“With the IoT, we’re headed to a world where things aren’t liable to break catastrophically – or at least we’ll have a hell of a heads’ up. We’re headed to a world where our doors unlock when they sense us nearby.”
~ Scott Weiss
This quote from famous venture capitalist Scott Weiss highlights how much the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing our lives. It’s not just about connected devices and smart refrigerators. It’s about making smart home technology a norm. And it can be a norm that makes independent living for seniors much better in the long run. Here are a few ways smart home technology can directly benefit seniors living at home.
#1: Smart Home Technology Makes Independent Living Safer
Caring for seniors living at home can be both rewarding and challenging. With independent living, safety is always a concern. What happens when a senior loved one needs to be left alone, for example?
By introducing smart home technology into the mix, you can help ensure that your loved one is safe while home alone. The IoT means that seniors living at home can easily access everything they need – from the medicine cabinet to the front door to a voice command for emergency services.
#2: Alerts & Real Time Monitoring Make Independent Living More Realistic
More immediately, smart home technology and IoT makes independent living both safer and more realistic. Tech innovations now allow the control, monitoring and reception of alerts from physical devices in the home. With the touch of a button on an app, you can control appliances, security systems and more.
Users can also receive alerts on heart rate, blood pressure and a host of other health factors. You can have a safe amount of control over the home while letting your senior loved one live their independent life.. With this level of innovation, there is less of a necessity of back and forth.
#3: IoT Makes Independent Living More Accessible
In the past, there were generally two options: moving seniors into assisted living homes or having them move in directly. Smart home technology empowered by IoT and a fine tuned UX means seniors can access the tools they need to remain independent. There is no need for fancy tech that is difficult to understand.
What other ways do you see the promise of smart home technology taking hold for seniors living at home?
Brooklin Nash writes about the latest tools and small business trends. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading YA dystopian fiction (with guilty pleasure) and cooking.
If you or someone you care for has Parkinson’s disease, you may encounter a wide array of symptoms on a day to day basis from tremors to muscle rigidity to slowed movements, balance problems, and speech changes. Non-physical symptoms can accompany the disease as well including trouble sleeping, mood changes, urinary urgency, constipation, even loss of smell.
When it comes to managing this type of chronic autoimmune condition, in addition to a comprehensive treatment planned laid out by your doctor, assistive equipment can go a long way in simplifying daily life:
Advancements in science and technology have made their way into the kitchen market providing relief to people who may otherwise have difficulty feeding themselves. Adaptive utensils are specially designed to help counteract tremors someone with Parkinson’s may have in their hand when holding a fork or spoon, for example.
Other helpful dining aids may include weighted cups and bowls (that are less likely to tip over), and plate guards or high-rimmed plates that prevent food from falling out.
People with Parkinson’s are at increased risk of falling so supportive equipment around the bed can definitely make this fall-prone environment safer. Install bed rails to aid seniors with limited mobility or try a super pole that stands fixed beside the bed or a pull strap that connects to the end of the bed and makes it easier to sit up.
Bedside commodes can also simplify the task of night time toileting, especially for Parkinson’s sufferers with incontinence issues.
As dexterity and finger nimbleness falls prey to the contracture of muscles and joints in the hands, getting dressed on your own can become difficult. This key marker of independence may be retained in some respects with dressing aids that allows a person with Parkinson’s to dress themselves. Tools like button hooks, zipper pulls, one-handed belts, dressing sticks, and shoe horns can all go a long way to promoting self-reliance even as the disease progresses.
Maintaining personal hygiene has the ability to improve your sense of confidence and your mood, no matter what Parkinson’s brings your way. Equipment that makes bathing safer and reduces the risk of falling includes shower transfer chairs, grab bars (inside and outside the shower), and non-slip bath mats. Additional bathroom tools may include weighted holders for toothbrushes, razors, etc. as well as removable shower heads and long-handled bath sponges and scrubbers.
Home care is often preferred by seniors. An overwhelming 90% of seniors want to age in place. It is also affordable compared to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. However, hiring a caregiver may still be out of reach for many families.
1. Home Care Agency
A popular option for hiring a caregiver is through a home care agency. Hiring a caregiver through an agency allows seniors to have personalized one-on-one attention and flexible pricing (choosing less hours means saving on costs). You are also not responsible for any employer obligations like payroll tax and being held liable for any injuries that happen at home. However, this means that agencies pass administrative costs to the family which may still be unaffordable.
2. Family Caregivers
Did you know that there are an estimated 40 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States? Family caregivers perform a wide range of duties like paying bills, running errands, and helping with light household chores. Many family caregivers dedicate on average 20 hours a week towards providing care and some take time off work as well—resulting in a loss of earnable income. While being a family caregiver can save you money, your loved one may have needs that go beyond what you can support.
3. Local Classifieds
You can hire a caregiver directly through your local classifieds or online directory. Hiring a caregiver directly, and not through an agency can provide more affordable home care for your loved one, but there are some extra hurdles. You will need to personally interview and screen potential candidates. This involves meeting with the caregiver, verifying their references, and performing a background check. If your loved one needs care immediately, this process may be difficult and time consuming to do properly.
After learning about using eCaregivers, you can find private caregivers with rates starting at $10-$14/hour for care, versus $20-$24 with an agency, helping you save thousands of dollars in a year while still ensuring quality home care for your loved one. All of the caregivers on eCaregivers have passed a background check so you have a peace of mind that you’re hiring a vetted caregiver for your loved one.
About the Author
Peter Kang is a writer for eCaregivers. He is inspired by his caregiver experience with his late grandfather and role model, a Korean War veteran, to help families find affordable care for their loved ones. Follow Peter on Facebook and Twitter.
