Posts Tagged ‘elderly’

Eldercare Locator – A Free, Public Service For Connecting Older Adults and Caregivers with Community Resources

October 27, 2010

The Eldercare Locator is a service of the U.S. Administration on Aging.  It’s been around for nearly 20 years.  Its toll free number is 800-677-1116.  Its website is  It  provides information about long-term care alternatives, transportation options, caregiver issues and government benefit eligibility.  This information is also available in Spanish and other languages.  There is an extensive database of links, publications, and other resources.

Coping With Age-Related Changes

September 10, 2010

“A person is always startled when he hears himself called old for the first time.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

Coping with changes that affect an older person’s independence isn’t easy. An article I read recently in USA Weekend offered these tips to help with the difficult conversations you may need to have with your older parent, spouse, sibling, or other relative:

Giving up the car keys
•  Get an evaluation. Most states let anyone report an at-risk driver. Most also have an evaluation process to determine whether seniors are a danger to themselves or others. Often, people whose driving skills don’t pass muster will stop driving because they realize they’re no longer up to it.
•    Be direct. Telling a parent that he or she has to give up driving can be difficult, but important. It’s one thing if you kill yourself, but what if you kill somebody else? That thought may get the at-risk driver to stop.
•  Involve the doctor. If a physician reports an at-risk driver, the driver must, at minimum, take another road test.
•  Arrange alternatives. Set up transportation alternatives before a parent stops driving. Set up home delivery for groceries.

Moving to assisted living
•  Put yourself in the senior’s shoes. Frame the discussion from the elderly person’s point of view. For many, the pinnacle achievement in life was to buy a house, pay it off with the idea of living in it forever. It’s not just a house, it’s history and memories.
•  Try it out. Many major assisted-living companies offer respite visits. Seniors can stay a week or two to try it out, and then go home.
•  Don’t sell — yet. Wait to sell the house until the senior is comfortable in assisted living. If you need to sell right away, move the senior first. In this market most houses aren’t going to sell right away, and if assisted living doesn’t work out, you can always take the house off the market.
•  Be patient. Satisfaction rates in assisted living are in the 80 to 90 percent once the resident is settled in. Allow three to four months for seniors to accept the change.

Handling finances
•  Understand the senior’s point of view. Today’s seniors are the generation of savers. It’s hard to give control of their money to a younger person who doesn’t have the same view of saving and spending. Show that you understand your loved one’s point of view and offer reassurance that his or her wishes will be honored.
•  Be tactful with suggestions. Be sensitive to the senior’s tolerances. Automatic bill-paying and online banking may seem ideal to you, but some elderly people don’t like the idea of giving access to their bank account to anyone. Explain how you use these tools. Walk your loved one through the process.

Technology May Help Elderly Stay Home

August 9, 2010

In the general scheme of life, parents look after the children. But as parents age, the tables can turn. New technology is making it possible for adult children to closely monitor the daily movements and habits of their aging parents. The goal is to provide enough supervision to make it possible for elderly people to stay in their homes, which may be an emotionally and financially desirable alternative to moving to an assisted-living facility or nursing home.

Many of the systems are godsends for families. But, as with any parent-child relationship, loving intentions can be tempered by issues of control, role-reversal, guilt and a little deception. Just as the current population of adults in their 30s and 40s have a reputation of being hyper-involved, hovering parents to their own children, they now have the tools to micro-manage their aging parents.

You need to ask if this is something the parent wants. Monitoring technology for elderly people has been compared to the infamous “nanny cams,” hidden cameras some parents use to spy on their children’s babysitters. Needless to say, this can be very offensive to some.
Two recent articles, one from The New York Times and one from The Washington Post, explore some of the options available to families with aging relatives.

One choice is a GrandCare system, produced by a company of the same name based in West Bend, Wisconsin. It allows families to place movement sensors throughout a house. Information such as when doors are opened, what time a person gets into and out of bed, whether there’s been any movement in a room for a certain time period is sent out via e-mail, text message or voice mail. Costs vary depending on the features chosen, but this version costs about $8,000 to install plus monthly fees of about $75. That’s comparable to the cost of two months at an assisted-living facility.

Another monitoring alternative is a medication management system called MedMinder. It is basically a computerized pillbox. The parent’s correct daily dosages of different medications are arranged in boxes (usually by a nurse or other care provider). When it is time to take them, the pillbox beeps and flashes. If they are taken, you get a phone call or e-mail saying, essentially, Mom (or Dad) took her pills. If the pills aren’t taken within a two-hour window, the system starts nagging. It calls her. It flashes and beeps. Then you get a phone call with a message saying your mother missed her dose.

A small Virginia firm has unveiled a prototype of a portable, high-tech dwelling that would provide temporary shelter for a sick or elderly relative in the family’s back yard. It was created as an alternative to nursing homes as 78 million baby boomers head toward retirement. The company envisions that families could purchase or lease a MedCottage and set it up on their property, hooking it up to their home’s electrical and water supplies like an RV.MedCottage

The N2Care MedCottage is a 12-by-24-foot prototype filled with biometric technology that would allow a family and health-care providers to monitor the condition of an aging or disabled relative. The cottage contains air-filtration systems, video links, devices that allow the remote monitoring of vital signs and sensors that could detect an occupant’s fall.

Local zoning laws may pose one of the biggest obstacles to making such dwellings a practical solution to caring for aging family members in what it calls “accessory dwelling units.” Detractors have dubbed the concept the “granny pod” and predicted that it could create conflicts between neighbors who find the dwellings unsightly.

The MedCottage has some of the features AARP advocates in accessory dwelling units, but not all of the features that could be useful for people of all ages. It’s a step in the right direction. Other companies seeking to make similar structures are Seattle-based FabCab (whose name comes from Fabulous Cabin), and San Francisco-based Larson Shores Architects, which designs what it calls Architectural Solutions for the Aging Population, or ASAP.

Several studies have been undertaken to see just where the line between loving watchfulness and over-intrusion might be drawn. People don’t want to feel their privacy is compromised, and they tend to draw the line at cameras. The key seems to be control. The older person is much more amenable if he or she can control what information is available and who can access it. Ultimately, the decision must be made by the aging parent.