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?
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Over the course of our lives we build and establish important relationships … first as children, then with spouses and our own children, our pets and our friends. We also build relationships with things … our cars, our homes, our hobbies. All combine to make our life rich and fulfilling.
But life changes and as it does, we find ourselves saying goodbye to some of the “things” we value … like our homes. The reasons are many. We are upgrading and moving to a larger nicer home. We are downsizing because the kids have left the nest. We are moving for a new job. At any rate, we say goodbye to “our home” filled with memories and move on. Sounds easy. But wait a minute. There are both “easy” and more “challenging” aspects to getting ready to sell your home. Let’s tackle some of the easy ones first.
For the most part, it is EASY to do the physical prep to attract buyers.
- Curb appeal is very important. Many of us, even when we are not looking to buy, have driven by a home and commented on how great it looks. Meaning, if I WERE looking, this place grabs my attention. Much of curb appeal is easy. Make sure that the grass is mowed or the snow is shoveled. Plant flowers to add warmth. Make sure that shrubbery is trimmed and touch up trim paint if it is chipped. Front doors should be inviting and draw your attention. First impressions matter.
- Once inside, prospective buyers tend to be nosey! After all, you are not there and they want to see what the inside of the cupboards look like. Does this bathroom make me want to soak with a candle and relax because it is clean and inviting? Are the towels and linens fresh and unused? To that end, you should clean out cupboards and make sure everything is organized and not overly full. Crowded closets and cabinets give the impression that there isn’t enough storage. You may need to get a rental storage unit to de-clutter the house.
- Make the house shine! It is a bit unsettling to know that there might be a “showing” at any moment and so you have to live ready for that expectation. Dirty floors and windows are a turn off. Your refrigerator, microwave, oven and dishwasher will be opened. I promise. And look at ceiling fans. They are notorious dust catchers and send a bad signal if they are not spotless.
- In making the house shine, re-evaluate placement of furniture. What worked well for you functionally may not give the best impression of the room. Re-arranging and removing some furniture can make the home look and feel bigger. A “big” home is worth more money and seems more livable.
- Remember we suggested that once you put your house on the market, that it no longer belongs to you? All those family pictures and personal belongings will look great in your NEW home but are distracting when you want to sell. People need to see your HOME … not your stuff. Remember that storage unit you are renting?
These are all relatively easy. But there are some CHALLENGING things to getting your home ready to sell as well.
- Homebuyers take deep looks at potential property they own and often hire a professional inspector to take that look. Take a look at your heating and air conditioning systems and make sure they are in prime near perfect condition. They should be serviced professionally and in some cases replaced. Though you probably do not want to spend that money, you will do so one way or another … either in a reduced selling price or in fixing it first. Your attention to detail … including the big things will pay off. Talk to a professional.
- Check your basement … check your roof … check your driveway. The more you can do to have perfection, the better. Remember, each day on the market is just costing you money.
- And the final one may just be the hardest! You have utilized professionals to help you get the home ready and now … for some of you, is the most difficult task. Say goodbye to your home. Let it go long before it actually sells whether you have something forward to look to or not.
We have a relationship with our home … sometimes love, sometimes hate. But it IS a relationship. And relationships matter.
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:
- Whether you have “longevity genes.” How long have other members of your family lived?
- What is the state of your physical health?
- 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)
- 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.
- 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:
- Lose the belly fat. People who are “round in the middle” are more likely to die sooner than those with flat bellies.
- If you were a healthy-weight as a teenager you may live longer.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
It’s no secret that pets can enhance our lives. Yes, they do require work and care and veterinarian visits, but the benefits they provide, including companionship, are beyond measure. For as much as we love our pets, did you know they can be helpful for people as they age? Your aging loved ones may benefit from pet ownership, as long as you’re aware of the care they will need – both your parents and the pets.
