Category Archives: Caregiving

10 Important Questions To Ask A Medical Alert Company

There is no doubt there are many medical alert system providers available, and as with all services, there are some that are clearly better than others. Below is a list of questions you should ask when calling to inquire about purchasing such a device:

Q. Does your system require a landline?question
A. Technology has advanced in recent years, as have medical alert systems. While connecting your system to a landline is by far the most secure and reliable way, as you don’t need to rely on cell towers, companies now also provide systems that use 3G/4G service. In most cases, the system uses the providers Cellular service, not your own. Therefore, be sure to ask if the cellular service they use is reliable and strong in their specific area.
Q. Is there a contract?
A. Most companies should provide you with a service agreement that clearly states the terms and conditions of their service. This is different from a contract. Be sure to ask if there is a contract for a service stating how long you must pay for the equipment once you are a subscriber. Some companies will provide a full refund for unused, prepaid service should you have to cancel while other companies provide no refund at all. LifeFone offers a 30 day money back guarantee and a refund of any unused prepaid service should you cancel.
Q. How much does the system cost?
A. Companies generally offer several payment plans with a cost saving when you pay for a longer period of time. As mentioned regarding the contract above, ask about refund policies in the event you need to cancel.
Q. How are you rated with the BBB?
A. Be sure to work with a company that has a strong BBB rating and verify what you are told. Legitimate companies do not make RoboCalls promising a free medical alert system. If you get a RoboCall, report it to the BBB and do not give out any personal information.
Q. Do you automatically send an ambulance when I push the button or my fall detector activates an alarm?
A. This is important because many times, a subscriber does not need an ambulance. Perhaps the subscriber simply needs help getting up and would simply need a neighbor or family member to come lend a hand. Determine the provider’s process in this situation, and if the response plan can be customized.
Q. Do you have a GPS Service & Fall Detection?
A. Since some subscribers are home-bound, a traditional landline system is perfect in those situations. Other subscribers are prone to falls and want the security of a fall detection system. Since no fall detection is 100% fool-proof, ask if the service also comes with a standard button for added security.

Many subscribers are active and want protection when away from home. Ask if the service provides coverage when traveling about the community. Also ask if the system has to be charged in order to work, and whether it can be used while docked on the charger, as some systems can’t be used when charging.
Q. Is it easy to install
A. Always ask if you need an installer or if the unit comes pre-programmed. Most systems are very easy to install. Look at the provider’s web site to see if they offer installation instructions and if there are representatives available to answer any questions.
Q. Is the device waterproof?
A. Determine if the pendant or wristband is waterproof. You should subscribe to a service that does protect you while bathing or showering as well as swimming.
Q. What is the range (from the base) of the device?
A. The range will vary depending on the provider and the particular system. Be sure to ask about the range, and listen carefully to what you are told. Most likely, you will hear different range capabilities but you should also ask whether the system works if you or your loved one is in the yard, and how large a home system is designed to protect. Regardless of what you are told, the actual range can vary depending on the configuration of your home and any obstacles between you and the unit itself.
Q. What happens in a power outage?
A. Determine if the system will work in a power outage. Most systems have a battery back-up, but it’s important to find out how long that is. Don’t be swayed by one company whose battery may last longer than another. Consider ALL benefits and features before making a final choice.
For a full list of LifeFone’s features and benefits, you can review our FAQ page.

How To Spend Time In Retirement

Ahh … the sweet feel of retirement! After all those years of working long and hard hours, we have finally reached a place where we can relax and enjoy life a bit more. It is something that most of us have planned for with great anticipation … but sometimes after a few months of enjoying our full time job of “doing nothing” we find ourselves wanting to do something. And while there is a myriad of things to fill time, it can be overwhelming sorting out what to do.Retirement

One of the options is to get a part time job. Without the responsibility of your former pressure packed employment, you have the option of working part time and doing something totally different from what you had been doing . Working on YOUR terms and doing that fun thing you always thought might be fun but would never pay the bills plus the few extra dollars you could make wouldn’t hurt a thing.

