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Assistive Devices

Assistive Devices for Seniors In recent years, we’ve seen a wide array of assistive devices for seniors become available.  Some solutions are very simple and others are very high-tech.  The good news is that there are a lot of options.  And the not-so-good news is that there are a lot of options.  It can be difficult to know what assistive devices exist that may be helpful.  And it’s a challenge to know how to choose the right solution. The goal of assistive devices for seniors is to increase capabilities that improve independence, and safety.  Therefore, assistive devices cover a broad range of activities from communication to mobility, personal cares to household chores. Communication The ability to communicate keeps you from becoming isolated.  Advances in technology have given us many ways to connect and stay in touch.  Simpler, large button cell phones are one option.  Computers and tablets have voice recognition for those with difficulty manipulating a mouse or keyboard.  If you have difficulty speaking, there are portable tablets that can be customized with pictures or phrases that you use most often. Assistive devices for the hearing impaired include closed caption telephones and TVs.  Hearing aids come in many forms.   Many hearing aids are now able to tap into  hearing loops in public venues.  Personal sound amplifiers attach to almost any electronic device, which brings you clearer music and dialogue. Mobility Mobility devices cover everything from canes to wheelchairs and stairlifts.  The variety in walker designs is staggering.    Wheel chairs can be manual and basic, electric and complicated, or something in-between.   You can get crutches, orthotics, a walker/cane hybrid or a...

What is an End-of-Life Doula?

An End-of Life (EOL) Doula.. also known as a death doula, provides comfort and support to a dying person and his or her loved ones.   The term doula has long been used to describe a person trained to provide advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and after childbirth.  End-of-Life (EOL) Doulas are non-medical people trained to share resource information, education and companionship with those nearing the end of life.  As a birth doula helps usher a child into the world, an end-of-life (EOL) doula helps usher individuals out of the world. In earlier times, most people died at home, surrounded by loved ones.  With the advance of western medicine came the move to increased hospitalization and nursing home care.  Although most people would prefer to die at home, many will die in hospitals or nursing homes.   Today there is a cultural shift underway that is returning us to more natural death and dying at home.  Folks near the end of life are reimagining what death can look like for themselves and their families. Doulas work with Hospice providers Far from replacing hospice care or medical support, EOL doulas work with other providers to complement their efforts.  All wish to achieve the best possible death for the client. Therefore, EOL doulas focus on being present for the dying and filling gaps in the hospice and medical care support systems.   While hospice workers focus primarily on the physical needs of the dying, there is strong recognition among them that pain management is not enough.  The spirit must be attended to as well as the body. ...

Scams Against Seniors

Scams Against Seniors Seniors are often targeted by con artists. Most scams against seniors are conducted through the phone, mail or internet.   Realizing many seniors may have money, but are less tech savvy, criminals see opportunity.  Women over 60 who live alone are a prime target for scammers. The FBI’s Common Fraud Schemes webpage  provides tips on how you can protect yourself and your family from fraud. Financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century.” Scams against seniors are especially common because: Senior citizens are most likely to have savings, to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists. Older folks were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Scammers exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up. Older Americans are less likely to report a scam.  They don’t know who to report it to, and may be ashamed at having been scammed.  They don’t want relatives to think they can no longer handle their own financial affairs. Financial scams can be difficult to prosecute, so they’re considered a “low-risk” crime for the con artist. With no face-to-face interaction, and no paper trail, these scams are hard to trace. Senior citizens are more interested in products promising better health and vitality. With on-going development of new cures and vaccinations, it is easy to convince a hopeful target that a “miracle product” may do what is claimed. Telemarketing scams against seniors Scammers use fake telemarketing calls to prey on older people, who...

Maintaining Brain Power

As we age, many of us look for ways of improving memory and maintaining brain power. With the increasing prevalence of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, you may see every memory slip as a possible sign of decline.  However, research indicates that lifestyle factors can impact your brain’s ability to remember facts and events.   Therefore, you may be able to give your brain power a boost by implementing some of the following suggestions. Memory, like muscle strength, requires you to “use it or lose it.”     The more you work out your brain, the better you’ll be able to process and remember information. There are a lot of brain games on the market, but they have not been shown to boost your brain power beyond getting better at brain games.  The best brain exercises break your routine and challenge you to use and develop new brain pathways.  So getting better at the same thing is not necessarily going to improve your memory. To strengthen the brain, you need to keep learning and developing new skills.   Therefore, you want to find activities that are challenging, enjoyable and give you satisfaction while building skills. Think of things you’ve always wanted to try, like learning to play guitar, taking an art class, playing chess, ballroom dancing, or mastering your golf swing.  Any of these activities can help you improve your memory, as long as they keep you challenged and engaged. Physical activity is good for the brain.    The National Academy of Science notes that fitness may be the best tool we have against cognitive impairment.  Aerobic exercise is...

CAREGIVERS: CHOOSE WISELY

CAREGIVERS NEED TO CHOOSE WISELY Caregivers have options for giving care.   It is important to choose wisely to insure the best and safest way to deliver that care. You, as the caregiver, may be a neighbor, friend, or family member who is able to provide some caregiving for free.  Or maybe you receive a stipend or some form of hourly compensation.  While this arrangement may work for a while, it may not be a good long-term solution. GETTING PAID Choose wisely:  While you didn’t mind helping out a bit for free, the need for your help may have increased.  Now you may be sacrificing other income to provide care and need to ask for payment to cover your own expenses.   Payment arrangements between family and friends can be tricky.  So in order to have a clear understanding of expectations and compensation, it is best to put everything in writing.   A professional caregiving agency will have a signed agreement for services to make sure everyone is on the same page. TRAINING Choose wisely: Perhaps your friend or family member needed only occasional assistance with cleaning, a meal or companionship.  Now that need may have grown to include help with walking, dressing and bathing.  At this point, you may be feeling out of your element and concerned about the safety of your loved one and yourself.   Therefore, a wise choice may be to work with an agency that can provide training in best practices. BENEFITS Choose wisely:  Working for yourself sounds attractive, but it can have its drawbacks.  If you get hurt at work, who will pay for your medical expenses? ...