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Guest Blog: When Should Seniors Stop Driving?

On a list of the greatest fears many seniors have, failing health, hearing loss, and falling often rise to the top. One major fear that few actually talk to their families and doctors about though is losing the ability to drive. In fact, a new AAA study found that over 80 percent of older drivers never discuss their safe driving ability at all with their care networks or medical professionals.

For many seniors, driving is the hallmark characteristic that defines independence. Being able to drive allows seniors to travel, to run their own errands, to get out of their house and socialize. Losing that ability to drive doesn’t just strip those things away, but it also requires seniors to ask for help and coordinate transportation, all of which can leave them feeling like a burden on their caregivers.

What is the danger then? Well not only do older drivers who have outlived their ability to safely drive a vehicle endanger their passengers and other drivers on the road, they put themselves at increased risk for injury and even death. Because older adults typically have more fragile bones and higher rates of chronic illness that can complicate an injury recovery, they are more likely to get hurt or even die in a car crash than younger adults.

Talking About Driving with Your Aging Parent

The bottom line is that simply conducting a dialogue about driving doesn’t mean a senior will lose their license or be held back from driving. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Just as using a cane for walking empowers a senior with mobility limitations to keep moving, talking about safe driving can empower seniors to take helpful steps that keep them safe on the road.

For example, the Senior Driving division of AAA offers loads of helpful resources, tools, and information that connect seniors with local refresher courses on defensive road wise driving, help them understand how medicine can affect safe driving, and much more.

If you need to have a conversation with your aging parent about safe driving, experts recommend approaching it from a place of compassion and empathy. Instead of accusing them of being an unsafe driver, confess the concerns you feel about their safety on the road and ask them about their own perspective. Discuss helpful driving tools, safe driving refresher classes, and even consider attending a senior driving expo together.

By |2020-07-19T21:44:42-05:00July 24th, 2020|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: When Should Seniors Stop Driving?

Essential Tools for Seniors with Parkinson’s

A senior couple. The wife is caring for the husband.

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:

Adaptive Utensils
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.

Bedroom Equipment
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.

Dressing Aids
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.

Bathing Tools
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.

By |2020-06-22T11:43:50-05:00July 10th, 2020|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Essential Tools for Seniors with Parkinson’s

8 Fun Activities for Seniors with Mobility Issues

Do mobility issues have your aging parent down in the dumps? Losing the ability to get around independently can definitely strike a blow to confidence and wellbeing levels. Mobility issues don’t need to stifle a senior’s sense of purpose or enjoyment of life though. Don’t miss these 8 fun activity ideas for seniors with mobility issues:

Board games – bring on the board games and give your loved one a cognitive boost. Everything from cards to Scrabble to Monopoly, Dominos, and Checkers is a great place to start. Stock up on gently used board games from local re-stores like Goodwill and invite friends and family to join in on the fun.

Puzzles – putting puzzles together stimulates critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well as engages spatial awareness and concentration. Don’t reserve your fun to jigsaw puzzles either; games like Sudoku and Jenga have similar brain-boosting effects too!

Cooking – maybe standing at the stove to stir a big pot isn’t feasible, but mixing a green salad at a lower table is. Or helping scoop cookie dough onto a baking sheet. Cooking with your aging parent not only gives them something fun to do but helps them feel like a productive contributor in the home too.

Chair exercises – routine workouts are critical for all older adults, even people who are limited to canes, walkers or wheelchairs. Physical fitness helps prevent unwanted weight gain and lifestyle diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Guides to chair exercises and exercises for those recovering from injuries like fractured hips can be found online.

Art project – get the creative juices flowing and find an art project geared towards your loved one’s interests. Perhaps it is painting on a canvas, collaging, knitting, coloring, making jewelry, or even simply framing family photos – the act of creating something can is truly invigorating.

Planting – potting plants is easy and accessible when your loved one can sit in a chair at a table. Mixing soil, placing plants inside pots, and even snipping dead leaves or picking herbs are monthly activities that your loved one can do with minor assistance.

Reading – Nothing beats a good book. If your loved one is unable to hold a book or see words on a page, audiobooks are a great alternative (and can be borrowed for free at your local library).

Video chatting – for seniors with mobility limitations, social isolation is a very prevalent and dangerous reality. Technology makes it easy, however, to connect with friends and family near and far via free services like Skype, Google Hangouts or Facetime. You simply need a smartphone or webcam with speakers for your computer.

By |2020-06-22T11:43:02-05:00July 7th, 2020|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on 8 Fun Activities for Seniors with Mobility Issues

Guest Blog: How the Internet Has Changed How Society Cares for Seniors

Today’s technology is not only for the young. The digital age has brought with it innovations which aim to benefit seniors. A new age of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has made senior care better, more efficient and less costly. It aims to eliminate isolation, which has been a major concern for many years. It has provided caregivers in the healthcare industry a tool to allow seniors to be more independent and remain connected with friends and family.