However, if you are done with wanting to work totally … there are lots of other options to have a meaningful active retirement:

  1. Consider volunteering in a local school where you can surround yourself with youth and education. Schools are always seeking volunteers to work with students reading books, playing educational games and mentoring. Your church or synagogue might need volunteers, nursing homes provide opportunities to work with seniors who have no one to interact with. There are many options for volunteering. Find an organization that attracts your interest and get involved.   Like a part time job, you get to call the shots on when, where, how and why.
  2. Write a blog or a personal memoir about your life experiences and the things you have learned. It is sometimes difficult to get started but many suggest that you sit down and just start writing what is on your mind at the moment. Many people are surprised at what they remember AND what they discover.   Your “diary” and memoirs will leave a wonderful legacy for your family.
  3. Go back to school! There are many community colleges and senior centers that offer educational opportunities. Remember that second language you always wanted to learn? Remember that cooking class you would love to attend? Remember that art class you always thought about. Retirement is a great time to learn new things and to participate in classes you always wanted to take. Plus you don’t have to worry about a grade point average! It is all about you with no pressure to do anything but have fun. See the theme here?
  4. While everyone in retirement needs to live within their means, NOW is a great time to travel. Whether you do short day trips to local attractions at nearby cities or you buy a motor home and travel the country, getting out and experiencing new things is one of the retirement’s benefits. Experience your world. Set goals for yourself like visiting every major league baseball park in the country, visiting every major city in your state or visiting the presidential libraries of your favorite presidents.   Traveling not only offers new experiences but the trip planning also gives you something to do and look forward to.
  5. Complete the “honey-do” list that you started years ago. In retirement, you are probably in a better position to have the time and money to tackle those projects that just did not fit into your budget or schedule before. There are all kinds of interesting do-it-yourself projects that range from major projects to small enhancements to your home or patio.   Explore craft magazines, home improvement television networks/shows or garden and find ways to make things better in your environment.
  6. Get out and exercise. Maintaining health and fitness as we age is ever so important. There are many places to exercise from gyms and health clubs to senior centers to mall walking. Explore options to keep moving and staying strong and mobile.
  7. Finally, do nothing if that is what you want. There really is no pressure to do anything that you don’t want to.

All those years you worked and raised a family now boil down to YOUR TIME. Do what makes you happy knowing you have complete control over your retirement.

National Centenarians Day: Will You Live To Be 100?

Did you know that about one in 10,000 people will live to be 100-years-old? These individuals are deemed “slow agers.” Will you be among those who live to celebrate 100 years?

While there is no magic formula to determine how long you will live there may be indicators as to how long you will be on this earth and they include:

  1. Whether you have “longevity genes.” How long have other members of your family lived?National Centenarians Day
  2. What is the state of your physical health?
  3. How fast can you walk? Studies have shown that those who are fast walkers just might live longer. Fast walking is considered “three feet per second; two miles per hour)
  4. Do you have friends and family in your life? Studies have shown that social engagement could be key to helping you live to be 100.
  5. Are you a woman? It’s been shown that of the 80,000 centenarians in the United States in 2010, 85% of them were women.

If you want to try to live to be 100, here are some steps you can take to enhance your chances:

  1. Lose the belly fat. People who are “round in the middle” are more likely to die sooner than those with flat bellies.
  2. If you were a healthy-weight as a teenager you may live longer.
  3. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and get physical exercise every day. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than those without diabetes and this could shorten your lifespan.
  4. Eating 14 to 17 grams of fiber per day could reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 17%. Add oatmeal to your diet, top with raspberries and you can get 12 grams of fiber in one meal.
  5. Become a tea drinker. If you drink either green or black tea you will be ingesting concentrated doses of catechins, substances that help blood vessels relax and protect your heart. Those who drink more than five cups of green tea every day had a lower risk of dying from heart disease and stroke than those who didn’t drink tea.
  6. Be active at least 40 minutes per day. Those who are physically active are more physically fit and also cognitively fit.

On September 22, celebrate National Centenarians Day and the centenarians in your life or take steps to become a centenarian yourself!

