Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Your needs have changed and so has your vision. It has nothing to do with eyeglasses and everything to do with the way you embrace life. We have a web page dedicated to those who have gained that wisdom. Find it here.
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Aging In Place
Not so very long ago, senior citizens were the subject of relentless Internet humor. Between references to tech terminology, device types or acronyms; their lack of exposure to the wired world was the source of countless jokes.
In their lives, an apple was something to bite. Drives were what you did on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Memory is what they wish they still had.
As the computer revolution changed life as they knew it, they remained steadfast. They made it this far in life without a computer, there's no reason to start now.
Except now there are plenty of reasons to get online. And they all result in a higher quality of life than would be otherwise possible.
Computers today allow seniors to age in place. Technology has evolved that affords them independence with peace of mind.
Mobility limitations caused some to withdraw from social situations. The isolation often led to depression.
Family and friends are as close as your keyboard with the Internet. Social networking creates a circle of peers without leaving your home.
Devices monitor health indicators that once required frequent trips to the doctor. Smartphones and bracelets are embedded with equipment that monitors blood pressure, heart rate, glucose levels, sleep patterns and more. They'll send regular reports to your doctor or alert family members of abnormalities.
Failure to take medications properly accounts for up to 40 percent of nursing home admissions. Now there are several devices available that eliminate the risk. MD.2 is a monitored dispenser that a caregiver can load. One touch of a button dispenses all of the pills on time.
Rescue Alert monitors a pillbox electronically. If the lid isn't opened when it should be, an alert is sounded. Or you might prefer a service that sends daily medication reminders by phone or email.
New wheelchairs navigate tight spaces and avoid obstacles. Some even climb stairs.
Software can control their environment remotely. No need to get out of a chair to turn on a light or lower the thermostat.
Changes in daily habit can catch problems in their early stages. Sensors on refrigerator doors will alert a family member if there's too little activity. No more worries about whether a loved one has forgotten a meal.
Or forgets to turn off a stove burner. The Safe-T-element Cooking System limits how hot stovetop burners can get through cover plates installed over the existing burners. It will automatically shut off the stove if they reach a certain temperature.
Monitors placed under a mattress can measure pulse and respiratory patterns that detect heart failure before someone realizes they're becoming short of breath. Changes in sleep pattern or a drop in daytime activity often occur 10 days to two weeks before a fall necessitating a trip to the hospital.
Limited mobility can make routine household chores difficult. Technology again comes to the rescue. There are automated robots that can vacuum, sweep or wash the floor. Even clean the rain gutters!
The sheer volume of baby boomers entering their golden years will make available space in assisted living facilities scarce. And it might not be such a bad thing. We may have reached the age where we won't have to leave our home.
Choosing a Senior Living Community
While it would be ideal if our loved ones could remain in the family home as they age, in reality it isn't always possible. This article, reprinted from the April 3, 2012 issue of GCFlash, offers excellent advice on choosing an assisted living facility should it become necessary.
One of the most difficult tasks a family can undertake is assuring their loved one has proper care as they age.
Humans are independent creatures by nature. We're taught how to care for ourselves at a young age. But you won't find any lessons on aging.
There are different levels of elder care. Many people don't need the intensity of a nursing home. They can fend for themselves, but have difficulty with certain functions they once took for granted. Like getting back up after a fall, or turning the stove off after cooking a meal.
For these people, assisted living makes a good alternative. There are good facilities in most communities. But how do you know which is the right one for your loved one?
Tour several assisted living facilities. Observe the other residents. Do they have anything in common with your loved one? Do they have the same social or professional background? Do they speak the same language? Do they have similar impairments or limitations? Do they look content?
Ask to see a schedule of activities. Are they the type your loved one would participate in? Try to attend one to see what's going on first hand.
Is the staff experienced in the type of care your loved one requires? Are members of a medical staff on-site? Do they have the provisions to address needs that will change in the future?
Visit the facility around mealtime. If possible, eat a meal while you're there to see if the food is good and fresh. Evaluate the dining room experience. Are special meals or diets available? What about special requests?
Household services offered can differ from one facility to the next. If your loved one can't cook, clean, or do laundry any longer, make sure these services are offered by the community you choose. How often are services provided? How responsive is the staff to accidents that may occur?
Speak to as many staff members as possible during your visit. Get a sense of how they feel about the facility and whether they enjoy working there. Are they warm, friendly and respectful? Do they appear to be caring individuals? Learn about the hiring process, particularly whether or not a criminal background check is conducted. The quality of the staff is much more important than the quantity.
Will the facility hold a bed if your loved one is hospitalized or needs temporary rehabilitation? How close is the nearest hospital?
Consider the size of the living space. While you may want to provide the largest space available, it may not be the best option. Typically, a person will become more reclusive when they have more space. Socialization is important to guard against depression.
It will be a difficult move for your loved one when they have to leave the family home. They're leaving behind a lifetime of memories; raising a family, home repairs gone awry, holiday celebrations. All those little events that turn a house into a home.
Have patience. Expect fits of anger, bouts of depression and hysterical outbursts. It will take some time for them to become comfortable with their new lifestyle. In the meantime, you may find yourself labeled the villain no matter how necessary it was to make the move.
Visit frequently. Take them shopping for a day, or treat them to a restaurant meal. If you promise a visit, show up. Your continued love and support will help make the adjustment easier.
Tip of the Week
October 15th remains the deadline to file 2012 federal income taxes for those who filed for an extension. This is not affected by the government shutdown.
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