping seniors run errands and reach the next community even that day while retrofitting their houses has proven to keep seniors at home longer. The project started as a major research effort in the Baltimore area called the CAPABLE project – it stands for Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders – is sending handymen, nurses and occupational therapists into the homes of hundreds of low-income seniors aging in place to see how far $4,000 can go in preserving people’s independence. The project’s initial success has captured nationwide media attention and piqued the interest of federal officials straining to hold down Medicaid costs. If it can be scaled up and tried nationwide, it could potentially save U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars. The average cost of nursing home care in the U.S. is $6,700 a month, much of it paid through Medicaid, so even postponing a move to a nursing facility by just a few months can have a major impact.

Another well known solution but difficult to implement, on one hand because seniors resistance to technology, and on another because of baby boomers not turning their parents into it, is Gero-technology that can lower the cost of home care when needed and/or help keep seniors independently but safely at home. Aging in a high tech world is not easy for these seniors but there are agencies and resources in the community to help them and their families navigate through the maze of options and what is really needed.

These technologies go from the safety ones to guarantee people are safe at home, and monitor their comes-and-goes, as needed without invasion, to the tablets to communicate with loved ones, receive medication reminders, or access services in the community. Organizations like Living Well use leading-edge technologies to evaluate their members’ health and mental status, reduce the cost of care, communicate medical and other information to physicians and relatives, provide cognitive vitality programming and monitor personal safety. When needed, they will evaluate the layout of the home and undertake modifications to ensure mobility, access, and security. In addition, our professional housekeeping and maintenance staff keep our members’ homes updated, clean, and impeccably maintained.

Just today, May 4, 2015 California Health launched a report discussing the caregiving issue and if really this technology involving social networking and technology will “…save the day for one of America’s most intractable social problems — caring for the country’s aging population? The article proposes a different way of hiring caregivers but still posits the issue of just having a caregiver. One size does not fit all and for some of our loved ones just low-tech or high tech intervention can save the day. Now if in need of home care, options are there with agencies as the article states charging more than what a privately hired caregiver could cost but no- back up, or services that will monitor the process for you, and more. Read the article.

In reality, the high tech and high touch is a better answer. It is not only technology but the human connection what makes a real answer: personal services and advanced assistive technology can add a strong measure of comfort, convenience and control to those that desire to remain at home but have conditions that may limit their ability to move freely, communicate effectively or otherwise navigate their environment. Together they can ensure and encourage those that desire to age in place the opportunity to do so with safety and choices for the seniors and peace of mind for family members and friends. Check all the options and remember one size-does-not-fit all.

Aging in Place versus Traditional Nursing Homes

Aging in PlaceShould a time arrive when you realize that you need help in continuing to provide a safe and joy-filled environment that ensures the physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of your elderly loved one, you have several choices; two of these include: moving your loved one into a nursing home or securing the professional services of an aging in place or  assisted-living-at-home agency. As an article in the NY Times affirms, both of these options include the presence of new people in the life of your loved one on a daily basis; however, how that service is provided and when it’s provided makes all the difference between the two.

There are perks for each senior care scenario, but what’s important is to make the decision that gives the best care to what your elderly loved one needs most. Do they have physical pain and are prone to serious injury? What is their state of mental health and what would help improve or comfort that? How much attention do they really need and how capable are they to still do things themselves? All these questions are just the surface of what needs to be asked to make the right decision.

Individualized Care, Attention, & Focus

A traditional nursing home is required to have one RN on staff 7 days a week for 8 hours a day; the rest of the time a licensed LPN or RN must be on duty; in addition, the nursing home must employ a registered nurse for the full-time role of Director of Nursing. According to Elder Law Answers, there is no minimum requirement for the number of nurses’ aides during a shift. Since the aides are the workers who provide most of the personal day-to-day care for the residents, it’s not impractical to think that each individual resident at a nursing home is being provided with hours of focused, one-to-one care and attention.  The article goes on to share, “The important factor in improving the quality of care is the amount of nurse time each patient receives. If a nursing home met only the federal nurse staffing requirements…a resident would receive 20 minutes of nurse time per day.”

Quite the opposite is true with an assisted-living-at-home service. With this option, you and your loved one decide how much one-to-one care is required or desired. If you’re comfortable having a professional nurse or caregiver visit for 2 hours once a week, that is doable; however, if you want a compassionate, attentive, highly-trained caregiver to be with your loved one 24/7, that’s also possible. In fact, it’s not uncommon to create an open room for a caregiving to live at the senior resident’s home and be there in order to care for them at any time for any circumstance. There’s much more flexibility with in-home assisted living and the one-on-one time desired for your loved one.

On the same note, traditional care can also be a temporary option for those seeking some form of physical rehabilitation. If your loved one has undergone surgeries or have suffered from a stroke, fall, or head injury, only temporary traditional care may be needed. Short-term care specialists and therapists at senior rehabilitation centers like St. Anthony Cares state that sometimes for certain situations, physical therapy and rehabilitation are also just as crucial to bring residents back to optimum health and prevent such accidents from recurring. In some cases, opting for short-term care solely for rehabilitation from injuries can be the type of care needed so long as the resident can fully recover.