How To Let Go Of A Dying Loved One

Saying goodbye to a loved one is never easy. It’s even more difficult for the family when they have to watch their loved one slowly fade away, but that raises the question of “how do you say good bye to a dying loved one?” It’s a question with no easy answers, but it may be a discussion every family should be having.Dying Loved One

Advanced care planning and conversations among family members is crucial to improving the quality of your loved one at his or her end-of-life. Your aging loved ones need to be able to express their desires and the family needs to work together to assure they are met so they can pass on with dignity.

Many health care providers are still hesitant to discuss end of life issues with their aging and ill patients so it may be up to the family to start the discussion. No family member wants to wait until he or she is faced with “what do we do now” when Mom or Dad’s health is failing and you are unclear as to what your parents would have wanted. The best time to have the conversation is when everyone is healthy and all together in the same room, if possible, so everyone can share their thoughts and come to an agreement of what will happen and how Mom and Dad’s final wishes will be honored.

What are some of the questions you may want to ask and have answered when deciding what to do at the end of your loved one’s life? Here are a few:

  1. What do they consider a “full” or quality life?
  2. How much control do they want over their own decisions when facing a terminal illness? Will they want to undergo cancer treatments if it’s a cancer that cannot be “cured” for example?
  3. Do they want to be resuscitated if they stop breathing and their heart stops?
  4. Do they want to be attached to and kept alive by, machines?

Along with these conversations you need to discuss their insurance coverages and how they will pay for hospital care, hospice care or long-term care in a nursing facility. You may also want to discuss who will be designated as the health care proxy and who will make the ultimate decisions on end of life care if they cannot speak for themselves.

Know that even if you have had these conversations and everyone has “accepted” the inevitable, that does not make the final decision any easier nor does it remove any of the grief you will experience. What end of life decisions do is to make it easier for the family to know they have honored their loved one’s wishes and that may make the grieving easier to handle.

The Link Between Loneliness And Heart Disease

Loneliness is something that many seniors in our society face. The loss of a spouse, immediate family moving away and loss of friends leads to loneliness and isolation. Loneliness can also lead to depression, but did you know it can also lead to heart disease? As caregivers it’s Loneliness & Heart Diseaseimportant that we talk with our aging loved ones and find ways for them to remain engaged and involved as a way to stave off loneliness.

Social isolation impacts your health – whether young or old – and can cause to high blood pressure, weight gain, cognitive decline, and in some cases, heart disease or stroke. University of York researchers discovered that those who are isolated and who feel lonely have close to a 30 percent higher risk of heart disease and more than 30 percent higher risk of having a stroke. Close to 200,000 adults were surveyed and followed for the study.

There are many reasons that individuals feel lonely and may even isolate themselves. There are also many reasons why that isolation can lead to poor health and even poor diets, poor sleep habits and lack of exercise. It was even found that those who were lonely are less likely to see a doctor when they don’t feel well and are also less likely to take their medications as prescribed.

Being alone can also lead to more alone time because it can sometimes feed upon itself. If your aging loved ones begin cancelling appointments or afternoons out with friends or if they are no longer involved in activities they once loved you may want to intervene. Talk with them to uncover the reasons why they are no longer involved and what you can do to help. Being widowed can lead to individuals shutting themselves away because they don’t want to feel like a “third wheel.” Help your loved one find places to make new friends, consider church groups, senior centers or other local resources that may be available.

Caregivers who don’t live locally may want to invest in a simple to use computer for their parents to help them keep in contact. Gift them with an easy to use computer and show them how to log in and accept video calls from you. Being able to talk via video allows them interaction with friends and family that live far away and it also allows the caregiver a way to see whether Mom and Dad are looking healthy. A video chat is also a great way for grandparents to stay in touch with grandchildren.

What can you do to help assure your aging loved ones are healthy, involved and not isolated? Talk with friends and family and put together a plan today!

Healthy Snacks

Healthy SnacksOne of the keys to health and a healthy weight could just be the type of snacks you eat. Many dieticians recommend eating five or six small meals per day instead of three large ones including healthy snacks. If you eat portion-controlled meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner adding in healthy smart snacks throughout the day just might help prevent overeating at your next meal.

