Tag Archives: Elder Care

Web Technologies Make Being Away From Elderly Loved One Easier For The Caregiver

If you become a caregiver to an aging parent or relative you will find that one of the most difficult parts of that role is trying to keep up with everything – your own personal life and the needs of your loved ones. This can be made even more difficult if you are involved in a long distance caregiving situation. While it may seem overwhelming, and it will be at times, being organized will make the situation less stressful.

When you’re in the role of caregiver you are not only involved in the care of a relative but you are also likely going to be expected to keep the rest of the family and friends apprised of what is happening. How can you be expected to juggle all of the balls that will be tossed your way? Here are some web-based tools and technologies that can help:

  • Using a checklist or marking items on a calendar are certainly good ways to keep yourself on track with the tasks that need your attention. You may also need to find electronic means to do this as well, especially if you’re looking to friends and family members to help with some of the caregiving chores such as buying groceries or taking your parents to doctor’s visits.
  • Consider conference calls as a way to keep in touch with family members as it’s a great way to get everyone on the phone at the same time to discuss concerns or to merely catch everybody up on what’s been going on with your loved ones. A conference call is much better, and much easier to coordinate, than to make individual phone calls and it also keeps everyone on the same page as to what’s going on and what needs to happen.
  • Consider setting up a blog page as a way to share photos between family members and to keep your elderly relatives involved in what’s going on with the children and grandchildren. You can upload photos and brief blurbs of what is happening in everyone’s lives. If your relatives aren’t tech savvy the caregiver can spend some time with them getting them online and letting them read what’s going on in the family.
  • Social media pages are also great, free, ways to stay in touch. You can set up a private group within Facebook and it can be a spot (in case you don’t want to set up a blog) where photos can be uploaded and you can share status updates with the family. It’s a great, all in one location, in which everyone can interact.
  • If your relatives are tech-savvy enough, or if they’re not, you can  help them when you’re there on a visit, set up a webcam and have video chats with other family members. Webcam chats are a great way to let your elderly family members feel closer to everyone because they will be able to have face-to-face interaction. Imagine if the family lives out of town and you (as the caregiver) live in the same area as your aging parents you could feel as if you were part of family parties and holidays through the use of a webcam.

Keeping all family members involved in the ongoing conversation of the care of aging relatives helps to relieve caregiver stress as well as keeping everyone in touch. Technologies can also help your relatives age in place, especially if they are tech-savvy, as the internet can make them feel more connected and less alone.

Plan For Eldercare Before A Need Arises

Seeking resources to care for aging parents isn’t a task to be undertaken when in crisis mode. By the time an aging parent needs additional care, you may not know where to turn and you don’t want to have to make uninformed decisions on care for your aging relatives. If you’re in regular contact with your aging relatives it will likely be easy to see when they are reaching the point where they need additional assistance if they’re to remain in their own home.

As a caregiver, it will fall to you to make difficult decisions, but if you work with your parents, siblings and other family members prior to a need arising, you can have a plan in place for the time when emergency care may be necessary. In many cases, caregivers find it difficult to round up the care their aging relatives need because there typically isn’t a central location to find all the services necessary.

Here are a few agency names, services and contacts to search for in your particular part of the country to find assistance for your aging relatives:

Office or Agency for the Aging. These agencies are run under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and are available in all municipalities. The Office for the Aging is a clearing house for local aging services. The individuals that work there can also help you become acquainted with the services available in your particular region of the country.

  1. 211 is a telephone service available in most major cities. This number can quickly put you in touch with critical elder care services in your community such as agencies that help with utility bills, food banks, adult day care facilities, respite care and more.
  2. Ministries in your area. Check with the religious organization that your parent belongs to and see if it provides any services for the elderly. Many large churches provide ministries that cater specifically to senior citizens. Your church may also be able to arrange for volunteers to come and either visit with your aging relatives or even help with light housework or cooking.
  3. Ask your employer if it offers any type of services to caregivers. Many caregivers don’t think to ask their human resource department if there are any resources available to them for helping in seeking out care for aging parents. In some cases, the company’s Employee Assistance Program may provide access to services to provide relief to both the aging relative and the caregiver.
  4. Home medical alert system providers. Equipped with a medical alert pendant, these devices provide peace of mind knowing emergency assistance can be easily accessed at the push of a button.

Getting Your Elderly Loved One to Eat

Despite conventional wisdom, weight loss is not a normal part of the aging process. We are not supposed to wither away in old age. Weight loss begins to occur in the elderly from a lack of vitamins and nutrients, which can be both upsetting and frustrating to witness as a caregiver. Older adults become more susceptible to weight loss with age because their stomachs do not digest as fast as they once did and the excitement of eating begins to diminish as sight, smell and taste wane.