When seniors adopt pets, measures must be put into place for the care of the pets when your aging loved ones can no longer properly take care of them. That is a conversation that needs to be held up front, before the pet comes into the home. You also need to determine what type of pet is best for your parents. Cats require less care than a dog, but a dog will help assure your parents are up and mobile. Taking the dog for a walk is an ideal way to stay agile and even involved in the community and that can stave off loneliness.
What are some other ways in which the seniors in your life can benefit from animal companionship? Here are a few:
- Physical activity. As mentioned, owning a pet means they will be involved in regular physical activity. Dogs need to be walked. Cats need to be played with. Even fish and reptiles will require some level of interaction and activity.
- Companionship benefits. Having a pet in the house will mean your loved one will never be alone. If you don’t live close by, it is important that they have a companion as depression can set in when loneliness sets in. The loss of a spouse and a dwindling circle of friends can lead to isolation and that can, in turn, lead to a whole host of health issues.
- Physical health benefits. It’s been shown that the mere act of petting an animal can help lower blood pressure. It’s also been shown that caring for a pet can not only lower your blood pressure, but improve cholesterol levels and provide better heart health.
- Weight loss. While having a pet may not lead to weight loss, it may help with weight control, especially if they have a dog. Dogs require physical activity and regular walks and that means your loved one will be physically active as well.
- Physical connection. If your loved ones live alone they may be bereft of the physical connection of a hug or other human touch. Being able to wrap their arms around their pet can help alleviate that physical craving for human touch.
The positive impact that pets have on our lives cannot be denied, but they do need to be adopted with care with provisions made for their care when your aging loved ones can no longer take on the responsibility.
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.
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:
- What do they consider a “full” or quality life?
- 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?
- Do they want to be resuscitated if they stop breathing and their heart stops?
- 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.
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 important 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!
Aging is viewed very differently by people. Some hate it, others embrace it and yet some just accept it as fact. One of the issues of aging is the level of our fitness and stability. You aren’t our grandma and getting old isn’t what it used to be but let’s face it, you didn’t all take such great care of ourselves when you were young. So to that end, let’s look at some serious issues about staying fit as Baby Boomer seniors.
- You are strong! You have control over our food intake and exercise patterns. You have taken responsibility for all of that and have learned that you can take care of yourself. Diet and even moderate exercise matters a great deal in growing old. You know, however, that even low movement brings many positive issues with it as you age. Find activities that you enjoy and go with it whether it be bowling, swimming, or walking. Find friends to do it with you and just MOVE. Or better yet, dance. You can do that at home in a bathrobe.
- Getting older doesn’t mean you have serious memory issues. Memory loss is a part of growing old. Give yourself a break. Accept that you are not who you “used to be” because none of us are. Each new day is a new you with just a smidge more knowledge than you had yesterday. Don’t cave in to the old adages of growing older.
- There are many wonderful options out there for getting involved! More than anything, research suggests that staying connected is a huge factor in aging well. Find activities that you like and then find centers that offer those activities. In some cases, that is much easier said than done … especially after a significant loss. But trust me, staying connected matters. Senior Centers, libraries, volunteering …. It makes life better.
- Have fun. Staying healthy as a senior suggests that you have to find activities you enjoy and then do them. Call a friend and go for a hike, join a class, volunteer for a local event … just get out. Coloring has become a new thing again and the great books sell for a few dollars at the retail stores. Who knew you might revert to childhood again! Just have fun.
- Twist it up! As you age, you tend to do the same things over and over. So stop that. Easier said than done but you can decide that today “ I am going to do something different”. Life becomes different and joyous.
- We are not suggesting you leave your home but even that could be good. Mostly we mean that you should just get up and do something. Dance like no one is watching.
Growing older is an experience none of us prepared for. But for Boomers, it’s not so bad – in fact, for many of us it’s a time to find ourselves again so get out there and enjoy!