Here are some smart snacking tips:

  1. Eat whole grain snacks. They provide staying power and give you energy. High fiber cereals and whole grain pretzels are a couple of suggestions.
  2. Eat breakfast. It is still considered the most important meal of the day.
  3. Look for foods that contain healthy fats such as peanut butter or nuts. Add those with apple slices or celery sticks.
  4. Nuts contain many beneficial nutrients and lead to satiety; they do have calories so eat the correction portions.
  5. Look for snacks that combine proteins, fats and low amounts of carbohydrates. Consider nuts and grapes or low fat cheese and whole grain crackers. A balanced snack will fill you up and keep you satisfied.

It’s important to snack mindfully. It’s easy to open the cupboard, grab a few treats and then go back and grab a few more.  Look at the recommended portion sizes, put your snack on a plate and then sit down and enjoy what you’ve chosen.

If you know you’re going to be on the run all day pack some healthful snacks so you’re not tempted to pull into the drive-through.

Become a label reader. Not all “organic” or “healthy-sounding” foods are actually healthy. You can enjoy most every food in moderation.

The next time you’re craving a snack, let yourself enjoy one – in moderation and in a correct portion size!


Budgeting Tips For Seniors (or Anyone!)


BudgetingPulling out a debit card or simply spending money is a pretty easy task, right? Sometimes it’s too easy and if you don’t pay attention to what you’re spending and what you’re buying, you could be putting your family budget in jeopardy.

Here are some budgeting tips for seniors, or anyone for that matter!

  • Know how much money you have coming in and from what sources in order know what you have to live on in order to put together a budget.
  • List all of your expenses, from utilities to gas for your vehicle or other transportation expenses to groceries to what you spend for online shopping. In many cases, we shop online and it is so easy to simply push a button to purchase that we don’t consider that as an outlay of cash. Go through a month or two of your expenses from all sources and make note of them. It may be eye opening. Add medical expenses that include your prescription medication costs as well as insurance and doctor visits into your list of expenses.
  • Look at your income and expenses and see if you have any extra money. If you do, sock it away in a savings account. Even if you’re only saving $50 a month, it will add up. This additional savings amount is something you should guard zealously. When you have a nice nest egg you can decide what to do with it. Perhaps you’re saving for a long awaited vacation or you need new furniture or you simply want to keep saving it for a cushion in the event your expenses outpace your income.

There are myriad online budgeting programs you can use, but don’t get bogged down in technology. Grab a notebook and label it household budget and begin tracking it that way. Writing it down will truly help you know what happens with your money on a monthly basis. You may be pleasantly surprised!

8 Ways To Raise The Bar on Happiness

HappinessIn our busy world, it’s a challenge to find time with your family. Stress can eat at everyone and sap the happiness right out of you!  However, research shows that happier kids are more likely to become successful adults so we want to share a few tips on keeping your family and your children energized, positive and with a happier spin in their step!

It starts with you. Parents dramatically affect the way a child reacts. If you take on a positive persona, your children are more likely to follow in your footsteps. (The opposite is true as well – grumpy parents sow seeds of grumpiness in children.

Enjoy the moments. You child doesn’t need to be in every single activity known to mankind in your community. Find out what she likes and help them enjoy it to the max. Overemphasizing achievement, especially at a young age, can lead to anxiety, depression and even possible substance abuse!

It takes a village. Are you sick of hearing that yet?  Well, even if you are, the statement is pretty spot on. As busy adults, we can get pretty wrapped up in things – too wrapped up to see what’s really going on. It’s helpful to have extended family members and friends to help keep an eye on the kids.

Expand your circle. Youth who experience broader relationships with other people tend to be happier overall.

Choose positive attitudes. Be grateful, forgiving and optimistic. Seeing the bright side of things, especially in the midst of a crisis can teach a teenager a lot about how to handle circumstances that will inevitably come their way.

Display and train self-discipline.  We aren’t born with the natural ability to be patient, consider others first, and know how to stay away from temptations. Lead by example and show your family how to control their behavior and thought patterns.

Hop on the happiness train.  Monitor what’s going on in your family. If you see a situation start to take a wrong turn or the attitude in the house turning ugly, refocus the energy on something positive. Find the good in every situation regardless of dismal it may look.