When it comes to senior care, the IoT is revolutionizing the way seniors are living their lives. Assisted living communities are using the internet to connect and humanize senior care. Communities such as the K4Community leverage technology to make seniors’ life simpler, healthier and happier. These communities integrate IoT wearables such as watches or belt clips. They also have floor sensors that provide real-time monitoring to prevent falls and other injuries. Other types of sensors monitor heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels to immediately alert caregivers when there’s an emergency.

To lead a healthy, active lifestyle, IoT devices go beyond the standard activity trackers. Devices are more targeted towards the individual’s needs, alerting them when to rest, whether they’re standing up or down too fast and when to give their knees a break. Food and hydration is also considered, with wearables reminding seniors when it’s time to eat and how often to drink to maintain proper hydration. When it comes to sleep, sensors can also alert caregivers whether a senior needs help getting in and out of bed. With the internet being all about connection, keeping seniors in contact with friends and family is one of the best things the IoT can provide to improve senior health. Seniors are spending more time online, using social networks and other platforms to connect with loved ones.

This trend is only going to get more prevalent. Research shows that using the internet makes people happier and increases life satisfaction, especially for seniors. A study published in the Journal of Computers in Human Behavior shows that life satisfaction was much higher among seniors who use the internet than those who don’t. The ability to keep in touch and prevent the cycle of loneliness and isolation in an advanced age has done more for senior health than any medication. It is no wonder then that internet use among seniors rose from 8% to 34% between 2003 and 2012, as cited by the Journalist’s Resource. The empowerment that the internet and technology have given seniors is invaluable to their health. Such developments revolutionized the way society and healthcare providers care for the elderly.

With Baby Boomers contributing to an increasingly aging population, the need for caregivers and connected assisted living communities is becoming greater than ever. In order to provide quality healthcare to seniors, healthcare is not just about technology but also about the people who provide it. Maryville University details how general healthcare workers can specialize in senior services to provide care for an aging population. Healthcare and senior care are becoming two of the fastest-growing industries. Boosted with the aid of technology and IoT devices, they provide a way to create a better quality of life for seniors, while reducing the costs of healthcare at the same time.

Article submitted by Tanya Olivers

By |2020-06-22T11:41:42-05:00July 2nd, 2020|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: How the Internet Has Changed How Society Cares for Seniors

5 Pieces of Technology Seniors Need

Seniors are using technological gadgets today more than ever according to a 2012 research. However, seniors have a long way ahead before they are tech savvy. Good technology can keep your senior loved ones engaged, connected and active both mentally and physically. Again, technology enhances safety for seniors living at home. Check out these five pieces of technology.

1. Tablets, iPads and Smartphones

Your senior loved one needs to have either or all of these devices. They are simple devices really that you may not even realize are needed. Tablets are iPads can be installed with games and apps that promote the mental fitness of your older parent. Seniors can also view photos, learn languages, listen to music and stay connected with people.

2. Medical alert systems

Medical alert systems are a must-have for all seniors. They are designed as simple smartwatches or bracelets and others are like a key fob that seniors hang around their neck. These systems help you monitor the location of loved ones at all times, it gives them calendar notifications and reminders, detect falls and some even have a panic/help button. Because the systems integrate with your smartphone, you have access to your senior loved ones as long as you have your smartphone.

3. Wireless Internet

Does your senior loved on use the internet? If they do, they will need wireless internet more. Even when a senior does not use the internet, most of the smart devices you install at home do; smart sensors, smart thermostats, smart home monitoring and surveillance systems and even the smartphones use internet. Today, most nursing homes are connected to the internet.

4. Smart Assistive Devices

Assistive technology help seniors stay independent at home and also stay safe. You do not have to get them Amazon’s Alexa but you can have other smart devices to help seniors with daily tasks at home. Besides the obvious technologies like home monitoring and GPS, you can install stove shut-off systems, photo-enhanced phone dialers, smart LED lights, and medication dispensing appliances. These systems come in handy when seniors have cognitive impairment.

5. Fitness Bands

Fitness bands have advanced greatly offering more than just activity stats. Bands such as FitBit, will monitor levels of activity throughout the day, heart rate and even warn when senior vitals are not normal. This way, it is easier to detect when seniors are suffering from a disease and seek medical help. Seeing that these bands can even detect blood sugar, and they are light enough to be worn 24/7, they are great for all seniors.

By |2020-05-27T11:59:47-05:00June 5th, 2020|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on 5 Pieces of Technology Seniors Need
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