If you find that your loved one is a specialty case that needs round the clock medical attention, perhaps opting for traditional home care with certified specialists around 24/7 is more suitable. Not everyone can afford a professional medical setup in their own home and so traditional homes can fill in that void. So depending on your elderly loved one’s needs, traditional assisted living in a home may be better suited in order to give them the medical attention they will need to live more comfortably.

Individual People, Individualized Services

A nursing home environment has a set schedule for their meals, snacks, time to get dressed and out of bed, and activities. While at first this may seem appealing, the lack of flexibility often leads to nurses’ aides feeling rushed to get from room to room to ensure everyone is bathed and dressed – even when, perhaps, a resident feels like staying in bed for a few hours more. Further, if a resident misses a meal because he/she was visiting with family or dealing with a personal hygiene situation, it’s not uncommon for the person to go without the meal completely. The Ohio Department of Aging addresses this very real issue at nursing homes and advocates for de-institutionalizing nursing homes and transforming them into person-centered care facilities. Being on such a strict schedule can leave little room for the unexpected and patients not having a great day to begin with can be put in an even testier mood when forced to participate at times they don’t wish to. But don’t fret, not all traditional assisted living homes operate in this manner. If traditional senior homes are the route you and your elderly loved one are seeking, there are plenty of homes out available in most cities that offer much more flexible schedules and allow seniors to go about the property at their own leisure. Kitchens or cafeterias operate within certain hours or can postpone meals for particular residents that enjoy them later or earlier in the day. Snacks are on hand so long as the cafeteria is open and there are no set or mandatory activities or intermingling involved if the resident doesn’t want to participate.

With in-home assisted living, the resident is within their own property and are able to have their caregiver prepare meals or snacks whenever desired so long as it’s within their doctor’s recommended diet regimen. Each day can be different and the monotony of a daily routine doesn’t have to exist if the resident wants to do a different activity each day. Sleeping in isn’t an issue on days they are a little more tired than normal – there really isn’t a set schedule and if there is one provided by the caregiver from the doctor’s recommendations, it’s easy to move things around or find the time to ensure your senior doesn’t lose sight of the comfort provided within the boundaries of their own home. More and more families are looking deeper into in-home assisted living to provide maximum comfort for their loved ones with mental health issues. Depending on the severity and how the family is able to cope, providing your senior with a setting he/she is familiar with can lead to more good days than bad. Although the demand for taking on a role as a caregiver can be high for family members, opting for a professional to live in the home and be there to help assist them at any time of the day or night can do wonders. Those with unstable mental health may not do very well if they’re put on a daily schedule as they would find in a traditional nursing home whereas each day could be a different experience within the contentment offered by their own home they’re more familiar with.

Whichever you choose, ensure the decision is what’s best for your senior. Specialized nursing homes could be a great option if your elderly loved one can benefit from having around the clock care and can harmonize with other residents in the same scenario. Depending on their conditions and their state of health, short-term care may be what they need until they recover from previous injuries or pain and they can then continue on with normal life at home with the family. Or perhaps in-home assisted living is what’s needed for your loved one. Maybe they only need a specialist to visit once a day, twice a week, or perhaps they need someone around 24/7 and provide care from within the home at any accommodating time. There are many options out there that can cater to the medical needs and overall well-being of your loved one. We’re here to help you explore those options.

In collaboration with Amanda Kaestner.

 

“IF I ever need to go to a nursing home, kill me first”

You do not need to leave your home

Aging in Place: You do not need to leave your home!

Given that 89% of people do not want to leave their homes, this statement featured on the article The Technology for Monitoring Elderly Relatives on The New York Times (July 28, 2010) about new technologies to help people stay at their home, makes total sense.

The purpose of many of these technologies is to provide enough supervision to make it possible for elderly people to stay in their homes rather than move to an assisted-living facility or nursing home — a goal almost universally embraced as both emotionally and financially desirable.

Read More about it…

New Devices Help Seniors Stay Longer in Their Own Homes.

An article supporting Living Well’s high-tech – high touch approach, was published by Health Day: News for Healthier Living on January 18 by Dennis Thompson. The article stresses the importance of using technology to keep seniors for longer and safer: ” Seniors who want to remain in their homes despite illness and infirmity can get a high-tech assist these days. So can their children who might worry about…Sensors, GPS and more are being used to track aging parents’ movements… So can their children who might worry about an elderly parent living alone, often far from family members.

The 1980s-era medical alert pendants made famous by their television advertising (“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”) are now among a wide array of devices that can help keep an eye on aging parents and get them help when they need it.

Available technologies include:

  • Sensors in the home to track an older person’s movement, from the front door to the medicine cabinet to the refrigerator to the stove. The sensors are linked with computers that can issue alerts when people deviate from their routine.
  • Global positioning system devices, using the GPS technology that’s become so common in cars, that can help locate someone with dementia who’s wandered from home.
  • Computerized pillboxes that track whether medication is being taken on time.

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