With summer upon us, we are happy to get out and enjoy the change from the long Indiana winter. However, prolonged exposure to that bright sunshine can have dire consequences for us as we age. The risk of skin cancer is higher in older adults, and the major risk factor is sun exposure. Although there are other less serious forms of skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell), malignant melanoma is the most dangerous kind, accounting for more than 8,700 deaths per year (American Cancer Society, 2013).
As we age and our skin becomes more fragile, sun exposure can take its toll. You can be proactive in preventing skin cancer by following some simple tips:
Wear sunscreen when out in the sun and choose SPF 15 or higher every day, but choose SPF 30 with a waterproof barrier for long exposure. Avoid tanning booths. Wear clothing and hats that protect you from exposure. Ask your primary care provider to perform a skin check with your yearly physical, or visit your dermatologist if you have concerns. Know your own skin and check it regularly using the ABCDE method. Report any suspicious lesions to your doctor right away for follow-up.
The ABCDE method can help us remember the warning signs of skin cancer:
A = Asymmetry (if a line is drawn down the middle of the lesion, the two sides do not match)
B = Border (the borders of the lesion tend to be irregular)
C = Color (a variety of colors is present; the lesion is not uniform in color)
D = Diameter (MM lesions are usually larger)
E = Evolving (note any changes in shape or size, or any bleeding)
The good news is that even the most serious kind of skin cancer can be nearly 100% curable when detected early.
So, enjoy the sun, but be sun smart as well!
If you are one of the over 40 million family caregivers in the U.S. providing care for an aging parent or relative, chances are you wear several hats including chauffeur, insurance wrangler, cook, housekeeper, pharmacist, nurse, and therapist. The truth is that many seniors struggle with feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression, and it falls to their care network to help them stay positive and seek help.
Everything from hearing loss to mobility impairment can strip a senior of their sense of independence and self-reliance, so finding creative and fun ways to boost their mood is a must. Check out these top ideas:
Give Their Mobility Aid a Makeover
If having to use a cane, walker, or wheelchair has your loved one feeling down in the pits, help them embrace the situation more positively by upgrading their mobility aid with some helpful add-ons. Personalize your wheelchair or your loved one’s with helpful accessories like bags, baskets, and hanging pockets that make toting around personal items easier. Decorate their cane or walker with a bright-colored paint job. Add padded grip covers and cushions for extra comfort or don their cane with a helpful wrist strap.
Few things fill the heart quite like helping others. Even if your aging parent isn’t able to get out of the house to help at the food pantry or join the walk-a-thon, they can still make a difference in the lives of others right from home. Online tutoring, making a meal for a local children’s shelter or neighbor in need, joining a local political group to make calls or do neighborhood canvassing, putting together bags of toiletries, water, socks, and snacks for homeless people . . . the ideas are endless. Serving others helps to re-instill a sense of purpose in your loved one’s life and can be just the silver lining they’re looking for.
Video Chat Faraway Friends and Family
Maintaining strong social connections and interacting with other people goes a long way to fighting depression in seniors as well as keeping their minds sharp. It’s not easy to make long trips to see faraway relatives and friends, and talking on the phone isn’t always the clearest experience. Set up a free, live video chat for your loved one instead with services like Skype or Google+ Hangout. You will need a webcam/mic if you don’t already have one installed on your computer, however, it’s super easy to video call someone over Wifi (for free!) and chat with them face to face.
Listen to Music
A growing body of research is pointing to more and more benefits when it comes to the idea of ‘music therapy’. Music has not only been shown to help thwart motor impairment associated with conditions like Parkinson’s disease, but it can also improve mood and help relieve stress. For older adults with dementia, listening to nostalgic music from their younger years may help stimulate stronger memory and cognitive functioning too. Free services like Spotify and Pandora let you create playlists of songs based on genres and artists your loved one enjoys, try them out today!
It is no surprise that baby boomers are entering the elderhood phase of their lives, which often means seeking medical care or advice for themselves or for their aged parents. The role of the Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) is quickly becoming more relevant as America’s older population is expected to grow from 15% to 24% over the next 30 years. With life expectancy increasing from 68 years old in 1950 to 79 years in 2013, the expertise of the AGNP is more valuable than ever as healthcare faces this “Silver Tsunami.”
AGNPs are trained to provide care across the continuum of adulthood from young adults to the frail elderly as a reflection to changes made to the national certification exams in 2013, which combined the adult and gerontological specialties into one certification. However, many AGNPs and still-certified Gerontological NPs choose to specialize in the elderly population, (those older than 65) with specific focus areas or competencies related to the aging adult.
Nurse practitioners who specialize in adult and gerontological care can further their specialization by choosing a primary care or acute care concentration. No matter the setting, the AGNP provides multi-disciplinary care to treat the entire individual, not just their health concerns. As there are many facets of aging to consider, the AGNP addresses the physical, psychological and social aspects of aging not only to treat conditions, but to educate patients and the community on preserving function and preventing injury or further decline. Depending on the state in which they practice, AGNPs typically work with a supervising physician under standardized procedures in order to assess, diagnose, treat and prescribe medications.
Many studies have shown that patients are very happy to receive care from nurse practitioners in a variety of settings, including palliative care. Education regarding options for end-of-life care is typically managed by AGNPs in the acute care, post-acute care, home care, long-term care and primary care settings. As educating patients and populations is a cornerstone of the nursing profession, advanced-practice nurses such as AGNPs offer expert knowledge to guide patients and their families through the challenging maze of end-of-life planning. The role of the Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner has never been more valid or necessary as the U.S. begins to feel the surge of the silver tsunami.
Catherine Burger, BSN, MSOL, RN is a board-certified nurse executive leader and contributing writer for www.registerednursing.org.