Baby boomers are learning that growing older is far better than we expected. We are not aging the same way our parents and grandparents did and our quality of life is in many ways the best ever. Always resistive, always resistant, and always resilient, we are thriving on many levels. Turns out, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
There is lots of credit we could give for the fact that we are (for the most part) living better lives “at this age” then our parents did. First of all, healthcare has been finding new solutions to old problems every day and we have that huge advantage. Far more focus has been placed on preventive medicine and so we are monitoring our health more closely with great benefits. Finding and diagnosing problems early makes them far more manageable. That is true for our aging bodies.
We will discuss some more factual stuff in part two … but for now let’s laugh and think about stuff. Most of us are not sure how we got to be this old so quickly but we did. Our viewpoint of aging has changed significantly and we are not aging the same way our parents and grandparents did. We are doing it with fervor and some defiance … a good quality that has always defined us.
Getting older has caused us to come to understand that we have some options we never had before. We don’t have to get up and go to work. We don’t really have to do much that we don’t want to and with no cynicism, that is freedom. Our intentional focus on fitness and health has kept many of us healthy and active well into our senior years. We earned this.
One of the benefits of healthy aging is the understanding that we have far more control than generations before us. Though sometimes life gives us unexpected things, we have a great deal of control. We can control our diet. We control our exercise. We control our choices and all those stupid choices we made earlier in our life are over. We control our forgiveness for those mistakes. And we can decide how we play out life.
All in all, life is great and we can embrace that. For the moment, we ARE getting older and there are benefits to that. Big benefits. Part 2 is just around the corner.
We are rapidly approaching that time of year when we wish America a Happy Birthday. One would be hard pressed to find a single American who doesn’t have fond memories of the Fourth of July. The excitement, the music, the baseball games, the family picnic … oh yeah, AND the fireworks. Their sheer beauty alone makes the day worth it. It is all fun and games. Well mostly.
Anything with the word “Fire” in its name should command attention and respect. As you approach the holiday, consider this:
- Before you do anything, check the law to see if home use fireworks are legal in your state. Or even your city. Many large metropolitan suburbs have varying laws between cities and you can be fined for violation of illegal fireworks. There are many good reasons for these laws. For one, they are a safety risk that many people underestimate. In drought ridden areas of the country, they present a real fire threat to homes and lives and the environment.
- If you do live in an area where home fireworks are legal, remember that this is primarily an adult activity. Children love the lights and sounds of fireworks but should not be allowed to utilize fireworks without close adult supervision. Even fun things like sparklers can present a threat to safety. Hot metal wire on gentle children’s skin just doesn’t mesh well. Sparklers can get as hot as 1800 degrees … enough temperature to melt gold.
- Always make sure that you have a garden hose and a bucket of water close by. The bucket is perfect for dropping extinguished fireworks and sparklers in to totally deactivate them. Remember too that the “dud” firecracker you have may just be slow! Always wait 20 minutes before approaching the failed firecracker … and then drop it immediately into that bucket of water. Over 3000 children are injured by fireworks every year … and most of those are around July 4. Fire men and women respond to over 50,000 fires annually caused by fireworks.
- If you are using more powerful fireworks, make certain that all children and other adults are at a safe viewing distance. Children, even the “adult” ones, are drawn to the excitement of fireworks. Maintain a safe distance. That includes distance from your home or flammable grasses, brush or leaves. It takes just a small spark to ignite a fire. Which brings to mind that you should NEVER carry fireworks in your pocket. Once again, a small amount of friction can set off an explosive firecracker. You really don’t want that experience.
- Purchase your fireworks from only reputable dealers. In the 1966, many types of fireworks were banned but yet they are still produced illegally and find their way into the hands of teenagers and adults. Even worse, many people make their own fireworks. And putting explosives under metal bean cans or glass just makes it worse. Just don’t.
One other great tip: Use your Smartphone as a safety tool. LifeFone offers a great application that can help you get immediate help with the push of a button if something goes wrong. If you are safe and smart, you won’t need it. If you are SMART, you’ll have the bases covered. Enjoy!