Wednesday, September 3, 2014

5 Ideas to Help Your Loved One Remain Safely Independent

 Liftingweights_Courtesy Jason Zimelman of Safer-America

Helping your loved one remain independent into the latter stages in life can be difficult. For some, it’s nearly impossible to take them out of the home in which they’ve lived so many years. If your loved one has a strong desire to remain at home, there are ways to make it a safer place.


Daily Check-ins

If you or other friends and family live in the surrounding area, it’s vital to keep tabs on your loved ones, daily. Coordinate a schedule to make sure their needs are met. Whatever your loved one’s needs–groceries, medications, or just some company, stop in to see how things are going. If nobody lives within a reasonable range, hire an aid to check in regularly to see how things are going. If nothing tangible is needed, a little company is always nice to have.


Emergency Alert Systems

Today’s advanced technology offers an array of safety monitoring systems. Some tools direct users to an emergency system’s operators with the simple click of a button. Others are able to detect sudden falls, notifying EMS. Be sure to have a completed medical emergency alert card to provide first responders with as much information as possible.


Bathroom Aids

Being able to complete daily functions is essential to remaining independent. Make sure your loved one has the proper tools to help retain independence–such as a raised toilet seat with handrail and a bench, handrails, and non-slip mats in the shower or tub for safer bathing.


Everyday Tasks

Some tasks grow more difficult with age. Fortunately, assistive tools can help. All of these products may be found in Amazon’s Health & Personal Care section.
Dressing stick: This stick can make dressing easier for those with limited mobility–such as helping pulls socks up or lifting a garment around one’s shoulder.
Prescription management: There are various systems available to help one remember to take medications during the day–such as electronic reminders, simple labels on daily medicine containers, or individual packets of medicines.
Extra-long sponge: This is a sponge attached to a longer arm to help with those hard-t0-reach areas while bathing.
Food bumper: This is a guard placed on the edge of a plate to prevent food from falling off.
Long shoehorn: An elongated shoehorn reduces the need to bend while putting on shoes.


Mobility Devices

The simple act of getting around can make or break one’s ability to be independent. With age, walking can prove difficult. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to help with this process.
Accessibility: If wheeled access is needed in the home, make sure that your loved one has a ramp to gain access to the home easily.
Wheelchair: Both manual and electric wheelchairs boost a person’s independence in being able to get around, in, and out of one’s home, which contributes to a happier day-to-day existence.
Walker/Cane: If a wheelchair isn’t necessary, a walking aid can help. As with wheelchairs, getting out and enjoying the day whenever possible is a tremendous benefit to your loved one’s quality of life.

These are five some of the tools caregivers can use to help their loved ones live safely independently.


Jason Zimelman is a Public Relations Coordinator with Safer America. The organization provides consumer safety information to help make our community a safer place to live for our children, family and friends

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The Overlooked Caregivers No One Ever Talks About

Although it was more than five decades ago, the memories of caring for my grandfather as a pre-teen—giving him medication, even bathing him—are never far from my mind. To this day, 54 years later, I can still feel his cold skin as I went to give him his 2:00 am medication.
At that time, words like "abandonment" and "trauma" were not often used to describe childhood experiences.

I left home to become a nurse and grew professionally in my career. However, the traumatic experiences of caregiving and missing out on some of my childhood left me less than grounded.
In 1998, at the First International Conference on Caregiving in London, I learned about the challenges faced by youth caregivers and began to understand the significance of those experiences.
That summer, I went on a mission trip with teens from my church—one boy's dad had recently died and another girl's dad had pancreatic cancer. Many of the other kids also had concerns about their parents and grandparents' health.

In 2001, my new husband, encouraged me to return to school to get my PhD, thinking it would increase my earning power. During the research process, I discovered that there was—for the first time in the U.S.—an unusually high number of middle and high school students who were dealing with family health conditions. More than a third of these children were negatively impacted at school. A few more years would pass, and the data (along with some media attention) revealed that there were between 1.3-1.4 million caregivers, ages 8-18 years old in the US.

In 1998, I had started a nonprofit organization to provide volunteer support services to people who were homebound and their caregiving families. Once the analysis of my research data was complete, I was compelled to now turn my attention to youth caregivers. I thought that, supporting them academically and personally, and strengthening their families, could perhaps ameliorate the sacrifices they were making because of their caregiving responsibilities.

Thus, the Caregiving Youth Project was born in the fall of 2006, at one middle school in Boca Raton, FL. Professional staff facilitate support groups, offer classes on life skills, and provide other resources to ease some of the responsibility and give youth caregivers the chance to be kids.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Travel With A Loved One Who Has Dementia

Assisting and helping elderly people


Guest article by Derek Hobson-Nahigyan

Surprisingly, most family caregivers decide not to travel with loved ones living with dementia. They figure, if the family wants to be together, then they’ll have to visit. Bringing the family to you is a reasonable option, but you shouldn’t fear traveling; especially, given the technological advances to make life easier.

What is the best way to travel?

In general, if you talk with caregivers about their experience traveling with an elder living dementia, they’ll tell you the best way is the most direct–by car or plane. Taking the train or bus, while potentially more cost-effective, can be more stressful. Numerous stops, combined with disorienting symptoms of dementia, may result in one getting lost just trying to use a restroom.

When you’re driving, you can better control the environment and help your loved one if s/he experiences sundowning or mood swings.

Airport staff is equipped to help you assist your loved one through the confusing maze of air travel, today. Be sure to request assistance when you book your flight. Even though your loved one may not require a wheel chair, this will expedite processing through the terminal and security until you reach the departure gate and then to the baggage claim area.

What is the best place to travel?

The best places one with dementia may enjoy are those that are familiar–whether old neighborhoods and family homes or places visited from years ago and still fondly recalled.

Familiar places also have the advantage that if your loved one should become lost, you have a better chance to locate him/her. And if you still know people there, you can involve them via social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. Not long ago, a senior was missing in Issaquah, Washington, when the family posted a notice on Facebook. Less than a day later, he was found. Although, social media can facilitate locating a lost loved one in an unfamiliar place, it’s easier when the place is familiar.

If you are traveling to an unfamiliar place, bring keepsakes that trigger positive reactions in order to comfort your loved one in case, s/he becomes agitated and upset.

Which technological advances can help locate elder loved ones?

There are devices to help find elders with dementia who wander. The Alzheimer’s Association’s MedicAlert and Safe Return offers two products to help locate wandering loved ones with a tracking system. In addition, more companies are targeting the elderly demographic with innovative apps/products to help monitor their whereabouts. Some of these devices are easily affordable while others cost more money. It’s best to weigh your options between peace of mind verses cost.

Travel with your elderly loved ones living with dementia is possible if you weigh three items–mode of travel, location, and technological advancements.


Derek Hobson, BA is the editor for Concierge Care Advisors, a senior care referral agency. He developed a passion for elder care when he became the primary caregiver for his grandmother living with dementia. Since then, he has sought to inspire fellow caregivers. “There is no success without hardship.”

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