Your loved one’s appetite may be suppressed for a number of reasons including cancer treatments, medications, depression or physical pain, to name a few. If your loved one is having trouble eating or has begun to experience weight loss, the following may help reignite their appetite:

  1. Serve smaller portions: Instead of feeding your loved one three large meals a day, which may seem overwhelming for some elderly, serve them six smaller meals throughout the day.
  2. Add calories: Combine protein powder mix with your loved one’s drinks to increase calories. Since many older adults are deficient in calcium and Vitamin D, adding a tablespoon or two of nonfat dry milk powder to yogurt, cottage cheese, soups or hot cereals will help them gain weight.
  3. Hydrate with water: Ensuring your loved one has enough water will allow them to avoid dehydration, which can lead to appetite suppression.
  4. Let your loved one choose the menu: When you give your loved one the power to choose what they want to eat, they will feel more in control and will be more likely to eat.
  5. Serve it soft: Soft foods are easier to eat and digest, try serving them pudding, ice cream or fruit smoothies.
  6. Add Seasoning: Bland food is not appetizing. If the food tastes better, your loved one will be more inclined to eat it.
  7. Set the mood: Make dinner a pleasant experience by playing soft music, discussing the day’s events, serving food on nice plates and topping off meals with a garnish.
  8. Keep a food journal: Track what your loved one is eating everyday as a reference of what they like to eat and what foods give them problems or complications. You can also go over the food journal with your loved one’s doctor or dietician to get some feedback on how their diet is serving their needs.

Your loved one should not view eating as a chore, making the experience a more pleasurable and rewarding one should help get their appetite back on track.

Winter and Cold Weather Precautions for Seniors

Cold winter temperatures are as harmful as summer heat waves when it comes to the health of senior citizens. As a caregiver, you may worry what will happen to your parents in the event of a winter storm that knocks out electricity and when snow makes the roads impossible to drive on. If your parents or senior loved ones have
their home equipped with a Lifefone medical alarm system, once the power goes out, the battery backup kicks in and customer service is contacted. Having a home medical alarm system offers you and your loved ones peace of mind, regardless of the weather and distance between you.

Here are some items to check at your elderly loved one’s home to make certain they are taking care
of themselves once the frigid winter months kick in.

  • Make certain the thermostat is set to at least 65 degrees to help prevent hypothermia. Many seniors will feel more comfortable with the temperature a bit higher, but it shouldn’t go below 65. Common signs of hypothermia include: drowsiness, slow or slurred speech, memory loss, uncontrolled shivering and sense of exhaustion.
  • If the home is not well-insulated, you may want to consider covering the windows with inexpensive plastic sheeting to keep the wind from blowing in. Also plastic sheets will still allow sun to filter in and keep the home warm.
  • The home should be equipped with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. These should be checked monthly to make certain they’re in good working order and batteries should be changed at least twice a year and also as soon as they begin emitting a low battery warning.
  • If the senior adults have access to supplemental heating such as a generator or kerosene heater, make certain they understand exactly how to operate it and that the house must be properly ventilated at all times when it is operation.
  • Unless it is crucial, they should remain indoors when there is a storm brewing or when the temperatures hover at or below the freezing mark.
  • Ensure that your loved ones have cupboards full of food and that their medications are up to date and filled. Additionally, stock up on foods that can be eaten without having to be cooked in the event of a power outage.
  • Make certain your loved ones have access to additional blankets in an easily accessible location so they don’t have to climb to reach them when the temperatures drop.
  • Test their medical alarm system to make certain it is working properly and that they are diligent in wearing the emergency alert bracelet or pendant in the event of a slip or fall.
  • Make arrangements for a neighbor to come and check on your loved ones in the event you live too far away and can’t get to the home in the event of an emergency. Also, make arrangements to have the sidewalk shoveled and the driveway cleared so they don’t have to worry about the feeling of being  “trapped.”

 By following these precautions, using a common sense approach to leaving the house, navigating winter roads and employing the services of a home medical alarm system offers peace of mind for everyone involved.

Risk of Falls

How the Risk of Falls Increases Each Year
From the US Center for Disease Control

According to the federal government:

  • More than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States
  • Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
  • The rates of fall-related deaths among older adults rose significantly over the past decade

When people fall:

  • 20 to 30% of people suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around and limit independent living. They also can increase the risk of early death.
  • Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls.
  • The most common fractures are of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.
  • Many people who fall, even those who are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, leading to reduced mobility and physical fitness, and increasing their actual risk of falling.

Who is at risk?

  • The risk of being seriously injured in a fall increases with age.
  • The rates of fall injuries for adults 85 and older were four to five times that of adults 65 to 74. Women are 67% more likely than men to have a nonfatal fall injury.
  • Rates of fall-related fractures among older adults are more than twice as high for women as for men.

How can older adults prevent falls?

To protect your independence and reduce your risk of falling:

  • Exercise regularly; exercise programs like Tai Chi that increase strength and improve balance are especially good.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines -– both prescription and over-the counter –- to reduce side effects and interactions.
  • Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year.
  • Improve the lighting in your home.
  • Reduce hazards in your home that can lead to falls.

Eldercare Locator

The Eldercare Locator is a public, nationwide service of the Administration on Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This service is designed to connect older Americans, their families and caregivers with information on senior services and help them by identifying trustworthy local support resources.

The Eldercare Locator database provides information by Zip code, City or County. We encourage you to use this resource and ease the burden of gathering information on resources available in your area.

Eldercare Locator

The Eldercare Locator is a public, nationwide service of the Administration on Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This service is designed to connect older Americans, their families and caregivers with information on senior services and help them by identifying trustworthy local support resources.

The Eldercare Locator database provides information by Zip code, City or County. We encourage you to use this resource and ease the burden of gathering information on resources available in your area.