Share a meal.  Having a family meal together is a lost tradition but putting this back into your family routine can help you connect better with your children and give them a sense of routine, providing something they can count on.

Living a happier, more positive life can also help your health so raise the bar on happiness in your house and expect some wonderful results!


5 Tips for Caregivers

A caregivers job is no easy task. It’s a job that often comes with physical, emotional and sometimes financial costs. Yet, there’s no doubt about it, caregiving can be very satisfying as well.

One of the numerous challenges of being a caregiver involves knowing what to say or do, and when. It’s common to question yourself, wonder if you’re doing the right thing or if you’ve said the right thing.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach but we offer a few tips that may help.

  • Let your care recipient speak. He or she may bring up uncomfortable topics, talk ad nauseum about their family or illness or past jobs, or they may want to discuss personal things that you prefer not to discuss, especially if it’s a family member you’re caring for. Let them speak. If they are in need of the care you are providing, they may also need the emotional release that talking things out can provide.
  • It’s okay to say “I don’t know”. Because you’re the care provider, it is sometimes assumed that you have the answer to everything. Saying that you don’t know vs. being evasive will prevent you from appearing to be hiding something. It will also help you avoid providing incorrect information.
  • It’s okay to cry. When we were young children our parents often said “Don’t cry” with concern and empathy in their voice. But the truth is that crying is beneficial for us. Cry with your patient, cry yourself to sleep. Crying is OK!
  • Resist the urge to shrug things off with common phrases. “Everything will be fine” is not a phrase a terminally ill patient can resonate with.  Saying “I know how you feel” if you’ve never been in their situation isn’t comforting either. In fact, these phrases that we so easily let slip from our tongue can sometimes cause anger and frustration. Instead, saying “I don’t know how this must feel to you but I am here to go through it with you” may be a more comforting statement for you both.
  • Respond to anger carefully. While anger is a natural human emotion, chronically ill people sometimes allow anger to consume them or come out in ways and times that aren’t so natural. Rather than responding to their anger, take a deep breath, listen and determine what is worth responding to and what is better left alone.

Just as everyone’s illness is unique, every caregiver’s journey is unique as well.  Give yourself some self-love and realize you won’t do everything perfectly and that’s just fine!

Supplement Your Home’s Heat With A Space Heater

space heaterA space heater can be a homeowner’s friend – but only if they are used as intended and are never left unattended. For many seniors and families living on limited budgets, a space heater can take the sting out of utility bills. While winter has been relatively mild in many areas of the country so far this heating season, we all know it’s a matter of time before Old Man Winter settles in and we are bundled up in blankets and dreading the arrival of the heat bill.

Space heaters come in propane, gas or electric-fueled models. Propane may provide the highest energy efficiency and fuel savings while warming a specific area of the home. Using a space heater in a living area may allow you to turn down the heat in other areas of the home.

If you’re considering a space heater, here are some tips for using it safely:

  1. Make certain the space heater you purchase is for in-home use.
  2. You need to have an area where the space heater will sit that has space above, below and surrounding it that is free of any combustible materials such as draperies, paper or plastic items. The heater will have manufacturer’s instructions that will explain how far the heater needs to be away from walls.
  3. The space heater should be inspected regularly for any damage or frayed wires. A professional electrician or the individual who inspects your furnace can likely perform this inspection though it’s easy enough for an adult to look at the wires on a regular basis as well.
  4. The heater needs to be placed in a room that also has good air flow – in other words, do not place it in an enclosed, air tight space. This is a consideration especially with vent-free models.
  5. Never leave home with the heater running. It should be turned off and even unplugged for safety’s sake.
  6. If you have children or pets in the home, you need a space heater that has a guard around the heating element to prevent burns.
  7. Look for a space heater that has been certified by a nationally recognized entity.
  8. Assure that the heater is sufficient for the size room you want to heat – neither too small, nor too large.
  9. Make certain everyone in the home knows how to properly use the heater.

Determine the price of the heater and whether you would save money if you invest in one before you make a purchase. It just might help you save money and stay warm and cozy this winter! If you’re trying to help your aging loved ones save money on their utility bills, plan a shopping excursion to pick up a space heater.